Cyberpunk 2036

Episode 20 The Last Long Rider

May 13th, 2038

Zen is hanging out at the Forlorn Hope catching up with Krissy and Roxie and comparing exploits. About 9:30 PM, Night City’s SPARS team storms in. Police in body armor begin passing out leaflets to each of the tables.

Zen takes a look at one and sees two photographs on it. The first is a Hispanic man in tiger stripe fatigues with the name Estevez on his name patch. Zen also notices that unit patch on his sleeve is for LRT-601. The second photo is of an armored up cyborg shooting in a wide arc in what appears to be a police or traffic cam video. The date stamp indicates it happened today.

One of the officers, a formidable looking man in body armor and a tight buzz cut takes to the stage and begins using the microphone. He indicates that the second photo is of a cyborg that went on a killing spree down at the Calypso Club earlier this evening. Apparently a deal went bad and he snapped. Anytime a person appears to have had a cyber-psychotic breakdown, its up to him and his SPARS team to bring the ‘borg down, one way or the other. He believes that the cyborg in the second picture is also the person in the first picture, Enrico Estevez, a South American War vet. The officer knows that the Forlorn Hope is a popular hangout for those vets, so he figures this is a good place to start looking. He asks if anyone has any information and is not surprised when he gets no response. He then reminds the crowd that a person suffering from Cyber-psychosis has lost all humanity and all control, and is no longer their normal selves. He also reminds them that he is authorized to take any measures he deems necessary to bring Estevez in, including using lethal force against anyone who gets in his way. On that ominous note, he and his team depart the Forlorn Hope.

Jonathan “Saito” David, who has been running some errands downtown, stops at the Forlorn Hope just in time to see the SPARS leaving. Intrigued, he enters as the John “Professor” Freeman starts calling off people’s names, including Zen’s, and asks them to follow him in back. Saito decides to tag along.

In the back are gathered familiar faces from previous jobs. Roxy and Krissy are there, as well as Marlo and Hollywood Henderson. The two bouncers IcMax “Ice Pick” Johnson and Ringo are there as well. A few unfamiliar faces are there as also there.

Professor indicates that Rico Estevez was a member of the Long Riders, just like himself, William “Dollar Bill” Dolarhyde, Icepick, and Ringo. Back in those days, Rico was a good and compassionate man. Unlike most of the unit that ended up here after the war, they lost contact with Rico. Rumor had him working as a mercenary, possibly living in Miami. If the cyborg in the photo is Rico, the Professor wants to do everything he can to help him. If Rico really has gone past the point of no return, he wants him to die at the hands of a friend, not some SPARS hit squad.

He is now asking for everyone’s help. He can’t pay anybody, but some people here do owe him. Zen and Saito can’t help but notice that he was looking at them when he uttered those words. He also states he wants to help Rico, but not at the cost of anyone else’s lives. He says that the SPARS leader is named McCarty, and that he will make good on his threat and roll over anyone who gets in his way. The Professor emphasizes the importance of avoiding a confrontation with the SPARS.

With that out of the way, he gets down to business. He says that McCarty indicated that the incident at the Calypso Club was the result of a deal gone sour. Since everyone Rico knows in Night City is currently in this room, its safe to assume that he was there on a business deal. The first step is to figure out with whom he was meeting with. The Professor knows that the Calypso Club is a popular hangout for the Blue Angles, a smuggling team, Union Force, a mercenary military unit, and the Morks, one of Night City’s bizarre poser gangs. The Professor divides the room into teams, each assigned to following a lead. Saito and Zen, along with Ringo, are given the job of driving out to the old Petrochem refinery, where Union Force is headquartered and find out what they know.

Zen places a quick call to Riptide, who is currently relaxing at home. He loads up all of the gear that he can fit into the van and drives to the Forlorn Hope, where he picks the other three up.

At about 11:00 PM, they arrive at the Union Force HQ. They pull up to the gate, but the guard booth appears to be empty. Closer inspection reveals that it seems to have acquired some recent bullet holes. Taking a look inside reveals two dead guards. Their pistols are still in their holsters and their M-16s, still racked. Riptide forces open the rolling gate and gets inside the booth. The bodies are still above room temperature, so the hit happened recently.

They then make their way across the compound to the main building. Zen finds the door unlocked and steps inside. She immediately has to step back out as she is greeted by a hail of gunfire. Zen is able to convince the person, named Sid, to cease fire and talk.

Sid indicates that a man named Stringer was working as a liaison between Union Force and its employer for a job in Indonesia. Stringer and their commander, Nate Ryder didn’t get along from day one. Things were coming to a head when the two of them decided to go over to the Calypso Club to talk things out. A few hours later, Stringer came back by himself, and then without warning, opened fire. Sid estimates that they have 20 currently dead here at the base.

The team seems to be on the right track. Ringo confirms this when he says that Stringer is a handle that Rico had frequently used. Zen asks Sid what he knows about Stringer. He knows that Stringer is staying at the EZ Overnighter Luxury Coffins. Beyond that, he knows little. Zen gives him her contact information and they then head out for the EZ Overnighter.

Close to midnight, the team arrives at the EZ Overnighter. The clerk confirms that there is a heavily modified solo staying on sight, but states that it is against company policy to reveal where tenants are staying. Zen and Riptide each give him $100, which helps convince him to make an exception. The clerk tells them that he is staying in coffin 121.

They head to coffin bunker #1 and find coffin 21. Saito positions himself in an overgrown lot next door that gives him line of fire on the bunker. Riptide uses a key he got from the clerk to open the door, but as he is opening it, he detects that the door is rigged. Luckily he is able to stop himself before triggering the mine that was wired to the door. Ringo is able to remember enough of his demolition skills to disarm the trigger and allow them to open the door.

Inside that find some personal gear and a photo taped to the ceiling. The photo is of LRT-601, posing for the camera while in the jungle. The team can recognize younger versions of the Professor and others from the Forlorn Hope.

Then they notice a cyborg emerging from the shadows on the north side of the facility. Ringo recognizes the man as Rico. Rico immediately opens fire with his Militech Renegade. Ringo dives into the coffin while Riptide runs to a nearby maintenance shed. Zen is not able to get out of the line of fire, but her armor protects her.

While Zen tries to get out of the line of fire, Ringo yells at Rico to stop shooting. Luckily, Rico recognizes his old squad mate and ceases fire. Ringo is able to convince Rico to come to their position. Once there, they are able to talk.

Rico does not appear to have gone cyber-psychotic, but he seems to be right on that edge. He confirms that he was working as a liaison for a job with Union Force. He did not get along with Nate Ryder, who seemed to have contempt for South Am Vets. The two were basically ordered by the Union Force members to work out their problems before they went forward with the job. So the two went to Nate’s favorite hangout, the Calypso Club. But once there, Nate started in on him again and basically he told Rico he needed to shut up and take it. Rico finally snapped and went after Nate, regardless of who got in his way.

After years of killing and all of the cybernetic enhancements that have chipped away his humanity, the fact that many innocents were caught in the crossfire seems to bother him little. All he could think about was killing Nate. The tragic irony is that out of all the deaths he caused, Nate was not one of them.

Rico is clearly in trouble, not just legally, but also mentally. He is in a heap of trouble and begins to despair. Then Ringo tells him that the Professor is still around, and wants to help. Learning the their old unit leader is at the Forlorn Hope, Rico agrees to go.

Just as the team gets ready to leave the EZ Overnighter, an Arasaka Combat 10 APC rolls onto the lot. The Union Force label is emblazoned on the sides. The back ramp opens and 30 armed men, including Nate Ryder pile out. The team is caught in the open. There are able to find cover, but not before the Union Force men spot them and open fire.

A massive firefight ensues. The team is outnumbered six to one, but they have a better position, and a cyborg on their side. Saito moves up to a better position and begins sniping opponents moving across the lot. Ringo and Rico take the north side. Zen and Riptide try and hold the middle.

Several of Forcers spot Saito’s position and begin to try and flank him. A group of Forcers, including Nate Ryder, moves up the middle, trading shots with Zen and Riptide. Planning to take down a cyborg, the Forcers are all armed with armor piercing rounds. Nate throws a frag grenade right on Riptide’s position, but the grenade fails to fully detonate and Riptide is shaken, but unharmed.

On the north side, a majority of the Forcers move on Ringo and Rico, and are able to draw them into crossfire. Ringo is badly wounded, but Rico’s metal plating holds up, even against the AP rounds. He is able to drag Ringo to safety, and then goes guns a blazing against the Forcers.

Saito has to change position as the flankers on the south side as begin to move in on him. In the middle, Riptide is able to wound Nate, though lightly. Nate is able to score a hit on Riptide. His weapon is armed with specially made penetrator rounds, which are normally used against lightly armored vehicles. It rips through Riptide’s armor, and he goes down.

On the north side, Rico is making easy work of his enemies. His SAW rips apart the Forcers while their own AP rounds are barely scratching him. Finally, the Forcers radio forward the APC, which opens fire on Rico with its 40mm cannon. The first shot misses, blasting apart a coffin. Rico is able to get out of the way of the second shot and he moves himself close enough to the APC that the turret cannon cannot target him.

The APC crew instead uses the .50 caliber machine gun. They cannot target Rico with that either, but they can draw a bead on Zen, still positioned in the middle. The half-inch rounds slam into her. Her armor holds, but it is torn up, and she can already feel her whole body turning purple from the bruising.

The south flankers throw a grenade on to Saito’s position. He is able to avoid the blast. He is unable to continue supporting Zen in the middle, as he must now address the soldiers that are now in position to attack him.

Rico moves around the back of the APC and comes face to face with Nate Ryder. Nate tries to bring him down with his penetrator rounds, but Rico’s enhanced reflexes are faster, and Rico guns down the Union Force leader.

With Nate dead, and three quarters of their men dead or wounded, the Union Force calls a retreat. The APC moves to hold the middle as the remaining men, and whomever they can drag, get into the APC.

As soon as the APC moves off of the property, Zen helps Riptide back to his feet and Rico picks up Ringo. Saito joins them just as they hear the sounds of sirens off in the distance.

They quickly pile into the van and fight the temptation to race away at full speed. Instead they drive away at a casual pace. They get only a couple of blocks away, when they see the SPARS team racing to the EZ Overnighter.

They take Rico to the Forlorn Hope, where the Professor and Dollar Bill are waiting. Dollar Bill already has resources in place to get Rico out of town. Along, with Ringo, they then pay a visit to Trapper John to get stitched up.

Rico appears to be safe now, and hopefully he gets the help he needs from his friends. But what about the team? The SPARS will find Union Force members at the EZ Overnighter. The Union Force has Zen’s cell phone number. How long before Lt. McCarty and the SPARS are knocking on the their door?