Cyberpunk 2036

Episode 31 - The Arasaka Brainworm

April 29th, 2039

Zen gets a call from Greg Mystron, her former employer over at Infocomp. He indicates that the corporation may be interested in hiring her back. With Infocomp being such a great resource, she decides to go to the meeting.

Unfortunately, the meeting takes an ugly turn early on. Infocomp has been investigating the theft from its Data Haven a short while back and came up with some interesting leads. A couple of those leads point to Zen being involved. The one piece of circumstantial evidence that they show her is camera footage of her making an escape at gunpoint from the warehouse facility right across the street from the OTEC facility where the helicopter was stolen. Infocomp was confident they would have proof of who engineered the theft shortly.

Greg then explains that Infocomp actually has need for a team that is capable of breaking into such a high security facility. For serviced rendered, they would suspend their investigation, a leave it as unsolved.

Zen meets up with the rest of the team. She explains to them the situation. She also explains that they gave her few details on the job other than it involves getting into and back out of a high security facility. If they agree to take the job, they are to meet a fixer named Blue Diamond at the Western Bar. After some discussion, they agree. They also decide to invite Ripper, as they figure they can use the extra help.

April 30th, 2039

The team meets with Blue Diamond at the Western Bar. He explains that his employer has a mole working at Biotechnica’s Johnston Atoll Facility. During their last communication, the mole, one Johann Brinkmann, indicated that he had some important information to get to them. However, their usual form of communication has been cut off, so they need someone to go in, make contact with Dr. Brinkmann, and bring the information back out.

The Johnston Atoll is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Its closest neighbors are Hawaii and the Midway Freehold. The facility is used by Biotechnica for its most dangerous biological experiments. The team agrees on a price for services rendered, and parts ways with Blue Diamond.

Ripper contacts his man inside Biotechnica. His contact says little is known about the specific workings of the facility due to the high clearance level of the work done there. He is able to tell Ripper that there is roughly 600 people on the atoll, between researchers, support staff, and security. The security is run by Arasaka. The Atoll is made up of three small islands plus several floating facilities. Ripper asks for a way onto the Atoll, but his contact has none. He will see what he can do, and get back to Ripper.

Mouse dives the Net and finds the Data Fortress for the Johnston Atoll. He does not try to crack it as whole thing practically screams “Fuck Off”. He is able to find a not so detailed layout of the facility, including the location of the airport on the smallest island. Other than that, there is not much to go on.

Riptide calls Skip Casperson, the man he bought his seaweed from at the Midway Freehold. Skip is able to give him contact information for Cassandra Ellis.

May 1st, 2039

Riptide contacts Colin Fisk, his contact at Arasaka. Colin gives him some important details on the security at the facility. All Arasaka staff there are Korean. They operate patrols around the facility 24/7. The patrols have the authority to stop and search anyone at any time for any reason.

The island has two radar systems, one to watch for ships, and the other for planes. Based on the way they are configured, Colin speculates that a HALO jump would be a possible way to get onto the island undetected. However the timing would have to be perfect. Open the shoot a second too soon, and the radar would spot them. Open a second too late, and the janitor would be scraping them off of the ground.

In addition to the radar, the Atoll also uses hydrophones to listen for small craft on and below the surface. The hydrophones are positioned about 500’ from the island, radiating out.

The islands of the Atoll are ringed with point defense guns, capable of shooting down airplanes and sinking ships. Araksaka tracks any ship that comes within 10 miles of the facility, and will challenge any vessel that comes within two miles of the facility. Any plane or boat leaving the facility without permission will be destroyed.

Ripper than calls Cassandra Ellis. She no longer works for Biotechinca and the relationship did not end well. The bad news is she can’t provide them with any inside help. The good news is she is willing to help them in whatever way she can. One of those ways is that she has a freighter at her disposal called The Wounded Gull. She would be willing to keep the ship within 10 miles of the facility, or even push close to the two mile challenge line if need be.

Ripper gets a call from his Biotechnica contact. It seems that there is a man named Anatole who works the shipping/receiving center at the Johnston Atoll. Anatole is willing to overlook incoming or outgoing packages for the right price.

After a very long debate, a plan is formulated. Mouse will hack into Biotechnica’s Night City Data Fortress and get the team false credentials to get them permission to be on the Island. They will then ship a crate full of gear that they expect to need, to the island via Anatole. Once on the island they will make contact with Dr. Brinkmann and get the information, in whatever form it takes. Everyone but Helios will then fly off the island using their false credentials. Helios will take the information and SCUBA off of the island. He will then rendezvous with the Wounded Gull which will pick him up.

They immediately make arrangements for their gear to be shipped. They send a water and shock proof container, SCUBA gear for Helios, and an assortment of weapons. It will take six days before it is on-site and available to them.

Mouse dives into the Net and attacks the Biotechnica Night City data fortress. He worms his way in, and moves about in full stealth mode. He encounters several ICE programs, but remains invisible to them all. He is able to locate the personnel files for the Night City office and inserts false identities for the team, along with transfer orders for the Johnston Atoll.

May 2nd – 7th, 2039

The team lays low and makes final preparations, including picking up their Biotechnica credentials.

May 8th, 2039

They take the long flight to the Johnston Atoll. There they go through processing, where their credentials are checked and new credentials specific for the Atoll are issued to them. They find that they have clearance to be on the island for one week. They are assigned to the maintenance department, but do not seem to have any assigned duties. The good news is that this means that they have no place to be. They bad news is that this will likely draw suspicion from anyone who examines their information.

They get their room assignments and use the local directory to find Dr. Brinkmann. They are able to locate him, but he lives in a different pod than they do. They then head over to the shipping and receiving area, and Zen signs for the small crate they had shipped.

They find that travel between all locations is done via two-seat personal water craft. They sign them out via their credentials, and sign them back in when they reach their destination. They quickly realize that this means that Arasaka can track their movements about the atoll.

They head to their residential pod. They are assigned three rooms. Riptide and Saito take one. Ripper and Helios take another. Zen finds herself bunking with a woman named Edna Hunter, a botanist.

Zen introduces herself as Kelly Yi, and strikes up a conversation. She learns that Edna is trying to regrow some dead areas on the atoll that have been razed in order to contain past outbreaks.

She gives Zen a general rundown of the facility. The north island contains the solar farm and fuel depot. The southern island contains research labs as well as the Special Materials Lab. All are restricted, especially the Special Materials lab. Interspersed about the atoll are numerous floating platforms, called bubbles. There are nine residential bubbles, 5 office bubbles, a data lab, and shopping center, and the Arasaka security headquarters.

She also advises Zen to have her credentials on her at all times. The Arasaka patrols can and will stop anyone at any time.

Ripper gives Dr. Brinkmann a call. The doctor answers and Ripper introduce himself as John Mark Howell. He indicates that he is new to the facility and that he and Dr. Brinkmann have a mutual friend named Grendal, which is the code word they were told to use to identify themselves. Dr. Brinkmann indicates that he does not know of anyone by that name. Ripper apologizes and hangs up. They decide that perhaps the doctor’s phone is bugged so he opted not to acknowledge them.

May 9th, 2039

Bright and early in the morning, Ripper, Riptide, and Saito head to the doctor’s residential bubble. They hang out on the docks where the water craft are moored. While waiting, they attract the attention of a security patrol. The guards ask for their credentials, in stilted chip-driven English. The three do, and Riptide smooth talks his way out of any suspicion. The guards move on.

Around 7:00 AM, Dr. Brinkmann comes down and waits to check out a water craft. Riptide strikes up a conversation with the doctor, introducing himself as Grendal, a name that does not appear on his ID. Brinkmann recognizes the name, but only from the phone call from the night before. He appears genuinely confused.

Brinkmann then gets on a watercraft and heads to work. Saito checks one out also, and tails him, not to the island with the Special Materials Lab, where they were told he works, but instead to the bubble that houses the Data Lab. The team grows concerned that with intel that they were given is seriously flawed.

Riptide calls Mouse, and in cryptic fashion, indicates that he needs to talk to Mouse in a manner that cannot be monitored. He is not sure if Mouse understood when he hangs up.

In the early afternoon, the team spreads out. Helios goes to the clinic, Ripper heads to the data lab, Zen and Saito head to the offices. Riptide stays in his room, waiting for Mouse to call.

Ripper spots Brinkmann in the cafeteria. The doctor does not seem to recognize him from the residential bubble dock. He is able to shadow Brinkmann back to his lab, which is designated P7. Ripper’s maintenance clearance does not give him access into the lab itself.

About 2:00 in the afternoon, Riptide gets a call from Mouse. Mouse has again hacked the Biotechnica Night City data fortress, and used their own internal data link to gain access to the Johnston Atoll site. He has hacked their internal phone system and is now speaking to Riptide from within the Net. Riptide asks him to find out why Brinkmann is no longer working in the Special Materials Lab.

While he is waiting, an Arasaka patrol shows up to perform a random room inspection. Riptide allows them. He is able to smooth talk his way out of any trouble, and lucky for him, their box of gear is stored in the other room that they had. After the security team leaves, Riptide gets the gear, and begins to hide it throughout their living area.

Mouse calls back a few minutes later. The good news is he was able to learn a few things, including Brinkmaan’s duty schedule. He also learned that Brinkmaan has not worked in the Special Materials Lab since contracting encephalitis. Brinkmaan’s doctor is a Betty Thurston, and his councilor is a woman named Amelthia Lau. When Brinkmann was at the Special Materials Lab, he was working on something called the Gastrophage. Mouse could not find any info on what it is exactly, but apparently, shortly before Brinkmann’s health issue, the CIA started pouring money into the project.

The bad news is that Mouse had a run in with a Hell Hound and now the data fortress was crawling with sysops. He could not find out any more, as he needed to get the hell out of there. He then broke off the call. Riptide could only hope that he got out okay.

Riptide examined the schedule and was surprised to see that Dr. Brinkmaan was scheduled for counseling for four hours everyday. He relayed this information to the rest of the team.

At the clinic, right on schedule at 3:00 PM, Helios observes Brinkmann leave Amelthia Lau’s office. There he remains for two hours. He is then escorted by two Arasaka guards out of the floating facility, onto a patrol boat and taken over to the island that contain the Special Materials Lab. At 7:00 PM, Brinkmann returns to his residential bubble, has dinner in the cafeteria, and then returns to his room.

The team then gets together to compare notes. They know that encephalitis can cause memory loss, which explains why Brinkmann seems to know nothing about the operation to which he is supposed to be a key member.

Was there a way to make him remember, or would the team have to figure out, without his help, what the information was that Brinkmann wanted to get off of the island.

Back in Night City, Jarvic gets a call from Mouse. Mouse says that he has been busted hacking a Biotechnica facility for the team, and they were able to trace his location to his neighborhood. He was going to leave when he noticed that Arasaka security had cordoned off the area. He asks Jarvic to try and get him out.

Jarvic goes to his boss and asks to borrow a ground ambulance. His boss says no, but a hefty bribe gets him to change his mind. Jarvic then drives out to Mouse’s location. When he gets just a couple of blocks away, he comes upon a road block set up by Arasaka.

He tries to fast talk his way past the road block. The security men agree to let him through if one of them goes with him. He agrees to their terms.

As they are driving in, the Arasaka trooper asks why Jarvic is alone and not with a team. As he checks the back, Jarvic injects him with a strong sedative.

He pulls up to the apartment building and tries to sneak around the back. He is stopped by two Arasaka men. When he cannot bluff his way past them, he shoots them with a pulse weapon he has hidden amongst his diagnostic gear.

He then races up the stairs and finds Mouse’s apartment. The two of them meet more troopers when trying to head down the stairs. In the ensuing fire fight, the two security men are knocked out, but Mouse is badly wounded. Jarvic is barely able to revive him and carries him back to the ambulance.

They drive away just as a patrol vehicle pulls up. There is a short car chase that ends when Jarvic is forced to abandon the ambulance and sneak Mouse out of the neighborhood on foot. Once at a safe location, he places a call to his boss, and after an even bigger bribe, he and Mouse are picked up and driven to safety.

May 10th, 2039

Back at the Johnston Atoll, Helios and Ripper spend the better part the day touring the North Island. They checked out how the solar farm and fuel depot are protected. The solar farm had a double fence perimeter with buried ground sensors in between. The depot is protected by a series of point defense turrets.

Riptide begins to socialize in the rec-area of the residential pod, trying to tap into the rumor mill. He learns that several months ago, a team of psychologists, led by Amelthia Lau, came to the island, supposedly to evaluate the mental health of the employees, who work in such an isolated and highly structured environment. Some of the employees suspect that the real purpose of the psych evaluations was to ferret out possible thieves or spies.

In the early afternoon, the team is stopped by an Arasaka patrol. This time they are unable to avoid suspicion and the guard calls in their credentials. He then demands to know why they have no assigned duties. Riptide “admits” that they are taking advantage of a clerical error and have been sloughing off the last couple of days. The disgusted guard orders them to return to their quarters and tells them that all of their access will be suspended until they report to the maintenance office and get their duties assigned.

In the late afternoon, Helios and Ripper go for a swim over to the bubble where Brinkmann lives. After wringing out their clothes as best they can, they break into Dr. Brinkmann’s apartment. They find little of interest except for a couple of photos of him and Dr. Lau, looking very cozy together. In one of the photos, it appears that Brinkmaan has a bandage on the back of his neck, at the base of his skull. They also notice a lack of drugs in his medicine cabinet, odd for someone who recently had a near fatal infection.

They also became aware of several hidden cameras and microphones in his apartment. They quickly leave his apartment and go to the bubble’s electrical room. There they find the Network Video Recorder, disconnect it, and remove it from the facility.

Once back at their own apartment, they hook the NVR up to their terminal. Not being computer experts, they are unable to bypass its password protection. Zen heads down to the rec-area and spots the loneliest computer nerd she can find. The flirting takes minimal effort to get him to agree to go back to her place.

Once there, she shows him the NVR and asks if he can hack it. He is suspicious of why she needs access, but she pours on the charm and he agrees to do it. It only takes him a few minutes to crack the protection. A couple of spiked drinks later, and he is passed out on the floor.

The team looks at the video, going back several weeks to when the cameras and microphones were installed. They see that Amelthia oversaw the installation of the surveillance. They are able to catch her on the microphone saying something about waiting for someone to try and make contact with Brinkmaan.

May 11th, 2039

The team half expects Arasaka troops to bust in their door at any moment. Surely they were aware of the missing NVR. But it never happens, and in the morning, the team finds themselves reporting for duty at the maintenance office. It was there that they learn that the facility is in lockdown, which means that there will be no flights in or out of the atoll until further notice.

Zen and Ripper are assigned to clean up duty at the labs. Riptide and Saito work the warehouses on the West Island. Helios, ironically, is assigned to install the replacement NVR in the bubble habitat where Brinkmann lives.

It turns out that it is also the same habitat where Amelthia lives. After installing the NVR Helios breaks into Amelthia’s apartment. He checks first for surveillance but finds none. He notices that she does not have any pictures of Brinkmann laying around. He does find a safe, but does not have the resources to crack it. He leaves it be and reports his findings to the others.

They decide that Amelthia is the key. Saito and Helios hang out at the market bubble where they can observe the water travel lane between the clinic and her habitat bubble. Zen hangs out in the rec-room of Amelthia’s bubble.

Riptide remains in the rec-room of the team’s habitat to try and dig up some more rumors. He hears some grumbling among techs who were also scheduled to leave on Friday, but now are apparently stuck there due to the lock down. No one knows why the lock down has occurred. Word has leaked of the data breach, but since the source was outside of the Atoll, the lock down really did not make sense.

Around 8:00 PM, Helios and Saito observe Amelthia traveling back to the habitat pods. Eventually Zen observes her enter the pod and head up to her apartment level. Zen briefly considers taking action then and there, but changes her mind.

They meet back at their own apartment to plan their next day.

May 12, 2039

The team members report to their individual jobs. Saito swipes a shipping box from one of the warehouses and takes it to the tool shop. There he places some tools for safe cracking in the box and is able to walk out with them undetected. The team then meets back up in their rooms. They decide to break into Amelthia’s apartment and wait for her there.

Zen travels to the other habitat bubble first. As she waits in the rec-area, she is stopped by an Arasaka guard. He checks her credentials and asks why she is in this habitat. She tells him she is waiting for Jim, the computer nerd from the previous night. The guard seems to buy her story and leaves her alone.

The others then begin to trickle in over the next half hour. By 8:00 PM, all are present, and they head up to Amelthia’s. They break in and wait for her there.

At 8:30, Amelthia arrives. Zen jumps her and quickly chokes her out. By the time she recovers, they have her blindfolded and tied to a chair.

They ask her for the combination to her safe. She is mildly resistant, but then tells them the combination. Inside the safe are a series of data disks. The disks are password protected. She tells them that they are confidential files that she does not want to put on the local system, so she keeps them separate. When she gets back to the mainland, she will turn those files over to her superiors.

The demand to know where the files on Brinkmann are. She indicates those files are all on her computer at her office. She also says that he does not have any implant in his neck.

She indicates that they were curious about Brinkmann’s mysterious, acute case of encephalitis. Safety protocols make is nearly impossible for accidental exposure. They suspected that his infection was intentional, possibly self-inflicted. Security checks and psych evaluations of Brinkmann came up with nothing.

In case Brinkmann had a collaborator, they set up surveillance in his room. This thus far has also produced nothing.

When asked about her relationship with Brinkmann, she said it was short lived. It started after the accident when she started working with him. She ended it, as she felt it was inappropriate.

The answers she gives are not at all what they expected. They had her pegged as the main villain, but that now seems to not be the case. They can detect no deception on her part, but as Zen points out, Amelthia is a highly trained psychologist, and may be manipulating them.

Zen, having a similar physical build to Amelthia, puts on one of her outfits and takes her ID badge. She then checks out a watercraft and heads over to the clinic. Once inside Amelthia’s office, she tries to access Amelthia’s computer. Realizing she does not have the password, she calls back to the apartment and has the guys get it for her.

Once she has the password, she goes through the computer files. She finds Brinkmann’s files, including a list of his implants, but nothing regarding any implant in his neck. She goes through the rest of the office, but finds nothing else of interest. More or less empty handed, she returns to Amelthia’s apartment.

They drug Amelthia and tuck her into bed. They then head down to Brinkman’s apartment. They ring his doorbell. When he answers, Zen pushes him into his living room, and the others follow. Zen chokes him out and drops him to the ground. They quickly secure him.

Saito grabs a knife and reopens the incision in the back of his neck. There is indeed an implant that appears to be wired into his nervous system. It appears to be a custom or prototype unit. What it does, they are not sure. Saito indicates that his first aid skills are not enough to attempt to remove it, as he may well end up killing the doctor instead. They do what limited tests they can, but learn nothing.

Riptide and Saito stay at Brinkmann’s while Ripper and Helios stay at Amelthia’s. Zen heads over to Jim, the computer tech’s room. She convinces him to hack the encryption on Amelthia’s data disks. Once done, she looks through the files and sees information regarding the device in Brinkmann’s head. It appears to be something called a Brainworm and can prevent a person from accessing certain parts of their memories. Zen has Jim burn copies of the files. She then goes to bed with Jim.

The others wait for a few hours. When Zen does not check back in, they head back over to their own habitats.

May 13, 2039

Just as everyone is ready to turn in, Zen arrives with the unencrypted files. It appears that enough information is on the disk to allow someone with the proper resources to reconstruct the Brainworm.

Although they are fairly certain that this is not information that Brinkman was attempting to smuggle off of the atoll, they decide to act as if it is. They decide they have little hope of figuring out what it was exactly the Brinkman was trying to sell, so they decide to use the Brainworm as a proxy.

Helios suits up in his wetsuit, and they place the data in a waterproof container. He then drops into the water beneath the shadows of the habitat and begins his long swim towards the wounded gold.

When he gets about 1000 feet away from the atoll, his movements in the water get picked up on the hydrophones. A patrol boat and an AV-4 fly out to his position and begin to search the water. Luckily for Helios, he noticed them coming in time and he dives down deeper to avoid their searching. After about 20 minutes, the Arasaka guards give up and return back to base. Helios continues his long swim to the rendezvous ship.

Around 6 AM in the morning, as the remaining team members prepare for another day of work, they hear the sound of heavy footsteps coming down the hall towards their apartments. Within moments, Arasaka guards are knocking on their doors and demanding to be let in. As soon as the doors are opened the guards storm in and arrest the team members. They are then hauled by patrol boat to the Arasaka security tower. There they are thrown into a general lockup.

They are interrogated one by one, but despite the guard’s heavy-handed tactics, and use of interrogation drugs, they are able to stick to their stories of being simple Biotechnica employees. This goes on for nearly 4 hours.

Around three in the afternoon, they are visited by Amelthia. She says that she knows that somebody sent them to meet Prof. Brinkman and she demands to know whom. The team continues to stick to the story of being Biotechnica employees. Amelthia warns them that the next step is to hook them up to a computer with a neural analyzer that will sort through their memories and find out the truth. She warns them that the scans tend to be damaging to one’s memory, leading to confusion and often, permanent memory loss.

In order to buy time, Riptide weaves a story about how they actually worked for Arasaka and that they were sent to find out who was leaking information from the atoll. She is extremely skeptical of the story. However Riptide manages to be very convincing, so she agrees to go and verify their story.

Meanwhile, some 10 miles away, Helios emerges from the water alongside the hull of the Wounded Gull. He begins to climb the anchor chain when he notices Arasaka guards moving about the deck. He slowly climbs back down into the water and waits for nearly an hour before the guards finally pile into the AV-4 and fly back to the atoll. He then climbs back up the anchor chain on to the ship. There he meets with the ship’s captain, Capt. Pike, who informs him that the ship will be returning to the Midway Freehold.

When Amelthia returns to their cell, she informs them that no one at Arasaka knows about their supposed mission. She informs them that in the morning, they will begin the brain scanning procedures.

May 14th, 2039

In the morning, Amelthia arrives with the guards. She asks for someone to volunteer to be the first to go for brain scan. In a desperation move, Riptide claims the person Arasaka sent them was Colin Fisk, his secret contact within the corporation. Amelthia seems uninterested in this new claim, and again asks for a volunteer. Ultimately Zen steps for and offers to be the first. The guards haul her away.

Back on the ship, Helios attempts to contact Mouse. When he is unsuccessful, he then contacts Jarvic. Jarvic informs him that Mouse is in the hospital, and fills him in on what took place a couple of days ago. Helios indicates that the group may be in trouble, as the atoll is in lockdown and they have no way off the island. Jarvic decides to make some calls to find a hacker to break into the Johnston Atoll datafortress.

Helios then contacts Blue Diamond. He informs him of the data that they got from Dr. Brinkmann. He has it downloaded and sent the Blue Diamond. Since neither Blue Diamond or his employer know exactly what the data is, he accepts it as being the objective they were sent to retrieve.

Back at the atoll, in the Arasaka security tower, Zen is hauled into a room that features a reclining chair surrounded by numerous pieces of equipment. Three individuals in medical scrubs wait for her. One guard and Amelthia go in and they prepare to put her in the chair.

Just as they are about to strap her in she slips their grasp and is able to get behind Amelthia and put her in a chokehold. She then threatens the use her gang-jazzler to kill Amelthia.

Amelthia points out to her that she has no place to go. Zen states that all she is looking for is for Amelthia to take the time to verify Riptide’s claim about Colin Fisk. Amelthia agrees under the condition that Zen voluntarily gets into the chair. Zen agrees and strapped in. Amelthia than goes check on Riptide’s latest claim.

Back in night city, Jarvic is able to find a netrunner who is bold enough to try and hack the Johnston Atoll datafortress. However, the netrunner’s attempt is short-lived and he informs Jarvic that the datafortress is in a high-security mode. Only a really good runner, either operating off of a mainframe or running with AI support will have any chance of hacking the fortress. Jarvic contacts Helios and informs him of what he learned. Helios considers what Jarvic said about needing AI support to hack the datafortress. He decides the place a call to Cassandra Ellis.

Amelthia returns to the operating room and informs Zen that Colin Fisk has been arrested. She also informs them that Colin doesn’t have anywhere near the clearance the authorizing admission that they claim to be a part of and she then reveals that she was sent to the Johnston atoll, to look for a potential data leaks.

Psych evaluations were done of all the employees. Brinkmann’s evaluation indicated that he was hiding something. Further investigation led her to believe that he was a mole sent by someone. It was she who had the Brainworm implanted in him and that they began to observe him waiting to see who would show up to try and make contact. The team had managed to elude her surveillance, until they inevitably got impatient and careless. He then informed Zen that the delays were over, and Zen was put under as they began to scan her brain.

Zen finds herself in an endless series of rapid short streams. The dreams are like a stream of consciousness that seems to pull memories from all over her history. Many of them seem to fragment and she cannot remember them as soon as they disappear.

Back in the cell, the remaining team members cover up the cameras with bits of wet toilet paper. They then wait for the guards to investigate. Their only weapons are a couple of bolts that Riptide was able to pull from the floor anchors for the benches.

The guards then arrive and demand that they take the toilet paper off of the camera lenses. The team refuses. So instead, the guards order them against the back wall with their hands against the wall while the guards go in and remove the obstructions. While the guards are inside the cell, suddenly all of the lights go out, including the emergency lights.

The team takes this opportunity to act. Both Saito and Riptide have cyber eyes allowing them to see in the dark. They are able to overpower the guards and take their weapons. Just as their locking the guards in the cell, they can hear a door in the hallway being rattled by an Arasaka security team trying to get in. The team decides to go the other way. They come to a T intersection where they are intercepted by more guards. A firefight ensues until they are able to escape into a stairwell. Taking a guess they decide to head up.

Meanwhile, the endless stream of images in Zen’s head suddenly disappears, leaving her in complete blackness. But then a rectangle of light appears in the distance, which she soon realizes is light leaking around a door. She begins to approach the door but can’t help sense a strong apprehension about the door. As she gets closer she senses great danger behind the door and soon she hears what sounds like scratching, like wild beasts trying to get through the door. She steps away from the door chooses not to open it.

Saito, Riptide, and Ripper emerge from the stairway on to the sixth floor. There they see what appears to be a clinic level. One of the rooms has several guards standing outside. The guards immediately turn and open fire.

Although she no longer has the images and dreams flashing in her mind, Zen can feel herself becoming more disoriented and disjointed. Attempts to recall specific memories become harder and harder. Fearing that her identity is being erased, Zen takes a chance and opens the door. A flood of demonic looking creatures pour in through the door, and her mind goes blank.

Saito, Riptide and Ripper are able to overcome the guards in the hallway. They force their way into the operating room and see Zen lying unconscious on a reclining chair. Amelthia is there along with three medical technicians who seem to be extremely confused and are struggling with the computer systems that do not seem to be working properly. One of the technicians explaining that all the data been pulled from Zen’s mind had been eliminated and somehow a powerful virus has gotten into the system and was shutting everything down.

Saito goes the one of the terminals and types in a question asking if this was Mouse. An answer comes back stating that it is not Mouse, but someone else was there to help. Saito then types the question asking if their benefactor would be able to shut down the atoll’s antiaircraft system. The answer comes back stating that it could be done, but only for a brief amount of time.

They removed Zen from the chair, and took Amelthia hostage. They use her to gain safe passage to the roof of the Arasaka tower where the AV-4 was parked. Amelthia becomes desperate wanting to make some sort of deal. She knows that as soon as the AV-4 tries to leave the island it will be shot down by the island’s defense systems. They tell her that that was a chance they were willing to take

They got into the AV-4. The next issue was the fact that none of them are actually trained in how to fly a vector thrust vehicle. Saito decides to give it a shot, fires the vehicle up and they took off from the roof of the tower. After narrowly putting it into the ocean they skimmed over the water and took off away from the atoll. Much to Amelthia’s surprise and the other’s relief, the facility’s antiaircraft systems do not kick in.

A couple of hours later, with the AV-4 running on fumes, they landed on board the Wounded Gull. They fill in Helios on what happened. He tells them that he had contacted Cassandra Ellis, and in turn she convinced Masslight to help them escape. Amelthia is placed in the brig while the others get medical attention and some much needed rest.

May 15 – May 18th, 2039

The Wounded Gull makes its way back to the Midway Freehold.

May 19th, 2039

Back at the Midway Freehold, Cassandra apologizes to Zen on behalf of Masslight. She tells her that when Masslight was going through the datafortress he found them scanning Zen’s memories. Since Zen is one of the few people who knows the physical location of Masslight, he could not risk Arasaka or Biotechnica finding out where he is. Masslight downloaded a virus into her brain, the demons beyond the door, which were then downloaded by Amelthia’s scanning equipment. It erased everything that they had recorded and shut down their systems. Unfortunately, this means that some of Zen’s memories can never be restored.

They turn Amelthia over to Cassandra, leaving it up to her and Masslight as to what Amelthia’s fate will be. They then book a flight to take them back home to Night City.