Cyberpunk 2036

Episode 35 - A Slow Boat to Chiba

February 19th – April 8th, 2040

The team has had six weeks to recover after the “terrorist” incident at the Night City Harbor. Zen has spent most of that time in the hospital. Helios is still off trying to sell the helicopter. Riptide has taken over management of the Golden Saloon and Ripper finally returns from the Crystal Palace.

April 9th, 2040

Riptide gets a call from a restricted number. Using a voice modulator, the caller says to meet him at Warehouse 214 at 11:00pm if interested in some work. The job is to find someone and the pay is $50,000. The caller then hangs up.

Riptide informs the others. Saito heads to the warehouse a couple of hours early to scope things out. It looks like a typical non-descript harbor warehouse.

About 10:45 pm a solo arrives and enters the warehouse. At 11:00 pm, Riptide and Zen show up.

The solo who got there early used to go by the name Crusher, but now just prefers his real name, Wilbur. Wilbur says he retired from edgerunning several years ago. Now he has a wife and a couple of young kids, and has never been happier. He gives the two some advice, saying that they should get out before they make so many enemies that they have to spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders waiting for someone to seek some payback. They ask Wilbur why he is here if he is retired. He says he owes someone a favor.

Outside, Saito watches as a short, well-dressed Japanese man arrives and enters the warehouse. Once inside, the Japanese man explains that this is just the rendezvous point. The meeting will take place in another warehouse.

He leads them to a back entrance and motions for Wilbur to lead the way. As Wilbur is about to open the door, the Japanese man pulls out a pistol and shoots Wilbur in the back of the head. The others stand in stunned silence as Wilbur’s body hits the ground. The Japanese man apologizes and says that Wilbur had been asked here on another matter, which has now been resolved. As they step over his body and head outside, Wilbur’s last words echo in their minds.

They travel in the dark, narrow walkways between the warehouses until they come to Warehouse 023. A cursory inspection reveals that this warehouse is armored and has some expensive security installed.

They are lead inside and taken to a room in which one wall is a large mirror. The modulated voice from the phone call comes over some hidden speakers and thanks them for coming.

The voice says that they are looking for a courier that they have been following all over the world, who has now apparently come to Night City. His name is Fredrick Wells, and they would very much like to speak with him here at the warehouse. They are hiring the team because they want some local talent looking for him, and the team comes highly recommended.

They are to bring Wells back here in the next 24 hours. The pay is non-negotiable, but they do agree to pay $20,000 up front. The employer does not give them much to work with. The Japanese man gives them a photo of Wells and explains that he has one known associate, a solo named Lorenzo, who was last seen in Italy.

Saito heads out to The Afterlife where he runs into Krissy and Roxie. They mention that they remember Wells, and that he used to have a girlfriend named Katrina Jones. Saito also places a call to Apoc who promises to do some digging,

April 10th, 2040

The team continues to work their contacts. They learn that Katrina Jones is an Infocomp employee. Zen does some digging at the office and finds Katrina’s personnel file is classified. Apparently she is one of their top operatives, specialized in gathering intelligence on local edgerunner teams.

Saito hears from Apoc who says that Frederick Wells used to be in U.S. Intelligence until he got kicked out for embezzling. He speaks a half dozen languages and has a knack for blending in. He was last known to be doing some corporate work in Japan.

Word on the street is that in the old days, Wells used to hang out at Fast Eddie’s Pool Hall. Saito and Ripper decide to head down there and take a look around. Fast Eddie’s clearly has seen better days. It’s run down, with only a couple of tables that aren’t all ripped to hell. One of those tables is being used by the only two people playing.

Saito and Ripper play on a neighboring table before striking up a conversation. One of the men is the owner, Fast Eddie, and the other in known as Toothpick. They talk about the old days and Ripper brings up Wells. Eddie says Wells is supposed to be in Japan. He did come back for a bit a couple of years ago. He had a Japanese girl with him named Michiko. Wells also used to hang out at a nasty solo bar called The Garbage Pail. Wells hasn’t been seen in years however.

Zen and Riptide head to the address that they were able to get for Katrina Jones. It’s a rather nice looking secured apartment complex. They hit the buzzer and a woman appears on the screen. She looks older and pretty rough. She also sounds less than pleased to be talking to them. It takes some cajoling, but she agrees to let them up.

When she opens her apartment door, they find that she looks nothing like the image on the screen. She is tall, slender and attractive, and comes across quite friendly. She tells them that she and Wells dated years ago back when he was still with U.S. Intelligence. She says that he thought she ratted him out to the feds which is why he dumped her. She seems a little bitter about it yet. She also confirms what the guys learned at Fast Eddie’s as well.

She recognizes Zen from work and keeps things professional. She seems to hit it off with Riptide however, and a bit of flirting, the two exchange contact information.

They have Mouse dig around the airline databases to see if Michiko’s name appears. Sure enough, it does. It seems she flew into town a few days ago. He can’t find what hotel she is staying at however.

Early in the evening, the team heads over to The Garbage Pail. True to its name, the floor is covered in garbage, some of it reeking badly. A metal band screams away behind armored glass on one end of the long narrow establishment.

With Helios out of town, Riptide fills in as the wheel man and remains outside in the van. Ripper hangs out at the front door, Zen sits at the bar, and Saito finds a dark corner.

Around 10:00 PM, Zen spots Frederick Wells sitting at the bar. She heads over to him and strikes up a conversation.

She barely gets past hello when he suddenly has a surprised look on his face. A moment later a bullet hole appears in the middle of his forehead. As he collapses a large Arab man pushes passed Zen as he puts away his pistol.

Ripper starts to move in as he spots two more Arabs moving from the front of the bar towards Well’s body. Riptide moves the van into the alley preparing to pick them up from the service entrance.

The Arab checks over Well’s body and takes a key and places it in his pocket. Saito walks up to the Arab and greets him in Arabic. During that moment of distraction, Zen tries to lift the key from the Arab. Although she is able to get the key, it is not without him noticing. When he turns to grab her, Saito grapples him. The other two Arabs see what is happening and draw their weapons.

Ripper decides that what this situation needs is some chaos, so he chucks a flash-bang grenade into the middle of the crowd.

Being a solo bar, most of the people immediately draw weapons. Nobody wants to be in the middle of a close range free-for-all, so the crowd starts moving towards the exit. Saito disables the first Arab and Zen moves past the other two.

With the sudden change of plans, Riptide pulls back out of the ally and pulls in front of the bar as people begin pouring out. Riptide looks in his mirror just in time to see a SUV come rolling up clearly intent on pushing him out of the way. He engages the parking break as the SUV rear ends him. He immediately gets out and begins yelling at the driver for hitting him. The two Arab men in the SUV produce submachine guns and order him to move his van. Riptide gets back in, and tries to move the van, but having intentionally left the parking brake on, he is barely moving.

Inside the bar, a mass of bodies has begun trying to squeeze out the front door. Zen and Ripper find each other and try to blend into the crowd. Saito jumps over the bar and heads toward the service entrance.

The driver of the SUV slowly pushes Riptide’s van out of the way as the man in the passenger seat scans the crowd coming out. When Riptide sees Ripper and Zen emerge, he releases the brake and rolls away. The men in the SUV fail to spot the two edgerunners.

Ripper and Zen make their getaway. Riptide is only able to get so far with the van before the wrecked rear end makes it undriveable. He eventually meets up with the other two. Saito calls Buckshot Betty and asks her to pick him up.

Riptide calls their employer to explain what happened. The voice on the other end is clearly unhappy and says he will call back shortly. A few minutes later, he calls back and says they can still earn their pay. Wells had stolen some “genetic data” from their employer, and if they can retrieve this data, they will be paid the remainder of their fee.

Zen checks the key that she took. It’s for coffin 246 down at the EZ Overnighter. Once they have everyone back together, they head over to the Overnighter.

While the others remain on watch, Zen heads to the coffin. An inspection of the door reveals that it’s rigged with a bomb. Although trained in demolitions, she lost much of her memory of that training when she had her memory scrambled at the Biotechnica facility. So she radios Saito and he comes up to disable the bomb.

Once inside the coffin they find a security briefcase and a carry all with an ugly suit in it. They take the two items and head back home.

Saito contacts Apoc again and asks if he has any intelligence on some Arabs that have come America recently. Apoc says he will look into it.

Once at home Zen inspects the suit while the others work to bypass the biometrics lock on the briefcase. The suit contains a business card for Ralph’s Rock Emporium. Other than that, it’s just an ugly suit.

Once the briefcase is breached, they take a look inside. They find a broken battleglove, a credit chip, a voice scrambler, and a locker key for the Night City Metropolitan Airport. They decrypt the information on the key card and figure out which locker it’s for.

They look at the business card and notice something written on it that they can’t quite make out. Saito switches his cyberoptic to ultraviolet and sees a message written on the card that says “April 11th, 7:00pm, Elvis 2”

April 11th, 2040

In the early morning hours, they head down to the Airport. There they find the locker and open it up. Inside is another garment bag full of an odd assortment of suits. They find another credit chip, an envelope with $3,000 cash, a passport for a Frederick Du Boise from Paris, with Well’s picture, and a box containing a pair of diamond earrings.

They leave the airport as Riptide makes some calls. He is able to find a fence who is willing to look at the earrings in the middle of the night. The fence inspects the earrings and runs them under a spectrograph. He says the diamonds are artificial, but high quality. Other than that, there is nothing of interest about them.

Later in the morning, Saito hears from Apoc. Apoc says a Saudi prince has sent some men to Night City to acquire a clone. Whether the intent is to buy the clone or steal it, or what it is a clone of, Apoc does not know.

In the late afternoon, they head to Ralph’s Rock Emporium. There is a sign outside the lobby forbidding weapons, weapon implants, or body armor. As Ripper has implanted wolvers, he opts to wait outside.

The others walk in, buy their tickets and wonder about the emporium. The place is made up of vid screens showing old rock performances and documentaries, while numerous small stages about the place contain animatronic versions of rock bands playing their classic hits. One end of the main hall is dedicated to The Beatles, while the other end is dedicated to Elvis Presley. There are three versions of Elvis, depicting the three eras of his career.

Saito guesses that the middle Elvis is Elvis 2, and begins to look about. He sees nothing out of the ordinary about the display. Then at 7:00 PM, a Japanese woman walks up to the middle Elvis, and waits there. Saito approaches her and says he is there on behalf of Fredrick Wells. She asks for the money and he gives her the envelope of cash. She in turn hands him an envelope.

While this is happening, Riptide and Zen spot two Arab men approaching from the office area of the Emporium sporting submachine guns. When they spot the woman that Saito is talking to, they open fire. She and Saito dive behind the Elvises for cover. Saito manages to avoid being hit, but the woman is not so lucky.

Riptide and Zen are able to get behind the men and grapple them. However, a third Arab emerges from the office.

Ripper enters the lobby when he hears the gun shots. As people begin to flee the building, he decides to risk all of the warning signs and enter the showroom with his weaponry. The moment he crosses the warning line, an alarm goes off. There is a sudden flash of light and his head is hit with a jolt of pain and the room spins. He is able to shake off the worst of it as he sees people collapsing around him from the neural scrambler he just triggered.

He stumbles into the showroom and attacks the third gunmen. Saito comes from behind his cover and helps Zen and Riptide deal with the two they engaged with.

As the police sirens are heard in the background, the Arabs are either disabled or fleeing. Saito goes to check on the Japanese woman and finds that she is dead. He grabs her purse and they flee the scene.

Going through her purse, they find her passport identifying her as Michiko. She has a guest card for the Highcourt Plaza Hotel located downtown. The envelope contains a registration code for a ship in the harbor, but there is no way to tell what those numbers represent.

Mouse says that the Highcourt is one of the best secured hotels in town. Getting into her room requires the card, a PIN number and her voice imprint. Plus, hotel security has her picture on file. When the person carrying her key enters the hotel, the system grabs an image from the security camera and displays it next to her photo so that the guards can see if the right person is carrying the key card.

Ripper has the gear to get past the PIN code and voice ID. Zen puts her makeup skills to use and after an hour she bares a passing resemblance to Michiko. Hopefully it is enough to fool hotel security.

She goes to the hotel with Riptide. They enter the lobby and make it the elevator without being stopped. Swiping her hotel card, the elevator takes them to the eighteenth floor. As Riptide keeps a look out, Zen uses Ripper’s decrypter to bypass the lock.

Once inside they do a quick search. It appears that Michiko was packed and planning to leave right after the exchange. There is a copy of an invoice for Shift It movers to provide a truck tomorrow night at the west harbor. The purchaser is listed as Jean Martine. There is also a voice mail on her room phone. It’s from Lorenzo stating that he is moving the package tomorrow night whether Wells shows up with the buyer or not.

They exit the hotel and head to the west harbor. Mouse contacts them and says that after hacking the harbor master’s computer, the registration number belongs to a yacht called the Lollipop 5 located at Pier 47. The ship is registered to a Jean Martine. They arrive at the harbor to see that Pier 47 is located in the commercial ship zone. There is no getting in there without the proper paper work.

They stop at home to do a little forgery work. With the proper paperwork generated, they drive to the harbor. Once inside they head to Pier 47. There they see a guard posted at the gang plank and another on the deck. Riptide does a thermo-imaging scan of the yacht and sees five more people on the yacht as well as what appears to be a large horse.

They approach the ship and ask to be let on board. The guard refuses and after a few minutes of arguing, one of the people in the cabin emerges. They recognize him by his voice as Lorenzo. They say that they are there to pick up the horse, but Lorenzo says that until he has his cut which he says is $10 million, the horse doesn’t leave the ship. Furthermore, if he does not have the money by midnight tomorrow, he is leaving the city to find a buyer on his own.

Riptide calls their employer to advise them of the situation. He says if they can provide a truck to transport the horse, his team will get the horse out from the custody of the men guarding the ship. The employer agrees.

April 12th, 2040

The better part of the day is spend spent planning how to get the horse off of the boat. A frontal assault is initially proposed, but concerns about getting the horse killed shoots down that idea. Eventually a more stealthy approach is agreed upon.

In the evening they rendezvous with the truck. Once inside the harbor, Ripper dons some scuba gear and dives into the water. When they get to the edge of the Pier, Saito gets out and gets into position with his sniper rifle. Riptide and Zen remain in the truck as it slowly drives down the pier.

Ripper emerges from the water and climbs the mooring lines to get to the deck. Doing a thermo-scan he sees that two of the people inside are on the upper deck while three are below decks. One of the people above deck is awake while the other appears to be sleeping.

He sneaks into the upper cabin and knocks out the patrolling guard which turns out to be Lorenzo. He then drugs the sleeping guard to make sure he stays asleep. He then secures the two doors to the lower decks to make sure the three down there stay down there.

He then emerges on to the deck and tries to sneak behind the guard on deck. Unfortunately, the guard hears him and turns to attack. Before the guard can get off a shot however, his head explodes as he is hit by an electro-thermo round from Saito’s rifle. A few seconds later, the guard on the gang plank suffers the same fate.

Riptide and Zen get out and board the ship. The three make sure that the three guards below decks are secured. They then go find the horse. The horse is an Arabian Stallion. If it is indeed a clone, that would explain the high selling price. It’s also very stubborn and they are unable to get it to budge. Luckily their employer seems to have anticipated this and the driver they sent is able to coax the horse off the ship and into the truck. With the horse secured, they make their exit.

They take the truck back to warehouse 023. There they are congratulated on their success and are paid the remainder of their fee. Overall, the job is a success. However, considering that Lorenzo’s cut alone for this sale was $10 Million, they can’t help but feel this job should have been a lot more lucrative.