Cyberpunk 2036

Episode 36 - Sweet Revenge

April 28th, 2040

Riptide gets a call from a man calling himself John Coral. He calls Riptide “George” and says that he has a procurement job that he would like to hire the team for. He says to meet him at the Carter Lounge in the Highcourt Plaza Hotel at 10:00 PM.

Riptide, Ripper, and Saito go to the hotel. They are stopped by security, but are waived through once they verify who they are there to meet. This is very surprising since normally Ripper would not get in with his implanted weapons.

They go to the Carter Lounge and are escorted to table six, where they meet a middle aged, well-dressed man, who introduces himself as John Coral. When Riptide asks how John knows his real name, John simply says that he paid for top quality information. Although he buys a round of drinks, he skips the small talk and goes right to the deal.

John is the talent agent for Shauni Kalnier, a popular brain-dance star, number one in fact, according John. Her contract is coming up for renewal, and negotiations will soon begin. The problem is that DMS has gotten their hands on some early videos that John describes as “embarrassing”. He believes DMS intends to threaten to release these videos as leverage to get her to agree to a contract that greatly favors DMS.

John wants to pay the team $90,000 to break into DMS and steal the videos. In addition to the cash, Shauni is willing to let them use her fashionable West Hill condo for a year. He gives them 24 hours to think about it, while he works on getting some security info on DMS. They agree to meet back at the Carter lounge the following evening.

April 29th. 2040

Zen goes to her cubicle at Infocomp and does some research. It turns out that Ms. Kalnier is actually number two in the brain-dance ratings, behind Network 54’s Catherine Bergenox. Records on Kalnier make no mention of her having an agent named John Coral. Kalnier is getting ready to shoot the next season of her brain-dance releases.

Mouse, who has been talking non-stop about his newly acquired Microtech military-spec combat assault cyber-deck, that he spent most of his life savings on, jumps at the chance to use it. He dives into the Net, and easily cracks into the Highcourt Plaza Hotel’s data fortress. There he discovers that table six was reserved by a man named Harvis Renaldo, who was staying in room 2020. The billing address for his room is in the name of S.K. Holdings located in Night City.

Apparently John Coral is not who he says he is. They debate what the man is really up to, but decide that as long as the pay is real, they don’t care.

The debate is interrupted by the return of Helios, who has been gone for several weeks, trying to sell the helicopter. He tells the condensed version of a story involving a lesbian biker gang, the Church of Elvis, and a cyborg who thought he was a toaster. Most importantly though, he returns with $165,000 from the sale of the chopper. They fill him in on what has transpired so far, and they get ready to go meet Harvis.

That evening, they return to the Carter Lounge. Riptide is all too happy to turn the tables and greet Harvis using his real name. Harvis does not seem phased and dismisses any questions regarding his intentions with the tapes. He says that all that matters is that he wants the tapes, and he will pay them an increased price of $100,000 to do it. They agree.

They also agree that the job will go down the following evening. They will meet at the park that is a couple of blocks from the DMS building and hoof it on over. Harvis insists that he comes along to make sure they grab the right tapes.

April 30th, 2040

As per the plan, they meet at the park at 11:00 PM. They head over to the DMS tower, which features a public mall on the first floor. In the back of the mall is a row of security elevators that each contain one guard and requires a security key to get to the DMS levels.

Right on cue, a group of girls from the Golden Saloon start getting rowdy by the water fountain, causing the mall guards to become engaged in the situation. Unfortunately, one mall guard near the elevators does not move. They are not sure what his story is, but apparently checking out hot chicks frolicking in a fountain is not on his list of interests.

Zen approaches him and tells him that she saw one of the girls take someone’s wallet. That gets him moving, and he heads off toward the fountain.

They call one of the elevators and when the door opens, they bum rush the guard inside. He tries to trigger the alarm, but Mouse has been hanging out in the building’s computer network and has disabled the alarm. He has also disabled the floor lockout, so with the push of a button they head to the 27th floor.

When the elevator door opens, Riptide steps out wearing the uniform of the elevator guard. He sees a 3rd shift receptionist looking very bored. He strikes up a conversation with her. Now she is bored and annoyed. The others emerge from the elevator and head to one of the secured doors. The receptionist tries to get Riptide to stop hitting on her for two seconds to find out what they are doing up there, but when the secured door opens for them, again thanks to Mouse, she gives up and goes back to trying to give Riptide the brush off.

The others pass through a series of offices. All are empty save for a few programming execs working on scheduling.

The security information that Harvis acquired lets them steer past a couple of occupied rooms as well as a high security corridor. Eventually they are in the tape vault. Harvis uses a code he has somehow procured to have the automated system bring up the tapes he wants. Once secured, they make their way back out.

On the way back through the programming room, one of the workers questions what they are doing there, but they fast talk their way out of it. When they get back to the receptionist area, she again considers questioning them, but realizing that their leaving means Riptide goes with them, she decides not to hinder their hasty exit.

They return to the park where Harvis makes the bank transfer that ensures that they get their money. They then part ways.

April 31st, 2040

The day is quiet, although towards the end of the day, word on the street is that some valuable Shaunie Kalnier tapes were stolen and DMS is out for blood.

May 1st, 2040

Early before sunrise, everyone is asleep except for Saito who is milling about in his room. He hears the distinct sound of an AV approaching and goes across to the hall to wake Zen. She is barely out of bed, when the AV begins firing rockets into the building.

Mouse’s room is the first to be hit, followed by Riptide’s. Both are badly injured in the strikes, but manage to stay mobile. Everyone makes it into the center hallway as the AV begins to swing around the building.

Helios, who sleeps in the garage, opens up the manhole cover in the center of the shop floor that leads down into the sewer. They begin to climb down, except for Zen and Riptide who decide to make a break for it on their motorcycles.

The AV opens fire with rockets into the garage area. The heavy garage doors make for better protection than the apartment windows, and they avoid any further injuries.

Zen and Riptide race out of the shop and head down the street. When the AV pursues, they split up. The AV follows Zen and fires its front cannon, shooter her motorcycle out from underneath her. She slides along the pavement, but is able to recover in time and disappear into an alley before the AV can find her.

The team members in the sewer decide to double back. When they get close however, they hear the sound of many boots up above. They decide to again move away from the building, which proves to be a wise choice as several frag grenades are dropped down the manhole.

Zen finds her way to one of her safe houses. Saito stays at the apartment of his exotic prostitute friend Baja, Helios stays at Jimmy Two Teeth’s, and Riptide rents a coffin. They also inform Jarvic and Ripper to be alert for trouble

They eventually get in touch with Death in the Afternoon, who inform them that a team of DMS security men searched the building before thoroughly destroying it with several satchel charges.

In the late afternoon, they meet at Fast Eddie’s Pool Hall, the pool hall that Ripper has taken a financial interest in. He has his friends in the O-Zoners gang watch the neighborhood.

After much discussion, they decide that they need to make peace with DMS. But in order to do that, they need something to leverage. Zen heads off to Infocomp to do some research, while Saito decides to check out S.K. Holdings. Riptide, meanwhile, makes a date with Katrina Jones.

Saito arrives at the address and finds it to be a small multi-tenant commercial building. He enters and heads up to the fourth floor and finds the office for S.K. Holdings. It looks like there is security on the door so he heads up another flight of stairs and goes out the roof access. He free climbs down to the fourth floor window of S.K. Holdings. It appears that both the door and the windows have screamer alarms, with the door also having stun strobes.

Saito shimmies his way over to the neighboring suite. This one appears to be empty, so he breaks the glass and enters. He then goes to the wall that is adjoined to S.K. Holdings and begins to kick a hole in the wall. The drywall and aluminum studs don’t offer much resistance, and in a few minutes he is inside the suite.

At Infocomp, Zen does some research on Harvis Renaldo. She learns that he is a Network 54 executive who lives on one of the residential levels of the Network 54 Tower.

Back at S.K Holdings, Saito finds a treasure trove of interesting paperwork. He finds a document listing the main stars of the braindance market and their market share. Catherine Bergenox holds 44% of the market, with Shauni Calnier in second place with 29%.

He also finds a document from a Jonathan Baker-White, an investment advisor stating that if DMS were to experience an unexpected set back in the Brain Dance market, it could cause their stock to drop enough to be bought up at a bargain price. Once the stock rebounded, which it inevitably would, a substantial profit could be made. The trick would be knowing when the setback would occur.

Saito finds a dossier on all of the team members, which includes their real names and lists the address of their former home. The assessment portion of the file describes them as “resourceful and well-connected, but not too intelligent.”

There is a voice on the answering machine from a man named Stromberg telling Harvis that the teams, including Ms. Bergenox are in place and waiting the green light.

Finally, in the garbage can, he finds a pistol and a note listing that “Plaza Concord, by the statue, $9,000.”

Saito heads over to the plaza, on the south side of the city and finds the statue. There is nothing to see, but he does spot a homeless man who has set up residence in a large box across the street.

The homeless man tells him that a few nights ago, a helicopter landed and a man matching Harvis’ description got out. He met a woman by the statue, and they exchanged envelopes. They then turned and walked away from each other. The man, however, before getting into the helicopter, turned and shot the woman in the back. The man left via the helicopter, and within an hour, body scavengers made off with the woman’s body.

It is clear that the homeless man is hiding something, so after a little bribery, Saito gets him to admit that he had checked over the body and found an ID on the woman identifying her as Theresa Malcolm, a DMS employee. He also admits to taking the envelope which turned out to contain $9,000 in cash. The homeless man wonders aloud what kind of person pays someone, and then kills them and doesn’t take the money back.

The team gets back together and discusses their options. They believe that Theresa was Harvis’ source for the DMS security information. It was time to get in contact with DMS.

May 2nd, 2040

Zen does some more research and learns that the DMS CEO is Donald Sizemore. Mouse hacks the DMS network and drops a message into Donald’s terminal telling him that they are the ones who stole the tapes as part of some contract work for Harvis Renaldo of Network 54. The message details the letter regarding the potential stock hit DMS would take. The message gives a contact number for a burner phone.

May 3rd, 2040

Riptide answers the burner phone when it rings and finds himself talking to a DMS security operative named Terry Neuman. Riptide fleshes out the information regarding what happened, and explains that he is sharing this information because Harvis screwed them after the job. All the team asks for in return is that DMS stops going after them. Terry thanks him for the information, but says that DMS doesn’t know who they are and so has not made any move against them.

Death in the Afternoon had said that the security men who attacked their HQ had DMS uniforms on. This does not mean they were really DMS, and assuming Neuman wasn’t lying, they just wanted people to think they were DMS. This points everything back at Harvis, who they established as having a record of paying people for jobs and then killing them.

May 4th, 2040

The team decides that they need Mouse to hack into the Network 54 datafortress and find an itinerary for Harvis Renaldo and Catherine Bergenox. Mouse knows that the datafortress has an AI, multiple sysops and serious Black Ice, but after spending the last week bragging on how awesome his new cyberdeck is, he can’t hardly back down on the challenge.

He dives into the datafortress, and after a few close calls, including an almost fatal run in with a Lich program, he returns with an interesting document. He found a memo indicating that Harvis intended to hire a team of mercenaries to steal the master tapes for the next season of Shauni’s braindance dramas. They would then have Catherine Bergenox tape new versions of the plotlines. Bergenox would have twice the content while Calnier would have none. He would then leak to DMS the identity of the mercs, which would have DMS chasing after the mercs. By the time they realized what happened, the new content would be released and Bergenox would be ruined.

Things apparently did not go as planned, since the men who attacked the team were not actual DMS guards. Mouse suggests that since they had revealed to Renaldo that they had learned his true identity, he could not afford to give them up to DMS so Renaldo tried taking them out with a fake DMS unit.

It is also noted in the memo, that he was using Infocomp to find an edgerunner team. Zen asks to see the dossier that Saito had taken from the S.K Holdings office, and immediately recognizes its format as an Infocomp report. This report could only have been written by one person, Katrina Jones.

Running on the assumption that she has sold them out, Riptide makes another dinner date with her. When he picks her up however, they don’t go to a restaurant. Instead, he takes her to a building owned by the O-Zoners, where Saito and Helios are waiting.

She realizes that something is up and demands to know what is going on. When they confront her about the dossier, she admits that she wrote it, but the idea that she sold the information to Harvis is ridiculous. She works for Infocomp, an information gathering company. Buying and selling information is what they do and her job is to gather that information. They knew her specialty is gathering info on edgerunner teams. She wrote the report on them, submitted it to Infocomp, and they then sold it to Harvis Renaldo.

They quickly realize that what she is saying makes sense. She demands that Riptide take her to dinner like he promised. Saito and Helios are both glad they won’t be attending that meal.

The pieces are falling into place. It becomes clear that if they want payback, they need to get to Harvis Renaldo.