Cyberpunk 2036

Episode 39 - Chasing the Dragon

July 4th, 2040

It’s barely been a week since the team’s last job when Zen gets a call from a technician at Trauma Team. He tells her they have the body of one of their customers that they were unable to save. The account is under an assumed name so they can’t identify her. They found a burner cell phone on her that has two names in the speed dial. The first had no answer and the second one is what got them in contact with her.

Zen heads down to the Trauma Team center and sees the body. To her shock, it belongs to Roxie. The body is badly burned and riddled with shrapnel. It looks like the work of a well-made IED.

Zen asks where they recovered the body and she is told is was found near the corner of 34th Ave and 230th St, which is right in the heart of the worst part of the Combat Zone. Roxie’s Trauma team card had been automatically activated, but by the time the team got there, she was already dead. There were no other bodies present.

Zen informs the others. Their first suspicion is that this is retaliation for the tech they stole from Block One, which was a job they got through Roxie. They try calling Krissy, but get no response.

The team heads over to Roxie and Krissy’s place at the Mallplex. They break-in and do a quick search. They learn that Roxie and Krissy apparently left no traces of their activities lying around the apartment. They find a wall safe and pull it out of the wall.

Remembering that the girls kept their gear in a custom built armored van, they head down to the parking garage. All they find however, is an empty parking space.

Back at the shop, they torch the safe. Inside, they find $15,000 in cash, some passports and a contact list. Nothing in there tells them about the girl’s last job.

Riptide works his contacts and hears that the girls were doing a job for a man named Rico Diamonds, a pimp turned corporate fixer. He must be small time, because little else is known about him other than he has diamond studded teeth. They do figure out that other number on Roxie’s speed dial belongs to this Rico.

That night the team heads to the Forlorn Hope and tells the regulars the news. They spend the rest of the night, drinking, telling stories, and toasting their fallen friend.

July 5th, 2040

With Mouse’s help, they prepare to triangulate and trace Rico’s cell phone. Zen places a call and does her best impression of Roxie. It may not be good enough to take on the road, but it’s good enough to fool Rico.

He is quite upset because he has just learned that the girls did not deliver the brief case he was paying them to deliver. Zen tells him that something has gone wrong and that they need to meet. Rico agrees and tells them to meet him at the usual place. He won’t say what that place is and they can’t ask him. But when he hangs up, they turn to Mouse who confirms Rico’s location as Medina, a hookah club over on the west side.

The team drives over to the Medina. Rico isn’t hard to spot as he is the only guy in the club with diamond studded teeth. They approach him and reveal that it was actually Zen that he had talked to earlier.

Once the usually posturing is out of the way, they explain that Roxie was found dead, and that she was a friend. Since she was doing a job for Rico, it might be mutually beneficial to find out what happened.

Rico tells them that he paid the girls to drop a brief case off at an address right near where she was found. What was in the case, he did not know, and the girls did not ask either. He even agrees to pay the team $30,000 to recover the case and complete the delivery. The recipient of the case is a Nanotech Industries lab operating clandestinely in the Combat Zone.

After the meeting with Rico, they do a little research on the part of the combat zone that the lab is located in. They find out it is currently a warzone. Two gangs, the Klash and the Razor Boys are in an all-out battle for territory.

July 5th, 2040

In the morning, they get into their van and head deep into the Combat Zone. There area they are heading into has been clearly ravaged by drugs. Most business are closed, homeless and strung-out individuals litter the sidewalks.

They come across Roxie and Krissy’s armored van parked on the curb. They get out and investigate. It looks like several people have tried to get into the van, but the armor and security system have held.

As they check out the van, they notice that they have drawn the attention of several Razor Boys. The gangers tell them that the van was left in their territory, so it belongs to them. The team tries to negotiate for the return of the van, but the Boys say that only their leader Ice can make such a deal and he isn’t seeing visitors right now.

Just then a car that had been slowly coasting a couple of blocks away begins to speed up. Several gang members recognize what is about to happen and hit the dirt.

Sub-machine gun fire bursts from inside the car, hitting several of the slower Boys. Zen empties a magazine into the car Saito calmly grabs his rifle out of the van and snipes the driver of the vehicle, causing it to swerve and hit a telephone pole. The Razor Boys run up and fire enough lead into the vehicle to ensure that there are no survivors. As they tend to their dead and wounded, the Razor Boys agree to take the team to see Ice.

They are taken a couple of blocks south into a warehouse where they meet Ice. He agrees to turn over the van for $5,000. Helios surprises everyone by pulling out a large wad of cash and counting out $5,000. The Boys clearly aren’t sure what to make of a guy that would carry that kind of cash into the Combat Zone.

The team makes arrangements to get the van towed back to their salvage shop. Hazard pay bonuses are offered in order to get anyone to come this far into the Zone. Riptide calls Mouse and asks him to do some digging and see what he can find out about Roxie and Krissy as of late.

They then talk to Ice about Roxie and Krissy. He tells them that they had heard an explosion in an alley a couple blocks east of here, but when they got there, no one was around. He believes that it is the work of The Dragon, a mysterious vigilante who operates in these parts. Rumor is that The Dragon is a former Razor Boy who now has it in for all gangers. Word has it that he hangs out at a drug den called the Shooting Gallery, which is located inside Klash territory.

They next decide to head over to where the incident took place. Once there, they begin to inspect the damage. They determine that someone set up multiple anti-personnel explosives in the alley. Anyone caught in the middle of that blast was likely shredded pretty badly. The hopes of find Krissy alive are suddenly diminished.

Saito climbs a pipe attached to one of the buildings to get a bird’s eye view. While up there, he spots a blood trail from that very same pipe to the middle of the roof, where it disappears. Someone was wounded and either climbed or was carried up to the roof, where they disappeared from that point.

Once back on the ground, he and Zen head into the narrow ally off shoot and make their way to its end. There they find a non-descript steel door. They knock, and a minute later someone opens the view window and asks what they want. As suspected, this is the Nanotech lab. Once they establish why they are there, the man behind the door states that he is still waiting for his package as it was never delivered. He had heard the explosion as well and he sent some men to investigate. They found no bodies, but did not search long as the Razor Boys were starting to show up.

They return to Roxie and Krissy’s van to oversee it being hoisted on a truck to be towed out of the Combat Zone. It was now 6:00 PM, which means they still have a couple hours of daylight left.

They load into their own van and head north into Clash territory. They soon find the Shooting Gallery. Helios stays with the vehicle as the other head in. The scene inside the drug den looks an awful lot like the scene outside, except that all of the people laying around strung out look a lot more comfortable.

They inquire as to who is in charge and end up talking to a guy named Ace. He says that contrary to what they may have heard, The Dragon doesn’t hang out here. In fact, he is pretty sure the Dragon is a myth. He heard that the Dragon is supposedly Japanese, an ex-yakuza guy who is taking out anyone who is connected with that organization.

They ask him what the popular drug is in the neighborhood. He tells them that it is Crystal Lace. It’s distributed by the Jamaicans, who operate somewhere southeast of here. There have been some synthetic drugs showing up as of late, but he doesn’t know where it is coming from.

Mouse gives Riptide a call with some information. Krissy’s Trauma Team account was more than 10 days past due, so her account was suspended. That means that even if she was there and dying right alongside Roxie, they would not have picked her up.

They next head southeast to find the Jamaicans. They find two men guarding an ally who seem to fit the profile. These guys look like “shoot first, say hi later” types, so they approach very carefully. Things are quite tense at first, and it seems like bullets could start flying at any second, but eventually the team is able to talk their way into seeing the gang’s leader, Ras.

They are taken into the back alley and through a loading dock door into what is clearly a drug lab. Ras has little patience for them but is eventually convinced that it is in his best interest if the team is able to track down The Dragon. Ras says that he heard that the Dragon is a Hispanic man, a retired Federali. He hangs out at a club called Apocalypse, but they have never been able to catch him there.

The team then heads off to the Apocalypse. They pay the $10 a head cover charge and head on in. On stage a band is playing something that might be called music in the loosest sense of the word. The “singer” is howling out lyrics between bouts of spitting on fans and pissing on the stage.

They inquire as to who is in charge and they are told it’s a man named CC, who not only owns the club but also happens to be the guy relieving himself on stage. Reluctantly, they ask to speak with him.

A short time later, CC arrives at their table wearing only a spike jock strap. He asks if they enjoyed his performance which he calls “Reality Sucks”. They lie and say it wasn’t completely horrible.

CC tells them that The Dragon is a Corp from uptown. A real Bruce Wayne type who likes to come into the slums and play super hero. He’s been at it for two years now, taking out drug dealers with a vengeance. If they want to find him, they should check out a brothel on the west end of the neighborhood called Tokyo Rose’s.

It’s starting to get dark out as the team once again follows another lead on The Dragon. Tokyo Rose’s ends up being the nicest place they have been to today, though the bar has been set pretty low. It clearly caters to clientele who live no where’s near here. The décor is nice, the women beautiful, and the muscle well trained.

They speak to Tokyo Rose herself, a short elderly Japanese woman. She tells them that she heard that The Dragon is a woman who is on a crusade to destroy the drug trade in this area. Unlike everyone else they have spoken to, Rose has a positive opinion of the Dragon. Of course, she is also the only person they have spoken to who hasn’t directly contributed to the drug problem. She tells them to seek out a fence name Le Fez. The Dragon uses him to sell the loot she gets off of dead gangers.

Now having heard five different versions of who the Dragon is and four different places where he or she supposedly hangs out, the team sets out once again. The sun is now down and they have reached the time of day where anyone in their right mind would have headed back home. But Rose told them where to find Le Fez, so off they go.

They make their way over several blocks. The destitute daylight denizens begin to give over to more nefarious nighttime nasties who watch the team from dark alleys like wolves in the woods. They find themselves standing outside another alley door. This one is heavily reinforced with a suite of cameras and sensors monitoring it. A crackly voice comes over an intercom and asks them what they want. They plead their case and the door opens with the sound of heavy motorized bolts retracting.

They are greeted by a seven-foot tall full-conversion cyborg. He speaks in the same crackly voice they heard over the intercom, apparently a glitch in his voice modulator. He confirms Tokyo Rose’s story that he helps fence the items that the Dragon takes from her victims. He gives them the sixth version of the Dragon, stating that she is a Japanese woman, roughly 5’10’ with an athletic build.

She was most recently at his shop the other night looking to sell a secured brief case. He was able to get the case open and found it full of materials for manufacturing synthetic drugs. Le Fez does not deal in narcotics, so he refused to purchase them from her. He instead sent her to a man known as The Doctor, who may have an interest in purchasing the drugs.

Just them, Helios radios that a group of Klash gangers are starting to congregate outside and they are armed and on the hunt. Le Fez offers the team a combo deal. He will tell them how to find The Doctor and allow them to make use of his personal bolt hole, all for the low price of $5,000. It’s a ridiculous price to pay, but they don’t feel much like arguing.

So money and information are exchanged. Le Fez leads them to the back of his shop where he shows them a tunnel leading out on the other side of the block. Helios drives around to meet up with them, and they head for yet another destination.

Clusters of gangers are beginning to walk the streets. The team is forced to zig-zag around before reaching their destination.

The Doctor lives on the third floor of a relatively intact apartment building. He lets them in and seems friendly enough. Looking about, they quickly realize he is a body-scrapper. He takes the dying and freshly dead and harvests their organs for sale on the black market.

They ask about the brief case. He tells them that a Japanese women showed up the other night with the brief case and a critically wounded woman. The case contained a chemical catalyst commonly used in the production of synthetic narcotics. He bought the case from the woman for $20,000, and they sold the contents to some uptown contacts for $75,000. As to the wounded women, she is still in the back.

They run to the back room and find Krissy on a table on life support. She is missing a leg and an arm and much of her face and torso is covered in blood soaked bandages. The Doctor says he was going to give it another couple of days before he started scrapping her for parts. They contact Mouse to hack Trauma Team and reinstate her account. Once completed he would activate her card and a rescue unit would be on its way.

With that taken care of, the subject again returns to The Dragon. The Doctor explains that she can be found at Tokyo Rose’s. They tell him that they have already looked under that rock, but he assures them that she is there. Rose herself knows this.

Once more, the team is back on the streets. As they head back to Tokyo Rose’s, they can hear the sound of the approaching Trauma Team AV.

Back at the brothel, they tell Rose that they want to see the Dragon, and this time they are not taking “no” for an answer. She gives in and directs them to a door in the back. The door opens into an alley. Cautiously, the team moves toward the other end.

A woman awaits them on the other end. The alley is covered in shadow but they recognize her from Le Fez’s description. She readily admits to laying the trap and detonating the explosives. She knows they have been here in the Zone all day and have seen first had what the drug trade has done to this neighborhood and the people who live in it. She finally decided to take a stand. She is the guardian of this neighborhood.

Zen points out that Roxie and Krissy were not drug dealers, but simply doing a delivery job. The Dragon dismisses this. She knows the team are edgerunners, just like the two ladies were. She admonishes them for thinking that a “no questions asked” policy somehow washes their hands clean of all the harm their work does. Maybe they don’t harm the innocent themselves, but they are fools if they think the work they do for others doesn’t lead to the innocent being harmed.

The team suddenly find themselves in a moral quandary. They came here hell bent for revenge, but the truth of the matter is that she is one of the good guys. They are the ones working for the dark element of society. Killing her would be doing a favor for the drug pushers who are destroying lives.

They decide to leave without killing her. They found Krissy, and she is on her way to get real medical help. The briefcase has already been sold so there iss nothing to be gained there. That’s the life of an edgerunner: sometimes the only thing you gain is to not lose any more than you already have.

So they decide to call it a day and head for home, but not before one slight detour. They swing by the Jamaican’s HQ and let them know that they can find The Dragon behind Tokyo Rose’s. They don’t like the Jamaicans any more than they like The Dragon, but sometimes you just have to let the Combat Zone sort itself out.