Cyberpunk 2036

Episode 5 A Hard Road to Go

After the events of the The Agency Job, the team spends the next few weeks resting and recuperating. Torrent buries himself in his programming work, and Riptide gets his small collections operation up and running. Everyone is slightly on edge due to the mysterious Mr. M who has apparently been sent to Night City to eliminate the team.

January 21, 2037

Around 11:00 PM Zen, Riptide, Helios, and Saito are hanging out at the [Forlorn Hope]], downing a couple of beers, discussing recent events. Riptide and Saito notice a woman walk into the bar, look around the place, and than place a call on her cell phone. After a short but heated discussion on the phone, she hangs up and talks to the Professor, who is the owner/operator of the establishment. He points her in the team’s direction.

She approaches and introduces herself as Marlo. She is a transportation facilitator whose regular muscle has apparently fallen through on her. She offers the team $500 each for a couple hour’s work escorting her and her cargo to an airstrip in the central valley. The team insists on $750 each. She is clearly annoyed by the demand but admits she has little choice. The catch is that they have to leave now, and don’t have time to stop at home to get their gear. Armed only with pistols and limited ammo, they agree to go with her.

She drives them to a warehouse in the harbor district in which she has parked a big Kamatsu-Peterbilt semi and trailer. Helios gets behind the wheel of the semi, with Saito riding shotgun and Zen in the back. Riptide rides with Marlo in the sedan. She explains to Riptide on the way that she is running a shipment for Militech to the airstrip, where a plane she has chartered will fly the cargo to El Paso.

January 22, 2037

The trip to the central valley is uneventful. When they pull into the air field a little after midnight, Marlo signals by flashing her headlights. In the distance, another set of headlights flash in response. She pulls farther in and the other car pulls forward revealing an identical sedan. Driving the other sedan is a man named “Hollywood” Henderson. Wearing leather pants and matching leather jacket with a glowing neon collar, he sports a perfect flat top, cut laser precise.

She urges Hollywood to hurry and tell the flight crew to get the plane up and running while she and the team transfer the cargo. She wanted to be in the air by Midnight and it was now quarter after. Just as they begin to return to the semi to move it closer to the plane, the airfield is rocked by an explosion and the plane is engulfed by a massive fireball. Saito and Zen begin scanning the area for intruders, but Riptide observes that the explosion appeared to originate from inside the plane. Since Marlo was running 15 minutes late, the bomber likely intended for her to be up in the air when the bomb detonated.

Refusing to be intimidated, Marlo decides just to drive the cargo to El Paso. She offers to up the payment to $1,000 but ultimately agrees to $1,100 each. She will drive the sedan up front with Riptide. Helios and Saito are once again in the semi, and Zen rides with Hollywood, who will drive the other sedan behind the semi. By 12:30 AM, they are on their way to El Paso. No one bothered to check the plane wreckage for survivors.

They drive for over six hours straight before finally stopping in Indo for some fuel and stimulants. A quick shot of “Nuke-Juice” and everyone is wide-awake despite already being up 24 hours.

On the road again, they pass into Arizona around 8:50 AM. About an hour and a half later, Marlo pulls off the interstate in favor of taking a state highway. When asked why, she says that usually on a trip like this, she would go through Phoenix. But, if there is another sabotage attempt, Phoenix is likely where it’s set up, so she is opting to go around it instead.

Around 11:30 AM they arrive in the town of Bend. The town is barricaded off and some of the locals are armed and standing guard. Marlo, Riptide, and Saito disembark their vehicles to investigate. Initially they are concerned that it may be some form of ambush, but learn that the area has come under frequent attacks lately by roving bandits, and they have made the town of Bend a frequent target. They agree to allow the convoy in to refuel and get supplies, but they ask that the team not stick around, because an escorted semi is almost guaranteed to attract the bandits.

The team begins to discuss how they will defend the convoy with the limited armaments they have. Luckily, there are certain benefits to doing work for Militech, which Marlo reveals when she opens the semi’s emergency weapons locker. She takes out a “BullDog” full-auto shotgun, which Riptide takes. Saito takes an “Anti-matter” 30mm Cannon. Zen is unable to decide between a grenade launcher and a Squad Assault Weapon, so she takes both.

It isn’t long before they are able to put these weapons to use as a little over an hour after leaving Bend, the bandits strike. With two pick-up trucks, five dune buggies, and four motorcycles, the band of over 20 men converges on the convoy. The motorcycles attack the lead vehicle. From the back seat, Riptide opens fire with the automatic shotgun. Saito realizes that sometimes a huge gun is not ideal. The only way he could fire the Militech Cannon out of the passenger side is if he sat on Helios’ lap. Not only would that make driving difficult for Helios, but it would be a bit awkward for both of them. Saito instead lifts the cannon on to the top of the semi and climbs out onto the roof. Zen launches a grenade that misses its mark but still explodes between two dune buggies. The damage done however, is minimal.

Back up front, Riptide chews up one of the motorcycles with the shotgun, but it somehow stays running. Apparently these bandits know how to maintain their vehicles because Saito puts a 30mm round into the grill of one of the pickups, but it still keeps running as well. Zen puts down the grenade launcher and picks up the SAW instead. Meanwhile, one of the bandit vehicles pulls along side the semi cab, and one of the passengers attempts to grab hold of the driver’s door. Helios is able to swerve away, preventing the bandit from grabbing hold.

Things start to go in the team’s favor as Riptide blasts the motorcycle again and it goes down. A second round from the 30mm cannon finds the pickup’s driver as Saito eliminates one of the pickup trucks. Zen lays down suppression fire on one of the dune buggies. The two passengers are able to get under cover, but the driver is struck by multiple rounds and crashes the dune buggy.

When bandits realize that their small arms fire does not pack enough punch to get through the armor on the semi and the sedans, they begin targeting tires instead. Riptide drops a second motorcycle with the shotgun, and Saito takes out another cyclist with the cannon. Another heavy burst from Zen’s SAW takes out another dune buggy.

Riptide switches sides to take out the last motorcycle. Saito also switches sides to destroy the other pickup truck. Zen chews up another buggy with the SAW, but it stays running. Helios swerves the semi into one of the dune buggies, crushing its front end.

Having lost over half of their group, the bandits break off their attack, emptying out their weapons in parting bursts of fire, or “Screw You” shots as Riptide calls them. Everyone begins celebrating the successful defense of the semi when Hollywood notices Zen is awfully quiet. He looks into the back seat to see her unconscious and bleeding from the head. One of the bandit’s bullets had found its mark. Stopping the convoy, the team rushes to do first aid. Saito is able to staunch the bleeding and stabilize her.

Around 2:00 PM they arrive in Tucson. Hollywood is familiar with the city and directs them to a ripper doc who can do a better job of patching up Zen. He injects painkillers and disinfects the wound, and stitches her up, but she remains unconscious. Hollywood then leads them to a roadhouse to get some lunch. With Zen asleep in the semi’s bunk, they enter the “Hammered Thumb.” They are a little surprised that a guy like Hollywood, with a very hip-hop style, would recommend what was clearly a country & western bar, but the food is indeed good.

After lunch, as they are making their exit they see Marlo talking to a man she introduces as Sedge Laduras. He operates a panzer, which is a vehicle that is half hovercraft and half tank. He makes his living transporting goods across the desert as well. Everyone makes some small talk before they part ways. Marlo mentions that she has known Sedge a long time and considers him a good man, but also states that he is “the most mercenary bastard you will ever meet.”

Unfortunately, her words prove prophetic as a couple hours after leaving Tucson, they see the panzer closing in on them with its weapons armed. Realizing that the semi could never outrun the panzer, Saito recommends they stop the convoy. He will back track a little, and get into a position where he can hit the panzer with the 30mm cannon. Marlo attempts to radio Sedge but he does not respond.

The panzer stops about 400 meters behind the semi and opens fire with its 20mm autocannon. The blast rips open the side of the trailer, damaging some of the crates. Saito fires the cannon, damaging one of the panzer’s engines. The panzer’s turret swings to Saito’s position and opens fire with its co-axial machine gun. Saito is able to fire another shot, destroying the engine before being forced to take cover behind a large rock, and he is lightly wounded as he is struck by flying chunks of rock as the machine gun chips away at the boulder.

Helios hammers down on the accelerator as the semi begins to gather speed in an attempt to escape. The panzer begins to follow the semi and opens fire with its TOW rockets. It fires two rockets, but both miss their target. Saito takes aim and destroys the panzer’s other engine.

Marlo turns the sedan around and returns to the panzer. Riptide questions her judgment, put she points out that Sedge was likely hired to take out the shipment, and would not kill her. Luckily for him, she is proven right as Sedge surrenders. He reveals that he was offered $10,000 to destroy the shipment by a rival transporter named Sandra Bonetti. Both Marlo and Sedge prove to be complete professionals and part peaceably, although she declines his request for a ride to the next town.

Around 9:00 PM the convoy arrives in El Paso. Approximately 20% of the cargo was lost in the panzer attack, but Marlo is still pleased none-the-less. She charters a small plane to take the team back to Night City yet that evening. Having been up nearly 40 hours straight, and no more adrenaline or stimulants running through their veins, the team has no trouble sleeping all the way back home. They are also too tired to realize they now indeed consider Night City home.