Cyberpunk 2036

Episode 25 A McGuffin Called Agrippa

The group gets about three weeks of rest before their next job. They spend the time healing up and replacing damaged gear.

September 13th, 2038

Riptide gets a call from Mouse regarding a job opportunity. He has been offered a job that pays $50,000, which he is willing to share in a five way split. This means a $10,000 payday for each member. The job requires them to get a room at the Hotel Hamilton. There he would use a write-once-read-once box called an Agrippa to download a data transmission. They would then take the Agrippa to the Night City Transit Center and place it in a locker. Then they would mail the key to a designated address.

They agree to take the job, which will take place the following evening. In the mean time, Riptide acquires the use of a cargo van from his contact at the Night City impound yard. Helios scopes out the Transit Center and Saito picks a place to perch that will allow him to cover the team while at the hotel.

September 14th, 2038

At 6:00 PM they meet at the Forlorn Hope. After a quick review of the plan they get started. Helios dresses as a homeless person and waits it out the Transit Center. Saito, disguised as a janitorial worker gains access to the building to the East of the Hamilton and positions himself on the roof. The others take the van to the hotel.

When they arrive, Mouse checks with the front desk to see if he has any messages. The clerk hands him an empty envelope with an address already printed on it. They then head up to their room.

At 8:00 PM, Mouse jacks in and establishes the connection. The Agrippa begins the slow process of downloading the information. After several minutes, Saito spots several unmarked vans pull up to the hotel. Roughly 15 men in tactical gear get out and start conferring with one another.

With the information still downloading, Zen starts hitting buttons on the elevators to tie them up. Riptide breaks into the hotel room next door in case they need a back up escape route. Unfortunately they cannot leave until the download is complete.

The download finally finishes and Mouse jacks out. Unfortunately, at this point the tactical team is literally at their door. Riptide shoots out the window in their room. The strike team blows a hole in the door and demands that the team drops their weapons and surrender.

Zen secures a grapple line at the window. With Mouse clinging to her for dear life, she climbs outside, six stories above the ground. Riptide tries to hold off the strike team, but is forced to dive for cover, as the room is ripped apart by suppression fire. Before Riptide can recover, one of the strike team races by him, the bionic legs propelling the commando with superhuman speed.

When the commando gets to the window he aims down, intending to shoot the descending edgerunners. Riptide tackles the man, sending them both flying out the window. Both are able to grab onto the rope, Riptide having the slightly higher advantage.

Meanwhile, Saito begins firing at the vehicles, disabling the engines. He then opens fire on strike team members that are exiting the hotel, trying to keep them pinned down so that the others can escape.

Riptide and the commando continue to struggle against each other on the line. The commando then uses a retractable blade to sever the line below him. Zen and Mouse, who are still several floors above the ground, plummet to the earth. Both are badly injured as they slam into the ground, though Zen is able to remain conscious. Although barely able to walk on her own, she picks up Mouse and attempts to escape under the support of Saito’s sniper fire.

Another commando leans out the window and aims his weapon at Riptide. Knowing he is outmatched in this situation, Riptide surrenders, and he is hauled back up into the room. There he is handcuffed and interrogated about who he works for. He tells the truth and indicates that he does not know whom they are working for.

Helios, upon hearing the situation over his tactical radio had made his way to the hotel. Zen was still trying to get out of the area when he arrives and adds fire support to her and Mouse’s escape. He then gets into the van and picks the two of them up. They pick up Saito a couple of blocks away. They then drop Zen and Mouse off at the hospital. Helios and Saito then go to the Transit Center, renting a locker and placing the Agrippa inside. They then mail the key in the envelope.

They are forced to abandon Riptide who is under heavy interrogation. He eventually claims to work for Bill McKlusky. Calling his bluff, they load Riptide into a van and take him down to the marina to point out McKlusky. He does and they snatch McKlusky off the street. Both are then drugged and taken to an undisclosed location.

September 15th, 2038

The two fixers awaken, tied up in a warehouse. Not surprisingly, McKlusky is extremely unhappy with Riptide falsely accusing him of being behind the data theft. Meanwhile, by accessing the registration of the vans that the strike team used, the team learned that a German biotech company called Teschen Biotech employed the strike team. Further research determines that the company has a warehouse down by the New Harbor Marina.

Further complicating the issue is a call from Mouse. He is still in the hospital, but had regained consciousness during the night. The TV was on in his room when he saw a report indicating a shoot out between two heavily armed groups at a home out in Pacifica. The news reporter indicated that it was suspected that the Russian Mob owned the home. Mouse recognizes the address as the one on the envelope that they sent the key to.

The news also reports that Police want Gordon Marsden, the owner of Club Atlantis for a data theft involving Teschen Biotech. Mouse indicates that he believes that the fixer that hired him, named Mr. Go, may have been Gordon Marsden.

They considered the situation they are in. Teschen Biotech has Riptide in custody and its only a matter of time before they learn where the Agrippa is. The fixer that hired them is on the run. And the intended recipient of the key was apparently killed in a raid out in the suburbs. It was a complicated situation, but they knew their first priority. They had to get Riptide back.

Investigating the warehouse that Teschen owned, Saito was able to confirm that Riptide was there by scanning it with the thermo-graphic imager he had recently installed in his cyber optic. He then used the thermo-graphic imager and his heavy sniper rifle to shoot through the walls at the guards who were present. With the guards pinned down, Helios charged in and after an exchange of fire, was able to drag Riptide out. They opted to leave Bill McKlusky tied to his chair.

With Riptide rescued, they have to determine what to do next. Should they sell the info back to Teschen, or try to contact the Russian mob? Riptide, however, has a different idea.

Riptide calls Tobias Luna. He inquires if Tobias knows about the data theft from Teschen Biotech. Tobias states that he has been following the news. Riptide then states that he has the data and is interested in selling it. Tobias seemed shocks but quickly composes himself. He says that if Riptide actually has the data, Biotechnica will pay $100,000 for it. He gives Riptide a time and location to bring the data.

The next step is getting the Agrippa back. Helios again disguises himself as a homeless person and goes to the Transit Center. He spots a couple of individuals who are keeping an eye on the lockers. Riptide and Saito than create a disturbance in the Transit Center while Helios goes to the locker, picks the lock, and grabs the Agrippa. He immediately exits the Transit Center and makes sure he is not followed. Riptide and Saito then leave making sure they are also not followed.

Riptide then rendezvous at the location Tobias told him about. It appears to be some sort of “Black Site” for Biotechnica. The Agrippa is given to Tobias who has the data downloaded onto a terminal. A couple of computer techs then dive into the data and after a few minutes confirm that the data is legitimate. Tobias makes the payment as promised.

Riptide asks what the data is. Tobias explains that Teschen has created a nano-tech treatment that will initiate a sex change at the genetic level. Once completed, the subject’s new gender would be confirmed by even DNA tests.

He also stated that his intelligence agents are telling him that World Genetics had extracted the head researcher on the project for Teschen, and that they were likely behind the theft.

Riptide says that the Agrippa was to be sent to the Russian mob. Tobias thinks on this for a minute and then says that the team was likely set up to be to take the fall for a double cross. Mr. Go was probably contracted by World Genetics to steal the data. He took the job but intended to double cross them and sell the data for a bigger profit to the Russian Mob. By hiring the team to download the data and send it to the mob, Mr. Go could claim it was the edgerunners that betrayed him. He gets paid by the mob, and the team gets the blame for the double cross.

Mr. Go’s plan backfired however. Now the team got paid and Mr. Go has an arrest warrant on his head. Corporate espionage usually leads to a life sentence. This mission had its usual share of complications but things turned out better than expected. For the second time in a row, they ended up getting paid twice their original fee. Plus they moved closer to getting themselves back in the good graces of Biotechnica, although Tobias made it clear that would not happen as long as Helios was alive. They didn’t need to have Tobias as a friend, but it couldn’t hurt to have a corporate ally, now could it.

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Episode 24 Got Milk

Over the next couple of weeks, the team got a much-needed break. Saito spent most of that time in the hospital. Riptide andHelios got cyber-optics to replace their blinded eyes. Torrent indicated that he had a personal matter to attend to that would talk him out of town, and did not know when he would return.

August 14th, 2038

William Davis, the owner of Pocket Fluff Advertising, Inc, contacts Riptide. Riptide meets Davis in his office. There, William tells Riptide that his brother and business partner was murdered three days ago. The police have begun to suspect that William was behind it, so he wants Riptide’s team to investigate and find out who really killed his brother. He also offers a bonus if they can do it in a week.

William then shows Riptide a video montage of various commercials that Pocket Fluff has recently done as part of a milk promotion campaign. The commercials are edgy and make fun of Arasaka, Militech, EBM, the President, and hippies. Apparently Pocket Fluff doesn’t mind ruffling some very powerful feathers.

William has his secretary Mumashi Asura escort Riptide out. She hands him a copy of the video and says that if he has any questions, he should contact her or Maggie Evans, who was Tom’s secretary.

Riptide goes home and gathers the team. He shows them the video and explains the job. The team decides that the first order of business is to find a free-lance Net runner who can cover for Torrent while he is gone. Riptide knows of a guy who hangs out at the Golden Saloon that may be able to help.

August 15th, 2038

Zen goes into work at Infocomp and does some digging into police files. She is able to learn that Tom was shot in his car by what appears to be a gyro jet rifle round. He was shot while sitting in his car in a southwest neighborhood near the Combat Zone. Tom does not live anywhere near that neighborhood. A call to his secretary, Maggie Evans determines that he had no business dealings in that neighborhood that she was aware of.

Riptide spends most of the day trying to find out if there are any hitters who are known for using a gyro jet rifle. As he suspected, using such a weapon for a hit is rare, as it is loud and messy. However, his inquiries come up empty.

That evening at the Golden Saloon, he speaks to Mouse, the hacker he has seen hanging out at the Saloon. He recruits Mouse to do some digging online for a share of the fee they are getting paid.

August 16th, 2038

Zen, Saito and Riptide go to the police impound to look at the car. Zen is able to use her Infocomp credentials to get a look at the car. While Riptide strikes up a conversation with the manager of the lot, Zen and Saito inspect the car. Saito is able to determine that the shot came from an upward angle, likely from a second floor location. Zen is able to find a small pouch tucked up under one of the seats. It contains Blue Ice, the popular synthetic drug.

Mouse is able to learn quite a bit about Pocket Fluff. It started out as a division of Turner Broadcasting before being bought by the Davis Brothers who turned it into a successful advertising business. They have offices in Seattle, New York, London, and Amsterdam. They have roughly 6,500 employees worldwide.

He also learns that Tom has a wife named Mallory and two children. The oldest is John, currently attending college in New Hampshire, and a 16 year-old daughter named Lisa.

Most interestingly, he learns that William owned 35% of the company and Tom owned 65%. According to legal filings, upon Tom’s death, Tom’s wife would get 45% ownership, with the other 20% transferring to William, giving him a total of 55% ownership of the company.

August 17th, 2038

The team spends the better part of the day involved in investigations. Talking to employees at Pocket Fluff they learn that Maggie Evans had worked for Tom for many years. Mumashi Asura was a more recent hire, having been brought on about a year and a half ago, having been hired through a temp service. They also learned that the commercials shown to them by William were part of an advertising campaign funded by the National Dairy Board. They also learned that DMS is the company’s biggest competitor.

Other investigations revealed that the area where Tom had been killed was Blood Razors territory. The team decided to go into the combat zone that evening to seek out the Blood Razors under the guise of looking to sell some Super Fly.

They encountered a couple of Blood Razors on patrol and got them to agree to take the Super Fly in exchange for some information. The Blood Razors indicated that the hit was done by one of the Voodoo Boyz, who had gone into Blood Razor territory without permission. They told the team where to find the gang and that their leader was a woman named Mother Sage.

They then drove into Voodoo Boyz turf and found their main hangout. The Voodoo Boyz would only allow one person to meet Mother Sage and it was decided that Riptide would be that person.

He went into the run down building lit by small fires and filled with the smell of cooking animals. Voodoo writings and fetishes were everywhere. Finally he was brought before Mother Sage, and older black woman dressed in Caribbean style garb. She was willing to give the name of the hitter, since he was not acting on Voodoo Boyz business at the time. But she had a price. Riptide was forced to give her $750 plus four ounces of his own blood. In exchange, he was given the name Skitterboy and an address.

August 18th, 2038

At 1:30 in the morning, they arrive at Skitterboy’s apartment building. Helios waits in the van, as Zen and Riptide head in. Saito goes around the back and climbs the fire escape.

They knock at the door but Skitterboy refuses to let them in. Finally, Saito sneaks in through the bedroom window and is able to get behind Skitterboy. Skitterboy, now at gunpoint, lets the others in.

They question him and he states that Tom’s daughter Lisa hired him to kill Tom. She hated her dad, and offered Skitterboy $20,000 to off him. Skitterboy gladly took the deal. They then take Skitterboy and head over to the Golden Saloon.

At 3:00 AM, Riptide calls William and asks him to come down to the Golden Saloon. William is less then pleased to be dragged out of bed that early, but Riptide convinces him that the matter is urgent.

An hour later, William Davis arrives at the Golden Saloon. The team tells him that it was his own niece that put out the hit on Tom. At first he refuses to believe it, but the team convinces him otherwise. He shows them Tom’s family photo that he carries with him and they notice that Lisa is wearing Voodoo Boyz colors.

William then offers them another $5,000 to bring Lisa to him. She should be at home and he has all of the security codes. They agree. Riptide stays with him and Skitterboy, while the other three go to get Lisa.

In an extremely rare moment for the team, the extraction of Lisa Davis from her home goes completely without a hitch. With the security access codes they are able to drive right up the family residence and into the garage. Once inside, they stealthily move to her bedroom, and secure the girl with minimal effort. They are able to drive off with her without waking anyone else at the residence.

At 7:00 AM, they arrive back at the Golden Saloon. William questions Lisa about the hit. She swore she knew nothing about it. Zen’s experience with interrogation tells her that Lisa is telling the truth. So they bring Skitterboy into the mix to sort things out.

He still insists that she hired him. It turns out that Lisa had been complaining that her dad was demanding that she get out of the Voodoo Boys. In her anger, she told Skitterboy that she wanted her father dead. A short time later, he got a call from a woman offering him $20,000 to kill Tom Davis. Skitterboy assumed it was Lisa. Zen looks at the call history on Skitterboy’s cell phone and determines that the phone call came from the Pocket Fluff offices.

They secure Skitterboy back in the van and head back home. William took Lisa home. They get a hold of Mouse and have him go to work on hacking the Pocket Fluff phone records. It takes him some time but the only thing out of the ordinary is that Mumashi frequently made calls to a competitor of Pocket Fluff’s, a Japanese company called Kishi Corporation.

At 7:00 PM, Mouse contacts Riptide to inform him that he did some background checking on Kishi Corporation. It turns out that Arasaka owns controlling interest in that company.

Riptide attempts to call William. When he answers, Riptide tries to explain that he believes that Mumashi is the one behind Tom’s Death. William, however, indicates that Riptide has called the wrong number and hangs up. The group remains puzzled for a couple of minutes until Riptide’s phone rings. Riptide’s caller ID says its William, but when he picks up, no one is on the other side. In the background he hears William and Mumashi arguing. Riptide suspects that William may be in trouble. After making a few more calls, he is able to determine that William’s last known whereabouts was on his way to his office.

They pile into the van and make their way to the office building that Pocket Fluff is located in. When they arrive, Helios recognizes another van parked there as having also been parked outside of Skitterboy’s apartment. The team decides to head in. On the way, Saito deflates the tires on the other van.

They head up to the Pocket Fluff office on 7th floor. When they arrive, they find William working on a bottle of whiskey. He says that Riptide was right. Mumashi was working on a plan to black mail the two brothers into selling the company to Kishi. However, when Tom indicated that he was interested in selling Pocket Fluff to DMS, which had recently made an offer, she had him killed to prevent the sale. Now with the edgerunner team in danger of figuring things out, she had to go for broke and had William sign over controlling interest at gunpoint. He then says he will double the fee if they can recover the signed papers.

The team scrambles back to the elevators but finds two armed men waiting for them in the reception area. Bullets are exchanged at high velocity. Saito takes down one with his gun, and then tackles the other one. The others decide to take the stairs.

As they burst out of the building, they see a car that was parked out front driving away. They get in their van and attempt to pursue. Upstairs, Saito incapacitates his opponent and tries to catch up to the others.

Realizing they may not be able to catch up to Mumashi, Zen calls Jarvic on the off chance he might be working and in the air. Luck is on the team’s side as Jarvic’s medical crew is currently out and about in their AV-4. He agrees to fake mechanical difficulties and sets down in a busy intersection right in front of Mumashi’s car. A man steps out of the back seat of the car and fire’s on the team’s van.

Helios and Zen argue over Helios’ plan to launch a grenade at the car. Riptide suggests that he back the van out of the traffic jam and try and circle around to flank the car. Zen and Riptide then exit the van under fire and move towards the car. Helios uses the sidewalk to back up the van and proceeds to head around the block.

Another gunman gets out of the back of the car and the two solos shoot it out with Zen and Riptide amongst the stuck cars at the intersection. The driver of Mumahsi’s car rams into the car behind them and then drives up onto the sidewalk to squeeze around the AV-4. Zen is forced to deal with both gunmen as Riptide concentrates his fire on the fleeing car.

Jarvic’s AV is forced to leave as sirens can now be heard in the distance. Zen dispatches the two gunmen as Riptide successfully disables the fleeing car, which is now almost a block away.

The driver of the car steps out and opens fire as Mumashi gets out of the passenger side and makes a break for it. Riptide shoots the driver while Zen guns down the fleeing woman.

The sirens are getting closer as Helios comes flying around the corner from the other direction. He pulls up to Mumashi’s body and quickly scoops up her briefcase and is rolling again. Riptide and Zen jump as he passes by them. They circle back towards Pocket Fluff and pick up Saito who has been running after them.

Back at HQ, they evaluate the mission and declare it a success. They collected one of their biggest paychecks to date with minimal injuries to anyone. Maybe their luck was finally changing.

Oh yeah, and maybe somebody should let Skitterboy out of the van…

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Episode 23 The Ties That Bind

July 10th, 2038

Riptide arrives at work at the Golden Saloon, where his boss tells him they have a new girl who will be working there for a few months. He goes into the dressing room and immediately recognizes the girl as Lacy Ties, a girl he worked with back in Las Vegas. She is quite happy to see him as rumor has it back in Vegas that Riptide is dead.

When the Golden Saloon shuts down for the night, they head back to Riptide’s place. There they catch up on old times. Lacy explains that she has been mostly travelling the country, working in a location for a few months, then moving on. This is her first visit to Night City. Riptide is less forthcoming about what he has been up, stating that he moved to Night City and has been expanding his horizons. But when he explains what he has been up to in Night City, she points out that it sounds just like what he did in Las Vegas. She spends the night with Riptide and in the morning he takes her to the EZ Overnighter where she has a coffin rented.

July 11th – July 13th, 2038

Everyone goes about his or her normal routines.

July 14th, 2038

Riptide and Lacy are talking at work when she admits to him that she started touring after she was fired from her gig in La Vegas. She used to work for the same outfit as Riptide, and he would go with her to parties where she was hired as a stripper, to keep the party goers in line. The reason she was fired was because she had a habit of stealing cash or other small valuable from the places that hosted the party.

She asked him if he remembered the party for some young Arasaka executives. He indeed remembered it well, as it got completely out of control and he had to crack a few skulls in order to get himself and Lacy out of there safely.

It turns out at that particular party she stole a wallet belonging to a guy named Burton Chambers. It had some cash in it, but it also had an important looking data chip. Riptide recalled the name from his time spent in Detroit. He asked if she still had the data chip. She indicated she did, but kept it in a safety deposit box, because she thought she could make use of it some day.

Lacy also points out that she is tired of living in the coffin and asks if she can stay with Riptide while she is in Night City. He agrees, and she moves in. The other members of the team are a bit leery of this new development, but mostly keep it to themselves.

July 15th – July 21st, 2038

Everyone goes about his or her normal routines. Riptide and Lacy spend most of their time together.

July 22nd, 2038

At 3:00 AM, Riptide and Lacy are exiting the side door of the Golden Saloon, and begin to walk toward the company van. It is pouring rain outside. Suddenly, Lacy’s body is thrown hard against the wall and she collapses to the ground. A large bullet hole in her head reveals the cause. Riptide snatches up her purse and ducks behind the van for cover. Among her belongings he finds the safety deposit key. He pockets it and then calls the police.

From the opposite direction of the sniper shot, approach two men in body armor and assault rifles. Riptide dives into the van and starts it up as the two riddle the back of the vehicle with bullets. He tears out of the alley and a sniper shot blasts a hole in the windshield, just missing him.

He races into the Combat Zone and calls ahead to the rest of the team. As soon as the door to the garage opens he pulls the van in and tells Helios to secure the place and check the cameras.

When everyone else is awake and assembled, he explains what happened. They look up the serial number on the key and find out that it belongs to the Las Vegas branch of the First Bank of Tokyo.

At 6:00 AM, Riptide makes arrangements to meet with Colin Fisk, a contact that he has been cultivating over the last couple of years. Colin leads an Arasaka strike team based in Night City. They agree to meet in an hour at the New Harbor Mallplex.

At 7:00 AM, they meet. Riptide asks if he knows who Burton Chambers is. Colin explains that Chambers is a hotshot corp that has skyrocketed up to a VP position in the Detroit office. It’s unusual, not only because of Chamber’s young age, but also because he is Caucasian. Usually only Japanese employees ascend that high in Arasaka. Beyond that he knows little of use. Riptide asks Colin to keep him informed, and they go their separate ways.

By 8:00 AM, the team has loaded up the rental van, and takes a road trip Las Vegas. By 6:00 PM, they roll into the city limits. They rent a couple rooms for the night. While there was much talk of checking out the nightlife, ultimately they decide its best to stay at the hotel and keep a low profile.

July 23rd, 2038

In the morning they drive to First Bank of Tokyo. Riptide, Torrent, and Helios wait in the van while Zen and Saito go in. They present the safety deposit key and are ushered into a private room where they are presented with the safety deposit box. The attendant leaves them alone and they open the box.

Inside is $5,400 in cash, a pair of diamond earrings, and a data chip. They pocket these items and leave the bank.

As they are making their way out of Las Vegas, they happen to spot a helicopter about a 1,000 ft up that seems to be following them. They drive to the airport, knowing that it is a no fly zone, and the helicopter would need special permission to follow.

They pull into the parking garage. Helios jacks another van. Once they have their stuff transferred, they hit the return button on the rental van and watch it take off on its own toward the nearest Rent-a-Robo. They then take the new van and drive back through the city. Unfortunately, their ruse must have failed as not only is the chopper still in the sky above them, but an APC is now following them from several blocks behind.

As they make their way through the city streets, Torrent uses his deck to crack the encryption on the data chip. He sorts through inventory and supply chain records and finds that several caches of weapons had been redirected to a man named Assan Al Fiaed. Zen and Saito recognize that named immediately from their days in the US Army and the Mossad respectively. Both had been present when his HQ had been raided and a dirty bomb had been detonated.

Riptide again contacts Colin. Colin states that he has learned that there is a three-man hit-team from the Detroit Office currently operating in Night City. They had arrived a few days earlier, but what they were doing in the city was privileged information. Riptide explains that he has some dirt on Burton Chambers and that it has already drawn the attention of Arasaka agents. Colin wants nothing to do with it and explains that if Riptide is smart, he will lose that information and disappear.

Riptide ends his call and leans out the front passenger side window. Using his pistols, he open’s fire on a motorcycle that is behind them. The cyclist is not hit but crashes his bike, instantly causing a traffic jam, and giving Helios an opportunity to lose the APC.

Suddenly the roof of the van caves in and the windows explode out as a result. Helios is able to maintain control of the vehicle as the suit of power armor that has just landed on the vehicle punches a hole through the roof narrowly missing Zen. Everyone looks to Saito to use his .50 caliber sniper rifle on the war machine, but he points out that the rifle is too big to maneuver in the van.

Helios swerves the van, nearly rolling it over. The power armor suit, which was preparing to open fire into the van with its machine gun is caught off balance and is thrown from the top of the van. Now behind the van he is in the cross hairs of Saito’s rifle. The first shot rips into the suit, but it does not falter. A second shot blows out the actuators in one of its legs and it collapses.

Unfortunately, as Saito squeezes off the second shot, the power armor suit launches a phosphorus grenade into the van. From the outside, the van appeared to glow. Inside, the light is blinding and the heat burns clothes and melts plastic. Luckily for the team, the windows being blown out allowed for enough heat to vent out that they were not cooked alive. They are all temporarily blinded however except for the driver. Helios’ one cyber-eye is equipped with anti-dazzle and continues to function, allowing him to see where he is going.

They drive out of the city in their windowless, smoking van and head out into the desert. Their sight begins to return for the most part. Helios’ one natural eye, and one of Riptides never work again, having been permanently blinded.

As their vision returns, they see the helicopter is still on their trail. Helios stops the van and Saito lines up a shot with his rifle. Despite the half-mile distance, the electro-thermo round finds its mark and a shower of sparks erupts and the chopper’s engine begins to billow smoke. The chopper, barely able to stay airborne, backs off. Zen tells Saito to hit it again, be he decides not to. The chopper will be lucky to land safely, much less be a threat to them.

At 8:00 PM, the team arrives back in Night City. Not wanting to risk returning home, they instead go to the former home of Irina Lovodny. Though she is now deceased, her home is being used by the local street kids that she supported when she was alive.

Once at her house, they begin to discuss their options. Initially they plan to use the data chip as leverage and possibly blackmail Burton Chambers. Torrent points out however, that none of the data on the chip actually points to Chambers. The only reason they know that it is linked to him is because Lacy had told Riptide that the chip came from Chamber’s wallet.

They opt instead to let the information be free. They have Torrent upload the information to several Net sites and allow it to get out on its own.

Zen contacts Death in the Afternoon to ask if they have seen any suspicious activity near their home. For a change, the DitA boys have nothing to report. Zen has the local kids dispose of the van as Saito calls his former coworker Buckshot Betty to come and give them a ride back home.

July 24th, 2038

Riptide again calls Colin, who tells Riptide that his team was out all night looking for a trashed van that was coming into the city, but they never spotted it. Colin could put two and two together and figured it was Riptide and his crew. He again implors Riptide to ditch the stolen information and lay low. He makes it clear that Riptide is not to contact him again until this has all blown over.

Riptide then receives a call from Roger, the owner of the Golden Saloon. He states that a rather unfriendly Japanese man had accosted him last night and demanded to know who had been hanging around with Lacy Ties. Roger knew it was Riptide, but not wanting to lose a good employee, lied and said it was Doug Anderson, a Saloon regular that had a habit of running up a bar tab and not paying it off. Roger is concerned though, because he figures the Japanese guy will figure out real quick that he lied once he gets his hands on Doug. He tells Riptide to resolve the matter quickly because he considers Riptide worth lying for but not worth dying for.

The team heads over to Doug’s Apartment. They find that he is not home, so they break in. They debate how to handle the situation. Eventually they settle on having Riptide wait in Doug’s apartment while the other three would break into the apartment across the hall and wait there.

Saito moves the dining room table into the hall in front of the apartment door and sets his rifle up there. With Riptide in Doug’s apartment, and Saito, Zen, and Helios in the opposite apartment, the waiting game begins.

Several hours passed with nothing happening. Then the woman who lives in the apartment across from Doug’s comes home. Needless to say, she is quite shocked to find a man sitting at her dining room table with a very large rifle aimed at her. They are able to calm her down and learn that her name is Diana Goldman. They tell her that they are there to protect Doug. They have her stay in her bathroom until things are resolved.

Then Riptide, who is in the bedroom, becomes aware of sounds in the apartment. Someone has opened the door and walked in without him noticing. Riptide comes out of the bedroom and sneaks up behind the man who is staring out a window. He draws his gun on the man and questions him. At first he thinks the person may be Doug, but figures out that it is an Arasaka operative.

Riptide secures the operative, but realizes that the man has a tactical radio and has been in constant contact with someone. The team then hears the screaming sound of an AV-4 flying overhead. The craft drops into the parking lot and a strike team disembarks. The strike team charges into the apartment building and up the stairs.

Saito crosses over to Riptide’s side of the hallway. With two on each side of the hall, they pour firepower down the hall as the strike team makes its way in. Bottle necked in the hallway, the strike team quickly finds itself in trouble against the dug-in edge runners. Its only when one strike team member fires a fragmentation grenade down the hall, are they able to push farther in as the edge runners are forced to take cover.

Despite even that, the edge runners are able to stay dug in. But then the AV-4 swings around outside of Doug’s apartment and opens fire with its heavy machine gun. Riptide and Saito are forced to take cover to avoid being shredded by the high caliber rounds. The bullets tear through walls, threatening to take out Zen and Helios as well.

Saito is able to get to the apartment’s bedroom and used his anti-tank sniper rifle to fire at the AV-4. It takes a couple of shots into the cockpit, but eventually the AV-4 is forced to retreat. Saito, who is wounded by some shrapnel from the machine gun barrage, decides to try and get behind the Arasaka strike team. He jumps out the window and drops to ground level. He begins to make his way back to the main entrance.

As he approaches the door, he is hit by rifle fire from a van parked out front. Realizing that it’s the sniper team from Detroit; he returns fire as he scrambles into the building for cover. Unfortunately for him, the last couple members of the Arasaka team still standing have decided to retreat out of the building. As Saito is entering the building to avoid the sniper fire, the last two team members are on their way out. He suddenly finds himself caught in crossfire. He is able to take down one of the fleeing men, but is gunned downed in the crossfire.

The other edge runners pursue the Arasaka team out of the building, but come under fire from the snipers in the van. Once the last Arasaka member makes it to the van, they pull him in and the van takes off. The team has survived the day, but Saito is badly wounded. Had it not been for his body armor, he would likely be dead a couple times over.

They take him to the hospital, and finally return home.

July 25th, 2038

The team gets news that the US government has launched an investigation into Arasaka’s involvement with Assan Al Faied. Roger, from the Golden Saloon says that the Arasaka operative never returned.

July 26th, 2038

Riptide is able to get a hold of Colin. Colin tells him that Arasaka is in lockdown until the investigation is completed. He thinks that Riptide is absolutely crazy for releasing that information. He also indicates that the sniper team that killed Lacy has been recalled back to Detroit.

July 27th, 2038

The news is buzzing with the fact that the illegal arms shipment from Arasaka has been traced to a man in the Detroit office named William Moss. William will never be prosecuted however; as he apparently committed suicide once he realized he would be arrested.

The team doesn’t exactly buy the story however. They remember William’s name coming up as the man who arranged to have them shipped to Columbia. That means William Moss worked for Burton Chambers. Odds are his “suicide” conveniently stopped the investigation before it got that far up the latter.

This whole affair proved to be costly, but the team gained some important information. Zen and Saito are the only two left alive from the Assan raid a few years back. When Burton Chamber’s data chip with the arms deal info on it disappeared that night in Las Vegas, Riptide and Lacy were the most likely suspects. It made sense that Mr. Chambers would have it in for them. They also learned that Chambers will stop at nothing to have them eliminated, and has access to some vast resources and firepower.

Releasing the info on the Net made Chambers have to run to ground for a while. But for the team, and most likely Mr. Chambers, this was all far from over.

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Episode 22 Cold Leftovers

June 21st, 2038

After learning about the death of Hijacker, the team decides that their business with Tobias Luna and Biotechnica is complete. They head home to decide how to spend their newly earned cash.

Unfortunately, they find their home has again been attacked. The doors are smashed in and most of their equipment is gone. Torrent is missing, as is his dummy computer. The real one, hidden away, appears to be intact. Saito checks his hidden weapon storage, and finds it has been busted open, and his very expensive rifles are missing.

They immediately suspect that Alys Grant is at it again. However, when they check with Death in the Afternoon, they learn that is was a SPARS team that had raided the place. They immediately recall it was a SPARS team that was after Rico.

At noon, they head to the Forlorn Hope. There they meet with the Professor. He believes that Lt. Bubba McCarty must have somehow figured out that they were involved in his failing to catch Rico. Therefore he went to their shop to confront them. Finding only Torrent there, he likely arrested the netrunner and then confiscated everything they have of value to make sure the rest of the team doesn’t split town. His likely goal will be to have the team either turn over Rico, or implicate the Forlorn Hope crew in helping with his escape. They decide to give McCarty what he wants, sort of. They plan to give him Rico’s location, but with enough advance warning that Rico can make his escape.

Jarvic receives a phone call from Hamstring who offers him an opportunity to distribute his Super Fly in other cities such as Denver and Detroit. Jarvic is evasive, as he has no idea who Hamstring is. He promises to get back to Hamstring after he considers his options. After he hangs up the phone, Jarvic immediately looks into getting a different apartment.

Riptide and Zen go to the Night City Justice Center to turn themselves in. They are placed in separate interrogation chambers and left to wait.

McCarty interviews Riptide first. McCarty tells Riptide that he can get back most of his stuff if he cooperates. Riptide explains that they had dealt with an unknown fixer, so he does not know who ultimately got Ricco out of town. He says he does know where Rico is, however, and gives McCarty the location.

McCarty then talks to Zen. Zen sticks with the same story as Riptide.

McCarty is not convinced that they have shared everything, so he pumps both of them full of truth serum. Riptide holds out, but Zen reveals that they did the job as a favor for the Professor. They are then both thrown in jail for interfering with a police investigation.

June 22nd, 2038

Zen and Riptide are released, along with Torrent. McCarty promises the return of most of their gear once he has his hands on Rico. Zen contacts the Professor to see if McCarty had contacted him yet. He said no, but that he had received word that Hand had been killed. The three then return home.

After conferring with Riptide, Jarvic arranges to meet with Hamstring at The Catch. At 10:00 PM, he arrives there along with Zen and Riptide. They make a deal that keeps Riptide distributing in Night City while Hamstring can distribute the drug in Detroit. He needs a sizable batch upfront, which will take Jarvic a few weeks to produce.

They inquire about the Berlin deal and what Hijacker’s role was in it. Hamstring confirms that Hijacker was not the one who stole the date from Biotechnica, but set up the deal for someone else. Who that person is, Hamstring does not know.

June 23rd, 2038

Riptide receives a call from Dollar Bill who states that he just had a call from someone named Dog Tag. This Dog Tag was a friend of Hijacker’s and claims that he is the one who hacked the Biotechnica Database. When Dog Tag learned of Hijacker’s death, he began to investigate. A hack of Hijacker’s phone records indicated multiple calls to Dollar Bill. Realizing that everyone else involved in the Berlin deal is now dead, Dog Tag figures that he’s next. Dollar Bill gives Riptide a number to contact Dog Tag.

Riptide finds a young punk hacker looking to make an easy couple of bucks. He has the weefle runner dig up what he can on the phone number. The kid determines that the number originates from a hab unit on the Crystal Palace. The unit is registered to a Chris Hackabout.

Riptide decides to make contact. He speaks to Dog Tag who requests Riptide’s help in protecting him. Riptide asks why the team should help Dog Tag and Dog Tag responds with a question of his own. He asks if the team has ever done any work for Biotechnica and if so, have they ever been unconscious while in the presence of Biotechnica agents. Riptide realizes that Helios was when Tobias Luna took him.

Dog Tag explains that Berlin is a nanotech weapon that is injected into its target. Once the nano-bots are in place they can be triggered by a remote signal. Berlin prevents the body from expelling lactic acid. The effect is that the victim suffers from sudden soreness that quickly leads to full body cramping. Within 10 minutes, the person dies, poisoned by their own muscles.

Dog Tag tells Riptide what to look for in a blood test to indicate the existence of Berlin. If Riptide helps him, Dog Tag will give him the data he has from Biotechnica on how to shutdown and destroy the nano-bots.

Riptide calls Helios and has him head down to REO Meatwagon. Jarvic runs a blood test and determines that Helios indeed has been infected by Berlin.

Riptide, Saito, Jarvic, and Zen purchase tickets to Crystal Palace. They drive to Oakland and board a shuttle to the Johnson Space Platform. Then they head over to Crystal Palace via an OTV.

Around 11:00PM PST, they arrive at Crystal Palace. They head to Dog Tag’s domicile. They knock on the door and announce themselves. While they are waiting for him to open the door, Riptide spots an unusual object attached to the door underneath the doorknob. They tell Dog Tag to get back from the door. Saito takes a close look and identifies it as a shaped charge with a motion trigger. The moment the door started to open, the explosive charge would go through the door killing the person on the inside. In this case that person would be Dog Tag. Saito deactivates the bomb and detaches it from the door.

They have Dog Tag hack into Crystal Palace’s surveillance system to find out who planted the charge. He eventually finds video of a woman attaching the device to Dog Tag’s door as well as a button camera on the opposite wall. This means that the assassins know that their plan has been foiled.

They have Dog Tag work on finding a way to follow the women’s movements and find out where she is staying. Zen, Saito, and Jarvic get some sleep, while Riptide stays up on guard duty.

June 24th, 2038

About 1:00AM, Riptide takes a look through the door peephole. He yanks his head back just as a spike gets rammed through the door. A tube quickly replaces the spike. Suspecting that someone is about to pump gas into the room, Riptide swings the door open and goes on the attack.

Outside is the woman as well as another man. Riptide stabs the man, who is holding the tube, which is attached to a cylinder. The wound is not fatal, but apparently catches the man completely off guard and he collapses. The woman pops a set of wolvers, and attacks Riptide.

Zen, Saito, and Jarvic are awakened by the noise. Jarvic stands guard by Dog Tag, and Zen and Saito move to the door to assist Riptide. The other man quickly recovers and rejoins the fight.

Riptide battles it out with the man as Zen and Saito double-team the woman. The melee is fast and brutal but eventually Riptide pummels his opponent to the ground. Saito grapples the woman, and Zen secures her with some restraints.

The two are dragged back into the room and interrogated. The two edgerunners go by Angel and Klaus. They were hired by World Genetics to eliminate anyone involved in the theft and sale of Berlin. The two names left on their list are Dog Tag and Hamstring.

The team then spends the next couple of hours debating what to do. They ultimately decide to have Dog Tag erase the video surveillance of the incident. They make arrangements to get Dog Tag off of Crystal Palace and into hiding. They call Hamstring and apprise him of the situation. Jarvic gives the two edgerunners a lethal dose of a depressant and they leave the bodies in Dog Tag’s room. Chris Hackabout was an assumed name, so Dog Tag was not concerned about being traced.

They then make arrangements to get back off of Crystal Palace. But not before doing a little shopping, where Saito acquires an orbital crystal mono-blade. By late evening, they are back home in Night City.

June 25th, 2038

Jarvic gets to work on using the data Dog Tag gave them to process an antidote for Berlin, to give to Helios. Saito begins to conduct surveillance on Alys Grant’s home. Riptide conducts some business and then returns home to find a Night City Utility truck parked outside of their home. The truck is there to pull the illegal power connection that the team has been using. Riptide, with help from some members of Death in the Afternoon, chases them off.

June 26th, 2038

Zen heads into the hospital to get some sub-dermal armor implanted. Jarvic administers the Berlin counter-agent to Helios. He then goes to a ripperdock and gets some minor implant work done.

The utility truck returns along with a couple of Night City Police units. The team is issued a fine of $1,000 and ordered to pay some back charges.

June 27th, 2038

Saito continues his shadowing of Alys Grant. Zen is in the ICU due to complications of the surgery implanting her armor.

June 28th, 2038

Riptide gets their home set up with legal power service after paying the fine. The team learns that Professor brokered a deal with McCarty to bring Ricco back in. McCarty can get his televised perp-walk, but Ricco gets the treatment he needs rather than just getting tossed in jail.

June 29th, 2038

Saito continues shadowing Alys Grant. Riptide arranges to get some forged parking passes for Cloud Villas, the gated community that Alys Grant lives in.

June 30th, 2038

Network 54 News reports that SPARS commander Bubba McCarty has captured the Calypso Club Killer Enrico Estevez. Riptide goes to the Night City Justice Center to retrieve the team’s confiscated equipment. They are given back everything except most of the weapons. Saito’s Arasaka sniper rifle is returned however.

That evening, Riptide, Saito, and Helios go to pay Alys Grant a visit. They use the forged parking pass and are let into the community. Helios waits in the vehicle as Riptide and Saito go to her door.

They knock and a few moments later she answers. When she sees that it is them, she immediately tries to slam the door shut. Before she can get it closed, Saito throws his weight into the door, knocking her onto the ground.

Riptide produces both pistols and aims them at her head, while Saito clears the rest of the apartment. Once it is determined that they are alone, the talk commences.

Alys admits that she was behind the attack on their home and the hit on Hand. She had not planned on taking any further action as Hand is now dead, and she felt that the team has been adequately warned.

They demand she pays them $10,000 as compensation for the damage done to their place. They also make it clear to her that if she meddles with them at all; they will get to her and kill her. Once they are sure she understands the situation, they take their leave.

McCarty and Grant were now off of their backs, and Berlin incident has been wrapped up. With these loose ends secure, they could now start concentrating on their future. But there were other past events that were about to come back to haunt them.

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Episode 21 The Berlin Contingency

After chasing down Rico and helping getting him out of the city, the team focuses on healing. Toshi “Torrent” Kimura and Helios get out of the hospital, Torrent with a new cyberarm. Helios opts for some elective surgery and has some additional implants installed, further damaging his already ailing humanity. The team gets about a full month to recover.

June 19th, 2038

Helios gets a phone call from a male voice stating that Helios should assemble his team and meet at the Caf-Caf coffee house at 1:00 PM.

Saito arrives early to watch the place. He watches as a girl behind the counter gets a phone call to reserve a table with a full brain-dance station. A few minutes later, when Helios, Riptide, and Zen arrive, the same girl seems to recognize Helios, and directs them to the reserved table.

Reluctantly, they put the electrodes on their heads and begin the brain-dance session. They find themselves outside a stately manor as it snows. They approach the front door, which opens on its own. They find themselves in a spacious living room with a roaring fire in the fireplace.

A side door opens and a man steps in wearing a velvet smoking jacket and matching ascot. His face is hidden in shadow however. As he moves about the room, the shadow seems to follow him so that his face is never clearly visible.

He thanks the team for coming, and indicates that the team possesses a skill set that he needs to make use of. The company he works for has had some important proprietary data stolen from one of its orbital platforms. Two files were taken, and word on the street is that it is going to be sold in Night City. He will pay the team $20,000 to recover the data and another $10,000 if they identify and eliminate the thief.

The two files are named “Berlin” and “N792B.” The files contain blueprints and biological data. Both are encrypted and contain anti-hacking defenses. He recommends not attempting to look at the file.

Zen insists that he reveal whom they are working for. The man is reluctant but indicates that Biotechnica is hiring them and that their Copernicus Orbital Satellite’s datafortress was hacked. The team agrees to take the job and the brain-dance session ends.

The team goes on their separate ways. Zen heads to Infocomp to see what she can learn there. Riptide goes to the Forlorn Hope and talks to the Professor. Saito contacts Apoc, his Mossad contact in LA. Zen and Saito come up empty, but Riptide is steered to Dollar Bill who is currently hanging out at the Tequila Sunrise.

At 5:00 PM, Riptide is at Tequila Sunrise and talks to Dollar Bill. Dollar Bill does not know about any deals involving stolen Biotechnica data. He does tell Riptide that if the stolen data involves biological material, there are two people he should talk to. The first is Bill McKlusky, a body parts dealer down by the marina. The other is Hamstring, a biotech dealer that hangs out at a nightclub called The Catch.

The team members make contact and compare notes. Riptide decides that he will hunt down Bill McClusky. Zen decides that she will head to The Catch and track down Hamstring.

Riptide spends the rest of the day tracking down McClusky. He eventually finds him and inquires about the stolen data. Bill McClusky remains vague about how much he does or does not know about the deal. Eventually, Riptide gives Bill $200 in exchange for info on the deal, which Bill promises he will have the next morning.

Zen arrives at 10:00 PM at The Catch along with Saito, who will remain in the van. The Catch has a line out front full of hopefuls hoping to meet the bouncer’s high standards for which patrons they let in. Although she has to make a wardrobe adjustment, she is able to get in.

Inside the club, she talks to the bartender who indicates that Hamstring can be found up on the mezzanine. She makes her way up there and is eventually able to get Hamstring’s attention. He is a handsome man in his late twenties. Most everyone on the mezzanine is a member of his entourage.

They make small talk for a few moments and then get down to business. Zen is able to figure out pretty quick that Hamstring is involved in the deal. Naturally, he is reluctant to discuss the deal. When she learns that he is interested in the Super Fly drug that has been making the rounds, she offers to put him in contact with its creator in exchange for info on the deal.

She learns that Hamstring acted as a go between for a hacker named Hijacker and a ripperdoc named Hing Wu. Hijacker was selling the data to Hing Wu, which he referred to as Berlin. Hamstring gives Zen the address of Hing’s shop in Little China. As agreed, she gives him Jarvic’s contact info.

She stays until after 1:00 AM, and then heads to the van. She learns that Saito also had a successful night, involving one of the girls who were waiting in line outside.

June 20th, 2038

At 8:00 AM, Riptide returns to the marina to meet with McClusky at the appointed time. McClusky, however, is a no show. Riptide spends the rest of the morning searching for him. At noon, he tracks down McClusky who admits he has no information on the deal. McClusky pays back the $200, which Riptide makes clear he had better give back.

The team meets back at their home to discuss the situation. Riptide contacts the man who hired them on the number they were given. He explains that the deal has already gone down, but they know whom the buyer is and have a lead on the seller. The man explains that they are to get the files back from Wu and find out who sold the data. After Riptide hangs up, he realizes he recognizes the voice on the phone. It was Tobias Luna.

At 1:30 PM, they head to down to Little China and stop at Wu’s Infirmary and Cyber Center. Riptide and Zen go in to speak to Hing Wu. They speak to Hu, who naturally does not acknowledge any involvement in the sale. Riptide and Zen apply some pressure and he cracks. He was paid by a company called World Genetics to purchase the data when it was offered to him. He then had the data hidden in a data fortress for Amstein Agricultural. Riptide calls Tobias and indicates where the files are located. Tobias says that his own netrunners can extract the data from Amstein without any issues.

Torrent checks out the BBS sites and is able to determine that Hijacker is a netruuner. Riptide arranges to have Dollar Bill contact Hijacker in regards to a big job that would need to be discussed in person. They offer to fly him to Night City. They plan to take him to the Golden Saloon and determine if he is the guy they are after.

At 10:00 PM, Zen receives a phone call from Hamstring. He indicates that earlier that evening, someone killed Hing Wu. He was apparently tortured and executed. He wants to know if Zen’s crew is responsible. She denies it and states that he may be in danger and should probably lay low.

Riptide contacts Tobias and asks if he was the one who had Wu killed. Tobias says he had nothing to do with it. The data was at Amstein as Riptide had indicated, so as far as Tobias is concerned, that end of the matter was wrapped up.

At 11:00 PM, Zen gets a call from Hamstring. Hijacker called him, asking about the deal just offered him by Dollar Bill. Hijacker is aware the Wu is dead, and he is therefore reluctant to come to Night City. Using Hamstring as a go between, she is able to convince Hijacker to come to Night City where he will be under their protection. They schedule him on a 7:00 AM flight.

June 21st, 2038

The team checks its bank account first thing in the morning and find that Tobias deposited the $20,000 as promised. They then head to the airport, but after the flight from Denver arrives, its clear that Hijacker is not on it. Zen talks to the airline staff and is able to determine that Hijacker never got on the plane.

Zen contacts Nails, and asks her to check the homicide reports for Denver for the last 12 hours. Sure enough, Hijacker was found in his apartment, tortured and executed.

The team decides that this event ends the mission for them. They contact Tobias and indicate that Hijacker was the thief, and that he has been eliminated. Tobias is satisfied with this, and promises to deposit the remaining $10,000.

The team decides to head home having completed the mission. However, questions linger. If Hijacker was the last link in the chain, why was he tortured for information? Perhaps more importantly, who is doing the torturing? Who ever they are, they beat the team to Hijacker. Is Hamstring on their list? Is the team?

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Episode 20 The Last Long Rider

May 13th, 2038

Zen is hanging out at the Forlorn Hope catching up with Krissy and Roxie and comparing exploits. About 9:30 PM, Night City’s SPARS team storms in. Police in body armor begin passing out leaflets to each of the tables.

Zen takes a look at one and sees two photographs on it. The first is a Hispanic man in tiger stripe fatigues with the name Estevez on his name patch. Zen also notices that unit patch on his sleeve is for LRT-601. The second photo is of an armored up cyborg shooting in a wide arc in what appears to be a police or traffic cam video. The date stamp indicates it happened today.

One of the officers, a formidable looking man in body armor and a tight buzz cut takes to the stage and begins using the microphone. He indicates that the second photo is of a cyborg that went on a killing spree down at the Calypso Club earlier this evening. Apparently a deal went bad and he snapped. Anytime a person appears to have had a cyber-psychotic breakdown, its up to him and his SPARS team to bring the ‘borg down, one way or the other. He believes that the cyborg in the second picture is also the person in the first picture, Enrico Estevez, a South American War vet. The officer knows that the Forlorn Hope is a popular hangout for those vets, so he figures this is a good place to start looking. He asks if anyone has any information and is not surprised when he gets no response. He then reminds the crowd that a person suffering from Cyber-psychosis has lost all humanity and all control, and is no longer their normal selves. He also reminds them that he is authorized to take any measures he deems necessary to bring Estevez in, including using lethal force against anyone who gets in his way. On that ominous note, he and his team depart the Forlorn Hope.

Jonathan “Saito” David, who has been running some errands downtown, stops at the Forlorn Hope just in time to see the SPARS leaving. Intrigued, he enters as the John “Professor” Freeman starts calling off people’s names, including Zen’s, and asks them to follow him in back. Saito decides to tag along.

In the back are gathered familiar faces from previous jobs. Roxy and Krissy are there, as well as Marlo and Hollywood Henderson. The two bouncers IcMax “Ice Pick” Johnson and Ringo are there as well. A few unfamiliar faces are there as also there.

Professor indicates that Rico Estevez was a member of the Long Riders, just like himself, William “Dollar Bill” Dolarhyde, Icepick, and Ringo. Back in those days, Rico was a good and compassionate man. Unlike most of the unit that ended up here after the war, they lost contact with Rico. Rumor had him working as a mercenary, possibly living in Miami. If the cyborg in the photo is Rico, the Professor wants to do everything he can to help him. If Rico really has gone past the point of no return, he wants him to die at the hands of a friend, not some SPARS hit squad.

He is now asking for everyone’s help. He can’t pay anybody, but some people here do owe him. Zen and Saito can’t help but notice that he was looking at them when he uttered those words. He also states he wants to help Rico, but not at the cost of anyone else’s lives. He says that the SPARS leader is named McCarty, and that he will make good on his threat and roll over anyone who gets in his way. The Professor emphasizes the importance of avoiding a confrontation with the SPARS.

With that out of the way, he gets down to business. He says that McCarty indicated that the incident at the Calypso Club was the result of a deal gone sour. Since everyone Rico knows in Night City is currently in this room, its safe to assume that he was there on a business deal. The first step is to figure out with whom he was meeting with. The Professor knows that the Calypso Club is a popular hangout for the Blue Angles, a smuggling team, Union Force, a mercenary military unit, and the Morks, one of Night City’s bizarre poser gangs. The Professor divides the room into teams, each assigned to following a lead. Saito and Zen, along with Ringo, are given the job of driving out to the old Petrochem refinery, where Union Force is headquartered and find out what they know.

Zen places a quick call to Riptide, who is currently relaxing at home. He loads up all of the gear that he can fit into the van and drives to the Forlorn Hope, where he picks the other three up.

At about 11:00 PM, they arrive at the Union Force HQ. They pull up to the gate, but the guard booth appears to be empty. Closer inspection reveals that it seems to have acquired some recent bullet holes. Taking a look inside reveals two dead guards. Their pistols are still in their holsters and their M-16s, still racked. Riptide forces open the rolling gate and gets inside the booth. The bodies are still above room temperature, so the hit happened recently.

They then make their way across the compound to the main building. Zen finds the door unlocked and steps inside. She immediately has to step back out as she is greeted by a hail of gunfire. Zen is able to convince the person, named Sid, to cease fire and talk.

Sid indicates that a man named Stringer was working as a liaison between Union Force and its employer for a job in Indonesia. Stringer and their commander, Nate Ryder didn’t get along from day one. Things were coming to a head when the two of them decided to go over to the Calypso Club to talk things out. A few hours later, Stringer came back by himself, and then without warning, opened fire. Sid estimates that they have 20 currently dead here at the base.

The team seems to be on the right track. Ringo confirms this when he says that Stringer is a handle that Rico had frequently used. Zen asks Sid what he knows about Stringer. He knows that Stringer is staying at the EZ Overnighter Luxury Coffins. Beyond that, he knows little. Zen gives him her contact information and they then head out for the EZ Overnighter.

Close to midnight, the team arrives at the EZ Overnighter. The clerk confirms that there is a heavily modified solo staying on sight, but states that it is against company policy to reveal where tenants are staying. Zen and Riptide each give him $100, which helps convince him to make an exception. The clerk tells them that he is staying in coffin 121.

They head to coffin bunker #1 and find coffin 21. Saito positions himself in an overgrown lot next door that gives him line of fire on the bunker. Riptide uses a key he got from the clerk to open the door, but as he is opening it, he detects that the door is rigged. Luckily he is able to stop himself before triggering the mine that was wired to the door. Ringo is able to remember enough of his demolition skills to disarm the trigger and allow them to open the door.

Inside that find some personal gear and a photo taped to the ceiling. The photo is of LRT-601, posing for the camera while in the jungle. The team can recognize younger versions of the Professor and others from the Forlorn Hope.

Then they notice a cyborg emerging from the shadows on the north side of the facility. Ringo recognizes the man as Rico. Rico immediately opens fire with his Militech Renegade. Ringo dives into the coffin while Riptide runs to a nearby maintenance shed. Zen is not able to get out of the line of fire, but her armor protects her.

While Zen tries to get out of the line of fire, Ringo yells at Rico to stop shooting. Luckily, Rico recognizes his old squad mate and ceases fire. Ringo is able to convince Rico to come to their position. Once there, they are able to talk.

Rico does not appear to have gone cyber-psychotic, but he seems to be right on that edge. He confirms that he was working as a liaison for a job with Union Force. He did not get along with Nate Ryder, who seemed to have contempt for South Am Vets. The two were basically ordered by the Union Force members to work out their problems before they went forward with the job. So the two went to Nate’s favorite hangout, the Calypso Club. But once there, Nate started in on him again and basically he told Rico he needed to shut up and take it. Rico finally snapped and went after Nate, regardless of who got in his way.

After years of killing and all of the cybernetic enhancements that have chipped away his humanity, the fact that many innocents were caught in the crossfire seems to bother him little. All he could think about was killing Nate. The tragic irony is that out of all the deaths he caused, Nate was not one of them.

Rico is clearly in trouble, not just legally, but also mentally. He is in a heap of trouble and begins to despair. Then Ringo tells him that the Professor is still around, and wants to help. Learning the their old unit leader is at the Forlorn Hope, Rico agrees to go.

Just as the team gets ready to leave the EZ Overnighter, an Arasaka Combat 10 APC rolls onto the lot. The Union Force label is emblazoned on the sides. The back ramp opens and 30 armed men, including Nate Ryder pile out. The team is caught in the open. There are able to find cover, but not before the Union Force men spot them and open fire.

A massive firefight ensues. The team is outnumbered six to one, but they have a better position, and a cyborg on their side. Saito moves up to a better position and begins sniping opponents moving across the lot. Ringo and Rico take the north side. Zen and Riptide try and hold the middle.

Several of Forcers spot Saito’s position and begin to try and flank him. A group of Forcers, including Nate Ryder, moves up the middle, trading shots with Zen and Riptide. Planning to take down a cyborg, the Forcers are all armed with armor piercing rounds. Nate throws a frag grenade right on Riptide’s position, but the grenade fails to fully detonate and Riptide is shaken, but unharmed.

On the north side, a majority of the Forcers move on Ringo and Rico, and are able to draw them into crossfire. Ringo is badly wounded, but Rico’s metal plating holds up, even against the AP rounds. He is able to drag Ringo to safety, and then goes guns a blazing against the Forcers.

Saito has to change position as the flankers on the south side as begin to move in on him. In the middle, Riptide is able to wound Nate, though lightly. Nate is able to score a hit on Riptide. His weapon is armed with specially made penetrator rounds, which are normally used against lightly armored vehicles. It rips through Riptide’s armor, and he goes down.

On the north side, Rico is making easy work of his enemies. His SAW rips apart the Forcers while their own AP rounds are barely scratching him. Finally, the Forcers radio forward the APC, which opens fire on Rico with its 40mm cannon. The first shot misses, blasting apart a coffin. Rico is able to get out of the way of the second shot and he moves himself close enough to the APC that the turret cannon cannot target him.

The APC crew instead uses the .50 caliber machine gun. They cannot target Rico with that either, but they can draw a bead on Zen, still positioned in the middle. The half-inch rounds slam into her. Her armor holds, but it is torn up, and she can already feel her whole body turning purple from the bruising.

The south flankers throw a grenade on to Saito’s position. He is able to avoid the blast. He is unable to continue supporting Zen in the middle, as he must now address the soldiers that are now in position to attack him.

Rico moves around the back of the APC and comes face to face with Nate Ryder. Nate tries to bring him down with his penetrator rounds, but Rico’s enhanced reflexes are faster, and Rico guns down the Union Force leader.

With Nate dead, and three quarters of their men dead or wounded, the Union Force calls a retreat. The APC moves to hold the middle as the remaining men, and whomever they can drag, get into the APC.

As soon as the APC moves off of the property, Zen helps Riptide back to his feet and Rico picks up Ringo. Saito joins them just as they hear the sounds of sirens off in the distance.

They quickly pile into the van and fight the temptation to race away at full speed. Instead they drive away at a casual pace. They get only a couple of blocks away, when they see the SPARS team racing to the EZ Overnighter.

They take Rico to the Forlorn Hope, where the Professor and Dollar Bill are waiting. Dollar Bill already has resources in place to get Rico out of town. Along, with Ringo, they then pay a visit to Trapper John to get stitched up.

Rico appears to be safe now, and hopefully he gets the help he needs from his friends. But what about the team? The SPARS will find Union Force members at the EZ Overnighter. The Union Force has Zen’s cell phone number. How long before Lt. McCarty and the SPARS are knocking on the their door?

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Episode 19 When the Chips are Down

After returning the missing boy to his mother, the next few weeks are quiet. Torrent is a bit disturbed that a coworker at Raven Micro-Cybernetics seems to know that Torrent is the one selling the Wraith program. Torrent claims to know nothing about it, but then begins to rethink how he is selling the program as clearly someone has started putting the pieces together.

Helios begins making some security related modifications both to the tow truck and his motorcycle. Zen works on figuring out how to use her resources at Infocomp to learn about who it is at Arasaka that wants them dead.

April 28th, 2038

Zen is hanging out at The Afterlife when a man in a black suit approaches her. He introduces himself as Webbs. He has an offer for a quick job. He is going to make an exchange in two hours at the Blowtorch, a club on the west side known for its tendency to play grind core. Its 500 bucks for a couple hours work. Zen agrees. He insists they go there straight away. Although he offers to share a cab, Zen insists on taking her motorcycle, despite the pouring rain.

On the way, she calls home and asks for backup. Riptide, Jonathan “Saito” David, and Torrent agree to help her out. Several rain-soaked minutes later, she arrives at the Blowtorch, right behind Webbs. They head inside. The other three arrive a few minutes later. Riptide and Torrent keep an eye on things from the outside. Saito heads in and takes a seat in a position that allows him to watch Zen and Webbs’ table.

While they wait, Webbs tries to make small talk and buys a drink for himself and Zen. Saito observes a Japanese man in a black suit by the bar, watching the table.

A few short moments later, Zen notices two young punks moving towards them. They brandish pistols and immediately start shooting. Webbs is hit in the arm before Zen can get between him and the attackers. She begins to push him towards the door, doing her best to use the crowd as cover. She then becomes their target. Her armor protects her from most of the hits, though she does take a grazing wound to the head. Saito, who had been watching the Japanese man, begins to move towards the two punks.

Zen gets Webbs safely to her motorcycle where she applies quick first aid to his bullet wound. Unfortunately, he looks much paler than he should for a relatively minor wound. He then complains that he does not feel very well. She orders him onto her bike and tells him to hold on. She then races to the ripperdoc Trapper John.

The two punks burst out of the club just as Zen drives away. Apparently they do not have a means to follow and dejectedly walk in the other direction. Torrent and Riptide follow them for several blocks, at which point the two punks make their way into a corner bar. Riptide and Torrent follow. Inside they hear the two argue over whether it was a successful job. One feels they failed because they did not kill Webbs. The other sees it as a success because they were paid up front.

Much to Torrent’s surprise, Riptide pulls out his two pistols and puts them at the back of the punks’ heads. Torrent quickly fumbles for his gun and follows suit. The two punks state that they were paid up front by some guy with a southeastern accent to go into the club and kill Webbs. Who the guy was or why he wanted them dead, the two of them didn’t know and didn’t ask. Realizing that he was dealing with a couple of over-their-heads rookies, Riptide confiscates their weapons and leaves them be.

Zen is racing to the ripperdoc’s when she feels Webbs let go. She stops the motorcycle just as Webbs collapses onto the street. She calls for Saito who is already on his way in the van. When Saito arrives, they get Webbs into the van and go to Trapper’s.

Unfortunately, Trapper has to point out that he is not a body bank, as Webbs is Dead on Arrival. They pay Trapper to run a toxin screen, which he indicates he will have the results of tomorrow.

Zen goes through Webbs’ suit and finds about $1,500 cash, an odd-looking data chip, and a business card. This business card is for Frank Harnes, a sales manager for Unlimited Concepts’ Orbital Division. On the back are several notes. There is a note to call John Burks, but there is no number. There is a phone number for a Frita Loay’s, and along the bottom a Net address. Torrent examines the chip, but it is of a type he does not recognize. It will not work in a standard chip reader.

Meanwhile, back home, Helios is hanging out when the power suddenly goes out. He goes on high alert, and makes contact with the other team members as the back up generator kicks in. However, it appears that the storm has knocked out all power in their area. It comes back on a few hours later.

April 29, 2038

The team learns that a high strength synthetic poison killed Webbs. Trapper figures it likely came from a Japanese biotech lab. Beyond that, the team does not further investigate the matter.

April 30, 2038

Riptide is home alone cleaning his guns when he feels a tap on his shoulder. He attempts to judo flip the person over him, but the intruder easily parries the attack. Riptide goes for a pistol, which the man makes no attempt to stop. He does tell Riptide to relax. He just wants to talk. The man is Japanese and dressed in a black suit. The man asks if Riptide has the chip. Riptide says he does not have it on him, but he knows where it is. The man indicates that he is willing to pay for the chip. When Riptide says tells him to name a starting price, the man states that he is willing to pay $100,000 for the chip. Riptide agrees without further negotiation.

With the price agreed upon, the man hands Riptide an envelope to “prove” that the offer is serious. In it are five tickets for transport to Crystal Palace. There are also hotel accommodations for two nights as well as a Crystal Palace credit chip worth $10,000. The orbital flight is in Saturday.

The rest of the team returns home to learn the news. They are surprised to learn that the tickets are in their real names. Also, the question was brought up as to how he got in without triggering any of the alarm systems.

The biggest questions are what is on the chip and who is willing to pay so much for it. However, the team chooses not to look into it.

May 1st, 2038

The team goes about their regular routines, still not feeling a need to look into what they have gotten themselves into. They do take precautions however. They make sure that one of them is carrying the chip at all times, and make sure that that person is never alone. Saito begins to wear full combat armor around the house so that he is ready at a moment’s notice.

May 2nd, 2038

On Sunday, Riptide and Zen are at the Mallplex shopping. Helios is working in the garage, while Saito is camped out in Torrent’s apartment, with Torrent who currently holds the chip.

Torrent steps out of the bathroom when the armored window in the living room has a hole punched in it followed an instant later by Torrent’s right arm exploding at the bicep. Time seems to stand still for a moment as Saito and Torrent stare at the stump where Torrent’s arm was attached just moments ago.

Then gunfire erupts outside, breaking the moment. Torrent collapses as Saito runs to him, staying below the window. Helios is on his way to investigate when one of the doors in the garage explodes. Just as he recovers his senses, two men armed with squad assault weapons begin to riddle the garage with bullets. Helios tries to return fire, but is pinned down by the gunfire.

Saito ties a tourniquet around the remainder of Torrents arm. He is stabilized but will need medical attention soon. Saito grabs the massive Arasaka WSSE/R sniper rifle and crawls out into the hallway. Helios is there trying to avoid the lead storm blasting its way through the hall. Saito is able to spot one of the assailants and takes a shot. The .50 caliber electro-thermo round punches through the man’s armor, blowing most of his chest out his back.

Helios is able to crawl back to Saito’s position. As the other man changes position to regain line of sight with Helios, Saito is waiting for him, and his next shot takes the other man down as well.

Saito decides to go back into Torrent’s apartment while Helios decides to take a look outside the garage. Outside they can see members of Death in the Afternoon exchanging fire with men armed with assault rifles.

Saito looks out the window where the shot that brought down Torrent came through. As soon as he sticks his head up, a shot is fired from the building across the street. It goes low, striking the wall instead. However, this sniper is also using electro-thermo rounds, although of a smaller size. The shot is big enough punch through the wall and go through Saito’s armor. Luckily it has spent too much energy to be lethal at that point.

This does give Saito a chance to spot his opponent. Both snipers line up their shots, but Saito gets his off first. His shot is also low, but the .50 caliber round still packs enough punch after going through the wall and body armor, that it kills the sniper.

Helios steps outside the blown out garage door and is immediately hit by a sniper round in the chest. It goes through his armor, but his enhanced musculature helps keep it form being fatal. He goes down nonetheless.

Aware that Helios is down, Saito returns to the garage and based on where Helios was hit, figures where the other sniper is hidden. Another sniper battle ensues, this time ending with Saito’s headshot decapitating the other sniper.

Saito contacts Jarvic to get an REO Meatwagon ambulance for Torrent and Helios. He then speaks to Neil, the leader of Death in the Afternoon. They had driven off the other attackers. They had questioned a survivor that they had captured, and he indicated that they were hired by a tall redhead who wants the team eliminated.

A few minutes later, Riptide and Zen returns. Saito fills them in on what happened. He first assumed it was someone after the chip, but based on what Neil told him, it seems that Alys Grant is trying to tie up some loose ends. Riptide calls Hand who knows nothing about it, but said he would look into the matter.

The rest of the day is spent repairing the damage to their home. They also check in on Torrent and Helios who are both stabilized and doing okay.

May 3rd, 2038

First thing Monday Morning, Riptide gets a call from Hand. It seems Rya Mendez got her old job back at Upstairs Downstairs and went back to work at the Bartholomew School for Advanced Studies. Either she or Jace Grant slipped up, because Alys got wind of what was going on. She then somehow figured out that Rya was the kidnapper, and decided to get some payback against the edgerunners who claimed the matter had been dealt with.

Obviously, this is an issue that cannot be ignored. However, it will have to wait, because the team, at least those not in the hospital, need to get to Oakland to catch an Orbital Air flight to the Crystal Palace. They also have to rethink their protection, as firearms are prohibited on board the orbiting station.

A three-hour drive takes them to the Oakland Spaceport, from where they take a 6 hour flight into orbit. Once in space, they board the Johnson Space Platform, where they await transport to Crystal Palace. Shortly there after, they are on an OTV heading towards the Crystal Palace. About half way through the to hour journey the shuttle shakes and depressurization warning lights go on. Luckily the team paid attention to the preflight safety briefing and were able to find their pressure suits under their seats.

All three are able to get their suits on, but now the shuttle is tumbling through space. Most of the crew is dead, due to a tank that ruptured up near the command cabin. The few crewmen that remain ask if anyone knows how to fix the damaged navigational system. Unfortunately, Riptide, who has a knack for such things, is busy holding down a hospital bed back in Night City. Zen, Saito, and Riptide take a look at the problem, but it is clearly beyond their capabilities.

So instead, they are left to wait. They continue to tumble through space for several hours before a rescue craft is able to arrive, stabilize them, and tow them the rest of the way to Crystal Palace. This gives the team time to contemplate whether the explosion was an unfortunate accident or was someone trying to make sure that shuttle never got to Crystal Palace.

Finally, in the late evening, PST, they arrive. Crystal Palace is a massive cylinder of glass and chrome encircled by numerous rings that rotate, giving the inhabited areas an impressive .7 G.

Inside looks like Las Vegas during its heyday. It’s an endless series of entertainment attractions wrapped in holoscreens and flashing marquees. Less than half of the people are locals, known as Highriders. Most people are visitors, like the team.

They check into their hotel rooms first. Saito looks through his for any listening devices, and discovers one behind a painting. He takes it and places it in Zen’s room, while everyone sets up camp in his room.

They head out and find a nice restaurant where they enjoy a good meal, which they pay for with the credit chip. They then spend the remainder of the evening at the casino. Riptide and Zen lose money at the slots, but Saito comes out ahead at the Black Jack table.

During the course of the evening, Saito notices an Italian man watching him. Zen notices a Chinese woman watching her. Riptide does not notice anyone taking an interest in him. They make no attempt to approach these tails, and instead call it a night and return to their room. They find a message waiting for them to meet in a specified room at 7:00 PM tomorrow.

May 4th 2038

In the morning, there is a knock on Saito’s door. Room service has brought a breakfast on the house. Saito tells the bellhop to enjoy the breakfast him self, and sends him on his way.

Today, they spend the day seeing other areas of the orbiting habitat. They visit the arboretum and check out some of the stores. Saito finds a cyberware store that sells sleek, but expensive orbital crystal cybernetics. He finds a cyberarm that is durable, but light weight, weighing little more than a normal human arm. The price tag is $7,000, but he purchases with the credit chip, to give to Torrent.

While visiting a bar in the afternoon, a man in an Italian suit approaches Riptide, acting as if they have meet before. He comments that it is good to see Riptide again, and offers to shake his hand. Riptide is hesitant at first, but then notices the man palming a piece of paper. Riptide shakes the man’s hand and watches as the man walks away.

Turning back to the bar, he looks at the paper and reads the message. It indicates that the messenger, or whom ever he works for is willing to pay $200,000. They are to meet in a specified room at 6:00 PM today.

They decide to return to Saito’s room to discuss their next move. After considerable deliberation, they decide to go to the meeting at 6:00 PM.

At the appointed time, they arrive at the room. A tall blonde Scandinavian woman opens the door. She escorts them into the suite, where another woman, nearly a twin, awaits. Riptide notices that they are both carrying flechette pistols.

A man emerges from one of the bedrooms and greets them. He says his name is Karl, and he speaks in a light German accent. He asks to see the chip, which they produce. He places it in a special chip reader, and after a few keystrokes, watches blueprints flash across the screen. Satisfied, he produces a credit chip and places it in another chip reader. The display indicates that the chip has $200,000 on it. He turns the chip over to Riptide.

When the team begins to question him about what is on the chip, he seems surprised that they know so little about what they are involved in. He explains that he works for the European Space Agency, and that the blueprints come from NASA. Any further questions are deflected, and the team makes their exit.

Realizing that NASA, as it appears their original buyers were, will be vary displeased to learn they sold the blueprints to the ESA, they try to book immediate transport off of Crystal Palace. Unfortunately, the next shuttle does not leave for another three and a half hours and their NASA meeting is in one half hour. They have to figure out how to lay low in an enclosed environment.

They decide the best thing to do is hide in plain sight. They decide to stick to populated areas where there would be too many witnesses. So they find themselves milling about in the Palace’s main shopping center. They keep an eye out for anyone coming their way and always keep each other in sight.

Despite the vigilance, Riptide is startled to find the black clad Japanese man standing behind him. The man points out that it is now 8:00 PM, and that Riptide failed to show for their meeting at 7:00 PM. The man demands to know why the team failed to show. Riptide admits that they have had another offer for more money.

Needless to say, the man is quite displeased. He asks if the deal has gone through yet, to which Riptide falsely replies that it has not. The man berates the team for accepting a free ride to Crystal Palace, free lodging, and a $10,000 credit chip as a goodwill gesture, only to then betray him as soon as someone comes along flashing more money. He indicates that he awaits the team’s decision, but if they do not go through with his deal, he expects to be reimbursed for all of the money they have spent.

The team then spends considerable time deciding what to do next. Ultimately they accept that their bed has already been made. Since the ESA has the data chip, they are unlikely to sell it back. Even if they did, who’s to say they have not already copied it. So they go to the room that was designated for their meeting with NASA and explain that they have taken the other offer. The Japanese man demands and receives reimbursement for the money they used. He then inquires to whom they sold it to. Riptide gives him the hotel room number. The man produces a pocket computer and looks up the room. He then chuckles and wishes the team a safe ride home.

May 5th, 2038

After an “over-night” flight, they find themselves back on terra firma at the Oakland Spaceport. By the early afternoon they are back in Night City. Bothered by the Japanese man’s chuckle, Riptide immediately tries to cash the credit chip he got from the ESA. His suspicion is realized when the chip comes up empty.

Once they are settled back in, Riptide attempts to contact Hand, but finds that the normal contact number has been disconnected. They stop at the Forlorn Hope and talk to the Professor. He indicates that word on the street is that someone turned up the heat on Hand and that he has split town.

Finding themselves in the hole financially from the NASA/ESA deal, and now without their main contact for corporate jobs, the team returns home and begins the work of repairing their headquarters.

May 6th – May 10th, 2038

The team starts working their street contacts to find out what the story is regarding the contract that was put out on them. It seems that no one is currently out to get them. Perhaps Alys felt she made her point with the last attack on their home. They also find out that Rya Mendez has been deported, and that there is a contract out on Hand. They also continue work on their home repairs.

With two of their members hospitalized, a lucrative deal botched, their home trashed, and their corporate contact on the run, things haven’t looked this bad since they first got to Night City. On the plus side, it can’t get any worse. Maybe.

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Episode 18 Thicker than Blood

The team gets about six weeks of down time between missions. During this time Saito and Zen quite their part time jobs and begin street salvage operations. Helios puts time in as well for the new business.

April 6, 2038

Riptide gets a call from Hand indicating that he has a job offer and to meet him at the Cloud 9 restaurant. Riptide promptly shows up, and over a rather expensive meal he learns that a corp named Alys is looking to hire for a job that pays $10,000. If he wants it, he should show up with the team at the Night City Fine Arts Museum.

Riptide contacts the team and they arrive at the Museum at 11:00 PM. Hand is there waiting for them and escorts them into a closed section of the museum. Alys, a tall slender red-headed woman in an expensive suit and wearing even more expensive jewelry, is waiting for them. She explains that her son failed to come home from school that afternoon. The school is a secure facility. The staff does not know how he was taken. Her son’s name is Jace and he is nine years old. There has been no attempt to demand a ransom. She wants the team to find him and bring him back safely. There is a $1,000 bonus if they deal with the kidnappers.

The team presses her for more information, but she is not forthcoming. She refuses to give them any personal information, including her last name. She does indicate that the school he was kidnapped from has been told they would be coming and to cooperate with the investigating team.

The team’s first priority is the safe return of her son. The second is that there must be no media involvement what so ever. They agree and she gives them a picture of Jace as well as a $1,000 cash advance.

The team returns home where Zen has Torrent hack the computer system for the Bartholomew School for Advanced Studies. He finds vendor information for IntCop, the security service there and Upstairs Downstairs, which provides custodial and food services. He then finds a student record for Jace Grant. His legal guardian is listed as Alys Grant, living at 1705 Cloud Villa. He finds the faculty records and learns that the school has a new teacher this year, Isaac Hussein. As he is looking, a trace program gets the jump on him and he is forced to leave. He tries to return a short time later but finds that the school’s computer has been taken offline.

April 7, 2038

In the early morning, Riptide, Torrent, and Zen go to the school to meet with the headmaster, Ms. White. They find that the school is located in a poor part of town. It is not the Combat Zone, but its hardly downtown either. A security fence with a manned gate surrounds the entire property. They are told by the guards to check in any weapons. They give Zen an odd look as she turns over her AK-47.

With that business taken care of they are allowed onto the property. The primary school facility is located in the center. On the west side is the dorms for students who live on sight as well as a music center. On the east side is an athletics field along with a large field house and gym.

They are escorted into the schools administration office where they meet Ms. White, a grey-haired woman in her 60’s. She has a strong maternal instinct and refers to the students as “my children.”

She indicates that they have never lost a student before. There is a camera on the gate, but know indication of Jace leaving through it. The fence is alarmed, and was never set off. Jace had his last class that ended at 4:00 PM and he has not been seen since.

Zen inquires about his last class and Ms. White indicates that it was Dr. Phil Carry’s corporate law class. They wish to question him, but she says that he called in sick today. They ask if he calls in a lot and she says no, but the frequency of his absences has been on the increase lately. Other faculty have also remarked about his seeming to be nervous and agitated lately.

The team returns home. Torrent begins to research Dr. Carry while the others attend to day jobs. Dr. Carry has no criminal record and has been employed at the school for several years. Prior to that he taught at a University in Houston.

At 7:00 PM, Torrent, Saito and Zen go to Dr. Carry’s home. Zen and Torrent take the elevator, while Saito takes the stairs. Torrent and Zen knock on the door and Phil Carry answers. They discuss Jace, whom Phil describes an average student. The only thing that struck him as odd, was Jace’s recent interest in parental rights laws.

Phil’s wife then bursts forth from the bedroom, wearing a gown and tiara, interrupting their interview. She refers to the team as her subjects and seats herself before them in a stately fashion. Embarrassed, Phil escorts his wife back into the bedroom.

He explains that she used to be a computer engineer who was always a fan of online role-playing games. However, while playing one that used a brain-dance interface, she suffered a sever trauma. Since then, her ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality has been greatly diminished. He suspects that someone planted a malicious virus in the game that attacked her mentally. He has had to stay home frequently as of late because her condition has been deteriorating.

Before leaving, they ask him about Isaac Hussein. Phil explains that Isaac is a psychology teacher who has a fascination with street culture. Beyond that, Isaac seems like at normal person.

Torrent places a call to the number that Alys gave them. He leaves a voicemail message indicating that he wishes to speak to her.

April 8, 2038

Riptide returns to the school in the morning and begins to watch video footage of the gate camera. He keeps track of all of the incoming and outgoing traffic and compares it to the traffic on other days. It takes him all morning and well into the afternoon, but eventually he spots a Upstairs/Downstairs truck that made a non-routine visit to the school the day Jace disappeared. Furthermore, it leaves shortly before it’s discovered that Jace is missing.

Torrent does some more research into Alys Grant. He learns she has a middle management position at Infotech. Comparing the average salary for a woman in her position to the likely lively expenses that she has to maintain her lifestyle, Torrent suspects that Alys has an additional source of income.

Based on the information that Riptide had learned, he and Zen go to Upstairs/Downstairs. They speak with a manager there and learn that the non-routine visit to the school was to pick up some floor equipment for maintenance. The driver of that truck was Rya Mendez. They ask to speak with her, but the manager indicates that Rya has resigned her position. He does however, have her home address.

Around 7:00 PM, Helios and Zen go to 3722 Brownstone, the listed address for Rya Mendez. Interestingly enough, the homes on Brownstone are in fact Brownstones. They knock on the door, and after several locks are released, a gray haired woman in her late 60s answers. She says her name is Marta and she owns the home. Rya rents a room from her. She left this morning, and Marta has not seen her since. She knows little about Rya’s personal life and little useful information is gained from her.

The two continue to stake out the home waiting for Rya’s return. At 9:00 PM, a man in a trench coat pulls up on a motorcycle. He goes to the door and knocks. Marta answers and the two talk for a few second. Marta disappears back into the house and returns a few moments later with a couple of envelopes, and gives them to her visitor. He returns to his motorcycle and drives off.

While Helios maintains watch over the home, Zen tails the man back to downtown. He heads into the The Afterlife, and Zen follows. She watches at the bar while he drinks his beer alone. He then reluctantly pulls out the two envelopes. He opens the first, looks at it briefly, and then rips it up. The second is a letter, which he reads intently. When he finishes reading the letter, he is all smiles and happily puts the letter back in his jacket. He orders a shot, which he quickly downs, then he is back on his motorcycle.

Zen follows him deep into the Combat Zone. She stays alert as possible, as there are fewer more dangerous places to be after dark then the Combat Zone. She tails him to and old apartment building. It is dark inside, as there appears to be no power anywhere on this city block. She calls in, and Saito indicates that he is on his way to back her up. While she is waiting she pulls out the torn pieces of mail that she snatched off of the bar before leaving the Afterlife. She pieces it together and sees that it’s a bank loan rejection letter addressed to a Nick Desmond. The address is 3722 Brownstone. Apparently, Marta has another roommate.

When Saito arrives, they go into the building. The hallways are pitch black. Saito leads the way using his infrared optics to see. They head up to the upper level, and begin listening at doors. Most of the rooms appear to be occupied by squatters. When the come to a door, beyond which they here the sound of things being push around. They knock.

There is a moment of silence and then a voice responds, wanting to know who they were. They ask to be let in, but the voice refuses. He does admit to being Nick Desmond. Questioning him through the door reveals that he pays Marta a small monthly fee to use her home as a mailing address. She gets his mail, takes his messages, and if anyone asks, will say he lives there. He states it’s a lot easier to get a job and be taken seriously in general, if people think you have a permanent address.

Upon learning this, they head back to Marta’s. Its about midnight, but they don’t let this stop them from banging on her door. Eventually she answers. They demand to know about Rya. At first Marta is evasive, but Zen explains she knows Rya doesn’t actually live there. Marta admits that she runs this service for a number of clients, as it provides a nice income to get her through her late years. She is still hesitant to reveal any information about Rya, until Zen explains that Rya may be involved in the kidnapping of a child. Upon learning this, Marta relents. She goes through her records and says she has a note indicating that Rya lives in the 12th Street Alley, Hillview. Hillview is the same part of town as the Bartholomew School for Advanced studies.

April 9th, 2038

In the early morning hours, the team reunites, except for Torrent, and head down to Hillview. Unfortunately, the streets are not labeled, and there is no way to identify which street is 12th Street. They have already drawn the attention of the local street punks, so Zen approaches one. He is naturally unhelpful until she gives him $50. He then gladly points the way to the 12th St. Alley.

The team moves in. The first thing they notice is the smell of someone cooking meth, or whatever the latest variation is, that’s popular this week. They skip the shack that is the source of that smell and visit the next one. They wake up a woman and question her about Rya and the boy. The woman indicates that the Rya lives in the last shack on the left.

A thunderstorm rolls in and begins to dump rain into the alley, as they close in on their target. Helios knocks on the door. This is followed by a rapid shuffling sound from within. Not wanting to take any chances, Riptide kicks in the door and sees Rya Mendez attempting to hide the boy under the bed.

While, Helios and Saito stand watch outside, Zen and Riptide question the woman. She says that she moved here from Colombia 10 years ago. While she was working at a hospital, she was paid to take part in some genetic testing. A short time later, she was approached by a doctor asking if she would be willing to be a surrogate mother. There was a woman who wanted to have children but was unable. In exchange for her services, she would be given a nice apartment to live in. Since she was living on the street at the time, she agreed.

As the time grew close to give birth, she began to regret her decision, and wanted to keep the baby. She hired a lawyer, but learned that the contract she signed gave her no legal claim to the child. When the baby was born, it was taken from her immediately, before she could even see him.

She began to snoop around, trying to learn who had the child. But then, shortly there after, she was fired from the hospital. Her apartment was then taken away and she was back on the street. The contract entitled her to the apartment only while she was caring for the child.

Despite these setbacks, she continued to look for her son. Eventually, she found him at the Bartholomew School for Advanced Studies. She took a job at Upstairs/Downstairs, and got a position at the school as soon as one opened up. Her intention was simply to be close to Jace. However, she soon realized that he was very unhappy at home. He preferred to stay at school rather than have to go home to a mother he said didn’t care for him.

Eventually, Rya could not bear it any longer and told Jace who she was. The two then formulated a plan to escape to Colombia. Rya has tickets for a flight that leaves later today. She begs the edgerunners to let her and her son go. It is clear that Jace would rather stay in this shack with Rya, rather than return to his much nicer home with Alys.

Their pleas fall on deaf ears, however. Zen reminds Rya that she signed a contract and that a deal is a deal. While she closely watches Rya, Riptide snatches up the boy and carries him out the waiting van at the end of the ally. They leave Rya to her sobbing as they drive out of Hillview with the boy. Riptide places a call to Hand, who is very pleased to hear that they have found the boy. He asks if they took care of the kidnappers. Riptide lies and says the kidnappers were just some punks who were looking for a ransom, but they had been eliminated. Satisfied with the answer, Hand has them meet outside the Forlorn Hope at 6:00 AM.

Since 6:00 AM is only a couple of hours away, they decide to stay mobile, rather than return home. Zen tries to feed and console the boy, but he wants no part of any of it.

At the appointed time, they arrive at the Forlorn Hope. Two cabs arrive. Hand steps out of the first one, and asks them to turn over the boy. They do, and he escorts the boy into the second cab, which immediately drives away. He then returns to the first cab, and gets a credit chip from Alys who waits inside. He gives the team their pay, and then leaves in the first cab.

With the deal done, they returned home. All in all, it was a good mission. They found the boy and got their pay. Not losing any of their vehicles, or even having to fire a shot, meant this mission cost them very little. Unless of course you count the pieces of their humanity that they had to cash in.

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Episode 17 What Goes Up

Usually the team gets a few weeks or more between major actions, but this time there is no rest for the wicked. Only two weeks after the Southside Scandal, another opportunity comes knocking.

February 3, 2038

Riptide is contacted by Hand who has a job offer. He introduces Riptide to Janet Towlend and Logan Bilstants. They want to hire the team to transport an unspecified cargo from the Oakland Spaceport back to Night City. The cargo is set to arrive tomorrow night via an Orbital Air shuttle. All they need to do is take the provided cargo van to pick it up, and return the van with the unspecified cargo back to Night City. If all goes well, it should be an easy payday of $8,000.

The team meets the two corps at the Forlorn Hope and pick up the van. It turns out that the man providing the wheels for this operation is none other than “Hollywood” Henderson. He shows off the van, with armored sides, vehicle link, and super-charged engine. Most interesting is the feature in the pack: a sealable biohazard containment vault. This gets the team wondering about the unspecified cargo that Janet described as “slightly illegal.”

They take the van back to Jimmy Two Teeth’s, to check it out. Helios, not surprisingly, finds it equipped with a Lowjack tracker and disables it. They then take it back home and get ready for the following day’s run.

February 4, 2038

The team, minus Torrent, heads to Oakland. Helios and Saito are in the van, while Zen and Riptide follow behind on their motorcycles. The drive takes three hours, and at 8:00 PM, they find themselves at the Oakland Spaceport.

Helios drives up to the cargo pickup gate and gives the papers that Janet and Logan gave him to the guard. The guard directs them to a parking area he refers to as the “interceptor lot.” It is located directly off of one of the airstrips. The van is allowed to pass through, but the two cycles are not allowed to follow. They decide to wait outside the gate.

Helios and Saito sit in the van in the interceptor lot for nearly an hour when they see the descending lights of the orbital shuttle. Everything seems to be going smoothly, right up to the moment that the shuttle slams into the tarmac and begins to slide sideways down the runway. When the wreckage finally comes to a halt, Helios and Saito drive up in the van. They get out but wait alongside the vehicle.

The passenger access hatch on the shuttle bursts open as two men in Metal Gear leap onto the tarmac, guns at their shoulders. Saito attempts to talk to them, but they immediately open fire. Luckily the Helios and Saito had the open armored van doors to protect them. They return fire, but most of their shots bounce off of the two solo’s heavy armor.

Hearing what is happening over the radio, Zen and Riptide drive along the perimeter fence to get as close to the action as possible.

The armored doors can only take so much damage as the solos empty their entire magazines at Helios and Saito. Saito’s door fails and falls off the hinges. He is hit several times, the shots ripping into his armor. One round strikes him in the leg, smashing the bone within.

Helios gets back into the van and guns the engine. He attempts to run down the two solos, but they jump out of the way with lightning fast reflexes. Helios is able to slam on the brakes before colliding with the downed shuttle.

The solo on Helios’ side continues to open fire on the van. The other solo moves towards Saito, who was left behind when Helios took off. The solo’s A-80 rifle is empty however, so he pulls a knife and converges on the prone Saito.

Zen and Riptide get as close as they can along the perimeter fence. Zen begins to cut through the fence while Riptide takes a few shots at Saito’s opponent with his ramjet pistols. Its at the far end of the pistol’s range, but one shot finds its mark and momentarily rocks the solo back. Saito is able to use this opportunity to grapple the solo’s legs and pull him to the ground.

Helios uses his grenade launcher and fires a flechette grenade into his target’s chest. The spikes drive into the man’s armor, but he stays standing. Helios presses the advantage and engages the solo in hand to hand. Using his wolvers, he is able to get through the man’s compromised armor and take him down.

Saito continues to struggle against his opponent. The two are on the ground in a grappling match. With Saito’s broken leg, it’s only a matter of time before the man gets the upper hand. Finally, in a desperation move, he takes a detonation cap, arms it, and forces it into his opponent’s armor. The cap detonates with in the confined space of the Metal Gear armor. Despite multiple ruptured organs, the solo stills lives, but collapses unconscious.

Riptide, who has taken over fence-cutting duties, tears a hole big enough in the fence for Zen to get her motorcycle through. As she races to her friends’ aid, the sound of sirens in the distance begins, and emergency crews begin to move toward the scene.

While Zen checks on Saito, Helios rushes into the shuttle and begins to look around. All of the passengers and crew are dead, many by gunfire. He finds the cargo hold, where he discovers a hole blown out on one side.

He also finds an open crate that matches the serial number on the voucher he was given. There is a small hole punctured in one side. Was it a bullet hole, or perhaps a piece of orbital debris that punctured the shuttle during reentry?

Inside the crate is an open case containing slots for three large gas cylinders. The first slot contains a cylinder with a hole punched in it. It appears to be empty. The second slot contains an intact cylinder. The third slot is missing its cylinder.

Helios now also hears the approaching sirens and hoists the one intact cylinder over his shoulder and heads out the shuttle. Zen already has helped Saito into the van, as Helios runs up and places the cylinder in the van’s biohazard vault. They make a quick exit, bursting through the tear in the fence that Riptide had made.

Riptide places a call to Hand who gets him in touch with Janet. She explains that the cylinders contain an experimental combat drug called H454, designed to heighten awareness and reflexes. It is currently in gas form to help control how much is dispensed. In high quantities it causes rages and paranoia.

She also explains that she had three solos on the shuttle, guarding the cargo: Jackson, Spender, and Weston. Her description of them matches the Metal Gear clad solos.

Apparently, one cylinder was compromised and the three were exposed to a massive overdose of the gas. In normal humans, the affect will only last a few hours. Unfortunately, due to bio-implants, nanite surgery, and chemical alterations, the three had far from normal physiologies. Early tests indicated that on such an individual, the effect maybe permanent.

Janet indicates that the team must account for the third cylinder if they are to get paid. But, she also understands that the mission now involves more work than they contracted for. She offers them a $2,000 bonus if they bring back the last cylinder intact, and another $1,000 bonus if they can bring back Weston alive. All of those enhancements make for an expensive loss each time they lose one of these guys.

Zen and Helios drive Saito to the closest Oakland hospital. They give the med techs just enough time to put Saito on a gurney before they peel out of the parking lot.

In the mean time, Riptide drives around the perimeter of the Spaceport on his motorcycle, looking for signs of the third solo. He finds nothing of interest though, and rendezvous with Helios and Zen.

The three take another tour around the facility, hoping that three sets of eyes are better than one. Sure enough, along the west side of the perimeter they find another tear in the fence. The darkness makes tracking difficult though and they see no sign of the solo’s passing.

Gambling that he may have went through the near by woods, they drive along the edge of the tree line. On the far side of the woods, they do spot recent tracks. But those tracks are short lived as they soon come to an asphalt road. Not finding any tracks on the other side, they assume that their target must have followed the road.

February 5, 2038

Zen and Riptide turn their motorcycles south, while Helios takes the doorless van north. A couple of miles up the road, Helios spots an unconscious man lying in the ditch. He reports it to the other two, but keeps going, not wanting to lose any more ground.

Zen and Riptide turn around and head back north, eventually coming upon the person. Zen is able to wake him up. The man, named Ed Morris, was driving his Mitsubishi Sedan down the road when he saw a man waving for help. He pulled to a stop but did not open the window in case it was a trap. Unfortunately, the window was of little use as the solo punched clean through the glass and yanked Ed out of his car. The last thing he remembers is getting hurled into the ditch and left to watch his car go north before he lost consciousness.

Zen and Riptide start to head north, but after a few minutes, Zen gets an idea and turns back around, Riptide follows. They find Ed still along side the road holding his cell phone. Zen asks if his stolen car has a lowjack system, which Ed affirms. He is currently waiting on a return call. As if on cue the phone rings and Ed talks to the voice on the other end. When the conversation ends, he indicates that his car has come to a stop in the small town of Youngston. Zen offers him a ride back to his car, which he accepts.

Helios, who is almost a full hour ahead of the other two pulls into Youngston and begins looking for the stolen car. As he searches, he sees a commotion over at the sheriff’s office. Driving over there he finds the stolen car along with several locals looking like they are getting ready for war. When he inquires about what is going on, he is told that some lunatic drove up, shot a couple of cops, and is now holed up in there with a cylinder he dragged in.

Helios convinces the posse to wait until his companions arrive and not attempt to storm the place alone. They agree, and a little over a half an hour later, Zen and Riptide arrive. Zen in turn convinces the locals to wait outside and let them handle the problem. The locals reluctantly agree again.

Helios heads to the front entrance, Zen to the back entrance, and Riptide to the side entrance. Helios finds his door unlocked. Riptide’s door is locked, but he quickly defeats it with his lock picks. Zen finds her door locked, but is unable to shim the latch with her knife.

Riptide starts to investigate inside the door when Zen convinces him to switch places with her. While they play musical doors, Helios heads in. The lights are on, but nobody’s home. He clears the reception area, and moves down a central hall. He then attempts to move into the holding area but is brought down by a hail of gunfire from the waiting solo.

Hearing the gunfire, Zen rushes in to find Helios’ position. Riptide runs to the back door and goes to work on the lock.

Zen pulls Helios clear and then begins exchanging gunfire the solo that is holed up in a doorway. Both expend their ammo with little effect. Zen works to switch magazines while her opponent drops the rifle he was using and grabs a smaller caliber rifle.

Riptide picks the lock and rushes in, only to be greeted by an anti-personnel mine that is wired to the door. As he picks himself up of the ground and scraps off bits of shredded armor, he mutters to himself that he should have anticipated that the solo would have rigged the one door he couldn’t watch.

The firefight between Zen and the solo begins again. The new rifle that the solo is using is of a smaller caliber, but Zen quickly realizes that it is loaded with armor piercing bullets as the burst from the rifle begins to shred her armor. A heavy user of AP rounds herself; she realizes she does not like them nearly as much when she is on the receiving end.

Riptide comes around the corner on the other side of the solo and opens fire. Unfortunately, the solo has himself so well positioned that he is protected from both of them. Even though both the solo and Zen are exchanging AP rounds, he has better armor and the better position. Riptide decides to run down the hallway, leaving himself exposed, but denying the solo his cover advantage as well. Riptide’s ploy pays off, as he and Zen are able to bring the solo down in the crossfire.

Zen checks on the solo, who is still alive. She uses some handcuffs she finds to secure him. She is also able to identify him as Weston.

Meanwhile, Riptide goes looking for the canister. He checks everywhere, leaving only one room behind a closed door. Apparently not learning his lesson from the last door he went through, he marches in and is hit by shrapnel as the mine strapped to the canister explodes. Both and Zen are exposed, but they are able to get to open air with little more that some nausea and lightheadedness.

They put Weston and Helios into the van. They entrust their motorcycles to the keeping of the grateful locals. At 5:00 AM, they find themselves back in Night City. They arrange an exchange at the Forlorn Hope. They are paid the $8,000, plus the $1,000 bonus for bringing back Weston alive. The two then drop Helios off at the Hospital, and return home for some much needed rest.

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Episode 16 Southside Scandal

After the job with Adam Smasher, the team gets a few weeks to cool it’s heels. They are forced to renegotiate their deal with Death in the Afternoon, due to the fact that they had yet to get their salvage business started despite the many months of occupying their home in the Combat Zone. Zen is able to land a job as an entry-level investigator for InfoComp, allowing her to quit the security gig. Saito acquires the Arasaka sniper rifle that he purchased from Dollar Bill. Jarvic develops a new reflex-enhancing drug called Super Fly, and gets Riptide to help him sell it. Helios is able to find a used tow truck for the business, but it requires some repair work before it can be used.

January 13th, 2038

Jarvic is on duty at REO Meatwagon when a call comes in that a trauma card was activated in the Combat Zone. He and his team mount up in their AV-4 and head down to the south side. There they find a man lying on the sidewalk bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds. He is on the brink of death, but Jarvic is able to resuscitate him and they transport him back to Meatwagon HQ. The card account indicates that the man is Alphie Lazado, but a homemade driver’s license in his wallet lists him as The Manic Hispanic. Jarvic remembers the team referring to such a man and contacts them.

The team, however, shows little interest in looking into the matter, so Jarvic does some of his own investigating. Alphie is homeless, but his card is paid for by his brother Hector Lazado, who lives in Miami.

January 14th, 2038

Jarvic is able to track down Hector on the phone. Hector says his brother has always had some mental issues, but never was on any drugs, illicit or otherwise. Alphie has always refused Hector’s help, but did agree to carry the trauma card that Hector pays for. He then indicates that he will fly to Night City at his first opportunity.

January 15th-18th, 2038

Alphie is stable and therefore transferred to one of Night City’s public clinics. The team continues to go about their usual routines.

January 19th, 2038

Saito goes to the clinic to visit Alphie, who is still in a coma. There he finds Hector and Jarvic. Hector cannot understand why anyone would try to kill Alphie. He is also upset that the Night City Police Department will make no attempt to investigate the shooting of a vagrant, as it’s a fairly common occurrence. The team graciously agrees to investigate the shooting of their friend for only half of their usual fee.

January 20th, 2038

The team rents another van from Renta-Robo. The team travels into the Combat Zone to investigate the shooting. Their first stop is the Mediterranean, inside Wire Cult territory. They speak to a squatter there named Artie who explains that three months back, some speedsters moved in that kept harassing Alphie. He eventually moved out. Artie indicates that Alphie has found a new home inside Hellion territory called The Jungle.

The team then travels to The Jungle, which is located only four blocks from where Alphie was shot. The Jungle is the incomplete foundation of an office building that was started back before the Combat Zone was the Combat Zone. Two small tent cities have sprung up inside. Riptide, Torrent, Saito, and Jarvic head on in to look around. They speak to some locals who indicate that a number of people have been getting sick lately, breaking out in rashes and sores. Many people have become irritable, and the incidents of violence within the camp have increased. Also, a few claim to have seen deformed rats and birds.

Jarvic convinces some of the sick to allow him to take blood samples. He also takes a sample of the water from a small pool the locals use for drinking. The pool is supplied by a city water main that they have tapped into. He then calls Hector and asks him to have the doctors test Alphie’s blood as well.

Up top, Helios and Zen spot a vehicle circle around the foundation. The occupants do not wear uniforms, but their demeanor says security men.

Saito, Riptide, and Jarvic go to a ripperdock named Trapper John who tests both the blood and the water sample. The water comes back clean, but the blood has traces of an unknown toxin. For a fee, Trapper gets the samples to a man named Dexter, who he says will be able to isolate and identify the chemical.

The three then head to the scene where the shooting took place. Talking to a couple of witnesses reveals that Alphie had charged a couple of Hellions in a fit of rage, and so they gunned him down.

Back at The Jungle, Zen notices the reflection from a camera lens from the second story of an abandoned building on the other side of the camp. She stealthily makes her way over to the building and enters. Unfortunately, she fails to spot the active infrared sensor placed on the doorway. Sneaking up the stairway, she finds the room beyond the window she had seen. Looking within, she sees a man monitoring a video recorder aimed at The Jungle.

She then decides to take a look at the room across the hall and finds herself with a gun to her head. The man holding it demands she hand over her weapons. As she does so she attempts to stun the man with her gang-jazzler, but it fails to penetrate the man’s armor. A struggle ensues that is quickly joined by the other man who was working the camera.

They quickly get the upper hand, but then the other members of the team come charging into the building. They over take the two men and disarm them. Questioning the two men reveals that they are contracted with Petrochem to record and monitor the activities in The Jungle. The purpose of their observations is unknown to them. They simply record the video and once a week turn it over to a corp named Robert Page at Petrochem. They too have observed men patrolling the area and the two assume that they are Petrochem guards. After drugging them with some hallucinogenic drugs, the team leaves them be.

January 21st 2038

The team gets the results on the chemical agent found in the blood samples. It is identified as a chemical byproduct created during the production of DBZ, a pesticide manufactured by Petrochem. The chemical was manufactured in Night City up until 2028. The chemical is a mutagenic and psychoactive chemical. Symptoms in humans include rashes and sores as well as feelings of paranoia and fits of anger. Alphie’s blood test also indicates the chemical is in his blood stream.

Torrent does some data mining through the Net and learns that Petrochem had attempted to purchase the property that The Jungle is located on back in 2029, but failed. The City kept it for development instead. In 2031 the city began construction of an office building there, but Petrochem sued on the basis of unfair bidding practices. The project was then abandoned as the Combat Zone absorbed the neighborhood.

The team theorizes that Petrochem had illegally dumped the chemical waste on that site. When that property ended up being zoned for commercial development, Petrochem attempted to by the property to keep the illegal dumping a secret. The chemical was likely well buried, but the digging of the foundation may have exposed it.

January 22, 2038

The team decides to take this theory to Jim Stacey, a Network 54 reporter known for breaking open corporate scandals. Jim is a fan favorite amongst 54 viewers, but has made so many corporate enemies he never sleeps in the same place twice.

Jim meets them at the food court in the Mallplex and listens to their story. He is interested, but points out that their evidence is circumstantial. In order to run such a story, he would need more proof. This could be either a sample of the chemical recovered from the site or copies of Petrochem records indicating that they had dumped on the site. If they can get such proof however, the network will pay them $5,000 for exclusive rights to the story.

They decide to go after the Petrochem records. Torrent begins to prepare to make a run on the Petrochem data fortress, which is likely to be a very dangerous endeavor. Not only is the Petrochem data fortress large, but also likely packs some very serious and highly illegal black ICE.

Then to everyone’s surprise, Helios indicates that he has called in a marker with an old contact that works at Petrochem. He gives Torrent a set of Net coordinates located inside the Petrochem data fortress.

Torrent dives into the Net and approaches the fortress wall nearest the coordinates. His Wraith program allows him to pass through the data wall undetected. He easily finds the file containing waste disposal records. He begins to decrypt the file protection as he finds himself surrounded by anti-intrusion programs that have yet to detect him. He then begins to download the file, while nervously keeping on eye on the programs. But by the time any of the programs begin to detect his presence, he has the file downloaded and makes his exit.

January 23rd, 2038

The team turns the information over to Jim Stacey, who satisfied, pays them the $5,000. The team collects the money, and informs Hector of the circumstances of his brother’s shooting. A short time later, Network 54 breaks the story of the south side scandal involving Petrochem’s illegal dumping of toxic chemicals. Jim Stacey reports the story, from an undisclosed location.

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