Cyberpunk 2036

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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Episode 15 Enter the Smasher

After the incident at Club Nero, Riptide and Saito spent some time recuperating at the hospital. Torrent finished work on a lighter version of the Wraith program he had created. He was getting ready to sell it when he realized that selling it directly may be dangerous as he could not count on his clients to keep quiet should someone come looking for the creator of the program. He began to consider using the services of a fixer.

Once out of the hospital, Saito spoke to Dollar Bill who was able to find him an Arasaka WSSE sniper rifle, which fires a .50 caliber electro-thermo round. It would cost a cool $5,600, and take a week to get, but Saito feels it is worth it.

December 7th, 2037

Riptide is hard at work keeping hands off of strippers at the Golden Saloon when he is approached by Hand. Hand has a corporate job for Riptide and his companions. A corp is being extorted by another corp, and intends to put an end to it. The problem is that the first corp doesn’t know who the second corp is because the second corp is using a law firm as a go between. The job is to find out who the extortionist is and eliminate him or her along with whatever evidence he or she has.

They settle on a price of $2,000 when the person is identified, and another $7,000 when the job is complete. The details are that the corp being extorted is named Cyrus Norton. The law firm is Howard, Fine, and Howard here in Night City. Once the person is identified, they are to contact a solo staying in town named Adam Smasher. They are then to assist Adam in eliminating the person and destroying the evidence.

Riptide punches out early and goes home to share the news with the team. When he gets there he finds out that Jarvic is in Torrent’s apartment, where the two are watching movies of an adult persuasion. He interrupts their little film festival to give the details on the job.

Figuring that there is no time like the present, Torrent downloads a selection of programs to his cyberdeck, and dives in the Net. He finds the Howard, Fine and Howard datafortress easily enough and uses his wraith program to pass through the wall. He is able to bypass a couple of watchdogs undetected as he looks through several files, finding mostly useless information. Unfortunately, the datafortress uses Black ICE and Torrent finds himself under attack by zombies, forcing him to jack out.

He waits for a while and then attempts a run on the datafortress again. Much to his surprise, the fortress walls have adapted to his wraith program and won’t let him pass through. So he instead uses his Raffles decryption program to crack one of the code gates. The program makes light work of the code gate, but a watchdog immediately starts barking when he enters. Torrent immediately goes to the remaining CPU to look at its files. He is attacked by a Datadarts anti-personal program but he is able to de-rezz it using his own anti-program. He begins checking files when he is attacked by another Datadarts program. This one is able to hit him as he takes a jolt of bio-feedback directly to the brain. Despite being stunned, he is able to de-rezz that program as well, and continues to search the files. He eventually finds a file containing the name Cyrus Norton and makes a quick copy of the information. Just as he completes the task, a NetWatch Netrunner appears. Torrent is able to jack out just before the Netrunner can hit him with a glue program.

Torrent has a splitting headache and is exhausted. Before he climbs into bed he shares the information with the group. The file contains Cyrus Norton’s address in Detroit Michigan. It also contains an address for an Alex Sizemore. Alex’s address is listed as apartment 36E located in the Alpha Tower of the New Harbor Mallplex. The Alpha Tower is an executive tower that requires access passes that only grant access to specific floors. The file also contains a small notation: a series of four numbers.

Riptide puts in a call to Adam Smasher. Adam sounds high strung but friendly enough. He agrees to meet them at the Forlorn Hope the next morning. In the mean time, he wants to know where in town he can score some action of the female persuasion. Riptide sends him to the Golden Saloon. This leads to an angry phone call a couple of hours later from the owner of the Saloon demanding to know why Riptide would send some borderline cyber-psychotic to his establishment. Riptide is able to salvage the situation by sending Adam to another establishment that may be more suitable to his needs.

December 8th, 2037

In the morning, Zen, Riptide, Jarvic and Helios go to the Forlorn Hope to meet Adam Smasher. Adam appears to be in his mid-thirties, of average height, but heavily muscled. He wears a bright orange “Hard Rock Café – Detroit” sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off and the neck enlarged.

He is excited to meet the team and is clearly pumped about going after Alex Sizemore. He asks Helios if they have met before, because he looks familiar, but Helios responds that he doesn’t think they have every met. Adam is is a little disappointed when the team looks to him for a plan. He clearly expected them to develop one. He indicates that the best course of action would be to hit Alex where he lives; giving them the best chance to take him out and find his “dirt file” at the same time. The team agrees, and begins to formulate a plan to get into Alpha Tower.

Adam says he has some shopping to do and leaves them to their planning. The Professor then indicates that somebody needs to pay Adam’s tab. Riptide inquires about the amount, and the Professor points to a neighboring table crammed full of empty beer bottles. Riptide calls Adam on the phone and says he wants the $2,000 they were promised for learning Alex’s identity. Adam returns and tosses them an envelope. Before he can leave again, Riptide points out the bar tab. Adam pays it and leaves again.

After considerable debate, the team decides to pose as a remodeling crew that needs to get into Alex’s apartment, 36E. They contact Torrent and ask him to hack the Mallplex’s server and see if he can get into their work-order system and drop in an approved work –order with security clearance for their group.

Torrent dives into the Net and hacks their system. It is not nearly was well defended as the law firm’s, and he finds what he needs quickly. Torrent forges some ID information and drops in some documents clearing the team for access to 36E. Torrent has little skill in forgery, but everything appears to be in order.

Helios then uses his ID printer to create IDs matching the information that Torrent placed in the Mallplex’s system. The team then goes shopping for equipment. Everyone purchases overalls. Some, expecting trouble, spring for armored overalls.

Once everything is set up, they load up the van that they had acquired during the Club Nero incident and drive to the Forlorn Hope. There, Adam was waiting for them with his own gear. Riptide had called earlier and let Adam know what he would need.

Everyone threw on their overalls, and loaded up boxes with weapons and gear, placing tools and other construction related items on top. They then drove to the New Harbor Mallplex. They pulled up to the service lot where they were stopped at a checkpoint. Helios, in the driver seat, hands the guard his fake ID. The guard glancs at it quickly and then waves them on through.

They pull up to the loading dock and begin to unload their equipment. A mall employee tells them that they will need to stop at the security office where their work-order will be verified, their boxes inspected, and their IDs checked. As they walk down the hallway towards the security office, Adam mumbles that he is concerned about the guards inspecting the boxes.

Riptide and Zen go into the office with everyone’s IDs. One guard watches them closely while the other looks at the IDs and the paper work. The second guard looks at the IDs and papers several times and then announces he needs to make a phone call. Riptide asks why, but the guard states that it is simply a formality. He then goes into a back room to make his call.

Out in the hall, Helios, who has been listening in, relays to the others what has happened. Adam apparently decides that their cover is blown, as he walks into the office, pulls out a silenced pistol, and shoots the guard in the head. He begins to search the body for a master access card. Riptide runs into the back room where the other guard is on the phone talking about apartment 36E.

At first Riptide tries to act innocent, and wants to know what the delay is. The guard doesn’t buy it though and goes for his gun. Riptide pulls his two pistols and opens fire. The guard goes down in a hail of bullets, but everyone in the receiving area hears the shots. As Riptide prepares to leave he hears a voice shouting on the other end of the phone to stand down, and that a strike team is on the way.

Javic goes back to the door to the loading dock to see how the other employees are reacting. The employees had heard the shots and were scattering. A side door opens and another guard steps out. Helios jumps on him and the two begin to wrestle. Saito heads to the other end of the hall, which opens into a larger hallway. On one end is a service elevator.

Adam Smasher steps out of the security room with the guard’s pass in his hand and gathers his gear. Riptide and Zen also emerge, and the group begins a discussion about whether or not to abort the mission, even as Helios continues to struggle with the guard. The matter is settled however when Adam heads toward the service elevator and asks, “So are we going to do this, or do you guys gotta go put your tampons in?”

Most of the group moves to follow Adam. The guard Helios is struggling with suddenly passes out. Helios pushes him away to see Jarvic standing there with a syringe gun. The two then catch up as everyone jumps into the elevator. Adam pushes the security card in and hits the button marked “36.” The elevator begins to ascend.

While the Muzak chimes in the background, the team preps their weapons. Jarvic quickly gets out of his jump suit, and begins putting on his Medic combat armor. He barley gets it on as the elevator stops and the doors open.

In the middle of the hall is a security guard who apparently did not get word about what was happening. He is about to take a drag off of his cigarette when he turns to see the elevator full of armed individuals. Time seems to stop for a moment and each side stares at the other. Then the door to Apartment 36E flies open and Alex Sizemore comes running out yelling, “Shoot them!” as he makes a break for the emergency stairwell.

The guard pulls his gun and begins shooting wildly as he runs after Alex. Riptide, and Adam open fire on the guard who manages to avoid being hit. Saito brings his M-16 to his shoulder and draws a bead on Alex. Just as Alex is about to disappear into the stairwell, he is brought down by Saito’s bullet. The guard does make it to the stairwell and begins sprinting down the steps as fast as his legs will carry him.

Torrent pulls open the elevator control panel and plugs his cyberdeck into its interface. He plugs the cyberdeck into his neural co-processor and a few moments later, seizes control of the building’s elevator system. He begins sending elevators to random floors and locking them their.

Jarvic and Zen rush into Alex’s apartment and begin to look around. It is a spacious luxury apartment with several guest rooms, a large living room area and a fully stocked bar. Jarvic bypasses all of this and continues searching, skipping rooms until he finds the one he is looking for: the office.

Torrent joins the search while Adam watches the stairwell. Saito remains by the door to the apartment, as Helios and Riptide make sure that Alex is dead. Jarvic rifles through the office and finds an analog combination safe. He radios Torrent for the number sequence that was in the file. Sure enough, the combination opens the safe. In side he finds personal papers and well as $2,000 in cash, which he pockets. He finds two envelopes inside: one large one labeled “C.N.” and a smaller envelope labeled “A.S.” He grabs both.

Adam yells that an Arasaka strike team is making its way up the stairwell. Everyone double times it getting back to the elevator. Adam pauses briefly to arm a grenade and toss it down the stairwell. He then heads for the elevator as well. As the last of them jump into the elevator, three Arasaka soldiers rush into the hallway and open fire on the team. Bullets pour into the elevator, most striking body armor, but a couple bullets get through. No one is seriously wounded however. After what seems like an eternity, the doors shut and the elevator begins to descend.

While the elevator drops, and the Muzak plays, Adam asks for the info on Cyrus Norton. Jarvic hands him the envelope labeled “C.N.” Adam quickly looks through it and seems satisfied. He informs the team that he left the remaining $7,000 of his payment with the Professor. They could pick it up at the Forlorn Hope. He also points out that there is more than three members to a Arasaka strike team and that in all likelihood, the others were waiting for them at the bottom.

The team formulates a quick plan. At the last second they hit the second floor button. The doors open and they poor into the hallway. They run to the stairwell, but hear the first floor door burst open.

Adam turns and smashes his way through an apartment door. The others hear a woman scream and a man demand to know what it happening, followed immediately by a gunshot. The rest of the team enters the apartment to see a terrified woman and a sobbing child, and a man bleeding on the ground. Adam is already on his way to the far bedroom.

Most of the team follows on but Jarvic stops for a moment to check the man. He is still alive, but barely. He finds the man’s trauma card and breaks it, activating the transmitter that would summon a trauma team. Using his drug injection gun, he pumps a shot of ‘dorphs into the man’s neck in the hopes it will keep him alive long enough for the trauma team to get there.

The strike team can be heard in the hallway, but soon the sound of breaking glass fills the room as Adam runs right through the window and drops fifteen feet to the ground below. He barely breaks his stride as he takes off into the night.

The others all follow suit, but don’t land as gracefully. There are no broken bones, but a few twisted ankles and strained muscles.

At first they consider going for the van, but then the sound of an AV-4 coming off of the roof of the tower changes their minds. They instead scatter in every direction, hoping to get to and blend in with the crowds that flood the Night City streets after dark.

Most are able to do exactly that. But Jarvic suddenly finds himself in midst of a spot light as the AV hovers over him. Soon there is the barking of machine gun fire as multiple rounds chew up his combat armor. People began to scatter in a panic. Several innocent bystanders are struck. Another burst hits Jarvic who desperately looks for a place to hide, but his armor holds.

The machinegun goes quiet for a moment as its operator switches to armor piercing rounds. Luckily for Jarvic, those few seconds buy him enough time to find some cover to hide under it. The AV-4 circles the area for several minutes, but eventually gives up and flies away.

Riptide stops at the Forlorn Hope and talks to the Professor. As promised, an envelope containing $7,000 was waiting for him. Adam Smasher may be crazy, but he seems to be honest.

Everyone except Adam Smasher rendezvous back at their home. Money is counted and wounds are bandaged. They lost the van, but between the payment and the money Jarvic took from the safe, they made $11,000 in the run.

Jarvic opens the “A.S.” envelope and finds it stands not for Alex Sizemore, but for Adam Smasher. It seems Alex was assembling a dossier on him as well. It seems Adam spent his youth in a gang as well as in and out of jail. As soon as he was old enough, he joined the army, where he was part of an air assault unit. He went solo after that, working for several employers, but did repeated jobs for Cyrus Norton. Most were against Militech assets, and most ended in lots of collateral damage. The documents contained a list of some of his bloodier work.

When one particular incident is read aloud, Helios flies into a rage. The incident was a hit on a Militech employee named Edward Arp in March 27th, 2036. That was a day forever burned into Helios’ memory. It was the day he stood at an altar, facing his bride to be. Before the ceremony could be completed, an armed and masked strike team stormed the wedding and opened fire indiscriminately into the small crowd of attendees. Helios survived, but his bride didn’t. It wasn’t until later that he learned the target of the hit was an attendee named Edward Arp.

Helios spent the five months between that day and when he was captured and sent to Colombia searching for the killer. Now it turns out he just helped that same killer eliminate someone else. Adam’s comment about Helios looking familiar suddenly made sense. He demanded to know why Riptide did not say anything. It was Riptide that Helios was going to meet when they were both captured. It was Riptide who supposedly had a name for him of someone involved in the hit. But Riptide explained that the information he did have made no mention of Adam Smasher or Cyrus Norton.

Once the rage subsided, Helios remained in shock. He had him right there the whole time, and let Adam get away. He consoled himself with one thought thoughy. Now he knew who he was looking for, and he would have his revenge.

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Episode 14 Monkey in the Middle

November 6th, 2037

Zen and Helios are hanging out at the rebuilt Forlorn Hope on Friday night. There isn’t much action, though most patrons are happy just to have their favorite watering hole back up and running. Early in the evening, they are approached by a tall man, with dark grey hair, wearing a rumpled business suit and carrying a brief case. He asks them, in a Russian accent, if there is a back door out of the place, and they point him in the direction of the back alley door. He then immediately heads for that door.

Zen and Helios take a few moments to decide if they are going to let their curiosity get the best of them. Ultimately it does, and they head out the alley door as well. In the alley, they find the man to be the very recent recipient of two bullets to the chest. A man in a suit searches through the dead man’s pockets while another individual stands watch. They both are armed with silenced pistols. At the end of the alley, a black sedan waits.

Zen and Helios demand to know what is going on. The standing man reveals an ID and states that they are members of the SovOil Internal Security Unit, and that this is an internal corporate matter, therefore no business of the edge runners. The two men question them, demanding to know what he did inside the bar. Zen and Helios tell them the truth, detailing their brief run in with the now dead man. The other two seem satisfied with the answer, but not satisfied with their search. Eventually, they take the brief case, get into their sedan, and drive off.

The two edge runners return to the bar and explain to the Professor what has happened. He indicates that he will call a meat wagon to clean up the mess. It then suddenly occurs to Zen that whatever the men were looking for may still be in the alley. She and Helios begin to search the small but cluttered alley. Eventually, Helios’ dumpster diving proves fruitful as he finds a data disk with the SovOil logo on it.

They return home and ask Torrent to take a look at the disk. It is password protected, but Torrent cracks it with minimal effort. The next obstacle proves more challenging however. It seems that the entire contents of the disk are in Russian, which none of them speak. A quick stop at the local chipware shop remedies that problem, however, as Helios and Torrent each purchase a Russian language skill chip. Helios also splurges on a photographic memory skill chip.

Back home, Torrent begins to peruse the contents of the data disk. Download records indicate that the information on the disk was taken from a SovOil mainframe here in Night City. The information was downloaded using a terminal belonging to a S.I. Servinoya. The content of the actual data includes product testing reports, security assignments and troop movements, as well as the geological survey results for a plot of land in Alaska. Torrent knows enough about geology to know that the last bit of information could be quite valuable to a competitor of SovOil.

November 7th, 2037

Riptide is at the Forlorn Hope when he sees a man speak to the Professor, who then points Riptide out. The man approaches Riptide and asks if he knows a couple of Asian individuals, one an attractive female, the other a muscular male. Knowing that the man is referring to Zen and Helios, he inquiries as to who this person is. The man introduces himself as Gil Braham, an employee of Petrochem. The two beat around the issue a bit before it becomes clear that the main topic of discussion is the SovOil data disk. Riptide confirms that his compatriots do indeed have the disk and would be willing to sell it. A price of $20,000 is agreed upon and the Nero Club downtown is settled on as the location for the exchange.

Riptide returns home and shares the news. It would be easy money, but a couple of issues are considered. One is would SovOil be willing to pay to have the data returned, and how did Gil know they have the disk? If Petrochem knows they have it, does Kerosov also?

Riptide contacts the local SovOil office and asks to speak to someone in their internal security branch. He is put in touch with a Dmitri Yablonov. Riptide offers to sell the data back to them for $40,000, but the security man says he is not interested at that price and hangs up.

With Petrochem now being their only option, they plan for the meeting scheduled for 8:00 PM. They decide to arrive early, with Zen, Helios, and Riptide sitting at a table waiting for Gil. Saito will wait at another table near by. Torrent will remain outside and act as a scout.

They travel to the Nero Club, each on their own motorcycle. They arrive about 7:30 PM and put their plan into action. They choose a table near the back corner of the club. Due to the upscale nature of the club and the prohibition against any weapons bigger than pistols, the team is forced to go in lightly armed and armored.

Gil arrives promptly at 8:00 PM with two others in tow. One flashes a security badge at the doorman, allowing the three to enter without being checked for weapons. They look around a bit until they spot the three at the table. They approach and Gil sits down along with one of his companions. The other one, the one who flashed the ID, remains standing.

First they make a little small talk, discussing how Gil found them. Turns out Gil was on his was to meet Severnoya at the Forlorn Hope when he say SovOil agents approaching. He remained a block away and watched events unfold. He observed Zen and Helios search the alley afterwards and discover something which he guessed to be the data disk.

Gil asks to see the disk, which Riptide turns over to him. Gil then gives it to his sitting companion who takes the disk and plugs it into a small disk reader. He then jacks into the reader via interface plug, and goes silent. After several seconds, he nods to Gil who is turns over the money to Riptide.

About this time, Torrent spots a black van pull up about a block away, turning its lights out, but leaving the engine running. He radios in to the rest of the team. Gil sends his man to check it out. The solo steps outside briefly and then returns reporting that the van belongs to SovOil.

Gil decides its time to leave, but the team is concerned that SovOil is simply waiting for them to step outside. They then begin formulating a diversion plan in which some would exit out the back while others would exit out the front. They are about to execute their plan when suddenly there is a loud “pop!” Many people in the bar cry out in pain, some, including Saito and Gil’s Netrunner, begin to have seizures. Everyone else suffers from sever headaches and muscle tremors. Cyber-eyes cease to function and those with skill chips cannot access them. Everyone except Gil and his Solo seem affected. At the same time, outside, the black van takes off towards the bar, squealing around the corner and coming to a stop by the back alley. Torrent watches as three men exit the side of the van into the alley, and another three exit the back of the van and head toward the main entrance. The men are in full tactical gear and are armed with assault rifles.

The team, Gil, and his men, all move toward the front of the bar. There is no door there, but some rather large windows. Gils’s netrunner and Saito are carried along as their seizures continue. Riptide draws his gyrojet pistol and attempts to shoot out one of the windows. Unfortunately, someone picks that exact moment to stand up and tell everyone to remain calm. The gyrojet round is intercepted by the man’s head, sending brain and skull fragments flying everywhere.

The nervous crowd now goes into complete panic mode and begin fleeing toward the exits. This works to the team’s advantage, as the solos attempting to come in through the front entrance are pushed back by a sea of humanity.

Riptide’s second shot finds it’s intended target and one of the front windows explodes. The team and the others began climbing out onto the front walk. Torrent relays that the three solos at the main door are now moving to the front of the building. Was it a lucky guess, or did they somehow know that’s where the team was?

Realizing that the van will allow the solos to pursue if the team manages to escape, Torrent jacks into the Net and hacks the local Lo-Jack database. He finds the registration number for the SovOil van and sends a signal to disable the engine. He then deletes the van’s account so that Lo-Jack cannot re-enable the engine. He returnes from the Net to find Riptide and the now recovered Saito exchanging fire around the corner with the three solos.

Zen, Helios and Riptide are able to get Gil and his men to their car and send them on their way. They then go to regroup with the others who are still trading fire with the solos. They then spot the three other solos that had emerged from the side of the van into the ally now moving through the diminishing crowd inside the bar, heading straight for them.

Helios, Torrent, and Zen decide to circle around the other side of the building. Riptide and Saito, who have taken down two of the solos outside, decide to press the advantage and charge towards the van. They take down the third solo and move towards the van but find resistance from the two men in the van.

Helios, Torrent and Zen come around the corner into the alley and are able to draw off the fire from the two men by the van. Just when things ware looking up for Riptide and Saito, the three solos that had moved through the bar had climbed out the window, came around the corner and were now shooting at the two edge runners. Both are badly wounded, but are able to make it to the van.

Helios gets to the van and immediately starts bypassing the Lo-Jack system to get the engine running again. Most pile into the van, while Torrent takes his motorcycle and they make their getaway as the sirens of approaching police can be heard.

In the win column, the team made $20,000 and acquired a van. In the loss column, they lost four motorcycles and Riptide and Saito would need to spend some time in the hospital. Everyone’s neural processors are damaged, and any skill chips they had on them at the time are blank. The pop must have been an EMP. That meant the data chip was likely wiped as well. Gil was unaffected, probably because he mostly likely did not have a neural processor. His solo was smart gun linked however, so he must have had one. He was not affected when the EMP went off, however. That means he must be EMP shielded, which is a very expensive upgrade. It’s the kind of upgrade you only get if you’re expecting that sort of thing to happen.

As an interesting side note, a news report the following day indicated that Gil Braham was found dead in his car along with his netrunner. Both were shot at point blank range. The solo was not found.

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Episode 13 Juke Box Saturday Night

October proved to be a very quiet month. While the break may be appreciated, it’s not long before the team’s wallets start to get thin again. Luckily, October does not leave without a job opportunity.

October 30th, 2037

A woman calling herself “Ice” approaches Riptide. She has a one-night security job that she would like to hire the team for. She learned about the team from Hand. She wants to meet the team before she discusses the details of the job. Riptide agrees to arrange a meeting on Saturday meeting morning between Ice and the team. They agree to meet at the Golden Saloon.

October 31st, 2037

Saturday morning, the team meets at the Golden Saloon. It’s closed, but Riptide has a key. Ice arrives and lays down the details. The team is to provide security for the metal band Vengeance World when they perform this evening at the Metalstrom. The venue’s security and the band’s security are good at handling unruly crowds but Ice is concerned about professionals.

It seems that the band’s front man, Rory Murchison, has a habit of speaking out against the IEC corporation, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by IEC. Ice does not explain Rory’s reasons for the animosity, nor does anyone on the team press the issue. The important thing is that since IEC has a major office here in Night City. She is afraid IEC may make a move against Rory while he is here.

The team is to meet Rory at his hotel and go with him to the venue. They are then to watch over him until the end of the show. The team agrees to take the job for a fee of $4,500. She gives them a map of the venue so they can start planning immediately.

The team reports to the Night City Hilton at 8:00 PM. They meet the members of Vengeance World, including Rory, Styx the drummer, Slow Leg the bassist, and Kenny G the guitarist. They also meet Cavanaugh the band’s manager. The team notices the strong resemblance between Rory and Ice. They are obviously brother and sister, possibly fraternal twins.

At 9:00 PM, they pile into three SUVs and head to the Metalstrom. They arrive at 9:30, a half an hour prior to the doors opening. They post the band’s security at the front and back entrances. An additional three are in front of the stage while one is posted on each side of the stage.

Saito perches himself up on the light rigging. Zen and Helios station themselves on each side of the stage. Riptide begins the evening at the front entrance. As the doors open and the crowds begin to poor in, Riptide closely watches the crowd and takes pictures of anyone he thinks is suspicious.

At 10:00 PM, Vengeance World goes on stage and begins their set. The team continues their vigilant watch. Riptide moves from the entrance to the front of the stage.

During the fourth song, Saito becomes aware of a light rigging access hatch opening up. Someone prepares to throw a grenade-sized object out the hatch and onto the stage. Saito scrambles toward the hatch. When the person moves in front of the hatch Saito takes a shot with his M-16. The person is rocked back but not before releasing the grenade.

Riptide leaps onto the stage as the grenade drops. With perfect timing, he bats the grenade up into the upper balcony. It explodes, shredding the chairs in the empty upper level. Most of the crowd thinks it part of the pyrotechnics.

At each side of the stage, Helios and Zen are startled as the security guards they are paired with are hit by gunfire. The guard with Helios goes down, but the one with Zen is saved by his armor. Both turn to see a pair of armored and armed men descending steps from the upper level.

On Zen’s side, she and the guard begin to open fire. On Helios’ side, he charges one of the men and the two begin a hand-to-hand fight. The second attacker on his side bypasses him and runs to the stage entrance. Up on top, Saito and the grenade dropper exchange fire. Saito is missed, but his own shots find their mark as the attacker goes down.

Suddenly Rory yells out in pain and collapses to the ground. Everything goes quiet as everyone is in stunned silence. Riptide rushes to Rory’s aid as he sees the man who bypassed Helios standing at the stage’s side entrance. Saito fires from up in the light rigging, driving back Rory’s would be assassin. At this point, the crown realizes what is happening and panics. Chaos reigns as the crowd heads for the doors. Riptide finds Rory’s Trauma Team card and breaks it. The tiny transmitter inside sends out a signal that will hopefully summon a Trauma Team medical team.

Helios and the attacker on the stairs have reached a stalemate as neither can gain an advantage over the other. Things turn against Helios when the attacker who shot Rory comes up behind him. It’s now two against one.

On the other side of the stage, Zen and the security guard continue their firefight with the two attackers that came down their side. One of the attackers goes down and the other is forced to retreat back up the stairs. Zen runs after him in pursuit.

Saito abandons his post on the rigging and runs down the upper hall. He descends the east stairs behind one of the men that Helios is fighting. He grapples the man and locks him into a headlock.

As Zen reaches the top of the west stairs, she comes under fire from the attacker at the top of the stairs. She drops to the floor and return fire. Her opponent is using cover around the corner while she is pinned on the stairs. Realizing that he has the better position, Zen changes tactics. She drops her gun and charges him hoping to take him down with her gang jazzler. Unfortunately she realizes that the electrical charge in the implant will not penetrate her opponent’s armor. She draws her pistol and attempts to get a shot in a point blank range.

Down on the stairs, Saito attempts to choke out his opponent. Unfortunately, despite having the chokehold locked on for nearly a full minute, his opponent won’t go down. Saito changes tactics and attempts to break the man’s neck. He has to put all of his weight into it and it takes several attempts, but eventually the man’s neck snaps with a loud crack.

Outside, sirens can be heard as the police and the Trauma Team arrives and burst into the front door. On the upper level, Zen’s opponent turns tail and runs down the hall. Zen pursues as he runs up a small flight of stairs that leads to a roof access. The team had missed that access point during their set up leaving their perimeter vulnerable. Zen attempts a flying tackle, but she is out run as her opponent throws himself off of the building. He drops 50 feet to the ground below, but seems to be unfazed and immediately takes off running.

On the stairs, the fight is again two-to-one, but this time in the team’s favor. Saito and Helios work together trying to grapple the remaining assassin. Each grabs hold of an arm. Suddenly, a jolt of electricity zaps both of them. They realize that their opponent has two cyber-limbs. Both also survive the shock and continue the fight. Helios torques on the man’s wrist, his grafted muscle straining against them man’s reinforced metal wrist. Helios wins as the cyber-wrist shatters. Realizing that he is outmatched, the assassin surrenders.

The Trauma Team carries off Rory. The team soon receives a report that he will need some surgery, but he is likely to survive. Much to their surprise, they are still paid their full fee for the job despite failing to prevent harm to Rory. While they get the cash, its clear that their reputation will take a hit for what was clearly a less than successful job.

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