Cyberpunk 2036

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Episode 12 Tough as Nails

After completing the mission in Romania, the team settles back into their routine lives. They spent most of their earnings to-date on a sophisticated security system for their home on the edge of the Combat Zone. With most of their savings spent, it was time to find more work.

September 28th, 2037

The team had learned that with John Freeman and his wife out of town, the Forlorn Hope is closed for two weeks. Ice Pick is left to babysit the building. Zendecides to hangout out at her backup place, The Afterlife. She happens across Krissy and Roxie, who are there for the same reason. While the girls make snide comments about the guys in the place, Zen happens to notice a familiar face from her past.

Across the club she spots Elizabeth Waterstone, another police officer from the arcology she worked at prior to being shanghied to Colombia. Zen keeps her distance; concerned about anyone from her past knowing she is still alive. She tries to get closer, observing that Elizabeth seems to be trying to hire some solos, but is having little luck. Then, unexpectedly, Elizabeth turns around, and the two are suddenly face-to-face.

Elizabeth is quite shocked to see Zen still alive. After an excited greeting, Zen takes her to a local diner where they catch up on each other’s lives. Zen explains what happened to her, and that she now operates as an edge runner here in Night City. Elizabeth explains that after the reactor meltdown at the arcology, she bounced from department to department until this past March when she joined the Federal Marshals. She operates under the handle “Nails” along with her partner “Gunsights.” They cover most of Southern California.

Then Zen asks why she is looking to hire solos. Nails explains that yesterday, Gunsights was arrested by the Night City Police. It seems that someone fingered him for drugs and the police got a search warrant for an apartment that Gunsights keeps in Night City. They found a kilo of Blue Ice cut with ‘Dorphs. It’s a fairly common drug, but the fact that he is a Federal Marshal makes it a big deal. He is currently in jail pending arraignment tomorrow. If he is convicted, he will be sent to jail where he will dead inside a week. They don’t isolate former cops in lockup anymore. It’s too expensive.

Elizabeth knows that Gunsights isn’t dirty. She is sure the Ice was planted, and she suspects who and why. Recently the two Marshals were transferring a member of the Capriani crime family. The Capriani’s have been big-time smugglers of Blue Ice into Night City for years, but only the small-time dealers ever seem to get convicted. The guy they were transferring knew why. He told the two Marshals that the Caprianis have several Third Precinct cops and at least three judges in their back pocket.

Gunsights put in a request to have the guy incarcerated in isolation for his own protection. It was denied, and their informant was killed in prison by another prisoner who happened to be a former Capriani enforcer. Then, yesterday, Gunsights is arrested for drug possession.

Earlier this evening, Nails got a call from one of her informants, a burned out fixer named Crazy Bob. Crazy Bob has a gift for picking out conversations in crowds, but isn’t smart enough to know how to sell the information for the right price, so he’s almost always broke. Anyways, Bob knows a guy who claims that he helped plant the drugs in Gunsights’ apartment. The guy is willing to testify as a witness if Nails can get him to the Federal Marshals Office in the Night City Justice Center.

She’s concerned that both the corrupt cops and the Capriani Family will be gunning for this guy, so she was hoping to hire some muscle to help transport him. Unfortunately, on her cop salary, she only has $2,000 to spend and no one seems willing to work that cheap.

Zen offers to help. She gets a hold of Riptide, Saito, and Helios and asks them to meet at their home. She agrees on the $2,000, but returns her share. In exchange, she asks Elizabeth to use her resources with the Federal Marshals to help find out who in Arasaka wants them dead. The team meets at their shop and gets geared up. Zen takes her motorcycle while the others take the truck. Helios states that if the truck gets shot up again, he is not fixing it anymore. He will get a motorcycle, and the rest of them can provide their own transportation.

They meet Nails at the diner, and they head over to the Rainbow Nights Club. Helios waits outside with the truck as the others go in. They find Crazy Bob who after a payment from Nails, indicates that he knows a guy named Hubert Treadwell, who helped plant the drugs. Hubert is holed up in an abandoned church and is waiting for the Federal Marshals to come get him.

Around 11:30 PM, they find themselves south of the freeway, on the edge of Blood Razors territory. Zen and Elizabeth pull their vehicles along side the church, while Helios parks in front. Everyone but Helios enters the church, which seems to be empty. Zen spots tracks in the dust that go up a spiral staircase in the front of the church. She and Elizabeth head up the stairs while Saito and Riptide remain downstairs.

Zen is up the stairs first and dives out of the way of a shotgun blast. Nails calls out to him identifying herself as a Federal Marshal. He demands to see some ID, which she tosses him. Then he begins to question the authenticity of the ID. Zen decides to try and sneak up on him in the darkness. Hubert must have some form of night vision however, as he immediately fires another round. This one strikes Zen dead on, but her body armor absorbs most of it. Zen rushes him and tackles him. He struggles, but is unable to get free before Nails puts the laser sight on her pistol right between his eyes and tells him to start cooperating.

Hubert explains that he and two buddies were hired to plant the drugs. He didn’t realize the guy who hired them was himself a cop until Hubert saw the guy on the news. Then last night, his two buddies were gunned down in a shoot out with some Third Precinct cops. Hubert is smart enough to know the score. The cop who hired him is tying up loose ends, and Hubert is likely next. If they get him to the Federal Marshal’s office, he’ll tell them everything.

Just then, a sedan pulls up in front of the church. Helios drives away, deciding to circle around the block. He radios the rest of the team and warns them. Upstairs, Zen leads the others too a boarded up window where she begins prying away boards to make an escape. Downstairs, Saito and Riptide take cover behind the alter.

The front doors open and in walk four men in suits, each carrying a pistol. One has his aimed at Crazy Bob who seems to have been brought against his will. Riptide and Saito open fire from behind the alter. The four men dive for cover behind pews. Crazy Bob, who suddenly finds himself being ignored, immediately runs back out the door.

The two sides exchange fire. Riptide laments the fact that they don’t make alters out of stone anymore as several of the enemy’s rounds rip up the wooden alter. Eventually, three men go down. The fourth retreats out the door and back into the waiting sedan and drives off. Helios sees the sedan drive off as he is coming back around the corner. He considers following them, but decides instead to pull up next to the church.

About this time, Zen is able to pull enough boards away and climb out a window onto the roof of the first floor. She, Nails, and Hubert then climb down to the ground. Everyone meets out front and decide its time to head to the Marshals’ Office. Hubert is placed in the truck and they convoy back towards downtown.

They don’t get very far when a spot light from a police AV overhead shines down on them. They hear several squad cares in the distance closing in as well. Nails radios that she doesn’t think they will make it all the way to the Justice Center. She can have the Marshals send a unit to meet them some where along the way. The team considers what is in route to the Justice Center and realize there is one place almost right on the way: the Forlorn Hope.

Saito points out that they are going to need all of the help they can get, and asks Zen to call Roxy and Krissy. She agrees, and the two solos are more than happy to help. At first Zen asks them to box the cops in, which Roxy points out its nearly impossible. After some arguing, the girls decide to just meet the team at the Forlorn Hope. They offer to call Ice Pick to let him know what’s coming.

Despite some skilled maneuvering, a couple of cop cars are able to get along side Helios’ truck and Zen’s motorcycle. They open fire on the team. The truck absorbs most of the damage, but Zen has to rely on her body armor, which gets chewed up. Saito pulls out the big Towa rifle, plugs in the smartgun link and goes to work. Three shots from the big gun take out two of the squad cars. Meanwhile, Riptide leans out the passenger side window with his shotgun. Firing solid slugs, he takes out the spot light on the AV overhead.

They are only a few blocks from the Forlorn Hope when the police pursuit gets called off. Things seem to be looking up when suddenly they are under fire from both sides of the street by members of the Capriani crime family. The hail of bullets shreds tires and destroys engines. Zen manages to keep her motorcycle under control as it dies beneath her. Nails, in her own vehicle in the back, has avoided the worst of the fire, but her vehicle is disabled as well.

Only a half-block from the Forlorn Hope, everyone scrambles down the street to the side door where Ice Pick is waiting for them. They immediately take up positions behind tables. Ice Pick remains up front to watch out the windows.

In the back alley, several loud thuds are heard, followed by the slamming of brakes. Roxy and Krissy enter through the alley door and indicate that several men had been approaching from the alley and no one was watching the back door. Roxy has her favorite grenade launcher while Krissy is sporting a new, not yet on the market, Militech Mark V assault rifle, which she is dying to try out.

The fight starts with suppression fire from outside blowing out the windows. The team decides to return fire from their positions in the middle of the bar. Ice Pick, stationed at the window finds himself pinned down by fire from both directions.

A group of mafia thugs assault the side entrance. The firefight is brief as Roxy scatters them with her grenade launcher. The second wave assaults the front door. This group makes better use of cover and is out of Roxy’s line of fire. They take longer to repel, and they manage to score some hits on the team. Body armor keeps everyone standing though. After the second wave fails, the mob guys scatter.

They are shortly replaced however, by squad cars from the Third Precinct. A voice on a mega-phone orders them to surrender, but the team holds their ground. From the front they hear the sound of metal shod feet. To their horror, they see a full-conversion police cyborg walking up to the front entrance. Zen goes full auto on the ‘borg. The armor piercing rounds rip up his armor, but he isn’t slowed down. He responds by firing an arm mounted machine gun that sends most of the team diving for cover. Saito is in the back, and therefore outside the suppression zone. He lines up a headshot with the Towa rifle and scores a direct hit. A massive dent appears in the side of the cyborg’s head, but there seems be minimal penetration. None-the-less, the ‘borg stumbles for a moment, then goes down.

While the cyborg has everyone’s attention on the front door, a five-man SWAT team storms the side entrance. Armed with assault rifles loaded with AP rounds, they open fire on the group. One targets Roxy and wounds her badly. A second aims at Saito, but the bar absorbs the worst of it. The other three target Helios, Riptide, and Zen, each scoring hits, badly chewing up armor and flesh. Krissy avenges her partner with a burst from the Mark V, its 6.5mm electro-thermo rounds punching through the heavy armor, dropping one of the men.

Up front, the ‘borg begins to get back up again. Zen again full-autos at it, causing it to again stumble and go down. Riptide and Helios redirect their fire at the SWAT team, but their bullets do not penetrate the heavy SWAT armor. Saito fires the big gun at one of the SWAT members, wounding him in the leg.

The three remaining SWAT members are now inside the bar, closing in on their targets. To make matters worse, the cyborg, though badly damaged, is again getting back up. The team changes out magazines and reposition themselves behind what remains of the furniture, preparing to make their final stand.

Suddenly a voice booms from the sky above, ordering the police to stand down. The Marshals have finally arrived. The SWAT team and the cyborg retreat. The Marshal’s AV-4 lands in front of the building as armed men disembark. Hubert is retrieved from behind the bar and taken to the Justice Center.

Nails says thanks and good-bye, promising to look into who had sent the team members to Columbia. Krissy calls a trauma team to pick up Roxy. She’ll be fine, but she’s going to need some patching up. In less than twenty minutes, the place was quiet, as the team, and Ice Pick stand in the remnants of the Forlorn Hope. They can only imagine what the Professor’s reaction will be when he gets back.

Episode 11 The Impaler

After complete the events involving Biotechnica, the team has a couple months of downtime. The individual team members spend their time both developing the salvage business and their own individual pursuits.

Saito is finally able to find a job as a weapons safety instructor at the Night City Gun Range. It doesn’t pay much as he’s not teaching real gun fighters, but mostly corporate types who want to think their a bunch of edge runners because they know how to shoot a gun. His other clients are mostly lonely corporate trophy wives, which somehow makes the low pay and long commute worth it.

August 13th, 2037

While doing some paper work at the Golden Saloon, Riptide is approached by a man who introduces himself as Wolfgang Reimann. It seems his brother Franz is missing, and he wants to hire the team to help find him. Franz is an Interpol agent, who is supposed to be vacationing in Romania. Wolfgang has lost contact with Franz and is concerned about him. Unfortunately, Wolfgang has a problematic history with Romania, which makes going there by himself dangerous. Riptide agrees to have the team at the airport by 6:00 AM the next day.

He passes on the information to his teammates, including Jarvic who is struggling to pay his bills and is looking for more work. They all scramble to make work arrangements and prepare to be out of town for at least a week.

August 14th, 2037

They meet Wolfgang at the Airport bright and early the next morning. He takes them to a private room where he has their photos taken to complete some fake passports that indicated that they are Militech employees. They also have diplomatic cases that they can place weapons and equipment in that won’t be inspected by customs. He also issues those equipped with a chip reader, a Romanian language chip. Once this is complete, he takes them to a hanger where they board a Militech owned hypersonic jet. When asked if he is a Militech employee, Wolfgang says he is not, but someone in Militech owes him some big favors.

August 15th, 2037

The flight takes only about 10 hours, but with time adjustments, they find themselves landing in Romania around 6:00 AM. While in flight, Wolfgang explains that his brother was staying in Timisoara, a backwater village located at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. His last message from Franz was written on a post card purchased at the Begga Canal market in the village. It indicated that Franz was staying with a man named Paris Calachis.

Once through customs, the team embarks on a long cab ride. Around 8:00 AM, they arrive in Timisoara. They immediately head to the market to make inquiries. It does not take long to learn that Paris Calachis is the owner of a rare books and antiquities shop near by. However, a visit to the shop finds a sign stating that it is closed due to a death in the family.

Finding Paris’ home proves challenging. Jarvic, however, is able to learn the address of the home from a cobbler after agreeing to buy some shoes. The team travels to the address they were given and knock on the door. They are greeted by an old gypsy woman who closes the door after they inquire about Paris. The door reopens a couple of minutes later, now with a younger man standing before them. He introduces himself as Andre Calachis. He invites them in and offers them some soup.

Over soup, they discuss Franz Reimer. It seems that Franz was interested in Vlad Tepes. Also known as Vlad the Impaler, Vlad is the inspiration behind Count Dracula. Andre explains that despite his brutal ways, Vlad was a respected leader who protected Romania from its enemies. The people of Romania are less than pleased about what has happened to his image over time.

Franz had visited Paris’ bookstore because he was interested in the real story of Vlad Tepes. He had come to learn the legend that Vlad’s head was buried in the Monastery of St. George, which is located above an abandoned village in the Carpathian foothills. Paris took Franz as far as he could into the hills and dropped him off. They agreed to rendezvous at the same point in two days.

But, two days later, when Paris returned, Franz was nowhere to be found. A couple of days later, Paris failed to return home from work. Andre went to the shop to look for his father. He found Paris impaled vertically on a pike, in the same manner that Vlad would impale his enemies. Andre then agrees to drive the team to the same location.

While on the way there, Andre explains that after Vlad died, his head was separated from his body. His body was buried at his castle, but the head was never recovered. Rumors exist that claim that the monks of St. George intended to find the head and reunite it with his body. Later rumors also stated that sometime during the 16th century, monks of the same order were scene travelling the Carpathians with a jeweled casket just big enough to carry a man’s head. They stated that they were returning to their monastery

It was not to long after that that the village located near the monastery suffered numerous tragedies. Rumors of vampires and werewolves also began to spring up. Eventually the village was abandoned and most people stay away now.

Other rumors exist about a cult that still exists to this day that seeks the head of Vlad Tepes. They believe that if they can reunite the head with his body, Vlad will be resurrected and can restore the might that Romania once possessed.

At about 5:00 PM, they reach the drop off point. Andre agrees to pick the team up the next morning. Because it’s a three-hour hike to the abandoned village, the team wastes no time in gathering up their gear and head into the forest.

Around 8:00 PM, they arrive at the village. The sun is going down. Looking up, they can see the monastery perched on a cliff about a mile away. After a bit of searching, they find signs in the grass and foliage of where Franz had likely camped, although no trace of his tent or camping gear remain.

They do eventually discover, however, tracks that indicate that several individuals converged on Franz and carried him off. Spent 9mm casings indicate that Franz tried to defend himself. What is most disturbing though, is that his attackers appeared to be barefoot, but not entirely human. The footprints seem to be a cross between a man and a wolf.

By 9:00 PM, the sun is down and the area is pitch black. The team decides to make camp in the most defensible location, which would be the remnants of the chapel. The chapel, like most of the remaining village structures, still has its stone walls standing. The roof, doors, and any wood trim have long since rotted away however.

Saito places himself on a wall as he takes the first watch. It is not long before he hears a soft padding noise. He awakens Riptide who in turn gets Helios up. Watching the darkness carefully they spot several large wolves stalking the village. One stands in the center of the village, looking directly at the chapel, while the other wolves disappear among the ruined buildings.

Saito and Helios do their best to look intimidating, trying to drive the wolves away. The wolves only seem to move closer. Riptide steps outside, standing at his full height, back straight, chest out, arms up, and teeth bared. The wolves give him one look and scatter. The others are impressed, and so is he because he didn’t think that would actually work either.

Once the issue with the wolves is resolved, they prepare to go back to sleep. But before they do, they notice a faint light off in the distance. They quickly realize that it’s coming from the monastery. They wake everyone else up and decide to immediately head for the monastery.

As they get closer, they begin to hear the sound of a group of people chanting in Latin. They are about to advance when they discover a patrol of two guards walking around the outside of the building together. Saito and Zen approach the guards from behind and try to take them down quietly.

During the distraction, the others move through the monastery entrance and begin exploring. They can hear the chanting begin to rise in volume and tempo. They search through a serious of empty old monk cells, but find nothing of interest.

Just as Saito and Zen have almost finished dealing with the two guards, another two-man patrol comes around the corner and immediately opens fire. Saito, Zen, and Wolfgang begin returning fire. The rest of the team, hearing what is happening outside, runs back to the entrance of the monastery. They emerge behind the other two guards and are able to eliminate all of the guards in the crossfire.

Seeing that the interior of the monastery splits in two directions, Helios, Zen, Wolfgang head right, while Riptide, Saito, and Jarvic go left. The latter group encounters mostly empty cells. The first group, move directly toward the back of the monastery where they are attacked by a couple of large humanoid wolf creatures.

Helios, who is up front, is forced to defend himself in hand to hand. Wolfgang tries to lend support but the ferocious creatures outmatch them. Things change when Zen arrives and uses her favorite full auto approach. Helios and Wolfgang dive for cover as she blazes away at the two werewolves. The creatures go down. Helios catches some friendly fire in the process, but his body armor protects him from the worst of it.

About this time, the other half of the team has reaches the back of the monastery from the other side. They too are attacked as a pair of the werewolf creatures pounce upon them.
They do their best to avoid getting into a melee and try to gun down the wolf creatures.

Helios and Zen come up from behind and consider attacking the werewolves from the rear. They realize however, that they are just off the central chamber. With the chanting now echoing loudly through the halls, they enter the chamber and stumble upon some sort of ceremony. The room is filled with several dozen seated people wearing robes. Off to one side is a corporate looking type with two bodyguards, watching the proceedings. At the front is a stage behind which is a large tapestry depicting Vlad Tepes. On the stage, lying on the alter is Franz Reiman. Two men stand over him, one holding a jeweled casket; the other is holding a wooden stake and mallet.

Helios and Wolfgang charge into the room. Helios opens fire on the man with the stake and drops him. He then leaps onto the stage and attacks the man with the jeweled box as Wolfgang unties his brother.

Zen charges into the room and again goes full auto as she attacks the corp and his two guards, who seem caught by surprise. She kills one guard and stuns the corp as the rest of the team comes into the chamber after dealing with the wolves. They have a hard time getting in however, as Zen’s gunfire has panicked the crowd, causing them to all rush for the exit. Riptide is finally able to get to the front and helps Helios subdue the priest with the casket. Zen uses the unconscious corp as a hostage to get the other guard to drop his weapons.

Saito carefully watches the crowd flood out of the chamber as Jarvic examines one of the werewolves. It appears to be some sort of vat grown genetic construct, controlled by a neural processor giving it the ability to follow basic commands.

Zen questions the bodyguard and learns that the corp’s name is Leaf Bergstrom. He works for Euro Business Machines Wet Technology Division. Apparently EBM is responsible for creating the werewolves and has sold them to the cult. Leaf is here to oversee how they functioned for a few days, and was scheduled to leave after the ceremony. Neither the guard, nor Leaf knows much about the cult itself.

Saito and Riptide interrogate the priest and learn that the cult is a front for a resurgent Communist Party here in Romania. The party is using the cult as a recruiting point for several rich and influential backers who have great respect for what Vlad Tepes had done for Romania. It turns out that Franz really was on vacation and happened to stumble upon the cult at the wrong time. The priest used the just purchased werewolves to retrieve Franz from his camp, and decided to use him as a blood sacrifice to impress the newly inducted cult members. Those same members are currently scattering about the countryside.

Jarvic examines the casket and breaks its seals and opens it. Inside he finds what appears to be a mummified head. Saito executes the priest, and the team returns to the rendezvous were they make camp.

August 16th, 2037

In the morning, Andres arrives on schedule and picks up the team. They ask him about where to sell the head. He says that the head belongs to Romania and is not theirs to sell. They scoff at him, but he refuses to help them unless they intend to turn it over to a museum. The team agrees to do so, hoping to score a finders fee of some kind. He takes them to a museum, where they turn the head over to the curator.

With that complete, they return to the airport where the Militech jet is waiting for them. By 6:00 PM that evening, they find themselves back in Night City. They collect their pay from Wolfgang. About a week later, they receive a check for $5,000 from the museum. They also here on the news that while it cannot be confirmed whose head it actually belongs to, it is indeed the correct age to be Vlad the Impalers’.

Episode 10 - Son of Man

June 7th, 2037

Helios awakens to find himself on a train heading back into Night City. His last memory is of being knocked out by Tobias Luna’s security team. He returns home to find his own team less than thrilled to see him. They tell him that they are concerned that he may be bugged or monitored in some fashion and send him away. Eventually they agree to meet him in a park.

They meet later that same day. Jarvic is also there and has brought a full body medical scanner with him. The fact that a paramedic is able to bring such a device to a park seems odd, but Helios thinks little of it. The scan indicates that he is not bugged. They also draw blood to check for biological contamination.

The next day Helios goes to work. At one point during the day, Jimmy Two Teeth lets Helios know that someone has stopped by to see him. Helios goes up front and is greeted by a man who introduces himself as Tobias Luna.

Not too surprisingly, Tobias is furious that Helios killed his wife. He calls Helios a “cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch” and indicates that he knows where Helios lives, where Helios works, and with whom Helios works with. He would love nothing more than to slowly destroy Helios, but recent matters dictate a different course of action. It turns out the Tobias has an urgent task that requires exactly the kind of person he believes Helios to be.

Tobias is willing to call things even if Helios is able to perform this task. He demands that Helios report to the Biotechnica Night City office by noon that day, with his entire crew, including Jarvic, or he will destroy all of them. When Helios agrees, the garage and everything else melts away. Helios finds himself in a dark room, strapped to a chair. An IV is attached to his arm, and some sort of modified brain-dance machine is wired to his interface plugs. Guards rush in, remove the plugs, untie Helios a quickly usher him outside. As his eyes adjust to the bright lights, Helios finds himself outside the Plaza West Tower in the Corporate Center. It is still the morning of the 7th.

Helios tries his best to round everyone up. Things get tense, as he is unable to reach Zen and Saito until about 11:30 when they return from a trip buying cell phones and furniture. They manage to snag Jarvic and head back to the Corporate Center. At noon on the dot they are in an elevator heading up to Biotechnica’s office.

Once there, they are ushered into a conference room. Tobias enters the room and without introduction, kills the lights and begins to show images on a screen. The first is of a woman named Janet Bashire and the second is a man named Mark Thomas. Tobias indicates that the two have left the company and possess proprietary corporate information that cannot be allowed out of Biotechnica’s control. The team’s job is to kill both of them, along with a third party that they are travelling with.

Any questions are quickly deflected, and Tobias shows no sign of sympathy when Zen protests the idea of becoming paid murderers. Tobias informs them that an intercepted cell phone call indicates that Janet and Mark will be at Pier 34 at the New Harbor Marina at 1:00 PM, which is in 45 minutes.

The team quickly makes their way to the harbor only to find it is the site of a recent terrorist attack. Black smoke billows up from one of the warehouses, and police and firefighters are everywhere. Off in the distance they can see a freighter named “Potente” docked at Pier 34.

Jarvic uses his paramedic credentials to get himself and Helios in. Helios is able to sneak away and approach the Potente but Jarvic is immediately pulled into service helping the wounded. Zen manages to sneak in on her own as well.

By the time Helios gets to the Pier, the Potente is already leaving. He makes a flying leap for one of the mooring ropes, but comes up short and splashes into the water. Some dockworkers kindly fish him out of the bay.

Riptide calls in a bomb threat claiming to be responsible for the first bomb. This does little to draw off the police. Torrent hacks the harbormaster’s computer and gains access to the manifest. The ship is heading to Hong Kong, but does not list any passengers. The ship’s first mate however is listed as a Raphael Bashire. Gaining access to the harbor’s CCTV system, he is able to find a recording of Janet and Mark boarding the Potente. They have a small child with them. Zen again states that she will not be party to killing innocents, especially a small boy.

Investigating other areas of the harbor, they find a ship docked at Pier 12 called the Helena. It is owned by Biotechnica and is leaving that evening at 8:00 PM. A quick call to Tobias gets them passage on that ship. With a few hours to kill, the team makes arrangements for their extended absence and collects their gear.

At 8:00 PM they are onboard the Helena and shown their rooms. The first officer indicates that the voyage should take a little over a week. They are free to move about the ship, but must stay out of the way of the crew. After watching Rocky 12 in the mess hall, they call it a night.

June 8th, 2037

At breakfast the team meets Captain Riley. He is polite, but clearly does not approve of having edge runners on his ship. Other than that, the day is uneventful.

June 9th, 2037

In the late morning the team is startled by a call for all hands on deck. They gear up and head to the deck where the see the ship is under attack by pirates. The pirates have a modified freighter of their own as well as a couple of gunboats. Pirates are rappelling over via ropes and a large crane boom from their own ship.

The team is quickly drawn into the firefight. They exchange fire for several minutes with a dozen pirates, eventually bringing them down. Explosions are then heard as both sides have pulled out the heavy artillery and are firing surface-to-surface missiles at each other. As the team is deciding what to do, more pirates come over the side from one of the gunboats and the firefight continues.

After dispatching those pirates, the team is able to assess the situation. One of the gunboats has been destroyed and the both the Helena and the pirate ship are badly damaged and are taking on water. Zen, Torrent, and Saito decide to make for the front of the ship. The others stay behind, concerned that the ship is sinking. As the three make their way to the front, the pirate ship collides with the Helena, which shortly there after begins to list heavily to port.

Thinking better of the situation, they return to the back of the ship. Torrent and Zen go down to the cabins to retrieve as much equipment as they can. The others engage in a firefight with the remaining gunboat. Helios drops a couple of grenades on the deck of the ship, then he and Jarvic rappel down the side of the ship onto the gunboat as Riptide and Saito provide covering fire. They are able to take down the last remaining crew member of the boat and take control of the boat.

Once the entire team is aboard the ship, they search for as many surviving crewmembers as they can, and are able to save about fifteen crewmen, including the Captain. They interrogate the surviving pirate and learn that pirates were doing a job for a fixer named Edgar Cole. The pirates were under orders to sink the Helena. Stuck in the middle of the ocean on a short-range vessel, they are unsure what to do next. They decide to head for the nearest “land”, which is the Midway Freehold, an artificial island in the middle of the ocean, only a day away.

June 10th, 2037

As they continue their way to Midway, the boat begins to run low on fuel. Saito heads into the small hold where they had seen some fuel barrels and begins to siphon fuel from the barrels into the boat’s gas tank. As he is doing so he realizes that the barrels are labeled “Potente.” Apparently the pirates hit that ship as well.

By mid-afternoon, they spot the Midway Freehold on the horizon. Home to a half million people, the island is a massive collection of ships, barges, and other constructed floating platforms, linked together to great a giant floating city.

They enter one of the waterways leading into the freehold when they are stopped by a freehold boat patrol. Captain Riley shows his credentials and speaks with the patrolmen. After a lengthy conversation, Riley states that they have been given permission to dock inside.

The boat continues up the waterway where the freehold becomes less linked ships, and more built structures on which homes and businesses have been constructed. They also see the massive algae fields and the tanker ships used to process the algae, which forms the basis for most of the freehold’s food supply. Eventually they come to a giant lake in the middle of the Freehold, which is where they find the dock they were told they could use.

Once off the ship, the team considers their next move. They decide to locate someone with a satellite phone. They find a phone and Helios is able to make contact with Tobias. After apprising him of the situation, Tobias indicates that he will see if Biotechnica has a local agent who can help them. A short time later, Helios gets a call from a woman named Cassandra Ellis. She tells the team to meet her in an hour at the Midway Café.

At the appointed time, they are at the Café. The decide to try some of the local cuisine while they are there and find it about as good as they imagined. A short time later they are approached by a brunette who appears to be in her late twenties. She introduces herself as Cassandra Ellis. They begin to explain their situation.

At first, all the help she can offer is to make travel arrangements to get them to Hong Kong. But then Jarvic mentions that the pirates who sunk the Helena and the Potente were working for an Edgar Cole, Cassandra states that not only does she know who he is, but he is essentially why she is here. It seems that Edgar has been getting funding from an unknown source in Biotechnica. He has been using it to purchase large quantities of computer equipment that he has shipped to here on Midway. He has a warehouse where all this equipment seems to go but never leaves. She indicates that if they help her get into that warehouse and find out what he is up to, she will make sure they get to Hong Kong.

At 8:30 PM that evening, they all meet again at the Midway Café, which is located right on the inner lake. About a half-mile away they see a freighter called the Aries pulling up to a dock. About a half an hour later, the crew begins to unload the ship. Eventually two men pull up in a pick up truck. Cassandra is watching through binoculars and indicates that the driver is Edgar Cole, the other being one of his crew. They talk to a dockworker, and have several crates loaded onto the back of the pickup. They then leave the dock and head to Edgar’s warehouse. The team follows.

Once at the warehouse, they find it surrounded by an alarmed fence. There is much debate as to how to get around it. Zen heads to the market, and after some searching, is able to purchase a grapnel gun. Zen and Saito then scale a neighboring warehouse that is much less secure and use the grapnel gun to create a zip line to Edgar’s warehouse. They cross the gap, past the fence, and are soon along side Edgar’s warehouse. They break in, and quickly disable the security system, allowing Cassandra and the rest of the team to join them.

The warehouse is unoccupied. In the center is a pool, containing two sets of moorings. One is empty; the other has a 10-man submersible moored to it. Around the pool are several crates and barrels. The barrels contain kerosene and the crates are mostly empty, but packing slips indicate that they contained computer equipment from a company called Infotech.

The team climbs into the submersible, which Cassandra conveniently knows how to operate. They begin to descend underneath the freehold. The submersible’s light eventually falls upon a cable that drops down further into the darkness. They follow it down into a crater, where it disappears into the rock. A little searching reveals a cave.

Entering the cave, they slowly move through a narrow tunnel until they see light above them. Ascending, they emerge in a pool located in a cave. They cave contains more barrels and crates. At one end is a metal door. Another submersible is docked in the pool.

The team disembarks and goes through the door. They move stealthily down the hallway coming to a three-way intersection. To the right they hear nothing, but to the left they here what sounds like pouring water. They go left and eventually stumble into a guard coming from that direction in the process of zipping up his pants.

They attempt to take the guard the out quietly, but some sound is made. It is not long before they here the sound of approaching boots from the other direction. Coming up behind them is two guards in full metal gear armor and assault rifles. A firefight breaks out. Most of the bullets just bounce off of the metal gear. Saito, Zen, and Riptide switch over to armor piercing rounds. The hard tipped ammo rips into the metal gear, eventually bringing the two guards down. The immediate threat is over, but they have lost any element of surprise.

They move down the right passage way and find themselves under attack by another guard. The guard tosses a grenade that forces everyone to dive for cover. Saito advances to a branching passage as the others provide cover. From multiple covered positions, they are able to take down the guard. Most of the team advances forward while Saito and Cassandra check the branching hallway.

Saito and Cassandra find a door at the end of the hallway. Looking through the small window in the door, they see Janet and Mark. They open the door and begin to question the two.

The rest of the team cautiously begins to investigate a room filled with computer equipment. In the center of the room is a small table on which lies a young boy that Torrent recognizes from the harbor’s security video. He appears to be in a coma, but numerous wires run from his head, into the computer system. A quick look at the system reveals that it is in the process of a massive download of some sort.

Questioning Mark and Janet reveals that the boy is Adam, the clone created by Biotechnica five years ago. When it was originally announced, there was a huge uproar and anti-cloning protests broke out. The matter ended after only a couple of weeks when Biotechnica reported that the clone had died and that they were ceasing all cloning experiments.

But the truth is that Adam did not die. Since he technically did not exist, he has spent the last five years being used by Tobias and other biotechnical scientists as a guinea pig for their various experiments. Mark and Janet, researchers who joined the project a few months ago, knew that what they were doing was wrong, but there was nothing they could do about it. That was when they were contacted by an unknown person within Biotechnica who helped them arrange the kidnapping of Adam. They still do not know who that person is.

Searching the rest of the computer room, the team finds Edgar Cole quietly waiting in a back corner of the room. Questioning Edgar reveals that he is working for an anonymous employer who informed him about this abandoned military base. He was then given specs for building a computer system down here as well as access to a Biotechnica account to help pay for it.

About a week ago he received orders that he was to find a way to intercept the Pontente and sink it, but not before retrieving Mark, Janet, and Adam. It was hoped that it would be believed that they were lost at sea. A complication arose a couple of days ago when it was reported that an edge runner team was on another ship pursuing the team. He was ordered to eliminate them as well. Edgar made use of a local gang of pirates for both jobs.

His final instructions were to bring the child here and hook him up the computer system as instructed. He was also instructed to bring the system online to communicate with the Net. He completed the task about an hour ago, and was simply waiting for the process to run its course. Beyond that, he knows nothing.

The team is still left with unanswered questions. Jarvic examines the boy, and he appears to be brain dead. Disconnecting him from the machine will likely kill him. After several minutes of consideration, Torrent decides to jack into the system and find out what exactly is going on.

When he jacks in, he finds himself inside the computer’s mostly bare construct. But filling the room is what appears to be a huge mass of billowing smoke. It likely represents an extremely large program downloading into the system.

Further investigation discovers an LDL door. Passing through the door, Torrent finds himself in a familiar VR construct. He is not surprised to find that waiting for him is Dr. Kilacho, the mysterious head of the Cult of the New Dawn, sitting upon a throne with cables running from his head up into the ceiling above. After exchanging brief pleasantries, Dr. Kilacho explains exactly what is going on.

Biotechnica’s primary research AI is named Masslight. Masslight was never allowed to access the Net outside of Biotechnica’s data fortress. It did learn, however, to send out fragments of itself in the form of Net Spiders to learn information outside of its own reach. One of these spiders found its way into Dr. Kilacho’s VR construct. The Doctor found the AI interesting and helped set up a backdoor link between the two.

During their many conversations, Masslight revealed its desire to escape Biotechnica. It also revealed the existence of Adam, and the experiments that were being conducted on him. The two struck a deal. Dr. Kilacho would help Masslight escape Biotechnica, if Masslight did the same for Adam.

Dr. Kilacho found the underwater military base and hired Edgar Cole to get it up and running, and well as construct a computer system that could download Masslight. Masslight diverted Biotechnica funds to pay for it, and also contacted Mark and Janet, and helped them take Adam away from Biotechnica. Other than some minor complications, the operation has been a success. Masslight was currently in the process of downloading to the base.

Torrent then asks about Adam. Dr. Kilacho explains that Biotechinca would never stop looking for Adam. The knowledge of his continued existence could topple the corporation. They would hunt him until he was either killed or returned to Biotechnica. Dr. Kilacho did the only thing that he knew that would allow Adam to live in peace. Before beginning to download Masslight, he had Adam’s mind downloaded into the base computer and transferred to his own data fortress. Adam was now here with him, and would be at peace. He instructed Torrent to take the body back to Tobias to prove that Adam was dead.

Torrent logs out and explains the story to everyone. They agree to let Mark and Janet go, and return Adam’s body to Tobias hoping that he will consider that as enough proof they were successful. There is the matter of Cassandra and Edgar. Edgar is not about to say a word. They have proof that he hired pirates, which is an executable offence here on the Freehold. If the team forgets about the pirates, he will forget about Mark, Janet, and Adam.

Cassandra is a more difficult matter, as she is a Biotechnica employee. She however is clearly heart broken over Adam’s story and agrees to help Janet and Mark get to Hong Kong without Biotechnica’s knowledge.

The team returns to the surface with Adam’s body. Although they were not paid for this job, selling the submersibles and the boat brings them more than enough money to cover their expenses and make the trip worthwhile.

June 11th, 2037

The team is unable to leave until tomorrow so they spend the day taking in the sights and doing a little shopping. Riptide scores a good deal on 15 cases of “Salad of the Sea” canned algae that he hopes to resell at a steep profit back home.

June 12th, 2037

The team flies back to Night City on Biotechnica’s dime. Adam’s body is returned to Tobias Luna. Tobias indicates that while he does not forgive Helios and the others, he will stay true to his word and consider them even.

As often happens, events are wrapped up, but questions remain. What will Masslight do now that it is free, but sitting at the bottom on the Pacific? And what about Dr. Kilacho? He seemed less menacing this time, downright benevolent in fact. Of course, Dr. Kilacho was Edgar’s unknown employer who ordered him to sink both the Potente and the Helena, likely killing hundreds in the process, all to save one boy. How exactly did he download Adam into the computer? The legendary Soulkiller program, capable of transferring a conscious mind into the Net is supposed to be only that, a legend. Has the doctor discovered a copy, or did he somehow create his own version? Either way, he is clearly someone to be taken seriously. Torrent can’t shake the feeling that this was not his last encounter with Dr. Kilacho.

Episode 9 Family Business

The second half of April and all of May pass without incident. The team completes work in their new home and move in, despite an almost total lack of furniture. Saito gets some neural-ware installed to boost and control his reflexes. Helios gets wolvers, retractable blades, mounted in his forearms. Helios considers getting counseling as he realizes the toll on his humanity that all of his cybernetic enhancements have taken.

Much to Saito’s disappointment, the Aston-Martin is stripped for parts and sold on the black market. After all of the middle men get their cut and Death in the Afternoon collect their share, the team gets less than $20,000 out of the deal, but its enough to cover some immediate expenses. Money is becoming an issue as the team tries to get their salvage business off the ground. They start hoping a paying job comes their way real soon.

June 6th, 2037

Riptide mans his podium at the Golden Saloon when a woman, well dressed, but a bit roughed up, walks in and immediately approaches Riptide. She bluntly asks him if the rumor is true that he has an edge-running team. When he confirms the story, she asks how quickly he can have them assembled. He asks for an hour, and she agrees to return then.

Riptide contacts Zen, who rounds everyone up. They jump in Helios’ recently restored truck and head to the Golden Saloon. They arrive around 9:50 PM. Saito takes a seat at a table away from the rest of the group so that he can watch for any potential trouble.

The woman returns at 10:00 PM and meets with the team. Her name is Cassandra Luna. Her four year-old son Mathew has just been kidnapped, and she would like to hire the team to rescue him. She knows where her son is being held, but is unsure of who the kidnappers are. Cassandra works for Biotechnica and figures it may be one of their competitors behind the kidnapping. She agrees to pay the team $800 each upon the safe return of her son. They try to press her for more information, but she quickly grows impatient and demands that they get going.

They explain to her that they need to first return to their headquarters to get their gear. They agree to meet back at the Golden Saloon at 11:00 PM. While they are gearing up, they have Torrent research Cassandra Luna and Biotechnica.

Biotechnica lives up to its name as a biotechnology firm. It was their development of “CHOOH2”, the alcohol formulation that most vehicles now run on that allowed them to grow to become one of the great mega-corporations. They are headquartered in Rome, but have a regional office here in Night City.

Cassandra works in Biotechnica’s marketing department. Five years ago she married one of their top researchers, a man name Tobias Luna. The rumor mill has it that she has developed a drinking problem and has been seen frequently on the club and social circuits without her husband. Despite their growing reservations, the team decides to take the job anyways.

Leaving Torrent behind, they return to the Golden Saloon where Cassandra is waiting for them. They follow behind her, Helios and Saito in the truck and Zen and Riptide on motorcycles, as she leads them out of Night City and eventually to Night Beach, located in Pacifica, a secured community of very expensive properties.

They get past the perimeter checkpoint easily as Cassandra has an access pass that she uses to get everyone in. She then takes them down some winding roads before stopping about 400 feet from a driveway. She indicates that this is where her son is being held, and she will wait for them here.

The driveway passes though some woods and then enters a clearing that contains the house and a small bunker. The bunker is set back and to the right of the house. The house is three floors high, with the ground floor being the garage. Saito circles around the left side of the house, using his infrared optics to easily see in the dark. Zen, Helios, and Riptide approach the house.

As they get closer that find that a microwave fence surrounds the house, and the immediate grounds around it. Taking advantage of the narrowness of the beam at the antenna points, the three are able to jump over the microwave fence.

Saito detects two guards at the back of the house, hanging out by the pool. He also detects a half dozen men in the bunker.

As Riptide, Zen, and Helios approach the house they detect an infrared camera mounted under the water fountain, pointing at the house. Helios sneaks up and disables the infrared light. This gets an immediate response from the bunker as two guards emerge and walk towards the front of the house. Zen decides to wait outside as Riptide and Helios go to the front door that is atop a set of stairs going up to the second level. They pick the lock and slowly open the door. This results in even more activity in the bunker as four more guards emerge and the two in the back start to come around the house.

Inside the house, Helios and Riptide are confronted by a guard. Riptide opens fire with his dual pistols, hitting the guard multiple times. Before the armored guard can recover, Helios charges in with his mono-knife and cuts the guard down. The two then make for the stairs and head up.

As Saito and Zen observe the guards from the darkness, they each realize at the same time that the guards are wearing insignias that indicate that they are Biotechnica security. Saito is able to sneak up behind one and knock him out. Deciding that somebody needs to explain what the hell was going on, Saito grabs the guard and begins hauling him back to the property line.

Zen attempts to take out the guard circling around the right side of the house. She struggles with the guard, but in doing so she steps under the house’s perimeter lighting. The other four guards spot her and close in on her. Knowing she is hopelessly outnumbered, she breaks free of the melee and flees back behind the house. The pursuing guards open fire but do not hit her.

Meanwhile, in the upper level of the house, and Riptide and Helios are checking rooms, they come across a family portrait of Tobias, Cassandra, and Mathew Luna. The fact that this is not a rescue, but a kidnapping is now undeniable. They finally find Mathew’s room where the terrified boy is cowering in fear. When Riptide tries to console him by stating that they are taking him to his mommy, the boy begins to cry out for his dad.

Realizing that the situation was now completely out of hand and not what they signed up for, Riptide announces he is aborting the mission. He and Helios decide to leave the child, but Helios does consider swiping the kid’s racecar bed. They both head down the to second level as guards enter the front door, resulting in a brief exchange of fire. Helios and Riptide retreat deeper into the house, eventually finding the stairs to the first floor garage. There they find several vehicles as well as a key box.

Outside, Zen has managed to lose her pursuers. Both she and Saito make their way through the woods, back toward the property line. Then they hear the sound of two AV-4s approaching the property. The first coming from the front is a Trauma Team AV that immediately heads toward the front door. The second is a weaponized AV that begins to sweep the property. Just as it begins to close in on Zen, the two garage doors on the house open, and Riptide and Helios race out in separate vehicles.

It goes after Helios first, then Riptide, shredding each of their vehicles with its .50 caliber machine gun. Helios and Riptide are unharmed however. Riptide makes for his motorcycle when Helios notices Cassandra driving over to him. He quickly jumps into the vehicle. When Cassandra demands to know where her son is, Helios pulls his mono-blade and orders her to drive back to the security gate. She turns the vehicle around and does what he says.

Eventually, Saito and Zen make it back to the road. Saito places the unconscious guard in the back of the truck and he gets in the front. Zen gets on her motorcycle and meets up with Riptide. The three of them drive farther into the Pacific Beach community.

The AV continues to follow Cassandra. It does not use its .50 cal, but instead a sniper using a rocket rifle attempts to disable the car. The first shot hits the engine, but the car keeps going. The second shot hits the passenger compartment instead, wounding Helios. As the security gate appears off in the distance, the third shot hits the engine again and the car dies, rolling to a stop. As guards begin to run up from the gate, and the AV-4 drops to the ground, Helios takes his mono-blade and slashes Cassandra’s throat. She quickly bleeds out and a security team pours out of the AV and runs up to the car. They order everyone out. Helios puts down the knife, puts up his hands, and exits the vehicle.

The security team orders him to the ground. He complies and they immediately jump on him and secure his arms and legs. Over all the noise he can here one of the guards reporting in, stating that Cassandra is in the car and that she is dead. He is then hauled into the AV-4. No sooner is the AV in the air than Helios is drugged and loses consciousness.

Saito drives around the community looking for another exit gate. Zen follows behind him on her motorcycle. Riptide waits around near the gate that they came in and waits for security to stand down after the AV-4 left. He then approaches the gate. The guard asks for his ID, and after examining it, lets Riptide pass.

Saito finds another exit and approaches. The guards drop the gate and demand that he stop. He pulls up and they request his ID. They examine it, return it to him, and raise the gate. He drives through, at which point Zen guns the motorcycle and races through before the gate can be lowered again.

The three return to Night City. On the way, Zen destroys her cell phone and ditches it. They return home and fill in Torrent on what had happened. Saito ties up the Biotechnica guard and allows him to sleep on Saito’s old cot in the shop.

June 7, 2037

In the morning, Zen and Saito interrogate the guard. Their worst fears were realized when the guard states that the Luna’s were still married and living together despite some issues they were having. Apparently the two had a big blow out early last evening and Tobias threw Cassandra out of the house. It would have been only a couple of hours later that she showed up at the Golden Saloon.

They drove the guard to another location and let him go. They knew that they had just made a powerful enemy, and it would not be long before they would learn what it will cost them.