Cyberpunk 2036

Episode 14 Monkey in the Middle

November 6th, 2037

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 7th, 2037

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Episode 13 Juke Box Saturday Night

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

October 30th, 2037

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

October 31st, 2037

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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Episode 8 Dial M for Murder

With the Axe Man investigation finally put to bed, the team begins working on some personal plans. Torrent starts work on his new program idea that he calls “Wraith.” Riptide successfully pitches to the Golden Saloon owner his idea for a side business that he would manage involving strippers appearing at parties. Saito and Zen remain in the hospital getting stitched together from the shoot out at the Western Bar.

April 5, 2037

The team begins to formulate a plan to start a “salvage” business, or more accurately a scavenge business, picking up the pieces from various firefights and stripping anything valuable from them. Needed resources are listed and a vague business plan is put together.

April 6, 2037

Riptide heads down to the local body-mod boutique and has himself injected with a serum containing millions of nano-bots. The microscopic robots go to work on his skin, rebuilding it at the molecular level. The result is a somewhat tight and leathery looking skin, but its now strong enough to deflect a small caliber bullet.

April 7, 2037

The team members go about their usual routines.

April 8, 2037

Helios, Torrent, and Riptide venture into the Combat Zone in search of a cheap (free) place to set up shop. The Combat Zone is divided into small territories controlled by various booster gangs. The team is savvy enough to know that the first step to acquiring some space in the Combat Zone is to first find a booster gang you can do business with.

Their first stop is to talk to the only guy they know who knows his way around the Combat Zone. This means going back to the Mediterranean to talk to the Manic Hispanic. He’s happy to see them and has news. A Hispanic gentleman, likely Columbian, was in a couple of days back asking about the team. The man, calling himself Alonzo, did not know anybody’s names. He just had their descriptions. Their manic contact did not give him much more to go on.

Back to the reason they were there, he suggested they talk to a nihilist gang calling themselves Death in the Afternoon. They run out of an abandoned convenience store on the east side of the Combat Zone.

A trip to the east side finds the Death in the Afternoon hangout. There they meet the gang’s leader Neil. It becomes clear real quick this gang has a very anti-corporate stance as Neil questions them about any corporate affiliations they might have.

Riptide is in the zone as he begins his pitch to Neil about using a building in their territory as a base of operations. By the time the wheeling and dealing is done, the team has acquired two back-to-back buildings for their use. One is an old auto-repair garage and the other is a four-unit apartment building. Death in the Afternoon agrees to let them use the space and help keep others away from the building in exchange for 35% of the teams take and an understanding that they do not do any salvage work in Death’s own territory.

The three check out the property. The repair garage is a three-bay facility and the apartments are single bedroom apartments about 800 square feet each. Most of the doors and windows are missing and there is no power. After Torrent electrocutes himself, he and Helios are able to get the power back up again.

April 9 – April 12, 2037

Saito is released from the hospital. The team spends the next week devoting all of their free time to restoring the two buildings, including knocking a hole in the adjoining walls to create a pass through.

April 13, 2037

Zen is released from the hospital. She finds she has a message on her cell phone from Irina, asking to speak with her. Zen calls her back and learns that an Alonzo Nava had visited Irina. He asked her the same questions he had asked the Manic Hispanic. During the conversation, he received a phone call from someone he referred to as Violet.

April 14 – April 15, 2037

Work continues on restoring their new base of operations.

April 16, 2037

Zen receives a phone call from Dollar Bill. He tells her that Irina was found dead in her home, shot twice in the back. The team heads to her home and investigates. Inside they find a hand written note stating:

Your interference in my business may cost you your life. I am willing to spare you if you are willing to turn over your brother’s cyber-deck to me. Otherwise my Hispanic friend will return.

At the bottom of the note is a contact number. Torrent looks up the phone number and finds out it is a direct line for room 601 at the Havenford Hotel. It is registered to a Vanessa Ryker.

Outside, the team encounters the local kids, now led after the death of Miguel by a girl named Rita. She states that they did not witness the murder, but saw the man who had visited her a few days back. His description matches the one that the Manic Hispanic gave. She also indicates that he drove off in a new red Nissan Metro-Car with a Ron Walker Car Dealership sticker on the back.

Torrent hacks the Ron Walker Dealership computer and finds that the car was purchased by the The Advocet hotel concierge for a Mr. Alfonze Martinez. The Advocet is located directly behind the Havenford Hotel. Torrent attempts to access the Advocet’s computer but finds their security quite high and has to abandon the attempt.

Zen continues to search Irina’s home for clues. The rest of the team drives downtown to pay a visit to room 601 of the Havenford Hotel. They jimmy the lock and find the room in use, but currently unoccupied. There are a couple of empty suitcases and a closet full of women’s clothes. The desk in the room has a file folder on it. The folder contains some very basic information on the Axeman. An envelope inside contains a typed note: “In response to your request, the safe house in Pacifica is available for your use.” An address and security pass card are also in the envelope. Torrent looks up the address and finds it is a property owned by Diverse Media Systems.

The team decides to wait until Vanessa returns. By 3:00 AM, with no sign of her, they make their exit.

April 17, 2037

Helios, Saito, Torrent, and Riptide drive out to Pacifica. At the security gate at the perimeter of the gated community, the guard comments that the house they are heading to has been busy lately. He then wishes them luck with the weatherizing. No one asks what he means by that.

They find the entrance to the property and drive up the driveway. Saito and Helios remain in the van, while Riptide and Torrent go to the house. Riptide picks the lock and they head in.

Inside the front door is a set of steps going up and another going down. Riptide heads upstairs and Torrent goes downstairs. Torrent finds little of interest downstairs but as Riptide is investigating the upstairs, he is approached from behind by someone who puts a gun to his head. A female voice asks what he is doing there. He tries to claim that he is there to weatherize the place. He sticks with his story, despite the fact that she clearly does not believe him.

Torrent can hear the talking upstairs and slowly makes his way up. Violet must have heard him however and pulls Riptide between her and Torrent as he comes up the stairs.
In a daring maneuver, Riptide grabs her arm and flips her over himself, throwing her down on the ground, all without getting shot. He asks who she is and she says her name is Vanessa Ryker, also known as Violet.

They continue to question her and learn that her involvement in recent events had nothing to do with Axeman or the Lovodnys. She was contracted by DMS to gain influence with the Wire Cult. Her method of doing that was to help the Wire Cult eliminate their primary rivals, the Spikes. After she reported the events to her clients, including the team’s involvement, Alfonze Martinez approached her. He seemed to also be working for DMS. He was very interested in any information she had on the team, which was little. A short time later, he indicated that the team had learned her identity and were looking to kill her to avenge the Spikes. He is the one that sent her to this safe house.

Sensing that this may all be a trap set up by Mr. Martinez, they decide to leave the house at once. However, they barely make a step towards the door when the house explodes. Riptide realizes he had enhanced his hide none too soon, as he is banged up pretty bad, but not critically injured. He finds Violet first, who is dead. He then finds Torrent, unconscious, and badly wounded. Riptide drags Torrent out of the rubble.

Helios starts to bring the van around when his passenger rear tire explodes. He drives up to the house anyways and another tire explodes. This time Saito is able to spot the muzzle flash of a rifle being fired from an out building several hundred yards away. A figure is then seen running at super-human speed from the building towards the woods. Saito lines up a shot and fires. The Towa rifle finds it mark nearly knocking the fleeing figure of his feet, but somehow he keeps going. Helios breaks into the separate garage and finds an Aston-Martin DB50. Unfortunately, it’s a two-seat roadster. With Saito driving, and Helios holding onto Torrent, they race off of the property. Helios goes on foot, and though it takes nearly an hour, he finds his was to the edge of Pacifica where he catches a train back to Night City.

Saito drops off Riptide and Torrent at the Stuart Hospital, where both are taken into surgery. Torrent ends up in the ICU while Riptide is placed in a recovery room. Saito then drives to their new home in the Combat Zone and camps out with the Aston-Martin. Meanwhile, Zen hires a lawyer to make sure that Irena’s estate ends up going to the local kids as she had intended.

April 17, 2037

Riptide is convalescing in the recovery room when a doctor walks in. Riptide happens to notice the doctor locking the door. He then notices that the doctor matches the description of the man who has been hunting them.

Being unarmed, Riptide knows his only chance is to engage the assassin in hand-to hand. Much to the assassin’s surprise, as well as the other patients in the room, Riptide bolts out of bed and charges the man. Mr. Martinez draws a 10mm ramjet pistol and opens fire on Riptide. The two grapple, with Riptide trying to disarm the man, while M tries to shoot Riptide at point blank range. Mr. M proves to be a trained grappler and getting a hold of him seems nearly impossible. M gets off several shots, but a combination of the short range, which reduces the effectiveness of the ramjet rounds, and Riptide’s skin weave, the new wounds do not prove fatal, although it takes every once of effort on Riptide’s part not to pass out.

Eventually, after a seeming eternity, hospital security shows up and manages to shoot the correct guy. Mr. M is killed. Riptide pockets the pistol.

The next day, Riptide is visited by the Night City Police who ask him about what he knows. Riptide claims to have no idea who the assassin was or what he wanted. There is also no way for the police to know that Riptide was in fact the one in the room that the assassin was after. When Riptide inquires about salvaging the body, the police state that it has already been claimed by Diverse Media Systems.

With Mr. M dead, that cloud that has been looming over them for several months has now passed. As usual, however, questions remain. M first appeared on the scene as an agent working for the drug lord Diego Entrada. Diego likely wanted the team dead for destroying his airfield and damaging his manufacturing facilities.

But more recent events seem to point to M working for DMS. As far as the group knew, they had never done anything to cheese off DMS. So who exactly was M working for while hunting down the team?

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Episode 7 Fall of the Axe Man

The team gets about a month of downtime after the extraction job involving the Children of the Dawn. Saito spends his time job-hunting with no success. Torrent continues to be frustrated by bugs in his Wild Goose Chase program. Helios begins looking for a motorcycle he can fix up. Riptide begins spending time hanging with the local mobsters that occasionally come into the Golden Saloon, hoping to establish a possible contact there. Zen starts hanging out at a Solo bar called The Afterlife, in the hopes of hearing some word on Mr. M.

March 21st, 2037

At 10:00 PM Saturday night, Helios, Saito, and Zen are at their usual table at the Forlorn Hope, when the waitress indicates that bartender/owner John “Professor” Freeman is looking to hire them for a job. Zen approaches Professor and gets the details. A fellow South American War vet who goes by the handle Axe Man is a friend of his. He recently turned up nearly dead. Axe Man is a private detective who the day before was found in his office by the building janitor, bound and gagged with a bullet hole in the back of his head. Somebody botched the execution however. Axe Man is alive, although barely and is currently in an intensive care unit. Freeman has no idea what cases if any Axe Man was working on, but he was a friend, and nobody tries to kill Freeman’s friends and gets away with it. Freeman offers to pay each team member $500 up front plus an additional $500 if they find out who is responsible, and another $500 if the team “deals” with the problem.

Zen informs the other two and they decide not to waste anytime and look into the matter immediately. They call Torrent, who is at home working on his computer program, and Riptide, who is at work. They drive back to the apartment to collect their gear and pick up Torrent. They then swing by the Golden Saloon and pick up Riptide who has gotten out of work early using an excuse involving some unknown tragedy that has befallen his mother.

They drive to the address that the Professor gave them for Axe Man’s office. It turns out the PI has his office situated in the heart of the Combat Zone. While there is never a good time to be in the Combat Zone, it’s especially bad to be there late at night. Twice, Helios has to redirect his route to avoid driving through firefights.

Around 11:45, they arrive outside the office building. Helios opts to stay with the truck while the rest go into the building. They find Axe Man’s office, but they also find the door locked. Riptide delights at the opportunity to use his new lock picks. Unfortunately, Axe Man employed a good quality lock, foiling Riptide’s attempts to pick it. Saito decides to show him how it’s done and tries to kick the door in. Apparently the strike plate is reinforced as Saito’s foot bounces off of the door. With his legs still recovering from the wounds he took last month, Saito hobbles down to the truck and gets his shotgun. He returns and uses the weapon to shoot out the hinges of the door.

Once inside, they begin to search for clues. There is little to find, however, as the private investigator’s computer and paper files have been removed. The trip seems futile until Torrent uncovers a hidden fire safe. Just then, Helios radios from the truck that their activities have drawn the attention of a group of local punks.

Torrent grabs the fire safe and all but Saito make their way downstairs. Saito positions himself at a window with his M-16 where he sees seven street punks starting to encircle Helios’ truck. They flash hardware, including a couple that appeared to be wired with smartgun links, and demand that Helios give them the truck. In response, Helios produces his shotgun and demands that they give him their shoes. They then indicate that if they can’t have the truck then nobody can.

Helios fires the first shot as a firefight breaks out. Riptide, Zen, and Torrent arrive at the front door where Riptide tells the group he is going to through a grenade he has left over from the last mission, and then tosses a flash-bang grenade into the street. Zen was not on the last mission and so is completely caught of guard and the bright flash and loud bang stuns her. A couple of the punks are also stunned. One of the punks runs to the alley while two of them circle around and shoot at Riptide who is lightly wounded. The others open fire on Helios who is changing weapons. Riptide throws another grenade as Torrent shoots from the doorway. Helios shoots from the truck as Saito opens fire from the window above.

After having thrown the second grenade Riptide moves out of the doorway toward the truck. Unfortunately, this is what the punk in the alley has been waiting for, and Riptide finds himself being shot at with no cover. Riptide opens fire with his sub-machine guns, and hits the punk several times despite the punk’s hiding around the corner for cover. Torrent drops one punk and Saito and Helios each take down a couple. Fifteen seconds after the shooting started, all of the punks are stunned, unconscious, or dead. Torrent strips the gear off of the leader, as the team piles into the truck and heads back to the apartment.

March 22nd, 2037

At 1:45 AM, the team arrives back at their apartment. Riptide picks the lock on the safe and the contents inside are revealed. There is a set of photographs, an audio chip, a paper printout of some computer code, several data chips, a 3×5 card, and a separate photograph.

The set of photographs show a young professional couple in various locations. There are no identifying notes on the photographs, but it appears that Axe Man had been following them.

The audio chip is a recording of a phone call between an unidentified male and a female who at one point is referred to as Violet. They are discussing the elimination of a man named Laugher, who is the leader of a booster gang called the Spikes. He is to be eliminated this Wednesday the 25th. Riptide has heard of the Spikes. He knows little about them other than that they have a reputation for violence and a rivalry with a group called the Wire Cult.

Torrent examines data chips and finds they contain programming utilities. Their primary purpose seems to be for constructing data fortresses.

Torrent also examines the printout out of computer code. It also appears to be for a data fortress. It seems to be an invisible fortress that can be attached to an existing fortress to leech data from it.

The 3×5 card contains the name Irina Lovodny. It also contains an address located somewhere in the Combat Zone. The card contains no other information.

The single photograph shows a smiling young man in his early 20s. He has a modified cyber deck and interface plugs. He is in an apartment standing in front of the window. Through the window can be seen part of a sign on the building across the street that says “EDITERR”.

With the clues thoroughly examined everyone decides to catch a few hours of sleep. They arise again in the late morning, at which point everyone except Saito goes shopping. He stays behind and goes through the business listings to see if he can find anything associated with the name EDITERR.

In the early afternoon, the rest of the team returns from shopping. Saito continues to look for the name as Torrent begins data mining for the name Violet. The only thing he can find that may be related, is a fixer named Violet who has worked with a number of Booster Gangs and is thought to have worked with the mega-corp DMS. Helios goes into work to work on an old motorcycle he bought from Jimmy Two Teeth and Zen goes apartment hunting. Riptide tries to see if he can learn any more on the Spikes, but has little success.

That evening, everyone except Torrent and Helios takes the bus to The Afterlife to mix with the Solo crowd to see if anyone has heard of Violet. They have so very little to go on and get minimal results. Those who have heard of Violet believe that she is a ghost, meaning she is little more that a name used by others for credibility. Having struck out there, Zen starts making a list of other random bars they could visit to try and learn more about Violet. Saito and Riptide consider making a trip into the Combat Zone to find the Spikes. They realize they have no way to get there without Helios’ truck, and Zen realizes she needs to get to work. At about 11:00 PM, they take the bus back to their apartment.

With Zen heading off to work, Helios, Saito, and Riptide get into Helios’ truck and had into the combat zone. Helios loses the driver side window in a random shooting spree, but no one is hurt as they reach their destination. They locate the Spikes home base, and park across the street. A look out approaches the truck and demands to know what they are up to. Riptide puts on his game face and stands up to the ganger. He insists he has important information for Laugher and needs to speak with him. The Spike tells Riptide that he can come in, but needs to leave his shotgun in the truck with the ladies.

Riptide is escorted into the building, walking through rooms with strung out punks and shelves of stolen merchandise. He is eventually led into a room with a group of about two-dozen gangers. Sitting on a raised dais is Laugher, the leader of the Spikes. Riptide offers an exchange of information. He questions Laugher about the clues they found in Axe man’s office. Laugher has little to say, but does recognize the “EDITERR” sign. In exchange, Riptide plays the recording. Laugher immediately recognizes the male voice and demands that a Spike named Savage be brought to him.

Meanwhile, outside, Helios and Saito are waiting in the truck when they see a worried looking gang-member run across the street and into an alley. Saito’s gut telling him this may be important; he bolts after the fleeing ganger. The ganger is a faster runner that Saito, but is slowed by the darkness of the unlit streets. Saito’s infrared optic in this cyber-eye negates that disadvantage and he is eventually able to catch up to and tackle the punk. They wrestle briefly before Saito is able to subdue him. He radios to Riptide and then drags the punk back to the Spike’s hangout. As suspected, the fleeing ganger was Savage.

Riptide, Saito, and Laugher take Savage into a private room and interrogate him. Savage admits he was contacted by Violet and was offered $5,000 to help set up Laugher. Violet’s reasons are unknown, but Savage was interested in the money and the potential to become the new leader of the Spikes. Violet will contact him on Tuesday with specifics. He has no way to contact her. Laugher wants to kill Savage, but Riptide convinces him to let Savage live and see how this whole thing plays out.

March 23rd, 2037

Laugher orders a Spike named Skeevey to take the three to the location in the photograph. He guides them to a crack house that used to be a hotel. The old neon sign still works, displaying the hotel’s named MEDITERRANEAN. The building across the street where the photo would have been taken appears to have recently burned down. The three begin to question Skeevey about what happened, but he has little information. This location is not in the Spike’s turf, but rather in an area controlled by their rivals, the Wire Cult.

Riptide and Saito go into the Mediterranean to see if anyone is coherent enough to talk to. They meet an amped up young man who calls himself “The Manic Hispanic”. He recognizes the Netrunner in the picture as Dimitri Lovodny. He also states that he saw members of the Wire Cult hanging around the apartment building shortly before it burns down. They pay him 20 bucks and head back home after dropping of Skeevey.

Before they go to bed, they wake up Torrent and have him research Dimitri Lovodny and the Wire Cult. He is able to find an address for Dimitri, the Royale Apartments, the building that was burned down. His research into the Wire Cult turns up that they are a particularly blood thirsty booster gang that is known to have its own members fight each other in deadly pit fights to determine pecking order with in the gang. They are also known for sporting crude cyber-ware such as hammer spikes and implanted chainsaws.

On her way home from work that morning, Zen stops by the Good Night Rooms and Coffins, by the marina and looks at a two-bedroom apartment that is available for rent. It’s about as run down as their current place, but offers more breathing room than the one-bedroom they currently reside in. It is located in a larger complex called The Arcade, which is primarily a meeting place for teens. The apartment building is sandwiched between a youth outreach center and a music and instruments emporium. The second floors of all three buildings combine to form a large teen-club and arcade. She agrees to take the apartment.

When she returns to the apartment to share the news, she finds Riptide and Saito preparing to return to the combat zone. They want to check out the address on the 3×5 card listed next to the name Irina Lovodny. She joins them as they take the bus to Jimmy Two-Teeth’s where they convince Helios to let them borrow his truck, promising that nothing bad would happen to it. Unfortunately for them, somewhere in the combat zone a punk got his hands on an anti-tank mine and thought it would be funny to plant it in the street, the very street the team drives the truck down. They resulting explosion destroyes the front passenger wheel, bends the axle, and shreds several engine components. After calling Helios to pick up the remains of his truck, the team hoofs it the remaining nine blocks to Irina’s house.

They arrive at the address to find a single family home, painted a horrific bright yellow, located in one of the better border areas of the combat zone. Saito heads around back and Zen takes the side of the house by the driveway. Riptide approaches the front and rings the doorbell. Getting no response, he produces his lock picks and easily defeats the key lock. He goes to the back and lets Saito in. They discover that the house has already been ransacked. The only item of interest they find is a photo of a man and a woman, whose similar appearance indicates that they are likely twin brother and sister. The man in the picture is the Netrunner from the other photo, Dimitri Lovodny.

Zen becomes aware of a group of local teenagers who are milling about beginning to close in on her. Some are armed with clubs and knives. Zen sizes them up and greets the one she believes to be the leader. She apparently picks correctly as he speaks for the group, demanding to know why she is there. Riptide and Saito emerge from the house. The kids don’t seem to buy her story that she is investigating a murder out of a sense of justice. Saito, short on patience, grabs the leader by the throat and demand he start talking. The increase in tension is immediately obvious, as some of the kids produce pistols, and heads begin to peek out of neighborhood doors and windows. Admitting that they are working a paid job, Zen convinces the kid that it’s in Irina’s best interest to contact them. The kid takes Zen’s cell number and says he will pass it on to Irina.

Around 6:00 PM, Irina calls. Zen suggests meeting at The Arcade. Irina indicates she would rather meet where an older crowd gathers. They agree to meet at the Western Bar at 7:00 PM.

Riptide, Saito, and Zen go to the Western Bar. It only takes a few moments to spot the kid from the house and a woman they recognize from the photo in the house as being Irina Lovodny. Saito and Zen join them in a booth while Riptide vigilantly keeps watch on the other bar patrons. The kid introduces himself as Miguel. Irina indicates that her brother is an up-and-coming Netrunner who recently scored a big job. It was apparently a big challenge, which he labored at day and night for weeks. A about a week ago, he took her out to dinner to celebrate his completion of the project. Again, he did not offer any details. As a gift, he gave her a photo of them two of them from a previous night out. She has not seen him since. After he went missing a few days, she hired the Axe Man to find her brother. Then she got word that the PI had been murdered. That same day she came home to find her house ransacked. The neighborhood kids, whom she had helped and supported for years, took her into hiding, where she has been since. The team takes the picture, and they part ways.

Back at home, they give the picture to Torrent to check out. He decides the best way to inspect the photo is with an optic scanner. Luckily they have one at Radio Hut. Thanks to months of kissing up to the boss, Torrent is the Assistant Associate Manager there and as a result has a key to the store. He runs over there in the middle of the night and scans the photo. Hidden within the image he finds a number sequence that he immediately recognizes as Net coordinates. He returns home and immediately jacks into the Net. After spending several minutes bouncing his signal all over the globe, he goes to the coordinates. The location is just outside the Infocomp data fortress. At the exact location is a single pixel, which no one would notice unless they knew where to look for it. Moving to touch the pixel his perception shifts and he finds himself looking at a smaller data fortress attached to Infocomp’s. He recognizes it as the leech program that he read the code for.

There are no gates, but knowing the layout in advance gives Torrent a big advantage. He uses his Japanese Water Torture program to penetrate the data wall at a point where file programs hide his icon from the defense programs inside. He inspects the CPU and realizes that the program must be hardwired into a device that is physically attached to InfoComp’s servers. Dimitri’s patron is either an InfoComp employee or has someone on the inside. Torrent checks the files and sees that most of them are filled with data on Arasaka, Militech, Petrochem, and SovOil. This is all valuable data that has been leeched from InfoComp’s servers. Torrent downloads a copy of the Arasaka and Militech data, and then hits the CPU with a Pi in the Face program to tie up the defense programs. He then approaches the LDL and sees it is currently transmitting data. He follows the signal to a wireless account. It is determined that the owner of this account is one Edison Wright.

March 24th, 2037
Most of the team spend the day dealing with their employment obligations. Torrent looks further into Edison Wright and learns that he is indeed an employee of Infocomp. He is also able to locate his home address and personal information. Attempts to access financial information are met with failure.

Helios goes to a Renta-Robo and rents a family cruiser van. After driving it off the premises, Torrent hacks into the Rent-a-Robo system and changes Helios’ ID information. He also finds a way to fool the system into thinking it has received payment, but doing so requires him to hack back into the system each day.

March 25th, 2037

The team travels in the van to the Spike’s home. There they learn that Violet has made contact with Savage and has instructed him to meet her near the marina at midnight, and to bring Laugher with him.

The team goes early to scope out the meeting place. Saito takes position up on a dock crane, as Zen finds a recessed area near the meeting point. The others wait by the van parked near by. Torrent finds a data cable for the facility’s cameras on one of the buildings and splices into it. He then uses his camera controller to tap into the camera feeds.

At midnight, Laugher and Savage arrive on motorcycles and wait. Eventually a pickup truck with a cap on the back rolls up to the meeting point. Riptide begins to circle around behind the warehouses to get to a position near the back of the truck.

Suddenly the pickup’s windshield shatters as a stream of .50 caliber shells rip apart Laugher and Savage. The pickup slams into reverse and backs out of the alley. Saito fires an electro-thermo round into the engine block, but the truck turns out of the alley, and begins to drive forward to leave the location. Just before it disappears out of his line of site, Saito fires again, this time disabling the truck. It rolls past Riptide and then begins to coast to a stop. Zen jumps onto one of the motorcycles and chases after the vehicle, quickly catching up as it is now disabled.

As Riptide closes in on the vehicle he can here the machinegun turret still active, scanning for a target. Over the radio, Saito indicates that when he took his first shot, he could see that the vehicle did not have a driver, and must be remotely controlled. Riptide ducks down to stay under the turret’s arc of fire. He gets close enough to see that the turret is mounted in the bed of the pickup truck, with its twin barrels extending into the cab of the vehicle.

Zen rolls up behind the vehicle, safely outside of the turret’s line of fire. She checks underneath the truck for explosives. Not finding any, she drops the tailgate in the back and is greeted by a claymore that hits her square in the torso. The force of the impact lifts her off the ground, sending her reeling onto the pavement. Riptide rushes to her aid. Although in tremendous pain and gasping to regain her breath, a quick examination reveals that her layers of body armor have absorbed all of the damage.

While Zen takes a moment to lie on the ground and fully come to grips with what just happened, Riptide climbs into the back of the truck. He finds the power feed for the turret and disables it. He also finds the remote link and turns that off as well. Zen, back on her feet, climbs into the cab through the back and disables the claymores mounted at each door.

The team sets about cleaning up the scene, including disposing of the bodies, riding off with the motorcycles, and having Helios get Jimmy Two-Teeth’s wrecker and haul away the pickup.

March 26th, 2037

Saito and Zen meet with Irina at the Western Bar, but can’t remember why they wanted to meet. They do confirm that she has yet to hear from her brother Dimitri.

Torrent finally completes work on his Wild Goose Chase Program and begins to develop a watered down version that he can sell.

March 27th, 2037

The team returns to the Spike’s home to find the Spikes have been slaughtered. They go to the Mediterranean and talk to the Manic Hispanic and learn the Wire Cult attacked the Spikes while they were still leaderless after the loss of Laugher. They also learn that the leader of the Wire Cult is a guy named Crusher, and they learn where he is holed up. Zen checks out the Wire Cult’s neighborhood.

March 28th, 2037

Torrent is able to learn that Edison Wright takes the train every workday from his home in Pacifica. Saito determines that this is likely the best place to grab him. He takes a trip on the train as it makes its circuit through the various gated communities south of Night City where many hotshot corps make their home. He checks out the train, including its security system and guard patrols. The team decides to extract him on Monday. Saito would prefer to do a dry run first, but the team decides to go ahead anyways.

March 30th, 2037

The plan goes smoothly. Helios and Torrent wait in the van at a predetermined rendezvous point. Riptide, Zen, and Saito board the train in the corporate tower station where Edison also gets on to head home. The train rumbles through the subterranean tunnels underneath Night City until it eventually emerges above ground outside the city limits as it heads south. The three put on masks. Riptide and Saito spray paint cameras as Zen watches for the patrolling guards. Saito grabs Edison as Torrent remotely accesses the train’s emergency controls and triggers the emergency breaks as it passes the rendezvous point. They exit the train with Edison as Riptide throws in a flash bang grenade. They pile into the van and take off.

They take Edison to Irina’s house and tie him up in the basement. Conducting an interrogation, they learn that Edison was indeed stealing information from his employer to sell on the side. He worked with a solo named Justin Severik. Severik is the one who contracted Dimitri Lovodny to create the Leech program. After the leech had been installed on Infocomp’s server, Edison had told Severik to tie up any loose ends, which included Dimitri.

He did not know for sure what Severik did with Dimitri, but he does know it was Severik who shot the Axe man when he began snooping around looking for Dimitri. Having learned everything useful from Edison, the team decides to leave him in the hands of Miguel, who is looking to exact some revenge on Irina’s behalf.

Torrent begins to data mine the Net for Justin Severik. They learn he is a solo who usually works with a six-man edge runner team. He is known to hang out at the After Life. Riptide, Saito, and Helios visit the After Life that evening and find Justin Severik. He appears to be in his late 30’s. He is wearing an expensive suit and appears to be clean cut and polished. They do not approach but observe his actions. He remains alone at a table, drinking scotch, occasionally chatting with other solos that approach him. Eventually he leaves with six other men who were also at the club, but never together. They get into a black van and drive off.

March 31st, 2037

Zen gets a phone call from the Professor asking that they meet. She stops at the Forlorn Hope in the early morning. There the Professor explains he has a friend of the family who needs some work, so he would like Zen and her team to take him on for the remainder of this job. His name is Victor, though he goes by “Jarvic.” Jarvic currently works as a paramedic for REO Meatwagon.

Zen agrees and heads for home. At 7:00 PM she returns along with Saito and Helios. They find Jarvic being talked up by Krissy, who seems to be under the impression that Jarvic is a doctor. When she realizes her mistake, she excuses herself, at which point the team introduce themselves.

After giving a brief synopsis of the mission to Jarvic, they head to the Radio Hut where Torrent is working. They meet in the manager’s office/break room/conference room, and begin to plan Severik’s demise. They decide to have Saito position himself on the roof of the Central Hotel located across the street of the After Life. They would wait for Severik to emerge from the front entrance and Saito would take him out.

Zen and Jarvic go to the After Life to take a look around. Jarvic tells the bartender that he is looking to hire Severik, to which the bartender indicates that Severik is usually in on Mondays and Wednesdays. They decide to perform the hit the following evening. Zen drops Jarvic off at his home in the New Harbor Mallplex, and heads home herself.

April 1st, 2037

Helios drives Torrent and Saito to the back of the hotel. Helios picks the lock on the service door to let Saito in. Torrent hacks the Central Hotel’s data fortress and gains control of the elevators allowing Saito to get to the roof. Zen and Riptide hang out in the bar while Jarvic stakes out the street in front of the bar. Unfortunately, Severik ends up being a no-show.

April 2nd, 2037

Helios and Saito return to the After Life the next evening. They are not there long when they spot Justin Severik talking to a corporate type. When the corp leaves, they follow him and end up tailing him back to the Mallplex where the man apparently lives in Residential Tower Alpha. They are unable to follow him into the tower, but are able to observe that he exits the tower elevator on the 15th floor.

Torrent hacks into the Mallplex’s security system and is able to locate their man. He lives in Apartment 15c. The apartment itself is owned by Infocomp, as are all of the apartments on that level. They get a good picture of him and quickly find his name, Bob Morton.

April 3rd, 2037

Early in the morning, Zen gets a call from Miguel. He says it’s urgent that they meet. Zen agrees to meet at the Western Bar. Zen, Helios, Saito, and Jarvic head down to the Western Bar to meet him. When they arrive, they find Miguel sitting in the corner. He is badly beaten and bruised. Miguel admits that he did not kill Edison Wright, but instead ratted him out to Infocomp for an undisclosed sum. In all likelihood, Wright met the same fate anyways at the hands of the employer he betrayed. However, yesterday Miguel got a visit from a man demanding to know everything that Miguel knew about Edison Wright. Apparently, someone at Infocomp tipped him off about Miguel.

Miguel was severally beaten until he finally broke and gave the man the names and descriptions of the team members. Miguel’s description of his interrogator is easily recognized as Justin Severik. The team is less than pleased with Miguel. He begs forgiveness, but gets no sympathy from the edgerunners.

Helios takes a step outside and looks up and down the block. Parked up the street is the black van they had seen picking up Severik on Monday night. Suspecting an ambush, the team prepares to make a hasty exit. Saito moves to the back entrance while Helios moves to the front. Zen quickly hops onto her motorcycle and tries to draw off the van. Jarvic decides this would be a good time to hit the bathroom.

As Zen drives by the van, the side door slides open, and a solo holding a man-portable Towa Type 8 machine gun opens up on Zen. The hail of bullets shreds the back of her armor, wounds her, and disables the motorcycle. Zen is barley able to scramble to the cover of a building as a second volley from the machinegun is fired in her direction.

Helios spots a man coming up to the front of the bar. But instead of going to the door, the man produces a Militech Bulldog auto-shotgun from his trench coat and fires it through the bar’s storefront windows. The solid slugs easily rip through glass and wall alike. Saito is just about to exit out the back when he hears the hammering sound of the Bulldog, and returns to the bar. The bathroom door swings open as Jarvic crawls out of the bathroom.

The driver side door of the van opens and Justin Severik emerges. He and the machine gun carrying solo being exchanging fire with Zen. In the bar, Helios, Saito, and Jarvic trade fire with the solo with the auto-shotgun. The solo lays down some suppressive fire with the gun, which tears the place apart.

Having used up a magazine, Zen ducks around the corner to reload. As she gets ready to return fire, Severik is upon her. Implanted ripper claws extend from his hand as he launches an attack. The two trade rapid strikes and parries until Zen is able to land a hit with her gang-jazzler. Severik crumples unconscious to the ground. Zen is about the deliver the killing blow when she is again under fire from the machine gun.

While the firefight continues in the bar, Jarvic notices another solo armed with an assault rifle come in through the back. The solo spots Miguel cowering in the corner and guns him down. Knowing he has been outflanked, Jarvic charges the solo and attempts to grapple him. Jarvic is able to get a hold of him, but attempts to dislodge the rifle from the solo’s grip are unsuccessful.

Seeing what was happening behind him, Saito leaves Helios to hold off the shotgun guy, while he helps Jarvic. Working together, Saito and Jarvic are able to bring the solo down. Saito takes the assault rifle and returns to help Helios. Ultimately, Helios and Saito are able to bring down the solo, but both are injured, Saito quite badly.

Down the block, a stand off has occurred. Zen crouches with her gun to the head of the unconscious Severik as the other solo aims his machine gun at her. She demands that he put down his weapon. Surprisingly, he complies. She raises her gun to shoot him, but he quickly draws a pistol he had and gets off the first shot. Both miss, and Zen charges the man. He fires a second shot that hits Zen, but she is able to reach him and bring him down with the gang-jazzler.

Hearing sirens, Helios, Saito, and Jarvic head down the street toward the van. They find Zen pulling an unconscious Severik to the van, leaving a nasty blood trail. Unfortunately, the blood is not his, but Zen’s. Helios gets behind the wheel of the van and Jarvic tells him to drive to REO Meatwagon. While en route, Jarvic does his best to stabilize Zen and Saito.

They arrive at REO Meatwagon where Jarvic gets Zen and Saito inside. Helios remains in the van with the unconscious Severik. Deciding it was time to earn their paycheck, he waits until a passing ambulance siren creates sound cover, then he pulls out his gun and puts an end to Justin Severik.

April 4th, 2037

Riptide is disappointed that he missed out on all the action. He is left to wring as much cash out of this deal as possible. Over all, there is a lot to be happy about: another successful job under their belt, another paycheck earned, and the Axe Man has been avenged. After selling the rental van and scrapping Severik’s body for parts, they even make enough money to cover Zen and Saito’s medical expenses.

But there are still some loose ends that annoyingly remain unresolved. Who is Violet? Why was she getting involved in a turf war between the Spikes and the Wire Cult? Evidence linked her to DMS. Were they involved and why?

Finally, there is still the matter of the mysterious Mr. M. He is out there somewhere, hunting the team. Who would find whom first?

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Episode 6 Children of the Dawn

The team only gets two weeks of rest after their trip to El Paso when a new opportunity comes their way.

February 7, 2037

Not having been involved in the last mission, Torrent has had plenty of time to develop his new anti-trace program that he calls “Wild Goose Chase.” After finishing the code, he runs it through some basic trials, and it promptly crashes. He begins the long debugging process, and begins to wonder if he was a bit too ambitious with this project.

Meanwhile, Riptide is manning his booth at the Golden Saloon when he is approached by a fixer known as Hand. Hand indicates that he is working for some beavers, (local slang for corporate wage slaves), and is looking to hire an edge runner team to rescue some children from a cult. He asks the group to meet him in a restaurant at the New Harbor Mallplex on Monday at noon. He also indicates that his clients are not going to want to hire a bunch of scrubs, so they may want to show up looking like they are reasonable successful at their jobs.

February 8, 2037

Several of the team members go shopping to pick up some “interview clothes” to wear to the meeting, rather than their usual thrift and discount duds. While Zen hates the idea of turning down a paying gig, she has not had nearly enough time to recover from her wound sustained on the last mission and reluctantly opts to sit this one out.

February 9, 2037

The team goes to the mallplex, which is their first visit. They are amazed by the massive complex that not only contains three sprawling floors of stores and restaurants, but also has multiple residential towers, a medical facility and a school. A person could literally live at this mall without ever having to leave.

They meet Hand at McDonalds where he introduces them to Dillon and Mary Frost, and Max and Alice Rebo. Both couples spent some time as members of the Cult of the New Dawn. They had decided to leave the cult a few months ago and made arrangements to relocate from the cult camp in Colorado to Night City. But when they returned to pick up their children, they were told by the cult that their children did not wish to leave and were not allowed to see them.

The team is being hired to retrieve four children: Maryl and Darla Frost, aged 13 and 15 respectively, and the Rebo’s twin sons Donny and Alto, age 11. The families will pay the group $2,000 per child returned, for a potential total payout of $8,000. Just as the individual team members begin having thoughts of getting paid to blow away a bunch of crazy cultists, Hand drops a proverbial bomb. While the two couples are having this dispute with their former fellow cult members, they still empathize with the cult and wish not to see anyone harmed. To that end, they are willing to double the payout if no cult members are killed or seriously injured during the operation. The team agrees. Each team member receives $1,000 in advance payment to help cover any expenses.

While a non-lethal approach was not what they had in mind, not to mention well outside of their usual modus operandi, a potential payout of $16,000 is enough to convince the team to try a non-lethal approach. However, they are not equipped to perform this type of operation. Luckily, they’re at the mall. A trip to The Ammo Dump results in the purchase of a couple of shotguns, beanbag shells, sleep-gas shells, and some flash-bang grenades. While most of the team shops for guns, Torrent finds a computer shop and purchases a cellular-link module for his cyberdeck.

February 10th 2037

This day is spent making arrangements for the trip. Helios and Saito install folding stocks on the shotguns they purchased, and Torrent wires up the Cellular-link to his cybermodem, and activates a data-plan for it. Each team member seeks permission to get out of work for the rest of the week. Everyone is successful at this endeavor except Saito. Despite his boss’ refusal to give him time off, Saito leaves anyways.

Torrent also does some online research on the Cult of the New Dawn. They are a modern Taoist offshoot that believes that in order for humanity to reach its potential as a harmonic society, all governments and corporations must be eliminated. They are generally considered non-aggressive, but have been known to associate with other groups that have similar goals but engage in more violent tactics.

A brief discussion takes place on how to get to Colorado. Ultimately, it is decided that a road trip is in order using Helios’ pickup truck. Although it is the slowest route, it allows them the greatest freedom of movement.

February 11th, 2037

Wednesday morning, the team piles into the truck and hits the road. It’s an eighteen and a half hour trip to Radium, Colorado where the cult camp is located. While on the road, Torrent tries out his cellular modem and is able to jack into the Net. He is unable to find any Net presence of the cult in Colorado but is able to find a For Sale listing on the property. A check of utility records indicates a major drop in energy usage a few weeks ago. All signs point to the cult having packed up and moved away.

When they reach Radium, Helios and Saito decide to recon the camp on foot. Moving through the Colorado Mountains in February proves to be a chilling experience. They reach the camp to find it occupied by a group of nomads. Helios recognizes the group as members of the Mountaineer Nomads, a clan he has some history with. The nomads indicate they only know that the camp was abandoned a few weeks ago, and the former occupants traveled in a northerly direction. They invite the team to join them for the evening. One of the nomads suggests checking with the realtor who is listing the property to find out where the cult went.

Helios and Saito return to the truck and share the information, including the idea to check with the realtor selling the property. This results in a frustrated sigh from Riptide who had been suggesting that coarse of action all evening, but nobody listened. The team as a whole returned to the camp where Riptide realized he also knew some of the Mountaineers, whom he had run into during his days in Las Vegas. Most of the team beds down in one the cold bunkhouses. Saito hangs out with the nomads, getting hammered on homemade liquor in front of the fire. Torrent manages to eek out a cellular signal this far from civilization and runs the Net. He is able to find the realtor’s data fortress and cracks it with ease. He finds an address for Hank Johnson, the man who apparently owns the camp property. He is currently listed at an address in Warren, Idaho.

February 12th, 2037

In the morning, everyone piles into the truck to head to Idaho. They expect Saito to be pretty hung over, but he is up before the rest of the group, showing no signs of the previous evening’s drinking.

Another long day rolls by as the team spends seventeen hours on the road. They reach Boise, Idaho around 11:30 PM. A brief discussion is made about possibly spending the night in Boise, but they quickly decide to push through to Warren.

February 13th, 2037

At 2:30 AM, the team rolls into Warren, Idaho. They learn that the address they have is a couple of miles outside of town. They get a couple of rooms at a local motel, and set up their base of operations there.

Most of this day is spent doing recon on the facility and research. They discover the new cult site to be a former concentration camp from the 2010’s when Idaho was run by a bunch of Neo-Nazis for a few years. Saito observes the comings and goings of individuals for several hours and determines that the men and women of the cult bunk in opposite ends of the camp. Since they are extracting two boys and two girls, this fact complicates matters slightly. Saito also observes guard towers every 1,000 feet along the perimeter with armed guards carrying sub-machine guns.

Riptide interacts with the locals and learns that the cult sends a contingent into town every Tuesday for supplies. He also learns that the local sentiment towards the cult if fairly indifferent. They are a little wary of the cult, but the fact is the cult hasn’t caused any trouble, and they buy supplies from the local merchants, which helps the local economy.

Torrent hacks the cult’s computer system, and downloads some files but is unable to find information on their targets. The cult’s computer contains no black ICE, but a lot of tracer programs and an LDL (long distance link) hidden behind multiple code gates. All he can figure out is that the LDL leads to a computer system located somewhere in Alberta, Canada.

February 14th, 2037

The team decides to strike this evening around midnight. Riptide suggests that if this was a concentration camp at one time, maybe there is some record of escapees. If so, whatever method they used to get out may possibly also be used out get in. Torrent does a media search and finds an extensive article written on that very subject. He also tracks down the author’s home phone in Boise. Saito places the call and speaks with the author who shares that some people escaped the camp by cutting the fence wire directly beneath one of the guard towers, where it is difficult to observe the fence.

Torrent decides to crack the cult computer again. He is concerned about the high level of tracer programs, and since his Wild Goose Chase is not operational yet, he is fairy vulnerable to a trace. He decides to use an old hacker trick of running his signal through a very convoluted route. He runs the Net, jumping LDLs through Salt Lake City, Mexico City, Paris, Minsk, Tokyo, Melbourne, Delhi, and back to Salt Lake City. Tracer programs would have a hell of a time following that. He easily cracks the cult’s data fortress. Letting curiosity get the best of him, he enters the doubled gated section of the fortress and jumps the LDL hidden inside. He suddenly finds himself in a virtual reality construct of a marble pillared temple. Sitting on one end of the hall is a man with an enlarged head with multiple cables descending from the ceiling and plugging into his head. The man introduces himself as Dr. Kilacho, the founder of the Cult of the New Dawn. Torrent discusses the nature of the cult with the Doctor, who seems remarkably patient with a Netrunner who has just hacked his system. Dr. Kilacho sticks by his claim that his followers are a peaceful group, but indicates that he has no intention of helping anyone steal away members of his cult.

Torrent jumps back through the LDL and exits the system. Jacking out, he ponders what it was that he just encountered. Was Dr. Kilacho simply part of the VR construct, a systems operator tied directly into the host computer, or perhaps some form of AI? Although curious, Torrent decides it is best to leave it alone for now.

The team decides to enter the compound under the guard tower closest to the women’s section of the camp. There they will get the girls first, move to the men’s section on the other side of the camp and procure the twin boys. They will then make for the perimeter where Torrent will be waiting with the truck. However, they realize that without knowing which bunkhouses their targets sleep in, the mission would be extremely difficult.

Despite his concerns about heightened security, Torrent decides to make a run on the cult’s computer one more time. Again, he first constructs a web of signal bounces to complicate traces; he cracks the fortress and begins sorting through files. He eventually comes across member information that, among other things, indicates which bunkhouses their targets sleep in. With that key piece of information, the team decides to move forward with the extraction that evening.

Torrent drives the truck to the north side of the compound at the rendezvous site. Saito, Helios, and Riptide move to the southeast corner of the compound and stealthily move to under one of the guard towers. Helios takes his mono-sword and begins slicing through the chain link fence. While they are hidden from sight, the noise of the popping chain links draws the attention of the guards in the tower above. As one begins to descend the tower to investigate, Saito and Helios push their way through the fence and move to ambush the guard. Riptide stays outside the fence and hides in the foliage. As the guard moves under the tower to look around, Saito sneaks up behind him and chokes him out. He then runs up the stairs and disables the guard still in the tower in a similar fashion.

After securing the guards, they move to the women’s bunkhouses and locate the one that houses the Frost sisters. Helios picks the lock and they move into the pitch-black room using their cybernetic enhanced vision to see. The find the girls and snatch them up, hands held tightly over mouths as they are pulled out of the bunkhouse and into the woods. Once in the cover of the trees, the team explains that they were sent by the girls’ parents to bring them home. Initially, the girls are reluctant and express a desire to stay with the cult. However, Riptide launches into a surprisingly impassioned speech that is so moving, even Helios and Saito begin to miss their parents.

With the girls now swayed, Riptide escorts them outside the perimeter and begins to lead them around the compound toward the rendezvous point. Saito and Helios stay inside the compound, using the large clusters of trees as cover as they make their way across the vast campground.

The girls ask Riptide how he was able to avoid the cameras in the bunk area. He promptly radios this bit of information to Helios and Saito, just as they realize that have a group of guards moving toward them in the woods. They split up and move to flank the guards. Having created enough space between them, then hunker down and allow the guards to move past them. Once the guards have most passed them, they continue on their way towards the men’s bunkhouses.

As Riptide passes the northeast tower, he notices that the guards are watching the men’s bunkhouses lying in wait. Realizing that they have been detected, Helios and Saito switch to a more aggressive approach. Saito begins to run toward the northeast guard tower as two spotlights suddenly flash onto him. Helios kicks in the door to the Rebo twin’s bunkhouse and opens fire with his shotgun. There is panic in the bunkhouse, but Helios’ shotgun is loaded with sleep gas shells. He slings the shotgun and scoops up the two boys.

The guards open fire on Saito. He is hit in the leg but continues to press forward. With all the attention on Saito, Helios is able to move toward the north fence unnoticed. Riptide is able to draw the attention of the north tower, which turns its spot light and guns on him.

As Torrent watches the situation, he sees Saito taking fire from the northeast tower, and Helios moving toward the fence, still about 100 feet from the perimeter. He then looks up to see one of the guards in the north tower roll black his sleeve revealing a bionic arm. The arm shifts slightly as a concealed grenade launcher pops up. Hitting the gas on the truck, Torrent bounces through the shrubs and tall grass, lobbing a flash-bang grenade over the fence to distract the guards.

Saito is struck a second time in the arm, but tunes out the pain as he reaches the tower steps and begins to climb up. The guards in the north tower are distracted momentarily by Torrent’s grenade. This gives Riptide enough time to draw his two Beretta 2010s, and fire them full-auto at the searchlight, causing it to shatter in a shower of sparks. He sends the girls on ahead to meet up with the truck.

Saito arms a flash-bang grenade and lobs it into the northeast guard tower. As soon as it goes off he enters the tower where the two guards are stunned. A boot to the chest sends one guard flying over the rail to the ground below. He immediately grabs hold of the other guard and incapacitates him as well.

Torrent pulls up to the fence where Helios is cutting through with his mono-sword. Riptide begins laying down suppression fire on the north tower, first with one Berretta, then the other. He burns through his ammo quickly, but it gives Torrent and Helios enough time to load the children into the truck. Saito hopes his bleeding leg still has some strength left in it and leaps out of the tower to the ground below, outside the perimeter. Both he and Riptide are able to make it to the truck and pile into the back. With Helios once more at the wheel, they drive back to the road and quickly put some distance between them and the compound.

February 15th, 2037

They drive on through the night and all of the next day, returning to Night City, California around 8:45 PM. Using a public phone, they call Hand in advance, and make arrangements to drop off the children. Once they reach downtown they head straight for the Mallplex where the exchange is made: Four children for the remainder of a $16,000 payout. Not bad for a week’s work.

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Episode 5 A Hard Road to Go

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

January 21, 2037

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

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

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

January 22, 2037

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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