Cyberpunk 2036

Episode 34 - Cabin Fever

February 6th – February 17th, 2040

The team isn’t dirtside for very long when Riptide gets an offer he can’t refuse. The owner of the Golden Saloon says he’s ready to call it a day and offers to sell the business to Riptide. The team pools their money and buys the business for $50,000.

Helios finds out that he finally has a lead on selling the helicopter. He heads out of town to make the deal.

February 18th, 2040

Riptide is approached by a fixer named Shark who offers him a quick job. The pay isn’t great, but it should only take a couple of hours, and compared to their last couple of jobs, it should be a walk in the park.

There will be a Petrochem ship parked out in the harbor later tonight, and his employer wants a sample of whatever is in the cargo hold.

Riptide gets the team together. With Helios out of town, and Ripper still in orbit, he brings in Jarvic, who has also invested in the Golden Saloon.

They meet with Shark at 1:00 PM and get all of the details. The ship will be in the harbor at midnight. Shark has an associate named Ariel who has a small boat. She will transport them to the boat, and then back to shore. Their job is to get a crate from the hold onto the boat.

The ship is called Arabia’s Wish and lists a crew of about 15 – 20. There are usually four guards topside and five men on duty on the bridge. Although the ship will be parked out in the harbor rather than in dock, it will be close enough to the shore to be seen from the harbor. Lucky for the team, the weatherman is predicting fog.

Shark emphasizes that this is to be a stealth mission. If this turns into a shootout that ends up on the news, they can forget getting paid. Shark is savvy enough to know that things rarely are as simple as they seem. He lets them know that if they get into the cargo hold and find it either empty or containing cargo far too dangerous to transport, then they need to bring him evidence of the fact and he will make sure they still get paid.

They spend the rest of the afternoon meeting contacts and visiting stores to purchase some extra gear that they may need. As the clock closes in on midnight, they head down to the harbor.

February 19th, 2040

At the harbor, they meet with Ariel, and get in her boat. Her boat is not the fastest thing on the water, but it has a low profile and the engine is surprisingly quiet, perfect for moving about the harbor without drawing attention.

They silently pull up alongside the ship where a ladder is mounted to the hull. Zen begins to climb. When she is halfway up, Saito begins to climb.

He only gets a few rungs up, when the ship explodes. He and Zen are thrown into the water. They others dodge flying, flaming debris. Zen is floating unconscious in the water, bleeding out from several shrapnel wounds. Everyone else has cuts and bruises, but are for the most part okay.

They see a gaping hole in the ship, with its cargo spilling out. The cargo is a mountain of cylinders, most of them punctured or ripped open. The content of the cylinders spills out into the harbor and immediately turns to gas. Not having any idea what type of gas it is, they pull Zen and Saito into the boat as quickly as possible, and make for shore.

As they make their way towards the harbor they can see the pale gas expanding outward and mixing with the fog. To make matters worse, the exit out of the harbor is filled with emergency vehicles approaching to investigate what has happened.

Ariel changes course and heads towards a small light on the harbor. As they got close, they see it was a bar called Paradise Lost She recommends they hide out in there until the heat dies down.

They exit the boat and run into the bar. Inside there are three bar employees, several patrons, and Shark. The patrons had heard the explosion, and since half of the team was now soaking wet, they put two and two together.

Shark demands to know what happened. Jarvic tells everyone that they need to leave the bar and run for safety. But when he opens the door, he sees the gas cloud rolling up over the harbor.

Changing plans, they begin to seal up every door and window as best they can. Jarvic looks at some brief video he managed to take of the ship damage. He realizes that what he is watching is hydrogen fluoride escaping and turning into hydrofluoric acid.

Greg, a United Express courier demands they let him go. He intends to hold his breath and make a break for it. Jarvic explains that the acid is so corrosive, even if he makes it, Greg will likely be blind and covered with chemical burns. To support his point, outside they could hear the strangled cries of the emergency response crew that drove right into the cloud of death.

Jarvic then instructs Mack the bartender to turn up the heat, and shut off anything that pulls in outside air. He asks if Mack has any charcoal, which he does not. He does have an old fish tank in the back with a charcoal filter. Jarvic sets about building a crude air scrubber. Just to make things more complicated, the acid cloud is starting to etch the window glass. Javic figures they have several hours before they have to worry about the windows failing.

Zen decides to use her own air supply. She pulls out her emergency bubble, which she had bought for her trip in orbit, and activates it. It inflates into an oversized grey beach ball. She climbs in and begins to make use of its two-hour air supply.

The bar is now sealed up. Neither Greg nor a jacked up solo known as Razorhead seem to be dealing with it well. Greg is a minor threat, but Razorhead looks like a human semi-truck with two big 14mm pistols strapped to his hip. The rising temperature isn’t helping either.

Several people begin to try and make phone calls to let emergency services know they are trapped in the building. Both land lines and cell phones only get a message stating that everyone should remain indoors, keep calm, and that everything is under control.

Riptide strikes up a conversation with the bouncer, a surprisingly calm man named Eddie. When asked why he is so calm, Eddie simply states that no good ever comes from panicking. Riptide asks him who are regulars and who is new.

Eddie says that Shark, Greg, and the drunk at the bar named Bob, are all regulars. The jacked up solo and the corp are not. Since the corp doesn’t look like the kind of guy who would hang out in a place like this, Riptide and Saito decide to ask him a few questions.

He says his name is Simon, and that he is in sales with a company called Hewlitt Fuels. He is here to drown his sorrows as his wife has thrown him out of the house.

Around 12:30 AM, there is a Network 54 newsbreak stating that the Petrochem cargo ship was attacked by a terrorist group and that the terrorists used an unknown chemical to mix with the otherwise harmless chemical on the ship to create hydrofluoric acid.

They then cut to a reporter in an AV circling the gas cloud. He explains that the gas cloud now covers much of the marina district. They try to get in for a closer look when the pilot begins to complain that the windows are clouding up on him and he cannot clear them. The news feed cuts away and a few moments later, the denizens of Paradise Lost hear a crash in the distance.

Razorhead has heard enough and starts to get antsy. He starts arguments with just about anyone who comes near him. Jarvic gives him a beer that he has dosed with enough sedative to put a horse sleep. Even so, it still takes almost a half hour before the big solo finally passes out. Saito removes the firing pins from the 14mm pistols, just in case.

A short time later, they hear the sound from outside of cybernetic legs slowly limping towards the door. Someone begins banging on the door and begging for help, his voice raspy and wet. Greg tries to go to the door to let him in, but Saito tackles him first.

When the man outside begins banging on the glass, Jarvic uses his pulse rifle to send an electromagnetic pulse through the wall and disable the man’s legs. Both Greg and the waitress demand to know why he would do that. Jarvic explains that the man was already dead, and if he broke the window, they would be too. Jarvic gives Greg the last of the sedative that he has on him.

At 1:00 AM, another Network 54 report begins. The same anchor as before rehashes the details of the incident, but this time adding that the gas cloud has covered several neighborhoods in Night City. She also explains that the recorded message that people get when calling in the affected zone is due to a system overload from so many calls. She discusses the many unpleasant effects of exposure to hydrofluoric acid and then cuts over to a reporter on the scene.

Jack Sterling, the reporter on scene is with a Petrochem Emergency Response team. He explains how they have been going door to door, trying to get people to safety. Their efforts have been hampered however, by an angry public that seems to be on the verge of rioting.

When asked how the toxin is to be neutralized, Jack explains that the teams will be deploying a spray foam of calcium glucomate, which will neutralize the acid. The crews will spiral in towards the ship, spraying as they go. Jack begins to express his concern that Petrochem does not have nearly enough foam to cover the four square miles of affected area, when his audio/video feed is mysteriously lost.

The team is discussing what is going on when Mack mentions something he thought odd. Back when they first heard the explosion, everyone went to the window to see what happened. Everyone except Simon who was quick to get on his phone. Mack doesn’t know what was said, but that Simon was talking to a woman named Elizabeth, and the conversation got a bit heated.

They ask Simon about it. He claims that it is his wife that he called to let her know he was okay. She did not seem to care too much, which is why he got upset.

The next hour crawls by uneventfully. Razorhead and Greg are still sedated. So is Bob the drunk, but by more traditional means. The heat is stifling and Shark keeps checking the glass, worrying that the acid is about to eat its way through.

With her oxygen supply exhausted, Zen comes out of her cocoon. She is immediately hit with the hot, stale air and the smell of sweat and anxiety.

At 2:00 AM, Network 54 has another news break, this time featuring an interview with Petrochem’s Night City Public Relations chief, one Elizabeth Schell. In the interview, Elizabeth sticks with the story that terrorists attacked the ship and used a chemical agent to react with the contents of the ship. When the anchor states that hydrofluoric acid cannot be produced that way, Elizabeth expertly dodges the question.

She then states that the terrorists had help on the inside. She says that the company was betrayed by Simon Carmichael, who coordinated with the terrorists. She assures the anchor and the public that they have the terrorists trapped on the harbor, and that they know exactly where they are.

When the broadcast ends, everyone turns and looks at Simon. He tries to play coy, but his fear and anger are evident. He easily breaks and states that he is a Petrochem employee. He was here at Paradise Lost to meet with the ship’s captain at 12:30 to discuss what to do with the cargo of hydrogen chloride, which was illegally parked in the harbor.

He has no idea who blew up the ship or why. All he knows is that he has been cut loose and left to be the scapegoat in this disaster.

At about 2:20 AM they pick up some traffic on the radio. It is full of static and drops out occasionally, but someone is giving the Petrochem recovery team an order to clear the harbor of any civilians, and by clear, they mean exterminate.

The team prepares to make a last stand defense. They consider busting through the wall to the neighboring building, but they don’t know what the air quality will be. Eddie the bouncer readies his pistol, while Mack goes into the storage room and dusts of an assault shotgun.

At 2:36 AM, an AV can be heard landing outside. Suddenly a bright pale blue light snaps on, like something out of an alien abduction scene. The light is so bright, it can easily be seen through the etched glass. A voice is then heard through a loud speaker, stating they are there to rescue those trapped in the bar.

The team is not buying it, and prepares for a fight. Someone outside tries the door, but it was fused earlier by the team. The voice then says that they are going to breach the door, and for those inside who are armed, not to open fire.

Shark realizes that he recognizes the voice. It’s the man who hired him over the phone.

With a bang, the door flies open, though strangely, the toxic fumes do not seem to come in. A man in a grey jumpsuit and an assault rifle leans in the doorway and asks for Simon Carmichael.

Initially no one answers, but then Simon goes to step forward. The team tells him to go hide, but he figures he is dead anyway. He identifies himself as Simon. The team waits for him to be gunned down, but instead the man urges him to come with him. Simon asks who he is, and the man says “your new employer”. Simon asks that they take everyone else as well. The man agrees but again insists that everyone hurries. They are using some sort of light to neutralize the acid, effectively creating a tunnel in the toxic cloud.

Just then, shots are heard. They hear the men in the gray jumpsuits calling out that they are under fire. They manage to get Simon into the AV.

Zen runs out next. She sees Petrochem security men in chem-suits shooting at them. One of the rescuers is gunned down beside her and she is hit as well. Already wounded from the explosion, she collapses. Jarvic is able to drag her back into the bar.

They hear a mighty roar in the back as Razorhead is again conscious. For a man who has spent the last couple of hours unconscious, he quickly assess the situation and takes action. Happy to finally have someone to take his aggression out on, he draws his big 14mm pistols and charges out the front door, blazing away at the Petrochem team ……or, at least he would be blazing away if Saito hadn’t removed his firing pins earlier. Instead the guns do nothing, and Razorhead catches about a dozen bullets and goes down.

Jarvic stabilizes Zen. Saito and Riptide begin firing from the door of the bar at the Petrochem men. Any hits to the chem-suits expose their wearers to the hydrofluoric acid, causing Petrochem’s casualties to rack up quick.

The Petrochem men are forced to back off until reinforcements arrive. The team gets the bar patrons out the door and into the AV. Unfortunately, Bob the drunk is too inebriated to grasp the nature of the situation and as soon as he is out the door runs towards the harbor. The moment he steps out of the light tunnel, he chokes on the acid cloud and collapses.

They manage to get everyone into the AV. Even Razorhead is able to crawl over and climb in despite all of the lead he just absorbed.

The AV flies them over the city and drops everyone off at the west side harbor. Everyone except Simon, who they take with them.

They are still not entirely sure what the hell just happened over the last couple of hours, but any night were you get blown up, gassed, and shot at, and still walk away, is a pretty good night.