Shadowrun: Apocalypse

Bug City
"You are all very brave." --Buttercup

September 1st, 2055
Fallout from the Maria Mercurial run encourages the team to spend several weeks lying low. Suzu and Ransom meet with Buttercup to pass on their information regarding Aztechnology’s blood magic, which the free spirit digests with visible concern and even alarm. She explains that such magic leads to numerous problems, such as a pollution of the “manasphere” that can lead to magical dead zones. Buttercup leaves with the data, saying that she will pursue the matter with other allies and that she will return the favor.

A couple of months pass with the members of the team taking on smaller jobs on an individual basis, mostly taking advantage of the surge of business from the Seattle mob war. At the end of August, the group is contacted by both Heidi and Mike, each with different jobs. After some cajoling and surprisingly successful manipulation, the team gets Heidi to explain that her job involves a Johnson from Saeder-Krupp, who wishes the team to sneak into the United Oil lab complex in Auburn—presumably to verify reports that the company has the body of a dead dragon. The team does not commit to the job, but Hawthorne expresses extreme reticence toward it.

Mike, however, offers up a job that the team ultimately takes: babysitting a camera crew from independent news media station KSAF in Chicago. Ransom surprises the team, the Johnson and even Mike in her negotiations with the Johnson. Ultimately, the team is flown (along with Nef’s van) to Chicago, where they wait with a camera crew that watches a particular power relay station on Cermak avenue.

Hunch and Midi scout out the area and ultimately run across a pair of Universal Brotherhood preachers and a mutated bug man who attack them in private. Though the runners handily defeat their opponents, this proves a dire omen. Overnight, Chicago explodes into chaos as more “bug people” and even giant bugs erupt from many corners within the city. Shortly before dawn, the team and their camera crew witness a raid by well-equipped commandos on the power station that ends with a surprisingly small but entirely frightening nuclear blast, destroying the station.

Evacuating the building immediately thereafter, Nef earns every bit of her money for the run as she drives the crew through a city undergoing a bug spirit-fueled apocalypse. As the National Guard and other authorities try to cordon off the city, shutting down all communication and travel in and out of Chicago, Nef locates a single likely way out. The team rescues a National Guard tank crew from a swarm of ant, beetle and wasp spirits, which all seem to follow the orders of a handful of shamans. The grateful tank crew promptly assure the runners that their passage will not be reported. Nef continues on, driving her team and their charges away from one of the worst disasters ever to hit the Sixth World.

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It's a Long Way to the Top If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll
"Aaaaaagh!" -- Suzu, before and after slamming a bottle of whiskey while drenched in blood

June 23rd, 2055

Hired by guitar tech Casey Williams to “extract” rock star Maria Mercurial from the overprotective and creepy arms of Aztechnology, the team gets down to business researching their task. Maria, it turns out, has become the personal project of Enrico Huerta, vice president of “risk management” for AZT’s North American mystic services division, power broker within the Seattle AZT pyramid… and longtime enemy of Hunch from the troll’s pre-Goblinization days as an AZT security officer. Maria’s personal bodyguard detail is often accompanied by Huerta and the VP’s own bodyguards. She has several upcoming club dates, but otherwise lives in the AZT pyramid in downtown. Another critical difficulty lay in the certainty that AZT has acquired tissue samples from Maria which make her vulnerable to ritual magic at almost any distance. The job becomes twofold: extract Maria from her watchdogs and steal or destroy her tissue samples in the pyramid vault.

Hunch and Ransom opt to follow Maria’s movements, ascertaining that she is due for a technical rehearsal at Club Penumbra for her show tomorrow. Suzu, Hawthorne and Mitena infiltrate the pyramid with Nef watching remotely via a device of her own design planted on Hawthorne.

Hunch and Ransom cajole their way past Club Penumbra’s bodyguards and promptly find themselves in a brief but tense exchange with Huerta while Maria conducts her mic check. Matters at the AZT pyramid initially go well, with the infiltration team smoothly moving up toward high-security levels using a stolen keycard and simple chutzpah. Upon walking off an elevator into the Mystic Services offices, though, the team is confronted by an Awakened receptionist. Suzu all but vanishes, Hawthorne immediately puts on the airs of an executive and bullies her way past the receptionist.

Mitena stalls the receptionist by acting like a strange and batty corporate shaman, but the act lasts only so long. Hawthorne jacks into the floor’s computer system to create distractions and misdirections in the security system while Suzu breaks into the vault. Soon, however, the receptionist recovers and confronts Mitena; with the jig now up, Mitena resorts to the naked force of magic, silencing both natural sounds and electronic signals in the area and ultimately killing the receptionist. Suzu, meanwhile, acquires the correct drawer holding Maria’s samples, but comes face to face with a manifested blood spirit. The team narrowly escapes the blood spirit, but not before suffering psychological trauma and no small amount of physical violence.

The full team quickly reunites and realizes that they have run out of time to be subtle; AZT will soon discover the theft and will easily acquire new tissue samples if Maria remains in their custody for much longer. With no other options, the team returns to Club Penumbra. Hunch and Ransom convince the bouncers to take a hike (agreeing to a significant favor in return) before bursting inside and recovering Maria through naked force.

The fight is brief, but savage. Hunch manages to briefly disable Huerta and chew through Maria’s security detail while Suzu and Ransom guide Maria through the danger and out the back. Hawthorne blanks out all security camera feeds during the fight. Before the team escapes, however, the blood spirit under Huerta’s control—until he’s knocked out by Hunch—goes wild. Additionally, Huerta recovers and stabs one of his own men with an obsidian dagger to empower a massive fireball spell. Though the team escapes with no fatalities, Huerta also survives the encounter.

Nef provides a clean getaway in her van while Ransom’s go-gang associates stir up enough chaos and havoc to keep the local Lone Star patrols preoccupied. The team explains things to Maria, who expresses her gratitude for their efforts. She confesses that she has recorded the entire incident through her simsense rig, but volunteers to remove the team’s faces, voices and other identifying characteristics before the recording can go through any sort of copying or sharing. She also doubles the team’s compensation for the run, bringing the job to a grand total of 100K nuyen.

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The Beautiful People
"Gangsters are an imprecise weapon."

June 15, 2055

Ransom wakes up shortly after noon (a respectable time for any go-ganger) and checks her messages to find an invitation to a party thrown by socialite and shadow fixer Heidi Black, a screaming note from a street contact that local mafia don James O’Malley has just been assassinated, and a request from Mike to come see him as soon as possible.

Mike consults Ransom’s knowledge of local underworld happenings in relation to the O’Malley hit. Like many others, he’s trying to run down the killer, the motive and other sundry information. Mike reveals that local Yakuza soldier Kenji Yoshida had recently hit on O’Malley’s daughter, Rowena at a club in a most disrespectful fashion… except that Mike can confirm that Kenji was actually home at the time, meaning Rowena’s assailant was an imposter. Regardless, Kenji was later found with his head in a vise at a hardware store in Renton. Kenji, it turns out, is a cousin of the local oyabun. Ransom in turn reveals that she has been invited to Heidi’s and will take her up on the invite, but wishes to assure Mike that they are still solid.

After meeting up with the team, Hunch expresses some surprise that the Choson Ring, clearly the people behind the false Kenji, had exercised such subtlety and instigated a war between the yakuza and mafia rather than simply taking Kenji out themselves. Ransom and the rest of the team arrange a team plan for Heidi’s party, making sure everyone is close by in case of trouble.

Ransom attends the party with Suzu, Mitena and Hawthorne, while Hunch, Midi and Nef hang out nearby. At the party they find several local celebrities and power brokers, along with some certified rock royalty and none other than Sally Tsung, a mage whose rep as a shadowrunner is one of the best in the business.

Mitena finds herself in a strange conversation with an obnoxious and somewhat obtuse elf in odd make-up. The elf’s fascination with Mitena’s appearance goes unexplained, but over the course of the encounter Mitena and the others discover that he goes by the name of “Quentin Harlech,” which Mitena immediately reverses into “Harlequin” to his great amusement. Though little is revealed in the conversation, Midi remembers several warnings from other shadowrunners about the individual—all essentially saying, “If you see this guy, run the other way.” Harlequin leaves Mitena and the others slightly perplexed but otherwise unmolested. Midi follows Harlequin out slightly, watching from a distance as several other elves on motorcycles follow Harlequin with obvious ill intent. Harlequin appears unconcerned.

The discussion between Heidi and Ransom is pleasant and professional. Heidi has heard good things from reliable sources about the team (despite, she notes, their short working history) and wishes to offer a try-out mission. Along the way, Heidi casually probes Ransom for information regarding the O’Malley hit, whereupon Ransom offers an explanation scrubbed of her own team’s involvement: she labels the Choson Ring as the culprits of the initial flare-up between Kenji and Rowena O’Malley. Shortly after leaving, Hawthorne sends a computer file of relevant info (again, scrubbed of references to the team) to both Heidi and Mike. Heidi responds with cash; Mike simply chalks it up as a favor owed.

The meet with the client takes place the next morning at a coffee shop. “Mr. Johnson” turns out to be the guitar tech for Maria Mercurial, a rocker on the cusp of superstardom. Casey Wills (the Johnson) explains that Maria’s longtime friend and bodyguard, a snake shaman named Hooch, was murdered in his apartment two months ago and Lone Star refused to investigate, citing Hooch’s SINless status. Seeking better support and protection, Maria’s manager guided her toward Aztechnology… who promptly began trying to push Casey out of her life. Maria got Casey a message at a show asking him to find an escape for her, saying she’d rather die than live out her life as a tool for AZT.

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First Run, Part II
Hoo Are Yoo? Are Yoo Lonely Like Mee?

May 23rd, 2055: Datasteal (part two)

Ransom is struck with the flu, forcing her to pull out of the job. The rest of the team digs up data on Kenji Yoshida, the yakuza soldier who led the theft of the Spring Break Ninja data from the Johnsons, and discover his general pattern of movement in collecting protection money from businesses in the International District. The general movements of Larry Nakahara are also worked out. They find that the data itself has been delivered to Evergreen River Software in Bellevue for decryption and extraction, a job which will take some time because of its delicacy.

Deciding that Larry holds the key to entering the site, the team opts to snatch him on the road while he makes his rounds. The plan is simple: while Larry’s car takes a side street by the zoo, Nef blocks off one end with her van while Hunch and Max/MIDI violently wrench Larry out of his car and neutralize his bodyguards. Mitena covers up the noise of the abduction through sorcery, though she is seen perched in a tree by a forlorn and lonely zoo worker, resulting in several weeks of “Missed Connections” ads and bad poetry.

While this occurs, Suzu slips into the site on her own to scout things out. She verifies that the data is still being extracted, but cannot snatch the hardware without possibly damaging it. The team will need Hawthorne on site to disconnect and recover the data cleanly.

Suzu offers to meet with a contact who may provide more information on the site and the opposition. She goes to a coffee shop with Midi to see Buttercup, who has taken a personal interest in both individuals. Buttercup offers several choice bits of advice in exchange for a favor: “Please look in the Violet room while you’re there. Try to have a mage assense the occupants of the room… but try not to disturb them. And let me know how it goes.”

The team arranges for a preemptive distraction by anonymously dropping Kenji Yoshida’s general itinerary into the laps of the Choson Seoulpa Ring. Knowing the Ring’s seething animosity for the yakuza, this seems like a good way to ensure the yakuza has more on its mind than the events of this run.

The team then arrives at Evergreen River Software’s campus after working hours. Nef remains in her van nearby to offer a getaway vehicle and covers the area with her drones to watch for outside threats. The rest of the team heads through the main gate with Larry, but while this gets them past the first checkpoint, security is almost immediately alerted. The fatal flaw in their plan to use Larry and his key card becomes obvious: his kidnapping occurred hours ago, more than long enough for his employers to spread the word.

Violence erupts upon entry to the main building. Armed guards, hellhounds, automated gun turrets and a water elemental make for a wild fight, but the team is up to the task. Larry escapes in the confusion. Hawthorne and Suzu claim the paydata while Hunch, Midi and Mitena neutralize the security control room. While in the control room, the team acquires footage of the Violet Room, where two burly, well-armed and clearly heavily cybered men sit at a table… playing Jenga. One of the men is recognized as Hatchetman, a Seattle street samurai of some repute thought dead after a run. Despite the alarms and sounds of violence outside, neither man turns away from the game.

The team makes their quick and violent exit. Nef provides evasive transportation from the site, ensuring that they are not followed.

After the run, Hunch and the others deliver the goods to the Johnsons. Hawthorne suggests that the Johnsons relocate to Chicago, where they will likely find the independent post-production support they need. Suzu and Midi meet up with Buttercup again to provide the video of the Violet Room. Buttercup watches with interest and explains that the two individuals are products of “cybermancy,” a recent innovation that blends magic with bleeding-edge tech to allow an individual to accept an amount of cybernetic upgrading that is normally fatal. In effect, the souls have both been magically “tricked” into remaining past the point at which the soul normally leaves the body. Buttercup is concerned that such individuals are in Seattle, but gives no further info.

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First Run
"They look just like shadowrunners!"

May 22nd, 2055: Datasteal
Arranged through: Mike

The Job: The team meets with Misters and Miss Johnson at a back room in Club Penumbra. All three are young businessfolk of Japanese descent bearing signs of recent injury. They explain that they are the makers of an underground simsense adventure needing post-production work. Their first meeting with Emerald City Swagger in Seattle resulted in Yakuza thugs smashing into their hotel room, beating all three and taking their copy of the raw data. The production, “Spring Break Ninja,” features Johnny C as the titular character on a two-week rampage of sex, drinking, panty raids and feuds with ninjas in Palm Springs. Between the sim’s innovative video game-like interactive options and Johnny C’s personal status the only physical adept in Hollywood to accept a Full-X simsense recording implant, along with his personal notoriety for being on the run from Amalgamated Studios, “Spring Break Ninja” is bound to make millions… for whoever releases it. The Johnsons offer 100k nuyen, payable upon delivery, for recovery of the raw data and destruction of any copies.

Initial investigation reveals that Emerald City’s agent is really Larry Nakahara, an “asset manager” for Mitsuhama who handles several of the megacorporation’s shell companies in Seattle. He dispatched several Yakuza allies, including Kenji Yoshida, to acquire the raw data. The investigation seems to confirm longstanding rumors of close connections between the Yakuza and Mitsuhama.

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