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Ghost Cartels - Bender's Journal (spoilers!)

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« Reply #15 on: <01-21-11/1437:29> »
Tokyo Fireworks

The job, find the assassins who ambushed Kaz. The payday, 10k a piece.  How could we say no?

Gripper digs into the Comet’s history and finds that it frequents at the Westin in downtown.  Static cruises around the hotel in the Comet, chauffeured by Gripper’s dragon sprite Uncle Dunk while the rest stake out the hotel in Marge. Two Yak Comets pull up under the awning, the valets hop out as seven slightly battered Yakuza get in and drive away. “I’ve got  ‘em,” Static tells us over the comm. “Is Blondie with them?” asks Lynx. “Yes, yes he is,” Static confirms.

Marge begins following from several cars back as Static slides in behind the van.  Our prey merge onto the 5 heading north and as they pass the stadium the pair of black cars suddenly pull away, putting several cars between us and them. Lynx mentions that it would be bad if they get to some place fortified. Bender acknowledges by stepping on the gas (generator?) and closing the distance as Gripper asks if they spotted us. His question is answered by Blondie who sticks his head out a window and fires at Bender. The shots bounce off Marge and Lynx pays him back by malfunctioning their Comet. It swerves to the right catching a guardrail and spins around until it slams into the wall pointed in our direction. The car following swerves around the smashed Comet and slides to a halt. Backing toward us it bounces off a morning commuter.

Two blood covered Yaks from the nearest car, sight their Ares rifles along the car roof and open fire clipping Bender while a third fires at Marge’s tires and hits with the second shot as Bender pulls to a stop. Luckily the runflats do their job. Our stolen Comet pulls up behind Marge and Static jumps out sending a lightning bolt into the farthest Comet shorting it out. Blondie is out and running a moment later. He leaps atop Marge and fires his spike implant at Static. Static falls down.

Lynx sends her Spirit of Man after the remaining Yaks which is followed shortly by the sound of automatic fire from inside the first car. A Yak from the second car sprints past Marge and around Benders poor excuse for a clothesline. He steps over Static’s body and into our Comet followed by Blondie. Bender can’t believe it, “The bastards are stealing the car that we stole from them.” Lynx opens the back doors and Mob Mind’s both Yaks, locking them in place. Bender hops out, grabs the driver and tosses him out of the car (and into traffic) then clamps manacles onto Blondie and drags him and Static back to the van where Lynx can try to revive Static. “No… trauma…. Patches…” he mutters before we drive away from the backup quickly forming on the highway. Traffic can be murder in Seattle.

We go to Kaz’s meeting place only to find that it is an entrance to the Ork Underground and we’re expected. Our guide leads us past underground storefronts and new excavations until we reach a spot deep in The Underground. Along the way, a recovered Static sends occasional jolts into Blondie. When we reach Kaz and drop Blondie at his feet he thanks us, pays us and then tells Blondie, “It’s time you and me had a little chat.” We spend the next three days following Kaz around as he puts in appearances at safe houses and gambling dens making sure that everyone knows that he’s alive and everything is business as usual.  Later he asks us if we would like to go to a SuperSonics game. A little down time sounds good, plus we’ve got box seats.

Bender is a little miffed that he had to leave most of his toys in the van but made up for it by getting a giant foam finger and a beer hat. When we get to the box seats we find it already occupied by Chulsoon Greywolf and six of his standover men. They stand with their chins out, begging for a fight even though they’re disarmed like us. They probably had a ‘caster and one fellow was twitching from full-on tweaked-out body work, but then again they didn’t bring a troll. This should be a fun game.
Static starts surveying the room starting with the buffet as Kaz sits down next to Greywolf and chats about game stats and trades. The mood is tense. Finally Kaz pulls a folio from his jacket pocket and hands it to Greywolf. Inside was a neatly trimmed piece of synthskin emblazoned with a dragon nanotattoo still performing its malevolent shifting dance. “You sold me out,” Kaz stats. Greywwolf casually closes the folio and hands it back. “I did what was best for the Kumon’go, you would have done the same. Tempo is too hot and it is brining too much heat on the Ring. It is better to negotiate peace with the Yakuza.” Kaz visibly fights to rein in his anger, “You wish to bend to the Yakuza when Tempo will make us their master.” Kaz gets up to leave and motions for us to follow. “Slower is better, Kaz, for everyone.” Kaz ignores the comment instead telling him, “I will not speak of your betrayal to the Kumon’go.” He then leaves the box as we follow.

“I’ll need you for one more day,” he tells us and asks us to meet him at 77 where we are reintroduced to the two people from the cemetery, Sacristan and the Latin gentleman. Kaz and his guests slip into a booth and activate a noise barrier. A half hour and a couple of credsticks later they leave and Kaz calls us over. He outlines his play to seal the Tempo deal making the Kumon’go the exclusive source of tempo in the region. All it will take is a little wetwork on our part. It’s a big hit, high profile, multiple targets and he wants it pinned on someone else. “If you take the job I’m willing to pay you a quarter of a million nuyen.” “Each!?” Static blurts. “Uh, no. But I will give you 20% up front.” After some discussion over the job and the ramifications of our newfound closeness with Kaz we decide to take the job.

Kaz wants to make a statement. He provides the C4, we make sure we use it to send our friends from the weekly private poker game to separate zip codes. He wants evidence to point to the Gianelli family. The evidence’s name is Harry Bartucci, a hitman for the family. The next game is in five days.  After a bit of negotiating that brings our payday up to 300,000 we get to work.

Lynx and Static dig into the basement using spirits under the protection of concealment while Bender and Gripper shadow Harry.  The night of the game we set the explosives while Static sits in the van (just to be safe). Lynx collects Harry with her puppet master spell and marches him up to the casino where he meets Bender.  “Nighty Night,” Bzzzzt! Gripper enters the casino monitoring system and watches for our guests while we move off to a safe distance with a view. As soon as everyone arrives we press the button.

Within minutes Lone Star sirens interrupts the screaming and panic but the first on the scene is a pack of feds from across the street. The news feeds light up with live footage and wild conjecture about the culprits and cause.  Kaz calls us with his thanks and a meeting place to finalize the funds transfer. He plans to let the mob and yakuza battle each other for a couple of days before claiming responsibility for the hit. He promises he will not expose us, but we’ve been seen together quite a bit recently. He tells us as part of the deal he’s made arrangements with Sacristan who will fund our departure until the things settle down.  Or we can choose to handle our own affairs.

Kaz is bringing a lot of heat in his direction and it might be in our best interest for ‘Our own affairs’ to involve Kaz disappearing before his little announcement and leaving the crime world to sort things out for themselves.  Almost against our better judgment we take Kaz’s deal and in 48 hours we find ourselves on a LEO transport.

Destination, Hong Kong.

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« Reply #16 on: <01-28-11/1256:43> »
Retributive First Strike, Part 1

Strangers in a strange land, a working holiday

Sacristan loads us up on a private Kondorchid suborbital bound for Hong Kong. A bookworm looking dwarf named Jorge was working in VR for most of the trip while Sacristan talked with Henry Uribe privately on their link. We landed on the airport island and transferred to a couple of air taxis that flew past the huge shipping compound toward the colorful lights of the city. We landed on the roof of the Peninsula Hotel and ushered into the hotel by polite and professional hotel security. Once inside Sacristan told us that our company would be required at a morning meeting and to not cause undue attention for the duration of our stay. We would receive 300¥ a day for our trouble. We were also welcome to join them for dinner. Despite being treated like window dressing by Henry Uribe dinner was uneventful and everyone went their separate way afterwards.

Static and Lynx turned in early while Gripper decided to head out to the local bars and ended up in a club ordering his usual fruity drinks. Jorge, the dwarf from the suborbital entered the club in the company of a couple of young ladies. Spotting Gripper he invited him up to a VIP area overlooking the rest of the club and provided a spectacular view of the city. This is when Jorge offered Gripper his choice from Jorge’s own personal pharmacy. The dwarf was carrying a small sample of all the most common street drugs, which he shared with his lady friends and Gripper. He told gripper that he was Seattle’s preeminent chemist, responsible for refining and perfecting his organization’s most popular products. He was very interested in finding out how Tempo was refined. Jorge isn’t on the guest list for the morning meeting and is making the most of his time away from the scrutiny of his handlers. At 4 am he is still partying and wishes Gripper goodnight. Gripper notices someone following Jorge out the door but relaxes when he sees it is one of the guards from the flight from Seattle dressed in street clothes and looking rather bored. I guess Jorge isn’t quite as free as he thinks he is.

           As Gripper ambles into the hotel he notices Bender asleep in the bar. The staff, unable to move him set up a partition in front of the table he was using for a cot. Gripper poked him until he woke up and they both headed up the elevator to their suite. They passed Static who was just waking up and getting ready for the day. Bender hardly noticed that the hotel had placed suitably sized furniture in his room before stumbling into bed. After Static explored the breakfast buffet and the single ladies in attendance he joined the rest of the crew as they head out to the meeting. Limos take them to high speed hydrofoils that ferry them across the harbor where they get into more limos. Their meeting is in a typical office building in the financial district. Gripper notices that Bender doesn’t look as bulky as usual. “Did you lose weight?” he asks. Bender responds by opening his coat to reveal several empty holsters , equipment straps and no armor jacket.

From our talk on the ride to the meeting, we discovered that Hong Kong was experiencing a similar introduction to Tempo as was Seattle. The players were a little different but it looked like the same game. The biggest competition was from the Smoke Circle, Triads who were dealing Red Orchid, an awakened drug. Next in line were the 10,000 Lions whose main product was BTLs. The people we were meeting were the main Tempo distributors, a smaller faction of the Triads called the Black Chrysanthemums, every bit the underdogs that the Komun'go were. Since this was a friendly business meeting everyone was only lightly armed. We stood opposite the standover men belonging to the business partners, Bender doing his best to intimidate them with mean looks and morning breath. The spokes person or Sin Fung for the Black Chrysanthemums, Huk, was already there. Huk had a long ugly scar that traveled down one cheek and across his nose and ending near his ear. Mr. Uribe began the introductions in Cantonese. A performance Gripper recognizes as the benefit of a skillsoft. After the conversation switched to English and confirmed the comparison to Seattle’s Tempo similarities but on a much larger scale. The next shipment will involve a 40 Million ¥ Tempo supply at a lower price than ever. They planned to flood the market and under sell dealers of all other recreational drugs. The only hitch is the arrival of a shipment of Red Orchid due in the next few weeks. The problem is that any overt hit on the transport would ignite a gang war. After the meeting adjourns we are herded back to the limos. We have the day to ourselves but we are asked to visit Sacristan at 6 pm.

            At 5 of 6 we arrive on the 88th floor and enter a penthouse suite that is an extravagant mess. The entire suite is decked out in the most expensive everything you could ever imagine, often at the expense of good taste. The windows open onto the city and in the distance the walled city of Kowloon where the poorest of the poor lived. The nearest couch held several stacks of gear and the sofa opposite sagged under the weight of very large metallic object. The trido in the center of the room had been extended to fill most of the sitting area with a 3d floor plan of a long narrow building. Gripper walked into the middle of the display and started stomping across the coffee table shouting, “look at me, I’m Godzilla.”

Sacristan introduced her presence with a polite cough and told us that she needed some of our unique skills with a problem they had. It looks like this was going to be a working vacation. Satristan needed the incoming shipment of Red Orchid to ‘disappear’. The schematic was not a building but a cargo ship and Sacristan wanted us to hit it en route. The floor plan zoomed out until it showed what looked like a real time aerial view of the ship and neighboring commercial traffic. She told us she would provide the equipment and training and all we had to do was to attach the Limpet Mine sitting on the sofa to the ship and push the button. She would even arrange transportation there and back. For the next couple of days we spend our days traveling with Mr. Uribe on official and unofficial Kondorchid business and our nights training in the hotel pool. The official meetings have to do with Kondorchid’s shipping company and their interests in Caracas, Bogotá and Amazonia. Their unofficial meetings deal with financial feedback and distribution of Tempo.

When the cargo ship is about two days from port we met at the docks. Bender made a great first impression with the crew of the smuggling boat by dressing in a skull and crossbones bandana and a novelty eye patch but everyone became friendly on their day and half journey to their destination. As we got closer a tropical storm began to brew. The captain called us into his cabin just as the downpour started. “So you’re gonna blow it up.” We weren’t sure how much of the plan the captain knew but the presence of the limpet mine made it an easy guess. “Our mutual employers wish to keep the ship and its cargo from its rightful owner, it seems a waste to sink her. If you could clear the decks I could make her disappear. A ship like that would be worth a half a million not counting the cargo. I’ll let you think about it. I’ll call you when we’re close.”

After another hour the captain returned. “The storm will help us get to about 500 meters from the ship without being spotted. It took a little time to find her though, seems she’s off course and heading more east than northeast by about 100 miles. Any thought to my proposition?”  We agreed to his plan and negotiated our split while suiting up and prepping the equipment. As the group put the sea sleds into the water Static went to the bow just this side of naked and morphed into a giant squid and collapsed into the water. Gripper asked one more time if the captain couldn’t get just a few hundred meters closer so he could stay behind and offer wireless and emotional support from the nice dry cabin.

Fifty feet from the ship we saw movement in the water, more than a half dozen sleek eight foot long sharks swimming in the shadow of the ship’s wake. The sharks spotted us as well and began circling. Gripper used the opportunity to disrupted ship communication and tapped into the surveillance system. The cameras showed no one moving aboard, the cargo hold was dark. Hacking the transmission log only showed a weather check from the day before. That’s when the fun began. Static managed to kill a couple sharks as did Lynx, who was just as graceful in the water as on land. Gripper didn’t fare so well and received a deep bite to the midsection. He also noticed a still occupied sneaker in the mouth of the shark that had bit him. Lynx and Bender put their backs to Gripper to protect him. With blood in the water the sharks started to attack anything that moved including each other. Bender it seemed couldn’t land a solid blow on the swift killers but Static and Lynx were able to finish them off each with a single blow.

Static morphed back to human form and levitated everyone to the deck one by one. He then healed Gripper as Bender and Lynx watched for an attack from the crew. None came. Lynx opened her astral senses and could feel recent death but nothing else. Moving slowly to the bridge and up a staircase revealed a bloody smear and handprint on the outside of the door, out of the camera’s view. The bloody evidence was protected from the elements by a metal alcove that served as the entrance to the bridge. Bender stepped back and knelt to examine the area. He hadn’t tried to track anything for a while but now would be a good time to try. The handprint was human but the footprints were not. “It was a troll.” He told the others. Bender turned and looked at the others, they were staring at him. He was about to say something when they all looked down at his feet. Looking down he saw blood on his boots. The troll prints were his. Me Bender, mighty tracker (idiot). Not only did he step in it, literally, he had destroyed anything that might have helped them. [glitch]

Something here had chewed the crew fed them to the sharks. The question was who or what did it and was it still here.

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« Reply #17 on: <02-17-11/0831:40> »
South Seas Cruise

Bender grabs the handle and opens the door to the bridge. Blood is smeared on the back wall and console and the captain’s seat is crushed on one side. The autopilot is active, the destination a small island in the Philippine archipelago. Gripper tells us that it was set a few hours after their last radio check. He checks the shipping manifest and doesn’t see anything unusual, and no mention of Red Orchid. The roster lists nine crew and the captain. Something is here and we have two options, go looking for it or have it come to us. The easiest and most likely spot something could be hiding is in the cargo hold. If nothing is there it would be a nice place to set a trap. Bender and Static venture back out into the rain as Lynx and Gripper stay in the nice dry bridge.

Static does his little vanishing trick on the way to the bow. Bender notices shell casings from AK-97s as well as those from some small arms. He spots bits of human flesh and blood but nothing that triggers his critter senses. We signal Gripper that we’re in position and Bender opens a link to his cyber eyes for those interested. A moment later Gripper flips on the work lights in the hold as the cargo doors squeal open on rusty hinges. Ah, how I love the element of surprise.

A Chinese sailor walking between the wooden, metal and plastic crates looks up at work lights as the storm rains down into the hold. He begins shouting in Chinese as he turns towards a door in the stern, two bullet holes clearly present on his back. Gripper translates over the comm, “Someone is aboard! Get to the bridge!” Gripper sends out a mental command and distant metallic sounds can be heard around the ship as locks click into place. From the bow, a Chinese sailor with half his face blown off runs toward Bender. The troll aims his Ares assault rifle at the forehead to finish the job. The shot misses and Bender switches to his axe knocking away a fierce blow from the crazed sailor. A crackling sound is the only warning as Static fires a mana bolt at the sailor who takes it full in the chest, the creature shrivels before his eyes. A quick follow up blast leaves the sailor dead and smoking at Benders feet.

Pounding can be heard from the cargo hold as the sailor tries to enter the ship from below. Above, a door swings open onto the deck underneath the bridge and a crewman races up the stairs and pounds on the bridge door. It leers through the window at Gripper who screams in fear as he scampers under the console to hide while his dragon runs around in terrified circles. Lynx readies her Astral Sense and unlocks the door. Gripper locks it. Lynx unlocks it again and Gripper locks it. Lynx unlocks and pulls the door open causing Gripper to shriek. Standing before her is an awakened being, astrally overlaying the crewman is an amorphous jellyfish who notices Lynx right back. Lynx hits it in the face with her magical fist of doom, cracking its skull. Static wounds the crewman in the hold with a well aimed mana bolt as Bender feels a presence in the stern telling him to jump overboard. He turns and looks at the railing judging how far he’d have to jump before thinking, “Uh, how about No.”

The crewman in the hold glares at Static and begins climbing the ladder out of the hold as three of his crewmates step onto the deck to join the party. One climbs the stairs to the bridge catching Lynx off guard with its sinister gaze causing her to recoil and back up toward Gripper still cowering on the floor.

At the bow, Bender feels a sudden chill as two of the crew run past him. One stops and slashes at the air in front of it. Static cries out and a flash of light sends the attacker to the ground. The other sailor turns and stares at Bender who turns and runs in terror from the crazed looking 5’5” unarmed sailor. Static opens his comm., “They can see me! And don’t let them touch you, I feel like I’m slowing down.”  The gloom is pushed back as Static summons a fire elemental, the rain sizzling as it hit its flickering form.

On the bridge, Lynx is in full defensive mode, fighting her fear and batting away blows from the crewman swinging wildly at her, unable to strike back. Coming to his senses, Gripper lashes his safety tether around the base of the captain’s chair and lies back on the floor. He looks at Lynx as she fends off her attacker and says, “good luck.” As he enters full VR, he can hear Lynx’s saying, “Wait! I need you.” Gripper takes control of the helm and issues his command, “tip the boat,” which turns the boat away from the wind causing it to slip sideways down the back side of a swell. The next wave crashes into the side of the freighter, flooding the deck and cascading into the hold. The crewman climbing the ladder is caught full in the face as he reaches the top and is thrown back into the hold and crushed by a loose crate. The crewman that attacked Static is carried over the side as Bender and Static grab a railing, alerted only moments ago by Gripper’s warning. The remaining crewman on the bow takes advantage of the Static’s lowered defenses and strikes him in the back - paralyzing him. On the bridge, Lynx casually places one foot on to the wall to compensate for the tilting surface as her opponent falls backward.

Bender lets go of the railing and looks up. His mad dash has taken him all the way to the stern. There, in the shadow of the lifeboat is a deeper shadow, a dark smokey cloud unaffected by the rain. Suspended inside the cloud is the shape of a man.  The shape turns toward Bender and exhales a billowing dark cloud that passes over him. Even holding his breath the cloud burns his eyes and throat and causes his stomach to roil. “Damn, and I thought I had bad breath.” Bender’s Ares is at the ready even before the cloud dissipates. “I’ve been wanting to try this.” Foomp! The grenade launcher sends its payload at the cloud as he follows up with a burst from the rifle. The grenade goes a bit wide but peppers the target with shrapnel about the same time as the bullets do. All of them bounce off. “Ah Crap! I really need to magi-fy my axe.”

Frozen in place Static hears the gunfire and explosions from aft and conjures a mana bolt to deal with his attacker then sends the fire elemental to give Bender a hand. The elemental attacks the cloud but it dodges the blow and sends another breath of cold vapor at Bender.  “Oh SH…” Bender takes the cloud full in the face and stumbles backward. He feels his insides start to revolt as he falls to the deck and passes out.

Noticing that Gripper isn’t moving, Lynx’s opponent moves to attack but realizes the live prey might be the most dangerous. It turns back toward Lynx only to walk right into the captain’s chair. Feeling the effects of the fear fading, Lynx decides it time for a little payback. Her victim looks shocked as it stares at her arm protruding from its chest just before it slumps to the floor. Lynx takes the time to send a kick at Gripper’s prone body before running from the bridge to assist Bender. Static levitates into the air and provides covering fire, his mana bolt narrowly missing the target. The cloud creature closes with Lynx but she is ready as it sends its putrid breath weapon toward her. The two engage in unarmed combat and after a half dozen blows neither one can cause any damage. Suddenly the lifeboat crane swings around clocking the creature in the back of the head sending it to one knee. Static hits with a bolt that distracts it enough for Lynx to land a strike that opens it up for a spinning chop that separates its head from its shoulders. For a moment the only noise is the sound of the rain on the deck and Bender retching. Then the lifeboat cranes start to do a happy little dance.

After Bender recovers enough to move, everyone searches the rest of the ship but nothing else is found. After finding a shower onboard Bender joins everyone in the ship’s galley. “Just so you know, I wasn’t running away.  I was just advancing in a different direction.” He grabs a seat next to Gripper who has an icepack on his lap for some reason. After discussing the notion of double crossing our Johnson, we decided on a solution that everyone could live with. We radio Captain Teng and while he is roping up on one side of the ship we toss the newly ventilated crates of Red Orchid off the other side. Teng gets the freighter, no one gets the RO, everyone’s happy. Teng’s mate and a skeleton crew man the freighter and Teng ferries us back to the mainland. He tells us he can offer us 100,000Y for the ship. “Each?!” asks Gripper. “No, not each.” Teng also offers us his comm address in case we should ever need his services. As he goes back on deck the rest of us discuss the possibility of making Bender a bit faster. When we arrive at the Hong Kong dock there is a delivery addressed to Teng waiting. Gripper grins mischievously explaining that it is a barrel of rum for the good captain.

We find out pretty quickly that the move to drop the price of Tempo has been underway for a couple of days and already the competitors are taking a huge hit and Tempo is finding its way into mainstream usage. Henry would still like to keep us on retainer for a few more days. He has to attend to some KondOrchid business in Macao, and while he is away he would like us to watch Jorge for him. Well, no rest for the wicked. Besides, how tough could it be to watch a drugged dwarf?

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« Reply #18 on: <02-22-11/1110:14> »
Ghoul of my Dreams

Sacristan was always quick with payment for a job well done. Bender decides to take his payment in trade and asks about some cyberware he has his eye on.  He disappears shortly thereafter leaving behind a half eaten box of donuts and a note saying he’ll be back in a couple of days.

We were still on retainer to watch Jorge.  When he wasn’t partying in city he was at the Black Chrysanthemum stronghold in the middle of the walled city of Kowloon. What had been four apartment buildings was now a single compound. The alleyways between the boarded up buildings were now guarded gates where the Tempo dealers plied their trade.

Huk was there but it was Jorge who was in charge of the drug lab. The usually laidback dwarf barked orders and scolded careless chemists. Near the end of the week he came out of the lab with an unusual gleam in his eye. “I have a job you might be interested in. I’m stuck here for a couple of days but I’ve heard some interesting rumors. The area inside the wall has its share of ghouls. Well it seems that they’ve been feeding on Tempo users and have developed a second hand craving.” I’m sure he wanted to say addicted but it was still too soon to admit that the new drug de jour had that quality.  Jorge went on to tell us how Tempo tainted ghouls had started showing up at the gates frightening off the other Tempo shoppers. He wanted to do some research and he wanted us to go fetch a ghoul.

We took the job mostly to have something to do. The only problem besides transportation was that ghouls usually ran in packs. This might turn out to be a very interesting day. Bender was just finishing his last day of rehab and told the crew he was ready to leave even though all the nurses were begging him to stay. This comment was followed shortly by a slap and a flurry of angry Mandarin that Gripper refused to translate. We agreed on a price for a ghoul that was still kicking and one that was erm… slightly used. Jorge arranged for a ride to and from the wall but everything else was going to be on foot. Gripper winced. We told Jorge not to die on us while we were out. “Don’t worry,” he said, Sacristan would never let me hear the end of it if I did.” 

Bender stood by the waiting car and Static gave the troll a once over. “Looks like the surgery didn’t work, you’re still ugly.” Quicker than anyone could blink Bender snapped his arm out sending Static’s fedora flying. Gripper stepped up next to Bender and they both watched Static chase his hat as it tumbled down the street. “Wired Reflexes?” Bender grinned, “Even better. Move by wire.”

We stopped in front of an apartment building in the middle of a neighborhood that made the Redmond Barrens seem like a nice vacation spot. The building itself looked like it was about to fall in on itself but this is where Jorge said we’d find our prize, and about 50 of his friends. It wasn’t a perfect situation.  The place reeked and one stairwell was only slightly more passable that the other. The elevators… well, they had certainly seen better days.

We were twenty-five floors up when Lynx motioned for us to stop. We strained to hear movement over Gripper’s wheezing. We could here scraping and footsteps on the floor above and approaching from the far stairwell. Lynx asked Static to hand her a torch so that she could check the elevator shafts. Static looked puzzled for a moment and then reached into his bag as he made the connection. “Over here they’re called flashlights my friend.” Lynx snatched the flashlight and swung back to smack him with it but was interrupted by the groan of the metal stairway door.  Our hosts had arrived.

We quickly moved from the hallway to the abandoned elevator bay. From here we only had to guard the two ends of the short hallway and had a quick escape down the elevator shaft if we needed it. Good plan. Several ghouls followed us and took positions at either end of the hallway but stopped and waited. A ghoul stepped forward, this one wearing body armor. “What… do you want?” it rasped. Lynx decided to use diplomacy. She explained that for a long time ghouls have been supplied bodies and all we were asking for was one in return. It seemed to be considering this when Gripper decided to mention that we have planted explosives and if he didn’t comply we would blow up the building. “Must talk…” it said and then turned and walked toward the far stairs. While our ghoul guards looked on, Gripper searched for the closest active matrix link in this dead zone. He found one, a simple terminal on the floor above with a satellite link. The only files were communiqués between Kevin Lam and someone named Nightcrawler connected to the Tamanous group, an organization for and run by ghouls and based in good ‘ol Seattle.  Gripper was telling us about his find when we all heard the creak of cables from the four long dead elevator bays. Company was coming. Crappy plan. Oh well, So much for diplomacy.

Bender fired a blast of flechette rounds from his shotgun at the lightly armored creatures nearest to him killing one instantly. Behind him he caught sight of Lynx beheading a ghoul with a spin kick. She fended off the other two ghouls with perfectly timed blocks as Static sent a stunball toward the remaining ghouls on Bender’s side of the hall. It worked, we had a clear route to the stairs and we had our choice of volunteers. That’s about when the elevator doors opened, all four of them.  Each held a ghoul. Static dodged away from the claws of the ghoul hanging from the greasy black cable as Bender smacks away the slashing ghoul perched on the opposite side. Lynx slides away from her attacker but Gripper is slashed across the thigh before he can move away. “You see!” he shouts, “That’s why I stay in the van!”

The ghoul leader reappears firing his pistol, Static falls back as the rounds impact his chest. “Hoover Dam!” he groaned as shards of cracked ceramic plates fall from his armored coat. Ghouls begin to swarm into the passages at either end of the hall followed by a hellhound on a chain link leash. The beast opens its maw and spews a jet of flame a Bender. The troll twists away and the fireball washes over Static who was using Bender for cover.

Gripper could sense someone accessing the terminal on the floor above as he draws his pistol, the ghoul hanging in the elevator shaft slides lower on the cable dodging the first shot; the second atomizes the gripping hand sending the screaming fiend into the dark basement.  Bender clears the space in front of him with a wide shotgun blast and then dials down to a narrow spread using his smartlink. The next shot goes right down the gullet of the hound. “Bad dog.”

Using the opening Bender made Static, still smoking, turns the corner and fires a stunball down the corridor at the backs of Lynx’s attackers. Bender follows up with a grenade that drops the four wounded ghouls. Trying to protect Gripper, Lynx takes the impact from each of the successive blasts. “Don’t stunball the technomancer,” she shouts as she turns and punches the closest elevator ghoul. It thumps against the far wall before slipping down into the murky darkness. Static tries to heal some of his damage while Bender puts the weeping hound handler out of his misery. The wide blast also takes a chunk out of the ghoul leader knocking him back into the stairwell. Bender tosses frag grenade that bounces in after him then he pulls Static to the opposite stairwell as the screaming, snarling ghouls approach from the far stairwell and elevator shafts. Time to go. The grenade detonates in the stairwell as Lynx puts the finishing touches on the last remaining ghoul. She spins him around with an openhanded strike that slams him into the wall where it falls to the floor unconscious. Static summons a fire elemental to cover our retreat and Lynx takes the lead as Bender slings his Mossberg, picks up Gripper and the Ghoul in each hand and follows Static into the stairwell and down to the street.

            On the ride back we examine Grippers leg wound. Static looks thoughtful, “Hmm a technomancer ghoul… that would be interesting, assuming his higher brain functions don’t rot away… and that no one claims the bounty.” Bender perks up, “There’s a bounty?” Lynx shakes her head, “Stop looking at Gripper like that!  He hasn’t necessarily turned yet.” Static looks at the others, “So should we tie up Gripper… just to be safe? If I magically healed him would he be okay?” Static examines one of Gripper’s hands, "You guys notice his fingernails growing at an alarming rate?" Gripper yanks back his hand, “just heal me, OK? If I do turn into a ghoul, UncleDunk will to. It will be cool to see him out there, nibbling at "bits" of your icons.”

Back at the stronghold Jorge gets right to work, strapping the ghoul onto a table and connecting it to all sorts of monitors. While Jorge experiments on the creature Lynx watches to make sure it doesn’t do anything unexpected but she doesn’t stay long. Bender leaves after he runs out of popcorn. 

Horsemen

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  • Catalyst Demo Team
  • Chummer
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  • Posts: 228
« Reply #19 on: <11-18-11/2341:11> »
Did the campaign go on hiatus?
Agent #191 Catalyst Demo Team

Lynx

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  • Newb
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« Reply #20 on: <09-18-13/1245:17> »
The group fragmented, one guy had a kid, one had family problems, still one of my favorite groups ever, really good guys and we had a lot of fun and laughs as well.

Bender

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« Reply #21 on: <09-21-13/2112:13> »
Those were the days. Great times. I had to move out of state but I'm not in Witness Relocation if anyone asks.
I'm not sure how many runs we had after we dealt with the ghouls but it was great catching up on old times.

Gripper

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  • Good luck! *Passes out*
« Reply #22 on: <10-07-13/0051:11> »
Man I miss this group. Fantastic players and GM. Wiz.

If I recall, we got up to the Kowloon Massacre (which was one of my favorite engagements from the set) and a bit else. I remember figuring out the sprite rules at some point after the last Journal entry, then creating a petting zoo of cute, adorable, deadly creatures (a bunny fault sprite named "Bugs" and a monkey machine sprite named "The Captain"). Then Bender had to move away and it just didn't feel right continuing without him.

Great times indeed. I know at some point my son is going to ask me why I call the van "Marge".