Campaign of the Month: November 2014

Shadowrun - The Rat's Nest

Summary
a short-ish summary

December 2070

The Rat’s Nest is raided by Knight Errant / Hard Corps and partly destroyed, most of the Scrappers are arrested. After a sniper shoots five Hard Corps men the next morning, the Nest is evacuated. While it’s almost empty, the Picas move in.

During the time out of the Nest, the Scrappers are let go again by the police who had nothing much to charge them with. Neil finds out that he is Awakened when he summons a spirit by accident and meets Glitzy, who agrees to teach him. They begin a relationship.

The Nest is retaken from the Picas who no longer exist as a gang after that. A short while later, people get stuck in a UV host modelled after the Warsaw Ghetto and only just manage to escape.

January 2071
Glitzy and Maggie run a con on a businessman. Because Glitzy is too honest for her own good, she afterwards arranges for the man to work as a Johnson. 10k go missing from the Nest’s finances and it seems that someone has managed to program people to give the money away and not remember it afterwards. So far, it’s not known how or who. Rusty starts working as a runner for Glitzy.

February 2071
Roger Kowalski and Babsie open up a detective agency and immediately get in trouble with, presumably, the Yakuza.

March 2071
Babsie works her own first case and meets Fog, Zach, Jet and Stanley. Tempo slowly grows into a problem for the Nest and Neil loses Whistler when he tries to find a way to get rid of the addiction. After a run on the Maria Magdalene Sanatorium, fifty girls take refuge in the Nest. Fog, Zach, Jet, Stanley and Rusty have really pissed off a lot of important people and have a runner team searching for them. One of the girls, Fairy Fay, is a drake and hides out at Glitzy’s for now.

April 2071
The Rat’s Nest find out who stole all that money: Gen Wong, a rat shaman. Cornered, he fights and is killed by Neil. Lao Jia, his rat spirit, frees herself and moves in at the Nest. Zach is brought onto the UV Host and barely survives it. Fog hooks up with a witch, Kiki, and is currently wanted for killing a cop.

May 2071
Fog, Jet, Stanley, Zach and the Working Girls make a successful run on a chocolate factory and steal a ton of chocolate, but find out that it’s fake, grown from engineered algae. While hiding out at an abandoned chemical plant, they survive an attack by the Rusted Stilettos.

June 2071
Glitzy brokers a deal for the chocolate with the Stone family in Boston. A million for the ton, delivered to Boston. Fog, Stanley, Zoé, Jet and Nebraska go on a roadtrip and against all odds actually deliver the chocolate. Tyrell Agency investigates a series of arsons at talismonger shops.

July 2071
The group starts cleaning up a fertilizer plant near Glow City and goes on a metaquest to get rid of two toxic spirits. They succeed, but everyone pays a price for it. After that, they spend time preparing for the raid on the Rusted Stilettos headquarter in Glow City to free Rook.

August 2071
Frettchen gets a job at the clinic. The Stilettos raid goes ahead and Rook is successfully brought back from Glow City. At the Nest, the Celavies raid the hackers, destroy the Nest’s matrix and arrest Cobble. Ningbo, the reason for the raid, has already left, taking the Nest’s server with him and warning no-one. Neil and Glitzy become parents of twins.Lao, Pablo, Nebraska and Ruckus go undercover into the Renraku Archology to free Cobble because the Recyclers are preparing for a strike and cannot have Aislyn Bauer vulnerable to blackmail. Apart from Cobble, they bring back Sam, a vodoo mage.

September 2071
Bort starts teaching Nebraska because she now wants to be a rigger. Stanley is freed from the magical parasite and the resulting depression he picked up in July at the fertilizer plant.

October 2071
Kiki and Fog break up, Kiki vanishes soon after that. Fog, Sam, Zach, Stanley and Nebraska go on a run for the Draco Foundation to clean up a nuclear lighthouse in the Bering Sea. The Recyclers go on strike to protest against plans for their work to be taken over by Green Earth Solutions.

November 2071
Fog, Nebraska, Zach, Stanley and Sam break into the Seattle headquarter of Green Earth Solutions to steal data. Another corporation has contacted the Nest and promised to deal with GES if the data is delivered to them.

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Masterpost
all adventure logs

Adventure Log Timeline – use this to read it all in order

November 2071

September 2071

August 2071

July 2071

June 2071

May 2071

April 2071

March 2071

February 2071

January 2071

December 2070

November 2070

April 2054

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State of the Union
Fog's Audios

[Start Audio]
….
[no time stamp]

Well, hello Chummer. You’re not quite the trusty old Sony Emperor I carried around for so long… I hope you like your new upgrades.
I neglected this venting mechanism for a while, but..
There is just…
So.
Much.
Shit.
To do.
I almost got more stuff on my to-do list than I can handle without straight up going insane and that might seem like a strange claim coming from someone who barely needs to sleep.
Let’s start with the tame stuff, just to ease into this and get it out of my system.

After Glow City, I realized Screech left a kind of supply vacuum and I wholeheartedly intend to fill it.
My Scavvies got a new joint. Supplies, repairs, rest, company and two safe places to stay… we all got that now and it works. Like, really works.
We’re no longer the lone revenants completely on our own, but instead everyone knows there’s a shoulder to lean on somewhere and a full magazine if you’re in need.
Rod manages the logistics, though he still scratches the old scavenging itch from time to time, and with a bit of my leftover money it’s easy to keep us afloat.
The fertilizer plant is clean and Ytong recovers, slowly but surely.
It’s like… after more than half a year of kicking, reeling and screaming I finally feel my feet planted firmly into the ground again, ready to smile and welcome any challenge ahead.
It’s a subtle difference, but I kinda prefer this to the usual digging in of heels and defiantly clenching my fists, when I tell the world to fucking bring it on, you know?

Ain’t all sugar and unicorns, though.
Kiki and I broke up.
The cracks were there and I guess my constant dangerous escapades and lack of attention did their part and our general outlooks didn’t synergize as well as I’d thought. You know what they say about anchors, something about how they safeguard you, but they may also drag you down. Felt kinda like that. Always thought someone like her, someone kind, peaceful and normal would be just what I’d need. But it turned out I just had to carry her baggage as well and we kinda grew distant, fought a lot, ‘cause she and Rook didn’t really get along and we didn’t even remotely understand each other, like, deep down and… well, anyway, I’m single again, that’s what I wanted to get across.

On the plus side, since then I could fully focus on getting my Partner back on the right track.
Things didn’t exactly get better at first. She lost access to her magic as she was kinda between a rock and a hard place, spiritually, and I wasn’t that big of a help.
Though, to my credit, I got that anchor part right. In the positive sense.
Nautical metaphors aside, she was right, as my partner tends to be. I couldn’t understand what she was going through and it surely wasn’t easy to choose. Crow’s path brought her grief in the end and he dropped her like a hot potato, while his twisted brother made some pretty sweet pitches.
It’s how magic works, how we work and there is no simple solution. Which doesn’t mean there’s no solution.
I promised I wouldn’t push her or anything, but I’ll be damned if I wouldn’t prevent that asshole from trying to win her over for good. Maybe Crow wasn’t allowed to help directly, but that’s what I’m here for, right?
It’s just something that runs in the family I guess. My dad always told me, the only fight you can lose in good conscience, is your last one. Mom had a bit of a calmer stance but she was a strong advocate of ‘there’s no quit in a Kyldrasic’ as well.
Anyway, off to the meta planes we went to seriously sort this mess out, one way or another. We’d never let each other down again, that was the operative principle we would agree on, no matter how many Mentors fought over our souls.
It was a weird trip and though Rook changed in some ways, the woman I respect and admire is still there, maybe even more than ever and that she and I proved.
She’s back with Crow. Back with me. Still a bit harrowed, but whole. Told you it takes more to break us.
And it feels so good to be out there together again. I swear to all spirits, even the Barrens seem happy to know that both our boots are back on Glow City’s scorched soil and in search of shiny treasures hidden in the ruins.

While I was literally busy saving the most important soul in my life, the physical world had its own problems.
The Nest, our home, got strongarmed by some Eco-Corp and the Recyclers were about to go on strike.Aislyn’s son got kidnapped, though, so her hands were kinda tied.
So were mine. I would’ve loved the challenge of infiltrating the former Renraku Arcology, but another team took care of that.
Nebraska went with them and they gotCobble out but…
Well, from what I’ve heard, they had their problems and Nebraska almost drove the whole team insane by diligently fucking up every single step along the journey.
Wasn’t there, but I kinda had the feeling that her ambition to become a decker wouldn’t really turn out so good. The whole job seemed batshit crazy, but I reckon there’s some exaggeration involved… maybe. Seen, heard and did crazier things actually, so…

Speaking of Nebraska… ever since Glow City, she… I don’t know… changed. It’s hard to describe. Our bond is still the same, so am I, I guess.
I hope.
It’s like she lost something.
That Arcology job did a number on her as well, like getting dragged through a cactus-field-on-fire-grade.
She broke up with Eric shortly after that, too, so that didn’t really help.
Her self-esteem was at such a low I could sense it through the link without even focusing, but she pulled herself together and started training to be a drone-jockey with some old combat rigger or something. Seems to go as well as you can expect, buuuut…
I mean, that’s not what I’m trying to say. Faceplanting, and trying again is normal. So is fucking up.
The weird thing, the thing that makes me think that something’s, well… wrong, is that it’s like something got cut out and replaced or something. I’m an adept, I say things weirdly, so bear with me.
See, if you enjoyed my previous ramblings, you already know that this girl was never easy to handle. In fact, I know people who’d rather tape a bee hive to their face before they’d actively try to figure out how to handle Nebraska.
But Fog, we already know that, why would you even still whine about this?!
I’m glad you ask.
Her tendency to just do stupid shit got out of hand. Badly and rapidly. On top of that, she’s all talk, all fucking excuses, insecurity and no solid action to back those words up, lately. If she wouldn’t still occasionally substitute proficiency with determination and dangerous half-knowledge, I’d go as far as to say she got replaced by a bug spirit, that’s how alien and out of place her behavior feels sometimes, you know?

But yeah, let’s literally get down to business. We… somehow have an influx of real jobs these days. Like, people want to hire us to do running for them. Seems like we got us some street cred.
Let’s break’em down:

So, that one job we got recently went pretty smooth.
Go to… shit what was that place called? Yacutia or something?
Well, some island in the Bering-Sea to retrieve plutonium from an old Russian lighthouse. Good, clean scavenging job, kindly offered by the Draco Foundation and a test of our skills I guess.
Apart from the usual dangers and fuckery we did really good.
I enjoyed that one. Even got a cool keepsake for my partner. She liked the old hand-cranked lantern.

After that we continued to save our home.
All we needed to do was crack a safe and thereby ironically throw some dirt at the Eco-Corp, so another corp who didn’t care much for our landfill could swoop in and feed on their carcass.
We went in silent and out very, very loud. Nebraska’s new toys came in handy as did the spells and kickass Voudou spirits of our new spellslinger, Sam.
They broke him out of the Arcology and by now I count him as one of our own, as long as he’s responsible with his mind-mojo, that is.
After that gig, though…
Let’s say a certain young woman still has this fucking ninja fetish. I got the whole picture way too late, but while we were cooling down, she started to get excited about someperfectly regular japanese dude, claiming he was a ninja, she knew from the clinic.
We told her to leave him alone.
If he was a ninja, he’d slice her up and I’d have to go all Path-of-Vengeance for her stupid corpse and if not, she would harass some poor dude and Neil would flip his shit like it was Cirque du Soleil if he ever finds out she stalks her patients.
Needless to say, she didn’t listen and that man was an honest to god ninja.
He called me and I… talked to him. The ninja, you heard that right.
We had an awkward moment when I picked up nebraska who tried a B&E at his place and to no one’s surprise failed.
I was grateful he didn’t kill her and think we both were grateful we didn’t have to test who was the greater warrior in pale moonlight or some shit.

For the next job, I put her on the bench because I was just done with this constant drekshow and maybe she’d learn if there were real consequences to her actions.
In that moment, I pondered for a second if it was me. If I somehow let that whole team-captain thing get to my head or if I, after all that drek me and my people went through, got kinda jaded.
Well, only for a second.
She got grounded and we set off to Miami. Another crazy job scavenging mutated jar-babies from an old hospital.
There were pirates, a subnautic dwarf with a chainsaw who sawed a boat in half, three dudes decked in less than 3 seconds by me, some rando who had a heart attack and died while winning the horse race bet of his life, even more pirates and their drones fried by high-mana lightning bolts, a Rusty in distress, several iguana eggs, a hovercraft which now belongs to us and enough pirate’s gold which we sold legitimately to earn us 120k Nuyen.
Per person.
Also, manatees. Got to pet one. So fucking adorable…
What an awesome job, right?! For once, we really hit the jackpot.
You can imagine what a certain benched girl thought about that.

The madness doesn’t stop here, though.
I’m home for, like one fucking week and I get stalked while fishing.
Alright, I can deal with that.
Then, Zach asks me if I’d be willing to headshot him.
Let me explain…
He had a… well, date… with Glaera. And he was terribly afraid she’d abduct him to have another pet Technomancer or something.
Probably rightly so.
Told him to pass on that one, but he was hell-bent on meeting a dragon.
Why are my friends so weird?!
Spirits… so, yeah, Rook and I kept him in the crosshairs, while he had his fancy ass BBQ with our dragon next door.
We kept tabs on their conversation and… well, we had to summon all our composure to not burst with laughter.
Zach kept raving about how awesome and special he was and whenever Glaera as much as tried to change the subject and talk about the Nest and people she was actually interested in, he was almost… puzzled how she was here for anything but him and kept talking about himself.
He’s either a genius, or a moron. There’s never anything in-between with my annoying little surrogate brother.

So, this all started with me getting stalked, but before I can get into that, there was the first ever positively cured Tempo addict, with the fucking plant spirit leaving him alone and all.
Yeah, I kinda negotiated the poor sod out of his predicament. Rook would’ve been fucking proud, but she wasn’t around to see me almost get into a brawl with a category 12+ spirit on our doorstep before I made him an offer too good to reject.
Usually, I’d let Neil handle such matters and he was there, actually. But Tempo killed his de-facto son and that’s still riding his back pretty hard.

After that, we found out we had fans… seems our… errrrm… various recorded stunts and escapades attracted an enthusiastic audience. They came to see us in person… nice kids, I guess, but since we’re sort of professional criminals, we told’em to keep it down… or something. I let Zach handle the details.
The stalker, right…

The next, and most recent job was commissioned by… military AIs. Combat bots, to be precise.
They wanted out of the whole military deal, it seems and they seem pretty fucking adept at keeping a low profile. It took me a solid week to track one of them and I’m not completely sure he didn’t just let me find him in the end.
Called himself Tim and needed us to get some parts so he and his three buddies would stay in operating condition.
Turned out they became fans of our antics as well and correctly deducted that we’d help anyone with a good enough sap-story.
Of course, I had to tell everyone what they were in for, when I took the job.
Stan wasn’t keen on helping robots, everyone else was basically on board and I’m pretty certain Zach was so jazzed and overjoyed that he defragmented into his digital pants the moment he heard ‘AIs in distress’. He’s really downright creepy when it comes to those subjects.
This was another silent in, very loud out-job.
I never, ever had so many bullets stuck in my suit. For the first time in my life, I had to pop a stim pack to stay in the game.
That was definitely an experience and the cops I knocked out or those who surrendered didn’t seem to be too sore losers… so, no hard feelings over a few broken ribs, bruises and another scar for Zach who, admittedly almost saw the light.

After that hasty display of crisis management, decent improvisation and another successful job I’m really down for a vacation.
I need to reflect on a couple of things and just… be on the road for a while.
Scandinavian Union seems nice and my partner is on board.
She seems to know a lot about foreign places and told me there’s all kinds of stuff, from giant awakened forests to remnants of the Euro War we can check out for shinies.
I’ll leave the team in Zach’s capable hands, if they get any jobs… never thought I’d say this… but as the rest of us, he came a long way during that last year we’ve faced all this insane stuff together.
Here’s to hoping no one sinks the ship while I’m gone…

Alright, system cleaned, ramblings finished.
I should do this more often…
[End Audio]

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Private Puggles
Masayuki's Log

There is no such thing as a milk run – that may be a cliché, but one you ignore at your own risk. When I looked over our job offers, I could see so many problems with each one of them. Holding people hostage for an undetermined length of time – that one was an instant no. Capturing a road train that had already been taken over by another runner team – not without a rigger on the team.

And then there was Private Puggles. 14k for kidnapping a pug. Only an idiot would assume that this would be as easy as the description made it sound, but we needed the money and it was the best of the three. No immediate problems came up when I asked for some more details, so we accepted. After some legwork we knew that Private Puggles belonged to Mr. Jameson, the most boring person imaginable who works for a data processing firm. He goes to work from nine to five and then takes Private Puggles for a walk. At ten in the evening, he goes to bed. That’s it, no private life or hobbies that we could see. The pug has a dog sitter who takes him for a walk in the morning.

We decided to steal the pug while he got taken for his walk in Squak Mountain because for long stretches, no-one else would be around. The dog sitter wasn’t much of a problem after a dose of narcoject and neither was Private Puggles – Lazy Dragon had conjured up a spirit who made him levitate. I had no intention of chasing a pug through the woods. While Ran kept an eye on the dogsitter, Lazy Dragon and I delivered the pug to our employer. A witch living on a dingy houseboat in Everett who seemed pleased to get her hands on the dog.

We went out for dinner and talked a bit afterwards at the apartment when someone rang the doorbell. Mr. Jameson had somehow found us and very calmly stated that we had his dog. I asked him in so he could convince himself that we did not, in fact, have the dog. Lazy Dragon took one look at him and informed me that we had messed with a free spirit. Which is in general a spectacularly bad idea.

I don’t see any reason to stay loyal to an employer who keep such crucial details about a job to herself, so I readily agreed to exchange 15k for the address of the witch who seemed to have some kind of history with Mr Jameson. Plus I handed him the 14k to give back to her. We agreed to mutually forget that we had met and we got paid after Jameson had called his bank to arrange overdrawing his account.

He was on his way out of the door when he turned back and said that someone has kidnapped his pug and maybe we could help? I told him that I had no idea who would do such a thing, but that for 25k, we would be happy to try and get the dog back. In the end, we agreed on 20k and Jameson’s help if or better when the witch would try to mess with us. I don’t know if this was the most intelligent course of action, but the money is too good to turn down. Or rather the jewels, because Mr Jameson and I made a pact and he more or less conjured up jewels from thin air. And yes, they do last and will not vanish at sunset.

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Night on Fire
Masayuki's Log

We’ve been laying low for the last couple of days at a motel in Snohomish, but we need money, so I started looking for work in our area of expertise. There were a couple of jobs to chose from, but one stood out as paying rather well and involving only sabotage. Mr. Johnson required us to let a shipping container vanish before it could be unloaded. I got the impression that the freight was either drugs or weapons, but I didn’t require to know for sure for the job.

In light of recent events, we also looked for magical support. From a short list of candidates, we picked a young woman who is only just starting her shadow career. She calls herself Lazy Dragon and is a conjurer. She also is blind, but on the whole, that seems to be not much of a problem with astral sight. Ran and Seiji acquired some HE grenades and weapons from one of our caches. Well. Not our caches anymore. No matter. I did a quick retcon of the pier where the Chance Whore was going to berth, almost got into trouble with the security guard, but he wasn’t about to make his job any harder and just let me have a visitor pass.

After the ship arrived, the crew left and only six mercenaries were left guarding the ship. Ran sabotaged the lights and we made quick work of the men. Lazy Dragon’s support came in very handy, first with overpowering their mage and then with opening the container. I had not thought to buy a maglock sequencer, so we made to with a cutting torch and a fire spirit. Between the spirit and a couple of HE grenades, the contents of the container did not stand much of a chance and by the time the ammunition started to explode, we were well on our way off the ship and out of the port. DocWagon kindly supplied us with a diversion.

LazyDragon was a bit too excited for my taste by the whole run and by the fact that we are ninjas. But she did well and I would definitely take her along on other runs in the future. I told her that being a ninja is just a job like any other … not exactly the truth, but it’s better not to feed that kind of enthusiasm.

We have rented an apartment in Renton now, not a part of the city where the Yakuza has a strong presence. There is a good-sized Asian community here, Koreans and Vietnamese mainly, so we will not stand out that much. It’s surprisingly hard to get used to living together like this, under these circumstances and nerves are a bit frayed. But I trust that we will adapt and make the best of our new life. I feel very much responsible for Ran and Seiji. They are capable and can look after themselves, I’m not questioning that and I trust them. Still. They look to me for guidance and I feel the pressure of it like I rarely did before.

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Danny's
Colm O'Higgins' Log

There’s been talk all over town about some data the Yakuza is chasing. No word about what’s it exactly, but they’re very eager to get their hands no it.

I was delighted to see the data walk right up to me – I have no idea how Father O’Malley got involved in this and I’m not going to ask. But he offered to trade the chip for fake SINs, free travel to the NAN and some spending money for himself and his friends. Plus, his debts will be voided. We can do that, even though they’re not the most inconspicuous group. Apart from Father O’Malley, there’s Marshall Grant (and won’t some of my guys love THAT), a Japanese girl who was the one who got their hands on the data and a ghoul. Well. We’re famous for offering equal opportunities and he seems pretty mellow for a ghoul.

Since I’m buying a pig in a sack – it’s not like I can check all the data for its worth – I asked them to clean up Danny’s Bar and Grill for me. Danny’s not moving on this and I’m not so hot on sending in my own people. Danny’s is bad luck these days. They should be able to handle themselves. Father O’Malley used to hunt vampires. And if they can’t .. well, I haven’t lost all that much. The data would be nice to have, but much of it is up to eighteen months old and I don’t know how useful it still is.

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Insurance

Slicer’s busy chopping vegetables in the kitchen
So that was kinda weird. I’m still trying to find out what happened back in Afghanistan and Chuck told me that the widow of Lieutenant Baker was living in Boston. Doing pretty well for the wife of a soldier who’s only MIA. The benefits are not all that generous even when you’re KIA and since she’s not some heiress or shit, this is suspicious.

Rusty was flying over to Boston anyway with Líng, so Frettchen and I tagged along. I don’t know what Rusty’s doing, but he needed to get Firefox into a hospital. So Frettchen waltzes in, demanding that they do an artificial insemination for her. On her. Whatever. With that guy he points at himself she just picked up on the street because, damn, he’s strong and stuff and what more does a woman need? While everyone is staring at her in complete shock and people are trying to explain that no, she doesn’t get to do a handjob on me even if things WERE so easy, I hook up with one of their copy machines and get Firefox into the system. No-one thinks about building a firewall for a copy machine, right?

I don’t know if this worked out, none of my fucking business. Frettchen and I had called Baker’s wife and she was really happy to meet one of the boys. Talked a lot about her husband and she had tons of photos and shit. She told me that her money comes from a sort of insurance deal her husband had. Like fuck. If she knows anything, she’s a world-class actress. I mean, she kinda knows that deals like that don’t exist, but she doesn’t want to think about it. I get the feeling that she’s happier with the money and her husband’s memory that she’d be with the actual man. Can’t say I blame her, he was a cold bastard.

We went out of there with a bottle of scotch and the name of some general. Next trip will be to Washington, if I can figure out a way to reach the man. Can’t call him up to just chat. And I don’t give a flying fuck for my chances if anyone finds out that I got nosy. Anyway, we shared the bottle with a couple of homeless vets we met on the way back to the hotel and that was a pretty good end to the day.

He reaches out to turn off the recording and the last thing heard is Frettchen yelling from the next room if Slicer knows where they can buy a grand piano and some rocket fuel for cheap.

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A Grave Matter
Father Phil's diary

Today, a rather strange man came by the church. He introduced himself as Dr. Munroe, apparently he works at the clinic in Snohomish, the one with the soup kitchen. He also told me that he is a shaman, but for that I have to take his word, of course.

He wished to tell me that a friend of his sent a spirit to our cemetery. If his story is to be believed, the spirit was banished from the Arcology, has lost most of its powers and now has to spend seven weeks at the cemetery before the banishment loses its power. The spirit is not exactly friendly, but as Dr. Munroe assured me, too weak to be more than a nuisance at worst. And there is a chance that it will learn to behave itself while it’s here, that the positive atmosphere of the cemetery will have an effect on it. If the spirit proves to be too much trouble, Dr. Munroe promised that another solution could be found.

I am not sure whether I believe any of this. I still haven’t ruled out the possibility that this is some kind of con or that the good doctor simply is a few sandwiches short of a picknick. He seemed to honestly believe every word he said. Maybe we could ask Mr. Ryder to take a look around the cemetery? I would like to know for sure. If this all really is true and the spirit does not harm anyone, I am inclined to let it stay.

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Ninja for hire
Masayuki's Log

I knew this day would come, sooner or later. Maybe I should have left on my own terms, but loyalty is a hard habit to break. I do have much to be grateful for and it always counted more than the snide remarks or outright contempt.

I’m not completely sure that this was a setup, but even if it wasn’t, I do know that my career, if not my life, would be over if I went back. It wasn’t an easy job in any case: bring back a sleeper assassin who had gone rogue. Without knowing she is an assassin. I don’t know the details – and that was the first warning sign – but it seems she had been arrested by a federal Marshall, had escaped custody, had been picked up by a priest and a ghoul and all three of them were not working with the Marshall again.

It took me ages to get a trace, our mages are all busy with the Tempo war and here was the next warning sign – if this was so important, why did we not get magical support even though the priest is a mage, too? My people are excellent at what they do, but magic is always a problem.

What I did get were the codewords to activate the sleeper and to make her defend herself against anyone who is not Yakuza. That should have worked in our favour. Finding our targets was not much of a problem with the magical trace and we got to them just when they were trying to get into their cars.

I activated the sleeper and gave orders to kill or at least knock out the priest. Our orders were to bring the sleeper back, the others were not important. Two minutes later, two of my people were dead, two unconscious and the rest of us broke off the attack. There was no way we could win that fight. Not with the sleeper working against us. I don’t know if those people managed to break her programming or if this was deliberate on the part of my principals, but I suspect the latter.

Ran, Seiji, Yugo and I got away. Yugo went back to fulfill his code of honour, but the rest of us decided that we would like to live a bit longer, if possible. Which remains to be seen.

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The Halls Without Lights

And so, the smugglers led the company into the prison. A place with bright candles that shed no warmth and walls that forbid any sun and daylight from the prisoners who lived here.
Unnerving mirages and eerie music dulled their senses, clawing into ears, eyes and minds.
Still, countless souls tried to hold on to a semblance of life and thus the first thing the company saw was another marketplace.
Time was not their ally, so they made haste, but with haste came commotion, when the Sage and the Girl of Too Many Words picked fights with the bandits ruling various floors of the massive prison.
Some were bribed, some were decisively pummeled and it was easy to see that the company’s journey upwards would be a long one.
At least, they had a clear direction, since theSpirit followedCobble’s tracks with a keen nose and by reading the prison’s memories.
She also found the home of an Unseen Man, who was part of their reforged deal. He expected a package, and they would deliver it. An underling of this reclusive wizard told the Spirit they’d even meet up with them several stories below their own, to spare them some trouble.
This was good news, however, the Girl of Too Many Words became sadder with every floor the company ventured through:
She couldn’t bear the injustice brought upon the common folk by bandit lords and their brutish enforcers.
The Girl of Too Many Words wanted to give them a taste of their own medicine, balance things out through violence, if necessary.
A sentiment the Spirit understood all too well.
Oh, how she tried to leave the avenger behind, but the memories of violence and cruelties unpunished seeping through the thick stone made it a difficult endeavor for the fallen guardian.
This place yearned for a vengeful spirit like her, someone who settled the scores for those who could not.
The Spirit promised her friend The Dog, however. She promised to find balance.
She heeded the call of the Girl of Too Many Words, but there was no blood spilled.
At night, she visited the Bandit Lord with promises of pain and suffering, should he choose to keep bleeding out his subordinates.
Promises he took very serious, for spirits are known to keep their word.
And so, the next morning started with smiles.

This didn’t last, however.
The stairs lead them to a dark place, halls without light, where outcasts, even among the criminals, were sent on their last journey.
With one of those outcasts, a Crestfallen Man accused of murder, the company braved the gloom resonating with atrocities of the past.
The Spirit objected, but the others did not want to leave a fellow man behind.
It didn’t take long until the sinister whispers of these lightless halls clawed into the company’s mind.
They hissed of treachery and distrust, fleeting phantoms feeding dark thoughts.
To the Spirit, however, they offered temptations of might and former glory, the solace of embracing the sweet poison that made her so much more powerful than in her chosen place caught between the things she was and wanted to be again.
For now, she could resist.
They were whispers, nothing more. Lures laid out by ravenous shadows skulking the corridors.
The company made it through the day, but they needed rest.
Weighed down by sorrow and carefully planted fear, they found some respite under the barrier the Spirit summoned for shelter.
The shadows of past atrocities grew impatient, angry, banged at the protective magic until it collapsed.
But the company was already on its way again.
Whatever hope the Spirit had, it fell apart with the will of her companions. She stretched herself too thin by trying to protect them, and thus she, too started to believe the hall’s lies.
She lead them astray, disappeared and decided it was time to let the halls have their prey.
She was better off alone, anyway, right?
These people were holding her back.
Paranoia among the Girl of Too Many Words, the Troubled Sage and the Disgraced Bandit had been sown and now it was time to reap violence.
The Sage lay in ambush, the Girl tried to escape, ready and eager to shoot her way out of this.
The Bandit, used to a life of combat and hardship, did not take chances when the Crestfallen Man crossed his path in desperate fury.
The flailing murderer was no match for him and with a gnashing crack and the spray of crimson blood, his cursed iron arm ended the Crestfallen Man’s life.
The Halls Without Light got what they craved.
But their hunger was not yet satiated.
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