Campaign of the Month: November 2014

Shadowrun - The Rat's Nest

The Tootsie Snuff Case

Personal Log - R. Kowalski, PI

Simlog #14, recorded by Babsie

Title blinking “Molly’s Corner”

Heavy sleet leaving slush on the pavement. She’s looking down, fighting for her balance. Feet are feeling wet and cold. A corner with a lantern. A couple of shrill colored girls, hanging around. Some are hiding under the awning of a pizzaria, eating a pizza. Short skirts, warm jackets, naked legs or heavy use of fishnets to keep their legs warm.

They look up. One recognizes her. “Hey, sweetheart. The baby-prossies are downstreet. This is for real women.” The others turn around. “Ah. I know that fairy. Isn’t this little Babsie?” Her hand raises greeting. “Ja. Hey.” “Nice outfit, baby. If you don’t show your meat fish won’t bite. Just saying.”

One of the pimps that lean at the wall start moving. A young Orc, colored something hispano, wearing colors of Crimson Crush. “Chiquita, this not your corner. Wanna work? You work for me, comprendre?” “Can it, Loco”, one of the girls interrupts him. “She has already a daddy. This bonebreaker, Kowalski. He broke bones of a couple of girls, haven’t you heard it? Heavy hitter.” “I no fear this Kowalski, Marbles. Who’s your daddy?”

“I’m not here for streetwalkin’. I’m here to help find out what happened to Molly.” “Dead hooker. That’s what happened.” “Where?” “You know Dumpster Avenue?” “I know. Suck dick alley.” “Right there. In one of the dumpsters. Yesterday. Fucked up the biz, baby. You sure you not work for me? Good condition.” “Thanks. Got a job. And I’m renegade. Independent.” "Better that, baby. You’re girl. I do no kiddie prossies. Just real women. "
[end recording]

Simlog #15, recorded by Babsie

Title blinking “Molly’s Corner, Sidealley”

She’s eating a pizza, the taste is awful artificial. Heavy bitter taste of flavor enhancer, soydough, thin tomatoe aroma and cheese. But she is enjoying it. Sitting on a closed loading bay together with the girl ‘Marbles’. Chewing she asks: “You know Molly?” “Gosh, yeah. We were…”, and she was crossing fingers. “Ya know.” “What happened? What’ya think? A john?” “Guess so.” “Seen one?” “Baby, Molly was a straight worker. She had three or four regulars. Lot of drop-ins.” “So she made big money, Marbles? Princess?” “Nah. She was slacking recently.” “What was it?” “Her cough got worse. Coughed blood. Stayed home.” “She had family?” Marbles was shaking her head. “Two kids, taken by the system.” “She sniffed?” “Bliss of course. Nobody at her age can stand it just with sniffing Novacoke. Was using four packets a day. At least.” “Dealer?” "Raven. He’s got the best crank around, you know yourself, baby." “Guess so. Is it her?”

Her hand moves into view, holding her commlink up and a photo of the girl. Orc looking like forty-five. “That’s her. I guess she had TB.” “Tuberculosis?” “The resistant one, yeah. Poor girl. Tomorrow she’s been twenty-three. Was hooked and running the street since two years or so. Everybody would have snuffed long ago, but ya know? We orcs are tougher. Made for this shit, they say.” She spat on the pavement. “You know where she lived?” “You know the washing center around the block?” “Ya, the one that got battered a few days ago? With that shithead using Nitro or shit?” “In the side alley to the right you find a fire escape to the roof. She was living up there. Only been there a few times. Bringing her medicine and crank. It’s the box behind the airduct.” “Okay.” “You really think, you find her killer?” “I’ll try.” “You get paid for that?” “Ja.” “Who?” “Clients are confidential.” Marbles started to laugh a rattling laughter. “Hey, young thing. You got attitude. Don’t get cocky with me, no?”

But Marbles smiled and the feel of smiling was in her face too. “I like you little fey.” “Don’t call me that nigger.” The girls laughed. “Okay. You haven’t seen her at the curb in the night she vanished?” “Nah.” Marbles turned. “Shit! The cops! Frisk and fucked. Run!”

Jumping from the ledge, running. She was turning her head around, a police car driving around the corner. “Stop! Or we open fire!” Diving into a side alley. Fighting against garbage. A spotlight behind them, lightening the alley in black and white light and shadows. A chainlink fence. “Fuck!”, Marbles yells. “I’m too heavy for that. Girl, come on, we don’t need both get frisked and fucked. I give you a boost.”

“Stop! Hands to the wall!” Babsie puts her hand into the leg-up of Marbles. “I owe you one for that, nigger.” “Forget it. Just run!” She jumps on the fence, glides over it, falls into some bags of garbage on the other side. She slides from the wet smear on them, that the rain on it has become. Turns around, Marbles with her hands to the wall, two cop-shadows with flashlights running into the alley. She runs.
[end recording]

Simlog #16, recorded by Babsie

Title blinking “Molly’s Home, washing-center rooftop”

The smell of the back-alley is overwhelming. Rotting wet waste, acid smalling rain and human feces mix together with the damp soap and bite of chemicals from the washing center, which waste waters just wash down unfiltered into the sewers. She climbs on a dumpster, jumps to a hanging ladder, which starts to move down. Her hands hanging on the lowest rung. The rust hurts and bites into the skin of her hands, then she starts to climb.

It goes up stair after stairs, passing windows that are nailed up with boards or the green polylaminate of electric circuit boards. Some are painted black, one has papers and aluminium foil glued behind the brittle plastic of the windows. Someone has put up potted plants on the windowsills. A cat is sitting on one of the stairs, watching her. Carefully she starts to ruffle her hair and she starts to purr. Pigeons coo somewhere above her. The cat stops purring, hisses and starts to prey on the pigeons.

Babsie walks by and gets on the top floor, five tiers under her she spots a few squatters diving a dumpster deeper back in the alley. A dog is barking. Her eyes have perfectly adapted to the night. From a nearby pub voices can be heared, someone is playing music from a ghettoblaster. Shouting somewhere, some martial dispute. Behind the last windows a couple is having sex. A rusty ladder is leading to the roof.

She starts to climb it. Sleety rain dripping down from a dark sky and her hands feel cold and wet. Her new parka is warm. Her boots new, she feels some sore spots in them.

Her head pops over the roof edge, a wood of antennas, satellite dishes, cables, water reservoirs, rotting solar panels that are covered with grease and moss, chimneys and air-ducts. A flock of pigeons fly up, then sat down a few meters away, using a tarp as cover from the rain.

Her eyes fly left, right. Signs of people living up here. Clotheslines, tarps biwacs in their shadows, two neon-colored iglu-tents and the smell of fire in the air. A voice behind her. “What do you do here?” She spins on the spot. Behind her a bulky orc with a pipe in both hands. “Hey”, she says, holding up her hand in defense. “I’m looking for Molly.” “Who are you? Never seen you!”, bellows the orc and she can smell bad breath and worse teeths. “I’m Babsie. A friend of Marbles.” “Marbles? The troll?” “No. That orc girl. This height”, she shows it. “Very bulky.” “The transvestite?” “Trans? No, she was a girl. Maybe …uh… transvestite?!” Now the orc starts to laugh. “You got nerves coming up here alone. Without invitation. You didn’t see Marbles was a dude?” “No. She was a girl.” He laughed. “Marbles.” “Ah. And I thought it was”, her hands move in front of her breasts. Which were not so large as her movements and well covered by her parka.

“So, what do you want, Babsie? And don’t shit me.” “I try to find out, how snuffed her.” “You girl? You hardly can protect yourself. What would you do, if I hit you with the pipe?” “I’d die, I think.” The orc lowers his weapon. “Com’on, girl. Get under the tarp, no need to stand in the rain.”

He leads her under a tarp that is put up between some ducts and a chimney. Warm air from the duct is making it comfortable, but it stinks like burning rubber. The orc coughs. “I’m Sweep. Sit down. Hot coffee?” “Real soykaf? Or sock-kaf?” “Real coffee. Got it from a deli department store near Bellevue. You just gotta know how to come around, girl. There’s gold in the dumpsters. Especially the rich folks throw things away that are perfectly good.”

He washes a mug, cleans it with towel and holds it over a flame to warm heat it up. “Desinfection”, he explains, “and the coffee is better served in a hot mug.” He pours in some hot steaming black liquid. It smells funny, tickling in her nose. She sneezes. He laughs. “First time you smell the real stuff?” “Don’t know. Real stuff?” He hands her the mug. “Try.” The smell is mindbending intense. She just holds it in her hands, her nose sniffing. “It’s not soapy!?” “No of course not. It’s real coffee. Caffee do Amazonia. You know, girl? I was a real barista. Before the coffee plants were dying. And the machines were doing it. In times it was a culture.”

She concentrats on sipping her coffee. “Yay. That’s stunning. I can really feel my heart pounding already.” He smiles. “This, girl, is the real deal.” “How. I mean how do you get this? It’s fucking awesome!” “They throw it away. Expiration date. The rich folks just throw it away. You have to dive to dumpsters of course.” “I’m good at dumpster diving.” He laughs. “A girl like you? No. You are just a kid. You have no idea how to look, where to look. Ask me. I know where to find the real stuff.” “And Molly?” His mood goes downhill rapidly. “It’s a shame. She was so young. And she was a good cook. We will miss her.” “We?” “Me and the others. We live like a family. But the girl, you know. She was on bliss. Bad habit. You got a habit?” “I got clean.” He looks at her. “Clean? You have to get off the street, girl. Or you don’t stay clean.” “I have a job.” He frowns, but says nothing, nipps his coffee. “That’s not a job. It’s a good way to the grave. Look at Molly. What a waste.” “No, I’m not streetwalkin’. Not any more. It’s a real job.” “You shot bliss, too? No. Novacoke. Sometimes.” She pauses. “Often. But it’s over. I’m over it.” “How long?”

She starts to count with her fingers. “Twenty-two days. Twenty-three with this day.” “Got help?” “A friend of mine. I crashed at his place.” “Keep it that way, girl. The stuff breaks you. It killed Molly.” “No, I think she was snuffed by someone.” She looks up, suddenly attentive. “Why do you care? I have never seen you here. Not when she was sick. When she was on cold turkey. You didn’t know her.” “No. I didn’t.”

She finishes her mug. “Can I have second?” He laughs. “Okay, I fill your mug up and you talk, why you are here, girl. Why an fifteen year old elven girl is looking for an orc hooker.” “I’m eighteen.” “Yeah, right. Tell me.”

“I’m paid to find out who is killing streetgirls around here.” “Paid? Who?” “Am not allowed to tell. Clients are private. I’m an private investigator.” He laughs. “Yeah, right. You are nosy, yes. You’re a bit cocky and I like you. But you’re not that hard-boiled type of snoop that is working that job.” “That’s the trick. I’m working for a man that is that kind of guy.” “Aha.” But he sounds more amused than angry. “And it’s working?”

“Better than backflatting, I say. No need for drugs to keep doing it.” “Hm”, he grumbles. “True. Keep that way, girl. I like you.” “So, Marbles said she was slacking lately?” “She got sicker. Needed meds, crank. Wasn’t ready for streetwalking. She sold some stuff to get money. That was last time, I had seen her.” “Stuff?” He shrugged. “Found stuff. From dumpsters, tourists, johns. Personal stuff maybe. She didn’t tell.” “Where?” “Antiquities and Oddities. I give you the address. Gimme your link, I show you.” He types on the map. “Here. It’s also a pawn shop.” “A fence?” “Whatever. He gives money for goods. I don’t fence. No need. City provides everything. Hungry?”

“I have eaten a pizza.” He just laughs. “I mean real stuff, not that Italian soy-surrogate. It must be ready.” He opens a small stove, not more than a rolled sheet of metal, pulls out something in aluminium foil with a stick. He unfolds it. Overwhelming smell of meat and fruit. “Filled pigeon.” “Pigeon? You mean air-rat?” He looks annoyed. “They are my children. I raise them, feed them, harvest them when they are ripe. They are no air-rats, girl. They are sublime beings. They represent finesse, panache, just everything. They are beautiful creatures of heaven.” “And you eat them.” “Everything ends back in the food chain sometimes. So, do you like one? It’s filled with fruits.” She sniffs and it really smells overwhelming good.

“No would be impolite?” He laughs and hands her some of it on a plate, that he had heated up on top of the stove. “It’s hot. Be careful.”

They stop talking and the lush bird tastes so wonderful, that she forgets about anything else for a while. The fruit is cooked inside and dripping over her chin. “Fuck me sideways. That’s unbelievable.” But she soon has the feeling of being full. “I can’t anymore. Now I’m stuffed.” She was cleaning her chin, wiping with the back of her hand over it. “Did Molly have any enemies?” “Competition. No enemies I know off. Nobody cares about an orc hooker junkie.”

He finished his bird. “Can you show me her place? Maybe there is something pointing to the reason of her murder?” “I can. But not much to show. She had everything she owned with her. You live that way. Maybe she had a hidden stash somewhere, but I don’t know where.”

She followed him around a corner. She was housing in a cardbox. A bed of layered card-boxes, a door of a piece of plastic. A dirty rug. Splatters of blood on the floor and the walls. A broken syringe. Emptied packets of bliss, in funny prime colors. Like kids toys. Smell of drugs and vomit. She quickly pulls her head out, she is feeling dizzy, tripping backwards. Trying to grab to the slippery wall. Sweep catching her, before she falls. “What’s up?” “Thanks. No problem. Just dizzy for a moment.” She’s feeling sick, her hands shaking. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”

He catches air, breathing deep and slowly. “Just dizzy, okay?” “Girl. Stay away from places like that one.” “It’s okay. I have it under control. Really.” “You don’t say so.” “Thanks, Sweep. Nice to meet you. I really have to leave now, okay?” “Are you sure you are okay?” “I’m okay.”

The rain is washing down from above. She’s climbing down the stairs. “You can come and visit us, if you like. I tell the others, that you’re okay. Babsie, right?” “Babsie. Oh. Here is my card.” She handles Kowalskis card. “If you find out something, please give me a call.” “Call?” He laughs. “Okay, I have your address. Watch your back, girl. I like you. But be careful out there.”

After she had climbed down the steps, she meets the cat again. Pigeon feathers washing down the grating. The cat is looking fat and she sits down beside the pet on the stairs, rubbing her carefully. The cat purrs. Her hands are shaking, she silently cries, then sniffs and rubs the tears and snot away.
[end recording]

Simlog #17, recorded by Babsie

She is talking to herself, walking down the streets of night-time Touristville. She passes under a ‘Jesus saves you’ blinking neon sign. Little Jesus kids in white tunica and Marias in tunica, but shorter try to give any passerby a flyer.

“Molly was living on the roof over the washing center, where that madman was going postal on Nitro. She was a male Orc transvestite. Or transgender? She was shooting bliss and was on several doses a day. She had TB, the bad kind.” “Hey baby, wanna fun?” She evades a couple of drunken men. “You look like fun. Dance and show your legs, baby!” She’s showing a fuck you finger. “She was on cold turkey the evening she died. In need to pawn some stuff, then go to Raven to get her fix. Somewhere then she was killed. Or robbed and killed. Need to find out if drugs or money were found on her. Can’t walk into a police station, can I?”

She bites on her lip. “I think I need a break. Just checking the kiddie quarter downroad. Fairy Fay and Annie were working there. I knew them. Before that the place where Molly was found then call it a night, Suck Alley, Dumpster Drive.”
[end recording]

Simlog #18, recorded by Babsie, Suck Alley/Dumpster Drive

The shadows are deep. The streetlights broken. Very few people on the street. A parking lot on the left, dumpsters on the right with cars parking. A few cars moving rhythmically, silent Rumba Synth Pop mix from some of the upper appartements. Mostly warehouses and loading docks. She glides from shadow to shadow until some yellow tape flutters in the wind. The sleet still falling and drumming on her hood.

She knees down, there are washed chalk marks on the ground behind the dumpster. An arm. She lifts the hatch, is looking inside. A car is a few dozen meters away, but the windows are tinted. She jumps up and is looking inside. More chalking. She glides down, the hatch closes over her.

It’s totally black, the drumming of the sleet on the dumpster is making a brassy noise. The point of a flashlight is going on. She starts searching for things. The stink is overwhelming. Finally she puts on her smog-protection filter. The stink remains in her nose.

With one hand she holds the light, in the other hand she unsnaps a switchblade, starts pushing things aside with it, avoiding used needles. “Cops don’t look in dumpsters. Not for a dead hooker.” The sound is muffled by the damp and closes space and her mask. “What am I looking for?” Some broken commlinks. She checks them quickly, clips them open, takes out the chip. “Three chips from commlinks”, she logs. “This must have been where the rest of the body was found.” It’s stinking chemical, as she turns the bleach. She makes photos with her commlink from the rest of the comms she leaves. “A silver bracelet. A kind of necklace. A shoe.” Something moves. “A fucking rat.” She picks up the bracelet and collar, puts it into her pocket, makes a last photo. The red eyes of a very very big rat staring at her.

In panic she pushes up the hatch, puts the lamp away, climbs out as fast as she can, her feet struggle to get a grip on the metal of the container. “Fuck!” The rat squeaks behind her, she feels something attacking her boot. Then she rolls out. World turning over.

“What do we have here?” A hand packs her at her neck and presses her on the ground. Flashlight blinding her. “Rico, look what I’ve found on a crime scene. You fuckin’ better stop moving, little girl.” He presses her face into the mud. The man with the flashlight is standing a few meters away. “Check her for weapons. It’s a little junkie whore. Beware of needles, Sonny.” “Let’s see, what we have.” Hands start to touch her legs, grab between them. “She’s wet as a drowned street rat.” The men laugh.

Strips fasten around her wrists, hurting badly. They turn her around. “Look who we got here. Ah. Isn’t that Virgils underage elven slut?” “I think we can spare this one the Miranda, do we?” Sonny laughs. She sees the silhouettes of two police officers. Light shining into her face. “What are you looking for, little girl? This isn’t your place.” They pull her up and a friendly smack with a club hits her into her side. It blacks for a second when the stick hits and air rushes out of her lungs. She can’t breath.

“You are arrested for violating a crime scene, little lady. We take you in.” Tears in her eyes and she hardly can stand on her feet. They take her around the corner. A police car waiting. They put her over the hood, face to the hard metal. “Frisk her.” “Little girl, do you like us to take you in or do you prefer to take us in, eh?” They laugh dirty. “Don’t mess around with her, just check her. That’s an expensive ticket, little lady, you got here. Maybe we even to a holiday in Hollywood for you for that one!”

A shooting nearby. A shot, then quickly another three. They duck. “Shit. Where was that?” “Up there! Over the parking lot. See?” Sonny presses her to the ground. “You don’t move, little shit. We come back and we gotta ask you what that was about.” “We know your corner, little girl. So better don’t make us search for you, eh?” “Cover you! Go go go!” “Fuck!”

The cops start to run over the street. Babsie is lying for a moment on the pavement behind the car, then gets on her knees and fights against the ties. Suddenly they break. “Freeze! Police!”, Sonny shouts good way over the lot. She freezes and looks around. But they don’t mean her. So she ducks and starts to run, her wrists hurting, trying to stay in cover of the shadows.

After she escaped around the edge, she just runs as fast as she can. She slips and falls, rolls over the rough street topping, gets tumbling on her feet, runs. “Fuck you!”, she turns half around.

Then she dives into a side alley.
[end recording]

Simlog #19, recorded by Babsie

She is watching herself in the mirror. It’s the toilet room from the agency office. A first aid kit on a chair. She checks her wounds. Bruises and scratches mostly. “Ouch!”, she curses, when she tries to disinfect them and fails. Something gets into her eyes. So she washes her face first, dries it, tries it again. Her hands are shaking but finally she puts on the artificial skin-spray. “Fuck me sideways!” It burns like hell. “Assholes.”
[end recording]

Simlog #20, recorded by Babsie

She’s lying on the couch. It’s torn down to a bed, she sniffs on her skin. It’s smelling like soap. Her clothes are brushed out and hung out to dry on a clothes line across the room. She’s staring at the ceiling. “What the fuck was this with these fucking moron cops?” She is talking to herself. “Since when do the cops care about a dead hooker?! Okay. I call it a day.” She activates the clock in her vision field, it’s showing after four o’clock in the morning in red neon letters.
Her body hurts but she’s on adrenaline, not feeling as bad as she looks. “At least it’s not boring. And fucking better than banging some shitty wankers from Bellevue.” Her eyes flutter. Yawning and she is fighting for consciousness. “I can’t think straight anymore for tonight. If you read this, Kowalski you…”
[end recording]

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