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

December 2071

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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Grossly Incandescent
A Knight's Tale

Solaire of Haven felt like a stranger in the new Matrix. So much had changed and the sprite’s code still needed some adjusting to the new protocols. The uncanny ripples, the feeling of being watched and the absence of warriors, trained or untrained was… unsettling, to say the least. The Net seemed cleaner, more sterile but also more comfortable for the innocent.
Yet also so terribly unprepared for the lurking threats beneath. If even the proud spires of Haven could be defiled, what chance would these people stand on their own?
The Paladin left this stream of unpleasant thoughts when he sensed someone was in danger. A feeling that came naturally to the protector.
A blink later, his persona appeared in front of a huge, blocky building with heraldry he did not recognize. The black skies of the Matrix had parted and a radiant beam shot towards a stumbling denizen of this new Matrix, his icons collapsing around him.
Following his instincts, the knight instantly towered in front of the badly beaten persona and burning radiance washed harmlessly over his mighty shield.
Solaire broke the LinkLock preventing the Decker from fleeing with ease and glanced over his shield to see who would use such brutal force without even showing himself to his adversary.
By all that was holy, this poor sod had nothing but a Novatech Navigator to defend himself!
“Seek safety, young friend! T’is not a time for jolly cooperation! Begone, I will deal with this!”, he proclaimed and the visibly confused Decker vanished from the Grid, when another persona appeared on the scene.
A fellow in a wide brimmed hat and a long, brown coat. They sported a weapon named a Tommy Gun and their face was obstructed in shadows. The persona’s code oozed with the confidence of a lawman, but also the glee of an unsportsmanlike hunter who more than outgunned his prey.
“I must warn you, Sirrah, t’is not a fight you should seek!”, the Paladin sprite stated calmly, shield still raised and spear pointed at the Grid Overwatch agent.
Without further warning, he opened fire, sending destructive code towards the sprite.

The fight was short and somewhat brutal. In face of such honorless behavior, Solaire did not hold back. However, this was not about obliteration, but about a lesson.
The Overwatch agent was speared to the ground, squirming and having a taste of his own, link-locking medicine.
“A knight…”, he told the persona at his mercy in a solemn voice, “… is sworn to valor. His heart knows only virtue.”
The Paladin paced towards him, ignorant of the many bystanders who witnessed their duel and were captivated between astonishment and fear.
“His blade defends the helpless and his might upholds the meek… His word speaks only truth…”
The knight firmly gripped his spear, eyes behind the helmet locked with the shadowy counterfeit of the Overwatch decker. “And his wrath undoes the wicked.”
With a violent twist, he snatched the spear from the incapacitated persona and released the Lock, weapon still pointed at them.
“Assaulting young adventurers in such a cowardly manner… You should be ashamed! You were meant for more than this, Overwatch! To protect the innocent! If you choose to hide behind twisted laws and engage in needless cruelty, I will no longer stand as your brother in arms… learn from this and remember your vows.”
The decker did not answer, for he was still frozen in horror and disbelief, but Solaire was rather certain he understood the message.
And thus, his persona vanished, for he was needed elsewhere…

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Debriefing

[Start Recording]

Corporal Jonathan O’Neil, debriefing statement, December 10th, 2071

[…]
I’ve been on patrol, everything nice and quiet. Dunno exactly what happened then, I got that strange craving for chicken. Far as I knew, Brattack was in the mess hall, fixing something during his 15 minute break, so I figured I’d join him. Seemed to make sense at the time, despite the violation of guard protocol. In hindsight, it might’ve been magic, but I sure as hell won’t shirk responsibility for what has happened, ‘s just my uneducated opinion on what might’ve gone down.
We heard a bang from the lobby and Captain Hammond confirmed the breach, so we got ready for action, as he reported multiple hostiles coming out of the basement. Communications got wrecked shortly after and Private Brattack and myself pinned them down while we correctly assumed Kowalski and Jackson would flank’em. The private and I flushed’em out good, and there was little resistance at that point. We lost contact when they got out of the window, however, despite heavy suppressive fire, so I guess Private Doran can give you a better report of what happened there.
[…]

Private Samantha Carter, debriefing statement, December 10th, 2071
[…]
Can’t really tell you much, Sir. I’ve been on patrol through the lobby. Didn’t even see him coming. Was just between two blinks and just like that, snap, I’m in a sleeper’s hold. Big guy, ork. Knew what he was doing, probably military or paramilitary background. Tried to com the squad, but I guess whatever send the system haywire also cut my link. Things went dark and next thing I know Sergeant Fraiser kicks me back into consciousness, figuratively speaking and the whole show was over.
[…]

Sergeant Janet Fraiser, debriefing statement, December 10th, 2071
[…]
Captain Hammond and were posted at the main gate when shit got real. Communications and my own system went haywire, but I only noticed when it was already too late. The squad’s a fine one, though, so response was by the book. I’m proud of them, just so you know and I can only blame myself for letting them down. Our tech’s been either compromised, incapacitated or made unreliable by an outside force beyond the capabilities of our equipment. I’m not talking ‘better than us’ or like someone got the jump on us. Whoever…whatever had its way with my console and base security went through my firewall like it was wet tissue paper and shot down my drones before I could even engage countermeasures.
The Captain and I popped the emergency cover and held the entrance, but attempts at coordination or non baseline verbal commands proved ineffective. We covered Jackson and Kowalski as good as we could and when we realized communications were seriously fucked up, we used the flares.
[…]

Captain George Hammond, debriefing statement, December 10th, 2071
[…]
I take full responsibility for this mess. My squad did good, despite the disastrous circumstances. Never got a good look at the enemy contacts, I only know they went in pretty silent and had the hell of a matrix backup and a spellslinger. We popped the foam barricades and tried to com for backup, but as you know… that wasn’t an option, so we sent up the flares when things went fubar.
[…]

Private Charles Kowalski, debriefing statement, December 10th, 2071
[…]
We secured the lobby when we realized there was a perimeter breach. Ran straight into a grenade, luckily for us, that one was only a smoker, thermal, probably, which means whoever did the B&E had a good idea of our outfit, I reckon. Saw 5, probably 6 contacts come spawling out of the elevator. We told’em to surrender, but as if that ever works, right?
Caught a nasty one to the chest, but the armor took most of it and naother one to the head, but I’ve got a hard noggin. Only found out later that we’re all using gel, anyway, including the enemy contacts. Thought it was just an exercise for a while you know? Before the spellslinging and all that.
So, Jackson and I opened fire and bounced those guys from room to room with ‘nades, kudos to Bratty and O’Neil who played along nicely.
Place was smoked up pretty fast. The ‘Nades should have made short work of them, but I guess they had ware or stim packs to keep’em up and running.
We lost contact shortly after, so I can’t really tell you anything more.
[…]

Private Daniel Jackson, debriefing statement, December 10th, 2071
[…]
We had no confirmation to go Blood on the Dancefloor, so we stuck to gel rounds. We didn’t take much heat, but the few shots zeroed in on us packed quite a punch. We hunkered down and suppressed. Didn’t get to see faces or anything, but there were two orks, both cybered up and someone in a chameleon suit and something that looked like an RCC. They had no drone support, though, apart from a recon drone inside the lobby which we instantly neutralized.
We quickly realized that coms and support were down and advanced when we heard Brattack and O’Neil pin them down next room.
They escaped through a window and Doran was the only one out there.
[…]

Private Thor Brattack, debriefing statement, December 10th, 2071
[…]
Yeh, I was in the mess hall, trying to get some chicken. Just made my choice yellow teriyaki with extra curry, good stuff when O’Neil came in and said he was hungry. Didn’t think much of it and also didn’t want to rat him out to the Captain. Man’s gotta eat, you know and it’s not like anything would happen, right?
Yeh, well… next thing I know, we’re standing in cover and pop two stunners ‘cause there’s been a breach. Got a good look at some of them. Some girl in a ghost suit and a deck or console, black ork, probably in his 50s, ‘nother black guy, human, young and kinda… off. Guess that was their spellslinger. And some scrawny dude with a large helmet of some sort and another ork with a used cyberarm and a metal jaw, probably on jazz…why are you looking at me like that? I’m a scout, I observe things…
[…]

Private Valerie Doran, debriefing statement, December 10th, 2071
[…]
Is my dog okay?
I’m serious, I can’t deal with this shit if I don’t… Apologies, Sir! Of course I will tell you what happened, Sir.
Sir Barksalot that’s my dog seemed to have a feeling something was wrong, but there was no indication of a breach of some sort. When Captain Hammond confirmed the attack, I rushed to the backside of the Data storage to cover the exit.
Before I could get into a good position, the enemy contacts made their way through the window.
I was seriously outnumbered and outgunned that’s why I broke protocol and did not take the lethality of magic fire into account. I stand by my decision to do so despite there had been no confirmed order for Blood on the Dancefloor.
Those poor suckers tried to hurl a grenade at me, so I gave them a nice return to sender.
That should have been it, between Sir Barksalot’s howling, the flames and a grenade, but they had magic of their own.
My Dog downed two of them, the grenade has been, I assume, telekinetically stopped midway and then lightning started flying, one of them even grabbed their knocked out teammate and smacked my fucking dog with them.
That guy used a teammate as weapon, we’re talking this kinda crazy here.
I landed two bursts and far as I can tell, Brattack and O’Neil moved into position for covering fire, as did Kowalski and Jackson. Didn’t get to enjoy that luxury, though. One lightning bolt zipped by me. Close shave, then I got knocked down by two precision shots, cracked a few ribs I guess and another lightning bolt finished me off.
Stim pack didn’t kick in, but I assume the Sergeant already commented on that…
[…]

Captain Jonas Quinn, debriefing statement, December 10th, 2071

[…]
After the flares went up, we got green light for helo ascent. By the book, Eye 1 and 2 covered North-West and North-East, while we went for the South and did our sweeps.
The whole response was half-blind, due to a lack of Matrix support you’re aware of I reckon. Did the sweep with on-board sensors and sight 1.0 and without drone escort accordingly.
The road seemed clear and we were almost ready to change course when there was an irregularity on our sensors – no visual to confirm, but after two more sweeps near a parked off-road vehicle, Armadillo, we pinged something. They probably thought we couldn’t see them, but we could totally see them.
Despite the standing order to use lethal force, if necessary we resorted to contact whoever was hiding and two persons stepped out into our lights. Told’em to hold their position and called in the grunts to handle this.
They arrived quickly enough and went through the whole check and interrogation routine. The grunts let’em go and we hit the west. Don’t know what went down, but far as I know, the sergeant responsible probably fucked it up.
[…]

Sergeant Cameron Mitchell, debriefing statement, December 10th, 2071
[…]
Don’t even try to give me or my squad shit for this.
There was no indication that these two were the people we’re looking for. The whole damn national park was full of fucking hikers and my squad already stumbled over half a dozen of those.
They had no illegal weapons, no personal armor I’d classify as such, proper SINS and were even registered as engaging in recreational activities. I don’t know where the rest of them hid, how their escape vehicle dodged your checks or why we had no stable connection to HQ to actually have a damn clue what was going on.
Yes, I had them at point blank range and every opportunity to arrest them. And Yes, I could’ve checked the gun for recently fired shots, or try to call in one of the spellslingers.
Thing is, I decided there was no sane reason to waste time with two hikers with solid background while practically the whole base was dark and everything was about to go south.
You can pin this on me, if you want, but I stand by my decisions and you know damn well that punishing me won’t miraculously make the wohle clusterfuck go away.
[…]

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Now That's News
A Press Conference

[Start Recording]

A camera flickers to life in a large room, probably a mess hall in a military building, as far as interior and decoration can tell.
Chairs are assorted in rows upon rows and there’s a makeshift podium.
The murmuring chatter in the room falls silent and a small swarm of camera drones buzz through the air like a swarm of hungry birds looking for the best feeding spots right before the feeding frenzy.
A tall ork with tan skin enters from the right. The man in his early 50s looks like most of tonight’s sleep had been denied from him, as he takes his place behind the podium and rubs his temples before addressing the crowd of drones their inquisitive handlers.
‘Tonight, an unannounced security exercise has been conducted and, as I can judge by your illustrious presence here, has caused quite a ruckus.’, he starts, leaves room for an awkward pause when his joke falls flat. He seems utterly unconvinced by his own words, but for protocol’s sake, he continues. ‘Contrary to what unreliable sources want to make you believe, there are no casualties, civilians or personnel harmed, or collateral damage beyond the parameters of the exercise. Apart from, also within the exercise’s parameters, minor simulated host and grid disturbances, Fort Lewis’ matrix capabilities are stable and untampered. Any detailed information concerning the security exercise, is, of course subject to classification. I will now answer any of your questions as far as non-disclosure allows.’
His last words carry the heavy implication of an unspoken ‘I fucking dare you…’ and the faint hope that the military man could leave now, having spoken his piece.
No such luck tonight, sadly.
He knows the elf well from former press conferences and though her voice is smooth, yet clear, to him it has a grating, sandpapery quality.
‘Colonel Maeburn, to paraphrase your own words: when you talk of exercise parameters, just how much of the damage is included in that? Is the rogue humvee accounted for, or the concerning amount of spent armor piercing ammunition outside of designated training grounds?’
The stakkato of follow up questions all across the room dies down rapidly.
The colonel seems satisfied with his commanding voice.
‘And to cite myself, this information is classified. Next question.’
‘Is it true that the data storage near the training ground has been severely damaged? Was this an accident? Are your training routines compromised or faulty? And if so, who takes responsibility?’, another reporter chimes in from one of the back rows.
‘At the moment, we are still looking into the incident, but I can assure you that nobody’s been injured.’, the ork replies in a monotone routine.
‘Is this another cover-up of gross incompetence?’
‘If this was a security exercise, how can you justify taking it outside of designated training zones?’
‘Will there be legal consequences?’
‘Was this in agreement with Knight Errant?’
Colonel Maeburn rubs his temples again and takes a deep breath before slamming his fist onto the podium, hard enough to actually crack the solid wood.
‘Alright, listen up, vultures! There’s no carcass to pick clean here. This was an exercise. Now, while you look up ‘classified’ in a dictionary of your choice, I’m gonna leave. ‘Cause I’VE got a fuckin’ country to defend, you ungrateful parasites, and ain’t got time for this bullshit.’
He deactivates his microphone and stomps off to the right, murmuring something about ‘Fuckin’ PR bullshit’ and ‘…not even my fuckin’ job…’

[End Recording]

[Start Recording]

‘Alright, now that we’re done with the whole show and people are hopefully more concerned with what an asshole I am, let’s break it down.’
The colonel sits in a chair, it looks pretty comfortable. In front of him waits a glass of brown liquid, probably some of the bourbon from the bottle nearby.
‘We got… three injured, not counting the damn dog. Plenty of fritzed tech. Warrant Officer Akela wasn’t on site during the incident and I’m positive she has nothing to do with it, but we’ll see about that. What’s missing?’
A female voice opposite of him cuts in, raspy from a night of talking, smoking and cheap soycaff.
‘Tech division is still working on that one. We don’t know why anyone would go down there in the first place. Anything really valuable is accounted for, no personnel has been abducted. Three isolation servers from ‘64 are bricked. The project is marked classified in the archives and we’re waiting for clearance. Seems to be some isolated tech from the old matrix days, something R&D discarded, I guess.’
The ork grumbles. ‘Captain, guesses ain’t gonna get us far, see that you get results, preferably ASAP. What about the goddamn host?’
‘Uhm… Tech division is on it, Sir, but this is an odd one. Far as reports tell, SOMETHING went in there and seriously had its way with the host and all connected systems. The word ‘impossible’ has been dropped quite a few times.They were close to Shutting the host down, but they handled things, apparently.’
‘Great..anything noteworthy I should know… and I can technically comprehend?’
‘Exactly one file of each type has been copied or flat out stolen, base-wide, like from every person. Also, there’s this…’
An AR picture snaps into existence above the wooden desk, showing Japanese letters on fine, polished wood.
‘What the hell is that?, the colonel asks.
‘It’s… it’s a haiku, Sir. We found it in one of the main storage units of the host. It says:
A home defended
No fear or venom slips in
Weak walls call red moons’
At this point, the colonel has emptied the glass and takes a swing straight out of the bottle.
‘Send it to decryption and let them have fun with it, I can’t deal with this right now. What about the squad on site? Have they been debriefed?’
‘Yes, Sir, uploading now…’

[End Recording]

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It wasn't a lie, it was just bullshit
Sam's Log

What a weird night indeed. Even for our standards.

We escaped the bunker in a stolen military van and hit the road. The only thing I could think of – once I was able to think straight again after the shootout – was that neato tank I got to ride shotgun only a stone’s throw away last week and how it would oblitarate our whole squad in a single magnificent blow. We should come back and steal one of those beauties next time.

Nevermind. No tanks, only helicopters to follow us, so we switched back to the initial plan and got off the van and into the woods to change into a significantly less suspicious vehicel that we parked on the camping grounds in advance. Of course the helicopter spotted us and since none of us wanted to be ripped apart by a gatling gun, this time we followed the “Come out with your hands raised!” command. That is, two of is did. Slicer was determined to bullshit his way out of the situation, which I wouldn’t have thought possible facing an assault chopper, but he’s the military expert and I had to live up to my name as the gang’s “mindbender” again so yeah, we walked into the spotlight, so to speak. The rest of us hid away with a little magical help from good old Adjasou and the stage was ours. To my surprise, the chopper only told us to stay put and ordered a ground team over to check our credentials. Don’t know what I expected to happen, but again, I’m not the military guy.

Some soldiers arrived in a Humvee and had absolutely no clue that we were the droids they were looking for. What. The. Fuck. Aren’t those guys supposed to be professionals?! We talked about hiking and militray stuff and even though my freaking fake SIN refused to do its job they let us go before I even had to turn on the Voodoo. Just like that. Needless to say, we jumped into the car and drove like crazy since there were at least two ghosts searching for us by now and we already invested some unplanned time in this ridiculous crendtials-bullshit that I still can’t get my head around.

Our driving was everything but subtle and so it took about a minute for the local drones to corner us. The car did a great job at not falling apart under suppressive fire and we even managed to shoot two of them down before Slicer drove us right through the checkpoint and out of their home turf. The rest of the story is surprisingly lame: We changed cars once more and drove to the safe house, most of us crashing on the backseats from StimPack and / or drug use and when we finally arrived at a safe house, neither the ghosts nor the Army were waiting for us. I put up a ward and immediatly fell asleep afterwards. The end. Time for a well deserved week of recreational activities and medical marijuana before we tackle act 2 of our run.

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Are you not entertained?
Sam's Log

Jeez, what a night.
Who would have thought that stealing some medieval pixelmonsters from the military would end up in so much action?? Quietly in, quietly out… Right?

I don’t know what gave us away halfway through the plan (although I guess the gaping elevator shaft after closing hour would be a relatively safe bet) but since the moment our heads came up on that cargo lift platform, we were greeted with utter disrespect by the local soldierboys and girls. Pf.

Slicer decided that we would not follow their advice to lay down our guns and surrender and jumped up, guns blazing. The exit plan was more or less simple: Get to the window, get out, run for our lives. Easier said than done when you’re greeted with flashbangs from a troll’s underbarrel grenade launcher, but yeah, several explosions and a severe headache later we managed to get our asses out of the frying pan and into the fire – Once more a notch too literally for my personal taste.

Nebraska and Slicer were already in the open when I managed to follow them through the window, just in time to see a freaking Bhargest being transformed into a burning hellhound by its handler. Because yeah, the magical stun-howl thing is not yet deadly enough, so feel free to throw in a 10.000° body armor for good measure dude.

Before my house Loa with whom I shared my beloved fleshprison at that point had the chance to crack a hotdog joke, Ruckus punched the beast in the face. They both looked equally shocked afterwise, maybe the dog didn’t expect someone to punch through his aura of flames and Ruckus didn’t expect the smell of his cyberarm melting or whatever.

Good idea: Firing at the guy engulfing his loyal pet in magical flames. Bad idea: Throwing a foam bang at an adapt who then decides to throw it back at us. Slicer +1, Nebraska -5. Luckily Adjasou decided to do me a favor and ping-ponged the grenade back to at least not explode at our feet. Thanks bro.

Some bullets later the adapt went down, but the flames didn’t stop. Neither did the barking and so Zach and Nebraska called it a day and completely faded out. At least one of Zachs new digital friends decided to return a favor and helped us out with a getaway car, delivered directly at our feet. “Directly”, like in running over the unconcious dog owner. Guess he didn’t get the memo about our non-lethality-policy.

Slicer carried Nebraska and Ruckus… used Zach as a bat and knocked the finally no longer burning Barghest out with Zachs utterly ridiculous helmet. Ladies and gentlemen, we love to entertain you. All I remember after that is firing lightning bolts like crazy and taking way too many bullets until a mechanical arm finally grabbed my neck and pulled me into the van. Man, that was way too close. The rest of the gang didn’t look much better than me, so Slicer and I immediately started fixing up the team with medkits and magic.

I need a drink now.

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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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