Life in the Shadows

Body Snatching part 1

Loche got a random comm call at 2am on a Thursday regarding a meet with a Mr Johnson that night at 11PM. After doing a little legwork to check on the players they know about, the very paranoid group set up super early at the meet. What they were told was that the Simsense star whats-her-name was doing an endorsement deal for a food product that certain powers didn’t want to happen. The job was to break into her penthouse and grab her, holding her safely for a few days so she misses all her events, then returning her. Wicker negotiated against the price and got a decent increase for the group. Looking into both the flat where we were supposed to hold her and her penthouse, the group devised a simple plan to smash it and grab her. Loche and Gorefest entered the high rise and took an elevator to her floor while Armatige sat in his van and took care of cyber security and alarms and Wicker used magic to fly upto the balcony and cut his way in. Once the elevator arrived, Loche shot the guard with a burst of gel rounds, taking him out of the fight. Gorefest kicked the door in and Wicker snuck in the back while invisible and stunned one of the guards as he went to investigate. Gorefest and Loche moved down a corridor towards the star’s bedroom and took out another guard. As Gorefest ran out around a corner, he was set upon by a mage and a street sam. As he started firing at them, Loche came around the corner and joined in the fire fight. Together, they manage to take the mage and sam out, but at the cost of several bullet holes. Unwilling to wait, Gorefest kicked in the star’s bedroom door and took a shotgun blast to the chest that knocked him out. Loche took out the scared looking guy holding the shotgun and dragged the star out from under her bed after knocking her out with neurostun. Armatige found out the team guarding her had a helicopter on the roof as an escape, so Loche took the star and the helicopter. Armatige and Gorefest headed down to the van to make their escape. Loche had no trouble escaping, but when Armatige tried to leave, several Knight Errant cars blocked him in. Quickly backing up, he launched his drones and fired on the officers when they came down into the garage. Flooring it, he made his get away, smashing out between the cars and crushing the last Knight Errant on the way. The group met up, scrubbed the helicopter for tracking devices, stashed it in the warehouse and then headed for the flop house. On the way, Gorefest and Loche, remembering how bad it smelled, picked up some air fresheners. They swung by The Jew’s place, got some SLAB from him to keep their guest out, and met up the rest of the group at the flop house. After a little while, a random dwarf showed up with the first half of their money and then left. The group settled in for the three day wait.

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Bodyguarding, Sort of

Deuce gave the group a line on a protection job. The meet was a corp hang out in downtown, and was held in a private room upstairs. The job was to protect a lead scientist from getting headhunted by a rival corporation. The job paid a base, plus hazard pay if a snatch is attempted, more if the group found out who was grabbing him, and a little bonus is he never knows the group is guarding him. The group spent a couple days before they had to guard him finding out a bunch of information about his routines and trying to set up to handle the normal activities and hopefully dealing with anything unusual that came up. Everything went fine on the first day, but the mark started doing strange experimentations on transvestite street hookers and making plans to meet with a girl (most likely a call girl) the next night after the Opera. Armatige watched from across the theatre as the scientist and his bodyguard brought an unconscious person into their private booth and the scientist switched his bio-monitor with the new person and then shot his bodyguard under the chin, killing him instantly. He then exited the opera and left the area in a car with unknown people in it. Gorefest followed in his rental and Armatige jacked into his van to follow, leaving his meat body slumped in his seat. Wicker pulled his magic up and flew after the car with the scientist while Loche went to his hotel room to change and get another gun, putting him about 30 minutes behind the others. The car with the scientist contained a street sam and a mage, and after heading into the sprawl, stopped at a coffin hotel. The scientist and the street sam headed upstairs, and as Wicker watched in Astral space, started cutting into a couple of bodies (who happened to be the transvestite hookers from before). Gorefest armored up in his car and then approached the waiting car and fired at it, blowing out a window. The mage inside tried to stun him, but please, he’s a troll (and had a guardian spirit from Wicker to help). Wicker then blasted her into unconsciousness and Gorefest headed into the hotel to get the scientist and ended up having a firefight in the stairwell with the street sam, both blasting away at each other before Wicker came in the fire escape and finished the fight. Just then, Loche pulled up and helped Gorefest drag the scientist out of the coffin he was hiding in. After questioning the scientist, they found that he was going to sell modified organs he had designed to the highest bidder and leave his employer. After talking to their employer, the group turned over the scientist and after the Friday release party they had planned, took him back and made him vanish.

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Greenwar End (we hope)

After hitting V’Zier’s Green Wars group and getting a huge pile of data, Armatige sifted through the files on an old deck the group found in a safe and discovered Renraku blueprints, especially their arcology server room. Among the information was a detailed list of corporate and government officials and their homes, as well as a detailed scematic of the power and matrix infrastructure in the city of Seattle. Loche and Wicker decided to pick up a little more muscle and then sell the information to Renraku. Renraku set a meeting at their Arcology and the group showed up to broker the deal, minus Armatige, as he stayed behind to study the code for what looks like an AI. The group showed up at the Arcology and went through security, checking their weapons. They were ushered into a conference room and waited. A pair of execs came in and were impressed by the data and Figment’s negotiation skills. After an impressive payday, the group headed out. As they made it to security, gunshots and alarms sounded. Security ushered the group and the secretary into a secure room and locked the door. More gunshots and several tell-tale rocket blasts sounded and Wicker and Figment brought their magic up while Loche opened the door and peeked out before shutting it again. A quick plan was set up, Loche would head left towards the interior of the building, Gorefest would move to the right towards the lobby, and Wicker and Figment would step out and mop up. The plan worked perfectly and the remaining Greenwars members were taken out. The group held a quick discussion and decided that the attack wasn’t their problem and headed out, seeing a matte black nissan patrol car on the way, they snagged it to add to rebuilding their car fleet. They decided to lay low for a bit, and watched Greenwar wage a fairly ineffective battle against technology in Seattle. After the week was up, they reached out to Deuce to see if there was any action, finding out about an extraction that seemed doable. Deuce gave the group an address of a bar to meet the Johnson at. Loche went early with Gorefest and discovered it was a bar filled with Ork Posers. The meeting was held in a back room surrounded by ork strippers, where everyone except for Loche went. The job turned out to be simple, a rich kid (ork poser) was going to go into business with the Johnsons, and his family had decided to forcibly un-ork him and keep him secluded in his house. All the group had to do was get him out, least amount of force as possible. A complicated, magic-centric plan was crafted involving memory modifications and influencing. Figment modified the family attorney’s memory to make him think that the kid was being summoned to the police station for questioning around an aggravated assault charge, and then Figment and Gorefest went to pick him up. The attorney and a suburban or armed guards followed the group’s car on the way to a random police station. Wicker used an elemental to crash the two cars, one of which went into a cafe and caused all sorts of havoc. A quick stop at an abandoned parking lot enabled the group to erase all tags on the kid and for Wicker to look him over with magic. They drove the kid to the drop off apartment in the slums, phoned it in, received their payment and took off.

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Consequences

Reviewing the data on the disk found at the Green War facility, the group discovered a vast array of disturbing data, including detailed files of Renraku security and plans to wreak havoc on the city of Seattle. After debating what to do with this data, it was decided to bring it to Renraku, tell them how it was received, and try to gather up a decent reward. That way, the group could potentially gain the favor of a megacorp, make some nuyen, and sick Renraku security on Green War.

A meeting was set up, so Alexander “Wicker” DeMarkez, Nelson “Loche” Laramie, David “Figment” Erikson, and some extra troll muscle mounted up and made their way to the pyramid. After some negotiations, the group landed some sizable gains to their pocketbooks and the appreciation of some Renraku execs. However, just as they were about to leave, the power went out, flickering back a few seconds later as emergency backup kicked in, and sounds of gunfire commenced. The group was escorted into a safe room and told to stay put while security took care of the incursion. The situation outside the room quickly devolved to automatic weapons fire, rockets, and screaming.

Soon after, Nelson “Loche” Laramie peeked his head out, reporting that Renraku security was dead, and several Green War soldiers were securing the room. The group engaged the enemy, killing them, and then opted to leave the premises, rather than pursue the Green War guys into the building they had no authorization to enter. After returning home, everyone decided to lay low for a couple weeks while the Green War situation worked itself out. Renraku repelled the invasion with little damage, which is better than many other corps and government organizations fared.

Two weeks later, the group accepted another job from Duece- a snatch and grab. The target was an ork poseur, who was “kidnapped” by his family, wealthy political-types, who intended to reeducate and reform their wayward son. Despite the lowly nature of the job, David “Figment” Erikson was pleased to doing a job suited to his particular talents, unlike the previous sloppy debacle.

A plan was hatched, where the family lawyer would be led to believe the son had been accused of aggravated assault, and had to be brought in for questioning. A little magical mental artwork later by David “Figment” Erikson had the lawyer solving the problem of getting the son out of the family compound for the group. The troll muscle was set up as the lawyer’s police contact, so the group was informed of the pickup time.

David “Figment” Erikson posed as the detective, while Nelson “Loche” Laramie and the troll were dressed up like uniformed police. Upon entering the compound, the guard asked for identification, and Figment altered his memories to believe he’d seen proper identification. Inside the complex, the lawyer asked for ID as well, and was also rewarded with some mental redecorating. After a quick discussion, the mark rode in the back of the group’s patrol car, while the lawyer followed in his vehicle, and three armed security personnel followed in their vehicle.

…which is where Alexander “Wicker” DeMarkez enters the limelight. At the designated location, his powerful spirit friend sent the two chase vehicles careening out of control, crashing, and injuring several occupants. With the chase vehicles unable to follow, the group made a clean getaway, scanning the mark for electronic bugs, and completing the mission successfully. All part of a job well done.

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Payback
Revenge is a dish best served with large amounts of explosives

Mark “Armatige” Armatige and Nelson “Loche” Laramie wake up a few minutes after the C130 Crash, sparks are flying everywhere and the plane is def never going to fly again. After some investigation and crawling through the rubble, they find Content Not Found: trogg smashed between the wall of the C130 and the side of Mark “Armatige” Armatige van, sadly he does not look like he will be going on any runs with them any more. Further investigation shows that the back ramp can be lowered using manual controls and brute force, things they have in abundance.

Alexander “Wicker” DeMarkez floats gently down to the ground, watched the C130 crash and then dismissed the air spirit he used to get to the ground gently. While walking back to the C130 to check to see if anybody or any gear survived, he is drawn somehow to a weird bush, buried under the bush is a metal that seems to be glowing with stored magical enegery.

The group gets back together outside of the C130, Mark “Armatige” Armatige and Nelson “Loche” Laramie crawl back in and try to tear out the black box, however while doing that they see a timer running backwards to 0. So they of course scramble out, get back into the van and take off. After some back and forth, the group decides to head to the Free City of Denver, and they make their own way back from there.

First thing after calling the group gets a hold of Duece and sets up a meeting with V’Zier Maurid using some intermediaries. The meet is set up for 10pm at a bar in Pullyap. The Jew and his shaman friend David “Figment” Erikson are used as the go between, this doesn’t end well for the shaman, because V’Zier Maurid sends some Elf poser in his place with the mission to kill them. After taking a bullet, they manage to capture him and the group takes them to their Sprawl warehouse (which has been stripped down clean of all the gear and vehicles that were stored here).

The Jew, Nelson “Loche” Laramie and David “Figment” Erikson all interrogate the elf poser, who gives up all the info he has after Loche cuts off one of his precious ear tips.

Mark “Armatige” Armatige does a Matrix search of the building, finds old blue prints of the building but also discovers that the building is no longer connected to a node of any sort.

Alexander “Wicker” DeMarkez goes back to his hidden lair and summons a spirit to give him a vision of where V’Zier Maurid is located. He is located in the penthouse of some old apartment building in the Sprawl, not far from where the group is located. From the looks of it Green War seems to be arming up to do some sort of assault.

The group then called up Duece to load up on gear (Alexander “Wicker” DeMarkez was feeling particularly vengeful and ordered up an extra helping of plastic explosives, planning to take the building down after killing everybody).

On arrival at the building:

Nelson “Loche” Laramie, Alexander “Wicker” DeMarkez, The Jew and David “Figment” Erikson start making their way to the side door via the parking lot. Mark “Armatige” Armatige safely cocooned inside his van, releases his drones when the group sees two vehicles exiting the garage and heading in their direction on the street. After some intense combat involving one lucky G-War thug who could not be hit by a grenade, the group manages to take everybody out, and The Jew even puts a bullet in between V’Zier Maurids eyes. The group then heads inside, which seems to be completely abandoned by G-War. The manage to find member info, and blue prints to the Renraku pyramid building, Hidden under a mattress they found a safe with some pretty old decker gear.

Alexander “Wicker” DeMarkez then decides that its time to take the building down, has no idea where to place the explosives so decides that putting them in a pile in the middle should do the trick.

As the group drives away, they look back to see the building exploding and collapsing, taking down a few buildings around it.

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Crash and Burn

Alexander “Wicker” DeMarkez, Mark “Armatige” Armatige, Nelson “Loche” Laramie and Trogg are contacted by their Green War contact V’Zier Maurid (former member of their team) for a mission requiring them to go down to Houston to infiltrate an AreSpace facility. Once in the facility they are to attach a black box to a satellite that is being built there. After a failed negotiation the team agrees to the terms.

Green War provides the team with transport on an old military surplus C-130, large enough for them to load up of their vehicles and weapons. They land in Houston and meet up with their contact (Jammer). He provides the group with a safe house and some basic info about the locations.

Mark “Armatige” Armatige does sound matrix data mining and finds out layouts, security plans, and also that there are three separate research sections.
1. Satellite system- Supposedly this is supposed to be some sort of early warning system that can be used to safe guard against another Great Ghost dance. This is the satellite the group is supposed to tamper with
2. Advanced AI- This seems to be a very advanced AI. Its being designed for use to monitor and control space traffic orbiting the Earth. Other possible uses: Matrix Monitoring, Matrix Security.
3. Miniaturized Rocket boosters- Exactly what it sounds like. However, its sized down to the size of a large car as opposed to multiple stories tall.

Alexander “Wicker” DeMarkez goes astral to check on the magic defenses:
1. Each floor has a room that has magical wards
2. Multiple Mages on the security team

Trogg practices punching things
[[:cooper | Jack ’’Cooper" Manhattan]] “cleans his weapons” over and over again….perv

The group decides the best plan would be to infiltrate the facility prior to the satellite being prepped for launch and while there making it seem like it was an attempt to steal info from one of the other research projects.

Mark “Armatige” Armatige takes control of the security systems, crashes drones, and crashes their security during a matrix fight with their IT Security guy. Loses one drone during the fight but takes over one of the facilities drones.

Nelson “Loche” Laramie and Trogg parner together and shoot their way in and make it seem like the group is attempting to steal info about the miniaturized rockets. They do a pretty decent job keeping attention on them.

Alexander “Wicker” DeMarkez sneaks in invisible, adds the box to the satellite but then goes rogue and steals the research data that goes with it.

They manage to shoot their way out and get to their get away vehicle. Group consensus is that the best plan is to just go strait to Jammer and go back to Seattle. They load up back into the C-130 and head back.

However………

3ish hours into the flight the engines die. Investigation reveals that the pilot bailed out, dumped the fuel and left them on the ship to crash (and probably die with it). They look around and only find one parachute. Which for some reason nobody wants to use. Odd

Anyway….

Trogg manually lowers the landing gears and buckles himself into one of the seats. With about 1 foot of clearance between his face and Mark “Armatige” Armatige
drone laden van.

Mark “Armatige” Armatige decides that he is gonna glide this C-130 down witht he help of Nelson “Loche” Laramie.

Alexander “Wicker” DeMarkez says eff this, he is going to wait until its about to crash and use his magics to land safely.

At about 75ish feet, Alexander “Wicker” DeMarkez jumps out, slows himself down and then attempts to slow down the runaway C-130. This pretty much arrests its forward motion but causes it to slam pretty much strait down. Not usually something that ends well for people inside……

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Dream State

After a long day of Cram and high-octane energy drink mixed booze, Nelson “Loche” Laramie crashed and expected a blissful nothing until morning, where a headache would greet him with a vengence. Instead, he had a weird falling sensation and found himself in a surreal world of lava pits and a stone bridge extending forward. As he looked around, he found his whole crew around him, Wicker and Bud looking clearer and more real than himself or Armatige. As they continued, they arrived at a pair of locked doors and a stair that led down into the lava. The doors refused to open to force and the group looked around for tools or levers to help. As they looked around, Wicker noticed a box just under the lava. Using magic, he pulled the box up and onto the ledge they were standing on, then looked at Loche and told him to open the box. Loche did, burning his hand to a crisp, revealing a pair of keys, quite cool to the touch. Juggling the keys, they opened both doors, one leading into darkness and the other leading into blinding light. Walking into the darkness cuts off all the senses, while walking into the light overwhelms them completely. Wicker led everyone into the darkness and then closed the door. The room led to a massive library filled with books, apparently randomly placed. After hours of searching, they discovered it was seperated by family, but looking for Wicker’s book as futile. After several more hours of searching, they discovered tracks leading through the stacks. Following them, they found several shelves with members of Wicker’s family on them, and a missing spot where presumably Wicker’s book used to sit. Following the tracks further, the group saw them lead outside through a field. As they followed the tracks, they noticed a lightning bolt slamming down over and over again. Deciding that the lightning was more interesting, they veered off the path and headed in that direction. As they got closer, they found it was a tree overhanging a cliff and the lightning was slamming into a nest out in the branches. Trogg climbed the tree and moved out towards the nest, finally getting to it and finding a book inside the nest. After getting zapped once by the lightning, Trogg managed to flip the book out of the nest back over the cliff. It was immediately slammed by the lightning, and Wicker just managed to catch it with his magic. The lightning stopped, but a scorched mark erased some of the information on its pages. After a discussion, Wicker studied the books for his mother and father, piecing together how it should go. As they leave the library and head back over the lava fields, Loche wakes up in his own bed, surprisingly without a headache and with a vivid memory of a strange dream.

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Mercurial

Mercurial
By James Benton

Duece called Loche, Wicker, Bud (a massive Troll), and The Jew for an easy bodyguard gig for an acquaintance of his. The meet was backstage at a rock concert for Maria Mercurial, and up and coming star with metallic skin. The four filtered their way in passed security without an issue, except for Bud who had to take a trip back to his car to offload a few weapons (troll-sized weapons are fairly easy to spot). Once inside and nearing the end of the set, they headed to the back and were let in to see Max Foley, the a fore mentioned acquaintance. He told them a story about how Maria found out her old agent was a BTL dealer and had to leave him and came to Max for help. The job was to protect Maria for 5 days until her old contract ran out and the Max could get legal help from the guild to keep Armando Hernandez (the old agent) off their backs. After a little while,They agreed on a sum of 24,000 nuyen. Once the negotiation was done, The Jew asked to use the bathroom and was in there for some time. When he came out, his demeanor was both twitchier and more contented. Maria finished her set and came back to the dressing room and freshened up. After a minute, she came out of the bathroom and the group started to plan their travel arrangements. Before they could finish, the door was kicked in by two guys yelling in Spanish and shooting. Loche immediately darted across the room and shoved Maria into the bathroom and nudged Max after her. Bud charged up to doorway and The Jew rolled into the middle of the floor looking for a shot. After a brief scuffle at the door, Loche shot one of the guys with a narco-jet round and Bud dropped the last one with a punch to the face. Bud dragged the two guys inside the room and shut the door, leaning against it, obviously covered in bruises from the shotgun rounds and the spraying Uzi. Before the group could search the bodies, there was a pounding at the door. One of the bouncers was telling them to get a move on it, there were cops all over the front of the venue. The back was still clear. Bud and Loche carried the catatonic and passed out Maria and Max out the back to Max’s car and Wicker drove them off to the safe house while the rest went back to pick their vehicles up from the front. The Jew and Loche nonchalantly got to their vehicles but Bud caught the attention of a pair of Lone Star Officers who took one look at his battered, scorched outfit and cuffed him to take him down to the station for questioning. Loche noticed this and drove by, peppering the officers with narco-jet rounds, taking one out and forcing the other to take cover behind the car. He stopped the bike and unlocked the cuffs to release Bud. The group met at the safe house to figure out what they were going to do. Max offered to double their money if they took Armando out. After a brief consultation, Loche, Bud and The Jew went to Armando’s house and broke in via a skylight. It quickly became obvious that Armando didn’t have anything to do with the BTL trade and was completely in love with Maria. Loche narco-jetted him and they piled in the van for the hour drive back to the safe house. Just after they started, Wicker called to say he was under attack and after his skirmish, he discovered Maria hooked up to a BTL and out of it. Getting both Maria and Max moving, he headed for the bus stop to get out of the area. Once the bus arrived, Maria got on and before Max could step on, a dragon swooped down and burned him to a crisp in a remarkable display of breath control. The bus took off, Wicker hanging onto the side and yelling for it to let him on. After a short distance, the bus stopped and let Wicker on. Loche, Bud and The Jew made it into the area and hooked up with Wicker and had Mark (Street Doc) meet them to check on her. She apparently had a reaction for the BTL and was bleeding out of her ears and nose. He advised the group to get her to a hospital immediately. They also got Cooper to come in and download a chunk of data that Maria had in a data vault in her head. Getting it out and decripting some of it, they realized that it was some important data relating to some of the Seattle sprawl controlled by a local Yakuza family. Wicker called around and reached out the Aztechnology to see about selling the data back to them. At the same time, Loche reached out to the local Yakuza family to broker a pretty sweet deal to sell them the data. They are about to go to a meet with Yakuza family now.

ACT II

With a couple of hours to kill before the group was meeting with the Yakuza, they picked up a little extra gear they thought they might need if things got rough and then headed over to the Yakuza restaurant to make the trade. Not expecting things to go badly, they didn’t post security or do anything special, just pulling up in Bud’s van and heading up the sidewalk toward the restaurant and the two big Ork guards out front. Wicker took one look at the open space and used magic to obscure his presence. As they started up the path, a shot rang out and slammed into Loche, spinning him around causing him to dive over a low wall for cover. The Jew started looking around for the sniper and the guards opened up from the doorway to the restaurant. A couple of blasts from The Jew’s uzi and a punch from a fast moving Bud took the guards out while Loche focused on finding the sniper. Once they found the window, Loche and The Jew pumped numerous rounds into it to keep his head down while Wicker used his magic to float closer and get a clean shot with a blast of lightning. With a couple more shots into the room to make sure he was down, Loche and The Jew went inside the restaurant to check it out. Everyone had been slaughtered inside, and the briefcase the probably had the money in it was still there, handcuffed to the wrist of the mid level boss. Between the two of them, The Jew and Loche freed the briefcase and while The Jew went to check on the back, Loche opened it up, setting off the booby trap inside. Managing to dive to one side and avoid the bulk of the blast, Loche and The Jew staggered out of the building, reporting what happened. Wicker found a sniper rifle, some ammo, and a couple of blocks of C-4 in the room with the dead sniper. The group piled back in Bud’s van and took off, trying to figure out what to do. First thing was to call up Cooper and have him do some digging, thinking that Aztechnology and their local boys had something to do with the ambush. It turned out it was a group called the Dragonites, led by an actual dragon. While Cooper was digging, Loche called the Yakuza up again to inform them about what was going on and to arrange a meeting to do the exchange. They agreed on a random location and the exchange went off without a hitch. After this, they decided to take the fight to the Dragonites and got the location they were using as a base from Cooper. Getting geared up, they parked the van a couple of blocks away and snuck around the back of the target location where they tried to sneak up on the two guards posted in the back. Everyone was doing great until Bud kicked a trash can out into the open, making a huge racket and alerting the two guards on duty. A brief, surprisingly quiet gunfight took them out. A van was parked in the back near the door, and the group disabled it before heading in, figuring they would check it out after they survived the assault. Moving into the back door, they found themselves in a small room. Opening the door to the main room, they could see some automated guns on cameras and a couple of guards. Wicker used his magic to take over one of the guards and cause a disruption while Bud and Loche moved into the room and started their assault. The Jew laid down cover fire and the group quickly mopped up the defenses on the ground floor. They split up and took both the stairs heading up, Bud and The Jew stacking and heading up the side stairs while Wicker and Loche went up the center stairs under the cover of magical concealment. Loche and Wicker encountered a series of traps of different variations, trip wires to pressure plates, while Bud and The Jew had to shoot out a series of automated gun turrets on the way up. Both teams made it to the top at about the same time, where they were immediately ambushed by a contigent that had been alerted to their ascent. After fighting them off, the group split up and searched the top floor, encountering a whip weilding assailent and then watching the human head of the Dragonites blowing a hole in the wall and getting snatched by the Dragon in a strange escape. Finishing their search, they discovered that the rigger had been killed by a pistol shot to the head, making an interesting crinkle to the goings on. Collecting what they could, the group escaped with their loot and lives.

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Wicker's First Run

BEEP BEEP BEEP

I absently slapt at my alarm clock, but the blasted thing just wouldn’t be quiet. Half tempted to blast the thing like I did that devil rat that interrupted my studies the night before, I suddenly recalled I didn’t set an alarm. I was going to sleep in after my late night studying. Opening my eyes I see the indicator light on my commlink blinking. A text from Deuce: “HEL”.

Duece is a troll I know, and even for trolls he isn’t that smart. But misspelling words is unlikely. He is what we call a fixer, if you need something he can fix you up. Mostly Deuce deals in guys, but he knows a lot of people and can sent you up with what you need. Which is good because the guy is a paranoid gun freak who in the same 10 minutes will give you a 10% discount for having a good face and pull a Super Warhawk on you claiming you flashed the secret of some group out to get him.

If he is sending me a text it is probably important, or a job… or with Deuce it could be another paranoid rant about astral spies. Either way a quick astral projection over to his trailer wouldn’t take more than a couple minutes.

Astral projection is a talent that comes with being a magician. The ability for the spirit to leave the physical body it inhabits to wander the astral plane. Not restricted by a body weighing it down, the spirit can travel at the speed of thought. So a trip across town that would take 30 minutes by car only took me a second.

Deuce lives in a trailer hidden in the middle of the barrens. Of course hidden isn’t really the right word seeing as all of Deuce’s clients know where it is. Not that that matters with the minefield, cameras, barbed wire, and high caliber automated turret. So whoever shoot up his trailer must have brought an army.

His trailer had been turned into swiss cheese and he is nowhere to be seen. There was a lot of blood around. And fresh, still glowing with the life force of those who shed it. With a little focus I was able to find Deuce’s astral signature in some of the blood. It looked like the blood lead from the trailer. In the astral plain living things look like a watercoloring done with fluorescent paints. Of course nonliving things all look like a black and white picture seen through a gauze bandage.I would need to actually travel to Deuce’s place if I was going to get more information.

I called up a cab service I use frequently and began to preparing for the day. If Deuce was kidnapped it was by some pretty dangerous people. I was going to need all my tools. I put on my custom tailored suit that was actually made of kevlar fiber with ballistic plates weaved in. My trusty gun cane which I had enchanted into a power focus. I also grabbed the fab watch I had turned into a sustaining focus and the two fetishes I used, a stick pin and old-fashion money clip.

Once at Deuce’s trailer I collected a vial of Deuce’s blood, it can be used as a link in ritual sorcery and can always be useful. A quick look around didn’t show me anything new nor anything about where or why Deuce was taken. So that left one more trick up my level, summon a spirit.

Another benefit of being a magician, other than slinging spells and wandering the astral plane, is summoning spirits. Spirits are a power manifestation of mana and will. Strong magicians though can summon and through force of will can control them. Spirits are useful for many tasks, and one is finding people. I summoned up a powerful spirit of guidance and set it to look for Deuce, depending on how far away Deuce was it could take hours. So I brushed off an old tire with my handkerchief and sat down to wait.

I was pretty sure if Deuce was in trouble he won’t have asked just me for help, so when a small drone fly up to me I wasn’t too surprised.

“Are you looking for him too?” asked the voice through the speaker on the drone.

“Depends who you are talking about.”

“I got a text from Deuce. It read H E L.”

“Yeah I got the same text. It looks like Deuce has been kidnapped. I am searching for him now.”

The drone flew off and a couple minutes later a delivery truck pulled up. The human that got out was obviously a rigger. What a wannabe. Metahumanity’s technology these days is just an attempt to recreate the awesome power of true magic. VR is a cheap mockery of astral space, and riggers like this guy wish they had the force of will to control actual spirits. But I was going to need a ride home.

“Do you know what happened to Deuce?” Or maybe I shouldn’t get in a car with someone this thick headed.

Pointing at the trailer filled with I repeated myself. “Deuce has been kidnapped…”

“Are you sure?”

“Yep. That is his blood leading to those tire tracks over there.”

“Oh… do you know where he is?” Yeah, this guy must still use a sippy cup.

“No, but as I said I am looking for him right now.”

“Have you checked inside?”

“I looked around. Seems like Deuce put up a good fight, but they obviously overpowered him.”

“Why do you say that?” Swing and a miss, strike three.

“Because they kidnapped him.” The rigger gave me a nasty look and headed inside the trailer, probably to do whatever it is hackers do in the matrix. It was no matter, I would know where Deuce was before sundown.

I took out a nice cigar and relaxed while I waited for the spirit to come back with Deuce’s location. These days it was getting to be that you had to come out to the barrens for a smoke. 2050, dragons flying through the sky, elves, trolls and vampires voting for the president, controlling computers with your mind, cybernetic implants to give you the strength to lift a car, genetic transfusions that make humans live to 300, and the cure for cancer developed 20 years ago. Yet you try to light a cigar in cafe and suddenly the manager is threatening to call Lone Star unless you “put out that filthy cancer stick.” Around 40 minutes later, as I was finishing the cigar, the spirit appeared and gave me an image of of a hangar at SeaTac.

The rigger came out about 20 minutes after that saying he had accessed Deuce’s security cameras and found out that Deuce had been kidnapped by a group of men in two black trucks. I informed him that I had located Deuce in a hangar at SeaTac. He nodded and then got that blank stare that people get when they use commlinks, one I hope I don’t get.

“Hey this is the guy from earlier. How is Loche? He is up, good. Can you connect me to him? Hey its Armatige. I am at Deuce’s and he has been kidnapped. Let me guess, SeaTac. There is a magician here who tracked him down. Send it to me. Hmmm… I will swing by and pick you up, be there in 15.”

The rigger turned back to me. “Another of Deuce’s buddies knowns were Deuce is. Apparently he also knows who took him. It is some cyber’ed up Yakuza hitter with a grudge. We are going to SeaTac, want to come?”

“Sure, you’re driving.”

About 40 minutes later we were driving through the security gate of SeaTac to the private hangars. We had stopped to pick up Loche who has the type of person that called himself a Street Samurai, but since he had an assault rifle and no sword I didn’t really get it. Loche had told us how he and a troll named Cooper had stolen $200 million from the Irish mafia only to get double crossed and caught. The mafia had let them go after they had hunted down their employers and retrieved the money. During a firefight another magician had dropped a plane on the Yakuza hitter, but apparently that didn’t kill him. Now he has Deuce and Cooper and told Loche to met him at SeaTac.

We parked a in sight of the hanger. The doors were wide open but nobody was in sight. Nobody had to say anything because we were all thinking the same thing: trap. Armatige sent one of his mini-drones to sweep the outside of the hangar and see if its sensors could pick up anybody hiding inside. His sweep revealed to heat signatures in the back office of the hangar, but nothing else.

It only took a second to sweep the whole building and find that the heat signatures were just some sides of beef hung in the office. Also inside the office was a large chest freezer and a table with a vidplayer on it. Returning to my body, I informed the other two and summoned up a weak task spirit to retrieve the vidplayer and open the freezer. The freezer turned out to contain the bodies of two Irish mafia elves that had been with Loche when he killed Lady Orange, the Yakuza hitters lover. The vidplayer had a recording of Loche’s magician buddy being tortured. It looked like the hangar was a dead end and we were going to need to search for Deuce again….

Loche looked up from the vidplayer puzzled “Do you guys hear a diesel engine?”

In 2050 cars pretty much drive themselves and accidents almost never happen. But when a guy in an armored truck rams you I don’t think accident is the word. The impact was loud and the delivery truck slide about 10 feet, but none of us were injured. I hadn’t removed the seat belt I was wearing and Loche got lucky that he didn’t crack his skull open on any of the hardware in the back. Armatige was locked safely in his little cocoon and since the truck immediately started to pull away I guessed he had survived as well.

The armored car gave chase. The back of the truck rolled open on its own and Loche dropped flat in the back hooking his arm throw a strap to keep from sliding out. He open fire on the armored truck and so did a couple of the drones in the back. A grenade fired by the drone went off and took out a guy manning a turret on top of the armored truck, but barely strached the truck itself.

Using real magic isn’t about waving your hands or mumbling an ancient language. All it is, is using your will to manipulate the mana around you. A little bit of concentration and I focused the mana between me and the truck and electrified the air. A bolt of lightning shot out and struck the armored truck and its engine died.

Loche unloaded two bursts at the slowing armored truck, taking out the windshield and then the driver. Another man appeared in the turret and opened fire on us, but was only able to damage some of the drones in the back with Loche before Loche took him out.

We circled around and pulled up next to the armored truck. I focused on the mana around the truck feeling for life signs, but it was clear that everyone in the truck was dead. Loche hopped out of the truck and tried to open the armor truck’s back door to no success.
I called out to him that everyone in the truck was dead and not to bother, but he still decided to check anyways. Next time he will probably take my advice, because when he opened the driver side door and checked the driver he set off a booby trap.

Even with a frag grenade going off a foot away the guy still didn’t complain. You do have to give the guy a little respect for that, even if he is only a mundane. Then again the guy has shoved so much ‘ware in his body, he is only half alive anyways, so I guess it is a wash.

We drove off before any SeaTac security spotted us. Armatige said the cameras were looping video from a few hours ago, so we weren’t going to end up on the news later. Of course we were still nowhere nearer to finding Deuce and now Cooper and V’Zier had been added to the list.

I summoned up another spirit and sent it off to find Deuce again while Armatige drove use around the city for a while. When the spirit came back with an image of a pagoda style building in out in The Sprawl I used my commlink to find an address and passed it off to Armatige. I then traveled through the astral plane to the building to make sure Deuce didn’t get moved while we were on our way.

Hovering over the building in astral space it was clear there wasn’t any magical defenses, but something did look off. Living things glow in astral space and instead of the world being light from the sky by the sun and lights over head, the Earth itself glows with life and lights everything from below. But this building was shining on its own. I had seen a similar effect around my own magical lair and it was the reason I had chosen that spot. As best as my research had uncovered the location had be the site of a powerful magician in the Fourth Age and his constant rituals had left a permanent mark on the mana of the area. But it wasn’t nearly as strong as the Pagoda. Something was very wrong here….

As I traveled through the walls and floors of the three story pagoda gathering intel, I found the source. The Yakuza hitter wasn’t some cyber’ed up street sam, he was a cyberzombie. A spirit ripped from its body then magically imprisoned in its own corpse and kept alive through science. Nobody is sure whether it is the torment of the spirit or the bonds needed to capture the spirit, but cyberzombies become a well for mana. It collects around them and builds up until the whole area around them is saturated with mana.

The Yakuza being a cyberzombie means that Loche and Deuce have bigger enemies than some guy upset about a lost lover and a deal gone bad. Cyberzombies require a team of magicians to capture the spirit of the person and teams of doctors and scientists to keep the body alive. Things were going to get interesting when we arrived.

My scouting revealed that V’Zier was in the garden out back, Deuce was on the third floor, and Cooper was in the basement. Not including the cyberzombie there were 12 other guards in the building, and two of them were magicians. The plan was simple, ambush the guards in the garden then enter the building at the top floor drawing the guards up so that we could trap them between Loche and I and Armatige’s drones.

I flew myself up to the roof and placed a magical sound barrier around the garden so the guards inside wouldn’t hear the firefight. Loche hopped the small stone wall around the garden and Armatige flew one of his drones in. The fight was over before the guards knew what was happening. Loche took down a guard with a quick burst of fire, I dropped one with a blast of mana, and Armatige’s drone took down the last guy.

We left V’Zier hanging over the pond in the back as I floated Loche up to the third floor balcony with me. I summoned up a powerful spirit of air to aid us in the coming fight and Loche took a couple practice swings at the door with his axe. My handheld sensor showed two three people in the room with Deuce: two gunmen and one of the magicians.

As Loche broke down the door the magician called up a wave of acid and flung it at him, but Loche was able to just barely move out of the way. I took a quick pot shot at the magician with my gun cane distracting him enough for Loche to take him out with a quick burst of his assault rifle. The spirit sent a blast of frigid air at one of the gunman who was firing at Loche. Loche took out the other gunman just as he was about to fire, but the shots spun him around and he ended up killing his own squadmate.

Loche unchained Deuce, but for all the good that did Deuce was out and collapsed to the floor. I checked my handheld sensor to make sure nobody was on the mezzanine floor below us then summoned up a sound barrier around myself and focused the mana around me to bend the light. Now completely invisible and silent I slowly proceeded down stairs and found the rest of the guards waiting in ambush on the first floor. Luckily the magician with them wasn’t smart enough to be watching the astral plane.

Sending a quick message to Loche to come in on my signal I began weaving the mana in between a group of three gunmen and the magician into a massive soundwave. The blast that went off completely disoriented the four men and I stopped focusing on the spells that were keeping me undetected and instead took what cover I could behind the railing.

Loche came around the corner across from me and unloaded on the cyber zombie below me. The gunmen returned fire, but the three disoriented by my spell weren’t able to hit anything. The magician summoned a blast of fire to take out the supports of the walkway Loche was on, but that was the least of Loche’s worries. The cyberzombie unleashed a spray of bullets unlike anything I had seen. Loche’s cyber-enhanced reflexes allowed him to avoid the brunt of it, but it was obvious a number of rounds had ripped through his armor.

The spirit of air sent a huge blast of air sending one of the gunmen flying across the room. Loche took a quick shot at the magician to dropping him before he destroyed the walkway anymore. I summoned up another sonic boom to take out three of the gunmen, only to slump to my knees not realizing how much I had overexerted myself within the mana rich building.

Loche took another torrent of bullets from the cyberzombie as he returned fire. The spirit took out the last of the gumen, but the cyberzombie was still up and running. Loche looked like he was on his last leg so I used the same spell as earlier to make him invisible to the cyberzombie. But in the end it wasn’t needed. Although the firefight had only lasted a few seconds that had been how long it took Armatige to drive his drones to the front door and blow it down.

With the combined firepower of the air spirit, Armatige’s drones, and Loche the cyberzombie didn’t last long. I felt it when the tortured spirit of the departed Yakuza hitter finally faded into the ether. It would take a while mana of this area would return to its natural levels, but things shouldn’t be too bad.

We loaded Cooper, Deuce, and V’Zier into Armatige’s van and, although it took some convincing, I loaded in the body of the cyberzombie in the van as well. It would be extremely useful to study and maybe glimpse into how the rituals were performed. We also checked the bodies for anything worth taking, we found some cash to split that we split up and I located some magical materials as well.

Deuce recovered a couple days later and thanked us for our help. He said he owed us one and would cut 25% off the cost of anything we need from now on. I was more glad to hear about the discount than anything. With the acquisition of the cyberzombie I am going to be needing a lot of magical materials for my research.

Loche seems more than capable in a gunfight and his slow wittedness will only make him easier to control than the usual mundane. Armatige might be a different story, though he does not wield the true forces of creation, he is at least smart enough to realize how weak he is in comparison. In the end I don’t think there will be much of an issue with working with those two again. And if push comes to shove then both can easily be replaced….

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Cyber Zombie
The past can bite you with a good dose of cyberware and magic.

The group all got a message from Deuce, “Hel” then nothing. No attempts to reach Deuce, Cooper, or Bud were successful. Loche went to Cooper’s condo and discovered that a struggle had taken place and there were bullet holes everywhere. As Loche looked through the mess, Sean immediately went to Deuce’s stomping grounds and discovered a shot up trailer and a missing Deuce. He immediately summons a spirit to track him down. Dom gets the message and traces it back to where Deuce had been when he sent it. He heads towards the area. Meanwhile, Loche finds Cooper’s Warhawk and as soon as he picks it up, a hammer slams into his chest and a a spray of blood hits the wall as a thunderous boom echos throughout the area. Immediately ducking and running for the door, he gets tagged again and heads for the stairs and his bike. When he gets to the bottom of the stairs, he sees a familiar face in the cybered man striding across the lobby towards the elevator. It is the yakuza boss from the Irish Mob caper. As Loche watches, the elevator dings and the doors start to open and the Yakuza just opens up riddles it (and the bystander inside) full of holes. Loche decides that there is nothing in it for him to attack the Yakuza, so he heads down to get his bike. Revving it up and taking off, his vision starts to waver and he crashes in front of Dom’s van as it swerves out of the way. Getting Loche to his street doc, Dom heads to where he though Deuce had been, hooking up with Sean and then figuring out what had happened, the Yakuza boss and two black vans loaded with goons had attacked Deuce. The spirit tracked Deuce to the same warehouse that the group had originally met the Yakuza boss, and the group soon followed with limited preparation. There was nothing at the warehouse except some dead Irish Mob types and a video of Bud being dunked in an ice water pool repeatedly. With some more magical investigating, the group finds where Deuce is being held once again. The group scouts, sets up, getting Sean on the roof who then drops a sound barrier on the back yard where Bud is unconscious with three guards. Loche climbs up on the wall surrounding the back yard and guns two of the guards down and Dom uses a drone to eliminate the last one. Sean levitated Loche to the roof and Dom moved his drones to the front, getting ready to storm the main floor of the location. Loche and Sean slip off the roof to a small balcony and Loche uses his combat axe to smash his way inside. The shaman inside lets loose a blast of acid that just misses him and the two others inside open up with assault rifles, peppering the area around Loche with lead. Sean lets loose an air elemental on one of the guards and Loche guns down the shaman and one of the guards, who spins as he tries to avoid the gunfire and accidently triggers his firearm, spraying the remaining guard with bullets. Sean and Loche move into the room and get ready to move down to the next floor. Loche quickly picks the lock on the chains holding Deuce (who falls to the floor). With a shrug, they move to the door leading down to the second floor and Sean turns invisible and moves out onto the balcony overlooking the first floor, where he maneuvers to the opposite side and drops a sound wave on three of the guards and the remaining shaman. Loche moved out onto the balcony and unloaded into the yakuza boss (now identified as a cyber zombie) standing on the other side of the first floor. The cyber zombie brushes off the bullets like they were mosquitos and moves back behind a pillar for cover. Sean continues to send a barrage of magic at the guards and shaman and whittles them down while Loche continues to engage the cyber zombie and Dom drops a grenade to open the front door. As Loche moves for the cover of the door he came out of, Sean finishes off the last of the guards and the drones move into the area and help finish the cyber zombie off. The group drags Deuce and Cooper out to Dom’s van and then grabs the cyber zombie’s body to throw that in there as well.

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