Monday Night Shadowrun

The dive formerly known as Carrion Studios

The team decided to rest for a day to recover from the wounds they’d picked up at the junkyard. There was some debate about whether they should lay low at a random motel to reduce the chance that whoever else is after the disk would find them, but in the end decided to crash in the comfort of Faceman’s apartment.

The next evening they head to Healy Productions, a two-bit amateur recording operation which twenty years ago used to house Carrion Studios, which was written on the back of the disk. Even though it’s midnight, the lights are on and the door is wide open, revealing a corridor with peeling old gig promotion posters on the walls. This leads to a reception area where a young woman with a pink Mohawk and teal fake eyelashes sits behind a desk, chewing bubble gum and looking distracted, probably by some Simsense program. Faceman makes some small talk before asking about Carrion, which the girl has never heard of. She’s heard of Jet Black though, her Dad liked him back in the day, but she had no idea he was ever in the building. She yells down the corridor for ‘Stan’, in response to which an Ork with white hair pushing a mop and bucket appears. He remembers Carrion, reminiscing about the good old days when the studio was among the most renowned. He said he started just after the dates in question, but that there might be some records in the archive store. He remembers the lead studio engineer at the time was a really hot woman whose name he forgets, but he remembers she had blue dreadlocks and got into BTL problems after Carrion went under. If anyone was in on that recording session it would be her, and all the details should have been noted in the studio records.

Stan takes them down to the archive store and unlocks it – he says he doesn’t have to worry about them stealing anything in there, the bosses would probably be happy if they took some of it off their hands. It’s a 4m x 4m room, musty smelling, full of old archive boxes stacked right to the back wall. The team take a section each and start searching.

Aside from a really nasty cardboard cut that Faceman manages to inflict on himself, they spend a boring hour searching. Then finally Lightning finds a box at the back, buried under several others that is labelled ‘Carrion 47-49’, the period they’re looking for. Unfortunately, that section of the room also contains a pack of Devil Rats, awakened creatures about the size of small dogs who magically conceal themselves before ambushing those who are disturbing their nest. Because of their concealment they take the team by surprise and cause some minor wounds but are nevertheless not a huge threat. Mouse quickly discovers that they’re dual-natured and are easily visible in astral space even when concealed, so she and Tor switch to astral vision. They fight / evade their way back to the door with the box, and a bit of burst fire from Tor and Lightning finishes the nest off with only a few minor scratches and bites taken. Stan comes running back at the sound of gunfire and apologises for forgetting about the rat potential – it has been a few years since he’s been in there!

So the team now has a box of studio records to go through to try to get a lead on who might have been present at the recording session of the disk.

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Disk: acquired

We resumed with Mouse facing 2 grunts and a mage in the cul de sac where Kerwin Loomis had been cornered. Kit / King Jack hot-footed it around the corner to the opposite side of the stack to jump into a Fly Spy drone, which he planned to use to retrieve the disk. One grunt and the mage turned around, the other keeping an eye on Kerwin. Mouse dropped a Hot Potato spell (makes people think metal is hot) on the area, causing the second grunt to drop his gun, although she also let the bugs spell lapse so the other grunt came around. Kerwin also dropped the disk as it feels red hot to him. The mage threw a Stunbolt spell at Mouse, but it had no effect on her. Before dropping his gun the grunt that turned around also shot Mouse with his taser, giving her a nasty shock. She retreated around the corner calling for backup and the opposition also try to take what little cover they can in the cul de sac.

Meanwhile, Lightning, Tor and Faceman were running to this location, Tor driving the car through the gates and Faceman trying to assemble his collapsable bow. Lightning and Faceman get there first, Faceman staying out of sight while assembling his bow. Lightining shoots around the corner and wounds the mage badly – he uses Edge to re-roll some damage resistance to stay up. Lightning calls for his surrender. In response, the mage switches away from non-lethal spells and drops a maxed-out (but not overcast) Powerball on both Mouse and Lightning, and rolls well enough to do some serious damage. Mouse’s counterspelling saves her, but Lightning is not protected – he fails his resistance and a wave of energy wounds him quite badly. Being a Direct spell, it ignores armour and resonates directly with living tissue. However the downside of Direct spells is that they’re more draining, and the mage passes out immediately after casting it. Simultaneously Mouse drops a Stunball on the area and knocks out one of the two grunts, and Kerwin.

Kit’s reaches the disk inside his drone body, and deftly picks it up with a tiny robotic arm and pincers before flying back over the wall of debris.

Only one grunt is left standing. Lighting and Tor (who has now reached the other side of the stacks) both shoot at him, but he dodges both shots. He draws his Colt Manhunter and gets one shot off but it goes wild. Lightning puts him down in his second pass.

Kit looks at the disk he’s retrieved and finds it’s an optical format that stopped being used decades ago, in a paper sleeve labelled “JB Carrion Studios ’48. For enlightenment, seek out absent friends”. When Kerwin wakes up and panics that he can’t find the disk, the team pretend that they don’t have it (or rather, Faceman does since he can do it with a straight face), and intimidate him into telling them more about it. He says that his Dad left it to him, along with the crappy Coda bar, and that it’s worth millions because it contains previously unreleased tracks by Jet Black, one of the most famous rock stars in the last 50 years. He’s obviously devastated at having lost it, not because its sentimental value but because he viewed it as his only chance at making a bit of money.

When they start hearing distant sirens, the team hastily leave the scene. They decide to head back to The Cathode Glow since it’s the only place they’ve seen tech old enough to potentially read the disk and they want to make sure it’s the real deal. After paying the eccentric owner a couple of hundred Nuyen for use of an old computer in a back room, and some hasty wiring and soldering of an interface, they manage to read it. The top level of the disk is encrypted, but Kit breaks through it in a few minutes. Underneath that is a number of short previews of tracks, which are clearly written by a talented person but which are very low quality. The rest of the disk is a data blob which is encrypted in such an extensive way that a brute force attack would take years, and requires a key to decrypt. Kit also detects a data bomb attached to it which will likely erase the data if tampered with. Assuming that this contains the full quality tracks, clearly having the decryption key is vital to realising the worth of the disk.

The team debate whether they should re-negotiate the price of the deal knowing what they know now (Faceman’s suggestion), or as Lightning and Kit suggested, trying to find the decryption key so that they can complete the contract on the original terms (good for their reputation), but then be able to offer Mr Johnson the key for a significantly higher sum, as a separate deal. The latter is more work, but it retains their reputation for fair dealing while still making more money.

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Scrap yard scrap

Lightning and Faceman entered the scrap yard behind the Coda bar, looking for Kerwin Loomis. They split up to search faster, with the leader of the gang protecting Coda initially following Faceman before splitting off.

Lightning encountered the first resistance, finding a man in a dark coat armed with a Yamaha Pulsar taser who told him to back off. Lightning shot the gun out of his hand (by actually shooting his hand), prompting the man to draw his Colt Manhunter instead. At this stage, since Lightning was using his silenced guns, things are still quite discrete.

Meanwhile, Faceman spotted two other grunts at the base of the crane in the middle of the scrap yard, but they hadn’t noticed him yet. He decided to take them head on with his katana by closing quickly, but focussed his attack on one of them, wounding him and putting him off enough that he shot wildly. The other grunt shot Faceman with his taser though.

Mouse quickly scouted the area in astral space, identifying that in addition to the people already spotted, there was a sniper on the roof of the crane cab (Lightning had seen a laser sight earlier but hadn’t seen its source), and a man at the far corner of the yard being chased by three others, one of which seemed to spot her in astral space. Kit / King Jack meanwhile found a safe in the back office of Coda and started to break into it.

Lightning dodged the grunt’s shot from his Manhunter (which made a lot of noise) and dispatched him in his bioware-enhanced second initiative pass, moving to the corner to try to take out the sniper. The sniper was aware of him by then though because of the grunt’s gun shot, and took a shot which only missed because of good cover, and because Lighting switched to a full dodge for that pass. Lightning switched to Slap and Tickle with explosive ammo and took out the sniper.

Faceman was shot by both grunts, using Edge to avoid the first but the second taser took him down. Lightning ran across and shot one of them, while the Ork gang leader ran from the other direction, having been attracted by the gunfire, although he missed the grunt. The other grunt surrendered. Lightning used his medkit on Faceman who came around, and promptly killed the prone grunt.

Mouse and Kit (having broken into the safe and looted it) went around the edge of the yard to find Kerwin backed into a corner, climbed up a way on a stack of cars, threatening to destroy the disk if the 3 people facing him didn’t back off. Mouse dumped a Bugs spell on the area, which affected one of the grunts, and unfortunately Kerwin, who glitched his roll and fell off, dropping the disk. The other two turned around…

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Geek bars and dive bars

After finishing their discussion with Nabo, the team regrouped. However, while they’d been talking, Kit / King Jack had been left in the car on his own, and someone had crept in while he was occupied rigging the drone and stolen his commlink. Even though his commlink is low-grade (since Kit / King Jack is a Technomancer), it’s also his only data storage, and now contained the data extracted from Nabo’s commlink, so they needed to recover it. After remembering the tramp, they entered the factory and heard someone moving up above. Mouse located him in an attic room in astral space, and scared the life out of him with a physical manifestation. Once [[:lightning] and Faceman had climbed up, they subdued the tramp and retrieved the commlink.

The team headed back to Lightning‘s place for some rest. On the way, Kit / King Jack found the email from the person selling the disk in Nabo’s deleted data, along with a bunch of other data including some contact numbers for famous stars. The email appears to have been anonymised, but Kit / King Jack traced it back via a number of relays fairly easily (it wasn’t the most professional job) to a the account of a hacker going by the name of Zipper. A bit more research indicated that Zipper was a regular at a place called The Cathode Glow, a geek bar downtown.

While he researched, the others went out to try to steal a new car. They were keen to get a van, but in downtown there weren’t very many. They eventually found one and broke in, only to find it was a delivery van designed for drones, so it had no seats and only a backup manual control system (joystick). So they stole another sedan a little way away afterwards instead.

Arriving at The Cathode Glow, they proceeded to the basement-level bar. on opening the second door at the bottom, they saw that the bar was bristling with ancient technology, on the walls, ceiling and even under glass in the floor – terminals, old disk drives, teletype machines, obscure game consoles, you name it, it’s here. In AR, each of these had a pair of bug-eyes on it, and sometimes arms. Anyone scanning the networks in the room realised that the whole place was crammed with nodes, many of them very high tech among the ancient tech.

There were a number of tables scattered around with comfy leather chairs next to them, with an assortment of geeks doing all sorts from tinkering with hardware to playing AR games. As they came in several people received automated messages about security vulnerabilities in their commlinks with helpful links to how they could address them.

The bar had no obvious serving area, until a panel in the wall opened and a red R2-unit trundled out, only to stop in front of them an make the typical beep-bloop noises. Helpfully, in AR subtitles appeared, indicating this was how you ordered your drinks, which they did. After sifting through the hundreds of nodes in the room, Kit / King Jack located Zipper’s profile at the back of the room.

Zipper turned out to be a spiky-haired young female dwarf, sharing a table with a female friend and playing some kind of AR word game. She looked wary as the team approached. Faceman did most of the talking, only briefly interrupted by Kit / King Jack pointing out the word puzzle solution. After Zipper initially avoided their questions, with a little bit of subtle intimidation Faceman managed to get her to talk. It seems she arranged the mailings for a friend who was afraid of them being traced back to him. She was adamant that her friend, Kerwin Loomis wasn’t selling stolen goods, and that he inherited what he was selling from his Dad, although she doesn’t know exactly what it is. The team notice that while she’s talking she looks momentarily distracted, which means she probably did something in AR. Kit / King Jack manages to catch the tail end of a transmission to warn Kerwin that someone is going to be looking for him. She revealed that Kerwin is a bit of a coward and owns a bar called Coda near the docks, and that he’s likely to be there because that’s where he feels safest, among friends who protect him. She asks them not to hurt him, and she’s sure he didn’t do anything wrong.

The team headed straight down to Coda, which is as crappy as its reputation suggested it would be. The neon sign is missing the ‘o’, all the windows are barred, there are BTL chip-heads in the porch, vomit on the floor, and 6 rough-looking gang members (mixture of ork and human) playing pool in the main room. As they go to approach the bar, the gang members block their way; a large ork with a cyberarm and a machine pistol at his hip does the talking, saying they’re Kerwin’s security. Faceman convinces him that they’re here to buy and have money (he’s dressed well enough that the ork buys this), and he radios Kerwin. However, seconds later Kerwin radios back, clearly panicking and asking for help. The ork looks surprised and runs out the back, followed by his gang and the team.

Out the back of Coda is a large scrapyard, full of walls of stacked cars like giant supermarket aisles (although a few of the stacks have fallen over, making it more of a maze). It’s surrounded by a 3m high fence topped with razor wire, but a section of the fence has been peeled back, large enough for a person to squeeze through. The ork heads straight for that – Kerwin was obviously hiding in the scrapyard somewhere. As they’re climbing through the hole after the gang, Lightning notices the brief sweep of a laser sight beam in between the stacks – the origin and target aren’t visible from here but clearly, something’s going on.

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I met Nabo!

Looking for information on Nabo‘s whereabouts, Kit / King Jack’s probed Sangri-La public-facing servers for weak points and after a couple of hours managed to get in and start perusing the staff information. He found that Nabo‘s agent was Francis Smith. After decrypting his email, he discovered that although Nabo had been reserved a suite at the Elysium hotel in downtown Seattle, he’d insisted on spending his last free night before the world tour with his old gang the Black Fangs. There was a bit of an argument about it, but eventually he was allowed to go, accompanied by a security detail led by Simon Jones. The map reference indicated the gang was holed up in the Redmond Barrens, in a street which had a small factory on one side and a collapsed multi-storey car park on the other.

In the mean time, Faceman and Lightning sparred a little with sheathed weapons (katana and knives respectively). Lightning seemed to come off slightly better this time and his synaptic booster gave him a speed edge. However when Faceman switched to full defence with his Katana it became something of a stalemate.

Mouse did reconnaissance via astral projection, discovering that the collapsed car park was the location they were looking for. The bottom floor has been jacked up to support the otherwise ruined structure, turning it effectively into a man-made cave with the in/out entrances still intact. The outside is protected by concrete barriers and a couple of trolls, with a couple of humans a little way inside quite near to a parked limo. Further inside the spacious area is a smattering of old trucks with very large speaker systems mounted on top, a large fire pit around which an Ork is sleeping (Mouse thought this was Nabo but it turned out later to be Jager, 8 motorcycles parked in the back, several gun racks and a couple of adjoining rooms, one of which contained 9 sleeping Orks and the other which seemed to be a valuables room. The back of the den was dark though, and Mouse couldn’t make out many details beyond that (she can only seem living creatures auras in astral space, and when manifesting into physical space couldn’t make out enough detail without lighting). She could tell from auras that most of the Orks had some sort of cybernetics although nothing excessive, and none were magically aware.

The team decided to try to bluff their way in to speak to Nabo in the first instance, led by Faceman with Lightning as backup. Kit / King Jack gave Faceman a spider drone to take with him to use as a wireless relay, which could be dropped inside to find Nabo‘s commlink if that didn’t work. Tor would provide sniper cover from across the road should things go pear-shaped, and Mouse would travel there in astral again and try to disable at least some people with a stunball if it came to that.

They drove there and hid the car around the back of the factory across the road, by cutting through some wire to gain access. The dishevelled, bearded face of a hobo of some sort was watching from a window in the factory while they did this. Kit / King Jack jumped into his spider drone which Faceman kept in his pocket, staying physically in the car, while Tor tried to find a good sniper spot (failing to climb the rusted structures inside, eventually taking a spot on a smaller outbuilding instead).

Faceman and Lightning approached the trolls, and Faceman got past the initial stony-faced reaction of the trolls and started up a conversation. However, the initial line of wanting to talk to Nabo about business wasn’t washing – as convincing as Faceman was, Sangri-La never lets its artists deal with their own business affairs, this would have to go through his agent. Lightning changed tack to suggesting that Nabo might be in danger because of some illicit merchandise he’d been offered, which when picked up by Faceman as a line was convincing enough to get the troll to call over his boss, Simon Jones, who let them talk to Nabo, escorted and after giving up their weapons (at least, the ones he could find).

Nabo was asleep, clearly after a hard night partying and looked a bit of a mess. When hearing about the potential danger he tried to brush it off, clearly repeating a common argument he’s had with Simon Jones about Jager being able to totally handle any security issues and that Sangri-La is worrying far too much. After a bit of prodding from Faceman he remembered the email and said he’d dismissed it because he thought it was spam. He jabbed inexpertly at his commlink for a while but confirmed he didn’t have it anymore, he’d deleted it. While they were talking, Kit / King Jack scanned his commlink (which was completely unsecured) and downloaded all of his deleted data, confident of being able to recover the email with a little work since it was quite recently deleted. Faceman took that opportunity to end the conversation, saying if he’d deleted it then Nabo would be safe. Simon Jones took his commlink contact number just in case there were any related issues later on, and Nabo perked up a bit when they mentioned the upcoming concert, which he said was going to be SO awesome and they TOTALLY had to come.

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In search of a disc

Research through several contacts revealed that the optical disk the team was looking for was not being offered for sale in open channels, indicating it was most likely being offered to select clients only.

Kit / King Jack‘s contact Dan Solo eventually came back with the goods, that a friend-of-a-friend had heard the rising Ork rock star Nabo and his gang laughing in a bar about an offer he’d had for ‘a disc comprising previously unknown tracks from a legendary dead rocker’. The friend remembered Nabo joking that he didn’t realise Elvis was still recording. It sounds like they didn’t take is seriously, but if the team could somehow get to Nabo or specifically his commlink, you could obtain the message and try to trace it back to the source.

Nabo is holding his last concert on his home turf, the Redmond Barrens, a haunt of his former gang Black Fangs, in 2 nights time. It’s sold out – Nabo is a major role model for this crowd and no-one wants to miss his last gig before he goes off on tour. Tickets are obtainable in small quantities but for a highly inflated price of 200¥ each.

Lightning remembers that he’s heard that Nabo’s best friend Jager has been put in charge of security for all the previous gigs, and he’s probably doing it for this one too. Jager is known to have a bit of a novacoke habit.

The team decides to scope out the warehouse where the concert is due to take place, and steal a car a little way away from Faceman‘s house to get there, since the buses / taxis won’t go out to the barrens. Tor drives them out there, and they find that the warehouse is basically prepped (ground around cleared, some basic furniture & staging set up etc) but otherwise deserted. Kit / King Jack leaves a Flyspy drone behind to monitor things. The team returns to Lightning‘s pad in Bellevue since it’s closer.

Faceman calls Felicity ‘Fel’ Belchamp to try to obtain tickets. Fel advises against going to the gig because it’s bound to be a bit rough, but agrees to source some tickets, although they’re expensive.

Kit / King Jack‘s Flyspy reports back with video footage of workmen setting up a large number of portaloos at the warehouse. Some of the men are wearing badges, but they can’t quite make out the names despite ‘zooming and enhancing’.

Faceman calls Darius St. George to try to find tickets and information about Nabo. He says he can get the tickets and tells them that Nabo is on one of Sangri-La’s labels (a Horizon subsidiary), and that he wishes he’d signed him. He agrees to get some tickets which he’ll cover the cost of, but tells the team he won’t be able to get any information from Sangri-La about Nabo’s current whereabouts, because they’re competitors and they’d see him coming a mile off. He seems a bit annoyed when pressed on this and says he hired the team so they’d do the legwork, not come back to him for it. (Remember, one of the main reasons Shadowrunner teams get hired is so that the connection between the job and the employer is hazy / deniable – therefore Mr Johnson getting directly involved in the detail of the job is a big no-no. However, maybe this might raise a flag in your head as to why Mr Johnson, or rather his employer, needs a Shadowrun team for this particular job…OK it’s probably faster and more direct than waiting for Lone Star to investigate, but still.)

The team discussed how they might contact Nabo before the concert if possible to avoid the throng. They’re going to try to find out where he’s staying before the gig.

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First run begins

Mouse’s brother (fixer) contacted her to let her know a job had come up that was suitable for a new team (and importantly didn’t sound like it would get his sister killed). Mr Johnson wanted to meet at Infinity at 9pm the following night – ask the elven barmaid (Sarissa) about arrangements for the Johnson party.

After a little socialising, giving a small tip to Sarissa jogged her memory of the meeting details and you met with Mr Johnson, aka Darius St. George upstairs in the Blue Room.

Mr Johnson told the team that his employer had an unusual item stolen from him recently, an old-style optical disk with some undisclosed music content which has ‘personal and sentimental value’ to him/her. He said the theft was only discovered when rumours surfaced that someone was trying to sell it. The team is being hired to recover the disk, and also to ensure that no copies have been made or the content given to others – if it appears that there are copies, the team must track them down and destroy them.

For recovering the disk and making sure the contents are secure, he offered 10,000¥, half in advance. The team agreed and took the 5000¥ advance and split it 5 ways.

After returning to Faceman’s well-appointed condo, research started. The team learned of Mr Johnson’s true identity (Darius St. George), began to try to find who was offering the disk for sale.

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The Story So Far

Regardless of your backgrounds, you’re all new to the Shadowrunning business. You’ve either turned to it because you have no other option, because you want to make some money without being a wage slave, for the excitement or maybe some other reason.

Everyone knows that Shadowrunning alone is suicide – without a team with a good balance of skills you’re probably going to get killed or thrown in a corporate prison pretty fast. For this reason, each of you reached out to your contacts and through networks like ShadowSea and Jackpoint for people looking to form a new team. So far, you haven’t met in person but have done enough background checks on each other to feel fairly happy that nobody’s a plant, and that collectively you cover good ground. You’ve put the word out that a new team is available, and are currently waiting for the first job to come through one of your fixers or other contacts. Seattle is one of the best places to get this sort of work, so you’re confident it’ll happen even though you currently don’t have a reputation to help you.

Let’s hope it’s soon though – even imitation soy food isn’t free.

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