Hunters Hunted: Report of Wild Things #5

The job: Recover a guide who has lost his mind in the middle of the jungle Take out all the head chiefs of Natural Selection Incorporated

The team:

  • Sergeant Sam, a Street Samurai who now utterly dislikes trees
  • H.R., a bow-wielder who loves getting scammed
  • Eiger, a troll who considers a Cape Buffalo ‘superior cover’
  • Will I Am, a survivalist expert who knows what trees to trust
  • Charmante, a hunter who knows the entire wanted list of the Deadly Five
  • Overwatch, a paranoid support mage who practices hit-and-runs
  • Mae, a manipulative face who can score all the intel and bargains
  • Buffy, a serial-killing Cape Buffalo whose bounty just shot up from 37 grand to a whopping 43

The team (minus Overwatch and Buffy) got contacted by their boss, with the request to help out a crazy guide. Apparently the guy had eaten the wrong thing, lost his mind, and believing he was Neil the Ork Barbarian had fled into the jungle. The rest of the tour was incapable of convincing him to come along, so the troubleshooters had to find him and bring him back. Unfortunately a direct flight hadn’t been arrangable, so instead they had to use a cargo plane from Marocco to their destination with a stop in Egypt along the way.

Meanwhile, Overwatch got the same instructions. Since he already was nearby, all he had to do was travel to the jungle and meet the rest there.

The team had an uneventful flight to Egypt, until the engines started to smoke. While undergoing heavy turbulence the plane went in for an emergency landing. However, even under those circumstances Mae realized the pilot was trying to deceive them and called him out on it. From the resulting conversation she realized he was on their side but had to misdirect for some reason right now.

As the plane landed, the pilot gave the team a hologram-projector to watch ‘a movie’ while he fixed the plane. Since they didn’t trust the situation, most of the team disembarked the plane and immediately spotted a rather peculiar person next to the plane: A man with scales, six arms with claws, a tail and his eyes both on the left side of his face. The changeling greeted them and asked if they had seen their briefing yet. Realizing what the hologram projector was for, the team quickly turned it on and found out their REAL job.

The past months the team had run into rather peculiar situations that all smelled of a puppetmaster pulling strings. That smell had been followed, and Wild Life Incorporated had identified the culprit: Natural Selection Incorporated, a competing company planning a hostile takeover of WLI. Now before NSI got the chance to pull out bigger guns, WLI had decided to head them off. Literally, by taking out their leaders.

Since Natural Selection Incorporated is a big fan on dangerous game hunting, every year their head management would go on a survival trip through Africa. They would forgo a lot of modern technology and travel around tagging wild life for points. At the end, those with the most points would get a prize. Well ladies and gentlemen, each member of head management was now worth a prize of twenty thousand nuyen for the group…

Since NSI’s leaders did not have commlinks or a fixed travel plan, they could be taken out without being alerted. The downside was that they also had to be tracked down first, and if the team managed to tip off NSI the leaders might receive backup. So radio silence was mandatory during the trip.

As a result of the deception, the group was far from civilization in the middle of the Sahara, and only had a single bike with them. Which is where their guide came in. Each day he would call upon a Spirit that would endow the entire group with the ability to move at far greater speeds, allowing them all to move as fast as the bike. It only took the group two days to reach the edge of the Sahara, arriving in a town where they were treated with great suspicion and contempt.

While H.R. was getting scammed buying postcards, Mae managed to calm the locals (despite their scared response to the team’s ‘devil!’ guide) and find out exactly where their hostility was coming from. Apparently a group of arrogant tourists had come through a while ago and had shot local wildlife and even people’s goats for fun. Mae received the advice to not go to a town in the south where those crazy people had gone. So the group left, travelled east for a while, and when they were out of sight quickly turned towards the south and chased after their quarries.

A day later the team arrived 2 km away from said town, where they were awaited by a grumpy Overwatch. Apparently he had been sent here in the hopes the team would come by here, so he could aid them with his spells. The first thing he did was pull a gun on the guide, the second was to regain his composure and refrain from pulling the trigger. A bit of smoothtalking later the guide bade the group farewell and returned north to the peaceful desert. Next up, proper transportation and the next trail for them to follow.

The group did some searching and figured out where to rent cars. Meanwhile, H.R. went off to buy postcards for Buffy, expressing disappointment at not being scammed. A grumpy response quickly came up with a scam of 20 special edition postcards for 500 nuyen, which he bought with great delight. While H.R. was gleefully getting scammed, Mae ended up driving a bargain so hard with the rental company that she practically ended up scamming them. She also smoothly pumped the man for intel on other rented cars, finding out that their quarries seemed to have rented several cars and a truck and had ventured into bad areas of the Congo Tribal Lands. Apparently they had arranged for soldiers of a Congo warlord to protect them on their trip.

After Overwatch checked the jeeps for explosives and bugs, the group ventured south into the Tribal Lands. When night came they set up camp and did a quick scouting trip around their tents. Doing so they came upon a strange apple tree with bright red fruits and statues surrounding it. As they studied the situation, three team members suddenly began walking towards the tree as if enchanted by its fruits. Realizing something was wrong, the remaining team members quickly took out their teammates. Mae mind-controlled Sam to walk back to their camp, William grappled Charmante to the ground and Overwatch grabbed a car and ran over Eiger. These attacks managed to break the strange control the tree had over their teammates.

With some online research the group discovered they were dealing with a Gomorrah Apple Tree. These trees would lure people in with its tasty fruits, but consuming the fruits would cause the victim to petrify into the extremely lifelike statues they had seen around the tree… H.R. immediately grabbed an incendiary arrow and lit the tree up like an american christmas tree. Using various methods the team prevented the fire from spreading into the savannah before going to bed.

The next day while driving south the team spotted another suspicious tree, with both predators and prey peacefully sitting in its branches. While Sam immediately readied his Assault Cannon, Mae and William realized they were dealing with a Zieba tree and convinced Sam to stand down. Unlike the Gomorrah Apple Trees these trees posed no treat to people, their calming effect solely serving to cause locals to not wish to harm the trees. Creatures and people climbing the tree would leave on their own accord in a manner of mere hours.

Despite this, there was still a body next to the tree. But when they studied the corpse, the team quickly realized this was not the result of the tree. Instead, someone had used a hunting rifle, most likely a Remington 950, to shoot the man while he was sitting in the tree. This was exactly the kind of behaviour and gun the group expected from Natural Selection Incorporated… And the clothing of the victim, a Caucasian dressed like a servant, helped cement that impression, as it seemed like the kind of person rich snobs would force to come with them on a hunting trip.

The trackers of the group failed horribly for a while before finally managing to find old tiretracks belonging to their quarries. Using the cameras of their jeeps they managed to follow the tracks while at high speed, quickly drawing in on the unsuspecting targets. Employing Long Haul and a Sleep Regulator, they continued even after nightfall. At night they encountered a group of Umdhlebi, trees that suffocate those who approach them and then drag their victims under… Making them very glad they were safely in their car.

Shortly after daybreak the team discovered the corpses of local wildlife, both gazelles and a lion. Apparently NSI did not even bother bagging their kills, doing it solely for the points. Nearby they managed to make out a figure hidden in the bushes, which they soon realized was a very familiar Cape Buffalo: The serial hunter-killer Buffy that had aided them in the jungle two months ago. Charmante, who had not been present then, recognized him as having 37 grand as bounty on his head, which the rest told her they already knew of and did not care about.

H.R. gave a lot of tasty hay to Buffy, while Sam gave a quick call to excentric billionaire Richard William Dickens IV, asking whether he was interested in observing Buffy and H.R. messing about. Shortly after ending that phonecall, the group realized that Buffy was tracking the same people they were and drove on along with him. At dusk the team noticed the NSI camp only half a dozen kilometres away. They parked their cars and studied the terrain before coming up with a warplan…

The camp had four sentries, several tents and vehicles, then in the middle a huge musquito net held up by pillars. Within that net were several small trees, luxurious tents and eight loud drunk managers around a campfire. In the outer ring two tents seemed to contain soldiers, while two others appeared to belong to servants. The grass was tall enough to barely hide someone sneaking about. Near the camp was a small creek which could supply cover, and to the back were a few small hills that also could cover an approach. Two spirits would help conceal the group so the guards would have no chance at all to notice them.

A combination of snipers taking out sentries, grenades and suppressive fire at the inner pit, a plant spirit gleefully commanding tree roots to crush foul wildlife murderers, and a Cape Buffalo and Overwatch quickly taking care of the soldier tents ended up clearing the entire camp in mere seconds. Only the servants were spared in these bloody seconds, and after when Buffy made sure to kill all surviving soldiers despite Sam’s attempts to stop him. Knowing mercy the team allowed the servants to take two of the cars and leave.

The team called in their success, then rounded up all their bullets and shell casings, grabbed all the items in the camp and stole the other cars, including a big truck that they put all the corpses in. With all that they travelled back north to feed the corpses to the Umdhlebi trees. Going further north they returned their own cars while keeping the stolen ones, to hide the evidence of their actions. After that, all that was left was letting Richard drop by to take a look at Buffy, and to then put their new payday to good use: Joining their boss in shortselling Natural Selection Incorporated’s stock.

With the guidance of their boss and some dirty tricks, after WLI eventually gobbled up NSI each team member ended up with approximately 0.5% of the stock of Wild Life Incorporated, guaranteeing a very luxurious retiring funds.

With this ends the short campaign about the Troubleshooters of Wild Life Incorporated, and their great and insane efforts to protect their boss’s profit line. In their defense against several sabotage attempts they have dealt with Trolls shapeshifted magically into Polar Bears, murderous bug spirits and all kinds of strange trees. They also dealt with a rich arrogant bastard, heated soldiers, an unwilling and unknowing assassin with a bomb in her head, highly-armored VTOL planes and paranoid warlords about to go to war. Most importantly, they dealt with their own lack of social empathy and a Face perfectly willing to knock them out if it meant shutting them up so she could do her job already thank you very much.

Thanks to that all, the company is now once again ready to deal with the biggest and most unpredictable problem of all: tourists…

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