Raid Party: Report of Black Hearts #3.B

The agents:

  • Doll, a dwarven Street Samurai with a peculiar fashion sense
  • Templar, a human assassin who easily resorts to violence
  • Zen, a human magician who’s very happy with his temporary friends

Their Mission, should they choose to accept it:
To raid a drug cartel’s safehouse, destroying all narcotics inside.

While walking through the streets of their home town, each agent received a specially crafted AR-commercial titled “You were/will be from Gandahar” that told them to buy the book Les Hommes-machines contre Gandahar. Recognizing that as their code for this month, they headed to the bookstore noted in the message to pick up the book. The establishment owner was so happy to sell his favorite book, he promptly offered it to them for free, as well as inviting them in back for a chat about the book.

In the back, the agents received the first part of their mission briefing, as well as the ¥2000 standard advance. Their UCAS handler asked them to head to Paris (the one in Texas) to raid a Mirando-cartel safehouse, without being identified by either the cartel or Lone Star – and, of course, staying out of the latter’s hands. They would need to go to the gothic-themed Darling Violetta bar in Paris for further instructions. With their plane tickets in hand, booked on their CAS identities, the runners had half an hour to prepare before heading to the airport.

All three chose to travel relatively light – with Doll deciding, after a short consideration, that it might be a bad idea to bring her explosives in her carry-on bag. The SIN-checker had some problems; Templar got lucky, as he got flagged as a VIP and got to spend time in the VIP lounge. Doll and Zen were decidedly less so, with the systems showing some inconsistencies, resulting in a… detailed checkup. Rubber gloves were involved. In the end, however, everything got cleared up, and they all boarded the plane. Unfortunately for Templar, all in coach.

When they arrived in Paris, the agents decided to spruce up their costume a bit with local clothing, including a rather overpriced and over-everything cowboy hat for Doll. They headed over to the Darling Violetta and sat in a booth with Desert Wars playing, as the briefing said, and waited for their contact, the waitress Clara. When she dropped by their booth she gave them menus that covertly contained the rest of their briefing.

Like the initial briefing said, their target was a Mirando-cartel safehouse. The cartel managed to get a foothold in Texas, primarily through the sale of Tempo and Novacoke. Lone Star took notice, forcing the cartel to switch locations regularly. The current safehouse, however, had been in the same location for two months. Present there was a fairly large stash with plenty of security. A stash the UCAS wanted gone, with its guards all taken outh (dead or alive, at the team’s discretion). Specifically, the UCAS wanted it gone quick; Lone Star was planning a raid on the place in three days so it needed to be dealt with before then.

With Lone Star keeping their distance, as to not alert the cartel, there’d be an opening for the team to use but Lone Star would be on the scene in a heartbeat if an alarm went out. Again, not being identified was to be of the utmost importance. To that effect, the agents received odor-suppressing and DNA-destroying rollers and sprays at their hotel rooms. Their payment would consist of the credsticks and other loot found at the scene – with added payment if that turned out not to be enough.

After the briefing, Doll headed over to a nearby sports store – having an evening sale – to pick up some ski goggles and a rather oversized respirator, while Zen picked up some clothes in the Darling Violetta’s in-house store, already having a gas mask ready to hide his face. Meanwhile, Templar planned on using his own disguise skill and face-sculpting power to hide himself.

First, however, it was time to get some transportation and do some surveillance. Getting a car rental in Texas isn’t exactly hard, so they headed over to the nearest rental place. Templar used his CAS identity to rent a pickup and once off the lot Zen used an illusion to change the car’s color.

When they arrived at the address, they found an old 3-story house, with a single guard on the balcony, lazily looking out. The house had an alarm system, but it appeared to have been neglected and likely had been nonfunctional for a while, while Zen couldn’t detect any astral protection either.

The team decided not to stick around for too long, so after a quick discussion on possible avenues of attack, they decided to head over to the hotel and discuss a plan in a more discrete location.

On the ride back, however, a small insignificant hurdle quickly turned into a bigger one. A lonely Lone Star patrolman, down on his ticket quota for the week, noticed a blue pickup coming by with green listed on its registration – none of the agents had thought to alter the signal the rental is transmitting. Not a big deal – people forget to update their registration all the time – but hey, with a quiet night and it upping the quota, the cop went for a ticket.

The cop expected a routine stop and at first all goes well. Templar, behind the wheel, stopped the car once he sees the lights, and the cop, after a quick chat, mentioned the incorrect registration. Templar managed to get the cop in a friendly mood, and since it was a rental, the cop decided to just file the ticket with them, so the agents wouldn’t be bothered by it.

And then it all went to hell. Templar decided that a ticket for an incorrect car color would raise alarms with the rental company, so he figured the cop had to go. And so Templar stepped out of the car, then used his garrote on the poor innocent cop, to lethal effect.

In full view of the camera in the cop car.

That was broadcasting the signal to the station.

The party quickly realized what trouble they got themselves into, and acted with haste. As the sirens started to flare up in the distance, they put the unfortunate officer in his car, and send it careening down the road.

Where it promptly ran into a car with a family inside.

Luckily for our murderous agents, they were in a quiet part of town in an off-road vehicle, and they managed to escape the cops long enough for Zen to remember he had just the spell for this: he switched the car’s signal with a random parked car, throwing the cops off their scent just long enough for them to dump the car and get out of dodge.

After regrouping in the middle of the night back at the hotel, they decided to call it a night – they still had a day to finish the mission.

They woke up to the sound of the news, with a big story about a heroic cop brutally murdered last night, and the family of four at the scene, the parents in critical condition and the young boy killed as the murderers turned the car into innocent bystanders.

Turning off the depressing news, they decided to skip the whole car-hiring scheme and go to the location by bus. Their plan was to do a quick sweep under the cover of invisibility provided by Zen, who would send a high-force spirit along while staying on the lookout outside.

Templar, Doll and the spirit entered through a window on the second floor, thanks to Templar’s Wall Walking. Unfortunately, Doll managed to make a little more noise than she had planned, causing one of the thugs inside to check out the noise. The poor thug, alone and facing two hardened and invisible killers, didn’t stand a chance – except for being able to make enough noise to alert his comrades. The big puddle of blood in the hall didn’t help either.

Three more guards came looking and a gunfight broke out. The first few guards were still unready, however, with them just coming from their GTA18 game. As a result the three invisible assailants – especially the spirit – easily ripped through the thugs. Quickly securing the second floor, taking all narcotics and credsticks they could find, the team headed back to the stairs to take the other floors, with Templar on point.

Then a complication reared its ugly head, in the form of a grenade bouncing down the stairs. Templar quickly dove behind a wall, cushioning most of the blast – though he still managed to get a decent ding from all the shrapnel flying around. On top of that, if no one was alerted yet, the whole neighborhood now knew what was going on, so it wouldn’t take long for the first officers to arrive.

Our agents were on the ball, however, and after a short but intense firefight – where they got away with only Doll taking a glancing blow – they split up, with Templar going downstairs and Doll taking the spirit upstairs. Templar issued an intimidating threat to the remaining thugs, enough to make one of them attempt to leave – although he was quickly shot by one of his companions.

Still invisible, and still trained killers, the two agents quickly took out the remaining, demoralized guards. Each went through their floor fast, taking any drugs and money – thankfully hidden in plain sight. Doll did find a small problem on the top floor, in one of the bedrooms – the thugs had a lady friend over for a visit, and she was in the bed, high and out of her mind from fear. Luckily for Doll, her invisibility held up, and she quickly went to the other rooms, leaving the civilian behind.

Another thing Doll noticed was hidden cameras, but since they were disguised and unrecognizable there was nothing to worry about. So the team gathered up all the narcotics scattered throughout the building and brought them to the basement, where they found the main stash. The team prepared to set fire to it all, with just enough time to spare to get out before the cops would arrive.

Which is when the spirit asked them, if they were going to destroy this all, why didn’t they pick up the stuff in the room with the nice lady. Oops, turned out Doll missed that part after being distracted by all the screaming.

So the team went for plan B and decided to blow it all up. With Doll being an expert in architecture, and Templar knowing enough about it to be able to give a hand, they easily found a weak spot for the whole building to blow the whole thing up. Being a demolition expert has their use occasionally. Setting the timer and running for it, while Zen started erasing his signature, they managed to get away from the exploding building just in time to avoid the eyes of the arriving police.

Once back safe and sound, Templar got a good chewing out for blowing his CAS SIN – the police easily tracking down the car rental – but he (barely) managed to talk himself out of taking a pay cut for the mess that their handler had to clean up now.

The narcotics destroyed and the guards all resting in pieces, and with innocents as collateral damage in the single digits, the mission was declared a success and our agents went home content.

Soft Talks: Report of Black Hearts #3.A

The agents:

  • Bubbles, a neon-green elven lady that loves her blood spatters
  • Scottie, a tall human that always packs the biggest gun
  • Visage, a male NAN human who’s a social creature of (dis)comfort

Their Mission, should they choose to accept it:
To negotiate a deal with the Artosa cartel in the fight against the Mirando cartel

While walking through the streets of their home town, each agent received a specially crafted AR-commercial titled “You were/will be from Gandahar” that told them to buy the book Les Hommes-machines contre Gandahar. Surprised physical bookstores still existed but recognizing that as their code for this month, they headed to the bookstore noted in the message to pick up the book. After that they found secluded corners to start watching their briefing.

Their job was to go to Colombia, travel to Bogotá and get off at a supply stop a few hours before that final destination. There they were to meet with their local contact Black Hawk, who would help them broker a deal with the Artosa cartel. On this trip they were to only use the third fake identity the UCAS government had supplied them with, which varied for each but was pointedly neither CAS nor UCAS.

After picking up their belongings, and in Scottie’s case hiring his Coyote contact to smuggle guns and arms across the Spanish border, the team members went for their respective airplanes. With Visage the security system ended up taking a while but eventually all were cleared and a boring flight began.

In Colombia Visage joined Bubbles, who of course had brought her car and drone army. Scottie, on the other hand, was utterly paranoid about the rigger after the things she had put him through with the bike last time, so he rented a van without rigger interface and trailed behind the other two.

During their lengthy drive through the jungle, passing the occasional supply stop, at one point Bubbles received a headsup from her car that there were people ahead. She and Visage then realized there was a checkpoint ahead that was manned by rebels, and decided to first talk things out. After some talking and assuring the locals they weren’t really fond of Aztlan, plus bribing them with some beers, the two were allowed to pass without any form of extortion.

Since Bubbles decided to leave with a burnout, causing a lot of sand in the air, Scottie had an easy time getting past the rebels. Even though he denied being with the other agents, they didn’t push him to confirm his anti-Aztlan claim and quickly let him pass as well.

A few hours later the team arrived at a supply stop where they saw a black graffiti tag of a hawk on the side of the building. Taking that as their cue they stopped and entered the local restaurant there, Scottie still refusing to trust the crazy car lady and pretending he had nothing to do with them. Next to several locals around, they could see a darkskinned lady at the bar who was flanked by two big bodyguards, but nobody approached them yet.

A few minutes later a big fueltruck arrived with several escorting vehicles, delivering fuel to the supply stop. Then one of the escorts entered the bar, ordered a beer and threw it in Scottie’s face. Then he grabbed Scottie by the collar and pulled him up, slipping a key into his clothes. Scottie, recognizing his Coyote, played along with the charade and covertly passed on his car’s location. The Coyote went outside and moved a car next to Scottie’s.

The lady at the bar approached Bubbles and Visage, leaving her bodyguards at the bar, and told Scottie to join as well. She instructed the team to turn on any anti-eavesdrop devices, which Visage promptly did, then introduced herself as their contact and guide, Black Hawk.

Their job, she told them, was to make a deal with Daniel Artosa, leader of the Artosa cartel. The UCAS wanted Artosa’s help in their war against the Mirando cartel, and for that help they were willing to supply him with weapons and more. The team’s task was to make that deal, but demand high at first then go down to the desired bid. In other words, first try to make Artosa fight the Mirando cartel himself, then be willing to let the UCAS also handle attacks. In the end they were to sweeten the deal with a smuggling helicopter that was already ready to go.

One important detail, however, was that they had to keep their real purpose a secret until they met Artosa himself. His men were to be led to believe the team were Black Hawk’s bodyguards, only Artosa was allowed to know that she was merely their guide and that they were representing the UCAS.

As they left the restaurant, Scottie quickly loaded his gear from his Coyote’s car to his rented van and swung his Gauss Rifle over his shoulder. Black Hawk stepped into her Jeep and showed the team the route to Artosa’s main base, fake trees blocking the road and all. A while later they arrived at the fence around Artosa’s mansion grounds, where Bubbles decided to leave her Roto-Drones, Pineapple and Mango, behind for surveillance.

At Artosa’s mansion the team could see quite a few people walking around, some with Ares Alphas and some with AK-97s. As they parked their cars at one of the garages and got out, Scottie’s big gun caused distress amongst the guards that the team had to clear up, claiming it to be a sample. At that point Artosa’s second in command, Ricardo García, stepped in.

After distrusting them but willing to believe their sample-claim, García brought the group to Artosa’s game room on the second floor. Artosa was (as only some of the team realized) playing pool with painted minigrenades as balls and a sniper rifle as cue. García made clear to Artosa he didn’t trust the team, but Artosa dismissed his concerns and told him to leave, to García’s hidden dismay that only Bubbles managed to pick up. García had a good poker face, but he was steaming underneath.

After they were alone, Artosa toyed with the team by making clear he knew they weren’t representing a construction company, tossing them a grenade then threatening to blow it up. He even went as far as telling Scottie to get a bottle of booze from underneath the pool table only so he could point his sniper rifle cue at Scottie’s face, before informing them the bottles really were over at the bar. All while smiling and showing them he was completely in control here.

Visage informed Artosa of their real purposes and started the negotiations, allowing Artosa to bargain them down from ‘we supply the guns and you use them’ to ‘we supply the guns and you pass us intel on smuggling routes and Mirando cartel bases within the CAS and UCAS’, throwing in the smuggling helicopter after Artosa realized they were agreeing too easily and demanding another bonus.

With the deal done Artosa grinned and used a calling device to call one of his henchmen, telling Alejandro to go get three of the best bottles of champaign. Artosa explained to the group that all his men used two micro-transceivers, one for global communication and one strictly to him.

Then more sounds came from the device, with Alejandro talking to himself. Artosa asked the group to pretend they didn’t hear that, admitting Alejandro and technology didn’t always get along so sometimes a call wouldn’t connect or drop properly. As he explained that, they could hear Alejandro say “Hey García, what are you doing he-” and silence…

The team, paranoid as ever, immediately concluded that García had gone traitor and informed Artosa as such as they drew their weapons. Artosa grabbed a pair of binoculars and looked at the patrols, noticing the same thing that Bubbles her Roto-Drones did: Cartel-members suddenly shooting their comrades in the back.

Artosa responsed by causing all microtransceivers to broadcast an interference sound, hoping it’d save at least some of his men’s lives. Scottie blocked the door they came from with foam explosives, while Bubbles looked around with her drones and noticed some people were putting on helmets. They realized this likely meant gas masks, so Artosa opened up the cabinet underneath the pool table and brought out gas masks for everyone. Then Bubbles hid inside the cabinet to enter VR and jump into her drones, while the rest prepared for their escape.

The team decided to run to the guesthouse above one of the garages, rather than using the staircases inside the building. But on their route was a second set of stairs, so they prepared for an ambush instead. When hostiles fired gasgrenades from below, then came running up those stairs, the team quickly responded with violence. Worse, Artosa tossed all his poolballs down the stairs. As they ran past the enemies, Scottie took a potshot and caused the grenades to blow and take part of the floor with them.

While the Roto-Drones sniped at enemies to slow their advance towards the mansion, Bubbles her Steel Lynx woke up and snuck through the courtyard from the one garage to the other one underneath the guesthouse. The rest ran on towards the guesthouse while someone opened the main door to the game room, triggering the explosives Scottie had left behind there.

This all was much to the dismay of Visage, who saw a beautiful mansion quickly becoming a crater. ‘Hey, look on the bright side,’ Scottie said, ‘you could always stay in the guesthouse’. At that point in time, however, Bubbles her Steel Lynx had gone upstairs to the guesthouse, had spotted several enemies lying in ambush there and had tossed them a grenade before running downstairs.

The first thing the runners noticed was the drone sending their image links two warnings: One for hostiles, one for an explosion. They stopped just in time, as a few seconds later the grenade exploded and set off the grenades the ambushers were carrying themselves… As a result the guesthouse was completely wrecked and part of its floor even fell into the garage below.

Said Scottie to Visage: “I am so sorry.”

From the drek into the frying pan, the group, currently located in the bridge between mansion and guesthouse, noticed a flash to their left and dove for cover. Moments later automatic fire tore through the windows of the bridge and García screamed at them from outside, daring Artosa to come out and fight like a man!

There were a few things García hadn’t realized, doped-up on combat drugs as he was: Screaming tells the enemy where you are, so they can fire back at you. And Gauss Rifles can easily shoot through walls… The only benefit was that the shot merely knocked him unconscious, leaving him surrounded by his doped-up henchmen that were firing at any sound they heard (including taunts coming from a commlink that Scottie quickly threw inbetween them).

As the enemies were distracted, the group crawled forwards and climbed down the ruined guesthouse, then went for their vehicles. This was the point where Black Hawk realized they still had an armed smuggling helicopter on standby, so she gave Bubbles its ID and let her call the chopper towards them. Bubbles then carefully came out of her armored hiding place and maneuvered past the holes in the floor to a balcony looking out on the courtyard. While the rest prepared to drive away, Bubbles remote-controlled her car and managed to get it towards the balcony without a single enemy noticing it!

Well, until the moment it drove over them of course.

With Pineapple, Mango and Scottie covering their retreat by firing bullets and grenades, the team quickly drove away from the Mansion. Just as their enemies were about to come after them, the Northrup Wasp that Bubbles was controlling arrived and she used it to lay down suppressive fire. To her great joy she discovered its guns were powerful enough to tear through her enemies even with mere suppressive fire, while with the chaos and her distance to the battlefield only a single stray bullet managed to scratch the chopper.

Just to be sure, Bubbles ordered Pineapple and Mango to fly around the enemies and visit the courtyard for a final goodbye to the unconscious García, in the form of their last grenades. Then everyone made their escape, going to an underground hiding base of Artosa so he could prepare to get his empire back under control. The team stuck around that base for a few days, enjoying the luxuries being a druglord gets you, before going back to Colombia for their planerides back to civilization.


Grande Larceny: Report of Black Hearts #2

The agents:

  •  Bubbles, an elven criminal with a need for speed
  • Doll, a dwarven lady who pisses off pigeons
  • Templar, a human smoothtalker that dresses up
  • Bluepin, a human bluffard who can act dull
  • Scottie, a tall eye-patched english-hating human

Their Mission, should they choose to accept it:
To steal three pieces of art from the Valhalla Hotel in Detroit, and replace them with replicas

The team members were all at their individual homes in the morning, when they were visited by actual carrier pigeons. After obtaining their briefing from the pigeons, and in one case pissing off the messenger, the team checked out their new assignment.

Their datachip told them they were meant to infiltrate a high-class party and replace several pieces of art with replicas. The party was a Grande Reopening party of the Valhalla Hotel, formerly in the possession of Horizon’s subsidiary company Elysium. The new owner was billionaire Sarah Dwighton, who invited VIPs and other guests to show off her new hotel.

The team was to report to agent Hetty, located in the Night-Night shop in Detroit. Agent Hetty would select proper attire for them and also give them additional information and required resources.  After a plane ride to Detroit, well-known for being the location of Ares HQ, the team quickly gathered at the Night-Night shop, a shop for all kinds of luxurious clothes.

The team members were quickly scooped up by agent Hetty and taken to the back. She began sizing them up and briefed them on the party. There would be no SIN-checks this party, instead all guests received a maglock passkey that would both open up all guest rooms in the hotel, as well as serve as their invite. Apparently miss Dwighton had decided to let her guests have a ‘taste’ of the rooms during the party.

The group was told what they had to replace: First, a small statue located in the Apollo Suite, the hotel’s penthouse. Second, a painting located on the seventh floor in a corridor. Third, a fake ruby placed in a terrarium along with other fake gems and several snapping turtle, located on the Mezzanine level of the hotel.

There was good news: The security system overhaul wasn’t finished yet, so there were complications with the systems and a lack of proper matrix security. Namely a low Firewall, no active IC or Agents and the Spider being busy with the hardware so not attending the Host itself. Furthermore there were problems with cameras occasionally failing. On top of that security would be focused on protecting the VIPs, leaving gaps for the group to use.

Agent Hetty started picking out clothes for the team members, as well as a few accessories. Bubbles had her Fly-Spies and action figure doll dressed up properly. The flying drones were given AR-decoration that made them look like an angel and a devil, while carrying her scarf.

Templar had disguised himself as a woman this time, greatly confusing both the other players and the other characters. He chose a dress along with a big purse that had a small smuggling compartment shielded against metal detectors. Furthermore the entire bag was wifi-inhibiting against RFID tags and signal sniffers. The dress itself also was fitted to allow for a painting to be stored inside.

Scottie requested a monocle to replace his eye-patch, while also desiring something to smuggle grenades with. He received plateaued boots with smuggling compartments in the heels, adding 10cm to put him at a total height of 2m. The others went for more subtle clothing, except for Bubbles who went with a Moonlight Dress.

The team also asked for some party drugs to hand out or drug people with, which Hetty quickly arranged, while Scottie also had his glider delivered to him by his Coyote contact. With all that done, it was time to attend the party.

Doll and Templar went together, being delivered by limousine. It didn’t take long for them to realize this was the same car they had helped shoot up just a month ago. Bluepin took a helicopter from the airport, sharing the ride with several businessmen and a Congolese Warlord named Carhel. They asked some questions about his company and Carhel turned out to be rather interested in Bluepin’s talks about noise-reduction protocols, though eventually Bluepin managed to out-technobabble him.

Scottie was delivered by a Mirage driven by Bubbles at a speed where even the police couldn’t catch up. She then delivered herself with a Eurocar Westwind 3000, breaking even more speed limits. Needless to say the police wanted to arrest them, but they weren’t allowed inside and their superiors decided not to make a fuss when there were judges and other VIPs inside.

The team members got through security, in some cases after a quick checkup, and started mingling at the bar and the Mezzanine level, those with poor Etiquette rolls receiving smug behaviour from rich jerks. Bubbles took revenge by letting her action figure trip the person, while Scottie lured out a racist remark with Carhel standing just behind the bigot. He handed Carhel a stun baton, who promptly used it to intimidate the man before letting him off with a warning zap.

After a short while everyone was gathered at the Auditorium for the intro chat. They were informed the keys could access all hotel rooms not locked from the inside, and to feel free to ‘try out’ the rooms, privacy guaranteed. ‘Yeah right, where are the cameras hidden’ was the mental response of the team. After that they decided to split up and hit all targets at the same time, because Bluepin did not dare prolonging his matrix activities as to not trigger an alarm.

A few switcharoo-tricks inside hotel rooms let Bluepin jump into VR to hack the Host before walking out again, while the rest split up and aimed for the target art pieces. Scottie stayed at the Mezzanine with Bubbles’ her drones, ready to cause a distraction for the drones to switch the ruby. Doll received the fake painting from Templar and started checking out art on the seventh floor, which happened to be completely devoid of others. Templar and Bubbles dropped by the Apollo Suite where 1 other couple was already present, and quickly locked the doors behind them to prevent others from entering.

It was then that the team discovered the complications for their jobs. Bubbles and Templar were invited to join the couple in the bath, but politely declined and checked out the statue. There was no pressure sensor, but they suspected there were hidden cameras in the suite as well as RFID tags in the statue, ready to trigger alarms when taken out the door.

Meanwhile, Doll checked out the painting for security and ran into a hardwired alarm on top of the lock. With Scottie it was simply that there were tame, likely-defanged, snakes in the Terrarium instead, with the snapping turtles locked up inside their caves. Snakes receiving quite a bit of attention from miss Dwighton and some of her guests…

Scottie baited two guests into sniffing Kamikaze, ‘no this probably is too much for you’, unfortunately before he could provoke them into fighting each other one of them decided to pick a fight with Carhel instead… At this point Bluepin rebooted a few cameras and everyone sprung into action.

Scottie quickly threw Carhel his stun baton again, who proceeded to toy with the rich man before knocking him out. While this was going on, in the penthouse Bubbles went into VR and seemingly fainted while knocking over the statue. Templar quickly switched the statue while taking care of Bubbles as she steered her drones into the terrarium to switch out the fake ruby with the replica. And Doll rapidly unlocked the case, switched the painting and locked it back up before the camera in her corridor came back online again.

With all that done and security rather pissed at the coked-up guest, the team, paranoid yet confident they had pulled it off, proceeded as if nothing had happened. Doll and Templar picked up the fake ruby and went to their car, ‘sending it home to pick up something they had forgotten to bring with them’ to bring the stolen items to safety.

After that, all that was left was to enjoy the party for a while before leaving the same way they came. Including a failed chase by police cars in the cases of Scottie and Bubbles, where after a while Scottie switched to his glider and flew away. One by one they dropped by the Night-Night shop, turned in their equipment to agent Hetty, received their payments and said their goodbyes after a job well-done.

Double Trouble: Report of Black Hearts #1

With six players (unfortunately one regular was sick) we were at the max for 1 table so no second scenario. Of these six players, three had made their own characters (Decker, Rigger, Face) and three chose Sample Characters (Illusion Mage, Assassin, Muscle). Given their black-op nature, each character went by a runner handle to their teammates.

The agents:

  •  Bubbles, an elven neon goth getaway driver
  • Doll, a dwarven well-muscled street sam
  • Fox, an elven pickpocket face
  • Templar, a human thrillseeking assassin
  • Zen, a human addicted buddhist illusionist
  • Bluepin, a human matrix security consultant

Their Mission, should they choose to accept it:
To extract Jason McDonalds, an employee of a Horizon subsidiary located in Dallas, Texas.

Each team member was approached by a salesman giving away free Chocolate Surprise Eggs, employing the codephrase ‘To live for” to get their attention. Inside the surprise were a credstick with their expenses advance and a datachip with their first briefing: To gather their gear and take a plane, already booked on their fake CAS identity, go to Dallas and receive the second briefing at the airport restaurant.

In Dallas each team member completely ignored all agents they recognized and received a menu with their second briefing. Their assignment was to kidnap a man by the name of Jason McDonalds, who was a Horizon employee currently working for one of their non-extraterritorial subsidiaries in Dallas. The file included McDonalds’ current habits, working location and home address. It also had the location of a safehouse for the team to use during this mission.

The team rented a car and split up over the rental and Bubbles’ her own car, which included a Steel Lynx in the backseat covered with a blanket. They first gathered at the safehouse to introduce oneselves and make a legwork plan. While digging into their target, they soon noticed a gap inside their target’s career which suspiciously matched up with the Aztlan-Amazonia war, all the way from Horizon’s first involvement until the death of several POWs at the hand of Aztlan…

The team checked out three possible extraction points. The office building had suspiciously little physical security while also running a decent Host and a lot of hidden icons. McDonalds his route home went straight through an area filled with office buildings, the center of which had a lot of empty buildings not noticable from outside the area. Apparently vacancy was kept well-hidden here. His apartment was on the fourth floor of a five-floor complex and only had a handful of cameras.

While Bubbles kept an eye on the office building using a spydrone, the team decided to tackle the apartment first. In the alley next to the complex Templar quickly ran up the walls, while Doll slowly climbed up to give him a hand. They lockpicked the window and checked out the apartment, which they found was suspiciously unlived. While there was some food, the only clothing inside was from a single bag and looked as if someone had packed just enough for a short sleepover.

Zen and Doll teamed up to help people into and out of the apartment by using the fire escape. Zen used a spell to keep the noise down, while Doll lifted people up or let them down. Bluepin then hacked the maglock on the apartment’s door and checked out the logs. From this they quickly found out their target was almost a robot: Every day he would leave and return at the same time, except for on drinks night when he’d come back later and somewhere in a five-minute interval instead of on the dot. However, just a few days ago this had changed: He left 1 minute earlier and returned 1 minute later…

Their theory now was that their target either switched place during the day somewhere, or had switched a few days ago. Bluepin hacked one of the cameras inside the building and the team barely found out that the images supported their theory: Since a few days ago the target was approximately 1cm smaller than before…

Rather than changing things up, the team decided to continue as planned and extract the target the second he came home. After that they would take him to the safehouse for interrogation. So they waited and prepared a Neurostun grenade to take him out. At the right time Bubbles her drone confirmed the target had left the office building, and that lengthwise this was the new target, not the original one. She also discovered the reason for the different logtimes: The new target was so caught up in his commlink games that he’d forget to give his car’s autopilot an order.

With the gasgrenade, holding their breath and a silence spell the team easily captured the target, then brought him to the safehouse and checked out his commlink to figure out who he was (most likely an employee at a bar half a mile down the road from McDonalds’ building). Templar used his magic abilities to disguise him as the original target, and then was ‘tied up’ before the new target was woken up. After a bit of pressure from Fox he quickly confessed he had been hired as body-double by McDonalds while McDonalds was arranging to be extracted by another company. Said extraction would take place at the double’s former worksite at basically now’o’clock…

The team quickly killed the double, who had seen Fox’s face, then split up over their vehicles in 3 groups: Bubbles her car to check the bar, a bike to the airport and the rental inbetween. Templar soon noticed a suspicious limo on the way to the airport so he got out, still disguised as the target, and waved at the car. The limo immediately raced away and the chase was on.

The limo was no match for Bubbles, who quickly caught up with both cars while the passengers opened fire on the limo. Unfortunately their bullets were no match for the armor of the car. And with the car’s wireless being off, Bluepin couldn’t help either. Zen saved the day with a spirit, however, which he commanded to open the doors. It quickly materialized inside the car and started popping open doors, exposing the fact there was no driver and allowing Templar to dive from car to car.

Templar quickly knocked out the target, turned on the wireless so Bluepin could hack the car and give it a new command, then turned off the wireless again and enjoyed the ride. Zen disguised their vehicles so the cops wouldn’t be able to find them and the team quickly left for their extraction point. After giving their fellow secret agents a headsup that a cleaner would be required at the safehouse, they received their payment and left to enjoy a few days of vacation before their planerides home.

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…

Lying Lions: Report of Wild Things #4

The job: Leading peace talks between two Congolese warlords whose men are practically snarling at each other

The team:

  • Sergeant Sam, a Street Samurai who flirts no matter the odds
  • H.R., a bow-wielder whose social interactions are as convoluted as the path of a damaged arrow
  • Eiger, a bodyguard troll badass enough to intimidate a tank
  • Will I Am, a survivalist expert who is a mean drunk
  • Mae, a face who knows exactly when to smile, nod and let others dig their holes

The troubleshooters got contacted all around the globe and sent on individual paths to the heart of the Congo Tribal Lands. Three flew in from Johannesburg with the same crazy pilot as last time, one got escorted by unwilling and disgruntled militia man, and the fifth got flown in from the UCAS and cargo-dropped down. After some confusing situations the team ended up together in the crazy pilot’s plane, taxying the last dozen clicks to their final destination. Even he was not crazy enough to fly into a potential warzone. It was then that they got greeted by tanks…

The team got contacted by their boss, who was tracking their locations and wondered why they weren’t in town yet. After the team explained the situation, and noted they still hadn’t been briefed and didn’t know what they were here for, the boss sighed and promised to take care of things. Soon after, the tanks decided it was in their best interest to let the team pass, who immediately convinced the tanks to give them rides instead.

When they got to town, the team got contacted by a man who was apparently their handler. He was stuttering and rushing, and they quickly surmised that the cause of his panicky behaviour was their boss ready to fire the poor sod. Literally. Inbetween his panic he managed to explain to them why they were here and what was expected of them.

There were two warlords in these parts, Carhel and Arland. Their territories were separated by a river, and the local town around this river was neutral ground. Upstream from the town was a big game reserve, which amongst other animals housed Africa’s only Black Lions. What made these majestic animals so special was that they were not Awakened themselves, instead they had simply mutated. Rich tourists loved coming here and taking pictures of the lions, so both Wild Life Incorporated and the local warlords made good money.

However, in recent days the warlords had been gathering their armies, not to protect their borders but around the river, ready to square off against each other… Such a war, no matter how brief, could be a big problem for the game reserve so Wild Life Incorporated wanted things settled peacefully. They had encouraged peace talks and Mae was to supervise these talks, while the rest kept her out of harm’s way. And maybe beat up anyone too problematic if really necessary.

The team got approached by one of Arland’s patrols, led by a man named Fresnel who ordered the team to come with him to Arland. While the team was willing to come along peacefully, Fresnel was still treating them in a rather hostile manner and that ended up setting the Uncouth people off. After a few barbs Fresnel lost it and shot Sam in the back. Due to restraint, plus Eiger being there to aid in intimidating, the situation didn’t escalate into a massacre and instead Fresnel simply ended with a bloody nose as payback.

Then a patrol from Carhel’s troops, led by a lady named Helena, came along. After Helena gleefully insulted Fresnel, she offered to play for tour guide for the team. H.R. going tourist (insisting on buying souvenirs for his new buddy ‘Buffy’, the murderous Cape Buffalo from last month) and buying a map, plus Helena’s explanations, helped clarify the layout of the area and the town. There was a hotel, a restaurant, a bar, and of course the building where the peace talks would be.

The building for the meet had its furniture set up in perfect ambush-style, so the team sighed and went at redecorating the place. They also tested the quality of the sturdy walls (conclusion: sturdy but Eiger could still punch through) and scanned the place with bugscanners and chemsniffers, retrieved from a supply crate at the hotel courtesy of Wild Life Incorporated. They also arranged for some security from both sides to make sure the site wasn’t tampered with again.

Next was the cause of the local unrest. As far as they could gather, the two warlords had simply been mobilizing and there had been a rising amount of paranoia and animosity towards each other on both sides. While some kept cool heads, such as Helena and her friend Claire who worked for Arland, others like Fresnel did not. And Arland’s advisor, Sydney, was apparently a rabid hive of paranoia bundled in a single man.

The team went for food at the restaurant and drinks at the bar, keeping their eyes and ears open. Here William heard troops of Carhel talk about how they had discovered Arland’s troops maneuvering to get a better strike position back when things first became tense, suggesting that Arland had started and Carhel had simply responded. But Sam overheard people of Arland saying the same thing about Carhel…

Then the team got a concerned call that Richard William Dickens IV was en route to visit the Black Lions. Given the tense situation, this meant he could be shot down, and such an act of violence could easily set off the powderkeg. So it was up to the team to take care of things. Helena helped them contact Carhel’s advisor Lisy, while Claire could give them the commcode of Alexis, one of Arland’s bodyguard. Quickly being passed on to both warlords, Mae explained the situation and despite Sydney shouting “It’s an ambush! They’re sending a commando strike team to take us all out!”, both warlords agreed to make anti-air stand down.

After this, Mae and H.R. decided to pay a visit to Sydney. They had a good inking of the cause of the situation now, so they figured going through the paranoid advisor was the best way to take care of things. Meanwhile, the rest of the team got boozed up, then went to the hotel. On their way there they got ambushed by Fresnel and his gang, who wanted to even the score in a brawl.

Mae and H.R. got to meet Sydney and Arland, after having been disarmed of course. Sydney was very paranoid about them and threatened them with a gun, while H.R. explained that he’d been in a situation where nobody believed him yet he was right recently, so he knew how Sydney felt. No, this did not mean they were here to kill one of the two warlords! H.R. simply meant that sometimes you are indeed getting played. Now with both sides convinced the other side was planning to strike first, the crisis had become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So the question was, who had initiated the paranoia?

At that point Sydney realized exactly who to go for. ‘No, not the guy who told me Carhel was up to no good! We need the guy who put that guy up to it, isn’t that obvious?!’ Afterwards, both the team and Sydney contacted Carhel about their revelations and the two warlords secretly dealt with their traitors. While they did that, the team took a trip with Richie Rich to the Black Lions, got drunk and went to bed. The next day, everyone at the peace talks was extremely surprised when the two warlords shook hands, agreed all was settled now, and left. The only victims of the conflict? One person had choked in his vomit overnight, and another collapsed from some strange sickness during the peace talks…

The warlords shared their torture results with Wild Life Incorporated, who now had gathered all the pieces they needed to figure out their enemy. Which meant that now it was time for them to prepare for war. The runners flew off with Richard, while their boss started plotting a tale of sweet revenge…

Paper Places: Report of Wild Things #3

The third Wild Things session had five players for Paper Places, on a trip into the jungle.

The job: Travel to a village in the Congo Jungle, to negotiate for a permanent landing strip for future safaris.

The team:

  • Sergeant Sam, a Street Samurai with no mercy for no soldiers
  • H.R., a bow-wielder who fights for bovine freedom
  • Eiger, a non-social bodyguard troll who realizes just fine when she’s being scammed
  • Will I Am, a Survivalist Expert ready to act without hesitation
  • Mae, a Spirit Whispering Face whose Spirits help her whenever her smooth tongue won’t

Wild Life Incorporated had a few troubleshooters grab planes towards the airport at Johannesburg, to go on as team from there. They got their briefing near the gate from their usual contact, who was a bit delayed due to splurging on his duty-free shopping. The job seemed simple really. The company had recently obtained map-data indicating there was a village in the jungle near where Wild Life Incorporated wanted to host activities. If they could find a suitable place to land LAVs and convince the villagers to keep the landing strip safe and clean, they could make proper use of the location.

The company wanted Mae to go there and broker a deal, or at least a pre-deal for a temporary landing strip for more negotiations. The rest had to escort her, keep her safe and look menacing without opening their mouths please, because we all know what happens if you start talking…

This time the company supplied the team with two heavy-duty Commlinks, enhanced to have as much reach as possible as to let the team communicate. Sam already arranged one himself, so that meant the team could split into three groups if needed inside the jungle. Furthermore they got supplies, bugnets and 1 cubic meter of bugspray because the company bought an entire frickin’ crate. Oh, and socks against snakebites.

After doing some duty-free shopping themselves, which a few more familiar with Johannesburg were better at, the team went to their airplane for the trip to Congo. On the way there the airplane encountered an attack by a trigger-happy tribe, so the pilot got to dodge a missile strike, then decided to open fire on a few planes that came after the group, a dogfight he easily won. Thanks to their knowledge of Congo Militaries, the team could give the pilot a tip on who to call for a sign of gratitude.

A bit delayed the team landed at a village next to the jungle, unloaded their supplies and scouted for info. They received some info from a local soldier, who was surprised they were travelling to the middle of nowhere without civilization. He did note there were some tribal people, poisonous blowguns and all, but those lived 80km to the north, about 5km into the jungle. The team wanted travel 70km northeast instead.

Since 70km through the jungle was too much of a pain, the team decided to instead travel north over the savannah by car, then walk east into the jungle so they only needed to walk approximately 40km to their destination. They tried arranging for transportation, and Eiger soon ran into someone trying to scam her in broken english. Ignoring him, she just walked away and returned to the group. Mae got two people to transport the group, meanwhile H.R. encountered an African Buffalo and tried bribing it with hay. The animal pushed him away before eating though.

In the jungle Mae would have been the slowest teammember, but thanks to help from a Plant Spirit she was fast enough to keep up with the rest. Thanks to that they only spent two days travelling, which H.R. spent leaving hay breadcrumbs just in case. Near their target-coordinates, the team noticed tracks of patrolling people. With their intimate knowledge of Small Unit Tactics, they figured out both the formation of the locals, and where the place the patrols were circling was. This seemed to match their prior intel, so Mae sent a spirit there to scout from the astral plane. The spirit soon reported it had found a village, then that it was surrounded, and only seconds later it was disrupted by astral combat.

Shaken by this knowledge, the team made sure to prepare well for dangerous contact with the locals. After fatiguing summoning they were Concealed. They had three commlinks, and with H.R. and Will.I.Am both incompetent with Electronics, it was easy to determine who got to use them. With Mae and H.R. as center of a triangle-formation, the team soon encountered four locals which likely were the patrol from the previous tracks. Two decently-visible in the middle, and one on each flank hidden well.

As they approached, William realized something was off about the local he noticed on the flank. With horror, he realized the guy was showcasing a Termite Shamanic Mask*. He quickly took out his hunting rifle, switched to APDS, shouted “Danger!” and dropped the guy in a single shot. A quick fight later, the team asked for an explanation, and after receiving it joined in on the double-tapping. Then they proceeded to the village, ready to finish what they had started.

The village turned out to be several huts connected together with strange material into one big building. Six villagers were outside and a shaman came out to greet the group. Despite both the Insect Shaman and Mae pretending nothing was wrong, combat quickly started and all villagers present were identified as bug spirits. Soldiers burst out from inside as well, and while Mae’s spirit did not owe her any services next to the Concealment, he chose to protect the Spirit Whisperer all the same. And on his prompting, out from the jungle burst a certain African Buffalo.

Thanks to their smart formation, blowing up a bugspray canister to serve as gas grenade, the spirit drawing fire and the distraction supplied by the Buffalo, the team quickly took down all enemies. They called their boss, who was rather shocked to find out the company had been fed false map data. Just as shocked as he was to find out they had received help from a hunter-killing beast with a bounty of twenty grand on its head. He quickly sent an extra team by plane to help secure the location, interrogate the shaman and get everybody back out.

As it turned out, the shaman came from the blowgun-local village, where he had been turning some villagers into bug spirit vessels before having to flee. At his new base they had been discovered by some treasure hunters, which they had captured and converted as well. The same thing he likely would have tried to do with the team, had they not discovered the face behind the mask so soon. Glad that it was all over now, the team said their goodbyes to ‘Buffy’ and returned to civilization.

* Insect Spirits are spirits called over by an Insect Shaman. Unlike other spirits they cannot materialize or possess people. A living being must be prepared as vessel for them to take over, otherwise they grow weaker over time. This inhabitation ritual is lengthy and kills the original living being.

The inhabiation process can result in hybrid forms which are stronger but are visibly no longer human, or flesh forms which look the same as the original vessel. A flesh form will even have the same magical aura as the original, and have their knowledge and skill available.

Insect Spirits gather in hives and try to build up their forces, their final goal is basically to destroy the entire human race. As such, the best solution is to exterminate with extreme prejudice. The only exceptions are Mantis Spirits, who prey on other Insect Spirits for reproduction.

Richie Rich: Report of Wild Things #2

The second Wild Things session was a blast, quite literally in-game, with six players for Richie Rich.

The job: Escort Richard William Dickens IV to the Sioux Nation, where he wants to see the local wildlife. That is, ladies at clubs AND buffalo.

The team:

  • Sergeant Sam, a Street Samurai who loves it when he doesn’t have to act polite
  • H.R., a bow-wielder who likes shooting arrows into people’s faces
  • Carl, a combat mage Wildcat army veteran enjoying heavy liquor
  • Eiger, a bodyguard troll capable of smashing any fool messing with her charge
  • Charmante, a huntress who can handle any environment. Except urban ones…
  • Mae, an Aztlan Facemage who has to clean up the mess of others way too much

The team were called together in Seattle and received the assignment to play bodyguard for Richard William Dickens IV,. And yes, both the Corporate Fixer and mister Dickens expected jokes about his name. When later they called him “Dick Dickens”, he immediately corrected it to “Dick Willy Dickens the Fourth”.

‘Mister Dickens’, an uncouth thrillseeking billionaire and heir to a fortune, wanted Wild Life Incorporated’s troubleshooters to accompany him to Cheyenne, protect him while clubbing, then escort him on his way to hunt buffalo in co-operation with the locals. Wild Life Incorporated’s connections were good enough to help him get what he wanted, and he liked having some proper security for him and his entourage. Since the locals spoke a lot of different languages, several secondary Faces would be hired to help with the initial interactions. Half the team speaking Ka-ne-tsv, the Sioux lingua franca, also would be useful against the language barrier.

Since the Sioux Nation has significantly different firearm laws, the company arranged for replacements. For starters, a heavy pistol carried openly was a must. Each member of the team received a Nemesis Arms Praetorian, a heavy pistol with an engraved bayonet fitted to the person. Sam’s held a cameo pattern, H.R. had the feathers of arrows upside down on his, Carl had flamed, Eiger a mountain icon, Charmante a snarling wolf and Mae a single rose with a thorny stem. Their illegal toys would be smuggled into the country and handed to them once they left Cheyenne. They found out later that their charge, Richard, owned two heavy revolvers, one brown-red and one lapis.

After they got to the airport in Seattle, the first test for the team was the booze supply on Rich’s private jet. They were actively encouraged to go wild, an offer most accepted with glee. From >500¥ beers to 15,000¥ Tír Tairngire liquor bottles, even enjoying >120-proof Vodka and Absinthe, the team consumed well, most of them in an uncouth manner, and passed the first test. Rich decapitating a beer bottle with one of his revolvers also made clear what he thought of manners, to the dismay of his entourage. He told the troubleshooters that once in Sioux, they should keep their illegal toys hidden. While chatting along he sent a secret message to their commlinks, noting “pull them out at my sign, you’ll know when”…

After hopping through a few other countries, the team landed at Cheyenne. Here they were welcomed by a lot of soldiers, led by a general who greeted them in a friendly hostile manner. Mae, as a citizen of Aztlan, and Anglo teammembers immediately got a taste of subtle discrimination as they were completely ignored. It was clear that money spoke but did not get goodwill in return, even if it paved the way.

At the luxury Corporate hotel a scene arose when Rich wanted to check in while speaking English, so the receptionist kept asking in Dakota what he wanted. Ignoring poor Mae her matrix-translate attempts and a rude H.R. writing insults for Rich to use, the receptionist insisted until her boss noticed who the customer was… And ever a playboy Rich made sure to express his appreciation for her attitude, and gave her a spare roomkey.

Before making his evening plans, Rich wanted to know if the team had some proper nice clothing. Appreciating their answers, he then told them to NOT wear those and change into the most unpolite thing they had. When all but Mae had done so, the team went to the hotel restaurant and played bodyguards while enjoying awesome food and shocking both the locals and mister Dickens his entourage. Afterwards they left for the nightclub Intensity, a place without bias pro- or con-NAN.

Outside Intensity, SDF troops immediately picked a fight with the team and one decided arresting people would be a good idea. Given how this endangered Richard and could be an assassination attempt, guns were drawn very quickly and accusations of treason made very vocal. With a big lapis revolver in the face of the idiot, H.R. cursing, Eiger being a massive troll and Carl’s SIN noting he was a former Wildcat, the troops were intimidated into not starting a firefight. Carl called his former commanding officer, who quickly realized the mess and made arrangements to call back the troops. As for Rich’s advisor, the poor man nearly died of stress.

Inside Intensity, it wasn’t long before the playboy tore a couple in two. The pissed boyfriend got distracted by a flirting Mae, which helped prevent a scene. Three men later, however, were clearly out for a fight. Once they noticed the knife behind their back and started a brawl, however, they quickly realized they were outmatched by being beaten in mere seconds. Since technically the team could sell self-defense, they weren’t kicked out and Rich picked up several more ladies before leaving. All astrally vetted by the mages, who noticed one girl had a headache but that was the only suspicious thing they noticed.

Back at the hotel, Mae summoned a spirit to help sweep the entire penthouse. Unlike the mages, this spirit did notice the lady with a headache had a cortex bomb. Attempted misdirection while leading her away, panic, Richard enabling the penthouse’s Faraday Cage, security calls, police aid and a careful disarming later, it ended with a sizzle. The team questioned the lady’s friends, who had no idea who could have done this, why, when or where. They also playfully accused Rich’s advisor, who was very shocked and vehemently denied it all despite standard trid-show cliches. Eventually Rich went to bed with several ladies, Eiger locked herself into the guestroom and the rest of the team and entourage slept in the other penthouse.

The next day the team left Cheyenne in an SUV convoy, picking up their illegal gear from corporate agents on the way. Their various Sioux faces got them past both military and civilian checkpoints without hassle. Eventually they reached the locals, a tribe not fond of technology. There they tried riding horses, which several failed at. Carl ended up using his combat training to intimidate his ride, H.R. got a mule, a few others rode a car instead. Rich got to take down a buffalo with bow-and-arrow, and then they went to a White Buffalo herd to sightsee. And just as the team feared, rather quickly poachers appeared from a nearby forest. In two GMC Banshees…

As Rich took out a milspec Sniper Rifle, he also sent a single instruction to all troubleshooters: Gun ’em down. Two combat spirits, sniper rifles, an explosive arrow, an overcast combat spell, an Assault Cannon Round and only 2 seconds later the Banshees started crashing down to the ground, with only one having been able to fire back once. The team rushed towards the t-birds while their spirits massacred one of the crews. A dead and a few alive prisoners later, Richard and his advisor entered the now-secured plane. Rich smiled and told the prisoners “Rather poorly done, but one question. Why didn’t you fire at me from the start?” The guilty look in their eyes was all he needed to aim his red gun at his advisor and blow the man to kingdom come.

The team decided to call their boss, asking if Wild Life Incorporated wanted these poachers. “Ask them if they like Sudoku.” Their guilty eyes proved they did, so the prisoners were hidden. When the entourage and locals finally caught up, Rich took the lead and lied that there had been one survivor, who killed his poor advisor before H.R. got to kill him. To the surprise of the team, Rich lied so well that everyone fell for it. Had they not been there, they too would have believed him.

After an awesome evening meal with delicious buffalo meat later, and a peaceful paranoid night, the team drove back to Cheyenne and flew out of there. And now they knew that the advisor had been playing Richard, giving him advice to trick him into ignoring it and entering into hostile situations. The aggressive clubgoers, the cortex bomb assassination attempt and even the poachers sent to kill him knowing he’d go to visit the White Buffalo herds, were all his doing. But Rich had known something was up, and so had played along only after arranging for competent backup. The only question remaining for Wild Life Incorporated, was who was behind both this and the previous sabotage.

Polarbear Poachers: Report of Wild Things #1

The first Wild Things session went quite well. There were six players, who all played Polarbear Poachers.

The job: Go to Thule (Greenland) and take care of polar bears killing local wildlife, while killing as few polar bears as possible.

The team:

  • Sergeant Sam, a military brat gone Street Samurai
  • H.R., a bow-wielder who likes to shout “You have failed this ___!”
  • Carl, a combat mage army veteran
  • Will I Am, a Survival Expert and polar bear fanboy
  • Charmante, a huntress who can handle any environment
  • And finally a smiling Face who has to clean up the mess of others

The team received their briefing during the flight to Thule: Since polar bears went virtually extinct but rich people like seeing majestic animals in the wild, Wild Life Incorporated had sponsored a reintroduction program in the barren lands of Greenland several years ago. The locals got paid for the hassle and the Corp promised to take care of any problems. Problems were now present: Recently there had been a massacre of seals and the locals weren’t too happy with that.

Due to a snowstorm, the team had to be dropped off a while removed from the village. Fortunately they had received a decent bit of equipment: Arctic suits, survival kits, rations and good-rating commlinks with satellite links. They got to the village with just a bit of frostbite, where they ran into the local (well-armed) youth who immediately picked a fight, and the runners returned in kind. The mayor arrived and intervened, and when the rabble discovered the team was from Wild Life Incorporated the temperature dropped even more.

While Carl left a spirit outside to start change the weather, the team got briefed by the mayor. He reported that there had been two seal massacres so far the past two weeks, and yesterday a shepherd had been attacked. The man had gotten away, but his goats got slaughtered. In all cases the killings had been needless, with most corpses not even having been eaten from. The seal corpses had been picked up with snowmobiles and stored in the village, saving the village some hunting, but if more were killed then the local seal population could become endangered. And as an added burden, the snowmobiles had broken down from all the load.

The team checked out the dead seals and soon discovered anomalies. The hunting behaviour seemed amateuristic for bears, instead the attacks seemed to more resemble how swordwielders would attack. Furthermore a magical residue was discovered in some of the wounds. With the snow storm now alleviated by the spirit, part of the team went off to check on the villagers, while Charmante and H.R. decided to go out and interrogate seals. And of course got lost on the way, fortunately ending up close enough to then find the seals by following their sounds.

The team discovered there were a few latent adepts in the village, as well as a low-magic adept (the shepherd, who apparently frequently saw local spirits) and a young girl the spirit described as having a connection to the strange world humans connected to through their devices. In other words, a technomancer. A few theories arose about polar bear cyborgs being controlled, but these seemed unlikely. They also dug into the timings of the attack, and realized they seemed to resemble that of Long Haul periods: Four days on, two days off. These helped cement their suspicions that shapeshift-spells were involved. Their most likely suspect was a hermit living a while away from the village.

Meanwhile, Charmante and H.R. found the seals at the second attack location but got attacked by a walrus. After quickly beating him up and intimidating him, they then proceeded to demand the walrus told them where the polar bears were. By some miracle, with the help of some animal empathy, they managed to get through enough and the walrus led them to a damaged bush. They quickly realized that this bush had suffered damage from a large falling individual, suggesting that a polar bear had tried to stand on hind legs and had failed horribly at that.

The rest of the team contacted Wild Life Incorporated and discussed their findings so far. When Charmante and H.R. joined the conversation and spoke about interrogating a walrus, they immediately got psych evaluations scheduled. The team discussed what would be the best course of action. Taking out the mage first would likely result in unshifted people freezing to death, so they decided to first take out the fake polar bears, without lethal force, and to go after the mage after that.

After convincing the local youth to NOT go out and pick a fight with polar bears, the team went to the most likely location for the polar bears to show up now. They managed to quickly ambush them, knock them out and then managed to bring them back to the village where they were chained up and guarded by the trigger-happy youths. To get to the hermit, Carl summoned a Beast Spirit which pulled a dog sled for the team. After a tactical pincer-movement on the hermit’s cabin, H.R. opened the door to find… The hermit busy solving sudoku puzzles and not paying attention at all…

A quick takedown later, which they confirmed had undone the spells on the fake bears (which turned out to be trolls), the team scouted the scene. They found troll-sized sleeping bags, a bunch of books including a bible, a lot of solved sudoku and a commlink containing only received sudoku files. Suspecting secret codes, they took it all in and brought it back to the village. Since the real polar bears had not been involved in any of the attacks, culling was fortunately not needed. Still, the team arranged for plans to tag more of the bears and to set up a beacon net around the village to detect any trespassing polar bears in the future.

As for figuring out who arranged for these fake polar bears, the team left that to Wild Life Incorporated. With a job well done, it was time to get back to civilization and get wasted on warm food and good alcohol.