Big Sticks & Biggest Guns: Report of Black Hearts #5 part 5

Previously on Black Hearts:

Mr. Smith sent his Black Hearts on clandestine ops that was unsanctioned by the UCAS, with a briefing handed to them by their fellow operatives rather than the normal system. He split his agents into three teams for three simultaneous ops. One op with Decker, Assassin, Face and Rigger. The second had his Muscle, Stealth Mage and Demo Man. The third op he sent his B&E ghost, his Mind Mage and his Pickpocket Face.

The first op involved kidnapping a cartel boss’s daughter and heir, giving her a warning that her father should get better friends than terrorists. He also informed her she had better stay away from his daughter. The second involved blowing up said poor friend, as well as several dozens of soldiers as collateral damage. Just before the target’s commlink died, it flashed the filename Angela Serrano…

Mr. Smith was an excellent CIA Operative. He was meticulous. Made smart choices when recruiting assets and when hiring mercs. Knew when collateral damage was to be expected or even desired. Cleaned up trails like nobody else, discovered enemies like nobody else. His bosses were very satisfied with his work and let him create his own group of deniable assets, while most of his coworkers didn’t even know he existed. Those that did considered him nearly-flawless.

If there was one flaw that Mr. Smith had, it as his love for his daughter Angela. It was a flaw he kept well-hidden even from the UCSA Government. That his real name was Charles Serrano and that he had a daughter he saw once per year, nobody knew. Using the tools of his trade Smith had long since buried any trace that could let people connect his business with his personal life.

Arthur Nielsen was an excellent CIA Operative. He was meticulous. Knew exactly who to blackmail or bribe, and with what. Found weaknesses and dug up secrets. If there was one flaw he had, it was his selfishness. A selfishness that had driven him and seven other CIA operatives into the hands of Horizon, double-dipping with their intel. It also had driven them to help ensure their jobs by turning on the UCAS government…

Thus came into existence Quantum, a terrorist group which held the belief that peace made weak and so if the times were too peaceful, things needed to be shaken up. For that goal Quantum sparked terrorism and bloodshed, making others do their dirty work. And when it came to figuring out whether to use carrot or stick, bloodhound Arthur Nielsen was one of the best. Thus he rose to second-in-command, and so he got on the trail of Angela Serrano…

Nielsen had a black book commlink with the names of the many dozens of people he used. And the day came where he added his ‘coworker’ Smith to it. This exposed a flaw that Nielsen normally kept in check, namely his hubris. Had he been smarter he would have killed Smith within months of blackmailing him for the first time. Because Serrano loved his daughter and the best way to keep her safe was to bury his secret inside Nielsen’s grave.

Nielsen was a ghost. Nobody ever saw him. Nobody knew his face, his race, or what made him tick. So getting to him would be tough. But Smith knew how to play the long game, plus he knew that going for a quick resolution would tip his hand. So he bided his time and started digging. And since Nielsen was a coworker with a long dossier, it wasn’t hard for Smith to read between the lines and find an angle to use…

The weakness he identified was that Nielsen liked to get all hands-on if a pet project of his threatened to go wrong. So to lure him out, all that would be needed was to mess with the right project in the right way. The biggest problem would be taking out his dropbox with him. Because after all, there was no way Nielsen did not have a Dead Man Switch ready to burn quite a few people if he ever bit the dust…

And there Horizon came in… Because the Dawkins Group keeps tabs not just on potential enemies and assets, but on their own agents as well. There was bound to be some hints left by the double-agents, so ‘all’ Smith had to do was get into the Dawkins Group their intel stores. After that he’d have to lure out Nielsen while also figuring out where the switch was and how to kill it…

Four months after Nielsen added Smith to his black comm, Smith made his first move. His target was Jason McDonalds, a former member of the Dawkins Group that had been sidelined after complications in the Aztlan-Amazonia war. McDonalds had realized he was now expendable and was busy arranging his extraction. So Smith sent half a dozen agents to snatch McDonalds during the extraction, as to leave a trail of confusion and suspicion.

With the intel from McDonalds in hand, Smith sent agents after a former Horizon hotel. Their task was to obtain some art pieces present there that had Dawkins data stores inside them and replacing them with forgeries. The switch was to be made before anyone would realize they had slipped and was done quite excellently. Now even if the Dawkins Group or Quantum realized, they would only find the fakes and would be none the wiser.

With his intel in hand, it was time for Smith to lure out Nielsen. He decided to do so by targeting the Mirando cartel. Nielsen had allied himself with the cartel boss, convincing him that sponsoring terrorism was a good way to distract the cops from his own drug business. In return Smith allied the UCAS government with the Artosa cartel, an enemy of Mirando. He made sure to time this with an attempted coup against Artosa, as to buy a longer-lasting alliance.

Smith also had his Black Hearts hit a Mirando drughouse that was originally meant to be a honeypot. Had CAS agents hit the place and stolen the cash themselves, they would have been blackmailed as part of Nielsen’s plan. Instead the place was blown to bits and Lone Star got hotheaded-mad when one of their own cops ended up murdered. If the Mirando cartel wanted to get heat off them, they would have to try even harder now…

These setbacks would not be enough to lure out Nielsen though. The Mirando cartel would also have to be subtly exposed without Nielsen catching onto Smith. For this purpose Smith needed to frustrate them, and there was a really nice way of doing that… Nielsen knew there was a sociologist catching onto his game, so he wanted her gone. And two could play that game.

At the Joint UCAS-CAS Anti-Terrorism (JUCAT) Conference, the Black Hearts protected Agatha Lancer who aimed to convince both countries to look into cartels sponsoring terrorism… Meanwhile, they also took out her opponent Victor Mondreau, whose speeches were part of Nielsen’s divide-and-conquer strategy. Best of all, they did it sneakily and stole useful paydata on the Mirando cartel as well.

All the pieces were in play and thus began the story’s final act. In a simultaneous triple strike, the Black Hearts went after Nielsen, his Dead Man Switch and the Mirando cartel. The third wasn’t that needed but if anything separated Nielsen and Smith, it was that Smith still cared about his country. As such he refused to let terrorism happen if he could prevent it.

Daniella Mirando got kidnapped by four agents and given a stern talking to. This would guarantee that in the future the Mirando cartel would stay far away from terrorism. Three agents used the Dawkins intel to take out Nielsen’s dead man switch, making sure that no intel would leak unless Smith wanted it to leak. And three more took out Nielsen with a very big bang, making sure he’d rest in many, many pieces.

But no secret can stay buried forever. So Smith played another long game and gave away his personal motives. This way if Quantum came digging, they’d know he had acted out of personal motives. So rather than consider Smith a liability, they’d simply consider him an enemy. As a result they would argue about whether or not to take him out and if he even still was a threat to them.

Smith was good. And indeed Quantum debated internally about whether or not to take him out, deciding after two months that it seemed like he was indeed clean so no problem anymore. They let him slide.

During the third month the Black Hearts killed five Quantum members. The final two disappeared soon after…

Big Sticks & Biggest Guns: Report of Black Hearts #5 part 4

Previously on Black Hearts:

A team consisting of Scottie, Doll and Zen was tasked to go to Colombia and track down Arthur Nielsen with the help of Black Hawk, who had aided the Black Hearts before. This time she was less helpful and let the team fend for themselves when it came to obtaining intel. All she was willing to do was play Tracker for them.

In a town with a lot of soldiers in and near it, the team quickly employed their good points: Scottie showcased his ability to get the group in trouble, while Doll showcased her ability to smoothtalk things and Zen just helped hide them when consequences came a-running. With a lot of difficulty they managed to score intel on where Nielsen had gone, so now it was time to go and hunt him down…

Reaching the jungle, the team had to leave their truck behind and go on foot. Black Hawk found the trail without problems and lead the team along the path as they sneaked to the camp, a few hours travel away. They had to evade the jungle patrols, but that didn’t prove too difficult (a single close-call aside): The team all was at least somewhat trained in stealth, while Zen supplied a powerful Spirit that helped conceal them.

After this stressful trip the group reached an outcropping which helped them oversee the enemy camp. Using binoculars they could see a camp with three big tents and two Ares Roadmasters in the center. Surrounding that were several more tents, containing both semi-disciplined military troops and casual cartel heavies. There were lookout spots and two more parking spots for jeeps and other trucks. Last but not least, the camp (which was about 60 meters either side) had a wooden fence set up around it.

The group managed to spot Arthur Nielsen for a split second, before he disappeared out of sight again. Given the amount of enemies and the fact Zen was quite exhausted from summoning the Spirit earlier, the team decided to rest and go for a night raid instead. Meanwhile Black Hawk stayed a while removed and wasn’t getting involved at all here, as she had told them before already.

After dusk the group discussed tactics, and of course Scottie had a big preference to putting his explosives to work. His Coyote had charged by the kilogram for the smugglejob, rather than by punch. If he’d known in advance the kind of stuff Scottie was bringing, he might have charged more. See commercial explosives aren’t that great. You need 25 kilograms of it to rival a single kilogram of the top-of-the-line stuff.

Scottie had brought 10 kg of that.

The group considered hiding small packets of explosives around the camp, to take out their trucks and lookouts: Strike their eyes and legs. But explosives by themselves wouldn’t be lethal enough, the agents felt. So they would need additional shrapnel to increase the killing range. Since they hadn’t packed that stuff, they needed to get some first. Fortunately for them, there was an enemy camp nearby which had plenty. So Doll snuck in and came back with lots of bolts and other random junk from the motor poles.

While Doll was gone, Scottie and Zen debated exactly what targets to hit. Since their initial targets would be on the outer edges, they wouldn’t really take out too many enemies. Zen had already summoned  a new Spirit since dusk, an Air Spirit which they figured could just grab the remaining explosives and drop them on the tents in the middle of the camp.


The group hadn’t been hired to kill off the troops in the camp. Their one and only goal here was Nielsen’s head. If they were going to deliver a bomb by air, there was absolutely no need to first sneak in and set off explosives on the outer edges: Just make one huge bomb, deliver it and blow up most of the camp. Heck, with Scottie’s skills and the size of his supply, they might just blow up the entire camp and then some. After all they were using the equivalent of 250 kg Commercial Explosives…

So that’s the plan they went with. To maximize their chances, Zen turned his spirit invisible and pushed himself to make it the best Invisibility spell he’d ever cast. And up the spirit went, carrying a large packet for delivery. Not a single soul in the camp managed to notice it so the bomb got dropped at the center, the Spirit quickly jumped into the astral and just before it reached the ground the bomb was set off manually for maximum effect.

A Thor Missile would have made a bigger mess. This, however, was the next best thing. The tents were shredded, so were the cars and pretty much everyone in and near the camp. Heck even at half a click away Zen still got nicked by shrapnel. Good thing his armor managed to block most of the damage. As for the camp: Only a few were still standing: A cartel soldier and two soldiers including a Lieutenant.

Then, from the wreckage at the center suddenly appeared Nielsen, injured but still standing as if protected by the devil himself. The group immediately started sniping and even though he got lucky and managed to evade and take cover, no cover could save him from a sniper rifle and a Thunderstruck. While he died by an enemy he could not see, the soldiers at least tried to return fire. The spirit was sent to them to take them out, got taken out himself but soon after the snipers managed to take out the lieutenant. Taking no chances, the soldier quickly threw away his gun and stayed down.

Normally one would take the chance to loot the enemies and get precious paydata. However the team was half a kilometer removed and they already were starting to hear cars racing recklessly through the jungle back to the camp, while rotors were approaching from afar. Now was not the time to fight a war.

The job was done and there was no purpose in risking one’s life and not get to spend their pay…. So together with a rather spooked Black Hawk the group quickly went back into the shadows and, with yet another fresh summon’s aid, snuck away to get to an extraction point. What they left behind was damage great enough that most likely the astral space would be damaged for decades to come. What they left behind was a very big warning sign.

What they left behind was Nielsen’s body. On him two commlinks sparked and smoked from the shrapnel and blast damage they had received. One of them started cycling through recently-edited files. First came Victor Mondreau, next Daniella Mirando. The final name that showed up, just a split second before the commlink permanently fried, was Angela Serrano.

To be continued…

Big Sticks & Biggest Guns: Report of Black Hearts #5 part 3

Previously on Black Hearts: 

Two months ago two Black Hearts teams went after the Mirando organisation: One group hit a drughouse in the CAS on a Raid Party, which they discovered had quite some cameras inside. The other group had travelled to the Colombian jungle to engage in Soft Talks with the Artosa cartel, to obtain their aid in the fight against the Mirando cartel. Both teams left behind destroyed houses and a damaged Mirando cartel.

Now, while one team went after the daughter of the Mirando cartel’s boss, and another was up to no good somewhere out of sight, a third team was sent to engage the Mirando cartel again. But this time the Mirando cartel would not be the main target to hit…

The Run: Biggest Guns

The Agents:
  • Zen, a human magician with the most destructive spirits around
  • Scottie, human scottish demolitions expert extraordinaire
  • Doll, dwarven infiltrator and the best stealer of junk in the jungle

Their Mission, should they choose to accept it:
To take out Arthur Nielsen, second-in-command of the Quantum group

After going shopping for various things in their respective home towns, our agents noticed something peculiar once they got back home: someone had sneaked a small device into their pockets, which they were unable to open. Zen tossed it in a corner of his house, where Doll just let it lay around. However Scottie pulled out some more paranoid means: He put the device in his explosion-proof safe and proceeded to blow it up.

The next day, Scottie found yet another device in his pocket, of the same kind. This time there was a note attached reading “Don’t blow this up you moron”. Still distrusting the thing, he stuck this one into the bomb-proof safe as well but decided not to blow it up for now.

A few days later, these mysterious devices started playing the ancient song “Thunderstruck”. When the agents rushed to observe their devices, they discovered that now they could be opened. Inside was a button and once they had pressed those, a message from their handler Mr. Smith began playing.

The mission they received from him was to go to Colombia to eliminate Arthur Nielsen, second-in-command of the Quantum terrorist group. Quantum had struck several UCAS targets in the past years so needed clearing. While Nielsen was normally well-hidden, he was set to visit the Mirando cartel, one of their sponsors, shortly. This was the opening the team needed to take him out.

The commlink also contained the standard 2000 nuyen advance, as well as the tickets to Colombia. However, as Zen quickly noticed, the message did not, as standard, self destruct, setting the team on edge a bit. They tried to contact their handler, but Mr. Smith was not reachable for comment. They requested Bluepin to hack Mr. Smith’s commlink for more information, who promptly declined (“You’re joking right? No way I’m even going near that”). Not knowing what else to do, the team decided to then simply cautiously proceed with the mission.

Scottie made some arrangements with his Coyote, paying quite a large sum for his services, while the other two simply didn’t take any illegal goods with them. The subsequent plane ride to Colombia proceeded without much difficulty.

The second leg was a tad less comfortable, being in a small postal plane with a pilot that wasn’t too enthusiastic about his job, but that too passed without incident. However from the air they could see that around the town they were going to, was quite a large number of military patrols. It appeared their destination would be far less peaceful than their ride there…

Once in town, Scottie noticed a familiar face – Black Hawk, a guide he had met last time he went into the jungle, to negotiate with an enemy of the Mirando cartel. Black Hawk did not have her bodyguards with her this time and she acted rather sour and unhelpful. She informed the agents that Nielsen already was in the area and that he had met with the local army commander. After that he had made for a camp in the jungle.

Black Hawk made it clear to the team that once they found her a trail, she would lead them along it, and that was all she would be doing for them. Without digging into her sour behaviour, the team went to the local watering hole to grill the locals present. Shortly after they entered, Scottie made a rather unfriendly remark to the locals and was shown the door, though Zen and Doll were allowed to stay around. An annoyed Scottie decided to retaliate by placing sticky grenades on the outside walls – something easily noticed by a few nearby soldiers. They didn’t stop to check it out yet at this point though.

When Zen and Doll did not get anywhere with simple questions – the locals being quite afraid of the whole cartel business – Zen decided to shift into a more aggressive gear and started threatening the locals instead. This quickly backfired as they realized that none of them were actually trained in interrogation or intimidation, and the locals weren’t too impressed. Our agents still had the upper hand, were open fighting to break out – but this time a fight had not been what they were looking for.

Fortunately, while lacking intimidation skills the group did have a Doll quite capable of lying through her teeth. Which came in handy when during their standoff the scene was joined by a group of soldiers. Thinking on her feet, Doll managed to sell the soldiers the story that the pub owner and his guests were plotting against the soldiers. Needless to say the troops became rather aggressive to the locals after they found out. The team quickly take off, as it wouldn’t take too long for the soldiers to beat the truth out of the locals.

With the agressive approach not working, the agents decided to go to the local general store and try a more bribery approach. While the shopkeeper was still not very willing to offer too much detail, after some pressing – and some generous “purchases” – he informed the agents that they should probably really stay away from a certain nearby path, because that would surely lead to trouble. After a wink and a nod, the team went back on their way.

Meanwhile, the local soldiers had discovered they had been played and gotten wind of what the team was actually doing, so they went on a manhunt. Rather than entering a shootout with the troops, Zen decided to solve their problems by making their entire truck invisible and silent. Scottie proceeded to drive the truck around stealthily enough so they also managed not to leave tracks the soldiers were able of following. With an exasperated Black Hawk in tow the group quickly left town and patrols behind, travelling to the path that the shopkeeper indicated.

To be continued…

Big Sticks & Biggest Guns: Report of Black Hearts #5 part 1

Given my busy schedule, desire for quality and simply the sheer length of it, the Black Hearts finale recap will be split into five posts: Two for each run and a fifth part revealing what was going on behind the curtains. The second post of each run’s recap will of course include a link back and a short summary of what has happened.

These five posts will be written and published over the coming week, so I’ll see ya when I see ya. 🙂

The Run: Big Sticks

The Agents:

  • Templar, a human sneak with slick hands and a vicious mind
  • Visage, a charming socialite doing what, why. when and who
  • Bubbles, a pseudo-elven girl who makes resort staff cry

Their Mission, should they choose to accept it:
To infiltrate a Wellness Resort and extract Daniella Mirando against her will

While in town for some shopping, Templar noticed he was being reverse-pickpocketed. Looking around he spotted a fellow Black Heart, the B&E Expert Ghost, giving him a knowing glance before disappearing into the crowd. In a more secluded area Templar observed the device, but soon discovered he could not open it, nor was it wirelessly active, so he stored it at home for now.

A few days later both Visage and Bubbles had suffered the same without realizing, causing them to be far more surprised than Templar when the device suddenly started playing the song “Thunderstruck”. From behind a couch Bubbles sent her actionman drone to check out the device for her and push its button, while Visage and Templar were less careful with the device. Once the button had been pressed, a message from their handler Mr. Smith began playing.

The mission they received from him was to infiltrate a Wellness Clinic and kidnap Daniella Mirando, daughter of the boss of the Mirando cartel. They would receive support from Bluepin, another member of their team. He’d need their help setting up ways to circumvent security, which they had two days for. On the second night of their stay, they had to extract Mirando no matter what.

As the commlink sparked and popped out a credstick, the teammembers quickly realized Mr. Smith had misspoken at the end of the speech, mentioning neither the self-destruct nor the disavowing of their actions. Bubbles even realized that he had not stated the run was from the UCAS Government… In a mild panic she had her actionman doll use a payphone to contact Mr. Smith and figure out if he was under duress. The sole response was his assurances that if they did their job, he would be alright…

During their planeride the teammembers debated their cover-story with each other and their Decker support. The anonymous clinic they were going to was one with two purposes: Actual rehab treatment for celebrities, and being a place where celebrities could just hang out and enjoy a vacation without paparazzi. Of course they went for the second purpose, because why go to a luxurious place if it wasn’t going to be a blast? And as a few months back, Templar would shapeshift and travel in a dress.

One unfortunate downside of the clinic’s dual purpose was its strict security. There were chemsniffers built into every room, disallowing the use of any drugs, toxins or explosives and even guns. Even worse, security was at such a level that a straight hack was impossible for more than a few seconds. The only way to hack in would be to directly plug into any devices on the scene. For this purpose the team was supplied with a massive supply of datatap dongles: Just get them into devices their Universal Data Port and Bluepin would be able to hack them whenever desired.

Bubbles decided to put her disguise skill to good use, turning her Steel Lynx into a dog. While everyone could see it was truly a drone, noticing the owner wasn’t mad as a hatter would be harder. She then decided to traumatize their rented limo-driver by demanding she’d be allowed to drive, while Templar complained the car was dull. Putting the pressure on the driver and offering a bribe as well, the poor man was about to cave and asked if Bubbles could show her driving license. Which she did. Her stuntdriver license. The driver fainted right away.

On their way to the resort, Bubbles went completely nuts with the driving, even drifting underneath a trailer and driving on two wheels as to not let speeding cams get footage of their license plate. Visage managed to keep his food inside, while Templar’s thrillseeking involved much rejoicing and a single finger out the windows, aimed at the speeding cams. Of course Bubbles didn’t forget to pop the trunk and release her Roto-Drones when they got close to the resort, after which she drifted through the security roadblocks and entered the resort, followed by a lot of pissed security.

While security surrounded them and the team got busy misleading and manipulating them, the team was quick to notice metahumans weren’t the only security patrolling the resort grounds. A bit removed from the buildings they could see quite a few guard dogs wandering around in groups. So while Visage and Templar kept smoothtalking Security, Bubbles decided to make things worse by sending Mango to ‘play with the cute other dogs’. Much to the chagrin of their handler, a bulky Cascade Ork.

Said handler quickly voiced his severe objections to this ‘provocation’, his language laced with profanities. He easily recognized Visage as a Cascade Crow and immediately labelled him the likely culprit, while also making very clear to the receptionist that he would not tolerate this kind of behaviour from the guests: Either she’d keep the guests in line, or he’d keep his dogs in line while walking out with all hundred-some of them. With a sigh Bubbles called Mango back to her.

While Templar and Bubbles went to check out the building and scan for security loopholes, Visage went to talk with the dog trainer. Given the bad blood between the Cascade Crows and the Cascade Orks, what with the latter separating from the former because of being fed up with racism, he had some hostility to overcome.

His sincere curiosity regarding the animal training, combined with his animal handling and excellent social skills, managed to win over both the dogs and their owner. Visage even managed to land an invite to check out the attack training in half an hour. The handler, blinded by his like for the man who was even eager to use live pigs, never realized his new friend was simply looking for info on the dogs and how to call them off, should a nightly escape involve getting past the dogs.

Visage joined the others at the bar, where soon they were confronted by an angry businessman. The man took offense to Bubbles her fake elven ears, which made her team members realize Bubbles was in fact not a real elf but an Elf Poser. Templar’s response was to covertly shape his ears like elven ones , then show them to the nuisance. Said nuisance sputtered and got mad, resulting in security escorting them away from the team.

A while later Visage left for the attack training, while the others ordered some good whisky. When they got their drinks another guest pushed them aside, scoffing at the poor quality the resort dared pour. He instructed the bartender to give the lovely ladies some from his own private stash, with whisky 1000 nuyen the glass rather than the bottle. He then introduced himself as Richard William Dickens IV. During the resulting conversation Rich made it quite clear by innuendo what his goal was at the resort: Hunting. And not for wildlife.

Spotting a likely easy mark, Bubbles tried distracting Dickens with idle conversation while Templar secretly swiped the man’s keycard to copy and return. Unfortunately, as both noticed, during this a faint smile endorned the man’s face. Hinting that he knew what they did, Dickens left soon after but not before Bubbles invited him over to their quarters in the evening, so she could offer him a drink herself.

Covertly armed with their Fly-Spies and dongles, the girls decided to check out the inside of the resort as well. Their first destination? The reception. Here Bubbles distracted the receptionist by enthousiastically asking about the dogs and deciding to go outside to pet the lovely beasts. While the receptionist and security frantically chased her, to make sure their precious insane guest didn’t get herself mauled to death, the dongle was easily planted. Bluepin gave some bad news though, the guestlist was in code so he’d need some guest’s information to crack it. Fortunately the group knew exactly what room to start with: The one belonging to Dickens.

The girls then went for a tour of the facilities, allowing Templar to intensely memorize another possible escape route, using the landry system. Eventually the girls, employing a lot of pressure, badgered their guide into letting them see the private garage. Here they got to see the cars stored by a lot of guests, allowing Bubbles the car fanatic to identify two cars as popular with Mexicans. She then caused another distraction by going fangirl over some other cars, allowing her drones to sneak under the Mexican cars and bug them as well. Afterwards the team was ‘tricked’ into attending the restaurant for an exclusive dish by now-relieved security.

While the girls were on their tour, Visage participated in some pig shredding and picked up how he could easily call off the dogs. Afterwards he returned to the bar. Here he ended up chatting with a male guest who boasted about his profound love for the resort, especially the presence of ‘exotic cuisine’. What the man meant was quite clear, as was the fact he was a greasy slimebag.

Still he was a possible information source so Visage tapped him for all he was worth. This paid off when the man mentioned a meal he’d have ‘loved to enjoy’, namely a gorgeous Mexican lady who unfortunately travelled with bodyguards. Through the conversation Visage found out that Daniella Mirando had the habit to stay at a pool during dinner times until shortly before Resort Curfew hours, before going for a massage.

As one of the few guests who was allowed to ignore curfew, she would then only return to her room after a very lengthy massage. Apparently Daniella and her bodyguards had separate connected quarters, though the slimebag noted he suspected her of having a ‘healthy appetite’ and sharing her bed with at least one of her bodyguards.

To be continued…

To Protect And To Serve: Report of Black Hearts #4

The agents (team Protect):

  • Doll, a dwarven lady with a love for French bread
  • Visage, a human smoothtalker with a love for French profanities
  • Zen, a human summoner with a love for teeth

Their Mission, should they choose to accept it:
To go to an anti-terrorism conference and protect Agatha Lancer against assassins.

The agents (team Serve):

  • Templar, a human sneaky shifter with slick fingers
  • Bluepin, a human decker who handles his metadata well but has the worst luck
  • Bubbles, an elven spying recon eye there to watch everyone’s back, literally

Their Mission, should they choose to accept it:
To go to an anti-terrorism conference, steal paydata from Victor Mondreau and then assassinate him.

Both teams, minus Bubbles, received invitations from the Argos company for jobs of various professions, each person being offered something fitting their fake licenses. Most realized the sender was this month’s codephrase, except Doll who needed a ‘friendly’ mailed reminder. Each agent went to their local Argos office to pick up their briefing with, as always, their advance and their datachip with instructions.

Team Protect received a curious briefing, with an exasperated Mr. Smith vocally telling his technical staff that no, the datachips should NOT be rigged to self-destruct rather than self-erase. Inbetween his complaints he delivered his instructions. The team was to attend the Joint UCAS-CAS Anti-Terrorism (JUCAT) Conference in Norfolk, there they were to protect sociology professor Agatha Lancer against likely assassination attempts, caused by her vocal opposition against terrorist groups.

Team Serve lucked out that their briefing was made second, so no self-destruct suggestions were debated in their briefing. They were informed that they were asked to attend the JUCAT Conference in Norfolk, where they had to obtain paydata owned by Victor Mondreau. Once the paydata was confirmed, they were to assassinate Mondreau. Since this time there was no contact on site, team Serve also received a decent bit of intel on their target.

Each team member took the plane to Norfolk, while also wondering about what all to bring. Licenses checked out fine, though Doll sent her explosives on another plane instead. As for Visage, the proud creature of comfort upgrades his plane ticket because if one is to travel around the country stuck in a big metal tube, one might as well do so in style!

The JUCAT Conference schedule, spanning 3 days from wednesday to friday, was quite simple. On thursday and friday there would be readings during the day, interrupted for a lunch in the afternoon. On these days there also would be a dinner available. On wednesday and thursday there would also be cocktail parties. Important for the teams was that on friday the last two readings would be from Lancer and Mondreau.

Lancer’s lecture would be about that the UCAS and the CAS should be wary of cartels sponsoring terroristic organisations to waste government resources, all so their drugtrades could do better. To counter this, she believed the countries should share more intelligence.

Mondreau, on the other hand, wanted to argue that the Intelligence Agencies should decentralize, split up more in a cell-structure. This because otherwise turncoats could do massive damage by leaking intel, not to mention that politics could result in one party leaking intel on another party’s agents. In effect he was arguing the opposite of Lancer, and his panel would be the closing one of the conference before the last supper.

On the plane Bluepin browsed the Matrix for intel on Mondreau and shared the intel with his teammates. As it turned out, their target was a sociologist who had a long history of arguing against the centralisation of intelligence services. Also a blogger who loved sharing his talks, meals and more. To the trained eye it appeared a sham, where even Mondreau’s well-covered peanut allergy seemed phony.

Team Serve arrived in the afternoon and first went to deposit their luggage at the hotel. In their rooms they found some extra tools of the trade, namely several toxins to pick from to either inconvene Mondreau, slowly kill him or take him out real fast. The killers were injection poisons, while inconvening here meant a contact-poison that would cause a severe pseudo-allergic reaction. A perfect counter to someone pseudo-allergic. The final tool they received was a maglock passkey copier, quite useful in a modern hotel.

A bit after five team Serve left for the conference building, checking out its security and quickly reaching the conclusion that unfortunately sneaking in covertly was not an option. Meanwhile team Protect arrived, dropped their stuff in the car and went back into the airport to pick up Lancer.

When the team walked up to Lancer they could tell she knew who they were. Another thing they noticed was two likely-assassins observing them from a distance. The team immediately jumped into action with Visage leading Lancer out, Zen quickly making Lancer invisible and Doll moving to head off the assassins.

Needless to say, casting magic in a crowded Airport is not the best way to not draw attention. As people voiced their shock, security immediately moved to surround Zen while everyone else scrammed. During this Doll managed to catch up to an assassin, whose response was a rather Cold-War-like cyanide pill in their teeth. As the assassin started foaming Doll quickly slipped into the crowd and got out of dodge fast.

Eventually Zen managed to convince security he didn’t cast anything harmful and was let off with a severe warning. Visage and Lancer made it to the car just fine, but Doll had to run back to actually pick up the lady’s luggage. Then they headed for the hotel and, to avoid any room-rigging by would-be assassins, immediately fiercely complained their way into better rooms.

When they hit their new room, the first thing Zen did was cast Extended Detect Enemies on Lancer so she’d be able to notice enemies coming. The second thing he did was summon an Air Spirit to stand guard, after which he went to check out the convention hall for anything and anyone suspicious, only noticing Private Eyes in disguise that were pickpocketing people. Meanwhile, the first thing Lancer did was raid the minibar since Uncle Sam was now paying the bill.

In the evening both teams visited the cocktail party, sitting out a dull introduction speech and then jumping into drinks. Team Serve kept an eye on Mondreau, who was accompanied by ‘friends’ , and played the waiting game while team Protect played the ‘listening to Lancer complain about Mondreau’ game. Things came to a head when Mondreau approached Lancer and started hassling her, which received both verbal and physical violence, in the form of Visage namecalling him in French and Doll grabbing a baguette to hit him with.

At this time Bluepin had started hacking Mondreau’s commlink and was failing miserably. Fortunately for him Mondreau was too busy being smacked around to notice his commlink alerting him to the attack, so Bluepin quickly pressed on and stole all the encrypted data from there. Unfortunately the data was a bust paydata-wise. Meanwhile Security decided to hold off on interfering so the fight could resolve itself, which it quickly did with Mondreau less bruised than his ego.

Afterwards a waiter walked up to Lancer and offered her a complimentary drink. The group realized he was an assassin and stealthily gestured for security to come. As the security guards took the assassin by the shoulders, Lancer finally paid enough attention to detect he was an enemy… Just in time for this one too to off himself by cyanide. As he lay writhing on the floor, rather upsetting the party and the carpet, Templar took the opportunity to swipe Mondreau’s keycard, copy it and put it back without anyone but Doll noticing.

Back at the hotel Bubbles joined team Serve, sent to give them aid by watching their backs and enemies with her drones. Everyone went to sleep while drones and a spirit stood guard inside the hotel rooms and, in one drone’s case, inside a vending machine. Thus ended an eventful first day.

Thursday morning Mondreau went for breakfast with his bodyguards, so Templar left the hotel, changed his looks by magic and returned a different person. He then snuck into Mondreau’s room with the copied keycard, after checking for traps of course and knowing exactly how to fake nobody had entered the room. Inside he noticed no suspicious electronics. One thing he did notice was a painting hanging slightly crooked. Giving it a push, and comparing it to one in their own hotel room, revealed that the painting likely had a small weight upsetting its balance.

A cautious inspection revealed a datachip hidden inside the painting. As he plugged it into his commlink, for Bluepin to hack, Bubbles warned them one of the bodyguards was returning. Bluepin checked the chip for traps, finding several protected files with Databombs on them. He tried to disarm the weakest but almost failed, scraping by with his teeth.

After this Bluepin did not dare try to disarm the others, so instead he corrupted another datachip and left it in the vending machines at the end of the corridor. Templar then left the room, switched the datachips and received a free Twix from a Fly-Spy, then planted the corrupted chip back in the painting. He left the room and set up the trapcard at the door to conceal his visit, getting into the elevator just as the bodyguard stepped out of it.

Team Serve then had the tough choice on what to do with the datachip. Bluepin did not dare risk it, so they called Mr. Smith and made arrangements to send it back home. Unfortunately all they had now was a file showing a bodyguard’s schedule, with the only thing of use being that a month from now he’d be protecting Daniella Mirando in the UCAS. Also Mondreau’s convention itinerary, including what questions he’d ask Lancer and what insults he’d throw her way to interrupt her speech. Not enough to be the paydata Team Serve needed and as such, until the datachip was succesfully decrypted they were not allowed to move on Mondreau…

At lunch security was in charge of the waitering due to people being afraid of poisoning attempts. And not normal security, no the elite security that normally was on standby… Needless to say this did not put them in a good mood. In the afternoon the only action was when a lecturer got confronted by his angry wife, who emptied his water pitcher in his face and stormed off. Team Serve did their best scouting for all their possible assassination chances, but unfortunately they were still on a red light.

During dinner Team Protect confronted the PIs they had noticed before, who revealed they were working independently. One had come to find proof the lecturer from before was cheating on his wife, which had been succesful. The other revealed she was there because the resort manager responsible for the convention grounds was suspected of embezzling. Unfortunately this interrogating left the atmosphere tense, which meant Visage had a hard time convincing staff to take his order.

At the cocktail party, Lancer got into a conversation about cartel politics with another guest, when the party was over they continued the conversation in her sitting room, while Doll stood guard outside. Just as Lancer’s guest was leaving, Doll spotted two men approaching that she realized were even more assassins. The assassins knew that she knew so they ran, chased by a combat monster unwilling to relent.

Bullets started firing and it was the gel ones managing to take out a combatant. The second assassin went out a window and started climbing down, which turned out to be a very bad call. Doll had no interest in letting him go so kept pulling the trigger until the guy got knocked off, falling to his death. A mere second later security arrived and put a gun to her head. Hours later she was finally released from questioning.

On friday Zen brought his Air Spirit with him to the convention. Given the repeated assassination attempts on Lancer, Security was ill-equipped to refuse. They did force the spirit to wear a coat and guest badge though.

Half an hour after lunch Team Serve finally received their green light. The paydata had checked out and Mondreau was now officially a dead man walking. Or rather, a dead man lounging at the lobby, ignoring the afternoon lectures and preparing for his coming confrontation with Lancer. Templar took his poisons and sat down at the bar nearby, waiting for a chance.

That chance arrived when Mondreau requested another bottle of water from the convention staff, who all were wearing gloves. Templar prepared his allergy-poison, putting some on his own glove. When the bartender readied the bottle, Templar took it and passed it on to the waitress with a charming smile, who then delivered the bottle to Mondreau.

Several minutes later the poison caused Mondreau to spasm heavily and, after a careful wait, Templar offered his medical assistance with an epi-pen. That the pen was loaded with poison and killed Mondreau in seconds, well how was he to know… With confusion and security approaching, he played his part then bowed out, leaving the aftermath to those poor sods.

Inside the presentation hall rumors started up about the incident, which came to a head once the presentation was over. Massive gossiping caused a bit of chaos, leaving an opening for the final assassin to exploit. With all his comrades dead or captured, he pulled out his metal-detection-proof HK Urban Combat and went for Lancer. Zen spotted him and managed to warn the rest, but it was the Air Spirit who got off the first shot. His attack came as a real shocker to the assassin, slowing him down enough for Doll to take him out before Lancer could even get shot at.

At this point the final bang, figuratively, came when a courier arrived with Doll’s explosives. As the chemsniffer alarms went blazing the security guards dogpiled the poor man.

When the talks continued, things were shaken and stirred but still standing. Lancer did great on her speech, and Mondreau’s speech was replaced by one coming from the convention organizer, holding a passionate speech about the dangers terrorists formed for this society, including the new organizations such as the Hand of Five and even the intra-corp Omega Dawn! Ignoring all that boring intel, Teams Protect and Serve just served their time in lecture hell, then went for dinner and their planerides home, another ten grand richer than before.

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.

Rigger Modifications 3/3: Spy Mods

Explanations short because again, temporary sloppy rules.

Chameleon Coating:

Programmable vehicle disguise. -4 Concealability when a proper disguise is chosen (such as a similar vehicle, or camouflage). Less effect or even reversed if disguise does not match environment.


Built-in Area Jammer.

Morphing License Plate:

Can change their looks freely to any chosen existing/non-existing license plate. Combinable with Spoof Chips.

Signature Masking:

Any Sensor test against this vehicle is reduced by the lowest of the Rating of the Signature Masking and the Rating of the Sensor.

Smuggling Compartment (restricted):

-6 Concealability against determined searches, cannot be discovered with normal searches.

Comes in 3 types, of Rating 1, 2 and 4: Rating 1 is Suitcase-sized and can be put in any Large Drone and any Vehicle. Rating 2 is Metahuman-sized and can be put in any Vehicle with at least 2 Seats. Rating 4 is Troll-sized and can be put in any Vehicle with at least 4 Seats.

Can be Shielded against detection methods, e.g. airtight versus chem sniffers, faraday versus radar scans, or biofiber versus assensing. A compartment can be shielded multiple times, each method costs nuyen but the availability modifier applies only once. Rating of the Shielding equals the rating of the Compartment.

Spoof Chips:

Can generate false access IDs on command or at a specified frequency. Can combine with Morphing License Plates, automatically instructing the Plates to change whenever needed.

Vehicle Tag Eraser:

Anti-RFID wiper that can destroy any RFID tags attached to the vehicle. Board electronics must be disabled for 1 Combat Turn for this. Internal RFID tags are not destroyed.

Oil-Slick Sprayer:

Can spray oil on the road, causing +2 Threshold on Vehicle tests for any chasing ground vehicle. 6 charges, refill costs 50¥.

Road Strip Ejectors:

Can eject Road Strips. 6 capacity.

Spike Strips pop any non-Run-Flat tires, causing a Crash Test and applying a -2 on Vehicle Tests per flat tire.

Zapper Strips electrically attack any vehicle that comes into contact with them, doing 12S(e)/-5 versus the vehicle and 8S(e)/-5 versus the passengers.

Smoke Projector:

Causes Smoke which obscures vision as normal smoke. Takes 1 Combat Turn to cover 20m diameter, 30m diameter after the second Combat Turn. Usually lasts about 10 Combat Turns. Holds 6 charges, refills cost 50¥.