Scorched Earth

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Scorched Earth
Part of The Farm and The Furious
Date2081-07-30
GMSedatedAlice
LocationSeattle
Status Threat Level: Medium
Factions Involved
ShadowHaven
Fuego Fieri Firebrand the Fourth
Rogue Halloweeners
Moth
Santesso
Stax
Rufus
Casualties and losses
2 Halloweeners got tossed to King HumungaMax to be dealt with.


Summary

The runners were hired to help a Skraacha mid-level boss, Oakstein, to investigate a theft of materials he had been holding for a client. The runners figured out who had taken the goods and returned everything that had been stolen to the Johnson.

Press

SHOTS FIRED IN PUYALLUP PACKHOUSE
(Thursday, July 30, 2081) Seattle, UCAS: The sharp retort of firearms rang out over the Puyallup warehouse district this Thursday. Knights Errant, when finally arriving on the scene, found an empty warehouse, an abandoned van with its registration wiped clean, and a smattering of small and large caliber casings. No further information on this ongoing investigation is available at this time.
  • Hoi, chummers! I was forwarded this clipping with a couple of digital post-its attached. According to my source, rival gangs were involved (one of which rhymes with 'shallow weiners'), and the shootout was the final play in reacquiring some stolen goods. Somebody's keeping this close to the vest, though. Who are they protecting?
  • News Van Dan

Background

A shipment of medical supplies, rightfully stolen and placed under the protection of the Shadow Bank and the Skraacha, was stolen again. The runner team was contacted by their individual fixers (rather than through the ShadowHaven BBS, which is the usual method). Stax's fixer, Warboss, was particularly vague on the job's details.

The Meet

The runners rolled up to The Four Roses club in Touristville (the forwarded place of the meet), a strip club. On entering, they were directed to a nervous young ork. He seemed entirely unused to this side of the business. The runners convinced him to move to a more private room for the meet.

Once settled in, the Johnson laid out his story. He was probably a bit more free with details than a typical Johnson, but he was obviously nervous. He introduced himself as Oakstein, a mid-level security chief in the Skraacha. He was nervous because a very valuable shipment under his charge had gone missing from the Ork Underground. He had been able to keep this information from his clients and his superiors so far, and wanted the runners to reacquire the shipment before anyone was the wiser. He was willing to pay extra to keep that information contained, securing his reputation. Moth, her presence calm and reassuring, negotiated a deal for 36,000 dollars UCAS each (approximately 18,000 ¥). A deal was struck and Oakstein laid out what little he knew about the theft.

The Skraacha's clients, a woman named Charity Horace and her husband Mr. J, had contracted with the Ork Underground to smuggle several large crates of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for them. The clients were known benefactors of the downtrodden in Redmond, so the medical supplies would be used for philanthropy, not profit. What's more, 20% of the supplies would go to the Ork Underground as payment. The crates with the supplies were being held in a hidey-hole in lava tubes deep in the Underground, but were now missing. The only clue Oakstein had was that there were scorch marks at the location of the theft, which might indicate that a rival gang, The Halloweeners, were involved.

Oakstein was very concerned about his reputation, as the shipment's security was his responsibility, but more than anything he wanted the shipment back so he could deliver the goods in good faith to the clients. The runners thanked Oakstein for the info, reassured him once again that he was in good hands, then headed out to Santesso's van to plan.

The Plan

The lava tube where the theft occurred was in a part of the Ork Underground in Puyallup, so the runners decided to plan on the move. As the van's dog brain navigated its way to an Underground entrance closer to that tube, the team came up with a two-pronged attack for the run's legwork. First, Moth and Santesso would hop into the matrix and see what threads they could pull to uncover useful info. Secondly, the team would do an onsite investigation of the physical location of the theft to see what further information they could dredge up there.

The Run

As Santesso's van rolled toward Puyallup, he and Moth jumped into VR and started sifting through the vast amount of data the matrix had to offer. They began by pulling at the various threads Oakstein had offered. They looked up Charity Horace and Mr. J as potential suspects, but quickly discounted them. While not above committing crimes to achieve their goals, those goals tended to be charitable, and they were not known for doublecrossing allies or business associates. Then they decided to look up various entities who might have grudges against the two. This proved a bit more fruitful.

First on the list were the Red Star Clinics, and their parent company EVO. They currently have a grudge with Charity Horace because she stopped being a spokesperson for them (see report). It was possible they took her supplies to spite her. Moth and Santesso followed that relationship, attempting but failing to find evidence of RSC taking in a large shipment of medical supplies. Either they were not directly responsible, or their position in the health care industry allowed them to fold the stolen pharmaceuticals into their regular medical deliveries. In either case, it was a bit of a dead end.

Second, the pair looked into the Halloweeners. This scorch marks at the scene that Oakstein described certainly could fit with the Halloweener's love of chaos and burning things, but there was little hard connection beyond that. Similarly, veiled hints of grudges held by the Yakuza and Aztechnology went nowhere. All of these groups had problems with Horace and Mr. J, but there were no evidence of them being involved with this particular crime.

The team decided to come at it from a different direction. If nothing could be found connecting suspects to the stolen shipment, why not start with the shipment itself? Moth and Santesso began running searches on the seedy underbelly of the p2.1 marketplace (what those from another time might refer to as a "Dark Web Craigslist") for applicable pharmaceutical sales, specifically focusing on a few of the rarer drugs in the shipment, particularly one focused on treating bipolar disorder, and then comparing other sales by those sellers to the shipping manifest provided by Oakstein.

It took some doing, but they finally hit the motherlode. A user (or users) going by the name "KHMSucksBallzLoL" was selling multiple supplies matching the manifest. The team speculated that "KHM" was none other than King HumungaMax of the Halloweeners, and that the thief was either KHM's enemy outside of the organization or someone within the gang who wanted to take KHM down. Moth and Santesso scoured KHMSucksBallzLoL's p2.1 feed for clues, and eventually found a video in which a brief glimpse of the videographer's sleeve was seen. It was orange and black...the colors of the Halloweeners.

The team contacted King HumungaMax, with a referral from King Midas, to see if he had any information about KHMSucksBallzLoL. After a slight delay, he returned with information about not only their identity, but a location where they had been spotted. His only request was that the two main people involved be delivered (preferably alive) to a location of his choosing. The runners agreed, and moved on to the next part of the legwork: investigating the location of the theft.

Moth changed her skin tone to approximate a hobgoblin, then she and Santesso began working on disguises for Santesso and Rufus, to better fit into the Ork Underground. Then they entered, and Stax, as a member of the Skraacha and a regular in the Underground, took point. Stax convinced the guard to let them all pass; they didn't look like topsiders, and if Stax vouched for them.... In any case, the guard had more pressing matters. "You can go on through, but you gotta take care of...those." He drew the team's attention to a distinct skittering sound coming from down the tunnel, and Rufus went a bit pale (visible even through the makeup Moth had spread across his face). He knew (and hated) that sound: Devil Rats.

The team drew iron and headed into the tube. Three enormous rats charged them. One managed to get a bite on Stax, but ended up ineffectually gnawing at his orthoskin until Santesso's crawler riddled it with bullets. Rufus perforated a second rat, and Stax electrocuted a third. Moth yelled encouragement from the sidelines.

The devil rats dealt with, the team headed to the scene of the theft. A thorough examination of the area by Moth and Rufus revealed tire tracks (deeper leaving than arriving) and footprints consistent with five people. All evidence indicated that a group of five people (likely Halloweeners) loaded up a vehicle and drove farther down the lava tubes, in the direction of the warehouse address sent to the team by King HumungaMax. The runners left the Underground, loaded into the van, and headed to the warehouse.

On arriving at the warehouse, Santesso zipped into his rigger's cocoon and jumped into one of his fly-spies. He set about looking for a place to enter the warehouse. Stax stealthily approached one of the warehouse doors and started examining the keypad maglock. Santesso found a hole and determined that there were five 'Weeners and a van parked in the mostly empty warehouse. He sent an AR feed to the rest of the team. Stax successfully opened the maglock. The team gathered to breach: Moth, Rufus, Stax, and Santesso's sniper rotodrone waited at the door while Santesso maneuvered another rotodrone around to the other side of the building to create a distraction. As the drone unloaded several rounds of stick 'n shock flechette into one of the loading doors, the team rushed into the building and sought cover behind several stacks of boxes. They prepared for battle.

The three 'Weener underlings were caught completely off guard by the attack, but the leaders managed to keep their wits. One of the leaders began muttering under her breath, focusing her will, and a large fire elemental (later discovered to be Troggzor the All Consuming Flame, aka Fuego Fieri Firebrand the Fourth) was called into being. The runners focused their efforts on taking out the mage before she could give any instructions to the fire spirit. The mage dropped and the fire spirit left, joyfully shouting of its freedom as it disappeared from sight. The second leader snapped off a shot at Rufus, who dodged the attack with style and grace. The team then focused its fire on the second leader and took him to the ground. Rufus then proceeded to kneecap the three remaining 'Weeners with gelcap rounds. They hit the concrete...hard.

The runners secured the 'Weeners with restraints (making sure to blindfold and gag the mage as well), then checked the van. The entire stolen cargo appeared to be there. Santesso drove his van into the warehouse and the team transferred the crates to it. Troggzor reappeared, demanding more snacks. With guidance from her contact, The Steward, Moth rifled through the mage's pockets and found all of her reagents. She offered them to Troggzor, who gratefully accepted, then flew away shouting accolades for Moth. The team wiped the 'Weener van clean of evidence, then threw the two bound leaders into Santesso's van, loaded up, and headed out onto the streets of Puyallup.

Aftermath

The runners delivered the two unconscious 'Weeners to the location indicated by King HumungaMax, then met up with a very relieved Oakstein to make the exchange of payment for goods. Then they all traveled to Midas' Palace to celebrate their success with a night of high-quality hedonism in the VIP room (friendship with Moth does have its perks!).

Rewards

Everyone gets!
+2 CDP
+2 Faction rep: Skraacha
+1 Faction Rep: Redmond Rejuvenation Project

Option 1: Karma/nuyen
18,000 nuyen
4 karma

Option 2: 1 contact!
18,000 nuyen
2 karma
King HumungaMax as a 2/1 Contact

Option 3 (aka MOTH WOULD YOU LIKE SOME CONTACTS)
18,000 nuyen
Fuego Fieri Firebrand the Fourth at 2/1 Contact
King HumungaMax as a 2/1 Contact


Game Quotes

Player After Action Reports (AARs)

Santesso

Good group. Draxa and Stax were getting a little twitchy during all the matrix work...need to link them some ARO games to pass the time. [MuttleyLaugh.sim]

Moth

Moth here! This was my 39th run. This was a great group. It is always a pleasure to work with Santesso - he and I work really well together to dig to the heart of any mystery. It was nice to meet Stax and Rufus. I'd definitely work with them again! Very capable combatants, and Stax really knows his way around the Skraacha. Honestly, I think the Skraacha and the Laesa are pretty similar - we look after our communities. I'm so glad we got Charity her supplies. That medicine will do a lot of good in the Barrens. And it was nice to meet Fuego Fieri Firebrand the Fourth. Maybe I'll see him again!