A Drop of Blood Never Hurt Anyone
|A Drop of Blood Never Hurt Anyone|
|Part of The Month the Streets Ran Red|
|ShadowHaven||A Mystery Villain!|
Big Bad Vampire Troll|
In which the runners are flown to LA in the middle of the night to investigate a mysterious murder.
There is no meet as such – instead, everyone receives a strange message from their fixers informing them that 30,000 nuyen has been set aside in escrow, and that all the runners must do to claim it is to go to a specified location. They have no contact info for the Johnson, but the money checks out as legit and is there for the claiming; the runners are all perplexed by this odd turn of events, but none are the sort to turn down free money. After accepting the job, each of them receives a pre-paid plane ticket (take-off in 45 minutes on a private flight from Sea-Tac) to Los Angeles as well as three marks on a device at the location they are meant to go to.
Upon arrival, they are greeted by a pilot and a hostess. Introductions are made and pleasantries exchanged as they settle in for the flight – however about half an hour in the plane suddenly shifts to autopilot and there is a billowing cloud of smoke out the left side. A quick assensing roll confirms that both were vampires, and have just vacated the craft, leaving them alone on the plane with their destination programmed in; shrugging, the runners all light up a whole bunch of cigarettes and begin spitefully damaging the plane’s interior with smoke and stubbing butts out on the leather seats.
When the plane lands, the team are met by a ghoul who evidently speaks no English; he is polite enough however, and beckons them into his vehicle (though he spritzes them with a spray bottle when they try to smoke). They brainstorm a plan in the event that all this turns out to be some sort of trap, but all agree it would have to be a pretty elaborate trap just to get some ghoul food. After a leisurely cruise through the LA streets, guided by ARO, they come to a makeshift pier where a boat is anchored.
Their driver stops and gestures to the boat, and the ARO is pointing out towards a mostly submerged building, so the runners hop in the boat and head off towards their destination. When they get there, they are rather surprised to find a dead body. Dundundun…
Approaching the scene of the crime, the team goes into investigation mode and begins to take an initial assessment of things. The dead man is an ork, apparently shot through the neck at close range with a high caliber weapon – far closer range than necessary for a long barrel firearm like this seems to be, to the point where there is muzzle burn on his neck. They also note that he was killed only minutes before they arrive – the blood is still fresh. Dandy scopes out the scene looking for potential hiding spots and finds a homeless person’s shelter, though it is empty at the moment. Delphi assenses the area and spots an astral signature, which she memorizes, before picking up the dead man’s commlink and looking through it, identifying him as one Jeremiah Strongoak (evidently a wageslave accountant who seems to have been a fairly normal guy). Shuffle looks around and spots some gangers hanging out nearby, who soon approach the murder scene; they just shrug at it, and Delphi asks if they know the guy or heard anything, but they profess ignorance before going into a manhole that leads down into the building.
Puzzled at the scene, the runners start trying to piece the evidence together and construct an idea of what happened and why – the money still hasn’t shown up in their accounts yet, so they presume that finding the answer will get them paid, plus Delphi has Oracle as a mentor spirit urging her to unravel the mystery. Shuffle is able to spot a third party observing them from under what seems to be an RPC cloak, and assensing confirms that they are a cybered-up technomancer – one who apparently has backup, as two more auras area spotted as well on buildings overlooking the murder scene. An edged matrix perception test is enough to spot the team’s commlinks and guns, so Shuffle targets one of them with a Control Actions spell, having him a) throw his weapon into the water, b) discard his cloak, and c) stand up so Dandy can shoot him. Before that can happen a thermal smoke grenade is tossed in their direction and the devices go wireless-dark, so the runners book it to their boat and race off in the direct ion of the one who was disarmed, managing to catch up to him as he tries to retreat.
It quickly becomes clear that they’re dealing with a relatively new street-level runner – Delphi makes her best attempt at interrogation, asking who he is and why he’s there, but the poor kid passes out from terror before they can ask follow-up questions. The others have gotten away clean, so the team cuffs their captive and rests for a little bit, puzzling over their clues and trying to unravel things. After a few hours of speculation and waiting to see if anyone else shows up to mess with the body – no one does however, besides the rats, and after a while the sun starts to rise.
The kid wakes up, disappointed but not surprised to find that he’s restrained and that comrades have not mounted a daring rescue. Shuffle has mind magic at the ready, but Delphi takes a bit of a softer touch and tries to get him to open up to them in exchange for a promise to not hurt him (and to give him back the crappy RPC cloak that seems to be his most valuable possession). He doesn’t know much of use, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of prompting to get him to spill his story: he is indeed a new runner, and his fixer told him he had some easy money and some veterans who could show him the ropes (i.e. the other two now-escaped runners). All he had to do was go to a location, watch a guy get killed, then observe the scene and see that the people who showed up “got the message”.
The team wonder what “the message” is, but the kid - Bobby Joroslav Clark – isn’t sure. They ask who killed Strongoak, and he describes the assailant as “like an elf, but haughtier”, and says that the victim collapsed in apparent terror before he was shot through the neck – this triggers something in the back of Dandy’s mind, but he fails his memory check to recall the specifics (for now). The assailant apparently emerged from the same manhole the gangers went into and fled the scene in a boat. After a few more questions, the team lets Bobby go, but not before Shuffle gives him a commlink number and tells him there might be some money in it for him if he hears from this mystery employer and tells them about it.
Seeing no other line of investigation available to them at this point, the team kits up and prepares to enter the manhole to see what they find. Inside is a vending machine containing everything that one would need to survive, if at a squatter level (soybars, clean water, plastic clothes, etc.) as well as a hallway with three rooms. Behind door number one the team hears the sounds of a bliss/galak fueled good time, so they sneak past to the second door which Delphi uses her radar sensor to confirm is empty (and has a hidden compartment which piques her interest). Finding it unlocked, they enter to discover a recently-lived-in space whose astral space has been aspected towards violence and death. A flickering blub provides a suitably ominous mood lighting as the motion sensor (located in the aforementioned hidden compartment) detects their approach and the trid projector turns on.
A villainous pair of red eyes appear as a voice greets the team, congratulating them on making it this far and puzzling things out. The voice tells them that it hopes they had fun, that the money they were promised has been released, and that it has a message – that LA belongs to them, and that the streets will run red with blood. Evil laughter punctuates the end of the monologue as the projector shuts off, and everyone is suitably puzzled by this development. A quick search of the room turns up nothing else of note, but the voice makes Dandy finally remember what he was trying to recall earlier: his previous job in LA (see 50 Leagues Under the Waves for more info), which involved a vampire hiring them to ensure that a roughly metahuman-sized crate sank to the bottom of the sea.
Connecting the dots, Dandy doesn’t like what he learns and tells the team as such. They start to puzzle over what it could all mean when Shuffle heads out to the vending machine to buy a few soybars before proposing they just knock on one of the other doors and ask if they’re so curious about it – he already has his money and could care less. A quick radar scan confirms that the last room is occupied by one (armed) person, while there are 4 the other; they deduce the loan occupant is likely the boss of the little gang hideout and the most likely to know what happened in the room, so Shuffle gives a polite knock.
The boss evidently doesn’t like people knocking on his door unannounced, so he surprises the team with suppressing fire; Delphi and Shuffle hit the deck, while Dandy returns fire with a called shot and blasts the assault rifle out of the hands of the troll on the other side of the door. Shuffle stands and proposes a truce, but the troll tells them to frag off before he can pull a trick out of his hat. Delphi grows impatient with the brusqueness and the shooting at her, so she just comes right out and demands to know what happened, having put most of the pieces together by this point (that the victim was likely killed by a banshee, who shot him to hide that fact before leaving the scene), but still at a loss as to who and why.
The troll is having none of it, and at this point his ganger minions have emerged from their drug den to threaten the team and cut off their avenue retreat. He tells them again to leave before things get ugly. Delphi assenses him and manages to see through his masking, revealing that the troll is in fact infected; he lightbulb clicks in her head, and she tells him to have a nice day and that they’ll be leaving now. Asking the troll’s name before going, she just gets “Frag off, slitch-face” in response, and accepts that as the best an answer that they’re going to get.
Nothing much in the way of a denouement – the team was led around by their noses by a cunning villain and allowed to leave without a fuss once his point was made clear. Shuffle is relatively nonplussed and happy to have made some easy money, but both Dandy and Delphi are left shaken by the revelations and resolve separately to dig further into the matter of the powerful, unbalanced infected who knows who they are and where they live before it becomes more of a problem.
- 10,000 nuyen
- 3 karma
- 2 CDP
Shuffle: “Believe me, all elves are haughtier than you.”
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
Some jobs end with everything wrapped up with a nice little bow, and some jobs leave you with more questions than when you started; I live for the latter sort, and this gig did not disappoint in that regard. I’ve got to say, this new attention co-processor that I got installed is almost cheating – it makes picking up on little things that I might have otherwise missed before so much easier, and even gives me pings on the details I’m not paying attention to. Really came in handy with the murder investigation, same with the math SPU surprisingly enough; I guess I should probably learn about math now, and forensics too.
I still can’t puzzle out why this all happened. I mean, obviously that troll was totally nuts – maybe he was fragged up in the head before getting infected, or maybe that life made him that way, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter, not the least to the guy he had killed just to make a point to a bunch of strangers. Still, why pick us? Out-of-towners who had no stake in things, especially when he had those locals watching to make sure everything went smoothly. Maybe he wanted us to spread the word back to Seattle, but in that case why didn’t he give me his name when I asked for it? Curiouser and curiouser.
Why that Strongoak guy too? This thing had to be planned out way in advance from the look of things – they’d picked him out as a victim way before we were all contacted. Why harass him for weeks beforehand with metaracist messages, just to taunt him? Make him sweat a bit and think he was being stalked by Humanis or something so that his fear would taste better for the banshee that offed him? Poor guy… we just rolled him into the water, wasn’t much else to be done about it really. I couldn’t stand keeping the money, especially after his life savings was drained to pay us, so I sent it to those women he was seeing and whatever family I could find in his contact list. I hope that they don’t wonder about what happened to him – I would have told them, but I doubt knowing would provide any closure…