A Grown Up Fairy Tale

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A Grown Up Fairy Tale
Date2081-11-27
GMSarcarian
LocationLoveland, Puyallup, Seattle Metroplex
Status Threat Level: Medium
Factions Involved
ShadowHaven The Infected The Hunters
Charon
Kera
Santesso
Seven
Agamemnon
Ajax
Rose of Sharon Howlett
Casualties and losses
Kera “died” and was infected with HMHVV Strain I
This run featured Johnson betrayal and PVP - both were discussed out-of-character and agreed to by all players; additionally, one runner infected another with HMHVV with their mutual consent.


Summary

In which the runners are hired by to hunt down a loup-garou, and end up doing something completely different instead.

Background

About a year ago, Rose of Sharon Howlett was attacked by a loup-garou – she managed to survive but ended up as a carrier of HMHVV Strain II. Scarred by the experience by more ways than one and out for blood, she has spent the last year using all of her life savings, free time and skills learned working for Lone Star to track down the monster and get her revenge. Now she is sure she has it cornered, so she uses her shadow connections to hire runners that can help her put the loup-garou down for good.

Unbeknownst to anyone, the loup-garou is actually a friend of Agamemnon, who was away hunting when the rest of their comrades were killed (during the events of Does This Look Infected?, which Charon and Seven were both involved in); Agamemnon has managed to make a set up a pretty nice arrangement for himself for himself since then (see: The Lotus Flower Blooms Far From the Sun), and was quite surprised when his old friend showed up at his doorstep seeking asylum, as the time of monthly cycle was close at hand. Agamemnon turned him away, and he returned after attacking someone else, so the banshee reluctantly took him in and arranged for a street doc in his employ to begin the process of growing an Adrenaline Filter using specifications newly smuggled out of Asamando.

The Meet

Ms. Johnson has the runners meet with her at Silver Linings in Loveland, a bar which she is familiar with from her day job in law enforcement and was under the impression was mafia controlled; unbeknownst to her, it was recently taken over by the Ancients (see: Pressing the Attack), which ends up creating several pre-meet complications before the job officially begins. Seven (who, it should be noted, is blind) glitches on his edge roll while riding his Scoot to Puyallup and gets his front tire shot out by a member of the Spikes (drawn to the neighborhood by the influx of Ancients), who rides off laughing uproariously, and needs to be picked up by Santesso – this leaves Charon and Kera alone at the bar to get into trouble.

Charon shows up with a powerful thirst for essence and metahuman blood, so she looks around for a helpless victim – unfortunately she has little luck with that, so she ends up taking a risk by picking on the Ancient standing outside the bar smoking. Kera offers her assistance in exchange for being able to assense the scene of a vampire feeding (for science, of course – Seven, hearing this over DNI, considers projecting over to watch as well while Santesso speeds up to get back as fast as he can). Kera casts a stench spell on the Ancient which causes him to run into the nearby back ally to wretch before going to the bathroom and projecting out to watch things unfold; Charon manages to sneak up on the elf and avoid notice by both himself and the sensors on his bike (as well as those of his two friends who are drinking inside) and clinches the elf before biting him and starting to drain his essence.

Unfortunately, the vampire has chosen to pick on a wared-up ganger with friends instead of a helpless lone vagrant like her usual prey, and even under the penalty from the spell he puts up a good fight. Charon manages to snag a point of essence to munch on, but he makes a lot of noise in the process and it’s picked up by the bike sensors, alerting the other Ancients. Kera, observing things, peeks her head inside the bar and notices them become alert and begin to move out to the back to assist (she also sees Ms. J waiting patiently while having a drink, and notices that she’s a strain II carrier), so she returns to her body and DNI’s Charon to flee. The vampire does just that, dashing off into the night while the dazed ganger is helped to his feet by his fellows (they subsequently ride off to find their boss, who is currently sleeping off a long haul binge, and do not appear in this run again).

Charon goes to hide for a few minutes before circling back to her car and changing into her nice clothes before putting on some makeup to disguise herself a bit, using the stolen bit of elf soul to enhance her charisma and perform facing duties. About this time Santesso returns with Seven and his mangled Scoot, and the team meet up to talk with their employer together (with Kera warning them that she’s a carrier and not to make physical contact with her). The elf serving drinks wanders off to take a nap, and Ms. J gets right to the point – she has a monster for them to hunt, and will pay handsomely for their services. They are able to bargain her offer up a fair bit after learning that their target is a loup-garou, and all groan when she reveals it may very well be in its monthly rage cycle.

The Plan

After accepting the job, Ms. J shows the team a journal of her findings and shares her AR notes, which Santesso immediately begins incorporating into a detailed matrix search of social media and medical records in order to search for intel. A judge intentions roll reveals her zealous obsession with this hunt, and Kera is able to determine with 5 hits on her Police Procedures knowledge that their employer is likely with Lone Star like herself (though they work in different departments). The team looks at a map of Loveland and the sites of several recorded attacks, and decide to split up in order to look for clues.

Santesso remains in his van with Seven while the mage plans to astral project and go have a look at a nearby derelict building which their J believes may contain some ghouls that the loup-garou could be hiding out with. Meanwhile, she and Kera go to the site of the most recent attack to look at the astral space and see if they can find anything, though the latter is an experienced forensic investigator and is doubtful that those sorts of impressions will still be there. Charon has her own ideas and gets in her car to go visit Agamemnon of her own initiative (having previously had semi-friendly encounters with the banshee) in order to seek out more information (and to see if he still wants her dead).

The Run

On the matrix, Santesso is able to use the information given to him to narrow down his search considerably, using Mona Lisa to find out more about their J (including her real name and employment status), as well as the most some news reports and social media information on recent likely victims – most are dead (little more than mangled carcasses with characteristic markings) but one (a young elf) is evidently in hospice care (this lead is not followed up on however). He is able to use the description given to them by the J in order to find cybereye footage that was being live-streamed when another victim was attacked, providing them with a clear image of the loup-garou’s face. Printing it out, he shows it to Seven, who summons a beast spirit and has it use the search power to try and locate it.

Seven and his spirit go out scouting (thankfully they are not attacked by ghouls or werewolves or any other sort of monster while alone), while Kera and Ms. J take a walk down the street and to a back-ally street doc clinic where the attack evidently took place; they both peek on the astral (their employer is Aware, though not exceptionally experienced at assensing – this will be important later), but aren’t able to turn up much of use, so they start looking around for physical evidence or scraps of hair that may serve as a material link. Kera debates using her real law enforcement connections to attempt forensic necromancy on one of the victims, but as they’re likely with KE she does not follow up on this prospect.

While Charon drives to the Sleeping Sun mahjong parlor to speak with the banshee and Seven is slowly lead to the same place by his spirit (which struggles to find the loup-garou behind the ward shielding Agamemnon’s bolt hole), Kera and their employer are noticed by a camera outside the street doc’s clinic. The doctor (who works for Agamemnon), having just hours before been released from the tender mercies of the Laesa Syndicate with a big gap in his memory (see: There Goes the Neighborhood) is not amused to see the pair of them poking around and demands to know what their business is through a speaker. Kera declares they are there investigating the attack (which the doctor missed while away; however he knows it was the Loup-Garou he is growing bioware for and is non-too-happy about it), and when asked for proof she decides to present her actual legal SIN with forensic thaumaturgy licence (with the J taking note of her real name and employment affiliation).

The street doc says nothing in response, but Kera chances a quick peek on the matrix and notices that there are data trails indicating that the doc (the only icon inside) is making a commcall. This information is relayed to Santesso, who uses his new deck to watchdog a mark onto the link and start snooping on the conversation, feeding it to the rest of the team (minus Seven, still on the astral). They hear the doc talking frantically to a low, whispering voice about the people nosing around, and after Santesso cleans up the static with electronic warfare, Charon is able to recognize Agamemnon on the other end; she groans, taking control of her car from grid-guide and speeding along on he way to his hideout.

At the Sleeping Sun, Charon strides past the door guard (who allows her to pass, having literally had the piss scared out of him by her last time they met) and asks the bartender to see her boss, pointing at the bookcase which she knows from the last time she was here hides a secret elevator. One surreptitiously cast illusion later and Charon passes through the secret door without anyone the wiser, fearlessly entering a UV lighting-equipped mantrap and taking the elevator down through a ward and into a faraday caged room which cuts her off from communication with the others for several minutes. The vampire and the banshee have a private chat, during which the latter reveals that he is sheltering the loup-garou (who is on dopadrine patches and restrained to keep him from harming anyone) and their affiliation with one-another. Charon is moved to sympathy with her fellow infected, and plots with Agamemnon to spare his friend’s life by tricking her Johnson (and potentially the rest of the team) into believing that their target is dead, or failing that that they have lost the trail and it has gone elsewhere.

Leaving the faraday cage and returning to the surface to find her fellow runners deeply suspicious of exactly what happened while she was down there, Charon lies her ass off and tells the team that Agamemnon was able to tell her some useful information – the site of a fresh attack that happened just hours ago which may have the trace they need to track the loup-garou down. She is able to convince Seven – who has met Agamemnon before, and in fact slew his partner – that the loup-garou was with him but was sent away (his spirit having difficulty confirm that due to the astral protection that the target hides behind), and that it is likely back in the ghoul’s nest near the site of the recent attack, so she tells him and Santesso that they should go scout that out while she and Kera take their J to the site itself. Before leaving the parlor to meet up, she remembers Agamemnon mentioning having access to laes for his feeding habits, so she goes to the bartender and manages to negotiate to buy a bottle of lael wine.

Santesso, intensely suspicious of what’s going on, has one of his drones shadow the three from the air while he and the now-materialized Seven speculate over their mutual distrust of Charon’s intentions; for his part, Seven is curious what happened and why Charon would trust the banshee they were hired to murder and not think she’s being lead into some sort of trap for revenge. While the two commiserate and head out on their wild goose chase, less than a block away at an old rail switching station Charon leads Ms. J and Kera to the site of her planned ambush. She bluffs Ms. J rather well thanks to her unnaturally-boosted charisma from earlier (as well as the power of edge), convincing her to stay outside while the two of them investigate inside a utilities shack where the body is hidden away to make sure the loup-garou isn’t hiding around. Santesso’s drone sees and records this from above, and when the two go inside it uses a laser microphone to listen in on their private chat through a window.

Inside, Charon comes clean to Kera in hushed tones, telling her of the talk with Agamemnon and how the loup-garou has a chance to live a semi-normal life; she knows that Ms. J will never give up however, and needs Kera to help throw her off the trail. The two debate going through with this, with Kera not totally opposed to helping the infected (as her earlier actions indicated), and Charon says that she would “owe her one” – however she also does not wish to betray a co-worker, especially one who knows her real name. Charon reveals the lael wine and her plan to knock their employer out and fake a loup-garou attack with accompanying short-term amnesia after “hitting her head”, and Kera is visibly conflicted.

Santesso and Seven, overhearing this, gun it towards the site of the planned ambush and begin berating their teammates over DNI, though they keep Ms. J out of the loop while they discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of this course of action. Charon says that they should still be able to get paid at least part of their reward and may be able to fenagle more out of Agamemnon for the assistance, but Seven is not very convinced and Santesso is against it on professional grounds but is torn morality-wise. Kera comes to her decision, casting a force 12 cold spell on Charon which does a grand total of 1 damage and knocks her out with physical drain. Sensing the spell being cast, Ms. J asks what’s going on, so Charon bluffs her by saying that the loup-garou is inside and she rushes in just as the others arrive in Santesso’s vehicle.

Sensing that it’s too late, Santesso fires a neurostun X grenade into the door behind the J, planning to sort things out after everyone is knocked out. Charon wins out on the surprise check, beating her opponent on initiative and knocking her to the ground with a punch right to the ballistic mask which cracks the faceplate. Seven projects in and just gives Charon a disappointed look before attacking the J (who is astrally perceiving to try to find her duel-natured quarry), knocking her out with the flat of his weapon focus sword. Charon kicks Santesso’s gas grenade outside before it can go off, so he aborts the wireless trigger and just sighs to himself, retrieving the expensive device while things escalate further.

Charon pours lael down their J’s throat and ensures that she doesn’t die from the overflowing stun damage before going over to investigate Kera’s prone form. Deciding that she still “owes her one”, Charon proceeds to pay back the favor for Kera’s assistance by slap-patching her awake before giving her the gift of HMHVV strain I infection. Biting her on the neck, she proceeds to drain the mage’s soul while Seven looks on, half in horror and half in fascination; Santesso gets ready to peal out, not happy about the betrayal but willing to lie about it to help the team, so Seven returns to his prone form and recovers Kera’s body before they leave Charon alone with the knocked-out and memory-wiped Johnson.

Aftermath

When she wakes up, Charon uses her enhanced charisma and lifetime of experience in bullshitting people to convince her employer that she was attacked by the loup-garou, which heavily injured Kera – they drove it off, the rest of the team is taking Kera to get medical care, and she hit her head in the process. Rose of Sharon is highly suspicious, but upon hearing that she may have inadvertently gotten someone else infected Charon is able to twist the knife enough to guilt her into accepting the account as the truth; she is so disappointed in herself that she hands over part of the promised payment in exchange for false information on where her quarry has gone to next, and offers an emotional apology for getting them dragged into her mess. Charon just softly curses, knowing she won’t give up that easy.

Meanwhile Santesso washes his hands of the whole affair after sending off some doctored footage from his drones which corroborates Charon's story, and is quite happy when he receives his payment after dropping off Seven, who promises to take care of Kera… and by “take care of”, he of course means take her back to his lodge in order to observe the process of vampirization first-hand. Runners do be like that sometimes.

Rewards

  • 8,000 nuyen
  • 8 karma
  • 2 CDP
  • Optional Contact: Rose of Sharon Howlett – C2/L2 Occult Bounty Hunter
  • Optional Contact (for Charon only): Agamemnon – C3/L3 Infected Crime Lord

Game Quotes

Player After Action Reports (AARs)

Seven

Start Recording. As I record this, I am preparing my focus chamber for an extended jaunt into the collective mind of metahumanity. Kera is infected and turning as I speak. Why Charon decided to turn her, I have no idea, but at least I stand to benefit from attending to her while the she undergoes this process. It's not every day that one gets to visit the realm of death and darkness, so I intend to make use of the opportunity...

New Line. Once I'm done here tonight, I think I'll buy an actual car, then go find that trog who blew my tire. I woulda taken care of him then and there if I weren't on the clock, but once I've got some free time, I may as well search him out, see how he enjoys my Wrath...

New Line. I am severely disappointed at Charon. I had misjudged her to be a consummate professional in our previous work together, but it seems she has more sentimentality than I initially realized. For a loup garou she doesn't even know, she jeopardized the run and our reputations. Good grief. And even though her plan went off, who knows how long until that wolfman kills again? There's no guarantee that the bioware will fix the issue. Suppose we'll see soon enough, and if it becomes a problem, I'll have to help fix it...

New Line. In the end, we got paid, though only a bit more than half what we would've gotten had we finished the job. It's enough for rent, I suppose. Sigh At any rate, time to see what Kara's seeing. End Recording.

Charon

I saved that stupid fucking banshee's life and this is what I get, another time of him getting in the crossfire. I know it's out of his control, but holy fuck he's got bad luck. Unfortunately, I might just start feeling bad for him at this rate. I couldn't give less of a shit about that furry fuck beside him, but he did prove to be good leverage for me to get him on my side. Now, I've got my foot in the door with someone that actually works with me. At this rate, I should be able to get on amicable terms with Agamemnon, no matter how much he hates me.

Better him than the alternatives. Bunch of S-K corporate brats that probably suck Dad off every Friday or ghoul-driven gangsters pretending to mean something. I can't trust the big triple-A's or gangers. This guy, though... he is someone I might be able to help rise into power. Syndicate, maybe, some kinda networked puppetmaster? Who knows, but I know where he comes from. I know his square one. I'll know every step of the way from here on out. He can help me out with my quarry, so why shouldn't I help him out with his while I'm at it?

...well. That's the logical explanation, anyway. If that was it, I'd feel outright grateful for how this went down.

But it's not all there is to it. I couldn't stop my emotions from getting the best of me.

I've stopped feeling bad about everything I've done. I think I stopped somewhere around my seventies, I finally started to just accept where this shithole of a world's going. Fuck it, everyone's garbage and I'm going to Hell with 'em. Fine. But then this guy shows up, naive as all hell and thinking he can trust a complete stranger walking through the front door. He should've died. In every other case, idiots like him have died within a week, but here he is, alive and kicking. Well. Undead and kicking, you get what I mean. If he really can afford to have trust and he'll make it for any period of time... maybe there's more than revenge to look forward to in my immortality. I'm starting to make real progress for the first time in decades. I'm not just consolidating my investments and gaining trust, I'm moving forward with a good foundation. They know I'm coming for them. My teeth are closing in on every single one of their fucking necks and I know they can sense it. It'll feel good. Oh, it will feel good... but I have to start thinking about what comes after, and if it turns out my gut feeling is wrong here, I won't have any reason to keep trucking once the last domino falls.

But if it is... if this little guinea pig of a banshee manages to prove a hundred years of experience wrong all by himself... maybe I do have some mileage left in front of me. I'll have to wait and see -- good thing I've learned to be patient.