Cogs and Wheels
|Cogs and Wheels|
|The City of Denver||Ex-Firewatch Assault Units|
Captain Madeline Palermo contracted a team of runners to investigate the disappearance of her former comrades and attempt a rescue mission. The team is soon ensnared in the power plays of forces far greater than they could have imagined.
Captain Palermo learned that a squad of Firewatch soldiers were dispatched to scout out Ghostwalker and his domain, only to go missing, sending out a panicked distress message. Fearing for her former allies, she gathered together a team of runners to find out what happened to them and hopefully rescue them. Her intel being near non-existent, and Ghostwalker's control so absolute, she knew the odds were low, but she would not abandon them.
The four initial runners, Rabbit, Swerve, Potato, and Barracuda, head to Renton without incident for the meet in the dead of night. Captain Palermo gives them a straightforward briefing of the situation, telling them of the disappearance of the soldiers. The only knowledge that they had of their location, was that they had sent out a distress signal from the Dayton Triangle, in Denver, several days ago. After a general acceptance of a budget of 30k nuyen for each runner, she moved forward into greater detail. She played the distress message, a harrowing audio falling of the Firewatch members screaming for extraction and aid. Rabbit listening closely, noticed something disturbing. There were less people in the recording than it seemed. The soldiers seemed to be changing their voices and tones, screaming as if they were different people.
Cpt. Palermo described a smuggling network that she was in contact with that could likely get them to Denver, for a price. While she wasn't sure of their charges exactly, she said the provided budget would likely cover it, and if it didn't she would provide a small reward on top of it. The team accepted her teams, and began planning.
Talking among themselves, the Runners first focused on smuggling plan. While they were provided a contact for transit, their frugal instincts came to the front, and they thought hard to save money. Discussing various ideas such as using a submarine boat, just driving down there, and even organleggers briefly. While the discussion continued, Barracuda called one of his fixer's, Agamemnon, asking for info on smuggling routes. He was surprisingly helpful and pointed Barracuda towards elvish smugglers of the Salish Sidhe Council. All he asked in return was they he kept his eyes open for spirit formulas in Denver. As Barracuda hung up, he received a less pleasant call from Asahiro Kunitoshi. Asahiro instructed Barracuda that he was going to get him secret information on Ghostwalker's operations. Graciously, he mentioned that he would provide transport out of Denver if Barracuda succeeded. Barracuda wasn't given much of a choice in this.
Sharing all this information with the team, they decided to look into the possibility of using smugglers to enter Denver. Rabbit contacted one of his fixers to arrange a meeting to negotiate terms. Swerve and Rabbit visited them, and used their general elfiness and knowledge of Sperethiel to both get a decent deal and assuage their concerns about smuggling dirty non-elves. With a relatively cheap cost of 7k each for a round trip, the team had secured a way to get their gear to Denver.
The runners loaded into two vehicles, carrying the limited amounts of supplies the smugglers would allow, and began to head south to Denver. The drive was during the daytime, so the banshee's had a quite unpleasant trip ahead of them. Rabbit dodged this by hot-siming into the matrix and doing knowledge searches. Swerve had no such option though, so she settled for mildly roasting and making awkward small talk with Barracuda. Rabbit's searches revealed some important knowledge. Her first attempt revealed a picture taken of a figure that recently went on a killing spree. Heavily armored, with treads instead of legs and bristling with weapons, they appeared more man than machine. The augmentations were to such an extent, that the ware had to be of a high grade and even then their essence would be near depleted. Likely, this was a member of the Ares Firewatch team, perhaps some heavy assault soldier.
Eventually, the runners arrive in Denver and reunited. Needing to head to another part of the city, they bought burner sins and arranged to rent a car. Under the name Shad O'Runner, Rabbit called a car to their location. Looking over it, she found 2 cameras, 2 microphones and 3 tracking devices, as Denver is a dragon led police state. Rabbit hacked the car and removed a physical tracker, eventually clearing the vehicle of all the devices and allowing them the ability to head to the murder site.
Heading to a crossroads in the Dayton Triangle, the team began their investigations to find the missing soldiers. Potato and Barracuda exited the car and began to snoop around the area, also knocking on doors to question residents. After being warned off by shotgun, the pair stopped their attempts at communications, but they did managed to find a trail heading to the north away from the crime scene. They followed it for a ways, but neither were skilled trackers, and the trail was soon lost. Meanwhile, Rabbit and Swerve noticed a watcher spirit spying on them. They left it be, but notified the team.
With not much else to do, Swerve summoned a spirit to search for the missing person. Waiting around a bit, the spirit returned with news of failure. At a bit of a loss, they were saved by the arrival of Delphi. Delphi, straight off another run in Denver, beaten down by the fists of mystic adepts and the pain of existence, got forced into another run by Hanako Shinoda, who seemed to be working in tandem with Asahiro. Heading over to the team, she got briefed on the situation, not particularly enjoying her presence or the details of the job. Taking charge, she went to the edge of the trail and used psychometry to find the path. Experiencing the trauma of a person beset by identity disorders and incredible torment, it was a highly traumatic experience, but ultimately effective and she discovered where the soldier went. Hearing sirens back by the crossroads, the team decided to drive across town to the new location.
Considerably closer now to the target, Swerve attempted again to locate the target via spirit. As the spirit left, the team wait patiently until a visitor approached. To their alarm, a powerful spirit appeared, Force 10, watching only to disappear. Delphi, getting a good look at it, noticed that it had a strange quality to it. She discovered that it was summoned by a metasapient of some sort. Given the location, the team began panicking about dragons. Getting ready to leave, and hearing sirens in the distance, the air spirit actually returned with good news. It found where the soldier went. Following the spirit, they drove fast and hard, and the low quality car broke down outside the target location, stranding them there. Needing to head towards a garage, the team calls the smuggling team to relocate near them, so hopefully they'd be able to run before the police caught up with them.
Heading towards the descending ramp, the team encountered a mana barrier. While of large force, it did not seem that out of the ordinary at first. However, when Delphi inspected closely, she realized that it was created by a member of the draconic tradition. Despite the unease this caused, the cops were closing in, so they needed to push forward. Heading through the barrier, the reached a room containing three of the missing Firewatch soldiers, as well an unknown woman. The woman, with horns on her head and a confident demeanor, approached forward. She questions the team on their purpose for following the soldier to her domain. As the team relayed her mission to her, she decided to enlighten them to the situation they blundered their way into.
The woman, Lamashtu, is a drake and adept of considerable power, previously under the command of Ghostwalker, but now cursed and hunted by him. Lamashtu was in charge of a secret prison of Ghostwalker, a place where he stored irritants that he didn't feel like eating, but wanted locked away. The missing Firewatch team had been transported there, and been subjected to experiments to build them into an optimal weapon for Ghostwalker's army. They were subjected to a modified treatment of CFD, as they attempted to replace the soldier's personalities with that of spirits. The process, while still highly experimental, seemed frighteningly effective, with the aftermath showing a 94% match with the implanted spirit. Lamashtu, having recently uncovered things that she shouldn't have, realized she had to escape Ghostwalker before he took her head. Lamashtu brought with her the few soldiers left that had a fragment of their being, using them as weapons to help her escape. The runners, in her proximity and knowing these secrets, were now effectively tied to her fate, not only having to dodge the law, but Ghostwalker himself.
Trying to find a way to get of this, with the smugglers likely being unable to move the tank-like cyber-soldiers, Barracuda reveals his connection to Shiawase, offering a way to get Lamashtu out of here. She reacts negatively, insinuating that the megacorps are merely puppets of the Great Dragons and that would simply be a different path to death. The team manages to convince her of an alternate way. By providing information on Ghostwalker, that would allow Barracuda to call in Shiawase support to get them out of Denver. By keeping the Drake out of mention, she could simply slip away after. Considering this, she decides to accept, not particularly seeing a better way out of her problem.
While the drake begins to close down her operations and starts to build a dossier for Barracuda to send, she instructs the team to create a distraction. Something has to be done to draw others eyes away from them, to even have a chance of getting away. Potato, being a demolitions expert, had the perfect idea for the job. She, aided by Rabbit, placed explosives charges at two locations in the city. Using radio detonators, they put bombs in an abandoned gas station and a water tower, places that would hopefully cause chaos, but not widespread death.
Afterwards, with an encrypted data chip in hand, Barracuda called Asahiro, telling him of the completed objective. Asahiro promised the support he had offered and told him that a helicopter, a cargo bird large enough to carry the soldier, was enroute to their location. While the runners were glad that things were coming together, the Drake considered this new information and realized a few problems. Simply boarding a helicopter and flying away would not be enough. Ghostwalker would almost certainly tear them out of the sky. Without a better plan, they would all die. With the extraction team approaching and the wrath of Ghostwalker weighing down, things started to get a bit tense.
The team, slightly panicked, began to think of various plans, arguing amongst each as to the best possibility. Delphi, having oracular abilities, decided to look towards the future, trying to find a way to survive. In a trance, she saw vision of possible fates, some perhaps acceptable, others worse, such as Ghostwalker exploding the team and eating the drake. Not particularly helpful, Delphi started arguing with Oracle, with Lamashtu looking on amused. Oracle eventually, after Delphi shouted at him for a bit, actually did something helpful to everyone's shock. He gave a plan that hadn't been mentioned yet. He proposed that Lamashtu walk over to the smugglers and travel away with them, that the team loaded into the helicopters, and that various vehicles around the garage be rigged to use as a decoy caravan. With little time left, the team decided to move forward with this.
Satisfied that the team could move the soldiers, Lamashtu left the compound, heading to her own extraction point. Meanwhile, the runners slowly moved the incredibly heavy tank-tread cyber soldiers to the locations that the helicopter would arrive in, frantically ignoring the sounds of alarm all around the city. Somehow they managed to make it over without being spotted, and they saw a cargo helicopter approaching low under the level of Radar. Yelled at in frantic Japanese, the team moved the soldiers in and boarded the helicopter. As it the helicopter rose and the team strapped in, things seemed up... until the viewing screen turned on. In the distance, Ghostwalker rose over the skyline.
The massive dragon rose, hunting for his drake. To the team's horror, he was headed almost directly towards them. In their hurry, they forgot to send the smugglers to pick up Lamashtu at a different location. As a result, all three of the convoys were clustered in the same location. Ghostwalker barely had to try to find them and the team saw death approaching. As the Great Dragon approached, the team called on all their luck, and somehow they survived. Instead of blowing them out of the sky, Ghostwalker decided to destroy the decoy caravan. Whether this was a truly "mistake", or just a greater play in a game unrecognizable is unknowable, but for now, the runners live to see another day.
The helicopter took a long and circuitous route back to Seattle in the hope to avoid any tails. About fourteen hours later, the runners landed and handed off their finds to Asahiro and Cpt. Palermo. Both were quite pleased in the runner's work, and Cpt. Palermo offered a small bonus. As things seemed to wind down, each of the runners received a message on their commlinks. Initially confused, it soon became clear. Lamashtu lived. Offering her contact information and further collaboration, each runner had to decide for themselves the paths they were willing to take.
- 24000 Nuyen; May buy Ares Redline, Ares Lancer or Ares Armatus as well as Peak Discharge Clip or Battery Satchel Packs at gear rates
- 4 Karma
- For Everyone but Delphi: +1 Public Awareness
- For Delphi: +1 Loyalty, +1 Chip
- For Barracuda: +1 Loyalty, +1 Chip
- Optional Contact: Captain Madeline Palermo, 5/1 Black Market Armorer
- Optional Contact: Lamashtu, 6/1 Prison Guard Drake
- 2 CDP
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
The longer I get away from this, the more I realize how crazy it actually was. In the moment, I was kind of able to ignore what was happening, the sheer danger we were in. But now... I saw Ghostwalker! I still don't even know how I should feel about all this. I feel like this might come to haunt us in the future, but I don't really think I can do anything to stop it. I think I just need to get in the best position that I can be, to be the most prepared and able, so that when things finally fall apart I will still have allies. I took Lamashtu's offer for this reason. I know many people say to never deal with a dragon, but I think we're past that point. Keeping my head in the sand won't help. I'd rather be involved and connected, at least making an attempt to be valuable. Maybe then I'll get through this.