It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
|It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year|
C-Unit 537 - Hunter
The Pumpkin King|
Half-trained Hell Hound
|Casualties and losses|
|Weiners x7, Half-trained Hell Hound x1|
In which the runners are hired to protect a neighborhood full of civilians on Halloween night.
The Halloweeners are doing their usual thing (making everyone around them miserable), and some Concerned Citizens have had enough. Luckily for them they thought ahead, and enough money has been set aside for this sort of thing to hire some professionals to handle the problem – they don’t want to hire rival gangers who will end up turning the neighborhood into a war zone, so they go to the Haven instead seeking potential hooders to lend a hand.
The team are contacted by their Johnson and asked to meet up at a dive bar on the edge of Touristville at their earliest convenience. Everyone just so happens to live in the immediate area, and all manage to arrive within half an hour (with everyone except for Hunter dressed in full costume, though plenty of people complement him on “killing it with the Solid Snake look”). Spook-E is, of course, dressed as a samurai, while King Beef is dressed as Johnny Spinrad (with human-sized clothing on the hulking minotaur form) and Captain Freefall dressed in a Stuffer Shack-purchased Captain Freefall costume (and absolutely nailing it with 1 hit on disguise).
Arriving at the bar around the same time (with one of the minotaurs riding bicycle and the other on a scoot, the spitting image of professional criminals), the group are almost immediately pegged as shadowrunners and waved over to the J’s table. Their prospective employer – a perfectly ordinary-looking human in a cheep suit – is obviously anxious and out of his depth, so Captain Freefall takes the lead with his Mild-Mannered Reporter act, asking polite probing questions about the job. The J fills them in on the details, showing them an RFID tag with an ARO of a jack-o-lantern and explaining that someone has been leaving them on doorsteps in his neighborhood for the past few nights, which obviously has everyone freaked out. He wants the runners to fend off the incoming attack and to prevent as much damage as possible.
Captain Freefall, acting as the team face, is prepared to accept the job (FOR JUSTICE!) without any further questions, however Hunter wisely brings up the matter of payment, voicing the concern that the Halloweeners, despite their mad-cap image and reputation, are no joke and that what they’re asking might merit hazard pay. The J offers 8000 nuyen each, but it doesn’t take a very good Judge Intentions roll to tell that he’s both nervous and has a bit more cash in reserve, so Spook-E presses and manages to squeeze another 2000 each out of him. Sealing the deal, he gives them location of the neighborhood in question (which just happens to be where Spook-E’s medium lifestyle is located) and tells them that they have a few hours to prepare before sunset.
What, you thought there was a plan here? It’s a Weiner Roast chummer.
There is a bit of an interlude before the action begins to build up the proper atmospheric tension. The team takes up position in the neighborhood with King Beef and Spook-E patrolling the streets at ground level while Captain Freefall and Hunter take up elevated positions (the former to brood Batman-style on the rooftops before commencing super-heroics, the latter to find a proper sniper’s nest). Hunter’s keen eyes and motion sensors spot some movement behind the house he’s camped out on top of, noticing some anonymous barrens rat (who was paid by the Halloweeners to plant the tags and a few other surprises) hiding a cloth-wrapped package. He elects not to delete the poor soul from existence with his rifle and instead lets him slip away, directing King Beef and Spook-E to inspect the package.
Heedless of the potential bomb, they do so, finding that it instead contains a bunch of scrap electronics parts that have all been hooked up together for some (presumably nefarious) reason. No one in the group is particularly tech-savvy, but they manage to put together from the large obvious speakers and the connected power source that its intended to broadcast sound (though there are other components – which make up an area jammer – that they can’t identify). Smashing the device to smithereens, the team uses their last minutes of daylight to canvas the neighborhood, using radio signal scanners to locate 2 more similar devices as well as actual explosives in the form of a car bomb with a wireless trigger set to detonate (which Captain Freefall removes before dumping it into a nearby manhole and standing on it while it explodes).
Concerned about this development, Hunter soon finds something else to be worried about – while assensing the general area he finds a lingering aura with some particularly bad mojo to it. Recalling his training from years ago, he deduces that it is likely from some sort of shadow spirit, making the rest of the team quite nervous about what they might potentially be up against.
As the sun sets and the team contemplates what to do next and how best to prepare for the upcoming fight, another (undetected) car bomb suddenly explodes as loud bombastic theme music starts to play from the remaining devices and the neighborhood is blanketed in static from the area jammers in order to prevent attempts to calls for help. The ambush begins all at once as pair of fire spirits begin manifesting near the most flammable things they can find while half a dozen Halloweeners converge from all directions, throwing Molotov cocktails and spraying flamethrowers all over the place. Watching it all from the astral is a projecting mage with the incredibly unoriginal sobriquet of “The Pumpkin King” (complete with Jack Skeleington-esque astral form) – however only Hunter can spot this last threat, which he identifies to the others over their barely-stable DNI conversation (they took out enough jammers and have a good enough commlink running their PAN that they don’t lose communications, however static remains an issue throughout the ensuing combat).
Hunter opens things up with a “warning shot” (i.e. rolling 2 hits) of stick-and-shock at the nearest Halloweener before King Beef charges at another, crackling with electricity thanks to Elemental Body, and proceeds to vaporize him with a single punch. Captain Freefall leaps into action, activating his super-powers and lighting up the astral like some sort of Astral Beacon or something before pulling off his signature move and crashing to street level, leaving a nicely-shaped crater in the road. He proceeds to begin monologuing at the mage, calling him out for his disgraceful and cowardly behavior and baiting him into materializing; at the same time, the palpable aura of JUSTICE and the sincerity of the heroics starts to inspire the citizens cowering in their homes, with the effect of slightly elevating the local background count and removing some of the pervasive feeling of terror from the neighborhood.
Spook-E is attacked by a half-trained hell hound that can’t manage to bite through her jacket while its master tosses a Molotov cocktail at her house, driving her into a rage; she quick-draws her katana anime-style, drawing first blood from the canine foe. Meanwhile King Beef attempts to intimidate another of the gangers into just giving up and running, getting a high-ex grenade tossed at his feet for his trouble – he just chuckles, picking it up and putting it in his pocket before going over to give the thrower a big hug. The crackling electricity sets off the 10 Molotov cocktails that the guy was carrying, and he bursts into a glorious fireball like a phoenix; naturally, the former boxing champion is barely singed by this, and he is utterly unperturbed when he subsequently catches on fire, live grenade still in his pocket.
Hunter’s sniper perch is identified from the air and he subsequently has several bottles of flammable liquid thrown in his general direction – he runs for his life and manages not to be set aflame before quickly switching to ADPS and attempting to delete one of the fire spirits. Unfortunately his aim is off, and the flames surge towards and attempt unsuccessfully to engulf him while King Beef proceeds to punch the other fire spirit back where it came from.
A very brave/very stupid weiner charges Captain Freefall with a sword, which he proceeds to block via fist bump. Realizing that he’s dealing with an honest-to-ghost monologuing super-villain, he decides to send out the Justice Signal to the rest of the City Watch – he’s standing in a relatively low-static area since the team took out some of the area jammers, which combined with his not-crappy commlink allows the signal to go out. With the battle already well under-way the backup won’t show up until things are over, but it does ensure that several water spirits are sent to deal with the fires. The surge of hopeful optimism does have a secondary effect though – it finishes nullifying the negative BCG, denying the enemy mage an advantage and bolstering their own resolve (as well as, unbeknownst to the team, making the area inhospitable for the nightmare spirit which was following in the Halloweener’s wake).
Hunter manages to take out the remaining fire spirit with a burst of ADPS fire, but it leaves him unable to attempt to reflect the projecting mages manabolt, which strikes Captain Freefall square in the chest and actually manages to cause him a bit of harm (the villain, naturally, cackles in delight at this). Spook-E says frag it to the hell hound and charges at its master, avoiding an intercept attack and managing to slice clean through his shield to slash his face. King Beef atomizes another weiner with his Electric Punch, however between the fire damage, the high-ex grenade going off in his pocket, the drain from his adept powers, and all the flamethrowers being targeted at him, he finally goes down.
The mage overcasts another mana bolt at Captain Freefall, however this time Hunter is able to reflect it right back at him, causing some serious damage that prompts him to make a retreat; healing himself, the mage proceeds to watch the rest of the fight from half a mile in the air as the team mop up his remaining mooks. Spook-E dispatches the houndmaster while Hunter deletes the hell hound and the gangers spraying the prone King Beef with flamethrowers. Captain Freefall attempts to talk down one of them, however the baleful gaze of a vengeful mage is upon him and he decides to go out in a blaze of glory, charging at the hero with a high-ex grenade in hand - naturally the minotaur is completely unaffected by this, and it does nothing except send him to Valhalla as a cloud of red mist. With all the mooks down, the mage calls out a final series of taunts to the heroes before fleeing into the night (perhaps to be pursued by the City Watch in a follow-up adventure).
The Halloweeners managed to set a surprising portion of the neighborhood on fire within approximately six and a half seconds of combat, however the damage would have certainly been much worse if the runners weren’t there to stop them – or to call in the water spirit backup which arrives within a minute or so and starts putting out the flames. The citizenry is happy that the day was saved, and many autographs are signed by the heroes after they receive their payment for a job well done.
Captain Freefall has his medical drone give treatment to King Beef and the rest of the wounded, and after editing the footage from his journalism drone (anonymizing it to protect the identities of the other runners) he sends it off to KSAF. This combined with the publicity from involving the (Horizon-sponsored) City Watch earns the team a boost to their reputations.
+1 City Watch rep
+1 Street Cred