Might Have A Problem
|Might Have A Problem|
Flesh-Form Mite Spirit|
True-Form Mite Spirit
Toxic Insect Shaman
|Casualties and losses|
|Flesh-Form Mite Spirit x5, True-Form Mite Spirit|
In which the runners track down and capture a juvenile insect shaman in Tarislar.
A few weeks ago, a young girl in Tarislar named Ashryn Sylkrana ran away from home after her mother died of an illness and took shelter in a playground located on top of a toxic dump site. There, an outcast among outcasts, she Awakened and was approached by an insect mentor spirit, who offered her a new family if only she would let them through into the world. Since then she has been spreading the infestation of mite spirits, who have been parasitizing the residents of Tarislar and causing an epidemic of disease. Deireadh An Tuartheil is overwhelmed with patients, and the Laesa Syndicate is looking into the source of the problem as it's becoming bad for business - Argent has been tasked with finding people to put a stop to it by any means necessary.
Argent has the runners meet with him at the bar where he conducts business - Delphi, who lives close by, shows up first to share a few drinks while waiting for the others to arrive, and everyone manages to make it to the south end of the Metroplex without much trouble. Argent explains the problem when the team arrives, that people in the neighborhood are getting sick, that there's something clearly unnatural about it (given the anomalous spread and effects), and that he needs the problem solved as soon as possible. The team ask a few questions to find out more information, but he's mostly as in the dark as them on the matter - all he knows is that his people are at risk and his organization's profits are taking a hit, so he's putting some of the cash he's made off of runners working for him towards fixing the problem before it becomes more of an issue than it already is.
Not having too much to go on, the team go to Deireadh An Tuartheil to investigate. Delphi, who has Dr. Isabel Wirth as a contact, speaks to the ER attendant with Relay while Pell volunteers her magical healing services to help with the triage patients. Dr. Wirth shows them a patient who has been bitten by some sort of mite, instantly setting off Relay's bug spirit detector - he puts the microscope function on one of his robo-eyes to work to take a closer look at the creature while Delphi uses her quicksilver camera to take an astral photograph of it, confirming that it's magic. She is also able to tell that the afflicted have been essence drained.
Heading to the roof with 00 and Tora, Delphi calls Informer for a chat to see what he knows about the mystery; the colour bleaches out of everything as the noir monologue begins, and the two of them have a smoke-filled conversation about the matter at hand while Tora geeks out about the spirit and complements their aesthetic. Informer tells the runners that he's this infection before, and that they are indeed bug spirits; Relay utters a triumphant "I KNEW IT" while everyone else groans internally. Delphi thanks Informer for the tip and heads back to her lodge to perform a divination on the aura of the summoner while everyone kits up for extermination.
Gazing into the crystal ball, Delphi sees Ashryn and has a vision of what happened to her, how she was almost immediately toxic because of the circumstances of her Awakening and was subsequently approached by a bug mentor because of her extreme susceptibility to their offer; since then she has been summoning mite spirits nearly constantly, which have been parasitizing the local residents. Alarmed that the team might be walking into a situation where they have to kill a child, she quickly begins to work on an alternate solution; making a visualization of the girl's face and doing a reverse search with Mona Lisa software, she determines her identity and that she has living relatives still in Tarislar, giving an opening to possibly appeal to her remaining humanity.
Relay drops into VR and compiles the data of all the known attacks together with what he could pull of the matrix, using his math SPU and knowledge of game theory and statistics to narrow down the apparently-random pattern of attacks to a specific part of Tarislar, which Delphi is able to use her both her knowledge as a resident and what she saw in the vision to confirm that it's the abandoned park where Ashryn is squatting. Delphi returns with a mage mask and mage cuffs, revealing that the bug shaman is a child and pleading that they make every effort to take them alive in order to turn them over to the Dunkelzhan Institute of Magical Research, which receives a mixed reception at best. 00 and Relay, having run into bugs before, view them as an existential threat that must be exterminated at any cost, while Pell and Tora are more open to non-lethal solutions; in the end, they all agree that they will do everything they can to take Ashryn alive, and put her down if she ends up putting any other innocents at risk.
Having reconvened in Relay's vehicle with weapons, drones and plenty of insecticide, the team prepares to head into bug country. En-route, they encounter a dead dog in the road which most of the team pointedly avoids looking too closely at - a quick peak on the astral by Pell however reveals a true-form mite spirit on the astral which quickly enters the car. Delphi and Pell work together to kill it via astral combat, though it's a close call and Relay ends up with some blood and vomit on the floor of his truck, to his consernation. A block or so later they encounter a flock of infested crows which begin dive-bombing the vehicle, forcing 00 and Tora to take them out with bullets while Pell tosses lighting balls and Relay skillfully avoids having his truck covered with bird and bug guts.
Arriving at the park, Delphi and Pell (the only elves and Sperethiel speakers in the group) approach on foot (doing their best to not be grossed out by the tainted background count) while the others wait nearby ready to engage if things take a turn for the worst. The two of them beckon Ashryn out by speaking Sperethiel and claiming to have been sent to look for her by her aunt; they are able to lure her out of her hiding place, getting her to let down her guard and trust them. Leading her back to the truck and claiming they're going to take her home, they are able to convince her not to freak out long enough to get the magecuffs and magemask on her, and Relay peels out and drives as fast as possible away from the playground before bugs can come to her defense.
Having captured and subdued the juvenile shaman, the team high-tail it out of Tarislar towards the Dunkelzhan Institute of Magical Research's offices to deliver her into their custody. It takes a bit of persuasion, but they're able to convince the DIMR that Ashryn is both toxic and a bug shaman, asking them to do whatever they can to help her. There's a bit of guilt about turning over the innocent girl to be turned into a lab rat, but the team all agree it's better than just killing her, and Delphi sends an anonymous text to her aunt telling her that her niece is alive and being cared for. Returning to Argent, the runners tell him that the problem has been dealt with and receive their promised payment for a job well done.
- 16,000 nuyen
- 8 karma
- 2 CDP
- For Tora: 16k nuyen, 6 karma, and Informer as a 2/2 contact
- 1 Favor from the Draco Foundation
- +2 Draco Foundation rep
- +2 Laesa Syndicate rep
- +1 Ancients rep
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
Fragging. Bugs. Goddamnit. Absolutely disgusting creatures - I haven't had the misfortune to run into them before, but apparently a few others on the team had and they were pretty eager to go into full extermination mode. Can't say I blame them either, those *things* just creeped me out, especially the one that tried to eat me... one of the little fraggers even bit me, and I was worried I was going to get sick or infested or something, but I got Wirth to check me out after and she said I'll be fine after a few days. Still, super gross.
I'm really glad we could do something for Ashryn though - I understand where Relay was coming from, that she's a threat to both us and the sprawl as a whole and could do untold damage, but still... like, it's an innocent little girl, anything was better than that option. I could see so much of myself in her, alone on the street and with nowhere to go... sometimes I'm glad I didn't Awaken as a mage. I'm just happy that the DIMR would take her, hopefully they can find some way to help her. Fingers crossed the rest of the team are sleeping better than me after all this - I don't think my skin's going to stop crawling for weeks after visiting that playground. At least Tarislar has one less problem to deal with now.
“Just, frag. 2 for 3 now I’ve had to deal with bugs. Just, frag. I thought running was meant to be simple. Go here, do this crime, get paid. Not have to turn on the VIP and blast them cuz they were a god damn bug, or seriously have to think about flatlining a FRAGGING TEN YEAR OLD! Is... is this city going to be another fragging Chigaco? God I hope not. Frag. It started as a simple job. Figure out what’s causing all the disease spread in this neighborhood in Puyallup. Nothing too crazy, not hard to blame a toxic mage considering the area. Nah, not the lucky. Poor kid was out on the street alone, Awakened, and then a fragging Bug mentor got to them. Started drowning the area in Mite spirits. We’re just lucky it was only birds that seemed to have been fully infected. Delphi convinced us to take the kid in alive, giving them up to the Draco Foundation. I just really wonder if we would have been better off putting a slug in her head instead. Frag. End recording.”
...I swear, it's like I've swallowed a bug magnet at this point, and so did Relay, from what's posted on the Haven archives.
Hope Ashryn turns out well under the Foundation's care.
I sprayed the place down for bugs as soon as I got home. After my first job I thought that helping sick people would do some good. And it did. But it led to a rabbit hole of planar horrors and toxic magic drek. Bug spirits. Things that take over a host and turn innocent people into husks for their monster kids to chew on. I'm glad we were able to get Ashryn away from there, I just hate that we had to lie. Im gonna send her letters. Just hope she doesn't hate us. I lost family too. I also hope that those things aren't watching us. I keep seeing skittering motions outside my window. I hope it's just an honest roach.
You don't just stop being an insect shaman.
I feel bad for the kid--I really do. I understand the team's choices. I really do. They saw her as a kid...but she wasn't anymore.
They have made the world less safe--no, WE have made the world less safe--because they refused to acknowledge the known truth that this child has been absorbing the soul glue of hundreds of people already--and those are just the folks who will go to the hospital. We don't know how many are dead. We don't know how many more are still infected.
And, again, I didn't pull the trigger. I am a coward. I had no problem killing a child, but I worried about crossing the team. The frag. Am I so concerned for the well-being of my meatsack sleeping inside a rigger cocoon that I let a sociopath summon a nigh infinite number of mite spirits? What is wrong with me. I need to start pulling the trigger on these literal bastions of evil or turn the gun 180 degrees, because I'm doing the exact opposite of what I set out to do. Moral conundrums are fine--they're a part of running. Letting evil spirits hatch from human beings because you didn't want people to get mad at you is the lowest form of cowardice and self-pity. It's despicable. I'm despicable.