Minor Arcana

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Minor Arcana
Date2081-12-02
GMSarcarian
LocationRenton, Seattle Metroplex
Status Threat Level: Medium High
Factions Involved
ShadowHaven Insect Spirits Knight Errant
Baron
Blue Crow
Roadkill
Rougarou
Sp4rks
Fly Scout
Fly Soldier
Flesh-Form Caretaker
Fly Shaman
KE Patrol Officer
KE Security Spider
KE Air Spirit
Casualties and losses
Baron and Roadkill had their fake SINs burned. Flesh-Form Caretaker, Fly Shaman KE Air Spirit


Summary

In which the runners are hired by a young woman to investigate her brother’s disappearance, and end up uncovering a growing bug nest within a wealthy a gated community.

Background

Isadora Windthrope is a bright young woman with a lot going for her – she’s kind, smart, wealthy, conventionally attractive, comes from a good family, and she’s a full magician to boot. Her parents are business-people and plastic surgeons who together run the A-rated “nuYou” series of bio-sculpting clinics (which provide leonization treatments to wealthy clientele), and their work provides all the money that her and her younger brother Duncan could ever need. Isadora also has a growing interest in the Tarot – she is a witch but has started using the cards to practice divination (she has not initiated yet, but she likes to smoke oniero). Quite recently she received a portent of doom which she initially wrote off, however the next day her brother didn’t come home from a sleepover; she hasn’t been able to reach him on the matrix or locate him on the astral, but her mother seems oddly unconcerned about it, and her father has left town suddenly on an unexpected business trip.

Unbeknownst to Isadora or anyone else, her mother is a newly-initiated Insect Shaman – she was converted by her sister-in-law, a lawyer from Chicago who is actually a true-form fly spirit. After sending her husband away to be infested, she concentrated her efforts on her youngest child (planning to make a soldier out of him), plotting to induct Isadora as the next shaman of their nest once the infestation of the rest of their family is complete (or else infest her with a nymph spirit should that plan fail).

Isadora has noticed a change in her mother recently – she hasn’t been as diligent about their shared wiccan rituals, and she and their neighbor Mrs. Wakefield (an aspected conjurer who her mother converted, and who’s elderly husband was infested with a caretaker spirit) both missed observing the New Moon a few days prior – and now with her brother now missing she is desperate for help. Luckily she is a fan of punk music and regularly visit’s The Daze in Touristville, where the owner has noticed her troubled state; using this connection, Isadora has reached into her savings account hire runners.

The Meet

Isadora has the runners meet her at 2pm at The Daze before it opens for business (Alessa P, who set up the job for her and hired a number of runners in her stable, has arranged a private gathering). Everyone manages to make it to Touristville without much trouble, and are greeted by the fixer before being introduced to a young woman in a private school uniform, drinking and smoking while reading cards from a very intricate and expensive-looking tarot deck. Several of them offer complements, and Blue Crow assenses their Johnson to determine that she’s a mage, and uses her magical traditions roll to intuit that she’s a witch from her jewelry. Isadora explains her problem – her brother is missing, she can’t contact her father, and her mother seems strangely unbothered by it. When Baron bluntly asks how much she is paying, she casually asks if 50k is enough for the group, and a matrix search roll by Sp4rks on her face tells the team of her identity.

Everyone is happy with 10 grand a peace to go chasing after some missing rich kid who probably just went off with some girl (certain they can squeeze more cash out of their J if it proves too difficult), so Isadora provides them with her brother’s commlink number and a quicksilver photograph of his aura, as well as a number to contact her at if they have any further questions, before going back to her cards.

The Plan

While Blue Crow studies the quicksilver photograph of their target, Sp4rks takes a look on the grids to try and spot out his commlink, but is unsuccessful (as it is currently off). Isadora gives them her brother’s last known location (a nice neighborhood in an A zone), as well as her home address in Hampshire Estates near Lake Younge in Renton (a gated community in a AAA zone, to the team’s consternation) so they can look for clues – she advises the metahumans and Awakened in the group about the area’s known biases and the strong Humanis presence, but no one thinks to put on a disguise or buy ear caps.

Hopping into Roadkill’s van, the team head south and devise a plan. Blue Crow summons up a spirit friend to assist her with its search power, confirming that their target is not within 5km of the last known location he was supposed to be (and thus either lied to them and is somewhere else – a distinct possibility – or is in some actual sort of trouble). This leaves them with few options but to go to the Windthrope home and look for clues, however entry into the gated community is a tricky prospect - they decide on a plan to pose as couriers, with Sp4rks setting up the infiltration on the matrix, smuggling in their essential goods via Roadkill’s shielded smuggling compartments.

Sp4rks pops psyche and hits the rating 5 host for the gated community, managing to slip inside unnoticed by the spider and locate the visitor manifest. After disarming the data bomb, he has a bit of trouble making the edit to the file but manages to avoid notice of the patrol IC; eventually after a few attempts he is able to enter the name on Roadkill’s fake SIN and the delivery company that they are posing as employees of, making it look like the Windthrope’s are scheduled to receive a package. Slipping out unnoticed, he along with Rougarou and Blue Crow conceal themselves in the back of the van (literally, using concealment from Blue Crow’s spirit) while Baron sits up front with Roadkill in order to use his not-inconsiderable charm sell the con.

At the gate is a KE Aware with a rating 5 SIN scanner – both Roadkill and Baron’s SINs pass, but are recorded in the visitor registry – and Baron manages to convince the cop that they’re on a busy schedule and to let them through without any serious questions. A short drive through the neighborhood later and the team have arrived at the Windthrope residence – a very nice two-story villa home with a lovely old couple as neighbors (who are actually Mrs. Wakefield, the nest’s second fly shaman, and her flesh-formed husband). Blue Crow passes out for a few moments and peeks around on the astral, managing to sleaze her way through the ward covering the building and search around inside. In the basement she locates a force 8 magical lodge covering a pair of rooms and is immediately suspicious, returning to her body to tell the team that’s where they should begin their search.

Approaching the home, Sp4rks looks at the place on the matrix and sees a whole bunch of active devices, but no commlinks (Isadora’s mother is currently out, though she has left a guardian). He does however spot a family’s Lone Star Castle Guard drone, noting it as a threat to be taken out, as well as the maglock on the front door (which he is able to open with little trouble) and a hidden icon which seems to belong to a safe. Across the way, the Wakefields are on their porch keeping a careful eye on the home while Dr. Windthrope is away take interest in the visitors; the team notice the old couple, writing them off as nosey neighbors but taking action to avoid detection by them. Roadkill kits up in his RPC’d up FBA, and he and Rougarou put their sneaky skills to work to approach the front door while Blue Crow uses invisibility to hide the less stealth-inclined, making sure to scrub her signature as well.

The Run

Sneaking inside, the team are a bit shocked by the opulence on display – the Windthrope’s aren’t quite at the luxury lifestyle level, but they are comfortably above high and even Baron is impressed. Sp4rks is able to mark and shut down the Castle Guard drone before moving to the library to locate the safe, while Blue Crow and Baron go to the basement to investigate the mystery wards. Rougarou and Roadkill stay near the front, but they investigate through the drawing room a bit while keeping an eye out and find a poster for something called the Westside Redevelopment Project, with the slogan “Building a Better Tomorrow” underneath (no one gets the reference though, it being a bit before their time).

While watching out the window, Rougarou spots the Wakefields investigating the van, and with 6 hits on her perception she catches a glimpse under Mr. Wakefield’s coat to notice the chitin on his arm. This freaks everyone the frag out when they’re informed over DNI, and the team reconvene to take measure of the situation – an assensing check by Blue Crow confirms that he is a flesh-form fly spirit, while the old lady is a magic 4 insect shaman. A bit of mild panic ensues as the team tries to figure out how bad the situation is and how much of the neighborhood might be infested, as well as debate how to deal with the problem; the team is unsure how much of the neighborhood is infested, and whether or not there is a mother spirit around. A look at the shaman’s aura confirms that it is different from that of the flesh-form (whose aura matches the lodge in the basement – confirming that Isadora’s mother is the likely mastermind behind this).

The team wisely decide that rescuing Isadora’s brother is the top priority, and that he is most likely in the process of being infested down in the basement; Baron and Blue Crow rush down there while Sp4rks plugs into the safe and cracks it open, revealing a trove of documents to bring back as well, before calling his chameleon-coated dustoff drone to come and get ready to take their target (the drone manages to sneak by the KE security rotodrone and avoid notice on the matrix, landing outside). Rougarou and Roadkill, still posting up out front, see the flesh-form approach and peer through the door at them; it should be noted that, at this point, most of the team is on combat stims and barely supressing bug-stomping urges. Below, the mages find a pair of locked doors, and Blue Crow peaks her astral head through only to be attacked by a bug-cat (Dr. Windthrope’s familiar, now infested with a scout spirit).

Blue Crow, already hyped up on kami, seizes the initiative and grabs the cat to perform an exorcism on the spirit, forcing the bug out of the corpse and onto the astral to evanesce away before quickly returning to her body. Sp4rks tosses off a truly GOD-tier (12-hit, limit-broken) calibration that gets everyone moving at peek efficiency, and the hits on his HUD help Baron spot out the catch which reveals the hidden door to the small secret room holding Duncan in a cocoon. Baron uses ice spear to cut the boy loose, and Blue Crow throws him over her shoulder, bringing him out of the lodge and forcing the soldier spirit that was infesting him onto the astral as well before rushing upstairs to put him in the waiting medical drone.

Upstairs, Roadkill – perhaps not thinking clearly since he’s on a speedball of guts and kami – shots through the nice wooden front door with ADPS and right into the flesh-form. Rougarou follows suit with her blade, cutting the bug good and putting him down to force the caretaker back where it came from. Outside, Mrs. Wakefield presses the panic button on her commlink and starts screaming for help, saying her husband has been murdered - Sp4rks data spikes her commlink but doesn’t manage to destroy it, so Rougarou (wearing her ballistic mask and a hood) *runs out into the street and murders her in broad daylight right in front of the patrol car down the road!*

At this point the team knows things are FUBAR and that survival is the priority – they put Duncan into the chameleon-coated dustoff drone’s valkyrie module, which makes a speedy getaway (thankfully not being shot down in the process as the security drones are converging on the team). Piling into the van, Roadkill peals out followed close behind by a Dodge Charger, which deploys Ares Alphas to fire tracker ammo at the van (they’re not going to indiscriminately spray bullets in a neighborhood like this). Blue Crow doesn’t have masking, but Baron has been masking as a mundane and has no such concerns about leaving signatures behind, so he tries to slow their pursuers down with physical illusions while Sp4rks deals with the bollards which are going up at the gate to impede their escape.

Roadkill displays some impressive driving skills in avoiding getting hit with tagger ammo, but the pawns deploy a KE limpet drone to speed out and attach to the underside of the van – thinking quickly, Roadkill activates the anti-theft system and deals just enough unresisted electricity damage to destroy it. Rougarou gets her assault rifle out of the smuggling compartment and pulls off a called shot to the engine block of the pursuing Charger, disabling it - up ahead though, another has blocked their path. Sp4rks, having managed to lower the bollards, successfully bounces back a mark from the spider attempting to hack him and places another mark on him to boot.

With Blue Crow shouting words of encouragement at Roadkill to help him drive better/faster (unwilling to have her spirit use movement on the vehicle, as it would leave a signature behind), the street medic does an admirable job at playing wheelman – he just barely manages to dodge a lightning bolt when the KE air spirit manifests to strike down the criminal scum. Baron starts unloading on the spirit with high-force stun bolts, recklessly casting chaotic world just to try to distract it as well, while Rougarou lights up the spirit with ADPS rounds. Sp4rks lowers the bollards again after the spider tries to re-raise them, and Roadkill drives up on the curb and hits a mailbox before pulling off a truly impressive stunt with 9 hits on a pilot test to maneuver his way around the Charger blocking their path, rolling over some tire spikes in the process but continuing on thanks to his run-flat tires.

They may be out of the gated community, the team is hardly out of the woods yet. The KE air spirit follows and nearly strikes down the van, almost forcing Roadkill to burn his 7th point edge to avoid the hit, but a lucky duck from Sp4rks lets him dodge it without needing to make that sacrifice. A few more stunbolts and ADPS rounds are sufficient to disrupt the spirit, but Blue Crow spots a watcher on the astral, so she has her spirit use its last service to take it out. Sp4rks, for his part, bootstraps the spider’s deck to reboot and takes out the pursuing drones with data spikes before rebooting and focusing on generating enough noise to hide their position from any tags that they were hit with as Roadkill makes some evasive driving maneuvers and break line of sight with their pursuers then rotating his chameleon coating/morphing plates/spoof chips to different combinations every few minutes as they speed off.

Aftermath

Incredibly aware of how close they just came to being arrested or worse, the team first check to make sure the drone got away with Duncan (thankfully it did, as they caused quite the distraction) before Roadkill calls up his fixer to procure a warded safehouse in the district, throwing him a chip for the favor. Once they call up Isadora to tell her that her brother is safe and retrieve the drone, the team go to ground at their safehouse to make sure the heat has time to die down, watching themselves on the news (Humanis is having a field day with it) and seeing that Baron and Roadkill's fake SINs have been recorded as responsible parties with shots of their faces (the rest were disguised or invisible, though the masked Rougarou killing the old woman makes for great evening news fodder). After waiting 24 hours, they call up Alessa P to make sure that things are okay before heading to the handoff at The Daze.

Isadora is obviously grateful beyond words to have her brother saved from such a gruesome fate, and shocked that her mother could do such a thing; after some “persuasion” from the team (helped along by liberal expenditure of their last remaining points of edge), she agrees to double their payment because of all the trouble they went through to make sure that the bugs spread as little as possible, and for recovering the trove of documents from her mother’s safe that might hold a clue as to her intent. The team also use a burner commlink to send an anonymous message to KE telling them to investigate the basement, but whether or not it will be followed up upon is a mystery – still, things surely would have been far worse without their involvement, and they’re all at least happy to have made it out alive.

Rewards

  • 20,000 nuyen
  • 9 karma
  • 2 CDP
  • Optional Contact: Isadora Windthrope – C3/L3 Reader of the Cards

Game Quotes

Player After Action Reports (AARs)

Sp4rks

WHO-HOO now that was something ! It all began with an ad we don't get often, a good person need help and has the money to pay us, and to top it off the ad is from the legendary Alessa ! You bet i was applying, and about two hours later i was on the road with my new, deep mauve and not Ancient branded pick-up to pick up (pun halfway intended) Baron... at his mansion. Well, i suppose he wanted a feel of the normal life, money must have kinda messed with him judging by his mannerisms and general off-putting demeanor. A whole 30 minutes of gridguide traffic, Baron talking about random stuff, and an identity test later we are at Alessa's business.

Gotta say i forgot how small pixies can be, i would have talked some with her about her people but she seemed preoccupied and quickly directed us to the J. Some minutes passes waiting for the team to assemble, and i notice most of my fellow runners were of the awakened kind, though it did not keep me from making small talk with them. Blue crow had an interesting mojo to her, while Rougarou was looking diciplined and focused on the task at hands. Roadkill was the most approachable tho, meanwhile Baron kept talking about random stuff.

We get to see the J and she's a young girl looking like she took too much long haul. She was playing with a nice deck of cards, she explains to us she is studying augury, and she's worried about her brother as she can't get a positive reading about him recently, in addition to his disappearance. The job is to find her bro and to do so she hands us a magic photo of her bro and gives me a 'link number. I gotta admit, i thought Baron knew at least how to face but i felt embarrassed when he talked, it was like he wanted to make the J uncomfortable or something.

Some legwork later, we decide that getting to the J's house will give us more trails to follow, to do so we had to get inside an AAA zone in a gated community. To give us a reason to be there, we decide to use the Chameleon coating of the van to pass for a delivery service, and i drop in VR to make it seem we were expected. I easily get in the (VERY uncomfortably perfect) host, and get to work finding the file i need to edit. I styled my robe to look like the typical humanis poster of a woman's clothes, while modifying the rings in a purse and making the eye of Ra an uncomfortable smiley face. The patrols saw nothing, nor did the spider, which was disguised as a kid whose gaze drilled in my soul (WHO DOES THAT ??), i quickly found the file in the virtual city hall, and put aside the trap they put right before it's drawer with much care.

Turns out, i know how to not trigger traps, but apparently i have trouble opening DRAWERS ! I end up sculpting myself a gun just to append my data to this specific drawer, what a mess. I quickly reboot and tell the team it's done. We get at the entrance, and Baron talks to the guards, who scan their IDs and let us through. I knew i should have wiped their database right there and there, but well i was stupid. We get in the house with next to no trouble and Blue crow tells us to get down to the basement. I checked behind just in case and was followed by the rest of the team, and we saw the neighbors checking our van out, it seemed pretty innocent until someone found out one of those was an insect spirit, the kind of stuff we see in the trids !

Finding this out, Rougarou and Roadkill stay in front of the door waiting for the monster to barge in, while i get to a safe we marked earlier and the rest of the team got down to the basement. The safe had an universal data port, ant so i AR hack it, film it's contents and put them in my bag before dropping in VR to help the team however i can. As soon as i'm in i check the team's status, and adrenaline kicks in, i get on everyone's hud and point out everything i can see coming at them, everything was going to shit everywhere, and cherry on top the basement was a puke inducing hell scape. I'm thankfull that in VR puking is not a thing !

Under six seconds the neighbors are dead in the street and Blue crow has the kid with her, and so i kick back in AR and leg it to the van, the police is already en-route and AAA is not a label for nothing ! We put the kid in the Dustoff camouflaged medical drone for extraction and floor it out of this soon to be battle field. All hell breaks loose, but i have one clear objective : get the car out of here in one piece, and this is done through lowering those fucking bollards. EZ PZ i do exactly that but a pesky spider just gets them up again !

Thankfully, i have time to lower them back before we go through, and the spider in his stupid little kid avatar hurts itself trying to put a mark on me.. Welp time for me to take care of him, apparently our driver pulled off a magnificent move, but i was too focused on slapping another mark on the spider to notice. Then i think GOD itself was on my side, a pop up spawns randomly showing the rear camera of the car, the air crackling with astral LIGHTNING, as soon as i notice it i override every AR signals of our driver to various crude TURN LEFT and LIGHTNING INCOMING images, which prompts him to turn at the very last time to dodge the spirit's assault. Pushing out a virtual sigh, i get back on task to get rid of the spider. In a somewhat cocky move i use my marks on him to constrain it's avatar and persona in a form that gave me access to his deck, at which point i used a sculpted payload in the fashion of a black hole full of trendy images, that i sent directly in it's boot partition, formatting it's deck instantly and rewriting everything on it in the fashion of various hand picked dank memes.

Turns out the spider also was master of a drone, that stopped pursuing us right after i got the better of him, and our mages just got rid of the spirit, leaving us with no one following ! When in a safe place, i took some time to relax, play some 'trix games and SLEEP, jazz and psyche do a lot on one's tiredness. The next day, i was happy to see the J and her bro reunited, without mentioning a sweet cash bonus to boot.

I have to say, i'm kinda reassured. I thought i lost the touch after some mistakes i have made in earlier runs, but this one really showed me i still had the talent, it's maybe the best reward i got out of this one, in addition to not dying ofc !


Rougarou : Sounded like some young boy went off to hang out with friends and went dark, so thought it was going to be some easy money, but something about this didn't seem right from the start. maybe it was from the J being one of those who can so call see into the future a bit...which i glad to be approved wrong and of all things bugs. you know those monsters that have try to end the world before. I felt bad for the old man because he likely knew what happened to him, a close betrayal from someone you knew for I don't know how long just to face that's terrifying ordeal ,then to know that your body will become a puppet for some insatiable monster from some hellish realm ,that's asides the point the main goal was to put them both down both the cadaver along with the shaman because if one was allowed to live and get away it just means more will become monsters like that and only good is a monster is to be put down...in the end made it out with the skills of each of us in the group and felt glad once we gotten away from the cops...Thankful for this little knife that i picked up.