Valefar's Vestige

Talking 'bout Techronin
Everything comes together

The team (minus 1412 who has temporarily dropped off the grid to “work through some things”) meets with Tick, Tock, and Boom at RNRZ, a small club trying entirely too hard to cater to runner and runner-wannabe clientele. The trio has been lying low after severing their ties with Valefar, but more actively seeking information on Techronin. While attempting to find the fixer Techronin’s team used to use, they discovered that their team never used a fixer, picking all their own jobs. Piecing together Techronin’s comments about wanting a “Legacy,” the trio has decided the next best place to look would be to investigate the Saeder-Krupp job Techronin’s team did. The team points them towards Valerie Heldt, a retired SK Counter-Security Chief who should have been in charge of hunting Techronin’s team after the heist. They also give the team 300,000 nuyen (stolen from various assets Valefar had collected), work out a plan to get back in touch three weeks later (including a code phrase to prove it’s really them), and sends them to the Allied German States to find Heldt and see what they can learn.

The team puts together a plan to ditch their comms and get out of Seattle undetected. 42,000 nuyen later they’re in the AGS with a stolen van and putting together a plan to meet with Heldt. Another 24,000 nuyen later they’ve managed to arrange a “consultation” with Valerie Heldt in her apartment.

Shrike and Sy-Wren go in to the meet, while Banshee runs in the matrix and Copykat/Eiji wait downstairs in case things go south. They meet Valerie and her husband Bert, who fetches tea and then excuses himself to the master bedroom. Sy-Wren/Shrike present their carefully established dossier and case file from the security company they’re pretending to represent. She looks it over, asks a couple questions, and then sets down her laptop and looks at them straight.

“You do know I have spent my entire life learning to recognize and outsmart runners, right?”

There’s a small moment of blundering, and then she sits back down, pulls her laptop back out, and says “if you’re going to pay for a consultation, you might as well tell me what’s actually going on so I can actually tell you something useful.” So the team spills it out, carefully holding back details about themselves, but explaining everything they can about Valefar and Techronin that they think they can comfortably divulge. They don’t mention their connection to Talia, but they describe the device containing a clone and paint a pretty good picture of Valefar, including their suspicion that Valefar is an AI created by Techronin, and that the SK job was probably related.

Valerie loses it. “I knew it! I fucking knew it! I told those dreks and none of them believed me but I fucking knew it.” After a moment spent pacing, she turns to the party. “Okay, I’ll tell you what the SK job was, and my theory about what you’re dealing with. But it’s going to cost you.”

The party points out they already paid for the consultation. She counters that the “situation” the party paid to be consulted about was a cover story they made up and technically this is a separate but related affair. The group grudgingly offers nuyen. She declines, insisting that she wants the Aztechnology Flashdrive. Retired or not, she’s still loyal to Saeder-Krupp, and info like that could give SK an edge. The party points out that information like that is worth more than just a ‘theory’.

“The clone in the tank… she was a young girl. Probably about 16 years old. Am I right? It’s just a theory, but I’ve spent my entire life outsmarting runners, so I think you’ll find I’m pretty damn close, if not spot on.”

The team had mentioned the clone, but had very specifically not given any details about her. They become convinced that her theory is probably solid.

The team debates the ethics of giving SK (and by extension, a dragon) information about how to turn metahuman souls into energy. As they’re clearly discussing, Valerie invites any other party members who want to join the conversation up into the room, so they don’t all have to use voice comms. Sy-Wren leaves, Copykat enters, and Eiji waits just outside her apartment door.

They finally come to the conclusion that the research was incomplete anyway, and as unethical as giving it to SK may be, it could also weaken Aztechnology’s chances of doing devious things with it. They hand it over. She takes it, looks at it, holds up a finger, and starts working on her computer. A little time passes and she sets the laptop down.

//
Techronin’s team were elite. Some of the best runners she’d ever had to go up against. They weren’t very well known, because they didn’t want to be. They had no use for reputation, as they did their own jobs and had no intention of ever being hired. The only one who had any kind of reputation was Techronin, and that was only because he was so active on Shadowland BBS that he had a couple of friends who knew he had the skills to back up his talk.

Techronin’s team managed to break into SK and steal the HRMS prototype. Not just copy, they managed to (quite explosively) steal the physical servers that the protoype and its backup was on. So not only did they have the beginnings of HRMS, but SK completely lost the years of progress they’d put towards it.

What was HRMS, you ask? HRMS (pronounced Hermes) is SK’s Human Resource Management System. It’s not exactly secret, Saeder-Krupp openly brags about it as a selling point to try to draw in more skilled employees. HRMS is a Virtual Intelligence that actively monitors SK’s employees and tries to take care of them. Anyone living in the Arcology is watched by HRMS, who allocates vacations and mental health days to employees who need them, tracks conditions under which employees are most productive and tries to maintain them, monitors health signs to assign sick days and suggest healthy lifestyle options, and while not ever stated it no doubt helps make sure SK company secrets aren’t sold. Employees don’t have to do what HRMS suggests, but the general consensus is that it does a fantastic job of taking care of employees.

It took years to develop it so that it would be able to correctly balance employee happiness with company interest, not to mention the incredible amount of artificial intelligence required to make it monitor every facet it could of an employee’s life, while still being able to learn and start accounting for new factors as it found them relevant, while still also not being an overbearing influence on employees so they didn’t constantly feel monitored.

And again, a few years into development, Techronin and his team bust in and steal all of it.

It took ages to track them down. They were constantly on the move, doing jobs across the globe, and after the SK job they got real quiet. And not only that, but (Valerie gets incredibly agitated while talking about this part) but many of SK’s usual resources were intentionally withheld. She was being forced to track one of her best opponents without her full resources. Why was she denied resources? Because Techronin was actively working on the prototype of HRMS he had, and sending updates back. Not only that but (her agitation increases) the bastard was making faster progress than the development team had been. So someone higher up (hopefully not as high as his scaled majesty himself, but you never know) wanted Techronin to keep working on it. Despite the handicap, she still managed to catch up to his team, and in the ensuing fight all but two were killed. The two that got away were Techronin himself, who had only been present remotely, and a little girl that traveled with them. According to the intel, the team had done a hit on a couple at one point without knowing they had an infant, so two of the team members who were an item but had never wanted to have kids due to their lifestyle took her in as their own. She had been stashed away before the fight, and before today Heldt had always wondered what Techronin had done with her, if anything.

Some time later, full resources were restored. Techronin had made enough progress that SK wanted to reclaim it and finish it themselves instead of risking him selling it to every Megacorp on the planet. They found him, very killed him, and reclaimed HRMS, but there was no sign of the girl. Valerie wasn’t surprised, though, honestly she’d always figured he abandoned her after the rest of his team was killed, “typical runner scum, everyone for themselves.” With this information about the device and the clone, she figures she must have been wrong about that. Valerie had always suspected that he;d put something into HRMS that they’d never found.

“Everything up to this point is fact. Here’s where the theory begins.”

Techronin must have programmed a secondary routine buried deep in some corner of HRMS, that takes care of Shadowrunners instead of Saeder-Krupp employees. No, HRMS is an AI, but not a self aware one. It may be aware that it’s an AI, but it’s not self-conscious outside of certain program constraints. It can learn, but years of work were put into making sure that it stays within its constraints. So it stands to reason that Valefar is just a secondary routine tacked on top, held by the same constraints except wherever Techronin hardcoded an exception. As such, Valefar tries to take care of runners in a way similar to how HRMS takes care of employees. Now, HRMS can only take care of registered employees, so Valefar can probably only take care of what it considers “registered runners.” What it uses for those qualifications who can say, but I’m sure Techronin and his team were all “registered”, which is evidenced by the fact that the clone you found is clearly part of an elaborate scheme to help the little girl in the event of essence loss, based on everything you’ve told me.

What’s fascinating is that Valefar clearly tracks different information for runners than HRMS does for employees. HRMS has absolutely no reason to ever think about making sure employees don’t lose essence, and yet it seems Valefar has prepared against that for the little girl, and also begun taking recruiting action as evidenced by all of you being here. I couldn’t say for sure what constraints Valefar functions under, but Techronin was smart. I’m sure early on he made sure that “protecting the team” wouldn’t ever escalate in Valefar’s mind to “locking them in a box where they can never be hurt and sending them food.” That said, there’s no way Techronin could have accounted for everything. He wasn’t finished, after all, when we finally caught up with him. This elaborate cloning scheme has clearly been in motion for years, and there’s no telling what other schemes it has or will come up with. Not to mention that shadowrunners don’t live like normal metahumans, so Valefar may not treat them with the same ethics HRMS treats SK employees. There’s really no way of knowing what Valefar will escalate to. (As the team hasn’t told her about Talia, she wasn’t able to say anything about it, but the team quickly realized that “kidnapping and forced cyberimplant heart may only be a beginning”).

“Now, don’t worry. Whatever mess you’ve been dragged into I can fix, with this,” she holds up the flash drive. “Normally, combing through a system as large and complex as HRMS trying to find a hidden secondary protocol of unknown size would be a tremendous undertaking. From what you’ve said, however, Valefar not only has a copy of this information, but has actively used it, which means there is a stored copy somewhere in HRMS. If we find the stored copy – which should be easy given we have the original file – we find Valefar. And then we can delete it. So you don’t have to worry about this Valefar going rogue and escalating to crazy measures, we’ll take care of it for you.”
//

The party takes some time to consider this information. On the one hand, getting rid of Valefar before it can go crazy rogue AI sounds like a good idea. On the other, the team still doesn’t know where Talia is and getting rid of Valefar before finding her could lead to her disappearing forever. As the team discusses their options they banter a little more with Valerie Heldt.

During this banter, Heldt and the party come to a realization, unspoken but reached simultaneously. The realization hits both Shrike and Heldt at the same time: if Valefar could be found and removed from HRMS, it could also be found and modified. Instead of protecting runners, it could hunt them. Heldt’s eyes go wide and a vicious smile pulls up the corner of her mouth as Ryker (triggered by the sudden threat to Talia and herself) takes control. Ryker opens the door and tells Eiji “burn it down.”

Before Heldt can even open her mouth to brag about how clever an idea she’s just had, Ryker pulls a machine pistol and splatters Valerie Heldt against her back wall. In the same breath Eiji comes in, opens the bedroom door and with a single swing takes off Bert Heldt’s head before he can even turn his eyes away from the TV where he’s watching Golf (the King’s Game).

They crack open her laptop and find that she has already sent an email with the Aztechnology information and a brief explanation about Valefar being in HRMS and how it could be found and destroyed using the attachment. The team realizes that if they don’t do anything, at best Valefar is deleted before they get Talia back, and at worst someone at Saeder-Krupp realizes they could reprogram Valefar instead of deleting it.

They bail, meet up in the van, and Banshee announces she’s going to try to hack into SK, access their email database, and delete the email and Aztechnology information from all inboxes. Hopefully before anyone has seen them.

The hack attempt will be the start of the next session.

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Good Cop / Bad Cop / Dad Cop
Achievement Unlocked: Make a Conspiracy Corkboard

—Temp Summary, a better one will be posted soon

The session picks up right at the end of last session, instead of the usual month passing. The party has discovered that Eiji’s house has been broken into, and after some struggle Talia has gone missing. They gather back at the Usual Loophole, where they meet Tick, Tock, and Boom. Three exchange a glance, smash their commlinks, and burn off their H.A.T. Tattoos. They then all compare notes, the team comparing what they know with the information about Techronin that Tick, Tock, and Boom have discretely gathered over the past couple years.

18222121_10207543709265929_5753534768350853016_n.jpg

The party spends hours discussing possibilities, and at one point begins to split up. Sy-Wren takes “Deep Shrike” (revealed to be Ryker), and violently interrogates her. Eiji intervenes after blood has been shed, but (as Sy-Wren was keen to point out) before any valuable information was gathered.

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Secret Basements
Does everyone have one?

—Temp Summary, better one coming soon

The party tries to get more leads on whatever vampire business is going down. After a little digging, they find someone who, if not in charge of the shady dealings, has at least some information on them: Wendy Bollinger (a.k.a. Adult Entertainer Stacy Starr [a.k.a. Vampire Mistress “Vixen”]). They scope out Wendy/Stacy/Vixen’s estate, and decide it looks safe enough to break into and snoop around. After some snooping they find a secret basement and have a meeting with Vixen and some of her underlyings. They set up a meet to talk more, at the freshly re-abandoned warehouse that was briefly a vampire factory. She shows up, with two vans, and opens fire. 1412, who had been set up in a sniper position, shoots her twice in the chest while CopyKat shoots off a fireball. It doesn’t kill anyone, but creates enough chaos that the two vans stop firing and take off into the night (running over Copykat’s motorcycle in the process).

Much of that has probably been forgotten by the party, however, because of what happened the next day.

Twitchy and Shrike independently go to check out the Usual Loophole, following the previous night’s ambush attempts. Shrike waves Twitchy over to the coffee shop, where they have a conversation about being tired of getting left in the dark, and wanting answers. Twitchy had been planning on talking to Valefar for a couple days before, and it was decided that the best way to get his attention was to break the rules. They walk over to the closed down club (The Usual Loophole), where Shrike picks the lock to a side door. A short and lucky investigation later, Twitchy uncovers a secret hatch to a secret basement where, presumably, secrets lie. Shrike, picks a much more difficult lock leading down to yet another door. Both are getting anxious by the very clear warning signs, but Twitchy’s curiosity (and frustration) had hit the tipping point, and he convinces her to press on. While working on disabling the key padded metal door, Strike reveals that the two weeks she had allegedly been off the grid were lost time, and she’d been trying to uncover just what had happened, also admitting that she’d had her first kill, and talking with Talia earlier had triggered flashbacks and the feeling of lost time again, and was scared she’d compromised the team. Twitchy speculates that she may have had mental programming, trying to remain honest about how bad the consequences were if that was the case, while also providing reassurance that, “No matter what may have been done, it’s not your fault.” The door finally clicks open, which triggers Deep Shrike, who then shoots Twitchy in the back. There is a brief struggle, and Deep Shrike is overpowered, and has a mental shutdown.

Within the room is a complex setup. Two life support tanks, one featuring a Magical Octopus, the other containing a clone of Talia with a large, freshly healed scar over her heart. Connecting the two tanks is a complex series of tubes and machinery, including the crystal that Copykat theorized was some kind of arcane energy converter, and runes similar to those found in the files stolen from Aztechnology. The rest of the party filters in, and they begin discussing what it could be.

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Grand Theft Autopsy
Do clones have souls?

Tock brought the team in and showed them a printed photographic of a human none of them recognized. She explained his name was Mattias Gonzalez, and he was an employee of Aztechnology who had recently gone rogue and left the company. Aztechnology had posted a bounty for his arrest and return, as you can’t just ‘leave’ a megacorp without them saying it’s okay. That much of the story is fairly normal.

Where it got interesting is that the day before the team’s meeting, Mattias Gonzalez had been found in a gutter somewhere, killed by a vampire, and his body had been taken to a street docs chop shop. At the same time, Mattias Gonzalez had been reported dead by Aztechnology and taken to a small Aztechnology owned but poorly maintained hospital morgue. And the bounty on Mattias Gonzalez had not been lifted. This meant there were two different bodies being called Mattias Gonzalez. One Aztechnology knew was dead and was in their morgue. The other Aztechnology wanted to get their hands on, and was in a street docs clinic. Valefar wanted to know “Why are there two Mattias Gonzalezes and why were they both reported dead the same day?”

The team was hired to break into the morgue and A) confirm the other body was Mattias Gonzalez. and B) steal his autopsy report. The team started by tracking down the “escaped” Mattias. One Astral Assenssing of his body later, it was confirmed that he was killed by vampire’s sucking out his essence, and that he had some kind of cyberware artificial heart. They also learned that either Tick or Tock had purchased his body.

They scouted out the hospital and pulled another Derrick on one of the employees. They stuck CopyKat in a bodybag, dressed up in scrubs, and 1412 dressed as ‘The Derrick’ pretended to be showing the others how the process of taking a body to the morgue worked. They had intended to bypass the two additional guards posted outside, leave the bag behind, where CopyKat would sneak out, grab the Autopsy, check the body, and mistform out of there.

What they didn’t account for was that they had done all their planning at night and by the time they had implemented the Doctor was back in the morgue. They dropped off the body, and then stalled for time in the hallway while CopyKat tried to figure out what to do. Things quickly escalated into a firefight, with Sy-Wren dropping at one point but being narrowly saved by Shrike (who got her first kill of her life in the same battle). They dropped both security guards, Incapacitated the Doc (who they intended to take prisoner but he bled out during their escape), found the body, and shoved all the paperwork on the desk into a bag.

The Body, after being astrally assenssed, was nearly identical to the other one. Same physiology, nearly idential astral signature, same birthmarks, also had some kind of cyberware heart implant, and had also clearly died from essence lost. The only difference was he had none of the physical signs of a vampire attack (no wounds, no blood) and he didn’t have the echo of emotional trauma that a vampire attack leaves behind (where a trace of fear and pain and panic was on the other body there was only a faint residual exhaustion on this one).

The team made their escape, dumped the doc’s body and their stolen ambulance, and met back at 1412’s place to discuss things. They found the Autopsy report in the bag, and it confirmed that though Essence Loss was the suspected cause of death, no apparent cause of Essence Loss could be found. Mattias had reportedly just grown pale and keeled over while at work. During this conversation 1412 came out about being a clone, and was accepted warmly by the group.

The team then went into a Faraday cage, shut off all their electronics, and then had a chat about their employer. They weren’t sure if they liked the idea of working for Valefar if Valefar really was an AI, and they wanted to start to put together a ‘bigger picture game plan’. They came to the consensus that, despite what they’d been told, they doubt they’d be able to leave so easily, and if Valefar is up to something big and bad sticking close will give them the best edge to stop whatever happens. A written transcript of this conversation was made and given to Eiji and Banshee, so that no digital copy would exist but they would both be able to get in on the conversation.

The Autopsy and Information was given to Tock, and payment was received.

GRAND THEFT AUTOPSY
Runners: 1412, Banshee, CopyKat, Shrike, Sy-Wren
Mr. Johnson: Tock
Date: 1-26-2073
Run Time: 28 hours
Retrieved: Autopsy of Mattias Gonzalez
Payoff: ¥15,000 each
Karma: 7 (+1 Survival, +2 Objectives, +1 Threat, +1 Roleplaying, +2 Plot)

Session Quotes:

“Aw, Beans.” -1412 in the least-subtle nametag drop ever performed

CopyKat: “I’m a vampire, Banshee’s a gamer, we all have problems.”
Sy-Wren: "I like how ‘gamer’ ranks above ‘drug-addict’ on your list of ‘example problems in the group.’ "

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Turning on the Turncoats
A different kind of Holiday Spirit

Tock called the group in and explained that Valefar had a job that might actually be catered to the team’s reputation for overkill. One of Valefar’s teams had done a job, but was refusing to turn in the item they retrieved for payment. And that was unacceptable. The team was reassured that if they ever wanted to leave H.A.T. peacefully they could, but refusing to finish a run they had accepted and completed was a form of betrayal that must be punished. The team was offered ¥10,000 for the return of the flashdrive with all the data on it, and told that additional payment may be available for any overkill within limits (civilian casualties were discouraged, but the running team they were up against were no longer protected under Honor Among Thieves).

The team was given information about the other team’s hideout (the basement level of Flamingo ) and contact information for the other team. The team ambushed an employee, stole his identity, and scouted out the arcade. They monitored as team members came and went and, after one particularly tough looking member left decided to rush the place. Some smoke bombs, many threats, and an explosive early Christmas present later the team was ready to talk. They didn’t want to give up the flashdrive, because it contained information from Aztechnology on a series of runes that could somehow be used to drain the essence out of a person and convert it into some kind of energy. The team’s face, Shorca, said that theoretically the information could be used to power a generator by killing people, or even used to create some kind of weapon out of people’s souls. They then claimed that Valefar was an AI, or at least some kind of complex VI, and giving it the knowledge of how to use people for power was not something they were morally comfortable with.

The team was slightly unnerved by this information, but they offered to exchange the other team’s lives for the flashdrive anyway. Shorca negotiated that the rest of her team be allowed to go up into their van before she handed over the drive, to help ensure that our team would be good on their word. This proved to be a good move, as the moment our team had the flash drive and verified it Eiji shot Shorca in the chest. Twice.

The team reviewed the information, verified that the other teams concerns and conclusions seemed reasonable, and then handed over the flashdrive for the original payment plus ¥5,000 a piece for making an example of the other team’s face.

Somewhere during this time frame, the group got in touch with Fang, who got them in touch with Falcon, who arranged for Shrike’s Submarine to be hidden in their Smuggler’s Cove for ¥8,000 a month plus the right to use it whenever she isn’t.

TURNING ON THE TURNCOATS
Runners: 1412, Banshee, CopyKat, Shrike, Sy-Wren, Twitchy Dan
Mr. Johnson: Tock
Date: 12-23-2072
Run Time:
Retrieved:
Payoff: ¥15,000 each
Karma: 6 (+1 Survival, +2 Objective, +1 Threat Level, +1 Planning, +1 Roleplaying)

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Sleepless in Seattle
Realizing that everybody looks delicious

CopyKat wakes up in the hospital early on November 1st, and promptly sucks dry a nurse. Before she recovers her full sentience she manages to break out of the hospital and get herself stranded somewhere in the Redmond Barrens. A brief adventure of learning that she’s become a vampire later she manages to get onto the bus Sy-Wren is taking into the city. Sy-Wren, who had already worked with Twitchy Dan on retrieving CopyKat’s belongings and was well aware that she had probably become a vampire, takes her to Twitchy Dan’s. There are long discussions and tears, and Twitchy Dan takes her in. Somewhere in here CopyKat goes home and comes clean to her mom, which ends with an awkward “I need time to process this” that never really gets resolved. CopyKat changes her number when her mom never calls back.

In coping with her new Lifestyle, CopyKat tries to contact Tick, Tock, and Boom, but after she sends the message she instantly gets the reply “Your usual contacts, and the rest of the team, are off the grid on a job. -V” She replies to the message asking for help coping with her new lifestyle, to which she again gets an instant reply " Fang [contact number] -V"

She texts Fang. The exchange goes something like:

“I heard you can help me.”
“What’s the job?”
“No job. I need help… adjusting to a ‘new life.’”
“….so… like, an extraction?”
“No… I’m dealing with some big life changes.”
“………”
LOOK I’M A VAMPIRE OKAY!?”
“OH MY GOD IT’S JUST A NAME! HOW DID YOU GET MY NUMBER?”
“H.A.T.”
“Oh. You’re one of Valefar’s brats. Fine. I can’t help you, but I know someone who can. Vlad [contact number].”

She goes to contact Vlad, but instead winds up in contact with someone named Madeline and her assistant Kirin. They inform the group that there has been a surge in the number of vampires created recently, but they’re not being taken care of. Additionally, vampire hunters are on the rise, and a lot of vampires are going missing, possibly more than ‘vampire hunters’ can account for. Even with hardened professionals like Marcos Knight around. In addition to this, stumbling into a vampire factory seems to have gotten someone’s attention, as allegedly there is someone hunting for CopyKat specifically, by description. And not just a vampire hunter, presumably someone in charge of this factory-thing (which Madeline and Kirin both very vocally despise. From what they’ve gathered trying to talk to vampires who have been turned in factories and somehow gotten out of captivity before quickly disappearing, something very well organized and very hush hush is going on in the shadows of Seattle.

Madeline and Kirin give CopyKat the rundown on how vampirism works, and work out a system for getting her a reliable supply of blood for a fair price.

The Team takes the information of “Someone is making vampires” “Vampires are going missing” “Vampire Hunters are all over the place” and “Tamanous and The Halloweeners are somehow involved” to Valefar, in addition to all the recorded footage and such, and get paid a fair penny for it all.

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE
Runners: CopyKat, Sy-Wren, Twitchy Dan
Mr. Johnson: Continued from Last Run
Date: November 2072
Run Time: ~month
Retrieved: More Vampire Intel
Payoff: ¥35,000 each
Karma: 8 (+1 Survival, +1 Objective, +1 Threat, +4 Roleplaying , +1 Plot)

Session Quotes:

“She’s Dead (Asterisk)”

CopyKat: “I panic at not having my focus.”
GM: “And at being a naked 16 year old girl alone in the Barrens.”
CopyKat: “Eh, that’s less of a concern.”

Sy-Wren: “You’re Looking well”
CopyKat: “I don’t feel well”
GM: “She really doesn’t look well”
Eiji: “Roll a bluff check”

Sy-Wren: “I get you an ’I’m sorry I got you killed by ghouls’ card. And flowers.”

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Sunken Treasure
We all live in a little submarine...

Before Banshee, Shrike, and 1412 have time to really cope with the probably death of CopyKat, they’re called in by Tick, Tock, and Boom for another job. They explain that ten years ago a job went south in the Bering Strait. Valefar had found what they were looking for, but were attacked before they could get it back to the mainland. The ship they were using for disguise sunk, but an escape pod carrying their cargo was jettisoned before hand.

Enough time has passed that Valefar was now confident they could sneak back up there and finish the job, especially given that two high tech submarines had just fallen into their hands. Tick, Tock, and Boom would pilot one. Banshee, Shrike, and 1412 would pilot the other. The submarines, stolen as they were, had a complex failsafe to periodically look unauthorized users out. A permanent override was possible, but would require complex hardware changes. Because the job was going to run completely off grid (no commlinks or outside communication) they needed Banshee there in person. The plan was to navigate up to the wreckage, and then search for the jettisoned escape pod. During this time, every 8 hours the two ships would need to meet up and Banshee would institute the new override, which would be carried to the other ship by Shrike. This meant shrike got to spend some quality time with Boom.

In fact, everyone got to spend a lot of quality time with each other. It’s amazing nobody killed anyone else. There was much roleplaying.

When they finally found the wreckage, they swam out to retrieve their prize: A large octopus. It had allegedly been quite small originally, but its growth was of no consequence. Tock informed the team that they’d only need one of its tentacles, not the entire creature. They could always grow a new one if they had a big enough sample. So the team fought a magical octopus underwater, the octopus occasionally lighting up and sending out some kind of magical pulse to hit everyone around it. But they successfully killed it, removed two tentacles (one for each ship) and carried their cargo during the week journey home.

As an interesting side note, despite it sitting in a room on a submarine for a whole week’s journey, the tentacle didn’t ever seem to begin to rot or smell.

The team made it home safely, gave up the tentacle, and were given payment as well as owndership of the submarine (which is actively being sought by Ares Macrotechnology).

SUNKEN TREASURE
Runners: Banshee, Shrike, 1412
Mr. Johnson: Tick Tock Boom
Date: November 2072
Run Time: ~month
Retrieved: Magical Octopus Bits
Payoff: ¥35,000 each
Karma: 8 (+1 Survival, +1 Objective, +1 Threat, +4 Roleplaying , +1 Plot)

Session Quotes:

“Do I need to roll for embarrassment to get in that car?”

“So, three chicks in a purple minivan roll up to the docks blasting troll metal and hyped up on Halloween candy. One is angry, one is excited, and one is subdued.”

Shrike: “Forced Optimism – The story of Shrike’s Life.”
Banshee: “Justified Pessimism – The story of Banshee’s Life.”
1412: “Disassociation…..”

Shrike: “I like your optimism, that’s the spirit!”
Banshee: “Don’t touch me.”

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Guns, Guts, and Ghouls
Why Eiji should never leave the kids alone

Before the session began, Talia (Eiji’s Daughter) snuck out to a club with her two best friends, and while they were there an unrelated event involving some runners meeting with their Johnson lead to Talia getting exposed to some unknown chemical. She was quickly admitted to the hospital with an unknown magically active disease. The frantic search for a cure was why Eiji missed most of the session, and why Boom met with the team instead of Tock.

Boom called the group in for a job, explaining that this one would be an information gathering job more than anything else. The payment would depend on how much the group found out. All that was known was there had been a slowly growing rise in the number of missing persons, and certain gangs were branching into territories they didn’t normally touch. The group was sent to find out what was going on.

Shrike called in some of her contacts and managed to get a lead. The Halloweeners had apparently been doing some work for Tamanous, presumably through the Disassemblers and the 162s, though the full details of the arrangement were “need to know.” Raja did manage to get Shrike a card that had “Tamanous Drop, Warehouse B, Rear Entrance 162958 BY 11, DO NOT BE LATE” written on it. Using some logical and some map-search-fu, the team locates a warehouse that they believe could be the drop site.

The area has signs of ghouls, and as the team goes in to investigate Sy-Wren manages to critical glitch a climb check to get onto the roof. She twists her ankle and sends several boxes crashing down, bringing a hoard of ghouls rushing onto the scene. Shrike (with Banshee’s Holodisc) hang back, Sy-Wren miraculously manages to make it to the roof, but CopyKat is stuck between a hoard of ghouls and the warehouse door (behind which they’ve discovered is an armored ghoul sitting at a desk). She decides to take her chances with the intelligent ghoul over the hoard.

She bashes the door open and casts a powerful manabolt.

The Ghoul takes it, stands up, presses an alarm button on his desk, and fires once. The round rips into her chest and she falls against the door as it closes behind her, conscious just long enough to “nice shot.”

The team, hearing a single gunshot and CopyKat’s words on com, immediately starts to panic. They try to shoot at ghouls to get them away, but there’s no way in hell they’ll be able to get to her in time to stop the bleeding.

Eiji and 1412 miraculously show up in that instant (Kenny literally running red lights to arrive to the session where characters are allegedly dying). A fight goes down, but everyone knows it’s going to be too late.

Eiji rips through the locked door with his Nodachi, destroying it in the process. He bursts in and mercilessly kills the ghoul, but Copykat is nowhere to be seen. He then bursts into the back room, which is comprised of rows of prison cells, each one featuring a restraints attached to the back wall and a table. In some cells humans lie on the tables and other metahuman variants are shackled to walls. In some the humans are conscious and the other metahuman variants are bloody messes. At the far end, one human has her mouth to CopyKat’s neck. CopyKat crumples to the ground as Eiji bursts in, and without a second thought the woman in the cage gets shot in the head.

While Eiji retrieves CopyKat, the team works on freeing the prisoners locked in the two cages in the front room. They ask for a volunteer to come back with them, and when a dwarf tentatively raises his hand Eiji walks back into the room and kills him. He then leaves the party to take CopyKat, somehow barely alive, to the hospital to be resuscitated and to run HMHVV tests.

The rest of the group goes their separate ways, not sure how to cope with the night’s disaster.

Runners: Banshee, CopyKat, Shrike, Sy-Wren, Twitchy Dan*, 1412*
Mr. Johnson: Tock
Date: 10-30-2072
Run Time: A day
Casualties: CopyKat
Retrieved: News of a Vampire Factory, One Newly Created Vampire
Payoff:
Karma: 5 (+1 Survival-ish, 1 Objective fulfilled, +2 Threat Level, +1 Roleplaying (extra +1 for Eiji))

Session Quotes:

“With no dad around, Shrike becomes mom. But she’s a cool mom.”

“Critical Glitch.”
“You Bitch.”
“Critical Bitch.”

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High Risk, Low Stakes Negotiations
Is it stealing if they stole it first?

Mr. Johnson, who was Boom for this run, as Tock (who he accidentally revealed the name of) was “away on other business.” The job was simple: Valefar had their eyes on something, but a runner team stole it. When they went to deliver it, their Johnson tried to betray them, so given that this other team (not affiliated with H.A.T.) had an item and no way to fence it, Valefar tasked the group with retrieving it. The means were unimportant.

The team first considered stealing it, but after locating and scouting out the other team’s hideout decided trying to steal from a bunch of runners who were already expecting trouble would only end in a lot of bloodshed. And given that, up to this point, the team had only ever fought drones, and most of the fighting was done by Eiji, they figured it would likely not be the other team’s blood that was shed. So they got the Face’s number and tried to contact him. That didn’t quite pan out well, so they found themselves needing an intermediary for the negotiations.

Enter Jackie Finn, host of a “strictly fictional” radio show focused on negotiations between shadowrunners. They get connected and begin negotiating prices. It becomes clear that, whatever mess the other team has gotten themselves into, it isn’t good. They had been banking on their Johnson giving them the payment, which they needed in order to finish an unrelated run. Instead, they had found themselves up a crystal they couldn’t sell, out the payment, and down a teammate/friend. This proved to make an interesting negotiating platform, as they were desperate (a plus for our team), but also strictly unwilling to drop beneath a certain price (a minus for our team), but also sad and scared (which is a minus for our team because most of them are sentimental saps). Despite our runners’ sentimental side, they played shrewd negotiators and managed to barter the other team down below their minimum. Payment details were made and the team picked the crystal up later from the radio station.

The Crystal, after being assensed, exhibited some strange properties. It appeared to be some kind of astral energy converter or channeler, taking in magical energy in one form and somehow modifying it before it left. Like a lens of sorts. Precisely what kind of magical energy it could take in, and what it would do to it, remained unclear.

The team gave Boom the crystal, received payment, and sent a fruit basket to the now known address of the other team. They’ve never followed up on it though, as it’s apparently better to just believe that the other team is happy and fine than to risk finding out that they’re not and admitting that if the other team is all dead it’s probably at least in part due to the shrewd negotiations.

HIGH RISK, LOW STAKES NEGOTIATIONS
Runners: 1412, Banshee, CopyKat, Shrike, Sy-Wren, Twitchy Dan
Mr. Johnson: Boom
Date: 9-23-2072
Run Time: 2 Days
Casualties: None
Retrieved: One Weird Crystal, One New Favorite Morning Radio DJ
Payoff:
Karma: 6 (+1 Survival, +1 Run Completion, +1 Roleplaying, +3 First Session Bonus)

Session Quotes:

“Are there black market payment plans?”

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Guidelines Not Included
The infamous "Arrested for Warcrimes" incident

Mr. Johnson explained that their organization had tracked down a lead towards the betrayal of one of their teams. Said lead wasn’t presumed to have been involved, but was connected and knew information that he wasn’t giving up. He was a researcher by the name of Lucas Went at a drone development company. The party was instructed to not harm him, but to show him that Valefar could thoroughly ruin his life if he wasn’t compliant. “Destroy his research” was one suggestion, but no hard requirements other than not directly injuring him were given.

The team started by scoping out the building, which seemed to be going well until right as they started sneaking in the front door a security drone crash landed right next to them. Panicked, the team rushed in. After dicking around in his lab and the security office they go to make their escape only to find that between them and the front door are a ton of simple security drones. Eiji rips through most of them single handedly, the team finishes off the rest, and they bolt. They don’t really feel like they’ve accomplished their goal, though, as the rush of everything meant they couldn’t do a thorough job.

So they track down Lucas’s home address and break into his place while he’s out. Just inside the door they’re nailed by two security drones with some nasty chemical weapons. They break the drones and bail before Lone Star can show up in response to the alarm. Lone Star shows up, discovers the drones and lingering chemical sprays, and arrests Lucas Went for possession of drones dispensing highly illegal chemical warfare.

Given that their job was to “show that Valefar could ruin his life” not “actually ruin his life” The Heterochromatic Elf gives them next to nothing in payment and remarks that they’ll never get a run with this much room for creativity again.

GUIDELINES NOT INCLUDED
Runners: 1412, Banshee, Shrike, Sy-Wren, Twitchy Dan
Mr. Johnson: Heterochromatic Elf
Date: 8-26-2072
Run Time: 16 hours
Casualties: None
Retrieved: Two Severe Injuries, Over a dozen Beat Up Drones, and One War Criminal
Payoff: Jack All
Karma: 5 (+1 Survival, +1 Roleplaying, +3 First Session Bonus)

Session Quotes:

“I’d rather not work out a plan in the middle of a job.”
“Isn’t that our specialty?”

“I mean, she’s pretty petite but she could crush a medium sized cantaloupe between her thighs” – Concerning Shrike

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