Lost in the Shadows

Marketing Disaster (Parts 2 and 3)
June 26-27, 2076

The job wasn’t what anyone on the team would call ideal, certainly. Hypotheses about the nature of the Johnson and the sort of betrayal he presaged began immediately.

Calling of contacts, schmoozing with Ares IT guys and the sending of watchers resulted in a slightly clearer picture, if only by process of elimination.

-Nobody in Ares seemed to be talking to anyone else. Marketing
-A list of players began to emerge, Glen Cavendish, Sr.VP and certifiable nutter, who’s fingerprints had been on this project from day one, Dietrich Sibich, Cavendish’s personal guru, Dr. Perkin Warbeck, head of research and development, and his rivalry with Alanna Wolf, head of Commercial Products, Abdul-Nasser Ahmedi, the new head of IT, replacing the burnt-out John Reinhardt, still cleaning house. And none of these departments seem to know a gorram thing about anything. Except Cavendish.
-A call to Ahmedi (Ashoka’s cousin) reveals that one of his new hires has a record, and a chip on his shoulder. And might have Kooba. One Dunkelzahn Mataano, street hacker hired off the streets of Denver.

Then the Vampires attacked. A conventional hit-team of Vampires struck at Valkyrie, Forge, Vex and Ashoka while leaving Ashoka’s Ashram. A quick battle resulted and the Vampires were easily vanquished. They vanished with their gear.

Vex’s psychometry revealed an obscure Caucasus Mountain language (Mingrelian) and a Nosferatu. Their gear was Evo made. Tentative leads from contacts indicated that disposable ethnic vampire troops was an old Russian Special Forces tactic and that the Irena Volkova, head of the local Evo division, kept a Nosferatu as her personal head of security.

The day that followed was about fleshing out the information they’d already gathered. More watchers led them to the heavily-guarded Fern Park Dow Laboratory, which lay in the fiefdom of Carrie Hunter, Ares corporate hot-shot with a sketchy title and too many bosses.

Dunkelzahn Mataano turned out to have been out of circulation for several weeks, while he pursued his own personal conspiracy researches. Including Kooba. And the Mayor.

The team began to play to make contact with Mataano and set up a date with him at a local cafe.

The evening of the 27th, Ginebig went into the Ares IT Matrix to hack Mataano’s system and initiate contact with him. Which, for Ginebig, is where it all started to go wrong…

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Run 8 - Marketing Disaster
June 26, 2076

Ginebig’s journal-

Those damned Kooba ads have been clogging spam filters for the past month. Some of them have even made it through, despite my best efforts. Not my filters, mind you, but I’ve been patching others’ firewalls on a semi-daily basis just to keep up with the evolving algorithms ACS [hypertext – Ares Consumer Services ] has been using to push their product.

A week before the launch of this over-hyped bullshit, we get the call. Someone had found one of Forge’s contacts and recruited us. It turns out that for some people curiosity can overcome the truly overwhelming annoyance of the marketing.

Our meet was in a progressive and accepting {emote- sarcasm} bar called the “Dancing Ghost”, just outside of Fort Snelling. The Johnson was an out-of-place wageslave; any real skill he had was recorded and wired in. The job description was simple: someone wanted the dark on Kooba before it was unveiled to the public. Top cred for prototype; plans also acceptable.

I’d like to say that Vex nailed the poor sucker to the wall in price negotiations, but by all appearances this guy had no idea what he was doing. It wasn’t even fair. Not that I like fair, mind you, but the ease in which the money came was setting off warning bells.

The whole situation stinks. Prediction agents are registering a minimum of 30.7% [0.307 – 0.561 confidence interval, r-sq 0.874] of employer backlash.

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Run 7: Intercept Play (Part the last)
June 5, 2076

Want to know how you do a shadowrun up in the big leagues? Let me lay it out for you:

Step 1, suborn (ie get really drunk and then mind-whammy) the rapid response team to the arcology you’re hitting to find out their security procedures.

Step 2, hire your old rigger buddy to fly the chopper for this improbable heist.

Step 3, have your decker hack the shit out of their repair drones on the sly, drugging the air filters in their armor.

Step 4, fake an emergency within range of said team’s clubhouse so they have to don aforementioned armor and breath deep the happy juice you put there.

Step 5, hilarity.

Step 6, have one of your sammies snipe the target’s building, forcing his people to rush towards the helipad.

(Step 6.5, make sure said sammie knows to get the frag outta there)

Step 7, arrive, in one of the rapid-response team’s choppers and their uniforms and RFID tags, ready to ‘save the day’.

Step 8, take out the target’s companions. The Sammie with guns is good for this. The Mage with an overpowered adhesion spell is also effective. If mind-bendingly terrifying.

Step 9, have the social adept mind whammy the target into the chopper, render unconscious, stuff in box.

Step 10, have the PhysAd and Mage kick the angry bodyguard spirit’s astral ass out of the chopper before it crashes the chopper or steals back the target.

(Step 10.5, never speak of how the SocAd got mind-whammied EVER AGAIN!)

Step 11, GTFO

Step 12, Profit.

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

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Run 7: Intercept Play (part 2)
June 1-2, 2076

Being a professional Shadowrunner is a lot like being a college student. And not just in the sense of having a constant, low-grade hangover.

But also, the more you stay up doing your homework, the better you generally do.

Ginebig does his homework. 7 Accounts. 3 Nodes. 18 hours of hacking. But he got the goods. He has the target’s personnel file. He knows where their target is. He knows his schedule. He knows everything that’s on the Matrix. The security arrangements are on PANIC (Physical Access Network for Information Control) system, the physical information system Evo uses internally.

This information sparks thought, the party begins to plot in earnest…

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Run 7: Intercept Play (part 1)
June 1, 2076

When corporations war, shadowrunners profit.

Vex’s nameless contact got in touch with Vex to gather his team and talk to a Johnson. They meet at the First Avenue’s side room with a Johnson that seemed to be more machine than even most suits. He had a simple job for him. Evo was sending their chief local Auditor, a technomancer named Kayado Shoji up to Zurich Orbital to deliver a formal complaint against Ares, cosigned by several other local corps. Mr. Johnson wanted to pay the Team to make sure Mr. Kayado did not arrive.

Upon taking the job, the prep work begins. They research his life, his accommodations, all the usual. They start gathering supplies and making plans. This is the 90% Preparation that leads to the 10% Inspiration…

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Run 6: Monster Mash
May 22-24, 2076

So the Guthrie was re-opening and there was this soiree planned. Important people and self-important people gathering. New exhibits. An international superstar (DJ Bijan) performing. None of which means anything to our anti-heroes… until they are hired to be the onsite security. So they spring into action, get all set to keep things running smoothly. Forge working the door. Vex working the crowd. Ashoka on magical security. Ginebig managing the overall security system (onsite no less!). Valkyrie undercover as a guest.

Everything was going well until Ginebig was overwhelmed on the security matrix. Simultaneously two mages appear at the two exits. Casting wreck on one door and melt on the other. Then suddenly one of the exhibits (a set of huge concrete statues) came to life and began dancing. Yay Guerilla Art? Ashoka tried to intervene by casting Glue Strip on the mages, but ended up knocking himself out with drain. Unfortunately one of the guests was trampled by a statue… and then another.

So action was required. Vex used his unique skills to gain information from one of the guests (Jasper Jay) who seemed to know what was going on. Valkyrie’s date and a “friend” went to work on the door while Vex & Valkyrie took meds to go on a Metaplaner Quest to confront Mister Dada, the Free Spirit that was behind the animation of the exhibit. Forge watched their meat. After a crazy trip they were able to confront the spirit and make the dancing stop. So all in all a pretty good night (except for the dying).

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Run 5: Unreal Estate (Part 4)
April 29- May 9 2076

Ever hear the phrase “Victim of your own success”? Sometimes a shadowteam does their job a little too well.

That’s what happened with the Insect Spirit Hoax. Within hours of it going public, and with agents of Knight Errant’s elite SMART unit on scene confirming its validity, the city went into panic mode and Mayor Bergen nearly gave Ares the green-light to declare martial law over the whole of the Webber-Camden area. Fortunately, a bit of fancy footwork and rumor-mongering managed to get the other area Megacorps (Evo, Horizon, Aztechnology) to threaten to file a complaint to the Corporate Court and quash the move.

-The media drops on sex offenders, landfills, graveyard collapse and the like panicked the locals, making them susceptible to buyout and the promises of security.
-The gang war between the Al-Shabaab and Black Fangs completely fails to materialize. In fact, the Black Fangs are strangely quiet in general, and also make no move to persecute the People’s Builder’s Union in Crystal Lake.
-Regardless, the freezing of their assets in an ongoing investigation about their involvement with the Phan Duc “Duckiegate” Scandal, forces the PBU central committee to suspend activities for the moment.
-Valkyrie has to abandon the street racing in Stahgrenville when it was discovered that undercover KE officers had infiltrated the operation. Fortunately there’s been no fallout from that. Yet.
-The war between NoMA and ViMil on the other hand, is a spectacular success. Again, maybe a bit too successful…

The result is a split decision. A new Merchant’s Association, this one led by community leader Calvin Kue organizes a buyout of the Cassidy Park area, maintaining rights to the concessions from Dick Cassidy Park, in return for increased KE presence to quell the ongoing Block War between Cassidy Park and Victory, while Webber and Crystal Lake fall to the “Locus Zero” group, apparently the front for the Team’s employer, because they do still get paid their percentage.

This marks an end point for one of the team. Lilu took her bankroll and retired from the game to run her ailing father’s auto shop, proving that there is always a way out of the shadows… for those who want it…

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Run 5: Unreal Estate (Part 3)
April 28-29 2076

The team’s plan proceed apace:
-Valkyrie and her rigger contact continue street racing in northern Webber-Camden at unfortunate hours of the morning.
-Vex executes the next step of his plan to draw Al-Shabaab, the Black Fangs, and ‘Captain’ Joanne Knutson’s newly-unified NoMA (North Minneapolis Merchant’s Association) militia into a three way fight. The Al-Shabaab were incited to move on the Fangs, who are loosely aligned with NoMA, the Fangs were incited against the PBU indirectly, and the ViMil, the militia of the neighboring Victory neighborhood, was given literature connecting the NoMA with the Humanis Policlub… stir well, bake for 30 minutes and serve.
-North Star Credit Union freezes the assets of the People’s Builder’s Union for possible connections with fugitive embezzler and former head of the Merchant’s Association Phan Duc “Duckie”
-Datasofts implicating a sex offender half-way house and a landfill being built in the area, and a fake geological survey indicating that the area beneath the graveyard is highly susceptible to becoming a sinkhole due to the nature of the gravedigging and proximity to the river is put together.
-And finally… what promises to be the piece de resistance an elaborate hoax that includes calling out Knight Errant on fake calls to make it look like they’re responding to something and then plant false evidence of a Termite Spirit incursion at the Glassworks.

Vex finally did his search of the Stahlgrenville area, discovering that there was a crisis of confidence in the local head of Ares Agribusiness, Glen Cavendish.

Ashoka brought a possible extra bonus in the form of lost magic, which a search managed to narrow down to the abandoned Camden Industrial Park area.

And finally, Valkyrie, trying to start some trouble, tried to kidnap a militia guy, only to realize she’d tried to jump Jo Knutson’s hired Shadowrunner, Red Rover, but backed off when she realized she had made a mistake…

Next Time: The Payoff!

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Run 5: Unreal Estate (Part 2)
April 25-27 2076

The run continues. Collar left for parts unknown. Ashoka was brought, with some reservations, onto the job. Vex went on an information gathering binge, and gathered a remarkable amount of information about the neighborhoods, their fears and the gang situation.

Evidence came to light, thanks to Ginebig, that Phan Duc “Duckie”, head of the local Merchant’s Association, had been embezzling. The irony is that Duckie actually HAD been embezzling, just not as much or as clumsily as Ginebig made it look. Duckie’s gone and the Merchant Protection Society (the Association’s militia) has been taken under the wing of the Cassidy Park militia under Joanne “Jo” Knutson.

Oh, and Vex took a trip to Camden Industrial Park, to visit with Al-Shabaab, pretending to be from the dominent Black Fangs gang…

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Run 5: Unreal Estate (Part 1)
April 25, 2076

There’s a moment in any successful runner’s career when they know, just know, they’ve reached that next level. The party is contacted through Collar to meet at the elite nightspot Je Ne Sais Quoi, an exclusive and expensive French restaurant. There, after a fair bit of shopping for the appropriate tres chic outfits, they arrive to find the restaurant empty, except for their host, the enigmatic and gorgeous Ms. Johnson. After a lovely dinner, she hires them for a run to lower the property values in the Webber Camden neighborhood of North Minneapolis so that her employers can buy it cheap and sell it back to the city dear. Vex negotiates her up to 1.5% of the profit margin made from this venture as their pay.

They began to research, each in their own way. Webber Camden is a working class neighborhood south of the General Mills plant, an Ares stronghold and the territory of numerous gangs and militias, as well as the Vang Family of the Minneapolis Combination. Unions, policlubs and a newly-formed Merchant’s Association are at work here. The River Rats, a minor league baseball team is based out of Dick Cassidy Field, has just been sold from Ares to local hands. The team debated many different approaches, sabotaging garbage pick-up, a plague of Devil Rats, gang war etc. etc.

Meanwhile, Ginebig was busy on a project of his own, a plot to bring down Phan “Duckie” Duc, liquor store owner, head of the Merchant Association, militia leader and de facto owner of the River Rats….

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