Tales from the Edge (Steve's Punk - Bruce's view)

Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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How to be Unemployed in 2020
The Hangover

January 1st 2020

“Hey Cowboy..”

I swear I’m never drinking like that again. How many voices across this city are saying that this morning.

“Hey Cowboy”…

That’s John, John Paladin. What the hell is John doing here. Ok peel open an eye and look around. Walls. Bare Floor. Chair. How did I get in this chair?

“Fuck”

Where the hell am I? This is not where I remember…

“Fuck”

Why the hell can’t I remember anything? Ok, no more tequila, like ever. Peel the eye open again Bruce.

“John, where the hell are we?”

“Warehouse”

“Fuck. My mouth tastes like floor.”

“There’s a bathroom over there. But I wouldn…t”

“Oh God, what a shit hole. This place looks almost as bad as my mouth tastes.” Gargling with water, good. Don’t look too closely. Spit.

After some bird bath splashes, and pulling hair back, almost human again. Shrug back into the duster, put the hat on. Ahh..that’s better. Quick check in the mirror, not bad. Thank god for the sunglasses. Crash, rattle, clatter, thump What was that?

A quick peek outside, John’s gone. Who the fuck was that going around the corner. Take a peek. Hell, that’s Kowalski. How did he get here? Then again, we’re still working on where ‘here’ is.

Young women screaming

“Hell what now!?”

Is Kowolski sticking his finger in the door jam? Oh right, finger camera on his cybernetic hand.

“Six girls in there”.

Six girls…Oh fuck… I’m not certain what’s worse, not remembering or remembering. Well, upside is a bullet in the brain would improve my headache. Ok brain, get to work. Piece it all together…

Turns out Esteban’s been moving more than just drugs and some guns. No, wait, at this point its Pacheco, first names are for friends. Dirty low life asshole. Then what am I, I probably helped and never knew it. Gotta make amends. Head to Pacheco’s. Confront him..no wait. Make a couple of calls first. Call Paladin and Kowalski, then head to Pacheco’s. I could live the rest of my life without seeing that sneer on his face. Guess I’m going to have to live with it from now on. BANG So much for his face, thank god for Sam Colt. Pacheco’s goons dead, girls in the van. Outta here, gotta lay low. Won’t be long til Pacheco’s boss finds out. That’s when my head explodes….

Ok, so that’s where I was last night…Fantastic.

Distantly, “Back off Troop…”

Who the hell is that? Where’s John? peering out the door Ah, the van, handy. Gotta get moving again. Need to chat with the girls on the way home, find out more about Pacheco’s crew see if I can’t start to make this right. Hell, need to make a call.

God I hate voicemail… “Um, Hi its me. I just wanted to make sure you were ok. I found out some stuff about Esteban, some bad stuff. Human trafficking bad, just need to know you are ok. Umm, drop me a note or call some time. Um, thanks.”

Was that Dragon crawling out of a duffle bag? Yep, it was. Apparently I called everyone. Really no more tequila for me. How am I going to pay all of these folks. Oh fuck, I’m unemployed. Ok, I did handle most of the money laundering, going to have to hit the banks later. Oh hell, when did I turn into Leo Getz?

Focus Bruce.

Gathering around the van now that some bikers have moved on. “Good morning campers, I have some excellent news and some less than excellent news. Who wants what?”

“Just get on with it.”

That’s John, right to the point.

“Well, the good news is I’m remembering more of last night. Additionally we’ve rescued 6 young women from abduction, rape, torture and a life in human bondage.”

“The bad news?”

“We stole them from the Tijuana cartel. Shot the local head man in the face and his boss might be in town and is a sniper with a price on his head.”

“Great..”

“I know, I know. I’ll find some way to make this right. We just need to get the girls outta here and back home.”

“I need to go pick up a care package.”

Well that’ll be interesting, Pacheco’s own guns vs Pacheco’s boss’s goons. Seems fair. I wonder who the old man and the chick are? Why are they here? Who’s the dude with the camera?

“Erik, pleased to meet you.” Good handshake, firm, but not a who’s going to crush who. Guess I know who belongs to the camera now.

“We’ve got to go.” Apparently the old man came with Eric. Sensible, I’d want to go to, if I didn’t have responsibilities.

“I’m not going anywhere, and its my SUV”. Hmm..a throw down…going to edge just a little further away now. Old man is steamed, and there he goes muttering something about picking up some cash.

Time to get on it Bruce. Need information. Who ya gonna call? Amanda of course.

“Hey Ice, what’s the cut to the front of the line price this morning?”

“Gawd, do you know how early this is? yawn This is gonna cost you, 250. You’ve got my account number?”

“Yeah”

“Ok, yawn what do you need? Cars, well humvee’s the Russian ones, the ugly ones. Probably in the waterfront district.”

“Is that all…” a brief but pregnant silence. “Looks like three of them, driving a pattern. Lots of men inside, men with guns.”

“Wonderful, thanks.” with a sigh.

“Want me to call the cops?”

“Sure”

“OK”

“Thanks”

Calling the cops, good idea. Regular cops are going to get smoked, too much fire power. Maybe C-swat? Description with some cyber and crazed lunatics, that might do it. Ok, game time. 9-1-1.

“911, what is the nature of your emergency”
“Its guys with guns, they just ran over someone.”
“You saw a murder?”
“No, some goons just clipped this guy walking his dog. They were armed, with those riffles from the movies.”
“From the movies?”
“Yes, umm.. assault riffles, the Russian ones. A couple of them, had these big scary looking arms.”
“Thank you sir, can you stay on the line?”
“Yes”
“Thank you” click

Ok, now how to get the girls out of here. Maybe John will have an idea or Kowalski… Oh, John’s back with a big bag. Hell I forgot how much gear that was, and that’s just one cache. John’s armoring up. Folks grabbing guns.

“We’ve got company”..

Great the old man from scene 24 is back and with good news and in armor. Ah he meant a cache not cash, god I could use some coffee. Fantastic. I’d better get in and talk to the girls, these ‘walls’ won’t stop a sneeze let alone bullets. This one doesn’t look too scared.

“Ok Ladies, listen up. Its about to get pretty loud in here. I want you all to lay flat on the floor and keep your heads down. You, here take this. Its pretty simple to use. If anyone who isn’t me comes in this door, point it at them and squeeze the trigger. Got that? … Good.” God she looks terrified. Come to think of it so am I, but somethings have to be repayed.

I’ll slip over here to the door. Muffled shouting Kowalski. gun fire Holy hell is that loud in here. Peer through the door jam.One, two, three, four. Lovely. More gun fire Yup, still loud as hell. Quick peek, then there were three, and they’re all just a little bunched up.

“Twas brillig in the slivey toves, did gyre and gimble in the wabe, all mimsy were the borro goves and the mome wraths out grabe.. and with his vorpal sword in hand..” A power sabre slicing through cervical vertebra with a wet crunching sound “And with its head he went galumphing back…” Now there is two.

Parry. Riposte. Right through the chest. One to go. Holy crap, Dragon just dented the back of that guys helmet…from the front. That’s going to leave a mark. And now there is none.

The squeal of torn metal

Oh hell, the back door’s open now. That’ll be Edgardo I’d bet. <spanish> “Blah blah blah, asshole. Blah blah blah death. Blah blah kill”. Yup that’s him alright. Sounds like he’s off to the right, I’ll just mosey over to this door. Inhale, exhale, wait for it. Paladin has grenades. BOOM Fuck and I thought gunfire was loud. Open the door and through, dash, gotta get close while they’re stunned. Fuck this floor is slippery…oh god. Outside before I puke. A car, probably one more in it. Fucking hell that light’s bright. Rotors? Edgardo doesn’t have choppers. Oh, I’m deaf..put down the sword, put up the hands. Lay down on the ground, at least the ground’s cool.

Ok, gotta snap out of it, yes that’s Edgardo on my boots. He was a bad man, died badly. Live by the sword and all that. Now gotta keep these folks out of harms way. Cops, media, all of it. At least the cops will take care of the girls and get them home for sure. Talk to the officers, slowly ease everyone out of the way. Good just down to me now. Statements, permit checks, girls home. At least not a total loss.

Ok off to the banks before it all goes walk about. Yes yes, I’m sorry to be closing my account too. I understand there is paperwork, certainly that would be nice. One, two, three
and four. Accounts cleaned. Eight Hundred grand scary amount of money. Gotta pay the folks, gotta find out more about the other girls, gotta establish new contacts. I’ve got a war
that needs fighting…

Ringing phone “Hello”.

“Hey its me. Do you want some fish?”

Fuck Kowalski. “Fish?”

“Yeah, I umm, I sort of took the ones from Hari Kari’s up on High Street?”

“You what?”

“I sort of kidnapped the fish…”

“Holy fuck, dude and you have them at your place. Ok get a trash bag, no 2 trash bags. Scoop the bastards up and as much water as you can carry and go dump them in the nearest manhole. Now, move it. They’re low jacked.”

Freaking designer fish, and Kowalski kidnaps them. Fuck me. Hopefully he gets rid of them before the Yak find him. Scumbags on bikes with katana, not fun. At least its a demilitarized zone he lives in, it’ll slow them down a bit until they can travel in packs.

Time passes….

Ring “Hello? Yes, that’s me. Oh you were able to prove it was Edgardo. There is? How much of one? Really? Me?! Yes I can come down and fill out papers. Today around 1 be ok? Fantastic, see you then.”

“Two million Euro, dead or alive.” Now what to do?

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Through the Eyes of the Demon
Session One

I’m not sure if it’s the lurching back-and-forth swerving of the vehicle, the screeching of the tires, or the throbbing in my head (really gonna have to hunt down the salesman who sold me on the whole “drink all you want” line when I bought these toxin binders) that wakes me up. The slurred “oh, god, I think I’m gonna puke” from my right sounds vaguely like Maggie “Painless” Eaglebear… why the hell are we in the back seat of an SUV doing a vehicular duck-and-weave through traffic in the middle of the night?!? Oh, and who the hell is the schmuck doing the “driving”??

“Where are we?” Holy shit, was that MY voice??

“Erik…?” Maggie’s starting to sound more like herself… sort of.

“Oh, hey, hi…” That’s the “driver”, looking over his shoulder in between trying to bounce the SUV off every vehicle in sight. “Hey, listen, I’m sorry to involve you guys in this…” Oooohh, this doesn’t sound like it’s gonna be good… “I got a call from John, Mags, and he said he was in the middle of something big, needed some help, and maybe a doctor, so I thought of you, and when I found you guys, well, your friend here,” why’s he looking at my hands? “Well, you guys seemed to obviously know how to handle yourselves, sooooo, well, I brought him along… sorry.”

Now I’m looking at my hands… and Maggie’s… Since MY face doesn’t hurt, and hers doesn’t have any bruises on it, I can’t help but wonder who’s face DOES have the bruises…

“Where the hell are we going?”

“To the docks, the warehouse district.” Can’t help but give Mags that sidelong ‘you gotta be fucking kidding me’ kinda look.

Ten minutes later we slide around the corner of a warehouse and stop nose-to-nose with a beatup pickup truck sitting outside a roll-up warehouse door… lights are on, doors are open, engine’s running… the standard entryway door is wide open, and it’s dark inside. Before I can get my seatbelt undone, Erik’s out of the SUV, camera in-hand, and charging in through the open door. Sliding from the vehicle, I haul the chrome-plated Malorian out of the shoulder rig and feel my adrenaline spike just a hair as the livewires snake out of my wrist and plug themselves into the hand-cannon. I slip easily and naturally into a tactical combat breaching stance and glance over my shoulder to see Maggie doing the same.

We melt into the shadows of the darkened hallways, following sounds of a scuffle, and come upon a trio of raggedy Cent-Am biker vets failing miserably in their attempt to put a beatdown on a lone “victim” who’s apparently half zipped in a duffle bag on the floor. Even mostly wrapped up, this guy’s obviously got the upper hand… these three idiots are SO outta their league, and they have absolutely no clue just HOW far. We take up a quiet stance still in the dark of the hallway, ‘cause at this point, I’m content to wait and watch these three morons get the whoopin’ they apparently deserve. But, when one of them pulls a weapon and is about to go after his bound and prostrate would-be victim, well, that I can’t allow. Three on one is bad enough, but when you STILL have to play dirty to win, and are lookin to actually kill the guy because he’s too tough for you to beat three-on-one, well…

“Stand down, troop, or I put two in your back!” I give it my best DI voice as I step from the shadows. Gets everybody’s attention, just like it should… good to know I haven’t lost my touch. Just about the same time, from the hallway at the other side of the room, another big silhouette appears holding a sidearm, also drawing down on the vets.

“That’ll be enough’a that, mate,” he says, the English accent impossible to miss. “Snap, you ok in there?”

“Just fine, thanks,” comes a voice from the floor as the man in the bag casually extricates himself and stands up.

“And where are the girls?” English asks. Girls?

“What girls?!?” asks one of the scumbags.

“The ones we heard screaming, those girls.”

“Screaming girls??” I ask. "Screaming girls… maybe I SHOULD just put a couple rounds in you and call it a day.

“H-hey, look, guys, we don’t know nothin about no girls! We don’t want no trouble, we was just gonna teach HIM a lesson,” one of the scumbags says, pointing at the rasta-lookin dude from the bag.

“So, what, it takes three of you jagoffs to teach one guy a lesson? And you have to tie him up first to do it?? Yeah, the combat vets I know don’t roll that way.”

“He was givin us a bunch’a shit last night, man, we just wanted to get some back, that’s all!”

“Well, it looks like you were gettin more than you gave, dumbass… you had enough, or you want some more? That is,” I pause to look at the man from the bag, “if this gentleman here wants more’a you?” I watch the guy step from the bag and drop into a relaxed fighting stance with an amused smirk on his face.

“Ready when you are, gentlemen.”

Just about then, there’s a gunshot and definite female screams from further into the warehouse, at which point the three scumbags bolt for direction of the beatup truck, and the rest of us, myself, Maggie, English, rasta-dude, and Erik all head off in the direction of the new hubbub.

We round the corner into the main loading bay of the warehouse where there’s a near antique panel van parked inside the roll-up, five or six Asian teenage girls in club-party getups, a young edgerunner-type, and a hispanic guy in a fedora carrying a walking stick… oh, and a dead guy with an extra hole in his face.

“Two? Cowboy? You good?” English asks.

“Ask quick-draw, over there,” the edgerunner says with a twitchy wave towards the guy in the fedora. English glances at fedora and then at the body on the floor.

“Esteban?” he asks.

“Yeah…” says fedora with a sigh.

“And the girls?” Fedora’s face turns hard.

“It seems that Esteban… scratch that… Pacheco was involved in human trafficking.” Oooohh, no… tell me he didn’t really just say that name…

“Erik,” Maggie says, glancing from the crowd to our “driver”… “what’s going on??”

“Paladin… sorry, John,” Erik says, indicating English, “called me and said something big was going down and that he, or somebody, might need a doctor, so I thought of you. He said he and TwoSnakes (edgerunner guy) were meeting Cowboy (fedora) and needed me to be here… so, here we are.”

“Ok, just to clarify,” I interjected, turning to Cowboy and easing my sidearm into its holster as Paladin and Maggie did the same, “you DID say ‘Esteban Pacheco’, right? Did I hear that right?”

“Yeah…” Cowboy nodded, still staring at the body.

“We need to go,” I said flatly to Maggie. “Right now,” directed more at Erik than anyone else.

“Well, you’re going to have to walk out of here,” Erik said, almost tauntingly as he dangled his keys in front of us, " ‘cause it’s my SUV, and I’m not leaving." The urge to clock him was nearly overwhelming.

“Excuse me??”

“Erik, what were you thinking??” Maggie asked, apparently trying desperately to figure out why her boyfriend had just assumed it was ok to bring her and her employer’s security specialist to a warehouse and involve them in something like this.

“What was I thinking??” He said in exasperation. “I was thinking about how I’ve covered this kind of horrific shit for years, never able to do anything about it… well, now, I can do something about it… so, I’m doing something.”

“And so, you brought us here,” I said, seething, “your own girlfriend, and involved her not only in disrupting the business of the Tijuana cartel, but the death of one of their lieutenants??”

“I made a choice,” he said, with just a tad too much defiance. I almost couldn’t believe my ears, and just shook my head before turning my gaze to Maggie.

“I’m gonna shoot him and drop him in the bay. This idiot’s gonna get us killed.”

“How long you figure before Edgardo knows?” Paladin asks Cowboy.

“You mean if he doesn’t know already? About two minutes or so… I gotta make a call.” And Cowboy leaves the room. Paladin turns his gaze on the panel van and a look crosses his face like he’s suddenly remembering something.

Strolling quickly across the loading bay to the rear of the van, Paladin throws the doors open and hauls a huge duffle from inside and drops it on the floor. Unzipping the duffle, he starts pulling weapons and ammo from the bag and lays it out in the back of the van… heavy assault rifles, smgs, ammo clips, and 40mm grenades for an underbarrel launcher… oh, and a set of metal-gear. This… does not bode well.

“Kit up,” he says, and begins snapping on the metal gear. My brain starts humming.

I call up a city map on my TSM and begin checking the locations of my bolt-holes in relation to where we are… and my luck is uncharacteristically good. One of my storage lockers is less than three blocks away. Less than ten minutes and I’m back at the warehouse and snapping on my own set of metal gear.

In the interim, Cowboy has apparently moved the Asian girls into another room and Erik has taken up a position suitable for filming the coming action, leaving the rest of us to load up and assume defensive positions throughout the warehouse.

Well, to keep a fast series of events from becoming a long, drawn-out story, lots of violent ick ensued. Edgardo, Esteban’s boss, and a bunch of goons were perforated and turned into goo, while a few others were caught and arrested by NCPD. Most of us were “debriefed” and released, but TwoSnakes managed to disappear into the night.

In the hours that followed (keep in mind, this all began around 2am on New Year’s Day), Cowboy was able to visit a series of banks where he apparently set up money-laundering accounts for the cartel, emptied said accounts, and even collected the 2million Euro bounty on Edgardo’s head. Money was had by all. I have a feeling (a very strong feeling) that this little skirmish is about to turn into a full-blown war with a Mexican cartel… oh, joy, rapture… I need to make some calls. Session 1

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Just another night on High Street
a little kidnapping on the way home from the bar...

You’d think that working for yourself would be easier. You’d think you just would suddenly know just what you should do. Turns out not so much…

So I get fired on New Years, but that turns out to be not so bad, just a little horrible, panic enducing, and mind numbingly frightening. But it did at least let me help out a few folks. I had someone take at look at the place Kowalski was living in. I’m not certain a refugee camp in Darfur would be any better. So I had a talk with the super, Marv, for a little something he was able to skip over the background check and SIN check for the 12B apartment that was opening up. I slipped first, last and security along with a ‘processing’ fee and Kowalski had a place that wasn’t so horrid as to induce nightmares. That girl of his must really love him, that place was a hole, then again he did get shot hauling her out of some second circle of hell.

While chatting with the super, turns out he was waiting on some parts for one of the air scrubbers. The building owners were balking a little at it price wise and the AC guys weren’t moving on the price at all and everyone was bitching at Marv. I decided to go have a talk with a guy I know. Everyone knows a guy, who can pretty much put his hands on whatever odd stuff you might want; need a carborator for a 1972 Vette, no problem; need the guts to a Nokia 660 dumb phone, no problem. Twitch is my guy for that sort of thing. Not that his real name is Twitch, but he’s a little well, twitchy so it fits. Anyway Twitch is my ‘found stuff’ guy. He’s always picking up odds/ends and has a little of this and that laying about. I went by the place where he worked…seems I’m not the only one who got fired. Then I went by his place…no soap. Finally did find him, living in his car of all things. Now Twitch’s car is nothing special, but I’d not try and boost it on a bet. First the bloody thing is Booted. Second it sure looks like Twitch has been fiddling with the locks, that could get scary. So I wrap on the glass and wake him up. He looks like, well, he looks like he slept in his car. We walk down to the Minimart that he’s parked near, I buy a couple coffee’s and a donut for Twitch. Sipping on coffee I explain about what Marv told me, Twitch thought he might be able to put his hands on the parts and he’d bring’em by once he had them. That afternoon Marv calls says he’s really impressed. Roof unit is fixed, people have stopped bitching, and he looks like a hero to management. Its then it dawns on me, I should take care of Twitch too. I tell Marv about how he’s living outside, bad job, lousy luck. Marv says they’ve got 4F opening up. I ask if he wants to work it the same way I did Kowolski, he said sure, but we’d consider the ‘fee’ waived just this once.

A quick look at my phone tells me its an hour before the meeting I called. Time to gear out and get a move on. I grab my stuff and hit O’s. Takes a bit before ‘my’ booth is empty, but once it is I slip in and claim it. I’m kicking back my second Guinness as folks start to arrive. This is mostly a pay off meet. My chance to make things right to the folks who bailed me out on New Years. I slip Kowalski and Twitch their leases. As folks arrive, I pick up a round of drinks for everyone and pass out my version of a thank you card; 10k debit card for drawn on accounts with the Bank of Peru.

Everyone’s paid up, time to pitch the idea. I let them know I’m opening a laundry shop. Normally there is a pretty steep discount for those services, forty cents on the dollar not uncommon. I let them know for their help, I’m giving them 1:1 on those services. The old guy, Asmodeus?, asks the “Why?”. I tell him its pretty simple, this is a group of folks who are likely to someday need that service and will know/meet other people in a similar pinch. Those folks will be picking up the tab to get them the great deal. I’m thinking I can probably manage to launder funds for 25 or 30 cents on the dollar. That should turn me a nice profit providing I can get some volume accounts. Anyway that’s business done, deal pitched,
drinks finished, it is time to roll.

As we hit the pavement everyone splits up. Dragon slips an arm around my shoulders briefly and steers me up High Street. Twitch is headed to his car parked right out front. The old man and his girl Friday head down High. Kowalski and that media guy Eric pulling up the rear. I don’t ever see the van really. Suddenly there is sort of a sparking firework going off, it sort of fizzles and goes out with a moderate pop. Then the fucking world goes crazy..like standing in a lightning strike crazy. I’m blind, can’t see, the only thing I can hear is this universe encompassing hum. Not knowing what’s coming, I drop like a stone and duck inside my coat. Not a second later there’s a whole fusillade of gun fire just going crazy. Upshot is about all I get is a finger snap where a gunshot should be over that hum.

Not certain what the hell is going on with my eyes, I snag my phone, thank god for Siri v 5.0. I call up the camera in video mode and rotate it around to get a peek see at what’s going on. Then I pull my hands back in and blink like crazy. Outside the gunfire gets louder as the hum gets quieter. Automatic gunfire, reminds me of that scene from Hearbreak Ridge. “What’s that?” “That’s an AK-47 assault riffle. It makes a distinctive sound when fired at you.”… Not certain what those particular ones are, but I’m sure going to remember the sound alright.

Much tears, more gun fire, and I’m starting to be able to see a bit. I tell Siri to play back the video I shot. Pretty handy-cam shooting even with the digital stabilizer, but not bad. Looks like four guys up High Street and another 3 or so down High from where I’m crouched. Engine noise, wheels over a curb, crunch..from up High Street. Quick peek, one guy clipped by the back of an SUV, Twitch at the wheel. Old man pop’s guy with an assault riffle. Leaving two. They should be in reach. A quick sprint, a smooth squalembrato half side step, pivot, lunge. Ok this side is clear now.

Sirens, some movement in front of O’s. That media guy Eric is flat on the pavement still. Get to him, get him up and moving, get him inside before the cops get here. Wait for things to settle a bit. Takes a couple hours to sort stuff out before I can walk on home. John seems pretty upset, so is Kowalski. I’m going to do a little digging see if I can find out where these guys are calling home. Upside is that Inquisitors aren’t too hard to spot and aren’t liked by any number of folks. It is time to make some calls.

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Fight Fire with Fire
Session Three

I think I can now put military planners and CPA’s in the same box. Both are extraordinarily tedious. Both go on and on about having a plan. Both fail to realize that the key to successful planning is getting the objectives out there and known; To get people to buy that goal and objective as their own. That way when the vaunted plan comes apart, you can have a living intelligence work toward adapting and reaching that objective.

Take for example this action. The intel gathering phase went fairly well. Some time digging out the where, then a trip to the city planning office got prints. Kowolski was able to do some sneak-n-peek so we knew what was where inside, more or less. Turned out we wanted to dig out three objectives. Ok, the planning guy wanted to dig out “AN” objective, Kowolski’s brother. But you can’t leave tortured brain screwed folks behind to be further fucked with so John put his not so tiny foot down on that score. So now there were two objectives. Clearly neither of these guys works anywhere close to business or where rubber meets the road. They didn’t even consider the data a point worth specifically gathering. So then there were three objectives. Which left us a little light on people. I read somewhere no fewer than 3 people for an op, cause if someone gets hurt you need one to clear and one to carry. We had less, but the military folks said we’d be fine.

sigh Does ’We’ll be fine’ ever actually work? So far the answer is a resounding NO.

We basically clip off in three ‘groups’ with Asmodeus (really that’s his call sign. I know my eyes roll every time too) and Kowolski going after brother dearest, Dragon, Painless (the medic), and John going after the prisoners. Me and Twitch are headed for the datacenter.

Plan 1 – everyone sneaks in via the route Kowolski found inside that was all secret and sneaky. Split up inside and spread out.

Plan one sucked balls.

Plan 2 – Team Brother and Prisoner go in the sneaky way, team Data makes some noise going in loud.

Plan two sucked less, but still wasn’t great. So it was off to find a big truck. Conveniently Salle was working an NC-DPW gig and let me know about this dump truck, which had the keys in it. So Twitch and I can now make a hole and get in. These Inquisitor guys seem to like fire. Fire sucks. I guess I need something to put out the flames, or better yet something to strongly discourage them from using said fire. Picking up a few pieces and Amazon’ing overnight a few others snagged me a nice little discouragement method. Powered aluminum and iron oxide in a metals fires extinguisher and a nautical flare gun. Let them fire those burning rounds into a cloud of roast me alive. So now we wait. Twitch is at the wheel cause he can actually drive the bloody thing. We’re waiting for the all ‘go’ message on the radio.

“We’re blown. Contact contact team prisoner has contact”

“Well, I guess that’s a good to go” I say with a raised eyebrow to Twitch.

Twitch for his part just grins manically and lays on the air horn. Gleefully he runs over the chain link fence, turns a huge U in the parking lot then tromps the gas going pell-mell in reverse right into the side of the building. Thank god for 5 point harnesses I tell ya. I climb down out of the cab with dust and debris everywhere. I snag the fire ‘not so’ extinguisher from the floor of the truck, slam the door and head into the gap. As the dust settles I can make out 2 guys coming out of the data center and can hear two more, girls apparently, freaking out near by. Trying to figure the best plan through the falling motes of dust, it becomes clear that the two guys from the data center are carrying. I pull the charge
pin on the fire ‘not so’ extinguisher and adjust the nozzle so its pointed forward.

“Drop your guns”, I ask politely moving forward partly out of the screening dust.

“Who the f’k are you and what is that”, I’m asked less politely.

“Thermite” I reply flatly.

Clearly they don’t get it. As they start bringing guns to bear, I squeeze the handle blowing a cloud of metallic dust into the air. Thank god for that three dollar dry waller’s mask from Lowe’s hardware. The glittery cloud pours out into the air. They’re still moving to bring the guns to bear. I pull the trigger on the nautical flare while wisely taking a couple of healthy mother may I steps backward now. The air erupts in molten fire. Molten iron is suffused in the air for a moment, setting the world on fire. It quickly sticks and burns through everything it can touch. Another quick squeeze on the fire extinguisher seals the deal. Robes and hoods fire proof…no so much, face, feet and hands. I’m thinking the face part is the one that really does the trick. Nothing like breathing molten metal to make your day. Oddly the screaming increases briefly then it gets very quiet.

Two sixteen year old girls, dressed in orange are on the other side of the fire cloud, once I can walk in. At seeing me they start to scream again, I hold up a hand for silence. “You ladies can move along now”. They blink and edge to the hole in the wall and head for the hills. At least they’ll have a good story to tell and perhaps cause to rethink critical life choices. A quick peek see shows the spaces empty, moving to the only door in I see a team of four armed guys go walking near headed for the adjacent hall door. Quick I side step putting my back to the blind interior wall, hoping that I didn’t get spotted. No such luck of course, man number four just had to sense something. In he comes, “Patience” I council myself as I see his free hand easing in the door. Moments later the barrel of an submachine gun poke into the space and a second after that the arm holding it.

Its almost like that scene from Star Wars when Ben Kenobe takes the guys arms off in that dirty bar. Easily have the jump on the guy, I expect it to go easy, the cut is solid, rolling circle from the shoulder, through the elbow and wrist, moving the feet and hips so the cut comes from the whole body and it barely takes the arm. For a moment I’m thinking cyber arm despite the Inquisitor robes because the arm sparks then it bleeds. Then I see the shell of the gauntlet slip down his arm as its severed, a Militech Mark II Battleglove. Good freak’n thing to know. Scary. Grab the guy pull him inside before his pals show. Use him to block the door.

Time to loot the data. Severs are rack units, I’ll just snag them intact. The copiers however, big units, I just want the internal drives. My friend Icebreaker once told me about how this big batch of corporate guys got FUBAR by not wiping the copier before they returned it to the leasing company. Seems most of these high end digital units, have a hard drive and retain ‘copies’ of pretty much everything going through them. I’m hoping there is some working data to be gleaned from these. I really should look into putting Ice on retainer. If anything comes from this, I’ll have to make sure she gets a square cut.

Freak’n grenades? Really? I’m glad that’s not my problem. Sounds like all hell is breaking loose out there somewhere. Drives tossed into the truck, now for the server racks. Unplug an pull, god bless modular engineering. More grenades? Fuck, I’m really really glad that’s not me. Ok, that’s got it all three blades into the truck. “Extracting to the roof, Brother team extracting to the roof.” “Prisoner team set for extraction”. I pile back into the truck and strap in. Twitch lays on the air horn again and circles the truck around the front of the building. Holy hell, the roof of the building is coming off. It looks like a reverse hail storm. Twitch backs up to the front door and idles. Looking back I can see a fuck ton of bullets screaming out of the roof in a shower of debris. Doors are opening, ok that’s Dragon and a bunch of Inquisitors? Ummm…and some folks much worse for wear. There’s the woman doc too. They’re all loading in, guess its all okay. “Extracting out the front. Move pickup to site 2. Repeat, moving pickup to site 2.” Guess the old man can’t make up his mind or that fire storm was for him. Waiting takes forever, there he is finally. Old guy is carrying some dude and all but dragging Kowalski. Fuck, Maggie’s not going to be happy about this.

Short drive to the old little league ball field. The Osprey touches down at 2nd base, some guys getting out. Well if these guys don’t scream “Bad News” I’m not sure who does. Three piece Armani in black, blond hair slicked back with enough product to bounce bullets. The sunglasses are total cliché. Ooo..old man has is mike open, clever. Oh god, they sound…what is that? definitely a bad guy movie accent. South African? German? No not quite any of those either, but definitely 100% cliché bad guy. Old guy asking a bunch of questions, so is Kowalski. Brother going to Brazil for some deprograming it sounds like. Sounds like the two of them aren’t trusting of our “Men in Black”. Well package delivered and everyone piles back in. Bunch of orange robes going over the side as we pull out of the baseball field. Dragon has us pull over a little way up headed to the medical center. All of the guys who came with are piling out. Dragon is saying something to them. They all bow politely and a thumbs up from Dragon.

Night City General Hospital, one never really gets used to hospitals. Upside is the old man seems to have access to the Arasaka secure wing. Upside is at least in that wing, GSW’s aren’t required to be reported to NCPD. Holy hell, Kowalski got shot in the face. Oh god that looks nasty. Good John’s calling Maggie. Time to go see the intake folks. A few minutes later and I’ve got Kowalski’s billing handled, can’t wait to see the total on this one. John’s sitting with Maggie waiting for Kowalski to get out of surgery. Looks like its going to be a few days before they have him out of sedation, something about wanting to keep him from reinjuring his head.

Out to see Kowalski at NCGH. Oh joy, the bill is ready. $21,000? Hells bells, I know Kowalski didn’t make that kind of scratch on this outing. A short talk with the banking guys and the money is wire transferred to NCGH. Looks like the old guy is up and ambulatory as well. Looks like sort of an animated conversation. Maybe we’ll just listen in a bit… “I know, but I need more information. If I can’t talk with him to see what’s going on who can I go to? I know something about the accent just has me on edge. I need a couple of days to think, about who can get this.” Well if that isn’t a straight line I don’t know what is, walk by, smile, eye contact, nod, tip the hat, wander to the quiet corner in the waiting room. Couple minutes later the old guy has a seat.

“I understand you know people?”
“Some” I reply.
“Know anyone who can dig into a little data?”
“Depends on what your after”. Old guy seems anxious.
“I need someone to look into Solution Pharmaceuticals”.
“Something bothering you from the job?”
“You could say that”
“What did you have in mind?”
“I need someone to crash the data store and bring me details on anything odd”
“You know that’s not terribly realistic right?”
“How so?”
“Big companies, big ice. Ice being software that guards data. Big ice for a lot of multinationals are black, meaning stuff that’ll snuff you. Those guys from the home office yesterday are definitely bad news. My guess is their data is all secure behind some black ice.”
“So you can’t do it?”
“Didn’t say that, but I think you need to be realistic. I think the first step is to see where they are sensitive and where they’re not. You see there’s a term in fencing called a false attack. You use it to get a sense of what your opponent wants to do. What their fastest reactions are. Where they go to by habit. We need to do the same to Solutions, it will tell us a bunch of useful things. We need to probe them to find out what their reactions are. Then take on a satellite office first, because going after the home office isn’t probably do able. Let me talk to some folks I know and I’ll see what I can come up with. Lets call this little fact finding mission 25,000?”
“Done”

Fuck I should have gone higher. Well at least Kowalski’s covered and I’ve got enough to pay Ice a decent wage. I’m hoping we can find enough off those drives and servers to be
able to follow the money trail back to the financiers. That’ll turn a nice profit. Speaking of Ice, need to find out who’s she’d recommend to watch while Solution’s gets probed. I’ll bet she’s got a few folks she doesn’t like much, they’ll make good probe fodder.

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