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

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?”

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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