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You arrive near the space where the party's going to happen about an hour before it's supposed to kick off and drive around the block a few times. Lots of hustle-and-bustle. Caterers, florists with last minute deliveries, that sort of thing. It would blow your "I'm totally a guest!" cover if you go in early, but you've got a good layout, eyes inside available to you, and absolute knowledge of where all the weapons are hidden, thanks to Malin and Nizoni. What do you do?
Over our private channel, I check in. "How is everyone on set-up? Malin, can you patch me into the cam feeds? Niz, you see anything of note?"
Nizoni pops up, voice only. "On the roof, still trying to get this fragging dress adjusted properly so I can do my thing. I'll be in within five."
Malin says, "Check the icons on the right of your AR, Jubilex. All the cameras I planted, and all of theirs. You can pull up the floor plan and just give attention to anywhere you see a little camera icon, too. Theirs are blue, ours are red... oh, is anyone colorblind? I can change that." No one responds.
Do you patch Jessi in, Jubilex?
I look at Jessi for a moment, then ask her, "Do you want me to patch you into the team's feed? To know when trouble's coming, more than anything. Completely optional."
Jessi thinks for a moment. "Yeah. For... what do the Twins call it? Situational awareness, if nothing else. I won't chime in unless I see something I don't hear anybody already talking about." She looks at you. "Is this going to get dangerous?"
I patch Jessi in, then answer, "There's a chance they won't like our performance evaluations." I give her a smirk, "You know you like a little danger."
Jessi gives you that crooked grin, but doesn't respond. Mat, Malin and Lindo are on schedule to arrive about 30 minutes after the doors open, and Nizoni will stay in skulk mode, ready to merge into the crowd but keeping an eye on things in her own way.
You check all the camera feeds, and it looks like you'd expect. Caterers, waiters, florists, decorators all putting the last touches on their particular tasks. The security team is already in place: two on each door, several already floating around, keeping an eye on the staff, two in high vantage points with a view of the whole room, and the clear leader of the team standing beside the stage, arms folded and grim-looking.
Anything to do before we fast-forward to your entrance?
I've got nothing more to add, the team has this handled. Let's make this happen.
Jessi's on my arm when we finally come into the party. I'm trying to look as bland as possible, which is easy beside her and that dress.
It took Mat all of three minutes to jigger the power source for the dress, but it would have been worth three hours, if the reaction is anything to go by. Jessi's isn't the only dress here that makes its own light, but there's something about the shifting patterns of colored pixels that speaks of craftsmanship, rather than simply technology, and it's catching eyes all around the room. You indeed might as well be invisible, no matter how sharp you look in your new/old tuxedo.
It's early yet, and most of the crowd won't arrive for at least an hour, but there are a smattering of faces you recognize, and you see Haroutunian at the bar in the far corner. There's a setup for a band on stage, but the music is currently coming through speakers, something light and jazzy and not-very-Motown.
Your HUD gives you information on the location of all the security, and you can pull up anything Motown gave you on any of the guests with a glance. What do you do?
I'll stay on Jessi's arm long enough to make sure I'm "hers". After maybe twenty minutes, I'm going to peel off, make my way around the place, checking out people more closely, not attaching myself to anyone in particular. I'm hoping to get a read on the demeanor of the head of security, check how well-armed and alert the guards are, watch noteworthy (talent) guests.
You excuse yourself as Jessi is chatting with the costume designer for The Four Bottoms, a bondagecore group that's had a string of hits that are surpisingly (or not) popular with the corporate crowd. You've already clocked Motown's head of security, Lucas Rycer, of course. He's long, lean, and looks as deadly as a katana, eyes flicking across the room from his vantage point along the balcony above the stage. His suit is dove-grey and tailored perfectly, with a shimmering silver tie and a crisp white shirt.
The rest of the guards are purposefully obvious, in black suits and carrying themselves with deliberation and grace. Weapons aren't in the open, but the bulges aren't exactly hidden. The exception are two women that mingle with the crowd, pretending to sip champagne. It's a good setup, and everyone's behaving professionally.
Why don't you give me a Notice roll to check out the scene, here? Base difficulty is +2, but you'll get more on Succeed with Style and above.
(Rolled: 4df+3. Total: 3. Rolls: -, +, +, -)
I'll spend a FP on Lothario Street Samurai to bump that to a +5. With Style.
As of this moment, Jubilex, in addition to the "official" security staff, there are already eight private bodyguards, all armed with knives or billy clubs, but none with firearms that you can tell. You knew they'd be here, from the list you received, but you've clocked them all. You're expecting an equal number more as the night draws on.
Three of the lower-level "talent" are clearly high, but only one seems particularly unstable, a young woman named Skin Starr (I know, more porn than pop, but what can you do?) Whatever she's on has got her on edge and you watch her pocket a sharp knife from the cheese table when she thinks no one is looking. You're pretty sure that Rycer caught it, too, but none of the regular security have.
An aging crooner named Julio Nelson is already drunk, and in fact probably arrived that way. His much younger date is shamelessly flirting with a male Native American elf you don't recognize. The AR and Motown's files provide you with a name (Joseph Longfeather) and not much more.
As you continue your scan, you see one of the waitresses slip something into the glass of champagne she's about to hand to Sim-sense starlet. One of the floaters from the security team moves in quickly, taking the glass of champagne and apologizing, while one of the non-undercover guards takes the waitress by the elbow and leads her away.
You have the feeling you have the Situation Well in Hand. (2 free invokes.)
"Malin," I say over our comm channel, "Follow the guard who is escorting the waitress right now. I want to know how that ends up. Let me know if it comes to violence or if it seems weird. Niz, seeing anything on the low level talent here already? I'm thinking we're not going to see a move on these guys, but I could be surprised."
I'll head over to chat with Julio, call up some AR on his music and listen to a song as I introduce myself, "Hello, Mr. Nelson. How are you tonight?" I look at the girl and her flirt-partner, then back at him.
Julio's eyes barely focus on you, and his resonant voice slurs a bit as he tries to answer. "M'good. Wazuup w'you, chummer? Thass wha' they say, right, chummer? Ah, how would you know, you're prolly 'naccountant."
"I'm not an accountant, Mr. Nelson." I say smoothly. "I'm just a guest. But, I'm also a bit of a fan. I liked your last single, it was very soulful. There's something special about your first car." I take a drink from my glass, "Do you come to these parties often?"
I'm not trying for anything over-the-top here, just want to ingratiate myself, get a read on him, his date, the vibe.
Julio manages a rather lopsided grin as he peers at you. "Y'got good taste, at least. Yeah, I come to th'parties. Food an' drink's better 'n mos' places, an' if I lose one girl, I can always fin' another." The singer gives you an obscene wink.
I nod, knowingly. "Ever any trouble at these parties?"
The crooner shrugs. "Booze, drugs, egos... yeah, 'sproblems sometimes." He takes a healthy swig from his glass. "Usually gets taken care of fine."
"Nothing out of line with the waitress. They're asking her questions, but it looks like she's a stalker. Called Lone Star, and have her restrained in zip cuffs."
I'll excuse myself from Julio, give his erstwhile date a grin, then move on. "Keep me advised, Malin. Niz, anything interesting?"
Nizoni is giving her sitrep (nothing much to report) when you see that the crowd is suddenly paying attention. The first big star to arrive isn't a MoTown artist. Instead, it's Queen Lili, cool and elegant in a flowing gown made of shimmering silk in the colors of the sea, with her hair piled up in a loose but elegant bun. Her entourage is small. A few members of her band, maybe a personal assistant, and one bodyguard, a Samoan approximately the size of Maisie, and likely nearly as deadly.
She looks around the room, and you see her eyes noticing Jessi's dress, a few yards from you, but she moves graciously through the room toward Haroutunian, smiling and nodding as she goes. The band scatters (mostly toward the bar, of course), and the Samoan follows at a discrete distance, his step amazingly light for someone of his size. He's clearly got several augments, but the only visible one is his left eye.
Jubilex, you've got a good eye. Who is it in this room that's following Lili's progress with a little too much interest?
Wow. Queen Lili. She's ethereal even when she isn't performing. I read that Samoan and he is dangerous.
But it's Rycer who is watching her like a wolf watches prey. It's not a good look.
Rycer's gaze is intense, hungry. Not just the look of a man trying to make a career move. For a moment, your eyes meet as he scans the crowd, but he passes on without pausing. When that happens, you instinctively start to move into your ready stance, but stop yourself before it becomes obvious.
Lindo, Malin and Mat enter right at that moment. You catch it even before Malin announces in your ear that they've arrived.
Lindo clears his throat over the subvocal, which reads as a low, tectonic rumble. "Something here smells off, Jubilex. It's going to take me a bit, and I need to get close to one of the veves Nizoni drew for me and hope she did it right."
Nizoni snorts, but agrees. "Everything looks good, but something just feels off. I hate it when I have a feeling, Jube."
Over comms, "I got something weird off Rycer. I don't know if he's just looking to snag someone for a pay raise and jump. I think maybe there's something more. Lili looks to be the target. We need to let him move before we step in."
I'm watching the other guards. Are they in on this? Where are they focused? Is Rycer acting alone, or is this a team turnover?
There's a lot to catch, in this environment, as the glitterati start funnelling in. Let's see a Notice roll at a Good (+3), to catch the attitudes and attention of the security staff. In addition to your natural gifts and the fact that you've got the Situation Well in Hand (2 free invokes), feel free to tag (and pay for) advice from your team. Call them each an Aspect on this part of the scene that's available to you.
(Rolled: 4df+3. Total: 3. Rolls: 0, 0, -, +)
Your evaluation of the room leaves you certain that none of the more obvious security personnel are doing anything other than their jobs (and doing them pretty well, at that), but it's clear that one of the "plainclothes" (in this case, fancy-clothes) floaters is coordinating with Rycer in some way. The woman, a tall human with blonde hair in a pixie cut, is orbiting Lili like some distant moon, never making it obvious.
"Malin, keep eyes on the blonde with the pixie cut. She's working with Rycer. Remember, we need to let this guy do the deed, and then stop him." I move near a window, but nowhere near Lili or the others shadowing her. I don't even care if the big Samoan stops him, as long as we get to catch the sneaky fragger.
As focused as you are on Lili and Rycer, Jubilex, some tickle of awareness pings in your brain a minute or so after Malin acknowledges your order, and you turn briefly toward the door to see Aoife entering the party, resplendent in a long, pure white dress that hugs every inch of the curves that you've so recently re-discovered. She's on the arm of a powerfully built, broad-shouldered man in absolutely up-to-the-moment formal wear, with a chiselled jaw and long raven-black hair. It takes you a moment (the tuxedo), but you recognize him as Zeropoint. He wasn't on the list by that name, of course, but scrolling through quickly now, you recognize his picture as Jax Hoskie. Oddly, he's listed as "talent," but with no particular description of what that talent is.
What do you do?
Fragging Zeropoint. And, he's still hotter than me. Hate that guy. But, I guess it means she's cheating on him. With me. That feels kinda good.
Yes. I am that petty.
Over comms: "Malin. What kind of talent is Jax Hoskie? He's on the list, and he's a runner. Peel it back. There could be a wrinkle here."
I'm moving to a point in the room to avoid Aoife's gaze. I need to stick to the task at hand.
"Working." A few seconds later. "One of the networks is developing a simsense reality series around him. Shadows and Light: The Zeropoint Files."
That is just bloody awful. It dreks all over Shadowrunner code. Not that we sign some contract or whatever.
I wonder if it's any good?
"Oh. He's meaningless then. Ignore him." I say as I avoid Aoife. Frag me, she looks good in that dress. She's harder to ignore.
I'm back to Rycer and his partner, shadowing. Waiting.
Malin interrupts once more. "Oh... I did a quick linkup to check out... Zeropoint? He's got full-sensorium recording gear going, and it's transmitting to someplace off-site. Can't be too far, the signal's not that strong."
Rycer seems cool, despite his focus on Lili. More and more stars (recent and not-so) trickle in, most swinging past to pay respects to Haroutunian. Every sort of celebrity is represented: there's a troll wrestler who goes by "Blood Apollo," an assortment of singers and sim-sense celebs, a scattering of politicians and wealthy corp types.
The noise level goes up, of course, and the crowd starts dancing once the piped in music is replaced by a DJ "spinning" some of MoTown's greatest hits. Your eye comes across Jessi in conversation with Lili about something, and you spot Lindo eating shrimp rather daintily, Malin close by. You don't see Mat, but his position is marked on your HUD. He's moving around the perimeter, stopping every now and then (to chat, you assume).
Speaking of chatting, the crowd swirls past and one of the politicians I mentioned happens to fetch up next to you. You've done some work for her before. Who is it, and what was the job?
"Hello!" She looks you over. "You clean up nicely."
I tell Malin, "trace that signal back. It would be a stunt to mess with things here. A stupid one, but better safe than sorry."
I turn to her and smile, "Commissioner Koffler, thank you very much. You look ravishing as always." And surgery or not, she does look amazing for a powerful political figure. I wouldn't call her "hot", but she's handsome, and doesn't look bizarre like some of the heavily augmented beauties can. I re-aquired her personal surgeon, Dr. Oliver. He was snatched by a Doc Wagon competitor, a start-up with tons of venture capital hoping to make a quick bang. "How are you tonight?"
Commissioner of Public Works Dorothy Koffler gives you a look, Jubilex, like many looks you've seen before. You did her bidding once before, and now she's thinking that you'll do it again, this time in a more... intimate... way. She's already clearly intoxicated on something, by the way. "You want to get out of here, go someplace more private? I will rock your world, runner." Equally clearly, she doesn't remember your name.
I give her a pleasant smile, reach out to touch her arm. "Dorothy," I say in a gentle, affectionate way. "I'm sure I would love that. But... I'm here for business." I offer her a smile like "hey, what ya gonna do?"
Dorothy pouts briefly, but takes you at your word and leaves you to make her way to the bar.
Lindo's voice in your ear, low and mellow as always but with a touch of concern. "Something pushing against their wards, Jubilex."
"Drek! Attack on the cyber front, too. And Jubilex, it's Flikker."
"Niz, what do you see? Mat, check in. They're making a move" I say in a hushed voice over the subvocal as I look around. Who's making the snatch and grab? I'm opening my eyes, in case this is a bluff. There are more folks at play here. This is the moment.
Why don't you give me another Notice roll here vs. Good (+3), Jubilex, to cover the current situation. As before, you've got the Situation Well in Hand (2 free invokes), and feel free to tag (and pay for) advice from your team. Call them each an Aspect on this part of the scene that's available to you.
Noticing what I can:
(Rolled: 4df+3. Total: 5. Rolls: 0, +, +, 0)
A few quick things:
I'm just going to add a third free invoke of Situation Well in Hand. You're team is good - it's going to be pretty hard to get the drop on you, whatever's going on.
What are your instructions to Malin, Lindo, and the rest of the team? Should they just observe for now, or intervene?
I give Haroutunian a cuty, but confident nod, then I'm on my suvocal, watching like a catcher looking over the entire field, "Malin, Flikker's part of a different team. We've got a second party at play here. Niz, shadow that team, keep us informed, but don't engage. Mat, slip into this room, I'll need you as backup. Bring in the drones as close as you can. Lindo, peek astral, tell me what's hitting wards." I'm trying to mask this monologue here, chin down, talking to my wrist like I've got a smartwatch.
Lindo responds with a rather less calm tone than usual. "Someone's being reckless. Half a dozen spirits pushing up against the wards, and they're not going to hold for long. I could shore them up, but it will take all my effort."
Malin's voice, soft and afraid even as it filters directly into your earpiece. "Frak, Jubilex. Frak me. It's Legion. This is a terrorist attack. And Flikker's spamming me. Invitations to join them."
Nizoni reports that the team on the roof is through the stairway door and on their way down. She's following. They'll be here in twenty seconds, no more. Rycer's people are forming up, and the guests are just starting to notice that something's up.
Lili's bodyguard moves in toward her, takes her elbow and starts steering her toward the exit. The floater follows at a distance, still intent.
Mat's with you in the room. He's got microdrones for observation, and you see him subtly retrieving a handgun from one of Nizoni's hiding places, tucking it in his pants for an easy draw.
Legion is the name that was given to the loose association of Technomancers that took down the UN Grid in Geneva and have basically turned that slice of the global Grid into a feral nightmare for anyone that's not a technomancer. They've been joined by a number of sapient Awakened species that haven't received recognition from the governments of the world, but have mostly kept their actions confined to Geneva and a few spots nearby (Lausanne, a few incursions into France and Germany) thus far.
Lili isn't part of Motown. I hope her bodyguard can do his job against one assailant. I let her go. "Lindo, shore it up. Malin, tease them along, distract Flikker if you can. If that is a waste, assist Lindo. Niz, when those four get in here, be ready to take out the last one. Mat and I will hit the others if needed. We need to stay frosty, let Rycer make his move, but be ready to back them up. Priority one is Motown assets, priority two is finding the mole." I'm moving to get a weapon, quick and calm, eyes darting around.
Malin says, "Hold on, my sprite just broke the encryption on Rycer's second channel. Don't have time to pay much attention, but here." An alert pops up in your HUD. When you give it attention, you hear a conversation starting mid-sentence. Man's voice first. "...to abort. I say, abort. Need you here. We'll have another chance."
"They stopped, Jubilex. Pulled on masks and now they're attaching some canister to the ventilation system."
"Drek, Jubilex. It's tempo... Flikker just pinged me direct. They're going to pump aerosolized tempo into the air. Said he was telling me as a sign of 'good faith,' since they want me to join up."
Mat's already starting for the stairs up, but Rycer's security team doesn't seem to have focused on a single threat point yet.
"Tell Rycer, Jube. Malin gave you his crypts. He needs to evacuate."
"Niz, stop them, right now. I'm on my way." I draw AR to direct me to her. Then I switch to Rycer's line, "Rycer, there's a group of terrorists in the building, about to floor the ventilation system with tempo. You need to evacuate this place right the frag now." I'm busting my ass to back Nizoni up, Mat is following.
Rycer looks around, trying to determine who's talking to him. You clock him clocking you, running toward the steps. Mat's actually a few steps ahead, since he was closer to the door, but your legs are longer and you have those wired reflexes. You get to the action sooner, by a few seconds.
Nizoni is engaged with one of the intruders, while two of the others continue working on attaching their canister to the hall's ventilation system. They seem very close to finished, after which it will just take a twist of the valve to release the gas. The fourth member of the infil team sees you and Mat and moves to engage, pulling out two long knives.
What do you do?
There's no time to be subtle, I have the small butterfly knife that I picked up from Mat's hidey hole. I flip it around and move to engage the one with two knives, "Mat, take those two down."
I'm looking to fight.
(Rolled: 4df+5. Total: 5. Rolls: 0, 0, -, +)
(Rolled: 4dF+2. Total: 4. Rolls: +, 0, +, 0)
I will spend a FP on Haunted by Failure to add +2 to my roll in hopes of taking him out quickly.
You do take him out, slipping beneath his fancy knives. In your peripheral, you see Mat taking aim at one of the two with the canister, but just before he pulls the trigger, Zeropoint barrels past him, knocking the dwarf to the side.
"Alright. You punks stand down. All of you." He moves into a martial-arts ready stance. It would be comical if you didn't know how hard he can actually hit.
The connection is made, and one of the gas-masked intruders starts to turn the valve.
What do you do?
I dash forward, throwing my knife at the intruder, aiming for their fragging head, "Stop that asshole!" I will stop them if Niz, or Mat, or Captain Zeropants don't get to him. I just beat a man down, one of my team better be there.
Jubilex, Zeropoint looks at you with absolutely no recognition as you snap your order. In fact, he looks at you as if you might be the threat. Nizoni hasn't taken her man out yet, and Mat's still recovering from the other runner's shove. Your knife hits the man turning the valve directly in the forehead, hilt-first, and makes him flinch.
Just at that moment, Jessi's voice pops up. "Jube? What's going on? Do you need me?"
Zeropoint's squaring up. Looks like he's going to just start throwing punches, not worrying about which targets to prioritize, and you're closest.
"Zero!" I shout, trying to move for the guy at the valve, "They're about to release poison through that valve!"
I want to chat with Jessi, but I have to focus on the valve. I can't let her get hurt, none of them.
Zero pauses and takes a second to assess the situation, giving you the opportunity to move in. Just then, Nizoni takes down her man with a blade-handed strike to the solar plexus, followed by a knee to the forehead when he doubles over. You see that she's taken a cut to her side, she's bleeding pretty heavily.
Two intruders left up. The one straightening from his position at the duct moves to block your path to the man on the valve. Mat is bringing his gun to bear, finally, but Zeropoint is in his way.
What do you do?
"Mat, shoot that fragger at the valve!" I bellow as I kick-step against a wall and try to launch myself over the one coming for me so I can grab the valve guy's hands and stop him. I don't know where my knife went, but I'm still moving forward, no time to think.
Athletics to overcome:
(Rolled: 4df+3. Total: 5. Rolls: +, 0, 0, +)
You vault over your obstacle with grace and land in front of the Very Surprised man on the verge of releasing dangerous drugs into the air. It's been less than a minute since you told Rycer what was going on, so if he succeeds, there are likely dozens of possibly-panicked, probably-intoxicated, rather-unpredictable celebrities and hangers-on still in the party room downstairs who will be effected.
He's still turning the knob. How are you doing this, Jubilex?
I'm going to kick that fragger right in the wrist and thumb, break his hand if I can. I'm hoping my momentum will put me right in front of that valve, then I can close it. I can't do any more than that right now.
I hope Jessi's alright. If Circe hurt her, I will beat the drek out of him.
(Rolled: 4df+5. Total: 6. Rolls: 0, +, +, -)
(Rolled: 4dF+2. Total: 1. Rolls: +, -, -, 0)
I hear the snap of his wrist as my foot connects. He jerks his hand back, releasing the valve, holding it as he moves away. He's well-trained, and may be pulling a weapon on me, but I'm shutting down that valve first. It turns easy, and I turn it off with all the force I can muster, hoping it will stick closed. "You terrorists need to get the hell out of here."
You turn the handle hard enough to snap it off in the closed position. Zeropoint's apparently decided to choose a side, and the fourth terrorist goes flying past you as the (celebrity?) runner lands a solid punch that probably breaks his jaw and maybe the collar-bone, when he hits the wall. Mat, finally free to aim, has no targets to aim at, and Nizoni is trying to stay upright against the pain and blood-loss from her opponent's lucky strike.
"They're pushing hard against the wards. Putting all I've got into reinforcing them, but there's something I don't get on the attack. I think they might have called toxic spirits, Jube."
"I'm keeping the technomancers (she uses the plural) occupied, but I just got a flash from our video feeds on the roof and Mat's drones. There's a circle up there, doing some sort of ritual."
What do you do?
"Niz," I turn to her. "Do you need medical or can you stabilize yourself?" As long as she's take care of herself, I'll look to Zeropoint, "C'mon hero, shamans up on the roof calling toxic spirits. Mat, let's go."
Nizoni hisses in pain, but says, "Go. I'll be fine."
Zeropoint nods and follows you as you charge up the remaining stairs to the roof, Mat close behind.
When you get out in the open, you see a a group of five shamans gathered around a chalk-inscribed circle. As they chant, an oil-dark presence is coalescing in the center. The air smells strongly of rot and bleach.
Four guards with automatic weapons stand between you and the circle.
What do you do?
"Zero, guards!" I gesture to the left as I break right. I can only hope my wired reflexes will give me a chance to get close. I do not want to die on this stupid roof. "Mat, shoot a shaman!"
Mat drops into a crouch and steadies his gun, snapping off three quick shots, one of which takes a shaman in the center of his back. The remaining four continue chanting as the injured one crumples silently to the ground.
Zeropoint breaks left as you move to the right, your reflexes carrying you faster than the guards can easily track. Bullets follow on your heels as you close on your first target.
I'm going to call (unusually) for a single Fight roll to Overcome the four gunman. This takes in both your actions and Zeropoint's, and calls on your experience, tactical skills, and ability to coordinate even with someone you've wanted to punch in the face for most of the time you've known him. Four guards who are reasonably trained, with automatic weapons. Two runners who are exceptional, with hands and feet and speed. Let's call this a difficulty of Great (+4), with a significant benefit if you "succeed with style" (+7 or better).
(Rolled: 4df+5. Total: 6. Rolls: -, +, 0, +)
I'm spending a FP for the aspect Situation Well in Hand to boost that to an 8. These guys are in trouble.
And... Zeropoint really is a badass. Dammit.
Jubilex, you and Zeropoint each take out your two men without breaking a sweat. Although there is certainly breaking. Bones, for instance, of the men standing in your way. Tell me, what's the coolest thing you saw Zeropoint do out of the corner of your eye?
No time for celebration, of course. Mat's still taking shots, but the swirling, oily mist expanding to fill the circle makes targeting difficult. The Stench, both acrid and putrid, is a full-out assault on your nose, throat and lungs. It won't be easy to stick around here much longer.
What do you do?
The coolest move was the forward tumble where he kept his gun out and firing. He dodged a hail of bullets and killed the guard at the same time. Damn him.
I grab a machine gun from the guard I just killed and take careful aim, then over subvocal, I call, "Lindo! Four shamans summoning a very big toxic spirit on the roof. Do I break the seal? Kill them before they finish?"
An uncharacteristic outburst from Lindo. "Fuck fuck fuck. Jubilex, do not let the circle get broken. Do not let that happen. That includes bodies falling across the line. Get it? Kill them if you want, but make sure they fall backwards."
To Zero and Mat, I yell, "Do NOT let the shamans cross the seal, and don't break it!"
Back to Lindo: "If I kill all four of them before they finish, what happens? What happens, Lindo?"
Lindo comes back quickly. "Take them, Jubilex, but make sure the circle doesn't get broken. I'll be up there soon to take care of the rest. Moving slow up the stairs, but your girl's helping me."
I'll close the distance and one-by-one, grab a shaman and pull them away from the circle. If I'm able, I'll snap their necks. Toxic spirits are non-negotiable.
Zeropoint follows your lead. The shamans offer suspiciously little resistance as the two of you pull them away from their circle and end their chanting forever. When you're done, the... let's call it an entity... in the middle of the circle is swirling angrily, snarling faces popping out of the cloud at random intervals, and the stench is nigh-overwhelming. Chlorine and rot, like a hasty morgue set up near a mass grave.
Lindo comes out of the roof entrance, Jessi propping him up. In a voice that belies his apparent physical weakness, he calls out strongly. "Jube, Mat... other guy, step back." Less firmly, but still audible, he turns to Jessi. "Try not to let me hit my head."
Lindo calls out in his immediately recognizable bass voice, "Papa Legba, you open the ways and close them, send this thing back to its dung heap. Close the way. I beg you." As you've experienced, Legba plays tricks... some cruel. His counterpart, the other side of his coin, is called by the Santerias, Eshu. Where Legba/Eleggua represents chance and fortune, Eshu is "trouble." Still chance, in his own way.
This may not seem entirely fair, but let's see who shows up, here, Jubilex. Roll a straight 4dF, and hope it's positive.
Hoping for a good guy!
(Rolled: 4df. Total: -1. Rolls: -, +, -, 0)
The being that appears is quite similar to Papa Legba in many ways, but different as well. Instead of a neat but rather archaic black suit, Eshu is wearing an expensive-looking satiny black track suit. His hat is a crisp baseball cap with a hologram sticker under the bill and an elaborate embroidered logo on the front. His shoes are night-black high tops with fluorescent green and blue stripes twining along up them snake-like. His cane is the same as Legba's, though, carved from glossy ebony.
Lindo hisses in disappointment, anger or worry, but immediately responds, chanting in his rolling sing-song bass. You certainly don't know the language, but somehow understand, regardless:
Eshu played many tricks
Eshu made kindred people go to war;
Eshu pawned the moon and carried off the sun:
Eshu made the Orishas strive against themselves.
But Eshu is not evil.
He brought us the best there is;
He brought the sun.
But for Eshu, the fields would be barren.
"Great Eshu! You have no more love for these spirits of dung and corruption than I do! Eshu, your servant Lindo begs: Open the ways and send this thing back!"
Eshu reaches into his pocket and takes out a large silver coin. He flips it into the air to Lindo, who reaches his palm out to catch it. The shaman looks down when it lands and winces. "Tails." Eshu smiles, teeth bright against his dark skin, and slams his cane down on the roof. Instantly, Eshu is gone, as is the spirit within the circle.
Also, Lindo. Just gone.
My heart sinks when he's gone. I'm on subvocal immediately, "Malin! Can you feel Lindo? He's gone. Do you sense him anywhere?"
I'm thinking of Papa Legba, too. I'll need stuff to summon him, though. I think.
Let's cut this short, Jubilex. Things go pretty quickly from here. Malin reports that Flikker has withdrawn, and after searching for some time, also lets you know that there's no sign of Lindo on the grid anywhere.
There's no real evidence that Rycer had anything planned, and it didn't seem like he was after Motown talent, but you're absolutely certain he was up to something, and that wasn't connected to the terrorist attack. Haroutunian pings you with thanks for your help, and wants to meet the next day for a followup.
Here's the thing, Jubilex. Even through your worry for Lindo and the adrenaline hangover, this just simply makes no fragging sense. Why would a group like Legion, which has never yet operated physically outside a relatively small area in Europe, choose a mid-range celebrity party in Detroit for their first entree into a new territory? And why this sort of attack?
"Malin," I call over the comms. "Is Lili around? Did she make it out safely? Was anyone taken?"
"Checking cameras. No-one is hurt but Nizoni, and Lili's online. I think she's in her car, got out just before things got weird. Most of the rest of the guests are milling around outside wondering what's going on. A couple snagged bottles of champagne on the way out."
Heh, don't blame them for taking the champagne. It's good stuff.
"Team, let's get Nizoni to a doc. Any wrap up needed?" I head over to Jessi, put an arm around her, "Hey there, you are crazy, coming up here. Are you alright?"
Jessi looks at you with wide eyes. "Is this a typical night for you?" She's trying to joke, but is clearly freaked out by what she's seen.
You get Nizoni to your cut-rate DocWagon knockoff hospital taxi. No room for you to join her, of course, but she gives you a thumbs-up.
I pat Nizoni's shoulder gently and close the door when she's ready to go. To Jessi, I turn around, then slip my arm back around her. "Not typical at all. Nizoni never gets hurt." I kiss her cheek. "Toxic spirits are really bad news, Jess. Thanks for helping out, uhm..." I was going to say Lindo, but the loss of him still smarts. "Anyway, thanks, Jess."
A glance over to Malin, if she's here. Over subvocals if she's still out, "Set up a sprite for Lindo. I will need to reach out to his family. I think I know what needs to be done to get him back, but it's going to suck. If you find him, it will save me that... trouble." I check on Mat, but I'm sure he's fine.
With my pocket secretary, I shoot a quick message to Lindo's niece Marie-Rose down in Miami:
Marie-Rose, Your uncle tried to summon Papa Legba, but Eshu came instead, now Lindo is gone. NOT DEAD - gone. I think I need to call on Papa Legba. Any advice? -J
I guide Jessi towards our car, abruptly change the subject. "I saw you chatting with Lili. How was that?"
Jessi gives you a grateful look, happy to change subjects. "She's super cool, Jube. And... when I told her my plan for selling off the dress to help buy and reopen Mac's, she bought it on the spot! As in transferred the Nuyen then and there."
"Wow," I say, amazed and impressed. I'm sure Lili paid some serious nuyen for it. "That's so great. How much more do we need?" I kiss her cheek, this is the kind of good news that I need right now.
Jessi goes into full businesswoman mode, clicking in like a missile's targeting system. "I'll call Diego's cousin tomorrow, get a sense of how much he wants for the business, but this should get us well over halfway there, I'd think. It was a lot of money."
I purse my lips in appreciation. "I see. Very good work, partner." I arch a brow. "I see you're still wearing it. Did you, ahem, make a date for her to get it off you?" I grin, "So to speak." And yes, I think of Gwen for a guilty moment.
Jessi lets out a quick, surprised laugh. "I was a little starstruck. Didn't even really think of that. Oh, I was tingly, but it never occurred to me to do something about it..." She bites her lip thoughtfully. "She's in town for a few days. I'm supposed to bring it by her hotel tomorrow afternoon. I..." Her hand slips to your thigh. "Hmmm. I'll see what happens. She seemed a little... flirty seems the wrong word for someone like her. Interested?"
We're headed to the car, out of earshot. I mean, if Nizoni wasn't in a DocWagon taxi, I'm sure she'd hear this, but I actually feel like we're alone. My grin widens as Jessi works over the possibility of Lili, "Jess, I am sure she's interested. I mean... who wouldn't be? Plus, I have it on good authority that Lili likes pretty girls. You should totally bring it by her hotel tomorrow, darling."
Part of me wants to watch. Part of me is simply intrigued by Jessi getting something she craves. A guilty part of me feels like this makes up for my dalliance with Aoife. A much larger part of me wants to join in.
Her dress. Her opportunity.
Jessi seems to catch some of your internal monologue. "Yeah. I mean, it's arranged. You don't mind if I go alone, do you? I'll tell you about it, if there's anything to tell." You're in the car by now, and Jessi's hand is no longer on your thigh. It's rather higher.
I start up the car, then look over as the auto backs us out of the space, "Oh, you damn well better." Then I reach over to Jessi, putting my hand in mirror to hers, touching her as she touches me.
I need to lose myself, and losing myself in Jessi is the best place I can imagine.
Jessi gives you that grin and does her best to make the ride as... interesting... as she can. Which is very. She follows you up to your apartment and you both get lost for a long while. When you're laying back amid the rumpled sheets, you receive a ping from Marie-Rose, a vid call. Do you take the call in bed, or do something else?
Sitting up in bed, I turn on privacy blinders and take the call as I start to get up. I'm nude, but the cam is angled at my face. "Hoi Marie-Rose, thanks for getting back so soon." I'll head for another room, let Jessi sleep.
"What did you do with my uncle, Jubilex? Nevermind. Okay. Papa already has some call on you, right? That should make it easier. So, supplies. Good rum, and no, you don't have any of that in your place. Look for something Caribbean and dark, aged and expensive. A good cigar, which you might have. And, I hate to say this, but you need something live to make not-alive. Chicken, sharp knife. Blood needs to flow. Uncle Lindo can do without because he's a houngan, but you're starting fresh, as it were. Call me back when you've got everything, and I'll walk you through. Hope to Bondye it all works out."
Animal sacrifice. Great.
I nod. "I can do these things. Thanks, Marie-Rose. I'll call you back soon." I'll end the call and head back to bed, nudge Jessi awake. Awake enough to answer a couple questions. "Jess, where can I get the best bottle of rum around? Something Caribbean and dark." I realize the cigar can come from that bar, and a sharp knife is not a problem in this place. I'll head out to the kitchen to check later.
Jessi peels an eye open, half-awake. "Godda bottla 21-year-old Appleton Estate rum a'the club... prty sur itz neer bin cracked..." Then she's back to sleepy-times, unless you want to make a point of it. Her keys are close at hand, weighing down her little purse,and should override the biometrics, if you go in through the back door. You've got the good cigars from Malin's earlier gift, and the prospect of a bottle of good rum, Jubilex, so what's your plan for finding a live chicken? Pretty sure you have a sharp knife somewhere, yes? So it's just the victim you're really lacking..
What do you do?