IM Shadows

Into the Shadows

January 20, 2075. 7:00am Pacific Time.

Dominic Torreto, passed out in his cluttered garage/apartment in the Redmond Barrens, is violently awakened by the sound of banging on his metal door. He groggily issues an “open” command to his Home Area Network, revealing a half-dozen Knight Errant officers led by two plainclothes detectives. Without a whole lot of discussion, he is thrown into a patrol car and brought Downtown. Before he’s cut off from the Matrix he orders the autopilot on his GMC Bulldog Step-Van to relocate nearby and await further instructions.

Upon arriving at the station, Dom is thrown into a lock-up with three local Shadowrunners that he knows only barely by reputation. He shares a cell with Jeffrey “Bandit” Laveur, a Raccoon Street Shaman of peculiar charm. In the lock-up next to them are two female Shadowrunners, Anka “Neph” Husak, a clean-cut Matrix Investigator who shares an obvious personal bond with Bandit, and “Ayita”, a Tribal warrior of some kind who is manacled in extra-strong braces.

The Shadowrunners are subjected to a series of clumsy interrogations regarding a delivery-truck hijacking the previous evening. Detective Jared Quinn, a Dwarf and lead detective on the case, and Detective Larry Redoak, a cybered-up Native American Ork, reveal that four perpetrators fled Downtown through Bellevue and into the Barrens last night. Desperate to appear proactive whenever there is violence on a Downtown Street, the investigators seem to have fished up the first four Barrens disreputables they could get their hands on. Unfortunately, none of the Runners seems to know anything about the hijacking, and none can be convinced to implicate their cellmates.

After spending their morning being wrongfully accused by the police, the Runners are visited by a severely-dressed, fast-talking human woman sporting a bob of neon orange hair. She introduces herself as “Imaginary” Annie Goldsmith, Attorney at Law. After threatening Knight Errant with allegations of “wrongful arrest” and “unlawful questioning”, Annie gets the Runners sprung from custody. She demands no payment for her services, but requests that the Runners accompany her for a chat and a drink at the Soybucks down the street. Bandit takes a moment to Assense Annie, revealing that she sports no cyberware implants and that she has an Awakened aura.

Annie and Ayita both order cups of soykaf. Neph orders a tea, Dom downs four espressos, and Bandit enjoys a cup of soy milk. Explaining that she often likes to connect people that she thinks can help one another out, Annie presents the Runners with the opportunity to do some business. She’s none-too-revealing on the details, but she assures the Runners that there is some extremely light work available to be picked up. In addition to presenting them all with her ARO business card, she leaves the Runners with a matchbook, quickly bids them goodbye, and scurries out of the Soybucks. The Runners examine the matchbook: it is branded “Banshee”, a dive bar located in the Barrens, squarely in the territory of the 162 Ghoul Gang. Inside the cover is scrawled the message “7p.m.” and a commcode number.

Not wholly comfortable with the circumstances under which they were approached for this job, the Runners take precautions prior to the meet. Bandit summons “Salmon”, a Water Spirit attuned to Detection tasks, and asks for an astral scan of the bar. Salmon returns moments later with little to report aside from some weariness gained from swimming through the slightly toxic astral background of the West Barrens.

Neph, not wholly trusting Invisible Annie, does a Matrix search on her. The Runners are able to take a little comfort in the revelation that Annie has a fairly solid reputation among the Seattle underworld.

Dom has his van pick the Runners up and bring them all back to the Barrens. They individually pass time until 6:30pm that evening. Hoping to avoid spending too much time in 162 territory, the runners aim to arrive early, but not too early.

Upon arrival at Banshee, the Runners survey the scene. Bandit asks the Spirit World to hide his earthly presence while he provides a live video feed of his reconnaissance to the rest of the team. He narrowly avoids collision with a patron being “ejected” by the bouncer, sneaks underneath the batwing doors and past the surly Ork, and establishes visuals. Dom directs his Fly Spy drone to provide another vantage point, and follows with a sweep of the surrounding area. Ayita takes up position outside the bar, surveying the tactical situation. Neph scans the spotty Barrens Matrix for a commlink listening under Mr. Johnson’s commcode. All of the team’s recon points to the same conclusion: sitting in the recessed back corner of the Banshee, secluded from the 162s, Blood Mountain Boys, and other rowdy bar patrons, Mr. Johnson awaits.

Having ruled out any obvious ambushes, Dom maintains drone overwatch from the van. Ayita moves in, taking up a position at the bar to provide some on-site physical security. Old chummers Bandit and Neph make the approach. Mr. Johnson, an Asian human in a plain suit, greets the Runners warmly and invites them to join him for a drink (he recommends that the Runners avoid the “beer” and stick to the synthahol…Bandit drinks plain, Neph opts for cherry-flavored). Pressed for time, Mr. Johnson presents a simple mission to the runners: retrieve a commlink from a piece-of-drek Ork drug dealer named “Oxycode,” who is staying in Room 312 at the Novelty Hills Sleep & Eat. Johnson assures the Runners that the job is a simple milk run, and the pay reflects that. Bandit handles the negotiations and manages to score a few thousand more nuyen for their trouble, but the Runners are looking at a measly 6k at best. Still, in theory, it ought to be an easy night’s work.

The Runners load up in Dom’s van and he peels east through the Barrens to the Sleep & Eat. As they pull up to the converted warehouse, Dom’s drones quickly sweep the building and the surrounding area. They discover a backdoor to the hotel, which seems like the most appealing entry option (at the very least it keeps them out of view of the half-dozen Crimson Crushers loitering at the Stuffer Shack down the street). In order to maintain the lowest possible profile, Neph puts her disguise talents to work on Ayita, making her look like a streetwalker who would fit in around these parts. Bandit once again asks the Spirit World to hide him from sight.

With its service port easily accessible, the cheap Maglock protecting the back door is no match for Neph’s superior hacking skills. Though it takes her a few seconds longer than expected to get the door open, as a spot of bad luck trips her up and she feels compelled to scrub all traces of the Novelty Hills Sleep & Eat logo from her Persona.

With the back door opened, the Runners quickly but discreetly make their way up to “room” 312 of the coffin-hotel. Several knocks by Ayita go unanswered, but the Runners are able to detect a faint light peeking out through the bottom of the door. A quick hack by Neph disarms its even weaker Maglock and the door pops open, revealing a dead Ork lying on the ground next to two commlinks. One is a run-of-the-mill Sony Emperor and the other is a Limited Edition Hermes Ikon in Matte Black with Lime Green trim. The Runners search the body (presumably of Oxycode) and discover a Browning Ultra-Power pistol and a credstick. Heeding the old street maxim, they leave the gun and take the credstick (later revealed to be worth 150 nuyen). They search the room further but decide to cut out after about a minute of scrounging about.

The Runners head straight back to the Banshee. As they have no way to tell which commlink Mr. Johnson is interested in, they present him with both. Surprised at the development, he examines the devices and checks another he was carrying himself. Satisfied, he pockets the Sony Emperor, pays the runners with a satchel of credsticks, and advises them that they might want to try and make some money off of the Ikon. He then disappears from The Banshee after nodding his farewell to the barkeep.

The job complete, the Runners retire to their evenings. Hoping to sell the Ikon, Bandit tries to get word to his Fixer that he has some merchandise to move. Neph, concerned about bringing potentially hot merchandise to her apartment, gives the commlink to Dom for safe keeping. Then she checks in with a buddy of hers at Knight-Errant Dispatch on the status of the hijacking case that kicked off today’s ordeals. So far, nothing.

January 21, 2075. 9:13am Pacific Time.

The next morning, Neph calls Dom and asks him to bring the commlink and pick her up. Jumping into the back of the van, she slips into VR and goes to work on scrubbing the device clean. Dom keeps on the move in order to thwart any efforts to trace them.

The Ikon puts up a surprising amount of resistance to Neph’s efforts, but there is little it can do in the face of her persistence. As soon as she achieves her first Mark on the device, her AI Agent “Ray” points out what’s already become obvious to her: the Hermes Ikon is hiding another, even more sophisticated Matrix Device within it. Stoked with curiosity, she hacks this second device and discovers a single encrypted file. The hidden device tries Neph’s patience as she runs her Decryption routines against it, but she is ultimately successful. The device gets one last laugh, though, as Neph discovers that the recovered file is merely a fragment of a larger one. She shares the data with the rest of the team, along with the name of the commlink’s owner: Seth Dietrich. The file is obviously incomplete, and yet it is densely packed with fearsome words: “bomb”, “terrorist”, “murder", "FBI”, “copycat killer”, [Governor] “Brackhaven”, and “Operation Daybreak” among them. [Copy of file available here ]

Bandit, armed with this new knowledge of the advanced device, gets ahold of his Fixer and tries to negotiate a sweeter deal for this unique hardware. He unfortunately isn’t able to make enough headway to get an enticing offer. He reaches out to Imaginary Annie for information, but his conversation is cut short when he mentions she might also be at risk due to her association with them.

Concerned with the danger inherent in having paydata this hot, Neph recommends destroying the commlink outright and the team agrees. Before doing so, she re-encrypts the file fragment and moves it into storage onto a Datachip, which she immediately takes offline.

Ayita puts in a call to her NAN handler and asks about a name found in the fragmented file: Agent Kowalski. The handler recognizes the name of FBI Agent Jennifer Kowalski, and remembers her infamous demise (found hung from a flagpole on Renraku Corporation property), but knows nothing of what she was investigating at the time. He offers to dig around for further information as a favor, and Ayita takes him up on it.

Neph spends the afternoon searching the Matrix for information on file owner “Seth Dietrich” and discovers his reputation as an honorable, especially effective FBI investigator. His status is currently considered MIA (and has been for the past few months) in the midst of an investigation into Governor Kenneth Brackhaven. Brackhaven is under suspicion of various criminal activity directed at the Seattle Ork Underground, the newly official political district that he failed to legally prevent from being recognized.

Several hours later, Ayita receives a commcall from someone claiming to be Agent Seth Dietrich. The caller is aware that Ayita was or is in possession of his missing commlink, and he offers 60,000 nuyen for its return. After learning that the commlink has been destroyed, he is relieved at least that the data on it has been preserved and is willing to pay the same amount for that. He insists that the meeting take place the following day at the Fort Lewis Zoo at 1500 hours, next to the Basilisk exhibit. After conferring with her teammates, Ayita agrees.

Mere moments after Ayita hangs up with “Dietrich”, the door to her apartment is blown violently off of its hinges…

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