Ghost Dance II -- Red Dawn

The Set up

It's a quiet day, or has been so far. A perfect day to get caught up on paperwork. Expense reports and the like. Even though you're not /officially/ part of Draco, there are still the forms — subcontractor expense itemization and ammortization, documentation of incidents, contact reports, damage assessments — it never ends. Draco may be a force for good in the world, but they run on paperwork just like everywhere else. And the bureaucracy is the same, from Aztechnology to Draco, from Ares to Zimbabwe. Somehow, good and evil disappear when reduced to mere forms, filled out in triplicate…

And that's when your phone rings. One of the… well, not a clean phone. A number that is forwarded from another, much older number, thanks to a decker contact. And the origination code says it's coming from right here in Denver, from a public phone. Just down the street from Ares, in fact…

The key to hiding revenue streams and such as the like, is paperwork. Sam usually automates it, generating such a crippling amount of paperwork with his decker skills and the small army of Agents he maintains, that it is impossible to track it back to the source.

Sam eyes the number, leaning back in his chair with a squeak of springs and the groan of wood. He debates for a long time, for him at least, a full .75 seconds, before he answers it.

"Communications open."

There is a few seconds of pause on the other end of the line. And then the voice comes. Voice only, no video. "Sam? Is that you?" the guy asks, sounding out of breath. His voice is slightly nasal, and there is the aura of fear that comes across the circuit as clearly as if you a predator able to smell it oozing from a prey animal. "Please tell me this is still your number, man. I really need to get a hold of you, and I don't got a lot of time…"

He sits forward then, pitching his voice lower. "I'm listening. Use your time well. Tell me whats going on; what the issue is. Be as clear as possible int he time you have."

"How do I know this is Sam? Drek… okay, I know. What was my dog's name? Remember when you came out to the house… there's my dog's real name… and then there's what I called him." He sounds nervous, and it's easy enough to imagine whoever's speaking wiping sweat off his brow. He coughs once, and then there is the sound of a cigarette being lit and smoked, hard. He still hasn't said who he is."

«OOC» Johny says, "Any chance I recognize the voice?"
«OOC» Slinger says, "Roll me an int check, TN 10. It's gonna be /hard/ to recognize."
«OOC» Johny says, "Mnenomic enhancer rating as extra dice? :)"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Intelligence vs TN 10:
1 2 2 3 4 5 5 7 7 = 0 Successes
«OOC» Slinger says, "I'll give it to you as a TN bonus :)"
«OOC» Slinger says, "So that's 2 successes."
«OOC» Johny says, "Ooh, thats a TN 7 then, aye"
«OOC» Slinger says, "Yeah. You remember him. Dirk… guy at Ares. Dweeby guy. His voice is different, but it oughtta be, that was quite a while ago. He's probably grown up. But there's the way he says things, that clipped style of speaking, that's hard to forget."
«OOC» Slinger says, "And make up something about his dog :)"

Johny closes his eyes… Steepling his fingers. "The number you called from is registered to Ares, here in Denver… You are smoking, which adds three to five years to the voice, generally. You are scared, that changes the timber and tone. You are calling me, so you're desperate for something, though I'm not sure what yet. Based on the data, I'm going to say this is Dirk Kouglas. AS such Dirk…" His voice is flat, monotone, problem solving while he flips the recorder on the phone. "You named your dog Tiberius. After James Tiberius Kirk. You're something of a trekkie."

"Your wife overruled you on naming it Kirk. She didn't know Tiberius was his middle name until several months later. She was unamused."

Dirk exhales a cloud of smoke into the phone, breathless relief. "Drekkin' A, man. Look… I need your help, big time. I don't know who else to turn to. I dunno what you're even doin' these days, but… well, you're my last hope. I just dunno if they're listening. You shouldn't even have said my name." He's breathing harder. "Oh, drek. Drek drek drek. I'm so drekkin' fragged." He sounds on the verge of tears. "They're gonna come after me, now. Big time, if they're listening…" He sounds like he's about to hyperventilate — or kill himself with smoke, one of the two. And you remember — Dirk didn't smoke when you knew him.

"Breathe. SLow down. Stop focusing on they and starting telling me who. And why." He opens up a second line, putting Marcus on call, looking at his list of proper agents available. Kassandra and Alladriel are RED. No goes. Minos is RED, out of town. Lilith and SLinger are likewise unavailable. Janie is GREEN… He has Marcus contact her.

"You have limited time. Talk to me about whats going on. You need to start from the beginning and work your way back in the time you have. Start now."

This is the most fun Marcus has had all day. He stands up, pulling out his cellphone. He steps out in to the hallway to call Janie Blair.

Janie's phone is answered after the second ring. The voice isn't Janie's. "Janet Bradders' cell phone, Athena speaking."

"Aww fer the love of god, Athena… put the -human- on the phone? That'd bug Johny all to hell if he made this call." Says Marcus, lighting a cigarette.

Your voice slowly seems to calm Dirk down. "All right." He laughs, and it's not entirely a sane laugh. "What are they gonna do to me, kill me?" He laughs again, but then takes a deep breath, and lights up another smoke. "And if anybody's listenin', I'm totally jacked anyway." Another laugh, a little more hysterical. And then, away from the receiver, "What the drek are you lookin' at? Frag off!" Back in front of it. "Okay. I did some work on the side a few months ago. Designin' somethin' for some people. Didn't know what it was — just a timing circuit. For some reason, they wanted it all analog, y'scan? I mean, totally analog. So it was a fun idea, so I went ahead and did it. Good cred and all. Not too hard, did it without anything digital at all." There's actual pride in his voice.

"So, job done, I got paid, right? Easy money. Except… a few days ago, I get another call. And this time, they want more. They want something from work. They know about the Nitro-80, man. All about it — and they want me to make them the detonator for it. And if I don't… they're gonna make it look like I gave 'em the formula for the -80. Gonna expose me — the corp'll put me away for life, Sam. But I didn't do anything, I swear it!"

«OOC» Johny says, "Clarify: nitro-80 is an explosive or exploding divice of some sort?"
«OOC» Slinger says, "Roll me… oh, something relevant :)"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls CIA General Knowledge + Task Pool: 3:
1 2 3 3 5 5 10 10

Nitro-80… you've heard of it. Never worked with it. It's a high-tech explosive. Able to be shaped to deliver a highly /directed/ blast, and a little goes a /long/ way. It isn't set off by any of the normal means, though — it takes a series of pulses, which are carefully calibrated to the exact chemical makeup of it. A key, if you will, for the exact version they're using. And it's undetectible by any normal means — until it receives that series of pulses, it is as chemically inert as argon.

"Good morning, Marcus," comes the response, unruffled and in fact slightly amused. "Janie's meditating right now, but I'll put her on." It's not that Athena is unemotional, but does she have to be so damned serene all of the time? Just how much free will /did/ Janie imprint into the formula, anyway?

A minute later, there is a slight muffled flutter, then Janie's voice comes through. "If Johnny has a problem with Athena he c'n take it up with me, Marcus. What's up?"

Johny sits forward now. Fuck. "What leverage are they using, Kirk. WHat are they using besides the fear of linking you? You're a smarter man than that. Where are you. I will come pick you up." Says Sam, standing up and transfering the call to his headware. He gestures to marcus, and then picks up his keys. Marcus nods.

"Janie, Johny needs a little back up. Feel like riding shotgun on him? It's so far, no promise of pay, but I know he'll make it worth your while somehow."

"C'n do," Janie replies. "Where does he want to rendezvous, an' what kind o'opposition's he expectin'?"

"No data, Blair. Meet him at Colfax and Colorado. He'll be in his Mustang."

"Gotcha. Be there in…" a brief pause. "… Five minutes."

Janie closes down her cellphone, then stands up and crosses the room to her closet, where her gear is already ready; a Warrior takes good care of her weapons and armor between battles, after all. She slips into her Second Skin body armor with practiced ease, then puts on regular jeans and T-shirt over them, followed by her ubiquitous duster.

Another moment's work to check whether her guns are loaded and secure in their holsters, plus the spare clips in her duster's pockets. Finally, she raises the ring on her right hand to her lips, focusing her Power into the jewel that serves to anchor a spell without her having to consciously sustain it.

«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Sorcery + 2 (Totem dice - detection spell) + Sorcery Pool: 6 + 4 (Athena) vs TN 6 for "Enhance Aim, force 4. Need 4 successes for optimum result.":
1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 5 5 5 8 8 10 10 11 11 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Willpower vs TN 2 for "Soaking M drain.":
2 2 3 3 4 5 5 8 = 8 Successes
«Plot» Janie says, "Force 4 Enhance Aim spell sustained by Janie's sustaining focus. -2 on all ranged combat TNs as long as the target is within 32 meters (Force 4 * effective magic rating of 8 when the spell was cast)"
«OOC» Johny thinks someones tiger called him away
«Plot» Janie says, "Gun loadout: Gel rounds in the loaded clips; APDS in the spare clips."
«Plot» Janie says, "Two more colts in the trunk of her bike, loaded with gel ammo; those will be for Athena's use if the situation gets that serious."

"If you're Sam, you know where I am. I'm gonna be in the park across the street. Nice and public. Feeding some ducks. And hopefully they ain't got anybody with a sniper rifle. I see anybody who doesn't look like you, sam, I'm running for it…

"I have a woman coming with me; I trust her. She's my backup." He says as he moves. He gestures to marcus in a quick succession of rapid moves, and marcus nods.

Thirty minutes, and then I walk, man. I figure out somethin' else."

You say "I'm on my way. Don't do anything foolish."

«OOC» Slinger says, "All right :)"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 (Sorcery.spellcasting) + 3 (Power Foci) vs TN 4 for "Physical Mask TN 5, Making Johny Look Like Sam.":
1 1 2 2 2 4 4 4 5 5 15 = 6 Successes
«OOC» Slinger says, "Force 5, you mean? Gotcha :)"
«OOC» Johny says, "Yeah, thanks."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 vs TN 3 for "M Stun":
1 1 1 1 2 2 4 8 = 2 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "Truma damp eats the L."

Janie makes good time getting to the RV point and drives up besides Johny's car. "Mornin'. Marcus said we've got a situation?"

Moving with Sam down the hall to the garage, Marcus's fingers come up in to the air. Call it an affectation, but Marcus works with gestures as his magical style. Abracadabra, it looks like he vogues when he casts a spell. Maybe as he gets older he'll drop it. But, moving down the hall, the 30 year old Johan Wulfson slides quickly and easily in to Sam Clemens, the 50 odd year old architect with a gun.

A few moments later, he's in his Mustang, drivers seat, while Marcus is a few blocks back in the Eurocar. He idles, waiting for Janie. When he sees her, he offers her a nod. "Don't know the scope yet. Whats your com-freq… I'll open broadcast. Don't approach until I give the signal or someone takes a shot at me or Dirk. You scan me?"

Janie slips a pair of shades over her eyes, then taps an indentation on the side. "Voice on 8962, data an' image on 4527."

Johny grunts, hitting the accelerator and heading off down the road. He relays the details he has while he drives. Dirk is the engineer that helped him get the power to undertown back on. He's scared, in danger, and skittish. Stay out of sight, watch JOhny's back as he makes the pickup.
Janie adjusts a barely visible subvocal mic at the base of her throat, then murmurs something.

The park is the worst possible place, really. Totally indefensible. Surrounded by tall buildings, any of them able to provide a sniper's perch. With people around, any of whom could be a potential attacker. Limitless places to overhear or be overheard. Maybe a good spot for a dead-drop, but a lousy place for any sort of clandestine meeting. Shows what happens when you let a technie plan your fieldcraft.

And the worst part is, there's no real parking to be had. All the '2-hour parking' spaces surrounding the park itself are occupied, and there are delivery trucks complete with flashers hogging all the delivery locations. You'd have to park at least a block away — or find a way to keep circling the block, potentially. Just to make matters worse. Looks like it's approaching lunchtime, and thus, the busiest part of the day for foot traffic and vehicle traffic.

At the Park

Commlink-Mustang> Janie says, "Comms check. You copy?"

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Johny says, "I read."

Janie glances around as she gets out of the car, checking her environs even as she directs Athena to astral overwatch.

Sam slides out of the car, a hat resting on his head. Okay. This is going to suck. He shakes his head; but this is what he has to work with. One hand reaches in to the back seat to grab a reversible trench coat, one color on the inside, one color on the outside. Also, a hat, hidden under the coat. One eye goes to looking over the biomass available; plants, trees, groups of people. The other, to the various overlooks that can possibly provide good sniper coverage; which one of these would -HE- use?

«OOC» Janie says, "What's the BGCount here?"
«OOC» Slinger says, "Gonna say just 1."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Surveillance Techniques + Task Pool: 3:
1 1 1 1 3 4 5 7
«OOC» Slinger is gonna say yes. And the appropriate penalties as well.
«OOC» Janie nods.

And there he is. Right there where he said he would be, like an idiot. With a bag of bread or something that he's using to feed the ducks, who are gathered around, providing almost perfect framing for him. Not tall enough or large enough to provide any kind of cover. And he's looking up, shoulders hunched over, eyeing everyone who even starts to walk in his direction. He hasn't shaved in about three days, and looks like hell, with the wide eyes of someone whose connection with sanity is tenuous at best.

The places you would use are almost limitless. Starting with the roofs of buildings, and from there proceeding to trees, bushes… though those tend to risk passers-by seeing them and calling the cops. On the other hand, magic can do a great deal, as well, to hide someone, conceal them from sight.

One place jumps out at you, though. There's a ledge up there, almost entirely concealed, one of the fire escapes from one of the buildings. A spot where one could see, but not /be/ seen. That's where you'd be, if you had the chance.

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Johny says, "Eastwood; 203 mark forty degrees. You see the fire escape? I want to know that its clear. It's where I would be."

Janie nods at Johny, leaning back against the car and closing her eyes briefly to concentrate on Athena's senses instead of her own.

«OOC» Slinger says, "Roll her Force, TN is 6."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls 4 for "Athena's Force/6~Hmm…":
3 3 4 4
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls 4 vs TN 6 for "Spirit KP 1/3":
1 3 4 8 = 1 Success
«OOC» Janie says, "One success."

For Athena, this is a walk in the park, literally — except it occurs in the blink of an eye. The fire escape in question is… no, it's perfectly normal. Nobody there atop it, not at all, nothing living at all. The fire escape itself barely shows up in the astral realm, actually, made of metal and artificial as it is.

Commlink-Mustang> Janie looks clear, Nacht.

Johny steps out of the car, moving through the crowd at oblique angles that make it hard to track his actual target. He tracks closer, sliding in behind him without looking at him. "DOn't turn around, Dirk. I want you to move over to the news stand. Step inside, pick up a copy of the Wall Street Scream Sheet. Keep your back to the crowd. Don't look at me. Keep your head down. I'm moving back in to the crowd now."

And then he does so.

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Johny says, "Marcus; Give me that mans clothing after I move away."

Marcus, in the car, eyes the situation… "Gotcha Sam."

Janie recalls Athena, then takes a few deep breaths as she mentally steadies herself. Pawn to king's row 4 its movement blocked by the black King's pawn; Knight to king's bishop 3, challenging the block; black knight to queen's bishop 3 to defend and open an avenue for the bishop to move out into the field… The sequence known as the 'Quiet Game', as non aggressive as openings get.

«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering vs TN 2 for "F4 city spirit conjuring, centering against penalties. 5-8=2.":
1 9 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering - 1 vs TN 2 for "F4 city spirit conjuring, centering against penalties. 5-8=2. (KP 1/36)":
2 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Conjuring + 4 (Athena) vs TN 4 for "Force 4 city spirit.":
1 1 1 4 4 4 8 8 10 11 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Charisma vs TN 4 for "Soaking M drain.":
2 2 2 3 5 7 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Charisma - 2 vs TN 4 for "Soaking M drain. (KP 2/36)":
1 2 5 5 = 2 Successes
«Plot» Janie says, "Drain soaked; 7 services from a force 4 city spirit available. Rolling init."
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 1:
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Initiative with a result of 19.
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Initiative with a result of 23.
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls 1 for "+26, Athena's astral init":
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls 1 for "+24, spirit's init":
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 5:
2 5 5 9 15
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 3:
2 4 14
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 1:
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1 for "+6": Marcus

You don't get that far, is the problem. Things suddenly happen very fast. Dirk turns around and looks right at you as you begin to speak, staring up into your face with that hint of recognition. His foot moves out, reflexively — and kicks a duck that was nibbling at the crust of some of the bread. The duck quacks in protest, and takes flight. There is a sudden spatter of blood and feathers, as the duck /explodes/ in midair, destroyed in an instant. And that's when the sound of the rifle rings out across the park, loud and clear and horrifying.

«OOC» Janie says, "Athena will Aid Power to Janie, who will cast a Deflect spell on Dirk while commanding the city spirit to search for the shooter."
«OOC» Janie says, "Force 4 isn't much, but it's at least a few extra dice to maybe help him survive until we find and nail the sniper."
«OOC» Slinger says, "Commanding spirit is what kind of action? Thought it was simple."
«OOC» Janie says, "… Oh, right. It is."
«OOC» Janie says, "In that case, command the spirit to search, then allocate spell defense dice, six on Johny and eight on Dirk."
«OOC» Slinger says, "So noted. Spirit is what force?"
«OOC» Janie says, "4."
«OOC» Slinger says, "Gotcha. Roll 4 versus TN 6 if you would please?"
«OOC» Janie says, "8, actually - Search power is twice the spirit's Essence against the target's intelligence."
«OOC» Slinger says, "This is the spirit rolling."
«OOC» Slinger says, "You can roll that afterward :) This is for something else."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls 4 vs TN 6 for "Hmm…":
1 2 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls 8 vs TN 9 for "Where did that shot come from? Come on, spirit buddy, give me a target…":
1 2 2 3 3 3 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls 8 vs TN 9 for "KP 1/4":
1 1 1 2 4 4 7 9 = 1 Success

Janie freezes for less than a microsecond when the shot rings out, then swears and goes for the nearest cover. Of course, when you can't be sure which general direction the shot came from you take your chances as to whether you wind up behind cover or effectively in front of it.

Janie dives between two cars. Still not terribly safe, especially if the sniper decides to dispense with niceties and fire on the gas tank, but better than nothing. She swears mentally at the spirit, ordering it to search for whoever fired that shot.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Surveillance Techniques + Task Pool: 3 vs TN 4 for "Dude, shooting ducks is MEAN": (Finding sniper perch)
1 1 3 3 4 4 5 11 = 4 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Surveillance Techniques + Task Pool: 3 - 4 vs TN 4 for "Dude, shooting ducks is MEAN":
1 4 5 5 = 3 Successes (KP 1/44)

The explosion of feathers, combined with the gunshot, sends the ducks flying upward in a cloud of feathers and confused quacking, providing momentary cover — long enough for you to grab a confused and startled Dirk, who is spattered with blood, and pull him back behind the bench, at the very least, shielding him with your body. And in the meantime, you get a very firm calculation on the exact trajectory of that bullet — the spatter from the bloody duck helps a good deal with that. It came… right from where you thought it would. That landing. The precise spot you anticipated… and the spot Janie said was clear.

Sam doesn't wait for the feathers to settle. He moves the great coat, tossing it over Dirk. "Stay with me, dirk." He growls, one arm sliding down to lift the man and cradle him like a football as he starts through the crowd. He moves the man behind a solid concrete bench. "Stay down, Dirk." He growls then, one hand fishing in to his pocket for a compact. The mirror, he uses to try and sight the perch…

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Johny says, "GODDAMN it! You said the perch was clear! I'm under fire from that location."

Commlink-Mustang> "I said it /looked/ clear," Janie counters, then mentally directs Athena to the location again.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Combat Pool: 8 vs TN 4 for "Awwwww shit! I just bought this suit!":
1 1 1 3 4 5 5 11 = 4 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Combat Pool: 8 - 4 vs TN 4 for "Awwwww shit! I just bought this suit! KP 2/44":
1 3 4 4 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 (foci) + Sorcery Pool: 4 vs TN 7 for "FOrce 7 Physical Barrier.":
1 1 1 2 2 2 3 4 5 5 5 7 7 8 11 = 4 Successes

Another shot rings out, flying through the air toward the target, and that's when Dirk actually hunkers down fully, covering his head with his hands. But he wasn't the target — Sam was, it would seem. Dirk is whimpering and muttering under his breath incoherently, and basically useless in a firefight, it would seem. And this shot is coming from the same damned direction. The ducks helped, but it only narrowly missed you. This shooter is /good/.

Marcus narrows his eyes as his boss comes under attack. He looks over the options. Not enough time to get a vehicle in place; too far away to get direct LOS on Sam or Dirk to invis them… but a physical barrier; he can do that. He gestures, a slashing movement with one hand, bringing a wall of force up between the shooter and the shootees.

The building in question has multiple entrances. It's a somewhat high-class hotel. The landing appears to be on the tenth floor. There is the main entrance, plus one entrance at each end. It appears to be about 75 meters away from your present position.

Commlink-Mustang> Janie snarls something unintelligible. "Nacht, Mustang. Spirit swears up an'down there's nobody there. Athena didn't see anythin' out o'th'ordinary either. That's some top notch magical concealment. Go in or get out?"

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Johny says, "Extract."

"Sam! I got a barrier between you and the shooter; should give you some extra protecton!" Comms Marcus.

Commlink-Mustang> Janie says, "Roger. On th'way."

Janie nods at Johny's radioed comment, then begins making her way back to the car as stealthily as possible.

Picking up Dirk, Sam growls. "Go limp, we're moving to the car and getting the fuck out of here!" He says, mentally counting the seconds until KE shows up; This is a high security area. He's got about 10 more seconds to get moving or they are going to be on top of them. He then does exactly what he said he would.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Strength + 6 (Cybernetic strength) vs TN 7 for "Random arbitrary TN.":
1 1 1 1 2 3 3 4 4 11 11 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Stealth for "I don't /think/ I'm being watched, but I'm still going to try to be as sneaky as possible.":
1 3 3 3 3 5 8 10

Once Athena fades into existence next to the car — well, her vision still extends into the astral realm. And she sees something shimmer and come in to view right now as well, fading into existence. And it heads right toward her. And it's big. And /nasty/-looking… a fire elemental from the look of it, and a big one.

Janie stops in mid-crawl as she hears Athena's sudden cry of alarm, then swears and keys her comm

Commlink-Mustang> Janie says, "Fire elemental by th'car on th'Astral! Nacht, keep away until we've dealt with it!"

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Johny says, "Son of a bitch. I can't reload while I got this guy under my arm. Do you have any 'busters on you? I gotta get Dirk here someplace secure."

Commlink-Mustang> Janie says, "I'll do what I can."

«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 9 + 9 vs TN 5 for "Spirit's attack versus Athena. FIMM takes it to TN 5.":
1 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 10 11 11 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 12 vs TN 5 for "Spirit KP 1":
1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 11 11 = 4 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls 6 (Athena's Sorcery) + Combat Pool: 6 vs TN 3 for "Fighting back.":
1 1 1 1 1 2 3 3 4 4 4 10 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls 6 (Athena's Sorcery) + Combat Pool: 6 - 6 (Successes) vs TN 3 for "Fighting back. (KP 2/3)":
1 1 1 1 5 11 = 2 Successes
«OOC» Slinger says, "Athena needs to resist 9S."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls 6 (Athena's Cha) + Combat Pool: 3 vs TN 9 for "Owww.":
1 1 2 3 4 5 5 7 7 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls 6 (Athena's Cha) + Combat Pool: 3 vs TN 9 for "Owww. (KP 3/3)":
1 2 2 3 3 3 5 7 11 = 1 Success
«OOC» Slinger says, "Athena is gonna take S, sadly."
«OOC» Janie says, "Athena takes S damage. Where do you get that 9 from, though? According to SR3 page 266 fire elemental damage is (F-2)M."
«OOC» Slinger says, "That's when manifested. Astral damage is handled by the table on SR3 p176. Unarmed attack is (Charisma)M. So equal to (Force)."

On the astral realm, the fire elemental blazes forward, barrelling into Athena. Even the City spirit lending its aid cannot deflect the mighty blow; instead, Athena's astral form is scorched and singed, damaged severely by the onslaught of the fierce, powerful manifestation of mana swirling into a maelstrom of fury.

Athena can't quite suppress a scream of pain as the elemental burns her, damaging her core essence even as the city spirit rushes to her aid. It's massively outmatched, however, and holds off on engaging the monster until Janie can join the fray.

Athena's scream of pain is answered by a snarled war cry from her creator, who leaps up beside the beleagured spirit, the guns in her hands blazing with Power on the astral, the Sperethiel glyphs on the grips glowing incandescent.

«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Clubs (Pistols) + 4 (Foci) + Combat Pool: 5 vs TN 2 for "WAAAAAAAAAAAGH!":
1 1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 8 8 = 12 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Clubs (Pistols) + 4 (Foci) vs TN 2 for "Offhand weapon. Ambidex 8, baby.":
2 3 3 3 4 4 4 8 9 = 9 Successes
«OOC» Janie says, "Stand on 16 successes effective."
«OOC» Slinger says, "Nice :)"

Meanwhile, mass confusion reigns, with people running hither and yon, screaming and diving for cover. One middle-aged woman whose outfit just screams 'Administrative Assistant' hurtles past — only to /smack/ hard into the physical barrier with a sickening thump, and slide down it, dazed. People seem to be obeying the old adage:

When in danger, when in doubt,
Run in circles. Scream and shout.

«OOC» Janie says, "Damage code… 10M base. (Charisma + focus damage)"
«OOC» Slinger says, "So yours becomes… 14D?"
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 9 vs TN 14 for "Spirit wants to liiiive!":
1 1 3 4 4 4 4 5 13 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 9 vs TN 14 for "Spirit wants to liiiive! KP 4":
1 1 3 3 3 4 4 10 11 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 9 vs TN 14 for "Spirit wants to liiiive! KP 6":
1 1 2 3 4 4 4 4 10 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 9 vs TN 14 for "Spirit wants to liiiive! KP 9":
1 1 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 = 0 Successes

In the astral realm, Janie's attacks become fierce daggers of power, bolts of pure lightning that drive into the heart of the burning spirit — and the effect is like pouring massive amounts of water onto the thing, as it sizzles, flames dissipating harmlessly off of the powerful adept as the twin blades of power dissipate the spirit. And it shrieks like a failing fire-engine siren as the flames sizzle off, leaving nothing in their wake.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 4 vs TN 4 for "The 30! The 20! The 10! HOLEY TOLEDO HE MAY GO ALL THE WAY!":
1 2 5 5 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 4 - 2 vs TN 4 for "The 30! The 20! The 10! HOLEY TOLEDO HE MAY GO ALL THE WAY! KP 3/44":
5 19 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 3:
1 2 22
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 1:
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Initiative with a result of 22.
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 1:
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Initiative with a result of 23.
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 1 for "+6, Marcus":
«OOC» Johny says, "Marcus on an 11"
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls 1 for "+24, spirit init. 5 services left.":
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls 1 for "+3, Athena's init. Physically manifested and badly injured.":

Janie's rage evaporates almost as quickly as the spirit does, and she glances down at Athena, trying to gauge the extent of her Ally's injuries. Pretty bad. She directs the wounded spirit to withdraw to the Astral, and from there to her home Metaplane to recover. In the meantime, if there was a fire elemental around, there's a mage directing it… But where?

Commlink-Mustang> Janie says, "It's toast. Lookin' f'r th'mage. C'm on in, but keep an eye out."

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Johny says, "I always have an eye out, thanks for covering my Asss…tral."

«OOC» Slinger says, "Roll your magic rating versus TN 11, if you would."
«OOC» Slinger says, "To Janie."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Magic vs TN 11 for "What's that?":
1 1 1 1 2 2 3 4 4 5 7 11 11 11 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Magic - 3 vs TN 11 for "KP 4/36":
1 2 2 3 3 4 9 9 10 11 16 = 2 Successes

And there it is, plain as day… poor Athena didn't notice it. There's a ward there on the astral. Right there covering that landing. And further, you can see past it — and there are two figures, floating in the air, moving frantically toward the cover of the building. They will be out of sight in just a few seconds…

«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering vs TN 2 for "Reducing penalty from BGcount.":
2 7 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence vs TN 4 for "Assensing…":
1 2 3 3 5 8 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence - 2 vs TN 4 for "Assensing (KP 5/36)":
3 4 5 10 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Magic Background vs TN 4 for "Comp skill, what am I looking at?":
1 2 3 3 4 = 1 Success

Commlink-Mustang> Janie says, "… This was a setup, Nacht. There's a maskin' Ward on th'landin'… An' that'd have t'have taken them several hours t'set up, minimum."

Commlink-Mustang> Janie says, "One mage, one sniper, th'latter heavily cybered. They're runnin' scared."

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Johny says, "Can you take the mage down?"

Commlink-Mustang> Janie says, "Through th'ward an'his own defenses? I c'n try but I'd have better luck gunnin' f'r th'sniper."

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Johny says, "Do it"

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Johny says, "The sniper"

Commlink-Mustang> Janie says, "Unconscious or dead?"

Commlink-«<Nacht»> Johny says, "I like asking questions; Uncon."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) has the Attribute Quickness with the value '10'.
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Athletics vs TN 4 for "Runnnen!":
1 2 2 4 5 5 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Athletics - 3 vs TN 4 for "Runnnen! KP 4/44":
2 3 9 = 1 Success
«OOC» Slinger says, "14*3=42 meters this turn. You'll get to the car at the end of the turn."

Johny runs like his life depends on it, because as tough as Sam is, a Sniper Rifle is still 50 calibers of armor piercing tungsten steel designed to kill men just like him. A sniper rifle is no fun. "Move move move and then be ready to plead for your fucking life because I AM UNAMUSED!"

«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering vs TN 2 for "A pox on your background count!":
3 4 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Sorcery + 2 (Totem dice: Combat spell) + Sorcery Pool: 4 for "Force 4S stunball. Drain code for Janie will be 2D.":
1 1 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 5 5 5 8
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Sorcery + 2 (Totem dice: Combat spell) + Sorcery Pool: 4 - 1 vs TN 6 for "KP 6/36":
1 1 1 2 2 2 3 4 4 4 5 5 10 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Sorcery + 2 (Totem dice: Combat spell) + Sorcery Pool: 4 - 1 vs TN 6 for "KP 6/36":
1 1 1 2 2 2 3 4 4 4 5 5 10 = 1 Success
«OOC» Janie says, "Gonna stand on 4. He gets to soak 4D+ stun."
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 7 + 7 vs TN 4:
1 1 2 2 2 2 5 5 8 8 9 9 10 10 = 8 Successes
«Game» Backup to offline storage commencing. Game may freeze for a bit…
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 6 vs TN 4 for "KP 1":
2 3 3 3 5 9 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 4 vs TN 4 for "KP 3":
4 4 4 7 = 4 Successes
«OOC» Slinger says, "There we go. 14 successes, minus your 4, yields 10. Hang on. That gives him 10 dice to reflect the spell."
«OOC» Slinger says, "Your will, Janie?"
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) has the Attribute Willpower with the value '8'..
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 10 vs TN 8 for "Reflected spell, coming back atcha…":
1 1 2 3 3 4 5 5 8 11 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 8 vs TN 8 for "KP 4":
1 4 4 4 4 5 5 10 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 7 vs TN 8 for "KP 6":
1 1 2 3 3 5 8 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Willpower vs TN 4 for "Oww.":
1 2 2 3 4 5 7 16 = 4 Successes

Commlink-Mustang> Janie says, "… Rrrgh. No joy. Reflected."

Commlink-Mustang> Janie says, "Recommend we bail."

And with that, the two are around the other side of the building, and out of view. Sam's path to the car is clear ahead of him. People are still running around in utter chaos, trying to get to safety, doing the whole running-in-circles thing. Which at least makes them /slightly/ worse targets.

But only slightly. Sam shoulders one women to the side. Marcus leans over to open the door, allowing sam to lift Dirk by the belt and shove him in the back seat. "Punch it!" he says to Marcus, sliding over to let Janie in the old muscle car. "Dirk! You've been a naughty boy, but I'm going to assume it was for a -very- good reason!"

«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Sorcery vs TN 4 for "Erasing…":
1 2 3 3 3 7 8 11 = 3 Successes
«OOC» Janie gets an average of 2-3 complex actions per combat turn, mind.
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Sorcery - 3 vs TN 4 for "KP 9/36,"
2 7 8 10 20 = 4 Successes

The GetAway

Dirk is breathing hard and fast, whimpering and halfway sobbing as he ends up in the back of the car. Falling back into the seat behind him as Marcus waits until Janie is barely in the car before he punches it. Dirk is leaning against Sam, almost curled up against him like a child, and begins to shake — adrenaline finally hitting him. And as you leave the area, there is already the sound of police sirens; in this part of town, KE arrives /fast/.

Johny settles in to the car, one hand buckling him in, the other sliding back to grab the back of Dirk's neck. "Now, This is the time you are -very- honest with me, else you don't get that chance ever ever again, do you understand me, Dirk? Sammy's a very very annoyed person right now, what with the shooting and the spelling and the exploding birds. Are we crystal clear and ice-chill, Dirk?"

"A maskin' ward like that takes hours, plural, t'set up, Johny," Janie comments. "Half a day, give or take an hour."

Dirk is a wreck. He hasn't shaved in days — and this is the guy who usually kept himself totally clean shaven. He's not drunk — that's good, at least. But he's clearly intimidated as Johny grabs his neck. "Sam, seriously, man! I had no idea! I mean… I didn't know they were going to… to do any of that! What I told ya on the phone, that's… that's all true, man. It's all true, all of it, drek was I an idiot," he babbles. "But… but they've got her. They've got her, and they said if I didn't call you and tell you to come get me, they'd kill her. They already sent me one of her fingers," he says, and bursts into sobs again; fierce, wracking sobs as he starts to cry, experiencing total breakdown.

"Now." Says Sam, letting the man go and closing his eyes. "That sounds about accurate." His features go slack as he starts to analyze the situation. Ares management exec is just an avenue to get to him; the bird was fortuitous. "You're just a pawn. The window to get your girl back is very small. I need everything you have. Janie, I need those people followed, if you can." He shakes his head, eyes closed… "I'm glad they didn't see this car; I'd be really annoyed to have to ditch it."

Dirk wipes his eyes off, breathing deeply again when you finally release him. And he starts to reach for his cigarettes, patting down his pockets. As noted before, he is a wreck. "I love her, Sam, I really do. She's the best thing that ever happened to me. This was gonna be our one month anniversary," he adds, pulling out one of the cigarettes, his fingers shaking as he struggles to get it to his mouth. Operating a lighter has a greater risk of torching your car than it does of actually giving him lung cancer.

Janie sighs. "No promises; Athena's badly hurt, an' once that mage stops crappin' his pants over what I did t'his pet elemental he'll be able t'splat any Watcher I c'n sic on him… " With that, she leans back in her seat and starts concentrating again.

Janie blinks once as she realizes what Dirk just said. "… Wait. Ye said they sent ye her finger? As in one o'her actual fingers?"

Sam nods, leaning back in his seat as Marcus drives the car out of the center of town. "I understand Janie… do you have anyone else on call, spirit wise? Marcus?" He exhales, his eyes closed now. "Dirk. Start from the beginning. Tell me everything you remember."

Dirk finally gets his cigarette burning, and takes a draw from it, coughing a couple of times. Obviously, he's new to the habit. "Yeah," he agrees, wiping the tears from his eyes. "One of her fingers. With the ring I gave her." He shudders, shakes his head swiftly, as if trying to clear it. "I couldn't help it, man. They have her… I'd do anything to get her back, man. /Anything/." But the question at least gives him a moment to collect his thoughts. "About a year ago, I guess it was, some guys dropped me a private message on one of the boards I hang out on, electronics stuff. And they said they had a project they needed done in a hurry, had to keep it quiet so the competition didn't find out. It's like I told you on the phone, man. Timing circuit, pretty simple, and they wanted it all analog. Not sure why, but it was a fun challenge."

Janie nods at Dirk, then looks at Marcus through the rearview mirror. "What d'ye think, Marcus? Amateur mistake or another trap?"

Marcus thinks that over, putting the blinker on to turn left, then taking off down the road. "Hard to say. Initiate grade, reflector, with masking wards set up in advance. I'm going to say trap."

"I concur." Says Sam then, looking over at Dirk. "That doesn't mean we're not going to spring it though."

They paid me, and I bought a new car with the cash," Dirk mentions. "I didn't think much more about it. Never told anybody or anything — Ares kinda frowns on moonlighting, but I didn't see any harm in it. In the meantime, I got me a girlfriend," he adds, with a dreamy note in his voice. "And then, about a week ago, they call me and want me to do some more stuff. But that touches onto classified stuff, and I like my job. And my head, so I told 'em no, sorry, can't help ya. Then, yesterday, my girlfriend turns up missing. Can't call her, she's not at home or anything — I knocked for like an hour, even though her car is there. And then I get this message, telling me I have to call you. Samuel Thayer, it mentioned you by name. And get you into the park, to meet me. To just tell you what happened, and that I was scared." He closes his eyes. "I'm scared all right. Not like I had to pretend. This is deep shit, man. And if I tell Ares, they'll know I was moonlighting, and I'm fucked."

"I'll lose my clearance, my job, probably be thrown in jail or something. And you know Ares jails, Sam. They aren't fun. They do weird shit to your mind while you're in there, rehabilitation and stuff." He shudders — Dirk always had a paranoia about anything messing with his mind. One reason he never smoked or drank or did drugs. And the reason he never had any cyberware implanted.

Johny ques in to something, listening to Dirk tell the chronology of events. Contacted for a job. Bought a car (A clear asset he will have a hard time explaining) and then a new girlfriend. New girls are a classic hook, the sort of thing you send your new asset when you want to keep them loyal, setting up an emotional shackle. He looks over at Janie, then Marcus. "Dirk… Tell me about how you met this girl. Tell me about when and where you met her."

Janie nods at Marcus and leans back to continue listening.

Janie doesn't have quite as much experience with covert ops as Samuel, but the story does sound a bit too pat.

Dirk smiles, a dreamy look coming into his eyes. "It was… man, it was love at first sight. I was coming out of work, heading for my car, and there she was in the rain, no umbrella. I looked at her, and man, I thought. No way I got a shot with this girl. But I asked her if she needed a ride, 'cause she was /drenched/, and she said yes, so I did… and got her phone number. She's /really/ into me, man. And she actually digs all the geeky stuff. I never met a girl like her, Sam. Never thought a guy like me could get so lucky. She's hot /and/ smart, and loves all the same things I do. We never fight or anything…" And he starts to burst into tears again.

Janie sighs, then looks at Marcus and Johny, fairly confident that they're thinking what she is.

Janie tilts her head and frowns as another major flaw in the story suddenly occurs to her… But pointing it out in front of Dirk might not be a good idea, so she keeps quiet for now.

"Dirk. You're a good man." Says Sam then, looking to Janie. "The fingers either not hers, or she's an expendable asset, but the girl was a plant. Classic low-hanging fruit. Put your dream girl in front of you; in a situation where you get to play the hero, let things seem to develop naturally. It's a ploy I've used myself. I'm surprised your 'Human Resources' department didn't catch it themselves. You're high enough up the chain that you should have some occasional surveillance."

Well, if we're not sparing Dirk's feelings anyway… Janie tilts her head and speaks up. "Somethin' else that's buggin' me - if they have that explosive an' a detonator that can't be traced, why're they goin' through all this effort t'single ye out?" she asks Samuel. "As good as ye are, I doubt ye're anywhere near th'top worry y'r average terrorist group might have…"

"It's not." Says Sam then. "They were shooting at me. Not Dirk. It was a honeytrap set up for me."

Janie nods. "Probably from th'moment they first commissioned Dirk f'r th'little job…"

Dirk looks at Sam, then shakes his head swiftly. "No way, man. No. No, you've got it wrong. No way Jenny is like that," he says firmly. "I mean, she's not like that. I've been to her place, met her friends, all that stuff. I mean, there's no way she's fake!" He shakes his head again, firmly in denial of this, though it does look suspicious. "She's perfect for me, Sam. She's the girl of my dreams, and you gotta help me get her back!" There are tears in the corner of his eyes again, the look of a hurt puppy dog that trusted the wrong person, but cannot stop loving them.

"They mentioned you by name, Sam," Dirk points out. "I dunno why. They just told me to meet you in the park, and do whatever. I didn't know they were going to shoot at you. I figured they wanted to talk to you, you know, about work. I…" He closes his eyes. "Hell, I dunno what I thought. I just want Jenny back, safe. I just want out, Sam. Help me get out."

Johny looks back to Dirk. "Dirk. Listen to me. Listen to me very carefully. Listen to what you just said. She's perfect for -you-. She's the girl of your dreams. I will tell you this, Dirk. The one time the woman of -my dreams- fell out of the sky and hit me in the head?" A pause. "She was a dyke. And I know a lot more women than you do." he pauses when Dirk keeps talking. "I'll help you Dirk, because you're my friend and you delt with me square on the undertown Issue. I'll get to the bottom of this. I am going to need all your passcodes for your personal comm accounts and so forth. I have to get my hands covered in electrons to find some leads here. For now, ignore the finger. It's, as I said… either not real, or she's already dead."

Dirk shakes his head again, still unwilling to believe the evidence. But he's also desperate. When you mention passcodes, he hesitates — but he knows you, too. But then again, he /thought/ he knew Jenny. "I… okay, man. Okay. Lemme have your pocsec. But take good care of these… it's my ass if anybody knows I gave any of these to you." The guy runs his fingers across his face and tosses his cigarette out the window, half-finished, and coughs a few times.

Janie keeps quiet again. Poor Dirk's probably already being demoralized enough by Johny's explanations. Besides, this is as good a time as any to check the Astral for unwanted passengers and eavesdroppers…

«OOC» Janie says, "BGcount on the streets?"
«OOC» Slinger says, "Here it's 2, in the part of town you're heading through. I'm assuming Marcus is taking a /very/ scenic route."
«OOC» Slinger says, "Gimme an assensing check."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering vs TN 2 for "Centering against penalties…":
4 10 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence vs TN 5 for "Let's see…":
1 2 3 3 3 4 = 0 Successes
«OOC» Slinger says, "KP has /not/ refreshed yet."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence vs TN 5 for "Let's see… (KP 11/36, assuming this is still the same 'encounter')":
2 3 5 5 8 8 = 4 Successes

Johny removes a clean pocsec, almost brand new out of the box. No personal data on it whatsoever and registered to a prepaid account. "If your girl is real, Dirk… I'll find her. But keep in mind. A video of her in danger would have been more effective than a finger. They wanted you to pop your gourd. They wanted you not -thinking- but feeling, but fearing. They wanted you off your center and moving."

Janie can see it clearly. There's a spirit following the car, maintaining a discreet distance. Trying to stay hidden, and not doing a very good job of it. Looks like just a watcher spirit, probably force three or so. If that. It's small and inoffensive, but it /is/ doggedly following. An invisible snitch.

Janie growls. "Marcus, take another two detours, startin' when I give th'word…" Her last words trail off as she calls on her Power.

Johny narrows his eyes, one hand reaching in to the glove compartment. He removes a Colt Manhunter, a gold star painted on the bottom of the hilt. He offers that back. "They are expensive. Use them sparingly."

«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering vs TN 2 for "Centering against penalties for an F4S spirit bolt.":
1 5 = 1 Success
«OOC» Janie says, "No center. TN 5?"
«OOC» Slinger says, "TN is 5, yes."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Sorcery + 2 (Totem bonus) + Sorcery Pool: 4 vs TN 5 for "Spirit bolt, Force 4, damage level S.":
1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 7 8 16 = 4 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Sorcery + 2 (Totem bonus) + Sorcery Pool: 4 - 4 (Successes) vs TN 5 for "KP 12/36.":
1 1 3 3 3 3 4 4 5 8 = 2 Successes
«OOC» Janie says, "Stand on 6."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Willpower + Sorcery Pool: 2 vs TN 2 for "Soaking S drain.":
1 1 2 3 5 5 5 5 10 15 = 8 Successes
«OOC» Janie says, "Soaked; Spirit gets to try to soak 4D++ with three dice."
«OOC» Slinger says, "Not how combat spells work, Janie :)"
«OOC» Slinger says, "Actually, it sorta does. But it only has to match your successes, not stage down :)"
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 3 vs TN 7:
2 2 3 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 3 vs TN 7 for "KP 1 for watcher.":
2 4 4 = 0 Successes

The watcher spirit sees Janie appear inside the vehicle — but before it can turn and flee, the spiritbolt hits it right in the back. And it dissipates, sent instantly home. The magical connection with its summoner snaps in an instant.

Janie makes no move to accept the colt. "Keep it handy," she replies. "Ye'll need it more than I will."

Johny nods to Janie, sliding the gun back in to the glove compartment. "See Dirk… it's all about information. Luckily the spirit can't mark the car… it's not in the spirits capacity. But, they can mark us. We need to get you behind some wards, now."

"I've got a Lodge at th'Aurora," Janie offers. "Ye'll understand I'd rather not bring trouble on this order o'magnitude home…" She trails off as /another/ unpleasant possibility strikes her. "Dirk, I don't care how stupid or intrusive th'question may sound, but did ye an'y'r girl do th'deed at some point recently?"

Johny glances to Janie, a groan riding just behind his eyes. "Fuck, in the literal and expletive sense.."

Dirk nods, breathing a little harder than before, but he is visibly shaken. "Behind some wards… where are we gonna go for that?" he wonders. He shifts position, and his belly growls — it's very possible he hasn't had a thing to eat since he got the news about Jenny. Or at least, the faked report. The question from Janie draws a sudden blink from him — and a flush to his geeky features. "Uh… how's that any of your business?" he stammers, flustered. Making it very clear the answer is a resounding /yes/.

Johny holds up a finger to Janie. "Dirk. DNA. Material link. Magic can locate you at any time, anywhere, and target you, if they have a good sample of your life essence; A Material link. Like a condom or the leavings therein. Trust me when I say there is not a man or woman in the world less interested in your sex life than the people in this car, but we are trying to get an idea for the level of threat we are facing. Answer any question we put to you. And do it swiftly."

"An' locatin's th'least o'our worries. Rule One o' magic: If ye c'n perceive it, ye c'n cast a spell on it."

"She always used a diaphragm-thingy," Dirk remembers. "Kinda weird. It wasn't, you know, an off-the-shelf kind. The box was pretty plain-looking, like, you know, a medical thing. Figured maybe her doctor prescribed it." He lets out a sigh, leaning back in the seat. "I dunno. I still think you're wrong about her," he whispers. "I mean… how would you feel, if somebody told you the person you love was some kind of… some kind of /agent/?" he wants to know, a hint of anger showing in his voice.

Sam looks out the window then, narrowing his eyes. "You're asking the wrong man." he says simply. "You've been had. Big time." He takes the pocsec then… looking it over. He pulls put a cellphone, making some calls. Time to put hounds on the trail.

The phone is just about to go to voicemail, before a rather irritable female voice answers. "Devries," she says tersely. It doesn't seem to be a good day for Sally.

"Sally. It's Sam. I need a few minutes of your time. Is this a bad time?"

Sally sounds rather flustered, but she takes a breath. "I have to take this," she murmurs, away from the phone. And then she is back, with the sounds of breathing. Sounds like she's using her mobile headset to move around the office. There is the sound of a door closing. "All right. Line is secure," she says, after a moment longer. "What do you need, Sam? Tabitha is doing well, by the way."

"Glad to hear it. She's a good kid. Business time." he says then, exhaling. "4 and a half minutes ago I dodged two fifty cal's aimed for my head in a public place. Heavy magical backup, a honeypot set on one of my contacts. This has the halmarks of a heavy handed, but professional…" He lets that term hang in the air.. "unit. I need counter intel to get rolling. I need you and Greenstreets to pull apart the matrix while I get my principle, thats Mr. Dirk Kouglass, lately of Ares Civil Engineering, Denver, to secured locations."

Sally sounds rather flustered, but she takes a breath. "I have to take this," she murmurs, away from the phone. And then she is back, with the sounds of breathing. Sounds like she's using her mobile headset to move around the office. There is the sound of a door closing. "All right. Line is secure," she says, after a moment longer. "What do you need, Sam? Tabitha is doing well, by the way."

"Glad to hear it. She's a good kid. Businesstime." he says then, exhaling. "4 and a half minutes ago I dodged two fifty cal's aimed for my head in a public place. Heavy magical backup, a honeypot set on one of my contacts. This has the halmarks of a heavy handed, but professional…" He lets that term hang in the air.. "unit. I need counter intel to get rolling. I need you and Greenstreets to pull apart the matrix while I get my principle, thats Mr. Dirk Kouglass, lately of Ares Civil Engineering, Denver, to secured locations."

"Professional, yes," Sally says, taking all of that in. "It sounds like somebody with intel experience, not your typical runners. They usually don't play the cloak and dagger games. Dirk Kouglass… did his parents have a sense of humor, or what?" She cackles, that laugh of hers resonating through the phone circuit. "Greenstreets is working on something, but you're gonna owe us a favor or two, Sam," she warns. "I'm really not support to task Agency resources for somebody who doesn't work here anymore. Especially somebody who's on the burn list."

"That burn list is 15 years out of date, and that mans dead anyway. I've done enough work in the name of the Flag I think I can safely say I'm a decent asset. Yes, of course I'm going to owe you. Once I figure this out, I'll make it up to you."

Sally smirks. "You know the government. The bean counters want everything justified. Gimme what you got, Sam, and I'm gonna find out what I can. You know anything about this guy, what he's mixed up in? Any leads I can use to go on?" she wants to know. "Otherwise we're looking at basically data mining, trying to find the proverbial needle in the haystack. Least you could do is tell us which haystack."

"Here's my download on Kouglass." A pause as he looks over to dirk.. "and yes, his parents were mean to him. Included will be all his personal passcodes and datadrops. I'll join you in the matrix in a few hours, when I can get to a secure location. In the mean time, Theres a slush fund in the Caymens you can access for costs. It's got a limit at 5 large, but if you need more, let me know."

Sally pauses. "File received. Crypto checks out, signature valid. Hasn't been tampered with. All right, Sam. I'll call you back when I know something at this number. Gonna take us a little while."

"Do what you do so well, Sally. I'll see you in Chico in a few months. I'll keep you appraised on that Senatorial Bill thing, too. Clemens out."

"It's a date, Sam. Oh, and when you come? Steak does not mean soy. Steak means that at one time it went moo. I want them to take it, cut it off, show it a picture of a fire, then bring it out on a plate to me. Take care, Sam.

Johny snerks. "See you soon, hon." Says he, ending the call.

Gaybars Are Fun For The Whole Family

The group decides to set the principle up in a rented room at the Mcaffry towers, a warded, AAA structure. He is scanned for bugs first at Goodfriends, down the street
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 10 vs TN 6:
2 2 2 3 3 3 5 5 5 15 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 6 vs TN 10:
1 1 2 2 3 11 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 10 vs TN 6:
2 2 3 4 5 5 5 5 5 8 = 1 Success

The scanner is giving an anomalous reading, for some reason. Maybe some sort of equipment nearby, or maybe somebody installed a peephole in here. One pass, it seems to give a reading that Dirk has something on his torso, transmitting — and then the next time, it's gone, the blip totally faded and doesn't show up again.

Johny is not a stupid man. You scan until you find the anomoly or its gone. "Turn around." He says, running the hand held scanner over the man again, using his personal knowledge of such transmitters to help refine his search.

The scanner isn't finding anything, as Dirk turns around carefully, lifting his arms like he was passing through airport security in the old days. Slowly walking in a circle, looking more than a bit scared with all these security precautions. "They didn't give me anything to carry," Dirk says. "All I got was a coded trix message, that's all. And there's no way they put a tracker on your car or anything," he says, his voice firm. "Is all this necessary?"

"Yes." Says he. "Your girl had access to you, your penis, your car, your clothing. You have to stop thinking like a lover, and start treating her like a liability." Says Sam simply, forcefully. "Anything she had access too is now suspect and unreliable. As for my car, well… I'm going to have to ditch it. That makes me a VERY unhappy man. Do you know how hard it is to find a Mustang these days?"

"Oh, Jeez," the guy says. "Maybe… maybe you don't have to." A hopeful little smile on his face. "Maybe I can help find you a new one. I… I got some cash put aside. And I can…" He winces. "I can sell that car I bought. It's a good one… Saab Dynamit. Bright red," he adds, proudly. Apparently he loves that car. But he loves his life more. "What the hell is this, Sam? What did I do to them? What do they /want/?" he asks, his voice plaintive. And the bug scanner is still showing up negatory.

«OOC» Slinger says, "Marcus has to see it, first. Roll perception, TN is 10."
«OOC» Slinger says, "No, 11."
«OOC» Janie can help point it out, mind.
«OOC» Slinger says, "That's why it's TN 11 instead of 13."
«OOC» Slinger says, "This thing is /damned/ hard to see :)"
«OOC» Johny will cast
«OOC» Johny will cast 'reveal' first.
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 (Power focus) vs TN 4 for "Reveal on area Janie points out.":
1 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 4 14 = 2 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "KP 1"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 (Power focus) - 2 vs TN 4 for "Reveal on area Janie points out.":
1 3 4 4 5 5 8 9 9 = 7 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "Better."
«OOC» Johny says, "That will be a -4 TN on the perception check."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 (power Foci) + 5 (spell pool) vs TN 4 for "Force 4, +2, is 4 Drain. Need 10(8) successes.":
1 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 11 11 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 (power Foci) + 5 (spell pool) - 5 vs TN 4 for "Force 4, +2, is 4 Drain. Need 10(8) successes. KP 2":
1 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 11 = 6 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "SOaked."
«OOC» Johny says, "New TN on the perception check is 7 as the drone moves through the chaff."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 6 vs TN 7 for "Perception check":
1 2 2 3 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 6 vs TN 7 for "Perception check KP 3":
1 3 3 5 5 11 = 1 Success
«OOC» Slinger says, "Hang on. You forgot BG count. So that's only 1 success on spellcasting unless you wanted to karma it."
«OOC» Johny says, "Whats the BG count?"
«OOC» Slinger says, "+1. Which makes the spell roll TN 5."
«OOC» Johny says, "Right, thats 6 successes then."
«OOC» Johny says, "The kp'd roll was 7 succsses, of which 5 would stand in the new TN"
«OOC» Slinger says, "Ah… okay. My bad. So -3 to the TN."
«OOC» Slinger didn't catch that one of those was karma.
«OOC» Johny nods. The one success is still a success at 11, though, for a tn8 roll
6 successes at proper TN
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 vs TN 7 for "Fucken BG count. How I hate thee.":
1 1 2 2 2 2 4 5 5 8 10 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 vs TN 5 for "D drain, force 6 spell.":
1 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 5 = 1 Success
«OOC» Johny says, "Err."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 + 6 (spell pool) vs TN 5 for "D drain, force 6 spell.":
1 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 10 = 3 Successes
«OOC» Janie says, "Half BGcount factors into drain."
«OOC» Janie says, "So only TN 4 for the drain test."
«OOC» Johny says, "Bg count is only 1. The spell is +2 D. Force 6, 3 drain + 2, 5 D"
«OOC» Janie says, "Ow."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 8 + 3 + 6 (spell pool) - 3 vs TN 5 for "D drain, force 6 spell. ~Need 3 more, KP 4":
1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 8 10 11 = 6 Successes
«OOC» Johny says, "Full soak."
«OOC» Slinger says, "So, magic rating 8, right?"
«OOC» Johny nods.
«OOC» Johny says, "Wel, 7"
«OOC» Johny says, "level 2 initiate, but bio ware brings him down"
«OOC» Slinger says, "Times 2 successes? That's 7. So 1.4 meters per turn movement speed on the drone."
«OOC» Johny is just going to nudge it out of track to hit some other drone when it passes close.

It takes a lot of Marcus's concentration, with the drone fighting him — but frankly, the drone isn't powerful enough to resist the spell. And Marcus is able to — slowly — move it wherever he wants it to go. Including, say, into that concrete building, with its delicate little props and blades…

So delicate, so slender… so -smooshed-.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 10 vs TN 6:
1 1 1 1 2 3 4 4 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 10 vs TN 6 for "KP 4/44":
1 1 3 3 3 5 5 8 8 10 = 3 Successes

The third scan, with Sam's determination, shows something even more troubling. This time, it detects the bug. A microtransmitter, good only out to a hundred meters, maybe a little more in good conditions. And the trouble is, it's not in anything he's carrying. It's actually lodged in his large intestine, a little tiny piece of cyberware it would seem — and it has attached to the inside wall of it. Not a good place for it, and hard to remove without surgery — or some method of shielding or deactivating it.

Johny exhales. "Dirk. I have some very troubling news for you." He says simply. "You have a transmitter in your intestine. It's lodged in your lower colon, based on the position and strength. The good news is it's not strong, not powerful. It can only be used within a certain distance. Now. There are several ways to handle this." He says, mentally finding the frequency and tuning his own transmitter to start a blanket broadcast. Harder to track, but more obvious once they know it. He starts a diagnostic. The diagnostic reveals he does not have the power required.

"The safest way, for you, for me, is to simply overload the transmitter. My cybernetics cannot generate a powerful enough pulse. But lets get moving; we have a window while they get another drone in the air to cover the hole we just made. We need to hit a TANDYCorp store for some parts… I'm sure you can think of something, and we together, can come up with something as well."

Dirk just stares at Johny blankly. "A what? How the hell did it /get/ there?" he wants to know. And then he slowly starts to breathe, exhaling, his eyes half-lidding. "The… the vitamins," he whispers, his eyes going distant. "She… she insisted I start taking these vitamins. They were hard to swallow," he says, and then looks back into Sam's eyes. "Holy crap, man. She… she was playing me. Yeah… yeah, I can probably deal with it. If you can get me to somewhere with a trid set, I bet I can. You know the frequency?"

Johny dials up the frequency on his subdermal display, rolling up one sleeve. "Here it is." He says simply, moving the man out. He matches the mans gaze for a moment. "It's a hard world to live in, when you can't trust anyone, isn't it, Dirk?" he asks, his voice low. Not a threat, but a clear statement that this is the world Sam lives in. "Lost my wife last year because she couldn't handle it. Left to Europe with my kids."

"Yeah," Dirk whispers. "Yeah, it is. Oh, my God." He shakes his head, trying to clear it. "So what're we gonna do about it?" he wants to know. "We can't just hide here in the bathroom of a queer bar. People will think…" He laughs softly, and shakes his head, the sort of laugh that isn't quite sane. "Who cares what they think? What are we gonna do, man?" he asks again.

And right on cue, incoming call. Security activated. It's Sally.

Sally doesn't even wait for you to say your name. "What the /FRAG/ have you gotten yourself into, Sam?" she wants to know. She actually sounds rattled — and that's something you've never heard from her before. "Greenstreets is gonna live, but we're gonna have to requisition him a brand new deck. He ran into something /big/." She sounds pissed. "What are you involved in, Sam?"

"They will think we are queer. Big fucking deal." Says Sam, holding up one finger to take the call. "Talk to me." He says quietly. "What the fuck? What kind of IC burns his deck like that?" He narrows his eyes, looking over to Dirk. "I'm glad he's okay. I'm glad you're okay. Did you learn anything? I need a lead here, baby… Cause I don't know yet."

She still sounds rattled. "He commcalled me just before the IC fragged his deck. He only had time to say a couple of things. He asked me what you were doing down in Guadalahara in 2053… what you were doing with a bunch of Nitro-80… and then, just before he passed out, the last thing he said was, 'It's the Ghost Dance, Part 2.'" She actually sounds frightened. "Tell me that means something to you."

There's just one problem. You've never been to Guadalahara, and you've never worked with Nitro-80. Heard of it a few times, just rumors… but never touched the stuff.

Dragging Dirk out of the bathroom and zipping his own fly, Sam moves back to the car. All but tossing Dirk in the back seat, he settles in the passenger seat, thinking the situation over. He looks at Dirk then, and then Janie… then Dirk again. "Marcus. Take us to the U-Stor-It… Janie, keep an eye out for any eyes, physical or otherwise. I don't like where this is shaping up… we need freedom of movement and we need it yesterday."

Janie nods and decides explanations can wait.

«OOC» Slinger says, "Perception roll from everybody, please."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence for "Hmmm…":
3 3 3 3 7 9
«OOC» Johny says, "Any dice from comp skills?"
<Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Intelligence + 3 (Surivellence techniques counts!):
1 1 2 2 3 5 5 5 9 10 11 11

On The Road Again

When you emerge, a few of the patrons stare at the couple, but a few just give grins and a thumbs-up. Apparently approving of the liason, even though Dirk looks more like a homeless person than anything attractive or reputable. Some people go for the natural look, after all. Dirk is visibly rattled, and looks down at his midsection once he's in the car, shaking his head. "She put a… a /thing/ in me. She…" He looks back up at Sam, with those same haunted eyes. The air above you is clear, both in astral and real, physical space, other than the usual drone traffic from corporate security.

"Far's I c'n tell, we're clear f'r now," Janie offers.

Johny arranges the mirrors of the car, much to Marcus's annoyance, to give him a larger field of vision. It's easier to spot drones or tails when you can see more without craning your neck about this way and that way. "Low range tracking bug; we have a few minutes before they get back here with a new drone, unless they had a second one on stand by. Keep an eye out. Marcus, give us the tour of the city. Use as many tunnels and deep canyons as you can. Counter surveillance patterns."

«OOC» Johny says, "Counter-Surveillance Techniques, 4(5)"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 5 vs TN 5 for "GO marcus! I have trained my padawan well.":
1 3 3 4 5 = 1 Success
«OOC» Slinger says, "Fair enough :)"
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 5 vs TN 5:
1 2 4 4 11 = 1 Success

Janie looks at Johny. "I've no spell that c'n mess with somethin' like that. C'n we jam it or somethin'?"

The journey through the streets is slow… and somewhat frustrating when you hit rush-hour traffic. It's getting close to that time of evening when everybody is heading home, those who don't live near their job. Even so, the traffic is enough that even Marcus, with his capabilities, suddenly ends up on an overpass with no exits in sight… and traffic comes to a stop.

Sam sighs, looking at the way things are going. He glances at his watch, then around again, scanning for vehicles, licence plates, faces, colors, grill configurations; Patterns. A cars color can change, but scratches in its paint, dents in its body, the amount of dirt on it… these things seldom do. He exhales slowly, shaking his head. "I need to get him to a workshop, from there I can overload it."

Janie eyes the traffic jam. "Time t'walk from here?"

Johny nods, pointing off to the side. "Marcus, park us under that overpass." He says, pulling out his phone and dialing Xenon's number.

Cars are inching forward, and the overpass is vulnerable from above, especially. Potentially to watcher spirits as well. Whoever this is, they are not going to give up easily, even though they relied on that single drone too much. The transmitter is jammed, meaning they will have a hard time searching. Cars move forward a little, stop. Some kind of accident up ahead, probably. Flashing lights. KE has already arrived, from the look of it.

There's no room for Marcus to pull off. Not even a shoulder, here.

«OOC» Janie says, "How far up ahead? *has vision magnification*"
«OOC» Slinger says, "Looks like about, oh, 50 yards are so. And it's pretty clear after that. Just about a minute to get up there, maybe two, and you're clear."

Johny narrows his eyes. The last thing he needs is to walk in to a roadblock set up on false charges, looking for him. He looks to the scene ahead, trying to figure out if its an accident or a roadblock. These people have resources and a rough idea where he might be.

Janie cranes her head to look, like a lot of morbid car passengers tend to do when passing the scene of an accident.

«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering vs TN 2 for "Centering against penalties for the assense test.":
1 5 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering - 1 vs TN 2 for "Centering against penalties for the assense test. (KP 12/36)":
1 = 0 Successes
«OOC» Janie says, "Fine, no reduction. *kicks the dice*"
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence vs TN 5 for "Assensing.":
1 3 3 4 4 11 = 1 Success

It /looks/ like an accident. There are cars over to the side, and a cop out there directing traffic, trying to get people to merge, looking like a typical beat cop. Over there is the KE car, lights flashing, all that sort of thing, the usual. No ambulance, but maybe DocWagon is caught in traffic, or just plain not coming. The car in question is rather interesting-looking — a Saab Dynamit, from the look of it, smashed all to hell in the rear. The cop, though — Johny might notice this, when you are about five cars back from the front of the line — the cop's eyes are sort of glazed, like he was on drugs. And Janie… Janie /definitely/ notices this. The cop is highly visible in the astral realm. He is assensing… and his aura, it is /very/ familiar. And then he disappears from the astral realm, and Sam sees him bringing a radio up…

"… Trouble," Janie murmurs. "It's our mage friend from th'park."

The trouble is, it's a very good trap. You're boxed in on pretty much all sides. Three cars in front of you at this point, big truck behind you, small subcompact to the right, and a concrete wall to the left. In front of those three cars, the road is relatively clear.

Johny nods. "This is going to suck. MArcus, back seat." he says, already moving to take the drivers seat. "Sorry Sally." he says, to the Mustang, one hand trailing over the dashboard as the younger elf lands atop Janie. "Give me some room."

The Car's engine roars, as Sam puts the car in reverse, moving against the bumper of the truck behind him. "Sorry partner." Says he, looking forward and waiting for the opening to grow some. Three cars ahead. Cars made of plastic. He shakes his head. The odds are bad. Very bad. Truck to the rear, concrete to the right. Cop car to the front of him. But this isn't… an official call. This is something else. He'll settle up with Captain Gill later…

"Mustang Sally, think you better slow your mustang down. You been running all over the town now. Oh! I guess I'll have to put your flat feet on the ground!"

Sam waits for the moment. The moment the cars in front of him are moving forward, inching. And then he makes a move to force the issue; If possible, he'll side out and around the road block, muscling a car or two to the side…

<Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering vs TN 2 for "Centering against penalties for an F5 city spirit":
1 2 = 1 Success
«OOC» Janie says, "Grr."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering - 1 vs TN 2 for "KP 12/36":
2 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Conjuring vs TN 5 for "F5 city spirit coming up.":
1 1 2 4 4 5 = 1 Success
«OOC» Janie says, "Christ, this really isn't my day for rolls."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Charisma + 4 (Athena's back by now) vs TN 5 for "Soaking M drain.":
1 2 3 4 4 4 5 5 7 8 = 4 Successes

The Mustang presses hard against the truck behind it, and the driver blows his horn in protest, angrily. But he isn't mad enough to press the issue, instead coming to a full stop. The three cars in front hear the honking, and the one most directly in front of you flips the bird to his rear, and all three cars are pressing forward. And poor Sally — the three cars to the front almost magically clear out of the way — but one of the wrecked vehicles at the side is suddenly on the move, moving right over to block your path, or try to…

Mustang Sally, Johny's car.

The spirit swiftly acknowledges its duty — and then suddenly squeals for help. It's under attack… but it is trying to follow its orders to maintain the effect, causing the cop to flinch, trying to shake his head to clear it. The car from the accident is moving — but now it almost seems to just be rolling, rolling right into the path of the Mustang…

Janie blinks, then shifts her perceptions once again to the Astral.

Johny narrows his eyes. There it is; the spot. The sweet spot. Math SPU, Encephalon, Synaptic Accelerator and his orientation system work overtime, routing data to the image link, colored icons overlaying reality as he puts the hammer down and shifts the tranny. The car shudders, throwing off rubber and gravel on to the truck behind it before launching its way down the short runway between it and the closing gap.

The gap is illuminated by a vector line, showing the optimal path for the vehicle and the required speeds for achieving escape velocity.

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Car + 1 (Enhanced articulation, counts as I am physically driving the car) + 3 (Math SPU et all) vs TN 6:
1 1 1 2 3 3 5 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Car + 1 (Enhanced articulation, counts as I am physically driving the car) + 3 (Math SPU et all) vs TN 6 for "KP 9/44":
1 1 2 2 4 5 5 8 11 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Car + 1 (Enhanced articulation, counts as I am physically driving the car) + 3 (Math SPU et all) - 2 vs TN 6 for "KP 11/44":
1 2 3 3 9 11 14 = 3 Successes
«OOC» Johny will take that.

There is no way to avoid the collision. You are /going/ to hit that car. The question is, will it stop you? Your quick calculations, though, show you the way to optimize it, to do the least damage to the Mustang and the maximum deflection to get the other vehicle out of the way… and leave your escape route clear.

Your insurance company will /not/ approve.

Drifting. Thats the solution to the problem at hand. Driving in a straight line, anyone can do. Swerving a car down a path, anyone can do. But it takes a lot more skill to drive a car in a straight line -WHILE- swerving all over the road. He double-clutches, moving like lightening to hit the E-Break at the right moment. The result is the rear end breaks free from traction, its wheels spinning furiously, still providing thrust. The front tires turn in the direction he wants to go, the car still -under control- despite its lack of control.

Sally's rear end thusly glances off the Dynamite, a quarter panel crushing from the impact, but doing nothing to the driveability of the car.

Tapping the gas now, he lets the car catch up with itself, the vehicle straightening out with a jerk as he puts the hammer down. "Spirit detail, now!"

There's just one thing. As the Dynamit hits the Mustang… instead of a sickening crunch, there is /nothing/. The Dynamit just passes right through the car. And that requires another test of Sam's driving abilities, because where he was expecting to use the energy from that collision, now there is nothing, and he's drifting dangerously close to that far wall…

«OOC» Slinger says, "Car check, TN 5."
«OOC» Johny says, "Evil!
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Car + 1 (Enhanced articulation, counts as I am physically driving the car) + 2 (Car Background) vs TN 5:
1 1 2 3 3 10 11 13 = 3 Successes
«OOC» Johny will take that
«OOC» Slinger says, "Isn't it? :) And grins. Fuck yeah, you look awesome, Speed Racer."
«OOC» Johny believes 'I'm not a rigger' is a horrible reason to not be able to drive a car.
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering vs TN 2 for "Against penalties, again (Assense test)":
4 7 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence vs TN 4 for "What's attacking my spirit?":
2 3 3 4 5 5 = 3 Successes

In the astral, Janie's spirit is getting attacked by an elemental, one of similar force to itself. Not one of the powerful ones we faced earlier, luckily - this one appears to have been conjured in a hurry. Somebody is investing big bucks on these things. The elemental and your spirit are battling it out, but the cop is frozen in place, trying to force himself to react — and having little luck.

Slinger pages: Your way is suddenly clear…

"Wheres my earth shattering Kaboom?" Asks Sam rhetorically as he quickly adjusts for not having the inertial dampening of the impact of the Dynamite. "FUCKING ILLUSIONS! I FUCKING HATE THAT SHIT!" He says, the car straightening with a jerk as wanted, just a moment later. The Boss 351 engine growls now, eating asphalt for a late lunch, putting miles between the trap and them. "Gotta ditch this car. Gotta do it quick.

He dials Xenon AGAIN.. hopefully this time the spic will actually answer.

Since the roads open now, the big ol car can infact, open up.

"What the frag is it, drekhead?" Xenon growls into the phone. "What part of 'I got a /LADY/' is too complicated for your white ass?" he demands

Another elemental. Whoever is behind this wants Sam dead pretty badly. She concentrates, her skin darkening to an olive color as her Shamanic Mask manifests.

«OOC» Slinger says, "Force is 4… though it seems to be doing well against your spirit."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering vs TN 2 for "Against penalties.":
2 3 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Sorcery + Sorcery Pool: 4 + 2 (Totem dice) + 2 (Athena) vs TN 4 for "4S spirit bolt.":
1 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 7 17 = 10 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Willpower + Sorcery Pool: 2 vs TN 2 for "Soaking S drain.":
2 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 = 10 Successes
«OOC» Janie says, "Of course it's doing well. The spirit's got a +2 because it's sustaining something."
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 5 + 5 vs TN 4:
1 2 3 4 4 5 5 5 8 11 = 7 Successes
«OOC» Slinger says, "You still do D to it. Spirit dissipates. Your spirit keeps following its last order, confusing the guy."
«OOC» Slinger says, "pose it if you would?"

"Sorry Omae!" Says Sam over the roar of the engine. "But I need a car, I need it to meet me, and I need my Mustang taken apart. I know, I know, you'd BE LOATH to put a wrench on my old Mustang, I know how horrible it would be for you. But she's lit up like a christmas tree right now and I need to be a little bit distanced from it for a few weeks. Think you can handle that?"

There's a pause. "You mean Sally? Frag, man… you want her put back together someday, right? Yeah, I can carve her up, stash the pieces, make sure nobody's gonna find her," he promises. "Maybe even give her a tune up or somethin', make it up to the girl. Gonna cost ya, though… what kinda car you wanting? You want it, I can deliver…"

"Yeah, Sally, and Yeah, I wanna put her back to gether later. Go to 19th and Broadway, there's a parking garage there. I have a truck stashed there, a Ares Roadmaster. Armored up pretty damn heavy. Meet me out at the Aurora Fairgrounds in like, 30 minutes with it. Can you deliver that?" Asks Sam, the car running down the road, slaloming between cars as it eats the distance.

Janie's spirit is distracted by having to sustain its confusion service while fending off the Elemental suddenly assaulting it — on the other hand, the Elemental doesn't see Janie's spiritbolt coming in time to survive it either. When the smoke on the astral clears, Janie's spirit is the only one remaining - and it continues to do its job while the car drives by.

"That's two elementals th'bastard had on call," Janie murmurs as they drive away. "Pity beatin' up a cop's bound t'get th'wrong kind o'attention before we'd be able t'explain."

"Yeah. It's a pity." Says Sam, monotone as he slings the car down an offramp, getting off the main road and making his way in to an area of town thats mostly industrial, the sort of territory it should be easy enough to lose any persuit; spirital or drone, in.

"I'll send one of my boys. He'll grab Sally, take good care of her. And for you, man, a bargain — five kay, storage and everything. Special this week, if you let me get back to my girl, that is. Y'scan?"

"Done. Meet me at…" A glance is given out the road as he starts to slow down. "Meet me in the old rail yard."

"Done and done. Pay the boy who shows up. He'll answer for Sally to me. Take care, man. My girl needs lovin'!" And with that the phone is disconnected, leaving you free to concentrate on your driving. Just thirty minutes, and the beast of a vehicle will provide a much safer — though slightly more conspicuous — ride.

More conspicuous, but also more mailable in appearance and form. Not much is more conspicuous than a 100 year old sports car.

The RailYard

Johny slides the car in to the old rail yard on que, not being horribly kind to the undercarriage of the car in doing so. It bounces as the man rattles over the ground, ignoring roads in favor of sort of 'where he wants to go'. "Sorry for the rough ride, friends, but the next car will be vastly more comfortable, I assure you."

Janie chuckles. "Hey, whatever gets us there in one piece…" She murmurs, then goes back to scanning her surroundings.

Dirk is shakily lighting up another cigarette, shaking his head. "This is insane," he says again. "Who are these guys? What do they want?" he asks again, verbalizing what others might well be thinking. "What do they want with you? They were real emphatic that it had to be you, Sam. /Real/ emphatic." He takes a drag, coughs a little bit, while we wait. Poor Sally… but she'll be back, good as new. Xenon keeps his word.

"Dirk, lets just say, I solved a lot of problems in my life; problems not everyone wanted solved or was happy with the solution provided." He says, pulling the car to a stop inside an abandoned warehouse, one often used for ganger-meets. Sort of lowkey but also, easy to spot anyone coming from. "Marcus, eyes in the sky. Janie, clear every bit of anything out of the car." he says, stepping out of the vehicle then.

"I am not a nice man, Dirk. I try to be a good one… but I'm not -nice-."

«OOC» Slinger says, "Perception checks, everybody? TN is 10."
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Intelligence vs TN 10:
1 2 3 3 3 4 4 9 10 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence vs TN 10 for "Again?":
2 3 3 4 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence vs TN 10 for "Again? (KP 13/36)":
1 1 2 2 5 10 = 1 Success

The place is rather nerve-wracking, in this warehouse. But there's plenty of room around here. A few gangers wander by, and you can see them before you hear them. Cursing and hooting, they approach the car, with a low whistle. "Man, sweet ride!" one of them calls out, swaggering a little in the way that you know is gangers getting ready to cause some trouble if they think they can get away with it.

Janie gives the gangers her best "You really don't want to push me right now" glare as a seemingly stray movement of her hands brushes back her duster enough to show the holsters underneath.

Johny smiles politely to the ganger. "Yeah. It's a nice ride." He says, one hand coming to rest on his hip, casually brushing his sport-coat back from the holster holding the large heavy pistol hidden there."

Marcus goes to the trunk, pulling out a duffle bag of things such as guns and other 'on the go toys'. All in all, the moment looks like something out of an action movie. Because, really it is. The gangers should get the message.

The gangers take steps backward when it's clear everybody in the vehicle is packing. "Whoa, man. We didn't see nothin'," the lead one says, walking backward and showing his hands. "Don't want no trouble. Might be able to help, though," he adds, slyly, as he considers the car, the gear, and the way the men are dressed. Shadowrunners, and those are often good for a quick bit of cash…

Sam keeps Dirk near him, one hand coming up to indicate the ganger 'leader' should continue. "You got my ear for 45 seconds, kid." Says he, moving to the back of the car. The truck will have more gear in it, giving him a better arsenal to deal with. Here, he's only got a shotgun, an armored jacket and a few of his 'on the go' tools. "So make them good."

The ganger grins. "Well, thing is, you folks clearly don't want anybody knowin' where you are. Seems to me that that service oughtta be worth somethin'. Now we can /tell/ you that we won't tell anybody, but you don't know for sure. And dead bodies are hard to explain. Or for a small amount of cred, we and our homies, we tell anybody who comes askin' whatever you want them to hear, y'scan?"

"You're right. Dead bodies are an inconvenience." Says Sam as he pulls a Franchi Spas-22 combat shotgun from the duffel bag and cocks it with an iconic sound. "How small an amount of cred?" He asks, turning to look over to the ganger, the gun not pointed at him.

"A grand, and we tell 'em whatever you want 'em to hear. Otherwise you get to shoot us and wonder who all is watching." He eyes the Franchi, and his two companions also have their guns at the ready, though not pointed right at Sam just yet. "We got ourselves a deal? Or is this gonna turn ugly?" he wants to know. There is the sound of a vehicle coming. A large one, from behind Sam. "Better decide fast…."

Sam doesn't bother looking up. "Son." Says Sam, putting the shotgun back in the bag now. "Anyone coming after me? It doesn't matter what you tell them. They will kill you after you tell them what they want to know, and if you don't tell them, they will just rip it from your head." He looks back to the guy now, stepping forward. "So here's what I'm going to do. I'll give you 500 to -not be here-. Clear out for a few few days. Go have a nice night at the Midevio, bang some girls, play some slots. But don't be here."

The ganger has heard trash-talk before, bravado — but something in the calm way that Sam says it really has his attention — and there's genuine fear there, fear that the guns didn't provoke in the slightest. "Holy drek, man," he says, his voice low, falling back to its rough street-accent. He nods at the offer, glances to his companions — and they seem to agree. He hardly even waits for you to shell out the cash, before he and the others are heading out of the proverbial Dodge, just as your truck comes rumbling up.

Johny slides a chip out of his pocket, keying it properly, then tossing it over. He turns back then to the truck as it approaches.

The Roadmaster rumbles up to a stop, and the driver waits a few seconds before he pops the door and climbs a little ways out. "What's your name?" the guy asks, warily, using the massively armored vehicle as cover. Only once you confirm the proper name does he climb the rest of the way out, tossing the keys toward Johny, and waiting for the exchange of vehicles. "Boss said you owe us five grand," he adds, just in case that detail gets forgotten.

Johny takes the keys, gesturing for Janie, Marcus and Dirk to climb in the back. "I don't carry that kind of cash. Tell him he'll get it in a day or so… and if you don't trust that?" He offers over the keys to Sally… "You got collateral."

The driver considers that, looks at Sally, and nods once. "All right. You got it. Boss thinks you're on the up and up. Just always tell us to get cash up front. Pleasure doin' business with ya. Sweet rides, man." And with that, he goes over to Sally and starts her up, gunning the engine a couple of times, before he takes off. But despite his thrill, he's a careful — and expert — driver.

Johny smirks as he climbs in to the big black vehicle. NOw this is more like it. He glances in back to see that the gunlocker and his armor are in place. Tools of the trade on the road and mobile. Yeah. Marcus slides in to the back, keeping the principle (Thats Dirk) within arms reach at all time.

«OOC» Janie nods. Janie and Marcus were setting up wards and the like.
«OOC» Slinger says, "What force of ward?"
«OOC» Janie says, "Problem is the stronger the ward the longer it'll take to set up. So we'll stick to an F4 for now; it won't keep out a ritual Sending but at least it'll let us know one is happening."
«OOC» Slinger nods thoughtfully. That'll work :) Go ahead and roll it.
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Magic vs TN 4 for "F4 ward, coming up.":
1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 14 15 = 7 Successes
«OOC» Janie says, "Marcus gets to roll his magic versus TN 4 as well."
«OOC» Slinger says, "I have allowed people to use successes to divide the creation time."
«OOC» Janie says, "Oh, in that case I'd go for an F6."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Magic vs TN 6 for "Scratch the previous; going for a bigger ward.":
1 1 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 11 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Magic - 1 vs TN 6 for "Scratch the previous; going for a bigger ward. (KP 11/36)":
1 2 2 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 8 11 13 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 7 vs TN 6 for "Magiccccc~":
1 1 2 8 9 9 13 = 4 Successes
«OOC» Janie says, "8 successes total; divide all of them into the six hours base time and it'll take us roughly 45 minutes to set one up that'll last a week."
«OOC» Slinger says, "So remind me where you are again?"
«OOC» Johny says, "Currently in the McAffry towers, a rented suite, behind the standard mcaffry wards, while Janie and Marcus prepare another suit with stronger wards."
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 8 vs TN 4 for "Electronics roll for Dirk to improvise a high-power transmitter on the frequency.":
3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 = 6 Successes

The ward creation goes smoothly, giving you time to get Dirk settled in. And Dirk heads over to the trid set, using his electronics toolkit to begin to disassemble the thing, muttering. "Gotta get it out of me. Gotta get it out." With a slightly obsessive note in his voice.

Johny nods, standing to the side and letting Dirk work, but observing the way in which he works. Sam is still hot-mic'ing, preventing the tracking drones from getting a specific fix on the man.

Whatever else you can say about Dirk, he is good at what he does. His fingers are nimble as he rearranges the trid set… and uses the power supply to drive it. And that done, he brings it down toward his midsection, hesitantly. "Where was it again? Get it out of me, man. Seriously."

Meanwhile, Marcus has driven Janie to the Undisclosed Location they'll be warding, and the pair gets to work weaving a shield that… Well, to be honest, still won't stop a Ritual Sending. Not with Dirk's seed acting as a material link. But it'll make them work for it - and at least if it's done, Janie and Marcus will know what's happening the moment it happens.

Now see, the warded location isn't for dirk. It's for Sam and Janie, who appear to be the proper targets of this little ambush. Dirk was just the bait. Dirk will be, quite swiftly, passed off to Marcus who will put him on a plane for a nice European Vacation.

Johny then moves the bug scanner over Dirk, stopping on the colon-mounted Tracker… "About here, Dirk… be careful."

With Johny's help, and a few tries from the machine, the transmitter is fried. It kind of hurts, actually, judging from the wince on Dirk's face. But when you next check, the transmitter seems to be deactivated. "I… I believe you now, man," Dirk admits, wincing as he leans back. And then he's being ushered off on a vacation. "But… what about my job?" he wants to know.

"I can't say, Dirk…" Says Sam then, exhaling.. "That your life will ever be the same. It's possible that if your good enough, Ares will relocate you internally. May need to speak to the internal security aparatus about that, but I've got some friends that may be able to help, governmentally speaking… depending on how heavy I have to lean on them to get this mystery uncovered. This wasn't about you. Remember that, take comfort in that. You, when all is said and done, should be safe enough. Just a cog in the machine."

Dirk doesn't like that. But he likes dying less. He lets out a low sigh, then nods. "Okay. I'll do whatever you say, man. Seriously. Thanks. I'll find a way to pay you back, I promise." He manages a smile, and then waits to be taken whereever.

It's hard to hurry a good ward, but eventually Janie nods at Marcus in satisfaction. "That'll have t'do f'r now," she says. "Anythin' bigger'n this c'n handle, at least we'll know it's comin'."

Dirk will be taken care of. A ticket to Essen, Germany. Why? Because the last place you look for an Ares mid level executive is the city headquarters of Saeder Krupp. He will be given a fake passport (I'll spend for a R4 SIN, if I have to) to give him a little head start. The reality is once he's out of the area, he probably won't be an issue to the bad guys.

Dirk can cover the cost of the fake SIN, it would seem, and the ticket, routing the money through you to make it harder to trace. But he makes it onto the plane without difficulty. Meanwhile, while Marcus is dealing with that, you have the opportunity to do other things… like figure out what's going on.

Which is, interestingly enough, just what Sam wants to do. First thing he needs to do, is contact Thomas Gill, Watch Commander of Knight Errant. He needs the ballistics evidence expedited from the shooting earlier today. While he does not expect a gun trace, he can match gun type. That gives him an idea who was shooting at him based on training and usual models used. It's more data than he had.

Ring! "Gill." When you tell him what you want, he pauses for a moment. "Should have known that you were mixed up in that somehow. I don't have the ballistics tests back, yet. And even if I did, I can't tell anybody anything. Seriously. This one is being played close — somebody in Ares really wants it kept on the hush-hush.

Janie meditates in Zazen in the center of the wards, paying attention but letting the professional do his job.

"Someone in Ares. Can you go to a secure line, Tom?"

Tom pauses for a moment. "Gimme five minutes, and I'll call you back. On your other line," he says, with a hint of meaning in his voice. There's also a hint of stress in his voice at the same time; he's definitely worried about something, something more than what he's saying.

Johny exhales. "No problem, Tom. I'll be waiting."

Click. Line is disconnected.

Janie tilts her head as Johny disconnects. "Th'plot thickens," she murmurs.

Johny sets up the secondary comcall, routing it in to his deck which has a satellite linkup connection. Setting up for Tom's call back. "So it seems. Ballistics on the hit is being supressed from higher up the chain. He didn't say KE. He said Ares. We may have an internal conspiracy…" In the mean time, Sam scratches his chin… "This is getting problematic." He says simply. "I may need to bring others in. I need leads, damnit! I need something I can follow!"

"This is way more y'r field than mine, but I get th'feelin' this is way out o'proportion t'any kind o' payback hit," Janie replies. "Which goes back to th'question as t'why they'd want /ye/ specifically off th'playin' field right now…"

Five minutes come. Five minutes go. No call from Tom.

Johny nods to Janie as he watches the clock. Count down. Timer = 0.00. He narrows his eyes. Tom is never late. Not without good reason. -1.00. He stands up and stretches. Sometimes things happen. A call. A contact. A bullet to the head. He will wait for -5.00 before he calls back.

Tom is very punctual. Military precision. He used to be /in/ the military before he retired for this post. At -4 minutes, though, you receive a trix message. With no return address. No other information, sent to one of your private accounts. One that Tom knows. "Cannot obtain secure line. Meet me behind the Bakery warehouse at 5th street at 7:00 PM. No further contact until then."

Janie looks at Johny. "Trap?"

Janie ponders her own question, then shrugs. "Then again, even if it is a trap, this is likely th'best chance we'll have at learnin' anythin' useful."

To be fair, theres no distinction betwen Denver Police and the Military. Only the emblem being worn. Sam looks to Janie like she's crazy. "Of course it is. But, thats the nature of the job."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Intelligence:
2 2 2 3 3 3 4 5 5
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls UCAS Military Tactics + Task Pool: 3:
3 3 4 4 5 9

Johny nods to Janie. "He's warning me off. This here." He points to the message. "Thats civilian time. He's a cop, and before that, he's paramilitary. And before that, he was military. He's letting me know it's a trap. He's under observation."

Janie nods again. "O'course, if we don't go, we can't find out who's makin' him set ye up," she points out.

"It's the nature of the honeypot. We have to play this soft. Really soft. Their Mage knows our auras… can't hide those. We're going to have to go to yet another pre-set traps. But I have an idea." He says with a smile, pulling out his phone and calling up Viktor Davion, Arms Dealer.

Johny Wulfson. After a long series of matrix comcall relays and datatrail reroutes. "Hey, Vikky baby. Its Johny. I need somethen special, I need it in the next half hour, and I need it now. Can you hook a brotha up?"

"Johny. Yeah, mebbe. What do you want? And it may cost ya. Better be worth it," he grunts, clearly right in the middle of something. Why is it your contacts get so much more action than you do?

"I need a favor. A friend of yours in Denver who can put FAB II in an aerosol Grenade… and preferably has it -in stock-."

"Eff Ay Bee Two? That is tall order. How fast do you need it?" he wants to know. "Knowing you, yesterday," he mutters. "I can have it fo you in two days, five thousand per unit."

Johny shakes his head. "I need it in 50 minutes, Vik. I know you're the best. I know I will pay for it, but I know you can do it faster. You know someone who knows someone."

"Sixty-five key total, and I can have them for you in under an hour," Viktor decides. "Where do you want to pick them up?"

Johny exhales… Thats more than he wanted to hear. He glances to Janie, then back to the phone. "I can do half that. I can owe you a favor. I am pressed for time and cahs right now, but you know I'm good."

"I've some, but I don't practice th'offshorin' an'laundry ye do," Janie offers. "They'd likely trace it in minutes."

Johny glances at Janie, as if to ask what she's referring to.

Johny grunts in to the phone, selecting a location on the route from the location they are in… to the location they need to be moving twords. Sam continues to talk while he moves to the van.

There's a pause, then Viktor nods. "You're good on your favors. Thirty-two five apiece. How many of you them you want? I can pull some strings, but for that kind of cred… you better not get yourself killed. It's a bitch collecting favors from dead guys, yannow?"

"I'll make sure you get paid." Says JOhny. "And I want.. God. Two is too small for contingencies. Four. Gimmie four. Four should do me for now. That will be one twenty and change."

"One-thirty, and not a penny less. Due on delivery, chummer. It'll be there. And I know better than to ask any questions at all. Vik out." Terse, but he has work to do, and in a hurry.

Janie remains silent and listens while Johny deals, doing an almost credible job of keeping her distaste for the subject matter off her expression.

Johny nods. "It'll be there, Vik. Thanks for coming through for me. I'll see you next time I slide in to Vladovostok."

Ring. Incoming call to Johny's phone. Sally DeVries — or whatever alias for her number you have programmed into your phone.

Johny opens the second line as text across his image link, transducing her call. "What do you have for me, Sally?"

"A bill for a new deck for Greenstreets, to start with," she snaps. She's still rattled. "Greenstreets is still out of it, just so you know. Weirdest brainwave pattern you ever saw, according to the medico. This is something new — not just your regular IC. That means heavy corp, or maybe even military or agency."

Johny shakes his head. Greenstreets deck is gonna run him a cool million. A million he doesn't have. "We'll look in to that. Anything found thats helpful in the field?"

"Until I know more about this, I'm not sending any more assets into harm's way. Sam… seriously, what have you gotten into here?" she wants to know. "What's this about Nitro-80? And when were you in Guadalahara? That wasn't in your file, anywhere."

"Look, if I knew, Sally, I woudln't have to fucking call you, would I? I don't remember being in Guadalahara, but thats not entirely out of scope for me, either. I don't know about the Nitro-80, but I'm looking in to it. I am still at the foot of the mountain stumbling over boulders and wondering whats behind the next one. I don't KNOW yet. You do what you need to do to keep yourself safe, but I sort of have to press on; they targeted me specifically."

"What do you mean, you don't remember?" Sally snaps. She's on edge — having an asset taken out unexpectedly on what was supposed to be the matrix equivalent of a simple dumpster-dive tends to rattle her. Her biggest weakness — and part of what makes her good — is her concern for her people. "Did you just forget? Space on it? Because Greenstreets seemed pretty sure of it. He doesn't go off on tangents."
But something in your voice stops her. "You really don't remember, do you?" she asks, carefully.

Johny snaps the phone to vocal format, as transducing just doesn't convey emotion well. "No, Sally, I DO NOT FUCKING REMEMBER. I've got a head of facts and figures and memories I DO REMEMBER, that overlap, that conflict, that make trying to remember my 5th fucking birthday damn near impossible with strict clarity, but I DO NOT REMEMBER operating in Aztlan at any time in my career. I make a horrible spic!"

Janie looks up and raises an eyebrow when Johny starts talking out loud.

Sally considers that, then nods. "I think you're telling the truth. And that means we're talking an op so black that I can't find anything on it. That's pretty black, Sam. And if you don't remember it — either it didn't happen, or somebody's been fragging with the inside of your head. The question is when they did it — and who — and what they're trying to hide."

"An' what they're plannin' that's so crucial they're willin' t'throw a shitload o'resources at takin' out someone who /might/ know about it," Janie adds.

"If They fragged with my head, they did it more than 15 years ago, thats the last time I had any modifications. If they are fragging with records, you point me at the records themselves… and I'll get them. I'm a better decker than Greenstreets. I just don't like to point that out. And my partner here points out something good. If they are doing this, its a question of why; what do they get out of this that justifies the expenditure they are making to try and bring me down."

"We have to wait for Greenstreets to wake up. All the records in his deck are gone. The thing is wiped, and frankly is a rather expensive brick at this point. Every circuit in it is burned out, down to the EPROMs, according to the techs. You watch yourself, Sam — this is hardcore stuff you're playing with. Maybe the goal is to get you to go after the data, take you out that way." She sounds worried.

Johny thinks on that. "We're playing a defensive game. We need to go on the offence." He looks over to Janie, then back to the phone. "I need… I need a lead. SOmething they don't hand me. SOmething we find for ourselves. Can you get me a track-list of the hosts he hit? I can maybe backtrack that some…"

"No can do, Sam. Not that I don't want to. Just that he was using a sat connection, and there's no way to backtrack it. Greenstreets was always paranoid about that kind of thing. So we have to wait for him to wake up. Until we do, no trixside support. Unless you want to start off on your own?"

Johny exhales. "I have no idea. Maybe this meet will give me some clues." He says quietly. "I'll call you back in an two hours, If I don't call you back, you and Tabitha get to inherit my Sioux Nation Horse Ranch."


Janie nods at Johny. "Right now, though, it looks like defensive's all we've got. We'll just have t'play it smart enough an'watch f'r a chance t'take th'initiative."

Current time: 18:25

Johny exhales, turning the truck to pick up the grenades where Viktor told him they would be. The drone is launched, to hover at the edge of its sensor range and try to stay low, to keep an eye on the meet sight.

Janie looks up at Johny as they approach the meet area. "I think this is where I'll get off," she murmurs. "I'll take th'scenic route from here. d'ye want t'keep radio silence or do I keep in touch?"

Johny listens as the drone rack in the back whumphs, sending a drone in to the air. It makes its way to the meet location, hovering not close, but not far away. It feeds back information to the trucks sensors. A moment is had in which they stop, making an exchange with a man on the street corner. A credstick for a brown paper sack. "Radio silence unless absolutely necessary. These people have demonstrated an ability to fool us, that means coms are not secure."

Janie nods agreement, then ponders again - and as she slips out of her seat, a dark-haired woman with mediterranean features and grey eyes settles into the chair and slips on the seatbelt.

"They might be expecting to see you accompanied by one man and one woman," Athena points out. "Besides, Janie can keep you updated through me without using radio."

Johny glances at Athena. "Alright." He says, getting the grenades out, switching in to his combat armor. "If these grenades go off, you're going to be blind. They contain a non-hostile varient of the FAB bacteria that ended the Bugs in Chicago."

Athena looks vaguely nauseated. "I think your definition of 'non-hostile' and mine don't quite align. If you start using those, I'll have to leave."

"Let me just put this in perspective." He says then, looking to her. "I have no defense against a mage. NONE. You and Janie.. you do. You have magic of your own. Don't look down your nose, EITHER of you, for me taking steps to defend myself against Magi that clearly can fool Janie and her spirit friends. YOu take off if you need to, you don't have an investment in this."

Johny doesn't much -like- spirits.

"Janie is invested, therefore so am I," Athena points out calmly, apparently unperturbed. "Between Marcus and I, you are defended against magical attacks better than even the average mage, let alone unAwakened."

"Easy, Athena," Janie murmurs. "I'll need y'r help f'r a moment first."

"I get to be paranoid." Says Johny then, stopping the van a few blocks away, scanning down the road with his eyes. "It's my job description."

«OOC» Slinger says, "Okay. Back. Catching up."
«OOC» Slinger says, "Janie — doing anything in particular?"
«OOC» Janie says, "Summoning a city spirit. What's the BGcount here?"
«OOC» Slinger says, "Just 1."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering vs TN 2 for "Centering against penalty for a F5 city spirit.":
2 4 4 4 = 4 Successes
«OOC» Janie says, "Penalty reduced to 0, TN for the conjuring test will be 5."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Conjuring + 2 (Athena) vs TN 5 for "F5 city spirit, calling F5 city spirit…":
1 1 3 3 4 4 5 5 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Charisma + 2 (Athena) vs TN 5 for "Soaking M drain…":
2 4 4 4 4 5 5 7 = 3 Successes
«OOC» Janie says, "Has KP refreshed yet or do we keep tally?"
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Charisma + 2 (Athena) - 3 (Successes) vs TN 5 for "KP 14/36 or 1/36 depending on the answer.":
1 1 3 4 4 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Charisma + 2 (Athena) - 3 (Successes) vs TN 5 for "KP 16/36 or 3/36":
2 4 4 4 5 = 1 Success
«OOC» Janie says, "Blech. Either way, drain soaked; 2 services from an F5 city spirit; first service will be Concealment while I sneak my way up the side of the building."

Athena nods and starts to glow around the edges as Janie closes her eyes, concentrating past the perpetual static in the astral space of this city to call upon the genus loci for concealment and protection. Even as Johny watches, refuse and debris flutter in an imperceptible breeze, drawing attention away from where Janie herself starts fading into the background of the city's colors and noises.

«OOC» Slinger says, "Roll me a sensors test for your drone?"
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 4:
4 5 5 5
«OOC» Slinger says, "Pulled it up just fine in Firefox."
«OOC» Johny can KP that.
«OOC» Slinger says, "Actually, no you can't."
«OOC» Johny says, "I use Firefox exclusively, so that may have something to do with it."
«OOC» Johny says, "And I meant a ? not a ."
«OOC» Slinger says, "Another disadvantage to being in Captain's chair mode — those aren't your dice. They're the drone's."

The drone is first on the scene. As promised, it is an alleyway behind a bakery warehouse. The alleyway is deserted, though the drone is picking up a couple of heat signatures, scattered around. Moving around — might be simply people, or might be part of a trap. But there doesn't seem to be anything else…

«OOC» Johny says, "Because your right; exactly"
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Stealth for "+4 audio thanks to traceless walk, +5 overall thanks to spirit.":
2 2 2 2 2 3 4 16
«OOC» Janie says, "stand on that 16 (21 effective)."
«OOC» Janie will use wallrunning to get up the side of the building, assuming there's at least one spot to briefly pause on every 14 meters.
«OOC» Slinger nods. There is. Ledges. The building is 3 stories, roughly, with ledges that serve as gutters of a sort that should easily hold you.

Commlink-(Geist): Alright. I show heat signatures… indeterminate… at this location here I can't make anything more out.
Johny watches the clock tick down as he slides his helmet on, weapons in to place. He's not going in quietly here. Not at all.

Gravity throws up its hands and goes off to sulk while Janie sprints up the side of the building, pausing once or twice on a gutter on the way to the roof, landing in a soundless crouch and looking around carefully, examining both the physical and astral surroundings.

Right after Janie gets into position, one of the doors of the building opens, and out steps Commander Gill. He's dressed in his uniform, and carrying an umbrella. And has a definite scowl on his face. He doesn't like this. He doesn't like this at all.

Johny eyes that, from his own position a little ways away. The avenues, the LOS's are sized up. Where people can be, what can be looking down on him. Who has air superiority, who has the ground level. Johny dials Thomas's number as he engages the ruthenium, making his way closer.

"Janie is in position," Athena murmurs softly enough that only Johny and Marcus stand a reasonable chance of picking it up.

"Marcus, give me a quick recon of that building, spiritually."
Johny said that.

The phone rings. Rings. Rings. No answer. No reaction from Thomas. He doesn't have his phone on him.

In the building, there is a group of people just inside the door that Thomas came out of. Heavily cybered. Only one of them Awakened, though, and he's maintaining a spell on Gill. That much is readily apparent in the astral. Inside, there are five guys, all but one of them cybered. Two with reaction enhancement, and two with some kind of brain enhancements. The last one is almost entirely without cyberware or, in fact, any sort of magic.

Marcus relays that information to Athena and Sam. Presumably Athena relays it to Janie. "Okay Marcus. Look like me. I'm going in the front door."

«OOC» Johny says, "Here's my basic plan."
«OOC» Johny says, "Marcus keeps Gill talking. Not getting close enough to be attacked, while I sneak around the other side and go on the offence, hopefully with Janies assistance. The target is the unmodified human with no magic; THat screams controller."

Sliding out of the van now, Johny is a ghost. 7pm is twilight. Dusk. It's actually really hard to see anything during this time. He makes his way up to the top of the building line that houses his target, not having a real issue climing as he just sort of floats in to position. Yeah, this magic thing is nice. He crouches then, starting his run, moving with the alacrity and speed that only Cybernetics and training or being a Physical adept can muster. Jumping from moment to moment, he makes his way.

Mean while, Marcus slides on his own armor, which looks much like Johny's own. He starts his way down the street, twords gill.

«OOC» Slinger says, "Gimme a perception check, Janie."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence for "Hmmm…":
1 2 2 3 3 5
«OOC» Janie says, "Were KP reset or not, btw?"
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence for "Hmmm… (KP 4/36)":
1 1 1 3 3 5
«OOC» Janie dropkicks the dice.
«OOC» Slinger says, "I say 'not like it matters' because you guys have so much."
«OOC» Janie says, "OTOH, astral perception and innate vision magnification."
«OOC» Slinger says, "All right. You using astral, then?"
«OOC» Janie says, "Yeah. Will Center to counteract the penalty."
«OOC» Slinger says, "Go ahead. Your TN is 3."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Centering vs TN 3 for "Ommm…":
1 3 4 11 = 3 Successes

Other than those, there is no sign of anyone in the astral, at least not that Janie can find. Swiftly, Marcus casts the spell before approaching, masking himself to look just like Sam. That done, he turns the corner and walks boldly toward Gill. Thomas looks up at the sound of approaching footsteps. "About time you showed up," he snaps. He pauses. "Sam… what have you gotten yourself into?" he asks, with a desperate sound to his voice, and a definite scowl on his face. And he's nervous about something.

Of course, it wouldn't be the first time recently that Janie failed to see through something on the Astral. Quite embarrassing, frankly, but she could stay up here for ages trying to see what might not even actually be there, and she's needed 'downstairs'…

«OOC» Janie says, "Is there a way into the building from up top?"
Jamileh pages: AHA going to private room I bet
«OOC» Johny says, "Theres going to be skylights."
«OOC» Johny says, "Any industral building has skylights :)"
«OOC» Johny says, "And yes, I can."
«OOC» Slinger says, "You'd have to get fully onto the roof to find that out. But yes — there is a trapdoor leading downward into the building, though it's locked. Also several thick skylights, and a big exhaust vent complete with spinning fan."

Johny moving in to position on the target building, getting ready to make his entry. "Gunns, I'm in position. You ready to get in position? I'm dropping flashpacks and then smoke. You ready?" Comms Sam.

Marcus's voice is digitized. "It's deep, Gill. It's also need-to-know. What do you have for me?"

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