Seattle 20 Jan 2051
Zero reminds us that respirators aint going to work against the Red Mask. We'll need either NBC suits or a full-face gas mask at a pinch as the stuff can get in through the soft tissue around your eyes. Finlay wakes up our Martha and she puts out the word for us.
I stock up with a jerrycan of unleaded just in case we need to set something on fire. Martha comes through, at least with the gas masks. She gives us the address of a restaurant in Chinatown, telling us to call ahead and then park around the back. The team make a point of telling me that these dudes are Chinese and more likely affiliated to the triads than the yakuza. I know the difference, well sort of.
We make the call on the way in the van. Zero asks if she can get some chicken noodles and I realise I'm hungry too, so add my order to the list. The guy on the phone seems unfazed by our request. We pull around the back and Finlay knocks on the door. A balding chinaman appears wearing a greasy cook's outfit and after a quick discussion, two scrawny chinese guys haul out a crate with six gas masks. Finlay hands over the cash and the cook hands him a bag with our carry out.
We eat on our way to the clinic. Dances is waiting for us. We have some pictures of the dead guy and his buddies from the clinic's cameras but no names. About all we have to go on is that the guys look more like bums than gangers. We ask about and splash a little nuyen. One of the locla gangers, hopped up on god knows what, points us towards an old parking garage to the west, where he says some squatters are living. We drive on over, taking care to put on the masks before exiting the van.
It's quiet. Too quiet. Not a light on in any of the surrounding buildings. Not that there is power in this part of town, but people usually find some way to keep the dark at bay, whether it's a solar charged battery, an illegal power tap or just a plain old fire. There's not even any rats skittering around.
We enter the underground garage unopposed and it soon becomes pretty clear why. There aint nobody living to oppose us. There's a bunch of dead squatters spread over the two levels of the garage. About fifteen all told, and all dead from the Red Mask. Some of them been dead quite a few days. Makes me glad of the mask as it keeps out the smell as well as the virus.
We pile up the bodies. It's nasty work and douse them with the petrol. Should get rid of any evidence of the Red Mask. While we're doing that, Zero picks up a wireless signal and traces it back to a camera stuck on the ceiling. It's burst transitting stills from the garage every couple of minutes. Not live footage but enough to follow what's going on. She loops the footage to show us wandering about like when we just came in and then follows the signal to see where it goes. Not far as it turns out. It still in the barrens, in a slightly better part and just far enough away to be out of the infection area.
Concerned that we might have been made and that we will lose them, we decide to drop by right away. At this time of night there aint too many vehicles on the road. Hell there ain't too many vehicles on the road in this part of town any time of the day. So we take a swing past the location and park a couple of blocks down the street.
There are at least a couple of cameras covering the building, an old warehouse on the corner of the block. They look similar to the one we found in the garage, some cheap wireless piece of Yamatetsu drek geckoed to the wall.
Zero jumps into the matrix and quickly gains access to their system, discovering several more cameras, a sentry gun and a couple of laser tripwires. She loops the cameras, shuts down the tripwires and takes control of the sentry gun. In the meantime, Leon takes a swing past the roof in the astral and spots some twisted spirit of man lurking about up there. While Zero stays with the van and monitors the security system the rest of us head out and up the fire escape.
Leon dismisses the spirit, or at least that's what he tells us and I go to work on the manual lock on the skylight. Only takes a minute or two but feels longer. I drop in behind Finlay and flatten myself against a rather flimsy internal wall. Finlay has already dealt with the two sleeping beauties in the room and we creep out into the hallway.
Then all hell breaks loose. A dude appears with an SMG. Dances picks him off through the skylight while Finlay moves to a covering position. I push into the next room. At first I don't see anyone but Finlay catches a glimpse of movement with his heightened senses and hoses a long burst through the wall at the guy trying to ambush me.
Checking that the room is clear, I move to the next one. I open the door to see two girls huddling behind an overturned bed. Well one is huddling. The other glares pure hatred, then throws a grenade at me. As it bounces out the door, I roll in shouting a warning to the others.
There is a loud bang and flechettes fill the hallway. The thin plasterboard walls take the sting out of them and my armor does the rest. Finlay's lead hose chews up the huddler while I double tap angry girl. Then there is a roar behind me. Another dude is now visible through the remains of the plasterboard on the other side of the building. He is staggering back as Finlay's gun cuts a swathe across his chest but he also has his finger on the trigger of an autoshotgun and Finlay rolls desperately to avoid the hail of flechettes spewing in his direction. I squeeze of a couple of rounds at the dude. The first barely clips his skull with what sounds like a metallic ding, but the second hits square between his eyes.
Then I feel a surge of magic, like someone trying to crush my skull. But it's deflected and weakened and I just give a soft groan as I fight it off. I mouth a silent 'Thank you' to Leon and Dances. I hear the soft crack of a silenced high velocity pistol as Dances targets the mage, then I spot him myself. Another double tap takes him down and silence returns.
Zero informs us that we seem to have woken half the neighborhood. She also detected but was unable to intercept all of the 911 calls. Lone Star take their own good time coming out to these parts but they will come eventually.
We quickly check the place. In the room where the mage was, we find a bunch of medical supplies and some text tube racks containing what looks like vials of Red Mask. We haul as much as we can down to the ground floor and load it into a van done up as an ambulance. They kindly left the keys in the ignition, so when Zero gives us the heads up that Lone Star are on their way, we hightail it out of there.
Seattle 21 Jan 2051
I make a quick call to Crow before hitting the sack. She wants a meet and suggests we go fishing. After checking with Seaside and hitting the sack for a few hours, we are back on the road. Well more like on the water. We follow Crow's instructions and soon spot a fishing boat, somewhat bigger than Seaside's. Pulling alonside, it's clear that they are not really fishing at all. Most of the crew seem unfamiliar with being on a boat and while fishermen tend to be a hardy lot, these guys are just a bit too buff. Crow appears on deck in her cheap suit and a haze of smoke.
We quickly transfer over the two teenagers Finlay clocked along with the vials of Red Mask which a couple of techs, in NBC suits, carefully take off our hands. We also hand over the desktop that was running their security system. It has all has the footage from the camera at the garage on it. There's a short standoff between Crow and Zero about handing over all copies. Zero finally agrees to delete her headware copy. Doesn't really matter though. While we don't have the original video file, her meat brain memory is like a vice, so she won't forget any useful information she saw.
To show her gratitude, Crow doesn't have us killed and even hands over a briefcase filled with corp scrip. Even after paying off Seaside, it still comes to about 10k each. Not bad for a night's work.