May 20, 2013

Billie's Journal - Ancestors

Seattle, 02 Feb 2052
Well fake Maxim is sure setting us up good. All he wants is the head of some corp honcho and we got only a short window to get it. According to the data he gave Zero, our target will be heading to some fancy vacation home on Salish Sidhe land. Land that just happens to be a nature reserve so there shouldn't even be a house on it.

We get a name and a description, white male, middle-aged but no picture. Could be fragging anyone. A search of the matrix turns up a bunch of dudes with the name but none that are obviously our target.

Checking Friends4Life is about the limit of my computer skills, so I do what I do best and go shopping for running gear with Finlay. Top of the list is some camo outfits with thermal dampening and some gas masks. Some haggling with the Crime Alley regulars nets them at slightly over cost. I think they are starting to recognise me as a regular.

Zero does some more digging on the mark, but hits a wall until one of her old contacts recognises the style of the house. That gives her the name of some architects in New York and with some prudent hacking she pulls up an owner and the name of the mark. Unfortunately, the owner is Mitsuhama and the mark is Jack Barnard, CEO of Yamatetsu USA. Just great. Worse, the little extra info that she is able to find is that Mr CEO has a personal bodyguard with a solid rep that makes most runners look like punks with streetline specials.

Things look even gloomier when Henry's astral flyby of the place reveals a warded building and at least one big spirit on patrol. From the shots we have of the building it's clear there is a good 200 meter kill zone all around the house and Henry points out where he saw several dark spots on the open lawns. Dances reckons they are pop-up mini-turrets. Hell, we don't even want to off this dude, but I don't see how we can even get to speak to him without getting ourselves killed.

Then Henry drops another bombshell. If we want him on this job, we need to go rescue his ancestors from the ghouls first. Guess we were going to have to deal with them sometime. Can't be more difficult than breaking into a corp CEO's island retreat, can it?

Finlay decides that our new armor isn't good enough for going up against ghouls. He wants some with chem protection in case one of them decides to chew on us. But Henry wants to do this like right now. So Finlay calls Mazeltof, the Jewish weapons dealer. Mazeltof has a rep for getting things quickly. But that means he ain't cheap. However, he is as good as his rep and we are off to pick up more gear less than 24 hours after our visit to Crime Alley. When we return with the ex-UCAS urban camo armor, Dances swears that his is his old army outfit.

Seaside's place is starting to look like the staging area for a military assault.

Seattle, 03 Feb 2052
We suit up and head down into the sewers. Zero is still digging up data, but Aurora delivers digital plans for the sewer grid that Dances uploads into his headware. As long as he doesn't get ganked we shouldn't get lost. Aurora also gets us past the security, not that there is much beyond a camera and maglock at the entrance to the storm drain. It even looks like its set up more to keep stuff in that keep us out.

Henry conjures a spirit to guide him and we follow it. Well he follows it and we follow him. Dances confirms that there is actually a spirit there.

I've brought the Ares X1 with me. I haven't had a chance to field test it but if we do run into ghouls, its got the firepower needed to deal with them. And there are plenty of signs that someone is living down here. Piles of trash look to have been set up to provide cover and channel attackers down certain paths. We also start to catch glimpses of movement although hard to tell if it's ghouls or just dire rats.

Dances says he thinks he hears a kid crying and then all of a sudden there is a bunch of ghouls coming at us. I fire the grenade launcher hoping to take them out but I'm not used to judging the arc of the grenades and it falls short. At least it slows them down for a moment.

From behind me I hear Finlay open up full auto. It's about all I can hear for the next ten minutes. I fire a couple of short bursts at the approaching ghouls but frag they are moving fast and the assault rifle kicks up despite the recoil compensators. Dances comes to my aid, his big shotgun filling the space between me and the ghouls with a hail of pellets. It slows them enough for us to get off another burst. The one ghoul still standing again dodges my long burst, but Dances shreds it with another burst from his shotgun.

Guess I need to take this gun out to the range and get some serious practice in. I sling it over my shoulder and draw the Kimber. The familiar feel of the heavy pistol in my hand puts me somewhat at ease. There's a long silence in which I can only hear my ears ringing. But the show of fire has got the ghouls to back off. For now, at least. We move, heading in the direction of the child's cry. If these fraggers do have some kids down here, we'll get them out.

We are moving through a narrow tunnel when there is a ting. Finlay attempts to leap backwards but the rusty bear-trap snaps shut on his leg. Bet he's glad of those new leg casings he bought because that's all that's stopping the gore covered trap from chewing into his leg.

Then, before we can get Finlay free, the ghouls open fire. Great, ghouls with guns. I take a couple of pistol rounds, one in the shoulder of my cyberarm and a second that punches through a weak spot in my armor and takes a chunk out of my side. At least they are regular 9 mm and not the EXEX I've got loaded. My adrenaline kicks up a notch, drowning out the pain.

The second ghoul shooter has a shotgun and takes a potshot at the trapped Finlay. Fortunately the big ork has more than enough armor to soak the heavy round. Two more ghouls burst out concealed tunnels on either sides of us. One of them gets a hold of Henry's legs pulling him down and half into the tunnel. Finlay lashes out with his spear taking down the second attacker before he gets a grip on any of us, and Dances fires a burst from his shotgun at the one shooting at Finlay.

I bring the Kimber up in a smooth arc, squeezing off the first round into the pistol wielding ghoul's chest and letting the recoil lift the gun to put the second between her eyes. And despite his injuries, Henry manages to keep his cool and blasts the ghoul trying to drag him off with his magic. For the second time tonight, all I can hear is the ringing of my ears. We drag Henry out of the pipe and Dances patches him up as best he can in the crappy conditions. But all he can really do is stop the bleeding and pump him full of antivirals. Then, he does the same for me and Finlay.

The space at the end of the tunnel has been converted into a grisly sitting room. Gnawed bones lie amidst tattered furniture and children's toys. I had heard that some ghouls didn't go feral, but can they still have kids? While Henry digs around to recover his ancestors remains, I leave a little present for the ghouls should they come back, a couple of charges of C4 on a one hour timer.

Once Henry seems happy he has all the bones he can recover, we get the frag out of Dodge.