a guest Jan 19th, 2020 240 Never
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- In which GummiWyrm enlists the help of her friend Winter to self-extract from Ares to Shiawase.
- The Team:
- /u/PalebloodHuntress as GummiWyrm
- /u/DullSeraph as Winter
- The Hook:
- The run begins with GummiWyrm and Winter together in the former’s apartment in the University District. [Note: The two characters are friends, and have quickly developed a close relationship on the runs they’ve shared together and on the IC datahaven chat - this is not the first time they have hung out together at her place, but it made for a very convenient setup.]
- Gummi receives a call directly to her braindeck - it’s from her loyalty 5 Ares contact, James St. Claire (a childhood friend who helped her to leave Ares and cover her tracks). He has been in periodic contact with a recruiter from Shiawase, but Ares Corpsec is on to him - he quickly gives her a commcode with the sound of a door being kicked-in in the background, before hanging up. Gummi quickly gathers her go-bag and important personal possessions, and a quick matrix perception roll with Hi-Rez detects two silent-running (Ares-branded) commlinks approaching from the elevators.
- The Escape:
- Winter quickly shepherds Gummi out into the hallway and around a corner, just as the pair of KE detectives begin to demand entry to the apartment. Making their etiquette and stealth tests, the two beat a quick retreat down the stairwell and to Winter’s bike before riding off. Gummi spots the stealth tag on the vehicle, and uses resonance veil to make it seem as if the tracker is going towards Tacoma.
- Stopping by Winter’s apartment, they quickly grab her combat gear before driving into the Redmond barrens - Gummi has a contact she can call to provide shelter. She contacts Molly Maguire, a Neo-Anarchist leader who she met in her first run, and while he cannot shelter her at the farm where his group lives he can arrange for a bolt hole where they can stay while the heat cools down; Gummi passes the loyalty test and he agrees to meet with her there in person. Upon arrival at a tin shack near a polluted lake, they find the elf present and waiting for them - Gummi spills the beans on her situation, confessing that while she sympathizes with the Neo-A’s views she still feels as if she’s able to do the most good in the world as a legit scientist. After a little bit of roleplaying and back-and-forth, she is able to convince him of the sincerity of her words and he agrees to lend support however he can in recovering her friend from Ares ("never leave a man behind" and all that - Molly's a good dude).
- The two rest a little while in the squatter-level conditions, waking up a bit sore in the morning. They briefly consider their options before deciding to call the commcode, and after managing to convince the woman on the other end that they are not in fact Ares Corpsec (instead dropping the name of her fake SIN/PI license and saying she was employed by St. Claire) they learn that she was in talks with St. Claire to extract him to Shiawase Biotech before abruptly losing contact. Gummi offers to do what she can to recover him for them, but after asking if there was a “Dr. Thomas” (her birth name) on the list of extraction targets as well (and learning that she was indeed on a short list of targets before she disappeared prior to starting her shadowrunning career) she reveals her identity and says she is also interested in switching employers. The woman on the line seems interested, and they arrange a meet at the Redmond Phoenix House.
- The Meet:
- The Phoenix House is a lovely little Japanese restaurant in Touristville, perfect for a meeting with Mrs. Tanaka (a “talent acquisition specialist” for Shiawase Metahuman Relations, whose job it is to orchestrate the extraction of high-value targets and onboard new employees to the company). The two pass their etiquette rolls to not seem out of place after having gotten a quick truck stop shower, and Winter does a bump of novacoke just to give them a boost on the social rolls. Having done a little bit of research beforehand on Shiawase corporate culture, and with the benefit of Winter’s knowledge of Japanese etiquette, they are able to stack some pretty nice bonuses to their social rolls and manage to tag-team the facing to great effect (the two characters played very well off of one another here). Gummi proves her real identity by showing the woman her actual physical diploma from Ares U (or wherever she went to school and earned her doctorate) in lieu of a business card, and proceeds to explain what she is looking for out of the negotiations.
- Citing less-than-stellar growth for Shiawase Biotech in the aftermath of the CFD crisis (as per Market Panic), as well as their higher-than-average rate of outside extractions to fill key positions which cannot be staffed internally, Gummi provides a lot of good reasons why Shiawase should want to employ her, before listing why she’s a good candidate: she is a very young Ph.D who has sensitive info on Ares projects, she is disillusioned with Ares but believes she would fit well within Shiawase (she is willing to marry, have children, and become “part of the family”, as long as they are accepting of her homosexuality and gender identity, and match her with someone compatible), she speaks Japanese, and oh yeah she’s also emerged. All in all she lays out in great detail how she can fit into the Shiawase Damashii and live up to their expectations of how a corporate citizen should conduct themselves.
- After some truly fantastic negotiation and etiquette tests and liberal application of edge, Mrs. Tanaka seems to be on the verge of conceding the point and moving things to the next stage. However it is at this point that the subject of Gummi’s time in the shadows comes up - Shiawase obviously has no need of a deniable asset who is legally associated with them, but Gummi is able to hold her ground, maintaining that she would be useful to them while still being able to perform her actual job as well. The woman does not seem convinced, but she’s intrigued by the gaijin cat-girl’s boldness and proposes a test of her abilities (as well as those of her “bodyguard”). The two are given some options here and the liberty to decide which approach best fits their combined capabilities:
- Pull a sokaiya (essentially a job meant to embarrass a rival Japanacorp) against Renraku, who are performing PR outreach in the newly-gentrified Ork Underground. This is a largely freeform approach, with the goal simply being to discredit the official leading the effort in the eyes of the local populace - it appeals to them because Gummi knows Renraku wasn’t particularly cool to otaku/technos after the Shutdown/Crash, and because they are modifying orks to look like humans (and humans to look like orks) as part of this PR push (which offends human-looking Winter on a personal level).
- Perform the more goal-oriented task of stealing a virus sample from CrashCart/Evo; the virus was engineered as part of an attempted genocidal terrorist attack on the OU by Alamos 20k, spread via a swarm of wasps which carried it in their venom that had been planted inside makeshift “bio-bombs”. CrashCart (with their already-in-place Red Star clinics, per Seattle 2072) was able to effect a relatively quick response which helped to save many lives from what could have otherwise been a horrific catastrophe (Shiawase of course wants that sort of goodwill for themselves, and the credit for finding the culprit) - this approach appeals to them because it uses Gummi’s specialized virology knowledge and could technically also help out more poor downtrodden orcs and trolls who are still dependent on CrashCart for treatment of the lasting effects of the virus.
- Mrs. Tanaka agrees to meet with them again in 48 hours when they have completed their chosen task in the chosen manner, bidding them a good day.
- Go Time:
- After briefly debating their options, the two decide to go with #2 - it has more concrete goals, and they feel it appeals to them more. They must obtain the research data Evo has put together so far, as well as a physical sample of the virus (preferably in the form of one of the wasp carcassas, as it will have formed a protein sheath to protect itself, and blood from an infected patient will have mutated to the point that a reliable retroviral treatment cannot be created). After returning to their bolt hole and doing a deep dive on the news of the attack and on the Crash Cart clinics in the underground, they identify the clinic where the lead scientist in charge of the effort is working (though they don’t know it, it is Dr. Franklin from my second run on the Hub as a GM, a fellow recent extraction target). Gummi pops some hacker candy and dives into VR, managing to deal with the minor noise penalty in the underground to locate the clinic’s host. Using her newly-registered machine sprite as well as a compiled crack sprite she got about 5 services on, she manages to sleaze her way inside of the finely-sculpted hospital host, navigating the corridors while avoiding the Patrol IC orderlies. Finding the quarantine wing, she uses weaken data bomb to get past the lock (a data bomb, natch) and editor to pass through the chem-sealed door (an encryption) to retrieve the file detailing Dr. Franklin’s research. She is also able to hide from the host long enough to make her way to the records room and find the file which details what happened to the wasps that were collected - most were incinerated, some were kept as specimens, and a small amount (estimated at less than 5%) were never found.
- Armed with this data, the two leave their bolt hole and go to a barely-above-squatter level no-tell motel to crash for the night before plotting out their plan of action in the OU. Winter rolls an impressive 8 hits on her AK: Seattle, and as she’d been to the OU on several previous jobs (including one with Gummi) I gave her the full info dump on the place. Using her knowledge and superior opsec skills, Winter decides against a public entrance like the Big Rhino (which is good, as the KE detectives knew enough about Gummi from her public awareness and meFeed profile to determine this was somewhere she’d been before) and opts instead for a relatively unknown one near Touristville which will take them to the lower, un-gentrified level (but not so deep as to encounter feral ghouls and other such nasties). Gummi uses her virology knowledge and the data she gathered to determine that it is no longer contagious in infected subjects, and that there is no risk of contracting it themselves - they will not need full chemsuits for this job.
- Upon entering the OU, the two almost immediately run into Skraacha thugs - the cat-girl and the human-looking ork (who’s potentially an ork poser) might have been in for a really rough time and even a serious fight with the neighborhood tough guys if they didn’t roll *amazingly* on their team-worked etiquette rolls to pacify them. With 5 net hits each however, the goons ended up looking at the two endearingly, with one taking a particularly big-brotherly protective attitude towards them. Gummi loves the affection, but Winter is a bit bothered they think she’s a poser and decides to reveal her identity - with 7 street cred to her name and a previous noteworthy incident to reference, the guy recognizes her and immediately begins showing a more respect.
- [Note: at this point it was getting rather late, so I decided that instead of having Winter flex her burgeoning B&E abilities by breaking into the clinic I’d instead let her practice her facing by convincing this guy to lead them to a site where the bio-bombs went off to look for samples.]
- After a few more social checks to avoid offending anyone, the two finally convince the Skraacha that they are not in fact corporate plants sent down here to try and “sterilize them with those vaccinations”. With a fight avoided, Winter flexes her rep a bit and manages to get one of them to lead them through the alleyways and tunnels of the OU to a narrow, enclosed space between buildings where one of the bio-bombs was found (and left alone). The two navigate their way into the space, finding a tight 3mx3m space filled with air conditioning units, and manage to spot something on a ledge about 10m up - after a failed attempt to boost Gummi up (damn weeny hackers and their poor upper-body strength), Winter employs her climbing claw to scale the wall and drop a rope. On the way up, she notices some impressions in the brickwork and a torn-out piece of masonry, and upon closer inspection of the area finds both the cannister’s remains and another piece of machinery that looks as if it might have fallen out of the AC.
- When Gummi finally manages to climb the rope, she inspects the canister and finds several wasp carcases inside - concluding that there should still be viable samples of the virus in their venom glands, she collects them (careful to observe lab safety protocols and wearing personal protective equipment, just in case) and the canister as well (though it is fairly worthless as a clue). Winter meanwhile examines her find, discovering it to be a climbing claw which seems to have been accidently ripped out of someone’s hand after the poorly-installed ware became entangled in the wiring and detached - it would simply be a clue, were it not for the modification that’s been made to it (an ingenious spring-loaded lock-and-release mechanism which seems to extend the reach of the claw without sacrificing grip strength). After Gummi disinfects it, Winter pockets the curious find and begins mentally planning on how to attach it to her cyberarm.
- The Handoff:
- The handoff was relatively simple - the two called Mrs. Tanaka, and instead of meeting with her at the restaurant they decide on somewhere slightly less public, meeting instead at a semi-secluded park. Mrs. T has a large man shadowing her but there are no obvious sniper nests or other threats ready to geek the two of them when they arrive. Gummi hands off the samples and the data after formally presenting her terms, and they are accepted without issue. Before making things official, Gummi broadcasts one last video on her meFeed, tagging Ares Global Media as she put the AAA on blast for all its bullshit.
- Run Time:
- Start: 2:30 UTC - 1/19
- End: 8:00 UTC - 1/19
- Total Time: 5.5 hours
- GummiWyrm had her Corporate SIN switched from Ares to Shiawase (on a provisional basis - if she slips up and offends her new handler somehow there could be serious consequences here, including demotion to Corporate Limited or full revocation of employment and citizenship). She also received a new 4/1 Shiawase handler contact, who will be keeping a close eye on her activities. She has also had her Corporate Pariah (Ares) quality increased from level I to II, as her previous Ares SIN is now burned; additionally, she has Records on File (Ares) as well - those records are somewhat out of date at this point (as she’s undergone elective cosmetic and gender reassignment surgery since leaving, though Ares is aware of this fact). Her contact James St. Claire, who called her at the start, will remain unavailable until she completes a follow-up PSR to extract him from Ares custody - possibly buying off Records on File in the process as well. I didn’t think it was fair to also burn her fake Ares SIN, so she still has that for now, but the associated lifestyle has been changed to a new one reflecting her new situation (as she’s still in chargen month the matter of partial rent is a non-issue). Her *other* Ares contact (and literal fiance) will not be at all happy to hear of this, and will actively work against her in the future - the contact is essentially unavailable, pending replacement with a functionally-identical Shiawase-approved marriage candidate (again, a purely thematic change).
- Winter has received the Prototype Materials upgrade for her climbing claw, granting it +1 reach. She also has the satisfaction of helping yet another runner with their personal problems - the girl has some real friends in the shadows, if she ever needs them.
- Both players also received +3 Shiawase reputation (+1 for negotiations kept, +2 for advancing their interests). Mrs. Tanaka may hire them in the future, if she ever posts a job on the Hub.
- GM Rewards:
- 4 GMP for a solo, +2 for getting the AAR in within 72 hours = 6 GMP total
- Placing all 6 on Vicarious as karma. Spending 1 point on a rank in Popular Culture, adding the other 5 to her pool for a current total of 15 and holding onto it for now.
- Hub/TD Fodder:
- This was a bit of an odd one in terms of solos and rewards. The origin is that GummyWyrm’s player was dissatisfied with their choice of Ares as an employer for a variety of legitimate thematic reasons, but the character had received so many runs so quickly after joining the Hub (literally 4 in 4 days) that by the time this was realized it was too late to resubmit. Having enjoyed having the character on my table and appreciating the player’s enthusiasm, we worked to develop this solo (and a related future PSR to tie up all the loose ends that resulted from this) as a solution and I proposed it to the rest of TD for approval - the player understands and approves of the fallout and consequences of this run as character development. I will cover the specifics of the onboarding with Shiawase in between this and the planned PSR, but there should be no real mechanical changes to the character beyond the addition of a new contact, as we essentially ignore what a character does as a day job. She has been made to understand the life-ending penalties for betraying any information learned on the Hub to Shiawase, and has simply resolved not to run against them in the future (we'll see how it works out…)
- As mentioned above, Winter came along because the characters had run together twice already and developed quite a close bond. Sereph really wanted Prototype Materials for Winter’s already-twice-spec-modded climbing claws (as this quality can only be granted as a run reward), and I hope I came up with an elegant enough way to drop that in. I figured just getting it from a corp as a reward wouldn’t really make much sense, and it’s a bit of a strange thing to steal from a weapons lab or something (as it’s not a spur but an explicitly legal implant not really designed for combat so much as utility), so having them find the jury-rigged device (which was accidentally left behind by the Alamos 20k agent who planted the bio-bomb after they were almost caught in the act) seemed like a good way to resolve the matter.
- The OPFOR here was a bit light (a pair of PR 4 KE detectives who could have arrested Gummi and caused real issues if they were senselessly murdered, as well as half a dozen PR 2 Skraacha mooks with reinforcements available), with the real challenge coming from navigating social situations - I think this fits well with my goal for solo adventures, which is role-playing and character development more than contests of dice rolling. The detectives were skillfully avoided with proper paranoia (they were on her trail after her previous run, which was against Ares, and would have staked out anywhere that appeared in Gummi’s social media, which had been played up in previous runs and was an important factor in her gaining a point of PA), and the Skraacha could have posed a physical challenge for the muscle but were talked past instead.
- The title of this run is not in fact a reference to the CGL transhumanist sci-fi horror game, but rather to the biological concept - the eclipse phase refers to the time between initial infection by a virus and the first appearance of symptoms.
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