Grit Overload

Fade to Shadow

Someone is after us. Who knows what for? It might be the cartel we robbed in Baja, or that terrorist group we pranked in Utah, or even Aerochem for stealing the recipe to Sugar. All I know is, I have to check on Stripes.

I drive up to his apartment complex. There’s a similar white sedan to the one I’m driving down the block, so I pull into a driveway, and play it subtle. A large man and a smaller, wiry dwarf walk out of the complex and get into the sedan. As they start their car and pull away, an explosion rocks the block, and all the windows of Stripes apartment shatter outwards as a burst of flame explodes from within.

Good thing Stripes wasn’t in there. If these guys are checking his apartment, then there’s a good chance that they have no idea where to find them. Then again, if they found me in my apartment, they might be able to figure it out before too long.

I send a text to Catt, “Heading to the deadzone. Watch your back, and I’ll see you in a couple days. Pass the word on to the rest of the team.” I suppose I could have sent a text to everyone, but it’s fine, Catt will let them know.

I drive out of the city, heading south. It takes the better part of the morning, but I arrive without any trouble at Professor Bluth’s ranch. It looks quiet, but then again, this far out of the city, everything looks quiet.

I walk into the ranch house to find Stripes suspended in air by magic- “It’s an Illusion!” Professor Bluth interrupts my train of thought and pulls my attention to him. “I see you’ve sent your assistant to try to learn my secrets! I caught him delving into my magical records.”

“That’s not my assistant Professor Bluth. He’s just a guy I know who needed to get out of the city for a while. Besides, look at him, do you think he’d be able to understand your texts?”

“He looks like he just escaped from prison.”

“Yeah, he’s always wearing that… But listen, he just needed a place to lie low. I figured you’d be in the middle of term ”

“I needed to get away from the university for some time to work on the charter for the Alliance, and- wait, I don’t have to explain myself to you! And I don’t believe you! You’ve always wanted my secrets of illusions! But it looks like you didn’t even realize that I had hid it in plain sight, right there on the coffee table!”

While he is mistaken about my motives for coming, he is absolutely right about my desire to have that book. I summon some shadows, yank Stripes from the air, and swipe the book while Professor Bluth just stands there looking confused at the shadows.

“I’ve made a huge mistake. I’m pretty sure the Alliance is going to frown on this.”

On the drive back, I make sure Stripes is alright before dropping him off (and double checking that I still have the book of secret illusions while he is getting out of the car). I tell him to connect with the others, and let them know I have to recede to the shadows for awhile, but I will be close in case needed.

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Job #1: Sugar Rush

Characters

  • Mr. S, troll street doc (Sham)
  • Wombles, troll street samurai (Ali)
  • Shadow, human magician (Doug)
  • Stripes, elf shaman (Logan)

The Meet

Mr. S awakes to a call from one of his contacts, Phillip. Phillip works at a pharmaceutical research lab and tells Mr. S he has a job for him. Mr. S agrees to a meeting with some of his fellow runners at a Soybucks™ in the neighborhood.

Shadow, Stripes, and Wombles arrive at the Soybucks at the appointed time, while Mr. S is fashionably late. Shadow purposely arrives first and attempts to secret himself away by conjuring some shadows. He runs into some trouble, with the man at the register watching him throughout the entire conjuring process. The faithful employee reports the strange man casting spells in the cafe to his manager, a rather large orc. The manager steps out of his back office, approaches the physics-defying cloud of shadows, and tells the magician he’s going to have to leave. Shadow responds with “Okay!” and feigns some footsteps as if he was leaving. The orc assumes a job well done, and returns to his back office.

Stripes and Wombles sit down at one of the back tables and wait for their friend to show, as they have no idea what Mr. S’s contact looks like. When Mr. S finally does show up, he introduces his friends to the man at the table sitting next to them, Phillip.

Phillip, who works for Cyberdyne Chemicals, informs the team that a rival pharmaceutical research company has developed an extremely addictive drug with the codename of “Sugar”. Phillip and some of his colleagues have pooled their resources in order to hire a team of shadowrunners to break into the research center and steal the drug’s formula. The group assures Phillip that this job has their names all over it, and agree to do it for him.

The Legwork

Our heroes decide on a plan to blame the theft of the Sugar formula on a third pharmaceutical research company, Drugs’r’us. Stripes and Shadow are assigned the task of getting some evidence to later plant at the scene. They arrive at Drugs’r’us, and scope out the scene.

Three snaking queues of customers are quickly being processed via a clerk for each line. A single guard is posted on both sides of the customer area. Stripes joins the middle line to put him the furthest from each guard. Shadows stands towards the door. Once Stripes steps up to the clerk, Shadow attempts to enshroud him in shadows. He fails, and is forced to flee as one of the guards shouts at him. Meanwhile, Stripes attempts to steal the clerk’s badge but the clerk is too quick for him. A metal divider slams down, nearly crushing Stripe’s hand. Stripes manages to get lost in the crowd of customers and make it out the door before a guard catches him.

Stripes and Shadow hide in an alleyway and see one of the guards exit the building. The guard pulls out a commlink and starts shouting into it. Shadow pulls out his Ruger Super Warhawk (think future-.44-magnum) and fires at the guard. Completely surprised, the guard falls to the ground with a major wound. After some “run away, return to see if something can still be salvaged from this plan, repeat”, Stripes and Shadow report their failings to the rest of the team.

We all had a good laugh as the least likely to use firearms, the magician, fired his hand cannon on the guard.

Mr. S is not happy with the way things went at Drugs’r’us. He calls up a contact of his that works as a Docwagon driver to see if he’s picked up anyone at Drugs’r’us that night, and if the guard’s badge could be “lost” in the system. His contact tells him he can lose it within a day.

Stripes attempts to call his contact in the Orc Underground to see if they might have a means of getting them access to the Aerochem Solutions building. Not having any time for Stripes petty theft jobs, they tell him to piss off. Stripes might want to stay away from the Orc Underground for a while.

At this point, Stripes is becoming notorious for failing to come through. One of the reasons for this is he kept doing things that required the Presence stat, but he assigned his lowest score to Presence at character creation.

Picking up the slack, Wombles calls her survival nut friend to see if he can forge them some badges. As a serial hoarder, he says he should be able to cook something up and get it to her within 2 days.

The Job

After receiving the badges to get into the building, and the badge to blame the job on Drugs’r’us, the crew head to Aerochem to case the place. Stripes takes some stun damage in order to summon a watcher spirit and sends it into the building to find the location of the formula. The spirit returns, and gives Stripes the general directions to get to the file room.

It was at this point that I had to decide to go low-tech. The group chose their characters from a list of archetypes, and no one picked a hacker. Additionally, no one chose a hacker contact. This was partly on me, since I didn’t audit what contacts were available to the different archetypes. As a result, Aerochem has decided to keep all of their files on paper. Maybe they felt this was the only way to defend against hackers? I guess they didn’t foresee our heroes calling in so many favors to gain access.

The team watches as a number of people are checked in at the gate by a dwarven guard. Stripes and Wombles approach the guard and show him their employee badges. The dwarf nods with approval and lets the two through. Once inside, they immediately head to the file room.

Minutes later, Mr. S and Shadow fast talk their way past the guard, quickly flashing their fake identification, and threatening to report him for preventing their “inspection”. Past the gate, they look around for the manufacturing line. Finding some workers overseeing some machinery, they ask them to explain the process. The workers are confused, not recognizing either of the two “inspectors”. As one of the employees stutters out an explanation, a massive hand falls on Mr. S’s shoulder.

“Mr. S!” A powerful voice exclaims. “It’s me, Chad!” Mr. S turns around to see a fellow troll, which he recognizes from his previous work in the medical business. Shadow gets Chad’s attention and walks him off in another direction, telling him he needs to see Chad’s office. While Mr. S. was distracted by Chad, the stuttering employee had walked off. Mr. S. decides to find Wombles and Stripes.

Up on the second floor, Wombles and Stripes had entered the file room. While Stripes randomly grabbed some folders of employee records, Wombles worked on cutting open some of the locked cabinets with her embedded hand razors. After cutting into one of four locked cabinets, they realize the files are in alphabetical order. Having slashed up some of the files in the first cabinet, Wombles attempts to be a bit more careful cutting into the one they believe the “Sugar” formula to be in. Not having practiced surgical precision with her hand razors, Wombles’ nerves get to her and she’s unable to cut open the second cabinet. Mr S. arrives in the file room, and the crew decides to take advantage of the raw troll power they have at their disposal and just haul the whole file cabinet out of the facility.

The Getaway

As soon as Mr. S. drags the file cabinet out of the room, an alarm sounds. They pick up the pace and start heading towards the front of the building. At the end of the hallway, 2 guards round the corner and draw their weapons. Stripes successfully summons a Fire Elemental (but not without stunning himself) and asks it to defend them.

Back in Chad’s office, Shadow is doing his best to try to leave the room. Chad tells him the whole building is on lockdown, so it would be best if he just stayed in Chad’s office. Shadow responds saying it would be against lockdown procedure for Shadow to be in an office other than his own. Shadow runs out of the office to meet up with the rest of the team. He rounds the same corner as the guards had turned in time to see one of them take a blast of fire from the elemental.

Unnoticed so far, Shadow pulls out his Ruger Super Warhawk and attempts to creep up behind one of the guards. He sneezes and pulls the trigger in a panic. One of the guards takes the shot in his shoulder and spins around to fire his own panic shot, hitting Shadow in his shoulder. Wombles draws her Ares Predator and immediately puts down the, until now, undamaged guard. Mr S. uses his built-in shocktrodes to knock the remaining guard unconscious. Stripes designates the Fire Elemental to burn as much of the file room as it can.

Once Shadow relays his knowledge about the building being on lockdown, they decide to make their own exit. Breaking into a corner room, they find themselves in an executive office. Behind the desk, Stripes spots an employee. He pulls out his Stun baton, dives over the desk, and jabs the baton at the executive. The executive puts a hand out just as Stripes activates the baton, and both people are electrocuted. Mr. S. knocks the executive out by hitting him with the file cabinet. He then then throws the file cabinet threw the window, giving the team their exit.

This entire scene could have gone much differently if the team hadn’t decided to take the file cabinet. It was used as cover, a weapon, and a key (of sorts). Never underestimate the utility of heavy objects in the hands of trolls.

The team believes the executive might come in handy later and decide to take him with them. Wombles throws him over her shoulder and jumps out the window. Mr. S. and Stripes follow, but Stripes misses the landing. Having taken so much damage from summoning spirits and backfiring stun batons, Stripes falls, quite literally, unconscious. Shadow adds insult to injury, using Stripes’ unconscious body to break his fall. Mr S. patches him up, and the team runs off with a knocked-out executive and a file cabinet hopefully containing what they came for.

What’s Next?!

Our team is off to a rough start. They know they’ve been caught on video while in the research facility, Stripes forgot to “forget” the Drugs’R’Us badge they worked so hard to get, and they still don’t know any hackers. How will they dig themselves out of this hole?

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