HCB awakens again, in yet another holding cell. He is getting sick of this shit. As he regains awareness, his head still feels lighter and he is really missing the lack of his olfactory booster, which seems to have been disabled or removed. Without his suit/helmet and comm, he can’t even access his internals to tell what’s missing. He notices that he now shares a cell with three other people: one ork and two humans. The ork and one of the humans appear to be asleep or unconscious. The other human is watching him intently. When HCB reacts, this person starts talking.
He tells HCB that he has been sent by a mutual friend to inform HCB of the terms of his current employment. Mr Johnson is apparently not thrilled at HCB going to jail ahead of schedule, as it cost quite a lot to send this person in. He has been imprinted with a construct persona capable of answering limited questions regarding the job and providing basic parameters, as well as discussing compensation to some degree. He has disabled the other two prisoners with a poison concealed on his person, and temporarily jammed the comms leaving the cell’s monitoring systems. When the guards ineveitably come to investigate, a transmitter in his head will emit a HF tightbeam signal to a nearby concealed transponder, which will relay the conversation to Mr Johnson, who will then arrange for the rest of the team to join HCB. Obviously, this is expensive and rather unideal, but Mr J is trying to make the best of a bad situation.
HCB and Mr J’s messenger converse about the job: the basic plan is that HCB will first enter the main facility and get processed, as all prisoners do. Having no useful gang or syndicate ties to help him out, he will have to find his own allies in the main complex to help him gain access to a travel pass to leave for the external farms/factories/labs. Once he has the pass, he needs to do a few things. He needs to find a farm where he can either permanently or temporarily disable the sensor grid to allow the rest of the team to drop in (although any of them that wish to come in through the jail will be encouraged to do so, as it will be far easier). He will also need to plan for future access to a farm where he can once again disable the sensors to allow for pickup/extraction, although that can wait until after the team arrives. HCB also needs to gain access to a factory where the team can produce the mechanisms of their escpae, plans for which will be sent along with the rest of the team. HCB can also lay the groundwork for the actual mission as much as he is able: namely, finding out how best to gain access to the Faraday cages in the secure wing of the main complex in order to extract the target. THe messenger promises that compensation for this job will be commesurate to the difficulty of the tasks at hand.
Unfortunately, they are not able to discuss much further as the guards arrive more quickly than expected. The messenger’s eyes flash briefly and he emits a high scream and begins bleeding from his eyes and ears before collapsing on the ground. The guards rush in and forcibly subdue HCB, who is about as suprised as they are. As they search the messenger’s body, they find a number of Black Shadows tattoos. They then beat HCB into unconsciousness.
He awakens a bit later (he thinks not too long) staring into space. He appears to be enclosed in some sort of small pod with a transparent front. He panics briefly as he is encased in some odd sort of gel, but this is cut short by a far greater panic as he suddenly drops rapidly towards the moon below. He appears to be traveling at fairly extreme speeds, explaining the cushioning gel. It is still fairly crushing, both physically and mentally. The speed keeps up until he enters the atmosphere (Deimos was terraformed before Mars, as a test run), at which point his pod breaks heavily, jolting him again. HCB gets a brief overview of the prison layout, although the closer horizon lines of the small moon prevent him seeing as much as he would like. His pod lands on some sort of pad, and splits open, spilling him and the gel onto the nearby pavement. Some guards in full armor armed with submachine guns gesture him over to a small building on the edge of the complex. He enters, and is processed thru-they record his SIN and biodata, assign him a prisoner number, and inject him with tracking nanotech in order to make sure he is where he is supposed to be. The guards ignore his attempts ar conversation, and HCB cannot make out there faces behind their full riot gear.
HCB exits the processing center thru the back and heads down a set of stairs. At the bottom, he takes a seat in the waiting railcar. He recognizes the ork from his holding cell sitting across from him, and strikes up conversation, braggin about how he killed the BS guy in the cell. The ork seems nervous about talking shit on the BS, and warns HCB that they have a lot of people in here. HCB laughs it off, and talks about how many of them he has been killing lately. The ork moves a couple seats away as the train starts moving. It is a fairly short trip to the main complex, where they emerge into a common area off of the messhall and cellblocks. The prisoners from the train split off, and some head off with group or individuals that seem to have been waiting for them. HCB, unsure what to do, mills around a bit.
All of a sudden, he realizes that there are no guards in sight. He bolts for one of the doors as the room clears out, but it slams shut-the ork from the train apologizes on the other side. HCB turns around and finds three human males sporting BS tattoos approaching him. He tries another door-also locked/barred. The center BS goon tells HCB that he’s got a message from Longpig for him, they engage in some fairly uninspired insult oneupmanship, and then HCB tries to kick him in the balls. The goon deflects th first blow, and hammers HCB in the side with a pipe. The other two goons are circling around, but appear to be following the center goon’s lead. HCB tries to kick him again, and connects this time, sending the goon to the floor with a groan. The other two goons are wailing on him now, but he focuses his attacks on the guy on the floor, stomping on the back off his head and knocking out most of his teeth on the hard concrete floor. HCB takes a hard hit in the back with a pipe from one of the other goons just as some guards rush in and begin breaking up the fight. They finish sending HCB back to the realm of the unconscious, where he has been spending so much time lately.
He awakens sometime later in what seems to be a prison hospital. He drifts in and out of consciousness for a while, and eventually feels able to move about some. He strikes up a conversation with a neighboring convalescent, an Amerindian man named Malice. They trade some stories and info, and HCB finds out he is in the Anarchist Black Cross controlled prison hospital. They also run the library, tech schools, and some of the other main complex facilities. The Mars City Street Gang Collective operates under leadership from some upper echelon Ancients lifers from Earth. They run the messhall and most of the cellblocks, although the AB+ controles their own living areas. Malice warns HCB against the Ancients/MCSG. These seem to be the two main factions in the genpop areas of the main complex. HCB convinces Malice to help him get a job in the prison library, due to his love of sci-fi, although it seems Malice doesn’t really trust him, and is somewhat evasive about the possibility of HCB acquiring a travel pass. HCB is consistently disappointed that no-one seems to have heard of the Crod Stompaz in here, and sets about rectifying that.
After his first shift at the library, HCB heads to the messhall. He is stopped in line and told that Keb wants to see him, and directed over to a young man sitting alone at a nearby table. HCB joins him-Keb is a human male in his late teens/early twenties, and is covered in prison tattoos. Keb suggests that HCB can help out the Ancients since he seems to have access to the AB+ areas of the prison. Keb is looking to expand his turf and impress Luther, the head Ancient, it seems. He wants HCB to find a way to sneak a bunch of gangers into AB+ areas and take over the hospital as a first step. HCB says he will do it and will go look around for a way in. Keb tells him he better not take too long. Keb is kind of obnoxious, but he says he can help HCB get a travel pass and other privileges.
HCB gets up and starts leaving. He decides to start a fight in the hopes of getting sent back to the hospital, and getting a chance to look about. He starts saying the most insulting military specific slang he knows until someone reacts. A guy tries to jump up and swing at him from a nearby table, and HCB swings back. He is soon shot in the back from a gantry above by an Lonestar guard with a nonlethal projectile of some sort. He fakes a seizure until the guards approach and beat him some more before commanding some of the other inmates to take him to the hospital. This time he strikes up a conversation with an African ork named Samson. They discuss sci-fi classics, and Samson talks some shit on the Ancients. HCB asks after Malice, and then gets up to wander around. He encounters Malice as he is exploring a stairwell that seems to have maintenance tunnel access. Malice tells HCB that he has been seen with Keb, and that he best watch his back, if that’s how he’s going to play things. HCB heads out after pretending like he’s not working with Keb at all.
He goes back to the messhall later and tells Keb that he found a way in thru a maintenance tunnel, and Keb tells him that they are going in that night-Keb will arrange for HCB’s cell to open, and then he will sneak to a camera free area to meet up with the rest of the force, and lead them to the tunnel. HCB tries to weasel out of going, but Keb won’t have it. After some contemplation, HCB decides to tell the AB+ about the planned invasion. He finds Malice and fills him in, Malice thanks him and tells him how to actually get into the maintenance tunnel (which HCB hadn’t bothered to figure out) via a nanotattoo map. Malice tells HCB to make sure he isn’t in front when they come down the tunnel. HCB heads back to his genpop cell and waits for night.
As promised, his cell slides open around midnight. He exits and attempts to sneak to the rendevouz. Although he is fairly quiet, he unfortunately manages to let nearly every other prisoner see him as he keeps halting directly in front of the cells. As the inamtes begin to raise a hue and cry, HCB begins shouting “fire!” in hopes of causing a distraction. It works, since the inamtes still locked in their cells begin panicking. HCB moves quickly to the rendevouz, and leads Keb and the rest of the gangers to the tunnel access, which one of them fortunately has the key for, as HCB didn’t bother to check it out at all. They enter the maintenance room, and pry up the tunnel lead, heading towards the hospital. HCB is leading, but is moving slowly and attempting to remain quiet. The gangers get impatient and most of them push past him, which he allows. However, Keb doesn’t let him slip away.
They reach the far end of the tunnel, and the front gangers burst thru the door, and are quickly engulfed in a gout of stinking flame. It appears to be some sort of gel based substance that sticks to their skin and burns extremely hot. The first group of gangers seem to be melting in front of them. In the confusion, HCB bolts for the door with some of the other gangers, and manages to get ahead of them, racing up the stairs. He is almost impaled by a sharpened pipe thrust in his direction as he rounds the corner, but Malice allows him thru the lines. The gangers behind him are not so lucky. Keb is shouting abuse at him from below and promising retribution. HCB heads back down to take him on, as he is pretty annoying. Keb quickly cuts HCB down with a pair of shivs, as HCB deals minor damage with a short pipe. As he falls to the ground and passes out again, he sees Malice and some other AB+ folks chasing the few remaining gangers down the tunnel.
He wakes up in the hopsital again. Malice and Samson come to see him, and tell he him that he’s got lodging in the AB+ area, and that someone will get his meals for him and such, since he wouldn’t be safe in genpop areas for now. HCB inquires again about getting a travel pass, and Malice says he will see what he can do once HCB decides where he wants to go. He heads back to the library and researches the prison layout/factions/activities/etc., as well as advocating for expansion of the libraires sci-fi selection. He also tries to meet any outside faction reps who come into the AB+ areas of the main complex for whatever reason. He encounters a yakuza named Ken Ichiro, who he manages to gravely insult in flawless Japanese, a languagw which he is mostly unfamiliar with. A veteran of the occupation of San Francisco (evidence by his SoCal accent), Ken has a more played back attitude than some yak, so after HCB’s profuse apologies, he lets it slide. After talking for a while, Ken offers HCB a chance to race on the yak’s illicit tracks if he can make out to their area. With a destination in mind, HCB heada back to Malice and procurs his travel pass. He tells Malice a litte about his eventual escape plans, and Malice tells him not to forget all the folks who help him get there.
HCB heads out, and travels as straight as he is able to the yak areas. The paths aren’t really marked, but he actually manages fairly well. He arrives and looks around for a bit before locating Ken. When he does, Ken suggests that HCB try some demo races vs other yak drivers before getting into actual competition (mostly against the neighboring mafiosos). HCB smokes the test races, and quickly moves up to the real thing, all the while gradually customizing and improving his car. The cars are mostly scrap built and vary widely in capability and design. He is being built up for a big race against some mysterious new mafia driver that Ken’s feeling a little nervous about. The races are recorded and smuggled off planet for sale, in both trideo and sim-LS is definitely getting a share, of course. HCB initially focuses solely of driving better than the other racers, but as the the challenges get bigger, he adds on some offensive capability to his vehicle in the form of a scrap metal caltrop drop concealed in the rear. He employs it to limited effect in his first race againt the mysterious mafia racer, which HCB just barely wins. During the second big race (this time on mafia turf), HCB’s car is rammed by a sacrificial mafia car, from which he barely recovers. HCB uses a modified caltrop dropper with a much wider spread to disable a number of the less competitive cars, leaving him and the mafia driver neck and neck for most of the race. HCB once again pulls off a narrow victory.
Ken and the other yak clear out of there pretty quick with HCB as the mafia types are looking pretty pissed. HCB seems to be in good with the yak for now, due to his racing prowess. He makes plans to head for Trogville next…..
up next: can he get the team safely down? can he even protect himself?