UB! is laying low and sulking after Tobias told him not to come home with unconscious Rolph. Rolph heals up at Doc Todd’s. Tobias and HCB are both wanted for questioning by LoneStar, HCB in relation to the incident at Palisade Gardens, Tobias for the Vedacorp tower incident. Luckily, they were both using fake SINS, so they plan to ignore the summons. Ivan is holed up with Wade, scheming something. K gets a call that there is another meeting of the HOoTCL this coming saturday (it being thursday) and tells the rest of the team his schedule, as he doesn’t want to plan any conflicts of interest. HCB hears back from Matsunori Kitsuno, his contact with the Hikage Iinkai yakuza syndicate. He tries to jest with him, and fails. However, he wisely accepts the proffered job: apparently an HI underboss has been sidedealing with the Striking Crane Clan and needs to get taken out, along with his crew. All 11 of them will be at an uppercity cafe until sundown, and need to get wasted before then. HCB will need 3 or 4 others to go along, the HI will provide two motorcycles (in black and yellow HI colors) that need to be used in the assault. Kitsuno suggests a driver and gunner on each bike, quick in and quick out. He doesn’t tell HCB the pay.
HCB calls up Tobias, Rolph, and K for the job, as UB! and Ivan are unreachable/busy.
Rolph seems leery at first, as the job is not explicitly pro-Ares. K confronts Rolph and Tobias about their seeming lack of full commitment to the team, and tells them to get jobs at Ares if that’s what they care about, cause runners need to be all in. K refuses to ride on one of the bikes, so they get Ut in on it too. He tells them he will be in disguise, as he doesn’t want the Yak to have anything on him. Tobias decides to pay a visit to the cafe, under the ruse of taking PHH out to lunch. It is very obviously a front, which he discovers when he tries to order, and they seem to not have any food. Or drink. The barkeep whips him up a gross soywich in the back, and then stands arms crossed in front of him staring at him start to eat. Tobias declares he is writing a bad review, after which the barkeep tells him he is about to write a bad review on his face. Tobias exits, and meets PHH at a fancy uppercity joint, where they chat. However, Tobias id’d all 11 goons either out front or inside, so the job is a go. He goes to meet the team post lunch at the garage with the bikes. He also buys a skillsoft for groundcraft.
K scouts the place invisibly from overhead, and spots a back allley. They decide he will watch there, in case anyone bolts. The rest of the team arrives at the garage and sees a very average looking caucasian male out front. He surreptiously does a little magic trick, and HCB recognizes him as Ut (in disguise). They hop on the bikes and zip off. Tobias slots the skillsoft, and drives one bike with Rolph on the back, while HCB and Ut take the other. HCB and Ut throw on gasmasks. They head for the cafe, while K astrally scopes it. Unfortunately, someone inside has some decent mojo, and seems to notice him, so he bails back to his meat body, still around front of the building. He also picked up a non-metahuman signature, but didn’t have time to try to id it, but he warns everyone.
The bikes pull up just as some of the goons outside seem to be being alerted to K’s astral presence. A few of them are standing, making good first targets. T and R drive past a little bit, while HCB and Ut pull up a little short. They all hop behind the bikes and open fire. R’s explosive arrows are devastatingly effective, as is T’s new full auto shotgun (the air is full of flechettes). Ut tosses in some smoke and gas grenades for good effect. It’s over in about 6 seconds: the goons are all dead or dying, and although they managed to waste both the bikes, the team is relatively undamaged. Unfortunately, the guys inside are waiting and blast HCB and R pretty good when they enter. Meanwhile, K zips around back, and sees two of the targets jump in a car and start speeding off. He launches a fireball, but misses and obliterates a dumpster.
Hearing that a few of the targets are getting away, T leaps up onto the building with his hydraulic legs, followed by Ut, using old fashioned climbing. They race to the back and jump down, with T in the lead. R and HCB and cleaning up inside, meanwhile. The barkeep gets an awful tip: an arrow in the face. Rough day at work. HCB heads out front to try to carjack somebody so they can scram. Unfortunately everyone in the vicinity seems to be fleeing the gunfire and explosions, so he heads for the intersection that the car is headed towards. K tries to levitate the car and fails, but lifts it up on the hydraulics for a second. T takes a much more effective shot at the tires, shredding the back two, and sending the car spinning out into the street. K tosses an archaic sidewalk newstand in front of an oncoming car, forcing them to swerve and block off the target car’s escape route. A goon exits the car and drops K out of the sky. He hits the ground pretty hard (ko’d, from 30 feet up), and is barely holding onto life, luck having carried him through.
HCB comes running up the street, firing at the goon, while he messages Ivan that he thinks K is dead, and sends the location. Ivan starts racing to the scene. Another yak gets out of the car: the underboss! He rips his shirt open as he runs inhumanly fast towards HCB, revealing an elaborate backpiece. He pummels HCB is close combat, while HCB attempts to shoot him with limited success. T, exiting the alley, comes under fire from the goon by the car, and runs over, jumps on the roof, and ventilates him with the auto shotgun. He then turns his attentions to the underboss, blasting him with flechettes, while fortunately avoiding HCB. Ut races out of the alley and punches thru the back of the underboss’ head, just in time to save HCB from another brutal attack. HCB slaps on a stimpatch to get a much needed boost.
Meanwhile, inside, R has taken out all the goons, and discovered that the non-metahuman signature is in fact a tiger. He decides he must have it, and misses the action outside while he is busy narcojecting it and busting its chain. HCB grabs the car the K caused to swerve, and everybody hops in. Since R can’t lift the tiger on his own, and they can’t convince him to leave it, they pull up the alley, and help him wrestle it into the trunk. HCB slaps a trauma patch on K, to keep him from dying-he looks terrible. They race off, as sirens begin to close in. They get a few blocks before anyone remembers to tell Ivan that they got out of there, and he agrees to meet them somewhere less hot. They find an alley, and move the tiger and K to Ivan’s car. Ut and T get dropped off at a transit station to make their own ways home, everyone else heads to Doc Todd’s to heal up.
R keeps narcojecting the tiger every hour, to keep it under, while HCB and T call around to try to find a buyer. HCB also lets Kitsuno know the job is done, and asks for the payment. He responds with: “a tiger and two motorcycles is not enough?” After staring at the disappointed look on HCB’s face for a few seconds he bursts into laughter and transfers a sizable chunk of nuyen to HCB’s account. He tells HCB that this was his first test, and he did well. HCB calls Madame Gavral to see if she can use the tiger, without wanting to tell her that they have a whole tiger. He asks if she needs any particular tiger parts. She asks which ones, and he says “all the parts that make up a tiger.” She asks if he has a full tiger, then, and he admits he does, but is willing to piece it out. She doesn’t seem interested immediately, but tells him to get back on touch if he can’t find any other buyers. He also tells her that K is going to miss the meet on saturday, due to being almost dead. HCB goes into Doc Todd’s and passes out.
T has more luck. He calls his art dealer (Minkwave), and she says she should be able to scare a buyer up from her wealthier clientele. She calls back a bit later to set up a meet with a possible buyer. T sends R with Ivan to negotiate. As far as they can find out on the matrix, a lot of the pricing is determined by whether or not it is a clone tiger, which they don’t know. The animal expert that the buyer sends is horrified that they have the tiger stuffed in the trunk, and have repeatedly shot it with arrows. He lowers the offered price significantly. T tries to bluff, via R, that they have other buyers. The expert shoots him down, as anyone wealthy enough to be on Minkwave’s client list would have called him to check out the animal. R tries to haggle a bit, and squeezes a few more nuyen out. The expert and his goons load the tiger up in a large trailer, and take off. The team splits the money, after paying T back for his skillsoft purchase (which he promises to share with UB! as necessary). They are all pretty loaded, although their medical bills were not small.
In the hopsital: HCB gets call from Kitsuno, telling him that HI is willing to sponsor him as a combat biker, given his history on the moon, and his good performance today. A few days later: When K wakes up, the first thing he does is call Gavral and Arlen Thompson to apologize for missing the HOotCL meeting, they both are understanding, and Thompson invites him up to his place to talk about some things. K goes (bandaged again as a disguise, with hospital bills to prove it). He is impressed: Thompson’s mansion is located atop an uppercity tower, and has a small lawn and fountain, all of which appear real. The elevator man directs him out onto the lawn, towards the porch where Specter awaits. They chat for a while about K’s injuries and such, and then Thompson tells him that he has a job for him, having heard of his skills and connections from Gavral. He wants a piece from a forthcoming museum show, but the owner won’t sell. He leaves K to fill in the rest, but tells K that he will help him to enter the HOotCL on a fulltime basis if he succeeds.
K agrees, and gets some details. The show is a collection of magical items from Earth that “awoke” at the dawn of the Sixth World, (re)gaining powers thought to be myths and legends. The nature of this particular piece (from the central African jungles) is not known publicly, as the owner hasn’t allowed it be examined extensively. The owner apparently outbid Thompson when the piece was originally up for auction, and Thompson has been wanting it ever since. K decides to look into it, and plan a bit. He has some time, as the show doesn’t start for two days, and then runs for two weeks after that.