A young group of aspiring runners (+ Eion, a destitute dwarf in his 50’s), all having come up (or washed up) in the Redmond Barrens of Seattle, are all separately contacted by an older runner named Oldtimer, fresh out of prison and looking to make one last big score to set himself up to get out of the game once and for all. He tests them all out on their own, running small scams and scores to check their abilities and coolness under pressure. Once approved, he starts assembling them into a big enough team for the final job.
Through a fixer who he did some favors for while inside, Oldtimer has access to the ShadowSea job board, and pulls in some decent job to test the team out: They courier around a set of 3 mysterious locked briefcases, supposedly containing brokerage instructions for some paranoid financiers who don’t trust matrix comms after crash 2.0. They ‘kidnap’ a rich girl who wants to extort money out of her wealthy dad, but her turns out to be broke due to debts to the mafia, who have been using this leverage to ensure that he lawyers for them as needed. They still get paid a bit and Oldtimer is satisfied with their problem-solving. And lastly, to get together a decent fund for equipment for the main heist, they fulfill a hit. Oldtimer wants to get them all blooded together, to make sure they can handle wetwork if it’s necessary, but also check if any of them are total psychos, as well as to make sure everyone is on the hook for murder if anyone turns on anyone else.
The Johnson is Regina Mathis, a mid-level Shiawase Corporation ad exec on the rise. Her husband has been frequenting bunraku parlors run by the Yakuza. She isn’t bothered by the infidelity, just the specifics, given Shiawase’s conservative corp culture she is worried that when it someday gets out, it will slow her ascent as well as his. So, she wants him quietly removed, permanently. She also wants the PI Casey Elton, who she paid to investigate her husband, to either be intimidated into giving up his copies of the info, or killed if he seems like he can’t be trusted.
The team splits into a few groups to handle it all. Grackle breaks into the PI’s office and finds out that he owed money to a bookie named Squirrel, though a big chunk was recently cancelled out, so they worry he already sold on the info on the husband. 3 Card, Eion, and Watt head to the bookie’s bar to see what’s up, and due to Eion’s temper get in a fight pretty much right away, which ends with the bookie and his bodyguard dead, and the team fleeing with the file folder of printouts and a small drive that seem like the PI’s info. They hear that the mafia is on the lookout for them now, as they killed one of their affiliates (though luckily not a full made man).
Butter and Oldtimer trail the PI and intimidate him into promising to back off, and believe that he’ll hold it up. They make very clear that they’ll be back if he doesn’t. Grackle, Yanko, and Aleiron ambush the husband during his afternoon visit to the bunraku parlor, using the PI’s info to figure out his schedule. They grab him before he can head in (and thus to try to keep out of trouble with the Yak), and Aleiron stabs him in the heart after Grackle, an aspiring Halloweener can’t manage. He gets good footage of the death though. They hide his body a little ways a way after emptying his pockets to make it look like a random robbery gone wrong. Mathis is satisfied, and pays up, telling them she may use their services again in the future.
Feeling they are as ready as they can be, Oldtimer lays out the big job: a casino heist up in Everett. One of the non-Mafia or Yak casinos hosts a weekly private game between some high rollers, and Oldtimer’s fixer, Rex Simmons has some tips about suggesting there will be a brief window where a huge stockpile of chips and credsticks will be laid out in the private room before the bigshots arrive with their entourages and guards. The timing is going to have to be close for it to work, but it seems doable with a big enough team. Simmons asks to be kept up to date, and negotiates a split with Oldtimer, who decides to keep a sizable chunk for his retirement before splitting the rest with the team. The team agrees, and they begin planning it out.
One other detail: they are to set up a man named Fingers Barducci as the fall man, by leaving his body at the scene and making sure he didn’t die too far beforehand. They find out he is a mafia hitman, currently on the run. They eventually track him down, and make a plan to grab him earlier the day of the heist. They will dose him with slab to keep him movable, and use explosives in the job (his signature), making sure he dies in the blast. They are a little concerned about further aggravating the mafia, but hope that word of their involvement won’t get out.
They check out the casino, and surveil the game a week ahead of the planned job, and formulate a plan. They get the final set of details from a disgruntled ex-employee named Brick, who is working with some smuggler gangs on Fox Island. Grackle and Watt steal a car, which Butter tunes up for the getaway, and the rest of the team plans the ways in, checks security, and plots their escape route through the sewers under the building. Oldtimer updates Simmons on the details, and gets the go-ahead. Simmons provides funds for job materials (including car upgrades and explosives), but is tight with the purse strings. Also, disturbingly, Oldtimer is unable to clearly remember his face, with is rare for him given his perfect memory. He mentions it to the team, but they assume it to be a pro move on the fixer’s part.
The heist goes off pretty much perfectly, with the exception of some strange explosions outside as they blow their way into the sewers. They escape with roto-drones on their tails, and almost link up with Butter, Oldtimer and the getaway ride, when Oldtimer is felled by a sniper’s bullet to the head, and the rest of the team is ko’ed by Knight Errant. They wake up about a day later aboard a KE prison transport boat, and hear a news report that a mafia heir and 2 Yakuza underbosses where killed in a “terrorist attack” at the casino. There is some speculation that it may have been a rival mafia faction is behind it, not wanting there to be peace between the mafia and Yak’s. However, the news reports that the runners thought to be responsible are in custody and awaiting charges- the team feels that they must have been betrayed and set up, but what have they gotten themselves in the middle of?
Arriving at McNeil Island, they are transferred from KE custody to Lone Star Security Services. They wait in holding for quite a while before they are told they have a visit from their lawyer, which surprises them. They are brought to a conference room and meet Imaginary Annie Goldsmith, who seems to use magic to disable the room’s camera before turning on a white noise generator concealed in her bag. Some of the team noticed that she was closely examining 3 tarot cards as they entered, but she quickly stashed them away. She tells them that they are being held until KE and the city DA decide what to charge them with, and agrees to take some messages for them and run a few errands. She gives them the lay of the land, and says she will pull some strings to get them assigned to the block that the mafia and Yak aren’t on, to try to keep the alive a little longer. She suggests they start making some friends.
She says she’ll be back soon, but won’t tell them any more about why she was there in the first place than that she “had a feeling it was important.” She gives them some smokes to use as currency, and gives Grackle and Watt lockpicks. Aleiron loses some of the smokes to a guard almost right away, but cons her way out of a demerit. They head back to holding before being assigned to C block (the “safer” area), and meeting their new cellmate, a touchy dwarf brawler named Sharky. He gives them the rundown of prison layout and factions. They make a few friends in the Reality Hackers at breakfast the next day, given a mutual love of “Marry Me Kat Katana”, and Watt offers their services to the Koshari, through his good rep with the Dogmen. They work shitty jobs the first day, but the RH’s get them reassigned to more choice labor by calling in a favor (to be paid back by the team) with Andrews, the officer in charge of assignments.
Butter goes to work in the machine shop, buddying up with some 405 Hellhounds to avoid the human supremacists who are in the majority. Eion and 3 Card do manual labor outside the walls, and make some contacts with Cascade Orks. Watt and Grackle get assigned to a tech gig, overhauling some of the prison’s ancient systems, and manage to start scrounging some scrap parts. Grackle gets a demerit when they find his smokes, but manages to hold onto the lockpicks. Yanko seems content to keep stamping license plates and trading handjobs for random drugs. Aleiron and Sharky get assigned to the library, hoping to be able to move messages around, and start working on a secret code language the team can use.
They survive another few days like this, with Grackle being the only one wounded when an overexcited ‘Weener named "Jack O’Lantern" (the name all ‘Weeners are supposed to use when arrested) bites off part of his face. He gets to see the medical area in the white collar wing, and starts to get a feel for the sec systems and practices. Annie visits again, and tells them all they’ve been denied bail under a “terrorism” provision, they are all assigned criminal SINs (those that didn’t have them yet), and she says she hasn’t found a ton of into about Simmons, they fixer they assume is behind the setup. She asks them for a list of anyone else who might have betrayed them, which they provide, and they also give her their version of events. She says she will spread it around as much as possible, which will hopefully get the Yak off their back, but will likely not help with the Mafia for obvious reasons.
She tells Watt to listen hard that night as she is leaving, and the team hears Watt’s dog Ada howling outside that evening. Aleiron shifts to wolf form and howls back, telling Ada to be patient but stay close. The team rests up and prepares to get to work on the list of jobs that Annie gave them, hoping that pleasing her (and the Johnsons behind her) will help them stay alive in here, while they begin to plot an escape.