with cameos by: Creep and 9 Tails
Tabasco, as a young man, lost both his parents in some sort of mysterious incident. Since their corp, ARES refused to officially declare them dead, he got a medium sized payout and the boot from his cushy corp housing, since he wasn’t old enough to sign up for employment and get himself a corp SIN. Luckily, his “uncle”/godfather Don Michael took a protective interest and got him a decent condo in Auburn where he could safely reside, complete his online education, and receive some cooking and cleaning oversight from Emdachot Fahd, a middle aged ork women who is the building’s super. Don Michael saw to it that Tabasco’s payout got invested decently by a financial assets manager at STV, Eva Mari, and the nest egg grew in value as Tabasco grew up.
Having done some investigation into his parent’s vanishing and come up short, he also stumbled down the matrix rabbit hole of investigating and becoming interested in shadowrunners, assassins, and the life of crime that seem to permeate Seattle. He paid his way into a membership on ShadowSEA as soon as he was able to access his funds, and got obsessed with the prolific assassin/runner Toast. He began to model himself after Toast, beginning to strengthen and quicken his body and taking up archery. He was already decent at sneaking and deceiving, as the condo building he lived in has seen better days, and begun a long decline in quality and security during his tenure. Luckily his unit is secure, and Emdachot still provides meals and cleaning, and Don Michael seems willing and able to secure him any oddities he requests.
Tabasco, needing somewhere to test his mettle, began participating in casual Urban Brawl matchups, and eventually got spotted by the scout and ex-Brawler Savannah Chiba, aka the Scarlet Widow, and recruited into the minor leagues. Feeling this was the sign he needed, Tabasco blew through most of the rest of his savings upgrading his body with some quality cyberware, which he is a bit snooty about. Chiba keeps hassling him to focus on the basics, but so far buying his way in has worked pretty well! He trains by day, and by night he obsessively trawls ShadowSEA, looking for info on Toast, his parents, or anything else that catches his eye.
Noticing a string of pawn shop (and similar reseller locales) break-ins in his area of Auburn, he decides to finally dip his toes into the shadows, and heads out in his Urban Brawl gear with his bow to investigate. Luckily, he landed the scout role on his team, so he has decent infiltration boosts from his gear. He sets up a patrol around some likely targets, and spots one break-in after it occurs. With no obvious alarms going, he breaks a window to trigger one and see what happens. Strangely, the cops don’t show, but some goons in bulky suits do. He overhears some of their conversation with their boss, and hears that apparently some jewels and some kind of valuable card were stolen. It looks like the folks who did it carefully avoided setting off the alarms, too.
Continuing on his patrol after taking some notes, he hears, but can’t see to spot, one voice conferring with another person, who seems to be responding silently. They spot him, and engage in some banter, laughing off his threats and bluster, before leaving him in the dust when he tries to chase: he’s fast enough, but lacks in tracking. He heads home, reads up on how to track better, and does some research. He finds out that goons in suits are Ciarniello mafia, who seem to have replaced the cops as they pulled back from his neighborhood as it began it’s slow descent into precarity. He reads up a bit on some of the syndicate wars that are simmering in Seattle at the moment, and pegs them for further research.
He also pays a ShadowSEA contact from some info on the 2 people he encountered: apparently a team of thieves named Creep and 9 Tails started working together in town recently, both are child-like changelings, but not much else is known. It seems, however, that a fixer named Van Der Hum was recently killed as a side casualty in an attempted mob hit, and his mysterious Hoard of artifacts, reagents, etc is much sought after. Tabasco decides to get some rest before practice, as the sun has come up.
He runs to practice along some of the disused hiking trails in Puyallup and arrives without incident, though Chiba chides him on his tardiness, as he needs to be early to compete in this game. They run through a practice with stun weaponry, and Tabasco does best on attack, and gets chided again for needing to improve his defense and stealth. He heads home, and cat naps before heading back out on patrol. He heads to the area where he almost caught up to the 2 thieves the night before, and finds a note written in lipstick.
Calling the included commcode, he gets ahold of the female speaker, and impresses her by ID-ing her as 9 Tails, and her partner as Creep. She gives him a hard time about sneaking around and liking to watch, before offering to cut him in on a job if he wants some nuyen. He agrees, and she tells him to look for these strange valuable cards, as well as any hints of Van Der Hum’s hoard location. She also says they can fence anything else valuable he lifts and cut him in on the profit. He agrees, tempted by the danger and intrigue. Picking out a likely lore store, he uses some arrows as impromptu B&E tools, which, while unconventional, does work. He manages to burn his way into a floor safe, and quickly skedaddles with some loot after he sets off and yanks down all the smoke detectors, alerting the proprietor upstairs.
He manages to get clear without any trouble, and sees a local gang, who he ID’s with a quick search as the Blood Brothers, showing up to help contain the fire and look for the perpetrator, so he flees across the rooftops. Once home, he checks his haul: some reagents and magical gewgaws he knows nothing about, and a strange Tarot card with a built-in holo-projector. Most strange, one of the figures on the card is his missing father. He calls 9 Tails and accuses her of playing a trick- she assures him she isn’t, and tells him to sell the card and not get overly involved. He convinces her to introduce him to their fence, and they set up a meet for tomorrow. He’ll have to be quick to not be late to practice!
He does a bit more research, and finds out there’s some weird gang activity and gun smuggling going on in Redmond, and also some people going missing: fixers, fences, and other runner-adjacent types, and also some Monads, TM’s and similar. The only locus he can find for any of this activity is the Iron Jungle club, downtown. He pins these for later and gets some rest. Heading to the meet the next day, he quickly realizes he has a problem- with no valid SIN, he’ll need to be very cautious traversing downtown to Pike Place Market. He just barely manages it, dodging corp scans and cops alike, and finally meets 9 Tails in the flesh.
She is, as advertised, a literal cat burglar- a child-sized SURGEd changeling with camouflage cat fur, a magical 3rd eye, and a seemingly unnatural ability to inspire dislike from animals. However, she approves him to go ahead with the meet, and nods to Creep, who looks to be a childlike gnome with no mouth, and seems to be sticking to the shadows. Tabasco heads over to a table in a nearby cafe, and meets the fence: Imaginary Annie, the Invisible Esquire.
Tabasco, not really knowing how this all actually works, passes over the Tarot card and asks some questions. Annie reveals that she’s done her homework and knows who he is, and offers to help him figure out the mystery of his parents if he helps her with some stuff. Plus, she’ll pay. For now, for the magical items and the card, she’ll get him a decent fake SIN so he can at least get safely around, and she gives him a couple of basic intro runner tips. He agrees to it all, and she gives him the rundown on some mysteries she wants solved and questions she wants answered: gang and syndicate activity, a strange luxury yacht, the missing people, and the missing Hoard. She tells him that she wants to be in a position of knowing who all the players are and what they’re up to before the upcoming Free Seattle referendum, which has been rumored but not yet announced.
He races off to practice, once again getting yelled at for being “late”. Since he decided he needed to be able to break down his bow to make it travel better, he’s also unarmed today, so Chiba tells him to focus on stealth and defense, and he comes up a bit short, taking a beating. She slaps him on a bruise as he’s leaving and tells him to remember the sting, to motivate him to improve. She has some kinds of disappointed mom vibes that seem really effective at getting him to do what she wants, so far. He heads home, heals up a bit, and thinks about what skills he needs to improve next, and what gear to prioritize acquiring….
He rests a bit at his condo, gets the newest gear he’s ordered from Don Michael, and decides to run to Downtown to link up with Creep and 9 Tails, figuring he’s pretty quick and he doesn’t want to use the private cab service that Chiba recommended for his first real shadowrun. It takes him 4 hours. They decide to look into the mysterious yacht first, and 9 Tails decide to hang back a bit, saying it’s got weird astral vibes- sort of a smell of the sea, but she can’t tell if anyone’ aboard. Creep and Tabasco sneak onboard, with Tabasco showing off with his hydraulic legs. They poke around and figure out that this is likely a gunrunner’s boat, based on some mods and Interpol info, strangely that particular gunrunner went missing aboard his yacht 2 decades back.
Rumors says, he made a lot of enemies and one of them was the Sea Dragon, and she claimed her prize. The yacht does look to have been submerged for some time and then magically repaired, so could check out. Seeing noone on the next deck down with his radar sensor, they head down. Creep sneaks into some vent shafts, his preferred locale, and they reach the bottom deck before someone reveals their presence- an elf women appears to be bathing nude in a seawater pool in the former engine room. Tabasco is stoked, but then upset to discover that the area jammer built into the yacht is preventing him from recording to his comm from his cybereyes… add internal router to the shopping list.
They find themselves sealed below decks with a large spirit to keep them there, so Tabasco decides to converse with the elf as she requested. He refuses to ID their Johnson, and she commends his professionalism, and says she expects the same courtesy. She confirms that she is an agent of the Sea Dragon called Eletheria, though she won’t say why she’s in town. She tells them to put her in touch with their hirer, as a conversation is obviously needed. They agree, and she lets them leave. 9 Tails seems to have the heebee geebees from a spirit encounter.
The night is still young so they decide to move onto the next investigation, and check out the Iron Jungle club since they’re already Downtown. They do some recon, and spot some ‘Weeners dealing drugs inside, and some Disassemblers waiting nearby in cleaner suits with a generic van. Creepy. Creep hops on the van roof with his magnet handle and waits to see if they go anywhere. 9 Tails and Tabasco head into the club, and find a Marry Me! room, some weird Toon viewing rooms, a dance area and a chill room. Tabasco looks around for any suspicious behavior, and see a couple leaving where one of them looks reaaaal messed up and the other doesn’t. He intercedes but they do actually seem to know each other and are just trying to get home.
He keeps eyes on them for a bit just in case, and then Creep reports the Disassembler van is on the move. The van pulls up next to the couple and the messed up women gets a weird maniacal look in her eyes and pushes her partner into the van, before collapsing limp as one of the gangers grabs her and hauls her in too. Creep hears some taser bursts and an auto-injector noise from outside, and hangs atop the van as it heads to Redmond, obeying traffic laws carefully. Tabasco checks in and realizes 9 Tails seems pretty out of it too, worried a bit he gets her to switch to astral and she snaps out of it. She says she took some random drugs she pick-pocketed, and then was watching Toons. Tabasco records a bit of the programming without actually watching it, just in case.
Atop the van, Creep rides along to a warehouse in the north Barrens, and see the gangers pass the woman off to a weird burned scientist lady named “Alice” after she scans both the kidnap victims with a Wuxing Frequency technomancer detector. She rejects the man, and the gangers say he’s headed for the Death Ships. Alice tells them she’ll have some more bits she doesn’t need for them soon. Creep stays aboard as the van drives carefully to the Tacoma port, he dips off as it heads in, but sees which entrance it uses. Feeling like this is enough, and with daylight approaching, they report into Annie, and debrief her. She tells them to follow up on the Death Ship, the warehouse/scientist, the club, and thanks them for the contact info for Eletheria. She pays them and they all head off to rest.
Creep plays Marry Me! for quite a while while 9 Tails lounges and basks in the sun. Tabasco gets a tiny bit of rest before calling his new cabbie contact, Bernie Carter, who turns out to be a retired UCAS tank driver who got sick of the army but still likes the thrill of combat. So he drives an armored cab ANYWHERE in town, if you’ll pay his rate. Tabasco finally arrives early (aka on time) to practice. Chiba seems impressed with that and some of his new gear, and tells him to really go for it today. With that encouragement, Tabasco finally hits his stride and excels. Chiba tells him after practice he’s ready for his debut, but takes him aside and tells him she needs him to take a fall in his first match, sometime in the 3rd quarter- just make it look like he took a hit harder than expected, she tells him the team doctor’s will back it up so he doesn’t have to worry beyond selling it to the crowd, who will love it.
Tabasco is disturbed but he doesn’t know what else to do, so he agrees. He decides to run home to have time to think and burn off energy, and luckily doesn’t encounter any strange animals on the Puyallup trails.He rests for a short spell, and links up with 9T and Creep again. They check out the club again first, spotting the ‘Weeners and securing a sample of the drug they suspect as being involved, since Annie reported the footage along wasn’t enough to induce some kind of hypnosis/strange activation. Tabasco gets a good audio recording, not listening, to go with the video. They spot the Disassemblers in the same spot again, but don’t see them move on anyone tonight. They do see someone moving a little robotically head out the front of the club and get picked up by someone in a sedan flashing a credstick. They make note, and toss a tracker on the car, figuring why not.
They then head to the Tacoma docks, and scout it out a bit. They find a promising spot to sneak in, and manage to get up on top of some isotainer stacks to take a look around. They determine that the port is split into 3 areas of control: Yakuza, Mafia, and Vory. Their target came to the Vory zone, and they spot the ship that is likely the Death Ship, based on the large number of living but drugged auras aboard. They send the registration info to Annie, who confirms that this is likely a live body shipment to Asamando- a useful way to dispose of enemies and unwanted test subjects. She says she’s going to call some people to try to secure it before it gets out of local jurisdictions. She also gives them the contact for a dangerous alchemist who she says to be careful with, but to take the drug sample to for analysis.
Tabasco also calls in a favor on ShadowSEA and gets an intro to another local club owner named Nyssa Hallas, who might have some intel on who owns/operates Iron Jungle. Annie also recommends a retired street sam named Hard Case who now does consulting for newb runners, and they agree that she’ll just cut his pay to pay for some sessions to help him get his feet under him, since he’s noticed he’s missing a few basics. He also feels like he’s a little closer to figuring out what exactly his Code of Honor is….. luckily it isn’t sportsmanlike conduct, as he goes along with Chiba’s request to throw the next day’s Urban Brawl match, doing a reasonably convincing dive and faking a short in his electronics that takes him out in the 3rd quarter.
After getting cleared by the team doc and commiserating with the others on the team about the close loss, he fails to sneak up on Chiba’s private convo with someone and stumbles into a slightly tense meeting she’s having with a mafia type who after some research he ID’s as the Puyallup capo, Enzo Gianelli. Enzo tells Tabasco that he did well in the day’s match and that they would make a lot of money together. Chiba seems slightly on edge at being “caught” and reminds Tabasco that Enzo was never there, before Tabasco heads home. Having taken some damage in the match, he rests for a bit and does some more digging online re: Enzo and the mob.
He heads out and grabs a meal with Hard Case, getting his first “how to be a runner” lesson, and feeling it was worth his while. HC gives him basic intro tips and helps him refine his code a bit. Next, he heads Downtown to meet Nyssa Hallas at the recently renamed Penumbra Station. It’s before opening, so he chats with her at the bar while she checks stocks. They trade some info and he finds out that the mafia has been trying to move in on some Downtown clubs, but that Hallas and her “silent partners” had fended them off of Penumbra, and had reached out to Iron Jungle and other clubs to talk about working together against the mob. IJ didn’t even give a reply, so she dug into their ownership a bit- some kind of regressive Dutch policlub called the Freedom Network owns it through a Carib League shell corp.
Tabasco heads back to IJ to do some more surveillance, and researches Freedom Network while he’s at it. He spots some of their Popular Will street thugs using a side entrance to gain access to a floor above the club, and feels this is confirmation enough for now, not seeing anything else going on there except a “Marry Me…” tournament. He heads to the last know location of the tracker Creep placed on the suspicious car on a previous stakeout, and finds that it leads to the inner edge of the Glow City dump in Redmond.
Tabasco warily approaches, and digs around, eventually finding a what he at first things is a corpse (based on the bloodiness and missing eyes), but turns out to be a barely living PI named Tommy Vermont. After he rallies a bit, he explains that he used to be a Knight Errant cop, caught CFD on the job, got rescued by runners and “cured” of CFD by a street doc, which involved a lot of cyber replacement- probably what kept him alive. Plus, he was wearing murder armor and has gotten good at playing dead. He explains that he’s on a case hunting a serial killer who seems to target Monads, and might be one themselves. Most disturbingly, they apparently shapeshift or otherwise change their appearance between kills- the only identifying feature is that they swap in the eyes of their previous victim. Gross.
Anyway, Vermont was posing as a naive Monad at IJ the night he got picked up, and got hit with a powerful EMP and then shot multiple times, stripped of his armor and gear, and dumped. If he was actually a Monad, he would be dead, and he still might be if he doesn’t get help soon- he asks Tabasco to assist getting him back to his office in Stuck’s Carnival, and Tabasco agrees. Unfortunately, they’ve attracted the attention of some Halloweener goons, one of whom has knife fingers and a rotting pumpkin mask. The other one tells Tabasco to ditch his gear and leave, but doesn’t seem let down when Tabasco insists on a fight. He manages to light both the ‘Weeners’ candles real good with some phosphorous arrows, quickly eliminating the threat- though Vermont only hears the fight, he seems impressed.
Tabasco also received some distracting assistance from a woman the Weeners had been hassling prior, who comes over and says they better skedaddle before reinforcements or mutants show up. Hearing some loud pipes firing in the distance, Tabasco agrees, and they scrabblle out over the dump pile, assisting Vermont, and make their escape all comically overloaded on the woman’s scooter. She introduces herself as Iva Linus Hathaway, and thanks Tabasco for the inadvertent intervention. She says she’s hung around the Weeners a good bit and they’’ve gotten weirder and scarier lately. Tabasco notices she’s wearing muted Weener colors, but also a surprisingly well-made custom tailored garment made of multiple bits of different items/outfits.
She explains that she’s a materials engineering student at UW, who also does custom tailoring, makes her own clothes, and makes costumery for the theater department and others. She gives her number to Tabasco in case he needs her services in future, and then drops them both off at Vermont’s office. Realizing he can’t get in without eyes for biometrics or a commlink as a backup, he has to borrow Tabasco’s ‘link to call Stucks’ property manager, Ranya Zhong, a dryad woman, who shows up after they’ve sat on the curb and Vermont has smoked a crushed cigarette from his pocket.
Tabasco and Vermont share notes in his office, and manage to put together a few theories based on what they’ve both found out. It seems the Freedom Network is using their club to make money off of luring identity groups they dislike to a single locale, and then selling intel on their presence to various people who seek Technomancers and Monads for nefarious purposes. The Death Ships seem to be a separate conspiracy, but a useful way to get rid of the bodies as needed. Since Weeners and Disassemblers are seemingly working in concert, it implies they’re being paid by a third party. They also watch a video of the Death Ship Tabasco, Creep and 9 Tails ID’ed trying to flee at KE closes in- the crew scuttles the Death Ship as a distraction but all get gunned down. Tabasco finds the name of the officer who lead the KE takedown and rescued some of the captives from the ship at least, a troll named Tosh Athack.
Doing some research, Athack seems to be part of KE fast response group known informally as the Black Knights, who seem like KE’s equivalent of runners, and seems like he sometime will work with runners when it benefits him. Vermont also suggests that he’s being paid by some kind of anti-human trafficking network, and suggests they keep working together. Tabasco agrees, pending Annie’s approval. Next he heads to east Auburn to pay a visit to the alchemist Squeamish, to get the Weener club drug analyzed. Squeamish turns out to be a paranoid and kind of gross ork, with some upsetting “brain in a jar” cyberzombies and biodrones guarding his lab. He does confirm that the drug would put users in a highly suggestible state, and distills some down so Tabasco could use it with an injection arrow if he wanted to.
Tabasco then heads out and calls Annie, giving her the update on everything. She confirms that the video + audio that Tabasco recorded of Toon Horizon, when combined, are laced with hidden messages, and that combined with the drug these could likely implant certain triggerable commands in people, or activate those same commands if they were pre-implanted. With the info on club ownership, Annie feels like they have enough for now there. She says she does want to get in touch with Vermont’s employers, suspecting they may by the network known as Las Muñecas, who she didn’t think operated this far North. She also wants Tabasco to look into “Alice’s” lab (which Creep found in Redmond), and find out why fixers/fences etc are going missing.
Doing a bit more digging, Tabasco confirms that all the fixers, fences, info brokers, etc who have gone missing are low to mid-tier freelancers, so probably not connected to the gang/syndicate wars, and probably not corporate unless they’re trying to eliminate all competition. He finds a promising bar to check out and maybe meet some of these types, see if he can get any info. He also gets a mysterious message on ShadowSEA from “n1nj@” and begins chatting- it seems like he’s caught the eye of local hooder named Yoko Aruki, who gives him props for saving those folks on the Death Ship, and suggests they perhaps work together if he’s into doing more of the same….
Tabasco heads to training the next day, and gets another illicit task from Chiba- finding a hidden perch with good visibility, somewhere in the arena, and not letting anyone know he’s doing it. He succeeds and has a good day at training overall. He jogs back to his spot and does some research after Chiba won’t tell him anything about her Mafia entanglements. He finds out that she’s likely in the pocket of the Gianelli family, but can’t figure out why, and also finds out that his godfather, Don Michael, is actually a higher-up in the local branch of the Cutters, a “pro” gang.
He calls Michael and they chat a bit about the life of crime- Tabasco talks about some early running exploits, and Michael tells him about growing up with his dad and joining the gang together, before Carter got recruited by ARES. Tabasco also orders an off-road bike to be able to get around on his own a bit more efficiently. He (on grid guide) drives up to the Iron Jungle and takes one more look, but it’s daytime so he doesn’t get much. He chats with Annie, and she says she looked into the attempted mafia takeover and that it seemed like all the mafia goons sent to intimidate the owners turned up dead in mysterious traffic accidents and the like shortly thereafter.
He then cruises to Stuck’s and meets up with Vermont, and passes along Annie’s message to try to get her in touch with Las Muñecas, after confirming with Vermont that they seem to be his employers. Vermont says he looked into the one other group the Freedom Network doesn’t like, magic users (or at least those with Mentor spirits), and found some hints that occasional awakened attendees of the Iron Jungle also have gone missing, and it seems like the Blue Dragon biker gang (a Yakuza affiliate) have been the ones grabbing them up. They agree to continue working together on this missing persons investigation, and head to “Alice’s” lab in Redmond, that being their next lead.
Vermont calls some gang contacts he has in the area to get backup, and Tabasco meets one of them, a First Nations biker named Cheeks, who is very good-looking, and covered in tats except his chiselled face. Cheeks and the other bikers set a perimeter, and Vermont and Tabasco sneak up onto the roof of the lab building. They try to break in through a skylight, but bungle it and break the old assemblage, jumping down in the lab. Tabasco gets a message from an unknown caller saying “look out!” just as he jumps in, and is stunned by a flashbang trap, though his cyber prevents disorientation at least.
Vermont flops in behind him less gracefully, and Tabasco regains his feet only to be sprayed with acid by a burned woman in a lab coat, who quickly discards the squirt gun and runs for a room at the back, slamming the door behind her. Tabasco gives chase, while Vermont frees the lone prisoner- the technomancer that Creep had tracked here. Tabasco bashes through the door and barely avoids a point-blank shotgun blast from another trap. The woman is nowhere in sight, so he searches the room, eventually finding a trap door hidden under the bed. Vermont tells him they have to get out of there as the woman blew her servers when she left, which started a fire.
Tabasco says he has to chase her, and Vermont says he’ll grab what data he can, and get the catatonic women to safety with Cheeks and the others. Tabasco says he’ll meet him later, and carefully disarms another grenade trap on the hatch, before jumping down into the sewers. He barely manages to follow a trail out, and avoids a toxin trap on the ladder up, emerging in the outer barrens, and just avoiding stumbling into some sort of conflict between the Isotopes and some other gangers from the Spiders. He hoofs it back to the rendezvous point, and agrees to take the TM woman to a street doc Vermont knows, while Vermont take the First Nations bikers out for drinks as thanks. Cheeks warns him that the Spiders have been getting creepy and territorial- they used to hunt bugs but there aren’t many left in Seattle so people are less tolerant of their kidnapping and brainwashing. Also, they’re whispering of some new leader/totem called “Grandmother”…
Grid-guiding south, Tabasco gets to a gym called Sticks and Stones in north Puyallup, and meets a street doc named RIot, after getting scanned by a rigger called Hans Yolo. He passes off the TM woman, and Riot says she thinks recovery is promising based on an initial survey, and also patches Tabasco up while Hans patches his armor. Now he knows a street doc! Cool. He also gets some intel from Don Michael on the state of the syndicate war in Puyallup and some names of who to talk to if more is needed- essentially the Kenran-Kai yakuza tricked the Gianelli mafia into fighting off a Vory incursion, and the Yak gained some turf while the mafia was distracted. He calls it into Annie and calls it a night, getting paid and getting another “how to be a runner” session with Hard Case paid for. Next up: figuring out the gang and syndicate situation in Redmond…
Tabasco heads to practice the next day, where they keep it pretty light with the game the next day. However, worried about what he might be caught up in, he buys a nanny cam in a fake rock on the way and hides it (poorly) in the lookout spot that he had scouted out in the arena for Chiba. He heads home after practice, and calls up Hard Case to grab dinner again. He gets some tips on client management, and also the usual mix of aphorisms and cliches- though much of the advice is useful. Tabasco gets interested at the end of the dinner when he notice that he has older trainer/mentors in both the shadow and Urban Brawl worlds right now who managed to make it big enough to get out and teach others- maybe something to keep in mind for a long while from now!
Back at his condo, he does his usual batch of research and connects with some contacts. He’s primarily looking for Redmond info now to finish getting Annie up to speed, and Cheeks agrees to give him the rundown in exchange for Tabasco’s help the next night providing overwatch on a dangerous gang meeting. Tabasco agrees and recruits 9 Tails and Creep to help out, Cheeks promises that if all goes well he’ll introduce them to a person who can help with fake ID’s and stuff too. Tabasco comes to realization that Chiba is likely planning to insert one of Enzo Gianelli’s people into the lookout to swing the match in his team’s favor, since she’s ensured they’ve lost the last few they’re ranked low and the odds are against them- so it seems like this is all money business/gambling, which feels a little sleazy to him.
He gets a call from Yoko Aruki who asks for him to put together a last minute crew and help rescue some kids who were kidnapped. He agrees, and pulls 9 Tails and Creep into this one too. The target is a Hand of Five warehouse in Renton, where they’ll all meet up. Having some time to kill before then, Tabasco heads to the Murdered Mime in Renton and chats briefly on comms with Nyssa Hallas about ownership stuff in the area, getting the lowdown on the mafia vs Yak vs KE drama. He then meets the supposedly sketchy fixer Flipside, who seems to have signed on really hard with the Shadow Chapters, though the SC seems a little more violent or potentially sinister here. Tabasco gets added to Flipside’s rolodex but doesn’t take any jobs yet and doesn’t immediately sign up for the SC.
Doing some further research, he finds out that Flipside used to be a real bottom of the barrel fixer out of Redmond who would frequently betray or sloppily screw over newb runners, but not badly enough that anyone killed him yet. However, he vanished for about a week recently and seems to have emerged with a whole new spin on things. Tabasco wonders if the SC is threatening or otherwise forcing people to conform to their policies, but figures this is good intel to get to Annie, since Flipside admitted that the SC has had to dispose of some freelancers who didn’t heed their initial warnings already- possibly explaining one of the last open areas of the missing persons case.
Tabasco heads east and meets the crew for the rescue job, Yoko seems to be a badass ninja and says she’ll hit the front loud and hard, and wants 2 of them on the back and one on the front to make sure none of the Hand of Five goons escape, and all the kids get rescued, if possible. 9 Tails doesn’t like killing, but noone else minds, so she heads out back with Tabasco while Creep watches the front and Yoko busts in the door yelling something in Japanese and chucking flashbangs. 9T and Creep both sabotage all the cars on their end except 1, to which they each attach a data tap for Yoko’s offsite hacker to take over the vehicles through.
9T calls out some incoming targets to Tabasco, who scampers up onto a nearby roof and easily picks off 3 HoF goons with some flashpak assistance from 9T. They get 6 kids loaded into the hacked car and 9T heads off with them to the rendezvous point. Out front, Creep takes out the lone HoF escapee and gets 6 more kids loaded into the car, also heading out. Tabasco heads in, finding 2 more kids and deciding to hoof it with them. He texts Yoko the codes to his dirtbike so she can link up. He reaches the rendezvous point on foot, avoiding metaracist neighborhood watch patrols, and they wait a little bit for Yoko, who eventually arrives on the bike with the 2 remaining kids, but looking pretty messed up.
She tells them that they had a Flaming Sword member there- radical race terrorists, and his flaming blade almost was a match for her skills. She slaps some stim patches on and tells them to follow her to the safehouse, and they head up to Redmond, and are introduced to the Crypt, seemingly a squatter/runner safe zone that Yoko and some others help run. Yoko starts getting packed up by a crusty old ork who keeps insisting that he isn’t really a doctor, and Tabasco meets Dr, Digitalis (the decker) and a Mouse shaman named Mish. They explain that they’re the last survivors of a crew who got mixed up in some Yak cybersoldier drama around something called Project Iapetus, and show Tabasco some flatvid footage of a crew of pro runners taking out one of these Yak soldiers somewhere in the SSC. They say that they heard that the pro runner team might be in town, and if so, they owe them a drink and could share info.
Tabasco, not needing a safehouse, says he appreciates the offer and may make use of the Crypt in the future, but 9T and Creep both seem stoked to have a doss to fall back on when needed. Having gotten back on her feet, Yoko also introduces Tabasco to Professor Magnusson, and arcanolinguist at UW who seems to also help run this spot. He tells Tabasco to feel free to call on him with any esoteric needs, as they appreciate the rescue of the children, and the slaying of the metaracists. Feeling clever, Tabasco gets Didge to secure the feed from his surveillance device at the Urban Brawl arena, and heads home and rests up before the big game.
His team wins with a timely fumble by one of the enemy goalkeeps, and they all celebrate. Tabasco gets personally congratulated by Chiba, who tells him that’s he impressed the right people and is getting the boost up to the big leagues. She seems disappointed that he wants to take time to think about it, but gives him a day. He leaves the celebrations as early as he can, and asks Didge what his device captured. He sees a stereoptypical hermetic mage arrive, seemingly by spirit, and set up to hide there and presumably interfere with the match. Unfortunately, the mage quickly finds and destroys his device, but from his various markings, Tabasco is able to easily identify his as Uranus, the mage from the Order of Merlyn who seems to be one of Enzo Gianelli’s righthand men.
Tabasco calls Don Michaels and gets the rundown- the Gianelli’s are likely fixing fam league matches for gambling purposes, but also use the big leagues as a “clean” money laundering opportunity, writing off massive cyber expenses and the like while performing them on the cheap. Michaels once again advises avoiding getting in with the mob, as right now Tabasco has avoided any debts. Tabasco agrees and calls Chiba back, and tells her he’s leaving the league. He owns up to planting the device when she calls him on it, and she suggests that if anyone ever hears about what’s on it she won’t protect him. Unable to convince him to rethink his decision, she tells him to get lost and stop wasting her time, and blocks his number.
Feeling sad but resolved, Tabasco heads north to Redmond and meets up with Cheeks and the First Nations leader Scout Who Kills Six Times. They explain that Urubia, expanding on the idea of the Funhouse, is trying to establish a gang cooperative to keep Redmond safe®, and Kalanyr is helping entice gangers by smuggling in weapons via the Isotopes, presumably with some cooperation from those in the SSC and Metroplex government who would like to see the sprawl get a little more chaotic. The First Nations and the Crimson Crush are both basically already on board, but reps from multiple other gangs will also be arriving soon to discuss, and everyone’s worried about sabotage and false flags, which is what they want Tabasco looking out for.
He makes a perimeter with Creep and 9T, and they watch as Red Hot Nukes, 405 Hellhounds, Deaths Heads all roll in. A single mutant from the Rusted Stilettos shows, as do 4 low level Halloweeners. Feeling that’s enough for now, Scout starts the meet, and the Isotopes explain the weapons angle while she and some CC members explain Urubia’s coop plan. 9T spots some concealed figures approaching on the astral, and says they have a spider-y vibe, which Tabasco reports in. The assorted gangers waste no time bombarding the stealth approach area, which is probably for the best as the 4 Weeners all detonate shortly thereafter, taking out some gangers but none of the leadership. They seem to have been unwitting suicide bombers.
Picking through the carnage after the brief engagement (the Isotope’s weapons seem to work quite well), they find the remains of what looks to be a few Spider gangers, as well as multiple others who look like gangers but aren’t in colors, and show signs of recent tattoo removal. This could match up with recent reports of the Spiders recruiting non-consensually, and seems worth looking into further as well. For now having prevented a gangland disaster that could have stopped this coop before it started, Cheeks follows through on his promise. He introduces Tabasco, Creep and 9Tails to Jamaal Quigley, who explains that he can get them fake SINs through a corp contact, and then Cheeks gives Tabasco the Redmond crime breakdown.
Essentially, the syndicate war happened because someone tried to hit Chrome Ciarniello, and it’s still not clear he’s going to make it, and the mob thought it was the Seoul’pa, but it seems like it was actually a Yak assassin using some sort of magical disguise. The gang coop is intended to be able to leverage the power and reach of the gangs in Redmond (unparalleled in other districts) to compete as basically another syndicate. While explaining this, some louche Ancients roll up, tardy and saucy about it, but once they get the rundown on what happened they make clear that they actually are interested (as they have a local alliance with the First Nations), and were just late as a power play, not as the people who set the ambush. Appropriately humbled, tensions lower again and everyone heads home.
Tabasco reports all this in to Annie, and she pays him as usual, and he cuts Creep and 9T in as promised. She then gives him a last solo job: scout out a team that just arrived from Chicago, they seem real pro and she has reason to believe they may be just the crew she needs to follow up on all this intel, but wants Tabasco to feel them out and make sure they’re on the level and up to snuff….