Harmony Craig Bottow
Rolf Soren Ramis
The team arrives back in Mars City and receives a message from the Thoth temple that, due to their gratitude, the team will have access to surgical facilities there, as well as some alphaware level implants. The team then splits up. HCB decides to rent a rooftop abode, and eventually finds a 4th story fire-escape access only rooftop shack + roof space for 1000 a month. He names it The Slaughtertower, and begins calling around to his acquaintances to offer his services as a torturer. He also contacts Remus, and has him hack to send (from multiple false addresses) the latest Crod Stompaz track (“Keb”) to Jerl and Chalt. They soon release it, to great undercity acclaim. HCB also talks Daedelus into upgrading a number of team members Firewall, in exchange for the team agreeing to help Ivan look into TA activities.
UB! buys some explosives and grenades thru Ultraman and passes some along to K. UB! makes some gas grenades, and also some pipe bombs. Needing a place to live, he moves into Tobias’ uppercity suite, and works as a bartender at some cocktail parties. his social graces are lacking, but the novelty of a blue ork serving drinks amuses Tobias’ friends. Tobias also works on UB!’s grenade launcher (using Ares development specs he got from PH Hughes) and upgrades it to semi-auto fire, for a small fee of course. Tobias is glad to have UB! around as a connection to the team.
K, deciding it would be to dangerous to return to his real SIN-affiliated house, crashes at HCB’s for now. He also contacts Madame Gavral, and does some piece-work for her, as well as offering future services. She, in return, invites K to the magical circle she is part of, describing it as a bi-weekly meeting of hermetic types interested in Mars and its many curiosities. He also restocks his medical supplies, realizing the importance of trauma and stim patches. Meanwhile, Rolph has returned to Ares for one of his occasional full immersion treatments in the SLEEP sim. Sylvaine, excited at the new Heliopolis contact, obliges.
The team then hears from Ivan about his hacking exploits, and after Ivan declares his intent to hide out for a while, decide to investigate the tail cars. K flies around invisibly to try to spot any of the cars, and eventually does, but they seem to notice him (possibly with thermals) and he flees. They hire Remus to hack the new undercity police camera system, and try to spot any cars of the specific make and model (they all seem to be police style cars, with no obvious markings). He succeeds, after taking a hefty fee, and tells the team that the cars appear to be frequently staking out team meeting places: Slot, Fat Carl’s, Tamany Clark’s junkyard, Doc Todd’s, and so on. The cars aren’t in the same places every day, but they seem to be at these spots pretty frequently.
HCB calls everyone and invites them to a welcome party at his new place. They all arrive, as well as Jaro and two other PC members who UB! invited. UB! has a crush on Jaro, and hits on her all night, but she doesn’t seem interested. Tobias tries to research undercity styles to decide what to wear, but fails, and just dresses down. He successfully makes conversation with the gangers, tho. They blast the Crod Stompaz all nite. K levitates UB! upside down while pouring two beers into his mouth, coining the “airstand.” Eventually HCB kicks everyone out and goes to sleep.
The next day, the team decides to set up an ambush at Slot in order to kidnap an occupant of one of the cars, take him back to HCB’s, and interrogate. They plan to all approach separately, and have their own escape routes. Tobias borrows a headjammer (from Ares thru PHH) to place on the kidnapee to prevent them transmitting signals. K will fly above the site invisibly with the jammer. HCB will (since he has a new face) enter Slot legitimately, go to the second floor balcony, and use a directional jammer on the car to prevent calls for aid. Tobias will approach on rooftop (using his hydraulic legs to make the jumps), and take out the car’s engine with his gauss rifle. Rolph will approach from a nearby alley, and bow snipe one of the occupants as they flee the car with a narcoject arrow, after which K will zip in, turn the ko’d goon invisible, and whisk him to HCB’s. UB! and HCB will provide fire support (and motivation to leave the car if needed), and some PC members, lead by Jaro, will cover their exit, and delay any backup/cops.
They head over and set up. HCB orders two cabs, to wait on either side so that they have multiple exits. HCB sees a “Free HCB! Crod Stompaz forever!” poster in Slot but manages not to freak out with excitement. Jaro calls and tells the team that the PC members are in place just as the tail car pulls up in the early evening glow (which is of course artificial light from the bottom of the uppercity plates). HCB kicks in the jammer as Tobias puts two gauss rifle shots through the hood from the roof. Having previously downloaded schematics to the car, he takes his time setting up the shots, and totally blows the engine, releasing a gout of smoke and steam from the radiator. He then ducks into cover, and begins making his way to the far side of the roof to flee. Rolf waits and takes aim, as the tinted windows are blocking his shot. UB! decides to deal with the windows (abandoning the plan) and steps out from cover, using his auto-selector to lob first a high-ex grenade and then a gas grenade onto the hood. The high-ex blows through the windshield and blows out the rest of the windows on the car, but the gas grenade goes off target and further blocks Rolph’s shot.
Two occupants of the car flee out the passenger side toward the nearby rowhouse, firing on HCB with machine pistols while they run. They drop him, and seem to be using armor piercing rounds. However, as the gas clears, Rolph is able to get off a shot at the second of the goons as the first one takes the rowhouse door. Threading the arrow between the broken windows, past the shredded driver, Rolph manages to ko the goon, finally proving his worth to the team. K begins his descent, turning the goon invisible and levitating him upwards. The first goon returns fire on Rolph’s position thru the car, doing serious damage, but Rolph manages to remain upright and flee due to the strength of his cyberbody. HCB dives off the balcony and rushes for UB!, shoving him into cover, and taking only limited damage in the fall (largely due to his experience landing as a parachutist). He administers one of the newly purchased trauma patches, stabilizing UB!, and then hauls him towards one of the cabs. Rolph takes the other. The PC crew exchanges fire with the goon in the house, and chuck in a molotov.
HCB has the cabbie drive around for a bit before dropping them near the Slaughtertower, where he hauls UB! up the fire escape. Tobias alters his outfit to street clothes and packs his gun, taking public transit to the uppercity. Rolph heads home, to his Ares memorabilia packed apartment. K flies away from the scene for a bit before remembering to place the jammer on the goon. He sees two tail cars approaching his location as he does so, but he escapes before the notice him, and they seem not to have the signal anymore. Cops and LS cars are also converging on the site of the gunfight, and the PC members flee. K arrives at the Slaughtertower with the goon, and drops him off. HCB and UB!, realizing they are lacking some requisite materials, call the rest of the team, and send K over to Rolph’s to get his mil-wave scanner.
HCB strips the goon and ties him to a chair, leaving the headjammer in place. HCB also strips, and stands there holding his claymore. UB! takes off his shirt as well, wanting to fit in, although HCB tells him just to stand in the corner and look tough. HCB lights some candle around the room. They wake the goon and begin questioning him. HCB explains the system: he will ask a series of questions. If he feels he is being lied to, he will roll a cigarette and place it on a table near him. On the second lie, he will place a match on the table next to the cigarette. On the third lie, he will smoke the cigarette. When he is finished, he will cut off one of the goon’s digits. The goon seems disbelieving at first, and HCB starts off easy, asking him where he is from. The goon refuses to say, and curses them out soundly, so HCB calls UB! over to cut off a finger, realizing that the claymore is a bit large for the task. UB! decides to take two fingers and the goon screams, spattering blood around the room. HCB heats the claymore and cauterizes the wounds.
HCB begins questioning again, and gets that the man is from Seattle. He then asks about the man’s childhood, eliciting more bravado. He has UB! cut off another finger, this time with a heated blade. Things continue in this vein for awhile, until HCB notices him grinding his teeth and whispering something, and ko’s him with the butt of the claymore. Meanwhile, K has gone to Rolph’s and discovered his paraphenalia filled den, including a huge light up Ares Predator sign in the window. He gets the scanner, but insists that Rolph move out, taking only what he can carry, and crash in a motel for now, if he wants to stick with the team. Rolph obliges, although he panics over what to take: corporate bobbleheads? trid posters? product mock-ups? K heads out after making sure Rolph is making progress, and returns with the scanner.
The three of them scan the man, finding a micro transmitter in one of his teeth, so they remove a few teeth and smash them. They also find standard headware (implanted comm and such). K stays invisible and floats in the corner. He heals the man back to consciousness. He is spitting blood as he wakes up. Using his spellcraft, K is able to make the man more likely to believe HCB, and they manage to determine that he is indeed a member of the Turing Army, which he joined after his brother died in the Seattle Renraku arcology disaster. K continues healing the man as HCB and UB! continue the torture, but he can sense his lifeforce ebbing with each revival. He feels ethically queasy, since HCB seems to occasionally violate his own rules (i.e. 3 strikes). But they manage to get more info: the TA came to Mars to track an escaped AI named “Mother”, who now goes by Daedelus, and to capture or kill it. They also are attempting capture/kill any of the AI’s allies, such as the team members. The goon recognizes UB!, but not HCB, and tries to encourage them to abandon Daedelus (as it is an abomination) but fails.
HCB and UB! accidentally almost kill him, and when K brings him back again, he is obviously near total soul death. They get a last bit of info, which is that the TA was hired by Renraku, whose local branch is now under new, anti-AI leadership. They arrived shortly after the bank heist. They operate in decentralized cells, to avoid detection, capture, and infiltration. Although the team promises to let the man live if he tells them all he knows, he says that he is a dead man anyway, and will say no more. He tells them they are in a world of shit. Then HCB decapitates him with the claymore, bathes in the blood spurting from his neck, and then is immediately disgusted with himself. The team did not find out the man’s cell’s location, but have some ideas as to where to begin looking.
HCB relates all of this info to the rest of the team, and Ivan tells him to old onto the goon’s head, for investigation purposes. Daedelus requests that the team investigate further, and they agree. HCB is somewhat disturbed by the way that the excursion into torture went, and realizes that he killed the man out of pity. He doesn’t quite know how to feel. The team plans to meet up later and plan their next move.