Lodestone aka Kealt Sanja
The team makes the first gun delivery, after Knight Errant drops off ten crates of assault rifles at the hideout. One Shot Wade has them split the delivery between Problem Children and Mad Martians, to foster unity. UB! takes some of his favorite PC’s out to the boonies for a shooting lesson with their new guns. Tobias heads home to work on a “BoneStar” art piece.
TY, Sanja, Rooster, and K all scout out Mikko Asparen‘s former hideout. After questioning the neighbors, searching the place, and finding some helpful camera feeds, they determine that LoneStar (or at least someone wearing LS gear and driving LS cars) raided the place. Although they don’t find evidence of them detaining Mikko specifically, they assume that’s what happened. But why haven’t they announced his capture? TY has a superstition attack, and believes that this raid was connected to him somehow. They also find some hidden cameras and compartments in the hideout, but they have been destoryed or emptied. They hope to find more evidence at the cop shop later on, although the one they are raiding is in a totally different part of town, so the chances of that seem slim.
Rooster gets a call back from the LoneStar HR department, and he charms them into hiring his (fake) company Vendiagram to provide machines and snacks to the cop shop the team is trying to raid. They tell him they have been having trouble securing suppliers, as the undercity is still a bit dicey. They ask him to send in SIN info and company records for all employees. They also suggest that if the first contract goes well, he might get additional supplier contracts to other precincts.
K decides to be the sole employee, a weak and somewhat slow mage who uses his abilities to move heavy objects. He buys a quality fake SIN, and him & Rooster get uniforms, snacks, machines, and make some surveys to give out to determine snack preferences. They head in, having been cleared, and pass through a series of scanners and two security doors before reaching the parking area under the building. They meet the LS liason, whom Rooster quickly charms. He takes them on a tour of the building, and Rooster convinces him to take both a vending machine for the main floor, and a smaller coffee maker for the upstairs, where the server room is located. They hand out surveys and leave.
Tobias instructs them how to make an antenna wired into the coffee machine that will allow him to get through the building’s electromagnetic security. The antenna will activate only when the coffee machine is on, and so shouldn’t be detected if scanned. However, if the internal network in the building is hardwired, they will need to hook it in somehow.
Rooster purchases some expensive chili, to pass off as homemade & win customer loyalty, and they head back, heeding the survey results on what to stock. They also get a rough idea of how many LS employees work out of the building. They once again enter without any problems, and their equipment passes the requisite scans. K sets it up while Rooster dishes out chili. Rooster also subtly inquires if he would be able to link the machines up to any sort of wireless network to have them report problems and outages to him, and the liason tells him to have the machines forward all reports to him (the liason) and that he will then send them out to Rooster- so, happily, they won’t need to hardwire the antenna, as Rooster has gained access to the local wireless.
They take off, mission accomplished on their end. Tobias will take a few days to slowly probe the system as necessary, gathering any info he can. TY and UB!, both bored, really want to kill something.
K gets a call soon thereafter from Madame Gavral, who says that she has some info about a Mars Crater smuggler. She is reluctant to give up any of her suppliers, but this guy apparently stiffed her recently, and Arlen Thompson has been leaning on her to help. He is a Heliopolis refugee named Rez Al-Shabib. She doesn’t know where he is right now, but provides a rough description and tells K that she believes he is a junkie of some sort. She also tells him that the fact that she sold out one of her suppliers, if it got out, would totally ruin her business, so she needs K to make sure that Rez permanently disappears after they get what they can from him. K agrees.
K relays all the info to the rest of the team, and Sanja calls up Ibn Hassan, looking for info. Hassan tells him that there are some Heliopolis refugees who have a small setup in the street bazaar in his area. He obliquely suggests that if one of them were to disappear, it would not be a terrible thing, as they have been late on their protection payments recently. Sanja heads to the market, and manages to track down Rez. He purchases some awakened drugs for a greatly inflated price, and tells Rez that there is much more Nuyen where that came from for anyone who can take him into the crater. Rez demures, but looks tempted.
Sanja leaves, and informs the team. They wait, and the next day Rez calls Sanja on the secure line he provided. K and TY wait near the market on TY’s new chameleon-coated motorcycle, in case they need to do a snatch and grab, while Sanja, Rooster, and UB! circle nearby in Rooster’s SUV. Rez again asks for a large sum, which Sanja agrees to, haggle free. Arlen Thompson fronts him the money. Rez tells Sanja that the sum includes transport in for himself and thee others, and that if anyone else wants to go it’ll be extra. He tells Sanja to meet him at a barren area a ways out from Heliopolis in two days, and bring his hunting gear.
UB! gets a surprising call from the skin-note people, to whom he owes a significant sum. They request Rez delivered when the team is finished with him, as they wish to study longterm effects of awakened drugs on the metahuman body. After K gets AT’s assent to this method of disposal (he seems to want to remain out of the loop on actual criminality), the team agrees, as it will help pay down UB!’s debt.
They prepare to head out, in search of the diamonds at last. TY also assents to Sanja searching his deepest memories for any more info on the diamond delivery. Sanja gains some insight into TY’s past, which is fairly disturbing- his village was wiped out, with him as the sole survivor. Even he would not have lived if not for a mysterious benefactor who paid for his transformation into the near machine that he is now. Sanja catches flashes of consciousness during the surgery, and is greatly disturbed by the feeling that each time TY comes to, he is less and less human. Sanja also finds deep reserves of survivor guilt, and a strong vengeful hatred of the Xhosa tribe, who currently are in a position of power in South Africa, under the protection of the Great Dragon Mujaji.
More relevant, Sanja is able to sneak past that mental block that someone put in TY’s mind, and get a look at the man he delivered the diamonds to. The man is a fairly standard metahuman size, and is wearing an obscuring overcoat and hat. In the shadow of his hat, Sanja makes out a hammered bronze mask, and cold, dead-looking eyes staring out of it. The eyes meet TY’s for a moment and something shifts in his brain. Sanja assumes this was the memory wipe spell. He also finds TY’s recollection of his earlier encounter with the diamonds: finding them on a job in South Africa, and getting a bad vibe from them, and then having them taken from them by an incredibly powerful magician shortly thereafter, and being compelled to bring them to Mars.
Sanja only tells everyone the diamond related info, keeping TY’s deepest secrets to himself.
The Tale of Jack Tricking the Evil Guards
Jack is starting off to go to the fortress of the Evil Guards in the village, but his friends try to stop him.
“It is too dangerous to go alone!” they cried.
“But I am clever, and I will be disguised as an old man selling apples, and I will use my silver tongue to trick the guards,” Jack said.
“That is good, but what if the guards who took the Mighty Bard’s friend are not at that fort, and they do not know where he is?” asked The Huntsman.
“That is clever, and I had not thought of that.” said Jack.
“I will help you,” said the Spring-heeled Bowman, “for I am friends with the birds. I will give you a bird to bring with you, and the bird will hear the guards talk and the bird will tell us what we wish to know.”
The Spring-heeled Bowman then called out with a magical whistle, and a little bird flew in through the window and landed in the palm of his hand. He handed the little bird to Jack.
“It is good that you have done this,” said Jack. “We will surely find the Mighty Bard’s friend now.”
Jack went in disguise to the fortress, pushing an applecart, with the little bird perched upon the roof of the cart. As he approached the fortress, the Evil Guards stopped him.
“You may not enter,” said the Evil Guards. “No one is allowed in without permission.”
“I am but an old man selling apples with my little bird. If you give me permission to enter, I will gladly give you each a sweet, delicious apple for your troubles.”
The guard did not look so sure, but he had not yet told Jack to leave.
“It is very hot out today in the sun, is it not? You must be very warm in that armor.” said Jack.
“It is very hot indeed,” said the Evil Guard. “I do not like standing in the sun in my armor, but I must.”
“Well then I will give you a gift of one of my apples, and its sweet, delicious juice will help cool you.”
Jack gave the guard an apple, and the guard was very pleased because it was cool and delicious and sweet.
“If you allow me to enter, I can leave this cart here, and the little bird will protect it from insects and worms, and you may eat as many apples as you wish, and I will return to collect payment later.” said Jack.
“I suppose there is no harm in that,” said the guard, “and they are very good apples. Will you be able to bring more?”
“I will gladly bring more, for it is hard work selling apples and I am an old man. The bird will fly back to me when the apples are all sold, and I will bring more and collect my payment.” Jack said.
The guard let Jack push the applecart inside the fortress, and Jack placed it near a window that opened onto the office of the leader of the fortress. Surely, if anyone would speak of where the prisoners would be taken, it would be here.
Jack then thanked the guards for their patronage, and they thanked him for the apples, and he went back to where the party was hiding in the village.
“The deed is done, and I have tricked the guards. The little bird will tell us where the prisoner is, and the guards thanked me for it!” Jack said.
The party all laughed at the cleverness of Jack.