Thursday, July 27, 2006

Six's blog. the Castro deaths

By N.Barnes

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The team and I are just grabbing a couple of drinks and some grub downtown.
We’re not sure if we’re off mission or mid-run but I am sure that somebody somewhere thinks they can put the frighteners on me. I guess whoever that is didn’t hear what went down at CAT… Sorry, I’m digressing. My mind’s wondering a bit – chock full of a dozen different things. Questions without answers.

Since my last post, I had time enough under the bonnet to finish up on the Crew Cab for Ash. I’ve gotta say, for my first full-body customer job, she turned out to be a sweet ride. I think I went a little OTT though man – Ash gave me a 50k budget and after buying all the parts, there was just a grand left over. I ain’t never gonna cut enough profit to buy back my Bullet and retire if I don’t slow that roll! Aw, it was worth it though man, to see the look on his face. I guess if nothing else, the finished project will serve as a nice little advertisement for VI Customs!

After we hooked up, Snow put us in touch with a Johnson who offered us 10k a pop with a time dependent bonus of 500,000 nuyen for a little investigative work. Now those are the sort of numbers to catch a man’s eye. We definitely get the 10k each but the quicker we get results, the better, because each subsequent day we spend on the job knocks 50k off the bonus.

So anyway, the gig. Seems there have been a few deaths down in the Castro sector near where my Mom and Pops live. The deaths were almost exclusively in the metahuman population and the media are peddling fears that this is some new strain of HMHVV – the bug that goblinised half the population about 50 years ago. Our Johnson didn’t believe that but needed us to go in and gather evidence. Why us? I reckon because we can handle it more covertly than an official team from whatever Corp or Official Body he represents.

We hit research mode. People in Castro are understandably scared and the rumourmill is working overtime. Some say the deaths are HMHVV, some say a murderer stalks the streets – that sort of scuttlebutt. Truth is, no one really knows. We begin to piece together the jigsaw. A radio interview with a Civ, who claims our old friends the Notable Anarchists have dug up evidence that pins the blame squarely on a retro-engineered genetic weapon released into a test zone by Aztechnology; A sporting link between the victims – predominantly young male Trolls playing for teams in the Hood; A mysterious and vaguely Humanist Doctor, an HMHVV specialist conveniently present at all of the deaths who’s convinced the virus is responsible.

Nothing was quite hooking up and making sense but while we were catching a bite to eat with this Doc Ford, the restaurant he’d picked out for the meet got itself ram raided by AK toting goons in a Transit. We had about a nanosecond of startled before we made them regret ever picking a Shadowrunner picnic for an attempted robbery. We hadn’t taken in any weapons but I found a Tazer behind the bar for Sickle to get busy with, Frosty proved to be a dead aim with a well-thrown steak knife and Glyph, well Glyph was strapped but fuck me if I know where she got it from because I sure didn’t see her take it in. Ash and I were keeping our heads down but he had to play hero, charging out to snatch up one of the robbers own weapons.

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As the dust settled, we figured we better blaze. Ash had deliberately just winged the last little scrote, so Sickle and Ki-rinn hauled him off for questioning. Turned out he was NA too and that was just a bit too coincidental for our liking. I think they tried to make a play to draw the Juggler out using the would-be robber as a hostage. Didn’t work out though – a sniper shot rang out and finished him off before they got the meet they’d tried to set up.

I remembered that Clive, the owner of Clive’s Dive where O’Bannon’s NA Cell had hung out, didn’t know I’d been involved with the Runners last time we went up against them so I figured I had nothing to lose by going down there and trying out the old code-phrase to ask for the Juggler’s help. At this point we were pretty much sure Aztechnology were responsible but we didn’t know how they were putting the pieces into place and it seemed as if he might have the answers. Clive remembered me but clearly things had changed for the local NA – unsurprising considering we half wiped them out last time – and rather than accept my credentials and put me in touch with the NA direct, Clive simply told me that if I wanted to help people in the Castro district, I should advise them to avoid new sports drink – Caribou. Caribou is being heavily marketed on the scene by a Troll sports star, targets sales at young metahumans and is produced by Chipecko, who just happen to be a subsidiary of, you guessed it, Aztechnology.

We’ve got wheels within wheels now and more coincidences than you can shake a stick at. We head on over to the home of one of the deceased and make with a little B&E to check out the contents of the fridge. Sure enough, there’s half a case of the suspect brew under the kid’s desk with empty cans in the rubbish bin nearby. We decide that what we need most is a chemical analysis of the remaining soda and we get in touch with Johnson. En route to the meet, we speculate that maybe the evidence against Aztechnology is legit, but equally it would fit the Juggler’s MO if he’d had the Notable Anarchists pollute the beverage before planting the evidence simply to discredit the South Americans. Either way, we figure we’ve not been asked to prove who’s behind the deaths, just confirm the cause. Which is why we don’t know right now if we’re off mission or mid-run. If Johnson comes back to us with a positive test then we’ve cracked the cause of the deaths and will be expecting our bonus. If not, I guess we’re heading back to Castro, sharpish!

Oh yeah – lest I forget. Somebody somewhere thinks they can frighten me.
While we were dining with Doc Ford, my HUD winked out and played back a recording from a sniper scope of me making my way down to the lock up. As the vid zoomed in over my heart, I heard a Hispanic voice whisper ‘Bang’
then as it zoomed in between my eyes whisper again ‘Bang – you’re dead.”
Talk about juvenile! Sure, it’s chilling to see how close you can come to death without knowing but I’ve grown up amongst gang cultures on the streets – I know all about showing front, giving face and counting coup and I learnt a long time ago that if you’re serious about something, you don’t posture and threaten. This fool’s getting high on his own supply if he thinks he can Hustle me. I don’t know who thinks they’re playing games with my head, whether it’s linked to CAT or to this Run or something else entirely, but I’m not going to let myself get frightened and chased off, No way. It’s not like I can do anything about it anyway. I don’t know what the threat relates to and if a sniper does decide to pull the trigger on me, I’ll have fuck all chance of dodging that bullet, forewarned or not.

My main concern is that my PAN got hacked so easily – and just after upgrading my Firewall too. According to K, the Hacker made himself a back door and left the video file on my PAN with a timed instruction to play tonight. There was no other intervention. Frosty said he’d drop a little program on for me to alert him to any future hacking attempts against me but other than that, there’s little more I can do except keep an ear to the ground for an even better Firewall and I think that means tapping K’s contacts up for some mil-spec programs and parting with a hefty slice of cashola pie…
Mood: Restive.

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