Monday, September 18, 2006

Six's Blog. The rendering plant

By N.Barnes

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Entry 16: 27.06.70>

Exquisite bliss… It’s late and I’m posting this from my favourite armchair.
There’s a replay of last night’s Giants match on the Trid. I’m wearing nothing but my comfiest pair of boxers and there’s a bourbon on the rocks and a stogie laced with a little weed on the table at my side. In a little while I’m going to go curl up in my own bed and sleep for a good ten hours.
Why am I so caught up in simple home comforts? Because they’re MY home comforts and having paid the Devil his due and danced to Croner’s tune, I can now enjoy them for the first time in ages. My record has been made to disappear, I’ve a few G on my Credstick again and I can relax – at least for a little while.

We never did head down to the Museum. Snow and Croner wanted us to move and move fast so, considering how much I wanted my name cleared, we damn well blazed. Croner’s gig was to locate an undercover cop called Han Tze. He’d been masquerading as a street-level drug dealer trying to infiltrate the Seven Stars Triad when he last made contact but a clear fortnight had passed with no word. Was he still working the case? Had he been compromised? Had he gone native? Croner wanted us to find out. By way of cover, he tipped us off to three bounties out on members of the Seven Stars Triad. Not only did this give us just cause to distract the Triad from our real objective within their ranks, it presented Lone Star with an opportunity to clean some pond scum off of the surface of the San Fran underworld while we lined our pockets.

We hit Chinatown and while Ash and Glyph opted for a little B & E at Han Tze’s apartment, I tapped up some of the local kids for info on who was dealing and where. I can’t say the little bastards were as easy to relate to as I’d hoped – not my circle at all – but for a little green they fessed up the location of a club called Province which they seemed to think was a hive of local drug activity. Meanwhile Mr Contacts and Rapunzel had spotted a little spy cam Han Tze had set to watch his pad. The footage showed Han Tze leaving, two weeks previous, in the company of one of our Bounties – Fu Hong, a Seven Stars Lieutenant with a penchant for explosive solutions and a reputation for running a sideline in the white slave trade. If Han Tze had been rumbled, maybe Fu Hong had found alternative employment for him as a slave?

We knew Han Tze had been reporting in to his faux masters within the Triad at a restaurant called the Paper Dragon and it was rolling on toward dinner time so we went for a recce on the pretext of getting us some grub. There was some sort of commotion outside with Trid Cams and a local news reporter lauding the Paper Dragon for handing out its left over food to the homeless each night. We’d hit jackpot in one respect – by happy coincidence, Fu Hong was the interviewee taking all the praise for his generosity and it’s not every day you stumble across a media savvy Triad lieutenant outside your local MSG emporium.

Mr Contacts did his thing and managed to have words with Fu Hong across the remains of the prawn crackers and pineapple fritters. Unsurprisingly Hong played dumb about Han Tze which left us contemplating kicking off and beating some answers out of his smug face. Before we could do anything rash, we received word that Han Tze’s PAN had just gone active out in the barrens and that was just about too much of a coincidence for us. We figured it was a trap and that having been quizzed about Han Tze, Hong had rumbled us and decided to lure us out by lacing a snare with a little Han Tze PAN bait.

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Stuff that. We’ve learnt to be wary and we’re savvy enough not to be that dumb. We’re not that desperate for leads yet so we leave the Paper Dragon and head for Province instead, which turns out to be a lap dancing joint where the drugs are being passed around quite openly. As expected, we find the second of our Bounties here – Zhang Jie, Deputy Master of the Seven Stars who handles the Triad’s drug trafficking activities. We also find a hell of a lot of Triad mooks, toughs and heavies. Zhang Jie is quite obviously the big cheese and any attempt on his Bounty is going to need to be handled very carefully indeed. We back away with our tails between our legs – for a little while at least.

Having given anyone manning a trap for us and luring us in with Han Tze’s Comm signal chance to get bored and drop their guard, we now blazed out to the Barrens to hit them hard and fast. Turned out two street kids had found the PAN at a local dumpsite and were busily whacking off over Han Tze’s collection of Oriental Bongo. The dumpsite yielded a couple of other clues and after a couple of hours sleep, on Glyph’s sofa again, we split into teams to work the leads, Ash was the only one of us to hit paydirt – Daisy managed to recover the data from Han Tze’s wiped PAN and that connected up the dots for us. The last recording on Han Tze’s PAN showed us that the Paper Dragon’s delivery van was being used to shuttle slaves around the city and that Han Tze had been knocked out and unceremoniously dumped in amongst the rest of the ‘merchandise.’

It was clear now that we’d have to investigate the Triad slave trade if we were to pick up any further leads on Han Tze so we set about monitoring the movements of the delivery vans. Sure enough, in the dead of night, we scoped them laying claim to the city’s vagrant population as well as picking up a choice target or two from obviously predetermined drop off points. We tracked the Triad snatch team to the Hong Abattoir and Rendering Plant and watched them bundle their catch inside.

I scoped a black fellah sitting on a bench down near the gates to the plant paying much more attention to us than I was happy with. I figured maybe he was a spotter for the Triad – a fear confirmed when he hauled his carcass up off of the bench and headed towards the perimeter. Ash and I double timed over to head him off at the pass and were startled when he took a running jump at the fence and began to climb. Either the Triad were in the habit of locking their early warning system out for the night or we had a third party on our hands and he was about to blow the entire gig for us.

We got him down off of the fence and turned on the charm. He introduced himself as Creed and told us he was here to take a Triad bounty down – Ruan Shu a rising young star within the Triad who had probably been given a leg up by well-placed siblings. Sure enough Ruan Shu was the last name on our list of potential bounties and with a common goal, we were able to find some middle ground from which to work together on cracking the Triad. Using a handheld welder we made short work of both the fence and the fire door and found ourselves in a staff canteen where it kicked off. Ash was still keen to make amends for the past couple of weeks and put himself in the firing line. He took out a couple of goons but copped a volley of bullets in return so I called in the Medibot. I’m not too proud to admit taking cover and picking my shots with care, while Creed proved to be a decent shot to boot.

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The canteen gave access to a series of offices, soundproofed against the rest of the plant, which meant no one else had noticed our John Woo shit.
The main body of the abattoir seemed to be split into a warehouse area and a separate freezer and there were about half a dozen heavy hitters out on the shop floor. Most of there were wearing furry parkas against the chill of the cold storage so we liberated the least blood stained and snuck out. Ash dealt with the nearest mook while I laid down covering fire against the others as Creed advanced. The fight was brief and bloody and having discovered and freed half a dozen unknown vagrants locked in ISO containers we were soon moving on toward the heart of the plant.

Past the jointing machines and the offal store, we found the rendering plant proper – a basement level dominated by a huge vat containing the chemical bath. The floor above had a large trapdoor and crane arrangement for lowering the animal carcasses into the vat, as well as a ladderway down to the basement level. We could hear voices issuing up from below so while I watched the ladder, Ash and Creed got the trapdoor open. As shots began to ring out, I heard Creed call out that Ruan Shu was down there and heading my way so I cooked him up a little Ki-rinn Special and tossed a flash-bang into the hole. As the ruckus continued, I felt footsteps on the ladder and to my surprise, a quick peek revealed Han Tze clambering up towards me. I didn’t want to blow his cover so I used the codeword ‘Blue Dragon’ which Croner had given us and made like I was taking him prisoner, holding him at gunpoint and playing tough guy.

From the main trapdoor, I could hear a mixture of live ammo and Stick/Shock rounds being fired as Creed and Ash tried to take Ruan Shu alive. Give them their due – they were brutal and efficient. No one but Han Tze made it up out of that hole. In the aftermath, I put Croner and his man in touch. Seems Han Tze was still down with the Triad but in some way had slipped down the pecking order and had been put to work out of sight at Hong’s. He wanted to stay with the Triad and continue his assignment and Croner agreed. I think his cover’s blown – he wouldn’t even trust us to put him down with Stick/Shock like we had some of the other mooks – but that’s not my problem.
Croner verbally confirmed that he was happy with the job and that we were square so we hauled Ruan Shu to the nearest Lone Star precinct house and collected our 11K bounty. In the cars on the way back we had a little chat with Creed. We’re going after the other Triad bounties while we know where they can be found and Creed said he’d come in on the job with us and give us a hand – we’ll need the extra trigger finger, especially against Zhang Jie’s mob down at Province so that’s cool and we’ll take things from there. Maybe one day he’ll join the team…

Oh yeah, just as an aside. My birthday came and went in the flurry of action between Vegas and San Fran. Ash’ birthday wasn’t so long ago either. Kitty, Daisy and Snow threw us an impromptu, surprise party – a lovely thought and a welcome break from an otherwise stressful run of days. It’s to my family and friends’ generosity that I owe my ability to participate in the run against the Triad. They rebought most of the gear I lost as presents for me.
Hell Snow even went one better – he got me these trippy number plates that can be written and rewritten and a third party PAN that he’s promised to mock up for me with a fake identity. From now on, Vincent Caznotti is a straight up, above board guy, wholly separate to the dashing enigma behind the wheel - a Shadowrunner known only as Six. Man what a gas ;o)

Mood: Chilled. Bottom of the 7th and the Giants are 4-1 up. Life is good

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