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Entry 30: 18.10.70>
We’ve had quite an entertaining few days just lately – a successful run, the beta test phase of some new Corp medikit (which, needless to say I was paranoid and savvy enough to turn down, it remains to be seen whether Glyph and Ash suffer for their enthusiasm) and a sniff of info on Ash’ brother Blake that was tied to a sabotage mission we just couldn’t justify undertaking. Some damn Troll Toxic Shaman worked Ash over out in the Barrens and having beaten nine bells out of him, told him to sink a ship inbound for the San Fran Bay area if he ever wanted to see Blake again. Trouble was, our research soon found out that the ship had a 10,000 tonne cargo of carcinogens. Cuts me deep to think of the look on Ash face when he realised we were being asked to pollute and poison the whole San Fran Bay but I’ve got a whole trunk load of respect for him being the one to realise that sometimes the price is just too high. He made the call and we bailed but at what cost? I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes, thinking he just gave away his last hope of finding his brother…
It isn’t all doom and gloom though. We know Blake is out there somewhere now and that word of him is circulating through the shadows. If there’s information to be found, we can try to find it ourselves and we also have a new face to look out for. That Troll Toxic wont be blending in at many Frat Parties so if we can hunt him down, maybe a little violent persuasion can be employed to make him cough up the goods.
It’s our second run in with the toxic underbelly of the world in the last five days. Through Snow, we picked up a run from Saeder Krupp to investigate a lapsed Governmental black op codenamed Buttercup. SK wanted the project files because they thought it would help inform some ongoing research of their own. The only catch – if there were any project files, they’d be hard copy because everything else had been wiped in the crash.
Old documents about Buttercup recently made public thanks to historic declassification regulations gave us the names of both scientists who headed up the project. We hit research mode, trying to find them or tie them to a location during the project run but quickly discovered that both Docs were dead. However, Doc Schaeffer’s missus was waiting for God in a retirement home just outside of San Fran so we blazed over to try and milk her for Intel. Mrs Schaeffer didn’t know much, her hubby had kept pretty tight-lipped about his research, even in the bedroom, but she did point us in the direction of a colleague and research student who had served under the main men. She also tipped us off to the fact that someone else had been asking the same questions and sure enough, we were a little way behind a.n.other interested party.
Knowing Mrs S had given the other goons the same name and address, we blazed on over to a quiet little residential area. I clocked a rotordrone high and we saw and heard a gunshot from an upstairs room of our man’s house. I pulled up, dumping Frosty out so he could get busy and then pumped a Flashbang and a Thermal Smoke grenade into the upper floor of the house with the Antioch. With the front of the house covered I burned rubber heading around back to cover anyone trying to give us the slip. It proved unnecessary, the Dream Team had whacked the goons before they left the back yard and Glyph had patched up our man well enough for him to tell us that the lab had been out in the Nevada desert at a place called Duckwater.
Duckwater had been caught in the fallout of a nuclear reactor that had gone critical in the nearby town of Ruth and that meant our target location was slap bang in the middle of a toxic hotzone. The less time we spent in the toxic zone the better so while we geared up in the proper toggs, I remoted the drone van out there, figuring we would zip in onboard the chopper to rendezvous with the van, do the job and then get the fuck out of there just as quickly.
Flying through the toxic zone in the chopper was an education and no mistake. The engine struggled in the mucky atmosphere and I spent the whole flight on the edge of my seat, monitoring and managing the engine so it didn’t fail on us. Even so we had to ditch at one point, after attracting the attention of an amorous toxic spirit and though I do say so myself, it was only my skill at the stick that kept us from face planting high speed dirt. Right about then we realised the chopper was a bit of a white elephant. Ground vehicles were certainly slower but there was less risk of death if the engine conked out. We got the bird back in the air and limped to the rendezvous but then I just got the chopper out of the zone, up above the ceiling of the worst pollutants and on the quickest and most direct route to clear air and then home. We were anchored to the earth from then on.
Duckwater was a shocking mess. A small community of largely residential buildings, decaying and half buried in the toxic debris and scavenged over by a pack of pitiful grey skinned bottom feeders scratching out a living in the filth. There was only one building that looked like it might be large enough to conceal Buttercup’s labs so we wasted no time in heading over there. Ash immediately got himself spooked, insisting he could hear children’s voices but for the first time, I was able to seal myself into the safety of the Step Van and let the drones do the work, sharing point duty with the Steel Lynx and using the offensive Iballs to scout out rooms.
The labs were smaller than I had been expecting and largely empty. We’d been warned that the project had ended abruptly with a lab fire during the crash but had hoped to find something intact to prove we were on the right track.
We finally struck paydirt with a small file store – computers and filing cabinets for hardcopy that were largely undamaged by the fire but beginning to suffer from the ravages of the acidic atmosphere.
Glyph almost began a new career as snake chow right there and then as this damned viper rose up out of its nest. Cursed thing was as thick as a man’
torso and easily ten or twelve feet long – I’ve learned since that they’re called Nagah and use human mimicry, the children’s voices Ash had heard, to lure prey to its death. All I knew as I opened up with the LMG on the Steel Lynx was that I was glad to be tucked up inside the van. All told there were maybe six or eight of those damn snakes and they took some killing! Ash copped a nasty bite that looked like it would need attention but we didn’t need a second invitation to take the hint and get the hell out. We grabbed as many of the files as we could and the hard disks from the computers, loaded up and slowly rumbled off through the mire.
The lengthier return journey gave us opportunity to catalogue some of what we had found to see whether it would satisfy the Johnson from Saeder Krupp and although none of us was a specialist, we seemed to have got what we needed. We gave Ash chance to visit Mal back in San Fran while we finished up our collating and then we handed the data over. Remarkably, no one got shafted – Johnson paid up with minimal fuss. Something tells me he’s not cut out for life in the Corps.
Mood: Despondent. Wish there was more we could do for Ash.