Inner city treasure hunt

Inner city treasure hunt

Date: 6th September 2177

Weather: Rainy

Mood: Elated, but sore. I’d forgotten how much it hurts to get shot in the head, but I’m so so so so happy that my Russian ghost came back to me. Even if this time it made me sick and weird and I heard voices …

Outfit: Obviously today I wore body armour – flak vest and pants – but I had this old short-skirted kimono slip that I got at Black Peace Now. It’s designed to go under a corset so you get the flared arms and the mini skirt all to match, but if you slit the slides a little you can wear it under the flak vest, so you don’t look like totally dassai just because you’re out on a job. The kimono’s really cute too because the pattern is water swirls and cybernetic goldfish, which was totally apropos, but unfortunately now all the gore and gunpowder have ruined it. Still, I got a whole bunch of interesting diaries and 10 little sisters, so I guess it’s for the best! I always wanted a little sister, and my parents wouldn’t let me make one out of the girls they were trafficking, so maybe I can make one with one of the trafficked girls we found, if we can fix her brain. But not totally, ’cause I don’t want her talking back to me. She can be my little sister and we can totally wear kimonos and kill people together. Like a girl unit!!

News: I don’t know why Pops watches so much TV news ’cause it’s all so stupid, and he always gets really angry. And it’s not like there’s ever anything new on the News, why is that? There must be stuff going on in the world but it’s like the people working at the media companies can’t be bothered going outside, and they just sit at their desks reading press releases from the corps, and then there are these boring adverts for the corps, which is like why would I want to hear about press releases from the corps if I can just watch their adverts? Which are boring anyway? No wonder no one cares about the News, it’s so boring you’d think there was a conspiracy to make us not care! But the riot scenes were fun. The District 68 riots are heating up, and Goliath don’t seem to want to stop it, and two big corps are arguing over whose fault it is. There’s also reports of more cyberpsychosis, which is good because it means Pops can get out of the house and earn some money to pay for his place on the couch. But he might not be able to compete with the new Full Body Replacement (FBR) cops, who are cops who have had all their parts replaced with cyber but are somehow completely immune to cyberpsychosis. I wonder what drugs they’re getting to keep them this side of the edge? If I see one I will ask. Of course the Imperfects object to this kind of policing, but they’re just idiots, so whatever. But there is some kind of court case going on about two boring corporates suing each other because one corporate thinks the other one is shipping cheap cyber that causes pscyhosis. So I guess we need those FBRs.

Anyway, so we did the job earlier today. We were going to kill some cyberpsycho called Lim, but to find him we had to prepare the Extreme Range Husk-Aligned System first, which meant we needed to find a van and a Micro Fusion Cell (MFC). Of course Coyote new a dude, who knew a dude, who knew some guy called Ragu who runs a dodgy repair shop, where we could get ourselves a van. We just needed an MFC, and it just so happened that Ragu had this little kid with him called Tail who knows where to find cars easy-like. Suuuure, Tail. Tail is this little vagabond with a cyberleg he made himself out of some spare parts from a barbie doll and three old clocks, and he’s got the kind of old scars that make you think maybe he’s been through several families and hasn’t yet learnt the exact right time to start running away, so he still has the gunshot wounds. ‘Cause if you spend 5 minutes with him you really start twitching for your gun. Anyway he told us about this gangster event where cyberdudes box each other, and all the gangers turn up and park their cars, and we can just swing on in and steal one. But on the way to the event we found one of those low-rent car parks that promise you cheap parking “at your own risk.” Well, anyone who parks there has insurance right …? So we stole one of the cars. We nearly had to kill the two guards, which would have been kind of catastrophic for them, but Pops did his confused old man shtick (how does he do that so well?) and I flashed some leg, and off they went to do whatever sad car park guards do, and off we went with someone else’s car. Finders keepers, as Twitch would say if he hadn’t been beaten to death by lizard-skinned transhuman weirdos.

So then it took three days to make the ERHAS, and then we were ready. We painted a dodgy goldfish on the side of our van, and got some goldfish meat free from Madam Chu, which gave us the perfect cover for cruising slowly around District 73 – it looks like we’re delivering mutant goldfish meat to the stalls in District 73. Did I mention Madam Chu? She helped us recycle the booster ganger we caught after they trashed my bike. I don’t think he was dead when she recycled him, but we didn’t have much money so we couldn’t afford a better disposal plan. It was nice of her to give us free mutant goldfish meat though, those are the little things which get you coming back for repeat business when you need to recycle more boostergangers, which I think we are gonna be doing.

Once the ERHAS was made we suited up and went off to District 73. It took us about three hours before Ghost got a hit on the place we were looking for, so we cruised in and settled down nearby. We left Tail there with instructions to come in fast if we called him, and headed into the zone. Lima was inside this huge old automated hospital thing deep inside District 73. District 73 is a war zone, all smashed up and wrecked, so damaged it doesn’t even have proper Husk or network connection. During the catastrophe the roof fell in so there are parts that are completely crushed, and it gets weak sunlight through the rain from up there in the broken ceiling. Lima’s hideout, this old hospital, must have been pretty tough because the centre of it was intact even though a chunk of roof fell on it back in the catastrophe. The centre part had these holes in the top that used to be hover car entrances, and inside all these rooms connected to the hovercar entrance. The idea was that the ambulance floated in there, and then the patient was taken straight to an emergency room where a robot doctor diagnosed and treated. We couldn’t go in the hovercar entrance without being noticed, but we could creep in through the rubble on the periphery of the building. We were able to sneak up on some idiot guard and Pops iced him with two shots from his silenced pistol. When we checked his body he had nothing, but he looked latino and he was covered in all these really old-fashioned ganger tattoos, so it looked like we’d come to the right place. We moved inside the first hovercar entrance into this kind of reception area, which was all broken up and rainswept. We were moving quietly, so we could take positions at the old reception counters. There was a kind of collapsed space there, and a bridge leading over to another room, that seemed to have a bank of cryotanks or something and wasn’t so open to the elements. In that room was an open fire and five or six semi-naked guys sitting around completely high on drugs. One guy was yelling at them from a nearby window, and looking irritable. He was obviously not high and armed. Pops sneaked up closer and then shot the guy with his silenced pistol – the guy went down straightaway. Then Pops walked up to those five guys around the fire and executed them, chilly and merciless. They were so far gone – probably on ghost chalk – that they didn’t notice as their friends dropped in the fire, and then it was silent. And it smelt bad because one of those guys was roasting in the fire until it went out.

On the other side of the fire there was this kind of set of rooms that looked like they might have been recovery rooms in this hospital. There were maybe five or eight, in a kind of half circle all facing in on this central area that once contained ten of those high-tech liquid recovery chambers, where you float in some goo while you’re repaired. I think I spent some time in one once but I don’t know. They were like pillars in a central hall ringed with glass-fronted rooms, and each room had a bed or two beds in it. The lights were out in some of the rooms and the tanks, but one tank was lit up and filled with goo, and the lights were on in most of the rooms. We crept up really carefully but we didn’t need to have, because most of the rooms contained teenage girls, all naked and just sitting or lying on the beds, staring vacantly out of the room. Three of the beds had men in them, the same kind of tattooed latino gangers as we killed at the entryway. Two were asleep, so no threat, but the third one was raping one of the girls in what I guess was his room. She was just staring vacantly into space while he rode her rough and ragged, which was weird because she didn’t even seem to know he was there, but of course Pops didn’t care about her not caring and you could see him getting all hypertensive and doing his daddy face at the sight of it. I made myself scarce, moved over to one of the other rooms with the sleeping ganger, who I covered with my gun. Coyote went and did something fast and horrible to the other sleeping guy, who didn’t even wake up, and then I stood there in the doorway of the ganger’s room, my shadow kind of vague and giant-sized on the wall from the pinkish light of the recovery chamber behind me. The guy woke up pretty quick when he heard his friend start screaming, but I gave him a warning and he just kind of sat still on the bed while we both listened to his friend dying. This guy must have been around a bit, because he didn’t show any expression when his friend cried for help, and he didn’t flinch when the cries got weaker and the noises got more fleshy. Once the kicking sounds had stopped and the guy gave up whimpering I moved in from the door and Pops joined me, dripping blood from this big knife and splattered all over with it. I didn’t have a lot of time to look at him but he seemed kind of serene. I think at this point the guy realized that his number was up, and he didn’t bother listening to Pops’s “we can do this easy or painful” speech, and launched himself at me. As usual, my rifle jammed, so I had to sling it and hit him with rippers, which is really inelegant at a time like this. I got in a very fine slice down his inner thigh though, just a bit higher up and he’d be permanently emasculated. Then Pops strode in with his bloody knife, there was a bit of grunting and some splattering, and the guy was done for. I guess he didn’t feel like talking, but it probably doesn’t matter anyway because nobody learns Spanish these days, so what were we going to talk about? Authentic Peruvian sepicche? You can get a really good one down at that little collection of stalls in the coriolis side of the docks, but I don’t think anyone in our little team has Spanish good enough to give directions, so it was probably best that we didn’t waste time on pleasantries.

We had a brief chat about the kids, who were basically walking catatonics. Who zombifies kids? We didn’t have the med skills to figure out what had been done to them, but we had a bad feeling about the girl in the recovery chamber. Our little raped girl had obviously been hurt by her recently-eviscerated cassanova, though most of the blood on her now wasn’t her own so it was hard to tell, but maybe they had planned to stick her back in a recovery chamber afterwards. There is no depth that cheap gangers won’t sink to, but the weird thing was that all these girls had been lobotomized in some way we couldn’t understand. They weren’t catatonic with fear or resignation, something medical had been done to them. Pops wanted to call in Tail and lift them out now but we didn’t want to risk this: we didn’t know if anyone was watching and would assume our car leaving meant the job was done, and we also didn’t know if Tail could drive well enough to come in through the broken hovercar entry quickly and get out again without Coyote driving. So we shepherded the girls into the rooms again, cleaned up lovergirl as best we could, and promised them we’d liberate them when we came back.

There were stairs down, and some lifts at the end of the medical room next to evisceration-boy’s rape room. The lift doors were partly jammed open but we decided we aren’t the best at climbing, and so we took the stairs. This turned out to be one of our wiser decisions, because as soon as we got to the bottom of the stairs we were in another gun battle. The stairs opened into a big pair of dimly lit rooms full of rubble. The main room had a fallen pillar in the middle, and beyond that a kind of mess room with some tables and chairs. There was a guard in the middle of the room who wasn’t expecting us, and two guys near the pillar, then a fourth guy at the table. There was a door out of here into some complex of rooms beyond, and a smaller room with a door near the stairs that ran along the side of the main room. We hit the room shooting, and the guys panicked; two took cover behind the pillars, one died instantly, and the other one tried to jump up from the table and put his helmet on. Ghost went into the local net and started scanning for trouble; he told me that the narrow side room had broken walls and could be used to get a crossfire position, so I ran in there while Coyote and Pops pinned down those two guys on the pillar. Coyote was shooting madly but he managed to gun down that guy in the middle of the room, who was the only guy in here with an assault rifle. The other two behind the pillar panicked pretty quickly. I took up a covered position inside the side room, with a view through the damaged wall into the main room, where I could cover the exit door and shoot the guys behind the pillars. When they realized they had lost their cover they tried to run, and they both made it through that door. Ghost told us there were more guys on the other side, who were running out of this kind of mess hall in there. Someone else took up a position inside that mess hall, facing the door we had to go through, obviously planning suppressive fire. Sadly for him, Ghost told me, and I discovered the walls were thin here and I could see his infrared signature through the wall. While he was setting up to gun down whoever came through the door, I opened up a whole clip of ammo straight through the wall. It was very satisfying in infrared, because for a brief moment his heat signature blossomed like a pretty flower before it all faded out and cooled down, mostly on the walls. We went through the door.

The other guys who were on the other side of the door had fled, so we had time to search. We found a kind of storeroom back in the main room, that contained a bunch of ghost chalk and some guns, as well as an MFC unit. Loot! The door opened out to a hallway, with the mess hall and the unfortunate cover-guy on the left and a door at the far end, that the guys had run through and locked. We searched it all but there was no other way through. Ghost’s camera work wasn’t complete here, but he thought he could see the guards on the other side of the door, waiting for us. This is when Coyote pulled out his dynamite. Turns out Coyote’s a bit of a firebug, and his explosives skills are pretty fine. He blew the door and parts of the wall straight in, so clean we barely got dust on us, but with such a big and fierce bang that everyone on the other side died instantly. The whole room through there was a wreck. We moved quick and quiet through the smoke and dust, and Pops put down anyone who was left groaning, though I doubt it mattered. We realized things were going to be a bit unstable in there – I nearly got hit by a falling light – so we went on fast. Past that room was a hallway leading down, that opened into a big room full of columns. We came into this room in the hallway, so we had access to a kind of gallery looking down on the room – a perfect shooting position. There was a bonsai tree in the middle, only it was a gigantic mutant bonsai which is completely tasteless, but not as tasteless as lima, who was in there with some of his bodyguards, on the ground floor. Unfortunately my team are clumsy and noisy boys, so the only person who got into the room undetected was Yours Truly. As soon as I got in Coyote did some kind of gigantic sneeze, and Lima and one of his bodyguards opened up with huge suppressor fire on the doorway.

So here we were at the battle with Lima, our job on the line, and there was me the minstrel in the gallery, two of his bodyguards and him down there in the room, one in the gallery, and all my buddies trapped behind a narrow door that was under suppression. I had managed to put myself in a crossfire position between two of those guys, so I shot them both straight away, but they were armoured and neither went down. Then Ghost surprised us all by actually showing some spine – he was wearing that stupid body armour of his that he was wearing when we first met him, and it’s so tough that he just walked straight through the suppression fire and started shooting. But Coyote and Pops didn’t have anything like that to work with, so they just had to stay outside the door waiting for Lima and his bodyguards to think of a more creative tactic than shooting at the door. Me and Ghost killed two of the bodyguards and started shooting Lima, and that’s when things turned nasty. Lima took cover in a position that I could see would put him in line with his remaining bodyguard if I moved, so I tried to run to a better vantage point, but his bodyguard shot me as I was running. Most of it missed me, but one lucky hit took me in the head and that was goodnight from me. I don’t know what happened after that, but a bit later I woke up with a massive headache, being carried by Pops who was swearing and crying. What kind of grown man cries just because his friend got shot in the head?

The boys told me later that after I went down Coyote and Pops suddenly found the ability to crawl, and got out of the doorway. Then Pops went crazy, he came running over to me, grabbed my gun (that had armour piercing ammo) and started shooting madly at Lima, while Ghost kept shooting the bodyguard and Coyote ran over to help me. I had left strict instructions on all my social networks that I am not to be revived if I am shot in combat, because it’s dangerous and stupid to cry over spilt blood when the enemy is up and fighting, but Coyote probably can’t read or has some macho hero complex or something, because he ignored my rules and wasted time trying to wake me up. Meanwhile Pops was burning through ammo like a boosterganger in a speed lab, pouring bullets into Lima until he finally gave up and consented to expire. At least Pops had the good sense to listen to my instructions. So that’s when I woke up, and I think the final bodycount is like 12 to Pops, we didn’t really count Coyote’s because they were mostly body parts and we aren’t forensic scientists, Ghost got maybe 3, and I got 3 at the most. Bottom of the league table and equal last with a netrunner. I really, really need a better gun.

Anyway, when I came back I had this weird sickness and a weird, tiny voice in the back of my head like a different person. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point in that battle my Russian boosterware came back – maybe that’s why I was able to take on two guys at once from the crossfire position, instead of being gunned down like a dog. I don’t remember it so clearly, but that’s why I was running to take on Lima and his bodyguard from a better position, and if I had been a bit luckier I’d have got there and been able to kill them both[1]. I’m really happy it came back, but I don’t know what it is and now we have some money I’m thinking of paying Madam Chu to do a bit of investigating.

Oh yeah, we got money. But that and the weird room with the obssessive post-it notes – that’s a story for another day!

fn1: In the cyberpunk rules you fumble on a 1 on a 1d10. I rolled 7 ones in maybe 12 skill checks during this session. The boosterware kicking in was actually the GM’s decision. When I rolled my 6th one, everyone told me to change my d10 which was obviously loaded, so I switched to another d10 and then that d10 also rolled a 1 (immediately after the previous roll!) So the GM said “this is bullshit, you can reroll that one” and explained it away as my Russian boosterware kicking in. This is the reason my bodycount is only 3 even though my PC is the solo: every time I fired my gun I rolled a 1. I threw away the die I had been using and one player was aghast, saying “I have never seen a player actually throw away a die before!” But that die has rolled me fumbles at something like five times the rate everyone else is getting them – I had five in the previous session too, which is why our ambush of the boostergangers that should have ended in one round took five rounds of struggle. In fact my poor luck with fumbles led to us creating a new house rule about the use of the luck stat! In comparison, Coyote rolled no fumbles in the whole session, and his roll for the explosives was two 10s in a row, giving him a total for the skill check of 43. I also fumbled my initiative roll in that last battle (another 1!), so Ghost got to act before me even though my lowest possible initiative score is 16 (on a d10). Losing the initiative in that final battle was crucial, because it meant I couldn’t kill the guys doing suppressive fire before they acted, and I didn’t know what they were going to do, and it made that battle so hard that we thought we were all going to die…