Our hacker is quite good at this!

Our hacker is quite good at this!

Date: 5th November 2177

Weather: Rainy

Mood: Confused but secretly satisfied. Boys are so confusing! When Goliath raided our hideout we were keeping a little goldfish called Bobo, but when we got the hideout back last week Bobo was gone. I remembered how Ghost used to stare at Bobo in his little bowl, and so I thought as a thank you present for all his efforts with the goldfish and the sunken whaler I should get him a replacement. I got a little fish bowl and spent some of our new stash of nuyen on a real goldfish – not a synth job but a real one with a mother and father (or whatever messed-up family arrangements goldfish have that make them into maneaters) – and put it in the bowl. I also found a little plastic replica of a skyscraper to put in the bowl, and I remembered I won a tiny Space Battleship Yamato last year at a festival so I put that in there too. The goldfish has these weird bobbly eyes that only look up, so it keeps bumping into the little plastic floating battleship, which is hilarious because it’s just like what the goldfish under New Horizon were doing to Ghost’s whaler. Cute, right!? I called the goldfish Bobo Too and took it to show to Ghost but he got that weird stern look he gets when he thinks I’m asking stupid questions about why sometimes he makes such big mistakes, and told me to take it away, and I thought maybe he didn’t want the hassle of looking after a real live (not synth!) goldfish so I told him it was a real one so it would die eventually and then I said it probably eats human meat cause that’s what the goldfish he met yesterday were into, and that’s not so much a hassle really ’cause we’re always surrounded by bodies and we could just get offcuts from Madame Chu’s Body Bank now we’re practically on wholesale business terms with her, and I told him that Bobo Too was a thank you present for his great work with the goldfish, and that’s when he started shaking and screaming at me about don’t I have any sense and can’t I just fucking google this shit goldfish don’t eat people they don’t eat people they DON’T EAT PEOPLE and then he slammed the door on me and I could hear him crying on the other side of the door, and so now I have to keep Bobo Too which I guess means I’m gonna have to go to the bodybank, though I’m not sure if Bobo Too eats human flesh because I found a bit of goo in my body armour and he didn’t seem to want to eat it so maybe I should google this stuff. Anyway I don’t understand why Ghost was so upset, I mean I know it was nice of me to get him a thank you present and Pops is always saying I should be nicer to my crew but it was just a cute little goggle-eyed goldfish that kept doing silly little impersonations of the big goldfish trying to eat Ghost’s whaler so I don’t know why he was so touched by it that he had to cry. I swear, sometimes the girl’s magazines I read don’t know anything about boys at all, because they are always talking about how boys don’t have feelings and just like sex and stuff but just giving Ghost a goldfish made him cry. Maybe boys are really just as tender as the magazines all say girls are! Anyway, now I have a cute bobbly-eyed goldfish, he’s fun to look at and so I’m kind of secretly satisfied that Ghost didn’t take him. I’m also secretly satisfied that my secret job for Goliath got our hideout back, and we made lots of money salvaging a whaler and killing the guys who tried to stop us. Today was a good day!

Outfit: Just sloppy joes really, because we’re cleaning up the hideout that I arranged to get back from Goliath, and they really messed it up so we’ve spent lots of time recently cleaning out their mess, so it’s just sports suit and hello kitty slippers until next week. I had goldfish-scale nails on but since Ghost is so touchy about these things at the moment I switched for plain blue to match my rifle.

Sometimes having a bit of a reputation is a good thing, not like when a Goliath goon noticed me, and last week I managed to get a different Goliath guy to notice me and he was very interested in paying me for some work in connection with my reputation, so in exchange for a few details stitched up I managed to convince Goliath to wipe our criminal record, give us back our hideout at Ragut’s place, and pay me 3000 Nuyen cash. Everyone was really surprised, and they’d have been even more surprised if I told them the other offers Goliath gave me that I didn’t take them up on (though maybe I might mention them to Winter next time I play baseball with him, because he might be able to oblige). Even Coyote looked vaguely impressed for a moment, and he’s a fixer so he’s not easily impressed. But 3000 Nuyen is not really that much money when you keep doing jobs for free, so we had a bit of a council of war [<-that’s what Pops calls these meetings where the boys drink too much beer and we all eat bad pizza] and decided we needed to do some actual paid work – you know, like a real team, rather than the charity outfit we’ve been running up till now.

So Coyote went out looking and found us a couple of really easy jobs we could do. Well, “easy” is relative I guess but compared to killing an FBR on a train the size of an apartment block I guess lots of kinds of work are easy. The first job was real simple: some guy he knew wanted us to track down someone called Andrew who had this weird cyberarm that “contained something he was interested in studying.” All we had to do was find this guy, who lives on the docks, and get his cyberarm. We had a cyberarm of our own (from back when we iced Lima) so all we need to do is find this dude Andrew (who was once on a tv show about freakish cyberparts or something) and convince him to swap arms. Which could be costly if he doesn’t have a quick mount for that arm, but Coyote’s guy was offering 4000 Nuyen for this arm so maybe we could arrange a cheap swap job with Madame Chu’s body bank if we really needed too.

The second job was also pretty straightforward: another guy that Coyote knows, by the name of Tofu, needs a crew to go down to the docks and find a crashed whaler, which is submerged beneath the docks in the area where the mutant goldfish are causing trouble. This whaler is said to be holding a valuable cargo, which he wants, and he’ll split the proceeds of selling it 50/50 with us. Since Ghost has some goldfish-hunting friends down in the docks we figured we could do a bit of sub-contracting, find that whaler, and get it out fairly easy. And Ghost is good at dealing with goldfish, so what could go wrong?!

Off we went to the docks!

The Case of the Mutant Arm

We knew Andrew had been on some low-grade tv show about freakish body parts so we jetted down to the broadcasting studio on the docks to ask them where he was. The broadcasting studio was in this run down crashed up apartment block that looked like it was about to sag in on itself, a real shabby place. There was an AV on the top where we landed, with two security guys, but the AV was obviously wrecked and the guys too, and when they saw me and Ghost getting out of the AV in full armour they just kind of gestured for us to go on ahead, no problems at all. We had to take this kind of ladder into the lower levels, where we got into the studio, and there was this small room packed with broadcasting gear and these scared-looking people who were looking at us like we were gonna kill them, and Coyote showed them a picture and they called over the producer and she was a bit timid but she told us what we needed to know. It’s weird everyone says that the docks are dangerous but whenever I come down here people are real timid and helpful. I guess some people are just prejudiced against poor people, because they all seem harmless and nice to me …

Anyway, the helpful but scared-looking producer lady told us that Andrew had been in an area that Goliath recently cleared out, which meant he had to move on from his home, probably to one of the areas set aside for the internally displaced. Goliath were down here in force recently, cleaning out lots of the poor and homeless and making everything all messed up, but they didn’t have the people to be able to properly empty the docks, so people would just move away and settle somewhere else, which would get all crowded and rough, then move on to a different part of the docks, so basically all that was really happening was that Goliath were forcing people out of one established part of the docks, and then they were moving off to disused and derelict parts and revitalizing them. So Andrew had joined the flow, and we would too. We thanked the nice producer lady and headed off to the area we thought he might be in. This was an area conveniently near to Madame Chu’s body bank, but it was really chaotic and confused from all the refugees. Goliath had a big force around the perimeter, with Goliath AVs overhead and lots of patrols running around, we even saw some FBRs on duty, and it was obvious that people from all around the docks were coming into this section to escape the clearances. We were going to have real difficulty finding him so we decided to visit Madam Chu – after all, he’s got a cyberarm, and she likes to keep an eye on such things. So she tells us straightaway that he came in a while back with this monstrous arm, desperate to get it removed, but he didn’t have the money so she told him to get gone. She’d be willing to swap our cyberarm and 800 nuyen in exchange for an operation to remove his arm and replace it with a cheap, semi-functional arm she has left over. That would leave us 3200 nuyen better off, minus an arm we don’t need, so we agreed and went off to find him at his last known address. He was there alright, high on military-grade painkillers and an absolute mess. His arm was this huge monstrosity of buckled metal and swollen human flesh, laced through with what looked suspiciously like goldfish scales, and hints of fins and even teeth growing out from the swelling wreck. He was obviously in a lot of pain and not happy. We took him back to Madame Chu’s and cut the deal, and she cut the arm. Seems like she doesn’t need much in the way of consent forms for work like this … She told us that a few years ago there was a new line of cyberlimbs that were meant to be built on genetic technology, some experimental technique called the MAGE, but the limbs turned out to be defective, with a high risk of cancer and sometimes problems with regrowth. It looked like Andrew might have got himself one of these arms cheap on the black market, but the genetic slip-ups had combined with his diet of mutant goldfish meat to create this monstrous arm. Once she had it off she told us it looked like he had a lot of cancer growth inside, and though she had tried to separate it all from his shoulder he probably wasn’t going to live too much longer.

Still, now he could at least wipe his arse[1]. We paid her, checked he was alive, and left him to recover. Coyote even flicked him a vial of quick heal. Who says charity doesn’t pay? It paid us!

Bobo's world ...

Bobo’s world …

Salvage and Wreckers

We did a quick run topside to get the arm back to Coyote’s guy, rest a night, and then back down to the docks. We went straight to the area where Ghost’s goldfish hunting friends were and laid out our plan – 30% cut of our share of the loot if they would help us with their equipment and goldfish expertise. We needed to get Ghost into the water in a salvage whaler, and needed the hunters to distract the fish until we found the lost whaler, then help us lift it out. They were dubious but the money convinced them, so off we went. The task was simple: they laid some baits in the water, and when the enormous goldfish had gathered they fired harpoons into one, lifted it out of the water and hung it, still struggling, in the air between two AVs. Then a third AV hovered up and a guy with a long pole cut open the fish’s belly. It’s guts fell into the water and the other goldfish went into a frenzy, leaping and swarming to get to the guts. They then started moving away, dropping the fish closer to the water to lure the goldfish, and soon the area was clear as the fish swarmed after their stricken brethren. At that point the salvage whaler hit the water and started descending, with me and Coyote hovering in our whaler up above the water, on guard duty. I was strapped to the side of the whaler, hatch open, a whole bunch of assault rifles ready just in case, and Coyote was trying to keep look out because maybe if this sunken whaler was valuable someone would come for it. Ghost started looking for signs of electronic life and after about 20 minutes he found a tiny emergency beacon, on its last batteries, beeping somewhere in the inky night. By now he was something like 100 or 200 m underwater and drifting carefully through a ghostly world of ancient skyscrapers and structures from before the Crash, all swarming with underwater life. The whaler was there, crashed on top of a jumble of collapsed buildings, and somehow the whaler was hanging on this fragile webbing of wires in between two buildings and sending out this hopeless signal. Up close Ghost could see that the windows had been smashed in, probably by goldfish, and the whole thing had sunk after it was attacked.

The goldfish hunters did their thing, attaching salvage balloons to the top of the whaler and setting them off, and then their salvage whaler started moving up, faster than the wreck, moving to the surface to try and get out before the goldfish came back.

And that was when the two AVs came out of nowhere and attacked our whaler, flying past in front of it and sending a fusillade into the hull. One bullet hit me in the arm but didn’t do any serious damage. Coyote hadn’t seen them coming, probably because he didn’t know the area very well and there are lots of tunnels and hiding places, so they got the drop on us, but Coyote got us moving up fast to try and counter their advantage. They were two rough, cheap-looking AVs, with gangbangers riding in the hold firing submachineguns from open side doors, hanging onto straps like they were on a commuter train and leering at us as they shot. I fired a short burst into the compartment of each AV and took down two men in each compartment[2] – they fell out of one, and into the other, and Coyote was already yelling at me about body banks and profit. I guess he earned that name for a reason. We then started this weird spiral dance in the air as they tried to get in a position to shoot without being shot at, but it didn’t work and I managed to kill another two guys in one AV, that then did a runner.

As all this was happening Ghost was rising steadily from the depths in his whaler, and of course this is when the goldfish returned and started banging on his whaler. He kept rising though, and the goldfish hunter tried to avoid the goldfish, but more started gathering and slowing down his rise. Before he got to the surface he managed to warn us, though mostly he was screaming incoherently about “goldfish goldfish everywhere!” and telling us self-evident stuff about how he didn’t want to die. Sometimes Ghost is too poetic for a hacker, going on about crushing darkness and being swallowed whole by the depths in his most unnecessarily dramatic voice. We managed to convince him to stop play-acting and hack into the second AV, which he did, freezing it from movement, but now the guys had closed the hull door so I couldn’t shoot them and someone was trying to get control of the AV back.

That’s when Coyote recommended I should jump through the front window of the AV. He moved the whaler close enough that I could jump easily but my rippers didn’t smash the glass and I started sliding. Ghost was too busy screaming about goldfish to pay attention to remote-hacking the AV and so the guy got control of it and tried to do a barrel roll to tip me off, but Coyote got our whaler beneath the AV just in time so I didn’t get to practice my diving, just my confused landing, and then I was sliding off the top of our whaler[3] but somehow I managed to get a grip and then Coyote dragged me in. So I strapped myself back in and now the guy in the other AV tried to ram us side on, which gave me a great opportunity to shoot through the hull – I could hear the dude on the other side screaming in terror and yelling at his friend to leave so I shot through and yelled at them to surrender or die – just as Ghost’s whaler came roaring out of the water and he regained control of the AV remotely, which pretty much sealed the deal for the two guys in there who were now unable to do anything except wait to die.

We let them live, and took their AV down to a quiet spot to wait for the salvage to come bubbling to the surface. While we waited we looted them, and they told us they had heard that Tofu had a salvage job going so they just followed us here in hopes of ambushing us when we were getting the gear out. We told them they should rethink their approach to crime, and then Coyote got the phone number of their friend. He called him up, and they had a short chat during which Coyote tried to convince this dude that he were coming to get him and he should just drive the AV to a place we told him, put it down and leave it there for us. Ghost was tracing the call while Coyote had this conversation, so he was able to finally find out where this guy and his AV were, and he was also able to ping some messages from the guy to one of his friends – he was sending a message to his friend telling him he had an AV to sell in a hurry and could his friend come pick it up immediately at exactly the place Coyote was telling him to drive it to. Ghost told Coyote that, and Coyote told the dude to not be so uncooperative, and then the dude got real chilled out and agreed to everything, even sent a cancellation message to his friend. So we drove over there and picked up that AV too. We now had two AVs and the bodies of five guys I had killed, and a couple of credit sticks from the survivors. We let the survivors go, drove the bodies to Madame Chu’s [like I said, we’re getting on wholesale terms] and then returned to the salvaged whaler, which by now the fishermen had dragged out of the water. We cut the proceeds of the body bank and the cred sticks, and put in a call to Tofu. He came down to get his gear, and once we dug through the salvage it became pretty clear that this whaler had been on a drug smuggling mission of some kind – probably about the time that the mutant goldfish scourge started, which was real unfortunate for the people driving this whaler. There used to be lots of secret smuggling routes through the waters beneath the docks but now they’re most death traps, as the crew of this whaler found out.

Which was good news for us. All up our job netted us maybe 10,000 nuyen, 7000 after our cut to the fishermen. We bumped fists, shared some booze, and went our separate ways, leaving one of the AVs for the fishermen to use. Once we totaled up all the money we’d made – my job with Goliath, the weird arm dude, and the salvage mission – we had 16,000 nuyen! So we spent 10,000 on paying off a bad debt Coyote incurred when some gangbangers smashed up his car, and then we were still 6000 clear.

Money! I feel like a real mercenary again, actually killing people for money rather than a mission! It’s kind of refreshing, and if we do another couple of jobs like that we might have some space to breath. Which, Ghost kept telling us all the way home, is a real important thing …

I don’t know what we’re doing next though. I have to go on a mission to the crash zone or the scary guys are going to come to take back my precious gown, and Pops has started talking about setting up some kind of gang and territory of our own, which sounds like more unpaid labour to me but probably a good idea in the long run. The war between Goliath and Arasaka is starting to heat up so it might be a good time to get out of New Horizon for a while. Or maybe we could stay where the heat is, and see how much money we can make running freelance in the middle of it all … we’ll see. But for now I’m off to watch Bobo Too bumping his stupid little head into that little floating ship…

fn1: On the approximately 1 in 6 occasions when his arm worked – it was a real cheap arm.

fn2: This session we initiated the rules on lackeys

fn3: Not the best time to roll three fumbles in a row

Brief summary for lazy readers (or people who can’t stand Drew’s voice)

  • Drew did a secret thing for Goliath and got back the group’s hideout
  • We needed money so Coyote found us two jobs
  • Job 1 was easy: we went to the docks to find a guy with a mutant cyberarm, for 4000 nuyen
  • We found him, he was desperate to get rid of his arm, so we arranged to get it swapped for a dodgy cyberarm with Madame Chu’s Body Bank
  • He was happy, we were happy, Coyote’s contact was happy
  • Job 2 was a salvage job which meant dealing with mutant goldfish under the docks
  • We got help from Ghost’s goldfish-hunting friends
  • While we were raising the salvage, we were attacked by a gang in AVs
  • We killed them but Drew did some high-risk acrobatics that nearly got her killed and Ghost got attacked by goldfish again underwater
  • We managed to capture some of the gangbangers, who turned out just to be opportunists; we stole their stuff and banked the bodies of their dead