Is that a transponder in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?

Is that a transponder in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?

Date: November 27th, 2177

Weather: Rainy

Outfit: Battle fatigues loaned to me by one of Alt’ s more human-resembling staff, because we didn’t have any spare gear on the bikes, and we can’t sit around for days in Alt’s little super-villain compound wearing our combat armour. I’m even going commando for the day (don’t tell Coyote!!) because I got blood all over my underwear when I shot Theo and a nice lady in Alt’s entourage is washing my smalls for me now. I guess we’ll be leaving here in battle gear though because there’s nothing left out there that isn’t deadly.

Mood: Exhausted and relieved, but kind of hollow. We traded Sam to Alt, just, but to get her there we had to kill her boyfriend and handed her over like a piece of stunned meat because she didn’t want to go willingly and her sneaky boyfriend had a GPS beacon which is why we shot him. After we heard her horror story about what she had been doing and what she had done we all agreed she had to be handed over because she’s like that big bird in that old Oil Age metal song about the annoying sailor who won’t shut up only waaaay worse because that stupid old sailor never killed a god with his own stupidity but Sam did. Her friends would have killed us too but we had just enough warning to get our armour on and defend ourselves, thanks to me shooting Theo and sacrificing my clean underwear for the good of the team. Still, even though we did the right thing something feels wrong about it like there’s something we should have done better but we missed something on the way. It’s nagging at us all like an itch we can’t scratch but once we get our prize from Alt I think the money and glory is going to be good medicine.

News: Let’s hope we get our prize soon because the world has gone crazy. Arasaka are well inside New Horizon now and it’s basically shut to outsiders, there’s almost no way in or out now and it’s been turned into one of those war zones where only the people in orbit feel safe. We don’t really know what’s going on in there but my guess is it’s just like what I saw in the Indo zone two years ago whenever Arasaka hit some helpless little tinpot country – chaos, dirt, communal violence, everyone scrabbling to get out or to get on top of the heap or to get their own back and no safety anywhere until the evac AV hauled your team out through a hail of bullets, and you didn’t even have time to think about what horrible things were going to happen to your interpreter you left behind because you were too busy on the mini-gun to think about anything. Good times, if you’re on top.

We’re not on top, but once we get our payout from Alt we can get out and stay out.

After we killed Carnage and got out of the Oil Rig we headed into the Crash Zone with our two prisoners, to hide out for a day until we could talk to her about her situation. Once we were comfortable in the zone we got to talking with her, and she gave us the full story of her, Alt and Lima. It took a few hours but here’s the condensed version.

So Sam, Alt and Lima were part of this crazy research project somewhere ancient and mountainous like Macchu Picchu, and Coyote’s dad was there doing human experiments on them like every doctor seems to want to do, and they were using this macnic thing, the crazy stone that drives people crazy that Semmtech stole from the Oil Rig, to drive the experiments. Sam wasn’t real clear about what the experiments were but they did something to her and Lima and Alt. At some point Coyote’s dad discovered he had a conscience, but only after he’d gone too far down the dark path of course because what else can you expect from a doctor? And so he offered to help them escape and Sam and Lima were all for it but then Alt betrayed them because she’s greedy or maybe because she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life hanging out in the Peruvian jungle with Miss Goody Two Shoes hiding behind waterfalls and eating raw hairy spiders and swatting hummingbirds while Miss Goody Two Shoes waffles on about ethics and freedom and probably insists on only eating fruit or something. So as they were getting away the security guards grabbed them and there was a fight and Lima escaped but Sam and Alt didn’t, only then Lima came back to rescue them, and in the chaos Coyote’s dad and Sam managed to get away with the macnic, So then they started doing more human experiments on this stupid stone while Lima went on a psycho doctor-killing spree around central America (why did we kill him he’s like the prodigal son compared to his crazy sisters!?) and Alt just disappeared or something. Then Sam and Crazy Coyote Dad managed to get back to New Horizon with the macnic, and this was back before the crash, when New Horizon was a land of milk and honey and Exalta ruled over everything like a god and everyone was peaceful and happy (unless they were allergic to honey or lactose intolerant I guess which is probably half the population but since when do Gods care about their followers’ allergies?) and I’m sure they didn’t have crazy doctors there, right? But Sam didn’t like the ethics in that place, so she offered the macnic to Exalta and Exalta took one look at the thing and panicked and ran away into space or something or maybe she just died but anyway that’s when the crash happened and it was all Sam’s fault for wanting to graduate from human experiments to AI experiments. She’s like the Doctor Mengele of cyberspace, except that he was just a skeezy dude with a twin fetish whose experiments never killed a god and hers did! And I think I heard Ghost whispering that she killed a dream too, but I don’t know about that because I don’t have dreams anymore since I got my booster ware installed and anyway my dreams were all ice and blood and screams and silent rough men grunting in the cold dark while I waited for everything to change so I don’t know why anyone would care if their dreams were killed but that seemed to bother Ghost. Of course I went back and killed all the men in my dreams but I don’t think Sam thinks like me so once she killed Exalta she just ran away and then lost the macnic, which probably ended up in Semmtech’s control. And then Lima came to New Horizon looking for her and the macnic, and so did Alt, and they all were using their special powers to find each other and the macnic like a really crazy family of pscyho clowns doing an easter egg hunt.

Dear Diary, I know when I first met Coyote and Ghost and Pops you thought I had the worst luck in the world and I was only making bad choices but now look at this dysfunctional family we have stumbled into, they’re transhumanist trailer park trash with a cult and heavy weapons. This is weapons-grade family feud leavened with cyber psychosis! It makes Ghost and Coyote look completely normal now don’t you think, dear Diary? It’s a good thing I’m completely sane and everyone can rely on me to keep a level head while the clowns are mass murdering their way across the world killing gods with a stone that bleeds blue blood. I’m also glad that they agree with me about handing Sam over to Alt, even Pops – I was surprised by how quickly he agreed to be rid of her, but I guess her tale of deicide was all the convincing Pops needed…

When we first met Sam Pops was getting all dewy-eyed and doing his Dad Voice but once we heard that story his tone changed and he started doing his Stern Detective Voice, which usually means that someone is going to have to die. But Sam wasn’t ready to give up yet and she told us that she could help Coyote access the contents of the data chip that he received from his family when we rescued them from that prison in the pit. He agreed of course and then went into a quiet room to spend an hour or so catatonic. And while he was doing that Sam had a quiet conversation with Ghost that made Pops really really uncomfortable, I don’ know why[1].

Me and Pops had a quiet talk about what to do while our team were flaking out, and then once Coyote was up again and alert I killed Theo. I just shot him in the head but he saw it coming by just a fraction of a second, so he tried to dodge, but he had no chance. Pops hit Sam with the stun gun at the same time and the whole thing was done by the time Ghost reacted and came over to stand in front of me and protect me from Theo’s gun, I don’t know why he would do that![2]

Once we were sure Sam was down I ran over to search Theo, which is when I got his blood all over my underwear since I did this whole thing naked. Ghost and Coyote seemed really horrified that I was searching his bag while his body was still bleeding out but why waste time? Just as well I did too because that’s when we found the transponder, and realised that the whole time we were here the Children of Exalta were inbound. So we scrambled to get our armour and weapons ready, Coyote put in the call to Alt, and that’s when we heard the AVs coming in.

Just as well we had Theo and Sam under control![3] Pops and Coyote jumped on one of the war bikes we had stolen, and Ghost went upstairs in our hideout to get a good shooting position. I took cover on the ground behind a piece of concrete wall at the entrance, with Sam next to me ready to be stunned a second time if things went wrong. The Children of Exalta attacked on three AVs, one of which circled around to hover near the front of the building and drop troops while the other two attacked Pops and Coyote on their bike. They managed to get airborne and after a few seconds of spiralling and shooting and getting shot at Coyote managed to get above the AVs. Pops had the mini gun so he made short work of them once he had them in his sights, but in the time it took them to shut down the two AVs the third one dropped five men, who I killed two at a time – one as he stood at the door of the AV, and the other as he landed. Ghost killed the fifth from his vantage point. When they saw all their soldiers dead and the other two AVs down the pilot of that AV quit and lighted out for the horizon as fast as they could. We got off without any serious injuries or damage to gear, and we were just cleaning up when Alt arrived.

Alt floated in surrounded by an honest-to-god army of transhumanists, and she put on the pomp and show for her big moment. She had taken on her handsome young suave man body, the one she had when she gate-crashed Fayling Moon’s concert, and she emerged from a monster military AV surrounded by transhumanists who really had gone past their human state – skin entirely scaled, legs bending back at the knees like lizards, forked tongues flicking and blank inhuman slit eyes staring and blinking slowly. They were all heavily armed, big, with claws and powerful rifles and heavy physiques. So basically like the men I’ve spent most of my life around, but with worse skin problems. They fanned out to make sure none of us caused any trouble and then Alt ran over to – almost charged at – her defeated, despairing sister. She briefly snarled at us about keeping them apart which is pretty sour behavior considering we’re the only reason they’re together, but we spared a glance for the big troglodyte followers and thought better of discussing her gratitude. Although when she started dragging Sam back to her AV Coyote had the sense to ask her about our deal. She just snarled at us but after she’d retreated Mr. Ling, the leader of the transhumanist cult, came over to assure us that we would get our end of the deal. He told us to follow Alt’s crew and we’d be able to hole up in a safe place for a couple of days while Alt sorted everything out. Since we had nowhere else to go, no food or clean clothes, and dirty underwear, we decided his suggestion was a very wise one, and we set off with Alt’s crew. It turns out her safe haven is an abandoned orbital launch facility that looks suspiciously like it’s being reactivated by Alt, just on the edge of New Horizon. It’s close enough to be able to connect to the city but far enough away and abandoned enough that Arasaka don’t care about it – for now. But that’s going to change …

But it won’t change while Arasaka are still doing block-by-block clearance work in the New Horizon megalopolis. So we took a few days out at Alt’s pad to get some medical attention and rest up, and think about what to do next.

I think we know what we’re going to do next. We’re going to destroy that stone. I can feel it coming … I can see Pops is eager to do it, and Coyote wants to find his dad and find answers. Me, I don’t care about the stone at all, but I can see I’m going to be doing another unpaid job very soon.

With friends like these …

fn1: actually Sam worked some kind of charm on him that caused him to become her best friend, which was really scary, but Drew is too stupid to notice something like that.

fn2: Actually Ghost was trying to knock Drew over to stop her shooting Sam, but Drew wasn’t going to shoot Sam and she dodged Ghost so well that she didn’t even notice he was trying to hit her, and just thought he was clumsily interposing.

fn3: Actually it was really just as well! Because our GM revealed to us afterwards that Sam has some kind of weird power that enables her to suck out all our luck points. When she sucks out the luck points it does stun damage equal to our luck, and then she can inflict the same damage back on us as lethal damage in the next round. So if we hadn’t acted first we would have entered the battle with zero luck and serious injuries – Coyote would have been mortally injured, Pops seriously bad, and me lightly hurt (I don’t have much luck!) But then we would have had no luck for the battle – I fired 7 shots in that battle and killed 4 men, and of the three shots that missed two were fumbles[4]. Those fumbles would have led to my only rifle jamming if I had no luck points, and then I would have been in deep deep trouble. So too for Pops and Coyote, who were in an air battle with two armed AVs ….

fn4: Next session we’re going to start using 2d6 in place of d10, and adding five to all difficulties, because the fumble rate is frankly depressing and now all actions are trivially easy using the target numbers given in the books.