Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Obnoxious drones for beginners

Some days the jobs come thick and fast, so much so that you don’t even get time for a break or anything. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of excitement in my life (Well, a lot), but at the same time, it’s nice to have a bit of a breather on occasion. You know, go to a club, have a good time, chase cute dumb Elf guys and so on. And to be fair, in the case of the last two jobs we had, both of them came rather fast an unexpectedly.

Job one came in the form of a Dwarf who worked at Hilderbrandt-Kleinfort-Bernal. For those who don’t know, it’s Europe’s biggest bank that’s not owned by one of the Megas, and is a AA in its own right. This guy, Jody Stubbleton, had been just a regular boring corp suit working as a Data Analyst within the bank. You know, the sort of boring, mindless no imagination corp drone job that we all loathe and despise. Anyway, Jody had stumbled across some data that He found to be rather strange and suggested that the bank had been up to something dirty (No, really?). Now he was looking to get out, and was afraid for his life.

Lockheed Optic X2 Drone. A sophisticated
tool for the discerning creep
We agreed to his meet at a nice coffee shop n downtown, one that actually served real coffee. Almost immediately we knew that something was wrong, as Freddie was able to just make out a Lockheed Optic-X2 Drone above the area. That’s the sort of high-tech surveillance gear that suggests that there’s somebody sophisticated and well-equipped at work. And while we could just chalk it up to a coincidence, that sort of thinking gets people killed in this line of work. So we tasked Neon with keeping an eye on the Drone while we met with Mr Stubblefield.

Once inside (and relishing the aroma of fresh ground coffee beans) we met the man in question and placed our orders. (I had a rich cappuccino. Abbey had tea. Freddie had a donut). Stubblefield explained that he had made a copy of the data and hid it on a drive in his apartment. He had arranged a buyer and was going to cut us in on a share of the payout as long as we got him and it to safety. The problem was that he lived in Renton, a good distance away from where we were now, and thus he didn’t have the time to collect it and then go back to the office like nothing had happened,

I suggested that wasn’t an option anyway, given that there was a Drone buzzing around outside watching him. Given that meant he was likely not going to survive going back to the office, I came up with an alternate plan. We were going to make it look like we were forcibly extracting Jody, and then grab the data while we carted him off to s safehouse. Pretty quickly we were hurrying him out of the place, bundling him in the back of Freddie’s van. The four of us set off in different directions; Freddie and Neon in the van heading to a safehouse in the Barrens while me and Abbey were headed to Jody’s apartment, albeit taking different routes.

As expected, the Optic took off after Freddie, since he had the principle stashed in his van. And even though Freddie’s Bulldog is a turbo-charged, fire-spewing death machine there was no way he was outrunning a jet drone. So instead Freddie decided to play smarter. He used his RCC to spam the drone with junk commands, trying to confuse it. Then while it was thrown off, he dashed into a carpark and changed the chameleon coating and spoof chips on his van before emerging. It worked so well that the drone took off after a completely different Bulldog that was headed in the opposite direction. (and Big Al’s World of Lumber now apparently has a new customer).

With that off their tail, the three of them were able to make it to the safehouse which I had picked out because it was in a high noise zone. I figured that our opponents, whoever the hell they were, loved their gadgets. By relocating Jody into such an area, they were going to have a much harder time finding him again. So that meant he was secure; now the next step was to get his data.

Jody’s apartment in Renton was a basic, cramped, two room hellhole that is the sort of place occupied only by boring corp drones with no real lives of their own. Added to that it wasn’t even a good district, so the upside was that if we had to go loud for whatever reason we would have a fair amount of time before a KE team bothered to show up. Our plan was for Abbey to break into his apartment and get the thing while I was going to watch form across the street.

This didn’t go to plan either. The first thing Abbey found was that the data drive was not in the place where Jody said it would be. Then somebody fired a smoke grenade from the apartment below where I was into Jody’s place, further confusing the issue. I ran down stairs (taking them three or so at a time) to find out what was going on, while Abbey had to deal with a third problem.

These things are a lot more dangerous then
they look.
Said problem consisted of an Aztechnology Crawler drone with a fragging Nissan Optimum II mounted on top of it. I mean, seriously, what the hell. An assault rifle with an under barrel shotgun mounted on a drone that’s smaller then it is. Unfortunately, most of her adept powers were focused around sneaking, climbing and running, which meant that she couldn’t just punch it to death. On the other hand, having a pistol loaded with Stick and Shock ammo was a useful alternative, allowing her to disable it. At the same time, whoever was on the other end of it also got a rather nasty helping of dumpshock and possibly a fried RCC for their trouble.

While she was dealing with that, I found myself in a shootout with a well-equipped Dwarf. After we traded fire through a rapidly disintegrating door (Note to self: get a shotgun for dealing with doors) he tried to take me out with a grenade before making his own escape. This turned out to be a fatal mistake on his part as it left him abseiling down the side of the building and now perfectly within my sights. A burst of fire didn’t kill him but he had to drop off his rope to avoid being riddled with bullets. That dropped him right into my hands - literally, actually, as I shock gloved him into unconiousness.

We took him off-site for a little bit of investigation. The guy was pure professional; top of the line gear, good ware and the like, but nothing distinctive at all. The only identifying mark was a hidden patch labelled “Zhigul M”, something none of us knew a thing about. The good news was that Neon was able to trace his Commlink back to a cabin by Lake Youngs, south of Renton. Leaving him, we rendezvoused to make our next move.

Heading to the cabin, we split up to engage in an extensive recon of the area. Me and Abbey went in on foot, while Freddie sent his Fly-Spies buzzing around for extra eyes on the situation. The cabin itself was nicely isolated, with a completely anonymous GMC Bulldog parked outside. Inside were a pair of Dwarves, one of which was apparently unconscious.

Given the situation, we went for a straight out blitz attack. Freddie’s Rotordrones pumped in gas grenades, which flushed out the one remaining Dwarf. He went down fast to my Shock Gloves, allowing us to easily secure him. A quick check told us that he had a data drive on him, and Neon was able to confirm that it had what we were after (Being financial records circa the Crash of 2029, And some irregulars regarding board members how ceased to exist in their records after them and a tech school in Biloxi, Mississippi). The other unconscious Dwarf was indeed their rigger, who had been badly fried when his Console blew up. Which, by the way, means that Optic drone will likely be following Big Al forever.

Jody got his drive and passed it on to his buyer, and we collected our paychceck. And then, as a bonus, Abbey drove him to the airport so he could get the hell away from Seattle and his old life.

No sooner had the dust settled form that they we got an offer on another job. But, after reviewing it, I decided to pass. As cool as it is to be wanted, the job itself looked dubious and would mean a lot of travel and international border crossings which meant a lot of hassle. Oh, and that was just to meet the Johnson. Yeah, no.

It wasn’t too long after that when were got our next... Well, I suppose you could call it a job, but really, I have no idea. And I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I mean, there were some cool highlights and yes, we got paid, but there was a definite feeling of being suckered at the end of the day.

The offer came in the form of a message dropped onto Neon’s account. That set her off because he had no idea how the hell anyone found said account and sent it, but the content was what was more interesting. Simply put, it was a scavenger hunt of sorts. We go into the ACHE, follow the clues, retrieve a flag and then fly it form the top of the Seattle Space Needle to get a huge reward. Which, admittedly, did sound cool.

Not one of Seattle's architectural hilights
Immediately Lightspeed called up Freddie to say shed just gotten the same email and that following it was an awful idea. The whole issue was that there were parts of ACHE that were still sealed off and full of leftover horrible murdermaim equipment and possibly even remnants of a crazy digital murder god as well. This told us that we weren’t the only people who had gotten this email. Also that Lightspeed worries a bit too much because, you know, her daughter is a Shadowrunner and does horrible things for a living already.

And then... Yeah, you know what? The whole thing was a mess and the more I think about it, the grumpier I get feeling that we all got played big time. It started out with us breaking into ACHE all dressed in prison jumpsuits only to find we were being watched by news cameras and having run ins with both an Orc gang and a Gnome being airlifted by a Rotordrone. We got the Flag despite the best efforts of all involved and then got the hell out of there after having a run-in with TopKek of all people and his brand new team of Noizquitos (because he needed more ways to be obnoxious).

Horizon Noizquito, the world's most annoying thing
From there we got to the Space Needle and realised that every single sniper in Seattle would be watching the place. So instead me and Abbey booked dinner there with the plan for her to go out to the observation deck, sneak up the top and then unfurl the flag on top. That hit a problem when we encountered Snig the Axe being carted off by security, which made us realise that Slackintosh was probably hiding nearby. Sure enough, Freddie found her dug in with her rifle at the ready, watching the top of the Needle.

Figuring that two can play at the same game, Abbey sent her own Noizquito to distract Slack. It worked enough to throw her off her aim, but not quite. Abbey got shot just as she was unfurling the flag, and was badly wounded. Slack then drew down a billion or so other snipers opening up on her, so it was deserved. Despite her injuries, Abbey managed to abseil down form the building and be collected by Freddie before she bled out. And I stayed inside for dessert. You would too.

We got our money, though. And we also found out that the flag was the logo of Ares Media’s latest sim starlet, who had no idea that somebody was doing this (of course) but was so happy about the support form her fans (which we weren’t anyway). So we got played big time for a PR stunt. On the other hand, I got a great dinner and Abbey got to leap off the Space Needle in a cocktail dress, so maybe it wasn’t a total loss.
Okay, this is pretty cool. I will admit that


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