SDMB Shadowrun Campaign chapter 2: Golden Rule - players only!

This thread is for in-character posts from the Shadowrun RPG campaign which started here. The players are:

Hoopy Frood as Goethe - Ork Shadowrunner
Mahaloth as Seneth - Human Shadowrunner and magician
Jules Andre as Donovan - Human former Synthcorp company man turned rogue
Autolycus as Nail - Human magical Adept Shadowrunner
AClockworkMelon - character to be introduced soon

Notable NPCs

Chaggo - Ork Adept, former Synthcorp agent now working with the group against his former bosses

McManus - Goethe’s mentor, who disappeared under suspicious circumstances and left a cryptic note for Goethe.

“Kirk” - Elf technomancer, formerly part of the crew. She was with McManus when he disappeared. Her drone with almost-human intelligence, Darwin, is searching for her.

Mr. Johnson - Enigmatic Synthcorp CEO with a ruthless streak.

This thread is for players making in-character posts only. If you would like to comment on the progress of this campaign, please post here.

When we last saw the crew, they had been hired to rescue a kidnapped Synthcorp scientist named Arry. Chaggo led the crew to his hideout, where Donovan finally revealed his motivation for betraying Synthcorp, murdering Arry in cold blood. Chaggo showed the group the motivation for his own betrayal of Synthcorp with a dramatic recording made by a dying man.

Seneth has cryptically revealed that he is quite eager to destroy Synthcorp, while Nail and Goethe have agreed to double-cross the corporation for their own reasons - mostly to save their own skin, and get paid.

Chaggo has arranged a meeting for the group with Synthcorp’s biggest rival, a corporation called Universal Omnitech.

The opening post for chapter 2 of the Shadowrun campaign will be posted here in this thread on or around 9:00 PM, PST, in approximately 5 1/2 hours. The crew is in for a much bigger challenge, with much greater potential rewards!

Welcome back to the New World, chums. It ain’t pretty, but it’s home.

The cigarette drooping loosely from Nail’s lips has burned nearly to the filter. Its smoke curls up toward the dimly lit ceiling, where it’s lost among the smoke from hundreds of other down-and-out gamblers. Nail feels along the hidden surface of the mahjong tiles as he picks his piece.

“Hands off,” an ancient-looking Chinese human playing with him scolds. He knows Nail was trying to cheat, by using texture clues on the hidden face of the tiles.

“I’m just rubbing for luck, asshole,” Nail responds. “The tiles are smooth, anyway.” Nevertheless, Nail stops rubbing the tiles, and picks one at random. “Damn,” he mutters.

A familiar ork pulls a seat up to the table.

“I’m busy,” Nail says.

“It’s time,” Chaggo replies. “It’s now or never. You in?”

“I’m in a game,” Nail says.

“Last chance. I’m walking out of here with or without you.”

Nail sizes Chaggo up for what seems like the hundredth time since the two met. He is really beginning to hate that damn ork. Nail is overcome with the urge to beat the smug expression off Chaggo’s face, but his better judgment eventually overcome the alcohol and nicotine ridden compulsion.

“Fine,” Nail says, and suddenly stands from the table. The three other players begin to protest, and Nail interrupts them. “Shut up,” he says. He tosses his wager on the table, clearly forfeiting it. “Don’t spend it all in one place.”

Chaggo smirks. “I don’t remember you being so grumpy,” he says.

“You can shut up too,” Nail says. “Let’s go.”

Chaggo, Nail, Donovan, Goethe, Seneth, and a middle-aged man are sitting in the back of a limousine, with plenty of room between them. Seneth looks particularly uncomfortable as the automated drone butler offers refreshments to the group, but he doesn’t protest.

“As you may have guessed, I represent Universal Omnitech in the Pacific Northwest region. My name is Arthur Walken. Frankly, I thought our arrangement with Chaggo would never bear fruit, but recently I have been made aware of a change in the variables.” The man smiles, clearly amused by his own choice of words. He has not bothered to dye his salt-and-pepper gray hair, and wears his business suit with relaxed casualness. He seems completely comfortable with the excessive luxury of the limousine.

"It’s no secret we want Synthcorp out of the picture. It’s a business decision, nothing personal. Universal Omnitech is the premier provider of cyberware and bioware in this region, but it’s a tenuous position on the top. We are prepared to pay quite handsomely for a Runner crew to help us ensure we stay there. I believe you are that crew, due to your unique position. Synthcorp is expecting you, and will not question you. You can enter through their Security without trouble, and help us secure a platform for our operation.

Here is what I am prepared to offer. Twenty thousand to each of you as an advanced payment. In return, you infiltrate Synthcorp and insert a virus into their security mainframe. That virus will trick the security protocols into allowing our agents access to Synthcorp headquarters. Once our agents are inside, you will assist our assault on the building, with the goal of preventing Johnson’s escape. Once Johnson is captured, you’ll receive the rest of your payment, sixty thousand credits each. That price is much higher than Synthcorp’s initial offer to you, from what I understand."

The man smiles at each of you in turn, clearly convinced he has made an offer you can’t refuse. “So what do you say, gentlemen? Do we have a deal?”

Upon hearing the offer, Goethe realizes it’s not open to negotiation. No one who’s offering 80 large per runner is expecting no for an answer. Hell, no one’s ever offered 80 large each in any contract Goethe’s ever taken. Goethe almost accepts the deal flat out on impulse, but just as he is about to agree to the deal, the paranoid side of him takes over and reminds him that he’s dealing with corporate politics on a level beyond simple mercenary work. Realizing he’s a bit out of his element, he looks to Donovan and Chaggo with a raise of his eyebrows. This is their world and it’s their place to negotiate.

But even with the job being risky and involved, he’s curious as to how this job will turn out on the earned value spreadsheet of UO. 400 large is quite an investment. Is synthcorp really that much of a threat? Or is UO just trying to get his team on the hook for yet another job that isn’t what it seem, essentially trading a devil they know for one they don’t?

But really, what choice is there? Synthcorp is going to come after them eventually. Better to get paid for taking them down than having to take them down anyway just to live.

Seneth hates computer viruses.

Or it would if he had any idea what a virus is in relation to machines. Seneth does not care one bit about UO vs Synth or any of that nonsense, however one aspect of the run interests him, so he leans forward.

Seneth says in a monotone voice, “And…what will you do with Mr. Johnson when we bring him to you?”

Seneth does not care about the money either and does not plan to negotiate.

Walken takes a deep breath and sighs before answering Seneth’s question.

"I saw the same video you did. That little stunt earned Johnson lots of enemies. Assuming Johnson doesn’t die resisting our assault, I plan to turn him over to the Chinook nation for prosecution. It’s a good deal; the Natives help us in the assault, and we give them number 1 on their most wanted list.

Of course, that will go a lot more smoothly if we can find a way to remove that ICe on the data chip, and get at the supposed evidence underneath. Not our problem, though. Personally, I don’t care what happens to Johnson, as long as he’s in no position to challenge Uni Om."

“Oh, *that *video. Indeed. That is why I wish to learn who this Mr. Johnson really is.”

Seneth lowers his head slowly, nodding agreement to the suggested outcome for Mr. Johnson. Then he sighs, and sits back, and grows quiet again.

However, he continues thinking. “Video?” Seneth thinks. “What…video? This child speaks nonsense. And what exactly is a video in the first place?”

Nail doesn’t like it one bit. This plot is thickening worse than day-old gravy. Nail thinks to himself it’s been a while since he has liked one of his runs. But what choice does he have? Not only does he need the money for the usual reasons, but backing out now would just paint a bullseye on his head. What a mess. Still, at least there a buncha clams in this dangerous paella. Come out in one piece and maybe we can enjoy them.

He smokes a cigarette and plops himself down lazily, spreading out in a gangly heap, enjoying the space the limp provides. As he has nothing productive to say, he is silent.

Arthur seems pleased by the reaction from the group. He lazily sips a martini as he continues.

"So, first things first. Synthcorp has tightened the ship since your first meeting with them. They have a mage working for them now, who I understand is quite powerful. His name is Vayne Stensen. After the fiasco with Chaggo, Johnson hired Vayne to interrogate literally everyone below Vice President level. If you try to schedule a meeting on the pretense that you have fulfilled your contract, he will certainly use magic to determine if you are lying before giving you access to the building.

Our man on the inside hasn’t been interrogated yet, but it’s only a matter of time. We have a list of the standard questions Vayne is asking all of the Synthcorp employees, but we haven’t yet found a way for him to use the literal truth without exposing himself. There are only two questions; ‘Are you now, or do you ever, intend to take actions which would be considered treacherous by the leadership of Synthcorp?’ and ‘Are you currently employed, or seeking employment, by a Synthcorp rival without knowledge of Synthcorp executives?’

We know everything about this Vayne character, where he sleeps, where he parties, where he likes to eat, what kind of women he likes - literally everything. The way I see it, you can either try to answer his questions to his satisfaction without telling a literal lie, or take Vayne out of the picture. If you have a better idea, I’m all ears."

"So we can’t tell a literal lie. Meh. I’m a lousy liar anyway. As far as to how we can answer his questions to his satisfaction, I have no idea. I’m about as subtle as a sledgehammer when it comes to things like that, so if one of you want to try to convince the mage, more power to you.

“Personally, I say we take him out of the picture, but if any of you have a better plan, I’m all ears.”

Seneth to the group:

“Ah, Vayne. It sounds vaguely familiar to me. We must destroy him as our first order of business. Tell us how to reach him and when he is most likely to be alone.”

Arthur shakes his finger, playfully scolding Senth. “Don’t be so hasty! First, you’ll meet Uni Om’s representative in this mission. You didn’t think we would just turn you loose without any oversight, did you?”

Less than five minutes later, the limousine comes to a stop outside a dingy, worn-down motel. Junkies in various states of consciousness are scattered all about, some with needles still in hand. One man is partially obscured behind a bush, wearing virtual reality sim-sense goggles and masturbating noisily.

Chaggo turns questioningly to Arthur. “A Universal Omnitech agent lives here?”

Arthur nods. “I don’t understand it, myself. The man could live wherever he wants, and purposely chose to surround himself with the worst, most pathetic examples of metahumanity in the city. Enough chit-chat, though. We’re on a schedule. He’s on the 4th floor, room 50. He’s expecting you, so just walk in. We’ll catch up later.”

A chauffeur exits from the passenger side of the limousine and opens the back door from the outside, clearly indicating that the group is to leave. Seneth, Donny, Chaggo, Goethe, and Nail exit the vehicle, and soon afterward the out-of-place limousine drives away.

“Well, gentlemen,” Chaggo says. “Let’s go meet the help.”

The inside of the building is even more decrepit than the outside. Puddles of vomit and urine are in most of the corners, a few of which have people sleeping in them. When they reach the 4th floor, an elf woman shoves past them into the elevator. Her clothes are torn, and a filthy bandage covers a wound in her abdomen.

“What are you creeps looking at?” she says angrily. Then immediately her demeanor changes, and she pouts her lips. “You like what you see, boys? I don’t normally do parties, but if the price is right…”

The doors close without the elf getting a response. The group moves ahead to room 50. A four-feet tall number “9” is carved crudely into the door.

Chaggo says to the others, “Arthur said to just walk in. Anyone getting second thoughts?”

Nail comments quickly in between Kirk and Seneth’s remarks regarding Vayne: “Don’t see any way around it.”

Now, at the door: “Let’s just get this over with,” Nail grumps and barges in.

The door opens into near total darkness. A pair of fat cockroaches scuttle away from the light as it pours into the room, illuminating its contents: A ratty, partially-disintegrated couch and matching pair of armchairs are in a disorganized pile in the center of the room. Along the left wall is a stack of black duffel bags, all zipped-up and ready to go. The only light comes from the kitchen on the far side of the room.

At the rickety plastic table sits a hulking figure perched atop a folding chair, wearing heavy denim jeans and nothing else. His upper body is entirely cybernetic, grey, latex-like synthetic skin stretched taut over a metal torso, skull and left arm. His right arm is housed in a transparent plasteel case, its interior brimming with robotics all illuminated by a soft blue light. The number 450902603 is printed down his left arm.

A pair of mechanical, steel-grey eyes with bright red rings for irises are fixed on the half-assembled grenade in the cyborg's hands. He calmly attends to the explosive, not sparing the group a look as he works. A highly-modified and clearly oversized revolver rests on the table beside a pile of shells, pins and other grenade parts. 

He doesn't care enough to bother activating his implanted ultrasound emmitter or scanner. Instead he keeps his focus on the bomb in his hands. "Can I help you?" His deep voice sounds synthesized.

"Possibly. It seems we work for the same people, at least temporarily. Though, I must admit I wasn’t expecting a vatjob, though, it goes a bit towards explaining the company you keep. Easy to keep people from bugging you when you live in a place they don’t want to visit.

“But anyway, we’re going after Vayne, and Uni Om has said that you are going to be their eyes on that assignment. Hey, the more the merrier when it doesn’t cost me anything. But let’s get one thing straight, we work for you only in the sense that your corp is paying us. As far as the job goes, we work with you, and you work with us. Everybody has an equal voice and all ideas as to how approach a job will be treated with equal consideration. If you can live with that, we’ll all get along just fine.”

Nail is taken aback temporarily by the cyborg’s imposing presence. Undeterred, he raises his hand to scratch his head in a symbol of non-aggression. He walks forward as if to say something, when Goethe boldy speaks out. His posture frozen for a few seconds, Nail steps back a bit, sighs softly, relaxes, and lights a cigarette.

The cyborg caps the grenade with a small iron band topped with a tiny light that begins blinking as it’s pushed into place. Satisfied, its maker sets it down and rises, turning his torso to face his guests, his head following a moment later. The red rings on his eyes shrink as their owner reduces their magnification and lets the five newcomers shift into focus.

“Reminds me what I’m fighting for.”

As Goethe continues the cyborg walks behind the kitchen counter and bends over, returning to view a moment later with a sleeveless shirt, originally white but stained greyish brown. He crouches to pull on a pair of heavy boots before making his way back to the kitchen table and taking the revolver in hand and strapping it to his thigh.

“You don’t work for me in any sense.” He walks to the duffel bags, bending at the waist to lift two by the straps, slinging each over a shoulder. He makes his way towards the group, stopping at the pile of decaying furniture to retrieve a heavy tactical shotgun hidden on its far side. “I’m just the insurance.”

He sizes the party up. “Vayne won’t be a problem. The spellfairy’s a slave to his flesh. Spends most of his time up to his nose in cram and balls-deep in whores in a cesspit called the Dog Track. He’s about to have the worst day of his life.”

Nail likes the sound of an easy mark, the easy part more than the mark part: “Are you saying we can just go in and toast this guy?” he replies, slightly skeptical, slightly enthusiastic.

The tank of a man appraises Nail, each of his cybereyes changing to different levels of magnification. “He’ll have guards. But they’re only human.”

"For the record, I like you. If only all corp guys were as up front and lacking in the bullshit as you are. Name’s Goethe, by the way. I’ll let the others introduce themselves.

“So assume we remove Vayne as an obstacle, where do we go from there? I’d think Synthcorp is going to be missing him pretty quick. I mean, I suppose we could forge communications from him that we’re on the level, but we’d have to know exactly how he sends his results to Synthcorp.”

“There’s always a catch,” Nail grumbles while sitting on a chair he found, his elbows on the back, his hands lighting another cigarette.