ACHEy Breaky Bones

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ACHEy Breaky Bones
Part of Deus Machina
Date2082-02-20
Location
The ACHE
Status Threat Level: Semi-Prime
Factions Involved
ShadowHaven The 404s
Ca1yps0
Carbon
Lil' Boomer
Skimmer
Sp4rks
The White Eye
404s Gangers
Dissonant Sprites
Deus Drones
Toxic Spirits
The White Eye was captured alive, and several fragments of Deus were destroyed.


Summary

In which the runners venture into the heart of darkness to stop the White Eye from reassembling Deus.

Background

Over the last several years, a former Banded called the White Eye has been residing in the bowels of the ACHE, using her connections inside and outside the arcology with a gang called the 404s to gather together fragments of the AI Deus that were scattered about the matrix following the events of Crash 2.0. A Haven decker, Spider, has been keeping close watch on the situation and managed to acquire one of the fragments on an isolated laptop-sized server from the 404s before it was to be delivered to the White Eye. Now she needs a team of runners to infiltrate the arcology in order to put a stop the White Eye's machinations for good.

The Meet

The team are contacted individually by Spider through the ShadowHaven network and asked to meet at her safehouse in Belleveue, where she explains the situation to them in detail. Everyone is shocked at the revelations and many questions are asked, which Spider does her best to answer, before telling them that she needs them to go into the ACHE and stop the White Eye from recompiling the other fragments that she has acquired. Everyone is hesitant for obvious reasons, but all recognize the obvious threat that this presents and agree to the job - Spider promises to do what she can to acquire proper payment while she works to dismantle the 404s financial network.

The Plan

Spider shows the runners the small server containing a fragment of Deus which has recompiled itself into an AI called The Administrator, telling them that it is the key to the White Eye's plan and that she attempted to question it for as much information as she could get before it realized her intent and became hostile towards her, so she jacked out and has yet to attempt to question it again. The team don't want to go into the situation blind and seek to get as much intel as possible before attempting the potential suicide mission, so they jack into the server under the guise of 404s who stole the box back from Spider and intend to deliver it to the White Eye. Exploring the digital office building they find themselves in, the runners find the Administrator in an office, where Ca1yps0 and Sp4rks lead the questioning effort. The Administrator - a cold, calculating entity of impossible intellect - is discrete and scrutinizing in their responses, but tells the team of the White Eye's plans and the other fragments that she has gathered, and that she and the server they are on can be found on floor 280 of the arcology. Not wanting to push their luck, the team leave before the AI can deduce their deceit.

Knowing they're going to have to get their equipment inside, the team decide against attempting to enter through the mall. Instead, Skimmer, having been underneath the ACHE before (see: ACHEs and Pains), recalls the entrance in the OU that was punched through the foundation of the arcology years ago which was used to smuggle captives out during the Shutdown - using their contacts in the OU, the team ensure safe passage to this entrance for themselves and their equipment, but are told that from there they are on their own.

The Run

Infiltrating the underbelly of the ACHE, the runners are manage to avoid many of the potential hazards to be found there as they navigate through the darkness thanks to Skimmer's directions. While everyone is suitably freaked out by the horrors that may be found in the dark, they are able to find their way to a working elevator which takes them up past the public levels and into the housing block. On the ride up, Sp4rks jacks into the data port to access the old wired host and manages to pull an old out-dated map of the apartment levels in order to help them find their way around (since the elevator takes them up several dozen floors before stopping, necessitating the need to find another route to their destination). When the elevator stops, Carbon and Skimmer scout out the halls stealth-fully and manage to avoid the notice of both the residents and the Metroplex Guard wardens as they locate a route to another bay of elevators which will take them up into 404s territory in the 200 levels.

Once they're upstairs and into 404s territory (Ca1yps0, who is unable to walk, is carried by and jacked into Sp4rks' anthrodrone Kaizen), the team display the box containing the fragment and identify themselves as couriers sent to bring it to the White Eye; pulling off their con thanks to the multitude of plausible-seeming evidence, they are escorted up a floor to a seemingly empty apartment block. Looking around, the team find no sign of the White Eye, so Ca1yps0 and Sp4rks jack into a port to look for her on the matrix - there they manage to locate a colossal white eye avatar which immediately proceeds to hide itself from them, asking who they are and almost immediately figuring out their ruse. Ca1yps0 tries to convince the White Eye of the truth of their intent, but the dissonant proves quite unwilling to listen to logic, deploying half a dozen drones from behind the wall panels which attempt to ambush the team, nearly managing to snatch the box with the Deus fragment before being scrapped by the runners.

Subsequent attempts to persuade the White Eye to listen to reason are met with failure, so the team take the box and secure it to Carbon, threatening to destroy it if force is used to take it again, before making their way to the nearest elevator so that they can fight their way to floor 280. Sp4rks jacks in and manages to seize control of the device, taking it off the wider network so that he can directly control it during the ascent, which brings them up several dozen floors before stopping and forcing them to continue up the (booby-trapped, naturally) stairs - there is a near miss with monowire where LB ends up cut, but Sp4rks manages to perform first aid without getting himself infected and Carbon is able to tank her way through the traps so that the rest of the team doesn't have to eat the pain.

What follows is a frantic life-or-death flight through a series of action/horror movie set-pieces through the un-reclaimed sections of the arcology composed of leftover experiments from the Shutdown which the White Eye has resurrected to oppose the team. After making their way through an abattoir full of cyberzombies in the making (thankfully immobilized on hooks - the team cuts their chords and puts them out of their misery), the runners encounter horrible bio-engineered leach creatures attached to the corridor walls which attempt to stop their passage. Managing to get past them, they continue on until they encounter a cavernous room with a thin walkway over a pit of monowire, and while attempting to cross are startled to hear the sound of bumblebee drones being deployed; quick thinking and judicious application of grenades by LB and Skimmer explode the drone threat, however it also blows up a good deal of the bridge in the process, creating a good deal of difficulty with getting Ca1yps0 across (which is resolved by a combination of Carbon's strength and LB's vines).

Continuing onward and progressing slowly up the levels of the pyramid in classic dungeon crawl style, the team come to a cistern with a tainted background count full of sludge spirits which Carbon, LB and Skimmer proceed to disrupt with extreme prejudice. Climbing the ladder upwards (and pulling Ca1yps0 upwards with vines), they are assaulted by a rail-drone-mounted laser cannon, barely avoiding being disintegrated before dismantling it. While Sp4rks works on equipping Kaizen with the laser cannon, Ca1yps0 jacks into the elevator to try to disconnect it from the network, managing to stay hidden from the White Eye's sight and managing to spot several sprites inhabiting drones. Giving the team a heads up, they prepare for a boss battle at the top, with Sp4rks and Ca1yps0 jacked into the host to engage the sprites and the White Eye in cybercombat.

As the elevator door opens, eight diagnostics-powered "teeth drones" (essentially mobile platforms of shredding blades) await the team and begin attempting to eviscerate them; however they are no match for Carbon's whip-sword, which proceeds to shared through them while LB and Skimmer mop up. On the host, Ca1yps0 and Sp4rks attempt to spot out the White Eye, who remains hidden while slinging resonance spikes at them; working together, they finally manage to locate her and force her off the host. Fighting their way through the last of her defenses and traps, the team force their way into the server room and locate the dissonant, who proves to be a haggered and emaciated woman rather incapable of putting up much of a fight.

Looking to end the threat, the combatants prepare to put her down, but Ca1yps0 appeals for mercy, perhaps seeing a bit too much of herself in her fellow former otaku. The team are a bit split on the matter - Carbon and Sp4rks are sympathetic and attempt to intimidate her into compliance, however LB and Skimmer are less convinced, saying that she is too dangerous to allow to live. Ca1yps0 reveals details about her past, saying that she was once touched by the Dissonance herself and manage to return from that path, asking that the White Eye be given the same chance to redeem herself. LB counters that she has to want to change and doesn't seem to show any desire to do so, advocating for killing her for the good of everyone else, especially since transporting her out alive would make things even more difficult for themselves. She is persistent however, promising to take responsibility for the White Eye and managing to sway the team to her side, so LB cedes the point, leaving grenades to blow up the server before starting to ahead to find out their exit route.

Aftermath

After orcing the White Eye to turn off her pain editor and rendering her unconscious (after she fails in her attempt to touch and infect Carbon's cyberlimbs with the Bad Code), the team wrap her up in tin foil and fresnal fabric before planting a series of explosives around the room to destroy the physical infrastructure supporting it and thus the fragments of Deus contained on them. Sp4rks is briefly tempted to enter the host himself, but decides that discretion is the better part of valor and allows the explosives to do the work instead of relying on cybercombat to fight the AI shards (for now - see Sp4rks's Maiden Fight for the fate of the fragment on the box in the runner's possession). Detonating the grenades, they shred the servers and make their escape, venturing through the abandoned sections back the way that they came and meeting up with LB on the way, working together to pass the various obstacles between them and the exit.

Returning to Spider (who has been systematically dismantling the 404s matrix network and emptying their bank accounts), the team tell her the news of their success, and that the White Eye still lives. She is incised at this, but glad to hear that her plans have been stopped and the Deus fragments destroyed, and so pays them from what she was able to loot from the 404s.

Rewards

  • 56,000 nuyen (or 108k worth of stolen gear from the 404s)
  • 27 karma
  • 2 CDP

(Rewards increased by 33% due to run length)

  • For LB: May buy off Wanted for 10 RVP
  • For Ca1yps0: Receive Bad Rep and Dependent (Demanding) for revealing her past as a dissonant and taking custody of the White Eye

Game Quotes

Player After Action Reports (AARs)

Ca1yps0

Holy shit... just, wow. The fragging SCRIE. Or the ACHE, as it's now called. They can change the name, but they can't change what happened there. I still remember hearing stories of the Shutdown as a kid, but seeing it all with my own eyes... I still can't quite believe that we all survived. I had to be quite literally carried by the rest of the team most of the way, and everyone came close to biting it more than once, but somehow we got in and out without losing anyone, which is a small miracle in and of itself really.

Major shout out to everyone involved here - Spider pulled off a lot of good work putting all this together, Carbon might be the toughest person I've ever met with everything she stood up to, Skimmer was stoic throughout all the horror and saw what I was trying to say in the end, Sp4rks was good to have at my back on the 'trix and handled the old wired systems like a pro, and LB was a huge asset with his magic and had the courage of his convictions at the end - I don't see eye to eye with the guy, but I have a lot of respect in my heart for him.

The White Eye though... I have no idea what to do about her now. I just couldn't bear to see her be killed, even after everything she did. Trying to resurrect... well, Him... it's absolute madness of course, but then I suppose that's the point. I don't know if she can come back from the Dissonance, but I feel like I have to do everything I can to try to help her. It's going to take a long time - years, probably decades honestly - but I need to believe it's possible. If there's redemption for her, then maybe there is for myself as well.

Skimmer

"Horror drone after horror drone, zombies dangling on hooks, toxic sludge spirits, and the White Eye to boot... This one was straight out to the horror trids. The team was up to the task though destroying or surpassing each obstacle that came across our path; it's like the enemy never really had a chance. My personal favorite, working with Carbon and LB to blow up the wasp nest on celing; got quite a bit of personal satisfaction out of that one. Those two are champs. And with Sp4rks and C41yps0 on the case, the matrix was never an issue. Those two definitely own the electronic waves. Still a bit worried about letting the White Eye live; I am pretty damn sure this one is going to come back and bite us all in the ass. But the mermaid was very convincing and had a lot of personal issues to support the decision. I hope her version of the future works out; I really do."

Lil' Boomer (LB)

GUESS WHAT YOU FRAGGERS? LB IS HERE and I am surprised as you are. Nearly biffed it a couple of times. I stepped on a monowire which is bullshit because I can't see too good in the meat. So I had to get new eyes. More on that.

So, like, half the time it was PEW PEW grenade city, and half the time enemies were standin' right by our team. I just gave up and started shootin' grenades right to Carbon. She's built like a brick shithouse, so it seems fine. Everyone seemed pretty torn up about the place, but it was just as grey blobby as other places, so not a big fraggin' deal. We finally make our way to this crazy lady who wants to recrash the world, and we decide to--and this is confusing to me--not geek her.

Like, anyone watch their Saturday morning cartoons? This lady's gonna show up next week to do something new, and we're gonna have to do this whole thing again. On one hand, no skin off my nose if they pay me again. On the other hand, I have people who want to kill me for walkin' down the street, and here's this lady who actually wants to end the world and the fraggin' mermaid is singin' showtunes about how they're the same. Seems like bullshit. If you try to destroy the world, you eat a grenade...like, I don't mind geeking anyone if I get paid good enough. People can pretty much eat an entire bowl of rocks...but I just kinda figured we'd come to an agreement on those fraggers who WANT TO KILL EVERYONE.

I mean, I'm one of those crazy people inside that circle of everyone, so I'd like to speak to your manager.

Whatever. I tried to tell the fish that she's not the same as this lady, but--like--maybe she is. She'd rather risk the world exploding to prove that she's right and in the end...well, that's kinda the same.

Oh yeah. So anyway like I mentioned before...I got cybereyes, and now I'm watching the footage. That would have been WAY SCARIER in technicolor.