In which the runners work for a secret bug spirit and subsequently make a deal with a dragon.
Cassandra Withers (actually a mantis spirit) has located a firefly nest in Redmond masquerading as a "mutual aid organization" (read: a cult) called the Light of the New Dawn. She would like to capture the shaman alive to use as a source of new insect spirits in order to create more mantis', however the Light of the New Dawn's HQ is located in the territory of the dragon Urubia and is on her radar. Not wishing to make an overt move and draw the ire of the dragon, Withers has decided to contract a team of deniable assets for the job.
The runners are each contacted by their fixers and told to meet at an abandoned parking lot in Everett, where they will be picked up by their prospective employer and brought to the actual meeting location; everyone manages to arrive slightly early (though Gigabite has some issues with taking public transportation, given that she's a giant, and shows up obviously intoxicated on Hurlg). While waiting, Delphi's cab driver Clyde shares some Deepweed with her and Fire Cracker, resulting in the two of them being forced to astrally perceive for the next few hours. At the appointed time, a trio of black SUVs pull up (along with a trailer for the giant) and black-suited agents wearing mirrorshades beckon the team inside, having them put on blindfolds as they're driven all the way Downtown and into an underground parking garage before being ushered into an elevator.
After a long, long ascent (Delphi uses her math SPU to count the floors and determines that they must be in the ACHE once it passes the 200 mark), they arrive in the FBI offices at the top and are lead into a conference room where they are made to wait some time before Withers joins them. She masks her true nature well and Fire Cracker does not notice, however Delphi sees through it and spots the bug, managing to keep her composure to avoid freaking out and electing not to tell the others out of fear of becoming bug food. Withers explains what she needs from the team, promising them 10 grand apeace to take out the bug nest and another 10 thousand each if they bring her the bug shaman alive. With assistance from Ace and Firecracker (with Gigabite making a drunken fool of herself and Voiceless wisely living up to her name by staying silent), Delphi is able to squeeze out the promise of an extra 4,000 nuyen each if the job is done "without pissing off Urubia", claiming their forensic divination specialists have predicted bad things should she become involved.
More than slightly suspicious of their J's motives but not in any position to ask further questions on the matter, the team accept the job and are ushered out; Withers takes a moment to have a private chat with Ace, knowing that he is the type to angle for a position with her agency, promising a good performance review with her superiors if the job is done to her specifications.
After being dropped back off at their original pick-up point in Everett, the team are left to their own devices. Delphi proceeds to freak out a bit and tell the others that turning over the bug shaman to their J would be a terrible idea, and that considering Urubia is watching the situation that they should go to speak with her in order to find out what she wants and avoid getting on her bad side. The rest of the team, not being privy to the situation with the mantis spirit, are not amused at the idea of violating one of the cardinal rules by making a deal with a dragon, however Delphi manages to convince them to at least let her go to the Fun House (where the dragon is known to hold periodic parties - a quick matrix search confirms that there is one the following night) and assense the dragon in order to try and see what the FBI's diviners saw and see where their best interests lie.
The next night, the team head to the Fun House in their best duds - Delphi cabs it there separate from the rest of the team, arriving first and answering in the affirmative when asked point-blank by the bouncer if she's a shadowrunner, while the others get in a brief fight with a ganger who unwisely attempts to mug Gigabite for her shoes before arriving shortly thereafter. Ace says in the car to keep an eye on the staggeringly-drunk Gigabite and ensure that she will not cause trouble while the rest of the team make their way upstairs; everyone manages to blend into the crowd of gangers and act normal, though they notice Urubia's followers keeping a watchful eye on them. After a few hours the host announces the entrance of the Crimson Queen, who enters in her dracoform and dances with the crowd, inviting people to climb upon her back - Delphi and Voiceless take her up on this offer, while Fire Cracker attempts to as well but falls and is caught by the dragon's claws, being admonished to be more careful.
Delphi manages to assense the dragon's aura, and hears it's voice in her mind asking what she's doing - not wanting to attempt to lie to a dragon, she admits that she was curious about her aura and, when directly asked, that she is a shadowrunner conducting business in her territory, politely requesting a private chat to discuss the matter further. Urubia agrees, setting a meeting for a few hours hence and making her identify the rest of the team, requesting that they all be present for it. Everyone freaks out a bit at the rapid escalation of things, but manage to keep things together for the moment; leaving to find a no-tell motel, Delphi performs the ritual of augury and sortilage in order to divine the Urubia's intent with the bugs, seeing a vision of her followers taking the cultists and incorporating them into her own organization, as well as the dragon devouring the shaman.
Meeting back up at the Fun House, the team head to the top floor for their meeting with the dragon. Delphi does much of the talking (though Gigabite makes several drunken interjections), explaining the situation while doing her best to avoid revealing the identity of their J. Figuring that they can still fulfill one of Withers terms, she offers to take care of the Light of the New Dawn to Urubia's satisfaction - the dragon tells the team to recover the non-infested members and bring them, as well as the bug shaman, to her while keeping the building intact (as she wishes to add it to her real estate holdings). Agreeing to her terms, the runners count themselves lucky to leave with their lives; hearing Gigabite drunkenly talk about telling her friends that she met a dragon, Delphi lets the giant drink from her flask of lael so that she forgets the encounter.
After leaving the Fun House, the team contemplate their next move and decide to head to the Light of the New Dawn's compound to scope out the place. Ace uses his flyspy to get some aerial recon while Voiceless does so from ground level, while Gigabite hacks a camera to get them some footage inside - the place seems like a typical cult front, promising a place of belonging and "transformation into a new state of existence" to the desperate folks of the barrens. In order to gather some more intel, Fire Cracker poses as a SINless barrens rat looking for meaning, hoping that the prospect of an errant mage seeking purpose in life will prove tempting bait to the shaman. Spending a good deal of time inside, she gets a full tour of the place and is told that the leader is currently "ushering the next crop of souls to their ascension"; managing to leave without incident, Fire Cracker reconvenes with the rest of the team and fills them in on what she learned. Kitting up to assault the place, they contact Urubia so that her people can be on standby to take the non-infested cultists into their custody and prepare for a fight.
Once night has fallen, the team make their move. Ace gets the lock on the front door open for Gigabite to hack, and they make their way inside to pull the fire alarm, with Fire Cracker summoning a spirit to assist the team in combat while waiting outside to direct the cultists towards Urubia's people as they evacuate the building. As the alarm sounds and the cultists are roused from their beds, the team moves forward in formation with Gigabite coordinating their small unit tactics maneuvers and Delphi on overwatch to spot out bugs with assensing and tag them in AR to be taken down by Ace (via ADPS) and Voiceless (via monowhip). The resulting battle is short but chaotic, with the team working to avoid taking down uninfested cultists while dealing with confusion effects from the flesh-form nymph spirits - a hybrid form also joins the frey, clashing with Fire Cracker's spirit before being taken down by the judicious application of extra sharp whip and bullet.
As the cultists flee the fray while the team takes down their bug colleagues, the runners take stock of the situation and determine that the shaman must be in the basement. Forcing their way inside, they are hit with a powerball and clash with the true form firefly spirits which protect their summoner as a swarm spell impedes their efforts to take down the mage, with the runners overwhelmed by illusionary fireflies. After Delphi takes one of Ace's flashpacks and uses Juryrigger to breah the battery cell, a glitch on the resulting check turns it into a flashbang which knocks the mage out, letting Ace and Voiceless finish off the spirits.
Taking the shaman into custody with a mage mask and mage cuffs, the runners meet up with Urubia's people and transport them back to the Fun House - the cult leader is made to sign over her enterprise and real estate holdings to Urubia's front company before being messily devoured by the dragon, and the runners are thanked for their assistance before being dismissed. Cassandra Withers is not happy that the shaman was not turned over to her, however she honors her agreement with the team for taking out the nest and wires them their money.
- 11.66k nuyen from the FBI for eliminating a bug cult
- 11 karma
- 2 CDP
- +4k nuyen for Negotiation with the FBI and not pissing off a Dragon
- +1 Notoriety for working for a Dragon (Urubia)
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
Frank outdid himself this time, I actually got to work for the FBI. But for whatever reason Delphi looked at the Johnson and lost her nerve. The goal was to clear a bug nest and get the shaman for the Johnson. We betrayed her and launched into an elaborate plan to get Urubia's audience and give the shaman to her. That was an awful idea and staring at a dracoform is something the textbooks can't truly get across, and of course the adage of never cut a deal with a dragon, but I couldn't say that I'm hellbent on getting a job with the FBI, so we worked for the dragon. Broke into the cult's center and pulled the fire alarm, and started the bug stomping. There isn't anything quite like resisting mental spells from bugs, and telling them I'm smarter than them, any fight you can walk away from.
Aaaaahhhhhh! What the frag?! A mantis spirit in the FBI? What the actual fuck! How is one even supposed to start dealing with this?!
I couldn't exactly tell the team - that goddamn bug stared me right in the eye, she knew I saw her - but seriously, her getting that shaman would have been bad news for everyone. I'd imagine the rest of them are pretty pissed about how things turned out, and I feel bad for dragging them into a deal with a dragon, but I didn't see another option here that wouldn't result in us all getting killed by one of them; this whole thing was a mess from the start and there were no clean solutions available.
On the plus side, I now know what it's like to ride on a dragon's back... then again I also know what it looks like when a dragon eats someone... frag, I need a drink.
Well, that was a bit more interesting than I expected it to be. I'm kinda surprised that Urubia's goons even let me inside once they found out I have a fair few weapons that I can't actually remove without surgery. Still, she seemed quite reasonable, and as odd as it sounds, I felt less squicky dealing with her than I did about whoever the frag our J worked for. You'll have to ask the others about the specifics of the fighting, though. Between all the drugs, crashes, berserking, and more drugs, things are a bit fuzzy. Everyone got away with all their limbs though, which means it went well as far as I'm concerned.