Full Fathom Five

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Full Fathom Five
Part of Two Steps Ahead
Date2082-08-31
GMSarcarian
LocationProteus Arkoblock, (off the coast of) Vancouver Island
Status Threat Level: Semi-Prime
Factions Involved
ShadowHaven
Saeder-Krupp
Proteus AG
Bland
Cricket
Master Morty
Pulse
Vip3r
Zenith
Arkoblock Security Forces
Security Mage
Security Spider
Security Rigger
Casualties and losses
Arkoblock Security Forces x12, Security Mage, Security Spider x3, Security Rigger x6


Summary

In which the runners are hired to perform a high-risk extraction from a Proteus Arkoblock.

Background

For several months now, Amrei Veidt has been planning the willing extraction of one Doktor-Professor Alma Luft-Dietrich (a world-class expert in biotechnology whose research is focused around the creation of next-generation brainware) from the clutches of Proteus AG - the good Doktor-Professor lives in the recently-built Arkoblock off the coast of Vancouver Island, and S-K has spent much time and money setting the stage for the operation, including securing the service of a Great Form water spirit (see: High Tide Rising) to assist with this endeavor. Unfortunately an unexpected occurrence has delayed the execution of the job - Luft-Dietrich's husband Magnus was caught attempting to communicate with S-K and sent to "the Barnacles", the below-sea-level section of the Arkoblock. Now S-K has run out of patience and decided to extract the good Doktor-Professor with or without her spouse.

The Meet

The runners are contacted by their fixers and told they have a job offer from a Frau Brackhaus, and that they are to meet with her on Vancouver Island - they will be provided with transportation. Heading Downtown, they find a boat waiting for them, and one short trip later sees them at an abandoned campground which S-K Prime have taken over to use as their staging area for the operation. Amrei Videt waits for them there, seemingly alone (though Zenith picks up half a dozen potential sniper blinds nearby). She provides them with a dossier of information on their target and explains the nature of the Arkoblock (both the upper class sections and the Barnacles). The runners will be provided with S-K Prime resources and given a six-figure payday as well as delta clinic access if they can extract Alma as well as obtain her research notes (with a bonus if they destroy her research after to keep it from Proteus). After numerous questions and negotiations, as well as securing funds for sub-contractors should they prove needed, they take the gig. Amrei privately DNI's Zenith and tells him that Magnus must be dealt with one way or another - he is to be extracted or killed at his discretion, but either way the man is a loose end.

The Plan

Amrei provides the team with a cabin at the campsite to plan out of, as well as a boat to ferry them back to Seattle to fetch any gear they will require, before leaving them to their business. They start to go to work, looking over the information they've been given and hitting the Matrix to corroborate details as needed, putting together a picture of what they're up against (i.e. a heavily-guarded extra-territorial doom fortress from which there is seemingly no escape); they are rather overwhelmed, and spend a good deal of time debating their options for infiltration. S-K can get them SINs, but the Arkoblock has scanners everywhere and they're quite sure they'll eventually be caught if they attempt any sort of extended social infiltration. The alternatives however - stealth or violence - seem rather out of the question as well, given the heavy security presence. After looking at things from every angle, as well as considering whether they can risk attempting to extract the Doktor-Professor as well as her husband, they settle on infiltrating via submarine into the Barnacles, attempting to secure Magnus, then finding a way to get topside and get to Alma as well.

There are several problems with their plan however - chief among them are the Proteus Krake drones, a small fleet of which guards the waters around the Arkoblock. Bland has skillwires and can attempt to pilot the craft, he's no rigger and does not think he can navigate the drone web without getting caught and subsequently torpedoed. As well, the Barnacle and the Topside of the Arkoblock are sealed off from eachother, with no known way to get between the two save for external watercraft. Cricket proposes solutions to both of these problems - the first is to attempt to make contact with any potential dissonant elements among the workforce, proposing to network through Rise Up for some Neo-As who may be among the Barnacles. The second is to sub-contract some Matrix specialists to perform a Foundation dive and insert the needed codes for their submarine into the Slave Control Node so that the drone relay stations tell the Krakes that they're authorized to dock at the Arkoblock. Bland and Zenith acquiesce, and the two begin to play cards while the nerds takes care of the legwork.

The Foundation Dive

Seeing that they're up against a rating 10 host, Cricket calls up Master Morty, Pulse, and Vip3r for assistance with the Foundation. Amrei, having done some digging in the host to gather information for the team, has an anchor in the Foundation and can hop them inside, as well as provide a bit of intel about the paradigm, but beyond that they are on their own. The other three hackers accept the offer of 20 grand each for their help, and the quartet secure their meat bodies before meeting up on the 'trix for some cybercrime. Reading over the information they have to familiarize themselves with the paradigm, they take their drugs and dive into a lesser Foundation in order to avoid having to contend with the Arkoblock's formidable host and potentially alerting their security.

After hopping anchors, the team find themselves in an underwater city, whereupon they locate a ticket booth for a train station (the Portal Node) and follow one of the denizens through the glass tunnels (the Scaffolding Node), glimpsing strange sights outside, including hulking menacing figures and an enormous whale-like creature overhead, as well as a trench into the lightless depths below. They arrive at a lavish party, and each of them puts on a masquerade mask to better fit in, navigating their way around until they locate the Master Control Node, and manage to create a map of the Foundation for themselves. Blending in as best they can, they make their way away from the party and through the half-flooded sections of the city to another series of tunnels, eventually encountering one of the hulking figures and engaging in a brutal fight with it in the Security Node; during the commotion Pulse manages to place a modified version of some old NeoNET IC protocols into the Proteus host as a prank (this will become important later on).

Upon reaching the Slave Control Node, another pair of the hulking figures confront the hackers, forcing them to employ desperate and potentially deadly measures to deal with them in cybercombat while adhering to the paradigm - Cricket manages to place the needed security codes into the drone relay network, however at the same time the integrity of the undersea chamber they're in is breached, flooding the node and forcing them to hastily don appropriate gear to survive exposure to the depths. They quickly make their way across the seafloor, with Cricket calling upon a powerful sprite who she dubs 'V01D' for aid to engage in combat with the enormous whale creature and cover their retreat back to the Portal Node. Making it by the skin of their teeth, they manage to exit safely.

The Run

While Cricket rests up from the Foundation dive, Bland and Zentih put the rest of the pieces into place, securing a submarine (the "Krime Sub" from Saint Nick) and familiarizing themselves with its operation. Getting all their gear together, including Proteus SINs and jumpsuits appropriate for employees in the Barnacles (with secondary identities for Bland and Zenith to go Topside while Cricket provides Matrix support from down below), as well as the name of a Neo-A contact within the Barnacles (one "Bozeman", a shift supervisor who has promised to get them Topside if they help the cause), the team set out in their sub towards the Arkoblock. With Bland piloting the barely-seaworthy sub, the team just manage to make it into international waters and approach the ET boundary. Holding their breath and hoping that the Matrix wizardry did its job, they pass through the perimeter of the drone net and soon see the Krakes approaching on the radar - the drones scan the side of the sub where the team have painted its registry number, and allow it to pass through without incident.

Docking with the side of the arkoblock, they are brought into a landing bay and met by Bozeman, who brings them inside and gets them settled. He tells them of a passage that the workers have made through the drone maintenance workshop into the access shafts between the Barnacle and the Topside - it's a small tight squeeze, but just enough for them to get through, and he promises to show them where it is as soon as they are able to insert a bit of code into one of the machines controlling a massive drilling rig on one of the lower levels, which will allow the workers to shut it down when the time comes to stage a work stoppage and demand better conditions. Cricket is openly sympathetic to their plight and vows to help, while Zenith (backed by a premonition from Oracle) is more cynical and predicts a bad end to all this business. While Bland escorts Cricket (disguised as maintenance workers) down to the ore processing facility where the drone controls are located, Zenith (in the guise of an undercover Proteus security officer) goes to the nanoforge factory where Magnus has been reassigned to in order to make contact.

In the ore processing center, Bland and Cricket are exposed to some of the worst of the working conditions that the wageslaves are subjected to, and manage to fly under the radar enough to make it to the control center where the drill technicians are working. Bland tells them that Cricket is here to check on one of the sensor arrays which has been giving them trouble, and she is able to get access to one of the terminals in order to hack it and insert the code from Bozeman. With the trigger to shut down one of the major pieces of machinery in place, the two make their way back upstairs. Meanwhile, Zenith runs into a bit of an issue with a SIN scanner which detects irregularities, but he is able to bluff a security officer named Feldman into believing that he's undercover and here to investigate some disgruntled workers; Feldman lets him go, but says he'll be keeping a close eye out. Heading to the nanoforges and going through CFD decontamination protocols, Zenith makes contact with Magnus and pulls him aside for a private chat. He admits to being sent by S-K, making Magnus immediately suspicious, as he blames them for his current predicament; he asks why he shouldn't sell Zenith out to the security for a chance to see his wife again, and Zenith manages to convince him that co-operating with the extraction so that they can both get out of the Arkoblock is the best chance he has of that (because otherwise he'll shoot him before he gets a chance to raise any alarm). The bluff/intimidation works, and Magnus agrees to go along, making his way to the submarine bay where the Krime Sub is docked at the appointed time.

Reconvening with Bozeman, the team report their success and the foreman leads them to the drone repair workshop, where the wageslaves remove a panel from the wall to reveal the hidden tunnel into the bowels of the Arkoblock that will lead them Topside. It's a grueling climb through the hot, dark, cramped passages full of pipes and steam, and the three barely manage to climb upwards through six levels of bulkheads towards the surface, but eventually they emerge in a maintenance shaft above a custodian's closet on the third floor above sea level. Cricket finds a jackpoint and hops into the host to provide Matrix support and coverage for the team's PAN while Bland and Zenith change out of their jumpsuits and into proper suits, cleaning themselves up and switching to their Topsider SINs. Exiting the closet, they make their way to the nearest elevator, carefully mapping out their route to floor 47 where Alma's lab is located and doing their best to look like they belong while Cricket stays as silent as she can on the Matrix.

The elevator up to floor 47 is a long, tense ride, but thanks to ample luck and proper disguises the duo remain undetected by security as they pass through the various checkpoints en-route. Making it to the bioware labs, they gain entry under the guise of being sent by the higher-ups to speak to the Doktor-Professor about her ongoing project, heading into the private lab where Alma is working on some research specimens. Once they're sure no one is listening in, they explain who they are and that she needs to come along - she is a bit hesitant after everything, but once they tell her her husband is waiting down at their sub she readily cooperates. Wanting to bring as much research as she can, she gathers samples into a specimen cart which Bland and Zenith conceal her inside before destroying what remains. Bringing the cart out, they sabotage the door lock and claim that the Doktor-Professor has requested to be left alone while she considers the next stage of the project, in order to buy as much time as possible while they make their escape.

Meanwhile, on the Matrix, Cricket silently makes her way into the lab's files in order to extract and delete them, hiding as best she can from the swarms of Black IC as well as the many security spiders and riggers which populate the host. Unfortunately one of them spots her, so she brings out the big guns, compiling V01D the F12 fault sprite to go to town on them while she secures the files before nuking the research data from orbit. V01D proves scary effective, deflecting the spiders data spikes and utterly annihilating all of the security riggers, putting the drone security on auto-pilot while backup is scrambled to deal with the rampaging sprite. Cricket meanwhile battles with the Black IC, and is about to be biofeedback'd into oblivion by the endless waves of them when Pulse's hack from the Foundation dive takes effect, replacing some of the respawning IC with the reprogrammed NeoNET code, which ignores Cricket and focuses on the Proteus IC. As V01D rips through the remaining defenses, Cricket looks on at all this with some hesitance, but does what she can to cover V01D and hide herself as the Proteus demiGODs begin to arrive to deal with the problem.

In meatspace, Bland and Zenith, with Alma in tow, quickly make their way back to floor 3 as quickly as possible, taking an indirect elevator route to avoid detection while Cricket does what she can to cover them on the cameras and sensor arrays they pass. However with the chaos in the host and the confusion in the lab, the security forces eventually begin to respond and converge on their position, forcing them to abandon stealth in favor of speed as they dash towards the closet where Cricket waits. After a nasty encounter with dart rifle equipped drones, a squad of security personal, and a rather angry psionic mage, Bland and Zenith are nearly down for the count, but they manage to fight their way through and make it to the tunnel with security hot on their tails; Cricket, having long since jacked out of the host to leave V01D to its work, joins them and Alma in their scramble through the tunnels as security burst into the closet and finds the trapdoor up to the passage where they had hidden. Descending as quickly as they can, they spot a hidden compartment just as the security officers fire tear gas into the passage to flush them out; inside are gas masks, with a note from Bozeman reading 'for the cause'. Cricket utters a silent thanks as they all slip on the masks, keeping the pepper punch from knocking them out and continuing their descent back down into the Barnacle.

With Proteus security responding to the chaos upstairs and on the host, the team are able to slip back into their Barnacles disguises and escort Alma down to the submarine bay. However when they arrive they find Feldman with a pair of goons holding Magnus at gunpoint, having followed him earlier as he left the nanoforge. Exhausted and ill-equipped to deal with the armored and assault rifle wielding goons, Zenith tackles Feldman into the water holding their sub while Bland gets Magnus to cover and engages in a shootout. Cricket, desperate, recompiled V01D and lets it loose against the devices in the room, knocking the lights out and releasing pressure from various valves, enough that it risks damaging structural integrity of the submarine bay. Zenith meanwhile manages to disarm Feldman and engage in a fist fight, however the security officer's metal bones proves stronger than his adept bulldrek and he ends up nearly drowning - as Feldman emerges from the water, Bland puts a gun to his head and tells him to call off his goons, just as the submarine bay begins to flood from all the damage wrought by the rampaging fault sprite.

Feldman tells the goons to stand down, and Magnus dives into the water to fish out Zenith and administer first aid. Bland tells Feldman that he can either stay here and explain everything to Proteus, or he can come with them and take his chances with S-K; he chooses the latter, and Zenith and Bland deal with the mooks before ushering everyone onto the sub. The team manage to escape the flooding bay just by the skin of their teeth, thanks to timely aid from Wusan, who guides them to safety and keeps the Krakes from destroying the badly damaged sub. All of them breathe a sigh of relief as they return to Vancouver Island.

Aftermath

Back at the campsite, Amrei waits as the submarine reaches the surface and the runners, along with the three former Proteus employees, approach. She looks over Alma and Magnus, nodding in approval, before questioning the presence of Feldman. Bland is able to convince her that the man could be a useful S-K employee, and his in-depth knowledge of Proteus security protocols convinces the S-K Prime agent that he's at least worth debriefing. Before the three away via helicopter, she takes the research data and a full report on the operation from the runners, providing them with their promised payment for a job well done.

Rewards

(2.5x reward multiplier for time)

  • 100,000 nuyen (50 RVP)
  • 30 karma (30 RVP)
  • 20 CDP (9 RVP)
  • 1 SC (1 RVP)
  • +10 S-K reputation
  • +3 Black Star reputation
  • Optional Contact: Amrei Veidt (C6/L3 S-K Prime Operative) for 8 RVP or 16 CDP
  • Optional Contact: Lylah Wilder (C3/L3 Neo-Anarchist Activist) for 5 RVP or 10 CDP
  • Optional Contact: Wusan (C5/L2 Great Form Water Spirit) for 6 RVP or 12 CDP
  • Optional Gear Reward: Any S-K branded equipment, up to 24 availability
  • Optional Gear Reward: Augmentations (including delta grade - 15 RVP tax for the Awakened/Emerged, and must take RoF: S-K if you take deltaware), up to 24 availability

For Bland:

  • Optional Quality: Social Chameleon @ chargen price (7 RVP)

For Cricket:

  • Optional Quality: Candle in the Darkness @ chargen price (5 RVP)
  • Optional Quality: Fade to Black @ chargen price (7 RVP)
  • Optional Quality: Ninja Vanish @ chargen price (5 RVP)
  • May take Taint of Dissonance as a story beat (I'm sure it's fine)
  • The deed to the Iceberg Hotel

For Zenith:

  • Optional Quality: Juryrigger @ chargen price (10 RVP)
  • Chip on Amrei Veidt for a debt repaid, may raise her loyalty to 6 with RVP or CDP

For the Foundation sub-run (Master Morty, Pulse, and Vip3r):

  • 20,000 nuyen
  • 5 karma
  • 2 CDP
  • +2 S-K reputation

Player After Action Reports (AARs)

Master Morty

"Interesting little Foundation dive, full of horror and mystery. Nice to see that I am not alone on the Matrix spectrum, after witnessing the skills of Pulse and Cricket. Those two can bang with the best of us. Dropped an Anchor on the Foundation, just to be able to do further research as necessary. Glad to work with a couple of professionals for once. There may be a place for them within my world once I ascend..."

Bland

"And then he puts his pistol away, and starts boxing... I am still astounded at the actions of my teammate Zenith, a known virtuoso of the hand gun. Ending up taking a swim in the drink while me and Cricket are left to deal with the remaining goons. Not ideal. I learned a valuable lesson however; never bring a single-shot cannon to an extended gun fight with multiple opponents. The reload is a killer. managed to catch the supervisor with his pants down however, and get us all on the sub safely. I guess the biggest lesson here is never be surprised by the actions of your teammates. Just roll with it, and hope for the best."