La Belle Province
|La Belle Province|
|ShadowHaven||The People of the West End|
Heart of the City|
In which the runners are hired to help assassinate a free spirit, and end up convincing it to take on a new form.
The team (minus Shamrock, who is based in Montreal) are contacted by Julio, a former Seattlite and current diner owner/fixer in Montreal, who tells them that someone called Bellerophon asked him to set up a job for him and is willing to pay their way for the trip; meanwhile, Shamrock finishes up with her day job and stops by Julio's diner, where Ramona tells her that she should stick around to see if she can pick up a juicy payday. They all accept, and the Seattle-based runners are directed to an abandoned subway tunnel in the OU where they meet with Corf, who takes them to Montreal via lay-line travel (his karma fee having been paid already).
A few hours later and one pie later, the rest of the team have arrived and are prepared to hear Bellerophon out. He tells them of the Harmful Paranormals Act, which places bounties on the heads of paracritters and allows him to make a brisk living at his chosen trade, and says that he has a juicy target which he requires assistance taking down. Curious, the team ask a few questions and recieve an offer of 12k each for their assistance; Relay does a bit of matrix searching and determines that the only bounties under the Act high enough to make it worth the trouble for Bellerophon to pay them that much are either spirits or extremely dangerous creatures. After some pressing, he confirms that the target is a free spirit, though the team does not push for more money and agree to accept the job (with the option to stay in contact for more work in the future).
Bellerophon takes the team to his airship, the Pegasus, and after a bit of levitation magic to get Relay on board he shows them around before taking them to his tracking station, where he shows them the details he has on their target. The free spirit is a Heart of the City (specifically the West End) calling itself "Champlain" which has claimed a section of the West End as its domain and united several formally-feuding gangs under its banner. Shamrock nearly walks from the job when she learns that she (a dryad) would have to disrupt a manifestation of her new home, but relents when she learns that Champlain has been rallying the gangers under the message of "all the Francophones should get together to kick the Anglos out of town and Make Quebec Great Again", and everyone becomes a lot more comfortable committing murder against a bigoted target.
Hitting the trix, the team learns that Champlain primarily works through intermediaries, especially a ganger named Samuel LaCroix; they aren't able to find a whole lot on him (he's an Awakened criminal SINner, but his listed address appears to be a vacant lot), but they do learn from social media that he's supposed to speak at an impromptu rally that very night in a West End park. Bellerophon tells them that LaCroix is the one most likely to have a spirit marker for Champlain, with which they could draw out the spirit and disrupt it. Doing a bit of preparation, Sp4rks familiarizes himself with Champlain and LeCroix's politics and philosophies in order to attempt to speak at the rally as he wishes to return to his roots as an activist (a bold if dangerous plan), and the rest of the team plot out how to track LaCroix away from the rally to hit him elsewhere (i.e. when he's not surrounded by gangers and SINless rabble).
The midnight rally takes place in a public park in the Montreal equivalent of the barrens, with no police presence for miles. Sp4rks and Shamrock (who speak French and are reasonably social) attend physically, along with a spirit of air Tahki summons and convinces to perform a remote service for her in exchange for homemade cookies and a pair of fly-spies from Relay. Both of them manage to integrate into the crowd rather well (though Shamrock draws more than a bit of attention thanks to her glamor and accent), though they are naturally nervous around so many armed criminals (the rally has over a hundred attendees) who might turn against them at any moment.
LaCroix arrives, flanked by 4 bodyguards, and makes his way towards the makeshift stage to give a speech. Shamrock charms her way towards him and manages to angle a handshake, through which she employs her adept accident power while Relay attempts to pilot a flyspy into his pocket. Unfortunately the drones are slightly larger than actual flies, and despite his rigger bonuses one of the keen-eyed bodyguards manages to spot the attempt, swiftly snatching the drone and crushing it (dumpshocking Relay in the process and earning his enmity);Shamrock manages to pass this off and make the bodyguard think the drone came from someone else, though they remain suspicious of her.
Sp4rks makes his way to the front of the crowd as LaCroix begins his speech, managing to convince one of the bodyguards not to immediately beat him up as he approaches and making good enough points that LaCroix takes notice and invites him up for an impromptu debate, hoping to trounce him in a verbal sparring match to help sell his arguments. What follows is an impassioned debate on the nature of the Quebec state, its history and culture, and the roll of corporations and outside ethnic groups in its society - Sp4rks manages to get the crowd on his side thanks to his passionate, AR assisted oratory, impressing LaCroix and convincing him that he's no mere corporate patsy or police plant, before really bringing it home with a pre-edged test that scores a dozen hits to turn the crowd's anger and hostility away from anglophones and towards the real source of their problems - corporate control and repression of the masses.
The team can sense the mood of the crowd turning, and even LaCroix notices the shift as dozens of commlinks record the speech; it occurs to them that this might represent an opportunity to create real lasting change for the community, that if the people's anger can be turned away from ethnic divisions and towards their common enemy then the nature of Champlain itself might be changed by the new zeitgeist, and that the spirit might serve as a force of unity instead of division. Bellerophon is having none of it however, explaining that he doesn't care one way or the other for the politics of the situation, and that he wishes to claim the bounty both for the monetary reward as well as the boost to his reputation in the spirit hunting community. Relay concurs, seeing Champlain as an inherently bigoted and prejudicial being which should be gotten rid of so that the community can heal.
As the speech concludes to thunderous applause, LaCroix shakes Sp4rks' hand and presents him with Champlain's spirit marker - a literal and metaphorical token of the goodwill of the people. The rally concludes and the gangers disperse, with LaCroix and his bodyguards leaving together; Tahki's spirit has assensed him but there is no real need to track him astrally, so she dismisses the spirit and heads to the park in person while Relay stays with Bellerophon on the Pegesus and sends the only rotodrone he was able to bring to Montreal (equipped with a high-caliber sniper rifle, naturally). The team converges in the now-empty park and examine the spirit token; just as they're working out how to use it to summon Champlain, they realize that they're not alone after all, and that a man has been sitting on a bench the whole time observing them.
A quick assensing check confirms that it is a spirit - force 6 on the Dumas scale, but invested with great power nontheless, and generating a palpable background count in its domain. Champlain greats them amicably and says that he enjoyed the speech, complementing some of Sp4rks' points and engaging in a bit of back-and-forth on its motivations. Shamrock and Tahki work together to summon Doug, Shamrock's powerful plant spirit friend, through an ancient tree in order to invest it with a bit of the essence of the Green Man of the park. The wise and venerable spirit comes forth, and after hearing Sp4rks and the rest of the team's words it attempts to convey them in spirit terms to Champlain, telling him that the mood of the people has turned and that it is time for growth and renewal, that he should accept disruption and be reincorporated into a new form, and that with Shamrock's help they can work together to bring him back on the Spring Equinox.
Champlain and Doug tie on their social rolls, so Tahki hears Chaos in her head prompting her to be the catalyst of change in the situation - she speaks up, telling Champlain that stagnation should be avoided and that he should embrace the opportunity for change. Her words ring true, and Champlain nods in acceptance of this fate, looking up to Relay's drone and presenting himself as an open target. Relay, still not trusting the spirit, gladly takes the shot, putting him down for the count and allowing Doug to take the discorporated essence into himself and the tree to begin the process of metamorphosis into a new being.
With video footage of the kill, plus quicksilver photographs of the aftermath for confirmation, Bellerophon is satisfied with the team's performance and pays them their promised fee. Relay meanwhile follows the ganger who crushed his flyspy back to his home and sees that he has a family and is generally a nice person, deciding not to murder the man for the petty inconvenience of a lost drone and grumpily returning to the rest of the group, still not convinced that anything they've done will change things for the better in the long run (though he does concede that it was a pretty good speech nonetheless).
The team re-converge at Julio and Ramona's diner to discuss the experience and their hopes for a brighter future for Champlain - the odds are good that since they managed to get it to peacefully accept the course of action rather than violently forcing their will upon it that the spirit will return soon, renewed and changed for the better by the experience. They hope that LaCroix (who Shamrock intends to keep in contact with in order to guide things into an actual grassroots political movement) will be able to keep things alive until then, and that the seed which Sp4rks planted will grow into something one day.
- 12,000 nuyen
- 10 karma
- 2 CDP
- Optional Contact: Bellerophon, C4/L2 "Slayer of Monsters" for 5 RVP or 10 CDP
- Optional Contact: Julio, C2/L1 Fixer for 2 RVP or 4 CDP
- Optional Contact: Ramona, C2/L1 Chef for 2 RVP or 4 CDP
- Optional Contact: Corf, C1/L1 "Helpful Lil' Minecart" for 1 RVP or 2 CDP
- For Sp4rks: +1 PA and the oppertunity to purchase Master Debater at chargen price (for making one helluva speech)
Shamrock: "No, don't you see, you just shot the bigotry out of him."
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
"Not really sure what happened here, but the end result seems to have brought change to the area. Change is good. The entropy which existed from stagnated ideals is gone, and the people have a new future to look forward to. All in all, I count this as a win. And for the first time in awhile, I felt like I was needed for something, even if it was only a levitate and a heal spell, *winks at Relay*."
Ya know...as we stare at that sea of people willing to listen to Sp4rks for just a moment, I realized three things. Firstly, the kid has a lot more heart than I thought he did--like a lot more heart. I was proud to have helped him out when he first got here, because he's becoming a pillar of--well--I don't know what, but something good. Second, that moment was just a moment. The inspiration of change rode out of the city on a ridiculous tiny minecart, but all the propaganda, the unconscious little biases, and the pain live on with nobody to help reframe the experiences or build a better path forward. These people are still owned by and their lives are dictated by the same corps, the same propaganda, and the same upbringing that got them to here. Lastly, I learned that I can't take the shot.
A stupid ganger found my drone, crushed it and left me for dead--even if he didn't realize it. He nearly killed me as they stood on the podium and cried for an ethnostate just like people did in old America for generations. Sometimes from the shadows and sometimes in the brazen open, they rail against brown people or followers of the old testament or folks who didn't vote the way they wanted. And they do it with a quiet, constant nudge of hate, never hard enough to invoke a full-scale rebuttal. They shroud their words so that their evil never becomes obvious enough that even the moderates will rise up to snuff out their hate. No, they say "we just want peace for ourselves and our brothers" and they frame their bigotry toward others as love for their own.
And we sit there--those of us who want peace and justice--we view them as flawed humans who can be changed despite all evidence to the contrary. We're complacent in their struggles to disarm us because WE value human life and disavow suffering. They use our greatest strengths as tools against us.
And now I can't sleep. Should I have taken that shot? Do I stand up and enact change at the cost of my own self, or do I allow evil to exist and spread to avoid the dark choice of action and instead give myself to hope which is--in the end--an empty vessel of deception?
Oh man, but that pie was great.
Speaking French, oh how i missed it. I expected quite the straightforward run, go help me kill this critter and we were done with it. Obviously, it's never that easy. The target was city spirit, born out of the will of the local people to, unfornately, get rid of their anglophones fellow canadians. We were to disrupt it for Bellerophon, but i can't just disrupt the literal representation of the will of the people, it's not right, as bad as his views are.
I left the team to do the backup plan, but i wanted to actually convince the community that the Anglophones were not the cause of the fall in power that hit Québec hard, but something much less easy to actually see and hurt : the Corporate Court and their economic blackbagging of world governments, in this case the Québecois one. I could relate heavily to their struggle, as they are very close to the same place as France was three years before the Neo Revolution.
To do so i bet on debating a speaker at a rally that was happening the very same day, it was risky but it was the only way... And i felt like it was my duty, as i fleed France, to at least try and show them another way is possible. We infiltrated the rally and Shamrock put into action the backup plan, while i made my way to the scene. Once the speaker made a point i judged weak, i spoke up, with a solid counter argument which prompted him to invite me on stage.
We debated, well really we discussed, as i agreed with most of his points, but the execution was just bad, their target was only the symptom of their plight, not the cause. I felt the crowd become progressively neutral to me, and them them a small appreciation blossomed of my arguments, this was the moment to reveal i was part of the neo revolution and fought against our real ennemy, showing our history and how similar it was to the one of Québec. At this moment my forgotten passion surged, i felt like i was back then, liberating the shady details of the Carrefour Human Resources Usage Optimization Program, and fighting alongside Is0bel and my cell against the ever worse encroachement of the CC on our people. And it must have had an effect, because i got the public cheering at my display, so much so that the original speaker conceeded, a rare thing that truly makes me respect him. He gave me the shard of the spirit, and i was at an impasse.
I could still not destroy this, yet it was our objective. Thankfully Shamrock and Tahki were able to find another solution, we would reform the spirit into a better fit to cultivate the opinion we tried to communicate to the public.
This was a run like no other, i think i found my way back. Even relay, tho unconvinced that we changed things durably, complimented me on the speech and the sentiment, which i admit made me feel that special pride you get only as a kid when you're complimented. I really hope we can do something, but in the meantime i have to say, they make killer poutine.