The Lotus Flower Blooms Far From the Sun
|The Lotus Flower Blooms Far From the Sun|
Yellow Lotus Triad
In which the runners are tasked by the Yellow Lotus Triad with recovering one of their enforcers who has gone missing in Loveland.
Around a week and a half before the start of the job, a group of runners cleared out a nest of infected in southern Tacoma (see: Does This Look Infected?). One of them – a banshee calling himself “Agamemnon” – managed to escape, but not before Charon told him who she was and gave him a bit of advice to “go underground”. He proceeded to do just that, taking over a majong parlor in Loveland which some smugglers from Ft. Lewis moved contraband goods through to use as a hideout; unfortunately those smugglers were having pressure put on them by the Yellow Lotus to pay into their protection racket, and when one of their enforcers arrived to collect Agamemnon flew into a rage (as the Yellow Lotus wiped out half of his previous group before the runners took care of the others) and turned the enforcer into his newest minion.
The runners are sent reservations for a table at the Peaceable Kingdom restaurant in Tacoma. Everyone groans a bit at the AAA-zone security, particularly 00 and Bane (who complain to their fixers about the arrangement when they receive the news), but all manage to avoid drawing undue attention to themselves (even the vampire Charon and the Sleeping Tiger-clad Skimmer) as they make their way inside to their private dining room. The team shares the results of their various pre-meet knowledge rolls with one-another, and Charon is pleased to learn of a “special menu” that’s available by request (including options for the infected), subsequently sipping on a nice glass of AB+ throughout the meeting.
Mr. Johnson arrives and the team (especially those who can assense and see the geas on him) pick him out pretty quickly as a Triad member (Charon, drawing on a previous encounter with them, pegs him as Yellow Lotus). Their J orders his grilled cockatrice breast and goes through the expected formalities before getting into the specifics of the job – he sent someone to look into a majong parlor in Loveland and they’ve gone missing, so he needs the team to find out what happened to them. He says that in addition to either recovering the missing person or their body (he’s had divinations performed to confirm they still live, but the accuracy is somewhat uncertain), he wants an idea of what the situation is with the parlor – Loveland is syndicate territory, and the neighborhood it’s in belongs to the yakuza, but evidently it wasn’t paying them protection money and the triad wanted the operation for themselves as a foothold in the area.
Charon takes point with negotiations and manages out-fox the J, getting a bit of extra information out of him about what they might be going up against and getting them a 2k nuyen bonus payment in advance to encourage their prompt and efficient work. They receive a photo of their target and are told that they have a distinctive case-modded partial left cyberarm; no time limit on the job is given, but the team is told not to drag their feet in figuring out what happened.
Hopping into their generi-cars, the team heads south into the Red Lights District of Puyallup. Bane calls up his fixer, Auntie Amelia, who’s based nearby and knows a lot of gossip – she knows a few people who gamble at the parlor and is able to tell him that apparently it was used for smuggling up until about a week ago, when all flow of goods through it stopped suddenly. She also gives him the name of a woman named Tanya who works there who apparently moonlights as a sex worker at a nearby bordello that can answer further questions. Skimmer tries the same with his fixer, but he hasn’t got his ear as close to the ground, so he points him to News Van Dan for some street rumors.
Arriving at the majong parlor (newly re-christened as the "Sleeping Sun”, judging by the sign), they find it sandwiched between an adult trideo store and a BTL den with a PI’s office on top and some chipheads lazing about out front; the parlor is closed at 3 in the afternoon, but they see someone sitting outside keeping watch pretending to be one of the chipheads. A quick assensing roll reveals that they are incredibly anxious and fearful, and seem to be somewhat sick, with a lower essence than would be expected for the amount of ware present.
The team swing by the Purple Lotus bordello to see if they can speak with Tanya to find out more, however luck isn’t on their side – it seems she won’t be in until later on, but Bane leaves a burner number to be contacted at (the team doesn’t end up pursuing this line of inquiry, however Bane picks up a potential new contact in his neighborhood). The psion prepares for some astral recon but realizes that he doesn’t actually know how to astral project – undeterred, he seeks out a dealer and purchases a dose of shade with his cash advance before loading it up in his hookah.
While Bane prepares to have his consciousness exit his body, Charon takes a stroll back over to the Sleeping Sun and pretends to be a tourist, getting the guard’s attention and chatting him up a bit. She feigns interest in the parlor, claiming to have heard of it by reputation and asking why it’s closed – the guard says it’s “under new management” and operating on dusk-to-dawn hours. She expresses interest and sells the con to make herself seem like an easy mark, holding back a chuckle as she sees the oh-so-familiar predatory gleam in the man’s eyes – paying a chiphead a few nooj to keep an eye out, he leads her inside to “show her around”.
Inside the parlor, the rest of the team scopes out the place through Charon’s image link while she schmoozes with the guard, politely declining drinks and taking note of the weird vibe to the place; even without astral perception she can feel the pervasive aura of fear and dread, noting how familiar it feels to her own apartment, and those with assensing note that the astral space around the parlor is quickly becoming tainted and aspected towards pervasive terror. The man seems a bit nervous as well, constantly glancing at a bookcase behind which the team can discern a hidden door, and finally growing obviously anxious once he receives a message on his commlink. Making excuses, he ushers Charon out and tells her she should come back when the place is open – she manages to exit behind him and leave the door unlocked with a palming roll.
Having gotten an idea of what the inside of the place looks like as well as areas of interest, Bane takes a big pull of shade and feels his soul leave his body. With the adepts watching his flesh prison, he orients himself before ghosting inside the parlor; as he does so, he gets a close look at the guard’s aura and notices the reason he’s sick and has such low essence – he’s addicted to essence drain. Charon starts putting the pieces together and gets an idea of what might be behind the hidden door, which Bane rapidly starts to confirm when he notices the presence of FAB sensors around it which would detect his passage through the surrounding walls.
Rather than risk being noticed, he heads upstairs and discovers a living aura in what seems to be the manager’s office. Taking a closer look, he sees that they are a) duel natured, with a lower essence than might be expected for the level of augmentation, b) ill/injured, and c) sporting a partial left cyberarm. Discerning that this is their target (luckily the new vampire is too distracted by their work to notice the projecting mysad next to them), Bane returns to the vehicle where the others are waiting and manifests to share the news that they seem to be just sitting upstairs waiting to be rescued. The team puzzle over the situation and believe that the target may have become addicted to essence drain as well (cue GM cackling), however some reassurances from their friendly neighborhood vampire that it can be overcome (not that she’s ever let her victims live long enough to find out…) lead the team to prepare to black bag the target.
Charon sidles up to the guard like a creeper to loom over him and cause a distraction while Skimmer and 00 sneak past him through the unlocked door. The guard is too smart for his own good and attempts to call Agamemnon in order to alert him that she has returned, so Charon uses terrorscape to manifest as his worst fear (which just happens to make her resemble the banshee about to suck the last of his soul out) – while he’s paralyzed with fear, she smashes his commlink before ending the illusion and telling him to run, which he does (“he was barely a half-filled juice box anyway – if *someone* hadn’t already essence drained him I’d be totally on that.”)
While Charon approaches the bookcase to speak to the parlor’s new owner through the conspicuous cameras, 00 and Skimmer sneak upstairs, shadowed by Bane on the astral. Both do quite well at sneaking, however the vampire neonate upstairs ties their roll and gets her shotgun ready – seeing that she’s been alerted, Bane prepares to strike with his nodachi weapon focus as 00 activates her superpowers gets in position to boot down the door and put her own shotgun to use. The vampire is quicker on the draw however, seizing the initiative and blasting through the door with an ADPS slug; 00’s spider sense isn’t quite enough to avoid the shot, and she ends up on the ground passed out, miraculously not bleeding out.
Skimmer just shrugs, stepping over the unconscious 00 to take aim through the new hole and unload with ADPS assault rifle fire. The new vampire lacks regeneration, and is put down for the count by this before Bane gets the chance to strike with his ghost sword; the psion just leaves Skimmer to clean up the mess as he goes down to provide astral support to Charon in her confrontation with the boss. Skimmer trauma patches the just-about-to-bleed-out vampire before slap patching 00 and carrying them both down to the valkyrie module.
Downstairs, Charon gets right to the point and addresses Agamemnon by name through the cameras, telling him she’s just come to talk and to open up so that they can speak face-to-face. Passing her negotiation check, the bookshelf slides aside to reveal a short ominous corridor with currently-inactive UV lights leading to an elevator, which she fearlessly steps into with the psionic ghost shadowing behind. The elevator descends into the earth and through a ward, and Bane times things properly so that he passes through at the same time as Charon and is not noticed. Arriving at the bottom, they find a mantrap with an AR monitor that has a particularly pissed-off banshee face on it, and Bane pokes his head through the locked door to see that there is indeed an infected elf on the other side of it; he prepares to take him out if things go south.
Despite being in a tailor-made trap at Agamemnon’s mercy, Charon remains at ease, speaking to the banshee as something resembling an equal and passing along advise from her decades of experience as a member of the infected community. He remains angry about what happened, but is eventually convinced that letting the Triad vampire go without a fight is the best way forward – that he would have an in to form connections with the syndicate and have the resources he needs to survive without some runners breaking down his door the next time he makes a sound. He’s not happy about losing his new minion, but concedes the point that putting up resistance here would be a fighting a losing battle, calling the elevator back and leaving Charon with a small nod of what might be respect (it’s absolutely not, but it *might* be mistaken for such to onlookers). Satisfied with how the encounter turned out, she and Bane leave without a fuss.
With the newly-turned bound and gagged vampire in hand, the team patch up their wounds and call Mr. Johnson to arrange a handoff. He is surprised but not displeased at the promptness with which they handled the matter, but gets angry when they tell him that the enforcer has become infected. After a bit of cursing in Cantonese, Charon manages to smooth things over and convince him that they can still be a useful asset, albeit one with some new dietary restrictions and constrained operating hours, and says that they may be useful for facilitating a working relationship with the parlor’s new owner. He is unhappy about this development, but the team did their jobs well and he has no intention of screwing them over for things outside their control.
Arriving at a dockside warehouse, Bane remains outside his body for the handoff to keep the Triad spirits from getting any ideas. Thankfully everything goes smoothly enough as the team receive their promised payment in exchange for their captive – Charon just can’t resist closing things off with a great one-liner, telling the new vampire “don’t worry – you’ve got a long life ahead of you”, and things fade to black with a classic everybody-laughs sitcom-style ending.
- 12,000 nuyen
- 5 karma
- 2 CDP
- +3 Yellow Lotus Triad rep
Charon: [being an absolute boomer and dropping a meme from 2019] “Get the boneless pizza.”
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
- "Nice run, all things considered. Teamed with a drug trippin' adept dancing the astral path; a vampire adept, calm, cool and collected, using her experience as an infected to soothe the savage beast; and finally a physical adept with a serious 'shoot me' vibe, who knows how to take a hit; this run was destined for success. I mean, as the fourth adept in the quartette, all I did was bag and tag a baby vamp; seems kinda underwhelming compared to what the rest of the team accomplished. But accomplish we did, and the Johnson was, well not 'pleased' by the outcome, but at least satisfied."
"Agamemnon's showing some promise. He didn't go right for the gun, but he's learned to hate. I guess I see some of my past self in him. As far as I'm concerned, his head could roll to my doorstep tonight and I wouldn't really shed a tear, but as long as he's alive he's proof that the way I do things works. As long as he's alive... I haven't made a mistake going on this path. Banshee dens, indoctrinated triad members, mahjong parlors, fucking Tacoma of all places... I barely remember most of it because I was more impressed with the way these other adepts carry themselves. Triad pissing contests and mercenary investigation's dime a dozen. Once you've done it a hundred times, nothing surprises you. These mad lads did, though. Hey, double-oh. You're poggers."
“Well, for a first run with the Haven, it could have been worse. Starts out simple enough. Alessa gives me a call for a meet over in Tacoma. AAA zone though, so I had to rush out to get some decent clothes to not piss off the J with. So, get to the meet, get some food and the job. Triad dude’s gone missing, and some front they wanted’s been muscled in on. Go recover the dude and find some info on the front. Simple enough, and our team’s vampire? I think she was a vampire, was able to get us some better pay.
So, we go looking for the dude. Bit of leg work, but we find the mahjong parlor were after, and Charon, our probably a vampire, works her social charms to get into the building. With the route open, and Bane taking some shade to give us Astral cover, we head in and up the stairs. I thought we were being fairly sneaky all things considered. Get up to the door we gotta breach through, start activating all my boosts to get going, and then I got shot through the door. Slug caught me right in the chest over my jacket. Don’t really recall much after that….”
-00, recording thoughts after the job.