A week has passed since the team’s first job and the Stuffer Shack shootout on the way home. Their fixer, Byron the immaculately-dressed dwarf, has been contacted by a new Johnson who wants to meet the team in a secure Matrix node. Present and accounted for are Cole the PI, Bashurr the ork biker, Blixt the mage, and Wintermute the rigger.
The Johnson presents himself as a nervous, stuttering middle manager. He tells the team a rival for promotion has hired a gang in the Barrens to kidnap Mr. Johnson’s paramour and intends to use her to blackmail him into giving up the job. He had put an RFID chip in the girl and has her location but it’s deep in Halloweeners territory. He stammers that he can pay the runners 35 large for the task.
Cole listens carefully to the Johnson’s voice and decides he is lying. He confronts him and demands the truth, or at least more money, and totally blitzes the man with his aggressive negotiation.
Mr. Johnson goes quiet for a second. When he comes back, his voice is subtly different and much more confident. “Yes. You’re right. I’m not some…manager…and they aren’t blackmailing me, but you need to get this girl back unharmed. And that is all I’m willing to say on the matter.”
They talk him up to Y50,000, with twenty upfront, and take the job.
The team decide not to let the soygrass grow under their feet and move out tonight, under cover of darkness. Bashurr shakes the tree with one of his old gang contacts and finds out that some Night Hunters, a racist human gang associated with the Humanis Policlub, have been seen in the Halloweeners’ turf recently. Blixt the mage casts an illusion on Cole’s Ford Americar, making it look like a Halloweener hoopty complete with a flaming hologram pumpkin on the hood, and the team passes through ’weener turf unmolested.
Wintermute flies his spy drone ahead, scouting out the target area. The RFID signal is coming from the basement of a ruined Catholic church. The roof has been partly caved in and the bulk of the structure is exposed to the elements, but the door to the cellar has been heavily reinforced. The drone’s thermographic vision picks up no life signs on the ground in a 200 meter radius around the church save for two adorable dogs curled up on the exposed floor of the sanctuary.
“Hm,” Blixt says, and scans the place astrally. The adorable dogs look somewhat more…robust…under Astral vision. Cole and Wintermute start sneaking forward to try and gain the element of surprise, but Blixt stops them. “I’ve got a better idea.”
A dripping, juicy steak floats through the air in front of the hellhounds and out the open side of the church, off into the distance, and the dogs happily lope off after it.
The team takes a moment to investigate the ruined interior of the church. The indoor stairs have been sealed with explosives, recently by the look of it. There’s an old handicapped elevator on one side of the sanctuary, and Bashurr the ork steps forward and pries the door open, getting a faceful of diesel fumes in the process. The Night Hunters have put a generator down there, using the open elevator shaft to vent the fumes. Concealed by its noise, the runners drop down to the church basement.
With surprising deftness, Bashurr sneaks up behind a patrolling Night Hunter guard and axes him a question – the answer is “two halves,” by the way. The team hears voices ahead and Cole uses his cyberears to filter out the sound of the generator. He can hear three other guards patrolling; two are talking about “the client” and how he’s a real ball buster, but they’re looking forward to getting a piece of “the target.” Cole then filters them out and hears the voice of an older man and a young woman – almost certainly the hostage. The man is demanding to know where “he” is and telling the woman that she is deluded.
The eavesdropping is interrupted by a guard rounding the corner. Wintermute, his Doberman drone, and Cole all take shots at the guy but he ducks back around the corner as linoleum and old cinderblocks shatter from the impact of bullets. It’s on now! Bashurr races forward and once again one-shots the guard. Around the corner is a big multipurpose room filled with card tables that the guards had obviously recently been occupying. At the other end of the room, a guard draws his katana and pistol and charges Bashurr – but Blixt flash-freezes the first guard’s pool of gore, causing the second ganger to slip and slide in Scooby-Doo fashion.
The ganger and Bashurr trade swipes with their katana and axe, respectively. Cole’s big revolver wounds the ganger and Bashurr finishes him off. The third guard, having come around from behind, sprays the party with a submachine gun with more enthusiasm than precision.
From a kitchen door at the back of the multipurpose room, an aged Salish shaman bursts out, waving an eagle fetish and screaming at the runners “You idiots! Do you even know who you’re working for?” Seeing the wrecked bodies of his guards, he fires a powerful manabolt straight into Bashurr’s chest, wounding the ork for the very first time – although having gone a bit wild, the shaman soaks up drain damage in the process, spurting a nosebleed.
The ganger behind the team gets a few solid hits on Wintermute, but his victory is short lived as literally the next thing that happens is the Doberman drone’s AK-97 riddles him.
Just as Bashurr is about to hack the shaman apart, Cole races forward, thinking fast. “Drop the totem, big chief!”
He does, carefully placing both hands on his head. “Do you fools know you’ve been working for a vampire?”
“Well you have racists working for you, so…” says Blixt.
The party goes back into the kitchen and frees the girl, Connie Oh, a gutterpunk girl from Glow City. The shaman, Logan Twelve Trees, says he’s been hunting this particular vampire for decades and this girl is its new thrall. He paid the Night Hunters to snatch her in hopes she would reveal its lair. “But it’s already ensorcelled her,” he says. “She actually wants to be bitten, or thinks she does.”
Blixt checks; she doesn’t seem to be under any mental compulsion. Her Essence has been macerated, though – drained by multiple bites, but there’s something else wrong with her too.
She shows the runners the malignant lumps on her skin. “Glow City,” she says. “Yeah, I wanna get bit. This ain’t no kind a life. This way I can spend it with him, at least.”
“HE’LL TEAR YOU APART, DREKHEAD!” the old Native screams. “I’ve seen him do it! It’s what he did to…”
“He regrets your ma every day,” she says. “He only takes people who ask for it, now. And he don’t kill anymore. But he’ll remember her for the rest of his life, however long that is. He wants you to move on with yours.”
“Yeah, uh,” Bashurr says. “I don’t give a drek for family drama. I think we’re taking the girl and getting paid. You still want to hunt this guy later, give us a call, I guess.”
“We’re spendy,” Cole adds.
Twelve Trees slumps his shoulders. “I can’t stop you. Eagle forgive me.” He kicks away his fetish in disgust.
“Cheer up,” the girl says. “Even if you’re right, it just means he doesn’t have to snack on some other glowgirl.”
The shaman’s lip quirks. “I guess he has a type. You look kind of like her.”
“Yeah, and you look just like him,” Connie says. “Let’s go, boys. I ain’t never been on no Shadowrun before.”
They go back out to the car and Blixt nearly passes out re-casting the Halloweener illusion. Cole drives them into Bellevue, where Mr. Johnson has reserved a room for Connie under the name “3Jane Smith.”
“Thanks for bein’ cool, chummer,” she says as they get ready to leave the hotel lobby. “And you ever see a really pale guttergirl dancing in some club in a few years, maybe come say hi.”
“Yeah, well,” Bashurr says, “take care. But I ever hear of you putting the bite on anyone who doesn’t want it, you’ll see me again.”
A little while later, 30,000 nuyen smoothly click into the team’s account, minus Byron’s fee.
“I don’t know if he really earned that,” Blixt says.
“We’re gonna have to talk to that little asshole,” Cole says. “He’s 0 for 2!”
“I dunno, man,” Wintermute says. “The guy came through. We made almost ten grand apiece. Not bad for a night’s work.”