Part 10: Update X - This LP Is Going Into The DumpUpdate X - This LP Is Going Into The Dump
Alright, the people have spoken, and they are asking for supplies.
It turns out we can only bring two people alongside Kami to the mission, so we're bringing along Norton and one of his dogs in the name of saving money.
With luck, though, you'll get one of the reasonable ones. Try to engage them in conversation and get their superiors involved. Once we see the gang leaders in the field, I'll send my drones in and we'll take them out. We don't know what kind of tech they have, so maintain radio silence from now on. Rick out.
Alright, so the plan is to somehow get the leader of the gang out of the foreground, then blast them all to bits. Sounds like a plan to me.
Now, we could be stupid about this, or we could be smart about it if we had the Etiquettes, but let's just play this normally.
We're mercenaries protecting this shipment. It looks like you have us outnumbered.
Hey, you can count! What a smart human you are! So, how's this going to go down? Did your employers pay you enough to die? Or are you intelligent enough to walk away?
We can offer some information about which caravans don't have any guards, offer to shoot ourselves in the head to make it look good, say that there was a cancellation clause in our contract, or just outright attack. We can also do this, which is the most likely to draw a leader into the situation:
For the right pay, we'll join your side.
Turncoats, eh? Can't say I'm too impressed with that. Not that I should talk, though... I can't pretend that my line of work is that much better. This is over my pay grade. Hang tight, I'm going to get the bosses in here to jaw with you.
Many, many gallons of water. As in: water, the source of all life. But that's not all. Thought you might be interested in hearing what this woman has to say.
Lay it on me.
Smile! You're on candid camera!
Destroy him, my robots!
Anyway, we've now got ourselves in a fight. Rick is a rigger, so he'll be parked behind the van controlling his robots.
This fight doesn't take long, and the gangers don't deal any real damage, so they have to call for backup.
Not for long, babe. I just radioed for reinforcements. Hang tight.
Sounds like we have more company coming! Let's make sure we're ready for them.
After this, we get some turns where we just get to prepare for the next wave.
What. The. Frag.
Dorbi, meet our new partners. The Native Californians are here to save the day.
So yeah, the gang just brought in the American version of Humanis as support. To the surprise of no one, this does not sit well with the dwarf in the gang.
Well, well. There's a feisty little stuntie. It's so cute that your daddy lets you play with the big boys.
WHAT did you call me?!
Stuntie. Or do you prefer halfer? You're half-height, are you half-witted as well?
...that's IT. I'm not about to start working with you racist scum, and if my gang's joining you, I'm leaving them.
I never thought you'd go soft, Dorbi. Well, it's your funeral.
And we have another new friend! Dorbi is a mage, and she loves fire. A lot. Every single one of her spells is fire related.
We move along the road, fucking up NC thugs as we go. So hey, those of you that voted to fuck up some racists also get what you wished for! Everybody is happy!
As a side note, we're really starting to get to the part where combat becomes "Kami runs ahead and fucks people up, occasionally having to wait until everybody else catches up". The thing is that Kami is the main recipient of Norton's Haste spell (since it optimally lets her use Chi Focus twice, meaning four crits in one round), and combine that with Stride boosting her movement, and there we go, we have one character drastically outpacing the others.
Dorbi can do some real shit too, when she manages to catch up.
Once we tear through the next group, we get some info that there's more to fuck up.
So we do that.
Kami continues to carve her way through the gangers, and we eventually make our way to the gang leader. When we take him out...
You bastard! Why on earth would you ally with those creeps?
You have to see the bigger picture, Dorbi. We're just small time. The Native Californians have powerful friends, who are giving them all the weapons they want. We had to play ball, or they would have wiped us out.
So you sold out all your metahuman friends? After we saved your life countless times? You make me sick!
[Dorbi angrily spits at the ground.]
You're right! You're right! Oh, what have I done... if you spare me. I'll tell everyone about what the NCs have been up to. They'll lose all credibility, and will look to you for stability.
It's up to you.
Personally, I would just execute him. That would delight Sacramento, and ensure that he doesn't keep on jacking your supplies. It's your call, though.
Hrm, decisions. Let's see what Norton has to say.
Norton, do you have any counsel to offer?
Alas... must we always be faced with such horrid choices? To kill or to save a defeated foe? If we were in your shoes, we would counsel the path of mercy. Show that you are superior to these men by rising above them.
Well, let's leave him alive. Can't be a Revolutionary Hero without people that tell of your deeds.
I'm letting him go. He'd better spread the word about the Native Californians' plans.
Oh, thank you! Thank you! Don't worry, I'll make sure everyone knows how bad those guys are. Now, if you'll excuse me...
Or maybe not. It sounded like those drekheads allied with the Native Californians. Our gangs are just smalltime, but if the NC turns against you, you could be in for some serious trouble.
Actually, while we're at it:
Who are you, exactly?
Oh, I guess we haven't been properly introduced! I'm Dorbi! I'm a water ganger... Well, as of five minutes ago, I'm apparently an ex-ganger. I'm looking for new employment opportunities, if you're interested. Sorry if I set you on fire earlier. It's just this thing I do. I'm really good at it. No need to worry, though. As long as you're fighting the Native Californians, I'll be fighting by your side.
What can you tell me about the Native Californians?
They're humans who think they're better than everyone else, and they want to make the world a purer place for their kind. Imagine Shavarus if he was a human and had even fewer scruples.
At least Shavarus had a certain level of bravery. The Native Californians are the most despicable cowards I've ever met.
[A grim expression has settled over Rick's face.]
They use IEDs to blow up Ranger vehicles, sabotage water pipelines, poison the soil in metahuman farmsteads. This may be one of our only chances to actually meet them in fair combat.
Got any suggestions for what to do next?
I recognized that one chatty Native dipstick... Claude Bullion, I think. Pretty sure he's based out of Redding. He ran off to the east, we should chase after him.
There's an abandoned scrapyard there. If I was vermin going to ground, I'd hole up in there. Heck, that might even be where their regional base is. It would be fantastic if you could shut them down once and for all. Oh, before I forget: here, take this. This is half the nuyen I've collected on tolls in this stretch of The 5 over the past month. You've done the work to keep it safe, and are entitled to your share.
With that, we get a thousand nuyen.
I'll see if I can get some other Rangers on the horn and cover the escape routes from here. You take Dorbi and flush them out of there, or take them out yourself if you can.
Now, we want to get into the junkyard, but we have a van in our way. Of course, Kami has her own solution to this problem.
(Strength: 6) [Shove the van out of the way.]
[Dorbi looks on in disbelief as you grunt, heave, and finally shove the enormous bulk of metal out of the way.]
And here we are in the junkyard.
We fairly quickly run into some guys, which get roasted and carved up.
We get into a bit of a sticky situation when Kami runs off to solo one group and another group comes in from the side, but concentrated fire solves the problem, as it does with many problems.
After the combat, on the way to the next place, we get some dialogue.
What is it? Are we under attack?! Alarum! Alarum!
No! Sorry, I didn't mean to blurt out like that. Just had a little accident. When we're between fights, I like to keep practicing my magic by playing with fire. Usually just a little bit, passing from hand to hand to keep in shape. But my mind was wandering, and I, um, accidentally may have turned it into a fireball.
We realize that you are trying to reassure us, but your words have quite the opposite effect. Do you mean to tell us that we need not only look for attacks from without, but the possibility of a fireball engulfing us from within our ranks?
Not at all! I have it under control.
Except when you don't.
Dorbi, we have great respect for your prowess. We can sense your attunement to the astral world, and believe you have great potential for developing your skills. However, we must urge you to seek out a mentor to help tame your abilities.
Let me guess, you're volunteering yourself?
Alas, our political duties leave us no time for the rigors of teaching. And we fear that our shamanistic talents would prove only tangentially useful to your more arcane focus. Although, that does raise an interesting prospect. Have you considered seeking out a totem? Many have found both solace and power in the instruction offered by a guide from the spirit realm.
Ha! Well, for me, that would kind of defeat the point. You see, I've always been drawn to magic because of the independence it allows. People can take away my home, my guns, my friends. But even if I'm tied up in a dungeon somewhere, I'll be able to call on my inner power to see me safely out. I don't deny that totems are powerful. They can be friendly, but really, they're just another master, someone you need to keep happy and satisfied. That's not for me! I just like setting things on fire!
...Indeed. And, as your singed coat reveals, you have quite a talent for it.
Okay, I take your point. I'll be more careful next time.
Our next obstacle is a crate. Apparently, the crate is more difficult to move than a van, so we can't just have Kami heave it out of the way, and we're too stupid to operate the lifter. So we need an alternate solution.
And that solution seems to be digging through a whole bunch of garbage.
We find our first item. I have no fucking idea what we're going to do with it.
It might have something to do with this spirit that just appeared.
Man, I'd love to be able to take that Etiquette answer. Oh well.
If you could lift that crate to the east out of the way, I'll gladly move on and leave you alone.
THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE TOOK MY PRECIOUS FILTH. BRING ME THREE SUITABLY DISGUSTING TREASURES, AND I WILL AID YOU ON YOUR WAY.
Alright, so that's what that was for.
We find two more downright disgusting items, should be enough for that spirit.
(Disgusting objects) I bring you the three disgusting items that you requested, foul spirit.
YES. THESE WILL DO. THERE IS ONE MORE REQUIREMENT. YOU MUST SURRENDER HALF OF YOUR HEALTH TO ME.
We could use Spirit Control to skip this requirement, but eh, whatever, Kami can take it, she doesn't take a lot of damage anyway.
THE PRICE IS PAID.
And we lose 19 HP and then 1 HP. So much for wanting to heal that damage with a shaman, since the spell only works on the last taken damage.
GO, NOW, AND TROUBLE ME NO FURTHER.
And now we can move on!
...those supplies we asked for?
...ah, balls. The Big L is involved in this. That's not going to help matters.
I gotta ask, why is Tir helping us? We ain't exactly known for our warm feelings towards dandelion-eaters.
Your kind creates chaos, which aids our cause. Tir is not greedy. The elves will drive south, claiming Sacramento and San Francisco. You will not be welcome within Tir territory, but you can keep your guns and continue terrorizing areas further south.
Works for me. Make sure them keebs stay out of my way, though. What the?! We got company. I'll ring you back after we dust these fools.
If you survive. Farewell.
I can imagine Kami just bursting in all "surprise, motherfuckers!".
Sadly, we can't carve up Claude, because he just runs away. Oh well, we have more NC goons to fuck up.
And fuck them up we do. We also pick up a trivid recorder after that, which might come in handy down the line.
Some more gangers show up. Norton summons a Toxic Spirit to help dispatch them.
And after that, we've officially done with the mission.
What's the situation here?
We wiped them all out, except for Claude.
Blast it. He must have escaped in the crossfire. Typical NC, doesn't think twice about killing, but will abandon his comrades to save his own life. Still, you done good. Best as I could have hoped for, really. We didn't just clear out the water gangs in the area, but we also dealt a blow to the NC. Who knows what they were plotting, but hopefully now we'll never have to find out. Hm... assuming nobody restarts the waterjacking gang. We don't need to worry about you any more, right, Dorbi?
Huh? Oh.... yeah. Right. Yeah. I'll be good. For a given definition of 'good'. Sorry. I shouldn't be joking. You don't have to worry about me. Just give me a bed to sleep in and regular meals, and I'll give all the firepower you need.
I'll let the other Rangers know how you helped us out. We can help make sure the roads are safe for the convoys. So, now that water can move safely through the region again, where would you like it to flow?
Decision time. We can focus the delivery to our base, focus delivering the water to the farms in the area, or try to strike a balance and allocate the water fairly. We'll go with the third option - while giving it all to the farmers would boost our popularity for sure, we're kinda trying to run an army here, so we need at least some.
Try to make sure the water is allocated fairly. We'll take whatever water the area can spare.
Yeah, that seems like the wisest approach. I'll make sure you get your fair share of resources. I'm certain that the folks around here will appreciate your generosity. Okay, the stink here is starting to grate. How about I give you a lift back to camp?
And that's it for the mission. Let's see what's popping back home. We first notice that, well, there's at least something here now. We also get 7 Karma and a thousand nuyen for the mission. Now, let's have a chat with everybody.
What made you decide to come to Redding?
I used to be a full-time shadowrunner, just recently retired. Kali hired me frequently back in the day, and she called me up after Norton located you. I have a lot of contacts in this region, so I've been bootstraping your operations with a core of trustworthy people.
How are the preparations going?
It's early days yet. We just have a handful of people herem mostly personal friends of me and Selene. We don't stand a chance against Tir, but it's a pretty solid core to build around. You should start spreading the word about what we're doing here to get more people to come out here and join up with us.
Alright, nothing much changed here.
How did you find out about us?
I've been a California Ranger for years. I'm not sure if you've met any of us yet, but we're the closest thing to a functional government out here in the Central Valley. Each of us is essentially a tax collector, road construction worker, sheriff, judge, and executioner all rolled into one. The people love us, since we keep the roads safe and in good repair. Anyways, I received a large donation from Mitsuhama that will take care of my stretch of the 5 for the rest of the year, and a polite request that I check out the work you're doing here. I'm not a mercenary, but it looks like for once the corps and the rangers share the same goal: keeping Tir on their side of the border.
What's your opinion of conditions in the camp?
Well, as you can see, we're just barely getting off the ground. We have enough food to last the week, and the guns that people brought in with themselves. That's about it.
No real improvement here either.
What's the deal with those Native Californians?
Don't let the name fool you. They aren't real natives, not the way the NAN or Pueblo are. Their ancestors immigrated here from Europe just like everyone else. The NC are our own local, homegrown version of Humanis. They're human-supremacists who want to expel all metatypes from the territory, and they exterminate anyone who refuses to leave. Real nasty characters. We were all happy to hear that you threw a spanner in their works. They like to pretend that they speak for humans, but the truth is most folks here in Redding get along just fine with one another, whether we have pointy ears or not. Hopefully they'll get the message that we won't tolerate their activities here any more.
What brings you out here?
Opportunity, my friend! If you want to get rich, you need to go where the action is. Between your little camp here, and the vast army of bloodhungry elves to the north, there will be plenty of action for the foreseeable future. Sure, there's not as much stuff out here as in San Francisco. But the way I see it, that's a good thing! If anyone wants high-quality guns and ammo, I'm literally the only game in town.
I guess she knows a monopoly when she sees one.
During the talking, we also spend some of our Karma on Willpower. Maybe we can get up to Chi Casting 6 for the Chi Onslaught - three attacks in one action. That'd be nice.
If I'm your boss, why are you charging me?
Well, if it was just me, I'd gladly give it to you. Since you're the one who's supposedly going to save our skins from those dastardly elves, et cetera, et cetera. Thing is, though, I've got suppliers to worry about. And employees of my own. If I don't make money, I can't pay them. I don't pay them, next week I have no more supplies. The week after that, Tir invades and we're standing here with our pants down. War is a terrible thing, but capitalism doesn't stop when it approaches. Everybody does their part. Yes, you'll be doing more than the rest of us, but you still need to feed the machine.
All the more reason we need to smash the system.
You seem to really be enjoying yourself.
Heh... well, regardless of what your mother might have taught you, playing with matches is a LOT of fun. Oh, don't look so worried! I'm very careful. In fact, regularly practicing flame magic is by far the safest thing someone can do. Just think about it: would you rather have a mage by your side who casts fireball twenty times a day, or one who casts it once a month? Practice makes perfect!
I do hope that you always make sure the range is clear.
I certainly do! And, even if I didn't before, I will now!
How did you join the water gangs?
Well, I'm not, like, ideologically attached to the cause of stealing water, if that's what you're asking. You gotta understand, kids growing up here don't exactly get the same kind of options that your friends in the cities do. We can try to grow crops in irradiated soil, we can join a gang, or we can leave. That's about it. I kind of wanted to be a shadowrunner like you, but my family in Chico made sure I got a SIN early on. Then they got sick, and I didn't want to just leave them on their own. I wasn't about to waste my life as a farmer, so I took a job that let me stay close to home, earn decent nuyen, and set annoying people on fire.
When did you start getting second thoughts?
Uh... when they joined up with the Native Californians, honestly. I did NOT see that coming. And as you could tell, I was NOT happy. Up until then, it was fine. I mean, sure, sometimes I was involved in some pretty dark stuff, but I try to keep to my own code of conduct: Only hurt people who deserve it. My leaders respected that, or at least they knew they would need to respect it if they wanted my help, so we got along fine. The Native Californian alliance changed everything, though. I'll never work for anyone who mistreats me or my family. I don't care how many guns or how much nuyen they have, those pieces of drek are living on borrowed time.
Did most of your friends join the gangs?
I convinced a bunch of my buds from school to join the waterjackers. Some of them washed out, no pun intended, and the really good ones headed east, closer to the snowpack. I'm one of the few who stuck around near home. The ones who didn't join the gangs are... mostly dead now. Usually over stupid stuff, like mouthing off to some Native Californians with a missile launcher, or trying to stow away on a corp jet. I miss 'em. But I learned long ago not to dwell... it won't bring them back.
How are your parents doing now?
Not well. I keep hoping that I can pull off one big score that will let me get them out of their drekky home and into some quiet, safe place where they can die in peace. Otherwise, it'll be a race between disease, hunger, and Tir to see what kills them first.
Do you have any new services to offer?
Yeah, I've recently started offering my services as a ripperdoc. My mortality rate's down to the single digits, so you'll, uh, probably be fine.
So we now have access to cyberware again. Nothing new yet, and we don't have enough cash to really go into it anyway right now.
How long have you been working with Kali?
We met that fine woman the evening we celebrated the defeat of Shavarus's scheme. She has some unusual ideas, but we recognized in her a valuable vassal for improving conditions in San Francisco. She has done much to build relationships with the foreign occupiers, and in time may help restore the city to its former glorious state. Of course, we disagree with several of her policies, such as the wisdom of keeping Saito in power. Nonetheless, in the past month she has united with us in opposition to Tir's invasion, and we have sought to rally the metahuman irregulars even as she seeks to persuade the corporate boards to intervene.
Are you still producing entertainment?
So yeah, we could totally get into the porn business. We're not going to do that, however - Kami's current career seems tailor-made to be turned into an action movie.
I'd like to be an action star.
As far as I'm concerned, you already are! We'll just need to put a camera in front of you, and maybe swap live rounds for blanks. It's a natural fit for you. Let's see... I'll be able to handle production. marketing, and distribution from my headquarters in Eclipse. To get the best bang for our buck, though, we should actually shoot the program on site in Redding. If nothing else, it will help put your base on the map. You'll need to get a trivid recording system together. It doesn't need to be anything fancy, you can use an old model that was discarded when the new gear came out. And we'll need a few professional performers to fill out the supporting roles. I have a few actors here you can interview if you're interested. Let me know once you're all set, and we'll start shooting!
Well, we've got ourselves the equipment - picked it up from the dump for that authentic dirty feeling. Anyway, that'll be it for this update. I got a bit ahead of myself and already recorded all the other runs available to us, so next time, we'll be heading to Shasta Dam to fuck up some more Native Californians.