Welcome to Rio!
Brazil is the emerging giant of South America. It has thrown off the foreign corporate yoke for the most part and is asserting itself as a power to be reckoned with, or at least it is trying. Foreign corporations are still welcome, but the disaster of the Fourth Corporate War and the destruction it wreaked on the country, especially Rio and Santos have not been forgotten. Both Arasaka and Militech are banned from running military, police and security operations here. Amazonian Security is still banned from Santos, Rio and Brasilia. Other megacorps can do business, but they must follow the rules. The People’s Republic of China, the EU, United States and Russia all have competing interests here. Yes, even the US is now welcome back. The South Am Wars were a long time ago, and having them down here just annoys Brazil’s Spanish speaking neighbors and both China and the EU. Everyone has to behave themselves, or at least try not to get caught.
The Team has been hired by the Disney Corporation as ‘security consultants’. Rio de Janeiro used to be the capital of the country, but after 1960, when Brasilia was founded, it became a virtual city state. In 1975, by Presidential decree it was merged with the State of Rio de Janeiro as its state capital. A court case challenging the legality of that decree is now on its way to the Brazilian Supreme Court. In a year to two years a decision is expected. It is anticipated that the decree will be overturned so a power vacuum will open here. Technically most people in the favela’s (Rio’s famous slums) are not citizens of Brazil, so the government does not have to legally provide them with services. They do, however, have the right to vote and remain politically powerful. If Rio becomes a city state again then many who have poured their funds into the rebuilding want to disenfranchise them. Others, including the Disney Corporation, which runs the largest theme park and tourist destination in South America, Fantasia, on Governor’s Island where the Galeao International Airport and the Brazilian Marine Corps Headquarters is located, wants to keep the favela residents enfranchised.
The contract is for up to 18 months (with a possible 6 month extension) and pays 5000 eb (B$ 30,000) per month plus medical and Trauma Team. At the end of the contract everyone will get a 1,000,000 eb bonus if successful. The Team’s yacht, the Windfall, will be moored off Fantasia and provide free lodging and a meal plan for those who wish it. You are ‘on call’ and have corporate immunity and weapons permits. Read the section on weapons for Rio. If you violate the law you can be arrested and your weapons seized. The government has to give you to Disney (eventually) for punishment, but they can keep the illegal weapons. Also, they can revoke your immunity! Don’t be a dick, and you’ll be fine.
Favela Exclusion Zone
With the rebuilding of Rio de Janeiro after the Fourth Corporate War, the problem of the Favelas had to be addressed by the government of the city. To attract investment in rebuilding these shanty towns had to be banished beyond the sight of the investors or so a politically powerful group felt. There had been a lot of fighting in the Centro and South Zones of the city where most of the business and expensive neighborhoods lay. Militech had secreted agent-provocateurs in many of the favelas as part of their plan to dislodge Arasaka from the city. Most of Militech’s efforts had been in the two aforementioned areas of the city although they did make efforts across the city. In the initial fighting, the State Military Police were overwhelmed and Arasaka’s forces were welcomed by the local government. It quickly turned into a full scale war as favelas which had not been involved (and most were not) were attacked by both sides. The city erupted into a chaotic multi-sided war where corporate, police and local forces fought each other while switching sides constantly.
The Federal government’s tepid response was dictated by the fact that they had ceded much military authority to Arasaka so when Columbian paratroopers joined the fray in Rio, the small Brazilian Army had to deploy on the Columbian border. This left the bulk of the government fighting to state forces. The State of Rio de Janeiro used its small State Military Police to secure the rest of the state and left the fighting in Rio to the overtaxed municipal authorities. It was this decision that has led to Rio’s suit in the Brazilian Supreme Court to have the 1975 Presidential Decree declared unconstitutional and let the City of Rio de Janeiro become its own state again, which would make it a defacto free city inside Brazil.
Pretty much all parties in Rio agree on this move. It is what will happen after that is the problem. During the rebuilding of the Centro and South Zones, the favelas were mostly destroyed and not rebuilt. The corporate developers bought up all the land and created a “Favela Exclusion Zone”. With this in place money for rebuilding poured in. Brazil’s economy has been booming for the last sixteen to eighteen years as this South American giant is awakening.
One of the major questions is what to do now with the rest of these shanty towns. It is a question that splits the city across all ethnic and corporate lines. Some feel that the favelas are such a part of Rio and its uniqueness. These neighborhoods need to be recognized; services brought there, and the people made officially part of the city. Others wish to banish these “blights” (along with the chronic poor) to the edges of this growing city or just eliminate them altogether.
Certain interests have put forward a plan to expand the “Favela Exclusion Zone” by lopping the problem off piece by piece. While no one is “officially” proposing how to do it several plans have been made public by person’s unknown.
The following map is one of these plans. The black line represents the existing Favela Exclusion Zone. The red line is Phase One removal area. It contains the largest Favela in Rio: Favela Rocinha with an estimated population of between 150,000 to 250,000 people (estimates go up to 300,000). The dark blue line represents the Phase Two area. The green line represents the Phase Three area. The yellow line is the Phase Four area. The light blue line represents the Phase Five area.
Brazilian Gun Laws & Police Policies
In Brazil, all firearms are required to be registered with the state; the minimum age for ownership is 25 and although it is legal to carry a gun outside a residence, extremely severe restrictions were made by the federal government since 2002 making it virtually impossible to obtain a carry permit. To legally own a gun, the owner must pay a tax every three years to register the gun, currently at BRL R$85 and registration can be done via the Internet or in person with the Federal Police. Until the end of the 2008, unregistered guns could be legalized for free. The total number of firearms in Brazil is thought to be around 17 million with 9 million of those being unregistered.
There are corporate exceptions but they vary especially in Rio de Janeiro. Large corporations with limited sovereignty rights can set their own age requirements, but any corporation that issues weapons to people younger than 16 will find their right to arm their employees under immediate review. No Brazilian citizen can be issued any sort of corporate license if they are under 25. The ability to issue automatic and military grade weaponry is only granted to mega corp size entities and often limited as to where you can have them. Many of the largest cities do not allow even the largest corporations to possess this kind of weaponry except in certain small zones. Usually these are the corporate headquarters and limited security areas. That is why the carbine has become popular.
Rio de Janeiro, Santos and Brasilia
During the Fourth Corporate War Rio de Janeiro (and the City of Santos to a lesser extent) was gutted by over two years of intensive fighting between Arasaka working with the Brazilian Army and Militech with their Columbian allies. In the almost twenty years since the end of the war these cities (especially Rio) have been rebuilt into modern technological marvels. The following addition regulations apply in the State of Rio de Janeiro, the capital city of Brasilia and within 50 miles of the City of Santos.
1 – No individual or corporate entity may possess military grade (including sniper rifles) or any automatic weapons. Corporations can get special licenses for SMGs 10mm and under, but may not be carried concealed. Old bolt action military rifles are not included in this ban. Certain older multi-shot semi-automatic weapons (i.e. M-1 Garand) can be possessed with a Brazilian Collector’s License, but these are only issued to citizens. Semi-automatic rifles are limited to a ROF of two rounds, carbines to three rounds. No weapons with burst ability (3 or 4 rounds) are legal. No pistol over .454 caliber is allowed and any handgun that does over (4d6+3 damage) is illegal for anyone. No rifle over 9mm is legal and no shotgun firing anything bigger than a 10 gauge shell may be possessed.
2 – No explosive ammunition is legal. Only non-lethal, standard, AP & DP is generally permitted. The sale ammunition is closely watched and heavily taxed. Here you pay double the normal price for ammunition.
3 – Power armor and any sort of motorized metal gear (including Blackjacks) are strictly prohibited anywhere in these areas. It is very, very difficult to get a permit for these things in any other area of Brazil too. Stealth suits are not allowed to be sold in Brazil, but their possession is not illegal per se. However, the police have the right to seize your suit if they deem that you were using it in a military or criminal fashion. You may contest this finding in court, but the average time to the hearing is over two years in which the police will retain control of the item. Walking around in any sort of armor is frowned upon and although metal gear is legal, you will probably be arrested on sight if not gunned down immediately. Heavily armored clothing will attract the police’s attention which is NOT a good thing here. Also it is so hot that you will probably pass out very soon walking around. The higher the quality of your armored clothes the less attention from the police you will receive. Of course, the better clothes you have, they more likely it will be that you might get robbed. As a rule of thumb armor in the light range (SP 4-12) is generally acceptable. If it has an EV penalty, it’s not cool.
4 – Rio de Janeiro was traumatized by the corporate fighting that destroyed their city. Even in the favelas the criminals are loath to violate these rules. The Drug Lords who rules may of these slums do possess automatic weapons, but they are loathe to use them openly too much. Just about everyone in this city lost a close family member in the fighting twenty years ago.
5 – The Rio de Janeiro state government launched in 2038 the Pacifying Police Unit (PPU) program to reclaim areas controlled by drug dealers. The program is considered successful. This is the latest in a line of policies regarding the crime issue in the favelas, such as the Special Areas Policing Groups (GPAE) and the Community Policing program, in the one administration, or the no-entry policy adopted by other administrations for the police in those areas. Through the UPP, between 2039 and 2040 the rate of homicides in the state fell by 21%, the largest drop since 1991. Rio has a unique police group to deal with major crime in the favelas, but they also deal with corporate violence with the same ruthlessness. When it gets really bad they call on the Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (Portuguese for Special Police Operations Battalion) who are mostly known by its acronym BOPE. It is a Special Forces unit of the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. Due to the nature of crime in favelas, BOPE units have extensive experience in urban warfare as well as progression in confined and restricted environments. It also utilizes equipment deemed more powerful than traditional civilian law enforcement. They have cyborgs and APCA equipped units. They strike from helicopters and AVs which are also heavily armed.
Law Enforcement in Brazil
The Brazilian Federal Constitution establishes five different law enforcement institutions: the Federal Police, the Federal Highway Police, the Federal Railway Police, the State Military Police and Fire Brigade, and the State Civil Police. Of these, the first three are affiliated to federal authorities and the latter two subordinated to state governments. All police institutions are part of the Executive branch of either federal or state government. According to the Supreme Federal Tribunal, the only security forces considered police units by Brazilian law are the ones listed in article 144 of the Federal Constitution, that is, the five aforementioned police forces. There are two primary police functions: maintaining order and law enforcement. When criminal offences affect federal entities, federal police forces carry out those functions. In the remaining cases, the state police forces undertake police activities. Law enforcement and maintaining order are the two primary functions of Brazilian police units. In Brazilian Law, maintaining order is considered a preventive effort whereby police troopers patrol the streets to protect citizens and discourage criminal activity. Law enforcement consists of criminal investigation, therefore taking place after a criminal offence.
Prevention and investigation in Brazil are divided between two distinct police organizations. Local “military police” forces only have order maintenance duties. Correspondingly, “civil police” institutions are responsible solely for crime investigation. However, at the federal level, the Federal Police is commissioned with both preventive and investigative functions of federal crimes.
Federal Institutions: Federal Highway Police (Polícia Rodoviária Federal). There are three federal police institutions in Brazil: the Brazilian Federal Police|Federal Police, the Federal Highway Police, and the Federal Railway Police. The Federal Police, officially the “Departamento de Polícia Federal”, is described by the Constitution as “a permanent administrative organ of the federal Executive branch”. Main assignments are the investigations of crimes against the Federal Government or its organs and companies, the combat of international drug trafficking and terrorism, and immigration and border control police (includes airport and water police).It is directly subordinated to the Ministry of Justice. The Federal Highway Police, also described as “a permanent administrative organ of the federal Executive branch”, has the main function of patrolling federal highways. It maintains order, but does not investigate crime. The Federal Railway Police, the third and last federal police force. Like the previously mentioned institutions, the Federal Railway Police is described as “a permanent administrative organ of the federal Executive branch” with the main function of patrolling the federal railway system. It does not investigate crime, solely focusing on order maintenance.
State Institutions: There are two types of state police institutions: the Military Police/Military Firefighters Corps and the Civil Police. The Military Police and Fire Brigade is the state police with order maintenance functions. It patrols the streets and imprisons suspects of criminal activity, handing them over to Civil Police custody or, in case of federal crimes, to the Federal Police. It is a “militarized” institution (gendarmerie) because it is based on military principles of hierarchy, ranks, uniform, discipline, and ceremonial. However, it is not part of the Brazilian Armed Forces. It is described by the Constitution as an “ancillary force of the Army”. The Military Fire Brigade, in general, is a part of the Military Police, although it does not perform traditional policing duties. It is subordinated to the state government. The Civil Police is the state police with law enforcement duties. It has the function of investigating crimes committed in violation of Brazilian criminal law. It does not patrol the streets and does not use uniforms. Like the Military Police, it is subordinated to the state government.
Other Security Forces: National Public Security Force (Força Nacional de Segurança Pública). Municipalities may create Municipal Guards. They have the duty of protecting property, services and facilities of local governments. They are not police institutions and do not have order maintenance or law enforcement obligations. Thus, they are not listed in article 144 of the Federal Constitution as an autonomous police unit. There are over 700 Municipalities with Municipal Guards. The National Public Security Force, officially the Força Nacional de Segurança Pública, was created by presidential decree 5.289 on November 29, 2004. It is not a security force per se. Rather; it is a federal program of cooperation among all Brazilian police forces for situations of emergency or exceptional nature. Army, Navy and Air Force police units are not to be confused with the state Military Police. These are internal security units of each Armed Forces branch. They do not have general order maintenance or law enforcement functions. Other internal units may be created for protection of particular agencies or administrative entities, such as the guards of legislative houses, which are not police institutions. Nevertheless, in times of emergency, the Army has been called upon to maintain order, most notably in Rio de Janeiro.
Episode 40 – Welcome to Rio
Everyone attends a Brazilian Independence Day party in the penthouse of a major Disney hotel at the Fantasia theme park thrown by Henrique, a former Drug Lord gone legit, who has a production company (among other interests) doing business with the Disney Corporation. Much shopping is done to get ready for the festivities and some of the new technological marvels of Rio are discovered. At the affair, the Team meets their new liaison, Ricco Torres, and many of the local movers and shakers. More of the new technology that is being incorporated into the new Rio is seen. Nip is visited by a ‘ghost’ from her past. Victor meets an enemy from his Petrochem days and a fight almost breaks out. Ricco, through Henrique, gets Victor a sponsor for the annual drag races scheduled for the following day.
At the races, Victor wins his division and many on the Team make a good chunk of change betting on him. Others are not happy about the outcome and charges of ‘ringer’ are heard. Words come to blows and a riot breaks out! At an after party, there is a disagreement over a girl and another fight or two! Nobody (on any side) dies and good fun is had by all!
The Team has arrived in Rio de Janeiro aboard their (pilfered) 194 foot mega yacht, the Windfall. They have been brought here by the Disney Corporation, who runs the giant theme park, Fantasia. The Brazilian Supreme Court is expected to overturn the 1975 Presidential Decree (The Fusion) effectively re-establishing the city of Rio as an independent city-state within Brazil. Factions have begun to align, in anticipation of this decision, to vie for control of the city. The notorious favelas of Rio de Janeiro present a powerful voting block; one that several of the players in the political struggle seek to eliminate. By taking away the voting rights of the poor, the conspirators hope to move closer to their ultimate goal of eliminating the favelas; reclaiming the valuable real estate for redevelopment. The Disney Corporation opposes this agenda and has contracted the Team as “consultants” to counter the maneuvers of rival factions.
Allison Cole: 17 yo kleptomaniac sex pot and one of Cat Ortiz’s best friends from Atlantic City High School. When she became a suspect in a heist in Atlantic City, she followed her friend to Jamaica and has now joined the Team. Her skills as a Prowler are formidable.
Cat (Fisher) Ortiz: Officially she is Sam Fisher and the late Maria Ortiz’s 19 yo daughter. Now back in South America, she is using her “mother’s” last name again. In actuality she is a full memory clone of late Caitlin Jones, the original biogenetic assassin construct built by the now defunct Bio Works Corporation. This is known only to Kyle Vaduva.
Doc Freeman: Former professor at UNLV, former assistant coroner and (formally) disgraced cyber researcher. He is the inventor of the “cyberbrain” with which he claims to have cured death itself. Although courts around the world are still deliberating the ramifications of his work, Disney Corporation has honored their agreements making Dr. Freeman rich beyond his wildest dreams.
Kyle Vaduva: Former C.I.A. agent, burned by the agency for crimes he did not commit. His efforts to expose and eliminate, the Section, a freelance spy ring that had infiltrated the C.I.A., led to a review of his record and exoneration. He was allowed to retire with full benefits. Kyle has been reunited with his lover from the Romanian Operation, Caitlin Jones (see Cat (Fisher) Ortiz above).
Nip Lacey: 16 yo girl with neon green hair, has amnesia. She is a NET savant. Nip is a former classmate of Allison Cole, and Cat Ortiz, whom she considers her best friends.
Fred: ferret and imaginary friend of Nip’s.
Victor Kane: He is a 28 year old street racer (Runner). After being cashiered by Petrochem’s security arm, Kane, as he prefers to be called, earned extra money dabbling in smuggling.
Nicholas (Nicky) Vaduva: Zar’s (Kyle’s) 18-year-old son from our Romanian adventure. Nicholas is unaware of this, believing Kyle to be his father’s cousin. He serves as third officer on the yacht SS Windfall.
Ricco Torres: A former member of the Rio de Janeiro Civil Police who became a private investigator when his friendship with certain ‘unsavory’ characters came to light. Although he was not corrupt, he left the force before a case could be ‘made’ (manufactured) against him. Some in the favelas refer to him as Cobrinha (Little Snake in Portuguese) due to his friendship with Henrique, the King Snake. Recently he has been hired by the Disney Corporation and been given a corporate ‘badge’. He serves as liaison between the Team and Disney.
Carlos Jorge (Cajo or C.J.) Abreu Melo: A competitive racer on the Stock Car Brazil circuit and local celebrity, as much for his antics off the track.
Colin Hughes: He is a (senior) executive from Petrochem on assignment in Rio de Janeiro. The man is from Victor Kane’s lifepath. Kane and Colin vied for the affections of the late Marybeth Bascom, daughter of Texas US Senator Howard Bascom. All three young people were “gear heads”. Kane beat out Colin, who arranged Kane’s separation from his job at Petrochem. Colin will be racing in the ‘illegal’ Independence Day Drag Race on Friday.
Constance “Connie” Ettner: She is a representative of the Welling Foundation, an NGO that helps build schools and provides support for educations programs in areas affected by violence and poverty.
Dane Marzilli: He is second in command of Disney Security.
Gabriela Figueira: Is a famous telenovela star (the Brazilian equivalent of Susan Lucci). She is the grand dame of the telenovela who Henrique has persuaded to take a small role in his pilot.
Henrique: This former Favela drug lord and leader of the Red Command, who is also known as the King Snake, has taken a government amnesty offer and gotten out of the drug business. The man now runs a media company which works with Disney and a mini-venture capitalist firm that gives micro-loans to favela residents so they can rise from poverty. It is suspected he is positioning himself to enter politics. He and Ricco Torres, who the gang leader calls Mambo, grew up together with Ricco being the younger ‘brother’. Henrique used to belong to a Brazilian pop group manufactured by a record company. When his voice changed he was fired and thrown back into the favela where he rose to the top of the local gang. Ricco joined the police.
Inacio Felipe Mariano de Silva: He is an executive of the Agricorp Fartura (Bountiful). Inacio oversees the Urban Agra division. The corporation has plans to build several vertical farms within Rio over the next decade. The first is a joint project with Granger Bio-Systems.
Jeroh “Jerry” Kliemann: He is a tech blogger and entrepreneur. His site “Kajigger” began as a video blog reviewing new technology and giving advice to viewers. The site branched out into tutorials and the introduction of new technologies, many sold through the site’s online store, Tech 4 Living. Most of the items sold would fall into the category of accessories or small ticket items that are useful in everyday life…things that you might see in infomercials on television these days. While some may be silly, others are quite useful, like the Power-sol (umbrella / parasols of differing sizes, with canopies made of photovoltaic cloth. The handle contains a battery and port with adapters, which allow various devices to be plugged in and recharged. The beach umbrella model is highly popular, as is the Wi-Fi attachment.
Joao Rui: He is the manager of Henrique’s investment firm.
Leonid Kalikov: He is the executive Vice President of SovOil in charge of (southern) South American operations. He is based in Rio and would have great interest in Rio’s political future. He, Rafaela Mendes and Colin Hughes would be quite the trio at the party.
Li Xuechen: Is an Official from the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).
Lula Midare: Is the stage name of Lurdes Gonzalvo Guarani. Like many others in Brazil, she is of mixed ancestry. Her exotic look and singing talent rather than acting skill landed her the part in the pilot.
Maria Loyola ‘Lolli’ Raposa: Loyola oversees Henrique’s firm’s microfinance fund.
Mayor Fernando Neves of Rio de Janeiro: He is married to Leticia (deCosta) and has a couple of kids. He has the reputation of being a survivor. Hence, everyone is trying to court him. Some of his children are rumored to be ‘troublesome’ others exemplary.
Nico: He is a member of the Red Command from Favela Caminho do Lucio who is a major importer of marijuana into Rio de Janeiro.
Rafaela Mendes President and CEO of Petrobras, the Brazilian Petrochemical giant. She is a widow as her husband was killed in an extraction. She is always surrounded by world class (and famous) security. She is a hard-headed business person that has made it in a man’s world. Publically she is politically uncommitted.
Raul Azevedo: President and CEO of Furnas, the smaller of the utility giants based in Rio de Janeiro: He feels his profits are being syphoned away by the people in the favelas stealing electricity. So, he is one of the (leaders and/or major backers) of the movement to disenfranchise the favela residents when Rio becomes an independent city (state) again.
Timmy: An enigmatic boy that only Nip and Fred seem to be able to see
Victoria Lopes: Anchor and chief investigative reporter for Rio’s prime Globo News show. Globo is the major locally owned TV news outlet in Brazil and a major player in South America.
Wallena Kroitor: Is from Soroca, Moldova. She is a failed gymnast, who went into dance who works for Disney (as a dancer) and has a part in Henrique’s pilot. She speaks Moldovan / Romanian and Ukrainian as well as some Hungarian, English and Portuguese.
Wilfredo Ernesto Saber (“Willy the Roach” or just Barata (Roach), but not to his face): He is a friend of Henrique from the bad old days. His diminutive size and pleasant nature are at odds with his fearful reputation. His nickname comes from the fact that he is so tough to kill. He’s been shot (nine times), stabbed (more than a dozen times), electrocuted (at least twice), thrown from a moving car, partially set on fire, fallen from a building, to escape said fire and had a host of other misadventures.
Xu Jun: Is the Chinese Consul General for Rio de Janeiro. He spent 25 years as a top operative, then official of the Ministry for State Security (the premier Chinese foreign intelligence service) before ‘retiring’. His recent appointment to this post makes some think that China may be taking a more ‘active’ role here or he may be really just a retired spook with a new cushy job.}
Thursday, September 7, 2045:
In the morning Kyle and Cat take their Jaguar XKF (AV-3) from their newly purchased penthouse in Ipanema to the dock where the Windfall is moored and pick up Allison and Nip for a morning of shopping and beauty treatments. Of course Fred comes along too. The group heads to the exclusive shopping district downtown. There Fred sees all sorts of normally invisible NET creations that he has never encountered. It seems they can see him too! Nip and Fred soon realize that these are digital ‘personal assistants’ who follow their owners around. Also, some people seem to be wearing ‘digital clothes’ set to overlay their bodies in the physical world, but can only be seen with some kind of glasses similar to NET glasses. Rio appears to be on the cutting edge of the new technologies.
Nip is in desperate need of a make-over, at least in the minds of Allison and Cat. They take her to a high class clothing store and marvel at all the new high tech VR gizmos that allow you to see your dress fitted to you and accessories matched before they actually bring out the clothes. Nip behaves herself fairly well and she only wears out one salesperson! The three young women start to think that they are going to really like it here.
The four then go to a Body Cure Salon and get their ATTR boosted temporarily for the party this afternoon. Yes, in Cyberpunk you can turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse with the right technology! All four are now achingly beautiful and dressed to the nines. They head to the penthouse of a Disney Hotel where Henrique is throwing his Brazilian Independence Day Party. On this day in 1822, when confronted by a written command from his father to return to Portugal and turn the Empire of Brazil back to the status of a colony, Prince Pedro, heir to the Portuguese and Brazilian throne drew his sword on the banks of the Ipiranga River and declared “Independencia ou morte!” (Independence or death!). With this shout, later known as the “Cry of Ipiranga”, Brazil became an independent country.
Nip insists on paying a visit to a candy maker to price some custom made lollipops. They all decide to amuse her and she commissions a batch for herself. With everything prepared the entire team gets ready and goes to Henrique’s party at the rooftop of a Disney hotel on the beach at Fantasia.
The main room where the festivities are being held has a tall ceiling. Both Nip and Fred notice some frightening looking ‘monsters’ in each corner of the ceiling. These are defense programs of the hotel, which is a ‘smart building’, that meaning that this building has an AI controlling all of its functions. Nip has never been able to see into the NET before without dropping in or using NET goggles. Perhaps smoking that joint before coming might have something to do with this new turn of events, but this doesn’t occur to Nip.
Dane Marzilli, the second in command of Disney Security at Fantasia asks to speak to Kyle and Cat. They go into a side room and begin to discuss the Team’s mission, but it quickly becomes clear that Dane hasn’t been read into the totality of the group’s operational limits. The two refuse to discuss their plans any further and ask to speak to the subordinate’s boss. Dane pulls Ricco aside later and tells him to keep the Team out of trouble.
Doc Freeman and Allison make the rounds and meet many of the important people in attendance including Mayor Fernando Neves of Rio de Janeiro and Xu Jun, the Chinese Consul General for Rio de Janeiro, retired former top operative and official of the Ministry for State Security (the premier Chinese foreign intelligence service). His recent appointment to this post makes some think that China may be taking a more ‘active’ role here or he may be really just a retired spook with a new cushy job.
Kyle and “Willy the Roach” recognize each other professionally; Kyle as a retired C.I.A. spook and Willy as an independent contractor, who has done “work” for the CIA in the past. The Team gets to meet Ricco Torres, their Disney security liaison. Ricco and Victor get to talk and the Disney cop learns that Victor is a race car driver and looking to get back into it. Ricco pulls his friend Henrique aside and asks if he knows anyone looking for a race driver. In short order, Victor lands a gig driving for Nico, an old associate of Henrique, in the annual street drag race in Bangu (a neighborhood of Rio) being held tomorrow.
With thoughts of tomorrow’s race still dancing through his head, Victor unexpectedly bumps into an old “friend”, Colin Hughes. Colin is in Rio to negotiate drilling contracts for Petrochem. As Victor approaches, Colin is conversing with his SovOil counterpart Leonid Kalikov, (senior SovOil executive in Rio) and the fetching beauty hanging off the Russian’s arm. Allison is also present hanging on every word of the handsome Petrochem executive. She has ‘smelled’ money from across the room and begun to circle.
Victor interrupts the conversation to confront Colin. Overmatched in the war of words, Victor steps forward to let his fists take over the conversation. Leonid’s lovely female ‘escort’ imposes herself between the two rivals. Cat who is standing nearby also intervenes, but rather than facing down the woman, she to turns to bar Victor’s path to Colin. Confronted with two attractive and deadly women, Victor backs down. Cat recognizes that the SovOil executive’s companion has taken up a Krav Maga fighting stance. As Victor disengages from the confrontation Cat follows, demanding to know what just happened. The runner portrays himself as the injured party, casting Colin as the villain, who has it out for him.
Outside of the main room on the terrace Nip sees a young boy sitting on the ledge overlooking the parking lot far below. Nip perceives the world as a stylized cartoonscape, but the boy is not rendered as a cartoonish caricature. He appears real and somehow familiar. The girl sits down next to him and strikes up a conversation. The boy, Timmy, is confused and doesn’t know how he got here. The two chat for a bit. When Timmy mentions something about clowns, Nip freaks out and screams. She also starts to feel dizzy. She slips off the ledge, thankfully falling forward to her hands and knees, rather than backwards over the edge. Kyle and Cat rush to her aid. Timmy is nowhere to be seen. In fact, no one else has seen him at all. Cat takes Nip back to the boat.
Ricco talks with Connie and offers to introduce her to a government official he knows who might be able to help with funding her project(s).
Everyone continues to hobnob with the party guests, but eventually all get back aboard the Windfall. Tomorrow is race day!
Friday, September 8, 2045:
Victor, Doc Freeman, Kyle, Cat and Nip head out with Ricco to meet Nico, the owner of the car that Victor will be driving in the race. The garage is in the Favela Caminho do Lucio, a couple of miles north of the Bangu Shopping Center and the Avenue de Santa Cruz where the drag races will be held. The stench of marijuana fills the garage. It is clear that the back room of this structure is the drug storage area (bales stacked to the ceiling of the shower stall in the bathroom). Nico passes a couple of spliffs around. Nip’s eyes light up, but her cousin Kyle does not approve.
Victor looks over the car. It is a highly modified Obvio Saltador, a locally manufactured four door sedan. The car is fast. Kane is so pleased, he doesn’t bring up the bullet holes in the trunk. At the races Victor is an unknown so the betting odds on him are good. The Team lays their money on their man and he doesn’t disappoint. Colin Hughes is also here, but running in a different division. The Petrochem executive makes it to his semi-final round. He seems less interested in winning and more intent on developing good will with the local drivers.
Down to the finals and Kane is in it to win his division. Some in the crowd are not happy. They feel that Victor is a foreign ringer and they have lost money on him. The issue comes to a head when the Team’s runner blows the doors off his last competitor. As the mood gets ugly, the Team quickly gathers their winnings. Down on the track some words are exchanged. Victor keeps his cool, but Ricco chides the unhappy gamblers as ‘sore losers’. A couple of shoves follow and then all hell breaks out. A full scale riot ensues. Kyle and Doc Freeman gather up Nip and leave quickly. Cat heads into the melee to make sure Victor and Ricco are all right.
Victor sees the hostile crowd heading towards him and takes off with the car, leaving its owner, Nico, in the middle of the melee. Ricco fights his way free, but Nico goes down under the assault of multiple attackers. Seeing Nico’s plight, Cat heads in his direction. Fortunately, Brazilian machismo does not include punching out women. Cat reaches Nico and with her mastery of Sambo and augmented strength easily subdues his four attackers. Dragging the garage owner back to his feet, the pair push through the crowd to the edges of the riot and escape.
Despite the beating, Nico is in a good mood and invites the three out to a party in the favela. Nico also gives Cat a bag of weed to give to Nip. Kyle wouldn’t let his cousin buy any so Nico decides to give her some. They all head into the warren of alleyways of the favela and up the stairs to an apartment where a party is going on.
Ricco spies a comely young lady who appears to be alone and makes his move. Unfortunately, she isn’t alone. Her gang leader boyfriend is across the room partying with his boys. Feeling neglected, she readily responds to the ex-cop’s advances. The gang leader finally notices the pair and moves to separate Ricco from his woman. Ricco tries to use his authority as a cop to intimidate the ganger. The ploy doesn’t work.
“You have no juice here, Cobrinha,” the ganger tells him.
It’s common knowledge that Ricco is no longer a cop; plus the boyfriend is pretty drunk and pissed. The two square off to the obvious enjoyment of the other party-goers. It’s all fun and games till they break the kitchen table. The hosts put an end to the drunken brawl.
The issue seems settled, till Victor stands up and tries to pick a fight with the gang leader. The runner stands up, flexes, pops his pecs and starts talking trash. The gang leader refuses to be drawn out by his taunts. His honor has been maintained and the fighting has made his girlfriend sexually excited. He has other things on his mind, than further combat. The host makes it clear, by cocking his shotgun, he’s in no mood for more of his furniture to be broken. Victor doesn’t seem to get it and pushes the issue. The result is that Kane, those who came with him and the gangers are asked to leave. As everyone is going downstairs the gangers attack Victor for getting them thrown out of the party, and Ricco, just for good measure. The ex-cop uses his Capoerira against the assault. Again, Cat is ignored in the melee. She knocks out two. Victor picks up a third and throws him down the stairs, straight into the remaining gangers, the gang leader, his girlfriend and unfortunately Ricco. Extricating the ex-cop from the pile of flailing bodies, the Team quickly flees out the door into the night.
Victor, Ricco and Cat make sure Nico gets back to his garage, then they head to the train station to catch a ride back into the city center. All in all it has been a fine day!
Episode 41: A Party, a Pair of Mysteries and a Crooked Cop
The Team entertains a group of Disney executives and some of the rich and infamous of Rio on their super yacht, the Windfall, during the Rio de Janeiro Power Boat Grand Prix. Kyle runs across some mysterious deaths of local netrunners and looks into them as he worries about his cousin, Nip, who has been acting stranger than usual. Ricco misses a clue and almost gets erased by a crooked cop. A coroner is bribed and that meet almost goes very wrong. Nip critically botches a Library Search roll under the influence of a little ganja and the door to her mysterious past opens briefly, sending her into a coma. To help her, Cat has to step up and take responsibility as leader of the Caitlins and a member of the Collective’s ruling council.
Bianca Frietas: the local spokesperson for Granger Biosystems.
“Buster” Cane (Jose Pedro deCana): a popular MMA fighter in Rio.
Constantin Giordino: the senior Biotechnica executive in Rio.
Costas Oliveira: The manager of “Buster” Cane.
Dr. Luis Serrano: A deputy coroner with the Rio de Janeiro’s Coroner’s Office, who Ricco knows.
Hector Benetiz: the head of Disney security in Rio.
Jayci Benetiz: Hector’s wife.
Jack Mathis: one of Disney’s chief imagineers at Fantasia.
Pippa Barros: a publicist from the local media giant Grupo Abril.
R. Maximillian (II): President and CEO of I-Corp
Simon Cahill: R. Maximillian’s bodyguard.
Viola: The eye candy on R. Maximillian’s arm.
Saturday, September 9, 2045:
In the morning most of the Team is preparing for the party that afternoon. Nip orders a cake for Victor to celebrate his victory in the drag races. She has requested the inscription “You May Be an Ass, but At Least You Don’t Suck!” along with a race car drawn in frosting.
Cat stops by the local Lamborghini dealership and plunks down cash for a brand new Lamborghini Demon. Rather than drive it back to the Windfall, she has it delivered to her workshop at Disney Fantasia. Afterwards, it’s back to the ship to put on her captain’s uniform and greet guests coming to the party.
Hector Benetiz (head of Disney security in Rio) and his wife arrive early. He wishes to speak with Kyle and Cat before the other guests arrive, to dispel any confusion or concerns they may have thanks to his blundering subordinate Dane Marzilli (see episode 40). Between them they hammer out the last details of their duties to the corporation and the chain of command. Hector confirms Ricco’s job as the company liaison with the Team and provides Kyle and Cat with intelligence about their arriving guests. With business concluded, the three return to the other guests. Hector introduces his wife, Jayci, to the Team.
Constantin Giordino arrives. He is a Biotechnica executive, overseeing a joint project with CINO to develop strains of deep sea kelp for use as biofuels. During conversation he reveals that he is an avid fan of powerboat racing and fancier of one of the boats taking part in today’s race.
The SS Windfall
The arrival of R. Maximillian (II), causes a stir. It is a rare sight as the oft-reclusive billionaire rarely makes public appearances; especially in such an open venue. Scion to the I-Corp fortune and namesake of its founder, Maximillian took the reins of the corporation when his father retired. Under his stewardship, the assets and holdings of I-Corp have grown exponentially.
(GM note: This is the son of the R. Maximillian from the Atlas Adventure scenario book “Chasing the Dragon.” I-Corp has expanded far beyond the front R. Maximillian Sr. used to hide his drug trafficking operations and launder the illicit profits. It is now a major corporate player on the world stage. Young R. Maximillian is as ruthless as his father and twice as smart.)
Accompanying R. Maximillian (II) is a stunningly gorgeous woman whom he introduces as Viola, and his constant shadow Simon Cahill. Simon is R. Maximillian’s (II) personal bodyguard. The solo is so heavily augmented, he may as well be a borg.
Granger Biosystems’ stunning spokesperson, Bianca Frietas, arrives amid a small throng of admirers and functionaries. Floating near the edge of her entourage is Jack Mathis. The pasty white chief imagineer of Disney’s Fantasia appears all the more drab and plain next to the sun-kissed beauties and bronzed adonises following in Bianca’s wake.
As the party progresses, Jack gloms onto Allison, attempting to make a pass at the lovely young woman. Allison is far from receptive to his advances, but Jack is pleasantly persistent. She tries to catch Kyle’s eye as he passes by, hoping that he will rescue her from her pallid admirer. Kyle notes her plight, smiles, then continues by, leaving Allison mired in her awkward tete-a-tete with Jack.
Among the celebrity guests is “Buster” Cane (Jose Pedro deCana), a popular MMA fighter with his manager, Costas Oliveira, and his publicist, Pippa Barros, from the local media giant Grupo Abril.
There are a host of other Disney and local corporate honchos in attendance. Victor Kane spends most of the party sitting silently at one of the ship’s five bars pounding down drinks. He remains in control, but aloof and unfriendly. Doc Freeman, Nip and Ricco mingle. Nip’s off-beat demeanor and “unique” perspective ironically work in her favor. Many guests find her to be delightful and amusing.
Cat notices the strange effect that R. Maximillian’s (II), companion, Viola, seems to be having on other guests. She surreptitiously sniffs her to take in the woman’s scent and is almost overpowered by the pheromones the woman is exuding. Cat retrieves a chemical sniffer for a safer analysis. This pheromone seems to make people open up to Viola. Cat introduces herself to R. Maximillian and engages him in conversation. R. Maximillian proves to be an affable and intelligent conversationalist. The two have a friendly chat as Simon hovers nearby.
Elsewhere, Kyle overhears a fragment of hushed discussion between a Disney exec and an executive from the media corp, Grupo Abril. R. Maximillian and I-Corp are the topic. It seems he has found a way around the regulations regarding braindance that has two execs concerned.
As the party winds down, R. Maximillian makes an odd request. Instead of leaving by the launch that had transported the guests from the dock to the Windfall, he asks for permission to have his land on the foredeck. Cat informs him that the decks of the Windfall are not equipped to handle the high velocity heated exhaust emitted by an AV’s vector thrust engines. The vessel does however have a spinner landing platform. In short order a spinner is ordered and arrives to take R. Maximillian and his party away from the Windfall.
Early in the evening as the ship’s launch deposits the last of the guests on the dock, Nicholas, who had overseen the transfers, informs his cousin (Kyle) of four suspicious individuals loitering near the slip where the launch docked. Kyle is at first irate that it took Nicholas so long to notice and report this potential security risk. Nicholas quickly explains that most of the guests had security personnel or at least drivers waiting to pick them up at the dock. He had only become suspicious of the four after all of the guests had departed and they remained loitering in the secure parking zone. Nicholas produces pictures of the four, noting that they quickly left after it was apparent they had been made.
Kyle shares the photos with the Team and the entire crew of the Windfall. He also forwards them to Disney security who later contacts him to report that the four were standing in a location where the dock’s security cameras couldn’t get a good look at them. The security cameras also didn’t record their departure from the secure parking lot. A review of the dock’s security systems is underway to verify if a breech occurred.
Everyone settles in for a quiet night on the yacht.
Sunday, September 10, 2045:
Although most of the team isn’t overly religious, they do take one tenet to heart, treating Sunday as a day of rest. While the rest of the team relaxes aboard ship, Victor decides to go to church and finds a Catholic parish nearby. The service has already begun, so he slides into the last row of pews at the back of the church. Two priests catch his eye. They too are sitting in the back, more watching than participating in the service. He catches one shaking his head as he surveys the tight knot of parishioners in the front pews. The church is more than half empty.
Each wears a symbol that Victor does not recognize.
He lingers after the mass has ended to see where they go. The priests patiently wait for the small congregation to say their farewells in the vestibule and file out the door of the church. They then approach the minister and speak with him in hushed tones, which Victor can not make out. The minister motions towards the front of the church and his fellow priests follow him to the sacristy. The pair appears to be in no hurry to leave, so Victor returns to the Windfall.
He tries to draw the symbol the priests wore from memory and then asks Nip to research it. Victor’s drawing is next to useless (9 on his skill roll). Nip has no luck trying to research it. When informed of her results, he asks her to research all the Christian symbology she can find. Nip can’t help herself. She laughs in his face before walking away. Victor is less than amused.
Kyle is intrigued by the snippet of conversation he overheard between the Disney and Grupo Abril execs and looks into what I-Corp is doing in the area. It seems I-Corp has developed a Dream Machine with which you can mix and replay dream stimuli making it possible to have a measure of control on the dream state and permit group dreams. The technology is new, but the player is cheaper than braindance and totally unregulated.
Allison and Nicholas are sharing a few drinks at the bar on the main deck when he puts the moves on her. Even though he is unaware of his true parentage, he has definitely inherited Kyle’s seductive skills. The two are quickly in her cabin locked in a passionate exchange. In the afterglow of their combined sexual exertions Allison takes stock of the situation. This marks a whole new territory of sexual experience. She wasn’t raped or using sex as a ploy to steal from or assassinate her would-be lover. Recreational sex…who knew it could be so good?
Cat sunbathes on the upper deck and otherwise leads a lazy existence that day!
Monday, September 11, 2045:
Kyle investigates I-Corp’s Dream Machine. He and Doc Freeman discuss its possible uses as an interrogation tool and decide that they need to order a machine and pay for the lessons in Dream Tech offered by I-Corp. While investigating the Dream Machine, Kyle comes across a story about the death of Lauren Moffat. Ms. Moffat was the creator of Dixie Cummings, a popular ‘Virtual Vicky’ prostitution program. Lauren was also known as ‘Nightshade’, an infamous netrunner thought to be working for I-Corp. She was found dead hooked up to one of the dream machines. Kyle searches for further information related to Lauren Moffat, Nightshade and I-Corp. At least five other well-known netrunners have died recently in Rio under various circumstances. A few were reputed to be employed by I-Corp. Kyle asks Ricco to use his police contacts and look into these deaths. After warning Nip to be careful, the ex-C.I.A. agent unleashes her on the Net, hoping she will have better luck, tracking down information related to the deaths of the netrunners.
Nip is still busy hounding down leads in the Net when Kane’s cake arrives. As she is otherwise occupied, Nicholas takes the launch to the dock and picks it up. He attempts to deliver it to Victor, but he refuses to open the door to his cabin. Nicholas leaves it in the corridor outside his room.
Cat goes to her workshops and runs a chemical analysis on the small pheromone sample she collected. It is a custom blended creation of which there is no record. As it affects the brain, she saves the last bit and prepares a report for Doc Freeman. Cat whiles away the rest of the afternoon working on her new Lamborghini Demon in the adjoining auto shop. She swaps out the fuel take to make room for a NOX (Nitrous Oxide Boost) System, and then makes arrangements for a custom paint job of her new toy.
Ricco goes to the city morgue to talk to Dr. Luis Serrano, a coroner he knows about one of the dead netrunners. The man is willing to help, but wants some ‘consideration’ for his trouble. Ricco’s wallet is a little thin on ‘consideration’ and as this is a favor for the Team, he calls Kyle. Doc Freeman tags along for the ride downtown.
While Ricco is cooling his heels waiting for Kyle and the Doc to show, a police officer wheels in a body. This is a little unusual as corpses are generally picked up at the scene by morgue attendants. The cop seems none too happy to see the former investigator and asks Ricco what he’s doing there. Ricco replies he is looking into a recent death, then asks what happened, nodding at the corpse. The officer responds glibly, “I scraped this guy off the sidewalk”. His assessment on the cause of death seems at odds with the obvious gunshot wounds.
(GM Note: Every player, except Ricco’s, immediately deduced from the cop’s menacing tone that this was a police killing. I think every gamer has had that moment when they totally miss the point!)
Ricco, being a helpful sort, tells the cop that this doesn’t look like an accident and he will gladly look into this killing and get to the bottom of it. Throwing in, as if an afterthought, “I have powerful friends who can help me.”
The truth of the situation is driven home as the officer slams Ricco into the wall and stuffs his weapon into the Disney investigator’s face. There is a brief conversation concerning ‘life expectancies’ and how many murders in Rio remain unsolved. Ricco apologizes and tells the cop he was mistaken. The cop rolls his ‘accident victim’ into the autopsy room where the offending bullets are removed. The officer leaves with them in a plastic baggie.
Kyle and Doc Freeman arrive, but Ricco is not outside waiting as he is supposed to be. The two enter the morgue and walk up to the attendant. Kyle sees the attendant’s eyes open wide at something behind him, so he turns expecting trouble. There is only Doc Freeman standing there. Oh yes, the attendant recognized the ‘good’ doctor. Infamy has that effect sometimes!
Ricco appears and brings the two back to meet the coroner. As they approach the autopsy room the sound of thick meaty thuds carries through the door. Pushing through the door, they surprise the coronor, who is in mid swing of a sledge hammer’ “adjusting” the corpse to fit the reported cause of death. The coroner freaks out. He is less concerned with being found altering evidence than he is with Ricco’s colleagues learning about the altercation in the hallway. A flash of cash restores his calm. He agrees to meet them later in the evening at a bar in one of the favelas.
You’d have to be blind to miss the ‘killer’ cop leaning against his car parked on a side street across from the entrance to the morgue (with the dash cam pointed at the entrance). Ricco fully explains what happened as they walk away. Kyle heads back to talk with the offended officer. The car is still there, but the cop isn’t. Fearing the worst, the three rush back inside the morgue. In the autopsy room, the cop has the coroner up against the wall with a gun to his head. The weapon quickly swings to cover the door at the sound of its opening. The barrel is pointed directly at Kyle, who remains cool and collected.
The situation is beyond pleasantries, so Kyle opts for the direct approach. “We are not interested in your case at all, but we need this coroner alive. My name is Kyle Vaduva and if you have any idea who we are, know this: Pull that trigger and everyone you care about in the world will be killed before you die a slow and gruesome death yourself!” The officer recognizes the name and seems to know the reputation of the man threatening him. The gun comes down and the officer leaves. Infamy has its privileges!
Kyle calls Cat and Victor Kane (separately) to prepare for the meeting with the coroner later that afternoon. Cat arrives in disguise (using her cybernetic disguise feature), and watches the meet. Victor decides to dress up in his new high fashion ensemble. He purchases a briefcase in which to conceal his 12 gauge shotgun pistol, just in case they need some heavy firepower. Kyle pulls Nip off research duty to run high cover with her remote. Kane deliberately arrives a half an hour early and stands out in the favela bar. His fancy clothes and briefcase speak of money, but his intimidating size keeps any trouble at bay. Cat (in disguise) arrives fifteen minutes later, blending in with locals. Dr. Luis Serrano arrives, looks around, takes one look at the big well-dressed white man with the briefcase and is out the door. Cat heads out the back and intercepts the retreating medical examiner. She identifies herself as a representative of Kyle and suggests they go to another bar. The already nervous coroner just gives her the copies of the autopsies and leaves as quickly as his feet will carry him. Cat takes the papers back to hers and Kyle’s penthouse in Iphanema.
The coroner’s escape is short lived, as he runs into Kyle and Doc Freeman. Kyle inquires as to his current flight from the bar where they were supposed to meet. Haltingly (out of breath) the medical examiner tells him about the large man in the suit. Kyle mentally face-palms (he has a pretty good idea who the menacing figure is) and calmly asks for the files. Dr. Serrano looks as if he is about to have an aneurism as he stumbles over his words trying to explain to this dangerous man that he had just given the files to a woman who said she worked for him. Piecing together the situation (and contacting Cat over the comm to verify), Kyle attempts to calm the medical examiner and assure him that all is well. He hands over the second half of the payment (for the files), which the coroner quickly snatches before fleeing into the falling darkness.
Nip’s voice in the comm warns of a sizable group of locals moving down the street towards the target bar (a welcoming committee from the local gang going to introduce themselves to Victor). Doc Freeman and Kyle quickly head over to collect Victor. They attempt to go out for a celebratory drink (elsewhere in the city) but are refused entrance due to the firearms they are carrying. They finally find a place with a gun check. Nip returns to her research.
Later that day, Ricco talks with a cop buddy at the precinct where the netrunner died. The man tells him the woman appeared to have been electrocuted. Her hair and skin were burnt, the carpet around her chair was damp, and scorch marks surrounded the ports on her neck. Someone apparently took a taser and hooked the house current into her neck. They have no leads on who might have done this. The incident was reported to the cops by people who were online with her at the time.
Ricco learns that two more of the five dead netrunners were electrocuted this way. Another was on a motorcycle and went over the railing. However, this was not an accident. She was probably tazed and her body computer cut out before she was sent over the edge. Ricco reports this information to Kyle and Cat.
Kyle finally arrives home and looks over the coroner’s autopsy information with Cat as they snuggle in bed. They have some questions and call Nip. There is no answer. Concerned, Kyle calls Nicholas and has him look in on her. Nip is out cold still hooked up to her deck. Doc Freeman is called and determines she is in a coma. Nip is rushed to the hospital. The Doc, Kyle, Cat and Nicholas wait at her bedside for her to come out of it.
Tuesday, September 12, 2045:
In the early AM, Doc Freeman and the Disney doctors scan Nip’s brain and find a number of unidentified masses that look like tumors. They are a little hazy on the scan and unlike other brain tumors these show massive brainwave activity. They discuss operating to assess the nature of the masses.
Cat drops into the NET to talk to Fred. The ferret is there. With a little urging, Nip’s ‘imaginary’ friend shares images of the events leading up to Nip’s coma. The recording begins as a typical data dive into the Net, but abruptly goes black. A distorted voice can be heard in the background saying, “Sync 1, sync 2, sync 3………..We are losing conductivity!”
Fred’s next image shows Nip waking up on a gurney in a large operating theater. Scared and disoriented, she flails her head as men in orange bio-hazard suits try to restrain her. To her left and right are Timmy and three other children strapped to similar gurneys. All of their heads are shaved bald. At that point Nip lost consciousness and Fred punched her out of the NET.
All of the children have bar codes tattooed on the back of their heads similar to Nip’s and Fred’s. Cat notices now her two friend’s codes have changed slightly. There are elements of Timmy’s in both codes.
Cat has been postponing her next decision for years. She has suspected for a long time that Nip might be the product of biogenetic experimentation. Nip knew instinctively that Cat was different. Cat had always looked on Nip as almost a younger sister. There are also the bar codes under the hair on the back of Nip’s and Fred’s heads. She makes the decision to call in the Collective, rather than let “mere humans” mess with Nip’s mind. By now Nip is awake from her coma. The young girl has no idea of how or why she is in the hospital and doesn’t remember the images Fred had shown Cat.
(GM Note: These flashes of memories and catatonia were caused by the player botching her interface roll and then rolling a 10 for result.)
The biogen has to face her responsibility as Catlin Prime, a member of the biogenetic Collective’s High Council. The Collective protects all biogens and had saved her. If her suspicions are correct, Nip is one of them, and she is going to make damn sure that they’re going to save her friend too. Within sixteen hours of contacting the Collective, the Vet arrives. The Vet is a 3rd generation Nietzschean doctor/scientist. He shares his species’ dislike of humans. With Kyle’s permission, he examines Nip and his attitude towards the young girl immediately softens. The teenaged cybergoth looks up at this new biogen and asks, “Why are you so big?”
The Vet isn’t unusually large, but Cat realizes that this means Nip knows he is different. The Vet suggests taking her to the Martian station at Earth’s L-3 point (left behind when the Galileo cylinder transitioned to Mars orbit). The station is equipped with advanced diagnostic tools. Cat talks Kyle into letting the two go. Her lover instinctually fears the Nietzschean and knew he has to be another biogen, but he trusts his Cat. Arrangements are quickly made for Nip, Cat, Doc Freeman and Allison to catch a shuttle tomorrow. The Collective puts its resources into discovering if Nip is a new species of biogenetic creature.
Ricco gets offered a small non-speaking part in Henrique’s new pilot. Henrique brings Ricco to wardrobe and gives his grateful friend a couple of sets of nice, new clothes.
Episode 42: All’s Well That Goes Awry
A local thug tries to muscle in on Nico’s ganja business. Victor is told to throw a race. Nip goes into space and learns she is a biogenetic construct. Kyle discovers that I-Corp has run afoul of an old C.I.A./Gang of Four plot that endangers everyone that comes too close. Colin Hughes invites everyone to a party at the races and Henrique invites everyone to be in the final scene of his new pilot and attend the party following.
Dr. Luis Serrano: A deputy coroner with the Rio de Janeiro’s Coroner’s Office, who Ricco knows.
Ernesto Cruz: Nico’s direct superior in his gang and a stone cold psycho.
Felipe Torres: The older brother of Ricco Torres. Felipe is a high ranking member of the Red Command.
Hector Benetiz: the head of Disney security in Rio.
Henrique: A former Favela drug lord who has taken a government amnesty offer and gotten out of the drug business. The man now runs a media company which works with Disney and a mini-venture capitalist firm that gives micro-loans to favela residents so they can rise from poverty. It is suspected he is positioning himself to enter politics. He and Ricco Torres grew up together with Ricco being the younger ‘brother’. Henrique used to belong to a Brazilian pop group manufactured by a record company. When his voice changed he was fired and thrown back into the favela where he rose to the top of the local gang.
Nico: Garage owner and local ganja wholesaler from Favela Caminho do Lucio. Victor races for him.
Pedro de Costa: An up and coming gang leader in the Third Command in charge of Favela Barrio Nova Alianca.
R. Maximillian (II): President and CEO of I-Corp.
Roger Kincaid: the Disney executive in charge of the political situation in Rio.
The Vet: A 3rd generation Nietzschean doctor/scientist. He shares his species’ dislike of humans.
Wednesday, September 13, 2045:
Cat, Nip, Doc Freeman, Allison and the Vet leave Rio aboard the C-23 Sherpa bound for the Alcantara Spaceport in northern Brazil. On arrival a shuttle waits to take them to the new L-3 point station owned by the Martian Republic. Cat whiles away the time spending 9 hours updating her Killer VI program.
Kyle and Ricco take over researching the five dead netrunners.
Ricco visits his ‘buddy’, Dr. Serrano, the coroner and learns more details about the netrunner whose bike went over the cliff. The motorcycle was a hybrid gas/electric. The heat of the fire was more intense than could have been caused by the bike alone. It’s likely that an accelerant was used. However, this is all conjecture, as there’s no budget to investigate further. Official story is that the bike fell over the cliff and exploded when it hit the ground. And more importantly, ‘someone above’ killed the investigation.
Victor puts in time at Nico’s garage working on the race car. While in the storeroom, grabbing parts, he overhears a man threatening Nico. The Runner foregoes an opportunity to cautiously observe the situation, opting to boldly walk back into the garage; carrying a box of parts. His abrupt entrance draws the attention of one of the two gunmen confronting Nico.
Victor is quickly facing down the barrel of a large handgun. Trying to act as non-threatening as possible, he drops the parts and raises his hands. The other gunman barely acknowledges the interruption. He continues to recline against a nearby workbench, cradling his shotgun, looking disinterested in the whole affair. Victor notes a third man sitting calmly against the hood of the race car.
“Anyone else back there?” he inquires.
Victor recognizes his voice as the one that had been threatening Nico. The runner suspects that this may be the leader of the shake-down crew. He does his best to appear harmless and helpful with his answers. It looks like they may get out of this confrontation unscathed; then the gunman, who had been covering him, recognizes Victor.
“Hey Pedro, that’s the cacete (prick) from the race!”
Across the garage, Nico winces as if expecting to eat a bullet any second. From the change in his interrogator’s demeanor, Victor is pretty sure that he must be Pedro. Anger clouds Pedro’s face. He explains to the pair that they owe him R$ 5000; the money he lost on the race. Victor has another race this Saturday. Pedro expects him to throw it.
The runner quickly refuses, saying “I don’t throw races.” Rather than resorting to threats, Pedro turns to Nico, “Talk to your boy.” With a promise of seeing the pair on Saturday, the extortionists depart.
Once the three are gone, Victor turns on Nico, calling him a ‘pussy’ and demanding to know why he didn’t stand up to those thugs. Exasperated, Nico asks,” I was outnumbered and unarmed. What did you expect me to do?”
Though pissed, he is careful not to mention Victor’s own inaction during the confrontation. The garage owner points out that the runner can leave at any time, but he lives here.
Nico’s crew returns to the garage and tries to decide what to do. The suggestion is floated of going to see Cruz. Nico pales and quickly dismisses the idea. Victor susses from the discussion that Cruz is Nico’s boss. He keeps pressing the idea, till an obviously frightened Nico finally exclaims, “Cruz is fucking psycho. He’ll start a war.”
Undeterred, the runner cajoles Nico into going to see his boss. Ernesto Cruz lives on an armed compound outside Rio. His hacienda is more bunker than house. Rather than displaying concern over the attempted shake-down, he seems overjoyed. Victor speaks up, “I won’t throw the race, so Pedro will come back to Nico’s garage for revenge.” Nico is obviously uncomfortable. Usually Cruz would rebuke an underling for speaking out of turn, but the runner’s declaration is music to his ears. Smiling, he promises Nico that he’ll take care of his problem. The garage owner’s discomfort turns to fear.
Back at the garage, Victor asks Nico if he knows anyone who could get him some guns. The garage owner lines up a meet. Victor buys two handguns and an SMG. The weapons are already being purchased at a premium. His request to have them smartlinked only drive the price up further. The runner ends up spending R$ 48,000 (8000 eb).
(GM Note: The player assumed that these weapons were untraceable, but that isn’t the case. These are second hand weapons. The serial numbers have been filed off, but the gun runner hadn’t bothered to take the time or incur the added expense of swapping out the barrels.)
Victor informs Kyle about what happened at the garage and the impending shoot out.
Thursday, September 14, 2045:
Cat spends kills more time updating the programs for her deck. She finishes the update on her Killer VI (10 hours) and begins work on an Asp (5 hours).
Kyle and Ricco continue their research on the five dead netrunners.
Friday, September 15, 2045:
The shuttle arrives at the L-3 point, just after midnight (Rio time). Nip is transferred directly from the shuttle to the medical bay. Armed with the advanced diagnostics of the medical suite, Doc Freeman and the Vet begin their tests. Allison uses her time in space to undergo (Deep Space) Muscle Enhancement. Cat trains on a Sega-Atari Teacher learning the basics of operating in space (Zero-G Maneuver +1). In her spare time she continues to update the programs of her cyberdeck.
Kyle visits Henrique to discuss Pedro and his crew. The former drug lord tells him that Pedro de Costa is with the Third Command. Henrique is concerned. There is supposed to be a truce. Brokering peace between the gangs is his legacy and helped earn his amnesty from prosecution. Henrique suggests planting evidence in Pedro’s headquarters then using the BOPE’s to take care of their problem. Kyle is concerned that involving the elite force of the military police might blow up in their face. He thanks Henrique for his information and suggestions. As almost an afterthought, Kyle mentions the altercation in the morgue. Henrique is highly interested in the cop who threatened his friend (Ricco).
After leaving Henrique, Kyle meets with Roger Kincaid to discuss I-Corp. As the executive in charge of Disney’s political operations in Brazil, Kincaid is privy to the Team’s mission. According to his sources, I-Corp has not aligned with any faction. Kyle proposes courting R. Maximillian as a political ally. The plan is short on details, but the prospect of gaining the support of the megacorporation is too tempting. Kincaid gives his approval, but advises Kyle to proceed cautiously.
Kyle’s next meeting is with Hector Benetiz. The head of Disney Security listens quietly as Kyle relates Henrique’s suggested course of action for dealing with Pedro and his crew. It is clear that Hector does not care for the plan or the man who proposed it. As a former BOPE, he has contacts that could arrange such a raid, but he strongly recommends against it. While leaving the security office, Kyle realizes that many of the security personnel are former BOPEs, like their boss.
Victor’s guns arrive. Having made a mint on the sale, the dealer ‘generously’ throws in a pair of shoulder holsters (for the pistols) and two boxes of ammo.
Saturday, September 16, 2045:
At the L-3 point station, Doc Freeman and the Vet continue working on Nip. They discuss performing a biopsy on one of the brain growths. Cat nixes the idea for fear it could damage her friend. They must make do with noninvasive scanning methods.
Race day in the Favela Bordo do Mato: Kyle stands with Nico as a show of support. Pedro pays him no heed, having failed to recognize the ex-C.I.A. agent and notorious edgerunner. His attitude quickly changes as one of his men hastily whispers the identity of Nico’s new ‘friend’ in his ear. Pedro calculates the chances of a double cross when he is informed of Victor’s R$ 2000 bet (on himself). He makes a call, to ready his contingency plan.
Victor’s opponent kicks in the nitrous straight off the line. The system malfunctions, damaging his engine severely. Victor has the race in the bag, till he misjudges a turn and is forced to go off the track or slam into a wall. His mistake gives the other driver a chance to get back in the race. Victor races back to the turn, but in his haste, overshoots it once again. It’s a quick turn around, but even with the pedal to the floor, the runner can’t make up the distance he’s lost. Smoking and sputtering, the other driver urges his car across the finish line, just ahead of Kane.
The loss stings, but goes a long way towards repairing his reputation with the local racing community. Being gracious in defeat gains him grudging respect and a new friend in his former opponent. With his performance on the track and the sizable bet he wagered on himself, no one, besides the Team and Pedro’s crew, even considers the possibility that Kane threw the race.
Pedro is overjoyed by his winnings and calls off the attack on Nico’s garage. He even stops by to congratulate the garage owner on making a “wise choice”, on the way to collect his winnings.
Sunday, September 18, 2045:
In space the tests continue and Cat keeps working on her Zero-G Maneuver skill.
Victor Kane goes to the same church. The mysterious priests are not at the mass.
Monday, September 19, 2045:
Allison finishes her Muscle Enhancement therapy. Doc and the Vet conclude their tests. Unlike a Kimura biogen, Nip’s genetic code is nearly indistinguishable from human, but there are subtle differences. She is welcomed into the Collective as a new type of biogen. The masses in her brain emit an energy field, which allows her to connect to the NET. How and why they work is not known but the Collective and Doc Freeman have collected reams of data.
In the early afternoon, the shuttle begins its return trip to Earth with everyone from the Team onboard. Cat works on her Zero-G Maneuver (+2).
Tuesday, September 20, 2045:
Cat works on her Zero-G Maneuver +2 in the shuttle and continues Nip’s introduction to the Collective.
Colin Hughes invites the Team to a party at the Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet this Saturday. The party is to introduce Petrochem Racing Team’s newest driver.
Ricco learns about the death of the fifth netrunner, who either fell or jumped off the balcony of a building. This netrunner, handle of Rater8, had contacted two friends about 2 days before apparently committing suicide. Apparently, Rater8 was frightened, but it’s not yet known about what. Ricco gets the handles of the two friends so they can be contacted for more information.
Wednesday, September 21, 2045:
The shuttle lands around 1 am, at the Alcantara Spaceport (Brazil). The returning Team members are able to catch a couple of hours of sleep before the C-23 Sherpa arrives. Kyle meets the plane on its return to Rio at the airport and takes them back to the Windfall. Those not on hand are contacted to gather for a Team meeting in 1 hour.
Cat gives Kyle a private ‘debriefing’. The pair is so deep in the throes of passion, they forget about the Team meeting. The two show up twenty minutes late, slightly disheveled and reeking of sex.
The Team members who went into orbit are brought up to speed on what has happened while they were gone. Ricco is sent out of the room to ‘get coffee’ while the rest of the Team discuss highly illegal possible actions. Cat is against the group getting involved in a gang war between Nico and Pedro, but if they are drawn into the conflict, they need to gather more intel. Ricco is directed to use his contacts to track down Pedro de Costa’s gang and discover where they hang out.
Kyle and Cat call I-Corp to request a meeting with R. Maximillian. They are granted an interview on Friday at 11 am.
Thursday, September 21, 2045:
Cat upgrades the brakes on her Lamborghini Demon then sets up her chemistry lab to produce (6 kilos) homemade TNT.
Hector contacts Kyle with some concerning information. Pedro has been on a recruiting drive. He’s added 10 new members to his seven man crew. The gang lord has also secured the services of six “Riot Boys”.
Instead of just gathering information, Ricco passes along his belief that the Team plans to take out Pedro and his gang, to his gangster brother, Felipe Torres. If the Team eliminates Pedro the gang truce wouldn’t be broken, but could still open up opportunities. Felipe is cautious, but asks Ricco to give him a heads up if they make a move on Pedro.
Friday, September 22, 2045:
Victor is tapped to chauffer Kyle and Cat to I-Corp’s offices in Rio. They are directed to the underground parking structure beneath the corporate tower. The attendant in the security booth at the entrance to the garage is the only human guard they see, but it is apparent they are being carefully watched. The guard directs Victor to follow the lighted pathway to their designated spot. He stringently advises the runner not to deviate from the path.
Kyle tells Victor to stay in the car. The runner flatly refuses. “I’m your bodyguard, I’m coming with you.”
Kyle is mildly annoyed by Victor’s open defiance of his orders. He finds the runner to be a tactless brute, definitely not a person you bring to delicate negotiations. Knowing that verbal abuse or physical force would be a waste of time, he tries to reason with Victor. “Do you think there is anything you could do if they decide to kill us?”
The words sink in and the runner relents. He isn’t happy, but he stays in the car.
Another illuminated line greets Cat and Kyle as they exit the vehicle. They are directed to an express elevator, which swiftly takes them to the top floor. A small security team greets them as the doors open. The pair is escorted to the doors of R. Maximillian’s office. The room beyond is cavernous. Floor to ceiling fish tanks line the walls. The diffused light given off suffuses the room in an aquamarine glow. R. Maximillian sits in a high-backed leather chair behind the only other piece of furniture visible in the room. The enormous antique desk rests atop a raised dais at the far end of the room. The chamber is more audience hall than corporate office.
R. Maximillian is not alone. His ever-present bodyguard stands respectfully to the left of his chair. Viola balances languidly on the corner of the desk. The CEO greets the pair and bids them approach. There is an oddity to R. Maximillian’s voice that raises an instinctual warning in Cat. Since they first stepped onto the elevator the biogen has been straining her augmented senses for any hint of danger or subterfuge.
As the CEO continues to speak, she realizes that the voice is right, but there is no echo. Cat concentrates even more intently on her surroundings. Several fish in the tanks display a subtle ‘wrongness’ that draws her attention. Their movements are close to natural, but slightly off. She suspects that they are artificial.
(GM Note: The fish are indeed artificial. They are semi-autonomous drones used to monitor activity in the room. Few people would be able to notice the subtle differences to actual living fish. Cat can thank her heightened senses and a peculiar feline predatory obsession of watching (stalking) fish in fish tanks for being able to spot these fakes.)
Cat fears that they are being set up, but continues to walk with Kyle towards R. Maximillian and his companions. She relaxes somewhat when the trio is close enough for her to smell. Their scents are the same as on the boat. She and her lover aren’t out of the woods, but at least they aren’t walking into a trap.
The CEO inquires as to their health and offers them refreshments. Rising from behind his desk, he gestures to a blank spot of floor, inviting them to “make yourselves comfortable.” Squatting on the floor isn’t their idea of comfort, but as if bidden by its master, the surface begins to deform, shaping itself into a sunken living room.
After refreshments and exchanging pleasantries, R. Maximillian (II) brings the subject around to the reason for their visit. As preface they bring up the recent string of deaths within the netrunner community of Rio. The news of the deaths is obviously not a revelation to the CEO. Cat explains that they had investigated these deaths out of concern for the safety of their own netrunner (Nip) in the local NET. When it came to light that the netrunners may have been connected to I-Corp, they thought the fruits of their investigation might be useful.
“So you’re here to help me?” R. Maximillian’s tone is mildly ironic.
Cat quickly adds, “We can help you find whoever had the nerve to do this.”
“Really?” The question is delivered in the same mildly ironic, conversational tone, but the predatory look in the CEOs eyes is enough to raise hairs on the back of her neck. Cat realizes that they may have miscalculated. R. Maximillian already has two suspects in mind and they are sitting right in front of him!
(GM Note: Unknown to Cat, years ago her father’s team blackmailed R. Maximillian (I). His son was looking for someone with C.I.A. connections who would have the cojones to screw with him and into Rio’s harbor sails the Windfall with some very viable candidates.)
Kyle picks up on the growing tension in the room. It is clear that this meeting could end very badly for the two of them. The tactic quickly turns from why you should work with us, to why you shouldn’t kill us. The pair falls back on their reputation. A number of the netrunners had been tortured before being murdered. Cat points out that they have never tortured or killed anyone as cold bloodedly as that.
Their words and actions are being monitored by a host of sensors and specialized analysts. R. Maximillian accepts their innocence, for the time being. He agrees to let the Team investigate. If the intel they provide proves useful, I-Corp will support Disney’s political position. It is a victory for him either way.
Now that they are ‘working for him’, R. Maximillian fills in some of the gaps in the Team’s intelligence. He confirms that two that the five netrunners were part of a cyber-intrusion team hired by I-Corp. Their target was a transport company called Fabrini Air. The CEO wanted to verify the viability of the company before attempting a hostile takeover.
R. Maximillian shows them telemetry from the cyber-assault. The NET team successfully penetrated the company’s data fortress and was halfway through copying their financial data, when they accessed a file named: Red Rook. Suddenly 12 netrunners dropped into the NET and attacked. Examining the telemetry data, Kyle and Cat realize that at least 5 were A.I. ‘ghosts’.
Within a week all of the netrunners on the mission had been killed. Any investigations had been hushed up from on high.
When shown the picture of the four men from the dock (after the party on the Windfall), the I-Corp CEO identifies them as ex-C.I.A. Kyle recognizes several of the names mentioned but says nothing in front of R. Maximillian. Armed with this additional information, Kyle and Cat promise to investigate further and leave.
Kyle withholds what he knows until they have dropped off Victor. Once he and Cat are safely back in their Ipanema penthouse, the ex-C.I.A. agent lets her know the shit they’ve stepped into. Kyle has always been a history buff. Back in his days with the agency, he made a habit of perusing old files. Project Red Rook and Fabrini Air were both in the files.
Fabrini Air was a front for The Company. It ran black flights for the C.I.A. Project Red Rook was a Cold War project tasked with building deep bunkers and secret installations around the world. Movement of equipment and personal for Red Rook was coordinated through Fabrini Air. When the Gang of Four was dismantled, a lot of agents died or simply disappeared. No longer being funded by the black budget, Fabrini Air became a legitimate shipping and transportation company.
Kyle is uncertain if R. Maximillian’s identification of the men on the dock can be trusted. One of the men R. Maximillian identified as an agent was reported dead more than 20 years ago. He is honored with a star on the wall at Langley. If the man was actually still alive, he would be in his seventies.
Both agree that it was for the best that Kyle didn’t reveal this information in front of R. Maximillian. The CEO had just begun to trust them. Divulging such potential explosive intel too quickly could potentially renew his suspicion of the Team. There is also the worry of who else might be listening. It is obvious that they are already watching R. Maximillian and I-Corp. Why let a gang of hoary old C.I.A. killers know that you may be on to them, especially since they appear to have deep connections with the Brazilian government.
Kyle and Cat realize that looking too deeply into this could easily get them killed. The two decide to wait a few days, and then report what they have ‘found’ to R. Maximillian. After that they want nothing to do with this. The pair cracks open a bottle of champagne, slides into their pool and rejoice in still being alive.
Episode 43: Two Parties and a Psycho
The Team attends a party at the Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet where Colin Hughes, Victor Kane’s personal nemesis, is introducing the newest member of the Petrochem racing team, a former Rio street racer. Colin easily gets Victor to act out and continues his successful campaign to destroy the runner’s reputation and brand him as an unstable and unreliable driver. Allison attracts Colin’s attention and the two get to know each other. Nip mistakenly gets an autograph and Ricco meets an old girlfriend from his past.
Pedro de Costa’s gang gets their HQ bugged. Victor finds out just how big a psycho Cruz is now that the unstable gang leader considers the runner to be working for him.
Alex Heidel: A cyberdeck designer from EBM.
Arabella Seurat: A boutique car designer from Brittany, France and friend of Colin Hughes.
Colin Hughes: He is a (senior) executive from Petrochem on assignment in Rio de Janeiro. The man is from Victor Kane’s life path. Kane and Colin vied for the affections of Marybeth Bascom, daughter of Texas US Senator Howard Bascom. All three young people were “gear heads”. Kane beat out Colin, who arranged Kane’s separation from his job at Petrochem.
Ernesto Cruz: Nico’s direct superior in the Red Command and a stone cold psycho.
Hector Benetiz: the head of Disney security in Rio.
Henrique: A former Favela drug lord who has taken a government amnesty offer and gotten out of the drug business. The man now runs a media company which works with Disney and a mini-venture capitalist firm that gives micro-loans to favela residents so they can rise from poverty. It is suspected he is positioning himself to enter politics. He and Ricco Torres grew up together with Ricco being the younger ‘brother’. Henrique used to belong to a Brazilian pop group manufactured by a record company. When his voice changed he was fired and thrown back into the favela where he rose to the top of the local gang.
Nico: Garage owner and local ganja wholesaler from Favela Caminho do Lucio. Victor races for him.
Pedro de Costa: An up and coming gang leader in the Third Command.
Saturday, September 23, 2045:
In the morning, Cat spends R$ 420 to update her cyberdeck (updates to Armor, Deckshield One and Phone Home programs). Afterwards she calls to make appointments for Allison, Nip and herself at Body Cure (for Sunday afternoon).
Kyle contacts Ricco to ask that he concentrate on finding out where Pedro de Costa lives. With a little time before the party at Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet, the former detective hits the streets. His travels take him to some rather funky locales. Even though he changes clothes before heading to the track, Ricco fails to wash away the smells of his journey. (The player botched a personal grooming roll). The complex bouquet of ‘eau du street’ makes it difficult to strike up a conversation at the party.
Meanwhile a dapperly dressed Nicholas pulls up to the dock to pick up Allison and Nip in his new Gazlada Scarpi (sports car). Kyle and Cat arrive by air in their Jaguar XKF (AV3). Everyone has decided to attend Colin’s party, even Victor. He catches a cab to the Autodromo with Doc Freeman.
Petrochem has rented a large private box in the upper levels of the stands. The guest list is a who’s who in Rio racing, mixed with an assortment of powerful corporate execs, local celebrities and government officials. Nicholas and Allison arrive with Nip. The two inadvertently abandon the netrunner as they split up to mingle with the other guests. Seeing Allison, Ricco makes his way over to say hello. Her eyes begin to water as he approaches. The stench he exudes is almost palpable. With nary a greeting she continues past trying to disappear into the crowd. Once at a safe distance, she calls the odiferous investigator to clue him in. Thankful but still embarrassed, Ricco quickly exits the party.
Nip is convinced that one of the guests is the star of her favorite NET show (the player actually botched an awareness roll then rolled a 9 for result). She begins to obsess over meeting him, unintentionally stalking him through the crowd of guests.
Kyle and Cat arrive and begin to mingle. Sam Fisher (Cat’s ‘father’) comes up in conversation. As the topic turns to his current stretch in prison, she walks away. Elsewhere in the crowd, Allison is trolling for a rich and unattached suitor. She and Colin Hughes run into each other and renew their acquaintance.
A freshly washed and changed Ricco returns at about the same time that Doc Freeman and Victor Kane finally show up. Catching sight of Colin, Kane begins to grouse, to the obviously disinterested neurosurgeon. The runner intends his ‘bitch fest’ to be a private conversation, but his voice carries. The pair is quickly drawing the attention of those around them. Doc Freeman moves away, in an attempt to dissociate himself from the ‘quietly’ fuming runner. Hoping to drive home his point to the quickly retreating doctor, Kane finishes with, “He’s an asshole!”
This unfolding scene is too rich an opportunity to pass up. Colin, having taken note of the runner’s arrival, chooses this moment to walk over and welcome Victor to his party. With Allison on his arm, he jovially converses with the obviously aggravated driver. The Petrochem executive’s subtle jibes goad the runner into another verbal sparring duel. As before, Victor is overmatched. The worst part for the runner is the satisfied smile on the face of his rival.
Colin lands one last stabbing remark, before disengaging from the conversation to mingle with his other guests. Turning his back to Victor, the exec begins to walk off with Allison. The runner reflexively grabs a drink from a passing tray and throws it at his rival. Colin and Allison are doused by the fruity cocktail. Ricco steps between Colin and Victor to diffuse the confrontation. He attempts to exert his authority, but neither is cowed.
Security lurks nearby but does not intervene. Rather than rising to Victor’s provocation the Petrochem exec turns to console a shocked and angry Allison. The runner is left standing there seething in impotent fury. Cat quietly tells Victor to leave, but the runner doesn’t move. Feeling justified in his actions, he refuses to be dismissed. The look of murder in her eyes and Cat’s promise of violence if he doesn’t withdraw immediately quickly quashes his resolve. As a parting shot, the runner spits at the feet of his rival, before storming out of the room.
Colin’s victory is complete. Not only has he made the runner look like a fool, he has destroyed any chance Victor might have had of breaking into the legitimate racing community of Brazil. That his allies came to his defense, instead of supporting the runner, is just an added bonus.
Still fuming, Victor hails a cab and tells the cabbie to take him to a bar where ‘drivers’ hang at. He watches the race taking place at the Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet while sitting alone and drinking. Colin for his part arranges for a new dress to be brought from the Windfall to Allison. He makes sure all her needs are attended to and comes out as the hero of the entire incident.
Nip has been trying to work up the courage to go over and speak with the NET star. She finally catches him alone and pounces. Squealing with delight, the cyber-goth unleashes a torrent of compliments and questions as she closes in on the target of her affections. The netrunner’s mouth is unable to keep up the frenetic pace of her brain. Coupled with a rudimentary knowledge of Portuguese, Nip’s rapid fire delivery is all but incomprehensible.
The young man smiles and nods while trying to back away. His grasp of Portuguese is even worse than Nip’s, which he would tell her, if she would let him. The netrunner’s verbal onslaught continues, till the young man unknowingly agrees to give her his autograph. Letting out another high pitched squeal, Nip reaches to her hip for her cyberdeck. With its small compact size, the EBM PNI 724 could easily be mistaken for a holstered handgun (at a quick glance).
The man’s bodyguard reacts, moving to disarm Nip. A curt gesture from his employer brings him up short. The netrunner is completely oblivious to this exchange, but Cat isn’t. Curious and concerned for her friend, she walks over to join the conversation. As she approaches, Cat notes that the young man is speaking to his bodyguard in German. She switches the language of her greeting accordingly.
Recognition and relief flood the young man’s face. He imploringly asks Cat if she speaks Portuguese. “She has been talking for 5 minutes and I have no idea what she’s saying” (indicating Nip). Cat explains her friend’s infatuation, inciting amused laughter. The young man introduces himself as Alex Heidel, quickly adding that he was not laughing at the netrunner, but the absurdity of the situation.
“I helped design that deck.”
Alexl goes on to explain that he works for EBM. One of the few phrases he was able to catch in Nip’s over eager rant was “I love your work”. He assumed she was referring to her cyberdeck, which the netrunner is still sheepishly offering up to be signed. Alexl was surprised to be recognized or to meet such an exuberant fan of his work. He was flattered.
Unable to speak German, Nip finds herself in a situation not that dissimilar to the predicament Alexl experienced minutes before. She looks expectantly from the deck designer to Cat. Both agree to carry on the charade. Alexl graciously signs the strap of Nip’s cyberdeck, signing the NET star’s name. He also promises to send a gift bag (swag bag) of EMB promotional merchandise.
Elsewhere in the room, Ricco is searching for some female companionship. He zeros in on a pretty wallflower and tries to strike up a conversation. She doesn’t seem impressed but continues to talk with the investigator. Emboldened, Ricco turns on the charm. The woman suddenly excuses herself and begins to walk away. She offers some advice as she departs.
“You should really ask a person’s name when you start a conversation. It might make them think you’re interested in them as a person.”
Ricco takes this advice to heart, but the women here seem a little out of his league. He decides to talk up one of the cocktail waitresses, who is surprised, but responsive. While the investigator works around to inviting her to a ‘private’ after party, Kyle and Cat receive an odd request from one of the other guests. The woman introduces herself as Vena. She has taken notice of Ricco and asks if they will introduce her.
When the waitress leaves to refill her drink tray Kyle brings Vena over. There’s something oddly familiar about her that Ricco just can’t place. Kyle excuses himself to allow the two to converse privately. The investigator quickly warms to Vena’s unapologetic flirtations. Everything is going swimmingly, till she throws him a curve. “A waitress? Your standards used to be higher.” It’s not her playful chiding that stops him in his tracks. She looks very different from the last time Ricco saw her, but that knowing smirk is instantly recognizable. Vena is in actuality his old girlfriend, Vera.
The ex-cop doesn’t pry into what she’s doing at the party. Given her criminal past, he really doesn’t want to know. The two catch up on old times. When Vena (Vera) spies the waitress returning, she makes her farewells and departs. Ricco’s ex whispers something in the waitress’ ear as the two pass. The poor girl nearly drops her tray in shock. Vera looks back at Ricco and winks.
The race begins. Many guests move to their seats. Colin sits with Allison, Cat and Arabella Seurat (the wallflower Ricco never bothered to get the name of). The French woman is a boutique car designer and friend of Colin. Neither the race nor conversation holds her interest. She is completely absorbed by the plans on her data pad.
Arabella defensively clutches the pad to her chest, after catching Allison looking over her shoulder. The young designer doesn’t mince words when telling the young prowler what she thinks of snoops and loose women. The words may be lost on Allison, but she doesn’t need to speak French to get the gist of Arabella’s remark.
“Ella. Be nice,” Colin playfully scolds. Cat tries to diffuse the situation by asking to see her work (in impeccable French). Arabella is dismissive, saying the designs would be beyond them. With some coaxing from Colin, she finally relents. The young designer is shocked that Cat not only understands her work but asks highly technical questions. The two begin conversing rapidly in French, completely ignoring Allison and Colin. The Petrochem executive uses the time to get to know the alluring young woman.
The party is a huge success. Everyone has a good time, except Victor, who finds his own fun at the race bar. Kyle and Cat warn Doc Freeman about the dangers of traveling by cab, especially alone. (kidnapping risk). The biogen suggests he buy a car.
“You’re a powerful corporate executive for god sake! Buy a car!”
He and Nip catch a ride home with the couple. Nicholas drove off with his ‘lady du jour’, while Allison was escorted back to the boat by Colin, abandoning the netrunner yet again. Ricco waits for his waitress to finish up, then the two head off together.
Sunday, September 24, 2045:
Victor goes to church. Cat orders a full security sweep both electronic and visual of the Windfall and her and Kyle’s penthouse apartment. Allison, Cat and Nip go to Body Cure to look their best for the final shoot (and wrap party) of Henrique’s pilot.
The team is on mission that evening, to bug the headquarters of Pedro de Costa’s gang. Victor drops Kyle, Cat and Allison off at the outskirts of the favela. Nip’s drone flies high cover, monitoring movement near the building. The mission is a cakewalk. Security is all but nonexistent. There are a few men up, but not particularly watchful. A dog in the building is drugged, but was sleeping for the most part anyway so that doesn’t tip off the less than watchful guards. An ancient computer sits on the countertop. There is no hard drive, but Kyle suggests that they may be using a nano-comp. They could be using the guts of the old computer to access the (flash drive sized) microcomputer. The ex-C.I.A. agent taps the ports just in case they plug in.
The team successfully exfiltrates from the favela and returns to the Windfall.
Monday, September 25, 2045:
The Team all shows up for the shoot. Ricco asks to speak to Henrique and informs him of the problems the Team is having with Nico, Cruz and Pedro. The news ruins Henrique’s good mood. He promises to look into the situation after the party.
Allison, Cat and Nip have arrived dressed for the party scene. Allison and Cat are immediately cleared by the director. Nip’s ‘fashion sense’ clashes with the decor. With some coaxing from her friends, the young netrunner agrees to a makeover and wardrobe change.
After numerous takes, the last shot is in the can. Henrique stands up and thanks the entire cast and crew. He gives a brief speech, before ending with, “Now let’s party.” Craft services rolls in refreshments. The producer is all smiles as he works his way through the crowd towards Cat. He asks to speak with her in private.
Once alone, Henrique asks about Cruz and Pedro. The biogen downplays the situation, “we have it well in hand”. Cat is less concerned with the gang leaders, than she is with Ricco discussing Team business with outsiders. She worries that the investigator may have divided loyalties.
Victor hangs out on the set with some of the stunt drivers. They talk cars and racing. The runner is asked if he might be interested in doing some stunt work for a (very) low budget movie, filming around Rio. Kane tells them that he is definitely interested.
When everyone returns to the Windfall, Cat asks to speak to Ricco privately. She gives the investigator a choice. He can do his job one of two ways. As a Disney liaison, he can keep his primary loyalty to Disney and report everything that they plan to his corporate superiors, or he can trust that everything the Team is doing is in the corporation’s best interest. “We may sometimes have to do things that Disney can’t officially approve of. In fact, we have been hired to do things that the corporation just doesn’t want to know about.”
Ricco chooses to be fully informed and not report anything without Cat or Kyle’s explicit permission. Cat moves on to Ricco’s conversations with Henrique. Again, she makes it quite clear that any discussion of the Team’s actions, problems or plans with anyone outside the group is forbidden. In the politest way possible she makes it clear that if it happens again, they will have to ‘terminate’ their relationship. Her meaning is clear.
Tuesday, September 26, 2045:
In the morning Kyle calls I-Corp to set up an appointment with R. Maximillian. Victor is contacted by Cruz, who invites the runner to his hacienda for a meeting. When the runner tells him he has no way to get there, Cruz sends a car. Kane meets them away from the landing dock.
Victor arrives at Cruz’s hacienda and is relieved of his firearms. He is ushered into the boss’s presence. The crime lord is not happy. He accuses Kane of throwing the race and asks if the runner knows why there have been ‘inquiries’ into ‘his’ business. Cruz absently waves around a large caliber revolver as he rants about disloyalty.
The crime lord strides towards the back of the house. Kane is urged by the two stone faced men, standing behind him, to follow. Out on the back lawn, a man is strung up between two posts. He has obviously been brutally tortured.
Fearing that he might be the next one strung between the posts, Victor admits he talked to Kyle. Cruz loses control and shoots the injured man. The crime lord makes it clear that Victor works for Nico, which means he works for him. Talk about his business again and well….
Cruz tells the runner that he can make up for his indiscretion, before turning to casually shoot the tortured man in the head. He gives Kane the name of a banker that ripped him off; embezzling R$ 500,000 (83,333 eb). Cruz expects Victor to make the man pay up. The runner silently nods.
The psychotic crime lord cuts off the dead man’s genitals. He keeps the man’s penis, but puts the testicles in Kane’s hand. Squeezing the runner’s hand close around the balls, Cruz smiles and leaves Victor with these parting words, “Give these to the banker when you see him and tell him his brother says hi.”
With a dismissive wave Cruz turns back to the corpse, machete in hand, and sets about breaking down the carcass. The runner is driven back to the dock. The return trip is made in complete silence. Victor holds the bloody testicles in his hand during the entire ride.
On the launch back to the yacht, a sailor offers Victor a baggie for his ‘trophy’. It is gratefully accepted. Kane finds Cat and shows her the bag. She is shocked. He explains what happened. Cat calls in Ricco to find out more about Cruz. This is the first time those two had met since the race party and Kane is still raw about Ricco interfering in his confrontation with Colin. The driver keeps calling the ex-cop, “pig”. Ricco tells him to stop, but Kane persists. Ricco suggests to Kane that they “settle this man to man.” Cat tells the pair to settle it outside on the foredeck. No lethal strikes or weapons allowed.
Nip sees them squaring off on the security cameras and blasts the mortal combat theme over the ship’s loudspeakers. Ricco acquits himself well, but is beaten down by the ex-corporate soldier. He yields and promises to stay out of Kane’s business. Cat now has a handle on each one’s hand to hand combat ability.
After the fight, the biogen has a private word with the runner, “My mother was a cop and if I hear you calling anyone a pig, next time you’ll be facing me.”
Cat has the testicles given to Doc Freeman who puts them in a limb preservation kit. Victor is told to turn off his phone and take the battery out. For now he is restricted to the ship until they come up with a plan to deal with Cruz.