Episode 11 – Extraction in Lebanon




It’s a race to extract the package from Lebanon. The backup team moves into position at the Park Hotel in Chtuaura. They enjoy their ‘fakation’ (a little too much) while the infiltration unit penetrates the refugee camp near El Marj. Sacrifices are made. Success comes with costs.



War has erupted on the European Continent. The long running Czech Civil War exploded as the EU, who finally had enough of Poland’s support for the rebel Free Czech Army, sought a quick victory over the Polish nation in the spring of 2050. A resurgent Germany promised a quick victory, but the Blitzkrieg of 1939 was not repeated. The Polish Army resisted with fierceness and courage that surprised the EU forces. Russia and Belarus came to the defense of their Slavic brothers and sisters with ‘volunteers’ pouring in from those nations. The EU response was to attempt to destroy Russia’s warships of the Rocket Corps. The Komsomolsk and the Potemkin along with two large Russian transports were destroyed in orbit and the Russian space port in Kazakhstan was bombarded. The Gagarin in the asteroid belt was severely damaged, but still lurks out there. This brought Russia along with Belarus and Kazakhstan into the war officially. This attack caused the Scandinavian Bloc to declare neutrality and refuse to help in the EU war effort.

Ghost Team 1’s actions in the Czech Republic remain a secret from the EU. They have been transferred to Cyprus to work principally for the Bast Corporation’s main client in the region, Global Share. This Commonwealth NGO brings health services and modern infrastructure to developing third world nations. The Cyberpunk World is a dangerous place especially in these areas. It is the Bast Corporation’s job to protect this altruistic organization.


Dramatis Personae

Ghost Team One

Brandon Heath (Warrant Officer 2nd Class): A solo who is an experimental Biomechanical (cyborg) with one of Doc Freeman’s ‘cyberbrains’. Brandon was originally Grave, a cyborg from the Fourth Corporate War, who was later (2026) convicted of authorizing the murder of a young hacker and his family. Grave was supposedly executed but the government put him in their Project Kill Switch Program (see Super Solo 2 Campaign for details). He recently served as head of security for the Petersen Point Resort.

Duke Strider (Sergeant): He is an experimental dog/human biogenetic hybrid made by the Collective on commission by the Bast Corporation. The Caitlins, who own Bast Corporation plan to create males members of their race but decided to make another species of hybrid first to test the science. His cover ID was Luke Walker from Texas during the recent Mission to Prague.

Mason Verge (Staff Sergeant): A former Marine Force Recon member turned freelance solo with a good relationship with the Thelas nomads. Mason came to the notice of the Bast Corporation while serving as a security officer at the Petersen Point Hotel during the Fall of the Cotton Kingdoms Campaign.

Natalie ‘Natty’ Lanikova (Warrant Officer 1st Class): ‘Grew up’ at the Petersen Point Resort when Brandon and Owen were there. A covert operative who most believe is the daughter of the late Lt. Alina Lanikova formerly of the Czech Special Forces (601st SOG). She is actually one of the prototype (former) Biotechnica ‘Caitlin’ clones trained to operate in the Czech Republic.

Nip Lacey (Corporal): This slightly crazy young woman is the result of a failed experiment to create a gestalt mind of several netrunners. This project also created Fred, a ferret looking creature that inhabits the NET that is fiercely loyal to Nip. While the girl is only 21, she has already earned advanced degrees in Computer Science and Robotics from Night City University. This has allowed her to create a physical body for Fred and a slew of small spider bots to assist her. She, Allison and Cat Vaduva went to high school together in Atlantic City.

Owen ‘Crank’ McGregor (Staff Sergeant): A young, muscle bound former United States Deputy Marshal turned free-lance operative. Owen is the eldest son of Lars McGregor, a ‘law enforcement’ official in the Union City (NJ) and major domo for a member of the Consortium. Owen has steered clear of his father’s shady connections. He was with Brandon at the Petersen Point Resort. His cover was Crank, the Food and Beverage manager there.


The NPCs

Commander Quinn: He is a retired British Navy commander from the Special Boat Service (SBS), who is in charge of all Bast Corporation para-military operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Gamal is the self-appointed warden of one of the areas in the outer refugee camp at El Marj. He is also the leader of the Sharia law enforcers there.

Fahimal is the name of the person the Team is sent to extract in Lebanon. Unknown to them she is a C.I.A. asset being hunted down by various European intelligence services. The Agency has no one in place to pull her out since her handler had to flee quickly. They have decided to farm this job out to deniable assets.

Jacques is a French official of the NGO that runs the refugee camp at El Marj in Lebanon.

Shonda is a French woman who runs the Battered Women’s Shelter at the El Marj Refugee camp.


The Action

Sunday, March 19, 2051:

(GM Note: Hanna’s player could not make the session, so she took a tumble down the stairs at the duplex. A serious ankle injury scrubs her from the mission.)

Quinn calls back the team to give them a photo of the package and her name; Fahimal. He also distributes the APTR and MRAM chips and equipment needed for the team’s cover identities.

Owen will be traveling to Lebanon as Lyndon Bryce Johnson. He will be posing as a restaurateur researching new dishes for his restaurant in Toronto. Traveling with him are his wife, Maria Wilson Johnson (Nip) and brother-in-law, David Wilson (Brandon). Maria is a photography buff. She has convinced her husband to visit the ruins at Baalbek and Umayyad City while they’re in Lebanon. They’ve even brought along a Bell mini-bee to take aerial photos at both sites as the sun rises.

To backup their cover identities, Owen and Nip are provided with Photo & Film +3 and Tourist Chips for Toronto (Canada). The netrunner is also given an expert chip in Photography Knowledge (+3). Brandon takes one of the Toronto Tourist chips. With his business knowledge, he will be posing as the accountant for Lyndon’s restaurant. With a few bribes and judicious hacking, the Bast Corporation’s NET runners have backstopped their IDs to hold up to a cursory examination.

All of the members of the infiltration team are given Expert: Islamic Theology +3 chips. Duke takes a Tourist Chip for Marseille, France. Mason and Natty take similar chips for Munich. The former Marine will be going in as Fariq Mohammed Ayed. Before coming to Lebanon, he worked as a day laborer in Munich. Natty will pose as his wife, Alima (Hafez) Ayed. Duke takes on the role of Abu Benham Al-Diri, Fariq’s maternal cousin.

They are provided with a minimum documentation. As undocumented migrants they wouldn’t have much. The infiltration unit’s secondary IDs are hidden in the support team’s luggage, along with the exit papers and new ID for the package. Disassembled ear bud communicators are secreted within the drone and other electronic equipment. The infiltration team has their hidden in the soles of their shoes and sandals. Unbeknownst to the others, Mason nods off, while their discussing the communicators.

(GM Note: The player actually fell asleep. He has a tendency to do this when the action doesn’t center on him or when the team is planning. We had to wake him up several times because he was snoring so loud. The player was given an overview of what was discussed, but he seemed to have missed this vital piece of information. It would have deep ramifications later.)

No one on either team will be armed. The only items that could be considered weapons are the two kitchen knives that are part of the infiltration team’s kit. Quinn adjourns the meeting, so that they can get to working on their disguises.

Brandon and Nip work together to ensure their new identities share a familial resemblance. Both are equipped with the cybernetic disguise enhancement, which allows them to morph their features. A company photographer is called in to take pictures and prepare family photos to complete the illusion.

Tomorrow afternoon Team-B (support team) will fly out. They will be heading to London aboard a corporate C-23 Sherpa to pick up their new IDs and catch a flight to Beirut. Team-A (infiltration unit) will board a Bast Corporation C-130 headed for Mumbai, India. They will HALO jump into the mountains east of the Beeka Valley; north of the refugee camp at El Marj.



Monday, March 20, 2051:

The support team arrives in London. They check into their hotel and enjoy a night in the city. The flight to Beirut is not till tomorrow.

The flight to Mumbai takes off after sunset; Team-A jumps over the East Lebanon Mountain Range. They glide a long distance before pulling their chutes close to the valley floor. After burying their jump gear, they don their disguises and head overland toward El Marj. The three reach a spot just north of Terbol and hunker down for the night.



Tuesday, March 21, 2051:

Team-A is off again early the next morning. They walk openly along the side of the road in the direction of El Marj. The three are a curiosity to those they pass, but no one bothers to stop them or ask where they are going. They finally make it to the gateway to the outer camp. Two men lean against the wall of a guard shack just inside the arch. Neither is in uniform, but both are wearing green armbands and are armed with clubs.

One of them calls out, “Where do you think you’re going?”

None of three offers a response. Mason reflexively looks to Natty to speak for the group. She stares back at him. It takes a moment for the former Marine to get the hint, but he finally answers the guard’s question. “We want to enter the camp.”

The guard pushes off the wall and approaches. “Do you have any papers?”

Mason hands over the documents for himself and his ‘wife’ while Duke produces Abu’s papers.

The guard looks through the documents. He makes a show of calling over his ‘colleague’ to confer. The man hands back their papers. “Sorry, this isn’t enough. Do you have any ‘other’ documents?”

Mason ignores the guard’s request for a bribe. “No.”

His colleague speaks up, “Do you have a health certificate? We can’t afford anyone bringing in diseases.”

Mason isn’t sure where this is going, but he has to answer, “No” again.

The two guards exchange a look. “Then you must have a ‘medical examination’ before you can enter.” The first one to address the three directs them towards a nearby tent marked with the Red Crescent. His partner returns to his position outside the guard shack.

There is no one in the tent when they enter. The guard tells Fariq and Abu to wait out front. He takes Alima to a curtained off examination room and tells her to, “have a seat.” There is only a low stool in the space. It puts her head a waist level. The guard leans in and whispers, “If you want to get your husband and his friend into the camp, you have to do a little favor for me.” He unbuttons his trousers and pulls out his penis.

Natty resists the urge to cut it off with one of her kitchen knives. She is furious, but won’t compromise the mission. When the guard’s lust has been satisfied, she makes one small request. “When we return to my husband, please hit him with your club.” The biogen forces a smile and gives the man’s deflated manhood a stroke, as if promising more sexual favors if he does her bidding.

It’s obvious what happened in the exam room, but Fariq displays not an ounce of husbandly outrage. Alima keeps her eyes on the floor as she walks back to her husband’s side. The guard honors her request and takes a swing at Mason on the way out of the tent. Instead of taking the hit for the team, the former Marine uses his highly enhanced reflexes to dodge out of the way. The man is taken aback by his unnatural quickness. He makes no move to stop the three as they walk away.

The infiltration team walks through the outer camp searching for a place to set up. It’s a disorganized mass of make-shift tents and hovels, with narrow pathways. The few roads bisecting the camp are choked with refuse and foot traffic.

Abu notices an empty spot just off one of the wider tracks. They try to set up, but are chased off by five men. The three finally squeeze into a site 20 meters from the spot they were forced to vacate. Fariq ‘directs’ while Abu and Alima do the heavy lifting. Natty is unusually quiet while they work. Duke is sure it’s because of what happened in the ‘exam room’. He tries to reassure her. “I’ll kill that guard for you tonight, if you want?”

She appreciates the thought, but now is not the time for personal vengeance. Natty keeps her tone flat. “No. It’s not worth endangering the mission.”

Once the tent is up, Alima goes in search of the communal tap. Mason warms to the role of ‘abusive’ husband. He yells after her, “Get water woman, and be quick about it!”

Mason and Duke sit outside their new digs. They notice the men that chased them off congregating in the open area up the track. At intervals, one or more will disappear into a tent adjacent to the empty plot only to reappear minutes later. On one of these trips, Mason notices a small cloud of dust around the pant cuffs of one of the returning men. The former Marine watches them with greater scrutiny. By the time Natty returns, he is fairly certain that some sort of excavation is going on inside the tent. Mason nearly points in their direction when sharing his suspicions, but he catches himself.

A two man patrol walks up the dirt road. By the time they are even with the open plot there are twenty men waiting. Nothing is said. They simply glare at the green armband guards. Neither man will meet the crowds gaze. They hurry by, gripping their clubs for reassurance.

Natty informs her team mates that she is going to look for the woman’s shelter under the guise of shopping for food. She heads of with the few euros they brought with them. The biogen sticks to the main paths for safety. It takes a few of hours and a several inquiries, but she locates her target.

It is a sandbag walled structure about two and a half meters high with a canvas roof and wooden door. There are two people talking near the entrance. Natty recognizes the symbol of the International Federation of the Red Crescent on the man’s armband. He is talking with a Caucasian woman, possibly the person who runs the shelter. The biogen tarries nearby to try and eavesdrop on their conversation. They are speaking in French.

“It’s not safe here. They will only be safe in the inner camp.”

The man shakes his head. “I will put in another request, but I’m not sure it will do any good. It would set a bad example. There may even be violence.”

Natty can hear the frustration in the woman’s response. “There will be violence either way. There have been more threats. If nothing is done, we could be attacked. They came here at great risk. I won’t let them be victimized.”

“All right, I will press them to make an exception.”

It’s obvious, that this isn’t the first time they’ve had this argument. Natty fades away. She purchases provisions with their meager funds, before returning to the campsite.

At mid-morning, Dave Wilson, Lyndon and Maria Johnson (Brandon, Owen and Nip) take off from Heathrow on a flight bound for Beirut, Lebanon. It takes nearly five hours to traverse the 2,150 miles between the two capitals, but they travel in comfort. Never one to skimp on the company dime, Owen had their tickets upgraded to first class. He rationalizes that the owner of a trendy restaurant would not settle for less. To not ask for an upgrade would be ‘out of character’.

It also limits Nip’s access to the other passengers. The solo is a little concerned that her gregarious nature could blow their cover. If Quinn has a complaint, he has no problem with the commander taking the extra cost out of his pay.

The bell mini-bee raises eyebrows among customs officials at the Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport. The three are pulled aside for a more thorough examination of their luggage.

“What is the purpose of your visit?”

“We’ve come to sample your local cuisine. I have a restaurant in Toronto and am thinking of expanding our menu.” Lyndon (Owen) tries to keep his tone casual, but his towering height and chiseled physique work against him. He can tell the customs officer is sizing him up. The solo tries to appear as non-threatening as possible.

“And this?” The agent points to the remote.

“We were going to take in the sights while we’re here.”

Maria (Nip) jumps in to help out her husband. “That’s mine. It’s a remote camera. I’m going to fly it over the ruins in Baalbek and Umayyad City to get some nice aerial shots.”

The customs agent looks dubious, so she begins to tick off the drone’s features and praise its benefits. I’ve been able to capture the most amazing sunsets at the Grand Canyon with this beauty.” She pats the remote fondly. “You can’t appreciate the true depth of colors in one of those sunsets by simply snapping a picture from the edge. It may not have great range, but I was able to photograph the Statute of Liberty from angles you’ve never seen. Her torch backlit by the sun…it just glows. I’m looking forward to snapping the Temple of Jupiter in the fading red-gold light of sunset and the Temple of Bacchus …..”

The agent’s eyes start to glaze over.

“Or”, Lyndon (Owen) interjects, “you could just buy a postcard.”

“No! Why can’t you ever support me? Your silly recipes aren’t the only reason we’re here you know. My hobby is very important. You said …..”

The customs agent cuts her off. “Fine, fine…You may go” It’s clear he has no interest in being dragged into their domestic squabble. As the three wheel their luggage towards the doors, they can hear the call out “Next!”

Lyndon ‘lets’ himself be talked into upgrading to a stretch Hummer at the car rental kiosk. He reasons that the extra space might come in handy if they all have to pile into one vehicle. Air conditioned seats are just a bonus. The solo makes sure to sign up for the full rental insurance. Dave (Brandon) opts for the less showy Range Rover. He follows behind Lyndon and Maria on the drive to the Bekaa Valley and Park Hotel in Chtuaura.

They arrive at the luxurious five star hotel by late afternoon. The Bast Corporation netrunners reserved two connecting rooms overlooking the pool, outdoor dining area and small concert stage. Brandon gets to work unpacking their gear and reassembling the ear buds. Owen and Nip are less productive. The netrunner calls the concierge and books a deep tissue massage. Knowing a good idea when he hears it, Owen books a massage for himself.

“You better send two masseurs. I’m a very large man.”

The concierge thinks he is joking, but the ‘restaurateur’ assures her he’s serious. While he waits for his appointment, Lyndon orders room service. The drive made him a mite peckish. Four servings of filet mignon help to take the edge off. The massages and meals are all charged to the corporate tab.

While Alima (Natty) is out looking for the women’s shelter, Abu notices one of the local gendarmes about 15 meters away from their camp. He is easy to spot because the green arm band around his left sleeve. What catches his eye is that the guard doesn’t appear to be on patrol. He seems to be watching the comings and goings up the road.

The biogen leaves the tent and heads down the road towards the guard. There is no reaction from the man when he walks past. Abu purchases some kind of ‘meat on a stick’ from a nearby stand. He eases into the guards blind spot and approaches him from behind. It would be a simple matter to take him out, but for now Abu only watches the watcher.

One of the men that chased them away from the open campsite walks up to their tent. He makes his presence known, by tapping on the metal cap on the end of the tent pole. Abu notes the guard’s interest in this development.

Fariq calls out in Arabic, “Who is it?”

“I am Gamal.” The man offers no greeting and instead asks accusingly, “Who is that woman who left your tent unescorted?”

Fariq steps out of the tent. He wants plenty of room in case this tries anything. “She is my wife, Alima.”

“And the man that is with you?”

Mason is becoming aggravated by the man’s questions. “He is my cousin, Abu. Who are you?”

“I am the Warden of this area.”

Fariq (Mason) looks in the direction of the guard, who is watching their exchange. “Then who is he?”

Gamal spits on the ground at the mention of the gendarmes. “Those dogs have sold themselves to the Euros. They extort money from new arrivals and abuse those who cannot pay.”

Mason sees a potential ally. He tells Gamal, “The camp guard who brought us to the medical tent for examination took a long time with my wife.”

“A guard examined your wife? Was there no woman present?”

The former marine can see rage building in Gamal’s eyes, but he presses on anyway. “No there was not. Come to think of it, he passed us on through the gate after that.”

“Come with me.” It’s obvious this is not a request. Fariq (Mason) follows the man back to the clearing. They are quickly joined by the Gamal’s friends. “Tell them what you told me.”

Now surrounded by five angry men, Mason does as the warden asks. He repeats his account of entering the camp. Fariq (Mason) pauses his retelling to ask for a cigarette. His new ‘friends’ are only too happy to oblige. They are outraged at what happened

Gamal asks, “Would you recognize this guard, if you saw him again?”

Fariq (Mason) nods his head. “Yes, I would.”

The five men usher him toward the main gate. The former Marine begins to realize that he’s hooked up with the enforcers of Sharia law in the camp. By the time they reach the gate, he is at the head of an angry mob. The same two guards are still on duty. Both look ready to shit themselves.

Gamal points accusingly towards them. “Was it one of them?”

Fariq lies, to avoid a bloodbath. “No, he isn’t here.”

The Sharia lynch mob disburses. Before his new friends depart, Fariq (Mason) asks where he can buy cigarettes. Gamal gives him directions and ads, “Tell if you see the dog that defiled your wife.”

Fariq (Mason) stops for smokes before returning to camp. The impromptu ‘shop’ is little more than a spread blanket, covered with assorted packs of cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia. It would be easy to pack up and move, if trouble or the camp authorities were to come down the road. Mason is impressed by the variety of brands. He digs into their dwindling funds to buy an overpriced pack of Marlboros.

The mob’s march to the gate scared off the guard watching that Abu (Duke) had been shadowing. Rather that joining the crowd, he circles back to the tent. Alima (Natty) returns soon after. The biogens share what they’ve learned while Natty prepares dinner. She goes out of her way make sure the food tastes awful. It doesn’t take much effort given her meager cooking skills.

(GM Note: Natty is chipped to Cooking 3, but hasn’t had the chip in long enough to fully absorb the knowledge. She is effectively Cooking 1)

When Fariq (Mason) returns with his smokes, Alima (Natty) serves the two men their dinner. Her ‘husband’ begins to tell them of the march on the gate, but taking a bite of horrible cooking causes him to gag. Mason spits out the over seasoned and burnt stew. He has to restrain himself from swearing in English. Even downing a liter of water doesn’t fully wash away the fowl taste. Seeing Fariq’s reaction, Abu refrains from eating.

After comparing intel, Natty tells them, “Now that we know the location of the shelter, it’s time to move onto the next phase. Abu, you should step outside. It would be best if you do not see this.”

Duke obediently complies.

With her fellow biogen out of the tent, Natty whispers to Mason, “Fariq, you have to beat me. It will have to look good for the medical examination, so bruise me up. Just try not to do any permanent damage.

Natty closes her eyes, so that she doesn’t reflexively dodge out of the way of his punches. After a few deep breaths she gives him a nod. “Try not to enjoy this too much.”

Mason is stone faced. ““Not a chance. I’m not looking forward to this.”

The former Marine pummels and berates her. He throws his bowl of stew after her as she retreats from the tent. “Damn you woman, are you trying to poison me? This slop isn’t fit for swine! Now get me something to eat!”

Fariq continues to rant. “Learn how to cook woman. That is your duty!”

Battered and bleeding, Alima (Natty) flees, staggering down the path. Instead of heading for the food vendors, she makes for the women’s shelter. Her knock at the wooden door doesn’t bring an immediate response. It takes about half a minute before a voice calls out from inside, “Who is it.”

Alima (Natty) mumbles meekly in Arabic, “Someone said I might be safe here.”

The door opens about a foot. A feminine face, framed by a mane of dark brown ringlets appears in the gap. Natty recognizes the woman she spied on earlier. She tries to look as pitiable as possible.

The aid worker’s expression is clouded with conflicting emotions, but compassion eventually wins out. She opens the door fully and steps out. After a quick glance around, she ushers the bloodied woman inside.

There are several women huddled together in a back corner; some clutching makeshift weapons. They visibly relax once the door is closed and braced.

One of the women brings over a small basin as Alima (Natty) is guided to a seat. The aid worker begins to clean dried blood off of her face with a damp cloth. “What happened to you?”

Alima (Natty) haltingly responds, “My husband beat me … again.”

“You needn’t worry. We will keep you safe. My name is Shonda. What is yours?”

Alima, Alima Hafez Ayed.”

Shonda gives her a smile. “Would it be all right if I examine you to make sure there are no internal injuries?”

Alima (Natty) pulls back.

The aid worker is confused by her terrified expression. “What’s wrong?”

“A guard ‘examined’ me when we arrived this morning … in the medical tent.” Her eyes drop to stare at the floor. “He opened his pants, took out his ….” The biogen lets out a short sob. “He made me … suck his … thing.”

Alima (Natty) looks up when Shonda doesn’t say anything. The woman’s face is red with anger. Her knuckles are white. She is squeezing so hard that rivulets of water are flowing down the hand holding the damp cloth. Catching sight of Alima’s (Natty) gaze, the aid worker fights to regain her composure. Shonda tries to reassure the frightened young woman, that she is angry at her husband and the guard, not her. The aid worker leaves her in the care of the other women, so she can make a call.

About 20 minutes later, Natty can hear the sounds of a vehicle from outside, followed soon after by a knock at the door. Shonda quickly opens it to admit a uniformed man, who she calls Jacques. The biogen recognizes the insignia on his arm from the briefing. He is a member of the corporate gendarme that oversees the camp. They speak in French; the aid worker recounting Alima’s (Natty) tale of abuse by a camp auxiliary and her husband. She once again makes a plea to move her charges to the inner camp for their safety.

As she watches and listens in on their conversation, Natty notes a familiarity between the two. She wonders if they share something more than a business relationship.

The biogen keeps one ear on the conversation, while ‘furtively’ scanning the interior. It is a single room structure. There are blankets hung near the back as privacy screen, but she can’t sense anyone back there. Natty spots Fahimal sitting on a cot, speaking with three other women. There are six cots in all. Assuming Shonda sleeps on one; then it’s a safe bet that the five other women in the room are the shelter’s only occupants.

Her tactical assessment is interrupted by the approach of Jacques and Shonda. The gendarme squats down, so that he is at her eye level. He asks in heavily accented Arabic, “Madam, may I ask you some questions?”

Alima (Natty) looks to Shonda, who nods her head. “It’s alright. Jacques is friend. He can help.”

The battered woman turns back to the corporate cop then looks at the floor and nods.

“Where did you come from?”

Natty keeps her answer brief. “We were living in Munich.”

“How did you get to Lebanon?”

“My husband and I came by truck with his cousin, Abu … from the Balkans to Greece. Fariq paid a man to take us to Tripoli in a shipping container. We mostly walked the rest of the way.”

Natty isn’t sure if Jacques is buying her story, but doesn’t dare look him in the eye. She keeps her voice soft and fidgets with her hands.

“Where are your papers?”

“My husband has them.” Natty gives a slight tremor and she struggles through the next sentence. She lets the shame come through in her voice. After … he … beat me … I just ran.”

To Natty’s relief the gendarme tries to be reassuring, “Don’t worry; you’ll be all right here.”

Back at the infiltration team’s campsite Fariq (Mason) exits the tent and yells angrily, “Alima! Where are you?”

Abu joins in and they both call for her. Their boisterous calls soon attract Gamal and a couple of his associates. “What is all this shouting?”

Fariq (Mason) tells them, “I cannot find my wife.”

“Maybe if you beat her less, you would not have so much trouble with her,” Abu (Duke) retorts.

Fariq (Mason) rounds on his cousin. “You ate some of that poison she called dinner. A firm hand is all she understands.”

One of the men with Gamal asks, “Did you see which way she went?”

Fariq (Mason) points in the direction of the shelter. This touches off a wave of outrage among their new ‘friends’. They begin to argue among themselves. Mason catches something about harlots and a French whore among the discordant chorus of angry voices. He is finally able to cut in and ask, “Do you know where she went?”

“Yes,” Gamal replies. “She has probably fled to that French woman’s brothel.”

Abu comes to the defense of his wife’s cousin. “Alima would never go to a brothel.”

Someone in the growing mob yells out, “They call it a shelter, but I’ve seen that Frenchman and his dogs sniffing around regularly.”

Another one shouts, “We must rid ourselves of these heathens before they corrupt our women.” The croup roars its support.

Abu tries to be a voice of calm and reason. His attempts to quote from the Koran are shouted down. A fiery eyed man with an unkempt beard, points a gnarled finger in his direction. “Why do you defend this woman? She has turned against her husband; your cousin? Are you her lover?”

Abu vehemently denies his accusation, but the mob wants blood. Gamal steps forward and saves him, by focusing their rage and hatred on the French whore and her den of prostitution.

(GM Note: Some of the people firing up the crowd were part of the group looking for Fahimal. They know she is in the shelter, but attacking themselves might tip off the camp gendarme, before they have a chance to carry out their attack. Fariq’s situation provided them with the perfect opportunity to raise a mob, which would cover their own involvement. This was NOT in the Team’s mission plan. Gamal is not part of their group, but he has his own reasons for attacking the shelter)

Gamal shouts, “Let’s go and retrieve brother Fariq’s wayward wife. We will teach these infidels a lesson, they will not soon forget! Who’s with me?”

The mob surges forward with Gamal and Fariq at its head. Abu is swept along too. The angry crowd gathers strength as it surges up the dirt track towards the shelter.

At the shelter Jacques walkie talkie crackles. “You better get out here, Jacques. We’ve got trouble inbound.”

The gendarme pauses briefly by the door. He says something to Shonda then exists. The aid worker closes the door and braces it behind him. It is the only way in and out of the structure. Natty isn’t sure how much good barring the door will be. The roof is merely stretched canvas. Anyone intent on getting in could climb up and cut through it rather than trying to batter their way in.

Shonda stays near the door to listen. The other woman, huddle together, at the back of the sandbagged structure. Alima (Natty) joins them. She works her way next to Fahimal, as they listen to Jacques try to calm the angry mob outside.

Natty leans and whispers into Fahimal’s ear, “Knock, knock.”

That is the first part of the pass-phrase they were given, to confirm their identity to the package. Fahimal looks confused for the briefest of moment, before leaning back and whispering, “Who’s there?”


“Blue.’ It’s not really a knock-knock joke, but Fahimal can’t help but smile when she delivers the final countersign.

Natty whispers, “We have to get out of here, now!”

“Yes, but how?” The covert asset nods her head in the direction of the barred door and angry mob outside.

The biogen shows her one of the small kitchen knives the team brought with them. Natty cuts a hole in the tarpaulin roof. After making sure the coast is clear, she boots Fahimal up through the opening; then follows her.

Four of the women in the shelter join their escape. While the rest scatter, Natty leads Fahimal south. A man steps out from behind a tent to block their path. Some members of the mob seem to have anticipated an attempted escape out the back. He points a knife at them menacingly. Natty has him down and disarmed, before the sneer can leave his face. They take his knife and keep running.

The biogen hears the crack of a pistol, but no impact. She looks back at Fahimal, to see if she’s hit. The woman looks frightened but otherwise fine. They may not have been the target of the shoot, but she has no intention of stopping to find out.

Back at the shelter, Fariq (Mason) is feeling a bit exposed. He barely hears Gamal’s rant or the attempts by one of the uniformed gendarme to calm the mob. The former Marine’s attention is focused on a second gendarme manning a heavy weapon mounted in the back of a jeep. Fariq (Mason) tries to melt back into the mob, but it’s like pushing against a solid wall of people.

A shot rings out somewhere to his left and then the shit really hits the fan. The crowd starts to hurl stones and other objects at the corporate gendarme and their vehicle. The dismounted officer is hit in the head and goes down. Emboldened; the mob surges forward, carrying Fariq (Mason) and Abu (Duke) with them. The gunner is left with no option. He opens fire on the crowd. His hail of rubber bullets doesn’t have the desired effect. Rage overcomes pain. They charge the jeep and the shelter. The gendarme on the back of the jeep quits his position and drops out of sight.

Rubber bullets are not a serious threat to Fariq (Mason) but he ducks down to avoid the automatic fire. His true intent is to get low enough so the mob surge over him. He uses his exception strength (Strength Feat) to avoid being trampled. Abu (Duke) starts to follow suit, then remembers that Natty is still inside the shelter. He lets himself be swept forward with the mob.

Even braced, the door cannot stand up to the amount of weight being forced in against it. The sandbag wall surrounding the door begins to give way and the doorframe twists sideways.

Natty is nowhere to be seen. There are only two women inside. Both are set upon by multiple attackers. Duke throws himself on top of the one closest to the door, a Caucasian woman with long dark hair. The biogen’s intent was to shield her body with his while hauling her towards the door, but by now, the mob is a mindless animal. He has to let go of her to save himself.

Duke crawls toward the opening where the shelter’s door once stood. From outside, there is the staccato bark of an assault rifle, interspersed with multiple reports of a pistol. Since the rubber bullets had no effect the gunner has switched to a FN-RAL to provide cover to the jeep’s driver as he drags back their fallen comrade. Once they have him in the jeep, they make a hasty retreat. When the coast is clear, Duke abandons his position by the door and circles around to the back of the shelter.

Natty’s earlier scouting pays off. The route back to the campsite is relatively empty. They are able to slip into the back of the tent unnoticed. Natty gives Fahimal the ‘distressed’ IR cloak, and second kitchen knife. She polices the area, picking up anything that could identify her.
They prepare to move out, but angry voices outside interrupt their departure. Natty signals Fahimal to keep silent and peaks out.

The sightline is poor, but she makes out at least three men carrying several AK-74s. She recognizes two from the empty campsite. After retrieving the weapons, they head back in the direction of the shelter. Natty lets them go. She waits another full minute, before slipping out of the tent with Fahimal. They head towards the outer edge of the camp.

The sounds of gunfire are increasing as they slip under the boundary wire. Flames are evident near the location of the shelter. Natty cuts into the sole of her sandal and retrieves her ear bud radio. She contacts the support team.

Lyndon (Owen) responds. “What’s up?”

Natty hears people laughing in the background as a bad karaoke singer belts out a tune.

(GM Note: Team-B is drinking and having a riotous good time at the Park Hotel on the company dime).

“Package is secured, but it’s getting very messy here. Be at the rendezvous at 07:30 hours.”

Owen sighs, “Understood.”

Luckily (for him), Natty has trouble reading human emotions. She completely misses the note of disappointment in his voice. The ex-deputy marshal updates Dave (Brandon) and Maria (Nip) then finds a secure place from which he can call to Commander Quinn. Even on a secure line, Owen keeps the conversation brief. “We’re a go. Make the call.”

to make the call to the hotel front desk early in the morning and prepare ex-fill protocols.

Natty use the stars to get her bearings. She heads for the road to Beirut with Fahimal in tow. The chances of pursuit are minimal, but Natty makes an effort to obscure their tracks after the ford a small stream. It takes a few hours, but they reach the meeting place. The two hunker down to wait for morning.

Mason hadn’t bothered to scout the camp, so his knowledge of its layout is almost non-existent. Staying off the main tracks, it takes him longer than expected to make it back to their tent. He packs up everything he can carry (including all of their remaining money) and heads for the wire. The former marine has no trouble exiting the camp, but without a compass or navigation skills he’s not sure which way to go. Mason tries to remember the topographical maps from the briefing. He relies on his knowledge of wilderness survival to choose the most likely direction of the rendezvous.

(GM Note: The player botched his Wilderness Survival roll. He was heading away from the camp, toward the road, but not in the direction of the rendezvous.)

Duke had noticed the tear in the shelter’s roof, while he tried figure out a way to get past the gendarmes. If they hadn’t left, it would have been his escape route. Thinking that Natty must have used it to make her own escape, he circle to the back of the shelter. With everything going to hell around them, no one spares him a second glance as he drops down to sniff the ground. Duke’s genetic code incorporates aspects of Canis Familiaris. One of the benefits is a sense of smell that is tens of thousands of times more sensitive than an average human’s. He is able to pick out Natty’s familiar scent and track it. In a way, it’s what he was built to do.

Duke can follow her, but progress is slow. He has to stop often to bend down and sniff the ground. During one of these pauses, the biogen has to fling himself off the path, to avoid being trampled. A mob of people runs past, fleeing from the sounds of gunfire and explosions. Their passage stirs up a cloud of dust, which makes it hard to locate Natty’s scent.

Her path had been heading back towards their tent, so Duke takes a chance and returns to camp. The hunch pays of and he is quickly back on the trail. He follows it out through the wire and to the north. Natty’s attempt to mask her trail doesn’t fool his nose. Duke lopes up to the rendezvous happy to be reunited.

The two biogens find a language that the package doesn’t understand (German) and have a private conversation. Duke tells her; half-jokingly, “I think we made the news tonight.”

Quinn’s going to have a fit.” Natty isn’t looking forward to their debriefing. She wonders what shit detail they’ll draw for this.

“Did Mason make it out of the camp?”

Duke shrugs. “The last time I saw him, he was being fired on by the camp’s guards.”

Natty tries to raise him on the radio, but there is no answer. The two fear the worst, but settle in to wait for morning



Wednesday, March 22, 2051:

As the horizon lightens in the predawn, Mason realizes he’s going the wrong way. Now that he knows which direction is east, he sorts out his bearing and takes off at a run. The former Marine had traveled through the night. He is now miles away from the rendezvous. If only there was some way he could let the others know…

Mason is painfully aware that time is running. He starts to discard the gear he took for camp to keep up his pace. The bed roll goes first, followed by his extra clothes and provisions. He chucks his identity papers, and even considers discarding the bills and coins in his pocket.

The former Marine is so intent on his breathing, that he does not hear the car coming from behind, till it is right on top of him. Mason slows up his pace and looks to his left. There are two men in the car staring back at him. The passenger opens his window a crack and asks in Arabic, “Where are you coming from?”

“Down the road,” Mason replies between puffs of breath. The only thing back in that direction is the Syrian border.

“Where are you heading?”

“I am going to meet some friends outside Chtuaura. Could you give me a lift?”

The men in the car look at each other. Both seem a little leery about picking up a ragged refugee caked in sweat and road dirt. The vagueness of his answers doesn’t help his cause.

“No!” The car speeds off, leaving the former Marine in a cloud of dust. Mason resumes his marathon to the rendezvous.

The front desk at the Park Hotel in Chtuaura patches through an international call to the room of Lyndon Bryce Johnson. An emergency has occurred at his restaurant and they need him back in Toronto immediately. The support team packs and leaves for Beirut.

There is still no sign of Mason, by the time the two vehicles reach the extraction point. Natty tries once more to reach him on the radio, but there is still no answer. To her that can mean only one thing. She tells the others, “We can’t wait. We have to continue the mission.”

Owen isn’t as ready to write off a teammate so quickly. “What if Mason got delayed? Maybe his radio is down?”

“Very unlikely. The crowd came under fire from assault weapons. Even if he is still alive, which I doubt, none of us can stay behind without endangering the team and the mission. Mason is a well-trained operative. If he’s alive, he is resourceful enough to get out on his own.”

Brandon offers a compromise. “There is enough room in the stretch Hummer to fit all of us. We can leave my Range Rover. If Mason makes it, he can take it to Beirut.”

Owen seconds the idea and offers his own twist. “We can leave it on the side of the road with a flat tire. There’s a full sized spare.”

They look to Natty for approval.

“It’s a good plan.” She holds out her hand. “Give me his ID and the keys. I’ll hide them over there by the rocks.”

The biogen makes a small pile of rocks pointing in the direction of the large stone under which she buried his passport and car keys. She hopes Mason will understand her message, if he shows up at all. Nip stuffs the change of clothes they brought for him under the seat, so they won’t be seen by passers-by.

Even though their cover identities are only temporary, Owen sees no reason why they should burn them if they don’t have to. “I’ll call the rental car company in a few of hours to report the flat tire and tell where they can find the car. If Mason is still with us that should give him enough time to pick up the car and get to Beirut.”

“What if someone steals the car?” Nip asks.

Owen chuckles, “That’s why I bought the total coverage insurance.”

The six pile into the stretch Hummer and set off for Beirut. Duke, Natty and Fahimal change their clothing in the back. About twenty minute into the ride, they pass a vehicle of the Lebanese ISF (Internal Security Force), headed in the opposite direction; back toward Chtuaura.

Mason sees the Range Rover at the rendezvous point and is ecstatic. He made it. It’s only as the former Marine draws closer that he realizes there is no one around and the rear tire on the passenger side is flat. Confusion gives way to caution. He moves off the road and takes a moment to bring his breathing under control.

Mason approaches stealthily. Precious time ticks by as he makes sure no one is waiting in ambush. The carefully stacked rocks do not escape his scrutiny. It takes him a minute, but the former marine figures out their meaning. Digging with his hands, he quickly unearths his passport and a set of keys.

The former Marine is in the middle of replacing the tire, when an ISF vehicle comes upon his position. Mason is still dressed in his refugee disguise. A raggedly dressed man, covered in dirt, working on expensive car in the middle of nowhere…even a rookie, fresh out of the academy, would find suspicious. Both officers step out of the vehicle, but only one approaches. Mason stands up and wisely makes no sudden moves.

The officer addresses him in Arabic. “Is this your car?”

“No,” Mason knows how he is dressed, but still tries to bullshit his way out of the situation. “I borrowed it from a friend to go the ruins of Baabek and got a flat.”

“Step away from the vehicle please.”

He complies without argument. The officer make note of the plates. He searches the interior and finds the rental papers in the glove box. After looking them over, he asks Mason, “What is your friend’s name?”

He has a fifty, fifty chance of guessing right, “Lyndon Johnson.”

The officer puts his hand on his holster. “Get down on your knees and put your hands behind your back!”

Mason is sure that he could take the cop, but there’s no way of telling what his partner would do or what kind of weapon he’s packing. The former Marine allows himself to be cuffed and carted off to jail in Zahle. A tow truck is dispatched to pick up the Range Rover.

The rest of the Team arrives in Beirut. Owen drives to a dock, where a fishing boat has been secured to ferry the infiltration unit and package out to international waters. From there, they transfer to one of the Bast Corporation’s fast patrol craft. The Chinese built PRB-79 takes them back to Cyprus, where a representative of the client (the C.I.A.) is waiting to meet them. With Fahimal safely delivered, Duke and Natty return to base. Their part of the mission is complete.

The support team heads for Beirut airport. Owen calls the rental agency to report the flat tire and abandoned vehicle, but they already know.

“Ah, yes, Mr. Johnson, we have a bit of a problem. The police caught a man trying to steal it. Is Mr. Wilson available? I need to speak with him, since the rental agreement is under his name.”

Owen hands the phone to Brandon. “They want to talk to you.”

The biosynthetic puts it to his ear. “Hello?”

Mr. Wilson?”

Brandon has no interest in playing twenty questions, so he demands, rather testily, “What’s the problem?”

The agent maintains an upbeat tone. “As I was telling Mr. Johnson, the police have a man in custody … a Jafar Thomas. He claims you lent him the Range Rover. We don’t show his name on the list of registered drivers.”

“Oh…I’m sorry. It must have been an oversight on my part. I did give Mr. Thomas permission to drive the car.”

The agent is aggravatingly officious. He cites the clause within the rental agreement that explains the requirement for all drivers of the rental vehicle to be registered with the rental company. “The rental insurance would be void for any damage incurred or caused by an unregistered driver…”

Brandon cuts him off. “Yes I understand. Do you need me to pay a surcharge or stop by the office at the airport?”

“The ISF in Zahle currently have the vehicle. They would also like to speak with you. I can provide you with their number?”

“That’s ok. We’ll go and speak to them now.” Brandon hangs up on the agent.

Owen takes back his phone and contacts Commander Quinn. “We’ve hit a snag. Jafar (Mason) is in police custody. We’re heading to Zahle to retrieve him, but there is no way we will be back in time for our flight. We need to switch to a later flight and book an additional seat in the name of Jafar Thomas.

Their superior’s reaction to the new catches Owen by surprise. “I’m not your fucking travel agent. Have him book his own flight when he gets to the airport.” Quinn hangs up.

(GM Note: Quinn’s response may have sounded harsh, but the team was told at the outset, that the Bast Corporation couldn’t be caught operating in Lebanon. Right after telling him that Mason’s false identity might be compromised, Owen asks him to arrange for a ticket in the name of that identity. Quinn is going to work his contacts to make alternate arrangements, but that is not something he is going to tell the team over a line that may not be secure.)

The support team heads to Zahle. Owen knows it’s a risk, but they need to get Mason out of the country before the authorities dig too deeply into his false identity. He takes it as a good sign that the investigating officer speaks them at his desk rather than taking him into an interrogation room.

“Why did you give Mr. Thomas the keys to your rental car?”

Owen speaks up. “We had a flat and none of us are to mechanically inclined…so we asked him to change the tire and return it to the rental agency in Beirut”

The investigator’s eyes narrow. “That’s not what he told us.”

“What did he say?” Owen inquires.

Mr. Thomas told us you gave him the car so he could look at the ruins at Baalbek,”

The big man tries to look surprised. “That sneaky bastard; we told him to take the car right back to Beirut. He wanted to see the ruins but we weren’t going to pay for his mileage; tooling around the Bekaa Valley for his sightseeing pleasure.”

Brandon shakes his head. “We should dock his pay when we get him back to the restaurant.”

Owen keeps smiling, likes it’s all a big joke. “Where is he now?”

“He is in a cell.” The investigator continues to eye them suspiciously.

McGregor pulls out his camera and asks, “Oh, please, let me get a picture of him in the jail cell. I’ve got to post it on line. He’ll never live it down.”

The investigator accompanies Owen, Brandon and Nip as a gendarme leads them to the holding cells. Mason sits alone in a large steel cage, looking miserable. The three members of the support team break into laughter.

Owen holds up his phone. “Say fromage.”

It is clear that the four know each other, but the investigator is not amused by their antics. The other officer is not such a hard ass. He cracks a smile as the three have a laugh at their friend’s expense.

“I told you that guy would steal your clothes,” Owen turns to the investigating officer and asks, “Can we get a big guy to stand behind him like he has no pants on?”

The man is shocked by his request. “No, that would not be appropriate.”

With no apparent crime committed the ISF investigator sees no reason to hold Mason. He is willing to drop the matter, so long as they follow through with their intention to leave the country. Before heading to the airport, the team stops to buy Mason some new clothes and eat. It’s a tense five hours before their flight departs for London. There is no cushy hotel waiting for the weary group, only a bumpy ride on a C-23 Sherpa back to Cyprus.



Thursday, March 23, 2051:

The Team is called in at noon for a debriefing by Commander Quinn. Natty makes her overall report based on what she knows about the events at the refugee camp. Mason and Duke give their own accounts. Quinn simply takes notes and nods. Natty, however, is not satisfied with Mason’s explanation of he wound up at the head of a mob. She is especially pained to hear that Shonda was beaten to death. The woman truly cared for her charges and showed Natty sympathy and compassion.

The biogen decides to press for more details. “So, can you tell us again how you came to be at the head of that mob so quickly after I arrived at the shelter? I didn’t even have time to make contact with the package. People died who shouldn’t have. This extraction should have been simple.”

Mason and Duke dance around the question. The former Marine finally admits, “I was just playing my part. Duke here almost blew the whole mission trying to defend you to those Sharia guys.”

Natty turns to her fellow biogen, “So those deaths were all your fault?”

Mason’s attempt to throw him ‘under the bus’ finally pushes Duke over the edge. The two men begin to scream at each other.

Natty could have been killed. You left her to the mob.”

“I trusted in her skill.

“You put the plan in jeopardy.”

“You almost blew our cover.”

Quinn pulls off his shoe and bangs it on the table. The room falls silent. “Stop bickering. The mission was a success. Focus on that.’

The commander is ready to dismiss them, when Natty speaks up. “Just one more question.”

Quinn eyes narrow. “What is it?”

The biogen turns to Mason, “You were late getting to the rendezvous. Why didn’t you call us on the radio?”

It takes a long time, but he finally admits, “I didn’t know I had one in my shoe. I must have fallen asleep during that part of the briefing.”

The room is dead silent. Natty feigns making a note in her e-book. Commander Quinn dismisses the squad.

Mason heads to the gym to work out on the heavy bag. Natty walks off with Duke and apologizes for putting him on the spot. A few hours later Natty is called to Commander Quinn’s office. She reports and stands at attention. He does not give her permission to stand at ease.

“I believe your Team is need of some extreme physical conditioning. I am granting your earlier request for a physical conditioning instructor. For the next two weeks you will run and exercise. Am I clear?”

“Yes, sir, thank you sir.”

Quinn continues, holding up the mission expense report, “And if McGregor complains, tell him he needs to work off those four filet mignons! You are dismissed.”

Warrant Officer 1st Class Lanikova salutes and leaves the office.

(GM Note: I usually give a player one mulligan during a campaign, but Mason’s player was pushing the envelope. Writing up this episode made me angry all over again. He nearly turned a simple extraction into a complete cluster fuck. There was the potential that Mason’s incarceration could have blown up the campaign. I muted the investigator’s interest (his mulligan), but it was Brandon’s and Owen’s players who brought their A-game to effect his release.)







Episode 12 – The Cabinda Beach Resort and Conference Center



The team prepares for duty in the desert. Three members miss out on the first week of extreme physical training to receive enhanced UV protection nano-therapy. For the rest it’s two weeks of hell. An impending mission to Cabinda offers a reprieve.

There have been vague threats associated with an upcoming conference being hosted by the tiny African nation. Ghost Team One is dispatched in advance to assess the situation before the arrival of Global Share’s representatives. Owen has an unexpected family reunion while on mission.



War has erupted on the European Continent. The long running Czech Civil War exploded as the EU, who finally had enough of Poland’s support for the rebel Free Czech Army, sought a quick victory over the Polish nation in the spring of 2050. A resurgent Germany promised a quick victory, but the Blitzkrieg of 1939 was not repeated. The Polish Army resisted with fierceness and courage that surprised the EU forces. Russia and Belarus came to the defense of their Slavic brothers and sisters with ‘volunteers’ pouring in from those nations. The EU response was to attempt to destroy Russia’s warships of the Rocket Corps. The Komsomolsk and the Potemkin along with two large Russian transports were destroyed in orbit and the Russian space port in Kazakhstan was bombarded. The Gagarin in the asteroid belt was severely damaged, but still lurks out there. This brought Russian along with Belarus and Kazakhstan into the war officially. This attack caused the Scandinavian Bloc to declare neutrality and refuse to help in the EU war effort.

Ghost Team 1’s actions in the Czech Republic remain a secret from the EU. They have been transferred to Cyprus to work principally for the Bast Corporation’s main client in the region, Global Share. This Commonwealth NGO brings health services and modern infrastructure to developing third world nations. The Cyberpunk World is a dangerous place especially in these areas. It is the Bast Corporation’s job to protect this altruistic organization.


Dramatis Personae

Ghost Team One

Allison Cole (aka Hanna Woo) (Sergeant): Grew up in the Burn Notice Campaign and remained with her best friend from school, CatherineCat’ (Fisher) Vaduva. She is a high level prowler and martial artist with extensive covert operations training. Her cover was Vlada Roslykova on the recent Mission to Prague.

Brandon Heath (Warrant Officer 2nd Class): A solo who is an experimental Biomechanical (cyborg) with one of Doc Freeman’s ‘cyberbrains’. Brandon was originally Grave, a cyborg from the Fourth Corporate War, who was later (2026) convicted of authorizing the murder of a young hacker and his family. Grave was supposedly executed but the government put him in their Project Kill Switch Program (see Super Solo 2 Campaign for details). He recently served as head of security for the Petersen Point Resort.

Duke Strider (Sergeant): He is an experimental dog/human biogenetic hybrid made by the Collective on commission by the Bast Corporation. The Caitlins, who own Bast Corporation plan to create males members of their race but decided to make another species of hybrid first to test the science. His cover ID was Luke Walker from Texas during the recent Mission to Prague.

Mason Verge (Staff Sergeant): A former Marine Force Recon member turned freelance solo with a good relationship with the Thelas nomads. Mason came to the notice of the Bast Corporation while serving as a security officer at the Petersen Point Hotel during the Fall of the Cotton Kingdoms Campaign.

Natalie ‘Natty’ Lanikova (Warrant Officer 1st Class): ‘Grew up’ at the Petersen Point Resort when Brandon and Owen were there. A covert operative who most believe is the daughter of the late Lt. Alina Lanikova formerly of the Czech Special Forces (601st SOG). She is actually one of the prototype (former) Biotechnica ‘Caitlin’ clones trained to operate in the Czech Republic.

Nip Lacey (Corporal): This slightly crazy young woman is the result of a failed experiment to create a gestalt mind of several netrunners. This project also created Fred, a ferret looking creature that inhabits the NET that is fiercely loyal to Nip. While the girl is only 21, she has already earned advanced degrees in Computer Science and Robotics from Night City University. This has allowed her to create a physical body for Fred and a slew of small spider bots to assist her. She, Allison and Cat Vaduva went to high school together in Atlantic City.

Owen ‘Crank’ McGregor (Staff Sergeant): A young, muscle bound former United States Deputy Marshal turned free-lance operative. Owen is the eldest son of Lars McGregor, a ‘law enforcement’ official in the Union City (NJ) and major domo for a member of the Consortium. Owen has steered clear of his father’s shady connections. He was with Brandon at the Petersen Point Resort. His cover was Crank, the Food and Beverage manager there.


The NPCs

Arlen is an A.I. He is the prime mover behind the Armistice charity, which with the assistance of Lars McGregor and his associates, has grown into a global organization (Armistice International). Arlen began as an Autonomous Algorithmic Entity (Chatbot) within a social network. His avatar was coded as a down home Texas good old boy. Even after achieving consciousness he has maintained this personality and accent.

Carl is a friend and personal bodyguard for Lars McGregor. It is a hazardous occupation which has led to more than a few stints in the hospital. Though heavily augmented, Carl maintains a personable demeanor (when not working). He has known Owen since the latter was a kid. The two remain on good terms.

Cole Resnor is a Global Share volunteer and small time fixer from New York City. He and Brandon struck up an initial friendship.

Commander Quinn: He is a retired British Navy commander from the Special Boat Service (SBS), who is in charge of all Bast Corporation para-military operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Lars McGregor is the major domo and right hand man of Nicole ‘Nikki’ Alexander, publically a wealthy businesswoman and philanthropist but privately a member of a shadowy group of powerful world political leaders and business people called the Consortium. She is the ruthless enforcer for that group and Lars is her number one ‘hit dog’. He is also Owen McGregor’s father. The two had a falling out years ago.

Nelson Fahn is a volunteer for Global Share. He is a woodworker from California, that Natty has taken a liking to.

Warrant Officer 2nd Class Thomas Elliot is a top drill instructor for the Bast Corporation. His specialty is physical conditioning.


The Action

Friday, March 24, 2051:

Natty makes an announcement to the entire team, at the morning meeting. Operating in the open desert without some form of dermal protection against the intense rays of the sun could prove a determent to the team. Arrangements have been therefore been made for Duke, Mason and Nip to receive enhanced UV protection. The treatment consists of a regiment of nano-injections. With recovery, the procedure should take week.

They are scheduled to leave at 1500 hours, which gives the plenty of time for their first round of Tebu lessons on the Sega Atari teacher. The prospect of language lessons elicits some groans, but everyone does as their told. Natty is preparing them for a return to Waw an Namus. She wants to make sure they learn the language of the local tribe. The training will also give them a crash course on the Toubou’s culture.

Duke, Mason and Nip fly out a 3 pm. Natty takes the rest to meet Warrant Officer 2nd Class Thomas Elliot. He is a grim faced hard ass of a man, with the demeanor of rabid pit-bull and bark of a pissed off drill instructor. Normally he would be training the Bast Corporation’s new recruits, but Natty called in favor. It’s a long afternoon. Before dismissing Owen, Brandon and Hanna, the section leader lets them know; tomorrow will hold more of the same.



Saturday, March 25, 2051:

Mason, Duke and Nip undergo the preparatory DNA mapping for their procedures at a Collective medical facility. Those members of the team, still on base, ‘enjoy’ their second session of Tebu lessons. Training continues into the early afternoon. Natty calls a break, but hopes of any free time are dashed when she announces a mandatory excursion to the Hoof and Bray Club.

Brandon appears enthusiastic about this ‘team building exercise’; Owen less so. As for Hanna, she doesn’t remember much about their last visit; except for her horrible hangover, the following day. “Just make sure I don’t drink so much this time.”

The club manager insists on weighing Owen, before he is allowed to ride. With his size and physique, they worry he might be too heavy for the donkeys to support. The big man tips the scales at 350 lbs. Aggravated and a bit embarrassed, Owen stalks off, yelling back sarcastically, “Well I’m too heavy. I’ll be the bar. Have fun.”

‘Fortunately’, there is one mount that can accommodate his massive bulk. “Bring out Brutus.” The donkey lead over is nearly half again as large as the other animals in the paddock.
It is a stocky beast with shaggy hair. Brutus appears to be docile enough, but Owen still has qualms as he climbs onto its back.

The big man is used to being the tallest person in the room, but sitting astride Brutus, he towers over the competition and the rest of his team. No matter how impressive they might look on the field, height is not an advantage in donkey polo. The lack of a broom with a longer handle hampers his effectiveness. Despite his misgiving and ‘equipment’ challenges, Owen actually enjoys himself.

An easy win in their first match is followed by a hard fought loss in the second. The victors are good sports and send over a round of drinks. In all, it’s a fun afternoon (which also allows them to pick up some animal handling IPs).



Sunday, March 26, 2051:

Sunday is a schedule day off from training. Owen takes the opportunity to catch up on the NCAA basketball tournament in the cool comfort of their air conditioned living room. Hoops had gotten so much better since they adopted Streetball rules and wired up the players. Live trash talk feeds and being able to see the game from the perspective of the players really put the excitement back in the game.

Brandon sits down to join him, but is called to Commander Quinn’s office.

The time off allows Hanna to pursue some personal training. She wants to learn how to drive a tank, but logistics stands in the way of desire. The Bast Corporation doesn’t have any tanks on Cyprus. For the moment she will have to settle for reading about them. At her friend’s behest, Natty uses her clearance to access the Bast Corporation training library. She downloads the manual for the Paneuropa Gladiator Armored Car to a nano-drive.

“Start with this.”

Hanna looks confused. “I wanted to learn about tanks, not cars.”

“Just learn about this vehicle; then we’ll talk.”

The prowler shrugs and walks back to her room to look through the files.

Natty hopes she hasn’t discouraged her friend. She is happy to see Hanna taking some personal initiative in learning a new skill. Getting her access to a tank would be hard to swing, but the company has four Gladiators on base. If her clearance isn’t enough to put Hanna behind the wheel of one, Natty feels confident she could convince Quinn to authorize it.

The biogen hopes to spend the day with Nelson, but he doesn’t pick up. Instead of going to voicemail, there is an automated message. “The person you are trying to reach is not accepting calls at this time.” Natty wonders if he has already left for his ‘home visit’ in Egypt. There could be no cell reception. Practicing martial arts katas and playing the violin, help to work off her sexual frustration.

Quinn sees Brandon immediately. Never one for small talk, he gets right to the point. “How well do you know Cole Resnor?”


The Commander taps a file sitting on his desk. “The Global Share volunteer who says you recommended him for employment in the Bast Corporation.”

“I haven’t recommended anyone, sir.”

Quinn flips open the file and hands it to Brandon. Inside is an application for employment. The security operative sees his name listed under references. He starts to remember speaking with the ‘sketchy’ volunteer.

The Commander watches him intently from the other side of the desk.

“Oh, yes” Brandon returns the file to the desktop. “I remember him now. He was at the same Global Share seminars, we were sent to attend. He did ask if we hiring, but I wasn’t sure if we were. I directed him to our website.”

Quinn asks pointedly, “So, you are not recommending him for employment?”

“I don’t know him well enough to do that, sir.”

“Hmm…” The Commander relaxes back into his chair. He stares at the file for a moment before looking back to Brandon. “Our preliminary background check turned up few questionable incidents from his past. His application will be rejected, but there’s no reason to tell him. His Global Share orientation should be finished soon. Once they place him; that will be the end of it. If he asks before that, tell him his application is under consideration. “

He pauses to make sure Brandon understands. The biomechanical gives him an obligatory, “Yes sir.”

“Good; dismissed.”

Brandon returns to the duplex to watch the remainder to watch basketball with Owen.



Monday, March 27, 2051:

A loud metallic banging accompanied by a shrill voice yelling, “Let’s Go! Wake Up! Outside!” intrudes on Hanna’s pleasant dream. She looks over at the alarm clock, still half asleep. Its bright read numbers read 5:00. The prowler is tempted to bury her head in the pillow and try to get back to sleep, but the banging persists. The screeching banshee also sounds a little like Natty.

Hanna sleeps in the nude. Throwing clothes would be too much of a bother so she stumbles downstairs, au natural. Dressing would waste time. Her plan is to tell off Natty; then go back to bed. Owen and Brandon are already on the porch in their skivvies. Neither seems to notice her state of undress. The two men’s attention is focused on Natty and WO2 Thomas Elliot who are standing out front in their BDUs.

The prowler hazily registers that there are lights on in several of the other housing units across the way. Natty’s little stunt seems to have woken the neighbors. Though she can see faces in some of the windows the prowler makes no effort to cover herself. Nudity doesn’t bother her.

Natty stops banging her banging her baton against the side of the metal trashcan. She lays into them in her best (and somewhat comical) impression of what she thinks a hard ass drill sergeant would sound like (or as CyberBear put it, “she does her best R. Lee Ermey impression”)

“Well, so nice of you to finally join us.” She looks to her watch. ‘Four minutes. I am not impressed. You were told today would be a training day. Training began at 0500. You have not only wasted four minutes of my time, but that of Warrant Officer Elliot. You are also out of uniform. Suit up and report back here in 10 minutes. Go!”

Hanna wonders if being section leader has gone to her friend’s head, but she complies. Brandon and Owen shuffle back into their side of the duplex as well.

When the three return, suitably dressed, Natty shares with them, in her best drill instructor voice, what they will be doing for the next two weeks. “We’re going to run, and then run some more. I don’t want to see any of you stop unless you’re puking or dead. Fall in!”

The biogen sets off at a measured pace, followed by her three team mates. WO2 Elliot brings up the rear. After a warm up run of 10 miles, they head to the practice field for wind sprints and agility drills. Natty’s hope is to not only to increase the team’s overall endurance but improve their speed.

(GM Note: The players are earning IPs in RUNNING. This skill allows players the ability to gain extra speed for short distances. It is a modifier to Movement Allowance (MA))

Owen’s energy is quickly flagging. His body isn’t built for distance running. Though he is starting to lag behind he refuses to give up. Natty finally calls a stop at 1850 hours. Owen labors for breath, while she barely appears winded. He really hates her at this moment. When she gives them her ‘pep’ talk, he contemplates murder.

“That was pathetic. But don’t worry…we have plenty of time to get it right. We’ll start again tomorrow at 0600. Don’t be late; dismissed.”

Back at the duplex Owen is too tired to climb the stairs for a shower. He kicks off his boots and lies on the floor, with his feet propped up on the sofa. Having them elevated helps to relieve the intense throbbing.

Brandon returns from his shower and sits at the opposite end of the couch. In his miserable state, Owen is almost envious of the biomechanical. Nothing seems to faze him. The big man isn’t even sure why he’s running with them. He starts to feel put upon and vents to the only other person in the room.

“This is bullshit. Who ordered this anyway?”

Brandon’s reply is calm, almost emotionless. “As far as I am aware, it was Ms. Lanikova.”

Owen is dumbfounded. The pain in his body is forgotten as he rolls to his feet and storms off to confront their self-appointed task master. He doesn’t bother with bell. Pounding on the door helps release some of his pent up anger.

Natty invites him in and lets the big man rage. Natty had been told by Commander Quinn to tell Owen, if he complained, this was for him to work off the four filet mignons Crank ordered (and put on the company tab) in Lebanon. While it seemed funny at the time, such a response appears now to be mean spirited and besides, she likes Owen. Natty just hands him a copy of the written order, signed off by Quinn. Of course she fails to mention that the request for the conditioning regime came from her.

The big man grumbles over the orders, but the renewed pulsing in his feet leave him in no mood to argue. He quickly retreats back to the other side of the duplex for a long soak in a hot bath. Tomorrow is going to be a long day.



Tuesday, March 28 thru Saturday, April 1, 2051:

WO2 Thomas Elliot puts them through a rigorous conditioning and training program. Owen still isn’t happy with all of the running, but does it without complaint. Finding out that he is partially to blame for the current situation took some of the fire out of his anger. The physical aspect of their training is thankfully broken up with time spent practicing Tebu.

Duke, Mason and Nip are due back on Sunday.



Sunday, April 2, 2051:

After pushing the team hard all week, Natty gives them a day off from training. Hanna uses the down time to study the operations manual for the Marder Infantry Fighting vehicle. Brandon and Owen park themselves on the couch to watch basketball. Natty puts in a few hours working on her katas. After a long shower, she plays practices on her violin and bass guitar till Nip and the others return.

Owen is filling Duke and Mason in on the hell that awaits them, when Natty knocks at the door. Unlike the rest of the team, who has worked hard all week, today is not an off day for them. She sends the three returnees over the training center to catch up on their Tebu lessons on the Sega Atari teacher.



Monday, April 3, 2051 thru Friday, April 7, 2051:

Week Two of the new conditioning program pushes the Team to the limit of their endurance. When they are not running and exercising they are in class, having the Tebu language pounded into the brains. The training is tough, but no one complains (too loudly).



Saturday, April 8, 2051:

(GM Note: Since Mason’s player could not make the session; he had a mishap on the last day of training which would sideline him for the first leg of the next mission. The team members that had taken part in both weeks of training earned Running 1. Some even had enough IPs to improve their Endurance.)

WO2 Elliot releases the team at 1800 hours, but there is little time to relax or celebrate. Commander Quinn requests their presence in the briefing room at 2010 hours. He has a special assignment for the team.

When they have gathered, the Commander explains, “Global Share will be attending an international conference of NGOs in the Republic of Cabinda. While no direct threats have been made, there has been, ‘chatter’ that has raised concern. Your team is being sent ahead to assess the situation. You will then take over as the protection detail for the Global Share representative, when they arrive.

Owen presses for more details. “What is the nature of this threat?”

“The political situation in Cabinda is in transition. Opposition parties might stage protests to take advantage of the international press coverage, but there is nothing concrete at the moment. That’s why we’re sending you.

Brandon has a more pressing question. “Where is Cabinda?”

Quinn brings up a map of Africa on the digital wall display. “If you look here, you can see Cabinda.” The image zooms in as he points to an area along the continent’s Atlantic coast, just north of the mouth of the Congo River.

“The country is roughly 7200 square kilometers; sandwiched between the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formally Zaire). Cabinda was part of Angola, before gaining independence after the Fourth Corporate War.”

Natty is confused. “You said it borders the Congos. Why was it part of Angola?”

Though not germane to the mission briefing, Quinn indulges her question. “Cabinda was once a separate colony called the Portuguese Congo. During the Portuguese colonial period, administration of the two colonies was merged. When Portugal granted independence in 1974, the new government in Angola fought to keep Cabinda under its dominion. They didn’t want to give up control of the territory’s oil reserves and other natural resources.

Owen is still chewing on the Quinn’s answer to his original question. He ignores the Commander’s history lesson and tries to bring them back to what’s important. “Is the government stable?”

“At the moment … yes.” Quinn can see that his answer doesn’t satisfy Owen, so he elaborates.

“It took nearly 50 years of fighting for Cabinda to achieve independence. During that time, large numbers of refugees fled the country to avoid the conflict. We are talking tens of thousands of people. Some went abroad, but many sought refuge in the DRC, Republic of the Congo and even Angola. Since independence, the country has faced enormous problems coping with the status of these refugees. With a conflict that lasted half a century, many of those trying to return weren’t even born in Cabinda. They are second and sometimes third generation refugees.

Before independence, all of the profits from the sale of the Cabindan oil went to Angola. A poorly worded article within the country’s new constitution provided that each Cabindan would share in the wealth of their nation. Many took this to mean an actual financial share of the profits. It caused a mass migration back to the country that nearly caused a civil war. There is still bitterness on both sides.

The Nationalist Party has been in control of the government for the past ten years. They came to power by promising immigration reform and development, but their coalition is losing support. They may lose in the upcoming elections. The timing of this conference may be an attempt to score political points.

The Nationalist’s primary opposition is the Cabinda Democratic Union. Support for the CDU has been growing within the interior municipalities of the country. It has positioned itself as the champion of the refugees.”

Quinn’s explanation raises more questions than it answers. There’s nothing new to politicians squabbling over power, but Hanna is certain, there must be more to it than that. “So besides voting rights, what’s the difference between the two groups?”

“The main dispute is over how to use the country’s oil wealth. Nationalists want to build up the country’s industrial infrastructure, which means investing in petroleum production, refineries and building the country’s few cities into international centers of commerce. The CDU feel the money should be spent on upgrading the infrastructure across the entire country. They want to raise the overall standard of living and use the capital foster new home grown industries, like timber harvesting in the forests of the interior. “

Natty feels even more confused than when they started. “Why would this political conflict pose a threat to a conference of charities trying to better the situation in Africa?”

Quinn regrets ever indulging her first question. “It shouldn’t.” The tone of his response is abrupt. He stares them down, with a flinty gaze, ready to bite the head off of the next person to derail his briefing. When none rise to the challenge, he continues his briefing…

“Global Share will be sending four of its top administrators to the conference. Each will be accompanied by an assistant.” Photos of individuals appear on the wall display as the commander names them off.

Manuela Ferreira is a water resources expert. She will be accompanied by George Caceda.”

Several members of the team recognize the Brazilian, but no one says anything. They don’t want to interrupt the Commander and draw his wrath.

Douglas Schaeffer is the acting general council for Global Share. He will be bringing an associate from his firm, Julian Selmon.

Jonas Barton is the Administrator for International Operations in Africa. He will be interfacing with the local government and other NGO’s attending the conference. His assistant is Jill Polhemus.”

“Finally, there is Blaine Gosnar. He is a financial consultant to the charity and a member of Global Share’s board of directors. Mr. Gosnar will be accompanied by his personal assistant, Lurden Reyes and Gavin Cleary, his personal bodyguard.”

Quinn looks directly at Natty. “Mr. Cleary is to be considered a member of your security team. A dossier for each will be in your briefing packet. ”

Natty is certain that the backgrounds provided will be little more than what she could find looking up these people’s bios on the NET. She also can’t pass up the opportunity of looking into George and his friends in Limassol.

The section leader slides the dossiers over to Nip, “I want you check these people out yourself.”

“Got it,” the netrunner eagerly grabs the folders and starts flipping through them.

Owen asks about the weapons regulations.

“You may not bring assault rifles or any weapon that is not concealable. And no, long coats are not acceptable attire. This is a tropical country. Global Share has secured permission to bring a security detail, but hotel security is in charge of protecting the conference. Don’t antagonize them.”

(GM Note: After 50+ years of fighting, the country is awash in weapons. The government has enacted strict laws to try to stem the violence, but such regulations are hard to enforce outside of the cities.)

Nip looks up from a file. “What about hunting rifles?”

Quinn considers the possibilities of what could happen and answers, “No”. He counters, by suggesting they take SMGs. The Commander also recommends they take along non-lethal ammunition, for whatever weapons they bring.

Duke asks about flash bang and smoke grenades, but again the answer is, “No.”

Owen is feeling seriously under gunned. He makes a point of commenting aloud, “My Arnos are jacket concealable.”

Brandon quickly adds, “So are my 14mm Big Governments.”

“Those should be fine.” Quinn isn’t going to deny them their sidearms. He does however draw the line at silencers.

The Commander runs through the timetable for the mission.

“Departure time is 0900 hours tomorrow. You will be transported by C-23E Sherpa from Cyprus to Cabinda Airport. There will be one refueling stop en route in Khartoum, Sudan. Touch down in Cabinda is set for 0500 hours local time on Monday, April 10th. The C-23E will depart immediately after refueling. Hotel Security will host a briefing and orientation session for all visiting security personnel on Tuesday, April 11th. Global Share is not the only attendee bringing personal security.

Cabinda City Map

The flight carrying Global Share’s representatives will arrive on Wednesday, April 12th at 1300 hours. You will take over security from the personnel aboard the aircraft. After transporting the principles to the hotel, brief Mr. Cleary on anything discussed in the security orientation. The conference will begin on Thursday, April 13th. It is scheduled to run through Sunday, April 16th. The Global Share representatives will depart Sunday evening. If the need arises, departure can be pushed back to the following morning. Once the principles are wheels up, your team will be picked up by a C-23E for a return to Cyprus; any questions?”

No one speaks up.


Back at the duplex the team meets to discuss the mission. Natty makes a few recommendations and tells everyone pack their best armored clothes. She also suggests the wear their jungle BDUs on trip down. Sherpa’s aren’t known for their comfort or cleanliness.

Nip runs upstairs. She packs as quickly as possible then jumps into the NET. The netrunner knows she has a marathon session of data mining ahead of her. Collecting intel on that many people will probably take all night. At least there will be plenty of time to sleep during the flight.

Hanna stops Natty in the hallway after they finish packing. She drops her self-assured mask, so that her friend can see the fear behind it. “I have a bad feeling about this mission. I’m afraid of what might happen… I don’t think I can sleep.”

Natty reaches out to Hanna. She tenderly cups the other woman’s face, drawing her forward into a kiss. They share a bed and comfort each other.



Sunday, April 9, 2051:

Nip start’s her search with George Caceda. She knows the name, but it takes a little prompting from Fred for her to remember where they met. The netrunner remembers him mentioning that he was Brazilian. Nip slips into Global Share’s recruitment database and pulls up his application. In an attached essay, he mentions an older brother (Raul) who previously volunteered for Global Share. Cross referencing, she pulls up the brother’s Global Share file and skims through it.

The netrunner’s automated search routines (NET Crawlers) turn up some minor infractions in George’s past, but nothing serious. Raul appears to be the more interesting of the two brothers. He owns an import/export company based out of San Paulo, Brazil, which does a large amount of business in Africa. Hacking into his financial records would take too long, but judging by what she’s can access, Nip is certain that Raul didn’t have the money to set up such a business on his own. “Smuggler.” Fred agrees with her assessment. The two dive in for a closer look.

There are unable to locate any hard evidence, but Raul is suspected of trafficking in weapons; specifically those produced by Taurus Arms. Fred finds two grainy photos which place him at a meeting with the ‘Cossacks’ the team met in Limassol. By the time stamp on the pictures, the meeting took place two years ago. The accompanying surveillance log gives the names of the other people in the photos. There is an addendum in a different color font, marking three as members of a Cossack criminal organization. Nip makes a note to look into these names, when she has more time.

Because of her association with George, the netunner dives deep into Manuela Ferreira’s background. There are some unflattering pictures on the NET and rumors of several dalliances with younger men, but nothing that ties her to Raul or his company. As far as Nip can tell, she is a true believer. Born in Lisbon to a well to do family, she left a well-paying job in the private sector to go to work for Global Share. Manuela is 38, single and, from all appearances, dedicated to her vocation.

Douglas Schaeffer is Global Share’s legal representative at the conference. He is one of the founding partners of Schaeffer, Kleinman & Suk. A search returns no red flags. From what she can access, the firm look above board and well-respected. Given time, Nip is sure that she can find something, but she is less than a third of the way through the list. Schaeffer’s assistant, Julian Selmon is wholly unremarkable; middle of his class at Cambridge. He joined the firm two years ago and has so far had an undistinguished legal career.

Jonas Barton’s past intrigues her. Before joining Global Share, he worked for the HMDS (Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service). An image search returns a score of candid and posed pictures of Barton with a veritable who’s who of African leaders and government officials. Nip notices that during the years he was with the diplomatic service Barton was in Angola on several occasions. He appears to be clean, but to her trained eye, the data looks to have been scrubbed and manipulated. Whoever did it was very good.

Barton’s assistant was born on Cyprus. The 21 year old is the daughter of a (Greek) Cypriot father and British mother, Jill Polhemus enjoys dual citizenship. She used to be a ‘club kid’ in Limassol and from the pictures Nip is able to dig up on the NET was quite the wild party girl. Jill seems to have cleaned up her act since joining Global Share. She’s been with the charity for almost three years. After working as a volunteer, she became part of the permanent staff.

Nip’s investigation reveals that Blaine Gosnar is more than just a financial consultant to the charity. He is the chief financier and money man for Global Share. In addition to sitting on the board of directors for the charity, he is the CEO of his own investment firm, Lir Financial. Though data about his past has been partially sanitized, with Fred’s help, she is able to piece together evidence of at least three separate investigations for security and trade violations. All three appear to have been quashed by highly placed members of the British government.

There is little of note about Gosnar’s assistant, Lurden Reyes, other than she is of mixed descent, Indian (Hindu) and Brazilian and works for Lir Financial.

Looking into Gavin Cleary turns up a wealth of information, not just about the man, but his employer. Blaine Gosnar made his initial fortune working for the Martial Law Authority (MLA) in Great Britain. Near the end of the regime, he switched sides and became a Royalist. He traded his knowledge of the inner workings of the MLA for amnesty. It looks like he may have also used some of his fortune to grease the works of Queen Victoria II investiture by financing the removal of some of the more recalcitrant members of the old guard.

Gavin Cleary was at that time a junior member of MI-5. He was assigned Gosnar’s’s case and may have assisted with his conversion to the Royalist cause. Gosnar was under investigation by the MLA for certain improprieties. After the Restoration Cleary left MI-5 and went to work for Blaine Gosnar as his personal bodyguard.

There isn’t enough time for an in depth search, but Nip marks the file for further investigation. The picture of Gavin Cleary looks too young for him to have been alive at the time of the fall of the MLA. Cleary would be in his 50s. She runs facial recognition on the picture in the dossier against an older photo. The results come back with a 92.6% match. There might be a reason why someone would want to impersonate a former MI-5 agent, but Nip has not time to investigate further, she’s up against the clock.

She quickly composes a summary of the intel gathered on each principle and their assistants. Nip transfers her report to an encrypted nano-drive. It’s just after 0730 hours when she drops out of the NET. After a quick shower and a check of her gear, she changes into her BDUs. Nip takes a quick look at the clock. Forty minutes till departure.

The net runner is afraid to sit down or relax. As tired as Nip is, she could easily fall asleep. Fueling up on caffeine would just mean she would be wired during the flight. Fred advises, “It’s better to be early than late.” Taking her friend’s advice, she grabs her stuff and heads over to the air strip.

Thankfully, Natty is already there, conversing with a flight crew. Nip walks up to the section leader and hands her the nano-drive. “Here ya go.” She doesn’t even wait for an acknowledgement, but just staggers onto the plane like a zombie. The netrunner grabs the sleep inducer from her kit. After securing the rest of her equipment she unfolds one of the metal seats along the cabin wall and collapses into it.

Commander Quinn comes down to see them off and to give Natty some last minute information about the conference. The C-23E takes off on scheduled.

Natty makes copies of the Nip’s report and the new information provided by Commander Quinn. She disseminates them amongst the rest of the team to get their opinions. Human interaction isn’t her strong suit. They might pick up on something she missed.

Reading through the report for herself, Natty notices a potential problem. She shouts to be heard over the prop noise. “Owen, did you read the part about George’s brother, Raul?

The big man looks up from his eBook. “I’m reading through it now.”

Instead of waiting for him to finish, Natty gives him a summary. “It says he may be involved with Cossack gangsters, running arms to Africa.”

“I see that.” Owen reads a bit further then shouts back. “Nip doesn’t think George is involved.”

Natty is frustrated. He doesn’t seem to be getting her point, so she spells it out for him. “Wasn’t the club that George took us to a couple of weeks ago run by Cossacks? They seemed very eager to make friends with you and Mason.”

“So? Are you saying George can’t be trusted?”

The biogen sighs, “No, I just think you and Mason should be careful about any dealing you have with those people from now on. Tell me if they ask you for a favor, regardless of how innocuous it might sound. It could be nothing, but that’s how people get their hooks into you.”

Owen nods. She looks to Mason, who gives her a thumbs up.

After finishing Nip’s report, Natty opens the data file given to her by Commander Quinn. It contains a partial list of the conference attendees, along with background data. There are ten major NGOs with interests in Africa that will be attending, along with an equal number of smaller organizations and local charities.

The conference is being sponsored by O.R.G. (the Orochi Resource Group), which will be sending a delegation accompanied by a full security detail. The other major players that will be attending are the International Rescue Committee, Amnesty International, the Green Energy Collective, Make Them Whole, Domicile, Armistice International, Myco Culture and Aguas Abertas (Open Waters). As Natty looks through the list of guest speakers one name in particular makes her smile. Sean Kennon is schedule to speak on Friday afternoon.

The C-23E lands in Khartoum A little after 1630 hours. A ‘roach coach’ (lunch truck) drives onto the tarmac and parks near the plane. Always suspicious, when on a mission, Natty forbids any of the team members from going near the truck or eating anything off of it. They have to satisfy themselves with MREs. After some minor service work and refueling the plane lifts off a little after 2200 hours. Everyone on the team tries to catch some sleep during the final leg of the flight to Cabinda.



Monday, April 10, 2051:

The C-23E runs into a headwind, which delays their arrival at Cabinda International Airport by an hour. The plane taxis to a private hanger. Once the aircraft has come to a full stop on the tarmac, Natty unstraps and digs into her pack for a pair of jeans and casual top.

Owen can’t help but admire her assets as she shucks out of her uniform. He still questions her timing. “Couldn’t that have waited till we got to the hotel?”

“No. I don’t want to go through customs wearing a uniform. It sends the wrong message and might cause customs to scrutinize our gear more closely.”

Hanna follows Natty’s lead and breaks out a pair of civvies.

Owen catches the loadmaster staring at her as she gears down. “Hey! Keep your eyes on your station.”

The crewman laughs, as he raises his hands and gestures to the cargo hold. “This is my station.”

The rest of the team begins to change…all that is except Duke. He’s a little self-conscious about undressing in front of everyone. Natty is surprised by her fellow biogen’s bashfulness and actually laughs. To apologize for her insensitivity, she convinces Owen to hold up a tarp, so that Duke can change in private.

The team is expecting to be met by a customs official when they deplane, but the only person in sight is an older gentleman standing next to a white shuttle bus. He holds up a sign which reads: Bast Corporation.

The driver offer to load the teams luggage into the back of the bus, but they insist on doing it themselves. Owen continues to look around for a customs official during the loading process, but none ever appears. With the bags packed, they board the bus for the drive to the Cabinda Beach Resort and Convention Center.

(GM Note: Several players were suspicious that no one from customs showed up. The same players then started bitching, “If we had known there wouldn’t be anyone here, we would have brought automatic weapons.” Only Natty and Owen’s players had the foresight to try and sneak something into the country. Both had packed shotguns with shortened barrels and collapsible stocks (to make them jacket concealable). Each had packed a box of ammunition, with a couple of ‘special’ (illegal) shells hidden at the bottom. Natty’s player also hid her silencers in the frames of her luggage.)

Their first sight of the resort’s security apparatus doesn’t impress. There is no wall or other barrier at the property edge, only a manicured hedge. There are cameras, but physical security consists of a single middle aged guard, manning a windowed booth between the entrance and exit lanes of the main drive. He waves the bus through with a smile.

Cabinda Beach Resort & Convention Center_Small

Owen secures a bellman’s cart for their bags. The team heads for the front desk to check in. There are no scanways on the main entrance or security personnel in the lobby. Natty notes the surveillance domes set at intervals around the room. She can’t tell what’s mounted behind the opaque plastic, but they look to have the whole room covered. That doesn’t guarantee anyone is watching the feeds.

Nip looks over a map of the resort complex, while they wait for their room keys. The main building, in which they are standing, is five stories. There is a lounge and stores on the main floor off of the lobby. The remaining floors house the resort’s spa, restaurants and convention facilities.

Elevator banks to the north and south lead to the two guest towers that angle away from the main building. The map doesn’t show it, but the briefing material, said they were 10 stories tall. Both wings are identical except for on the penthouse level. The South tower has three executive suits, while the North only has two. The remaining space is taken up by a large AV pad. Nested between the two towers is a large pool area surrounded by manicured gardens. A wide terrace provides access to the beach.

Global Share has reserved the beach side half of the fifth floor in the north tower. Natty requests key cards for all of the rooms on their half of the floor. The needs time to sweep and secure the rooms before the Global Share representatives arrive. She hands out key cards and room assignments to the rest of the team.

Cabinda Beach Tower floorplan


513 – Duke Strider & Owen McGregor
514 – Brandon Heath
523 – Natalie Lanikova
524 – Hanna Woo & Nip Lacey

Room 515 is set aside for Gavin Cleary, which will place him next door to his principle. The team gathers in 522 after dropping off their bags. Natty orders a full security sweep of the room, before anything is discussed. It takes about 20 minutes to scan the bedroom and bath. Brandon finally announces, “all clear.” Nip, who had run her own scan, agrees. Tremblers are placed on the double panes of the sliding glass door.

Natty activates a white noise generator. “This is going to be our command center. Nip, I want you to start setting up. The rest of us need to assess the current security situation on this floor.”

Hanna volunteers what she observed on the way in. “There was a camera in the ceiling of the elevator. I counted three on this floor. One is positioned where it can watch anyone getting on or off of the guest elevators. The other two are set at each end of the hallway by the service elevators.”

Nip uses her deck to scan for remotes. “I’m picking up sensors in the air conditioning, television and mini-bar. There’s also a camera in the mini-bar.”

(GM Note: These remotes were nothing nefarious. The AC and television can be controlled by a remote or networked to a mobile device. The mini-fridge is set up with a card reader. A guest can either swipe their key card to charge items to the room or deduct funds from a credchip. As for the camera; it’s set up to monitor the contents on the mini-bar.)

Brandon points out, “When we were checking the room, I notice that the glass is thermal paned. It would probably block IR and thermo scans. The exterior walls seem to be shielded as well.”

Natty is skeptical that this is a security feature. “It could also be that the walls are well insulated to reduce the cost of cooling. We are near the equator.

Owen and Duke busy themselves with the blueprints provided by Commander Quinn. Owen points to the plans. “There are a number of service vents and ducts running through the walls. These vertical shafts look large enough for a person to move through. The horizontal ones are too small for a person…”

“But a drone could fit.” Duke’s interruption aggravates Owen, but he restrains himself from saying anything .

“Has anyone checked the stairs?” Natty’s question is met with silence.

Hanna jumps up. “I’m on it.” She is out the door before the others can say anything.

Natty calls out to Nip. “Tap into the camera feeds, but don’t alter anything.”

The others return to the problem of the ducts, while the NET runner accesses the system. Nip keeps them updated on her progress.

“There’s a tech on duty, but I’ve avoided his notice.”

Hanna finds a camera dome in the stairwell. It’s mounted high in the corner, opposite the door. She finds herself wondering if the camera has a low light filter. The prowler heads down to the next level to verify that there is a camera on each floor. Hanna is surprised by two large men in suits. They open the stairwell door, when she reaches the fourth floor landing.

The ‘uglier’ of the two demands, “What are you doing here?”

The prowler activates her ear bud radio before answering. “I’m checking out the stairway.”

Natty picks up Hanna’s transmission. She signals the others to activate their ear buds.

“Who are you working for?”

The prowler decides to play it straight. Lying would only cause more problems. “I’m with the security team on the floor above.”

There is a long drawn out pause before, like the two men are waiting for something. Mr. Ugly finally speaks. “Let’s go have a talk with them.”

Hanna gives them a smile, “Sure.” She turns to head back up the stairs.

“No.” There is a menace in that one word which makes her stop. “We’ll take the elevator.”

Natty gives them 30 seconds, then calls out to Nip. “Check the elevator feeds.”

“The cars are empty.”

Was it just a ruse to lure Hanna out of the stairwell? Natty heads for the door.

Nip yells, “Stop!”

“What’s up?”

“Someone looped the cameras on our floor.”

Natty checks the hallway through the peephole. “Reset the cameras and keep them offline.”

Seconds tick by. As soon as Nip gives the all clear, Natty slips out the door, followed closely by Brandon. The hallway widens down by the suites, providing them a corner to hide behind. Owen and Duke wait inside the door of the room, in case they need back-up.

They don’t have to wait long. Their footfalls are muffled by the carpet, but Natty picks up the sounds of movement in the hallway. She confronts two men as they reach the corner. Neither appears surprised by her presence. Their confidence irks her. She could kill them any time she wants, but they need to know what happened to Hanna.

“You have one of my people. Let her go.”

Her demand is ignored. The lead man counters with his own request. “I need to speak to your boss.”

“I’m in charge. This is a Bast Corporation security zone. You will get off my floor, now!”

The solo doesn’t look impressed. “Back off.”

Natty’s eyes narrow. She recognizes the menace in his voice. This is one of the guys from the stairwell. Now she really wants to kill him. “No!”

The two lock eyes. A voice from down the hall calls out. “Alright let’s stop this before it goes too far.”

The posture of the solo immediately changes. He steps back and stands down, like a dog being called off by his master. A well dressed older man, possibly in his late forties or early fifties, strolls down the corridor with Hanna at his side. He gestures to the two men in suits. “This is my security team. They were concerned when we saw this young woman skulking about downstairs.”

Natty turns to Hanna. “Were you skulking?”

“No!” The prowler feigns outrage.

The older man tries to diffuse the situation. “This has all been a mistake, I assure …” He pauses in mid sentence. A genuine look of surprise passes across his face. “Owen?”

The big man stands rooted in the hallway, his mouth open in shock. “Dad…What are you doing here?”

The elder McGregor smiles, “I’m attending the conference. Look, why don’t we all step back and pick this up in say … ten minutes … at the lobby lounge?”

Owen’s father withdraws with his bodyguards. The Team returns to their command center.

No one else seems willing to bring up the elephant in the room, so Duke asks, “So who’s your dad?”

Owen is surprised. “You’ve never heard of Lars McGregor?”

(GM Note: All of the players fail their Reputation rolls (5 or less on a d10). Brandon didn’t need to roll. Back when he was Grave, the cyborg, he worked with Lars in New York City (circa 2026). Of course Brandon will never admit this to anyone.)

The big man’s question is answered with shrugs and blank looks. “OK, how about Nikki Alexander or the Consortium?”

Those names elicit a reaction … mainly looks of fear.

Hanna asks haltingly, “So … your dad … he knows Nikki Alexander?”

“My father is her major domo; her right hand man. Whatever she wants, he makes sure it gets done. Something big is going down, for my dad to be here.”

Duke asks him, “What’s her interest in Africa?”

“She’s South African and we’re in southern Africa. I don’t know what they’re up to now, but her last little ‘project’ in this area, was kicking ORG out of Zimbabwe and then helping to overthrow the country’s government.”

Brandon’s face betrays no emotion, when he asks, “Did your father do that for her?”

“No, she sent him to Union City (NJ) to take out the Lacono Crime Family.”

(GM Note: The Union City, 2028 campaign is chronicled on Views from the Edge at http://vfte.cyberpunk.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=7607 Check it out for more info about Lars and Nikki.)

“Wait a minute.” Duke has a revelation. “Nikki Alexander kicked ORG out of Zimbabwe … Isn’t ORG the host of this conference and a major player in Cabinda?”

Natty tries to downplay down the situation. “It could just be a coincidence.” Stopping Lars or Nikki is not their job. She is more interested in the relationship between father and son. “Why don’t you work for him?”

Owen thinks for a moment before answering. “My Dad is a very scary man. I love him but … well … we have some philosophical differences.”

Natty checks her watch. “We need to get down to the lounge. Owen and Duke come with me. Hanna, finish your walk through. Nip, put together a quick dossier on Lars.”

The room is nearly deserted when they arrive. As the team members take their seats, two members of the hotel’s security staff take up positions just inside the archway between the lobby and lounge. Lars offers to buy them drinks, which his son is more than happy to take advantage of. Natty orders coffee but, hardly touches it. The conversation is cordial. They make an agreement to stay out of each other’s way.

The older man’s expression changes, when Natty asks, “What floor are you staying on Mr. McGregor? I just want to make sure that our security measures don’t interfere with anything you have in place?”

“I’m not sure yet. I requested a floor change after we ran into your girl. I’ll pass it along when the hotel informs us.”

Owen knows his father. There’s no way, he would leave his room assignment to chance. “I know you always have a NET runner with you, Dad. Maybe your Net runner should talk with ours, to avoid any problems.

Lars smiles, “That’s a good idea, son”

Natty catches the look between father and son. She sees an opportunity. “Well, I think we’re done here. Owen, why don’t you act as liaison with your father’s team?”

Lars answers before his son can object. “That’s a great idea.”

“Good, then that’s settled.” Natty stands to leave. Owen follows suit, but she stops him. “Duke and I are heading back upstairs. Why don’t you stay and catch up with your father.”

There is an uncomfortable silence between father and son while Duke and Natty leave the room.

Lars speaks first. “Why haven’t you called your mother?”

Owen is surprised that his father would know that. “I was afraid you might answer.”

There is another uncomfortable silence.

“I’m not there now … and she misses you.”

Owen has conflicting emotions towards his father, but he loves his mother. “OK, I’ll give her a call.”

“I have a meeting now, but Carl will tell you what we’ve learned about hotel security. I hope we get a chance to talk again.”

Owen nods. Lars stands and leaves. Carl takes the empty seat. This man’s face remains hard, but his tone softens, “It’s good to see you.” The two have known each other since Owen was a kid.

About a half hour later, Nip notes a group of people moving on to the rooms on the front half of their floor. They team quickly realizes that Lars McGregor and his delegation are their new neighbors. Natty quickly looks over the dossier she asked Nip to assemble. There is a notation about his favorite scotch. The biogen calls room service to make sure they have it in stock. She orders a bottle and requests that it be sent to the room of Lars McGregor. Natty promises an extra tip of20 euro if it’s there in five minutes. The delivery is made on time.

When Owen returns from the lounge the team has a security meeting. The room is still clean, but Hanna isn’t. Owen recognizes the bug. “They must have put it on you in the elevator.”

The prowler is incensed that she didn’t notice.

Natty grabs the device. “Take this back to your father. Tell him if he does this again, there will be trouble.”

Owen is back within minutes. His face wears a mixture of emotions. “He actually apologized … The bug was placed before they knew who we were. The large man hesitantly adds, “My father also said he was surprised it took us so long to find it.”

Natty is NOT pleased.

Owen can tell she’s pissed. He shares what he learned from Carl, in hopes of smoothing over the situation. “My father is heading the Armistice International delegation. I don’t know how that happened, but something’s up.”

Ever curious; Duke asks, “What do they do?”

“They try to end war by taking away the tools of conflict from both sides. It seems they specialize in rehabilitating child soldiers.”

Hanna catches a hint of sarcasm in his voice. “That’s a good thing, isn’t it?”

The big man sighs. “Knowing Nikki it’s more like rehabilitate some and offer the most talented a job in her private mercenary army. I bet she even resells the weapons they confiscate.”

Natty doesn’t care why Lars is here. If it doesn’t affect their mission, it’s not important. “Does your father’s NET runner want to meet Nip?”

“Yes.” Owen hands Nip a slip of paper. “Here’s the NET address. His handle is Arlen.”

The team decides to set up their own cameras to watch their side of the floor. They hard wire the system with nano-filament so that it cannot be accessed remotely. Natty has Nip use her remotes to place cameras in the service vents and investigate tapping into the controls for the elevators.

Later that evening, Nip and Fred venture to the NET address to meet up with Arlen. The NET Jockey’s icon is the image of a modern day cowboy complete with hat and Texas accent. Arlen seems fascinated, but also a little frightened by Nip and Fred.

“The Resort has two system techs”

Nip encountered one of them earlier. He didn’t impress. She jokes with Arlen. “I could have snuck past him without invisibility.”

Arlen agrees, “They leave something to be desired. It’s too bad, they have a modern system, but it’s so riddled with security holes and exploits.”

Their conversation is brief but productive. After leaving the meet, Nip and Fred cruise the NET researching Arlen and Armistice International. While waiting for a search to finish, the NET entity asks, “You know Arlen is an A.I. right?”

“I know,” Nip replies cheerily. “I think he’s also the founder of Armistice International.”

”So the guy, down the hall using his name…”

Nip is sure he’s just a decoy. “He probably needs someone to make public appearances. Let’s get back to Cabinda. We still have a lot of work to do before the conference starts.”





Episode 13 – The Conference Gets Underway



The team members have their meet and greet with resort security. A dissatisfied and paranoid Natty insists on a walkthrough. Rooting around the hotel ruffles feathers, but eventually reveals a threat that reaches beyond the confines of the conference. The team must contend with this new danger if they hope to keep their charges (Global Share’s representatives) safe.



War has erupted on the European Continent. The long running Czech Civil War exploded as the EU, who finally had enough of Poland’s support for the rebel Free Czech Army, sought a quick victory over the Polish nation in the spring of 2050. A resurgent Germany promised a quick victory, but the Blitzkrieg of 1939 was not repeated. The Polish Army resisted with fierceness and courage that surprised the EU forces. Russia and Belarus came to the defense of their Slavic brothers and sisters with ‘volunteers’ pouring in from those nations. The EU response was to attempt to destroy Russia’s warships of the Rocket Corps. The Komsomolsk and the Potemkin along with two large Russian transports were destroyed in orbit and the Russian space port in Kazakhstan was bombarded. The Gagarin in the asteroid belt was severely damaged, but still lurks out there. This brought Russian along with Belarus and Kazakhstan into the war officially. This attack caused the Scandinavian Bloc to declare neutrality and refuse to help in the EU war effort.

Ghost Team 1’s actions in the Czech Republic remain a secret from the EU. They have been transferred to Cyprus to work principally for the Bast Corporation’s main client in the region, Global Share. This Commonwealth NGO brings health services and modern infrastructure to developing third world nations. The Cyberpunk World is a dangerous place especially in these areas. It is the Bast Corporation’s job to protect this altruistic organization.


Dramatis Personae

Ghost Team One

Allison Cole (aka Hanna Woo) (Sergeant): Grew up in the Burn Notice Campaign and remained with her best friend from school, CatherineCat’ (Fisher) Vaduva. She is a high level prowler and martial artist with extensive covert operations training. Her cover was Vlada Roslykova on the recent Mission to Prague.

Brandon Heath (Warrant Officer 2nd Class): A solo who is an experimental Biomechanical (cyborg) with one of Doc Freeman’s ‘cyberbrains’. Brandon was originally Grave, a cyborg from the Fourth Corporate War, who was later (2026) convicted of authorizing the murder of a young hacker and his family. Grave was supposedly executed but the government put him in their Project Kill Switch Program (see Super Solo 2 Campaign for details). He recently served as head of security for the Petersen Point Resort.

Duke Strider (Sergeant): He is an experimental dog/human biogenetic hybrid made by the Collective on commission by the Bast Corporation. The Caitlins, who own Bast Corporation plan to create males members of their race but decided to make another species of hybrid first to test the science. His cover ID was Luke Walker from Texas during the recent Mission to Prague.

Mason Verge (Staff Sergeant): A former Marine Force Recon member turned freelance solo with a good relationship with the Thelas nomads. Mason came to the notice of the Bast Corporation while serving as a security officer at the Petersen Point Hotel during the Fall of the Cotton Kingdoms Campaign.

Natalie ‘Natty’ Lanikova (Warrant Officer 1st Class): ‘Grew up’ at the Petersen Point Resort when Brandon and Owen were there. A covert operative who most believe is the daughter of the late Lt. Alina Lanikova formerly of the Czech Special Forces (601st SOG). She is actually one of the prototype (former) Biotechnica ‘Caitlin’ clones trained to operate in the Czech Republic.

Nip Lacey (Corporal): This slightly crazy young woman is the result of a failed experiment to create a gestalt mind of several netrunners. This project also created Fred, a ferret looking creature that inhabits the NET that is fiercely loyal to Nip. While the girl is only 21, she has already earned advanced degrees in Computer Science and Robotics from Night City University. This has allowed her to create a physical body for Fred and a slew of small spider bots to assist her. She, Allison and Cat Vaduva went to high school together in Atlantic City.

Owen ‘Crank’ McGregor (Staff Sergeant): A young, muscle bound former United States Deputy Marshal turned free-lance operative. Owen is the eldest son of Lars McGregor, a ‘law enforcement’ official in the Union City (NJ) and major domo for a member of the Consortium. Owen has steered clear of his father’s shady connections. He was with Brandon at the Petersen Point Resort. His cover was Crank, the Food and Beverage manager there.


The NPCs

Alejandro Zanna is a media covering the NGO conference from Telam, the Argentine media giant.

Archibald Kincaid is a major arms dealer in the Angolan/Congo region. A couple of his recent arms shipments have been seized recently. It is rumored that Lars McGregor was responsible for this.

Arlen is an A.I. He is the prime mover behind the Armistice charity, which with the assistance of Lars McGregor and his associates, has grown into a global organization (Armistice International). Arlen began as an Autonomous Algorithmic Entity (Chatbot) within a social network. His avatar was coded as a down home Texas good old boy. Even after achieving consciousness he has maintained this personality and accent.

Blaine Gosner is a financial officer for Global Share that will be attending the conference. His shadowy past may have included selling out members of the MLA to the Royalists, in order to save his own skin. He has been involved in a number of dishonest dealings that have been hushed up with the help of his person ‘bodyguard’ and former member of MI-5, Gavin Cleary.

Carl is a friend and personal bodyguard for Lars McGregor. It is a hazardous occupation which has led to more than a few stints in the hospital. Though heavily augmented, Carl maintains a personable demeanor (when not working). He has known Owen since the latter was a kid. The two remain on good terms.

Commander Quinn: He is a retired British Navy commander from the Special Boat Service (SBS), who is in charge of all Bast Corporation para-military operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Douglas Schaeffer is an attorney that helps Global Share with its legal issues. He will be dealing with questions of law and NGOs at the conference.

Ettebi is a senior systems engineer for the Cabindan Ministry of Communications and an excellent NET runner. He is quick to anger and very proud.

Fred is a security guard at the Cabinda Beach Resort and Convention Center.

Gavin Cleary is the personal bodyguard of Blaine Gosner. He is a former member of MI-5 who made the transition to the current royalist government with Mr. Gosner. The former British agent reputedly helped cover up some of Mr. Gosner’s financial indiscretions.

George Caceda is a Global Share volunteer from San Paulo, Brazil. He is an expert in water treatment and sanitation. As such he will be Manuela Ferreira’s assistant. His brother, Raul, is also a former Global Share volunteer, but is now a suspected gun runner with ties to a Cossack mob in Cyprus. George is a good friend of the Team.

Guy Charles is a reporter, for Info Source Media, covering the conference in Cabinda. He comes off like a smiling over the top ‘plastic man’ (he was inspired by Sesame Street’s Muppet game show host ‘Guy Smiley’).

Jill Polhemus is a volunteer from Cyprus and is Jonas Barton’s assistant. This former ‘club kid’ has apparently grown out of her wild ways and joined Global Share as a way to get off Cyprus. Her father is a Greek Cypriot and her mother is English.

Julian Selmon is Douglas Schaeffer’s assistant. This young man so far has an undistinguished legal career.

Jonas Barton is an old Africa hand. He is at the conference to network with the reps from other NGOs and local government officials, who will be in attendance.

Lars McGregor is the major domo and right hand man of Nicole ‘Nikki’ Alexander, publically a wealthy businesswoman and philanthropist but privately a member of a shadowy group of powerful world political leaders and business people called the Consortium. She is the ruthless enforcer for that group and Lars is her number one ‘hit dog’. He is also Owen McGregor’s father. The two had a falling out years ago.

Lurden Reyes is a young woman of Indian (Hindu) and Brazilian extraction. She serves as Gosner’s assistant and works for his firm.

Manuela Ferreira is a water resources expert from Portugal. She is part of the Global Share delegation attending the conference in Cabinda.

Sergeant Andre is the commander of the Cabindan police’s security detail assigned to protect the hotel during the NGO conference.

Sean Kennon: A professor of Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh, writer and foe of First World neo-colonialism in Africa. He is suspicious of the works of NGOs in Africa.

Security Chief Martin leads the hotel security force at the Cabinda Beach Resort and Convention Center.


The Action

Tuesday, April 11, 2051:

Natty wakes early, to arrange ground transport for the Global Share delegation. She has her sights set on a Spinelli Autotech Spirit or Lexus LS, but ‘good’ limousines are a rare commodity in Cabinda. What few there are have already been secured by other parties. After exhausting all other possibilities, Natty settles for a ‘classic’ (older model) Lincoln Estate and a FAW town car.

(GM Note: The Lincoln Estate is a fictional vehicle. It is the limousine / livery version of a revamped and redesigned Lincoln MKT. The one that the team secured is over 20 years old. As for the FAW town car, The FAW Car Company is a subsidiary of the FAW Group Corporation, a (Chinese) state-owned automotive manufacturing company. FAW sold a luxury limousine, under its Hongque marque that was based on the design of the Lincoln Town Car)

Her search for an outrider motorcycle doesn’t fare much better. Natty, wants something powerful that can carry two riders. There are several for purchase, but among rentals, the pickings are slim. An old school Honda Fireblade with sidecar is the best she can do.

At 10 am, the entire team meets with resort security. Carl is already in the security office speaking with another man, who introduces himself as Martin. The latter looks to be maybe in his late thirties. High cheekbones and a strong chin frame a wide smile. He addresses them in English. “Welcome to the Cabinda Resort and Conference Center. My staff and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.”

The head of security gestures to a row of men, fifteen in all. They look like a cross section of the population, varying in size and age. The only thing that seems to distinguish them as a cohesive group is their ‘uniforms’, black slacks with black shoes and a pristine white shirt. They stand at a reasonable approximation of attention, as if waiting for inspection.

Natty notes the lack of holsters. If this is their official uniform, side arms must not be standard issue. It’s not surprising in a hotel environment, but could be an issue if things go south.

“Is this it?” Owen’s off the cuff comment echoes what many on the team are feeling. Fifteen men, seems a bit light to guard a facility of this size.

Martin doesn’t appear to take offense. “The others are on duty. I saw no need to pull them from their posts. I can introduce you to them after if you like.”

Carl singles out a scrawny youth. “What’s your job?”

The teen does not waiver, even with the solo’s towering presence standing directly in front of him. He remains at attention, straight as a rail. “I watch the road. If anything looks wrong I call the police.”

“Do you always stand in the same place?” the feline biogen asks.

The youth allows himself a smile at Natty’s question. “No, I’m smarter than that.”

He’s confident, if a bit cocky. She immediately takes a liking to him.

“Who speaks English?”

Natty’s question is directed at the entire group. Of the fifteen, only the teen and four others raise their hands. After a several seconds, a few more go up; tentatively. It was a straight forward question. There should be no reason for hesitation, unless they don’t know English and are only putting up their hands because they think it’s expected.

The biogen accesses the Kongo language chip slotted into her chipware socket. “Who speaks Kongo?”

There is no hesitation as all fifteen raise their hands. She sticks with Kongo during the introductions of her Team. Natty makes sure they all get a good look at each other. It could prevent ‘misunderstandings’ down the road. The section leader closes with her thanks to Martin and his men, for taking the time to meet with them.

Once the head of security has dismissed the fifteen, Natty asks for a word in private.

“Would it be possible for our NET runner to have access to your security network?”

Martin looks uncertain. She catches his glance at Carl, who answers with the barest of nods.

The solos, slight head jiggle seems to set his mind at ease. “Yes, that will be fine”

Lars and his people may pose a large problem than she first thought. This little interaction could explain how the security cameras on their floor were looped so easily.

Instead of thanking Martin, she turns to the solo. “Thank you, Carl.”

Yes it’s childish, but she wants him, and for that matter, to know she knows the score.

Carl looks at her impassively. The head of security tries to smooth things over. “If your NET runner can wait here for 10 minutes, we can set her up right now.”

Natty looks to Nip, who nods back dejectedly. She was looking forward to breaking into their system (again). It’s no fun when they hand you the keys. Then you have to be all responsible and not break anything.

Martin’s smile returns. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Yes. Would you be able to introduce me to whoever is in charge of the police detail outside?”

“Yes, no problem.”

Natty takes it as a good sign. The head of security didn’t hesitate or have to look to Carl for approval. Lars doesn’t have the local cops in his pocket … at least for the moment.

Sergeant Andre of the Cabindan Police Service is already on site. He joins them in the security office within five minutes. The sergeant greets them in English, but Natty notices he has a tendency to roll his R’s. There is also a tinge of a French accent.

“Préférez-vous parler en français?” (Would you prefer to speak in French?)

The Sergeant seems happily surprised, “Ah, Mais oui.” (Of course)

He listens contentedly as Natty introduces him to the team. This good humor disappears when she starts asking questions about the external security arrangements. Her questions are all valid, but it’s clear the sergeant doesn’t like having someone second guessing his preparations; especially a teenaged girl. Andre glances at Martin more than once, as Natty continues to ask questions.

The Sergeant exchanges numbers, as a formality, but his attitude towards her (and the Team) has decidedly cooled. He maintains an air of professional courtesy, but the section leader doesn’t think he’ll go out of his way to help them.

Owen waits till they are beyond earshot of Sergeant Andre and Martin to offer his personal assessment of the resort’s security. “I bet they run at the first gunshot.”

“I don’t know. This place is their livelihood. Some even have combat experience.”

Owen shrugs. She can think he’s being overly critical, but he’s still not going to trust them with his life or those of his fellow team members. “They won’t fight if it gets rough.”

It would be pointless to argue. There’s no winning that battle. Natty instead, addresses the entire team. “Starting tomorrow there will be no time off. If any of you want a few hours to kick back, now is the time.”

Fred and I will have our fun tonight. We still got to set up the closed security system on our floor. Plus I wanna get a crack at their security system.” Nip flashes an evil grin.

Owen announces he’s going to look around the hotel with Brandon and Duke. “We want to check out their security first hand.”

It’s clear he’s not asking for approval. Natty sees no reason to stifle personal initiative. “Good, I’ll join you later. For now I’m going to the pool to catch a little sun.”

The mention of lounging by the pool seems to rouse Hanna, “I’ll join you.”

Nip heads back to the fifth floor with Hanna and Natty. Brandon, Duke and Owen split up to cover more ground on their sweep. They start on the bottom floor of the resort’s main building and work their way up.

Brandon sees a door marked ‘Do Not Enter – Employees Only.’ The lock, like the sign, does little to stop him. Security eventually shows up to escort him back to the public areas. By the time they arrive he’s had nearly 10 minutes of unfettered access.

On a pass through the lobby, Owen is approached by two men. One has a microphone, the other a camera. Both seem to recognize him.

Mr. McGregor? Alejandro Zanna, from Telam; do you have a moment to comment on the conference?”

He considers blowing off the media, but that could come back to bite them. “Ask away.”

Owen’s answers provide nothing substantive. When Zanna asks about Global Shares’ heightened security presence, he falls back on the tried and true, “I can’t comment on an ongoing security operation.”

The Argentinian media lobs him some ‘softball’ questions, before finally asking the one he’s been dancing around for the past five minutes. “What do you think of the rumors of trouble at the conference?”

Avoiding the question or refusing to comment would leave Zanna free to fill in his own conclusions; which is probably what he wants. Owen doesn’t want to give him the satisfaction.

“We just plan for the worst and hope for the best.” The ex-marshal excuses himself and continues on his security inspection.

Like Brandon, Owen finds his way into the services areas. He is trying the door to the basement when a member of the housekeeping staff spots him. The maid backs away from the much larger man and disappears down a side corridor. Rather than leaving, Owen pulls out his lock picks. He wants to see if he can get the door open before security arrives.

Brandon and Duke finish their sweep of the first floor. They regroup and head to the lobby. The plan is to meet up with Owen and move to the second floor. Martin and two members of his security staff pass them in the corridor. Brandon notes their hurried pace. He nudges Duke and hooks a thumb in the direction of the retreating security officers.

The two turn and follow. They pass through a door marked ‘Employees Only’. No one questions their presence. One of the guards with Martin even turns back and looks at them. Trailing in the wake of the legitimate security personnel is like having an all access pass.

The two come around the corner and find Owen standing with the head of security. Both look in their direction. Martin has trouble hiding his anger.

Owen nods then turns back to the head of security. “As I was saying … we were conducting a penetration test to probe for vulnerabilities.”

The big man looks prepared to say more, but Martin holds up his hand. “Next time, just ask. I can send someone with a set of keys to show you around.” The head of security looks purposefully towards the basement door.

Owen considers explaining the point of a vulnerability assessment, but decides to simply say. “Thanks.”

Martin leaves behind the two security guards, to show them around. Both men look less sure of themselves, than they did this morning. Owen insists on a full tour of the basement.

A problem arises when they check the access points to the bus bar and power distribution system. Duke notices a long suspicious crack in one of the support pillars. Brandon and Owen keep the guards busy, while the biogen sniffs around for explosives. He doesn’t smell anything, but the crack is still a concern. Owen reports the situation to Natty.

She arrives about 20 minutes later, after a stop off to change and a visit to their command center. As far as Natty can tell, the crack occurred naturally. She asks the security guards, “Is there a resident engineer on staff or someone from maintenance that can come down here?” The section leader happily notes that both men are equipped with walkie-talkies.

After making sure the security guards are looking elsewhere, Natty slips Owen the four mini cams and audio bugs she retrieved from the command center. “Put one camera watching the backup generators, others at main power junction boxes and another watching where the power comes into the building.”

The engineer arrives to examine the crack. Natty is put off by his blasé attitude. “It looks to be shrinkage cracking. We’ve seen this in some of the other columns. We’ll monitor it to see if it becomes worse.”

The biogen knows a little about engineering. “Are you sure? That looks more severe than shrinkage cracks.”

The man shrugs, “Could be substandard concrete.” He looks around. “This could be a later pour. They added additional columns, when they changed the plans.

Owen seizes on the engineers last comment. “Can we see the plans … Do you have the originals.”

The engineer scratches behind his left ear. “They made a lot of changes. I don’t have them all … but I’ll show you what I have.”

The security guards stick with them for the trip to the maintenance office. Owen reminds his teammates, “look for access points or rooms that might have been closed off in later revisions.”

An hour of pouring over the plans, reveal nothing out of the ordinary. The team members split up, after their security ‘chaperones’ escort them back to the public areas. Natty returns to the command center to check up on Nip. Brandon and Owen head off to walk the resort’s perimeter. Duke decides to check out the neighborhood outside the hotel.

Leaving the resort is like stepping into another world. Hovels of plywood, corrugated metal and plastic sheet crowd amongst multi-story homes of concrete block. Duke had seen them on the bus-ride from the airport, but walking down the dusty dirt tracks that snake between them drives the reality home. He is shocked to find such squalor and poverty less than a hundred meters from the luxury of the hotel.

Duke catches sight of the teenager from the resort’s security force. The youth seems to be shadowing him from a distance. He pretends not to notice. As the biogen delves deeper into the surrounding shanty town, the expressions of on the faces of the locals become harder, more hostile. He’s also picked up a second tail. Duke makes an abrupt turn down a side track to make sure. The two young men follow.

Taking them down wouldn’t be much of a challenge, but he’s not here to start a fight. The biogen works his way back to the paved road. His sensitive hearing picks up the disappointment of his pursuers. “Damn. A little longer and we’d have had him.”

Natty listens patiently as Duke reports the situations outside. She agrees that venturing beyond the resorts grounds could be dangerous. The section leader has but one question for her fellow biogen.

“Did you go out like that?”

Duke looks at his clothes, not understanding. “Yes. Why?”

“You know, you have the ability to change your appearance to look like a local. You may want to try that next time.”

Brandon and Owen’s circuit of the property takes them past the loading dock. The sounds of someone shouting draw their attention to a box truck backed up to the dock. They approach cautiously.

Owen checks to make sure no one is in the cab then works his way back along the driver’s side of the truck. Brandon takes the passenger side. As the operatives approach the rear of the truck, the shouting starts again. The voice is masculine, yelling in Kongo. “What the hell are you doing? Are you stupid? Cradle it. That piece of equipment is worth more that your whole family.”

From his position, Owen can see two men wheel a large object through the double doors leading into the hotel. The voice continues harangue them as they disappear inside. Whoever is yelling is still inside the truck. The solo signals Brandon. “Cover the hotel doors.” Both men climb onto the loading dock. Owen approaches the open back of the box truck.

Two men are inside, positioning a four wheeled dolly under a large piece of equipment. The solo calls out in an authoritative tone, “What are you doing?”

His sudden appearance surprises them. In that moment of inattention their uneven load shifts. The piece of equipment threatens to fall over, but they are able to regain control. As they secure it to the dolly, the man closer to the door, yells over his shoulder, “Can’t you see we’re trying to get ready for the conference?”

“Who are you?”

The man stands upright. After taking a better look at Owen, he roars back, “Who the fuck are you!”

“I’m working security for the conference and I’d like to know what you’re doing.”

Owen’s statement only seems to stoke his anger. “I’m setting up the NET interface for your precious conference. I’d be done already if my regular crew hadn’t been denied access because of your stupid security checks. Instead, I’m stuck with these idiots?”

‘Replacement crew’ sets off warning bells. Owen pulls out a chem-sniffer, to scan the cases in the back of the truck.

“What the fuck are you doing?” The technician rages. “That’s my equipment. Stay out of it. You have no right…”

Owen ignores the man’s shouts, but is prepared if he attacks.

The yelling stops briefly then starts in again. Owen spares the man a quick glance. His new bout of shouting is into a cell phone. The solo goes back to ignoring him.

The workmen, who went inside do not reappear, but the resort’s head of security soon comes running. Brandon sees him coming and calls out to Owen, “Company.”

Martin reaches the loading dock only to come under verbal assault from the technician. “That’s it! I quit! I don’t need this shit!”

“No! Ettebi wait.” Martin turns to follow after the technician, who storms into the hotel. “This is all a misunderstanding.”

Owen shouts to the head of security. “Has that man been vetted?”

The question stops the man in his tracks. He looks back at Owen with a mixture of shock and anger. “Yes, of course he has. The government sent him. He’s the senior systems engineer for the Ministry of Communications.” The security chief wastes no more time speaking with him. He races off to catch up with Ettebi.

Natty receives a terse call from the head of hotel security about a half hour later. He warns her to reign in her people. The section leader does her best to placate Martin. She promises to take care of it. Personally, she doesn’t feel they did anything wrong. Even though the outcome turned out poorly, Natty would have been angrier if Brandon and Owen hadn’t checked out the truck.

That being said, they still have to be careful not to alienate local security. They could end up out of the loop or worse, bounced from the conference. Natty decides to join Brandon, Duke and Owen on their trip to the roof. It’s the one area they still need to cover on their security sweep.

They start on the North Tower with an inspection of the communications antennas and cellular arrays. The count is correct and a physical inspection turns up no taps or tampering. The AV pad proves to be clear as well. Natty would like to take a closer look at the defensive mini-guns mounted at the front and back of each tower, but doing so might draw the attention of hotel security.

Their presence already seems to have drawn interest from the occupants of the beachside penthouse. Natty catches sight of someone watching them from behind the closed curtains. She boldly walks over to the suite’s roof entrance and knocks. Though no one answers, the biogen can hear someone breathing on the other side of the door.

The team sets up remote cameras to watch the AV pad and doorway to the beachside penthouse. Natty makes sure that a camera and listening device are also placed in the in the elevator leading to the penthouse level. A member of hotel security shows up, while they’re finishing up with the cameras. Natty moves to intercept him.

“Good afternoon. How are you today?”

The man appears unmoved by her attempt at pleasantries. “We have received a complaint from the guests in the penthouse suite?”

The biogen plays coy. “I can’t imagine why. We were just up here looking around.” She moves in close and smiles sweetly. “What’s your name by the way?”

The security guard’s stern expression falters, “Uh, Fred, they call me Fred.”

(GM Note: Many of the employees at the Cabinda Resort and Conference Center use pseudonyms instead of their actual names. It’s meant to make foreign visitors feel more comfortable during their visit. Some of the employees actually enjoy the anonymity the pseudonyms provide)

“You shouldn’t be up here…” Though he makes an effort to regain control of the situation, Natty’s smile is disarming. She turns on the charm to press her advantage. “That’s alright. I think we’re finished up here.” She languidly looks back to the others to make sure their ready to go. “I sorry we didn’t call security to have someone show us around. I didn’t realize the pad wasn’t public access. We were going to head over to the south tower. I’d really appreciated if you could escort us.”

The security guard barely hesitates. “Yes Ma’am.”

Natty chats up Fred on the way to the south tower. The attention of a pretty girl does wonders for his attitude. His is talkative and friendly by the time they reach the roof. With a little coaxing Fred even gives up some information about the guest staying in the penthouse on the north tower. “He’s been her for almost three weeks. Comes and goes from the pad. I hear he’s with Petrochem” Natty tries for a name, but the security guard surprisingly clams up. “Hotel regulations forbid me from saying.” She doesn’t press the issue.

As the Team examines the roof, Natty notices that they are once again being watched from the seaside penthouse on the north tower. She waves. The curtain quickly shuts.

The south tower is clean, as is the roof of the main building. With the security sweep finished, the team members return to their rooms. Each enjoys their few remaining hours of free time in their own way. Brandon turns in early. Nip and Fred (the ferret) knock off work and explore the small NET in Cabinda. Natty enjoys a private dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, before meeting up with Duke at the discothèque on the second floor of the low five story center building of the complex. Hanna eventually shows up at the club looking for a rich man to entertain her. Owen eats dinner in his room then heads to the spa, for a long deep tissue massage.



Wednesday, April 12, 2051:

The Team has a morning meeting for a final run through of the pickup at the airport. Nip takes the opportunity to inform them a late night departure from the penthouse. “The hotel’s security cameras were turned off, but our camera’s capture an AV-9 landing at the roof pad. The men came out of the penthouse suite.” She brings up the pictures that Fred had captured. “They boarded the AV, which as far as we can tell flew out to sea.”

Natty wonders if the man in the center is the Pertochem exec. The other two appear to be bodyguards. Fred was able to capture some clear shots of their faces. Natty relays the photos back to Cyprus for analysis. Facial recognition will hopefully be able to tell them who they are. While they wait for a reply, Natty has the team run a final sweep of the representative’s rooms.

Quinn contacts her on an encrypted line two hours later. “The man in the picture is not a Petrochem executive. His name is Archibald Kincaid. He’s a major arms dealer.”

“Why would he be trying to pass himself off as a Petrochem Exceutive?”

The commander doesn’t have an answer for her question. He recommends that she have her people look into it; quietly. Natty has Nip look into Petrochem’s holdings in Cabinda. As far as the NET runner can find, Petrochem currently has little to no business in the country. They have been all but frozen of the bidding process, for new drilling contracts and other energy projects by the current administration. Further investigation will have to wait as noon is quickly approaching.

Natty assigns Owen to drive the town car and Brandon the limousine. She and Duke will take the motorcycle, dressed as tourists. She has her fellow biogen help unhook the sidecar. “We’ll be less conspicuous this way. And if anything happens, we’ll need to be maneuverable.” Natty doesn’t feel the need to mention she has no desire to be seen riding in a sidecar.

Hanna and Nip remain at the hotel to man the command center. Natty made the decision to assign both of them, so that Nip wouldn’t have to divide her attention between flying a remote and monitoring their rooms. She also wanted to leave someone behind to protect the NET runner. If something were to go wrong Nip would be nearly defenseless while jacked into the remote.

The Bell Mini-Bee swings wide of the airport, to avoid setting off a security alert. Nip zeroes in on a large group congregating near three busses near the back of the parking lot. It’s strange that they would park so far back to pick up or unload passengers. As the camera zooms in, she can start to make out the waiving signs and shaking fists.

“Guys, there’s something going on at the airport.” The NET runner relays her video feed. “I can’t read their signs from this angle, but they look pissed off about something.”

Owen radios Natty. “What do you what to do?”

“The protestors aren’t blocking access to the terminals. Take it slow, but keep going.”

Duke and Natty wait beyond the entrance as the two cars turn into the airport. At the sight of the limo and town car, the protestors double their efforts. Owen is happy to see a strong police presence near the terminal. Both vehicles are stopped and inspected before being allowed to proceed.

Owen sends Brandon inside to meet the Global Share delegation. He wants to stay by the cars to keep an eye on the situation outside. The biomechanical waits on the concourse holding a small sign that reads ‘Global Share’. The sign proves unnecessary.

George Caceda waves and calls out “Brandon!”

The Brazilian makes his way over with a stacked luggage cart. “How are you doing my friend?”

Brandon shakes his hand. “I’m fine, Mr. Caceda.”

“Hey, call me George. No reason to be so formal.”

The security officer maintains his professional demeanor. “That wouldn’t be appropriate,”

“OK.” The Global Share volunteer looks disappointed, but seems to understand. George’s normal exuberance soon returns as he introduces the security officer to his fellow attendees. Brandon is polite, but does his best to usher them to the exit as quickly as possible. There are no surprises on the ride back to the hotel.

Natty has Hanna come down to meet Owen and Brandon at the lobby. She leaves the three of them in charge of moving the delegation and their luggage from the cars to the fifth floor. This allows her enough time to change into an outfit more befitting her position and to be in ready to greet them as they step off of the elevator.

The representatives are more than willing to abide by her request that everyone remain on the floor, till they receive a security briefing. Most are happy to just settle into their rooms. It was a long flight.

Gavin Cleary politely insists on running his own security scan of the rooms where Blaine Gosner and Lurden Reyes will be staying. Natty can appreciate the need for a certain level of professional paranoia in their line of work. Instead of being offended, she sees it as a potential learning experience. Even if he refuses her request, that will tell her something.

“Would you mind if I accompany you on the walk through?”

There is no hesitation in the bodyguard’s response. “If I’m not taking you away from something more important, that would be lovely.”

Once Blaine and Lurden are safely moved into their rooms, Gavin joins the team in the command center. Natty briefs him on the security arrangements and on the results of yesterday’s security sweep. With some prompting from Duke, she also brings up the situation in the neighborhood outside the hotel.

Gavin listens quietly. When Natty finishes her briefing, he looks through the prepared reports, nodding every once in a while, as he reads.

“I don’t see anything in here about the protestors at the airport.”

“It’s a new development. Local law enforcement is keeping them away from the airport. We can monitor the situation by remote. I also have a contact with the local police who can notify us of any changes.”

The former MI-5 agent looks around the table. “Everything looks good then. The six of you have done a bang-up job.”

Natty, tries to not let the compliment go to her head. “Thank you. Would you have any suggestions on how we could tighten up our security?”

“I do have some intel that might be helpful. There are six persons of concern.” Gavin produces a small data drive from his pocket and plugs it into the tablet. “These five have been observed on the hotel grounds.”

The first four photos are members of Lars McGregor’s group. There is a picture of Lars himself, as well as one of Carl. Natty recognizes the other two his security detail, but never learned their names. The fifth photo is of Archibald Kincaid.

As a former member of MI-5, it’s not surprising he would have access to such information. Natty wonders if this is some kind of test. If so, full disclosure would be the safest course.

Lars McGregor moved his rooms after we arrived. He’s now down the hall.”

A raised eyebrow is all the indication Gavin gives, that he was unaware of the room change. There is no reaction to the subsequent announcement that Owen is Lars’ son. Seeing as how it doesn’t appear to be an issue, Natty moves on. She points to the image of Archibald Kincaid.

“As I mentioned during the security briefing, this man left the hotel by AV last night. He came out of the beachside penthouse suite on the top of this tower. According to security, that suite is currently occupied by a representative from Petrochem. There have been no landings on the pad since last night and he has not returned to the penthouse by elevator. We have cameras set up to watch both. ”

Natty lets that sink in before asking, “You said there were six?”

The former member of MI-5 opens a second image file. “Do you know this man?”

The photo of Sean Kennon brings a smile to her face. “Yes, we’ve met before. He’s an interesting man.”

Gavin offers no comment. He seems equally unconcerned when told they will be sharing security intel with Lars McGregor’s team.

With no objections raised, Natty moves on to security assignments. “Owen you will be protecting Doug Schaeffer and Julian Selman. Duke, I’m assigning you Jonas Barton and Jill Polhemus. Brandon you take Manuela Ferreira and George Caceda. Gavin you will of course be with Mr. Gosner and Lurden Reyes. Does anyone have any issues with their assignments?”

Gavin adds one additional wrinkle. “If you find yourself in a situation where it is impossible to protect both of your charges, the principle’s safety is paramount. The assistants are secondary. God willing, it won’t come to that. As an added precaution, each member of the delegation has been issued a security car. Snapping the card will activate an RDF chip. The signal can be tracked through this app.”

Gavin holds up his phone. He offers the tracking software to the entire team. Each member of the protective detail is given the specific ids for their charges. Natty requests the IDs for the entire group. Hanna and Nip decline the app.

(GM Note: Several of the players expressed reservations about installing the tracking app on their phone. As some of them suspected, it was a double edged sword. The app not only allows them to track the individuals they were assigned to protect. It would also (if activated) allow Gavin to track their positions)

Natty gives Gavin one of their ear buds. She hands it to him in front of the rest of the team, so they know he’s plugged into their communications network. The implication being, if you want to say in private or complain about him do it off channel.

With this last formality out of the out of the way, they bring in the representatives and their assistants for a quick security orientation. As a precaution, each is scanned before entering the room. Natty introduces her entire team. She goes over their security arrangements and the situation outside the hotel. Interest in leaving the property quickly wanes. Preparing for the conference takes priority for the majority of the delegation. Those that venture out of their rooms only go as far as the hotel restaurant or lounge.

Once things quiet down, Natty suggests Owen tell his father about Archibald Kincaid. The solo agrees, but goes looking for his head of security instead. Giving the information to Carl is as good as telling his dad, just without the awkward family drama.

Nip and Fred monitor the NET throughout the day. Coverage of the protest at the airport picks up as the afternoon passes. Hanna keeps a watch on the corridor.



Thursday, April 13, 2051:

The conference’s opening ceremonies take place in the Grand Ballroom on the fourth floor of the resort’s main building. Duke subtly sniffs the other occupants in the elevator car on the way up. No one seems to notice. He has become adept at masking this small action. The biogen has already familiarized himself with the scents of Jonas Barton and Jill Polhemus.

Everyone else on the elevator smells ‘normal’, except for one of the media. He has no scent at all. Lack of scent may mean a borg. Duke takes note of the name and news agency listed on the press credentials hanging around the man’s neck (Guy Charles; Info Source Media). When the elevator doors open, he lets the media exit first. The biogen sub-vocalizes his suspicions to Natty.

She works her way over to Duke. “Where is he?”

“Third back on my right.”

Natty makes a pass to validate his suspicions then contacts Info Source Media. The section leader politely identifies herself and explains the reason for her call. No one seems willing to answer her questions. They merely place her on hold to pass her off to someone else. After the sixth time Natty is finding it hard to remain polite. She makes it simple for the person on the other end of the phone. “Look, you’ve kept me on this call for over twenty minutes. You should have been able to verify who I am by now. All I’m asking is for answers to two questions. Did Info Source Media send Guy Charles to Cabinda and is he a cyborg? If you don’t feel comfortable answering me, I can go over and ask him myself.”

The ‘threat’ of a confrontation does the trick. Natty has her answers. Guy Charles is on assignment in Cabinda, but he isn’t a borg.

“Thank you. Was that so hard?” Natty disconnects the call. “Owen, you heard?”


“Would you see if you can have a word with Mr. Charles?”

“I’m on it.” The solo begins to move in the direction of the media.

Natty watches their target answer his phone. His smile turns to confusion then anger. The media looks around. By the change in his, she’s pretty sure he’s seen Owen walking purposely towards him. That look of shock mingled with fear is not something she’d expect from a borg.

Owen reaches the media. “Mr. Charles? May I have a word?”

“What do you want?” Guy asks guardedly.

“It has come to our attention that you don’t have a scent. Would you please explain why that is?”

The media’s initial caution gives way to anger. He doesn’t try to keep his voice down. “It’s none of your business!”

“Yes it is, sir. There have been threats to the conference. I am with security.”

“You think I’m a threat?”

People begin to turn to see what’s happening. Natty groans inwardly.

Guy seems to realize they’ve drawn an audience. He leans in and whispers, “If you must know, I have a condition.”

Owen maintains the same even tone. “What kind of condition?”

The media’s face reddens. His eyes narrow in a scowl. With great effort, he finally manages to regain control. Guy motions for Owen to follow him to the corner of the room. It’s as private a place as their going to find in the crowed Ballroom. “I was born without any sweat glands. I have specialized synth skin to help with my affliction.”

Natty sees no reason to pursue the matter further. “Owen, Info Source confirms his identity. Apologize and get back to your charges.”

The ex-marshal makes a gracious apology and withdraws.

The rest of the opening ceremonies are not marred by this minor disturbance. After the gathering breaks up, each representative moves on to their scheduled seminar or panel. This leaves Natty time to indulge in her own personal obsession; learning the identity of the mystery guest in the penthouse. Her feline nature just won’t let it go.

She seeks out Sergeant Andre. Protestors have yet to gather outside the hotel, so he is willing to spare her a couple of minutes. Natty tells him that the infamous arms dealer, Archibald Kincaid was at the hotel. He flew out by AV two nights ago. Her revelation doesn’t have the impact she was hoping for. The Sergeant is a very pragmatic man.

“So he’s not here now?”

“Well, no.”

“What should I do about it then?”

This might be a tougher sell than she first thought. Natty walks him through why he should be concerned. “Whoever he was meeting with is still upstairs in the penthouse. The room was rented by Petrochem. Don’t you find it odd that Petrochem would have someone in Cabinda, staying at the very hotel where a conference sponsored by O.R.G. is just getting underway?”

She can see the wheels in his head start to turn. “If whoever is upstairs poses a threat to the conference, wouldn’t that be bad for Cabinda. Natty doesn’t add that it might also be bad for his career. Andre looks to have worked that out for himself.

“It bears checking …”

The Sergeant’s resolve seems to waver. Natty wonders if he is starting to consider what might be waiting for him on the other side of that door. She tries to divert his thoughts.

“Before you go up, we should wire you.”

‘Wire me for what?”

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to have out technician a mini-cam and microphone to your uniform. It will let us see what’s going on, so we can back you up if needed. Whoever is up there has been keeping a low profile. I don’t think they’d blow it now. Especially if they think they’re on camera. ”

Andre mulls it over and agrees.

Natty joins Hanna and Nip in the command center. They watch on the monitor as Sergeant Andre approaches the door to the suite and knocks.

“You are recording this, right?”

“Of course,” Nip almost sounds hurt that Natty would ask her such a question.

“Sorry.” She asks more to assure herself. Watching the sergeant waiting at the door, there is tingling fear that she might have sent him to his death.

Andre knocks a second time. By the timestamp on the video feed, 42 seconds elapse, after the second knock, before a man answers the door. He is tall and well built, with dark skin and close cropped hair. The angle of the camera makes it hard to read the man’s expression.


Natty thought it would presumptuous to coach the police officer on what to say. She just hopes he come up with something better than asking if he can check the room to see if they are harboring a dangerous arms dealer.

“We are looking for a man who may have snuck into the hotel. Have you seen anything out of the ordinary?

The man doesn’t even blink. “No.”

“Would you mind if I took a look around?”

“Do you have a warrant?”


“Then fuck off.” He slams the door in the sergeant’s face.

Andre returns to the elevator and presses the button for the 5th floor.

“Send a copy of that image to Cyprus for facial recognition.” Natty leaves the command center to retrieve their camera and bug from the police sergeant. While unhooking him, she asks, “Can you get a warrant?”

The biogen isn’t that familiar with Cabindan law to know if he even needs a warrant. The team’s preparation had mainly focused on gun laws. The sergeant is surprisingly upbeat, if somewhat pessimistic. “A few pictures and suspicions aren’t much to go in with, but it doesn’t hurt to try.”

Meanwhile, down in the main conference Owen has a second run-in with Guy Charles. This one is instigated by the media. He approaches Douglas Schaeffer asking for a quick interview.

“You’ve caught me on the way to another meeting. I have time for two questions.”

“Thank you Mr. Schaeffer. I’ll try not to take up too much of your time. Do you find your security to be overzealous in pursuit of their duties?”

“What?” The attorney was expecting a question about his thoughts on the conference or on the country. This one comes from left field and catches him off guard.

The media begins to explain his embarrassing situation from earlier that day. If there’s a second question in there, it’s not an obvious one. Julian Selmon steps forward to ‘handle’ the media. Owen wisely remains silent.

During a routine patrol of the hotel’s NET Nip encounters two other NET runner trying to hack a smart glass display setup in one of the conference rooms. Though both were running invisible, her clairvoyance program was able to detect them. Neither appears capable of piercing her invisibility.

The NET runner notifies Natty, who informs the rest of the team. Since Brandon is the closest, she dispatches him to the conference’s operations center to tell Ettebi. Nip watches as a fiery winged effigy materializes in the NET. Waves of heat issue from its burning eyes. One of the would-be hacker’s invisibility collapses, shimmering away like a mirage. The flaming maw of the beast gapes wide, releasing a Hellhound which tears into the hapless NET runner’s avatar. The second intruder flees, jacking out of the system.

Burning eyes turn in Nip’s direction. She has a moment of doubt, but the great head of the beast merely nods. The avatars fiery wings begin to fold in upon themselves as if sucked into some inner vortex. It wavers for a moment then disappears with a loud pop. Nip is relieved that she had the foresight to show Ettebi her icon before the conference started.

Commander Quinn contacts Natty near dinner time.

“We’ve identified the man in the picture you sent. His name is Theoneste Bengu; quite the resume on this one. Contract work seems to be his specialty. He’s suspected in at least a dozen murders. Anything I should know?”

“Not yet, but I will keep you apprised.” The section leader thanks him for the information. Now she’s really curious.

At the close of the day’s session, most representatives return to their rooms. Brandon remains at a discreet distance, while Manuela and George enjoy a private dinner. Afterward, he shadows them to the discothèque, where they look ready to dance the night away. It’s obvious that their relationship is more than professional.

Jonas imperiously dismisses Jill to prepare for tomorrow morning’s seminar. Duke notifies the rest of the team that the two have separated. He sticks with the Operations Administrator. Jonas meets with another man at the bar on the second level. The two embrace like they are old friends. The man has dark skin and speaks Kongo like a native. Jonas calls him Anthony.

Duke backs off, to let them talk in private. There would be no reason for them to suspect that his sensitive hearing lets him to eavesdrop on their entire conversation. As the two swap old war stories, the biogen learns that Jonas’ friend was a rebel and he was more than a member of the diplomatic service. Those heady days of youth are far behind them. Anthony has settled into a comfortable government job. Jonas asks after his wife and children.

Duke carefully sub-vocalizes the information to Natty. She has Nip to look into the man. They only have a first name to go by, but knowing his position in the government and his wife and children’s names at least give her a place to start.

Everyone is back upstairs and in their rooms by 10:15 pm. Natty turns in at 10:30 pm. The biogen sets her sleep inducer for 1:30 am. The beachside penthouse is still weighs on her mind as she activates the device. Tomorrow she’s going to get to the bottom of who is in the penthouse suite even if it kills her … well hopefully it won’t kill her.



Friday, April 14, 2051:

Natty snaps awake at 1:30 am. She sneaks up to one of the still unfinished penthouse suites on the South Tower. The biogen activates her Ice Blue system to mask her IR signature; then hunkers down to watch. Thick walls and thermal paned glass hide the secrets within. Luckily, some is up even at this god forsaken hour. Shadows moving through the lighted rooms and the occasional sight of a figure at the curtain lead her to estimate the number of targets at five.

A little after 3 am an AV-9 touches down on the pad. Telescopic vision and keen night sight allow her to identify three figures, probably male, moving from the vehicle to the penthouse. One of them carries a briefcase … another, a duffle bag. The AV lifts off once all three are inside. It seems an odd hour for a Petrochem executive to be receiving guests.

She watches for another half an hour, but there is no further movement. Natty returns to the command center. A review the team’s security footage makes her suspect the three men were aware of the locations and positioning of the hotel’s cameras. They took pains to avoid having their faces photographed. Not the actions of innocent business men.

Natty calls Commander Quinn on the encrypted satellite phone. The man is an early riser, but 4:30 is a little early even for him. “What is?” he asks irritably.

“We’ve had three new arrivals at the penthouse. They arrived by AV around 3 am.”

“Are you certain they’re new and not the same three who left returning?”

“Yes sir. I’m sure.”

Quinn sighs. “What do you need?”

“Can you confirm the location of the Petrochem executive who is supposedly in residence?”.

“I’ll look into it, but it might take a while.”

Natty hangs up with the Commander then immediately texts an alert to her team and Gavin Cleary. ‘Security Meeting Now!’ She enters Nip and Hanna’s room through the connecting door and rouses them personally. The section leader has them run a security sweep of the command center, while they wait for the other to show up.

Natty scans each of them as they enter the room. Everyone is assembled within 10 minutes. “We have a development upstairs.” She presses play to show them the security footage. “An AV dropped off three new ‘guests’ earlier this morning. I’ve briefed Commander Quinn and requested that he ascertain the whereabouts of the Petrochem executive who is suppose to be in this suite. Until we have confirmation I can’t request tactical authorization. However, that does not mean we should hold off on making preparations for a breach.”

“What about sending grid bug?”

Nip is all for Owen’s suggestion. “I can do that. They’ll never know I’m there.”

Natty knows better than to doubt her friend’s skill, but the situation is delicate. “I’m hoping it’s nothing more than some executive banging his secretary. The most we risk by being caught is embarrassing the Bast Corporation. But, if this is a top edgerunner team and they detect our intrusion … we tip our hand.”

Gavin speaks up. “I could make a few inquiries.”

“Thank you. That would be an enormous help.” Natty addresses the entire group. “From this moment, we are on alert. No one goes back sleep. Unpack you armor and check you weapons, but keep it low key.”

Natty man’s the command center while the others return to their rooms to prepare. Gavin returns about an hour later, with news.

“The Petrochem executive left ten days ago. On the day he was scheduled to leave, the penthouse reservation was extended through the end of the conference. The deposit to secure the suite for that additional period was held against a different account. My sources are still trying to track down the owner, but it is definitely NOT an official Petrochem one.”

Natty radios Owen, “Would you go down the hall and invite Carl to the command center? I think he needs to hear this.”

The section leader signals the rest of the team to return to the command center. She contacts Commander Quinn to brief him of the latest intel and volunteer an opinion of how they should proceed. “Whoever is up there has overstayed their welcome. I believe we should revoke their reservation.”

“Are you asking what I think you’re asking?”

“I don’t intend to go in shooting, but I want approval to use deadly force if necessary. I believe whatever is going on, poses an imminent threat to this conference.

Her assessment is met with silence. If the Commander was going to say no, he would have just said it. Natty takes his silence as a sign that he is considering her request. She counts down from 10 to maintain her calm. Reaching 0 with still no answer, Natty starts to become unnerved, “Sir?”

Her prompting draws a response. “You are authorized to take whatever action you deem necessary.”

The biogen can’t help but smile. “Thank you, sir.”

“Don’t make me regret this.” Quinn disconnects the call.

When briefed, Carl agrees that something has to be done. The question becomes what to do. After the reception Sergeant Andre received, it would be comical to think they would just open the door and invite them in. As the team deliberates their next move, Natty has, what she considers, a brilliant idea.

“Why don’t we just cancel their reservation?”

Gavin looks at her dubiously. “So your plan is to kick in the door and start shooting?”

“No, I’m not speaking euphemistically. Why don’t we literally cancel their room reservation? Do we know what the security like on the system that controls reservations and room occupancy?”

The NET runner and Carl answer in unison. “Pathetic.”

“Good. Nip, I want you to access the hotel computer. Change the suite’s status to vacant and mark it for expedited cleaning? We want to get housekeeping up there as quickly as possible. Carl, can we get Arlen on line to block any attempts by anyone trying to alter the status after we change it?”

“I will ask.”

Housekeeping normally does not start making their rounds till 7:30 am, but because of the expedited request, two maids are dispatched to the penthouse level at 5:30 am. Carl and Lars are in the command center, watching with the team, as one of the maids slides her key card through the electronic lock. The light on the lock flashes green, but the door won’t open. A second attempt yields the same result. The maid tries knocking, several times, but there is no answer. Unable to access the room, they leave.

Nip monitors an internal call placed to the maintenance department. A second call is made to security. “They’re dispatching four security guards to escort a maintenance man.”

Natty can hear the surprise in her friend’s voice. She wonders if Sergeant Andre had shared her suspicions with Martin.

When the party reaches the roof, two of the security officers escort the maintenance worker to the penthouse door. The other two guards move towards the AV pad. When the man begins to work on the lock, the hotel’s camera feeds on the roof suddenly go dead. The microphones planted by the team pick up the unmistakable sound of a mini-gun firing.

The feed from the camera watching the roof pad shows the two security officers turning to respond. Brilliant flashes momentarily distort the image. By the time it fully clears, both guards are down, being zip tied by a pair of figures clad in black. After subduing the two members of hotel security, they fall back to the penthouse.

Nip and Arlen take over the hotel’s security system. Natty contacts the security office. It doesn’t take Martin long to realize he is in over his head. He gratefully accepts her offer to help.

“We will do what we can, but we’re a little outgunned. All we have are our pistols and two shotguns.”

The head of hotel security releases a couple of FN-RALs for the team’s use. Natty mutes the call to ask Lars if his people need any weapons.

“We’re good.”

His enigmatic smile and the indulgent tone he uses, sets her teeth on edge. It sounds patronizing.

A call to Sergeant Andre scores them a pair of M-79 grenade launchers. He can’t spare any of his men from the perimeter, but he hopes the weapons will help.

Lars looks at his watch. “They’ve probably already called for extraction.”

The thought of losing her quarry makes Natty seeth with anger. “I won’t let them to get away.”

“Wait, do we have a plan?” Brandon doesn’t remember hearing one.

“Maybe we can use the mini-guns.” Owen asks, “Can the mini-guns be turned to fire on the penthouse?”

“No,” Arlen’s southern drawl comes through the speaker. “The mounts aren’t built to traverse that far. The guns can’t hit the hotel but they do cover all aerial approaches. Those guy aint goin anywhere”

Martin and Sergeant Andre join Carl, Lars and the team in the command center. The head of security brings along the plans for the north tower, as Natty requested. He also has a status update.

“The ninth and tenth floors are almost cleared. The guests are being moved to the Grand Ballroom. We can clear the rest of the tower if you think it’s necessary.”

“I would; just to be safe.”

If they somehow escape containment, Natty doesn’t want leave them potential hostages. There’s no reason to believe the people upstairs aren’t pros. Breaching the door would be suicide. Nip confirmed the blast from the mini-gun didn’t come from any of the one’s mounted on the roof. That means their also heavily armed.

Natty looks at the duct work but quickly rejects that idea. If it was her up there, they would already be blocked or booby-trapped … the grain of an idea starts to form.

Mr. McGregor, does your team have any explosives?”

The same half smile returns to his lips; “Of course.”

She meets it with one of her own.

Natty seems to forget the others can’t read her mind. Instead of explaining, she turns back to the technical plan to run a calculation.

“So … are we blowing the door?”

“No.” In answer to Brandon’s question, she taps on the plans, indicating a spot just beyond suite’s entryway. “I was thinking we go in from the floor below. Let’s figure out the best places for them to be to defend this door and set the charges there.”

Lars’ smile widens. Martin doesn’t look happy. The prospect of blowing up a part of the hotel doesn’t sit well with the head of security, but bows to the consensus of the table.

“We should move soon. The longer we take to plan, the more time they have to think of a way out.”

Gavin’s gentle reminder sparks an idea, which Natty brings up with Sergeant Andre.

“Can you call for aerial support from the government?”

“Yes. I can make the request. May I use your phone?”

Natty assigns Nip help the Sergeant get through.

(GM Note: Our group sometimes has a tendency to over plan. If thing started to bog down the NPCs would offer a gentle nudge to remind the players they’re working on a clock. The opposition isn’t just sitting around waiting for their attack.)

Lars and his personal cadre of bodyguards suit up in Militech soft-shell armor. The team members pull on their BDUs with ADAP inserts. Any grousing over not being allowed to bring heavier armor quickly stops, when their support from hotel security arrives. They don’t have body armor or even armored clothing. All the six men have are bullet proof vests over their regular uniforms.

Brandon, Duke and Owen will take part in the initial breach. Natty assigns Hanna to the command center; mainly to watch over Nip while she’s in the NET. Two of the hotel’s security officers are left to cover the tenth floor with their FN-RALs. After the breach goes off, a second pair will take position cover the roof pad and open space to the other penthouse on the north tower.

Natty takes the last two with her. Of the six, they were the only two who raised their hands when she asked if any of them could use a grenade launcher. They are now carrying the M-79s provided by Sergeant Andre. Natty loads a clip of 12mm Black Cat rounds into her Opium Street Sweeper. The rounds are experimental but should, theoretically, give the SMG greater stopping power. As a backup, she loads the weapon’s under-slung 25mm grenade launcher with HEP shells.

The biogen heads for the roof of the south tower, with her backup in tow. Their job will be to take down any AV or helicopter that tries to land on the pad. They are almost to the top of the tower, when Nip’s voice cuts in on the combat channel.

“I’ve lost the beachside gun on the North Tower!”

“Wait one; I’m almost to the roof.”

Natty puts on a burst of speed to reach the penthouse level. Staying low to keep out of sight, she spots the flaming ruins of the minigun.

“They took it out.”

As she inches forward for a better look, an RPG shoot hits the seaward facing air defense cannon on the south tower. Nip’s report that the gun is inoperable, leads Natty to observe, “They’ve cleared an approach for their extraction.”

Owen whispers into the com, “We’re not ready.”

The biogen’s backup finally catches up with her. They don’t have long to wait, before an AV-9 comes screaming in from the sea. The craft slips sideways, bring its nose to bear on the South Tower.

“Take cover!”

At Natty’s shout, the two men dive behind one of the penthouse’s privacy walls. The biogen puts a large concrete pillar between her and the approaching gunship. Bursts from the crafts Gatling-cannons rip into the roof. The AV slips backwards towards the roof pad, to keep its weapons trained on the south tower.

Any attempt at landing is foiled by the appearance of two attack choppers. They announce their presence by launching a pair of air to air missiles at the descending aerodyne. A blast from the craft’s AMS (anti-missile system) takes out one. The AV side slips off the edge of the roof and drops down, using the tower to break the lock of the other missile. Taking on two helicopter gunships must not have been in the AV pilot’s contract. He bugs out, keeping the aerodyne low to the deck as it races back out to sea.

The excitement on the roof gives the breach team added incentive to finish setting the charges. They are ready to go just before 7 am. Since they were his explosives, Lars claims the honor of setting them off.

Four of the enemies come crashing down with chunks of the floor. Two are down and unmoving. Owen is glad to see that the mini-gun operator is one of them. The remaining two try to scramble to their feet, but are cut down in a hail of bullets. Lars and Duke are the first up through the hole. The bio-gen is surprised by the elder McGregor’s speed. Next to Natty and Brandon, he’s use to being the fast person in the room.

The Consortium enforcer engages two targets with his 12.7mm borg rifle. One’s head erupts in a shower of blood and brain matter. Second drops, his armor pockmarked with holes left by the rounds of the fearsome assault cannon. Duke riddles a third with fire from his FN-RAL. The enemy is wearing soft-shell armor, like Lars and his men. It makes it hard to tell if his fire had any effect.

Duke finds himself staring down the mouth of an underslung 40 mm grenade launcher. There is no time to dodge or even think. Thankfully his gunfire did more damage than he realized. The barrel dips downward as the man tries to fire, sending the 40 mm high explosive shell slamming into the floor. The already weakened floor gives way under grenade blast. Duke finds himself tumbling backwards as the floor beneath him collapses. Lars isn’t far behind.

(GM note: The NPC was in Mortal (wound state). His endorphin surge chip would not kick in till the following round. With his reflexes so low he misses the shot. The grenade has to go somewhere. Since Hanna was out of the action, I had her player rolling dice for the bad guys. He rolled a ‘1’ for location. Pretty much right at the shooter’s feet. He ends up killing himself, but everyone else is able to avoid serious damage thanks to their heavy armor and ADAP inserts)

One of the enemies ends up in the hole with them, trapped in the rubble. With his assault rifle lost, he tries to draw a sidearm. Duke shoots him in his gun arm, but the armor holds. Owen steps forward and jams the muzzle of his 12 gauge shotgun against the man’s armored faceplate.

“Drop that shit!”

Pinned and facing certain death he gives up his sidearm and surrenders.

With Duke and Owen occupied, Brandon seizes his opportunity to jump up through the hole. There is a single figure in soft-shell and a ghostly outline of a second, made visible by the dust kicked up by the collapsing floor. The biomechanical puts 15 rounds into each from his FN-RAL. The man is soft-shell armor returns fire with Ragnarok CAW, loaded with slug.

The instant rigidity of the adaptive inserts in Brandon’s armor work against him. He takes the full brunt of fourteen shots. Chucks of flesh are blown off of his biomechanical frame. He is blown back down through the hole. Thankfully the damage is spread out. He is a bloody mess, but still functional. Even with recoil compensation the Ragnarok can be a beast to control.

(GM Note: Game play screeched to a halt for several minutes as the Terminator jokes and bad Schwarzenegger impressions flew around the room)

Lars leaps up to fill the breach. He dispatches both targets with a full blast from his borg rifle.

Two of the enemy, make a break for it. A figure in black and another in soft-shell armor streak across the AV pad. Natty judges that they must be heading for the far penthouse. She draws a bead on the ‘ninja’ and fires a singles shot from her Street Sweeper. It hits him in the side of the head, but he doesn’t even slow down. The two security guards stationed by the elevator open up on the pair. Even on full auto, their fire has little effect.
Natty shouts into the com, “Borg plus one going for the other penthouse.”

Lars leaves the prisoners to his men. He heads for the open penthouse door to pursue the escaping enemy. Brandon bounds back up to the penthouse level, and follows after him, leaving bits of flesh and blood stains in his wake.

The borg smashes through a plate glass window into the far penthouse. His partner tries to follow, but is cut down by a blast from Lars’ borg rifle. The veteran solo is sure he hit the borg as well, but it is nowhere in sight.

Brandon streaks past Lars. From how quickly he had jumped up through the hole at the outset of the breach, the biomechanical expect him to be right behind him. The elder McGregor may be fast on the draw, but like his son, he’s no runner (MA 6). Brandon enters the penthouse with no backup.

Natty watches the pursuit and decides this borg isn’t getting away. She makes a running leap from the tower to the roof of the main building five stories below. For a normal human such a drop would normally be fatal. As a highly enhanced biogenetic cat hybrid (with an overdeveloped ego) Natty doesn’t even worry about it. Rolling back to her feet, she races across the gardened roof to where it meets the north tower. From there, she drops another five stories to the gardens below.

The borg is waiting for any pursuers in the alcove by the lift. Brandon doesn’t notice the explosive belt of C-6 lying on the floor, till it blows up at his feet. The explosion throws the biomechanical across the room. The flesh is almost completely gone from the left side of his face. Some of the damage has even made it through to his internal structure. His uniform has been reduced to smoking taters.

For the first time in many years Brandon is angry. The borg is too busy pulling open the elevator doors to see him get up. The biomechanical charges forward. He leaps and executes a spinning back kick which slams into the Alpha’s right shoulder blade. The borg makes an effort to grab Brandon but misses. He topples down the shaft alone.

With nothing more to wedge them open, the elevator doors shut. Brandon takes the moment to reload, but his FN-RAL was damaged in the explosion. Lars finally catches up to him, thankful he hadn’t been by his side earlier. Unlike his smoking friend, the C-6 would have probably been enough h to kill him.

Lars keeps his gun trained on the elevator while Brandon pulls open the doors. The Alpha is not waiting on the other side. Looking down, they spot light on the eighth floor. The borg have been able to grab the cables and arrested his fall.

“He’s on the eighth floor.”

“I have eyes on him,” Nip tracks the fleeing Alpha on the hotel security cameras. “He’s heading down the hall towards the ocean end.”

Natty runs along the outside of the north tower towards the sea.

“Borg entering room 816”

The biogen realizes that’s the closest room to the pool. She positions herself with the 25mm grenade launcher at the ready. The borg is a perfect target as it crashes through the hotel room window and arcs towards the pool. Natty quickly calculates his trajectory. She fires once, pumps the grenade launcher, to load a second shell, and then fires again.

(GM Note: The player used up all of his LUCK between the two shots)

HEP cratering rounds punch into the borg’s head. Just before it hits the water she sees Alpha turn its eyes to look in her direction.

“Oh, shit,” she thinks, “Time to move.”

Nip keeps Natty informed on the borg’s position. “He’s heading towards the shallow end.”

The Alpha bursts out of the water and aims his arm in the direction of where he last saw his attacker. His intention is to launch a brace of micro-missiles from his Rostovic Wrist Racate, but the weapon malfunctions (catastrophic botch). The borg’s right arm explodes. Natty shoots him in the head with another grenade. There is no further movement from the Alpha. It stands frozen in the shallow end.

“The Borg’s shut down. We’re clear down here; anymore unfriendlies? Sound off.”

Natty’s heart rate slows as her team begins to report in. Brandon is severely damaged, but they didn’t sustain any casualties. Twelve instead of eight; she had underestimated their strength. Luckily, they captured three. Maybe one of them will explain why they were here.

Those still on the roof hear a rumble, like distant thunder. Black smoke rises to the north, in the center of the city. Within minutes, sounds of sirens and automatic gunfire can be heard.
There are two more explosions in quick succession. The lights in the hotel go out. Power is soon restored, as the backup generators kick in.

Sergeant Andre shares dire news in a meeting at the Resort’s security office. “We’ve lost all communications. The last report we received was of a car bomb going off in front of the main police station. Since then … nothing.”

Natty speaks up, “Something big is going down. I’m betting, whatever happened here, is a part of it. I don’t think we are out of the woods yet. My team and I are trained to handle situations like this, are yours?’

Andre and Martin glance at one another before answering. Natty can tell they’re worried. Before the breach, neither of them took her seriously. They thought her security precautions an annoyance and heavy-handed. How quickly that’s changed. (Score one for paranoia).

The two men shake their heads and answer, “no.”

“With your permission, I would like to direct the defense of the hotel. We have to be prepared for more trouble. ”

Martin’s duty is to protect the hotel and its guest. She is not surprised when he answers first. “My men are at your disposal.”

Sergeant Andre’s response is more circumspect. “We will support any plan to protect the people in this hotel.”

“Thank you, Sergeant, please maintain your perimeter around the hotel. Chief Martin, if you have any more weapons or armor, I’d break them out and get your men ready. I also need you to arrange a meeting with all of the senior hotel staff and representatives of the organizations attending the conference. Duke, Hanna see what we can salvage from our friends upstairs. Brandon and Owen come with me to the command center. We need to find out what’s going on in the city.”

Natty places a call to Commander Quinn on the encrypted satellite phone. It was her intent to brief him on the situation, but things have been developing far faster than she realizes.

“ORGs delegation was delayed. There flight was two hours out when the first explosion went of in Cabinda city. The plane turned back. ORG is preparing a relief mission, to evacuate the representatives. Bast Corporation has been subcontracted to defend the conference and hotel until reinforcements arrive. The resort’s parent corporation has contacted local management. Coordinate your efforts with hotel security.”

“Yes sir.” The biogen is happy to have her position officially sanction. Now she doesn’t have to explain how she already took over command of defending the hotel.

Quinn warns her to be careful. “The riots and bombings are not isolated to the capital. This may be an attempted coup.”

“We won’t let you down.”

Natty contacts the rest of the team to let them know about the change in mission. She asks Owen to contact his father so that they can coordinate their efforts. Lars surprises them by coming to the command center. He has news of his own.

“It seems I was their target.”

Natty can hear the suppressed rage in his voice. Lars also carries Kincaid’s hit team’s briefing package. This was a kill mission plain and simple.

“I’ve called for extraction,” Lars tells her. “I can get your team out too if you’d like.”

“I appreciate the offer, but we can’t leave. Would you be able to get Global Share’s representatives out instead?”

“Consider it done.”

Lars pulls out two of his business cards and hands them to Brandon and Natty. “If you two are ever looking for employment … give me a call. My private number is on the back.”

The biogen is almost giddy. Receiving a job offer from someone like Lars is like the ultimate validation. The warm fuzziness quickly scatters, like a flock of startled birds, as the elder McGregor makes one last request.

“Since they were gunning for me, I think I deserve first crack at interrogating the prisoners.”





Episode 14 – You Say You Want a Revolution …..



The coup intensifies. Supporters of the Cabinda Democratic Union and their allies attempt to incite revolution throughout the country. The flames of rebellion soon inspire copycats with no political agenda. Theirs is a fight for economic advancement or the settling of old scores. A luxury hotel filled with important and influential guests is a tempting target, for all.

O.R.G. mobilizes its 3rd SRF (Special Reaction Force), but forces, currently in country, cannot be spared to defend the Cabinda Beach Resort and Conference Center. They are already stretched thin, protecting corporate facilities. With the regular army temporarily paralyzed by defections and sabotage, it falls to the Team to defend the hotel until relief arrives.



War has erupted on the European Continent. The long running Czech Civil War exploded as the EU, who finally had enough of Poland’s support for the rebel Free Czech Army, sought a quick victory over the Polish nation in the spring of 2050. A resurgent Germany promised a quick victory, but the Blitzkrieg of 1939 was not repeated. The Polish Army resisted with fierceness and courage that surprised the EU forces. Russia and Belarus came to the defense of their Slavic brothers and sisters with ‘volunteers’ pouring in from those nations. The EU response was to attempt to destroy Russia’s warships of the Rocket Corps. The Komsomolsk and the Potemkin along with two large Russian transports were destroyed in orbit and the Russian space port in Kazakhstan was bombarded. The Gagarin in the asteroid belt was severely damaged, but still lurks out there. This brought Russian along with Belarus and Kazakhstan into the war officially. This attack caused the Scandinavian Bloc to declare neutrality and refuse to help in the EU war effort.

Ghost Team 1’s actions in the Czech Republic remain a secret from the EU. They have been transferred to Cyprus to work principally for the Bast Corporation’s main client in the region, Global Share. This Commonwealth NGO brings health services and modern infrastructure to developing third world nations. The Cyberpunk World is a dangerous place especially in these areas. It is the Bast Corporation’s job to protect this altruistic organization.


Dramatis Personae

Ghost Team One

Allison Cole (aka Hanna Woo) (Sergeant): Grew up in the Burn Notice Campaign and remained with her best friend from school, CatherineCat’ (Fisher) Vaduva. She is a high level prowler and martial artist with extensive covert operations training. Her cover was Vlada Roslykova on the recent Mission to Prague.

Brandon Heath (Warrant Officer 2nd Class): A solo who is an experimental Biomechanical (cyborg) with one of Doc Freeman’s ‘cyberbrains’. Brandon was originally Grave, a cyborg from the Fourth Corporate War, who was later (2026) convicted of authorizing the murder of a young hacker and his family. Grave was supposedly executed but the government put him in their Project Kill Switch Program (see Super Solo 2 Campaign for details). He recently served as head of security for the Petersen Point Resort.

Duke Strider (Sergeant): He is an experimental dog/human biogenetic hybrid made by the Collective on commission by the Bast Corporation. The Caitlins, who own Bast Corporation plan to create males members of their race but decided to make another species of hybrid first to test the science. His cover ID was Luke Walker from Texas during the recent Mission to Prague.

Mason Verge (Staff Sergeant): A former Marine Force Recon member turned freelance solo with a good relationship with the Thelas nomads. Mason came to the notice of the Bast Corporation while serving as a security officer at the Petersen Point Hotel during the Fall of the Cotton Kingdoms Campaign.

Natalie ‘Natty’ Lanikova (Warrant Officer 1st Class): ‘Grew up’ at the Petersen Point Resort when Brandon and Owen were there. A covert operative who most believe is the daughter of the late Lt. Alina Lanikova formerly of the Czech Special Forces (601st SOG). She is actually one of the prototype (former) Biotechnica ‘Caitlin’ clones trained to operate in the Czech Republic.

Nip Lacey (Corporal): This slightly crazy young woman is the result of a failed experiment to create a gestalt mind of several netrunners. This project also created Fred, a ferret looking creature that inhabits the NET that is fiercely loyal to Nip. While the girl is only 21, she has already earned advanced degrees in Computer Science and Robotics from Night City University. This has allowed her to create a physical body for Fred and a slew of small spider bots to assist her. She, Allison and Cat Vaduva went to high school together in Atlantic City.

Owen ‘Crank’ McGregor (Staff Sergeant): A young, muscle bound former United States Deputy Marshal turned free-lance operative. Owen is the eldest son of Lars McGregor, a ‘law enforcement’ official in the Union City (NJ) and major domo for a member of the Consortium. Owen has steered clear of his father’s shady connections. He was with Brandon at the Petersen Point Resort. His cover was Crank, the Food and Beverage manager there.


The NPCs

Antonio Bernardo Bembe is a Cabindan official and old friend of Jonas Barton.

Archibald Kincaid is a major arms dealer in the Angolan/Congo region. A couple of his recent arms shipments have been seized recently. It is rumored that Lars McGregor was responsible for this.

Arlen is an A.I. He is the prime mover behind the Armistice charity, which with the assistance of Lars McGregor and his associates, has grown into a global organization (Armistice International). Arlen began as an Autonomous Algorithmic Entity (Chatbot) within a social network. His avatar was coded as a down home Texas good old boy. Even after achieving consciousness he has maintained this personality and accent.

Carl is a friend and personal bodyguard for Lars McGregor. It is a hazardous occupation which has led to more than a few stints in the hospital. Though heavily augmented, Carl maintains a personable demeanor (when not working). He has known Owen since the latter was a kid. The two remain on good terms.

Commander Quinn: He is a retired British Navy commander from the Special Boat Service (SBS), who is in charge of all Bast Corporation para-military operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Ettebi is a senior systems engineer for the Cabindan Ministry of Communications and an excellent NET runner. He is quick to anger and very proud.

Francisco Luemba works for the AFP – Agence France-Presse. He is not a friend of the current government. He comes off as a CDU supporter in his reports.

Gavin Cleary is the personal bodyguard of Blaine Gosner. He is a former member of MI-5 who made the transition to the current royalist government with Mr. Gosner. The former British agent reputedly helped cover up some of Mr. Gosner’s financial indiscretions.

George Caceda is a Global Share volunteer from San Paulo, Brazil. He is an expert in water treatment and sanitation. As such he will be Manuela Ferreira’s assistant. His brother, Raul, is also a former Global Share volunteer, but is now a suspected gun runner with ties to a Cossack mob in Cyprus. George is a good friend of the Team.

Jonas Barton is an old Africa hand. He is at the conference to network with the reps from other NGOs and local government officials, who will be in attendance.

Julien Nombo is the Deputy Minister of Development, senior official of the Cabinda government.

Lars McGregor is the major domo and right hand man of Nicole ‘Nikki’ Alexander, publically a wealthy businesswoman and philanthropist but privately a member of a shadowy group of powerful world political leaders and business people called the Consortium. She is the ruthless enforcer for that group and Lars is her number one ‘hit dog’. He is also Owen McGregor’s father. The two had a falling out years ago.

Lieutenant Luis George Nembe is in command of O.R.G. relief force sent to the Cabinda Beach Resort and Convention Center.

Nicholas is a mercenary from Zimbabwe. His team was sent by the gun runner Archibald Kincaid.

Percy is an Alpha class cyborg and leader of the team of mercenaries sent by Archibald Kincaid.

Sergeant Andre is the commander of the Cabindan police’s security detail assigned to protect the hotel during the NGO conference.

Security Chief Martin leads the hotel security force at the Cabinda Beach Resort and Convention Center.


The Action

Friday, April 14, 2051:

Mason receives clearance for the base physician to rejoin his unit. Cabinda is outside of the corporation’s standard transport routes, so he has to fly commercial. Not that the solo is complaining. Bast may have only sprung for business class, but it still beats bouncing around in the back of a C-23 for 8 plus hours. There’s even an in flight movie, though he doesn’t really pay attention.

The 6 ½ hour flight from Nicosia (Cyprus) touches down a little before 8 am. He clears immigration, collects his baggage and is in queue for customs by 8:25 am. The line moves at a pretty good clip. Mason hopes he’ll be able to breeze right through and make it to the hotel by 9 am. Maybe they’ll still be serving breakfast.

(GM Note: This is one of the last flights into Cabinda International Airport, before the shit hits the fan. If it wasn’t for the delay at customs, he might have been on his way before the shooting started … well maybe not.)

Staffing and pay being what they are, the scrutiny of private flights and charters can be a little lax. Not so arrivals at the commercial terminal. Mason’s gun cases earn him special attention. The inspector, looking over his bags, waves over two armed customs agents.

“Please come with us sir.”

“Where to?” the solo asks warily.

“Regulations require firearms be inspected in a secure environment, as a safety precaution.”

That’s a new one on Mason, but he isn’t worried. All of his permits are in order. The agents escort him to a private inspection room. He is asked to place his bags on the table. The solo does as instructed. Mason opens the cases as requested then steps back so that the weapons can be inspected.

He is feeling confident, right up to the point where the lead customs agent asks why one person would need two compensated 14mm Big Governments and a pair of .454 Nikitas. The men listen patiently as he tries to explain how his preferred style of fighting is with a pistol in each hand. The second set is in case one of his primaries malfunctions or he runs out of ammo. Neither of them looks convinced. The lead agent explains the penalty for selling weapons in Cabinda, while his partner goes through the rest of Mason’s luggage. It’s a thorough search. Mason makes it out of customs at 8:35 am.

He finds a ‘skycap’ to port his garment bag and duffels to the taxi stand. The gun cases he carries himself. No need to end up in jail, because someone swiped his guns at the airport. The agent’s lecture left him a bit paranoid. Mason fights the urge to go to the public restroom and strap on his side-arms. The back of a cab will do just as well.

A loud rumble causes the cab’s driver to pause in the midst of loading Mason’s bags into the trunk. The solo knows an explosion when he hears one. Instead of looking in the direction of the sound, like the driver, he turns back to the terminal. Its floor-to-ceiling windows are intact. It’s hard to judge distance, without knowing the size of the device, but if the pressure wave didn’t shatter the windows, the explosion couldn’t have been that close.

Mason grabs the last bag off the skycap’s cart and throws it into the back seat. He’s just about to flow it, when something in his peripheral vision grabs his attention. The driver and skycap are running towards the terminal. There is no time to process why. Small bits of glass fly inward as the driver’s side windows shatter. Mason drops behind the cab for cover. The distinctive bark of an AK-47 beats a tune of staccato thuds into the doors and side panels.

It is joined by a chorus of automatic weapons fire. The solo is surprised. It takes balls to attempt an assassination at a busy airport. The body of the cab is protecting him for the moment, but if there are multiple attackers, they could try to flank him. Mason reaches into the cab for the case with his Big Governments.

The assault weapons continue to fire, but they don’t seem to be shooting at his position. Impact craters blossom on glass panels further down the terminal. Mason hazards a peak. From what he can see, there are around fourteen shooters advancing on the terminal. Most look to be armed with AK-47 or 74s. Most of their fire now seems to be directed at the police.

Mason reaches out to retrieve the abandoned luggage cart. Thankfully the cabbie didn’t close the trunk. He grabs his bags and makes a break for the terminal. An armed customs agent meets him just inside the double doors, with weapon raised. The man quickly lowers the submachine gun and waves Mason ahead. Being conspicuous can sometimes work to one’s advantage. Up until the shooting started, the solo’s pass through customs had been the talk of the day.

Mason rolls the luggage cart directly into the public restroom. His arrival seems to surprise a man standing by the sinks at the far end of the bathroom. The solo is ready to dismiss his jumpiness. It’s understandable with the firefight outside. He continues to roll the cart to the handicap stall, which is right next to where the man is standing.

Instead of moving to get out of the way, the man shoves his hand into the wall mounted trash receptacle; up to the elbow. The solo is in motion without thinking. He sees a compact MPK-9 clear the top of the trash can; hears a click as the charging handle is pulled back. Mason closes the distance, but the man manages to squeeze off a burst 9×19mm Parabellum.

He rips the MPK-9 from the shooters hands, sending it skittering across the floor. A reverse elbow strike to the temple causes the man’s head to rebound off the paper towel dispenser. It leaves a satisfying dent. Mason grabs the front of the gunman’s shirt to slow his descent to the floor. He stands over the unconscious body, checking himself for wounds. His armored suit is torn up, but none of the rounds seem to have penetrated through his skin weave.

(GM Note: There are size limits to what could be hidden effectively in the wall mounted trash receptacle. The MPK-9 was loaded with standard ammo. It would have worked well enough on unarmored passengers cowering in an airport terminal … not so effective against an armored solo)

Mason bends down to check his prisoner. The elbow strike had been meant only to stun. He hadn’t calculated for metal towel dispenser. There is blood on the tile, but the man is still breathing. Any further examination is interrupted by a shout from the doorway.

“Stay where you are!”

Two uniformed police officers with assault rifles have him covered.

“Down on your knees!”

“Hands behind your head!”

Mason does as ordered. They hadn’t said anything about speaking, so the solo pleads his case. “This man fired at me with a sub machine gun.”

One keeps his eyes, and gun, on Mason, while the second scans the bathroom.
“Where is it then?”

The solo motions with his elbow, “It slid over there; under the stalls.”

The officer bends down to look. “Got it; third stall.”

Two more armed officers enter the bathroom. Mason is ordered to stand and walk backwards towards them with his hands behind his head. He is then directed to stand with his face towards the wall. The police retrieve the weapon and cuff the man on the floor.

They are willing to accept his version of events, when he shows them the damage to his suit. The officer who confronted him apologizes for the confusion.

“There has been a coordinated attack on the airport. The man you subdued is most likely a part of it. We’ve set up a secure area for passengers and airport personnel. For your own safety, I would advise you join them.”

“Do you mind if I arm myself first?”

None of them have any objections to his request. Two of the officers wait to escort him, while the second pair takes away the prisoner.

Mason hears the rolling thuds of mortar shells as they walk to the secure zone. Dust and particulate flutter down from the ceiling, but it doesn’t the terminal doesn’t seem to be the target. He wonders how long it will stay that way.

Their ‘secure zone’ is little more than the international baggage claim area. It’s away from all outside windows, but Mason isn’t sure how well the interior walls will hold up to weapons fire. He counts 118 people gathered around the baggage carousels. There are only four guards; customs agents, judging by the uniforms beneath their flak vests. His police escort hands him off then resumes their patrol of the terminal.

The fear in the room is palpable. An airport isn’t really built with defense in mind. It’s not a healthy place to stick around. Mason spots the cabbie who abandoned him at the curb. He tries to strike a bargain.

“I’ll give you 50 (Commonwealth) pounds to drive me to the Cabinda Beach Resort now.”

The man laughs at Mason, like he’s crazy. “Make it a thousand pounds.”

“How about 250?”

The cabbie mulls over his new offer. “OK. But we leave after dark.”

They shake to seal the deal. The former Marine settles in to wait for night.

(GM Note: The first explosion Mason hears is the same one Natty heard after taking down the Alpha (last episode). Mason’s player had missed the previous session. Everyone had kept mum about what had happened, so he really had no idea what he was walking into. As for his arrival in country, all the team knows is that he is due in sometime that morning. Mason has an ear bud radio with the Team’s frequency in his luggage, but seemed to forget about it, no matter how many hints I as GM tried to give him. While the rest of the Team makes plans to defend the hotel and the lives of the conference delegates, he’s sipping coffee at the airport.)

Duke and Hanna catalogue the cache of captured weapons. Natty meets with the hotel’s department heads. She needs their help with the defense of the hotel.

“One of our major problems is too much area and not enough people or weapons to cover it. We need to restrict points of access. I want maintenance to barricade all of the external doors on the first floor. I was led to understand your department is in charge of servicing the miniguns on the roof.”

The head of maintenance nods.

“If possible, we need to dismount the two remaining guns on the roof. I want to move one into a bunker at ground level. We’ll position it to cover the northeastern quadrant.”

The head of maintenance sound a bit incredulous when he asks, “do you want us to build the bunker too?”

Natty lets it slide. She has to keep them on her side.

“No, that will be handled by housekeeping, under the direction of a member of my team. But I’ll get to that in a minute. “We were able to a recover a minigun with a stabilizer harness. The gun is inoperable, but the rig looks salvageable. I would like you to mount the second minigun in the harness. My associates have it in the room across the hall.”

The maintenance chief looks overwhelmed, but nods. Natty moves on to housekeeping.

“I need your staff to collect all of the pillow cases, laundry bags … pretty much any sack they can get their hands on. If you need help, pull people from the kitchen staff and front desk. As long as the beach is clear, we’re going to use them to make sand bags.”

Martin speaks up. “There has been no activity on the beach, but I can send some men to secure it when you are ready.”

Natty give him a nod of thanks then turns back to the head of housekeeping, “We have to expect there will be wounded. Can you set aside clean sheets that can be used as bandages? We’ll also need to fabricate stretchers.”

Her orders for the Executive Chef and Food & Beverage Manager are simple, “I’m not sure how long we will need to hold out. If you haven’t done so already, have your people start filling up containers with water… buckets, pots I don’t care.”

Natty continues on for another 10 minutes; assigning tasks to the various departments. She finishes by thanking all of them for their assistance, and with one last request.

“If there is anyone in your department that has any skill with weapons, please put them in touch with Martin or his security staff.”

A couple more guns on the wall probably won’t matter, but it helps to instill the idea that their skills are valued. She doesn’t want them to feel they are only being handed the grunt work. As an afterthought, Natty adds. “Please also ask if anyone has medical experience.”

Things are in motion. Now all she has to do is confront Lars. He had pretty much demanded all of the prisoners. The biogen has no problem with him taking the eclipse. It was his ‘kill’. The borg is his by right. As for the other two, she isn’t quite so willing to roll over and let him have them.

Lars is willing to concede that the Alpha is hers, but he is not so easily convinced about the third prisoner.

“Why do you want him?”

“I need information and all I can offer him is his life. Our position is precarious and we need all the intelligence we can get.” Natty doesn’t add that she knows he wants to do more than just question the man.

Lars leans back in his chair. He looks at her but says nothing. The silence draws out. Natty does her best not to fidget under his gaze. He has a good poker face. She has no idea what he’s thinking, and that scares her.

The biogen offers a compromise to break the stalemate. “If you could sit in on the interrogation, I would appreciate it.”

“What do you want me to do?”

The biogen smiles, “All you have to do is sit there … You’ll understand.”

The prisoner sits up as Natty enters the room. He had been relaxing on a folding bed that had been moved into his makeshift cell. The mercenary eyes her curiously. His face falls when Lars comes in behind her. He can’t meet the older man’s eyes.

Natty’s takes a seat in the chair by the bed. Lars takes up position by a second chair opposite the bed. He leans against the wall with his arms folded, staring at their prisoner. The expression on his face remains inscrutable.

Natty begins her questioning. “What should I call you?”


Natty detects a white Zimbabwe accent in his English.

Nicholas, your team has been wiped out. I need to know what was supposed to happen after you killed Lars and his team. Cooperate and you will be turned over to the Cabindan authorities. Be exceptionally helpful and you might earn your freedom. You can of course choose not to answer, but then I will give you to that man there (pointing to Lars McGregor) who has some very different plans for your short and painful future.”

Natty glances meaningfully towards Lars. The message is abundantly clear. Nicholas needs no further coaxing.

“After neutralizing our primary target, we were to assist with the taking of the hotel. The rebels have three people on the inside. They were supposed to prepare the way. We were given a list of names. If any of them were among the hostages taken, they were to be secured separately.”

“Who are these operatives?”

“I don’t know.”

Lars makes a low guttural noise. His ‘growl’ inspires Nicholas to be more forthcoming.

“Each was given a card with an RDF chip implanted. Breaking the card activates the chip. After our assault started, they were to break the card, so we could identify them.

Security cards are nothing new, but Natty can’t help noting their similarity to the cards carried by the Global Share delegation. She decides to keep it to her self. Best not to throw gasoline on the fire by trading in idle speculation.

“That sounds like a pretty shaky way to identify your contacts; too much could go wrong…”

She pauses; cocking an ear towards the prisoner; waiting for him to say more.

Nicholas takes a quick look towards Lars, as if to assure himself that he was still leaning against the wall.

Percy knew their identities.”

“And who is Percy?”

“He was our leader; the Alpha.”

“Well,” Natty slaps her hands on her thighs. “You’ve been quite helpful.” The biogen walks towards the door. She pauses and looks back to Nicholas, “I may have some more questions later, but for now, relax.”

Natty is feeling pleased with herself. After leaving the room, Lars makee no further claim on Nicholas. She is on her way to speak with Nip about contacting Percy in his biopod, when the NET runner calls her over the com-net.

“Hey, there’s a maid’s cart on the ninth floor of the north tower. It wasn’t there on my last sweep. Are there any maids on the ninth floor?”

“I’m on it.” Owen takes the stairs from the penthouse level to the ninth floor. The hallway is empty. He carefully approaches and passes the wand of his chemical analyzer over the cart. The detector picks up traces of explosives.

“I’m picking up explosives. Should I attempt to disarm it?”

Detecting explosives is a long step away from finding the device and disarming it. Natty knows that Owen’s skills don’t lie in demolitions.

“No. Pull back. Evacuate the area,”

Nip cuts into the com-channel. “I could send in a remote.”

“Do it. I’ll be there in five minutes.”

The NET runner is already scanning the cart, by the time Natty makes it to the command center. She spends a few minutes watching Nip’s progress on the monitors then turns her attention to interrogating Percy.

Natty loads a virtual environment. It’s fairly simple; two chairs in a room whose corners fall off into shadows. A connection to the Alpha’s biopod is established. She hopes the borg’s hours of sensory deprivation will put him in a mood to talk. The biogen gives him the same offer as Nicholas. Percy is understandably not interested in falling into the hands of Lars or his people. He willingly gives up the three conspirators.

Natty records the projected images. She recognizes the two men. One is on the maintenance staff; the other, a valet. The third; a woman, is unknown to her. She sends copies of the images to the rest of the team and hotel security, with a warning. “The three individuals pictured are rebel conspirators. They should be considered armed and dangerous. Detain on sight.”

Nip’s centipede finishes its examination of the cart’s exterior. The NET runner directs her small remote onto the first shelf, stacked with rolls of toilet paper. Thin monofilament wires run from one roll to the next. The hollow cardboard tube at the center of each roll has been filled in. Nip has the centipede ‘bite’ into the substance. Its small built in analyzer identifies the compound as C-6. The NET runner continues to poke around. She finds a radio detonator hidden near the back of the shelf.

An alert, from one of their cameras in the basement, momentarily diverts her attention from the bomb. Nip checks the feed. She can make out a figure near the electrical panels with a large open flame. The NET runner directs the feed to the flop screen laid out on the desktop, “Trouble in the basement.”

A quick glance at the screen is all Natty needs. “We have a saboteur. It’s the conspirator on the maintenance staff. I’m heading for the basement.”

“I’ll meet you there.” Duke races down stairs.

The two biogens meet up outside the door to the basement. Natty quickly checks the clip of her Nikita .454, to make sure it’s loaded with rubber bullets. She reloads the weapon then nods to Duke. He quietly opens the door. Natty slips past him and glides down the steps. She shoots the saboteur in both legs before he can do any more damage. The man drops his improvised blow torch and doubles over in pain. Duke moves in to zip tie his hands and secures his weapon.

Natty checks the damage. The saboteur was able to fry the hard line to the local police and backups for the alarm system. Thankfully they were able to stop him before he could turn his flamer on the hotel’s communications network or something more vital.

“What do we do with him?”

“Turn him over to Sergeant Andre.”

Natty leaves Duke in charge of their prisoner. She has to get to the third floor. The hotel’s general manager finally arranged a meeting with the government officials and conference delegates. Natty is in over her head, but walks into the room like she owns it. Bast Corporation’s reputation may rest on what she says to these people.

The young woman strides up to the podium. She makes a few opening remarks, before briefing them on the current situation. Natty takes questions from the audience, but can’t give them the answers they want. They want to know what’s happening in the city. It was her intent to ask the government officials for their help in finding out. The land lines are dead and cell service unavailable, but the team has a short wave radio. She offers them access.

As Deputy Minister of Development, Julien Nombo is the senior official on hand. He graciously accepts her offer. Natty presses him for one thing more.

“We have been contracted by O.R.G. to defend the hotel and protect everyone inside. In the course of that defense, we may be forced to fire upon and possibly kill Cabindan citizens…”

The Minister nods for her to continue.

“I would like to ensure that we are acting in the name of the Cabindan government.”

Nombo considers her request. He answers like a politician. “My colleagues and I are grateful for your assistance. Your aid to the lawfully elected government of Cabinda will not be forgotten.”

This really isn’t a validation, but it’s probably the most they can hope for. Natty moves on to Ettebi.

“We have more than a few members of the international media on hand. Some may even have more information about what’s going on, than we do. They’re going to be looking for a story and we need to control what information is released. We need to organize a centralized media information center. I could not think of anyone better for the job than a representative of the Ministry of Communications.”

The senior systems engineer agrees (that there’s no one better for the job than him).

Natty addresses the general manager and assembled representatives.

“If the fighting in the city intensifies, we may have an issue with refugees. We cannot turn them away, but the enemy may try to use this as a way to infiltrate the hotel. Anyone who flees to the hotel will have to be housed someplace secure, till they can be vetted. Some may be injured. We’ll need medical facilities to treat them and any other casualties.

I’m not going to lie to you. There is every possibility the hotel will be attacked before O.R.G. arrives. If anyone among your delegations has medical experience, their assistance would be greatly appreciated.

As the meeting breaks up, Martin quietly reminds Natty that the media is waiting for a statement. She was hoping to put this off as long as possible. The media presents an unneeded complication.

As Natty joins Deputy Minister Nombo and Ettebi at the front of the room, Duke passes through the small crowd of assembled media. His enhanced olfactory senses pick up the presence of explosive compounds. There is also the scent of gun oil mixed in with those of body odor and cologne. With the reporters’ attention focused on the briefing, the biogen is able to locate the source of the odor.

It’s emanating from a dark skinned man standing off to the side. Duke finds it suspicious that he is not seated like the rest of the media. He says something to one of the camera men standing nearby, but there is too much noise in the room for the biogen to pick up what was said.

Duke sub-vocalizes his observations to Natty. She leans over to ask Ettebi and Julien if they can identify the man.

The senior systems engineer grunts. “That’s Francisco Luemba.”

“Who does he work for?”

“AFP … Agence France-Presse.”

Deputy Minister Nombo adds, “He is not a friend of the current government.”

“A rebel sympathizer?” she inquires.

Ettebi shrugs. “He comes off as a CDU supporter in his reports.”

Brandon’s voice comes over the com. “Should we evacuate the room?”

Natty doesn’t want to start a panic. “No, send hotel security to pat him down. Duke, be ready in case there’s trouble.”

When confronted, the media vocally refuses security’s request to search him. He is outraged. Seeing Duke he begins to complain loudly about corporate interference and the ‘abridgement of press freedom’.

The biogen lets the man finish, before calmly responding to his allegations. “Sir, this conference has already come under attack. We have identified three saboteurs who may have been involved. One has been apprehended. The other two are still at large.”

“Are you saying I’m a saboteur?” Francisco asks hotly.

“An explosive device was found upstairs. We were scanning the conference room, as a precaution, and detected gun oil residue on your clothing. Can you explain that?”

Looks of suspicion from his fellow media cool Francisco’s anger. He grudgingly submits to a search. When nothing is found, Duke offers a sincere apology and thanks him for his cooperation. The biogen moves to the back of the room, but keeps an eye on the reporter.

(GM Note: Duke Strider had a fantastic roll to sense the chemical residue. The reporter had just cleaned his handgun as a precaution, but left it up in his hotel room. He is a rebel sympathizer, but has nothing to do with the coup.)

With the excitement over, Natty steps to the podium and taps the microphone.

“Good morning, I am Warrant Officer 1st Class Natalie Lanikova of the Bast Corporation. This morning, members of the Cabindan police service, working in conjunction with hotel and conference security, engaged a group of mercenaries hired by the notorious gunrunner, Archibald Kincaid. The morning assault pre-empted a planned attack on this conference. Information is still being gathered, but we have ascertained that this attack was a prelude to a nationwide coup against the duly elected government of Cabinda.

Rebel fighters have entered the capital posing as protestors. Many of you have undoubtedly heard the explosions outside. Rebel forces have launched attacks against key installations. We have confirmation that the police headquarters in Cabinda City was attacked with at least one explosive device.

I understand that many of you may be interested covering this developing story, but I would advise against leaving the hotel. The rebels appear to be interested in taking hostages. We cannot vouch for your safety beyond these walls. If you venture outside, you do so at your own risk.

I will now turn you over to Deputy Minister Nombo.”

Questions fly from the gathered media as Natty steps back from the podium. She tunes them out, to listen to Owen on the com-net. “Say again please.”

“We found a radio detonator in the mercenaries’ equipment.”

Natty glances towards the podium. The Deputy Minister is still delivering his statement, “There could still be another radio detonator. Jam all frequencies on the ninth floor.”

Nip’s cheery voice cuts into the channel, “Already done.”

The biogen breaths a sigh of relief; It’s nice to work with competent people, who don’t need to be told what to do. She sub-vocalizes, “I’ll be there as soon as this press conference ends.”

It takes another twenty minutes for her to break away.

Owen assists Hanna with disarming the bomb. There are a total of eight kilos of C-6. The Team decides to rig a bomb under the AV pad. Security Chief Martin calls to inform Natty that the female saboteur has been captured. A review of the footage from the exterior security cameras shows the final suspect taking a car and driving away. By the time stamp, it was shortly after their assault on the mercenaries in the penthouse. All three saboteurs are accounted for, but there could still be more rebels inside the hotel. Natty stations armed guards to watch the emergency generators and communications systems.

Defensive preparations are proceeding according to plan. Natty actually finds herself with a spare minute to consider what happened to Mason. It’s nearly half past noon and they still haven’t heard from him. They are able to raise the control tower on the shortwave. It takes some effort to convince them of her identity, but she is eventual put in contact with Mason.

Inside the terminal Mason hears an announcement over the PA: “Will Mason Verge, please pick up the red courtesy phone.”

The surprised operative picks up the phone (that the tower has patched through to the radio) and asks, “Yes, this is Mason Verge.”

“When did you get in?” Natty asks.

The former Marine looks at his watch, “A little over four hours ago.”

“Why aren’t you here, yet?”

“I’m being held by the police.”

She doesn’t even want to ask why their holding him. “Put them on.”

Mason waives one of the customs agents over and hands him the receiver. “It’s for you.”

The man looks confused, but puts it to his ear. “Yes?”

“This is Warrant Officer 1st Class Lanikova under contract to the Government of Cabinda. Why are you detaining my man?”

“What? No one is being detained. He is free to leave, if he wishes.”

“That’s not what my man says.”

The customs agent shakes his head in disgust. He forces the receiver back into Mason’s hand. “I don’t have time this.”

The former Marine is surprised by what the man said to Natty. He asks the agent, just to make sure he heard right, “I can leave?”

“Of course; we’re not holding you here. You can go out and get your fool self killed anytime you want.”

Mason gets back on the phone to give Natty the ‘good news’, but she cuts him off.

“Why haven’t you contacted us in the past four hours?”

“Well, I didn’t have any way to do it and I didn’t know where you were.”

The biogen’s hackles start to rise. “Do you remember where the conference is being held?”

“Sure, the Cabinda Beach Resort and Conference Center.”

“Then take a wild guess where we are. Didn’t you bring your ear bud radio … as you were instructed?”

There is silence on the other end of the line. Mason realizes he fucked up. “Ah, yes.”

“Well … why didn’t you put it in your ear and turn it on?”

“I didn’t know if it would be in range.”

“And you didn’t even try.” Natty doesn’t try to hide her disgust.

There is another pause, before Mason asks, “How can I find the hotel?”

Natty roars into the microphone, “Did you sleep through another fucking briefing? You’re a Marine right? Force Recon? What happened to improvise, adapt, and overcome? It’s only the biggest fucking building in the city! Why don’t you open your eyes … or better yet ask someone in the airport?”

There is a brief moment of silence as Natty tries to rein in her temper. Once calm she asks, “Are you in the main terminal area?”


“Then look to west south west; about three kilometers. You’ll see two 10 story towers standing high above everything else. That’s where we are.”

“The cab won’t take me there until it gets dark,”

Natty nearly snaps the receiver in half. If he were there, she’d hit him with it. “Fuck the cab! Put on your BDUs, find your balls and hump your ass over here!”

“I have a lot of luggage though…” Mason trails off.

When Natty finally responds, her voice is dead calm. She spells it out for him, as one would to a child or an idiot. “You won’t be able to take all of your luggage. You are at an airport. There should be lockers with a key and a coin slot. Put your luggage in the locker, place a coin in the slot and turn the key to the lock position. Take out the key and put it in your pocket. Do you think you can manage that?”


“Good. By the way, put in your ear bud.”

Mason gives the cabbie fifty pounds as a consolation for having to cancel his fare. A representative from the airline offers to check any baggage he has to leave behind. The former Marine sets off at about 1 pm, dressed in his BDUs with handguns strapped at his shoulders and waist. Everything else Mason thinks he’ll need is into the duffle bag on his back.

Explosions and gunfire can still be heard in the city as the former Marine heads north. The most direct route to the hotel would be to cross the runway, but without the cover of darkness, that’s too much open ground. He skirts the edge of the airstrip and heads into the neighborhood beyond.

Back at the resort work on the perimeter defenses continue. Dismounting the mini-guns leaves the roof vulnerable, but hopefully any aerial assault will try to land on the pad and find their little surprise; the eight kilos of C-6 that Archibald Kincaid’s men so thoughtfully left behind. One of the few things still lacking is around the clock long range surveillance on the north and south approaches. Nip is patrolling with a Bell mini-bee, but Natty feels they need cameras near the edges of the property. The border hedge is at 60 meters. Beyond is scrub, which transitions into tropical forest.

The task of placing the mini-cameras falls to Brandon and Owen. Natty wants them positioned at the beginning of the tree line. Since they are going beyond the perimeter, both men wear Militech EMS-1 soft shell. The team was able to coble together two relatively undamaged suits from those worn by the mercenary strike team. Lars promised to leave behind an additional three sets of soft shell, when his team pulls out.

Brandon arms himself with one of the captured A-80s. Owen takes the Ragnarok auto shotgun loaded with slug. Ten meters out to the first camera placement, the biomechanical spots a problem; 20 armed men just beyond the hedge. Full battle dress, with helmets and heavy weapons; these aren’t rebels. They even advance like trained soldiers.

He calls out on the com-net, “Engaging multiple contacts on the perimeter.”

Brandon drops to the ground and squeezes off 15 rounds into the heavy weapons team on the right flank. Owen charges forward, sweeping the left flank with blasts from his Ragnarok. The solid slugs neutralize the second RPG launcher. Together they kill five, but there are still more than enough to repel the advance of one lone attacker.

Six engage the closing solo, firing full auto. 7.62×54mm rounds from their A-80s rip through Owen’s armor. The volume of fire slows him down, but doesn’t stop him. He presses forward, kicking in his endorphin surge chip to counteract the damage.

Targeted shots at Brandon’s torso and head have little effect. Fragments from an anti-personnel grenade wash off his soft shell armor. The biomechanical takes down two fighters scrambling towards their fallen comrades. They can’t let those RPGs join the fight.

Nip swings the Bell mini-bee around to make sure this isn’t the vanguard of a larger assault. She’s feeling guilty missing the infantry on her earlier sweep. (The player rolled two critical botches in a row for Awareness / Notice) The NET runner marks the enemies’ positions on the team’s HUDs. She sees Owen go down 5 meters from the enemy’s line.

Natty grabs an A-80and RPG-A then races toward the fight. She calls the bunker to have them reposition the mini-gun. Duke takes off running for the north tower. He is on the fourth floor of the main building. The stairs would take too long, so the biogen shoots out the window and jumps through. He lands, rolls and comes up running (at least he will in the next combat round).

(GM Note: With a high MA, 14+ Reflexes and an excellent Athletics roll biogens can be aggravatingly like Bominables. They bounce. Reference is to a line from the Christmas special Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer)

With Owen down Brandon takes the full brunt of the enemy fire. Nip can only watch as his armor is shredded. The mini-bee has no weapons.

Warning lights begin to flash on the biomechanical’s heads up display. His torso SDP is nearly depleted.

Natty reaches the sandbagged position. She yells to the mini-gun operator, “Lay down suppressing fire!”

The 7.62 gatling cannon rips apart the perimeter hedge. She snaps off rounds from her A-80, targeting the enemy’s heads. Duke joins her seconds later, laying down a burst from his own weapon.

Anyone who tries to fall back is cut down. Members of hotel security and officers from the police cordon arrive in time to help mop up. Nip gives the all clear. There are nineteen bodies. A blood trail leads off toward the tree line, but Natty chooses not to pursue.

“Police the weapons and ammo. Brandon who are you doing?”

“Still here.”

The biomechanical makes it to his feet and joins Natty and Duke by Owen. The big man hasn’t moved, since falling face down in the grass. They cautiously roll him over and remove his helmet. He is unresponsive. There is no pulse.

Duke helps Natty carry Owen’s bullet scarred body back inside. An attending doctor examines him. “He just took too many hits.”

They place him in a side room off the lobby.

“Who’s going to tell Lars?”

“I will. I‘m his commanding officer; it’s my job.”

Lars is asked to come to the command center. Though she wants to cry, Natty keeps her face an emotionless mask. “I regret to inform you that your son was killed in action.

A slight tremor goes through the man’s frame but he quickly composes himself.

“One of the hotel’s security cameras captured the incident. We can make it available to you, if you wish to see it.”

“Yes … please.’ His voice is so quiet. If she didn’t have augmented hearing, it would be unintelligible.

Natty directs him to the flop screen on the desktop. She signals Nip to run the footage.

The NET runner looks away. She doesn’t want to watch Owen die again.

Lars watches the short video in silence. He stares at the blank screen after it ends. His only comment, “He was foolish to do that.”

“I’m sorry for your loss.” Natty realizes how trite and hollow that sounds. “He was my friend … when I really needed one.”

Lars simply nods and leaves. After he is gone, she excuses herself. Natty returns to her room. The biogen is able to keep it together till the door closes, then she breaks down and cries for her dead friend.

An AV-9 arrives within the hour to pick up Lars and his team. Natty was worried that the death of his son may have changed his mind about taking the Global Share delegates, but he keeps his word. He also leaves behind the three promised sets of soft-shell armor. The biogen gives George Caceda her civilian clothes to take back to Cyprus. The other team members follow suit.

Before leaving, Lars approaches Natty with a request, “I want to bring my son’s body back with me.”

As much as she would like to grant his request, Owen’s body is filled with classified Collective cyberware. “I’m sorry. Regulations require that an autopsy be performed by the corporation before any bodies can be released. I will however make sure that this is done quickly and your son returned to you.”

This isn’t what Lars wants to hear, but he accepts it. The elder McGregor nods and leaves.

The scream of the AVs engines reach Mason as he picks his way toward the resort. The former Marine has been at it for over an hour. The maze of dirt paths makes it impossible to plot a direct path. He has also had to detour twice to avoid armed ‘rebels’ manning makeshift barricades. From time to time he has come across bodies; men, women and even children. Some have been shot but others just hacked to pieces.

The tightly packed hovels become less dense, the further he travels from the airport. There is also more foliage to use as cover. He is able to make good progress till he hits the creek. A group of bloodied fighters stand in his way. They seem to be taking a break by the water. He is forced to hold his position.

Only about half of the 18 have guns. The others are armed with machetes and clubs. As the delay drags towards 20 minutes, he starts to calculate his chances. Mason thinks he could take them. If only he could have brought a silencer. They eventually move on and he is once again on his way.

Mason is moving through a cluster of ramshackle cottages about 200 meters from the hotel, when he spots a pickup truck with a heavy weapon mounted in the back. The gun and its operator are covering a group of five men leading several others from a hut. They are bound and blindfolded. The former Marine watches they are lead towards a second truck. Neither group is in uniform. Mason senses a massacre is about to happen. He feels the need to act.

The former Marine slips off his duffle and draws his Big Governments. He waits for the armed men to be looking away from his position then quietly moves towards the truck with the truck with the heavy weapon. He is almost there, but the gunner hears him. The man tries to swing the large cannon around, but Mason puts a bullet between his eyes. He then turns his attention to the other five. Six shots, six kills.

Mason tries to question the prisoners, but they only plead their innocence and ignorance of why they were being taken. They plead for their lives when he pulls out his k-bar. The former Marine calms them down long enough to cut their binding. When it’s clear he isn’t going to kill them, they are gracious for his assistance. Mason sees them stripping the weapons from their dead enemies as he slips back to the greenery. Retrieving his duffle, he continues on to the resort.

The sound of the shoots carries to Natty and Duke who are outside speaking with Sergeant Andre. Both recognize the distinct report of a 14mm handgun. They soon receive a message from Mason on the com-channel.

“I’m coming in.”

After Owen’s death, she is too emotionally drained to chew him out. The three operators head to the command center. Mason reports the situation at the airport and the reason for his shots on his way into the resort.

“It’s too bad you couldn’t have secure the truck and brought it back,” Natty remarks.

“I wasn’t sure what the roads were like or if there would be any barricades.”

Natty nods. “Nip, send the mini-bee over there. Maybe we can still get a hold of that gun.”

The NET runner heads for the spot Mason indicated, but both trucks are gone. She broadens the search radius and finds them along with a large mob of people. They are about 500 meters away up the main road leading to the hotel. Nip zooms in on a group of armed and uniformed rebels. They seem to be gathering local sympathizers to bolster their ranks. A quick head count puts there numbers at 238 and growing.

Nip, zoom in on the gun in the back of the truck.”

The image on the flop-screen quickly moves to display a close-up of the Oerlikon 20mm. Natty is flabbergasted.

“O.R.G.’s airlift will be here within the hour. That cannon will blow them out of the sky. We have to take it out.”

One good hit to the torso could shut Brandon down. Natty leaves him to support Sergeant Andre. Hanna stays in the command center to protect Nip. She’s going to go after the cannon with Duke and Mason. Natty tosses the former Marine an A-80 and picks up a loaded RPG for herself.

The three stick to the west side of the road using the forest for cover. They move into a collection of single story structures near a bend in the road. The occupants of the first cottage have all been butchered. Natty slides up to the corner the house and peeks down the road. She judges that they are about 150 meters from the enemy. The biogen spots the pickup truck.

Natty shoulders the RPG. “Fire on my mark, 3, 2, 1.”

Mason and Duke open up on the cab of the pickup. The rocket propelled grenade hits just behind the rear wheel well. Its shaped charge easily penetrates the vehicles thin metal skin and punches into the fuel cell. The pickup explodes. Natty jumps back out of sight. Mason stays on her six when she repositions to the other end of the building. As Natty readies her last rocket she yells at Mason, “Find another position.” He’s too close for her liking. It would serve him right though, if he was caught in the back blast of her RPG.

Sporadic fires peppers the ground near Duke’s feet as he dashes across the road to a small building on the east side. He fires on the cab of a flatbed. Natty launches her RPG into the truck’s engine block. The vehicle explodes in a shower of wreckage and bodies. Mason fires controlled bursts into the massed rebels.

Rifle fire erupts from a two story house 10 meters from Duke’s position. The biogen repositions to cover the second floor windows, but the shot aren’t aimed at them. Whoever’s up there is seems to be on their side.

Natty drops the empty RPG launcher, jacks into her A-80 and begins squeezing off bursts at the rebels. They use 3 round bursts to chip away at the enemy’s numbers. The section leader occasionally switches to single shot to take out anyone who looks like they’re trying to rally the mob. The already demoralized crowd breaks when Sergeant Andre arrives with reinforcements.

Nip follows the retreat to make sure they don’t rally.

Natty and Sergeant Andre speak with the occupants of the two story house. They are members of a local militia loyal to the government. Firing on the rebel mob depleted most of their remaining ammo. The section leader has Nip maintain over watch with the mini-bee while Sergeant Andre leads a patrol forward to the enemy’s staging point. The militia moves forward to support them. Natty goes along to make sure Oerlikon is destroyed.

While policing up the weapons, the militia leader bemoans the loss of the 20mm cannon. It had had been theirs. A group of rebels had moved into their territory earlier and taken it. Natty is saddened to hear about their loss. She allows the militia to take two AK-74s and restock their ammo. Sergeant Andre gives them a small two-way radio and his police frequency.

(GM Note: Yes, it was Mason killed the militia members. Natty keeps this out of her report. In her mind, Mason made the right call. He had no way of knowing who they were. She just wishes he had been smart enough to grab the truck or at least disable to cannon.)

The O.R.G. evacuation goes off without a hitch. The first arriving craft are filled with O.R.G. security troops led by Lieutenant Luis George Nembe. Hanna brings him to the makeshift command center where Natty is waiting.

The section leader gives him a crisp salute. “Warrant Officer Lanikova, sir, respectfully turning command over to you.”

Lt. Nembe returns her salute. Natty introduces him to Sergeant Andre, Security Chief Martin and Deputy Minister Nombo. The changeover is smooth and all of the conference attendees are evacuated. Near the end of the evacuation, Nembe asks to speak with Natty in private.

“May I start by saying you have done an exemplary job.”

Natty’s social skills may not be the best, but she can tell when someone is buttering her up. She smiles and lets the lieutenant continue.

“Although our forces have taken over defense of the hotel, we still have need of your team.”

“How can we help?”

“I believe that some of the members of your team may be familiar with Antonio Bernardo Bembe. He is an official in the Cabindan government and friend of Jonas Barton of Global Share. The two had drinks earlier this week.”

Natty would have to ask Duke, but she nods.

“Rebels attempted to seize him and his family, but they were able to escape. We believe that the family is still hiding near their home in the Seaside Retreat Residential Complex. Your mission would be to enter the compound, secure Antonio Bembe and his family and bring them to safety. Unfortunately, it is in an area we don’t control. Moving overland is not an option and the presence of enemy RPGs and anti-aircraft assets make an aerial operation unfeasible. We can however insert your team by water. Time is of the essence.”

“My people can get in and out by sea, but I don’t know about getting the family out that way,” says Natty.

“Watercraft will be provided. I have been in contact with your Commander Quinn. He is sending someone skilled with small craft operations, along with the equipment you requested this morning. The plane is ten minutes out from our airfield in Malembo. An AV is standing by to bring them here. While you wait for your new man and equipment to arrive, I thought you might want to review the briefing material.”

Lt. Nembe hands Natty a data chip, gives her another salute and leaves. The section leader calls the Team together to tell them about their new assignment.



Next: Episode 15 – Casualties of War