Episode 2 – Yup, We’re Blown!
Team 42 pulls off a successful first operation. The exploding military supply train (also containing state of the art, robot brain hardware for RobotWerks) announced to the world (and Interpol) the existence of their special operations cell. Socially the Team acclimates and makes friends quickly. Some of these friendships turn out to be unfortunate. Their second assignment ends in an epic fail, but with some outrageous cyberpunk moments. Now the hounds will be loosed and the direction of the campaign changes dramatically.
With the entry of the United States of America and Japan into the conflict it is now truly World War III. The Bast Corporation (as they did before when the war first broke out) gives their employees from the newly warring nations an opportunity to return and fight for their country. The Russo-American Alliance creates an asymmetrical warfare unit made up of members contributed by their allied states. It is called the 187th Special Operations Group. The United States’ contribution is under the authority of the newly appointed Associate Deputy Director of the C.I.A., Kyle Vaduva.
The 187th SOG puts together a team for a special mission to a high tech robotics firm in Eindhoven, Holland. There they will be given a series of small jobs to do as they work as ‘code monkeys’ for the senior researchers of the Eindhoven RobotWerks. This is a high stakes attempt to breach a major enemy defense contractor during wartime. Meanwhile, the European Front remains bloody but static. The Chinese swarm over Korea and invade Indochina. The Americans immediately reinforce the Russian Bering Sea pocket. The only allied victory is over an invasion attempt of the southern Philippines by the aging fleet of Indonesia.
Brandon Heath (aka Jean-Philippe de Gaulle): A solo who is an experimental Biomechanical (cyborg) with one of Doc Freeman’s ‘cyberbrains’. Grave was supposedly executed by the US government in 2026 for authorizing the murder of a young hacker and his family. Instead they put him in their Project Kill Switch Program (see Super Solo 2 Campaign for details). He was a long time employee of the Bast Corporation and holds a Martian passport. Brandon is made a Chief Warrant Officer – 4 in the Martian Marine Corps.
Katie von Kennen (aka Toeki Leeuwanhaak): Toeki (Katie) is a freelance C.I.A. asset from the Netherlands. She has been moving into the position of assistant director at the Human Resources Department at the Euro tech company RobotWerks for the past year. This is one of a two pronged effort to disrupt EU advanced weapons systems development. She has lived for almost a year working at RobotWerks in Eindhoven, and shares company housing with three other female employees.
Nassim Faphi (aka Akil Badra): He is a cultivated C.I.A. asset from Tunisia. His strength is as a programmer and his resemblance to his alternate identity. He is very light in the cyberware department.
Noah Michaels (aka Mohammad Asyd): This 19 year old Thelas nomad is a veteran of the Bast Corporation’s Ghost Teams. He returned to the United States and was immediately recruited by the C.I.A. Noah and his siblings spent almost a decade of their youths being raised by their maternal half Vietnamese grandmother in Blackwater, FL. This young man also fought with the nomad militia at the Battle of Petersen Point. Noah returned to fight for his country and was immediately recruited by the C.I.A. and assigned to the 187th SOG.
Priest or S-0002134.7 (aka Shan Yu): He is a newly grown and trained fourth generation Nietzschean warrior and a stealth/assassin model. This is his second mission for the Collective. The Collective High Council has moved to let the Hives under Martian jurisdiction join the war on the side of Mars. Many warrior members of the New Zealand Hive transfer to a space hive and join the Martian Marine Corps. Priest is made a Chief Warrant Officer – 2 in the Martian Marine Corps.
Beatrice Visser is a cute twenty something secretary who lives at 1-B Kreeftstraat in a company owned housing block with Toeki.
Jan Smits is a Dutch guitarist with the band Vrede en Vrijheid (Peace and Freedom). He is dating Lara Janssen.
Klara Hoff is the Director of Human Resources at RobotWerks and Toeki’s immediate superior and friend. She also lives at 1-B Kreeftstraat.
Lara Janssen is another secretary from RobotWerks who lives at 1-B Kreeftstraat.
Major Korlea Sochor is Team 42’s control officer in the 187th SOG. Brandon knows him from the Prague adventure in Prelude to War.
Rutgar Speer is the target of the Team’s 2nd mission. It is a simple hit. What could go wrong?
Wihelm de Boors is the security chief for RobotWerks in Eindhoven.
Monday, December 30, 2052:
Toeki calls the rest of the Team and asks, “Hey, what are you guys doing for dinner?”
They haven’t thought about dinner, so Toeki offers to come over and she will make them a spaghetti dinner. Nietzscheans aren’t known for their tact so Priest asks bluntly. “Can you cook?”
Their contact assures them she can and says she’ll be right over. Privately, Toeki (with Cooking 0) is thinking: Spaghetti should be easy, right? You just boil water and heat up some sauce? The women’s home is small and Lara Jenssen is in the room as Toeki talks with the men. Lara asks if she can come and offers to help cook. The six spend the early evening together and eat. Priest talks up Lara who seems receptive. Mohammad, Beatrice and Toeki talk. Lara and Toeki return home and get ready for bed about 10 pm. Toeki feigns going to bed, slips out and goes over to meet with the rest of the Team.
The Team checks their maps and research a club, pub and/or hash bar that is open very late. They find one about two thirds of a mile from the target bridge near some open fields and several stands of trees. It is decided that all will go to this neighborhood pub. Then Mohammad and Toeki will go for a walk. Toeki will bring her portable cyberdeck and search out the surveillance cameras in this area. She is prepared to spoof them. The six slide out their back door and walk a few blocks before getting a cab and heading to the Open Hearth Pub.
Tuesday, December 31, 2052:
This pub is actually a nice, quiet neighborhood place. They quietly drink and talk amongst themselves while fitting right in with the small crowd. A little before 2 am, Mohammad and Toeki head out for a ‘walk’. The Team makes sure that if anyone is listening they hear salacious gossip about those two. This is the edge of the urban area of Eindhoven. The cameras are few. It is December, but the snow is old. Only in the open fields beyond the tree line is the cover pristine in places.
The two move along a line of trees running by the railroad tracks towards the bridge. Toeki discovers one camera on a road crossing. She easily spoofs it. Mohammad and Toeki reach the rail bridge and see two not very watchful guards walking a slow patrol. Toeki gets on the three security cameras watching the bridge. Guided by Toeki, Mohammad slips to the middle of the bridge, hides the small radio under the track and turns it on. Like a shadow, Mohammad pulls back off the rail bridge unnoticed. It is 2:51 am.
Mohammad and Toeki retrace their steps trying not to leave tracks in the snow. Mohammad tries to cover their tracks with his Wilderness Survival. There isn’t much white stuff there so they cover their trail well. The two get to the edge of the first field by the housing tract. This is where alibi merges with reality on this mission. The roots of the trees here are like two arms enclosing a sheltered space comfortable for two people. The soft bed of snow covers the ground of this small hollow. Mohammad whispers to Toeki hopefully, “You know we’re supposed to be fooling around out here. We should probably mess this place up like we were doing it … or something.”
From the smile on Toeki’s face it is apparent that she isn’t interested in the “or something”. The two get creative in leaving lots of forensic evidence around to back up their alibi for being here. Back at the Open Hearth the Team is starting to get a little worried when the two walk in, appropriately disheveled. They all have another drink and head home. It is 4:30 am when they slip back in their homes. At best they have two hours sleep.
On the bus to work just after 7 am, Shan Yu catches a flash out of the corner of his eye. The shockwave of the cascading explosion of the munition and supply train buffets the bus. Off to the north northeast smoke is billowing into the air, fueled by fireballs reaching into the morning sky. The military freight train fell into the canal when the onboard munitions exploded. The bridge is destroyed.
The terrorist attack on the rain is all the talk at work for the morning hours. As the end of the day approaches, talk turns to the parent company function tonight at the ‘White Lady’, the 1920’s Phillip’s building. All are invited. Playing there in the early evening is the folk rock trio, Vrede en Vrijheid (Peace and Freedom) that they saw on their first day in country. After work everyone heads home for a little sleep. Shan Yu is prepared and uses his sleep inducer to be fresh for the evening.
The Team spruces themselves up and heads out to the ‘White Lady’. This is an old renovated Philips factory near the center of Eindhoven that now houses the municipal library, some shops and the Design Academy. RobotWerks is sponsoring part of the New Year’s celebration here. When the Team plus Beatrice and Klara arrive, they see Lara there with her boyfriend, Jan Smits. Lara comes over to talk with them. Jan heads outside. Everyone agrees to go down and see the flotilla of lights at midnight and then to the Quicksilver Club where Jan and the band are playing afterhours. A scuffle is heard outside but only Lara and Jean-Philippe go to look. Three plainclothes officers and four uniformed officers are wrestling Jan to the ground. Lara shouts, “What are you doing, you fucking idiot?”
One of the plainclothesmen points to her and says, “Arrest her too.”
Lara is taken into custody. She and her boyfriend are hustled away in two cars. When Jean-Philippe comes back he tells everyone what he saw. Klara says she will call and find out what’s going on. About an hour later Bianca and Marius, the other band members, show back up. Jan has been arrested for selling drugs to an undercover cop. The police are also looking for Joos, their roadie, who has fled. Without Jan they are just going to pack up and head out to try to salvage their New Year’s Eve. Mohammad and Toeki offer to help them with their gear. The others mill about the party.
About ten minutes later Mohammad is heading out the door with the last speaker cabinet, Toeki enters the room and starts walking towards Bianca and Marius as the two pick up a trunk, which explodes in a fireball that vaporizes the two musicians. Toeki is blown backward. Mohammad goes sailing out the door. The police are all over the place instantly. Initially Toeki and Mohammad are looked on as suspects but Klara is there to set the police straight, backed by Jean-Philippe, her RobotWerks security officer. The Team and their friends from work are given some perfunctory questioning. Mohammad and Toeki are treated at the scene but Toeki is taken to the hospital for observation. Mohammad goes with her and later the two catch a cab home.
Wednesday, January 1, 2053:
That leaves Beatrice, Jean-Philippe, Shan Yu, Akil and Klara and they go to the midnight light display near the terminus of the Eindhoven Canal. A series of lighted boats go by and one starts broadcasting a message: “Stop the attacks on our Polish and Russian brothers; Reject the warmongering EU government and bring Peace; Make love, not war.”
A police boat pounces on them and pulls the boat near shore. Snowballs start to fly at the police trying arrest the protesters. Even Klara makes a snowball to pelt the police. The sound of steel shod hooves hitting the concert can be heard coming down the street. Most of the crowd starts moving away from the approaching mounted police. Akil heads away from the police and Shan Yu tries to sweep up Klara in his arms to carry her through the crowd. She is not about to be swept up by anyone and slaps him hard!
Beatrice also decides it’s time to leave. She and Jean-Philippe get away from the police and protestors. Klara finds the two of them and Shan Yu is ahead of them by a block and half or so. Akil is nowhere to be seen being long gone. Coming up to the three on a cross street are four young punks. The first points to Jean-Philippe and says, “Hey, I think you’re the guy who owes me that money.”
“You must be mistaken,” the biomechanical tells him.
“No, I think I’m just gonna take it.”
“You’re going to be very disappointed,” Jean-Philippe replies.
The punk swings. The biomechanical easily dodges the blow and then kicks the man’s arm. The punk goes down screaming with his mangled arm at a painfully odd angle.
“Please do not do that again,” the biomechanical asks.
The young punk’s three friends take him to the hospital. Jean-Philippe escorts the women home. Lara comes in a little after 1am, pissed at Jan for dealing drugs—and he is now charged with terrorism. “I hope he has a good lawyer,” she tells them.
It’s been a tough and memorable New Year’s Eve. Everyone goes to sleep.
After last night everyone sleeps late, especially Toeki who suffered the most from the bombing at the ‘White Lady’. There is no mention of the unpleasantness of the anti-war protest down by the canal last night. The bombing at the White Lady can’t be brushed under the rug. Around noon the media promos an upcoming announcement by the police: they have a picture of two “persons of interest” in the train bombing last Tuesday morning. The Team is understandably nervous. When the picture is shown it is clearly of two men and doesn’t resemble Mohammad or Toeki in the slightest. Everybody is relieved.
Thursday, January 2, 2053:
Everyone except Toeki is back at work. Klara insists that Toeki take a day off with pay before she comes back to work after the bombing on New Year’s Eve. Shan Yu goes to Human Resources and requests the upcoming Chinese New Year off. The answer is yes, but it will take a week to process, which will be fine.
Friday, January 3, 2053:
Toeki is back at work and the rest of the Team spends the day at work crunching code for their bosses. Shan Yu asks to speak to Toeki privately. He wants to work out any misunderstanding between him and Klara which caused him to get slapped last New Year’s Eve.
About 4:30 in the afternoon another package arrives at the men’s residence at 1-D. It is a mission packet. There is a picture of a man in his late thirties or early forties named Rutgar Speer. Mohammad decodes the message. It is instructions to kill Rutgar Speer at 12 Rachelsmollen in the Woenselse Watermolen district by sunrise this coming Sunday. Try not to make it look like a murder, but he must die on schedule.
“Does anyone have any specialized training in this kind of work?” Shan Yu asks.
“What do you mean by ‘specialized’ training?” inquires Akil.
Jean-Philippe answers quietly, “Assassination.”
Toeki starts to raise her hand when Shan Yu rambles on, “Well, this is the type of work I was trained to do.”
Toeki’s hand goes down.
“Let’s pull up a map and see where this place is,” the faux Chinese operative suggests.
The address is a nice residential neighborhood across the street from a school campus and two blocks down from a mall facing the Veldmaarshalk Montgomerylaan in the center of Eindhoven. It is just the type of neighborhood to have working street cams and maybe occasionally someone looking at them.
“We might be able to sneak in the back of his house at night?” suggests Toeki.
The satellite photo they were looking at didn’t show any access to the back of their target’s place. The front door appeared to be the only entrance.
“We should keep the group small,” says Shan Yu. “Only one or two people should go.”
“A couple would be good,” offers Jean-Philippe.
“Maybe Jehovah’s Witnesses or something like that,” Mohammad puts out there.
The Team decides that this is a basically good plan. Mohammad says he will get some Jehovah’s Witnesses’ pamphlets tomorrow morning. Shan Yu and Toeki will do the hit in disguise. They will walk up and knock on the door with big smiles. When Herr Speer answers the door, Shan Yu (Priest) will bum rush him through the door and Toeki will enter quickly, close the door and assist in subduing/killing the man. Search the house and maybe dump the body if the scene is messy.
Saturday, January 4, 2053:
About mid-morning Mohammad heads over to the one-and-only Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Halls in Eindhoven. It is a small unassuming building as they usually are. The brown skinned ‘Algerian’ enters the building and starts to browse the literature. Soon a pleasant young woman joins him and they talk briefly about faith and God. Mohammad collects a good handful of Watchtowers and other brochures and thanks the woman for her time.
“I will be here tomorrow,” Mohammad lies to his host.
As the faux ‘Algerian’ leaves he sees two men across the street and a half a block away in a parked car taking his picture. Mohammad walks down the street and walks up to the car. He thinks they are cops and the wise ass in Noah can’t help himself as he asks with a big smile, “Hi, who are you?”
The two men in suits get out of their vehicle and the taller one says, “Identification, please.”
Mohammad pulls out his papers and starts to hand them over —but then pulls them back and asks with a smirk on his face, “Let’s see yours first.”
With that, the two unsmiling Interpol agents grapple Mohammad and wrestle him to the hood of the car. They confiscate his Watchtowers and pamphlets. The two operatives bring him to their HQ and question him and his connection to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He isn’t allowed to make a call as this is a treason and espionage investigation. The man doesn’t come home and inexplicably the Team doesn’t call him or change their plans.
(GM Note: The Jehovah’s Witnesses are an extremely pacifistic group and will not participate, condone (or remain silent) during a war. They are (and always have been worldwide) unpopular with governments at war and considered as troublesome subversives, so they are usually watched off and on. Mohammad (Noah) looking like an Arab decided to go up and call out these two not-very-happy Interpol agents on their surveillance. The agents decided Mohammad needed to be questioned for a couple of hours … and strip searched. As to the Team not calling, or trying to find out what happened to Mohammad, I have no idea. This was probably ‘bleed over’ of player knowledge into character actions. Oops. Our group usually does a better job of keeping the two realms separate.)
Toeki goes down to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Kingdom Hall and picks up more Watchtowers and pamphlets. She notices her picture being taken as she leaves the building by two men in a car, but decides to ignore them. The two Interpol agents just continue their surveillance. The plan needs only two people to execute it, so Shan Yu and Toeki will go. The two put on a disguise at the men’s row home and soon they are headed out the front door down Kreeftstaat to the Hoogstraat. About a block from there, the two catch a cab closer to their target’s house.
The two go over the plan one more time. They will knock on several doors as a smiling well-dressed couple, finally reaching their target building. When Rutgar Speer answers the door, Shan Yu will ‘bum rush’ him in and wrestle him to the floor. Toeki will follow Shan Yu inside, close the door and deal with any other threats before helping take out Rutgar Speer if the Nietzschean hasn’t done so already. The two start on the south side of Rachelsmollen across from the mall. At the first five houses there is no answer. At two others, occupants brusquely close the door in their faces after the first words of Shan Yu’s ‘Jesus Rap’. One elderly woman in her seventies listens politely for a few minutes and takes a Watchtower. Finally, they reach their target’s house. They are the only people in their immediate area. Shan Yu and Toeki stand in front of number 12 and knock. The door opens half way and their target is standing there half behind it. On Rutgar’s hip is a 12mm H&K 625 in a belt holster. Instead of attacking, Shan Yu asks, “Have you made Jesus your personal Savior?”
Speer immediately starts to close the door. Shan Yu now tries to force the door, but the human holds it. The Nietzschean kicks his target’s leg, but only a point or two of damage goes into the cyberleg. Rutgar shoves the heavy door closed and they hear a dead bolt latch. The two immediately turn and run diagonally across the street to the school out of sight of number 12. The pair walks quickly across the parking lots but the sound of sirens are already approaching. By the time they reach the broad multi-lane boulevard that is the John F. Kenedylaan, the police already has it under surveillance so they head back through the school. The police are just arriving at number 12. Shan Yu and Toeki get to the back of the mall but realize that the police are already setting up a perimeter on the Veldmaarshalk Montgomerylaan. They decide to split up as the police are looking for a couple, so they enter the back of the mall and go their separate ways.
Shan Yu heads right for the men’s room. He activates his disguise feature, but doesn’t have a ‘throw away’ face ready. He takes five minutes and does a credible job. The coat he was wearing is put in the trash before he leaves the rest room. On his way to a front door exit, Shan Yu (or rather Mr. Average White Guy) shoplifts a new coat and hat. The police are in force on the street. Getting away isn’t going to be easy.
Meanwhile, Toeki steals a dress before finding a spot outside of camera range in a maintenance area. She quickly looks through the cleaning and industrial chemicals. Her chemistry and demolitions allows her to throw together a large potent and smoky fire not under any fire suppression system. She needed a new face too and decided to use one of her ‘sisters’. Toeki (not her real name of course) uses the one from her last mission when she went around as Natty Lanikova in the Caribbean last spring to account for that sister’s whereabouts while Natty was off doing some secret mission.
Toeki (now Natty) sets off her home made conflagration. She then races for the front door.
At this moment Priest is wondering how to get by the police line forming at the doors, when all the fire alarms go off and acrid smoke starts belching into the main galley of the mall. It doesn’t take many shouts of fire from Natty (Toeki) to panic the crowd, which surges out the doors of the mall. The police line is completely overwhelmed by the panicked shoppers. The two would-be assassins escape in the confusion. The pair takes a circuitous route home and changes their faces again.
During this time Mohammad gets kicked out of detention from Interpol. He isn’t pleased when he gets home and talks with Akil and Jean-Philippe. A Jehovah’s Witnesses incident is on Interpol’s books for today. He hopes the two assassins still have all of the booklets. (No.) Shan Yu and Toeki get back to the men’s row home. The Team gets a quick description of the mission’s failure. Mohammad sits down and debriefs Shan Yu and Toeki with Akil and Jean-Philippe listening. He makes the two give a detailed account of the operation from preparation (after he was arrested) to walking through the door. The two describe in detail getting on their disguises at home and leaving out the front door. As the two go into their walk to the bus, a thought crosses Jean-Philippe’s mind and he asks, “Did you wear your ‘murder faces’ as you walked out the front door here and down to the corner?”
The two think for a second and mutter in unison, “Yeah, I guess.”
Mohammad slaps both arms of his chair as he rises and states, “Yup, we’re blown!”
(GM Note: Yes, I had constantly reminded them that security cameras covered the street. All video is saved and people can be tracked by facial recognition. It’s only a matter of time before the police come kicking down the door. Of course, how fast depends on how important the case is.)
All the men grab their go-bags. Toeki has her small portable cyberdeck on her and keeps nothing of value at her ‘house’. It is only a matter of time before they are identified on the city-wide surveillance system and tracked to this place. Toeki surveys a path to minimize exposure to many of the cameras as the five flee to their main Team safe house. They get there and turn on the vid screen. There is a local news live report as Dutch police and Interpol operatives launch a raid on a ‘dangerous nest of terrorists’. As they watch the heavily armed police kick in a front door, Akil speaks what is obvious to all, “Hey, that’s our house.”
Priest pulls out the safe house cell phone. “We have to assume our alternate escape identities and call in.”
The Nietzschean then pulls out ‘Shan Yu’s’ cell phone, shuts it off and destroys it.
Akil asks, “Was that on when you came here?”
The rest of the Team realizes they all have their wanted cell phones on. Silently, everyone destroys their primary phones. They immediately abandon this safe house and head to the first of the two secondary safe houses. Again Toeki uses her NET skills to help them minimize their exposure. The group gets there safely and picks up their second cell phone. They now make that emergency call. Their control officer Major Korlea Sochor is surprised by their need of immediate extract. They have gone down in flames in only eight days, following more than two months of prepping for their arrival. He says he’ll call back in a few hours.
The Team completes their change to their new identities. Toeki becomes Rini von Nijen. Brandon becomes Claude Fiquet and Noah becomes Dion Vidler. They are both from Paris. Priest becomes a student from New Zealand traveling in Europe named Jack Murphy. Nassim Faphi will drop his impersonation and disguise of Akil Badra and become Nassim again. The Rini von Nijen safe house is close by, so she heads there and picks up that phone and her go bag.
Rini (Toeki) returns about 11 pm and the news stories have broken across the NET. Terrorists tried to assassinate Rutgar Speer, a Senior Operations director of Interpol in charge of a special task force being set up in the city. The work of this task force was to begin this coming Monday. Now it is rapidly becoming one of the largest manhunts in Dutch history. Oh, and there is another live raid as the SWAT units swoop down on their last safe house.
At 11:30 pm their phone rings. Major Sochor has some bad news. There is nothing they can do at present. Their choice is to hunker down and hope the heat passes and he can work out some kind of ex-fil protocol, or the Team can make a run for a neutral country. Switzerland is the closest. If they can get close to the border, the Agency might be able to help them. Korlea tells them to ditch this phone now and use a fresh one when they are close. Team 42 sits down to work out a plan. It’s going to be a long night.
Next: Episode 3 – Rinse and Repeat