Episode 18: WHAT A LONG STRANGE TRIP (IT’S GONNA BE)
So, Cleo, Ken and Dr. Freeman made it back to their headquarters in Night City. Rose is there recuperating after a little bio-sculpting.
(GM Note: This player had missed the previous week so Cleo used the ‘down time’ as an opportunity to have her get her face fixed. The bandages come off revealing Rose’s pretty new face. She went from a 5 to a 7 Attractiveness.)
The team spends the following week doing some training on the VR simulator supplied by Cleo. She wants to make sure that ‘her’ team looks the part and has the skills to back it up. After training and some ‘housekeeping’ (beefing up the security of their headquarters), the group takes a much needed break. Cleo has them over to her place (ritzy downtown digs) for dinner and then they go out dancing. Ken isn’t really a dancer so he doesn’t plan on staying, but he walks with them to The Rainbow Nights Dance Club. Dr. Freeman is under the weather, so he stays back at the fortress of solitude. This leaves Cleo, Rose and Takashi to trip the light fantastic.
Cleo tears up the dance floor. Even Takashi gives it a go. In spite of her new face, Rose still has the same old personality and hang ups, so she decides to play the wallflower. The problem is that now that she is pretty, guys have begun to notice her. She has to fend off several attempts from men who try to ask her to dance. Eventually they give up and she sits alone at the groups table. As the night progresses, other people approach the table, but they just want the unoccupied chairs. They take them and quickly depart. Cleo arrives back at the table just in time to prevent the last unoccupied chair from ‘walking away’. She has to twist the nice man’s arm to convince him she was sitting there. Holding his wrist, he slinks back to a larger group at another table nearby.
There are now not enough chairs for the group, so when a tired but happy Takashi arrives back at the table, Cleo lets him have her seat and then sits on his lap. All the while, she is keeping an eye on the table where the ‘gentleman’ that she had the altercation with retreated to. Three suits backed up by body guards seem to be holding court with bevy of beauties. After a couple of minutes one of the bodyguards walks up to the party’s table. As Cleo and Rose tense for potential combat, Takashi is too wrapped up in enjoying the sensations of Cleo sitting on his lap.
No combat ensues. The bodyguard was sent over by his employer to apologize for the rudeness of the ‘gentleman’ with the now injured wrist. To make amends, he offers them a card, which will comp their drinks for the evening. The bodyguard then makes his way back to the table, where several chairs are arriving…brought by the staff of the club. A little while later, several other suits arrive and take the newly procured seats. The rest of the evening passes uneventfully.
Clubbing is all well and good, but the group needs work to demonstrate their abilities. More accurately, Cleo needs to find them jobs to build their reputation, so that they will enhance her reputation. Back to the Afterlife they go, in search of work. After perusing the jobs available, Cleo makes some calls to check out a bodyguard job listed on the boards. DMS is looking for bodyguards for one of their celebrities, Chris Carney. He is currently on the last leg of his national tour, so the work will last approximately three weeks. The group’s Rep isn’t that high, and they aren’t known for bodyguard work, but Cleo’s negotiation skills land them the job. She may have embellished bit, but as long as the group can back up the hype, this job may make their reputations.
The group will pick up security for Mr. Carney in Night City. The tour is currently in Los Angeles and will arrive in Night City Wednesday evening. The party gets the opportunity to meet Dan Ellis, head of security for the tour, prior to a walkthrough of the suite on Tuesday. He gives them a bit of the low down on Mr. Carney and the tour.
Chris Carney is a corporate ‘Rocker’ for DMS. Mr. Carney was the only survivor of a car wreck, in which the driver and his personal bodyguard, Max, were killed. When Takashi did a Net search on Carney, there is also mention of an undisclosed female, who may have also been killed in the wreck. Since that time, DMS has been providing security for Mr. Carney, who has chafed under the tighter controls placed on his comings and goings. He has made his displeasure known by routinely ditching his security detail and making their lives a living hell. Ellis is more than happy to hand off responsibility for Mr. Carney’s personal security to someone else. He has his hands full with the rest of the acts on the tour.
The Carnival of Dreams Tour
Those behind the scenes generally refer to it as the Carnal Dreams Tour. Carney headlines one of the oddest collection of acts, you’re likely to find, on any bill.
The opening act is ‘Shatter Box’. The band members are Zane Heiter, Hector Braman, Max Millions and Ronnie Remo. This is an all Borg Band co-sponsored by DMS and Maronette Industries. The band is a publicity stunt to portray borgs in a favorable light and to get the companies designer chassis out into the public eye. The band has its own psychiatrist that travels with them. Ellis has been assured that they are harmless, but he has still issued volt pistols to his security teams, in case there is an ‘incident’.
Shatter Box is followed by a band made up of Exotics called ‘Zpieler -X-‘. The band members are Mingo Mufnstuf, Dinga (Schrodinga), Phanti Zenuzi, Purrlette, Itchycoo and Tenga. Most tend toward felinoid (feline), although Mingo is a canid (dog/wolf) and Tenga is a vulpid (fox). Popular with the ‘furry’ crowd, they also have a fairly large crossover appeal.
The third act is ‘Rumor’. Band members include Leeza Line, Dan Lesner, Sophilia Gahnz and Kris Ghanz; with special guest performer: Judah Carver. Judah joined Rumor on tour after Mark Stoffler exited the band on the first leg of the tour. Following Rumor is the main act, Chris Carney.
The show incorporates several high wire acts and circus performers, who enhance its carnival mystique. The stage acts are just the showcase. There is also a full carnival midway filled with games and vendors…anything and everything to separate as many euros as possible from the paying audience. The Maronette Industries booth is quite popular. Concert goers can ‘try on’ (virtually) one of their designer borg bodies. Think virtual Guitar Hero or rock Band, where you can become a member of Shatter Box and play with the band. This not only promotes Maronette’s merchandise, it also gives them an opportunity to search for talent…replacements for the existing band members should there be an “incident”.
Wednesday morning at 11 am the part gains access to the suite and begin setting up security cameras. There is a brief argument over putting a camera in Mr. Carney’s bedroom. Cleo remarks that Carney has a decker (Nate Hatcher) on staff, so he will more than likely find and remove the camera. So, for the time being, only the common areas, exits and entrances are watched.
The group relaxes in the palatial suite while they await Mr. Carney’s arrival at midnight. When Carney arrives, it is quite the event. He breezes in with a groupie in each arm and makes for the bedroom. The security detail has Cleo sign a release (indicating Carney is now in their hands) and departs, wishing them good luck. The group also meets Mr. Carney’s assistant Kate (Kathryn Pullman). She makes them aware of Mr. Carney’s morning itinerary before heading off to sleep in her own room.
Rose, worried that they had not had the chance to properly screen the groupies, listens carefully for any sign that they might be trying to harm Mr. Carney. Overhearing an exclamation of pain and ‘not so rough’, Rose bursts into the room to make sure Mr. Carney is alright. Mr. Carney is fine. One of the groupies is merely demonstrating her gas siphoning technique for him. Rose exits the room red faced and embarrassed…this may be a very long three weeks for her. The trio (Mr. Carney & the groupies) finally pass out about 4 am.
Two hours later at 6 am Kate stirs and prepares to get Mr. Carney ready for his morning interviews. The groupies are awakened and ushered out of the room. They are given tickets (coach) that will get the back to Las Angeles, since they had traveled up on Mr. Carney’s bus after the concert. After the groupies are sent on their way, Dr. Don (Donald Pasch), Mr. Carney’s medtech arrives with his ‘breakfast’, a hypospray, (Bones McCoy) that he hands to Kate.
After morning interviews, the party packs Mr. Carney into a car to take him to one of the local DMS stations for an in studio interview. While there he plays a couple of songs for a small audience of listeners in the studio. Then it’s off to a luncheon with executives from Maronette Industries. The party final arrives back at the hotel around 6pm.
Mr. Carney, who is exhausted goes in to take a nap. The concert isn’t until tomorrow, so the party expects that Carney will probably want to make the rounds about town. He expressed interest in wanting to get in on a local drag racing event he heard about near the combat zone. Later, while the group is asking Kate what type of venues Carney might be interested in (and the drag racing comes up) she warns the group not to believe him. She says Carney doesn’t even know how to drive. It is more than likely a false trail to throw them off the scent if he ditches them.
Kate is still talking with the group, when a small alarm goes off on her watch. When questioned, Kate tells the party she attached a sensor to the doors on the balcony in Carney’s room. (something that the group had not thought of) She also informs them that Carney is an insomniac. Fearing that it’s either an extraction attempt (one of the rumors on the Chris Carney fan sites is that the car accident was actually a botched extraction) or Carney attempting to ditch the party, Cleo races for the room. Ken is incredulous about it being an escape attempt. The suite is after all on the 18th floor.
Carney’s room is empty and the balcony doors wide open. Cleo finds Carney sitting in his underwear, out on the ledge, off the balcony, drinking from a bottle of vodka and looking down at the people below. After a brief exchange of adversarial conversation, Cleo changes tactics and says, “Please don’t ditch us, we need the job”. It surprises Carney, who retorts, “Begging…that’s a new one”. Carney rises unsteadily nearly pitching over the edge and climbs back onto the balcony heading towards his room.
There is another brief exchange of conversation, which is more cordial than before, till Cleo touches a nerve.
Carney jokingly says, “Ok mom” (referring to how Cleo is almost scolding him like a mother). Cleo’s retort is something along the lines about him needing a mother or that she would act like his mother if he wanted. This makes Carney pull up short and turn to look at her. His response is, “My mother was a saint.”
Cleo does her best to diffuse the situation.
A little while later, Carney emerges from his room showered and changed ready to hit the town. The tension of the earlier conversation seems all but forgotten. He dances his way over the elevators and pushes the down button. While waiting for the elevator to arrive, he pokes his head into Ellis’ ‘command center’ to say hi. Carney tells Ellis there are no hard feelings…a sentiment that Ellis does not share. He also joking asks Ellis if he wants to wager how long it would take to lose his new bodyguards…
Tune in next week for “THE GAME’S AFOOT
Ah, yes, lots of fun, babysitting a spoiled corporate rocker. And the GM nails pretty much what happened, except for what was said on the balcony between Cleo and Chris Carney in the italic section:
Cleo did not intend to be adversarial towards Chris Carney on the ledge at all, and she was not ‘begging’ him not to ditch her team, but if he thought she was, she wasn’t going to say different. It doesn’t matter why he doesn’t ditch us, only that he doesn’t. Anyway, we have secured a tiny tracking device on his clothes.
What Cleo actually said to Chris after the “OK, mom” comment was: “Your mother never looked so good (as me).” His reply about his mother being “a saint” was curious, but he was wasted and the two of them had shared the vodka on the ledge (Cleo had just a pull or two off the bottle). Her retort to “the saint” comment was (delivered as a statement of fact), “And I am not.”
Cleo has serious issues when it comes to mothers (hers was a drug addicted whore), and wouldn’t know how to be ‘motherly’ in any sense of the word. What she was thinking about was that her only real experience in the bodyguard business was from the other side of the coin (as an assassin).
Episode 19: THE GAME’S AFOOT
After his brief tete-a-tete with Ellis, Carney returns to the hallway to wait for the elevator. He then makes an excuse of forgetting something and pop back into his suite, followed closely by Rose After his conversation with Ellis, the group is taking no chances. Nate (Carney’s netrunner) hands him a stack of backstage passes and something that looks like and oversized magic marker. He then returns to the hall all smiles and the party heads out. Rose and Cleo are certain that the device must be some kind of jammer and make plans to lift it from his pocket when the opportunity arises.
Carney asks if there is a zoo in or hockey rink in Night City. There’s no zoo and Takashi can’t locate any hockey rinks on a net search (a botched role). Since they are locals, Carney asks the group what the hot spots are in town. The party members offer up suggestions and at Carney’s urging they take him to the Afterlife. He seems to enjoy himself…if for no other reason than the newness of the experience.
Carney expresses an interest in seeing where the group lives, so they take him down to their fortress of solitude in the combat zone. After the 5 cent tour, it;s off to the Clam Shack, where Carney drops a load of money. He buys several rounds of drinks and lap dances, for those members of the party who will take him up on the offer. Dr. Freeman jokingly tells Carney to get one (a lap dance) for Rose. Not knowing all of Rose’s hang ups, he does. Dr. Freeman seems to take enjoyment in Rose’s discomfort.
Rose and Cleo go easy on the drinks (and forgo the lap dances), wary that Carney may be trying to get them drunk or distracted so that he can slip away. Carney is handing out back stage passes to some of the strippers and seems to be talking up one of the waitresses. When he excuses himself to go use the bathroom, Cleo has Dr. Freeman go with him…for his safety. She then quickly runs outside to cover the window, lest he attempt to ditch them.
(GM Note: Sure, he’s going to try to ditch the party on their turf, at night, in the combat zone.)
Carney seems to be taking a long time in the bathroom and eventually he asks Dr. Freeman if he can have some privacy. Dr. Freeman is hesitant at first, until the waitress enters the bathroom. On the way out, Dr. Freeman makes some comment about the bathrooms being unisex. BTW, they aren’t. After his tryst with the waitress, Carney seems ready to move on.
The next stop is the Rainbow Nights Dance Club. On the way there, the group runs into the Slaughterhouse (boosters). The Slaughterhouse is spread out in a line across their path. The party, with Carney in tow, makes a break for an alley. There is another line of boosters coming up behind them. Although the gang members (on both sides) take note of the party, they are not pursuing them. The two gangs seem to lining up to take each other on. As the battle ensues, the party uses the opportunity to get away. With no other disturbances along the way, they arrive safely at Rainbow Nights.
After some dancing and flirting, Carney settles in to talk with three girls. The party gives him some space, but a man stops at the table and seems to be attempting to pick a fight with Carney. Ken also notices a woman, who seems to be taking special interest in the table. As the altercation commences and the others move in to diffuse the situation, Ken notices the woman cup her hand next to her ear, while trying to make it look like she was running her hand through her hair.
Rose and Cleo move in to diffuse the situation. The man is telling Carney that his music is crap, to which Carney just smiles and stares. The girls are giggling as well, till the noticeably intoxicated man calls them whores and tells them to shut up. Rose confronts the intoxicated man, who puts his hand on her. She restrains herself from breaking the arm, but puts the man in a hold, so that she can lead him away from the table. The guy is so intoxicated, that he is partially numb and does not seem to feel the pressure on his arm…or he just can’t take a hint. She offers to buy the man a drink, to which he counters, “that’s ok, you can have mine”, where upon, he tries to throw his drink in her face. It may have worked too, if he hadn’t been too drunk to notice that the glass had slipped out of his hand.* He is now attempting to toss a non-existent drink in Rose’s face. The man seems surprised that there was no drink in his hand and Rose now has an easy time of handing the man over to Rainbow Night’s security, which is standing nearby.
(GM Note: Trust me, it happens. I was so drunk once…ok maybe more than once…I lost fine motor control – over such things as holding a bottle in my hand. After my second dropped drink, my friend cut me off. Ah youth.)
The players back off, to give Carney and his guests some privacy, but the conversation is, once again interrupted, by another uninvited guest. This one seems to be addressing one of the girls at the table. As the party approaches, Cleo recognizes that he is speaking Russian (so is the girl). He is admonishing the girl about making her father worry and that it is time to go home. She is making it clear that she does not intend to leave (in a shrill voice, that seems to carry over the music). She is making quite the scene.
Rose addresses Mr. Carney saying that she would be happy to locate other ladies, who might be available for him to talk to, so that the girls (at the table) don’t have to worry about him being left lonely by their absence. This causes the shrill blond to turn on Rose. She calls her every name in the book and makes several crude suggestions (even some that are physically impossible). Worse than all of the Asian slurs is when the blond she would expect better manners from ‘the help’. It’s a good thing that this tirade was all in Russian or Rose might have shown her what she thought of her ‘suggestions’.
Carney diffuses the situation by offering the girls back stage passes and an invite to his concert on Saturday night. He also promises the gentleman (Vasili) that her father need not worry. He promises to be on his best behavior. Cleo asks for the girls names, so that they can make proper arrangements. The girls are students at Night City University, but they are also the daughters of powerful men. Anna (the shrill Russian) is the daughter of a high placed SovOil executive. She is under the illusion that she is a golden kid or a member of the new aristocratic class in Russia. Lynn is the daughter of the Chinese vice consul (in Night City), and Mahayla is the daughter of a king (tribal chief) from Nigeria. Anna is none too happy, but the girls depart. In their wake, about a half dozen other individuals, including the woman Ken spotted earlier, disengage themselves from the crowd and follow them out.
After the altercation, Carney is ready to move on. He springs for breakfast and then Cleo has a surprise. She takes him (and the group) to “Playland by the Sea” (the Mega Amusement Park). Carney is enjoying himself, till the manager of the park approaches him with park security. Rose had gone to the front office to inform them that Mr. Carney was in the park and asked if they could make arrangements for him to bypass the lines. Although she did it for the best of reasons, Carney seems completely put off by being treated differently from anyone else in line. He eventually convinces the park manager to give the ‘honor’ of the security detail and pass to the front of the line to a family he picks at random from the line.
(GM Note: Carney didn’t mind waiting in line. He actually enjoyed when no one recognized him and he could just blend in with the crowd.)
Ken accompanies Carney on a walk through the Fun House. While inside, Ken manages to scare several other people who are walking through the fun house (especially in the hall of mirrors). He and Carney exit laughing. Carney exhibits his ‘mad skills’ at midway games, winning Cleo a large stuffed lion and Rose a large stuffed elephant.
(GM Note: The “Carnival of Dreams” tour has its own carnival midway as one of the attractions. It’s been a long tour and there is usually down time after sound check and when the gates open. You pick up some tricks.)
It is time for sound check at the McCartney Center and then a quick nap for Carney. The group has been going all night and into the afternoon. Thank god for sleep inducers. Most of the group remains behind at the Phallus Palace (the roadies nickname for Carney’s Motor Coach), while Rose returns to the hotel to check in (and have her suit dry cleaned) and Cleo heads back to her apartment for a nap, shower and change. While on stage, Carney is Ellis’ responsibility, so the group uses the down time to catch up on rest and prepare for the post-concert crush. Carney wasn’t the only one handing out backstage passes.
Side note: Carney’s Motor Coach
This Newell Motor Coach…with a couple of modifications, was the basis for the Phallus Palace. Here’s the basic floor plan. Some of the modifications include a heavier suspension, to support the weight of the armor. There are also recessed weapons pods and cameras in the back and on the sides of the bus. Inside, there is a floor hatch in the pantry that leads to storage (including a weapons locker) and additional sleeping space (which is like sleeping in a doublewide coffin hotel). The washer and dryer have also been replaced with a crash cart and a full medical suit (nearly everything you’d expect to find in a Trauma Team AV).
Once off stage, Carney is surrounded by a bevy of beauties, who join him in his motor coach. The music is blasting and the drinks are flowing. The boys (Dr. Freeman, Ken and Takashi) have a front row seat. Once Carney selects two girls and moves back his bedroom, Dr. Freeman and Takashi move in on the stragglers like hungry predators. Having almost no social skills, Dr. Freeman strikes out, but Takashi has game. After some dancing and kissing, he tries to convince his new friend to go all the way. She is too embarrassed to do it in front of a group of people, no matter how much he tries to convince her to do so. They opt for the ‘privacy’ of the motor coach’s bathroom. Disgusted, Rose excuses herself and joins Cleo outside.
(GM Note: The scene inside seems to have offended her uptight sensibilities.)
Two of the remaining girls begin to make out, which has Dr. Freeman and Ken’s full attention. Another groupie, that had passed out earlier begins to choke on her own vomit, but Dr. Freeman comes to her aid and is rewarded with a shirt full of regurgitated alcohol and food. He knocks on the door to the bathroom, but Takashi says he’s in the middle of something and he can’t come in…or more precisely “Occupado!” Dr. Freeman next tries to make his way to the sink in the galley, which is easier said than done. The girls that had been making out have become more amorous and had moved to the floor in the galley. Stepping over them, the doctor pulls out the hose and begins to wash his shirt. Fearing that the water raining down on his pants will make him look like he wet himself, he also makes sure to thoroughly drench his pants as well.
While this is going on, another of the girls exits the bus crying. She is looking for a bathroom, since the one in the motor coach is otherwise occupied. Cleo has Rose take the distraught girl to find a bathroom. It turns out that the reason she is crying is because Carney did not pick her. Rose does her ‘best’ to console her…”Don’t be upset, he has a different girl every night”. The girl begins to bawl. Rose isn’t sure how to react as she stands there stiffly, with a distraught young woman hanging onto her, crying into her shoulder. She begins to gingerly pat the crying girl on the back saying, uncertainly, “There, there, everything will be all right.”
Meanwhile, back in the motor coach, the passed out girl comes to. Ken and Dr. Freeman note this in passing, but their eyes are glued to the live sex show taking place on the galley floor. The girl is still unsteady on her feet and proceeds to fall down the stairs exiting the bus. She’s knocked herself out again and has some pretty bad scrapes. When Dr. Freeman is patching her up, he also notes the grayish color of her skin. This could be an indication of alcohol poisoning. Since the group does not want to disturb Mr. Carney to access the medical suite, Ken carries the unconscious girl to the Arena’s medical area to have her stomach pumped. It’s like a scene right out of Frankenstein.
Rose’s strange encounters aren’t over yet. After having calmed down the girl and sent her way, Rose returns to the motor coach to stand guard outside. She is confronted by Mingo from Zpieler –X-. With her sheltered upbringing, she is quite unprepared for the face to face encounter. I’d say that she was a little taken aback, if not frightened. She only half hears that he’s asking to borrow 3 bottles of champagne from Carney’s fridge. They had run out and it’s not unusual for the bands to share back and forth. When she doesn’t move to get them, he happily announces that he will pop in and get them, since he knows where the fridge is. Just as Rose is contemplating violence to prevent the 6 foot tall canid (dressed only in a loin cloth) from entering the motor coach, Cleo shows up to diffuse the situation. She retrieves the champagne and sends Mingo off with a smile and a wave. Mingo for his part invites them, to stop by Zpieler –X-‘s ‘den’.
The evening…err morning winds down. The two girls have finished their show and leave the motor coach arm in arm. Takashi’s friend departs with one last kiss and a wink. Jerry (Carney’s steward) is busily cleaning the front half of the trailer (with a healthy dose of nano-cleaners). The group take shifts resting (using the sleep inducers).
Kate arrives about 10 am to coax the girls out of Carney’s bedroom. She rouses him about a half hour later, with his morning vitamin shot. After a long shower and a change of clothes, Carney is ready to do a little more sight-seeing. Takashi had located an ice rink (on his second search), so the group takes Carney there. Ken and Dr. Freeman get out on the ice with Carney. Dr. Freeman, at Carney’s behest, goes in search of a hockey stick. With his non-existent social skills the good doctor offends the manager of the rink, who takes him out back and gives him a stick…He hits him with a broom from the janitors closet.
(GM Note: The manager is one of those individuals who has a little power and lords it over others. Add to that Dr. Freeman’s botch on persuasion/fast talk and you have the little altercation that ensued. The guy that plays Dr. Freeman handled it perfectly.)
With Dr. Freeman’s skin weave, the stick can’t do enough damage to hurt him. He gives the manager a look of disdain, shakes his head and walks back to the rink. Dr. Freeman is later thrown out by the manager, He is horsing around on the ice with Ken (rather than watching Carney). Good thing there is back up.
If they had been watching, they would have been able to intercept the woman who is talking to Carney by the railing. Ken recognizes her as one of the group that disengaged themselves from the crowd at the Rainbow Nights. Cleo is able to catch some of the conversation, which is in Chinese. The woman is Lynn’s personal body guard. She is relaying a message from Lynn’s father to Carney. After the brief exchange, she bows and leaves.
(GM Note: Good thing Cleo had slotted a Chinese +3 chip into her chipware socket in anticipation of that evening’s guests.)
After the rink, Cleo invites everyone back to her place from lunch. Carney gets to see how the other half (of the group) lives. After a sumptuous meal, the group takes a break to watch some hockey on Cleo large video board. Carney nods off and the group lets him sleep. After a while he seems to be having a bad dream and wakes with a start. He gets to his feet unsteadily and heads for the bathroom. There are sounds of someone being violently ill coming from the bathroom. Cleo knocks on the door to see how he is doing. Carney says he’s fine, but she can tell from his voice that he is not.
The group heads back to the McCartney Center for the Saturday performance. Cleo has Takashi catch a flight to Vegas (the tours next destination) to make sure everything is prepared for Carney’s arrival. At the end of the concert, Anna, Lynn and Mahayla come back stage and join Carney in a limo ride back to the Hotel. The group is formally introduced to Anna and Lynn’s bodyguards. Mahayla does not have a bodyguard. It is clear even on the ride over that Anna is trying to make a play for Carney. The other girls seem happy to let her. Carney is actually on his best behavior and politely ignores Anna’s advances, which infuriates her all the more.
(GM Note: Anna, Lynn and Mahayla are college friends. Anna is also quite competitive. Due to her illusions of being Russian aristocracy, she expected Carney to be receptive and have her way with her. Of course the way that she described it to her friends is that he would be throwing himself at her and she might have to decline his offer. After her ‘performance’ at the Rainbow Nights, Carney had no interest in her. He detests people who use their power or celebrity status as a weapon or treat others as underlings (like she had done to Rose). Yes, it may sound a bit hypocritical, given how Carney treats his security staff (at least those that work for DMS), but you can explain that to him.)
Mahayla stays behind and goes dancing with Carney and the group. Her boyfriend meets up with them later. While at the club, Carney gets a call on his phone. He excuses himself to take it in private. When he is at some distance from the party, he pulls out the magic marker like object and activates it. Rose, who is watching him surreptitiously, notes that the device is blocking the locater that they had secreted into his clothing. After a terse conversation, Carney returns to the group. He is trying hard to hide his anger.
Rather than returning to the hotel as originally planned, Carney calls Kate and tells her he’s going back to the McCartney Center and will roll out with the caravan in the morning. Jerry will be by to make sure everything gets packed. He also asks her to have Nate meet him at his motor coach. The entire ride back, Carney just stares out the window silently. When they arrive at the motor coach, he takes Nate back to his room and closes the door. There’s a lot of yelling and shouting (by Carney), while Nate seems to be apologetic about not being able to obtain something for Carney. Nate departs looking shaken. Carney does not come out of the bedroom.
The caravan roles out the next morning headed for Vegas. Except for a slight delay due to a dust storm, the caravan arrives without incident. Cleo checks in with Takashi after their arrival to make sure everything is all set. He goes on about how he has been online checking fun things to do in the city. He found a zoo and hockey rinks. He is nearly gushing with how perfect everything is falling into place, till she asks him about security arrangements. What with all of the searches for fun things to do in Vegas, the reason he had been sent had completely slipped his mind.
If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself, so Cleo goes in search of Ellis, who is looking for her. He has some questions about a certain mobster (Jesus) that Dr. Freeman knows (as he might pose a security risk). Dr. Freeman is not forthcoming with the information.
(GM Note: Mainly it’s because he can’t remember. The player has a bad memory, but refuses to right anything down. Knowing this, he’s made it a character trait of the good doctor. He’d rather be seen as a prick for not giving up the information, then look like a fool for not being able to remember.)
With Dr. Freeman being uncooperative, Ellis is forced to have his people investigate. This opens up a whole can of worms, which may include Dr. Freeman’s involvement in some illegal activities.
GM Note: In a previous campaign, Dr. Freeman had worked at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His department handled overflow work from the county coroner’s office and CSI department. The head of his department was in bed with the Italian mob (who ran the city at the time). He would falsify or invalidate certain tests, in order to help cover up mob hits. Since he knew that Dr. Freeman had such a bad memory, he would generally forge his name on the reports. That way if anything came back on the department, it would look like the doctor rather than he, was involved.
After the mob shake up in Las Vegas, the police department began cleaning house of dirty cops and also cleaning up CSI and the coroner’s office. Unfortunately, the mob was also cleaning house. Dr. Freeman was potentially the only person still alive who might have been involved or known what was going on.)
While checking out their rooms Dr. Freeman’s phone rings. He has a brief conversation with the party at the other and then hangs up. When asked who that was, he tells the party it was the Las Vegas DA asking if he wouldn’t mind coming in and answering some question about his previous position at UNLV. Dr. Freeman seems completely unworried about the conversation. Cleo, on the other hand, declares that they have to get him out of the city.
Cleo had been a part of the other campaign, under a different identity and face. Dr. Freeman isn’t even aware that they are the same person. Cleo doesn’t know what the DA wants to ask him, but with the company he keeps, whatever it is can’t be good.
Cleo rushes Dr. Freeman to the corporate skyport in North Las Vegas and pays extra to have him flown out of town immediately. She’s sending him ahead to Oakland to check on security arrangements for the concert’s next stop. As the party is leaving the sky port, two police cars are pulling up.
Elsewhere in Vegas, Jesus is contacted by one of his moles in the department. He lets him know that someone has been checking into him and his relationship to Dr. Freeman…
Episode 20: ONCE THAT YOU’VE DECIDED ON A KILLING…
Monday March 28 2025: Hiraki Edono assassinated in Washington D.C. Iron Sights gang member indicted and executed before he can testify. A chaotic two-month gang war erupts between Arasaka and their former gangster allies.
(GM Note: This event comes from the Fourth Corporate War timeline. While it does not directly affect the characters (at the moment), it will have repercussions that may directly or indirectly affect the party down the road.)
Carney stayed in Sunday night, so by Monday morning, he is bright eyed, bushy tailed and raring to get out into the city. He expresses an interest in going to the zoo, saying that he wants to “visit the inmates”. While there, he waxes poetic about understanding the animals’ plight, since he himself feels like a caged animal. The party humors his wistful mood, but decide to take him someplace that might put him into better spirits. They take him go-kart racing…such a tough job.
(GM Note: There’s a humorous moment at the go-kart track where Rose brings Carney a hot chocolate to drink. It’s the only drink that she knows he likes and she’s trying to not make a mistake like the last time, when she offered him coffee. The only problem with this is that the temperature outside is 98° F (36.6° C). He takes it graciously, so as not to hurt her feelings, and even takes a couple of sips.)
On the way back to Mandalay Bay for sound check, Carney asks to make a stop. The group pulls up in front of a Eurobank branch. Cleo insists that Rose and she accompany him inside. Carney is reluctant at first, but quickly agrees. After a brief conversation at the window, Carney is escorted over to a desk. After a short conversation and 10 minute wait, the bank representative has him sign a form and hands him 3 cred chips.
Instead of going directly to sound check, Carney heads for his motor coach. Nate is waiting inside. He and Carney go back to the bedroom and close the door. After a brief conversation, Nate leaves, looking nervous. Carney heads off to sound check. The party notices that he changed his clothes while back in the bedroom. Their trackers are in the clothes Carney left on his bed.
The party sweats the possibility, that Carney may be planning an escape. Rose heads over to the stage to keep an eye on him. While she is waiting, she is approached by Dale Zucker (Carney’s Agent). She asks Rose to have him pop by once he finishes with sound check. Rose indicates that she will relay the message, but can’t guarantee that Mr. Carney will feel like talking. Unsatisfied with Rose’s response, Dale send her assistant (Gene Paulson) to make sure that Carney comes to see her. Gene catches Carney on stage, before Rose has a chance to intercept him.
Carney goes off to talk with Dale. Meanwhile, Ellis approaches Cleo to ask her if Carney made any large purchases while they were out. Ellis informs her of Carney’s withdrawal of 200,000 eb. She tells Ellis that they had stopped at a Eurobank branch, but that Carney did not have a chance to spend any of the money, because they returned for sound check soon after. Cleo is as helpful as she can be, but Ellis seems unsatisfied with her answers.
The meeting with Dale has completely changed Carney’s mood. He is usually good about hiding his emotions, but Rose notices that he is barely controlling his anger. The show is being moved from Oakland, due to riots in the city. The dates have been added to the stop in Sacramento. Carney seems unhappy with the situation and almost loses it, when Rose innocently asks him why he can’t just play Oakland, “It’s your show isn’t it”. He retreats to his bedroom, with a bottle of booze, in order to ‘improve his mood’ for the show… “we have to give the people what they want.”
Whether the booze, the excitement of the crowd or a combination of the two, Carney comes off stage in a much better mood. He heads back to the motor coach to change. Instead of going out tonight he plans to head over to ‘The Den’ (the hospitality suite for Zpieler -X-). Carney changes into stretchy shorts and a loose T-shirt (leisure wear) and recommends that the group might want to put on something comfortable as well. Zpieler –X- is hosting a ‘cuddle party’. The lights in ‘The Den’ are subdued with colored accents playing across the walls. Music is playing in the background that has a deep base rhythm, which pulses like a heartbeat.
The floor is covered in large cushions, on which 25-30 people are relaxing. There is a mixture of exotics and ‘normal’ humans. Carney and the party are welcomed in by Mingo (who is again, just in a loin cloth). He thanks Carney for the loan of the champagne from the other night and offers him a swig of some local moonshine (180 proof) that they were able to acquire. Carney takes a sip, but most of the others decline. Cleo sips, realizing how strong it is.
Takashi, who is becoming more adventurous, takes the offered bottle without hesitation. Due to his upbringing, Takashi hasn’t had a lot of experience with much of anything. This includes drinking. He takes a big gulp from the bottle and although he manages not to puke, his eyes water and he has a coughing fit (accompanied by a small backwash of stomach acid that’s almost like puke). Mingo laughs approvingly and hits him on the back in an attempt to help his coughing fit. He tells Takashi it will put hair on his chest and then, gesturing to his fur covered body, says “Look what it’s done for me”.
Mingo explains to the group what the cuddle party is about. Modern society (cyberpunk society) alienates and isolates the individual. The cuddle party is a way for individuals to forge a connection with other human beings; by experiencing (non-sexual) physical intimacy. Around the room are pairs or small groups of individuals who are cuddling, spooning, or giving each other massages. Rose is completely creeped out. Even Cleo is a bit disturbed by the whole scene. Takashi is up for the experience and heads off to find a cuddle buddy.
Carney is picking his way around the occupied cushions, when he is almost knocked off his feet by a flying ball of white fur that jumps into his arms. Rose at first begins to react as if it is an attack, but it becomes clear that it is just an exuberant Purrlette, who is overjoyed to see Carney accepted her invitation. They head off to some cushions, while Rose shudders. Cleo asks if she is alright, to which she responds, “I think I just puked in my mouth” (i.e. the whole situation leaving a bad taste in her mouth).
Rose and Cleo turned down several offers to cuddle. Cleo finally gives in when she is approached by Tenga, who is coyly holding her (fox) tail in front of her, making small circles with her left foot and peaking over the bushy end of her tail (almost as if it was a fan). She asks with an innocent voice if Cleo would like to cuddle. When Cleo heads off with Tenga, Rose feels completely alone and exposed…kinda like a caged animal. She is so wigged out, she is nearly twitching.
(GM Note: At least it stopped people from asking her if she wanted to cuddle.)
Rose is visually relieved after the party broke up. Her relief lasted right up until the point that Purrlette begins walking back to Carney’s motor coach with them. She is out of there before his bedroom door closed. Cleo has the unenviable task of remaining behind to keep an eye on Carney. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except for all of the caterwauling coming from the back of the motor coach. Again, thank god for sleep inducers. Takashi arrives back late the next morning, covered in fine hair. Rose refuses to speak to him until he either changes or uses a lint brush to clean up.
(GM Note: I can only imagine the visions that were going through her head of where the hair came from.)
Tuesday March 29, 2025:
Carney decides to stay in before the concert. He seems to be waiting for something. He does however want to go out after the concert, to a club he heard about called ‘The Savage Cherry’. Cleo has Takashi check the place out.
(GM Note: This is mostly for appearances, since Cleo is quite familiar with the club. It’s only two blocks from Jesus’ headquarters. When she was here as Alex, she almost took a job to extract the proprietors, “The Tombstone Daisies”…a band that had run to Las Vegas to get out of their contract with DMS. Cleo Also remembers that the contact person for the extraction was the Daisies’ agent Dale Zucker, who is also Carney’s agent. The last Cleo heard, the girls in the band had hired members of Jesus’ organization (then just a gang) to handle security. The Junction, where it is located isn’t in a combat zone, but it’s also not the safest area in Las Vegas.)
The party arrives outside of the Savage Cherry. It is a garishly painted (Day-Glo Hot Pink) two story industrial structure. The sign hanging out front is a picture of a snarling cherry. As the group works its way towards the bar, a woman disengages herself from the corner of the bar and walks purposefully towards Carney. Rose interposes herself between Carney and the woman. Trish (the woman) say’s “excuse me, you’re in my way”. Rose informs her that she is there to protect Mr. Carney. Trish addresses Carney directly, “Chris, who is this? Where’s Max?”
Rose informs her that Max is dead, which cause a look of pain to cross Carney’s face. Looking concerned Trish ignores Rose and steps by her to comfort Carney. It’s obvious that they know each other. She takes Carney back over to the corner of the bar, where he seems to be having a reunion with other members of the band (Tombstone Daisies). Although she is trying not to eves drop, Rose is close enough to hear part of the conversation. Trish asks Carney if he is still thinking about getting out. He says they should discuss it in a more private situation, once the bar closes
While Carney is having his reunion, Rose’s arm is grabbed by a booster who says, “Let’s dance”. When Rose demurs, he says, “I wasn’t askin”. Rose rephrases her rejection of his offer to dance by kicking him in the pastry bag (or whatever euphemism you want to use for the groin) with her Lotte Lenya pumps (shoe with retractable spike). The guy hits the floor like a sack of potatoes. Only one of his friends seems to notice, but he starts coming at Rose across the room.
Trish takes notice and leans over the bar; coming back up with a sawed of shotgun. The other girls behind the bar are also reaching for guns. The music which was blasting suddenly stops, leaving an echoing silence. Trish yells, “Dammit Carl, that’s it. You were warned now get out”. The booster, who had been charging, stops and begins to plead his case to Trish, who isn’t hearing any of it. On the second level, several armed security guards are now pointing their guns towards Carl. Carl and the rest of his gang collect their injured friend and quickly exit.
When asked, Trish says that it happens from time to time, but Carl knows better than to try anything (the place is under Jesus’ protection). She seems a little nervous when Carney introduces the group. Trish doesn’t blame Rose for her reaction, but thinks it best if she left. Rose decides to wait outside in the car. While outside, she notes several cars with armed men, who seem to be cruising up and down the street.
(GM Note: These are some of Jesus’ men. They were alerted to the trouble at the Savage Cherry and are patrolling the streets to make sure the boosters don’t make any trouble. Some of the members of the group were worried that they were waiting for them to leave. Who am I as game master to tell them differently.)
Once the bar closes, the group escorts Carney and the Tombstone Daisies to an establishment on the Southern Strip. Carney and the Daisies go into a back room to talk alone. While inside, the groups’ tracker goes dead.
(GM Note: Cleo told me that if the Daisies were helping Carney escape, Cleo was going to drag their asses back to DMS and collect the fee for the extraction. It is important to point out, that all these goings on had made Cleo curious about Carney’s contract and when it was up for negotiation.)
Wednesday March 30, 2025:
It is an uneventful travel day, between Las Vegas and Sacramento. Dr. Freeman who had been sent ahead to check out the security in Oakland, meets up with the group on their arrival in Sacramento.
Thursday March 31, 2025:
Cleo and Takashi spend a good amount of time digging up information about Carney’s contract. It seems that it was up for renegotiation about the same time as the car accident that killed Max and possible a young woman. No one in their right mind would have signed the contract that Carney did, unless DMS had something on them. It is a lifetime contract that gives DMS control over almost every aspect of Carney’s life, except for his personal staff and security.
(GM Note: It becomes clear under further review, that the outside contractors previously hired for Carney’s security were under qualified. Every time that they did not work out, Carney was guarded directly be DMS security giving them greater control over him.)
Friday April 1, 2025:
Carney is up early and ready to go, which is unusual for him. He tells that that he has an appointment that he has to keep. On the way to the appointment, he asks them to pull over. As the vehicle comes to a stop, Nate approaches and gets in. The group proceeds to Carney’s appointment. The location is a doctor’s office in a well to do neighborhood. Dr. Freeman recognizes the name on the door (Dr. Jacob Schramm). The doctor is in the same specialty as Dr. Freeman (neurosurgeon). Dr. Schramm’s specialty is with helping those that have an addiction to Braindance. Nate and Carney go back into the doctor’s office.
Outside, Ken spots a vehicle with two men inside. He recognizes one of the men inside as a member of DMS security. It appears that they have picked up a tail. Nate and Carney are in the doctor’s office for hours. It is getting dangerously close to show time by the time Carney comes out. Nate does not come out with him. The group rushes Carney back to the Arco Arena for the show.
Ellis stops by to speak with Cleo. He wants to know why they were at Dr. Schramm’s office. She tells him that she doesn’t know; Carney hadn’t told them anything beyond the fact that he had an appointment. Ellis seems satisfied, but as he is leaving, he turns back and asks her if she has seen Nate. She relates to Ellis how they picked up Nate on the way to the Dr. Schramm’s office. Cleo also tells him that the last time she saw him was when he went into the doctor’s office with Carney. Cleo worries that they may be in the middle of a shit storm about to come down the pipe…
Saturday April 2, 2025:
Carney is set to perform at the dedication for the opening of the Casacdia Maglev* in Sacramento. Takashi is using Cleo’s deck to scan the local NET for anything suspicious. At the very edge of his range, he comes across to anomalous remotes, which should not be there. One is a camera. The other is a range finder. Cleo dispatches Ken and Rose to check them out. Their DMS IDs gain them access to the building. The remotes are inside the County Surveyors’ offices, which are closed, because it is Saturday.
Cleo informs Ellis of what they have found. He is at first evasive, until Cleo offers to have Ken and Rose kick in the door and check it out. This makes him admit that they are part of his operation, but he does not go into details. Cleo recalls Ken and Rose, who hear a disturbance while descending the stairs and go to investigate.
They find one of the building’s security officers standing over an immobile figure in a DMS uniform. Both of them catch sight of the silencer on the security officer’s weapon as he is raising it to fire at them. Ken pulls his sword and leaps down the remaining steps to close with the assailant, who is able to get off one shot. Thankfully Ken has the face plate and cowl, as the bullet ricochets harmlessly off his armored visage. Ken counters with a slash from his katana, which lays open his opponent’s armored vest.
The stairwell is too narrow for Rose to close with the assailant from the stairs. Ken is in the way. She decides to jump over the railing and come at the assailant from below. Rose is able to hamstring him with her tessen. Ken presses his advantage over his now prone opponent. He puts katana to his throat and demands that he drop his weapon. The man complies, dropping the armalite in his left hand. He exaggerates the motion to draw their attention away from his right hand, where a small device slides out of his sleeve and into his hand. He holds it up with a button depressed telling Ken and Rose to back off and drop their weapons.
Ken reflexively swings, slicing off the man’s right arm. Thinking quickly, Rose grabs the man’s hand and is able to keep his hand clasped around whatever the object was that he was holding. Luck (and the dice) are with them, and they don’t end up becoming paste on the walls of the stairwell. A closer inspection of the man’s armored vest (where Ken slashed it) reveals that it is loaded with explosives, packed with ball bearings. Rose is able to keep the man’s finger depressed on the dead man’s switch.
They call in Cleo, who is able to disarm the device. Ken is lauded as the hero of the hour. Cleo tries to get him as much face time in front of the cameras as she can. Foiling a terrorist plot is great PR for the Killer Bees. Rose is happy to let Ken have the spotlight. She just wants to get back to the hotel to take a shower and have her suit cleaned. She’s currently covered in arterial spray. So as not to freak out the crowd outside, she turns her polychromatic suit to a deep shade of red, to hide the blood spatter. Except for some small technical difficulties, the dedication and convert go off without further incidents. Ellis fesses up to Cleo that he expected something like this might happen. The Cascadia Maglev has been a controversial project, which has suffered major set backs and delays. Some of those have come at the hands of eco-terrorists, who fear that the maglev will promote further urban development in the region. They also aren’t too happy with the ecological impact of the maglev itself will have
(*The Cascadia Maglev concept comes from the 2K20 Cyberpunk 2020 Digital Resource – see Links section. We have made some changes to so its construction fits into events happening in our cyberpunk gaming universe. When finished, it will run from Vancouver BC to Las Angeles CA. The northern leg,Phase 1 construction connected Vancouver and Seattle. Phase 2 was Seattle to Portland, OR. Phase 3 connected Portland, OR to Sacramento, CA and Los Angeles, CA to Night City. CA. Phase 4 will see the completion of the maglev with the northern leg in Sacramento connected to the southern leg in Night City.)
Carney goes on stage for one last show at the Arco Arena. Takashi notices that his deck has been messed with. All of his chips have been pulled from his deck and have been replaced with 10 unmarked chips. Luckily, he mentions it to the others before dropping into his deck. Cleo suggests that he trode in rather than linking directly.
The chips appear to be part of a complex virtual reality braindance program. If he had been linked directly to the deck, Takashi would have had a front row seat (first person) for the scenario that plays out. The scenario is the accident, from the point of view of Carney. Based on what Takashi and Cleo can decipher it looks as if the accident was either staged or recreated to make Carney believe there was another person in the car (the unidentified woman).
Cleo wants the group to play it cool. She tells Takashi that his deck was not tampered with. It was just the way he left it. They wait impatiently for Carney to exit the stage, so that they can confront him with the chips and find out what’s really going on.
There are some tense moments as Cleo lays out all of the evidence (circumstantial and concrete) that the group has come across and puts the question to Carney, “What’s going on?”
After a minute of silent contemplation, Carney decides to trust the group and lays all of his cards on the table. The rocker explains to the group how he was screwed over by DMS…
Carney’s contract was up just before the beginning of last year. The constant touring and studio session had taken a toll on his health. Max was not only his bodyguard. He was also his friend. He had recommended that Carney not resign, at least right away. Carney was also considering returning to Seattle and starting his own recording studio.
Dale (Zucker) could not risk losing another highly lucrative act (after the Tombstone Daisies had skipped out on their contract). Carney still doesn’t know if the accident was completely fabricated or if DMS used manipulated his memories of an actual accident. What he does know is that there was no woman in the car.
Part of the last year had been about tracking down evidence that DMS had fabricated the incident. Carney wanted to know that he wasn’t responsible for his friend’s death. He also wanted to know what had really happened, since his memories have been cloudy since the accident. His cloudy memories are thanks to Dr. Don, who has been administering a compound with Carney’s ‘vitamin’ shots, which inhibits the formation of memories.
Carney has been squirreling away money for about a year. The times that he has ditched his security detail were to make transfers to secret accounts. He masked the intended destination of the withdrawals by living an extravagant lifestyle, making it appear to DMS, that he was blowing large amounts of money on partying and frivolous purchases. His most recent withdrawal in Las Vegas had been larger than most of his previous withdrawal, but Nate had a line on someone who knew about the braindance program.
Since the party has the program, it looks like Nate’s contact was good. Unfortunately, someone higher up caught wind of the deal and silenced the informant. Nate had to make a run for it. The rest of the Money went to Dr. Schramm. Dr. Schramm’s worked with victims of braindance has led him to study the neurological effects that braindance has on the human brain. Carney doesn’t completely understand the science, but Dr. Schramm was able to identify telltale markers, which led him to believe Carney had been exposed to braindance or some other mind-altering substances. Blood tests to rule out other psychoactive substances revealed the compound that Dr. Don had been administering.
Carney is adamant that Dr. Don has to go. No sooner does he say it, than Rose, pipes up, “I’ll do it.” This catches Carney and most of the group by surprise. Revenge is a factor, for why Carney wants Don gone, but he is also worried that Don might see through his plan to fake his death. Carney plans to fake his death after the last concert of the tour. If he just walks away, DMS will probably pursue him, but if he is dead, they might leave him alone (or maybe even really believe he is dead). Even if they don’t buy his death, Carney plans to leave them holding the rights to his estate. They own almost everything already.
If DMS has the rights to the marketable commodity that is Chris Carney, they may just be willing to leave him alone. This will let them have their memorial tours and allow them to put out never released studio tracks or remixed compilations. Carney figures that they can probably milk it for at least another decade.
(GM Note: I like to call this the Tupac (Shakur) Effect. I think more material has been released since his death, than was ever put out when he was alive.)
Part of selling the idea is to have a sensationalized death. Carney has this planned as well. He has had a full body clone of himself grown at great expense. Nate was also in contact with a psychotic fan who thinks that he (the fan) is Chris Carney. Carney has made arrangements to have this fan gain access to his trailer, where he will be found with Carney’s mutilated ‘corpse’.
As Carney finishes laying out his plan, Rose impulsively hugs him. Taken by surprise, he at first tenses up, but then relaxes in her embrace. Rose offers the groups support to help him get free of this ‘evil’ corporation. Sounding slightly shock Cleo incredulously retorts, “For Free?”
Jokingly Carney asks, “C’mon, won’t you help me kill Chris Carney?”
Cleo Says they will keep his secret and even help him to refine the plan, but she is adamant, that it can’t happen on their watch. They begin devising a plan where Carney will fire them during the first concert in Seattle. He will them be under the security of DMS when the plan goes down.
On possible speed bump in the road is that Ellis is suspicious. He had questioned Carney about his visit to Dr. Schramm. Carney had told Ellis, that he was experiencing headaches and had consulted a specialist. Ellis is making arrangements for a DMS specialist to check out Carney. Cleo offers up the services of Dr. Freeman. Dr. Freeman is a neurosurgeon (medtech 8, specialized in neurosurgery) and is licensed to practice in NORCAL.
Using the medical suite in Carney’s motor coach and with an exceptional role (45) Dr. Freeman is able to write a flawless report, which Cleo then presents to Ellis. Ellis isn’t happy, but he accepts the diagnoses as graciously as he can.
Meanwhile, Rose has begins her stalk Dr. Don. She plays the part of the infatuated young girl, stealing glances and making excuses to be near him. Rose even goes so far as to sprain her ankle so that she can have Dr. Don take a look at it for her. When Dr. Don asks why she didn’t have Dr. Freeman check it for her, she regales him with the story of how Dr. Freeman wanted to give her a gynecological, to make sure she hadn’t been rape, when all she had gone to see him about were some bumps and bruises.
(GM Note: The incident took place in Episode 7. It’s become something of a running joke in our gaming group.)
Dr. Don laughs at the story. He gives Rose a cortisone shot for the swelling, but almost immediately, she begins to fill a little light headed and tingly all over. She makes her roll to resist drugs and quickly excuses herself, thanking Don for his help. Inside she is seething…
(GM Note: Yes, Dr. Don attempted to dose her. He is a scumbag and letch. For him, it’s just standard operating procedure. The shot contained a mixture of endorphins, ecstasy, aphrodisiacs and the compound he used on Carney to inhibit the formation of memories. Dr. Freeman still doesn’t know what the compound is or how to synthesize it, but with a blood sample from Rose it’s only a matter of time. This just gives Rose another reason to want to kill Dr. Don.)
Wednesday April 6, 2025:
Rose gets her opportunity to take out Dr. Don. The group is in Eugene, OR the day before the show. The group decides to go swimming at a nearby lake. Carney has Cubbie, his driver, take the motor coach to the lake. Most of the bands are taking the day to relax. Dr. Don comes along as well. Rose flirts with Don on the ride over. While at the lake, she heads over to the rope swing, dragging Don along by the hand.
Rose is laughing and joking (and Dr. Don is thinking this is his opportunity). Rose is about to swing out over the water, when she gives Dr. Don a mischievous looks and bets him that he won’t be able to find her…intimating that if he catches her, he can have her. She then swings out over the water and let’s go. Getting her bearings in the water, she stays submerged and waits for Dr. Don to jump in after her.
She doesn’t have to wait long. As he is going down, Rose uses her “l33t ninja skills” to grapple him underwater and drive his head into the rocky bottom of the lake. She then releases him and breaks the surface, calling out for Don. Dr. Don’s lifeless body floats to the surface. She manages a believable scream and even a couple of tears as she drags the unmoving Don into shore. Cleo consoles the ‘stricken’ Rose.
The police arrive to ask questions. It seems that Don isn’t the only person to die on the rope swing. Rose had to spend some luck, but she pulls off the hysterical young girl routine rather well. Carney, for his part, looks sadden and retreats to the solitude of a float (air mattress) out on the lake.
(GM Note: Really, he’s trying to regain his composure. He can’t get the grin off of his face.)
So ends this installment, tune in next time for Half Way Home
When Cleo Gets Screwed, She Likes it to Feel Good
As Cleo watched the events unfold, it was becoming clear that something was not right here. Going back to the ‘hood’ where she lived and worked with Jesus Menendez, now one of the top Vegas crime lords, and his allies, Los Matadors, to the visit the Savage Cherry worried her a bit. Yes, she watched them set the place up and didn’t take the DMS contract to return them. She also got to know the girls of the Tombstone Daisies. This presents a problem for Cleo as dislikes meeting people she knew before in another identity. Besides the outside chance of being recognized, it is a reminder that she has no real life to speak of, and the one she leads is a lie. This was a lot of the motivation for wanting to ‘extract’ the Tombstone Daisies back to DMS if they were going to help Carney in any action that would make the Killer Bees look bad.
During the trip to Sacramento it occurred to Cleo that the Las Vegas DA had called Dr. Freeman on his private unlisted phone just after Ellis had inquired about the good doctor’s connections with the Las Vegas Mob. More importantly, the only person outside the party, that had that number, was Ellis himself. As later events would prove, this put her on the idea that Ellis had ratted out Dr. Freeman to get rid of him. With the head of the DMS Tour security plotting against the group, she viewed the situation as getting very dangerous. Also, this act could not go unanswered.
As the evidence we had mounted, it looked more and more that no matter what was going on, the Killer Bees were going to wind up as the “patsies”. Cleo also had to face the fact that they didn’t get the job due to her negotiating skills, but rather for their lack of proven experience in the field of bodyguard work. Either Chris or Ellis had to be confronted, and, since Ellis had proven himself false (in her eyes) and Chris and the group had attained a cordial relationship, Chris was confronted.
When the truth came out, Cleo was surprised by Rose’s desire to help Carney, and her volunteering to kill Dr. Don. While this was not in her plan, the fact that the others were getting excited about the work and were coming up with ideas, allowed her to go along with Chris Carney’s plans. For Cleo, having the other group members take the initiative is one of the most important parts of her training plans for the Killer Bees. Also, if Chris was successful, Ellis would be humiliated and that would be sweet payback for turning Las Vegas DA on Doctor Freeman.
Later in Eugene, OR, Cleo was sunning herself, and watched as Rose assassinated Dr. Don. Now Cleo has organized and taken part in ‘hits’ on Mob leaders attending heavily guarded crime summits, kidnapped another Crime Lord out his own house under heavy guard, and taken part in a number of difficult but lower profile killings. Never has she seen someone kill someone on a beach and pond full of people hand to hand, and not be seen doing it. She is beginning to suspect that little Rose is much more than a simple standard Covert Operative. It was like watching an artist at work. Cleo then used her authority as Chris’s DMS security chief to insist that a DMS doctor perform the autopsy (our own Dr. Gordon Freeman), write up a report (the roll was in the 30’s), then she had the body cremated. Ellis was presented with final autopsy and police reports. No, Ellis was not happy, but there was not a lot he could do about it. Cleo was starting to feel better about the whole situation.
Episode 21: HALFWAY HOME OR: HOW THE BEST LAID PLANS OFTEN GO AWRY
Friday April 8, 2025:
The murder of Dr. Don and the subsequent autopsy and cremation went off without a hitch. It was the perfect murder…maybe too perfect. Although he had no evidence of foul play, Ellis was suspicious. It might have had something to do with how quickly Dr. Freeman stepped in to take Don’s place and the fact that Dr. Freeman was the one who had signed off on Don’s death certificate and cremation.
With no actual evidence to go on, Ellis goes on a little bit of a fishing expedition. He asks to interview Rose and all of the others that had been present on the beach at the time of the incident. Ellis says it’s a formality for purposes of an insurance investigation. He interviews Rose first. Although she is not hooked up to a lie detector, it becomes clear after the first couple of questions (which had been baseline questions…i.e. name, age, residence, etc) that she is being interrogated.
Rose opts to cry her way out of it. As the questions become more specific about the events surrounding Don’s death, she appears to become more and more agitated. Eventually she breaks down in hysterics…the memory of the event being too traumatic. With a Performance roll well into the 40’s, she pulls it off handily.
(GM Note: The player rolled three 10s. It was the performance of a lifetime. Rose was so convincing, Ellis was actually attempting to comfort her by the end of the interview.)
Once out of the interview, Rose informs Cleo about what had happened. Cleo puts an end to Ellis’ fishing expedition. To make sure everything was being done ‘legally’, she demands that the party be represented by council (lawyers), so that their rights are protected (that the group would not be held liable by DMS or the insurance company for any costs associated with Don’s death). It’s a delaying tactic, but since Ellis is operating without any official sanction, it works.
(GM Note: While Rose may have been able to beat Ellis’ interrogation, Cleo held no illusions that Dr. Freeman would fare as well With the request for legal representation, Ellis was pretty much dead in the water. He couldn’t go to DMS’ legal department with just suspicions. Even if the ruse hadn’t worked, the group was only going to be employed by DMS for a couple more days. It would generally take longer than that to arrange a deposition.)
That evening, chaos erupts backstage, during the show. Rose had notices about a dozen Chris Carney posers milling about. She approaches them and demands to see their backstage passes. After a couple of obvious lies and false excuses, Rose calls for DMS security. Panicked, the posers scatter. Rose informs the rest of the group about is going on. DMS is rounding up the posers, but one has made it onto Carney’s motor coach. He is quickly subdued by Cleo, who hands him over to DMS security.
Carney is all smiles when he hears about the incident. Cubbie returns to the motor coach laughing. He had ‘accidentally’ left an access door ajar. The sarcastic manner in which he apologizes makes the group believe it was intentional. Carney confesses that he put Cubbie up to it. It was a dry run, to make sure that his ‘killer’ would be able to slip back stage. He views it as an added bonus, that it would also aggravate Ellis.
(GM Note: It didn’t seem to occur to Carney, that such a ‘dry run’ might make Ellis reconfigure his security or add additional security to prevent a reoccurrence of such a breach. Hey, he’s new to the whole clandestine operations business. None of the party members seemed to pick up on it either or if they did, they didn’t voice their opinion.)
Carney is raring to go out. He wants to visit a friend who owns a bar in Portland. So, he drags the party out to meet his friend Claude at Piper’s Pit. The bar has seen better days, as has the neighborhood. It’s a bit seedy as are some of the patrons. The main room is dominated by what, at one time, may have been a sunken dance floor in the middle of the room. It has been converted into a fighting ring. The group arrives in time for the Friday Night Fights.
(GM Note: The Piper’s Pit hosts amateur Mixed Martial Arts bouts. On Friday nights, it’s pretty much a free for all. Anyone who pays the entry fee of 10 euro can step into the ring. The winner wins the purse (the combined entry fees). These are single elimination bouts, with the winner advancing to the next round.
The motivation behind Piper’s Pit was an attempt to work a new character into the group. One of our players was returning from a long absence and with his other character, Tyree Jones, currently busy working for the CIA (see Episode 13), he need to get in a new character. It’s always difficult to try and bring in a new character, especially in the middle of the mission. This was his chance to wow them (the group) with his fighting ability. Unfortunately, it did not go as planned (see below).)
Carney and Claude are approached by a hulking brute (BOD 10) while they are catching up on old times. Cleo moves in behind the man, in case there is any trouble, but Claude seems to know him. Claude addresses him as Jimmy and asks what he wants. Jimmy wants to enter the Friday Night Fights, but is short on cash…actually he’s broke. He’s trying to convince Claude to spot him the 10 euro and he’ll split the winnings with him. Claude seems unwilling to spot him the money.
(GM Note: Jimmy is a bit down on his luck. The player spent all of his money in character creation, so he didn’t leave himself with enough money to eat or pay for decent housing. He’s been living on the streets and it shows.)
After being turned down by Claude, Jimmy tries his luck with Carney. He attempts to trade on the fact that he knew Max (Carney’s former body guard) to get Carney to spot his entry fee. Carney is either won over by Jimmy’s ploy or is just in a generous mood, what with his planned death only being a couple of days away. He gives Jimmy the 10 euro.
There are 20 contenders, so the purse is 200 euro. With 20 competitors, Jimmy will be facing at most 5 fights. 20 contenders means 10 first round bouts, which leaves 10 winners that go onto the second round. Five second round bouts leave five fighters to go onto the third round. A drawing determines which fighter gets a bye in the third round. There is a second drawing for a bye among the remaining three fighters in the fourth round. The two that are left then face off in the final fight.
Jimmy’s first round is against a dock worker, who is just as massive as he is. Claude announces the dock worker as Mike…“The Hammer”…Spellane. A roar from the crowd reveals that Mike is either a crowd favorite or has a lot of friends in the audience. With a smile, Claude announces Jimmy as Jimmy…“The Snorkel”…MacDonald. Laughter erupts from the crowd.
During the fight Jimmy keeps throwing single strikes at the Hammer, which land with a meaty thud to the chest, but seem to have little overall impact. Jimmy is obviously quicker than the Hammer, but isn’t throwing any combinations. He also doesn’t seem to be taking Mike’s attempts to grab him seriously. This comes back to hurt him as Mike, having picked up on his rhythm successfully grabs his arm after another punch. Now grappled, the Hammer easily picks Jimmy up over his head and slams him down on the floor.
Jimmy has his bell rung, but is able to escape as Mike picks him up for another hammering into the floor. The fight keeps going and Jimmy is eventually able to whittle the Hammer down with continued punches. He is victorious, but injured, which will cost him in later rounds. Cleo who has been watching isn’t too impressed by what she sees.
Between bouts, Cleo questions Jimmy about his skill, since he doesn’t seem to be a fighter. In a roundabout way, he tells her that his specialty is more along the lines of stealth and covert operations. He’s hit a hard patch of luck, because he was brought in for questioning…although no charges stuck.
(GM Note: Part of the problem of having a natural BOD 10, is that even if they don’t see your face, your silhouette is pretty much unmistakable. It brings up a very short list of suspects. If you’re going to kill everyone who sees you, it may not be a problem, but if you leave witnesses…)
Cleo also asks about Jimmy’s ring moniker, The Snorkel. Jimmy tells her he has no idea. Claude came up with it. Behind his back, Claude is making the international sign for oral gratification. Cleo manages to keep her composure and not laugh. Her opinion of him is however not that high. It doesn’t get any better after he refuses a drink she sends over.
(GM Note: Jimmy doesn’t drink alcohol. Ok, I can understand that. But to flat out refuse a drink from a cute girl…what are you thinking? Yeah, I know it’s a role playing game and all, but some of this stuff carries over into real life…like when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say “YES”!)
Jimmy is determined to win the 200 euros, so he continues to fight on even though he is severely injured (in critical). His injuries finally get the best of him in the final round and he is forced to concede. Carney congratulates him on making it to the final round. Since he lost, Carney wonders aloud how he is going to repay the 10 euro. Even though badly injured, Jimmy quips that he never promised to repay the 10 euros. He offered to split the winning, but since he didn’t win, there’s nothing to split.
(GM Note: Ah yes, always the charmer.)
Carney says his goodbyes to Claude and the group prepares to leave. Jimmy registers the group leaving, but doesn’t take any action, till Claude (the Game Master) smacks him on the head and tells him he’s missing a golden opportunity. Claude tells Jimmy he should have asked Carney for a job. Jimmy chased after the group, calling out to Carney, who stops and turns to look at him expectantly. Weaving from side to side, barely standing on his feet due to his injuries, Jimmy doesn’t waste time on formalities. He just bluntly asks Carney for a job. Carney makes a show of contemplating the request, slowly stroking his scruff of a beard. He then grins broadly and says, “Sure…why not.” With the extent of his injuries, Jimmy has to be helped (nearly carried) back to the hotel by the group. Dr. Freeman fixes him up the best he can, but what he needs is bed rest and maybe a couple of speed heals.
(GM Note: Unfortunately the player had missed several of the opportunities I had been trying to give him to ask Carney for a job. Carney bringing up the 10 euros was my last subtle attempt. I generally try to avoid contrived methods of putting a group together, especially where the rest of the group had already jelled. Since he had been away from the game for a while, I took mercy on the player and pointed him in the right direction. Claude had talked to Carney about hiring Jimmy, to get him out of his hair. Claude doesn’t think the Jimmy is a bad guy, he’s just his own worst enemy. Carney had his own reasons for hiring him. He intended to use Jimmy as another annoyance for Ellis. The background checks should keep Ellis or his people busy or at least distracted. With his impending ‘death’ only two days away, the more distractions the better.)
Saturday April 9, 2025:
Carney withdraws a large sum of money from his accounts and hits the mall with the party. He is in a generous mood and pays for everything. Rose asks for something to remember him by. She has her eye on a guitar, which Carney buys and then signs for her. Since Jimmy is stuck in bed, Ken who is about the same size, gets to play dress up dummy. If Jimmy is going to work for him, Carney wants him looking his best. Ken is a bit peeved, but settles down when Carney pays for his Muscle and Bone Lace.
Carney is happy and relaxed. It shows in his music. That night, he puts on one of the best performances of his career. Afterwards, the party goes dancing. Ken decides to wait outside. He is the first to notice the now ever present DMS tail. Two DMS agents are sitting in a car watching the entrance to the club. The rest of the group is enjoying themselves inside.
As the evening progresses, Rose picks up on a Chris Carney poser, who is watching Carney like a hawk. She notifies Cleo who scans him and notices that he is armed (with a blade). Rose makes Carney aware of his admirer. Carney’s smile disappears when he turns to look at the poser. Carney blurts out, “It’s Him”.
Knowing that he has been made, the ‘Carney Clone’ makes for the exit. Once outside, he looks around. He begins to walk down the street away from the club and the unexpectedly bolts for an alley.
The DMS agents take off in pursuit, with Ken following close behind. One of the agent’s exits the vehicle and begins to follow the Carney poser down the alley. The second heads around to cut off the other end of the alley. Ken makes Cleo aware of what is going on. She tells Ken that the Carney poser has to get away. He’s Kevin James Keith, the psychotic poser who is supposed to ‘kill’ Carney in two days.
Taking in the news, Ken closes with the DMS agent, shotguns blazing. The agent is wearing armored clothing, so the shotgun blasts do little damage. They do however force the agent to break off pursuit and seek cover behind a dumpster. This give Ken the chance to close and slice him up with his sword. The agent goes down in short order, but has the presence of mind to break his trauma team card. Ken retrieves the agent’s ear piece and takes off in pursuit of Keith, who has almost made it to the other end of the alley.
A set of headlights fill the end of the alley. Ken almost fires, but holds back at the last minute. He realizes that the headlight configuration is the wrong shape. With his enhance vision, he can also tell that there are two occupants in the car. This is not the DMS vehicle. This is confirmed by the second agent’s voice in the ear piece, indicating that he is making the turn at the corner. Keith squeezes past the vehicle at the mouth of the alley and dashes across traffic towards the park beyond. Seeing Ken (all skull faced and toting shotguns), the driver throws the car in reverse and then screeches away leaving a large patch of rubber.
Through the ear piece, Ken hears that the second agent has seen Keith making for the park. Instead of following Keith, Ken makes for the car and the second agent…dodging through traffic as he crosses the busy street. The agent is pulling a rifle off of the back seat. He is able to get off a shot at Keith before Ken can close and dispatch him with his katana. With the second agent down, Ken sets off after Keith. He finds him not far away, with a tranquilizer dart sticking in his leg. Keith is glassy eyed, but still conscious. Ken waits till he loses consciousness and then carries him away from the scene.
Sunday April 10, 2025:
Ken is having mixed feelings about the situation. He wonders if killing the DMS agents was the right thing to do. Cleo assures him that he made the right decision. Carney is still looking worried. Keith wasn’t supposed to be in Portland. After what happened, he’s afraid that he might not show in Seattle. To calm him down, the group starts coming up with alternate plans to ‘kill’ Carney.
(GM Note: Kevin James Keith wasn’t supposed to be in Portland, but when he hadn’t heard from Nate in a couple of days, he began to get antsy. Nate had been the one who was in contact with Keith. Keith actually believes that he is Chris Carney. In his mind he has come up with a huge conspiracy theory, where DMS replaced him with the Carney everyone sees on stage. They also stole his ability to play music. He thinks DMS doctors grafted his hands onto the “Carney Impersonator”. He plans to cut off Carney’s hands and have them grafted back onto himself.
Nate had gained his trust by telling Keith he believed he was the real Carney. He claimed to be an insider who would help him regain his identity. When Nate stopped communicating, in his delusion, Keith thought that the DMS conspiracy must have silenced him. Yes, Nate is running for his life, because of a DMS conspiracy. It’s just not the conspiracy that Keith thinks it is. Don’t you love irony?)
Cleo offers up Plan B, where either she or Rose would pose as a crazed fan who killed him in the throes of passion and then escaped. Carney is unsure, so Cleo puts it to him directly, “Do you think, you could stop Rose or me from trying to kill you?”
His answer comes quickly, as if it is something he had already considered, “No. Why do you think I haven’t hit on either of you?” It lightens the mood. In the end its decided that Rose will be Plan B.
About that time, the story breaks on the news that one of the guards from last night survived long enough to finger Kevin James Keith as his attacker, with the help of another unknown assailant. Ken is adamant that there is no way that either guard could have survived long enough for aid to arrive. Cleo believes him and puts it down as the work of DMS spin doctors. With Keith’s face all over the news, it might be impossible for him to get close enough to the event to ‘kill’ Carney. It looks like it’s going to have to be Plan B. Rose still wants to check out Keith’s home once they arrive in Seattle.
Rose scopes out Keith’s home. It’s being watched. She doesn’t get close enough to find out by who, but it’s a good guess that it’s either DMS or the police. While Rose is gone, Cleo goes with Carney to see his father. The two have a touching reunion and make plans to go fishing after the tour is over. Carney is able to keep it together, but there are tears in his eyes as he’s walking away. Cleo asks him if he’s sure about going through with his plan. He says yes. Carney is sure that if he had told his father what had happened he’d agree with him. Carney knows there’s no going back. He just wanted to say goodbye to his father. Cleo gives Carney a numbered box on a BBS in LA. It’s a drop box where he can get in touch with the group after he goes underground.
They go over the plans for the group’s exit. Carney has an appearance at a local radio station run by DMS. Rose will show up with Archie (her boyfriend) in tow. The fight will be over Carney’s unwanted advance towards Rose. This will give Carney a reason to fire the group. It will also provide a venue that is very public; one which DMS can’t sweep under the rug. This will lessen the chance of DMS being able to use the as scape goats for Carney’s ‘death’.
Monday April 11, 2025:
Rose shows up with Archie at the radio station. She brought him on the pretense that she was going to introduce him to Chris Carney. Rose heads into the green room, where Carney is waiting before going on. Assuming that the room is either bugged or wired for sound by DMS, Rose and Carney quietly make their goodbyes, hug and then assume their roles. Rose is once again in rare form (the SOB…um player, rolled high on his Performance skill) and Carney keeps right up with her. Archie, not knowing what is going on is getting angry. The fight escalates to the point that Carney lets loose with the atom bomb of insults. He calls Rose the “C’ word. She responds by slapping him across the face.
GM Note: It was kinda funny. The player and I were really getting into it. Before Rose slapped Carney, she mouthed “I’m sorry.” Even though she didn’t mean the slap, she still did real damage.)
After she slaps Carney, Rose retreats from the green room, with Carney close behind. Carney has an angry red palm print visible on his cheek, from where Rose slapped him. Archie, who is usually very reserved, is enraged and makes for Carney. Rose intercepts him and convinces him to just get her out of there. After they leave Cleo puts on a show of trying to calm things down. Carney enraged, fires them on the spot. Cleo informs Carney that only Ellis can fire them. Carney demands a phone and puts in a call to Ellis.
(GM Note: Most of what transpired has gone out live over the air, till the stations management finally pulled the plug on the broadcast. This hadn’t been the way that Ellis had expected to get rid of the group, but he isn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Their bags and equipment are waiting for them at the bell hop station when they return to the hotel. Sitting with the bags is Jimmy. Ellis took the opportunity to fire him as well. When the group arrives, Jimmy is still in shock. He can’t figure out what he did to get fired on his third day of work…especially since for most of that time he was bed ridden.)
The group checks into an upscale hotel to wait for their flights, which are not set to leave for a couple of days. This gives Rose time to sit Archie down and tell him what really happened with Carney. Archie feels that he has been used again, but he also feels bad for Carney, so he take it pretty well.
(GM Note: Rose brought Archie up to speed on the QT. She wasn’t sure what Cleo’s reaction would be to her telling him, so she swore him to secrecy. Rose felt bad about keeping secrets from him.)
Cleo tells Archie to invite over the rest of the group (of sailors) that the players had partied with back in Night City. The players settle in for some much need relaxation. They are also waiting for Carney’s call to apologize and invite them to his last concert. The apology is to show that Carney had every intention of finishing his tour. It also gives the group an alibi. Disgruntled former employees make for great suspects in a murder investigation.
(GM Note: Although Cleo still isn’t happy about having Jimmy around, she felt he knew too much to leave him behind. She has contemplated more than once, putting him out of her misery. Yep, you read that right. She’s pretty much looking for an excuse to put a bullet in his head. I leave it up to Jimmy to redeem himself.)
Tuesday April 12, 2025:
While Carney is calling to deliver his ‘mea culpa’ to the group, a drama is playing out across town. Kevin James Keith’s house is surrounded by police. It looks like he has been gunned down in the authority’s attempt to apprehend him. Carney’s call is as much about apologizing, as it is about initiating Plan B.
Archie and the rest of the sailors arrive. They are a little disappointed that Bea isn’t there, but soon get down to some hard partying. Rose is at the party to establish her alibi. She then slips away from the party with Cleo put on her disguise. Archie is aware of what’s going on and is willing to cover for her. He’s in it up to his neck now.
A backstage pass provided by Carney (by way of Jerry) lets Kandi Lee (Rose) slip into the backstage area. When Carney comes off stage, Kandi Lee, the slutty groupie, attaches herself to Carney’s hip. They meander towards his motor coach, smooching and taking swigs from a champagne bottle. On the, Carney is approached by a man asking for an autograph. With another stellar roll, Rose sees through the man’s disguise and recognizes that he’s Kevin James Keith. She snuggles into Carney as if to nibble his ear and alerts him of the man’s identity.
Carney begs off, telling the man to stick around and he’ll sign it for him later. He makes the excuse (indicating Kandi Lee) that his hands full at the moment. Carney and Rose continue towards the motor coach. In a crazed voice, Keith screams, “don’t you walk away from me.”
In a flash, a knife is in his hand and he is lunging at Carney. Rose feigns a scream of terror. She pulls Carney out of the path of the blade, by knocking him to the ground. The blade slices through the air where they would have been standing.
(GM Note: To those watching, it appeared that Rose was attempting to flee, her feet became tangled with Carney’s and they both fell to the ground. I’m not sure if this falls under “l33t ninja skills”, but it’s good to see the player was mindful of preserving “her” disguise even under these extreme circumstances.)
Although her action has saved them for the moment, it has left them both prone on the ground, open to further attacks. All they can do now is hope that DMS security comes to their rescue. Rose’s hopes are rewarded with the sounds of discharging tasers, but they do not seem to be having any effect on Keith. He once again lunges for Carney. Rose is afraid of performing any moves that might give her away (either as herself or as a ‘solo’). She instead opts to smack Keith with the champagne bottle. This causes Keith to break off his attack on Carney and instead take a slash at her.
Rose isn’t able to get fully out of the way of the attack and is sliced across the cheek. Keith once again turns his attentions to Carney and is about to stab down, when a shot takes him high in the temple. Carney and Rose are sprayed in gore. Keith falls to the ground dead.
(GM Note: Kevin James Keith may have been crazy as a cyberpsycho, but he was also smart. The information that he had gathered from Nate, gave him a pretty good idea of DMS’ security capabilities. It let him know that they generally carried tasers and fired rubber bullets, so as not to harm fans. Under his disguise he was wearing insulated clothing as protection against the tasers. He had also faked his death to throw DMS and the police off his scent.
Although he had been half unconscious in the park (back in Portland), he recognized Ken as one of the ‘false Carney’s’ bodyguards. After he came to, he found out that he had been framed for the death of two DMS agents. They were also trying to convince his public that he was somebody named Kevin James Keith. This put him into a rage, and he was determined to settle the matter once and for all.
While this was going on, Carney was tearing Ellis a new asshole. He put demands on Ellis that his security would have to stay a certain distance away from him and his motor coach. This was done right after he had fired the group, so he sighted the most reason firing as the reason why he did not want security that close. His logic was a bit convoluted, but Ellis was use to illogical requests from rock stars. Carney’s request was rooted in his wish to give Keith every opportunity to slip through. After he thought Keith was dead he did not rescind the order, since he felt it would help to protect Rose. Some of the security was familiar with Rose and if they got too close, they might see through her disguise.
Keith’s attack on Carney and Rose happened in three rounds. The first round, DMS security was closing. Second round tasers fired, to no effect, third round lethal force was applied. Unfortunately with Keith dead and Rose injured, it put Carney in a bind.)
Using the confusion, Carney and Rose try to get back to his motor coach as quickly as possible. The medtechs want to check out Rose, but Carney assures them she’s fine. He says that blood is all Keith’s. He’s going to take her back to his trailer, for a nice hot shower. Once inside, he apologizes profusely, as he is bandaging the cut on her face. Jerry and Cubbie are making sure they are not disturbed. Rose helps Carney retrieve the clone from a camouflaged space abutting the compartment beneath the galley in the motor coach. They dress it in Carney’s clothes and then say their final farewells. Rose helps Carney secret himself into the camouflaged compartment. She slices up the clone and makes her escape through the skylight in the bedroom of the motor coach.
Rose took all of the bandages and bloody clothes from her disguise with her. In the ladies bathroom, she dumps the duffel bag filled with this material in the rubbish bin. After dousing it with alcohol, she sets it alight and makes her escape. It’s not a perfect success, but it will hopefully be good enough.
Rose returns to the hotel. The party is still in full swing. She relates everything that happened to Cleo. Cleo is worried that the blood evidence will link Rose to the murder. Rose assures her that there shouldn’t be any usable DNA evidence from the clothes she burned. Cleo isn’t so much worried about the clothes (although she thinks it was a mistake to leave them like that),. What she is worried about is the blood on Keith’s knife. She tells Rose that she has to get out of town as soon as possible.
Archie has leave saved up, so Cleo has him take Rose on a vacation on her dime. Canada is really beautiful this time of year. With Rose safely on her way, Cleo waits for the other shoe to drop. It’s not a long wait. Early the next morning DMS announces the death of Chris Carney. The spin doctors at DMS have been working overtime. DMS is saying that he was killed by Kevin James Keith’s lover. They are also pinning this lover as the unidentified accomplice that helped Keith murder the two DMS agents in Portland. Of course it’s a total line of BS, but DMS has corroborating witnesses and documented footage to back up their claims. In the end, DMS seems content to back up the lie that Carney is dead.
DMS is also not going to let Carney’s ‘murder’ spoil the concert. They hastily sign Carney’s old band, Soul Chamber, to play the last show. It goes off as a tribute concert for Chris Carney. DMS is pulling out all the stops. The party and their guests attend the concert. Carney made sure they had some of the best seats in the house. Cleo starts to breathe a bit easier. Rose is safe in Canada, and hopefully Carney made it away safely.
(GM Note: Cleo is also using her contact to put her hands on a nanite shot that alters an individual’s DNA pattern. It should erase the last link that could tie her to Carney’s ‘death’.)
The group stays on in Seattle for a couple of days, when low, there is a knock at the door. Bea shows up completely out of the blue. The sailors are happy to see her and after much partying, she has a private talk with Cleo. Bea says that she plans to come back to the group, but first she has to finish up some business for her mother, which is what brought her to Seattle. Actually the reason she has come to Seattle is to hire the Killer Bees…but that’s a story for another episode.
The group heads back to Night City, where Rose eventually joins them after her honeymoon in Canada. Her ‘what!’ you ask. That’s right. While in Canada, Rose and Archie got hitched. After a quick honeymoon, he returned to active duty and she went back to edgerunning in Night City. It’s up in the air as to whether this marriage will survive the challenges ahead.
Tune in next time gentle reader for Episode 22: Smack Dab In The Middle Of Nowhere.
Cleo’s Cool Down
Well, another successful mission under our belts. Perhaps not how we envisioned it, but what the hell. As the saying goes, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” In this case we went thru more plans than Lincoln did generals in the Civil War. Yes, she is extremely worried that Rose has married Archie. Archie is a great guy and all, but that connection could bring the attention of the CIA or NCIS to the group’s activities, if something were to go wrong in the future. True, Rose is the daughter of a decorated US Navy officer, but that will only count for so much if the group takes jobs that attract government interest. As Cleo’s entire life is a tale of deceit, organized crime, political terrorism, assassination, and multi-million Euro thefts, she is not looking forward to that kind of attention. She does, however, like Rose, and is glad that Rose has found the happiness that she has never had.
Ah, yes, Jimmy is a problem. Refusing my drink wasn’t so bad as was the manner in which it was done. If he had thanked me for it with the explanation that he didn’t drink alcohol, I would have gotten him a ‘virgin’ drink, and respected both his sobriety and his manners. Instead, he acted as if my gesture was some kind of insult when he spurned it. His arrogance and piss poor performance in the ring did not endear him either. In the end, he knew too much to leave behind in Seattle. His knowledge was not anything that could sink us, but it could point investigators in our direction to ask questions that we would not want to answer. Yes, Cleo has contemplated killing him, but she only kills for money, or if the mission absolutely requires it. She likes to think of herself as basically a good person, but whom are we kidding here.
Bea’s arrival and mission offer is just what Cleo was hoping for to build the Killer Bees reputation. Even though they are not responsible for Chris Carney’s ‘death’, she is afraid that it might cloud their reputation in some way for the immediate future. Picking up a freelance corporate job this quickly will disperse any shadow on their reputation if they are able to complete this new assignment. From the preliminary information she has received, the group will be going undercover to investigate a series of truck hijackings that have plagued Bea’s mother’s company (United Agriproducts, I believe), out in one of the Great Plains states.