Episode 28: A COMEDY OF ERRORS
It’s comedy, so long as it’s happening to someone else.
So, when we left our intrepid band of edgerunners, they were scattered to the wind. Jason and Jose were out in the cold (both figuratively and literally for Jason). Ken, Dr. Freeman and Cleo were weighing their options; bring Jason and Jose in out of the cold or cut their losses and tie up loose ends. Rose and Takashi remained blissfully unaware of what was going down.
Saturday May 14, 2025:
Cleo gets an early start to the morning, and thanks to her phone call, so does Bea. The call is an eye opener in more ways than one. Cleo reports the intelligence gleaned from Bill’s interrogation and the chips found in Andy’s house. There is only dead silence on the other end of the phone. Concerned or unnerved by the silence, Cleo inquires, “Is everything all right?” Bea assures her everything is fine, but the unease in her voice is palpable. This isn’t the reaction Cleo was expecting and she says as much…”I thought you’d be happy”.
Bea explodes, “Why!?” The shear shock and dismay revealed in that one word causes Cleo to believe Bea has missed what this may mean for the group.
She sees it as a silver lining; a way out for the team and for Conover…“We can pin the truck hijackings on Bill and the smugglers”. (1)Bea seems unmoved by this revelation. Rather than wasting time trying to convince her, Cleo moves on to her more daring scheme to grab everyone involved in the conspiracy and ‘choke’ the truth out of them. Bea likes this plan even less. The team has already crossed the legal line by grabbing Bill. Piling more kidnappings on top of that is just a recipe for disaster (in Bea’s eyes). She is all for turning the information they have already collected over to her mom and calling it a day. Cleo is undeterred. She tells Bea that all their evidence is circumstantial. To make any of it stick, they need corroboration. For that, they need to get their hands on someone involved in the operation.
While Bea mulls this over, Cleo forges ahead into the ‘slight hiccup’ which occurred during Bill’s extraction. Her version of the previous evenings events cast Jason and Jose in the worst light possible. (2) She further emphasizes that they could implicate Dr. Freeman and Ken, putting the entire mission at risk. Although it need not be said, Cleo finishes her summation with, “They’re in deep shit”. She then asks pointedly, “You like them, right?”
The tone of Bea’s response is firm, “Yes”. (3)
The subject is dropped and conversation drifts back to preparations for the impending extractions. Cleo asks about the status of canceling Dick Jones’ Militech card. Bea response is measured, “I’m still looking into it.” Rather than pressing the issue, Cleo continues down her shopping list of topics. She asks Bea to secure a safe house in Chamberlain and about the availability of the braindance tech and equipment. Bea indicates those both are available, but warns about the expense associated with keeping the tech on ‘retainer. (4) On the issue of money, Bea advises Cleo that the group is on the hook for all of these expenses. They’ll be deducted from team’s final payment. Cleo is fine with that, so long as there is a proper accounting for all expenses incurred. The two tentatively discuss plans for getting Jason and Jose out of town, but nothing is finalized, by the time Cleo makes her farewells and disconnects the call. With business out of the way, Cleo heads to Artemis (spa) for a little R&R.
(GM Notes: (1) Yes, it is a great plan. The existence of the smuggling ring is part of the reason behind why the hijackings are taking place in Chamberlain. Bea had reached a similar conclusion, unfortunately Bill was no longer in their hands. Croft Associates had taken Bill after the interrogation. They turned him over to Channing & Chase for “safe keeping”. While the insurance company may be working with her mom to resolve the situation, they were not likely to give Bill back. The trucks would still be missing and Channing & Chase would still be on the hook for the pay out on the insurance policy. The information on the chips would put her mother (and Conover) in an even weaker bargaining position. It basically proves that it was an inside job. Channing & Chase could use it as a reason to not pay the claim. If it hit became public knowledge, it could also further erode public confidence in the stock.
(2)Cleo neglects to mention her part in what went down. Her intervention at the Silver Dollar gave the players a chance to save Bill from his unexpected house guests. The problem was it also left an entire bar of witnesses.
(3)Despite what Cleo or anyone else in the party might think, Bea is not stupid. She can see that Cleo is trying to put the decision for ‘retiring’ Jason and Jose on her shoulders. It’s reminiscent of the situation in Episode 10 (How We Lost Our L.A. Privileges), when Rose left her to ‘take care of’ the kids in the closet…something which still tears her up inside. She told herself it was for the good of the group, which is in part how she lives with it.
The current situation makes Bea’s blood boil. Ken and Dr. Freeman had them in their Drifter. They could have just as easily driven Jason and Jose out of town. Instead, they were dumped on the side of the road. (To Bea) It’s as if everything possible is being done, to make killing Jason and Jose the only option. Treating team members as disposable assets may be how Cleo operates. Bea believes you don’t abandon your friends. But that’s part of the problem, Cleo doesn’t view the party as friends. They are her employees. And even thought Bea is the one who ‘hired’ the group, she feels that Cleo treats her like an employee too…except when the hard decisions have to be made.
(4) Cleo initially balked at the expense for the braindance tech. Bea was quick to point out that the cost didn’t include just his skills, but his silence as well. For the moment, Joe (the technician) had only been called upon to scan two relatively willing subjects (Jason and Jose). Bea can only conclude from the direction of the conversation, that Cleo wants to use him to scan Tina, Dottie and Dick Jones. This will make Joe an accessory to kidnapping. The information contained within the scans could also be potentially dangerous or damaging for the group or Conover. This will require a much larger ‘retainer’ to maintain his silence.)
Even with global warming, May can be a chilly month in South Dakota. The days are relatively mild, as long as the sun is up, but it can get cold at night. A dilapidated trailer does little to keep out the elements, as Jason is finding out. The shivering and a nagging pain in his lower back are what awaken him. Reaching down to find the source of the pain, Jason comes up the gun he took from Bill’s house. In his sleep, he had accidentally rolled over and slept on top of it. Jason absently tucks the pistol in the front waistband of his pants as he walks towards the door of the trailer. The trailer gives an unsteady shudder.
It’s not properly supported underneath. As he walks towards the door, the front of the trailer pitches down towards the ground, landing with a dull thud. Jason stops at the door to take in the lay of the land. Everything is quiet outside. The noise of the trailer has apparently not raised any alarms. Ken and Dr. Freeman’s Drifter is back in its normal spot. Jason considers going over (to the Drifter), but decides to find Jose first. He begins his search where they parted ways the previous evening, the motel.
Unfortunately, his quest hits a little snag. Jason can’t remember Jose’s last name. (2) He wracks his brain, but try as he might, he can’t remember (1) The motel clerk is less than sympathetic, commenting snidely, “He can’t be much of a friend if you don’t know his name.” While enjoying a laugh over Jason’s obvious embarrassment, the clerk happens to glance down. His attitude changes almost immediately. At first Jason thinks that the guy is eyeing his ‘package’. It takes him a moment to remember that there is gun tucked into the front of his pants. He abruptly thanks the clerk for his time and leaves. Although every instinct is telling him to run, he calmly walks back to Conestoga Park. Once back he heads for Cleo’s trailer. Her bike isn’t out front, but he tries knocking anyway. Repeated knocks bring no answer. Jason retreats to the dilapidated trailer to hide out and await her return.
(GM Notes: (1) Ah me, what a mess. When the player couldn’t remember the other character’s full name, I had him make an INT check. Since they had known each other since childhood, I reduced the difficulty, but he still failed the roll. Of course, even worse than that, he was asking for Jose under his real name. If Jose was really hiding out, he’d be using an alias. Ironically, Jose had registered under his real name.
After noticing the gun, the clerk assumed Jason was there to shoot Jose…especially since he didn’t know his full name. No sooner had Jason left than the clerk was on the phone to the Oacoma police. Meanwhile inside his motel room, Jose is blissfully unaware of what is going on.)
Jose awakens in his comfortable if spartan motel room. After a leisurely shower, he lays down on the bed in a towel to watch television. A network affiliate out of Mitchell is running the top story. Triple Murder in Chamberlain. “The police have yet to release the names of the victims, but sources have told this reporter that the occupant of the home was not among them.”
A picture of Bill flashes on the screen. “William Denning (Bill) and other persons of interest are being sought for questioning. Stay tuned to this channel for further details in this breaking story.”
Jose decides it might be best to find of Jason…since they are most likely the ‘persons of interest’. Jose Tucks the pistol under his shirt and conceals the submachine gun in a towel. After making sure the coast is clear, he exits the room and cautiously ducks around the side of the building. Angling away from the motel and road, he begins to make his way across country towards Conestoga Park. From his vantage point above and behind the motel, Jose spots a vehicle with Oacoma Police markings parked in front of the motel office. This only spurs him to quicken his pace. He plunges through the tall grass headless of snakes or other dangerous creatures.
After her morning workout at the Artemis, Rose heads for the resort to see what the members of Croft Associates are up to. She notices Moira waving to her from the beach. Moira is a standing with a man, who she introduces to Rose as Conrad. During the introductions Moira accidentally calls Rose by her real name instead of by her cover identity, of Yoko. She is rewarded with a perturbed glare from Rose. Realizing her mistake she apologizes profusely and reintroduces her as Yoko…quickly glancing around to make sure no one had heard her slip up. Rose offers her hand in greeting. Conrad takes it but instead of shaking her hand, as she expected, he kisses it and intones, “A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet”. She blushes nearly as deeply as Moira, who is still trying to recover from her embarrassment of calling Rose by the wrong name.
Rose hides her surprise by stating the original reason for her visit. Moira grabs this opening like a life line. She tells her of their plans to enjoy a leisurely day on the river. Moira invites Rose, who would love to go, but has nothing to change into. The only thing she has with her are her workout clothes from the Artemis. Rose asks when they’re leaving, hoping to have a chance to run home and get ready. A raspy voice from behind her drowns out Moira’s response, “We’re leaving, whenever her highness gets her ass down here.” The owner of the voice joins their small circle. Conrad introduces Yoko (Rose) to Prichard.
Prichard is a man of middling height. Although not outwardly muscular, he carries himself like a trained soldier or athlete. On another, his ruddy complexion could be taken as a sign of vitality or a jolly demeanor. With his stern expression and pinched face, it gave Prichard the appearance of a man suffering from severe sunburn or about to boil over in anger. Despite the appearance, he is generally even tempered, although snarky comments seem to be his preferred mode of conversation.
Erica seems to be taking her own sweet time in coming down. Conrad offers to drive Yoko (Rose) to her house, while they wait. Moira tags along. Prichard stays behind to let Erica know where they’ve run off to. The entire trip takes fifteen minutes. They still make it back to the dock before Erica. Once out on the water, Erica has Conrad and Prichard report what they found in Sturgis. This is for Rose’s benefit. She enters the data into her eBook and then sets it aside to get down to some serious relaxing.
Rose is sunning herself, when out of the blue, Erica asks, “What the hell was that meeting last night? It was unprofessional for your employer to leave you twisting in the wind.”
Rose still hasn’t fully come to terms with her own aggravation over the previous evening. She intends her answer to measured, but it betrays some of the underlying resentment she still feels, “I’m only a paid employee.” As it leaves her lips, she knows it won’t be enough. It sounds is too sarcastic. She finds she care what these people think of her and quickly adds, “I know it looked like a setup. That’s why I offered to ride with you.”
Erica appears intrigued by her answer. With a smile, she confides to Rose, “If you hadn’t come with us we wouldn’t have gone”. She asks pointed questions about Rose’s happiness in her current situation. Although she doesn’t come out and says it, Rose thinks Erica might be working up to offering her a job.
(GM Note: Rose put on quite the convincing act as the self-absorbed corporate wife. She fooled even Erica, who prides herself on being able to see through most lies. Rose has also shown herself to be a capable operative. As far as Croft Associates can tell, she is operating out here almost completely alone. She also has shown the ability to keep her head under pressure. She’s just the kind of person that Erica wants working for her. If she can steal Rose away from her current team, it would nice bonus for this mission.)
Cleo returns to Conestoga Park by 10 am. (This is about the same time Jose is sneaking away from the motel). Once inside her trailer, she jumps into the net and calls Ken. After a tense exchange of pleasantries, Cleo gets down to the point of her call. Tina is the lynchpin to what is going on. She has slept with all of the other principles (Bill, Dottie and Dick Jones). Cleo wants Ken to grab Tina and take her to Mitchell to be braindanced. Although she puts the mission in his hands, she repeatedly asks if he thinks they can handle it. This leaves Ken feeling that Cleo is questioning his competence.
Instead of calling her on it, he allows her prattle on with the details of the mission. After Cleo hangs up, he discusses it with Dr. Freeman, who volunteers to pose as a client. He’ll keep her distracted by fucking her, while Ken comes smashing in through the window. After a good laugh, they sit back to consider if it would actually work.
(GM Note: As game master, I was having trouble deciding if Dr. Freeman’s extraction plan was just the player being sarcastic or a serious plan. Either way, it became the plan that they went with…but more on that later. Cleo’s hands off leadership style was not instilling confidence in the group. Her nagging of Ken only caused further dissatisfaction.)
The telltale crunching of gravel announces the arrival of vehicle to Conestoga Park. Jason tries to lie very still. By the sound of the vehicle and the crunching, he knows the vehicle is not a motorcycle. His worst fears are realized when he hears someone calling out, “Hey Digby! (Oacoma police officer) What’s up? Jason’s mind races. He tries to think if anyone saw him entering the trailer. Everything inside him is telling him to run. The adrenalin builds up in his system to the point that he is almost vibrating on the floor of the trailer. An eternity seems to pass, before he once again hears the crunching of gravel. As the sound recedes, he lets out the breath he had unconsciously been holding. Just in case the officer comes back, he decides to not move for the rest of the day.
(GM Note: Officer Digby had responded to the call from the motel. After taking the clerk’s description of both the man with the gun (Jason) and the occupant of the room (Jose) and Jose’s name from the motel register he had walked over to the room to speak with Jose. Digby was interested why someone with a gun would be looking for him. When there was no answer, Digby had the clerk open the door. Someone with a gun is looking for you and then there is no response to repeated knocks at your door. Ain’t probable cause a bitch?)
Jose was already gone by this time, but it does leave a suspicious situation. It is also important to point out that Digby has met Jason (in a previous episode). It was at the campfire in Conestoga Park, which is Digby’s next stop. He asks around if anyone has seen Jason or Jose. No one owns up to seeing either of them, even though several residents know Jason is hiding out in one of the abandoned trailers. So why the lie? They all know Digby and most of them even like him, but he’s still a cop. You don’t rat on your own…or in this case someone who dates one of your own (Cleo).)
While Jason tries to get his heart under control, Jose continues his overland trek to Conestoga Park. His first indication that he has been spotted is a young voice to his left asking, “What are you doing with that?”
It’s three of the kids from the trailer park. Unable to come up with a story on the spur of the moment, he decides to bribe the kids. He gives each 25 euros to keep their mouths shut. With bright eyes, they bound off into the tall grass. Jose continues to make his way to the trailer park.
The grass begins to thin. Jose can make out the shapes of the trailers. His plan is to make for the Drifter. Unfortunately with where it’s parked, there is no way to approach it from cover (intentional on the part of Ken and Dr. Freeman). The coast is also not clear. The girl who stabbed Jimmy (Tommie) is hanging out laundry on a line in front of one of the trailers. Jose decides to stash the guns near one of the abandoned trailers before trying to cross.
The closest abandoned trailer happens to be the one that Jason is hiding inside of. Inside Jason hears noises outside of the trailer and freezes. Thinking that he heard movement from inside, Jose cautiously approaches one of the windows to peer inside. A shadow occults the sun streaming in through the empty window pane. Jason holds his breath. From the angle that he is looking into the trailer, Jose can’t see Jason. Jason is watching the shadows movement as he slowly begins pulling the pistol out of his belt. The shadow suddenly disappears.
Thinking that it was most likely an animal, Jose has bent down to hide the guns under the trailer. Part of the trailer bottom is busted, so he attempts to push the guns up into the hole. Try as he might, they keep getting snagged on some kind of obstruction. Jason is straining to listen for any sound that might tip him off as to the location of the individual who had cast the shadow. He is straining so hard, that an abrupt noise in front of him nearly makes him cry out. The carpet on the floor of the trailer is being pushed up. His weight on the carpet is preventing whatever it is from pushing the carpet out of the way. There are however tears in the carpet, through which he can easily see the barrel of a gun. As quietly as possible he cocks his own weapon and aims for the spot where he thinks the intruder must be.
He is just about ready to pull the trigger, when the barrel withdrawals from the hole. Underneath the trailer, Jose is frustrated. He can’t get the guns to fit through the hole. He opts for leaving them in the weeds under the trailer. He still attempts to stealth across the open space to the Drifter. He is seen, but no one raises any alarm. They simply watch him warily. His light knock on the door is answered by a surprised Dr. Freeman, “What are you doing here?” the good doctor demands in a harsh whisper.
Jose quickly explains that he had to flee the hotel because of the police. Dr. Freeman shakes his head. In a deflated tone he adds, “So you came here.” The doctor meant it as a statement of the utter absurdity of the situation. Jose took it as a question or at least and opening to continue the conversation in public view. Seeing Jose is about to speak and fearing what may come out of his mouth, Dr. Freeman quickly ushers him into the Drifter. Trying to maintain his cover, he adds “Sure, I’ll install that for you”, for those who might be listening outside.
Once safely away from prying ears, the conversation becomes more hostile. “Why would you come here?” Dr. Freeman demands as if scolding a child.
Jose pissed at being left twisting in the wind counters just as forcefully, “Where else was a supposed to go?”
The doctor counters, “What am I your daddy?”
Trying to cut through the argument, Ken asks, “Did you cover your tracks coming here?” This seems to take the wind out of Jose’s sails. His anger forgotten, he sheepishly admits that he didn’t cover his tracks. While Ken and Dr. Freeman argue about what to do, Jose happens to glance out the window. He sees the kids that he had previously paid off messing around the trailer where he hid his weapons. One appears to be acting as a lookout. Jose quickly exits the Drifter and begins walking back towards the derelict trailer. By the time he gets there, the kids are nowhere to be seen. The guns are also missing.
While Jose had been breaking the bad news to the Dr. Freeman and Ken in the Drifter, Jason was dealing with more visitors to his hiding spot. After the gun had been pulled out of the hole in the floor, there had been some rustling under the trailer followed by silence. He was just settling down when there was renewed rustling under the trailer. Accompanying the rustling were voices. “Wow, I can’t believe he just dropped these here.”
“Do you know how to fire it?”
“Nah, but there’s a full clip…we can practice.”
A third voice interrupts the other two. In an anxious whisper, it warns, “Quick, he’s coming this way!” This is followed by noise of frantic activity and then once again silence.
Moments later there are the sounds of approaching footsteps followed by a muttered curse. A shadow once again blocks the window, but this time, the figure is actually entering the trailer. Knowing what’s coming, Jason quickly braces his feet so as to avoid rolling to the back end of the trailer. The added weight of the interloper sends the back end swinging towards the ground. It lands with a loud thud. The person entering the window is caught by surprise and lands sprawled on the floor looking up into the barrel of Jason’s gun. The interloper is Jose. After a quick recap by each of what transpired since they separated the previous evening, they begin bickering over ownership of the hiding place.
The happenings around the trailer have not gone unnoticed. Several of the residents of the trailer park have pulled out chairs to watch ‘the show’. Attracted by the noise of the trailer bottoming out, Cleo pops her head out to investigate. Grabbing her gun, she heads over to Tommie’s trailer.
“What’s up?” Cleo asks by way of greeting
Tommie waves and gestures towards the decrepit wreck of a trailer.
“New neighbors?” Cleo asks. Tommie looking a bit apprehensive asks Jane (Cleo) if she has her shotgun handy. She thinks they should find out who in the trailer before they get their throats slashed in the middle of the night. Cleo tries to assure her that they’re probably harmless. They sit down to shoot the breeze…while keeping an eye out for any new developments from the trailer. Gun shots can be heard in the distance.
The trailer sways a bit and from her vantage point, Cleo can make out a figure sneaking off into the high grass. It’s Jason. Cleo groans on the inside. To quote the player…”well it’s obvious those morons didn’t call Bea this morning.” After a little more chit chat with Tommie, Cleo excuses herself and heads back to her Airstream. One inside, she jumps into the Net and makes a call.
Fed up with arguing, Jason decides to let Jose have the hiding place. He climbs out the window and heads into the high grass. He decides to head towards the gun shots. Jason comes out of the grass into a small clearing. There are three kids, standing around a stump which is surrounded by the remains of several bottles and cans. They appear to be looking over their handiwork. One is holding a handgun. The slide appears to be locked back. Another is cradling a submachine gun.
They don’t appear to have heard him, but as he begins to approach they look up. The kids bolt. Jason chases after the one with the submachine gun. The kid is pretty good sized, but Jason’s legs are longer and he is faster. He is closing. In desperation, the kid spins around and depresses the trigger on the gun. Bullets spray wildly. The boy has no skill with the weapon, but at this distance skill isn’t necessary. Enough of the bullets find their mark to take Jason down.
The pop of a handgun had really not drawn the attention of the residents of the trailer park. This is rural South Dakota. Hunting and target shooting are some of the most popular ways to pass the time. The report of the submachine gun was however out of the ordinary. Ken and Dr. Freeman go to investigate. It takes some time to follow the trail, but eventually they come across Jason’s body. The probable murder weapon is still lying on the ground nearby.
Ken hastily calls Cleo. He tells her that one of the people from last night is dead. Nervously, Cleo asks which one. When he tells her it was the smaller of the two, there is silence on the other end of the phone. In a subdued voice Cleo asks, what happened. Ken’s answer is blunt and to the point, “Machinegun to the face.” Cleo inquires if they know who did it. Ken says no, but adds that the weapon that killed him is the one that his friend (Jose) took from Bill’s house. Dr. Freeman slips in a request for Rose’s phone number
Cleo tells them to leave body and report it to Digby. Ken points out that the gun has Jose’s finger prints on it. It can’t be helped. Although she keeps it together, Cleo is broken up by Jason’s death. She switches to autopilot to get through the situation. She catches sight of Jose peeking out of the rundown trailer and prays that he can keep himself out of sight. Digby arrives with other officers. Ken leads them to the crime scene. The three boys have returned to Conestoga from another direction. The oldest is holding his arm as if he injured it. His complexion is ashen. Instead of joining the other two who are trying to find out what’s going on (what the grownups know), he goes into their trailer and does not come back out.
Digby goes over the crime scene with only cursory interest. He questions both Ken and Dr. Freeman, but seems to take only a passing interest in their answers. He labels it a crime of passion and appears interested in closing the case before it is even open. After the police leave, Dr. Freeman repeats his request for Rose’s number to Cleo. She gives it to him without much of a fight. She then places a call to Bea to tell her the bad news. Bea’s first question upon hearing Jason is dead is to ask, “Did you guys kill him?”
Cleo assures her that they were not involved, although the police have fingered Jose in the murder. She suspects one of the kids from Conestoga may have shot him; probably by accident. Bea asks about Jose. Cleo tells her that he’s close at hand, hiding in one of the abandoned trailers. Bea leaves it to her discretion to get him out of town and to Mitchell. Disconnecting the call, Cleo lies down and has herself a good cry.
Rose is still enjoying her day on the river with Croft Associates when her phone rings. Rather than answering it, she lets it go to voicemail. She is staring at the number when Erica inquires, “problem?”
“We’ll know is a minute,” is Rose’s response as she flips open her phone to listen to the message. The call was from Dr. Freeman or rather from his alias for the mission, Eli Vance. She quickly dials the number back and has a brief conversation.(1) With a deep sigh, she hangs up the phone and asks if they can return to dock.
Erica asks, “Who was that?” Dead pan, Rose says, “My handler.” Instead of just dropping her at the dock, they give her a ride back to her house. As she exits the vehicle Erica tells her, looking concerned, “call if you need anything.”
Dr. Freeman tells Rose that Cleo gave him her number. He tells her that they have an urgent mission which requires her skills. The doctor does not elaborate over the phone, but provides an address where they can meet to discuss the particulars.
Tears have a cleansing effect and after her cry, Cleo is once again thinking clearly. She calls back Bea to lay out her revised plan. Her original intention was to have Jason and Jose grab Dottie. If anything went wrong, they were already busted, so it wouldn’t be a great loss. With Jason’s death, this is no longer possible. Her new plan is to ask the other team (Croft Associates) to grab Dottie and take her to Mitchell. She contact’s Rose and asks her to call Erica and ask if her team can do an extraction of Dottie. With some misgivings, Rose puts Cleo in touch with Croft Associates. The artificially modulated voice details the plan and Cleo transmits all of the intel she has on Dottie.
Rose does her best to disguise herself. (1) She then drives her car across town and calls a taxi to pick her up. Ten minutes later she is knocking on the door of the Drifter in Conestoga Park. In an effort to maintain her cover, she announces for anyone that might be listening that she is coming to see Dr. Freeman in a professional capacity (2)…”I heard there was a doctor here that can do somewhat sensitive work.” With the door closed and the place swept for bugs, her quiet demeanor changes.
She lays into the doctor…”You could have picked someplace easier to get to”…referring to her need to mask her identity.
Dr. Freeman at his self-involved best, simply retorts, “not for me.”
Rose restrains the urge to do him bodily injury and listens quietly while he explains the mission. “I need to extract a girl from a brothel on the third floor of the Palomino Club.”
Rose is puzzled. She asks why they have to extract her from the Club. It is only then that Dr. Freeman reveals that Tina is the girl that they are attempting to extract. He fills her in on Tina’s possible involvement with the hijackings and the fact that she doesn’t make house calls (info gather by Cleo last episode).
Rose is annoyed by Dr. Freeman lackadaisical attitude. She informs him that Dottie is going to be extracted fairly soon, if not that evening. Rhetorically, she ask if it is not likely that Tina would go into hiding once Dottie turned up missing. Rose, thinking aloud deliberates whether the policy (of no out calls) would differ depending on the sex of the client… “She may not do out calls for men, but maybe for a woman…”
Dr. Freeman interrupts her internal monologue by interjecting, “sounds good, I’ll get my camera” This elicits a murderous look from Rose.
Before she has a chance to act on her thoughts, Ken changes the subject, by laying out Plan B. “Actually, we had a funnier plan…It’s a good plan really. The doc rents her for the night, drugs her and then lowers her out the window. He stabs himself and makes it look like he was injured during her extraction.” It isn’t a completely terrible plan, but requires more intelligence about the Palomino Club than the players currently have.
They decide that it’s necessary to get a look inside of the room before they try the extraction. Dr. Freeman wants Rose to pose as his assistant. At first Rose balks at the idea, but Ken points out that no one would buy him as the doctor’s assistant. He adds that she has the perfect skill set to pull it off. A little stroke of the ego never hurts. The trio is just beginning to refine the plan, when they are interrupted by a phone call.
It’s Cleo. Jose has left his hiding place in the abandoned trailer and is heading for the Drifter. Dr. Freeman asks what she wants them to do. Cleo starts reeling off instructions, but realizes half way through, that they screw up the simplest tasks. This will be too complicated. Throwing up her hands in exasperations she blurts out, “Ah fuck it, just shoot him”.
Dr. Freeman is more than willing to carry out the order, but as quickly she has said, she changes her mind and yells into the phone, No, before the doctor can carry out the deed. Cleo has a moment of indecision.
The knocking on the door interrupts their exchange. Dr. Freeman stalls for time…”who is it?”
Cleo hastily says, “I‘ll call you right back”, and disconnects the line.
Rose takes the opportunity to hide in the Drifter’s rest room, so that her cover won’t be compromised. Dr. Freeman opens the door and makes a show of announcing that he can indeed put silver on a gun…playing it off as just another routine professional visit. This draws a perplexed look from Jose who is quickly dragged inside the Drifter.
No sooner has the door closed, than the phone rings again. After a quick listen, Dr. Freeman hands the phone to Jose. The computer modulated voice begins giving instructions. “Go 100 meters down the road towards Chamberlain (Route 16) and wait there. Be there at 9 pm. A motorcycle will pull up. Now put the doctor back on.” Jose looks a little shell shocked, but complies and hands the phone back to Dr. Freeman. After a brief exchange, Dr. Freeman confers quietly with Ken. Ken doesn’t appear too happy with the exchange, but after the confab, he rummages through his clothes (Jose and he are about the same size) and gives Jose something to change into.
Jose wants to change in the bathroom. (3) He is quite shocked by the by the force of the objection voiced by both Ken and Dr. Freeman. They insist that he change right there. Feeling a bit uncomfortable and self-conscious, Jose quickly disrobes, dresses in the borrowed clothes and departs. The clothes he had been wearing are left on the floor of the Drifter.
(GM Notes: (1) Rose is of mixed ancestry. Her mother was Japanese, but her father was African American. In a more cosmopolitan setting, this wouldn’t be an issue, but the Asian population of Chamberlain, South Dakota, is almost non-existent. The player hit upon making herself look Native American. It wasn’t perfect, but it would be serviceable at a distance. If the disguise was penetrated, she had her cover story already planned.
(2) In case her disguise was penetrated, Rose had come up with a cover story that she (as Yoko) thought she might be pregnant. The child was to have been the result of an extramarital affair. This is why she was visiting a ripper-doc rather than using the health care provided by Conover. She didn’t want it to get back to her husband.
(3) This was almost the end of Jose. Rose was fully prepared to kill him if he opened the door to the Drifter’s bathroom.)
Jose leaves the Drifter, to head for the rendezvous. He is oblivious to the eyes watching him. Cleo notes his departure, but so does Tommie, who begins to shadow him as he leaves the trailer park. Cleo momentarily considers killing Tommie to stop her from following Jose. She quickly rejects that option as a last resort and decides to distract her with the offer of a firearm. Before she can get out of Conestoga Park, Cleo steps out of her trailer and calls her over. Tommie takes one last fleeting look at the retreating figure of Jose and then turns back to the Airstream.
“Hey, are you still looking for a gun”, Cleo inquires with an inviting smile. Tommie seems to forget about Jose in her eagerness to hear what Jane (Cleo) has to offer. Cleo drags out her sales pitch to give Jose plenty of time to get away. The gun up for grabs is a used Arasaka WSA, with two full clips and the remainder of the box of ammo. Tommie is interested and the two dicker over the price. Cleo gives Jose as much time as she can to make himself scarce, without making Tommie suspicious or herself late for the rendezvous. She eventually lets Tommie have everything for a mere 300 euros.
After sending Tommie away happy with her new toy, Cleo quickly ducks back inside her trailer. She pulls on armored clothing and her motorcycle helmet, and then heads off to keep her meeting with Jose. He is easy to spot, loitering near the edge of the road (making little effort to hide himself). Cleo pulls up and tells him to get on. After a moment of indecision, Jose jumps on the back of the bike. Instead of following (Route) 16 into Chamberlain, Cleo crosses the road and rides cross country, till she reaches the interstate (I-90). Once on the highway she guns it and races towards Mitchell.
Arriving in Mitchell, she calls Bea to get directions to her location. The directions take them to an alley behind a braindance parlor (SINDROME), up a back staircase and to the second door in a dingy hallway. Cleo’s light knock is quickly answered. A man opens the door a crack and peers out. Jose recognizes Joe from the warehouse (last episode). The recognition is mutual.
“Hey, how’s it going?” Joe asks, in a friendly tone. He flings the door wide, so they can enter his small cluttered apartment.
Jose starts to recount his tale of woe, but is cut off by Cleo, who asks, “Where’s Bea?”
Joe seems unfazed by her abruptness. Still smiling he points to the ceiling, adding “she’s upstairs.” Leaving Jose in Joe’s hands, Cleo heads upstairs to confer with Bea.
In order for the extraction plan to work, Dr. Freeman needs to portray the successful doctor, the kind of client Tina would be willing to take on. Slumming in Conestoga Park isn’t going to cut it. To make a big splash quickly, Dr. Freeman tries to make reservations at the Cedar Shore Resort. He also reasons that by appealing to her greed, they may be able to coax Tina to make a ‘house call’ to the resort. Unfortunately, all the rooms are booked till Monday. Dr. Freeman’s attempt to cajole the reservation clerk into getting him a room only succeeds in offending her.
Disgusted, Ken takes over. Before calling back the Resort, he checks to see if any of the other hotels in the area would fit their needs. There are a couple of possibilities, but their location, in downtown Chamberlain, could prove problematic if the extraction goes badly…assuming they can even coax her out of the Palomino Club. Ken bites the bullet and calls back the Cedar Shore Resort. He begins the call ascertaining if the person on the other end is the same person to Dr. Freeman spoke with. It is.
He apologizes profusely and strikes up a conversation with the reservation clerk (Joy). In face to face encounters, his appearance (articulated skull faced mask) can be visually intimidating. It puts people off. Once you get past this visual obstacle or remove it (as in a phone call) the well-spoken personable individual behind the mask comes through. Ken is able to schmooze Joy into booking a room for the doctor, under the name Eli Vance.
(GM Notes: Even though the resort was fully booked, not all of the rooms were occupied. There were rooms which had been reserved, but the guests had yet to arrive. In the case of the room which Joy gives to Dr. Freeman, the guests had been scheduled to arrive on Friday. Since it was already late Saturday evening, more than likely they weren’t coming. A little smooth talk from Ken and she was more than willing to resell the room.
The player (Dr. Freeman) felt that I was busting his chops. While it is true that hotels do try to resell rooms for no show reservations, they are not under any obligation to do so. Most, if not all have, penalties built into their reservation policy, which cover the hotel in cases of late cancellations or no shows. This was a lesson to the players, that you have to be nice to the gate keepers, in this case the reservation clerk. Their job requires them to help you, but only so much. How you treat them has a direct bearing on how willing they are to go the extra distance to help you. It’s that Golden Rule of Reciprocity…you know, the whole “Do onto others…”)
While Ken and Dr. Freeman work on securing lodging, Rose goes back to her house to collect her business suit and other accoutrements for a new disguise… Well, it’s not really a disguise. She reasons that the doctor’s identity has most likely been made by someone. Since Rose is a known associate of the doctor, there should be no harm in showing up as herself. After collecting what she needs, Rose (still in her Native American disguise) heads for a motel by the airport and registers under an assumed name.
After changing, Rose attempts to secure a vehicle for the operation. Arriving in the Drifter would destroy the illusion they are trying to create. There are no limos for rent in Chamberlain. The closest limo service is Mitchell. The closest thing she can find on such short notice is a Ford Mazda Deluxe. The cost is pretty pricy and since she doesn’t know what kind of operating budget they have to work with she thinks it’s time to regroup with Ken and Dr. Freeman, who are already at the Cedar Shore Resort.
(GM Note: There was an amusing encounter when Ken and Dr. Freeman arrived at the resort. Joy had her first face to face meeting with Ken. Suffice to say she was a little shocked….”I’m sorry, you’re just not how I pictured you is all” In her mind the end of that sentence was AT all, but she was enough of a professional, to keep it together while they were standing at the front desk.)
Dr. Freeman questions the rationale behind renting a limo. Frustrated, Rose does her best to make him understand. “Do you want to look the part or look like a schmuck?”
Appealing to Dr. Freeman’s vanity does the trick. The three head down to the front desk to see if the concierge could make arrangements for a car. James (the concierge) happily informs them that the Resort has a limo on site for the use of its guests. It is currently on its way back from dropping off guests at the Palomino Club. Rose restrains her urge to kill the doctor and asks James if he could let them know when it arrives.
When the limo arrives, Dr. Freeman springs one last surprise. He’s not going. He reasons that a man, of the stature he is attempting to portray, would not be cooling his heels in the car. He is far too busy and important for that. Such a man would send his assistant to make the arrangements and then report back to him. Ken says he isn’t going either. His role is to act as Dr. Freeman’s bodyguard. He must therefore remain with him. In her mind Rose is screaming and tearing her hair out. Outwardly she maintains a thin veneer of cool confidence, which lasts long enough for the limo door to shut.
While the driver is walking around to the other side of the vehicle she allows herself a minor meltdown. Rose is once again collected by the time Clark (the driver) slides behind the steering wheel. Clark attempts to engage her in conversation. Her response is to raise the partition between the driver and passenger cabin. She needs all of the short time available (the Palomino Club is only about 3 miles away) to come up with a plan to stop this op from going sideways.
At the Club, Rose approaches the front desk and asks to speak with the manager. Instead of giving her own name when asked, she provides another alias (Akiko Komura). The desk clerk helpfully asks if she can tell him what it is regarding. Akiko (Rose) responds flatly, “tell him its business.”
After a short wait in the lounge, she is ushered upstairs to speak with Little Al. Rose takes note of the security arrangements as she is led to Little Al’s office, elevator right across from front desk, key card to access elevator, cameras in the elevator, cameras in the hallway, at least six guards that she sees…the chances of extracting Tina from the Club are looking slimmer by the minute. Rose decides to go for broke and try to coax her out of Club, where she would be easier to grab.
She spins a yarn for Little Al, portraying Dr. Freeman as a successful surgeon, who is relocating to Chamberlain. He wishes to partake of Tina’s services, but since he has political aspirations in the town, he is worried that being seen associating with such individuals, could hurt his aspirations. Al just laughs. His response is a little condescending, but he infers that Dr. Freeman’s prospects would be hurt by not being seen associating with the club. Such things would only make him go up in people’s estimations. Undaunted, Rose tries a different approach.
She plays up the fact that Dr. Freeman is staying at the Cedar Shore Resort. Little Al shuts her down almost immediately. Although he doesn’t go into specifics, he implies that the club has an arrangement with the Resort. Part of that arrangement is that his working girls don’t ply their trade up there. Rose tries a couple of other tactics, but Little Al is unmoved. He eventually concludes the meeting citing other important business which he must attend to. She is escorted downstairs. The limo takes her back to the Resort.
Rose tells Ken and Dr. Freeman that her attempts to coax Tina out of the Club were a bust. She also gives them her assessment of the chance of grabbing her in the Club. While Rose is recounting the security arrangements she observed, Dr. Freeman let’s slip that they might know more about the Club’s security than they told her. After some coaxing (yelling), they reveal the existence of the map, which had been in the possession of the body, Fatty found. It lists the Palomino Club’s security personnel as 12 during a normal shift. The map also indicates that there is usually an off duty Oacoma police officer on site and response time from the Oacoma police station is roughly 90 seconds to 2 minutes (its right down the road).
Rose contemplates murder, but instead decides to call Cleo. After making sure there are no bugs on the line, Cleo asks, “What’s up?”
Rose avoids using names, but lays out the basics of their dilemma, “is it a must do tonight? We’re running into difficulties?” Before she can go any further, Cleo stops her and says she’ll call her right back. Jumping into the Net at Bea’s, she dials Rose. Cleo is less than pleased with what she hears and takes it out on Rose
“You walked in there as his (Dr. Freeman’s) assistant? They know he doesn’t have an assistant. You’re blown.” Rose by this point is fed up. She was maintaining her own cover and keeping up her end of the mission, when she was tapped to “help” Dr. Freeman and Ken. They unceremoniously dropped the mission in her lap and then sat back and did nothing (from the player’s point of view). She is tired of being pushed around, so she pushes back…(to Cleo) “So I’m blown. Feel free to come out of the shadows and do something.”
Fearing a possible mutiny, Cleo dials it back a notch. She pushes aside her anger, and tries to figure out how they can still salvage the operation. All they can do now is run with the story Rose told to Little Al. Dr. Freeman is going to need an office. Cleo tells Rose to begin looking at possible locations on Monday. She also tells her to call and make an appointment with Tina for Dr. Freeman. Cleo ends the call by telling Rose to pass along to the Doc, “He has to go in there and fuck her brains out.”
(GM Note: As a little aside, Bea has secured the safe house in Chamberlain. It’s located on the south side of Chamberlain with easy access to both the highway and municipal airport. Cleo spends the remainder of Saturday night into Sunday morning moving, any equipment that might clash with her assumed identity, into the safe house.
Sunday May 15, 2025:
Cleo goes to the Palomino Club to talk with Little Al about renting an apartment upstairs (on the third floor of the Club). Since the murder, she doesn’t feel safe living in the trailer park Cleo confides in Al that she was dating the person who was killed. She’s afraid that the suspected killer (Jose) will be back to kill her. They never got along. Al is agreeable to the arrangement, especially since Cleo shows interest in working on the third floor. He offers her a reduction in the first month’s rent if she takes care of a special client (Dick Jones).
Dr. Freeman gets the call to go to Mitchell. Croft Associates successfully extracted Dottie, but hit a bit of a snag. She was wounded during the extraction, when she turned a gun on the team. They stabilized her, but want Dr. Freeman to check her out before putting her into braindance. After Dr. Freeman patches her up, Ken wants to take a crack at interrogating her. Joe assures him that what they learn in braindance will be the truth, but Ken overrules him. He gets more than he bargained for.
Ken’s interrogation style of inducing fear doesn’t seem to work. (1) A change seems to come over Dottie during the interrogation. She becomes submissive and compliant. She also begins to refer to Ken as ‘master’. Dottie seems willing to tell him whatever he wants to hear. The problem is that she doesn’t appear to know anything beyond her interactions with Tina. At times it becomes apparent that she is lying. The lies are not out of an attempt to be misleading. She is attempting to please her ‘master’ by giving answers to any question he asks. (2) It becomes clear that beyond some basic information, Ken interrogation technique isn’t revealing anything important, so they put her into braindance.
Most of her memories from the recent past were truly mundane. There were unusual spikes around the time when she pulled the gun on Croft Associates. Joe makes some adjustments and refines the scan around that incident. The spikes in the readings appear to be coming from Dottie’s subconscious. After a few more refinements, he is able to zero in on a set of memories, which in Dottie register more like dreams. (3) Joe states that they are too distinct and linear to be dreams. Rather than boring them with the details, he begins working back through these half memories.
(GM Notes: (1) Again, some of the players cried foul. Ken was rolling in the high 30s for Interrogation and Intimidation. They thought I was just being a dick and holding back information. The problem was that Ken was only reinforcing Dottie’s need to be dominated. She has known Tina for almost six months. Tina recognized her submissive tendencies and played upon them to condition and train her. Ken’s rolls were successful, just not in the way he expected. He was able to break through Tina’s conditioning and have Dottie imprint on him as master.
(2) Interrogation and torture are a dicey business. Sometimes the victim will tell you what you want to hear just to make the pain stop. In the case of Dottie, she has been trained to make her ‘master’ happy. Telling Ken that she didn’t know the answers to his questions just seemed to make him angrier. When she began to make things up to answer his questions he seemed happier…until of course he figured out she was lying.
(3) Dottie’s conscious mind had difficulty reconciling some of the things which Tina had her do, like killing Dave (the ‘phantom employee’ found dead in Sturgis). What her conscious mind couldn’t deal with was pushed into her subconscious. These are the memories that Joe was picking up. That Joe was able to pick them up at all is also thanks to Ken’s interrogation. If he hadn’t brought out her submissive side, the targets to notice the spikes would have been much higher. Yes, the braindance tech was an NPC, but I set the difficulties just in case a PC wanted to take a crack at reading the scan.)
Cleo’s Point of View
Well, Point of View is important here. To set the record straight, Cleo never suggested pinning the hijacking of the trucks on Bill and the smuggling ring. She expected that the information that they had just gleaned in the interrogations would be the end of the investigation. As for Bea being “all for turning the information they have already collected over to her mom and calling it a day”, why didn’t she (Bea) do just that? I mean, who was working for whom here? From Cleo’s point of view, Bea is the corporate contact, and therefore the ‘client’. If the information already gleaned was sufficient, then Bea, should have said, “Thank you, we (Conover) will take it from here.”
Cleo (and the rest of the team) would have been out of there immediately. In fact, Cleo was led to believe that the information gathered, so far, was insufficient. Yes, Cleo did say that without corroboration their information was ‘legally’ insufficient, but when has that ever stopped a Corporation for straightening up its own house? I think the important point here is that it flies against all reason that Cleo should bear the responsibility for continuing the operation when the corporate liaison (especially one who is daughter of the high ranking corporate executive who launched this operation) is the one on the scene and aware of everything (important) that the party had found out, or at least had enough information to feel that it was time to “call Mom” and “call(ing) it a day”.
“She further emphasizes that they could implicate Dr. Freeman and Ken, putting the entire mission at risk. Although it need not be said, Cleo finishes her summation with, “They’re in deep shit”. She then asks pointedly, “You like them, right?” The tone of Bea’s response is firm, “Yes”. (3)
(3) Despite what Cleo or anyone else in the party might think, Bea is not stupid. She can see that Cleo is trying to put the decision for “retiring” Jason and Jose on her shoulders. It’s reminiscent of the situation in Episode 10 (How We Lost Our L.A. Privileges), when Rose left her to “take care of” the kids in the closet…something which still tears her up inside. She told herself it was for the good of the group, which is in part how she lives with it.”
“The current situation makes Bea’s blood boil. Ken and Dr. Freeman had them in their Drifter. They could have just as easily driven Jason and Jose out of town. Instead, they were dumped on the side of the road. (To Bea) It’s as if everything possible is being done, to make killing Jason and Jose the only option. Treating team members as disposable assets may be how Cleo operates. Bea believes you don’t abandon your friends. But that’s part of the problem, Cleo doesn’t view the party as friends. They are her employees. And even thought Bea is the one who “hired” the group, she feels that Cleo treats her like an employee too…except when the hard decisions have to be made.”
Let me make it quite clear to you, dear readers, that Jason and Jose were NOT members of the Killer Bees, but rather employees of Conover. They didn’t come with us, and we didn’t hire them. Cleo is nineteen years old, grew up in hideous circumstances among junkies, pornographers, and members of the Organitskaya (Russian organized crime group). In the three game years (character started in 2022 in our timeline) she has played, she become more like her father (a hit man for Russian Mob). She can be ruthless if the situation calls for it. Jason and her had become lovers (or fuck buddies, if you like) and killing him to protect her team was not an easy decision for her. By asking Bea the question, “You like them, right?” Cleo was checking with those two’s superior, before eliminating a possible threat to her team. The question was a professional courtesy, and not an attempt to have Bea take any responsibility for the action. Yes, Cleo does treat the party as employees because that is what they are. She had only been working with them for two months, Jose and Jason less than two weeks, and had met some a few months before that at a party. Two of the group had escorted her on a small job at that time. Trust and friendship is a rare commodity in the world of cyberpunk. Cleo has warmed up to Rose and is considering keeping up contact with her when she moves on. To be honest, Cleo had met Doctor Freeman the previous year (during the Las Vegas campaign) when she was using her Alexis Smyth identity, and knew him as a corrupt, perverted, and not particularly trustworthy person. As for Bea’s hurt feelings about being treated as an employee and not a ‘Boss’, well, again, if she felt that the information gathered so far had fulfilled the contract, then Bea should have acted like the employer and sent the Killer Bees home. Mission accomplished, thank you and good bye!
‘Cleo wants Ken to grab Tina and take her to Mitchell to be braindanced. Although she puts the mission in his hands, she repeatedly asks if he thinks they can handle it. This leaves Ken feeling that Cleo is questioning his competence.’
By “asking repeatedly”, which was three times, Cleo wasn’t ‘nagging’ but making sure that Ken had the opportunity to express any reservations about their ability to do the job she had outlined. If Cleo herself had any doubts about his ability to the job, she never would have asked him to do it.
‘Cleo’s hands off leadership style was not instilling confidence in the group.’
I think a word here on leadership style is important. The group was divided into ‘cells’ because I felt bringing a group of cybered up edgerunners into a small South Dakota town would immediately tip off the hijackers to our presence and possibly our purpose. This would immediately doom the mission. As it turns out, since we (the players) are now aware of who was behind all this, I feel that success in the mission would have been impossible, if we had gone in as a single group. Also, I felt that it was very likely that whomever was hijacking the trucks probably had connections with Conover, so certain cells were insulated from corporate identification. The use of disguises and false IDs would protect the group if certain ‘cells’ were captured. On a personal note, I (the player) have, in the past, been accused of trying to ‘run the show’ and make all the decisions. This seemed to be a good time to take these observations by some of my fellow players to heart and let each group have as much autonomy as possible. Cleo would delegate general objectives and let each team make their own plans. Well, it seems you can’t win no matter what you do. This is typical of our group, and when we started this Meta Campaign (many years ago), the first ‘team’ would look to group fixer, Roy, to make all the decisions, and then just bitch about those decisions, which were almost always very good ones. This would (justifiably) drive Roy up the wall. With our group, one of three players usually ends up as party leader: Me, Bea or Rose’s player. We are also the three principle GMs. We did have the players of Ken and Dr. Freeman jointly run one of the teams for one and a half campaigns, but that ended rather badly as they did not do a good job.
‘Fearing a possible mutiny, Cleo dials it back a notch. She pushes aside her anger, and tries to figure out how they can still salvage the operation. All they can do now is run with the story Rose told to Little Al.’
Well, no, there was no fear of a possible mutiny. Yes, she was unhappy that Rose had “just written a check she couldn’t cash” with her story. Especially since it was Cleo who would have to cover that check, which (in the next episode) is exactly what happened. The cost in financial terms would make this mission a money loser for her. Yes, as the Boss, she would have to make up any losses out of her own pocket. However, this mission was less about money and more about establishing reputation and cover for Cleo’s true intention for running the Killer Bees.
Let me make her overall character motivation clear here. Cleo (whose real name is Nikki Bakunin) is a master jewel thief. Her motivation for being with the group is to recruit a team to help her on her next (and last) heist. The girl’s poverty strickened childhood has given her a ‘pack rat’ mentality. She has been stashing the proceeds of her heists in Swiss and Caribbean banks trying to put together a nest egg so she can live the life she wishes to become accustomed to. This next job will give her the money she feels she needs to retire. She and her ‘patron’ (and fence) have been working on a new (permanent) identity for her, which is almost ready. Every mission this group does is an audition, in her mind, to see who is competent enough to help her with her last ‘job’. It should be noted that in past campaigns she has pulled off two huge jewel heists that were GM’ed by (Bea’s player), who (rightly) made these robberies extremely difficult to pull off. Their difficulty only made their success much sweeter. A lot of other PCs have become very rich by helping her. So far, only Rose has shown that she has skill for the job. Takashi is a competent Netrunner, who has the skills, but not the Cool (stability) for the job. Ken (Grimjaw) has the skills, but he apparently may have too many scruples for that kind of work.
This leaves Cleo with a dilemma. She may have to abandon her plans for the Night City heist, and select one of the other target stores she had extensively ‘cased’ in Las Vegas during the last campaign there.
Oh well, what can you expect? The group is following an insecure and psychologically damaged teenager. The pressure of this mission is starting to crack the armor she has built around herself with months of therapy and self-delusional play-acting. Cleo wants to get this job over with. Her brusqueness with Bob and Bea in Mitchell are a symptom of her frustration.
Episode 29: STALKING HORSE BLUES
Monday May 16, 2025:
Cleo finishes moving the rest of her belonging into her new apartment at the Palomino Club. Secreted away in one of her bags is her demolitions gear. (1) Being paranoid, she scans her new digs for bugs or other hidden surprises (i.e. camera, peep holes, etc.). A thorough search reveals nothing, except for a low level energy signature emanating from the walls. With the help of some tools, Cleo discovers what appears to be a grid of chicken wire behind the wall covering. (2) She checks her phone. There is no signal. The room is shielded.
(GM Notes: (1)The Palomino Club is as secure as they can make it without negatively impacting its members or guests. Most if not all plausible security risks had been considered. Moving into the Club in order to sneak explosives past security for an attempted extraction, didn’t make that list. The windows on the third floor are armored and thermal coated. Cleo rightly surmised, that Ken wouldn’t be smashing through those windows…not without a little help anyway.
(2)It’s a Faraday cage. The Club values the privacy of its members; especially those who visit the third floor.)
Cleo uses a shopping excursion to provide an alibi, in case anyone from the Club happens to see her in Mitchell. After some cursory purchases, she heads back to the rooms above the SINDROME to talk with Bea. Cleo’s intent is to bring her up to speed with the new developments, but it quickly devolves into a bitch session, ending with, “Rose has written a bunch of checks that I now need to cash.” Calmer after ‘venting’, Cleo lays out her revised plan for grabbing Tina.
The first order of business (as Cleo sees it) is to get Rose and Takashi out of town. The departure is meant to be temporary. It will allow Rose to continue her business on the behalf of Dr. Freeman without having to worry about maintaining two identities (as herself and Yoko). Their return will let them put Jose back into play, disguised of course. He will be Takashi’s bodyguard. Given what’s happened, recently (see previous episodes) Cleo feels this shouldn’t raise any eyebrows. If it becomes necessary, Takashi can come back alone, citing worries over security to explain Yoko’s absence. Again, that shouldn’t appear suspicious.
The cover story for the unexpected departure will be Takashi has been called to a meeting with upper management. Cleo asks Bea to arrange for a limo and driver. To better sell the story, Bea tells her she’ll make arrangement for a helicopter to pick them up at the municipal air field in Chamberlain.
Cleo asks Bea to look into renting an AV. The group is planning to grab Tina, Dick Jones and if possible, the mayor of Chamberlain. Even if things go as planned, they are going to need to leave the area in a hurry. Ground transportation isn’t gonna cut it. Bea says she’ll look into it. She sets about scaring up a driver and making arrangements for Takashi’s ‘business meeting’, while Cleo goes to talk with Jose.
He’s still bunking with Joe, who ‘goes for a walk’, in order to give the two some privacy. The hunted look is gone from his eyes, but Jose still is at a loss to what has happened. Cleo tries to break the news to him gently. “You’re a person of interest in Jason’s murder.”
Unfortunately it seems that Jose was unaware that Jason is dead. Cleo maintains an air of calm, although mentally she banging her head against the wall. She quickly explains the events surrounding Jason’s untimely demise. Jose is enraged. He wants revenge for the death of his friend. Cleo tells him that they not only know who did it, they have proof. She assures Jose that everything will be taken care of. In the meantime, she has a business proposition for him (which she had cleared with Bea).
“If you want to quit working for her (Bea) you can work for me.”
On its face, it seems to be a simple yes or no question, but Jose manages to find a third option. “What?” It could be that he’s still be trying to process the fact that Jason is dead…or he’s just really slow on the uptake.
In her current frame of mind, Cleo could care less. “Let me put it into words you can understand”, she responds crisply. Switching to the mechanically modulated voice, which Jose recognizes as that of their ‘boss’, Cleo lays out the terms of employment in the Killer Bs.
Reverting to her own voice, she finishes by asking, “Deal?”
It at first appears that Jose isn’t going to respond. The look of shock, which had accompanied Cleo’s switch to the computer generated voice has been replaced by one of resignation. Meekly he responds, “Yeah.” With his acquiescence, Cleo’s mood brightens. With near giddy excitement, she tells him about the cover identity they are building for him, and shows genuine concern for replacing his primary weapon (lost in the truck hijacking). Cleo actually hugs him as she leaves the apartment to take care of other business. (1)
(GM Note: (1) I think the hug was as much a surprise to her as it was to Jose. I think Cleo still has some lingering guilt over Jason’s death. It may explain part of the reason she goes so overboard equipping and arming Jose (who was Jason’s best friend).
Returning to Bea’s “command center”, Cleo accesses the NET through the SINDROMES data fortress. She prices a Wyvern (tilt rotor) through the Nevada offices of British Aerospace. Before finalizing the purchase, she works on creating a dummy paper trail. Uncle Billy (William Titcombe) is more than willing to help out…for a price of course. Cleo wants him to set up an air freight business. The business venture is meant to be a shell company (to cover the purchase of the Wyvern), but Billy has a line on a Chinese import company, based out of Trinidad, which has fallen on hard times. He just happens to have an interest in the company.
They reuse one of the tail numbers from a wyvern owned by the company. Uncle Billy assures her, it’s will pass muster. Satisfied with the arrangements, Cleo accesses her accounts in Zurich. She purchases the Wyvern, sends 100,000 euros to Uncle Billy and transfers 50,000 euros to Mitchell, so she can make good on the checks Rose ‘wrote’ the previous evening. While Cleo is concluding her business in the NET, Bea calls Rose to warn her of the change in plans.
Cleo’s next call is to Ken. She tells him to take Dr. Freeman around Chamberlain and make a show of looking at real estate. If asked, they are looking for office space for a medical practice. She stresses that the property should be rented on a monthly basis. It’s only meant to serve as a temporary store front, while their permanent offices are completed. (1)Cleo also asks Ken to pass along to Dr. Freeman that he has to set up a pattern of visiting Tina as quickly as possible…”Become a regular customer, tip her well, become her love slave if necessary”. (2)
(GM Notes: (1) Of course, there’s a slight problem with that train of logic. The next question most people would ask, would be, “Oh, so where are you setting up your permanent offices?” Setting that aside for the moment, there is also the issue of the property itself. Since all of the medical equipment is built into the Drifter, the space needs to have an attached garage which can accommodate the vehicle and which is accessible from the office. It narrows down their options.
(2)The intent here was to build a level of familiarity between the doctor and Tina. It probably wouldn’t be trust, given the nature of their interaction, but repeated visits might cause her to relax her guard. Cleo estimated correctly, that she would be on guard during her first session with a new client. Humorously, some of the players had it in their heads that Tina was possibly a high level Solo of Counter Intelligence Operative. Sorry, she’s just a vamp (femme fatale) who is highly skilled at manipulating people and getting what she wants. The inspiration for Tina came from Connie Nielsen’s performance (as Renata) in The Ice Harvest.)
After disconnecting with Ken, Cleo gets in touch with a shoemaker (forger) that she knows, to line up fake identification for Jose’s new identity. Bea meanwhile, takes Jose to a friend of Joe, to work on his disguise. Facial reconstruction would be too invasive and time consuming. She opts instead for a nano skin lightener and a new bleached blond do (hairdo). A Royo body mask finishes off the disguise. The changes are cosmetic, but with a new wardrobe (tailored suits) and a custom two gun rig, they should suffice.
Rose and Takashi are in Mitchell, by the time Bea and Jose make it back. Introductions get a little complicated. “This is Jose. He will be playing the part of Bob, your (indicating Takashi) bodyguard.
Not to be outdone, Rose introduces herself by saying, “I’m Rose. When I look like this (gesturing to her disguise) I’m Yoko. Don’t call me by the wrong name. If you out me (blow my cover), I will kill you.” Sensing the uneasy vibe created by this last comment, she quickly adds “I probably will just make your life difficult.” There are some polite chuckles, but it doesn’t really do much make the situation any less awkward.
Bea takes the opportunity to tell Cleo and the assembled group about Dick’s Militech card. The card was activated 6 months ago. Whoever approved it was above her mother’s pay grade at Conover, which is a pretty small group. Her sources within Conover have also been drying up. Whoever, in the company, is involved may be on to them. While this revelation does nothing to cut the tension in the room, it does make everyone forget about the awkward introductions…at least until the new driver arrives.
Ser Delacroix (Jason’s new character) (1) follows the directions given to him by Bea. His knock is quickly answered and he is ushered into the room (by Bea) where the other PCs are meeting. After delivering Ser to the meeting, Bea quickly hustles out the door, “to go pick up some Chinese (food)”. Cleo quickly takes the reigns of the meeting and gets right down to business…“I’m your employer. My name is not important.” She lays out what she expects of Ser. Rather than hiring him on for just this job, she offers him a position in the Killer Bs.
Ser takes it all in, with a languid smile. He readily accepts the offer. The other PCs, who had been listening expectantly, crowd in to introduce themselves and welcome him to the team. Rose’s introduction once again includes the threat of death for revealing her identity. Ser acknowledges the comment, but doesn’t seem bothered by it in the slightest.
(GM Note: (1) Bea was in a tight spot, trying to find a replacement for Jason. Joe put her on to Ser, who is a friend of a friend. He hadn’t steered her wrong yet, so she to the chance. In designing the character, the player was aiming for someone with the driving skills of the Transporter and the laid back, devil-may-care attitude of Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday (from Tombstone). The character is supposed to be from New Orleans. When I pointed out that it might be difficult for Ser to master his driving skills there (on account of the city being flooded in cyberpunk), the player quickly answered with a smile, “Well…it’s a perfect reason for him to be in South Dakota.” Who am I to argue with such logic?)
Rose is troubled. The more she listens to Bob’s (Jose’s) voice, the more she is certain that she has met him before. It finally hits her. His was the voice she heard arguing with Ken and Dr. Freeman, while she hid in the bathroom of their Drifter (see previous episode). It makes her feel even worse about threatening him. She takes him aside. In an apologetic tone, she tries to prepare him for what might be in store if she has to go back under cover as Yoko…”I’m playing the role of a real bitch. So, if I treat you like crap, it’s the role not me. Ok?” Jose feels in over his head, but he manages a smile and nod, to acknowledge Rose’s attempt at peace making.
There is a moment of panic among the PCs when someone comes knocking at the door. All conversation in the room stops. The knocking resumes even louder this time, followed by “Yo, Bea”. Bea still hasn’t returned from the Chinese restaurant. Rose sidles over to the door and peers through the peephole. There is a large black man on the other side of the door holding a foot long rectangular package. She motions to Jose, who quickly crosses the room to the door. He doesn’t recognize the man either.
Stepping to side of the door Rose draws her pistol and recites the code phrase. Instead of the countersign, she is greeted with a confused, “What!?”
A slight edge creeps into her voice. “Bea’s not here.”
Gun at the ready, Rose’s hand slowly inches towards the knob. “Can you take this package for her then?”
Her answer is firm. “No.” The stranger is silent for a long moment. Rose reconsiders her tactical situation. She takes a further step away from the door and takes aim at the near door jamb.
Bloodshed is avoided only by the fact that the man gives up and leaves the package by the door in the hallway. This of course is not enough to satisfy the paranoia of certain players. Rose holsters her weapon, but does not open the door to retrieve the package. She instead begins wiping down any surface she may have touched in the apartment. Cleo quickly follows suit. In the midst of their cleaning efforts, Bea walks through the door carrying takeout and the offending package. Cleo and Rose look up, but then go back to wiping down the apartment.
(GM Notes: ROFLMAO! Overreact much? I don’t mean to point fingers, but certain players are wound a bit too tight. They’re seeing danger in even the most innocuous situations. I’m sure that they thought I was trying to blow them up or do them serious bodily harm. The man at the door was Deacon (D’jamon Deacons). The only person he had any intention of doing something to was Bea, and harming her was the furthest thing from his mind.
Deacon is a friend of Joe. He runs an adult entertainment and novelty boutique in Mitchell. The two are partners in a bootleg braindance operation. Bea first met him on one of her few forays away from the command center. She had accompanied Joe to Deacon’s shop to drop off some pirated braindance programs. Their next encounter took place downstairs at SINDROME. Deacon stopped by to shoot the breeze.
As for the package…during their first meeting Bea had been perusing the merchandise of Deacon’s boutique, while he and Joe took care of their business. She seemed to show interest in a particular ‘marital aid’. Joe and Bea have hit the sheets a couple of times. He shared some of the tails of their escapades with Deacon. After getting assurances from Joe, that they weren’t exclusive, “Playa” thought he’d drop by and get himself a taste. His thinking was, some girls you bring flowers. girls like Bea…well, let’s just say, Deacon almost lost his life for thinking with the wrong head.)
The meal may not compare to those found in an upscale restaurant back in Night City, but it’s hot and fresh. One of the best things about being in South Dakota is that real food is actually reasonably priced. The PCs dig in and enjoy a moment of peaceful contentment, which is all too quickly interrupted by a call from Ken. Cleo looks frustrated as she closes her phone. Ken and Dr. Freeman have hit a little snag in securing office space. Most of the listings in the local (Chamberlain) paper and on the NET are for residential properties. Until Cleo mentioned it, they had not considered contacting a realtor.
Fearing that leaving the job to them (Dr. Freeman and Ken) will only end in disaster, Cleo give Rose a credchip (30,000 euros). She confides, “The doctor can’t remember his asshole from his elbow. If I give this to him he’ll either lose it or blow it”.
Rose will have control over the purse strings for the operation. Cleo wants her to head back to Chamberlain as soon as possible to take control of the situation. Ser will be going as her driver. Before leaving Mitchell, Rose takes Ser to purchase more appropriate attire and weaponry.
Back in Chamberlain, Ken and Dr. Freeman have been in contact with Cross Creak Realtors, one of the three real estate agencies in town. (The other two being Davis Realty and Century 21). There aren’t many properties that meet their specific requirements. The most promising is an old gas station, with two service bays. The property is currently owned by the bank. Although the bank is looking to sell the agent is convinced she can talk them into renting it by the month. Ken and Dr. Freeman tell her they’ll be in touch. One of the problems hampering the search is not knowing how much they have to spend. Cleo never told them their operating budget and neither Ken nor Dr. Freeman thought to ask. Calling it a day, they head back to Conestoga Park
(GM Note: Since they weren’t able to coax Tina out of the Palomino Club, neither saw any reason to waste further money staying at the Cedar Shore Resort.)
On the way back to Chamberlain, Rose has a productive discussion with a real estate agent from Century 21. A new office park is being built near the airport. Several buildings of mixed storage and office space have already been completed. From the sound of it the Drifter can easily fit. It’s actually more space than Ken and Dr. Freeman will need, but it sounds perfect. The agent confides that the builder is having trouble filling the buildings, so monthly rental should be possible. They arrange to meet at the property at 6:30 (pm). After a quick inspection of the facilities, Rose pays a retainer to the agent and heads off to tell Dr. Freeman the good news.
The limo pulls into Conestoga Park in the early evening. Rose exits the vehicle looking slightly miffed. (1) After making sure the vehicle is secure (by ordering a stack of pizzas and distributing them to the feral children), she stride purposefully towards the Drifter.
Dr. Freeman is actually surprised to see her when he opens the door. “What are you doing here?”
Pushing past him into the vehicle, she retorts sarcastically, “I’m here to see if you’ve been raped” (2) She has no intention of discussing anything vital until she has had a chance to scan the Drifter for bugs and set up a white noise generator.
Once satisfied that it’s safe to talk, Rose begins to detail the changes to the original plan (for extracting Tina). Ken takes the news without comment.
Dr. Freeman’s balks at Rose’s mention of securing a property. He can’t help but voice his irritation; exploding in a whiney retort, “We could have used that information before wasting our time looking around.” Rose bites back the venomous response which springs to her lips. She looks at the doctor passively, waiting for a further outburst. Feeling self-conscious, the doctor demands imperiously to see the spec sheet for the property.
While Dr. Freeman and Ken look it over, Rose continues with her explanation. Dr. Freeman needs to fully flesh out his cover. Part of that includes applying for a medical license in South Dakota. Shocked that he may actually have to work to maintain his cover, the doctor exclaims, “You make work hard.”
Rose once again controls her temper and waits for Dr. Freeman’s outrage to subside. Still piqued over the imposition on his important time, he asks in a petulant tone, “After I get the license can we move into the garage (warehouse)?”
She tells them that they can move in once the paperwork is signed.
Satisfied that the issue of the license and the property are settled, Rose moves on to the hard part of the assignment. The doctor has never had the best interpersonal skills, but it hardly matters. Tina is a working girl, so even if Dr. Freeman was Don Juan, he wouldn’t have much of a chance of sweeping her off her feet. He must therefore appeal to her greed. Per Cleo’s instructions, he will become a regular customer. Having had some time to consider their target, who they know is a killer; the doctor has become a little apprehensive.
Rose questions whether he needs a little chemical assistance to counteract performance anxiety. Dr. Freeman assures her that he is all set in that department. Thinking aloud, he muses “I just hope she puts out before she kills me.” Looking at Rose, the doctor adds, “If I die from auto erotic asphyxiation, I’m coming back to haunt you.”
Rose is not entirely sure what it is, but it sounds perverted. Squinching her eyes and shaking her head in disgust, she tells the doctor “TMI” (too much information).
Seeing an opening, Dr. Freeman corrects her, “No, too much information is what you gave the guy the other night.” Catching Rose off balance, he presses the issue. “Why are we after the mayor anyway?”
Attempting to extract herself from the conversation, Rose uses Cleo’s reasoning for grabbing the mayor, “he’s in cahoots with Tina and may be involved in the hijackings”.
Smelling blood, the doctor drives the point home, “So, you told them I plan to eventually run for mayor. The mayor is involved and I’m his potential political rival? I think that I’ll tell them you’re crazy…that I told you I had political aspirations to get into your pants.”
Dr. Freeman lips are contorted in a feral sneer. He has Rose backed into a corner, but seems to forgotten that a cornered animal is the most dangerous of all. It takes a heroic effort and (and several points of luck spent on a COOL roll) not to throttle the doctor. Rose keeps it together long enough to tell him to get ready and that she’ll be waiting in the car. Exiting the Drifter stone faced and rigid, she stiffly walks back to the limo and attempts to compose herself before Dr. Freeman comes out.
Dr. Freeman slips into the back of the limo decked out in a suit. It could almost be called stylish, if it did not appear to have been slept in. The fish tie around his neck does nothing to enhance the ensemble. Inwardly, Rose cringes, but manages to keep it together for the short ride to the Palomino Club, which from Conestoga is about 30 seconds. As Dr. Freeman’s exits the vehicle, she wishes him good luck. Her tone isn’t very convincing. It sounds more like a farewell to a condemned man. Once Ser is back behind the wheel, they retreat to the “safety” of their hotel, to await Dr. Freeman’s call…or a hit team.
(GM Notes: (1) Rose is frustrated by the fact that Ken and Dr. Freeman moved back into Conestoga Park rather than retaining the room at the Cedar Shore Resort.
(2) This is a running joke within the team. It stems from Rose’s altercation in the Clam Shack (waaay back in episode 7). After regaining consciousness and returning to base, she visited the doctor for her injuries. As part of her examination, he offered to make sure she hadn’t been raped while she was out. His lecherous expression and the eagerness in his voice really freaked her out. She confided the incident to Bea and added, that she would rather bleed to death than let him touch her. After Rose’s initial shock wore off, it became a way for the two to ‘raz’ the pervy doctor. Whenever anyone was injured (male or female) they would always ask if he had checked them to make sure they weren’t raped, regardless of the injury.)
Tina answers the door in a satin robe and invites him in with a smile. It’s taken Dr. Freeman 5000 euros to get his foot in the door; not that it bothers him. Cleo’s the one footing the bill. The amount is exorbitant, even by Tina’s standards, but since the doctor hasn’t been forthcoming with who put him on to her services, she views it as a sign of good faith. As the dutiful assistant Rose already taken care of payment. With business already out of the, the two settle in to get to know each other.
The door opens into a small salon. The decorations are conservative. A leather couch and chair take up the middle of the room. Between the two is a low table with several bottles of what must be liquor, accompanied by a bucket of ice. Tina gestures for Dr. Freeman to help himself to the alcohol, as she eases into the chair. She appraises him as he quickly mixes a drink.
“You’re new in town.” The statement catches Dr. Freeman in mid swallow.
Although not a question, he feels the need to clarify, “Nope, I’ve been in town for a couple of weeks.”
Toying with the belt of her robe, Tina asks in a sultry voice, “Who recommended me?”
The doctor is visibly agitated by the question. He breaks eye contact and mumbles half intelligibly, Uh, some guy in the bar”.
Tina pauses and fixes him with a piercing stare. Dr. Freeman has trouble meeting her gaze. The smile creeps back into her lips. “So, what are you into?”
The doctor is a perv, but lacks any true knowledge of bondage or S&M. Having no idea what is expected of a submissive, he tells her, “Surprise me”. Coming around the table, Tina takes off his glasses and starts to undress him.
Unbuckling Dr. Freeman’s belt, she steps backwards towards the bedroom. The belt slowly slipping through the loops of his pants, gives the illusion that she is leading him by a leash. Drawing him to the bed, she sensuously nuzzles around his face and lips. This allows Tina to maneuver Dr. Freeman so his back is to the bed. He allows her to ease him down onto the satin covered mattress, but the illusion is broken by the click of the first wrist restraint.
“Whoa, I’m not into being restrained.” The unease in his voice is obvious. Rather than attempting to coax him into it.
Tina sits up on her haunches across his thighs. All traces of the sultry creature that led him to the bed are gone. In a very business-like manner she states, “Then you have the wrong person”. She starts to get off of him. Fearing more what Cleo will do to him, then what Tina might have in store, Dr. Freeman reconsiders. She even lets him choose his own safe word (Ketchup). After some light flirtation and teasing with feathers, the riding crops and paddles come out.
(GM Note: The rest to the reader’s imagination. I went a little further during the session, just so we could all hear Dr. Freeman scream like a girl and yell “KETCHUP! KETCHUP!” All I’ll say is that the groups running joke may become more of a ‘sore spot” than it was previously.)
While Dr. Freeman is broadening his horizons down the hall Jane (Cleo) is busy entertaining Dick Jones. Instead of her apartment, Dick has rented one of the suites. The session provides a perfect opportunity for to gain intel on one of the team’s potential targets. Cleo sensually disrobes him, caressing his entire body. The stimulation keeps him distracted as she gives him the once over for cyberware. Close physical contact reveals light skinweave which may have otherwise gone unnoticed. The only other obvious cyberware are plugs.
After several hours of frolicking fun, Dick roles out of bed to get cleaned up. While he is busy in the shower, Cleo takes the opportunity to check out his watch and ring. It’s a class ring from Brown (University). The watch, while it looks expensive is only a knock off, but the forgery is top drawer. Cleo surmises, the Dick Jones is a well-educated man with expensive tastes, that he may not be able to afford. The quality of the reproduction indicates that he may have connection or know someone with connections in less than legal businesses…no really new information there. Returning the jewelry to its positions on the nightstand, she greets Dick as he exits the bathroom. He thanks her for a wonderful time, declaring that he definitely wants to see her again. The suite is reserved for the rest of the night. He tells her to enjoy it as he kisses her goodbye and leaves.
Tuesday May 17, 2025:
Tina ‘releases’ Dr. Freeman in the morning. He steps into the limo feeling as rumpled as his suit. Conflicting emotions keep him occupied for the ride into Chamberlain. It is a pleasant change for Rose. A part of her is dying to know what caused the sudden change in attitude, but the great whole is just happy for the peace and quiet. She leaves him to his thoughts.
While Dr. Freeman completes the necessary forms to apply for a medical license in South Dakota, Rose visits their realtor. Chad has spoken to the owner, who is agreeable to a ‘tenant at will’ arrangement. The documents should be ready for signing later that afternoon.
Cleo’s relaxing morning, at the Artemis, is ruined by a call from Bea. She has been running down some leads with the help of Takashi. The paper trails for Dick Jones’ stock purchases all ended in shell companies. The link is tenuous, but it looks as if members may be involved through these shell companies as well. Bea tells her that she has no idea what it means. The board members involvement with the shell companies may be kosher. Dick might just be using the company’s existing fronts to hide his illicit purchase. Then again, they could be in it up to their necks.
After stewing over the implications, Cleo calls Rose. She catches her in the limo. “Can you talk?” The intensity in Cleo’s voice is apparent. Rose’s first instinct is to ask what’s wrong, but she manages to remain calm. “I’m mobile.” At Cleo’s insistence, she raises the divider between her and Ser. No mention is made of the conversation with Bea, as Cleo relates her revisions of the plan to extract Tina to Rose.
She needs to find some way to get the det. cord to Dr. Freeman, so he can blow through the wall of Tina’s room. Cleo has cased the outside of the Palomino Club. The terrain is too open. There is no way that Ken could get close enough to plant charges to breach the wall. Even if he could, the explosion might injure or kill the occupants of the room. The breach has to be made from the inside.
Rose doesn’t know of his skill with explosives, but she is certain of her estimation of his abilities. “You realize he’s incompetent?” Whether she meant it rhetorical or as a serious question matters little. At the moment there are no other options. In hopes of spurring Cleo to action, Rose mentions the cost of this little visit to Tina’s. At 5000 euros a pop, extracting Tina is becoming unprofitable. Cleo is floored by the amount, “What!?” Not wanting to get involved with an argument over money, Rose tells her to take it up with the doctor; which is just what she does.
“I hope it was worth it for 5000 euros.”
The greeting catches Dr. Freeman off guard. He still hasn’t resolved his feelings about last night. Feeling a bit fragile and defensive, he falls back on sarcasm. “Yeah, it was a great time…5000 euros to get my ass kicked.” Cleo lets the issue of money drop and asks about his skills with demolitions. The sudden shift in the conversation keeps the doctor off balance. Not entirely sure where the conversation is heading, he replies self-consciously, “Uh…low.”
Cleo lays out the details. Dr. Freeman can’t believe what he’s hearing. Thinking that he sees a major flaw in her plan, he interrupts her in mid-sentence to demand, “And how am I supposed to get it by the weapon’s check (at the Club)?”
Cleo barks back, “I already have the det. cord past security”, cutting off any further dissension. Brooking no further interruptions, she finishes the briefing. In order for the doctor to have a little bit of a refresher course in demolitions, Cleo tells him to arrange a visit with her before his next session with Tina. She advises him to bring a deck of card, as he shouldn’t expect to get any that evening.
Cleo calls Bea to tell her about the new revisions, to the previous revisions, to the plan that had already revised (confused yet). She worries that the doctor won’t be able to pull it off. Before they get caught up in discussing further revisions, Bea mentions that Takashi had received a call from the ‘Bobs’. They wanted to know what was going on…why he had been called to the meeting and they hadn’t. They seemed to be interested in where the meeting was taking place and who was in attendance. Bea assures her that Takashi didn’t reveal anything. He told the ‘Bobs’ he would give them the details when he returned.
Feeling some loyalty to her new friends, Rose (as Yoko) calls Jill and Jackie to catch up on what’s going on in town. Jill isn’t at home, but Jackie is happy to hear from her. Rose apologizes about her sudden absence. She plays the pouty trophy wife to the hilt, complaining about being stuck in the hotel while her husband is in meetings all day. They discuss getting together once she returns to Chamberlain. Rose slowly works around to her true reason for calling.
“I know that you and Jill said you were buying Conover stock. You might want to consider buying more; quickly. My husband does not normally discuss business in front of me, but I overheard him talking on the phone saying something about the stock bouncing back in a big way.”
Jackie sounds hesitant. When asked, she explains, “It’s just to the lawyer in me…it sounds a little like insider trading”.
Rose does her best to sooth Jackie’s concerns. With a girlish laugh she inquires, “How can it be insider trading, when I’m not a licensed broker?” With no real understanding of the markets, this sounds completely reasonable to her. She is merely trying to help out a friend. Jackie is touched by the innocence of her question. She promises to look into it and the subject turns to what they should do with all of the money they’re going to make.
After hanging up with Jackie, Rose calls Moira. She tells her quickly that they need to meet, but not in town. She doesn’t want to discuss the plans of over the phone, but she is looking for Croft Associates assistance with extracting the mayor. If all goes well, Rose plans to ask Jill and Jackie to arrange the dinner with the mayor. If the stock rallies, he might be happy to hold a victory dinner, since he has been buying the company’s stock as well.
Her high spirits hit a little bit of a snag at the signing. Rose had thought that as Dr. Freeman’s ‘assistant’ she would be able to sign the documents for him. The owner is however insistent, that he must be present. Not willing to let the minor glitch spoil her mood, she quickly calls Dr. Freeman to tell him that she will be by in 10 minutes. The doctor’s phone rings, but it is Ken who answers.
Dr. Freeman is dead tired. Thanks to Tina, he didn’t get much sleep. When his phone starts to ring, rather than answering it, he throws it at Ken, who was napping in a nearby chair. Although he didn’t appreciate being hit with a phone, Ken does answer it. He assures Rose that she did call the right phone number. While she explains that Dr. Freeman has to sign the documents so they can move into the warehouse, Ken busies himself filling a pot from the sink. He promises her they’ll be ready. Hanging up the phone with one hand, he uses the other to throw the pot of ice cold water into the sleeping doctor’s face. Spurting, he comes awake, screaming “KETCHUP! KETCHUP!”
It is a full 20 minutes before Dr. Freeman exits the Drifter and slides into the back of the limo. He is dressed in the same suit, but has opted for a different tie…a trout by the looks of it. They arrive at the meeting late. Rose bows and apologizes stating, “The doctor was finishing up with a patient.” After the paper work is signed and the keys handed over, they call Ken to bring the Drifter to their new digs.
Leaving the two at the warehouse, she has Ser drive her to Mitchell. On the way, she calls to tell Cleo that they are moved in. She is also leaving it up to the doctor to make contact with her (Cleo at the Palomino Club…”If he’s a man, he should be able to do some things for himself.” She leaves out the rest of her comment, so as not to offend Cleo.
(GM Note: The rest of the comment (made out of character) was, “I mean how much skill does it take to coax a whore upstairs with a wad of cash?)
Worry has time to set in on the long drive to Mitchell. Rose calls Dr. Freeman, just to be sure. “Make sure you go to the brothel and sit by the stage”. Hanging up, she sits back with a deep sigh. For the rest of the ride, she tries to decide whether it is fear eating at her or just the beginnings of an ulcer.
Dr. Freeman actually listens and goes to the Palomino Club. Jane (Cleo) plays up the part of coaxing him upstairs to her room. The doctor is really getting into his role (of horny John). Once in her room, he suggests that they do it, “just in case there are any hidden cameras.”
Cleo’s response, “take your clothes off,” has him peeling down in record time. Seeing his eagerness, she quickly puts the breaks on his hormones, explaining that she just needs to see him naked so if it comes up, she’ll be able to describe him.
Dr. Freeman takes one last swing at salvaging something from the evening, “Shouldn’t you take your clothes off so I can describe you as well?”
Cleo concedes to that. She needs him cooperative for the demolitions lesson…although, it may focus his attention on the wrong thing.
Episode 30: IT’S NOT PARANOIA IF THEY REALLY ARE OUT TO GET YOU
Wednesday May 18, 2025:
The demolition lesson goes smoothly, but raises doubts of Dr. Freeman’s ability to actually set the charges. If he can’t set the charge the extraction is doomed before it even starts. Cleo had hoped to minimize her involvement, so that she could maintain her cover, but it looks as if she’ll need to take a more direct hand in the operation. She has Rose call the Palomino Club and arrange another ‘session’ for the doctor on Friday. In addition to Tina’s services, Cleo directs her to also ask for Jane (Cleo’s cover identity).
Satisfied that Rose will take care of the arrangements, she jumps on her bike and heads into Chamberlain. The flashing lights of a police cruiser, at the side of the road, catch her eye as she crosses the bridge into town. It does not appear to be a normal traffic stop. The driver of the car is standing in front of the cruiser with his hands on the hood and his legs spread. He is being watch by one cop while another is searching his car. She isn’t able to get a good look at the driver, but there’s something familiar about him. (1)
Moira calls to invite Rose to lunch. Croft Associates is pulling out today. Rose is surprised, but holds her questions. Better to ask them face to face. Lance and Conrad stop by to pick her up. As they drive back to the Cedar Shore Resort, Rose notes the bags and equipment already packed in the back of the Humvee. The time is only about 11 am. Except for the servers and wait staff, the dining room is deserted. The remaining members of Croft Associates have taken seats around a large circular table in the corner of the room. Their hushed conversation ceases as the three approach.
Lance takes a seat to the left of Prichard. Conrad pulls out a chair, directly across from Erica, offering it to Rose. Once she is seated, he slides into a chair next to her. Although the members of Croft Associates are all smiles, there is an air of tension around the table. Rose cuts to the chase, “So, I have to make other arrangements?” She had been expecting the team to assist her in extracting the mayor.
As an answer, Erica flatly states, “Our job is done”, quickly adding in a southern drawl, “Best git while the gittin’s good.” (2)
After pausing, to let her words sink in, Erica launches into the reason for the lunch. She wants to offer Rose a position in Croft Associates. Although not voiced, it does appear she is looking for an immediate answer. Rose had suspected that Erica might offer her a job, but the abruptness of the offer catches her by surprise. As much as she would like to go with them, she tells Erica that she is currently under contract. Rose gives Erica her real number, so that they can stay in touch, until she is no longer under contract (or she can find a way out of it).
With the job offer out of the way the mood around the table is more relaxed. They enjoy a leisurely lunch, but Croft Associates eventually has to hit the road. Rose walks with them to their vehicles. Before getting in the Humvee, Moira gives her a big hug. Leaning in, as if to kiss Rose’s cheek, she urgently whispers, “I’d get out of town.” The look in her eyes is deadly serious. Turning back toward the car, Moira gives one last wave and Croft Associates drives off.
Later that afternoon, Jackie calls to chat. She asks whether Rose will be back by Friday. Rose is non-committal, but tells her that it’s likely. Jackie tells her that she and Jill took her advice and purchased more stock in Conover. She worriedly adds, “I hope you don’t mind, but we passed the stock tip onto the mayor.” He had been the one that had originally talked them into buying Conover stock.
The stock tip had been the clincher in their real estate negotiations. They are going to the Mayor’s on Friday for dinner and to sign the papers. “I told him where the tip came from, and he’d like you to come to dinner as a thank you.”(3) Since this plays directly into Rose plans for getting close to the mayor, she readily agrees. Jackie is ecstatic, “wonderful, we’ll send the car around to pick you up.”
Rose leaves a message for Cleo about her Friday night dinner plans. She also confirms that Dr. Freeman is all set for Friday. “It’s already been paid for, so he better show. It cost another 5000 euros, but since your one of the girls, you’ll probably be seeing some of that money back.” Rose neglects to mention (or intentionally omits) the warning from Croft Associates.
Jose finally has his new fake SIN. For the time being, he is Frank Acosta. To ‘welcome’ him back to Chamberlain and make amends for previous misunderstandings (see last episode) Rose takes Frank (Jose) to the Cedar Shore Resort for dinner…”You have to eat, so why not eat well?” The money comes from the bank roll Cleo fronted to establish Dr. Freeman’s cover. Since she’s been doing most of the ground work, Rose doesn’t feel Cleo would begrudge her a nice meal.
Sated and mellowed by the extravagant meal, Rose has Ser drive back to the hotel. She plans to call it an early evening, but their limo is intercepted by a car hurtling through the intersection against the red. The accident was completely the fault of the other driver. The car was driving with its headlights off and ran the signal. Still, Ser could have avoided the accident. He was unfortunately too busy conversing with Rose and Jose in the back seat (4). A shouted warning from Rose came too late.
The car rammed into the front wheel well of the limo. The force of the impact and Ser’s unsuccessful attempt to avoid the crash caused the limo to flip. It came to rest on its roof. Crawling out of the wreckage, Rose surveys the scene. The vehicle that hit them is still upright, but severely damage. As she walks over to check the driver, she thinks she hears sirens, but it could just be the ringing in her ears. The driver is a mess. There is blood everywhere. Though his face is obscured by the gore, Rose recognizes him. He’s one of the Militech operatives that Croft Associates had told them about.
The vehicle is suddenly bathed in light, as two police cruisers pull up to the scene. (5) The officers pull their sidearms as they exit the cruisers. Seeing that the driver is incapacitated they holster their weapons. One returns to the cruiser to call for assistance, while the second, moves to make sure that the PCs are all right. Ser is crawling from the wreck. Jose, while not injured, is trapped in the back of the limo. His leg is stuck. With each passing moment, he becomes more and more agitated. With a tearing sound, his leg comes free. Luckily it was only the material of his pants leg, which had been snagged in the wreckage. Calmer now that he’s free, Jose is able to crawl from the vehicle.
Rose spots a car watching the scene from a side street. From this distance, she is unable to make out the make or color of the vehicle. As more cruisers and emergency vehicles begin to arrive, it drives away. Rose reaches for her phone, only to realize that it is no longer in her pocket. Against the protestations of the police officer, she climbs back into the limo to find it…
Stepping out of earshot, Rose calls Militech’s office in Pierre, SD (making sure to ditch her Japanese accent before speaking). Instead of waiting to work her way up to a supervisor or someone in charge, she unloads the story on the first person to answer the phone, “One of your operatives is currently being extracted by dirty cops.” The person on the other end of the phone is decidedly confused, but Rose forges ahead giving the location of the incident. She quickly hangs up and deletes the call from her phone.
(GM Note: The player commented out of character, that Rose assumes Militech records calls made to its offices. So, even if the receptionist didn’t get everything the first time through, they could listen to the recording. If the call wasn’t recorded, how many operatives could they have working in Chamberlain, SD.)
Her next call is to Dr. Freeman. She lets him know that they have been in an accident and that she plans to go to the medical center to get checked out. This ruffles his professional ‘feathers’. He tells her that he can check her out, even offering to send Ken to pick them up. Rose is adamant that she is going to the med. center. She doesn’t want to let the Militech operative out of her sight. She suggests to Ser and Jose that they should come along to get checked out as well. Both insist that they are fine, not taking the hint. She calls them a cab before being taken to the medical center by ambulance (deducting the cost from Cleo’s front money).
Her cursory examination of the driver had not allowed her to assess how badly he was injured. When they arrive at the med center she is surprised to overhear, “patient is suffering from multiple GSW (gun shot wounds)” among the litany of injuries being rattled off as the operative is rushed through the emergency room to surgery. Knowing that she can’t follow him into the operating room, allows herself to be led to curtained area, where she is asked to wait for a doctor to examine her. She fakes dizziness and pain during the examination so that she will be admitted for observation.
Trying to gauge how long the Militech operative may be in surgery, she waits till the middle of the night to have a look around. Rather than changing back into her clothes she remains in her hospital gown. If anyone catches her in the hallways, she intends to feign confusion…possibly a sign of trauma from the accident. The operative is not in the ICU as she first expected. He has instead been placed in a private room with a police officer outside the door. Luckily his room is on the same floor as hers.
Rose’s intention is to sneak into his room through the window. The problem is that the windows are not designed to open far enough to allow a normal person to climb out. Luckily, Rose isn’t a normal person. With a little work on the window hinges and some contortions (hooray for leet ninja skills) she is able to work her way out onto the small ledge and down to the Militech operative’s room. The window to the room is not open, but with some outstanding rolls, Rose is able to jimmy the simple lever mechanism. Fiddling with the hinges from this side of the window is much easier. She is able to detach the lower part of the window. Carefully placing it in the room, she quietly follows. Keeping low, she heads for the door, to make sure the police officer is still there. Satisfied that her entry had not been heard, she makes her way to the bed to assess the patient.
The operative is pale. His chest and left arm are mummified in bandages. Although his breathing is shallow, there is no telltale gurgling. He is also not on a respirator. There is however an IV in his arm and he appears to be hooked up to a heart monitor. He is also cuffed to sides of the bed. The cuffs are not a problem. The main issue is the heart monitor. Thankfully, its wireless, but Rose isn’t sure about the range of the signal or if exertion (on the part of the patient) will cause an alarm to sound at the nurses’ station. Rose attempts to wake the operative, but he is heavily sedated. This makes worrying about the monitor less of an issue, but increases the difficulty of escape.
Searching the room, she finds some extra sheets in the closet. Although they are only on the second floor, Rose isn’t sure how much jostling the operative can take. There aren’t enough sheets to lower him to the ground, but she is able to fashion a sling. It’s difficult and time consuming, but Rose is able to lower the operative towards the ground. Reaching the end of the sheet, she allows his weight to pull her slowly out the window. Even fully stretched, with just her feet hooked inside the window frame, he is still about a foot off the ground. Rose decides she has to chance it, and lets the operative fall the remaining foot. Unhooking her feet, she lands in a tumbling roll joining him below.
Picking the operative up in a fireman’s carry, she takes off in the direction of the team’s warehouse (through high grass). It is a relatively short distance. She leaves the operative in the care of the team, and then tries to slip back into her the medical center. Unfortunately, there are two police cars out front. While trying to make it back to her room she is noticed by an orderly. Making perfunctory excuses, she continues down the hall. She is aware however, that the orderly was looking at her feet, which are covered in dirt and grass. The bottom half of her hospital gown is also wet from the dew which had collected on the grass.
Thursday May 19, 2025:
Cleo checks her messages. Rose’s message leaves her feeling hopeful, that the group might just be able to pull off the extractions. The second message leaves a hole in the pit of her stomach. The rental agency called to ask if she is still interested in the AV. This is disturbing, because Bea was supposed to have finalized the contract already. Aggravated and a bit worried, Cleo calls Bea. There is no answer. Alarms start going off in her head.
Cleo drives to Mitchell, just to be sure. It is nearly 11 am by the time she arrives. SINDROME is dark. A CLOSED sign hangs in the window. Casing the place before approaching, she notices that the front of the building is being watched from across the street. Cleo is still deliberating over what to do, when she receives a call from Rose, who fills her on the excitement of the previous evening. Rose also tells her that Croft Associates has pulled out. Cleo asks where she is currently.
After being released from the med. Center Rose took a cab to the hotel to change. Cleo informs her that Bea has “fallen off the face of the earth” and that the command center in Mitchell is being watched. “Looks like we’ve been sold down the river.”
She warns Rose to be careful. After hanging up, Cleo races back to Chamberlain to clean out the safe house. (6)
Rose calls a cab and heads for to the warehouse. Enroute, she notices that they are being followed. Afraid that she might lead them to the rest of the group, she has the cabby take her to the Cedar Shore Resort instead. The cab drives away, but the trailing car remains in the parking lot of the Resort. Formulating and rejecting several plans, Rose calls the cab to pick her up. The car begins to tail them again as they leave the Resort. Desperate, Rose tells the cabbie that she is being followed by her ex-husband. “How much to ditch him.” Before the cabby can answer she plunks down 200 euros. It’s a wild ride and Rose is force to hold on for dear life, and cough up another 200 euros, but the cabby loses their pursuit.
It looks as if they’re in the clear, till the radio comes alive. “Dooley, this is Mike, have you dropped off your fair yet?”
Dooley looks meaningfully at Rose. Without hesitation, she drops another 200 euro on the seat. With a wink and a smile, the cabbie picks up the microphone, “Yeah, I dropped her off at Artemis about 5 minutes ago.” This answer seems to satisfy ‘Mike’. Dooley turns to Rose and asks, “so where to?”
Having already decided on her course of action when leaving the Resort, her answer is decisive, “Mitchell.” Satisfied that she is safe for the moment, Rose calls Ken, to break the bad news to the rest of the team.
Rather than bursting directly into the safe house, Cleo gives the area a thorough inspection in stealth gear. (7) It appears that it’s being watched as well. Unwilling to leave her equipment, she decides to see who is keeping tabs on the place. Crouching outside the door to the apartment, she can make out at least two voices inside. There is a sudden shout from inside and the sounds of a flurry of activity. (8). The noise is quickly approaching the door. Cleo has to jump out of the way and hang on for dear life as three armed men boil out of the doorway.
They don’t seem to have noticed her and are instead making for the car in the driveway. Cleo allows the vehicle to get out of sight before dropping back down onto the landing outside the door. Although in a hurry, the men remembered to lock it. The lock is fairly standard and easily picked. The door opens into a kitchen. Cleo is searching the kitchen for any intel, when she hears the toilet flush. A man enters the kitchen, walks over to the counter and begins to make a sandwich. She would like to question the man, but is pressed for time. Sneaking up behind him, she strikes him with all of her might at the base of the skull, killing him instantly.
A quick survey of the house reveals that no one else is home. There is however some sophisticated surveillance gear set up in the other room facing the safe house. Making sure that all recording devices are shut off, Cleo retraces her steps and uses the thermite charge she had prepared for Tina’s extracton, to burn through the wall into the safe house. Once inside, she can see that electric eyes were set up on either side of the door. When the door opened, it would break the beam and notify the watchers. Quickly packing her belongings, she exits the safe house and puts some distance between her and the building.
Cleo tries to reach Bea one last time and actually succeeds. Bea tells her that something has gone horribly wrong. She had to flee from the command center. She wants to set up a rendezvous. Cleo is skeptical, but keeps it out of her voice. They arrange to meet at the mall in Mitchell. The time for the meet passes and Bea never shows. Cleo is however able to pick out several individuals who appear to be loitering around the area. It smells like a setup. (8)
Leaving the area, she jumps into the NET to call Ken and Rose. Ken, Dr. Freeman, Ser, Jose and the Militech operative made it out of the warehouse without any problems. They did however see police with (scent) dogs coming in their general direction. Cleo tells them that if they are contacted by Bea to ignore it. It’s probably not her. “Bea’s been made. I set up a meet and there were bad men waiting for me. Get everybody to the Mitchell airport.” She tells them to meet her at the hanger and advises them to remove the batteries from their cell phones once the call ends.
Rose has Dooley drop her off in Mitchell on a street corner, she walks several blocks before calling for new cab (a Mitchell cab) to driver her to the airport. The team finally assembles at the hanger. The reason for their current location is now clear. The Wyvern that Cleo had purchased is being stored there…perhaps for just such an eventuality. The Drifter is too big to fit in the cargo hold, so the team quickly strips it down, taking all of the medical supplies and equipment. As an afterthought, Cleo gives the vehicle the once over with a tech scanner and bug detector. There is a homing beacon that is now active. The Drifter is left curbside in front of the airport, with the keys in it, running.
Cleo begins to file a flight plan. She wants to fly to Vegas, but Dr. Freeman is vehemently opposed. He reminds her of the District Attorney who wants him to testify (see episode 19). They instead head for Reno, taking the Militech operative with them. Cleo says she knows some people who work for Militech and suggests there might be a finder’s fee for returning him safe and sound. Lifting off from the runway, they shake the dust of South Dakota off their boots.
(GM Notes: (1) He’s one of the Militech operatives that has been investigating the hijackings. Croft Associates had passed along the information they had on the operatives to the players.
(2) Erica was using the southern accent as an affectation to stress what she is saying, namely that Rose and her team should really consider leaving town. Croft Associates didn’t know the full extent of Conover’s involvement or what they were planning to do, but their employer (Channing & Chase) had stressed that they (Croft Associates) should leave as quickly as possible.
(3) The mayor is not in on the hijackings, but he is involved in the larger maneuvers by certain members of the Conover board of directors. When Mashiro (Takashi) disappeared to some clandestine meeting with Brexton Brands, the conspirators feared that their plot had been discovered. Rose was invited to dinner to see what she knew. Jill and Jackie were completely in the dark about the plot. They were just going to dinner to finalize of the land purchase deal.
(4) The player botched both his Awareness / Notice and Driving skill rolls.
(5) The officers had been chasing the Militech operative. The dirty cop was the one who had shot him. This was being done with the knowledge of the mayor. The Militech operatives in Chamberlain were working for Brexton Brands. The conspirators wanted them out of the way, while they tied up loose ends (like the party). They were being rounded up under suspicion of domestic terrorism.
(6) The safe house had been set up by Bea. Since Conover security had grabbed her, they had access to all of her records, including the location of the safe house. Bea had not been involved in acquiring the warehouse for Dr. Freeman. Conover didn’t know about it. Ken and Dr. Freedman’s last known location was Conestoga Park, which was being watched.
(7) Cleo’s stealth suit is listed in the Resources/Equipment/Stealth Suits tab on this site. It is the proto-type Grey Shadow Sneak Suit.
(8) Cleo is certain that either Bea, her mother or possibly both of them have betrayed the team…but more on that below.)
The team makes it to Reno. Cleo makes arrangements for Militech officials to ‘pick up’ their operative at the local hospital. After locating a private airport at which to store the Wyvern, they returned to Night City. Rose asks Cleo to line up another DNA alteration shot, since her DNA is now most likely on record in the Chamberlain Medical Center. She decides to get out of the city for the time being and heads for Seattle to visit her boyfriend. Although they had to run for their lives and did not receive the full pay for the mission, the medical supplies and equipment that they had stripped from the drifter more than made up for the short fall.
Monday May 24, 2025:
The balance of the money promised to the team by Bea’s mother is deposited to their drop account. AGRESTA uses the shares they have purchased and a successful PR campaign (winning other shareholders to their side) to force out the current board of Brexton Brands. The acquisition still isn’t finalized, but a new board much more agreeable to a merger is voted in.
Wednesday, May 26, 2025:
Conover stock bounces back with news of a break in the truck hijacking case. Bill Dryer a former supervisor for Conover in Chamberlain has turned state’s evidence for a reduced sentence. He implicates 48 members of a smuggling ring operating out of central South Dakota. Of those named, 23 are members of the Vandal’s biker gang.
Cleo receives a call from Bea. She is still a little suspicious about her involvement in the betrayal, so she plays it close to the vest. “Hey, how are you?”
Sounding thoroughly pissed, Bea retorts, “I’ve just spent the past week in a holding cell. How d’ya think I’m doing?”
“Yeah he’s alive.”
“Talked to your mother lately?”
“Why do you think he’s alive?”
Bea relates the sordid details of their capture. Conover security had moved on the command center in the middle of the night. It seems that the insurance company (Channing & Chase) had made a deal with the board members involved in the plot. They had handed over Bill in return for Conover dropping all claims for the lost vehicles. They had also divulged the existence of the investigation started by Bea’s mother. When confronted by the plotters, she had agreed to help them, so long as her daughter was safely extracted from the situation. Since Takashi was a known member of the team they had grabbed him too, rather than just killing him. Joe wasn’t as lucky. After the team had successfully escaped Chamberlain, pursuing them would only draw more attention to the situation. They decided to instead allow the payment and hope that it purchased their silence. Even if it didn’t, proving what happened would be difficult, since most of the evidence and people involved were now either missing, dead or destroyed. Once she was finally allowed to speak with her mother Bea had secured their release.
GM Notes: And what was gained from all this? Conover was previously a subsidiary of Brexton Brands. Brexton Brands had controlling shares in the company. Fearful that stock in Conover would be sold to stave off AGRESTA’s hostile takeover, conspirators within the board of directors devised a scheme to drive down the stock price. With the stock devalued, it wouldn’t be worthwhile for Brexton Brands to sell it. Those board members, who had stock options and shares in Brexton Brands, could trade shares for ones in Conover. The devaluation of Conover stock made it close to a 2 for 1 swap. Conestoga was able to save itself from being sold off and broken up. Bea’s mother had started the investigation under the assumption that the hijackings were being perpetrated by an outside agency. She was just trying to save her job (by preventing the dissolution of Conover) Throwing her lot in with the conspirators, achieved this goal. It also garnered her a generous bump in salary.
The sale of the land to Jill and Jackie was a scheme by the mayor to generate additional capital so that he could purchase additional stock. Once the stock rebounded, he would put the original money back into the town coffers and pocket the difference. The hijacking had been used to drive down the stock price, but like the mayor’s scheme, were a way to generated additional capital quickly, in order to purchase Conestoga stock through several shell companies.
Well, that’s the end of the Chamberlain story arch. Hope you enjoyed it. Now it’s on to the HOT WAR and the next leg of the Killer Bees’ adventures.