Episode 5 – A Memorable Memorial Day Weekend
Thursday, May 27, 2027
About 4 pm, there was a knock on the door to Doyle’s lodge. Dr. Shamal answered the door. There were two well-dressed men in suits wearing LawDiv badges standing on the porch, and about a half a dozen other people just off the porch wearing LawDiv Crime Scene Investigator’s jackets. One of the men at the door asked if this was Doyle O’Leary’s current residence. Doyle came to the door and said yes, it was his place. The men handed him a warrant and announced they had a federal warrant to search the premises. Also, they had a warrant for the arrest of one James Stiles on espionage charges. They told Doyle to step out of the door, and they and the forensics team came in. Everyone who was in the house was ordered into the living room. Doyle, Cid, Mickey, Dr. Shamal and James, who was now in a disguise, came into the living room.
As the agent in charge set his men to work searching the house, James tried to walk outside for a “cigarette”, but was not allowed to leave. Everyone was instructed to put their weapons on the table, and all who were carrying one complied except James who kept his. Everyone was then asked to produce identification. All did except James, who claimed to have misplaced his. The agent looked at him and replied, “Please Mr. Stiles, we know who you are. When you registered your weapons in town a thermal scan was taken of you.”
So far the raid had been a polite affair since Doyle has a certain celebrity status. James waited for his moment, pulled his pistol and shot the agent by the door. He then grappled the LawDiv agent next to him and pushed his gun up against the temple of the hapless Fed. The surprised police drew down and a number of the Team hit the floor. Most of the agents had their guns on James, but a few turned their weapons on Mickey whose physical size and menacing attitude made them nervous.
James shouted for the officers to back off and get away from the door. The chief agent, who was grappled, shouted to his men not to shoot, he wanted a live suspect. The tension was broken by Mickey who reached for his gun on the table. Mickey took four 10mm rounds in the chest from two agents, but his Nietzschean physique kept him on his feet. To the shock of the LawDiv agents the huge hand cannon he carried swung past them towards James. The electro thermal .666 round blew an almost fist sized hole through James Stiles’ head. His brains splattered the wall around the newly formed hole where the bullet had left the building. Mickey then dropped his weapon.
The cops screamed at the Super Solo, “What the hell are you doing?”
Mickey answered back coolly, “Saving the officer’s life.”
The raid now became a very ‘unfriendly’ affair. Everybody’s gear was checked and double-checked. All linen and bed sheets were stripped off the beds and bagged for DNA analysis. All electronics were taken apart then reassembled (for the most part). With the exception of some questionably legal weapons in Doyle’s AV there was nothing illegal in the house. The weapons were a local matter, and the Feds just took James’ assault rifle.
The Feds took Doyle aside and asked him if he had flown Sylvania away from the hospital. He freely admitted that he did. James had identified himself as a LawDiv agent, and produced identification to prove it. James told Doyle that he and Sylvania were undercover and needed to get her out of the hospital. When James rented an AV with a government cred chip why should he have doubted him? There wasn’t much the Feds could say to that. By 11 pm the LawDiv agents had evacuated the house and left. They did arrest Mickey and brought him in for questioning.
Meanwhile, Jose and Caitlin had flown back to Night City to pick up Thor for the Furry Convention. They also left any automatic weapons that were illegal back in that NorCal city. They returned to the Day’s Rest Inn in Carson, BC. They checked the news while they moved in for their weekend stay, and saw that there had been a fire at the old VA facility outside of Danville that afternoon. It was rumored to be an illegal meth lab.
Caitlin made an exhaustive search for information on the local power plant. Later that night Jose dropped her near the plant and she moved in to run a covert surveillance on the place. She got up on the roof and found a roof hatch. Unfortunately, the hatch had just been forced open. Someone was already breaking in to the power plant! She decided that two teams breaking into the same place was one team too many and since whoever was in there had broken in first, they could have it. She returned to the hotel, and prepared a report for Mr. Chen before going to sleep.
Friday, May 28, 2027
Mr. Chen, who had alerted by the Collective, hurried back from Indonesia to rectify the crumbling situation. However, when he landed in Seattle early in the morning and tried to come through passport control, he was detained by Federal authorities. They grilled him on the issue of James Stiles, Sylvania and where they came from. They had no evidence linking the fixer to the specific incidents so the Feds had been unable to get a warrant to brain dance or drug him for the information. . Chen was cool and had plausible and provable answers. The frustrated agents tore apart his luggage and went so far as to strip search him. Out came the rubber gloves and the anal probes. Chen made note of the names of the perpetrators of this intolerable assault on his person. They would be dealt with in time. There was nothing they could hold him on legally although they could have refused him entry into the United States. If they did they would lose any chance of getting valuable intelligence from following him, so after a couple of hours they finally released him and let him into the country. Mr. Chen proceeded to Danville and got there just before noon.
(LawDiv has interpreted the situation, as they know it, in an interesting way. Unknown to the Team, the next group booked for the weekend at the Danville Hotel and Convention Center was the Annual Northwest Forensics Conference. Top CSI’s from the area along with experts from all over the world, would be meeting to exchange their latest discoveries and techniques. The Feds were operating under the assumption that Mr. Chen, who was well known for dealing with many “shady” people and organizations, was trying to slip one of his operatives into a major LawDiv forensics team. The ‘genetic abnormalities’ of Sylvania and James’ identical DNA, fingerprints and retinal scan to their man was seen as proof that Chen had access to illegal bio-genetic technology. Well, their ‘proof’ was considered only wild, unsubstantiated rumor by the panel of judges and legal AI’s that reviewed the request for a brain dance warrant that the Feds had sought for Mr. Chen.)
The morning news in Danville rocked the town. The fire at the old VA facility had destroyed an illegal meth lab that was linked to Mafia operations in the area. So far, at least ten bodies had been pulled from the rubble. There had also been a break in at the power plant in town and one of the turbines had been damaged. This had lowered the available power to the area and brown outs were expected. It was of interest that this became an immediate political issue. The Liberal Party of British Columbia and the NPP (of British Columbia) attacked the ruling New Blood Party and accused them of being unable to protect the assets of the City of Carson. The Democratic and Republican Parties of Washington jumped on the bandwagon. They also declared that the New Blood Party couldn’t be trusted to look after American interests. The speed with which this coordinated political offensive was launched seemed suspicious. The New Blood Party was a local group that had pioneered the unusual cooperation between Danville, WA and Carson, BC. This political party existed on both sides of the border, and controlled both cities.
Caitlin went to her Bodycure appointment early in the morning at the Danville Hotel and Convention Center. She came out with a shining 10 ATTR for the weekend. While she was there, she looked at the hotel’s schedule for the next few weeks. The next weekend was the Northwest Forensics Conference. Oh great, she thought, a hotel full of cops! The following week was, of course, Mr. Chen’s corporate retreat. The third weekend was Arasaka’s first western hemispheric conference since the Fourth Corporate War. (Arasaka was banned from doing business in the United States for two years. This ban will end on January 1, 2028. Since the hotel is on both Canadian and American territory, the United States government has approved the conference to smooth relations with the new Japanese government and as a carrot for Arasaka’s recent “good corporate behavior”.) After Arasaka would be a Biotechnica conference entitled “Better Living Through Bio-engineering”.
(It should be noted that the Super Solos or Nietzscheans were created by the Bio-Eugenics Corporation, which was a corporation secretly founded by both Arasaka and Biotechnica, as a front to develop the perfect corporate operative.)
When Caitlin returned to their hotel in Carson, Chen called Jose and informed them that there was an emergency Team meeting at the lodge…..now! Thor, Jose and Caitlin got into the spinner and went to Doyle’s lodge.
Chen arrived at the lodge and met with Doyle to get the low down on what had been occurring in his absence. During this meeting Mickey returned to the house. He had just been released from LawDiv custody. Mickey was very unhappy as LawDiv had decided to keep his pistol for “further testing”. The Super Solo had had the pistol for years and it had great sentimental value. Both of the remaining Super Solos from Mickey’s Team had also returned. Each gave their report. The first had checked the VA hospital and had found the meth lab. He had destroyed it and killed everyone he could find.
(Well, a new player character was needed at this point, since Mickey had assisted James in his bid for ‘suicide by cop’, so he took over the remaining Super Solo member of Mickey’s Team, named Gwendolyn Ford for the session.)
Gwen reported that Samantha Grizzly, Adam Grizzly’s wife, was offering a 100,000-eb reward for anyone who could find her husband (or return his body). The Nietzschean also learned that Adam was ex-military. The man was a world-class hunter and outdoorsman, who had hunted around the world. There was no way that a simple bear would have taken him out.
It was decided that Gwen would be transferred to Chen’s team for the rest of this mission. James’ call for assistance from the Collective had forced them to pull people already on assignment in the United States. Gwen’s cover as a Mob accountant in Detroit was probably blown. She had been diverting Mob funds into the Super Solo’s accounts to fund their activities. Mickey had been undercover as a Mafia enforcer in Las Vegas. This had peaked LawDiv’s interest, especially since a Mob meth lab had been torched while he was in town. Fortunately, he had an ironclad alibi for that time. One of the members of Mickey’s Team was also involved in the Las Vegas scene, and the other was working on an important project on the west coast of the United States. All of these missions had been jeopardized by the fiasco in Danville.
Next the subject of the Team’s lack of a dedicated netrunner was addressed. The Super Solos had no one available from their ranks for the job. Doyle remembered that one of his pit crew’s girlfriend, Frankie (Francis) Mumba, was a netrunner. She was not a member of the O’Leary Clan, but was trusted enough so he recommended her. They called her in and quickly settled on a contract with her. Mickey and his partner then left for Las Vegas to try to salvage the situation there.
(Due to her extensive injuries, Sylvania would be at least a month if not much longer before she would be able to rejoin the group. Also, her actions so far had indicated that she needed much more training before she could be trusted on a job this sensitive. So, the player brought in a new character, Frankie Mumba, the netrunner.)
The Crystar Falcon Spinnercoupe arrived with the three from the hotel and after a security sweep the Team had a meeting. Caitlin, Jose and Thor were informed of the fact that they were looking for a bio-geneticist and not a gang of bio-chemical terrorists. The three felt that the Furry Convention was then an excellent place to start their investigation. What better place to look for biogenetic constructs! Of course, as far as Caitlin and Thor were concerned it was just a great excuse to go to one of their favorite pastimes. However, the reasoning was sound and this line of “investigation” became that three’s primary mission for the weekend.
After this meeting broke up, Doyle, Frankie (who was also a backup member of the pit crew), and Dr. Shamal went to the track to prepare for Monday’s race. Cid returned to his shop in town to continue working on Doyle’s new set of custom motor-cross armor, and make sure that the equipment that had just been delivered was set up right. Caitlin, Jose and Thor returned to the Furry Convention to begin their “investigation”.
Jose needed a costume, so he went to the large number of vendors to purchase one. Due to the location of this convention and the recent publicity it seemed the latest rage was a Mythic costume of “Bigfoot”! The solo bought himself a level three costume of this type. This outfit had a plug in for an interface plug, which allowed a complete control of all the costume’s functions. Caitlin slipped on her fury black thong, attached her (prehensile) tail with strips of fur spirit gummed to hide the cable and applied her body paint and cat make up. Thor put on his werewolf costume from Las Vegas, so he was immediately recognized as the hero, who had helped repel the Blood Razor assault on the Las Vegas Convention two years ago.
(This occurred during our Fourth Corporate War Campaign in Episode 50. It was a pretty funny session. Follow the link below if you want to give it a read.)
The three ran into Dr. Francis (Big Bear) Fortin. He was a military cyborg (Dragoon) that had helped Thor fight off the Blood Razor assault. “Big Bear” was a full conversation ursine cyborg with hydraulic rams and very large claws. He was there with two other members of his unit: Fox and Wolf. Dr. Fortin had come up with a new method of dealing with cyber psychosis by “channeling” your spirit animal. He would be giving a speech tomorrow on the subject so the three all promised to attend.
Thor walked around and basked in the admiration of not only the other Mythics, but of many of the other convention attendees. Jose found the ‘Bigfoot’ room in which a dozen of these new mythics were playing Bigfoot games. They had a “human” dummy that you could charge and measure the damage in foot-pounds. Another dummy had a head you could rip off. It also measured the force of the attack, and it screamed to when you pulled its head off. All the assembled Bigfoots thought this was a riot, but this put off a number of the convention attendees. One “Bigfoot” measured almost 13 feet tall, and was a full conversation borg. This mythic easily became master of the Bigfoot Games. Caitlin went to all the feline meetings and lapped up her favorite drink: warm milk laced with catnip, and signed up for amateur night (Friday) at Miss Kitty’s Playhouse, a furry strip club. She made several hundred euros in tips there. She was constantly hit upon unless she was with Jose, but politely rebuffed all advances to ‘yiff’. Oh yes, they all occasionally looked for signs of a biogenetic scientist.
In the evening Doyle, Dr. Shamal, Frankie, her boyfriend went to the Furry Convention. There they ran into Thor, Caitlin and Jose. Caitlin had her tail tickle Frankie’s boyfriend. Frankie’s iron grip made her boyfriend winch, when she perceived he was enjoying the flirtation a little too much. The racing crowd quickly decided that the conventioneers were a bunch of freaks and returned to the lodge.
Chen decided to check out the area in the far east of the Colville National Forest. If something was pushing the bear population in this direction, the answer might be located near there. He brusquely rejected Gwen’s offer to go with him and prepared for a multi-day reconnaissance.
After taking the time to try to remove as much scent on his suit as possible, Chen headed off into the forest. He kept his speed down to a crawl so as to maximize his suit’s stealth capability. The Super Solo did not sleep at all and went through the night into the next day looking for signs of the Yeti or anything that might indicate their target.
Saturday, May 29, 2027
World News Service feed
USA and EU Sign Accord to Put Down Mars Rebellion
At a news conference in Strasbourg, France, American Vice President Roger Hargrove and EU President Reinhart Schroeder announced the formation of a joint space task force scheduled to depart before the end of June to put down the rebellion on the Mars colonies. The three-vessel fleet will be led by the recently launched EUS Strasbourg, the largest space vessel ever built. The American gunship USS Constellation and the newly launched space carrier USS Lexington will round out the squadron. This task force is scheduled to reach the Red Planet in October, 2028. Overall command of the operation will be under French Admiral Daynes. German General Heinz Richter will command the ground operation. USAF General Mason Talbot will be second in command of the operation.
There has already been much negative reaction in the United States to the almost total European command of the operation. Vice President Hargrove, who negotiated the agreement, declared command decisions were based on the total tonnage of the fleet where the EUS Strasbourg weights more than both United States ships combined. Ninety percent of the landing force will consist of EU troops.
Political pundits in Washington believe that the Vice President has taken point on this project to position himself for a run to replace retiring President Elizabeth Kress next year. The rebel Martian fleet is believed to consist of a few OTV’s and maybe a couple of hand built deltas. Any fighting will be dirt side where the Europeans will do the bulk of the fighting. Some are saying that this is smart politics by Hargrove as he will be able to bask in the victory over the rebels at little or no cost the United States, which will come just before the elections.
All throughout the day Chen continued his slow and deliberate search of the forest. With the exception of signs around the previous sightings there was no evidence of the creature. He occasionally sighted a lone bear or deer, but otherwise it was an uneventful day. The Super Solo decided to continue his search deeper into the woods than any previous sightings. By 8 pm, tiredness was beginning to overtake him so he turned on his Endorphin Surge Chip to keep awake and fresh. Food and drink was also not a necessity due to the cyberware implanted in his body.
Gwen went into town and bought a hunting rifle. While she was there, she also took care of her permit issues. Other than that she just hung out at the lodge in case someone needed some back up.
Cid continued to work on the new motor-cross armor for Doyle. He had to be ready for tomorrow morning’s final fitting.
Jose, Thor and Caitlin spent the day at the Furry Convention looking for ‘rogue bio-geneticists’. They all attended Dr. Francis (Big Bear) Fortin’s lecture. Jose played more Bigfoot games. Thor hung out with Dr. Fortin a bit and attended the various mythic events.
Doyle, Dr. Shamal, Frankie, her boyfriend and the rest of the pit crew spent the day at the track practicing. Afterwards some went back to the convention and others found various entertainments to amuse themselves with.
By Saturday evening all the scheduled attendee was now at the convention. The recent news had spawned a great interest in ‘Bigfoot’. There were now almost a dozen and a half of the shambling mythics in attendance. Many of the more conventional Furries felt that they were not really in the spirit of this event. Jose spent the evening competing in the “games”. A new “Bigfoot Borg” had arrived that stood almost fifteen feet tall, and he and the champion of yesterday’s games were coming in head to head in today’s competition. The newcomer had one upped yesterday’s champion. His suit had the “stealth option”, that was very much in vogue with Gemini models, that gave them a normal thermo scan. The ‘new guy’ had topped Jose, who up till that point was the only person with that option.
The night’s competition was now down to the two “Cyber Bigfoots”. Jose noticed that a few of the other Sasquatches had turned to look at the door. There stood Caitlin in all her glory with only a tail, bits of fur and a lot of body paint smiling at him. Suddenly her smile was replaced by fear.
Caitlin had come to see Jose. When she looked in the room, she saw the new ‘Bigfoot Borg’ tear the head of the dummy with such violence that it broke it. The crowd roared its approval. The shambling competitor stopped, spun around and started with its milky white eyes at the ‘cat’. She heard that voice which was beyond normal human range stab into her ears from the previous Tuesday night.
“What are you?” It asked.
Caitlin screamed and ran as fast as she could. Suddenly her nose detected that scent that seemed to lie just beyond her ability to identify it. Jose spun around to where that “Cyber Bigfoot” had been standing but it was gone. Caitlin raced through the hotel apparently being chased by nothing. She turned down a corridor that was blocked by a crowd of people and there was no way by. She didn’t slow down. As she reached the crowd she dove up and over the group, rolling as she landed and hardly slowing her pace. As she continued on her dash to freedom, she heard the screams of the crowd. The Bigfoot, the real Bigfoot, tore into the group with its claws to clear the way. Panic overtook that crowd as some invisible force shredded them leaving four dead. Caitlin took every tight turn, small door and low ceiling area she could find to slow it down as she made her way to the AV pads where her spinner was parked. She reached the AV pads and fired up her spinner. As the fans reached minimum take off speed, the creature burst out of the door and on to the pad area. She punched the throttle and the Crystar Falcon Spinnercoupe lifted off. She heard it shout to her.
“I won’t hurt you!”
This surprised her, but the sight of the beast covered in blood and festooned with the entrails of some of the other convention attendees did not give that statement much weight in her frightened mind. She flew immediately to Doyle’s lodge and called Thor and Jose. The convention was in an uproar. The police had locked down the place, and the ambulances were removing the casualties. Panic overtook her as she realized it knew that she lived here, and it might be on its way. She rushed back out to her spinner and got airborne immediately. There was a dedicated flight path that circled the Danville/Carson tourist area for civilians to fly so they could enjoy the view of this tourist Mecca. She put her craft on it and set the autopilot. At least up here she felt safe.
Caitlin waited until Jose and Thor got back to their hotel in Carson. She thought and thought and realized she probably had left no scent trail between the convention center and her hotel. She landed her craft and quickly went to her room. Caitlin told the other two what had happened, and she was convinced that the creature was looking for her. There was not much that could be done that night so they all; went to bed. Jose fell asleep easily, but Caitlin spent much of the night sitting in bed with her knees pulled up to her chin and her arms wrapped tightly around her legs. This whole thing was beyond her understanding.
Sunday, May 30, 2027
Chen started moving into higher elevations on his search. He reached a forested plateau when he saw his first enormous bear. He heard something behind him and spied another. The two seemed to hunting in unison, which is unusual for bears except during the salmon runs. As he pressed ahead he noticed there were indeed a good number of very large bears in this area. Not only were they large, but also their features were often misshapen. He began to suspect that these were not normal bears. Later in the morning he found two more of this large ursines awake and moving around. There were four others nearby sleeping together in a clearing. This was definitely not normal behavior.
Chen picked up a scent near a stream. The scent was strange. It had both bear and human components. Possible tracks entered a pool near a waterfall, but did not exit on the other side. He thought perhaps there was an entrance under the waterfall, but did not want to check it out alone. Chen moved quietly to the top of the hill where the waterfall cascaded down. He was trying to find any type of disguised airshaft, but found none. He checked down the stream looking for bubbles that would give away an underwater exhaust port, but the water was moving to swiftly to tell. The Super Solo decided to head back. He was a cautious as he was coming here until he got of the plateau. Still, he kept up extensive stealth precautions until he got back to Doyle’s lodge. He arrived at 10 pm, and went to bed. When he turned off his chip, Chen went right to sleep.
This morning was the final fitting for the new racing armor. Cid produced a dazzling design (35). The fitting went quickly. The quality and care that the Italian designer had put into it was quickly apparent. All it needed was a few more adjustments and it would be ready for tomorrow. Cid’s career was riding on it. He returned to his shop and put all his effort into the final work. Doyle, Frankie, Gwen, the pit crew and Dr. Shamal returned to the track for final preparations and to take part in the pre-race demonstrations and festivities.
Jose and Thor went back to the convention. Caitlin had finally gotten to sleep so they let her rest. The mood there was very subdued, and the police presence greatly increased. The authorities were on the lookout for a cyber psycho Bigfoot borg that had been dubbed “Borgfoot”. Many of the other Furries were getting a petition together to have Bigfoot costumes banned from further conventions. Outside local religious groups protested the ‘immoral and murderous’ behavior of the freakish convention attendees. The remaining sasquatches (including Jose) put out a statement condemning Borgfoot’s rampage insisting it was not in any way representative of their breed. They represented a communion with nature not mindless violence.
Finally Caitlin got dressed up and came to the Convention Center. The sight of the raving religious fanatics outside rankled her so she did she sexiest catwalk as she walked by and blew a ‘raspberry’ at them. As she crossed the lobby, a man walked up to her produced a LawDiv badge and asked to have a few words with her. She was startled a bit because it was ‘NotJamesOrEdward’, who introduced himself as Agent Anderson (of course). He didn’t register any recognition of her but she was in her ‘cat costume’. He took her to a room were several other officers waited and sat her down in front of a computer screen. He played a compilation of scenes taken from the hotel security tapes last night. There she was running through the hotel with “Borgfoot” in hot pursuit. When the recording of the creature killing four attendees played she was visibly shocked. The last scenes were of “Borgfoot” walking right out the front door of the hotel past a couple of apparently watchful local police officers.
One LawDiv agent said to the other, “How could those bozos missed that guy walking right by him?” Another agent just shook his head.
Agent Anderson (the NotJamesOrEdward clone) looked at her and asked, “Can you tell us what happened here?”
Caitlin told them that when she looked in the room she was looking for her boyfriend, Jose. When “Borgfoot” tore the head off the dummy, she thought for a second that the dummy was real. That thing had turned around and looked at her in such a way that she thought it was going to hurt her. She had had a horrible dream a few nights ago about being chased by a big hairy monster, and just flashed back to that. They asked a few more questions, then thanked her for her cooperation and released her.
The girl spent the rest of the day in a more subdued mood. There was no doubt in her mind that this was a creature capable of extreme violence. However, in thinking over her three encounters with it, the creature had never actually tried to harm her, and during the Tuesday night, Wednesday morning thunderstorm it certainly had the opportunity to. No there was something more going on here.
Monday, May 31, 2027
Today was race day! Everyone got ready to go watch Doyle ride. Even Mr. Chen had left orders to be woken up for it. It took Dr. Shamal 3 stims to rouse the Super Solo. Chen looked like he had been a three day bender, but he was there. Frankie was down in the pit as a backup. Thor, Jose, Dr. Shamal, Cid and Gwen were up it the private box with Mr. Chen. Gwen however, floated around the VIP section schmoozing and passing out her card. She was an accountant after all.
Doyle came out were his new racing armor. Cid completed the actual work with a 30 roll. This combined with a design roll of 35. Doyle looked fantastic. The race was long and hotly contested. It pretty much came down to the Nomad and “Slice”. Towards the end of the race “Slice” lost it on the back high curve. (The GM rolled a 1 and confirmed the botch with a 10) His bike might have careened into the crowd, but he kept with it until it was safely past the crowd. He suffered several broken bones and internal injuries, but he would recover. Doyle went on to win the race. The race committee insisted on looking at the new racing armor to make sure it conformed to the rules (it did), but that didn’t delay the awarding of the first place trophy.
The celebrations of the Team had to be cut shot, when Jose told the group of the call from Caitlin and his subsequent call to 911 during the race. The Team rushed home to Doyle’s lodge.
Yes, Caitlin had made her apologies to Doyle and told him that there was something she wanted to check out and it could not wait. It was the last day of the Furry Convention and on the schedule of events the ‘Bigfoots’ were going to go out into the Colville National Forest to get in touch with their animal nature. More and more she felt she had to face the Yeti that she believed was following her. Four people had died because she ran and Sylvania had been critically injured. If it was going to appear again this group in the forest might attract it. She had thought of asking Jose to come with her, but his duty was to be at the racetrack. Anyway, it was a long shot.
Caitlin cleaned herself thoroughly, put on one of her stealth suits, packed up a little equipment, and a selection of knives. She felt the creature might smell the gunpowder if she brought a firearm.
The girl followed the ‘Bigfoot’ group, and they went to the forest by way of the Doyle’s lodge! She kept her distance. As the group of hairy poseurs approached the building, they began to talk.
“There are supposed to be some of his footprints here.”
“Hey, nobody is home, let’s get a closer look.”
The group walked around the building and stopped under the second floor window that was Jose’s and Caitlin’s bedroom. They stared at the footprints and looked up at the claw mark on the beam under the window. The tall full conversion sasquatch scoffed at the mark, and said that wasn’t anything big. He slashed his cyber claw over the Yeti’s territorial marking, turned to the others and said, “See, nothing to it.”
The Yeti de-cloaked a foot away from the Bigfoot Borg moving at high speed and rammed the surprised conventioneer. The borg was driven right through the wall of the building. Inside a battle erupted as the house shook violently. The rest of the group just stood there in shock and watched. Caitlin took out her phone and called Jose, who was still at the race.
Jose answered the phone and Caitlin whispered that ‘Bigfoot’ was attacking the house. He could hear the battle through her phone even from that distance. He told her he would call 911. This Jose did. However, the 911 operator looked and saw the name of who was calling, and that the call was coming from the racetrack. Her response was unexpected.
“Look, I can see you are Jose Thomas, Doyle O’Leary’s bodyguard. I have tracked your number to the racecourse which isn’t anywhere near your house. We are a little tired of your publicity seeking stunts and Bigfoot Hoaxes. It is a crime to use this system except for legitimate emergencies. I will be notifying the police and they can deal with this.” Then she hung up.
Maybe Jose didn’t understand the operator’s complete dressing down because of the background race noises, which was reaching its climax. Jose put his phone away and continued to watch the race.
Back at the lodge, the whole house started to sag as parts of a couple of floors collapsed. The noise in the house stopped. A section of wall came away and the Yeti, who was bloody and battered, stepped out. It held forth the decapitated head of the Cyber Bigfoot and roared at the terrified convention members. The hairy poseurs screamed and ran. Bad move! The Yeti laid into them since they did not take a submissive posture. The creature tore four of them limb from limb. The others scattered.
The Yeti was bloodied and battered. It turned towards the woods and started to move off towards them. It was now visible and moving slowly. Caitlin mastered her fear and slipped through the grass after it. She slowed as she reached the woods, but this was her chance, so she plunged into the depths of the Colville National Forest and began to follow it.
Chen, Doyle and the rest of the Team probably got back to the now devastated house just before the first of the poseur sasquatches made it back to town. An enraged Chen called the police and demanded they get out here immediately. There were dead bodies torn apart on his lawn and his house was wrecked. Police and emergency services rushed to the scene. When police asked what had happened, that was too much for Chen. He tore into them verbally demanding to know why Jose’s call had not been taken seriously. These deaths were on the town’s hands!
Chen called Michelle Gray, who was their liaison with the Danville Realty Company. She arrived and stared dumbfound at the scene of death and destruction. Restitution was promised along with a thorough investigation of the perhaps criminal failure of the 911 operator. Michelle told Chen they had only one lodge of this size left, but it was only 90% completed. All of the work left was merely cosmetic. They could have furniture, appliances, water and power on in a couple of hours. A crew came out and shored up the ruined lodge so all the Team’s remaining possessions could be brought out. By 10 pm, they were settled in the new lodge. This one was still on the edge of the forest, but it was right next to the Canadian border. The exhausted Team settled in for the night. Something was missing though. Oh yes, Caitlin was nowhere to be found!
Episode 6 – Caitlin Through the Looking Glass
Monday, May 31, 2027
Caitlin followed the wounded Bigfoot through the forest. Apparently his wounds sapped his strength or prevented him from cloaking. She kept her distance and covered her tracks the best she could. After a couple of hours it entered a cave that was well hidden by brush. Caitlin waited outside. After a while the creature came out with a smaller Bigfoot and started to move deeper into the forest. Watching the two together she felt that the smaller of the two was his or her child. She continued to follow.
As the afternoon wore on, the two Yetis stopped at a stream and the larger started to wash its wounds, while the younger played by the water. As Caitlin watched the two, she became less afraid. It was now or never. She slowly broke cover at a good distance and made enough noise to make her presence known, but not enough (hopefully) to startle it. The young one moved protectively behind the larger. The big one turned its milky white eyes to her, but Caitlin saw no hostility in its gaze. In a voice beyond normal human hearing range, but not hers, it asked its question again. “What are you?”
All her human names fell away from her mind. For the first time since her life in the laboratory she felt she could speak her real name. She looked at the creature and said, “I am Cat. What are you?”
It spoke again and said, “I am Specimen One.”
She approached the wounded creature. It was apparent that its’ arm was broken. “Well, actually I am Cat Six.” She continued. “At least that is what the card read that was attached to my cage. Look, I think I can help with your arm.”
The Yeti nodded and Caitlin got a branch to use for a sling and took off her socks to tie it securely. She got ready to set the arm.
“Look, this is going to hurt a lot. So, please don’t hit me.”
The Yeti nodded again and the girl pulled the bone back into position. It let out a terrifying roar, but did not strike. Caitlin helped clean its wounds as they talked. The creature’s blood made her hands break out in a rash, but that quickly went away when no longer in contact with its blood. As the girl and the Yeti sat by the stream, she became less and more ashamed. She no longer saw it as a monster, but as a kin.
It was apparent that the person the Team was seeking was the Yeti’s creator. Caitlin asked about its creator and where he was. It knew it had been grown from a skull. This creature quickly learned human language as it listened to its creator, but it never spoke to him. The Yeti described the ‘tortures it was put through in the name of science. It was for this reason that the Yeti had bided its time and acted ignorant. When the opportunity presented itself it escaped. As Caitlin listened she remembered the ‘training’ she underwent in the corporate labs. At times they only seemed to be interested in how much pain she could endure before she was reduced to a crying, screaming state. Other times she was pitted against another construct and was told only one of them would continue. She remembered the punishments for any little infraction of the rules. Some of her trainers had been cruel, some were kind, but most treated her like a thing. She learned quickly that if she excelled at her training, they hurt her less. More importantly she would not get the “visit” that others, who had “not worked out” got. Three men would walk up to the cage. One would look at his clipboard and check with the second man. The third would pull out a pistol and you would be shot. They would then announce that this product had “proved defective”, and we should all try harder. Her life was lived in constant fear. It was a fear she could not show for “fear” was considered a defect.
The Yeti, it’s young and Caitlin plunged deeper into the Colville National Forest. The girl asked how the young one, or “Specimen Two” came about. The answer led her to believe that this creature could produce asexually. The creature asked why she didn’t produce a child herself. This had never even occurred to her. She explained that there were no males made like her, and she wasn’t sure if she could even have a child if there was. The Yeti seemed to be confused about the need for two sexes to breed so she left the conversation there.
The Yeti had an uncanny sense of direction. As the afternoon progressed, she would ask it to point in the direction of various locations such as the “creator’s laboratory, where the entrance was, where the “misshapen” bears were. Each time she would hit her GPS locator and note the direction in which the Yeti spent. After doing this several times, she noted that she could now triangulate these locations on a map. Caitlin was slowly building up some good intelligence. The young Yeti soon lost his fear of her and she discovered even he could talk. As she talked to both she realized that they learned quickly. Both were not using any of their stealth abilities or pheromone “cloaks”, so she got a good sampling of their scent. She realized there was something familiar about it. Certain components of the scent remaindered her of Sylvania, Hisoka and their kind. It would seem that whoever made the Yeti might have made them. The Yeti told her about the creation that had been built to hunt it down. It referred to this thing as the “Metal Bear”. It looked like a huge bear but it was metal underneath. Caitlin made a special note of this.
They walked all night through the trees talking sometimes and being quiet others. The Yeti asked Caitlin questions and she spoke of her master. (This was in very general terms as her conditioning forbid discussing any particulars of ‘the master’.) The Yeti offered to kill her master for her and set her free. Caitlin was horrified and began to talk at length about how this person was her best friend. The master, well her new master, had never given to her a single order except maybe be who she wanted to be. Master had trained her, given her a skill and another trade. The Yeti listened patiently until she was done. He then observed that, “But you are still a slave.” One of those longer quiet moments followed.
As the sun rose on Tuesday morning, the Yeti found a place between the roots of some great tree and build what she could only describe as a nest. The three settled in and the Yeti covered them with leaves and such so anyone walking by would probably never even notice. Caitlin curled up with the “nightmare creature” that had haunted her for the past week and went to sleep. She felt safe and comfortable, and so she started to purr.
Tuesday, June 1, 2027
Back at Casa Doyle, Nomad business reared its ugly head. Doyle had to leave to deal with it. An armor add package arrived from the Lonestar Corporation for Thor. He (she) returned to Night City to fit it in the Opium Arms research laboratory. Dr. Shamal watched Chen as he slept. Cid was being called to give testimony about how he made the racing suit. The sliding pads were a revolutionary device. Various committees wanted to look at it. That kept him busy in town most days. The remaining people get settled in to their new log lodge.
Gwen was watching the news with some of the nomads when she saw a news bulletin from town. The police had arrested a known Mafia associate in Danville on weapons charges. Due to his organized crime connections, he was being questioned in regards to the fire at the VA facility. Gwen knew this was not the case. The man was the chief executioner for the Detroit mob boss that she was skimming the books from. She didn’t have time to securely close all loose ends before she had to be here. This ‘associate’ had been sent here for her. Soon another would come. Gwen contacted the Collective and she was on a transport within the hour.
Around evening there was a knock at the door. It was two more LawDiv agents. They were here investigating the disappearance of Caitlin. Well, there wasn’t much to tell. The agents made it clear that they were here because it was a celebrity case due to Doyle’s high profile. If they see Caitlin please tell her to call them. Right!
Caitlin slept most of the day under the coverlet of leaves created by the Yeti. All three awoke around 4 pm. The Yeti’s wounds were almost healed. The creature could tell and remember time by moon phases so they planned to meet at a much later date at a place they both knew. The three parted ways. Caitlin figured she would be back by mid-morning if she traveled all night. This was fine by her. She preferred the nocturnal life anyway. This was not surprising in that Caitlin was nothing more than a bio-genetically enhanced house cat. It was easy to fool the humans. She had almost fooled herself into thinking she was one of them, but she was not and never would be.
Jose knew and had for some time. She was terrified when she first told him what she was. Opium, her mistress, had told her that it was a decision to tell him or not. Caitlin thought he might hate her. Yes, Jose was surprised, but made it seem that he was surprised that she might doubt him. Opium had warned her that some people might hate her for just what she was, which surprised Caitlin. Bunny’s murder on the Galileo Station seemed to give Opium’s advice real weight.
At any rate, with compass and Datatel Mapmaker in hand, Caitlin plotted a course back towards Danville. She traveled all through the night.
Wednesday, June 2, 2027
Early in the morning Caitlin sensed something on the wind. She backtracked her scent, and climbed up and over a tree or two before settling down to observe from her hidden perch. Soon an extremely large bear came moving into view. It moved slowly and methodically as it seemed to be trying to follow an elusive scent. She used her thermographic vision on it. Metal Bear was indeed armored, perhaps heavily under its fur hide. It took almost forty-five minutes for it to track through this immediate area. Caitlin remained motionless in the tree as it found something at a tree. The robotic bear then turned right in the direction that the Yeti had gone and continued to move off slowly. She wasn’t particularly concerned as the Yeti had a huge lead and the trail would only get harder to follow.
About 9 in the morning Caitlin felt she was within 10 miles of the lodge. She took out her mastoid commo and called in on the Team’s general frequency. Jose was listening and picked her up faintly. The Nomads heard her better and got her GPS location. Jose took their spinner there and picked her up. She was very happy. Caitlin told Jose everything that they Yeti had said (except for their meeting again in the future). Now she had four and a half hours to get ready for her appointment with Sergeant O’Reilly of the Carson Police Department at the Mounties’ Barracks. When she got to the new lodge she didn’t even unpack before she dove into the shower. Her liking of the water was very un-cat-like but her desire for cleanliness was not.
Wylie settled down for another day of watching Doyle’s new log lodge. This was where Caitlin was supposed to be living. He hadn’t seen her in well over a year and a half. For them that was a lifetime. Then the spinner returned and, yes, that was her going into the lodge. Wylie backtracked out of sight and then came down the road openly to the house. He was surprised he made it to the front door without being challenged.
Inside the O’Leary nomads were relaxing around the living room with Jose and Frankie. When there was a knock at the door and an O’Leary answered it. Wylie Keenan stood there smiling and asked if Caitlin was in. The nomad called for Jose. There was someone here to see Caitlin. Wylie’s bright freckles stood out on his porcelain white skin. His sky blue eyes were framed by his shock of red hair that came down to a pair of mutton-chop sideburns that appeared almost tipped in white. His constant smile gave him the appearance of some mischievous Irish fae. Jose found that annoying. The borg’s inquiries were politely responded to with a “Just tell her Wylie is here to see her.”
A disgruntled Jose walked up to their room and entered just as Caitlin was drying herself off from her shower. The Gemini told her that someone named Wylie was here to see her. She stopped short and asked if he had red hair, which was a yes. Caitlin squealed with delight and grabbed one of Jose’s tee shirts to wear since her clothes were still packed from the emergency move last Monday. This was a tee shirt to 6’ 6” Jose, but more of a mini-dress to 5’ 8” Caitlin.
The girl rushed downstairs and stopped briefly to look at Wylie and sniff. Caitlin rushed across the living room and leapt into Wylie’s arms and wrapped her legs around his waist as she almost drank in his scent and licked him occasionally on the face. He responded in kind but with a slower and more reassuring manner. Well, the dress turned tee shirt returned more to a tee shirt in Caitlin’s present posture. All of the male Nomads in the room sat back and smiled as the moon came out early. Frankie noticed her boyfriend’s interest, so she hurt him! Just a bit. This is the scene that formally only slightly jealous Jose walked in on. He crossed his arms (and put his hands on his guns) and “cleared his throat”.
Oblivious as ever Caitlin hopped down, took Wylie by the hand and brought him up to Jose. She smiled proudly and said, “This is my brother, Wylie.”
Jose stood there and looked down at black haired, light brown eyed and Mediterranean complexioned Caitlin, and freckled faced, blue eyed, red headed Wylie and thought the same thing every other man in the room was thinking. “Bullshit!” But Jose was glad to know his name. No one should be buried without his or her name. Now, how to do this without having Caitlin hate him!
(Another permanent player character now that James was gone. For those who haven’t figured it out yet, Caitlin is a bio-genetically enhanced human and animal hybrid. In her case a house cat. The character template is out of the BioWorks section of the Rust Never Sleeps NET book, under BioWorks. The only difference between Caitlin and the house cat example in the book is that she is not nocturnal by use of Bio-points. That was traded for the more humanity expensive ‘Animal Socialism’, which is reflected in her difficulty of dealing and using human social conventions. Well, Wylie is a human looking fox hybrid. The two are survivors of a commercially unsuccessful attempt at producing a super operative. After almost two years and 150 million Euros in spending they had but seven constructs remaining after they discovered a revolt was being planned by the project’s subjects. Their own masters have killed two. One when the construct tried to kill its master, and the other by a master who feared that his expensive “toy” was about to turn on him. One did turn on its master. This construct killed the master and all the other bodyguards. It has eluded capture for over a year. A fearful master keeps A fourth in cryo storage. Wylie’s master quickly decided that owning a thinking sentient creature was just wrong and set Wylie free. He keeps up the fox’s license, but he has spoken the subliminal command phrase that has released Wylie from his programmed loyalty. The sixth is one of the most successful of this product line. He is a full animal Newfoundland retriever. A multi-millionaire bought him for his children when their mother died. The young children have fallen in love with their “magic” talking dog, and the dog has bonded with the children. The last and most successful of the line was Caitlin. Her skills as an assassin are world class. Only her problems dealing with human social situations keep her from completely mastering her trade. But she is working on this. So, Wylie, Caitlin and the remaining constructs of this project consider each other as brothers and sisters. They are very protective of each other.)
Still, the homecoming would have to wait a bit. There were guns sell to the Canadian police. Just before Caitlin was ready to leave there was another knock at the door. It was the LawDiv agents again asking if they had heard from Caitlin. She came down and spun a tale of following “Borgfoot” into the forest. The “Borgfoot” noticed her following and chased her deep into the woods before she lost him. It took her until this morning to find her way back out. They took down their report, thanked her and left.
Caitlin went to the Mounties’ Barracks and both the Carson Police and the Northwest Mounted Police were there to see the demonstration. It went very well, with the police asking if it would be possible to get a cut down version. This would be possible. Well, they were ready to order but there was just one problem. The Canadian military and law enforcement was forced by law to by buy from Canadian manufacturers only. What a surprise, the mayor of Carson as here to discuss opportunities to open a small plant in his city with very generous tax incentives to do so. Caitlin took the information and contacted Opium Arms to facilitate the deal. An order was placed for two hundred cut down Vindicators in anticipation of the new factory. Caitlin was ecstatic! She had landed some major accounts and possibly a company expansion with guaranteed pre-orders. Her brother was here. She had Jose, who was becoming the most important person in her life. Everything was wonderful!
Now it was time to get this guy hiding out in the forest making “man eating monster bears”. Caitlin, Jose and Wylie got in the Spinnercoupe that evening and flew to Night City. It was time to get ready to take out the ‘Mad Scientist of Colville’.
Thursday, June 3, 2027
Cid finished up with the last of the race committees looking into his innovative motocross armor. It was declared legal by the association. It was going to be a financial success. Too bad Cid had sold the rights to Mr. Chen. Doyle continued to help sort out the difficulties that had come up with his family after the race. Opium observed Wylie in Night City, but held off on meeting him until she was finished with working on the possible upgrades to Thor.
Caitlin hand delivered the materials and proposals from Carson, BC and the Mounties to the proper people at the Opium Arms factory. While she was there she made 300 rounds of 12mm Anti-personnel and a heat resistant barrel for an M-90 sniper rifle. She also outfitted her brother lavishly and gave him a little over one hundred thousand euro to put in his various accounts.
Friday, June 4, 2027
Caitlin, Jose and Wylie arrived back in Danville a couple of hours before noon. They set up Caitlin’s remote controller and then jumped in the Spinner to set out a repeater station close to the bear plateau. As they approached the area they were warned off by an official United States transmission announcing that they had entered restricted airspace. They pulled back and put the repeater high in a tree just outside the restricted zone. They then ran a series of exploratory flights over the area. Caitlin had bought a large holo-tank, which she and the others programmed in the terrain features and put down all the intelligence they had collected. By evening they had a working three-dimensional map of the area with the locations of the various bear concentrations, the stream where Chen thought an entrance might be, and the ‘rabbit hole’ entrance described by the Yeti.
Frankie went into town that afternoon. She quickly realized that the city was now filled with cops here for the convention. In her paranoia she wiped her silverware clean of all DNA traces after she ate out at a restaurant full of policemen. Well, they didn’t take much notice of her until she did that. As she left, a voice called out to her. When she turned around a seated cop took her picture with his cell phone and said, “Thanks,” with a smile. His friends sitting at the table burst out laughing. Frankie went right home.
By nightfall they had compiled a great presentation coordinating all the old and new intelligence. Now it was time to reward themselves with an evening out. Jose, Caitlin, Frankie, her boyfriend and Wylie go all dressed to the nines and went out to a dance club in Carson, BC. They only had to wait ten minutes in line. The first floor was techno, and the music was pounding. They all hit the dance floor. There were only a couple of tables or chairs around. It seemed that there were doors on the walls that led to private enclosed booths that were for rent. Caitlin immediately rented on for a couple of hours for the group. Wylie quickly picked up a young lady so the party was three couples. There were a lot of police and others from the forensics convention so it was pretty safe in her. Eventually Caitlin went upstairs to check out the second floor, which was hip-hop themed. She was standing around checking out the vibe when a door to one of the side booths opened and a Japanese gentleman came out. He looked familiar, and as she was trying to place him she saw herself walk out of the room behind him. The ‘other Caitlin’ scanned the room and noticed this Caitlin. Both of them ended up wearing that “deer in the headlights” look as they stared at each other.
Caitlin turned away and made her way to the Ladies Room so her other self could see where she went. A few minutes later her other self walked in, and the two stared at each other. A woman entered the bathroom and both Caitlin’s said in unison, “Get out!” The startled woman left and the new Caitlin locked the door.
The first Caitlin asked, “Who are you?”
The second responded, “I am Caitlin.”
The first was shocked, “No, I am Caitlin!”
“Well, maybe,” replied the second. She then continued with a tone of pride, “but I am the prototype!”
Caitlin stared at her twin. It was like talking to herself. She asked, “How old are you?”
The other replied proudly, “I am almost two years old.”
Yes, she did look a little younger. Caitlin told her, “I am over three and half years old.”
The other broke into a smile that gave a hint of admiration. “Oh, my god, you must be the original!”
People were pounding on the ladies room door, but the two Caitlins just ignored them. The first asked, “How many of us are there?”
The second looked a little fearfully at the door, and said, “My master doesn’t like it when I am away for too long.” She then looked again at the first Caitlin and smiled. “Well, it’s a joint project between Arasaka and Biotechnica. Each company has made six of us prototypes for the new production line.
“Production line?” the first asked.
“Oh, yes, in 2029 we are going into mass production.”
The two stopped and stared at each other for a second. They were both talking about company secrets that their conditioning shouldn’t allow them to talk about. It didn’t seem to matter.
The first asked, “Just what is your function?”
“Oh, I am just like you.”
“Really? And what is that?”
“Why I am a bodyguard. A “Caitlin Personal Protection Unit,” said the younger clone with a hint of pride.
A heavy pounding rattled the door as the bouncer announced his presence. Caitlin 2.0 said she was coming to the door. The first Caitlin told the second her phone number and to call her when she got the chance, and then she hid in a stall. The second Caitlin opened the door and apologized to the bouncer. The Arasaka corporate that was also there did not look amused. Suddenly Caitlin put a name to that familiar face. He was the head of Bio-genetic Research for the Arasaka Corporation. She waited a few minutes before leaving the ladies room, and headed downstairs to her private room off the techno dance floor. It was almost time to leave anyway. There was much to do tomorrow. Perhaps even more than she had planned. The five returned to the lodge with Wylie’s “date” making a sixth.
That night Caitlin told Jose about her encounter with herself. She realized that there was a major design flaw here. The clone and she could tell each other anything it seemed. The information on a major product roll out like this would be protected by behavioral safeguards. However, talking with the clone was like talking to herself and that she could always do. Well, no reason to bother Arasaka and Biotechnica with that little detail. Still, she really wasn’t sure she liked the idea of being mass-produced. But wait, that didn’t matter. She was only a thing, no rights, legally nothing more than a pet. God, this sucked!
Saturday, June 5, 2027
Frankie was up early with her boyfriend when Wylie came downstairs with his ‘date’ from last night. Upstairs Jose and Caitlin were making a racket. Their lovemaking often resembled a wrestling match that was hard on the furniture, and Caitlin was very vocal. Frankie’s boyfriend earned himself another smack for paying too much attention. Finally Frankie asked him if he wanted to “go back to bed?” The boyfriend smiled. Those two retired as Wylie’s date looked for her cell phone.
The other nomads couldn’t help but notice as she emptied her purse that a gun, badge, a pair of handcuffs and finally her phone tumbled out among the clutter from her handbag. Wylie tried to get her phone number, but she said, “Look, every year I come to this convention, and every year, I pick up someone like you to get my ya-yas out with. I never want to see you again. Nothing personal.”
Wylie was cool with that, and the couple of Nomads there nodded their heads. She left and slowly the daily activities around the house began. Cid had a couple of meetings in town about retailing his new armor. Caitlin ran a few more remote missions over the bear plateau to update the movement of the misshapen ursines. Jose asked Wylie if he would like to spar a little. (Oh, yes, a chance to hurt Wylie and not get Caitlin upset.) Not a bad plan except Wylie is a genetically engineered creature built for speed and stealth. Jose couldn’t lay a glove on him.
Just after lunch Caitlin asked Wylie to sit in the spinner with her. This did not make Jose really happy, but Caitlin was never very good at understanding social dynamics. Caitlin told Wylie about meeting herself the previous night. By now she had decided she really didn’t like the idea of thousands of her running around. It just didn’t feel right. Just then a Nomad ran up to the craft with a worried look in his eyes. Something was on the news that they had to see.
The two went in and the nomads were looking very worried. The first nomad said that he had recorded this newsbreak. It was the local channel. The feed showed the Arasaka executive giving a speech before a group of the police conventioneers. Behind him stood Caitlin 2.0 doing her bodyguard routine. It was a boring speech from the hotel convention feed, but it got exciting quickly. Caitlin 2.0’s head exploded, and she fell over dead. The Caitlin here stood there in shock. A nomad rushed into the room and switched to the live broadcast saying, “You’ve got to see this.”
It seems the assassin did not try to even hide. He dropped his gun and surrendered to the police. Caitlin watched as the killer calmly pulled a small booklet out of his pocket and waved it at the police saying, “I have diplomatic immunity. I am a diplomat from the Vatican City. You have no right to arrest me.”
Well, they took him into custody anyway. A newsperson asked why he murdered a young girl. His response was simple, “I haven’t murdered anyone. I have just shot an animal. It should be no more than a fine.” His status protected him from even that.
Frankie looked at Caitlin and asked, “Why would the Vatican City want to kill you?”
Caitlin looked confused for a second and suddenly her eyes shot wide open. “Oh, shit, oh, shit, oh, shit……..I have to make a phone call.” And she ran upstairs and closed the door.
The girl went into the NET and jumped a few LDLs until she reached Balsam, NC. From there she dialed Bruce, a fixer she had worked with during the Fourth Corporate War. He seemed to be surprised to hear from her. She directed him to the local broadcast, and after he watched it, she asked, “Why do you think the church would want me dead?”
There was silence on the other end. Then Bruce spoke, “I see your point, I think I am going to take a little trip. Maybe you should too.” He hung up.
Jose and Wylie came upstairs. They entered the room and found Caitlin sitting curled up in the corner. She was visibly shaking with tears rimming her eyes. They both went to comfort her. Any animosity between them was forgotten, at least for now. After a little prodding she checked her bug jammers and spoke.
“You remember back in December on Christmas. That cardinal that got shot during the service outside in Prospect Park?” she asked.
(See timeline at end of Prologue for information on this incident)
Jose then realized it was his girlfriend here that was responsible. He replied, “Why did you do that?”
Caitlin looked at him with surprise. “For 350,000 euro and I didn’t even have to leave town. Look, I didn’t make any mistakes. It was a clean kill.” She started getting excited. “I shot him from inside his security perimeter and they never even saw me. The leak had to be on the fixer’s end. Oh, what does it matter, they are going to kill me just the same.”
As Jose and Wylie comforted Caitlin upstairs, Frankie started surfing the NET for more information on what just happened. After an hour she sent her boyfriend up to get those three. There was more news. Four more ‘Caitlins’ had been shot around the world. There were stories from New Zeeland, Taiwan, Miami and Quebec. Arasaka operatives who looked just like Caitlin were gunned down by agents of the Vatican City, who claimed diplomatic immunity. Soon after the fourth killing, the Vatican made an announcement.
A severe looking cardinal appeared on the screen. The church had discovered that certain corporations had decided to play God and had created a series of what he called “abominations” (shown with Caitlin’s picture behind him). This was an insult to God and would not be borne. These biogenetic life forms had attacked the church. There had been an attempt to steal the Spear of Destiny, which had been thwarted. There had also been a successful attempt to steal a piece of the Shroud of Turin. The church had proof positive that the Biogenetic conspiracy was behind it, and they would be publishing this evidence soon. Meanwhile, the church had reformed the Knight’s Templars to defend them against this monstrous threat. They would hunt down and kill every bio-gen until that plague was stricken from the planet. Caitlin bolted out of her chair and ran gagging to the bathroom. Wylie followed her in to make sure she was all right. Jose just stared at the screen in disbelief.
Finally, Caitlin came back into the living room. She noticed one of the Nomads was staring at her. She asked, “What?”
The Nomad shook his head and said, “Hey, lady, you scare me.” He just stood up and left the room. Caitlin turned towards Jose and buried her head in his arms.
The rest of the day didn’t bring any better news. A couple of hours after that a news feed from outside the main Arasaka corporate headquarters in Tokyo showed the remaining Caitlin 2.0’s head explode as she left the building. This time the ‘diplomat’s’ claim of immunity was greeted with a mass of gunfire from Arasaka security agents.
This was more than Caitlin could stand. She had to get out, so she found a luxury suite in a hotel in Spokane. She rented it under Jose’s name. Then she put on a disguise, and she, Jose, Wylie, Frankie and her boyfriend headed there. They partied like there was no tomorrow. For Caitlin that might be true.
Sunday, June 6, 2027
By 10 am the approaching check out time made getting up a necessity. Also, the advisability of being constantly on the move made leaving a prudent choice. The five headed by to Danville and the group lodgings. Arasaka had issued public statements promising legal action in the judicial and diplomatic fronts. Lawyers around the world were mobilizing. Probably there were a lot more than just lawyers doing this too.
A little before noon, the Vatican City held a news conference. There they released what surveillance evidence they had on the attempted Spear of Destiny theft, and the successful Shroud of Turin desecration and theft. More importantly they released parts of the DNA sequence of the thieves, which were clearly NOT human in origin. Of course, the data was incomprehensible to all of the Team, except Dr. Shamal. Frankie got a free copy off a Vatican website and gave it to the doctor to study. It was clear the church considered this the beginning of a new ‘Crusade’. The bio-gens were to be exterminated.
Caitlin and Frankie finished gathering the genetic data records. The young cat’s phone rang to signal an incoming text message. It was the code of a drop box in the NET. The two girls immediately went there and found a file. The file had no name or any coding that indicated its origin. Frankie tried a few traces, but got nothing. Only very scary or well-connected people can get something like this that clean. The file contained a series of genetic codes, a short message and a legal file. The first code belonged to the late James Stiles, our former teammate. The second and third was the two genetic codes released by the Vatican. There was another partial genetic code from Malagay collected about five years ago. The last was labeled Mr. Chen. It was dated Friday, May 28, 2027, which was the date Chen had been detailed by Federal authorities in Seattle. The file format was in the government style, but had none of the electronic markers to prove it. Caitlin pulled her genetic code off her license information and gave it all to Dr. Shamal. She also apologized for always being so distant. She was afraid he might see her for what she was since he used to take care of Jack Smith’s little harem of biogenetic sex toys. Caitlin asked him if he could examine these and tell them what it all meant. The doctor agreed and began his work.
The short message read: The Canadian authorities have sent out law enforcement bulletins with Sylvania’s DNA and genetic data internationally asking for any information regarding other cases in other jurisdictions. (This would include the Vatican City) Also, the LawDiv team assigned to the Chen investigation has been replaced. The investigation is now being run by the C.I.A. as a foreign intelligence case.
Caitlin read the legal document herself. It was a copy of a sealed corporate settlement between Arasaka, Biotechnica and BioWorks Inc. It seems Arasaka and Biotechnica had sued BioWorks over a patent infringement. Back in 2011, these two corporations formed the Bio-Eugenics Corporation through a series of cutouts. They came up with a protein that would facilitate the binding of human and animal DNA in a viable DNA strand. In the same year BioWorks developed the same protein.
(The Bio-Eugenics Corporation was founded to complete the Homo Superior Project, which produced the Super Solos. This was a major failure and led to the creation of the Collective.
Corporate espionage brought BioWorks successful use of the protein to the other corporations’ attention. In the pre-trial negotiations a settlement was reached after an independent panel found that this was a case of independent discovery and all sides had rights to the protein combination. BioWorks had taken a major hit with the financial failure of the Superior Operative Program. Only seven of the first 108 constructs survived the training program, which was cut short when they found out that another fifteen of the constructs were planning a revolt. They were terminated leaving eight, who were rushed into final socialization training. One of the eight committed suicide. The seven were sold to recoup some of the investment. Caitlin, a human appearing house cat, has been the most successful operative from that program. She was sold for 10 million euro initially, and resold once to Opium, her current owner, for 13 million euro. Caitlin has operated undiscovered in human society for almost two years. Her known exploits (and they don’t know even a tenth) and apparent successful socialization made her the corporate success story. It would be so much easier to clone her. BioWorks owned the genetic data so a deal was reached where they would receive a lump sum for the code and a per unit fee from Biotechnica and Arasaka. These two mega-corps had the juice necessary to change the couple of laws in the first and second world to make this a huge financial success. Caitlin finished reading this document and knew the human world that she had made a home in was just a memory for her. Jose tried to cheer her up.
“Well, think of your reputation. It will go through the roof. You have been selected by three corporations as the perfect Super Operative.”
It didn’t help.
Caitlin finally called Opium from the NET, who told her she was on her way back as Thor. She had seen the reports. The Nomads said Doyle was due back soon. He too had seen the news. As time ticked by Caitlin and Wylie explored ways they might survive this disaster along with Jose and Frankie. Caitlin offered to pay for Wylie’s citizenship on the Galileo Station. If Wylie’s former owner would endorse it, then there would be no one with grounds to oppose it. It wasn’t that these two were particularly adept at law, but simply that every bio-gen on the planet kept up on the laws concerning this. Wylie told Caitlin she could do this too, but the cat’s countenance fell. She spoke quietly, “No, I am not free.”
Wylie understood what that meant. They were conditioned never to ask for or talk about their personal freedom with their master unless specifically asked by their master. The physical and mental pain that accompanied any attempt to do or get around this was not worth it. That was a nice trick! Still, Wylie wondered. It wasn’t his picture up on the video screens around the world with a “holy man” declaring a crusade calling for your death. Why paint a big bull’s eye on my chest right now. This needed some thought.
Finally Dr. Shamal had puzzled out enough of the DNA sequences to give us something. The connecting protein strands in James Stiles DNA code was a primitive version of something found in the others. The two from the robberies of the holy artifacts were clearly that of a Human/Animal hybrid. Chen’s DNA was almost identical in basic composition to those two, but someone had tried to do something with the other two. Without a complete code he could not know what. Caitlin’s was a streamlining and improvement over Chen and a further modification of the original protein. Dr. Shamal’s conclusions were that all of these creatures are related and represent a continuing scientific evolution.
Outside, the sound of Doyle’s AV increased in volume as the craft came in for a landing. Thor (Opium) and Chen would be aboard. Caitlin curled up in Jose’s arms, buried her head in his shoulder and closed her eyes.
Episode 7 – Hunting the Bear Doctor
Sunday, June 6, 2027
Everyone had assembled in the main living room of Doyle’s new lodge. Chen had just returned from finding Dr. Yamato out in the woods and had not seen or heard and news broadcasts out in the Colville Forest. When the Super Solo walked in the room, Caitlin looked up from Jose’s arms and greeted him with, “Seen any TV lately”
To which he replied, “No, why?”
“Ah,” she continued, “Let me direct you attention to the plasma on the wall.”
Caitlin produced a remote control and played the recorded news break from the convention yesterday of the Arasaka executive speaking with “Caitlin” standing behind him, just before her head exploded with a high caliber impact.
Chen looked at Caitlin and asked, “Was she a clone?”
“Yes,” she responded.
“So, you’re a clone too?” he continued.
“No,” she replied with a hint of superiority in her voice. “These are the clones.” And then she played a short compilation of the “Caitlin” killings in New Zealand, Taiwan, Miami, Ottawa, and Tokyo followed by the Vatican City’s announcement of its new crusade against all biogenetic life forms and it’s reforming of the Knights Templar. When it finished she looked at Mr. Chen and said, “We got problems, cousin.”
Chen looked askance at Caitlin and responded with, “I don’t think so.” This was almost as much to the notion that they could be related as anything else.
“I beg to disagree”, she said. “Take a look at these.”
At the touch of a button four DNA strands (or partials on some) appeared on the screen. She turned over the technical explanations to Dr. Shamal. He reiterated that the connecting protein strands in James Stiles’ DNA code was a primitive version of something found in the others. The other two, which were from the robberies of the holy artifacts, were clearly that of a Human/Animal hybrid. Chen’s DNA was almost identical in basic composition to those two. The next file showed the various DNA strands that had been recently published on the NET (especially the partial from Malagay, which was Chen’s, but there was not enough of it for proof positive). Finally, the Doctor showed Chen’s DNA strand from the Seattle and Caitlin’s from her license, and the “improvements” that had been made.
Caitlin then told him, you see, in a sense we are cousins. Wylie and I are the upgrades from your product line.
Chen looked at her and said, “Just what are you trying to say?”
At this point Wylie put his two cents worth in. (With apologies to Men in Black II) He pointed at Chen and said, “Old and busted!” (then gesturing to himself and Caitlin) “New hotness!”
Chen was not amused, but took it well. Cid looked at Caitlin quizzically and asked, “So, what exactly are you?”
Caitlin thought for a moment and replied, “Well, basically I am a house cat that has been bio-engineered for intelligence and to look human. You know like some kind of weird science project. We (indicating Wylie and herself) were grown in a lab and sold as product.”
There was a quiet in the room as the various members of the Team considered this information and looked at the two in a new light.
“Oh, yes,” Caitlin continued. “As some of you know, I sell weapons to police and law enforcement groups around the country, and I have made a few friends. This is how I came by a lot of this information. More importantly, there is an open case file on Mr. Chen. They suspect he is responsible for the murders at the Forestry Service/NASA lab that occurred recently. LawDiv has been taken off the case and it is being transferred to the C.I.A as a foreign espionage matter. You, Mr. Chen, as a foreign national, now have even fewer rights, and they can probably brain dance you without court interference. I just thought you might want to know.”
Chen nodded and replied, “Well, I can get a new ID. Is there any news on our target?”
Caitlin cheerfully responded, “Yes, there is.”
She pulled out her computer and hooked up the holo tank. As she prepared, she gave a brief summary of her conversations with the Yeti and the information she had gotten from him including the Metal Bear. She did NOT say where the Yeti went or even mention its child. Credit to Frankie, Wylie and Jose was given for the recent information gathering, and she activated the holo tank with its 3-D terrain modeling. Caitlin then proceeded to outline the location of the “rabbit hole” where the Yeti had escaped. An approximate position of the waterfall and suspected entrance that Chen found was mapped. There was also two half day’s studies of the numbers and movements of the “mutant bears” on the plateau. She ended with the observation, “All we need now is to confirm the location of the entrance to his laboratory and we will be ready to strike.”
Well, there were questions about whether the Team had all the equipment and armor that was needed. Intelligence from the Yeti had confirmed that the scientists used robots for guards. Caitlin and Wylie did not want to remain here at the lodge as they felt that the risk for them was too great. Jose had quite a number of pictures taken with Caitlin hitting the clubs in New York City. She also had her picture taken with Doyle at various parties when she had lived in Night City and worked at the Opium Arms factory. Given the media blitz the Catholic Church was producing, it wouldn’t be long before the paparazzi would be calling attention to those connections in order to sell their damned photos.
It was decided that Chen, Caitlin and Wylie would be dropped off in the woods 10 miles east of the bear plateau, and establish a hidden base camp a mile from the plateau. They would explore the plateau to try to check where they suspected the entrance was, and then call for back up. The rest of the Team would go to Night City and collect equipment for the assault and wait for the call. Doyle made the drop off and the three easily found the ravine they had plotted from their terrain maps set up camp. Meanwhile, the rest returned to Night City leaving a couple of Nomads to watch the lodge.
The three quickly set up camp and decided to check out the possible entrance that Chen found on his first recon. The three bio-gens slid unnoticed like three cloaked Romulan warbirds through the forest. They easily avoided the bears and after a short while found the waterfall with its possible entrance behind it. Chen moved stealthily up to the fall and crossed the liquid curtain. Well, you can have the skills of a ninja, but a “1” (followed by a failed roll against your skill) is still a botch. Behind the waterfall was a small cave with a severely wounded human with a shotgun. Chen slid back quickly out of the cave as the gun came around.
Caitlin then moved quietly in from another angle and was able to move right up next to the man. He was in great dis6ress. Obviously this strange man was severely wounded and had been here for some time due to his scent and filthy clothes. After she got inside the arc of the shotgun, it dawned on Caitlin, who this might be. She asked quietly, “Adam Grizzly?”
Caitlin was easily able to deflect the shotgun. She added quickly, “Adam, your wife, Samantha, set us to find you.”
The wounded hunter stopped as he pondered her words. “Thank God!” was his reply.
Yes, this was Adam Grizzly, one of the first missing hunters that they had heard about when they got to Danville. The other two bio-gens joined them quickly in the cave. These bears had overwhelmed him with their coordinated attacks, but he had escaped. Adam had survived by hiding his scent by rolling in a nearby charnel pit and eating scraps left by the bears. He was in terrible shape, but he had a key piece of information. The hunter had heard a helicopter land a few days ago nearby where there should have been no landing field. This indicated the possible location of the main entrance. For now, the problem was to get Adam to safety and better medical care. Caitlin noticed that gangrene and blood poisoning was setting in and he did not have long. The three got him off the bear plateau and to their camp by the following morning. These injuries were more than Caitlin could deal with. She cleaned the wounds the best she could and made him comfortable.
Chen felt that the rest of the Team should have returned from the arming and supply run to Night City, so he called for pickup. He took out his cell phone, and……no bars! Wylie suggested using the radio, but all anyone had was a short-range mastoid radio commo. To the question, “why didn’t anyone have a sufficient radio?” was answered with: “You are the leader, why didn’t you bring one?” Chen shouldered the responsibility and said he would head towards the lodge on foot until he got in range with his local transmitter and then call for support. Chen had already scouted the areas between their current location and the lodge, so he had the speed and the skill to make a quick overland hike.
Monday, June 7, 2027
Chen made a speedy transit and was in range of the lodge by early morning. The Team picked him up and headed on an evasive course towards the base camp. As they flew over the forest they noticed a huge bear by a stream. Doyle turned his AV around and prepared for an attack run on what they assumed was the “Metal Bear”. Someone realized that this might not be it, and the creature also bore a resemblance to Dr. “Big Bear” Fortin, the “Furry” Cyberbear from the convention and Army special forces operative. They aborted the attack run just in case. As they were heading off Doyle thought he noticed a little glitch on the radar where the bear had been spotted. It might have been a stealth craft picking up the cyber bear. They became even more cautious. Soon, they reached the base camp.
Dr. Shamal examined Adam Grizzly and said he was too critical to move. He would have to do field surgery here. This would delay our assault, but since we still needed to recon where the helicopter had landed, the doctor was given the go ahead. The three bio-gens headed off in the morning to scout out the area. After four and a half hours of surgery it was out of Dr. Shamal’s hands. Whether Adam would live out the night was up to Grizzly and his battered body.
Meanwhile, the three scouts searched and found a clearing where it seemed some sort of craft had touched down recently. There were also marks from a tracked vehicle heading into and out of the clearing. The three followed the tracks to a cliff face nearby. The tracks ended at the cliff. Some sort of small weathered sign was set in the cliff nearby. It read: The Seal of the Vice President of the United States. The sign was obviously very old. They returned to the base camp and prepared an immediate assault.
The plan was simple. The Team would divide into three groups. The first would be Doyle, his AV, and Adam Grizzly waiting for the extraction call. The second would consist of Caitlin, Jose and Cid set up in ambush positions at the “rabbit hole”. The assault group would be Chen, Thor, Dr. Shamal, Dr. Nis, Wylie and Frankie. They would enter by way of the cliff face “entrance” found yesterday. At 3 pm all the groups were in position.
A distance examination of the wall uncovered a possible seam. When examined, one’s hand went right through the cliff face. It was a hologram covering a large double blast door. The door had a large old style key lock. As some began to discuss who would open this door (Frankie wanted to pick the lock but Dr. Nis wanted to blow it.), Wylie shushed them both as he began to work on the mechanism. It took almost a half hour, but he cracked it. The next corridor went into the mountain, but the tracks ended at a similar set of doors. There were no apparent cameras.
The next door would not open unless the front door was closed. Again this took time, but the Team cracked it and entered a large garage. The garage contained a goodly number of very old military transportation vehicles that looked like they hadn’t been used in over fifty years. There were two doors. One was on the back left wall, and the other was on the right back wall opposite the first. There was an intact tracked vehicle in this area that was obviously being used to transport supplies. A quick examination revealed that it was a remote controlled vehicle. Frankie decided to patch into the remote control. Perhaps a good plan, if one had bothered to make sure it wasn’t trapped! The head damage came close to killing the netrunner.
The Team started with the door on the right. Wylie got the door open and it was a large elevator. Examination revealed that it went up about fifty feet to another level, and down out of sight. The down was apparently quite a drop, maybe close to a mile or more. It was hard to tell. The Team went up, and eventually came up near the top of the mountain. The entrance up here was also protected by a hologram. Hidden under an IR tarp/netting was an Avanti Sport Spinner. Dr. Nis wired the fuel tank to explode in case someone got the ship and tried to use it to get away. The Team then descended back to garage area to try the other door.
Behind that door was a heavy industrial metal staircase down. Dr. Shamal remained in the garage and the rest of the group went down the stairs. The rest followed Thor down to the next level that ended at a door. As Thor approached that door his threat lights exploded as his reactive armor picked up a targeting beam. Thor was able to dodge the missile from the Militech Archer in the arm of the security robot hiding behind the hologram. The missile traveled between two stairs and impacted against the back wall. The fireball engulfed all the party except for the doctor. Fortunately, the stair absorbed about half the blast, but still Frankie went down. Chen found his pistol fire to not be particularly effective, but that turned out to be unnecessary anyway. Thor opened fire with his “Destroyer” (this is a borg weapon produced in very limited numbers by his/her company, Opium Arms). Its five rotating hydro-recoil barrels fired 4-gauge slug. The fifteen rounds that hit the robot reduced it to a trashing pile of scrap metal. A second burst ended the fight.
(Wow! The GM just sat there as his big combat encounter was totally trivialized! He had looked at the write-up to the weapon, but its effect against hard armor wasn’t immediately apparent. Even I was stunned. The GM took it well. We had seen these robots before, so he took it as a point of pride that the PCs had adapted our tactics and weapon loads in anticipation of another encounter. The fact that these security robots were there was information that we had from the Yeti.
Doctor Shamal got to Frankie before she was beyond hope. Dr. Nis, who had echolocation goggles, took the lead. The goggles could see through the holograms. The main labs were close to this previous encounter, but they were mostly empty. Whoever was here had left hastily. Dr. Nis looked down a corridor off the main labs and could see another security robot hiding behind a hologram halfway down the hall. He informed Thor, who casually entered the hall, and then fired a blast at the hologram. The robot was again reduced to a thrashing wreck. A second burst put it down.
Back in the laboratory Wylie expressed an interest in the contents of the computer and the loot from the complex. Chen immediately took exception to this. He was paying the Team and all “loot” belonged to him. Wylie got no support for his position as we had all agreed that anything found like this would belong to Chen. It simply hadn’t been explained at any other meetings except one of the first. While this discussion was going on inside, the action was heating up outside.
The back door ambush team heard a sound building up rapidly near the suspected entrance. Another Avanti Sport Spinner burst through the hologram over the entrance. From the little valley floor Cid put a round into fan of the spinner, and Jose hit with ten rounds from his 12.7mm assault rifle. From the top of the cliff Caitlin put a .50 caliber hole in the pilot’s chest. The craft spun and went down about a half a kilometer from the ‘rabbit hole’. Jose, Cid and Caitlin raced after it.
Caitlin got to the craft first. By some miracle the flimsy flyer had not disintegrated, but some burning debris surrounded it. Maybe a half dozen bears had come to see, but they seemed nervous about the fire so they stayed back for now. The girl carefully opened the pilot’s cockpit. The pilot was alive, barely. She pulled back his body to get at the seat belt (and check for weapons). That is when she saw his face. Of all the humans from the laboratories of BioWorks only two had shown her any kindness. The first had been ‘May-may’ who had taken care of her when she was very small. It was ‘May-may’ that had given to her beloved stuffed animal, Mousie. She was however just a voice and a distant memory. The other was ‘Uncle’. He had treated her always with a measure of kindness. He read her stories at night, and helped her excel in her studies. When the orders were given to ready the ‘products’ for final socialization and sale, Caitlin’s virginity became an issue. Some of the junior lab techs ignored protocol, drugged her just enough so she could be handled, and tied her down. It was Uncle, who had come to her rescue, and made them stop. She now stared down at Uncle’s face, on the body strapped into the spinner. She was gripped by panic as her world spun violently out of control.