Episode 16 – Suicide Isn’t the Answer



Karma rears its ugly head. The swamp smugglers inadvertently exact revenge, leaving a member of the team to mourn a lost loved one.

Sheriff Mason is forced to detain Natty, touching off a judicial tug-of-war over. Extradition to Alabama hangs in the balance. The possibility of extradition leaves the team with a hard choice.

The Grim Reaper works overtime in Blackwater as a string of deaths rocks the small community. A failed attempt on Natty’s life reveals a link between the deceased, but searching for the truth comes with its own perils.



President Whindam has made it the goal of his fifth term as president, to restore the sovereignty of the United States of America over the four southern states colloquially known as the ‘Cotton Kingdoms’. Under this directive, several teams have been formed to implement a plan concocted by C.I.A. Deputy Director Hamilton Greeley and US Attorney for the District of Northern Florida Richard Sharkey. One of these teams (The PCs) has been tasked with running the Petersen Point Resort. Located in Santa Rosa County on Florida’s panhandle, this seedy old tourist destination is perfectly situated, between the Pensacola COG and the Alabama border. Though they may be tasked with the occasional field op, the Petersen Point team’s primary mission is to act as a ‘safe haven’ and staging ground.

Members of this ‘Dirty Deeds’ team has been provided with cover jobs at the hotel. Sam Fisher, a retired Delta Force colonel and C.I.A. assassin, was the original team leader. His cold blooded murder of an Alabama State Trooper caused his employers to reevaluate his tenure.
Since his untimely death at the hands of a C.I.A. cleaner, the role of team leader has fallen to Ricco Torres. The Brazilian-born ex-cop turned corporate executive walks a fine line between loyalty to Disney and the needs of the mission. Those goals are in alignment, for now…


Dramatis Personae

The Team

Beebe Lafferty: A young tech and member of the Snake Nation helping Charlie with his various projects. She is the daughter of retired Major Beatrice ‘Bea’ Lafferty, who gained fame (or infamy) by firing the first artillery strike of the Fourth Corporate War on Night City.

Betty Lu: An attractive 25 yo lawyer of Chinese descent. Despite her appearance she is a Texas girl, through and through.

Brandon Heath: A solo who serves as head of security at the Petersen Point Resort. He is a member of the ‘Dirty Deeds’ crew. Unknown to everyone but Doctor Eduardo Ricci, Brandon is an experimental Biomechanical (cyborg) with one of Doc Freeman’s ‘cyberbrains’. Brandon was originally Grave, a cyborg from the Fourth Corporate War, who was later (2026) convicted of authorizing the murder of a young hacker and his family. Grave was supposedly executed but the government put him in their Project Kill Switch Program (see Super Solo 2 Campaign for details). He was rescued from a top secret government lab by his friend, Caitlin Jones.

Charlie Bibbliodoc: A master weaponsmith and owner of Boss Arms. He is a Snake Nation nomad in the area who is working on two projects. One is a government DARPA sponsored program to develop next generation laser technology. The other is to rearm and rehabilitate weapons systems for the floating colonies and vessels of the Thelas Nation in the Gulf of Mexico. He is an old friend of Sam Fisher from the Romanian Campaign.

Doctor Eduardo Ricci: This man is the hotel physician and a ‘Dirty Deeds’ employee. He is a Brazilian national who used to work with Roca Terrier, and is trained in bio-mechanical repair.

Owen ‘Crank’ Wolf: A young, muscle bound solo with experience in managing bars and other watering holes. He is a member of Sam’s ‘Dirty Deeds’ crew. His cover is Food and Beverage manager at the Petersen Point Resort.

Ricco Torres: A former member of the Rio de Janeiro Civil Police who became a private investigator when his friendship with certain ‘unsavory’ characters came to light. The Disney Corporation hired him to assist an Edgerunner team brought in to push their political agenda in Rio. In the process a monstrous plot that cost the lives of thousands of residents of the infamous favelas was uncovered and Ricco figured prominently in bringing the conspirators to justice. He was promoted and moved to Walt Disney World in Florida. When the United States government asked Disney for help, they sent Ricco who is now general manager of the Petersen Point Resort.

Mason Verge: A former Marine Force Recon member turned freelance solo with a good relationship with the Thelas nomads and a distinct dislike for the Alabama State Police.


The NPCs

Alice Timmons used to run the Trailer Park and the Guest Houses of the Petersen Point Hotel. Her books were clean but she didn’t sign in everyone and kept her stolen money in a Cayman Islands account. When an investigation threatened to expose her, she fled with her stolen cash to Venezuela and disappeared.

Alina Lanikova was the lead dancer at the Blue Moon Revue. She was a stunningly beautiful (ATTR 10), tall 29 year old Czech woman. She lived at the Resort with her teenage daughter, Natty. Alina was a former operative for the Czech Army’s Special Forces and as such garnered a lot of attention from United States authorities.

Amy Fry is a young Thelas and sister of Jason Fry. She dates Sammy Trang, the drummer of Velvet Blue.

Angela Bauer is an older woman who teaches at the Petersen Point School. Her Snake Nation family was absorbed by others. She settled in Blackwater and lives in the hotel trailer park. She speaks fluent German and is Natty Lanikova’s teacher.

Carrie Anne Thorn is the assistant hotel manager and bookkeeper at the Petersen Point Resort. She is a small white woman in her early sixties. Carrie Anne has arthritis so she doesn’t walk a lot.

Charles Ingersoll is the grandson-in-law of Sophie Petersen, widow of Randy Petersen and heiress to the Petersen Family Trust. He serves as CEO of the Petersen Point Properties Group.

Eustis (‘Useless’) Saint Claire is an old black man who runs the water and sewer system at the Petersen Point Resort.

Francis (Petersen) Ingersoll is the wife of Charles Ingersoll and sister of the late Mary Beth Petersen. She legally controls the Petersen Point Resort and acts as its CFO.

Frank Michaels is the senior NCIS agent at the Pensacola COG. He has befriended Alina and Natty Lanikova.

Gordon Harper is former Alabama State trooper and reported ‘hit man’ for the Lowndes Family of Alabama.

Greg Harris is the second son of Roger Harris who owns the Blackwater General Store. He used to date Natty before she blew him off for Steve Zelinsky. He’s not a bad kid and still pines for her.

Governor Braxton Lowndes II was the former governor (for life) of Alabama and son of the late ex-Governor Braxton Lowndes. He has just been murdered.

Hank Tremont is the president of the local charter of the Visigoths. He is a tough smart leader with eight years military experience. It was he who put together the smuggling connection with the nomads and used those connections to run guns and supplies to the rebels in Alabama after the Alabama State Police murdered his two sons in cold blood eight years ago.

Jack Sheppard is the marina manager and a Thelas nomad. He is ex-military and is organizing the resort’s defenses.

Jason Fry is a young Thelas nomad serving of Charlie’s test ship, the Sea Snake. His sister is Amy Fry. He has a thing for Beebe.

Jebediah Biggs is the junior agent (probie) from NCIS and partner to Agent Michaels. He wears a Marine crew cut.

Lt. Governor John Lowndes is the youngest of the Lowndes family of Alabama. He is reportedly a weak willed sybaritic womanizer, but is allowed to be Lt. Governor of Alabama. With the murder of his brother he is now slated to become governor.

Luis Cabral is a high level netrunner from Rio here in response to Ricco Torres’ request and Henrique’s endorsement.

Mai Saint Claire is the mother of Paris and wife of the late Delmar Saint Claire. This granddaughter of Tran Xuan Giap is a junkie and prostitute.

Mary Beth Petersen was the daughter of the late George and Elizabeth Petersen whose murder fifteen years ago still haunts the Petersen Family and the Town of Blackwater.

Michelle Petersen is the mother of Karl Petersen, granddaughter of the founder of the resort, Clarence Petersen and niece of Sophie and the late Randy Petersen. She was the ‘wild child’ of her generation. Michelle is one of the biggest landowners in the area and lives on the old Petersen Farm. She runs a craft and leather goods shop called ‘Crafty Michelle’s’.

Mona du Bois is a tall powerfully build Cajun black woman and exotic dancer at the Blue Moon Revue. She is 26 years old.

Mr. Godwin is an attorney for the State of Alabama licensed to practice law in Florida.

Natty Lanikova is the daughter of dancer Alina Lanikova and the teenage bassist for Velvet Blue. She dated Steve Zelinsky of the Visigoths and doesn’t speak English very well.

Paris Saint Claire is the lead singer for the band Velvet Blue and granddaughter of Eustis Saint Claire. She and Natty are best friends.

Richard King is a highly placed Disney executive who deals in ‘delicate’ situations. He is the man Disney sends when things are going wrong and action must be taken. He has the nickname ‘King Dick’, but never to his face!

Richard Sharkey is US Attorney for the District of Northern Florida.

Sammy Trang is the drummer of the band Velvet Blue and boyfriend of Amy Fry.

Sargent Willard Broome is the senior patrol officer for this area. He is a crew-cut wearing no-nonsense trooper who was born and raised in the Pensacola area. This white officer is honest and has no partisan grudges.

Sheriff Marcus G. (Garvey) Mason of Santa Rosa County is a powerfully built African-American with a bald head and piercing brown eyes. He has been sheriff for seventeen years and on the force for eight years before that as well as twelve years in the Army. He has a cyberarm and two cybereyes as well as a lot of smaller cyberware. The man has a reputation as a tough, honest cop who protects his county.

Sheriff Roger Calhoun of Escambia County was a hard ass white cop, who had his job for 24 years. His son-in-law was a top member of the Johnson Crime Clan. Calhoun was hopelessly corrupt and hated himself for it.

Superintendent Richard Lowndes is the head of the Alabama State Police and second son to the late Governor Braxton Lowndes. His older brother Braxton Lowndes II became governor, but was murdered recently.

Sydney Green is the deputy comptroller of Petersen Point Properties and is here to find evidence of Ricco Torres’ malfeasance.

Tolland CasperTCJames is the sergeant at arms of the local chapter of the Visigoths. He is the first cousin of Bruce James, manager of Angus Young’s farm, but they are not very close. TC is ex-military and has two cyberlegs and a cyberarm. He was Mary Beth Petersen’s lover when she died. Her death shattered him and drove the man into becoming a borderline cyberpsycho.

Tran Xuan Giap is the patriarch of the Tran family and a member of the town council. He still captains the shrimp boat, Golden Flower. The man is very conservative and old school.

Troopers Johnson and Barstow are from the Alabama State Police.

Trooper Seth Hunt is Broome’s usual partner. He is from Tallahassee and the ‘new guy’. He is a decent and honest white man.

Ty Saint Claire is Paris’s cousin and the smoking hot guitar player of Velvet Blue. He is a bald (he shaves it) ebony skinned man. He also plays at the Blackwater Jubilee Baptist Church.


The Action

Tuesday, May 28, 2047:

Ricco regrets the decision to let Sydney Green sit in on the weekly staff meeting. The chief accountant had waylaid him in the hallway just before they started. The man had promised to refrain from commenting or asking questions. All he asked was an opportunity to address the assembled managers at the end of the meeting. To refuse would make him look petty or possibly cause suspicion, so he had agreed.

Green had so far been true to his word. He had not said a thing, but the man’s mere presence was throwing of the entire meeting. Ricco cannot help but notice the furtive glances directed at the representative from Petersen Point Properties or the self editing from certain department heads as they deliver their reports. If Green is aware of their discomfort, he is not letting it show.

The general banter is absent. No one seems willing to discuss any new business with a man from corporate in the room, so he cuts the meeting short. “Before we break, Mr. Green would like to say a few words.” Ricco sits to give the deputy comptroller the floor.

As Green rises, the passive expression that he had worn throughout the meeting is replaced by one of disdain. He doesn’t bother to acknowledge the general manager and instead drops a bombshell.

“A review of the recent financial data for the resort has turned up glaring irregularities; bordering on the criminal. We will be conducting a full audit of each department. I will be contacting each of you individually. Please have your records in order. State prosecutors have been notified of our findings. If any of you wish to speak up now, criminal charges might be avoided.” Green pauses for emphasis before continuing, “Petersen Point Properties plans to prosecute those involved to the fullest extent of the law.”

No names are mentioned, but Ricco knows that the accountant’s comments were directed at him. If Green’s hope was to sow dissention in the ranks, he has badly miscalculated.


Around the hotel a local news bulletin flashes repeatedly on the vid screens:

Local and state police, with the assistance of federal authorities conducted a series of raids this morning. Thirteen members of the reputed Johnson Crime family have been arrested. There is no confirmation at this time, but these arrests may have been touched off by evidence recovered from the safety deposit box of the late Sheriff Calhoun. We will be following this situation as it unfolds.


Taking pains to make sure they are not followed, Ricco and Brandon adjourn to the tunnels. They meet up with the rest of the team in the secret ‘war’ room to discuss what they should do about Sydney Green. Crank suggests hanging the financial discrepancies on Alice Timmons. There is enough proof that the former trailer park manager had been embezzling from the resort for years. “Maybe Carrie Ann could re-cook the books to produce evidence that her illegal activities were more extensive than first thought.”

Ricco is not certain that Carrie Ann would frame her friend. Even if she would, the decentralized management of the departments’ budgets would make it difficult to pin the activity on a single person. The general manager tables the discussion, opting to let Green make the first move. He does however call Richard King, to make the Disney executive aware of Green’s threats.

Beebe is at the general manager’s office, when a call comes in from security. Two Federal agents are at the school. Neither she nor Ricco have to guess why they’re there; Natty. Crank joins them as the head for the school. Having heard the alert on the radio, Brandon meets them in the parking lot. The security chief stays outside in the patrol car, while the other three head inside.

Locating the agents is surprisingly easy. Jebediah Biggs stands guard at the door of an unused classroom. The sound of uncontrollable sobbing carries through the closed door. Beebe instinctively moves forward, only to be brought up short by Agent Biggs’ extended arm. “Agent Michaels and Ms Bauer are speaking with Miss Lanikova. The spinner transporting her mother was shot down over the Blackwater Bayou. Ms. Lanikova’s body has been recovered from the wreckage, along with those of the pilot and other passengers.”

All three are stunned. Biggs steps aside as the door opens. Frank Michaels and Angela Bauer exit the room with Natty. The girl’s sobs have ceased, replaced by dull catatonia. She stares unseeing out of red rimmed eyes as Beebe rushes to her. There is no hint of recognition. She doesn’t return her friend’s embrace or offer any resistance as Beebe and Angela lead her down the hall.

Natty’s home is still a crime scene. Beebe immediately offers to put her up, but Angela feels it would be better if Natty stayed with her. The nomad sees no need to argue the point. As long as her friend is safe, that’s all that matters.

Ricco and Crank talk with Agent Michaels and confirm that Alina Lanikova is dead. It’s clear that he’s is taking her death personally. Michaels reveals that the spinner was shot down by a group of smuggler’s that have a compound near the Alabama border. Both realize they are probably the same ‘smugglers’ the team hit earlier in the evening.

Upon returning to his office, Ricco instructs Betty Lu to destroy the letters he left regarding A.C. Johnson. To take his mind off their current troubles the ex-cop delves into the cold case files. He reaches out to Hank Tremont, but the Visigoth’s president can offer no new information on the death of Mary Beth Petersen. He does make one suggestion. “You might want to speak with Michelle Petersen. She and Mary Beth were always close.”

Before contacting Michelle, Ricco considers enlisting the aid of Francis Ingersoll (and hopefully Charles as well). Given their current troubles with Petersen Point Properties he is very careful in how he words the request. The ex-cop wants to make it clear that he is conducting a serious investigation; completely separate from any other business dealing he might have with her husband.


Dear Mrs. Frances Ingersoll,

Sheriff Marcus Mason (of Santa Rosa County) has asked me to investigate some cold case deaths—including that of your sister, Marybeth. I know you and she were close friends, and I am hoping you and your husband can shed new light on the situation.

First, TC James’ alibi is a strong one. I have ruled him out as a suspect. Second, it’s possible this was a hit-and-run accident. If so, we probably will never know who was responsible. There are too many vehicles in the state that could have been involved. However, if it was murder, then in most cases, something the victim either did or knew will have intersected with the killer. I am hoping that you and Charles have knowledge about your sister that you may not realize is important to the case.

May I come meet with you and your husband to ask questions about your sister’s life and friends and activities in the few months before her death?


Ricardo Torres


Ricco makes sure the letter is mailed that day.

That evening, a formal announcement is released by the State of Alabama. Lt. Governor John Lowndes will be sworn in as governor on Monday, June 10th. The ceremony will take place in the capital of Dothan.

Ricco calls an evening meeting Dirty Deeds team. “In there are any of you that have not heard, Alina Lanikova, Natty’s mother has been killed. The state police spinner was shot down by the smugglers we hit. Teams have been to the area to recover the wreckage and bodies; which brings us to our problem. While they are out there searching, they could come across the wreckage of the hotel’s airboats.”

Most of the team favors going back and cleaning up the evidence. To Beebe, trading the chance of discovery for a certainty is insane. “You want to go back into the swamp when it’s crawling with feds and god knows what else…to clean up wreckage that they may or may not find? Isn’t that why Jack’s people have been working on the boats we captured.”

At mention of his name, Jack speaks up. “When we’re done, they’ll look exactly like the one’s we lost.”

Building on Jack’s assurance, Beebe offers one more though that she hopes will sway them from going on what could be a suicide mission. “Even if they find the wreckage we will have two fully functional boats to show them. These people were smugglers. It only stands to reason, that they might disguise their airboats. Is it our fault if they disguised them to look like the airboats from the hotel?”

It might be a weak excuse, but it does the trick. They actually listen to her (for once) and the sortie into the swamp is scrapped.



Wednesday, May 29, 2047:

Dispatch issues a security alert around mid-morning, as a column of vehicles drives onto the property. Three Alabama State Police vehicles accompanied by three marked LEDiv armored SUVs and two FDLE patrol cruisers proceed down Petersen Point Road towards the school. Both cruisers and an SUV pull into the parking lot, the remaining vehicles split up, heading for the employee cottages on the harbor and Charlie’s house.

Ricco places an emergency call to Sheriff Mason before dashing over to the school with Brandon, Crank and Betty Lu. Sargent Willard Broome is waiting for them in the parking lot. Broome tries to be conciliatory as he explains, “We are escorting an Alabama State Police Inspector with a material witness warrant for Natty Lanikova.”

Ricco is appalled that they would stand by and let them take Natty based on an Alabama warrant.

The sergeant assures them, “I wouldn’t. They brought along Richard Sharkey, the US Attorney for Northern Florida. My hands are tied.”

Betty Lu looks at the warrant as Broome talks with Ricco. “Look, we were brought in to keep the peace. The Federal Attorney is here to make sure that they don’t get humiliated again by fifteen year old girl. Seems she slipped through their fingers once before.”

As they wait for Sheriff Mason, Ricco calls Beebe. The nomad heads over to Angela’s, but Natty is already gone. The inspector exits the school with Trooper Seth Hunt. “Where is she,” he demands, advancing on the group by the cruisers. The Czech girl doesn’t appear to have been in class either. “If you are interfering with the execution of my warrant, I’ll have you arrested on charges of obstruction.”

While they ‘debate’ Natty’s location and the legality of the warrant, Sheriff Mason pulls into the parking lot. Marcus asks for and is handed the warrant. He takes his time reviewing the contents, which aggravates the inspector to no end. Marcus hand the document back. With a good natured smile, he informs the inspector, “Sorry you don’t have the authority to enforce this warrant,” hooking a thumb towards Sharkey, ”unless the District Attorney here intends to make this a Federal issue.”

Though obviously perturbed by this oversight, the man quickly rises to the challenge. “Then, as the local authority, I officially request that you execute this lawful warrant.”

Sheriff Mason is obliged to comply. Het turns to Ricco,“All right, go and find Natty. I have to bring her in.”

Ricco can’t help feeling a bit betrayed by his friend. It comes out in his tone. “I already told them, we do not know where she is,”

Marcus doesn’t hold it against him. It’s a difficult situation, but he still has a job to do. Using a tone that would be the envy of any drill sergeant Sheriff Mason delivers an ultimatum. “If you can’t produce the girl, I’ll have to call up men and in one hour we will execute a search of every nock and cranny of this resort until we find her.” Mason makes sure that all of the onlookers hear him, especially those crowding the windows of the school. If any of them are hiding the girl he wants them to know what’s at stake.

Ricco looks into his friend’s eyes. Marcus is not bluffing, but at least he bought them an hour to find a solution. Even if they could find Natty, there’s no way they could turn her over. Still, as an ex-cop he understands the game. They have to appear to be complying with his request. “Sheriff, could a couple of your deputies help our security force check the trailer parks and cottages? They know the people there. It might be best if the Inspector and his Alabama storm troopers stay where they. The same goes for their Federal handlers. We wouldn’t want any unintended incidents.”

It is a petty jab, but Ricco does not like being backed into a corner.

As if they needed reminding, the Federal Attorney calls after them, “you’ve got one hour.”

It takes only 20 minutes to find Natty; hiding down in the old fort’s tunnels. She is scared, but willing to talk. If Sam Fisher were still alive he would probably kill the girl to protect the mission. Ricco would be a liar if he said the thought had not crossed his mind, but his conscience won’t allow it. In the end, he leaves the decision up to the girl herself.

Ricco lays out the situation. “If we do not turn you over, the police are going to tear the resort apart looking for you. They’ll find the tunnels and all of the equipment. Everyone could be in danger.” It’s a lot to put on a fifteen year old.

Natty agrees to go with Sheriff Mason. Marcus’ stern demeanor relaxes as the two pull up to the school. “Cut it a mite close dincha?” Ricco knows he is trying to break the tension, but it brings no solace. Handing the girl over could mean all their deaths.

“Trust me, Ricco.” Placing a reassuring hand on Natty’s shoulder, Sheriff Mason walks the girl over to the Alabama Inspector and Federal Attorney Sharkey. “Natalie, these men want you to go with them to help find out what happened to Governor Braxton Lowndes II and your mother. Do you want to go with them?”

Natty arches an eyebrow, looks to the sheriff then back to the two men and say, “No!” emphatically.

“This is ridiculous,” the Inspector has no interest in prolonging the matter any further. He steps forward and reaches for Natty only to find Sheriff Mason standing in his way.

“This is my prisoner and she is contesting her extradition. You can take it up with Judge Hamilton.”

Seizing the opportunity, Betty Lu steps forward, “I’m Ms. Lanikova’s attorney. I wish to confer with my client,” Marcus waves her over then ushers the two women towards his patrol car.

The inspector is beside himself. He screams at the District Attorney, “Do something!”

Sharkey can only hold up his hands. The two men hustle for their respective vehicles. Sheriff Mason drives slowly off the property, followed closely by the entire governmental motorcade.

Within the hour, Alabama has a hearing scheduled for tomorrow at 10 am. Betty Lu stays with her client and studies the case.



Thursday, May 30, 2047:

The only ‘direct’ evidence the Alabama State Police can produce linking Alina to the murder of Governor Braxton Lowndes is the security code used to gain access to his residence. It was the code issued to Alina during her ‘visit’ last month. Using this ‘smoking gun’, the Alabama lawyers craft a case of circumstantial evidence and character assassination.

Natty is forced to listen as her mother’s reputation is dragged through the mud. A parade of witnesses offer testimony aimed at forging a connection between Alina and the Alabama Freedom Army. To this, Betty Lu raises an objection. “Your honor their portraying my client’s mother as being a member of the AFA, while also claiming that it was the AFA, that downed the skimmer. It seems that anything that goes wrong in Alabama is blame on the Alabama Freedom Army.”

The Alabama lawyer interjects, “Your honor, please bear with me. We are establishing a pattern of activity. The testimony of troopers Johnson and Barstow will bear out my line of questioning. And if it pleases the court we ask that opposing council be directed to refrain from making further slanderous comments.”

“I will take it under advisement.” Judge Hamilton appears none to please to be told how to run his court room. “You may proceed Mr. Godwin, but I’d advise you not to waste the court’s time.”

“Thank you your honor.” Aware that the judge’s patience is wearing this, Godwin forgoes calling any further ‘character witnesses’ and proceeds directly to the two troopers. Natty takes note of both men as they take the stand. They were members of the team that put her mother on the spinner. The troopers’ testimony is nearly identical. Neither considers the mission an extraction. Both men swear that Alina went willingly. “She was going to give up the AFA, which is why they killed her. It’s a bold face lie, but impossible to prove. As the hearing lets out for lunch recess, things aren’t looking good.

Certain of victory, the Alabama authorities are more than willing to speak with the tight ring of media gathered on the steps of the courthouse. Frank Michaels slips past the gauntlet of reporters and eases over to Ricco. He nods to Crank and Brandon who are standing with the general manager. After exchanging pleasantries Michaels offers an observation. “You know after all that happened to her, you’d think a trained agent like Alina Lanikova might have bugged her own house to see if anyone broke in while she was gone.”

Ricco doesn’t immediately pick up on the significance, but Crank does. “Yes, that would make sense.”

The NCIS agent continues. “I’ve seen her place. If it were me, I’d put it in one of the flutes in that carved mirror frame over the mantle.”

Owen agrees, “That would be a good place, Thanks.”

Agent Michaels gives them a wry smile before walking back towards the courthouse. “Don’t mention it.”

Ricco can’t help but add his own thanks. Michaels stop short and looks back at the general manager, fixing him with a stare. “No, really…don’t mention it.” Ricco nods to let the agent know he understands.

Brandon and Crank speed off towards the resort. Alina’s bungalow is still a crime scene, but with no officer on site, they push through the tape and search where Michaels had suggested. Sure enough, there’s a camouflaged micro recorder. The two race back to the courthouse. Brandon accesses the device’s memory while Crank drives. Scrolling forward to the night of the extraction, reveals a sequence of events far different what the two troopers testified to in court.

Alina is ambushed; shot with tranquilizing darts. Even drugged, she takes down two assailants, before going down herself. After she’s down, the three remaining attackers beat her with stun batons. These blows are not to subdue their quarry but to punish her for hurting their friends. A few kicks are thrown in for good measure. Alina is finally dragged out by her feet. Most damning of all is the image captured of the man who appears to be leading the extraction team; Trooper Johnson.

The afternoon session starts with Betty Lu introducing Sheriff Mason’s report of his investigation. According to his findings Alina was working at the Blue Moon at the time of the governor’s murder. The attorney then calls Brandon Heath to the stand. He details how in his capacity as a Blackwater Town Constable he entered the Lanikova residence and recovered a digital recording device.

The Alabama lawyer immediately raises an objection. “Your honor, we were not made aware of this evidence and have had no opportunity to verify its authenticity. “

Betty Lu breaks in. “Your honor, this evidence has only just come to light. My client made me aware of the security device after the testimonies of troopers Johnson and Barstow. Mr. Heath delivered it to me only moments before we reconvened. There was no opportunity to present it to my ‘colleague’. This evidence will directly refute the testimony presented troopers Johnson and Barstow.

Over Alabama’s objection, the Judge orders the video played. The court watches in hushed horror. Even the Assistant Federal District Attorney sent by Richard Sharkey is appalled. Judge Hamilton quashes the warrant and dresses down the LEDiv agents. The Alabama State Police officer who beat the unconscious Alina is arrested on the spot and warrants for the other two are issued. Bail is set at $500,000.

Natty is released. Beebe catches her friend, staring at the Alabama State Trooper as he is led away in cuffs. She’s seen the look before, but the nomad no longer fears for her friend. Thoughts of revenge have tempered her grief. After seeing the video, she hopes Natty gets the chance to settle accounts with the state trooper. The ride back to the resort is a somber one. They may have won the court case, but Alina is still dead.

(GM Note: Of course the camera was not put there by Alina, but by the Federal task force watching the ex-Czech Special Forces operative. When the decision came down by the Feds not to release the recording, Michaels took matters into his own hands. He had taken a liking to the mother and daughter.)



Friday, May 31, 2047:

The next South Am Tour arrives and takes up 43 rooms.

Ricco contacts Michelle Petersen about her late cousin. Michelle insists that no one hated Mary Beth. “The only disagreement I can remember her having was with her grandfather, Randy, They argued about her relationship with T.C. James, but Uncle Randy would never hurt her. Mary Beth meant the world to him.”

From the way Michelle describes it, Mary Beth didn’t have an enemy in the world…at least none she knew of. She gives him a list of her cousin’s friends. “I don’t know if it will help, but they might know something I don’t.”

Trooper Johnson’s bail is reduced to $50,000. He is placed on administrative leave. The two other Alabama troopers involved in the incident are arraigned on lesser charges. The three return to Alabama.

Beebe meets up with her friends after they finish school. Paris is beaming. The singer bounces with excitement as she exclaims “He invited me! I can’t believe it. My grandfather invited me to the family’s Children’s Day celebration; tomorrow.”

For the last sixteen years, Tran Xuan Giap refused to acknowledge the existence of his half breed granddaughter. For the Old Man, she was a living reminder of his son and the shame he brought to the family. Recent revelation about his son and the loss of Lilly, have made him regret his treatment of Paris. To make amends, he personally invited her to the celebration.

The Children’s Day Festival had been an important celebration in Vietnam during his youth. When he emigrated to the U.S. the elder Tran kept the tradition alive. The day now marks the annual Tran family reunion. Tomorrow night’s band practice has to be postponed but the girls could care less. After losing her mother, time with family has taken on a new significance for Natty. She’s happy for her friend. Paris’ exuberance helps her forget her own grief.

That evening Ricco sits down with Brandon, Crank and Betty Lu. He’s hit a wall in his investigation and hopes to pick their brain. Crank actually comes up with a theory he hadn’t considered. “What if her murder was an act of retaliation against T.C. James?” The Sergeant at arms of the Visigoths would have a lot of enemies. It bears looking into.



Saturday, June 1, 2047:

Brandon is ambushed while on patrol. Without armor, the patrol car offers little protection from the onslaught. High powered rounds punch through the thin metal and tear into the security chief. The staccato bark of a submachine gun joins the full auto roar of the assault rifle. Both gunmen empty their weapons into the passenger compartment of the vehicle, before driving off.

The attack would be enough to kill any normal person. Even for a biomechanical cyborg like Brandon, the concentrated fire is almost too much. Dr. Ricci stabilizes his systems, but the damage is extensive. There are enough spare parts on hand to affect repairs, but it will take time. For the moment the resort is without its security chief.

Beebe takes Paris into Milton to have her hair done for the Children’s day celebration that evening. Not wanting to give the Alabama authorities an opportunity to grab her, Natty stays on the hotel grounds. Paris’ excitement for the evening ahead has the singer floating on air. The nomad is happy for her, but that happiness is tempered with concern. Her friend has already had too many disappointments in her life, mainly at the hands of her family. It’s what makes the nomad linger outside the Tran home after dropping off Paris. She doesn’t feel comfortable leaving till she sees the girl’s estranged family greet her with genuine love and affection,

Beebe heads over to the Panhandle Saloon to meet up with Jason, Amy and the remaining members of Velvet Blue. With practice cancelled Sammy, Ty and Natty are there to support their friends in Pounze da Lion and get drunk. Natty is well on her way to getting hammered when she runs in to her ex-boyfriend (Greg Harris) on the way to the bathroom.

Copious amounts of alcohol and grief prove to be an unusual aphrodisiac for the young girl. The two wind up dry humping in a dark corner. Natty still has feeling for Greg, and the close physical contact takes away the pain in her heart. The girl has always been uninhibited, but at the moment she is out of control. Her friends intervene when she tries drag Greg out the door. She is determined to get fucked and doesn’t care who hears it.

Surprisingly, Greg Harris proves to be a better man than most of her friends thought. He steps in to shut her down. “Natty, I want you…but not like this.”

Her affections denied, Natty launches into a drunken tirade, screaming at Greg as he walks away. She says some truly awful things before her friends can get her outside. Her rage gives way to tears. Beebe holds Natty as she bawls into her shoulder. “Why doesn’t anyone love me?”



Sunday, June 2, 2047:

Beebe waits till late morning to swing by and pick up Natty, knowing she needs the rest. The Czech girl is hung over, but anxious to see Paris and hear about the Tran’s Children’s Day party. Paris’s grandfather Eustis is in the kitchen of Saint Claire farmhouse, apparently nursing his own hangover.

“She’s not up yet. Go on up and wake her.”

The two girls run up the stairs. A rapid rap on the door brings no answer, so Natty breezes into the room. Beebe moves to follow and runs into her friend’s back. The Czech girl stands rooted in the doorway her face locked in shocked horror. Paris’ limp body hangs by her neck in the center of the room from the overhead light fixture.

“No!” Natty runs out of the room and flees the house..

Beebe screams for Eustis while moving to Paris. She tries to lift her up to take the pressure off her neck. The body is cold to the touch. She knows her fried is dead, but instinct takes over. Beebe cuts down her friend’s body, pulling the cord from around her neck, she searches for a pulse. The girl’s eyes are open and glassy. Her skin has taken on a gray pallor.

Eustis stumbles into the room. He bursts into tears at the sight of his granddaughter. The elder Saint Claire cradles Paris’ body, crying uncontrollably. Beebe calls Ty, who races over from the house next door. The nomad then calls both Sheriff Mason and Ricco. Beebe notices a media flexi on the floor near the body. It’s an article from a New Orleans news service. The piece is brief, reporting the discovery of the body of Mai Saint Claire, a known prostitute (and Paris’s mother); found dead from an overdose.

Ty helps his grandfather from the room. The sound of sirens announces the arrival police. Ricco shows up with Brandon and Crank soon after. Marcus isn’t happy that Beebe cut down the body and contaminated the crime scene. “What were you thinking? Do you know what your action could do to this investigation?

The sheriff continues to dress her down, but Beebe stops listening. She doesn’t give a shit what he has to say; her friend is dead. Cutting her down may have been wrong, but there’s no way she could let Paris’ grandfather see her hanging from the ceiling. It is bad enough that Natty saw it. Natty…where had she run off too? The nomad starts to worry about her other friend.

“Well?” Beebe realizes that Sheriff Mason was waiting for an answer. If he’s looking for an apology or trying to make her feel worse than she already does he can go fuck himself. The only thing on her mind now is finding Natty.

“The next time you find one of your friends hanging from the ceiling, feel free to leave him hanging there. I did what I did. You have my statement. Are we through?”

Marcus sighs. “Yes, you can go.”

While Beebe goes in search of Natty, Eustis gives his statement to Sheriff Mason. “I was still up when Paris got home. She was over at the Tran’s last night…she was so happy.” Tears begin to roll down the elder Saint Claire’s cheeks.

Marcus gives Eustis a moment before showing him the flexi. He’s never seen it before, but the contents bring a new wash of tears to the old man’s eyes. Sheriff Mason feels terrible about piling onto the old man’s grief. He cuts the interview short. “Eustis, if you think of anything, give me a call at any time.” Marcus excuses himself to speak with the coroner.

Ricco offers his condolences to Eustis then follows after the sheriff. He overhears the medical examiner deliver his initial report. “Looks like suicide by asphyxiation.”

Marcus doesn’t look convinced. “Make sure,”

The ex-cop wants to talk with the sheriff in private, but a call from the security office spoils the opportunity and possibly the rest of the day. It’s Mason Verge. Housekeeping was checking out a complaint from a guest about a bad smell coming from one of the rooms. They found a dead body in the bathtub.

Ricco sighs. It looks like he will get his chance to speak Marcus. “Do you have a name?”

Verge hesitates…”It’s Sydney Green.”

The general manager swears under his breath. Sheriff Mason’s phone rings. After a brief conversation he looks over at Ricco. He must be getting the same report. Marcus laughs without humor. “It just doesn’t stop around here, does it?”

There is no apparent cause of death for Mr. Green. The coroner estimates that the deputy comptroller has been dead since last Friday. Housekeeping had not previously entered the room due to the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door.

Marcus is not one to pass the buck, but with this situation he feels it best to call in the FDLE. Sargent Broome takes over the investigation. The staff isn’t sorry to see the end of Mr. Green. They might think it will solve their problems, but Ricco knows things will only get worse.

After fruitless hours spent searching on her own, Beebe reaches out to her fellow nomads to find Natty. The Czech girl is finally spotted on the dock behind the bungalow she shared with her mother. Beebe walks onto the dock cautiously; not wanting to spook her. Natty turns at the sound of her approach. “Stay back, you’ll just die too!”

The nomad tries to calm her friend, but the girl keeps repeating, “Paris would never kill herself.”

All Beebe can do is agree. “I know. So let’s find out who did this and make them pay.” She finally works her way up to Natty and gets her to sit back down at the end of the dock. They sit in silence for a while, Beebe’s arm wrapped around the shoulder of the younger girl. After a time, Natty asks in a quiet voice, “Am I cursed? Everyone I care for dies. You have to get away from me, or you might be next.”

“No.” The response comes out as an odd croak, causing Natty to look over at her friend. Tears flow freely down Beebe’s cheeks. “You stick by family no matter what.” Hours stream by as the two watch the river and talk. Natty harbors guilt for more than just the recent deaths. She tells Beebe about her step-father. He was murdered when she was very young. Natty believes it was because of her. The nomad can’t understand why she blames herself for his death. It is well after dark, before Beebe can coax Natty to return to Angela’s trailer. Emotional exhaustion has left her drained. She is fast asleep by the time her head hits the pillow.



Monday, June 3, 2047:

The weekly staff meeting is grim and brief. Richard King has promised a new armored security car within the next forty-eight hours. The Visigoths call and ask to have their annual midsummer party at the hotel. Hank Tremont wants to come and make a formal request at next week’s staff meeting. With hotel business out of the way, Ricco informs the Team that the Dirty Deeds group will meet in an hour in the tunnel’s secure conference room.

Ricco returns to his office and calls the main corporate office of Petersen Point Properties to express his condolences on the death of Sydney Green. While this is a genuine gesture by the Brazilian, the executive who answers the call stutters a bit and hangs up. Ricco finds that curious.

(GM Note: The circumstances of the past six months have been interpreted very differently at the home offices in Miami. Their research on Ricco has brought to light his recent heroic actions in Rio, but it has also uncovered all of his criminal connections and every dirty false rumor of his corruption. In addition, the annihilation of the Johnson Crime Family and Rattlesnakes MC in Florida paint a very scary picture. Often, people see what they want to see and jump to the conclusions that support it. Unknown to Ricco, he is considered the devil incarnate at Petersen Point Properties. Executives and secretaries invoke his name when their children misbehave. The man who took Ricco’s call interpreted it as akin to a Mafia Don sending the biggest wreath to the funeral of his latest victim!)

Before heading into the Dirty Deeds meeting, Ricco speaks with Crank in private. “Did you tell your ‘contacts’ that I had spoken with Richard King about Sam Fisher being a potential threat to the success of this mission?” Crank admits he did, but doesn’t elaborate further. Ricco starts to wonder just who these ‘contacts’ really are.

In the meeting Jack Sheppard reports that his defensive preparations are complete. The nomads and select members of the hotel staff have been formed into a militia of sorts. All of the lighthouse bunkers are armed. He has even put together mobile anti-aircraft and heavy weapons squads. In case of a siege, there are also people assigned to support functions. It will take a couple of hours to fully mobilize, but everyone is well armed and has been issued the old Soviet armored BDUs bought by Randy Petersen.

Returning to his office, Ricco summons Luis Cabral. The two men look into local security companies specializing in cyberdogs. Adding a few of the cybernetic units could enhance their patrol capability. They find two sources: one on the east side of the COG and another in Pensacola. Before making a decision, Ricco has lunch with Hank Tremont for his thoughts on the plan.

Charlie and Beebe have a big day. Pentagon and DARPA officials descend on Blackwater for the final two day field test of his x-ray laser rifle. The weaponsmith has stabilized the beam at 4d6 maximum output. While this is less than the pistol version, its range and accuracy are far superior. The x-ray laser also has the benefit of being very difficult to detect. The first day’s testing goes exceptionally well.



Tuesday, June 4, 2047:

The x-ray laser rifle performs flawlessly, pleasing the officials from the Defense Department. Charlie and Beebe are assured that acceptance is a mere formality. With half of his projects now complete, the weapon’s designer realizes that he will soon be able to write his own ticket with the government. His patents will be a license to print money!

Sheriff Mason stops by to see Ricco. The news is bad but not unexpected. Sydney Green’s death has been ruled a homicide. There is very little forensic evidence and none of it implicates Ricco, but he is considered the prime suspect. Pressure from Tallahassee has taken the investigation out of the hands of the sheriff’s department. The FDLE (state police) have been put in charge. People behind the scenes are pulling strings and the truth seems less important than the ‘correct’ result wanted by Ricco’s enemies. The general manager wastes no time contacting Richard King.

Crank spends the evening at the Blue Moon Revue overseeing Amateur Night. He looks up from the roster of participants to find Natty Lanikova standing in front of him asking to sign up. Although only fifteen, she is of legal age in Florida. She’s also a very pretty girl. Still he feels the need to ask, “Why do you want to do this?”

The Czech’s voice wavers, “My mom is dead. I have to support myself or they might ship me back to the Czech Republic.”

Crank knows that she has more money than she will ever need, but explaining where it came from would be problematic. “OK, we’ll give you a shot.”

(GM Note: Natty has no visible means of support. She is terrified that the state or the federal government might intervene. As a Czech citizen, her own government doesn’t consider her an adult and may demand her return. The prospect of going home terrifies her.)

Mona du Bois, who is also at the registration table, asks to speak with Crank in private. With Alina’s death, she has taken over the role of ‘Den Mother’ and union rep. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

He saw this argument coming. “She’s of legal age and she needs the job.”

Natty lost Steve last month, and both her mother and Paris this past week. The girl is a mess. She might be legal, but she’s a train wreck waiting to happen.”

“She can handle herself.”

Mona shakes her head, “Really? What do you think she’ll do to the first yahoo who gets out of line in a champagne room with her?”

Owen is certain she wouldn’t hesitate to kill anyone she felt was a ‘threat’. Not something that would be good for business or for Natty. Though he doesn’t want to admit it, Mona is right. He goes up and talks to Natty before she gets ready for her ‘audition’.

“Look, you shouldn’t do this. I don’t think your mother would approve.” Natty’s face falls at his words. “But I could use another bartender. If you want a job, I’ll have the girls train you, so you can stay and keep your place at the Resort.”

The Czech girl’s face brightens. Owen takes her over to the head bartender and quickly works out a training schedule starting next week.



Wednesday, June 5, 2047:

Dispatch contacts Mason Verge around 3 am. “Mason, can you swing over to Angela Bauer’s trailer? The night desk operator called. Her line has been showing ‘off-hook’ for the past half hour. He tried to contact her on her cell, but there’s no answer.”

There are no lights on inside, which isn’t surprising given the early hour. Angela’s car is in the drive, so she should be home. Mason knocks at the door, but no one answers. All appears quiet. To be sure, he peers through the trailer’s windows. The darkness inside is no obstacle for eyes enhanced with night vision. He can clearly see Natty sprawled out on the floor in the main room of the trailer.

Mason calls for backup then rips the door open. The girl is still breathing, but unconscious. There is some kind of cord around her neck. Looking around, he spots an overturned end table and beyond, a second person in the room. Surprised, Mason instinctively pulls his sidearm, drawing down on the possible threat. “Let me see your hands!” There is no reaction.

Keeping his gun trained, the security officer eases towards the man. He is sitting with his legs splayed out in front of him; back against the trailer wall. Mason hadn’t seen him from the window. He had been below the security officer’s field of vision.

There is no movement from the man as Mason approaches. His head lolls to one side, eyes open and fixed. During his tour of duty, the ex-marine had seen enough bodies, to know the man is dead. If not for the wall, he would have probably slumped all the way to the floor.

The area around the body is darker than the rest of the floor. Mason reaches back to flip on the wall switch by the door. Deep crimson stains cover the man’s lower half as well as the carpet underneath. A bloodied switchblade is clutched in his left hand. In his right is a pistol.

Even though the man is dead, he still disarms the corpse. Mason swallows hard as he works. If things had gone differently, he could have walked right into an ambush.

The pistol is a tranq gun. There are several darts missing from the clip. Mason searches Natty and finds two in her back. He pulls them out and waits for backup. The security officer keeps his gun drawn in case the man wasn’t working alone.

Ricco and Brandon arrive first, followed soon after by Dr. Ricci and the rest of the team.

“Where’s Angela?”

Mason doesn’t have a good answer for the general manager’s question. He had decided to stay with Natty rather than check the rest of the trailer. The security officer points to the back bedroom his mistake.

Angela is in her bed, sleeping deeply. When they are unable to wake her, Dr. Ricci surmises, that she may have been drugged as well. While the doctor checks to two women, Brandon looks over their dead attacker. The man’s face is familiar. He snaps a pic and sends it to the security office. Within a couple of minutes, they are able to confirm that the man checked into the hotel over a week ago.

A search of the trailer turns up a small medical bag. Inside are drugs, rope, nano cleaners and other sundries. “Looks like a kill bag.” Crank may have said it aloud, but thought was also on Ricco’s mind. He could understand Alabama sending someone to drug and abduct the girl, but kill her? It doesn’t track. The security team turns over the crime scene to the sheriff’s office when deputies arrive. Dr. Ricci has Natty rushed to the resort’s infirmary.

Exsanguination is listed as the cause of death. Natty had managed to stab her attacker in the left leg with her switchblade. The blade had sliced through the femoral artery leading to rapid blood loss.

Given the attempt on her life, Sheriff Mason requests that the girl be transferred to Milton Hospital, but Dr. Ricci refuses to release his patient. “She has still not woken up. I need time to identify what drugs were used.” Ricco backs his doctor. He also doesn’t feel comfortable sending the girl to a public hospital. There could be another attempt on her life.

A search of the dead man’s luggage reveals a secret compartment in his suitcase. Inside are three pictures with accompanying dossiers. It appears that the man was hired to kill Paris Saint Claire, Natty Lanikova and Sydney Green. A sample of fibers taken from the rope found in the medical bag are compared those recovered from the Paris Saint Claire investigation. They are a perfect match.

After a busy morning, the rest of the day passes uneventfully. A team from Lazarus arrives at the hotel. They are back to observe the next round of military war games out at the COG. Corporate and Security Observation Team for war games checks in. For eight members of the observation team, this is a return visit. None of them inquire about the late Sam Fisher.



Thursday, June 6, 2047:

Operation Perfect Storm, the Pensacola COG Spring maneuvers, begins. There are no military exercises slated for the area around Blackwater, till next Monday. A package with $210,000 arrives for Ricco from Mr. Zeitsev; payment for the Blackwater Bayou extraction. The money is divided and dispensed to the team.

Dr. Ricci calls Ricco. “I’ve been able to identify the drug used by the assassin and have synthesized an antidote. I wanted to check with you before giving it to her.”

“Give it to her. I’ll be over right away.” Ricco contacts Beebe to have her there when Natty wakes up. It takes about twenty minutes for the girl to come out of it. She is groggy and agitated. She is unwilling to answer their questions. The only person she will let near her is Beebe. Sheriff Mason stops by to check on her and tell Ricco that the county M.E. has changed Paris’ death from suicide to homicide.



Friday, June 7, 2047:

With the exception of Mason (who is on patrol) the entire team attends Paris Saint Claire’s funeral at Blackwater Jubilee Baptist Church. With Paris’s death now ruled a homicide, even Tran Xuan Giap comes with a large contingent of his family. There is a moment of tension when the elder Tran walks up to Eustis, but it melts quickly as the two grandfathers embrace, bonding in their shared grief.

As the service is about to commence, a shaky Natty Lanikova enters the church supported by Angela Bauer. She looks terrified. Ty and Beebe rise and lead her over to sit with the family. The church is packed with many of Paris’s friends. Even Sheriff Mason is there.

Marcus approaches Ricco after the graveside service. “We’ve been able to identify the assassin. He was Gordon Harper, formerly a member of the Alabama State policeman, from Dothan. There are rumors he worked as a hit man for the Lowndes family. We’ve been able to trace his movements. Harper traveled to Miami a couple of weeks ago…about the same time Sydney Green left to come here.”

“Petersen Point Properties is based out of Miami.”

Sheriff Mason smiles at the general manager. He seems to have had the same idea. “I’ve checked. Charles and Francis Ingersoll were out of the country at the time.”

It would be too much to hope for. Ricco asks, “Where did he go after that?”

“As far as we can tell, he went back to Dothan and then to New Orleans, before coming here. Did Paris or Natty have any connections to New Orleans?”

“Both were in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. I have no idea what they did there, but Crank might.” Ricco calls the food and beverage manager and asks him to meet them in the conference room.

Crank knows only that Alina had hired the girls to help out the dancers from the Blue Moon Revue. “With the club closed during Mardi Gras, they had lined up several private parties in New Orleans. “I think Beebe was the only one who saw them while we were in town.”

The nomad is more than a little nervous. Telling Ricco and Sheriff Mason is hard enough. She doesn’t understand why they brought in Crank and Brandon. Talking about the night she and Jason picked up Paris and Natty (Episode 7) makes her feel that she is betraying her friends trust. As Beebe haltingly relates the story, Brandon realizes that the dock where they picked up the girls was only a block from where their team had been ambushed.

Beebe can’t explain why Paris was hysterical when they picked her up. “It had something to do with her mother, Mai, but I don’t know what.”

Natty would know.” The prospect of questioning the girl doesn’t fill Sheriff Mason with confidence. She hadn’t spoken to him since he executed the extradition warrant.

Ricco tries to convince Beebe, “You are the only one who has any chance of getting her to open up about this.”

The others loiter outside, while Beebe enters Angela’s trailer. This is a tricky subject to bring up, so the nomad starts by telling Natty that the person, who tried to kill her, was responsible for Paris’ death. The girl finds some comfort, knowing she had avenged her friend and lover.
Beebe explains how the killer’s movements had been backtracked to New Orleans. She mentions the flexi found in Paris’ room.

“That was her mother.” Little by little, Natty tells her friend the whole story. They had found Mai Saint Claire working in a brothel. Paris confronted her mother. Their argument attracted security. After detaining the two girls the owners of the brothel decided to sell the two into the sex trade overseas. They had locked them in the brothel’s security room.

The man watching the monitors didn’t consider two frightened teenagers a threat. When he wasn’t paying attention, Natty slipped out of her restraints and slit his throat with her switchblade. After freeing Paris, the girls realized they were on the security footage, so Natty wiped the recordings from the hard drive and pulled the backup drive. They were able to slip away and call Alina. “She called Jason and the both of you came and picked us up.”

[GM Note: Natty hadn’t told anyone what happened because she was terrified that she would be deported or executed for murdering the security guard.]

“Do you still have the security recording?”

The Czech girl can’t meet her friend’s eyes. “Yes.”

Natty, that recording has to be the reason they want you dead. You need to give me that recording. Trust me.”

After a moment of quiet deliberation, the girl gives up the location. “It’s buried two feet east of the big cypress tree in the backyard of our bungalow. It should be about six inches down. Beebe relates the location to the team outside then returns to Natty.

Sure enough it’s right where she said. The small drive is sealed in a watertight padded wrapper. They take it to their security office to rip a copy. There are hours and hours of data from all of the cameras in the brothel. They begin a round-the-clock review of the footage.



Saturday, June 8, 2047:

Around 5 am, Brandon finds a recording of Mai Saint Claire being forced down a corridor by a large man in a suit. She is not going willingly. Mai is pushed to the side by her ‘chaperone’, when another group of people enters the hallway from a set of double doors. Among them are a naked Governor Royce Gardner of Georgia and Lt. Governor John Lowndes of Alabama in the company of several prostitutes. Brandon immediately notifies the Team.

All agree this footage would be enough to have Mai, Paris and Natty killed. Now that they’ve seen it, their lives could be in danger as well. Thing go from bad to worse. Ricco recognizes someone else among the party goers. It is Mr. Zeitsev. He points him out on the screen to the rest of the team. “That is our employer.”

It takes little deliberation for the team to decide that they need to go on the offensive. Brandon edits out all the footage of Paris and Natty before making a copy of the recording for Sheriff Mason. The security chief also rips copies of the hallway sequence, while Ricco works his media contacts. The ex-cop trades on his reputation as the ‘Hero of Rio de Janeiro’. NET 54, Disney and most major news organizations quickly pick up the story and broadcast the two naked governors cavorting with their prostitutes.

Blowback is a concern, but with the press in a frenzy to identify the ‘third’ man in the video, Mr. Zeitsev has more pressing problems than the team.

Natty has recovered from her attack…at least physically. Beebe worries about her friend. She has become quiet and withdrawn. The nomad finally convinces her to go to the rooftop bar on Saturday night. Henrique’s is having a sendoff party for the last South American Tour group which will be leaving in the morning. The Lazarus Team comes to enjoy the festivities.



Sunday, June 9, 2047:

The leaked recording causes a political crisis in Alabama. By early afternoon, the Alabama government releases a statement indicating that the inauguration of Lt. Governor John Lowndes has been postponed by the Populist Advisory Council. State Police Commander Richard Lowndes has been named acting Governor while an internal investigation is conducted.






Episode 17 – Alabama Brings the Hammer Down



All bets are off as the government sends in a hit squad to take down the Team. This is but the opening salvo of a larger battle. State Police and National Guard units from Alabama descend upon the Petersen Point Resort; their goal to eradicate the Alabama Freedom Army. It is not only the Team that is in their sights. The Thelas and Snake Nation nomads face annihilation as well. Betrayed and abandoned the Team is left with a choice…save themselves or try to save everyone.

They are being set up by Hamilton Greeley and Richard Sharkey, the true masterminds behind the Alabama Freedom Army. While the Team’s missions were part of the overall operation, most of the terror attacks were carried out by other parties. The goal was to goad the Alabama authorities into launching a full scale incursion into Florida. Such a conflict would give the federal government legal standing to intervene and begin the process of removing the Lowndes Family from power.

Evidence leaked by Federal DA Starkey, pinpointed the Petersen Point Hotel as the headquarters of the Alabama Freedom Army. Deputy Director Greeley arranged for units of Alabama’s National Guard to participate in the Spring War Games (Operation Perfect Storm) at the Pensacola COG and Alabama State Police to be stationed near the border.

Governor Braxton Lowndes II’s assassination was not part of their plan, but the conspirators turn it to their advantage. With the late governor’s brothers and sister at each other’s throats over the transfer of power, it becomes relatively easy to disguise the true origin of the orders to attack Petersen Point. As for the resort itself, federal troops are set to intervene before too many people are killed. New ‘evidence’ would then find its way to the media that contradicted Alabama’s supposed proof that the Hotel was the staging ground for ALA attacks. Recriminations and finger pointing after the fact would only help to weaken both brothers’ positions, making the federal government’s work that much easier. This was the plan ‘approved’ by President Whindam.

Greeley and Sharkey make a few tweaks to the plan to serve their own personal agendas.

The Thelas nomads have made themselves a constant thorn in the side of Federal DA Sharkey. These pirates had previously been outgunned and under equipped, but the arrival of Charlie changed the equation. He was not only rearming nomad ships, but strengthening the nomads’ position at Petersen Point. The opportunity to take care of the nomads and their chief supplier is tempting to resist.

For C.I.A Deputy Director Greeley, it is about cleaning up loose ends. The team had been hired as deniable assets, and now they had reached the end of their usefulness. There could be no-one left to contradict the official accounts of what happened at Petersen Point. And if the bodies are found in the ruins of the resort, their deaths can be blamed on Alabama. Disney might make noise over losing their man (Ricco), but he is certain they will get over it.]



President Whindam has made it the goal of his fifth term as president, to restore the sovereignty of the Unite States of America over the four southern states colloquially known as the ‘Cotton Kingdoms’. Under this directive, several teams have been formed to implement a plan concocted by C.I.A. Deputy Director Hamilton Greeley and US Attorney for the District of Northern Florida Richard Sharkey. One of these teams (The PCs) has been tasked with running the Petersen Point Resort. Located in Santa Rosa County, on Florida’s panhandle, this seedy old tourist destination is perfectly situated, between the Pensacola COG and Alabama border. Though they may be tasked with the occasional field op, the Petersen Point team’s primary mission is to act as a ‘safe haven’ and staging ground.

Members of this ‘Dirty Deeds’ team has been provided with cover jobs at the hotel. Sam Fisher, a retired Delta Force colonel and C.I.A. assassin, was the original team leader. His cold blooded murder of an Alabama State Trooper caused his employers to reevaluate his tenure.

Since his untimely death at the hands of a C.I.A. cleaner, the role of team leader has fallen to Ricco Torres. The Brazilian born ex-cop turned corporate executive walks a fine line between loyalty to Disney and the needs of the mission. The goals of various parts of this conspiracy are no longer ‘in alignment’. A Justice Department cabal tries to bring the Alabama state government to crisis over the Team’s dead bodies.


Dramatis Personae

The NPCs

Bruce James is the manager of Angus and Hope Young’s farm. He is cousin to both TC James and Gregory James.

Carrie Anne Thorn is the assistant hotel manager and bookkeeper at the Petersen Point Resort. She is a small white woman in her early sixties. Carrie Anne has arthritis so she doesn’t walk a lot.

Charles Ingersoll is the grandson-in-law of Sophie Petersen, widow of Randy Petersen and heiress to the Petersen Family Trust. He serves as CEO of the Petersen Point Properties Group.

Geoffrey Lowndes serves as Secretary of State for Alabama. He is also the Vice Chairman of the Populist Advisory Council and covets the governorship.

Gregory James is a former and now current employee of the Petersen Point Hotel who was wrongfully convicted of grand theft years ago. Ricco’s investigations into various cold cases in the area (Episode 9) uncovered evidence that exonerated the man. Greg is the cousin of both TC James of the Visigoths and Bruce James, the manager of the Young Farm.

Hamilton Greeley is the Deputy Director of the C.I.A. and as such is the number 2 man in that organization. He has a personal agenda in the operation here that is not in line with the Team’s best interests.

Hank Tremont is the president of the local charter of the Visigoths. He is a tough smart leader with eight years military experience. It was he who put together the smuggling connection with the nomads and used those connections to run guns and supplies to the rebels in Alabama after the Alabama State Police murdered his two sons in cold blood eight years ago.

Hope Young is the wife of Angus Young, the largest farmer in the area and a county commissioner. Hope uses the inside of the old surface battery of the ancient local defense fort for her rather large flower business.

Jack Sheppard is the marina manager and a Thelas nomad. He is ex-military and is organizing the resort’s defenses.

Jason Fry is a young Thelas nomad serving of Charlie’s test ship, the Sea Snake. His sister is Amy Fry. He has a thing for Beebe.

Karl Petersen is the treasurer of the Visigoths MC and owner of Petersen’s Garage.

Lt. Governor John Lowndes is a bit pathetic. He isn’t the brightest bulb on the tree, but not a moron. He is as ambitious as his siblings, but has been maneuvered into taking the position of Lieutenant Governor. It is an empty title that consists of going around showing his face at public functions. The death of his older brother put him line for the ‘throne’, but the Team’s release of some security footage form a romp in a New Orleans brothel during Mardi Gras has sidelined him as another older brother, Richard, makes his grab for power.

Luis Cabral is a high level netrunner from Rio here in response for Ricco Torres’ request and Henrique’s endorsement.

Marshal Clayton ‘Clay’ Johnson is the older son of the late Terrance Johnson and nephew of the late ‘AC’ Johnson, the crime lord of Escambia County. His younger brother is Roland ‘Ronnie’ Johnson a drug dealer who ran a crew in Santa Rosa County. The marshal is in NO way a member of his uncle’s organization and would love to put him away.

Matilda Lowndes, old governor Braxton Lowndes only daughter, is a graduate of Harvard Law School and worked at the US State Department in her youth. She serves as Alabama’s Attorney General.

Michael Jay Tran is the great nephew of Tran Xuan Giap and an ex-soldier and Philippine policeman. He is hired at the Petersen Point Resort as a security officer and is made a Blackwater town constable.

Michelle Petersen is the mother of Karl Petersen, granddaughter of the founder of the resort, Clarence Petersen and niece of Sophie and the late Randy Petersen. She was the ‘wild child’ of her generation. Michelle is one of the biggest landowners in the area and lives on the old Petersen Farm. She runs a craft and leather goods shop called ‘Crafty Michelle’s’.

Mr. Zeitsev is the code name for Sam Fisher’s contact on this secret, black project. He is the government’s ‘Mr. Johnson’.

Natty Lanikova is the daughter of dancer Alina Lanikova and the teenage bassist for Velvet Blue. She dated Steve Zelinsky of the Visigoths and doesn’t speak English very well.

Richard King is a highly placed Disney executive that deals in ‘delicate’ situations. He is the man Disney sends, when things are going wrong and action must be taken. He has the nickname ‘King Dick’, but never to his face!

Richard Sharkey is US Attorney for the District of Northern Florida.

Sandomir ‘Sandy’ Zelinsky is the Vice President of the Visigoths MC. He is a tall blonde, green eyed man. Wild and fun loving in his youth, Sandy has matured into a clever and experienced leader. The man is also Beebe Laughtery’s biological father. He and Hank are best friends.

Sheriff Marcus G. (Garvey) Mason of Santa Rosa County is a powerfully built African-American with a bald head and piercing brown eyes. He has been sheriff for seventeen years and on the force for eight years before that as well as twelve years in the Army. He has a cyberarm and two cybereyes as well as a lot of smaller cyberware. The man has a reputation as a tough, honest cop who protects his county.

Superintendent Richard Lowndes is the head of the Alabama State Police and second son to the late Governor Braxton Lowndes. His older brother Braxton Lowndes II became governor, but was murdered recently.

Sydney Green was the deputy comptroller of Petersen Point Properties and is here to find evidence of Ricco Torres’ malfeasance. He was murdered recently at the hotel.

Tolland Casper ‘TC’ James is the sergeant at arms of the local chapter of the Visigoths. He is the first cousin of Bruce James, manager of Angus Young’s farm, but they are not very close. TC is ex-military and has two cyberlegs and a cyberarm. He was Mary Beth Petersen’s lover when she died. Her death shattered him and drove the man into becoming a borderline cyberpsycho.


The Action

Monday, June 10, 2047:

Military Police from the Pensacola COG are out early, blocking off the roads leading into town. The day’s maneuvers are set to include a simulated amphibious assault on Blackwater. Residents, inside the security cordon, are asked to stay indoors or at a safe distance while the exercise is underway. Businesses close early. Many locals treat the shut down as a holiday, packing lunches and heading down to the river to take in the show.

With all traffic in and out restricted, business is also light at the hotel. Even transport on the river has been suspended during the exercises. Non-essential staff is let out early. Others slip away, joining the growing crowd on the banks of the Blackwater. No one wants to miss the spectacle…except for maybe Charlie.

The gunsmith is typically laid back, but today he is a bundle of nerves. A late start leaves them stuck in port till after 7 pm. Thanks to the COG playing at war, the test has been delayed one day. They will meet up with a destroyer tomorrow to record the test firing of the ship’s deck mounted laser cannon. A successful test could open entirely new markets for Boss Arms.

Charlie is loath to let anyone leave the boat. Once they get the all clear, he wants to be underway as soon as possible; not waste time tracking down the crew. Those on board take the delay in stride. Being a ship, there is always something that needs fixing and some of the crew uses the downtime to affect minor repairs around the Sea Snake. Others hit their racks or lay out on the deck to soak up some rays.

Over at the hotel, Ricco abbreviates the weekly manager’s meeting. After reminding the department heads that a tour group from South American will be arriving at the end of the week, he makes a personal announcement. “With the assassin found in the trailer of Angela Bauer, I have every confidence that I will be cleared as a suspect in the death of Sydney Green. There are acknowledging nods around the table. “So are there any pressing issues or new business?” No one appears inclined to speak up. They are as interested in getting through the meeting as Ricco.

Before breaking up, Ricco turns the floor over to Hank Tremont and Karl Petersen. The Visigoths MC is holding a party at the hotel next weekend. Hank had asked for the opportunity to present his ideas for the event to the assembled managers. They listen politely with nary a glance at a watch.

As everyone exits the conference room, Ricco and Brandon walk out with the two bikers, chatting amicably. As they pause outside to say goodbye, a car careens up the drive and screeches to a halt near the front entrance. Guns fly out, but are lowered, as Deputy Marshall Clay Johnson jumps out of the vehicle. “I need to talk to all of you ….now!” An uncharacteristic emotion plays across the lawman’s face. Wide eyes cause deep furrows to crease Clay’s brow. His breathing comes rapidly.

Hank and Karl take their leave and begin to walk away, but Clay calls them back. “No, you two need to hear this also.” Picking up Betty Lu and Mason along the way, they all reconvene in the conference room. The deputy marshal insists they sweep the room before he speaks. Once satisfied no one is listening, Clay opens up by asking, “Are you people the Alabama Freedom Army?”

The direct question is a surprise. Ricco doesn’t give the others a chance to say something stupid. “Of course not.” He hopes Clay buys the shocked outrage in his voice.

The lawman relaxes. “I didn’t think so…but a lot of people do. The military exercises are a sham. Those troops in Blackwater and across the river are Alabama National Guard. In roughly three hours, there are going to be simultaneous raids on the hotel and Petersen’s Garage. Their orders are to kill everyone.”

Clay takes advantage of their stunned silence to continue.

“The hotel’s security system and computers are compromised. All of your names are on a list. A few other members of the hotel staff are targeted, but the main focus of the raids is killing the Visigoths and nomads. They’re not just going to eliminate the gang, but their families. Any nomad living at the resort is also in danger. Anyone who attempts to leave will be killed. Everyone else here is being written off as acceptable collateral damage.”

Ricco isn’t completely convinced. Clay has always been straight with him, but someone else might be feeding him bad intel. It could be a disinformation campaign to gauge how they react. Paranoia wins out. He sends Betty Lu to the fuel dock to find Charlie and Beebe; best not to use the phones if their systems are compromised.

Ricco wants to trust his friend, but they need to know more. “How do you know about this…and why are you telling us?” No one else seems to notice, but the ex-cop catches Clay glance over at Crank before answering.

“I don’t work for Richard Starkey. The DA’s trying to subvert the justice system and use the Marshal Service as his enforcers. I’m a cop. I didn’t sign up for this.”

Jack Sheppard cares little about who sanctioned the attack. He’s busy calculating their odds. “An assault of that size will be almost impossible to stop, even with our preparations.”

Hank has heard enough. “I have to warn my people.”

Before the bikers can leave, Clay warns, “There are surveillance drones flying over the hotel property right now. They’re listening and watching. If it looks like your mobilizing, they’ll attack early.”

Hank, bring your people to the main building as fast as you can. Tell them…say the hotel has prepared a surprise luncheon for the club and their families.” Ricco cringes inwardly, but it was the best that he could come up with on such short notice. Hopefully whoever is listening will believe it long enough for the Visigoths to make it into the tunnels. The bikers nod and leave.

Ricco has the department heads come back to the conference room. After he delivers the bad news, there is only silence. They are dumfounded. It’s Carrie Ann who finally voices what they are all thinking. “We’ll be slaughtered.”

The assistant manager’s opinion carries a lot of weight at the resort. Her frank assessment of their chances sends a ripple of terror through the assembled managers. Panic now, could doom them all. Clay speaks up to offer them hope.

“There may be a chance. Most of the officers at the COG don’t know what’s going down. Once the wargames are over they either have to disengage or risk going to war with the U.S. military. All we have to do is hold out to 7pm.”

“Holding out for 5 or 6 hours won’t be easy,” says Michael Jay Tran.

Clay can understand Mike Tran’s skepticism, but he has a trump card. “It might be possible if you had a copy of their attack plan.” The deputy marshal holds up a data chip.

It takes about 20 minutes for Betty Lu to return with Charlie, Beebe and Luis Cabral. She had run into the netrunner on her way to the dock, and while not expressly asked to find him, the Brazilians skills could be useful if they are compromised.

Marshal Johnson briefly goes over what he told the others, adding, “Mr. Bibbliodioc, for some reason, the government wants you dead! There is a Lazarus Team staying at the hotel. They were hired to eliminate you and other selected targets just before the launch of the main assault.”

Charlie is incensed…not so much over the attempt. Plenty of people had tried to kill him in the past. What he can’t forgive is that Lazarus dangled a lucrative weapons contract to sucker him in. The gunsmith is already planning a surprise for his guests, as he tells the others, “A couple of them are coming to my cottage for lunch.”

Ricco looks up from his eBook, brow furrowed and asks, “When?”

“They’re coming at 1:40…Why?”

“They booked an appointment with me for 1:45 pm.”

Brandon reveals that Lazarus also requested a meeting with him. “We are supposed to meet at 1:50 pm to discuss some security concerns.”

All three of them…Charlie is now fuming. “Let’s go kill those fucks right now!”

If up for a vote, the gunsmith’s proposal would carry by a healthy majority, but as team leader, Ricco urges caution. “I agree that we need to eliminate them sooner than later, but we can’t risk that they are in contact with the outside. Jack, activate your slow mobilization plan. Does anyone know where Natty is?”

Natty’s in the lobby.” Seeing the question in Ricco’s eyes, Beebe explains. “She was down at the docks and came back with us.”

Ricco gives the team their marching orders. “Luis, go collect Natty. I need the two of you to take back control of our systems. Jack, be ready to jam any attempt by Lazarus to communicate with the Alabama forces.” And to the rest of the team…”Now let’s go up and see to our guests.”

Luis and Natty quietly loop the cameras from the main console. A thermographic scan helps pinpoint the Lazarus operatives; quietly relaxing in their rooms, safe in the belief their netrunner has control of the hotel’s security systems. The assault is fast and brutal. No quarter is given. There is no reaction from the outside.

The Visigoths start to arrive at the hotel with their families. Ricco doesn’t believe for a moment the story of a surprise party fooled anyone, but all remains quiet. He wonders if the Alabama authorities are holding off till everyone gathers at the resort. Consolidating targets would make their job easier. Ricco can understand how from the outside it might look like a mistake.

Even among their allies, there are those who question the decision of falling back to the hotel, but all doubts are forgotten when they’re shown the tunnels. The complex below is abuzz with activity; mobilization has already begun. Armed nomads, in uniform Russian battle dress, hurry to their assigned defensive positions. Ricco takes the leadership of the Visigoths and Marshal Johnson to the command center.

Jack Sheppard delivers a status report. The nomad is dressed in the same style of uniform as everyone else they’ve encountered in the tunnels. “Preparations are proceeding according to plan. We also have news from Blackwater. There are four tanks in town supported by a company of infantry and another similar sized force deployed across the river. We’re under their guns, but they haven’t advanced.”

Hank, TC James and Sandy seem duly impressed by the size and complexity of the operation. They offer the assistance of the Visigoths in defending the hotel. Clay remains silent, taking everything in. He can only wonder if his trust in Ricco has been misplaced. They may truly be the Alabama Freedom Army, but it is too late to turn back now. He’s already chosen sides.

Clay hands the data chip containing Alabama’s attack plan to Jack Sheppard. A relief map with colored marking appears on the main display. Marshal Johnson begins the briefing…

“The first wave attacks at 2 pm. Section 1 will approach up Petersen Point Road. The force consists of elements from the 1st Tank Platoon and units of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion.” Clay points to a rise on the golf course. “An M-11 tank from Alpha Company will take up position here. They will provide suppression fire to cover the advance of infantry units and an M-75. Their target is the school. Once any opposition is eliminated, they will leave behind a securing force, to hold the building, while the remainder link up with Bravo Company and join the main assault on the hotel.

The land assault is meant to cut off escape and provide a diversion for the vertical insertion of ACPA units. 3 Bell UH-10 PAPCs will sweep in low across the river supported by two AH-99 gunships. While the PA carriers drop their units, the gunships will peel off to take out the Sea Snake. Each UH-10 can hold 5 suits.

The second wave will come from the North. A contingent of the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Platoon will move south from the state boat launch to set up a picket line at the golf course. Dismounted elements of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Platoon, will sweep up from Blue Gill Lane and Bass Ave, supported by 2 M-113A3 IFVs. Their orders are to relieve the squads holding the school and link up with the 3rd Infantry Platoon to extend the picket south, cutting off any avenue of escape

Battle of Petersen Point - Initial Strike_c

The scheduled amphibious assault on Blackwater is cover for Alabama to move a corvette up the river. It will be preceded by two small unit riverine craft carrying units from the Elite State Police Special Operations Force. Their target is the Marina and Fuel Dock. Once the marina has been secured, the corvette will disembark more troops to support the assault.

The 2nd Tank Platoon stationed in Blackwater, have been ordered to hold the town. Their secondary mission is to engage targets of opportunity in the trailer park and employee housing.

The actual bombardment of the trailer park and cottages will be carried out by mortars set up behind the town and an artillery company from Alabama posted just north of the highway interchange. They’ve used drones and onsite recon to pinpoint the coordinates of every structure in that area.

The 3rd Tank Platoon, stationed on the far bank, is to make sure no one tries to escape by river. They have orders to sink any vessel that tries to leave. Units are also being deployed to hold the road to Pensacola two miles east of the interstate highway bridge. The 2nd Section, 4th Platoon, Alpha Company (M1-A5 & M-75) and 3rd Platoon, Delta Company (dismounted) will hold the Interstate Highway Bridge itself. 4th Platoon Delta Company will hold the Interstate Highway interchange just north of the Blackwater Café. The Command Section and reserve units (Bravo Company and Section 2, 1st Tank Platoon, Alpha Company) will take up position at Casey Jones Lane and Petersen Point Road. All other units with Artillery Company and Battalion HQ are to be positioned just NE of that highway interchange.

The grim silence following Clay’s presentation is broken by a chuckle from Jack Sheppard. “Their air assault is flying right into our 25mm AA gun.” Pointing to the map, “I’ll deploy our Scorpion missile crews there. We can drop those ACPA carriers before they even cross the river.”

Mike Tran adds, “I can setup my HATGM near the corner of Petersen Point Road and Rollo Blvd. I’ll kill that M-75 before it has a chance to fire.”

Charlie tries to hide his smile. This is the perfect chance to show what his weapons can do. Keeping a calm exterior, he remarks to Beebe, “Ya know, I think the new laser cannon and Laser LAWs could use a live field test.”

She knows the gunsmith too well to miss the excitement in his voice. It earns him a hard glare…but she has to agree. They need all the firepower they can get. A lively debate breaks out over how best to deploy the weapons. Tactics aren’t her strong suit, so Beebe stays out of it. The nomad uses the time to look through the defensive plan and notices a glaring oversight.

With effort, she is able to get the rest of the team to listen to her. “What do we do if this doesn’t work? We need a way to get everyone out of here.”

Ricco will send Betty Lu down the tunnel towards the old surface battery on Angus Young’s farm. “You need to convince the Young’s to open up the doors from the inside of the fort.” Greg James goes with her, taking along a security detail, in case they run into trouble.

Crank brings up another hole in their plan, “How are we going to get everyone into the tunnels with the Alabama drones watching?”

“Well…We have a powerful ECM unit” All eyes turn to Jack. “…If we were to ‘burp’ it a few times, most of the drones would return to base when they lose contact. We shouldn’t run it for long or Alabama may get wise. If we’re lucky they might take it for a glitch. They lost a lot of their most experienced operators when the chemical plant went up. It took out their main drone facility. (Episode 8)

Ricco isn’t familiar with the intricacies of drone operation, so he leaves it to Jack’s best judgment. “Do it. Now…where do you want us.”

The nomad commander has his people where he needs them. To avoid arguments, he doesn’t try to order around the Team. “This is your hotel. You and the rest get to pick your ground.” He does ask for one concession. “I do however suggest we setup the laser cannon in the lighthouse bunker near the entrance to the town’s harbor.”

Charlie agrees with the placement, but also plans to take a Laser LAWs as backup. Beebe will be stationed in the lighthouse bunker at the corner of Bass Ave and Petersen Point Road, with another Laser LAW. The Visigoths agree to take over the defense of the golf course to free up more of the nomads to protect the hotel.

Ricco decides to make his stand in the main building of the hotel. As a precaution he orders the non-combatants sent down the tunnel towards the Young’s farm as soon as the drones are cleared. Even if they the doors aren’t opened, the tunnel is deep and outside the designated bombardment zone. Having a crowd of their friends and neighbors at her back could also help Betty Lu’s in negotiations with the Youngs.

The Team and their allies disperse. Brandon, Crank and Mason remain at the hotel with Ricco.

Clay Johnson offers his assistance in the command center. Mike Tran heads for his firing position. Beebe and her tech requisition a golf cart to move the laser LAW. They drop off spare ‘shells’ for the weapon at the fortified maintenance building by the golf club; their fallback position. The stop gives her a few minutes alone with her father and Natty.

Beebe tries not to dwell on the thought that this may be the last time she’ll see either of them. The nomad puts on a brave face as Sandy offer some last minute fatherly advice. She nearly loses it when he says, “I’m proud of you,” and draws her into a deep embrace. Beebe breaths deep, wanting to remember his smell.

Her last words to Natty are much more brief, but no less emotional. Beebe finds the Czech girl cradling a Dragunov SVD. She can read the anticipation in her friend’s eyes. It’s not fear, more the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. The nomad puts a reassuring hand on Natty’s shoulder. “I know you want revenge, but don’t get yourself killed looking for it. Stay safe.”

The defenders have roughly two hours to prepare. A few judicious bursts from the hotel’s ECM system send away the Alabama drones, allowing the non-combatants to be moved underground. Alabama’s radio traffic does not change.

As two o’clock approaches the crew of the Sea Snake deploys the 120mm deck gun. It’s made to look like part of the routine maintenance being undertaken, while they are stuck in port.

Just before zero hour Beebe can hear the sounds of armored vehicles approaching her position. Alabama infantry moves up to just north of the state boat ramp.

Near the kudzu covered hatch of the old battery, Betty Lu and Greg James watch as the two AH-99 attack helicopters and three Bell UH-10 PAPCs make their attack run. The aircraft are still over the river, when the 25mm cannon on the roof of the hotel tears into the first ACPA carrier. Damage to the one of the leading propulsion units of the quad-engine craft causes it to pitches forward and drift to the left. Two PA suits drop out of the rapidly descending aerodyne, splashing down in the middle of the river. A moment later, the damage propulsion unit makes contact with the water. The UH-10 heels over pin-wheeling across the river’s surface.

A third PA suit is ejected along with disintegrating bits of fuselage. The pilot appears to have no control over his trajectory; if he is still conscious at all. It slams into the water, skips three times then sinks.

While the first PAPC heads towards its death roll, four scorpion missiles streak towards a second carrier. Countermeasures draw off one of the missiles, but the other three strike home. The burning wreckages pancakes into the Blackwater sending up a huge wake.

The third carrier clears the river, before coming under fire from the 25mm cannon. Though hit and trailing smoke, it hovers long enough to deploy three suits just north of the hotel’s main building. The UH-10 abruptly slips backwards losing altitude. Betty Lu and Greg lose sight of the carrier, behind the buildings. A billowing fireball announces its fate. The low rumble of the explosion reaches them seconds later.

Further up the river, the two AH-99 gunships begin their attack on the Sea Snake. Shells from the helicopters’ nose mounted cannons rake the vessel, but their air-to-ground missiles are intercepted by the ship’s CWIS (6 barreled 20mm Vulcan gun) and auxiliary anti-missile systems. Coming under fire, the Sea Snake’s 120mm cannon wastes no time opening up on the tanks positioned across the river. Two hidden heavy weapons teams add their fire power to the ship’s main gun.

One of the AH-99s overhead begins to take fire from a 12.7mm AA machine gun dug in near the fuel dock. Gunfire rakes across the fuselage, drawing black smoke. The helicopter veers away from the marina, limping towards Blackwater. It sets down hard in an open field east of town.

A cacophony of high pitched whistles heralds the start of the artillery barrage. Betty Lu knows they can’t waste any more time watching the battle. “Come on, we have to get down from here and find someone to open those doors.”

Beebe hunkers down in the northeast bunker with her loader and a nomad gun crew. They listen intently to the sound of Alabama armor rolling by. The nomad allows herself to breathe again after they pass. She’s glad to be wrong. Beebe had feared the enemy knew about the tunnel network, but they hadn’t come under fire. No one had even come close to the lighthouse.

After sliding open the gun ports, they use a long bar to knock away the wooden panels ringing the base of the lighthouse. The nomad gun crew sets up a 14.5mm KPV facing west towards the state boat ramp. Alabama infantry has already started to cross the open ground towards the resort. The gunner sites in on the wooden fence that marks the property line of the hotel.

Over at the northwest bunker another team trains its 12.7mm machine gun on the advancing troops. Shooting the laser LAW will be the signal to open fire. Beebe, sites in on the rear of the M-11. At the press of the activation stud, a coherent beam of ionized particles arcs out from the weapon. It lasts only 2 seconds but the heat generate is enough to melt through the tank’s lighter rear armor, slag the engine and touch off the fuel cell.

The explosion of the tank drowns out the sound of automatic fire as the bunkers open up on the infantry advancing from the boat ramp. Anyone who stays at the fence or tries to retreat is cut down. Those who vault the fence and try to find cover on the golf course, run into the guns of the Visigoths.

Beebe jumps down through the hatch to the room below. It’s a welcome relief. Firing the weapon had turned the room above into a sauna; not the best place to reload a Laser LAW. With the assistance of her loader, the nomad quickly cools and rearms the particle cannon.

Back at the hotel, two PA suits close on the main building. A third had made it to the ground successfully only to be crushed under their crashing transport. Brandon and Crank engage the power armor with a squad of nomads. Two are armed with Essences provided by Boss Arms.

The Alabama troopers break off their attack and take cover behind the wreckage of the UH-10 to escape the withering fire of the 30mm cannons.

The main body of the attack proceeds down Petersen Point Road. Even with their early losses, Alabama’s attack plan appears unchanged. An M-75 tank leads the way, providing cover for a column of M-113A3 armored transports. (M-113 variants courtesy of Flipper’s Vehicle Guide 2).

Mike Tran takes out the M-75 with his HTAG. A shot from the second floor of the school turns the 113A3 IFV in the parking lot, into a flaming pile of wreckage. Mason and Clay Johnson fire on the transport at the rear of the column with RPGs. The Alabama infantry jump out of their carriers into a crossfire. A spotter on upper floors of the hotel ranges in fire from six 60mm mortars, hidden in the trees by the marina. The remaining Alabama M-113As are quickly knocked out and their troops pinned down.


The thick steel reinforced walls of the eastern most bunker reduce the continuous artillery bombardment to a dull rhythmic thumping; like a sound system pumping out too much bass.

It could almost be pleasant, if you didn’t think of the people that might be dying out there.

Charlie unconsciously taps his finger on the closed safety guard on the laser cannon’s trigger, as he watches two small unit riverine craft race up river.

The boats quickly move out of his line of sight, beyond the edge of the gun port. They’ll be heading for the marina, intent on clearing the way for the troops on the corvette. The larger vessel follows behind, moving slowly up the channel. On open water, at speed, this shot might be a challenge, but here…it’ll be a turkey shoot. The gunsmith’s finger itches. He wants to pull the trigger, but knows he has to wait. The assault boats have to be closer to the marina for their ambush to work.

Charlie watches the corvette grow in his sights. It draws within a kilometer of his position; sailing straight at the lighthouse. A bow shot wouldn’t be the optimum firing angle for a conventional cannon. A single projectile would have a higher probability of missing the target. Even if dead on, the chance of damaging something vital, let alone destroying the entire ship, would be astronomical. With a 3-4 second continuous stream, Charlie knows he can easily slice across and through the ship’s bow. The gunsmith is so intent on planning his shot, that a sudden coarse change, by the corvette, catches him by surprise.

The ship yaws to port. His immediate fear is that Alabama is wise to the ambush, but after launching two missiles, the ship returns to its original course. There’s no way to track their flight from inside the bunker and for the moment, Charlie could care less where they’re headed. His only concern is to make sure no more follow. Flipping up the safety guard he yells, “I’m firing now,” then pulls the trigger.

The high energy beam exits the aperture at a temperature hotter than the sun. It strikes the corvette’s bow and burns backwards through the ship, cutting into ordinance stores and fuel cells. The ship shudders twice; then detonates. Men and metal are rocketed into the air. A towering plume of smoke climbs upward.

Twisted bits of metal, once part of the ships supper structure, are turned into supersonic projectiles. Anything in the blast area not torn to shreds is blown flat by the trailing pressure wave. A few pieces of debris make it to the lighthouse, but the thunk harmlessly into the wooden façade. Charlie has no time to admire his handiwork. The weapon’s overheat warning light flashes an angry red. It’s joined a second later by a blaring alarm. In the confined space of the bunker, the sound is deafening.

Charlie had reworked the cooling system. During tests, the new heat sinks had effectively bled off the excess heat into the surrounding air. But all of those tests had been done outside. Discharging the cannon pushes the temperature inside the bunker past 115 degrees (Fahrenheit). The hot surrounding air decreases the efficiency of the heat exchanger. Thankfully they thought to bring along extra coolant.

The corvette’s fiery end is the signal for the nomads to spring their ambush. Heavy machine guns secreted in bunkers at the marina and fuel dock open up on the approaching attack boats. The SURCs take evasive action, trying to escape the converging fire of the KPV-14.5 and DShK. With the enemy boats occupied, the Thelas spring another surprise.

Moored at the marina, the SS Mary Beth Petersen provides a stable weapons platform for the LATGM (Light Anti Tank Guided Missile) system from the old hovertank they sold to the nomads. Missiles roar out of the twin tubes. One explodes harmlessly, in the wake of the lead SURC, but the other finds its mark. It hits just in front of the pilot house, blowing the ship apart.

Down to one target, the machine guns concentrate their fire. Heavy caliber punch through the boat’s lightly armored hull. As the attack boat takes on water, it slows down. A slow target is a dead one. Some of the troopers are able to bail out of the sinking craft, but the nomad gunners show no mercy. They rake the surface of the water with gunfire till nothing is left moving,

Back at the eastern lighthouse, the laser cannon’s meltdown becomes a secondary concern. The weapon’s bright beam has drawn the attention of the M-11 in town. A shot from the tank’s main gun reduces the miniature lighthouse above the bunker into splintery shrapnel. The squat bunker sustains no damage, but Charlie realizes it won’t take long for the enemy to realize they missed their target.

Leaving the laser cannon to his techs, he readies the laser LAW. Sighting in on the M-11, the gunsmith can see the tank’s gun barrel dropping for a shot on the bunker. He wastes no time depressing the activation stud. Temperatures within the bunker soar even higher, but the beam connects with the M-11’s turret. The intense heat warps the tank’s main gun and burns a sizable hole through the armor. Anyone inside the main compartment was probably cooked alive.

Charlie closely watches the smoking tank as he counts down from 20. If the ambient temperature weren’t so high, he might risk a second shot without waiting. His first beam took out the turret, but an M-11 has a secondary heavy weapon mounted in its hull. The driver is also in his own sealed compartment. He may already be targeting the bunker with the tank’s missile system.

The gunsmith breathes a sigh of relief as the M-11 slams into reverse, pulling back. There’s no time to savor this minor victory. They need to redeploy. Charlie and his crew wrestle the laser weapons down through the hatch, to the waiting golf cart.


Beebe, get up here! There’s another tank coming.”

The nomad looks up at the head framed in the overhead hatch. “Be right there.”

She scrambles up the ladder, then reaches back, to take the laser LAW from her loader.

Glancing through the bunker’s north firing port; Beebe can see an M-1E1 Super Abrams, rumbling down Petersen Point Road towards their position. It’s an antique, but still a formidable weapons system.

Beebe fires at the tank’s primary armament. When the 120mm gun begins to sag, she redirects the beam to burn through the driver’s compartment. The armored juggernaut lurches to a halt. Smoke pours from its rent hull.

Small arms fire peppers the area around the gun port, but Beebe ignores it. After carefully handing down the extremely hot weapon, to her loader, she drops through the hatch herself. They are in the middle of reloading the laser LAW, when the field phone rings. Jack Sheppard is on the other end of the line.

TC is in trouble. He took a group of Visigoths to support one of our heavy weapons teams. An APC (M-113A3 IFV) has them pinned down at the southeast edge of the golf course. Can you get a shot on it?”

Climbing back into the bunker, Beebe scans for the armored vehicle. She spots it in a hull down position. The nomad really doesn’t have a clear shot, but the beam weapon may give her a chance. Her loader shouts up from below, “Ready!”

Beebe retrieves the laser LAW and sights in on the part of the M-113A3’s hull that she can see. She takes her time, wanting to get it right. The nomad is sure that the high energy beam connects with the vehicle’s hull, but nothing seems to happen. Long seconds tick by before she spots a trail of smoke rising from the APC.

An explosion rocks the bunker. Beebe struggles to keep her feet. She shouts to be heard over the din of the KPV. “That was my last shot.”

The bunker commander yells back, “Then get the hell out of here. You’re attracting a lot of attention!”

It takes about three minutes to reach the golf cart, three levels below. Once the laser LAW is secure, Beebe speeds down the tunnel towards the golf course. They need to recover the last fuel core from the maintenance building. It will also give her a chance to check on her father and Natty.

Alabama’s two functioning suits of power armor march through a hail of gunfire towards the wreckage of their armored column. Their assault has become a rescue mission. One of the suits peals back the armored plates of a burning APC, to make an exit for the troops trapped inside. They are able to extract about a dozen men, before the incoming fire becomes too heavy, even for them.

Betty Lu and Greg James finally make it to the ground. The choking vines of kudzu had looked like a lush green carpet from the top of the old battery, but pushing through them had proven nearly impossible. If not for their escort, it may have taken another hour or longer to reach bottom.

Making it to the road, they quickly run into a couple of farm hands, who take them to Hope Young. She meets them in her green house with the farm’s manager, Bruce James. Betty Lu begins by apologizing for their unannounced visit. She tells them what’s happening at the hotel. Greg lets her do the talking. He only comments on things Betty Lu wouldn’t know about or when asked a direct question by Hope or Bruce.

The lawyer works her way around to telling them about the tunnels. “I’m sorry, but we opened up the tunnels to the old fort.”

Hope doesn’t need to hear any more. “Oh my God, don’t apologize. Bruce, have some of the boys move those planting tables off the doors. Find the blowtorch and open them up!”

It takes about 15 minutes for the workers clear the area above the doors. A little heat from the blowtorch loosens the hinges. Huddled frightened faces greet them as the doors open. The sight of Betty Lu and the other nomads put them at ease. While Hope greets their new guests, Bruce James directs the farm workers to clear more space for the refugees.

Alabama’s first assault fails, but their artillery barrage continues unabated. Down in the command bunker, Jack Sheppard is puzzled. The enemy’s shells continue to fall among the empty trailers and cottages, rather than going after the hotel’s artillery assets. Counter battery fire should have silenced their mortars long ago. With Alabama forces pulling back, he tells them to cease fire. They need to conserve shells.

Alabama’s guns fall silent about fifteen minutes later. Combat ceases at 2:40pm. The team regroups in the command center, using the lull to rest and reassess their defenses.

(GM Note: When the attack started, Jack had his electronic warfare technicians jam all communications up to the Pensacola COG, crippling Alabama’s radio net. The state troops had electronic warfare assets, but their ECM and ECCM weren’t as powerful as those at the hotel. There was also a wide gap in the quality of the operators. Alabama’s National Guard had been neglected by the Lowndes family for years. They were under-equipped and ill-trained. The Thelas operators, by comparison, had many years of experience dodging the authorities. Alabama wasn’t expecting such an organized defense. Command and control broke down with the loss of communication)

Damage and casualty reports begin to come in. There are 13 dead and 21 wounded. Over half of those killed were aboard the Sea Snake when it exploded. A missile launched from the corvette, hit amidships, tearing the vessel in half. Flaming debris showered the fuel dock, but the risk of a secondary explosion is low. The fuel lines going to the pumps had been drained before the assault.

The SS Mary Beth Petersen sustains heavy damage and sinks at its dock. Luckily, it goes down slow enough for the missile crew to escape. The bunkers sustain minor damage, but as yet, none are breached. In all, their defenses still look to be in good shape. Troop losses on the enemy’s side are estimated to be near 240 killed or wounded.

When refurbishing the tunnels, Jack had his crews run a line for the field phones to the rooms under the old battery. At 2:45 pm a call comes into the command center from Hope Young. Ricco puts her on speaker. After thanking Hope for her assistance, he lays out their current situation.

“It’s too bad my husband, Angus, isn’t here. He could fly someone out on our helicopter, beyond the radio interference.”

Beebe offers, “I can fly the helicopter.”

The soft spoken woman begins to respond, but Brandon talks over her. “You wouldn’t be able to get out. There is a no fly zone covering the entire area. Anything that takes off will be shot down.”

“No.” Hope raises her voice slightly to cut through any further interruptions. “Only half of our farm is under the no fly zone, but we still wouldn’t be able to take off. The helicopter is grounded for repairs.”

Seeing their chance of escape slipping away, Beebe blurts out, “I can fix it. If you have the parts…”

Hope holds up her hand. “Angus is out getting the parts.”

The nomad falls silent. She tries to come up with a new plan, while around her, the others weigh their options. Crank offers to try a break out on his motorcycle. He thinks he can make it or at least provide a diversion.

“I have an autogyro.” Beebe’s comment wasn’t directed at anyone else in the room. The nomad didn’t even realize she said it aloud.

She had brought the small aircraft with her to Florida, but something always seemed to get in the way of taking it up. In the beginning, work ate up most of her time. Then there was Jason and her new friends and family. Running afoul of the Johnsons, made going for a flight too risky. She had all but forgotten about the autogyro, till Crank mentioned his motorcycle.

The nomad tries to get the rest of the team’s attention. “We can still fly out. I have an autogyro.”

This revelation has no impact. They are too busy putting forward their own plans, each more complex and impractical than the next.

Beebe shouts, “Hey! I have an autogyro!” Her latest outburst draws their attention, but only briefly. Crank gives her an annoyed look then goes back to explaining his latest plan. The nomad begins to wonder if any of them know what an autogyro is.

It annoys Charlie to see how the others treat his protégé. He wants to say something, but now is not the time to start an argument. The gunsmith bides his time, waiting for Crank to finish. When the larger man pauses for feedback, Charlie turns to the young nomad, “Hey, Beebe, don’t you have a gyrocopter?”

(GM Notes: I kid you not. Beebe offered her ultra-light three times, but no one would listen to her. This player’s other characters are always listened to, even if others don’t agree with what they have to say. In this adventure the ‘grown-ups’ never gave the nomad girl any serious consideration for her good ideas. As GM it made me laugh.)

After they found the tunnels, Beebe moved her autogyro into the sub-basement under Charlie’s cottage. The mortar attack had leveled the house, but the bunker and its contents are still safe and sound. While the nomads move the light craft to the Young’s farm, Ricco oversees the production of the video Beebe will take to the media.

The hardwired security cameras were unaffected by the enemy’s electronic countermeasures. Some had been destroyed during the battle, but they had more than enough footage to document the fierceness of the fighting. Charlie gives an involuntary shiver as he watches the destruction of the Sea Snake on one of the monitors.

Ricco worries that the footage alone won’t be enough. He records a personal plea for help. In his message, the general manager all calls out Charles Ingersoll, Mr. Zeitsev and Federal DA Richard Starkey. He further states that no one at the hotel is in any way connected to the Alabama Freedom Army, the pretext given for the assault. Deputy Marshal Clay Johnson adds his own message. It echoes the claims and accusations made by the general manager.

In case the video doesn’t get her in the door, Ricco writes a letter of introduction to the general manager of NET 54’s local affiliate in Pensacola. The exec had stopped by to meet him, when he was at the studio filming a segment for the Vid show, “Where it’s Happening”. (Episode 11).

Ricco includes a second, sealed letter, for Richard King. He can only hope that his boss isn’t in on the attack and can send aid.

A golf cart is dispatched to carry the messages and video out to the old battery. Time is growing short. The enemy has started to use precision fire to take out anything that looks like an antenna array. They’re trying to disable the hotel’s electronic countermeasures. It won’t be long till Alabama launches another assault.

Jack has the Visigoths pull back to the hotel and tunnels. Natty heads for the upper floors to take up position with her sniper rifle. She’s killed at least a dozen of the enemy, but it’s not enough. If it were possible, she’d kill every single one of them herself. The Czech girl chooses a room overlooking the Snapper Avenue Boat Ramp and scans the area through her scope.

Near 3:30 pm, she spots movement behind an improvised gun emplacement erected by the Alabama forces. From time to time, a head appears above the earthen berm. On one of those occasions, a flash of metal catches her eye. It’s a silver insignia on the man’s shoulder.

‘Very foolish,” she thinks to herself. Natty waits and aims. The head appears again, rewarding her patience. It jerks back violently as a 7.62 round from her rifle penetrates, just above the left eye. She doesn’t wait to confirm the kill; it’s time to move.

Within 30 seconds of Natty vacating her position, the first 155mm shell drops on the hotel. Both the main building and school come under heavy bombardment from what feels like every artillery piece in Alabama’s arsenal. Neither structure was built to withstand such a pounding. Natty has to dodge falling debris as she tries to reach the ground floor.

The stairs are too slow and dangerous. With the building coming down around her, she takes a chance and jumps for it. The landing is hard. Her Dragunov skitters away out of sight. Natty forgets the rifle and runs for the basement.

Owen is there to greet her at the tunnel entrance. Seeing her expression, he asks, “What’s the matter?”

“I…I dropped my gun.”

The large man shakes his head. He thought she was injured. “Well, get another one and be more careful this time.”

Embarrassed; the teen nods and scurries off.

(GM Note: Natty has just blown the brains out of Richard Lowndes, the acting Governor and superintendent of the Alabama State Police! His outraged staff orders the destruction of both the school and main building of the hotel. They weren’t sure which of the structures the shot came from. This over reaction delays the next phase of the assault.)

The barrage continues for 50 minutes. Casualties are light but the defenders are forced to abandon the buildings and retreat to the tunnels. During this time they also lose the northwest bunker, near the State boat ramp. It falls in a duel with a tank on the highway bridge.

Beebe takes off from the Young’s Farm at 3:45pm. Instead of heading straight for Pensacola, she turns south following the beach at tree top level. After five miles, she turns west towards the city. The small craft cruises over white sandy beaches headed towards the outskirts of town. Beebe gains altitude to get her bearings. Scanning the skyline, she spots the NET 54 building and heads downtown.

The autogyro reaches a small plaza fronting the NET 54 offices by 4pm. It’s too crowded to attempt a landing. With no ability to hover, Beebe is forced to circle overhead, looking for an alternate site to put down. Her first hint of danger is an ominous reflection in the glass windows of another office building. It’s an Alabama AH-99.

The nomad reverses course, keeping the building between her and the gunship. With no more time to find and alternate landing spot, she prepares for an emergency landing in the plaza. Flying low and slow, she cuts the power and deploys the safety chute. The people below sensibly get out of the way. It’s no three-point landing, but still one she can walk away from or in this case, run away from. Beebe pops her safety harness and sprints for the front doors of the NET 54 building.

The AH-99 enters the plaza nose down; chin turret tracking towards the autogyro. As soon as it’s lined up, the gunner goes weapons hot. 30mm rounds shred everything within 5 meters of the downed aircraft. This includes several civilians who had moved forward to check on the downed pilot.

Beebe hears the roar of the mini-gun, but doesn’t look back. The nomad pushes into the lobby and heads to the reception desk. Trying to remain clam, she asks to speak with Ricco’s contact. The attendant does not respond. She looks past Beebe’s shoulder to the carnage outside.

The nomad reaches into her satchel for Ricco’s letter of introduction, but an attack by a gunship is all the credentials she needs to get upstairs. Beebe can tell the producer is skeptical of her story. She doesn’t bother trying to convince him. “Just play the video.”

The footage changes his attitude immediately. He starts making arrangements to put the story on the air. Beebe asks to make a call.

The producer becomes cautious. “Who do you want to call?”

“I need to call Richard King at Disney World.”

The man suddenly has a vision of NET 54 losing its exclusive. He tries to play her off, promising to put her through after the story airs.

Beebe is tired of not being listened to. Worry about some middle manager putting the lives of her friend in danger of some petty power play makes her angry. It takes some threatening, but he finally lets her place the call, with the proviso that she puts it on speaker. Richard King has no interest in stealing the story from NET 54. He asks Beebe some pointed questions and promises he will do what he can.

By 4:20 pm Alabama command regains control of its forces. The four southern bunkers, along the river, are systematically reduced to rubble by artillery fire. Attempts to silence the enemy’s mortars, outside Blackwater are met with counter battery fire. The defenders lose four of their six 60mm mortars.

The last remaining bunker, guarding the crossroads at Bass Lane and Petersen Point Road, begins to taking fire at 5pm. Believing the hotel’s defensive points subdued, Alabama forces begin a slow and relentless advance from the north. The maintenance sheds and bunker at the golf course are pounded as the enemy’s infantry moves forward with overwhelming firepower. Jack Sheppard has the defenders fall back through the tunnel system to minimize casualties.

By this time, all the civilians and non-combatants have been safely moved to the old surface battery. Ricco orders all other non-essential personal to begin evacuating to the Young’s Farm. He calls for volunteers to make a stand in the ruins of the hotel and school. All the Team and anyone not seriously wounded steps forward.

The continued resistance at the school brings down a second artillery barrage at 6:15. The defenders fall back through the utility tunnel to the remains of the hotel. Three tanks start to move across the golf course supported by the remaining ACPA troopers and infantry.

Reports of jets approaching from the south, reach the command center. Jack Sheppard grimly relays the news over the com-net, “It looks like Alabama’s committing its air force. Keep your heads down.”

An A-10 roars across the Blackwater River, in bound towards the hotel. All of their anti-air defenses have been neutralized. There’s nothing to do except await the inevitable, which never comes. The Hog passes over the defenders and releases its cluster bombs into the massing Alabama troops.

A second A-10 drops its ordinance just north of the highway interchanges. A keen eyed defender catches a glimpse of the plane’s tail markings and reports in. Jack is overjoyed. The ‘cavalry’ has arrived. Beebe must have gotten through. In his excitement to share the news, he shouts into the microphone, “Those are Florida Air Guard!”

A pair of Militech AVX-9 Vipers joins the onslaught. Two missiles, from the combat aerodynes, tear through a tank at the lead Alabama’s assault. A second M-11’ crew is saved from a similar fiery death by their vehicle’s anti-missile system. Even though it survives this initial assault, the tank is too damaged to continue.

The missile volley from the twin Vipers is impressive, as are the Warthogs circling overhead, but what draws the attention of defenders and attackers alike is the enormous craft following behind the two AVs. It comes to a hover 40 feet of the ground.

Two large, roughly humanoid, shapes drop from the bottom of the craft. Retrorockets, on the legs, fire to slow their descent, but the ground still trembles as they land. Now that they’re down, it’s easier to judge their height. The mechanized armor is at least 10 meters tall. Emblazoned on chest of each is a cartoonish insignia that looks like a pair of mouse ears.

Ricco smiles; King Dick came through. He is impressed that Disney would commit its next generation combat mechs. A momentary stillness falls over the battle field. Ricco can understand the confusion on both sides. They are pretty awe inspiring the first time you see them.

The hover carrier lumbers away, taking its escorting AVs. As soon as the flyers are at a safe distance, the twin metal giants go to work. Fire tears into the paused Alabama infantry, from the 30mm gatling cannons, built into to each arm of the mechanized armor. Short range missiles pours out of shoulder mounted pods. Ricco shouts over the command link to his men, “Open fire!”

The mechs’ long strides quickly eat up the distance to Alabama’s front ranks. They wade in, sowing chaos in their wake. Another pair of the bipedal behemoths drops from a second heli-carrier. They are supported by 5 suits of PA armor and 20 heavy infantry, deployed from a Disney AV9 transport.

A voice cuts in on the command channel. “Mr. King sends his regards.” Ricco knows that voice. It is his former security chief from Disney World.

The mechs continue to drive back the Alabama forces. Jack Sheppard smiles at the general manager, “Shall we advance?”

Ricco returns the nomad commander’s smile. He is sick of being on the defensive. “Yes…move forward and support the mechs.”

The battle quickly becomes a rout. They chase the enemy off of the resort, but cut off pursuit at the edge of the property. Ricco doesn’t want to touch off an incident with the local authorities. Fighting one state is enough.

Jack has their units pull back to a defensible perimeter. They may control the battlefield, but communication with the outside world is still being jammed by the COG. A lot could still happen before 7 pm.

One thing Ricco wasn’t expecting is for the satellite phone to ring. The device had been provided by the COG. It was standard procedure, whenever war games were held in the area. The military didn’t want to be responsible for a guest dying or the hotel burning, because they were blocking communications to the area. It would have appeared odd if they hadn’t given them a sat-phone before the current exercises.

Given its source, Ricco hadn’t even tried to use the phone. It was locked down and keyed to a military satellite. The people who set them up would most likely be able to quash any communication sent over the device. He also kept it far enough away from his person, in case they tried to use the integrated GPS to locate his position.

The sat-phone rings for over a minute, before Ricco answers, “Hello?”

Mr. Torres?”


“We need to talk; face to face would be preferable. Would it be alright if I come to you?”

The voice on the other end is definitely male, but mild. It maintains a perfectly modulated conversational tone; no stress of the current situation or accent is apparent. It sounds like the voice of a trained negotiator.

Talking will buy them time. “Come alone and unarmed.”

“Of course, I will be right there.”

Eight minutes later a dark sedan drives slowly down Petersen Point Road. In case word of his coming hadn’t reached all the defenders, the man holds an improvised ‘white flag’ out the driver’s side window. He drives as far as the craters and rubble will allow, then exits the vehicle and walks the remaining distance to what use to be the front entrance of the hotel.

Ricco doesn’t believe the enemy will violate the truce, but there is still a twinge between his shoulder blades as he steps out to greet their ‘guest’. The man is of average height. He is Caucasian with pleasant, if somewhat bland, features. There are no obvious blemishes or identifiable scars. His suit is in a conservative cut, deep charcoal with a matching tie. Everything about him, down to the sedan he drives is unremarkable, non-threatening and ultimately forgettable.

The man stands casually, feet slightly apart. He keeps his hands in front of him, palms down, slightly crossed at waist level. After giving Ricco, and anyone else watching, ample opportunity to scan him, he suggests, “You and your team may wish to hear what I have to say in private.”

While the ‘negotiator’ is physically search, Ricco sends word for the team to gather in the command center.

Only after the room has been cleared of non-essential personnel and scanned, does the man proceed. “You can call me…Mr. Johnson. This moniker draws some snorts and eye-rolling from the assembled team members.

“Who I am is not important. I was sent to deliver a message…and an apology. This has all been a terrible mistake. The mission was hijacked, its operational goals subverted to serve the personal agenda of an individual or group within the chain of command. Please know, those responsible with be found and dealt with accordingly. I can understand how such an assurance must sound hollow, given where we are now. We have a problem here with no easy solution. The story is out. Public outrage is mounting. Containment is impossible. They’re looking for someone to blame. Every story needs its heroes and its villains. You have the opportunity, now, to choose which you want to be. The truth is, you blew up the chemical plant at Brewton, which resulted in the deaths of over a thousand people. There is documented proof of your involvement.”

Mr. Johnson’s revelation draws shocked and angry stairs from the team.

“You may now be thinking of going public…exposing the entire operation. How do you think people will react when the find out you were paid to kill all of those people? It won’t absolve you of your crimes. I am here to offer an alternative. Instead of being unwitting members of a radical terrorist organization, you have the chance to rewrite the narrative. Be the valiant defenders, standing up to a police state. We documented evidence of Alabama’s mistreatment of nomads and of their attack on the Thelas colony. In this version of events, the Lowndes government created the Alabama Freedom Army…a fictitious boogeyman, that they could use to cover up their own misdeeds and give them pretext for the growing nomad settlement at Petersen Point. The rest of you were caught in the conflict and rallied to defend your friends and neighbors. Mr. Torres, your presence and the fact that the hotel is nominally a co-Disney property will account for the arrival of reinforcements from Orlando.”

Mr. Johnson pauses a moment to look at his watch.

“Not to press you, but I will need an answer in the next 20 minutes. The media is waiting for a statement. Please know that if you decide to expose the operation, rather than support our version of events, the U.S. military will have no recourse, but to move in and wipe out the remnants of the Alabama Freedom Army. Mr. Torres; that will include the forces sent by Disney and your civilians, sheltering in the surface battery on the other side of the bay”

Without exception or hesitation they all agree, “Heroes.”

“Excellent.” The modulation in Mr. Johnson’s voice betrays no emotion. Their acquiescence seems little more than another item to check off on a list. “Please make a list of any medical supplies you need. We also have people available to help you with your story.”

“What about our weapons?” Jack’s question raises concern among the rest of the team.

Mr. Johnson is quick to calm their doubts. “We’re not asking you to lay down your weapons. You’re the good guys!” The suit even manages to give them a genuine smile.

“Now, please realize that any deviation from the official story could have dire consequences. That’s not meant as a threat. I am required to make sure you all understand the stakes involved. If you do not feel confident in your ability to tell the story convincingly, work with one of our coaches.”

To Ricco, he adds, “I need a volunteer to come with me to make an official statement to the media.”

The general manager doesn’t feel comfortable leaving it up to anyone else, so he goes himself. While the Disney executive shills for the camera, supplies pour in to the defenders.

Beebe’s relief at not being shot as a terrorist is short-lived. She receives the news that Jason was aboard the Sea Snake when the missile hit. The young nomad forces herself to go see where he died. All that is visible are the twisted bulkheads of the upper super structure. The rest of the broken hulk lies below the waterline.

A rescue effort was organized as soon as the fighting ceased, but it quickly became a recovery operation. Anyone still inside the vessel was already dead. They still hadn’t found all of the bodies, and probably never would. Natty’s tries to comfort her friend. For the nomad girl, their ‘great victory’ has brought nothing but grief.



Tuesday, June 11, 2045:

The clean-up commences. With the exception of the underground and the marina all the buildings on the hotel grounds have been damaged or destroyed. Disney with Sheriff Mason and the Santa Rosa County government send aid to the Petersen Point Resort. The Alabama dead and wounded are turned over to Federal authorities. Any remaining state forces are disarmed and held at the COG.

A media swarm descends on the resort and nearby town. The ‘Heroes of Blackwater’ are given ample opportunity to polish their story as every news outlet wants an interview or sound bite. They dutifully perform for the cameras.

Ricco is once again the media darling, helped in no small part cadre of Disney publicists, speech writers and media liaisons. He is the company’s golden boy; the crusading corporate executive, who cleaned up Rio, has done it again in north Florida. King Dick can’t help but be pleased with his subordinate.

Charlie returns his workshop across the river to find his prototypes missing and his men locked up in a back room. The Defense Department seized everything. His one consolation is that they didn’t get his schematics or notes. As a failsafe, he had installed custom ICE in his computer that would erase the hard drive if anyone tried to tamper with it. They may have taken the drives, but the program relayed a message to his drop box on the NET, verifying a successful deletion.

The gunsmith’s satisfaction is short lived though. He receives a call from his lawyers, telling him that his factory in Nevada has also been seized. They are already in the process of fighting the seizure. Charlie calls his friends in the Defense Department. Between his lawyers and friends, the courts overturn the seizure within 24 hours.

The nomad’s dreams of being a defense contractor take a serious blow. First they tried to have him killed then steal his life’s work. Charlie feels he’s done with government work…at least for the United States.

At 2 pm the news reports that Lt. Governor John Lowndes has resumed the position of acting governor and is scheduled to be sworn in to office as Governor tomorrow. The Lt. Governor’s claim to the office of their late father is hotly contested by his brother Geoffrey Lowndes, Alabama’s Secretary of State and sister, Matilda Lowndes, the state’s Attorney General. They had called for a meeting of the Populist Advisory Council to select a new governor. State troopers loyal to the Lt. Governor raided the closed session, which was being held at the state capital building in Dothan. Gunfire could be heard from outside.

Within an hour an official statement, released by the office of the Lt. Governor, announces the death of Geoffrey, Matilda and most of the members of the Populist Advisory Council. The account claims that members of the assemblage fire upon the heavily armed police officers. The troopers defended themselves. Outrage erupts across Alabama and the rest of the nation. President Whindam calls an emergency cabinet meeting and invites key members of the regional committees and Senate to attend.

The drama across the border matters very little to the defenders of Petersen Point. When the final butcher’s bill is tallied, it reads 23 dead and 58 wounded. While light compared to Alabama’s losses the sorrow is just as great.



Wednesday, June 14, 2047:

John Lowndes televises his inauguration. In his speech, the new Governor rejects President Whindam’s offer of mediation. He instead calls on the rest of the Cotton Kingdom’s leaders to rally behind him and resist what he terms “A second Reconstruction of the South.” His words fall on deaf ears.

Instead of supporting him the aging Governor of Mississippi, Carol Holmes, calls for Federal forces to intervene.

Sheriff Mason shows up at the remains of the resort with two agents from Interpol, a member of the Czech diplomatic corps and a well-dressed middle aged woman. The latter exudes a cool and detached aura. They are looking for Natty. It’s clear they’ve come to take her away.

Beebe finds her first and offers her a place to hide. “If you want, Charlie and I can hide you. You can come with us. They’ll never find you.”

The girl can’t meet her friend’s gaze. She looks down at her feet and nervously chews on her bottom lip. Warring emotions fight for control.

Beebe can’t understand. “Don’t you want to come with us?” Her voice is quiet; uncertain. The nomad has to wipe her eyes. Could she be losing her best friend too?

The Czech girl finally looks up and Beebe can read the answer on her face. The nomad quits fighting her emotions and lets the tears flow as Natty explains her decision. “Since I have come to this country I have lost everything that matters to me. I can’t bear being here anymore. I love you, but if stay it will bring nothing but grief.”

Charlie and Beebe escort Natty to meet the Czech delegation. The young Czech sees the well dressed woman and slows her gait. Beebe notices and asks, “Do you know her?”

“Yes, it is my step-father’s sister, Teresa Rossi.”

The older woman sees Natty and walks over to her. She brushes the girl’s light brown hair back from her face and speaks soothingly in Italian.

The Czech diplomat turns to Sheriff Mason. “We have filed Alina Lanikova’s will in your courthouse and have an order from your state department giving us custody of the minor child, Natalie Lanikova, who is one of our citizens. She will come with us now.”

Ricco fears this may be some last ploy by Mr. Zeitsev or his conspirators. He races over with Betty Lu. “Under the laws of the State of Florida, Natty is an adult and can go where she pleases. We can go to the court now if you like.”

The diplomat’s eye’s open wide and his nostrils flare. He is about to lay into corporate lawyer, when Natty states meekly, “No, I want to go with Aunt Teresa.”

The diplomat chokes back his words and anger. He sneers at Betty Lu. “Well then…We will all be leaving now.”

Teresa Rossi derails his moment of triumph. “No.”

The diplomat looks at the older woman, confused.

“I am changing our travel plans. Natalie and I will be returning to Italy, not the Czech Republic. But we will stay here a few days so Natalie can gather her things and say a proper good-bye to her friends…besides; I would like to meet them.”

The diplomat appears ready to have a fit…or seizure. He looks to the two Interpol agents, who merely shrug their shoulders.

“Now,” asks Aunt Teresa as she turns back to the nomads, “You must be Beebe.”



Thursday, June, 13, 2047:

By this time everyone but John Lowndes sees the writing on the wall. Many of Alabama’s mayors join the call for Federal intervention. The Pensacola COG is a flurry of activity as Federal troops prepare to move in.

Local news media reports the death of Federal Attorney Richard Starkey, last evening. He was killed in a tragic single car accident on his way home from work.

A Disney crew arrives with a large tent. They begin to set it up just north of the ruins of the main hotel building. Richard King flies in from Orlando to survey the damage. Ricco greets his boss, giving him a brief tour of the compound, before making his apologies. “I have to get back to overseeing the cleanup.”

King is more than understanding. “We’ll talk later, in my office.” The Disney exec points to the newly erected tent.

Towards noon, an unmarked AV lands near the structure. Soon after its arrival, Ricco receives a request from King Dick to join him in his office. While not opulent, the tent has more than a few creature comforts; though, that’s not what catches the general manager off guard. Ricco is shocked to find Richard King pouring a scotch for Charles Ingersoll. The CEO of Petersen Point Properties is seated at a table looking very pleased with himself.

Charles sips his drink and remarks, “Ah, you remembered, my favorite single malt.”

The Disney honcho turns to Ricco smiling, “Sit. Would you like a drink?”

The ex-cop drops into a chair, but declines the proffered beverage. He can barely contain his rage.

Ingersoll smirks at the fuming general manager. “Oh, don’t take it too hard, its only business. You are actually responsible for what will be a renaissance for this town. Petersen Point Properties will finally make a fortune here all thanks to you, Ricco.”

Richard King smiles and casually inquires, “So how is Sophie, your grandmother in law?”

“Ah, they turned off her life support a few hours ago. It took the poor dear ten minutes to pass away. The wife and kids have taken the AV to the Bahama to celebrate. I will be joining them this evening.”

“Good for you, Charles.” The Disney executive raise his in a toast, then drains it dry. Ingersoll does the same.

“I must say, you’re taking this all very well, Dick. I know Disney is taking a loss on this, but I am sure we can come to some sort of settlement for your trouble.”

King takes the defeat graciously, “I have to admit, I never saw this coming, but I have a few ideas about recompense we can discuss later.”

The good natured banter between the two is like salt in an open wound. Ricco sees the faces of the dead, those that suffered and lost everything. There are no guards present to protect Ingersoll. Killing him would be easy.

Ricco’s thoughts of murder are interrupted by the CEO’s cell phone. Ingersoll apologizes for the interruption, but Richard King waves it off. “Go ahead. Take the call. It might be important.”

The grin on King Dick’s face changes slightly as the smile on Charles’ face disappears. Slowly Ingersoll lowers the phone from his ear and stares at the Disney executive.

“Bad news,” King inquires.

Ingersoll rises from the table as his cheeks flush red with rage as he shouts, “You bastard! You’ll never get away with this! I’ll get you if it’s the last thing I do!” The CEO of Petersen Point Properties storms out of the tent and back to his AV.

Ricco can only stare after him in confusion.

King hands the general manager a glass of scotch. “Oh, I heard about fifteen minutes ago that the AV taking Charles’ whole family to the Bahamas suffered a catastrophic malfunction;” pausing to drink from his own glass. “Exploded in midair; then fell into the sea. It’s tragic, but you know, the Bermuda Triangle and all.”

Ricco had been contemplating the murder of one man. He had also though his superior cold and callus for how blithely he wrote off the destruction of the resort. After hearing about Ingersoll’s family, he has a better appreciation for how truly monstrous, the man they call King Dick could be.

Ricco knocks back his drink, buying time to gather his thoughts. He looks at the dregs of amber liquid at the bottom of his tumbler, rather than at his boss. “He’ll never rest till he gets his revenge, you know,”

King seems unconcerned. “Well, such news is a terrible shock to the system. Losing one family member would be hard, but all of them…the stress might cause a heart attack…possibly on the way home from this very meeting.”

Ricco is afraid of how King’s mind works. It makes him realize, he could use another drink. Rather than ask for a refill, the general manager reaches for Ingeroll’s glass. King Dick stops him. “You don’t want that glass.”

The Disney executive reaches across the table and picks up the tumbler of alcohol. He pours the remaining scotch out in the grass, then slips the now empty glass into a plastic baggy taken from his pocket. Once safely sealed, King locks the offending tumbler in his brief case.

The Disney executive sits back and muses, “You know, all these people here shouldn’t die in vain. I think the hotel should be rebuilt. Your heroic stand could be a big draw if handled right. Why don’t you introduce me to Michelle Petersen?”









Another campaign under our belts and a still a lot of questions unresolved. Within a week, Federal forces overrun Alabama with little to no resistance. Governor John Lowndes orders his guards to fight to the last bullet. They actually fire only one shot; right into the pathetic little twerp’s head! The prisons are opened up and most prisoners are set free. Of course, President Whindam is on hand and personally throws open a couple of the gates. It makes for marvelous photo ops. Many pundits credit this for his election victory that fall. While many in the country cry out that it is time for a change of administration, Whindam pulls out a squeaker victory at the polls.

Deputy Director of the C.I.A. Hamilton Greeley incurs the wrath of the president. Fortunately he knows a lot so the man is permitted to retire and is made Ambassador to Thailand. Greeley is shipped there to enjoy his retirement and told to be grateful he didn’t suffer the fate of the late Richard Sharkey.

As to the Petersen Point Resort, the place descends to Michelle Petersen and her family. She doesn’t want to run it, but is wary of Disney’s offers. In the end, she dissolves Petersen Point Properties and the trust. She is able to do this since the late Charles Ingersoll has so thoughtfully set up the conditions for her to do that. She signs over 49% of the operation to the Disney Corporation on the condition that Ricco Torres remains the general manager. This is very acceptable to Disney, who rebuilds the resort as a satellite hotel. The imminent collapse of other Cotton King oligarchs promises that the roads west and north will reopen making this an attractive destination. The Disney media machine lauds the heroic defense of the property and it becomes stuff of local and regional myth. The Town of Blackwater thrives, but still maintains its local flavor.

The nomads, however, find themselves put out of Blackwater. All of their housing has been destroyed. However, President Whindam is not one to turn his back on a potential ally. He makes sure that they get a piece of the newly opened up Mobile waterfront. Its good politics and the nomads can be watched better there.


So What Was Really Going On?

One of the facets of a completely black operation is lack of oversight. With two people in charge of operation, Whindam was confident that Greeley and Sharkey would keep each other honest. Now here is where some our group’s game mechanics come into operation. A Player Character has generally one of three eventual fates. The first is that they get killed. The second is that the player gets bored with the character and stops using him or her. The third is that the character survives and gets so powerful, rich or whatever that he or she becomes unplayable. You have too many enemies or too many friends. Your mere appearance anywhere upsets the local situation. Also, it’s difficult for less developed PCs to work with you as the high level PC’s skills far and away make other PCs irrelevant to the plot and/or action. At that point the character retires and becomes one of the movers in our campaign world. You are allowed to make an appearance now and then with the OK of the current GM, but you are really not much more than a plot device. What you do get before this happens is that you are made the centerpiece of a campaign. Whether that is being in charge or being allowed to finish some long standing character goal, it is generally up to the current GM usually in consultation with the rest of our group of GMs. The Rio de Janeiro portion of the Burn Notice Campaign was used for Kyle and Cat as their ‘last hurrah’. The two ‘retired’ from active play and now serve as part of our campaign ‘fluff’. The downside of being the center point of a ‘retirement’ campaign is that the GM generally has little mercy on you. If you fuck up, you die! (usually). The Fall of the Cotton Kingdoms was a retirement campaign for both Sam Fisher and Charlie Bibbliodoc. That is where Hamilton Greeley and Richard Sharkey came in. Sam Fisher had been a thorn in Hamilton Greeley’s side for years. Fisher’s in game screw ups (and we are talking about almost 15 years of play so this character had many successes too) had enraged elements of the C.I.A. and Charlie’s arming of nomad groups, especially the Thelas ‘pirates’, made DA Sharkey’s life a living hell. These two NPCs made common cause to help each other rid themselves of their personal devils.

There was one other NPC who added a secret complication to the operation. President Whindam wasn’t sure that Governor Braxton Lowndes II would be taken in by this plan. He knew about the Governor’s taste in rough sex with strippers. Governor Lowndes had to go, but nothing could be traced back to Whindam. The President had arranged for Catherine Fisher Vaduva to be raised in the United States in exchange for a promise by one of the Nietzscheian leaders, Mallory Knox, to kill anyone he wanted. He played that card and told no one. Alina Lanikova was working for the Collective and Mallory sent her to the Blue Moon Revue to get the security codes necessary for Mallory herself to get in and kill the Governor. The killing was set for a time when Alina could be accounted for. Mallory underestimated Alabama’s hatred for the Petersen Point Resort and was unaware that the hotel was playing a major role for Greeley and Starkey, more on this under Natty’s Future Fate.

As GM I have to say that this didn’t turn out at all like I planned. By Episode Two the players were off and running in ways I hadn’t planned. Instead of reining them in, I let them go. Everyone was having such a good time, I developed the side plots and distractions they pursued and weaved them into the storyline. I didn’t expect Sam to be able to have the knowledge to run the hotel so I provided him with Carrie Ann Thorn, who was extremely capable and could run it herself with just a little direction. The only reason she hadn’t been made General Manager before was that she had been old Randy Petersen’s mistress so Sophie hated her. All the old fossils who worked at the hotel couldn’t be fired because their pensions had been used to keep the hotel afloat. Sam never bothered to inquire about this before he demoted and humiliated the only person (Carrie Ann in Episode 2) capable of running the place. Well, Ricco did have some hotel management on his character sheet from working for Disney and the player wanted a shot at trying. This seemed to be a good move and would take away any distractions for Sam Fisher’s running of the edgerunner team.

All throughout the campaign I dropped hits and clues about the Department of Justice’s hatred of what Charlie was doing, but the player just laughed confident his allies in the Defense Department’s DARPA program would protect him. Well that was true to a point. They had lots of faith in his laser pistol and x-ray laser rifle projects. The Laser LAW and Laser Cannon projects seemed iffy to them. When the rifle and pistol were delivered, some thought it would be easier to tie him into the Alabama Freedom Army and let him die. A little legal legerdemain and they could seize his patents and not have to pay him!

Luckily for Deputy Director Greeley, Sam Fisher fucked up and murdered an Alabama State Trooper. That gave the C.I.A. the perfect excuse to kill him. Now, I don’t like just killing PCs, but there was no way to cover it up and I believe that shot was meant to get the Alabama troopers to open fire and kill the closest and most open target, Brandon Heath. The next PC in line to become security chief was Sam! Yes, some in the group are not above arranging a Klingon promotion-like advance!

Barring a fantastic stroke of luck, the end game was fated from the beginning. How well the Team would do depended on a predetermined set of factors. For example, if anyone had leaked or reported the existence of the fort’s tunnel complex underneath, the Lazarus “Observation” Team would have put explosives on the outside of it under water where it crossed the entrance to the small harbor in Blackwater. The detonators would be in the hands of Alabama so the fate of the civilians would’ve been very different. Also the lighthouse/bunkers would have been no surprise. The heroic defense of Petersen Point would have devolved into an escape from certain death scenario. It should be noted that Sam Fisher intended to report the tunnels, but had no way to contact Mr. Zeitsev. This lack of contact was deliberate so no connection could be drawn between Fisher and his government handlers. Now, that might seem foolish for the handlers to have no insight into what was happening with the Team, but the government had that covered; more on that later on. Also, Sam Fisher wanted to sell all the small arms (found under the golf cart repair building; less enough to arm just the team) and divide the money between the group. By now Ricco was in charge and vetoed that on the premise you can never have too much firepower available especially when you might (and will) have to deal with the Alabama State Police.

The fact is the Team made every right major decision I put out for them. Those decisions were not always made for the right reason, but no matter. Also, the success of the hotel mattered little to the outcome. You just couldn’t run it out of business before Operation Perfect Storm. Ricco’s player rallied the Team and came up with ways to turn the place around. By the time the end came, they had recruited about every possible ally. I never even considered that Ricco would call on his old contact Henrique from the Burn Notice/Rio de Janeiro Campaign. Paris and Natty had a part to play in the drama, but the band and all of that went from a side plot for Beebe to an important part of the drama. Natty, who has a future importance, was supposed to be a minor player behind her mother, Alina, and Paris Saint Claire. Originally it was supposed to be Sam Fisher that kills Richard Lowndes, but since Natty had gained more ‘plot importance’ the shot fell to her. (And besides, Sam Fisher was deceased by then.)

As a GM, I am very proud of this campaign. I developed what I thought would be a fun plot(s) for everyone, but the story took on a life of its own, generated by the players as much as by me. That’s really as it should be. There were a lot of personal secrets here. Some came out and some didn’t. So here are some of them of both the PCs and NPCs ….


Secrets and Future Fates:

Ricco Torres: The Brazilian continues on as general manager of the Petersen Point Resort. He is instrumental in the rebuilding of that place, becomes a leading citizen and local hero. Vera eventually hears the call of money and excitement. She and Ricco part again as friends. For now the ex-cop gets to rest on his laurels. In the future Disney will surely find another use for this talented manager. He does eventually solve Mary Beth Petersen’s murder. She was killed accidently by her Uncle Randy Petersen. She refused to give up TC James and after an argument with her uncle left on her motorcycle. Randy chased her and tried to stop her by pulling in front. Unfortunately Randy had been drinking, misjudged the turn knocking her off the bike and killing her. This was the incident that finally pushed old Randy over the edge. Since the argument had been about TC, the old man blamed the biker.


Charlie Bibbliodoc: The nomad gunsmith loves his country, but has trouble getting over the fact that they tried to kill him and steal his life’s work. Charlie is somewhat reluctant to turn over the Laser LAW, which is an interesting concept but not practical as a mobile field weapon, or the Laser Cannon unless he has assurances about his royalties and production contracts. He gets nothing but grief, evasion and slowed payments. The government of Mars approaches him and offers him what he has only dreamed of. Charlie has seen the writing on the wall for the nomad movement in America. A resurgent central government is an anathema to the nomad lifestyle. Space, however, is the new frontier. Mars offers Charlie a base they are building in the asteroid belt (and doesn’t have the personnel to man), a couple of small ships and the opportunity to form the first nomad space family. The weaponsmith speaks with a number of other nomad leaders and leaves Earth with a group and heads for Mars and beyond. Stay tuned for one of our future planned campaigns: Into the Dark!


Beebe Laugherty: This nomad tech remains in the area for a while and gets to know her father and that other part of her family. She maintains her friendship with Natty and the two visit each other. Soon Beebe is offered a place in Charlie’s proposed nomad space family. She decides to go and heads to Mars.


Brandon Heath: The biomechanical cyborg remains head of Petersen Security for a good while until his former employer the Bast Corporation offers him a new job. That company was formed years ago to launder money for the various Caitlin clones. It is (secretly) wholly owned by those biogens. For years the Collective ran the company, and they developed an excellent reputation as a personal-security and training firm. After the Petersen Point operation Cat Vaduva takes back control and expands its operations. She has her husband Kyle Vaduva appointed President and CEO. Brandon, in his former life as Grave, was one her oldest friends and she wants him working for her.


Betty Lu: The cute Asian woman remains as the chief consul for the Petersen Point Hotel with a fat pay raise. She volunteers her time to help indigent locals with their legal problems and is a major supporter of the local Buddhist Center.


Mason Verge: The ex-Marine remains at the Petersen Point Hotel, but a couple of months after Brandon leaves (and Michael Jay Tran becomes security chief) he gets an offer from the Bast Corporation for a job on one of their elite security teams. The contract offers money, cyberware and therapy. It is too good to pass up so he joins up.


Owen ‘Crank’ Wolf: I have saved him for last as this character is very special. His player is one of the founders of our group and we have been gaming together for over twenty five years. We got into Cyberpunk together so we both have played a lot of different types of characters. He wanted a role-playing challenge and a character with history. Well, I gave him one. First of all his real name is Owen McGregor and he is the son of one of his older Cyberpunk characters, Lars McGregor. Lars is from our New York City Campaign (which we will write up someday from our copious notes) and the Union City Campaign – 2028 which is written up here. Officially Lars is a law enforcement officer in Union City, New Jersey now, but he is in reality the major domo for Nicole Alexander, a wealthy billionaire businesswoman, philanthropist to the public, but privately a member of the Consortium, a collection of ruthless business and governmental leaders who quietly move their pawns across the world stage to support their own agendas. Lars raised his son Owen with every advantage: the finest schools, cyberware and training. At twelve he was hunting boosters in the combat zone with his father for ‘fun’. Lars was preparing his son as his successor. Well, funny things happen with kids (I know, I have 3 in RL). Sometimes they see what you are and say, “No, I don’t want to be like that.”

Owen ran away, joined a gang for a while then decided he would do some good in the world. His mother’s influence no doubt. He enlisted for a term in the military then joined the United States Marshal Service. Yes, he was an undercover cop in the party. In fact he was Deputy Marshal Clay Johnson’s partner. As I said earlier there was no way that Deputy Director Greeley and DA Richard Starkey wouldn’t keep tabs on the team. Owen was picked because those two knew Lars was a vicious criminal and thought the apple wouldn’t fall far from the tree. Owen was not privy to any part of the plan. His instructions were to help the Team in any way with their ‘Dirty Deeds’ operations and report back. His roleplaying challenge was to serve both the Team and his bosses while remaining faithful to both. As the mission began, he started to have suspicions that something was amiss. Owen chose to interpret his orders literally. He faithfully reported all of the Team’s activities in regard to their ‘Dirty Deed’ missions, but nothing more. Thus, Greeley and Sharkey never learned about the old tunnel system and the hotel’s defenses. The only thing he did report was that Sam Fisher murdered an Alabama State Trooper, which his two bosses had already figured out. He also reported his suspicion that Ricco had Fisher killed for it. Well, that wasn’t true and Greeley knew that since he ordered that hit himself. As the campaign progressed, Crank began to like and admire Ricco and knew the Brazilian was a good man. Owen started to care for the people at the Resort.

Let it never be said that no good deed goes unpunished. Owen remained undercover and continued to run the Blue Moon Revue for a couple of months after the battle. Both the Blue Moon and the Panhandle Saloon lay outside the hotel’s defense perimeter so they were undamaged in the fighting. On paper, Owen McGregor received a commendation for his undercover work, but his association with the disgraced Richard Sharkey and hand in the deaths of so many Alabama State Police cast a permanent cloud on his reputation already tarnished by his family connection.

Owen’s next assignment was in the wilds of North Dakota. His repeated requests for transfer were granted and he was sent to northwest Alaska. It became apparent his career was going nowhere. It was then an offer came from the Bast Corporation that promised him a position on one of their elite teams if he could pass their training regime. It was too good an offer to refuse.


Doctor Eduardo Ricci: The doctor received his promised reward for his work: A trip to Mars, citizenship there and a prestigious position in the Mars Academy of Science. His work had of course been a cover to maintain Brandon Heath’s experimental biomechanical cyborg body. However, he did have another secret assignment by the Collective that was unknown to everyone else. That had to do with the following person.


Natalie Lanikova: As stated earlier, her mother, Alina, was working for the Collective, but helping Mallory Knox to kill Governor Braxton Lowndes II was not why she was recruited. Alina was an honored and up and coming officer in the Czech Army’s 601st Special Operations Group. In her wild youth she had a precocious daughter, Natalie, out of wedlock who became a champion rifle shot. Alina’s commanding officer, a man of ‘questionable’ sexual appetites, raped Natalie. The girl told her mother what happened, but this officer was too highly connected to be touched. Alina did use this information to get herself discharged from the army. The former commander tried to have the mother and daughter killed, so the two were forced to flee over the mountains in the middle of winter. Alina made it, but her daughter died. That is when the Collective found her. They proposed a deal to the heart broken Czech mother. No one knew that Natalie was dead. They would give her a new life on Mars or New Zealand if she would raise a Caitlin clone who just received her new and improved body as her own daughter. This particular Caitlin was one of the ones produced by Biotechnica and trained to operate in the Czech Republic. Alina was conflicted about the offer, but when presented with a girl who looked and sounded like her daughter she agreed. Caitlins who go through this process often lose themselves in their new identity. Unlike Cat and Sam Fisher this relationship was a bit rockier, but the two eventually bonded. The new Natty needed to believe she had a mother and the mother wanted to believe her daughter still lived. When the job came through for Governor Braxton Lowndes II, Mallory looked through her list of human operatives who could do the job. Alina’s name jumped out. Cat had already requested that Brandon be assigned to watch over her father, Sam, and Dr. Ricci would be there to keep care of him. The good doctor could also take care of the young biogen’s needs so she wouldn’t be discovered. (This was the real reason Dr. Ricci refused to send Natty to the hospital after she was almost strangled in Episode 16.)

Catherine Vaduva had no idea that one of her ‘sisters’ was at the Petersen Point Hotel. Those details were always handled by the Collective. (Oh, yes, Aunt Teresa was the Nietzscheian that recruited Alina and brought Natty to her.) The fiasco (as far as Cat was concerned) at the Petersen Point Resort caused a major change in her attitude towards the raising of young Caitlins. Kyle and Cat had been contemplating what to do next in their life. This galvanized their decision. The two moved to Florence, Italy to be near Natty and help with her training. Control of the Bast Corporation now resides with those two although they still serve the Collective’s interest. Natty joined the Bast Corporation and now serves as one of their operatives. It was on her recommendation that much of the team that worked at the Petersen Point Resort were hired.


A Few Words of Thanks

Although these episodes have been posted under my name they are not solely my work. I GM’ed these sessions and took copious notes before writing them up. Wyn Snow helped with the editing. Ted Salonich, however, spent an enormous amount of time rewriting and giving the accounts of this campaign a smooth and consistent voice. He turned a rather dry reporting of events into a story that brought the voices of each character out in a personal and distinctive manner. Thank you so much, my friend!

I would also be remiss if I didn’t recognize the members of ‘vfte’ (Views From the Edge) whose suggestions for this campaign under the CyberCountries’ topic of the same name gave me ideas to weave the story and area of Florida with a deep and rich environmental and cultural flavor. So my thanks to Companero, Dog Soldier, Rockwolf 66 and gomiville! A special thanks to Mikael van Atta for all his encouraging words. And of course, a ‘shout out’ to Wisdom 000 for all those wonderful ‘toys’ he has collected in his Datafortress 2020 Archive!


Where Do We Go From Here?

Well, the world is careening towards war. The United States is pulling itself back together and that isn’t in the EU’s best interest. The EU is attempting to dominate the Solar System and the Mars Republic won’t tolerate that. The Voice of the Wastes is preaching Jihad against the West, but mostly the EU. Russia is feeling pinched by the new rapprochement of the EU on one side and a resurgent China on the other. Germany is furious at Poland’s support of the Free Czech Army which continues its campaign of terror against both the aging General Skroup and their interests in the Czech Republic. Great Britain under Queen Victoria II’s influence has revitalized the old Commonwealth. The Commonwealth pound is more valuable than the US dollar and is challenging the Euro.

Next we jump to 2050. The Bast Corporation, a Commonwealth company chartered in New Zealand, has become a rising star in the international security field. Led by its new President and CEO, Kyle Vaduva, it has become a leader in the fields of training, personal security and grey operations for international NGOs. They pick their clients carefully and refuse to work for any corporation or political entity with questionable reputations. Officially they absolutely do not do wet work or lethal black ops. That is their reputation at least. It is also rumored that they occasionally work for Kyle’s old employer, the C.I.A.


Coming Soon: Prelude to War & Part 1: Mission to Prague