Episode 30: Chickens Come Home to Roost


Cat Fisher and Kyle Vaduva team up with Nathan Forest, the CIA’s Deputy Director of Clandestine Operations. Sharin Vaduva has a surprise for her son, Kyle. An MP of the Republic of West Australia approaches the team on behalf of his brother, the owner of Vanderwyk Mining Co, also in West Australia, who wants to hire them for a high-risk, low-profile engagement.

Dramatis Personae

The client du jour:

Joost Vanderwyk, owner of Vanderwyk Mining Co. in West Australia. He wants some detecting done, and is uneasy about trusting anyone local to West Australia. His brother Pieter recently saw a video of the “Timbuktu Twelve” rescue—and realized here was exactly the kind of team they needed.

The Team (PCs):

Allison Cole: 16 yo kleptomaniac sex pot and one of Cat Fisher’s best friends from Atlantic City High School. She just graduated from that school and—when she became a suspect in a recent heist in Atlantic City—followed her friend to Jamaica. Perhaps not yet “world class”, her skills as a Prowler are formidable.

Cat Fisher: Officially she is Sam Fisher and the late Maria Ortiz’s 18 yo daughter. In actuality she is a full memory clone of late Caitlin Jones, the original biogenetic assassin construct built by the now defunct Bio Works Corporation. This is known only to Kyle Vaduva. Some on the Team know she used to be Dominique Vadim, a Caitlin clone, but that person is also “known to be dead” for some six years now.

Doc Freeman: Former professor at UNLV, former assistant coroner and (formally) disgraced cyber researcher. He is the inventor of the “cyberbrain” with which he claims to have cured death itself. Although courts around the world are now looking into ramifications of his work, Disney Corporation has honored their agreements with the man and he is now rich beyond his wildest dreams. The Team bases out of his Morgan’s Harbor Hotel which he operates in cooperation with the Disney Corporation’s Port Royal Historical Theme Park and Museum.

Kyle Vaduva: Former C.I.A. agent now burned by the agency over incidents that he did not commit. He is now reunited with his lover from the Romanian Operation, whom he recently learned is the full memory clone of the late infamous bio-genetic assassin, Caitlin Jones.

Nip Lacey: 15 yo girl with neon green hair, has amnesia. She was adopted by Tyne Lacey 4 years ago. She is a NET savant, classmate of Allison Cole’s, and the other of Cat Fisher’s best friends from high school.

Fred: ferret and imaginary friend of Nip’s.

RandyShugart III: He is the 28 yo grandson of CMH winner, Randall Shugart of Blackhawk Down fame. He is himself an eight year veteran of Delta Force and has recently been maneuvered out of the military.

William Eller: This is a cover alias for Thomas Rifkin, an operative for the Consortium, a group of powerful and wealth business and political leaders who cooperate to “make things go their way”. Thomas/Max/William is a 10% owner of the Morgan’s Harbor Hotel.

Zahra Baudin: She is a 29 yo veteran of the JDF (Jamaican Defense Forces). Born of a Jamaican mother and a Haitian father, she is a trained “intrusion” expert.

The NPCs:

Beryl Montcliffe: Middle aged woman who is Sharin’s new Bingo Buddy and friend. She seems kind of nosy and asks a lot of questions. She also seems rather nervous around Kyle.

Joost Vanderwyk: Owner of Vanderwyk Mining Co. They are one of the larger copper and zinc mines in West Australia. They also produce brass. Until a few years ago, they held the contract supplying the government with these substances.

Nathan Forest: CIA’s Deputy Director of Clandestine Operations is based at Langley VA. He is a long term friend of Cat’s “father”, Sam Fisher, who is currently serving a 5-year sentence in a Federal prison for extortion (see Episode 22).

Nicholas Vaduva: Zar’s (Kyle’s) 18-year-old son from our Romanian adventure.

Pieter Vanderwyk: Joost’s brother and an MP in the National Assembly (lower house of the West Australian legislature). Pieter is a prominent member of the country’s Liberal Party.

Sharin Vaduva: Is Kyle’s mom.

The Action

Early December 2044, Washington DC:

Cat travels to Washington, DC, to meet with Nathan Forest, the CIA’s Deputy Directory of Clandestine Operations and a long-time friend of her father, Sam Fisher. Soon after the events in Mali, Cat sent an operations report on those events to Nathan along with one of the M-16s used by the Islamist rebels, wanting him to be in her debt and hoping this will prompt his cooperation.

Nathan is indeed appreciative. “I’m always glad to have a good source of information.”

“You have been my father’s best friend for years,” Cat says, “so, if you’re the source of the burn notice on Kyle, let’s not waste time here. Just tell me, and I’ll go. I will bury everything I have uncovered.”

Nathan smiles. “Heck, if I was the source, I doubt I would let you leave.” Cat smiles back, thinking to herself, he could try. “No,” Nathan continues, “I’m not the source.”

Cat then shows Nathan the heavily redacted burn file they got from Harry Hoar (a “very special” LawDiv agent assigned to investigate Kyle). Cat names several of the operations and observes, “You were in charge of these ops. This looks bad for you.”

Nathan examines the burn file and its cover letter. He agrees it looks bad for him, that these were indeed his ops—he was the handler on several of them—and having a burned spy working under his aegis is not a career maker. However, there’s something else weird about the file: The cover letter was signed by a Mikal Golubev—but on the date of that letter, Golubev was no longer working at the Agency. He wonders aloud if anyone has tried calling the number on the letterhead, then pulls out his phone and starts to dial.

Cat interrupts, asking if he really wants anyone who answers on the other end to know it was him calling. Nathan realizes she has a good point. They go find a data terminal, drop into the Net and he makes the call from there.

Sure enough, someone answers, “Liaison Communications, Deputy Director’s office. Can I help you?” Nathan asks if the Deputy Director is there, and the person says that Mr. Golubev is away from his desk right now. Can she help him? Nathan says he will call again tomorrow, and hangs up. Turning to Cat, he asks if she traced that. She admits she could have if he had suggested that before making the call, but it’s too late now.

Clearly, someone fabricated both the burn file and the cover letter—AND put a contingency plan in place if someone was reporting to the apparent source of that burn file.

Cat asks Nathan if he’s ever heard of anyone named Gregory Michaels. Nathan says no. She then shows him the photo they found at Professor Bouchard’s house. Nathan peers at it. Says yeah, there’s something familiar about the face. He thinks he may have seen the man once or twice—at the Capital Building, maybe the Pentagon.

Nathan tells Cat that “Ever since the time when Hank Boseman called me when Kyle was in Asuncion and demanded to know what he were doing there—and later Hank claimed he had NOT made that call—that’s been nagging at me. Something’s not right there. And I can’t take this to my boss. He’s the one who warned me away from any further inquiries on Kyle. So he might be involved. Hank might be involved. Hell, anyone might be involved.”

Cat asks what Hank is doing now, and Nathan tells her he’s still the Section Chief on the South America desk.

Cat then asks if Nathan has any suggestions. He thinks he should talk with Kyle as well as Cat. She agrees, and they make plans for Nathan to travel to the Caribbean.


Roughly one week later, mid December 2044, off the coast of Puerto Rico:


Nathan travels to Puerto Rico “on vacation” to a resort there. Taking skillful precautions not to be followed or observed, he meets with Cat and Kyle on the Team’s new boat, the Windfall. (This is the ship the Team got from Dragoslav Cesic, the leader of the Serbian group, the Baker’s Dozen.) They go to an inner cabin where they cannot be overheard. “Nice digs,” Nathan observes.

The three discuss the situation. It’s clear that somehow, Kyle was burned from inside the Agency. Nathan shares how burn notices are done. The Section Chief gets information from the field that an agent has become unreliable. But they don’t just take the source’s word for it. People in the spy business are known to lie. So the Section Chief must get three independent sources of confirmation. If that happens, the Section Chief then issues a memo that is sent to the Deputy Director for signature.

So it looks like Kyle’s burn notice may have been forged from Boseman’s office—which is hard to do, but possible if you had access from inside the Agency. A mole would have to have forged Boseman’s cyber codes, but a top Netrunner would be able to do it.

Kyle suggests going to the Senate Oversight committee that oversees the CIA and LawDiv. “And tell them what?” Nathan asks. “We don’t have anything resembling proof.”

Nathan also shares that he sweet-talked the Deputy Director’s admin, Ellie Tronce, into showing him Kyle’s actual burn notice. She pulled it up on her monitor and allowed him to look at it, not knowing he has eidetic recall. Nathan now quotes the burn notice to the others. It said:

Date: 9 July 2041
Effective immediately.

All personnel be advised:

The operative named Kyle Vaduva shall henceforth be considered UNRELIABLE. Do not use for missions or information.

Electronic access closed. Assets frozen. Passport and all IDs suspended.

Cause: Classified. Omega level clearance required, codename Zanzibar.

Authorization Source: Classified. Omega level clearance required, codename Zanzibar.

Action Reliability Level: Alpha.

Signature: Mark Hasselhoff, CIA Deputy Director (digital signature)

The pair asks about Omega level clearance. Nathan tells them it’s the highest level of security, and access is strictly limited to operational need-to-know. So only those involved in “Zanzibar”, whatever that is, would be able to look at the documentation behind the burn notice.

The three explore various next steps they could take. They decide that Nathan will examine the archived paper files in the basement, looking for an investigation that got Kyle burned, anything he can find on Gregory Michaels, plus information on Hank Boseman and the people on his staff at the time of the burn notice, since those people are the likeliest source of the memo and whatever investigation may or may not have been done at the time.

Nathan gives them a new phone number they can reach him at—a non-Agency number.


Early March 2045, Port Royal, Jamaica:

Sharin Vaduva invites her son Kyle and his lover Cat over for dinner. When they arrive, Sharin indicates she has a surprise for Kyle and waves him towards the living room. Sitting on the coach is a teenager whom Kyle recognizes. It’s Nicholas, Zar’s son from Romania.

(GM Note: Zar was an identity that Kyle used in the Romanian adventure several years back. Various circumstances made that operation wind up in hot water. When Zar returned to Langley to report on the mess and find out what was going on, Kyle had to abandon the Zar identity. In fact, “Zar’s” body was found floating in New York City’s East River, perforated with bullet holes. Kyle has never told his mother what he was doing for the decade he spent in Romania in deep cover.)

Sharin introduces Nicholas as “Your cousin Zar’s son. You know—the one who went to Romania?” Her tone puts a slight emphasis on cousin Zar—not enough to raise Nicholas’s suspicions but enough to convey to Kyle that she knows something is hinky. In fact, there were two ‘cousin Zars’. The one in America died in childhood. The one in Romania is an old man. Neither was of an age to have Nicholas as a son.

Upon seeing Nicholas, Kyle’s eyes widen a little—but he keeps his COOL and goes to greet the boy. Cat also keeps her COOL, but immediately offers to go buy some liquor “to celebrate this happy occasion.” She leaves. While on the road, she calls Allison to join her.

Kyle asks Nicholas what brings him to Jamaica. Nicholas explains that his mother died a couple of months ago. The estate trustees informed him that Mom had spent pretty much all the family money, and so in order to keep the family mansion, they are now renting it out—doing museum tours and the like as well. Nicholas has a modest allowance from the rental fees, but that’s it.

Kyle is surprised. He thought the family had a lot of money.

Nicholas tells him that his Mom had a gift for spending money, jet-setting around the globe, especially after Grandpa died a few years back. Nicholas came here because he’d seen the media coverage of the rescuers of the Timbuktu Twelve—and recognized the name Vaduva as a family name. And hey—living in a Disney resort in Jamaica? That sounded awesome. So here he came, and Aunt Sharin is being so nice to him.

Nicholas has told Sharin all about that scumbag father of his—a womanizer and shady art dealer, likely a thief and smuggler. It seems that Mom kept a scrapbook of Zar’s escapades with the fairer sex, and look, here’s a picture of him with a teenager! (GM Note: that would be Dominique, one of Cat’s identities in the Romanian adventure.)

Cat returns with champagne, Scotch and Allison. She pours herself and Kyle a triple Scotch on the rocks. Sharin takes note, Cat isn’t much of a drinker and then it’s usually wine or beer unless she is disturbed by something. Kyle introduces Cat as his girlfriend, but the teenager didn’t quite hear that or was distracted by Cat’s beauty—and smiles engagingly at her. “Are you busy tomorrow afternoon?”

(GM Note: Acorn falling close to the Oak tree, here.)

He then realizes what Kyle had said and apologizes to his cousin for hitting on his girlfriend.

Nip, who lives here with Sharin, joins the group. Nicholas asks her for a date the following afternoon. Nip accepts in a way that makes it clear her interest in her cousin is merely platonic.

Nicholas exerts his charms on Allison, who plays along. She and Nicholas spend much of the evening flirting. Nicholas asks Allison to join him and Nip tomorrow—and since he is both charming and attractive (ATTR 8 and rolled well on his Seduction skill), she accepts. Allison seizes this opportunity to pick Nicholas’ pocket—but the young man is not fooled. He detects this attempt and makes light of it, removing his wallet from Allison’s fingers and kidding her. Later, Nip warns her cousin Nicholas that Allison is a tease and a kleptomaniac, but aside from that, a nice person. Nicholas replies that Allison is hot; whatever comes with the package is okay by him.

Also present at the dinner is a woman roughly Sharin’s age, whom she introduces as Beryl Montcliffe, her new Bingo buddy and friend. Beryl seems a bit nervous around Kyle, and she also seems pretty nosy. She asks a lot of questions. Cat resolves to have Beryl checked out as soon as convenient.


Over the ensuing weeks…

Nicholas continues to live in Sharin’s house; he pays her a modest rent.

Kyle and Cat discuss the situation—realizing Mom certainly suspects the truth: that Nicholas is her grandson. Cat mentions that Sharin keeps asking her how the lovers met.

Kyle worries that Sharin might mention that his ‘Uncle Zar’ died here as a child. At which point, Nicholas would certainly wonder, “If that’s the case, then who’s my daddy?” And, since Nicholas came over here on his own passport, that would have alerted the CIA and other agencies to the youngster’s movements, and possibly to the Zar, who’s dead. Worst case scenario, a shit storm could fall on their heads over this. The pair decides this means that Sharin knows the truth, and didn’t say anything.

Cat observes that Nicholas is Sharin’s only grandchild, yes? Kyle asks if she wants to come with him to talk with his mom.

Cat’s mouth opens, and no words come out. Then, “What am I going to say?”

They double check Zar’s fabricated identity, and all seems solid on that account. They procrastinate on going to talk with Mom, and Sharin doesn’t bring up the issue with them either.


Sunday, 26 March 2045, Port Royal, Jamaica:

Pieter Vanderwyk calls Kyle to arrange a meeting. He tells the former spy that his brother Joost, the owner of Vanderwyk Mining Co., is interested in discussing a possible job with them. He himself is here in Jamaica to talk with the Disney Corporation about a possible theme park site in West Australia. Pieter wants to set up a meeting in VR with his brother. It’s already tomorrow morning in Perth. Pieter is recommending the Team to his brother because he saw the media coverage of the ‘Timbuktu Twelve’ rescue, and thought to himself, “Now here’s a group that’s immune to local corruption.”

Kyle calls the Team together, Cat arranges a VR meeting place, and they all get together. Pieter introduces his brother Joost, then leaves. Present for the Team are William, Randy, Kyle, Cat and Nip.

Joost presents the job. He is sure that Ben Davies, the Labor Party Whip and the Minister of Trade and Industry, is corrupt and taking bribes—in particular from Joost’s rival, Rodney Stafford of Stafford Industries. He wants the Team to get evidence and expose Davies.

Joost explains that Vanderwyk Mining, his company, used to have the contract for supplying copper, zinc and brass to the government. But at the election that brought the Labor Party into office, his rival Stafford won the bid. William asks how the bidding is done. Joost replies they are closed bids, taking place after each election, since the winning party may decide to use different criteria for choosing its contracts.

Joost further says that he doesn’t care so much if he gets the contract or not. He simply wants a level playing field, that he despises cheaters. The mining CEO also says he doesn’t know where else to turn. He’s uneasy about going to a private detective in his own country, because any of them might be “in cahoots with” or sympathetic to the government.

The Aussie also explains that Ben Davies is not just the party Whip and Minister of Trade and Industry; he’s also the cousin of the West Australian Premier.

Joost also describes the recent political and economic landscape. For many decades, a coalition of the Liberal Party and National Party won the elections and governed the republic. The Liberal Party is so named for “economic liberalism” meaning conservatism. The National Party was founded to represent the interests of farmers and pastoralists.

In 2027, a scandal involving child labor, badly handled by the Liberals, horrified the populace and gave a narrow majority to the Labor Party (with 51% of the vote). The Greens party—founded on the principal of protecting the environment—had another 10%, giving the left-leaning parties a strong majority. Together, they began installing a significant social safety net and ecology-minded regulations. Taxes skyrocketed—so business leaders and the middle class were not pleased.

The pendulum swung. In 2032, the Westralian Progress Party won a majority, its outlook being economically libertarian and socially conservative. They began deregulating everything in sight. Financiers started bundling loans to businesses into a new form of investment. Requirements for credit worthiness were loosened. The idea of bundling was to create safe investments, but this backfired. It became impossible to tell which investments were sound and which were not.

By 2041, the economic landscape was in disarray. Interest rates rose, bankruptcies ensued, and a credit crunch followed. As businesses closed, unemployment skyrocketed. In 2041, the Labor Party again took the helm and began tightening regulations on all sectors of economic activity. This process is still ongoing at the present day.

Joost offers the Team a payment of 150,000 eb; fifty thousand in advance and another hundred thousand on completion.

Cat asks about transportation costs. Australia is a long way away—and distances there are huge. Joost agrees to foot the Team’s transport costs as well, offering to rent a private jet to get the Team “down under” and back, as well as reasonable transportation expenses once they have arrived in Perth. “But hotel costs would be your own,” the CEO says.

The Team then discusses the situation privately. Do they want to take on this mission?

Randy immediately points out that it’s not enough money. Cat agrees, but says they can negotiate. William has some questions he wants to ask. Including: What if they don’t find any evidence? Does Joost want them to manufacture some? The Team agrees they will not create or plant evidence that isn’t already there. Kyle also mentions that if Ben Davies IS corrupt, it’s likely to bring down the entire government since the Premier is his cousin.

William also wonders why the Vanderwyks are choosing the Team. Is it because the Team is high profile? Cat doesn’t think so. “It’s because we have no agenda,” she explains.

The Team then discusses whether to take the job—and what questions to ask. Returning to the meeting room in VR, William asks the questions. First, “What if we don’t find any evidence?”

Joost replies, “Well, then that would be the reality.”

Then, “How should we go about investigating? If it comes to breaking the law?”

Joost prefers that the Team not break any laws. “Not outright, anyway. Bending them a bit, sure, if it comes to that. We’re still a young country, a bit wild in our outlook. But keep it tame.”

William wonders further about the time frame. Joost thinks a couple of months should be adequate. If they haven’t found evidence by then, there probably isn’t any. But if they are hot on the trail of finding dirt at the two month mark, then a few days or weeks more would be in order.

William then asks about the other companies who bid on the contract. Joost names two other large firms.

William then suggests a higher fee: 200,000 eb if they are successful, plus a house (Cat adds: “on the beach”) and transportation costs. 100,000 eb if they fail to find any evidence.

Joost agrees. Kyle then asks “Where’s the smoke?” meaning what sorts of bread crumbs does Joost have as a starting point. Joost tells the Team about a recent hire who used to work for Stafford Industries (Frank Dooley), a contact in Davies’ office (Eloise Gundish), and a reporter (Janie Phipps) who has been sniffing around for information about corruption in the Ministry.

The meeting ends. The Team then begins to discuss methodologies. Should they go in openly as themselves? Or covertly? The issue is raised of what to say when going through customs—whether they are there for business or pleasure.

Kyle again points out that if they are successful, this will take down the West Australian government. William asks, tongue in cheek, and “Is that business or pleasure?”

Nip pipes up, “Can it be both?”

Cat mentions that when their passports go through that gate, there will be a huge “ding, ding, ding” in many countries around the world. And, “If we don’t go in as ourselves, we don’t have corporate immunity. We could get into trouble, get arrested for espionage. If we’re investigating corruption, that’s not spying on the government.”

Someone raises the question of a cover story. Should the Team go in as Disney looking for a theme park opportunity? Especially since Pieter was here looking into that? A phone call to a Disney executive puts the kabosh on that idea. So, the Team will go there claiming to be on vacation. Such a claim cannot be disproved, and probably will not be believed.

They decide to leave on Tuesday, the 28th. That will give them all of Monday to make any last minute preparations.



Episode 31: A Cloak of Penguins


The Team plunges into much NET research on their targets and the folks surrounding them. Nip aids a stowaway on their plane to Perth. Upon arrival, the Team is greeted by two consular folks with amusing results. The Team settles into their rental house on the beach in a wealthy suburb of Perth.


About 12 years ago, the Westralian Progress Party (with libertarian leanings) won the elections following a scandal, and deregulated everything in sight. Lenders began “bundling” business loans into investment opportunities, and relaxing their loan requirements beyond recognition. As the questionable loans became due, businesses started to collapse and unemployment rose. Thus, 6 years ago, the Labor Party won power and has been re-regulating matters and fighting corruption ever since, or at least claiming to fight corruption. While petty skirmishes have been won, corruption apparently continues to flourish. And Joost Vanderwyk for one is sick of it.

Dramatis Personae

The client du jour:

Joost Vanderwyk, owner of Vanderwyk Mining Co. in West Australia, has hired the Team to “dig up the dirt” on Ben Davies, the Labor Party Whip and Minister of Trade and Industry in West Australia. Joost is convinced the man is taking bribes for awarding government contracts. Ben’s cousin, Thaddeus Brewer, is the Premier of West Australia.

The NPCs:

Beryl Montcliffe: Middle aged woman who is Sharin’s new Bingo Buddy and friend. She seems kind of nosy and asks a lot of questions. She also seems rather nervous around Kyle.

Bindi Davies: Sister of Ben Davies, she is a lesbian and energy healer who lives in Hobart, Tasmania.

Bunny Firth: Owner of Bunny Firth Catering. Stafford Mining wrote one or more checks to her that were deposited to a bank in Tasmania. The Team suspects she is involved in the transfer of bribery money from Rodney Stafford to Ben Davies. Bunny is married to Jason Firth, a prominent lawyer.

Charlie Montcliffe: Beryl’s son, a documentary film producer. The Team learns he has a gambling problem.

Eloise Gundish: An admin person at the Ministry. She has access to Ben’s schedule.

Frank Dooley: A former Stafford Industries employee who now works for Vanderwyk Mining. Back in high school, Frank was a whistleblower on the Debate Team teacher who was stealing significant renovation materials from the school.

Janie Phipps: A society reporter who approached Joost with questions about corruption.

Joost Vanderwyk: Owner of Vanderwyk Mining Co. They are one of the larger copper and zinc mines in West Australia. They also produce brass. Until a few years ago, they held the contract supplying the government with these substances.

Leonard Gleeson: Owner of a PR firm specializing in political campaigns, especially well known for sophisticated attack ads. Leonard did the advertising for Ben Davies’ first MP campaign, but not any subsequent ones. The Team suspects he has received bribery money destined for Ben Davies. The funds were deposited to a bank in Tasmania. Leonard is married to Jaylinn Flinders, an actress who is a close friend of Aidan Costigan, a famous sculptor.

Nicholas Vaduva: Zar’s (Kyle’s) 18-year-old son from our Romanian adventure.

Pieter Vanderwyk: Joost’s brother. Pieter is an MP in the National Assembly (lower house of the West Australian legislature), and a prominent member of the country’s Liberal Party.

Rodney Stafford: Owner of Stafford Industries. His firm received the contract for supplying copper and zinc to the government under what may be suspicious circumstances. The company wrote at least one check each on vague invoices payable to Bunny Firth Catering and Leonard Gleeson Associates. The checks were cashed at two different Tasmanian banks.

Sharin Vaduva: Kyle’s mom, now living at the Disney properties in Port Royal, Jamaica. When the Team is in Jamaica, Nip stays with her.

The Action

Monday, 27 March 2045:

Cat and Sharin organize a cookout at Sharin’s house. Kyle, Nicholas, Nip, Allison, Randy, and Zahra are there, as well as Sharin’s newly found Bingo Buddy, Beryl. During the cookout, Beryl seems to avoid Kyle. However, she comes up to Randy and asks a bunch of questions about his work at the Disney resort and his past experience, expressing interest in his military background. Beryl also asks Nip if the youngster has done anything interesting lately. Nip talks about Fred’s adventures in the NET and learning scuba diving. Nip also plays some video game with Nicholas, beating him easily.

Nip also asks Randy about his job guarding the crocodile population on the Disney property. Nip wants to hunt them. Randy tells her that would be breaking the law. He would have to shoot her, so she really shouldn’t do that.

The ulterior purpose of the cookout, however, is to collect Beryl’s fingerprints and DNA, which is easily achieved. Beryl is not a suspicious sort.

(GM note: Neither is she coated from head to toe in synthskin nor does she chew gum any time someone might be stalking her for DNA … like another person in the party.)

Kyle also learns that Beryl drove over. Whereupon he proceeds to bug her car while Cat bugs her phone. They track Beryl’s movements when she leaves and learn that this Bingo Buddy lives in a modest town house in the Disney community. There is no activity on her phone—at least, nothing related to Kyle or the Team.

After the others leave, Kyle and Cat have a sit-down talk with Sharin. They first check the house for bugs and set up jammers. Cat cooks dinner, and Sharin supplies some dessert. Kyle confesses that Nicholas is really his son and Sharin’s grandson. Sharin is not surprised to hear this. She tells Kyle she thought that might be the case. Kyle explains she cannot say anything. It would put everyone’s lives at risk. There are bad people back in Romania who, if they found out that Zar was not dead, would come and kill the whole family. Sharin should tell her sister Tyne Lacey and swear her to secrecy as well. It looks like the identity that the C.I.A. set up for Zar is still holding, but if people were to look into it, that activity could itself invite suspicion.

Sharin thanks Kyle for letting her know the truth. She had been feeling miffed about being left in the dark, commenting, “I really hate being lied to, especially by the people I love.”

Kyle explains why it was necessary, and Sharin says she understands. Kyle also tells his mom that they are going out of town for a while, and they can’t say where.

Cat also gets a list of people from the Vanderwyks who would be helpful in land acquisition, including society people they can invite to the house in Perth this coming Friday, March 31st. Pieter Vanderwyks’s wife Nicole nee Stirling, who is a descendant of the very first families who settled Fremantle, offers to handle the invitations. She points out that an invite from her will pull in all the important people Cat wants to have present.

Kyle also asks Joost to start a rumor that the Team is coming to scout out possible locations for a Disney theme park in West Australia, a rumor they plan to deny (and not be believed).

Randy assembles his full combat gear to take with. Others also gather the gear they anticipate needing.

That evening, the NET runs begin. Kyle looks into Bunny Firth and her catering biz, Nip tackles Stafford Industries, while Cat investigates Leonard Gleeson Associates. They learn …

Bunny Firth Catering is a high end catering company specializing in society weddings and expensive social events, including campaign fundraisers. Bunny attended the Cordon Blu School in Paris and founded her business about 12 years ago. She is married to Jason Firth, a prominent and successful lawyer. Her older sister Louise, aka Loola, is married to Gene Jing-Bao Yao, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry.

Leonard Gleeson and Associates is a PR firm specializing in political campaigns, especially for the Labor Party. They are especially well known for their sophisticated attack ads, although they also do warm and fuzzy ones. Leonard did the advertising for Ben Davies’ first MP campaign, but not any of his subsequent ones. Leonard is married to Jaylinn Flinders, a 32 year old actress, who is a close friend of Aidan Costigan, a famous sculptor.

Rodney Stafford succeeded his father as owner of Stafford Industries in 2039. The company mines and processes copper and zinc ores. They do mine some other metals as well, but not in significant quantities. Rodney is 52 years old and attended Oxford University, where he took five years to get his bachelor’s degree. He worked at Stafford Mining for several years in a variety of capacities before earning an MBA from the University of Western Australia in 2026. Rodney is married to Maxine Whittaker; the Whittakers are a rich and prominent family in Perth, including an MP in the National Party, Farrell Whittaker.


Tuesday, 28 March 2045:

The Team flies towards Perth via Santiago, Chile and Wellington, New Zealand. While on the plane, they do more NET research.

Cat sets her sights on the mission’s main target: Ben Davies. She learns that he comes from a mining family in Geraldton, a coastal town of 45,000 north of Perth. While Ben’s father was ambitious for his sons and sent both to the University of Western Australia in Perth, Ben’s younger brother dropped out and returned to Geraldton and the mines. The middle child, Bindi, became an energy healer and moved to Tasmania. Ben majored in political science and then earned a law degree. He ran for office in the local legislature a few years later, and has been a rising star in Labor Party politics ever since. He is currently not only the Minister of Trade and Industry, but also the Party Whip—a position responsible for “getting out the vote” on legislation before the Parliament. Ben and the Premier are cousins—their mothers are sisters. Cat also learns an intriguing bit of gossip. Ben’s wife Lorraine nee Bransby has a lover, Aidan Costigan, the sculptor, who appears to be her “boy toy” as he is 12 years her junior. The Bransby family is rich and politically powerful.

Cat also observes: Despite Ben’s declared “war on corruption” and apparent attempts to quash it, corruption at high levels continues to flourish.

Kyle investigates both Eloise Gundish, the admin person at the Ministry, and Janie Phipps, the society reporter who approached Joost with questions about corruption.

Janie is from the gold rush town of Kalgoorlie, the daughter of a merchant whose forebears founded a trading post during the boom times. Eloise grew up in Esperance, a town on the southern coast that is a major shipping route for all the mining towns connected there by railroad. Her possible motives for aiding folks investigating her employers remain unclear.

Nip, meanwhile, is tasked with finding tracts of land the Team can be interested in purchasing, and finds several that are ideal for their cover story.

William, meanwhile, looks into Beryl’s son Charlie. The young man turns out to be a documentary film producer who has won a few minor awards. Right now, he is screening a documentary about Trash in the EU, done six months ago. There’s a showing Thursday at Perth’s International Arts Festival. Charlie also seems to be a bit of a gambler. He has been a frequent flier to Las Vegas, then the trips changed to a destination of Reno, and lately he’s gone to Atlantic City. William asks his contacts to investigate further.


Wednesday, 29 March 2045:

When the plane lands in Wellington, Cat warns Kyle and William that ‘her people’ are literalists. “Be very careful of exactly what you say when you ask them to do something.” She takes Beryl’s DNA and fingerprints to her contacts among the Nietzscheans and asks them to investigate. Her contact asks if Cat wants them to interview Beryl. “No!” she tells them. “The woman sounds like a watcher, not an active threat.”

Cat also tells the Nietzscheans about Gregory Michaels, Smoke, the Crackler, and everything she has learned about this group, and asks them to see what information they can dig up. She says the group may be monitoring her phone, so the Nietzscheans should be careful what they say to her on the phone.

The plane then heads for Perth. As it descends for a landing, a food cart comes loose from its moorings, rolls across an aisle and bumps into a bulkhead. “Ouch!” emerges from its innards.

“What’s that!” several people exclaim.

“Nothing!” Nip sings out. “I’ve got this.” She leaps out of her seat to rescue the cart, but Cat kicks at this large crate on wheels. Nip tries to stop it from turning over, but Cat is faster and prevails. Nip holds onto the cart for dear life, and the cart turns over on top of her. A muffled THUD is heard from inside the container.

The Captain’s voice comes over the intercom. “Please fasten your seat belts and prepare for landing.”

Cat declares, “Hand me a gun,” and pulls one from her luggage.

Kyle observes, “Safety’s off,” and draws his own weapon.

Zahra tries to stop them. “It’s probably not wise to shoot before you find out what’s inside.”

Cat opens the lid. Nicholas’ voice emerges. “Thank God! I really need to pee.”

Nip says, “I gave you a bottle!”

Cat shuts the lid and locks it.

Nicholas protests. His situation is urgent.

Kyle tells his teammates to let his cousin out of the food cart. Cat opens the lid again and yanks out the youngster with all her considerable strength. Nicholas scurries, hunched over, towards the back of the plane and its toilet compartments.

Kyle glares at Nip. “You snuck him onto the plane?”

Nip ducks her head like a turtle trying to hide under its shell. “He was so eager to join us. I’m really sorry, Uncle Kyle.”

Kyle is not mollified. “If you weren’t family, and if HE wasn’t family, you wouldn’t be landing. I would throw you out the door myself.”

Nip squeeks, “EEP!”

Randy observes, “This is why we shouldn’t bring kids along.”

Nicholas, who has returned from The Head, tells Kyle, “I’m sure I can be helpful on this mission. It sounds really interesting. Political shit.”

Political doesn’t begin to cover it.” Kyle runs a bug detector over Nicholas, finds none. The burned spy then turns to Nip. “How much did you tell him?”

“Not much,” Nip claims.

“Really, she didn’t,” offers Nicholas.

William wants to know, “When did you fill him in on this?”

“I was careful,” Nip states. “Made sure no one was listening.”

“Was Beryl around?” William inquires.

“No, it was after she left,” Nip assured him.

William turns to Kyle. “Can I talk with you?”

“Later,” Kyle tells him. “I’m really mad right now.”

The plane soon lands in Perth and taxies up to customs where people from two consulates are waiting for them.

An American cultural attaché who might be/probably is C.I.A. wants to talk with William, asking what he is here for. William claims to be here on vacation, and then launches into a convoluted speech about tourist dollars and getting the best bang for the buck. When the attaché says that sounds really interesting and is there any way he can help, William gets a gleeful smile on his face and asks for his phone number. “Can I call you any time?” he asks eagerly. “Any hour of the day or night?” In parting, William gives him a big hug and pats him on the back as if planting a bug on him. After the man has left the room, William remarks with a pleased smile, “That should ensure he says away from me!”

(GM note: Indeed it will! The man was definitely off his game as he left.)

Doc Freeman’s turn is next. The attaché introduces himself and asks what the scientist is doing here in Western Australia. The Doc gives the standard answer. He’s here on vacation. The two exchange cards and phone numbers.

The embassy functionary then wants to talk with Randy, asking about the exploits of the “Timbuktu Twelve rescuers”. He probes gently for information about their reason for coming to Western Australia. Randy claims they are there on vacation, as per the plan, emphasizing “a quiet vacation.” The attaché tells Randy he is glad to meet the great man’s grandson. Once again, they exchange phone numbers.

An MI5 person is there to greet Kyle. He introduces himself as the trade attaché, and asks about Kyle’s visit to West Australia. “Is this business or pleasure or …” and he pauses, giving Kyle the opportunity to tell him what sort of mission he’s on. With a totally straight face and not pausing a beat, Kyle tells him he is here to learn about penguin breeding programs. He knows there are several species in the area, some of them endangered.

(GM note: This completely broke me up. It was a good few minutes before the trade attaché could continue!)

“Penguin breeding.” The trade attaché nods sagely. “Yes, well, we do have some nature reserves here protecting their habitat. I can put you in touch with them.”

Kyle thanks him and provides his phone number.

The trade attaché asks about the other people in Kyle’s party. He introduces them as his girlfriend Cat, niece Nip, nephew Nicholas—a family venture. Plus his bodyguards Randy and Zahra, friend William, and Doc Freeman who is here to take care of the penguins.

The trade attaché observes that Nicholas is not on the passenger list. Kyle assures him, “He was a last minute addition.”

The consulate people leave, releasing our Team to go to the house Joost rented for them. It turns out to be twice as large as its neighbors in an exclusive section of Cottesloe, a rich suburb of Perth on the northern shore. It sits on Marine Parade, a two-lane road that parallels the coast. On the other side of this road stretches a sandy beach about 80 feet wide. The building boasts nine bedrooms as well as eight full and one half baths. The mansion also has an exercise room, hobby room, tech room, game room and reading nook, a billiards room and media room in addition to the more usual living room, family room, dining room, study, and office. The foyer has a double curved staircase between the two floors as well as an elevator. The kitchen has a breakfast nook that curves out into the back yard patio, as does a music nook off the living room. Including an outdoor pool, the building fills the entire end of the block.

The Team settles in, exploring the mansion and pulling out their bug detectors. The master suite of course goes to Cat and Kyle. The others swiftly divvy up the remaining bedrooms. Cat takes Cerberus, the cyberized family dog, on a tour of the layout. Nip optimizes the cameras. She and Randy set up the remote monitors in the Tech room. Cat double checks the electronics. Kyle, William and Randy inspect the physical property.

Nip does some Library Research on party supplies and gets tickets to Charlie’s documentary on Garbage in the EU. Cat also shows Nicholas how to shoot an Enfield SMG. With his short stint of military training, he does know his way around a rifle. Nip lends him her paintball rifle with the sleep drug ammo.

That night, Cat sleeps with a knife under her pillow.

(GM note: No need of that in this game session. The GM had not yet researched and found the floor plan! Next time, however … <evil chuckle>)


Thursday, 30 March 2045:

Kyle builds a disguise to go meet with Eloise. His persona is John David Andrews, a vacationing American. (GM note: He rolls really well on both Disguise and Forgery for the corresponding passport.)

Eloise leaves the Ministry for lunch, going to a nearby café. Kyle joins her and chats her up, revealing he is a friend of Joost, and he understands she has information about the Minister, Ben Davies. She says yes, she knows Ben’s schedule. He’s going to Tasmania to visit his sister Bindi next Wednesday, and will return on Friday. She doesn’t really have access to much sensitive information.

Kyle flirts with her, but she maintains her distance. She claims she is helping Joost because the Ministry is not cracking down on bunny rabbits being used to test cosmetics. “It’s outrageous.”

Cat goes shopping for food.

Nip does NET research on Frank Dooley, the former Stafford Industries employee who now works for Vanderwyk Mining. She learns that he spent ten years working for Stafford Industries as an accountant, gaining two promotions. Three months ago, he came to work for Vanderwyk as the assistant to the Comptroller. Frank is now attending MBA classes at night. His wife is active in the Westralian Progress Party (the free-market libertarians and anti-socialist party), which is where she and Frank met. Since starting work on his MBA two years ago, Frank has not been politically active.

More revealing of his character, though, Nip finds that while Frank was in high school, he discovered that the teacher in charge of the Debate Society—who was overseeing the refurbishing of the school’s auditorium—was ordering expensive (and “extra”) materials for the new auditorium but then taking the “surplus” home after the construction. A report by the school’s paper named Frank as the whistleblower source, but his name did not appear in any other stories about the ensuing scandal. The school’s principal was fired along with the Debate Society teacher. Several members of the school committee also were replaced at the next election.


Episode 32: Parties and Crashers


Cat and Kyle handle a home invasion at nine-to-two odds—dressed mostly in T-shirts and cutoff jeans. Nip does tons of NET research (as do Cat and Kyle). The Team throws a party attended by society bigwigs. Some useful information is gleaned from overheard snippets of conversation. Society reporter Janie Phipps interviews Doc Freeman about his cyberbrain. She and Kyle discuss corruption and collaboration in bringing it down. William projects “wealthy hotelier” and flirts with a red-headed actress. Randy hits on the same actress.


Six years ago, the Labor Party won power and has been re-regulating commerce and industry, and fighting corruption, or at least claiming to fight corruption. While petty skirmishes have been won, bribery and questionable contract awards apparently continue to flourish. Joost Vanderwyk for one is sick of it. He wants a level playing field, and has hired the Team to Do Something About It.

Dramatis Personae

The NPCs:

Aiden Costigan: Famous sculptor, friend of Jaylinn Flinders (Leonard Gleeson’s wife), and lover of Lorraine (Bransby) Davis (wife of Ben Davies).

Barry Gelder: A money launderer whom Kyle assisted back in Atlantic City. He owes Kyle a favor that Kyle has never collected.

Ben Davies: Minister of Trade and Industry in Western Australia, and the Labor Party Whip. He is also the cousin of the country’s Premier, Thadeus Brewer.

Beryl Montcliffe: Middle aged woman who is Sharin’s new Bingo Buddy and friend. She seems kind of nosy and asks a lot of questions. She also seems rather nervous around Kyle.

Bindi Davies: Sister of Ben Davies, she is a lesbian and energy healer who lives in Hobart, Tasmania.

Bunny Firth: Owner of Bunny Firth Catering. Stafford Mining wrote one or more checks to her that were deposited to a bank in Tasmania. The Team suspects she is involved in the transfer of bribery money from Rodney Stafford to Ben Davies. Bunny is married to Jason Firth, a prominent lawyer.

Charlie Montcliffe: Beryl’s son, a documentary film producer. The Team learns he has a gambling problem.

Frank Dooley: A former Stafford Industries employee who now works for Vanderwyk Mining. Back in high school, Frank was a whistleblower on the Debate Team teacher who was stealing significant renovation materials from the school.

Gene Jing-Bao Yao: Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry in Western Australia, and personal friend of Ben Davies.

Janie Phipps: A society reporter who approached Joost with questions about corruption.

Joost Vanderwyk: Owner of Vanderwyk Mining Co. They are one of the larger copper and zinc mines in West Australia. They also produce brass. Until a few years ago, they held the contract supplying the government with these substances.

Leonard Gleeson: Owner of a PR firm specializing in political campaigns, especially well known for sophisticated attack ads. Leonard did the advertising for Ben Davies’ first MP campaign, but not any subsequent ones. The Team suspects he has received bribery money destined for Ben Davies. The funds were deposited to a bank in Tasmania. Leonard is married to Jaylinn Flinders, an actress who is a close friend of Aidan Costigan, a famous sculptor.

Nicholas Vaduva: Zar’s (Kyle’s) 18-year-old son from our Romanian adventure.

Pieter Vanderwyk: Joost’s brother. Pieter is an MP in the National Assembly (lower house of the West Australian legislature), and a prominent member of the country’s Liberal Party.

Rodney Stafford: Owner of Stafford Industries. His firm received the contract for supplying copper and zinc to the government under what may be suspicious circumstances. The company wrote at least one check each on vague invoices payable to Bunny Firth Catering and Leonard Gleeson Associates. The checks were cashed at two different Tasmanian banks.

Sharin Vaduva: Kyle’s mom. She now lives near the Disney compound in Port Royal, Jamaica. Nip lives with her when the Team is in Jamaica.

Thadeus Brewer: the Premier of Western Australia and a cousin (on their mothers’ side) of the Team’s target, Ben Davies.

The Action

Friday, 31 March 2045:

That morning, Kyle gets two phone calls. The first is from Margo Ecclestone, manager of the Fairy Penguin Rookery Preserve at the North and South Twin Peak Islands. Would Kyle like a tour of their facility? He expresses some enthusiasm and says he will call her back when his plans have firmed up.

The second call is from Ethel Mather, owner of the Golden Rookery Breeding program of yellow-eyed penguins in Penguin, Tasmania. She is trying to ensure the survival of the yellow-eyed penguins, of which there are only 1500 breeding pairs in New Zealand. “We’re just keep pace with death rate. Would you like to come visit? Become an investor? Start your own breeding program?” Kyle again expresses interest.

Later that morning, William learns that Charlie, Beryl’s son, is a bit of a gambler. He has been a frequent flier to Las Vegas, but then the destination changed to Reno, and lately it’s been Atlantic City. William gets in touch with his contacts, and learns that Charlie was in debt to Joe Mangini, a Vegas loan shark and general behind-the-scenes casino guy who has connections in both Night City and the New York mob. Joe lends money
at a high interest rate to gamblers in Las Vegas who are down on their luck, then uses muscle to enforce and collect. But recently, the debt to Joe was paid off. (Rather than someone buying Charlie’s markers.)

Early that afternoon, Doc Freeman, William, Zahra, Allison and Nicholas go to the Perth offices of Vanderwyck Mining to talk about “a possible land purchase”. The real purpose of the visit is to talk with Frank Dooley about Stafford Industries, and to ask Joost about arranging a private plane to take the Team to and from Tasmania next week. Joost says the plane is not a problem.

Frank is happy to meet with the Team. He says he noticed the vaguely-worded invoices from Bunny Firth Catering and Leonard Gleeson Associates when his boss was out sick for more than a week and he had to fill in. He paid them, but wondered. So he also looked at the checks when they returned—that’s how he found out which banks the payments were deposited in. He found several other invoices and payments as well, their dates surrounding the contract award. The funds came to a total of 240,000 euros.

Frank’s boss never found out about this investigation, but Frank simply decided to change jobs. The morale at Stafford Industries was not good. Rodney hated to pay people well, so he gave raises and promotions only reluctantly and often told people they could be replaced with “two interns”.

Meanwhile, Kyle, Cat, and Nip stay at the beach house to do some NET research. Randy sits in the second floor “tech room” watching the camera monitors around the house. The other three Team members are exploring in the NET when Randy notices three trios of armed men approaching the house simultaneously. One group heads for the front door. Another comes down the walkway to the rear door. The third moves from the beach side around the master bedroom to the patio doorway into the house. Randy immediately pulls Cat, Kyle and Nip out of the NET.

Beach-house-floor-1Nip starts putting on her “fighty clothes”, with the further intention of taking her sleep-drug-ammo’ed paintball rifle to the fight.

Cat pulls her Mustang Arms Mark II and C.A. Bulldog revolver (her normal carry weapons) and steps to the doorway of the master suite where she can easily see the glass door entrance from the patio. Kyle goes into his gear to get his Sternmeyer CG-13 assault rifle to back her up. Both are minimally dressed in T-shirts—Cat with cutoff jeans and Kyle with ordinary jeans. Neither have protective headgear. If they don’t get the drop on their opponents, they could get seriously hurt!


Randy announces his intention of coming to the upstairs balcony where he can fire at anyone coming through the front entrance—but Cat nixes this idea. “We need you at the monitors, telling us where the people are. Otherwise, we’re fighting blind.”

As the ‘patio three’ come through the door, they raise their pistols to the ready and start to look around, Cat lets loose with a lethal barrage. In seconds, all three are dead from aimed shots to the head.

(GM note: Cat picked her hiding place well with a Stealth Roll of 50! And as usual, her Initiative Roll was also impressive. These goons didn’t stand a chance.)

By now, Kyle has his rifle ready and relieves Cat covering the back hall. She goes to her gear pack and pulls her matched pair of Enfield Spitfire handguns (doubletaps).

Randy lets the Team know that the front door invaders have entered and are taking positions inside: one in the study, one in the dining room, and the last behind the foyer staircase, all three facing the living room. The rear door intruders have also reached their target and entered the family room.

Cat now runs on bare, silent feet through the master suite’s bathroom and sneaks up behind the brigand in the study. Kyle steps over the dead gunmen at the patio door and takes his position just above the northwest corner of the living room. From here, he can see the men approaching through the family room—through the rows of windows in the music nook, breakfast nook, and family room.

Cat takes aim at the intruder in the study, and blows his brains out. She then targets the man in the dining room who is starting to swing his weapon towards her—and brain-buckets him as well. The marauder in the foyer brings his pistol to bear on the northern entrance to the study, but Cat was never in his line of sight. Kyle steps out and the thug on the stairs turns back to fire, but only wounds him slightly. The CG-13’s return fire shreds the attacker.

By now, the trio coming through the family room has figured out that something is deeply wrong. They have heard the shots and realize that none of their own team has fired. They charge into the kitchen and take cover behind the island beside the breakfast nook. Randy reports their positions.

Kyle moves across the northern end of the living room and lays down suppressive fire with several three round bursts from his assault into the kitchen area. Randy sees one of the miscreants dive behind the other island, while another crouches behind the fridge next to the walkway to the living room. Randy informs the Team of these movements.

Cat sneaks through the dining room to the butler pantry until she can see the shooter behind the first island. She targets his right arm—and cripples it. He drops his weapon and screams in agony—as she blasts out his left arm as well. Cat shouts, “All your friends are dead. Surrender now and we won’t kill you.”

The raiders are not fools. They thought they were pretty tough, but clearly are outclassed. They call out their compliance and toss down their weapons.

Cat bandages the intruder’s crippled arms so the man will not bleed to death and might—with the help of some bone glue—regain the use of his arms without resorting to cyber limbs. Kyle questions the two other bandits, who fall over themselves in cooperating fully. It seems that a local fixer, Jimmie Railes, sent the men here to retrieve “a little black book”.

Cat hopes these two “realize you’ve stepped into a shit pile here?” They nod vociferously.

Kyle asks if the invaders had the name of their target? No, they didn’t. Kyle then suggests they call Jimmie and report the situation. Nip traces and taps the call.

Once the report is made, Kyle takes the phone and says “Hi. This is Kyle Vaduva. I suggest you research the name.” He goes on to tell Jimmie the exact location the fixer is at (courtesy of Nip’s trace) and adds, “Clearly your men made a mistake. The name on our mailbox is ‘Freeman’. Who did your men come here to see?”

The voice on the other end oozes apologies. He says the target was a certain Dicky Pryor. And, since Kyle has so easily disposed of the men he sent, perhaps Jimmie could hire Team Vaduva to find Dicky?

Kyle brushes this off. “Of course, if you can meet our price? Do some research and you will find out what that is.” (GM Note: The Team’s minimum is 100,000 eb. Yes, they don’t work a lot, but they are well paid when they do.)

Cat calls Doc Freeman to return to the house and remove all the bullets from the kitchen and the corpses. The two able-bodied thugs cart the bodies into the vehicles they drove here in, then leave with their injured teammate.

Cat thanks Randy for staying by his post. “We would have been in serious danger without your input.”

(GM note: Apparently, the thick walls of this mansion sufficiently dampened the noise that none of the neighbors heard the gunfire—or thought it anything more than vid noise. In truth, the GM goofed up here, but oh well.)

They clean up the mess as best they can so at least they can have their party that night without explaining all the blood stains. Cat calls her Nietzchean allies for full forensic cleanup services later.

This frees Cat, Kyle and Nip to return to their NET research.

Targeting Gene Jing-Bao Yao, who is the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Kyle learns that he and Ben Davies were buddies when they attended the University of Western Australia Law School in overlapping years. Together, they pulled a prank moving a weathervane from the top of a building to a sundial in a sunken garden. After law school, however, Gene mostly pursued a career in the private sector, working first for his MP as a legal aide, then going to work for Alcoa after losing an election. Kyle also discovers that Gene got into trouble in high school; he was suspended for obtaining and selling copies of the final exam in mathematics. However, he was reinstated and graduated at the top of his class. Gene’s wife, Loola nee Louise Diggins, is the sister of Bunny Firth (nee Barbara Diggins).

Meanwhile, Cat looks into Ben Davies’ sister Bindi, who is an energy healer and activist on gay and lesbian rights. She moved to Hobart, Tasmania because it is gay-friendly. She does not seem to have a lover at the current time.

Nip explores information on Aiden Costigan, a sculptor, friend of Jaylinn Flinders (Leonard Gleeson’s wife) and lover of Lorraine (Bransby) Davis (wife of Ben Davies). The artist was born into a wealthy, uppercrust family, attended the Sorbonne but did not graduate. He came back to Perth, and soon became both financially successful and famous. His sculptures are commissioned by a variety of architects for their new buildings. He met Jaylinn Flinders (an actress) before she was married. The two hung out in the same “artsy” crowd. He met Lorraine Bransby Davies after he became famous and the wealthy crowd started inviting him to parties. Aiden has had affairs with many women. He is also rumored to be bisexual, but if so, he seems to be thoroughly in the closet.

That night, many people come to the party, apparently curious to meet Doc Freeman in the flesh. Pieter’s wife Nicole Nee Stirling sent out the invitations—her family is descended from the first settlers in Perth and are prominent members of the upper crust—so the party is well attended by society folks. Among the guests are Pieter Vanderwyk and his wife Nicole and their two daughters Daphne and Vanessa. Nicholas takes a shine to the older, Daphne, who is seventeen. Joost Vanderwyk and his wife Serina are there as well, along with many “persons of intererest” for the Team: Gene Jing-Bao Yao and his wife Loola, Bunny Diggins Firth and her husband Jason, Leonard Gleeson and his wife Jaylinn, plus sculptor Aidan Costigan and a trio of gorgeous actresses.

Randy and William soon hit on one of the actresses, a redhead, both flirting intensely with her. She flirts back. Randy succeeds in getting her phone number, or at least a phone number.

(GM note: He hasn’t yet tried to call.)

While mingling among the guests, Cat overhears Bunny and Leonard in a conversation with others about computers. Neither trusts their important information to machines that are connected to the NET. Bunny is appalled at the thought of her proprietary recipes being stolen, while Leonard has similar concerns about the details of his political campaigns. “What rivals wouldn’t do to get their hands on advance knowledge!”

William and Nip also overhear interesting tidbits. Bunny has a friend, Debbie Smith Woodraff, who was a partner in her catering business at its beginning but has since married and moved to Tasmania. Leonard stays in touch with a former employee and protégé, Mark Woodraff, who moved to Hobart, Tasmania and started his own PR firm.

Aside from these “secondary gains”, however, the main event has been going on behind closed doors. Janie Phipps gets her exclusive interview with Doc Freeman, who waxes both technical and poetic about his invention of a cybernetic brain. She asks him how he came up with the idea of creating a cybernetic brain. He tells her about the moment when a colleague said he was just postponing the inevitable: Everyone dies. So Doc decided to embark on research to defeat Death.

Janie asks who would be an ideal candidate for the brain. Doc tells her someone for whom death is imminent, but whose brain is still healthy. He praises his invention as a way to make space exploration more accessible, ensuring the survival of mankind. His brain both makes it easier to expand beyond the solar system, and you wouldn’t need to be wary of mankind being wiped out by disease. And of course, Doc is still in the process of improving the brain. For example, you can expand its memory capability.

Janie confronts him with reports that his research killed lots of people and asks if he has yet done a successful “transplant”. Doc says yes. Several folks have survived and are still alive. Of course, the organic brain does not survive the procedure. That’s why it needs to be a healthy brain to start with. The cyberbrain can be implanted in the patient’s organic or a new cyborg body.

Janie concludes her interview by wondering if Doc is truly transferring the essence of someone’s personality into the new brain. Doc is confident that his procedure does just that.

At this point, Kyle talks with Janie about her approach to Joost on the corruption issue. Janie asks for an exclusive on whatever Kyle and his Team find. In exchange, she will tell him everything she knows. Kyle agrees.

Janie tells Kyle about two other possible corruption situations. The government contract for aluminum went to Boddington Mine despite the two Alcoa mines being larger and having better ecosystem rehabilitation. Janie has talked with the admin to Tom Boddington, the company’s CFO, who is also the owner’s twin brother. The assistant believes something hinky went on, but has no proof. Tom had meetings with Ben Davies, but that would be fairly normal. What wasn’t normal was the package Tom left for the meeting with, but came back without. It could have been a large bundle of cash.

Secondly, the contract for coal went to Akhurst Coal, the new mine at Balladonia, despite the two Collie mines being more established (dating back to the 1890s). Erron Akhurst, the owner, has become an overnight millionnaire. Janie has talked with his niece, Maizie Akhurst, who claims that Erron is dirty. However, there is bad blood between Erron and his brother Seth, so this could be just a rumor. Janie has not been able to dig up confirming evidence.


Saturday, 1 April 2045:

This morning, Kyle and Cat contact Barry Gelder, their money launderer friend in Atlantic City, and ask what he can dig up about the two Tasmanian banks.

The Team also does more NET research. Of what they unearth, the potentially relevant bits are…

Jason Firth (husband of Bunny Firth) is a Liberal Party member (social and fiscal conservative), of middle class roots. He studied criminology as an undergraduate, then went to the University of Western Australia Law School, and graduated in 2027.

As for Lorraine nee Bransby Davies and the Bransby family generally, they are all Labor party.

Also, Frank Dooley’s wife Zinna is active in the Westralian Progress Party.

Meanwhile, William looks into hotels and resorts for sale in Hobart, Tasmania, and finds two. Belyando Waters is an unfinished casino near the waterfront. Construction was begun but stopped when it was about 80% completed. The project is in receivership with the National Australia bank, as of about 3 months ago. There’s also Grants, a high-rise luxury hotel also near the waterfront whose owner is rumored to have “financial embarrassments”.

Nicholas asks if he can stay behind in Perth. Daphne Vanderwyk has shown some interest, and he’d like to squire her around. Zahra volunteers to stay in Perth with him.

That evening, Barry reports to Kyle. The ‘big four’ Australian banks (National Australia, Commonwealth, Westpac and ANZ) all have branches throughout Tasmania. There are also a variety of more local banks and credit unions. Suncorp Group comprises general insurance, banking, life insurance, superannuation and investment brands in Australia and New Zealand. Both target banks—Commonwealth Bank and

Suncorp Bank, where the money was deposited for Bunny Firth Catering and Leonard Gleeson Associates—are ideal places through which to launder money. They are big. They don’t especially know or keep track of who their depositors are. And of course, their security is really tight. They would be tough nuts to crack.

Kyle and Cat book their penguin tour in Tasmania for Tuesday.


Sunday, 2 April 2045:

This morning, Cat delves into the NET for information on 54 year old Thadeus Brewer[i], the Premier of Western Australia, and a cousin of the Team’s target, Ben Davies. Thadeus grew up in Albany, a port city on the southern shore. With a population of 36,000, Albany is the 6th-largest city in Western Australia. His father was a fisherman, and was lost at sea when Thadeus was 12. His mother, Vangelina nee Stubbs, worked for the Stirling Wine Company in Albany. She is the sister of Ben Davies’ mother, Jaqueline nee Stubbs.

The family’s economic struggles may have led to Thadeus’ interest in economics, his undergraduate major. He also became interested in politics at an early age, becoming the president of his high school class, and was active in the Debate Society in college. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he went to work at the Albany Convict Gaol as a tour guide. He put himself through law school at night, and passed the bar exam at the age of 27.

Thadeus soon entered politics, winning a seat on the City Council, which he held for 6 years. He then turned his eyes toward the national scene, and was elected as MP for his district. In Perth, he made steady gains in power, and became Leader of the Opposition (ie, the Labor Party) in 2036. His knowledge of economics led him to predict the credit crisis and recession that overtook the country in 2040, and his eloquence helped the Labor Party win the national elections in 2041. The Labor Party ran basically on a two-pronged platform: reintroduce “common sense” regulation of banking and industry, and root out corruption. Despite the Party’s “war on corruption”, it continues to flourish.

The Team also looks deeper into the Stubbs family, but the only things of interest emerging are that they are an ambitous, working class family. Jaqueline is a member of the Green party, while Vangelina is National Party. No further personal or political connections appear to other “persons of interest” in this corruption investigation.

The last piece of today’s NET research focuses on the Whittakers, known to have National Party leanings. Maxine (Rodney Stafford’s wife) went to Yale University and majored in French Literature. She married Rodney when he was studying for his MBA. Farrell Whittaker is also National Party. About 5 years ago, rumors circulated that he was having an affair, but he denied it and his wife stood by him.




Episode 33: Penguin Protectors Foil Train Robbery


In the town of Penguin in Tasmania, Kyle meets a Wanted Person from Kyle’s past who has valuable information on Kyle’s burn notice. On the way back to Hobart, he, Cat and Randy also encounter some sophisticated train robbers. William, Doc Freeman and Allison follow their cover story of purchasing properties in Hobart. The Team prepares to follow Ben Davies around Hobart.

On the map below, “P” is the location of Penguin, “T” is where the train gets robbed, and “H” is the city of Hobart.



The Team has come to Western Australia to investigate Ben Davies’ connections to corruption that persists despite his party’s “War on Corruption”. Last time, some edgerunners invaded the Team’s beachfront home, looking for the previous occupant’s ‘little black book’. They totally were in the wrong place, wrong time, as the Team shredded them. Aside from that, the Team has been doing NET research on their leads on folks who seem to be connected to the corruption, and planning a trip to Hobart, Tasmania, to follow Ben Davies around. The Team also learned that Bunny Firth and Leonard Gleeson do not trust their secrets to their computers. It looks like a physical intrusion will be needed.

Dramatis Personae

The NPCs:

Ben Davies: Minister of Trade and Industry in Western Australia, and the Labor Party Whip. He is also the cousin of the country’s Premier, Thadeus Brewer.

Bunny Firth: Owner of Bunny Firth Catering. Stafford Mining wrote one or more checks to her that were deposited to a bank in Tasmania. The Team suspects she is involved in the transfer of bribery money to Ben Davies.

Janie Phipps: A society reporter who approached Joost with questions about corruption.

Joost Vanderwyk: Owner of Vanderwyk Mining Co. They are one of the larger copper and zinc mines in West Australia. They also produce brass. Until a few years ago, they held the contract supplying the government with these substances.

Lars McGregor: A PC from another campaign. Lars runs a nightclub in Union City, New Jersey, and also serves as their Chief Constable (in charge of the Mayor’s bodyguard). He is the major domo for Nikki, another PC from this other campaign, who is another member of the Consortium.

Leonard Gleeson: Owner of a PR firm specializing in political campaigns, especially well known for sophisticated attack ads. Leonard did the advertising for Ben Davies’ first MP campaign, but not any subsequent ones. The Team suspects he has received bribery money destined for Ben Davies. The funds were deposited to a bank in Tasmania.

Miles: Kyle’s former handler in Romania. After the Romanian campaign, Miles disappeared, taking Zar’s loot from Romania with him. The CIA wants to find Miles, suspecting that he is Up To No Good.

Nicholas Vaduva: Zar’s (Kyle’s) 18-year-old son from our Romanian adventure. Nicholas is unaware that Kyle is his father. He believes the man is his cousin.

The Action

Monday, April 3, 2045:

Nip, Cat and Kyle do two NET intrusions and some research on Dicky Pryor, the former occupant of their beach house.

First, Gleeson Associates. They find correspondence with a Mark Woodraff in Hobart, Tasmania. Mark was changing careers about 8 years ago, and was an entry-level person at Leonard Gleeson Associates after getting a Masters in Public Relations at UWA. He then went back to Hobart, where he now has his own PR firm, doing political work.

Second, Bunny Firth Catering. They find letters to and from Debbie Smith Woodraff in Hobart, Tasmania. The two women attended The Cordon Blu together in Paris, and Debbie was Bunny’s partner when Bunny founded Bunny Firth Catering. However, Debbie married Mark Woodraff several years back and went to Tasmania. The two remain close friends. Further NET research finds a Bunny Firth Catering in Hobart, with the same storefront address as Debbie Woodraff Catering. The Hobart Bunny Firth Catering is a dba of Debbie’s.

Third, they get information on Dicky Pryor, whom they learn is a real estate developer and magnate who owns a lot of commercial buildings around Perth. Newspaper coverage shows him to be a cigar-chomping, uncouth kind of guy who cares absolutely nothing for other people’s opinions. He is a loudmouthed, self-made person who likes to flaunt his money.

Dicky grew up in a tough neighborhood of Perth and dropped out of high school. He boasts of having gone to work for “Lucky Louie” the bookie, and breaking a few bones here and there. After that, he is reticent about the source of his income, until he started buying and “flipping” real estate at the age of 30. Since then, his fortune has skyrocketed. Dicky’s most recent girlfriend, Tammy Plunket, was a topless dancer until Dicky “found” her at The Boyz Club in downtown Fremantle. Tammy has recently been seen dancing at Les Girls Bold, a private “gentlemen’s club” on the border of the City Beach and Doubleview suburbs of Perth.

The Team decides to send Nicholas and Zahra to The Boyz Club and see if Dicky is there. Indeed, he is—and the Team calls Jimmi Rails with the news of Dicky’s whereabouts. Jimmi is appropriately grateful.

Cat buys a “puddle jumper” and arranges for its registration and delivery when they return from Tasmania. Cat also purchases updates for her programs.

Cat arranges with the Nietzchean Collective to thoroughly scrub the beachfront mansion forensically. She also checks to make sure they have all the equipment needed for their planned surveillance on Ben Davies.

That evening, everyone but Nicholas and Zahra leave on a private plane to Tasmania. When Kyle presents his passport on arrival at customs, the attendant cannot smother a smile. He gathers his fellow customs officials and points to the “mouse ears” on Kyle’s “Disney” passport. Grins and giggles ensue. Asked if his trip is for business or pleasure, Kyle murmurs something nondescript.

Once through customs, the Team splits up. The “penguin group” is flown to the north coast, while the rest continue into Hobart.


Tuesday, April 4, 2045:

Nip spends the day acquainting herself with the local NET in Hobart.

Doc Freeman, William and Allison pursue their cover story about buying properties in Hobart. They meet with Ricardo Montego, owner of the Belyando Waters Casino. The casino is in receivership with the National Australia Bank, and Ricardo is EAGER for a buyer. Research shows that Montego is in a nasty and highly publicized libel lawsuit with a prominent NET site.

Montego is suing the site for damages to his reputation. The NET site published innuendo saying that Montego was involved in bestiality, and put up some very fuzzy pictures that were hard to identify as anyone. Financing of the casino evaporated after Montego filed the lawsuit. Before that, it was pretty much ho-hum and who-cares and “that’s a slander sheet anyway.”

Montego’s wife is quoted as “standing by her man” who “wouldn’t harm so much as a hair on any dog’s head, much less its ass.”  The Team wonders if someone “doctored” the story in order to crash the casino’s financing and/or ruin Montego.

Doc Freeman looks at Montego’s books, and everything looks legit. While there is a problem with the gambling license, which was registered in another person’s name, William believes that is fixable. Realizing that running a casino is like “printing money”, Doc and William decide this is a fabulous business opportunity. They arrange a NET meeting with Lars to inform him about the casino. While there are two other bidders on this property, the Team is confident that Lars, with Nikki’s backing, will succeed in acquiring this property, should they decide to do so.

(GM note: Yes, they do.)

William also arranges a one-day tour of Kalgoorlie on April 11th, a two-day tour of Dondas Nature Reserve on the 13th and 14th, camping out at Norseman’s Great Western on the nights of the 12th and 14th. He asks the reporter Janie Phipps if they can meet with her family while in the area. While she herself cannot go, she arranges for a relative to serve as their guide.

William also hires a local photographer to go with them.

Meanwhile, on Tasmania’s northern coast in the town of Penguin, Kyle, Cat and Randy tour the Golden Rookery Breeding program of yellow-eyed penguins. They are suitably impressed with the efforts of the owner to protect these endangered birds.

At lunch time, the trio goes to a local café for lunch, where Kyle overhears a familiar voice. It sounds like Miles, his missing handler from the Romanian campaign. Looking around for the source of the voice, Kyle realizes the man has changed his appearance, but it’s definitely Miles!

Kyle tells Cat, who is all for shooting him then and there. In Romania, Miles was extremely opposed to Zar’s (Kyle) and Dominique’s (Cat) relationship. After all she was a spy for the Martian Ministry of Communications and a known Caitlin clone! Kyle nixes the notion of shooting Miles immediately, but tells her if things go badly, she can do it.

Going over, Kyle sits at the man’s table and says, “Miles! How the heck are you? Long time, no see.”

While Kyle chats with Miles, Cat goes to the Ladies’ Room and changes her face, then watches the phones and hopes the meeting “goes badly”.

Even though Kyle’s appearance is now different from Zar, Miles does recognize him, perhaps because Kyle uses his Zar voice. At first, Miles seems nervous. After all, he disappeared with a few million euros that Zar had (1) stolen as part of his smuggler cover and (2) entrusted to Miles.

Miles shakes his head. “Of all the cafés in all the towns in all the world, you walk into mine. I thought this place was about as far away as I could get. How did you find me, anyway?”

Kyle declines to specify—and lets Miles think he researched him. And, “You know, I found you once. It would be a bad idea to run. I’ll just find you again.”

When Kyle doesn’t ask about the money, instead wants to know why Miles disappeared from Langley, Miles seems to relax. He tells Kyle, “Hey, I could see the writing on the wall. It didn’t matter whose op was legit—mine or Nathan’s. Scrutiny like that is usually a crap shoot. I had stepped on a few toes back at Langley. I figured it was ‘time to go’. Besides, there was all that lovely money just sitting there—and I was pretty sure you wouldn’t be coming back for it no matter which way the wind blew.”

Miles waves around the café: “Bought this place here with the funds. I’d be happy to cut you in for a percentage.” He also commiserates with Kyle over the burn notice. “I heard about that. The Grapevine and all. I do still have a few contacts, here and there.”

Kyle mentions Delrick Bouchard, the professor who was shot in Pleasantville in December 2041 (Episode 14). Miles is sorry to hear of his death. Kyle asks, “The police there showed me a photo of you and a man named Gregory Michaels. What can you tell me about him?”

Miles looks grave. “That man is a nasty piece of work. He would sell his own mother down the river if she got in his way—and make a tidy profit while he was at it. Always thinking a bunch of moves ahead. Like in chess, you want to attack two pieces at once so it doesn’t matter what your opponent does, you are guaranteed to take a piece—and thinking how to get to that place on the board so you ARE attacking two pieces at once.”

Miles tells Kyle that he attended high school with Gregory Michaels, “but I didn’t see much of him after that. Michaels started out in the military. ROTC. After that, he worked counter intelligence at the Agency for a while. But then he started his own shop. He asked me if I was interested, but it sounded too shady for my taste. He called the thing ‘Section’. As in ‘a private Section of government’, deniable and all that. I thought it was a stupid name, but I wasn’t about to tell him that. Smoke and the Crackler, they left the Agency around that time so I figure they joined him.”

Kyle informs Miles that he’d seen both Smoke and the Crackler—one in Asuncion and the other in Caracas. Miles replies, “They recognized you, too? No wonder you got burned. I’m surprised Michaels didn’t just try to kill you. No, he’s playing some kind of deeper hand. Like I said, thinking moves ahead. He must want something from you.”

Miles tells Kyle that Michaels is fond of using names of chess grandmasters for his aliases—not exactly the same but similar: like Robby Fisher.

The two “old friends” wish each other well. Kyle assures Miles he won’t tell the CIA his whereabouts, warns Miles not to run away again, and their meeting ends.

Back in Hobart, during the afternoon, William and Doc Freeman meet with Kirby Grant, the owner of the Grants Hotel, a luxury high-rise hotel near the waterfront. Kirby is rumored to have “financial embarrassments”—which turn out to be a messy divorce proceeding. Kirby’s wife has charged him with “sleeping with the nanny”. His business associates anticipate that he will either be forced to split his assets or to sell some outright. As a result, he is having trouble raising capital for his current projects—thus the hotel for sale.

The meeting includes Kirby’s wife and both of their lawyers. Acerbic comments are exchanged between the Grants. It becomes clear that the wife is determined to make things as difficult as possible for her former hubby. The Team decides not to pursue the Grants Hotel.

When William, Doc Freeman, and Allison return to their hotel, each of them and Nip find a cup of hot chocolate on the bedside table, with “compliments of the hotel” on a nearby card. Nip, Doc and Allison drink the beverage. William—who can always be trusted to err on the side of paranoia—does not. He sends the cup’s contents down the toilet, leaving just enough to make it look like he drank it.

Meanwhile, Kyle, Cat and Randy enjoy the rest of the day, then head for the train station for their return trip to Hobart. Cat has reserved a sleeping compartment in her name for herself and Kyle. Randy has the compartment next door. They board the train near midnight. The train stops in 17 towns on the way south, and is scheduled to arrive in Hobart at 7:45 am.


Wednesday, April 5, 2045:

Early morning, Hobart:

William is having trouble sleeping. Something has been bugging him about the casino situation. He gets up to do some NET research, but doesn’t find much useful. He also doesn’t turn on the room lights, just sits at his computer. Then at 2 am, he gives up on his research and goes to the bathroom. As he comes out, he turns off the bathroom light—and the door to the outside corridor opens with a soft click. Someone in dark clothes comes inside and shuts the door.

William sneaks up behind the intruder (rolling a 40 on his Stealth). The trespasser seems completely unaware of him (totally botched his Awareness roll), and tiptoes across the room towards the computer with a knife in his hand. He raises the screen.

William easily disarms the man, ties him up and gags him. He then latches his room door’s dead bolt and calls Doc Freeman.

Doc had drunk the chocolate and is having trouble waking up. However, he manages to rise, put on his dressing gown, grab his doctor’s bag, and come to William’s room. Nip, on the other hand, successfully resisted the effects of the soporific in the drink and tells Fred to be on the lookout for trouble.

Doc administers a sleeping drug of his own, and William puts the man in the bathtub. They search his clothes and find Croatian labels in the assassin’s clothes. They also find a note in his pocket saying, “Greetings from The Gambia”.

They leave the interloper sleeping in the bathtub, occasionally injecting him with more anesthetic to make sure he stays unconscious (but alive).

Early morning, on the train:

At 3:30 am, everyone is awakened with a huge BLAM! An explosion rocks the train—which lurches and starts slowing with a screech of its brakes.

Cat, Kyle and Randy prepare for trouble. They hear movement in the corridor, which they recognize as passengers moving about. Opening the door, they are able to see a man at the front end of their corridor—holding an AK74 assault rifle in one hand and a piece of paper in the other. He says in broken English, “Is have now robbers. Please to stay inside box.”

Cat, with her high Linguistics skill, recognizes a Greek accent, and regrets her decision a few weeks back to remove her Greek chip. All three quickly realize (on an easy Human Perception roll) that this guy is rather nervous.

Randy yells at the passengers to get down. He steps to the edge of his doorway and shoots towards the robber. The hooligan steps behind the area with the loo, and Randy lays down suppression fire to the front of the train car. The hooligan peeks around the edge of the corridor and shoots at Randy’s doorway. The pair sends bushels of bullets towards each other for many rounds, pausing as necessary to reload. Unfortunately, Randy’s position does not provide especially good cover. Bullets rip through the wall shielding much of his body and—while slowing them down and reducing their damage—do not stop them completely.

Meanwhile, Cat has looked outside the window—and sees an AV hovering above the car in front of theirs, which has a huge hole opening its side and top. Two men toss cables from the skimmer to people inside the train car. Soon, the cables tighten, apparently attached to something inside the car—probably a safe. The AV rises, and the train lurches. However, it seems there is a problem. The AV continues to hover near the open railroad car. The men inside the rail car are yelling to those in the AV—but without her Greek chip, Cat cannot figure out what they’re saying.

(GM note: Which was: “The fucking safe won’t move. It’s bolted to the floor. Throw me the spare C6.”)

Kyle and Cat decide to stop this robbery. Targeting the two armed men in the open door of the AV, Kyle and Cat dispatch them with head shots. They exit via the window and climb onto the top of the train, which continues to slow with screeching brakes.

They run forward and leap onto the next car (making their Athletics rolls). Cat looks through the hole in the top of the train car where the safe is located and shoots down the surprised bandits inside the train. Kyle grabs the chains and the two Climb upward. They encounter the pilot with raised hands of surrender.

And now . . . the moment of truth arrives. Kyle turns to Cat and says, “We should steal the safe and the AV.”

Cat immediately realizes this would present a problem. “We’re listed as passengers. If we go missing, the authorities will immediately know it was us. They might even think it was our idea!”

Kyle understands immediately. “So we get to be heroes.” He calls the authorities and asks where they want them to fly the AV. They tell him to take the vehicle to Launcetown, the nearest city.

On the train Randy finally drops the bandit, ending a long shootout. The ex-Delta Force operative is seriously injured and the authorities take him to the hospital.

The next morning, headlines throughout Tasmania read “PENGUIN PROTECTORS FOIL TRAIN ROBBERY!” Kyle and Cat and Randy are heroes!


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