This was the third and final event I ran during the 2012 Convention Season.
The runners are contacted by their fixer about a job in the South Pacific. The employer will cover all travel costs and promises a decent wage, given the remote location and potential hazards. If they are willing to hear more, the fixer will ask to meet them at Matchsticks at 8PM.
Matchsticks is a popular jazz club in the downtown core. Paying the modest cover charge (or not so modest if the runners don’t conform to the nightclub’s dress code), the team gets in the door to take in the deep wood-tones and brass accents. A deep-voiced ork woman croons out songs from the last century to a collection of brass, strings and an energetic pianist. The team’s fixer is at a table in the rear of the club, where the music doesn’t pierce as deeply and allows for conversation.
As usual, he offers the runners food and drink on his tab before he gets down to business. “Thanks for coming, guys. I realize this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m just going to lay it out there. The job is on a remote island North of Java on the Indonesian Islands, called Karimunjawa. Apparently, it used to be a resort island chain before the Awakening. When the Indonesian government fractured, the island was practically forgotten, save by a handful of corporations. The resort was left to rot and the Javanese Empire turned the island over to Biogene, a bioengineering company with few moral scruples. Biogene stopped using the island after the Crash, but there were no recorded reasons for the change.”
“Rumours have been surfacing from the survivors of an expedition into the heart of the largest of the Karimunjawa Islands. They mentioned a geyser at the island’s centre, who’s water is supposed to have some unique properties…they say anything from triggering SURGE to curing cancer. My client wants soil and water samples from this geyser to see if the rumours have any bearing on the truth. He’s betting on the expedition paying off, I guess. He’s offering you 8,000¥ apiece, plus travel to get him a decent sized water sample and mud from around the geyser. It will be negotiable on whatever resistance you encounter.”
He has little room to negotiate initially. The job, as it stands on paper, is an easy task. The area is a mystery though, so he will really urge the runners to negotiate after the work is done.
If the runners agree to take the job, the fixer smiles and nods. “Great. I’ll tell Mr. Johnson he has a team. Since you aren’t familiar with the area, if you feel you’ll need it, I can get you a contact to meet you at your destination. He should be able to help you with acquiring equipment and local customs. His name is Koonjahn, a former Moluccan Pirate. He knows the waters around the Indonesian islands quite well and can hopefully be of some use to you.”
The runners are flown into Dili, East Timor to meet with Koonjahn and start on their job. The main language in the area is Portuguese, but many of the local dialects are still spoken as well (Bahasa, Japanese and English are the primary dialects here). Koonjahn is a man who has seen quite a few winters. His right arm is heavily augmented, he walks with a limp and is missing many of his teeth. Nevertheless, he is well spoken and is obviously quite comfortable in the area. He explains that the Karimunjawa Islands are part of the Javanese State and protected by the military junta in charge there. Getting near the islands whether by land or sea will be problematic.
East Timor is almost entirely under the grip of Portuguese corporation Lusiada. They want the secrets of Kurimunjawa for their agricultural industry, but can’t be seen stepping all over BioGene’s toes to get it. They hope to be able to replicate the properties of the geyser in their labs. If blackmail material against BioGene can be found, all the better.
If the runners entertain the idea of flying out to the island, Koonjahn does tell them that there is an airport on the island, built during the days as a resort and restored by BioGene. However, he doesn’t know the condition presently, as it has barely been used in the past eight years. Finding a pilot willing to fly out there will also be an issue. And if they do find a willing pilot, there is the chance they’ll be shot down and be stranded on the island with no means of escape (assuming they survive the crash).
The seas around Karimunjawa are unpredictable. While they have a reputable guide in Koonjahn, he recommends more than mere pleasure-craft for making the trip. Renting or “borrowing” a fishing trawler might work, if they want something durable and innocuous to try and slip past Javanese patrols. If they really want to annoy the locals, they could steal a patrol ship, though they are easily tracked and, if travelling alone, quickly targeted and attacked by Moluccan Pirates.
The largest of the Karimunjawa Islands was the only one of the islands in the archipelago that had permanent settlements on it. Smaller islands housed resorts, but as the Javanese economy plunged into the abyss, these tourist based businesses dried up. The homes here have fallen into obvious disrepair, as the monsoon seasons and at least one major hurricane has dealt a lot of damage to the area. The area south of the Bandar Udara Dewandaru Airport was re-allocated by BioGene, during their tenure here, but even these houses have fallen onto hard times.
Following the shattered roads south for a few kilometers takes the runners to the ruins of one of the large resorts that resided here. Despite decades of neglect, the building looked as though it had offered grand luxury in her day. Enough of the infrastructure was intact, that the main building was claimed by BioGene, using the nearby Sinak Airfield to airlift supplies, though this bush airfield is now long overgrown. The Resort had consisted of a central building with several restaurants, medical clinics, ballroom, conference center and all the managerial offices. The coastline is dotted with impressive villas on stilts, to account for high tide. The villas have fallen into vast states of disrepair, with a few having collapsed under years of neglect.
The central building was converted for BioGene’s purposes. The offices were made Matrix v1.0 compliant, but there is little wireless communication here. Many of the guest services were converted to medical labs. Many of these labs appear to have been abandoned, smashed or some combination of the two. While most of the items here are of little use, there are still a couple tranquilizer rifles here, which may come in handy for what they are going to contend with (though GMs should decide just how many darts are available).
Tapping into BioGene’s database shows that they had been experimenting with the genetics of potential “warbeasts” at the facility. When the Crash of 64 came along, many of the containment protocols went off line and the creatures escaped into the wild and into the compound. They had discovered a location they had dubbed “The Fountain of Creation” and were investigating the properties of the site when things went off line. There are GPS coordinates for the Fountain on the server.
With everything running loose on the island, the runners are likely to run into some of the altered creatures on the island. These included modified variants of: Sumatran Tigers, Komodo Dragons, Orangutans, Fire Ants and indigenous birds. The runners may also encounter shedim-infested corpses of the BioGene researchers who didn’t get off the island in time.
The geyser at the island’s heart is a volcanic heat-fed underground spring with Awakened bacteria in a high concentration in the soil. As animals consume it, it distorts them further, making them more dangerous and less stable. On top of animals defending their waterhole, the ground near the geyser is treacherous and can hold pockets of volcanic gas. They will need to be careful as they trudge through the muck to collect their sample. For an added twist, the bacteria that gives the water its mutagenic properties could exert a compulsion on nearby creatures to want to drink the water. If a runner comsumes the tainted water, nothing will happen initially, but as they are trying to escape, they will be wracked with horrific pain as their body begins to mutate. Feel free to select a random metagenic trait from the Runner’s Companion (positive or negative) that they suddenly manifest. In line with the rules for mutation, if they drank a lot of the water, feel free to give them multiple mutations and remove a point of Intuition, which is a permanent loss. With samples collected, they will need to get off the island and return to Seattle before they can collect their pay and likely negotiate in the face of the hardships they faced.
(See the Stats for the Komodo Dragon (under Alligator) in Running Wild)
Mutations: +2 Agility, +2 Reaction, Lightning Reflexes, Frog Tongue, Albinism, Uncontrolled Metastasis, -2 Essence, -1 Intuition
This mutated Komodo Dragon (Karimun Dragon), is faster than its typical peer and is able to snare targets with its long adhesive tongue, dragging it back to be consumed. Keeping one’s distance is less of a defense against this creature as it is a faster runner and can snare at range, but its bite is just as venomous as usual. However, the mutation is unstable, causing its scaly hide to be paler, prone to sunburn and often has cancerous patches. It typically sits in shaded areas, conserving its energy until prey comes too close, when it launches a lightning fast attack to take them down quickly.
(Use the Stats for Great Cat found in the Shadowrun Core Book)
Mutations: +2 Reaction, +2 Strength, +2 Climbing, Night Vision, Toughness, Arcane Arrester, Sensitive System, Nocturnal, -4 Essence, -2 Intuition
Once a Sumatran Tiger, this already endangered species was transformed into a hunter of the night. Dubbed a Javanese Panther by the technicians, these cats have taken to the trees and are active only at night. Their fur is mostly black, with the orange now being the secondary colour. Aggressive and strong, they aren’t afraid to take on larger prey, so long as they can attack from ambush. Due to the mutations, they are little more than instinctual creatures and lack a sense of self-preservation.
(Use the stats for Orangutans (under Baboon) in Running Wild)
Mutations: Bone Spikes, +1 Body, +1 Strength, Tough as Nails 2, -4 Essence, -2 Intuition
Only the Orangutans near the geyser have this affliction. Their fur, which is more red than orange, and spiked protrusions have seen them dubbed Red Devils. They are resilient and tough and more feral than their more docile cousins. They typically hunt in packs, using their body’s natural defenses to take down foes quickly. They still have enough presence of mind to recognize when territorial disputes should yield to survival.
(See the stats for Fire Ants in Running Wild. Treat the Colony as a Rating 8 Swarm)
Mutations: Defensive Secretions, -1 Essence
The Fire Ants in the area are part of massive colonies and will attack anything that threatens their home. Crushing the ants releases an acidic paste that, in sufficient quantity, can weaken armor.
The runners may get a hint as to the shedim presence should they explore the compound in any depth, as there are many “perfectly preserved” corpses, despite the fact that the compound was abandoned years ago. The shedim will take stock of the runners and move to block their escape.
The fire ants have had years to spread throughout the island and with their Gestalt Consciousness, they have amassed enormous colonies that run throughout the island. The old paths through the jungle are overgrown, but still there. Have the path blocked by an enormous series of anthills, or have the ground give way from under a runner’s foot and unleash the horror of a fire ant hive.
The Karimun Dragons hide away in the shade, often on rocks or fallen tree branches to not stir up any ants beneath the surface. It will snare a runner as they pass by and drag them through the underbrush to be eaten.
The Red Devils will follow in the trees, unseen but perhaps giving the runners a rustle every once and a while. When the runners fall under attack by other creatures, any runner that stands back away from the action, will find themselves set upon by a pack of these mutant orangutans.
The Javanese Panthers are few in number and will hunt in a pack to try and grab a runner and drag them up into the trees to be eaten. If they are attacked, they launch into a frenzy and will try to kill anything nearby. Potentially, have one possessed by a shedim (a bullet-riddled corpse) to add an extra element of fear.
Thresholds – Matrix (2), Shadows (3), Pirates (1)
0 – Who?!
1 – He was a pirate that ran mostly in the seas of the Indonesian Republics.
2 – Stole form Java and Singapore and sold it his wares to the highest bidder. The junta in charge of the Javanese Republic still has a bounty out on him.
3 – Retired from piracy after a close call with the Javanese Army. Lost his ship and a lot of his crew.
5 – Rumour has it; he threw in with Lusiada and lives in East Timor as a nautical guide. He uses the corporation as a shield between him and his old foes.
Thresholds – Matrix (2), Corporate (3)
0 – Bless you…
1 – An archipelago of islands north of Semarang in Indonesia. Not much happening there these days.
2 – Used to be a haven for resorts…white sand and blue water. After the Crash, many of those resorts folded when their finances vanished.
3 – After Indonesia collapsed, control moved to the Javanese Empire. Since the resorts all folded, pirates had taken to using them as bases for their raids. The Junta swept in and purged all the islands, destroying most of the old buildings.
4 – The only island with infrastructure in place is Palau Karimun. The government sold the island to a local firm for research purposes. The company is called BioGene.
5 – BioGene has abandoned the island for a few years now. No explanation was provided as to why they walked away after so much investment.
Thresholds – Matrix (2), Corporate (2)
0 – Wasn’t that some action hero a few years back?
1 – A Biotech company who work for the Javanese government out of Jakarta.
2 – They applied for membership in the PPG but were turned down, due to their flagrant disregard of the Copenhagen Accords.
3 – Now receives most of their funding from the Military regime in Java. Many speculate they are designing new military drugs for use in the field.
4 – Ran a genetic modification lab in Karimunjawa. Animal activists were in uproar over the fact that the company was testing on animals…even endangered species.
6 – BioGene had an accident at their Karimun facility that caused the entire facility to be shut down. Recent expeditions have recorded several new species, that are potential creations by BioGene.
>> So, someone’s willing to send a team of runners to an uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere to get water and mud? What’s the catch?
>> Think ‘Island of Dr. Moreau’…
>> My God… read a book once in a while, you ingrate…
>> With the weird shit we see every day, who needs to read fiction?