The team is contacted by their fixer about a job from a Johnson they’ve work for before (Trojan Horse – Root of the Problem). He is an officer with Knight Errant and needs some covert work done. As per the last time they met with him, he would like to meet them at 9PM in the storeroom of the Bellevue Pour House.
Scene 1 – Back into the Dive
The Pour House hasn’t changed much since the last time the runners were here. The ring in the middle of the bar still has a pair of barely-clad, surgically-endowed women wrestling in a pool of cooking oil, while those gathered throw money at the women to try and coax them into a wardrobe malfunction. Moses, the ork barkeep, keeps his bar well stocked to give the establishment a redeeming quality. When asked about Mr. Johnson, he still staunchly refuses to let anyone loiter in his storeroom, but does tell them that he’ll offer them a discount on booze for being repeat “professional” customers.
As the meet time gets close, he will let the runners into the back room. With this becoming a more regular thing, a folding table and chairs have been set up in the back room. Mr. Johnson is already there waiting, wearing his police uniform as usual.
As per their last meeting, he looks at the runners with distaste, but makes no moves to go for his sidearm or commlink. “Thank you for coming. After the work you did for me in Hong Kong, I felt you were the team I could most likely trust with the matter at hand. There is a high profile murder investigation going on right now between a couple power players… the victim is the son of a Yakuza Shategashira (Lieutenant). One well liked by the Japanese community, with prospects to move up the ranks of the Shotozumi-rengo. Normally, this case would wrap itself up, either with a bloodbath between crime families or under the table extortion. However, the accused is an Ares executive, who is apparently wrapped up in an important project within the company. As a result, Ares is refusing to turn over the suspect and has demanded that Knight Errant make the problem go away.”
His distaste for the situation is apparent. “I’m not one to tow the company line. I don’t care who this guy is, or who he works for, justice needs to be done. Therefore, I want you to perform the investigation I’m not permitted to. Find out of this executive is guilty. If he is, deal with him as you deem fit. However, if evidence directs you elsewhere, document what you find and turn any gathered evidence over to me. If we can bring the suspect to trial, perhaps Ares will learn to loosen the leash a little. I’m offering you 7,500¥ for your assistance on this matter. Are you interested?”
Mr. Johnson is frustrated that he has to turn to runners to complete the murder investigation, but he fears that a retaliation from the Yakuza against a corporate citizen could spiral into something much larger. He’s willing to swallow his pride to see the matter resolved.
He will negotiate a little on price, but as far as he’s concerned, the job should be straightforward, if they don’t kick in the front doors of Ares. Once the runners are on-board, he hands over the casefile. It details several aspects of the case. The location of the murder, details uncovered thus far and names of the people involved. The victim is Yamana Taro and the lead suspect is an Ares executive by the name of Victor Walsh. He was found at the scene, with the victim’s blood on him and the murder weapon in his possession (though the knife used to kill Taro belonged to neither person). Before he could be questioned at any length, Ares swept in and sequestered him on a sealed compound for debriefing. The casefile contains holos, addresses for both the crime and where Walsh is holed up.
Thresholds: Matrix (1), Corporate (2), Law Enforcement (2)
1 – Mr. Johnson is Lieutenant Chris Phillips, a six year veteran for Knight Errant.
2 – Lt. Phillips has an atypical view of law enforcement for an officer from Knight Errant. He cares less for the company’s bottom line and more for the pursuit of justice. His attitude has got him in trouble from the parent company on a couple of occasions, but the perceptions of the community have made him untouchable.
3 – Began working black bag operations two years ago, when a Yakuza boss got off the hook for crimes where evidence was overwhelming against him, but pressured the jury into a non-guilty verdict. Hired runners to “see justice done”. Knight Errant doesn’t condone his methods, but sees the work he does as good PR, so they give him a long leash.
4 – Rumour has it that he works with several underworld groups, but no one has managed to “buy” him yet.
Scene 2 – Digging Deeper
Armed with what little evidence the Knights dug up before the case was swept under the rug, the runners have a few avenues they can explore. They have the crime scene they can investigate, they can check out Victor Walsh’s home, or they can try and infiltrate the Ares Complex they’re keeping him at to try and talk to him directly.
The crime scene has been taped off both physically and digitally. While pushing the physical tape aside is no major issue, the digital tape will loudly warn all active commlinks that the area has been sealed and that trespassing will alert Knight Errant. If the runners are willing to risk the response time, or can successfully shut down the tape, they can enter the building.
The crime scene is an abandoned factory. There is no logical reason that either the suspect or the victim would have for being in here, especially in the middle of the night. There are no active cameras in the building, but neighbouring buildings have cameras that have a view of the building. Those cameras show Walsh arriving first, about an hour before Yamana. If the runners go back far enough, they will see a homeless man enter the warehouse for a couple minutes before leaving again. A localized hack to the area could uncover the man’s commlink signature so the runners can trace the man down.
The man wasn’t homeless, but instead a low-level rat shaman and scavenger who goes by the nickname Fizzle (due to his mediocre magical ability).
Victor Walsh is a divorced man who lives alone in a nice house in an AA neighbourhood. The house is protected with a respectable and thorough alarm system. If the runners can gain access without drawing too much attention to themselves, they can sift through what’s left of the man’s life.
The man’s extensive electronic appliances betray his habits of late. He’s been watching a lot of late night TV, raiding the fridge at late hours and stocking up in high power stimulants (energy drinks, adrenaline shots and Long Haul). Victor had been keeping a journal, where he recorded hours of sleep and dreams he was having. His hours of sleep over the past three weeks have dwindled down to nothing and the dreams he was experiencing were vivid and terrifying. The dreams broke up his sleep and became so consistent, he gave up trying to sleep. Those times he did sleep due to exhaustion, the dreams told him the same story in the past week. If he went to some factory he had never seen before and “followed instructions”, the dreams would stop.
Going through Victor’s email reveals the company’s concerns over his declining job performance of late and before the sleep deprivation, he had been assigned to a top secret project. The company had nearly tripled his workload and had taken a blood sample for “routine testing” two days before the nightmares began.
Victor’s ritual sample never made it to the storage center and he’s been the recipient of Curse Rituals for the past several weeks. He got so delirious and desperate for relief, he ultimately followed the directions provided by his dreams and went to the factory.
The Ares complex is a gated community that is heavily patrolled by Knight Errant. The houses are all identical copies of each other in a nauseating cookie-cutter manner. If the runners can outmaneuver the patrols and security net, they can go inside and talk directly with Walsh.
The man is haunted by his actions and three weeks of vivid nightmares. He seems unshaken by the runners appearing in his house, but more surprised that they’re there to ask questions, rather than put him to death. He tells them about the nightmares, his efforts to fend them off and avoid sleeping.
The day of the crime, he gave up trying to fight it. He took a cab, following the path he had seen in his dreams night after night and went into the factory. Inside there was nothing but a crate with a knife stuck in it. After waiting around for an hour, this Japanese guy walks in and starts asking him if he is the one with the goods. Victor asked if the Japanese guy had the cure to what ailed him. Neither seemed to know what the other was talking about and frustrations grew. Suddenly, Victor was overcome with rage, he snatched up the knife and threw himself at the man, stabbing him over and over again. After he got himself back under control, he recoiled from what he had done and blacked out. The cops found him collapsed in the warehouse beside the body, still clutching the knife.
If the runners mention the blood sample he donated (assuming they’d been to his residence), he tells them that he never heard about his test results. If pressed, he’ll tell them where the processing center is.
Viewing cameras in the area of the processing center, they see the sample being delivered, but a homeless man interrupts the man carrying the samples and after a brief conversation, the deliveryman hands the man the sample case. The homeless man shakes his hand and walks away, while the driver records that the delivery was successfully delivered.
This homeless man is Fizzle, as per the warehouse setup. The blood samples would give him ample ritual samples for sending the nightmares off to Victor.
If the runners gather enough evidence, they will likely want to track down the homeless man that keeps appearing and question him as to his motivations for manipulating Victor into murdering Yamana. Asking around in the vicinity of the processing center shows that the man is a transient named Fizzle.
Thresholds: Matrix (3), Street (2)
1 – Some guy that’s fairly new to Seattle, rumoured to be some kind of mage. No known address.
2 – Fizzle rolled into town about a year ago. Appears to be a roaming vagabond, squatting anywhere he can cheaply or for errands. A relatively low-powered rat shaman, he offers his talents to anyone willing to pay in magical trinkets, food or nuyen.
3 – Has been working with the Yakuza and Mafia in Seattle, assisting where magical talent is low. He specializes in subtle mental manipulations.
4 – His real name is Gabriel Oates. He is wanted in the Confederation for extortion and blackmail, as well as practising illegal magics.
Scene 3 – The Rat in the Gutter
The runners could use any number of techniques to track down Fizzle in the Shadows of the Downtown Core. Asking the squatter population, or any Underworld contact can point them into a direction. Rumours in the area mention how Fizzle has been showing increased prowess with his magic lately and demonstrating a few new tricks. There are mentions that he has found a tutor that is helping him better control his gifts.
As the runners converge on the area where Fizzle is rumoured to be squatting, the Yakuza have been doing their own research into who murdered one of their own and Fizzle’s involvement has been discovered.
The old warehouse is home to dozens of squatters, who have turned to the shaman for protection. They don’t interfere with the runners, but won’t sell out their protector either. When the runners track down Fizzle, his eyes are sunken and he looks haunted, as if he hasn’t been sleeping himself.
Assuming the runners don’t just shoot him dead, he is apologetic that Yamana was killed. He never wanted to be an accessory for murder, only weaken the Ares Exec’s resolve so that he’d pawn off some company secrets to the Yakuza. The idea was given to him by his tutor and he now fears that his tutor was more malevolent than anticipated.
Before he can explain more about his tutor, the Yakuza burst in, guns drawn and calling Fizzle out. Moments after the Yakuza burst in, the locals begin to scatter and Fizzle’s “tutor” enters. The shaman has been taught by a free spirit: a Wraith, a form of Shadow that feeds on death, pain and fear.
When the fight gets started, have every runner make a Composure(3) test. Any who fail are influenced by its Homicidal Rage. They no longer distinguish between friend and foe, innocent or hostile. If they kill a target while raging, the spirit can make a test to siphon off any unspent Karma and inflicts stun damage for every point stolen. The spirit strengthens itself with each body count, so the runners will hopefully recognize what’s going on, locate the spirit and destroy it before they become serial killers.
Between the collected evidence and any collected footage of the battle with the Shadow, they should have enough proof for Mr. Johnson in order to get paid.
>> Wait a sec… working with the cops? Isn’t that sacrilege?
>> Happens more than you might think. Despite what you might think, some cops are actually after justice and when the bureaucracy interferes they go to where there is no red tape.
>> Errant Knight
>> I sneaked a peak at the casefile in question (don’t ask me how) and there’s definitely something up. If you’re one of those do-gooder types, this might be right up your alley.