Abnormal Nature

The runners are hired under sketchy terms by their fixer for a job in Ningxia, one of the Chinese Republics. While he doesn’t have full details, he says that the pay is promising, despite the fact that the run stems from previous work that was done. The work promises to be “dirty” (assassination), while the retrieval of an object is the ultimate goal. The meet itself is being conducted in Ningxia’s capital of Yinchuan. If the runners are interested, they are given plane tickets, a receipt for a rental vehicle and an address for the meet with Mr. Chang.

Assuming the runners take the job and don’t run into problems at the airport, they will arrive in Yinchuan without incident. The vehicle retained for them is a tired-looking truck big enough for the whole team, but looking a little decrepit. Driving the car to the address provided, they find themselves at a five-star hotel modeled after the temples in the Forbidden City. If the inquire at the front gate for Mr. Chang, they are given a cardkey for the penthouse.

The penthouse takes up most of the top floor, with heated marble floors, massive columns and numerous bedrooms. Standing at the northern window is Mr. Chang. He ushers the runners over to window, to gaze out the window toward the horizon. Outside the city, mountains can be seen to the west and to the north is an ocean of sand, the Tengger Desert clearly visible.

“What do you see out there?” Mr. Chang asks. If they mention anything but the desert, he asks, “What else?”. When they mention the desert, Mr. Chang audibly sighs. He is a middle aged Chinese man wearing the traditional garb of the Hui, a Muslim sect of the Chinese people (many runners won’t know the Hui faith at all). “Just a few years ago, all that you see as sand was once grassland. Let me give you a little history…”

The man walks over to a large comfortable looking chair and sits down. “In the early part of this century, the Tengger Desert and larger Gobi Desert were expanding into China. If it had gone unchecked, Beijing would have been a desert by the twenties. Instead, steps were taken to force the desert back, with planned planting of scrub brush and building up barricades to keep the dunes from shifting. It worked marvelously for years. Then the Comet came back. The Tengger and Gobi have minds of their own and they seem to be determined to overrun our cities. Our nation is small and the loss of our capital would be detrimental. My research has shown that there may be a way to stop its advance. Which is where you come in.”

Mr. Chang stands up and walks over to a nearby table, where a briefcase rested. He opened the latches and rummaged through the contents. “There is rumour of a magical artifact that was recovered…older than modern civilization, called only The Scepter of Wuxing. Your fixer seemed to be tied to its recovery, which is why you’re here. I’ve tracked the artifact down to a philanthropist in Shaanxi. I need you to retrieve the Scepter and bring it back to me. I hope the magic within will help us cure the desert of the nomads that control her. For the successful retrieval of the Scepter, I will award you 10,000¥ apiece. I will also let you keep this penthouse for yourselves during your stay. Are the terms satisfactory?”

He is open to a small amount of negotiation. Mr. Chang is a representative for Ningxia, but also has some allegiance to Wuxing, Inc, who is very interested in the artifact.

When the runners take the job, Mr. Chang bows and thanks them. “The Scepter is being studied at a research facility run by one Xingdu Fong in Chang’An, just outside the capital Xi’An City. It is an ancient city, over 2000 years of history can be found in that city. I have compiled some information for you… ah here it is!”

Mr. Chang gives the team a chip that has Fong’s home address, the address of the facility where the Scepter is being studied and Mr. Chang’s number, in case the runners need to contact him for anything.

“Anything else you require, before I take my leave?”

Chang will answer truthfully to any questions he knows something about. If the team inquires about his reference to the nomads he mentioned, he tells them about the twisted nomads that roam the desert. They perform bizarre magic to control the sands and seem to be bent on the destruction of anything that impedes the desert’s growth. When the team is done questioning him, he leaves them to enjoy the penthouse and plan.

The team will not likely want to waste any time going to get the Scepter. The border crossing into Shaanxi won’t be as difficult as one might expect, since Shaanxi is ruled by a British-inspired monarchy. It doesn’t change the fact that the border guards are well armed and naturally suspicious of outsiders.

Xi’an City is a bustling metropolis where the Queen sits on her throne. Traffic in and around the city is heavy and there is a heavy corporate presence there as well. Chang’An, a few kilometers south of the outer fringes of the capital, is a lot quieter as a city, though it is still a very busy place. Tourism is a big trade here, as people come out to see tombs and historic buildings, some dating as far back as the Han Dynasty. Due to the high level of tourism, there is a high police presence, to keep the riff-raff subdued during daylight hours.

As the runners begin their work, they will notice that things are not well in Shaanxi. Fong’s home is burning when the team arrives and the facility is under a police lockdown. If the team is brazen enough to get inside the facility while the police are there, they will find a background count, numerous dead employees and the Scepter has been stolen. Throughout the building was desert sand.

The runners will likely surmise that the nomads swept in and stole it (they’d be right), but aren’t likely going to want to wade through the desert aimlessly to try and find them. A call to the Johnson will have them returning to Ningxia for further information.

Once back across the border into Ningxia, the runners will find themselves with a tail. The resulting car chase should be challenging, but the runners should ultimately be victorious, as the nomads aren’t exactly vehicle adept…

Mr. Chang tells them that the Scepter in the hands of the nomads is a scary prospect for the city. He tells the runners of a tracker that is familiar with the Tengger. He will help them track down the nomad camp. He gives them a contact number for the tracker.

The tracker is a Chinese man who sees himself as a descendant of the Mongols more than a Chinaman. He wears Mongolian nomad style clothing and carries a massive sword on his back when in the wild. While slightly eccentric, he does know the desert very well. He will tell the runners to prepare for travel in the desert and they will leave the next day.

The trip into the desert takes 3 hours heading NNW into the wilds of Inner Mongolia. The runners will have had to be extremely careful to not have given away their position to the nomads. They have spirits across the deserts playing watchdog, plus their travel time increases to keep themselves in the shallows of the desert, rather than cresting dunes.

The nomad encampment is a ring of huts surrounding an oasis. Magic is potent here and the nomads use it to defend their encampment. While population of the camp is fairly low, many of the residents are magically active. The moment the alarm is raised a sandstorm erupts all around the encampment. It will wreak havoc with visibility and anything with moving parts.

The main hut houses the main member of the band and when his men start failing, he steps outside and summons up an army of toxic Wuxing spirits to attack the team. When one is banished another takes its place. It should be a hard fight, but once the ringleader falls the sandstorm ends, any surviving nomads flee and the Scepter shatters into the original five parts and pops back into the astral plane, where it can’t be retrieved.

Hopefully, the tracker wasn’t killed in the fighting, or the team may find themselves aimlessly wandering the Tengger (which could be fatal). Mr. Chang will be upset that they didn’t get the staff back and want to take it out of their pay (unless they can provide proof that the Scepter really did return to the astral plane). It will take careful negotiation to receive their full pay and not get a black mark on their reputations.

>> A run into the desert?  Jesus, Insomniac, you really know how to pick em.
>> Revenge

>> Piss off, pointy-ears.  I don’t pick the jobs.  I post high profile jobs for people who are supposed to be high profile runners.  You don’t like it, don’t take it.  Simple as that.
>> Insomniac
“The shadows never sleep, so why should I?”

>> Dude, who pissed in your cornflakes this morning?  Revenge does have a point though…it’s not every day you go into China to find work.  I’m waiting for the penny to drop.
>> Blender

>> Some of my folks might remember a creepy old guy they did work for.  You might consider signing on if you do.
>> Zeyda

>> You mean, we may have caused this job?  Shit… I hate fallout.
>> Wraith

~ by 1nsomniac on October 21, 2009.

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