The Frontier of Nature

While the runners are contacted by their usual fixer, the meet that follows is short and succinct.  The fixer meets with them over conference call and tells them that there is a job that has come up, but while they are specifically looking for a Seattle team, the job is in Caracas.  The Johnson wouldn’t provide many details, but said that the pay would be fair and travel expenses would be covered if they were willing to head to South America to meet with him.

The Johnson isn’t willing to discuss the job until he has a team mostly committed to the job.  He will cover the costs of getting the runners to Caracas and their gear, so long as what they aim to bring is within reason.

Once they arrive at Simon Bolivar Airport (assuming they fly down), they are met by a massive throng of people, poor air quality (even compared to Seattle) and oppressive heat.  Eventually, they are met by a somewhat impoverished-looking man named Pedro holding a sign who drives an obviously armored bus.  He chats rapidly in a mixture of Spanish and English as he drives them to the meet location.

As they near the downtown core of Caracas, skyscrapers all but blot out the sky and the streets are clogged with heavy traffic.  Occasionally, a bullet ricochets off of the bus and Pedro never pauses in his chatter.  He talks about the encroaching rainforest, the overpopulation and the Cartels.  He mentions some new drug that’s starting to trickle into the streets that’s supposed to be the latest and greatest thing on the Northern coast.

When they finally shove their way through traffic, they are let off in front of a seedy bar, whose windows are nearly opaque with grime.  The inside isn’t any better.  The smell of smoke, filth and the reek of old death hang in the air here.  Groups of people huddle together, quietly conversing and nursing what little food they could afford.  In stark contrast to the environment, is a Hispanic man in a pressed suit.  Despite the cost of dry cleaning required to get out the transferred stains, he sits back comfortably in a booth and motions the runners over.

In a heavily accented voice (Portuguese, if the runners can pick it out), he says, “Welcome to Caracas.  I appreciate you taking the time to come all the way down here from Seattle to help me out.  I can’t risk hiring any of the local teams here, as they are all too closely tied to the Cartels, and if I hire someone whose interests conflict with my own, my life could be considerably shorter.  Everyone here is tied into other people’s business, so I’ve had to go to the added expense of bringing you here.  Before we get down to business, does anyone need anything to eat?  I’m sure it was a long flight…”

Given the establishment, the runners will likely decline, but if someone does order the food is surprisingly tasty and is certainly authentic.

Once the runners have their food, Mr. Johnson lays out his commlink and opens up a hologram of a tall spire of glass.  “Now, down to business.  All of the local corporations here that lack the ability to protect their own investments turn to one company:  Parashield.  Parashield is Caracas’ version of Lone Star, I suppose you could say.  They specialize in the training of paranormal animals for security, but dabble in robotics and automation as well.  My associates have some concerns as to how well Parashield treats their animals.  On top of this, people in your line of work must recognize that paranormal animals live a short existence on guard duty, as they become prime targets when unleashed.  Rather than see these rare animals endangered, we’d like to see them freed.  We would like you to rescue two cockatrice eggs from the training dens of Parashield.  Deliver them intact and you’ll have done a great service.”

When prompted about payment, Mr. Johnson explains that his organization does not have a lot of cash, but they can pay the team in magical telesma from some of the paranormal animals they’ve liberated.  The money they can earn from the sale of the telesma should be more than adequate.

Mr. Johnson is not who he seems.  He may be Latino, but his English is perfect and he actually works for Parashield.  He is the local office’s chief security officer, Desmondo Ruiz.  Recently, Parashield was raided and some valuable data was stolen and leaked into the streets, which allowed the Cartels to liberate some of their confiscated drugs.  Mitsuhama, Parashield’s parent company, has given Desmondo one last chance to prove he’s fit for the job.  The runners are to be the test run.

If the runners take the job, he will smile and shake the runner’s hands.  “Excellent.  I have the address of the Parashield Tower and a keycard that should be useful.  My man inside the company managed to smuggle out a keycard that should grant you access to the Cockatrice nests.  I realize getting these eggs are a risky proposition, but I would appreciate your professionalism if you didn’t kill the parents.  It would be counter-productive to the purpose of the job.”

If the runners at any point try to do a Matrix search on Mr. Johnson, at first all searches point to the profile of James Alvarez, a known Amazonian liberationist, who aims to eventually bring Caracas down and let the rainforest swallow up the Northern blemish.  The truth is Alvarez was killed by Parashield and Ruiz is using it as a blind.  A further in depth search will reveal the truth; that Mr. Johnson is actually an employee of the company they are targeting.

Thankfully, Caracas is small, due to the forest walls constantly closing in.  The Parashield Tower can be reached on foot easily enough, although the humid air and oppressive heat could pose a problem to anyone wearing an inordinate amount of armor (drop encumbrance threshold by 2 in the heat, unless they have climate conditioning).

The Parashield Tower is 150 stories tall, with several additional underground levels worth of parking and utilities.  The first few levels are the public dispatch office; the closest thing Caracas has to a police station.  Floors 5-45 are residential levels.  With no room in the city for separate lodging, employees live in the lower levels of the tower.  Floors 46-100 are the core of the building.  The windows are reinforced and security is thickest, as this is where the training is conducted.  101-130 are the Administration offices and the uppermost levels are the penthouse suites for the execs and the rooftop helipad.

Each floor has a garden atrium near the central elevator shaft.  While at first glance, there appears to be no camera system, the birds that populate the garden are the cameras.  Each bird has a small ocular implant that records what they see and whenever they set down on a perch, the skinlink grafted into their body uploads any new footage to the security center.  The birds have free reign around the halls of their assigned floor, but each is equipped with a CAST rigging, so they can be piloted as a biodrone if the need arises.

Security is spread out over the central floors, training either personnel or creatures.  New recruits are being trained in martial arts and weapons on floors 46-70.  Floors 71-90 are for remote ops training.  Countless drones operate at any one time in this area, so much so that this part of the building constitutes a spam zone and will drown out most signals, making isolating a single signal very difficult.  While these drones are typically equipped with training weapons, they can be equipped with actual guns if an intrusion is detected.

Floors 91 – 100 are the animal training wards.  Each pen is a two story affair, with the ground floor housing the animals and the upper floors serving as an observation post.  All sorts of animals in various stages of domestication are here (Barghests, Hellhounds, several Awakened lizards and an aquatic tank on floors 95&96 for training ocean security.  The Cockatrices are kept on floor 93.

Security is less on the animal training wards, as they don’t want the animals to get too used to human presence, but the trainers are always present.

The keycard they were provided by Mr. Johnson is a plant.  Once used, the doors will open but an alarm will sound both on the observation deck and in the cage.  The cage alarm is a high frequency pulse, so unless a runner has high frequency hearing, they will hear nothing.

Once part way into the cage, they will see the nests in the corners of the pen, but the parents are awake and agitated, thanks to the high pitched squeal of the alarm and will descend on the runners.  There should be enough to present a challenge, since they are not armored creatures.  After a few minutes, security personnel will arrive and demand the runners surrender.

The runners should have a hard time escaping with security alerted to their presence and carrying two fragile eggs as cargo.

Should the team escape, they will call Mr. Johnson to tell him that they have retrieved the eggs.  He answers via the Matrix and tells him that he was called off on important business.  However, he has arranged for his friend to pay them.  He tells them of a warehouse on the wharf that he stores his rare telesma before shipping it out of Caracas.  They are to deliver the eggs to the warehouse for safe transit.  They are meeting man named Dusty and tell him that Alvarez sent them.

The warehouse is there and they do meet a man named Dusty.  When they drop the name Alvarez, he tells the team to follow him into the warehouse.  Workers are busy moving items around, readying skids for transport as they walk through.  The warehouse is dark but with a Perception Test (minimal lighting and partially obscured), they might be able to make out the Parashield logo on the back wall of the warehouse.  There are two crates set up with ample packing for the eggs and once the eggs are deposited, he motions to a crate a few meters away, telling him that their payment is inside.  He inspects the surface of the eggs for cracks as they head over to the crate.  If any runner lifts the lid of the crate they set off an explosive charge (10P, -2/m) and the workers stop moving crates around and pull out SMGs (HK-227X) and order the runners to surrender.  If any of them do anything but lay down their weapons, the Parashield officers open fire.  Dusty is a Grade 2 Initiate hermetic mage, who will quickly go invisible and summon a spirit to fight for him.

If the runners survive the battle in the warehouse, the hunt for Ruiz will happen in a later adventure.

Stats & Extras:

Cockatrice

B: 3, A: 5, R: 3, S: 4, C: 1, I: 3, L: 2, W: 2, Ess: 6, M: 4

Init = 6, IP: 1, Movement 15/70

Skills: Infiltration 3, Perception 2, Running 4, Shadowing 2, Unarmed Combat 4

Powers: Paralyzing Touch (Tail), Immunity (Own Touch), Natural Weapon (Talon, DV 2P, AP 0)

2 meters tall, with a 1 meter tail.  40kg in weight.  Yellow to orange plumage, with a red comb.  Blue legs and tail, with no feathers.

Paralyzing Touch – If a character comes into contact with the cockatrice, they put the creature’s Magic + Charisma against the Target’s Willpower.  If the wearer has armor on the point of contact, impact armor can be added to the resistance.  If the creature wins, the victim loses one point of Reaction per net success for (Magic) minutes.  If Reaction reaches 0 they are fully paralyzed and cannot move.  After the paralysis leaves, Reaction returns at a rate of 1 per minute.

>> Caracas, huh?  I don’t do humidity.
>> Burn

>> Screw the humidity, I make it policy not to mess with paracritters.  They’re harder to predict than the average metahuman.
>> The Green Man

>> Something about Mr. J seems off.  Liberating animals is all well and good, but doing altruistic work for Amazonia in a border city seems dodgy.  I mean, their magic is going to destroy Caracas, after all…
>> Dios

>> So the hiring party is from Amazonia… your point?
>> Gringo

>> He doesn’t act like an Amazonian.  Too many artificial fibers in his suit and not enough organics in his meal choices.  Something doesn’t add up.
>> Dios

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~ by 1nsomniac on February 24, 2011.

2 Responses to “The Frontier of Nature”

  1. >> Didn’t knew Seattle exported us to third-class countries. You think they gonna pay a tax ?
    >> Sweeper

    • >> There might be a few countries that’d pay for me to enter their country, so long as I was in chains…
      >> Burn

      >> Who you callin’ Third-class, gabacho?
      >> Gringo

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