Star of Tha’lus Trilogy – (Shadowrun) Wayward Power

This is the second part of the Star of Tha’lus Trilogy.  This occurs after the gemstone was snatched by an unseen thief in the 7th Sea portion of the adventure.

The runners are contacted by their usual fixer for a retrieval job from a new Mr. Johnson.  A small independent businessman, he wants to meet the runners personally for the meet and for the delivery once they get his item back.  The meet is at his shop, “The Mystical Menagerie” after business hours wrap up at 10PM.  Use the back door.

“The Mystical Menagerie” is a little hole-in-the-wall store that specializes in magical fetishes and ritual components.  Most of his magical components are animal derived, though a portion of his store is devoted to herbal goods as well.  If the runners try to knock on the front door, they get no answer, but a quick knock on the back door gets promptly answered and they are ushered into the cluttered storeroom.  A workstation has been set up in the back for preparation of magical goods.  Several insect husks lay scattered on the surface, where he had been crushing them into a fine powder.

“Thank you for coming.  As you can probably see, my operation is a little small presently.  So the fact that some thief made off with the most valuable artifact in my collection stings a little.  It was scheduled to be delivered here from a European dealer, but it was intercepted on route.  I need you to figure out who stole my cargo and get it back.”

The Johnson is lying.  The artifact never actually belonged to him in the first place, nor did it come from a European dealer.  He was about to undertake an astral quest to get the artifact, when a rival mage beat him to it.  He wants the rival mage taken out and the artifact delivered unto him.

Mr. Johnson isn’t overly forthcoming with information.  He won’t tell the runners who was carrying his goods (illegal smuggler outfit and he doesn’t want to implicate himself in the shipment of restricted goods) and tells them there was no footage of the theft, as it was conducted via the metaplanes (a mage with suitable knowledge of the metaplanes know that this stretches the bounds of what is possible via an astral quest).  Despite the seeming lack of information, if the runners sign on, he will pay them 10,000¥ apiece for the work.  He also provides them a sketch of the artifact in question.

The Star of Tha'lus

With what little information the runners have, they will need to rely heavily on legwork.  Fortunately, not many jobs advertise for astral quests and tracking down local jobs of that nature is a short list.  They find a recruitment for an astral retrieval from a week ago.  The ad has been highlighted as a job that went sideways and the surviving runners are now in hiding.  Further investigation can lead them to the team’s fixer (see Legwork).

The team consisted of five runners:  Tarot (Face), Xiao (Martial Artist/Infiltration Expert), Carnage (Chaos Mage), JD (Hacker) and Pierce (Weapon Specialist).  Tarot and Carnage were killed on the job and their employer was also among those thought killed.  They are one of BotchJob’s crew.  BotchJob is a relatively new fixer to Seattle, named after the grotesque display that is his cyberskull.  Rumour has it that the Vory smashed his skull in after he failed to pay off debts.  He didn’t die however, and used the money he was to pay the Vory to restructure his skull.  He only had enough to cover roughly half of his face in skin.  Whether the runners strong arm the fixer ( he doesn’t shake easily, all things considered) or simply offer him cash to learn the whereabouts of the other team.  They can either try to arrange a meeting with Xiao, or show-up unannounced.

Xiao and his crew are not pleased with how things have gone down.  They’re down two team members and never got paid for the job.  Finding out that another runner team is looing for them does not set them at ease any.  If the runners arrange for a meeting, they set up a meet in the outskirts of Snohomish, where it meets up with Redmond.  The area is spartan, providing no real cover save for the woods behind Xiao.  Pierce is up on a hunter’s perch, watching over Xiao’s shoulder and JD has erected temporary turrets (little more than remote-operated tripods with assault rifles) along the treeline.  Should the runners behave hostile, they will cover Xiao as he makes his way into the woods.  If the runners sneak up on them, they are holed up in an abandoned farmstead not far from a copse of woods.

Whether the team gets pacified or the team gets the information from them diplomatically, they learn about the astral quest, how it was a gruelling challenge and when Mr. Johnson grabbed the artifact he was after, there was some form of magical backlash that killed off their Mage and Face.  When they went to meet Mr. Johnson, they found a charred corpse, freshly torched.  It was the right place, metatype and time of death, so they assumed that their employer had been cooked.  They will willingly give up the location of Mr. J’s body.  If the runners have knowledge in forensics (or can call upon someone who does), or use assensing to detect traces of magical backlash, they can quickly ascertain that this was not Mr. Johnson, as the body was doused in an accelerant and burned alive.

The office Mr. Johnson used was in an affluent portion of Bellevue and while he made a passable attempt to fake his death, studying the cameras, traffic or even talking to the locals will point the runners in the direction Mr. Johnson went.  If they managed to get a picture of Mr. Johnson’s face from Xiao, they will put together a story that shows him heading into Redmond.  Searching for his face on the Matrix reveals that he is Peter Sorenson, the foreman of an Ares run facility in the Barrens.

The facility is little more than a sweatshop that cranks out mechanical components used in several of Ares products.  The working conditions are deplorable, but those who reside in the Barrens wouldn’t know any better.  The facility layout is simplistic, the space being vastly open with numerous workstations covered in tools and raw components for whatever they’re building at the time.  Security is minimal and what is there is low-tech (anything expensive would just get lifted by the locals).  Assuming the runners can bypass the security on the outside, the inside seems open.  The workers barely look up from their tasks, as the runners move across the room toward the foreman’s office.

Inside the office is the other team’s Johnson, working away at his desk.  When the runners enter, he looks up and asks them if they’re looking for work.  If they confront him about the artifact, at first he plays ignorant but eventually he smiles and says, “It is none of your concern anymore, now that my Master possesses it.”

The moment the runners show aggression toward the foreman, half of the workforce rises from their stations synchronously and move toward the team.  The foreman is a roach shaman and he has taken many of his employees and turned them into insects.  The runners can try to kill them, but their best option is likely a fighting withdrawal.

Upon exiting the warehouse, the buildings nearby show signs of life as true form roaches emerge from a nearby building to prevent their escape.  Inside the building resides a Mother Spirit who is taking control of the nest (especially if the runners killed the shaman).  The Mother clutches the artifact in one of her hands.  Whether the runners opt to kill the Mother or simply try and sever the limb that holds the objective is up to them.  All stats for Insects are on pg 152-154 of Street Magic)

Delivering the artifact to Mr. Johnson may have left their minds (especially if the team’s mage assenses the gem and learns that among its unusual properties, it serves as a summoning focus for insect mages).  If they do decide to deliver it, their employer will be quite happy.  He is not as skilled at hiding his affiliations however and if the mage checks their employer upon receipt of the artifact, they can see that he is a fledgling Wasp Mage.  There will be no negative repercussions for killing Mr. J given his status as an insect mage.

If the runners destroy the gemstone at any point, it explodes in a blinding flash of energy that twists the minds of anyone nearby.  They must make a Composure (3) Test to avoid going berserk and attempting to kill anyone nearby for several rounds.  If they do not destroy the gemstone, they will find out later that the artifact spontaneously vanished, taking the building with it when it disappeared.

Legwork

Mr. Johnson
Threshold:  Magic, Matrix and Local Contacts Only – 3
0 – I have no idea…
1 – His name is Arnold Olna.  He’s a small time talismonger and low level mage.
2 – He runs a small shop in Seattle, called The Mystical Menagerie.  He specializes in Enchanting and the production of magical goods.
3 – Rumour is that he is a Black Mage and hopes to make his fate using the shop as his base of operations.
5 – Recently, he went to Africa in quest of some rare materials and came back considerably more powerful than when he left.  He has expanded his shop’s repertoire to include foci and his fortunes seem to be on the rise.

Local Astral Quest Jobs
The local Shadow networks don’t show many astral quest jobs, so with the right contacts, the information isn’t difficult to track down.
Threshold:  Matrix – 1
0 – Not my area of expertise, chummer.
1 – There was a job that was posted on ShadowSea that requested a runners to accompany a mage in some kind of astral retrieval.
2 – The job was quickly listed as a job that went sideways.  It was run by Tarot’s crew and they sound like they lost a few of their own.
3 – Tarot and his crew ran with some new fixer in town.  Some freakshow named BotchJob…

BotchJob
Threshold:  Underworld – 2, Matrix – 2
0 – Who the hell is that?!
1 – Recently began working as a fixer in town a year or so ago.  Rumour has it he worked in Alaska before that.
2 – His handle comes from the freaky cyberskull his got going on.  Vory pulverized the one he was born with and left him for dead.  Tough fucker lived though, but couldn’t afford a full skin sheath for the cybernetic replacement.  By the time he could, his appearance was his calling card.
3 – Works out of the Hole in the Wall in Renton.  He takes on sloppy crews and whips them into shape.
5 – It seems the Vory are taking a renewed interest in BotchJob.  He was made an example of, but he lived and that reflects poorly on the Vory.  Money won’t settle this score at this point…

Tarot’s Crew
Threshold:  Underworld – 2, Matrix – 2
0 – You want a psychic reading or something?
1 – New band of runners on the up-and-coming list.  Five members on the team and they are styling themselves as a Swiss Army Knife runner team.
2 – Tarot is the face.  Good looking human with lots of social skills.  His crew consist of Xiao, an infiltration expert out of Shaanxi, Carnage a Chaos Mage out of England…elf I think.  Pierce is their merc…some freelance hard-ass out of Sarajevo.  JD is their wildcard… a hacker with a slight drinking problem, though he is a sharp mind when they can keep him off the sauce.
3 – Sounds like their last job went wrong and they lost a few of their members.  Might have also got their Johnson geeked.  They’ve been laying low since.
5 – JD’s icon has been seen lurking around the Snohomish grid, doing clean-up duty for the team whenever they appear in the public sphere.

>> All this for a rock with a bug in it?  So what’s the deal with this thing?
>> Burn

>> Rumour has it that it’s a potent focus of some variety or another, but that’s all I’ve heard are rumours.  Don’t know of anyone that has actually seen this thing.
>> Hex

>> Some things should remain buried.  This stone is one of them.
>> Orange Queen

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~ by 1nsomniac on April 6, 2012.

2 Responses to “Star of Tha’lus Trilogy – (Shadowrun) Wayward Power”

  1. >> Haven’t seen you around before, ‘Orange Queen’. Your stone sure exhumed a lot of attention in its wake. Trying to scare people will just make the whole thing too interesting to pass.
    >> Sweeper

  2. >> Make no mistake, Sweeper… this stone is certainly not mine. Though your suggestion is sound, it would have garnered interest with or without my words. Thankfully, it won’t remain for long.
    >> Orange Queen

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