Change of Venue (Shadowrun)

This adventure has been written as direct sequel to Instant Fame.

The runners are contacted by their fixer about an extraction job.  Mr Johnson is known to the fixer as a long time operator in the shadows, but hasn’t worked with him directly.  The fixer does nothing to hide from them that the Johnson is from Horizon.  If the runners are willing to work with him, Mr. Johnson would like to meet with them personally at the Evergreen Arboretum at 8PM.

Scene 1 – A Walk in the Park

The arboretum is mostly deserted in the late evening, but a handful of nature lovers still walk the park.  The air carries a slight chill in most of the park, but there are areas that are climate controlled in order to support non-indigenous plants.  One of the climate controlled areas is closed to foot traffic, yet it’s this part of the park that the runners are invited to.

Mr. Johnson is an athletic man of mixed heritage, but a trained eye can pick a mix of Latino and Native American features.  Casually dressed, yet still meticulous in his image, he offers his hand in greeting.  Whether any runner takes the offered hand or not, he smiles broadly and motions for them to walk with him.

“I thought a stroll through one of the more beautiful locations in this city would be a welcome change from a noisy nightclub or pretentious restaurant, wouldn’t you agree?”

Mr. Johnson will make small talk with whomever is walking with him and after a while, he finally gets down to business.  “To the matter at hand… I am associated with Pathfinder Multimedia.  It’s my job to locate underused talent and bring them into our family, where they can truly shine.  We’ve seen such an actor, being used for Amalgamated Studios’ woefully substandard reality programming.  Since they are going to be filming here in Seattle in a couple of days, I’d like you to tail them, learn their routines and once they wrap up filming, bring them into the Horizon family.  We’re willing to pay 7,000¥ apiece for this task.  Does this sound like something you can accomplish?”

Mr. Johnson is William Baldwin and does indeed work for Pathfinder.  Amalgamated got good ratings on its “GOD is Watching” show in Toronto.  Much of that was the spectacle that Michaela McCarthy provided on the show.  Amalgamated aims to use her in all their shows, in order to ride the ratings wave.  Pathfinder wants to nip it in the bud.

If the runners sign on, he smiles broadly.  “Superb!  You have a couple of days to prepare for their arrival.  Apparently, the actress is local to the area.  Her name is Michaela McCarthy and is apparently quite the handful.  However, professionals such as yourselves should have no issues containing a small time actor, I’m sure.”

Mr Johnson is willing to negotiate some on the net worth, distribution and resources for payment and will answer any questions he has the answers for.  Once he is no longer required, he will take his leave of them and let them plan their task.

Mr. Johnson/William Baldwin
Pathfinder Multimedia Executive
Possible Sources – Corporate Connections (especially Horizon), Fixers, Shadow Community

1/2 – One look at his smarmy face and business suit… the guy works for Horizon, hands down.
2/4 – The guy’s name is William Baldwin, a “casting department” executive.  He is known as a talent scout, but has black op leanings.
4/7 – He’s had several social modifications done, including cosmetic refinements, tailored pheromones and some other procedures Horizon has not disclosed.  He is a master of PR and spin doctoring.
7/11 – While it is believed that Baldwin has been with the company for years now, his history as a talent scout only stretches back about three years.  What capacity he served in before that has been buried in red tape.

Michaela McCarthy
Capo’s Daughter
Possible Sources – Mafia Contacts, Snohomish Underworld Figures, Party Scene
1/2 – Michaela is a curvy, blonde (not naturally) dwarf woman with a sense of entitlement and little common sense.  Her special breed of rich girl snobbery was recently showcased on the reality show, GOD is Watching.
2/4 – She is known to have her old man, Capo Colm McCarthy, wrapped around her finger.  She has spent thousands of his money on cosmetic surgery, lavish parties and jetsetting vacations.  The Capo plays that he has a lot of money, but she spends it nearly as fast as he can bring it in.
4/7 – Rumour has it that she has slept with many of her Dad’s loyal soldiers and those the Capo catches get promoted so he can watch them more closely.
7/11 – Since appearing on the trid and her continued casting in other Amalgamated shows, her party lifestyle has been starting to spiral out of control.  Her spending hasn’t slowed any but it isn’t the mob’s money any longer, which has gained a sigh of relief from her father.

Matrix:  The Matrix system here is pretty rudimentary and cameras are the most pervasive security measure, watching for people trying to steal telesma or threaten the life here.  There are no security aside from any Knight Errant in the area.  The Arboretum’s network is a low rating network that is only patrolled if an alarm is triggered.  The network gives them access to the camera feeds, irrigation system and other mostly-passive systems.

Scene 2 – Laying Out the Red Carpet

The runners have a couple of days before Michaela arrives back in Seattle.  The runners may take any number of approaches for preparing for her arrival.

They can easily determine that she lives in Snohomish and will be spending most of her time in the downtown core, during the filming of the Incredible Roadtrip.  Any who investigate Michaela may also learn about some of her favorite night spots from her partying years.

Security in the area that the filming is taking place has been stepped up as Amalgamated Studios gets set pieces set up in various locations around the downtown core (University of Washington, ACHE and Infinity).  Bribing members of the crew can reveal that the cast will be spending their evenings (Seattle Hilton), although Michaela will spend a lot of her off camera time out on the town.

This scene will require some improvisation, as the players could do as much, or as little planning as they feel they require.  If they are ambitious enough to break into Amalgamated Studios, they can learn about the route they aim to take (roughly) once filming begins:

Sea-Tac Airport → ACHE → Infinity → Hilton

Hilton → U-Dub → Everett Docks → Boat to Athabaskan Council

They can also potentially learn about the drones assigned to each team of competitors or the AoD tracker bugs that have placed on each racer, so the Studio can see where lost racers might be found.

Matrix:  The local Emerald City grid should be familiar to the runners.  The Amalgamated Studios Host however, should they try to gain access, is likely to be a new experience for them.  The host is rendered as a Hollywood Studio backlot, with large murals depicting everything from classic Westerns, to sci-fi planetscapes.  Images within these murals correspond to various aspects of the host’s systems (the sheriff’s office as security, moon rocks as coming projects, the studio itself as a list employees, etc).  IC here is rendered to show as studio security guards.

Host Rating: 7
Attack: 7, Sleaze 8, Data Processing 10, Firewall 9

Patrol IC and one spider in the system at all times.

Once the alarm has been raised, the IC activates as Probe, Scramble, Track, Jammer, Marker and Crash.  The system will always reboot Probe and Scramble if they are bricked, before moving down the line.

Scene 3 – Off the Planned Path

With whatever planning the runners have laid out, they have the couple of days of filming that Michaela’s in town for to actually have her slip from the radar.  Her flight sets down in Sea-Tac at 7:19am and she is out the door by 8 to set out on this leg of the race.

From when they touch down in Seattle, the contestants race for the downtown core, to the base of the Needle (approximately an hour for someone unfamiliar with the city).

The first challenge sees them having to collect items around the ACHE, based on clues provided at the base of the Space Needle.  The challenge comes from the sheer scope of the ACHE Shopping Complex, which is 300 square city blocks, spread over three stories of mall.  The ACHE is always very busy, but is also saturated in cameras and security.  Michaela gets to the ACHE for 8:42 and completes the challenge with her teammate at 12:13 (with a narrow lead over the nearest competition).

The drive to Infinity from the ACHE is only half an hour or so with traffic, likely less.  However, once they arrive, the challenge tells them that they can’t enter the club until 6pm and before they go inside, they need to pick up items from local shops in the area.  Michaela’s knowledge of the area allows them to gather their supplies quickly and even stop off at a local restaurant to get some food before returning to Infinity with plenty of time.

Once the doors open, the teams burst through the doors into the nightclub, to find the dance floor a dizzying array of laser lights, smoke effects and holographic images of celebrities, politicians and random people.  They have to find the image of the person who they feel goes with the items they collected.  However, the holograms don’t stay in one place forever, so if they don’t commit right away, they may have to search all over again.  Every wrong guess forces them to wait on departure for a given interval.  Michaela’s team starts right at 6 and finishes the challenge at 6:45 with a ten minute delay.

From Infinity, the teams have to race to the Hilton (approximately 20 minutes).  From there, they need to follow signs within the hotel to get up to the rooftop to overlook the city skyline where they check in for the day.  Michaela’s team is first, reaching the rooftop of the tall hotel by 7:36.

Once all teams have arrived at the Hilton rooftop, the participants are treated to a large dinner and assigned rooms within the Hilton.  The show wraps up shooting around 9 o’clock and all actors are expected to retire for the evening, but Michaela only stays in her room for about 45 minutes before slipping out and hitting the party scene.  While the filming drone doesn’t stay with her outside of filming hours, the AoD tracking device is still on her.  In time, security will notice she has left her room and dispatch Knight Errant to collect her, as per a clause in her contract.

She frequents a couple of nightclubs where her mob friends can watch over her before slipping away once again and going to less savory establishment to indulge in bad habits she has indulged in far more often since being out from under her father’s gaze.  After she’s done at the nightclubs, she finds a local drug den and binges on Novacoke and Bliss before renting a few joyboys for the night.  Around 2am, Knight Errant raid the building to make some token arrests and drag Michaela back to the Hilton before questions can be asked.

Still not fully down after her evening bender, Michaela is really off her game when the second day of filming begins at 9am.  The teams are expected to head northward toward University of Washington (half an hour with morning traffic) and perform in an academic challenge, bouncing around the University grounds, which Michaela struggles with, losing her lead from the day before and falling to the middle of the pack.  She and her teammate arrive at 9:35 and don’t leave until 10:52.

From U-Dub the teams race to the Everett Docks (just over an hour’s drive).  Once there, one of the team members has to bungee jump off a freight crane over Puget Sound to be allowed to board a freighter in the harbor.  Michaela sits this one out, still recovering from her bender.  Once they board the freighter, they have to search the various decks for parts of a key.  Once they have all the pieces, they have to figure out how to assemble it and use it to unlock a “smuggler’s hold” aboard the freighter (in honor of Seattle’s Shadowrunning reputation) where they will “stowaway” as the freighter makes its way to Anchorage.  Michaela’s team arrives at the docks for 12:08 and her teammate completes the bungee jump by 12:42.  As they search the freighter for the key components, they will find all the pieces and be stowed away by 2:57.

Once all the teams have arrived, the last team is sent home and the rest are assigned berths in the ship and given a tour of the essentials.  The ship leaves Seattle at 6pm.  If the runners haven’t stolen her away by this point, either the job is scrubbed, or they will have to try again in Alaska.

Once they have Michaela, they will need to contact Mr. Johnson and arrange a drop point for their prize.  If they didn’t learn of the AoD device on her, Knight Errant will be on them quickly.  The AoD tracker is built into a bracelet all contestants are wearing.  The bracelet is only to be broken in the case of a team resigning or being ejected from the show.  If they break the band outside of filming schedule, the production team will be immediately alerted to her absence and use astral tracking to find her.  The runners will need to take precautions to cover the abduction or risk a face off with the local police.  Plus, if Michaela is sober and carries her commlink, she doesn’t want her 15 minutes of fame ending early and will alert her father in a pinch.

If the runners haven’t covered their tracks well enough and Knight Errant crashes the handoff with Mr. Johnson, Horizon will be very displeased…

Matrix:  The local Emerald City grid should be familiar to the runners.  However, there are many ways the runners could go about conducting surveillance and capturing Michaela.  Some of the following hosts could be encountered, depending on where an intrepid decker might decide to make their move.

ACHE Shopping Complex – The host for the ACHE has been done up to look like the interior of the complex, with glitz and bright lights, perfume in the air and a bustling series of shoppers who always seem to get out of the browser’s way as they move about.  Subsystems are set up as shops along the hallway, with each system rendered as a different corner of the mall.  IC and spiders use a mall cop theme to their icons.

Host Rating: 6
Attack: 6, Sleaze 7, Data Processing 8, Firewall 9

Patrol IC and one spider in the system at all times.

Once the alarm has been raised, the IC activates as Probe, Scramble, Track, Jammer, Marker and Crash.  The system will always reboot Probe and Scramble if they are bricked, before moving down the line.

GridGuide – The traffic control network for the city is rendered like a long stretch of road, lit with neon green lights.  The user sits at an intersection, as if waiting for traffic lights to change.  Different systems correspond to different aspects of the system’s appearance.  Security are the buildings off the side of the road.  Traffic control systems are linked to the traffic signal.  Locating a specific vehicle on the system is through a manhole cover to a dizzying series of pipes, where liquid metal pulses move through the pipes, reflecting each vehicle.  Spiders manifest as police cars whereas IC sees liquid metal seep up from the road and take on shapes depending on the type of IC.

Host Rating: 9
Attack: 11, Sleaze 9, Data Processing 10, Firewall 12

Patrol IC and two spiders in the system at all times, one in traffic control and the other in the command paths.

Once the alarm has been raised, the IC activates as Probe, Scramble, Killer, Binder, Acid, Blaster, Marker and Sparky.  The system will always continue moving down the line, rather than rebooting previous IC.  Two additional spiders will log in if the battle drags on.

>> Hey, I love this show!  Some of the eating challenges are really gross though…
>> Watcher

>> This may be bottom-rung trid we’re talking about here, but this is still a highly visible extraction.  If you can get rid of the pervasive camera presence and exploit the black out, avoiding becoming a celebrity yourself, you’ll live longer.
>> Wraith

>> These damned travelling shows are ramshackle productions that need to roll in and out of town pretty quickly.  They will need extra hands for setup and tear down… a low-key way to get eyes on the areas they’ll be filming, if you’re not afraid of a little physical labour.  You’re welcome.
>> Havik

~ by 1nsomniac on January 8, 2018.

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