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Mostly Flesh and Steel: The Ascendant Cult Part 2

Cultists

With the situation at the stuffer shack having been largely prevented, the first order of business was getting out of there before the security caught up to them. Sure the Runners were technically “heroes” in this situation, but if they got stuck being questioned or even shot at by security, it would waste precious time. This was especially important because Radical Edward had already got out of the place and into the cults getaway vehicle, which was on its way to their potential hideout. Evading the security was fairly straightforward, as Found mostly distracted them with a successful mob mind and the last guard failed to hit much of anything as they fled.

Luckily for the Runner’s they were able to get from the stuffer shack pretty quickly and easily lost any pursuers (they wrecked the car of the security before leaving). This meant they didn’t have a lot of trouble shadowing the cultists car with Radical Edward inside, which led them to a surprising location. Instead of heading somewhere outside of town, the industrial area or similar, the car instead went into the very heart of the richest downtown suburb in Shanghai. Eventually the cultist’s car pulled up outside an exclusive apartment block in a massive residential complex called “Swan Suites”. This building was owned by Wuxing, with a 3 story shopping mall dominating its lowest levels and almost 150 floors of high end residential apartments above it.

Naturally a cult hiding right in the middle of such a building couldn’t be possible… could it?

Radical Edward was led into the building by Denise, with one of the other cultists in tow and soon discovered that they weren’t trying to lose pursuit here: They owned an entire floor of the building. This made life for the other runners, Junior, Nanna and Found quite difficult, because this place had intense security. In order to follow Radical Edward, the other runners soon figured out that one of the larger penthouses above the cultists “floor” was for sale. After Nanna successfully bluffed their way past the front desk as interested buyers, they were soon heading up to the penthouse several floors above where Radical Edward was getting a crash course in the cultists habits. Most notably, Radical Edward discovered that Wu Shen was in direct communication with Denise and other cult cells – with a major attack being planned very soon.

Here I had created a challenging situation for myself to GM, because I had one player in a very different situation to the other three. So this meant I had to carefully juggle letting Radical Edward do interesting things and also ensure that I could get the other players into the overall situation. To do so, I basically flicked back and forth between the two scenes: Radical Edward pretending to be a cultist and the other three pretending to be buyers of the apartment. Overall this worked pretty well and I felt everyone got a fair amount of time to do something, without having to wait overly long.

In any event, Radical Edward started off pretending to be a cultist by investigating the floor some more and also getting something to eat. While eating, she was able to discover that the floor had quite a number of cultists on it – more than enough to make an outright fight difficult – and that the console Denise used to contact Wu Shen was also their general data storage point. Getting access to it would require them to at least make some kind of distraction and remove some of the guards who were always in the room. Exploring the rest of the floor, Radical Edward found their bathrooms where I put in a humorous “Don’t overfill the toilets with crap, it blocks them up and then we need to wait hours for the incompetent building maintenance to fix it!” sign. Oddly enough, this sign was enough to inspire a rather interesting solution: Overflow all of the toilets and make a huge mess.

Meanwhile, the other runners were investigating the penthouse and were being guided by a tired, but highly neurotic, elven real-estate agent. The apartment itself was extremely nice and had a price to match in several million nuyen, but the reason it hadn’t sold soon became very apparent when the runners could hear the upstairs “neighbours”. The loud and enthusiastic grunting coming down from a large ventilation shaft, which hadn’t been properly soundproofed yet, was one of the main reasons it hadn’t sold. Anything happening next to that pipe loudly reverberated through the apartment in a highly unpleasant manner. When Found asked how long it would take to fix, the answer of between six months and a year was probably why it wasn’t selling – oops.

None the less, they were able to convince the agent they might still be interested – much to her delight – but they needed some time to consult. Seeing she was tired and almost out of it, they then tricked her into going back home early and leaving them to the apartment themselves. Now with no interference, they began to plan their attack and it was here that I decided to link the two ongoing concepts: This ventilation shaft would also allow them to access the lower floor where Radical Edward was. This let them move some equipment and other things, including a spyfly drone, from the upper floor to the lower one. Of course the trick was they had to get someone to open the cleaning closest where the vent was on the cultists floor. Naturally, there was already a plan involving flooding an entire bathroom facility with poop – I just decided to encourage them further.

So one of the neat pieces of equipment that Data Trails added to the game was small dongles, which could be used in a commlink to make them a small “deck” in one aspect. In this case, Radical Edward had sneaked in her sleaze dongle and used it to break into the waste management system for the cultists floor. Then the moment happened where she flooded the entire bathroom with foul smelling poop, causing quite a consternation among the cultists (who didn’t want building management involved as it risks exposure). This drew a lot of them away and opened up the cleaning closet, to get most of Radical Edward’s equipment back and a helpful drone (one of Nanna’s spy flies).

Interestingly this vent didn’t get used again, because I had mentioned that the cultists floor and the penthouse actually had open balconies. We once again got another use of the now regular levitation spell, with Nanna (or at least her drone), Found and Junior levitating their way down to the cult’s floor. With Radical Edward already in the room and waiting, they started shooting after Found pulled off an impressive silence spell inside of the room. This meant that the runners had the complete advantage and were able to take most of the guards out without too much trouble, except for one. That one guard proved to be an issue in another way, because I had saved a twist for this particular part of the run as his hood got blown back. Nanna recognized him the second she saw his face: It was one of her sons!

If you’ve been following these play reports, this might be coming off as a bit “Out of left field” and therefore random, but a behind the scenes thing in this game was Nanna searching for two of her sons. Unfortunately due to the fact I am ending this game sooner than I originally planned and this player was moving to another game, I needed a way out for this character. Firstly I had to give a good reason why Nanna would stop working with the runners (and leave) and secondly, I wanted to have a satisfying ending moment for both the character and player. By far the best thing about doing this was how it forced the Runners to drastically change tactics and how they approached the fight, because killing him was not an option for Nanna.

Eventually through sheer persistence and some luck, they were able to disable Nanna’s son without doing significant damage – although the missing hand would be a permanent reminder of what happened. Radical Edward sliced through the security on the cultists files and stole a large amount of valuable data on their positions. This was just the break that Shanghai’s different megacorps security forces would need and what they had come for. Of course with more cultists on the way it was time to get the hell out of there and levitate was once again useful. They went back up to the apartment, got their stuff and then walked out like nothing had happened. Selling the data to their employer and getting paid felt even better, especially when combined with the civic satisfaction of having helped heavily dent the cults operations.

Minding, doesn’t this all sound like it was just a bit …. too easy?

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