Shadowrun – The Train Job
Koh was sat at home trying to work out how to make her latest plan come together when she got a call from somebody she hadn’t heard from in a long while. Jeff, a hacker who helped out on an old run. Apparently he had a job and needed some specialist help to pull it off.
The address given by Jeff was a club called the Blue Oyster. A nice place downtown with a dress code and a decent bar. When the team got in to the bar staff pointed everybody upstairs. Arthur amazes by wearing only his least stained shirt and a suspiciously stiff jacket.
Up there the team met Ms Johnson, and she cheerfully announced that the drinks were on her. Much to the delight of the mages who proceed to pickle themselves alive.
The group ended up agreeing to the deal to extract a geneticist called Doctor Mitje Lembik (originally from UCAS who was working on some drek-hot new product for his corporate overlords Evo) from an Evo express freight train travelling from Scotsprawl down to London.
The Johnson agreed to 2000 up front and expenses, plus 10,000 each on completion. A pretty good price for a simple co-operative extraction. Things never go well when they pay is good and the job looks simple.
Jeff did most of the research, meeting up with train spotters in a VR chatroom, where he dug up a dying breed of nerd: the Train Spotter. The one he spoke to happened to know about the route and the trains that use is. From him we got a map of the network, signal box locations and an array of data about the train layout.
After a bit of Matrix research, Jeff found out that it has no control rigger on board, only 4 normal guards who normally sit in the engine room. Easy pickings.
There was a flaming argument about who is driving and who would take Arthur with them. Koh eventually persuaded Shandor that Arthur and Milo can share the back seat, because Milo didn’t know any better and it meant Jeff could ride shotgun with her whilst Crimson and Koh took Koh’s car. Anyway the long drive up to the edge of Scotsprawl was long and tedious but thankfully auto-drive meant that people could immerse themselves in the matrix and catch up on their latest shows.
So Jeff did his magic on the local signal box, spoofing the signal so that it looked like there was a fault with the line up ahead and the train stopped on time obligingly beneath an old dilapidated bridge, giving us plenty of space to move.
Jeff and Koh got on at the front, Jeff hacked the engine door, Koh threw in a flashbang and a neuro-stun grenade to take out the guards, but one had gone further forward and manually starts the train again, which rapidly begins picking up speed.
Milo used a watcher spirit to find where the Doctor was and along with Crimson, Arthur and Shandor, they climbed on at the rear of the train, intending to make their way forward. Whilst Milo looked at his Watcher spirit, he spoted the huge bulk of a storm-spirit overhead, which he quickly realized was hiding a helicopter as several figures in full body-armour abseil out and landed on the rear-most pallet of the train.
There was a Troll with a Panther Assault Cannon (frag!), somebody with a sniper rifle (double frag), a couple of humans with assault weapons and the helicopter seemed staffed with a combat-rigger and a mage. Plus the aforementioned air spirit that was still hanging around. Jeff pinged them as Shiawase, presumably they were also after the good Doctor and are coming to get him armed to the teeth.
In the first flurry Crimson took a quick punch at the nearest guard, but their armour reduced the normally irresistible blow down to just a scratch. Shandor tried some fancy shooting, but even with Explosive ammo she didn’t do much more than inconveniencing them as she only had a pair of pistols. Two humans tried and duke it out with Crimson, attempting to kick her off the train, without success. The sniper tried to retaliate against Shandor, but instead buried a bullet in the steel car of the train. However the Troll managed to hit her straight on. As she was only wearing a cheap lined coat against the light anti-tank weapon she got thrown back into the train bleeding horrifically. Out of the fight for the moment.
Meanwhile at the front. Koh placed a high explosive grenade by the train coupling and trying to blow the linkage between the front and rear of the train. Jeff hacked the turret controls on the train, which turned out to be little more than glorified BB guns and missed our attackers anyway.
Then Arthur did one of those things that reminds us about why we have him around. After a bit of muttering about lines of sight, he threw a powerful lightning bolt at the helicopter and the engines died, the rotors slowing and the body of the aircraft started falling onto the last carriage of the train.
Crimson and her two attackers traded blows, with Crimson catching several good punches that were largely absorbed by the armour-gel of the full body armour they were wearing. She tried to keep bodies between herself and the assault cannon and sniper rifle. The troll with the assault cannon decided to join in the melee after Crimson took down the first of the attackers but the sniper stayed back and landed a powerful shot against Crimson.
The Helicopter was being lifted up by the air elemental.
Meanwhile Jeff fell back into VR and took turns between hacking a roto-drone that was making its way up the front of the train and sniping with the trains turret system.
Arthur repeated his lightning bolt as soon as the Helicopter started to look like it was rebooting, keeping it out of commission and the air spirit busy trying to keep it in the air.
Milo, still invisible tried to stun the troll with little success. Then changing tactics, he went to dismiss the air spirit. It didn’t vanish, but there was definitely some effect, the mage probably had to spend some time re-enforcing it.
Koh ran forward as the grenade went off, (but it did not actually sever the train coupling) and prepared to snipe at the troll, only to find that the sniper spotted her with thermographics and put an enormous dent in the front of the train car. The second shot however penetrated. And buried its self in the Urban Explorer jumpsuit, knocking the wind out of her. She opened the door and threw a dart at the troll, burying it in a spot in his jugular just underneath the helmet, causing him to go down.
By now Crimson, despite having been shot by the Sniper and having taken a few nasty blows from the other two, had managed to kick one backward and throw him into a fast-moving signal box and head-butted the other, cracking his helmet which allowed her to use him as a shield to approach the sniper, who she roundhouse kicked off the train.
The helicopter began to pull back and Jeff enjoyed playing with his new roto drone.
The team cleaned up the train and took the gear from the two remaining Shiawase goons that didn’t get ejected early. (A Panzer Assault cannon, a HK XM30 with a bunch of mini-grenades, 2 Shiawase comm-links and a couple of suits of full body armour, minus 1 helmet.
We cut the rear car of the train loose with the Shiawase goons on it and reconvened back in the carriage with the stasis tube. Unfortunately the doctor was nowhere to be found, only his 12 year old son Jan Lembik, who had a holographic play-back device with him.
The hologram said that the doctor had been forced to change his plans and was by this point, most likely dead. He wanted his son to be transported to his aunt in the UCAS where he would be safe, as Evo and other corporations would like to vivisect Jan for the secrets of his father’s research. He promised £5,000 each in an escrow account if we delivered the boy safely.
We discussed this and contacted Ms. Johnson telling her about the boy and his fathers wish for him to go to UCAS, but not mentioning anything about the boy having trade secrets in his blood.
However Ms. Johnson already knew about it, and asked for the boy to be turned over. The team agreed that although it was bad to renege on a job, Ms Johnson wasn’t able to make any promises to the boys well-being.
So we cut our losses. In the hopes of dissuading Ms Johnson from revenge we decided to give them a blood sample from the boy, which we delivered by roto drone, but then we drove the boy straight up to Newcastle where there was a UCAS embassy.
A consular officer spoke to us and reassured us that the boy would be safely returned home, Nation states may also be bastards, but they tend to look unfavourably on the vivisection of their citizen’s children.
The team drove back down home to BoPoMet and lay low for a while not wanting to present a target for revenge.
Koh went so far as to abandon her former home and move out ahead of schedule.
In the news, still no progress on the Urban Brawl League, however there was a mass Matrix black-out over Western Europe, and a signal was identified in the aftermath, a powerful one pointing to Proxima Centauri.
Writeup by Crimson
The train job
A month has passed, most of which Crimson has spent training hard. Her defeat, almost six weeks ago, still annoyed her and she was determined to regain top spot. That left little time for anything else but she had managed to talk to some people about rolling out her Heritage line of “stylish dress for the discerning safety-conscious lady”, which had gone encouragingly well.
She had made little headway with Scott, mostly consisting of casual flirting on her way in and out of her building. Still, she was at least sure that he was interested and she would have to do something about the situation once her rematch was out of the way, if he didn’t make a move before then.
Those are her plans when Jeff calls with a potential job.
“I might have a job. There’s a scientist who’s interested in defecting. We’ll have to go and grab him” the orc hacker tells Crimson and the other runners in the conference call.
“Might be ok. Where and when are we meeting the Johnson?” Crimson asks.
“The Blue Lamp. 8 tonight.”
“Alright. See you all there.” Crimson disconnects before returning to pummel the punching bag. Eventually, she finishes off her training, heads to shower and puts on her evening wear suitable for the Blue Lamp, a classy establishment in the Tri-Town. She is a bit worried about Arthur being let in but Johnsons can usually smooth over hitches like that.
She calls a cab and is at the Blue Lamp just after 7. She likes to take in the ambience of the meeting place before the actual meeting. One by one, her fellow runners trickle in, Shandor first, followed by Koh, Milo and Jeff and, finally, Arthur.
The dwarf has actually made an effort. He is wearing his other shirt and has a bowler hat perched on his head at a jaunty angle.
“The Johnson party?” the barman guesses, looking at the six runners.
“That’s us” Arthur tells him cheerily.
“Upstairs, room two” the man says and points up a flight of stairs on the right-hand side of the long bar.
The group files through the door indicated by the barman, climbs the stairs and enters the room with the number two on the door.
On one of the padded seats inside, they see an attractive brunette in her late twenties, by Crimson’s estimation.
“Ms. Johnson?” Jeff inquires “My contact tells me you might have a corporate extraction job for us.”
“That’s right” Ms. Johnson replies in a soft voice “please, won’t you sit down” she gestures at the red seats around the table. “Can I offer you anything to drink?”
Arthur’s eyes light up “That bottle of Scotch will do nicely, thanks.”
“Scotch” Milo concurs.
Jeff, Shandor and Koh order a beer and Crimson receives a raised eyebrow when she asks for a green tea, but the bartender appears soon after with their orders. Arthur grumbles slightly when the man sets down a glass instead of the bottle but knocks it back happily.
After settling down, Ms. Johnson appraises each of the six, then starts talking. “This is Dr. Lembek” a holographic image of a man in his late thirties appears above the table, “a geneticist working for the Evo Corporation. He has indicated a desire to defect to my employers. Evo are not going to let this happen, so Dr. Lembek has arranged to have himself shipped in cryo storage from the secure facility in Killiecrankie by train to London.”
“So what I think you’re trying to say is that we are going to have to board the train somewhere along the line, find the crate containing the doctor, grab it and hop off the train.” Crimson sums up the job.
“More or less. The details I will leave to you. I will arrange for extraction of the target from the rendezvous point designated by you. Any questions?”
“Yeah. When does this train leave?” Milo asks.
“On midnight, four days from now.”
“Ok. Let’s talk payment then.” Crimson says.
“I have been authorised to pay you 60,000 nuquid.”
“Plus expenses? Within reason, of course.”
Ms. Johnson studies Crimson for a moment while she thinks about it “I can pay 2000 nuquid up front, each.”
“Ms. Johnson, you’ve got yourself a deal” Crimson tells her after glancing at her fellow runners.
“Excellent, I will send you all the relevant information as well as your advance. I hope to hear from you soon” Ms. Johnson says as she rises to leave the room.
“What’s the plan then?” Shandor asks once their employer has left.
“The way I see it, we need to stop the train somewhere along the line, take out security, find the crate, grab it, phone Johnson and be away before anyone works out what’s going on.” Crimson sketches out the outlines of the plan.
“Right. I’ll get details on the train, line infrastructure, corporate security and everything else.” Jeff says.
“Good. Let us know if you need a hand with anything. Once we get the info we can start fleshing our plan out.” Nods from the other five.
“I’ll see you when we’ve got something to go on” Crimson says and leaves the Blue Lamp, calls a cab and heads home.
Two days later, Jeff alls them together once more to update them on his findings and to formulate a plan of action.
“This is what I’ve managed to dig up” he starts after everyone has assembled in the bar Jeff suggested “in a train enthusiast’s chatroom” he adds with a light shudder.
“Wow. I can feel my street cred leeching away just hearing this” Crimson remarks.
Jeff shoots her a look “Anyway, this is the track north of Newcastle” he brings up a schematic on his ‘link “near Alnwick, where the train passes underneath a bridge, handily near a signal box. I can hack that, spoof a faulty signal, we board the train, grab the doc and are out of there in two minutes.”
“Good work” Crimson tells him “did you manage to get details on the train and what kind of security they have on board?”
“Of course. I also got the cargo manifest. Apart from the doc, the train is transporting mostly medical hardware parts, so the security team is a standard four man squad with no special armour or other kit. The train itself has several turrets on rails around the first six carriages, but I reckon I can hack them, as well.”
“I can deal with the security team if you can open the maglocks for me here” Koh points at the front of the train.
“No problem” the orc hacker assures her.
“Anything else we should be aware of?” Crimson asks him.
“Nothing that I could dig up. Think I did a pretty thorough job, so anything I’ve missed is likely to be super secret.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” she says dismissively.
“Just leaves the question of how we’re gonna get up there” Shandor puts in “I got my cruiser and Koh’s got her car. So who gets Arthur?” she glances at the dwarf who is happily pouring glass after glass of paint stripping liquor down his throat.
“I call shotgun on Koh’s car” Crimson says quickly “hasn’t your cruiser got a cage?”
“He can ride in back then.”
Arthur is about to object when another glass appears in front of him.
“We have a plan” Koh observes. “Meet you at yours tomorrow at two.”
“Sounds good.” Crimson says, gets up and heads home.
She uses the remaining day to buy some gecko tape gloves, useful on a moving train and talks to her Heritage Line tailor about incorporating a pair into her battle dress. He promises her that he will come up with something in two days’ time.
Before that, Koh pulls up outside at the agreed upon time and the elven cousins drive north in convoy with Shandor’s ex-police cruiser. The drive is dull. They spend most of their time swapping mild insults and sniping at each other, but are glad they are not in the cruiser when they receive updates from Shandor about how Milo and Arthur have started a drinking contest.
A seemingly endless drive later, they arrive in Newcastle where they swipe a battered old van to travel to the bridge at Alnwick.
Once there, Jeff gets to work on the signal box and the approaching train rolls to a slow halt. Crimson, Arthur, Milo and Arthur jump onto the open top cargo carriages at the rear while Jeff opens the door between engine and first car for Koh, who lobs in two grenades before slamming the door shut.
“Flashbang and neuro-stun” she says over the ‘link “security team is down. Let’s get the doc. What the…?” she exclaims as the train starts moving.
“Nice work on the signal box” an unknown voice comes over the comm..
“Fuck” Jeff swears “someone else has got control. Jesus. Shiawase. What the hell are they up to?”
Milo has been looking at the space above the train, the suddenly turns invisible “We’ve got incoming.”
He is not wrong. An air elemental materialises and draws back from the helicopter it was cloaking, which takes position above the last car and releases four rappelling lines.
Three men, two in full body armour carrying assault rifles, a third in camouflage gear and a sniper rifle and a troll carrying a panther assault cannon rappel down and take position.
Crimson swears and runs at the first of the gunmen. She kicks him in the knee and uppercuts him under the chin. His armour absorbs most of the blows but he grunts in pain before swinging his assault rifle like a club. Crimson ducks and recovers in time to block the second man’s fist coming at her head. She feels an invasive presence in her mind and recognises a mage’s attempt to attack her mentally and tries to get out of the helicopter’s line of sight.
Two gunshots ring out behind her as Shandor opens up but her explosive rounds explode harmlessly on the heavy armour.
The troll retaliates with his assault cannon and Crimson loses sight of Shandor as one of the huge shells punches through her lined coat..
Arthur lets fly with a lightning bolt at the helicopter. Electricity plays over its surface as it spirals out of control.
Unwilling to fire into the melee between Crimson and his two colleagues, the troll shoulders his assault cannon and lumbers over to help the two men. He is too late for one of them as Crimson catches the first man’s arm and flips him off the train. As he cartwheels off the train he smashes and destroys a signal control box.
She turns to engage her other two assailants when her shoulder explodes in pain where the sniper’s bullet catches her and almost spins her around completely. The troll takes advantage of this opening, catching her in the ribs on the left side. She feels at least two of them crack before knocking the second gunman’s helmet off, then grabs him by the front of his jacket and headbutts him until he goes limp. Keeping the limp form between herself and the sniper, she turns to the troll, just in time to see a small dart embed itself in his neck.
“Oh for…” is all he has time for before Koh’s neurostun toxin takes him out.
Crimson drops the unconscious man and accelerates at the sniper.
“You ruined my dress you dick” she tells him and feints low. He jumps over the feint and she catches him in the chest with the flat of her hand of her uninjured arm powerfully enough to hurl him off the train.
“Team compromised” the unknown voice says “pull out.” The helicopter does exactly that and leaves the train.
“Everybody ok?” Crimson asks
“Kinda” Koh replies “Shandor’s down and in a bad way but she’ll live. Arthur’s passed out from drain and I took a bullet from the sniper. The carriage wall stopped most of it though. How about you?”
“A few cracked ribs and a bullet in my shoulder. And he fucked up my outfit.”
Koh laughs. “Just need to find the doc.”
“My watcher spirit’s found him” Milo says “he’s in the third car.”
The runners head to the third car and find the cryo crate.
“Best make sure he’s actually in there” Jeff says and opens the crate.
“What the…” Arthur says “That’s not the doc.”
It isn’t. Inside is a boy of about twelve years old and a holovid projector.
“Oh for…” Jeff says and presses the PLAY button.
An image of Dr. Lembek appears. “I apologise for the subterfuge, but circumstances have changed since I put the plan for my extraction into action. I guess that by the time you receive this I will have been killed. I therefore implore you to see my son, Jan, to safety. Within him, he carries the results of my work and I fear that, should Evo or anyone else get their hands on him they will vivisect him. I have authorised a payment of 30,000 nuquid to be paid to you if and when Jan safely reaches his aunt in UCAS. I hate to leave him in the hands of strangers but hope that you will see him safe.”
“Dammit. What do we do?” Arthur asks.
“Guess we need to call Johnson and let her know what’s what, ideally without the bit about the kid holding trade secrets. It’s not our fault their intel was wrong. We’ve carried the job out as required.” Crimson replies.
Jeff is already dialling the number Johnson gave them.
“Do you have him?” Ms. Jonson wants to know.
“There have been complications” Crimson tells her “Play the tape please, Jeff.”
The orc does as asked and plays a heavily edited version omitting the child’s part in his father’s research.
“I will need to contact my employers” Johnson says after she has taken it all in.
Not long after she returns the call. “Since this is not Doctor Lembek, I can offer you 7,500 nuquid each in return for the boy.”
Crimson swears under her breath. Johnson knows about the boy. “No can do Ms. Johnson. That was not part of our contract, handing over children. We can get you a tissue sample. Good enough?”
“No, that is not acceptable.”
“Tough. That’s the deal.” Crimson breaks the connection. Turning to her team she says “Let’s get him to the UCAS embassy in Newcastle. He’ll be safe there. Unless you think we should hand him over to Johnson to do god knows what with him?”
Nobody thinks that. Shandor and Koh summon their vehicles via the grid and they are on their way to Newcastle.
There are a few anxious looks as a police siren comes towards them but it hares past in the other direction and they arrive at the UCAS embassy, a heavily fortified compound in the more salubrious part of the city.
Crimson walks up to the intercom and presses the buzzer.
“UCAS embassy.” A voice says.
“Hi there. We’d like to talk to someone about repatriating one of your citizens.”
“A minor.” Koh adds to Crimson’s introduction.
“Just a moment. Please leave all weapons with your vehicle.”
The heavy gates swing open and they are met by two competent-looking heavies in expensive suits.
“This way please” one of them says and leads the way into a waiting room. One wall is a made of dark glass, a one-way mirror.
“Can you give this to the ambassador, please?” Jeff hands the guard the holovid projector “it will explain a lot.”
The heavy looks at it and leaves the room.
Before too long the room behind the glass lights up. A man in a very expensive-looking suit stands there studying the runners. He is holding the projector.
“This is concerning” he nods at the projector “may I ask how you got involved in this matter?”
“We are retrieval specialists” Crimson tells him form the chair into which she has collapsed “hired by Doctor Lembek’s prospective new employers to extract him. As you can see, the plan changed, so we thought we had best bring the boy to you.”
The man nods thoughtfully “I see. The boy is not a full UCAS citizen, but considering the circumstances I am sure we can make an exception. You did the right thing bringing him here. The UCAS does not forget its friends. If that is all, I shall have my men escort you out.”
The glass turns black again, the door to the waiting room and the two guards politely but firmly show them the way out.
Crimson sleeps most of the way home. She has never been shot before, shot at many times but never shot, and the experience and the loss of blood have left her tired. Back in the PoBoMet, Koh drops her off at the Henderton Foundation Clinic, where Crimson hopes Dr Sheresh can patch her up.
The elven doctor is in and only raises an eyebrow when Crimson tells her why she is here. Sheresh knows better than to ask too many questions and gets to work on Crimson’s shoulder. Less than an hour later, Crimson arrives back at her apartment building, her right arm in a sling with instructions to rest it for at least a week, of not two.
She enters the building and is greeted by Scott coming out of his booth. His greeting is caught short when he sees her arm.
“Are you alright Miss Bl…, Claire?” he corrects himself. She has told him many times to address her by her first name.
“I’ll be alright, thanks Scott. Wrong time, wrong place is all. The place was the space a bullet was travelling through at that particular time” she looks at him and the concern in his brown eyes.
“How long have you been working here, Scott?” she asks.
“About three months. Why?”
“Just curious. There’s something else I’ve been meaning to ask you for a while and today has taught me I can’t keep putting these things off.”
“When does your shift end?”
He checks his watch. “About two hours” thoroughly confused now “Why?” he asks again.
“I’ve had a long hard day and think I may need a drink. I’ll be in Jethro’s in about, say, two hours, if you’d like to join me” she gestures at the bar down the road.
“Oh, yeah, that’d be great” the young man says, thrown by her sudden direct approach.
“Awesome” Crimson says brightly “see you then.”
She heads to her penthouse apartment and has a long shower before changing into something less blood and sweat stained and makes her way to the bar to meet Scott the security guard. She has not been waiting long when he enters and walks over to where she is sitting. His blue uniform looks good on him, she decides, even though she tends to stay clear of men in uniform. She realises she has never seen him in anything but the security firm’s colours and mentally outfits him until he sits down next to her and interrupts her train of thought.
The next hour flies by enjoyably with Crimson having to do a little question dodging what it is she does for a living. The truth about that is always awkward. Finally, the day catches up with Crimson.
“I need to head home. Thanks for the company, Scott. Maybe we can repeat this sometime soon?” she suggests and passes him her number.
“That’d be great” he puts the card in his breast pocket “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
For a moment she has forgotten that he works in her building “Wh… oh yeah. See you then” she gives him a kiss on the cheek and goes back home, feeling tired but in high spirits.
When she wakes, very late for her, she discovers she has a message from Jeffrey Garner at Horizon who she contacted about advertising her Heritage Line battle dress. It sounds pretty encouraging. Horizon will pick up the advertising for a percentage of the sales. She could not have asked for more and starts thinking about accessories and possible winter wear.