Like I promised, here is the third part of the story about how we ran into an NPC called Sandy and ended up getting into so much trouble than we expected. If you’ve missed the other two parts, I suggest you start with The Search For A New bar and then continue on with the sequel part which is named Kicking It High In The Afterlife.
With that out of the way, it’s time yet again to enter the dystopian and futuristic place known as City 08!
In the last part, we’d established that Jane’s friend Turfo was in need of some special chemical. As we’d run into Sandy who owned a bar I’d originally intended to purchase, we also found out that she’d got knowledge of the industrial district and a possible location of said chemical. So, when we start our next adventure, we’ve already made it into a havac which had landed outside of Sandy’s bar. Jane called her and notified her we were outside.
A knock on the door and Jane opened it, Sandy was standing outside and was smiling at us. This time she was wearing a black and slim suit which more than likely was armored in some way due to how certain sections looked a bit more thicker than normal. On her feet were a pair of shoes that also looked very elaborate, more so than what you’d expect of a normal pair of sneakers.
She briefly shook her head “So yeah… not a dream then…” Then she got inside the big havac and sat down. As she waved her hand, it took off into the skies heading towards whatever destination that Sandy had uploaded into it.
And here, it’s time for a roll call!
On my side we had:
On my SO Niky’s side we had:
In the cramped space of the havac, I looked around the table and went “Since we’re going, I’m assuming you’ve found a place?”
Sandy, having adopted a neutral facial expression answered “Sort of, but you’re not gonna like it.”
Jane, already having gotten herself a beer took a sip from it and said “You’re not thinking of the forge are you?”
“That place? No.. holy shit no, why would ANYONE go there?”
Jane shrugged “Good.. then we’re cool.”
“There’s a refinery a ways out that’s currently shut down due to financial issues. Apparently some deal fell through recently.” Sandy said, chuckling a bit.
“Fell through huh?” Jane said, shaking her head and smiling.
“I pulled some strings and there was a strike which made the would-be purchasers get cold feet.”
Jane smiled and gestured with her bottle at her “You’re good alright. So.. you’re just going like this?”
“Yeah.. you know.. just little old me.. wearing a cat suit… and some .. shoes…”
Jane looked her over and frowned a bit “For your sake I hope we don’t get into any trouble.”
“Maybe you should be more .. observant.” Sandy said, smiling innocently as in a flash, she had her foot up by Jane’s head, her shoe having extended what looked like energy blades on both sides of it.
Jane whistled in appreciation “Mol blade shoes huh? Fancy…”
As Sandy lowered her shoe I interjected “Mol blades?”
Andrei muttered in the back to himself “Note to self, don’t piss off anyone in here.”
Jane gave us all a look and turned to Sandy “Shit, alright, so.. Sandy, you’ve gotta get something about these people. They’re from the fucking stones K?” she paused a bit as Sandy gave us all a puzzled look.
(Writers note: being “from the stones” is slang denoting something/someone that’s from the stone age)
Jane looked us all over “Simply put, she’s got molecular blades, they’re super sharp. Big ouchies if they hit you.” Then she turned back to Sandy and asked “So, morph or static?”
Sandy smirked a bit “Morph of course. Useless if I couldn’t adapt them on the fly.” she paused and gave Jane a probing look and added “You’re .. not really a hunter are you?”
Jane grinned at her and emptied her beer. “I was, then these people came along. Now.. I only do it as entertainment really.”
Sensing time was passing fast, I tried to get everyone back on track “So we’re going to a refinery then. What are we looking for really? Are we going for the factory floor or somewhere else?”
Sandy answered “There’s a main factory floor, which is gonna be our entry point. We’ll go through the outside machinery entrance, then hopefully their security will be lax. We’re heading for the lab area behind it where they store the chems.”
Andrei leaned forward towards the table “You gals don’t happen to have a map, do you?”
“No.. but.. actually hold on, Jane can you get me access to the table?” Sandy said looking at her.
Jane went still for a second and then shook her head briefly, cursing under her breath “Fucking.. piece.. of .. shit” as she connected herself to the table via a cable and her face went blank.
A long while passed after which Jane suddenly said to Sandy “Got it. Check the local.”
Sandy, also not really focusing on anything replied “Right.. I see it.” and as a detailed 2D map showed up on the tables surface, she added “Right, here’s the factory floor.”
(Writers note: Meanwhile, IRL I had to take a break and draw the map and load it up into Table Top Simulator. Since I messed up the screenshots a bit, this particular one shows us all having already exited the havac and clustered around the loading bay)
“Soooo here’s what we’re seeing in the real world” I said as I put it up on a monitor close by.
Sandy shrugged a bit “Simple.. but it works.”
“I drew it myself, shut up.”
“I didn’t say anything!” Sandy said laughing in a way that was infectious, soon enough all of us were joining in. After a while, we resumed the discussion again.
“Yellow thing is the havac. Those colored statuettes are representations of us. So, we go in through the material intakes and then what?” I asked her.
“No, those are outputs, we’ll be on the loading bays, then I’m hoping our girl here can fix the security.” Sandy replied, while looking at Jane.
“Yah, I’ll …. you know.. I used to be better at that.” Jane said, smirking a bit.
“Actually, Niky is our best hacker here” Andrei added, causing Niky to blush a bit.
“If you both help each other out, I’m sure it’ll be fine.” I said, Sandy gave me a hard to interpret look as I said that. After an awkward silence, I continued “So, if any security shows up, what do we do?”
“Shoot first, ask questions never.” Sandy replied dryly.
Andrei smiled widely and pointed his finger at her over the table “I’m starting to like you.”
Kay silently shook her head as Sandy replied “They’ll do the same if they see us. You do what you need to do.” here she looked down at her shoes “I haven’t worn these in years…”
Jane grinned fiendishly at her “Admit it.. you miss it.”
Sandy nodded “I miss fighting the good fight. Nobody else seems to these days. World’s going to shit.”
“That’s life for you, hon” Kay said, and then added “I used to do the same thing as you once…”
“You should do what I do, just go for with the flow. It’s a lot more fun.” Jane offered.
Here the havac had started to make its way down towards what looked like a dark and silent windowless colossus of a building. It landed a few meters away, far enough that we weren’t technically trespassing… yet.
“Jane, check your TACS and tell us what’s inside — I’m assuming you can detect augs through walls, right?” Andrei said as we were all checking our gear and getting ready.
“Yah…checking..” she said with her face yet again going slack. After a moment, she refocused her eyes on us and exclaimed with an annoyed tone “Fucking hell.. It’s .. can’t see shit. Too much heavy metal in there.”
(Writers note: TACS, or Tactical Systems is an augment that gives you an overhead display view with something that’s sort of like sonar, except for the fact that uses a wide variety of technologies [sonar, infrared, networking pings, networking data etc] to build a sort of map around what’s in a room or an area. As you can guess, TACS is virtually useless outside of City 08 since most places don’t have the level of technology that such a system would get any use out of.)
With that, the door to the havac opened and Dhum flew off into the shadows as always, Circe’s disembodied hand followed suit as well, trying to scramble up the side of the building.
We all surveyed the front of the multistoried building and saw four big doors with conveyor belts leading up to them. The doors were of course closed and to the left of each door, there was a panel with some panels that all glowed red. While the doors themselves appeared to be metal, the surrounding walls was of a type of concrete that had either been treated to look like a darker grey, or simply gained that color because of the exposure to the local chemical smog. Further up, there were more floors and in the shadows far above, we could barely see an assortment of smoke stacks and other gear on the roof.
“So, let’s go…” Sandy said as she scrambled up the leftmost conveyor towards the door.
Andrei sided up quietly next to her and whispered “Let’s go in. Niky, Jane, can you hack the door thing?”
Jane grinned wryly at Niky “You lead, tell me what to do.”
“Just… explain me how it works, so I can figure it out.” Niky said as she started examining the panel.
A moment passed while Jane realized that Niky likely didn’t know much about hacking in City 08. “It’s a control panel, just jack into … fuck.. you’re not augged yet are you?”
Niky gave her a sour look “Nope… still am good at hacking”
“Yah well.. then you’re gonna have to do it the old fashioned way, get that panel off.”
Niky then borrowed Kay’s knife and got to work prying the panel off. After a while of trying to figure it out, she finally got it off.
Watching our backs and seeing Niky work, Sandy leaned in and looked at the exposed panel innards “Do you know what you’re doing?”
Circe chuckled and added “You’d think she doesn’t, but she does. She’s doing rocket sciency things normally. I’m not kidding.”
A small sound made everybody freeze and got Sandy to lift her leg halfway up, her blade shimmering menacingly in the air around her shoe. After we all saw the hand rush down the wall and scramble up Circe’s clothes, we all relaxed yet again while Niky got to work.
Andrei stared at the hand going up her clothes “Circe, can you make sure that thing doesn’t cause us a heart attack?”
Circe gave him a mischievous smile “Sure…”
Some more time passed as Niky slowly started figuring out the small strands that connected to the various parts of the panel. With some direction from Jane, she soon had the right inputs jacked in so that the door got sent an “accepted” signal which caused the large thick door to slowly open.
Sandy nodded in appreciation “Nice.”
“Girl knows her shit.” Jane added for good measure.
Niky huffed “Nah, I don’t know shit, but I’m good at figuring stuff out.”
Sandy peered into the darkness “We shouldn’t be seeing much inside, except maybe some guard drones, but… ” and here she paused a bit before continuing with a smile “They’re usually not too smart.”
Once the door had finished opening and the dust had settled, we all peered into the large rectangular room which was brightly lit on the end closest to us, but was covered in shadows on the far end. The thick smell of various chemicals and alcohols was heavy inside. The four conveyor belts looped into four individual machines that stretched about 10-15 meters into the ceiling where there were big holes, no doubt leading to the next floor above us.
As Sandy started to move inside, Andrei stopped her and looked at all of us “Stick to the shadows, stay quiet and close to the walls.”
Meanwhile as we were slowly moving inside the big room filled with various machinery, Dhum was flying around the building and checking for windows. After some time, he finally found something that caught his attention, a vent that was slightly loose. Spending a lot of effort in the process, he finally made it inside. As the place was dusty, he sneezed a few times as he squeezed his little raven body further into the ventilation system.
Inside the factory floor, we spotted that one of the machines to left had been taken offline and shifted to the side. The machine itself seemed to be in a state of being half-disassembled; tubing, pipes, electrical gear were strewn about it, the whole thing gave us all the impression that the machine had somehow been in the middle of a service when it’d been hastily abandoned.
Getting closer to the back wall of the complex, we could see a faint blue glow behind a row of windows. Meanwhile, the offline machine had caught Sandy’s attention.
“Sloppy. Someone clogged this real bad.” she said quietly, shaking her head as she passed by it, keeping her eyes open for anything.
Due to the darkness in the room beyond, we could only make out the faintest of details. What we saw inside was lots of tubing and cabling going between different glass tanks and containers, clearly this was some sort of storage or chemical mixing room.
On the machinery there was a lot of icons that most likely were warnings or advisories. We tried to figure it out among ourselves until Niky had the bright idea to ask Sandy. She peered through the glass and shrugged “Oh.. that .. basic warnings not to touch anything, or breathe it, or even look at it if it’s live. If this place was booming, we’d be dead by now.” Our alarmed looks made her smile a bit before she added “Don’t worry, this place is completely shut down, so it’s safe. Otherwise we’d need environment suits.”
“Always hated places like this…” Jane muttered mostly to herself while she was trying to peer through the windows.
“We should get inside of here, I’m pretty sure that’s where most of your important stuff is located” Sandy said. Then as we located the door and Niky approached the panel, she cautioned her “Careful, if you get this wrong, it’s probably gonna trigger ALL of the alarms OK?”
Niky gave her a defiant look and approached the panel, which turned out to be a wireless transmitter, no doubt meant for use with an archaic key fob. As she yet again borrowed Kay’s knife to pry the cover off, there was a slight whirring noise as the paneling popped off into her hand. Everybody froze for a second, but when nothing else appeared to happen, Niky continued trying to make sense of the wiring behind the panel.
Meanwhile, far far above us up inside of the vent, Dhum was squawking angrily as he pushed himself down further into the ventilation shaft, all the while muttering things like ‘Andy’ and ‘Bodka Ethanks’ (Translation from bird: Candy, Vodka, Thanks) as he kept exploring further and further. During his trip downward, he was covered a mixture of dusts, both chemical and metallic. Eventually he found solid ground with a ventilation grid under his talons.
The grid itself was wedged in tight and caked with grime, soot and fat, so he had to try a few times before it popped off. After he got the grid loose, he flew into the upper part of the room above us while downstairs we were working the door lock.
Simultaneously below, Niky got the wiring to shoot out sparks as the entire panel fried and went dead, but as luck would have it, the door still slid open to the side, the faint light from the room spilling into the darkness beyond.
Jane gave Niky a look of disbelief “Whoa, you got it? Shit.”
“That was TOTALLY what I was trying to do, I tell you.” Niky said as she handed back the knife to Kay who holstered it while all of us started slowly entering the laboratory.
“Eh, I can’t see shit” Andrei said as he tried to pierce the darkness without much luck, he turned to Jane “Your TACS give you anything?”
Jane shook her head with a grim face “Nah, too much lead and other shit in the air here to get an accurate reading, I’m seeing sensor ghosts and weird shit plastered everywhere. It’s worthless in here.”
“I could offer light…” Niky said, eyeing her flame thrower.
“Yeah, better not, probably half this is highly flammable” Kay said, keeping an uneasy eye on the room behind us.
As I started looking for anything resembling a light switch, Niky put her flamethrower into lantern mode, which meant it only cast a short puff of fire rather than it’s usual stream of continual fire. As she fired it and briefly lit up the room, alarms suddenly started blaring as we all turned around to stare at her as she stood there frozen with terror. She immediately doused the flame, but the damage was already done as the overhead sprinklers, no doubt having detected the fire blow, now started to spray out what thankfully turned out to be water in an attempt to put out what they considered to be a fire.
While the water started to drench us all, Niky sighed out loud “Well shit.”
Meanwhile, the lights overhead flickered on as I’d finally managed to find a light switch on the side of the wall further inside of the room. Wasting no time, Sandy started looking around the room for the vat that would contain what we were after. Soon enough she found something that looked like a version of a QR code, except this one seemed to have holographic properties if viewed in the right angle.
Sandy called Jane over “Hey, Jane get your ass over here.” after she joined Sandy at the vat, she pointed at it and asked “This the stuff you want?” After Jane nodded, Sandy grabbed a nearby canister and attached it to a port in the machine.
Meanwhile Niky was standing off to the side, half muttering to herself. “If you need any hacking done.. just let me know.. or you know.. another shower…”
Sandy, busy with the console above the thing she’d attached was punching in a complex sequence of symbols and numbers, soon enough a transparent shield came up over the container, the inside compartment was now filling with what looked like a thick black smoke.
“You know, it’s a good thing they added these shields, in the old days, if you didn’t have the protective gear, that shit would have swarmed you and you’d be dead.”
As we waited for the process to finish, Andrei was busying himself going through some of the lab coats on the other side of the room. He found very little of import, but managed to get a card that advertised something called “Coma Pal(.)(.)za!” and what looked like an old style key card. He pocketed both of the items for later use and rejoined us at the machine which had now finished filling the canister.
At the machine, Jane was answering Sandy “Thank the government? .. wheee… sorry .. but if you’re dumb enough to work in a refinery without a suit, you’re stupid.”
“Tell that to the migrant workers they put in the other district where the main pipes burst. They died screaming as they were eaten alive slowly. Not a pretty way to go.” Sandy replied in a matter-of-fact kind of tone.
The machine stopped with a loud noise as a blue light came alive on the canister, showing that it was indeed fully loaded. At the same, a marker similar to one of the ones around us started glowing on it with a dull orange light. Sandy examined it and nodded and then punched in another series of commands which caused the black smoke to recede from the chamber. After it’d vanished, the innards of the machine was bathed in a bright blue light for a couple of seconds.
Sandy turned her head away when it started glowing “Fuck.. I hate that EMP burst..”
With a groan, Andrei looked at her and added “I … felt that…”
“You.. felt that?” Sandy asked him questioningly.
“What? Can’t see my liver?” Andrei joked back at her.
(Writers note: A few months prior to this mission, Andrei managed to get his hands on a City 08 artificial liver, which he tried to use several times to scam people in drinking contests. Nobody fell for it.)
“I can’t see shit” Jane said studying him “You look just normal to me.” and after a while she burst into laughter and reminded him that in this room, TACS didn’t really work.
During all of this, Sandy was heading out the door and urged us all that we needed to get out yesterday preferably. Since Mech and Circe had hung back, they were the first ones out the door as Mech was hit in the shoulder by an energy blast from something in the much dimmer light outside.
Andrei scrambled over to the light switch and immediately turned it off, plunging the room into darkness again and took cover at the side of the door. As I set up the battle field for us, it became apparent that we were facing a number of enemies of unknown origin that had ambushed us from the back while we’d been busy in the lab.
As his vision adapted, Mech was the first to spot six small grey orbs that turned out to be guard drones of some kind. Then all hell broke loose as we had a small war going on with the things that were very fast and agile and that fired what appeared to be small plasma bolts.
Circe took some fire as she rushed up with her single sword (this was before she got two swords) and neatly severed one of the orbs in half, as it fell to the floor it spewed techno-garbage all around the chamber. Meanwhile up top, Dhum hearing angry yelling and gunfire decided to swoop down and sit on the machine that had been swung to the side, as he did, he landed on it and cawed loudly drawing the attention of some of the drones that turned to fire towards him.
Meanwhile, I peeked out from behind the door and managed to land a shot on another of them which exploded in a similar cloud of broken electronics as the previous one had. Both Jane, Andrei and Niky were also firing at this point, but couldn’t really hit either of the other drones as they proved too nimble for them.
Meanwhile, Kay, sensing that Dhum was in danger of being shot (Summons don’t really have a lot of HP in our RPG system) rushed out to try and take out another drone. She swung wildly at it, but only managed to hit air as the drone deftly flew around her knife based attacks.
Mech, following our lead moved further in to draw additional fire and managed to hit one of the drones, but instead of breaking apart, it managed to right itself. Behind him, Sandy rushed in and with an elegant swoop of her razor shoe, she neatly severed one of the drones in half, however upon her second attempt at hitting another, she swung wide and missed.
Sasha also took his turn to fire, but missed the drone that was targeting Dhum, The Hand also attempted to grapple onto the surface of it, but found no purchase as it fell to the floor after falling off it. Once it’d regained it’s composure on the floor, it gave the drone the finger which it promptly ignored.
After that, the remaining drones all started regrouping and firing rapidly at all of us, Sandy was hit in the arm and groaned while the drone that had focused on Dhum now fired and hit him before he had a chance to react. With a loud shriek, Dhum fell to the floor and faded away from the fatal damage that he’d sustained.
While both Kay and Sandy were in shock, a drone took the opportunity to attack Mech. However, he managed to move out of the way and return fire which took out that drone as well, leaving only two alive.
Andrei, now firing for the second time managed to hit the second to last drone, which plainly just vaporized as he’d likely hit the battery dead center. Meanwhile, Circe darted around the side of the leftmost machine and saw the drone that had shot and killed Dhum. Before it had a chance to fire again, she’d smacked it with the side of her sword which sent it tumbling to the floor. With a murderous expression on her face, she impaled it with her greatsword and twisted it around, as it was destroyed, it let out a long electronic warble.
Standing over it, breathing heavily, Circe looked down at it and plainly exclaimed “Bitch.” as she ground the rest of it into the floor under her boots.
“Come on everyone, no time to rest, we have to get outside before more of them show up!” Sandy urged us and we all made a mad sprint for the conveyor belt and the door leading to the outside.
Meanwhile, the door on the outside had apparently begun the process of sealing itself shut, but with the combined efforts of Jane and Mech, the door stayed open long enough to get us all out. Once we were outside, we all scrambled into the havac, canister in tow, then we took off into the night. Below us we could see multiple drones flying out from various openings in the factory, but they couldn’t hope to match our speed at this point. We were safe, we all sat back and relaxed for a bit, our pulses still racing like crazy.
“That was so fucked up.” Jane spoke after a moment of silence.
Sandy nodded solemnly “Yes, that was a close one.”
“No, not that.. the drones outside… they.. they registered as augmented beings.” Jane replied to her as silence again enveloped the chamber. She grabbed a beer and emptied half of it without even looking at what it was. She made a noise of disgust and handed it over to me. “Light beer, not my style man.”
After that, everyone got some beers and we talked over the events. While Kay was a bit sad that Dhum had died, Sandy, not knowing that it was a summon was attempting to console her for a bit. As we explained it to her that Dhum was a 24 hour summon that could be resummoned the day after, the mood lightened a bit. We then discussed some light-hearted things and got into the topic of clubs and the fact that all of this had started because I’d been looking for a new club to replace the one I blew up so many years ago. As Andrei and me were joking around about the sexy cage dancers in the old club, Sandy piped up with an interesting remark.
“I do know of a place that SOUNDS like it’d be up your alley. I know they haven’t been doing well financially either for a while.. sounds like a place you could buy if you were interested…”
I leaned forward and smiled “So, what’s this club about then? Tell us more about it.”
“It’s basically girls in tight clothing dancing and .. well.. doing other stuff I guess.” Sandy said with a slight tension in her voice. Then she added with a laugh “I heard of the old owner, she’s kind of a bitch though…”
At this, I felt my pulse quicken it’s pace again and I leaned closer to her excitedly and asked “Have you ever seen her?”
“Yeah.. once in passing. She’s old.”
“Shortish grey hair, eyes like a fucking hawk? French accent?” I blurted out with a sinister grin plastered over my face.
“You’ve met her? She goes by the name ‘Madame’. Creepy old bitch if you ask me.” Sandy replied with a bit of unease in her voice.
Andrei leaned back and drank some of his beer and smiled at the revelation “Wow.. seriously.”
As my grin got wider and more murderous, Sandy recoiled a bit, but I calmed down and said “If you can show me that club, I‘m going to be in your favor. Oh and yeah .. another thing, you’re eligible for a huge bounty of she’s the one we’re looking for.”
“How much?” Sandy said, her eyes narrowing as she was suspicious about my sudden change in tone.
I quickly asked our AI Sarah what the last bounty that I’d posted was and she confirmed that it was in fact 300 million credits. A large fortune by anyone’s standards in this place.
“So yeah, you get me there and if I can confirm that she’s the deal, you can take her out and present her head to the bounty board and cash that in.” I told her.
“300 mil, no fucking way!” Sandy said with surprise in her voice. “She’s THAT Madame Wyzage? I’ve read about her, she’s like the most notorious criminal ever to escape the triad! SO many people have been wanting to cash in on that bounty for years!”
I nodded “Well, if you’re right, then you’re gonna be the one to do it.”
With that, me and Niky excused ourselves as we both had to go to bed since at this point it was close to 3AM. My tulpas stayed with Sandy and shared the havac all the way back to her bar while Niky’s tulpas all went into “automatic mode” which meant that they basically acted as their normal selves, but really were just mindless automatons. We’d of course explained this to Sandy earlier, so she wasn’t really surprised. But once they’d all gotten into the gallery of worlds, they faded away as they were no longer needed.
And that pretty much wraps up this part. Thank you all for reading, if you have any questions or comments about anything, do share them below. The next (and final part) of this adventure is going to be called “Old people, old debts” and I’ll likely have it out before the end of the year if all goes well.
See you around and stay safe out there!
Thanks! And yes, me and my tulpas discovered long ago that creating a framework with rules like these was essential…
This was quite the strange tale. I definitely find it fascinating how your inner world is hard-coded with limiters and…