Chi Town Troubleshooters
Missing Shipment - After Action Report
It had been a better part of a week since I’ve dealt with anyone from the group. We agreed to lay low and see if any potential fallout came at us us. The news covered the event for a day or two. It seems that some heartless thieves broke into a charitable auction and stole all the goods, thereby almost certainly damning some starving third-world nation to more suffering. It really didn’t surprise me, criminals always have the best spin-doctors. Thankfully, it seemed that no one knew who did it. It seemed that we were in the clear, when my phone unexpectedly rang. It was a familiar number – one that I wasn’t looking forward to having to talk to – Finn. We used him to get into the auction, stole the goods and took off. If anyone was to ‘blame’ for the fiasco at the auction, it would likely be him. Finn wasn’t a fool either, it would be obvious to him that we must have had a hand in it. Both Otto and myself disappeared when it all went down, and never showed back up. If he didn’t flip on us, it was for a reason. So, I answered the call to get that reason.
Thankfully, he didn’t beat around the bush. He made it clear that he knew we were involved with the theft, but instead of threatening us, he instead offered us a deal that would wipe the slate clear with him. He had a guy who needed some help, and he threw it our way. We do the job, and we’re square. While the job could be anything, if it kept him from flipping on us, it was at least worth looking into. I told him we’d meet his man. Since we made nil from the last job, some income was certainly appealing. A ‘Mr Jones’ would meet us deep in the Hells at a place called the Lunatic’s Fringe tonight, at 8.
I called the guys and they all agreed to attend the meet and greet with me. Whether for money, loyalty, or their own self interests, I didn’t care. Going into the Hells, is stupid dangerous, and there is strength in numbers. Strangely, the Fringe was hard to track down on the net. It didn’t have any online presence, and the only information giving us any idea where it was, was on some old chat board archive. It’s all we had to go on, so armed for war, we loaded up in Otto’s van and set the course into no man’s land.
We spent more time having to reroute around fires, deserted cars, broken building, barricades and detritus than we hoped for, when we ended up at a dead end. Several local gangers milled about armed with various firearms, and tried to hit us up with a well-rehearsed ‘toll charge’. They were scattered about, making it difficult to pin them down. Not a great ambush, but certainly adequate. Ivan, unable to shut up, split his conversation between making a counter offer at a lesser value and simultaneously hitting on her. Unfazed by his ‘charming’ request for her phone number, she confidently identified that WE were the ones in the ambush, and not in a position to negotiate. A valid point, which was craftily countered by Ivan, who agreed with her, but then had to point out that she was also in harms way now. If things got bloody she would be caught in the middle of it. That realization made sense with her and her demeanor quickly changed. She agreed to compromise to a lesser amount and let us pass without incident.
About twenty minutes later and a mere two blocks from the Fringe, we were again ambushed, as several gangers jumped out from behind some cars while some moved behind us, cutting off any retreat. Their demeanor was not one that looked like they were willing to negotiate, as they drew weapons on us. Seeing only one path – that being forward, we ducked down as Otto gunned it, attempting to thread his way around a few deserted husks of cars at the end of the block. Fortune did not fare well in the next few seconds as automatic fire erupted around us. Blood sprayed over me as, next to me, Queen took a round in the neck while Otto’s van spun out of control slamming us abruptly into one of the vehicles in the midst of the firefight. Applying pressure I kept Queen down and was thankful to see that the round only struck her levator scapulae, going straight through. While painful and spectacularly bloody, it was a relatively clean shot that was not fatal. Not that we were in any position to be thankful for small miracles yet. Reacting quickly, we spilled out of the car and took out a few gangers who were clearly not expecting the charge of the light brigade. Having cleared out one of the sides, we were granted cover as we moved around, and took out a few more of them. Seeing their numbers dwindle to less than half in only a few moments, the rest of them panicked and fled down the street. With our transportation wrecked, we quickly hiked the last two blocks to the Fringe.
Arriving at the Fringe, we were met by a massive doorman – some boar hybrid, who had us check our weapons to gain entrance. Complying, we did as needed and were quickly ushered into the bar. I asked Ivan to find Mr Jones, while Otto and I made sure that Queen was good to go. A quick once over by Otto confirmed that she was in the clear, and we rejoined Ivan and Stack, who indicated that our host was in the back room, awaiting us. Once identifying who were were here to meet with the doorman, we were ushered into the back room. The back room was surprisingly cleaner and significantly quieter than the main room, and as the doors closed behind us, we saw two men at a large table in the middle of the room. First, was an older man, somewhere in his late 50s, maybe 60’s. Well dressed, and heavily tattooed, he sported an assortment of gold earrings and jewelry, and a ton of chrome work. Not an expert on cyberware, but it looked custom and expensive. It occurred to me that it looked like Donovan Harrison, the CEO of Reaper Technologies – a weapons manufacturer from Seattle. The second man was large thug with no neck and a considerable amount of chrome himself stood at his side. Based on his stance, he screamed bodyguard. Behind them, was a large nondescript case on another table.
The older man stood as we entered and thanked us for meeting him. He offered us a drink, gesturing at the mini-bar at the other end of the room. Ivan opted for another vodka, and eyed approvingly at the drink, muttering something about real vodka in Russian, after having a sip. Mr Jones invited us to sit at the table, and we complied. Cutting quickly to the chase, our potential employer said that one of his warehouses was robbed two nights ago by several men who killed and captured several of his employees at the warehouse, and made off with some of his merchandise, that he would simply like us to recover for him. He offered to pay us six thousand now and another nineteen thousand upon the return of his merchandise. As there was a time sensitive factor for him, he offered a bonus of four thousand if we recovered it by tomorrow night, or two thousand if the night after. He then asked if we were interested in the job. Yes or no. Before we could agree, Ivan draining the glass said we’d agree, but it was most certainly worth more if we returned it quickly. Smiling, the man agreed and offered to double the bonus for delivering them back to him – eight thousand to have it back tomorrow or four thousand for the day after. Seeing that we agreed, Mr Jones continued.
He stated that seven men arrived in a large six-axel flatbed truck and quickly overtook the guards, making off with five pallets of his goods, with each pallet weighing over 500 kilos each. That would be over five thousand pounds of merchandise, and we are currently short one vehicle. A problem we will have to figure out. He offered us an opportunity to meet with the personnel that were subdued and said he’d get us access to any of the footage he had. The police have not been very helpful, so he is looking to get it resolved himself. Unfortunately, he had been unable to track their vehicle, but said that he was confident that it was still in the Hells or Southside, as he had been patrolling the exits, and saw no such vehicle. He asks if we have any more questions for him, and when we don’t, he gets up. Moving to the unremarkable crate at the back table, he says he has a gift for us. ‘Something that may help us’ and opens it, removing several tactical back slings with RA-2220 etched on it. Below that, in a stylized font is the word ‘Vigilance’. Opening one sleeve, he pulls out a compact bullpup rifle and sets it on the table, along with four magazines, loaded with large caliber rounds, resembling miniature missiles. He says this is a prototype Gyroscopic firearm that we can have. One for each of us. Ivan eagerly eyes one and quickly examines the weapon – his approval evident. With that, our new employer wishes us luck and leaves the room with his neck-less thug immediately behind him.
Left to ourselves, we quickly determine that we can’t do anything without a vehicle, and Otto thinks that he can get the van up an running, if we can get out there. Queen offers to help him, and Ivan and I agree to keep them from harm. Stack looking at his gift with casual indifference, says that he’ll stay here and see if he can figure out who our employer is. When I state that is is Donovan Harrison, they all look at me like I grown a second head. Clarifying that he is the CEO of Reaper Technologies doesn’t seem to help, so I shrug and we exit the back room, pass through the bar, collect our weapons and head back down the street to the van.
I keep watch on Otto and Queen, while Ivan simply stares as the new rifle like a kid at Christmas. Near an hour passes when Otto finally gives in and follows the suggestion that Queen made forty-five minutes ago, and the van sputters to life. It looks like it’ll fall apart if it stops moving, and Otto says he’s worried that it probably will. Hopefully, it will be able get us out of here. The Hells are not a place we want to be stuck in. We drive back to the Fringe and pick up Stack, who has not managed to track down any clear images of Donovan Harrison from the last decade. Evidently, he is quite the recluse, and has not been seen in quite some time. He looks like he wants me to explain how I knew who he was, and it occurs to me that I cannot, as I do not know how I know it. I have no reason that I would know that, but I didn’t just think it was Donovan Harrison – I just do.