After arriving safely in Seattle with few hiccups, our four Shadowrunners met Knave’s handler, Annabelle Fear, at her lavish apartment. She was Korean, a raven haired Boss from Hell who managed the Korean Syndicate’s Seattle branch. They delivered the missile and magical foci successfully, albeit nervously, and Annabelle politely asked them to get the hell out. She’d call them if she had another job for them. (It’s been several days she hasn’t called yet)
Now all they had to do was to figure out how to get Knave’s bugs spirit out of his body without killing him. Screw that it was time for poker!
“I’m gonna work on this piece of shit Honda all night” T-Wasp said gruffly.
“Can I help?” Vortex asked.
“No, leave my garage, and don’t touch my fancy new bowling alley on the way out, either.”
Vortex sighed and shrugged, defeated. “Nobody wants to touch your balls, okay? Jeez”
The troll Fenrir adjusted the strap of his oversized bag. “I’m going to the hospital. I have to… run some errands.”
Vortex’s eyes lit up. “Fenrir, can I come with? I know of a good flower shop nearby”
The troll’s angry grumble sounded like a small concrete truck bouncing around in the back of a much larger concrete truck. Vortex got the message loud and clear.
Knave got an alert on his commlink. Amy, the Mysterious Poker Chick had sent him a text inviting him to the next game. She would be hosting. We still need two players, the message read.
“Well, see, I know just the skirt,” Knave said to himself in his mobster boss voice, replying with two smiley faces, and the number 8 followed by several equal signs and a ‘D’.
“Hey Vortex, wanna go play poker?” he asked the forlorn, friendless Elf.
“Yeah!!!” she chirped, she leapt into the air and threw out a peace sign and everything froze and went blurry for a few seconds just like in an animé.
“Okay, cool. Just don’t… embarrass me, okay?”
“I wouldn’t dream of it” the Orc said with a radiant smile. They got themselves cleaned up and took a cab to Amy’s house.
Meanwhile, T-Wasp was fixing up the clunker in his garage, and he had his work cut out for him. It would cost at least 0.5 times the original price of the Honda to fix this hunk of junk, and he didn’t even have the Core Rulebook in front of him, so he could only guess at the expense. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully, then began his work. When this was over, he was gonna eat a pint of ice cream and binge watch the new season of Two and a Half Dwarves. Good show.
The troll mage strolled through the nursing home’s sliding glass doors, bumping his head on the glowing sign that read “METAHUMAN LONG-TERM CARE”. He had been here countless times before, it became a routine for him. He would sit by his sister’s bedside, tell her about all the cool crimes and Shadowrunning he’s been up to, and she would rest there in her bed and listen, quietly. It was still hard on him to see her in a coma. Every time he looked at her shriveled form in the bed, his heart twisted in his chest. Neko…
But Neko was decidedly not in her hospital bed. The machines and monitors that filled the room were broken and battered, sprawled against the floor. The window was broken. His sister was gone.
WHAT!?!?! was the only intelligible word he screamed. The rest was a terrible roar, an animalistic chain of obscenities, howling/barking and unimaginable grief-filled sobs. Fenrir lumbered out of the nursing home drunk on anger, a blubbering mess of clenched fists, tears and bloodrage. The next-door neighbor’s front door was kicked in. It crumbled like a graham cracker. The orc family inside was eating ham and mashed potatoes. The troll stared at the father with blood red eyes.
“WHERE IS SHE!?!?” he said, his voice an erupting volcano.
“Uh, who?” The orc stuttered, sweat beading on his brow.
“WHERE’S NEKO!?!? ELF GIRL!?FOURTEEN!? COMATOSE!?”
“I don’t know!” the orc pleaded.
Fenrir picked up the green skinned man and tossed him across the room like a ragdoll. He crashed through a cheap Ikea bookcase and landed on a glass table, shattering it to pieces. Vases and picture frames went flying and broke just like in the action trideos.
“I don’t know where Neko is!!” the orc begged. Fenrir roared. The troll stormed out of the house and destroyed several more residential units, coming up with the same lack of answers. No one had seen Neko. No one called the cops, either. Everyone was simply too shocked by the troll’s ferocity.
Fenrir climbed onto the roof of an apartment building, a lanky silhouette in the moon, and howled at the unforgiving night sky. Neko was gone. Neko. My only sister. I was supposed to protect her and failed. Neko…
Meanwhile at the poker game, Knave and Vortex made it to Amy’s apartment, a posh comfy suite on the good part of town.
“Welcome, you guys” greeted a neon haired Asian with a pearly smile. She was a human from Singapore, her eyes a rich silvery-green, her hair a shimmering waterfall of tangerine. She had Malaysian, Japanese and Chinese heritage.
Three players sat around the low circular black table in the center. Pedro, What’s His Face and Amy sipped their cocktails and eyes the Shadowrunners as they entered the poker arena.
The Shadowrunners paid the buy-in, 100¥. Vortex lost it all in her first hand, double twos. “So Knave,” the badass Amy grinned, “has something been bugging you lately? I notice you have a insect spirit inside your soul. It looks like a glowing maggot.”
“Thanks for noticing, Amy,” Knave said cheerfully. “I was wondering if you knew anyone that could help me with that.”
“Bug spirits, bug spirits,” the adept bounced her head back and forth histrionically. "I do, actually. Ask around for a man called “X” at the Seattle Communist Lounge. They have great sushi."
“I appreciate your help” Knave said, with a soft bow.
“Anytime, Knavey. One last thing,” Amy smirked, “There aren’t much people alive who are better than me.” and with that, Amy owned everyone at poker, robbing them blind.
Knave and Vortex arrived at the SCL, an unassuming bar with a hammer & sickle flag. Inside were paintings of famous communists and Marxists, some metalheads and thrashheads and a couple Ska-fans, a Japanese catgirl drinking a PBR, a t-shirt of an Orcish Che Guevara hung on the wall, and in the center of the bar, a digital bartop pulsed with light. The bartop was also in the shape of a hammer & sickle. A warm fire crackled in the corner and rounded out the establishment’s look. Vortex sat at the bar and ordered a vodka.“Does anyone in this totally sweet bar know about bug spirits?” she asked. “My friend is really fucked up”
“Welcome, friends.” The friendly bartender said, I am Castrø, your friendly bartender. Can I interest you in a talk about the evil of corporations, and how they must all be destroyed in order for metahumankind to be truly free?"
And so they chatted with Castrø about the pitfalls of capitalism. It was a heady and cerebral discussion, many things were learned, many minds changed. Vortex was able to nudge the conversation back to the topic of insect spirits.
Suddenly a guy who was a cross between George RR Martin and a gurglecore mosh fiend stood up from the lounge area near the fireplace. He was freakishly tall and foreboding.
“My name is X and I know a lot about that insect spirit inside your friend, Orc” X, the man said.
Vortex turned to look at the grey-bearded fellow. He was wearing a pilot’s uniform stitched with anarchist punk band patches.
“I’m a pilot,” the man, X, said.
“Ahhh,” Vortex giggled. “I love punk music. Do you love punk music, too?” she asked.
The old man nodded in the affirmative. “The name’s X Pository-Dire Log. Friends call me X, for short.”“It’s a pleasure,” X shook Vortex’s outstretched hand. Knave approached the strange man cautiously.
“Can you see the bug spirit inside me? the ninja asked.
“Yes I can, it’s really gross. You gotta get that thing checked out, buddy. What did you say your name was?”
“Well, Knave, an insect spirit has been implanted in your soul. In approx 11 days, it will burst out of your chest and take over your body. You, in essence, will die. The only way to kill this soul bug is to eradicate the queen who laid it. She is most likely located at the headquarters of whoever implanted this insect inside of you. And these people are…?” X playfully nudged the deadly assassin, pushing him one step closer to the edge.
“I work for the Korean Syndicate. Their HQ is in North Korea.” Knave flashed him a look like throwing daggers. “Ya know, the bad one.”
“Did you say the Korean Syndicate?” another man stood up from the couch around the warm, snuggly fire. “I’m Ikiero. I hate that Kim Jung Trill dude. He’s a real dick. I’ll help you go to North Korea and take out this phantasmal insect queen.” He flipped a Sacajawea Coin in his fingers thematically. “If the price is right” Ikiero smiled broadly.
“For my life, anything. I’m Knave” the ninja said, bowing.
“Can you fly us, Mr. Pilot Man?” the cheeky Vortex asked.
X raised his fist triumphantly. “I can, and I will. My plane is really far away and I’m pretty drunk, but everyone hop into my huge minivan and I’ll take us to the airstrip.”
Vortex and Knave introduced themselves to Ikiero, a human mage with a badass attitude. They made pleasantries and loaded into the van. They never noticed the catlike shadows, or the cloaked figure hidden in the back seat.