The magician gets a street name, Fellini goes missing, and Fanboy digs up a dead cat.
The session started back at Hank’s bar, The Braury, with us trying to come up with a street name for the new PC. Harrison Ford wouldn’t do forever. After some ideas were shot down (Ford’s player was not a fan of Pooh) we finally settled on Bronx, an homage to Rumble in the Bronx, because the magician is Asian (following the Shinto tradition) and his player is a bit of a weaboo.
The team had little to go on and had drawn no solid conclusions, so they decided to pick up where they had left off before the attack on the Stuffer Shack had derailed things. The Johnson for the job was Tony Fellini, a simsense star with marital issues. Fanboy and Napster had been tasked with assassinating his wife. To be fair, she was trying to do the same to him, which is why they were also tasked with protecting him. Last week his hotel was blown up, luckily while he was out, so Fanboy had moved Fellini into his apartment, while he boarded at The Braury.
Fanboy tried calling Fellini on his commlink. It rang once and then stopped. The line remained dead after that, someone must have hurriedly switched the link off. That left them with no way of tracing Fellini’s location. The team piled into a rusted car that Hank had generously loaned them and set off to Riverside, where Fanboy’s apartment block was overshadowed by the monstrous Lune Dam.
The door to the apartment was locked, but Fellini didn’t answer it. Unlocking it with Fanboy’s spare key, the team slipped inside and searched the tiny space, finding no sign of the star.
Napster: Shitting dick nipples! Fuck face is gone!
They found no sign of Fellini at all. The room should have shown telltale signs of someone living in it for the past 4 days, but there was nothing to indicate anyone had so much as taken a nap on the bed.
Fanboy stuck his head around the front door, and reached up to the tiny black camera he’d placed above his door when he’d moved in. He pulled out a tiny data chip from the back of it and gave it to Napster who slotted it. With a though he brought the recording up on Napster’s second-hand trid screen and played it backwards. For the full 4 days there was nothing but the odd person passing by in the corridor, going about their day. They watched as Fanboy dropped Fellini off, four days ago, then played it forward again until the end of the recording. It was as if he had just disappeared into thin air.
Napster: Hang on a minute… Yep, it’s been doctored. Look.
He showed the other two a section of the footage back, less than an hour after Fellini had arrived. Nothing happened.
Napster: There! Did you see that?
Bronx: See what?
Napster: Look closer.
He played back the video again, this time slower, then they saw it: The light in the corridor flickered in the same exact pattern repeatedly for almost 5 minutes, before resetting into it’s irregular non-pattern again.
It didn’t take the hacker long to restore the original footage. It showed three tall human males, dressed in white pressed Zoé suits, white fedoras and shiny black shoes. They strode into frame, their faces hidden, then one of them reached up and placed something over the camera, obscuring it. Five minutes later it was removed. The wide angle lens caught four men leaving. The other man was wearing the same pink polo shirt, collar popped, that Fellini had been wearing and just before he left the frame he shot a glance back down the corridor. The face didn’t belong to Fellini though—It was Fanboy’s.
Bronx: That’s a Physical Mask. They made him look like you. Why?
Fanboy: Security guy at the front desk. He’d have noticed a famous face like Fellini’s. That gives me an idea.
They headed downstairs to go speak with the security guard on duty. The old man was cooperative, possibly thanks to the morning coffees that Roger (the name Fanboy was going by to his neighbours) would bring him occasionally. Fanboy knew that all security guards loved coffee. The old man buzzed them into the back office, where he brought up security footage for the past week. Cameras in the lobby, stairwells and garage all confirmed the story and netted the team a decent view of the perpetrators faces.
Napster had no luck finding a match for any of the men based off their faces. With no leads to go on, they theorised that Fellini’s wife was probably behind the kidnapping. So their only recourse was to carry on with the original job. Hopefully they’d be able to recover their client, and with him, the rest of their payment.
They had just one lead. The address given to them by Fellini. Napster’s matrix snooping hadn’t uncovered anything two weeks ago. This time he made a connection that he hand’t before. The current tenant had been the same tenant at the time Maria Fellini lived there. After checking Maria’s maiden name he confirmed his suspicion: It was her mother’s house.
That night the team piled into the car and Napster drove them, manually (no GridGuide in this banger), down to the Preston district of Merseysprawl.
The sky above Preston was the color of a tridscreen, tuned to a dead channel. Rain fell heavily on the high rise towers that dominated the skyline, underlining the presence that the megacorps held here. There was even something of a middle class to be found here, and the team were about to dive straight into the bourgeois suburbs of Merseysprawl.
The address Fellini had given to them was the last known residence of his murderous ex-wife. It was in a small gated community, at the end of a cul-de-sac. Detached houses, security lighting and a large gate guarded by an elderly security man. Napster dropped Fanboy off nearby and drove away, making sure they weren’t spotted. The ancient car would stand out like a cybered up troll at a five year old’s birthday party.
Fanboy slunk his way to the entrance to the gated community. The lighting was dim outside the tall plasteel gates, and the lights in the houses were out. The flickering light of a trid screen came from inside a security room, attached to the side of the gates. Fanboy could hear the tell-tale sounds of yesterday’s soap operas and make out the silhouette of a small man leaning back in a chair.
Napster launched his Fly Spy, straight out of the gabing hole where the driver-side door used to be. He pulled up AR windows, set up an encrypted tacnet and strapped a subvocal microphone to his throat, all while driving the beat up rust bucket. The Fly Spy whirred it’s way silently over to the gated community and straight through the gap under the door of number twentythree Fisher Gate. The virtual wall space recreated a floral pattern wallpaper, with bow windows looking out onto the dark street and portraits of cats hanging from wooden frames. The drone buzzed into the upstairs room that contained a sleeping woman. She was human, looked to be in her sixties and was snoring gently.
Bronx’s body slumped in the back seat of the car as he threw his consciousness into the astral plane. In a moment he was gliding over the grey blur of a cul-de-sac. There were a few astral signatures, but nothing that stood out to him. Possibly an awakened troll next door fast asleep, traces of a paranormal critter nesting in a tree, that sort of thing. He did pinpoint something stronger though. A signature from a spell, something that was intended to heal or repair. And it was in the back garden of their target house. He tried to get a closer look at it but found his ghostly body stopped by the earth. He snapped back to his body and relayed what he’d found to Fanboy.
Grabbing a shovel from a building site a street over, Fanboy slung it over his shoulder and improvised a plan to get in. He knew how complacent security guards could be, so he’d hide in plain sight. Affecting a stagger and a stutter, he stumbled over towards the gate house and started singing in his best impression of a drunkard. The Security Guard span his chair round and approached the window.
Guard: Excuse me, can I help you?
Fanboy: You know, I ushed to be a shecurity guard too. Comfy gig right? Can’t beat it. Whacha washing there? Ish that Coronation Sprawl?
The guard started to protest Fanboy’s drunken ramblings, and would have no doubt tried to move him along if Fanboy hadn’t jabbed his stun baton through the gab in the glass and given the poor guy a shock. Reaching through the hole, Fanboy quickly grabbed the mans body before it slumped to the ground and undid the keys from his belt. He walked around to the side of the gate house and let himself in. He stripped the guard down, put on his uniform and stashed the limp body under the desk.
Fanboy: Street all clear?
Napster: Go ahead.
Hiding in plain sight, Fanboy strolled down the cul-de-sac and towards number twentythree. He walked across the front garden, his shoes leaving deep muddy tracts in the perfectly manicured lawn, spoiling the work of some tireless mower drone. Before he stepped between the house and the fence on the small path to the back garden, Napster’s voice piped up in his earpiece:
Napster: Wait! There’s a security light at the side of the house. It’ll trigger if it detects movement.
Fanboy: Just great, I knew I should have bought that chameleon suit.
The hacker worked fast, easily bypassing the houses simple firewall and disabling the security light with the flip of a virtual switch.
Bronx materialised in front of Fanboy and invited him to follow him. The magicians ghostly form pointed out the location of the magical signature and Fanboy started digging. It wasn’t deep. In a few minutes he’d dug up the decomposed carcass of a cat.
Bronx: There it is, that ring on it’s collar. Now I can get a proper look at it.
The magician was able to make out the signature of a spell caster, but it wasn’t one he recognised. Or maybe it was and he just couldn’t remember, but that would be unlikely.
A bark broke the silence. Fanboy jumped backwards, tripping and falling in the mud. Bronx disappeared from the physical plane and observed from the safety of astral space. A rottweiler bolted out of the darkness towards fanboy, barking and snapping at him, before reaching the end of it’s chain and struggling in vain against it. The commotion woke the house’s occupant and a light came on upstairs. As the shadow of the woman approached the window, Bronx cast an Invisibility spell on the ex-security guard who was currently scrambling in the mud, trying and failing to put as much space between himself and the dog as possible.
When the old woman looked out into her dark back garden she saw her beloved dog had torn up her garden and was busy barking at nothing.
Back at Hank’s bar, the team studied the band of metal. On the inside they found an engraving that read:
To my dearest Maria
So this looked like a wedding ring, from Fellini to his wife. An expensive wedding ring, it had been enchanted with a strong spell, possible designed to protect or heal the wearer.
Napster had pulled something useful from his intrusion into the mother’s home network: her commcode. They decided they would call up and try to persuade the mother to let them know where her daughter was staying these days. During a night of drinking last week, Bronx had demonstrated an uncanny ability for putting on voices and creating convincing acts on the spot. It was determined he’d be the one to make the call.
After a bit of sweet talking, cajoling and down right magical persuasion, Maria’s mother reluctantly told Mr Ford that her daughter would be dining at Chez La Foudre that evening.