Waiting for the Other Shoe
“Waiting for the Other Shoe”
A while back, they took a charter into the wilds of Prime Meridian. Things turned really sour, the charter lied to them on several occasions, got their butts in serious trouble, and generally really pissed off the characters. He was an incredibly self-important, stuck up, supercilious bastard, and Jeff Barber (the moderator for that series of sessions) did a great job of making us all hate his guts. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the charter got left behind when things turned ugly. In the resulting mayhem, he died a suitably horrible death. Needless to say, we weren’t exactly crying our eyes out.
So, time passes, other things happen, Ethan Merriweather gets thrown out of his apartment and has to move in temporarily with the Red Sky guys. And then strange things begin to happen.
The “Last Chance” has been down for repairs lately, and Andrew had asked Digger to rebuild the fuel pump. So, imagine Digger’s surprise when the delivery guy shows up with a brand new New Fremantle Marine series 3100 1.8 lpm Fuel Pump (TM), with Simon’s name on it. Now, Simon is basically a bastard. He hangs out with the wrong sorts of people, never really does a lot of work around the place, and does everything he can to just annoy the crap out of Digger. Does a good job at that. So Digger is furious when this fuel pump shows up, convinced that Simon doesn’t think he can rebuild the old one.
Interestingly enough, Simon doesn’t remember ordering any fuel pump. So, after clearing out everybody from the tool shed, he has a conversation with Andrew about it, that went something like this:
Simon: “So, there’s this great big box that I didn’t order, and I can’t sense what’s inside?”
Simon: “Is there anything to keep me from opening it?”
Andrew “Common sense?”
Simon: “Whatever. Here, help me pull this mattress up against it so that if it goes boom, nobody will be hurt.”
Andrew “You wanna stop a bomb with an old mattress?”
Simon: “Yeah, sure! Isn’t that what the bomb squad guys do?”
Andrew “I’m outa here …”
Needless to say, the bomb goes off. Simon is incredibly lucky, in that the bomb was obviously built by someone who had no idea what they were doing. He’s basically left with a nasty hand wound and a wounded sense of pride.
And this goes on. Someone jams plant matter into the intake of the hopper. There are these weird guys that hang around in a fishing boat off the Red Sky dock, etc. A little research on Simon’s part comes up with the idea that the bomb was sent to Red Sky by someone who had used a Hydrospan credit account to buy the materials. But everyone knows (or at least has an idea) that Patterner works for Hydrospan. Why would Hydrospan give two shakes of a stick monkey’s ass about RSC? And where the hell has Patterner been these last few days, anyway? The characters are in the middle of trying to puzzle things out, when a pair of VTOL’s scream over the compound. Amidst the roar of the fans and the wind from the down blast, the RSC guys scatter, convinced they’re under attack. Just before opening fire, Andrew has the wisdom to look out the window and see the GEO logo on the side. He steps out of the bar, and waves one of the VTOL’s down. The bird sets down in front of him, and a GEO Deputy Marshal and a pair of troopers step out. He looks around like “So, this is where the scum live.” And the troopers look at Andrew like “So, this is the scum.” Andrew walks up to talk to the Deputy, who is less than congenial. Their conversation goes something like this:
Marshal “Nice place you have here.”
Andrew “Was, before you landed on my lawn.”
Marshal “I see. Andrew Latimer?”
Marshal “You’re under arrest for the murder of Dr. Stephen Day. You have the right to remain silent, (yada yada yada).”
So, the RSC guys wind up in the slammer, wondering what will happen next. There are a few touching scenes, a good rendition of “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.” Good jail stuff. People banging on bars with tin cups (well okay, plastic cups), people pacing back and forth, etc. The guys are really feeling used and abused, when a CICADA remote hover shows up, and introduces itself as Bearer, the chief general counsel for Hydrospan Industrial, Inc. He’s posted bond, and the RSC guys are free to go, as long as they stay within the general New Freemantle area.
Needless to say, they’re confused.
Ethan “Hey, Andrew?”
Ethan “It was Hydrospan that sent us that bomb, right?”
Ethan “And it was them that set us up with this murder charge, right?”
Ethan “And now they’re paying to spring us out of jail, then give us a lawyer?”
Ethan “Wow. This is really darn weird.”
Andrew “Don’t miss much, do you?”
So, due to time constraints, that’s where we had to end it. Next up, “Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop.”
Hey all you biohazardians:
So, the next in our series…Waiting for the other shoe to drop:
By the time Ethan and Andrew made it back to Red Sky after being sprung out of jail, they’d “really” not had a good day. It was late when they got there, there wasn’t a single customer in the place, and the Bar and their quarters all had been gone through by someone not real interested in winning social points for Decorator of the Month. Digger seemed to be the only person who’d stuck around to defend the place, and he was three sheets to the wind. Ethan snuck into the bar and found him leaning back in his chair, his feet propped up on a table, his hat pulled down over his eyes, and the carcasses of poor, defenseless beer bottles scattered all around him. The good Mr. Merriweather showed his sensitive, caring nature by sneaking up on poor Digger, lifting the rifle out of his sleeping hands, and then screaming “DIGGER!!!!”
Of course, Digger tried to jump in fifty-seven different directions, and wound up falling on his ass. Ethan, of course, found this enormously funny. The fact that Digger slipped on a beer bottle and crashed back to the floor when he tried to grab his rifle back only made it funnier. After Ethan put Digger to bed and Andrew whipped up a batch of his famous Big Kahuna omelets (rolled a 01 on that one, folks), the crew finally managed to get some sleep. Andrew wandered over to his quarters, and Ethan crashed in his squat in the attic. Everything’s calm and peaceful, and as normal as can be when you’re accused of murder.
Needless to say, no one was surprised when Ethan’s watchdog went off about three o’clock in the morning. Fearing the worst, Ethan ran downstairs to the bar and peered out the window to see a furtive, disheveled figure fiddling with something on the outside corner of the bunkhouse. Convinced Andrew’s life was in great danger, Ethan phoned the boss’s bodycomp and woke him up.
As an aside, if Andrew Latimer wakes up anything like Jim Heivilin, it’s not something you want to see close up. Jim levitates directly from sleeping soundly flat on the floor to a fully upright Aikido stance, ready to put the hurt on anybody in the room. It’s funny … as long as you’re not the one who has to wake him up.
Andrew, hearing that there’s somebody “else” messing around with his house, gets pissed. He grabs his rifle, and makes sneaky-sneak down the stairs. Ethan tells him he ought to be able to sneak up to the front window and be able to see the guy. Of course, Ethan fails to mention that, by that time, Andrew would be so close he could see whether or not the guy’s shoes were tied.
Ethan: Don’t move, I’m gonna go get some suppression rounds for my gun.
Andrew: You’re gonna go where??? This guy’s trying to kill me, and you want to “suppress” him?
Ethan: Yeah. It’s all part of my plan.
Ethan takes off, running back up to his room for the suppression rounds in his duffel. But Andrew doesn’t quite feel safe enough. He wants to see what the guy is doing. So, Andrew tries to sneak across the floor to the window, gets almost there, and fails his stealth roll.
Ethan gets back to the bar just in time to see the guy take off running. He rams the barrel of his gorilla gun out the window and starts firing bursts at the guy.
Now, I don’t know what it was about this session, but I COULD NOT ROLL. More times than I could count, the dice took their revenge. The Book says suppression rounds can’t do much damage unless they hit you in the eye. Guess where Ethan’s second burst landed? Yep, you guessed it. So, Monkey Boy jams his gun through the window and lets off a few rounds. The Bad Guy hears it, looks over his shoulder to see where the firing is coming from, and takes it right in the left eye. BAM! Down goes Bad Guy. Ethan sees him go down, and bursts out of the bar, heading around the back of the bunkhouse to see if there’s anybody else. He doesn’t see anybody else, but finds a tank of hydrogen with some electronics stacked on top of it propped against the side of the house. As is his habit when he doesn’t understand something, Ethan smashes the whole thing.
And here comes Andrew, trucking across the compound in his pajamas and carrying a hunting rifle. He finds this poor yutz rolling around on the ground in pain. The guy rolls over on his side, and presses the button on the detonator on his belt.
The remaining hydrogen canister that Bad Guy was working on goes up in a ball of flame, taking part of the front of the bunkhouse with it. Enter Andrew Latimer, man of action, member of the intellectual elite. Does he do something to disarm this poor schmuch who’s been shot in the eye? Does he show mercy to a wounded man? Nope. He shoots him in the ass. That’s right, Boys and Girls, Andrew Latimer stuck his high powered hunting rifle in the Bad Guy’s Gluteus Maximus, and pulled the trigger. Of course, damage came up at a nice Level-3. And, of course, I failed “all” the damage rolls. End result? Andrew sends a high-powered round through the Bad Guy’s abdominal aorta. Showing his first bit of humanity for the evening, Andrew drops his gun and tries to administer first aid. And botches the roll. Again.
Jim: So, now that it’s clear that this is his colon I’m holding in my hand…
Jeff (to ERT guys): Uhh…thanks for putting that fire out, fellas. Guess that’s all. Body? What body? Oohhhhh, ‘that’ body. No, that’s ours. Yeah, we’ll take care of it. Thanks! Have a nice day! G’bye, g’bye, nice to see you again, g’bye!
The day wears on, with not much going on. Andrew finds a newspaper article talking about personnel shakeups at Hydrospan, but not much else…
Andrew: I sure do enjoy the new view out the hole in my wall.
Ethan: And you’ve just got to love that robust mesquite barbecue smell.
…Until Ethan decides that he’s had it. He is finished. He’s done screwing around, and he’s gonna go boot some head. He jumps in the Last Chance, and heads out into the bay. There’s been a fishing boat out there watching them for days now, and he’s had it. He points the boat just to the left of the watchers, planning to swing it around and alongside them at the last minute. Of course, he failed the roll, and Last Chance goes plowing into the bow of this fishing boat.
Earl and LeRoy, it turns out, “have” been watching RSC for the past few days, but only because their boss told them to. They were supposed to be available to lend a hand if things got ugly. Earl and LeRoy, however, would probably be more comfortable on the business end of a micropipette rather than a firearm. When Ethan storms onboard, they promptly wet themselves. After thoroughly scaring the bejeezus out of them, Ethan cuffs them both, jumps back on the Last Chance, and tears off.
Andrew: Ethan, I noticed there’s a dent in the bow of my boat?
Ethan: Yeah? How can you tell?
Andrew: Ethan, you’re going to have to pay for that.
Ethan: Bill me.
So, time marches on, and Ethan only gets more frustrated.
Ethan: Come on, Andrew! Get in the hopper.
Andrew: Uh…where are we going.
Andrew: Like…the guys that set us up for murder, ruined the intake fan on the good hopper, and tried to burn me alive Hydrospan?
Andrew: Oh, ok.
So, Latimer and Monkey Boy take the hopper over to Hydrospan, and get as far as the lobby before they’re efficiently given the runaround by the receptionist and a security goon.
Goon: I have no knowledge about the attack you say was perpetrated on you this morning by Hydrospan, but if the bomb that went off at your residence was marked with a Hydrospan account number, I can assure you that you may bill Hydrospan for any damage that may have occurred.
Andrew: We can bill you??? Okay, I’m ready to go.
Ethan’s not having any, though, and threatens to go to the press. The Security Goon honestly couldn’t care less about the newspapers, since it’s doubtful he could even read. Our Heroes leave in a huff, ready to find the nearest reporter and spill their guts, hoping that the publicity will make Hydrospan back off from whatever they’re trying to do. They climb in the hopper, ready to do some damage, when the phone rings.
It’s Patterner. Finally! The fish that seems to be at the center of all this ugliness finally shows his face. And what does he have to say to the guys? “Guys, don’t go to the press…”
It turns out that the Red Sky guys may be in much deeper than they first thought…
Patterner explains that he’s a senior executive for Hydrospan, and now that the company President has kicked off, there’s suddenly an opening at the top. There are actually 10 or 11 people who are eligible for the job, including Patterner. The other major contender, though, presents a bit of a problem. It seems that the chief of Hydrospan’s Security Systems division is a Sierra Nueva sympathizer named Patriot. Patriot, it seems, is one of the first “Nationalist” dolphins, and he’s extended Manifest Destiny to Poseidon. He’s convinced that if he can take power at Hydrospan, he can throw the whole might of the company behind the effort to throw humans off the planet, leaving a cetaceans-only paradise. And the best way to do that? Discredit the competition by showing his association with known lowlifes like the Red Sky guys. So, going to the press will only publicize all the trouble RSC has been in the recent past, and Patterner will come out looking like a criminal for his part in the “murder” of Dr. Arthur Day.
The guys don’t really give a rip about the human vs. cetacean politics angle, but they also don’t really want to put Patterner in a bad situation. So, they agree to sit there and take it on the chin for as long as possible while Patterner (and, needless to say, the Game Moderator) gets his act together.
They head back to RSC, and start preparing for a siege. Etta, the kids, Digger, and Simon take the (now dented) Last Chance off in some random direction to hole up until they hear it’s safe to come back. Bora, two of his toughest buddies, Ethan, and Andrew dig in at RSC and wait.
Around 13 or 14 o’clock, Bora radios down to Ethan and Andrew that something’s wrong. One of his buddy’s was patrolling down by the south beach, and was in the middle of a report when he quit. The guys figure This Is It, grab their guns, and run. Bora’s up on the roof to provide overwatch, Ethan runs down around the machine shop to see if he can find out what happened to the guard, and Andrew runs around behind the bar.
Now, Hydrospan never knew about this big-ass Warden that likes to hang out with the RSC guys, and he’s really thrown a…er…monkey wrench into the whole deal. I mean, the guy’s got a scale-5 constitution of 120, for crying out loud. So, Ethan goes diving out the front door of Tidewater, and I make my one good roll for the night. There’s a Hydrospan commando out in the surf with a grenade launcher filled with gas grenades. He pickles off a round, and it goes whish-thump-hissssssss right in front of Ethan. He gets a big enough whiff of the thing to stop Arnold Schwarzenegger dead in his tracks…and just keeps on trucking. Damn.
Andrew, meanwhile is heading around behind the Tidewater, hoping to see where the grenades are coming from, and Bora’s perched on the roof, unable to see a damn thing in the gathering gloom. The shooter, however, can see Bora just fine. He settles back into the surf, takes his aim…and rolls a 99. A rogue wave comes up and smacks the shooter in the back just as he lets fly another grenade. The thing flys about two feet before it hits the water’s surface and starts smoking. Of course, it floats like a cork, and the shooter gets at taste of his own gas.
Ethan has about decided that there’s just no way he’s going to see someone out in the surf, so he decides “Hey, I’ve got that neural link. Must be good for something…” So, through his link, he starts up the hopper, picks it up about ten meters off the ground, and flips on the landing lights. He’s gonna fly it down to the southern tip of the point and light up anybody hiding in the water.
Of course, what he really does is light up Andrew, who’s been trying to hide in the stand of trees to the north of Tidewater. The second Hydrospan shooter, in the water past the north edge of the map, spots the hapless guide, and quickly pops off a round. The grenade goes “thunk” into the ground only a few feet from Andrew…who managed to beat my luck roll of 91…who turns, realizes it’s a grenade, gasps, realizes it’s a gas grenade, claps both hands over his mouth, and runs like hell.
“Whoops. Look at the time! Gotta go to work!” Thanks, Jeff. Thanks loads.
So, our heroes hang in the balance. Why is Hydrospan so bent on making their lives hell? Why does Hydrospan refuse to simply kill them? What’s up with the gas grenades? Will Patterner be able to pull this one out? Will Jeff Barber learn a better sense of timing?
Stay Tuned for the next episode…Brother Against Brother
Hey, all you biohazardians! So, it’s been a while. The Red Sky guys have been busy, and I’ve been sorta lazy. But here’s what’s been going on with everybody’s favorite Charter Service.
When last we left our heros, they were in the midst of a firefight with shooters from Hydrospan that nobody could quite find, and who kept lobbing gas grenades at everybody, just to keep things interesting. Andrew had just managed to avoid sucking down a lungfull of sleepy gas, and Ethan had used his remote link to the hopper to use its landing lights to try and find the bad guys. So, Andrew dives back into the bar through the back door, and starts hollering on his link to Bora to get him to shoot the Bad Guy in the surf. Unfortunately for Andrew, Bora’s out cold. Unfortunately for the Bad Guy, Ethan manages to find him with the hopper fairly quickly.
And a short-range surface-to-surface missile turns the Bad Guy into so much fish food. Ethan scans the water with his night scope, and sees a dolphin in a weapons harness cruising back and forth about a kilometer out in the bay. It’s Patterner to the rescue! Or is it? Patterner doesn’t seem to be answering calls to his bodycomp number. Regardless, it’s better than nothing. So, working together, Ethan and the dolphin manage to turn the other shooter into so much shark bait. Without waiting to see how the RSC guys are, the dolphin takes off into the bay and disappears off Ethan’s scope.
The guys are generally fine, but one of Bora’s best buds got whacked pretty hard by the gas and wound up dead. He’s not real happy about that, and he’s even less happy about having to explain it to the guy’s family. Andrew promises them that they’ll be well paid. It’s generally a touching scene - the bereaved widow, the fatherless children, Simon rolling his eyes…
When morning comes, the guys have really had it. They get on the phone to every newspaper, CommCore service, and rumor mill they can find, shouting to the gods about how wronged they’ve been. In fact, Ethan even has a recording of one of the dead shooters in a Hydrospan gillsuit washing up on shore. It’s really gross. The guy’s been blown mostly apart by a near-miss from a missile, eaten by fish, picked over by the scavengers…you get the picture. But he’s clearly a Hydrospan operative. Not a nice thing for your friendly neighborhood Incorporate to be doing.
And just as the guys are finishing up telling their story to the newspapers…Patterner calls. He says “Guys! What the hell are you doing? We had an agreement. You weren’t going to go to the press!”
And Ethan comes apart.
Monkey Boy starts beatin’ his chest, swingin’ from the chandelier, hootin’ and hollerin’ and caryin’ on. Okay, so maybe he didn’t really do all that, but you could see Jeff puff out his chest and switch into “righteous indignation” mode. He leans into the phone’s pickup and starts reading Patterner the riot act. About how much they’ve had to put up with just so he can keep his job, how they’ve all been put at risk, how Andrew’s house went up in flames, how the bar got all shot up, how the CommCore tower got bent out of alignment, how the grass got all messed up from the GEO hoppers, how the customers have all been scared away. And, oh yeah, don’t forget the dead guy that’s a friend of Bora’s. So, if Patterner wants to help out, he’s more than welcome. Otherwise, he’s free to come down to the bar and kiss Ethan’s hairy butt!
But that was some nice moves with the rocket launcher last night…
Patterner is completly caught off guard. Rocket launcher? The guys…I mean…how did you…er…is that…well, maybe he did do a pretty good job, didn’t he? Heh heh heh…Ethan says something like “Yeah, if’n you hadn’t blown up all of Patriot’s goons, it probably would have been a different story.”
Patterner quickly agrees, and says “You know, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if you guys told the press. Why don’t you go ahead. Maybe it’ll scare him into leaving you alone.”
And that’s it. The harassment stops. Right there. The RSC guys hole up, waiting to get invaded or whatever, wishing they could leave and yet not willing to let the bar get blown to hell. But sure enough, the story about how Patriot tried to frame the guys gets around. In fact, there’s even a story about how a native terrorist group got broken up, and the GEO found conclusive evidence linking Patriot to the terrorists. So the Hydrospan cops come a’knockin’. And Patriot gets sent up the river for his actions.
Naturally, the guys aren’t just going to let Hydrospan get away with things that easily. They’ve really been put out by all this infighting, and they’d like some recompense. So Patterner shows up with a whole bevy of lawyers to try to keep the guys from sueing. Andrew starts out by asking for CS 5,000 right off the bat.
Patterner I think we could probably cover 5,000.
Ethan 5,000? I thought he said 500,000. In fact, I’m sure he did. 500,000 as a death bonus for our friend.
Patterner Death bonus? You mean he really died?
Ethan You bet. Only we didn’t tell the papers out of concern for the privacy of his family. So nobody really knows that Hydrospan killed anybody. But I’m sure you’ll want to compensate his family, since you’re all such nice people.
Patterner Okay, 500,000 it is.
Ethan And another 50,000 for us.
Patterner This deal is getting worse all the time.
And that’s pretty much where that scenario wound up. The GEO quit pursuing the murder charge, since Hydrospan suddenly couldn’t come up with that damning evidence. Digger, Etta, and company came back. The bar started up again, and everything went pretty much back to normal.