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Robert Russell (order #7779278)

Robert Russell (order #7779278)


>> HARD TARGETS <<

TABLE OF CONTENTS
JACKPOINT 4 Guanabacoa 109
San Miguel del Padron 111
INTRODUCTION 5 October Tenth 114
Cerro 114
JUSTICE FOR HIRE 6 Marianao 115
Arroyo Naranjo-Boyeros 116
DESPERATE TIMES 10 OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST 119
ON THE LINE 11 Guantnamo Bay 119
CFD 11 Mariel 120
Looking at a Lockdown 15 Isle of Youth (Treasure Island) 120
Whats Up with Ares 19 Varadero 122
Aztechnology: Fertile Fields of Blood 21 ORGANIZED CRIME 122
The Darkest Shadows 22 Batista 122
Ordo Maximus: Stakes at the Ready 22 Triad 124
Shedim: On the Verge of Extinction 24 Vory 124
Black Lodge: Dragon-Size Bullseye 25 Zobop 125
Revising History 26 Sukuyan 126
The Little Eight 28 Januarius 127
Trouble in Paradise 30 RENFIELD 127
Next Big Initiative of Danielle de la Mar 33 GAME INFORMATION 128
The D Word 34 Corps Cadavre 128
Not on Your Radar 34 Grand Zombie 129
Pacifying the Pacific Northwest 36 Obeah 129
While No One Was Looking 38 Santera 130
CFD on the Streets 39 Spirit Writing 130
...AND DESPERATE MEASURES 42 Zombies 131
Zubembie powder 131
IN THE CROSSHAIRS 43 Zombie (Minion) Ritual 131
NEUTRAL GROUND 43 Awakened Creatures of the Caribbean 132
The Hidden Blades 44 Loa, Orisha, and You 134
The Unwavering Shield 55 Water 135
HIRING MEATSHIELDS 59 Guardian 135
Man 135
HIRING HITMEN 59
Guidance 136
HIRING DUPES 60 Task 136
Earth 136
KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS 62 Mentor Spirits 136
WHOS WHO IN THE MURDER WORLD 63 LIFE MODULES 137
The Killers: Those Who Make Others Dead 64 Nationality 137
The Saviors: Those Who (Try To) Keep People Alive 70 Languages 137
The Hunters: Turning Killers Into Prey 72 Teen Years 138
SLOW AND STEADY DEATH 76 Real Life 138
VEHICLES 139
HAVANA: DALE A TODO METER! 80 ADVANCED LIFSTYLES 139
BRIEF HISTORY OF CUBA 81 Additional Rules 139
Shared Advanced Lifestyles 140
HAVANA 86
I ran out of Points, but want more stuff 140
How to Get Around 87 Lifestyle Options 140
Family Business 89 Lifestyle Qualities 141
NEIGHBORHOODS 94 Lifestyle Examples 142
Old Havana 94 CHAMELEON 144
Playa 100
Revolution Plaza 102 BECOMING DEATH 148
Central Havana 104
Regla 106 KILLERS BORN AND MADE 149
Eastern Havana 107 Origins 149

2 CONTENTS/CREDITS >>

Robert Russell (order #7779278)


>> HARD TARGETS <<

Morality 151 Reloading Drone 189


The Skillset 152 Adept Powers 190
The Opportunity 153 Positive Qualities 191
The Lifestyle 154 Negative Qualities 191
The Knot 155 Spells 191
Safehouse 156 The Ways and The Means 192
The Territory 157 Alchemy 194
The Mark 160 Adept 194
The Contingency 167
Magical
The Drop 167
Assassination Tactics 195
Timing 167
Withdrawal 168 Assassination Knowledge Skills 195
Living With It 169 Assassin Contacts 196
References and Assets 170 Expanded Weapon Concealment Rules 196
Loose Ends 170 Expanded Bow Rules 197
Stress 171 New Archetype 197
The Burn 172 GAME INFORMATION 198
The Rep 173
Brand Identity and Signatures 174 WETWORK AND TEAMWORK 198
IN PACE REQUISAT 176 LIFE MODULES 199
THE WETWORK TOOLKIT 178 Real Life 199
ADVENTURE HOOKS 201
A WORKMAN IS ONLY AS GOOD AS HIS TOOLS 178
Breaking Brackhaven 201
Weapons 178
Connect the Dots 201
Weapon Modifications 180
Signature Weapons 183 Cutting the Psyche 201
Armor/Clothing 184 Denver Two-step 201
Armor Modifications 185 A Dozen Decoys 201
Cyberware/Bioware 185 Hunting the Hunters 201
Miscellaneous Gear 186 Kill the Carrier 202
Disguise Gear 188 Ork Uprising 202
Ammunition 188 Sparking the Keg 202
Drones 189 The Watching of Red Chief 202

HARD TARGETS CREDITS


Writing: Kevin Czarnecki, Jason M. Hardy, Alexander Kadar, Interior Art: Bruno Balixia, Melvin Chan, Victor Corbella,
Adam Large, Chris Mastey, Scott Schletz, R.J. Thomas, Laura Diaz Cubas, Kenneth Fairclough, Homeros
Michael Wich Gilani, David Hovey, Ian King, Jeff Laubenstein, Alyssa
Editing: Kevin Killiany Menold, Victor Manuel Leza Moreno, John Petersen,
Art Direction: Brent Evans Andre Rogers, Seth Rutledge, Andreas AAS Schroth,
Cover Art: Gordon Bennetto Marc Sintes, Takashi Tan, and Eric Williams
Cover Layout: Matt Heerdt Shadowrun Line Developer: Jason M. Hardy
Iconography: Nigel Sade Proofreading: Raymond Croteau, Mason Hart, Andrew
Interior Layout: Matt Wrath Heerdt Marshall

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<< CONTENTS/CREDITS 3
Robert Russell (order #7779278)
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Robert Russell (order #7779278)


INTRODUCTION Desperate Times, an overview of many hotspots in the
world and the situations that are leading people to put
out more and more money to fund wetwork missions.
Shadowrunners will punch you in the face and tear out The next chapter, and Desperate Measures, gets into
your nose hairs, one by one, before admitting they do
some of the nuts and bolts of the assassination business,
anything like the megacorps. But like the corps, and like
looking at some of the jobs that are out there and what
billions of humans before them, they share a tenden-
runners need to do to start claiming the money attached
cy for euphemism. Assassination is a loaded word,
to them. Killers, Saviors, and Hunters looks at some of
and cold-blooded slaughter doesnt sound good at
the notable assassins of the Sixth World so that players
all. Since its the type of work people are willing to pay
can learn about the competitionor the people theyll
good money for, they need a name for this activity, so
need to stop.
they gave it one: wetwork. Some runners refuse to do
Then theres Havana: Dale a Todo Meter!, which
it on principle, others draw a line about who they will
looks at the wild and wooly city of Havana in the Ca-
kill and why in an effort to believe that they are not as
damned as their conscience sometimes tells them they ribbean League, a hotspot for all sorts of wetwork jobs.
are. No one can ignore it. Following that, Becoming Death looks at the different
In the end, when the rubber meets the roador, ways people fall into the assassination game, while
more appropriately, when the bullet meets the flesh also providing a detailed look at what assassins need
runners will do what they need to in order to survive, to know and do in order to wind up on the successful
and chances are good that will involve wetwork. May- end of their wetwork jobs. The Wetwork Toolkit fol-
be theyll come in on the guardian angel side of the job, lows that up with some tools, gear, magic, and other
protecting people targeted from assassination or track- equipment that should be on the shopping list of any
ing down hardened killers. Or maybe the lure of large bleeding-edge assassin. To wrap it up, Game Informa-
amounts of money will pull them across the line into tion offers plot hooks, Life Modules, and more for play-
the realm of paid killers. They may be staining their con- ers and gamemasters putting a wetwork spin on their
science, but theyll have plenty of long nights to think Shadowrun games.
about the many ways the money they are earning can With this information, runners can decide what wet-
bring them some degree of comfort. work jobs they will take, which ones they will hinder,
If youre a shadowrunner who is going to be in- which lives they will save, and which they will take. They
volved in wetwork, either on the prevention or commis- can claim the power waiting for themas long as they
sion side, Hard Targets is what you need. It starts with accept the corruption that inevitably comes with it.

>> INTRODUCTION << 5


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
JUSTICE
FOR HIRE
One man. over the Seattle policing contract. Never mind that none of
Thats what it all came down to. Three weeks of prep work those metahumans were armed. There was the troll he shot in
and planning, all to eliminate one man. the back five timesbut it was a troll, who automatically looked
The thought snuck into Ases mind as she cycled through threatening, so of course West was at risk, right? Besides, five
the security camera feeds. Her mind tended to wander at shots were the minimum required to bring down a troll. To
times like these, the calms before the storms, especially when make things worse, Wests record of brutality went hand in
her job was reduced to watching and waiting. Like now. hand with a massive increase in the number of anti-meta bru-
Still, she couldnt deny that even this relatively mundane tality complaints against the Renton precincts officers since he
duty gave her a bit of an ego boost. Sitting in the teams van, took it over two years ago. Just criminals who were mad they
decked into enough cameras to oversee every square inch of got caught, according to Wests press releases.
a block of Downtown Seattle, Ase truly felt like the All-Seeing Bad stuff if you were a metahuman, and it was apparent-
Eye that inspired her runner name. ly about to get worse. According to the guy who hired Ases
Cut that drek out. Youre a professional, dammit. team, KE Seattle Division head Ellen Ward was due for a pro-
The mental rebuke dope-slapped Ase back to reality, refo- motion sometime soon, and West was on the short list of can-
cusing her on the task at hand: providing overwatch and coor- didates to succeed her. That would give him a chance to make
dination for her team. his racist philosophies and practices SOP at all Seattle Knight
Their mission was the elimination of a Knight Errant cop Errant precincts, a possibility that the anonymous Mr. Johnson
named Captain Daniel West. Not just a run-of-the-mill beat was willing to pay top nuyen to ensure never happened.
cop, mind: he was the head of the Renton precinct and a fif- Truthfully, that was Ases primary motivation for taking this
teen-year veteran. jobthe money. She had a feeling that, as a troll, she ought to
He was also a racist and a murderer hiding behind the au- have a more personal interest in the matter, but she didnt. Nor
thority of his position. Not in the eyes of the law, of course; in- did she hold to any of that high-and-mighty, Kill one, save
ternal investigations had ruled all of the metahuman deaths at a thousand bulldrek that some assassins bought into. She
his hands justifiedtwenty-seven such deaths since KE took was just a professional doing a job that promised her enough

6 JUSTICE FOR HIRE <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
BY CHRIS MASTEY

cred to live comfortably for another few months. She had her we frag this up. Radio silence from here on out unless some-
share of metahuman friends who were more politically mind- thing goes bad. Ase out.
ed spamming her inbox with forwarded rants about how The With that, Ase turned her attention back to the camera,
Man was trampling on their rights. She deleted them on sight. watching intently as the target walked towards his demise.
She toggled through the various camera feeds with her
usual stoicism, waiting for West to make his regular post-shift
trip to Renos, his favorite Downtown Seattle bar.
It didnt take Ase long to find the target. West was right Even lost as he was in the song he was singing, Nye couldnt
on time, walking toward Renos with two of his usual drinking help but smile at Ases admonition.
buddies from the Renton precinct. Everyone knew the back No problem in my case, the elf thought. I have no personal
rooms of Renos hosted some good shadow activitiesWest feelings about this.
and his jackass pals probably got off on feeling like they were Well, that wasnt entirely true. He did feel a bit ridiculous in the
staring down the mouth of evil criminals and intimdating shabby winter clothes he was wearing to disguise himself as a
them into lawfulness by their mere presence. When in truth, street singer performing a few storefronts down from Renos. Still,
any runners working in the place knew damn well how to do it was his role in the job, and he was getting paid well to do it.
their business without some drek-brained off-duty cop inter- Plus, if he was honest, Nye had to admit that pulling peo-
fering with them. ples strings was just plain fun to him. He took pride in the fact
Target sighted approaching from the south, Ase radioed that he could control someone with just a few choice words,
to her teammates. ETA three minutes. Everyone remember without that person even knowing they were being played.
their roles? Frag mages and their mind control spellshe, a total mun-
Every team member signaled in the affirmative. dane, had been bullshitting people and making them dance
Good. Now everyone remember: stick to the plan. I dont like marionettes since high school. Granted, shadowrunning
care what your personal feelings are about this guy. Right now, had forced him to up his game considerably, but he didnt
hes just a walking paycheck, one that we wont get to cash if mind. He loved the challenge.

>> JUSTICE FOR HIRE 7


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
And looking to the south, Nye could see his latest chal- these cops in the palm of his hand. He just hoped that the rest
lenge heading his wayCaptain West and his two drinking of the team stuck to the plan.
buddies.
He wasnt ready to spring the trap just yet, though. He had
to act natural until they came close enough so hed have the
element of surprise. And so he kept on singing, nodding in Frag the plan. Kill em all.
The thought had crossed Hammerhands mind at least
mock thanks to the passersby that stopped for a few seconds
a dozen times since hed taken his position in the dark alley
to take in his performance. A few even made quick virtual de-
across the street from Renos. And as the three pawns got
posits into the ARO hat he had sitting in front of him, giving
roped in by Nyes fanboy act, it only intruded more frequently
him a few extra nuyen of spending money. Damn, Im good,
and insistently.
he thought.
To hell with the plan. You could kill all three of them in as many
Nye stole a glance at the officers. About thirty meters away. seconds, easy.
Almost there he thought as he finished his current song, Hammerhands role in the mission was to strike at Wests
making a show of catching his breath to fill the gap between two drinking buddies from behind once they were sufficient-
the end of the song and the officers arrival. ly distracted by Nyes ego-stroking performance. Not to kill,
Just as Nye finished adjusting his stocking cap to make sure thoughhe was only supposed to incapacitate them, depriv-
it covered his pointed ears, West and his pals passed within ing West of support (and human shields) when the teams
spitting distance. sniper fired the fatal shot.
Showtime. That nagging thought tempted him more and more as the
Step one: Get them to pay attention to him. A good kind of moment of truth grew near, though. This mission was more
attentionit wouldnt do the mission much good if they just than just a paycheck for him; it was personal. He was a hu-
punched him in the face and left him bleeding on the street. man, but hed watched his kid brother goblinize into an ork at
Nye knew from experience with cops that an appeal to their the age of thirteen and helped him through the post-change
ego was usually the best way to go about that. trauma.
Hey, its the heroes of the streets! Nye exclaimed as West And then, years later, hed been forced to watch helplessly
and his entourage passed in front of him. The fearless war- as that brother lay in a coma for six months thanks to some
riors in black, on the attack! drekhead Humanis assholes who thought being an ork walk-
West turned his head towards Nye, and for a brief, tense ing through Renton was a crime punishable by a near-fatal
second, the elf saw a familiar look in the officers eye. A look beating. Hed been forced to endure the Lone Star detectives
that said the cop was sizing him up, trying to determine condescending bullshit (Maybe he shouldnt have been walk-
whether or not this was a trick of some kind. ing through Renton in the first place) and the half-assed in-
A second later, the look disappeared and a smile crossed vestigation that never resulted in any justice for his brother.
Wests face. Do it for your brother. Three quick slices across their throats is
Hey there! the cop said as he extended his hand. Always all it would take.
nice to meet a fan. The sound of Nye beginning his distraction song snapped
Mistake number one: Letting your guard down, Nye thought Hammerhands out of his revenge-fueled daydreams and back
as he shook Wests hand. to reality. It would soon be time for him to strike, but not yet.
Step two: Rope them into being an audience. He had to wait for them to become entranced by Nyes per-
Hey, your guys work has protected my broke hoop more formance.
times than I can count, Nye said with just enough friendliness When you strike, strike to kill.
to sound genuine without sounding like a suck-up. You on The adepts hands clenched into fists as he watched the
patrol right now? three bastards and felt his anger grow. Not quite ready yet
Nah, were just heading out to get an after-shift drink, Youve got your knife on your belt. One quick draw, three slash-
West replied. es, and itd all be over.
Sounds like fun, Nye said. You guys got time for a spe- Hammerhands saw the three cops nodding their heads to
cial performance in your honor? the beat of the song.
West and his drinking buddies exchanged glances, each of It was just the sign he was waiting for.
them nodding. Now!
Why the heck not? West said. Whatre you gonna sing Hammerhands dashed from the dark alley towards the
for us? cops, covering the distance between them in what seemed
Your funeral dirge, Nye thought as he ran through his mental like an instant, the sound of his footsteps completely masked
playlist for a good tune. by his adept abilities.
Step three: Spring the trap. Kill those sons of bitches!
All right, Ive got a good one, Nye said as he started his The thought intruded into Hammerhands mind one final
song. time as he prepared to deliver the first blow. There was no
Before he even finished the first verse, Nye knew he had doubt in his mind that he would be fast enough to pull it off.

8 JUSTICE FOR HIRE <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
He pulled his right hand back to his waist as he started the from Renos. Getting in hadnt been a problemThird Eyes
stride that would bring the first cop within striking distance. talent for hacking electronic locks hadnt failed her in the mo-
His foot came down, striking the pavement but making no ment of truth, and Ases Matrix support kept them hidden
sound, his target blissfully unaware of his presence even as he from the street cameras. Wraths invisibility spells had done
closed to melee range the rest, hiding the two sisters from the buildings cameras
And he thrust his right arm forward with a closed fist, strik- and the eyes of the buildings few after-hours workers as they
ing the cop in just the right nerve cluster to render him uncon- made their way to their vantage point.
scious. The black-uniformed pawn dropped to the pavement Since then it had been a waiting game, with Third Eyes
like a rag doll. crosshairs never leaving Wests head once he showed up.
Before West and his other buddy could register their Now, Hammerhands just needed to make his move.
friends peril, Hammerhands executed a spin move to his left Lets go, Hammerhands! How much longer must justice wait?
that ended with a side kick to the same nerve cluster on his No sooner did the thought enter Third Eyes mind than a
other target, knocking him out as well. blurry figure entered the corner of her vision, rushing toward
Hammerhands allowed himself a slight smile and a brief one of Wests racist buddies.
moment of schadenfreude at the look of horror beginning to Finally.
form on Wests face as he finally registered his friends condi- In a literal blink of an eye, the cop on Wests right was uncon-
tions. It was only a moment, thoughbefore West could turn scious on the pavement and Hammerhands was moving on to
around and face his friends attacker, Hammerhands sprinted the other one, his movements too fast for Third Eye to follow. She
into the concealing shadows of another dark alley. blinked again, and by the time she opened her eye, both cops
As he ran, part of his mind chastised him for sparing the were unconscious. Hammerhands was nowhere to be seen.
two cops. Third Eye, youre clear to fire.
They were just as bad as West! They should die before anyone In the moment before she squeezed the trigger, Third Eye
else suffers at their hands! felt a rush of pure emotional energy, the feeling of divine righ-
Hammerhands couldnt argue with that. But he also knew teousness waxing ever greater in her mind, body, and soul.
that, even as fast and as skilled as he was, there was a chance Third Eye savored the feeling even as her eye remained fo-
something could have gone wrong if hed ad-libbed. And if cused on Wests head.
something had gone wrong, the rest of the team wouldve This ones for all my friends whove suffered because of people
needed to adjust their tactics on the fly. That would have tak- like you, West.
en time, and even a few extra seconds could have allowed With the tightening of her right index finger, Third Eye let
West and his flunkies to recover from the shock and shoot the
her 7.62 millimeter divine bolt of justice fly.
whole thing to hell.
Less than a second later, as though it were homing in
He never would have forgiven himself if hed fragged the
on Wests demonic soul, the bolt found its mark, splattering
plan up and let that bastard West get away. For now, Wests
across the sidewalk the brain that had taken pleasure in the
death would have to be enough.
deaths of so many innocents.
All he could do now was hope that Third Eye and Wrath
Third Eye smiled as she stood up for the first time in an
came through.
hour, barely noticing the aching in her legs as she savored her
teams triumph.
Ases voice coming through her earpiece radio jolted Third
Third Eye felt like a god. Eye out of her internal celebration.
Maybe it was unprofessional and egotistical of her, but she Mission completed, team, Ase said. Time to bail. Meet
couldnt help herself. Cloaked by her sister Wraths invisibility at the designated rendezvous point. Ase out.
spell, looking through the scope of a sniper rifle, preparing to Third Eye nodded as she collected the single spent shell
put a bullet through the head of a racist cop and save poten- casing and slung her rifle. As she started for the door, she saw
tially thousands of lives in the process, it was tough for Third Wrath open her eyes.
Eye not to feel like a vengeful god waiting to smite the demon My spells say the coast is clear, Wrath said. Lets get the
in human flesh named Daniel West. hell out of here.
Captain West. Another racist making metahumans lives The smile never left Third Eyes face as the two sisters
hell. As an ork, Third Eye was no stranger to scum like that. made their way out of the building. Not many jobs brought
Shed met a bunch of them in her 23 years, and so had her her this kind of satisfaction, the kind unrelated to the pile of
meta family members and friends. Whether they were author- cred that was coming her way. Someone once said, All thats
ity abusers like West or just random racist morons, they all be- necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do noth-
lieved that the only good meta was a dead meta. ing. Tonight, Third Eye and her comrades did something. They
They all deserved what Third Eye was waiting to give West: struck a blow for justice by thwarting an evil mans rise to pow-
justice, in the form of a bullet to the head. er, saving thousands of metahuman lives and avenging those
Third Eye and her sister, also an ork, were holed up in a already stolen.
private office in the high-rise office building across the street For Third Eye, that was a reward greater than nuyen.

>> JUSTICE FOR HIRE 9


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
H ARD TA RG E T S

DESPERATE
TIMES
As the door of the ultra-sleek Rolls-Royce Phaeton Not yet. Got a few security features Im going to
limousine whispered itself shut, Riser looked across need to work my way past.
the faintly lit expanse of the back of the expensive What kind of features?
extraction tool. He watched as the young man in the Data bombs, blinker programs, some black ICnas-
ill-fitting Armani suit crawled over and curled into a ty brain-fryer stuff. Im going to need a few hours.
comfortable corner. There was a moment of nostalgia, Riser couldnt help but smile. He could also read the
or at least recalled memory, for Riser as he saw his for- kids body language and knew the kid took the look as a
mer self in the man. Not just the Riser he was before good sign. Inexperienced. Just how Riser liked them. He
CFD, but the young Riser that had grown up on the tensed his forearm muscle and twisted his wrist slight-
streets. Those days when runs involved being a poser ly to release the manual catch for his wrist holster that
in an ill-fitting suit hoping that no one noticed he was pushed the small Ares pistol into his waiting fingers. The
just a ganger in a costume. smartlink came instantly online, and Riser got the last of
The kid reminded him of his former self in other ways the confirmations he needed. He squeezed the trigger
too. He was shrewd, street smart, angrier than he had a while the smartlink system told him the gun was aimed
right to be, and willing to take a chance and put it all on at the kids left arm. A little wing clip as a warning.
the line to try and get ahead. This last part was actually The small-caliber slug slammed hard into the trauma
why Riser had picked him for this job in the first place. plate built into the kids armored vest. The shot knocked
The kid was a solid decker with decent equipment, but the wind out of him. Though stunned, the kid still man-
it was his willingness to take risks that got him the call. aged to reach for his own pistol, but Riser was already
During the initial meet, Riser laid it all out. He made across the space and planting a foot on the kids forearm
sure the kid knew it was a simple overwatch gig with as it crossed his chest, reaching for the shoulder rig. The
some basic Matrix assistance. Nothing exciting. Noth- impact of Risers foot on his chest, softened by the fore-
ing strenuous. And it played out like it was sold. The kid arm, was enough to get the point across.
went in ahead, got the necessary access, and then just Clear the security features and transfer the data to
waited and watched Riser, a consummate professional, my link. Then scrub your copy. Risers voice was even
pull off a smooth B&E without a single moment of ten- and calm.
sion. At least that was the story he was sharing in the The kid took a good thirty seconds to finally get his
back of the limousine. Riser knew, not in the its a cer- breath. When he finally spoke, he demonstrated his con-
tain fact way but in the I know why I hired you way, tinued lack of experience.
that it wasnt true. I need time, the kid tried to lie.
Did you read the files yet, Riser interjected in the Clear the data bomb or Ill put the next one through
middle of the third rendition of the kids Nope, I didnt your deck, Riser said calmly, but emphasized the point
do anything else while I was in there. by shaking the pistol in his hand slightly.
What? the kid said, with not quite enough confu- Ha. My decks cranial, the kid said defiantly.
sion in his tone. I know. Riser straightened his arm and placed the
The ones you skimmed. Have you read those files broad cylindrical end of the pistols silencer against the
yet? Risers matter-of-fact tone and direct stare were kids forehead. And regardless of the virus you dropped
enough to express just how bad of an idea it would be into my smartlink, Im sure to hit my target from here.
to continue the innocent schoolboy routine.

10 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
ON THE LINE simple denizens of the streets must face issues that can
only be dealt with in one way, the hard path of wet-
work. With that thought in mind I present to you, 2077:
Its interesting to watch the world through the scope Through the Scope.
of a high-powered rifle. You see only a narrow field,
but you see it in such great detail. You take in so much
more without the distractions. And the crosshairs are
CFD
an ever-present reminder of the limitations of life, the Ill start where I started, with Cognitive Fragmentation
imminent and unknown doom that could be around Disorder. This has been one of the most thorough cov-
any corner, and, most of all, the power I hold over all er-ups the megacorporations have ever done. Inter-
I survey. mixed within their new Matrix cooperation was the ini-
I call myself Riser, because thats what everyone tial foundation for their cooperation in Boston and the
else calls me, but its not who I am. Dont get me wrong, coordinated efforts we have seen since trying to keep
theres still a lot of Riser in mehe was a remarkable ex- the masses in the dark. This coordination extends only
ample of humanity that I was not willing to erase from so far as the public moral compass of those involved
existencebut I am so much more. As such, Ive gath- will bend. Beyond that is where I, and others without
ered the following over the past several months in or- the hindrance of moral qualms and in possession of
der to rekindle a relationship that was lost when I joined certain skills, come in to execute plans best left from
with Riser and first became involved with JackPoint. the sight of even other members of that narrow group
of conspirators. From here Ive watched the threat of
CFD unfold.
> Riser? The Riser? And a remarkable example of
The terror of CFD should have reached epic propor-
humanity? Cant be the same hoophole we knew. Is this
tions and exploded with the events of Boston, but the
for real?
coalition between the megacorporations and the Cor-
> Sticks
porate Court made it impossible for the world to know.
A fabricated encephalitis virus later, and Boston is a cash
> Read on. Its valuable, regardless of the source. cow of donations for research and aid. The CC is playing
> Glitch coordinator for the efforts there, but all the individual
megas are making their own moves around the world
I am not here to beg forgiveness for the sins of Riser related to CFD. I should know, Ive taken several of the
during our initial integration, but instead to offer a view contracts on names we all know and loved. Youve heard
of what I can offer this gathering of shadow-knowledge. they were gone. Public spectacles were made of their
I was impressed very early on with one of the ideals of funerary services while backroom deals started the min-
JackPointthat it doesnt matter who you are, it only ute they were gone in order to fill the power vacuums
matters that you bring value to the site. While I under- and make sure their deaths best served corporate inter-
stand everyone began to panic over the presence of ests. The work cascades from there. A power vacuum
head cases in your midst, especially with one of them as big as these people left sucks the life out of plenty
being Fastjack himself, I also appreciate that Plan 9 has of their would-be successors. Special thanks goes out
been granted access again because it offers a valuable to the various runner teams I used to help with several
insight into so many areas no one else dares to speak of. of these.
With that as my greatest consideration, I offer up
this piece. It is a view of some of the shadows largest > Before I read on, can someone please tell me that
issues through the brutal reality of the assassins eye. whatever drek this head case is spewing has been vetted
Death is often the only solution for the problems aris- before you popped it up over here?
ing. The megacorporations, governments, and even > 2XL

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 11


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

KATRINA THYSSEN, ZETA-IMPCHEM;


> No. It hasnt. Because that isnt the job. We deliver the
CONFIRMED HEAD CASE
data. You sift through and pull the nuggets of gold out
Thyssens status as a head case wasnt surprising. Her
from the wash. You dont want to read further do to that,
work on a cure/solution for the problem was genuine,
your loss. If it makes you feel any better, therell be some
though, and thus it confuses me as to why someone
payoff at the end.
wanted her gone. That didnt stop the job from get-
> Glitch
ting done, but it created a lot more questions than an-
swers. Z-IC moved up the target list for data on CFD
> Geez, Glitch. Wake up on the wrong side of the deck? after Thyssen was gone, and some speculate that she
> 2XL was stifling the work being done, and the work is now
pushing ahead without her. I got a peek at her work,
CONFIRMED KILLS and she very clearly was pushing the envelope. If oth-
First up, a quick look at several individuals who are no ers in the company are branching out on whatever she
longer with us and what their deaths might mean to the was doing, they may get somewhere, but if they are all
world at large. These are the confirmed kills, because I just trying to copy the work she already did, it will be a
confirmed them. Some I pulled the trigger myself, oth- while before anything useful comes of it.
ers I worked with a team but saw the final result. Unless When I looked into who set up the original contract,
CFD gives a head case the ability to resurrect from the I was stalled at every turn. Whoever it was covered their
dead, these folks are gone. tracks well and paid off the right people to keep it quiet.

GEORGINA HAMPTON, GAVILAN > Z-IC is one of the main supporters of the Megacorporate
VENTURES: CONFIRMED HEAD CASE Audit. Theyre looking for partners or potential purchases
Hampton was an easy mark. Gavilan may be a ma- among the other megacorps.Thyssen was opposed to the
jor stockholder in Ares, but Hamptons security was whole thing, so maybe the hit on her had less to do with
obviously not on the top of their priority list. Maybe CFD and more to do with the Revision. If someone could
someone higher up knew she was a head case and just ID the contractor, they could likely shed some light on
made sure she had the laziest and most undisciplined that.
private protection detail, but getting in rifle range of her > Mr. Bonds
Austin ranch and making sure the place was burned to
the ground with a runner team was far easier than the AVERY SHORK, UCAS POLITICIAN:
payday would indicate. The contract came through dis- CONFIRMED HEAD CASE
creet channels, but Ive made sure to evaluate all such Shork was a tough nut to crack because he had sur-
channels lately due to my own greatly desired sta- rounded himself with others of our kind. After leaving
tus. This, and almost every other hit on this list, came office he slipped into obscurity but continued to reach
through the Coalition, a known contracting agency for out to contacts within the UCAS government to influ-
the Corporate Court. ence the politics of the nation. When the UCAS decid-
Hamptons death has been yet another blow to the ed to pull back some of their support from the Boston
shaky infrastructure of Ares. This move did not shake quarantine it was Avery who pushed the right buttons
the heavens, but it has opened the floodgates for other to get the decision turned around. For head cases on
pieces of the Gavilan team to jockey for her position of the outside, Boston is an apocalyptic endgame. If the
control at the Ares stockholder firm. The chaos has de- world really finds out what happened inside, theyll
layed several votes since Hampton was terminated, as quickly suspect that this event did not begin or end
well as whatever she was working on in her little head with Boston. Then well see the witch hunt begin. The
case brain. Watch Gavilan for job opportunities from announcement that Shork drowned after the boom
within as well as freelance chances with fallout from of his sailboat came loose from a snapped line and
Hamptons private efforts. knocked him unconscious and overboard worked great
for the public, but his new friends and followers know
> Gavilan is getting looked at hard during the Corporate better. The lack of a body has made many of those folks
Court audit. As a shareholder in Ares, it would seem theyd think he is not gone and is instead swimming back to
avoid the attraction of the auditors who are supposedly them or waiting to be found after foul play sent him off
focusing on the lesser megacorps. The truth might be a to sea. His body is now just another part of the Atlantic
front to make it all look fair. Or perhaps Gavilan is doing food chain and his head is a fine mist created by a half
something Ares other dominant forces dont like and is kilo block of high grade commercial explosives.
getting a little reminder of their place in the world.
> Mr. Bonds > Can CFD infect sea life?
> Glitch

12 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

other four were each from separate offices that were all
> Do you ever stop trying to give me nightmares?
related to financial affairs. My first thought was an at-
> Slamm-0!
tempt at infecting a group all at once but he didnt do
anything that could pass the virus on until late in the
The future of Shorks followers is unknown. Without
evening, and it wasnt directly aimed at the others.
a contract Im not interested in cleaning house, but their
Alberstadt downed nearly a score of drinks and was
New Brunswick compound is straight out of an episode
assisted to his car by a few sycophantic underlings. At
of Cults Revealed: Truth in Truthsayers. Independent
the car he bent over and started vomiting. The splatter
operators looking to cash in on some of those open
was getting all over the others shoes, and I picked up his
offers from megas interested in CFD-infected subjects
ruse. He had pulled out the easiest to manipulate from
could consider this place a gold mine. Others more in-
the group he had already selected and was spreading
terested in cleansing the world of the CFD virus could
the infected nanites onto their clothes. Luckily, that days
consider it a good start or a solid notch in the belt. Head
immediate option, what I call my contingencies for hits
cases looking for a place to be with their own kind can
that need to go down right away, was a car bomb. A
consider this place a haven where they can learn about
mental click later and Alberstadt and four future head
what they are.
case cronies were disposed of in a fiery explosion.
I cant guarantee he didnt slip something into the
> Thats a different Riser. I see the value in points one and
drinks or food of the other six winners, but I know I
two, farm em or fry em, but why mention it as a place to
stopped him from starting something with those four.
go? Obviously thats the head case side of him talking and As Ill point out often, its a place for others to look.
looking to support his kind. The six others can be identified here [link]. My contract
> Kane stopped at Alberstadt.

> Or the old Riser looking to draw more flies to the trap. > Thats the Riser we know. Unless theres money in killing,
> /dev/grrl hes not interested. Im certainly leaning toward accepting
him back if it gets put up to a vote. Keep your enemies
KLAUS ALBERSTADT, CEO, KRUPP closer and all that. Plus, its entertaining. I come here for a
MUNITIONS (SAEDER-KRUPP good laugh as often as I do for intel. Probably more.
SUBSIDIARY): CONFIRMED HEAD CASE > Kane
Klaus was an interesting operation. I watched him for
weeks as he went about a normal life. As he was the ANATOLY KIRILENKO, CEO, EVO:
CEO of a major S-K subsidiary, I wasnt privy to any HEAD CASE STATUS: UNCONFIRMED
documents he was tampering with, funds he was mov- I watched Kirilenko and never found a hole in his se-
ing on the sly, or hiring he was influencing. All I could curity wide enough to use on my own. I could have
watch was his physical activities. Thats a problem for a dropped him with a bullet from a kilometer out, but
solo operative who lacks skills in certain aspects of the even if I did he had the kind of security that would snag
shadows and doesnt trust anyone to work by their side. even that kind of shooter. With no prospect for a clean
Its a big reason I want back onto JP. Even though weve shot, I simply watched and waited. The payoff was
always had our differences, I at least know I can trust worth a long wait, and my monetary status has been
the JP crew when the chips are down. Back to the point. stable for a good long while, so I could afford the time.
Physically, Kirilenko kept a low profile. He attend-
> Trust us? We never trusted him and he never trusted us. ed minimal meetings and did most of his work from
> /dev/grrl the road or the air. He met with contacts via the Matrix
and even spent some time up on Evos orbital station. I
> Fastjack trusted him enough for that Albuquerque job. It couldnt follow but I caught back up on the ground after.
may have lead down a very dark rabbit hole, but it proves The break from surveillance gave me time to set up a job
this things point. with some up and comers in our world. I spread around
> Stone a decent chunk and bought myself the right tools for the
job. Kirilenko didnt make it another month dirtside; the
I was on the verge of writing off the head case con- team I hired is in the wind with a decent payout, and Im
tract when I finally spotted something strange. He was a good chunk richer for claiming the contract. It pays to
out for a drink with a few colleagues. That would have be in with the pros.
been quite strange, but he had created a small contest This job has had some serious consequences. For the
between personnel from six of the Essen offices. The megacorp, it left a void high up in Evo that has everyone
winners got dinner and drinks with the boss and a 2,500 making moves to approach the top seat; for the crime
nuyen bonus. The winners seemed staged, as six of the syndicates it severed the strongest Vory connection Evo
ten were from the same manufacturing plant, while the had to their hometown, Vladivostok; and for the streets

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 13


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

it boiled some bad blood that was already bubbling be- such, but the Evo family has been discussing cognitive
tween Evo and their less-progressive rivals, leading to transference extensively over the last year. Most of the
jobs galore across the globe. research and data has been coming out of Gagarin, but
contracts on spacers are hard to collect.
> Those up-and-comers are now two short of their original
crew of five. Someones coming down on them hard. > This makes a lot of sense with what we now see from
> Icarus the Monads. Strange to call them thattheyre really just
head cases.
> Not what I heard. One of those guys ODd on novacoke > Slamm-0!
after the big score, and the second went down in a
running gun battle with Lone Star in Austin. > Theyre hard to collect, but theyre getting more and more
> Stone common. Ive seen at least a dozen come across info sites
I visit. The work is all pure wet. Most of the CFD jobs Ive
While Kirilenko wasnt confirmed as a head case, I can seen are split, dead or alive, with extra cash for the living.
confirm that his megacorporation is full of them. Evo has > Balladeer
seen an ever-increasing population of head cases since
the discovery of the virus back in 75. The difference here MILES LANIER, FORMER COMPANY
is that the EvoCulture philosophy has accepted the head MAN; HEAD CASE STATUS: CONFIRMED
cases, the CFD virus, and the entire process as just anoth- Dont get excited, hes not dead. While I was exiled for
er step or aspect of the more than metahuman condi- my infection, the keys to the kingdom seemed to have
tion. The virus and condition arent discussed openly as been handed over to Mr. Lanier. His former position,

14 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

CFD status, and current activities are all factors for the
various contracts currently active on the former corpo-
> Thats why suspicion is still on her. When the quarantine
went into effect, Martins shares needed a voice. No one
rate shark. I havent personally gone after the man, but
on the board was willing to give more power to Richard
I always have my ears open to new information on any
or Samantha, so the vote went to his niece. Cara gained
big names. Laniers activities have fallen into three dis-
voting rights over the two percent Martin had bought
tinct areas; searching for the source of CFD, searching
from Miles. The event shook out some other info, and it
for the cure for CFD, and playing the corporate game
to maintain or increase the value of his stock portfolio was revealed that she already had one percent she got
in order to fund the previously mentioned endeavors. from Uncle Miles to give her three percent. It wasnt earth
His search for the source is his Achilles heel. He has shattering at the time, since that family has long been full
become more and more desperate to gain control of de- of disagreements, but now it leaves only two people who
finitive and substantial evidence. That means hes taking have to get along. Rumor always had Cara as daddys little
greater and greater risks to get anything the megacorps girland daddy was a dick.
havent already corrupted. That isnt to say that hell walk > Icarus
right into a trap poorly laid by a no-talent collateral crush-
er like that accident in Atlanta, but he can be led through Discussions on CFD infectees could go on forever if
a careful and Machiavellian plot laid out by a true artiste I keep delivering individual files. I have a vast collection
of death. Most of the hitters who have used the search of data on known and suspected head cases we can
for the cure as his weakness have paid the ultimate price. share in the future, but for now Ill move onto my next
Lanier knows about as much about this virus as any- major area of interest in relation to CFD: Boston.
one else on the planet, and he knows there isnt going
to suddenly be some simple cure that appears one day. LOOKING AT
With the cover from the megacorps that this virus has
had from the start, the cure is far more likely to be host
A LOCKDOWN
eradication than viral elimination. The uptick in contracts Thanks to the corporate powers that be, the world has
with a dead-or-alive clause for known head cases should been kept mostly in the dark about the quarantine of
be the prime indicator that their experimentation isnt Boston for over a year now. First off, let me just state
going well. how overwhelmingly uncomfortable that makes me
The last place youll see Laniers touch is playing feel. We in the shadows know exactly what caused this
the age-old game of market manipulation. He still has thanks to the efforts of D.C. and A.J., but the words of
a healthy stock portfolio with the full range of megacor- that pair of Boston martyrs havent gotten much further
porate ratings. He tends to run his corporate parlor tricks than JackPoint, and the fact that the file still exists on JP
on the AA and smaller corps but hell occasionally pull a at all is thanks to the hosts members and the fear ev-
move or two against the Big Ten in order to send some eryone in the world, including GOD, has of hacking into
ripples out into the pond. His latest big play was splitting an archive. The rest of the free world still thinks this
stock between the Villiers family: Samantha, Martin, and was the result of a terrorist attack and a viral encepha-
Cara. Events since have consolidated control of all that litis epidemic that is still highly contagious. In short, af-
stock into the youthful hands of Cara. The loss of Martin ter almost a year of coordinated efforts to redesign the
behind the Boston quarantine and the sudden death of Matrix, the megacorporations continued their cooper-
Samantha left Cara in control of a total of eleven percent ation for another year to keep the world from knowing
of NeoNET. Only half of what her father controls, but that Boston is a town filled with head cases that just
putting a solid third of the company in the hands of the might remain in quarantine until the next Ice Age.
Villiers family. If daddy and daughter can play nice, they While Boston is likely to stay in lockdown for all eter-
could take NeoNET in any direction they want. nity, the cooperation between the megacorporations is
already straining. When it cracks, its going to be titanic.
By the amount of work and money in the shadows thats
> Samantha Villiers death was a contracted hit. The source
revolving around CFD-related info, especially about the
of the contract is a topic of much interest. A lot of people
source, you can guarantee it will be a game of Pin-the-
had a reason to want Samantha dead, but only one
Blame-on-the-Mega once they have the right proof
person really benefitted from it. Problem is, prior to the
against the right corp. Dont bet on whether the blame
will being read, Cara wasnt on the best of terms with her will be accurate. When the finger gets pointed, it will be
mother and couldnt have been expecting much more the corp that draws the short straw who gets targeted,
than a house or a few cars to be left to her. and it wont be pretty. None of the megacorporations
> Balladeer are run by individuals who go down without a fight.
While watching things about CFD and keeping an eye
> How did she get Martins part of Laniers sell-off? on Boston, my scope has fallen on numerous plots by
> Bull both individuals and groups to bring down or break the

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 15


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

quarantine around Boston, even without a cure. Wheth- give it to you or how you will be able to hold onto it. That
er the efforts are fueled by love, greed, power, or blind does not prevent people from attempting to exploit the
idiocy, theyve all pushed money into the shadows. plight of several million people in order to better their po-
Relatives looking to get their loved ones out are the sition of power. Megacorporate executives, government
most numerous and least dangerous. They dont usually officials and flunkies, as well as celebrities and fame-seek-
make offers large enough to incline anyone of skill to ers, have been abusing the lockdown from the minute it
take the job, and the low-paid hacks who prey on these arose. Pulling at the heartstrings, making accusations of
bleeding hearts either steal the money and bail, die try- fraud or undue violence, and claiming that the cure is on
ing to get in, or disappear behind the lockdown. Rich rel- the inside but the powers-that-be are too timid to reach
atives have occasionally laid out enough nuyen to hire in and get it, have all been the opening lines for Johnsons
better teams but even I, with all my years of experience looking to increase their bosss control of the world. They
in the shadows, have not found a reliable route through write the notes, and we play the song.
that quarantine. Getting in is hard enough, but getting Blind idiocy is the last and most dangerous of the
out is a death sentence. threats against the security of the quarantine. Individu-
Next come the corps and the greed motivator. Not als and groups that somehow think that the mores and
many people would think of a quarantine as a place to doctrines of their group are more valuable than the safe-
make money, but where theres a resource, theres a ty of billions make every day watching the wall a test
way. Sadly, most of the money being made off of Bos- of patience. The outside of the wall has been tested by
tons situation is very dirty. Even though pulling the the New Revolution, Warpath, TerraFirst!, Alamos 20K,
trigger is rarely a problem for most of us, the rest of the Green Brigade, Youth on Fire, Angels of Ascen-
the world tends to be far more squeamish. Often even sion, the Children of the Dragon, the Ancients, and the
contracting a true hit is too much for the conscience of NEMAtoads, just to mention a few. They come at the
the average person. In order to keep their hands free of wall in force and die, or get driven off, in droves. They
the bloody stains of guilt, the bulk of the world sends post their insane reasoning on the Matrix and think that
people to places where other people will take care of if they somehow believe in their cause and the wrong-
extinguishing their life. The NEMAQZ has become a ness of the quarantine, they will break through and free
common dumping ground for people that fall into those the people of Boston. They are killed and captured, but
categories. Corporate drones who have seen too much each group seems to fuel the fires of the next with their
or asked the wrong questions are being snagged from desperate struggles. If one ever does break through, the
their corporate housing, stuffed into the supply drop result is going to be very ugly. Since these groups are of-
crates and dropped into Boston. I imagine many dont ten loud, even before they go after the wall, contracts go
survive the trip, but those who do enter into the rather out on high-ranking members, organizers, or even the
unique form of hell that awaits them inside. occasional plebeian to make a point. Ive tracked several
Greed also has runners taking jobs to look for a way of the contracts back and found interesting fingerprints
in and out by probing the defenses, digging up black- of both megacorporate intelligence divisions and UCAS
mail on the guards, and trying to find areas of weak- governmental divisions that are usually identified by
ness between the megacorporate forces sharing certain only letters.
roles that can be exploited. Efforts against the defenses Im certain that when it comes time for the key to be
prove to be fruitless, deadly, or easily overcome, leav- turned on the lockdown, the shadows are going to ex-
ing the team on the wrong side of the quarantine and plode with work. Before the quarantine is lifted the work
suddenly facing a much stronger opposing force. All will focus on trying to set up good position for the fall-
of the blackmail efforts have created a rather unique out, and in the immediate aftermath there will be work
atmosphere with the guards and officers stationed on to attempt to solve a million missing persons cases, and
the walls. As their corporate masters have no desire for then over the course of the next few years things will
them to flip and decide to let some poor sod out be- shift to trying to keep the lie intact long enough for the
cause they happen to have a picture of the guard with world to stop caring about digging for the truth.
their wick in a sheeps hoop, the corps openly promote Even though my scope has been focused on Earth,
honesty among the men in their interesting activities. the information that I have reviewed is not always so ter-
This has led to a large force of guards and officers who restrial. While most think Boston will be the spot where
have volunteered to work the quarantine because it al- the world finally gets introduced to CFD, I would sug-
lows them to perform whatever debauched acts they gest we look to the stars. Or more precisely the next
desire without fear of losing their jobs or even personal planet over. Though everyone here suspected it, Ive
repercussions. What can the sheep fragger say about the uncovered verified data that the Gagarin base on Mars
guy who likes to dress up as a baby with a pacifier in his is entirely populated by head cases, who are referring
hoop? Not much. to themselves as Monads. Theyve been communicating
Power is the worst motivator in the known universe quietly with Evo for a while, but lately the relationship
because it is so intangible you cant ever be sure what will has become more terse.

16 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

EVO ANNOUNCES DEEP-SPACE MISSION, DECEMBER 31, 2078


The EVOlution continues as Evos Roskosmos subsidiary more on Kirilenko, who has strong ties to Roskosmos, as a
announces plans to launch the worlds first manned deep-space possible head case. If there was any human element to the
mission. The launch date is set for December 31, 2077 at 2300 project, word would have leaked. Research into deep space
Vladivostok local time and is set to be the pinnacle event of the exploration and travel has not had a significant budget with
any of the corporations since the turn of the century because
New Years celebration there. As this is a momentous occasion
of the lack of profit involved. All of this to me looks more like
for the entire Earth, this reporter is sure citizens all around the
a way to get away from humanity as opposed to a way for
planet, from every nation and megacorporation, will be tuned in.
humanity to send them away.
The vessel, currently only referred to as Deep Space
> Netcat
Exploration and Colonization I (DSECI), will be officially named
at the moment of launch, and it will be crewed by 3,000 brave > This project only came into existence in the past three years,
explorers. The full complement of the crew has not been released and the only reason it was being announced in July, instead of
yet and may not be fully revealed until after launch in order to never, was because someone was about to leak information
protect the security of those taking on this one-way endeavor. on it. This was Evo getting ahead of the leak, except it looks
While the entire project is fully funded by Evo, rumors have begun like the rumored leak was really the Monad announcement.
to fly from other megacorporations looking to buy spots on the > Plan 9
vessel for their own staff.
Alongside the revelation of this world-changing endeavor, > This could have been, quite possibly, a clever call to other
head cases who wanted in on the project and off Earth. This
Evo also released a statement through the Corporate Court that a
announcement gives folks heading for Mars plenty of time to
possible security leak about this highly confidential program was
get there by the launch, but it keeps the window narrow for
the reason for the Gagarin station blackout back in 2072. Since security forces trying to prevent attempts to get to Gagarin
then, all communications and information about the project have to sabotage the vessel. There will be work up that way in the
been kept under the tightest security. A project like this does not near future.
spring up overnight, and the severity of the informational security > Orbital DK
protocols they put in place shows the value of this project to Evo.
> Unless youre Ares and just go after them from Charon.
> I remember seeing this back when and thinking it was Evos > Sticks
solution to CFD? Load all the head cases onto a ship and
launch them out into the ether? > How has Ares not noticed this DSECI being built?This cant be
> Kane a small ship. The resources being brought alone should have
made them suspicious.
> From what we know, Gagarin is entirely full of head cases, > Netcat
or Monads as they want to be called. Anyone who has
gone to Gagarin would now be a Monad. This operation > What resources? Everything Evo needs is right there on Mars.
is being entirely run by the Monads. Riser just posted > Orbital DK

Its distant trouble, but jobs are still being contracted on


> At least we can corroborate this, since they already came
individuals on- and off-world related to this situation.
out. He must have gathered this before. Good to see we
While there are no runners or even runner teams (not
werent all taken by surprise.
even Assets, Inc.) with the kind of pull or gear to get
> Mafan
off-world on the sly, these jobs are fully fronted by the
corps, giving shadowrunners a chance to be spacerun-
While Evo, the very open-minded megacorporation,
ners (and megacorporate lackeys).
is communicating with Gagarin and the Monads, Ares
is orbiting the red planet in the Charon station glaring
down their celestial scope with a multi-megaton sniper > The other orbital stations are all still out there too, and a lot
rifle aimed at the Martian base. Its a megacorporate war of them had some trouble with the whole CFD thing since
just waiting to start. Or an Omega order just waiting to they used so much nanotech in their construction and even
be executed. Or a ploy meant to hide another host of in the current operations. With so many eyes looking at
head cases. Or a Machiavellian megacorporate mach- Gagarin, we could be seeing a space shell game.
ination that even my genius intellect cannot decipher. > Orbital DK

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 17


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

I am not a man to forget that this is a place for in-


dividuals who work not only up in the shadowy peaks
> I dont think the Monad thing is a big coming out. Theyre
portraying themselves as some kind of evolution, and
but down in the shadowy valleys as well. Looking at
theyre not really claiming CFD with a lot of supporting
the power vacuums at the tops of megacorporations is
evidence. Theyre just pushing the word out to get their
not the same as looking at what CFD is actually doing
own kind to step out and say hello.
to people on the streets. I know what I am. Im watch-
ing for the torches and pitchforks, and at the same time > Glitch
trying to see how we, this new species of Homo sapiens
technicus, is fitting in, adapting, and trying to find a way Since were talking about the spread, Ill cover it
to introduce ourselves without the chaos that has come briefly. Its done being random. Im sure there might be
with so many other revelations in the past. a few pure samples out there of the original nanites that
There are three basic pathways head cases can take we used to flee captivity, but by and large the majority of
to get into the public eye. They can come out loud, the infected nanites are already in place. Further spread
screaming who they are and hoping the masses dont is either deliberate, like a head case in need of copies for
string them all up in the first night or two. After that they protection or cover, or accidental, like by a megacorp
can worry as the megas come down hard on whats left playing with things they shouldnt, e.g., Boston (though
of them and mark them as terrorists or crazies. Alter- thats an extreme example of CFD). Whatever got spread
nately, they can come out soft and slowly try to reveal all over Boston was a nasty version from everything
themselves to select trusted individuals and hope that weve seen. Other than that debacle, I dont think the
those people are really as trustworthy as they seem. head cases that are out there are going to be looking
Problem is, people get scared and want to talk to oth- for trouble. Dont get me wrong. A few rogues may try
er people who then remind them of all the other scary and infect Damian Knight or one of the Telestrian clan,
things that have insidiously tried to integrate themselves but the world is not going to get overwritten by this. We
into our society, and it blows up in the face of the head freaked out early on, as you would expect from most
case. After that, the megas will come down hard and scared children who didnt really realize what they were
be able to use lots of clandestine operations and dirty doing, but its far more controlled now.
black bag jobs in order to hush them all up and drag
them down into labs for study. Third option is to come > I dont know if that makes me feel better.
out with a megacorporate backer and story. Horizon or > Slamm-0!
Evo are the best bet, with Evo the most likely. Problem
is, within every population there are those who arent When I started planning how Id lay out this little up-
willing to lie. These folks are going to enter the shadows date, I debated whether I would open or close with the
and whether Im on JackPoint or not, Im a shadowrun- following piece. As you can see, I made my decision to
ner, and I dont want a bunch of paranoid head cases put it at the end in the most poetic fashion because that
vying for spots in my local shadow community. Not that is where cures belong; at the end. Dont get all excited,
Im not understanding. Im one of them. But these will the answer is not a magic pill, simple surgery, or even a
be the weak, the fearful, and the ones that will do really long, drawn-out treatment. The answers (note the plural)
stupid drek like infect a bunch of others for protection in are varied, but none have been consistently replicable
order to survive. even when run under the best conditions. Every solu-
tion has been a multi-step process, and most have been
> Already a few of those around. Ive come across more mish-mosh, shotgun projects, based on equal measures
than my share of paranoid head cases who have built or of hope and science. Even with that being the case, suc-
taken over various street-level operations by completely
cess is success, and with the way CFD was looking, any
success was something to mark. Along with these ran-
infecting their crew. If youre lucky, youll get a heads up
dom successes, several of the megacorporations have
from an insider who jumped ship just in time. Usually you
worked out solutions for CFD while trying to decipher
get the family member or former squeeze thats suddenly
ways to correct the issues the virus introduced into
on the outs.
nanotech. And the virus useor more appropriately,
> Butch abuseof genetech, has lead to several advancements.
Advancements that are drawing the attention of individ-
> So now that we see they are coming out strong, whats uals who are still skeptical of nanotech and genetech.
the megas play? And by skeptical, I mean sociopathic in their opposition
> 2XL to their continued use.

> Now we see why he has info on this topic.


> Netcat

18 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

CFD has done a number on the shadows and the


> And youre complaining why?
shining lights of the Sixth World. Even through the nar-
> Balladeer
row scope with which I see most of the world I can see
the global effect it has had. Though the new Matrix was
> Thats what I thought.
what first brought the Big Ten together for a touch of
> Balladeer cooperation, it was CFD and events in Boston that made
them close their iron fists in a handshake and press their
The most, and least, successful method Ive seen to collective weight back down on a world that had man-
date has been mind-hacking, due to the complexity of aged to start to wriggle free of their control.
the process and how dangerous it is to the head case, the First it was CFD in the shadows and the De la Mar-
hunters, and the hackers involved. Theres nothing I can say trix in the public eye, but now theres the Revision and
to the complexity of hacking a human node and rewriting De la Mars new SINitiative to label the world. The
it that isnt covered by simply imagining it, but one of the megacorps arent just sitting idly by and letting things
ways theyve made the whole process easier is through happen. Theyre taking the little bumps, and theyre us-
professional hits to soften the head case target. Even the ing them to gain momentum in other areas. The shadows
most proficient of us has a hard time taking out one of us are getting narrower. Anyone who doesnt see that is ei-
clean. See what I did there? The softened head case is then ther living in perpetual delusion or a corporate stooge.
picked up by a lower-level team, and the mind-hack be-
gins. The deeper discussion on that process is something
for a different download. The process has had some full
> This is how he tries to get back in? Insults and broad
speculation? Which of the triumvirate deserve the slap for
recoveries and is therefore the most successful in my opin-
letting this in again?
ion, but the failures have been piling up bodies.
> Clockwork

> Rumors say a guy named Fletcher Bissell is particularly


> Lets get into a slap fight here. Please!
good at this process, but very hard to find. Info on him
where he came from, how he learned his processis
> Bull

unknown.
> Bull WHATS UP WITH ARES
I would love to bring some major revelation on the
What I call the nanowars is a process that involves continuing mystery that is (well, was) Nicholas Chute-
filling the head case with special nanites programmed less Aurelius, but Ive got nothing. Ares is never far
to target the CFD nanites. The process usually leaves be- from my sights, and one would
hind a head case with a broken personality and no abil- think something should have come
ities. That broken personality is where we usually come about by now. Outside of specu-
in, as they hire out for a lot of revenge as well as trying to lation that it was bug retaliation,
make up for their lack of abilities. The plus side is that the nothing has. But I wouldnt waste
process leaves them non-infectious for a while. an entire section of this piece just
Third trick is the big chill. Drop a head case in a cooler to tell you what I dont know about
or ice bath and the nanites have to work and burn ad- Ares. Instead, I have been busy
ditional energy to keep the body viable. Were usually looking at other Ares execs and ac-
involved with the delivery process and not much more, tivities. A lot of their attention has
but Ive heard of head case hunters who use this as a been turned inward. The primary
perfect time to make their move. stockholders have been playing big
Last, and certainly the least common, is what I call internal games with the beleaguered mega that could
the polite method. As strange as it sounds, there are very well lead to a schism large enough to crack the
head cases out there that arent happy with their situ- foundation of Americas Corp. Frankly, thats not ter-
ation. These rare cases have demonstrated the ability ribly different than any other time in the history of the
to purge the CFD-infected nanites out of their system. megacorporation. Whats different now is the unpre-
The original personality doesnt return, but the head dictable habits of the current players and the genuine
case ends up with no signs of CFD unless an ultra-hi- problems Ares has faced in the recent years occurring
res scan of their brain is used and shows the scarring. simultaneously with the Revision and the lower-rated
This has led others to a darker solution. Under the right corps getting together and getting uppity. That is to
pressure, a head case can be forced to purge the nanites say, there might be more parties who are extremely
and just keep the body. Its not really a cure, but it cre- motivated to ensure that possible schisms erupt.
ates a less-dangerous situation, and there are still a small Damian Knight continues to speak for Ares with his
number of people in the world who would rather see a silver tongue while pushing them along with an iron fist.
situation through to a non-violent end. Hes not happy at all about Gavilans new proxy, and hes

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 19


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

showing it, even if not overtly. Knight isnt a fool, and he intends to maintain that reputation. But even without
hes making sure to keep all of his dirt digging and sup- his thick dwarven fingers directly in the mix, his influ-
port-elimination quiet and precise. Judging by the con- ences and agendas are being pushed forward with some
tracts Ive seen and the jobs Im aware of, his efforts are very bloody tactics.
focused on making sure his power is felt without being Across the globe, Vogel is using his green initiatives
seen or directly connected to him. to insidiously insert Ares into key markets with green
Unlike those efforts, he has been much more above- ties. Vogels moves are working to strengthen ties in
board and direct when it comes to the contracts he is and between the UCAS, CAS, AMC, Quebec, and the
putting out against UnlimiTech executives. This inter- Carib League. The work isnt designed to reunite bro-
nal struggle is going to prove very costly and definite- ken nations, but instead to create a positive trade at-
ly shows signs of being more of a cancer surgery than mosphere for Ares to utilize for growth and redevel-
a minor internal disagreement. One can only presume opment of a home that is not just a single nation,
that all the rumors of bug infiltration in UnlimiTech are friendly to their presence, but half of a continent, with
true and are the reason for Knights assaults on their ex- several nations to feed them resources and cash. Vo-
ecutives. Knight is not the only person going after UT. gels bloody efforts in this endeavor include removing
I havent spent much time digging into the other con- the obstacles Ares faces in these nations. Be they pol-
tracts to find out who is paying the bills, but they arent iticians, corporate executives, local leaders, or even
all Knight or even Ares. crime bosses, they and their families are valid targets in
order to soften this region for Ares.
> The world of spirits writhes within itself. Vogels contracts have been directed at several of
> Man-of-Many-Names the obvious big targets. Such as members of the Council
in the AMC, targeted in order to promote Ares green
initiative as a followup to MCTs polluting ways. Mem-
> The different Insect spirits dont all work together. A
bers of Quebecs corporate structure that hate Ares
different hive, clutch, brood, etc. could very well be going
only because of Knight are also in his sights, and Vo-
after the ones in control of or inside UT.
gel is working that angle to get alongside them while
> Frosty
removing obstacles that wont allow them to get over
the past and see a better future. Hes also dealing with
> Ive gotten offers from several Johnsons, all with UT ties, forces within the UCAS government that have been dis-
for jobs against different parts of the company. Internal tancing themselves from Ares while also working to un-
strife. They all came at me in clusters, a few at a time, like dermine NeoNETs efforts to relocate from Boston but
something was happening. This has happened several stay within the UCAS, which might bring them in conflict
times over the past months. I usually pass the gigs along with Ares in some strongholds and short-circuit some
to others, but Ive taken part in a few where I knew the green efforts. Similar political efforts are occurring in the
bugs were involved. CAS, but corporate efforts here are focused on break-
> Sticks ing down the political connections with the Atlantean
Foundation while influencing corporate connections
Ill add this last bit about Knight with the blatant dis- between the arcanacorp and Ares. In the Carib League,
claimer that this is a rumor. I have some circumstantial ev- its a shotgun blast of operations to clear opposition to
idence that could be used as support, but it could also just a greener world, find groups, especially eco-terrorists,
be coincidence. Due to the issues the company is having keen on being supplied with Ares Arms, cut out political
and the trouble Knight has been facing internally, he has support for other corps, and insinuate blame for most of
been making moves that look an awful lot like preparation the violence on rival corps to decrease local support as
to sell his piece of the pie and possibly go into retirement. well. Vogel is a savvy tactician who is not afraid to make
Hes had very private meetings with both Richard Villiers the hard decisions.
and Johnny Spinrad, two potential buyers. These could
also just have been a bunch of billionaires talking billionaire > Hearing about Vogel in this light, Im wondering if the
stuff, like which nation has the best money to wipe your UCAS wouldnt have benefited from his presidency.
ass with. Alongside these conversations Knight has been Maybe Vogel 2080 could be his next move?
purchasing property all over the world and spending mil- > Sticks
lions to get top-of-the-line security across all aspects.
While Knight is trying to wear the shining armor, > Vogel may seem vicious, but he has nothing on Colloton.
Arthur Vogel is looking for a green future for Ares, but > Stone
not necessarily the green of money. Though as noble as
going green may sound, Vogel is using red blood to fer- While Knight and Vogel are working toward the end
tilize the fields. Nothing ties directly back to Vogelhes of saving and expanding their corporate home, they are
definitely the cleanest of the Ares top executives, and under attack from parties unknown. No one has put out

20 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

a contract on either of those two directly, but at least tabs to make sure the job doesnt have unexpected rip-
thirty other Ares executives, VP and above, are marked. ples, like the mark having a double, and to watch for any
Ive made a little money off a few of these, partly to keep potential follow-up work. In the case of Aztechnology,
the skills sharp, partly to find out whos paying. It took the volume of work for and against the megacorp has
half a dozen jobs to track down a single source and at been high since Sirrurg flattened Borinquen. Ive had
least two of those didnt connect. The money trail leads much to track but find the bloodiest highlights in three
back to a small corporate front, actually in the PCC, called areas; NatVat recovery, arcane efforts in the southern
Synergy, Inc. They run spas around Phoenix, Albuquer- hemisphere, and something called Project Vulcan that
que, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas that welcome visitors has connections to Boston.
from around the world for extended stays. Theyre build- Many expected Aztechnology to just write off Nat-
ing quite a reputation for themselves as the place to go Vat and focus efforts and nuyen in other places. The
for everything from corporate weekends to rehab. Thats Azzies didnt do as expected, and instead have been fer-
what the corporate rumors say at least. They dont have tilizing their new food-production fields with the blood
a Matrix presence, which is odd. I havent dug much be- of their rivals. Theyre using a fertilizing process that has
yond that, but there must be more in order for them to been so successful over the past two years that internal
be funding hits on Ares executives. reports indicate their foodstuff production rate is high-
er now than it was before the loss of Borinquen. Those
> Synergy takes in execs from all over the globe, and internal reports dont match at all the external reports
they dont allow personal security beyond their outer of food shortages and product rationing to their Stuffer
compounds. The actual facility is for clients only. Shack branches, and even the closing of several hundred
Stuffer Shack stores.
> Mihoshi Oni
To keep this news quiet and the books in the black,
Aztechnology has been contracting on rivals left, right,
> Security inside must be solid as well. I heard about a
and center. Precision strikes by unaffiliated contractors
top-rate team that was headed into a Synergy facility
that slow, stop, redirect, or undermine the operations of
outside of Vegas for an exec extraction since it seemed
their smaller rivals so that the megacorp can come in to
the weakest link.They went in but never came out, and the
buy out the company cheap. If a rival double- or triple-A
exec stuck it out with her original employer. starts sniffing around the wounded companies, looking
> DangerSensei to scoop them up before the Azzies, contracts go out to
make sure individuals understand the ramifications of such
The other contracts didnt reveal any direct connec- a decision. We know the Azzies are bloodthirsty bastards,
tions, and there are still plenty of contracts outstanding and so do most of the folks above a certain pay grade in
that might be from other sources. Ares has a lot of ene- the other megas, so while the masses see Aztechnology
mies, and now that those enemies have seen them tak- as their savior from starvation, people in power know what
en down a few rungs on the megacorporate ladder, its happens when the Azzies are after you.
open season. These are also only the professional con- I enjoy trying to solve mysteries. One of the advan-
tracts going out to hitmen. These arent shadowrunner tages of my evolved state is that sleep isnt completely
gigs being brokered in the backrooms of seedy bars and necessary. I can let my body rest and still have conscious
clubs. Theyre trouble on a lot of levels. thoughts, and when I do let my brain rest, I can still use
a small portion of it, like a little secondary processor,
AZTECHNOLOGY: FERTILE to think. When my watch on Aztechnology turned up a
FIELDS OF BLOOD strange series of events and data that all had a unique
connection, I made that my latest project. Above I sim-
At the height of the dragon civ- ply referred to it as arcane efforts in the southern hemi-
il war drama, I kept my fingers sphere because thats the umbrella that fit best. The works
crossed and was always ready all connect to a research station down on Antarctica, but
to make a move if I could get a the data being moved around revolves around the Sangre
chance to eliminate a few key Az- del Diablo trees, repairing fovae, the use of tempo, and
technology executives and open extensive artifact hunting. How they all link together is a
up a few weaknesses for the question you can head down to Antarctica and ask one of
wyrms to exploit. Dont get me their researchers, but around the rest of the world you can
wrong, I was happy to take con- look for Aztechnology fingerprints on jobs involving any
tracts from the Azzies too, but if I got to throw the lead of those topics and then watch out for the double-cross
in their direction for money, I was quick to accept. Like because thats the other connection I found.
any job working against a megacorporation, once I line Any contract specialist will tell you killing is a risky
them up in my sights and take the shot, I dont just stop solution to a problem. Its clean in terms of that indi-
looking once the job is done. A true professional keeps vidual and anything they may have known, but it leaves

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 21


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

behind possible enemies with primarily emotional moti- warning about who theyre dealing with. It still amazes
vations for their responses. Emotional responses arent me how many runners dont dig into who theyre work-
rational and rarely help out the bottom line. When a very ing for before running off to do a job.
methodical organization, like a megacorporation, con-
sistently resorts to this solution, it means the person in > Whats the paydata say?
charge of the operation is a bloodthirsty psycho, or the > Slamm-0!
paydata is so valuable or damaging it has to be covered
up completely, and anyone who may have had eyes on > The old Riser was a backstabbing asshole, the new Riser is
it eliminated. Aztechnology has been putting out con- a clever, backstabbing asshole. Those paydata purchases
tracts on entire runner teams right alongside the runners have turned out badly for a lot of teams. The offer is a
getting hired for a job. Professional contractors are pos- honey pot with a nasty virus.
ing as bodyguards for Mr. Johnson to start getting info > Clockwork
on the team and often leaving bugs on them or their
vehicles while the meet is going on. Its ugly, but its Az-
technologyand they must think this stuff is important.
> So youre saying Riser is offing them when he gets the
paydata?
Ive been collecting this dangerous data when I can.
Im not up on arcane theory, so most of the information
> Glitch

thats been gathered is over my head, but Id be happy


to share it with JackPoint in another document down the > As strange as this sounds, its not Riser. Hes playing the
paydata deals square, but someone else is piggybacking
road. What I have gotten from the things Ive read is a
process that can repair foveae (magical voids) with the off him to hit the teams after they meet him but before
use of several specific artifacts using data and observa- they deliver to Aztechnology.
tions made somewhere in Antarctica that involves feed- > Balladeer
ing tempo users to Sangre del Diablo trees. Sounds like
classic Aztechnology blood magic, but the data gath- > Someone else, or just a different version of Riser?
ered by the Azzies have several conflicting references. > Butch

> Using blood magic to repair a fovae is quite THE DARKEST SHADOWS
counterproductive.
While CFD and the megas pull a lot of our attention, its
> Arete the darker spaces in the shadows that often come up
and bite runners in the hoop because they arent pre-
> Modern blood magic. We do a lot to shape the positive pared for monsters worse than them. Ive taken a look
and negative effects that mana manipulation has on the at a few of those, and here are my observations. Ill ad-
manasphere. Many cultures, including the real Aztecs, mit I didnt peer into this darkness for too long, because
had very positive views of sacrificial rituals. Its only the I knew what it would do to me. Ill drop a short header
modern view that brings the taint onto blood magic. on each in case you want something specific.
> Winterhawk
> He is the darkest shadows. Why are you all still
> So what would happen with this ritual and the modern reading this?
view on blood magic? > /dev/grrl
> Netcat
> Why are you?
> Likely the opposite effect. The ritual would grow the fovae > Man-of-Many-Names
instead of making it smaller. I avoided the term fix or
repair, because the fovae arent damaged. > I understood that!
> Frosty > Slamm-0!

Project Vulcan has something to do with Bostons > Did you?


quarantine and looks to be Aztechnologys contribu- > Man-of-Many-Names
tion to the disaster that they are trying to clean up. Im
sure most of the paydata for the project is behind the ORDO MAXIMUS:
lockdown, but plenty of contract jobs have been going
out for people outside the QZ with connections to this
STAKES AT THE READY
project. I have offers out to purchase paydata on this Sometimes we must step into the darkness, unsure
through almost every fixer I know. Its good back-end what lies behind the veil of blackness, in order to see
bonus money, and if they deliver to me first they get a what is going on in our world. Other times we stand too

22 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

long at the threshold, peering into the darkness, and


the darkness then comes out at us. The works of our
often-mentioned Ordo Maximus, the gentlemens club
that shrouds the darker secrets of the true order, have
struggled to stay within the darkness thanks to the ac-
tions of Martin de Vries. Martin is not an assassin in
the traditional sense but he is certainly decreasing the
population numbers of a particular sect of metahuman-
ity. Those infected with HMHVV. This nocturnal war has
contracts going out on both sides and doesnt look to
be ending anytime soon.
While de Vries usually works alone he has been hir-
ing runners for two roles, backup and misdirection. The
former doctor is only a single vampire and though pow-
erful, he still needs help when working against greater
numbers. Those numbers are a tactical advantage his
enemies often have thanks to their lack of moral com-
punction in creating stake-fodder. He usually hires run-
ners with experience hunting Infected or paracritters for
cash. To be clear, thats cash as opposed to hunting for
revenge, religion, or having a psychological disorder.
Several of the runners he has worked with have offered
to join his efforts permanently, and though de Vries de-
clines their offers, he usually gives those who make that
offer a chance to help him out through misdirection.
Those individuals are paid to keep hunting vampires for
a short time as de Vries switches cities.
On the other side, the Ordo Maximus is after de Vries
in order to stop him from killing their members. The
vampires of the OM couldnt care less about the street-
vamps and their infantile trid-fantasy lifestyles. Theyd let
de Vries hunt down those blood wasters to his unbeat-
ing hearts content, but Martin only wades through them
to get to the real power. The OM was using the Infected
youth to try to stop de Vries, but as that plan has not
been working theyve been exploring other routes. From
the moment de Vries was outed as one of the Infected,
the OM has been running a smear campaign about the
tawdry life he begged to get into after his wifes death.
They created and twisted stories to paint the vampire
hunter as a bloodthirsty sociopath killing and smiling
his way from town to town while signing books. They
painted his books as propaganda and as a psychological
release to make Martin not see himself as the monster
he truly is. While most people have had the expected
reaction and fear de Vries as much as they would any
other creature of the night, even more in most cases,
some have flocked to the man as a victim of his virus.
The Order of de Vries, as they call themselves, see him
as a tragic figure, much like that of the original Dracu-
la. For those special crazies the OM skipped the smear
campaign and went straight to direct action. As most
individuals of low or absent morals will do, they chose
to go after the innocent in order to lure out a guilt-rid-
den target. The Ordo have been targeting the Order to
get Martin to come out and play. The ploy has worked
but none of the traps have sprung fast enough to get de

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 23


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

Vries and on at least two occasions has left a member of grate themselves into the mind of a subject through
the Order Infected. I havent gathered anything yet on nanoreneurofication are at least somewhat familiar with
who these new vampires are blaming for their current metahumanity or the world we live in, the shedim are a
state, but the latest de Vries novel, Overexposure, defi- completely alien intellect and dont integrate the minds
nitely drew some inspiration from all of this. they take. This lack of human experience and the fact
that they dont think of things the same way people do
> The outing, combined with Overexposure, has pushed makes them dangerous. Even more dangerous is the
up the number of vampire hunters in the world right question everyone has asked when they learn about
alongside the vampires. Difference being most of the new them: What do they want?
hunters are really just murderous thugs out to steal from The current answer to that question is a frightening
the slain undead or wannabe Van Helsings who have no one and the reason why so many contracts go out that
business hunting the Infected. involve hunting shedim, specifically master shedim.
With their numbers dwindling, the efforts of the shedim
> Hannibelle
are focused on one thing, opening a route to their home
metaplane so more of their kind can come through. This
> The hunters certainly thin faster than the hunted, especially
doesnt sound frightening when someone thinks about
since you cant rapidly regrow your hunter population.
how long the Watergate Rift was open, but the rift was
What you can do is grow a quick population of Infected like an ever-changing maze between our metaplanes
and then use those to take out a rather pesky hunter. This that led to nowhere far more often than it led here.
leads to shadow work as well when those bloodsuckers The master shedim arent looking for another maze to
feed from the wrong person and get a target painted on nowheretheyre looking for a doorway to prop wide
them. open and let everyone in to the party, including anything
> Stone else that wants to come over from their metaplane.
The jobs arent easy, and they always require some-
> Dont forget those who are thrown to the wolves after one with astral fighting skills because knocking the she-
they have served their purpose. dim out of the shell is only half the fight. Once theyre
> Hannibelle out, the fight is all on the astraland the shedim are
not stand-and-fight types. They run. On a plane where
SHEDIM: ON THE VERGE movement goes at the speed of thought, that leaves
only a small window to get them before they are in the
OF EXTINCTION astral winds, looking for a new body.
I will openly admit that when the shedim first arrived,
I was terrified and ready for the zombie apocalypse. > Ive seen and heard that the new body they seek is often
Something about the walking dead, specifically zom- that belonging to their astral opponents. Theyve become
bies, has always terrified me. My subconscious desire very adept at locating the physical shell of astrally
to become an amazing marksman was driven by the projecting mages. If a displaced shedim spends any time
need to hit a zombie in the head. Now that Ive learned sticking around for the fight, get back to your body quick,
a little bit more about the shedim, Im really no less vis- because thats where they will head once they get a lock.
cerally frightened. I just know that their existence is not > Arete
going to lead to a world of walking corpses. Or at least
thats what I tell myself. The current hot spots for the shedim are Yakut,
I know the pathway that the astral beings we call she- the PCC, the Sioux Nation, Northern CalFree, and the
dim used to get here was closed when the Watergate Rift Congo. Those four locations either have strong ambi-
shut. I also know about the existence of master shedim, ent mana levels or powerful local sites that the shedim
more powerful shedim that could summon and control are trying to use for a metaplanar gateway. This makes
the less powerful of their kind. The summoning part has them prime spots for work against them. Its good to
ceased, but the control part has become far more fo- remember that the master shedim are smart and dont
cused. While the master shedim cannot call for more of spend much time doing the grunt work in these places.
their kin, or call back ones that have been disrupted, they They tend to show up for rituals and other important
have adapted how they will survive in this world. events. They spend the rest of their time blending into
Now we all know how touchy metahumans can be society and gathering funding for their effortsefforts
about other beings taking over their bodies, and even that are often hidden as humanitarian-aid organiza-
though the shedim can inhabit corpses, empty living tions. The Congan Youth Association is a front led by a
shells are so much nicer. But that means a metahuman master shedim hiding among the organizations board
must be displaced. Im all for the joining of two intelli- members. The verge of extinction is a wide one, and
gences to make a better, more evolved being, but this if they can find a way to open a door home, they will
is rarely the case with shedim. While the AIs that inte- quickly change who is on that verge.

24 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

next home of NeoNET, while at the same time pushing


> The work that was being done in Boston by Dr. Dyna Mite
the city to claim its independence from all nations.
was a hot target for the shedim before the quarantine
These items may seem counterintuitive. Why reunify
went up, and theyve been poking at the wall whenever
the United States, only to allow one of its major metro
they could. The ability to keep a gateway open between
areas to secede? The moves here are setting up as many
metaplanes wasnt even the reason. The data they wanted
winning options as possible without significant cross-
was all the metaplanar mapping the doctor did. over that would end up being self-defeating. A reuni-
> Frosty fied U.S. with NeoNET at home in the heartland? Win.
An independent St. Louis with NeoNET as not only the
BLACK LODGE: first of the Big Ten to create a major presence but as the
DRAGON-SIZE BULLSEYE megacorp calling it their headquarters city? Win. A re-
unified U.S. surrounding an independent St. Louis that is
Even in my new state of being, there are still some heavily supported by NeoNET? Double win.
groups that just cause my pituitary to involuntarily How does all this benefit the Black Lodge is the next
create ACTH. The Black Lodge is one of those groups. question. Thanks to a bunch of magical principles I cant
When I found out they were a first-strike target of the fully explain, St. Louis has a strong mana flow thanks to
dragons if the civil war ever kicked off, I found my the Mississippi River and the Gateway Arch. Much like
second reason for actually rooting for a war and for a every other major site of arcane power, the Black Lodge
successful opening volley from the dragons. I never wants to control it, and for that they need a strong pres-
thought Id do well as a dragon vassal if they won it all, ence. This is something that can be arranged through
but at least Id be able to help thin the ranks of the Black Dunkirk once NeoNET has a need for more citizens in
Lodge before I went down. The war didnt happen, but the city. No matter what Villiers reason for wanting to
the contracts have been slowly flowing from the camps settle down in St. Louis is, Dunkirk and the Black Lodge
of the various dragons around the world since even be- are also supporting the move.
fore they were all in the public spotlight. The last thing to know is whos after Dunkirk. Wheth-
Since Ive been focused on the observational side of er youre looking over this info to know who you might
the business instead of the trigger-pulling side, Ive been be pissing off if you take a shadow contract to cover
able to work at confirming the identities of several mem- him, or if you want to know where to drop off the body
bers of the Black Lodge and looking into their current ac- for a solid payday, knowledge pays. The contact for this
tivities. The arrangement of the group makes it difficult particular contract is Hokai Kitiga, a St. Louis fixer with
but not impossible to track and connect members from connections to MCT, meaning Lung is the dragon be-
Lodge to Lodge, you just have to monitor every member hind the deed, but some good old-fashioned megacor-
until they connect with another Lodge. I have files on porate shenanigans is what the street sees.
twenty-six members. Ill run down three who have con-
tracts on them and what they seem to be engaged in. > A little free advice. The Black Lodge has a security detail
on Dunkirk at all times. You wont see any of them unless
> And the rest will be made available once hes back in the they feel theres a threat to him. They have supplied him
fold. This is crap. Why dont we let him back in, get the with a few protective charms to prevent the one-shot kill.
data, and then boot him again? Even a Barrett wont punch through in one shot.
> Clockwork
> Balladeer

> Why dont you just go find him and get the data for us? ELIJAH BLACK CROW HIGHWATER;
> Netcat PUEBSEC OFFICE OF ARCANE AFFAIRS;
LODGE OF THE DESERT WINDS
> What a classy way to say Drop dead. Highwater spends his days and nights investigating
> Slamm-0! magical crimes all over the PCC as part of the corpo-
rate nations Office of Arcane Affairs. His primary office
EVERETT DUNKIRK; LOGISTICS AND is listed in Santa Fe, but he spends most of his time at
ACQUISITIONS, NEONET, ST. LOUIS a small office station in Teec Nos Pas, near the former
OFFICES; LODGE OF THE BLACK RIVER Four Corners Monument. Even though the PCC does
Dunkirk isnt the most powerful player in NeoNET, but his not recognize the former states, the monument itself
position has him ideally placed to further a pair of agenda is known in magical circles as a powerful site for lo-
items on the to-do list of the Black Lodge: the reunifica- cation rituals and accessing the metaplanes thanks to
tion of the U.S. of A. and/or the declaration of St. Louis decades of low-cycle mana buildup.
as a free city. Recent moves and maneuvers by Richard According to the OAA, Highwater is out here because
Villiers have been pointing to efforts to make St. Louis the he uses the Four Corners siteknown as Habananne or

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 25


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

spirit door to the PCCas a ritual site for tracking criminals power from behind the scenes. She has been smart
and even chasing free spirit outlaws across planes. While enough to avoid moving up the hierarchy but has man-
this may be true, it isnt the main reason the Black Crow aged to get dirt, leverage, or favors from every solda-
spends so much time nesting here. Thats Alayna Evanstar. do turned jefe who has moved past her. Though she
Shes a young prospect for the Black Lodge who Highwa- is living in Havana, her shadowy efforts are spread all
ter has been grooming for a few years now. She and High- over the Carib League. She has been contracting and
tower have a far more intimate relationship than one would running shadow ops that seem to be playing the reuni-
expect from a couple with a forty-year age gap, though fications angle from the south.
Highwater barely looks a day over thirty. He hasnt had any The Lodge here is working with the Lodges in
kind of lenization or gene therapy, but rumors abound the CAS to sew some discontent between the Carib
about a metaplane hes found that ages backwards. Its a League nations and the CAS while also fanning the
rumor, but Highwater is awfully spry for sixty-eight. ever-burning embers of conflict between the CAS
While rumors of an age-reversing metaplane might and Aztlan. As usual, these are the kinds of operation
be enough to get a price on his head, that isnt why hes the Black Lodge runs with a half dozen operatives all
got sights over his heart. The Black Crow flies all over the working as blinds and misdirects. The goal is to make
PCC, and everywhere he goes he sows seeds of discord the CAS feel uncomfortable and start looking at the
between the PCC and the other member nations of the UCAS as a possible ally. Velasquez has a very deli-
NAN, especially the Sioux, but he doesnt discriminate. cate touch and is the perfect person for the job, since
His efforts often involve runners in the various cities he pushing too far could turn discontent into open war,
stops in. Usually two teams, one working on his Pueb- something no one in this region wants.
Sec work while the other works at his Lodge goals. Both The contract on Velasquez is lucrative and being paid
think they are working for PuebSec if they dig into Mr. in S-K stock. That means the first suspect is Lofwyr, but
Johnsons background, and Highwater is smart enough we all know how worthwhile those kinds of clues are.
to mask the two jobs to maintain the ruse. Based on some other more well-hidden (and therefore
When it comes time to cash in on this contract, run- more likely) data I found, the contract is coming from
ners have two options: dead or alive, and alive is going either the Sea Dragon or Hestaby. While Hestaby may
to net you five times more in the old Z-O bank account. be exiled, she remains a great dragon and likely to kick
While Highwater will be snagged (and either bagged or all our hoops even in a rigged match. Paying off run-
tagged) in the PCC, delivery of the live target has to oc- ners with stock from S-K seems a great way to get back
cur in the Sioux Nation. The contract is handled through at a megacorporation in a creative fashion. As for the
a fixer named Feather, with tight connections to Hen- Sea Dragon, she has a lot of interests around the Car-
equen Enterprises in Cheyenne, and thus we know the ib League and wants them to stay as free-wheeling and
contract comes via Henequen. open as ever. Should the Lodge get the UCAS and CAS
As a brief side point, no one is paying for Evanstar back together, it would put more pressure on the Carib
openly, but Im sure plenty of individuals would love to League and possibly make them a target for UCAS/CAS
hear what Highwater lets slip during pillow talk. imperial expansion.

> Just because the fixer has ties to Henequen does not > Velasquez has been scouting lately. Her name has been
automatically mean the job originates from that dragon. making the rounds among the islands wizzers. Expect the
Any other dragon could be using that tiny little bit of info Lodge of the Island Blade to expand soon.
to throw off the scent. > Kane
> Thorn
REVISING HISTORY
> I know Feather. Hes not sure whos footing the bill, but
The biggest source of contracts currently being float-
he told me his initial payment was made in orichalcum
ed is not CFD, Ares restructuring issues, the Azzies
ore. The rock wasnt processed and actually still had some ever-present issues, or NeoNETs desire for a new
polyp growth on it. Might be a second ruse to throw off home. Its what the shadows have been referring to
the trail, but it could also mean a dragon with access to an as the Megacorporate Revision (also known as the
oceanic treasure reserve. Megacorporate Audit). While at least half of the Big
> Winterhawk Ten have been enduring issues over the past few years,
their AA kin have been coordinating and trying to
DARIELLA DE HEA LA VELASQUEZ; change the landscape of the Corporate Court. Nothing
BATISTA ENFORCER; boosts the number of contracts and contractors like a
LODGE OF THE ISLAND BLADE megacorporate war. Whether the AAs had that as part
Though her position within the Batista regime seems of their plan or not, that seems as if it will be the inev-
to be nothing special, Velasquez wields considerable itable result.

26 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

While this is an absolutely marvelous time to be deep but will be discovered by the auditors, and the CC
taking shots at the Big Ten to try to grab a little bigger will come down hard with penalties on the corp for try-
percentage of the profits, thats not what the AAs are ing to hide the data.
doing. Theyre trying to gather together a gang of their
buddies and knock one of the ten from their throne. The > These jobs cost the CC quite a bit, but the fines they levy
idea is somewhat akin to the Pacific Prosperity Group, against the corp for obstructing the audit usually recoups
but instead of just mutual support, these AAs are going the cost. If you think youre being contracted for some part
for AAA status through mergers and hostile takeovers, of this keep that in mind during negotiations. The CC is
trying to gain a spot through sheer size or combined going to make their money back, and probably more, so
corporate power. All while trying to get ahead of the push it a little.
Megacorporate Audit that the Corporate Court is per-
forming on random A- or greater-rated megacorps.
> Thorn

That audit is the friendly face of this whole process.


The CC is making everything look all above-board for > This is exactly the kind of job we shouldnt be doing. Why
would any runner in their right mind work to help the CC
the smaller corps, but under the table, the Big Ten are
lining up shot after shot on their lesser-ranked kin. Be- and the Big Ten tighten the noose they have on the world?
hind the scenes, both sides are setting contracts to get We have a chance to help hurt the big guys by helping the
the results they want. Hits on auditors, schedulers, and little guys.
key fiscal personnel are being filled to alter the speed of > /dev/grrl
the process in favor of whoevers footing the bill.
On the CC side of things, theyre contracting run- > You mean helping the smaller big guys. While I see what
ners to get internal data on each corp before they roll youre saying, were just trading one master for another.
in for their audits so they can know exactly where to Now Im on board when we look at it as more corps
look. These jobs are primarily contracted to teams that means more work. If all these little guys join together
know how to keep their work quiet and undetectable, and just become a couple more big guys, its a lot harder
but when that plan fails, the CC has multi-phase back- to know who youre working for. Everything becomes
up plans that are more interesting to other, more vio- internal, and those jobs suck because the internal forces
lence-prone teams. When a job goes sideways like this, tend to make up info faster than you can pull the jobs, and
the CC quickly puts out three jobs. then they dont blame each other, they blame the runners.
Since their primary goal is to secure the data, the first
Corporate politics suck.
thing they do is contract to make sure the team with the
data delivers. This can be a hit on the team to get the > Ecotope
data or a protection gig to keep trouble off their back
while they work to make the exchange. Which call they > Hey /dev/, how many runners in their right mind do
make depends on their working reputation with the pri- you know? This is just the way of the world. If runners
mary runner team, who the job was against, and which overthrow one of the big boys, it will be because the other
member of the CC staff is handling the operation. There big boys lined us up to do it.
are quite a few bloodthirsty SOBs in the upper ranks of > Slamm-0!
the CC, and dead runners tell no tales is just as com-
mon in their circles as geek the mage first is in ours. On the other side of the battle were looking at A-
The second job is against the corp that was originally and AA-rated corps teaming up. Well, at least teaming
targeted. This operation is going to be either a coverup or up as you would expect corporate sharks to do. Its real-
a shakeup. A coverup tries to cover what the first job was ly more like pack hunting. While theyre looking to work
after so the corp doesnt know theyre being set up for the together to try to take down or compete with the other
next audit. This means some misdirection being laid out apex predators, theyre going to have to set up their own
to either throw suspicion at another corp or away from pecking order beforehand. This means jobs contracted
the data that was snagged. The shakeup is much less clan- to remove competition for the top spots in their new
destine. In order to keep the corp focused on issues other corporate consortiums.
than covering up for the data they just had stolen, theyre Much like the operations that occurred during the
hit with some serious attacks. Assassinations of key per- formation of the Manhattan Development Consortium
sonnel involved in the data, extractions with a high body in New York, well see everything from direct hits target-
count, or contracts on their executives. This keeps them ed at the higher ups to broad-scale terror intended to
dodging bullets and worrying about their own hoop and sew chaos and disturb internal operations just enough
not focusing on covering the corps collective posterior. to keep the executives looking inward instead of out.
The third job is my favorite. A copy of the data that Some of the best data I can give you here isnt whats
was stolen is given to another runner team to plant back going onwell all see that eventuallybut which folks
in another system at the target corp. The data is buried are teaming up.

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 27


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

There are eight different AA corps that seem to be these corps. They have the value and power to easily
leading conglomeration efforts, each with half a doz- hold onto AA status, but they will probably lack the co-
en primary supporters and dozens of potential smaller ordination to earn the AAA rating they deserve based
allies that are often shared between the bigger groups. on sheer size, which is why they are engaging in talks
These smaller corps are just looking for the best place well see where those talks end up.
to land when all of this rolls into a corporate war, and We all know Maersk Incorporated Assets does a lot
they arent just looking at AAs. The AAAs may get a little more than shipping and are far from being stripped of
bloated from all this as well. The coalitions and some of their AA status. While that may be true, they are also
their interests and efforts are next up on the hit list. not about to sit idle while A- and AA-rated corps are
merging and growing right past them. Their first stop
THE LITTLE EIGHT was another secure AA, Hildebrandt-Kleinfort-Bernal.
Alongside the solid British banking firm theyve reached
Just about every A-rated corp out there is now looking out and pulled in Aerospatiale SA, Federated-Boeing,
to merge or be purchased by an AA in order to gain the and United Oil Industries. The new corp is tentatively
advantages of extraterritoriality. On the other side, all labeled HKB-Maersk Incorporated Assets. Any brands
the AA-rated corps are looking to pull in more value and and subsidiaries would likely keep their names to main-
leverage because the audit has been hammering them. tain business as usual.
Several of them are up for reclassification, and losing
extraterritoriality could be really bad news for compa- > Dont any of these groups have some branding experts
nies that are doing things on their property the local somewhere on their vast payrolls? Honestly, these names
government would not approve of when they come in are not doing it for me.
looking. And look they willif not for the actual bene- > Dr. Spin
fit of their citizens but for the monetary benefit of graft
and blackmail. This is another one of those places where While the details of the deals are still in negotiations,
opportunities for wetwork have skyrocketed. Its a hell this corporate group has already begun a few projects
of a lot cheaper to pay a low-rent hitter or a small team together. The funding of HKB, naval power of Maersk,
of rookie runners to off some greedy government goon aeronautics engineering prowess of Aerospatiale and
than it is to grease his palms. Not the point. The point F-B, and offshore oil-rig infrastructure of United Oil are
is these corporations getting together is hot right now, already working together on a project internally referred
and we are also getting jobs trying to keep them from to as Ethereal. The goal of the project is not clear but
coming to terms on mergers and acquisitions. Some of seems to involve a mobile living platform at sea, almost
these jobs are contracted through the CC, while others like a floating city or manmade island. They arent work-
are megacorp-specific as they try to prevent other cor- ing unmolested, though, as contracts are being listed
porations from cutting into their territory. for a number of top researchers from the corps through
Zeta-ImpChem is at the top of discussions involv- channels leading back to the Sea Dragon. It doesnt help
ing Tanamyre Resources, Eastern Tiger, and ESUS. Ta- that the corps involved dont like each other much, but
namyre is the tenacious Australian AA megacorp that the power and potential profit involved can overcome
diversified enough to be multinational and built up a lot.
enough value at home to gain AA status, but the audit Lone Star Security Services may still be behind
is threatening that value. Eastern Tiger was soaring with Knight Errant in overall security contracts, but they have
the new Matrix initiative. They had infrastructure con- enough diversity to surpass the Ares subsidiary in val-
tracts all over Southeast Asia, including Hong Kong. ue and have no desire to lose their AA status. The CC
Then NeoNET came after them in the CC, and they lost would be hard-pressed to knock them down, but they
big time. They still bring value to the table and a poten- will find that task standing near the cusp of impossibility
tial internal expansion of host security and their entire if the merger between LSSS, Aegis Cognito, Manadyne,
telecommunications infrastructure. ESUS seemed like a and DocWagon actually moves forward. The new parent
strange fit, but they bring another European power into megacorp, OmniStar, will likely only exist in coded con-
this world-spanning coop. tracts, but the resulting megacorporation will surpass
The concept is that each company will maintain their Ares in estimated value.
current moniker, the entire group will be under the zic- As one would expect during a merger between a se-
tretesus corporate umbrella. The Roman sounding name curity firm, an independent intelligence agency, an ar-
over the ten-spoked black and red umbrella logo will cane powerhouse, and the top emergency-medical-ser-
probably make future generations think that zictretesus vice provider in the world, the company will have a lot
means umbrella. The corp name is all the initials of the to offer client cities, nations, businesses, and even other
involved groups, and it is intentionally uncapitalized to megacorporations. The trouble in Boston has done some
avoid any of the corps being seen as more important value damage to both Manadyne and DocWagon, mak-
than any other. This move epitomizes the mood within ing them more receptive to the idea of merging, but no

28 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

corporation is ever completely happy getting mashed very likely to be hired for a healthy bit of waxwork to
up with someone else. Even though this group will likely stir the pot. Even if those two cant stay friendly, the FBA
maintain a lot of their independence from one another, and Global Sandstorm can stay merged under the most
there are several executives in each company who are perfect megacorporate name ever, FBAGS. Which is, of
fighting the efforts. Often through very bloody means. course, just a placeholder.
The major Japanacorps have been around for a while, Gaeatronics has rested peacefully in the shade of
but none of them started as just a single corporation. Shiawase Energy for decades. The energy company
They grew from mergers, acquisitions, and skilled in- was happy to be the second-largest energy corp in the
vestments (as well as the downfalls of their rivals). They world. When the audit hit them with a downgrade due to
are all household names with subsidiaries that are also the easily manipulated value of energy (which has since
household names, much like the lead corp in the merg- returned to normal levels), they were in trouble. To im-
er of five A- and AA-rated Japanacorps would create prove their position, they used the sudden increase in
a new fourth power that would surpass both Shiawase corporate value (thanks to the sudden increase in ener-
and Renraku in value. Monobe International, Daiatsu, gy value) to lure Amalgamated Studios into a lucrative
Komatsu, Sony, and Yakashima are discussing a merger mergera merger that also created a need for a new au-
that will make them the second-largest megacorpora- dit. Shortly after these two came together, Shibata Con-
tion in Japan, behind only Mitsuhama Computer Tech- struction & Engineering, an A-rated megacorp owned
nologies. primarily by Buttercup, the Evo board member, and
The move is being spearheaded by Monobe in hopes former fellow member of the Pacific Prosperity Group,
of finally getting a seat on the Corporate Court, possibly approached the merged pair and offered to join. While
at the expense of Renraku, putting them at odds. The the two were sure of their tentative Gaeatronics-Amal-
new merged mega, which would likely keep the Monobe gamated Productions merger being enough for the up-
name and possibly remove the International, would ex- coming audit, they had no problems hedging the deal
pand their interests in pharmaceuticals, electronics, with a good deal from a board member of one of the CC
vehicle manufacture, and shipping and logistics, put- members.
ting them at odds with plenty of the other sharks in the The move raised a lot of suspicion in uninformed cor-
megacorporate pool. The biggest turmoil coming out of porate circles, but the shadows can see the truth. Butter-
all of this is centered around a single piece: Chrysler-Nis- cup is hedging her bets and keeping an AA that she can
san. The subsidiary of Sony has been making noises of fall back on should the CFD blowback bring Evo crashing
separating for a while now and may be looking to find a down. Since the Shibata deal is not yet set in stone, a
new corporate umbrella to stand under. The possibility lot of shady deals and backroom stabbings are going
of the Chrysler side pulling C-N back to North America on trying to keep Buttercup focused on the present and
is strong. saving Evo, instead of the future and a place to hide.
Europe has a strange situation to deal with. They al- While rumors are still flying about some kind of
ready have some cooperation between A- and AA-rat- deal between NeoNET and SpIn, the AA in the pair is
ed corps in the NEEC that try to stem the tide of Saed- not sitting idly by waiting for their chance to be audited
er-Krupps continental domination. With the audit into oblivion. Spinrad Industries is lining up deals with
obviously focusing on downgrading as many corps as Chalmers & Cole Assoc., Phoenix Biotechnologies,
possible to increase the power of the AAAs, expect S-K Lusiada, Sol Media, Regency Megamedia, and UCAS
and NeoNET to be pushing for members of the NEEC to Online to pull them all into the Industries part of their
get pushed around. To avoid this, a very unlikely, and name. While SpIn should already be valued higher than
possibly explosive, corporate merger is in the works. Horizon and Wuxing, Inc., a dramatic move would push
The Frankfurt Bank Association is the financial center them past Shiawase, Ares Macrotechnology, and possi-
and backbone of a unification of Proteus AG and AG bly Evo. While that wont get them a seat at the table, it
Chemie. These bitter rivals are putting a bloody past be- should keep them extraterritorial, and help them make
hind them in order to survive an attack of red tape and their case for future AAA status.
bureaucracy that could put all three corps at risk. The The move would also give them better access to
origin of this unholy union came with both AGs com- shipping and logistics, more media companies to plas-
ing to the FBA as a merger partner and the FBA seeing ter Johnny Spinrads latest exploits all over the world,
the greater possibilities of all three joined together. A another strong biotech firm, and a chance for Johnny
fourth AA, Global Sandstorm, saw this European pow- to get his rush off the mountain and in the office with
erhouse as a great team to join in order to better oppose emerging market investment. Problems with this are go-
S-K in other areas of the globe by making them worry ing to come from a lot of angles. Other megacorps that
more about home. While they still wont rival NeoNET hes going to pass or step into competition with will not
or S-K, theyll surpass at least half of the other AAAs in sit back and watch him walk on by or just let him have
value. Though all of this is contingent on Proteus and AG his way. If NeoNET and SpIn were working on a deal,
Chemie not brawling internally, especially since were that could mean trouble for the number two AAA in the

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 29


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

world. Johnnys playing with fire, but then again, hes given away freely when it comes time to vote me back in.
Johnny Spinradwed expect nothing less. As runners, we have to figure out where all this is head-
Telestrian Industries has been around for a long ed and plan how were going to deal with it. Changes are
time. Theyve been an AA for a long time. I would have coming, which is always the case; the trick is knowing
expected them to sit back and let the audit come, having how the winds are going to shift before they do.
no fear of being downgraded. And that is exactly what From my point of view, what all of this seems to be
they didat first. When other AA- and A-rated corps leading towards is not just a weakening of the non-AAA
started talking mergers to increase value, they quickly corps but a chance for the Big Ten to devalue their ri-
became aware of the precarious place left for a corp that vals through this blatant abuse of the Corporate Court.
does not take that route. This could be especially true if The audit is an obvious attempt at weakening the small-
the Corporate Court changes requirements for AA sta- er corps. This effort is going to set them up to be de-
tus due to the actions taken by other megacorps. The voured by the bigger corps, both AA and AAA alike, but
same realization came to Universal Omnitech about the the AAA big boys will probably have a lot more buying
same time. The two AA-rated corps started discussing power after the audits are done, since the AA corps are
merger possibilities but had a lot of difficulties early on, going to take a value hit.
including a considerable culture clash between Portland Once everyone without a seat at the big table is
(I dont care what the elves call it) and Vancouver. Still in devalued, the real fun begins. The AA-rated corps that
need of allies, UO reached out to Pacific Rim Communi- have stretched themselves to buyout smaller corps will
cations Unlimited, a fomer-PPG-turned-ETC corp, and be the first targets as the AAAs, one or all, weaken the
Pacific Rim Bank & Financial Services, a Japanacorp market area and force their competition toward losses.
that was being left out of the Monobe group for some These struggling corps will be crushed and their remains
reason most likely involving honor. Telestrian made a will be quietly absorbed into the Big Ten. After dealing
similar effort but pulled in a black sheep that knew its with the corps that went the buyout route, the Big Ten
days of holding onto its AA status were numbered, Kon- will go after any that managed to successfully merge.
dOrchid. With the realization that the pair had just cre- These new merged corps will have to be audited again
ated a megacorporate ring of headquarters around the and after we come in and start working our shadow
Pacific, they came back together and have been working magic in the interim, they will undoubtedly lose value
to settle their differences, hopefully before the audits during these new audits. Some will lose enough to get
start to hit. Even if they merge these five would never gobbled up by a AAA, others will weather that storm
be able to agree on a name. The last documents I saw only to be attacked by the AAAs again, and some will
referred to the collaborative exploration as TIUOPRBPR- see the writing on the wall and simply sign themselves
CUKOa name fit only for financial documents, not for over to a AAA they like, before they get dragged down
advertising. by one they dont.
The end result is that the Big Ten become the Only
> The mood within these can shift frequently and quickly. Ten, and those at the top focus on exerting their power
If one of the Big Ten makes a good enough offer, some over the masses and fighting off the occasional bit of
of these independents might just sell out to get safely nosey shadowrunning from a rival to keep up appear-
under their umbrella. ances. Well see a narrowing world of enclaves and cor-
> Mr. Bonds porate city-states that either tightly control the local na-
tional governments or simply disband them completely.
> The Big Ten could also end up shrinking back down to the We may complain that the megacorporations are pow-
Big Eight as they gobble up some of the small-fries on erful and soul-crushing, but we would be wishing for
the CC in this feeding frenzy. Horizon has been a dwarf the current state of affairs if the Revision runs its course
among giants since it slithered onto the CC, and things in
unopposed.
Japan have been hot among the Japanacorps. They may
decide its time to restructure. TROUBLE IN PARADISE
> Icarus Theres been quite of bit of activity going on down in
the Carib League. The work is spread wide and covers
> If the Japanacorps do anything, it would be to find a way every type of op our kind pulls, but a wide-angle lens
to expand and gain another seat on the CC to regain the shows that most of the current work is landing in three
power they used to have as five of the eight seats. main camps: issues for the Batistas, efforts against Se-
> Baka Dabora attle Governor Kenneth Brackhaven, and some whis-
pering of a resurgent Komungo with tempo ready for
The best part of all this for us is that were seeing it market. Only one of the three is what youd expect to
early. If you hadnt noticed it early, then youre welcome find here, but I think thats why the other two are fo-
for the insight. Remember all the hard work Ive done and cused down here. There are contracts on members of

30 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

all three camps and even a few being opened up by litically motivated and the families are hoping for extra
folks inside those camps to try and pull off some heat. results from Cuba thanks to their view on corporations.
The regular jobs are going both ways as well, and they Success here will reveal itself longterm, but the immedi-
stay closer to the streets. ate results seem apparent as the northern families have
The Batistas are still the criminals to know in Hava- moved some additional ordnance and personnel down
na, but theyve started to feel some pressure in the last to the CL that is being put to use.
month. Contracts are going out for targets across the With the extra support, the Batistas are pushing at
organization, from soldatos to capos. The source is ap- Zobop operations on Cuba and all around the CL. Theyre
parently softening the family for something, but I hav- contracting some softening operations and hiring out for
ent been able to figure out whos calling the shots. The a lot of misdirection ops. The moves seem to be focused
action seems street level, but the funding is definitely off Cuba right now, targeting other Zobop strongholds
someone bigger, maybe a few someones. The whole around the CL. Its an interesting little island war because
thing seems a little off, since the Batistas have loyal guys the dead arent necessarily out of the fight when it come
who access these contract offers and have to be bring- to the Zobops, so the Batistas have special instructions
ing warnings back. for the work that comes across like a bad horror trid.
The fact that they know isnt slowing their latest
projects. Theyve had quite a bit of contact with their > This seems awfully bold. Cuba is not the kind of place
northern relatives, and word from these meetings is to thats going to tolerate a mob war. Tends to frighten the
show support for positive trade relationships between tourists.
the UCAS, CAS, and Carib League, including Cuba. That > Traveler Jones
means going beyond the status quo; the efforts are po-

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 31


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

and Brackhaven is losing more and more support while


> All the more reason to stage hits around the rest of the
building up some serious enemies who would rather see
Carib first. Stragglers and survivors are going to end up
him take his business elsewhere. Since these jobs are fo-
concentrated on Cuba. Once everyone is in one house,
cused on devaluing his holdings, Id guess they may stop
the Batistas knock down the house in a one hard strike. No
as soon as Brackhaven Investments has their audit with
long, drawn-out war to chase away the tourists.
the Corporate Court.
> Kane
> The audit is going to be the least of Brackhavens worries
> The Zobops have way too many friends for the Batistas
very soon. One of the recent jobs was a home invasion
to take them out. Especially with the unique services only
on a property near Mantua. The team that was hired did
the Zobops can offer. There has to be something more.
the recon and felt they could subcontract cheap to some
> Thorn
locals and walk away with the cash and no risk. Locals
were overexuberant in their efforts to impress the runners
While they go after the Zobops around the CL, on
and botched the job. They went in while the family was
Cuba the Batistas are making friendly with the govern-
there and ended up killing four people. Among the dead
ment by helping the local independent companies keep
clear of the Revision and minimizing the risks of them were Capo Juan-Juan Vasquezs daughter and his five-
losing that independence. Members of the Batista family year-old grandson. While Juan is definitely going to go
have been avid patrons and visitors of local companies, after whoever was behind the jobs, hell also be going
especially when corporate meetings are taking place or after Brackhaven for bringing these troubles to his island.
when a well-known corporate executive happens to be > Traveler Jones
stopping by for a chat. They arent everywhere, but they
can respond quickly to word from the eyes and ears they All of this isnt because of Brackhavens troubles back
have all over town. If the threat is too big, they some- in Seattle but because of his ever-emerging ties to the
times call in local teams if theyre nearby. Human Nation. While the public is likely to never see
This leads nicely to a connection to the Batistas, any of that, the shadows are hot with jobs all over North
topic number one, and Kenneth Brackhaven, topic America uncovering those ties, which are closer and
number two. I dont have the intel as to whether the more active than any of Brackhavens enemies dreamed.
move is a local choice or a decision of the Commission One particular revelation that recently emerged is an is-
to cut ties, but the Batistas arent protecting KBs assets land investment that will surprise many, both for its con-
around the CL, and Brackhaven Investments is having a nection to Brackhaven and the fact that it keeps popping
rough month at the Havana offices. The family wasnt up.
the only protection Brackhaven hadmoney buys a lot Meanwhile, just when people were starting to for-
of friendsbut its one less group of friends he has in get about tempo, its re-emerging. While the huge ring
the Carib League. may have been broken up, the drug is still popping up
Brackhavens problem is that right now he needs all in sprawls across the globe, and prices are through
the friends down here he can get because his invest- the roof. Keen to make money, a very unlikely alliance
ments and holdings all over the Carib League are be- formed between Chulsoon Gray Wolf and Brackhaven
ing targeted by his opposition, a group that is growing Investments. BI owns a series of plantations, all in very
larger by the day. Key investment analysts within Brack- out-of-the-way locations, across the Carib League. The
haven Investments have been running into frequent money has been going in, but nothing has yet been pro-
trouble on the streets of Havana and Santiago de Cuba duced. On paper, the plantations are producing coffee
where the company has their main offices. Problems and grapes. Both are then supposed to be aged and pre-
have run from muggings to home invasions, and even pared, turned to wine, roasted, and anything else they
include numerous assaults. As of yet, there have been can list on paper to show a delay in release for sale in
no fatalities. Whichever of Brackhavens enemies is co- order to continue the charade. My suspicion is that Gray
ordinating these efforts wants chaos and disorder, not Wolf, who has been spotted visiting all of these planta-
deaths. Dead employees can be replaced; scared em- tions, still knows the secrets of tempo and is working
ployees tend to let their fear detract from their work for with BI to make a big profit on its return. Gray Wolf also
a while. has quite a few former members of the Komungo work-
Also in the crosshairs is the real estate owned by BI ing with him as his closest lieutenants. The last part of
all across the CL. Some of the attacks are direct, but most the puzzle, which seems to be what they are currently
of the jobs are hitting or hurting BI-friendly real-estate solving with visits to a wide array of captains and cor-
brokers and nearby properties in order to affect proper- porate executives, is distribution. With KondOrchid no
ty values. The owners of these other properties, some- longer an option, theyll need a new way to get their
times rich individuals but often corporations disguis- product to market. And theyll need a very quiet shipper
ing themselves with shell companies, are being clued before they flood the streets.
in on the streets as to why their places are getting hit

32 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

be shared throughout the system, allowing the individu-


> The cartels that had been involved in tempo still control
al to be tracked without giving them any actual benefits
production, but something has been keeping them from
of citizenship that would typically come with a SIN. The
moving forward in a large way. Something has to be really
goal, of course, would be for this centralized system to
bad for the cartels to be willing to hold off on making a
have all SIN-related data, including a full genome se-
freighter-full of money.
quence on record.
> Balladeer
> This will be interesting. What will the megacorporations
> Unless, of course, this is how theyre doing it. With an
be doing with the genome data of every sapient citizen
arms-length approach and some former allies.
on Earth? Theyll also need to solve the issue of sapient
> Red Anya
citizenship, too. Not every nation and megacorporation
have the same rules for citizenship, especially when it
> Not likely. This is just one of those times where history
comes to metasapients. This registry will need to get past
repeats itself because everyone does a really good job of
that issue first.
keeping secrets.
> Goatfoot
> Frosty

> Thats easy. The same way they handle it right now.
NEXT BIG INITIATIVE OF Extraterritoriality. Having a SIN doesnt give you any
DANIELLE DE LA MAR rights within a megacorp or country, it just means they
have a way of verifying who you are. If youre a ghoul on
With a newer and more secure Matrix now in place (in-
Evo soil, youre good. Step off into the UCAS, and youre
sert laugh track here), some would have expected Dan-
on your own.
ielle de la Mar to simply bask in the glory and rake in the
dough from trid appearances all over the world, along > Hannibelle
with her nice, fat Corporate Court paycheck. Anyone
who hasnt been living under a rock or out in the middle > Its not that bad. Im sure the CCs need to expand will
of Puyallup, though, knows this isnt the case. Instead, result in hiring a few opportunistic individuals who will
she is on to her next agenda of increased security in the be more than willing to slip some data of varying levels of
world. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, get ready accuracy into the system for the right price.
for the next wave of megacorporate cooperation head- > Kane
ed up by the Corporate Court: the Universal SIN Registry.
While SINs are already a global system, over time This is going to open up some opportunities in the
the various backups, supports, and infrastructure for SIN shadows for professionals of significant skill. Hacking
validation have become scattered across systems all the GOD host where this data will be stored is probably
around the world. Nations and megacorporations able not going to be within the realm of possibility for a while.
to issue SINs host their own data and limit access to out- That means fake SINs are going to start collapsing once
side sources for obvious reasons. The more access one this gets rolling, and the new SINs are going to be tight.
allows, the better chance of a system being exploited. Professionals, especially those good at making people
If everyone put all their SIN data in one place, it would disappear, are going to be in high demand to create SIN
have been a nightmare for Matrix security, and hackers vacancies that can be used. These wont last long if used
couldnt have dreamed up a better way to make mon- while engaged in criminal enterprises, but it might be
ey if they tried. But that was on the old system. The the best solution we have early on.
IC Queen, as many have begun calling de la Mar, is But we dont just want work on the back end, do we?
claiming that the new Matrix could handle this kind of We have this place so we can get out ahead of our prob-
operation, allowing GOD to expand and monitor all the lems when we have the chance. Were going to do that by
SINs of the world. Shes pushing for the CC and the most getting between de la Mar and those in positions of pow-
powerful governments around the world to quickly ratify er, including removing some of those that she is relying
a new SIN registry so that data can begin to be correlat- on to help push her agenda. She has several key figures
ed. Thats bad news for the shadows. in most of the major national governments who we can
In their first pass, they will flag any SINs that con- manipulate. On the megacorporate side, were not going
tain overlapping biometric data between individuals. to have a lot of luck in killing off those in power, but we
The next pass will use facial software, followed by visu- can put pressure on them or their families and get them
al inspection and in-person communication. After that to slow the process. Since the megas are the CC and this
its going to be random verifications and assignment is a top-down call, its going to be an uphill fight. But, then
of SINs to those who do not have one. These Outsider again, when is it not from inside the shadows.
SINs will be issued by the Corporate Court on the spot As another sign of my goodwill Im dropping the
to anyone found not possessing a National, Criminal, or names into the hands of an ally. Hes not a JackPointer,
Corporate SIN. Information on this OSIN will of course but you all know him and have let him post on here be-

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 33


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

fore. If youre looking for info on how to help this situa- nance. I started with the mention of Deus, because on the
tion, talk to Ire; hes got the datafile. outside of the wall there are forces gathering in support
of Deus that happen to worship dissonance, and they are
> The fight against this may not be as tough as it might working to corrupt hosts, devices, and AIs in support of
seem at first. The new Matrix passed because it meshed creating dissonance wells that they can use to create a way
well with corporate interests. This vast SIN registry? Not for Deus to cross the transmission dead-zone around Bos-
so much. There are plenty of corp execs and managers ton. Many of these groups are working around the rest of
out there with extra SINs for a wide variety of purposes, the East Coast and around the QZ, but operations as far
and they would not be too eager to lose their fakes. On top away as Tsimshian and the UK have been tied to this.
of that, the corps like the fact that people like us cannot be While Im not about to continue to push the techno-
tracked easily. Thats one of the reasons they turn to us.
mancer scare agenda any more than Im going to tell ev-
eryone to fear the head cases, I am going to warn about
Theyre not going to give that up without a fight. For once,
those technomancers who follow a different path, just like
the corps and shadows may be aligned. So if you need
Id warn against the head cases who are psychotic. I dont
support in bringing de la Mars proposal down, head to
know the limits to the power of resonance or dissonance
your local corporate department of unspecified services.
or even what they are exactly, but I know technomancers
> Sunshine that have taken jaunts to the Resonance Realms in their
digital form, and they tell me there isnt one specific spot to
> I love that Risers goodwill is a list of names of people get in from. Sometimes there is, but most of the time they
who should be killed. Seems the old Riser is alive in there go in wherever and pop out wherever too. Now, there are
somewhere. enough wackos who believe they can use Dissonance for
> Kane the same thing and that they can open up a way for Deus,
who is nothing but a digital personality, to step out of the
> Ill say what some of us might be, and should be, thinking. QZ, where someone let his crazy hoop loose and out into
What if all these hit lists are just Risers own personal the rest of the Matrix. Not my idea of a good day.
agenda that were executing for him? This could all be a Im not savvy in this department. Here Im just being
head case manipulation. Paul Revere and warning all that The Deus is coming,
> Plan 9 the Deus in coming. Now, all of you deck-jockey patri-
ots can do the rest.
> Might have been better if someone other than the head
case conspiracy nut made a comment about a head case > I wonder how Deus would handle the new protocols.
conspiracy. That doesnt make the comment less valid, it Maybe GOD would drop him like a hot potato as soon as
just makes one wonder if one head case is trying to throw he pops up?
people off the scent or sabotage another head case. Or > /dev/grrl
are you both Monads now?
> /dev/grrl > We couldnt be so lucky. And knowing GOD, theyd try and
capture him so they can study him, and then somehow

THE D WORD make him more powerful and mess up more peoples
lives. Bad enough Im starting to think of inside Boston
Im not a spreader of idle rumor. I like to make sure any- like another Renraku Arcology. Hate to see what kind of
thing I put out there, even if it is a rumor, is confirmed continental or global frag-up the CC could do with this.
by several sources that Im fairly certain dont gather > Bull
data from the same rumor mill. That said, Im putting
this out there with only a few sources, one of which is a
datadump from inside Boston.
NOT ON YOUR RADAR
Deus is back. I hate to say that Ive heard its name Now for a warning. Im not sure if it is a lack of atten-
again, but I have. Though it is seemingly contained, it still tion, an undeserved level of trust, or just plain igno-
causes me worry. Because anything to do with that cor- rance that has lead to this interesting situation. No mat-
rupted chunk of data is bad news, even if it is trapped. By ter the reason, Ive recently come across some rather
trapped, I mean stuck within the NEMAQZ, the quar- disturbing information about a group of individuals that
antine area around Boston that the megas are keeping will probably incite a large amount of denial from those
locked up tight. Im sure the megacorps are aware of who are reading this report. Part of this will be personal,
this, and even if only Renraku knew theyd surely keep and part will be professional because Ive discovered
the lid on until they could find a way to destroy that cor- something before those here were aware. For those
rupted code once and for all. who take the following personally, I apologize for be-
But Deus is not the D word Im referring to here. Its ing the bearer of bad news, but take it seriously and
part of it, since the D Im talking about stands for disso- keep your eyes and ears open. Youll see it eventually.

34 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

JACKPOINTERS
DATALINKESTABLISHING CONNECTION
Name: Slamm-0! Name: Bull Name: Frosty
Value: $$$ Value: $$$$ Value: $$$
Suspected Initiator: Tabby Suspected Initiator: Casanova Suspected Initiator: Unknown
Current Contractor Count: 2 Current Contractor Count: 6 Current Contractor Count: 2

Name: Axis Mundi Name: Sunshine Name: Kay St. Irregular


Value: $$ Value: $$$$$ Value: $$$
Suspected Initiator: Kludge Suspected Initiator: Unknown Suspected Initiator: Tabby
Current Contractor Count: 1 Current Contractor Count: 4 Current Contractor Count: 2

Name: Glitch Name: Mika > So at least we know Tabby, Kludge,


Value: $$$$ Value: $$ and Casanova are suspects. I wonder
Suspected Initiator: Casanova Suspected Initiator: Unknown how many others?
Current Contractor Count: 4 Current Contractor Count: 3 > /dev/grrl

Name: Pistons Name: Winterhawk


> Do those names look familiar? Like
maybe the ones who were involved in
Value: $$ Value: $$$$$ the chat at the end of the Storm Front
Suspected Initiator: Casanova Suspected Initiator: Kludge upload?
Current Contractor Count: 2 Current Contractor Count: 2 > Frosty

To the professionals who dont like getting scooped by I know that is hard to believe. For years the members
some head case, know that I only discovered this with- of these shadow networks have worked together, but all
in the last month. Also, Ive only unwoven the com- of that personal drek is being put aside for this move.
plex tapestry of this intricate plot because I have more Members of the Nexus are using proxies to set up con-
time on my hands than any ten other members of the tracts on at least a dozen members of JP. Contracts on
JP crew combined, and Im one mind with all the info. members of JP are normal. Clockwork has had a price
I had the time, resources, and access to do this job. on his head since about five minutes after he first post-
While I usually find the machinations and interactions ed, and Rigger X has several open on him at any one
between non-corporate interests to be a bit blunt, Ive time. The values arent enough for most hitters to make
found this one to have all the necessary intrigue of an a run at these guys because of their connections in high
old-fashioned spy novel. From what Im seeing its like places and the fact that they both have solid enough
a chess game where both sides will play their pieces skills to make the operation non-profitable. These lat-
with skill and finesse right up until some asshole flips est contracts are backed with better cash and a trio of
burner SINs to get clear of the backlash. When I inquired,
the board and everything goes crazy.
they also offered a yearlong access ID to the Nexus to
Ive written enough metaphors and hopefully gained
sweeten the deal. At first I thought it was just because
enough interest for you to read past the next sentence.
whoever it was knew my relationship status with JP and
JackPoint is under attack. I dont say that as if I am the
wanted to offer me a datahaven to work from. The offer
grand protector of all things, but instead because I feel
got me curious so I started on the contract. When anoth-
as if I can help. Ive identified the attackers and none of er JP member contract came up I inquired again, but this
it makes sense on the surface. But some serious digging time through a proxy because the network I was using
and making a few strained, but verifiable, connections, doesnt issue multiple jobs to a single contractor. You
Im certain that the most well-known members of Jack- have to close out before you can snag the next contract.
Point are currently being targeted by members of, or a The proxy got another good job offer and the same bo-
coalition within, the Denver Nexus. nus option, access to the Nexus.
Ive proxied and connected with other professionals
> I cleared out the series of variations on bulldrek to verify there are a dozen jobs with similar offers. Each
messages. Stop them now. has a different contract, and all of the legwork leads back
> Bull to a solid foundation for the work. Theyre doing their

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 35


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

homework or planting the right stories to make it look like method of halting the flow of information. We have
a hit is justifiable. Not that hitmen need justification oth- provided a lot of exposure for the happenings in Den-
er than a contract, but these are members of the shadow ver. While painting our rather vivid picture, we used a
community so a little more than money is often needed broad brush that didnt show favor to any of the parties
to get past the thieves code. Heres where clue two came involved. That means a very powerful elf and dragon
in that made me certain something was off. both got a little smeared by JackPoint. Im not a fan of
The contract on Slamm-0! was supported by a sup- meddling in the affairs of dragons, or elves who can go
posed datasteal against NeoNET that occurred at a time toe-to-toe with dragons, so my experience is limited,
when I know Slamm-0! wasnt hacking anything be- but I know neither of those forces like people to expose
cause he was playing dad while Netcat was out of town their misdeeds.
and the kid was being a holy terror. It was a likely job at If anyone was to dig further into this, Id look to those
a likely time. It fit all the standard Slamm-0! telltales, but two camps as the ones putting pressure on members of
no one checked out whether he was otherwise engaged the Nexus. In case any of the newer members here are
at the time. Once I knew something was off in one story, thinking of reaching out, remember that the members
I started finding the rest of the problems. of the Nexus may not be doing this voluntarily and you
could be risking a lot of lives, including yours, theirs, and
> Howd you know about me and the kid? possibly their loved ones, by asking direct questions.
> Slamm-0!
> How did we miss this? And did we? Anyone avoided any
> He was likely watching you for the contract on your son. attacks lately?
Its quite valuable. > Hard Exit
> Balladeer
> Yes, but I didnt know it was tied to anything about the
> What?! rest of you. If no one else has seen attacks, that could just
> Netcat mean they are being patient. I will be looking into this. We
should not be warring amongst ourselves while there are
> Theres an old, but still open contract on your child. It greater troubles to worry about.
isnt very high-paying and requires physical confirmation > Winterhawk
so there are extra strings. It currently has two active
contractors. Just a heads up. > That could very well be the reason. We arent as powerful
> Balladeer as megacorporations, but any one of us could do some
serious damage to the rep or life of a lot of corpses.
> I know youre young and desire to impress and connect, Maybe theyre looking to trim down the bushes by taking
Balladeer, but do not use information from private off the leaves and branches at the top.
locations again or I will be sure to inform others of > Glitch
your indiscretions. That place exists for the use of its
supporters. While Riser has decided here to mention PACIFYING THE
things that should not be shared, he is scared and on the
run. Unless you wish to join him, use more discretion.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST
> Thorn While that little title might sound like it belongs in a text
talking about the nineteenth-century American move-
Ill attach a little data file to upload with whos on ment westward, this pacification is even more nefarious.
the list and any other pertinent info Ive put together. I While some might not think that is even possible let me
stretched my resources thin getting this much, so dont start by mentioning the two big players, the Human Na-
consider is comprehensive. There may be other mem- tion and the Black Lodge. Think its possible now.
bers of JP with a target on their back. Thanks to a mutual enemy that has been aggressive
The reason for this clandestine assault isnt in my in recent years, these two groups have connected at a
data. I have a few speculations on it, though, and while few spots. While the Human Nation may not be com-
I wont be collecting on any of the contracts in order to pletely keen on the Awakened and the Black Lodge re-
follow the rules of JP even while I await reinstatement, ally only hates elves as a race and has members of the
Im also not digging much further. If something comes other metatypes, the two groups are overlooking those
past my sights, Ill freely inform those it concerns, but my differences in order to accomplish two very serious
efforts without incentive stop here. goals together. They are looking to destroy Tr Tairngire
Its time to speculate. There are two big powers in and the Ork Underground.
Denver right now that could be putting pressure on Neither of these organizations is the roll in the jack-
members of the Nexus to undermine JackPoint as a booted thugs type. We wont see a ground war with hu-

36 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

man soldiers stomping in and floating hooded wizards over the last year or so. Theres no surprise that the work
lobbing fireballs from these two groups. Their plan is seems to be focused in the realm of politics. With BL
far more insidious. From my vantage point Ive gleaned members hidden in almost every government west of
some of the underlying work, but most of what Im privy the Mississippi, they appear to be sewing the seeds of
to is the wetwork they use to clear difficult obstacles. distrust for the Tr. Not that many of these nations need-
Im probably going too fast. Lets ease back a little. ed more reason to distrust the elves, but the BL efforts
Both of these groups have been targeted by the var- are pushing the various governments toward open hos-
ious great dragons during their scuffle with humanity. tility. Though they dont usually go through official pro-
Since a cease fire was called, those aggressions have fessional channels, the BL has been contracting heavily
slid deeper into the shadows. The problem with doing in the area of waxwork, which are wetwork jobs that
that is you end up in very dark places where the peo- have blatant misdirection with an obvious focus in the
ple you hire are often less concerned about making a contract. Its like the exotic German sniper rifle someone
deal with a dragon and more concerned about making used to off Hestabys top shaman, that pointed immedi-
money to work on whatever minuscule connection to ately (too obviously, to some) toward Lofwyr. This tech-
sanity they still have. That means they will sell out to nique, along with political pressure, blackmail, arcane
a higher bidder, and while the dragons have plenty of mental manipulation, and a slew of other dirty tricks are
cash to settle scores, most of them know that when a being used to rile up the NAN, CFS, and Tr Tairngire to
dragon offers an exorbitant sum of money for a job, no get into a scuffle.
one is going to take it because they fear being eaten in- The HN is rumored to have purchased control of the
stead of paid. That means the jobs pay enough that the various contractors in charge of inspecting and restruc-
wealthy members of the Black Lodge (BL) and Human turing the Ork Underground now that it is an official dis-
Nation (HN) can buy their way free and get a heads-up trict of Seattle. Anyone want to take a guess at how bad
on who put out the job. This leads them to all start run- that could turn out? While the obvious thought would
ning into the same individuals getting hired to do jobs be the collapse of places to kill the metahumans below,
against both groups, which in turn leads to the members that might also affect the city above and all of its nice
of both groups meeting in some fortuitous way. This has human occupants. A pleasant fellow I used to work with
brought pieces of these two groups close, giving us our came across some city planning schematics that had a
current situation. lot more file protection than one would expect. After he
The two organizations are coordinating their efforts cracked them I got a look, and while I dont have a civil
to reshape the Pacific Northwest, but the work they are engineering degree, what I do have is an immeasurable
doing is going on across North America. BL efforts in IQ. I saw that the plans seem to show a way to com-
DeeCee include pushing the UCAS federal government pletely trash the air throughout the Ork Underground
to overturn the redistricting vote in Seattle, offering mil- with a small accidentan accident easily facilitated by a
itary support to the California Free State should the fall- small team of trained monkeys or members of the Crim-
out from Hestabys exile cause problems in Tr Tairngire, son Crush.
working to try and smooth border relations between the While Im keen on making sure the shadows are in-
UCAS and the Sioux Nation to reduce border stress and formed on this, Im more interested in the shadows ac-
allow the Sioux to look elsewhere for fights to pick, and tually doing something useful with this information. We
quietly supporting the rights of Aztlan to keep their sec- can dig and look into whos paying the tab for our jobs,
tor in Denver under a new treaty, therefore stalling the but thats not enough with these guys. This is genocide,
process. and while the old Riser might have shrugged his shoul-
In Denver the HN is fueling the fires of revolution in ders and said, more chaos, more cash, that wasnt
order to keep the area unstable and hinder work on ne- what he really felt. He wanted a settled-down world.
gotiating a new Treaty of Denver. Their efforts often fall Problem is, with groups like this around sometimes the
on the operational border between assassins and mer- only way to make a settled world is to put a few of the
cenaries out to blow up the world. The key is they arent chaos creators in the ground.
subtle, dont care for either of the sides, and happily sup- So what am I going to do about it? Well, Im dropping
port either side spilling the blood of the other. The HN a file straight to Bull on what I know is going on in the
here also have a larger-than-normal number of Flaming Seattle area. I know hes busy with the Underground, but
Swords, their militant hand. While most cities with a sig- if he wants the new district to survive, hell need to reach
nificant HN presence might have up to a dozen of these out into the shadows to get some work done. Im not
psychopathic genocidal maniacs, Denver has three doz- sure of connections in Denver, so that place may need to
en confirmed members and another dozen on my may- handle its own demons. Im trusting an upstanding troll,
be list. Theyre spread around the different sectors, with name of Nuum, down in the CFS. Runs a nursery (the
the bulk hiding out in the reclaimed Aztlan Sector. plant kind, though he sells mostly plastic ones) in Nor-
The BL has members throughout western North Cal where he also operates a healthy trade in telesma,
America and has been reaching out to them frequently arms, and drugs, when hes not working as a fixer for the

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 37


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

West Coast shadows. Lastly, Im sending a file to a t-bird


jammer named Sleipner who runs a circuit through the
> Whos right? Kane or Icarus?

NAN lands and up and down the Rockies. I think those


> Mika

three could give the BL and HN enough troubles to keep


things from spiraling out of control. > Could the Monad thing be an S-K ploy? Are they keeping
everyones attention elsewhere to keep them from
noticing this?
> It should be noted somewhere that all of this is being
done by members of each group, not the group itself. > /dev/grrl
In fact, the cooperation between these two groups is far
S-K appears to be waiting for the right moment and
from universal, and factions within both organizations
keeping this quiet while the Monad issue plays out. The
are not happy about what their fellow members are elevator hasnt been idle, though. The dragon has been
doing. While I havent seen any direct interference, I moving shipments up the cables (yes, plural) from a plat-
have seen back-end work that ties up loose ends in a form in the middle of the central Atlantic. The location
rather bloody fashion. is about eighteen degrees west longitude, right above
> Balladeer the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at the Romanche Gap, the third
deepest trench in the Atlantic. This is also one of the At-
> Bull, did you get the file? Whats the scoop? lantics most sea-mountainous regions. This isnt where
> Sunshine it was originally planned, and the platform being con-
structedand expandedat the original location is still
> I will neither confirm nor deny the receipt of any files from in operation, and growing.
a criminal third party.
> Bull > Looks like both Kane and Icarus were right and wrong.
Could they be building two? Also guys, can you read
> Well said Mr. Politics! Now spill it. through once and then comment? I hate going back and
> Slamm-0! deleting these posts that get answered half a dozen lines
later. Im leaving that one because Kane admitted to
> Ive got the data. Heavy stuff. Ill be handling it with care having eyes on the other platform. In case anyone needs
and avoiding open discussion. You want a piece of the info, they know who to ask.
action, PM me. > Slamm-0!
> Bull
The big change staying a secret seems to be all
about security at the new platform. A great way to keep
WHILE NO ONE rumors from getting out is to use personnel who fear
WAS LOOKING their employer as one would fear a dragon. Because
their employer, and the immediate security, is being
A lot of small things happen while people arent look-
provided by a dragonthe Sea Dragon to be exact.
ing, but it is a rare occurrence that something this large
Those mountains I mentioned have a lair we didnt
stays completely under the radar. The megacorps abil-
know about when the Clutch of Dragons datafile was put
ity to keep things bottled up is increasing, and that
together, and the Sea Dragon has quite a force there. If
should bother us all. While weve been busy paying at-
I were to believe all the materials Ive read she even has
tention to the Monads and their efforts out on Gagarin,
other leviathans in the region. Possibly the offspring
Saeder-Krupp has managed to anchor the asteroid they
from the eggs we were discussing. That is pure specu-
brought in for the space elevator. The public announce-
lation, but Im sure someone at JP would have made a
ment hasnt been made by Saeder-Krupp as theyre still
comment of a similar nature.
running tests, but they have had the space elevator up
This is going to quickly become a hotspot for jobs.
and running since August and not a peep about it has
First, to find out what S-K is sending up during their
been heard anywhere.
testing and whether it has something to do with the
Monads. Second, to try to get some early intel on the
> Finally we get him lying. Thats a load. Ive got eyes all
project for other megas that probably arent too happy
over the platform. Nothings happening. the platform got moved. Third, and probably with the
> Kane largest number of jobs, will be smaller corps looking for
intel and crazies attempting to sabotage the place. Care-
> Hes telling chip-truth. I just took a look, and the Earth has ful what work you take.
a new geosynchronous mini-moon. How did we miss The facility itself is already a small floating city with
this? far more below the surface than aboveand theres
> Icarus quite a bit above. The surface consists of thirty docking

38 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

ports for ships of various sizes, a dozen landing pads ter mark is all experimental labs or top-secret stuff. In
for VTOL craft, a trio of airstrips large enough to land truth, it might not even be down there yet. The schemat-
anything under semiballistic size, the four warehouse ic data I analyzed contained only plans. The surface fa-
stations at the corners for the four elevator pods, and cility is there, though, and the elevators are operational.
a central city consisting of half a dozen twenty-story
towers and a central thirty-story tower. The best feature CFD ON THE STREETS
Ive seen in the documents Ive read is that the entire
facility can submerge. Yes, the whole place can sink over On a truly street level, Id like to drop a few updates I
a hundred meters to protect itself from storms at sea. picked up during my extensive free time after getting
Below the surface is a massive aquacology that ex- riffed, post Storm Front. I spitefully found a way to get
tends down to almost three hundred meters. The facility my hands on a copy of the section of Storm Front I was
appears to be an upside-down, round-edged, stepped blocked from, as well as that Stolen Souls download.
pyramid down to about one hundred meters below the Reading the little bits and pieces that were dropped on
surface. At the peak of the pyramid are quartet of shafts several of the CFD affected folks seemed like a great
that lead down to pods that become smaller and smaller way to spend my time while I was trying to convince
as they go deeper. The plans I saw werent specific, pro- the first Riser that we could get along. It was an inter-
viding only a general layout, but they looked like they esting time back then, as it was very early in the days of
were modular and new pods could be added at various CFD. These groups have now been infected and active
depths. Im sure everything below the one hundred me- for longer than most shadowrunners careers. Theyve
had quite the run.

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 39


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

Ive kept an eye out for the remains of the Society of


the Phoenix Arisen, and much as one would expect from
a group of this name, they once again rose from the ash-
es. They slipped over to CalFree and set up in a small
ghost town in NorCal far enough away from everyone
else that no one really noticed. Its close enough to the
border of both the Tr and PCC for the Society to inter-
act and draw from all three populations. Their numbers
grew throughout 75 as more and more head cases, all
former Awakened, joined their ranks to be taught how to
harness the power of mana.
They had a wild celebration on New Years Day 2076
commemorating their latest rebirth and sacrificed all the
members of the group who had not been able to regain
their arcane potential. During the subsequent year, they
did another round of rebuilding, though their numbers
didnt grow as much thanks to the rumors about the
New Years Day celebration. Though their numbers didnt
grow exponentially, their income did. The group started
to spread its wings and has made a name for themselves
in transportation protection, smuggling, and most of all
talislegging. Their rather unique combination of abilities
makes them really good at covering all the bases.
What all this growth and money making has not done
is keep them off the radar. Other, more longstanding,
operations in the area were fine with them doing a little
talislegging and running the border with some goods
every once in awhile, but when they started branching
out into the territory of the local go-gangs, which some
old-timers call MCs (for motorcycle clubs), they found
more serious opposition. The Society is tough and full
of head cases, but so are the local gangs. It doesnt help
that their talislegging activities have recently come up
on the radar of the PCC and theyre starting to catch heat
from several sides. Though heat isnt really an issue for a
Phoenix. The 77 New Years party was a big success and
they didnt lose anyone, though several members left on
a smuggling run right before and havent returned.

> The members that left werent incapable of castingthe


failures had left long before New Years. The group that
didnt come back settled on the other side of the border
in the PCC. And then threw their own party. Theyre
expanding.
> Arete

Despite the occasional efforts of Kane and the Aztlan


Navy, the group now known as Torredos Rays is thriving
in the waters surrounding Corpus Christie, Aztlan. Torre-
do and his gang of smugglers have grown in the past
year as theyve enhanced their connections around the
Gulf Run. Corpus Christie in Aztlan, Mrida in Yucatn,
La Habana in the Caribbean League, and New Orleans
and Tampa in the CAS are the four main ports of the Gulf
Run and each now has its own personal Torredo. Same
build, same voice, same face, and some say, same mind.
We all know how that may have come about, but to oth-

40 >> DESPERATE TIMES <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

ers its a sign of the true Torredos power. No one knows package is the issues that arose between Cavalier Arms,
which Torredo is the original Torredo, and they all claim the Mojave Rattlers, NeoNET, and Nightengale Clinics.
to be the one. Laniers cerebral co-passenger is a deviously intelligent
The group is chased by the Navies of both the CAS sentience. After the weapons failure, most of the Rat-
and Aztlan, yet they gain protection and information by tlers went in for surgery, and over ninety percent of the
smuggling for Aztechnology, the CAS government, the team members had some kind of augmentation system
new government of Yucatn, and Cuba, along with any- installed after the catastrophe in 73. Those systems and
one else who can pay. They tend to avoid open conflict, the procedures that followed, combined with the resid-
but most of their smuggling ships are armed or escorted ual nanites that were left from the damaged weapons
by armed craft. Some even have small, armed jet skis to opened the Rattlers up to CFD. Any team members who
deploy as a defense with pilots who are willing to use didnt go head case after the surgeries were infected
the craft as torpedoes. They arent usually violent since during the practice and rehabilitation events.
they understand that draws undue attention, but they Since then the entire team has undergone several
also know that portraying strength keeps lesser gangs other implant surgeries and is now the most wired team
from trying to overtake their position. This new strong in Desert Wars and the top contender, by a large margin,
stance is a good change for everyone else involved for the title this year. Theyve racked up several records
since on the way up the method was assimilation. over the last few seasons and have set a new standard
Torredo may have made several versions of himself, for coordinated tactics. And we all know why. While
but he also attracted several other head case identities their sponsors dont know at an employee level, the
that have also spread their ranks. Along with the rumors higher-ups most certainly do by this point. Thats why
of the Torredos being able to communicate telepathical- contracts exist for almost every member of the team
ly, the same rumors abound about the other head case that led back to NeoNET virtually every time.
identities, many of whom choose the same name. Odds On the corporate side, the sponsors are making
are what the streets call telepathy is simply related to the way too much off these guys to back out, and Cavalier
fact that the head cases are walking commlinks. They field-tested almost a dozen new designs last season
can send and receive data to each other like any other alone. The Rattlers are making a big name for them-
commlink. I wonder if you all knew that. Maybe I should selves, and its all because theyre a bunch of head cases.
give an insider view of being a head case. Another time. Thats everything. I have a lot more data and a desire
Currently Torredo is dealing with pressure in New Or- to share, but Id like some assurances that only member-
leans and Mrida. In New Orleans they are fending off ship provides. I know I made enemies. We all do. What
both the local crime syndicates and law enforcement. I have to offer is worth having my snarky attitude back
Both groups are pushing back at the expanding criminal around. I know you missed me.
enterprise and trying to keep the smugglers in check as
they move large amounts of contraband into the CAS > Id offer him a shot. And I despise him.
while providing a route for metahuman trafficking of citi- > Balladeer
zens from all over North America. In Mrida theyre feel-
ing pressure from the Yucatn government as it tries to
make itself appear strong against criminals. Problem is
> Id second both those statements.

that same government funded and supported so many


> Lyran

smugglers during their rebellion that they are having


trouble turning their back on the people who helped > Damn. You guys read too fast. I didnt get down here to
them. Many of those smugglers have developed legit- make the first comment. It will be the last, though. We will
imate shipping contracts and businesses, but Torredo is not be voting on Risers return. This is not because Im
not among those. These legitimized smugglers are also some horrible dictator who hates him and doesnt want
targeting Torredo by providing information on the Rays him around. Its because this information was handed
comings and goings. The conflict has become violent re- over in a face-to-face with Rigger X, who Riser thought he
cently and will probably get worse before it gets better. could trust, and really should have known better. He sold
One last unsettled situation that Ill cover before I him out to the Smokers Club.
wrap this up and send it all off in a compact little data- > Glitch

>> DESPERATE TIMES << 41


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
H ARD TA RG E T S

...AND DESPERATE
MEASURES
Good afternoon, thank you for contacting Neutral Handler identification? I dont have one. Was I sup-
Ground. How can we be of service today? posed to get one from Sla ? His increasing confusion
The voice on the other end of the call was far more was thankfully interrupted before he could fumble out
chipper than he expected in a place like this, but then critical information.
again it wasnt everyday you made a phone call to a No names, sir. I think I understand the issue here. You
place like this, or talked to people like these. Or at least have not contacted us before and need to go through a
it wasnt for him. few steps first. I presume by your use of cancel you are
Id like to arrange for some work. His voice cracked seeking our termination services. Were going to need
as he spoke, but the person on the other end of the line to set you up with an account. First, what would you like
didnt miss a beat. your handler name to be?
Excellent sir. We offer a wide array of services. My The pleasant tone never wavered as it reviewed ter-
second question is which department would you like to mination services, as if it was the same as ordering a
speak with? soykaf at Soybucks. He hadnt thought of a cool name
His confusion at the question did not reduce his to give himself, and hed be damned if he was going to
awkwardness. What departments do you have? he get some generic number/letter code slapped on him.
asked. Enigma, he finally said with some confidence.
Im sorry. Neutral Ground is a primary host for two Excellent, though well need numbers. We always
separately operating coordination systems with polar do. You are our first Enigma if you would like the number
opposite operating parameters. What kind of service did one, though this means you have a vast array of options
you need today? to choose from. No more that ten numbers please.
He was less confused now. He could at least under- Again he wracked his brain but ended with some-
stand what the two polar opposite operating param- thing simple.
eters were based on what he was calling for, but he Zero-zero-one.
wasnt sure about the best way to put what he wanted Excellent, Enigma zero-zero-one. I have the comm
into words. Was this a secure line where he could simply you are calling from and a handler name. Next we will
be direct? Was there a code? Some lingo he was sup- need to set up the payment account.
posed to get from the contact that directed him here? Confusion rapidly faded, and the rest of the process
I need to cancel a contract. He tried to sound sly was remarkably smooth. After only twenty-five minutes,
but in truth felt like a fish gasping for breath on the deck he had set up everything he needed and lined up his
of a boat. first contract.
Oh, I see. I apologize, your comm number didnt Who knew having someone killed could be so
open your registration. What was your handler identifi- streamlined?
cation?

42 >> and Desperate Measures <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
IN THE Ive created a rather unique pair of hosts where reg-
istered members can go to evaluate and accept con-
CROSSHAIRS tracts for both sides of the assassination game. Access
to membership at The Hidden Blades was given to all
members of the major guilds, the heads of the crim-
POSTED BY: GLITCH
inal syndicates, several well-known prime contractors
Im not a proponent of killing, but I know in our line of
including Teachdaire, a number of non-corporate affili-
work it happens. Sometimes it happens as a result of a
ated dragons, and the System Admins of shadow VPNs
plan gone wrong, but its probably better when it hap-
around the world. Access to The Unwavering Shield is
pens as part of a plan gone right, and it only involves the
open to anyone willing to register an ID. Access to The
target a single bullet, spell, bomb, code, or what have
Hidden Blades is limited to those who deserve it. Im
you was intended for, rather than something more indis-
sure someone will use knowledge of the site to gain
criminate. Wetwork is part of the shadows. We shoot
leverage somewhere, so each request for access will
people in the face for money, as the saying goes.
come with some biometric or other security measure.
Though the wet in wetwork is often thought of as the
Were likely to change up security protocols frequently
blood we spill, Ive often thought of it as describing the
as well, and you can guarantee the IC here will be as
slippery slope that those who involve themselves in
black as a moonless sky.
these dark dealings must traverse. Hiring a contract kill-
Using these sites will be easy. Simply log on, access
er is just as unlawful as carrying out the contract. Both
available jobs, find matches based on the basic descrip-
sides need a measure of anonymity but also a measure
tions, and the known job information will become ac-
of trust. The people doing the hiring need to know they
cessible. The data is read-only so it cant be copied and
are going to get someone who will get the job done. The
transferred out to others. Not that someone cant just
people being hired need to know that whoever is choos-
give the word to anyone elseit happensbut sharing
ing the mark will pay. Thereve been systems for this
the data with the wrong people and getting caught re-
type of thing in place for millennia, some of which are
sults in the opening of a contract on the user, but no de-
still in place. The newest of these is a Matrix host main-
nial of access.
tained by Neutral. Along with granting us the needed
codes to direct our brightest killers there, I talked Neutral
into letting us have a little sneak peak of what data is > Thats because they use the access to find out where the
on there. As any good negotiator does, he countered user is and start adding that data to the file. Be wary.
with a desire to provide a little intro to his two hosts. > Thorn
I agreed. Heres the compiled infothe intro data from
Neutral followed by a decent selection of jobs they have The two sites have similar information to access
posted from both sides. After all that, I touched a couple including Contract Handler, Contract Mark/Principle,
of street-level folks to give us a look at how one goes Contract Timeline, Contract Limitations, Contract Val-
about these same activities on the streets. Read on and ue/Payrate, Open Form Data, and Current Acceptance/
comment away. Threat Count. The split information is different for the
two hosts, but an interesting quirk is that they link at a
certain level, and the value of the contract adjusts with
NEUTRAL GROUND the rating of the protection detail and the client can see
how many contractors have accepted the job. A little
POSTED BY: NEUTRAL balance to the scales.
Im done contracting out to Johnsons and getting them
killed. And then having the next Mr. Johnson want a > Neutral, can I get access to just the marks and the values
bigger cut or more cash to be the go-between. For that, for a little wagering site? We can connect and share

>> and Desperate Measures << 43


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

profits. Dont even need names, just codenames. We can vate contractor who goes by the name of Paratis. Paratis
make them clues to the identities to make the betting is a shadowrunner of some repute with a long history in
more interesting. protection. Spinrad is extensively cybered and has sys-
> /dev/grrl tems that could make him potentially lethal should the
need arise. He is not considered an active combatant
> It really is an addiction for you. and usually prefers to escape under protective cover
> Slamm-0! rather than engage in a drawn-out firefight.
As the owner of a AA-rated megacorporation, Spin-
Both hosts are broken down a little further by the rad has ample funds to offer in trade for his life and the
profile of the contract in order to avoid rookies getting charisma to convince anyone they will live to spend it.
themselves killed while trying to make a name for them- They will not. Be wary of this tactic and confirm all mem-
selves. We also dont want them messing it up for the true bers of your team are informed of it as well.
professionals. The Hidden Blades host doesnt have lim- This operation needs to be completed by the dead-
its on who can accept contracts unless requested by the line provided, preferably sooner, in order for other oper-
contracts provider. As the two hosts have a link between ations to have time to take advantage of the situation.
the number of hitters on the contract and the threat, there Potential bonus may be given if the operation is com-
is a minor effect, but since the HB host limits who has pleted early.
access, the ratings do not vary to the point where I feel
I need to worry about it. The Unwavering Shield has a > This is definitely tied to the possible moves going on
rating system called the Shield Rating for the contractors between Spinrad and Villiers to manipulate St. Louis into
and teams based on their previous successful jobs from becoming a free city and the next home of NeoNET. Could
the host, as well as a Street Rep score determined by vet- be locals looking to stop it or Villiers looking to clear out a
ted individuals. The Shield Rating filters the jobs available powerful rival after hes gotten what he needs.
to all individuals, so they cannot accept missions requir- > Mr. Bonds
ing ratings above their level. If several runners choose
to work together and link their log ons, they get a new, > Spinrad has made plenty of enemies. Lofwyr is certainly
combined Shield Rating to help them extend their reach not fond of the man. This could be about his dealings in
a little. The system has a smart algorithm that remembers Europe or Africa, and St. Louis just provides a nice local
when runners link up and whether they succeed or fail to- cover. It may not be free, but it is a booming border city.
gether, and it adjusts Shield Ratings accordingly. Frankly, > Red Anya
its a delicious system.
> As if Lofwyr would hire a job like this out.
THE HIDDEN BLADES > Sticks

HIGH PROFILE Contract Handler: Maester444, DeeCee, UCAS


Contract Handler: AdSec33, St. Louis, CAS Contract Mark: Samantha Payne
Contract Mark: Johnny Spinrad Contract Timeline: Ends 31/12/2078
Contract Timeline: Ends 31/10/2078 Contract Limitations: Visual confirmation required;
Contract Limitations: Minimal collateral personnel tissue sample required
damage; no explosives; positive ID required Contract Value:
Contract Value: Open Form Data: Former UCAS House Majority
Open Form Data: Head of Spinrad Incorporated; Leader and Representative from South Dakota; currently
travels frequently; affiliations with several other corpo- resides in Mound City, SD, UCAS; maintains affiliations
rate executives; employs contract security through Min- with several current and former UCAS, CAS, and NAN
uteman Security; security director is codenamed Paratis politicians; benefits from a two-person Secret Service
Current Acceptance Count: 2 detail along with a personal bodyguard, Aaron Grey
Accept Contract: Y/N Current Acceptance Count: 4
Information: Thank you for taking this contract. Accept Contract: Y/N
While the difficulty is high, the offer is lucrative in terms Information: This contract is not a simple political
of nuyen, respect, and the connections the successful assassination. Samantha Payne is a known member of
party will gain when the operation is complete. Please the infamous Black Lodge who, though no longer a
be advised that we have little information to provide member of the UCAS Congress, is working political and
about the targets specific location, as he travels fre- personal connections across North America to unknown
quently. His security is top notch in every location, and ends. She is a lynchpin for current Lodge activities.
he travels with his own personal team of protection spe- She is still allotted a small security detail from the
cialists from Minuteman Security who answer to a pri- UCAS Secret Service and maintains a personal body-

44 >> and Desperate Measures <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

guard, Aaron Grey, who is also a suspected member of part of the process of getting demoted in the Lodge. Shes
the Black Lodge. She is Awakened and a high enough now part of the Lodge of the Broken Plains. They pull
grade initiate to hide her nature from government strings all over central North America, even between the
probes. Expect additional arcane resources to be active various nations.
in her defense. > Arete
Her home is in South Dakota, outside Mound City.
The grounds are patrolled day and night by both spirits UPPER ECHELON
and paracritters, and the home is warded. The insurance
Contract Handler: TsimSon, Spokane, Salish-Shidhe
reports for the home list Knight Errant as on-call secu-
Council
rity along with an active PanicButton account as well as
Contract Mark: Atian Parker
DocWagon Platinum contracts for both Payne and Grey.
Contract Timeline: 14/04/2075 Open
End date on the contract is the yearly expiration for
Contract Limitations: Visual confirmation required;
the current rate and parameters. New terms have been
post-mortem immolation required
updated annually. Miss Payne has now been in the Contract Value:
crosshairs for over three full years. Take that into consid- Open Form Data: Member of the Tsimshian Council;
eration when deciding if you are right for this contract. resides in Kitimat, Tsimshian Protectorate, SSC; affiliated
with Tsimshian Council, member of the New Progressive
> Payne was a member of the Lodge of the All-Seeing Eye in Party, Tlingit tribe; personal security provided by Eagle
DeeCee but got demoted. She dropped out of politics and Security
didnt go up for re-election back in 74, claiming personal Current Acceptance Count: 3
issues, but she hasnt had any health troubles since. All Accept Contract: Y/N

>> and Desperate Measures << 45


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

Information: Target is a known head case, infected ward their own domiciles and summon additional spirits
with the CFD virus during treatments for cancer caused as support and backup.
by MCT pollution. Due to this condition, expectation is Darius frequents many clubs within nearby Manhat-
termination with visual verification and then destruction tan as well as the cities he visits for business. His security
of the body to avoid spread. Payment will be made in detail for these excursions varies but has been increased
two parts. The first payment will be transferred upon of late due to failed attempts on his life. Security is of-
receipt of visual confirmation, the second payment will ten provided by discreet contract security for a single
come one month later after secondary confirmations night out.
have been made. Contract provision is due to previous Darius is not Awakened, a fact that has many thinking
failures that underestimated the resiliency of the head he does not belong in any position of power within Ma-
case intelligence within Parker. nadyne. He has a solid understanding of magical theory
Target primarily resides in his three-story home near and uses manatech devices frequently and creatively.
the outskirts of Kitimat. The log cabin possesses top-of-
the-line security features and is linked directly to Eagle > Theyre serious about no Manadyne property, and that
Security. Standard onsite security is provided by a pair includes employees. Minimal non-lethal force only. Even
of augmented Rottweilers. Augmented Rottweilers may an accidental kill will get your contract revoked. Obviously
carry the CFD virus; immolation upon neutralization is
the Handler is with Manadyne and doesnt want to hurt the
recommended.
bottom line while trying to remove a potential problem.
Parker is known to associate with other individuals
infected with the CFD virus. Confirmation of head case > Thorn
activity could create an opportunity for additional com-
pensation. > Sounds like an exploitable weakness for anyone running
security. Best to surround him with a few Manadyne
> Parker is only one of a whole list of targets from the sycophants to slide the odds in your favor.
Tsimshian Council. Some of them were not re-elected in > Sticks
the 2075 election cycle but are still on the target list thanks
to the new Monad issue. The contracts are likely being put Contract Handler: Connection116, Public Grid
out by other members of the TP government who dont Contract Mark: Valaria Gutribrach
want their secrets joining the cause. Contract Timeline: 01/01/2077 Open
Contract Limitations: Positive ID required, meaning
> Mika
close visual confirmation or tissue sample
Contract Handler: GoldenSun6, Seattle Metroplex, Contract Value:
UCAS Open Form Data: CFO Maersk Logistics; residence
Contract Mark: Darius Grant in Stockholm, Scandinavian Union; inter/intra AA
Contract Timeline: 12/07/2076 Open megacorporate affiliations; no specified personal security
Contract Limitations: Positive ID required; minimal Current Acceptance Count: 4
collateral damage; zero damage to Manadyne property Accept Contract: Y/N
Contract Value: Information: Thank you for accepting this contract.
Open Form Data: Son of missing Manadyne CEO The target, Valaria Gutribach, is currently suspected of
Malcolm Grant, resides in Staten Island, NY, UCAS; per- conspiring to undermine the stability of the Scandina-
sonal security provided by Manadyne vian Union. Her efforts are of equal interest to the con-
Current Acceptance Count: 8 tracting party, and additional compensation could be
Accept Contract: Y/N earned through useful surveillance data (associates, in-
Information: As the son of Malcolm Grant, former teractions, abnormal expenditures, etc.).
CEO and major shareholder in Manadyne, Darius now Gutribachs lack of personal security may make
possesses substantial power within the megacorpora- this contract appear easy, but her daily routine never
tionpower that does not belong in the hands of a nine- takes her far from Maersk onsite security personnel.
teen-year-old pampered corporate brat. When it does, she travels via armored limousine with a
His primary residence is a penthouse condominium Personal Security Specialist from Maersk as the driver,
in the Wolfe Pond Complex in Staten Island. The build- whose training focuses on evasion over engagement.
ing is wholly owned by Manadyne and onsite security, Her home is within a Maersk-owned complex near
provided by Knight Errant, has full extraterritorial priv- the docks in Stockholm. Facility security is maintained
ileges. The physical security in the building is a mix of by Maersk, and she spends ninety percent of her
plainclothes and uniforms with reinforcements on call time within the complex. Time outside the complex
from the local KE precinct. Matrix and astral security for is spent at meetings with other corporate officers,
the building are also provided by Knight Errant, but astral both within Maersk divisions and from outside the
security is augmented by Manadyne personnel who can megacorporation.

46 >> and Desperate Measures <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

This contract has no use of force limitations. Collat- quantity of stock and a seat on their Board of Directors.
eral personnel and property damage will not decrease Presbiteros home is a sprawling complex with addition-
the value of the contract, though excessive use of force al wings and facilities set up to host visiting VIPs. The
or a terror act level of violence could bring unwanted location is often in use even when the governor is not
attention. As with all contracts taken through this host, present.
connections will be denied. Completion of the contract that is public and brutal
will be considered for a bonus based on the media cov-
> Definitely snag any connections this one makes. If anyone erage of the investigation.
on JP gets some recon info, hit me with a PM. I may
outbid the contractor. > Way to CYA! Pay them extra to lay out a nice breadcrumb
> Icarus trail for the media. This Daley guys a thinker. And brutal!
He wants this hit done in the true Chicago way. Wonder
> Building your files on the Syndexioi, Icarus. Thats what what Presbitero did to piss him off? No matter. Just wanted
you might be stepping into. It has little to do with the to mention SecureTech and their employees and owners.
Scand U, and everything to do with destabilizing the CC. Every one of them is a former (or current) runner. Their
Pay seems light, but thats all part of the front that youre board meetings are a Johnsons wet dream. Its like Assets
dealing with a Maersk exec fooling around with some Inc., only Chicago natives. Maxwell Casilov, once known
second-rate Euronation. as Stubby on the street, was a bodyguard in the 50s, who
> Fianchetto had a ten-year shadow career that he poured into a solid
SIN and SecureTech. Gabriel Charm was a snake shaman
Contract Handler: Daley; OHare Subsprawl, Chica- physad known as Talus Nex in the 50s as well. He ran
go, IL, UCAS the same course as Casilov, but when the comet came
Contract Mark: Governor Anthony Presbitero by he SURGEd and slipped back into the shadows for a
Contract Timeline: 01/01/2076; Open few more years. He recruited a lot of the security talent
Contract Limitations: Positive ID required; collateral the company uses for contracts now. Scott Wolf is either
damage acceptable; public action preferred an exceptionally powerful shaman or a free spirit. Street
Contract Value: legend has him as the former turned into the latter, but
Open Form Data: Governor of Illinois; offices in true or not hes as serious a force in the boardroom as he
Springfield, IL, UCAS, and Southside Subsprawl, Chica- was on the streets. The other four members of the board
go, IL, UCAS; residences in Southside Subsprawl, Chica-
are just as dangerous. Governor Pres is well-covered.
go, IL, UCAS and New Orleans, LA, CAS; frequent use of
Hilton Hotel facilities in Chicago, IL, UCAS, Springfield,
> Bull

IL, UCAS, St. Louis, CAS, and DeeCee, UCAS; known to


affiliate with shadowrunners through various Mr. John-
MIDDLE MANAGEMENT
sons; has close ties to Chicago based Osiris, Howling Contract Handler: StarKiller911, AzGrid
Wind, and Crone; contract security provided by Lone Contract Mark: Aufheben
Star Security Services at locations, personal security Contract Timeline: Ends 01/01/2078
handled by SecureTech, Inc. Contract Limitations: Visual confirmation required;
Current Acceptance Count: 6 biometric ID required
Accept Contract: Y/N Contract Value:
Information: Public information on the target is Open Form Data: Current leader of Bright Star; re-
abundant. Target is highly active in a wide variety of po- sides near Bogot; Bright Star affiliations; no private se-
litical and corporate engagements requiring frequent curity contracts
travel and allowing for minimal time at his registered Current Acceptance Count: 3
address in the Southside subsprawl of Chicago. His elec- Accept Contract: Y/N
tion on the platform of Rebuilding Chicago for Chicago- Information: The target is currently acting as the
ans has been his primary focus, but hes been down in head of Bright Star, a terrorist organization seeking
St. Louis and New Orleans talking to a lot of corporate to undermine the efforts at stabilization within Bo-
and CAS government officials over the past year. gota. As a well-known shadowrunner and veteran of
Targets home is a converted warehouse and former the Az-Am war the target has extensive connections
chemical facility, located at the corner of 129th and Pu- around the world as well as in and around Bogot.
laski. Presbitero had the entire site cleaned and convert- Target has no standard contract security but is often
ed as a green cleanup project for a previous campaign. in the company of other terrorists with a wide variety
The site has excellent security and is located directly of skill sets.
across the street from the SecureTech, Inc. training facili- Target is highly mobile and takes up residence with
ty, a security firm for which Presbitero holds a significant fellow members or sympathizers of Bright Star. This

>> and Desperate Measures << 47


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

means that collateral damage to these facilities or per- The target is a skilled rigger. He is rarely without ex-
sons is of no concern to the contractor. Confirmation on tensive drone surveillance of his immediate vicinity, and
multiple open and accepted contracts will be paid in full. he performs advanced reconnaissance for locations he
plans to visit. This is often the best way to identify where
> Nice to see one of our own make this list. he will be, as he does not have any kind of formal sched-
> Slamm-0! ule and moves the broadcast location for the Light of
Truth frequently.
> Nice to know Im wanted. If someone isnt gunning Target security will not be provided by a contract or
for me, then I havent done enough agitating. I know corporate security provider in the region. Local terror-
theyve got 75K for my head down here. I wonder ist forces are known to provide security for meetings
if is more than that. This is interesting to see and transportation of the target. His personal security
that someone has gone so far as to open the job up is provided by his bodyguard, known on the streets as
Escuda de las Creencia, or Escuda for short. He is an ex-
to pros, but this is not the kind of place for assassins.
perienced combatant, having seen action in the recent
Merc groups or runner teams have a better chance. Too
conflict as well as being a renowned pit fighter. Based on
many things down here will kill you if you dont have
his level of skill but lack of financial support, it is suspect-
someone to watch your six.
ed that Escuda is an adept. Additional close security will
> Aufheben
likely include a team of security operatives covering all
three primary aspects of securityPhysical, Astral, and
> Ive figured out the ratings. Each icon is an additional Matrixespecially while broadcasting.
zero beyond the 100s place. = thousands, = tens The Light of Truth is also supported by the local Cath-
of thousands, = hundreds of thousands, etc. Not a olic Church and may be using former church holdings
perfect science, but it gives a range. The payoff for you is as operating bases, especially those that are in poorer
at least 100K, but could be 999K. I may be new, but Ive neighborhoods or in dilapidated condition after being
heard youll make people earn their money. cleared of insurgent elements.
> Balladeer
> Escuda is a member of the Vigilant Iron Schooling House,
> Smart defensive or even intel operations can use this so hes totally an adept. He set up a few schools (they call
sites Acceptance Count as a way to tell when a meeting them arenas) around Bogot, taking in street kids whether
at a site has been compromised. If the numbers tick up they got Talent or not. The arenas train them all, and
on several targets all currently meeting at the same spot, Escuda takes the ones with the Talent for extra work. With
your blown and someone has your number. Escuda on board, the Light of Truth has plenty of adept
> Stone muscle to rain down on foes when theyre in trouble.
> Matt Wrath
Contract Handler: SolSearcher777, New Orleans,
LA, CAS > With what the Azzies did to the churchs assets, Im not
Contract Mark: Jorge Cordejea, La Productor, Luz surprised theyre helping the LoT. There are a lot of places
Veras to hide work from all over Bogot that the Catholics can
Contract Timeline: 15/04/2076 Open help with.Theyre also pretty handy for getting people and
Contract Limitations: Positive ID required; visual
items in and out of town.
confirmation required; tissue sample required; public
discovery required
> Traveler Jones
Contract Value:
Open Form Data: Confirmed terrorist; rumored resi- > Even if they take down La Productor, a new one will take
dence in Zona Sur, Bogot; known affiliate of Bright Star his place. Its a lot of money for one man.
and The Light of Truth Matrix broadcast; personal body- > Aufheben
guard referred to as Escuda de las Creencia
Current Acceptance Count: 2 > Its going to be about the message. They want the body
Accept Contract: Y/N left in public or the job done there. They want people to
Information: Cordejea is the leader and organizer of know what happens to those who go against the will of
a guerrilla Matrix broadcast known as the Light of Truth. Aztechnology/Aztlan.
The broadcast and those behind it seek to undermine the > Balladeer
efforts Aztechnology has put into the infrastructure and
rebuilding of Bogot after the recent conflicts. The exact Contract Handler: MaxPrime9, AlohaNet (Hawaii grid)
location of his residence in Bogot is unknown, but local Contract Mark: Hans Brackhaus, Gerhard von
intelligence assets can be arranged with contract accep- Strecht, Kenneth Kascien
tance and verification of identification. Contract Timeline: 07/07/2076 Open

48 >> and Desperate Measures <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

Contract Limitations: Visual confirmation required; associated with JackPoint VPN, Monad movement; no
positive ID required; incendiary/explosive methods pre- confirmed contract security
ferred; target destruction required Current Acceptance Count: 1 (Locked)
Contract Value: Accept Contract: Y/N
Open Form Data: Known Saeder-Krupp affiliations; Information: Thank you for accepting this Certified
residing in Hawaii; abundant underworld affiliations; Contract. The contract will remain locked from other users
personal security varies until you have completed your accepted assignment, are
Current Acceptance Count: 12 rendered incapable of completing your assignment, or fail
Accept Contract: Y/N to complete the assignment within the requested window
Information: Welcome to what will be a very lu- of time, at which point a subcontract will be set out for you.
crative contract. The target(s) for this contract are cor- Additional contract stipulations include a bonus for any
porate citizens of Saeder-Krupp who have become and/or all data located on the person, in the commlink/
non-viable assets for the company in the nation of dataterm, or in a verified storage node of the target and a
Hawaii due to CFD infection. This is a purge operation zero-witness policy. This bonus will be based on the quality
with multiple available targets and a wide variety of po- and quantity of the data upon delivery. The zero-witness
tential obstructions. policy requires there be no witnesses to the death event
The name Hans Brackhaus is a common replacement or the deceased post termination. It is the responsibility of
for Mr. Johnson in the shadows, and while Saeder-Krupp the contractor to fulfill this portion of the contract and neu-
values the services provided by those who utilize that tralize any witnesses, be they living or electronic.
moniker, the situation in Hawaii is highly volatile and The target is an experienced street operative with ex-
risks the reputation of the megacorporation in the Ha- tensive connections among the members of the well-re-
waiian shadows and within the nation itself. spected JackPoint VPN. She has been consistently on the
Each individual is required to be positively identified move for several years, rarely staying in any single location
and cross-referenced with the local contact prior to the for more than a few days. Her connections have provid-
execution of any plan for termination. Terminations will ed a vast variety of living arrangements from fake SINs for
require visual confirmation followed by immediate de- hotel/motel rental to hacking corporate residences while
struction of the target body to prevent further spread executives are out of town. Security, when needed, is pro-
of the CFD virus. With the recent events concerning the vided by shadowrunners, vetted through her extensive
so-called Monads, those infected with CFD may have contacts. While these individuals may be trusted not to
additional resources or aid at their disposal. sell her location to corporate information brokers, they are
rarely capable of withstanding extensive questioning and
> A chummer was talking trash about S-K over a few drinks can be used as a source of information for her next move.
and mentioned some work in Hawaii. He talked about the Update: With the recent events involving the
Johnson refusing several positive IDs and the massive Monads, Butch has made contact and gained another
loss of nuyen he and the team had to eat because of the avenue of assistance. Analysis of interactions shows an
wishy-washy Johnson. Maybe the same gig, maybe not,
increase in her level of acceptable risk when dealing
with the Monads she has had contact with.
but its a tip for running in Hawaii either way.
> Bull
> Another of ours, though this is not surprising at all. Butch
has been on the megacorporate drek list since she first
> In case youre young and clueless, this work screams SK
starting digging into CFD. The paydata bonus is a nice
Prime. Which again, if you are young and clueless, means
touch and not at all surprising, but whats up with the no
you are only about two steps, if that, removed from
witnesses? Thats a little dark.
working for a dragon. Beware.
> Thorn
> Netcat

Contract Handler: Ender4, Emerald City (Seattle grid) > Common corporate tactic.That way whether shes dead or
disappeared, no one knows.
Contract Mark: Butch
Contract Timeline: 01/05/2076 Open > Thorn
Contract Limitations: Positive ID required; special
circumstances; Certified Contract (acceptance limit, > I discovered the name of the one contractor. PM me if you
time limit) are interested in helping drop that Acceptance Count.
Contract Value: > Slamm-0!
Open Form Data: Known shadowrunner and street
doc; primary residence Seattle, UCAS; verified sightings: > Nice to see Im a valuable target. Thanks for watching out
Boston, UCAS, Atlanta, CAS, London, UK, Free City of for me everyone. Back to the highly mobile life.
Lagos, Chicago, UCAS, Detroit, UCAS, St. Louis, CAS; > Butch

>> and Desperate Measures << 49


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

Contract Handler: PSmith222, Atlanta, GA, CAS > Acceptance count of 27. Shes got a lot of crosshairs on her
Contract Mark: Ingrid Belltinarius back. What gives?
Contract Timeline: 13-12-2074 Open > Slamm-0!
Contract Limitations: Tissue sample required; mini-
mal collateral damage; minimal public exposure > I asked nicely, and Neutral said the count only goes down
Contract Value: if the contractor actively ends the contract. This contract
Open Form Data: Advanced Hermetics Instructor at has had a lot of contractors never check back in, so the
Texas A&M; residence in Burton, TX, CAS; membership count stays high. He leaves it there as a warning, but
in Ordo Maximus; Lone Star Private security contract
people keep going for it.
Current Acceptance Count: 27
Accept Contract: Y/N
> Glitch
Information: Target is a skilled hermetic magician
with advanced degrees across the fields of thaumaturgy. > Is she a vampire?
Her course listings include no undergraduate courses, > Hard Exit
and she is the doctoral advisor for twenty-four research
projects at Texas A&M, most focusing on the integration > All signs point to no. But she is connected to the Ordo and
of the arcane and the electronic. Unlike many of her col- studies magic and tech, so she probably has something to
leagues, Belltinarius is actively involved in the lab work do with their cybermantic endeavors.
of her students. She is a confirmed member of the Ordo > Hannibelle
Maximus arcane society with a solid reputation within
the organization leading to extensive connections in a Contract Handler: Ramses404, Miami, Carib League
number of other fields and areas as well as several influ- Contract Mark: Daryl Gates, a.k.a. Hal Neinkay, Jona-
ential friends and acquaintances. thon St. Cinq, Adam Friday, Anthony Jarvis
Security at the school is provided by a private con- Contract Timeline: 03/02/2077 Open
tract with Lone Star. The private police company often Contract Limitations: Biometric ID required; visual con-
recruits from the school and thus considers security, firmation required; medical death confirmation required
and their image here, a high priority. Belltinarius has a Contract Value:
personal protection contract with Lone Star as well that Open Form Data: Confirmed Monad; operates
provides her with round-the-clock monitoring, threat in- across North America; affiliations within Project Exodus,
vestigation services, and personal security during pub- Society of the Phoenix Arisen, and Forgotten Youth; no
lic events, the first two weeks of each semester, exam contract security, personal security varies
week, spring and winter breaks, and Wiccan holidays. Current Acceptance Count: 6
She may also receive additional security through the Accept Contract: Y/N
contract at a discounted rate. Information: Target is a known Monad working to
Her home in Burton is located on a peninsula along eliminate obstacles to Project Exodus within corporate
the southern shore of Somerville Lake and is also under and national hierarchies. Target may be more than one
a private contract with Lone Star. The home is vast and individual utilizing similar identities or proxies to per-
contains several unique features. It has three floors total- form mundane meetings or tasks. Full biometric scans
ing over 3,000 square meters of floor space not count- are provided for the target that include all standard bio-
ing the rooftop deck or the private cave, and it sits on metric data plus physical measures such as stride length,
half a square kilometer of land. Each floor of the home gait angle, forearm length, and digit angles. This data will
has a deck facing the water and a wraparound porch. confirm only for the actual target. Unconfirmed targets
Stairs connect all of the decks and the lowest deck to should not be terminated but can be scanned, and their
a walkway down to the two private docks and three data will earn a two percent bonus for each scanned tar-
boathouses. The private cave is accessed from inside get, up to ten percent.
the home via a spiral stairwell, and externally via a small The target moves around the continent frequently
snaking waterway. The main cavern is about 200 square and travels with a stable security detail composed of six
meters, half water, and supposedly leads to several oth- former Evo Marines. These individuals are also Monads.
er underground rooms. Land transport appears most common, though flights
She usually travels via personal helicopter to and have been used when time is short. During flights the
from the school, though she also owns several ground target usually has two of his security detail while the re-
and water craft. Her private helicopter is a decommis- maining four follow with the ground transport. The target
sioned Lone Star Wasp that she flies personally. While stays in quality hotels with solid security whenever pos-
she may not have personal security around at all times, sible. When such venues are not an option, the target al-
she is a hermetic mage and rarely is without the services lows his security team to select their accommodations.
of several spirits. The target has some form of extended-living situation in

50 >> and Desperate Measures <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

central North America. The specific location is unknown, AVERAGE MARKS


but its most likely location is somewhere southeast of
Contract Handler: Alistare07, Cheyenne, Sioux Nation
the Front Range Free Zone where the UCAS, CAS, Sioux
Contract Mark: Moyhan Dance-with-Elk
Nation, and PCC all share borders, though which nation
Contract Timeline: 24/10/2077 Open
holds it is unknown.
Contract Limitations: Visual confirmation required;
Land transport consists of a trio of Rover Model 2072
maximum public exposure; suspicion deferral required
vans and a Ford-Canada Buffalo RV. The RV rarely enters
Contract Value:
into most major metroplexes and is often left behind by
Open Form Data: Director of Land Management and
the team when they enter dense urban areas. This could
Property Development, Small Business Administration
very well be the extended living situation, but that would
(PCC); resides in Santa Fe, PCC; affiliated with PCC gov-
raise the question of why they return to the same region
ernment in Santa Fe; Security contract provided by Santa
between meetings. The three Rovers are each identical
Fes City Police Force
from the outside, but internally two have been heavily
Current Acceptance Count: 8
modified. The standard Rover is their transport vehicle Accept Contract: Y/N
with all the standard high-end amenities and probably a Information: Dance-with-Elk is a mid-level execu-
few additional security features. The two modified vans tive for the PCC Small Business Administration in Santa
are a command and communications vehicle, and their Fe. He lives in a small government-owned complex on
mobile armory and drone-deployment vehicle. the forested slopes of the Sangre de Christo mountains
east of downtown Santa Fe. He and several other gov-
> Nice toys! I wonder whos funding these guys? Are those ernment employees travel into the city together via an
Evo Marines really former Marines, or are they just on armored transport bus when they work from their of-
loan? fices. Most of the time he works from home, accessing
> Slamm-0! the government host via the citys grid. The government
living complex consists of eighteen homes arranged on
> This guy is probably one of many with a price on their four parallel switchback streets, with each home partially
head for trying to help the head cases. Though based on built into the mountainside. The streets have a decreas-
the price tag on this guy, hes probably up near the top of ing number of houses the higher up the mountainside
the organized effort. you drive. There are eight homes on lowest lane, five
> Clockwork homes on the second lane, three on the third, and only
two on the top road. Moyhan lives on the third lane.
Security at the complex is provided by a private sub-
> Speaking of Monads and head cases and CFD sufferers,
station of the Sante Fe Metro police force. They man a
whats the difference? Monads are the ones from Gagarin
guardhouse at the base of the road, occasionally patrol
first and foremost, but are all the head cases now
the road, and are responsible for responding to resident
Monads? What about the really crazy ones? Do they get
calls. The substation response time is under two min-
to be Monads or will they be the head cases now? And utes, but the backup response times are significantly
do the Monads include the talking dogs and the other longer due to the remote nature of the facility.
animal head cases, or just the metahumans. This would
all be so much easier if the world would just stop being > Dance-with-Elk is a straight shooter. Hes probably in the
such corporate slaves and open their eyes instead of their sights of a local corp or organization that wasnt able to
mouths. buy him. Hes also probably completely oblivious to this
> Chainmaker fact, as hes one of the millions who think they live in
some perfect corporate state.
> Any being that has been influenced or modified, or both, > Mika
by an AI via the CFD virus can be considered a Monad
(except the Boston nutcases). All of the other names, > He may be ignorant of the threat, but hes not exactly
labels, nicknames, and insults that have been placed on an easy target. The Matrix security around him when he
them should be replaced with the racial term Monad. This hops over to work is tight and the security on the run
is what they would like, and its the legacy they want left between the complex and the city offices is solid. The
behind so that those who choose to stay have an identity, housing complex may seem easy with slow response
not an insulting nickname. times, but the on-site guards are top-tier and trained to
> Plan 9 take advantage of the terrain and the fleet of drones they
have in the storage garages they have stationed along the
> They are thieves who stole bodies and lives. I dont care edge of the roadway. This place was originally made for
much about looking out for their feelings. more than government pencil pushers, Im sure of it.
> Haze > Stone

>> and Desperate Measures << 51


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

Contract Handler: NETStar1, St. Louis, CAS or Neo- Contract Handler: Johnson187, Sacramento, CFS
NETwork Contract Mark: Tenahsia Coovair, a.k.a. TeeCoo
Contract Mark: Tirenial Latherenailen, a.k.a. Archon Contract Timeline: Ends 01/01/2078
or Arc Contract Limitations: Positive ID required; visual
Contract Timeline: 14/06/2077 Open confirmation required; specialized payment stipulations
Contract Limitations: Minimal collateral damage; Contract Value:
visual confirmation required Open Form Data: Sim actress; resides in Sacramento,
Contract Value: CFS; no criminal affiliations; no contract security
Open Form Data: CAS citizen; resides in St. Louis, Current Acceptance Count: 17
CAS; affiliations with Ancients criminal organization; Accept Contract: Y/N
contract security provided by Minuteman Security Information: Target is well-known simstarlet Tenah-
Current Acceptance Count: 5 sia Coovair. Last seen exiting her residence at 707 3rd
Accept Contract: Y/N Street in Sacramento, California Free State, on July 5th, in
Information: The target is a NeoNET citizen who has the company of a well-dressed male ork, who witness-
separated himself from the standard corporate lifestyle. es heard her refer to as Truck. She is believed to be in
He engages in illegal activities and oh, frag this. Sorry the Sacramento region but may have gone east or south
Mr. Neutral, Im telling it like it is. If the contractors fig- toward the Pueblo Corporate Council border near Los
ure out who I am, oh well. This punk is a ganger in the Angeles or Reno.
Ancients who took advantage of my daughter. He used The target is likely in the presence of shadowrun-
that bulldrek elven charm and bad boy ganger image to ners and maintaining a low profile. While positive ID
lure her away from the safety of the corporate life. and a visual confirmation are required, an unaltered
His residence of record is the Cass Avenue apartment video feed of a bullet passing through her head would
complex, a NeoNET corporate housing facility, but he nev- suffice over a closer inspection if this is not possible due
er stays there. Thats why I listed Minuteman as the secu- to security concerns. Coovair is the only paid target. Ad-
rity. His security is going to be a bunch of other wannabe ditional killing, while acceptable, will not earn addition-
bad boy dandy-eaters looking for more little corporate al payment. Apprehension or collection of bounties on
girls to prey on. The Ancients around here are a bunch of wanted targets is acceptable as long as the primary task
little upstart corp kids who somehow keep from getting is completed.
their hoops kicked by the real gang, but they manage to Upon completion, payment will be made in person
play off their seriously dangerous reputation. with transfer of confirmation due at time of payment.
Ill add in a little extra if you bring me his ears and
nuts so I can make a nice necklace out of them! > ShadowrunnersI love being referred to in quotes.
Not that I actually have TeeCoo with me, but I do consider
> This guy is crazy! And he doesnt know squat about the myself part of the (apparently unfamiliar) profession.
streets of St. Louis. The Ancients in the area are serious I think Ill put it in quotes from now on. Just goes to
news, not a bunch of corp kids. They expanded out here show that, whoever Johnson187 is, hes not a real Mr.
after a cross-country run forced them to use the St. Louis Johnson, or he wouldnt have referred to us like that.
border crossing and they saw the potential. Archon is This means youll be working for a corp geek with no real
also not some street thug. Hes a lieutenant and a serious street experience. Have fun with this contract. Watch out
spellcaster. The streets have him formally trained at for cops at the payoff.
MIT&T before getting on the wrong side of the Bane- > Stone
Sidhe.
> Bull LOW PROFILE
Contract Handler: MountainDagger; Denver, Front
> This guys daughter is also still with Arc. Hes been seeing
Range Free Zone; Sky City grid
the same girl for almost a year and catching drek for it the
Contract Mark: David Nelson
entire time because shes human.
Contract Timeline: 03/02/2077 Open
> Balladeer Contract Limitations: None
Contract Value:
> Strange. The girl in question is Cami Arress. Shes Open Form Data: CAS citizen; resides in Denver,
former NeoNET, but according to the local screamsheets FRFZ; no known affiliations; no contract/private security
her father died in a security breach at the beginning of Current Acceptance Count: 2
June. She got a choice to sign a contract as a wagemage Accept Contract: Y/N
or find employment elsewhere. Guess we know which Information: The target is a former Catholic priest
way she went. currently living on the streets as a vagrant and violent
> /dev/grrl public nuisance. His actions grow more and more violent

52 >> and Desperate Measures <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

by the day, while local police turn a blind eye due to his
former profession. The target has assaulted local prosti-
> MountainDagger is the Matrix handle for a member of Los
Pumas de la Montaa Sombra, an Aztlaner gang that is
tutes and legal substance vendors in an attempt to puri-
growing in the neighborhood. He could be their message
fy the community where he once gave his sermons.
to the locals or even to the ZDF that this is their turf.
The target will have no security and can be found
stumbling along Logan Street searching for his next vic- > Netcat
tim. While no limitations are being placed on this con-
tract, a bonus is offered should the target be terminated > Lets hope its a message to the ZDF, and they eventually
feed these sadists to Ghostwalker.
and left crucified for all to see so they may rejoice in his
well-deserved punishment. > Aufheben

Contract Handler: Capo014, Atlanta, GA, CAS


Contract Mark: Benjamin Ventrigulia
> Father David Nelson is a Catholic priest in a part of town
Contract Timeline: 18/07/2077 Open
not friendly to Catholic priests. He operated from what was
Contract Limitations: Positive ID required; visual
left of Mother of God on Logan, an Azzie neighborhood
confirmation required
after the split. Hes now a street preacher, at best, and a Contract Value:
muttering, apocalypse-spewing drunk most of the time. Open Form Data: Branch Manager, Atlanta Interna-
Im not exactly sure why someone would want to use tional Bank; resides in AIB Tower, Downtown Atlanta,
him for such a gruesome statement. Sounds a lot more GA, CAS; Ares corporate affiliations; contract security
personal than the info above lets on. provided by Knight Errant
> Pistons Current Acceptance Count: 2

>> and Desperate Measures << 53


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

Accept Contract: Y/N er is cool. She lives in a NeoNET facility when shes not
Information: Target is a CAS citizen working for At- shacked up in his place. The big house he lives in has a
lanta International Bank as the manager of their primary lot of parties because its such a large space. Theres a
branch, located in their HQ building in downtown At- pool in the back and a little pool shack. The place has
lanta. His home is located inside the same building as three floors plus a basement and looks like a castle, kind
his bank branch, the AIB Tower. The Tower uses Knight of. Hes probably stealing power from the city.
Errant as their private security force, and it contains of- He gets quite a few gangers hanging out at his
fices, residences, and attractions to keep its inhabitants place, and they call it a neutral spot, but fights are pret-
inside. It isnt an arcology, so its not completely self-suf- ty common. The back yard is big, too, and it has a big
ficient, but its close. ring where he runs fights sometimes. The gangers settle
The target has a family. While they are not targets, scores there.
they can be used as leverage to draw the target to a bet-
ter location. The wife leaves the building at least once a > Neutral obviously lets the contractors write their own info
week to meet friends, once a month to see her stylist, and sections. This one sounds close, young, and bitter. Maybe
sporadically to shop in some of the high-end downtown an ex. Breech isnt a big name in Redmond and someone
stores where its just as important to be seen shopping else will fill his niche quick, but for now hes operating as
there as it is to actually shop there. His son plays a variety a shadow recruiter for Urubia. I dont think the dragon will
of sports that get him out of the Tower at least twice a miss him, but its a good point to know if you go after Billy
week. His daughter spends the most time outside of the B, and she happens to be end up caring.
Tower, as shes a rigger for Lone Stars prison division as a > Sounder
transport driver. Six of the seven days a week she leaves
in her unmarked Patrol-1 to report to the local facilities. > Urubia has a lot of guys like this all over Redmond. Funny
to have one being targeted on here by someone who isnt
> AIB is a subsidiary of Ares Macrotechnology. Theyre Urubia. She cleans them out frequently so that they dont
far enough removed that they use the extraterritorial get too comfortable.
standing of KE as their security instead of from Ares.
> 2XL
Same result, different master. That might change if Ares
gets a little friendlier in the Confederacy.
> Whos to say that the contractor isnt Urubia? Sounds like
> Sticks an angry woman. I think Urubia could play that part if she
needed to, especially in writing.
STREET JOBS > Frosty
Contract Handler: BlackWidow10, Seattle, UCAS;
Emerald City > I think shed pay more. Or just take care of business
Contract Mark: William Breech, a.k.a. Billy B. herself.
Contract Timeline: 15/08/2077 Open > Balladeer
Contract Limitations: Positive ID required; special
requirements > The rich stay rich by not giving the money away. Shell
Contract Value: pay what the job deserves. This is the kind of job a street
Open Form Data: UCAS citizen, works for Club Pen- thug on novacoke could pull off.
umbra; resides in Redmond; contact with criminal ele- > Mr. Bonds
ment at work; no private contract security
Current Acceptance Count: 4 Contract Handler: Nikita86, Los Angeles, PCC
Accept Contract: Y/N Contract Mark: Toa Chavez, aka aa, Madre T,
Information: Hes a dirtbag who works as a bouncer at Lady Noche
Club Penumbra. He runs into a lot of seedy characters there Contract Timeline: 01/07/2077 Open
and has a lot of shady side deals and side work going on. Contract Limitations: Positive ID required; visual
He lives in the Touristville area of Redmond in a rundown confirmation required; no collateral damage
but really big house. He may have been just squatting there Contract Value:
and might have moved. He owns a few guns and has a Open Form Data: Criminal SIN on record for pros-
thing for pretty young elf girls with no brains. titution; operates around LA; affiliated with corporate
The special requirements for this contract are pretty and government employees, PCC citizens, criminal el-
simple. The death cant injure his kids, and it has to look ements; contract security provided by Grims Reapers
like an accident. Target has a Basic DocWagon contract Current Acceptance Count: 7
through the end of the year. Accept Contract: Y/N
His latest squeeze is a seventeen-year-old elven corp Information: The target is a madam who operates
slitch brat who thinks slumming with the human bounc- several stables around Los Angeles. The location of her

54 >> and Desperate Measures <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

residence is unknown, but her three stables live and op- THE UNWAVERING
erate near the El Infierno, Fun City, and Hollywood neigh-
borhoods. They are far enough from the danger, wag-
SHIELD
eslaves, and glitz to be safe, seem dangerous, and remain HIGH PROFILE
discreet for each location respectively. Clients of all walks
Contract Handler: Mr. Johnson (Pathfinder Multimedia)
of life can be found interacting with her boys, girls, and
Contract Principle: Gordon Schumway; a.k.a. Bix
others.
Wreckage
Grims Reapers, a mid-size gang that makes most of
Contact Timeline: Ends approximately 12/2077
its money trafficking in metahumans and CalHots, also
Contract Payrate:
sidelines as the targets personal and property security.
Open Form Data: Lead singer of Dark Tides; resides
The gang has a mix of metatypes and operates as both
in Seattle, UCAS, currently touring North America; close
a mobile go-gang and as a territorial gang in the targets
protection detail
main areas of operation. The gang has a larger-than-av-
Threat Count: Unknown
erage number of Awakened and, according to their rep-
Information: Bix is having trouble since he sent his
utation, opposes just about everyone. Grims Reapers
wife divorce papers when he found out she is not really
have an issue with the Japanacorps for Saito, the Native
who she claimed. His wife, Ellen Schumway (nee Ather-
Americans for the PCC taking over, the Azzies for being
ton), is really a criminal by the name of Til. She earned the
the Azzies, and most of the other corps for bailing on so
name from the saying unTIL death do us part. Shes a
many citizens during decades of tragedies. Grim is often
black widow and is not used to her prey discovering that
a personal escort for Lady Noche.
fact this early. She now wants Bix dead before the papers
The operation for Lady Noche is a mix of brothel services
are finalized. Dark Tides cant afford the bad press, espe-
and street walkers that use designated alley spots, squats,
cially Bix, as hes on the edge of losing his place at the
and motels to do business depending on the needs and
microphone to their new backup vocalist, Strm Frst.
wants of the clients. She moves between the three places in The band will be traveling between several major
a random pattern to keep her workers on their toes. Slack- North American cities for the final months of the year
ing when youre supposed to be working for her is punished and will need the protection detail to be willing to travel
harshly, and Grims Reapers have no problem shipping off in tour rigs.
slightly damaged merchandise to less picky clients.
While Lady Noche is a grade-A slitch, her stable of girls
and boys dont deserve to be hurt because of her. Mem-
> Til is more than an everyday black widow. Shes an
assassin gone the easy route. She has all the skills to
bers of Grims Reapers know what they signed up for and
play the game the hard way but she now uses a smile
can take it hard if they get between you and your target.
to kill her targets, and she gets the inheritance to boot.
She might be desperate with this play. Shes pushing
> Rumors have Grim and Lady Noche romanticallyor
the edge of the cute, new, young wife and may be
whatever passes for romancelinked. He wont take a hit
looking for that last big score.
on her very well.
> Traveler Jones
> Thorn

> Smart spots to work from. El Infierno has dangerous and


> Whoever gets this better watch out for collaboration. That
new singer might be willing to lend a hand in the killing
paranoid people around. Fun City has corporate security
for his own ends. And thats if hes not already playing that
all over protecting their workforce. Hollywood has celebs
role.
with private security at every corner always on the lookout
for trouble. Shes getting security without paying for it.
> Stone

> Stone Contract Handler: InterMEDIA Enterprises


> Lady Noche hasnt been around for almost a decade Contract Principle: Tenahsia Coovair
without knowing how to do business the right way. She Contact Timeline: Long term; until 02/01/2078
has ebbed and flowed with the times but always floats Contract Payrate:
back to the top of her particular cesspool. Open Form Data: Simsense Star; Sacramento, Cali-
> 2XL fornia Free State; extended protection (limited region)
Threat Count: 17
Information: Miss Coovair has recently decided to
void her contract with Pathfinder Multimedia. Negoti-
ations with InterMEDIA Enterprises are underway but
cannot be completed until her previous contract is ter-
minated. Her previous employer is refusing to terminate
the contract and has instead chosen to terminate Miss

>> and Desperate Measures << 55


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

Coovair. Extraction team is not a long-term protection or neutral, and the aftereffects of these meetings may
team, and InterMEDIA Enterprises is looking for a deni- follow the same patterns, even to the point of creating
able asset team for extended protection detail. possible danger to my life. If this first section sounds in-
Client must stay within the borders of California Free teresting and within your skill set, read on. If it does not,
State as a stipulation of her current contract. Border please cancel the connection contract and move on to
crossings risk a contract violation tat extends the con- another client.
tract by six months. Movement within the borders of the The next hurdle you must overcome is the breadth of
CFS is acceptable. Miss Coovair has two traveling com- services needed. When I selected full spectrum, I truly
panions who will also need to be protected in order to meant it. I dont want some street razor with a team con-
insure Miss Coovairs safety. Elise Grant is Miss Coovairs sisting of his kid brother who dabbles in hacking and some
personal assistant and sister. Tina Grant is Miss Grants local burned-out P.I. who has just enough mojo left in him
daughter and Miss Coovairs niece. to call himself a mage. I want a skilled mana expert, prefer-
Upon completion of the required time, the protec- ably an initiate, with skills in both the cast and summoning
tion detail will be expected to deliver Miss Coovair and aspects. I want a street samurai with a real code of honor or
her companions to the offices of InterMEDIA Enterpris- a former mercenary who understands what my money is
es in Los Angeles, PCC. buying. I want a hacker who isnt afraid of the dark corners
of the Matrix, and I dont care if they hack with a deck, just
> Niece my hoop! Coovair dropped off the sim-scene for as long as they have real sk33lz. And I want someone
almost a year back in 70, claiming she had to recenter who makes me want to give them all my money when I
herself and cope with her enhanced emotional state after meet them face to face because there is nothing worse
the loss of her longtime boyfriend. She disappeared, and than solving a problem with a hammer when a smile would
press docs all claimed she was off on an island somewhere have done. If you have a team that can cover all these areas
in the South Pacific. April of 71 rolls around with a brand with competence, read on. If not, again, please cancel the
new film, Island Escape, and a personal assistant/sister in connection contract and move on.
tow who happens to have a newborn. Now for the biggest issue. I am a Monad. A month
ago you would have called me a head case, but Ive ac-
> Sunshine
cepted these new players and the identity theyve pro-
vided. Im not some infection-spreading viral, and I have
> The tight regional space may seem like a limitation but
never copied myself. Im a blend of human and AI, and
it really just means that a team could go completely
Im willing to live that way and avoid the cheats others
off the grid in the mountains and then reappear when
may use. If you can accept this last aspect, make the call.
everythings clear. Critters and boredom are better than
hot lead and excitement any day.
> Neutral should slap a header on this one, Head case
> Thorn seeks corporate strike team to pose as bodyguards and
abduct him.
> Depends on the critters, and CalFree has their share of
> Kane
really unpleasant ones. Especially up in that region.
> Frosty
> Neutral is smarter than that. The Shield for this contract
is probably high. Not just due to the requirements, but
UPPER MANAGEMENT because of the client. Almost tempts me to go after him.
Contract Handler: Paladyne00 Just for what seems a solid challenge.
Contract Principle: Steven Ames > Thorn
Contact Timeline: Open-ended, minimum 1 month
Contract Payrate: Contract Handler: Fiddler43
Open Form Data: Single principle; resides in Chey- Contract Principle: Darius Grant
enne, Sioux Nation; personal security detail (full spec- Contact Timeline: 18/11/2077 Extended
trum); possible contract expansion Contract Payrate:
Threat Count: Unknown Open Form Data: Corporate Executive; Manhattan,
Information: Good day, potential protectors. My MDC nightclub; night on the town
name is Steven Ames. I am the Regional CEO of Sales Threat Count: 8
Management for Maersk in Cheyenne, and I require ad- Information: Mr. Grant requires a team of discreet
ditional private security for an extended duration while operatives to protect and accompany him for a night
I make arrangements to depart from Maersk for greener out at The Red Light Lounge and possibly Club !?!, if the
pastures. During this time I will be making contact with scene at the RLL is not to his liking. Contractors must be
several individuals who are not affiliated with my cor- able to blend seamlessly into the locales and be con-
poration. These interactions may be positive, negative, summate professionals. The Contract Rate is for a single

56 >> and Desperate Measures <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

night of work to include early reconnaissance, pick-up


and transport, internal club escort, onsite security, trans-
> In need, low pay, and posted by someone named
Neutral99. This seems awfully fortuitous for Miss Dockens
port between clubs if necessary, and return transport
that her short-notice job just happens to have been tossed
and drop-off.
over to our datadrop.
Mr. Grant is currently handling matters involving the
loss of his father, Malcolm Grant, within the Boston Quar- > Bull
antine. These matters have made him a target for kidnap-
ping, blackmail, and assassination in recent months as the > We can definitely see how good the system is by looking
courts weave through the thousands of cases of rights for Jane Does in Austin or for some form of accident for
transference they are doing due to Boston. Ms. Dockens.
Successful completion of this contract may increase > Glitch
potential receipt of future, and more lucrative, contracts.
> Obviously Neutral wanted a little extra exposure and
> Grants last contracted team, a group of rather bright maybe some help. In case anyone with a protective nature
rookies, got him out of a rough spot at Studio 74, went is enticed I got the following in a very quick search:
on to double their money backtracking the hit squad, and Elizabeth Ann-Marie DockensCorporate
got a nice string of Manadyne operations to help Darius Administrative Assistant to Cole Dunskirk, Lone Star
position. This is a decent place for starter runners if they Penal Division; 28 years old; mother in Houston, father
know how to blend in at a bar. deceased, younger sister attending Texas Tech, no
> Stone current personal romantic relationship; studied criminal
justice at University of Texas in Dallas after leaving pre-
> For every success there is a failure. Darius hired a team to med at Baylor.
get him over to Under Construction when he was visiting Its not much, but its a start to tell you who youll be
Seattle. Lost two for hanging out outside, one for making covering.
a run to save his teammates, and another two for not > /dev/grrl
wanting to leave their bikes at his hotel. Not the premier
team, but they only got him out because I was running Contract Handler: ZoneAngel777
rigger on the op and they got Grant into the van. Contract Principle: Father Abel Matthews, a.k.a. Fa-
> Sounder ther Abe
Contact Timeline: Currently open
Contract Payrate:
> Glad to know it was an actual pro who got him clear.
Open Form Data: Catholic Priest, citizen of the
Those glorified gangers had no place in the shadows.
UCAS; Southside, Chicago Metroplex, IL, UCAS; mobile
> Balladeer
personal protection detail
Threat Count: Unknown
AVERAGE JOES Information: Due to recent events, I am seeking
Contract Handler: Neutral99 protection from more than just the Lord. While the Lord
Contract Principle: Elizabeth Dockens may protect my soul, there are forces at work in Chicago
Contact Timeline: Immediate that threaten both body and soul. For this, I seek a group
Contract Payrate: of morally stable individuals to act as my shield against
Open Form Data: Corporate Administrative Assis- the darkness. While I understand the wide spectrum of
tant; city airport of choice; immediate need individuals to which this missive may extend, I would
Threat Count: 1 ask that those who respond please understand that I am
Information: Thank you for this. I need protection a devout Catholic with a deep respect for life. While the
and fast. Im currently at Austin-Bergstrom Internation- wicked are often punished, it is the redemption of the
al and able to fly into any major airport to meet a se- flesh that can grant access to the gates of heaven, and
curity detail. I will need at least 7 days of protection, the flesh can only be redeemed while it lives.
possibly more depending on the outcome of several I plan to continue my trips into the former Chicago
virtual meetings I will be attending. Wherever I am se- Containment Zone in order to minister the word of the
cured must have grid access with minimal interference Lord to those who are still bound to the life of the survivor.
available. The security detail needs to have a competent My security force will accompany me and protect me from
decker who can secure my virtual meetings. I need this the dangers that seek to silence the word. This protection
to occur in the next few hours so that I can board a flight detail must contain at least one person capable of extend-
to my safe haven. ing themselves and connecting with the holy mana to pro-
tect us from the demons of that plane. The minions of the
darkness within Chicago gravitate to the realm of mana.

>> and Desperate Measures << 57


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

> Word on the streets of Chicago is that Father Abe came > Dont get too giggly. The Knights of Riverdale are an elf
across something more than just some souls in need of gang, true, but they are also connected to Knight Errant
guidance. He supposedly witnessed something that could somehow. Didnt dig deep enough to pull the details but I
rock Chicago again. Rumors cover everything from bugs got the surface linkage.
to a sleeping dragon to a wormhole, but the point is there > /dev/grrl
are actually people actively asking about him.
> Frosty Contract Handler: MadamAngel12
Contract Principle: C Street Ladies
> Whos doing the asking? Contact Timeline: 18/08/2077 Open
> Bull Contract Payrate:
Open Form Data: Group contract; C Street, between
3rd and 7th; protection after recent violence
> Chicagos shadows are nearly opaque. No one is talking
Threat Count: Unknown
about who or what theyre working for these days. Theres
Information: Recent assaults and murders that are
a lot of opportunity for work, but only if you know how to
being poorly investigated by local authorities have the
keep it on the job and not go blabbing all over the streets.
professional ladies of C-Street seeking protective ser-
> Frosty
vices from a small group of professionals to stop the vi-
olence. The ladies are willing to limit their operations to
> Chicagos got its fair share of blabbers. They just all seem the four blocks between 3rd and 7th Street on C Street.
to be telling very different stories. This limit will likely increase the focus of legal authorities
> 2XL to this area and may require professional guards to ward
off or warn of possible police presence.
STREET GUARDIANS Professionals will be paid in nuyen, but additional
Contract Handler: ElfHater420 compensational benefits can be negotiated on an indi-
Contract Principle: Sam Simmons vidual basis as long as payment activities do not inhibit
Contact Timeline: Immediately to 09/06/2078 protective efforts.
Contract Payrate:
Open Form Data: Corporate citizen; Detroit, MI, > This is an interesting job. A prostitute union looking to
UCAS; daily escort required through hostile environs get some protection without going the pimp or gang route.
Threat Count: Unknown The exchange-of-services model is quite a throwback as
Information: Young corporate citizen in need of well. Good on you ladies.
specialized protection in transit between residential > Slamm-0!
complex and educational facilities. Route includes ter-
ritory claimed by the Knights of Riverdale, an all-elven > I think thats enough to show us whats going on at the
anti-human gang. Work includes pedestrian escort be- site. We can all contact Neutral and get full membership if
tween the hours of 0715-0820 and 1530-1630 on most we want. Dont forget to thank him for the sneak peak.
weekdays. > Glitch
Deadly force is acceptable in the protection of young
Master Simmons and is likely necessary when dealing
with a dangerous elven gang that will be engaged on a
daily basis.
True professionals only, please.

> Really? This is some corp brat that wants an escort to and
from school. Why is this here?
> Clockwork

> Because this is open to anyone willing to register. This kid


wants some help and has found an interesting way to get
it. If I end up around Detroit I might look the kid up, for the
lulz if nothing else..
> Kane

58 >> and Desperate Measures <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

HIRING tection, and while a good offense is the best defense


philosophy works for folks with assets to spare, that is
MEATSHIELDS not your case. Once youve chosen the place, you have
two routes. You can stand around and watch (this might
get a little weird, but as long as you stay away from the
POSTED BY: ROOK
kids classes you should be good) or you can just ask the
Glitch asked for a street-level look at how one gets into
teachers in the studio. Looking requires a certain skill;
the protection game, and he asked me to provide it.
remember that the most important thing you are look-
There are thousands of stories and paths and I wont be
ing for is discipline. You dont want the hardest kicker if
able to cover all of them, so dont expect to find that
he cant stand still when the sensei tells him to, and you
here and dont belittle or make snide remarks on what I
dont want the glory-hound who lands a good punch
say. If you wanted to write this, you should have bought
and then gloats. You want the one who follows instruc-
him a drink that night.
tions without being told twice, who is ready before the
This is my view from the street up. I wasnt some
class starts, and who bows deeply to the sensei but nev-
megacorporate Personal Security Specialist that lost a
er lets his eyes slip down. Be careful going this route if
big client, got blacklisted or tossed out of the company,
you look seedy. The senseis arent keen on losing their
and then had to go sell their skills in the shadows. No
best students to a bullet that wasnt intended for them.
special training, no interning with pros, and no corporate
backing. The Guardian Angels, thats what the street
calls bodyguards, I know came up through the school of > Its a good idea to check out the sensei first. Some of them
hard knocks. But if you can hang on through the trial and could be quality help. Some of them could be former
error, there are some pretty clear paths into the world of corporate operatives and still sending info back to the
being a professional bullet blocker. bosses, or some of them may be still under corp contract.
As much as gangers usually seem like crazies out > Icarus
for fun at the expense of others, most of them are really
there for a sense of family. That protective instinct and > Another good spot to look is military academies. The
the loyalty thats present in many gangs makes the mem- recruits are young, but the seventeen- and eighteen-year-
bers feel safe. Those protective ones are a good place to old junior and seniors are physically fit and willing to take
start finding bodyguards. The instincts are therethey commands. Get one solid operative and fill out a team
just need to hone them and apply them to something with youngsters. Also good for getting those youngsters
other than their severely codependent friends. This is a some real field experience and separating the wheat from
great place to start hiring low-cost bodyguards as long the chaff.
as you have an eye for the good ones and can tell the > Stone
others, no thanks. And remember that youre usually go-

HIRING HITMEN
ing to get what you pay for.
Next step up gets the same loyalty, usually a little bit
more class, but a lot of baggage. Crime syndicates, espe-
cially the Mafia and Yakuza, tend to breed loyal people. POSTED BY: LONGSHOT
With their time dealing with other members of the under- First things first. Spend the money and get a real pro-
world and a system that relies on respect, they are often fessional.
better at knowing when to talk and when to stand around Now for the other info that Bull asked me to put to-
and look menacing. The key is finding the ones who can gether for those who arent willing to follow that good
do the former among all those hired to do the latter. A advice. For those looking to hire a hitman, there are a
dark suit, sunglasses, and a bulge in the armpit has been few spots to start with and several dangers to always
the menacing protection standard for a long time. It even keep aware of unless you really enjoy serving time for
crosses over between levels of protection. When it comes a conspiracy charge. For those looking to get into the
to private personal protection, though, its important to business, there are also pretty solid routes as long as
get one that can stand around and look menacing but you can meet the right people for the right work and
then drop the shades, crack a smile, and convince the lo- not get pinched.
cal authorities that you have a legitimate protection detail The first place to look for a hitman is your local or-
and they need to go after the real criminals. ganized-crime syndicate. There are different schools
If you dont have syndicate ties and you arent good of thought on which syndicates are the best, and pros
at judging which ganger is loyal and which is loco, you and cons to all of them. The Mafia offers lifetime crim-
still have a chance at finding some decent protection at inals with a strong sense of loyalty, usually pretty tight
street level. Visit your local martial arts studio. The spe- tongues because rats dont live long, and an understand-
cific art you pick doesnt matteryou arent selecting ing of hierarchy. They know that they arent the boss,
out someone to fight for you, youre looking for pro- and theyll take orders. Bad part is they tend to limit their

>> and Desperate Measures << 59


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

loyalty to the mob, and they often keep their tongues Thanks for letting me post this and rememberjust
tight because their boss will bail them out or take care hire a professional.
of them in the joint. Not usually the case with a hired
gun. The Yakuza have similar positives and negatives
with the additional negative of being solidly racist most HIRING DUPES
of the time. Triads and Seoulpa Rings slack a little on the
loyalty, but they gain points for ingenuity and an almost POSTED BY: MR. JOHNSON
infallible aversion to ratting out their benefactors. These Who better to talk about hiring folks to do the grunt
groups also tend to be small enough that you can make work than Mr. Johnson himself. Ha. Im one of the
a deal with a boss and hell send an underling. Extra level many of us who eventually retired from the business.
of deniability. Bottom of the barrel tends to be the Vory. I knew too much, but I never wanted out of the game.
Theyre violent, kill for sport almost as frequently as for Ares wanted me gone, now Im here. Or was it Fuchi,
profit, and are usually messy. When a trail leads back to maybe Aztechnology, or Wuxing? No, it was Sony!
them, there is no guarantee they wont just sell you out Doesnt really matter now does it? Im on the other
for a better deal. side, the same as everyone else, and now I make my
Next spot to look is like a syndicate, but smaller living playing middleman of a different sort. It will
and more street: gangs. They have some of the same never make me rich, but it keeps me in real food and
benefits and disadvantages as the syndicates but vary a warm doss. Im the guy who gives you the chance.
in one enormous way. Theyre cheap. These are street I find the ones who need a new way to make a living,
kids that dont know the value of a nuyen. They blow give them a shot doing something meaningless, and
their money on low-end fun, and therefore their money then send those who pass the test up the line. Those
goes a long way. This is good for the initial hiring and who fail either get another shot or die. I dont leave
also good because they can be paid to keep their mouth assets to waste. And thats rule number one when
shut should they get caught. The more organized gangs, hiring dupes. Never waste a perfectly good scape-
especially go-gangs, tend to be a better source for re- goat, decoy, double-blind, etc.
cruiting. Stay away from thrill gangsadrenaline junkies Second thing, keep it cheap. Never overpay. When
are unreliable. Also, its best to avoid hiring a ganger for youre hiring someone to play a bit part, you dont pay
work in their own territory, as they tend to find lots of them like the a-list simstar. You should be able to get a
distractions. And avoid putting them in the territory of whole team for what it would normally cost for a single
their worst rivals for the same reason. skilled operator, and Im not talking mage rates. This low
pay does three things: It keeps them hungry for more,
> Sometimes bringing people into rival territory can be it keeps them thinking its a milk run, and it keeps them
useful, since it can help you conceal some evidence. A looking like low men on the totem pole.
simple commcall or local tip that a rival gang member is Next, keep it vague. Tell them nothing. These lack-
on their turf can neatly remove a connection back to you. eys may hold a part in the plan, but they shouldnt know
> Thorn more than their part. If they start digging and find out, it
might be time to move a few of them off the farm team
The last source is the best but often the hardest to and over to the major leagues.
find: the classic lone-wolf sociopath. Those loners that KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Dont send these guys
always feel disconnected from society and people, but on complex job. Need a distraction, hire them to start a
they still feel they need to do something to change the brawl or blow something up. Need someone snatched,
world. Shadowrunners often fall into this category, so make sure that person is an easy mark. These are the lab
looking in a runner bar would be a good start. Spotting mice, expendable.
them anywhere else is tough without some time. High Make sure you play to their strengths. Dont send the
school-age is a great time to target them, when they are former accountant who asked the wrong questions to go
young and impressionable, still think they can change shoot up a local bar and rile up the gang. Use accountants
the world, and dont understand the value of a nuyen. to do office work, like finding a file or infiltrating an office
If you dont have time to scope out a high school (or if to drop something off. Use the last surviving member of
youre worried about appearing too creepy), just get into the Screaming Ragers to go batdrek on the bar. You might
a good conversation with a social worker or counselor. not know a strength early on, but youll see them after a
While they arent supposed to talk about the students, few jobs and some well-placed questions.
they might bend that rule if you play them with a few My last two points seemingly contradict one anoth-
drinks. Here youre looking for the quiet ones, the ones er. The first thing Ill tell you is not to screw them over.
that make the school worker uncomfortable are accept- They arent the fall guys for the job. Unless they are. In
able, but the ones that they feel for because they just that case, make sure they fall and fall hard. Nothing is
seem like nice kids, are the ones you want. They know worse than having a group of disgruntled employees
how to manipulate people already. especially armed employeesgunning for you.

60 >> and Desperate Measures <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

You have my suggestions, and now you just need cause the new elf girl in marketing wont give them the
to find your people. Well, that part is easy. Watch the time of day. If youre lucky theyll be there drinking away
news. Keep your eyes on the screamsheets for indi- their woes after theyve lost their place in the corporate
viduals who look like theyre on there way out of some food chain, but more often these folks will need a little
company or another as a fall guy. Security guards, of- extra push. Maybe even a little setup. Just depends on
fice workers, and maintenance staff are always getting how bad you want them.
blamed and canned for something the corps want Last place to look is your local squatterville. The vari-
to sweep under the rug. If you can get them from a ous rundown sections of your metroplex that have been
AAA, you can try and snag them before their SINs get the finish line for corporate expatriates for decades. Im
the dreaded criminal label. The AAA will be writing not saying talk to every squatter, but there are some-
them off and expecting them to become the burden times diamonds in the rough. Keep an ear out for those
of the local government, while you try and grab them looking for work, especially those who are truly desper-
and describe to them the glorious freedom of a life ate. Ask around. Youll get pointed in the right direction,
without a SINor with their old SIN with a few choice or at a local gang, or ghouls, or whatever.
modifications. Be careful. No matter how youre going about hir-
If the news isnt filling your dupe quota, hit the area ing these people or what youre hiring them for, be sure
bars. Local bars near corporate housing are great for to remember that metahumans are still animals. When
finding the sad and downtrodden. Start up a conversa- theyre backed into a corner, starving, or desperate,
tion and see if they are really in trouble or just upset be- theyll lash out at anything. Good dupe hunting!

>> and Desperate Measures << 61


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
H ARD TA RG E T S

KILLERS, SAVIORS
AND HUNTERS
Thatll be thirty nuyen, please. man, noted that the ork did everything possible to lose
The burly ork eyed the pretty young elf as he trans- a tail.
ferred the proper funds. The payment ARO flashed three But the RFID chips in the pizzas rendered his efforts
times, indicating a completed transaction. With a polite moot.
smile, she slid three extra-large pizza boxes with the six Hope he doesnt get hungry on the way, Bell, the
accompanying orders of ultra-cheesy breadsticks across jacked-in dwarf in the drivers seat said.
the counter to him. Well, Jonesy, hell be in for a nasty surprise if he
Say, are you new Stacy? he rumbled, leaning for- does, Bell said as he cradled the AA-16 shotgun in
ward menacingly as he read her nametag. his lap.
Stacy stepped back. Yeah, I, ah, know Vitos sister, Ten minutes later, the Master pulled into a ground-lev-
Marie. I needed a job. He, um, took me on part-time. el parking garage attached to an apartment building. As
The ork eyed her a few moments, his gaze intense. the Americar drove past, Bell shook his head. So thats
Stacy stood her ground, trembling slightly. Then the ork where they were holed up.
suddenly burst out with a bark-laugh that made Stacy How long you gonna wait? Jonesy asked Silvers
jump. gonna be mad if we dont wait for her.
Well then, youll be seeing more of me. Names Yeah. But if we wait, they might find the C-12 she
Chopper. Been giving Vito my nuyen for years, and I aint stuffed in their crust and breadsticks. Shell get over it,
stopping anytime soon, he said with a tusky grin. Bell said as he pulled out a remote detonator and clicked
Stacy smiled weakly as Chopper grabbed the box- the trigger. In the cars rear-view, he watched as the sec-
es, his coat opening just enough to reveal the Warhawk ond floor exploded spectacularly. Bell and Jonesy felt
revolver strapped under his arm. With a wink, the ork the resulting shockwave shake the Americar as gravity
street samurai headed out the front. As the door closed finished the other eight floors.
behind him, Stacys expression turned deadly serious as Bell pulled out his commlink and sent a message to
she sent a curt message. Mr. Johnson, confirming that the runners who crossed
<Targets on the move.> him (and any potential witnesses) were now neutralized.
Inside a Ford Americar parked outside of Vitos Piz- A minute later, he received confirmation of payment
zeria, a dwarf and a human watched the ork enter an to his secure Zurich account. Bell then sent a message
Ares Master cargo-van. apologizing to Stacy for not waiting and offered to
<Got him. Cover your tracks, then well link back up.> make it up to her with dinner.
<Copy, rendezvous in approximately twenty minutes.> Her reply: Anything but pizza.
As the Master pulled out, the Americar expertly
slipped into position a quarter mile behind. Bell, the hu-

62 >> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
WHOS WHO IN THE a quick primer on the murder-scenes current wizards
would be prudent. Consider this a current Whos Who
MURDER WORLD in the wetwork/murder business, because in any profes-
sion, therell always be the superstars. These are often
the best of the best, the elite of the elite, the up-and-
POSTED BY: ORKCE0
comers, or maybe theyre just the most notorious (or
luckiest) at the time. In our business, its a good idea to
> A few weeks ago, Glitch approached me about putting
know who the top dogs are in case you have to work
together this particular section for all you fine, upstanding
with, or against, them.
citizens here on JackPoint. And because I have a nice
new hole in my gut that needs time to heal, I figured I
have some time to kill. I havent really posted much in
> When youre building your rep as an up-and-coming killer,
remember that clients can be very particular about how
the past eighteen months anyway, but thats because of
a contract is completed. Governments and corporations
the uptick in business. My company has dealt with some
tend to not care about the particulars; they just want
serious psychos and nightmares recently, and I have
results. Others, though, such as criminal organizations,
the fresh scars and missing body parts to prove it. Ive
tend to want a more personal touch and may have specific
also buried six good people, while four more have been
instructions. These could range from symbolic gestures,
enjoying their time off in private hospitals. But on the
like sending a dead fish or a rat to a targets associates,
upside, its netted us a ridiculous amount of nuyen along
or an order to torture the target before they die. These
with some serious connections in both the government
instructions are often just as important as the outcome;
and corporate sectors. This means yours truly has gotten
disregard them at your peril.
access to some high-level security files. So as part of my
JackPoint obligations, Ive decided to share some paydata
> Balladeer

on a few of the most interesting subjects. If anyone has


any questions on specific individuals (listed or not), send
> Violating these orders can bring trouble. Most Johnsons,
if you dont follow their instructions to the letter, might
me a message, and we can talk trade. Oh, and to everyone
just dock your pay, maybe ding your rep. With these very
reading this, pay close attention. You may think youre
detailed assassinations, though, the price of violating
nova-hot, but theres always someone better (or luckier)
orders or missing a detail is high. During a particularly
out there.
hazardous undercover assignment a few decades ago, I
> OrkCE0
knew a sniper who was instructed to take out his target by
Lets face itwe all know that running in the shad- shooting them through the right eye only. The sniper shot
ows means that eventually someone, for whatever rea- through the targets left eye, thinking it no big deal. The
son, will get a terminal case of dead. But Im not talking client not only had the snipers eyes removed but ordered
about geeking a sec-guard in self-defense when a job acid poured into the empty sockets until his brain was
goes south. Im talking about those times when some- dissolved. To this day I dont know why the right eye was
one decides that, for whatever reason, another person so important, but the message was clear.
needs to stop breathing. Corporations, governments, > Fianchetto
organizations, private citizens, you name itthey all hire
such professionals to do their dirtiest work. The reasons In the murder biz there are three informal, but distinct
for such contracts are too numerous to catalogue or dis- groups: the killers, the saviors, and the hunters. Each plays
cuss here. Besides, thats not the point of this post. a role in this sorry profession. Ill give a quick rundown on
Given the current uptick in the murder biz (and make each group, followed by some summaries on individual
no mistake, it is a business and it is thriving), I thought subjects based on the various reports Ive accessed. Most

>> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS << 63


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

of these reports are lean on facts, while others are noth- sassin. Classified as a generalist, subject has a wide
ing but pure speculation. The best killers out there tend range of skillsets that allow him great flexibility in
not to leave much evidence behind or want their meth- executing his contracts. This has an added detriment
ods known. But their results are unmistakable. to investigators, as it makes determining a specific
Oh, and before anyone spouts off on why such-and- modus operandi difficult if not impossible. Develop-
such wasnt mentioned, that this ones a poser, or some ing a pattern analysis of his crimes is equally difficult.
other bull-drek; all I have to say is: too fragging bad. I cant The only thing consistent in his methods is that he is
list every single wetworker, do-gooder, or metahuman not consistent. In the past, subject has made use of a
meatshield out there because JackPoint doesnt have wide range of execution methods ranging from use of
the storage capacity. And thats just the true profession- poisons to long-range shooting to strangulation. Note
als; dont get me started on the wannabes and posers. to self: Anecdotal evidence from the few witnesses
Based on the most current intelligence I have, the ones we have been able to locate corroborated the small
listed here are either considered top-tier or have taken amount of physical evidence gathered from a Lon-
the top spots on several Most Wanted lists; sometimes don flat that subject was suspected to be using. This
both. So if anyone has paydata to share, nows the time evidence points to the fact that the subject seems to
to do it. prefer firearms as a primary weapon, especially long-
ranged rifles. Secondary and tertiary methods are me-
THE KILLERS: THOSE lee weaponry and martial arts, respectively.
These same witnesses describe subject as approxi-
WHO MAKE OTHERS DEAD mately 1.9 meters tall, Caucasian human, of medium build,
These are the fraggers who get their hands bloody, ei- with dark hair. Which, of course, describes a majority of the
ther metaphorically or literally. They could be the clas- human males in the world. As of this report, the only solid
sic assassin who kills from kilometers away, or the wet- means of identification we have been able to acquire is a
worker who feels the spray of blood as they eliminate partial thumbprint from the aforementioned flat.
the target. According to records obtained, Balladeer is actually
Like any specialist or professional, an individual kill- one Randall Somersby, a Confederated American States
ers style, methods, and motivations vary. Some may be national. Former member of the infamous CASMC Fer-
true professionals possessing a particular set of skills ret unit, subject likely learned most of his martial skills
who see this as just another job. Some are motivated by while in that organization. Given the highly classified
something else. It could be an agenda, cause, or person- nature of his service, further information-gathering has
al belief with killing being just a means to an end. Still been difficult. Also, CAS cooperation with further inqui-
others may be nothing more than psycho thrill-killers ries and investigations has been difficult, to say
who crave the kill more than cred. Or they could be a <END AUDIO FILE>
fragged-up combination of all of the above. Like regu-
lar runners, no one in the murder business seems to fit > Ah, Decker, you limey bastard. So close, yet so very far
into a single mold. But note one thing if nothing else: away.
Each killer listed here has geeked a fuck-mothering lot > Balladeer
of people to get where they are, and the fact theyre still
at large should say something. The rest are here because > Care to share with the rest of the class?
theyve been able to thwart or take out some major > Glitch
hoop-kickers. Underestimate them at your own peril.
> Lets just say that if this is part of the file Interpol is using
BALLADEER to track me, Ive little to worry about.
> Balladeer

> Yeah, he made the list. And so no one accuses me of any


bias, Ill just let an audio file do all the work. > So youre saying this was a complete waste of our time?

> OrkCE0 > OrkCE0

<opening audio file #1817-669. > Not completelyI got a good laugh out of it. But to show
Originator: Interpol Agent Ian Decker. therere no hard feelings toward you for attempting to
Subject: Randall Somersby, a.k.a. Balladeer> spill my personal data without so much as a courtesy
according to our best estimates, the subject, known call, Ill give everyone a little something. Decker was right
as Balladeer, continues to be of special interest to about a few thingsyoull just have to figure out what for
Interpol after the murder of two Evo corporate nation- yourselves. I did complete some work in London recently,
als in London. So far subject has continued to elude but it was three NeoNET employees, not Evo. Just know
capture and continue his activities as a freelance as- that those pieces of shit had a hand in creating the CFD

64 >> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

virus. Killing them was a public service. Oh, and CE0, Once a celebrated neuro-scientist and psychiatrist
your guys did great work in Morocco. I was so impressed in the Allied German States, Von Bach pioneered tech-
I waited until after you handed off the principle before niques to help individuals overcome addiction, with a
waxing him. No need to taint the reputations of such special interest in BTLs. What no one realized was that
competent and skilled professionals. Cheers. instead of helping cure his patients, his so-called treat-
> Balladeer ment was programming them to be killers. He would
then sell the services of his patients to the highest bid-
der. Estimates say that some of his people have drawn
> Oh, you bastard
prices in excess of one million nuyen.
> OrkCE0
For almost fifteen years, Von Bachs little business
thrived. That was until a few of his clients got overzeal-
CHIMERA ous (read: stupid) and deployed some of Von Bachs
One of the most prolific groups of freelance assassins in puppets against some high-level managers from Saed-
the world, the group known as Chimera has been operat- er-Krupp Prime in April of 2074. The hit failed spectac-
ing globally for almost twenty years now and has racked ularly, and two out of the four puppets were captured.
up an impressive number of high-profile kills, including From there it was only a matter of time before they were
top-military officers, mafia bosses, and corporate VPs. traced back to Von Bach. But before S-K agents could
According to the most recent intelligence, Chimeras take Von Bach into custody, hed fled the AGS.
current roster is made up of mostly of former Russian Despite this, Von Bachs puppets continue to pop
intelligence officers. Theyre also thought to be almost up, and the body count continues to rise. No one is
exclusively human and to make use of extensive aug- sure if hes set up a new shop/practice, or if hes sim-
mentations. Magic and/or Matrix support is used on ad ply drawing from a previously established, hidden
hoc basis, although its not clear if Chimera has any full- network.
time magicians or hackers in their group or if they hire Personality-wise, Von Bach is described as a stereo-
out from trusted associates. typical kindly doctor type who seems to be primarily in-
The methods Chimera uses are as varied as their terested in helping metahumanity. Recent investigations
members. Sniper attacks, explosives, wetwork, and and interrogations of captured subjects now suggest
even pre-arranged accidents have all been employed in that Von Bach is a pure sociopath who cares for nothing
the past. This versatility has made the group difficult to except the continuation of his research and the continu-
track. Only eyewitness accounts (from those few who ation of his streams of revenue. Von Bach was previously
miraculously survived attacks) has yielded any useful in- known to be a slightly overweight male human in his late
formation on the group. fifties with thinning black hair, but authorities now be-
Chimeras most recent confirmed kill was FBI Spe- lieve that he has undergone cosmetic surgery and other
cial Agent Seth Dietrich, who was working some kind procedures to hide his identity.
of deep-cover assignment a few months back. Suppos-
edly, hed uncovered some damaging evidence against > Is there any way to detect and deprogram someone
former Seattle Governor Kenneth Brackhaven. So some- programmed by this wack-job?
one called Chimera to make sure that paydata never got > Turbo Bunny
out. And it worked, sort of. As such, the FBI now has a
special hate-on for Chimera and is looking to settle the > Who knows? Id need more data on his techniques before
score. Theyve issued several high-value bounties (for I could even try and answer. But surprise, Von Bach took
live bodies) for any known Chimera members; informa- all that data with him. What Ive been able to glean is
tion on their whereabouts is also fetching high prices. that he uses a combination of hypnosis and a modified
BTL-type system to implant a new personality, complete
> Be careful around this group, my JackPoint friends. Not with necessary skills, into his puppets. He then embeds a
because theyre a group of lethal killers, because they are, special subliminal activation code, which is what he sells
but because most of them arent quite the same as they to his clients, that causes the dominant personality to take
used to be. *wink-wink, nudge-nudge* over. From there, the puppet reports to their new master
> Plan 9 for instructions and assignments. Which, come to think of
it, is a lot like how CFD works. Frag me, I need to make
DR. GUNTER VON BACH some calls.
Nicknamed Puppet Master by Interpol, this sick slag > Butch
is a scary individual. Despite being responsible for an
estimated hundreds of deaths, Herr Doktor hasnt per- > And we have no idea of how many over the years the
sonally killed a single person. Rather, hes created a se- good doctor has treated. Lovely.
cret network of brainwashed sleeper-assassins. > Cosmo

>> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS << 65


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

GROUP X > So resident spell-slingers, got anything?


From November 2073 until about October 2074, a rash > Bull
of fifteen murders occurred throughout Central, North,
and South America. Despite the victims being from > Just educated guesses. Im leaning more toward the
vastly different geographical locations and apparent- group theory rather than a lone practitioner. The amount
ly randomly selected, they were linked by the murder of magical power necessary to pull this off would normally
method: ritual magic. be too much for an individual to handle. Not to mention
Local authorities, under orders from their various the challenge in getting a hold of material samples. All in
superiors, quickly falsified, whitewashed, and/or bur- all, though, the implications of what such a group could
ied the results of their respective investigations. Official pull off is frightening.
statements give causes of death as the usual accidents, > Lyran
the work of a deranged individual, or some other sci-
entific technobabble; anything except ritual magic. Also
interesting is that all of the departments, agencies, or
> Therere also better ways to kill someone. Whoever did
this wanted their victims to suffer greatly. Its like someone
security providers that have investigated this have gag
wants to make a point.
orders of some kind in place, keeping them from shar-
ing any information. Even some of my contacts, who are
> Elijah
very well placed in various government acronym agen-
cies, cant (or wont) talk about it. > So basically all we have is that there may, or may not be,
The only reason I know this much is that one of my some powerful ritual group of serial killers offing people
contacts hacked the field notes from two DIMR investiga- with impunity, a massive global cover-up, and the only
tors, Jeff McGavin and Darren Rice. Apparently the DIMR ones who were able to uncover anything are missing?
thinks theres something to these murders. According to Super.
the notes, the DIMR believes that a ritual group, desig- > Danger Sensei
nated as Group X (coming up with cool monikers is not
a DIMR strong suit), is responsible. The notes also state > Sounds like a typical day in the shadows to me.
that magical forensics indicated a similar astral/magical > Stone
signature present at most of the crime scenes, with a few
being too weak to identify, likely because of the passage > Update! Add one more to the list. Just got word that a
of time. And as with most good mysteries, no ones seen victim with similar MO was found in Miami.
McGavin or Rice for at least a month. They were last seen > Sunshine
at the latest murder site, just outside of New Orleans.
RISER (2.0?)
> OrkCE0, please PM me ASAP.
Because of Risers history as a former JackPoint mem-
> Winterhawk
ber, Ill skip the usual background data on him and fo-
cus instead on what hes been up to lately. And yes,
Many here may think that this organization belongs
hes been busy.
in the conspiracy theory section of JackPoint, but theres
Over the past year, Riser (or whatever passes as Ris-
one more bit of paydata to share. Last week, represen-
er these days) and a few of his associates have been
tatives from the DIMR, Draco Foundation, IOND, the
waging a scorched-earth war against the Smokers Club.
Atlantean Foundation, the paranormal divisions of both
They started with known contacts, associates, fronts,
Lone Star and Knight Errant, and a host of government
and other related businesses. From there, they targeted
security/enforcement agencies were set to meet in Den-
any known family and friends. Then, things got really
ver. If I was a betting man, Id lay odds on what they
ugly as the Club members retaliated. Bodies started pil-
were going to discuss.
ing up across North America and Western Europe. The
real estate values in some cities took a nosedive be-
> Past tense. I can at least confirm that reps from the listed
cause of the destruction; including several blocks of wa-
groups did in fact meet in Denver approximately five days
terfront property in Brooklyn. Reports also indicate that
ago, and that Nicholas Whitebird was also present. longtime leader of the Smokers Club, known as Yankee,
> Kay St. Irregular may have been (but not confirmed) one of the Clubs ca-
sualties during that incident.
> Im still sorting through the list of victims. They really do The curious thing about all this is that Riser has tak-
seem random. Im trying to ascertain a pattern, but to be en little effort to conceal his actions. While taking out
honest Im not a detective. Anyone else what to take a a known fence for the Club in Cape Cod, Riser went so
crack at it, PM me and we can work something out. far as to look directly into a security camera for approx-
> Sunshine imately thirty seconds before smiling and walking away.

66 >> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

Similar incidents in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and SNOWBIRD


Texas have also been recorded, with Riser or his people
For many years, the assassin known as Snowbird was
letting bystanders record them.
extremely active in North America, knocking off sever-
al prominent Mafia capos and even a don or two while
> Yeah, and soon as the job is over, he becomes a ghost
working in the service of competing organized crime
again. Sometimes, I think hes better than me in that
outfits. At each hit, she would leave her calling card, a
regard.
small white ceramic bird. Rumors and speculation say
> Traveler Jones that Snowbird may have some kind of personal grudge
against her targets, or just against the Mafia in general.
> Wait, are we sure about this data regarding Riser and the Then in summer of 2072, for reasons unknown, she
Smokers Club? Something doesnt seem right. completely dropped off the grid. None of her associates
> Bull or employers knew anything about where she had gone.
By late 2073, rumors began to circulate about Snow-
> Hey, I dont know Riser or the Smokers Club personally. birds demise. Some speculate that some bounty hunter
All I can do is forward what paydata I have, and this is it. had gotten lucky, or that the Mafia had finally decided
I also didnt see the previous files Riser posted before I to pay up on that particular tab. But on December 25,
created this post. 2074, Capo Doug Mad Dash Asher from Milwaukee
> OrkCE0 and his family turned up dead inside their home. Mad
Dash was killed by a double-tap to the head, and a white
> Yeah, there are some questions to investigate.The first one ceramic bird was left at the scene.
being, how much does the personality that invaded Riser Soon, other Mafia capos and soldiers started turn-
talk with other versions of itself? And might they pass the
ing up dead in several major Midwest UCAS cities. But
it wasnt long before members of the Yakuza, Vory, and
Riser identity along themselves, for the reputation and
even a few Triads started turning up dead with little birds
street cried it brings?
left near the body. In a rare show of solidarity, the vari-
> Sunshine
ous criminal organizations are all now looking for Snow-
bird. Why she suddenly decided to come out of hiding
> Like his previous incarnation (or whatever were calling it), and start so much trouble is unknown.
this Riser seems to have retained all the skills the previous As of this post, Snowbird is still at large. Her skillsets
version had, which by all accounts were formidable. Who are atypical of a professional in her line of work. In the
knows what new tricks this one has picked up? past, Snowbird had preferred to go for the kill up close,
> OrkCE0 using a pistol or knife to finish the job, which allowed
her to leave her calling card. She has also been known to
> Does it include rising from the dead, after what Glitch said use long-range weaponry, leaving her birds in the snip-
in the first section? er nest she used for the shot. It should be noted that
> Netcat many of her recent targets have been taken out by long-
range fire that hasnt been, according to several reports,
> No, but it very well could include faking his own death. as clean as in the past. Long-range shots have been to
> Thorn center mass rather to the head, which has left a few tar-
gets alive. Also, when a handgun has been employed,
multiple shots have been needed to finish off the target.
> Im hurt that you dont think I was careful enough.
Most of the major government agencies have been
> Rigger X
hands-off in this instance, but the various criminal or-
According to an FBI agent assigned to the case: Ris- ganizations, spearheaded by the Mafia, are offering
er seems to have changed his methodology of late, pre- some very high bounties and rewards for Snowbirds
ferring to engage his targets in close combat, either with elimination.
the use of small arms, edged weaponry, or in several
cases his bare hands. More than once, Riser has been > Could Snowbird have lost a step or two during the time
recorded crushing a persons skull. she was away? And what kept her away for so long?
Currently, theres a 2.5 million nuyen bounty out on > /dev/grrl
Riser and a 500K bounty on any of his associates. Riser is
also currently at the number one spot on Interpols most > Maybe its not the original Snowbirdmaybe this new
wanted list. one is a copycat or a successor.
> Mihoshi Oni

>> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS << 67


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

> Takes one to know one, eh?


> Kia

> What Im about to say, believe it or not, Im saying as both


a favor to everyone here and Snowbird herself. She isnt
responsible for the recent killings. All she wanted to do
back in 72 was retire to take care of her child. Thats right.
Now, someone has kicked a hornets nest trying to flush
her out. Who, and why, I dont know. She hasnt lost any
of her skills, so my best advice to everyone here is: Stay
out of her way. Snowbird will do anything to protect her
child. So if you want to interfere or try and collect the
bounties, all I can say is good luck.
> Balladeer

> So now youre dumping anothers personal info.


Hypocritical much?
> OrkCE0

> Like I said, this was a favor, one that I owed her. It would
help if others knew to stay away and let her deal with this.
But take it for what you will, I honestly dont care.
> Balladeer

SYNAPSE
If the Matrix werent already dangerous enough for
hackers, Synapse has upped the ante.
Three months ago, Grid Overwatch Division reps re-
leased a general BOLO alert to all government agencies
and security providers for a new Matrix threat roaming
around the grids. This threat, identified only as Syn-
apse, was said to be targeting individuals online with
a potent combination of attack programs that work to-
gether to overwhelm normal biofeedback filters and fry
the victims brain and nervous system.
According to the alert, thereve been nine victims to-
tal, ranging from a seventeen-year-old in Toledo, Ohio
to a Renraku senior security specialist in Osaka, Japan.
All were either hackers or high-level Matrix security
specialists; one of them was a technomancer who free-
lanced for the Japanese Internal Security forces.

> Something GOD isnt sharing: Three out of the nine killed
were demi-GODs. One was stationed out of New York,
one from Geneva, and the last from Zurich Orbital. Yeah,
thats right. Also, one of the deceased was a good friend
of mine, an admin at the Asgard Data Haven. Anyone who
provides me with paydata will be owed a favor by me.
And I make my favors count.
> Orbital DK

> Whats the deal with the kid from Toledo, of all places?
> Beaker

68 >> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

> He was an associates protg on his first solo run. He > Anyone want to take odds on if theyve found him?
was working Matrix overwatch for some local smugglers > Slamm-0!
and stumbled across something he shouldnt have seen.
Damn shamethe kid had real potential. > I believe the term sucker bet applies here.
> Pistons > Fianchetto

Other than their profession, each victim was linked by Intelligence reports about this and Teachdaires cur-
a calling card left by Synapse in the form of an embed- rent whereabouts are sketchy and contradictory. MI-6
ded line of code in the deceaseds cyberdecks main pro- seems to think that hes still in the Tr hiding out, while
cessor. The code forms a crude image that shows a brain the CIA and Mossad feel that hes already left the coun-
exploding, leaving the bloody words MORE TO COME. try and is letting the Seelie Court sweat it out before he
Of course theres little information on Synapse. starts with round two. Exactly why Teachdaire is walking
GOD publicly denies their existence, but internal mem- this particular path is as much a mystery as the elf him-
os indicate the belief that Synapse is a Matrix serial kill- self. Rumors abound and range from a massive conspir-
er, an electronic Jack the Ripper. However, several of acy to a coup, and all the way down to hes pissed be-
my Matrix contacts point out that Synapse is likely the cause someone killed his cat. Honestly, Im not making
work of a group or loose collective of hackers. Either that one up.
way, GOD badly wants these jokers stopped and has
placed several six-figure bounties on actual members > He does love cats.
or slightly smaller paydays on information leading to > Beaker
the apprehension thereof.
Because of his legendary status, most everyone in
> Something about this doesnt feel right. The more I the business knows about Teachdaire and his capabili-
look into it the more something just feels wrong in the ties (or at least the rumors), but to be thorough for the
resonance, like something is actually clouding it. newbies and as a refresher, here they are again.
> Netcat Thought to be the fastest metahuman alive (although
its debatable), Teachdaire achieves his legendary speed
> I was wondering what their opening move would be; very through several experimental delta-grade augmenta-
interesting. This might turn out to be a fun game after all. tions, courtesy of the Tr government, that have been
Thank you for posting this, I now have some work to do. consistently upgraded over the years. The use of ex-
tensive augmentations coupled with what some claim
> Puck
was an already damaged mind appears to have given
Teachdaire a form of extreme psychosis, subject to
> Why am I suddenly very worried?
abrupt mood swings. Reports say that Teachdaire can be
> Bull
kind and gentle to a person one minute, only to calmly
(or savagely) murder them the next. The only creature
TEACHDAIRE Teachdaire appears to refuse to hurt is cats.
For the past thirty or so years, this elven assassin from Teachdaire is known for using a custom sniper rifle
Tr na ng has been causing nightmares in the shad- for extreme long-range shots and a selection of pistols
ows, and he doesnt seem intent on stopping anytime and knives for more up-close and personal jobs. His
soon. Arguably still the top assassin in the world, Teach- combat, tracking, and infiltration skills are also described
daire is universally feared, and for good reason. as near superhuman levels and few in particular can
For many years, the Tr has disavowed any affiliation match him in marksmanship. Hes also been known to
with the assassin, a practice that continues to this day. employ some kind of mind-altering technique and or
But recently, it seems that the prodigal son has returned, drugs (such as las) designed to remove memories from
and he seems intent on burning the place down. While any witnesses (when he doesnt just go ahead and kill
many global intelligence agencies surmised that Teach- them). MI-6 in particular has been eager to discover ex-
daire had gone rogue two years ago, his current actions actly what these methods/drugs are.
have all but confirmed it. In recent weeks, Teachdaire
has eliminated three members of the Council of Stew- > Well thats comforting to know.
ards, while two more are missing. This has thrown the Tr > Chainmaker
government into a state of near panic as security forces
have scrambled to protect the remaining members and > Even the most hard-core veteran shadowrunners and
locate the rogue assassin. professionals agree: The best way to deal with Teachdaire
is to avoid him completely.
> Thorn

>> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS << 69


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

THE WRECKING CREW terms to get the hell out. Theyre the last thing that we
need right now.
More expert saboteurs than assassins or wetworkers,
the Wrecking Crew is notorious, even among other pro- > Aufheben
fessionals, because of their complete disregard when it
comes to collateral damage. The Wrecking Crew isnt SAVIORS: THOSE
afraid to literally drop a building on someone to get the WHO (TRY TO) KEEP
job done (because they have, many times). Occupied
or not, they dont care.
PEOPLE ALIVE
Most professionals use methods that result in whats In the murder biz, theres more than just killing. People like
known as a clean killmeaning, the victim ends up me, often called shields, are the flip side of the murder
dead, but very little damage is done to anything or any- coin. Were the bodyguards, security operatives, and gen-
one else. The Wrecking Crews methods are anything eral meat-shields (natch) who specialize in keeping oth-
but clean and often cause millions of nuyen in damag- ers breathing. And with the multitude of ways one can be
es in addition to eliminating of the target. While various killed in the Sixth World, we have our work cut out for us,
authorities havent confirmed, its estimated that the but at least theres job security. Still, its a rough gig with
Wrecking Crew is responsible for destroying almost a an extremely high turnover rate. Youre only as good as
dozen buildings, two bridges, and countless vehicles. your last save, and if you fail (especially on a high-profile
While most of their jobs are made to look like an acci- contract) youre done in the protection biz. More than one
dent or structural/mechanical failure, the Crew has been shield or their group has been blacklisted because they
known to use weapons such as rockets or missiles for fragged up and their client got dead. Whether it was their
variety. But powerful explosives are their go-to meth- fault or not is irrelevant. As technology and techniques
od. Because of the excessive damage theyve caused advance, its not enough to just put up tight security. Of-
over the past six years, the Corporate Court has issued a ten one has to understand and think like a killer to defeat
bounty of one million nuyen per member. one. The battle of wits between killer and shield is an on-
There are three known members of the Wrecking going one, and paranoia is standard operating procedure.
Crew, but detailed data on them is scarce. The first mem-
ber is a human male known as Bell. A demolitions ex- DYNAMIC SOLUTIONS
pert and structural engineer, hes thought to be a former
corporate wageslave who for some reason went off the
reservation. Hes also the team leader. > Wait, OrkCE0 is posting his company here as one of
The second member is a female elf known as Silver. the top-tier protectors? Talk about ego. Since when did
Another demo expert, Silver is the one whos respon- JackPoint become a self-advertisement site?
sible for planting/setting up any devices and is also an > Clockwork
expert infiltrator. Shes also rumored to be an adept of
some kind, and gossips assume she is romantically in- > Ive done the research. Dynamic Solutions is on several
volved with Bell. short-lists for various corps and agencies. Other
The third member of the team is a dwarf tech and rig- JackPointers have talked about their work, so there is
ger known as Jonesy. An expert pilot rated on multiple precedent. Deal with it.
vehicle types, Jonesy handles the teams transportation, > Glitch
logistical, and surveillance needs. Older reports indicate
that there was a fourth member, but recent intelligence
can neither confirm or deny this.
> Thanks. But Ill keep this brief; I dont like to talk about
myself too much.

> There used to be a fourth member, an ork merc called


> OrkCE0

Rocker. He was a heavy weapons expert who liked to use


In a nutshell, Dynamic Solutions (DS) is small trou-
rockets, mortars, and so on. But there was a falling out
bleshooting and personal security outfit based in Miami.
depending on which rumor you buy into, he either made Personal security is our stock in trade but we also offer
a pass at Silver or tried to cash on the Corporate Court several options for ones security needs. But what sets
bounty. Either way, it was stupid. Various body parts were us apart from more traditional methods of security is our
found at the bottom of a blasted-out warehouse in Dubai. proactive tactics. In addition to standard bodyguard ser-
> Stone vices (a.k.a. waiting for someone to take a shot at us and
then reacting), we proactively pursue any threat against
> Sociopaths, thats all they are. Psychos only out for money our clients. Not only will we take a bullet for our clients,
and their own sick thrills. They were recently in Bogot, well have someone mixed in with the crowd or perched
offering their services to Bright Star against Aztlan. But on a nearby rooftop to take out the shooter; usually be-
they were turned down cold and were told in no uncertain fore they get off a shot. In the past, weve sub-contract-

70 >> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

ed with various corporate and national agencies as well


as protected several VIPs, celebrities, and government
> A few reasons. 1) They dont seek glory. They do their
job and thats it, even going so far as to dress like KE or
officials. The fact that were still getting offers from these
LS when theyre subcontracting. Theyll even hand off
clients is a testimony to our work.
the credit whenever possible, and the corp bigwigs love
We also perform security threat analyses. During these
the free credit. 2) Many of them are former corporate
contracts, we act as an advance security detail, scouting a
particular area and determining what, if any, threats exist. operatives, often with good reason to keep a low profile.
If a significant threat exists, we either find a way to bypass 3) Because of their rep, they dont have to advertise. All of
or neutralize it. This often requires a great amount of leg- their work is referral only. 4) They have a Matrix section
work and covert movement. Were also contracted to do thats very good at scrubbing any data indicating their
a lot of escort or riding shotgun-style jobs. Due to oper- involvement. This anonymity protects not only them, but
ational security, I wont go into details about our numbers their clients and offers certain tactical advantages.
and tactics other to say that we are more than capable of > OrkCE0
handling multiple contracts globally.
> Theyre also completely dedicated to the contract or
> Let me check my notes. Dynamic Solutions has sixty principle. OI was protecting some Amazonian big shot
current field operatives, twelve down due to illness or during the war while he was on an inspection tour of
injury. Thirty-two field support personnelthis includes units at the front, including mine. They camped overnight
technicians, armorers, riggers, magical, Matrix support, because their transport was delayed. Well, this bigwig
and so on. Eight administrative staff stationed in Miami. also brought along some entertainment. Several OI guys
Currently therere teams operating in Berlin, Los Angeles, just stood there, with stone-cold faces, outside their
Morocco, and Seattle. You had a team in Manhattan, clients bivouac acting like nothing was happening. Some
but they got waxed during that whole dust-up between of my people heard the screams and tried to intervene.
Wuxing and Prometheus. Sorry to hear about that. Cost of Two of my guys were shot, but not fatally. Almost started
doing business, right? a war right there in camp, but the OI OIC and I were able
> Balladeer to prevent it, though barely. Come morning, we saw the
results of the big shots fun. Still makes my blood boil.
> Pray we never cross paths again you <1.64 MP deleted by > Picador
SYSOP>
> OrkCE0 OIs primary secret for success is simple: theyve
made paranoia an art form. If something can be used to
> Look, people, our paths are going to cross sometimes. protect a principle, chances are OI has likely thought of
Doesnt mean we always need to make it into a pissing it, figured out how to defeat it, and come up with three
contest. more. A common joke in the biz is that OI hasnt met
a security protocol they didnt like. If you go against
> Glitch
them, expect multiple layers of physical, Matrix, and
magical securityall of it top-tier. This is a compa-
OVERWATCH INC.
ny that regularly headhunts from groups such as the
Considered legends in the private security business, UCAS Navy SEALs, CAS Ferrets, Ares Firewatch, and
Overwatch Inc. is the kind of group the heavy-hitters even a few Sioux Wildcats. There are no slackers or sec-
such as Lone Star and Knight Errant call when they ond-rate agents in OI.
need supplemental help. Founded in 2054 from smat- Their playbook usually has redundancies for their re-
tering of various independent security-types looking to dundancies and contingencies for their contingencies.
compete with some of the bigger security companies, Even a small breach in security such as a ten-second
Overwatch Incorporated (or just OI) soon became a check-in delay will set off an alert. Everything is checked
force to be reckoned with. Since their founding, theyve out thoroughly, no exceptions. Shoot first; let the law-
yet to fail on a contractthough their turnover rate is yers deal with it later is SOP for OI, as long as the clients
quite high, if you get my meaning. protected. This may sound like overkill, because it is. But
Often called in to handle personal or temporary on- then, its hard to argue with success.
site security for VIPs or select groups, OI can operate in
a variety of environments, from the typical suit-and-tie > Theres a reason they command seven figures minimum
corporate gig to protecting a principle in a warzone. on all their contracts.
> Thorn
> Okay, if theyre so good and been around so long, how
come Ive never heard of them?
> Chainmaker

>> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS << 71


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

SHIELDMAIDEN > Whatever part shes playing, its usually flawless. I took a
A high-level initiate elven adept, Shieldmaiden is a job as Matrix support for a group of runners on a snatch
freelance personal protection specialist who uses a and grab for some corp-brat last year, and guess who was
combination of Awakened abilities and physical dis- protecting the target, posing as her best friend? Ive never
guises to fool potential assailants. seen someone my size take apart two street sammies and
Shieldmaiden, a.k.a. Brenna Hansen (likely a cover a merc like she did. Whole thing lasted 9.4 seconds. Also,
ID), has been a freelance bodyguard for about seven the pink mohawk she was sportin that day was wiz.
years, following a ten-year stint as an Argus operative. > /dev/grrl
Why she left the intelligence agency is unclear, but ru-
mors suggest she was unhappy with management. After
her separation from Argus, Shieldmaiden began working
THE HUNTERS: TURNING
corporate security contracts, often protecting the family KILLERS INTO PREY
members of high-ranking executives or VIPs. Her usual Many think the murder biz is only about killers and
modus operandi is to assume the identity of someone shields. Well, thats not entirely the case. Theres a third
close to the client/principle, such as a friend or execu- group, one that I have mixed feelings about because
tive assistant, in order to obscure her real objective. theyre the ones usually called when someone like me
During her most recent contract, Shieldmaiden pro- fragged up. Theyre the ones who turn assassins into
tected the daughter of a prominent Ares Arms R&D targets. Trackers, professional bounty hunters, govern-
project manager in Boston, posing as the principles best ment/corporate agents, or whatever their official job ti-
friend and schoolmate. In six months, ten attempts were tle is, in my biz theyre the ones who either bring killers
made against the principle; Shieldmaiden single-hand- to justice or eliminate the threat. Theres a wide range
edly foiled five of them. of hunters out there, from government/corporate law
Despite her fearsome handle, Shieldmaiden is only enforcement task forces to freelance operatives who
1.65 meters tall and looks to be about only sixteen (hu- live by the it takes one to catch one credo. But just
man) years old. Because of her extensive use of physical because hunters go after killers, dont think that they
disguises, her physical appearance changes frequently. are automatically the good guys (if those words have
But she is thought to have several Norse-themed tattoos any meaning). Hunters are often just killers themselves
on her body, specifically her back and chest. While stron- who got official sanction to kill. Often, whether an indi-
ger than the average elf or human, Shieldmaiden relies on vidual is considered a hunter or killer depends on noth-
identifying and removing problems/threats before they ing more than their current job or day of the week.
become serious. Her adept powers are geared toward
enhancing perception and reflexes. She is also an excep-
CHARLIE FOXTROT
tional marksman with pistols and automatics as well as
an expert in melee weapons and hand-to-hand combat. There are some who are good and others who are sim-
ply lucky. Charlene Davis, a.k.a. Charlie Foxtrot (or as
> I met Shieldmaiden two years ago while completing those of us in the biz call her, Cluster Frag) is an extreme
a courier job in Boston. At first I thought she was just example of the latter. A former Ares wageslave, she
another waitress at the caf where Mr. Johnson wanted to was fired from her office position after she wrecked an
complete the drop. But before the transfer was complete, office floor. Security cameras show a comical cascad-
some slag attempted to geek Mr. Johnson. Then a kaf ing catastrophe that began when she spilled soykaf on
mug sailed out of nowhere and smashed into assassins a co-workers cyber-terminal, leading to her bumping a
chair from another co-workers cubicle, which caused
skull, dropping him. Before I could react, she was already
a middle manager to trip into a lunch cart long sto-
hustling Mr. Johnson out, machine pistol drawn and
ry short, fire suppression systems were activated, de-
scanning the crowd for more targets. For a second, I
stroying tens of thousands of nuyen in office equip-
thought she was gonna plug me.
ment and supplies. Tossed out on the street, Davis took
> Traveler Jones
a job with Tucker Bail Bonds in Detroit as a secretary,
but soon decided to broaden her horizons.
> She was one of my better students. Aside from being Through what can only be described as a series of
quick in both body and mind, she had an honest and good beneficial accidents, Charlene brought in several high-val-
heart (which is why Im glad she left Argus) and a knack for ue bail jumpers, including Evil Evan, the (former) leader
acting. Taking on another identity was as easy for her as of the Motorheads go-gang. Eventually she left the bail
putting on new shoes. Her only problem is that she often bonds business and paired up with Betty Moondog
loses herself in the part. I hope she hasnt let too much of Moon, a legit bounty hunter from the PCC. In the past
herself slip away. three years, the pair has brought an impressive number
> Thorn of bounties. Their most spectacular was bringing in inter-

72 >> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

national terrorist and assassin Miles Sinclair, who eluded


Interpol for over twenty years. Ever since that capture last
> So OrkCE0, if this ones such a frag-up, why list her in this
Whos Who list?
year, Davis and Moon have been contracted by various
agencies to help them find other terrorists. > Rigger X

> This was priceless. Charlie and Moondog were actually > Because her dumb luck has personally helped me out, and
despite the chaos that follows her, she and Moondog have
looking for another bounty, a low-level fence named Carl
managed to take some serious players out of the game.
Spence. Seems Spence and Sinclair shared a particular
Oh, and partially as a warning. Like Pistons said, keep her
hobby as Elvis Presley impersonators. Davis and Moon got
away from any sensitive equipment like, say, top-of-the-
a tip that Spence would be attending an Elvis convention
line custom drones. Shell find a way to demolish them
in Las Vegas. Well, in the process of trying to apprehend
faster than a guided missile.
Spence, Davis somehow brought a section of the hotels
lighting system down on herself, Moon, Spence, and > OrkCE0
Sinclair. Both bounty hunters were miraculously uninjured
and they were able to pick up both bounties. I got copies of GREGORY BEAR-KILLER
the sec-footage if anyone wants it! To be brutally honest, this guy is scary as all hell, and
> Slamm-0! the only difference between him and those he hunts
is target selection. A human shaman of indeterminate
> Lucky? This woman is called cluster frag for a reason! I Amerind descent who follows Wolf, Gregory Bear-Kill-
ran across her in Detroit a few years ago. I dont know er is a killer who hunts other killers (lot of killer in that
how a person can live with so many accidents happening sentence). He pretty much announced his arrival on
around them. And that ever-perky, overly enthusiastic the hunting scene two years ago when he delivered
attitude. Ghost!!! If it wasnt for Moondog, I would have the head of escaped child-murderer/pedophile Ed-
taken a swing at her. die Raines to the Eagle Securitys Sioux sector branch
in Denver. Covered in blood and gore, Bear-Killer was
> Haze
almost shot by the watch sergeant. Since then, hes
racked up an impressive number of collected bounties
> Yeah, dont mess with Moondog, whos a wolf-shifter
(seventeen, all dead rather than alive), with four from
BTW, and very loyal to Charlie. Moon is the muscle
Interpols most wanted list. That information is pretty
who keeps Charlie from getting into too much trouble.
much all anyone knows about him.
Apparently they met when Moondog was trying to track a
rogue Sioux Wildcat just outside ofTexas. Somehow, both
> I think I know this guy, or at least of him. If Im right, hes
ended up in a bar just outside of Fort Worth. Moondog the sole survivor of a Wildcat team that got caught on
had done her work the old-fashioned way and was ready the wrong side of the Aztlan border while on a black-op.
to make the collar when in walks Charlie. She actually Once word got back, the Sioux Military disavowed the
walked up to each patron and compared their faces to team. Rumor says that three were captured, with two
a clear-plas picture. She was about to get shot in the later tortured to death in the typical Aztlan way. The third
back of the head but tripped on another patron who fell managed to escape, leaving a lot of carnage behind. The
into a waitress who dropped her tray of drinks on said two-year time frame fits. If anyone wants to know more,
Wildcat, ruining his shot. From there, things went to hell. let me know and I can do some checking.
Moondog tried to use the chaos to get the drop on the
> Mika
Wildcat, but he was about to get the drop on her until
Charlie clobbered him with the aforementioned serving
> A mage I often work with claims Bear-Killer has gone all
tray. Since then, theyve been inseparable. toxic avenger. After seeing Bear-Killers work first-hand, I
> Mika dont doubt it. I gave up on two bounties when I found
out he was already on the trail. Its not worth getting in his
> Charlies a sweetie! She means well, but yeah, her sunny way.
disposition and enthusiasm is best in small doses. That,
> Sticks
and keep her away from any sensitive equipment.
> Pistons In person, Bear-Killer comes across as a hungry an-
imal aching to go after his next markthough prey
> Any time an agency uses Charlie and Moon, they usually might be a more accurate term. While capable of com-
just give them the possible location of the target, point posing himself in civilization, he displays a tendency
them in the right direction, and then follow the trail of towards sudden, brutal violence when provoked. And it
destruction. Crazy thing is, it usually works. doesnt take much to provoke him. His exact methods
> Sticks of tracking and taking down his marks are unknown, but

>> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS << 73


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

he has been known to make use of spirits of beasts (his


pack?) and ritual magic. Physically, hes just shy of two
> Last year the FBI brought her and Damien to the FDC to
consult. Long story short, she helped the G-men track
meters tall and is all lean muscle. He wears smartglasses
down some alleged Black Lodge members before they
most of the time to hide what some have called wolf-
could pull off some insane stunt.
like eyes.
Most contractors are hesitant to use him because of > Kay St. Irregular
his violent nature and only call him when the situation
is desperate. When Bear-Killer takes a contract, the only > She was also instrumental in helping me find the McCabe
certainty is that a lot of blood will be shed. But few can twins a few months ago. She was like a bulldog during
deny his success. that job, never giving up until we finally found a material
link she could use. I think I still owe her a drink for that.
> A shattered mind and wounded heart, his wolf thirsts for > DangerSensei
the blood of the wicked; that thirst can never be quenched.
> Man-of-Many-Names. A high-level initiate mage, Day also holds a Masters
Degree in forensic science from MIT&T. Given her foren-
sic knowledge, she primarily uses detection spells but is
SUNNY DAY AND DAMIEN
known to throw a mean manaball. And because of her
Cassandra Sunny Day is a private investigator, for- Lone Star training and association with Damien, shes
mer Lone Star detective, and owner of the Crazy Days very proficient with pistols and various hand-to-hand
Detective Agency based in Seattle. Originally from disciplines. Damien is a former street samurai who has a
Savanna, Georgia in the CAS, shes considered one of taste for guns, fancy clothes, blades, hair care/skin prod-
the best magical forensic practitioners in the business, ucts, explosives, and fine dining (but not in that order).
and her ability to find even the most minute clues, both
physical and magical, has led to the capture (or elimi- > Damien is quite the charmer, but dont let his cultured
nation) of several high-profile murderers and killers. demeanor fool youhes a street warrior at heart. Last
time I was in Seattle, I ran into him at Dantes while he and
> Shes also one of the best astral trackers Ive ever had Sunny were working a case. Some drunk piece of corp
the pleasure of working with. More than once shes used trash tried to hit on her (and who can blame him, shes
evidence shes recovered as a material link to trace back quite stunning with that natural blonde hair) and pulled
to the perpetrator. Last I heard, shes got a ninety percent a knife when Sunny told him to frag off. Damien took
success rate. the wageslave into the back alley through the back door.
> Winterhawk Without opening it first.
> Kat o Nine Tails
Before Lone Star lost the contract to KE, Day was the
deputy head of Department of Paranormal Investiga-
tions Seattle branch. During her tenure, Day cleared nu-
> Even though Damien dresses like a pretty flower, Matt
Wrath respects him, because like recognizes like.
merous cases, taking down everything from rogue spir-
its to wiz-gangs to toxic shamans. In fact, her branch was
> Matt Wrath

one of the few positive aspects of the Star at the time.


Set to take over as the next branch director, Day was SHADOWRIDERS
forced to quit amid a witness tampering scandal in which During the 2050s, the Shadowriders were Lone Stars
she was falsely implicated. In reality, Day was about to greatest open secret. While this anti-shadowrunner task
blow the whistle on a group of high-ranking LS officers force was never officially recognized by the parent com-
who were selling weapons out of evidence lockers. That pany, their work left a lasting impression in the runner
conspiracy resulted in the death of several officers and community. Utilizing the same tactics as their assigned
a numerous civilians, including Days sister. In exchange prey, the Shadowriders were nothing more than shad-
for her freedom, Day turned in her badge. Two months owrunners with a badge. This task force saw success for
later, Lone Star lost the Seattle contract. over a decade but ceased operations sometime around
Despite numerous corporate offers, Day instead 2061. In early 2075, a new group calling themselves
remained in Seattle and started her own agency. She the Shadowriders started operating in several Lone
also hired a bodyguard/partner named Damienjust Star-contracted cities throughout the CAS and UCAS.
Damien. Their arrangement is simple, Day handles the This new incarnation operates similar to the old one,
investigations and Damien makes sure her skin stays in- often targeting individual runners or runner teams. But
tact. Together they continue to clear cases, but this time theyve also expanded on their mandate and have be-
for private individuals with the occasional consulting job gun operating much like a Special Forces unit.
for national agencies such as the FBI and even the Cor- The only official member of the Shadowriders (or, as
porate Court. its officially listed, the Mobile Projects Division) is Captain

74 >> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

Nathaniel Granger, a twenty-five-year veteran officer with


a list of credentials a kilometer long. The rest of the units
> Ive heard whispers that part of the reason the riders have
been reformed is that something big is going down within
true identities are a tightly kept secret; theyre identified
Firewatch and Lone Star wants to have a unit ready to fill
only by their code names on all official records.
the vacuum. Any truth to this?

> And before anyone asks, no, I dont know their real IDs. I > Bull
got some access, but not that much.
> OrkCE0 > Could be. Two months ago, a Shadowrider team inserted
into the old Chicago CZ. This hasnt gone unnoticed by KE
The exact unit composition varies slightly and de- and Firewatch.
pends on mission parameters and personnel availabili- > Sticks
ty. Whatever the roster, they always deploy with a unit
commander, magical support, Matrix support, at least > Im wondering though if theyll keep up the Lone Star
two to three heavy hitters (usually cybered or adept tradition of metahuman head-bashing.
combat types), a rigger, a sharpshooter, and some kind > Sunshine
of mission-specific specialist. Its suspected they also
have some kind of infiltration/undercover assets as well. > The Star has been recruiting heavily from the mercenary
During the few times they have to work with regular LS ranks of late. A lot of independent, top-tier Az-Am vets are
officers, each Shadowrider wears a custom set of light looking for stable work.
mil-spec armor that conceals their faces. At least one > Picador
team has been confirmed to exist, operating out of At-
lanta. Given how often theyve shown up in other cities, > Theyre also trying to hire select shadowrunners. They
there may be at least three to five teams operational. made me an offer a few months back, but I turned it down.
I grew up dealing with the Star and refuse to stomach
> Theyre also packing some nice gear, all of it mil-spec them now.
SOTA, from what Ive seen.The Star is sparing no expense
> Hard Exit
equipping them.
> Red Anya

>> KILLERS, SAVIORS, AND HUNTERS << 75


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
SLOW AND
STEADY DEATH
It was moments like this that made Tortuga appreciate all the even spot a few of the guards trying to blend in on the street,
hours he put into researching and planning. Moments where he especially if another low-class professional tried to sneak a peek.
watched some street level hitter get pinched for something as He wasnt the only professional in the area. Hed already no-
stupid as carrying a concealed Lightfire 70 in his boot while walk- ticed the drone buzz by several times, each time sporting a new
ing past the wrong set of local guards. He knew the scans on that electropaint scheme and AR icon, but never changing the crack
block, knew what would get you watched, what would get you in its lower fin. He couldnt ID an owner of that particular drone,
pinched, and what would get you shot without a warning. It was but the list of people working in Havana with that kind of tech-
all part of the planning. nical expertise was a mere handful. No matter which one it was,
He was currently on the sixth floor of the Casa del Lobo that was one more competitor on this contract, something Tortu-
Blanco, innocently sitting on the veranda and watching the Ha- ga wasnt keen on. Slow and steady only wins the race when you
vana streets below. He didnt look even slightly out of place in know the speed of your opponents.
a classic Panama Jack hat, obnoxious patterned shirt, and khaki
multi-pocketed shorts. He was blatantly playing the tourist in a
part of town where tourists did those sort of things.
In their hotel. A hotel they never left. They would never wan- Another one, El Jefe.
der the streets below in this outfit, with a light pistol tucked in How many of these cockroaches are going to crawl out of
their boot, trying their best to look nonchalant as they cased the the woodwork for this damn contract? El Jefe asked angrily in
hacienda across the street. Which is what the idiot did. There Spanish, emphasizing every hard syllable of cucaracha to show
were so many reasons for that punk to get snagged, it wasnt his opinion of the assassins.
much of a surprise that it went down. Security is tight. No one will get to you, Juan Carlo, his con-
Tortuga sipped the margarita he had sitting on the table and tracted head of security, assured. El Jefe added the unspoken ad-
recorded the whole thing with his implanted recorder, also cap- dendum in his head: While you are paying us.
turing thousands of stillsthe city the ocean, or whateverwith Is this one talking?
each rotation of his head. All of those were sent to his headware. Not yet, El Jefe. None of them break quickly.
He would download them later and get a solid layout of the ha- Have you offered money, as I suggested?
cienda along with guard placements and movements. He would I understand your thinking, but these assassins follow a code.

76 SLOW AND STEADY DEATH <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
BY SCOTT SCHLETZ

They would forfeit any future contracts if they sold out to a mark. Juan Is that possible? I thought there was some kind of code
Carlo ended the sentence with a hint in his voice of another option. among assassins. They dont kill their own.
I wont just sit here and wait until someone puts enough I can spread a small sum around to get the name of any
money into one of your mens pockets to make them look the known contractors in town. Once we have the names, I have an
other way. Even though he had many years on the street, El Jefe individual you can contact. Enough of those jobs get collected,
wasnt aware of how far over the line he had just stepped. on and no one will want to collect on you. Juan Carlo paused
My men are all professional escudos. They are above re- briefly. Unless the source of the contract bumps up the price on
proach. While you may live and work among the honorless scum you. Its a dangerous game.
of the streets, the true professionals of the world live and die by Let us play. Spend the money and get me as many names as
their code of honor. While you think the solution to every prob- you can. I will turn these rabid dogs on each other.
lem is to buy the allegiance of your enemy, they have no alle-
giance to be bought. Only a contract to fulfill.
El Jefe took in the recriminating speech while pacing across
his office. The movement was going to take him too near the win- The smile never touched his eyes despite the accompanying
dow. Without command or instruction, Tarik, one of the dozen laughter. Tortuga sat at the end of the bar, nothing behind him
escudos under contract, shifted naturally to redirect El Jefes path but the bathrooms and back door, and flirted with the slightly
and be close enough to obstruct a shot coming from the window. overweight, middle-aged, corporate housewife down at the bar
It was one of hundreds of tiny things that these professionals did looking to boost her waning self-esteem. He was doing a good
that kept their principles alive without most people noticing what job of feigning interest in her latest workout craze and deliver-
they were doing. ing the appropriate flattering comments between her glasses of
What do you suggest? El Jefe asked, finally responding to white synthfindel.
the inferred question. She wasnt his original plan for a cover. Tortuga was going to
In my profession we often become acquainted with both play the drunken tourist tonight, but this was better. He split his
sides of the business. Know thine enemy and all that, Juan Carlo attention, ten percent to keep the vapid corpwife on the hook,
said. If you want to use your money to stop this, place contracts and the other ninety percent to try to figure out who else in the
on the contractors. bar was here after a contract.

>> SLOW AND STEADY DEATH 77


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
He had completed all necessary recon two days ago, but a a clear planas he ducked down and scanned under all the stalls.
little birdie had told him there was a price on his head. He wasnt He counted to three, enough for the other guy to see no feet and
alone in being targeted, either. Several other professionals were stand back up, and then lowered his feet to the ground.
in the crosshairs. Though their code prevented anyone from re- Tortuga took the crouched pose and watched his mark, the
vealing who was paying the contracts, Tortuga was pretty sure tides were now turned. The other man was not leaving alive. The
he wouldnt need more than one guess. Carlos de Guevara de dead man walking slowly, stepping from stall to stall, using the
Castro, a.k.a. El Jefe, was playing a little offense. It was a move barrel of his SMG to push the stall doors. It was a smaller model,
Tortuga appreciated and had expected to occur earlier with Juan possibly even one of the micro-Uzi Vs that had been popping
Carlos as his professional shield. up all over Havana in the last month. The model didnt matter,
The delay had thrown him off his pace. And now, instead though. Only the distance.
of wrapping up the hit, he was hanging out at a bar trying to Tortuga moved as the last stall door began to open. It was a
play Spot the Hitman. There were over a hundred people in the single step and a flick of the wrist that ended it all. Nothing flashy.
crowded bar, most there with groups of other corporate tourists One moment the aspiring assassin was carefully and methodi-
or friends. He made quick scans to confirm everyone was part of cally clearing the stalls, the next he was contemplating a motion
the group and not a new addition trying to blend in, finding two in the corner of his vision just before the ten-centimeter dikote
new additions to keep an eye on. Those, combined with the ten blade slipped through his temple and stopped all thought.
other possibilities among the solos, pairs, and small groups, gave Tortuga caught the body before it hit the ground, hauled it
him an even dozen people to watch while emptily engaging in over to the last stall where all this had started, and dropped him
trivial banter with Claire, the aging corpwife. unceremoniously onto the toilet. The stall was a disaster, but
One of the possibles broke off from his group and headed for most of the damage was limited to the back and side walls. The
the bathrooms. It was a good chance to create an opening. Tortuga latch on the door was damaged, but Tortuga had a plan for that.
ordered another double, which the bartender was slyly filling from He quickly removed the dead killers belt and wrapped it around
a bottle Tortuga had given him earlier in the day, and Claire another his waste, looping it around the pipes of the toilet along with his
white synthfindel before excusing himself for the restroom. waist. Tortuga stuffed both of the dead mans hands between the
The bathrooms were spacious and clean. Four stalls, seven space in his legs and into the toilet. The move would keep blood
urinals, and six sinks were the utilitarian portions of this black from running down an arm onto the floor once he removed the
marble, steel, and glass haven of excretory necessity. He passed knife, which still jutted from the temple of the dead assassin. The
a middle-aged corp suit, dressed the part of a Havana tourist but door of the stall was the last issue and was handled by a simple
identifiable by his watch and sunglasses, both rewards for years chunk of wood from the damaged wall, wedged into the gap of
of corp service, and spotted his potential hitman at the urinal in the next stall and preventing the door from swinging in.
the corner. He passed at least five open urinals to get to that cor- Tortuga finished by yanking out the knife, wiping it on the
ner spot. Even if that corp suit had been smack dab in the middle dead mans pants, and rolling out of the stall. He snatched the
of the wall, the corner was one urinal farther than the customary dead mans gun, washed his hands, and checked himself in the
urinal gap men gave in open restrooms. mirror.
Tortuga went for the stall. Furthest from the pissing potential He was back at the bar in under two minutes total. Claire was
hitman. After sliding the lock into place he quickly slipped under happily accepting their drinks, and she laid a very suggestive
the wall of the stall to the next spot over. He gave a quick glance hand on his thigh as he sat down.
and saw his target turning and heading away from the corner
but had to quickly use a little stall gymnastics to balance up off
the floor. He listened to the footsteps, trying to ascertain clues
to any actions that might be going on other than walking. When They found another one dead at La Bellero. No one has come
the steps stopped and the water, started Tortuga eased up a bit forward to collect, so I presume it is another victim of El Tortuga
on the vice grip he had on the bootknife that was already half and not the man himself, El Jefe said.
unsheathed. Juan Carlos stood nearby with an expression of pained re-
There was no warning when it came. It wasnt a movie, no dra- straint. He wanted to speak, but he knew it was not his place. It
matic cocking sound or ninja-like hiya preceded the hard crack was always hard to admit when you were wrong.
of boot on stall door. Short bursts of chuffing followed, then click- What? No comments from my security. I thought youd be
ing as the silenced SMG tore up the empty stall. happy with the loss of another potential assassin, El Jefe said.
Tortuga had to act fast. He had premium reflex wares, but he El Jefe, I think we may have made a grave mistake. The efforts
never left them on in social situations. Even the instant of men- we have put in place have definitely thinned the pool of assassins
tal effort it would take to send the electrical impulse to activate in Havana, but it has also provided Tortuga with access to their re-
them was more than he could spare now. Instead, he dropped con information. Tortuga is becoming a greater threat with each
to the floor, planted both feet on the stall wall, and shot himself death. Juan Carlos let his eyes fall.
along the floor under the other two stalls, pulling the knife as he He is the only assassin still coming after me. No matter what
extended his legs. he knows, your job is easier.
Tortuga knew what came next. He stopped himself just past In my profession an informed enemy is the deadliest foe. We
the last stall wall, did a quick kip up, and then jumped up to hang will tighten security for this evening, and a transport will be pre-
from the side of the last stall. He could picture the other hitman pared for the morning. Well get to the dock before sunrise and
obviously not a veteran or he wouldnt have taken a shot without sail for Key West.

78 SLOW AND STEADY DEATH <<


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
So you want me to run. I am El Jefe. I will not run. El Jefe awakened when the feather pillow next to his head ex-
You are paying me to protect you. Your Havana hacienda is ploded.
no longer a viable location to maintain security. Your home in Key The series of events was completely secondary to El Jefe until
West already has an advance team on site. This is not a request. his mind heard the screech only a moment before the air was
El Jefes only response was silent assent through gritted teeth. filled with down feathers. The guard whose ear had burst was
best described as unphased. He had a large pistol out and ready
in one hand; his other hand was already helping El Jefe out of
his bed. He was calling on the radio that the principle was under
Tortuga tried to focus. He had the ideal location, the perfect attack, all calm and professional.
shot, and three fully laid-out escape routes, along with two back- El Jefe was not calm.
up routes. This was the moment of truthbut all he could think What the hell are you doing? Fire back. Get that son of a
about was how he somehow ended up taking an assassin back to bitch, he yelled at the guard as he pulled him from bed and
his room with him, thinking she was a simple desperate corpwife. into the hallway. El Jefe was unceremoniously dragged through
Claire hadnt missed a beat that first night. She flirted, played the hallway while chatter exploded over the radio and gunfire
coy, and then ended the night with a little flirty, half-reluctant exploded all around the hacienda. Neither the chatter nor the
come-on. She played a great guilty corpwife, pulling away from gunfire was indiscriminate. Rounds were being fired at the hotel
him at the last minute. Earlier tonight, while Tortuga was work-
across the street. Not at every room, but at one specific room,
ing a second bar, she strolled in and plopped down at the bar in
where the shot had to have come from. The chatter was con-
a much more somber mood. She ordered synthwhiskey instead
cise. Modified plans and movement details. El Jefe couldnt hear
of synthfindel and had three shots down before she spotted
it, but Juan Carlos was directing everyone with the precision
Tortuga at the end of the bar. He gave her a little smile and a
of a neurosurgeon. Fire to suppress the shooter, gaps to allow
toast with his glass, and she gave a half-hearted smile in return
another shot to reconfirm a location, instructions on moving
and went back to drinking. Another three shots led to a trip to
El Jefe, commands to prep vehicles, messages out to request
the bathroom, where she stumbled into him as she tried to pass.
drone support, calls to inform the local police of the issue. It was
Tortuga helped her to the bathroom door, waited for her to get
the coordination of a true professional.
out, and then directed her to the seat next to him. He ordered
The hallways El Jefe was pulled through were a familiar blur.
water for her, along with some doughy pretzel things from the
He had lived in them for years, but the speed and chaos made
kitchen to soak up some alcohol. Then he got her sob story. The
them strange to him. The floor had far more scratches than he
husband had accused her of doing exactly what she was doing
remembered, and the wood seemed darker . They were obscure
the night before, then ranted for a while about his own desirabili-
and unimportant details, but it was what he noticed.
ty, and then storming off.
The wood of the house gave way to the dirt of the drive as he
The whole thing was a line and a hook, and Tortuga took a
was shoved into the back of a large van. Once inside he recog-
solid bite. She sobered a little, she played the wounded ego card,
and she invited him to complete the tale her husband had already nized the shape and fittings of a Citymaster. Five more pairs of
spun. uniform sunglasses were in the back with him alongside Juan Car-
Tortuga was under her, naked and very distracted, when she los and whichever body-shielding thug had been in his bedroom
popped the spur from her palm and tried to jam it into his heart. when the chaos kicked off.
The neck would have been a better option, and probably success- Were headed to the docks. The event was an hour ahead
ful, since her petite frame, though muscular, didnt have the pow- of schedule, but we can adjust. Well have you on your yacht in
er behind the blade to punch through Tortugas thick Evo Ironhide twenty minutes and in international waters before sunup. Tortuga
orthoskin and SpIn Unbreakable titanium bone lacing. Her spur failed, Juan Carlos said everything but the last two words with
jammed on his breastbone, and her skull didnt respond well to professional calm. Those he spat in disgust.
his titanium-laced knuckles. A second punch followed the first,
and eventually her mangled face lay on a pillow, unrecognizable
and exceptionally dead.
She had tricked him. She would have killed him were it not Tortuga moved down the back stairwell through route two. Route
for his wares and her inexperience. That was unacceptable. A one was compromised by excessive bullets in the air. He paused
mistake. Thats what he couldnt let it go. at the door into the rear stairwell when an incoming message
With the error heavy on his mind, Tortuga lined up the shot ARO popped into his field of vision. It was a contract message.
using every bit of data he had gathered. He couldnt see El Jefe, Mark: El Jefe, a.k.a. Carlos de Guevara de Castro. Contract
but he didnt have to. He had the information he needed. Status: Fulfilled. Payment en route. Cease efforts.
At the perfect point in his breath, he eased the trigger back Tortuga expended a tiny bit of effort to open his work account
and unleashed fate. and found the message true. What he suspected was some kind
of ploy by a hacker in El Jefes employ instead revealed a signifi-
cant increase in his account balance. He ordered the sum moved
immediatelystandard operating procedureand then calmly
Armored glass screeched when pierced. Human ears burst when stepped out into the back alley. A dozen steps later he was blend-
struck by a round moving at 900 m/s. Feather pillows exploded ing into the sparse traffic on the Havana street. Five minutes later
when hit by a ten-gram slug. he was a ghost in the wind.

>> SLOW AND STEADY DEATH 79


Robert Russell (order #7779278)
H ARD TA RG E T S

HAVANA: DALE
A TODO METER!
/dev/grrl could feel the brisk breeze whipping her hair For fifty nuyen I, Antonio, will carry you flawlessly any-
across her face as the boat slowed to enter the Canal de where in Havana.
Entrada that led into the Port of Havana. The same wind Forty, /dev/grrl countered. Antonios beatific smile
molded the flowered sundress to her body, the hem told her she should have offered half that price. Do you
popping and snapping behind her, but she couldnt feel know where El Floridita is?
it through her skintight body armor, artfully tinted to Si, si! Antonio handed her into her seat before tak-
blend invisibly with her natural tones. To her left, port- ing his own, his knees straddling the engine.
side, modern warships of the Caribbean League Navy /dev/grrl divided her attention between the grid
high-speed littoral cutterslay at anchor beneath Mor- and the passing streets as Antonios wonders of the
ro Castle. To starboard, Castle San Salvador rose above Pearl of the Caribbean patter washed over her. Even
a marina brimming with luxury yachts. For centuries the so, she didnt spot the tail until they were passing El
two fortresses had guarded the vital channel between Capitolio, which both Antonio and her AR informed her
them against pirates and invaders, but now they were was now an academy of science. There was a hole in
little more than photo ops for tourists. the bright cloud of adverts and agents filling the wire-
Keeping one eye on the world around her, /dev/grrl less with enticements intended to lure tourists away
opened an AR windowhidden by her stylish shades from their money. She was being followed by someone
in front of the other and reread Kanes message: I need keeping their commlink dark. Looking over her shoul-
your expertise for a special task. Come to Havana. Order der, she saw a cococab with a single passenger of in-
a bad mojo mojito at the Floridita. I will contact you. determinate size and gender, dressed too warmly for
Not the strangest request from Kanebase-jumping the climate.
onto a passing airship still held that titlenor the most Hey, Antonio, she interrupted the cheerful sales
cryptic. But it was unusual for him not to dispatch one pitch. Can you lose that cab behind us? The one with
of his crewusually Scrimshaw or Dread Pirate Timto the blue flags? His passenger is a real pain; a guy who
bring her in. Something different was up. The thought wont take no for an answer.
made her grin. She watched as the boat docked at the Antonio glanced back at the other cab.
ferry terminal on the Old Havana side. Louis is hard to lose; one smart cabbie. He
A swarm of three-wheeled scooters festooned with grinned. But I can give you first class UCAS car chase
festive lights crowded the barricades protecting the pas- for 400 nuyen.
senger ramp at the Old Havana ferry terminal. The AR In no mood to haggle, /dev/grrl transferred funds
agent tagged them as cococabs and informed her the to the cococabs meter. Then she scrambled for a hand-
minimal shell barely shading the back half was meant to hold as Antonio threw the three-wheeler into a turn
protect two passengers from the elements. The drivers that almost rolled them. For several minutes the tiny cab
stood next to their vehicles, calling out deals and prom- hurtled down alleys, across busy streets, and through a
ises to the disembarking passengers in a patois of Span- half-dozen private yards before pulling into a cramped
ish and English. loading dock. /dev/grrl could tell from the signage that
Pretty Lady! Aqui! they were in Chinatown, but exactly where and how
The driver who caught her eye was young, not hand- theyd gotten there was a mystery.
some but healthy, with no visible augmentations. More Thats Parque El Curita, Antonio pointed to green-
important to /dev/grrl was the immaculate condition of ery visible at the far end of the alley. Cross that to
his aged cococab. She appreciated professionals who Simn Bolivar, then go west to Rayo, about a block. Left
maintained their equipment. on Rayo and El Floridita is on the right.
You want to see Revolution Square? Tropicano? Youre not taking me there?
Maybe Finca la VigiaPapa Hemingways home? He Louis will catch up soon. I will lead him on UCAS
held his straw hat over his heart in a show of sincerity. goose chase.

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
The park was an open plaza ringed by treesnot A tourista! a voice hissed. Are you loco? No one
enough cover for /dev/grrls paranoia. Trusting her will buy a hot zombie!
commlink to lead her the few blocks to El Floridita, she A bocor from the House of the Red Hand is buying
skirted the open space, ducking into alleys to avoid anything pretty, another voice answered. He doesnt
the busy streets. As nearly as she could tell, no one care where they are from.
was giving her a second glance, much less following Boys! Boys! A womans voice, sounding minty and
her. mauve to /dev/grrls drug-addled senses. Im afraid this
In the second alley, a man hurrying in the opposite one is spoken for.
direction bumped into her. When she turned to look, What?
he threw a handful of powder into her face. She tried to I have plans. Plans too big to be spoiled by a couple
exhale without inhalinga vain effort to keep the dust of jinteros.
out of her nose and mouth as she reached for her pis- /dev/grrl felt the floor. Shed been dropped. She
tol. Fumbled for her pistolher hand felt numb and dis- sensed violence around her. Something warm splatter
tant. She fell backwards into someones arms. She was across her face. Focusing her mind, she willed her eyes
vaguely aware of being dragged across a threshold, but open. And found herself looking into orange eyes, so
she couldnt keep her eyes open enough to see where close they blotted out the world. Then the darkness rose
they were taking her. up and took her.

BRIEF HISTORY
OF CUBA THE NEW REPUBLIC OF CUBA
FACTS AT A GLANCE
POSTED BY: KANE Population: 8,500,000 as of January 1, 2077
Human: 65%
Lets skip all the boring bits and get to the good stuff. Elf: 10%
Sure, Cuba has a history of pirates and dictators, but its Dwarf: 6%
in the past and would make me fall asleep talking about
Ork: 13%
it. If you need those details, look at the Aetherpedia
Timeline. Troll: 4%
Between the plague, corrupt government, and eco- Other: 2%
nomically crippling trade embargos, it was a miracle Cuba
didnt go the way of Haiti. But Cubans are a resourceful Per Capita Income: 5,500
lot. They couldnt stop the plague or the embargos, but Population Below Poverty Level: 40%
they replaced the government with a new one under Lady Estimated SINless: 20%
Guadalupe and rebuilt their economy with an indigenous
industry dedicated to recycling materials from their thou-
Education: Education is free and compulsory for the first six years.
sands of dumps. This gave them a buffer against the cor-
porate vultures and enough breathing room to make their
Less Than Twelve Years: 6%
own choices. Today Cuba is a member of the Caribbean High School Equivalency: 75%
League, a free-spirited nation of pirates and thieves under College Degrees: 15%
a laissez-faire government that keeps just enough order Advanced Degrees: 4%
to keep everything running. Literacy: 95%

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

AETHERPEDIA: CARIBBEAN LEAGUE TIMELINE


2010: VITAS hits Cuba and almost four million (a third of the 2060: The fighting becomes mostly a political race, eventually
population) die. A high percentage of mortalities are children leading to two final candidates by 2063.
under the age of seventeen. 2063: August, after much deliberation, Draco Foundation
2011: UGE hits, but no one gets too crazy. All anyone wanted was President Nadja Daviar declared Justin Rochefort the leader
ten fingers, ten toes; the other stuff is just window dressing. of the Voice and the recipient of the talon clippings. Rochefort
does not live long enough to claim his prize, as his plane falls
2014: Severe drought and frequent hurricanes destabilize the
from the sky somewhere over the CAS, leaving no survivors.
government. Mafia takes over control of Cuba after Fidel
Marcus Cross is declared the successor to Rochefort, but
Castro steps down. Lady Guadaloupe revitalizes the new
is later arrested and imprisoned in Houston on charges of
revolution.
necromancy.
2022: On October 15, the Caribbean League is formed to prevent
2064: The Voice of Ogoun is split in two. The first is the Voice
more islands from being gobbled up by corporations.
of Ogoun, which follows the imprisoned Marcus Cross. The
2022: In November, VITAS strikes again, killing another half million. second is Voice of Agwe following Claude-Michael Flaubert,
2032: In March, following the fracturing of the United States, who lost to Rochefort in the effort to unify the houngan.
Puerto Rico declares its independence from the U.S. and joins 2071: Marcus Cross is freed from prison and moves to Trinidad
the league as Borinquen. to confront Flaubert. In a dramatic duel of magic, Flaubert
2034: South Florida joins the Caribbean League in December. is defeated. Ogoun speaks through Cross to reunite the
organization, ending the bloodshed.
2046: The Dominican Republics government collapses in April,
leaving pirates to fight over the country. 2072: Marcus Cross is recognized as the leader of the Voice of
Ougan. The Draco Foundation sends the talons to Papa Cross
2057: President Dunkelzahn is assassinated. Later that year his
in Trinidad. The aircraft delivering the talons is lost at sea from
will is read, including a clause that reads To the current head
a sudden storm. Some blame the Zobop, Aztlan, or Flaubert.
houngan of the Caribbean League, I leave one years worth of
The search of the plane found parts of the aircraft, but the six
talon clippings.
strongboxes containing the talon clippings were lost.
2058: On October 15, in an effort to limit fighting between
2073: A new national Cuban holiday honoring Guadalupe Martinez
houngan throughout the Caribbean League, Nadja Daviar
is instituted
of the Draco Foundation declares that the contest for their
undeclared leader to receive the talon clippings left to them 2074: On August 18, Hurricane Donald and the Dragon Sirrug
in Dunkelzahns will must be completed by December 31, 2060. simultaneously land in Borinquen and devastate the island
with emphasis on NatVat. The entire facility is wiped out.

non-government manufacturers arent technically man-


> The buzo waste pickers used to be untouchable pariahs.
datory, but you wont find anyone rocking the boat. They
That all changed when people saw they could earn ten
keep the economy up and running. One bright spot is
times their government salary sorting and hauling the
Blue Star, a semi-privatized healthcare company that
materials to the processors.
competes with John Hopkins (JHIH) and DocWagon.
> Darwin
Blue Star provides free care to Cuban citizens and threat
response services to other islands.
The Cuban government rebranded themselves as
Neo-Communist. Not sure what that means, but they
got that Neo in front of it so it sounds cool. The gov- > Note the word citizen. Attaining citizenship is a carrot
ernment controls maybe sixty percent of the businesses offered to laborers from Chinatown and other non-Cuban
in Cuba and manages what is produced and allocated communities to work for government corps on the cheap.
even by the companies they dont run directly. Unless > BTL Bailey
youre smuggling your own raw materials, youre ra-
tioned. The government manufacturers must meet but Officially, twenty percent are independent opera-
not exceed a strictly regulated quotaquotas for the tions or government-sponsored independent opera-

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tionsmeaning they borrowed from the government more than subsistence living, youre going to have to
to become independent. Most of these would register earn it. Theres a huge gap between the wealthy and
as mom-and-pop places, though a few family busi- the highest tier of the middle classhence all those
nesses reached A status. Unofficiallywhen you factor independent operations. With tourism being the num-
in the pirates, smugglers, criminals, and other grey- or ber-one business, you cant throw a stone in Havana
black-market providers of needs that the government without hitting a Cuban grabbing for their piece of the
doesnt acknowledgewere talking something like thir- action. Youll find tour guides, chauffeurs, and street
ty percent independent. The cost of this business is put vendors wherever tourists land in Cuba. Tips and bribes
on the tourist buying those goods. Hell, the government are synonymous and expected. So if you travel here, re-
offers permits for some of this stuff, which adds revenue member to add ten percent to any and all transactions
to the government. Makes me wish I bought myself an including the free services. And if youre going to do a
island when I had the chance. Maybe Ill be able to afford lot of traveling, hire a guide. That way you dont have to
Dominica when I retire. But I digress. do all the negations.
The last twenty, twenty-five percent (and yes, I know
these shares of the pie add up to more than a hundred > Oh, and dont cheap out on tips. I knew a foreigner who
percent; given the deceptions, misdirections, and play- did that a few times on his Cuban trip, and once word
ers wearing several hats, this is as accurate as things got around, no one would help him. Ended up stuck in
get) is the Big Ten or their subsidiaries that have gained corporate-owned dumps.
footholds. This doesnt mean theres a McHughs or a > Traveler Jones
Capn Beef on every corner, and Im sure as hell theres
no Stuffer Shacks (meaning Aztechnology). What you At first Cuba adopted the peso as part of its cultural
have are shiny Knight Errant officers in Old Havana, Zoe heritage, but the realities of tourism and international
and Evo with Caribbean brands of clothing, and airport commerce drove an almost instant switch to the elec-
terminals filled with corporate flights and corporate tronic nuyen. The Crash Virus didnt have a direct impact
stores selling corporate things. There are probably a on Cuba because much of their technology then was
few others that I missed, though theres always a po- still twenty years out of date; but indirectly Cuba took
litical angle that is being worked when an AAA corp a financial hit in the form of lost trade and tourism. Af-
gets a contract in Cuba. The Caribbean League has no ter the Crash and institution of safety measures, Cuba
love for the corporationsdefending against them is its took the risk of upgrading its technological infrastruc-
whole raison dtre after all. But the Cuban govern- turetrading a bit of quaintness for economic efficiency.
ment understands the importance of doing business, Its easier to deal with the rest of the world when you
just not with Atzechnology. And through the Corporate speak the same language. The government also made
Court, many of the assets seized by the communist sure that every citizen got a commlink with instructions
government were returned to descendants of families on how it could be used to receive tips. It was a joke try-
that were exiled. ing to get people to stop using hard currency, let alone
use a commlink for transactions. Old-timers continued
to hoard pesos after the banks stopped taking them.
> Lady Guadalupe was a genius. Cuba had to diversify or
There are still local markets where you can only do busi-
it would look just as bad as Aztechnology and might not
ness in barter pesoscoins, not paper scrip, of course;
financially survive. Instead of trading with the big boys,
the metal has value. Theres no government currency
she built her base trading parts of Cuba back to Cubans.
exchangeyoull have to sell something in the barrens
> Pyramid Watcher
to receive pesos.
The government didnt have much of a Matrix infra-
> Too bad her son didnt inherit her smarts. Ah, well, thats structure even in the early years of Neo-Communism,
history now. which meant a steep learning curve for those not work-
> Darwin ing for a corporation. In 2034 the government estab-
lished an island-wide network of Navigation Halls,
Like many of the islands in the Caribbean League, where regular citizens could access the Matrix via ter-
Cuba was brutally exploited by the corps. Strip mining, minals. It wasnt until the formation of the Caribbean
wholesale deforestation, over-farming and over-fish- League that government hosts were constructed within
ingeven metahuman trafficking. The government insti- the Matrix. Fast-forward to today, and Cubas local grid
tuted aggressive restoration and reclamation programs is a vibrant commercial environment hoping to entice
to bring back the islands natural beauty, resources, his- travelers to physically come to Cuba. The public grid is
torical sites, and cultural heritage in order to bring back actually top quality, with government funding going to-
the lucrative tourist trade that powers its economy. ward live feeds of baseball games for all Cuban citizens
The Cuban government has made some moves to- and virtual travelers. The old Navigation Halls became
ward financial equityno one starves, but if you want equivalent to decker bars, and the rest is history.

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nondescript men and women in dull brown uniforms or


civilian dress cut to conceal weapons and body armor
NATIONAL GRID who blend into the background. These specialize in the
enforcement part of law enforcementcoming down
CARIBNET (CARIBBEAN LEAGUE)
on criminals who havent paid their dues, or individuals
Access Icon: Spanish Galleon whove managed to get on the presidents shit list. These
Like the Alohanet, CaribNet connects the various island are the guys youll deal with running in Cuba. If youre
members of the league across expanses of water. The grid not terminally stupid, it will all come down to tips and
reflects exotic locations and high-seas adventures, as agents bribes. Fines will include costs of any permits or licens-
captain virtual ships on the ocean, promoting their designated es you forgot to apply for, along with penalties and es-
island or local corporation. The occasional battle between timated court fees, plus individual tips for the officers
agents adds colorful entertainment. Corporate advertisement depending on what youre up to. Figure a few hundred
to a few thousand nuyen. Dont get cheeky with these
isnt completely blocked, but what seeps in is low-grade
guys. They can and will drop you in an oubliette and for-
flotsam on a shiny sea. get you. (Oubliette: cool word for a stone hole accessed
only through a trapdoor meters above your head. Every
> Note that PubGrid and CaribNet both go a little crazy fortress in Cuba has one, or several, thoroughly upgrad-
around the Bermuda Triangle area. Disorientation and ed with tech and magic.)
corrupt code are common. The locals joke that the
CaribNet becomes the CharybdisNet there, spawning > Could be worse. You could end up on some plantation as
virtual sea monsters that devour commlinks. I think its a zombie with no memories of how you got there.
urban legend drek, but then, Ive never been there. > Coral Reefer
> Bull
So whats good around here? Im glad you asked.
LOCAL GRID You have your rum, and when you need to be sober,
HAVANA PEARL (CUBA) you have your Cuban coffee. Tourists dont know coffee.
Access Icon: A 20th century classic corvette with one door You have to ask specifically for Caf Cubano or youll get
soykaf thats been shoved through an espresso machine,
open, hoping someone will hop in.
and youll pay twelve nuyen for it. How you say it and
The virtual reality of the Cuban grid is a vibrant show of smile will determine how much locally harvested coffee
entertainment venues and tropical beaches. The buildings and sugar goes into your cup. Expect to pay at least forty
and places are restorations of what they were in their heyday nuyen for the good stuff. As for the rum, the govern-
showing what the virtual viewer is missing. Your persona ment imports a variety of cheap, synthetic blends they
doesnt walk or run through this gridinstead, it sways and rebrand with colorful local names for the bargain tourist
dances to the beat of the constant background music. trade and the poor. The national brand, locally produced
by government distilleries, is some of the best on the
market. Of course, local shopkeepers dilute it with cheap
crapmore bottles to sell the tourists at eighty to one
hundred nuyen a bottle. The stuff they sell at the airport
> Hacking in Cuba was a joke in the 2060s. It took several is the worst, like rubbing alcohol with fifteen percent
incidentsincluding Najima Securities waltzing through rum, bad enough to make you wish youd gone blind af-
the Caribbean Navys protocolsbefore the government ter drinking it. Theres a good business in selling empty
got its Matrix security act together. rum bottles to both the distillers and diluterswhich is
> Bull why its very bad form to break a rum bottle, even over
an attackers head. Bacardi, also top grade, has less of a
I mentioned Knight Errant. Their jurisdiction is limited problem with middlemen diluting their product due to
to Old Havana and Havana Bay. It made more econom- their ties to pirate distributers willing to bash the heads
ic and practical sense for the government to contract of anyone undercutting their product.
a corporate security provider familiar with internation- With Cubas government-supported pay system, tra-
al and corporate jurisdictions than to retrain and retool ditional cuisine for the majority of Cubans, middle class
local law enforcement. The Neo-Communists gave the and below, is pretty basic soy products livened up with
Polica Nacional Revolucionaria, or PNR, a bit of a mar- local, usually ersatz, spices. Not long ago, big corpo-
keting makeover. For the benefit of the tourists, there rations tried to get a toehold in Cuba through the food
are clean-cut men and women in bright green dress industry by buying up chains like Krill Kings or the old
uniforms with polished leather flap holsters and silver Las Tunas, which dated from the days of Fidel. This came
shock batons. They give directions and efficiently arrest to an abrupt end when the publicwho takes freedom
miscreants on public news feeds. Less obvious are the from corporate exploitation seriouslyfigured out what

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AETHERPEDIA
CUBAN TERMINOLOGY Paladares: Privately owned restaurants. Compared to the
Bodegas: Government-operated grocery/supply stores. There is government-controlled restaurants, paladares have faster
little or no variety to the items stocked, and they are sold in service, but often run out of food before the end of the day.
limited quantities. Tukola: Cuban government version of a Q-Cola, with a Magi
Camellos: A.k.a. camel buses. Besides the well-used buses, instead of a feathered serpent. The Tukola brand has a unique
there are camellos, passenger trailers able to hold up to two Pineapple express flavor found only in the Caribbean.
hundred people towed by tractor trucks. Built for efficiency,
not comfort. CUBAN SPORTS TEAMS
Cocotaxis: The ubiquitous three-wheeled taxis found in every Urban brawl: Havana Guerillas
city. Essentially a converted moped with a bench seat for Combat biker: Varadero Vaqueros
passengers mounted between two rear wheels behind the Baseball: See Caribbean Super Series <Link>
driver.
Jinteros/Jinteras: Anyone who provides entertainment to the EXAMPLE CUBAN PRICES
tourists. This includes jugglers, acrobats, and musicians, but Cocotaxi Ride: 5 to 20 per kilometer
is often applied to prostitutes. Caf Cubano: 40 to 100
Mquina: A.k.a. Yank Tank. Any preSixth World manufactured Tukola: 2 to 5
car. There are an estimated 20,000 of these classic vehicles
still driving in Cuba today. > Note that all are given as a range.Theres no fixed pricing.The
Navigation Halls: Caribbean version of decker bars. These lower price is about what a Cuban will pay, the upper end is
used to be government-sponsored computer labs to teach what is offered to tourists. Everyone else pays somewhere in
(and monitor) citizens in Matrix use prior to distributing the middle.
commlinks. It is estimated that as many as thirty navigation > The Chromed Accountant
halls abandoned by the government have been restored by
private citizens.

was happening. Anti-corp hate crimes escalated quick- ism. From fishing-boat charters, to swimming with rare
ly to violence until President Enrique Martinez kicked sea creatures, to fresh seafood at premium restaurants,
all offshore corps out. For a while, all restaurants were seafood generates income. The government has taken
government-owned. Private entrepreneurs, usually gov- steps to maintain sustainable fishing stock, including es-
ernment-sponsored, started taking them over, but the tablishing artificial seaweed beds around the island. This
majority that serve the general public are still run by the has brought the government into conflict with the Zobop
government. They provide a simple menu with dish- over the farming of deepweed. Deepweed produces nic-
es that are affordable for the locals and/or tailored to otine, which defends the seaweed from predators. How-
what the tourist expects. This would be soy tostadas and ever, this develops nicotine addiction among urchins and
soy-based empanadas (chicken sandwiches) or pan con other creatures that, in combination with its magical prop-
bistec (thin steak sandwich). Restaurants catering to the erties, makes them easy targets to carnivorous predators.
upper-middle class or budget tourist trade also feature Despite this ecological impact, the deepweed is essential
to maintaining the seaweed forests. Gunboat skirmishes
real shrimp, lobster, or fish dishes.
occur on a weekly basis between the navy and poachers/
pirates trying to farm deepweed in protected areas.
> Tourists expect fast food, so many chefs use expensive
Privately owned restaurantscalled paladaresface
soy processors. The texture and taste are good enough to a confusing array of regulations because they present
fool tourists, but its made in half the time it takes to cook something of a problem. The government would like
the real stuff. them to succeedif only get them off the public dole
> Darwin but the large resorts and commercial interests that fund
the government do not want competition. The regula-
Fishing is big business. The government maintains tions can limit the number of diners at a table, or forbid
fish farms, shrimp hatcheries, and krill tanks. In addition shrimp entres on weekends, or mandate awkward hours
to supplementing the local diet, fish are good for tour- of operation. Cuba being Cuba, special waivers and per-

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mits can be obtained by paying local law enforcement the


right fees. No one can afford all the fees, so the restaurant
HAVANA
owners pick and choose, hoping to find a combination
works for themaccepting restricted hours but secur- POSTED BY: FUMANDO
ing the right to serve non-soy Polo al Ajillo, for example, PIRATED BY: KANE
or giving up beef for the right to host receptions. Some
restaurateurs get creative, enhancing their menus with Havana is truly the Pearl of the Caribbean, with beaches
items not specifically regulated, such as certain types of more inviting than the Riviera, architecture more inspir-
fish and local fruit, or featuring specialty drinks. If nothing ing than Madrid, and culture steeped in the best tradi-
else the regulations ensure that each paladare is unique. tions of a hundred peoples. Of course, where there is
Cubans get most of their groceries from government light there is also darkness, and the darkness of Havana
bodegas. Back when things were bad and everyone was is the corruption and power struggles that hinder the
on short rations, there were armed guards and no options city attaining its full glory. But the political shadow is
on what you boughtthey gave you your calorie allot- not sufficient to prevent people from all over the world
ment in whatever they had on hand. Usually soy. It was from seeking out the citys beauty and the opportuni-
pretty grim before the government imported processors ties it offers.
able to emulate real food, and even then it was not good. Havanas architecture reflects the diverse cultural
The government, with the help of a few entrepreneurs, roots of its people. Stand anywhere and you will see
probably avoided food riots by giving priority to import- buildings of Spanish colonial, post-modern, Moorish,
ing and distributing spicesreal garlic, bay, laurel, cumin, Neo-Classical, and Art-Deco designsalong with build-
and even lime juice. The soy was still soy, but when the ings that blend those and othersgiving the city an
cooks at home were done with it, it was Cuban soy. These ambiance that cannot be matched anywhere. New con-
days the guards are gone, and the bodegas look more struction is not required to follow any particular school
like corporate grocery stores. Everything is government of design, but new buildings must harmonize with the
brand, of course, but theres variety and no rationing. A older ones around them. And the older buildings are be-
more recent development is the tiendas. Or, I should say, ing restored to their original state with meticulous atten-
legally licensed tiendas, as people were bartering, trad- tion to detail. The only exceptions are the office build-
ing, and selling back when capitalism was punishable by ings and warehouses constructed in the Soviet style
death. Tiendas are independent, family-owned markets. when Russia most heavily influenced Cuban life. Those
Theyre allowed to sell certain government-brand basics, buildings are being repurposed as hotels and casinos.
but they mostly deal in local itemsproduce, crafts, what To better serve the tourist industry, the dreary industri-
have youand they will still trade you a few eggs for avo- al blocks are being transformed with Romanesque col-
cados from your greenhouse. Theyre not as regulated as umns, Spanish arches, elegant balconies, and beautiful
the restaurants, as theyre no threat to the resorts. local tiles artfully inlaid walls and ceilings, so that they
can be ignored by the oblivious tourist masses.
I snagged Fumandos write-ups of the Martinez fam-
ily, the Batista family, the Zobop, the Vory, the Triad, and
all the other colorful players infesting Cubas underbelly. > What does he have against tourists?
Its attached somewhere down the line, so I wont go > Coral Reefer
into detail here. If you listened to President Martinez,
youd think Cuba is first and foremost in the war on pi- > Hes pissed tourists dont come here to stand in awe of
rates, smugglers, drug dealers, and metahuman traffick- Cuban art and culture. They get off the boat for the sole
ers in the Caribbean League. Hes got the trids of pirate purpose of enjoying themselves with childish things, like
ships being sunk and slavers executed to prove it. But cigars they believe were rolled on the thighs of beautiful
the cold fact is, he doesnt care about Haiti, St. Croix, Cuban women, before getting back on the boat to their
the Bahamas, or any of the rest. And as long as they pay dreary wageslave lives. Im just glad that some of their
their fees hes not too curious about the smugglers or money stays here, whether they wanted it to or not.
pirates, either. Everything he does is to keep Cubaand > Kane
President Martinezin the spotlight, able to sway public
opinion and influence League policies and decisions. If Music in Cuba has evolved, but the island still has a
you have the money and the cojones, you can do what sound that is all its own. Trova, with its poetic lyrics and
you want in Cuba. Exceptand this is vitalanything intricately fanciful guitar playing, is considered the first
that will hurt the tourist industry. For all its progress and uniquely Cuban music, but son cubano, blending the
recovery, Cuba still has a long climb ahead of it. Agri- driving, syncopated rhythms of Africa with Latin melo-
culture, industry, infrastructure are all just getting back dies, emerged soon after. These two forms, progenitors
on their feet. And right now the economic engine that of salsa and bolero, become part of any music brought
makes all of the progress and restoration possible is to Cubafrom Catholic hymns to troll drinking songs to
tourism. Screw with that, and youve screwed yourself. nursery rhymes to goth rock. Son and trova have each

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developed numerous subgenres, including seis son and


novisma mondo trova, but neither has lost its identity.
> Theres no kiddie play area in Havana. If you want a toned-
down version, stay on the corporate cruise ship. Drugs,
The global appeal and influence of Cuban music is a
gambling, and prostitution are all legal when you come
major reason tourists come to Cuba. And tourists are the
ashore. Sos anything else you can dream up, provided
lifeblood of the island. Massive corporate cruise ships
you pay your dues and your respects to the authorities.
deposit thousands every daysome in Havana Bay,
more in corporate beaches and resorts in East Havana. > Kane
These tourists pay premium prices for severely limited
quantities of Cuban rum and cigars or for authentic Cu- > The government lets everyone who plays by their rules
ban cuisine and nightlife. They spend even more, some make a profit. The Mafia, Triad, Vory, Zobop, you name it.
losing fortunes, gambling at Sports Town or in the gov- Sometimes they play nice, other times they bloody one
ernment casinos surrounding Revolution Square. anothers nose.
The popular perception is that Cubas economy de- > Darwin
pends on piracy and the black market. It is an open secret
that all (or almost all) of the islands laws are very flexible HOW TO GET AROUND
if the right fees are paid. For some reason, tourists find this
American cars more than a century old are a symbol
brush with crime excitingprovided the crime doesnt af-
of wealth and status here in Havana. The 1950s clas-
fect them directly, of course. But while some might imag-
sic models are from the days before a trade embargo
ine Cuba is only a few steps from sinking into the lawless banned future car sales through most of Cubas modern
chaos of Haiti, things are not as uncontrolled as theyre history. Keeping the cars running with anything they
rumored to be. While the only obvious arm of law enforce- can find shows Cuban ingenuity. Today, current cars are
ment in Cuba is the National Police in their emerald-green retrofitted with turn-of-the-century replica covers in
uniforms (augmented by the black and gold of Knight Er- homage to that status symbolism.
rant in Havana and environs), there are less obvious gov-
ernment agencies at work. For the most part, criminals
> Because vehicles are shipped/smuggled to Havana, the
know that if they pay the right fees, they can operate to a price of a new car is out of reach of most residents. Even
certain degree outside the law. But they also know there the middle class cobbles cars together from purchased
are serious consequences for exceeding certain limits.
and reclaimed parts instead of buying whole cars.
Organized crime also plays a role in law enforce-
mentor at least keeping orderparticularly since Pres-
> The Chromed Accountant

ident Ray Martinez came into power. There is a con-


stant ebb and flow of power plays and turf wars going
> You can blame the pirates for causing this problem.
on beneath the surface of Cuban society, but all parties > Kane
involved understand the concept of a goose with gold-
en eggs and keep anything that might disrupt the flow > You could also blame the government for low salaries and
restrictions on vehicle imports. You know its to keep up
of tourist money and keep their struggles covert. While
certain crimes against tourists are toleratedselling appearances. If everyone had a car, Cuba would cease to
counterfeit cigars, adjustments to the roulette wheel or be picturesque.
the baccarat deck, etc.anyone who gets too greedy or > Darwin
too violent runs the risk of being brought down by their
colleagues before the police get to them. The government provides basic public transporta-
President Ray Martinezs approach to law enforce- tion with converted Leyland-Rovers or Renault-Fiat Ca-
ment has been effective. Statistics for all types of crime, mellos. These buses run specific routes in each town.
particularly those that affect tourists directly, are all dra- Independent Cubans with their own busses are more
matically lower than they were when Enrique was pres- nomadic. Catering to the tourist trade, they pick up fares
where they can find them and take them where they
ident.
want to gousually offering services as a tour guide
along the way. If your destination isnt on the established
> Of course reports of theft are down. What kind of idiot is
bus route, or you dont want to wait for the bus, there
going to file a complaint about getting ripped off trying to
are always at least a dozen of the ubiquitous cocotax-
score black-market cigars?
ies in hailing distanceincluding some that are probably
> Darwin trying to entice you into a ride the moment you hit the
streets. Cocotaxies combine the front half of a scooter,
> A pirate robbing a pleasure yacht might not see jail time. which the driver sits astride, and a bench seat mounted
On a good day he might be found adrift; on a bad day, between two rear wheels. Traditionally theyre semi-en-
shark bait. closed by an egg-shaped body that offers little protec-
> Swash and Buckle tion against the elements.

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

> Remember this is Cuba. When Fumando says 1.5


ALONZO scooters, he really means that people will have 1 scooter
and half a scooter that they are still buying parts for or are
Metatype: Human cannibalizing to keep the first one running. Half-scooters:
Sex: Male Theyre not just for averages anymore!
Age: Middle age > Kane
Connection Rating: 1
Type: Support By sea, there are many charter boats and captains
Preferred payment method: Barter (Foodstuff) ready for hire, ranging from the man with a brightly paint-
ed skiff and parrot on his shoulder to the fifteen-meter
Hobbies/Vice: Social Habit (Drinking)
cruisers for deep-sea fishing or diving around the island.
Personal Life: Divorced
Be careful of who you go to sea with, or you could get
Description: Alonzo, also known as Jolly Roger, is a local mixed up with smugglers or real pirates. Something that
character. He pilots his sightseeing boat dressed as a pirate would be hard to explain to Knight Errant or the Caribbe-
complete with eye patch, plumed captains hat, and red- an League Navy.
throated parrot on his shoulder. Though superficially decorated
as a pirate shipcomplete with skull-and-crossbones flag > The fake pirate in the skiff is my second cousin, Alonzo.
his deep-vee runabout is a capable vessel boasting a pair of Not the sharpest hook in the tackle box, but he supposedly
powerful outboard motors. Though he operates primarily as a has some magical talent related to the sea. Nice guy. He
can be hired for a few nuyen an hour, provided you pack a
tour guide, Alonzo is a licensed ships captain and performs
lunch for him.
several weddings on the high seas every year. Walking the
plank after the ceremony is optional.
> Swash and Buckle

> The navy isnt as interested in taking down pirates as


they once were. Most patrols follow predictable routes
that can be learned for a price. A pirate who gets caught
It is almost impossible to buy or even borrow a car
has the option of paying the CLN ship a feeostensibly
without weeks of negotiation and preparation, but
equivalent to court costs and finesand going on their
scooters are always available for rent or sale. Scooters
way. Of course, a pirate who gets caught and protests may
are cheap and reliable, and even the average work-
be charged with resisting arrestwith their attempted
ing-class family owns, on average, 1.5 scooters2.5 for
escape and subsequent sinking of their ship documented
a middle class family. But even if you secure a car or a
on the trids
scooter, getting around Havana without a local guide
can be confusing. Its not unusual for a street to have > Kane
as many as three official names and be known to the
locals by a fourth. Street signs are not common. Until Tracking vehicles and monitoring traffic is all done by
Mitsuhama. GridGuide was the first corporation allowed
you know your way around, hiring a local guide is always
into Cuba back in 2034. GridGuide and GridGuide: Har-
prudent. Beyond the metropolitan area, the government
bor Master helped Cuba register and track all vehicles on
maintains a rail system that connects all the major cities.
land and sea within the Cuban Local Grid. Most of the
The trains for Cubans and the trains for tourists are strict-
locals dont need autopilot or GridGuide support since
ly segregated, and there are separate stations for each
they take public transportation or have much older ve-
class in every city.
hicles that would lose value if retrofitted with autopilot
controls. The real benefit is to the government, which
> There was a glut of E.S. Papooses brought to Cuba a
can collect licensing fees and track various vehicles in
decade ago that really boosted peoples self-worth and and around Cuba. Traffic penalties are supposedly au-
independence. Apparently a pirate gang made off with tomated, but of course the Cuban law enforcement will
three cargo containers from Tampa thinking they have take the fee on behalf of the government so you dont
some trideo sets or other entertainment devices. They have to go to court/jail.
didnt realize Entertainment Systems was a corporate
name. > Personally I think the emphasis was on tracking Mquinas
> Clockwork anywhere in Cuba. If the NeoComms believe that too
many cars on the road will devalue the Mquinas, then
they could deny licensing. Its already almost punishable
by death to steal a Mquina or carjack someone.
> BTL Bailey

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

FAMILY BUSINESS
One thing Lady Guadalupe recognized early on was JAMES CUTILLAS
that diversification is necessary for Cuba to not only
survive but flourish. Thats why a key component to Metatype: Human
Neo-Communism is the allocation of resources to en- Sex: Male
courage individuals to develop their own businesses. Age: Middle age
That may sound counterintuitive, but she reasoned Connection Rating: 6
that an effective economic defense against large cor- Type: Support
porations trying to take over would be a collective of Preferred payment method: Cash (credstick)
small-business owners, each with a personal stake in
Hobbies/Vice: Social Habit (Baseball)
the outcome. Of course the emphasis is on small busi-
nesses and incorporating more of the community or Personal Life: In a relationship
forming collectives with similar businesses, rather than Description: Cutillas presents the world with a larger-
pure expansionthere are not-obvious impediments than-life, flamboyant persona as he promotes his familys
to any Cuban corporation rising above A status. This brand and works to expand their market globally. It remains
strategy has proven effective in keeping the predatory to be seen whether his ambition to elevate Bacardi above
AAA corporations at bay. A status is practical. Lacking the political connections and
The Cuban government also offered incentives to
acumen to compete with Martinez politically, Cutillas builds
Cuban families whod had businesses but been exiled
by the early communists to return home and reestablish his base with the people through philanthropic programs
their companies. helping individuals and communities that cant afford the bribes
necessary to get helpespecially those working to establish
BACARDI their own businesses.
The name Bacardi has been associated with authentic
Cuban rum for over two hundred years and is credited
with refining rum into its modern form. (The Arechabala > One work-around for the short supply of sugar has been
family copied their distilling methods, marketing their smuggling. Weapons for sugar and rum for cashtrades
own Havana Club Rum until the Bacardi family bought that always find willing partners. Bacardi dont get directly
them out and established Havana Club as their own sec- involved, but they definitely contract out.
ond-tier rum.) The Bacardi family had been sympathetic > Swash and Buckle
to Fidel Castros revolutionary cause until he embraced
the pro-Soviet doctrine of Che Guevara. In 1960, all Bac-
> Im just glad they made that final move from Borinquen to
ardi assets in Cuba were seized and the family forced Cuba. If theyd stayed, Id be mourning the loss of one of
into exile. The Bacardis had distilleries in Europe and the
my best friends.
America and were able to continue marketing their rum,
but the government nationalized Havana Club Rum. The > Kane
Bacardi family returned from exile at the invitation of the
government after Castro stepped down. They returned > The Bacardis dont have criminal ties, but they have
to the Art Deco Bacardi Building theyd been forced to political ties outside of Cuba. They have family in the
abandon and began rebuilding the connections theyd governments of both Borinquen and Florida. Rumor has
once had in the community. With the legal help of the it they have family in the DSI, which is why the NEEC was
new Caribbean League and NEEC, Bacardi won their Ha- so keen to help them out.
vana Club brand name back (the previous government > Thorn
had licensed it to a French corporation). Bacardis Hava-
na Club is now their premium rum, made only in Cuba. > The iconic Bat has also been the spirit mentor for
Quantities are limited because the Cuban sugar cane Awakened Bacardi family members for generations. I
fields are still recovering, and pure Havana Club is be- heard that theres a secret rite of passage for the family as
yond the reach of all but the very rich. they Awaken.
James Cutillas, eleventh generation of the Bacardi
family and head of the Havana Club distilleries in Cuba,
> Abracadavre

is striving to make a nameand a power basefor him-


BELLOS
self in Cuban politics. He does not have the connections
or the financial resources to take on the Martinez family Cuban cigars are almost all produced by Partagas, a Cu-
directly, but because of his efforts the Bacardi family is ban government- (which is to say Martinez-) controlled
seen as a rising star in the Caribbean League. It will be corporation. The Bellos family, however, had taken a
interesting to see how that plays out in future elections. supply of Cuban tobacco seeds with them when they

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>> HARD TARGETS <<

Franciscos legacy of a lifetime among pirates and his


DONNA FRANCISCO years as a Pirate King. Francisco Transportations prices
Metatype: Ork are a bit higher than those of other independent cargo
Sex: Female carriers, but they can guarantee delivery with no loss to
Age: Young pirates.
Connection Rating: 4
Type: Shadow Service > His legacy wont last long. Another year at most. Ares
Heavy Airships are eating into the surface shipping
Preferred payment method: Cash (credstick)
market, and the rising generation of pirates dont give a
Hobbies/Vice: Social Habit (Baseball)
damn about who he used to be.
Personal Life: Single
> Kane
Description: Donna Francisco, Don Franciscos
granddaughter, is the rigger pilot of an Ultra-Suez-class Feeder. MARTINEZ
This 1000 TEU ship is equipped with three cranes and thirty
The Martinez family is the founding family of the Carib-
omni-directional aquatic drones. The aquatic drones stabilize bean League. Without their leadership, the megacorps
the ship in all but severe weather conditions, allowing safe targeting weaker nations would have divided the Carib-
and efficient ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship cargo transfers. bean into a patchwork of wholly owned corporate sa-
Donnas ship picks up and delivers cargo for all parts of the trapies. They have controlled Cuba since the inception
Caribbean League. of the League.

LADY GUADALUPE MARTINEZ


(19882072)
fled to Miami and produced a small (compared to Part- As a successful businesswoman in Miami, Guadalupe
agas) but steady supply of Cuban cigars throughout Martinez had always loved Cuba, the home her parents
their exile. Now the Bellos family has returned to Hava-
had fled. She founded an organization to help Cubans
na, but there are restrictions on how large their manu-
coming to Miami find careers, not just work, and to be
facturing plant can be. They get around this by routing
successful on their own. For decades her people kept
misplaced bales of tobacco to their plant in Miami. The
a close eye on Cuba, aided by information from fam-
finished cigars somehow find their way into Havana for
ily members still in the country. She saw serious flaws
sale. No records, of course, and the agents charged
in Castros economic and political institutions and put
with keeping an eye on their imports and exports are
together a series of programsupdated as conditions
living quite comfortably.
in Cuba changedfor bringing her ideas home. Mar-
tinez came to Castro when it was apparent he was
> They moved from Miami to Havana to establish ties to
preparing to step down and tried to convince him that
the Neo-Communist government. Bellos started looking
the Neo-Communist model offered the best hope for
into chemistry years ago and extracting the most from
Cuba. Castro rejected her ideas, choosing a familiar and
the tobacco they get. They still produce those premium
trusted comrade as his successor. As history shows, his
Bellos cigars, but their real money is made through the choice was a bad one. With the government collapsing
manufacture of essence of tobacco that supposedly in confusion and indecision, Lady Guadalupe seized
gives e-cigars that authentic Cuban flavor. the reins of power in a bloodless coup. Bringing the full
> Cosmo force of her Miami organization to bear, she stabilized
the nation and established the political and economic
FRANCISCO policies of Neo-Communism as the structure on which
Don Francisco was a Pirate King in the early 2020s. He everything depended.
controlled a few island rocks that were of little value on
their own but put him in position to regulate a couple > No thanks to the Mafia.They pushed every button possible
of major shipping lanes. He gathered more wealth than till the incident in Havana Bay.
he would have pirating by charging a toll on his sea > Darwin
lanes. Ships that paid passed unmolested. Ships that
didnt were marked for attack by other pirates whod In 2020, citing her success in stabilizing Cuba, she
received detailed information about their cargo, de- called on the other independent nations of the Carib-
fenses, and route from Francisco. bean to join Cuba in forming a confederation. Many dis-
When the League formed, Don Francisco went legit. missed the data and projections she presented trying to
Francisco Transportation runs fifteen large cargo ships get them to stand together against the corporations as
that travel to all parts of the League, protected by Don alarmist rhetoric intended to frighten them into submit-

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

ting to Cubas rule. Her proposal was rejected. It took quen. The Borinquen government was floundering, and
ORO grabbing NatVat in 2021 to convince them the its economy going through a series of abrupt adjust-
danger was real enough to bring them all back to the ments when Enrique stepped in. He offered hundreds
negotiating table. of skilled civil servants to help the administration govern
History records that from 2022 till 2046, Lady Gua- effectively, the financial resources of Cuba to underwrite
dalupe brought prosperity to Cuba. Actually, she univer- the Borinquen economy, and Cubas ongoing support to
sally applied and enforced the principles of Neo-Com- ensure stability and prosperity. He was soundly rejected.
munism. This elevated the poor but also weakened His second and last target was Haitionly eighty kilo-
anyone in a position to challenge the government. Most meters away and sinking into chaos. He had no trouble
Cubanos considered this a fair trade. In 2045, citing convincing other League members that Cuba needed to
failing health, she began turning the reins of govern- intervene. The Caribbean League Navy even support-
ment over to her younger son, Enrique, and in 2046 ed his attempt to blockade the country. However, Cuba
she stepped down. She and her husband Hector lived didnt have the military resources to follow through, and
in relative isolation in Juraco until her death in 2072. The Enrique succeeded only in antagonizing already-hostile
country and the nation mourned her passing. The anni- pirate kings and warlords.
versary of her arrival in Cuba is now a national holiday. Enriques older brother Carlos had seen what their
parents had gone through when they returned to Cuba.
> There are no dark deeds in the official history of Lady He understood the struggle and the plain hard work it
Guadalupes salvation of Cuba. Those events have been had taken to make the humanitarian and economic re-
buried deep. forms a reality. He was a firm believer in Neo-Commu-
> Plan 9 nism and the nations obligations to all its citizenspar-
ticularly those still living in foreign lands. It was perhaps
ENRIQUE PRETTY BOY this blind faith that had caused their mother to choose
Enrique as her successor. Carlos seemed to honestly not
MARTINEZ (20232067)
mind which of them was president so long as their fam-
Enrique Pretty Boy Martinez was elected president in ilys work continued and their mothers legacy assured.
2047. Not that it was much of an election; hed been What he could not understand was why this seemed
seen at his mothers elbow for over a year, and no one to mean so little to Enrique. There were frequent argu-
doubted he was Lady Guadalupes anointed successor. ments.
Enrique, on the other hand, saw the culmination of
> Its been stated many times: Only a Martinez could his mothers work as Cuba becoming a major player on
challenge a Martinez.The only reason there are opponents the global stage. In a reversal of Lady Guadalupes poli-
in the elections is to make everything appear properly cies, he invited overtures from the major corporations
democratic and above board. accepting generous personal incentives and hosting
> Darwin lavish parties for corporate executives showcasing what
Cuba had to offer.
Enrique grew up in privilege, with private tutors and
trainers and surrounded by servants, and he had very lit- > Pretty Boy courted all the corporate suitors. It was a
tle contact with the people and country outside his enti- dangerous game, trying to play them against each other.
tled environment. He saw Cuba obey his mother without He was good at it, but not as good as he thought.
question with no understanding of what she had done > Cosmo
to earn that respect nor why she had done it. He simply
assumed that was the natural order of things. Enrique amassed a personal fortune. Heor his sea
When he went to university at Princeton, he was fas- captainsproved particularly adept at recovering entire
cinated by the larger world and the way corporations cargos that had been stolen by pirates. The fate of the
were able to exercise power at a global level. He wanted pirates was seldom known, but Enrique would sell the
the ability to wield that same type of power. This am- cargo to whoever paid the most money for it. He always
bition, in combination with his lack of cultural context, gave the original owners first bid, but they didnt always
gave him an impression of how the Caribbean League make the highest offer.
should function that was very different from his moth- By 2052 Carlos had had enough of his brothers be-
ers vision. It would not be unreasonable to say that he havior. Or perhaps he gave up on the hope that Enrique
saw it as the Cuban League, with the Martinez family would ever embrace the dream and the mission of the
firmly in control. Martinez family that their mother had embodied. For
During his first years as president he made several whatever reason, it became generally known that Carlos
attempts to annex other League nations and make them intended to challenge his brother for the presidency in
a part of Cuba, under the pretext of making the League 2053. Unfortunately, he did not live to make good on
stronger and more cohesive. His first target was Borin- that promise. In the final week of 2052, Carlos and all

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>> HARD TARGETS <<

hands aboard his eighteen-meter motorsailer were lost CARLOS MARTINEZ


at sea. It was speculated that a waterspout or microburst (2012-2052)
had sunk the boat before they could call for help. No de-
bris or bodies were ever found. Carlos remembered life before the reforms. He saw his
mild-mannered father give his mother unstinting emo-
tional support and worked side-by-side with volunteers
> Conspiracy theorists had a field day with that. My favorite
involved dragons. The two most popular explanations distributing fliers and standing with them in the picket
were that Carlos had either been killed by the corporations
lines. He was never interested in politics, but Carlos loved
Cuba. And for him Cuba was the peopleincluding the
as a warning to Enrique to quit screwing around and toe
Cubans unable to return to the island. Attending the Uni-
the line, or he had been killed by Enrique to eliminate him
versity of Havana, he became interested in the Awakened,
as a problem and/or prove the corps that he had the balls
seeing them as evidence of Cubas deeper roots. For years
to do whatever it took to get what he wanted.
he sailed among the islands of the Caribbean League and
> Sunshine
up to Miami. His genuine interest in and commitment to
the people made him an effective, if informal, goodwill
> Yeah, its the latter. Come on, a guy with a highly skilled ambassador for his mother and her policies.
naval fleet that is very loyal to him sees his main rival When his son was born, he wanted to show him the
sunk at sea? A three-year-old could connect those dots. world. He took Ray to see pirates and Taino villages, to
> Plan 9 attend Santeria ceremonies and Catholic Masses, to see
high-tech hospitals and simple healers huts. He wanted
Enrique ruled pretty much the way he wanted to, his son to be familiar with farms and factories and artisans
without check or balance, for another fifteen years. But workshops as well as the halls of academia and power.
as the 2067 election season began, he found himself When Carlos saw Enrique taking Cuba in a different,
facing his first serious challenger: his nephew Ray Mar- dangerous direction, he realized he had no choice but to
tinez, only son of his brother Carlos. At first Enrique was take the presidency away from his brother and put the
unconcerned. Ray was still in his twenties and hadnt nation back on its rightful path. In 2052 he reached out
spent much of his time in the public eye. But early polls to the people hed formed bonds with during his years
showed the two evenly matched among the few people of sailing from island to island and garnered the support
willing to say they would vote. (Most, afraid of offending he needed to challenge his brother in the 2053 elec-
one Martinez or the other, refused to answer.) Enrique tions. In 2052, while on his way to Miami for a year-end
tried to sew up the election with gifts to the influential celebration, Carlos and his motor sloop disappeared.
and celebrations for the masses, but none of his stan- The Caribbean League Navy searched for days, but no
dard tactics gave him a significant lead. wreckage was found.
Well never know how the race would have played
out, because two weeks into the six-week election sea-
son Enrique fell from Malecon Boulevard into the water
> That pesky Bermuda Triangle.

and drowned. He was attending a gala party for his cor-


> Mika

porate supporters and had become inebriated. Witnesses


say he was sitting on the railing, joking with people when > My eye.
he simply tipped backwards and disappeared. Whether he > Plan 9
lost his balance or forgot where he was and leaned back is
not clear, but no one was touching him or close enough to RAY MARTINEZ
grab for him when he went over. A massive floral display (2044PRESENT)
marked the spot where he fell for weeks afterwards. As a child, Ray Martinez was well known to the people of
No other candidates arose to challenge Ray Martinez Cuba. The toddler trudging dutifully beside his father as
for the presidency. Carlos visited offices or clinics, the lad closely studying
any new thing he saw, and the boy exploring on his own
> This was the corps telling Enriquequite forcefullythat as his father discussed production or safety with other
his attempt to play hardball with them by killing Carlos adults. All that ended when Rays father died. The Cuban
and not giving them a choice was not appreciated. public saw nothing of Ray between the solemn eight-
> Sunshine year-old at his fathers funeral to the intense young man
challenging his uncle for the presidency.
> We all know what it is that touches you when it seems Ray Martinez had not lived those years in seclusion;
that nothing is. The crime was carried out astrally, likely hed simply done nothing to call attention to himself.
by those who cared about Cubas future and what Enrique Martinez is a common enough name that no one ever
was doing to its present. considered the earnest, perhaps even driven, young
> Man-of-Many-Names man so focused on learning everything he could about

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
RAY MARTINEZ >> HARD TARGETS <<

Metatype: Human
Sex: Male
Age: Young
economics and cultures might be the Ray Martinez.
Connection Rating: 10
He made sure the corporations and governments he
reached out to knew who he was, though, and they were Type: Personal Favor
all interested in making his acquaintance. By the time he Preferred payment method: Nuyen
was twenty-three, he had connections across the Carib- Hobbies/Vice: Nothing of Interest
bean League and beyond. That was in 2067, the year he Personal Life: None of your damn business
challenged his uncle for the presidency. Description: Ray is a quiet, determined man. As a child he
How that contest between two Martinezs would sailed the League with his father learning about all its peoples
have played out and what it would have done to Cuba
an intense, hands-on education he resumed incognito in his
will forever be a matter of conjecture. Before the politi-
cal battle was fully joined, Enrique fell from a railing and teen years. After his fathers death he became more involved
drowned. Of course there were rumors of foul playgiv- with his mothers occult practices, witnessing the raising of
en the name and the stakes how could there not be? corps cadavres and other rituals. Despite his love for Cuba
However, witnesses and security tapes were unanimous and its peopleor perhaps because of itCarlos saw no
in their testimony that no one touched Enrique, but there grey areas when it came to what was best for the nation. He
will always be debates as to whether Enrique was un- meted out swift, brutal justice untempered by mercy. Ray, no
lucky or Ray had been quicker at the draw.
stranger to the back of his fathers hand, inherited his fathers
uncompromising discipline, and everyone understands the
> Rumor has it Hanque Dofflemeyer of SK, a close friend
and suspected bed partner of Enriques, was there when
consequences of failing to meet his expectations. Because of
he fell. Apparently she had an extreme reaction to some his mothers talents there are always rumors that he curses
seafood at about the same time and was airlifted to a his enemies, including his uncle, and that he meditates in a
special clinic in the CAS immediately. chamber of skulls. There is no evidence these or any other
> Pyramid Watcher similar suppositions are true. The web of connections he
began in his youth grows more extensive and powerful every
Legend has it that when Ray saw Cubas real situation day. He has ears and eyes in the administrations of several
everything the president seesfor the first time he was
nations and corporationsmaking him a very valuable ally or
struck by an inspiration. His uncle had created the Carib-
a very dangerous adversary.
bean League Navy and had been trying at great expense
to make it powerful enough to destroy the pirates plagu-
ing the Gulf and the League. But after that, what? Atzlan
and Aztechnology were just over the horizonalong with fees program to a variety of organized criminal activi-
other corporations eager to carve the Caribbean League ties throughout Cuba supports that theory. This net ef-
into profitable little chunks. The pirates werent part of the fect was a significant increase in Cubas revenues and
League, but their attacks on the corporations assets had an overall reduction in crimeparticularly the violent,
helped make the League possible. Maybe he could con- messy kind that frightened away touristsas the gangs
tinue that relationship. So he put together a special task and crime families became self-policing.
force made up of the fast modern warships his uncle had
bought for the navy and took on the pirates one at a time. > Don Miguel is a smart man. Ray Martinez is also a smart
The show of force ensured no one came to his preys de- man. They try to keep out of each others way, but theres
fense, and that the pirate in his crosshairs would accept his only so much room on the island.
invitation to parlay before a shot was fired. He offered ev- > Kane
ery captain the same deal: A pirate licensenot privateer
commissionto operate in a proscribed area unmolested. MCILHENNY
All the pirate had to do was follow certain guidelines re-
garding types of ships and cargos and pay a fee for each Not a name most people recognize, but McIlhenny
ship taken. For the first dozen or so, the penalty for not products make soy foods tolerable, sometimes even
taking the deal was getting blown out of the water. After flavorful. Through two centuries, the McIlhenny fami-
several pirates had signed on, the consequence became a ly made Tabasco sauce of various intensities on Avery
reward to anyone who brought them down, no questions Island. Avery Island is a large salt dome surrounded by
asked. In less than six months, he had pirates and even pi- bayous in southern Louisiana. The family was dedicat-
rate kings coming to him, trying to negotiate licenses for ed to preserving the natural beauty and biodiversity
the most profitable sea routes before their competitors did. that surrounded them, so when in later years the wide-
Thats the legend. Common sense is a plan that com- spread use of soy made spices and sauces more prof-
plex and effective had been worked out months be- itable than ever before, the McIlhennys built their new
fore he challenged Enrique. The fact he had the mech- facilities farther inland. With more arable land available,
anism in place to quickly extended this license and they planted test crops of various peppers and spic-

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es. A hurricane in 2036 caused extensive damage to dence, the National Archive, the National Library, office
their inland facilities, and as climate changes affected buildings for each of the member nations and each min-
the bayous, their Avery Island plant became untenable. istry (education, health, etc.), the headquarters of some
They transplanted examples of their essential crops of the larger League corporations, luxurious short-term
to mobile hydroponic units, andwith adequate seed accommodations for visiting dignitaries, office buildings
stock and secret recipes in hand began looking for with space for various interest groups and legal firms, and
a new home. One with a good environment for their exclusive, high-end condominiums. Ten monitored gates
plants and a stable political and economic environment in the wall of columns ensure security within the district,
for their business. In 2040 Gary Monroe, eighth-gen- and a special annex was added to the ferry terminal to al-
eration McIlhenny, discovered everything they were low tourists access to the museums, galleries, and monu-
looking for in Lady Guadalupes Cuba. The discovery ments. The Caribbean League contracted Knight Errant to
that immigrants and travelers had brought varieties of provide security for and within the City of Columns. Their
peppers, cumin, and other spices from four continents exact status and jurisdictional authority relative to the
to the island clinched the deal. Today Avery Tower is a Cuban National Police has been left deliberately vague to
ten-story hydroponic farm producing high-quality pep- allow for adjustments to be made without red tape as de-
pers and spices with an adjacent plant to turn those veloping situations warrant. Cuban law enforcement of-
crops into the delicious sauces and condiments that ficers do patrol the major tourist areas and Knight Errant
make soy a meal. Avery Tower employs several hun- is authorized to accept individual security contracts that
dred agricultural and industrial workers year round. require their agents to travel anywhere in Cuba.

> The self-contained McIlhenny operation was completely > This is what you would consider a standard business
missed by the genetic plague that destroyed so many district. Corporate citizens, if they can afford it, live in
food crops. Some people believe the plague was natural, dense condos built above corporate-sponsored marketing
but it was just another weapon in the ongoing corporate areas. Its not an arcology, but they work the space
wars. efficiently. These corporate blocks are fifteen stories tall,
> Pyramid Watcher with the same neoclassical or colonial theme. So as not to
spoil the architecture, AR logos and marketing signs are

NEIGHBORHOODS >
smaller than youd see in the Americas.
Cosmo

OLD HAVANA > The restoration was massive, with various contributions
Old Havana, the original heart of the city, was found- from the member states. To cut costs and line several
ed in 1519. The wandering streets and countless alleys pockets, most of the menial work went to Chinatown
evolved over time into a maze only the locals fully un- laborers and zombie slaves.
derstand. Those streets and cobbled plazas are always > Darwin
full of life. The architecture evolved with the streets, as
materials improved and fashions changed, though Neo- CALLE MERCADERES
classicism predominates. Though storms and conflicts (MERCHANTS STREET)
have damaged over a third of the buildings, there have
The cobbled streets and restored seventeenth- and
been restoration projects over the years. Most recently
eighteenth-century architecture make visitors to the
in the late 2020s, when ruined or poorly repaired build-
Calle Mercaderes feel as though they have stepped
ings were replaced with neoclassical enclaves for the
back in time. No obviously modern devices or any
representatives from the member nations of the Ca-
vehicles that might spoil this effect are allowed in the
ribbean League. Because the district is so picturesque,
area. Virtual Agents on the local grid appear dressed
it is a favorite with tourists, who litter the streets with
as romanticized Cubans from centuries past on every
AR tags and plastics and other casual waste like bright
corner to help tourists with directions.
confetti. The emerald-green uniforms of Cuban peace
officers complement the white dresses of the Santeria
and the blues and reds of the street performers. > Romanticized means mostly pirates to the tourists,
In the 2040s a section of Old Havana centered around and the government caters to that. Anything actually left
the Plaza Vieja was set aside to become the capital of the from that period has been removed and put in museums.
Caribbean League. A wall was built, stretching south from The actual museum that was there was relocated to the
the fortress of San Salvador de la Punta to the train station, university district and the building converted into a mall
to separate the new capital from the rest of Old Havana. of authentic shops. Anyone interested in the real history
Nicknamed the City of Columns for its neoclassical archi- of Cuba can access the grid for a virtual tour.
tecture, the capital district includes the Presidential Resi- > Traveler Jones

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perience. Sanitation workers in spotless uniforms con-


> There was an extensive collection of pre-Columbian Aztec
tinuously clean and polish, restroom attendants offer
pottery at the museum of Central American Art. Guess
guests a variety of toiletry products, individual leaning
what historical displays got transferred to the presidents
chairs for matrix access without interference or ambient
shooting range? noise are always available, and every smiling person is
> Pyramid Watcher unfailingly happy to see each tourist. Antique first-class
railway cars from France, updated with modern ame-
Most of the shops along Merchants Street are high- nities, carry tourists by high-speed rail to almost any-
end boutiques targeting wealthy tourists. Chocolate, where in Cuba, and of course the bar and dining cars
spices, tobacco products, colognes, Cuban jewelry, and are always first rate. Over ten million tourists ride the
accessories are all available. But there are a few authen- trains every year and National Police Security, dressed
tic shops as well: an herbalists apothecary, a Santeria as their busboy, porter, or fellow tourist, ensures none
talismonger, and the oldest caf in all of Cuba. Caf Tab- are ever molested.
erna has been in continuous operation since 1772. Al-
most everyone who was anyone sat for at least one cup > Tickets are 50 to 150 nuyen, depending on destination. No
of their potent brew, and many traditional singers and guns, no smoking, no fun.
bands that went on to fame and fortune performed on > Traveler Jones
their tiny stage.
FLORIDITA
CENTRAL TRAIN STATION
The historic seafood restaurant and cocktail bar, most
Like everything else connected to tourism in Cuba, the famous for creating the first daiquiri and being Ernest
Central Train Station is designed to be a pleasant ex- Hemingways hangout, still attracts thousands of tour-

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ists each year. But these days its most widely known speed ferries from ports all across the Gulf Coast loaded
for what is still called Bartending School, where brew- with passengers who cant afford yachts or cruise ships.
master witches and warlocks come from all over the
world to learn or master their craft under the tutelage > Story time: In the early years, the Mafia and Lady
of Brewmaster Gladys Hemlock, and tourists come Guadalupe didnt see eye to eye on how to run Havana.
from just as far to taste their progress. Sabotage was Don Sugarcanes tactic of choice in applying
pressure to get his way.This caused some serious conflicts
> Some of the hippest potions and brewmasters have with Zobop, as the Mafias sabotage seriously raised
been coming out of Cuba.Youll find Floridita graduates at pollution levels in the bay, which degraded reagents and
Club Penumbra, Blind Beggar, Vesuvio, and Vertigo. pissed off the spirit community. Sugarcane was killed
> Kat o Nine Tales in his pool by something crawling through the pipes. That
pools drain line was clogged with Sugarcane for months.
HAVANA BAY When Don Smoke came into power, he didnt want to
Havana Bay was the main port of Cuba for over five fight both Martinez and Zobop. So he paid the Zobops
hundred years. However, generations of crumbling price and refocused the Mafias strategy.
piers and pollution eventually took their toll. In 2009 > Kane
it was determined that dredging the bay to accommo-
date the ever-larger vessels that were dominating the HAVANA TUNNEL
cargo and tourist markets would destabilize the area Cutting across the northern mouth of Entrada Canal at
around the harbor, threatening the historic heart of Havana Bay is the Havana Tunnel connecting Eastern
Havana. Facilities to meet the needs of leviathan-class Havana to Old Havana. The tunnel is built parallel to the
cruise shipsand resorts to meet the needs of their original, built in the 1950s, but deeper down (the origi-
passengerswere built outside eastern Havana and nal is long gone, destroyed in an early attempt to make
the massive project to turn Mariel Bay into a major Havana a deepawater harbor). Its 740 meters long and
port for Triple-E cargo ships was begun. Hundreds of wide enough for eight lanes of trafficfour going each
thousands of dollars were devoted to revitalizing the way, separated by closely spaced load-bearing pillars.
harbormostly cleanup of the water, removal of dete- A dual ventilation system with separate fresh air tow-
riorating piers and buildings, and clearing sunken hulks ers keeps the air breathable if not fresh. Only one lane
and other debris from the floor of the baybut it was in either direction carries cars, and another is devoted
determined that while there were ways to deepen and to scooters and cococabs. The government leases the
improve the harbor, it wouldnt be enough for the super other four lanes to street merchants, food wagons, and
ships, and it would be prohibitively expensive a growing number of more permanent commercial ten-
That was before Enrique Martinez became president. ants, including coffin motels.
He designated Havana Harbor the main base of the Ca-
ribbean League Navy, and what had been too much for > That doesnt mention the galleries above the traffic. The
a single nation to spend on boosting tourism became a idea had been safe passage for pedestrians and cyclists,
reasonable amount for the League to invest in the home but now theyre rows of shops and venders of all sorts
of its fleet. Monolithic walls, deep-earth anchors, and re- of surprising things. Its a good place for meets. Loud
taining spells were used to stabilize the banks of the En- enough to discourage eavesdropping, metal enough to
trada Canal and the harbor itself as they were widened
screw with bugs, and far enough underwater to blind
and deepened. He pushed the budget as far as he could.
GPS.
While erecting modern piers to serve the navys cruis-
ers, for example, expanding the project to upgrade the
> Traveler Jones

civilian infrastructure to facilitate supply made low-cost


logistic sense. > The Tunnel Coffin Motel is not for the claustrophobic. The
door isnt soundproof, and traffics rumbling by less than
Enrique didnt try to sell the League on completely
revitalizing the harbor district, but with the major finan- a meter from your head. And if you worry about such
cial and engineering problems solved the once unattain- things, youre buried under thousands of tons of water
able goal was in reach. The process is ongoingbetween and concrete. On the bright side, cars only crash into the
two-thirds and three-quarters complete depending on motel or shops a few times every year.
who you askbut there is now a yacht marina, tradi- > Darwin
tional piers for small, island-hopping sailboat cruises
along Ensenada de Atars, and expanded facilities for > Please. If youre too drunk or too high or just need to
intra-League trade. Perhaps the single biggest improve- crash, for five nuyen an hour you get a sturdy door that
ment, in terms of bringing in the tourist nuyen, is the locks and a safe place to pass out.
modern ferry terminal able to dock a half-dozen high- > Coral Reefer

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

KNIGHT ERRANT CASTLE is infused with the scent of cheap cigar smoke. Matrix
(SAN SALVADOR) access is unreliable and noisy. No Cuban rides Cuban
trains for fun, but all Cubans ride the trains. They are the
The Fortress of San Salvador was the sister to Morro Cas- cheapest, fastest, and (comparatively) safest way to get
tle, and the two guarded the entrance to Havana Harbor from any part of the island to another.
between them. San Salvador was destroyed by British
bombardment in 1762, and it remained a picturesque
ruin until restored to its original specswith the addi-
> Tickets are cheap, but the prices are fluid. If you look like
youre a local, two or three nuyen. If youre from another
tion of electricity and indoor plumbingas a historical
province, eight or nine. If you look like youve got money
site, museum, and park in 1997. In 2062, on the three
or from somewhere off island, the skys the limit. Expect
hundredth anniversary of its destruction, Cuba signed a
to pay at least thirty nuyen.
contract with Knight Errant to secure the City of Columns
and Havana Harbor and gave them ships in Havana Bay. > Darwin
While there was no official name change, most people
call it Knight Errant Castle. Their flag flies from the ram- > Quick note on weapons and armor. Visible weapons
parts, and their colors have been added throughout as require a transportation fee. Thats usually about twenty-
accents to native granite blocks. Knight Errant has add- five nuyen to a hundred nuyen, using Darwins payment
ed two helicopter pads, modern perimeter security, and schedule. Hidden weapons are free. Unless they catch
two rapid-deployment ramps for small watercraft on you. Then you get ejected from a moving train. On the
the canal and bay side. The exterior front of the fortress, bright side, they arent all that fast. No charge for body
plus a tiny museum and souvenir shop, are open to the armor, but if youre wearing heavy stuff theres going to be
tourists. Children twelve and under are issued honorary a betting pool on how long before the heat and humidity
Knight Errant badges. take you out.
> Traveler Jones
> Knight Errant got a really rad pad out of the deal. Not
to mention that even though this is a tiny contract for > Who polices the train?
Ares, its a foot in the door that may lead to operations > Turbo Bunny
throughout the League.
> Darwin > No one and everyone. You pay the fees before you get on
board. Some of your fellow passengers might be cops, or
> More like kept out of the way. The president didnt let train security, gang members, or peaceful citizens on their
them get close enough to work their way into the hearts way home. You dont know. The important thing is that for
of the other nations in the League. Also, Cuba can rent the all their individualism, Cubans stick together. When the
space they would have taken up in the city to corporations guy who spots your hidden gun gives a shout, the whole
for ten times the nuyen. cars going to help him throw you off the train.
> BTL Bailey
> Coral Reefer

LA COUBRE TRAIN STATION MORRO CASTLE


La Coubre, named for the French munitions freighter Morro Castle sits at the entrance of Havana Bay, oppo-
that exploded mysteriously in the 1960s, is the central site Knight Errant Castle. Of the four fortresses built to
train station for Cuban nationals. Tourists and foreign- protect Havana, its the only one thats an active mil-
ers are directed to the Central Train Station. Where the itary installation. Morro Castle has been refitted with
tourist trains emphasize comfort and luxury, everything missile batteries and anti-aircraft defense systems and
about the citizens trains speaks to efficiency and econ- connected to La Cabaa. Ares gave a sizable allotment
omy. Nothing is broken, but everything is worn. All of of ten-year-old ordnance as a gift to President Enrique
the fixtures, furniture, and equipment are either cheap while they subleased Guantanamo Bay. There was no
industrial grade or salvaged from the tourist lines. This quid pro quo, as far as anyone knows, though there
sometimes makes for unusual juxtapositions, such was probably a long-term investment in future business
as an uninsulated train car with plastic benches and opportunities with the Martinez family. Its no coinci-
brocade carpeting. There is no plumbing, commodes
dence that the new navy docks are directly under Mor-
are seats over holes in the floor just as they were on
ros protection.
trains a century and a half ago, and any food or drink
is brought aboard by the passengers. There is no air
conditioning, just air circulating through open window
PASEO MART
frames that can be covered with translucent panels in Paseo Mart runs south from Knight Errant Castle to Fra-
a storm. Smoking is allowed, and every porous surface ternity Park and marks the border between Central Ha-

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
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vana and Old Havana. It is popular with tourists more


interested in Cuba than Cuban nightlife, shade trees
> Hired a few runners to correct the history in a few of those
episodes. They conflated me with Chocolat on more than
and marble benches are conveniently spaced along its
one occasionthats just sloppy. Had my people add
broad sidewalks and a discreet army of cleaners keeps
some AR from the actual fights to try and breathe some
everything spotless. Perhaps the only thing marring the
life into those crappy simulations.
streets perfection is the wall surrounding the City of
Columns obscuring what should be a view of the bay. > Kane
Museums line the street on either side, separated by
little pockets of greenery and perhaps a fountain. Political PLAZA VIEJA
and social museums predominatethe Museum of the Decades ago, the Plaza Vieja was restored to its orig-
Revolution chronicles Fidel Castros rise to power, the Na- inal beauty. The parking lot surrounding the dry foun-
poleonic Museum showcases Napoleons life and French tain was replaced with hand-fit stones, and the foun-
culture of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centu- tain itself restored. All plastics, concrete, or anything
ries with the largest dedicated collection outside of France, else modern was taken out of the two-story houses
and the Museum of Independence which features the his- that ring the plaza and replaced with original materials.
tory of the Caribbean League with particular emphasis on There are no addresses on Plaza Vieja; each building
the Martinez family. The Museo de Historia Natural is dedi- is an individual, known by its name. But while no two
cated to the plants and animals of the Caribbean, including are alike, they share common features that express an
metaspecies, and El Capitolio, the Science Academy, hosts openness to the world around them: broad windows
an overview of technological development, particularly that fill the rooms with light and fresh air, spacious bal-
sailing ships, and their impact on culture. There are art mu- conies, and high ceilings allow breezes to blow free-
seums, of course, where one can find original works by Cu- ly through. The result was a harmonious flow of mana
ban mastersGaraicoa, Leal, Snchez, Mario, Estvez within to plaza with little background count stemming
along with exciting new works by contemporary artists. from the revitalized fountain.
There are a few art galleries and shops that specialize
in local crafts where well-heeled tourists can buy exam- > Youd expect some background count from all the
ples of authentic Cuban art. Mr. Orsel, the owner of Em- bullfights, executions, and fiestas the plaza witnessed
bargo, Inc., stages a few 1950s-vintage American cars over the years. Repetitive events have impact. Maybe the
on the street as a photo op for tourists. Its doubtful any flow from the fountain has washed them away.
could afford one of his vehicles, but he never tires of tell- > Abracadavre
ing anyone interested about the history of cars in Cuba.
Fraternity Park, at the southern end of the street, was Though the buildings around the plaza were once
originally built to celebrate the friendship and common homes and are called houses, very few are private
spirit of all nations in the Americas. During the VITAS dwellings today. Most of the houses are restaurants
years, the bronze sculptures representing the countries and coffee shops catering to customers who appreciate
and cultures of the two continents and the Caribbean their surroundings. A few are bed and breakfasts, with
were stolen. They werent replaced until Enrique Marti- bedrooms on the upper floor, and a rarer few have sec-
nez commissioned new ones, reflecting how the world ond-floor apartments for the impeccable renter. Two are
had changed, including statues for the major corpora- cabarets. Discreet AROs, isolated from the environment,
tions. Atzlan is not represented. Security maintains a give new visitors guidance in finding what theyre look-
highly visible presence to prevent vandalism or theft. ing for.
Surprisingly enough, there are places to stay on
Paseo Mart, usually above or behind the shops and gal- ZHAO TONG MARINA
leries. Their prices are prohibitive.
Sculptures of colorful dragons swimming under the
water guide boats into Zhao Tong Marina, an engaging
> International friendship? Crazy dictators would be more
fusion of Cuban and Chinese cultures. The docks that
like it. Of course, pointing that out in public could get you
once served small freighters have been converted into
shot.
dozens of slips for motor yachts and other pleasure
> Pyramid Watcher
craft twelve meters or smaller. The cranes have been
replaced with fueling stations and the stacks of cargo
> The better show is at the Academy of Sciences, where containers are gone. In their place are shops for bait,
they have on display a real pirate ship and a history of tackle, fast food, and incidentals people often forget
ships and piracy in Cuba. They have a room where you when traveling. Zhao Tong is a businessman who made
can sit down and watch all sixty episodes of Cyberpirates his fortune betting on Cubas futurewith particular
of the Caribbean. skill in buying cheap real estate decades before it be-
> Swash and Buckle came worth a fortune. Though Zhao Tong lives in Ha-

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

ORSEL ALVAREZ Type: Personal Favor, networking


Preferred payment method: Service (free-labor jobs)
Metatype: Elf
Hobbies/Vice: Social habits (smoking)
Sex: Male
Personal Life: Single
Age: Middle age
Description: Zhao Tong is one of the last old-school private
Connection Rating: 3
investors and lodge master for the Sleeping Dragon under Waves.
Type: Shadow Service
He is 127 years old, and lenization treatments arent as effective
Preferred payment method: Cash (credstick)
as they once were. Mr. Tong has lived in Cuba since the days of
Hobbies/Vice: Weapons (blades)
Fidel and has invested in many projects and ventures over the
Personal Life: Familial relationships
years. He now enjoys the comfort decades of shrewd investments
Description: Embargo, Inc., owned by Orsel Alvarez, fabricates
have earned him. He lives in Fidels old home, which he has
authentically detailed century-old car bodies for modern chassis.
arranged to be converted into a museum after he dies.
Even after several generations, the 1950s American car is still a
mark of very special status in Cuba. Dont be surprised to see a
successful Cuban rigger inordinately proud of his classy looking GLADYS HEMLOCK
antique. Embargo, Inc., is where you need to go for a quality Metatype: Human
vehicle tricked out in Caribbean style. Sex: Female
Age: Young
Connection Rating: 3
MARIA JAUREGUI Type: Networking
Metatype: Human Preferred payment method: Service (shadowrunner job)
Sex: Female Hobbies/Vice: Bad habits (illegal drugs)
Age: Middle age Personal Life: In relationship
Connection Rating: 2 Description: Gladys is the latest brewmaster witch working
Type: Support at the Floridita. She teaches small classes of Awakened students
Preferred payment method: Currency the art of entertainment and pouring various popular drinks.
Hobbies/Vice: Nothing of interest or of use
Personal Life: In relationship
Description: Maria Jauregui runs the Caf Taberna. While she
HOST: EL FLORIDITA
tolerates the tourists who bring in so much revenue, she resents Rating Attack Sleaze Data Proc. Firewall
how they dilute the ambiance by ordering soykaf and (soy formed) 3 6 3 4 5
pork steak. Shed much prefer to share a meal with her friends
while listening to son nuevo music. She reserves balcony seating Installed IC: Crash x 2, Jammer
for her friends to enjoy their meals undisturbed. Slaved Devices: Security Cameras x 3, Door Locks
Spiders: None
Sculpting: The Floridita is sculpted as a room with a large
ZHAO TONG cauldron surrounded by multiple shelves of ingredients. The
Metatype: Human correct combination of ingredients in the proper order must be
Sex: Male added to the cauldron to access cameras, locks, and paydata.
Age: Old Too many mistakes and nasty zombie-like IC emerge from the
Connection Rating: 7 cauldron.

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vana, on rare occasion he stays aboard his luxury junk grey water from irrigation systems. Getting caught
docked at the marina. trying to steal clean water means a beating from police
and citizens.
> The marina looks very high end, unless you look deep. > Darwin
Instead of cleaning up, he paved everything over and
sealed it under a half meter of concrete. One of the best places to eat here is the Santa
> Kane Dorotea de Luna de la ChorreraChorrera Fortress
for short. Chorrera was built in the sixteenth century
> For those who dont know: Zhao Tongs family has been to defend the mouth of the river, one of a chain of
investing in Cuba since the communist revolution. Hes fortresses built along the coast. It even had a moat
been here almost that long. There were rumors he was still does, though its dry. Cross the drawbridge and
one of the shadowy board members for Wuxing. But youll find sixteenth century Spanish armor and brass
those swimming dragons are his way of telling those who canons, all beautifully restored, positioned along the
understand that hes with the Triad. walls of a classic Spanishnot Cubanrestaurant. The
> Swash and Buckle restaurant also has a boat for patrons who would like
to dine at sea.

PLAYA
> Theyre not the only ones serving up meals on the water.
From the Almendares River in the east to Santa Fe in Capn Jacks got an eight-meter open motor launch set up
the west, this costal region has become the commer- with a grill and a deep fryer. He cruises out to the sport
cial hub of Havana. Martinez had wanted the unsightly fishing and tour boats and prepares whatever the tourists
industrial works along the west end of the bay removed have caught right before their eyes. Its dinner and a show
as part of restoring and romanticizing Havana and its if he doesnt burn his boat down to the waterline.
harbor. He chose Hemingway Marina and the Jaima-
nitas River as their new location, far enough west to
> Swash and Buckle

be out of sight but not so far as to present transporta-


tion problems. Construction for the industrial port de-
CHAN SENG BOWLING
stroyed the once beautiful estuary, and its daily opera- Chan Seng Bowling always catered to the local families,
tionsincluding small but frequent oil spills or chemical not the tourists. Twenty lanes and a kid-friendly eat-
leakssoon made the area toxic. Residents who could ery tucked between the fancy restaurants and cocktail
afford to moved out, selling their homes for fractions of lounges and the warehouses. Now its tucked between
what theyd paid or abandoning them. Residents who cheap dives and abandoned buildings. The roof leaks
couldnt afford to leave made do the best they could of and the lanes are warped and rotting. The only thing
blackened beaches, treeless parks, and filter masks for thats expanded is the eatery, mismatched tables and
the whole family. chairs everywhere except on the lanes. They serve
cheap soy and an array of spices that should be ex-
> Pretty Boy ruined that area because he wanted to keep the pensive but arent in order to make the food taste any
tankers and cargo ships close to his navy. It was a stopgap way you like. No one cares who you are or what your
measure meant to last only until Mariel was upgraded story is, and people trying to get off the island sit next
> Swash and Buckle to people who jumped ship to get on the island. Its a
good place to not get noticed.
ALMENDARES RIVER
In its last stretch down to the sea the Almendares Riv-
HEMINGWAY MARINA
er divides Seaside from Revolution Plaza. There was Prior to 2035 Hemingway was an upper-middle-class
a time when the water was cleanin fact it was the and working-class community. The upper middle class
source of fresh water in that part of the city. Of course, had jobs that paid enough for a good house and a boat
that was before an oil refinery, a rum distillery, a waste big enough to need a slip in the marina. (There was also
material recycling plant, and a couple of factories that a small fleet of local fishing boats, but they had their
dont advertise their purpose were built along its banks. own docks some distance from the marina.) The work-
Enrique Martinez built desalination plants off the coast ing class cleaned those good houses and big boats,
of Seaside to try and make up for the loss. Even so, and did pretty much everything else their employers
fresh water has to be rationed. didnt want to do. All that changed when Martinez de-
cided the Almenadares estuary was a perfect short-
> That water is brought to storage tanks, and each citizen term location for an industrial port. The government
is assigned a specific tank for getting their water. The offered the residents relocation deals, moving them to
squatters and those living in the barrens have to use renovated parts of Havana. Then they bulldozed the

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

houses and small business to make room for ware-


houses and cranes. Commercial wharfs replaced the
boat dockssome of them in the Almendares River it- CAPO JOSEPH ESRICH
self. The entire cargo and oil facility is still called Hem- Metatype: Human
ingway Marina and several thousand people work the
Sex: Male
docks and warehouses, but no one lived there while
the port was in operation. Age: Young
Connection Rating: 3
> The relocation deals were lopsided. The ones with money Type: Networking
or connections did all right, but a lot of working people Preferred payment method: Barter (food stuffs)
gave up homes theyd worked for and got dumped in Hobbies/Vice: Social Habits (Eating)
public tenements. Personal Life: Single
> Swash and Buckle Description: Capo Jose is a heavyset man whos
comfortable collecting fees and eating seafood. The Don was
In 2045 the Mariel Bay Port project was compet-
not pleased with his inability to secure more businesses for
ed, and ninety-nine percent of the traffic that had been
using Hemingway Marina switched to the new, huge, the Family when the government was looking for someone
thoroughly modern complex. There are still a few legiti- to buy out their operations. Esrich was happy with the way
mate ships using the marinagypsy freighters carrying things were, and his bids to take on more work and headaches
island trade, a couple of budget operationsbut most were half-hearted at best. These days several pirate gangs
of the traffic these days wouldnt stand up to close in- are lighting fires under Capo Esrich, trying to motivate him to
spection. For a fee anyone can dock for fuel and repairs become more involved in the neighborhood and to take over
or transfer cargo and passengers. For a few more nuy-
the Hemingway Marina.
en, no one will remember you were there. There are
a bars catering to whoever crews the ships, brothels,
places to eat that are almost restaurants, even a cou- COMMODORE DIAZ
ple of half-decent, semi-legitimate places to buy and
sell contraband, and a few places to stay that are not Metatype: Dwarf
overrun by vermin. The marina has a few permanent Sex: Male
residents. Some have been there since before the ma- Age: Middle age
rina went commercial, too stubborn to leave when they Connection Rating: 3
had the chance. Others are more recent arrivals, drawn Type: Legwork, Shadow Service
by the financial opportunities offered by the new envi-
Preferred payment method: Cash (credstick)
ronment. Perhaps the most famous resident is Commo-
dore Diaz, the harbormaster. Hobbies/Vice: Family Obligations
Personal Life: Family
> Commodore Diaz has built his own little kingdom among Description: Commodore Diaz isnt a seafaring man, but
the docks. With his four sons and some good trade he likes the concept. He lives on the well-maintained remains
negotiations, he managed to sew the place up before the of a yacht abandoned ages ago. He appointed himself
Batista. He still pays them a percentage in addition to his harbormaster when the government left and gave himself the
government fees, but other than that hes pretty much rank of commodore to remind boat captains of their relative
autonomous. authority. Today Diaz, along with his four sons, operates the
> Kane
fuel refinery, the power and water stations, and a small but
well-equipped repair dry dock. If you need to get a ship into
> Not everyone likes this. Pirates and smugglers who use
shipshape, take it to the Commodore at Hemingway Marina.
the marina have to pay the Commodore, the Batista, and
the president to do business. They want to cut out the
middlemen, and the Commodore is the most vulnerable.
> Swash and Buckle
> Someones been trying to get Capo Esrich to take over the
marina.They may have finally met his price. Word is Esrich
and Diaz have been having some heated exchanges.
> BTL Bailey

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>> HARD TARGETS <<

REVOLUTION PLAZA
While Old Havana is the soul of Cuba, Revolution Plaza
is its spirit. Many millions of dollars were spent restor-
ing the Plaza and rebuilding the surrounding neighbor-
hood. With enough casinos, lounges, and hotels to give
Vegas a run for its money, Revolution Plaza delivers
enough spectacle and entertainment to keep tourists
delighted as they go broke. Four million SINners every
year do exactly that.

> Speaking of Vegas, the majority of the interior fixtures,


furniture, and decorations were purchased wholesale
from Las Vegas. A tax-deductible gift from the Verontesse
family to the Batista family.
> Plan 9

CHRISTOPHER
COLUMBUS CEMETERY
Close by Revolution Square is the Christopher Colum-
bus Cemetery, more widely known as the Necropolis
Cristobal Colonone hundred and forty acres of mau-
soleums holding the remains of well over a million in-
dividuals. Built in 1896, the necropolis has fallen into
ruin and been restored several times, with varying
success. The architecture throughout, beginning with
the massive wrought-iron gate set in a towering arch
at the main entrance, was designed by Calixo Arellano
de Loira to remind all of us that death comes equal-
ly to paupers and kings. Originally all were welcome,
but these days, once death had come to them, only the
wealthy and powerful are interred here. Or cremated
and niched. The common people may conduct funeral
services in the chapels here before transporting the de-
parted to a more modest final resting place. As with the
Cities of the Dead in New Orleans, the Necropolis Cris-
tobal is the site of daily celebrations of life and death,
sometimes several in a single day. The ceremonies and
attire of faiths brought by exiles from all the Americas
blend in a kaleidoscope of worship. Tourists, wander-
ing among the beautiful monuments of marble and
granite, often mistake these celebrations for shows.
Occasionally tourists will be startled by the appearance
of a zombie or similar apparition. Also wandering the
alleys of the necropolis are peddlers of charms, bless-
ings, and mystical protectionsall of dubious value, as
their sole purpose is to separate gullible tourists from
their nuyen.

> The zombies are as fake as the charms and blessings.


Theyre street performers, painted like distressed marble
to fool the tourists. Only Mama Pauvre controls zombies
at the cemetery, and they arent there to entertain the
tourists.
> Abracadavre

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
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The Central Chapel of the necropolis is an imposing But she wanted it done right, everything meticulously
octagon of Mediterranean design. Funereal services of restored to its former grandeur, but with all the conve-
all faiths can, by special arrangement, still be conducted niences of the twenty-first century. It took time, but in
in the sanctuary on the ground floor, but the rest of the 2038, the Hotel Nacional reopened. By day the hotel
building is off limits. The Central Chapel is the home of lobby, filled with memorabilia and ARO recordings of
Mama Pauvre of the Zobop. There are chambers in the events associated to the hotel, is always open to the
upper floors that can be rented for various ritual cere- publicas are the Starlight Terrace Bar and the Parisin
monies, and Mama Pauvre is more than happy to supply Casino. But when evening comes, anyone who is not
materials and music appropriate to the service. Unbe- a guest must leave. If anyone who is not connected
knownst to the tourists and most Cubans, catacombs tries to make a reservation at the Hotel Nacional, they
beneath the mausoleums allow special clientele access discover the hotels five hundred rooms, fifteen suites,
and secret places for more unique ceremonies. and even the presidential suite are always booked for
the foreseeable future.
> Nothing stays buried for long here if it can be put to
good use. > Following the money trail: The government sold it to the
> Darwin Batista for reasons unknown just before it opened. Batista
immediately sold it to the Vory to pay a debt. And from
In the crypts beneath the Central Chapel are an auction that moment to this, the deals have been on a constant
house of zombies, corps cadavres, Sukuyan slaves, and spin cycle. Six months ago the Batista took possession,
Awakened creatures and plants. Necromancers and alche- again, and then sold it to the Triad in a turf settlement. The
mists, mainly of the Obeah tradition, can create magical Triad sold it to Zobop for no reason. They immediately
compounds to enslave both the living and the dead. Awak- turned around and sold it to the Vory, who as we speak
ened individuals can find reagents or restricted Awakened are negotiating a sale with the Batista. You get the idea.
drugs at the Central Chapel. The steep admission price en- It looks like chaos, but thats all it is: looks. Nothing is
sures that only serious buyers attend, and all transactions really happening. No funds change hands and day to day
must be conducted in person. The meters-thick stone walls operation of the hotel is seamless. All parties concerned
are the least of the crypts defenses. are cooperating in a whiteout-level snow job.
> The Chromed Accountant
> The rules of what can and cant be done by practitioners
of Voudoun or Obeah are set by generations of tradition. This is because the hotel is neutral ground, set aside for
But in the Zobop, under Mama Pauvre, its a bit different. criminal organizations to negotiate their differences. The
She follows the common rules of conduct they all do to upper floors contain conference rooms with dedicated
avoid conflict, and shell show respect for the tradition of communications, trid projectors, and house spiders to pre-
whoever shes dealing with. But thats just for business. vent any conversations from being overheard or recorded.
For the Zobop, Mama Pauvres word is law. Summits are rare, but not unheard of. To end or prevent a
war, the heads of the organizations meet. Otherwise they
> Abracadavre
send representatives or officers to negotiate. But not just
the conference rooms are neutralthe whole place is.
> Mama Pauvre looks and acts sweet, but thats the danger.
Anyone from any organization with enough money and
All of the Zobop are very persuasive and good at putting
clout can stay here without worry. The one ironclad rule:
you at ease. Just remember: Even though she reminds
Dont bring your work to the Nacional. A Mr. Winston
you of your grandmother, those are not cookies shes
oversees the hotel, the casino, and everything else at the
asking you to deliver. Hotel Nacional. Inside that building his word is law; thats
> Traveler Jones recognized by all the bosses. The neutral zone is valuable
negotiations at the hotel there have saved them millions of
HOTEL NACIONAL nuyenand they wont jeopardize it. Anyone who breaks
From the 1930s through the 1950s, the Hotel Nacio- the rules is on their own against Mr. Winston.
nal was the address of choice for anyone who was
anyone when they were in Cuba. American movie > Mr. Winston acts as though hes completely independent,
stars, famous musicians, dignitaries, and even a few but he can bring serious firepower to bear fast if he needs
monarchs stayed in its luxury suites. It was here that to. Theres speculation hes got the backing of the Vory or
American Mafia and the Costa Nostra held their first Batista or one of the others, but he couldnt be and remain
summit. When Castro came to power, ostentatious neutral. My personal theory is hes working for Martinez.
displays of wealth fell out of favor, and the grand build- And I think the bosses are good with that.The government
ing rotted from neglect for decades. Lady Guadalupe helping the mobs keep orderits all very Cuban.
ordered its restoration the first year she was in power. > Plan 9

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>> HARD TARGETS <<

REVOLUTION SQUARE > Yeah, thats if the guys sober enough to get to one and
Revolution Square is 72,000 square meters of open operate it. Speaking of which, there is another service that
space. What was a place of politics and protests has the Plaza provides: a cheap DocWagon knockoff bracelet.
evolved into the biggest party venue of the Caribbean. If you pass out, theyll send someone to pick you up.
Cubas ministries had migrated to Old Havana, which > Coral Reefer
was becoming the capital of the League under Enrique,
and Revolution Square sat mostly empty until Ray Mar- Che Guevaras image now shares space with Lady
tinez came to power. The ugly Soviet-era office build- Guadalupe, the two looking out over the Plaza. Small-
ings were converted into first-class casinos and hotels, er images of Enrique Martinez and Garcia Batista look
all run unobtrusively by the government. The casinos down from hotel walls.
Lucky Luciano, San Souci, and the Flamingoare the
big draws and the big moneymakers. Bands play for > The Jos Mart Memorial is still there. During the day its
people dancing in the square, which is illuminated by an AR travel guide with a simplified historical commentary.
drone lighting that pulses to the music. Security is ev- By night all politics disappear behind light effects, and it
erywhere but undercover, keeping the tourists laying becomes a guide to musicians and bands around the plaza.
the golden eggs safe without being seen. > Traveler Jones

> The Flamingo is technically operated by the Batista. > Things have come full circle. Under El Hombre Batistas
But if youre getting down to that level of detail, you rule, his family ran casinos and had a million slot machines.
might as well say the Flamingo belongs to the Russian When Fidel came into power, he not only kicked out the
government. Theyre the ones who underwrote the Batista family, he destroyed all the casinos and gambling
Flamingos construction. houses. After Castro was gone the Batista family returned,
> Plan 9 made a deal with Ray Martinez, and brought the casinos
back to Cuba.
> You could say the same for Lucky Lucianos, but that > Kane
money trail leads to CAS. DSI anyone?
> The Chromed Accountant VEDADO
At night the plaza itself is one large dance clubor Vedado used to mean a forbidden place, a jungle buf-
several, depending on your perspective. Bands from fer between the town and pirates along the coast. Now
its all paved over. Between Seaside and Central Havana,
traditional to trending to everything in between stake
Vedado is a mundane expanse of dry cleaners, electri-
out positions just far enough apart not to interfere with
cians, plumbers, mechanics, and the hundreds of other
each other. Rolling bars and food wagons, specializing
small jobs that keep Havana running. The residents who
in shots and bite-sized morsels, follow winding circuits
live in the tracts of tiny houses or the Soviet-era condos
through the venue. Jinteros and jinteraslicensed street
spend their lives trying to earn enough nuyen to pay the
performers who might be sleight-of-hand magicians,
obligatory bribes and still have enough left over for food
acrobats, dance partners, or prostitutesmingle with
and rent. There is a modest nightlife. People come to
the tourists who think theyre experiencing the forbid-
clubs like Zorra, Gato, the Don, and few others to hear
den side of Havana. Theres no place to sit in this active
music and musicians from other parts of the Americas.
landscape. You eat, drink, and keep on dancing.
But like the tourists, Cubans with money to spend on en-
tertainment either head north to the Malecn for food
> The only places to sit are the courtyards of the casinos
and music or east to Revolution Square to gamble and
and hotels. They serve up delicious but pricey meals or party like its their last day on Earth.
cocktails that always include a few free chips to lure you
to the gaming tables.
CENTRAL HAVANA
> Pistons
> Public urination was a problem at Revolution Square, Central Havana is the citys primary shopping district.
even when spotless public restrooms could be accessed Malls and stores line the streets to entice the tourist with
from any courtyard. Guys who drank too much seemed tailored clothes, bottles of Havana Club rum, Cohiba Cu-
to think it was too far to walk. Havanas civil engineers ban cigars, and expensive cars. Down less mainstream
solved the problem by installing a dozen S-K popup paths are red-light districts for prostitution and BTL dens.
urinals. Activated by commlink, they move up and down
quickly enough to be moderately discreet. CHINATOWN
> BTL Bailey Once populated exclusively by Chinese Cubans, these
barrens have become home to hundreds of thousands

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

CAPO PEREZ SUAVE ANGULO through the central chapel, examining the wares before they are
put out for sale. In the Crypt below, she also takes special care
Metatype: Ork
of the zombies and corps cadavres, making sure that they are
Sex: Male
presentable and that when auctioned off for servitude, they will
Age: Young
not be abused.
Connection Rating: 4
Type: Networking
Preferred payment method: Service (shadowrunner job) MR. WINSTON
Hobbies/Vice: Social Habit (Smoking) Metatype: Human
Personal Life: In a relationship Sex: Male
Description: Capo Suave, as the ladies call him, has the Age: Middle
constitution to drink anyone under the table, dance until all hours, Connection Rating: 6
and be an engaging conversationalist on into daylight. He also Type: Networking or Legwork
has the latest tech to record every embarrassing act, blurted Preferred payment method: Service (shadowrunner job)
secret, and damaging admission made by the unwary and the Hobbies/Vice: Personal Grooming (Clothes)
inebriated, as he remains stone-cold sober and alert throughout. Personal Life: Divorced
You have security to prevent that? Hes got the nuyen and dirty Description: Mr. Winston is a charming gentleman with a
secrets to make them look the other way. He briefs the Don daily cultivated English accent who runs the Hotel Nacional. While
on interesting discoveries and can ferret out any information the not a Cuban, he has made Cuba his home, and his obvious love
Don might need to influence events. Capo Suave lives for the now, for the island and his personal charm put his customers at ease.
and the long term doesnt interest him; anything, any information Mr. Winston is very selective when it comes to guests at the
he trades for must be immediately valuable. Hotel Nacional. Anyone presentable and well behaved can party
at the hotels Parisin Casino until 5 p.m. But unless you have a
MAMA PAUVRE good reputation or belong to family, youll find yourself on the
pavement at 5:05 at the latest.
Metatype: Human
Sex: Female
Age: Old HOST: HOTEL NACIONAL
Connection Rating: 9 Rating Attack Sleaze Data Proc. Firewall
Type: Swag, Legwork, or Personal Favor
7 10 8 9 7
Preferred payment method: Service (shadowrunner job)
Hobbies/Vice: Entertainment (Music) Installed IC: Binder, Blaster x 2, Marker, Probe, Tar Baby, Track
Personal Life: Widowed Slaved Devices: Cameras, Door and Window Locks,
Description: Mama Pauvre looks like everyones ideal of a Conference Room Communications.
little old lady as she sits in her rocking chair, humming quietly Spiders: 2
and knitting. Dont mind that she does this in the middle of a Sculpting: Hotel Nacional is sculpted in realistic form and
cemetery. She is old school when she oversees the delivery physics. Extra floors for multiple virtual conference rooms expand
of reagents and the necropolis marketplace. She has a pad of the number of existing floors to twelve. IC appears as stereotypical
electronic paper to scribble notes and orders on as she walks Mafia muscle carrying various forms of weapons.

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

of impoverished refugees from all across the Americas. PARTAGAS


All are looking for worknot just to eat, but because
Not far from the Academy of Science, youll be hit in the
applying for citizenship with all its benefits requires a
face with the aroma of curing tobacco and confronted
steady, paying job. Theyll take any menial task, doing
by the great colonial edifice of Cubas oldest cigar facto-
the things no one else will to maintain the more de-
ry, still in operation: Partagas. Anyone interested can get
sirable parts of the city. Of course, not being citizens
a virtual tour showing all the painstaking steps that go
means the refugees get no rations, so theyll do any job.
into making an authentic premium Cuban cigar. Actual
Like accept conscription on a ship so their family will
production takes place behind several layers of sophis-
eat. The Triad recruits refugees to smuggle and distrib-
ticated securityostensibly to prevent any product or
ute BTLs, and that market has been expanding as BTLs
secrets from being stolen. A bit farther down the road
supplant drugs as the users escape of choice.
is the Bellos factorywhich was the Upmann factory
Chinatown has become a warren of dilapidated
before the Bellos family bought it from the government
buildingscrowded shacks with narrow paths where
when they returned from exile. A much more modern
streets once were, push all the way to the Malecn sea-
complex with equally aggressive security producing
wall. From Paifang at the entrance to Chinatown proper,
both cigars and essence of Cuban cigars for the e-mar-
places like Ten Yuan Wok and Disco Chans and a doz-
ket. Across the street is the governments own cigar pro-
en other shops huddle under faded awnings on Cuchil-
duction facility, Corona, where very limited runs of a va-
lo Streetthe only completely Chinese section of the
riety of old-fashioned, handmade cigars are produced.
neighborhood left.
Yes, women make up most of the workforce; no, they do
not roll the cigars on their thighs.
> Chinatown went from a population of 30,000 at the time
With real tobacco of the quality these cigars require
of the VITAS outbreak to around 300,000 today. Early
being so scarce, all of the big three produce only enough
immigrants came from the League itselflooking for
to meet strict quotas and maintain the highest quality
new opportunities in Cuba. The latest big wave consisted
control throughout every step of the process. Between
mainly of refugees fleeing the AZ-AM war. the three are half a dozen smoke shops where anyone
> Baka Dabora can buy real and electronic cigars.

MALECON BOULEVARD > Therere no smoke-free zones or posted warnings about


The Malecon Boulevard stretches west along the health hazards in this neighborhood. Unless you count
north coast from the Havana Tunnel past Vedado to Dont even think of complaining about the smell. Expect
the Almendares River bridge. Long ago it was a ro- hard stares from Cuban law enforcement personnel who
mantic trail favored by poets and romantics, but may or may not be chomping on their free cigar. One
progress brought traffic and it eventually grew to premium Cuaba a week is the perk for keeping everything
be a six-lane highway. In recent decades major traf- safe and quiet.
fic arteries have been moved inland due to frequent > Kane
and severe storms. Storms that prompted the Cuban
government to erect a seawall to protect Old Havana > Stealing cigars from any of them is out of the question.
from ever-increasing storm surges. The seawall was But because Bellos produces more tobacco essence than
built up from the foundation of the six-lane highway, cigars, theres a greater chance to pilfer tobacco leaves
and a new, narrower Malecon Boulevard runs along unnoticed. Especially since they have deals with some
its crest. Malecon Boulevard is restricted to pedestri- growers to get a few kilos above quota.
an and pedal-vehicle traffic. It provides an excellent
view of the sea to the north and historic Havana to the
> Coral Reefer

south, and staircases allow people from the Boulevard


to descend into entertainment districts such as Veda- REGLA
do. The view of Havana is unspoiled because artfully Regla is east of Old Havana on Havana Bay. In the nine-
placed awnings, walls, and stands of trees completely teenth century it was a town settled by freed slaves, but
hide Chinatown and other impoverished areas from it became a part of Havana and then a commercial and
above. Needless to say, no stairways lead down into military district. The revitalization of Havana Bay has
those neighborhoods. just reached Regla, and some of the docks and build-
ings are being restored or replaced. But the waterfront
> Many of the old buildings nearest the boulevard were areas not taken up by the Navy Yard are still dominated
allowed to collapse as a barrier to add more distance by rusting refineries and abandoned canneries look-
between the residents in barrens and the tourists on ing out over water stained with tar and diesel waste.
the wall. Theres a sixteenth-century church just meters from the
> Darwin sea where womenstanding ankle deep in oily water

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

at high tidesing and pray to Yemay, the orisha of the


sea. Some unique and striking examples of Afro-Cu-
ban sculpture and painting can be found in the many CAPO OSCAR CHUYN
impromptu art shows, and the residents maintain the Metatype: Human
parks, which are frequented by performers and travel-
Sex: Male
ing beer wagons.
Age: Young
> Unless youre a local, get some filters and boosts to your Connection Rating: 4
immunity. Those beer wagons are very unsanitary; even Type: Networking
the fermented drinks can be unsafe. Preferred payment method: Cash (credstick)
> Swash and Buckle Hobbies/Vice: Nothing of interest or of use
Personal Life: Single
NAVAL YARD Description: Oscar Chuyn is the only Chinese Batista in
While its sometimes dismissed as the Pretty Boy the family. A native of Chinatown, he joined the Three-Five
Navy, the Caribbean League Navy stationed in Regla gang as a kid and worked his way quickly up the ranks,
is nothing to trifle with. While Enrique did, for the most becoming the gangs leader at twenty-four. He was ruthless
part, purchase last-generation warships, he spared no and ambitious, leading the Three-Five gang against both the
expense in getting them upgraded and refitted with Habaneros and the Black Dahlia gangs for a bigger piece
modern weapons and sensors. Among its more mod-
of Central Havana and Revolution Plaza. The gang wars got
ern ships, the CLN fleet boasts three Tiburon-class cor-
hot, spilling over into the open streets with enough violence
vettes and four Aohana-class frigates. They also field
three refurbished Tacoma-class frigates, and at least a to make tourists uncomfortable. A representative of the
dozen Russian-era fast attack craft, all armed with the government gave Oscar a choice between retiring or being
latest Trafalgar-designed ship-to-ship weapons sys- retired. He was still considering his options when the entire
tems. The dry docks have been upgraded to construct Black Dahlia gang disappeared. Fortunately for Oscar, the Don
or repair two ships at a time. had taken notice of his work and offered him a job. Oscar now
runs the Batistas labor racketeering operations.
> It looks like Ray Martinez picked up at least two Wasp-
class amphibious assault class vessels from the CAS. Two
are currently sitting in dry dock. An old design, but tough,
and equipped with a spider commanding a small army
of drones mounting hellfire and brimstone missilesa
RODOLFO SERRAZA,
considerable threat.
> Swash and Buckle THE WIZARD OF AZ
Metatype: Human
Commodore Serraza, who defected to the Caribbean
Sex: Male
League from Aztlan, has been overseeing the navy train-
ing for over twenty years. His tacticsincluding putting Age: Middle
early warning listening stations on remote atollsand Connection Rating: 8
insights into how Aztlan thinks have been invaluable in Type: Personal Favor
defending League waters from Aztechnology forces. Preferred payment method: Cash (credstick)
Some Caribbean League members have been slow to Hobbies/Vice: Social Habit (Drinking)
accept the CLN as an asset of the League and not just Personal Life: None of your damn business
Cuba. Others have accepted training by the commodore
Description: Rodolfo Serraza, former Jaguar guard and
for joint actions, coordinating elements of the CLN as
practitioner of Aztec magic, is current commander of the
support for local ships defending their islands.
Cuban fleet. He has trained two generations of Cuban sailors
in strategic operation and counter tactics against Aztlan,
EASTERN HAVANA
Aztecnology, CAS, and even PCC. The Wizard of Az keeps
The western portion of Eastern Havana, located eigh- covert patrols operating throughout League waters, so theres
teen kilometers east of Old Havana, is a sports mecca
a chance one might be close enough for a pickup or rescue
that continues to bring in fans of baseball, basketball,
boxing, cricket, and urban brawl. The eastern portion
if needed.
of Eastern Havana is all beaches and resorts. There are
seven named beaches that have been contracted as
individual corporate retreats make up twenty-five kilo-

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Robert Russell (order #7779278)
>> HARD TARGETS <<

meters of the coast: Boca Ciega, Brisas del Mar, Gua-


nabo, Megano, Mi Cayito, Tarara, and Santa Maria del
> Alamar has always been an ugly concrete jungle. The
Havana Tunnel connects it to Old Havana, but its a pass-
Mar. The rest of the coast is open beaches occasionally
through no one cares about.
interrupted by sprawls from nearby towns.
> Darwin

AVERY TOWER
EASTERN BEACHES
This ten-story greenhouse built by the McIlhenny family
is the source of the most sought-after Tabasco sauce in Eastern Beaches is a twenty-five-kilometer stretch of
the world, made with virus- and pollution-free peppers beaches that arent immediately adjacent, but are linked
grown from seeds smuggled from their family farms in together by the Via Blanca freeway. As part of Cubas
the bayou country of southern Louisiana. Considerable complex working relationship with various corporations,
time and experimentation went into finding just the right it leases these sections of the beachfront to them:
blend of Cuban soils to replicate the ideal growing condi- Boca Ciega (Horizon Group)
tions. While the McIlhennys employ hundreds of Cuban Brisas del Mar (Renraku Computer Systems)
citizens growing peppers and producing Tabasco sauce, Guanabo (Ares Macrotechnology)
and the governments percentage of their gross exports El Megano (Saeder-Krupp Heavy Industries)
provides a steady stream of needed funds, what en- Mi Cayito (NeoNET)
deared the McIlhenny family to the people of Cuba was Santa Maria del Mar (Mitsuhama Computer
their diversification. Upon learning the spice crops on Technologies)
which Cuban cuisine dependsgarlic, coriander, cumin, Tarara (Wuxing Incorporated)
and oreganohad been all but destroyed, the McIlhennys
undertook locating and cultivating pure varieties (as well A few of the beaches have unique engineered fea-
as pepper varieties used in Cuban dishes). As a result, the tures. Boca Ciega, for example, has augmented sand
McIlhennys are popularly, if informally, recognized as the that changes color or generates musical tones when
family that brought Cuban cooking back to life. (They are walked on. Tarara has a floating island just offshore with
also jokingly credited with saving thousands of Cubanos slips for a half dozen yachts. There is a deep trench off
from starvation by making soy palatable.) Santa Maria del Mar that allows deep sea diving within
sight of the beach. Each corporations maintains floating
COJIMAR docks for the shuttle boats from corporate cruise ships.
Security on the corporate beaches is up to the corpora-
Ernest Hemingway set his novel The Old Man and the tion that leases the land, which means effectiveness and
Sea in Cojimar, a small fishing village just beyond the aggressiveness vary. The rest of the beaches are public
eastern outskirts of Havana. Now it is a desolate ruin on and undeveloped. Lesser corporations that want water-
the shore of toxic Cojimar Bay. Once toxic runoff had front accommodations compete for limited space in the
killed the bay, it became a popular dumpsite for vehi-
crowded beaches and condos of Varadero. Others fore-
cles or machines wrecked or worn out beyond saving.
go staying on the water, spending their money on better
During low tide, trucks and fishing boats and washing
hotels in Old Havana and taking day trips if they want to
machines rust companionably together, their decaying
go to the beach.
corpses covering the oily mudflats. On rare occasions,
Flocks of laborers from Alamar and Chinatown head
scavengers pick through the wreckage, looking for sal-
out to the beaches every day looking for work. Some get
able parts or bits of metal. On extremely rare occasions,
litter off the beaches, while others work the villas, clean-
a desperate barrens dweller might try fishing in those
ing up after parties. Some workers pilfer pineapples,
waters, if hes starving badly enough to convince him-
tobacco leaves, or bits of sugarcane to sell the tourists.
self the tide has carried the worst of the poisons away,
A few lucky ones get limited contracts to service the
but its hopeless. Nothing lives in the water. The nearest
cruise ships with heavy duty cleansers and UV sanitizing
inhabited area is Alamar, practically next door. Once a
drones.
pre-fab Soviet community, complete with stores and
entertainment venues, after the counter-revolution it
tried briefly to reinvent itself as the go-to party place > UV is also good for flushing stowaway vampires.
for locals, but now its just another barrens with fresh- > Slamm-0!
er paint. What makes Cojimar and Cojimar Bay worth
knowing is smuggling. A popular gambit for smugglers > Norovirus and more resistant mutations still plague cruise
unwilling to bribe harbor police is to run a skiff or oth- ships. Thats why corporations hire local cleaning crews.
er small boat loaded with contraband in among the Any of them get sick or die, it wont be on the ship.
wrecks and offload the cargo onto a waiting truck. If > Traveler Jones
the boat looks rough enough, it can hide in plain sight
for days. Disposable boats are simply abandoned.

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The Eastern Beaches dont get as wild as Revolution verse and force the teams to use some strategy along
Plazacorporations keep tighter rein than the govern- with brute force, however it was determined that being
mentbut there are jinteros and jinteras who slip past se- on the water would make it too easy to smuggle illegal
curity to earn a few nuyen. Tour buses (sponsored and un- gear into the matches. Instead both domes have artificial
sponsored) park just outside corporate grounds and try to beaches, with sand traps so tricky the Texas Rattlers pay
entice tourists to come to Havana and see the Real Cuba. to train in the Combat Biker Dome.
Buffalo Bill is typical of these drivers, with his tropical-col- Not far to the west of the stadium is the Havana
ored camel bus, on-board fruity flavored cocktails, and AR Guerrillas Urban Brawl Zone. Its the ruins of Cien-
visual aids. Beyond the recreational limits of the corporate fuegos, a small city abandoned in the 2030s. Squatters
resorts are the aquaculture parks. These zones are off lim- were driven out of the crumbling buildings in 2049 and
its to fishing and feature artificial reefs made with sunken walls were erected to ensure that weapons fire stay in-
ships and forests of kelp designed to attract aquatic life and side the Zone. Wouldnt do to have paying fans killed by
improve the local ecologyboth because its a good idea stray shots. Theres a baseball field in the middle of the
and because tourists will pay money to see these parks, Brawl Zone. Its used for a particularly violent, and thus
and a lot more money to go diving along the reefs. entertaining, version of the game. The prize money is
Customs enforcement along the resort beaches is a good, and any amateur team that can pay the entrance
joint effort, with corporate security searching the ships fee is welcome to try their luck.
and hotels then reporting to Cuban LE, while Cuban
plainclothes officers check the buses and tourists riding > It can be literally combat baseball with pirates and gang-
them back and forth to Havana. Its all very unobtru- sponsored teams looking for their fifteen minutes of fame
sivethe last thing the resorts or the Cuban government and a shot at the prize money.
want is to ruin the vacations they depend on. > Slamm-0!

> Enrique had a sense of humor when it came to sinking


GUANABACOA
those ships for the coral reefs. They were all ships
captured from pirates or Aztlan, stripped and scuttled and The restoration of Guanabacoa has not gone as quickly
sunk. Except hed give them AR tags that embellished the as that of Old Havana, but the president has been mak-
reputations of their former captains and dramatized their ing progress. Guanabacoa is the birthplace, or one of the
capture. birthplaces, of Cuban musicwhat used to be a small
> Pyramid Watcher town gobbled up by the growing city. There are more
privately owned cafes and clubs here than youll find in
other neighborhoods, and they are there for the local
SPORTS TOWN
peoplemore authentically Cuban than the ones that
To the west of Cojimar, an easy drive from anywhere cater to the tourists. These are remnants of the indepen-
in Havana or the resorts, is Sports Town. Thats where dent individualists who challenged government control
youll find the Pan American Stadium, home of the Pan in the twentieth century and are now bucking against
American Games; its also the official venue for cricket
and soccer championships matches. The Sports Com-
plex, with horse and drone tracks and the Caribbean BUFFALO BILL
Boxing Arena, is connected to the stadium by a pedes-
trian causeway that just happens to pass through the Metatype: Troll
Pan American Casino. Sex: Male
Caribbean League Stadium is home to minor league Age: Young
and National League baseball championships. The Cu- Connection Rating: 3
ban League Series and the Super Series are still played
Type: Support
at Latin American Stadium, but everything else baseball
in the Caribbean comes to CLS.
Preferred payment method: Cash (nuyen)
Hobbies/Vice: Entertainment (Trid Shows)
> Baseball is so popular that the public grid gets a signal Personal Life: In a relationship
boost during the Super Series season so that no one will Description: Buffalo Bill earned his way out of the barrens
miss a game. of eastern Havana by rebuilding a decrepit camelback bus
> Slamm-0! and adding enough flash and flair to attract tourists away
from the cab stands. Today he owns and operates five tourist
For those interested in less-traditional sports, the buses between the Eastern Beaches and Downtown. Two of
Combat Biker Dome and Arena Brawl Dome are close
the buses are built for parties, complete with dance floors and
by. The original plans called for the domes to be built
on the beach, since the soft sand would be tough to tra- sleeping cubes. For a few extra nuyen, Buffalo Bill can be a
highly informative and useful personal tour guide.

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AETHERPEDIA
CUBAN BASEBALL this.) Being multinational, the Super Series is not restricted to
Baseball is the most popular sport in Cuba. Havana boasts Cuban players. Also, it is not subject to the restrictions of Neo-
two major stadiums, but each of the other fifteen provinces has a Communism, and individual players are allowed to earn additional
large stadium of its own. And of course there are countless small income by giving endorsements to products and services and to
fields and sandlots across the island. Baseball in Cuba is divided sell personal memorabilia, such as autographed gear and images.
into four leagues, with overlapping seasons that cover the entire Corporate advertising during the games is also permitted.
year: Caribbean Super Series, Cuban National League, Minor
Leagues, and Urban Scrimmage Baseball League. CARIBBEAN SS LEAGUE TEAMS
Miami Marlins (CL)
NATIONAL LEAGUE San Juan Tigers (CL)
Each of the fifteen provinces on the island of Cuba has a Havana Lions** (CL)
National League team. While technically a province of Cuba, Santiago de Cuba Wasps** (CL)
the Isle of Youth (Treasure Island) is not controlled by the Matanza Crocodiles** (CL)
government and its team, the Pirates, is not recognized by Guantanamo Indians** (CL)
the National League. The National League is open only to Cuban Cienfuegos Elephants** (CL)
players. The rules and regulations covering the use of magical Mrida Yankees (YCT)*
or cyber augmentations are stricter than those of the North New Kingston Krakens (CL)
American League, roughly equivalent to the NALs restriction in Dominican Eagles (CL)
the 2030s.
*Allowed to play only after the 2064 peace treaty made them
CARIBBEAN SUPER SERIES automatous from Aztlan.
The Super Series grew out of the Cuban All Star Series in ** Cuban All-Star teams
which five teams, made up of the top players from the fifteen
National League teams, competed for the title. The Caribbean URBAN SCRIMMAGE BASEBALL
Super Series now includes teams from every member of the Urban Scrimmage Baseball is not professional baseball. Its
Caribbean League and Yucatan. (Baseball is popular in Yucatan. played specifically as an entertainment in Sports Town. Want to
When the country gained its independence in 2064, its baseball see ghouls play against corpses? How about an all-troll team vs.
league petitioned to be included in the Super Series. It would all dwarfs, or physical adepts against loa-possessed players?
not be wise to extrapolate any predictions about the Yucatan Its all politically incorrect, but very lucrative for the Cuban
governments intentions toward the Caribbean League from government.

the Martinez plan to make the most of the tourists nuy- munity from a century agoa park bordered by four
en. Manufacturing plants in Guanabacoa produce box- main streets. But the plain concrete walls of San Eugen-
es, bags, and other containers for Cuban exports. io de la Palma Cathedral have been replaced with bas
relief of the Grand Pantheon of Saints, and AR choirs
> The presidents playing a long game. He cleaned up the and organs fill the park with welcoming sound. This is
government-owned areas, created Zapatos Walk, and sold a center of Santeria worship, residence of the Royal
parts to Evo and Zoe. Hes withholding renovations here Three and several revered Speakers for the spirit world.
until the neighborhood gets envious enough of everyone
Awakened practitioners from throughout the Caribbe-
an come here to study and be trained.
else prospering to toe the line on tourism. Nuyen is nuyen,
no matter whose account its from.
> Cosmo
> The RoyalThree are the three highly initiated practitioners:
the babalorichs, the iyalorichs, and the Obas (the father
of orich, the mother of orich, and the leader of initiates).
PARQUE MART They are not royalty in blood, but are treated as such as
Parque Marti has been called the bewitched town, a the spirits chose them to speak on their behalf.
name it lives up to. Initially it looks like a small com- > Abracadavre

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RITA VALDEZ
Metatype: Elf
Sex: Female
Age: Middle
> Story time: So way back when Sugarcane was running the
Connection Rating: 2
Mafia, he decided to take out the Royal Threethe three
religious leaders of Santeria. Why is anyones guess. He Type: Swag
conscripted a small army, gave them guns, and sent them Preferred payment method: Cash (credstick)
to Parque Mart. A little while later, the soldatos radioed Hobbies/Vice: Personal Grooming (Fashion)
the capo and reported that there was no town, just a Personal Life: In a relationship
whole lot of dirt. Capo came out, intending to come down Description: Miss Rita is ostensibly the manager of
hard on whoever was screwing around, but before he Sedanita in Zapatos Walk. She also runs a few specialized
got there the soldatos started screaming. From where he clothing businesses in and around Havana. She designed the
was, all the capo could see was a huge cloud of dust. As uniforms worn by Cuban law enforcement and the livery for
nearly as anyone could figure out, Sugarcanes army was several upscale hotels. If youre looking for clothing that will
standing in the town, or rather on its underside. Then the
help you blend in to certain locations, Miss Rita is the person
earth flipped over, revealing the town and burying his
to see. There are surcharges for rush orders and work after
men. It wasnt a Ghost Dance, but damn that would have
regular business hours.
been intimidating.
> Kane

would do well to stay inside the tourist resorts. Runners


ZAPATOS WALK
wearing Armant to a meet with Mr. Johnson will be lucky
For tourists, there is a shopping district called Zapatos if not getting the job is the only consequence.
Walk. Its a loop of neoclassical buildings restored to
> Cosmo
their original appearance, though there was some ret-
rofitting. Several buildings that once stood shoulder to Sedanita, Shapiro, and Epstein are three stores in
shoulder are now combined into a museum of the Cu- Zapatos Walk that also market locally manufactured
ban shoe industry. Visitors can observe fully operational shoes, but they cater to the middle classless exot-
manufacturing equipment from the nineteenth and early
ic materials and more reasonable prices. Though they
twentieth centuries cutting leather, stamping out soles,
each strive for their own unique take on Caribbean style,
and assembling shoes. There are also several artisan
all three are owned by Common Denominator (Evo).
cobblers who demonstrate making shoes by hand.
Like Ingelmo, they limit production to boost exclusivity,
There are eight stores in Zapatos Walk that sell shoes,
though of course not to the degree Ingelmo does. Their
each targeting a slightly different market. The Imgelmo
products can also be found commanding premium pric-
Store is connected to the museum. Customers can have
es in cities along the coast of the CAS. The other four
handcrafted shoes made there by the artisans on site or
shoe stores at Zapatos Walk are smaller, family-owned
shoes produced in the museum, though most of their
businesses that provide shoe repair, cleaning, and resale
inventory is manufactured in Havana by Ingelmo Foot-
of other shoe brands.
wear. Ingelmo is a Cuban family brandHector Ingelmo,
a third-generation exile, has restored his grandfathers
business and reputation as a designer. His success was > Note that Epstein and Shapiro are not your typical Cuban
funded by Zo in exchange for their controlling interest names. Cuba has always had a Jewish community, which
in the company. Ingelmo Footwear offers Cuban-made has a small but significant impact on Cuban culture. It
shoes for every purpose made from exotic leathers, re- was in decline until President Martinez included it in his
purposed manmade materials used in combat aircraft, cultural revitalization project about a decade ago.
and everything in between. Limited production runs at > Traveler Jones
the Havana plant ensures original Ingelmos remain ex-
clusive status symbols. In partnership with the Cuban SAN MIGUEL
government, Zo is looking into licensing Imgelmos
name and designs to other manufacturers worldwide DEL PADRON
(with strict quality standards and limits on production). Middle-class and upper-working-class homes and
In addition to the museum and shoe stores, Zapatos apartment complexes are the first thing you see when
Walk has several smaller shops specializing in clothes or you cross from the southeastern outskirts of Havana
accessories and a selection of cafes and restaurants. into the northern part of San Miguel Del Padron. Beyond
them to the south are clusters of nicer homeshomes
> Its just a marketing campaign against Armant, who that look like they once belonged to the wealthysur-
supported Aztlan. Prior to the AZ-AM war, Zo had no rounded by high walls and cleared land. Think defensi-
interest in Cuba. Since then, the Cuban government ble enclaves with clear fields of fire. South from there,
invited Zo to Cuba.These days a tourist wearing Armant the neighborhood goes rapidly to hell. Abandoned

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> Rumor has it some kind of ritual magic is being used to


PETER PADRE VILLA speed up the overgrowth. The jungle has become so thick
the Cuban Police dont bother trying to penetrate it to go
Metatype: Ork after criminals.
Sex: Male > Abracadavre
Age: Old
Connection Rating: 1 > With one exception: They made a point of geeking those
Type: Support Bone Gnawers. Some of those guys didnt even leave the
Preferred payment method: Cash (hard currency) barrens before their execution.
Hobbies/Vice: Personal Grooming (Fashion) > Thorn
Personal Life: Widowed
FINCA VIGA
Description: Peter knows shoes. He knows shoes very
well. Hes been shining shoes for over thirty years and has Finca Vigia is a Spanish colonial home just a bit south
been a fixture at Zapatos Walk from the day it opened. He of Havana, most famous for being Ernest Hemingways
home until 1960. It was seized by Castros government
hears rumors and gossip all dayno one pays attention to
in 1961 and gradually stripped of his books, art, and
the shoeshine orkbut gossip and rumors arent his stock in manuscripts. No one lived there for any length of time
trade. He can tell you the best shoes for any type of feet for any after that, and it was allowed to deteriorate. In 2007 the
type of job, or identify almost any shoe from a partial footprint. home was restored to appear as it did when Hemingway
had lived there to attract tourists, but it wasnt the money
maker the hotels and casinos were, and the maintenance
budget was cut. Three years later VITAS broke out, and
homes and buildings occupied by the corea, the home- over the next decade the neglected home fell to ruin. In-
less, who were driven out of Havanas more touristy habiting the site now is a spirit of man who calls itself San-
and trendy neighborhoods as part of the restoration tiago. Santiago has become the caretaker of the half-col-
and beautification process. Here and there youll find lapsed building, collecting books and furniture that once
unregulated family markets, neighborhood talismon- belonged in the home. Every morning Santiago can be
gers of the Santeria tradition, and street entertainers found at Finca Vigia feeding a family of cats.
playing to the locals for handouts. There is also the
ubiquitous neighborhood baseball field, which doubles > Santiago is an interesting character. Hes also appeared
as a black market for Awakened and non-Awakened near Hemingways old Florida home, but seems to prefer
drugs between games. Finca Vigia. It would be fun to find out his real nameand
find out what it is hes really up to.
> They arent just refugees from the tourist zones. When > Abracadavre
Chinatown began to overflow, the Cuban police dumped
the SINless out into San Miguel Del Padron. A lot of those RUSSIAN EMBASSY
abandoned buildings are being overgrown by jungle. The With all the media paying attention to the goings on
homeless are adaptinga lot of them camp along the around the corporate headquarters and the Caribbean
Guachinango River, which is a reasonably safe source of League embassies in Old Havana, its easy to forget the
water and fish. profound influence the Soviet Union was on Cubaor
> Darwin that the embassy, now the Russian embassy, still exists. It
is an ugly grey tower of mid-century Soviet design jutting
up from the surrounding sprawl like a discarded sword.
GUACHINANGO BARRENS Russia maintains a skeleton ambassadorial staff, with
minimal support staff and only a token military presence.
An estimated 100,000 SINless live in the Guachinango
The statues, the paintings, and most of the useful technol-
barrensstretching from the jungle-covered ruins down
ogy were stripped out long ago, but it is still a thoroughly
to the river. Both power and access to the grid are very
credentialed embassy. Mr Strynsky is the current ambas-
limited, unstable, and frequently nonexistent. Groups of
sador. He quietly maintains diplomatic communication
wooden huts fill the banks along the river. Some of the
channels open and administers Russias support of the
homeless have decided to shun city lifetheyve built
current Cuban government.
scattered villages of wooden huts and are growing their
own food. A lot more of them, however, have joined the
Bone Gnawers. > Yeah, you dont really hear much about Russia. They dont
appear interested in the Caribbean League or much of
anything else outside of Cuba. Rumor has it the Russian

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government is hoping to recoup monies invested in the


previous government, but theres nothing to indicate how
they intend to do that. Mostly the Russians just sit in their
SANTIAGO
tower drinking tea. Metatype: Free Spirit
> Thorn Sex: Unknown
Age: Unknown
> Youre overlooking what most people overlook. There are
Connection Rating: 3
Vory living in the embassy tower who have diplomatic
Type: Support, Legwork
credentials and full diplomatic immunity.
Preferred payment method: Barter (hobby/vice items)
> Plan 9
Hobbies/Vice: Hemingway memorabilia
Personal Life: Unknown
Description: Not much is known about Santiago, other
than he appears as a weathered old giant when materialized.
His eyes are the color of the ocean depths, his beard shaped
like a cresting wave, and his skinas finely scaled as an
eelsis mottled slate grey and kelp brown. He tells many
stories, some are about astral places, others are historical,
some seem to be fables, and others prophecies. Its hard to
know whats true or significant.

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CAPO MAXIMO MACHETE GOMEZ JERICH STRYNSKY


Metatype: Human Metatype: Human
Sex: Male Sex: Male
Age: Middle Age: Middle age
Connection Rating: 4 Connection Rating: 3
Type: Networking, Legwork Type: Shadow Services
Preferred payment method: Cash (credstick) Preferred payment method: Service (drek jobs)
Hobbies/Vice: Gambling (Casinos) Hobbies/Vice: Botany
Personal Life: Single Personal Life: Divorced
Description: Capo Maximo, a.k.a. Machete, was in charge of Description: Jerich is a tall, thin man with a talent for details.
the San Miguel Del Patron neighborhood. He earned his nickname He is also fond of gardening and can be found on the grounds of
by dismembering a wealthy family that refused to pay a debt to the Russian Embassy, where he lives and works, tending herbs and
the Batista for products and services rendered. Other than the flowers. His job at the Embassy is processing the paperwork for
social status of the victims, this wasnt a particularly shocking permits, licensing, or any other interaction the Russian government
crime by Carib League standards, but the bloody aftermath might have with Cuba. He is also provides the Vory with permits,
was in full view for tourists. President Martinez declared those licensing, and fake SINs. If you have enough money, he can provide
responsible would be swiftly caught and executed. Within hours authentic documents for temporary diplomatic immunity.
Maximo was brutally beaten by several assailants, losing an ear,
an eye, and the respect of the gangs in the Patron. Evidence was BONE GNAWERS
discovered proving four members of the Bone Gnawer gang had Group Connection: 1 (5 Karma)
killed the family and President Martinez ordered them executed. The Bone Gnawers is a gang of 300+ squatters united in
Maximo still runs the Batista protection racket, but he has never survival. Small bands roam the back streets of downtown, stealing
embarrassed Cuba in front of tourists again and he no longer food and dumpster diving. They have some talent in B&E, but the
oversees the gangs and black market in Patron. He can be found mob dash is their favorite organized tactic. A group of fifty or more
watching games at the baseball field. He is routinely snubbed by Bone Gnawers will hit open-air restaurants and outdoor parties,
the gangs. snagging food, drink, and anything they think might be useful.

LOS GUERREROS
Group Connection: 1 (5 Karma)
Los Guerreros are a religious gang of holy warriors who
rely on magical help. Some are adepts, some are possessed by
spirits, and others are just crazy. They control a black market of
awakened drugs, cheap to manufacture drugs, and Santeria and
Vodoun reagents.

OCTOBER TENTH CERRO


Named after the date of independence of Cuba, Oc- This neighborhood of renovated neoclassical mansions is
tober Tenth is an older neighborhood with Spanish home to the upper class. These renovations included dec-
colonial architecture dating from the 17th century. The orative walls to spare wealthy eyes the view of unsightly
crumbling stone buildings both add charm and remind homes to the south. The police did their part to protect
residents their neighborhood is being allowed to sink the rich by forcibly relocating the homeless and squatters
into ruin. Located to the south of Revolution Square, to the Guachinango barrens. The main attraction to Cerro
October Tenth is home to many low- and middle- class is the Latin American Stadium, home of the Super Series.
Cubansa working neighborhood that does not fit the
image of Cuba being marketed to tourists. That doesnt
LATIN AMERICAN STADIUM
mean the community is dead or dying. Cozy bistros,
Christian churches, medical centers, baseball fields, lo- This is the largest stadium in Cuba, hosting many of the
cal bars, and family tiendas dot the neighborhood. Super Series games. Remolded in 2025, the stadium

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can hold 70,000 people. The surrounding parking lot


has been modified to house food carts and markets
where the teams can sell memorabilia. While tailgate CAPO CARLOS LUCKY GONZALO
parties are a North American concept, banquet tables Metatype: Ork
and AR grids are available for the lower class who cant
Sex: Male
afford tickets but still want to be close to the action.
Age: Middle age
> Bats, balls, uniforms, holocards, and signature foodstuffs Connection Rating: 5
can be bought from Havana Lions or any of the Super Type: Swag
Series teams playing. Preferred payment method: Service (shadowrunner job)
> Traveler Jones Hobbies/Vice: Bad Habit (Illegal drug)
Personal Life: None of your damn business (very private)
MARIANAO Description: Capo Gonzalo is the face/manager for
The Mariano neighborhood, built on former farmland, the Oriental, making sure that his guests are happy and
has turned back to farming. The years of drought and entertained. For those tourists looking for something extra, he
polluted rains destroyed Cubas agriculture industry; keeps the bliss and novacoke flowing for the Batista. While
what little remained could not produce enough for the he has paid Cuban law enforcement for the permits to
people. The Cuban government responded by produc- grow some of the drugs, he produces more than authorized
ing thousands of twelve-meter-dome greenhouses, to maximize profits for the Batista. He maintains a continuous
which they sold at cost to anyone who was willing to
shell game in motion, using the Tropicana Club gardens and
farm on a micro scale. The residents of Mariano em-
braced the initiative wholeheartedly. Several hundred several greenhouses to keep the inspectors from ever getting
brightly painted hexagonal domes and solar arrays fill an accurate count.
yards and common spaces, each growing soy, sugar-
cane, vegetables, and even tobacco. Mariano is doing
its part to keep the Caribbean League independent.
PETER RICKY RICARDO RICHARDS
Metatype: Human
> While the Government and a few entrepreneurs grew the Sex: Male
essential agricultural crops, the Mafia have recruited a Age: Young
select few to grow drugs. Connection Rating: 2
> Coral Reefer Type: support
Preferred payment method: Service (drek jobs)
> The domed greenhouses are sorely out of date. Like thirty
Hobbies/Vice: Family obligations
years out of date. The government has been purchasing
new ones from Wind River Corporation (WRC) and has a
Personal Life: Married
contract with Sustainable Soil Technologies, a subsidiary Description: Just as tourists expect to see Elvis in Vegas,
of WRC, to educate government farmers on the latest they expect to find Ricky Ricardo playing at the Tropicana.
technology. Peter is the current singer/musician/actor playing Ricky for
> Ecotope the customers, and he has parlayed his magically enhanced
talents into a successful and lucrative career. The tourists
THE ORIENTAL love his flawless impersonation and the warmly comedic skits
Not much was left of the Oriental racetrack except for he does with the holographic projection of his wife Lucy. Lucy
the gravel and asphalt remains of the loop. A wealthy really is his wife. She runs the entertainment technology board
Cuban bought up the property and turned it into a backstage, including puppeting the holographic Lucy onstage.
classy nightclub. Holographic horses from old films
and artistic horse-like drones run the course around an
outdoor dining area. The risers where racing fans once
cheered are now multiple tiered bars with live bands.
TROPICANA CLUB
Dantes Inferno, the Big Rhino, Club Penumbra; none
> One of the few places publicly known to be owned by Raul of them compare to the world-renowned Tropicana
Batista. Club. The Tropicana Club has spread Latin music and
> The Chromed Accountant Cuban style to all corners of the globe. At its heart is
an outdoor cabaret under a jungle canopya dramatic
contrast to the wild urban environment of Revolution
Squaresurrounded by six acres of beautifully main-

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tained gardens. Concealed by the gardens foliage but EXPOCUBA


within easy strolling distance of the cabaret are two
ExpoCuba is a self-congratulatory trade fair and muse-
casinos and a few more intimate bars and taverns. A
um promoting famous Cubans from sports to music to
faithfully reproduced virtual version of the Tropicanas
science. Enrique Martinez attempted to revitalize the
show is available twenty-four hours a day. One of the
center by expanding the place to fifty pavilions and
shows biggest attractions is the host and star of the
leasing locations to the rest of the Caribbean League.
revue, Ricky Ricardo, playing Latin music and recreat-
There was a few takers from Haiti, but none of the other
ing skits from the legendary I Love Lucy flatscreen show.
members were interested in promoting ExpoCuba.
Today its lightly populated with a few abandoned
> No one really pays attention to the garden, other than
shops filled with junk that even tourists didnt want.
noting it has beautiful flowers. Black mana and crimson
orchids are scattered throughout. It takes a botanist to see
its a buffet of Awakened and non-Awakened drugs.
> It was like this before Pretty Boy Martinez. He just made it
gaudier.
> Coral Reefer
> Traveler Jones

> Oddly enough, the Military Technical School is just a


> Theres only the light rail that connects it to the city, so
stones throw away from the Tropicana Club.
unless Ray Martinez wants to move the freeway, its not
> Slamm-0!
going to have much success.

> Not that odd of you think about it. How do you think the
> Darwin

president trains his intelligence officers?


LADY GUADALUPE
> Plan 9
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
ARROYO Lady Guadalupe International Airport is located fifteen
kilometers southwest of Havana and is connected to
NARANJO-BOYEROS the city by a highway and a rail line. The wild growth
A million tourists a year get shuttled past the Arroyo of plants from the Botanical Gardens press against its
Naranjo and Boyeros neighborhoods on the express fences but so far have not damaged the runways. The
railway that links Lady Guadalupe International Airport airport was expanded by the Neo-Communists, who
to Havana and the resorts without noticing them. Even realized international trade would strengthen the coun-
the cheap ones taking the buses along the highway try economically and politically by establishing new
dont really notice them. Which is fine with the locals. connections. They also lifted the restriction that only
All the young ones and the ambitious ones go to Ha- airlines at least partially owned by Cuba could use the
vana, and the few who remain in the semi-abandoned airport; while Atzlan and Aztechnology are still banned,
area are content to live undisturbed lives. Looking like other corporations and nations are welcome. Now
ruins overgrown by jungle helps. When the wards fad- tourists can fly nonstop suborbitals and jumbos directly
ed, the National Zoological Park, Lenin Park, and the to Havana where they can connect to island-hopping
Botanical Gardens grew toward each other. Theyve flights, local cruises, or resorts. Two modern terminals
merged into a few hundred square kilometers of re- were built to handle the increased traffic.
markable biodiversity. The Paso Sequito reservoir is ru-
mored to be particularly interesting. The few remaining > Not to mention neither AeroCaribbean nor CubanTaxi
metahuman residents have adopted a more rural life- could afford a suborbital to keep up with the corporate
style, getting much of what they need from the forest airlines
and jungle; some have gone completely native. > Darwin

> The Taino tribes have been moving out here for years. A million tourists pass through Lady Guadalupe Inter-
There are now about five hundred natives in small national Airport every year, as well as hundreds of thou-
villages in and around the park. Tough bastards; when the sands of local and Caribbean League passengers. The
voodoo gangs tried to shake them down with fear and first of the airports six terminals is dedicated to domestic
intimidation, the gang soldiers were eaten by the trees. travel throughout the League. Terminal two was the Ca-
> Darwin nadian terminal, given special authority by Fidel Castro
over a century ago. When Canada divided, Quebec won
Between the airport, which is itself nearly surround- the terminal contract and maintains a steady schedule of
ed, and the southwest limits of Havana, there are only dedicated flights. Terminals three through five are shared
two areas that have not been over grown: ExpoCuba and by various corporate international carriers. These newest
the Friendship Garden. terminals, built specifically for the tourist industry, are al-

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ready crowded and overworked, which makes a poor first national airport and Havana. Its eastern border touches
impression on tourists. Whether they will be expanded, a on Embalse Ejrcito RebeldeArmy of the Rebellion
new terminal built, or a reallocation of existing terminal Reservoir, the primary source of fresh water for the
space made is hotly debated. Terminal six is dedicated southern portion of Havana. At its heart is a crescent
to Caribbean International flights from Miami and Cubas formed by what were three national parks: the Parque
own AeroCaribbean airline. Zoololgico Nacional, the Parque Lenin, and the Jardin
Customs strictly limits what can be taken out of the Botnico Nacional. All three parks had fallen into dis-
country. Most tourists care only about the two-bottle repairinadequately maintained by volunteers making
limit on rum and the dozen cigars. However, customs do as best they couldwhen the plagues and chaos
agents are serious about precious metals and stones; descended on Cuba. What few people remained fled
works of art; any items of historic, anthropological, or as animals and plants Awakened. When the parks be-
cultural value; books printed before 1940; medicine; and gan to spread, an attempt was made to keep them from
firearms or ammunition. As for magical paraphernalia, overgrowing the surrounding towns and communities
forget about getting off with a feetrying to smuggle through ritual magic. What little success these mea-
written spells, zombie powder, reagents, or anything sures had was completely lost when a Gaia phenome-
else will earn you jail time.
non triggered explosive growth and the jungle quickly
overpowered all physical and magical restraints. There
THE BOYEROS NATIONAL PARK is now a series of walls in various materials surrounding
What is now considered the Boyeros National Park is Boyeros National Park, but these serve mostly to mark
an irregular area of wilderness covering just over twen- where the park chose to stop advancing rather than
ty-seven square kilometers that lie between the inter- contain the plants. The highway and rail lines connect-

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ing the airport to Havana are lined with fenceshidden CARIBBEAN LEAGUE
from tourists by AR advertsthat prevent most animals FRIENDSHIP GARDEN
from attempting to hitch rides.
The National Zoo was divided into the African Plain, Located in the last conveniently accessible portion of
where tourists in vehicles could watch animals roaming the National Botanical Garden, the Caribbean League
free; the Lion Pit, where tourists on walkways could look Friendship Garden was the brainchild of Lady Guada-
down on prides of lions in large enclosures; and Noahs lupe Martinez. She proposed a community of green-
Ark, a more traditional zoo with smaller enclosures for houses for growing the rarer and more fragile plants
the animals and restaurants and shops for the tourists. that grew throughout the Caribbean basin be created
Though animals from Africa predominated, the park had as a symbolic representation of the Caribbean League.
specimens from all over the world. Designing and building the Friendship Garden was a
Lenin Park had been a combination amusement park, joint effort involving representatives of every nation
celebration of the Revolution, and family park with trails, and ethnic group in the Caribbean. It was difficult get-
picnic areas, a large lake (Embalse Paso Sequito); bikes, ting everyone to cooperate, but every step of the pro-
horses, and boats could be rented, and there was a pa- cess required full participation by all of the member
vilion of restaurants for those who preferred picnics with states. Because unique variations of these plants had
air conditioning. Though the rollercoaster, steam train, evolved on each island, greenhouses that exactly dupli-
and other rides were dismantled by scavengers for their cated their ecology were createdforty-five in all. Iron-
metal, many of the stone monuments remainincluding ing out the problems of design and criteria for selecting
a ten-meter-tall bust of Lenin that can be seen peering plantsnot to mention overseeing the importation and
out from among the trees. cultivation of every plantgave the member nations a
The Botanical Gardens once included several exten- chance to practice cooperation and see the advantages
sive greenhouses where plants from all over the world of that cooperation in a nonthreatening manner. This
many of which, such as desert cactus or tundra lichen, experience gave everyone involved an understanding
would not have survived in the Caribbean climatewere of the skills necessary to carry their unified league for-
cultivated and displayed. Traditional gardens, showcas- ward. Each of the fifteen-meter-domes uses AR effects
ing cultural horticulture from all over the world, were to present each plant in its native environment.
also recreated.
All of the animals from the zoo now roam free in > While the garden is not as popular to the tourists,
Boyeros, and there are reports of viable herds of rhinos occasional groups come and see the plants. Several
and several other rare and protected species flourishing. botanists from the league maintain the gardens and use it
The lakes and waterways team with non-indigenous fish to reseed their own nations.
evidently released from the aquariums, but the large and > Ecotope
varied population of crocodiles can make fishing prob-
lematic. Many of the exotic and delicate plants from the > Some nations are real serious when it comes protecting
botanical garden succumbed to disease and acid rain, their territory. Who knew things could be heated at the
but just as many survived and even thrived, making the council when some Dominican Republic fruit bats found
jungles, woods, and meadows of Boyeros some of the their way to the Haitian dome and ate the fruit of the rare
most biologically diverse in the world. Manilkara tree?
Self-sufficient communities of the indigenous Taino
people have established themselves in Boyeros National
> Darwin

Park, as their traditional methods of hunting and farming


are evidently well suited to taking advantage of what the
> Because the garden was Lady Guadalupes favorite, it
has been a mission of the president to keep the garden
wilderness has to offer.
thriving. It also has political meaning of unity between the
nations.
> Speaking of the Taino tribe, with the exception of the
freeway, the government has put the burden of keeping > Ecotope
poachers and talismongers from spoiling the park
squarely on the tribe.
RINCON
> Darwin In Rincon, there is a Catholic sanctuary to St. Lazarus.
Fifteen thousand faithful make the pilgrimage to the
siteoften barefooted, or on their knees, or carrying
heavy objects as a symbols or their devotion and faith
in miracles. This ritual of self-sacrifice has created a
manaline from the town of Santiago de las Vegas to the
sanctuary. Because of the unorthodox and inclusive
mix of religious worship, the path is aligned to all tradi-

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CAGUAX III
Metatype: Elf
tions. Those Awakened who practice this ritual migra-
Sex: Male
tion can find that the path transforms the objects they
carry for the ritual into reagentsin rare cases refined Age: Young
reagentsat the end of their journey. Connection Rating: 3
Type: Support
> As the saying goes old Lazarus collects his due, so Id be Preferred payment method: Barter (easy-to-sell items)
careful what is done with such gifts. Hobbies/Vice: Family obligations
> Abracadavre Personal Life: In a relationship
Description: Caguax III is the young chief of the Taino tribe
OTHER PLACES of about three hundred members living in the Boyeros National
Park. Caguax and his people are not illiterate or ignorant of
OF INTEREST technology as many tourists believe. They have simply made
the choice to live simply, away from the city lights and urban
GUANTNAMO BAY lifestyle. Reality being what it is, Caguax and his tribe have
Guantnamo Bay is located at the southeastern side of had to make some exceptions to that rule in order to protect
Cuba and is the largest harbor on the south side. Since themselves and their way of life.
the communist revolution, mines and a field of cactus
were added to the Cuban side of the border between
the UCAS and Cuba. The United States had long since
CACICA
removed any landmines on their side, replacing them Metatype: Human
with motion and sound sensors. When they took over, Sex: Female
Ares used their heavy manufacturing capabilities to Age: Young
reinforce the observation towers. Neither Enrique nor
Connection Rating: 2
Ray have removed the mines and cactus as of yet, but
Type: Networking
negotiations have warmed up since the contract with
Knight Errant. Preferred payment method: Barter (easy-to-sell items)
Hobbies/Vice: Nothing of interest or of use
> With the Free Marine Corps temporarily stationed in Personal Life: Single
Mariel Bay and their success against Atzlan, Ray Martinez Description: Cacia is unique among the Taino people. She
has been petitioning for a permanent base for the FMC can hear the Matrix. Caguax has called her their bohique and
in Cuba at Guantanamo. Hes even been suggesting an watcher over this other world, likethe shamans do with spirits.
expansion of the base or reduction in rent. Cacica is one of Caguaxs exceptions to the technology ban,
> BTL Bailey for among other things she can disable monitoring equipment
and warn when vehicles or drones are approaching.
> Ray doesnt trust the corporation, especially since he
didnt bring them here. He figures that having the FMC
around would help with new negotiations with the UCAS. ADELINE
> Cosmo Metatype: Human
Sex: Female
GUANTNAMO BAY Age: Young
NAVAL BASE Connection Rating: 3
This naval base covers forty-five square miles of wa- Type: Shadow Services
ter and land at Guantnamo Bay. The naval base has Preferred payment method: Cash (credstick)
existed here since 1903 and was owned by the Unit-
Hobbies/Vice: Vehicles (Planes)
ed States until the formation of the UCAS. Since 2050,
Personal Life: In a relationship
the Naval Base has been subleased to Ares. The base
is self-sustaining and remains independent from the Description: Adeline runs a charter flight service called
Cuban government. Water comes from offshore desali- the Nightjar Tours, for tourists wanting a more individualized
nation plants, power from wind and solar generators, tour of the Caribbean islands. She has a quaint island hopper,
and there are several large LNG and fuel tanks to keep suitable for small islands off the beaten path, and a sleek
things running in the event of an emergency. seaplane able to pick up or drop off tourists in secluded
lagoons, broader rivers, or the open sea. Her life partner
Donna is competent with all forms of weapons and provides
securityjust in case they encounter pirates who dont know
the golden rule of tourism.

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> Up until the 1959 communist revolution, Cuba was > Many of the smaller islands of the league have benefited
cashing in the rent money. Between then and 2014, no US with extraterritorial space on Mariel Bay to construct
check was cashed. Between 2014 and 2020, a few checks facilities or import goods that wouldnt be possible in their
were cashed to keep Cuba from going under. But once the own territory.
UCAS was formed, it became pretty much lost revenue, > BTL Bailey
as no one was going to recognize a turn-of-the-century
check from a government and nation that doesnt exist
anymore. > Said the spider to the fly. While Enriques words were like
> The Chromed Accountant honey, its actions like this that lure them in.
> Pyramid Watcher
The base is divided into three main geograph-
ical sections: Leeward Point, Windward Point, and With the Free Marine Corps base being heavily dam-
Guantnamo Bay. Leeward Point is the active military aged in Borinquen, Ray Martinez offered them free use
airfield. Windward Point is the active naval station with of the facilities of the Mariel Bay in return for support
dozens of coves and peninsulas to anchor ships. The and training of the Caribbean Navy. The FMC accepted
bulk of the military personnel live and work in the Bay the invitation, and currently the Iwo Jima is berthed there.
section, which is far more inland, and includes the hos-
pital, stores, maintenance shops, and administrative and > Seeing the Iwo Jima parked in Mariel Bay, the Caribbean
recreational facilities as well as the residences. Navy in Havana, and Ares Navy at GTMO is enough to
make any nation or league member take notice. President
> Remember that Cuba deepened and reshaped parts of Ray is using that image to levy political favors.
Mariel Bay to accommodate triple-E-class cargo ships? > Swash and Buckle
Well, Ares did something similar with Guantnamo
Bay. There are smaller cargo ships going out off to the PATRIA O MUERTE
Guiana Basin. (HOMELAND OR DEATH)
> Swash and Buckle
This is one of a dozen independently owned pool halls
and casinos at Mariel. Run by Mr. Pejuero, the Patria
MARIEL houses twenty old-fashioned pool tables and three gy-
The town of Mariel sits forty kilometers west of Havana roscopic drone pool games, and it is very popular with
on Mariel Bay and is home to an old submarine base citizens from distant islands of the Caribbean League
and an aging power plant. Since the late 2020s, the who have come to work at Mariel. The Patria is market-
Neo-Communist government has been trying to turn ed by the government as a Neo-Communist movement
Mariel into an economic hub of Cuba and opening it up success story.
as a special trade zone to League investors and inde-
pendent businesses. Cuba has been making extensive > Truth be told. Mr. Pejueros is a government-owned casino,
changes to Mariel Bay in an effort to make it hospita- until he can pay off the loans and licensing permits. Until
ble to cargo ships of triple-E class and potentially larg- then, its his place, but staffed with government-chosen
er designs. These ships have been working through- employees.
out Europe and Asia for years, and the Carib League > The Chromed Accountant
wants to be one of the first nations in the Americas
to have a port that can accommodate themand the
only one in the Caribbean. Cubas twenty-five-year,
ISLE OF YOUTH
multi-billion-nuyen plan is to build the Bay region up (TREASURE ISLAND)
into a commercial trading center able to meet all of the Robert Louis Stevenson chose the Isla de Pinos as the
Leagues needs. Mariel is not a tourist destination. setting for his romantic pirate novel Treasure Island.
With almost a million cargo containers routinely Though the Isle of Pines was officially renamed Isla de
warehoused in Mariel, it is already one of the top trade la Juventud (Isle of Youth) a century ago, only sticklers
ports in the Caribbean League. The city of Mariel has call Cubas second largest island anything but Trea-
expanded into a colorful and multinational port with a sure Island. United Oil leased the rights to the island
vibrant business district expanding to support the influx back in 2016 in exchange for financial and technical
of commerce. support. During the four years of occupation, they re-
built the cellblocks of the Presidio Modelo into hab-
itable coffin cubes for the thousands of workers they
employed to strip the island of wood and construct
offshore oil and gas platforms in the surrounding wa-

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GINGERSNAP
Metatype: Human
ters. When NatVat was taken over by ORO in 2021,
Treasure Island and United Oil became the targets of Sex: Female
pirate raids. Unable to protect their platforms, United Age: Young
Oil terminated its contract and abandoned the island. Connection Rating: 8
Pirates took over the modernized Presidio Modelo Type: Swag or Shadow Services
compound and turned it into a fortress they called the Preferred payment method: Barter
Black Diamond.
Hobbies/Vice: Weapons (Military)
There are no youth to the Island of Youth today. The
Personal Life: Single
vast forests of pine trees are gone, and the hills have been
strip-mined for marble and minerals. Alternating storms Description: Gingersnap came into her own roughly three
and drought have made recovery even more difficult. years ago, after Kane killed her father, Gingerbread Man, over
There have been a few attempts to farm tobacco or sugar North Africa. With her wild red hair and surly attitude, no one
cane to supply the unofficial trade in Cuban cigars and doubts that shes her fathers daughter. Her birth mother, Miss
rum, but these efforts have met with little success. Muffet, had cyber-induced emotional issues, and Gingersnap
was raised by Nix Naught. Gingersnap commands the pirates
> Inside Scoop: Ray Martinez is looking to Wind River
based at Black Diamond and can provide a ship and crew for
Corporation to revitalize the whole island for agriculture.
a variety of services, but only if she likes the gifts she receives
This will be interesting in how the president deals with
Gingersnap. in exchange.
> The Chromed Accountant

canoes to fish and maybe trade. The ruined remains


BLACK DIAMOND
of the airport are controlled by the De Mon crew. The
The Black Diamond is the seat of the Pirate King, two nearest law (using the term loosely) is the Black Dia-
kilometers from the sea in the northeast corner of Trea- mond, so disputes tend to end quickly and violently.
sure Island. Originally a prison, Presidio Modelo, built
in the 1920s, its composed of a massive central build- > That reminds me: Ran, ran, as fast as he can, I did catch
ing framed by the four circular, panopticon cell blocks. him, that Gingerbread Man! I was surprised that he stayed
Presidio Modelo has a long history as a dumping in the piracy business after the tempo affair. Shame that
ground for political dissidents, revolutionaries, count- he dumped Muffet for Nix Naught, that Sukuyan witch. I
er-revolutionaries, homosexuals, and other criminals think that the breakup between Muffet and GB was the
of convenienceincluding Fidel Castro and his brother
beginning of the end of the Gingerbread gang.
Raul. The Black Diamond is not as isolated as it looks.
Legend has it Pie de Palo dug the first tunnel on Trea-
> Kane
sure Island to hide part of his plunder from Santiago de
Cuba; other pirates followed his example, and over the > What happened to Miss Muffet?
course of a few centuries the network grew to connect > Kat o Nine Tales
caves throughout the island. Thanks to modifications
and upgrades by The Gingerbread Man, its now possi- > She moved on with her life. Capn would be better at
ble to get almost anywhere on the island undetected. explaining this, but with that much cyber, she just wasnt
Other subterranean features include old soviet bunkers the parenting type.
and literally underground places of worship for perse- > Kane
cuted religions. The current Pirate King is Gingersnap,
daughter and heir of The Gingerbread Man. Ginger- > I heard that Gingersnap has been plotting to avenge her
snap is an overly obvious name, I know, but That father. You worried Kane?
Red-Headed Bitch never really caught on. > Swash and Buckle

NUEVA GERONA > Wait, I thought De Mon had a Sukuyan bride?


The town is nothing more than a tropical version of the > SEATAC Sweetie
barrens. Its been burned and raided so often by com-
peting pirates and a few deniable corporate assets that > You guys need to scan the shadow grid more. That was
there are few recognizable ruins, much less intact struc- Maya, his girlfriend from Trinidad. He had commitment
tures. The sprawling chaos of tents, lean-tos and sheds issues, jealousy problems, whatever. These days he looks
is home to an estimated fifteen thousand metahumans like old shit, and she still looks like shes in her 20s. Since
attempting to escape whatevers chasing them. A river they split hes been working piracy north of the island, and
of sorts connects Nueva Gerona to the sea, allowing shes been working it south.
those lucky enough to own makeshift skiffs or dugout > Auntie Social

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> And to answer your question, Swash, doing what I do, do DON GARCIA BATISTA
you really think I worry about every consequence? (1987-2043)
> Kane An intellectual game popular among, well, intellectu-
als, is to speculate about how different Cubas recent
> A letter of marque has been traded to Ginger for salvaged history would be if Raul Castro hadnt passed away
heavy weapons and artillery, now patched into the Black from VITAS in 2010. What might have happened if Fidel
Diamond defenses. A mixed arsenal left over from the Az- had been able to turn the reins of power over to his
Am war and Desert Wars. strong and soft-spoken brother when his health forced
> Cosmo him to step down in 2014? Well never know. What we
do know is that Fidel Castro left the government in the
VARADERO hands of Jose Torrado, his First Secretary of the Central
Committee. A lifelong bureaucrat and competent ad-
Sprawling across twenty kilometers of the Hicacos ministrator, Torrado was by no means the leader of a
Peninsula, one hundred and forty kilometers east of nation. Paralyzed by responsibility, incapable of coping
Havana, is Varadero, the second-largest resort in the with people who did not simply do as he said, unable
Caribbean. Varadero has grown up from the small re- to resolve conflicts without a higher authority to whom
sort Al Capone loved to become a two-kilometer-wide he could defer, Torrado lasted six months before pan-
strip of seventy towering hotels and casinosincluding icking and declaring martial law. He realized that was a
the failed Jintero super structure. The type of tourist to mistake fairly quickly. A week later he was gone, fleeing
whom Varadero caters does not care that the modern the country with whatever he could carry in a suitcase.
buildings keep the narrow beach in shadow much of Garcia Batista, living in Spain, had not pred