Week 17 humbled me, completely. Our second week of shadowrunning at “Sunset Island”, a Horizon theme park that is about to open – except for the murderous technomancer seeking revenge for the corp’s past actions. But the live taping of the episode was a more epic hype train than I was really prepared for; I’m still processing emotions from that experience. So, if you were part of that crowd: THANK YOU. Thank you for the support, and the love, and for being such an important part of our interactive storytelling. There are some points in the video where you can see me having an emotionally difficult time processing what’s happening. So overwhelmed. So much love. Anyway, here’s the recap of last week’s live Twitch broadcast – the video is also available on-demand at YouTube.
We rejoin MMFEC in the hospital (never a good sign) at Cromwell’s bedside, where he is convinced he is about to die. (He’s not; he had a bad run but has been stabilized.) Fang has rejoined us at the hospital and is eager to ride rides, but that must wait until the murderous technomancer has been dealt with. Well, Mordecai is only ASTRALLY at Cromwell’s bedside.
Ma1nfram3 is approached by Horizon IT, who offer to repair her deck and offer her an experimental loaner deck so that she can continue her work. Ma1nfram3, under duress, relinquishes her deck (and refuses to share its name with the IT staff) and accepts the loaner “Horizon Cyber”, which is more powerful but less reliable.
Once the replacement deck is retrieved, the gang is escorted to the underbelly of the park – a series of tunnels used for janitorial and maintenance access. Horizon staff analyzed the data from the cyberattack and determined that it is an inside job – the technomancer must be holed up somewhere on-property. The team discusses the ethics related to killing the technomancer – Ma1n in particular has few scruples about taking this mancer out given that she has already attempted to murder half of MMFEC and a Corp Scouts troop.
As it turns out, the park was built atop a military base, abandoned and repurposed. MMFEC is shown a blank wall and told the access point lies through it. Mercifully, Cromwell still has it in him to create a door where there is only a wall. Soon, a hole gapes into a completely darkened 5 meter dropoff. To prevent Elsie from throwing a tear gas grenade for cover, Mordecai briefly astrally projects, dropping into Ma1n’s arms. Once given the all-clear, Cromwell, Elsie, and Fang jump down; Mordecai uses his powers of levitation and offers the services of the Mordevator to Ma1nfram3. They float effortlessly down into the darkened military shaft holding hands. As you do.
Safely in the damp, dark shaft, the team discovers that their connections to the external Matrix do not work this far below ground. The team takes a moment to slave their commlinks to Ma1nfram3’s PAN (personal area network) to enable continued connection, and to allow Cromwell’s jammer to provide protection without interfering with our communications.
However, Mordecai’s Gremlins strike, and his device infects Ma1n’s commlink with a virus. She barely manages to cut his device off, isolate and remove the virus. However, unable and somewhat unwilling to take that risk again when heading up against a powerful technomancer, Ma1n does not tell Mordecai that the connection was unsuccessful. This leaves Mordecai unable to communicate at distance without using astral powers. Meanwhile, Fang has to grapple with the emotional implications of slaving her cyberware to Ma1n’s PAN.
Digital mischief managed, the team begins progressing through the shielded hallway. Ma1n observes a number of wall terminals where she can clip into wired networks if needed, but their first obstacle: an unpowered door.
Cromwell heads into the room looking for adhesives, and Elsie goes in looking for items to steal. Ma1n heads in third and immediately checks her thermographic vision goggles – where she sees a trip-wire grenade spring into a heat burst of activation. In the few seconds she has, Ma1n blurts out “FIRE! HOLE! HIDE!”
With this slightly suboptimal warning, most of MMFEC manages to take cover, and Cromwell chooses to place himself ON the grenade, using his large shield for protection. The shield shatters into a thousand pieces, but the party (including Cromwell) survives.
Naturally, there’s a moment of mourning for the lost shield; then Cromwell pulls a smaller one out of his bag. The party decides after some healthy discussion that “grapefruit” will henceforth be the codeword for “there’s a bomb maybe you should take cover”. Ma1n also takes a quiet moment to plug into the local area network physically to scan for other threats. Just like olden pre-5th-edition times.
The group decides to move forward into the next darkened hallway. They only make it halfway before they are besieged by tiny feet: three fierce hordes of devil rats. The fight is prolonged, considering they’re just rats. Ma1n takes a considerable amount of damage, along with Fang, but Mordecai heals them and summons Sharky for further protection. Carnival Barker Sharky, with rolls of tickets bursting from his stripey coat, manages to take out many of the rats. Elsie’s flash bang takes out many of the rest.
The party takes so much damage from the rats that they must rest in the hallway for an hour before progressing any further (sitting amongst the carcasses of devil rats). Once recovered, they progress to the end of the hallway and Ma1nfram3 wires into a door terminal to open it digitally. Ma1n, Fang and Mordecai step in and find the door shut solidly behind them, leaving Elsie and Cromwell in the hallway. The door becomes electrified with technomancer energy, and the room begins to bake in heat as the room attempts to sterilize them to death.
Ma1n finds a terminal and wires in again. Now, there are 4 aggressive sprites altering the local area network and causing the overheating condition. She drops into full VR to fight off the sprites, leaving her completely prone to damage and disconnected from her meatspace senses, including hearing. She manages to chip away at two of the sprites, using Matrix-conjured carnival game water guns to send them into oblivion.
Unnerved by the heat, Mordecai chooses to dismiss his remaining Force 6 Sharky services and instead summons Sharky at FULL FORCE 12 POWER: and success yields GIGA SHARKY. Who appears to have a cybernetic face? A great white shark with bonus crab claws and jets of killer fish. GigaSharky manages to rip the next door off of its hinges with a giant icicle missile attack.
Cromwell and Elsie take damage from the electrified door, and decide that the only way to deal with the situation is… a rocket launcher. Mordecai creates a protective barrier to keep the damage contained, and Fang carries Ma1nfram3 around a corner. Elsie squares off her rocket launcher (Rocky) and makes such a massive explosion at the door that the structural integrity of the tunnel itself is compromised. Cracks lace through the walls, and chunks of the ceiling fall, nearly blocking the entrance. Cromwell, as if in slow motion, races forward to catch (Hodor) the largest piece of ceiling and manages to stop it inches from the floor.
Back in the sterilization room, the party takes blast radius damage. As Cromwell’s strength wanes, Mordecai steels himself and monologues:
“I’m not actually as good with technology as people think I am. I think I need to be honest with you. That time I told you “That explains it”… well, you’re one of the more attractive runners I’ve worked with… and, elves are attractive, and I thought that explained it, but – I just don’t want you thinking that’s going to get in the way of anything we’re doing. I’m a professional. I take my work seriously. And I’m going to SAVE CROMWELL.”
But because of the comms issues earlier, the only member of the party that heard Mordecai’s monologue… was Fang.At the same time, Ma1nfram3 sustains a major hit from the remaining sprites, and thanks to the resulting gremlins her deck scrambles: all programs are unloaded from memory, leaving her at a significant disadvantage. With a little creative thinking and determination – and by conjuring the angry mental images of the helplessness she felt at the hands of the technomancer – she doubles down and obliterates the last two sprites by shooting roller coaster tracks from her Matrix persona’s hands.
Still, Mordecai manages to heal Cromwell: giving precious seconds for Elsie to slide dramatically under before Cromwell loses his strength and must roll away, back into the tunnel from whence they came.
Now, the party is split: Cromwell on the exit side of the tunnel, and the rest of the party on the other side, closer to their hypothetical goal. All wounded from the demented Bikram sterilization room they found themselves in. And the technomancer still lurking deeper in the tunnels.
Plus *all sorts* of feelings.