Shadowrun #CorpSINs Episode 34: Wolves, wilderness and a very famous, very dangerous visitor await MMFEC in the Shasta Mountains.
Shadowrun: Corporate SINs is a fully improvised role playing game aired LIVE every Wednesday from 6PM to 9PM Pacific time on premium livestreaming Twitch channel Hyper RPG. Cheryl co-stars as Ma1nfram3, the team’s Decker. Our subscribers influence the game universe by joining one of the fictional Shadowrun corporations on our Discord and planning in-game actions. The livestreams are free to watch, and on-demand videos are available on YouTube a few days after airing. This week’s episode is embedded at the end of this post.
We rejoin MMFEC and Miss J in the middle of the Shasta wilderness, several hundred yards from Ma1nfram3’s van, which is now concealed beneath an elaborate pile of brush. While hiking on foot to their final destination – the magical lodge maintained by the Shasta Shamans – they are surprised by a massive moose bounding into their path. Suddenly, a cacophony of howls is heard in the distance – and the moose is frozen in its tracks.
Sure enough, the party encounters not one, not two, but six massive magical wolves, who abandon their pursuit of the moose in favor of the more interesting (and less antlered) metahuman prey.
Mordecai draws one of the wolves off and engages it with some wappy slappy magical melee combat, rendering it unconscious. Cromwell grabs Elsie and climbs the nearest tree. He drops a rope, which Miss J must use since she is least capable of defending herself physically. Of course, the trees are giant redwoods bereft of most low-hanging branches, so Ma1n is left to try and climb the back of that same tree with her knives.
Two wolves break off and give chase, climbing up onto the branch with Cromwell and Elsie. Even blinded, Cromwell manages to get purchase on one of the wolves and whips it savagely out of the tree, killing it instantly. However, he also goes bezerk.
Another wolf targets Ma1nfram3 -who is a few feet off the ground on the back of the most contested tree – and attempts to howl at her twice. Each time, Ma1nfram3 manages to use her presence of mind to shake off the effects of the howl. Instead, she uses her legs to stabilize her position around the tree and manages to take out one of the wolves with her Ares Light Fire. Elsie takes out another, which has made its way to her level, with her trusty sniper rifle.
Fang goes directly after the alpha wolf and manages to sever its spinal column with her sword – but not without falling victim to their paralyzing howl, dealing her significant burdens to her abilities for the foreseeable future. Still, as Fang put it, “I’m the Alpha now?” Sensing an opportunity, the next-ranked wolf sets its sights on Fang, and the two grapple. Miss J hits the subalpha but it keeps on fighting. Cromwell, berserk and seeing Fang in danger, charges at the wolf, misses, and instead hurts Fang. It is Elsie that deals the subalpha wolf the final blow.
Once the combat is resolved, Mordecai attempts to convince the team that they should befriend the frightened moose. He seems to have a penchant for homeless animals. The team is not swayed, and Mord must settle for directing Sharky to head off with the moose into the forest. As they walk, Cromwell mopes, taking it deeply personally that he hurt Fang, even in a small way. Miss J attempts to comfort Cromwell, explaining that her recovery from 2 years of coma took 5 years. And Ma1n and Fang swap playlist tips after successfully using their earbuds to help defend against the paralyzing howls.
Deeper into the forest, the team begins to hear a buzzing sound. On the Matrix, despite a CONSIDERABLE amount of digital noise interference, Ma1n and Miss J manage to sense a pulsing network of drones running patrol around the location they seek. Miss J impresses Ma1nfram3 deeply by creating a shadowy veil of joint protection, followed by provisioning of AMAZING buffs on Ma1n’s cyberdeck array. Together, they narrow in on a particular set of three drones slaved to a single commlink. Ma1n is able to wind digital poison ivy around the commlink in VR, placing three marks at once and giving her control over the slaved drones.
After inviting Miss J’s mark, they can work together. Ma1n loops the footage on two of the drones using Fork and Edit File, much as she did in the Emile Corrigan run. Miss J watches, and completes a similar action on her drone. Now all 3 have 15 minutes of looped footage running that will provide some level of cover for the group.
One last item of business: snooping on the patrols to find out what they’re up to. Unfortunately, the noise is too much for Ma1n and she misses. Again Miss J amazes her by summoning a courier sprite, which attaches itself to the lead commlink and spoofs a command.
Mordecai astrally projects to see what forces they’re up against, and between the digital and magical reconnaissance they’re able to plot a path forward, but time is ticking. Sharky is summoned to conceal the large party, but as they begin moving Miss J senses a signal. Ma1n and J didn’t notice the motion sensors at first scan.
Quickly, Ma1n reaches out to the other two drones and disables their sensors, but one of them she can’t quite disable. The team successfully sneaks past undetected, against the odds. Unfortunately, the team is detected on the astral plane. Ma1n thinks fast and crashes the drone with the motion sensor still enabled elsewhere in the forest. The distraction technique worked, and 2 of the 3 patrolmen chased the crashed drone instead of MMFEC. The mage still pursues the astral disturbance, which meant… it was time to RUN.
It is a mad dash for a hundred yards to the safety of the magical lodge. Fang scoops up Ma1nframe, Cromwell scoops up Miss J, and Elsie and Mordecai run on foot. Someone throws a gas grenade; and a spirit makes a pass at Mordecai and misses. Suddenly, that opposing spirit is banished by the Shasta Shamans. Miss J’s arrival is not… welcomed, but the party is still invited in.
The magical lodge is a log cabin of sorts, arranged around a staggeringly large tree that Mordecai recognizes to be a Great Tree Spirit. The rest of MMFEC settles down as Miss J gets to the family business at hand. It turns out Miss J’s “real” name is Leara, and her sister’s Jaclyn. Both girls have shed their given identities for new ones in adulthood.
They angrily adjourn to the room with the Great Tree, and argue enthusiastically.
Meanwhile, Mordecai strikes up a conversation with one of the other Shasta Shamans. She is friendly, and they discuss the particulars of familiar objects and great spirits. Mordecai seems to be geeking out a bit at this impressive display of ritual magic.
The arguing ceases, and Miss J storms back out into the front room. She huffs into a seated position next to Ma1nfram3 and goes limp. Worried AND curious, Ma1n follows her into VR. “Are you OK, Miss J?” she asks. The technomancer replies, “Follow me” and begins to adroitly grid hop deep into the Matrix, leaving Ma1nfram3 breathless to keep up.
Finally, they come upon a mysterious structure. “Wait here,” Miss J instructs, and disappears inside. Ma1n, with little other choice, awkwardly loiters outside and braids digital friendship bracelets, unsure what is happening. After a long pause, Miss J re-emerges. “I managed to get you invited into the lobby,” she explains, and beckons.
Ma1n follows Miss J inside and is immediately overwhelmed by the great sense of history – she is in the lobby to the famed Matrix data haven, Jackpoint. It is Decker mecca, and Ma1n never thought to pursue it at all, much less to find herself standing in the lobby. Even more perplexingly, she recognizes someone else – her old acquaintance Cl0ud9 from Ma1n’s favorite Matrix haunt “Blast from the Past” is there, with his pulsing cloudlike persona.
Ma1n isn’t sure how much time passes before Miss J emerges again. It is something Miss J says in response to a question about helping her sister – “I’ve talked to someone” – that sets Ma1n on edge.
“Miss J. You didn’t. She’s not?”
Miss J smirks, then says, “She’s not going to come in… real form.”
Ma1nfram3 blurts, “What do you mean ‘real’? What other forms are there?”
“Dragons… You’ll find out.”
Ma1nfram3, growing alarmed but attempting to compose herself, asks, “Miss J, how… how can I help you? With this?”
“Don’t make any sudden moves. And don’t make any deals with the dragon.” And off they go, back across the grids and to reality.
Ma1nfram3 resumes meatspace consciousness knowing 1) that Hestaby the notorious dragon and former owner of this hoard is returning imminently 2) that it will betray Miss J’s trust to reveal this truth before it is time and 3) MMFEC is NOT PREPARED TO MEET A DRAGON. She desperately attempts to provide guidance. “Don’t move. Nobody move.”
And then, like the resplendent arrival of Beyonce, Queen Orange herself (Hestaby’s favorite Matrix persona made manifest in meatspace) appears within the lodge, and SHE IS PISSED. “Jaclyn and Leara, what have you done?” she mutters in an imperious voice. Miss J and Nimue slink up as would chastised children, and MMFEC finds themselves observing a very peculiar family argument. Cromwell can’t help himself, and begins yelling at the dragon. She dismisses him, and Cromwell finds himself unable to speak and periodically burping up frogs. Literal frogs.
After the discussion is concluded, Hestaby instructs everyone to leave the lodge – she wants no part of this endeavor, for it does not meet with her plans. A hasty retreat is in order, and the Shasta Shamans offer MMFEC a ride. On their Giant Tree Spirit.
It is thus that MFEC finds themselves carried aloft on the arms of a walking tree – the other M, Mordecai, is carried aloft by Sharky in an attempt to impress his shamanistic sisters. The tree-bound members of MMFEC are dropped at Dynah, but Mordecai reveals that he is accepting the invitation of these shamans to help establish a new lodge. Fang is extremely upset at his departure. He insists he’ll write – and instinctively knowing that this will fail due to Mord’s gremlins, Miss J sends a courier sprite to attach to Mordecai’s commlink. “I won’t be gone long,” he says, and the team wishes him well as he makes to follow the great tree, now considerably in the distance. (though it should be noted no arrangements are made for poor Cornbread.)
After uncovering Dynah, the team resumes their road trip back to Seattle, taking a stop at the Pig & Pancake in Tir Taignire on the way.