With a sigh Tatanka hunches his shoulders in a quite familiar way and sidles into his new home. Almost half a metre too short for Tatanka to stand straight-backed, the new squatting location is a decrepit shipping container at Patty’s private (and unlisted) boatyard. A proverbial haystack in a baling shed, the container is both a necessity, given Tatanka’s recent infamy, and a blessing, serving as a more secure, stable home when compared to a tepee barely hidden on private property. As Tatanka drops his garbage bag of meagre possessions he sees clearly before him the work that must be done to prepare this new sweat lodge.
Forced underground, Tatanka and his group (perhaps the only runners willing to work with him) have some time to reinvent themselves. Many return to their roots, others retest their limits, and one even disappears completely, never to be seen again. The dark, corrupt streets of Seattle are unforgiving to corporate pariahs. Tatanka himself takes time to develop his wisdom, wits and personality, by stealing into Patty’s property and reading IRA propaganda while watching old western trids. As his grasp of their dire situation grows he considers a new moniker for the streets, ‘Redwood’, though he knows it would not be wise to adopt it until the heat lessens.
Fortunately to that end the party squeezed one extra favour out of their last Johnson, Laurent Nazaire, on top of their agreed payment. Given the difficulty of acquiring Parker Arkson from the Yorijushi building, the high-exposure car chase to get a valuable hermetic tome from a public library, the explosive helicopter ambush at Kobe Terrace, and all culminating in a risky hostage exchange, the shadow running team had accrued a “vaunted” reputation and a need to have it quieted (Tatanka’s popularity amongst youths on the Matrix notwithstanding).
With an enemy like Horizon breathing down his neck, Tatanka knows he will have plenty of time to wait while a sufficient cover up is fabricated. It is while scrounging in a dumpster behind a low-to-nil foot traffic stuffer shack that he receives word of a job. Moreau the fixer has turned grieving and livid Johnson, wanting answers about the death of his daughter, Rebecca, as well as possession of her killer or her killer’s head. Tatanka is on his way to the rendezvous in the ork underground before he even reads the reward for the job.
The sombre (but hardly sober) Patty, the irritable and twitchy Phae, the eerily unaffected Dexter and the empathetically invested Tatanka approach Rebecca’s brownstone (practically opulent by Ork Underground standards). They are stopped at the door by a local ork ganger who refuses them entry given his own personal vendetta in regards to the murder. With quick words and sound minds the team curbs Phae’s lust for blood and make it clear that their participation in this will increase his chance for vengeance. They are allowed inside, somewhat reluctantly.
Unfortunately Rebecca’s home reveals little new information, the Knight Errant crime-scene clean-up crew being far too efficient for the Runners’ liking. With the only leads being Rebbecca’s reputation as a well-liked hermetic mage and some paperwork around her studies, majoring in history (specifically the genealogy of the ork underground), Tatanka suggests a costly compromise.
Tosh Athack, unashamedly corrupt Knight Errant detective, passes on the crime report of Rebecca’s killing for a smaller fee than usual. Apparently an M.O. that copies a killer that Athack himself put down is bad for one’s reputation. Renewed activity from beyond the grave by the “Mayan Cutter” is the only new lead, though the party does note a significant difference about the killings, beyond the less methodical (and more brutal) nature of the killings. The recent targets, including Rebecca, are all orks and trolls, the goblinized metahumans, while the original “Mayan Cutter” had a handful of dwarves and humans to his name, and no recorded troll killings. The copycat is more particular about their targets.
With only one lead left to follow, the Runners begin their journey to the Seattle university where Rebecca was enrolled. However, Phae notices and relays to the party that their convoy is being followed, before slipping back through the traffic to get behind their pursuers. Hatching a hasty plan, the group turns their vehicles down into an underground parking lot. Thinking they have more time, Tatanka leaps from their vehicle to roll behind cover and out of sight. Not only does his roll fall short, but the tailing van follows down the ramp much sooner than expected and, spotting the crouched troll, floors it straight at him.
With too little time to brace himself, Tatanka is knocked out (but otherwise unharmed) by the oncoming van, which is itself almost completely disabled by the impact against his bulk. Celebrating their small victory, a group of loud human gangers step from their vehicle, the colours and symbols of their anti-metahuman ethos proudly displayed. Their joy is short lived, however, when the remaining runners perforate the hateful men, interrogate the lone, brief survivor and set their van aflame. The thug, George Mathers, reveals that they were hired to take down the Runners, but by whom he hoped to take to his grave. His commlink, however, betrays the name Shaun Walker, a name too common for a quick Matrix search to further embellish. Much lubrication and effort is needed to return the sleeping troll to his smuggling compartment.
Our runners, unfazed professionals through and through, proceed to the university, consulting administration for Rebecca’s unused dorm, before falling on more useful information, her key leading professor, Dr. James Rogers. Finding the member of faculty is much easier than extracting information from him, but the bluff quickly turns to truth when it appears Dr. Rogers’ noble aims align with theirs. Though he is still shocked and dismayed about Rebecca’s untimely murder he reveals that he had shared her personal details with another organisation before her death, the Humanis Group, led by the publicly lauded and privately loathed Shaun Walker, outspoken Anti-Metahuman activitst.
With all the clues and leads lining up to form a plausible conclusion, and little else to go on, the party commit to the apprehension or elimination of Shaun Walker. Detective Athack gives away Walker’s most likely location, Greenborne Imports in the Redmond Barrens, though he warns that the Runners have only a few hours to act before Knight Errant fall on the Junkyard Club in force. His reputation depends on the removal of this Mayan Cutter copycat, or whoever gives the kill orders.
In a truly rare instance of planning, stealth and expertise, the party begins their assault on the compound with limited early exposure. Phae cuts a silent and bloody path around the perimeter, backed-up by Patty who makes powder of any other visible guard. Klaus monitors the situation from the air via drone and, through his favourite micro-drone, knocks out the guard dog keeper before he can set the trackers loose.
The plan goes to shit when Tatanka trips an invisible alarm around the outer car-wreck fence of the compound. A combination of sniper fire, stealth assassination, drone assault, concussive magic blast and HE grenade makes neat work of the remaining guards positioned at the compound’s gates and those spilling from the main building. Walker himself, clearly heavily augmented, is little more than a blur of movement and gunfire, pinning many of the party down. By a stroke of luck and wry technology, the party manages to pin down his position, long enough to pelt their quarry with flashbangs and more concussive magic. Barely able to believe it themselves, the party secures their target, alive, and flees the scene as Knight Errant sirens blare in the distance.
What Moreau and Rebecca’s thug boyfriend do with the incapacitated Shaun Walker is best not left to the imagination, though given his actions the party finishes their run with eased consciences, each one ten thousand Nuyen richer.