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Saturday, 19 October 2013

FWTD: Night Shifts, domestic violence, and the power of strength (sessions 9 and onwards, or 11 and onwards)

These are the last 4 sessions of my FWTD game.

The Utopia Child
(Nathan Trenchard – A diary by the player)Continued after “The First Patrol”…
Day 3/4
On the next evening, during my shift we received a regular call. Apparently some perpetrators had rigged a building with traps. Me, commander Leila and another officer, whose name currently eludes me, went on to respond to the signal.
On arrival, I was charged with interrogating the local citizens about the identities and whereabouts of the trap riggers. I didn’t learn much, but at least got one sure address. Just as I reported my progress to commander Leila, we received a call for back-up from the nearby abandoned building. We responded immediately.
Inside, there was another police officer, Michaela was her name, another very thin and small-framed woman and a young man, his wrists bound with hand-cuffs and sitting on the ground. Commander Leila asked what is happening here. Officer Michaela responded that this was one of the suspects who placed traps around the area. At this point the man, who was actually a juvenile, made a spiteful and angry retort. I kneeled down to his eye level and asked:
“Why did you do this?”
“Fuck you!”, he responded with cold hate.
“Why do you insult me?”
“Because you can stuff your dick up your ass!”
“And why should I do that?”
“I don’t know. Because you like dicks inside your cavities?”, was the sneer reply.
I felt pity for his clearly troubled condition and said:
“I sense a lot of confusion and darkness in your soul. You must calm yourself.”
“I am calm. You, on the other hand, all of you”, he surveyed the room, “will die.”
“Everybody dies sooner or later”, I replied unfazed.
“Oh, but your will be soon. Very soon”, said he with a menace in his tone.
“And why is that?”
“Didn’t I told you to go fuck yourself?”, the young man said, resorting to his earlier contempt-seething insults.
I stood up.
“You have something that troubles you greatly”, I said to him in a soft voice. “You need to meditate and try and find inner harmony.”
“I don’t need any meditation. You will die and that going to happen soon.”
My face hardened slightly. “We’ll see.”
I turned and faced commander Leila, who was laughing again at some unfamiliar notion. Michaela and the other cop were chuckling, too.
“Commander, do you know who this man is?”
She composed herself and manhandled the suspect, knocking him against the wall, adding what I believe to be a few unnecessary extra punches.
“All that there is to know, is that you have to handle these guys with a side order of maximum police brutality,” Leila replied to me. Then she turned and hissed in the man’s ear: “Now, tell me where are your friends, and I won’t break your head open.”
“You’ll get nothing from me, bitch. You will die!”
“Wrong answer,” she said coldly a hit him with her club. He dropped on the floor, panting.
“Huh, this one will be hard to crack” said Michaela nonchalantly.
“Will someone please explain me who this man is?” I asked, having lost patience. “Is he related to some gang or not? You seem to know his lot.”
Commander Leila looked at my helmet and suddenly a devilish smile flashed on her face:
“I will tell you, if you headbutt him.”
“No. That will be against protocol.”
“Suit yourself. I’ll let you then to wonder.”
I hesitated. It was wrong, the deed she asked me to commit. My eyes glanced quickly to the young man. Something was not right about him. But… to hit him while he is helpless? That was low, no matter his crimes.
“Time’s ticking”, said Leila. “Decide already.”
My short time in this city has showed me how dangerous was to be in the dark, without knowledge or information about even basic things. I weighted my options. What good it was to persist? A dead man cannot atone past sins.
I straightened the apprehended man and said to him:
“Forgive me.”
Then gave him a hard blow with the helmet.
“Good”, said commander Leila. “I shouldn’t pity him, though. He is a Collin.”
“What is ‘a Collin’?”
“He’s still new, isn’t he?”, interjected Michaela casually.
“You have no idea” muttered Leila and elaborated on my question: “Collin is a serial killer from the recent past. But instead of killing his victims, he download his consciousness into their bodies. Thus he copies himself.”
“He what– how he does that?” I asked astonished.
Leila looked at me as if I was some sort of a tribal.
“With mental installers, of course! Aren’t you Utopia Childs supposed to be advanced and familiar with technology?”
“We are, but… a mental installer in not something you have in your closet.”
“In principle, yes, but in this city there are a lot of hidden installers left behind since the Freedom Wars. So, in practice, you can have one in your closet, if you are lucky enough.”
I looked wordlessly at the man on the ground.
“So this… this Collin, he… he uses the bodies of his victims to make… copies of himself?”
“Correct.”
“He… he destroys people’s minds?” I felt anger slowly boiling inside me. “He denies them their life in such vulgar and abhorrent way, possibly leaving them with a torn soul?! Disrupting their natural harmony for his own sick pleasure!?”
“Well”, said Leila a little uncertain, “I wouldn’t think of saying it that way, but yes.”
Now I was outraged. Such pervesion was beyond anything I have encountered in my life. Such brutal way of taking one freedom, one’s path of creating his destiny, was beyond salvation. This Collin has to be destroyed, for the good of all of creation.
I turned gave the Collin a vicious kick in the ribs.
“Bravo!”, exclaimed Leila. “Now I like you more.”
I tried to compose myself. Leila and the others chatted for a while. It appeared that this might be a Collin hideout, or at least that was the theory. The little woman didn’t speak much. Michaela questioned her what was she doing here. Overall, I think it was just another civilian trying to do the right thing. The world needed more people like her. And less like Collin. At some point, an expensively dressed and authorital man appeared. He introduced himself as a Bleeder* elder and the teacher of the little woman, a Bleeder herself. It seemed he had some personal stake in the matter, but I let commander Leila to handle the details.
During the talks I scanned the building for a possible hideout. After some investigation, one of the inner walls of the building, which was an abandoned warehouse, turned out to be fake. I kicked it, but it was sollid concrete, yet it sounded hollow. Strange. Fortunately, the Bleeder elder had a wrecking crew on call and he went to bring them. Leila and the other officer went out front, to radio for back-up, taking the arrestant with them. Me, Michaela and the Bleeder woman stayed to guard the place. I circled around the rooms and went to what I presumed to be the opposite face of the hollow wall. To my surprise, the wall here was not concrete, but simple plywood. I picked a spot, focused my inner energy and kicked. My boot penetrated the thin obstruction and my leg sank to its knee.
Immidiately, I called for back-up. Michaela came instantly. While we were staring at the dark gaping hole, suddenly something swooshed from inside and hit my armored uniform. A knife. Seconds later, a man entered the room. Somehow something was not right with him and I yelled him to remain motionless. He did not comply. Instead, he thrust out his hand at Michaela and sprayed her eyes with small pepper spray. Michaela reeled with a yelp and stumbled. The uknown man then brought out a knife and walked towards me.
“Stop! You are under arrest!”, I yelled, tipping my sword in his direction.
He jumped and attacked me. It was short, but intensive fight. I retained my distance, so I could have combat advantage. That was a mistake. The moment I drew myself backwards, he turned and sliced Michaela’s throat while she was still stunned. I screamed in rage and charged the Collin (for now I knew what was he).
I killed him and then hurried to help Michaela. Noises were coming from the broken drywall and the place was too dangerous for triage. I dragged my fellow officer in the next room, where the Bleeder girl looked for us with frightened expression. I had little time, because new attackers could emerge any second, so I hurriedly took out my medkit and started giving first aid. I quickly bandaged the wound and reduced the bloodloss to the best of my abilities.
“Stay with here and guard her!”, I ordered the Bleeder and took out my radio, raising code alarm for officer down and multiple armed and dangerous suspects.
Soon commander Leila and a whole platoon of police officers arrived at the scene. A medical unit took care of Michaela and transported her to the hospital. The Bleeder elder and his wrecking crew also arrived, but their job was already done. We found the fake wall wide open in a concrete double-door fashion.
We cautiously raided the place, but no one was to be found. What was interesting is that in the hidden basement we found a working mental installer. The Collins had started a automatic memory wipe and it had almost finished. I urged for the process to be stopped and some tech guys went forward and tried to halt the memory wipe. They were not doing well, so I decided to step in personally and having little expertise in computers, I did the best layman’s solution… pulling the plug.
The technical team said I saved about 10% data. Better than nothing.
At the far end of the basement there was a solid metal door with a code panel lock. Presumably that’s where the Collins retreated. Nobody could unlock the door and I think even the wrecking crew of the Bleeder elder would have had a hard time with it.
We left the technical team to salvage the portable components under guard and our patrol unit took to the streets again.
It was near the end of the shift when commander Leila suddenly requested of us to remove out badges. I was bewildered, but she gave an order, so I complied. Then we went north in Skin Borgs’ territory. We arrived at the entrance of some secluded building, which was well guarded. Commander Leila took a different posture and said to us to act as her bodyguards. Hmm. So, this was going to be an undercover action. Alright.
We went inside. There was quite the crowd and some form of a pit in which there was some fight going on. (Fight being a relative term) While it lacked real skill, it seemed very brutal. The combatants were savagely swinging at one another and the mob was shouting. Bets were being made.
“Hey, could just stay like this?”, commander Leila suddenly said.
“Yes–, uh, okay.”
She took out some sort of a decorative brooch looking like a flower and clipped it to her shirt. Then, to my surprise the flower made a series of buzzing and clicking noises. After a few minutes, commander Leila said:
“Done. Let me buy you a drink now, boys. You drink, right?”, she asked me.
“Occasionally.”, I agreed reluctantly.
“Then let’s go.”
We went to the bar and the commander ordered three beers. I sipped mine and Leila said:
“Now, look around for this man.” She desribed him. “He’s our informant.”
I scanned the premises, pretending to be doing it casually. There was no need. The informant emerged from the crowd, evidently recognizing Leila. They had a short conversation and he left. We remained for two, maybe three minutes more and then Leila beckoned for us to leave too.
Trouble was waiting for us at the door. We were just leaving, when the guards blocked our way.
“The boss wants to see you three”, rumbled one of them.
“Your boss can see me some other time”, retorted Leila. “I’m leaving.”
“You will come with us”, said the guard, with a threat in his voice.
Leila glanced at us.
“Leave her alone”, I said coldly. “She is my commande…”
“Your commander. Exactly”, the guard responded with satisfaction. “Come with us. Right now.”
Again, I made a mistake. We went with the guards upstairs. On the way, commander Leila glanced at me angrily and muttered something about whose commander is who.
We were brought to a relative small open room, which was overlooking the hall underneath. In the room’s centre was a lounge with a big, authentic-looking throne. There was a woman sitting on the throne. She had above average attractivness and wore a toga. Beside her, two large bodyguards resided.
The woman rose from her throne and said to Leila:
“You have something that I want.”
“And what is that?”, asked commander Leila.
“This trinket on your shirt. Is it for sale?”
“No.”
“Pity. I would have gladly paid for it. But you will have to part with it anyway.”
“I won’t do that,” said Leila firmly.
“Oh, but I suggest you do”, replied the woman with a hollow smile.
“If the commander says she won’t give something, you cannot force her”, I interjected. “We are police officers, representing the authorities here.”
“Oh, but I know you are from the police”, explained the woman sweetly. “That is why I ordered my guards to bring you here. Now, give me the brooch! I will not ask again.”
“Like hell”, exclaimed commander Leila. With lightning reflexes, she pulled a knife and stabbed the neares guard. A fight broke out.
There were two guard beside the woman and the three who brought us here, making a total of five in the immidiate vicinity. Two jumped at Leila, two more at the third member of our patrol unit and one at me. It was going to be a tough battle.
I quickly dispatched my oponent. Leila was doing okay, even better than me. She had already neutralized one of the guard and was attacking the next one. Unfortunatelly, the other police officer received a heavy blow and was out of the fight. The two remaining guards attacked me, but I managed to parry their strikes. I wounded fatally one of them and deflected the blow from the other. Just as I was going to remove him too, he suddenly thrust out his katana in a suicidal attack. The blade tore deeply in my neck, where the uniform was not protecting it. Blood started spilling. Shouts were coming from downstairs.
“Run!”, yelled Leila and bolted.
Me and the other officer supressed our injuries to the best of our ability and shuffled quickly after her. We stomed out of the building, my vision quickly fading from bloodloss.
And there, our salvation was awaiting. The street was swarming with police officers, strike teams and EMTs. We ran straight to them, while the police forces stormed the building. A couple of paramedics stabilized my bleeding and before I know, I was on an ambulance on a way to the hostipal, just as Michaela.
I spend the rest of the day and the day after on bed. The last operation was a close call.

*I presume Bleeders are yet another city gang and from what I gathered, big enough to be recognised on the radar.
(Summary provided by the player)

Dimitri, Orphan
Having killed a Hunter - as you remember, Orphans tend to hate those, because they don't hesitate to kill children, if that's their profile - Dimitri went back. Seeing better opportunities to get influent, he put his special skills on work among Orphans.
Which is to say, he started cooking them free meals, and making them tasty (more with good dice on the Cha+Skill rolls, than with actual skill, but whatever). Keep in mind, the biggest Orphans are maybe in their early 20ies...
Yes. It was a success. He almost got groupies... almost. His generally low charisma impeded him in fully enjoying his popularity, but he didn't mind.
And then he went on to Sexologist turf. Hey, these are the guys we agree with on so many levels...
Yup, he managed to pick up a Sexologist (that was actually roleplayed out, with me and the other players present all assuming the roles of one Sexologist - at the end, it was my chick that fell for him).
The next day, however, he went for a walk of the Orphans' turf despite the highly polluted time. And he met a guy (a Jack) who wanted money - big surprise...
He actually offered him something. "You an Orphan? I happen to know someone in this building is beating his kid a lot!"
Dimitri didn't trust him enough to give him money (and was right), but then he decided to investigate nonetheless. But while he was circling the building, he got himself ambushed by 3 Addict Muggers.
Continued drug use isn't good for your health, and it means your overall combat ability also suffers. Unless you compensate with experience, you'd risk ending up like them. That is, beaten 3 to 1 by a single guy. He ran them away, making them promise they wouldn't make troubles in Orphan turf any more, and an window opened.
"Hey, boy, good job. Want a tea?"
It was a senior shut-in, who had good opinion on Orphans. And she told him a lot about the inhabitants. Turned out, the man at the top floor actually was beating his boy...
That was due to random rolls, not what the Jack said. It was a red herring for all the Jack knew.
Dimitri went up to pick the guy when a young kid of about 12 yo went down to bring beer for the father. He got the father on the WC, and sent the kid out.
"Go out for a walk, I want to talk with him in private", he explained loading his crossbow.
Yeah.
And then when the father, ex-Night Shift, tried to be less-than-polite (verbally), Dimitri shot him. Short fuse.
And then, because we're not in Magic Death Wand land, the father scrambled to get a taser, which was his home protection. Dimitri jumped away. But then the man tried to call ambulance, while Dimitri was re-loading. And the Orphans charged, trying to shoot again.
He never did. The Taser got him well, and he lost conscience. If he had woken up, he would have discovered plastic restraints.
At least, the guy survived, so it's going to "only" be attempted murder instead of a full-blown trial.
But his lawyer is a moron. Good thing he managed to persuade him to send word to the Orphanage.
The Orphans sent him a better one after a vote. But they warned him, he owes them the wages of this guy, gang brother or not. And he gets paid by the hour, because he's that good!
Ouch!
Well, you need the best if you're caught on the scene of an attempted murder. Right?

The Boarder
He joined us recently...and this might be the last we see of him. Whatever.
The boarder is a guy who's incredibly fast and agile, despite his relatively small stature. Well, so much could be expected.
He also happens to dislike conflicts, and doesn't know the city all that well, which makes him a very rare one. But at least, he's got a well-decked out slipboard! (This happens when you're an Indie. Sure, all Boarders get a free slipboard, but the money he actually paid for to add more extras, out of his starting funds?
Our Black Med, and all Street People PCs, start out with less money in total. Virtually indestructible? Check. Jump pack? Check. Alarm system? Check.)
...It all began with a text message. "See you where we met last. There could be good stunting there".
Now, he sees part of the fighting on 145th street every time he goes out - because he lives on 145th street!
Yeah, I guess a slipboard was just a necessary feature in order to avoid the wargangs going in and out...
Anyway. He passed the battlefield like most people pass through drivethru stores, except even faster. At 51 km/h, it's a bit hard for most people to react - especially when they're busy fighting other people. And they were.
For that matter, some of them had been toppled by a Night Shift cop riding a reactive motorcycle. Yes, reactive. Even the Boarder thought this guy is driving dangerous, and that's saying something.
Either way, the PC went on his way, deep into Skin Borg territory. They had to purchase gas masks on the way there, because pollution was high this day. The cost was triple, and one of them remained behind to try and get another bargain.
They're yet to see him, but he has probably decided against the purchase, one of them suggested. It was a rip-off for the new guys, who didn't own gasmasks already.
The rest of them used a building with quite an elaborate stairs in front of it to make better stunts - continuing into the alley of a small park, where they could get maximum speed.
Except there were Skin Borgs on the place, and they were buzzed - more than usual, that is. Actually, the three of them moved to intercept the guys. The PC dodged it, as well as most of the other Boarders.
When they stopped after the chase, they found out they're one down. The 6 of them were amazed, but one explained he had seen him dropping after one of the Skin Borgs has managed to strike him on the head. He then raced after them in order to gather them, but actually slipped and fell, becoming the slowest one (yeah, he rolled a 1 on the driving roll). Well, he did roll with it, and had knee-elbow pads, but still!
So they went and noticed the guy in front of the house. It was then that the three Skin Borgs rushed from a nearby door, swinging lead pipes and skullcrushers. That was a trap, it seemed - and those guys were seriously buzzed.
It was then that the PC lead the...retreat, shall we say. Of course they outran them, but the guy was still there, lying with bleeding foot and face. Only one remained.
(He found them later, and reported he's got a telescopic in the ribs, but had managed to slam his slipboard against a Skin Borg, while jumping. Given the acceleration, that means broken ribs, as everyone knew - even through the high-tech armour Skin Borgs favour).
So, they went back. The guy had lead the Skin Borgs on a chase after that, so they were probably still searching for him. Trouble was, they didn't know how to move the unconscious one without making his condition harder.
So they sent a couple to look for a Black Med, and the rest dragged him into an abandoned house. The med, a latino-looking guy, tried to follow them with his own roller-skates, but tripped and fell, sustaining nasty injuries. After that, he refused to do more than walking.
Be as it may, he managed to help the guy... well, mostly.
"I can fix the open break in his foot, setting the bones together. I can give him something for the pain. I can tell you he doesn't seem to have sustained brain damage. But for the cuts near his eye? Go find a better-equipped doctor, you seem like the kind that has insurance that covers that. It's safer to tamper with his eye when you've got machines."
So they did. And it actually made better impression among indies than trying and failing.
At least one of the Boarders, though, was pissed off. And he asked our guy to help him stage a meeting. It began with the guy addressing them in the following manner:
"Guys and gals, chicas and chicos, none of you's a lady nor a gentleman, and I don't hate you enough to call you brothers and sisters..."
At the end, he talked around 15 of them to jump the Skin Borgs and give them a lesson. (It was especially easy with some of them... a half-Russian chick lugging a broadsword around actually exclaimed "I don't want to do that, but these skin borgs gotta learn that in Mother Russia, the board rides you!" And as far as anyone knows, she's never been in Russia, nor outside of the city for that matter).
Anyway. Our Boarder went for it, too, not willing to show needless restraint. For the fight, they decided to ambush the Skin Borgs near the Lumens, because there are always some of them hanging to maybe catch a cultist. The PC jumped on a balcony, then landed on a Skin Borg, knocking him down - and activated his Jump Drive.
Yeah, this one wasn't getting up any time soon anyway.
The only drawback? The PC got his leg broken by a skullcrusher's swing. Well, the Russian chick brought the other guy down with her swing, but it still hurt.
So the Black med actually got some more business tonight, when they carried him to the same place. The Boarder paid lots more than he was expected to, but so it goes when you don't haggle.

The Black Med
Fixed some people up, and got more than a bit of money from some Indies that needed emergency help. See the Boarder entry.
And one of them asked for a knockout drug. Why? Well, his friend tended to beat her. "He's not that bad...he just needs a little calming down when I say something that makes him angry!" He didn't say anything - other than a price and exact dosage. He also explained what would happen if it happened to become an overdose. Just in case.
(And if you think that "I say something that makes him angry" is a red flag, you're right. But at least once, the "date rape drug" was going to be used to prevent a date rape. And the icing on top, which the PCs might uncover or not? It's not a boyfriend...it's her brother. Yes, I said it's messed up).
 Our doctor also talked with some kid gang. They needed some wounds and rashes taken care of, and he did so - for a kitchenknife spear. And they made a deal.
"See, man - there's these Wells, ya know? We've slept in their building's entry a couple times, and happen ta know them wife is always beating on Mr Softie Husband when there's a power outage. She tends to throw plates. So he usually needs stitches."
"So, I should wait for a power outage?"
"Nah, men - that's why we get 50% of what he pays you. There's going to be a power outage tonight. My nose can predict it."
And there was. The man had something like 12$, but the Street Doctor just said "then you'll owe me... 20$ it is, total. I'll come to collect the other 10$ tomorrow, you can just sleep there on the stairs and not risk the night city".
The guy agreed (and actually saved his life, as my random tables showed).
There's lots of demand for medical services in the city. But it's also not always at convenient places. So sometimes, you gotta create some demand...


The Freak
There is lots and lots of stuff going on with the Freak. So much, in fact, that I'd only notice the important events.
-She hooked up with Yellow. They share a common trait: a sex drive well over the top (and through the roof). Well, if you ask them, they're just bed buddies.
-She managed to find the Black Trader named Natasha (presumably a wrong shortening of the word Anastasya), which should appear in the Utopia Child write-up. That was accomplished by the simplest possible method: Remember she's dressing up Goth style. Find the nearest Goth party. Work the network to get everyone to notice you. Get the bartender to tell her you're looking for her.
Then plant a psychic bug on her guard (who turned out to be gay by the random table, and he didn't approve her hugging him while at work - but then a Freak behaving oddly isn't all that weird).
Then she managed to gather a contingent of several gangs to capture her.
This lead to our Freak learning that yes, the Black Trader has been paid to provide secondary nanotech armour to the Skin Borgs. In fact, it seems they got a -30%, which is a whole lot of money.
-She managed to invite Yellow to the hunt. That's partly why the guards of Natasha were so edgy and expected trouble. (As it goes: she managed to call him while he was fucking a Skin Borg. Well, he came to help them, but also pocketed the prize for the warning).


The Bleeder
Not so many things here...
-She keeps being sent to crime scenes by her master. That's how she managed to obtain blood from Colin: the Night Shift gave it to her. They wanted an insight into his mind.
She managed to sell it at a good price to other Bleeders.
-She kinda screwed up with the whole "get the lover of my daughter off her, because he's beating her" order. She did get him off the chick - the guy was a Day Shift, but that wasn't the issue... the issue was, he was slick and made the girl feel she's guilty for being struck.
Sick, I know, but what would you expect from a corrupt cop with sadistic leanings?
So, she used a spy pigeon, and filmed him getting off with a Sex Worker (whom she paid in advance). Did I mention he's sadistic?
When they uploaded the video, it became an instant hit - because hey, amateur porn sites liked it! And news sites liked it, too.
The trouble was, the Master's daughter not only broke up with him, she also ordered her to kill the guy off. (Her father has no idea, actually - she's just abusing her privileges).
So she enlisted a fellow Bleeder, known as the Bloody Bear (for muscles, not temperament) and they waited for him outside a bar. He paid BB with Collin blood, of course. Well, the Master's daughter owes her a favour.
-The only issue was, they didn't notice a CCTV. A Day Shift visited her soon after to ask for a bribe. She's desperately looking for ways to gain money right now.


That's about it for now. That's more than a couple sessions worth, but not all characters were in all sessions - that's how our group works, and it's not a problem given the sandbox-y style. So, I plan to stop counting sessions from now.
Either way, it's a problem to decide whether the first two - the ones we played as a one-shot - should count. There's definitely continuity, whether they know that or not!