Run or Serve

Flashbacks
The Bull and the Mystery... Solo

After the bank incident, the Bull had a strange dream during the helicopter ride to Atlanta. He saw himself in a huge golden amphitheater. At one end is a large throne of ivory and onyx, and upon it sat a huge man. He welcomed the Bull to his realm, and introduced himself as Hypnos, Lord of Dream. Cole was gracious to his host and inquired as to why he was here, and Hypnos asked about what he knew about the Horrors. Cole instead told the Elder God that the Second World’s Nath-Horthath knew more about them than him. Hypnos summoned Lupinticus and questioned him instead as to the nature of the Horrors. Lupinticus refused to answer, spitting out an answer about how Hypnos ought to already know. The Outer God accused the Dreamlord of keeping them as pets, slaves, and cattle. The Bull turned on Hypnos, and the Elder God defended himself by claiming they have no sentient thoughts, and he only uses them for menial labour anyway. Lupinticus was banished, his memory of the encounter wiped, and Hypnos returned his attentions to the minotaur. The Bull was drafted (essentially against his will) to send any Horrors he finds back to this realm. He returned to his body in the helicopter abruptly.

Meanwhile, Peter had a very different experience after the bank. While he jacked in to find Billy, he found that he couldn’t jack out. He stayed in that state, jacked into the Matrix, for months. After a few days, he realized that ‘normal’ users couldn’t exactly see him. A few days after that, he compiled a sprite. That was a little surprising, but not as surprising as when he threaded his first complex form. He realized quickly that he was a technomancer, but S3-ER-V3-3O didn’t let him rest for long. The Horror had made a home in one of the subhosts of a little-known message board, and the Mystery accidentally stumbled upon his lair. After a disastrous battle, Peter spent the next few months training his abilities and tracking the Horror for another confrontation. Once S3-ER-V3-3O came into view, Peter readied himself for battle… and found himself in Nyarlathotep’s dreamscape.

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Meeting Lobon
Horrors Unleashed

Calling their contacts to inform them as to the events of Innsmouth, the runners took Lupinticus’s advice and went for a drink. Also, high in the sky laid a gigantic cosmic eye, something that Lupinticus called the Eye of Hastur. The Bull took everyone to Potts’ bar, where Ryder attracted more than a little attention. As Waver watched, a young man introduced himself as Lobon and praised Ryder’s beauty. Smitten, the assassin followed the youth to his car. Upon inspection, she saw he had purple eyes and a tattoo on his hairline depicting a crown of ivy. After making love (while Waver watched), he revealed himself as a dragon. He called himself a chosen one, and the confused Ryder set him straight. She explained all that had happened to them, and what he really was. In response, the dragon offered her a piece of bread that would make her feel better. Giddy with his newfound knowledge, Lobon didn’t notice when the Eye of Hastur looked at him. At the same moment, a bolt of lightning crashed down and delivered a Horror to the runners. It let loose a fireball that should have killed them all, but instead stopped in midair and froze the beast. The Bull and Waver took the opportunity to kill it, and Lobon was returned immediately. The dragon was a bit addled before the team explained what had happened. Ryder noticed herself becoming a little lightheaded, and Lobon revealed that it was psyche. He had gotten it from a warehouse he owned a few months back… and Waver had to wipe the Bull’s memories to keep the minotaur from murdering another Outer God. They got a call from Watcher, screaming something about things coming out of Dunkelzahn’s Rift in DeeCee, and they all climbed aboard the dragon to make it there quickly. Once safely in the air, the group found themselves in Nyarlathotep’s dreamscape once more. He scolded them for killing so many Outer Gods, and explained that the Elder Gods were coming. He would try and battle Hastur, but the two weren’t exactly on even footing. Waver used this opportunity to ask a few questions and get a better idea of what they were up against. Nyarlathotep, before he left, brought Peter and Watcher into the dreamscape and set them onto the dragon as well. Now the runners are on their way to DeeCee, and they have half a mind to confront Peter about his absence…

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The Outer Gods
Hi, my name's Lupinticus.

The runners go to Chicago and check out the Great Library, newly rebuilt with significant donations from Saeder-Krupp, Shiawase, and Aztechnology. Once there, they warned the receptionist about the oncoming Unmortals. He waved them back to the manager, who revealed himself as Lupinticus. Thoroughly confused with the whole situation, the runners had a lengthy conversation wherein Lupinticus explained that he survived through a plane-shift to the city of Celephais, where he fought the Horrors. He told that Nyarlathotep had come to him and explained that he was Nath-Horthath, an Outer God, and there are seven of these Outer Gods in each age of magic. Lupinticus also confirmed that the runners had met two other Outer Gods. Marcus LeMont was also Karakal, the original elf. Carlos “The Danger” Danger was also Zo-Kalar, the god of life and death. He also confided in Ryder that her mother was the modern incarnation of Nath-Horthath. He had begun to look for Hagarg-Ryonis before the runners told him that Dunkelzahn matched his descriptions. He also couldn’t find Lobon and Oukranos, two Outer Gods that also walk the Earth. When hearing about the Unmortals, he quickly concluded that they were being led by Tamash, an Outer God who can grant immortality to his followers. Their line of questioning was interrupted by a headache on the part of the god, a sign that a few Outer Gods were closing in together. Thanking the Outer God, the runners left for Seattle.

Calling Kortos during a refueling period, they told her everything (including her position as this World’s Nath-Horthath). Unfortunately, she had worse news. The Unmortals were in Seattle, and there were several explosions in the skyline. By the time they landed, Kortos delivered the news that Marcus had the word ‘Innsmouth’ carved into his chest. Also, the regional headquarters for Saeder-Krupp, Aztechnology, and Shiawase were destroyed.

Travelling to the small Massachusetts town of Innsmouth, the Bull successfully landed the chopper in a bout of sudden turbulence. They walked through the forest for a mile until reaching the Matrix-less town. Waver found Carlos’s astral beacon in the town hall, and Ryder picked the large lock on the door. The Bull knocked out the guard in the immediate vicinity, and Waver levitated the whole team down the creaky set of wooden stairs. They saw a dark altar when they landed, with a small semicircle of robed, hooded cultists chanting loudly. Surprising them all, Waver threw a massive fireball. As the ash fell, the runners found themselves thrown against the wall by an unseen force. Walking through a side door, Tamash offered them a chance to join his congregation. At each refusal, he took a few drops of blood and flicked them onto the dark altar. He gave the second prophecy, saying, “Magic, Matrix, all the earth will tremble when they arrive. When he arrives. None will live but those who believe.” As the final drops of blood hit the altar, a large rift opened and strange ethereal words streamed forth. Tamash looked forth in horror, said, “Oh. I see,” and put a bullet in his brain. The force holding the runners disappeared, and the rift closed. The runners absorbed the light that was released by Carlos and Marcus, and returned home to see what they could figure out about this new world of Outer Gods.

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Rooftops and Bank Heists
Carlos is Back

After six months away, the team was called together again by Kortos and Watcher. Kortos delivered the unfortunate news that there was a Horror on Earth, she released it, and it was in the Matrix. It passed through when the tribomb hit, and has been weakening the infrastructure ever since. However, Watcher had a more pressing concern. He had lost the key to his personal bank vault in a poker game, and needed the runners to get it back. They agreed reluctantly, and reconnected on the way from New York to Seattle.
Scoping out the bank and surrounding area, Waver found an astral beacon linked to Carlos “The Danger” Danger, now a vampire. He was walking with several other men, notably a lean elf, masked man, and weakened human. Waver told the team about what to expect, and they waited. After dusk passed, they heard the distinct sound of chopper blades approaching. The men were rappelling onto the roof of the bank. The Bull saw Carlos jump down, and blew him away with a full blast from his machine gun. Carlos fell, perforated, through the roof. Ryder hit the elf in the helicopter with a crossbow bolt, and Waver finished him with a stream of acid. However, instead of simply dying, the elf disappeared and left his clothes and gear in a heap. The masked man tried to sneak up on the Bull from the ground, and received a combat axe to the head for his troubles, also disappearing. Ryder hit another guy with a bolt, causing him to melt away, and Waver saw the same thing when he tried to control the thoughts of the chopper pilot. However, when the pilot melted, the helicopter continued to fly. The attached railgun swiveled towards the mage and fired, letting loose a deadly volley. Waver was surrounded by the purple light in blinding intensity and his life was restored, but he found the light would not fade astrally. Now, he was an astral beacon. The helicopter crashed into the roof of the bank, obliterating it.
Having had enough of this, the Bull entered the bank to confront Carlos. The shaman was perfectly friendly, and asked to be killed so he could rejoin his friends. He wasn’t speaking metaphorically, either. He was part of a gang called the Unmortals, and they’re whisked away somewhere safe when they would otherwise die. The Bull was more than happy to fulfill his request. Just then, the lights faded and shut down, and the team found their wireless weapons were useless. Carlos had mentioned ‘Billy’, and Peter quickly determined Billy to be a powerful technomancer. Peter descended to the vaults as Ryder and the Bull felt their nervous systems shut down, and he saw the technomancer disappear after he shot the frail man in the head.
Returning topside, the team received another message from Watcher, claiming they would get a hefty bonus if they could retrieve the dog tags from each of the bodies. They did so, and found a strange pattern on the edges. They locked together, and on the back they could determine a set of coordinates. These coordinates matched those of the Great Library in Chicago.

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Tir na nOg
Ending Wars

The runners lost three weeks to upgrades before taking on the Red Queen. They created their plans, scoped out the various possible houses, and bought the necessary gear. It started with the theft of a cargo plane from a Tir Tairngire military base. The plane needed to stop to refuel in New York, but made it the rest of the way to Tir na nOg. Once there, Ryder disguised herself as the Red Queen and found out where Kortos would be spending the night. After a lengthy stake-out, the team assassinated the guards on the perimeter of the building silently. They then set up a total of fourteen rockets on the first and second floor. The Bull fired a final one to set off a chain reaction that collapsed the entire house. Out of the flames and smoke, however, stood Llewellyn Kortos, clad in glowing green armor. The Bull hesitated, but Watcher wasted no time in putting a bullet into her chest. Ryder ran close and let off a crossbow bolt, but it bounced off the thick armor. Kortos yelled out before Waver could let his spell off, asking for parley. She floated closer to the group and asked what they were doing. When Waver explained their mission from the Court, she offered a deal: let her live, and they would find Marcus and the hand. Ryder and Waver were more than a little wary about double-crossing a dragon (revealing Lofwyr’s identity to the rest of the group in the process). The Bull made a counter-offer of killing her then and there. When the Red Queen showed confusion as to why anyone wanted to kill her in the first place, the group explained that her plans had actually weakened the Matrix, the last line of defence against the Horrors. Overcome with guilt, Kortos pleaded that she wanted to die. Instead, Waver offered her a chance to redeem herself. She could stop the war, tell them about Marcus and the hand, and fake her death, all in exchange for researching what she had done to the Matrix and passing the information along. She agreed.
Travelling across a pond to Marcus’s location, they found him easily. The guards let them in, and Marcus invited them into his room. He greeted them with his hand aflame, and said that he had extracted the light from the hand while he was playing with it. Angry, Waver knocked him out with a stunbolt. Reading the unconscious general’s mind, he saw that Marcus had eaten the hand and was happily surprised to find himself Awakened. The Bull cut off Marcus’s hand (twice) and blinded him as retribution. The group refueled and flew back to Seattle. They told the Court the job was done, and Lofwyr sent them on their way.
Twenty-three weeks pass. Jobs become smaller and more scarce. The full team just isn’t necessary anymore, and the runners each go their separate ways. Waver works small jobs to fund his dreams. Ryder is busy with her organization. The Bull is working with his family. Peter is doing some small-time hacking to pay off his manservant’s lifestyle. And Watcher has his eyes set on a larger prize…

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Escape from Tir Tairngire
Nyarlathotep

The Bull woke in a white room. Ryder, Peter, Waver, and Watcher were all unconscious around him, and each slowly woke as he searched for a way out. Waver projected himself outside to try and find the group’s stolen gear. He killed two enemy mages on the way, and discovered both the location of the gear and the keycode to unlock his cell. Appearing before the cell’s guards, he tried to convince them that the runners had escaped. The guard didn’t believe the story, and Waver killed him. The other guard, fearing for his life, unlocked the door. Running through the complex, Watcher used the dead guard’s pistol to kill the mages’ partners, and the group reclaimed their loot. They ran down to the lobby and killed the receptionist (who was blocking the exit) before escaping. Gunfire followed them, but they made it to their vehicles in time. They passed through the border crossing with ease, and the purple light restored Ryder’s sight.
Upon entering Seattle, the group received a message telling them to head to the Corporate Court immediately. During the drive, they decided to confirm the run with FastJack and receive their payment. They relayed the information they learned to him in the Matrix, and he seemed pleased. Then his form glitched out and became a monstrous humanoid. He revealed himself as the Crawling Chaos, and Waver remembered an old story he had read that used that name. The Crawling Chaos was a moniker for Nyarlathotep, one of the more powerful entities in the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. Nyarlathotep explained much and more about the Horrors, and alluded to a force even more powerful than them.
Arriving at the Corporate Court, the runners were let in without a wait. The Court looked the same, except a blue-skinned man sat in Saeder-Krupp’s chair. Ryder instead saw a dragon where the man sat, and Waver recognized him as a dracoform. He set the runners upon the Red Queen, bidding them to kill her and LeMont. He told them she was holed up with the powerful families of Tir na nOg, and changed her location often. The runners left quickly to follow out his commands.

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Two Weeks Later
Repercussions

The runners were tortured in turn by Marcus and Kortos. Ryder wore a mask of needles, Waver lost his unnatural hand once more, Watcher broke down in tears, and the Bull was agonized by the elves. During the interrogation, Marcus let slip the name of the nuke: the Tribomb.

During their two weeks of incarceration, however, things have changed outside. The UCAS has tracked the missile back to Tir Tairngire and declared war. In response, the elves have sent stormtroopers to take Seattle. The Corporate Court is angered over the loss of profit war brings (except Ares, they’re loving it). Tir na nOg has also declared war under General LeMont, but it’s a much smaller threat than the mainland enemy.

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The Red Queen
Saving DeeCee

The runners felt immensely powerful after absorbing the light, and Peter quickly cracked the encryption on the email address. It was sent from S3ERV33O@tir.com, which was found to be REDQUEEN@tir.com. Ryder recognized this title as her mother’s, and they set off to find her. Upon entering the Tir Tairngire office where Llewellyn Kortos was supposed to work, Ryder name-dropped her mother. Guards streamed in and were summarily taken care of by the seasoned killers. The group quickly found Kortos’s room upstairs, and she explained everything with the help of General LeMont. She shared her visions with Ryder, and explained they had sent a nuclear device to DeeCee in order to pre-emptively stop a rift from opening up there. The runners, suitably surprised, set about trying to stop this. They called in the help of Merlock Madigan, who loaned them an Odin Mech. With his help, they intercepted the missile and flew back in a few minutes. Kortos was furious with them, and tricked them into entering a gas chamber. The runners are unconscious now, in the clutches of Kortos and LeMont.

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Loose Ends
Tying them up...

The group visited the warehouse to check up on the machine. Waver fast-talked his way past the police guards and saw that they were already dismantling it. He told them to send the pieces to Jerry, and instructed him to split up the pieces in several dumps. Later, on the way to kill Sumayya Ali, each member of the team received a message titles “Watch this. Now.” from an anonymous sender. The video enclosed showed Fuji and Ordo’s execution, with the words ‘This is for Bug City’. Purple light rose from their bodies and shot off-screen. Upon arrival at Ali’s apartment, the runners took out their anger on her by cutting off her head and blowing it to pieces. Hermann traced the message to an @tir.com address, but nothing more specific than that could be found.

Two weeks later, FastJack contacted the Mystery. Data about weapons research is being deleted from the Matrix, and the decker has upgraded the whole team’s commlinks to decks (temporarily). Waver took the initiative and called Shiawase and Saeder-Krupp to talk about it. Jerry told him about Building 7C, the radiation testing building, where money is being poured in with little to no benefit being seen. Shiawase also told him about money going into Matrix research with no visible benefit. Infiltrating 7C, Waver found a ton of dirty bombs, and a large basement. He is puzzled as to the purpose, and how all of this fits together. And purple light has enveloped every member of the team, absorbed by their bodies.

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Bug City
The Ant Prophecy

The runners were called before the Corporate Court to be tasked with bringing a deed from Chicago back to Seattle. The deed was for Saeder-Krupp to legally inhabit an irradiated area near Tir Tairngire, and it was located within the Great Library. They were also given a time limit of 24 hours. Making short time to Bug City, the runners soon found themselves tailed by a small biker gang. It was led by Jerry Sandski, an academic who had lost his family. He offered to lead them to the library, but his path was blocked by a large Roach Spirit. He and Ryder together made short work of it, and his gang used explosives to detonate the body. It let out a death scream as Ryder shot it up, though, and the scuttling swarm could be heard rising behind the group.

Once they made it to the library, they found the doors were locked. With the swarm fast approaching, Jerry suggested running into the sewers to escape. Ant Spirits followed them down, and Waver attempted to slow them with a fireball. However, as he didn’t want to look at them, he thrust his hand backwards to attempt to hit them. He felt a burning sensation in a his hand, and flailed it around to try and stop it. Finally giving in and looking at his hand, he found a charred stump. He’d lost his right hand. Meanwhile, the Ant swarm was speaking to the running group, saying things like “Run, fools… run,” and “You can’t escape. You can’t escape your destiny. He will awake.”

At the end of the sewer was a door to the library basement, and the whole group made it through in time to shut the door on the swarm. Making their way upstairs, and dropping prodigious amounts of plastic explosive along the way, the runners found the great hall of the library. Searching in the ‘deed’ section of the library proved fruitful, and Waver and Ryder found the deed at the same time. What they failed to notice, however, was the Spider Spirit on the ceiling. It grabbed Peter by the head and pulled him upwards. Watcher heard his panicked shots and killed the Spirit before Peter got too close. The group heard the door splinter downstairs, heralding the arrival of the Ants, and decided to get out of there. Running through the hall and bursting through the entrance, the runners were happily surprised to see a Corporate Court helicopter waiting for them. Getting onboard, the relieved group flew high into the sky. Jerry blew the explosives he’d placed, in an attempt to kill the Bugs still within the library. Out of the wreckage, however, rose a massive Mantis Spirit.

Within seconds, the Mantis brought down the helicopter. Jerry and Ryder managed to get a few bursts of machine gun fire in, and Watcher hit the Bug with an enchanted sniper bullet that caused a Fireball spell to go off. The helicopter began a controlled descent as soon as it was clear it wouldn’t be able to make it, but the Mantis crushed it and pushed it to the ground. The Mantis used this break in the fight to heal itself. The mounted machine guns, and gunners, were crushed beneath the metal. Ryder escaped easily, but Jerry was stuck. Watcher pulled out his rocket launcher and hit the Mantis full on, causing it to sway before dying. Waver ran to the car and sprayed a stream of acid at the Spirit, ultimately killing it. Watcher pulled Jerry out of the helicopter and ran to the car, letting everyone get away before the Mantis fell. The impact caused a shockwave that shook the city, but the runners made it back to Seattle without too much more trouble. Meeting with the Corporate Court with two hours left, they were simultaneously praised and admonished for finding the deed, but failing to save the Court-ordered chopper. They were still paid handsomely, and Jerry was given a job at Saeder-Krupp.

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