(all dialogue is in Portuguese)
Palach went to Bob’s Discount Bodyparts to get a datajack installed.
The commlink’s buzz stirred Puma awake. The morning sun streaking through the blinds signaling it was too early to even be thinking of talking to anyone. Turning over the ’link He saw “Anonymous Caller.”
Looking at the clock it was 6 am when he just went to bed after the Condor job in the early AM.
He answered greeted by a young human woman in scrubs. She smiled as she said, “Hello, we’re just calling to confirm your appointment later this afternoon with Tuck. The appointment is at 2:00 p.m. at our Paredao clinic. Tuck wanted me to impress upon you that this checkup would be most beneficial for you going forward. If you have questions about insurance, please be at the office thirty minutes early. Thanks, and we hope to see you then!”
“I think you have the wrong number.” said Puma.
“No. This is the correct commcode.” said the nurse.
“Ok. I’ll be there.” said Puma scratching his head.
Palach got the same call and said “Who are you calling for?”
“Palach.” said the Nurse.
“Ok.” said Palach.
Upon arriving at the clinic’s address, they had to navigate through a crowd of protesters. Most were locals in worn or tattered clothes. The ones waving signs like “Stop experimenting on us!”; “Return our people!” and “Corporations out!” were dressed in weathered armor like gangers but not in green or red. They had patches and tattoos with an A in a circle but they didn’t have either 646 or 101st patches so were with a different Anarchist collective. One was an ork wearing an armored jacket with a large yellow happy face with a single drop of blood on it on the back. The crowd was only around forty-four people of assorted metatypes.
The crowd hadn’t turned violent, but the Horizon security guards were outnumbered and obviously nervous.
Palach greeted her neighbors.
“Hey great you are joining the protest. These fuckers are going to pay.” said one.
“Yeah uh what’s going on?” asked Palach.
“I’m just here for a job.” said Puma.
“You working for these corporate scum?” asked another.
The clinic had Horizon’s sun blazoned on the side of what was obviously expanded out of some type of cargo container specifically made for disaster relief like an origami trailer home. Two steely eyed heavily armed ork guards stood out front wearing head to toe Horizon armor. Beyond getting pummeled with insults, they were able to enter the clinic without incident.
Entering the clinic’s waiting room was like stepping into another world. The sprawl’s stink and cacophony were replaced with elevator music. and the sharp tang of antiseptic. They drew more than a few glances from the others seated in the cramped area as they approached the reception desk and signed in. The nurse behind the desk recognized them and sent them an ARO with medical forms. Going to the only open seats, which happened to be the
small ones between a play area for children and a fire extinguisher, they plopped down and waited.
It was not long before the door to the back opened and a large Caucasian human Tuck emerged, escorting an ork mother and her daughter from the examination rooms. He exchanges a few hushed words with the mother, and then bended down to give the kid a sucker. The daughter took the sucker with a brand new cyber arm. He waved at them as they left.
Then motioned for them to accompany him to the back, stopping a moment to let the front desk know he will be busy for the next few minutes.
They followed the Doc past the examination rooms and into a storage room. As they entered, he shut the door behind them.
Tuck put up AROs detailing the job.
“Thank you for coming. I trust that the receptionist making arrangements wasn’t too jarring for you? In any case, I asked you here to procure your services in a recovery. There was a body recovered not far from here. According to my examination, she was killed by an animal. It was something large, but able to keep its presence hidden in a crowded area. The marks are consistent with, if you would believe it, lion attacks near Asamondo.” Tuck said.
“This body is merely the most recent. There were two more. We have an urban hunter on our hands, and I am almost certain we are dealing with a para-animal, a magically active creature. My offer is this; track this thing down and I am prepared to offer you 8,000 nuyen each for bringing it to me alive and 4000 dead.”
They agreed to take the job and Palach flew up into Puma’s backpack. She went into VR and searched for animals that left marks consistent with the pictures Tuck had sent them. Palach was pretty sure it was a Talis cat.
As the team exited the clinic, a human from the crowd, wearing an armored jacket, tossed a lit Molotov cocktail at the corner of the building. The building caught fire, and the already energized crowd plunged into chaos. Puma forced his way through the crowd with Palach in his backpack in virtual space. The ork bodyguards forced the surging crowd back. Tuck came out with a fire extinguisher and sprayed the side of the building.
Palach researched local parazoologists and sent emails to them in a vey undiplomatic tone. Puma headed to the nearest Kong-Walmart to pick up a dart gun. They left the store and Palach asked “Do you know how to shoot that?”
“No.” said Puma. “Can you rig it to be full auto?” asked Puma.
Palach shook her head.
They walked back in and asked "What is the exchange policy. They walked back out with an AK97 with a gas vent system and a laser site. An employee chased after them handing them a complimentary duffle bag. As other customers ran in fear.
“We should just go talk to one of these parazoologists.” said Puma.
“I think the São Paulo University would be our best bet. I found the friendliest professor on RateMyProfessor.com.” Said Palach.
The crew took a cab to São Paulo University and dropped them off in the parking lot. Palach went into VR and tracked the icons of security in the matrix guiding Puma through the university avoiding patrols.
Puma stood staring at the receptionist in the parazoology department. Palach poked her head out of the backpack and said “Can we speak to Reynaldo Mendez? We have questions about his article on Territorial clashes of Talis cats in the wild.”
“Oh you’re so cute. I’ve never seen a pixie before. Oh just go right in.” said the receptionist.
“Thanks.” said Palach.
The team went into Reynaldo’s office.
“We’d like to talk to you about this article.” said Palach throwing up the article in ARO.
“Oh yes. What is it exactly you wish to know?” asked Reynaldo.
“Are these wounds consistent with a Talis Cat?” asked Palach throwing up another ARO with the gruesome pictures from Tuck.
“Yes they are. A tragedy the paranimal killings in Metropole. The government cares more about the animal’s rights than metahumans.” said Reynaldo.
“Yeah. How would you find a Talis cat without a mage?” asked Palach.
“You could track it from a kill to it’s lair.” said Reynaldo.
“Where do you think a Talis cat would lair?” asked Palach.
“Well in Paredao there are too many people living in anything with four walls for it to lair above ground. I would search the sewers.” said Reynaldo.
“How would we know we found it without a mage?” asked Palach.
“Wait for it to transform?” asked Reynaldo.
“I would rather not do that.” said Palach.
“Thank you for your time.” said Palach getting in Puma’s backpack.
Palach again directed Puma through the campus avoiding security.
The team took a cab back to the edge of Paredao. On hte way Palach researched Tuck and found that local Brazillians didn’t trust him stating he is a corp stooge. She also found a story about Tuck from Chicago how Mother a respected Shadowrunner and how Mother messaged Tuck for help and Tuck showed up like a one man Doc Wagon. Palach researched uses for Talis cats and found alive they were useful for assensing auras, detecting HMHVV. Paredao has a slight vampire problem as well as paracritters. Dead Talis cats can be used for reagents for magic.
They walked to where the most recent victim was found. They found a shaft with no manhole cover and descended.
It was incredibly warm in Metropole and humid. The smell hit them before they got near the open manhole. As they entered the sewers, the walls immediately closed in. Tunnels three meters wide snaked out ahead through old junctions. A thin layer of sediment had settled into the lowest part of the tunnels, and the ankle-deep drainage was from the rains. Immense flood-gates held back overflow from the city above, while grates covering smaller tunnels and occasional pumps dotted the walls at irregular intervals. Keeping their bearings, they headed east, hoping to find some landmark that was distinguishable from the rest of the maze. They traveled for close to half an hour before a break in the monotony occured. Ahead of them, enormous twisted steel beams had broken through the ground above, littering the area with concrete rubble and even old car parts. Above, it appeared a sinkhole formed under some buildings.
Palach connected to the sewer data system. They both received a comm message.
“Hey chummers, glad to see you made it into Paredao! Word, and casual observation, have it that you’re headed into the sewers to try to find out what happened to those people who turned up dead in Paredao. The reason I’m calling is I have a favor to ask. Before the Aztlan war, a few compatriots and I had a little network in the area for the free people in Paredao. We lost contact with one of our data centers in that area, located in an abandoned storage room in the sewers.”
“We had fixed up the doors to look like just part of the wall so workers at the time wouldn’t try to keep using the room. I can tell you where it’s at. What I want is for you to get to it and get me any old cyberdecks lying around there. Chances are good they haven’t been touched in years. What do you say to 3,000 nuyen a head to go retrieve these old paperweights for their sentimental value? Text Yes if you’re interested.”
“You seeing this? What do you think?” asked Palach.
“Sounds good to me.” said Puma.
Palach tesxted back Yes.
“Great! I’m sending you the location now. The old data center is south of the junction at this GPS coordinate, Look for a discrepancy in the lines of the east wall. Watch out for behemoths. Good luck down there.”
“What’s a behemoth?” asked Puma.
palach pulled up an ARO of a giant dinosaur sized alligator.
“If we see one we can retreat back to this narrow passage right?” asked Puma.
Puma walked through the dim sewers while Palach hacked the sewer host. Palach was able to slip in and get a map of the sewers and review the camera footage. He reveiwed the time near the murders and followed the cat from camera to camera until he found the rough location of it’s lair. He also saw an ork wearing an armored jacket with a large yellow happy face with a single drop of blood on it on the back talking to a human mage of hispanic descent. The mage handed the ork something and they both left in different directions.
Palach ran a facial recognition scan and found one was Eztli and the other was Ousa.
“Does this seem odd to you?” asked Palach showing Puma the footage.
“Why would anarchists against the Amazonian government be working with Aztechnology? If this got out it would hurt their cause.” said Palach.
“Probably why they were meeting in a sewer.” said Puma.
“Well this is the spot and…yes here is the panel to get at the lock.” said Palach pulling open a panel revealing a lock for the concealed door. Palach attempted to take the lock apart but it was built by shadowrunners to defeat that purpose.
“Let me try.” said Puma.
Puma kicked the door in splintered the lock.
Palach winced at the the sound echoing down the corridor.
They peered into the dust coughing. The weak light form the tunnel barely penetrated the room. Palach flipped the light switch.
Electricity sparked from an overhead exposed wire.
The light revealed there were several server racks being used as storage with old computing equipment on them. The lower areas of the walls showed signs of flood damage. On the room’s far side was a desk with several monitors on it. In one corner of the room was a filthy bucket and a pile of rags. Near the desk was a makeshift sleeping area made of a few old coats next to an empty and broken refrigerator. On the sleeping area was a long-dead corpse, mostly dried up. It appeared to have been a male human. the human was plugged into an old 2051 Fuchi Cyber 6 cyberdeck that was plugged into the old sewer datasystem.
“I guess this is what she wanted. the rest is junk.” said Palach putting the cyberdeck in Puma’s backpack.
Puma started to walk out of the room. He paused hearing the clicking of nails on concrete. Palach turned out the light and flew into Puma’s backpack. They heard growling from the hall. Palach attempted to hack the sewer system again but set off a system alarm and logged out. A hellhound turned the corner and breathed fire on the pair.
Palach flew on fire up to the wires and pulled them throwing them at the dog.
“Hit the light.” said Palach.
Puma ignored the set up and reached down the hellhounds throat and pulled out it’s spleen.
“That works too.” said Palach.
As they neared the Talis Cat’s layer Puma could feel the background count going up. It felt gross and slimy. It was aspected towards something Puma had never felt before. Blood magic.
The claustrophobic sewer system opened ahead into a large junction chamber. It was dark. Puma shined his commlink light in the darkness and revealed rusted old pumps rising from the floor in all four corners of the room. The floor was stained in blood, and discarded old bones littered the chamber. A small pipe, about a foot in diameter, ended abruptly eight feet off the ground on the opposite side of the room from the entrance, a small series of jutting rubble underneath it contained some sort of bone alter not made with cat hands.
Their eyes picked up movement in the pipe as something about the size of a housecat shifted inside to get a better look out. A small feline growl issued from the pipe as they approached.
Then a figure like a metahuman without skin rose out of the shallow water in the room.
“What are you doing here?” asked the blood spirit.
Puma paused having heard terrible things about blood spirits and their unusual powers.
“We want the cat.” said Puma.
“What will you give me?” asked the spirit.
Puma and Palach quickly messaged each other.
“What do spirits want?” asked Palach.
“Fee spirits crave Karma.” said Puma feeling dread at the idea of feeding this monster.
“Should we give it to them?” asked Palach.
“I don’t think we can take it.” said Puma.
“How do we do that?” asked Palach.
“There is a ritual I can show you. It just gives me some of your lifeforce. Not enough you would even miss it. It does not bind you to me.” said the spirit.
They performed the ritual and felt tired.
“Now what?” asked Palach.
“Take the cat and go. You are here only with my permission.” said the spirit.
Puma aimed his AK 97 at the house cat and paused feeling bad. He blasted it with Stick N Shock and it fell over unconscious.
Puma zip tied it’s feet together and threw it in the bag. They hustled out of the sewers looking over their shoulders.
First they messaged Tuck and he said to bring the Talis cat to the clinic.
“You found it good.” Said Tuck gesturing to an elf woman with talismans. he nodded and left.
“Here are your credsticks.” said Tuck handing them out. “Also you look burned. Let me put something on that.” said Tuck to Palach.
They texted Astra and she directed them to come to Bar 404 in 646.
Palach knew the place and lead Puma there.
“A round of top shelf on me.” said Astra handing them credsticks.
The bartender took some midgrade alcohol down from the top shelf and poured drinks in chipped glasses. Palach held a shot glass in two hands.
“What do you think killed him?” asked Palach putting up an ARO of the dead decker.
“Who knows. It was around Crash 2.0 could have been Jormugund, something else?” said Astra.
“You might want to be careful connecting to that.” said Palach.
“I’ll have a backup deck with an agent connect to it.” said Astra.
“Cheers.” said Puma raising a tumbler of rum.