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Run #1 - Dragon's Teeth

Real world: This run occurred over sessions #2 and #3, March 11, 2001, and March 18, 2001. The runners for this mission were Ajax (Corey), Hound (Angelo), Piker (Reema), and Wild Child (Mason). Mason continued to wrestle with his schedule and lost. I conferred with him on doing something interesting with his PC Wild Child; that little surprise is described below.


  • January 8 (Monday) - How to earn over 20k in one day . . .
    • 0415: Moon hires team for Run 1 - Dragon's Teeth.
    • 0900: Stop A1 - Madame Lee's Pleasure Palace (Loveland, Puyallup)
    • 1000: Stop A2 - Mafia warehouse (Puyallup)
    • 1100: Stop A3 - Private warehouse (Tacoma docks)
    • 1700: Wild Child dies outside Tony's Taps (Tacoma)
    • 1800: Target Securities (Downtown)
    • 1900: Viva Serge! (Downtown)
    • 2000: The Gates Casino (Bellevue)
    • 2400: Info from Jumpin' Jack Flash
    • 0200: Team picks up microtransceivers
    • 0415: Team meets with Maxwell
    • 0430: Team heads to Moon's Shine and gets paid, arrange sale of medical technology.
    • 0600: Medical technology sold to Maxwell et al. (10k profit apiece)


  • Italics = GM narrative (Michael)
  • This color of text = Piker (Reema)
  • This color of text = Hound (Angelo)
  • This color of text = Ajax (Corey)
  • This color of text = NPCs (Michael)


Moon finally ends his party. Free drinks flowed as everyone celebrated their escape from what they are calling a "blood farm" in Hell's kitchen. He closes up the bar, but pulls the team aside. He leans on the bar with his massive arms, the faint outline of his retracted cyberspurs casting a line of shadow up his forearms. He is just plain huge, but then again, so is Piker.

"The five of you handled yourself well back there and you stayed focused on the job at hand until your zones were clear. I know a lot of slots that can use a gun and are willing to shoot someone, but only a damn small number of them are willing to risk their hoop to achieve their goals. From what I saw, you five seem to be capable of that. I'm also glad you came back for us." Valkyrie casts a subtle glance to the rest of the team.

"That's why I beat those dirty little money grubbing slots down when they complained about the size of your shares. No drek, a few of them would have done more for the good in the world if they were being farmed for blood. About as valuable as deodorant in a Devil Rat lair." Moon half laughs as he smiles grimly.

"Anyway, from the hubbub, I think you five might be interested in doing a little follow up on these fragging leeches. I want you to take those manifests and investigate the delivery sites. I'll pay you 10 k¥ apiece, 2 k¥ each in advance. If you need more, you let me know, but don't try to screw me, I've been 'running a long time, so I know what's what and I am my own instrument of retribution." He looks a little darkly grim for a moment then breaks back into his friendly bartender demeanor. "But I don't think we'll have that problem. I'm takin' care of improving security here and figuring out what the frag happened here. Last time anyone was this stupid . . . was the Conquerors." He pauses a moment, "Anyway, you will be my Dragon's Teeth. What do you say?"

The team looks perplexed, except for Ajax, who explains, "The term 'dragon's teeth' descends from a story involving Cadmus, the legendary Greek hero reputed to have founded Thebes and invented the alphabet. The tale holds that Cadmus killed a dragon and planted its teeth in the ground. From the teeth sprang fierce armed men who battled one another until all were dead but five. These founded the noblest families of Thebes and helped build its citadel." Ajax sounds a little more scholarly than you remember from the bar and he seems to be aware of his change in demeanor, finishing with, "or some drek like that."

Moon smiles wide and claps him on the arm lightly. Ajax manages to stay on his stool, but just barely. Moon says, "Not bad, brains too. You guys might just have a future. Well, whaddya say, are we a go?"

The team, still uncomfortable with their status as a team generally half-nods and half-shrugs. Val says to Ajax, "I'm up for it." Piker looks at Moon, "Me to." Hound says, "Yeah." Ajax looks to Wild Child, prompting the ganger to add, "So how much do we get in advance?" Moon looks sidelong at him and the rest of the team collectively holds its breath. Moon smiles and answers, "Looks like someone's already dipped their toes in the shadows. Scan, twenty percent is pretty standard, so I'll give you 2 kay apiece in advance, wiz?"

Wild Child shrugs and nods. Ajax speaks up, "We'll take it." Moon reaches into a cookie jar and pulls out a fist full of certified credsticks, handing the team two apiece. A quick press of the 'check balance' button shows that they contain 1 k¥ apiece. "All right, get to it. I've got to coordinate some security upgrades and get a Decker moving on this. I'll let you know if I find anything you should know. Here's my LTG." Moon scribbles a series of numbers and characters on a cocktail napkin and hands it to Ajax. "How about yours?" He hands napkins to the group and ??? give him an LTG.

Basic Info

The two trucks have three stops apiece. Session 1a covered the first truck's stops. Session 1b covered the second truck and wrap up.

Session 1a (Primary: Reema/Piker, Contributing: Angelo/Hound, Corey/Ajax)

Piker has invited the team out to drinks after finishing their first run.  The place is Gargoyle's Roost, a bar where street fighters and boxers come to unwind.  Furniture lives a short, exciting life in this place, so it tends to be cheap, simple, and durable.  Mirrors and other fragile decorations are nowhere to be found and a quick scan of the bar reveals that the bottles are kept in clear plastic cabinets.  The round blemish in front of the bottle of Jake Daniels synthwhiskey suggests bulletproofing, no less.  The faint smell of old sweat and dirt can be picked out from the newer smells of spilled alcohol.  The background music is faint compared to the din of conversation and loud drunken bragging, but it sounds like some sort of drinking songs from Tir na nOg.  There seems to be a solid film of dust or dirt covering most of the furniture.  Hound, Ajax, and Val scan about the bar and quickly spot Piker, who is sitting and drinking at a table with a redheaded human man that appears to be in his mid-40s. His laugh is as loud as Piker's and, by the looks of the collection of empty bottles and glasses, he appears to drink about as much as she does.

The team starts to make their way over to Piker as she waves to them.  The man gets up and fetches two pitchers of synthbeer, bumping into a tough-looking Ork and spilling a little beer on him.  Anger washes the smile from the Ork's face.  He grimaces and turns around.  He stops dead in his tracks when he spots the smiling little human.  The man says something unintelligible, chuckles, and continues back to Piker's table.  This happens two more times before he makes it back, the same scene replaying itself.  It would appear that no one wants to piss off Piker's drinking buddy; of course, in this place, you don't want to piss off anybody.

Fellow patrons casually and intermittently eye the team as they pass, but turn back to their own business when the quartet reaches Piker's table and they sit down.  From here, they can see what appears at first glance to be a small dance floor, but the traces of bloodstains on the sawdust-strewn region suggest dancing of a very different sort.

Piker nods at the team as they reach the table, " Hey. Ajax, Hound, Val, dis is muh dad, Angus.  Dad, dese are muh new friends."

Hound extends his hand to shake. "Good to meet you, Angus. You raised one hell of a tough daughter there."

Ajax tentatively extends his hand to shake and mutters "Pleasure to meet you."

Angus's face adopts an inquisitive expression as he scans the group.  In a thick, indistinct accent reminiscent of Tir NA nOg, he says, "So what made them yuir friends?" 

Piker perks up and says, "We saved each udder's hoops a lot lately."

Angus smiles wide and laughs loudly as he says, "Wull then, anyone can lay claim to saving Piker's big arse deserves a round o' cheap drinks."  He smiles and winks at Val as he pushes the two pitchers of synthbeer and some glasses towards the new arrivals. "So, tell me grand tale of survival."  Angus says with a friendly hint of sarcasm.

Hound just chuckles and leans back in his chair, content to let the others talk for now. After such a dangerous run, it feels good to just sit back and relax.

Ajax seems uneasy in this place, but manages a polite smile while looking for a handkerchief to wipe off his mug before he drinks. While calmly out of place at Moon's Shine Ajax is clearly not in his element here.

Hound seems as though he's about to interject, but then he doesn't. Instead he finishes his beer and refills his mug from one of the pitchers. Seeing it running low, he signals for a waitress to bring a refill.

The waitress was probably once a vision of cheesecake, but twenty or so years, a few thousand packs of cigarettes, a lot of makeup, and the soul consuming despair of being a wage slave in a world where the slave part is a lot more true than the wage, seems to have taken its toll. Her skin is leathery and she has to force her default grimace into a smile when she drops off the pitcher. Val offers up a "Thanks!" that is full of warmth and sincerity. Ajax unconsciously tips the waitress a little too well for this bar and her smile gets bigger, followed by a mischievous wink at the charismatic elf. Ajax quickly realizes the consequences of his actions and parries with a noncommittal smile. Turning back to Piker, who is more than happy to continue talking.

Piker takes the last swig of her synthbeer and starts pouring another one.  "Like I was saying," she takes a gulp from her newly filled mug, "we had de delivery trucks and we knew when and where dey needed to be."

Angus nods and says, "Aye, aye, so how did that turn out?"

Piker gets a smirk on her face and looks at Angus, "I bet you de next round of syntbeer that you can't guess where de first truck stop was." Piker pauses for Angus to respond.

Angus smirks, then says, "Go on lass, tell the bloody tale.  Tain't no time for Q&A."

Piker rolls her eyes and says, "OK, scan dis." She pauses again. "It was at Madame Lee's Pleasure Palace!"  She shakes her head while laughing "seem like everyting in muh life always start dere!"  She laughs ever harder.  "What was I sayin?  Oh yeah, Madame Lee's.  So, me and Ajax go in to talk to Madame Lee, de rest o' dem wait in de truck 'cuz I don' wanna spook Madame Lee.  I go to her and try to tell her dat I want to talk private.  She dun' listen to me, but she listen to Ajax; he's got a good mouth."  Piker jokingly winks and blows a kiss at Ajax.

"At a back room I tell her our story and dat her place is de firs' place on de list.  She goes off to talk to someone and comes back and tells us she don' know drek.  I tell her some more and it look like her lights turned on, den she went off again.  She came back wid a slap mark on her face.  Look like she was hit hard, but it look like a small hand hit her, like a human woman.  I tought a human woman dat strong gotta be a vamp.  Madame Lee told us dat de person we had business wid left and we should leave too."  She takes another sip of synthbeer.

Angus smiles wryly and interjects, "So lass does that make me a vamp?"

Piker slaps him on the back and says, "Dat must be it.  Anyway we left, den Wild Child calls me and sez a woman in a red dress ran across de street from de area where Madame Lee's place is. So I tell dem to follow her in de truck and me and Ajax will catch up by foot.  So dey tell me she went to de monorail station.  Hound and Wild Child get dere first.  I dunno what happened, but when I got dere, a concussion grenade just went off and Wild Child was rolling down de stairs."

Angus adopts a quizzical look, then comprehension washes the expression away. "Aye, the dead fella."

Hound answers the implied query, "Be happy you missed the action, Piker. It wasn't fun. Wild Child and I picked up Miss Red Dress's scent and followed it to the station, like you said. When we got there she wasn't around, but we did spot these two slots waiting for us, SMGs pointed right at the stairs. I shouted a warning to Wild, then jumped the rail for cover. Some cover! Jumped right into another one of 'em. Dwarf with a shotgun. I think I startled him, but he was quick to react. Came right up on me, swinging a bat I think. I don't really remember now; things got hairy quick. Turns out they were all 4 of 'em vampires. Oh yeah, there was a fourth one, circled around and tried to gang up on me. I took a shot at the leech's head, but I just grazed him."

"After that it was all downhill. I kept tryin' to shoot the damn bloodsuckers in the head, but they're damn tough, and fast too. One of 'em got in a lucky blow, and I staggered back toward the rail. A couple seconds later and I took another one. Wild Child had already started to get the frag out of there, and I figured he had the right idea. But the vamps were so damn fast, I knew I couldn't outrun them. So when I got knocked toward the rail again, I just rolled with it and dropped down on the track. I figured they might not follow me onto the track, and maybe I could skate, but the big Ork vamp just came right after me. The last thing I remember is him pounding me and the sound of the train coming."

Everyone at the table shrugs and Piker continues, "Anyway, he tells me and Ajax dat Hound is up dere wid a coupla vamps.  So we get up dere and Hound is laid out looking like drek warmed ovuh.  I snatched his hoop and we left.  Val healed Hound and Wild Child, but dey were still hurting."

Hound interjects, "Yeah, next thing I know, I'm waking up with Val here standing over me." Hound looks over at the woman who has healed his wounds multiple times over the last few days. "Thanks again, Val. When we get a chance, I'll buy you a drink in a better place than this. Anyway, back to the fight. I don't know why the vamps didn't kill me, or at least let me get hit by the train, but I don't like to question my good luck."

Val shrugs and smiles one of her usual, infectious smiles, "Well, makes sense to me. It's what I would probably do. Taking some slot out of commission to get the job done is a nobrainer, but letting him get squished by a monorail, that's just wrong. Besides," her smile turns mischievous and a little evil, "maybe they pulled you up on the platform for a quick drink." Val nudges Hound playfully and giggles as she makes a comical, toothy vampire face.

She takes the last gulp of her drink and continues, "We headed to de next stop, a warehouse in Puyallup controlled by de mob.  De plan was for Val ta put de truck in de loadin' dock.  Den me and Ajax tell de FTs, ya know de Forever Tacomas, dat we here to pick up some Drek.  I don' remember what exactly we suppose to say, all I knew is dat Ajax was gonna be doing all de talking. 

"Everyting was null sheen at firs'. De FT's brought out crates dat de truck was supposed to pick up.  Everyting was great, we were gonna takes de crates and see what was supposed to be picked up by de vamps.  Den, we got fragged."

Angus' eyes open wide in surprise.

"No, we didn' get fragged, the pickup got fragged.  One of de FTs asked for an ID on Ajax.  Ajax tried to get out of it and I tried to help out 'cuz de FTs seen me with de mob before, but de FTs got really suspicious and dey called der boss." De boss wanted to talk to Ajax, Ajax refused, and tings were really getting more and more fragged up.  So I decided to talk to de boss, tinking dat I can go to de mob later and describe de face of de man in der organization dat is dealing wid vamps."

Ajax interjects, "I was even getting nervous at this point. I thought I could BS my way past the FT's, but with the "boss" looking at me from the vid-phone. All I could do was pass the call off to Piker. We should have realized that they would have had a way to check our ID . . . we won't make that mistake again."

"But tings got really fragged when I get on de phone."  She looks at her dad and chuckles nervously. "Guess who was on de phone?" She doesn't pause for an answer; rather, she continues, "T'was Tony, you know, Tony 'de shiv' Spinelli, de guy who calls me up when he needs some muscle for de mob."  She shakes her head in disbelief.  "I couldn' believe it, Tony was surprised too.  He asked why I was der, I told him I got called 'cuz dere was trouble at Hell's kitchin and dey called me.  He asked about Ajax, I said I didn' know him 'cuz I didn't want to show my hand in front of de FTs.  So Tony told me to take Ajax out, and to bring him in if he survived.  So I hung up and we left in de truck."

Ajax, "Actually he said bring me in OR take me out if I wouldn't come. I think he would have been much more impressed with me had I lived through an attack by Piker"

Piker takes a more serious tone. "Now I know if I don' bring Ajax in, or at least go talk to Tony, he'll tink I was trying to steal from him and he'll get me geeked faster den drek.  So I decided to go to Tony and come clean wid him.  I know de mob, and I didn' tink dey work with vamps, but I didn' know dat for sure.  So Ajax decided to come wid me to speak wid Tony." She pats Ajax on de back and smiles.  Ajax manages not to spill too much of his drink.

Ajax replies with, "We were all scared at this point. The mob scares people in Bellevue too. I didn't want to go, particularly, but when somebody pull's your hoop out of the fire . . . well, you've got to help those who help you."

Piker nods and smiles as she continues, "We get to Tony's and we start talking.  Actually I wanted Ajax to do de talking 'cuz he's a lot better dan me, but Tony wanted me to talk.  So I told Tony de whole story wid de vamps and de kidnapping and getting out of Hell's Kitchin and all dat Drek, 'cept de part 'bout Moon hirin' us.  Tony starts saying some drek 'bout me drinkin' too much and almost laughing when I talk 'bout vamps.  Ajax pipes in and backs me, and luckily Tony don' shove a shiv in his troat for interruptin'. 

Den Tony makes some calls while we wait outside.  When he's done he tells us dat some higher-ups in de mob want us to look into dis.  So Tony tells us to bring in a vamp to answer some questions, and he'd give up 10 K for it!  Can you belie' dat!  I tought I was gonna loose a hand or finger, but I was getting hired instead!"  She laughs while hitting the table and continues, "Everyting was great, den Ajax gets a little greedy and asks Tony for some more money."  She looks at Ajax and shakes her head "Once again, luckily Tony didn' shove a shiv in his troat for being a smart ass.  Tony reminded Ajax dat he's allowing us to live after we almost stole his shipment of BTL, de drek at de warehouse.  Turns out der wuz a quarter mill in dose crates.  Ajax agrees and we manage to leave in one piece"

Ajax, "It can't hurt to ask . . . "

Angus snorts and mutters almost to himself, "Oh, but it can hurt lad."

Piker fills her mug again and drinks it in one gulp, then says, "Ah, dat hit de spot.  What was I talking about?  Yeah, grabbing a vamp.  So me and Ajax get back to de team, we tell 'em what's going on and we head out to de tird stop.  So we got to de warehouse at de docks right here in Tacoma. 

We parked de truck at de loadin' dock.  Me, Ajax and Hound went in de warehouse.  It was dark, look'd like no one Dere.  Den Ajax shouts dat der is a mage der.  When he said dat, two eart' elemental pop out and start attacking us.  I t'ought eart' elementals were tough, right?"  She looks at Hound and Ajax with a smile.

Hound opens his mouth a bit in disbelief, then smiles as Piker continues.

Ajax laughs nervously.

Piker continues, "I 'm just fraggin with you, de elementals where tough, but not tougher Dan me.  Dey smacked Hound and Ajax hard, but we smacked dem harder and dey were dust at de end."  She punches her right fist into her left hand."

Hound retorts, "Oh yeah, they were real pushovers. Damn near broke my ribcage with one punch, and that was when _I_ went after _them_. You want my advice? If you feel like going up against an elemental or two, be sure you keep a fragging tough troll adept by your side, eh Piker?"

She continues, "After Dat, we started searchin' for de mage.  Hound spotted him outside de warehouse floating aroun' trying to escape.  Hound tried to drop de mage wid a taser, but de bastard dodged, de only reason he dodged is 'cuz he didn't have an elemental beating on him, right Hound?"  She smiles at Hound briefly.

Hound half-smiles back, and mutters something about, "Yeah, well, those taser darts aren't worth drek at long range . . . "

Ajax, "I think we'll have an easier go of it the next time. We just need to work together better. If I had line of sight on the mage earlier I could have hit him with a stun bolt and probably dropped him."

"I tried to trow a rock at him, but twas like his skin was like rubber 'cuz that rock just bounced off o' him," she says with a look of bewilderment.

"Anyway, de bastard tries to fly over de roof to get away, but I trow a concussion grenade that hits de roof at de exact place where he was.  It was one sweet shot!  It hit him hard and he drops to de ground.  Oh, I forgot to mention dat de mage is a vamp.  So I tie him up and Ajax mixes some stuff and injects de mage to make sure he don' wake up any time soon."

Val interjects, "Well actually, I mixed up the stuff Ajax told me to. He didn't know his way around my gear, but he sure knew the right mix to keep mojo leech down."

She pauses, then she looks troubled. "HEY! I've been doing a lot o' talking and not enough drinking, one o' you omaes take it from here while I get some more to drink."

Val smiles and says, "Cripes, omae, there ain't much more to say about that. Man but you can talk when we get a little beer in you!" Val's good-natured manner and smile make it nigh impossible to take the comment negatively. She looks at Angus and says, "OK, so that gets up to the point where we've got this trussed up mojo leech in the back of our truck and a few hours to kill. Ya know, your typical day." She laughs and Angus laughs twice as hard.

[Session 1b (Primary: Angelo/Hound, Contributing: Reema/Piker, Corey/Ajax)]

Still sitting around the table with Angus and the rest, Hound picks up the story from where Piker left off.

"Alright, I guess I'll give Piker a chance to finish her drink and tell you how the run ended myself.  We had just nabbed the vampire shaman, and were bringing him back to Tony for questioning.  Piker gave him a call, and he said to bring the vamp to a warehouse in about 45 minutes.  Oh, and we arranged for Piker and Ajax to be there when they questioned the vamp, just in case the mob had any thoughts about keeping what they learned to themselves.  Ajax will have to tell you what went down at the warehouse, 'cause the group dropped me off to do more research into vampires while they went to the place.  All I know is that apparently the drek hit the fan pretty hard."

Piker slams her mug on the table and says, "Hey! I can tell da story too.  Just 'cus Ajax got a sweet tongue, don' mean I don'got one at all."

Ajax looks at Hound with a bit of a smirk, "Speaking of my sweet tongue, I got some numbers from some sweet ladies at Vive Serge! . . . time to start making good on some promises.  Piker can spin the tale from here."  Ajax pulls out his cell phone and starts making some calls.

Piker gives Hound the evil eye then slugs down her drink, "we get to da warehouse, two guard standing outside, Bruno and Tony inside.  We bring in da vamp and tape 'im to a chair.  Den a mage came in wid his 'tools'.  Da tools look different from stuff I'd seen, but he seem to know what to do wid dem.  Mage looks at da vamp for a long time, den shots up alot o' drek in dat vamp, den waits for long time, den shots up more drek in the vamp, and waits again.  Noting was happening, I was 'bout to fall asleep! But da tird shot got da vamp going."

Val adopts a mildly shocked expression, "Got him going? Drek! I heard his screams outside in the damn truck! That drek was either gasoline or maybe holy water, but whatever it was, I was about ready to run in there an dput the poor guy out of his misery, whether it took band-aids or bullets. I woulda gone fraggin' deaf with that racket going on at ground zero! Maybe that explains why Mr. I'm Too Good To Talk With Buddies isn't paying fraggin' attention."

Piker shrugs noncommittally, "Yeah. Den when we was still askin' him questions, his hands broke free.  He touch da mage and cast a spell, den da mage drop dead quick.  Me and Bruno knock him down; well, Bruno did, da fraggin vamp got a lucky shoot on me," she gestures the move that the vamp used to strike her and continues,"we taught everyting was null sheen, den an eart' elemental shows up and another vamps starts casting spells.  I would be down from da spell if Ajax di'nt help me out wid his magic.  By dis time, Tony and Bruno left, So I try to nab da vamp dat Bruno dounwed, but da udder vamp try to hit me wid da spell again.  Man dat hurt! but It din't hurt as much as it should 'cus Ajax helped me again, thanks omae," she puts her arm around Ajax and give him a hard kiss on the cheek,"anyway, I barely got out o' dere" she goes back to her drinking.

Ajax is jarred out of his phone conversation, surprised at the touchiness of the large troll, so much so that he's almost knocked out of his chair (to the amusement of the group).

Hound continues, "Right, so while all that was going on, I had my red-skinned ass safely parked in front of a terminal, looking into bloodsuckers, and what I found out was weird.  For one thing, the virus that causes vampirism turns metas into other things.  Well, things similar to vampires, but not exactly, and none of 'em are likely to be mistaken for normal.  But we had seen plenty of elf vampires, as well as an ork or two, and that didn't make any sense.  Plus, vamps were supposed to be pretty uncomfortable in sunlight, but that shaman we had just bagged was flying around outside in broad daylight, and didn't really seem to mind.  I found out some other stuff to, but everything was making me think that what we had faced were not regular vamps, but maybe the subject of some mutant strain, or maybe even another kind of creature altogether.  I was right, but we didn't find that out until later.  But I'm getting ahead of myself."

"It took a while to find all that out, but when I was done I met up with the rest of the crew back at Moon's.  I guess Piker had taken one hit too many, 'cause she was being a slacker, laid out on the couch in the back."  Hound smiles and winks at Piker before he goes on.  "We decided to head back over to Tony's bar to get paid before the first of our second set of stops that evening.  So we pull up in front and Ajax and Piker go in to settle up with Tony while the rest of us wait outside.  Well, I swear they weren't gone 30 seconds when outta nowhere these two guys come up to the truck where Wild Child is waiting alone.  They musta been waiting for us at the bar.  Either way, the one guy starts talking to Wild Child, but Wild had an attitude to match his name, and I'm sure he started giving the guy a hard time.  Next thing you know, Child pulls his gun and shoots, and before I can even get out of the van the two vamps toss grenades into the truck.  Child sent one back at them, but he didn't stand a chance.  You ever see what grenades'll do to a man in close quarters like that?  It's not pretty, let me tell you.  Well, I rolled out of the van and took a shot at one of 'em, which seemed to surprise him, but the two of 'em ran away fast.  By the time I got around the corner they were nowhere to be seen, or smelled for that matter.  They just up and vanished.  I went back to Child, where Val was doing what she could, but he was history."

Hound gets quiet for a half a minute, then in a more sombre voice says, "I didn't know him well, but here's to Wild Child."  He raises his glass to the group, then downs it in one long draught.

Val raises her glass and says somberly, "Can't save 'em all."  She then pours it out on the sawdust-strewn floor.

Piker raises her mug and says in a low voice, "Nope, I wuz kinda surprised he lasted dat long wid dat attitude.  Still, no one should go out dat way, his mudder prolly can't recognize 'im."

The group looks to Ajax, who says, "Can't say much about the fellow, but its a shame I didn't get to know him."

Continuing in his more subdued voice, Hound goes on.  "So the first stop on out list of places to go that night was a place I knew of called Target Securities.  Trains bodyguards and offers 'security solutions', that kind of thing.  I figured we'd have a tough time of it there, but it was actually null sheen.  We figured the meet to be in the alley behind the place, and when we showed up this big Troll vampire comes up out of the underground.  But he's not like the special vamps we'd been seeing and fighting, he was a (insert name I forget here), which is what a Troll becomes when he gets the vamp virus.  Turns out he was there to pick up blood.  We gave Moon a call and he arranged for a street doc he knew to sell us a locker full of it, which we then brought back to the troll.  Poor thing was still waiting right where we told him to wait, twenty minutes later.  Not too bright, those troll vamps.  So to get the payment we have to go down underground with him, and there we see a whole mess of vamps waiting to be fed.  The vamps in charge of the operation start to give us a hard time, and I almost blew it, but Ajax saved us by turning on the charm.  White man speaks with forked tongue, and damned well too.  Tell him omae."

Ajax replies, "You see, sometimes you just have to know how to talk to people. You know, tell them what they want to here.  Everyone wants to know that things are all right and they don't have to worry.  Sometimes, if they're uptight, you just have to let them know who's boss.  That's what I did down there.  I let him know that things were out of his control."

"Whatever, I'm just glad you were there," says Hound. "Once we finish being meals on wheels to the vamps we head over to the next stop, a super-trendy ice cream and coffee club called Vive Serge!.  It's a place we couldn't normally get into on most nights, but Ajax is also Mr. High Society, and he helped us buy the right kind of clothes to fit in.  Even so, we still had to pose as his bodyguards.  So we go in there and check the place out.  As far as I could see there was nothing going on but the usual meet-market activity, with Ajax at the center of attention.  Had more ladies on him than I had in my whole life.  Next thing I know we're done at the place, and Ajax has somehow bought a fraggin brick of NovaCoke.  I still don't know if that was what the original stop was for, but after a while it was obvious there was nothing else gonna happen, so we split and made for the last stop."

Piker looks excited and looks at Angus,"now I got me a wiz dress."

At this point, Ajax interjects, "You wouldn't believe these two either!  I get everyone dressed up and looking respectable and they try and begrudge me the NovaCoke. They're welcome to it as much as I am.  Not too bad of a perk for a night's work."  Hound gives Ajax a moment of the fish-eye, then continues the story.

"This one is a casino, owned and operated by the Finnigan Family.  We're not sure what to expect there, but we decide to stake out the alley first, and it pays off.  A bunch of guys show up to make some kind of a deal, but they want to see our cred first; 250K!  Well, obviously we don't carry that kind of cred, and even old smooth talkin Ajax here can't get us out of this one, though he did try.  They herded us into the back of a truck and took our weapons, and said they'd take us somewhere to get to the bottom of this.  That's when we caught a really lucky break.  Turns out a bunch of the muscle at the meet was hired just for the exchange, and they figured their job was done when the exchange didn't go off, so they split.  That left just a couple of their guys in the truck and a pair of slots on bikes riding support.  Piker handled the guy in the back with us, and then the guy in the front too, while I tried not to shoot any of my friends with a damn sub-machine gun.  As for the poor slots on the bikes, let's just say that going up against a rigger in an armored van is a bad idea if you're some no-talent norm on a bike.  Right Val?"

Val shrugs and smiles weakly, "Yeah, well I'm not a big fan of mowing down people, but I had some good intel.  Turns out the trio of sammies were hired to get the product to the meet and they didn't much like the Finnigan guy.  And all three are good customers of Doc Wagon."  She smiles and pulls up her sleeve to point to a stylized DocWagon logo tattooed on her left bicep.  "The lead guy, Mr. Brown was coughin up blood in my ambulance not two weeks ago.  So I flag him down out of idle curiosity and he has little love for the Finnigans, so he tells me straight up that some crazy mick mobster is driving out to Redmond to off some poor slots.  I shake my head nonchalantly and drive off.  Anyway, I caught up to them quickly enough.  There ain't exactly a whole helluva lot of working highways between Gates and Redmond and they weren't exactly blazing along in their disposable van.  Anyone tries to ice my team, they don't get to drink from my cup of human kindness."  Val smiles, letting on a little more grim satisfaction than before.  "The moral of the story is that sometimes it pays to have patched up about half the sammies in Seattle."  She smiles and laughs lightly as she sits back to take another drink.

Hound continues, "So, the deliveries were done, but we still weren't sure what to do next.  Everything didn't add up, and we had very few leads to go on.  We did have a name though: Maxwell.  I guess the vamp shaman coughed it up before his buddy rescued him.  And didn't he say something about being a soldier?  Anyway, 'round about the time we were busy scratching our heads, hoping it would stimulate our brains, when my old pal Jumpin' Jack Flash came through in spades.  He's a wiz decker, and a friend of mine, and earlier I had asked him to look into the Hell's Kitchen location or anything he could find out about the whole blood farm thing.  So he calls me up and gives me some story about a run gone wrong at the Renraku Arcology some time ago, and another blood farm being exposed, or something like that.  I guess he had talked with a decker who knew something about it, but one way or another he had made it known that he was interested.  Lucky for us, Maxwell or one of his crew contacted Jack and set up a meet, which we attended in his place."

Piker speaks out, "you forget to tell 'im about Ajax and da hooker."

"Hey, there's nothing to tell there . . . I put my body on the line for the team.  Besides . . . a gentleman never tells."  Ajax gives Val a wink.

Val responds with a silent sidelong smirk that wordlessly communicates, "You're not that drek hot, chummer."

Hound adds, "Nothing to tell?  We must have waited outside in the van for at least, what, 10 minutes, right guys?" He winks at the rest of the team, then continues, "Where was I?  Oh yeah. So there we are, 4 AM in a cafe across from an after hours club, and in walks these two vamps, cool as can be.  They sidle up to our table and lay it out straight for us.  The one in charge is Maxwell, and he wants to know why we're so deep in his business lately.  Well, we tell him the story of the blood farm, start to finish, and how his people were running some kind of con on him.  At first he doesn't know if Ajax is telling it true, but his mage casts a spell to see that we're not lying, and Maxwell tells us he had no idea.  Scan this, apparently he and his other vamps had volunteered at Renraku to be turned into some kind of super-soldiers, but instead the fraggin corp turned 'em into mutant vamps.  When they found out they freaked and broke ties with Renraku; started looking out for themselves.  But they still needed essence to survive, and Max had put one of his guys in charge of getting it, along with the money they needed.  He thought the guy was paying volunteers to give up their blood, not kidnapping folks in bars and setting them up in simsense.  Seems the guy was also making a few extra deals on the side, like with those regular vamps and the mob.  We said we'd keep out of his business if his croud would stop taking folks for their blood, and we all agreed to play nice."

Val nods, "Good thing, huh?  They had snipers and all kinds a drek set up.  Instead of being stains on the street, we're now pals, well sort of, with a bunch of supernatural badasses."

Hound nods as he continues, "We made out pretty well in the bargain too.  Not only did we make some extra nuyen by brokering the sale of Maxwell's med-tech back to him, we also maybe did some good in the world by putting Max and his kind in touch with the regular vamps we found underground.  This way, Max can meet some folks with the regular disease and learn to cope with it better, and the vamps down below can arrange to keep getting some essence without hunting innocent people in the streets.  All in all, a good night's work if I do say so myself."

Val adds, "Yeah, their not a bad lot and they really got fragged over by the corps really hard. Makes losing my job at DocWagon over politics seem like a fraggin' blessing.  At least I'm still me."