Chicago, the year 2053. It’s been fourteen years since the terrorist organization Alamos 20,000 destroyed the Sears Tower, and that areas is still haunted — literally — by the ghosts of the thousands who died on that day, but also by ghouls and other nasties. The area is referred to as the Shattergraves, and the neighborhood by the unpleasant name “the Noose.” The group is located only a dozen blocks away in Little Italy, right near the University.
Bumble (Dwarf Rigger, John), Dusty Raven (Street Shaman, Paul), Zed (Physical Adept, Matt) and Thumper (Troll Street Samurai, Bill) are a group of runners staying over at their friend Shades’ house (Dwarf Investigator, NPC).
The group has been running together for about six months and have pulled a few jobs for different corps, working through a fixer friend called “Grizzly” and otherwise using the local hacker-run “Noose-Net” to keep in touch with other runners in the area.
It’s been mostly smooth sailing with a couple of close calls, particularly on a Shiawase job that almost went sideways when Bumble’s cyberware malfunctioned and one of his drones were seen by security. They got away but are all still getting the scorch marks off of their armor after that one — Shiawase probably won’t be hiring them for a while.
Partly because of that snafu, things haven’t been great for the past few weeks and creds are starting to run dry. Most members of the team have been crashing at Shades’ place, since he is the only one with a nice apartment, much to his annoyance.
On night, the group talks about their history together and the general state of things. Thumper talks about how he has to support his ex-wife and children, which has been hard, but he appreciates being part of the group.
Dusty says that he loves having his spot on the roof where he can see the sky, and that he has all he needs here — he doesn’t want to leave.
Zed says that he doesn’t approve of Dusty’s spirits hanging around, because spirits have it out for him. The only good spirits are the ones you drink, he says.
Finally, Bumble professes how much he likes being with the group and that he will do better during the next run, after his cyberware conked out on him last time.
Early the next morning, Shades rouses the crew and lets them know that a vid-call came in from Grizzly that he has a juicy job for the group — minus his usual finder’s fee, of course — with a Johnson who represents an up-and-coming biotech firm called Grail Biogenetics. He says that if the runners take this job, they may finally have enough cred to stop squatting at his place.
When asked for details, Shades says that according to Grizzly, this corp seems hungry to prove themselves. They have some strong investors but haven’t produced much revenue in the two years they’ve been in business. They seemed eager to get some help on one of their recent projects, and want a team that can be discreet. Shades rolls his eyes at that. Dusty says “So who are they going to get?” Undeterred, Shades says that the Johnson wants to meet at Leroy’s Cafe at noon.
Shades then announces that he will go make some coffee. Dusty comes with him and asks to make it, to which he agrees. Dusty makes it extra strong.
Leroy’s is a throwback cafe with approximations of 20th century diner dishes — still mostly made from soy, of course — but they do the best they can. Once seated with the Johnson, the waitress wearing a large nametag that reads DOLORES pours everyone a soykaf and then leaves them to their business.
The Johnson considers all of them carefully, and then gets right to business. “Mr. Grizzly assured me that your group would be able to handle matters of discretion, yes?” he says with a raised eyebrow. “Grail Biogenetics has a very sensitive matter that they need independent assistance with. As you undoubtedly are aware, the area around the Shattergraves has been unusable for many years due to the…strange creatures that roam there. Grail has been working tirelessly for the past two years to create a compound that these…emanations would be abhorrent to, and their tests have been going well. Unfortunately a rival corp — we suspect it to be Ares — sent a team in and they stole a sample of the test substance, called Spiritbane. Luckily it’s only a small sample, but the substance is extremely toxic to humans as well as spirits, so could be dangerous if it has fallen into the wrong hands. We engaged a local hacker to track it down through net chatter, and set him up in a safehouse. Your first task is to meet up with him and together determine where the sample might be, and then get it back to by any means necessary. For your efforts, we are offering 30,000 nuyen. We hope this sum is acceptable. Here is a datachip that shows the location of the safehouse and the dropoff point.”
The group agrees to do the job, but asks for more money. Dusty says “That’s a nice watch, you must have a lot of money.” The Johnson agrees almost immediately to do an additional 10k. Thumper stares him down and tells him to give Dusty his watch. The man looks perturbed but agrees. He says that the group must do the job to the best of their ability, to which they agree.
On the way to the safehouse, Dusty tells Bumble to stop at a small shop. He goes in to see his friend Corman, an apothecary. He has all kinds of herbs, mixtures and strange things in his store. He is mixing something and takes too much of a swig, and his eyes go wide. He then sees Dusty and greets him. Dusty asks if the old man has heard anything about a substance called Spirit Bane, but he hasn’t. He does recognize Grail Biogenetics and says that they are a decent company — he knows someone who works there — but they are a bit too eager and are bordering on reckless. He suggests to be careful when dealing with them. Dusty thanks the old man and asks if he has any filtration masks, which he does. Job complete, he goes back to the van.
The safehouse is further uptown, and takes Bumble about 20 minutes of driving in the team’s van. Pulling up, the neighborhood the place looks normal enough — nice, even. They take the elevator to the 40th floor and arrive at 4023, the address of the safehouse.
Dusty hears the sounds of a struggle within and tasks a spirit to go inside and look around, then report back. It does and says that there are 2 people in the room.
Bumble knocks loudly on the door and at first there is nothing, so he pounds on it. Gunfire erupts through the door and a couple of shots spang off of his armor.
Zed breaks the door down and they rush inside. There are several Ares corpsec men in here, and the group takes them all down. Thumper blasts several with his roomsweeper shotgun.
From the next room they hear someone yell “back off, or the kid dies!” The group continues through undaunted, and the corpsec guy follows up on his promise by shooting the young man he has captive, an elf. The shot goes through his shoulder and he seems to be in a lot of pain. Blood is leaking from his cheek and he is holding his chest.
The runners take out the last two guards and ask the kid who he is. He says that his name is Zippo and he was hired by Grail to track down the sample. He found out through the NooseNet that Ares fumbled badly and had the sample stolen by a bunch of gangers called the Sewer Rats. He was tracking the rats’ movements with a program but his hard line was cut off when the Ares goons broke in. He will need to find a safe place to finish his search.
The group takes him to a local net cafe, and they try to break into a back room to get some privacy, but the proprietor notices and kicks them out (TWO CRIT FAILS!). They decide to go right from a line in a nearby alleyway, the group doing surveillance while Zippo decks in. He makes quick work of it, getting the data in under fifteen minutes.
When the trace is completed, Zippo tells them that they are likely in the tunnels beneath the old Garfield Park Conservatory, which has been abandoned for twenty years. He gives the runners a likely entry point but there are no known remaining maps of the tunnels beneath that area.
As the runners enter the sewers, it takes them a while to wind their way down into the tunnels, following a trail of footprints that are likely from the Sewer Rats gangers. Descending down a long ladder, they see disused caverns, and the smell down here is horrible. They are orks, after all. The group dons their masks.
Moving further down, they see some bodies here. It looks like they have been torn up. A group of gangers are barely alive in the next room, and Dusty heals them. When they are able to speak, they say that they did steal the sample from Ares, and one of the gangers busted it open down in the tunnels. Strange things started to happen — they were attacked by something and some of the gang members were acting crazy. They ran away but the things attacked them and killed their friends. Then, only a few minutes prior, some “people like you” came — people with guns.
The group surmises that Ares has beaten them here, and rushes down the caverns. They hear gunfire and Bumble sends his drone through the doorway which is slightly ajar. It smells bad in here, and there is a green mist. The drone sees that some of the gangers have been turned into zombies, and the corpsec guys, along with a female elf, are shooting at them.
Thumper rolls a grenade into the room and it kills two of the gangers. The rest of the party busts in and begins shooting, taking out corpsec guys and also zombies. Everyone is fighting each other.
Bumble’s assault drone takes out one of the corpsec guys, but another shoots it down and it is wrecked.
As the battle comes close to the end, the runners hear a sound from the chamber to the west of them. Two strange shambling spirits come through and begin to attack them, seemingly drawn to Zed first. The thing exhales a cloud of poison around it, but Zed’s mask is able to keep him safe.
Dusty comes from around the corner and uses a spell to banish one of the spirits. The other ones continues to attack, but Zed slices it with his magically-enhanced sword.
Thumper takes the last guy down with his monosword, finally changing things up from simply shotgunning people.
Bumble gathers up the sample, which seems to have some chambers still intact. It is sort of like a half of an egg carton, with two of the sections broken and four unharmed. He wraps it up tightly and grabs the remains of his drone, then they head for the surface.
That night the runners go to the drop off point and return the sample, as well as Mr. Johnson’s watch. The courier is confused but accepts it. The runners get their 40k nuyen as well.
Later, Shades congratulates them on a relatively “easy” run, which the others groan at. He says that finally they may be able to get their own places, but Dusty says that he likes it there, why would he move?