$Insert_Title, Episode 15

"Aired" on: 2018-07-15
Cast: Mr. Fahrenheit, Madoka, Hueco, Engie, Jammer


The show opens to a quick montage of the previous episode, highlighting the group preparing. After the montage, the title card crashes in. The episode starts on the group in the middle of a heated discussion over the details of an anime in Engie's packed mini-van as they pull into the air field.

The group sees their helicopter, a small tiltrotor with a bulbous cockpit. A troll with broad shoulders and pilot's attire is walking around the aircraft and doing pre-flight tests. When the troll sees the group pulling in, he waves them over. The troll is named Guy, and he runs an inter-, and occasionally intra-city shuttle for business people.

The group starts loading things onto the helicopter. Mr. Fahrenheit asks if the troll is french, and Guy says yes. Jammer begins asking Guy several technical questions, and tries to give Guy matrix security advice on how to protect his data and devices.

Guy responds, as politely as possible, "Oh. Yes, thank you for making me aware. However as the device in question is a tiltrotor, I cannot reboot it in response to a hacking attempt as we will be in-flight. If I were to reboot the device then I would lose the ability to control the vehicle and we would all spiral to our deaths or crash into one of the many skyscrapers in your fine city."

Guy thanks Jammer for the advice. Unlike in real life, often the answer to better security in Shadowrun is indeed to buy a better magic box. So, Guy will likely buy a commlink with a better firewall in the future.

Once everyone has loaded their things into the tiltrotor, they begin to take off. Madoka tells Engie that she will not be sharing her guns with him as she will be needing them for the mission. Engie is perplexed and shows off two FN HAR assault rifles that are mounted to his rotodrones.

Mr. Fahrenheit lays out the plan one last time on the way.

Jammer and Engie will remain on the roof as lookouts. Jammer will prepare the balloons and grenades while Engie patrols with his drones.
Hueco will breach the fire escape door, and Madoka and Mr. Fahrenheit will follow with him.
The group will descend to the 14th floor. Mr. Fahrenheit will deploy the ball bearings down the stairs below while Hueco breaches the offices of Mandatory Forensics.
Madoka will begin searching for the location of STARGAZER by connecting to different devices. The group will move into the room beside evidence storage, off to the side of the elevators.
Once the location of STARGAZER is confirmed, the lookouts will call back the helicopter for pick-up, and all operators will return to the roof and exit.

Near the end of the plan, nice B-roll footage of the Seattle skyline, edited in post with more colors and holographic advertisements, plays. As the helicopter approaches the building, the group can hear some radio chatter from the cockpit.

A SkyGrid controller is asking why Guy's sky shuttle is off course, and demanding he re-assume his approved course. Guy is responding with a very thick french accent, assuring the controller that he is not off course and that he is landing on the correct building. As the group unloads, Guy can be heard complaining, "Your city all looks the same. You need some kind of central, easily identifiable monument like some kind of tower..."

We get an establishing shot of the tilt-rotor preparing to land, and the group inside gathering their equipment. As the back ramp of the tiltrotor opens, Hueco is seen pressing a very big and obvious play button on his commlink, and theme music starts to play.

The group hits the ground running. There is a cut to the security room on the first floor. The tiltrotor tripped a pressure sensor on the helipad. The security team spots the group beginning their assault and contact Lone Star. In the background, two guards are strapping on bulletproof vests and helmets at an equipment locker. One guard can be seen accessing building security controls.

Jammer and Engie unload a box of grenades, a helium tank, and bag of balloons. Engie deploys his two FN HAR-equiped rotodrones to patrol the roof and scan for incoming enemies. Jammer and Engie set up a station on the roof to keep the roof and surrounding airspace clear.

There is a camera shot from inside the stairwell as the outward-opening doors are kicked in, with visible explosions that aided the actor playing Hueco propel the doors into the building. The group, Madoka, Fahrenheit, and Hueco, bolt down to the 14th floor where Hueco propels his foot into the fire door. The door cracks under the kick, and is broken in with a second kick.

The lights on the 14th floor turn on, as well as the lights in the fire escape. The helipad and most of the space on the roof of the building is lit up. This provides the security team with full illumination and coverage, while killing the night vision of the party and reducing their ability to make out shapes against the relative darkness of the surrounding city.

As Hueco is taking his second kick at the door, Mr. Fahrenheit dumps the bucket of ball bearings down the fire escape. He is the first to notice that the rest of the building is dark.

The forward team enters Mandatory Forensics, immediately banking left towards the door to the evidence ingest room. Hueco kicks the door as Fr. Fahrenheit and Madoka shoot out the cameras in the hallway by elevators.

Engie has set his two drones to patrol the airspace around the building. Engie barely catches a small drone approaching. For some inexplicable reason, Engie is well aware of how Lone Star and other police forces respond to threats, and identifies this drone as a forward scout to check on the situation. Jammer drops into VR and takes a shot at the approaching drone, causing some minor system instability. Engie takes aim at it approaching with the drone he is jumped into and knocks it out of the sky with a single shot.

"Less than seven minutes," Engie warns.

The forward team enters the evidence ingest room and bunkers down. Mr. Fahrenheit casts a barrier spell. As the barrier forms in a circle around the group and blocking off the entrances, Hueco stares down a camera situated over the door they just entered from. Madoka lays out on one of the desks and drops into VR to go to work on an inventory system connected to the evidence locker one room over.

In virtual reality, Madoka contends with the inventory system's impressive defenses. Whether it be stress or an inexplicably strong firewall, Madoka struggles with it having her code reflected multiple times.

Hueco slows his pacing and closes his eyes. There is a tight shot of Hueco's luchador masked face as the audio begins to fade and the sound of ball bearings rolling down the concrete stairs perks up in the audio track.

Back in VR, Madoka has failed multiple times to gain access to the inventory system. The music quiets as Madoka closes her eyes. There is a lot of magical-girl themed special effects around her Living Persona as she reaches through the resonance to summon a creature that resembles, but is Legally Distinct from Kyubey. Legally Distinct Kyubey turns its head 180 degrees to look at the inventory system and Madoka gets a user shell. Madoka cats a CSV file and greps for the ingest number for STARGAZER that Stella provided and passes the locker and shelf number to Hueco.

In reality, Fahrenheit drops the barrier and shoots out the camera. The lights on the entire floor turn off the moment the camera is out. Hueco kicks open the thick security door to the evidence locker with one kick. The room inside is lit in dim red, making it next to impossible for anyone but Hueco, an orc, and Madoka, an elf, to see in. Hueco tells Mr. Fahrenheit and Madoka to pull back. He is visibly concerned about the red lighting in the evidence locker.

Jammer calls for Guy to return to pick them up. Engie spots a Lone Star cruiser pull up and two officers enter the front of the building. With very little delay, Engie spots an approaching shape. He identifies the silhouette as having two rotors, but realizes too late that it is not Guy's tiltrotor but instead a twin-rotor helicopter.

Engie sees the muzzle flash and attempts to maneuver out of the line of fire, but his light rotodrone is perforated and left barely functioning by the high-caliber round. The helicopter is hovering out of range of Jammer's technomancer powers, and out of range of Engie's other rotodrone.

Mr. Fahrenheit notices the elevators are moving and summons a spirit of man, named Mic, to watch the door. Its body is a large amplifier, and it has noodle-y arms made out of various cables, and it has a projector for a head. It stands inches away from the elevator door, ready to "greet" anyone who gets off on the floor. This spirit reminds me vaguely of the robot from FLCL for some reason.

Hueco enters the evidence room, realizing that his initial fears were unfounded. The red light was enabled for two low-light cameras watching the room. Hueco shoots one out and runs through the room, avoiding the view of the second until he has a clear shot at it. Once both cameras are taken over he shoots the lock off one of the lockers and swings it open.

Inside the locker there is a device, about the side of two VHS tapes stacked on top of each other, with a glowing green light on the front. The side of the device has rails to slot into some larger machine, and the rear has a set of connectors. The front has a handle and a vent, and it appears to be battery powered as it is clearly functioning.

The show closes on Hueco sliding it into a faraday bag he's had hung over his shoulder and closing it.

Post-Session Notes

We made a choice to ignore a lot of the turn order rules here in favor of ease and dramatic tension. The security staff is following their playbook to the letter, providing as much vision and information to Lone Star as possible, and making it difficult for intruders to collect more information. The roof is well lit, exposing anyone on the roof who is moving around and not tucked behind an HVAC system.

The sharpshooter on the helicopter could have taken out Engie's rotodrone, but instead left it in a barely functional state. They are likely to do the same to Engie's other drone if it does not attempt to hide.

The group has done an excellent job of this run. Giving them a tight timeline and very clear objectives has made them focused on the task. I like this, and I look forwards to putting them in similar positions in the future.

I think there is unlikely to be direct conflict, but I wonder what the group is going to do about the hovering sharpshooter. Engie's drones are not equipped with low-light cameras and so he is unable to gather much information about it, and it would be too far away for Hueco or Madoka to make out a lot of information. There is no cover on the helipad, so the group will have to maneuver in the open to make it to Guy's tiltrotor to escape.

I am looking forwards to next week's session.