By David Plank
Colour Designation: White
Minimum SCL: 10
Training Package Recommended: Death Squad/Kick Murder/Strike Squad
Consolidated Pay: 150c per Operative
Contact: Shiver Holding, SectorHouse ninety-three.
Coverage: Station Analysis
Summary: Investigate source of new drug, and retrieve all possible samples.
Having stopped Marcus and the Black Dans in their tracks (or having failed, been killed, and then blown up by SHIVER strike teams as they storm the building, causing huge structural damage, but killing all the Dans left in the building), the Ops have got their money, and increased their SCL by a sliver (or they’re lying in the morgue, being dissected by some obnoxious Necanthrope).
Whichever it is, when they are ready (and/or have rolled up new Ops), then it is time for them to run the sequel to A Hard Day on the Block.
This time, they have a briefing with James Holding; a newly promoted SHIVER assigned to the new unit called DaIADS; "Deadly and Incredibly Addictive Drugs Squad".
Up until a few days ago, James was a standard patrol SHIVER, but now he has been given jurisdiction over a new SHIVER squad. At the moment, his squad consists of him and two other SHIVERS, both of whom have also been pulled off of patrol duty. It is with a little chagrin, then, that James has to call in an Op squad to investigate this new drug.
However, James is nothing, if not eager. He will sit the Ops down in a debriefing room at the station, and tell them all that he knows so far (even if they interrupt and try to explain that they probably know more than he does).
"OK, here’s the s.p. At approximately 16 hundred hours on Thursday the 14th of this month, an Operative Squad called [INSERT SQUAD’S NAME HERE] entered the Lennon Davies Block on Hereford Street in DownTown, and proceeded to evict certain stubborn tenants. It is our understanding that they comprised a new street gang calling themselves the ‘Black Dans’. During this sweep of the building, [INSERT SQUAD’S NAME HERE] encountered increased resistance from the street gang, which they dealt with successfully/unsuccessfully (depending on how the BPN went). During autopsies performed on the gang members yesterday, a foreign substance was discovered in their bloodstreams, which contained elements of Blaze UV, along with some other, more disturbing chemicals. The Black Dans called this drug ‘Ruthenium’, and it is my job to find out where they were getting it from, and put a stop to it’s supply. Which is why I have hired you guys. Your job is to track down the source of the drug, and apprehend the person responsible for it’s supply to the street, and also, as a side-mission, to find out if any more of this stuff is out there, and attempt to retrieve any you find out about. Any questions?"
James can provide the team with the rap sheets on any identified Black Dans (along with known associates, etc.), and samples of the injector devices used along with several ampoules of Ruthenium itself.
There are various routes that Operatives could take in order to find the source of the drug, all of which will be discussed in time (have a little patience!): -
- The Operatives could try getting a better analysis of the drug, and finding out what is required to make it. (And then trying to track down that equipment.)
- Going out onto the streets, and hassling various contacts for information.
- Going undercover, and trying to get hold of the drug for themselves.
- Interrogating any surviving Black Dans.
- Interviewing any Black Dan known associates.
- Investigating various drug companies and hope to get lucky.
Of course, it goes without saying that your players will probably want to do something unpredictable and insane. So you’ll have to wing it given the information below.
The Full Story
Keymath Node Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of the drugs division of Karma, are responsible for manufacturing the drug. Keymath Node specialise in combat drugs (they prefer the term ‘aggression enhancing and behavioural altering chemicals’), and their brief is to produce better and stronger drugs for soldiers and Ops to use, thus enhancing the efficiency of combat, speeding up the whole process (and making it cheaper).
So they produced Ruthenium. This is highly experimental, and the director of Keymath Node (Malcolm Wheelshack) was reluctant to disclose the existence of the drug until complete testing had been undertaken. But Pinnacle Event Chemicals (the parent company) found the research and decided to perform field tests of its own. Taking copies of the data (unknown to Keymath Node), and synthesising their own batch, Pinnacle Event went on to give a supply of the drug to a street fence called Smiffy Wellington, who sold it to the Black Dans.
Keymath Node is completely unaware of the existence of Ruthenium on the streets. As far as they are concerned, it has never left the labs, and has not been tested on anything larger than a monkey. They are the innocent victims in all of this, and they are destined for destruction at the hands of an Operative Squad (nominally the players, but they could cave at the last minute and also be certified for termination, you never know).
Pinnacle Event can (and will) deny all knowledge of the drug, and place all the blame on Keymath Node for the appearance of the chemical on the street. When the Ops get closer to the source of the drug, and find that it was made at Keymath Node, Pinnacle Event will disown the company and issue (through the Department of Investigation) Termination Warrants for the scientists and management of the orphaned company. The Ops will tasked with fulfilling these Warrants.
When the smoke has cleared, Keymath Node will no longer exist, and Pinnacle Event will hold all the research for Ruthenium. SLA wins again, and the Ops were just pawns in the greater game. Well, that’s the idea, anyway...
Analysis of Ruthenium
Getting the Ruthenium analysed can be performed at pretty much any chemical or pharmaceutical company (an ironic twist would be to suggest the Ops go to Pinnacle Event). The chemist they approach will take the drug, and explain that it will take a while to analyse fully, and that he will get back to the squad the next day.
True enough, the chemist gets back to the Squad as promised. With some rather disturbing news. Ruthenium is a recombinant drug; one that has two strands of chemical DNA spliced to form a stronger spiral (dazzle them with tech-talk as much as you want).
The basis of the drug is that it uses the body’s internal resources to provide a blaze of energy to form certain fundamental changes to its physiology. The scary thing is that each time this drug is taken, the user is permanently affected by it in such a way as to form a dependency on it almost immediately. Each ‘fix’ increases the need, or the user believes he is going to die. Which he very well may be.
The internal organs are calcified for the duration of the drug, and the muscles and skin are hardened as well, providing an extra- and intra-dermal layer of armour. This also accounts for the increased strength and speed of the user. Splicing the drug with a ‘holding’ chemical was a stroke of genius. This basically allows any other drugs (up to three doses) to be stored in the body’s metabolism, to be released upon need, without requiring any further injections.
The drug’s high addictiveness means that it would be incredibly easy to over-dose on, causing the muscles and internal organs to rapidly swell up until the victim ruptures from within. Until this occurs, the user will experience gradually increasing strength and speed, until massive internal (and external) haemorrhaging kills him.
As for how it was made, it would require vast resources to manufacture this kind of drug. This is essentially a biological germ, rather than a chemical, which means you would need DNA specialists, chemists, biologists, and physicists. Not to mention a large manufacturing hub, where the drug could be replicated.
The chemical reactor and gene splicing devices are very delicate pieces of machinery, and the chemist that the Ops talk to can describe both of these devices to them. The chemical reactor is a large, cylinder-shaped chamber, with various control computers and readouts around the base. Likely, power cables and venting shafts attach the chamber to the rest of the building. The gene splicer is a smaller device, consisting of a macroscope, a viewing screen, and a glass chamber containing computer-aided micro-arms, DNA samples in jelly-trays, and various lighting tubes.
[Apologies to any chemists or biologists out there - I just made these descriptions up having no idea what the real thing looks like.]
"Of course," explains the expert, "most of the pharmaceutical and chemical companies on the planet will have this stuff, but only a few will have both items in the same lab. That’s what you should be looking for."
But that still leaves about eighty labs in Mort City alone to check...
Once the Ops leave, if they ever check back with this chemist after the next day, they will discover that he was killed during a break-in at the labs. The SHIVERS think that he disturbed the thieves, who killed him and stole a whole bunch of various drugs that were in the labs (including Ruthenium, but none of the other people at the lab knew it was there). They may or may not find this out.
Door-to-Door at the Chemical Plants.
This is the boring option. Going willy-nilly to each chemical plant they can find is not going to get them anywhere. If they are doing this after finding out some other information, then they stand a better chance.
On the whole, plant managers will be friendly and co-operative. Unless they want a tour. Almost every manager on Mort has a little something they don’t want Slayer to find out about. So unless the Ops come up with a valid Search Warrant, they will not be allowed to look around. Each manager will site various bio-chemical accidents (blood-boiling, extremities dropping off, that sort of thing), and explain that personnel not trained to operate around the various vats and reactors could quite easily cause some kind of accident.
They will, however, provide personnel records, manifestos, shipping records, and pretty much all the legitimate paperwork they can lay their hands on. But this is not going to get the Ops anywhere.
The only two places that have any clues as to the source of Ruthenium are the Pinnacle Event Chemical plant (the street source) and the Keymath Node Pharmaceuticals plant (the original source). These will be detailed later. It is up to you if the players stumble across these particular plants during their investigations (if they are just doing the rounds of all the plants, this will be pretty slim).
Looking for a Fix
If the team head for Downtown, looking for the street contact that provided the Dans with the Ruthenium, then have them make Streetwise rolls (modified for any Street Contacts they may have): -
Never heard of it.
I heard the name. Go look at Wally’s Wankery. [A peep-show place in Lower Dowtown.]
Yeah, I heard of it. The Black Dans got a shit-load of it from a fence - what was his name? Smith, or something like that.
You wanna go see Smiffy. He knows all about that kinda shit.
Oh yeah. Smiffy Wellington was in here a week ago, bragging about a big score he made with Marcus, the leader of the Dans...? You want to find the source, you need to talk to him. He hangs out around Wally’s, in Lower Dowtown.
Interview with a Psycho
If, by some miracle, any of the Black Dans actually survived the assault on Lennon Davies block, then the players may well try to gain an audience with him. James Holding can set up a meeting, but due to the violent nature of both the ex-drug addicts, and the average Operative, the interview will be videotaped, and a screen of transparent plex-steel will separate the two parties.
The gang member will be brought in and seated on a steel chair opposite the Ops. The guards will leave the room, leaving Kevin Coombes alone with the squad.
The Dan will be slightly incoherent, as well as retaining his fierce loyalty to Marcus, and his feelings of immortality. Each snippet of information will have to be bribed, threatened or charmed from Kevin. Various rolls to Intimidate, Interrogate, Empathise, Seduce or otherwise coerce him into giving up what he knows will be appropriate. This is what he knows: -
- Marcus will arise once more, and smite this world, and all unbelievers! (And other pseudo-religious delusions along the same vein.)
- Ruthenium was sold to the gang by a shifty pusher in Lower Downtown.
- The Dans are immortal, and will not be defeated!
- Kevin met the pusher once, in a vile, sleazy place belonging to someone called Wally.
- Marcus has risen to a higher level! He is not dead!
- Wally’s ‘den of iniquity’ is where men can go to watch women (and men) perform lewd acts. [Streetwise rolls may allow the Ops to recognise this place from the description as Wally’s Wankery in Lower Downtown.]
- The Dans will overpower the state, bringing Slayer to his knees!
- The pusher was short, thin and very smelly. He gave his name as Smiffy.
- The Dans have power beyond imagining! They will...
At this point in the proceedings, Kevin will go berserk, trying to smash through the glass to reach the Ops, and screaming threats and babbling about the Dans. Four burly guards will enter the room and descend on him with electrified batons to ‘pacify’ him, before dragging him out of the room, leaving bloody smears on the glass and floor.
Talking to the Neighbours
If the Ops try to find the Known Associates of the Dans, this could prove tricky. The Dans, being very insular, rarely ventured outside their block, and their only real contacts are the previous tenants of Lennon Davies. All of whom have now been relocated – by the players. However, by doing their homework, pulling in some favours, and filling out endless forms, the squad could possibly get the current addresses of some of the former residents of Lennon Davies. But they won’t be too friendly.
The tenants have been ousted to various lower-rate housing projects throughout Downtown, and are very bitter about the whole thing. If it is common knowledge that this particular squad was responsible for their current state (i.e. if they made it onto the vid), then they will get nothing from any of them.
But if they have remained anonymous, or pay large sums of money, then they may get some information. Here is what the previous tenants of Lennon Davies can tell the squad (whether they actually do or not depend on how the whole thing is handled): -
- Marcus and a few of the others left the block quite regularly.
- Most of the gang were afraid of going outside.
- The ones that did go visited a particular spot in Lower Downtown, and often came back with supplies.
- The supplies were drugs from a contact in Lower Downtown [only those close to the Dans would know this].
- The drugs were purchased from a pusher who frequents Wally’s Wankery [only close family members would know this - and they won’t tell without great incentive].
Down at Wally’s
A lot of people are talking about Wally’s as the place to be for illicit drugs. And they’re right. The place is a hangout for various touts and pushers to hawk their wares. Although the customers rarely partake of the entertainment at Wally’s, the bar revenue of customers and sellers is more than enough to please Wally, so he lets them carry out their transactions freely in the bar.
The one-storey building has a big, neon girl bending over and looking between her spread legs over the door, and the words "Girls, girls, girls!" down one side and "Nude shows, Live action!" down the other. People always look both ways down the street before entering.
Asking questions in the bar – especially Ops asking questions – is dangerous. Nobody likes strangers, and everyone will treat the squad with suspicion (if they’re undercover), or violence (if they came as Ops). Money helps, and a few Unis here and there finally pinpoint the location of Smiffy Wellington, who is at the back of the club, trying to get a free peek at the girls as ‘legit’ customers come and go.
Smiffy is a weaselly little man, wearing a pork-pie hat and bushy sideburns. His brown-checked suit finishes off the image, and he tries to run whenever any of the squad speaks to him. If held down, he starts spouting stuff like "It wasn’t me! I don’t even know her! I was with my brother at the time! My fingerprints aren’t there – I wore gloves the whole time!" and so on, trying to proclaim his innocence of some inconsequential crime.
Smiffy will easily cave and tell everything he knows, either with threat of pain, or money. He has no loyalty to his source, and will spill the beans no matter what (even if the squad doesn’t ask the right questions!).
What Smiffy knows: -
- Nuffin’! I don’t know nuffin’!
- Weww, awwright,ven. Dis guy, yeah, sold me dis drug, ven vamooshed.
- I dunno! ‘E was kind of big, and clean. Like some kind of Corp!
- I reckon ‘e woz some kind of feef [translation: thief], wot nicked vis drug, yeah, den sol’ it ta me to make a profit, wot I fink.
- Weww, it woz a cut-price offa! I cooden’t turn it daan, cood I? Me name wood of bin mud!
- Look, I wos supposed ta meet wiv ‘im again tomorra! I’ll bring ya along if ya won’t ‘it me or nuffin’! I don’t wont no trouble, yeah? Come back ‘ere tomorra and ven we’ll see wot we can do.
Of course, it goes without saying that Smiffy will not be here tomorrow. If the Ops insist on staying with him, he grumbles a lot, but behaves himself. If they leave and come back tomorrow, they’ll never see Smiffy again. Not alive, anyway. His contact (a salesman working for Pinnacle Event) will be bringing along some muscle to the meeting, and has orders to kill Smiffy. So if the squad are still with him, go to The Meeting. Otherwise, skip to Smiffy Snuffed.
The place is a large, empty parking lot far from the main streets, and deep in shadows. If Smiffy is allowed to, he will wait in the middle of the lot for his contact, who will turn up in a black limousine with tinted windows. If Smiffy is not there, or is not allowed to reveal himself by the squad, the limousine will slowly turn around in the lot, and leave. If Smiffy is in the lot, the car will stop, and a human, followed by a Shaktar and a Stormer will emerge, all dressed in black suits and ties. Smiffy says "Hey! What..." before the Shaktar draws a gun. Smiffy turns and runs toward the nearest Operative, shouting, "Help me!" before the Shaktar shoots Smiffy twice in the back. Stepping up to the fallen pusher, he will shoot him a third time - in the head - before all three get back into the car and drive off.
At least, that is the course of events should the squad not interfere. If the Ops show themselves, then the two bodyguards will do their level best to kill Smiffy before they escape in the limo. If it looks like they are outmatched, they will leave as quickly as possible. Smiffy should take at least one bullet, and will probably die later on in hospital from a punctured lung.
Use stats for Shaktar and Stormer operatives, but take away any armour, and only give them basic FEN pistols (they aren’t expecting any trouble). For the salesman use civilian stats, but add some extra inter-personal and business skills, as well as boosting up his CHA. He is unarmed and unarmoured.
All three are carrying wallets, with IDs and various other items. The information contained herein show that they all work for Pinnacle Event Chemicals, as a salesman and security guards respectively. Their names are Jeremy Ried (the salesman), J’nn P’th’ck (John Pethick to human voice-boxes) and Normal (the Stormer).
If the squad fail to capture/kill any of the three, the car’s registration can be traced back to a Pinnacle Event pool car.
All fingers are now pointing squarely at Pinnacle Event. Maybe a visit would be in order?
If the three are killed, or if any of the squad reveals their presence, and any of them get away, then you should go to The Shakedown. Pinnacle Event have had enough of this pussy-footing around...
If the squad somehow misses all this, and has an evening at the Pit, or otherwise slack during the investigation, they may only find out after the fact that one of their best leads - Smiffy Wellington - was found dead in an overgrown parking lot last night.
He was killed by a bullet in the head, which followed two bullets in the back. Very professional. His wallet and watch, along with his shoes and jacket, were gone, but forensic evidence shows that this occurred some time after his death.
The only clue that the Ops may find in this case is a drunken tramp who saw the whole thing from his cardboard box near the lot. The Ops may notice the guy, because he is wearing Smiffy’s brown-checked jacket (and wearing his shoes). If given enough money, and/or booze, the man ("M’name’s Rats...") will remember a limo and three guys ("Two of ‘em real big guys, like Stormers or somethin’...") kill Smiffy before taking off.
Rats actually has quite a good memory (he was an accountant before seventy five hundred million creds went ‘missing’ one afternoon), and although the Ops may think this is all he knows, he does actually remember the number plate of the car. He will not volunteer this information, but will give it out if plied with enough drink. This is the last lead for the squad, make them work for it.
The registration will point them once again at Pinnacle Event.
At Pinnacle Event
There are many ways that the squad could handle Pinnacle. They could arrange an appointment with the Managing Director. They could stake out the Pinnacle building, hoping to catch the salesman or the two guards (if they aren’t already dead). They could try to get a search warrant to bust in and shake the place down. And they could probably do something that I haven’t thought of.
If Jeremy, J’nn and Normal are all still alive, then the squad could try to follow them when they leave the building in the evening. The trio are not expecting any followers, and do not act suspicious, unless the Ops really screw it up. They go home, relax, maybe go out for a drink, meet some girl, do normal stuff. Jeremy may work late. The other two might be on unusual shifts. They act as if nothing is untoward (in their eyes, nothing is).
What do the players want to do? Kidnap and interrogate one of them? Arrest Jeremy? Or any of the others? Or just merely follow them, hoping for a break?
Arresting them is the squad’s best bet. Unfortunately, Jeremy is far too squirmy to be pinned down into giving away any information, and the other two are just too tough to be beaten. Jeremy is aware of his rights, and will not be intimidated or tricked into giving anything away. J’nn is too honour-bound to Pinnacle to say or do anything to incriminate the company. Normal is stupid, however, and might give something away. ("Well, yeah, we whacked da guy. He was da link to Pinnacle selling drugs - oops, I wasn’t supposed ta say dat!")
After several hours of following/interrogation, or whatever, go to The Shakedown.
Interview with a Slimy Bastard
Larry Poindexter, the Managing Director of Pinnacle Event Chemicals, will arrange an interview with the squad if they get in contact with the company. Seating them in huge leather chairs in his office on the third floor (the chemical factory is only three stories tall, but spreads for several blocks in each direction), he provides refreshments, and asks them how he can help them.
Larry knows the intricacies of the whole deal, and how his company (under orders from Karma) have ‘stolen’ research from its child company Keymath Node, and produced quantities of the drug Ruthenium, which has been provided for field-testing to a local gang known as the Black Dans. But he is not going to tell the players that.
Instead, he skirts the issue, pointing out the various drugs and remedies manufactured by Pinnacle that have helped cure disease, rectify genetic defects, heal injuries and so forth. The company has done so much good with its resources that he can’t see how anyone connected with them can possibly have sold a combat drug onto the street.
"Are you sure it was one of our employees? We do contract a lot of staff, you know. Our sales staff work for our sub-companies as well as us. We have five companies that produce products for us. Could it have been someone working for one of them?" (This is just Larry setting up The Shakedown to come.)
Whatever the Ops say, Larry squirms out of it, deflecting blame from Pinnacle onto anyone; the pusher Smiffy, the Dan leader Marcus, the faceless force of his employees, even the squad themselves. Any one could have been wrong, mistaken, misunderstood, or even rotten. Why would a reputable company release a dangerous drug onto the street?
Of course, he is protesting too hard, but the squad may not pick up on this.
If they ask for a tour, Larry gives them the old story of protected areas, untrained personnel being a dangerous risk, decontamination procedures being costly and lengthy, etc. Sorry, but unless they obtain a search warrant from Internal Affairs, the plant must remain unbreached.
And out the door they go. Go to The Shakedown.
Going to the Judge
Trying to get some kind of official dispensation to enter Pinnacle Event and search it will prove impossible. Pinnacle is a company under direct orders from Karma, and Karma has a lot of power. The squad will be told that they "just don’t have enough evidence to warrant the issue of such a document". They have no solid evidence of a crime committed by Pinnacle, only some dead employees (maybe) and a registration plate. This isn’t going to happen.
But what it is going to do is shake the beehive. Pinnacle Event become aware how close the Ops are to uncovering their secret, and move their plans ahead slightly. Go to The Shakedown.
As a climax to the whole affair, this may come as a surprise to the players. Pinnacle Event Chemicals, having become uncomfortably aware that a squad of Operatives are very close to discovering their part in all this, has decided to wipe the slate clean. The company would prefer to keep Keymath Node operating, in order for them to finish research and development on Ruthenium, but it is not strictly necessary.
Pinnacle requires a scapegoat to hand over to the Operatives, and they already have all of the current research on Ruthenium, so Keymath Node is expendable. And they will throw them to the wolves if the Ops get too close to Pinnacle.
Leaking certain information to internal Affairs (modified of course) causes the following events to occur: -
The DaIADS headed by Shiver Holding is terminated. Holding is posted on a double-length tour of duty with a Sleeper squad, and the other two Shivers are posted on similar far-away tasks.
The squad is immediately recalled to a debriefing at Internal Affairs.
The debriefing will be held in a small interrogation chamber on the third floor of the IA building, and will be carried out by IA Agent Dan Klassen.
"[INSERT SQUAD NAME HERE], thank you for your efforts so far in tracking down the source of the drug Ruthenium. However, this BPN is now terminated, and we require you to complete your task by serving several extermination warrants on the culprits of the crime. It seems that a sub-company of Pinnacle Event Chemicals, known as Keymath Node Pharmaceuticals, is the source of the drug, and the top management, along with certain of the scientists, have been leaking the drug onto the streets through a salesman they have on their payroll called Jeremy Ried. He was working with two security guards, a Shaktar called J’nn P’th’ck and a Stormer called Normal.
[Read next paragraph if these three are dead, otherwise skip to the last paragraph]
"Thanks to you, these criminals are dead. You should be commended for you swift action in terminating these felons. However, there are others involved in this scheme...
"This group were making quite a profit from the sale of illicit and experimental drugs. But you have uncovered their scheme, and now they must pay. Extermination warrants have been served on the three already mentioned [absolving the squad of their deaths if they are no more], along with Malcolm Wheelshack, the Managing Director of Keymath Node, Lucinda Mace, their Research and Development engineer, and Praetor, the chemist responsible for creating Ruthenium. The company Keymath Node has been liquidated, and all research and equipment has been returned to its parent, Pinnacle Event.
"All that remains is to track down these six/three [depending on what’s happened so far] fugitives, and carry out their sentence."
Agent Klassen hands over the relevant paperwork, along with personnel files detailing the homes, telephone numbers, credit card numbers and similar of the people the squad have to kill. They are shown to the street, probably very confused, wondering what the hell is going on, and what happened to their investigation.
Now it gets nasty.
On the Lamb
If Jeremy, J’nn and Normal are still alive, then the players have six termination to make. Jeremy and J’nn in particular will know exactly what is happening (they have been in on it from the beginning, and are now being served up on a platter to IA).
Jeremy will attempt to get in contact with legal help, and will be found either at his home address, or at his solicitors home (his solicitor, knowing about the termination Warrant, will call the squad to tell them that Jeremy is on his way). When found, Jeremy will try one last attempt at bribing the squad with half a million credits ("But I don’t have the money with me..."). If the squad take the bait, he admits that it will take a few days to collect it together (during which period he will be attempting to leave the planet and go join DarkNight or something). Otherwise, he will stoically stand there while the players gun him down (anyone want to slice his neck to save a bullet?). The solicitor (if the termination happened in his office) will send the squad a bill for two hundred credits to dry-clean his carpet.
J’nn spends his last few hours cleaning his weapons, polishing his armour, and readying his mind for the combat. He awaits the squad in his apartment, and challenges any Shaktars or Stormers in the group to single combat. Otherwise, he ambushes the squad as they enter, and continues fighting until the end.
Normal doesn’t quite understand what is going on, and carries on as normal (hence his name). He tries to go to work, but is turned away (security call the squad to tell them where Normal is). He goes home, or goes to the Pit. Or goes shopping. He will be found armed only with his Fen, and wearing no armour. He will probably be taken by surprise and gunned down before he can even draw his weapon. He dies not understanding how this happened...
The others are all confused but frightened. Malcolm Wheelshack can be found at the offices of the now-liquidated company Keymath Node, trying to tie up his affairs before joining the dole queue the next day. He will be on the phone to Lucinda Mace when the Operatives catch up with him. He drops the phone and starts begging for his life, quite pathetically (think Bill Paxton’s character in ‘True Lies’). Who wants to pull the trigger/swing the blade?
Probably feeling sick to their stomachs, the squad should go on to the next murder (legalised it may be, but it is still murder).
Lucinda, having just heard what happened over the phone, has legged it. Leaving her husband and son behind, she throws a few things into a bag, tells Karl (her husband) that she is heading off-planet, and goes to the spaceport. The squad will have to move quickly. At Lucinda’s home, Karl is afraid for her safety, and doesn’t want her to leave, so he tells the squad exactly where she has gone; the spaceport.
If they hurry, they will get to the spaceport before she gets on board a craft (or they can radio for Shiver assistance to detain her until they get there. Shivers will stop and hold Lucinda to one side of the concourse until the squad arrives). Make the confrontation a public one, with loads of witnesses and (if you want to be really nasty) a 3rd Eye crew. Lucinda will scream at the watchers to do something, but will essentially be helpless as the squad steps forward, presents the termination warrant, and kill her. People will be disgusted, muttering things like "Cold-hearted bastards!" and "Murdering Slops..." while drifting away. The Shivers move in to clean up.
Swap over Malcolm and Lucinda if the Ops go after Lucinda first (she is on the phone to Malcolm, and they catch him at the spaceport).
Praetor is a female Ebon who first developed the concept of Ruthenium, and has seen it through to its current state. She knows more about the drug than anyone else on the planet. And that is now going to get her killed. She has worked loyally for SLA since she was old enough, and is the ultimate innocent. She has never committed a crime, or done anything wrong in her entire life, and trusts the system implicitly. And so she does not run or hide from the squad, but calmly awaits their arrival (if she knows they are coming), or goes about her daily routine.
She greets the Ops with a smile, pleased to see visitors. She offers them refreshments, and apologises for the mess of her apartment. Would they like a seat?
She says nothing to the Ops after they serve the warrant, but calmly waits for death, looking up at the executioner’s eyes. Make this scene disturbing in the extreme. Show how this delicate Ebon has done everything she can for the company that is now demanding her death. And stress that her efforts haven’t made the slightest difference in the outcome of her fate (except for maybe accelerating it).
Fighting the System
Of course, it is entirely possible that the Ops may refuse to carry out their new mission. Maybe they complete the first few warrants before declining the rest. Maybe they refuse outright. This would certainly earn them a drop in SCL rating, at the very least. If you are a particularly nasty GM, then you could have the Ops added to the list of Termination Warrants served by IA, and have them hunted by another squad.
Whatever happens during this phase, the squad should be affected by the deaths of the innocent victims of Keymath Node (Jeremy, J’nn and Normal are easier; they were actually criminals).
During the debrief, the squad’s actions will be scrutinised quite closely. Did any of the criminals get away? Were the squad’s actions responsible for the escape? Did the squad do everything in their power to serve the warrants? And so on.
Pinnacle Event and its personnel are cleared of any criminal activity (this is made quite explicit by the debriefing officers in IA), and the crime is placed squarely on the shoulders of the six individuals who are, hopefully, now dead. The source of Ruthenium, Keymath Node, is finished, and no more of the drug can be synthesised (at least as far as IA, Cloak and the players know). The players will be rewarded with generous bonuses (both monetary and SCL increase) for the terminations they have served, and for their demonstrated loyalty to SLA. They will also be punished (reduction in SCL, and fines to pay) for any of the criminals who got away.
All of which should leave the squad with a horrible taste in their mouths, and just a little bit of self-loathing.
And maybe one day, the World of Progress will be introduced to a revolutionary new combat drug, which the squad may well recognise...