WHITE - Hunting the Machine

by Simon Naylor


The penultimate BPN in the Machine story arc, the Ops discover the Tek-Trex facility and possibly interesting information within.


Background

Thwarted several times in their attempts to research a market for a new black market Chrome Age, Tek Trex have gone ahead with production nonetheless. Offering enhancements to outgunned rival companies, they are running a brisk trade and causing problems for an increasing number of Operatives as the cybernetics start to hit the streets. The precise quality of the implants will depend on the success of the Operatives on previous BPNs in this story arc, which will dictate how much testing was done.

The executives in question are a combined team of sales and field agents. In an effort to convince potential buyers to hand over the cash, they are using a drone to show off the enhancements. The buyers, unaware that in fact the drone is entirely robotic and controlled by the field agents, have so far been impressed and sales are good despite the actual implants being inferior.

The sales team are the squad’s gateway to the production facility, hidden in Lower Downtown. If they can shut that down then they can stem the tide of dangerous cybernetics before it becomes a problem. Risikko’s intelligence suggests that this is the precursor to a larger production project, and if left to run the streets could be flooded with cybernetics. This has the obvious problem of causing faster, stronger opponents for Operatives on BPNs, but less obviously the price of the implants puts them within reach of the gangs, giving them the opportunity to throw the balance of power that keeps them in stalemate and forcing SLA to intervene in a potential city-wide gang war. Lastly, this experiment could prove that in fact the Chrome Warrior was a profitable and effective endeavour, and closer examination could reveal that it was in fact forced off the market by Karma to create a biogenetic monopoly.

Brief

Risikko will be already known to the squad as the contact for previous BPNs. He will have deliberately picked the squad for this one in order to minimise the amount of people who know about it, as he is fully aware of the implications with Karma and the Chrome Age. He will be open from the start about the chain of events in this BPN – track down the sales team, get the location of their factory by whatever means necessary, and shut the factory down. For the last part they will be able to call in the assistance of a unit of Enforcer Shivers, however a bonus will be offered if they can do it themselves (up to 100c per Op if they ask). The last information Risikko has on the whereabouts of the sales team is that they were seen by Shivers talking to a group of Johannas in Cochese sector

Cochese Sector

Cochese is a down and out sector, even by Downtown standards. Not much money flows here, and the local Johannas are a nasty breed. Operatives arriving there will quickly notice two things – an absence of Shivers and a proliferation of gangers. The Shivers exist, but such a low value sector isn’t high on SLA’s priority list and the precinct gets little funding, so they tend to stay indoors and come out only when a show of force is needed to impress some superior. It’s not like there’s much for them to extort from the populace anyway. The locals tend to be furtive and unassuming, because to be bold is to attract the attention of the Johannas who are pretty much left alone by the otherwise relatively benevolent Prince Jasper, for the same reasons as the Shivers do. What this means for the Ops is that everyone here will be cagey and hostile, although not violently so. The civilians won’t want to attract attention by being seen with Ops, and the gangers simply don’t like them. However, a show of cash will loosen any lips, particularly the gangers.

Johannas

In fact the Johannas have little to do with Tek Trex. They negotiated with the sales team, and would have loved to buy a set of implants, but the truth is they didn’t have the money for them. They naively tried to muscle the team into giving them a discount, and got a free demo of what the drone can do. So they leave them alone now. However, they do know who might be able to afford the implants. They’ll of course only give this information up at a price. The Ops can bully the information out of them if they’d rather, but the gangers will be out to get them for the rest of the BPN if they do, actively working against them by warning people of their approach and even taking a few potshots with black market shotguns and 10mm handguns if they feel brave. Luckily for the Ops, anything they do in retaliation will have no real effect on their reputation with the Johannas as a whole.
It turns out that there’s a small Soft Company operating in the area, by the name of Red Snapper, and it is they who the sales team met with after the Johannas blew their chance. Red Snapper do have the money, and a few personnel who could use it. They’re only a soft company in the loosest sense of the word, more akin to a company of mercenaries, and an unscrupulous one at that. They hire themselves out to other soft companies and the occasional gang, and operate from this sector because of the lack of attention it receives. When short on contracts they tend to fall back on their old habits of extortion and blackmail. The Johannas know where these guys hang out, but since neither bothers the other they tend to exist in parallel with never the twain meeting. This may change in the future if Red Snapper find out the gangers put the Ops onto them, but that’s not for this BPN. Successfully coaxing information about the Snappers’ location from the Johannas will direct them to the Acott Arms

Red Snapper logo. A Red Snapper is actually a fish, but who in Downtown has ever seen one?


Red Snapper

The soft company numbers about 40 members, with 30 combat personnel, 2 procurement staff, 4 sales staff, 1 field commander, 2 executives, and the CEO. The combat staff are split into three platoons of ten, which are subsequently split into two squads of five each. This breaks down the fighting staff to 24 gunners (4 per squad), 3 corporals (1 per platoon), 3 sergeants (1 per platoon), and the commander. Normally the Red Snappers aren’t shy of attacking larger companies – they’re veterans of numerous encounters with DarkNight, and even a couple of battles with Operatives. They’re not as cocky on their home turf though, because discovery by one of the bigger companies here could lead to them being hunted down and wiped out. If left with no choice, though, they could provide a real headache for a trigger-happy squad.

The Snappers’ HQ is an old and decaying factory unit. Once it was a SLA producer of vehicle parts, then later a smaller DarkNight ammunition factory was set up among the remains of the abandoned machinery. Now the Snappers use whatever can be salvaged from both manufactories as an armoury, although with little in the way of skilled technical personnel they’re mostly limited to making crude shotgun shells and patching up armour with shattered pieces of ceramic. They occasionally will hire an enterprising black market arms manufacturer for contract jobs making or modifying their own equipment.

Most people are unaware of the factory, but the entrance building is familiar to many. The surface level entrance was once a moderately sized loading bay, but now has been converted over the decades into a bar, the Acott Arms under its latest owner. To the Johannas and the few citizens who frequent it, the Acott Arms is the sole hideaway for the Red Snappers. The Snappers aren’t hostile to drinkers from outside their company, but similarly are far from welcoming. However they do offer security to those who can put up with the sneers and frosty looks from the regulars, which is why the few outsiders drink there – mostly people with something to hide or someone to hide from. This works out fine for the Snappers, since it is this sort of person they recruit or are hired by.

Operatives entering the bar will not be encouraged to stay, and undercover is by far the best way to get any information. Those using force could well find themselves outgunned and outnumbered, as it only takes a few shouts or a call from someone watching the bar’s CCTV to prompt a response from the squad on guard on the floor below. If they’ve done their homework, though, they should realise that an aggressive approach to the Red Snappers is going to be hard and expensive. Some good information gathering at this point could reveal that their leader, Commander Keane, is meeting with Tek-Trex the next night. Bugging the bar or some other form of spying is best for finding this, as the Snappers won’t just strike up a conversation with outsiders, but don’t limit the players to only that. Keane is the only member of the Snappers who knows where the meeting is being held, and the objective here is to guide the Ops towards finding out from him where the meeting will be. A few dropped hints from NPCs as to how many Snappers there are and that they are well trained and equipped should hopefully prompt some lateral thinking.

A handy hint for the Ops lies with one of the few regular citizens in the bar. Paddy Jacobson sits alone in the corner getting as drunk as possible. The Snappers and the handful of Johannas in the bar mostly ignoring him, occasionally making him the butt of a joke or getting him to do some ridiculous act for a drink. Should an outsider buy him a drink and ask him about the place, he’s only too happy to conspiratorially let them in on his big secret – he knows about the factory below. What’s more, he’s been in there and knows a way in. He’s horrendously drunk and difficult to take seriously, and in fact none of the few strangers he’s let in on this secret (and he’s not stupid enough to tell the Snappers) believe that there’s a factory under the bar, let alone that the old soak could infiltrate it.

The Hideout

The factory in which the Snappers dwell has, unfortunately for them, too many entrances. Not many people know about most of them, and even they don’t know of a couple. This means an industrious scout could infiltrate the facility without raising the alarm. The easiest to find will be if they spoke to Paddy in the bar. He will tell them of a damaged conveyor, now long defunct, which allows access to the inside of one of the larger pieces of machinery. From there they can climb out and get into the facility. There is a rusty air vent on the top of the Acott Arms which can be removed and the venting used to move around. This isn’t as easy as it sounds – it’s difficult to move through without making a sound (Sneak -4), and is in poor condition (A detect roll -3 at key points to avoid crashing through weak sections). There are sewers underneath the facility which give access to several rusty grates. While these aren’t designed to be opened, an Op who is strong (STR roll -4) or equipped with cutting equipment (bear in mind you can’t swing a chainaxe in a pipe only big enough to crawl through) can get through them.

Naturally there are the obvious entrances too. In the stock room of the Acott Arms there is an industrial elevator which leads to the top level of the factory. This has a code lock on it (strength 3) and has a CCTV camera focused on it. There is also a large set of doors from a tunnel two floors below which serves as the main entrance. This is also locked and monitored, as with the bar entrance. Forcing entrance through any of these will result in a hostile response.


Basement 5

1. Disused Factory. Relatively dry, but decrepit and clearly hasn’t been entered, let alone used, in decades. The machinery is seized and rusting. Access to floor 4 is via crumbling concrete steps to a partially seized door to the middle left scrap store room.

Basement 4
2. Scrap Storage. All of these small rooms are piled with a variety of containers filled with scrap metal, ceramic and electronics. Much of the scrap is identifiable as weaponry or armour.
3. Scrap Sorting. More piles of scrap in containers line the walls of this large room. In the centre are four tables with an accompanying wheelie bin, where scruffy looking men in overalls are sorting through the junk. These guys are only here for the pittance they’re being paid and have little loyalty to anyone.

Basement 3
4. Chemical Storage. The various oils, lubricants, paints and solvents used in production are stored here. Needless to say, most of the contents are flammable.
5. Casting. A small smelter and set of moulds here are used to cast bullets for ammunition production. It is currently cold.
6. Explosives. Slightly misnamed, the explosives store room holds the propellant for the ammunition produced here. It is contained in shoe-box sized sturdy plastic cases in the form of small plastic capsules of black granules. While not explosive, the propellant is highly flammable.
7. Fusion Storage. Depleted fusion cells used in the armour produced are held here, set into lead lined containers in case of a breach.
8. Ammunition. The room is filled with racks of ammunition boxes, containing newly made 10mm and 10g rounds. The ammunition is produced locally and is inferior to that which SLA produces.
9. Production. This room is full of standing machines, the walls lined with racks of weapon and armour components. There are half a dozen men in overalls working the machines, taking pieces off the shelves and reconditioning them. They are expert machinists and artisans, producing quality weapon and armour components from junk.
10. Power Distribution. This is more of a cage than a room, fencing off the power distribution boards which feed the facility. The gate is locked with a hefty padlock.
11. Machine Store. This small room is lined with shelves holding cutting blades and discs, drill bits, and the various other consumables and spare parts used by the production machinery.
12. Recharging. Thick cables from the power distribution units lead into this room and an array of clamps which are used to charge the variety of cells used in the weapons and armour. There are a few bins of spent cells of all kinds in here.

Basement 2
13. Weapon Storage. Finished weapons for sale are held here. They are mostly reconditioned or counterfeit copies of DarkNight and SLA 10mm weapons, but there are a few of the Snappers’ own brand here as described in the NPC stats.
14. Server Room. The servers here drive the admin and security systems. They are old and badly maintained.
15. Electronics. A small electronics workshop is found here, with diagnostics and equipment for repairing and manufacturing specialist circuitry for the armour. Currently the Snappers are without an engineer, so the equipment lies unused.
16. Armour Storage. The finished armour components and assembled units are held here. It is obviously recycled and not pretty to look at, but it is sturdy and well made.
17. Armour and Ammunition Assembly. The room is divided into two parts, with most dedicated to the assembly of scrappy suits of armour from racks of components, and a corner to a little production line assembling ammunition. There are 12 Downtowners performing these tasks.
18. Weapon Assembly. This large room is dedicated to the preparation and assembly of a range of similar weapons. The workers here have a little skill, matching up parts like puzzles to produce a flow of weapons which are all slightly different from the last.
19. Armoury. The live weapons used by the Snappers themselves are stored here, usually with one of the troopers keeping an eye on them. The ammunition held in here is of SLA and DarkNight manufacture. There is a hatch leading to the range which can be used to issue and take in weapons.
20. Firing Range. This room is dedicated to the 40m firing range running its length. It is used both by the Snappers for regular practice, and by potential customers testing their stock before buying.
21. Range Stores. This small room holds spare targets and houses the controls for the range mechanisms.

Basement 1
22. Quarter. The quarters here are meant for rest after an operation, so that staff can keep their heads low before returning home. They also get used as crash pads for the Snappers, and this one in particular is reinforced to be used as a holding cell should it ever be required.
23. Quarter.
24. Quarter.
25. Toilets.
26. Ablutions.
27. Changing Rooms.
28. Gym
29. Admin Office. This is where all the accounting, logistics and sales are done for the company. The non-combat staff can be found at their terminals.
30. CEO’s Office. Keane’s office is clinical and sparsely decorated, only a few trophies adorning the surfaces. He has a large polished metal desk, and a few comfortable chairs overlooking a large TV. This is where Keane will be found if he is in the building.
31. Board Room. This large room is spotlessly clean, with thick carpet and a large faux-wood table. Replica weapons are placed on stands in the corners, and a large screen takes up the south wall.
32. Security. There are always two armed and armoured Snappers posted in the small security office, doubling up as surveillance and quick response. From here there is a small elevator leading up to the bar’s back room.

Ground Floor
33. Bar Stores.
34. Bar.
35. Back Room. Here is where deals get done when the customer is either not trusted or not important enough to be taken into the boardroom. There is a small elevator leading to the Security office.

Commander Keane

Keane is alone in his operations room. This room acts as his office, control centre, and quarters. Sneaky Ops could ideally catch him unaware and be able to get the information about the meeting out of him in whichever way they see fit. However, they may have taken the direct approach and fought their way in. The latter will actually lead to the easiest interrogation – if the Snappers have taken heavy casualties he will be no longer interested in the Tek-Trex deal, needing to relocate and recover instead, so he will simply offer up the information in return for letting his company leave. For anything less he will play it cool, aware that there are probably several dozen well armed troops between the Ops and escape. He has no loyalty to Tek-Trex though, and will willingly rat them out in return for his life. The interrogation should be tense if possible, making the Ops aware that should anyone come to see the commander their infiltration will be blown. Actually doing that should only be used as a last resort though, since a lone scout is unlikely to survive an assault by several platoons of mercenaries. Should Keane be killed before he can give up the information, he does have an Oyster which can be hacked (computer subterfuge, -2) to give up the information.

A third approach is to take the straight line and try to intimidate the Snappers. A lone squad of Ops is no perceived threat to them, but the consideration that SLA might turn its gaze on the soft company is of much more concern. If the Ops can convince the Snappers that they’re going to attract a lot more company attention by dealing with Tek Trex then they’ll pull out of the deal and have no qualms about selling out.

Meeting the Machine

The meeting with Tek-Trex has been set up for the following night in an abandoned warehouse. The place is falling down and is littered with damaged shipping containers which were left behind when it was abandoned. Tek-Trex don’t trust the Snappers, so will be coming prepared. The minimum they will have is one Drone, a new acquisition, and a couple of Props. However, depending on events from the previous BPNs they may also have another Drone (if the original has not been destroyed) and any number of reactivated Rust Alley vets (again, if any survived the previous BPN).

The results of the encounter will depend on how the Ops approach it and how they dealt with Keane. Ambushing the Tek-Trex staff might be a good idea, but if they left Keane alive and pissed off he will be predicting this and will in turn attack when the Ops spring the trap. In theory they could have got the information about the meeting without Keane even knowing, and so could simply listen in – they arrange for a test treatment on one of their number who has suffered a complication to a combat injury, which will be done at the Tek-Trex facility. Should the Ops have got into a fight with the Red Snappers they may well have some of their armour and be able to masquerade as them, assuming the real Snappers don’t also show up. Again, the ingenuity of the Ops is the key point here. The meeting will take place regardless of whether the Ops intervene or not though, and if they miss it they’ll have to get pretty inventive to find the Tek-Trex facility.
The Tek-Trex team, aside from the heavies they have as cover, consists of a sales rep, an accountant, and an exec. The rep will do most of the talking, with the other two just confirming or denying what he can offer and for what price. Capturing any of the three should lead to them revealing the location of the facility using whichever method of interrogation the Ops prefer. Significant is the exec, though. The Ops have no reason to ask at the moment, but this guy knows the location of the research facility where all of this stems from. Should they somehow get this from him Risikko will be very interested. The facility, codenamed Emerald City, will be the setting for the finale of the campaign. For now it isn’t important though, as Risikko will find that out on his own eventually.

The Tek-Trex Facility

Here is where the remains of Tek-Trex’s surgical equipment is set up. After the last facility was destroyed they are now using the research equipment until they can create more. As with the meeting, the guards here are dependent on what has survived the previous BPNs, and also the meeting. If the Ops have slaughtered everything they’ve come across then they will have very little in the way of resistance. At the very least there will be ten or twenty assorted Vitos and Buzzards, as well as half a dozen Tek-Trex surgeons and technicians, unarmed, and a couple of Props who won’t offer much resistance (and may well surrender or run if given the opportunity). Risikko wants everyone dead and the facility destroyed by any means, and that shouldn’t prove difficult. Ops poking around first though, or interrogating the staff, can make some discoveries about the operation. The equipment, for those who look, is old. Decades in fact, dating back to the Chrome Era. The surgeons are too, having worked on the cybernetics back in the day and having been out of work since. The equipment is marked with the logos of a company the Ops won’t have heard of, Cyberior. If any of them look up the company on the network they will find it to be defunct, having been bought out by Karma and scrapped. The surgeons can tell the story of what happened.

The Fall of the Chrome Warrior

The Chrome Era crashed at the height of its popularity, and common knowledge has it that it simply fell out of fashion. However, it didn’t achieve this alone. Karma saw the threat to its market from cybernetic implants and acted upon it. Not that there was ever much of a threat – even without Karma’s intervention it would only ever have been a niche market. However a small impact on profit is still an impact on profit. Karma used their corporate muscle to buy out the competition, then scrapped every program. The facilities were dismantled, the staff fired. Millions of credits wasted, tens of thousands of peoples’ careers ruined, thousands of Operatives left crippled, and it took mere months. Karma and its subsidiaries now remain the sole market provider of implants and upgrades, those credits wasted clawed back from sales of the assets and increased market share within a few years. Tek-Trex, stumbling upon a forgotten cybernetics lab in Downtown, had attempted to resurrect the market for their own with the found technology, but with the destruction of the equipment and deaths of the surgeons after this BPN, so dies the last legacy of the Chrome Era.

NPCs

Red Snapper Gunner
Snapper Gunners are adept fighters, well paid and motivated. They are drawn from all backgrounds, from ganger to Shiver, but share a love of military skills and culture. None of the Gunners have ever served in the military, either through lack of opportunity or common sense, but as talented amateurs they are more than capable of effectively imitating a military unit. They wear their own brand Crayfish armour, stolen Shiver Blocker modified with extra ceramic plates in a black market armoury. It looks bulky and piecemeal, crudely painted red and white in various patterns.

Hits: 16
Phases: 1, 3, 5
Skills: Pistol 3, Rifle 5, Auto-support 4, Unarmed Combat 5, Tactics 4
Equipment: Crayfish armour (reinforced Shiver Blocker) – PV6, DN74 10mm pistol, DN100 10mm rifle

Red Snapper Corporal
The Snapper corporals act as fireteam leaders when a squad divides into smaller groups, and as a second in command to the sergeants. They are experienced gunners who have been promoted through the ranks, tough and respected by their men. The corporals have flashes of blue paint on their chests and arms. They carry semi-auto shotguns of black market manufacture.

Hits: 16
Phases: 1, 3, 5
Skills: Pistol 4, Rifle 6, Auto-support 6, Unarmed Combat 5, Tactics 5
Equipment: Crayfish armour (reinforced Shiver Blocker) – PV6, DN74 10mm pistol, combat shotgun (Clip 6, Cal 10g, RoF 1/3, Rcl 8/9, Rng 10m)

Red Snapper Sergeant
The three sergeants are survivors of several years of action as Downtown mercenaries. Two were successful Props before joining the company, the other an old KT heavy who for undisclosed reasons was banished from the gang. They wear custom DarkNight Power Armour, sacrificing the strength bonus by adding more plating to make them large and imposing figures. Like the corporals, Snapper sergeants wear flashes of blue paint to identify their rank. They also carry black market modified assault rifles, with drilled out working parts and barrels for larger calibre rounds and with shortened barrels and folding stocks.

Hits: 16
Phases: 1, 3, 5
Skills: Pistol 4, Rifle 7, Auto-support 6, Unarmed Combat 5, Tactics 5
Equipment: Lobster armour (reinforced DN Power Armour) – PV12, DN74 10mm pistol with HESH rounds, modified DN100 or FEN AR carbine chambered for 11.35mm, reflex sight (+1 to non-wild shots).

Commander Keane
The company commander and CEO is a former DarkNight Operative and combat veteran. Over time his ideals were eroded and he eventually decided that fighting for money was more likely to keep him alive than fighting for freedom. He is tough and clever, and will try to avoid combat with Operatives if possible in order to evade the notice of SLA. However, if pushed he will use every resource at his disposal to destroy the Ops before they can report him to the company. He wears an old suit of captured First Step armour and carries expensive SLA and Thresher weapons.

Hits: 18
Phases: 1, 3, 5
Skills: Pistol 6, Rifle 8, Auto-support 8, Unarmed Combat 7, Tactics 7
Equipment: TH.0004 First Step armour – PV14, BLA Blitzer, Thresher SHEER 11mm AR with reflex sight (+1 to non-wild shots)