DM6.01: Altai Media Presents, part one – A cornered rat will bite

The nerfherders for this session

The Face: Aethelair
The Hacker: Dantas
The Muscle: Kincade

Riding the stream alongside: Abraxas/Garland, hacker

Nerfherders in hiding!

On their arrival back in Bastion, dastardly nemesis Baludan releases fake stream footage of them kidnapping Bliss Larkam. Thus far only her ex-manager Fel Omric has been in the frame. But now their lives are in peril – few things are more dangerous than an angry Blissimp!

Initially their faction the Infinity Order shelters them but that is not tenable, and it officially disavows them! Of course this comes with a private instruction to use the chance to act as they choose against Stormdark, Baludan’s dark organization within Zephyr Corp.

Vesio Savhel is still their obnoxiously wealthy patron so it is there the rats flee next, with heavy gear secreted back in the Order. And plan their revenge!

Is Fel Omric a friend in need?

They are contacted by hacker extraordinaire Abraxas, whom they know to be Garland, a disaffected ex-employee of Zephyr Corp. He has been guiding Fel Omric away from trouble, and the ex-producer wants to meet.

He has a plan, apparently, that may clear all their names. He’s hiding down in sleazy Lower Port 9. The kind of area visitors to Bastion are steered away from.

“Excellent, we can stay tooled up down there” – Aethelair

“You can’t go out with heavy gear, my fine fellows!” – Vesio

“We’ll be the soul of discretion, don’t worry” – Dantas

It takes a worried man

Casually gut-shooting two foolhardy tunnel punks and stepping over their bodies the trio head into cafe Nu-Muse. In the fug of spice alcohol and old cooking, they split up to control, investigate and meet: Kincade stands by the door, Dantas checks for a rear escape route, and Aethelair buys a drink and looks for Fel Omric.

Fel is identifiable from trying too hard to look casual. In appearance, he’s a fallen producer-guy, hair no longer fashionable and clothes that were last changed a long time ago. He starts, as Aethelair slides in opposite.

Once reassured, Fel speaks in tense, almost frenetic phrases. He has a plan! If the team can crack Zephyr Corp’s tower, and get into the secure 79th level where Stormdark’s secret servers are located, they can find and detach the faked-up incriminating information.

“You’ll each need one of these drazwi implants… these will get you all through basic security… but that’s as far as I can help” – Fel Omric

Dantas takes one of the chips and examines it.

A moderate INT check is not enough to pick up on the potential downside

Shortly after that, Fel goes over the security in some detail and injects each team member with the chip implant. The key to getting to the data store is getting up to floor 80, Baludan’s personal quarters and in theory the only ingress to 79.

“I shall have my revenge on Baludan – my intel is that he is right there now!” – Fel Omric

We will flashback how good the instructions are and how much attention the nerfherders paid, when it becomes relevant.

DM

The unwelcome mascot arrives

Located in Bastion’s cloud-piercing upper levels, Zephyr Corp’s HQ block is a multi-tiered structure of steel and glass. All is busy as usual in the central portion’s entrance lobby, its faux-marble floors setting off its sturdy mezzanine-high pillars. Behind the crescent of reception, a central elevator screens the presence of a strongpoint at mezzanine height, the main security pod. Left and right, more discreetly against the wing walls, two more elevators offer different levels of access to higher-level floors.

This much Abraxas has warned Dantas of, as he rides along in Dantas’ stream. Of course, things will have changed since his time as an employee…

Some two dozen or so civilians weave around each other and between the pillars as they go about their day to day office business. Employees can safely pierce the security force field that runs level with reception between the pillars and the wing walls.

Three figures arrive through the imposing main doors. One in particular catches the eye. For those longer-term employees, its appearance brings on a frisson of discomfort and gossip!

“Isn’t that huge mascot panda Ying-Ying? Wasn’t there some scandal?”

I think my players are getting the idea of how this improv-scene stuff works, or maybe it was just a good chance to embarrass Kincade’s player. Either way, inspired by Kofi and Triples’ last adventure and South Park, Ying-Ying the sexual harassment panda has appeared as Kincade’s disguise.

DM

Dantas (carrying his normal blaster concealed) and Aethelair (carrying all his blasters concealed) are relatively unobserved. Dantas mentally crosses his fingers, as he heads through the security field left of reception, and notices the security pod towering at mezzanine height and three plain-clothes security guards among the civilians. He reaches the left elevator and discovers that:

  • It is secure
  • Swipes can only be done on the lobby side
  • It only goes up as far as 78.

While Aethelair begins a slow wander towards that wing, Dantas sets off across the broad pillared lobby’s rear, more or less behind reception. Two receptionists are identical human-looking droids, the third is a very well armed security droid. Its “head” or turret swivels and tracks him. But he arrives at the middle elevator and immediately sees that it carries lower-tier employees up no higher than floor 25.

By this time Ying-Ying has wandered through the security field. His offers of hugs earn him plenty of space! Aethelair sets off after Dantas.

As Dantas crosses the second half of the lobby he meets a security guard, wondering if he needs any help?

CHA check with Background: Criminal sees Dantas pass muster with flying colors!

Likewise, Aethelair scrapes by across the same jouney.

I’ve gone into quite a bit of detail here, because this lobby level is lethal. Security droids are deadly and Zephyr Corp can drop one from the security pod to join the fight. A total CR of 12 makes this the key area to not get into a fight!

DM

The security on 80th is intense!

Dantas eyes the last elevator’s console panel. Yes! There’s a special code-and-swipe for 80th. Screened by Ying-Ying, he jacks it open and performs a manual bypass. Up they go!

At this stage Dantas has used four “You Owe Me One!” and is sitting on two.

As the doors open on 80th the team is confronted by a sleek-edged security director droid behind a desk. It rises, gearing up with a carbine, and pushing a hidden silent alarm:

“I’m sorry sir, equipment such as you are carrying is not permitted on this floor!”

Dantas is the hyper-aware one and while Ying-Ying heads straight for the security director and Aethelair swings a gun up to aim for the surveillance cameras, he warns them that two wall-mounted swivel guns are coming online as well.

While Kincade – Ying-Ying costume smoldering after close-range blasts of the carbine – slices into the security director and Dantas uses his sneak attack abilities to help dismantle it, Aethelair’s guns devastate the cameras and gun mounts.

Dantas searches the console – then leaps back away from where Kincade hurls the sec-coded carbine, moments before it explodes. With that out of the way Dantas hands Aethelair the hand-mic and the Face persuades the next security team that there’s just been a glitch.

Really great check – Aethelair has bought time, if wanted

The team is free to take a breath or surge on to the next section. As Kincade struggles out of his Ying-Ying costume they opt for dashing onward!

Trio vs Trio

Dantas smoothly pops the door with Kincade ready beside him, and is confronted by a slightly surprised (given Aethelair’s work on the mic) security trio a short dash away. A sniper brings up a long gun and two heftier types are protecting them. Dantas uses DEX to run at the (startled) heavies then parkours up the wall and vaults over! At the same time Abraxas operates local ambience to create a weird sound behind the trio. Dantas has advantage and slays the sniper in one shot!

Aethelair runs to the doorway, uses Kincade as some cover, and shoots the heavier of the two heavies. He slams several shots home! The heavy draws a long blade while the other punches up a datapad and coordinates. The blade swings wildly, only striking Dantas once despite the coordination! As Kincade joins in – “that’s not a blade, this is a blade!” – Dantas sees the force blade sear through his attacker’s chest!

With just the controller to deal with, the fight is over in seconds. “Don’t shoot the datapad!” Dantas yells and Aethelair finishes the guard with a headshot crit.

Kincade loots two grenades – one a lethal burst type – and Dantas removes the datapad and grins in triumph. This will key them to either the living quarters in front of them, or (with some security hacking) the control door to level 79 access!

Fact-check flashback as each player rolls a d6, low is good. Two get a 1, one gets a 3. That’s great! Fel Omric has given them reasonably accurate information and they have remembered the layout! They are aware that the door they are in front of ought to give them access to Baludan’s living quarters and the next door gives access down to 79th.

Always suspect the innocent!

“Do not go through that *^#*$! door, it will just be Baludan’s pet Rancor” Aethelair snarks but Dantas works on the door panel and bypasses the bio-security. He accesses a security camera feed while he does so and reports that the wide room beyond houses a grey-haired civilian and a little girl.

“Probably a gnome, kill it” – Aethelair

“We’re supposed to hit the hub and clear our name, but ya know, I just can’t help thinking about who these two are. And they are prisoners…” – Dantas

Quick vote: Investigate the prisoners? Aethelair and Dantas vote aye. Aethelair has a feeling the civilian may know a way to easily bypass the level 79 door security.

The interior is an extravagantly appointed open-plan area, with a breathtaking view, through plate glass, of upper Bastion.

The old man – a human with no life-extension – looks up uncertainly. “You – who are you?” he quavers. Aethelair makes reassuring noises, and Dantas asks if he wants to leave.

“Yes, they have been holding me here with my niece Liann hostage for good behavior. I’m Mevalian… Liann, do you hear that? Say hello to the nice men.”

“You’re all going to die!” – Liann

This is the cue for the little girl to morph into a silver skinned humanoid, pick up her uncle and hurl him through the glass to his death! Then she turns to combat the erstwhile rescuers, a plasma cannon visible in her forehead!

“Told ya – always kill the gnome!” – Aethelair

Combat cleared!

  • Aethelair: hunts cover, sends shot after shot into the droid, some of them incapacitating it.
  • Kincade: closes to use laser sword, his Iron Hero feat lending him +2AC and enabling him to prevent Liann from a Legendary Action success.
  • Dantas: stays well in cover and attempts a very hard hack with a couple of just as unsuccessful shots now and then.

At last the Liann unit lies inert, its head unit mostly blown apart from Kincade jamming the looted grenade into its mouth. And as they look around to see if Baludan has left a BBEG diary or Mevalian has left instructions about dismantling the virus, they pause and walk to the broken window. The natural high-altitude air of Bastion breezes in, and as its chill takes hold, the session ends.

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