Looking at the manhole leading down into the fetid sewers of Seattle, the team looked at each other and almost said as one:
“We need more gear.”
Piling back in the car, they headed off to a local store to grab a few legal essentials. Flashlights with fresh batteries, glow sticks, and a few large bags for carrying back remains for GrimGallows as Tazer was dead set on returning the ‘Defiled Children’ to it. Corn hopped on his phone and called his Arms Dealer for a rush order of some flechette rounds for one of his shotguns, and Spanky couldn’t resist picking up a pair of glowing devil horns. A quick discussion was had about the necessity of protective gear, and the idea of armored enviromental suits was brought up; but then discarded as the team didn’t feel there was enough time to hunt the suits down. Returning to the manhole, they pried the cover off and decended into Seattle’s underbelly.
Immediately wishing they hadn’t, as the sewage and waste came up to everyone’s mid-shin (Closer to Tazer’s knee as she’s the shorter one of the team), they picked a random direction and started to slog through the muck. Pushing nearly forty minutes, the team stopped as they came upon the scenes of a fight. Chunks of masonry from the wall were gouged out by explosive rounds, and carbon scoring over wide swaths put both Corn and Tazer in the mind of the effects of a flamethrower. Feeling a bit more nervous at what they might face, the team pushed on into a nearby cistern. This area appeared to be the ghoul’s lair as several makeshift hammocks were seen apparently strung together from ties and lined with tattered remains of burial clothes. What mostly stood out is that there were eight bodies in the lair, but all of them laid out almost respectfully on pieces of cardboard with a small card listing the name of the deceased and a brief prayer. The back of the card held the name of the Hammond Necroplex. While checking the corpses to see if any of them were Griffin Moore (Or just if anyone was missing a cybereye), Pharaoh’s radar picked up several moving contacts coming in the opposing doorway. Three female ghouls with five ghoul children between them caught sight of the intruders in their home. Trying to push the children behind them, the females started to hiss at the runners while Tazer tried to be civil and speak with them. Unfortunately this got no where and as soon as the children were shielded, the group tried to run off, starting to scream as they fled down the sewer.
Four male ghouls quickly appeared, two with unkempt pistols, the others with long knives. Tazer once again tried to be civil as the armed ghouls hissed at the team, trying to run them off. Eventually a pair of ghouls started to shuffle forward, trying to get close until Corn and Spanky brought their weapons to bear, showing they were close enough. One of the two ghouls started to speak in broken English, wondering why they were there or if they wanted to trade. Tazer told them of GrimGallows wanting to have his children returned to him as the ghouls were adamantly against it, claiming they would be stealing their food. Tazer reiterated that GrimGallows would eventually come down and kill them, the ghoul seemed unfazed. Stating that the shepard would protect them. In asking about the shepard, the silent-until-now ghoul started to recite a commlink phone number which Pharaoh quickly saved and then called, but kept it audio only. The perky, feminine voice that picked up on the other end said “Aggripa and Associates, office of Mr. Shepard.”.
Realizing that the ghoul had given them a direct line to a corporation’s CEO, the team took a moment to collect themselves before Pharaoh asked to speak to Mr. Shepard, saying that he was Sebastian Hammond. A short wait on hold was returned with a rather curt demand of what did Sebastian want now. Dropping the pretense of who he said he was, Pharaoh informed Mr. Shepard about the threat GrimGallows faced against the Ghouls and that they wanted to remove the bodies to placate the spirit. Shepard seemed genuinely amused that Sebastian has hired the team for that, but when Pharaoh admitted that Hammond had tried, but they balked at the paltry sum of money he quickly deduced that if they weren’t in the sewers hunting ghouls or reclaiming the bodies, they must be looking for the other eye. Getting right to the point, Shepard asked them point blank if they would be willing to negotiate a price for the eye then and there. When told they were representing another party in the matter, Shepard asked if they would be able to convince their employer to speak with him in a location of the employer’s choosing about a price for the eye. As the team didn’t see any issue with that, they agreed to give the message to their employer. Tazer wanted to know about the remains and placating the spirit, and Shepard assured her that he could have some people whom the ghouls might trust more than the team return the bodies.
Leaving the sewer and returning home, the team sent a message to Alpha Blue and gave her the situation. Agreeing that negotiation might be the best bet, she gave the team a local club’s location and said she would meet them there. Acting as the go-between, the team sent the message off to Mr. Shepard then proceeded to get ready for the meet. At the appointed time, the team escorted Alpha Blue into the club (Which was shut down except for them) as Mr. Shepard was seated at a table along with Clean Steve who looked over and smiled. After the introductions, Clean Steve noted they happened to be in a bar without any sort of bartender around, so why not help themselves to some drinks while the two employers discussed their options. Doing his best to keep them away from the discussions at hand, Steve did his best to be a host for the time being, joking around how this whole thing could have been settled days ago while pouring drinks. After about twenty minutes of discussion, Alpha Blue and Mr. Shepard rose from the table and shook hands before Blue walked over to the team. Asking them for the cybereye, Pharaoh handed it over and then deleted all the copies of the data at her request. Handing the eye over to Mr. Shepard, she shook hands with him once again before moving back to the team. Admitting that this wasn’t the resolution that she was looking for, it would probably be for the best. Distributing payment of 35,000 nuyen, she also offered her thanks and said if the team needed a favor, just to give her a call before heading out of the club.
Before the team could depart, Steve stopped the group and let them know that Mr. Shepard would like to speak with them. Shepard was impressed with the team’s restraint against the ghouls as well as their resourcefulness in finding out what happened. If they were interested, could he get some contact information for them if any work comes his way that the team might be able to handle. Finding no problem with that, they agreed but with the understanding that they wouldn’t just accept any job without knowing what it entailed. Finding it agreeable, Mr. Shepard thanked them for their efforts and offered to let them leave first. Finding their way outside, the team piled into the SUV and headed home, leaving this strange job behind with visions of what their larger credit balances could afford.
Dutch awoke with a start as the sound of the ocean waves crashing on the beach. The heat from the sand and alcohol in the little drinks with the umbrellas had lulled the chip designer into an impromptu nap. Checking on his commlink, Multitech had authorized an additional five days while his home was upgraded due to his diligent service. Who knew all it took for a three week vacation in the tropics and a nicer home was to report that some stranger called Neil Scott had contacted him about a chip he designed for Multitech? Signaling the waitress on the beach, the young elven Polynesian woman walked up the beach and said something in the native tongue. Dutch didn’t understand a word of it, but he didn’t care in the slightest. Tapping his empty drink he said “Another one, please?” The elven woman flashed him a smile that would make full VR sims pale in comparison before wandering back, as Dutch relaxed into his beach chair. Who cares if he made a chip that would fail in use, its not like anyone would get hurt.