Twice now (1, 2) had Snips and her friends tried to rescue the techies in the lakeside company. And the second time around, she had lost the Ronin Metal. Metal’s fiancée, Martine Eloise, had followed him to Nocte Urbi. The talented hacker was worried about her man, since her brother Smart Alec had already fallen while working with Snips. She wanted to support Metal, if at all possible … but she only came in time to see his body and collect his meager possessions.
Suffice to say, she did not get along as well with Snips as the men had done – but she was interested to see for herself who had killed Metal, and she was interested in payback. So like her brother and her fiancé, she signed up.
The job was, by this time, on the clock. The company insisted on completion, or it would collect a percentage of the loot for every trip back home, which Snips could understand. And it insisted on extermination of the frogmen, which Snips did not like – but in light of past experiences she expected that it would develop that way anyhow.
Every day lost from now on would reduce the chance of survival for the techies, ten days from now they would be gone. And it was not even sure they were still human. The frog commandos were a pretty clear indicator that normal company personnel like security (or: techies) could mutate like test subjects did. If it even were test subjects. So time was of the essence.
Lucky for Snips, an old and experienced friend was back in town: Wispa. She and Bruno were back in the club and also signed up with the next attempt. Wyndham healed up some of the wounds Snips had suffered, and off they went, the old team plus Wispa and Bruno, with Wispa’s dogs Betty and Alfred, and with Martine Eloise in tow. Metal’s retainer Kendal agreed to join Snips’ team. There was no time to hire more, but they were a good lot of guns already.
Again, frog-men were patrolling the roof, and again, the team came at the building from the reasonably well-concealed south flank, pointing out to Wispa, Bruno, and Martine what was important to know about the site and its dangerous occupants.
This time, they had a team of four cyber-people to attempt a hack into the security system: Wyndham and Royston, as before, but also Martine Eloise and Randal. However, Randal was busy setting up the auto-shotgun as a defense measure, so they went in with three for a start.
Attacking the outer security, the auto-defense took out Wyndham’s and Royston’s avatars, and only Martine Eloise remained active. She uncovered five terminals: Lab, Security, Generator, Office, and “Spawning Lab”.
Spawning Lab sounded most interesting. Martine Eloise entered the node and encountered a deadly piece of cyber defense: A Devil Dog program, one of the very few tools that don’t only destroy the hacker’s avatar, but also attempt to overheat his brain to kill. (Hello, Cyberpunk!)
Martine Eloise jacked out at once, but the Devil Dog won init and managed to attack her avatar, weakening it, and hurting her outside in Meatspace. Martine Eloise was lucky that the dog only scratched her, rolling minimum damage. She survived to report what happened, but with barely any HP to show for, so she was very mindful of future risks.
Snips and Adelard climbed up to the roof, shielded from the guards by the south tower, and pulled up the rest of the crew to watch and time the patrol cycles and plan the next moves. The cyber-crew attempted a second hacking. The main security was still down. This time they steered well away from the Spawning Lab node.
Under “Security”, they found no protection, but an option to switch off the laser grid at the front entrance. They decided to leave that up. They went back out and into the “Office” node, where they found another laser grid protecting the office entrance. Active. After some debate, they left it running for now, but noted it… it might be what protected the techies from the frogs … or not. They also found a folder full of data, which they saved to their cyberdecks.
Then they went into the lab node, where they encountered five “progressive sentry” programs… and where they were followed. The Devil Dog Security came in right behind them!
“Jack out!” called Martine Eloise, feeling the breath of the Grim Reaper in her neck, and proceeded to do so. Wyndham and Royston pondered fighting the program, but as Martine Eloise and Randal dropped their connections, they followed and left the guard program all alone on the server. New intel: The Devil Dog program roams free in the system! Probably sniffed out new hacking attempts and followed the trail.
Next they moved to attack the tower in Meatspace: Randal quickly set up the auto-gun on the roof, and was spotted. Four frogs came out of the tower, five from the lookout north – and found that he was not alone. During the battle, the four were quickly slain – two by the auto-gun, which delivered a series of misses last time, but now took down almost one frog every round. Adelard, Bruno, and Alfred the dog aided Snips in melee, while the auto-shotgun sprayed at the northern group, until it broke off and fled down into the courtyard.
The way into the tower free, Snips and Randal stormed in… and found themselves alone with 16 frogs!
The boss, three commandos, and 12 normals.
Snips and Randal concentrated on the boss from the start, and luck was with them: Two combat rounds long they slowly fell back out of the tower to use the door as a bottle neck, and were only very lightly wounded when most of a dozen melee attacks missed, and some only grazed them. This whole battle could have gone a whole lot different, and could have resulted in massive losses.. but the dice rolled in our favour.
And then Adelared, himself wounded, gave the heavily wounded boss the final shot to fell him.
The frog-battalion broke morale and fled down the stairs. Other frogs who came from the north tower hid from auto-fire laid down by Martine Eloise, Wispa and Kendal in the western section.
The team had won the tower and quickly secured it, collecting a good lot of loot, which Kendal transported out to the shore right away. Snips and the auto-gun were positioned on the watchtower and executed the fresh set of mutated guard dogs that dragged their weirdly misshapen carcasses around in the courtyard.
The hackers used the active computer terminal in the tower as an entry point and tried a third hacking attempt. They went into the lab area. Four strong, they reduced the progressive sentries to bytes quickly and inspected the lab. Nothing too useful. Then they checked the Generator node and found options to switch off power in various parts of the building. They did that, to deny the frogs any electricity-powered traps. And they saw that the compound had a basement, which had to be completely flooded by now, or maybe all the time. It held storage and the spawning lab. In the office node they deactivated the laser grid to the office entrance (guessing that it could be right there down the stairs), when suddenly the Devil Dog program showed up.
Again, Martine Eloise jacked out, but Wyndham and Royston dared a little fight. They quickly found that the Devil Dog has two attacks per round, and is highly resistant to attacks. Luckily, the Devil Dog missed half its attacks. And yet, they both suffered noticeable wounds in Meatspace when their avatars were shredded, and had smoke drifting out of their ears when they woke up to the world. No more hacking for now, as the Devil Dog would easily kill any of the weaker hackers, and even the strong hackers were a bit winded now.
Then the group sneaked down to the flooded ground floor of the tower. (Except Martine Eloise, Adelard, and Kendal, who stayed as lookout to support Snips in the watchtower – so actually going down were Randal, Wyndham, Singapore, Royston, Bruno, Wispa and the dogs Betty and Alfred, as well as the bot Costa) They saw two exits and one probably valuable artsy logo on the wall, and an entrance under water into the basement. The whole floor was covered with water up to knee-hight, like outside on the ground. No sign of any of the frogs who had run.
.. and here the session ended … until next time.
With no fatalities on our side.
Snips 1 – Fighting Dogs
Snips 2 – Fighting Robots
Snips 3 – Fighting Swordsmen
Snips 4 – Fighting Kids
Snips 5 – Fighting Dreadnoughts
Snips 6 –
Fighting Running from the Boss
Snips 7 – Fighting Cops
Snips 8 – Fighting in the Pharmacy
Snips 9 – Fighting Cats
Snips 10 – Fighting Lions
Snips 11 – Fighting Code
Snips 12 – Fighting Chaos
Snips 13 – Fighting Words
Snips 14 – Fighting Mechas
Snips 15 – Fighting in Cubicles
Snips 16 – Fighting Fire
Snips 17 – Fighting Frogmen
Image: Alexas Fotos, Unsplash