Seattle Side Mission 18: The Gifter – Part 2

Written by: Marius           Played on: 09 Nov 2013
PREVIOUS: Side Mission 18: The Gifter – Part 1
NEXT: Side Mission 19: Memories Past (Part 5)

We find a dead vagrant in Abby’s apartment in SF, along with a number of pieces of paper spilling out of her purse in the bedroom. The largest piece of paper contains a report of some kind, while the others, over a dozen small, folded index cards, contain a series of names and addresses, along with a single word written below each of them. The entry reads:

I was in Japan Town, taking the train when I noticed a panhandler at the station. There was little about him that made him stand out, except that as a very fat woman passed by, I overheard him grumble aloud, “Pig.”

I felt this was a very strange tactic to insult them and still expect money, so I stayed to observe. Several other individuals walked by and he named a creature for each, so I followed the last, whom he had called, “Sheep.”

I followed him to his place of business, a meat market, which I have recorded on the designated card along with his name, which I got from his employer by complaining of ill prepared beef.

I returned to the station to observe the man further, following several other individuals to their homes. I recorded their names, obtained from neighbors or apartment directories, and addresses along with the word the man described them as.

The first, a delivery boy he called “Chicken”, which I felt fitting as the boy was lanky, skin and bones. The second, a construction worker he called “Cow”, though the man was not fat I concluded that perhaps he meant lazy, which he demonstrated at the construction site. Late in the evening I followed the third, a tall businessman he called “Human”; an observation I could not argue with.

The next day I arrived early to observe the man, trying to learn his pattern. A few minutes went by before a fat man who worked at a nearby convenience store passed and the homeless man said, “Potato”. This seemed strange as, until now, he had always named creatures.

That day I followed a woman to the school whom he called “Rabbit”, a model he called “Onion” and a boutique store owner he called “Tomato”.

A hypothesis formed. Perhaps this man had some sort of innate awakened power, a guiding spirit, or perhaps even some semblance of psychic ability. I wonder where in the body such an ability begins to manifest? In Japan, many people believe in reincarnation as many things. Perhaps he knows, or thinks he knows, what these people were in a previous life.

I began to think my theory was correct as the next day I observed him calling people many things. A child he called “Corn”, a bus driver he called “Fish” and a recently fired woman he called “Duck.”

After the fourth day, I considered my observations concluded and I approached the man to verify my hypothesis. I have so many other things to investigate.

As I walked up to him, he looked up at me and said, “Bread”. I tossed a spare cred into his cup and asked him if he had some kind of psychic ability.

The homeless man smiled that peculiar way those who are not all there tend to do and said, “Yes, indeed. I do have a psychic ability I obtained years ago, but not what you might expect. I can’t tell the future or read minds or anything like that. My ability is merely to know the last thing somebody ate.”

I had to laugh, a sound that disturbed him more than pleased him, I detected. He was correct, the last thing I had eaten for the day was toast at breakfast.

Perhaps there was something to this man’s psychic abilities after all, though of all the abilities one could have, that must be the most useless. Still, it warrants investigation. I think I shall start with the brain.

It seems to be the musings of someone Abby interviewed, who claimed to be able to tell you what the last thing a person ate was. One thing jumped out; there was a man who had last eaten ‘Human’. It had an address for where the man had followed the cannibal to. As things had tended to go lately, that was when the Police showed up.

Our Lone Star contact is able to delay the two squad cars worth of guys coming in with rifles drawn, giving us time to bail. We have to jump out a window to make good our escape. The team decides that we are being watched, clearly, and need to expect ambush.

We head to the house of Francis Arnold, it’s on the eastern edges of SF. This is the man that allegedly eats humans. The houses are well spaced, but run down. The street lights are burned out. This house has a few dim lights. We don full combat armor and search the house, finding nothing on the first two floors… but there is a basement. We have to carry candles due to the complete darkness. The basement has stone walls, and seems crypt-like. It does not match the rest of the home.

There is some type of magical confusion field, we realize too late. A figure appears in front of me and slams into my body. I scream and stab at it with a candle. Jade hits it hard and yells, “Bite the curb Casper!” Seconds later she flees into the night, as though terrified. At this point, I make the connection that this is a Spirit of Man. I avoid a second grab and make a return hit. Wheeler discharges his pistol into the spirit, dissipating it on the spot. We hear loud scratching and growling from the other side of the walls.

“Fuck me, this is-” Wheeler is interrupted by two ghouls bursting forth from a doorway. One lunges for Wheeler and I light him up with three rounds before the candle I dropped hits the floor.

Upstairs, Cho gets off a warning as she is drugged by LEVI (fucking Levi right?! I did not know it was him at the time) and passes out as she shoots him with both barrels. I sprint upstairs to her aid, leaving Wheeler to hold the bag with the two ghouls. As I grab the railing I see Wheeler drop his pistol and swing his rifle up, dropping both ghouls with a single sweeping burst. I knew he could handle it, he will be up these stairs after me any second.

As I make the top of the stairs, I hear an odd whispering. Voices from somewhere. Coming through the door, I am slashed with a vibroblade. I unload a full auto burst of APDS rounds at point blank range. The blades fall, the humming stops, blood flies everywhere. Chunks of flesh and muscle fall to the ground. The whispers cease.

The shoe drops. It’s been Levi, who betrayed them in Denver, that has been playing with them. The final fight ended up being a bit anti-climactic, in hind-sight I think he probably should have run after Cho grievously wounded him to fight again another day.

In any event, he dropped the whispering blades mentioned occasionally throughout the session. A custom set of AI augmented and completely psychotic hunting knives. I particularly liked the cringe-worthy name for these. knives. The stat sheet can be had here.

Pausing only momentarily to examine Cho, I see she is passed out but in no immediate danger of death, at least not by anything I could fix. “Fuck me, Marius this is bad.” Wheeler says over comms. I can hear fully automatic bursts through the floor. Leaving Cho’s unconscious body on the porch, I sprint back to the basement. Pausing at the top of the stairs I see two ghouls and a hellhound coming up. I deflect both of the ghouls using their momentum against them. The hellhound shoots a blast of fire at me. I am a little singed, but fire back with a full auto selection of APDS. The beast collapses in the middle of the stairs.

I shove one of the ghouls back with my rifle and turn it on him, shredding the creature. I see Jade cleave the second one deep, but he remains standing. She must have shaken off the Spirit of Man’s spell and returned. I leave Jade to her task. Downstairs I find another spirit. I empty my mag and reload. The confusion is gone and the basement seems to be a normal room now. Wheeler must have taken out whatever mage was confounding our senses down here before, but he’s nowhere to be seen.

Jade and I enter the next room. It is stone, just like the last room. There are piles of straw, and old mattresses. There are cages with half eaten corpses and skeletons in them. There are candles all around. In the middle is a long, traditional coffin, lined with red velvet. On a pedestal on the far side of the room is a vampire, his face glistening with blood. He dissipates, materialising on the other side of the room. I have barely adjusted my vision to his new location by the time he is split in twain with Jade’s axe.

Wheeler is on the pedestal, he has a bite mark on his neck. Jade and I carry him upstairs. I pull out my medkit and ask the AI to examine him. It does and recommends some first aid treatments for the superficial wounds, but recommends a full service medical facility to ensure there are no infections at the bite location.

We meet Pilot and he flies us back to Seattle where we take shifts watching over Wheeler. We call Doc Tico on the flight and pay him to come out and take care of Wheeler. Wheeler’s exposure to the HMHVV means there is little the doctor can do for him, but he is able to dull the pain and keep Wheeler comfortable. Over the next three days, Wheeler’s body rejects all of his cyberware, regenerating new tissues to replace what was lost in combat years ago, or replaced out of a desire for self improvement. Within the week, Wheeler is back to ‘normal’.

His only modification… An unquenchable thirst for human blood.

This was a somewhat unexpected, but exciting twist. Though I was introducing a vampire and read up on the rules just in case, I did not actually expect that I would be able to isolate and incapacitate any of the characters long enough to take advantage of it. Wheeler, however, was particularly vulnerable with his low essence value.

Becoming a vampire has a number of strong benefits, but also comes with a lot of weaknesses and trade offs. Most notably, the complete, extremely painful expulsion of all the victim’s cyberwear (below Deltaware) from their body. Given how heavily cybered Wheeler was, this represented a significant loss of investment. The player was a peach though and rolled with it and embraced the new and unexpected character direction. I also worked with him to sell off his old cyberware second hand which at least returned some of his spent cash.

PREVIOUS: Side Mission 18: The Gifter – Part 1
NEXT: Side Mission 19: Memories Past (Part 5)

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