A foggy summer storm is sweeping Night City on the warm night of June 24th 2020. Purple lightning forks the spires of corporate downtown and the distant invisible horizon where greyblack sea and clouds mingle in a familiar post-pollution coastal sight. The usual bustling boostergang activity at the docklands fell off sharply after the incidents at the beginning of the month, and while the rain dampened violence the names Water Rats, Akaromi, Daedalus, and Bloody Wake still scrape on the Net, in bugged rooms, and round the rumor mill Swingerson keeps her ears tuned to.
Kilometers of NCPD tape seal off the Wharf P47 Small Craft Service Dock from public eye after two bloodbaths in 12 hours: first the gate ambush of the illicit stallion convoy led by a kickboxing merc, second the morning’s unmarked east-asian AV-6 aerial drop massacre of the remaining smugglers aboard the pleasure-yacht-turned-horse-trailer Lollipop 5 tied up in its port. Strangely, no stories hit the screamsheets or newsfeed Data Fortresses linking Daedalus operatives to the alleged Water Rats-affiliated smugglers use of the yacht or their subsequent early deaths.
Recently the news lit up with mentions of Daedalus, however, as they debuted a new line of cosmetic animal (strikingly familiar to our ‘runners) trotted out as the Illumicorn™: a shimmering camouflage/rainbow unicorn with a bioluminescent horn is now a showcase in their Corporate Headquarter’s first floor atrium. You pass them by as you enter the building and can’t help but notice their gleaming heads turn to follow you to the elevator bank.
Macho Vendetta 3000 Run PaPa is scheduled to be boxed up in the ICU after his intensive surgery and therapy for a new full-borg conversion and delivered to the Daedalus tower’s Search and Seizure Dept. floor 84, where Kojo called for a staff meeting, in turn summoned by the sternly venerable CEO herself: Nha Khaller. Each member arrives through the storm in their own way and meet in the southerly conference room and lounge of their new accommodations overlooking much of the Corporate Plaza; its streaming veins of vehicle lights pulse up towards San Morro Bay to the northeast on High Street, and the distant gleaming ribbon through the fog is the W. Gibson Freeway.
With only light clerical business and debriefing to fill the time after the ragtag group of mercs collects themselves, the discussion gives way to a tired pensive and smokey silence as the party looks out over the obscured, rain-soaked city through its massive south facing paneled windows. Shortly before 0100 hours the elevator side doors hiss open, brusque CEO Nha Khaller briskly clacks her steely shoes across the marble to the awaiting table. Without much preface she takes an open chair and sits, fingers laced on the surface in front of her as she begins to speak in indefatigable professionalism at Kojo:
“I have important news for your new division. The board has decided to make Kojo MacKenzie an interim director of the entire Research & Development division of Daedalus. Your Search and Seizure department was originally a subsidiary, however all your current and future projects will now be integrated into the R&D head office. He will have a place on the board and allowed direct influence over the discretionary sniping and salvage operations based on our current high-security Government and PMC contracts’ requirements.” Other than this important news, Nha is tightlipped and secretive about most of the groups inquiries. She does however mention an example of a top secret project nearing completion that may come under Kojo’s purview as interim director. The “Icarus” project: the name causes some derision in her tone but nonetheless her demeanor is as serious as ever. Part of her board meeting was to approve the next stage of testing for the project, which they were given the go ahead for. Abruptly the lights flicker as SCKUG tries to push the issue, twisting the nearly dead cig in his mouth with a grimace.
Suddenly the building status monitors high up on the walls around the Search and Seizure offices light up bright yellow from their deep black slumber. Radar blips ping in crystalline tones as a cluster of dots appear and approach from the upper left.
An urgent, high voice, Vali’s instructions immediately ring out from the interdepartmental comms: ‘6 missile barrage approaching NorthWest AA turrets will attemp—’
Abruptly a shriek of metal rings out and the building begins to shake and sway. SCKUG slips from his seat and cracks his head on the floor, cig flung onto his jacket in a smoldering ember. The lights cease flickering and go out, plunging the crew into darkness save for the purple clouds outside and the small emergency lights lining the base of the walls. A shuddering of compressed air immediately follows and with an unsettling lurch the whole building straightens as if to attention. ‘There was no time! Deployed safety hooks and shell, runners have taken over entryways and security CPU.’ As the chatter fills every speaker and audio implant of the crew, a hail-like rattle grows louder and louder as grey metal shutters begin to race past the windows and exterior walls of Daedalus Tower, engulfing it in armor from flight deck to ground floor.
During all this Nha rose from her place at the table and surefootedly strolled to the north wall intercom to demand more answers from the chief Netrunner. “Vali, are the elevators still up from this side?” she deftly snatches the removable handset from the wall and strides to the northerly doors where everyone entered. After a cursory failed security check the CEO motions to Run PaPa; flexing his massive cyberarms the newly ‘borged Solo steps up to the sliding steel entryway and pries the halves open with a lurch as the metal crumples under the hydraulic grip.
Without pause Nha jogs through the breach and down the dark hallway toward the elevator bank. The rest of the crew hastily file behind, trying to stay within unenhanced sight of their corporate sponsor and potential only way out. It becomes obvious from her radio chatter with Vali that the CEO is very much hoping the elevators will cooperate.
The elevator banks are dim and grim red just like the rest of the emergency lights, its call buttons unresponsive. However, keen eyes among you notice the numbers of the two furthest cars begin to tick up in tandem before Vali’s voice squawks in static bursts from the portable intercom: “.sSh..t.c.c.omi…Elllev…no cont-..” Run PaPa needed no further prompts to sprint into the intersection of the two elevator doors and crouch into hydraulic fist-ramming position just as the telltale
Hulking masses of metallic gorilla and cat launch themselves with violent roars through the opening cracks of the elevator: deadly claw implants extended towards the crouched full ‘borg signature between them. As soon as the confrontation started it was over; Run Papa easily landed a bone & polymer crushing blow to each cyberform, gouging them into the slick tile floor with a shriek as blood and fluid start to spread in rivulets.
His rams resetting with a powerful chunking hiss of air, Run Papa stomps the animals remaining twitching limbs as most of the party gapes in awe at the swift brutality. Swingerson kneels by the miraculously intact neural interface port and discovers the Adrek Robotics origin of this particular model. Nha was busy conferring with Vali about the elevator status, and grimly turns to Kojo:
“There’s no other way, Vali confirmed the elevators have been disabled manually. We’re taking the stairs to the roof for an air extraction”
1.2: Stairwell to Heaven
Shuffled into the stairwell, everyone sees even less visible light spectrum with the heavy hydraulic-assisted door sealing you in the hair-raising static air of the core of Daedalus Tower. Up on the opposite landing is a red emergency light over some piping and fire equipment and on yours just the dimly illuminated door. In the center is a strange, loudly buzzing, spine-tingling metallic black column of surging powers beyond your imagination which engulfs most of the tight airspace created in the stairwell.
Caused by either the missile barrage, the strange air in this stuffy place as a result of the column, or some as-yet-unknown malady your Medtech the good Doc Kegalz’ eyes roll into the back of her head and she crumples to the metal-plated landing.
Unnoticed for a few moments, Run PaPa’s mindfulness practice from therapy kicks in and he suddenly sees the practicality in dragging her up the stairs by the back of her suit, becoming the de facto pointman of this motley crew. On floor 85 he calls out the disturbing sight emanating from the corresponding doors: an android arm outstretched from the center of the sealed bulkheads.
The twisted claw of a hand grabs everyone’s attention as they reach the tiled landing, but Nha nudges them on with a dismissive tone: “Just another upper-level Daedalus division floor, no one here for us to rescue. We’d best not linger” Nevertheless she casts a sidelong glance at the frozen limb as she steps slowly behind Run PaPa.
The giant ‘borg continues up the stairs with measured heavy clunks, careful not to trample Doc Kegalz underfoot. However, when he reaches the northern side of floor 86’s landing he triggers a floor trap sending arcs of electricity through his MetalGear and exoskeleton. Sparking and smoking, Run PaPa grunts and trudges his way through the trapped tiles, slinging the Doctor ahead of him he staggers towards the sealed door on this floor. The jolts finally stop, although the kill counter on the ‘borg’s chest is still flickering with irregular power.
The Doc twitches a bit, lying there on the untrapped tiles she seems even less likely to wake now. Swingerson and Kojo go about investigating the trap mechanism with Nha offering vague recollections of her briefing on the stairwell security measures. “The trigger seems to be in the center of each floor tile with a battery cell on the underside,” Kojo relays after a careful perusal with his goggles.
SCKUG, still shaken from his headlong fall during the missile barrage, nervously fumbles with his FN-RAL in the oppressive stuffy darkness when it slips out of his sweaty hands and tips on to the electrified landing. The delicate sensors and optics of the specially-chipped-for chinese variant rifle immediately leap into flame and short until it lies seemingly inert and smoking half-off the landing. Kojo and Run PaPa are able to land their hits and disable the panels closest to the stairs and allow for the party to pass through.
Forlornly SCKUG collects his scorched rifle and checks to make sure no rounds jammed in the chamber. Swingerson offers to lend her expertise to the blackened hunk of steel and strips the electronics, making it usable again but without the reliability he’d come to expect. With Run PaPa still dazed from taking a potentially deadly amount of electricity SCKUG cautiously begins to lead the party up the stairs. As he makes his way to the top of the stairwell (the mysterious column continuing on through the now-apparent ceiling) his MetalGear boots begin to splash in small puddles as rivulets of rainwater are slowly making their way down the way you came. Howling stormwinds grow louder and the air pressure begins to change drastically.
As the party crowds the top floor landing and cautiously look out into the rooftop cargo-bay you see far more chaos than just an open-topped skyscraper in an apocalyptic storm would suggest.