Losing Hand

After being briefly confronted by a curious neighbor, Mr. M and Paladin fled Cho’s apartment and left the complex via the apartments’ enclosed fire escape, triggering the door-alarm as they exited before security forces could arrive. They didn’t get far before being contacted by the other DXM members, and directed to meet up on the street the BTL-dealer they found in the club had identified as Ghoul’s turf; the others were already en route.


The light drizzle turned to rain as the Team reunited, to compare notes. They set about scouring the indicated street for possible criminal headquarters, and found a likely spot: a dark, narrow alley spanned by a fence-gate, guarded by a gruff-looking ork smoking a cigarette. There appeared to be a courtyard beyond. Ditch volunteered to scout the site from the rooftops, and Paladin offered to go along.

The two found a good spot to ascend a short way down the block, a rain-slicked fire escape to an adjoining building. They scaled up, and made their way to the alley. Ditch, being the more-skilled at this sort of thing, was in the lead. As they approached their intended, initial vantage point, Paladin slipped up and put his knee through a weak spot in the roofing; as far as Ditch could tell, the misstep had attracted no attention, so they continued the operation. In position, they observed the ork, and a pair of female “entertainment” in front of a warehouse back-entrance, chatting; the guard was armed with a submachine gun, laying atop an oil-drum—clearly not expecting trouble. As Ditch and Paladin quietly relayed the intel, the other Team members spotted two thug-types forcibly leading a third up to the gate, flipping up a hidden wall-panel to press a buzzer; Ditch and Paladin observed the ork react to the buzzer and approach the gate. The new thugs were greeted in a friendly manner, and allowed to enter with their charge, who was seated on a crate in the courtyard before being led inside a beat later.

As Ditch and Paladin continued to observe, Ivory, Bookworm and Mr. M approached the gate and pressed the buzzer. The ork-guard approached the gate again and challenged the strangers; Ivory stated that she and her “bodyguards” were here to see Ghoul, but would not divulge the nature of her business with him to “the help.” The guard grudgingly let them through, and took them into the warehouse.


Inside the warehouse, they found the two thugs from before, flanking the third guy, standing before what appeared to be their boss —presumably, Ghoul— a somewhat-pale, Oriental fellow with a traditional “Fu-Manchu” beard. They watched as the third man pleaded for mercy, but it was not granted; at Ghoul’s nod, the two thugs restrained him, holding his right hand forward as Ghoul unceremoniously sawed off his pinky with a knife. After the initial screaming had passed, Ghoul held up the severed digit before “Mr. Fail,” saying, “Let this serve as a reminder to you that I do not accept failure.” He then put the bloody end to his lips, and sucked it like it was candy, before casting it aside. Ivory managed to choke back her disgust at the display. With a wave of dismissal, Mr. Fail was half-carried back out the way they came, where Ditch and Paladin observed his release.


Ghoul then turned his attention to Ivory and her bodyguards, inquiring about their business with him, and confirming that they had indeed found their man. Ivory assumed her “Southern Belle” persona, Anne Benoit, and claimed to be looking to distribute high-grade BTL in the Confederation, and was exclusively interested in this new “Cecilia” thing she’s heard about. Deceptively, perhaps, though there was no outward indication, Ghoul seemed to be genuinely interested in the opportunity, and how this out-of-towner came to know of Cecilia. He insisted on knowing who Ivory was working for; she responded in kind, offering to trade revelations. Amused, Ghoul invited her into his nearby office.

Meanwhile, at the rooftops, Ditch and Paladin began to creep their way over to a skylight atop the warehouse building. Once again, the rain-slicked masonry betrayed Paladin while scaling down, and he fell with an audible thud. Concerned about the possibility of detection, Ditch decided to see if the courtyard occupants had reacted to the sound; as he peeked over the roof’s edge, he locked eyes with one of the guards who just so happened to be looking in that direction at that moment—probably only saw the pale glow of his eyes in the shadow. Ditch simply slipped back out of sight, but the thug yelled after whoever-it-was on the roof to show himself. There was no reply. Ditch quietly announced over the commlink that, “We’ve been made”—which Ivory could hear on her comm implant—before he and Paladin continued creeping forward, intent on not being where the thugs had spotted him.

Bookworm and Mr. M followed Ivory and Ghoul into the office, where he offered them some warm sake before continuing the conversation with Ivory. On the spot, Ivory offered as her employer the “Ditched Paladins,” a well-known street gang in the South. In kind, Ghoul strongly hinted that he belonged to the Yakuza—confirming what they already suspected after the “pinky” incident earlier. The back-and-forth continued, and Ghoul eventually revealed that he had a local production facility for the manufacture of copies of the Cecilia chips. Ivory responded with “feminine wiles,” throwing him off-balance (and probably “her bodyguards” as well), and extracting an offer to give her a tour of the facility; she agreed to let him pick her up tomorrow evening at her hotel (which he didn’t know she hadn’t checked into yet—M would have to fix that).

The lascivious display was interrupted, as one of the thugs from outside came in to inform Ghoul of the roof-sighting. After demanding they get up there and get rid of the pests, he asked Ivory if she knew anything about the roof-lurkers, or if it were a mere coincidence—she innocently claimed coincidence. Ghoul then excused himself, the business at-hand having been for-the-most-part concluded, and politely escorted the three of them back to the courtyard.

Through the skylight, Ditch and Paladin could see the Ground Team leaving, and were about to clear off the roof to the street when they heard the thugs climbing up in that direction; they decided instead to sneak back the way they came up. However, once the thugs reached the roof, they moved fairly quickly; Paladin fell behind Ditch’s expert pace, and had to duck out of the way, keeping to the shadows as the thugs passed him by. Ditch spotted Paladin’s predicament, and made a bit of noise to get the thugs moving his direction, drawing them in before bolting out of the shadows to scramble up the wall to the adjoining higher-level rooftop. The thugs opened fire with pistols; one bullet struck Ditch in the back, not penetrating his armored trenchcoat, and slowing him not at all. The thugs continued to pursue, one boosting the other up the ten-foot rise; as the thug on top pulled his head and arm over the lip of the roof, his face was met with the rainy, cold barrel of a shortened combat shotgun, and behind that, a glowing pair of eyes in the shadow. A voice colder than the gun-barrel chastised him, saying, “You don’t know what you’re fuckin’ with”—at which point, the thug lost all interest in continued pursuit, much to the confusion of his partner below, still boosting him up.

Below, Ivory, Bookworm and Mr. M were being let out of the gate, when everyone there heard gunfire from above—the Ground Team figured the Roof Team could handle themselves, or they would’ve commed for help, so they joked with their new comrades about the “rats around here” before heading to their waiting transportation. They were met a few minutes later by Ditch and Paladin, who had made good their respective escapes, and they all left to look into their other lead, the nightclub, Synapse, where they hoped to find John Cho.


Synapse lacked the usual line of potential entrants that one would normally expect at this time of night, presumably due to the need to stand in the rain. The doorman was a heavily-muscled man who was clearly disinterested in his job; he didn’t bother with more than a look-over for weapons before letting the Team through the door.

It didn’t take long for them to spot John Cho lounging in the glass-fronted VIP enclosure, and they seated themselves at a nearby lounge area within line-of-sight of the VIP room. Cho looked as he did in the tagged image that Mr. M found on his social media profile, not in the company dossier, and he was accompanied by some “female entertainment”—looking like quite the high-roller.

Some time later, the Team observed a new arrival at the club entrance—Ghoul, accompanied by a single bodyguard. He did not spot Ivory, but went straight to the VIP room, where he was greeted by Cho as an old friend and ushered in. A beat later, an attractive woman looking less than alert—drugged, or drunk, perhaps?—was brought to the VIP room by a couple of burly fellows; Cho’s body language and Ghoul’s reaction (in lieu of being able to hear what was said) seemed to suggest the girl was a “gift” to Ghoul. The Yakuza middleman sniffed the girl up and down for bit, before appearing to sink his teeth into her neck, confirming the Team’s suspicions from earlier—undoubtedly, Ghoul was a vampire (raising Paladin’s ire, as he possessed a long-standing, unquenchable hatred of them). The “gift” was allowed to slump to the table, and Ghoul and Cho continued their business. Cho presented Ghoul with a BTL chip—the team assumed this to be a new build of the Cecilia program, indicating that he was still working on it—along with a sensie player; Ghoul jacked in for a bit, and seemed approving after unplugging. Cho put the chip in a carry case that contained several more, which Ghoul slipped into his jacket pocket.

As the scene in the VIP played out, the Team discussed how to proceed. They needed to find out what name Cho might be using to find more information about his recent activities, so Mr. M took the initiative by going over to the bar and bumping into a waitress (that had been serving the VIP room) on the way. After a duel-of-apologies, M asked who it was in the VIP, so that he could buy him a drink to replace the one he had spilled; the waitress revealed his name as Tanaka Saiko, the club’s owner. Bookworm recognized the surname as one commonly associated with the Seattle Yakuza. Now the pieces of the puzzle seemed to fit together: “John Cho” was a Yakuza agent inserted into the company specifically to steal their work; after it was stolen, the “Cho” identity was no longer needed. Of course, this meant that in order to accomplish the mission—recover the data and return Cho to the company—would require crossing the Yakuza. On the Team’s behalf, Bookworm called Claudia to inform her of their revelation; she acknowledged the tricky situation, and responded with a challenge: to choose a side. From that point, the Team’s discussion took on a new focus, that is, how to accomplish the letter of their mission without pissing off the Yakuza—not an easy task. Any way, their only play was to ambush one or both of Ghoul and Cho…Tanaka as they left the club.

Some time later, Ghoul and his bodyguard left the VIP and headed toward the club’s entrance. With no time to consider, Ivory caught up to Ghoul at the door and bumped into him, playing at being drunk, while picking his pocket; she managed to come up with the chip-case without being noticed. Ghoul pretended he wasn’t suspicious of this second “coincidence,” and promised to see her again at the agreed-upon time.

The rest of DXM was a short distance behind, Ditch being the first out the door. He watched Ghoul and his bodyguard cross the street and enter their vehicle. He relayed the make-and-model to the others, and hasted to his bike to follow.


  • Paladin’s player had a particularly bad night with the dice, especially when it came to the sneaking about; Paladin isn’t as skilled as Ditch in that regard, but not that much
  • The GM didn’t have any nationally-known gangs headquartered in the South in mind, so he left it to Ivory’s player to come up with a name: she offered the Ditched Paladins, the inspiration for which should be pretty obvious
  • I was having a hard time not having Ditch kill the thugs at the warehouse, but I didn’t want to spoil Ivory’s cover. After the fact, I realized that his having his face seen by them, though obscured by the darkness, might be an issue later—so he probably should have killed them
  • Ivory got damned lucky picking Ghoul’s pocket; she only has an 11, and the case was in an inside pocket
  • Due to the circumstances at home at the time, the GM had nothing pressing going on, so we ended up playing extra late, hence the length, here. In spite of the extra time, though, the “investigatory” goings-on still tended to drag on, as usual; we’re working on a solution to that