It’s culture clash when an Alliance law enforcement agent comes looking for Ryan.
Cole Turner is a Bounty Hunter with a badge, an officer in the Alliance’s Fugitive Detection Services. He’d been tracking Ryan Williams, callsign Vertigo, an AWOL combat pilot with a sketchy record who was wanted for retrieval and questioning. His leads brought him to Nexus Gate, where he’d learned that Williams was traveling with a strange group of companions, most notable among them was Otto Murinn, the Icon Syndicate mobster.
Williams had split off from the rest of the group, but to where he was traveling and upon what ship was information that seemed to be missing from the station records. Murinn and company quickly became Turner’s only lead.
In New Starlight City, on Rakhan Prime, Otto, Shaun, and Gabriel are separated from Reeva who leaves to get his ship and is side tracked by the vendors. Reeva acts like a typical tourist and begins to experience all the things that are available for travelers. He makes himself an easy target and is soon the target of an assassination attempt. Otto also notices a sketchy character who tries to run away when he sees Otto. Otto hunts down the man and discovers that he was blackmailed into giving up information on Otto because a man, Hwar Do, had kidnapped his family and threatened him. Otto, having connections to the security in the starport, finds out of the attempt on Reeva’s life, not long after Shaun watched the event happen over the security cameras. Otto and company investigate the assassination attempt on Reeva while the young man recovers from his near death experience, and cries a little in his ship. They enhance pictures of Hwar Do and one of his accomplices. But it is the third assailant that seems the most elusive.
They discover that the third shot was fired by way of a drone, robotic arm connected into a local SysNet terminal. After hours upon hours of pouring over station security footage, they finally catch a break. A pudgy, youngish man made his way from the SysNet terminal, through the busy food court, down the access stairway, and out through the maintenance doors which lead to the spaceport’s exterior hangars and repair facilities. While they can’t find him, they do have a blurry picture and a good description to feed out to regional law enforcement throughout the Northern Continent.
Otto heads back to the security room and checks in with the man who had given Hwar Do information about his whereabouts. After some interrogation, which involved both physical and psychological coercion. In short order, Otto has the man at a greater disadvantage as he has had his family sent for. His Wife and young daughter are brought before Otto and are used as tools in his interrogation. Quickly it is revealed that this man knows nothing and was simply unfortunate enough to be played between two ruthless men, Otto and Hwar Do. Shaun convinces Otto that he should place the family in protective custody, and wait for Hwar Do to make contact with them. Seeing a chance at getting his son back, the man explains that Hwar Do is keeping him hostage, just in case of a situation like this. That if he gives up Hwar Do, he will kill his son. Otto blankly looks at the man and says his son is already dead then, and he may well lose his daughter by the end of the day if he doesn’t shut up.
Meanwhile, Turner had found passage into Coalition Space and made contact with Securitech, who agree to assist him and meet him at Hightower Spaceport. Securitech operatives in the Syndicate controlled New Starlight region begin watching Otto, his companions, and reporting on their activities. When the call to identify the blurry hacker goes out region wide, Securitech has a hit in their database.
Cole Turner makes his move and attempts to make contact, however a distrusting Shaun is resistant to the idea. Gabriel – recognized by Securitech as a former freelancer with whom the corporation has maintained a good relationship – is the focus of another attempt. Gabriel negotiates a meeting to swap information, but it has to go down in a known Syndicate stronghold. A meeting is set to occur six hours later, at T.T. Bar’s Nippleopolis.
Otto and company have set up shop at the strip club and are taking it easy, waiting for Hwar Do or his accomplices to make another attempt. Shaun has stayed outside in the Syndicate armored transport, and is watching everything from the terminal cameras. Gabriel has taken to the young girl and is playing games with her, making her laugh and smile, oddly Gabriel seems to enjoy the company of the girl. Gabriel on the other hand just makes the girl’s parents uncomfortable, because he looks more like a predator stalking prey than a man playing games with a girl.
The meeting is happening. Cole with two armed and professional looking Securitech security agents step into the club. Immediately Gabriel recognizes the two as Securitech Soldat guards. In fact he had worked with them on other jobs. Cole, remains calm and collected despite his clear disadvantage. Otto sits at a table with Gabriel at his back, the family remains silent and make themselves as invisible as possible in fear of what might be happening here. The bartender offers drinks to Cole and his men, while letting it slip that he has quite a rifle behind the counter.
Sensing the danger and type of people he is dealing with, Cole cuts to the point of the meeting. He explains that he is law enforcement and is being assisted by Securitech in his goals. He has what we are looking for, a full profile on the pudgy little hacker that tried to shoot at Reeva. In return, he would like our assistance with his goal, the location of Ryan “Vertigo” Williams, The (Butcher of Bakersfield, I don’t recall his infamous name). Since Otto is one of the last known people with him, Cole thinks he should help out.
Otto says he cares little for Ryan, what he’s done, or even if he’s wanted. What he is interested in though, is the profile of the man who might be associated with a man who tried to do him harm, and he would like that folder now.
Cole tries to keep his advantages and insists that there be a trade of some information on Ryan first. Not liking where this negotiation is going, since Cole is still trying to maintain any kind of advantage in his weak position, Gabriel changes the playing field. With a quick bit of playful distraction, and a pat on the back to one of the Securitech goons, Gabriel is now in possession of both of their sidearms. With a wink and a smile, he lets Shaun know that things just got dangerous.
Shaun asks Otto, over the comm link, to ask Gabriel what he just did. Gabriel happily reveals that he is now the proud owner of both the embarrassed soldat’s sidearms, as well as his standard compliment of assault weaponry, ready to fire at a moments notice. Otto takes the opening and insists that Cole give him what he wants right now and without trade, as it is now obvious the danger he is in by not doing as he is told. Shaun reminds Otto that if Cole again tries to keep any sort of strong stance or remain in control, that we can just take him in the basement and interrogate him until we get what we require. After all in this region, the Syndicate is the law, and Otto, as a made man is legally judge, jury and executioner of the state. Reluctantly Cole gives up his only bargaining chip for free and agrees to assist in the location of the hacker in trade for some information on Ryan.
Gabriel sends the two useless, embarrassed Securitech goons packing, as Otto arranges ground transportation to a small neighborhood of CanApts in zone 7.
As for the family inside, they had remained so still, so quiet, so invisible, that Otto had forgotten them until Shaun radios in reminding him that they are left alone and vulnerable. Otto calls back the club, speaks with the bartender and tells him to take care of the family, but to please save the little girls smile for Gabriel; he did like her smile so much. Otto ends the call safe and secure that once his boys take care of the family, not Hwar Do, not anybody will ever hurt them or use them against him ever again.
Zone 7 CanApts: the investigation begins. Otto, Gabriel and Cole head up to the designated apartment and knock, Shaun watches the whole thing from the streetlight security cameras. An old woman’s voice yells from behind the door, “I ain’t interested, whatever you’re sellin’ I ain’t buyin’” Otto is more forceful with his words and tries to bully his way through the door. Cole seeing the total lack of tact or professionalism, let alone authority, steps in and begins the negotiation. He informs the woman that her son is wanted for questioning concerning certain computer related crimes and illegal sysnet usage. He further informs her that her son may well be in danger as some of the other men involved with the incident are armed and highly dangerous. He explains that they do not want to hurt them, he is only trying to help, and their cooperation will make it easier for him to help them.
Gabriel, always ready for danger, hears a noise in the basement; the kid is trying to flee. Otto slaps the woman hard in the face, sending her backwards into her apartment, giving Gabriel room to run inside. The woman is barely able to recover before Gabriel kicks the woman in the jaw, knocking her cold as he yells “you signaled him, you helped him to escape”.
Cole is taken aback by the whole scene and cannot abide the violence on civilians who were attempting to comply with the investigation. Cole makes a sly attempt to trip Gabriel as he readies his weapons and runs down the stairs. Gabriel never misses a beat and avoids the trip. Otto calls out for Gabriel to take the man alive, as Gabriel rushes out a back door and into the yard. Cole attempts to keep pace and comes up fast on Gabriel who he sees drop to one knee and take steady aim. Three shots ring out from an automatic rifle and one sad, pained, chubby little hacker lies flat in shock from the loss of at least one of his feet.
Cole draws his sidearm, levels it at the back of Gabriel’s head and momentarily contemplates murder. It seems the association with these people, as well as the disadvantageous position he is in, is causing Cole to get a bit desperate and consider actions he would normally not think of. The tactical helmet and relatively heavy armor Gabriel is wearing gives Cole pause, he thinks, Gabriel is a soldat. Being a soldat means he has an owner, or has escaped his protocols. Either way, Cole figures, Gabriel is not responsible for his actions he takes orders and he is bred to do what he is told. The person giving Gabriel his orders is responsible for what he did, that person is Otto.
Having lost himself in thought momentarily, Cole is jarred back to reality by the screaming Hacker who is being dragged inside by Gabriel. Cole intercepts Gabriel and tends to the wounds of the hacker, bandaging his stump. He tries to regain some order in the situation and is quickly overruled as Otto interrogates the man. Shaun instructs Otto how to connect the hackers computer to the sysnet and Shaun gets to work. With little effort Shaun digs up some records regarding Securitech and how this chubby mess thinks they had a hand in what happened with Harcourt and Loughlund, or at least they were trying to capitalize on it. Shaun copies the files and finds little else, so he destroys the whole computer.
A shot is fired and glass upstairs breaks. Otto and Cole head upstairs to investigate, while Gabriel rushes outside to confront the shooter. The old woman is found dead, a solid slug had been fired, as opposed to the typical energy weapons commonly used. This was the same instance as when the hacker in the starport had used a remote weapon. Gabriel sees no shooter but tracks the shot to across the street. Gabriel calls out to Shaun and tells him to use the security cameras and the feed to triangulate the shot and find out where it came from. Shaun directs Gabriel and he finds another automated weapon. Cole also heads outside to help make a full sweep of the building, while Otto heads to a burned out husk of a building to check for anyone hiding.
Entering the burned out door frame, Otto feels a strange fuzzy feeling coming through his legs and up his spine. He discovers that he is standing on some sort of metal pressure plate and thinks he may be standing on a mine of some sort. He calls out to Gabriel to have him get a look at this thing. Without looking Gabriel yells out that it is a stun plate, a device designed to shock and render anyone unconscious who would be unlucky enough to step on it. Unfortunately for whoever planted he device, they did not count on Otto being the size of an ox and capable of taking the same jolt. Otto steps backwards off the plate and continues his investigation.
Four gang punks step out from the rubble of the building and try to rob Otto of his belongings. He takes one man hostage and disarms him, using him as a human shield and backs away. The other three try to get better position and draw aim on Otto. Cole sees what is happening and tries again to take control. He breaks out a window and commands the three to drop their weapons and freeze. Momentarily they are confused by the order and by not knowing where it came from. This gives Gabriel the moment he needs to set up position and begin gunning down these men in the streets.
Blood flows, panic ensues and Cole manages to save one man’s life by convincing him to run away. Gabriel claims two more people who had no idea what they were up against. Otto asks the man he is holding why they thought they could get away with this, as he is obviously Syndicate, and therefore the law. He begins some bullshit story about seeing his nice suit and thinking he might be easy prey and is quickly snapped back to reality by the pain Otto causes him for lying. He gives up the fact that once again, Hwar Do is on the move and had instructed these men to keep Otto busy for a short while. Gabriel and Otto head back to the apartment of the hacker and his mother and find that now not only is the mother dead, but the hacker as well. They were kept busy long enough for Hwar Do to gain entry and eliminate someone who might be a lead in his direction.
Gabriel notes the scent of ozone thick in the air and wonders what it means, he asks Shaun to analyze the area. Shaun deduces that some sort of cloaking device was used. Maybe Hwar Do has a stealth suit, or more likely, due to the concentration of ozone, he was cloaking his transport.
Cole has a few moments to himself and realizes that if he does not act soon he will never get what he wanted from these men, and dealing with them on this level will have been more than a waste of his time, he may be in danger.
Gabriel gets a call on his comm and agrees to a pick up from RIFU who at this point wanted to meet with everyone, but only Reeva and Gabriel had agreed. Meanwhile Shaun, still on the line with Gabriel, and paranoid from the whole situation beginning to look like a set up, tries to talk to Gabriel. He tries to understand why Gabriel would leave them in a time like this, where they are being hunted by an assailant that seems to know them but they don’t know well at all.
Gabriel explains that he does know Hwar Do, as he is also a Harcourt Soldat, but can’t explain why he knows this, maybe it is part of the lost memories. He further stresses that the deal with RIFU is way too sweet to pass up and like it or not, he’s leaving. Shaun tries once again to talk to Gabriel, and is blown off by Gabriel who suggests that Shaun get help with his paranoia and is told that is he wises up he might still be welcome with RIFU.
Shaun’s mind begins to race and spiral into dark thoughts. He is being betrayed, abandoned by the one person who might have some insight on this ordeal. Cole is a plant, he’s obviously a spy for Securitech, and this whole red herring of the hacker was only to show us that we are being played.
He contacts Otto, the only man who he feels he can trust. “Otto, Gabriel is leaving us, we’re not just going to let him walk away are we?” he inquires. momentarily Otto entertains the thought of killing Gabriel, but snaps to his senses. “Yeah Shaun, we’re going to let him walk away, get off the fucking drugs.” Shaun is left with no options as he watches Gabriel, over the cameras, leave the scene in a RIFU transport. Otto is also informed that Reeva is leaving the hangar at Starlight. Shaun tries to bully Reeva into staying. Reeva explains the huge opportunity and larger payday, Shaun threatens that if Reeva leaves he should never come back. Shaun and Otto are left to investigate the threats on their lives alone.
Otto gathers that the four men had been given their orders in a bar a block or two up the street. Cole offers his expert investigation techniques to help Otto get the information he requires, in trade for the information he had already requested regarding “Vertigo”, he also sweetens the pot by offering to tell them who it is that is after them. Otto asks Shaun what he had dug up on “Vertigo” and he informs Otto that he had already passed a message through Blackwatch, to Gryff who had shown a hatred for Ryan.
The information had gotten back to Shaun, and at this point Shaun is holding it close to himself, not even letting Otto know. Apparently Ryan is well liked by another Warlord in Freespace, Hakim One-eye, who is a shill for all Greyjackets. Apparently this warlord offers sanctuary to anyone who wears a grey jacket even people who may be scum who slaughter the innocent. Furthermore he tells the tale of exactly who and what Ryan really is, according to Freespace lore. Shaun is given exact coordinates of Hakim’s territory and the defenses that it may have.
Otto makes a few calls of his own at this point and tries to see what he can do about Hwar Do and “Vertigo”. His first call to the Starport in Starlight makes little sense as he tries to ask for a scan of the skies looking for a cloaked vehicle, but ends up asking for some sort of laser support, to which they reply that they lack those capabilities. Otto is growing tired of this investigation and seems to no longer have any interest in any part of it. His missteps betray this fact and Cole takes notice. The second call is to an Alliance law enforcement agent who may have information on “Vertigo” and he is informed that Cole is in fact an Alliance bounty hunter of sorts and has been reporting on Otto and his companions, as well as his objective “Vertigo”. Otto asks that all transmissions regarding he or his associates be intercepted and sent to Otto.
Cole takes the lead on the investigation in the bar where the men had been given orders from Hwar Do, while Otto has several strong drinks. With a little digging and some calls to Securitech Cole turns up a lead that Securitech may know something about Hwar Do himself. Shaun is pouring over the information stolen from the Hacker’s computer. He feels that what he had previously discovered, regarding what the hacker thought was incriminating evidence against Securitech, linking them to the problems down south, may be a bargaining chip.
Cole grows tired of everyone talking to an eye in the sky and requests to be patched into communications. Combining the idea Shaun had, which was to use his bargaining chip to gain assistance from Securitech to upload Sentinel on Blackwatch to fix the problems, and his information that Securitech may have information on Hwar Do and makes a plan. The plan is to arrange a meeting between Shaun, Otto and Securitech in trade for the information Shaun and Otto have on “Vertigo”, and an agreement is made.
The three get on transport headed to Hightower and Cole and Shaun finally meet face to face. Cole is polite and quiet on his trip to Securitech territory and Shaun is nervous about the whole ordeal, going as far as to commit all information on “Vertigo” to memory and erase all other copies, hopefully ensuring that he won’t be double crossed.
Cole is stuck on a rapid transit with a man who shows obvious signs of drug use and paranoia, the other is a large monster in a suit who seems so uninterested that someone would be trying to kill him. He gathers that Otto, due to his orders and actions, must be so accustomed to violence that he no longer even notices it. In a way, Cole thinks it would do the world a service to get these two off the streets for good, if only he had any authority here.
The transit stops in Hightower and everyone debarks. A Securitech executive makes a quick meeting and explains that he is extending hospitality to Otto and Shaun and is intrigued by the Sentinel in their possession. He also thanks them for eliminating the little nuisance that the hacker was proving to be. He regretfully informs them that he still has other business to attend to and cannot meet right now, and takes his leave.
Secure with the idea that he may have made a good trade, Shaun finally gives over what information he has on “Vertigo”. He gives the Coordinates of Hakim’s territory and tells the tale of “Vertigo”, a man who gunned down innocent people who were hungry and desperate and near riot in a food line that was horribly under supplied. They had no options and the frustration towards the government had gotten so high that they acted out and without pause, “Vertigo” fired upon civilians. Shaun notes that “Vertigo” must be a real scum to do that. He also warns that “Vertigo” may be allied with Greyjackets but Shaun doesn’t believe that he is actually one of them, just hiding in their ranks.
Cole comments, noting the irony of Shaun’s statements regarding “Vertigo”, since It seems Shaun, Otto and Gabriel also have no issue with firing upon civilians. He explains that he may have left out some information regarding who or what he was, but he was at least honest in all these dealings. He suggests that before Shaun judge others he should be honest with himself. He should take a strong look at himself and his company, as they are no better than “Vertigo”. Furthermore he states that had he known what he would have to be party to during his investigation of “Vertigo” he may never have tried to contact “People like us”, and taken a different route. Cole then turns to Otto and gives him the last bit of information he promised. Otto has been marked for death by an organization known only as the Coil.
Shaun is offended at the comments and tries to explain why it is he acts the way he does. He notes the world he lives in, the threats of violence around him and the general condition of life on Rakhan Prime. He also reminds Cole that nobody asked him to participate in our investigation, that everything he did was of his own choosing. Maybe he should be honest with himself and admit he is not so dissimilar from we who he is now judging.
Cole wants none of it, takes the information given and heads away from a situation that he feels he did the best he could with. He might regret dealing with those three but in the end they had what he needed. Maybe he can do some good with it, and maybe, just maybe, come back another day to do something about them.
Otto feels that Cole might have represented something, maybe he was a ray of light in a dark world. Maybe he proves there is order and justice, somewhere; just not here on Rakhan Prime. Here, where the idea of law and order is sold to the highest bidder and nobody has any rights unless they take them.
Shaun on the other hand, paranoid and petty, sends one more message through the Subnets of space. He warns the group of Greyjackets he had met on Nexus Gate not many days ago that a man by the name of Cole Turner, bounty hunter with a badge, is on the trail of their associate Ryan “Vertigo” Williams. The way Shaun sees it, Ryan was captured on the ship along with everyone and if captured again he might alert “The Coil” or who ever it was that is after us. Shaun sends a full data packet containing images of Cole as well as anything else Shaun could dig up on Cole, including his professional history. With any luck, Shaun thinks, Cole will disappear and Ryan will remain invisible, hidden in the far reaches of the Frontiers. The way Shaun figures it, secrets can be kept between two people, providing one of them is dead.
With Cole gone, Shaun and Otto head into the upper levels of the Securitech highrise to get some rest. Gabriel and Riva are briefed and are getting settled into their new job with RIFU, and Hwar Do and his team may still be out there, waiting for the next opportunity when any one of them may be vulnerable.