Backstage Pass

June 6, 2056 - June 8, 2056

Short and Sweet

Rising musical star gets her lover to hire the runners to find a pornographic simsense recording she's being blackmailed with. Along the way, the blackmailer is killed and a runner is the prime target. Cutting through the deceptions and lies, they track down the real killer of the blackmailer and (eventually) clear the runner's name.

How It Went Down

The discovery of 20Question's death was the big topic amongst our runners. It started a day ago, when Lynx stumbled across 20Questions shooting up a homeless shelter - when she tried to stop him, he almost killed her. An astral cop used her air elemental to slam both 20Questions and Lynx against a wall when the cop and the elemental were ambushed in astral, allowing Lynx to escape. But while she escaped, 20Questions collapsed to the floor.

That afternoon, Napalm called up Hong Lang - the special bulletin covering the massacre was on the trid. They both saw 20Questions being zipped up into a coroner's evidence bag. The news reported that seven people were killed inside the Mother Earth shelter on Mockingbird. They decide to call everyone to the Dark Star to discuss the news - after all, 20Questions is the one that brought them all together. After Napalm gets off the vidphone, an old acquaintance, Raven, calls him up. Remembering that Raven ran a detective agency back in Denver, Napalm has the human meet with the others at the Dark Star.

At the nightclub, everyone but Bishop shows up. Napalm reveals that he used to work with 20Questions back when 20Q was with the CBI [Confederate Bureau of Investigations], but everyone else in the running group believed that 20Questions was an ex-Renraku employee. Lynx tells a bit more about her previous encounter with 20Questions. 20Questions was paranoid, on a run when one of the other runners was revealed to be "one of them". After warning her not to trust anyone, he ran off, chased by someone. Queensryche and she head to a media friend at VoxCSA to find out a bit more on the story.

The others (Hong Lang, Napalm, Dancing Flame, Raven, and Roadkill) investigate the scene of the murders. In astral, Hong Lang determines that there were several deaths in the room, two deaths solely in astral space, and there were the presence of several spirits he couldn't identify.

At VoxCSA, the ladies discover that the police aren't being very generous with the information about this case and that there is a police sketch being circulated with Lynx's face. It's a rough sketch with very few identifying features.

The next day, Roadkill is offered a job. A semi-famous person is having some blackmail problems - could you help him out? The meet goes down in a coffeebar. In walks Ted "TKO" Schwartz, the 2046 Unaugmented International Heavyweight Boxing Champion. TKO's current girlfriend, singing sensation Bianca Adiva, is being blackmailed with a very lewd pornographic sim-chip that is supposed to be uploaded to the major pay-for-play matrix sites in five days if TKO and Adiva don't cough up 250,000 nuyen. Bianca and TKO believe that the blackmailer is Bryce Ananzio, her ex-agent. Bryce is to be at a party TKO is hosting the next day. TKO wants the runners to come to the party, where Bianca will talk to Bryce and get him to tell them he has the chip - if he has it, get it from him; if not, find out who has the chip.

The next night, the runners are decked out in the finest threads they could get their hands and over to the party...

At the party, the entire group meets the guests. Aside from TKO and Bianca, they meet Lawrence Hammer, the professor from UT; Chase Rota, who works for AstroHall, a major Texas pay-for-play node on the Matrix; Daefos Reed, owner of the local Live It Again, Sam franchises; Chris Bell, reporter for Ka-Pow! Ka-Pow!; Elvis Ono, an exec at Hannibal Synth; Sally Porter, rising star in the music biz; Tobute, speed metal rap fusion artist, also the exiled prince of a small African nation; Jules Shear, Tobute's bodyguard. After about a half-hour or so partying, Bryce Ananzio shows up. With Bishop.

Many things happen at the party:

Danger woman Sally Porter gets an undersexed Roadkill out on the balcony and they both almost fall off. Raven and Lynx move over and give them a hand. Several people at the party give off bad vibes when they see Bryce Ananzio - Daefos Reed and Elvis Ono in particular. But before Ananzio showed up, Queensryche was cornered by a boring Daefos Reed who just wouldn't stop talking to her. She managed to ditch the dullard by heading to the restroom where she had to wait for Chase Rota to emerge. A lively political discussion took place with Dancing Flame, Professor Hammer, Chris Bell, Hong Lang, and TKO. And Napalm managed to insult an exiled prince. Then Bryce and Bishop showed up.

Bryce and Bianca exchanged words but he didn't mention the porn chip, then Bryce stormed off to the bathroom. Brushing past Queensryche, who recording Bryce's and Bianca's near shouting match, he enters the bathroom. Bianca takes Queensryche aside and asks her if she heard everything. Then three shots go off in the bathroom, followed by the sounds of glass breaking.

In a mad dash over to the bathroom, our group finds that Bryce has been shot three times. Hong Lang does a quick astral look-see and Raven goes out to the balcony to see if the assassin is escaping outside. A nervous Daefos Reed slips out the party and is shadowed by Dancing Flame. Queensryche, having stolen Bryce's pocket secretary, slips out before the cops show up with Lynx.

After a brief questioning, the others in the party were let out.

A perusal of the pilfered pocket sec'y revealed that both Elvis and Daefos had some dealing with Bryce. Interested in solving the murder, they are called off by TKO who tell them their job is to get the pornchip. He suggests that they locate it, quickly. The threatening e-mail messages have stopped, but if the police find the chip, they'll think that Bianca is the prime suspect for killing Bryce.

The runners split up to search Bryce's apartment and his office.

Napalm, Queensryche, and Raven head to the office where they find that Bryce has been a naughty boy. In addition to being a part-time bookie, he's also a blackmailer - Elvis has been paying him off a few thousand nuyen a month while Daefos owes Bookie Bryce a few dozen in gambling debts and has taken a long time to pay Bryce back.

But down at the apartment, Hong Lang, Lynx, and Dancing Flame discover someone in the apartment by the computer. Hong Lang has his elemental restrain the man but the man is targeted by a fire blast spell, killing him and severely wounding Lynx and Dancing Flame. They escape the burning apartment and somehow manage to k.o. the fleeing mage. Grabbing the magician, they take her to one of Raven's dosses after dropping Lynx off at the hospital. Everyone gathers to determine what to do next.

Roadkill and Raven head off to set up a meet to fence items stolen from Bryce's office. While this is going on, Napalm and Queensryche stake out Daefos Reed's apartment. The police show up and arrest Napalm for the murder of Bryce Ananzio. And while that is going on, Hong Lang and Dancing Flame check out a chip they picked up at Bryce's apartment. The chip contained instructions on how to break into the apartment and a message to enter into Bryce's computer implicating TKO as hiring someone to kill Bryce.

Roadkill and Raven arrive just in time for the mage prisoner to regain consciousness. While interrogating the woman called Dusk, they strike a deal with her. She spills the beans on who hired her, and they let her go. She describes Bianca Adiva as the woman who hired her. Hong Lang shoots Dusk in the back with the NarcoJect, and Dusk spins around and slaps Hong Lang hard enough to almost kill him (Death Touch). Raven ko's her. The gang gets a call from Queensryche, who managed to talk her way out of the mess Napalm got herself into, and they all leave Dusk tied up on the bed.

The runners split up, the women heading to the hospital to arrange some magical healing for Lynx; the men head to the fencing meet. Lynx is released against her doctor's wishes and Roadkill and Raven deal with a fence calling herself Sally Shears. They also break into the book safe they stole from Bryce's and discover that it's filled with many credsticks and has a lot of money on the sticks. Heading back to the apartment to get Hong Lang's car, they discover that Dusk has freed herself.

Reuniting, they call Bianca and disguise their voice as Dusk's voice. Bianca agrees to meet "Dusk" in about twenty minutes, who was supposed to be on a plane for Quebec. Staking out the meet, Bianca enters, but Raven realizes it's someone else disguised as Bianca. Outside, Roadkill spies another person in the car that Bianca came in. The Faux Bianca leaves after waiting around a few minutes, gets in the car, and drives to DFW International Airport.

The runners split up in the large parking lot and Lynx witnesses one person in the car killing the other. Someone leaves the vehicle and heads for the terminal. Against all odds, Lynx manages to shoot the fleeing murderer with the NarcoJect. It's Dusk who's killed Bianca. Lynx takes Dusk's credsticks and the runners leave the body in Bianca's car and the NarcoJect in Bianca's hand, looking like they've offed each other.