Sunday, 28 September 2014

No War but Generation War! (Bounty Board, West Palm Beach edition)

The middle of the 21st century is a great time to be a bounty hunter in the United States. The laws are looser, the targets are more numerous, the paycops less capable of doing their job than ever before. Easy money!

The middle of the 21st century is a terrible time to be a bounty hunter in the United States. The target might be more numerous, but they're also better armed. It's a relatively simple matter for a fugitive with a few friends and a 3d printer to blanket his surroundings in sousveillance systems, giving advanced warning of any arrest attempt. A thousand separatist gangs and survivalist militias will gladly shoot any jumped up Boba Fett wannabe who tries to grab a criminal in their midst.

Bounty hunting takes guts. Or idiocy. Probably more idiocy. Let's be honest here...

The hunters have descended on West Palm Beach in pursuit of two separate targets; the rogue New York ripperdoc Standish Haley and a local gang of online blackmailers called the GitBits

(...of course, the town doesn't have to be West Palm Beach. You could use this motley crew of NPCs anywhere. But you don't need to be told that...)

(...also, while I'm breaking the fourth wall in italics, I have to thank VFTE's very own Interrupt for the gang name "GitBits" and every single one of their hacker handles. Blame him!)

But first, there's one dirty piece of business to take care of....


AUBREY EASLEY is the team's contact in West Palm Beach. She's spent a couple of weeks tracking Maria DeStefano (AKA GitBitz), a member of the GitBits hacker gang. She's going to need help bringing them to justice for two reasons.

1. She got shot and is currently in a wheelchair.
2. The people responsible for her shooting want to shoot her again.

Aubrey Easley is a middle aged woman from the Pacific Northwest who looks constantly uncomfortable in the local weather. She hates going outside, which is unfortunate given her lifestyle to date - that of a listless nomad. She's been a soldier, a drifter, a huckster, a soldier again, an actual nomad, a janitor (for three hours), an armed courier and lately a bounty hunter.  

Right now she's living out of a Mediterranean Revival style house in the El Cid district of West Palm Beach. She acquired the place in exchange for her last courier job, and it's the only reason she's actually in the city: she hasn't had the chance to sell up and move on yet. With all the flooding and mega-hurricanes and assorted other shit no-one actually wants to move to El Cid these days, so it's proving difficult. 

The problem is, the local landowners want her to sell at cut-rate anyway. They've adopted the old Yakuza tactic: hire some guys to drive around in a van with some big speakers blasting far right propaganda, late at night or early in the morning. While most of the residents are too scared to confront the thugs, Aubrey wasn't. Three nights ago she laid a stinger trap out in front of the sound van. It bounced up onto the curb and hit a lamppost. The driver and his compadre stumbled out of the van and started shooting. Twenty seconds later they were both dead and Aubrey was badly injured.

Paradisiana Properties was a big deal - owned three floors of a skyscraper! - a few years ago. Then the storm winds smashed all the windows in the skyscraper and flooded half their landholdings. Crazy revival scheme #42 is all about selling off the El Cid properties to an Angolan Bank. It's... complicated. 

Anyway, they just lost their expensive sound van and their two hired thugs. 

So now, two bitter old men are roaming the streets looking for the perpetrator, flashing money around to the local street kids. This pair of idiots would be Paradisio Joe Slow and Chump Wilson. Chump is an ex-Marine who got his name stepping on a dud landmine in Iraq a few years back. Paradisio Joe Slow made a lot of money in the 2010s and spent it on guns. Together, they're a vaguely dangerous pair.

Paradisio Joe and Chump run Paradisiana Properties, a company that still has enough money to hire private investigators and print a few surveillance drones. They would go to the police, but then they'd be implicated in an attempt to unlawfully intimidate several hundred people out of their homes. Instead, once they discover it was Aubrey, they'll make plans to kill her. Those plans will be disrupted by the arrival of the team. Suddenly faced with superior fire-power, they'll back off. 

From then on, their plan will be all about using their surveillance drones and criminal contacts to fuck with the team as much as possible, in as oblique a fashion as they can manage. Paradisio Joe fancies himself a criminal mastermind, master of the Xanatos Gambit, and schemes accordingly! 


Unsurprisingly, a man named "Chump" is just a distraction from the main event; the bounty on the GitBits, South Florida's most irrepressible gang of matrix criminals.

For the last year, the GitBits have been using their mastery of the wireless world to blackmail eldsters out of their money and possessions. They've been doing this by hijacking their cyberware, their pacemakers and their household computer software with malware. The GitBits are all teenagers who claim to be inspired by the YAG (Youth Against Gerontocracy) Manifesto. 

The GitBits are far from the first criminals to try this kind of thing. In truth, it's getting harder as each new generation of OAPs becomes more computer savvy. One such ex-programmer and ex-con (age 75) shopped GitBits leader GitBitz to Aubrey Easley a week back. Aubrey has her under surveillance... or did, until she got shot. 

Name: Maria DiStefano (AKA GitBitz)
Price: $3000 (alive)
Wanted by: State of Florida
Wanted for: Human Malware Distribution
Maria DiStefano is a 15 year old, purple-haired runaway from the nomad community who lives in a squat in West Palm Beach, has a forged driving license and a big jeep, and steals from the elderly wealthy to give to the youthful poor (well, maybe the elderly aren't that wealthy, but the youth really are that poor!).

The Purple Dragon Squat in Atlantis is run by Coherent Dark, a local electro-junk band. It hosts house parties and is constantly surrounded by local street kids.

DiStefano owns a beanbag gun and a CS gas grenade. 

If they get to DiStefano, the team will have raised the wrath of the GitBits (oh no!).

Other GitBits include:

Name: Unknown (AKA GeriMetric)
Price: $2000 (alive)
Wanted by: State of Florida
Wanted for: Human Malware Distribution

GeriMetric's real name is Randy Epstein, although the team will have to figure that out. He's actually a very effective hacker - so effective, he's convinced the state of Florida that his granddad is still alive and occupying the house in the gated community Randy operates out of. GeriMetric likes to sit in the basement of his big house, watching the monitor feeds from a dozen co-opted police drones.

If the team get a trace on Randy - difficult! - they'll discover that he's operating from a house in the Herongate gated community, next to a renowned golf course full of fancy folk. The local Brazen Shield company paycops will do their best to prevent entry, and Randy has his own surveillance systems watching the entrances. All in all, the team might decide that the trouble it'll take bringing GeriMetric in isn't worth what the State of Florida is paying!

Name: Unknown (AKA AgeRage)
Price: $2000 (alive)
Wanted by: State of Florida
Wanted for: Human Malware Distribution

AgeRage - aka Indira Johannsen - is the most angry and ideological of the GitBits. She likes to use drones to paint angry slogans on the walls of West Palm Beach, calling herself "Caroussel." Her tags surround the Purple Dragon squat and several locations where the GitBits like to congregate in person. 

What her fellow GitBits don't know is that AgeRage is moving up in the hacker community. She has found a mentor called Strik9, and together they pulled off a major heist. While 90% of the prototype surveillance nano-paint they stole from a Shimura Corporation drone transport in Alabama has been sold off to various corporate competitors, the rest has been daubed all over those elaborate "C4R0U553L" tags. 

Shimura is actually offering their own bounty for the perpetrators of the prototype nano-paint heist. If the players were to make a connection between the two, they could earn another $3000. On the other hand, Strik9 is a well regarded member of the southern US 'runner community - if they discover AgeRage's connection, the team might want to reconsider their plans for her (both out of respect for Strik9 and fear of his heavily armed friends). 

Name: Unknown (AKA CaneWrangler)
Price: $3000 (alive)
Wanted by: State of Florida
Wanted for: Human Malware Distribution, Intimidation with deadly weapon

Marco Hebb is the oldest of the GitBits and the one who handles things when someone needs to be somewhere in person. He's a burn-out at almost 20, whose best 'runner days are already behind him. The money he made has gone into speedware as he tries to find new ways of tapping into the old rush.

Of all the GitBits, Hebb is the one most capable of actually shooting a bounty hunter with his dope-ass .45 smart-revolver. 

Name: Unknown (AKA GraveDigga)
Price: $2000 (alive)
Wanted by: State of Florida
Wanted for: Human Malware Distribution

Completing the set - and the impression that the GitBits are a lesser known Wu Tang affiliate circa 1994 - GraveDigga wrote most of the malware being used against Heartfelt Technologies medical cyberware. His computer is full of the stuff, which could be very useful to the right psychotic mercenary... 

Naturally, Heartfelt Technologies doesn't want GraveDigga to reach a trial because that would mean admitting to the holes in their security software. Corporate responsibility is soo last century (umm). They'd pay to see GraveDigga have an "accident" during his arrest. Or they might arrange one themselves.


The second bounty drawing wannabe bounty hunters to West Palm Beach is that applying to Standish Haley, ripperdoc at large. 

Name: Standish Haley
Price: $7500 (alive)
Wanted by: State of New York
Wanted for: Perjury, Unlicensed Cyberware Installation, Conspiracy, etc

Standish Haley is an elderly doctor who made his name during the Iraq War, developing the first wave of prosthetics that became "cyberware." He was an early exponent of the idea that people should be legally free to lop off their own fully-functional arms and replace them with metal, an idea that met a surprising (?) amount of resistance early on.

Then came the financial malpractice scandal. 

After that, no-longer-Dr Haley had trouble finding legitimate work. Luckily, the underground community had all sorts to offer a competent surgeon with a willingness to work outside the law, and he soon became notorious in New York. Members of the "cut off my leg and replace it with a machine gun" crowd remembered his inspiring speeches from back in the day.

Which is why his criminal career lasted six months before he had to flee the attentions of the NYPD. You can't be a celebrity and a ripperdoc.

While rumours place him Florida, Haley has gone to ground. He has friends among a local "Civil Protection Militia" called the Rough Riders, based out of Fort Lauderdale. They're making preparations to set him up in a secret clinic. Right now he's living out of a run-down, flooded apartment building in West Palm Beach. He'd be near impossible to find, except that the Rough Riders contracted the hacker crowd in the Purple Dragon squat to print them some surveillance systems to guard him while they prepare to sneak him to his final hideout. If the bounty hunters have the Purple Dragon under surveillance, they might get an inadvertent lead on Haley.

At the moment they find him, Haley is performing urgent open heart surgery on Adam Roth, a geriatric militiaman who installed a high performance, completely illegal neo-heart last month, only to find the rest of his body can't stand the pressure. Which is why he's currently on a very improvised surgery theatre in a flooded apartment building having a convicted fraudster cut him open.

Three very paranoid militia nutjobs are guarding this prestigious event.

Eli Brown fought for the IDF in Lebanon before heading back to the States and eventually retiring to Florida. When the flooding and the rioting started, he was quick to lend his services to the Rough Riders. Since joining, he has replaced his arms with metal, his legs with metal, and his rectum with a complicated piece of Indonesian biotech. He also has advanced cyber-eyes with thermograph scanners - a real problem for a surveillance team trying to go unnoticed outside the apartment building.

Joshua Goldstein was a police officer in Queens, NYC for 40 years, and now lends his experience in kicking the shit out of people to the Rough Riders. He's replaced his failing limbs with an implanted linear frame, his nose with a filter system, and his sweat glands with a truly alarming pheromone dispersal module (smells like Old Spice and terror). 

He is armed with an SP30 gun shield which he hefts with one arm. His other arm has a built-in recoil absorber, allowing him to prop an H&K SMG on the shield and fire it accurately with one hand. 

Benjamin Becker once came eighth in the NATO All-Services Mixed Martial Arts Championship, which is no joke. He's really enjoying his recent return to physical perfection. Behind walls of reinforced muscle, reinforced bones and reinforced skinweave, there isn't much of his personality left. 

None of the Rough Riders wanted to be in this situation. Adam Roth's sudden heart failure has punctured the bubble of self belief they've created; the idea that they could transcend their failing mortal frames by rebuilding themselves in chrome. Right now, the Riders and their reinforcements (there are almost 300 of these guys, scattered through South Florida's retirement villages) are less than rational. They see Standish Haley - a man they revere as their ideological father - as their salvation in this discomforting time. 

More Riders are already on their way. The original plan - to prepare a guarded home for Standish and then sneak him into it - has been put aside. Once Roth is saved, they intend to drive Haley straight into the gated community that serves as their command centre, hoping their connections with local law enforcement will protect him if something goes wrong. The convoy of elderly cyborgs is already en route.

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