MMFEC retrieves Cromwell, but loses Elsie in the process. Ma1nfram3 turns frustration into triumph in the Matrix – and also goes on a date?
We rejoin the team in the midst of an attempt to retrieve their kidnapped troll teammate Cromwell from a train headed to a rendezvous with the Whitetree crime family.
- Mordecai has just been instilled with fear by a spirit controlled by a mage he’s fighting.
- Sharky has been ordered to make Ma1nfram3’s van fast enough to keep up with the speeding train, but has failed one attempt and must keep trying
- Elsie and Fang have descended through a hole they cut in one of the train’s shipping containers, and now find themselves face to face with the Yakuza.
- Ma1nfram3 is in her van, angrily piloting it in VR while waiting for the help she needs from Sharky and Mordecai to keep up with the train.
Unfortunately, the fear Mordecai encountered is a powerful drug, and since Mordecai is still enjoying the land speed from a separate service from Sharky, he literally turns around and speeds home on foot.
But Sharky manages to speed Ma1nfram3’s van up on its second attempt, doubling its speed so she can maintain parity with the train and making her Matrix endeavors more effective. Without the noise encountered from the lagging van, Ma1nfram3 places a mark on the train’s Matrix representation, which is a stagecoach led by horses. Her mark takes the form of a lasso strung around a post on the carriage. She takes an instant to change the Matrix representation of her avatar and van to be a similar stagecoach, but one pulled by 7 sharks in honor of the speed given her by Sharky.
In the train, Elsie makes a gymnastic leap between cars and manages to open the keypad lock on the next container. Fang has been fighting bravely and kills a Yakuza but also takes significant wounds. Upon opening the door and moving into the new car, Elsie throws a flash bang that further stuns herself and Fang, but does manage to put their enemies at a disadvantage.
Back in the Matrix, Ma1nfram3 manages to get a second mark on the stagecoach. She also attacks the persona driving the train with a Data Spike laced with the Tantrum program – her successful hit renders the decker driving the train nauseated for 3 combat turns. She configured the Tantrum program to hit that decker with the smell of horse feces, which seemed thematically appropriate.
Elsie and Fang progress into the next car and take on the Yakuza there skillfully. Fang manages to take out one of the Yakuza with her shotgun pointed through a shelf for no reason at all.
In the target car, Cromwell begins to come to and rallies his energy to break his bonds and wake up – though the act of breaking the bonds alerts his captors to his consciousness. Cromwell is essentially in his underwear, with his armor and weapons jammed into a corner of the car. He is still drugged and finds his abilities changed; higher Willpower but lower physical responses. Crommie makes a break for his bags, running across the car and rolling underneath his shield.
With two marks on the train and the “conductor” now sickened, she pulls her van/stagecoach up alongside the train’s stagecoach in the Matrix and uses her lasso to rope the two together. She straddles the two moving vehicles and takes control of the train, now piloting both from virtual reality in the Matrix. The train’s decker attempts to erase one of Ma1nfram3’s marks, but Ma1n pulls out a whip and snaps his hand away. She glares at him and triumphantly declares “This is MY TRAIN NOW”, all as she begins to slow the trajectory of the vehicles.
Elsie and Fang work their way through the storage car and again break into the leading car; this one reveals Cromwell is alive. As soon as he can see Elsie, Cromwell grabs a grenade from his bag, rips the pin out, and dramatically monologues to the Yakuza that they must let Elsie and Crommie go or die in the explosion. Unfortunately, due to an Accident spell cast by a mage on Cromwell, his entire monologue is delivered in English and not Japanese, yielding little benefit.
Meanwhile, Ma1nfram3 continues slowing the two vehicles atop the pair of Matrix stagecoaches. Her enemy, the train’s Decker, once again attempts to erase her mark. She responds with an unforgiving Data Spike laced with more horse feces, bricking the Decker’s deck and kicking him off the Matrix. She notices a flicker in the train’s stagecoach representation as the decker now attempts to physically sabotage the train.
The next few events happen in the blink of an eye. Fang slices a Yakuza almost entirely in two. Cromwell throws the grenade into the corner of the car and pulls out another. The grenade knocks out one of the Yakuza – who had a gun with rubber bullets – and Cromwell takes the gun. Elsie jumps on some boxes to pass Fang and get closer to Cromwell. Crommie and Elsie make eye contact; and in an instant Cromwell turns his gun to Elsie and fires. Elsie goes down with a slight seizure, coughs up blood, and goes limp.
The rest of the Yakuza are dealt with quickly; Luigi-sama is left alive at Cromwell’s desire, and he leaves a note for the WhiteTrees saying essentially “You shouldn’t have come after us. I might have let her live.” Fang, on Ma1nfram3’s request, finds the enemy decker and knocks them unconscious. Ma1n stops the vehicles and begins deleting any security footage that might be suspect. Elsie’s body is loaded into a bag and brought off the train into Ma1nfram3’s van. Once they are ready to depart, Ma1nfram3 sets the train on autopilot and relinquishes her control as it resumes its course. Only then does Elsie emerge from the body bag and explain the entire situation.
Upon their return to Seattle, MMFEC makes it known that Elsie Blackwood is dead. Her staged death may buy some time, but it’s unlikely the Whitetrees will be permanently mollified. During the following week, Cromwell made an attempt to “rebrand” himself as evil, as the cold blooded killer who took Elsie’s life. Elsie asks Ma1nfram3 for some help rebranding her own look, and so the two ladies end up in Fang’s bathroom dying Elsie’s hair “mousy brown”. Ma1n gives her a cut too – a skill acquired on the run – and the look is completed with some new glasses.
Ma1nfram3 takes some of the money saved from recent months to close a gap of loneliness in her life by buying a Nissan Doberman drone, naming it “Scooby”, and programming it with some companionship behaviors for around the house. Then she sets up a dinner date with Captain Moore from the Wuxing ship Empress. It was a successful and romantic first date with a kiss on the waterfront. (Ma1nfram3 paid, of course)
Fang and Ma1nfram3 met for another fish foot soak the next day, but Fang was visibly upset while listening to Ma1n’s excited retelling of the date. Finally, her knowledge explodes out, and Fang tells Ma1nfram3 that “Big Daddy” Mordecai is in love with her and confessed as much on the Horizon run while his commlink was jammed. Ma1n doesn’t know what to do with this information, since her impression on the train heist was that Mordecai was somehow disregarding her, refusing several asks for desperately-needed help to keep up with the train. He also chose to walk to the raid instead of riding with Ma1n and Fang, which seemed like a brush-off. Even if he was in love with Ma1n before, maybe he’s not now? Either way, Ma1n remains noncommittal. She won’t pursue Mord unless she’s sure something is mutual, and in the meantime she’ll pursue whatever other avenues she wants to.
After the 6 soycafs and fish soak, Fang heads off to deal with her own personal errands. She obtains a new right arm, but cannot get the vendor to agree to the VAT job since she is a convict with a tracking ID. Fang turns to Nasim, who has a surprising proposition – he’ll install this arm (with permission from her parole officer), but will ALSO install an experimental replacement left arm with only a SLIGHT risk of glitching. Fang is now the proud owner of two impressive cyberarms – one still more designed for a man, the other highly advanced and more her size, but with a gleam of the unknown.
As the gang toasts the “late” Elsie in the Rapid Rabbit, Miss J shows up with a proposal. MMFEC owes her a favor (from the MCT run where they needed a space dragon AI removed from a Shiawase employee suffering from CFD), and the favor has come due. Miss J asks the team to make themselves available at low cost to one Dana Oakes, Seattle’s district attorney. She has come into possession of evidence that could take down Seattle governor Brackenhaven, but assistance from a team of runners is required.
Elsie, now Ellie Hawthorn, heads to Dana’s office and manages to get a meeting with her. After reviewing the evidence – a video of the missing PR secretary Edmund Jefferies being escorted after his disappearance with Emile Corrigan – they agree to an arrangement where MMFEC will attempt to apprehend Emile in exchange for accelerated prosecution of some Trollkillers and some further assistance to be named later.
And this is where we leave MMFEC – on the cusp of an opportunity to change the political landscape in Seattle for the better. Will they succeed?