Episode 20 was full of DRAMA and some unexpectedly relevant conversations about race relations in the 6th world. It also showed the full range of MMFEC’s abilities; from failure to possible triumph. And their considerable talent at inter-team strife. Read on for more detail from my end of the table, or hop to the bottom for the full video replay on YouTube.

We rejoin MMFEC midway through an information retrieval run for the Draco Foundation that has gone unexpectedly wrong: what was supposed to be a quick, uneventful kidnap & imitate operation turned wetwork when Cromwell’s narco-jet dart killed one of the marks. Further events caused both Cromwell AND Mordecai to berserk, and the remaining voice of reason Fang ran back to the van with what she believed to be an unconscious body.

When Fang makes it back to Ma1nfram3’s van, the two along with Elsie quickly ascertain that the Trollkiller is, in fact, dead. Livid, Ma1nfram3 continues with the mission, using the biological scanner to scan the woman’s face and program it into one of Elsie’s digital masks.

Cromwell and Mordecai eventually calm down. Cromwell tries to run back to the van but Ma1nfram3, seeing him on the drone footage, immediately yells at him – he’ll lead the next wave of Trollkillers directly to their location. So Cromwell goes running off in an arbitrary direction, while Mordecai levitates the second target quietly back to the van with Sharky’s concealment.

There is some momentary consternation back in the van as the second mask is built. When Cromwell finally rejoins the group, he is met with a firestorm of anger from Ma1nfram3, feeling taken for granted and betrayed. From her perspective, Cromwell is completely unhinged, having sabotaged both the police station and the alley run in short order. Cromwell, at least to Ma1nfram3’s face, is unrepentant and gives a speech about the coming “war” and trying to fling the human-like appearance her parents inflicted upon her back at her, which only incenses her further – they were hired to do a run, not fight a war. “Some of us want to STAY in the shadows,” she declares angrily – and expresses her doubts about continuing with MMFEC. “I can’t afford a high profile – it’s not safe for me, and it’s not safe for the group.” The entire conversation is awkward and tense, laced with racial angst on both sides.

Despite her considerable anger Ma1n and Elsie move forward with the original plan. Elsie and Ma1nframe and emerge from the alley in disguise as the original two (coupled) Trollkillers. (named Clara and Joan, information obtained from their commlinks.) They immediately engage with the assembled crowd trying to help the four unconscious Trollkillers by bursting into tears and generally being very distraught. Ma1n manages not to put her foot in her mouth but only barely, while Elsie puts on a command performance.

Conversation leads them back into the tavern, and they make a show of taking seats at the bar together and getting pints before Ma1n excuses herself to go to the restroom. While there, she starts her work – ignoring the three wolves howling at three moons behind her in the pub’s Matrix representation in order to start sorting through Trollkiller commlinks. She narrows it down to 2 higher-quality commlinks which she marks, eventually settling on Letta Robertson’s commlink. Ma1n zeroes in on the most highly encrypted file repository and mercifully remembers to check for and defuse the data bomb lying in wait. Once that’s clear, Ma1n decrypts the files and dumps them en masse for later inspection.

While all this is going on, Fang, Cromwell and Mordecai have a discussion in the van after dropping off the still-living Trollkiller. Fang is trying to express her own personal disappointment in Cromwell and has a better time of it than Ma1nfram3. She is sad that Cromwell’s showboating angered the one person in the world who believes in Fang’s innocence, and that this rift will prevent Cromwell and Fang’s parole officer from becoming friends of their own.

Meanwhile, Elsie is talking up the folks at the tavern, assembled for an official meeting of the Trollkillers. When Ma1n emerges successful, Elsie comes over thoughtfully and asks if she needs to go home after such a long day. The two abscond in an approximation of a couple in love and are met by the van several blocks away (thankfully, Fang is driving).

The group then heads to a pier to provide a burial at sea, with Sharky’s aid, for the Trollkiller casualty. Cromwell just wants to dump the body, but Fang is insistent that all life deserves respect. Shortly thereafter, Ma1n reviews the files she retrieved and – thanks to their inside knowledge of the timeline on the Josephine Dzugashvili assassination attempt – manages to zero in on a series of suspicious email exchanges around the time of the attack with one Elias Himura. Further investigation reveals Himura to be an employee at the Seattle Metroplex’s office of Construction and Inspections.

The night ends with a super awkward sleepover at Ma1nfram3’s – she doesn’t know how to reject Fang’s suggestion but she also doesn’t know how to pretend she’s having a good time. Fang offers belly rubs that turn into something else, and mostly everyone keeps to themselves.

A brief report-back to the Draco Foundation yields an offer for an additional $5000 nuyen each on top of the retainer for evidence of Himura’s involvement. Elsie and Ma1n do another face run to Elias’s office. He is out for the day, but they manage to wheedle Elias’s home address out of his office clerk (and Ma1nfram3 also ends up with his commlink handle after a few sultry eye gazes.)

MMFEC knows Elias has a family reunion at his home the following day, so any delay will cause an uptick in security. Thus they decide to head in that very night. Elsie stays in the van but stakes out up top with her sniper weapons – which proves to be a boon when the team is beset by drones that Ma1n didn’t see in her desire to assess the host’s potentially deadly security quickly.

The three drones give the group a bit of trouble – but one is taken out by sniper rifle and two by Ma1nfram3, with physical assistance from Fang and Cromwell. (See the chat replay for the saga of BAEdrone, the drone that kept rolling ridiculously high and resisting all attacks.)

Cromwell took some damage from the drones, and so Mordecai takes the opportunity to summon on Cromwell’s behalf the one and only Paddington Bear. Cromwell is starstruck but also glad of Paddington’s healing assistance.

Once the drones were dealt with, the team knows HRT is probably on its way, so Cromwell resorts to a plasma cutter to enter the garage. Mordecai uses a trid phantasm They’re looking for Elias’ personal file storage – probably on a server rack or personal devices in a room with few windows or doors. There’s no basement, so we’re probably talking storage closets of some kind.

Inside, the team encounters a quiet home. Fang raids the fridge and revels in real lettuce and cheese. The team searches downstairs while sending Paddington upstairs – which turned out to be a good move, since Paddington found a secret room hiding behind some bookshelves. Ma1nfram3 hacks the bookshelf bioscanner and gets the door to open – but not without a miss that sends an alert to the homeowner’s commlink. The team moves in and Ma1n manages to download a copy of the relevant files.

MMFEC exits onto a roof deck and manages – against considerable Vegas odds – to abscond with the requested data without encountering HRT. What was in those files? Will Ma1n make this her last MMFEC run? How long will Paddington Bear stick around? Join us at 6PM PT July 20 to find out.