MMFEC faces their greatest moral challenge yet: do the needs of millions suffering from VITAS outweigh the needs of one elderly woman taken against her will as a human sacrifice?
Watch all episodes of “Shadowrun: Corporate SINs” on our YouTube playlist; Ep 31 is embedded at the end of this post.
We rejoin MMFEC in the middle of I-5 South between Seattle and Sea-Tac, where they are engaged in at-speed vehicular combat with an unknown group of Shadowrunners who have just yelled “Give us Granny Powell back and we’ll stand down!”
The various members of MMFEC come to the realization separately that “Granny Powell” is probably the unnamed package in a vaguely person-shaped crate that they are engaged to deliver to Hermasillo for use in a ritual.
Still, at 120km/h there isn’t much room for negotiation. Ma1nfram3 is in cold-sim VR splitting her time between piloting her van Dinah and attacking the decker and rigger personas she encountered from the combatant team. Splitting attention in 3 directions means less efficiency, but she manages to keep them distracted and deals significant damage to the rigger – who she also renders nauseated with her Tantrum program.
The rest of MMFEC is fighting multiple combatants – spirit, mage and street samurai – in the unbelievably crowded van due to entry from the ceiling hatch. Quamet the Aztechnology mage defends the “package” while Fang and Cromwell take fire from above. Elsie uses her chainsaw to surprise the mage on the roof (damaging Dinah in the process, but for the moment passing it off on the enemy when Ma1n questions the noise.)
While still attempting to use Levitate to tilt the enemy van, which is floating at an angle, Mordecai goes about the business of summoning MegaSharky. Eventually, the rigger manages to wrestle control of their van back, and Mordecai must shift his strategy to more traditional means – protective barriers against the mage, and MegaSharky’s unhinged jaw to engulf the enemy spirit.
Fang takes a significant hit from the street samurai in front of Cromwell, which causes him to berserk and leap over to the enemy van. He somehow scampers into the open side door of the enemy van and manages to menace the vulnerable bodies of their decker and rigger, both busy in VR attacking Ma1nfram3. Cromwell gives word to Ma1n that he’s in the other vehicle and that news makes its way back to Elsie.
It is around this time that Elsie begins to negotiate with the opposing group, saying she’ll have “her troll stand down” if they cease hostilities. The negotiations are already wavering when Cromwell, who is unable to heed Elsie’s request, pounds the side of the rigger’s head. Luckily, they’d managed to get enough warning to jump out of VR, but the impact still renders that decker largely unconscious.
Long story short, the vehicles eventually pull over to the side of the road and begin heated arguments. The opposing runners were hired to free Granny Powell and will not leave without her; the Aztechnology mage won’t release the spell she’s under; and Cromwell now insists he won’t go anywhere unless Granny is awakened.
After the team wears the Aztech mage down, it is revealed that with the sacrifice of Granny’s life, the lives of millions of Hermasillo residents may be saved from this magically-activated VITAS outbreak. Her blood is special because she survived a prior outbreak of VITAS without medical intervention. Only two other known individuals alive have this immunity profile: one in China and one in Germany. Neither can be retrieved in time to save the Hermasillo residents from this extremely virulent outbreak.
However, waking Granny up to ask her consent to sacrifice her life for millions would render the sacrifice less efficient, as blood magic draws greater power from unwilling sacrifices. If she consented after being awakened, they would STILL need 2-5 additional sacrifices with the same immunity profile – and the only other source of reasonable sacrifices is within Hermasillo itself, which is under lockdown. It’s not even certain if enough exist, much less if they’d consent.
While these discussions are going on, Fang is pulled aside by the Aztech mage, who has the promised information on her brother’s well-being in Hermasillo. Unfortunately, the news is not good. Fang’s brother has sent her a video from his deathbed in hospital, clearly suffering from VITAS and with less than 24 hours to live if uncured.
Mordecai has Sharky assense Granny’s body for magical traces of the prior disease, and finds them. With this information Sharky is sent to Hermasillo to scan the city for potential additional sacrifices. In the meantime, the warring parties decide to travel en masse – both Shadowrunner teams, and the Aztech mage – on MMFEC’s chartered flight. Granny will be kept unconscious for now, but Cromwell makes it clear any attempt to sacrifice her without consent will require Cromwell’s death or incapacitation first. This puts him at direct odds with Fang, who wants to sacrifice Granny to guarantee a cure for her brother and millions more like him.
Unfortunately, there is no easy solution and the assembled teams board the plane uneasy. Ma1nfram3 keeps to herself, bonding over deck repairs with the Decker and Rigger on the opposing team. Meanwhile Fang and Elsie get into a yelling match about relative moralities.
After sending a flare to his Bear Shaman contacts, Cromwell strikes up a conversation with the Aztech mage, asking if he can get a sample of the VITAS virus. Trolls and dwarves have some inherent resistance and better odds of survival – Cromwell is clearly thinking of himself as one of the sacrifices. The Aztech mage immediately stabs Cromwell to obtain the power he needs to scan for the availability of such a sample. This action causes Cromwell to lose consciousness – and no one immediately revives him for fear of his continued belligerence.
Still, the team argues. Blame is pointed everywhere. Fang is livid that the team won’t sacrifice Granny, Elsie is livid that the Aztech mage isn’t sharing information, and Ma1nfram3 lectures the team on jumping to solutions too fast. She won’t be able to sleep knowing that they saved one life at the cost of millions; but prior to that final sacrifice the team must be willing to pour as much energy and focus as possible into finding more palatable solutions that save those lives. The math is overwhelming. A few hours delay may mean hundreds of thousands of lives.
In the trailing hours of the 6-hour flight to Hermasillo, the team wears the mage Quamet down, and he eventually reveals that Granny Powell was formerly an Aztechnology employee who left on bad terms – meaning that Aztechnology had no reason to investigate any voluntary sacrifices as this one killed two birds with one deadly stone.
Over time, Sharky along with several additional efforts track 5 potentially viable survivors, though one appears to share alarming similarity to Fang’s aura. Mordecai also heals Cromwell again to prepare the team to hit the ground running.
When the plane lands, Quamet is able to provide Cromwell the VITAS sample he asked for. Before anyone can process what’s happening, Cromwell injects himself with the sample.
As the assembled mages throw up a physical barrier and rush in, we leave the rest of MMFEC facing a choice: risk their lives to retrieve willing sacrifices, or pursue the death of Granny Powell to save millions, perhaps at the cost of their partnership and consciences.
Due to technical difficulties, there are two videos this week: