The Tana Case Part 9.2

GM: Yin
Synopsis: This plot is a reaction to Lotus' abduction in "The Tana Case Part 8" and a direct sequel to the events in this plot. Walker, Dorian, and Yin are reacting quickly and track down Lotus' possible wherabouts. The pieces come together quite efficiently. The trail leads to Denver Tech South, where the kidnappers are holding Lotus captive in the basement of a former synthwood production facility. Dorian and Walker cut their way through and free Lotus and Nadine Wuang, the woman that got abducted together with Lotus.
Date: 2082-11-19

Scenes Merge: Fighting for Pema

«Plot» At this point, the scene merges with the end of "The Tana Case - Part 8" (Lotus' abduction).
«Plot» You paged (Varangian, Dorian, Walker) with 'Hey Pema-san! Could you join us with Pema? We won't pull it off completely today, since it's getting late, but I want to give Dorian and Walker some insight on what's happening on your end. And they are getting real close now… I think subtlety is getting blown in the wind every second now :D'.

Silence looms heavily over the whole building. Silence and darkness. Two sublevels below the surface of what once was a synthwood production facility in DTC South. But silence and darkness does not rule every corner, in fact.

A nearby chamber, constructed with desaster prevention in mind, has a ceiling of about four meters in height. There is only one human-sized door right beneath the ceiling. A rusty staircase runs down to ground level. Also, beneath the ceiling, close to the door, are huge wall breakthroughs that maybe once allowed pipes, cables and power supplies to connect to other facilities in halls beyond the door; given the old signs on walls and pillars, their prison once could have served as a chemical product chamber. And in this chamber there is the faint light of a gas lantern, and there is noise. Pema-san just flipped a table over, out of frustration. Tools of torture scattering across the floor. She is soaked, she is shivering, her clothes torn and stained. She still suffers from what these kidnappers did to her. But most of all: she feels trapped and desperate. Out of options. Because just in this very moment, the door that leads to the outside hall is opened again with a squeaking sound. The torturer is coming back. And when he sees what Pema had done, she'd be killed right away.

But then, suddenly, a loud, hollow crash rings through the halls of sublevel 2. A shattering sound of an elevator, crashing down in his shaft, tearing metal frames and sheets. The man who was just about to enter Pema's chamber sets one foot inside, then he stops and turns back his head, listening and readying his weapon.

The shotgun rips the bundle of cables to pieces, that runs down the stairwell right next to them. The shot is still ringing in their ears, and carried quite a distance within the stairwell and in the machinery hall. But the bright cone of infrared light that illuminates the lower end of the stairwell is still active…

As Dorian draws a bead on the cable and the echoes of the far crash fade, Walker extends a hand to the waiting spirit as though preparing for a ballroom routine. Anyone watching in astral space would see the two forms cohere, the shaman's fractally complex initiated aura enveloping and refracting the spirit's.

"Go…" more than one voice whispers as Walker takes off into the room ahead.

At the elevator, two massive spirits had materialized and almost completely embodied the crushing elevator in controled rage. So long abandoned! Soon after, they slip back into the astral world again, causing another ruckus of crashing metal and steel wires as their supporting presence disappears. Hurriedly, they scatter into the sublevel, looking for anything that might dare attacking the rescue team that did venture so deep into the ruins bowels.

Dorian looks first around the last corner of the stairwell, into the bright cone of the infrared spot that illuminates, with Walker already on the move close behind. What Dorian can see is a corridor of about five meters that opens directly into the main hall of sublevel 2. In the center of the open doorway there rests a wired light machine gun on a sentry mount, equipped with the IR spot. On the visible spectrum of light, the whole scene is still pitch black. But Dorian can spot it well. A small rotor drone is placed right next to the sentry gun, a cable connects both.

With lightning reflexes, Dorian fires two shots around the corner. The first one disables the IR spot, dipping everything in blackness again for him too, until his ultrasound vision might take over soon. But nevertheless, the second shot hit as well, pushing the small drone back on the concrete floor for a good distance.

The elf rounds the corner and takes careful aim at his two chosen targets, first render IR sensors and vision modifications useless, and the second to crack a shot at the spotter drone rigged on the LMG sentry. He uses the doorway as cover for now, not entirely sure the sentry was disabled. «Sentry turret with an LMG, don't feel too invincible.» He warns the spirt drugged Shaman.

Inside the cell, it seems that Pema has more or less lost hope. After turning the table over, she drops to her knees and buries her face in her hands. For all her talk about not being afraid to die, but when there's a sound at that door, the realisation that her captors will not spare her this time and that she's about to die hits her hard. Despite that, she refuses to die crying and begging for mercy. So, she lifts her face, joins her hands in prayer, and with a voice as loud as her frail and tortured body can handle, she recites the mantra of Chenrezig:

« Om Mani Peme Hum, Om Mani Peme Hum, Om Mani Peme Hum… »

A general recap: Lotus is trapped in a -2 level of a former synth-wood processing facility. On surface level, only a gutted three-story industry building remains, overgrown with thick brown grass, covered with sturdy patches of snow and ice. Electricity is down and after dark, the whole area becomes a black ghost town with very few roaming figures.

The second sublevel formerly housed fluid and and solid body chemical tanks and the processing arrays for the production of synthetic construction timber. The technology has long been outdated and everything worth a cent has been removed a decade ago. There are two large halls, which housed the processing facilities, and several smaller chambers of about 12 times 10 meters. These smaller chemical chambers are now stripped from almost all equipment. Lotus is held prisoner in one them. The only access to her chamber is a metal door right beneath the ceiling, four meters above floor level. A staircase runs down from the door. Besides several curious objects in the chamber, there is a sizable magical ward raised around the center of the hall. In dim light of a toppled gas lantern, Pema is kneeling on the stained floor, soaked, cold, but still reciting. Unbound she is, but somehow still imprisoned.

Outside of Pema's chamber, her friends are about to assault into one of the two large halls. With their main power line cut off by Dorian, the kidnappers who set up camp down here, currently rely on the minimal light that remains. A sphere-shaped tent sits somewhere in the dark, like a leftover refuge from some forgotten miners in their tunnels, on the dark side of the moon. The tent is large enough to house maybe ten people or more. Its central height is about 4 meters. There are no windows, but one entry, closed with a tarp. A heavily armored van is parked next to the tent, with its headlights cutting throught the darkness. And, as Walker could see earlier through his magic eye, armed and armored Chinese are about to move their important belongings and equipment from the tent to the van in a haste.

Only the van's headlights and the Chinese's dancing flashlights remain to illuminate the scene, everything beyond the immediate surroundings of the tent and van is pitch black. This little camp of theirs is sitting in a larger open spot among the facility installations, tanks, catwalks, and machinery that fills the rest of the hall, up to 6 meters in height; countless dark corners form this labyrinth, and from the elevator, where Walker and Dorian are about to enter, one can only see some reflections and erratic movements of the van's headlights and the kidnapper's flashlights up ahead. Tent and van are both not yet in direct line of sight.

What is visible to Walker and Dorian, however, is a sentry gun, mounted on a tripod and connected to a small rotor drone. This last line of defense, meant to shred unprepared intruders to pieces, is placed neatly in the opening that connects the stairwell and elevator to the dark hall beyond. The light machine gun's servo-motors are just about to react to Dorian's attack that destroyed the IR spotlight and damaged the attached rotor drone.

Dorian just engaged the sentry gun and reported its sighting to Walker, as the said light machine gun reacts to the attack. SUddenly, all hell breaks loose, as the sentry gun starts a suppressing fire across the end of the stairwell, firing explosive ammunition in full-auto mode. The noise is deafening and can be heard throughout the whole level of the basement.

Sliding up to the corner, Walker's invisible form peeks around the corner, eyes searching out the drone. After a moment of silence the thundering turret detaches from the ground and hurled through the air as if by the hand of an unseen giant. «Turret's out,» the shaman reports, «Moving in.»

Inside Pema's chamber, her torturer cringes and cowers as the massive hammering of the light machine gun echoes through the hall. "Dreck!", he yells, checking with his earpiece: "What the hell!" He probably got some response through his comms, because shortly after, he breaks into a sprint, down the stairwell towards Pema: "Yes, yes! I get them! Just sit tight and be ready to MOVE the shit out of here!" he replies on Cantonese while crossing the chamber. Then he realizes the scene in front of him: "What the…? How did you slip out of your chains, you Tibetan shit? And where is the media slut?" Then he approaches the circle maked by eight stacks of concrete tiles on the floor - and steps carefully inside, fingering for zip ties in his pocket.

The machine gun is 'out of action', but somehow still making some furious noise here. Hurled across the doorway and into the hall, it now fires across the derelict machinery and ceiling. Walker approaches, ignoring the risk of ricochets, while Dorian suddenly hears a voice over comms, a voice that speaks Cantonese: "You, have you taken the transceiver? Stop this madness immediately! What do you want?"

Pema, who is seated on her knees and almost doubled over from the excessive pain and fatigue that weighs down on her shoulder, looks up as her captor shows up. Her singing voice is sinking to a drawl, but she tries her best to keep it up, not stopping even as he comes down the stairs. She stares at him, trying to focus her power in one more act of defiance but to no avail. The pain gets to her, and she falls over to the side, staring up into the dark, concrete ceiling. "I hear gunfire," she says and coughs, looking barely unconscious at this point. "Is it the sound of your karma coming back for you?"

Over at the elevator, the machinge gun stops firing, trying to acquire a target and a confirmation on its very position. Then a cable is cut and the sentry gun goes limb, disconnected from its autosoft. Instead, the damaged drone that was dangling behind the sentry gun on a fiberoptic cable is suddenly free and starts to gain some altitude. Maybe some Rigger just took control and got quite disoriented from the mess he jacked into. The sentry gun, however, is no threat anymore.

Following after Walker down the short hallway entrance, Dorian takes the other wall so he can cover the other corner that is on the Shaman's blind side. The comms are briefly ignored as he raises up his shotgun, taking a first shot on the newly rigged in drone and slightly surprised to see it still standing after two shots, the elf takes a second one to ensure it's destruction. «The Osaka Twins do not like their turf being used like this.» He replies in japanese to the one at the other end of the comms. «Surrender now.» Spouting bullshit out of his ass, he wasn't going to let them know their intent so they end up in a hostage situation, and also possibly sending all the repurcussions towards the Yakuzas.

Walker hovers upwards, looking for the best way through the dark and rotten guts of this facility. The smell of oil, mold, metal, and gunpowder adds to the certain feeling that this all here takes place about 20 meters underground. Still invisible, he feels relatively safe and his higher ground allows him to see way more than from the floor down below. After about ten meters, the tent moves into line of sight. It's still illuminated but lacks any movement. The van next to it is just about to get the engine running. Where is everyone? And then, there: a movement from an elevated catwalk, about three meters above ground, betrays a human-sized figure. Shifting shadows also reveals to Walker that this person most likely is protected and camouflaged by some hearth spirit. Damn, this is a very good ambush position above the most obvious path from the elevator to the tent.

Zeroing in on the creeping figure, Walker murmurs a grudgingly impressed curse in Ute before fixing his vision on the figure and letting the spirit's power surge out of him, engulfing their mind with vertigo as the shaman flits forward. «One target on the left catwalk, well-hidden,» he reports to Dorian, «Got 'em confused but not downed yet.»

Downstairs. Unknown to Pema - and her torturer -, someone else suddenly reappears from the shadows, sneaking up on the grim Chinese who is about to restrain Pema again. It's Nadine Wuang, who indeed followed Pema's earlier order and advise to hide herself behind the water tank, the moment the door opened and the torturer came back. "Stay away from her, you sucker!", she hisses and somehow attacks him from behind. Pema is able to hear him growling and shaking. Lian Wu turns around in rage, slapping Nadine across the face. This sends her flying backwards, against the water tank. The torturer touches his chest, shaking off what appears to be the aftermath of a taser attack. Then he moves towards Nadine, who's slipping down on the ground, shrieking desperatly: "Yangchen! Please, do something! Don't give up!" With her leg bleeding again, she looks up at her assailant, only her bare hands put up in defense.

On the catwalk, the Chinese man is well hidden, but also well confused. However, he manages to get an answer out to Dorian, first, and then to his friends: "Osaka Twins? To hell with you guys. We'll come back to you soon enough!", he almost yells, then, more quietly, but still for Walker to hear, on Cantonese: "We move out, flatline both of them, and then get out!"

For a moment, Pema looks like she's just ready to lie down and accept that she has failed and there's no way for her to overpower the man. Her eyes are half-closed, her head resting against the cold concrete floor. However, as Nadine leaps out from the shadows in a desperate show of defiance, her eyes open again. She bites her lip, making a grimace of pain and raises the hand she's not lying upon. She whimpers out a Dharani of strength, the wraithful Dharmakaya of Vajrakila that strikes down at the enemy of the true doctrine, and reaches out to touch one of the concrete blocks nearby. The dead object is suddenly filled with immense spiritual energy and launches out into the air, hidding the man straight in the back, the force of the blow enough to knock the wind out of him and send him reeling, coughing and wheezing in pain.

Moving through the ruined facility is straightforward. The lights up ahead make a good guiding beacon. Dorian passes several huge and powerful spotlights on his way, probably set up in a haste, to blind and confuse the advance of the intruders. But they remain dark, cut off from the primary power supply.

Dorian spares a glance upwards to see if he can spot the concealed one, but with no luck, he simply decides to stick to the shadows and continue his approach into the room proper. «All yours, can't see 'em.» He relays to the Shaman, deciding to keep his focus on what may come ahead of them, with his shotgun held up and ready.

Near the vault of the ceiling, an unseen figure's hands flick through a complicated set of geometric gestures before one pulls back to touch a concealed sheath beneath their long coat. With his whole body describing the shape of a drawn bow, Walker's hand flicks out, a blade seemingly appearing in mid-air and streaking forth into the nest above Dorian's head. With nowhere to go, the figure is helpless as the gleaming edge punches through armour, flesh and bone to puncture the heart.

As the shroud around them fades, the shaman, breathing a little heavier, relays. «Down. Spirit either pulled back or that was their mage.»

«Plot» Yin says, "So, the camp lies down silently and calm. But Walker now spots a heavy metal door in a concrete wall, about 15 meters away from the camp. Dim light shines through the gap. Also, since Walker is now deeper into the sublevel, he can see that there is a full-sized, paved street running through the hall, roughly beneath the street that runs in front of the building above. There must be some kind of tunnel system down here, big enough for mid-sized trucks, even"

Floating unseen over the makeshift encampment, Walker surveys the scene with a frown. «Not much happening,» he comms to Dorian, subvocalising the words through his throat mic, «Looks like we've got light in a side passage a set of underground roads or something.»

«Still 5 unconfirmed. Rigger somewhere, someone jacked in the drone. Could be in the truck.» Dorian comms back, keeping a slow steady approach to the shadows to avoid standing out and eating a hail of bullets. He uses the environment and the darkness to his advantage, trying to keep as best cover options as possible.

The Scales Tip Towards the Heroes

The light illuminates the tent, as Walker and Dorian approach. The van is a little bit further, but just standing there, with the engine running by now. Dorian suddenly can hear a whispered hiss over his comms, probably not intended to be broadcasted on that channel: "Wei Wei is down. Damn it. I'm out of here. - You hear that, you scum out there. Take the day, I don't care. Go, pop some Red Dragon kneecaps if you want, I don't care."

Shortly after, another voice can be heard: "Damn it all…" Then the van's engine howls up and it starts to move out with burning tires, about six meters away from Dorian and about 10 from Walker. A third voice chimes in, breathing heavily: "You cowards! - The - family will hunt you down!", a cough "You can't leave the shrine here!"

The moment the vehicle starts up and begins to peel away, Dorian instinctively raises his shotgun towards the tires and lets loose a duo of slugs towards them. The silenced shotgun shots still echo in the tunnel, briefly lighting up the area for a short moment. But it pays off, one tire immediately popping as the Shaman garauntees their failure and begins coating the street in ice.

Almost as though in concert with Dorian, Walker's hands sweep out in broad, sweeping gestures this time as he sighs ahead of the van. Breath condenses in the air as the temperature plummets and a slick layer of ice covers the ramshackle street.

The driver pulls out at slow speed, onto the underground roadway, suddenly confronted with a tight situation. The tail wiggles, then spins. He tries to counter the sudden movement, he does well! Then the driving conditions change dramatically! Warning signals pop up, damage reports racing through his brain, then, suddenly, a solid 'oomph' as the van hits the concrete wall across the roadway. The brake lights are still glowing red, and a continuing honking rings through the hall.

Despite all the pain and fatigue in her body, Pema staggers up to her feet after launching the brick. It's like it's just pure adrenaline keeping her up now, pure survival instinct. Bereft of a weapon, she quickly looks around and finds the electric saw-blade he had used to torture Nadine with before. Without any hesitation, she reaches out to grab it then rushes towards Nadine and Lian who are now on the floor. She turns on the saw, that begins to emit a wicked mechanical hiss, and then proceeds to plunge the blade straight into Wu's back. The sound goes up a pitch as it begins to tear into him, and although most of it seems to simply dig into whatever armour he's wearing under the jacket, it eventually begins to grind into his flesh, throwing up a trickle of blood that lands on Pema's once pure white blouse.

Darting forwards through the air towards the crashed vehicle steaming as the heat from the engine vies with the ice, Walker's eyes narrow as they scan for movement. «Will try and keep one alive to find out where she is,» he sends to Dorian, «Or I can try feeling it out like a spirit.»

«Roger that, I'll head for the door.» Dorian comms back, keeping his posture low as the ruthenium coating on the cloak imitates his surroundings via the image scanners weaved into the fabric. His shotgun is flipped to the side and a daft hand begins to manually load in some shells into the weapon as he begins his steady approach.

Ass he drifts over the makeshift camp and approaches the red lights of the van, Walkers arms fling wide, hands describing beckoning gestures in the air to draw another spirit towards him.

When the tangled mass of metal manifests before him, the shaman gives it a quick nod in greeting and speaks quickly. "Follow the elf over there. Manifest so he can see you and lead him to Chinquapin," he instructs, using the old Algonquin translation of Pema's shadow name as the one with the strongest resonances in his mind to imprint it upon the spirit.

«Got you an assistant,» he sends to Dorian, «Might make things simpler.»

With the shotgun loaded and racked up and after sparing a glance at the table of various goods to go through later, Dorian turns his attention back to the door and begins his approach. Though so with much littering the ground, it's hard to keep it full stealthy. «Rightio. Bunch of shit at the tent, some of it might be Pema's foci. The van might have more in it.»

«We promise not to burn it all to cinders,» Walker's voice comes back, some odd distortions creeping into the commlink.

Below Walker, the van still has its engine running, brake lights on red, steam coming from the hood. But nothing else is happening so far. The driver might as well be unconscious, dead, or doing Rigger things. He's certainly not leaving the vehicle right now.

Staring fixedly at the van, Walker's hands seem to blur the air in front of him as their invisible shape eddies the air. After a moment of focus, the battered vehicle detaches itself from the ground and drifts leisurely into the air, pitching forward to point its nose at the ground as it goes.

From the shadows off to the sides of the makeshift roadway, large shapes move ominously towards the light. Twisted metal pipes and sheets, the fossilised remains of the place's former function, have been reforged into long-limbed and spindly humanoid forms. Taller than a troll and with huge clawed hands that rake the ground, the spirits stalk towards the floating van, blazing eyes cast upwards like hungry animals awaiting their meal. As the vehicle tilts over, one fixes its gaze on where the windscreen should be and opens its maw to reveal a mouth like a nightmarish woodchipper.

Lotus Saved

Dorian enters what once was a secure chamber for chemical tanks. Tanks removed, he now looks down into a huge hall, entering it on a catwalk at about four meters above ground. There are some massive concrete pillars supporting the ceiling, and a staircase is running down to ground level. Central feature that immediately catches the eye is a dimly lit, serious scene: Within a circle of about 10 meters in diameter, marked by a white line on the concrete floor, and eight stacks of small concrete tiles, a gas lantern lies on the ground, shedding light on a struggling Pema, cutting away on some man clad in black, who basically cowers over another woman, lying flat on the remains of a table. The latter is kicking and flailing for her dear life. This curious circle they are fighting in also holds a chair, a metal pole that runs from ceiling to floor, a massive water tank, and some kind of portable shrine, immitating a Chinese building, a temple maybe. It is also glowing with a faint orange color. This model of a shrine is about the size of a table, portable by two men, probably. Pema is in an aweful state, that's pretty obvious, even from 10 meters away. She's soaked to the bones, her clothes torn and her movements fueled by desperation and adrenaline. She wields a handheld meat-cutter, grinding her way through the aggressors armored vest.

The woman below the man is Nadine Wuang. Usually a chinese beauty and one of the well known news anchors for the Huang Hun News Show, broadcasted from Denver's Asiantown. Her long black hair, usually woven into artistic headresses that immitates past eras of chinese history, is now in disarray, stained, torn, wet. Her suit is torn open as well, her skirt partially soaked with water and maybe blood. Her shoes are gone, stockings ripped. A ghastly gash spilled blood from her upper left leg all the way fown to her feet. However, the wound has been treated to some degree, stopping the flow of blood for now. But that's probably
something to discover at a later time for Doran.

The barrel of the shotgun is used to pry open one of the two metallic doors that hold the light within at bay and immediately guide Dorian's vision as he sweeps through what is within. It takes but a fraction of a second to get a good read on the situation, seeing the two battered women fighting off an armed Triad goon. The sight of Pema's poor state is more than enough to not want to even attempt a negotiation with him and get straight to business. He takes but a moment to steady his aim, finding the right angle in the mess of a melee to avoid harm to the other two, and when he finds it, the trigger is pulled sending a loaded APDS slug straight through the man's head, showering the ladies with some additional gore. «Found her. Two vics, both in sorry shape. Perp dead, two left to confirm.»

The shot rings with a shudder past Lotus' shoulder, and suddenly the man's head explodes. Nadine Wuang is shrieking in defiance, and continues to flail and get this dead body off from herself. Luckily, this masterful shot's trajectory moves past Nadine Wuang's head. The torturer is dead. Whoever pulled the trigger, he found the right target for now.

Pema doesn't even register that someone has entered the room; she's struggling for her and Nadine's life, even though her emaciated body lacks the strength to bury the saw deeper to do much damage. And then, suddenly, Lian Wu's head explodes, covering Pema's face and the few white spots left on her blouse red with blood. Her eyes widen and she stops, the saw still buried in the man's back as he falls over. She looks up, her expression almost delirious at this point, whereupon she recognises her knight in shining armour. She drops to her knees the adrenaline keeping her going wears off, just silently raising a hand towards Dorian. "Don't come closer… vengeful spirit…" she whimpers out, her words broken up by coughing. The hand lowers, and points towards the shrine.

In the room above, the van is now upside-down, Walker casually perusing it's hopefully less-armoured belly for the location of the fuel tank. Letting his invisibility relax for now, he calls out in Mandarin, then Cantonese. "Come out of the van or I will burn you out. I have no patience for this." With the oddly formal tone resulting from the accurate but uninflected vocabulary of the mnemonically enhanced, the ultimatum could be a weather report if it weren't for the chilling delivery.

The van's driver is actually quite alive - and desperately out of options. An external speaker announces on Chinese: "By all spirits! I… I, surrender! I'm only the driver! Settle me down already, I… I'll climb out, I'll cooperate!" The voice is transduced, but transports fear and nervousness just fine.

"Ohayo, Pema-chan! You ladies okay?" The elf steers clear of the circle for now, but does take a moment to descend into the room and stay at the edge of the drawn circle. "Vengeful spirit you say hmm? Well I brought a friend who's pretty good with those." The disguised elf keeps up his act, speaking with an accented english, though in the mean time does take a moment to examine the layout of the shrine, the circle, and the stones. He may not be a wiggler, but he does have some book smarts on the subject. «<Gonna need you in here, something about a spirit.»

«Plot» Yin says, "Dorian spots some detail, but if it serves him well to understand the situation? The eight stacks of tiles funnily look like I Ging trigrams, built with mundane concrete tiles. Probably not his expertise? The shrine is exactly what it appears to be: a very detailed model of Chinese architecture, with courtyard, modelled trees and much more. Hm, could be everything, actually. Maybe a focus or fetish?"

Nadine Wuang is pushing aside the bleeding corpse and, shakingly, raises to her feet, limping. Stabilizing herself against the massive water tank of about her own size, she tries to get a grip on the situation: "Who are you? Yangchen, you know him?" Slowly, hope creeps up on her.

Outside, the driver will eventually try to climb out, which poses a challenge. It takes about half a minute, then he jumps down on the ice sheet, surrendering and pulling up his hands as good as he can. He is a CHinese of about thirty years, black hair in a thick braid. He wears a heavy, black coverall and sends his pistol flying over the ice sheet.

«Just tidying up up here, be down in a sec,» Walker sends in reply as he descends towards the driver, a blazing-eyed figure that speaks in two voices. "WhERe is thE fOUrth of yoU?" Though the driver won't notice the difference, anyone who'd heard the shaman and his totem previously would probably be wondering why the two voices were talking in harmony.

Pema draws a deep breath in relief, reaching up with a hand to wipe blood off her face. She turns over to Nadine, having almost forgotten about her in the moment, but she forces a smile. "I know him, yes," she says, using English this time. "Walker is here too?" she says, looking over at Samurai Steve. Her eyes are almost crossing at this point, and it looks like she's about to lose consciousness at any moment.

The van's driver doesn't even try to get on his feet, he looks up at Walker, in some disbelief: "The fourth…?" First he doesn't seem to understand, then he adds quickly: "He sneaked off, when the machine gun started. I don't know where he is. He was supposed to lay down, to ambush. I don't think we'll see that happen!"

"Samurai Suteiibu at your service!" A salute coming from the ruthed figure, the hand breaking the monotony of the coating as it reveals part of the figure concealed inside. "You two sit down and take it easy.." He unslings his pack and opens it up as he kneels down on the ground. He pulls out a Savior Medkit, tossing it across the circle's threshold and into the enclosure with the two ladies inside. "Here, use this to treat yourselves if need be while we figure this out. Backup is on the way in a few moments, so sit tight for now." The elf rises back up, and with the shotgun ready he poses by the door and keeps a lookout outside, incase their missing perp happens to show up.

While the fighting is over and a conversation is about to unfold between Pema, Dorian, and Nadine, suddenly the light starts to shift, shadows change. The orange light from the miniature temple is diminished by some other source of white, bright light. The source of the white light is a magical phenomenon next to the little shrine, a gleaming cylinder that reaches from the ground to the ceiling, with particles of pure white moving upwards. Within this enlightened elevator, a human figure appears in a haze, floating in midair. The white of his clothes, hair, and skin almost make it appear translucent, but the features of an old Chinese man in official robes are plainly visible. A long mustache frames his lips; reaching down to a long forked goatee. The hair is tied into a solid topknot.

The appearance of the old Chinese man has Pema shielding her eyes, and it seems to unnerve her so much she even attempt to crawl away from it. She doesn't say anything to it either, and when she doesn't have anywhere left to crawl, she curls up in a near-fetal position, as if expecting the spirit to attack at any moment.

"And this must be him." Samurai Steve comments as the Spirit manifests itself out of the shrine. The shotgun is left dangling around his neck as he lifts both hands to show the 'unarmed' universal tongue, not like it mattered against some spirits but immediately they return back into his cloak. One hand grasping a piece of cloth and keeping a clutch on it. «<Spirit showed face.»> He first comms to Walker via transducing before speaking aloud to the spirit. "Ohayo! It seems as though your friends have no directives to give you anymore, care to return home?"

Indeed, on Chinese, the apparition hums in a deep and rough voice on Chinese: "Hmhmhm", he shakes his head, face pityful, as he looks down at crawling Pema and retreating Nadine Wuang; then: "So, you killed my offspring…" Sadness it is, what his voice conveys, and he then turns his gaze on the dead man next to them, "…and his lackeys." Maybe it comes as a surprise, but he doesn't show intentions to attack or aggress. He rather appears serene and calm. "So much trouble, so much energy to get here, so much lives lost in vain. For questionable purposes. It is a shame. At least I'm free to return, and hope for better days to come for my kin." He then addresses Pema directly, after he acknowledges Dorians deeds and words with a nod: "I am sorry, for your pain, my offspring inflicted on you." Then he simply disappears, reaching upwards, leaving the scene behind, searching for daylight above - and a world beyond.

«Plot» Yin says, "Even though one hostile is missing, it's safe to say that you rescued Pema and solved the situation well. I encourage you to just continue with your RP. I'll be here to react if you need me for anything or want to investigate."

Pema doesn't really acknowledge the spirit, though she does uncurl from the fetal position and instead just lies flat on the floor. She looks utterly exhausted. She closes her eyes, and from there it's hard to tell if she loses consciousness or not because she just lies still, in silence.

It is Nadine Wuang who lowers down, picking up the Savior Medkit Dorian tossed inside the ring, and starts to take care of Pema: "Yangchen, please, don't drift away now, stay awake. You saved me, freed me, just hold tight a while longer…" She starts to attach the sensors and start up the medkit.

"Good," is Walker's only response to the man's reply before twin lances of blinding light flash from his eyes, burning the unfortunate driver's eyes and brain away before the pain can even register. As the corpse collapses to the ground, the shaman turns to the two large spirits that still wait. "Find the last one and kill him."

Aggressilvely, the spirits disappear and start to clean up their house, looking, snooping around between the facilities, air shafts, catwalks, tunnels, offices, and hallways.

With that grim duty discharge he flits towards the sliver of light visible through the door. «On my way. What's happening?»

Samurai Steve follows the spirit as he ascends away, "Charming fellow, saved me twenty grand for being a pacifist.." The piece of cloth is released from his clutch before he turns his attention back to the two, "Shining Mountain are not far away, they'll close in on the area and get you some proper care. But before that, it would be wise for me and my friend to vanish." The elf examines the room real quick before walking over to the corpse, going through the man's pockets for some possible credsticks, ID, affiliation, pocsec to trace text and phone calls.. The whole nine yard for some follow up scum cleaning. "Pema, you think you can walk?"

«Spirit decided to bug out, Pema's hurt but nothing a good week's rest can't help. The other seems in no threat for her own life either.»

Dorian searches the dead fellow. The torturer, who went by the name of Lian Wu, has a SIN of the same name, a pocket computer, some spare ammo, a curved knife, and two grenades on his body.

A bit of shaking is enough to get Pema's consciousness drifting back to this world, but it's still hanging on by a thread. She moves, opens her eyes and attempts to stand up once more, but she stumbles and falls over again, as if her body lacks the strength to stand. She doesn't seem to have any actual wounds; it's difficult to tell when she's covered in blood but not even the medkit does manage to register any bleeding or trauma on her. Her pulse is low, though, and she's suffering from hypothermia after long-term cold water torture. She's probably not going to walk on her own.

Nadine tries her best, pulling off her suit jacket - at least left mostly dry - and tries to offer Pema some warmth: "Not sure how to help her." She just takes comfort herself, by comforting Pema, and starts to move her towards the exit. She seems to understand what Dorian's words implied: "Come on, the Mountain is coming, let's get us upstairs, quickly."

The tent outside holds everything you'd need to set up a semi-permanent camp out here. Battery packs, lighting, cosy chambers to sleep in, gas-powered and electrical heaters, some mobile cyberterminal and quite a bunch of surveillance equipment. The place has been rigged well, but mostly above ground. Also, there is everything to set up and maintain lodges and wards, and some expendable foci. Also, lots of intel, most likely. Laptops, pocsecs, optical chips. And, last but not least: Pema's personal belongings.

«Small mercies…» Walker remarks as he flits into the torture chamber. The sight of the two women brings him up short, the fire dying in his eyes as the spirit he was channeling departs. After a few deep, gasping breaths, he floats down to the floor and pulls his long coat off to wrap about Pema's shoulders, smiling a thank you to Nadine as he motions her to keep her own jacket on. "Gave us a scare there," he says quietly with a sad smile to the exhausted Tibetan.

«Plot» Dorian will apply some disinfectant solution synthesized from the Savior kit on both Nadia and Pema, escort them upstairs, clear some loot (mainly the intel and surveillance equipment (up to you what he quickly rummages) And the guy passed out in the snow outside gets to meet his maker on the way out. The grenades, the scroll from earlier are kept.. The G38 is gonna be fenced, and anything else worthy of being fenced.
«Plot» Walker says, "Cleanup-wise, Walker will do some sterilise casting and Cleansing to get rid of as much of the traces of Dorian and himself that he can."
«Plot» Yin says, "Alright, noted. Also, Yin will certainly take care that evidence is accessable and all involved are free from problems, Mountain-wise"
«Plot» Yin says, "This was, after all, a favor towards local authorities"
«Plot» Dorian says, "Oh! Likely not in the same day, but Dorian will return to the little gathering of Koreans he got the info from originally and offer the old guy with a limp some free treatment at his clinic."

Follow-Up News Flash

Posted By: Yin (#9019)
Date/Time: Mon Feb 13 15:00:50 2023
Subject: Hostage Situation Solved

«< Huang Hun News Show - Asiantown - Denver - The World »>

Good evening, citizens of Denver. This is the Huang Hun eight pm news flash.

Let's start with an internal announcement of utmost importance. Two hours ago, our well know and beloved Huang Hun host, Nadine Wuang, has been freed from the grip of criminals who kidnapped her yesterday morning, while she left her home in Mid-Chinatown.

While she were first reported on sick leave, suspicions were raised by friends and security personel. Then, earlier today, a recent guest of Nadine Wuang's evening talk also went missing. Several reports about a public kidnapping in bright daylight soon reached the local police forces.

Both women were held captive in an underground facility in Denver Tech South. Due to the quick and courageous intervention of Shining Mountain forces and private investigation partners, Nadine Wuang and her former guest, the Tibetan woman Yangchen, could be saved from the criminals.

Shining Mountain Supervisor Leng detailed that the abduction of both women is ascribed to a crminal fringe group from mainland China, working towards the destabilization of the local authority in Denver Asiantown. Evidence suggests their involvement with the so called Triad Eighty-Eight.

The motivation behind the abduction seems to be the attempt to strike at one of Asiantown's most famous and respected media figure, and the Tibetan diaspora, which received - together with other minorities - a lot of recent attention and support from Asiantowns authorities.

While all offenders died during the swift Shining Mountain operation, Nadine Wuang and Yangchen could be rescued unharmed and in good health.

We are looking forward to see our respected colleague return to where she belongs to; she'll be opening the Huang Hun News Show evening program again tomorrow.

Nadine, we wish you all the best!

((The news flash briefly shows archive pictures of Lotus as "Yangchen" and Yin as private investigator, both easily identifiable with an Intelligence Test vs. 4, if known personally ))

«< Next: Corporate Affairs - New corporation expected to move in… »>

Follow-Up Rumour

You receive word from Asiantown citizen (Mon Feb 13 15:08:29 2023):

« Shop Owner » "Shootout at Denver Tech South? Yeah sure. Shining Mountain arrived way too late. This abduction of the news anchor and the other one, that got solved personally, if you ask me. The Mountain simply cleaned up the mess."

« Customer » "Triad war then? Or Yakuza?"

« Shop Owner » "Nah, not every body breaks loose a war. I think someone called in the professionals from the shadows. A friend of mine told me about some weird figures, poking around where they kept them women hostage. A peddler was seen, you've heard about him?"

« Customer » "A peddler?"

« Shop Owner » "Yeah. With a coolie hat and AR goggles. He was around, I swear! You better stay indoors these days. I tell you, the news is telling us shit about the truth. The real problem is still out there: it's street justice, and they ain't doing dreck about it, because they can't!"

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