Vanishing Shadows

   Since we’ve rotated back to Shadowrun (Third Edition with some revisions, such as the skills list since no one in the group likes Fourth Edition much), here’s a quick situation summary for the group.

The Current Player Characters:

   Eric Moore: An construction-and-demolitions engineer, Eric suffered massive injuries (being run over by a bulldozer) while working for Mitsuhama Computer Technologies, and accepted an experimental neuroborg transfer. Currently he’s doing high-risk security jobs for them, both because his new body is well suited for it and in hopes of paying off his debt quickly. Right now, he’s been assigned to collect a team (since none of the usual ones are available) and investigate the sixteen Type II disappearances which have occurred in the Mitsuhama Corporate Enclave – supposedly a high-security zone.

   Yuin Bishin: An early magical healer, who was swept up into the Chinese military just before China fell apart. He eventually faked his own death and escaped to Japan, where he fell in with the Yakuza, took a variety of jobs, acquired some cyberware – and started calling himself “The Ninja”, with an equal mixture of truth and sarcasm. He’s currently staying in Kimiko’s attic, where she took far longer than he would have thought to notice his presence.

   Kimiko Nelson: A (semi-)retired British Intelligence agent, Kimiko chose to settle down in the Seattle suburbs – of all places – and, after a few years of boredom, to take up a career as a private investigator/agent, calling in a few favors – and taking on owing a few more – to get her programs and gear updated.

   Samiel: A master sorcerer, Samiel has a confused past, a certain amount of amnesia, a mild obsession with water magic, a bad histroy with Aztechnology, a spotty local record, and extremely mercenary tendencies. At the moment, he’s officially working for Lone Star, since they’re recruiting any combat-capable mages they can right now.

   Stanley Sticks: A “heroic mercenary” Ace, with few other details available as yet.

   Currently the characters are engaged in investigating the Type II disappearances, on behalf of Lone Star and Mitsuhama – an occupation which is, at least for the moment, entirely legal. Of course, there are also the Type I, Type III, and Type IV disappearances to contend with – and the fact that suddenly the disappearance rate has shot up by a factor of twenty to fifty seems unlikely to be a coincidence, or due to any single simple source.

The Disappearances:

  • Type I (Guignol): Snatched off the streets, in widely-scatted, but usually low-security areas. Cases may be going unreported in the near-lawless areas. The victims are usually small children, although a few undersized older children have gone as well. There are occasional signs of a brief struggle (this may or may not be meaningful: signs of a possible struggle are not uncommon in most of the areas where this has been reported), but no outcries – at least beyond the usual – have been noted. A fair number of bodies have been recovered, all dismembered, and most apparently tortured and showing faint traces of healing magic. Most also show biochemical traces of tranq patches and/or narcojet. The perpetrator seems likely to be using more or less standard physical techniques in the abductions and the choice of victim appears to be simply a question of availability. These cases are a top priority with Lone Star: they seem likely to be amenable to more-or-less standard methods of investigation and are generating far too much publicity. Intensive computer analysis is currently underway, attempting to narrow the field of suspects via records analysis.
  • Type II (Agatha): Simple disappearances, with all technological means of surveillance simply going blank. The telling sign here is a “locked room mystery” involving a youth of under 17: the youngster or youngsters will be alone in a private or semi-private location, often – but not always – using a computer, the sensors covering the area briefly go blank, and when they start registering again, the youngster or youngsters are gone, with no record of them passing through any surrounding areas and no signs of violence. Fairly commonly, various personal items have gone missing as well. Some are apparently from corporate enclaves, but these are probably going unreported at the moment due to internal investigations. A few cases have been reported in temporarily-quiet areas of public malls, while possible similar cases involve youngsters who are simply off the grid at the moment – such as when visiting certain nightclubs. There is some statistical correlation with youthful interests in home simsense magical training, in becoming or meeting a shapeshifter, in body transformation surgery, in personal augmentation, in crystals and other “new-age” activities such as astral sight training, and in stress – such as being over-pressured or in bad home situations – but the sample may be contaminated, since those are common factors for many adolescents and often lead to “normal” disappearances. There are usually strong magical traces at the scene (when the scene can be identified), but no known personal signature. Type II is a lower investigative priority for Lone Star, since there isn’t even any real proof that a crime – other than running away and possibly aiding and abetting a runaway – is being committed.
  • Type III (Kali): This perpetrator seems to specialize in street gangs, usually those with unusually secure – and often semi-secret – bases of operations. The modus operandi is fairly easily to identify, and some voice recordings have been found – although never saying much besides a few initial exclamations of surprise and then occasional whimpering. The perpetrator seems to simply appear in the midst of the group, exercise some form of area-effect mind-control spell of great power, erects an astral barrier around the area, draws a magical circle, ritually strangles the victims (everyone present, regardless of age or sex), one by one, channeling the power from the sacrifices into the metaplanes in the process, and then wipes away the magical signatures left behind. Analysis suggests an Astral Master, with access to either Sorcery or Thaumaturgy (and probably Conjuration and Enchantment as well) with a fairly high level of initiation and probably with an Allied Spirit as well. While thanks to the choice of victims, relatively few cases have been reported, there have been several more than have reached the news. Another top priority investigation for Lone Star, and a reason for hiring combative mages of almost any description, since the vast majority of Lone Star’s resources cannot be effectively deployed to the astral plane.
  • Type IV (Vagrant): Quiet disappearances of adult street people and squatter families fall into this general category. Unfortunately, this is fairly common, and hard to sort out from ordinary crimes or from people simply leaving or going into hiding. Statistically, there has been a drastic upswing in the number of quiet disappearances however.
    • In most cases, people are simply disappearing, and are not seen again.
    • Some – a bit below the usual percentage – turn up as victims of the usual crimes; knifed over BTL chips or drugs, mugged, shot, etc, etc, etc.
    • A fair percentage turn up again eventually, after they come out of hiding. Whether fortunately or unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult for those without resources to flee Seattle entirely without taking an – eminently traceable – tube-train.
    • In a few cases, they have turned up dead, apparently having suffered some fairly drastic wounds from common weapons and unarmed techniques, and usually surrounded by the signs of a major struggle – atypical simply because of the amount of damage done.