Five Minutes To Midnight

Episode 4: Twisting the Arm

Lottie approaches the family over breakfast with a series of magazine cut-outs detailing cybernetic arms she’s been researching: a cheaper model with a built-in flamethrower and a more advanced, stronger one.

Checking his sources, Vincent recalls that Rusty Joe was seen recently trying to sell the mire expensive model. Firebug sends Flick over to Joe’s to make the deal, while she prepares Joe’s payment in Yellow Bensons.

As Flick heads out, she notices that Stack 9 at the northwest of Blackwood territory has been painted with Calico tags. She tries to get the full story, but Stack 9 seem unwilling, for now, to talk.

Making the deal with Joe, Flick is troubled when she realises the arm that he’s selling (for drugs) is his own. Uncomfortable with the prospect of buying a man’s arm for drugs, she promises Joe that she’ll find him a replacement.

Back at the Blackwood’s, Vince is approached by Theresa Coetzee, a representative of the Blackwood tenants. Theresa tells him that Stack 9 were convinced by the Calicos that the food shortage was due to Vinces senility, and advises Vince to step down as the Blackwoods’ public leader — at least for the time being. Vince reluctantly agrees, leaving Monty in charge.

Having realised the value of the arm that the family have purchased from Joe, Vince resolves to sell it on rather than offer it to Lottie. Monty checks in with Xiu Xin and Levi at the Chrome Lotus, who are more interested in Flick’s previous promise to arrange a parkourier route importing food from the Sweepers; Monty promises that Flick will be around that evening to arrange it.

Checking the arm, Xin isn’t convinced by Monty’s story that it was purchased from one of his patients, and calls him on his lies. Monty admits the truth, and Xin is far more hesitant to buy at full price; although, he says, he will do so if the Blackwoods persuade the Fu family on their territory to convert to the Lotus.

Vince hatches a plan to solve the family’s problems: clearing Tent City to the southeast so that the Sweepers can import food and discrediting the Calicos. The family will seed rumours that the Calicos are offering another free barbeque, getting all of Tent City to attend. While Tent City are causing trouble for the Calicos, Blackwood tenants will move in and take their land, and Vince will instigate an incident between the Corp enclave and the Calicos on the north edge of Calico turf.

Vince meets with Williamson, an ambitious and openly corrupt corpacop, to discuss this. Williamson speaks of his disdain for his superior, Ivanovich, and his desire to gain power in Haulage far from corporate eyes. He agrees to warn Ivanovich of a potential riot in Calico turf and manipulate Ivanovich into firing on civilians, if Vince can arrange an agent provocateur in the Calico crowd to fire first. Williamson promises Vince a prosthetic arm from supplies if he can carry through.

As the Blackwoods are making their final preparations, they are interrupted by a furious Saul backed by some mercenary muscle. Saul demands to know why the Blackwoods have graffitied the sky with a reference to the letter to K — graffiti which Vince inadvertently created with admin rights, so it’s traceable to him — and where the letter is. The Blackwoods hand it over and Saul burns it; Vince says they were trying to smoke out whoever had written it. They also hand over the Tanuki dossier, and Saul leaves, unaware that Vince has made his own copy…

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