Five Minutes To Midnight

Episode 1: Tightening Belts

RECAP:

  • About a month ago, the Tanuki Trading House got rolled by a Qing-Sweeper alliance
  • Food is now growing scarce.
  • The Blackwoods find that a number of former Tanukis are coming to them for medical attention. Vincent hears from his contacts that a number of the Tanukis escaped death, far more than the Qings and Sweepers want to admit.
  • Treating two of them — a woman with a burned face, and a strung-out man, Hilly hears that she is planning to track down where the Tanukis hid their stash and sell it to Fabrication.
  • One morning, the Blackwoods are interrupted by a delicious smell: the Calicos are having a barbeque.
    – Flick goes to chat with the Chrome Lotus and see if they’ve got an answer. She meets with Kain and a highly borged Lotus devotee called Xiu Xin. They offer her a proposal: prices are being driven up because the Qing have a monopoly, but if Flick can figure out a Parkourier route across Qing territory, then they can buy from the Sweepers instead. Flick promises that the Blackwoods will help them.
    – Lottie goes to speak with Rusty Joe, in the unclaimed territory near the corp outposts. Vince comes with her. Joe doesn’t know anything about the lack of food, but he talks about a new guy, Williamson, who has the current shift manager rattled.
    – Monty goes to find his son, Ferris. He’s not at home; he’s at the Calico barbeque. Monty decides to go to the Calico barbeque.
    – Hilly is also sneaking into the Calico BBQ. She comes across a flyer for it: “Bring a bottle; All Welcome; No Blackwoods.” She sees Monty heading for the gates, and decides not to intervene.
    – Monty reaches the gates and asks to see his son. The Calico guards tell him to piss off. He doesn’t, and the guards start beating on him. He’s tough enough to hold them off, but there are more Calicos showing up.
    – The rest of the Blackwoods, having heard that Monty is in trouble, show up to save his skin. After a tense confrontation, they extract Monty at the expense of jokes about Vincent, who is visibly fuming.
  • Saul, the Blackwoods’ contact in Steve, answers Vince’s call and shows up.
    – The Blackwoods try to talk him into helping them with food. They offer a promise of uncovering the Tanukis’ stash in return.
    – Saul tells them the problem isn’t the Qings price-gouging; it’s that Reclamation are playing the Qings and Sweepers off against each other, tricking them into a bidding war for the food shipments. Steve wants to disrupt Reclamation, so that Haulage can play the same game, but he needs the Tanukis’ ledgers, which he believes are with the stash.
    – Saul agrees to ensure that the Blackwoods can eat, in exchange for their commitment to finding the Tanuki ledgers.
    – “Oh… one more thing.” The Tanukis used to hold one of Haulage’s Grid nodes, and one of their men, Loser Kai, was the sysadmin. Steve needs a new admin to keep an eye on Haulage’s Grid presence and remove any digital graffiti, etc. The Blackwoods agree to do this. Vince appoints one of the kids, Duo, to oversee it.
  • The party decide to try to track down the woman with the burned face as their best lead on the Tanuki Stash.
    – After passing through Qing territory and making a search of the unclaimed area to the north, they find a Sweeper patrol closing in on a lockup. They get there ahead of the Sweepers and find the woman, who has been beaten up and is too badly injured to walk. Monty tries to carry her away, but the search has exhausted him — he’s not strong enough, and stumbles and falls. With the Sweepers closing in, Vincent persuades her to divulge the location of the stash, but Monty and Flick are unwilling to abandon her to a Sweeper patrol, and the Blackwoods — reluctantly — prepare to face the music.
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