21 Aug 2014

By the Numbers Chapter 20 - Commentary

Welcome back!  As always, please read the chapter first.  I'll be referring to it anyway.

In chapter 19, we saw Numbers and Oswald's portion of the run, the extraction of Ms Evo from her place of employment.  It wasn't a voluntary extraction.  This chapter looks at the other half of the run, the getaway.

The chapter's title is from an older song, "Breaking Up is Hard to Do".  Apologies for that earworm.  It sums up the situation well.  Most shadowruns in-game have the problem of getting out.  Usually, the team of PCs has finally set off an alarm, alerting security.  Security's response depends on the value of the facility, the value of the work done at the facility, and the value of the employees.  A team of runners breaking into a nondescript warehouse to retrieve a copy of a bill of lading might only get Knight Errant out with a ten minute response time.  At the other extreme, Mitsuhama's Zero Zones, where nothing gets in and nothing gets out, have security that is highly motivated and equipped with the best gear around, including armed drones, mages with bound elementals, and guards in heavy armour toting assault cannons.  With Evo, the security is there, but the area is residential.  Employees tend to have poor morale when guards in armour patrol the hallways and demand papers in every corridor.

Treehugger and Charles are the exit strategy for the run.  The elf wanna-be is the getaway driver, like most riggers are.  Without a team to drive away with, though, all she can do is wait for the signal.  Treehugger is a little antsy; part of it comes from the cyberware she has.  Neural control over a vehicle combined with a love for the rush of speed means it's hard for her to sit down when needed.  To contrast, Charles has extensive experience in just waiting.  Bodyguard work tends to be reactive, though a good team of runners will do some work to find out where potential problems are and remove them before they become kinetic.

The exit plan depends on bureaucracy and paperwork.  With her step-van disguised as a courier's van, Treehugger can flash fake IDs at the guards while wearing a uniform that strengthens the ruse.  In a world where business is global and corporations never sleep, a late night courier run doesn't look odd.  With corporate espionage around, though, security still needs to be prudent.  But it's not the guards Treehugger has to fool.  They're looking for the proper codes.  The loading dock supervisor is the one who can spoil the run.  Treehugger's goal is to appear to be another corporate cog.  A human with pointed ears might be noticed, thus she's tucked the tips into her hair and into her cap.

Charles, in the meantime, gets to be the point of contact for everyone.  Treehugger should be busy with the workers in the loading dock; answering a call will raise suspicion.  If Charles is tracked, he's mobile enough with his motorcyle to find a new location while remaining in contact with Numbers and Oz.

The ruse can only last so long.  There's either a package or there isn't.  Treehugger's conversation with Charles lets her get the update to him while still acting as if she's talking to her dispatch.  Treehugger's main role is rigger, as mentioned above and in previous commentaries.  She is also a decent hand with computers.  Not necessarily to the same degree as Numbers, the hacker, but Treehugger can fake data enough to fool the casual observer.  The buzz on her commlink worked to her advantage; she received data, just not the data the supervisor expected.  There will be a report filed by supervisor about the missing package, but by the time someone thinks to check it, Ms Evo should be in downtown Berlin.

I had a troll supervisor on the loading dock to remind readers that trolls are more than just street muscle.  Trolls are in most walks of life, being absent from executive and most upper management levels.  The supervisor here worked his way up to his position.  Again, yet another incidental character with a backstory.  It's a fun way to populate a story, but it does take a bit of time to work out while writing.  In the outline, I just make note that the guy in charge is a troll, with no other notes.  Between the time when the outline was written and when the scene was, some thought had occurred about why the troll was there.

The Tim's on Aberdeen doesn't exist.  The coffee shop's name comes from Tim Horton's, a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain that has more stores than Starbucks does in Soviet Canuckistan.  There are indeed places where there's a Timmie's across the road from a Timmie's.  It's a busy road.  Tim's is home to Canadian comfort food, especially in the winter.  I just couldn't envision a future without Tim Horton's.  It's too ubiquitous to just disappear.  My little addition to the setting.  Beats having the team go to the Stuffer Shack; involving an Aztech subsidiary would add yet another layer of complexity late in the story.

Tomorrow, Evo really doesn't want to let its representative go.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Disney's Aladdin and a farewell to Robin Williams.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, a look at adapting myth and legend.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

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