Gamemaster’s Note: This one, like the last few, is a little late.
Some time had passed for our protagonists and the money was getting a little tight. Luckily, work came in through some of Olympia’s smuggling contacts. A local import/export business run by Christine Fennel needed a show of force to help transport live cargo from Cara’Sir to a small town named McDermott in the south of the country on the border with the Pueblo Corporate Council. The animal would be sedated for the journey, and an animal handler–named Joy–would join the team to be sure that it remained so. Fennel was reluctant, however, to explain the nature of the animal, but assured the team that it wasn’t “too dangerous.”
Meeting Fennel, Joy, and a rigger named Allison the next morning, the team were surprised to see that the truck carrying the animal was refrigerated. Using astral projection, Adriana took a peek at the beast and found it to be an over-sized iguana of some sort. Some basic matrix searching revealed its identity: an ice drake. While territorial, they’re not know for being overly aggressive, but they do have fearsome natural weaponry and the ability to project freezing temperatures and were not known to be especially cuddly.
But, the team loaded up and headed south out of the capital on the highways before turning east to cross the Cascades and, eventually, began to traverse the Wildlands of the Columbia plateau once more.
Everything was going smoothly until a bevy of air spirits began to pace the vehicle. Then, even more oddly, a rather large dust cloud rose on the horizon. Fearing pursuit, the team prepared for the worst, but remained completely unprepared for the reality: a centaur.
He ordered them to halt and introduced himself as Whistler. Joy and Allison admitted that Fennel had had encounters with him in the past. Seems he had a problem with the trafficking of paranormal animals and demanded that the team return the drake to its natural habitat. Disinclined to acquiesce to his suggestions, the team pointed out that he was out numbered and likely out matched even if he was Awakened. Whistler withdrew but not before he promised to take this latest atrocity up with Fennel.
Back on their way to McDermott, the team settled in. A few kilometers out from their destination, Allison contacted Jake O’Toole, their contact on the PCC side of the border, but was unable to reach him. Not too concerned–O’Toole was not the most punctual of people–she suggested the team continue onto the transfer point: an abandoned airfield outside of town. Lacking a better idea, the team agreed, and soon found themselves pulling into a dusty hangar.
O’Toole remained elusive and they began to debate exactly what to do. Joy administered an additional half dose of sedative to the drake to make sure it remained calm during the delay and, wanting to take a look around, Cayden climbed onto the roof. From there, he noticed that the hangar was being watched from a small hill. Trying to act nonchalant, he contacted the others but the observers noticed him noticing them, rose up, and approached with arms wide.
The team, sans Arial, went out to meet with them and were introduced to Serena Redfeather, her brother Joseph, and a bear shifter who declined to provide a name. Serena admitted to the team that she had abducted O’Toole and she’d set him free in return for the drake. No one actually seemed that worried about O’Toole’s safety, but he did know the best ways across the Tír/PCC border. Octan suggested that Serena set O’Toole free, then they’d turn the drake over to him, and finally she could just capture him (and the drake) again thereafter which seemed satisfactory to the Redfeathers. So much so, that Joseph was dispatched to bring O’Toole here. He did so and returned with the fourth member of their team, a mage, but in the mean time, the team decided that this wasn’t exactly honoring the spirit of the team’s agreement with Fennel.
At an impasse, Serena offered an alternative: 50,000¥ and her team just walks away. Not having that sort of cash, the team contacted Christine Fennel to see if she could provide it. But, she only had 30,000¥ on hand. Worse, it seems that Whistler had traveled up to the capital and was currently pounding on Christine’s office door. Lacking any other options (and out of time), Fennel transferred the money to Adrianna.
Serena would have none of it. 30,000¥ split four ways was neither enough to repair the damage breaking their contract would do to them nor was it enough for them to cut ties and set up elsewhere. It seemed that the confrontation could only end in blood and tears, but just then sirens called out into the night.
And, lights went up all along the Tír/PCC border.
And, on the astral plane, spirits rose out of the earth rushing to defend that border.
Adriana and Olympia, having served their obligatory term in the Peace Force, understood that this sort of reaction was reserved for international crises. Realizing that the situation had changed, Serena had a brief, private conversation with her brother and the shifter before sending a message to Adriana: “Don’t react; I’m about to shoot my friend.”
And, with that, she executed the mage.
Holstering her weapon, Serena explained that the shifter wasn’t interested in a payout; he could just return to his natural form and spend some time in the Wildlands. And, 30,000¥ split between her and her brother was more than enough to help them get across the border. Their employer would just have to understand that international crises trumped their business agreements. Adriana transferred Serena the money, much to Arial’s chagrin.
And, as the team was realizing, so, too, would Fennel’s buyer. There was no way they were getting a drake across the border now. As the Redfeathers left and the shifter shucked his clothes before shifting back to his bear form and trundling off, the team began to discuss their own next steps. Without a clear solution to the problem, the opted to drive back to Cara’Sir (which conveniently took them away from whatever was happening on the border) and return the drake to Fennel. Hopefully, she had talked her way out of the situation with Whistler.
Unfortunately, the convoy was stopped on the way home by Ghosts traveling with military personnel and vehicles headed back toward the border. The Ghosts demanded to know what was being carried in the truck and Allison provided paperwork showing that it was empty, the cargo delivered. Not convinced, they demanded that the trailer be opened for inspection.
Thinking quickly, Adriana had a spirit conceal the drake and they hoped for the best. Luckily, the Ghosts were unable to pierce the spirit’s veil and were satisfied that the convoy was not carrying anything untoward back to Cara’Sir.
But, the delay had cost them some precious time; the drake was starting to wake up. Worse: the team was unable to reach Fennel. Without any other options, they decided to release it in the upper elevations of the mountains, hoping that the environment would be cool enough that it wouldn’t simply die from exposure. Olympia tracked the drake with a fly spy as the team tracked down Whistler using his online eco-radical matrix site. They provided him with the drake’s location; if he was so worried about its welfare, he could deal with it.
That problem solved, the team finished the return trip to back to the capital. They were stopped at the wall, but Adriana used her position as Duchess to talk their way back into the city. Turns out the PCC had moved with some speed, and with no small amount of military might, into the Tír sector of Boise annexing it in the name of the Native American Nations.
Satisfied that international politics wasn’t a thing they’d have to deal with, the team parted ways to return home.