Aeon Campaign S2E7 – The Best Laid Plans . . .

Dramatis Personae

  • The Commander (Doug) – telekinetic super-soldier with a really angry dog (Yukio). The dog is a powerful ally (250-300 points) and very intelligent and very, very aggressive.
  • Arc Light (Christian) – battlsuited gadgeteer with electrical powers
  • The Rat Queen (Emily) – brick with super-perception; made of actual rats
  • Eamon Finnegan (Kyle) – smooth talking gravity-master; Ultimate Fighting Lawyer, to borrow a phrase.
  • Zephyr (Merlin) – Real name Murui; Shaolin Kung Fu expert and super-speedster.
What was intended


Christopher has warned us in the past that our lack of planning was going to cost us badly if we kept up our aggressive inattention to consequences. This can be seen on both a meta and an in-game level, as the required “montage” sequence that allows some of our special abilities to charge up or be activated is not present, and also we tend to just Leeroy Johnson our way though things, and when we’re tap-dancing around dudes with access to a 500-person army of metahumans trained like SFOD-D and 5,000 more normals, also trained that way . . . well, you can see how things could get ugly.

So this time, I came up with a plan ahead of time, and emailed it to the GM, who on my request had given me a map. At first glance, it wasn’t that helpful. Is all it really was was a picture of the Bank of America Tower.

But then I stared some more. This is what I came up with, and of course the first thing I thought of was that some way, somehow, the plan needed to involve zip-lining from one building to another for a truly dynamic entry.

Because awesome. 

But that being predetermined as a condition, here’s the plan:


We get a Flash Mob to convene outside the Sondheim theater. That should provide ample distraction and many calls from security to Singleton, who will become agitated. 


The mob can be suitably provocative. Maybe all dressed as suicide bombers or something crazy, as a protest against stereotyping by stereotyping themselves. The police (working with us) will have been suitably warned that a protest was going to take place there. So first the “protesters” show up, then “Western soldiers” show up, they ritually clash, and shoot off fireworks/blanks in the air with all suitable drama. Eamon can arrange this.


This should drive Blue Sky security insane. They’ll be freaked out about people hiding in the flash mob, they’ll want to get Mrs Singleton in and out of the building quickly, and won’t be paying much attention inward, so the Commander can enter from Avenue of the Americas. Arc Light can set up his computer stuff from the Grace building. Somewhere in there, Zephyr, my SEAL team, Eamon, Arc Light, and The Rat Queen might stage a mock assault from 42nd Street or the H&M sign, zip lining across in a “damn this is obvious” way. 


That should draw attention both visually and as “get all security troops to the Nth floor!” way.


That will allow me to enter the building, do my stuff getting a line to the files in Blue Sky.


So


1. Mrs Singleton brings her husband lunch. It’s wrong. He freaks out, she should know better. He will likely send her away to get it right. Hopefully he won’t physically abuse her, but it’s possible. We need to hold our ground in this case.


2. At that moment, Eamon starts the flash mob. This will be an escalating series of demonstrations. Calls to the police (Edgerton) will reassure security that it’s a planned, permitted protest. “But why weren’t we informed?” can be put down to a typo, or that technically its the Sondheim theater that needed to give permission.


3. The Rat Queen enters the ventilation area, watching out for extra security precautions. She gives the Commander the word and he batmans into the building. Hopefully no one will see him, and she can give the Morpheus treatment (“the guards will look away, run down the aisle. Go. Now!”) to help his already considerable stealth skills.


AMBUSH/FORESIGHT ALERT: Extra security in the ventilation shafts; alternate routes through drywall, or basically anything that says TRQ can’t get in. 


4. At the crescendo of the mob activity, when guns and fake “suicide bombs” are going off, the team will launch the mock assault from one of the two areas noted above. The ONLY success criteria are that they must actually breach the building so that Blue Sky has to go to high alert, that they do this AFTER I have already established the computer uplink, and that no one gets killed or crippled. It might even be a good idea to disguise this as Arc Light’s more mundane security persona instead of his hero one, so that it’s a “normal” probe of a competitor’s defenses. 


5. The Commander exits the building, meets up with his cousin’s husband and Mrs Singleton, disables any bodyguards that weren’t pulled away by 4, and gets her the hell out of dodge to her new life. Possibly with The Pusher’s help.


6.#4 continues until #5 is well underway, maybe with some residual activity – a low-grade fire, or a smoke device, or even a bomb threat, that pulls attention to the building or the area around it. This should help Singleton forget about “his idiot wife.” We might even arrange a police presence and evacuation/first responder thing. A threat like that in NYC will bring out the Feds like flies to honey, as well. At this point, basically this is lots of people following their own personal and institutional natures. We don’t even need to script it.


7. If we turn up anything illegal (and we will, I’m sure) in the Blue Sky files, Eamon can even leak that to the Feds to get them to start poking into illegal weaponry or tech at the building site. It will likely take hours for Singleton to pull enough strings to make the evacuation/threatening of a building in NYC go away. Every hour that goes by is an hour we get Mrs Singleton far enough away.



8. Ah! Arc Light can get some pre-recorded voice messages, or stage a repeater, so that Mrs Singleton can report a continual stream of failed progress for procuring lunch. The cell signal will report it’s coming from (a) her phone, and (b) first from Crave  and then, because they can’t get it right, a bit farther north to Untamed Sandwiches. The route will be 44th to 5th to 39th, in front of the Library. If we can get her to duck into the library “I have to pee” then we can deal with any security inside there. If not, we can improvise a bit, maybe even arrange “extra security” and a “special car” to meet her at Crave so that we’re already in place. My SEALS can handle some of that.


FORESIGHT – which Meta will be Mrs Singleton’s security guard, if any, and can we figure out how to neutralize them ahead of time.


I think this gets things done. We have a plan in. We have a layered diversion. We have a reason for Mrs Singleton to leave the building and be delayed. We have enough distraction that Mr Singleton might just forget about lunch and his wife until it’s too late. And we have her out of the building AND the plans in our hands before the “diversion” really even starts.

So before the game started even, this was the plan, cleared with the GM. The only person that didn’t get a particularly special role was Zephyr with his super speed and martial arts abilities. And the cursed magic dagger that’s a wildcard in everything we do.

How did it go in practice? 

Zephyr is going to help The Rat Queen (both of whom were absent) prepare a ‘bunker’ off of a sewer duct. The two of them can dig at ridiculous rates, and with Arc Light to build a faraday cage, Zephyr to arrange a mana-dampener, and Arc Light has some power dampener bombs too. So we should be able to isolate Leslie Singleton if we can get here there per plan.

We decide, working the plan backwards, to work up three holograms of Leslie with some Googlemobiles to auto-drive, so that when the inevitable hellfire takes out the van (“If I can’t have her, no one shall! – L. Hawke) no one is killed.

We also set up drones to tail the decoy vans to get that crime on tape, if it happens. So even if we can’t flip her, if we make it look like we did and get Singleton getting Blue Sky to commit crimes, it’s a win. That would also double down on being able to flip Leslie. So we go buy or rent some nondescript white rental vans. With insurance that also covers acts of terrorism.

What time is it right now? About 2am. 

I ask Eamon to arrange the flash mob to kick it off by 11:45am. He gulps, rearranges his Cosmic Contacts ability (4 hours), and then uses the next roughly 8 hours to arrange the right thespian connections. He’s confused, but arranges it with an arched eyebrow.

Eamon and Edgeworth (who goes by SUE: Severus Ulysses Edgeworth) arrange for a proper search warrant to allow us to tap the Blue Skies defense contractor computers pursuant to the investigation.

Eamon finds some activists that are willing to be a loud flash mob. Boom. They don’t have to be good, they just have to be loud. The hacktivists are called The Legion of Whom, and they’re all in on this, since the Blue Skies defense malfeasance is well known.

First order of business, the device to allow the vans to be driven like drones. For Arc Light, that’s easy: IQ+4, and he made it by huge. Teleoperated by Adama the AI, the van will, to all intents and purposes, be a better driver than people. 

The hologram? Well, it’s a bit buggy. They’ll only last about 10-11 minutes, then they’ll burn out. We set them around a dummy, so that even when they burn out, there’s something there, and also set them to drive off various cliffs. 

Zephyr and The Rat Queen spend nearly the entire time prepping the bunker.

Arc Light has a submarine, too. We decide that getting Leslie from the bunker to a submarine, and then taking her straight east underwater with the sub. 

So, we’re going to get her out of the building, grab evidence of Blue Skies wrongdoing, and then transfer her to Arc Light’s submarine. We decide to reserve the sub as a backup plan in case our bunker is detected.

We have a pretty complete profile of the guy, and Eamon spends some Karma to ensure that he has a solid success, so we know what will irk him and tell his wife to “just go fix it and stop bothering me!” during the plan. He’s allergic to jalapeno peppers, so that’s the key – the continued insult there will drive him to distraction, but the result will be “just get it right, I’ll deal with you later.”

So we have four hours left for Arc Light to roll Inventor! plus Electronics! to whip up a super-security tech cracker. He makes it by 11, and the device can actually read the contents of all drives in a 1yd radius without powering them up. It can transmit too, so I can upload it remotely if I can set up the right relays. As a side-effect of the download for the device, he can also hack into Blue Skies security to try and take over surveillance, system locks, change passwords, and other nastiness.

In the final two hours, Eamon ensures we get the warrant down in an airtight fashion. He makes it by 11 (Detective!) without Karma. It’s a fairly airtight request for a broad warrant, so long as we can catch Singleton doing something illegal, the exigent circumstances law can.

The other thing we have to worry about is what particular metahuman is likely to be guarding Mrs Singleton – an Intelligence Analysis roll by The Commander vs a highly-augmented skill of 28 (made it by 20!) provides that data.

We contact The Pusher, and she agrees eagerly to contact her cousin and brief her in on the plan. 

Execution

The plan goes well. Very well. She intentionally delivers jalapenos to her husband, he blows up, has to deliver an epi-pen . . . we even get her all the way into the tunnels, right into the hole, just like clockwork.

The SEALS use a stand-in to make it look like she’s been dragged into some of the white vans. The flash mob shows up at the right time, and things go nuts.

The Commander then needs to batman into the building; he spends a karma point, crits his lockpicking/security intrusion anyway, and nabs just the right security card.

The next step up is for Eamon, Zephyr, and a few SEALs to assault the building loudly and overtly. Eamon chooses to play the part of Eamon, who is “protecting” the building from the “bad guys” who are assaulting it. They’re asked to make Stage Combat rolls, which they make by tiny amounts, or have to spend Karma to make succeed. So they do make it look convincing. Very convincing. 

Zephyr embraces his inner high schooler, and embraces his Evil Method Acting Self. He’s hiding behind folks, giving people super wedgies, gropes some secretaries, and “the Evil Phantom Menace,” (because everybody hates the Phantom Menace).

We actually spend karma to make a copycat villain exist who will actually BE the dastardly Phantom Menace. Because awesome.

The Commander goes for Stealth again, and makes the roll by 14, and then crits again when it comes to sensor placement. It’s basically a perfect insertion, and now Arc Light spends 3 karma to crit by 17, and so he installs a backdoor in the entire system, so he has permanent access until they actually do a deep search to discover it. He makes the roll by 13 to create the backdoor, even without karma – with computer help and tech bonuses, an intruder would have to make the roll by 17 to detect the backdoor.

At this point, someone detects the hack, so I pull the hardware and get out, but the presence of the back door will let us re-enter the computer at will, but we still need to get in the building to get it. They know they have a security leak, but they think it’s coming from within. 

We all spend 1 karma each, and they think it’s Singleton . . . we’ve just painted him as a mole. Arc Light tries to put a driver in the file system to actually save all files that they try and delete, and hide it somewhere in their server. He does it under great stress, and manages to put the driver in.

The Commander cleans up his mess with an IQ-based SEAL roll, and gets out of the building as clean as he can. Arc Light cleans up his server footprint (spending karma for a crit success) as well.

Zephyr pulls every fire alarm on two floors nearly at once. Because that’s now part of the MO of . . . The Phantom Menace! 

So . . . Blue Skies is in disarray. They are pointed with dangerous intent at Singleton. And Leslie is safe with The Rat Queen and a few SEALs under guard. The rest of my SEAL team have been intentionally ‘detained’ for questioning to keep them off the grid.

So now Eamon and Arc Light, with Adama’s help, go through the files to look for ill intent on the part of Blue Skies and Singleton. Edgeworth brings the necessary paperwork, gets everything down, interviews her in case something happens, and then signs the paperwork and sends it off. His partner, Detective Thaddeus does that . . . he goes off to file the paperwork.

Well, we know he’s dead. 

Edgeworth tells us not to freak out because he sent backup with Thaddeus too. 

As we watch Thaddeus to file the paperwork, we notice that a person is standing there, but our eyes tend to slide off of him. We make Observation or perception rolls . . . and some of us make it by a lot. So we see him, or in Zephyr’s case, smell him. 

Zephyr smells pancakes, and a guy bringing them. It’s his favorite chef ever, with a duffel bag in one hand, and a bag of food in the other. He made it for us. Um, how did he know we were here? Grandson told me! he says, pointing at Edgeworth. We also hear and smell guns in the duffel bag. He starts cleaning firearms, blades, grenade launchers . . . is there something that we need to know about?

He tells us that Singleton is currently on the run from Blue Skies, since he’s been pegged for a data breach. But the old man hands me a post card, and on the front it says “Wish you were here,” with the NYC skyline, and a date, time, GPS coordinates, and names of several people.

The sentence says “be there.”

We ask if there’s any hint as to who sent it? Don’t know, but these cards have been showing up for 70 years. 

What time is it now? We have 29 hours, thanks to a timely suggestion by me that it would be really evil to have the time where we have to meet this post card, and the time to get Leslie out overlap.

So it was so. 

So we’re sifting through data, while Zephyr eats pancakes. All the pancakes. 

We combine rolls, and our Intel Analysis rolls combine to succeed by 15. Blue Skies is amazingly crooked, but the intent is to separate Singleton from Blue Skies.

We have a huge windfall of data on Blue Skies, and no one knows we have it. We can pose as Singleton and offer specific chunks of data to competitors, too. That keeps the focus on Singleton, and means we don’t have to risk any blackmail to him. So we basically frame Singleton, and give Blue Skies fewer reasons to dig into the leak, since the scapegoat is so well goated.

We talk more about Blue Skies and what to do with the data. Lots of plans, complicated machinations, are discussed.

The board of directors is Jessica A. Wells (Chairman of the Board), Miriam J. Hallmark, David C. Ohara, Larry M. Gleason, Zackary L. Tidwell, Gregg M. Santana, Carol D. Salter, Angel W. Coleman, and Gail S. Dupont. They”re doing protection for 3rd world dictators, high impact kinetic opertions using metahumans, and all sorts of arms sales to bad actors. Both the ladies pushed him from the board itself for being a mysogynistic asshat.

We have a lot of research to do.

We end there.

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