AGENT'S REPORT - HOUSTONE - July 12th, 2180 SD AGENCY CONFIDENTIAL (Must be redacted prior to public release)
We met Picasso Jane back on the dirt road in the Sam Hills where we had left our borrowed cop car. Graves’ voice came over my com unit directing me to do what I could to disable Jane’s hovercraft. She wanted to prevent Jane from fleeing while we negotiated the distribution of bounties to be had from Blanko and his minions. After we took care of business, Jane explained to the others that Blanko is a Morph. Apparently, Morphs are able to prepare another body to move to upon the death of the current host. This process takes place naturally every five years. However, the Morph can expedite this process when threatened with enough time to prepare. Jane explained that this information was provided by Mr. Durante, who the team met previously. After this exchange, Jane was given back her gun. Graves and I worked on setting up separate com channels, one to include Jane and another for core team only. This should have been a trivial task, but the second channel kept dropping out and we gave up the effort.
Graves, Corgibelle, Jane and I went in pursuit of Blanko, while the others took the prisoners from the last altercation back to the police station. As we approached the near end of Dead Man’s Gulch, I was gazing ahead at Graves when I noticed something unusual about her shadow. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me at first, but I observed that her shadow was not following her correctly. I called out to the team to halt and explained the situation. Shasha told me to stomp on Graves’ shadow. When I hesitated, Shasha pulled out her pistol and shot the shadow, which much to my surprise and alarm, separated from Graves and tried to scamper away in the general direction of Blanko’s hide out. I lifted my plasma rifle, blocked out Jane’s protests and fired. The shadow creature was blown to bits.
Jane voiced her indignation at my murderous act, saying that we were the least “subtle” agents that she had ever seen. I even felt some remorse as a vague recollection about harmless shadow creatures being common in the galaxy reached my consciousness. My act was driven by fear of the unknown and mistrust of authority, especially when the authority in question was Jane. Unfortunately, I live in a world that runs on fear and mistrust. These are the same emotions that drive the norms to persecute people like me. Understanding this is the key. One might expect me to feel even more shame at the killing of an innocent as a result. Yet it pushes me in an entirely different direction. It leads me to have compassion for the Norms that persecute me. We really aren’t that different in response to this world. It’s all about the will to survive in a world without justice.
Shasha was gracious enough to carry some of my equipment while we climbed the ridge to our right. Once we reached the crest of the ridge, we could determine that the ravine was created from a meteor. Graves had sent drones or bugs ahead to scout the hide out. We received video from the bugs about a kilometer ahead showing two buildings near the center of the crater, and a cave entrance on the left ridge of the crater from our vantage point. Shasha moved around toward the cave entrance while the rest of us took cover near the top of the opposite ridge. From our position on the ridge, we noticed that seven graves have been dug behind the nearest building, matching our number, including the agents back at the police station.
Shasha set off a flare alerting Blanko’s men of our presence. Graves identified us as SD agents and called for Blanko’s men to halt as they reached for their weapons. Graves shot at the weapons to further discourage them, but had her gun jam. I narrowly missed Blanko from a shot from my plasma rifle. While we provided the distraction, Sasha was able to run around the ridge above the cave entrance. I lost track of Sasha for a moment as a bolder in from of Jane exploded into shards from a blaster hit, sending Jane diving for cover. Graves returned fire with a laser weapon as I felt a sharp pain in my right shoulder from taking a hit. My Medkit thankfully engaged and kept me conscious and upright, so I continued laying down suppressing fire. Finally Shasha reached position directly above the cave entrance and dropped two grenades on Blanko and his henchman. The henchman died, but Blanko’s body withered at the impact. We surmised that Blanko was able to vacate the body for another host.
In the aftermath of the grenade blasts Graves intimidated the remaining two henchmen into surrender. Graves and Jane played leap frog in trying to join Sasha at the cave entrance, while Sasha dropped two more grenades into the mouth of the cave, where she had discovered what appeared to be an army of additional hosts.
I moved gingerly down the slope toward the two henchmen, trying to disguise my injuries as much as possible. Just at this point I took a glance up at the cave mouth to see Graves and Jane approaching and a large skeletal form emerging from the cave. Shortly thereafter there were two more blasts. As the dust settled, I saw the skeletal form impacted by a rifle blast. It teetered at the edge of the cliff for a moment, and then fell over backward some 40 meters, shattering upon impact. Graves and Corgibelle emerged from the cave, their armor dusty and chipped from multiple grenade bursts. Corgibelle approached Jane and deadpanned, “Was that subtle enough for you?”
The end of the battle gave us the opportunity to administer medical attention to those most in need of it. We calculated the share of the bounties for each team member as 83095 credits. It’s a good thing. I’m in dept and my armor is so wrecked from the last couple of missions that I decided to lighten the load of a couple of Blanko’s minions.
We went back to the local sheriff’s office to file our report and to collect on the warrants. The sheriff sent off the data filed from our recorders to the SD agency and Sasha obtained a receipt. We returned one rented vehicle and had to pay 15000 credits for the one that was destroyed. Finally we were on our way to the spaceport. This was a grueling mission and I was glad to see it over.
We met the SD liaison at the spaceport for our reward. Graves signed for our reward and Sasha signed for Jane’s portion. When I caught up to the others, I found that the reward credits were given to us in metal briefcases with paper currency. Having been with the agency longer than the others, I found this most peculiar. It simply wasn’t standard operating procedure. I proceeded to examine the currency inside. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what was wrong, but I suspected that these credits were counterfeit. Once we found the real SD liaison, we were able to determine that Jane had made off with the full reward. We were able to square everything up, and I believe that we got the full reward including Jane’s rightful portion of it. Yet we still filed a complaint with the SD agency. This is tough and dangerous enough work without having to deal with an inside threat. There can be rivalry and we all have to suck that up sometimes. But Jane, with her twisted face and twisted mind had crossed the line in attempting to steal 500,000 credits from us. This can’t be allowed to escalate further.