Iron Links (Run)
|Date: 22 March 2019|
A mystery broker reaches out into the shadows to gather help for a dutiful wife supporting her husband in a contest of life and death.
Only not really. It's a round of golf with the head office bosses.
Presence, Leaf and Saunak meet Ms. Johnson at Baron von Koffee, and after delicious baklava agree to a) help her husband distinguish himself in the game, which he is pretty woeful at, and b) make sure that his cheating boss, Joe Itsubame, does not win. Ms. Johnson's husband is a big strapping ork in a mid-level role in Mitsuhama Computer Technologies, and she is convinced that he is a good man and deserves better than he has received.
Research occurs. The team begin by researching the burning question 'what actually happens in golf?' They delve into Itsubame's social media presence and discover that one of his favoured clubs doesn't seem to quite line up with the official MCT subsidiary design, even though the branding is correct, and cross-reference this with forum posts about golf cheats talking about AR overlays, sensors and smart counterweight actuators. With this in mind, they decide that they might be able to negate some of his advantage using a jammer. They also suspect him of using drugs — he is, in fact, planning to use Cereprax — and concoct a plan to steal a drinks cart to get close to the golf group and use magic to negate them.
Come dawn, Leaf and Saunak climb the razorwire fence and camp in the woods overlooking St. Cuthbert's Fields Golf Course. They spend the morning observing the course, plotting routes to get around and watching the comings and goings of maintenance drones. Quarter of an hour before the game is due to begin, the MCT motorcade of black sedans and a drone support van arrives, disgorging eight close protection guards, two rotocraft gundrones and a fixed-wing loitering surveillance craft — as well as two ageing Japanese gentlemen, a physically impressive ork and his boss, Itsubame.
The party tee off, and everything seems to go to plan. Presence possesses the golf ball — quickly discovering that golf balls can and do feel pain — to influence spin and roll on landing, while Saunak uses his focused jammer every time Itsubame swings. Things seem to be going fine until Saunak spots Itsubame spraying liquid on the handles of his partner's golf clubs. Guessing that he's trying to drug the other players rather than himself, he passes this information on to Leaf who hacks a drinks cart and rides it over to the group, quickly cleansing the golf clubs and purging the drugs from the ork and one of the older gentlemen, all under cover of serving them drinks.
By the sixth hole, the ork has a substantial lead on his boss. All of this would have been for nothing, however, if Saunak hadn't virtually tripped over a sniper assassin lying in wait for the golfers. With only a few seconds before the executives come into sight, Presence and Saunak hatch a quick plan - Presence will possess the sniper and quietly sit there while Saunak beats him unconscious. This plan is executed flawlessly until Presence realises that he's accidentally possessed the rifle rather than the shooter, who responds to Saunak's shock glove attack by popping cyberspurs and lunging at him. Between Saunak's glove and the anti-theft taser on the rifle, however, they subdue him, while Leaf's ally spirit Midnight's meddling causes the sniper's modular arms to self-eject before he can adequately retort.
They leave him in the bushes and carry on. By hole 12, the poisoned executive is flagging badly and Itsubame is making a pest of himself trying to be seen to be helping — meanwhile the ork is looking worried that he's in the lead and looks like he'll beat all of his direct superiors. Deciding that it's time to strike, Presence possesses Itsubame's jacket, causing the drug aerosol to slip out in plain view. What seems on the face of it to be an extremely adequate lie crumbles under the withering gaze of his superior, and as Itsubame sees his life collapsing before his eyes he whips out a pistol, thrusts it out at the old man, and pulls the trigger until it runs dry.
Regrettably for Itsubame's revenge, Ms. Johnson's husband leaps in front of the executive and takes the full magazine straight to the chest — the bullets not rending through his flesh, not shattering his bones and not spilling his heart's blood on the fairway, because he is quite a big ork and is prudently wearing discreet armour. The close protection detail secure their VIPs, drag Itsubame off to his terrible fate and leave Ms. Johnson's husband to pick up everyone's clubs and dropped hats and go back to the clubhouse.
The team consider this a success, and with a brief pause to interrogate the burnout adept sniper assassin — whose first words are 'I have a pain editor and I can't remember anything, just so you know' — exfiltrate and get paid.
Iron Links (Run)