Dance, Puppets (Run)
|Date: 30 January 2019|
A mystery broker reaches out to gather a team to help liberate a shipment of enslaved bunraku dolls from their duress. Unfortunately, Mr. Johnson is sick today.
The team meet at Baron von Koffee, a coffee shop in Avondale, Redmond. The baristas are friendly and experts at their trade, but Jonathan and Hamish are filling in for Mr. Johnson today - specifically Jonathan, who is not very good at it. After receiving assurances about the future treatment of the extraction targets, the team agree to recover an unspecified number of bunraku dolls from Nishijima Naota, who is storing them in his Bellevue home.
What they don't know is that Jonathan received his instructions directly from the Japanese client in Japanese. Jonathan does not speak Japanese. Jonathan's translation software cannot properly distinguish between puppet theatre and personafix prostitution, nor between the p-fix slaves and traditional Japanese puppets.
Research on Mr. Nishijima reveals very little - Leaf's discerning eye determines that it has been deliberately erased, an assessment backed up by a call to Saunak's childhood friend and neighbourhood decker Deckara. The team reconnoitre the Nishijima estate, finding it well-surveilled but with an apparent gap in the defences that a quick and cunning intruder could exploit. Invisible, Saunak breaks into the traditional Japanese-style home, finding a woman in a bedroom closet who addresses him in Japanese and begins to follow him — and then another in the next room, who begins to ask technical questions about why she cannot see her master with her optical sensors. Leaf and Lark come to support Saunak, and another two women appear — one declares that her olfactory sensors have determined that these are intruders! The women reveal themselves as anthrodrones and attack, only to be swiftly dispatched.
Finding a cleverly-concealed stairway down, the team break into a drone workshop littered with tools and assorted in-progress anthrodrones. A towering three-metre armored colossus declares itself to be Benkei, and that here will be his last stand, then attacks — holding Leaf at bay even after being disarmed by Lark. The ever-practical Saunak, realising that his handgun will struggle to even scratch the drone, locates the jumped-in rigger in his office and kicks him in the head until he passes out.
Searching the rest of the basement workshop, the team find four crates, each one containing a genuine antique bunraku doll, as used in traditional puppet theatre. The team grab the loot and hand it off to their contact, who is delighted with the results.
Dance, Puppets (Run)