Laurent calls you into his office, there is a deeply tanned skinny ork sitting in a chair.
A moment of silence passes as the ork eyes each of you, not critically, but searchingly. It’s a long look that somehow bypasses judgment and leaves only the impression that this person is interested in you. You imagine that took a lot of practice.
“My name is John,” he says, finally. “May I just say that I am very happy to be here for you at this time?”
John extends a hand to each team member in turn, reintroducing himself and repeating each runner’s name as it is given. His tone, his posture, even his suit somehow manages to be sincere throughout the conversation.
“Can I just say how heartened I am by this?” he continues.
“When I asked for a team to help in a small but important recovery mission, Laurent assured me he had just the people in mind. And now, here you are. It’s like magic.” He loses himself in thought for a moment, then continues,
“I’m sorry, I’m forgetting myself. I represent Horizon Africas. You may have heard of our ‘Street Market Opposition Research Cadre’. Well, that’s me. Not all of it obviously, but I work for the SMORC. I’m the ork from SMORC. Heh.” You can almost hear the quotes slip into place as he speaks. The capitals, too. If he could sub vocalize trademarks, he would. “Any of you ever see Man from UNCLE? Great old show. Anyway, I would like to request your assistance in the retrieval of 3,000 doses of a needed antiviral agent from a quarantine zone in the Western Cape territory.”
John pauses for a moment of dramatic effect, and continues in a more businesslike tone.
“The deal looks like this: I am authorized to remit a one-time payment to each of you in the amount of 2,500 nuyen. Half of that payment is available on acceptance of the contract and half on completion. If all 3,000 doses are retrieved, there is a bonus of an additional 2,500 nuyen for each team member. As an added incentive, each of you will receive, free of charge, an upgrade to Horizon’s internal P2.0. Some of you may be wondering what this means for you. It means simply this: You will be increasing your prestige, your ‘street cred,’ without increasing your exposure. Our understanding of your lifestyle indicates that the need for a certain amount of anonymity can sometimes prove inconvenient in accessing the more public fruits of your labors. Horizon understands. One ping to the maître d’ from a link bearing our P2.0 signature, and you are perfectly situated in between the restrooms, bar and kitchen, in an isosceles love triangle. In all seriousness, the benefits of a strong working relationship with Horizon are not to be taken lightly.
“And then Horizon knows exactly where we’re going…”, Grace mutters under her breath.
“Let us get to the meat of matter. The quarantine zone surrounds a small town to the south and east called Arniston. The South African government had it sealed up when the death toll started to rise into the double digits. This was just over two weeks ago. We have a small clinic in the town as part of our outreach program. When the clinic staff advised us of the situation, we set to manufacturing the required antiviral. It took us two weeks to make enough for the town. The vaccine only arrived in Arniston this morning. Less than three hours later it was stolen from the clinic. It will take weeks to make more, and hundreds or even thousands could die by then.
Laurent interrupts at this point “We have a secondary reason for heading out there. A team of ours was in the area, we haven’t had contact with them since the quarantine zone went up.”
“I know you must have more questions, but it would be best if we got underway as soon as possible. There is a car waiting to take us to Arniston. It’s almost four hours to Arniston, and every second costs lives.”
Grace clears her throat, “You don’t happen to have a few extra doses of the vaccine which we can take before we head out? Quarantine and rising death toll don’t have a nice ring to them…”