5150: Science Fiction

Star Punk Dreams: The Orange Line

Sleeping Dragon, Episode 2

*Note: This episode is from a 5150 New Beginnings Travel Encounter. Why a Travel Encounter? Because, the characters are traveling from one point in the city to another.

The Travel Encounter is a short encounter to play and sometimes nothing happens in the encounter. But, remember all of that backstory you’ve composed for your characters? A conversation while traveling is a good place to insert some of that into your story without writing pages of exposition. Also, the Travel Encounter is a good place to hint at what is coming next in your story/campaign. Yep, I said it, your story unfolds as you play a campaign of game encounters.

“We can’t stay here much longer, are you ready to move?” Clark asked.

“I have a little bit of a headache, but other than that, I’m fine.” answered Minji.

Clark looked at Lucy and Ox, then across the room nodding toward the door.

“Okay, we’re out of here, see you next job, Tailor.” said Lucy Kim as Ox opened the door.

“Are they leaving us? I thought they were a part of the team.” asked Minji.

Clark smiled, “Their part of the job was just to get you away from Pinnacle. They have no idea where you are going or what you will be doing. Safer that way.”

“I have no idea where I am going or what I will be doing.” she said.

“Again, safer that you don’t.” he replied.

“They called you Taylor?” she asked.

“Tailor, as in one who make clothes. It’s my handle, just like yours is Dakkeabi. You should refer to me as Tailor from now on.” he said as they walked out of the motel. He reached into a coat pocket and pulled out a pair of dark sunglasses. He put them on hiding his eyes.

“I remember seeing somewhere you are called the ‘Golden Tailor’, I thought it odd, what does it mean?” Minji asked.

He chuckled, “I’m a fixer, do you know what that means?” She shook her head. “Using the clothing analogy I cut and measure the cloth – stitch it together to make the perfect garment for the client. I’m a broker, I set up the deals, find the right team, supply the tools needed and pull the strings to complete a job.”

They walked to the street corner and waited for the crossing signal. “Are we walking? No car?” she asked.

“You might as well start learning your new life skills. Yes, we are walking. Cars can be traced; cab drivers remember faces.” he said.

“Even though I was losing consciousness, I seem to remember being tossed into a van.” she said.

He smiled and replied, “A rental, the driver dumped it several blocks away shortly after delivering you to the motel.” They paused at another street corner across the street from the Jackson Park transit station. “Good timing looks like the beginning of the evening rush hour.”

Minji opened her bag to check the time on her phone. “Hey,” she said, “My phone is missing.”

“Not missing, we dumped it, your corporate ID badge, and anything else containing your identity. Phones and ID badges can be traced. I’ll get you a new one when we take you shopping.” he said.

As they stepped onto the escalator going down to the subway station, Minji said, “Since you brought up shopping, I didn’t have the opportunity to pack. All I have is what I am wearing.”

He laughed, “Not completely true, you have a pair of black sequined panties and a pair of alluring six-inch heels in your bag.”

“Those, I wore for your mother and you know that.” she said in rebuke.

“That brings up another survival item, don’t let anyone know we met before this job and for mother’s safety, don’t mention her at all.” he said.

“Being a little paranoid, aren’t you?” she asked.

He lowered his sunglasses long enough to give Minji a meaningful stare and then pushed them back up his nose. “Yeah, that’s the point. Living on the Edge leaves no room for trust. A bit of paranoia will go a long way towards keeping you alive.”

“Sounds like I have a lot to learn.” she said.

“You’re a smart girl, you’ll catch on quick.” he said holding his phone next to the scanner on the ticket vending machine. It beeped and then printed out two day passes. He handed one of them to Minji. “Always buy all day passes, never point to point tickets -“

Minji interrupted before Tailor could finish, “Because point to point is easier to trace?”

“See, you’re already catching on.” he said with a smile.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“We’re taking the Orange Line.” he answered.

She looked at the huge multicolored transit map display and traced the Orange Line. “All the way to Beacon Hill Station?” she asked.

“Good heavens, no.” he said. “Bee-Town is nothing but a combat zone. We’re getting off a couple of stops earlier. Your new life starts in the Escondido district.”

“Escondido?” she asked as they boarded the train.

“You’ll like it. It’s a bit sleazy, but the sleaze has charm.” he said.

Minji continued to ask questions and Tailor answered some of them. To many of her questions, his reply was either “Wait until we get there” or “You don’t need to know.” The trip was just a normal nondescript ride on the subway until the train pulled out of the Middleton Umeda station. There was a slight jerk as the train took the first curve out of the station causing passengers to shift. A young man bumped into Minji. Without a word, he moved away from Minji, but as he passed Tailor, Tailor grabbed him by the wrist and lifted his hand up. He was holding a wallet, Minji’s wallet.

“Whoa, what we have here?” asked Tailor. Noticing the young man was missing his little finger, Tailor added, “Why, it’s no other than Timmy Nine-Fingers.”

“Do – do you know me?” Timmy asked.

Tailor smiled and said, “No, I don’t know you, but I certainly know of you. For instance, how you got caught trying to lift a diamond bracelet out of Carlos Vincenzo’s pocket. Of course, you had no way of knowing the ice was a one-of-a-kind designer piece worth a couple million wuans, nor that your target was a notorious gangster. They say Guido broke that finger at the joint so it would be easier for Stiletto Vinnie to cut it off, is that true?”

“Please, take the wallet, I don’t want any trouble.” Timmy pleaded.

“Lookie there, a transit officer just entered the car.” said Tailor.

“Please, I’ll do anything, don’t turn me over to the cops – it’s my third offense, they’ll brain wipe me for sure.” he begged.

Tailor snatched the wallet out of Timmy’s hand. “Get lost, you owe me.” Tailor growled. Timmy hurried out of the car through the door opposite of the one the transit officer had entered.

Tailor handed the wallet to Minji. “Another lesson for you, if you carry a bag on a train, even if it’s just a bag of dirty laundry, hug it close to your body where it can’t be opened or easily lifted.” he said.

“Thanks, I’ll remember that.” said Minji.

They got off of the train at the Escondido Metro station and got into a pedicab. “I thought you said not to take cabs because drivers remember faces?” she asked.

“That’s true unless you know the cabbie has a bad memory, isn’t that right Sam?” said Tailor.

“My memory is like a sieve Tailor-san, I would forget my own name if my wife didn’t remind me.” answered Sam.

“What does your wife call you, Sam?” Tailor asked.

Sam answered, “Most of the time she call me ‘You Bastard’, but sometime she call me ‘Stud Muffin’.” Tailor grinned as he watched Minji giggle.

They stopped in front of Hirose Ramen House. They got out of the cab, Tailor paid Sam and then they hugged.

“So, you’re human after all.” said Minji.

“Sam and I go way back. He was once one of the best mercs in the business. A job went tits up and he was captured. They couldn’t get him to talk, so they wiped his brain. His short-term memory is all shot to hell.” he said as he opened the door for Minji.

The delicious smells in the ramen house reminded Minji of how hungry she was. “Are we dining here?” she asked with hope in her voice.

“Later, we go upstairs, first.” he replied.

“Welcome to Hirose Ramen House.” said a tall slender man behind the counter. Then he smiled and wiping his hands with a towel, added “Tailor-san, long time no see. Akane, come see who’s here.” They shook hands as a slightly plump woman entered from the back.

Akane smiled and bowed. Looking Minju over, she asked “Is she one? She looks awfully young.”

Tailor said, “Yes, this is Dakkaebi. Dakkaebi, this is Akane – don’t mess with her, she swings a mean rolling pin and packs a 9mm in her apron pocket.”

Akane laughed and asked Minji, “Dakkaebi, that’s a spirit or oni isn’t it? You must be a Hangugin girl. Yasuo and I are both Nihonjin.”

“Yes, Dakkaebi is more like a goblin, but similar to oni in origin.” replied Minji.

“You must be famished, what would you like to eat?” Akane asked.

“Not now, we need to go upstairs, are the others here?” asked Tailor.

“Yes, all three.” Akane replied to Tailor. She turned and handed Minji a menu saying “When Tailor-san is finished, order whatever you want.” Akane led Tailor and Minji into the back, the kitchen where the prep work was done, though Tailor knew where the stairs were, Akane pointed them out for Minji.

Half way up the stairs, Tailor stopped and turned to face Minji putting his hands on her shoulders. “Look,” he said, “I can’t stress how important this is, if you want to live, do not ever use your real name. Cho Min-Ji no longer exists, understand? Once we go through that door, there is only Dakkaebi.”

Minji nodded her head and then Dakkaebi walked through the door.

The floor above the ramen house was a one-bedroom apartment converted to an operations center for the team. The stairway door opened into the living area where three people were waiting. A tall black woman and a muscular man with chiseled features stood up. A pudgy man in a gray sweatshirt remained seated.

Tailor smiled and said, “Team, meet our final member, Dakkaebi. Dakkaebi, meet your teammates, the slovenly fellow on the couch is Crumbs, standing is Romeo Ford and Fatima Leggs.”

Dakkaebi gave a small bow and said “Pleased to meet you all.”

“So, this is the girl genius? You weren’t kidding, she’s young and pretty, but does she know her stuff?” asked Romeo.

“That’s why we’ll have trial runs, to find out if we all know our stuff.” answered Tailor. “Dakkaebi, you’ll be sharing an apartment with Fatima.”

“Hi, Dakkaebi, I’m your bodyguard.” said Fatima. “Bodyguard, not babysitter, okay?”

“Crumbs is our tech. He’ll assemble and repair your equipment.” said Tailor.

“Just tell me what you need and I’ll build it, and if I can’t, Tailor’ll buy it.” said Crumbs rising off of the couch. Crumbs turned to Tailor and asked, “What’s the plan, chief?”

“First, we eat, then we’ll let Dakkaebi crash for a few hours and then, the night market.” Tailor replied.

Dakkaebi yawned behind a raised hand, “Just the suggestion of a nap makes me feel how tired I am, but I’m not too tired to eat!”

They managed fit into a booth in the dining area. Dakkaebi sat on the inside against the wall with Fatima sitting next to her. She didn’t understand why she needed a bodyguard, but she was too tired and hungry to ask. When they placed their orders, she asked for extra chili paste in the spicy ramen and a side of kimchi. This caused Akane to grin and cluck her tongue, “Hai, you’re a Hangugin girl for sure.”

When the food arrived, Dakkaebi was surprised when Akane placed a dish of cucumber salad, “oi muchim,” next to the dish of kimchi. The ramen was hands down the best she had ever had. After she finished eating, Dakkaebi sat back to listen to the small talk around the table. From her seat she could see the many colors of the sunset being reflected from the Equis Corporation’s signature building, an eighty-story ziggurat of curved silvered glass. The colors and the conversation blurred together into a hum and then stopped altogether as Dakkaebi fell asleep.

Keeping Track of Things

Previous Episodes:

Episode 1: The Sex Party

Though I’ve only written two episodes, which is two game encounters, I’ve introduced several characters and locations. A good way to keep up with these is with index cards. In the Defining Characters Section early in the rule book is a series of questions to answer in creating a character, whether Star or Grunt. By writing these questions and their answers onto a note card, you create a quick reference for that character. This saves precious game time by not having to turn pages to remember what a character can do in the game. Oh, big tip here: don’t just write the name of the attributes on the card – write what the attributes do to save time. Honestly, the biggest drag on playing any game is having to stop to look things up.

The next tip is to jot down notes about the setting where an encounter takes place in case a future encounter occurs in the same location. Why is this important? Not only does this preserve continuity in your story, but it saves time in the long run. It builds the environment to assist the game in being more immersive.

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Star Punk Dreams; Sleeping Dragon, Episode 2

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