Undefeated through a field of ETF, NEH Butchershop, Tennin and Weyland BoN. Corp was a variant of my regionals list SYNC EOI (1st, Auckland Regionals), also undefeated. Dropped a siphon to check off a tournament bonus for only using one core set, feel free to bring it back in for CBI or Info Sifting (try them first, great with Fisk Investment Seminar!)
Apocalypse is, in a single card, the disruption that Criminal badly needs. The multi-server pressure of Criminal run economy and run events force the Corp to play right into it. The problem was how do you restore a facedown Criminal rig? Aesop’s, Levy, Apoc… your influence is gone before you even start selecting programs. My solution is to simply play another one.
The deck is great fun to play and the tempo just seems to work out well each game. There’s enough early pressure that the Corp will take a while to score while you outpace their economy. Launch Apocalypse when they install in the remote or are getting out of control horizontally. I’ve yet to see a Corp recover nicely when they’re 20 cards into their deck, the agendas will be spilling out all over the place.
Happy to answer any questions and discuss card selection but without further ado, I present a beautiful bit of fanfic that our talented TO was inspired to write later that night:
… On a warm summer's eve
On a train bound for nowhere
I met up with the gambler
We were both too tired to sleep…
Ken stared out into the dawn skyline. Monoliths with their many sleepless eyes stared back, unfeeling and unchanging. He could see the traffic below and above; it was rush hour and there was no way he was getting anywhere fast right now. It didn’t matter anyway; it wasn’t time yet. Civilization might change, technology might progress, but City Hall would never open earlier than 9.
Somewhere out at Haas-Bioroid HQ, alarms were blaring and sysops were scrambling. Ken couldn’t help a smirk, reflected back to him in the meticulously cleaned glass windows facing the sunrise. He was tired, it wasn’t an easy job but he had gotten it done. He’d had to blow the whole system sky high. He could still hear the sparking of the terminal he’d sacrificed to take down the server cluster. “Who needs consoles?” he thought, “Dead weight”. His eyes were struggling to stay open, whenever he blinked he could see the moment. Rex, his trusty companion, howling as the package did its work. There was a huge blast of light and then nothingness. “Apocalypse” it was called. “I could get used to this”, he mused.
Ken heard the maglocks on the front doors click away as an atomic clock somewhere deep within the complex ticked 9:00:00 am. He turned and rushed up the steps to the doors and they slid open in a silent hiss. He’d rigged the queueing system, nobody else was getting service before he was. This was urgent. He strutted up to the gleaming marble counter and flashed his smile at the grey sullen face behind it. “Shaun” read the name tag pinned onto his drab grey uniform under the insignia of New Angeles.
In a flourish, he revealed his appointment ticket from the depths of his red trench coat. With a raised eyebrow, Shaun reached over and tapped a series of keys on his terminal. Somewhere in the Cayman Islands, this man had just received a nice lump sum payment courtesy of Haas-Bioroid. Civil service just doesn’t pay like it used to and it worked to Ken’s advantage.
After he’d sorted out his paperwork, Ken left the City Hall. On his way out, he caught sight of a terminal screen of a person waiting in queue. The screen had drone footage of the C.B.I. raid on HB. Ken had left a tip while waiting for City Hall to open, a little distraction for the corp who probably would not notice a healthy chunk of their coffers were missing.
…Knowin' what the cards were
By the way they held their eyes
So if you don't mind me sayin'
I can see you're out of aces…
The Near-Earth Hub was a tough nut to crack. This was sub-orbital space, where nobody can hear you scream. Rumors of entire sections of the Beanstalk being ejected to fall back down to Earth to eliminate a single runner were worrying. He’d had to blow all of his money to dodge the last round of traces. Help was expensive and out here on the ‘Stalk, even more so. Ken had just breached the HQ servers and his trusty mongoose was skittering around the last I.C.E. he’d broken past. A trail of azure-blue pixels traced the mongoose’s nervous movement.
There was no sign of trouble as he waved blocks of information away in an effort to find what he was looking for. Then there it was, the access to the CFO’s terminal. Ken worked quickly, he had seconds to siphon the accounts dry which usually took minutes. A bright red flash on the interface notified that the transfer was completed and Ken jacked out.
As he re-emerged into meat space, his ears were met by screams and the shattering of glass. He ripped the neural interface from his scalp and grabbed his coat. It was time to leave, and quickly.
Ken stepped out from the private terminal room and snuck a peek over his shoulder. There were screams coming from the floor below. He had no choice but to go up. His pace quickened as he approached the stairwell. Alarms began to blare, local law enforcement were probably on their way now too. He slid into the stairwell and took a quick glance below.
The face of a Dolan Securities goon and his trusty combat rifle stared back. Bullets whizzed past and Ken felt something hit him. He’d barely gotten out of the line of fire on time. He was beginning to bleed, but he had no time for that. He started bounding up the stairs, his hand reaching for his voicepad. He needed help and this time it would really cost him.
Somewhere in the deep bowels of City Hall, a terminal started bleeping.
I N C O M I N G C A L L
A loud volley of gunfire caused the hearing protection algorithms to mute the channel. Shaun let out a sigh. This kid never learned. “Hey Shaun,” Ken gasped, “kinda need some help!”
Shaun replied, “You know the deal. Payment up front”. He imagined the myriad of expletives Ken summoned as the channel went mute again. “Now? I’m a little busy if you can’t hear it yet!”, Ken yelled over the chaos. “Terms are terms. Rules are rules.,
Shaun reminded him.
More gunfire interspersed with silence. “SERIOUSLY?”
“You should know you’re in no position to negotiate.” Shaun’s patience was running thin.
The channel went mute again. When the volume normalised, Shaun heard Ken’s pained gasps and the sound of a door slamming shut.
“FINE. FINE…DONE. COULD USE HELP NOW.”
That was satisfying somehow, thought Shaun. He saw a small green notification in the corner of his terminal pop into existence which meant he had his upcoming Mumbad vacation paid for with change. He moved quickly, firing off a few bogus SWAT callouts to the library Ken was at. Hostage situation. High priority. Very Important Person. Those goons were going to be mistaken for terrorists. Within minutes, they may or may not be alive. Not that Shaun cared for either Ken or the goons, it was just that Ken paid better.
Work completed, Shaun returned to watching the latest vid of a cat playing a keyboard.
Meanwhile on the rooftop of the adjacent abandoned office complex, Ken lay waiting for help. He was bleeding, nothing fatal but hardly comfortable. He pulled out two memstrips from his pocked. He grit his teeth as he punched them into a portable console. The first strip loaded and the image of vicious teeth appeared and it ate away at a fire wall. That one, people called “The Eater”. The wall dissolved and Ken grinned grimly as he stuck the second into the terminal.
What did people call this one again?, he wondered.
…You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealin's done…
The Beanstalk, the sight of it triggers a feeling of awe every single time. He was arriving at an exclusive party, invite only. Some rich daddy’s boy had gotten the idea that he was a gambling savant. He had games of Deuces Wild set up on the patio of his SanSan mansion facing out to Breaker Bay. Ken managed to get past security. The Passport had gotten him into the credentials server and Ken had taken some creative liberty in his modifications. The bouncer s scanned Ken’s ID and his terminal display told himthat eKen was this boy’s third cousin twice removed.
He got in and found tables of poker players, each eyeing the other with suspicion and bets were made with cautious bravado. Ken scanned the patio, a gaggle of well-dressed ladies eyed him mischievously as they passed him but he paid them no heed. Soon, he found his target. The high stakes table and its oblivious host. Ken walked over and had to react quickly to avoid running into a well-dressed Asian who was angrily storming off. With a single smooth movement, Ken slid into the vacant seat at the table and signalled the dealer to deal him into the game.
There were 6 players. Minutes later, 5. It took no longer than half an hour for the third to last player to leave. Then it was just the dealer, the host and Ken. Both players had substantial piles of chips lying in front of them. Ken had a read on the guy; he could’ve won it all a while ago but he felt the need to teach this child a lesson. It also helped that Ken also had a ring acquired from a tryst with his contact down in the Underway. He’d snagged it by swapping it with an indistinguishable fake the morning after. He now had a ring that could read cards through their backs and relayed the information back to his ocular implants.
It came down to the final hand, the party had gathered to witness the final showdown. There was a palpable buzz in the air: the crowd anticipating a good show. Ken could see he was going to get pocket Aces as the dealer dealt. The host had a King pair himself. He called. Ken made a show of hesitation before raising the bet. The host, thinking he had Ken on the ropes, went all in. There was a loud clattering of chips as he pushed his pile forward. Ken’s face became a mask of shock. The buzz grew, the crowd waited. Red was on the ropes, they all thought.
After a sufficient pause for dramatic effect, Ken called and shoved his pile of chips to the center. The crowd went silent as the dealer signaled both gentlemen to reveal their hands. The host revealed his King pair and flashed a predatory grin in Ken’s direction. Ken stared at the cards and looked impassively back at the host. He flipped his cards over and saw the grin fall away from the host’s face. The crowd cheered, knowing that the host had just been played for a fool. Theatre at its best.
That night, he made a killing, cleaned all of them up; however, he got careless. An alarm from the micro-implant connected directly to his inner ear caught his attention and he discretely excused himself.
Ken rushed to the lavatory. He grabbed the first vacant cubicle, locked himself in and pulled out a terminal to find the warnings plastered all over its screen. He’d forgotten again. Always be careful hitting the Jinteki servers. He’d been avoiding them for a good reason but the Tennin job was just too good an opportunity to give up. One day these mistakes would become too expensive for him to buy his way out, but not today.
Not today, he thought as he slammed a familiar memstrip into the terminal and he was greeted by a familiar light.
…You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run…
He was on a tiny errand, someone wanted leverage. That meant Ken had to dig up some dirty laundry, menial work for a man of his skill but it paid well so it didn’t really matter. “Gotta think of the bigger picture”, he reminded himself. He’d found the chatlogs he was looking for and turned to leave the server, passing the glowing green remnants of the fae surrounding the crippled sentry. Ken cast another look behind him, thinking he’d heard something, thought better of it, and jacked out.
An annoyed bleeping greeted him on his return to meat space. He thumbed his console and the grinning visage of Laramy Fisk flashed onto the terminal screen.
“Hey my man, you still keen on attending my seminar?”
Laramy had been trying to invite him to appear on one of his seminars, something about investment and making money work for you. Ken never believed in that mantra but the opportunity to glean information about the megacorps straight from the horse’s mouth was always welcome. Laramy promised he just had to parrot out some lines in front of a set of slides and these corporate drones would “just lap that stuff right up”, or so he said.
“Sure, this evening right?”
“Yeap! Knew you’d come around to it”
With a patronising wink, Laramy ended the call and his visage disappeared from the screen.
That evening, Ken rocked up to the Worlds Plaza and found the convention centre. The plaza was a buzzing hive of activity. There were people as far as the eye could see; tourists, business types and staff all crowded together made for an interesting sight. A quick glance at the plaza directory revealed the way to the seminar rooms. Ken picked up his pace; he was already running late. He jostled his way to a set of escalators, nearly tripping over a suit who was busy chastising his sleep-deprived assistant. The sheer mass of the crowd helped to preserve his anonymity despite the hurry he was in.
FISK INVESTMENT SEMINAR
It was emblazoned on a digital sign on an impressive set of double mahogany doors. He pushed them aside to find himself in a ballroom surrounded by suits. Suits as far as the eye could see. A sea of corporate colours. Ken mingled, engaging in small talk but mostly eavesdropping the surrounding conversations. He’d hoped to get juicy tidbits which would’ve been handy for his latest job hitting Weyland servers. Ken noticed a man in a verdant green suit that might be his lucky break. He was hunched over the bar, complaining to a man in Globalsec whites.
“… yeah our servers are kinda vulnerable now that we’re migrating them again… them higher ups don’t care… its Jim do this Jim do thaaat…”
An hour later, the man was seven drinks past his limit. Ken had excused himself to use the lavatory and nobody had noticed his absence. The drunken rantings had saved Ken much trouble and gotten him into the servers where they temporarily housed the data from Weyland HQ. He was surrounded by a treasure trove of information, from black accounts to reports of corporate manipulation of local government. Weyland was always the most conventional of the corporations; their data in cyberspace were exact duplicates of their paper-based copies in meat space.
Ken strolled up to the paper mountain and fired up the information sifting algorithm. He’d loved to take it all with him but time was of the essence. He watched a blue haired child emerge and the child started sorting out the paper into two neat piles. Somehow, he’d wished someone had gone through and sorted out all the files with paperclips. That would’ve saved him so much trouble. The sifter was good but not great.
Within seconds, Ken was greeted by two huge piles of paper. He could only take one. Ken gave the huge piles a skeptical look. Somehow, something felt off. The Weyland suit: conveniently handy when Ken had this job to do. That suit, carelessly blurting important security information; it was too obvious. Ken massaged the bullet wound he’d taken with him from the library. Even in cyberspace, the skin still felt raw.
Ken gave a wry grin and spun around to leave the server. As he left, he pulled out the same memstick, now well worn.
Same old thing, he thought as the world went white.
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