HotZone South of the Border
- Iggy (Stanley Ignatious Kwiakowski), Blair's techno-monk
- John Murdock, Darren's....
- Aluf Mishne, aka Rasputin, aka The Mad Jew, Josh's combat-hardened "Mad Jew" from Gaza
- Gim Rhee, the martial artist played by Ernest
- Esti Avatau, Sharla's Israeli operative
- Kubra, Blair's Persian fighter.
- EZ, Andrew's hammer-wielding wrecking ball.
(The following was written in 2007.) It's ten years in the future on Gurth, and the world has changed significantly in the last 20 years. America invaded Iraq in 2003, and tensions began escalating worldwide immediately. In 2008, the sectarian violence in Iraq spread like wildfire, and War in Iraq became the War in the Middle East which became the Central Asian Crisis. Long before pundits stopped changing the label, it was a world class clusterfuck. Had Russia, China, and India not united to quell the violence through diplomatic means in 2011-2012, the crisis was on track to evolve into World War 3.
This gradual unraveling of peaceful cohabitation was apparent to military leaders in numerous countries, and in fact the United States Special Operations Command presciently predicted a change in strategy would be required way back in 2006 when they issued the following public statement:
“Creating conditions where people want to live peacefully is a powerful weapon against terrorism. Direct action will become increasingly restricted as the Global War on Terrorism matures. Indirect actions of Foreign Internal Defense and Civil Affairs programs are the key to winning the war on terror.” 1
Powerful governments with awesome military arsenals became increasingly aware that wielding their power was becoming politically untenable in all but the most extreme situations. United States Special Operations Command, as just one example of a trend worldwide, quadrupled in funding and personnel from 2008-2015, but forced a significant portion of their Direct Action specialists into early retirement, and instead filled their ranks with civil engineers, psy ops specialists, administrators, and diplomats.
However, focused Direct Action operations will always be required when organized groups are willing to commit violence to contravene national interests, and so outside of government military operations, a second and third tier of operatives evolved. The second tier consisted of large private security companies, with tens of thousands of employees, some tiny portion of which could be used for “wet work” of Direct Action operations.
The third tier has evolved over the past 7-8 years. Increasing public scrutiny over and demand for transparency in military expenditures in industrialized nations worldwide has made certain operations difficult to fund through the large and somewhat infamous security corporations. However, worldwide, government agencies always have funds available for classified “black” operations, and it is here that the third tier of operatives has found its niche.
This third tier, or “SubNet” is a loose affiliation of a few thousand specialists and commanders worldwide, mostly ex-military. By adopting terrorist organizations' practice of maintaining “cells” which know little about global operations, the SubNet maintains a thick veil and appears to be nothing more than disconnected gangs of shadowy figures.
Your team is one such cell.
You're all freelance mercenaries who have been working as a team for the last five years, based out of a small island compound off the coast of San Carlos, Mexico, on the Gulf of California.
Your compound was built by an ostentatious drug lord in the 1980s, fell derelict through the early 2000s, and most recently restored by your predecessor, a software billionaire with a lot of paranoia who has since moved on to Antarctica. You have made significant alterations as well, and now the compound includes:
- 12,000 sq ft 9-bedroom modern mansion with bulletproof glass throughout
- Infrared and other sensors throughout the island connected to an elaborate security system
- Helipad and lightweight helicopter
- A dock in a protected cove with two racing boats and a fishing boat
- An underground shooting range and armory
- An elaborate outdoor gym
- A diving board at the top of a 50' cliff above warm aquamarine waters
- A completely self-sufficient reverse osmosis and wastewater treatment system
- Several outbuildings - staff quarters, electronics lab
- Infinity pool and tiki bar with sound system and dance floor
You have two full time staff on the island, and an on-call pilot.
- Isabella Lopez is your financial manager, short-range helicopter pilot, cocktail waitress, and Brazilian dance instructor.
- Chuy Gomez is your groundskeeper, maintenance man, executive chef, and ballroom dance instructor.
- Paula Jones lives in San Carlos near a private airstrip and warehouse where she maintains a customized Gulfstream 650 and several boats and other vehicles for you. She is available 92% of the time to take you anywhere in the hemisphere. The rest of the time she is transporting other wealthy clients, or drunk at the bar.
It's typical for your team to go months between missions, and during downtime, you might do some rock climbing, sport fishing, illegal gambling, motorcycle racing, pearl diving, or tequila guzzling. Or you may take trips into Mexico City for concerts and to tour the museums and opera, if you're into that sort of thing.
Some recent missions include:
- The local pearl tycoon paid you US$500,000 to track down a stolen shipment. The Venezuelan gang that took them didn't go easily, and some of you vowed to carry more ammunition in the future.
- Mr. Black paid you to conduct surveillance on an offshore drilling rig in the Pacific. Your drone was disappeared mysteriously, and you had to go in quietly on a raft at night to take pictures -- of a Chinese submarine paying the rig a visit.
- Captain Ramon Ramirez of the Mexican military hired you as a support team during a raid on a cartel compound outside Mexico City. The operation was a bloody mess, and Ramirez, previously a reliable client, could not produce the US$750,000 cash he'd promised, but you accepted crates of synthetic smart drugs valued at $2M.
- A German journalist paid you €150,000 to drive her to a mountain compound and ensure her safety during a meeting with a cartel boss. The trip was uneventful.
Background stories and proposed character details are due to the GM by end of day.....FEB 26, 2017
These are 250 point action hero characters.
If you are not building your character:
- Name, gender, age (28-55), height, weight
- Appearance description + (Hideous/Ugly/Unattractive/Average/Attractive/Gorgeous)
- Background story (many examples at HotZone#Characters, HotZone_Deux#Characters, HotZone_3#Characters)
- If trained by a national military, which? What focus? How long? How far did you get?
- If not, who taught you your action hero skills?
- Native language, additional languages (broken, accented, or fluent?)
- Social strengths and weaknesses - super schmoozy, perfect liar, terrible liar, playboy, barking colonel, or an awkward loner or something else?
- Personality and/or proposed Advantages & Disadvantages
- Minimum One Contact -- an acquaintance or colleague or partner, somewhere, who might be able to provide information, sometimes. More knowledgeable and available contacts cost more, of course. Without Contacts, you have no social history, nobody worth calling for advice, assistance, or info.
- Skills -- your focus/expertise. You can only be super-awesome at one or two things, but sometimes it can be more valauble to be versatile and pretty good at lots of things.
- Desired Attributes (ST, IQ, DX, HT, 8-16)
- Desired "go bag" gear. Two enormous revolvers and a bulletproof vest? 12 lbs of C4? $50k in cash? Laptop and bug detector? Etc. Additional gear will be available, this is just a starter list.
- Anything special you want to propose. Deep kung-fu training. Insane pistol skills. Ability to pilot any aircraft. Rapid Healing. Tons of hit points. Personal cell phone number of the King of Indonesia?
- Quirks, dislikes, habits, sayings, prejudices, fears, appetites, scars, tattoos, enemies, etc.
- Though your skills may be focused anywhere you like, you are a capable tactical operator. You can run and shoot.
- Nothing supernatural.
- You can speak English competently -- additional languages are encouraged (and cost a couple points each).
- Your background almost certainly includes years of state military training. But you no longer have any Duty to any government.
- Sense of Duty to the team.
If you are building your character:
- Max 150 points total in Attributes (ST, DX, HT, IQ) -- and Max Level 16 in any attribute.
- Max -100 points in Disadvantages
- -5 points in Quirks required
- 5 points in Perks optional
Just a Stolen Boat
Bella, while bring a third beer to Murdock in the underground gun range, gets a phone call, and immediately seems distressed. Murdock arranges for Iggy to listen in, and when she hangs up she reports that her cousin Carlos has a problem.
It seems that the Hijar brothers, Pepe and Tony, threatened violence and made off with the boat, a charter fishing vessel which constitutes the entirety of Carlos' livelihood. "Can't you please help", pleads young Bella.
Naturally, the team takes action. The Mad Jew is brought up to speed, Isabella is given a budget to rent Carlos a temporary replacement boat, go-bags are packed, dossiers are downloaded on the small-time crook brothers, and the team is aloft in Bella's light helicopter.
First stop, the oceanside bar that Carlos is sitting in. They land on the roof and join him by the beach. Murdock begins drinking, naturally, and the team learns that the Hijars have a beachside compound 50 miles up the coast.
The team loads back into the chopper after convincing Murdock to leave the bar (quart of tequila in hand) and flies low along the rocky coastline as the afternoon sun turns the whole world orange. En route, Iggy programs tiny personal and network surveillance drones and sends them aloft once the team directs Bella to land them on the beach a mile south of the compound.
Debate ensues when a family of eight, cooking out on the beach, is spotted. The team is fully outfitted with tactical goggles, body armor and long guns, but opts to run straight at the family. The Mad Jew effectively terrorizes the innocent civilians and throws all their cell phones in the ocean. And then the team runs along.
After ascending a ridge of sand dunes, they survey the scene. Beyond, there is a placid lagoon, into which a long wooden pier juts. Two boats are moored, the stolen fishing boat, and a much larger powerboat sporting a pirate flag and anarchist graffiti.
On the beach, a dozen burly white guys in denim and leather are cavorting with guns and whiskey. The Hijar brothers are nowhere to be seen, but a modest villa rests on the hillside overlooking the beach.
While Iggy maneuvers his drone army into a 3D surveillance dome above the entire property, and Murdock practices switching targets in his rifle scope, the Mad Jew crawls through the sand and scrub brush to sneak up on a urinating biker, surprises him, breaks his jaw, and drags him back for interrogation.
The terrified biker explains that the fishing vessel is to be used to transport a shipment and everyone's gonna make money, including the Hijar brothers, who are inside the villa, semi-captive, while everyone waits for the Columbians to arrive.
Not much more is learned before the Mad Jew slits his throat.
A plan begins brewing: kill em' all.
Or maybe: Just steal the boat back.
Until next episode....
Just a Stolen Boat Part 2
Night falls on the beach, and the team sneaks through sandy brush to the side of the house while the bikers party on the beach.
One biker stands outside near the beach-facing deck, and spied through a window, sits in an easy chair with a shotgun across his legs, apparently guarding the Hijar brothers.
Noting the natural gas line meter, Iggy improvises an explosive device, and Murdock keeps an eye on the guard outside.
After affixing his silencer, Murdock quietly extinguishes the guard, and then moves towards the parked truck in the driveway.
Meanwhile, Iggy and the Mad Jew circle round the back of the house, and Iggy approaches the window, aiming at the shotgun-wielding biker in the easy chair. Iggy's three unsuppressed but carefully placed shots through the glass ends the biker, and the Hijar brothers hit the floor, terrified.
The team takes up a position in the dunes on the side of the house as the bikers run up the beach. It's like fish in a barrel for the Mad Jew, who sprays the oncoming horde with his Uzi. Murdock helps out with his enormous sniper rifle, and in seconds the entire gang is dead or on the run.
Sirens wail in the distance as the team descends to the pier and the Mad Jew briefly searches the gang's powerboat before blasting holes in its hull with his Desert Eagle. Murdock boards the smaller fishing vessel and discovers -- through a bullethole he was responsible for -- that the console is stuffed with bricks of US$100 bills.
Iggy triggers his explosive device, creating an earth-shaking boom, flattening most of the house, and sending a roiling orange fireball up into the night sky.
Bella checks in and is shortly aloft in the chopper, racing up the beach to pick up the team. From 1000' above with no lights on, Bella, Iggy, and the Mad Jew accompany Murdock as he pilots the fishing boat back home, avoiding an enormous trawler infested with gun-toting Columbians along the way.
Overnight, the team extracts the cash and repairs the damage to the fishing boat before returning it to its rightful owner. Bella expresses her gratitude with celebratory cocktails.
The morning news reports that the hapless Hijar brothers somehow repelled the violent attack of dozens of American gang members.
The team laughs it off and goes back to indulging in their respective hobbies.
Afterword: The team establishes surveillance on the Hijar Brothers.
- The biker pirate anarchists come back for revenge.
- The terrorized beach family retrieves a phone with great pictures of the team, turns it into authorities, troubles begin.
- The Columbians made a trip for nothing and want to know who's responsible.
At Iggy's urging, the team decides to buy a new LIDAR sensor system for the compound. After all, if bad guys could have high-res sensors on the compound from 10 miles away, the team may as well have something similar.
Iggy has even identified a seller, a former Mexican bureaucrat who provided inventory and procurement functions for the federal police. He's eager to sell, the gear is military grade, relatively modern, and the price is unbeatable, just $150k US. The only snag is that he wants the money in small bills -- pesos.
Through his Dark Web contacts, Iggy identifies a semi-sketchy company nearby willing to provide the Mexican cash in exchange for $200k US, a check-cashing store in Cabo.
Isabella Lopez indicates her readiness as well, mixes up a thermos of margaritas for the guys, and then everyone loads into the light chopper she pilots so expertly.
After dark, she tells Iggy to refuel the craft 1000' feet above the Gulf of California. He does so with aplomb.
Along the way, the team concocts a plan. It just so happens that the Baja 500 is the next day, and Iggy and the Mad Jew decide to use it as cover.
Iggy writes a program that parses the details of the race teams and decides that a Swedish couple is their best mark. They're middle-aged, never win, and are financially distressed. They're tired, and can be bought, the algorithm concludes.
At the race camp outside of La Paz the next morning, the team approaches the Swedish maintenance team, but is briefly delayed while the Mad Jew beats up a German mechanic. He emerges unscathed just in time -- the couple arrives, their customized Land Rover limping along. The maintenance crew, all tall blonde women, jump into action, and Iggy speaks with the couple.
Despite his lack of salesmanship, Iggy prevails, wire money and ill-fitting costumes are transferred, and the team blasts south across the rugged desert, eventually rolling the race camp, handing the rig off to the blondes, and catching a taxi into Cabo San Lucas proper.
The city is hot and crowded, as is the check cashing store. Iggy gets in line, and the Mad Jew keeps watch from a corner near an air-conditioning vent.
Shortly, the Mad Jew spots a crew of knuckleheads approaching purposefully on the sidewalk outside and leaps into action. He steps outside and begins shooting them.
Iggy follows him out, and a dramatic gun battle plays out, civilians screaming and running, ditching their cars, taking cover. It's mayhem, but after a few seconds, the bad guys are down.
Iggy conducts the transaction with the store owner, collects an injured Mad Jew from the blood-slick sidewalk, and hails a new cab.
Isabella is summoned, and a suburban soccer field identified as a pickup spot. Thirty minutes of first aid later, the Mad Jew is mobile and the chopper arrives.
The next day, after handling the LIDAR transaction, Iggy sends a few 'thank you notes' of cash -- to the beaten-down Germans, the Swedish mechanics, and the helpful cab driver.
- The German mechanic holds a grudge.
- The Swedish mechanics hold a grudge.
- The LIDAR is bugged.
- One of the gangbangers (Juan Carlos Giovanni) crawled away from the scene, his long time partner slain:
Gunned Down in Guaymas
Iggy receives a secure SMS from Mr. Black informing him that Iggy will shortly receive a call from Special Agent Tanya Colbert, an Interpol official based out of Mexico City, and that Iggy and the team should help her with her conundrum.
Sure enough, an absolutely adorable French accent emerges from his headset moments later. Ms. Colbert explains that she is tracking a thief who has absconded with a rare and ancient piece of erotic art from a museum in Mexico City, and she has reason to believe he is headed to Guaymas. Furthermore, believes this because the American FBI contacted to let her know that a porn tycoon who collects erotic art crossed the border early this morning with a large amount of cash en route to Guaymas.
She intends to arrest or both of them and recover the erotic artifact. The problem is that the local cops cannot spare any officers for backup of recon. She's desperately worked her network while on the road for the past 18 hours, and she's hopeful the team is available. Immediately.
Iggy collects Murdock from the poolside bar and Isabella flies them to their storage garage on the mainland to pick a car, which turns out to be a 10-yr-old Suburban with rust spots and bullet-resistant body panels and glass.
Soon the team has made Agent Colbert's acquaintance and has fanned out in the crowd at an art festival a block from the Grand Hotel, where they have determined the sex tycoon is staying. After their recon turns up only a seemingly related knucklehead, Iggy sends a surveillance drone up to the window of the honeymoon suite to assess its condition.
What he witnesses is gut-wrenching. The tycoon is sitting in a chair watching 5 local gangsters have their way with two shockingly young ladies who appear drugged.
Iggy mirrors his screen to Murdock and hands a spare pair of HUD glasses to Tanya, who gasps. INTERPOL, she asserts, is even more interested in human trafficking and slavery than international art thieves. So it is agreed, the trio will move in to make arrests immediately, without warrants or other backup.
Iggy arranges for mini-flashbang drones to go off in the room just before a hinge-busting drone knocks out the door.
The result: screams and shouts and smoke in the room, but the door is still attached. Murdock's kicks and Iggy's well-placed bullets knock it down though, and the team streams in.
But precious seconds have passed, and the bad guys are moving through the thick smoke, headed for weapons, it is assumed.
A gun battle ensues. Murdock is horrified when he gambles on a moving figure and shoots one of the girls. He runs to her and tries to stop the bleeding, pausing only to save Tanya's life with 3 perfect headshots on her assailant.
Iggy deals with two gangsters who have taken refuge in a side bedroom, sustaining two gunshot wounds in the process. Eventually, he retreats and sends in frag grenade drones to disable them.
This sets off the hotel sprinklers, and sirens wail in the distance.
Iggy calls Isabella for a rooftop pickup. A quick conversation about the injured girl ensues, resulting in the team taking her back to their island for treatment.
Meanwhile, Tanya stays behind with the local cops with a cuffed Mr. Pingle, one terrified Nicaraguan girl, and 5 dead or near-dead hired guns.
- The injured girl is going to wake up in unfamiliar surroundings.
- The thief and the stolen art were not encountered. Where is he?
- Mr. Pingle is very rich and has very good lawyers. He will not appreciate being humiliated.
- Was the thug at the art fair relevant?
Extracting a Monster
Two weeks have passed:
- Murdock nurses his remorse over the accidental shooting with vast amounts of alcohol and repeatedly kicks in and then rebuilds the door to the shooting range.
- Raquel Bolivar, the injured girl, recovers from the gunshot wound and is taken under the wing of Isabella Lopez, who has begun teaching her English and water-yoga. A mental health pro has been flown in several times to check on her as well.
- The Mad Jew continues to limp around, thanks to injuries received on the team's recent adventure in Cabo.
- Tanya Colbert has unraveled the mystery of how Raquel and the other Nicaraguan girl came to be in Donald Pingle's hotel suite. She has traced the reprehensible escort service to a bank account of one Pedro Menudo, a heavy hitting regional drug lord.
While the ladies engage in a late afternoon water-yoga session, Murdock sips on his 3rd after-lunch beer, and Iggy tinkers with his drone software, Tanya calls. She has been unable to generate INTERPOL support for a raid on Menudo's fortified mountain compound, but she has received intel that the drug lord has an appointment with one of his bankers in Hermasillo at 5PM - today. Won't the team please help?
Iggy shouts to Isabella to bring Murdock some coffee and fire up the chopper, and the team is in the air minutes later. En route, Iggy begins the digital intelligence gathering process, and by the time the chopper lands on the roof of the parking garage across from the 16-story bank building, he hacks various parts of the bank's electronic infrastructure. Notably, he has complete control of the elevator system, security cameras, and staff calendars.
Murdock takes up a sniper position above as the bad guys maneuver rush hour traffic to the bank in an enormous Suburban and glistening silver BMW. The larger vehicle drives up on the sidewalk and a small army of thugs waving pistols scatters hapless passers-by. Half of them accompany Menudo within, while the rest stand around on the sidewalk looking menacing.
Meanwhile, Iggy has descended to the coffee shop on the ground floor of the garage to rendezvous with Tanya and her new 'assistant', Texas Slim. Iggy presses her for a coherent plan. She says she under-anticipated the number of goons and that the team should withdraw and follow them to their next destination rather than risk a gun battle on a busy city street.
From above, over comms, Murdock shares an idea -- use Iggy's elevator mastery to deliver the drug lord to the roof of the bank and snatch him there. Brilliant!
Iggy, Tanya, and Slim join Murdock on the roof of the garage, and Isabella deftly delivers them across the street to the roof of the bank, where Iggy quickly disables the security cameras.
The elevator shaft is in the center of the building, aside an access stairwell which is apparently locked with a chain on the inside. The team puzzles over how to quietly infiltrate the stairwell until Slim blasts it with his 44 magnum, causing sprinklers to start spraying until Iggy disables them.
Isabella keeps the rotors turning while the team slips in and the bad guys file into the elevator nine floors below, two enormous duffel bags in hand. Murdock positions himself in the office across the hall with his sniper rifle braced against a mahogany banker's desk. Slim and Iggy stand to either side of the elevator doors, and Tanya right in front of them, hands on her hips, ready to demand Menudo's surrender.
Iggy brings the elevator up and leaves the doors closed. Security cameras (projected by Iggy on the team's HUD glasses) reveal that Menudo's four goons have weapons out, pointing at the doors.
Despite Tanya's compelling reasoning and white silk blouse, the bad guys seem disinclined to surrender, and so Murdock, after careful calculations, blasts the elevator door just to the right of Tanya's elbow. The building shudders, the doors open, and three of the four henchmen are down, guts everywhere.
Utterly shocked, Menudo and the remaining goon are quickly taken into custody by Slim and Iggy.
Tanya requests that the team provide their island compound in San Carlos for interrogation, and the team is aloft a minute later...
The team installs Menudo in their dedicated interrogation facility. Tanya Colbert conducts the questioning, Iggy watches from outside, while Murdock sips a cocktail poolside with Isabella and listens in over his earpiece.
Tanya makes headway, but also makes Menudo angry, and the gangster lunges forward, pinning Tanya's slim neck against the wall with his dirty hand. Iggy draws a weapon and prepares to move in, but pauses after Murdock pipes his voice into the interrogation room, drawling calmly, "Iggy, want me to just pull the trigger from here?"
Menudo glances around, trying to find the hidden death ray. Anxiety prevails, and he unhands the French detective.
Soon thereafter, Tanya extracts the info needed. The cash Menudo was withdrawing was destined for a human trafficker at a rail yard in Hermasillo -- tonight. There's time to get there, so the team is aloft a few minutes later, organizing a private bus transport for imagined victims along the way.
After a surreptitious landing a few blocks away, Murdock approaches and ascends an 80' light pole for overwatch while Iggy takes over the railyard's security system. A Humvee and a jeep full of dudes are keeping watch on a railcar.
Iggy digitally maneuvers the car into a sleepy backwater of the railyard, which spooks the jeep dudes, and they depart.
Soon, the Humvee guys emerge, and Murdock starts lining them up and dropping them. Iggy assists, and takes out the goon who peeks out of the rail car itself.
After the brief flurry of lead, the team moves in to collect twenty South American women. A conversation with Isabella and Tanya results in sending the busload of victims to the San Carlos YWCA, and the team scurries back to the compound.
Tanya Colbert and Texas Slim arrange a press conference at the YWCA in which Menudo is in shackles and victims are in the background. It is a public perception win, and Tanya reports later that she has additional funding for operations.
Menudo is headed for the International Criminal Court, and will be facing life imprisonment when his trial gets through the system some time in the next few years...
Sinking a Sub
On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Black contacts Iggy and advises that the team's help is needed: operative Nash Awan will provide a briefing, and is en route and will need a pickup at the Guaymas airport shortly.
Iggy deploys Isabella and squad of surveillance drones to ensure the pickup is successful.
Shortly, Nash briefs the team poolside once the Mad Jew returns from his beachside workout. Serendipitously, Nash looks exactly like a Nazi-sympathizing nuclear engineer who has been hired by the Steel Heel, a Russian crime syndicate, to make their nuclear warhead operational. The Russians plan to pick up this engineer in a sleepy beach town on the west coast of Baja and take him out to their 1970s-era Russian nuclear submarine.
Other assets have taken care of the actual engineer, so Nash and his support team just need to show up for the pickup, assess the warhead, upload the data, and get out alive. The team proceeds to drink rum and talk about a plan and their fake identities of a nuclear engineer, a mechanic, a technician, and a bodyguard.
Early the next morning, Isabella (in a white minidress and combat boots) delivers the team to the beach, and they hike the brief remaining distance to the tiki bar where the meet is to take place.
The Mad Jew gets a Mexican Long Island Deluxe and wanders into the village to buy a 3' sombrero. The rest of the team evaluates ingress and egress while Iggy's drones watch for the Russians.
Soon, they arrive, three jump-suited goons, one of which is nearly 7' tall. They all proceed to get wickedly drunk before escorting the team back to the boat for the two hour, boozy, sun-drenched ride out to the sub, which emerges in an avalanche of bubbles.
There, the team is introduced to the sub's captain and relieved of all their weapons, aside from the commando knife the Mad Jew manages to conceal.
Soon they have their eyes on the target -- an 1970s era Chinese nuclear warhead. Nash, having studied these things for months, identifies two problems with the warhead, reports that he needs to go back into town for improvised supplies.
Back on deck, the captain gets a phone call that appears to concern him. He asks Nash, "Dr. Blitzer, when did we first communicate?"
On cue, the team jumps to action. Murdock bashes the captain with his toolbox, breaking ribs and sending the man into the water. The Mad Jew mows down sailors with a seized submachine gun. Nash and Iggy pop off rounds with pilfered sidearms. Thanks to the team's tactical vests, only the Mad Jew is injured in the arm.
Iggy sends a swarm of flashbang drones into the hull of the vessel, signals Isabella for a pickup, and the team loads into the boat and heads for shore.
Halfway back, a deep thud marks the demolition of the sub by who knows what, and Isabella swirls in for the escape.
Months pass without a mission, which leads the team to attend WarriorCon in Nevada. On the way back in Isabella's chopper, Mr. Black requests an authenticated location/altitude/velocity update, which Iggy provides.
The mission: a USMIL payload on the way to orbit from Spaceport America exploded, and one component was hurled into the mountains of northern Sonora. It's an important bit, an optical tracking system, Mr. Black says, and needs to be secured. The problem is that Chinese intelligence agents are closer than the American team, the Mexican feds are on the way, and some local narcos are closer still. So the team's mission is to ensure the sensitive technology does not fall into the wrong hands.
Isabella's flight path is updated, and near sunset, the team is on the ground not a mile from the crash site, which turns out to be an irrigation pond on a mountain ranch. Narcos with various battered guns are excited to extract the payload from the pond, and there are a lot of them, so the team takes up recon positions and waits.
It doesn't take long for Iggy's drone to identify a suspicious vehicle several miles downhill, which seems to be preparing a large jet-powered drone for launch. And, a convoy of federales a few miles back.
Aluf hikes down to a bridge to sabotage its stability, and then moves on to check out the Chinese. Meanwhile, Iggy monitors the narcos' efforts to extract the space thing.
The Mexican cops approach sooner than hoped, and Aluf hunkers down to observe. The Chinese agent, his jet-powered drone exposed and colleagues scattered in the woods, pretends to be a tourist. Before the conversation proceeds much further, Aluf takes his shot(s).
The Mexican captain and his first lieutenant are fatally injured, and the Chinese agent/tourist dives for cover. The rest of the federales begin firing indiscriminately into the forest, and Aluf begins jogging back up the mountain, bullets knocking off chunks of bark and rock around him.
Iggy identifies a second drone above the ranch pond, and after some mild espionage, determines it is American. It hovers, virtually soundless, a beacon for the wet-work black-ops team that is incoming.
The approaching federales' shots blend with the narcos' celebratory gunfire, and as the collision between the two armed groups approaches, the Americans arrive in a silent chopper to retrieve their property.
After a few (deadly) pot shots at the narcos/farmers, they scatter, and the team absconds with a 1977 Ford F150. Mission Accomplished.
Jason Webster, driving a truckload of what he believes to be cocaine, is pulled over by federales in the Sonoran Desert. It's strange, because he was assured by his bosses that the entire travel pipeline was bought and paid for. But, because the truck has a bank-vault-level lock on it, he's confident this annoyance will pass.
The federales, after asking Jason just a few questions, proceed to the back of the trailer, and are able to open it with some sort of privileged access/code/password/device.
To Jason's great suprise, rather than 10k kilos of cocaine, the trailer contains 19 dehydrated South American teenage girls.
Unsuprised, the federales discuss which one is "best", and pull her out.
Jason kills the four federales in a bloodbath that punctures and drains his gas tank.
After a quick coordinating communication session, the chopper lands nearby and the most severe cases of dehydration are loaded up and sent back to the hospital in Guaymas.
After Iggy's surveillance drones alert him to an approaching government vehicle, the team collaborates to move the remaining girls into the Humvee and block the road with the semi. And, a cache of 200 kilos of coke is discovered in a hidden compartment, to Jason's great satisfaction.
The incoming federales stop and observe, giving the team and 9 girls time to split, loaded into a partially disassembled Humvee, while the feds approach and load up the coke, evidently losing interest in anything else.
Soon, the team approaches a town of 3000 souls, and the girls express an strong interest in food and water. The team stops, and Jason accompanies the young ladies into a tacqueria. One runs off, and Jason sends the eldest of the ladies after her while Iggy gets drone surveillance set up.
Outside, the team spots a customized green school bus parked in front of a bar. It's a perfect vehicle for human transport, andthe team soon meats its owner, Brucey, a blonde surfer dude from Oregon, along with his Peruvian wide and gaggle of kids.
Aluf prevails (with $5k cash and a brandished Desert Eagle) upon Brucey to sell the bus, but just after the transaction, 3 new feds walk into the bar. One takes a particular interest in the Hebrew Hammer, and joins him at his corner table.
After a round of drinks and a arm wrestling wager, Aluf manages not to kill the feds, defusing their suspicion with $100 bills.
Meanwhile, Isabella has returned with the chopper and the team offloads the rest of the ladies.
Next step, after Jason's vigorous advocacy, is to go back and get the cocaine. In Brucey's bus, the group heads back south while Iggy's drones scout ahead. A few well-placed grenade drones disable the vehicle, and Aluf jogs into the desert to finish them off.
The feds wave the bus forward, unaware of their fate, and Jason obliges, politely approaching. And then, violently accelerating, smashing into the leader and hurling him into a cactus-infested ditch.
Aluf snipes another, and Iggy's drones finish the last one.
After some light repairs to the bus, the team loads the coke and heads back north, parting ways shortly thereafter -- Iggy and Aluf head back to base, and Jason proceeds with his adventure.
Jason decides to repair the truck and continue his drive north to meet the Broker.
He successfully passes through (bribed) border patrol and meets with the Broker.
He successfully extracts information about the Buyer.
He successfully gets into the Buyer's sprawling hunting ranch in southwest Texas.
He is killed in a vicious firefight.
Iggy's AI info-bots alert him to the El Paso Times headline: "Disgraced Veteran Opens Fire on Texas Ranch: 14 Dead"
It's Wednesday afternoon. The Hebrew Hammer is away, scuba-diving with a Venezuelan supermodel. Murdock is passed out drunk. And Iggy is snacking on Isabella's shrimp cocktail, poolside, when Mr. Black makes contact.
A trustworthy ally, Gim Rhee, is needs a team to help with a problem. Gim provides personal protective services for KK, a social media phenom, and she's been abducted. Her GPS transponder puts her at an airfield near Guaymas, in the team's back yard, and he is on his way.
While Isabella picks up Gim, Iggy has does some data-mining and hypothesizes that Raul Gomez, CEO of "Predator Security, LLC" may be involved. The LLC owns a luxury house in the hills overlooking San Carlos, and Iggy deploys his drones to get eyes on the target. Before they arrive, Gim reports he has received another "ping", and that KK is apparently at the very house.
After equipping Gim from the arsenal, the two load Murdock and his gear into the chopper, and Isabella flies the team over to the house, where, Iggy reports, an adult video is being filmed.
While Murdock snoozes, Gim and Iggy infiltrate the house, dispatching two goons in the process, and scaring off the camera crew and actors. KK is not there.
While contemplating options, a new ping comes in -- she's a private airfield outside Juarez.
The team loads back into the chopper as the sun drops below the sea, and zooms across the desert to the airfield, only to get another ping that KK is in a garbage dump nearby. Murdock finally coming to his senses and sets up overwatch at the edge of the dump while Iggy and Gim investigate, a task that is hastened by Iggy's hacking of Gim's GPS tracker software to ping every 10 seconds. They soon find the transponder, a belly-button (?) ring, inside a beer can. KK is not there.
Iggy and Gim contemplate their options, while Murdock tracks the movements of the lone rent-a-cop on the far side of the dump. As an exercise, he shoots the walky-talky out of the fellow's hand before the team makes its next move -- to a modest suburban house in the hills of Juarez owned by the abductor.
Landing in the middle of the neighborhood street a few blocks away, the team hears sounds of sports on TV, a festive quinceanera, and squabbling spouses on their way to Raul's house. Murdock kicks in the back door, which sets off a security alarm, which Iggy blasts into silence with his assault rifle.
Iggy breaks into the desktop computer in the office, downloads Raul's mail, and finds that he works for Rico Gordo a very wealthy mover-and-shaker of the region. In the email, Mr. Gordo approves of Raul's recent request to borrow the villa while Mr. Gordo recuperates from surgery in Mexico City.
Back into the chopper, and the team heads higher into the mountains, eventually setting down less than a mile from the Gordo villa. They cross the impossibly green horse pasture en route to the will-lit luxury villa, startling a half dozen beautiful white Arabian horses along the way.
Gim sneaks up and gets into fisticuffs with one sentry while Murdock sets up for a one-shot-two-kills attempt. He succeeds, and then turns his weapon on Gim's opponent, who has just fired a spray of bullets point blank at Gim, whose arm hangs, bloody and useless. Just as Gim is about to kick the sentry again, his target's head explodes.
Meanwhile, Iggy shoots his way through the giant windows into the darkened house, switches his goggles to night vision, and makes his way down a long hallway to a bedroom door. He opens it, sends a flashbang in, and then, deafened, zip-ties KK and Raul.
He leads the grateful celebrity out, where she nuzzles Gim affectionately, and then calls for pickup.
South of South of the Border
More than a month goes by, during which Murdock drinks tequila and fires at targets, the Hebrew Hammer runs on the beach and eats latkehs, and Iggy attends a quantum computing conference in Switzerland and provides electronic surveillance training to Gim remotely.
Meanwhile, Gim and KK are back to their old travel schedule, with KK sparing no expense to transport her entourage through the luxury resorts of South and Central America, wherever there is a wet t-shirt or bikini contest. It is during this grueling schedule that KK makes a new friend, fellow contestant Angelica Lopez, at the 'Secrets' resort in the far south of Mexico.
Angelica is terrified because her family just across the border in Guatemala has gotten tangled up in the politics that has led to an ongoing and violent coup. Compassionate KK insists that Gim "do something", and so he calls the team.
In a few hours, after stopping to buy ALL the flowers and other gifts for KK and her friends, the team gathers at Secrets just as the wet t-shirt contest is about to start. On the way in, they notice a big police chopper in the parking lot.
Aluf Mishne serendipitously meets Esti Avatau at the bar, an acquaintance who also received tactical training in Israel. They have a moment to catch up before Aluf spots the Mexican military police drinking at the bar, evidently having flown in for the contest. He sends them shots, challenges one to a arm-wrestling and tequila chugging contest, and has the authentication card for the chopper in no time.
Meanwhile, Murdock has infiltrated the chopper and done research on Angelica's family, who turn out to be well-to-do coffee plantation owners. Twice, he calls their customer service line to demand to be connected to the owners.
Shortly, the team (including Esti) is aloft in the stolen chopper, its transponder disabled, while KK and the throng of beauties keep the pilots busy.
Presciently, Murdock requests that Isabella fly south, just in case.
Skimming just above the treeline after dark, they take small arms fire shortly after crossing into Guatemala. Murdock begins evasive maneuvers, but then the rocket hits. The chopper goes into a barely-controllable spin, and Murdock has to ditch in a swampy valley. Miraculously, nobody is injured.
Aluf sprints off into the night, and soon returns with a decrepit but functional Jeep, and the team travels 5 more miles of bumpy dirt road to the perimeter of the plantation.
Security seems light, with the bad guys mostly gathered around a soccer game on TV, and so the team fans out to infiltrate from multiple directions. Murdock takes up a position with his sniper rifle as Gim, Aluf, and Esti approach.
Esti makes contact with the family in a back bedroom, Murdock registers a triple kill with one bullet, Aluf tosses a grenade into the TV room, as Gim slips into the laundry room from behind.
Esti is perturbed when a soldier sneaks up on her and jams a pistol into her kidney, but she expertly fast-draws her pistol and shoots him in the gut. At the same time, the bad guy reacts to Gim's approach by shooting him in the groin. Disabled, Gim falls to the floor as Esti pumps more bullets into the bad guy, felling him.
The team bandages up Gim, loads the family into the armored personnel carrier outside, and drives north to the border to rendezvous with Isabella and deliver the family to Secrets.
An Old Enemy
Just a week later, Gim is in the middle of his final recover PT exercises and Iggy is updating drone software when Tanya Colbert calls. Quickly, she says she was abducted by federales and provides her GPS coordinates before being cut off. She sounds scared, and the team loads up, including Esti, who has been following the Mad Jew around, who decides to skip this mission.
Isabella Lopez has the team aloft a few minutes later, zipping across first desert and then rising hills into forested mountains. Meanwhile, Iggy reports that the coordinates describe a deep valley with steep sides and no discernible structures.
On Ziggy's dare, the team parachutes in near the ridgeline, which works out well for everyone except Iggy, who tangles with a tree branch and ends up with a fat lip.
From there, Iggy deploys his surveillance dome, who sail over the ridge and spread out above the valley -- only to send a single 'Satellite Interference' error before going dark.
The team creeps over the ridge, and begins descending the steep slope, noticing a house and black SUV far below. John Murdock considers taking a potshot at 5" wide enemy drone 1000 yards way, but thinks better of it.
Esti stumbles and rolls for 20 yards before landing with a thump on the uphill side of a huge tree. She's uninjured, but the commotion alerts someone below. The squeak of a rusty wheel and crackle of twigs precede a deafening scream, a cacophonous slurry of high and low, the shriek of ripping metal and grinding stones.
Two men are pointing some sort of sonic weapons on wheels at the party, all of whom drop to the ground, retching until they pass out.
Slowly, one by one, the team awakens. Their wrists are plastic-handcuffed. They are nearly nude. It's dark and cold. They are in a dirt-floored hut.
Everyone comes to their senses except Esti who continues retching into the dirt. Murdock searches around and finds an old rusty nail, and begins working on his cuffs. Ziggy meditates his way out of his cuffs.
Gim peers out a crack in the boarded up window and whispers that there are four older locals in ponchos around a fire, hunting rifles nearby. A radio crackles, and one of the men replies in Spanish, "Yes, jefe, they are waking up."
Two burly white mercenaries with body armor and sleek submachine guns come to the door and escort Murdock into the large house while the four guards keep the party at bay.
Inside, Murdock is confronted with his past in the form of Elwood McAllister, and an interrogation/debate ensues.
Meanwhile, Iggy begins taunting the guards with family scorn and sexual innuendo. He is successful in arousing their ire and one of them whips the door open to punish the gringo.
As his rifle muzzle enters the doorway, Iggy and Gim attack barehanded, Iggy wrapping up the man's neck in a headlock and Gim going after the weapon. In a few moments, one Mexican farmer is shot, another suffocated, and the final two run off into the night.
This scuffle of course attracts the attention of the mercenaries, one of whom comes out and starts shooting at an insane rate-of-fire, tearing up the surroundings and obliterating Ziggy's left foot as he dives back into the hut.
It is Esti, bile still dripping from her dessicated lips, that picks up the other rifle just in time to silence the mercenary as he approaches.
Sensing the tables turning, Mr. McAllister cuts short his visit with Murdock and slips out the back door. Murdock proceeds to negotiate an arrangement with the other mercenary, who also disappears into the night.
Upstairs, Tanya is zip-tied to the bedframe with a bucket to relieve herself in. Despite Murdock's grubby nakedness, she is elated to see him, and gives him a big hug.
The team hikes out to a flat meadow for Isabella's pickup.
- one TL9 personal defense weapon (UT-135): Acc 4, Range 350/3000, RoF 10, Shots 100+1(5), Rcl 2, Weight 5
- one Belt-Sword - contains a battery and made from magnetic material that can convert into a shortswod for 10 seconds.
- one USB computer-cracker (make a simple Computer Operations check to break in to any standard PC/laptop, takes 10 seconds.
- one wristwatch-flashbang
Salsa y Samba
A few weeks go by, during which:
- Iggy has his foot rebuilt with a little something extra (TBD).
- Iggy acquires a bleeding-edge holographic projector from a lab in Korea and has been studying the technology.
- Murdock gets Iggy's assistance in figuring out where the future-tech gun came from: a small manufacturer in Germany that creates gear for the German Special Forces. Murdock goes on to buy a substantial cache of ammunition, practicing his Merchant skill in the process but still overpaying by about 1000%.
- Murdock practices Acting on Isabella -- with her permission and assistance.
- The Hebrew Hammer attends a 'tacticool' conference in Las Vegas.
- Esti has a private security gig in Mexico City.
- Gim orders a training shortsword from Amazon and watches Youtube videos to acquire the Shortsword skill.
One afternoon poolside, Isabella and Murdock are practicing casual social interaction and she tells him she's a finalist in the Sonoran Salsa y Samba competition, with the semi-finals being held in nearby Hermasillo the every next day. Gim and Murdock will be happy to escort her, of course.
The next morning, Isabella dons a silvery spaghetti-strapped dancing dress and flies the team to Hermasillo where a limo awaits.
The competition is in a mid-sized indoor stadium and Isabella heads to the dressing room while Murdock and Gim are escorted to the VIP lounge, which is starting to fill up with contestants' partners and parents. Shortly, Murdock grows bored and makes his way to the central security control room.
Despite 64 monitors, the place is a mess, without any good security protocols in place. Murdock chats with the security chief and is profoundly unimpressed.
Then he notices on one of the screens three thugs dragging one of the contestants down a corridor. Gim, in the VIP lounge, hears screams, and the abduction is happening in real time. He urges the panicked crowd of dancers to come down to the VIP lounge, but few speak English -- Isabella takes the lead and the women clear the corridor.
Gim pursues the attackers but they've already escaped in a white SUV. Back in the control room Murdock urges the chief to organize pursuit, but his rent-a-cops are in disarray.
Two yellow-jacketed security guards careen around the corner towards Gim, guns drawn. Gim raises his hands in surrender and edges towards frantic guards, who are shouting something at him in Spanish. Murdock watches the confrontation transpire and demands the chief call off his dogs, but the command structure is feeble and he doesn't even know which team is which.
Eventually Gim gets close enough to overcome both guards with his bare hands, a feat watched in awe by the men back in the control room.
Murdock and Gim convene with Isabella in the VIP lounge where they learn that the abductee was none other than Eva Cortez, not a favorite to win, but a popular Instagram influencer, and the target of ongoing unwanted affections by a regional goon, Hector Valdera.
Some quick research indicates that Valdera is a local drug lord and an investor in a nightclub called Fantasia less than a mile away. He also owns a suite on the 11th floor.
Gim sneaks around the parking lot and finds a small Mercedes RV with the door unlocked and keys in the ignition. Its self-driving features take the team through terrible traffic to Fantasia. It's late afternoon, but the $50 cover still applies.
Inside, Murdock and Gim shower performers, bartenders, and tall security guards with cash and soon buy their way into the VIP lounge on the second floor, escorted by Nina, who always wanted to be a 'second floor girl'.
In the leather and purple-neon lounge, the team assesses security and the assets of the entertainers. Gim is particularly smitten by Mia Minx and long juicy conversations ensue.
Murdock, though also distracted and tempted, gets the team back on task. Gim knocks out a security guard, acquires a swipe-card, and the team is on the way up to the 11th floor, sniper rifle re-assembled.
They throw the unconscious guard out of the elevator doors and confront the goon at the end of the hall. Murdock shoots the goon's gun out of his hand (and removes his thumb) with a silenced blast of his rifle, and the guy dives back into the apartment.
Murdock then uses his 'six drone' creatively to get a visual of the room. Two goons are staged behind a fluffy white couch, weapons aimed at the door.
Murdock takes a step back, aims carefully at the wall two feet away, and fires a single shot through the wall, couch, and chest of one of the goons. The other dives into a side bedroom through a cloud of couch fluff, terrified.
Murdock enters while Gim covers their exit.
In the master suite, Valdera confirms he has Ms. Cortez and offers to sell her. Murdock agrees but requires Eva to come out first. As soon as she does, Murdock blasts Valdera into the annals of drug goon history.
Meanwhile, another resident exits his apartment with a shotgun and confronts Gim. In a flash, Gim buries a throwing knife in the man's chest from 15' away, and the white-bearded fellow falls back into his foyer with a groan.
With Ms. Cortez collected, the team heads back to the stadium -- though Gim stays behind to interact with Mia a bit more.
With Eva returned to her family and Isabella disappointed but not surprised to have been eliminated in the third round of the dance competition, the team loads back into her chopper and heads back to HQ.
Notes for Next Time
- Gim has a 1pt Contact in Mia Minx
- Murdock has a 1pt Contact in August Sturburger the TL9 gun manufacturer
- Iggy has something in his foot and new holographic projection tech
- Hammer has some new cool gun gear
Rescue in La Paz
Over the past few weeks:
- Esti is still in Mexico City.
- The Hammer is teaching/dominating MMA classes at a gym in Guaymas.
- Iggy is on a week long silent fasting meditation retreat on a desert island alone.
- Gim has spent the last 3 weeks on willpower exercises, deep meditation, pain tolerance and raises his Will by one.
- Murdock has spent the last 3 weeks training with Isabella on lying, flirting, telling stories, being socially not weird -- and spends a point on Acting and one on Sex Appeal and one on Dancing (thanks Isabella).
- Murdock also rolls against his annual HT check for alcoholism -- and makes it, twice, for 2028 and 2029.
Murdock is mixing himself a strong margarita after another afternoon of flirting practice with Isabella, and Gim is doing tai chi on the lawn when the call comes in.
Mia Minx is in distress and currently racing her 2027 Porsche Turbo Coupe from Hermosillo to Guaymas to rendezvous with the team. It seems that her friends Nadia Gorbachev and Raven Black departed yesterday with some "high rollers" to the Guaymas docks to begin a fishing trip, but that Nadia texted "SOS" this afternoon and now has gone silent.
Nadia has no papers and so traditional law enforcement is not a good option. Can you help?
Murdock and Gim hop in the little speedboat because Isabella has Jazzercise class, and soon the duo have connected with Mia at the docks amid the bustle of commercial fishermen unloading the day's catch.
They show Nadia's photo to 100 fishermen and many recall her striking figure boarding an enormous 200' super-yacht yesterday.
Gim and Murdock check in with the port authority, and with mild threats and $500 cash, learn the identity of the yacht owner: Victor Azulare, a Peruvian mining billionaire. A bit more research reveals that Victor had a tall blonde Peruvian wife until she left him last month, so a hypothesis emerges that he has kidnapped a replacement.
Murdock checks in with Tanya Colbert, who is able to assess that Victor's yacht, the Rubia Caliente is currently docked in La Paz, a resort town a few hundred miles across the gulf in Baja.
Mia insists on accompanying, and soon the team is aloft with Isabella. The sun goes down over Baja as the chopper approaches, and Murdock instructs Isabella to lazily tour the dock area a couple thousand meters up and away. From that vantage, he spots the Rubia Caliente complete with a tall blonde on the deck.
Isabella identifies an 11-story Hilton with a helipad about 400 meters from the yacht and makes a quick reservation for the team. There, Murdock goes downstairs to check out the bar while Gim succumbs to Mia's imploring "Let's take a shower?" request in the grandiose Presidential Suite.
Downstairs, Murdock's floral shirt and pasty white skin quickly attract an entourage of seven enterprising hookers, whom he agrees to hire at a bulk discount after refilling his cocktail mug.
Gim and Mia arrive shortly, and the party of ten caravans over to the yacht.
There, Murdock practices his new schmooziness and talks the gang onto the boat, where a lightly attended party consists primarily of Victor taking pictures of a thin male model in a bikini-style suit with cocktail waitresses and bodyguards standing around.
Nadia shoots a startled look at Mia, but keeps her cool, looking lovely if a bit sad in her spaghetti-strap silver dress.
The arrival of the festive sex workers livens up the party, and Gim really amps things up by volunteering four ounces of cocaine to the group. The techno beats are rocking and a dance party ensues.
For his part, speaking next to no Spanish, Gim is reserved and hangs around near Nadia and the thick-necked goon watching over her. Eventually, he can't take it any more, and conducts a devastating kick to the goon's chest, snapping ribs. As he crumbles, a second blow to man's forehead renders him unconscious.
The revelers scarcely notice, in part because flashing lights have appeared at the head of the pier, some sort of law enforcement authorities.
Gim and Murdock take the opportunity to slip away on the far side of the deck, intending to ascend to the rooftop helipad. On the way, Murdock assassinates a silhouetted bodyguard with two silenced bullets to the chest, and soon the team is loading into the strange golden chopper. Murdock goes about hot-wiring the craft while Gim and the ladies board and keep watch.
Shortly, another goon has ascended to the platform. Gim fires 3 shots and misses. The goon returns fire, with bullets careening through the chopper -- and Gim's left arm, disabling it.
Gim and Murdock return fire, and the goon falls.
Soon, the golden chopper is aloft and a rendezvous point set with Isabella on the beach 3 miles away. Nadia expresses her thanks, and the team departs for home, gliding swiftly above the smooth black waters of the gulf.
It's a lazy midsummer afternoon, and Gim is playing badminton with Isabella Lopez and Raquel Bolivar while Murdock sips drinks in the shade. Gim has spent the last week trading English lessons for Spanish lessons with Raquel.
The relaxation sadly ends when Tanya Colbert calls Murdock. She's on her way south from Juarez to a little village in the desert where she wants to meet Murdock (and the team) to describe an urgent need.
Isabella trades in her bikini for a flight suit and the team is aloft 16 minutes later. They soar across the desert, over the mountains, and land a mile south of the village before midnight to hike the last bit.
Gim hangs back for a brief recon while Murdock goes into the sole bar in the village and gets a beer. Tanya arrives shortly (in khaki shorts, sandals, white tank top) and complains that her self-driving 2025 Volvo wago A/C is out. She's tired and hot and is glad to take a cold beer off Murdock's hands.
Her story is outrageous -- she believes that powerful gangsters have kidnapped and possibly killed the national Minister of Finance because of his interest in pursuing corruption charges against the gang's ringleaders, Carlos Villanuevo and his brother Ricky. She theorizes that the captive/slain Minister is destined to be buried in the concrete foundation being poured at a nearby mega-prison under construction by one of the Villanuevo brothers' companies.
The mission? To collect photographic and/or DNA evidence of that crime so she can run it up the flagpole to INTERPOL which has heretofore been reluctant to intervene in Mexican corruption issues -- but the Minister also holds a Spanish passport.
Gim and Murdock consider their options after chasing off the crusty old drunks leering at Tanya. They decide to go recon the construction site. Tanya again expresses her exhaustion, hands the car keys to Murdock, and arranges for lodging for the team in a half-collapsed adobe nearby.
Murdock disables the car's safety lights, fixes the A/C for Tanya (just a loose belt), and he and Gim head to the site 15 miles away. They spot it a mile away -- an enormous ring of tall light towers.
There, they park, Murdock assembles his weapon, and Gim sneaks across the desert, picking up a tarantula along the way and dropping it into a baggy pocket. Soon, Gim is at the lit perimeter and hesitates as a 4-wheeler is on its way over.
Suddenly there's a boom and shower of sparks - Murdock has blasted out the security light from 2000 meters. The tank-topped guard creeps forward, suspicious, and tries to say something into his radio, but Murdock has filled the channel with static from a cinnamon-almond wrapper.
Eventually, the poor goon is in range, and Gim nails him with a paralysis blow dart.
But, lights are coming on in the cluster of portable buildings a few hundred yards away. While Murdock watches for activity, Gim drives the 4-wheeler to the site of the foundation pouring, makes a guess about which portion will be filled next, disables a big dozer, and rigs up his 6-drone to provide remote surveillance on the site.
Unfortunately, bad guys start streaming out of the buildings after someone sets off a smoke alarm, and Murdock plunks a few rounds into the buildings. This provokes them further, and at least six dudes have AK-47s.
Gim high-tails it back to the car, taking extreme risks blasting across the desert in the dark, dropping into arroyos and sailing airborne on numerous occasions. Sadly, his luck runs out and he bails a hundred yards from the car, sustaining bruises and scratches and losing track of his 6-legged tarantula.
Automatic gunfire crackles through the hot desert air, and Murdock and Gim drive back to the village to avoid getting Tanya's car damaged. Along the way, they debate how to explain their trip to Tanya....
Concrete - Pt 2
While the boys were out getting shot at, Tanya had another video call with her superiors at INTERPOL, and prevailed upon them to leverage local law enforcement resources and an international warrant to check out the construction site. She's also been advised to get the hell out of there, and so, when the lads return stinking of adrenaline and gun smoke, she loads them back into the car and drives them back to the drop-off site, where Isabella awaits.
Tanya heads north to get the warrant at the border; Gim and Murdock fly back to the compound with Isabella.
Months pass, and the team has engaged in their various avocations.
Also, through an introduction by Tanya Colbert, a new part-time resident has moved into the compound. Najmuddin Kubra has fought for various sides in various wars and skirmishes throughout the Middle East, and has recently decided getting out of that hemisphere would be best. He and the Mad Jew have bonded over various contests of skill, pain tolerance, religious debate, and physical endurance for the past few weeks.
On the day the call comes in (from Tanya):
- The Mad Jew is at an arms convention in Germany buying some new high tech murder tools.
- Iggy is attending a conference in Helsinki entitled, "The Future of AI, Mind Control, and Neuropathologies of the Human Condition"
- Esti is on a two-week private security gig in Los Angeles.
Poolside, with Jimmy Buffet playing:
- Murdock is on a 2-day bender, absolutely blind drunk on Jamaican 150 proof rum.
- Isabella is doing sexy yoga in her teeny weeny bikini
- Kubra is praying
- Gim is juggling five metal balls with one leg extended horizontally to the side.
Tanya, in an adorable French accent, explains to Kubra that an Islamic extremist and terrorist death cult leader named Maurice Lundgren, has recently turned up in Mexico City after a 10-year disappearing act. She has pleaded with the federales to help her bring him to justice, but she is not getting any cooperation, and time is of the essence.
Gim and Kubra volunteer, and Isabella slips into a form-fitting flight suit for the occasion. They fly through the night to Tanya's coordinates, a mansion on hill with a commanding view of the sprawling city of fifteen million souls.
Gim heads in for elk breakfast tacos with Tanya while Kubra appreciates the statuary on the grounds.
Soon, Isabella is off to refuel the chopper and the team loads into the 1992 Beach Bronco, Gim playing 'driver' at the wheel and Tanya and Kubra in the back seat.
Their destination is a Muslim district, very poor and crowded. Kubra advises they find the district's mosque on Google Maps, and Tanya amply provides.
Dressed for the occasion, Kubra wades through the thronging masses and heads in through the front doors, soon joined by 300 others for the mid-day prayer. He emerges with important intel:
- Goons in red, with beards and top-knots, have AK-47s in the mosque.
- Maurice is leading the prayers here.
- There is a coffin at the front, at which many worshipers dropped rusty machetes before finding their place to pray.
- The prayer started out like most Sunni fundamentalist punditry, but took a very dark turn at the end. The devout were warned to be ready for the call of seven bells, for it would be the call to act, and bring about their salvation.
When prayers are over and the building empties, Gim and Tanya head around back and Kubra re-enters the front, armed this time.
Kubra swiftly dispatches a red-shirt goon with his AK-47, the staccato of gunfire causing a wave of panic on the streets outside. At this, Gim enters from the back, and, despite his gun jamming, bludgeons a second goon into unconsciousness.
Tanya stays behind to monitor the panic outside and watch for cops or other trouble.
Gim and Kubra break down the 'employees only' door, with Kubra taking the lead into the room. The next goon unloads with his AK, and Kubra's armor saves his ass, etc...
Soon, the team is stepping over another corpse and moving down old stone steps, deep below ground. At the end of a hallway, there is a modern steel vault door. The team arranges on-hand C4 to destroy the door, and retreats for the detonation.
Rock and dust howl back into the mosque, the parking lot pavement buckles, and one car tips onto its side due to the underground blast.
Gim and Kubra high-tail it back into the tunnel and are soon walking into Maurice's mastermind chamber, complete with detailed plans for a murderous attack on innocents. Maurice is here too, briefly stunned by the blast.
Gim adds to the mix with a flash-bang, rendering Maurice blind. Nevertheless, firing at -10 to hit, one .50 caliber round obliterates Gim's gun arm before Kubra does the same favor to Maurice.
Soon, the terrorist is bludgeoned, tied up, and dragged out to the parking lot, where Tanya has wisely summoned Isabella as sirens approach.
- The Mad Jew is at an arms convention in Germany buying some new high tech murder tools.
- Iggy is attending a conference in Helsinki entitled, "The Future of AI, Mind Control, and Neuropathologies of the Human Condition"
- Esti is on a two-week private security gig in Los Angeles.
Poolside, with 80s Madonna playing:
- Isabella is doing sexy yoga in her teeny weeny bikini
- Murdock is chatting her up
- Gim is is flexing his newly rebuilt right arm
- Kubra is chatting him up
Iggy, in Helsinki, conferences in the team for a call from Mr. Black. It seems that two international bad actors are set to rendezvous not far from the team, and that the mission would be to simply cause them both as much damage as possible.
Dmitry Kasparov is a russian petro-chemical billionaire who also makes a chunk of change selling drugs to the EU.
We believe with very high confidence that he has found a new partner in Xavier Diego, a Peruvian cartel boss who has been escalating his violence over the last year.
The Russians are bound for... San Carlos, a sleepy marina with almost no record-keeping or federal presence, for refueling and resupply.
It is assumed that the Russians will trade a large quantity of Soviet-era small arms in exchange for a large quantity of illegal drugs.
The team opts to take one of the powerboats over to the marina and soon see the Russian megayacht on approach. Posting as tequila delivery boys, they talk their way on deck and start shooting pretty much immediately. Ten seconds later, six Russian goons are down, and the feeble oligarch essentially surrenders control of the vessel.
In a twist, Lily is on board the vessel, evidently a trophy or gift for the Peruvians, and the team ensures her safety.
After dark, on approach to the rendezvous point, Murdock selects a high, dark place to set up his sniper rifle. Once the vessels are linked up, he fires, immediately ending the life of Xavier Diego and one of the goons behind him. The crackle of small arms fire rings through the sea breezes, and soon the Peruvians succumb to the superior forces.
One of the team (who?) murders the oligarch as well.
The team then unlocks a shipping container on board the Peruvian freighter, revealing thirty women and girls bound for Russian slavery. This prompts a call to Tanya Colbert, who rallies the law enforcement and medical resources to assist. She has one request though - "Could you please make all the guns and drugs disappear to simplify things?"
The team complies, of course.
- With Mr. Black's endorsement, EZ joins the team after missing the boat last time.
- Lily's Instagram business begins booming with her new tropical beach photos.
- Iggy reports he's staying in Europe a little longer whilst shacked up with a Latvian AI researcher.
- The Mad Jew has returned wit crates of new weapons and is testing everything.
The next is from Mr. Black, who says an Algerian warlord's right-hand man is headed to Hermasillo for (probable) money laundering tasks. EZ is familiar with the bad guy, and says he used to joke about "hot California girls" often. Despite being Ukrainian, Lily sure fits his concept.
The team decides to pose as celebrity bodyguards, and gamble on the theory that the Algerian will attend Lily's show. Isabella dos her flight suit, and with Lily as co-pilot, delivers the team to the roof of the Hermasillo Hilton, just four blocks from Fantasia.
Upon checking into the 8th-floor suite, EZ and Murdock mix stiff drinks with the ladies while Gim heads over to Fantasia to rendezvous with Mia and refamiliarize himself with the layout. Later, EZ takes Lily out dancing at run-down discotheque across the street from Fantasia, where Lily chats up dozens of gentlemen about her show.
Eventually, Lily's show begins, and she is spectacular. The Algerian arrives with some goons, and the team watches from three angles, ready to leap into action. The crowd of goons, knuckleheads, and felons turns out to be relatively well-behaved.
Coordinating over secure comms, the team hatches a new plan: introducing themselves to the Algerian and inviting him back to the Hilton to meet the star.
EZ leads the effort, having a history with the Algerian from his Blackwater days. His charisma wins them over (or perhaps Lily's charms), and a motorcade back to the Hilton sets off immediately.
Once the bad guys are piled into the suite and start asking for Lily, Gim makes the first move-- grapples the Algerian and securely wrestles him to the carpet. Then Murdock and EZ start shooting and sledgehammering. Goons drop to the floor, bleeding and moaning, and four escape into the hallway, only to be slain on the sidewalk outside by Murdock's perfect shooting at 200 yards.
EZ sustains a 9mm shot through the thigh that would have dropped a normal man, but EZ's not a normal man.
After a quick call to Tanya to make some arrangements, the team loads the captured Algerian into Isabella's chopper to begin the process of collecting the CIA's $10,000,000 bounty. Tanya just asks that 20% be funneled to a nonprofit she supports.
With Iggy back in Latvia, Kubra on a pilgrimage in South America, Esti on another private security gig in Toronto, the Mad Jew on a scuba adventure with an old flame, and Isabella, Lilliana, and EZ in town for Lily's show, poolside doesn't quite have the festivity the remaining team has become accustomed to.
So, a bored Murdock and Gim head into San Carlos for a drink. After 4+ beers and shots, they wander out on the street near midnight and consider crashing a nearby small house party. Then, there's a flash of light across the bay, followed by a thunderous boom. Their compound is under violent attack, with Chuy Gomez and Raquel Bolivar on the premises.
Murdock hotwires a rusted Geo Tracker and the duo zips back across the bay to check it out.
When they arrive, the damage is extensive, evidently from heavy machine gun fire and larger explosive rockets. The pool is destroyed. Chuy is pacing back and forth talking to a 911 operator. Raquel, inside the house, has been injured and fallen unconscious from smoke inhalation.
Gim fumbles with Iggy's custom security control panel interface for a while, and finally retrieves surveillance footage of the attack. A luxury helicopter outfitted with Russian weaponry. Part of a tail number is visible for a few frames, but without some image-enhancement AI, it's not enough.
A medical chopper from nearby Guaymas whisks Chuy and Raquel away, and Isabella checks in, promising to go to the hospital and make sure everyone's okay.
Murdock reaches out to Tanya Colbert to see if she can leverage INTERPOL cloud computers to process the security footage. In a sleepy French accent, she says, "of course."
A hungover Murdock and Gim put out fires and survey the damage through the wee hours of the night. At dawn, a large chopper marked 'Policia approaches. As it lands, Tanya reports that INTERPOL computers figured out the tail number, owner, and location of the helicopter that launched the attack. None other than Xavier Diego, the Peruvian cartel boss recently assassinated by the team aboard the Russian tanker. Its location: 150 miles south/southwest in open water, moving slowly.
The Mexican federales approach and begin their interrogation, but Murdock and Gim aren't having it. They turn the tables, insisting convincingly that the best chance of understanding the attack is to interrogate the attacker. Begrudgingly, the investigators eventually agree, and everyone loads into the police chopper to begin pursuit.
From two miles out, Murdock surveys the mega-yacht upon which the attack chopper is resting. Getting closer, he spots a guy with a shoulder-filed missile apparatus, pointed right at them. He announces his attention to fire -- over the objections of the police -- and pulls the trigger. From 2000 yards, he obliterates the bad guy, but not before the missile is launched. It's a heat-seeker, and the pilot begins evasive maneuvers, throwing everyone around.
Murdock leans out the door and takes a shot at the incoming missile, but achieves a mere glancing blow, adjusting the trajectory to collide with the chopper's belly, opening it wide, severing lines and cables, but not exploding within. The chopper begins spinning and descending fast. One officer flies out the door.
Murdock wrests control of the chopper from the pilot and attempts successfully to guide the spinning descent towards the yacht. Gim meanwhile dons one of the only two parachutes on board and calls for Murdock to jump with him.
Gim and Murdock successfully land on the mechanic's afterdeck, just above the frothing seas of the massive inboard engines. The police chopper goes down in the warm salt water behind them.
Infiltrating the engine room, Murdock quickly disables the engines entirely, and the duo begin their interior ascent to the main deck, whereupon Murdock sets up to assassinate anyone he sees, and Gim, after smashing the face of a wounld-be sneak attack, sprints towards the towering command center of the fore of the vessel. Unfortunately it's a distance too far, and Murdock can't provide enough covering fire -- Gim's leg is wounded and he goes down, taking cover in the swimming pool.
Murdock gets to the chopper and unloads 3000 rounds of ammo into the yacht, sending a cloud of splintered fiberglass into the air. Gim drags himself on board and the two are aloft in their new chopper as the remaining bad guys hunker down on the disabled yacht and wait for approaching coast guard vessels to take them into custody.
Get in the Ring
The team has had 9 months of downtime, dealing with INTERPOL and federales' questions about the military-style assault on their island last September, adding repairs and improvements, practicing skills, sending Raquel Bolivar off to private school in France, and making plans for the future.
One afternoon, while Kubra yells at his television, Murdoch drops in and out of tequila-consciousness, Gim practices his guitar, and Lily and Isabella play volleyball in the new pool, Tanya Colbert calls.
Gim takes the call on Murdoch's phone. She's in a pickle -- she needs to hand over $4MM in diamonds to a "very bad man" in about 4 hours, and her diamonds have gone missing. They were smuggled inside a Playstation 12 destined for a retailer in Guaymas, but the entire pallet was stolen from the docks. She's done her homework and tracked the theft to Luther Rodriguez a career buyer and seller of stolen electronics. Further, she believes the pallet is inside Luther's boxing gym.
The team deploys, with Lily providing transport to the roof of the Holiday Inn, 9 blocks from the gym. While Murdoch blinks through his alcoholic haze, Gim and Kubra march into the gym.
There, they pose as a fighter and his coach, and as the tattoo-faced Mexican gangster start taunting "Bruce Lee", Gim calmly enters the ring, and over the next several minutes, disposes of three challengers without receiving so much as a scratch. In the meantime, Kubra nonchalantly sidles over the a partially opened door and spots the pallet of Playstations -- and 3 Russian goons.
Tanya checks in repeatedly. She's out of the shower, her mascara is on, and headed to her meeting shortly.
The team goes back to the hotel and gears up while Murdoch places charges on the roof. When the time is right -- KABOOM! -- and the ceiling and wall explode. After slaying the goons, Murdoch drives the forklift into the smoke-filled building and scoops the pallet into the gangsters' beat-up pickup. From the there the team departs to meet meet Tanya, Kubra and Gim tearing through Playstation boxes to find the prize.
Diamonds delivered just in time, Tanya is able to complete her transaction and receive confirmation that the shipping container filled with children is successfully emptied into the care of a squad of FBI agents in Texas.
Six months have passed since their last mission, and the team is getting restless. In the past few months, Murdock spends time learning electronic security, and gets a new sniper rifle from his high tech contact. (And Gim asks that contact what about a better belt-sword?)
Then, one crisp Tuesday morning, while Isabella and Liliana do their aerobic yoga poolside and Murdock mixes his first drink of the day, Liliana's phone lights up -- one of her instagram model friends is in Nuku Hiva on a modeling shoot and there's a guy with a gun and-and-and....
While the rest of the team is out on sabbatical, seminars, training, and private security missions, Murdock and Gim step up, gear up, and take off, using one Paula Jones' Gulfstream 650, with both Isabella and Liliana at the helm.
After landing at the simple airstrip around happy hour, the team takes up in the $600/night suite atop 'The Palms', what passes for a luxury hotel on the small island.
Murdock, having researched and confirmed a modeling shoot of about 10 young blonde ladies from various countries was happening earlier today, directs the team to a beach an hour out of town. The lads buy electric dirt-bikes and pledge to stay in touch with Liliana and Isabella in case in case a quick escape is needed.
On the beach, foul play is confirmed. The photographer and one of the models are dead on the beach, bullet holes in their foreheads. Tracks of two large 4WD vehicles are easily identified and followed, back to a big mansion in the jungle, evidently home to 'Boris', a Russian oligarch who has bought up the major businesses on the island in the last decade.
Recon identifies blonde models and gun-toting goons. From nearly 200 yards, Murdock picks off goon after goon, while Gim goes in for closer contact, quickly laying waste to two of them. In three minutes, it's over, the ladies are crowded into one of the Land Rovers, and then the Gulfstream, and transported back to the HQ in Mexico, while they can get the their papers -- and their outfits -- straightened out before returning to their countries of origin, or wherever they please.