And on to the next life...

A Blue BPN for SLA Industries by James Fullerton

This is a beginning level BPN for SCL 10 Operatives. It has been designed as the first BPN that a group of Operatives will do, to give them a feel for the 'personalities' of DownTown. No stats are included, as the opponents will need to be adjusted to the squad.

The BPN was based on my through away comment about what SLA Industries does with its dead bodies. My argument was that cremating, burying or 'recycling' dead bodies would probably be too expensive, but something needed to be done with the bodies. My idea was to throw the bodies into the sewers, so that they would be washed away to the Cannibal Sectors. This was the least cost method for body disposal. If this doesn't fit in with your idea of the World of Progress then treat this as an isolated case (and issue the corresponding Grey BPN to deal with the lazy Shivers :)

Oh, one other thing - Mobile phones in MTWoP work on the same system as Finance Chips; the signal is almost unstoppable, and they can't be hacked by anything. Unless you're Cloak. They also come in full waterproof versions (unlike the real thing, which was when I realised that phone insurance isn't actually a waste of time...)

#1: Getting the BPN

Start with a description of the Squad first meeting up and the BPN Hall. The process of getting their first BPN should be full of excitement and eager anticipation of their new lives as Operatives. It should also be as boring as watching paint dry. After the first queue to register themselves as a new squad (all forms in triplicate, queue for a requisition form if you make a mistake and need new copies), they will enter the queue for registering availability of the squad for BPNs, before finally getting to the queue for receiving their first BPN.

In the meantime nearby Stormers and Brain Wasters are getting fed up and frustrated. Doped up Frothers, either ignore everything or look for trouble until escorted out by the Shivers. Ebons and Shaktars both try to kill time through meditation, whilst Wraith Raiders scan the queues as if hunting for prey. Only the humans are not type cast, as some slump drugged up in corners, some meditate staring at the wall, while others pace back and forth, looking for someone to blame. All around the once orderly rows of plastic chairs and tables form a chaotic pattern, filling in the gaps between the queues. Eventually, the squad will reach the front of the correct queue and be given their first BPN. It's only a Blue, but at least they have got one now.

Blue BPN: Street Maintenance
Contact Department of Sanitation
Training Package Recommended: Any
Assist workers investigating flooding at intersection of Tae Street & Narum Street, Black Styx Sector, DownTown. Meet Employees at site at 12 noon tomorrow. Squads only.
Payment: 50c per Operative.
Third Eye News

#2: At the corner of Tae & Narum streets

The Black Styx Sector of Lower DownTown is situated near to Cannibal Sector One. It is easily reached via a gauss train station about ten miles away, and the subway system that is surprisingly safe. The only abuse the Operatives are likely to get is from people laughing at the nice clean armour. It is predominantly a residential area, with tall high-rise apartment blocks and numerous walkways inter-linking them. The few roads that do run through the area are at ground level, and most have rubbish on either side. Small vehicles and motorbikes can use the numerous walkways, most of which have slopes for travelling between the levels. There is one main road through the north area and this is relatively clear. It is also the main route used by the Shivers.

The corner of Tae and Narum streets is to the south of the Sector. The only way to really travel to this corner is by using the walkways, as the nearby roads are impassable. The main walkway is 3m wide and about 3 storeys higher than ground level. As the Operatives near the corner, the flooding should be apparent at ground level. The dark gungy water has totally covered the streets below and seems to rise to window height of the bottom apartments. Waiting by the down ramp near to the corner is a small SLA utility van with three men standing by it. Two are dressed in waterproof overalls whilst the third is in an all in one coverall. He is also talking on a mobile as the squad arrives.

The Employee on the phone introduces himself as Kyle Glew and the other two as Tarran Brown and Derrick James before going back to his conversation. Tarran and Derrick seem pleased to see the Operatives and if asked will reply that they are happy that they have some protection this time. The last time they were in this Sector they were attacked by a Manchine, and only just escaped. The observant Operatives will notice that their overalls are bulky, possibly concealing body armour of some kind. They also have CAF pistols tucked into their utility belts. They'll explain that Kyle is their overseer and is having 'girl problems' hence the phone. When the news crew gets there they will work out what they are going to do. They think that the water is due to the sewers being blocked by something. If they can't find anything on the surface, they'll have to travel through the sewers, until they get to the other side of the blockage and work out how to unblock it. On the good side, the heavy rain they have been having recently is subsiding slightly so the water may drain on its own and make their job finding the blockage easier. Just then the news crew arrive.

Stepping first out of the Third Eye News van, dressed immaculately, is Monica Weathers a hopeful journalist who has the annoying habit of always looking her best, even when standing 3 metres above a blocked drain. She will walk over to the Operative who appears to be the leader (best looking) and introduce herself. Her cameraman Tim Grief will hurry out of the van carrying loads of video equipment and rush over to Monica's side. She will find out who everyone is, writing rough notes as she talks. Tim will take background shots of the flood and the surrounding area.

Kyle finishes on his mobile and comes over to the squad. His plan for the work is to first search the flooded area to see if there is a surface blockage of the drains. He will make it quite clear to the Operatives that he believes their BPN is to help in anyway i.e. they have to get into the metre deep water and search for the blockage just like Tarran and Derrick. Kyle wants the work over quickly as he has 'other things to worry about', and if necessary will refuse to authorise the squads payment. Monica will grab the arm of the one she's identified as the leader and say that she is going to do some interviews with the local people and needs protection. The rest will have to go get dirty in the sewer water.

#3: Their first job

Monica will take her chosen Operative into the nearby apartment buildings, through the rubbish-laden corridors, trying to find people that used to live on the ground floor. There is a stench throughout the apartments that is pungent but hard to identify. At one of the stairwells they will see the water lapping half way up the stairs and a dead, bloated, corpse floating face down. There are a couple of rats who are eating through its back. If they check the body, it doesn't seem to have any wounds, implying that it probably drowned. Back in the corridors there is a layer of silt/ mud over most of the corridor. It seems that the flood had reached to the second floor. There are more rats in the corridors, sniffing around the rubbish that lies everywhere.

On the next floor, where the ground is drier and doesn't show any signs of being flooded there are several makeshift shelters leaning against the wall. It is here that some of the survivors are waiting for the water to reside. Their living conditions are minimal and Monica will spend her time sympathising with their comments that SLA is to blame for the sewers over flowing. As a show of good will she will suggest that the Operative should give them a couple of hundred UNIs to show that SLA does care. It will also look good on camera.

After they have left the people, Monica will start knocking on doors to try and interview people. Most of them will be suspicious of opening the door, until they see the video camera and realise that this is their fifteen minutes of fame. They will discuss how the water started rising about a week ago, but following a downpour two days ago it rose very quickly during the night. Most of the people in the ground floor probably didn't know it had happened. Apparently this isn't the only area to be flooded recently, as even up to a mile away they have had drain problems.

The remainder of the squad will be spending their time searching the meter deep, dirty, cold water with poles to try and find anything that might be blocking the drains. Most of the water is a thick liquid sludge with lots of garbage and other unidentifiable objects in it. As they work some of the locals will see them and start to gather up on the walkway by the vehicles. Kyle is also watching from up there but spends most of his time on the phone. The locals will laugh at the new Operatives getting their nice new armours all dirty. If any of the Operatives find a body under the water and drag them out on to the ramp, the locals will probably all wander down and have a look. They will know the person but most won't have a good thing to say about them.

Within an hour or so most of the residents will leave to be replaced by a gang of youths who all have a dagger in the shape of a cross as an emblem (Streetwise: The gang is called the Holy-Blades). They all seem to be under sixteen and will laugh and taunt at the Operatives. They might also throw the odd item down to splash the Operatives, especially if one looks like they are trying to keep out of the water. They are not a violent gang, but some of them will be carrying Black Market weapons and equipment. None of their taunts will be directed towards Derrick and Tarran, as if the gang knows that they are both the true workers here. Kyle will spend the whole time on his phone, ignoring the gang. If the Operatives start to return the abuse, or get hostile in any way, the gang will continue to taunt them and might try sabotaging their vehicles (if they have any). Kyle will not notice, as he is too engrossed in his phone conversation.

Any potentially hostile behaviour will be diffused as Monica and the squad leader return from the interviews. Monica will talk to Kyle and he will say that if they haven't found anything now, then it is probably a waste of time. He suggests moving further downstream of the sewer and trying to find where the blockage actually is. Derrick and Tarran will share a glance at each other, and Tarran will be seen checking his CAF pistol as if to make sure that it is ready for use. Whilst Monica is interviewing the gang, Kyle identifies a point a mile away where they can enter the sewers.

#4: Entering the sewers

A short walk/drive later and the squad will find itself by a sewer entrance about a mile from the flood. This area is the same as the rest of the sector, with tall high-rise apartments and several walkways at various heights. The sewer entrance is a rectangular manhole about 600mm by 900mm, which will be a tight fit for any Stormers or Shaktars. The actual sewer is 20 metres below the cover, and Tarran and Derrick will start constructing a winch to get everyone down there. Kyle will volunteer to stay above and look after any vehicles and also to winch everyone back out again later. He will ask the Operatives if they have a phone so that he can contact them in an emergency. After storing the number he will be back on his phone trying to sort out his love life.

The winch will carry people down onto a small platform about 4m square and about 3 metres above the water. The open sewer here is about 30m across and the platform is linked to a walkway that runs along the edge of the sewer. There is a similar walkway on the opposite side, about half a metre above the water, with platforms linking the two together. If anyone asks Tarran or Derrick why the sewer is so large they will ask the Operative if they know why this sector is called the Black Styx sector. Due to the lack of a cemetery or a crematorium in this section of DownTown, most of the bodies are simply flushed into the sewer system where they exit into Cannibal Sector One, some twenty miles away. The sewer has been nicknamed the River Styx by people in the are for many years, after some myth that all dead people were taken to the next life by a ferryman on the River Styx.

Assuming that the squad has some torches or other sources of light, they will travel down the walkways. Flashing light down on to the water's surface reveals little of the murky black water. It doesn't give anything away as to its possible content as it oozes down the sewer. The walkways are about 2 metres wide and the base although textured metal is slippery with dark green algae. After about a half-hour of walking (about 800m) those Operatives with keen hearing will pick out a splashing noise up ahead. Shining their torches in the direction of the noise will highlight a man on the opposite walkway trying to drag a body from the river on to the walkway. As his face is light up by the torchlight, his mutated face looks at the group before going back to the corpse.

Tarran will try firing his CAF gun at the Scav. If stopped he will explain that the Scavs are infected, inbred humans who delight on eating the dead and not quite dead. He will also tell the Operatives that they can get an additional 2c per every confirmed dead Scav. Monica will also say that a shot of them fighting will look good on camera, but best to go in close, hand-to-hand. As the Operatives start to walk across one of the connecting walkways, the Scav will yank the body up, grab its club and yell a torturous moan. As the Operatives rush towards the Scav will act brave and heroic until it is hit. Then it will most likely run away, moaning at the top of its lungs. It won't go fast as it will drag the corpse behind it. Crossing to the other side of the tunnel it will disappear up a side tunnel, just in front of the Operatives. As their torches light up the tunnel they will see numerous eyes looking back at them. They have just disturbed the home territory of a Scav family.

With Third Eye at their heels, there is little the Operatives can do but fight. The tunnel is blocked off at the far end, and it is here that a fire burns. Next to the fire are two fat diseased women, one ripping flesh off a cooked limb, the other throwing up near to some babies who are eating her vomit. In the rest of the tunnel there are lots of other Scavs who will grab any weapon that can be used as a club and move to attack the Operatives. They will come in all shapes and forms; from hideously fat children to lanky deformed adults. They will all fight to the death to protect the two females and the babies, moaning in pain (or delight) as they try to protect their home.

After destroying the Scavs Kyle will come on the phone to say that he has just talked to a Shiver patrol and they say that the flood level has dropped. If they go back to the corner of Tae & Narum street they will be able to find the cause of the blockage easier from street level. Tarran and Derrick agree that they should leave soon, so as not to disturb any more Scavs, or other creatures. The trip back to the manhole is uneventful. Unless someone falls into the sewer.

#5: Back at the corner of Tae & Narum streets

Arriving back at the corner of Tae and Narum streets, the Operatives will find a Shiver APC waiting for them. The water has dropped enough that the APC is actually at ground level, and is currently being filled with dead bodies in body bags. Tarran and Derrick will find the manhole that they can use to enter the sewers and start setting up the winch to get people down there. Monica will arrive from the Third Eye van looking as if she has just managed to shower and change clothes. Even her boots are clean.

As the Shivers seal up the last few bodies, the observant Operatives may notice that several of the bodies have little red ribbons tied around their ears. The Shivers have no idea what this means. If asked why they are keeping the bodies, the Shivers will reply that it would be inhuman to just throw them done the sewers; they have to have the proper send off first. Besides they also have to be identified so that no one can keep claiming benefits for them. Monica will announce that she will stay on the surface so that she can interview the hardworking Shiver units, however Tim will be following them into the sewers. He doesn't seem that impressed with her idea.

The Sewers here are about 3 metres in diameter and lit only by the torches and lights that the group is carrying. The water is about a meter deep, meaning that wading through it is hard work. Tarran and Derrick are quite sure that the blockage can't be too far down, as the water would have flooded other areas as well. As they walk a floating body bumps into the last person. The arms and legs are tied with a Shiver tag. Tarran will explain that once the Shivers have finished with the body, they will tie the limbs together so that it does not obstruct anything on the passage down. They should let the body continue ahead on its journey.

Those with keen hearing will detect a splashing noise up ahead. It is here that the sewer pipe joins into the main sewer line. The pipe outflows into a large brick sewer. This has a central channel for the river and a wide flat section on either side. The roof is only about 4 metres above the flat sections, but the channel itself looks a lot deeper. By the entrance there is quite a lot of debris to either side, and it looks as if this was part of a constructed dam for the end of the pipe. Also about 100m down the old sewer on the flat section there is a person huddled over a body. The person is wearing long dark robes, with a cowl over his head. Whilst being watched he will carefully drag the body from the ledge before allowing it to flow down the sewer. He will then stand up and start limping down the sewer, away from the group.

#6: Does anyone have an obol?

If (when) the group meet up with the figure they will find he is quite harmless. His name is Charon and besides a strange eye defect that cause his eyes to always move around (not smoothly but jerkily) he appears to be quite normal. If asked what he is doing, Charon will explain that he is freeing the bodies for the next life. Charon is an obsessive who roams these sewers to make sure that the bodies of those who pass through here are properly blessed. He undoes the Shiver ties, places a red ribbon around the left ear and then prays for protection of the body as it passes on down 'the river of tranquillity'. He believes that this sewer is part of the journey to the next life and it is his responsibility to make sure that the bodies can travel through unstopped.

If Charon is asked about the blockage of the pipe, he will say that he was not the one who placed it there, but rather the one that broke it down. He thinks that they might have been blocked by the Carrien that live further down the sewer. Since they moved in, a lot of the smaller tunnels have been blocked. He did try to do something about it, but the Carrien attacked him. He will part his robes to reveal a 150mm gash in his leg. It looks fresh, but he will insist it was done some days ago. If the group wants he will lead them to the Carriens nest, as he believes that if they don't stop them the Carrien will continue blocking the tunnels.

The journey through the old, crumbling sewer should be uneventful. The majority of the side inflow pipes have been blocked by timbers and building rubble, so that only a little amount of water will flow out of them. They can easily be removed by forcing the blockage out of the way, or by selective hits with a Chain Axe/ Power Claymore. Either way there will be an immediate torrent of water escaping, along with several bodies that have been trapped by the blockage. Charon will dart into the water torrents and 'rescue' the bodies, so that he can pray over them. This will take a couple of minutes per body and start to slow the group down. If the squad decides to use any noisy methods of unblocking the sewers (ie: explosives of Ebb-Bomb) then the Carrien further down the sewer will hear them and set up an ambush for them.

After about a mile of walking down the brick sewer, the Operatives should start seeing some flickering lights at the far end. These torches mark the boundary of the Carrien nest, where a small family of Carrien live off the bodies of the dead. Their nest actually belongs to Charon, but they have taken over the area. They will currently be feeding on a dead body that they have managed to fish out of the sewer. They have been blocking the pipes so that they do not have to enter the main sewer channel to get the bodies, and so that they do not miss any coming through. Tim will outline to the Squad that it will look best if they get in close to the Carriens where the torches are. He will also advise them to use close combat weapons, as it will look best on camera, 'especially if you shout a war-cry or something'. Tarran will also inform them that they will get a squad bonus of 10c for every documented kill of a Carrien on SLA property, and the main sewers count as SLA property.

If the Carrien are not expecting the squad (ie: no loud noises earlier on) then Kyle is very likely to call them at an annoying moment just to get an update (Fu$king mobiles; can't live with them, can't live without them). The actual fight shouldn't be too hard on them, although the Carrien will be tougher than the Scavs earlier. Throughout the fight Charon will stay back as he doesn't want to get hurt again. If any of the Carrien fall into the sewer they will be swept away and the Operatives will loose their credit bonus.

Following the destruction of the Carrien, they are safe to return back to the surface. If Charon is healed he will vow to the Squad that he will keep the sewers unblocked for them as a personal favour. Otherwise they'll have to work out a way to get to the other side of the sewer canal to unblock those ones as well. Other than that, the BPN is all over and the payment is in the post. At least they won't get criticised for their nice clean armours now :)

GM notes: Charon is basically human although he has strange healing abilities. Charon almost never bleeds, although his wounds do not heal up. Instead they remain open until healed by drugs or through ebb-healing. Strangely these wounds never get infected or diseased either. It must come from all his time in the sewers...