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SRM01-05: A Walk in the Park
Will you do anything for money? How about escort a group of wealthy clients for a day? Is it just a walk in the park, or something more?

Part One: A Walk in the Park [188KB]
Part Two: Player Handouts [340KB]
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SRM01-05: A Walk in the Park - "Blood Ties"
Introductory fiction by Rich Osterhout

The glow of the numbers on the screen did not lie. There was a discrepancy in the data, one that indicated two things. The first was that an error had been made, one that would ultimately cost the corporate millions of nuyen once their competitors learned of their setback and took advantage of it to beat them to market. The second was that the error was the result of carelessness, a missed reagent in the calculations, and directly attributed to the chief biochemical engineer on the project - Joselito Santiago.

Santiago stared back at the screen in horror as the implications of the latest failed experiment sank in. He would have to inform the project manager in the morning that they still had not managed to isolate the protein responsible for the metabolic activity in their latest wonder drug. It was an important project, and had already cost Aztechnology not only millions of nuyen in research, but in public affairs and advertising as well. The Aztlan mega had been pushing to release the drug early, but problems had continuously crept into the project, causing public mistrust and even worse when the first clinical trials had been conducted on metahumans.

The key seemed to be in the protein chain that Santiago had discovered in the first place - they just couldn't seem to get it to bend to their needs. Rumor had it that both Ares and Shiawase were close to dis covering the key to the drug, and therefore Santiago's project manager was pressuring him and his team to produce results so that they would be first to market. Now, with the latest experiment a failure, because of his error in missing some steps in the process, the program would be pushed back at least another two weeks - time that Aztechnology could ill afford while their competitors raced to develop their latest biomedical breakthrough. He only hoped that tomorrow morning would bring mercy upon him...

Such was not the case for Dr. Santiago. He arrived at his office early, hoping to prepare for the meeting at hand with the senior staff and the project manager. Instead, he found the project manager, along with the vice president of biotechnology, waiting for him. It did not take long. The data and the logs clearly showed that the error was a result of Santiago's negligence - and they were errors that could not be forgiven easily. His worst fears were confirmed as they sat him down to discuss his future with the corporation. His career would be altered - he would be transferred and demoted to a research assistant. He would loose many of the perqs he'd come to enjoy. He would be all but thrown away. And that was the good news.

All of this would come with a heavy price. One paid with blood - literally. In order to recover from this incident, Santiago would have to sacrifice his only son. The corporate offices had been keeping an eye on young Tomas since his twelve birthday, when testing revealed he possessed a latent gene known to be involved with magical ability. He had failed, however, to demonstrate any sort of ability or powers that would attract the attention of the thaumaturgy division. Possessing even latent abilities, however, would make him a valuable and powerful candidate for ritual sacrifice to power some of the more obscure procedures that were rumored to take place in the secret confines of the corporation's research teocalli. There was only one thing that Santiago could do - he would return home and spend one more night with his son. Tomorrow morning, with the rising of the sun burning away at the pollution and smog above Mexico City, he would have to take the teenage boy to the temple.

When Joselito returned home that evening, he found his wife and son waiting for him. She had heard through the rumor mill what had happened, but neither of the pair were prepared for what Joselito was to tell them. Amanda, his wife, took one look at him before bursting into tears and fleeing from the room. His son could only stand there with his big brown eyes, as if he could see the entire universe at once. It would be the one sight that Joselito would remember of his son. Because of his wife's fragile state, he decided to spend the night on the fold out couch in the family room. Had he gone to bed as usual with his wife, he might have been able to talk to her and discover that her tears were not only for their Tomas, but because she had also found out that morning that she was pregnant with their second child - a secret she took with her the next morning after Joselito left with the boy.

Fifteen years had past since his life turned upside down. Fifteen years since he led his only son to the teocalli to be sacrificed for the glory and power of Aztechnology. Fifteen years since he returned home with news that he was to be transferred to Seattle, only to find his house nearly empty, and his wife gone. Yes, it had been a long fifteen years. He had worked his way back up the ladder again from a research assistant to one of the most knowledgeable and skilled biochemists on the Aztechnology Seattle staff. He had been instrumental in some of the recent breakthroughs in bioware and pharmaceuticals during the past two years. Yes, it had been a long time, but his life was finally turning around.

It was even more of a shock for him to learn one day last year that his wife was also living in the Seattle area. He had not heard from her since she had left - her note making it quite clear what she thought of the man that would sacrifice his own son to save his job and career. Santiago had not even approached her to try to reconcile and put their marriage back together. He knew her hatred for him - but what he hadn't known was that she had carried another son when she left him! Word of this unbeknownst offspring reached his ears with jubilation. But it was not with the jubilation that a normal father would feel for discovering a lost son. He had cut all ties with family - his family was the corporation. Aztechnology provided for his every need, want, and desire. He had failed them in the past, but he would not fail them again.

His mother had of course renamed herself to aid in relocating. She was now going by Sanchez - the boy's name was Mark. They were working for one of the biomedical firms in the Seattle sprawl - not one of the megas, but an independent outfit that did cutting research and development of biotechnology for some of the larger corps and the big megacorps like Shiawase and Yamatetsu. He'd even seen her when he was invited to look over the company's new facility in Everett. Griffin Biotechnology knew nothing of his connection to the woman known as Amanda Sanchez of course, but he was able to catch a quick glance into a lab to verify that it was her. She was evidently making good money as a research biologist, following up on the job where they'd originally met almost thirty years ago back in Atzlan. She was even putting Mark through a private school.

That was the interesting part. The Hillside Student Community is a private school for "gifted" students in the Seattle area. They used to be a traditional boarding school for the wealthy, and were one of the first to hire on "specialists" when magic returned to the world. As a result, they were now the top school for those that didn't work for the megas, but had children that possessed the magic genomes and could develop talents or abilities. Mark, evidently, had evidenced some early abilities as an adept, but was still developing. He was mostly quiet and withdrawn from the rest of the students.

All of that mattered not to Santiago. All he cared about was the fact that the boy had power. All he cared about was his chance to redeem himself and once again be raised to a station of honor and pride within the corporation. It had been his driving force all these years, and now he had the tool to do it. All he would have to do is bide his time - at some point, he would make his move and kidnap his son. He would offer him up to the corporation as a sacrifice. His first son was sacrificed in order to correct an error - his second would be sacrificed to correct an injustice and restore his station within the company. He would return to Aztlan a hero. He would become the lead engineer again, and he would have anything his heart would desire.

All he had to do is get the young boy...

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