A Smuggler Born
Backstory for Coyle Addison
It's 2067. Coyle's friends have retired, and Coyle is still trying to break into the business. Until now, he's contented himself with small runs - a little hacking here, a Redmond to Seattle run there. Money's getting tight, though, and he's got all these new toys to play with….
Though retired, Firebrand still has an ear to the streets - for his own protection, you know? He hears from one of his old fixers about a big job going down soon - someone wants to smuggle a load of weapons and explosives to the rebels in the Bay Area. Firebrand never planned to tell Coyle about this run (quite the opposite, in fact), but Coyle is a better hacker than Firebrand knows. His eavesdropping gives Coyle enough information to pester Firebrand for the contact info. Coyle only convinces Firebrand to tell him about the contact by threatening to find the fixer himself. Firebrand begs Coyle not to take the run, but Coyle is still young and reckless. He feels he needs to make a name for himself.
Coyle, as Liam, sets up a meeting with the fixer (facilitated by Firebrand). As expected, the fixer sees right through the Liam identity but believes Ronan to be a legitimate identity. Coyle manages to talk his way into the job and meets the rest of his team (a mage named Harry and a Gillette named Groovy). Coyle uses the last of his unexpected inheritance to equip himself for the run, purchasing a used Ford Ranger pickup truck with a false bed.
The run is expected to take at least a couple of weeks, as the team must pass through Salish-Shidhe Council territory and the Pueblo Corporate Council to avoid the insanely tough Tir border security. This run almost defines the cliche: "hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror." Only the border checks involve any degree of real risk; since the team is passing through and has relatively solid false identities for the run, there is little to distinguish them from any other vehicle on the road. The pickup draws some scrutiny (as it is a rare breed of vehicle now), but the false bed proves sufficient to fool the relatively cursory border examinations. After 3 days of relatively boring driving, the team finally arrives in the California Free State.
California border security proves not to be significantly more effective than that of the Salish or the PCC; the runners are admitted to California under the cover story that they are meeting with school friends in San Fransisco. As both the Harry and Groovy are younger humans, the border guards seem to buy the story and wave the team through. Unbeknownst to the runners, however, the false identity that they had been told to use as their point of contact has been broken; the team's activities have now been flagged by Saito's security, and over the next few hours they are quietly watched via high-altitude drone.
On their way to San Fransisco, Coyle manages to get lucky; his pickup's sensors spot the pursuing drone, and he alerts the team. He also hands off driving to Groovy as he tries to find some way to make alternate contact arrangements. As they approach the Bay Area, they are expecting trouble; they're not disappointed. The drone breaks off as they cross through the last stretch of countryside before the San Fransisco metroplex. Moments later, they see a roadblock up ahead as more armored vehicles emerge from hiding behind them.
Hopelessly outgunned, the young mage panics and begins ordering spirits to attack the armored vehicles blocking the team's path. Suddenly, four large (Force 4) earth and air elementals manifest, slamming against the rallied Nissan Pachyderms and throwing the roadblock into disarray. A hail of bullets slams against the pickup, throwing shrapnel into Coyle and Groovy as they duck behind the modicum of cover provided by the engine block and firewall. Coyle grabs his fiber cable and jacks in, overriding the manual controls and gunning it through the sudden gap in the blockade. The moments of sheer terror begin as the team rockets into downtown San Jose, dodging traffic and trying to shake Saito's drones.
The team is able to momentarily shake their pursuers, but the pickup has been run ragged; Coyle doesn't know how long he can hold on to his lead. Desperate, the team tears out of town toward Los Gatos and their planned clandestine meeting with the CaliFree rebels. Unfortunately, Saito's men had by now decoded the meeting location. By the time the team arrives in the valley, Saito has sent a crack special forces team to intercept the delivery and eliminate the rebels.
When the team arrives, mistakenly thinking themselves safe for the moment, the special forces team springs its trap. The rebels and the team are surrounded by gunfire as soon as the exchange begins. The rebel contact and the runners' mage are the first two gunned down; the remaining rebels and runners quickly take cover behind hastily-armored vehicles and blindly return fire. Thankfully, the rebels, untrusting as they were, had an ace up their own collective sleeve; some rebel mages had taken up position outside the meeting area. These mages now highlight and target members of the special forces team as the entire situation devolves into chaos.
Saito's military, finding themselves outmanned, pull back and call in reinforcements. The rebels take the opportunity to quickly make the exchange, taking the shipment of explosives and antitank weapons and scattering. Groovy, for her own reasons, chooses to join them. The rebels quickly pay Coyle and hand over his passport back to Seattle, a new false identity. His truck essentially destroyed (but luckily flush with cash from this run), he trades the poor pickup for a small bit of additional cash and a lift to a safe area. Coyle changes his appearance, checks in to a downtown hotel as a vacationer, and lets things die down for a few days as he plays the tourist. After 4 days, he schedules a flight back to Seattle.
Coyle used the money from this run to set himself up for some others starting in and around Seattle. He eventually saved up enough money to replace his vehicle. Despite the danger he loved the opportunity smuggling gave him to see new places; within a year, he was back at it, though he had learned to be much pickier about the runs he would select. The successful failure of this mission completely put Coyle off of gun running. Since this mission, he has only smuggled relatively innocuous items such as people, telesma, or non-threatening magical equipment.
- Why did Groovy join the rebellion?
- She's half-Japanese; her mother was an exiled Japanese ork. She was born in CaliFree, and her mother was killed there; she and her human father fled to Seattle. She signed on to this mission not just for the money but also for the opportunity for revenge. Coyle does not and did not know this.
- Why isn't Groovy written up?
- After this run, Groovy went completely underground. Coyle has not been able to track her down, though he half-heartedly tried a few times after this run. Since Coyle has not seen nor heard from Groovy since 2067, he has no idea whether she is even still alive. It's been so long that Coyle doesn't really think about her anymore; after all, he only knew her for about a week.