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Streets of Blood
Rok wydania: 1992
Okładka: Keith Birdsong
"Londyn, 2054. Cienie tańczą w pokrytych mgłą alejkach historycznego miasta - cienie, które kryją sadystycznego mordercę, w jakiś sposób sprowadzonego z czasów wiktoriańskich, by znów zabijać..."
As dark shadows released from Victoria's reign run rampant in 2054 London, Geraint, Adept, Serrin, Francesca, and Rani are drawn into a world of deceit, death, and conspiracy.
There's a lot of stories about Jack the Ripper. This is one of them, kinda.
In London of 2054, someone is doing their damnded to recreate the killings. People of the same name as the original victims are ending up dead, in the same districts. And they were all prostitutes. Three friends are somehow connected to the killings, and decide to stop it.
The book is a nice change from the previous ones in several respects. For one thing, one of the people is not only rich, he's nobility. This lets the runners live at a style this universe rarely displays to its main characters. The plot is convoluted but not confusing, and at the end everything is explained, with no major holes. And lastly, the ending has a delicious twist of the sort that I usually love.
.: Streets of Blood .:. Comments :.
Streets of Blood
by Carl Sargent and Marc Gascoigne (1992)
A sinister British megacorp unleashes a new Jack the Ripper on London's East End as part of a complicated hostile takeover. A handful of shadowrunners are manipulated into investigating the serial murders.
Good book. 4 out of 5.
.: Streets of Blood .:. Plot :.
It's been seven years since Geraint, Serrin Shamandar, and Francesca Young have been together. It seems mildly curious when they all find themselves working on related interests in England. Serrin is being paid to evaluate the magical security of corps in the Cambridge area, Francesca is being paid to penetrate the computer systems of many of the same corps, and Geraint is invited to attend a conference of noblemen in business at Cambridge. No one much notices when a streetwalker named Polly Nichols is killed in London's East End.
During a decking run, Francesca encounters a powerful persona modeled after Jack the Ripper. She follows it to a Transys Neuronet system, where it turns on her and dumps her from the Matrix. When she meets it on another run, she believes she is ready for it. Francesca confronts the Ripper-icon and it responds with lethal countermeasures -- only prompt intervention by her friend Annie Chapman saves her life.
Serrin discovers that the murderer of his parents, Paul Kuranita, is attending the Cambridge conference as a security executive for Fuchi. Geraint and Serrin learn that Kuranita will be making an inspection tour of a Fuchi installation at Longstanton. They prepare an ambush which unexpectedly becomes a complete clusterfrag. A handful of East End orks (Rani's family) had been hired to attack the same target at the same time. Apparently expecting the attack, Fuchi's counterstrike is devastating and several of Rani's cousins are killed. Serrin's intervention allows Rani and her brother to escape. Serrin disappears into the Stinkfens and Geraint is forced to flee without him.
Back in London, Geraint learns of Francesca's misadventure and picks her up from the hospital. He accompanies Francesca when she decides to pay a visit to Annie Chapman, to thank her for saving her life. They find her eviscerated corpse spread all over her apartment. Because of Annie's relations with several prominent government officials, the circumstances surrounding her murder are kept quiet by the police. No one makes the connection to Polly Nichols.
Following the disaster at Longstanton, Rani begins making inquiries about the job her family was hired to perform. She makes several important contacts -- a street samurai named Mohinder, and an Undercity ork named Smeng. From the former, she learns that the job was contracted by a fixer named Pershinkin. From the latter, she learns that Pershinkin was hired by a pair of corporate fixers and that she and her family were merely cannon fodder, not expected to survive the job.
When the gruesome murder of Elizabeth Stride makes the news, Geraint becomes suspicious. He checks the news database and learns about Polly Nichols, which confirms his guess that Annie Chapman's killer is a Jack-the-Ripper copycat. Knowing that the original Ripper murdered Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes on the same night, Geraint quickly searches the Matrix and finds a match. Geraint, Serrin, and Francesca arrive too late to save the woman, but they get their first look at the killer. They are prevented from capturing him by a combat mage and street samurai seemingly acting as bodyguards for the Ripper. In the ensuing fight, Geraint and Serrin are injured and the Ripper's protectors are killed. Geraint, Serrin, and Francesca are forced to flee from the authorities. They meet Rani, who helps them.
Assuming the new Jack the Ripper keeps his established pattern, he will try to kill his last victim in another week. Suddenly focused on the sensational serial killer, Geraint, Serrin, and Francesca are distracted from the suspicious events that led to their involvement. They begin preparations for capturing Jack the Ripper, investigating women named Mary Jane Kelly and trying to trace the killer himself.
Serrin makes a trip to New York, where he learns about the "Jack the Ripper" personafix-skillsoft program developed a few years earlier by Global Technologies in Seattle and stolen by a Transys Neuronet subsidiary. Geraint and Francesca penetrate Transys Neuronet's matrix systems and discover evidence that Transys was the corp which had earlier hired Serrin and Francesca for the deceptively simple jobs that brought them all together. Furthermore, they find a file on Paul Kuranita implying that Transys had been the corp which hired him to kill Serrin's parents many years before.
Geraint, Serrin, Francesca, Rani, their hired muscle (including Mohinder) are too late to save Mary Jane Kelly, but this time they are able to prevent the Ripper's escape. Jack the Ripper and several bodyguards are killed in the fight. Geraint takes tissue samples from the Ripper and his protectors. The DNA samples taken from the guards are matched to Transys Neuronet employees, and the serial numbers on their weapons are traced to Transys. The new Jack the Ripper turns out to be a physical clone of a British Royal who lived in Whitechapel in 1888, hardwired with the stolen personafix-skillsoft tech. Geraint turns their accumulated evidence -- including a video record of the final murder taken from Mohinder's cybereye camera -- over to the media. Public outcry over the atrocities leads to the ruin of Transys Neuronet.
Only upon examining the aftermath does Geraint finally understand the truth: The whole scenario was engineered by financial megacorp Hildebrandt-Kleinfort-Bernal (HKB) for the express purpose of destablizing Transys Neuronet, making it vulnerable to a hostile takeover. HKB agents inside Transys biotech labs corrupted the cloning research program and created Jack the Ripper. HKB also lined up his victims, overcoming the improbability of finding five women in East End with the same names. HKB arranged for the involvement of Francesca (because of her convenient friendship with the second victim, Annie Chapman) and Geraint and Serrin (because of their history with Francesca and Serrin's useful desire for revenge against his parents' killer). HKB subtly manipulated and directed their investigation, planting files in the Transys computer system and carefully arranging evidence to implicate them.
Geraint decides to keep the truth secret, rather than shatter his friends' illusion of victory with the grim reality of their complicity.
.: Streets of Blood .:. People :.
Serrin Shamandar: elf magician born in Louisiana, Serrin's parents were both researchers for an unspecified corp. They were killed by a shadowrunner (Paul Kuranita) in the employ of a rival corp seeking to delay their research program. Serrin became a shadowrunner himself partly in the hope of finding his parents' murderer. He specializes in Detection magic and watcher spirits. He knew Geraint and Francesca seven years ago in California Free State. Serrin limps because of a bad leg injury in the past.
Geraint: human, 29 years old, British noble, Earl of Llanfrechfa in Wales. He tends not to ally himself politically with the other Welsh nobility. Geraint is an Aspected Magician whose only demonstrated magical skill is divination, using Tarot cards. He holds a degree in neuropsychology from Cambridge University, and regularly uses a wide range of psychoactive narcotics. He has adequate combat and decking skills, an extensive array of contacts, and a lot of money. Geraint has been called "one of the fifty brightest comers in European speculative finances" (p.44), with a net worth of over 18 million nuyen (p.125). His preferred Matrix icon is a Celtic knight. Geraint has a datajack, headware memory, a cannula implant (for the rapid administration of his designer drugs), a smartlink, and skillwires.
Francesca Young: American human decker. Francesca is a legal resident in London, on an open-ended work visa as a "freelance security consultant," evaluating businesses' matrix security. Under that cover, she also works as a shadowrunner, a decker paid to crack those systems. Francesca has been living in London for 18 months. In the Matrix, her icon is a "nondescript child". She is mildly prejudiced against orks and trolls.
Rani: ork with an Indian ethnic background, living in London's East End. She was not born ork, but changed several years ago. Rani is seventeen years old at the beginning of the book; she turns eighteen halfway through. Because of her ethnic background, Rani's extended family is very important to her. Within that family, though, there is lot of cultural pressure for her to remain a "good little gopi girl". Stay home, cook, clean, take care of the family. Rani has nonetheless managed to obtain some cyberware: boosted reflexes and a smartlink. She is strong-willed and resourceful, and intimately familiar with the East End stalking grounds of the serial killer.
In order of appearance:
Imran: Indian ork, Rani's brother
Sanjay: Indian ork, Rani's brother, chemist
Polly Nichols*: joygirl, the Ripper's first victim
Melvin Aloysius Smith*: corporate fixer, fat, balding chip addict, jewel in a front tooth
Peter Karl Jones*: corporate fixer, Smith's partner
Earl of Manchester: political associate of Geraint
Mohsin: East End street doc, distant relative of Rani
amateur shadowrunners related to Rani:
Old Chenka: street shaman, distantly related to Rani
Serena: famous talismonger
Paul Kuranita (James Kuruyama): security exec for Fuchi Switzerland
Annie Chapman*: courtesan, friend of Francesca, the Ripper's second victim
Mr. Johnson: from Manhattan, NY, hires Francesca to plant a virus in a Fuchi system
Marquis of Scunthorpe: Yorkshire noble
Walter Crowther: head of British Industrial Foods
Kapil: small-time East End fence
Bishen: fence, Kapil's partner
Mohinder*: street samurai, fixer
Dr. van der Merwe: condescending South African doctor working in London
Chief Inspector Swanson: detective assigned to Annie Chapman's murder
Pershinkin*: fixer, arranged the run at Longstanton
Typhoid Mary (Mary Jane Kelly)*: chip addict, streetwalker, novice decker, the Ripper's last victim
Smeng: ork from the Undercity
Elizabeth Stride*: alcoholic joygirl, the Ripper's third victim
Catherine Eddowes*: joygirl, the Ripper's fourth victim
Barbara: a friend of Serrin's from home, living in Manhattan
Judy: Barbara's 15-year old daughter, artist in Manhattan's Soho district
The Lady (Her Ladyship): influential Manhattan fixer, information broker
Shrapenter: a Manhattan Mr. Johnson, owed Serrin a favor
Prof. Russell Michaels: Oxford medical school, friend of Geraint
Edward: Oxford chemist, supplies Geraint with designer pharmaceuticals
Scirea*: italian street samurai
Pieren Featherbrook*: elf, Transys Neuronet wage mage
* character dies in the course of the novel.
.: Streets of Blood .:. Places :.
London (Heathrow Airport, Savoy Hotel)
West End (Crescent Hotel, Serena's)
East End (Whitechapel, Rani's ground, Toadslab)
Chelsea (Geraint's flat)
Grantchester (Renraku Labs)
Longstanton (Fuchi complex, Transys Neuronet lab)
New York City (Manhattan, Grand Central Station)
.: Streets of Blood .:. Points of Interest :.
Carl Sargent and Marc Gascoigne together are the authors of the London Sourcebook (1991), Tir na nOg (1993), Celtic Double-Cross (1993), and three Shadowrun novels: Streets of Blood (1992), Nosferatu (1994), and Black Madonna (1996). On his own, Carl Sargent is also the author of Imago (1992) and Paranormal Animals of Europe (1993). Both men live in Britain, and given their publishing history could be considered FASA's designated regional experts on Europe.
The original Jack the Ripper stalked the Whitechapel district of London's East End in 1888. At least five grisly murders were attributed to him:
Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols, 31 Aug 1888
Annie Chapman, 8 Sep 1888
Elizabeth Stride, 30 Sep 1888
Catherine Eddowes, 30 Sep 1888
Mary Jane (Marie Jeanette) Kelly, 9 Nov 1888
In Streets of Blood, the new Jack the Ripper is repeating the original sequence, killing women of the same names in roughly the same geographical area. The serial killings were carefully orchestrated by the Ripper's puppet-masters; one of the women was enticed to change her name, another was encouraged to move into the proper area. The timing is different, in that the murders all occur in the space of three weeks in November:
Polly Nichols, 8 Nov 2054
Annie Chapman, 15 Nov 2054
Elizabeth Stride (Jane Dews), 21 Nov 2054
Catherine Eddowes, 22 Nov 2054
Mary Jane Kelly (Typhoid Mary), 29 Nov 2054
Francesca, Geraint, and Serrin knew each other 7 years ago (p.43). Geraint alludes to events that took place in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Someone close to them died there (p.57). Serrin remembers "holding a terrified young woman Francesca outside a restaurant full of corpses in San Francisco." (p.11). The details of this shared history are never revealed.
Geraint has limited magical ability. He is able to make fairly accurate predictions using a Tarot deck. Magic in the Shadows makes divination a metamagical power, so Geraint's ability doesn't fit neatly into SR3. Under SR2, Foretelling was a Detection spell (Awakenings, p.135), which wouldn't have required him to be an initiate. Geraint never demonstrates any other magical ability -- sorcery, conjuring, or astral perception -- though he does purchase and bond a Power Focus.
Geraint's interpretations of different Tarot cards match the ones in my own reference books (unsurprising given Carl Sargent's background in parapsychology).
p.5: "More than a century ago, the artist had given the Magician card the distinctly pointed ears of an elf; what had she and the designer of the Thoth Tarot known of the coming of the Sixth Age of the world? Had they foreseen the birth of elves and the other new races of metahumanity?"
p.6: Francesca uses a Fuchi 6 cyberdeck. MPCP 8, Hardening 4. A bit pricey at £334,500. The workhorse of the professional decker.
p.11: The news is reporting the first of the Ripper's murders, but to Serrin it's just background noise.
p.12: "The Crescent Hotel was neither real class nor the fake kind for Americans and Japanese with more money than true discernment; it was simply a reasonably good place to stay." Serrin's hotel is also described in the London Sourcebook (p.69).
p.16: "Striding through the hotel lobby, [Serrin] hailed one of the voluminous black trollcabs, London's finest, yanking open the passenger door as the grinning driver screeched the vehicle to a halt." Apparently, one of the major London cab companies employs trolls as drivers. I imagine that would make negotiations over cab fares a lot less complicated.
p.17: Several prominent nobles are mentioned in Geraint's conversation. Rhiannon Glendower (Countess of Harlech), Francesca Hamilton (Duchess of Cambridge), Hamish Campbell (Earl of Dundee). They are described in more detail in the London Sourcebook (p.31-32)
p.20: Francesca is a regular at the Lounging Lizard (London, p.82), an upscale private club. The barman's name is Rutger.
p.22: Francesca encounters a Jack the Ripper construct in the matrix and follows it to Transys Neuronet. This Jack the Ripper has no relationship to the decker of the same name featured in the Lorelei Shannon short story, Whitechapel Rose (Into the Shadows).
Transys Neuronet is profiled in the London Sourcebook (p.47). They also feature prominently in the published adventure, Imago.
p.23: "HKB's last set of global estimations show that we [the U.K.] own seventeen percent of your UCAS gross domestic product. Almost as much as the Japanese, in fact." Great Britain is heavily invested in American business.
HKB (Hildebrandt-Kleinfort-Bernal) is profiled in the London Sourcebook (p.46).
p.32: Rani and her brother Imran both goblinized into orks at the same time. Because of this they are particularly close. This also makes Rani's disillusionment with her brother that much more bitter.
p.34: Geraint is a regular patron of Serena's (London p.72). "More than a few elven nobles counted Serena as a good friend, and it was probably their influence that allowed her to operate beyond the rigid legal constraints of the Lord Protector's Office. She didn't always need to fill out the quadruplicate paperwork or obtain the full array of permits most registered talismongers needed in Britain's highly regulated society."
p.36: According to Serena, Geraint is an adept (SR2 term for an Aspected Magician) with the ability to foretell the future. She disapproves of his cyberware and drug use because they interfere with his magical ability.
Both Serrin (p.46) and Francesca (p.49) are hired to make runs on Optical Neotech. This isn't directly relevant to the Ripper killings, but is circumstantial evidence that they have both been hired by the same corp.
p.51: Francesca confronts the Jack the Ripper construct again, and is dumped. It is never clear whether this is a straightforward human decker, a decker (possibly the Ripper himself) using stolen personafix-skillsoft technology, or some version of Semi-autonomous Knowbot sculpted to resemble the Ripper. In any case, being a Transys Neuronet black project means the construct would almost certainly outclass Francesca's Fuchi-6 cyberdeck.
p.53: Geraint discusses the Nobles in Business conference. "An event like this brings together two groups of people who need each other. On the one hand, a selection of British upper-crust, a bit short on cash, but who badly want to believe they can succeed in business... On the other hand you have greedy foreign fat cats who have money and power, but who can't buy that elusive quality, style... Both sides are doomed to disappointment, obviously. The nobles usually have as much business acumen as a lobotomized troll, and the greed merchants wouldn't know style if it sandbagged them."
p.67: The disadvantages of having a legal identity to protect -- Geraint can't go home with visible injuries or unlicensed weapons without alarming the security service in his own apartment building, who are legally obligated to report such things to the authorities.
p.69: "[Geraint] drew a wad of bills from his jacket. Thank the Bank of England for stubbornly refusing to accept that credsticks were the only way to do business these days. He flung the paper into the air, then watched as it fluttered down like a ticker tape parade of fifties and hundreds." The Bank of England still issues hard currency coins and bills in addition to electronic credit. Denominations for paper notes are £5, £10, £20, £50, £100, £200, and £500 (London, p.9).
p.80: Mohinder offers Rani ¥1300 for an Ares Predator 2. In Seattle, the street price would be ¥275 (¥550 price tag, street index 0.5). Exchange rate is ¥2 for £5, and firearms have a 200% mark-up (London p.141), so the street price for the Predator 2 should be £1375. Not a bad offer, considering.
p.92: Rani meets Mohinder at the Toadslab (London, p.88).
p.97: A vicious East End street gang is White Lightning. They habitually ambush metahumans, particularly orks. "Anti-metahuman, pure racist, neo-Nazi street scum." The London Sourcebook (p.50) puts the White Lightning gang in Birmingham, though. Perhaps they migrated.
The Undercity isn't mentioned in the London Sourcebook. A number of factions live in the old Civil Defense Underground, abandoned tube stations, mail tunnels, catacombs, sewers, and other structures beneath the East End. Some of them:
Orks: Smeng and his people, scavengers and traders
Dwarves: salvage crews strip old copper cables, etc.
Ratskinks: street kids and runaways, leader is named King Rat
Trolls: skinny and malnourished, relatively weak
Blindboys: muggers and thieves, prowl topside and hide underground
p.117: Smith and Jones are manipulating Francesca, Geraint, and Serrin toward an investigation of the murders. In a debate over the clues they leave, one says "We could take the kidney option." This is a reference to the original Jack the Ripper, who mailed the kidney of one of his victims to the police.
p.164: "It was a well-known fact of life that the Sixth Age hadn't changed noble prejudices in Britain. When the first wave of unexplained genetic expressions brought elves and dwarfs, the first of the metahumans, into the world, noble families got their fair share of pretty elven children but only the rare ugly little dwarf. Registered stillbirths and neo-natal deaths among dwarf babies had been astonishingly high among society's upper echelons. Then, when the transformations brought orks and trolls into their midst, British nobles took steps to make sure they stayed elegant, handsome, and socially acceptable. Most of the unfashionably ugly creatures proved to have alarmingly short lifespans, for having an ork in the family just wasn't done."
p.184: Serrin says, "I seem to remember some crazy Jack stories in Seattle two, three years ago." It's a reference to the published adventure Dreamchipper (James Long, 1989). Global Technologies in Seattle was developing hybrid personafix-simsense and skillsoft technology (mentioned in New Seattle, p.85). The prototypes were stolen by shadowrunners employed by a rival corp, Hollywood Simsense Entertainment (HSE). One of the chips, modelled after Jack the Ripper, influenced the street samurai who slotted it to commit at least nine murders in Redmond (Dreamchipper, p.62).
p.199: Geraint and Francesca are concerned about matching their matrix icons to the Transys Neuronet system sculpture. By Virtual Realities 2.0 rules (p.69), running a sculpted system with an icon that doesn't fit the host metaphor imposes a +2 to target numbers for all system operations.
p.227: Transys Neuronet owns Hollywood Simsense Entertainment, from whom they acquired stolen copies of Global's Jack the Ripper program.
p.258: The new Jack the Ripper is a clone of Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward Windsor, who was Duke of Clarence in 1888. The press accepts this as proof that the original Duke of Clarence was also the original Ripper, though this is almost certainly not the case. However, the allegation itself is sufficient to discredit the Gordon-Windsor line (rivals of the current royal family, Windsor-Hanover), strengthening the current king's claim to the throne. At the same time, the scandal indirectly affects nobility in general, increasing corporate influence in government. Machiavellian, isn't it?
p.265: "We had hoped to break into the corp last year after they lost that wacko star decker of theirs in the Edinburgh business. Quicksilver, wasn't it?" This is a reference to Imago.
p.266: "Cloning from early fetal cell tissue isn't too hard but trying to clone from adult DNA samples, well, that's another flaskful of enzymes entirely ..."
p.267: "Clones developed from adult DNA samples turned out to be mentally unstable, hopelessly so. Seems there's something in the morphological fields of the brain during development that doesn't go quite right. The forced growth and development of a complete clone imposes too much strain on those delicate neural circuits."
p.272: "No one has any idea who the original Ripper was, well, not really. We cloned him because we wanted a Royal involvement ... He was the one Royal possible in the frame. The clone was conditioned to become a Ripper, sir. A whole year of dream conditioning, psychodrama, subliminals, neuroactives, sadistic surrogates, you name it, we pumped him full of it. We patterned his innate psychosis, or rather, our surrogates at Cambridge did. Stuffed him full of the original scenes, stories, and rumors."
Cloning duplicates the physical body based on the DNA template -- it doesn't replicate memory, personality, or any ephemeral characteristics. Furthermore, the Transys cloning process produces mental instabilities and brain damage. Using the stolen Global personafix-skillsoft simsense technology and other techniques to recreate the Jack the Ripper personality circumvents both problems.
supposedly, Transys Neuronet folded under the pressure of the Jack the Ripper scandal, only to be bought out piecemeal by financial giant Hildebrandt-Kleinfort-Bernal (HKB). But according to Blood in the Boardroom (p.44) and Corp Download (p.10), Transys is currently an Extraterritorial (AA) Megacorp. Transys Neuronet is an independant megacorp, though HKB is a major investor with enough clout to name its president/CEO (Liam Riley). The Great Dragon Celedyr owns enough Transys stock to keep HKB from absorbing the corp.
Serrin and Geraint re-appear in Nosferatu and Black Madonna.