The Casamajor kidnap case made headlines, even in a city where major crimes were now happening every day. Someone snatched 17 year-old Jocasta Casamajor, heiress to the Sucra-F soft drink fortune on her way home from a friend's party, leaving behind them a bullet-riddled car and the bodies of her driver and two armed bodyguards. Two days later, the Casamajor family received a ransom demand for $5 million, relayed in a message recorded by Jocasta herself on her mp3 micro-player and delivered anonymously to the offices of the San Paro Standard. SPPD Forensics identified the voice, finger-prints and blood sample that came with the device as all belonging to Jocasta. The SPPD and the Praetorians, working separately, started tearing the city apart searching for her, while the Casamajor family also secretly hired the services of the Praetorians' covert Shadow Strike unit to find their daughter's captors.
The ransom was paid, the money tagged using military level surveillance and tracking techniques that the kidnappers probably couldn't even begin to guess about, with the satellite surveillance time alone - negotiated with the Feds - costing over half a million dollars.
Shadow Strike found the targets first, hiding out in a disused abattoir in Red Hill. Grissom and his team went in fast, hard and quiet.....and found that someone else had been there first. Six dead kidnappers. No Jocasta, dead or alive. And no $5 million ransom money, with no trace of where it had gone, and the means by which it had originally been tagged and tracked now completely disabled. Whoever had beaten them to the target had known what they were doing.
Four days later, Jocasta Casamajor was released unharmed, an SPPD prowl car finding her wandering, slightly dazed and confused, along Shianxi at 6am in the morning. She had her schoolbag with her. Inside was $2.5 million dollars of her original ransom sum. She claimed to have no memory of what happened to her, of who took her and who killed her captors, or where she had been or what she had been doing for the previous four days.
Two days later, the mayor's office received a communiqué from a group calling itself StrikeBack, which said that it had been responsible for freeing Jocasta Casamajor from her kidnappers and was happy to have secured the safe return of her and the ransom money, half of which it was deducting to further its citizens' justice activities.
Despite police eagerness to investigate further - nothing further has ever been heard from 'StrikeBack', and the organisation has never appeared among San Paro's ever-growing list of officially recognised vigilante groups - the Casamajor family lawyers blocked all further access to Jocasta herself, citing her amnesia as a sign of the psychological stress she had suffered from her ordeal. The family were just glad to have their daughter (and half the ransom money) back and apparently unharmed.
So what really happened back then? Only Jocasta Casamajor knows for sure. Well, her, and the Blood Roses.
It was Byron Bloodrose's intel hooks into Red Rain's cell phone set-up that first picked up hints that the kidnappers were a known professional heister gang with affiliations to Whispa's crew. Jeung's interest was piqued - his family knew the Casamajors, and he had briefly dated Jocasta's older sister back in high school - and the arch-snob in him disliked the idea of the kind of lowlife dregs employed by Red Rain treating people of his and Jocasta's class in this way. Besides, the kidnapper crew were rivals of the Blood Roses, and the idea of cheating Whispa out of his share of the ransom money was just too delicious. Jeung sent the Blood Roses into action, and they hit the gang's hideout and brought back Jocasta and the money before anyone knew they'd been there.
Which only left the problem of what to do with Jocasta. The kid was terrified and traumatised. It was Charlotte's idea to cheer her up by taking her clubbing. Banshee. Beltane. Gaijin. Opening night of some exclusive new club up-top the Needles in Havalynd. Uptown to Montebank to check out the new after-hours joint called the Shooting Gallery that everyone's talking about. Jeung, Charlotte and the inner circle hit them all, with little Jocasta Casamajor accompanying them in clothes and makeup lent to her by Charlotte and the other girls. Jocasta - traumatised, completely dislocated by the experiences of the last few days - loved it all.
In those four days, her new alter-ego Strega Bloodrose was born.
At the end of the four days, they cut her loose again. It was Byron's idea to return half the ransom money with her, to throw the cops and the Praetorians off the scent. $2.5 million was still a good return for a couple of days work, and everyone got a great laugh out of that 'StrikeBack official communiqué' bullshit that Charlotte and Jeung came up with.
Still, Jeung was only half-surprised when, a few weeks later, Jocasta Casamajor started turning up at the gang's usual club haunts in her Strega Bloodrose disguise. The ordeal of the kidnap must have messed with the wiring inside her head more than anyone had realised. She had seen something in those four days hanging out with the Blood Roses - a wild glamour so different from her previous safely moneyed existence - and now she wanted more.
That was almost two years ago. Now she's part of the organisation, earning - as the two Prentiss Tigers whose corpses were washed up on the shore of Green Spit can testify - the right to the now ritual scar tattoo. Whether she's a spoiled little rich girl playing at being a badass criminal for a few years before she receives her share of the soft drink family fortune, or whether she's genuinely been converted to the Blood Roses way of life, remains to be seen.
Level Item Category Cost Rating 3 Turtleneck Minidress Clothing $650 0 3 Backless Halter Dress Clothing $550 0 3 Dollar Earring (L) Clothing $850 0 3 Buttoned Blouse Clothing $150 0 3 Blouse Clothing $250 0 3 Shirt (Buttoned) Clothing $250 0 3 Shirt Clothing $250 0 3 Dollar Earring (L) Clothing $850 0 3 Dollar Earring (R) Clothing $850 0 3 A-Line Skirt Clothing $200 0 3 Shirt (Popped Collar) Clothing $250 0 4 Macchina Cosenza Vehicles $5,000 1 5 "Dead Famous" In-they-go Sneakers Clothing $70 0 5 "Dead Famous" T-shirt Clothing $15 0 5 "Dead Famous" Eliza Bathory Skirt Clothing $25 0 5 "Angel of Death" Rad Shoes Clothing $55 0 5 "Angel of Death" T-shirt Clothing $10 0 5 "Angel of Death" Jean Zasou Combats Clothing $70 0 5 Mercure's Blood Demon Symbols $0 0 5 Kitty Lobotomy Symbols $0 0 6 Han Veo Vehicles $5,000 1 7 Sequined Halter Dress Clothing $650 0 7 Pyramid Stud Earring (L) Clothing $80 0 7 Pyramid Stud Earring (R) Clothing $80 0 7 Brogues Clothing $500 0 7 Chinos Clothing $200 0 7 Turtleneck Clothing $450 0 7 Lacy Boyshorts Clothing $1,390 0 7 Adhesive Bra Clothing $350 0 7 Lace Bra Clothing $990 0 7 Strapless Bra Clothing $450 0 7 Swirl Stocking (L) Clothing $490 0 7 Swirl Stocking (R) Clothing $490 0 7 Lace Thong Clothing $650 0 8 Charge Sentinel Vehicles $15,000 10 9 Suit Jacket Clothing $990 0 9 Suit Jacket (Casual) Clothing $790 0 9 Suit Jacket (Buttoned) Clothing $990 0 9 Suit Trousers Clothing $450 0 9 Tie Clothing $150 0 9 Tie (Loosened) Clothing $450 0 9 Blazer Clothing $990 0 9 Suit Trousers Clothing $250 0 9 Two-tone Ballet Flats Clothing $350 0 10 Dolton Montane Vehicles $15,000 10
Subject Sorry I missed you.
Jocasta told me shed been talking to you. Sorry I wasnt around. Maybe we can talk next time. My names Strega. Im a friend of Jocastas. I hope we can be friends too.
She likes stories about dead Enforcers. Why dont you bring some of them with you next time you come see us?
That thing we talked about.
Did you do that thing we asked? I cant remember. I guess you must have, or Strega would have mentioned it.
Have you met my friend Strega? She looks after me and warns me about bad things. Something bad happened to me once, but then the Blood Roses helped me, and my friend Strega came to stay with me, and I was okay after that.
Shes still not sure if youre really my friend yet, so Id be careful. She sometimes does bad things to people she doesnt like, but only to protect me.
Tread carefully, my friend!
I saw Jocasta sent you a message. Im glad you and her are friends, but you should be careful. Something bad happened to her once. I dont think shes been wholly okay ever since then.
In the head, I mean.
Dont tell her I said that. It would upset her. If you upset her, Ill find out. Then you and me might not be able to be friends anymore, and that wouldnt be good.
For you, anyway.
Stregas been saying mean things about you, but I dont listen. Sometimes I wish shed just leave me alone.
I dont need her anymore, now that Ive got the Roses. They rescued me after the bad people kidnapped me. It was Jeungs idea.
I like Jeung. Hes always nice to me. Strega says thats the only reason people are nice to me, because they want to be friends with Jeung, but I think shes just being mean again when she says that.
After all, youre friends with me, and its not because of Jeung, is it?
Jocastas your guardian angel!
Youre really lucky. You dont know it, but you are.
I knew youd be trouble. I told Jocasta we should do something about you. maybe send you out on some mission that I knew you wouldnt get back from. She wouldnt let me. Thats why youre lucky.
I guess we can still be friends, for Jocastas sake. Just make sure you dont ever upset her, or Ill find out.
And that would be bad. For you.
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Subject Biography: Benkz Mhuller
Benkz Mhuller (Benkz Mhuller Truck and Bus Corporation)
Benkz Mhuller is a subsidiary of Verlaesslich Auto, a German car manufacturer. It fabricates trucks and busses from its headquarters in Berlin. Started by Johans Mhuller in 1934, his family business - Mhuller Casting - was originally devoted to creating finely engineered automotive components, but was forced to merge with Benkz Heavy Industries in 1937 after Johanns was killed in a motorcycle accident. The company was later incorporated as Benkz Mhuller Heavy Industries Corp in 1938. During the war, Benkz Mhuller manufactured trucks, aeroplanes and tank engines for the German war effort, until its production facilities were captured by American forces and partially dismantled during Russian occupation. In 1947, the company was renamed the Benkz Mhuller Truck and Bus Corporation, and took a central role in rebuilding the public transport infrastructure of post-war West Germany. In 2007 the San Paro Financial Times revealed Benkz Mhuller was in the closing stages of a deal with SPMC Transport to replace their aging bus fleet, though irregularities in the tendering process led to the deal collapsing
San Paro has a proud democratic tradition. Standing at the east end of Memorial Park, as a doleful reminder to City Hall, and now used as a popular rendezvous point for teenagers with guns, there is a pavilion commemorating the day in 1934 when nearly half a million workers took to the streets to demand better conditions for themselves and their families. In the older parts of town, there are manifold clues to a past when men and women stood together to speak for what they believed in, from boarded-up public libraries to Fellowship meeting halls and working men's clubs
There is still democracy in San Paro. That much is made obvious by the circus that runs through town every fourth year; the carpet-bombing of flags and banners and pins, the hi-jacking of airwaves by unctuous figureheads rolling out their unrecognizable accounts of the present, and calmly reassuring visions of the future. Other clear signals include the characteristic election-day spike in home invasions resulting from over a third of the city's police force being posted in defence of the polling stations; or in the months leading up, the stalling of public works projects and freezing of budgets for social programs, concurrent and co-incidental with an across-the-board ramp in undisclosed party expenses.
It hardly matters that in the last election the turn-out was less than 40 per cent. Or that the result of the online ballots, again administered controversially by Pasoko and their IT subsidiary Ventech, ran in direct and mysterious contrast to the paper ballots collected at the stations. Or that spoiled votes accounted for another 17 per cent of all papers. None of these things were considered newsworthy by the major networks running out of WP or Pattern, or even made inches in the Standard.
Historically, the city has been a two-party democracy. Control has flip-flopped between present incumbents, the Conservative Union Party, and the opposition Social Progressives. Fringe parties exist, but they run from specific minority platforms, such as the Environmental Action Party and Bible First. In reality, these smaller parties function as little more than minor lobby groups, attracting only a tiny percentage of the vote.
The Conservative Unionists carry the right-wing ticket. They are led by Jane Derren, San Paro's youngest ever mayor, and first woman to hold the office. These facts alone would be enough to ensure an unusual degree of scrutiny surrounding her ascension to the corridors of power, but Mayor Derren carries another intriguing piece of baggage. Her father was also the Mayor of San Paro; she was witness to his assassination by Luke Waskawi on the steps of City Hall.
However, hers was not a sentimental appointment. She has proved herself a shrewd operator, lightning-quick to respond to perceived threat, and every shred as politically ruthless as her father before. In the face of escalating violence across the city, she rubber-stamped for the SPPD tough new powers of strip-search and shoot-to-kill. Furthermore she demonstrated a mature pragmatism and no little ingenuity when, faced with crippling shortfalls in the enforcement budget, she licensed civilian groups to bear arms against the gangs. The CUPs handling of the present crisis has been criticized as heavy-handed and callous, but her approach has been lent credence by the manifest failures of the previous administration in the realms of public order and safety.
In contrast the Social Progressives, traditional representatives of the political left, are divided and in disarray. For over two decades they held office in San Paro, a succession of lesser men becoming mayor in the aftermath of John Derren's assassination. . In that time they pushed through a raft of new initiatives designed to take the city forward into the twenty-first century, trying to follow the policies set down by Derren.
Ultimately they failed the very people they were most trying to help. The education reforms they guided through the statute, intended to give autonomy to individual schools and empower them on a local level, have led over time to deep social divisions, as parents with money bought their children's passage into the best-run establishments, thus creating a vicious cycle of educational haves and have-nots. The same thing happened in healthcare, leaving the disenfranchised districts with inadequate provision and an emergency service that could do little more than pick up the bodies in the morning.
In the subsequent years of neglect, bureaucratic incompetence and municipal decline, the scene was set for a resurgence in support for the CUP and the phenomenon that was to be the political career of Jane Derren.
Outside conventional politics, there are powerful lobby groups at work behind the scenes, weaving byzantine webs on behalf of the major corporate players in the city and the industrial-military complex in general. The unrest drives the homeland security budgets, making destabilization a profitable activity. The shift from public service to private provision in the areas of education, health and security has played directly into the hands of the corporations, whose vultures gather about the government wagon train.
There is currently little chance of political change. Despite the turmoil and violence afflicting San Paro, Mayor Derren is still the popular choice in the city. Her hardline stance, with the promise of extra funding for law enforcement, has proved popular in the violent suburbs, and she has somehow managed to remain politically unscathed in a way that her predecessors did not. The social programs initiated by the Social Progressive Party, well-intentioned, shot through with the core values of inclusion and appeasement, have done little to stem the flow of violence. Now many citizens are in the mood to fight fire with fire, evinced by the new vigilante movements emerging under license in every district of the city.
San Paro i-Net. The city's largest ISP, and, according to various global media and entertainment conglomerates, one of the world's biggest safe havens for hacker clans, cyber-piracy and illegal fire-sharing. The conglomerates bring lawsuit after lawsuit against the company. SPiN and their lawyers just tell them where to shove it and keep them tied up for years with San Paro's byzantine legal system and generous laws concerning copyright protection. San Paroites are perversely proud of the company's ISP global bad boy status, and faithfully log on in their millions to it every day. The company's animated logo of a spinning 'i' icon is an everyday sight on computer screens throughout the city. As is the most common unofficial version of it, where the spinning letter is transformed into a defiantly-upraised revolving middle finger, offering an alternative take on the company's famous "Wanna take a spin, San Paro?" ad phrase.
Name Stages Final Stage GANGLAND ANNEXATION 4 TerritoryControl STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD 4 Bombing THE ARTISTRY OF THE SPRAYCAN 3 Graffiti NO SERVICE? NO STORE! 4 Graffiti SPARE WHEELS 4 MovingTarget CASH FOR CLUNKERS 4 TerritoryControl R. O. A. R. 3 Graffiti CONFLAGRATE TO ACCUMULATE 4 TerritoryControl THE BIG CONTE 5 TerritoryControl DOUGH FOR THE DOORMAN 5 MovingTarget IT'S A STEAL! 5 Deathmatch BLIND JUSTICE 4 Graffiti DELIVER THE LIVER 5 MovingTarget THE PRICE OF FAME 5 MovingTarget POWDER TRAIL 3 Deathmatch KLEPTOMANIA 5 TerritoryControl A BLOOD ROSE WITH A BADGE 5 TerritoryControl DO THE GAS CASH MASH 4 MovingTarget SPRAY TO PLAY 3 TerritoryControl
Level Name 10 Casamajor Car-nage (5 Joker Tickets)
Enforcers think they're all safe, tucked up in their little cars. Could you, um, prove that they're not? Just <col: Yellow>blow up three enemy vehicles</col> they don't even need to be in them just... make them go away.
Blow up <col: Yellow>3</col> enemy vehicles.