Fennec’s brake manoeuvre doesn’t work as well as he planned, with the two motorbike riders attacking them swerving out of the way at the last moment. Meanwhile, in the NET, Gunhead faces combat with an ASP black-ice program. The program attacks and is able to de-rez a program from Gunhead’s cyberdeck. In return, Gunhead launches an attack with his sword program. Rama fires a round off from his assault rifle, landing a hit against one of the motorbikes. Similarly, VC takes a shot with his combat shotgun, landing a hit against the bike. In retaliation, the motorbike riders shoot a barrage of shots from their pistols towards Fennec’s car. Fennec makes a vehicle check and rams into both motorbikes, causing them to crash, fading into the distance as Fennec continues driving forward.
A short time later, a heavily armoured car approaching from the rear speeds up to catch up with Fennec. The car moves in quickly and lands a barrage of assault rifle rounds onto the car. Sputtering, Fennec’s car is not in good shape. VC decides to throw a flash bang grenade as a diversion tactic, which explodes just in front of the armoured car and appears to stun the driver. With the car almost dead, they pull the car off to the side of the highway and assess the damage. From what the crew can tell, the armoured car continues forward, with the driver stunned and unable to see them stop.
VC and Fennec look into the damage to the car, and figure they can implement some patchwork quick-fixes to get it into a state fit enough to drive again. After a little while, with the car somewhat repaired, they decide to take some back roads to get the rest of the way to Stateline. A few hours later, they arrive in the small border-town, nestled with numerous courier, shipping and fuel companies that maintain a base of operations. Fennec connects into the local CitiNET and is able to contact a member of his nomad clan to get assistance with additional repairs on the car. He gets a reply from a member who will reach him in a few hours. The crew decide to head into a local diner to wait around and prepare to meet Evan Briggs at noon. Entering into the diner, they get some food and get familiar with the bartender, Smokin’ Jack, who informs that Evan has become a regular over the past few days and should come in a bit later on. Gunhead tries to get familiar with a busy man having breakfast, who doesn’t want to speak with him.
A few hours later, Fennec’s nomad family member Nathan arrives with equipment and catches up with Fennec. He agrees to help patch up the car a bit further to help them get the rest of the way to Bakersfield. Inside the bar, Evan Briggs enters and greets the crew who have been waiting in the diner. He invites them into a back room of the diner, and they all sit down. Evan explains that he is working with the Southern Californian government to hire reclamation teams to work on restoring Bakersfield into a functional, safe city again. In its current state, the city itself has been abandoned, with only a few people still living in the city. The biggest threat to the future prosperity of the city is a group of gangers based out of a suburb that used to be called Oildale. These gangers have been found to acquiring and fixing up old pre-CHOOH2 vehicles that still use diesel and petrol as a fuel source and being overtly hostile to residents and travellers on the nearby roads. Evan wants more information on the gangers, as well as their help with a number of projects his team has at the moment. He asks them to speak with the leader of his forward operating team, Juliet Lonsdale, who has set up in the old Bakersfield University campus.
They part ways with Evan, and Fennec thanks Nathan for working on the car. From the information they gathered, they decide to head off and loop south down the I-5 and head into Bakersfield from the southern roads, instead of the northern roads where the Oildale gangers may be located. Hours later, they arrive to what appears to be the main University campus grounds, that is fortified with fences and floodlights. They approach an entrance gate and security guards who question them. After a quick radio call, they are allowed to enter and are gestured towards the History Department where Juliet Lonsdale has set up office.
Entering into the department building, they introduce themselves to Juliet who enquires into their specialities. For each of them, Juliet recommends they speak with a member of her team that could use their help. This includes:
- Daniel Simmons, a medical student trying to set up the medical training lab in the University.
- Oliver Kranz, who needs assistance with coordinating a nomad trade network to bring supplies into the city on a regular basis.
- Son Ji Won, an engineer working to establish a reliable power source to power the team’s projects at the University.
- Kave, a NET engineer hired to help establish and maintain a viable citiNET for Bakersfield.
- Richard Thwatt, the group’s security specalist focused on keeping an eye on the Oildale gangers.
After being briefed, the team head downstairs to meet with their respective counterparts and get to work.