You are still Jaden, because the Narrator feels you haven't been given a chance to really shine yet, and hopes to rectify that in this chapter.
In the two weeks that pass you learn Clayton is in the same boat as you, figuratively speaking, as neither of you has ever been on a boat. Maybe a better metaphor would be you both have the same cat in the bag? No, you think to yourself, that's just silly. In any case, he can't raise his major skill group either, so he reads mission reports and pokes around the NPC-PS database for clues while a wizard works on imbuing his favorite gun with the reload spell, costing him his card 31. With nothing much else to do, you join him, but neither of you has the research skill, so rolling untrained you actually hinder his investigation, getting a total of a six. Whoops. Maybe you should have spent some of that XP after all? Being a martial artist hasn't done much for you thus far, perhaps it's time to start broadening your skill set.
In any case, when you are called in for your next mission Clayton has nothing good to report about anyone wanting to abduct people, nor has your mystery assailant tried again. It's a pity really, if he had rolled higher he might have realized the article he skimmed over about a PC being found dead several weeks ago was relevant. But he didn't. And so he proceeds with the rest of the party, in ignorance. Rose has picked up the Armor of Magic spell, and Jake was true to his word, raising his skill group from a 1 to a 3 in that time.
"Your next mission will take you to Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic half, to the east," says Draughon. "There's a human trafficking ring we want you to find and break up. It's been active since a few months ago, and it's been keeping one step ahead of the local authorities, or it's possible they just don't care, either way the local police asked us for some help. Here's your plane tickets for the journey there, I assume you'll just use Teleportal to return, so we didn't book you passage back, if that's okay.
"That's fine," says Rose.
"You'll leave tomorrow, here's everything we know about the situation." He hands out a thin packet of papers, and takes his leave.
You all look over the packet, Rose is of course amusing herself with creation magic, coming up with various imagined objects that seem to be more artwork then functional. There isn't a lot of information here, unfortunately, just that the group seems to be recently formed, and has been doing some abducting of people in the area. It wouldn't have been noticed, but apparently the daughter of a wealthy individual had been missing for several days, which is when the local authorities got their first notion that something bigger was going on. That of course drove the group deeper underground, again figuratively, they are not mole-men, and thus harder to catch.
You are to meet up with the local law enforcement and see where that leads you, using your various abilities as PCs to crack the case. You hope you can crack something other then the case this time, like a head or two. It isn't that you're hopelessly violent or anything like that, just that you have a certain skill set and want to utilize it. That's all.
In the morning you have another boring flight, and arrive at Bonao, near the middle of the island. Technically the plane landed in Santo Domingo, then your group rent a car and drove to Bonao, which takes about an hour. You head into the local police station, and ask for the man you are supposed to contact. You show your badge to the person at the desk, and he buzzes you in.
"Oh, thank you for coming down so quickly!" says a portly man in a uniform, rising from his chair to meet you. He introduces himself as Rafael José, and leads you further into the station, down into the holding cell area.
"There's a man you should speak to we're holding here," says Rafael.
"You caught someone related to this case?" asks Clayton excitedly.
"No, no, is nothing like that. This is a homeless man who demanded our protection. He says two people he knows have gone missing from the streets, so he wants to stay here until this whole thing blows over."
"And why are we talking to him?"
"He says he watched someone being adducted with his own eyes!"
"Wait," you say. "A homeless person? How can that be? Isn't he average, like everyone else? Certainly he should be able to get a job somewhere."
"I guess you've lived a rather sheltered life, no offense," says Rafael, shaking his head. "You don't realize what it's like being an NPC."
You must reasonably admit that to being true. Your parents are wealthy, and you went to the best schools and were rather sheltered because of it.
"It all comes down to weaknesses," says Jake, sadly. "What does he have, destitute?"
The cop looks away. "I would not presume to look at another man's character sheet sir, not even a man like this. But if I had to guess, then perhaps that is the case. He could also have a high point value Enemy, or perhaps a large Indebted weakness he's trying to run away from. It is sort of random the backgrounds and weaknesses we get, after all, even being average, some people can deal with what they get better then others."
"That's stupid!" says Rose, standing up on your shoulder so she can stomp her tiny foot, in that cute little way you like. "It's up to the Narrator to determine an NPCs weaknesses, just don't give those out."
"But then we might not have gotten this information," says Clayton.
"Wait, you're going to say that this poor guy deserves to live on the street his whole life, just because our adventure needed someone to talk with to get it rolling? That can't be fair."
"Why is it fair we got to be PCs and he didn't?" asks Jake.
She stiffens. "Well we worked harder, or something, right?" She looks at each of us in turn, but no one has an answer for her.
"I am just a detective," says Rafael, spreading his hands, "I think you want to talk to a priest."
"No, I want to give the Narrator a piece of my mind, is what I want to do."
"Please, not here, I don't want the station to be swallowed by an earthquake or something the moment you leave because you've made the Narrator angry. Just talk to this man and go, all right?"
"Now see what you did?" you whisper to Rose.
"It's just not fair."
"I don't know what to tell you, sorry."
We come to a man wearing tattered clothes, laying on the bench in an open cell.
"Hey Enrique, the people are here to see you."
He slowly sits up. "You're going to give me something for my information, right?"
You notice Clayton's hands twitching like he wants to draw his guns.
"What would you like?" he says, tightly.
"I don't know, what can you offer?"
"How about some new clothes?" asks Rose, wrinkling her nose.
He considers it. "Okay."
Rose zips around him, getting a feel for his dimensions, and starts casting a spell. Meanwhile, Clayton is questioning him.
"Well, it was nighttime," the man begins, "A few days ago. A buddy of mine and me were sitting in an alley when up drives this white van. Two fellows jump out and grab him. Now, the thing that saved me was that it was my turn to go dumpster diving, so I kinda smelled a little bad. They ran over to grab me too, but then decided against it. They hopped back in the van and took off."
Clayton looks over at Jake, who shakes his head. "I got a seven on my ESP check," he whispers, "So I have no clue if he's being truthful. Sorry."
"Guess we'll have to check it out ourselves. Can you at least tell us what alley it was?"
"Nah, I'm illiterate, I don't know what street I was on."
"Oh great," says Clayton. "This has just been really helpful."
"There's one other thing I can try, if you'll allow me?" Jake asks the man, reaching for him.
"I'm not very good at this, it's what I was raising these past two week, so..." he trails off. "At least it was less then a week ago," Jake says, getting an eleven on his Postcognition check. He concentrates for a while, then turns back to us.
"Okay, I've got it. I can take us there, for all the good it'll do us."
"What do you mean?"
"Unless Rose has picked up or knows some Divination spells," he pauses, and Rose shakes her head, not interrupting the magic she's doing. "I don't know Seeing, which again wouldn't be that useful anyway, 'okay I see they have a red clock on the wall'" he intones. "Yeah, so what? ESP won't help, I've got nothing."
"Well we've got a place to start, and that's something. You know anything else?" he demands of the man, who shakes his head.
We wait for Rose, who has finished creating a shirt with her Creation magic, and suddenly a pair of pants appears out of nowhere, both seamless and plain, but tough looking.
"Let's go," she says.
"Thanks," says the man.
You all head back upstairs.
"Sorry he wasn't more help," says Rafael. "I figured it was something like this, but he wouldn't tell me, of course. Oh well, he's not getting in trouble on the street when he's in here. If there's anything the department can do to help, let me know."
"I'll need a map of the area, he glanced at a street sign, and I saw a restaurant nearby, so I should at least be able to figure out where that white truck was. Too bad it was too dark for him to see the license plate number."
He pulls up a map and uses the street view to find the alley the man was talking about. "I don't suppose you know about what time this was?" Rafael asks Jake.
"He doesn't have a watch, and he didn't look at any clocks. That restaurant though, it closed after dark, it isn't a Big Chain Restaurant that's open 24 hours. So it might have been maybe two hours after it closed? Why?"
"Traffic cameras," answers Rafael. "If we can catch a glimpse of that van we might be able to see where it went, or where it was going. I'll get some people on it if you want to wait."
"See," you say to Clayton. "Maybe it wasn't a waste of time coming here."
"We'll see," he grumbles.
"This can't be right," says Rafael, typing madly away on the screen. "Someone's been tampering with the system."
"What's wrong?" asks Clayton.
"They're gone. All the footage from that night and in that area has somehow been wiped out. We're going to have to do a security audit, we've obviously been breached!"
"Do you mind if I go have a look around?" Clayton asks, pointing to his data port.
"Be my guest, I have to go notify our cyber security devision. I knew we should have paid for a PC to program our firewalls, rather then just someone average."
He storms off, and Clayton plugs a cable from Rafael's computer into his head, and sits down, going slack.