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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.