Ro receives a message from Renraku that an female elf “Johnson” will be in touch, and she should make sure the team obeys her wishes. Misunderstanding which elf they mean, Ro sells some info to Corinna about the work they’ve been doing with Samantha Roth, as well as what they’ve been up to in Chicago. She is then contacted by Ms. Johnson, a female elf, and the team decides not to sell more info til they know what’s going on.
The J wants them to gain entry to Valley Rose Pharma, a company with a private lab near the Cermak crater. She needs a server retrieved for proof of ownership. She agrees to provide a hazard bonus and iodine pills. They do some research and confirm that VRP was recently bought by Renraku, and Ro confirms that the J’s bodyguards are from the corp. Since they have no current beef with Renraku, they accept.
They are then contacted by a female ork, who wants to buy whatever is on the server, to prevent the first J from getting her hands on it. She says it is some sort of research data from a powerful toxic shaman who lives in the building, who might be a surviving scientist from the blast. He also has a gang of glowpunks who provide security and experimental subjects. She tells them to talk to Lothan The Wise for more info, and warns them that the first J is not telling them everything.
They head to The Wisest Troll, Lothan’s shop in the CZ. Sid Gambetti calls and says that he sent a face, new in town, to the bar to meet them, as he feels their team needs some help in that realm. They arrive, and Aemon is put off by Lothan’s know-it-all demeanor, so he heads outside and meets Tonie Dick, the face, who introduces himself as Carlos Danger. He seems to have a lot of brand new B&E gear, but his clothes are rumpled and worn.
Meanwhile, Lothan fills the team in on the glowpunks and The Founder, the scientist turned toxie. He is an old enemy, so Lothan is happy to see them take him on. Goober also offers to buy an meditech they recover at the lab. They rent rooms for the night and head out the next morning. They hit a gang ambush, but make short work of half of the gangers before they flee. Tonie holds his own. They reach the lab, and kill a lookout that TY miraculously spots. However, this alerts everyone else.
They get in a raging gunfight with the gang, while the leader snipes them from concealment, with the aid of a mage and spirit. They eventually defeat them, and manage to kill the mage and sniper as they attempt to flee. They find a medidrone for Goober. They pause to reload, and descend to the basement. The Founder warns them to abandon their quest and leave, but they ignore him, and blow up the barrier he has at the base of the stair. He repeatedly toxic waves them, doing incredible damage. Tonie and the lynx flee to the top of the stairs.
Ro and TY hold the stairs, while Aemon and Ortega fan out to trap the Founder. They manage to kill his spirit, and he retreats further into the acrid, pitch black basement. Aemon chases him into what seem like a deadend, but he ducks through a small crack, but Ortega manages to cut him off (literally!) with his combat axe. He is sprayed with acid for his trouble, which greatly damages his armor. They find the desired server node and extract it. Ro pays Quantum Princess to decrypt the files once they have it safely back to Goober’s shop, while he repairs all their acid-damaged gear.
It turns out the The Founder was researching a FAB-III vaccine before the walls went up, and continued his experiments (as well as trying to recreate the conditions that turned him into a toxic mage) afterwards. He has years of notes, and was apparently responsible for the death or madness of a large number of unwilling ‘subjects’ brought to him by the glowpunks, including some of the gangers themselves. There are also ownership records for the building.
TY, hating unwilling experimentation, argues with Ro about what to do with the data: he doesn’t want one corp to have control of the vaccine (if it ever even works), as they could then ‘safely’ crush all other awakened life, potentially. So he releases the notes on Jackpoint, stirring up some controversy and conversation on the board. Ro is frustrated, but not quick enough to stop him, and delivers the server with all the data aboard to the J, Sarah Silverleaf. Tonie talks her into paying extra for the info that someone else made a bid for it, and they describe the female ork. Meawhile, TY calls the ork, Maggie Goldberg, who is disappointed that the data didn’t get destroyed, but glad that it’s at least somewhat public, so that its misuse can be countered as needed.
They also return the focus that Lothan lose years ago in a duel with the Founder. He offers future talismongering in trade. They rest up, and agree to fly to NYC to check out a job offered by Corinna. They are somewhat wary, as TY has been reading up on Nadja Daviar conspiracy theories, but the pay seems good, and they get a free flight (with gear) out of Chicago. Silverleaf texts Ro that she is “disappointed” with her, probably for decrypting and sharing the data. Tonie and Silverleaf, having hit it off, decide to spend some time together, but he offers his services to the team in the future, as he has heard someone has been asking around for him….