Butch, when contacted by Toff, is excited about the research possibilities of Ortega’s dual HMHVV and CFD infection. She agrees to cover the costs of a “managed” infection with HMHVV, in a secure clinic, hopefully driving the CFD out or at least into hiding. Ort heads in to the friendly clinic (local blacksite doctors, as London is an outbreak site, are not unfamiliar with CFD), and they remove his bioware, in preperation for the inevitable essence loss from the transition. They manage to save all his cyber, but tell him he will have to be on intense immuno-suppressants for the remainder of his life to keep it working. Butch agrees to cover the cost of these for now, so long as Ort regularly reports in with data.
A week later, after some harrowing fevers, losing all his hair, an extending of the jaw, a hardening of the skin, and the sharpening and lengthening of his teeth and claws, he emerges as a functional ghoul. The sun now hurts him, and he is not sure at what point in the week he stopped eating “normal” food and was weaned onto flesh, but he now has a mighty hunger for it. The rest of the team is a bit disturbed by all of this, especially as he has become fully cyberpsychotic at this point as well. They are unsure they could prevent him from eating them if he really wanted to. Ro is off doing some work for Renraku Computer Systems, to help make up for them losing the rail contract.
They also hear that the Helling estate has been gutted by a major fire, and that James Helling, and many members of his staff and family are believed to have perished. Chessick does some digging, and eventually gets ahold of Baxton Gresh, who is in a safehouse on his way to Asamando, with the other sentient ghouls from the estate (or at least the ones who made it out). He says that late the day of the vote, a hit squad came out, and that they only barely made it out. It seems like the fire was a cover-up after the fact, probably to keep news of the infected aristocrat from leaking out. Gresh rails against the hypocrist, and Chessick eats it up, and writes up a fittingly acidic story, which he plans to publish through the All-Seeing Eye.
Luckily, they get another job offer from Artholomew Johnson to distract them. He has them meet him at Wembley Stadium, and tells them he needs them to retrieve a courier of his who was ambushed and has gone to ground. They agree, and notice a woman eyeing Chessick and Aemon. Chessick, used to the attention, pays her no mind as she seems a bit tipsy. Aemon, a desperate 19-year old, flirts pretty hard and givers her his number. They head out.
They first check the courier, Jon Jackie Jones’, safehouse. It’s been tossed and there signs of forced entry but no sings of murder or assault. They check some favorite haunts of his, and find some odd scenes of violence: he is apparently well known in all the places, often using different nicknames, but when he showed up today, he was acting strange. In one instance, he walked in and gunned down 6 corp drones in a faux-dangerous bar, traumatizing the other patrons. Then he made his way to a street sam hangout where he used to hire muscle, and talking like a medieval knight, assaulted some patrons with a club. Then he went to a fancy bar, but when approached by a friendly employee, responded in Japanese, kneed him, and ran off.
While checking the bars, they are approached by a man calling himself Nigel Patterson who offers to buy Jones’ from them at a lower rate than Johnson, but hints that he can get them restricted gear through government contacts as well. He tells them that Jones is couriering a nanotech package that could spell doom for London and perhaps the human race, if it is not contained within 5 hours. He seems very desperate, but they do some digging, and Aemon hears from Fianchetto that Patterson is a disgraced MI-5 officer who got drummed out and has been looking for a big score to work his way back in. They tell him no, and he says that this isn’t the last they’ve seem of him!
Based on info in the dossier they have on the courier, and on his apparent sim-addicition and experimental hyper-real simrig, they think he may have been infected with CFD or something similar, causing him to manifest different sim personalities. They call Sem-par, who confirms that the 3 behaviors and styles of dress described fit three popular sim roles. They are approached at the final bar by a woman who they had previously seen healing patrons in the sam bar. She says she is an old friend of Jones’, and introduces herself as Agatha Hawthorne. She says that she has checked them out and that she thinks they are the best chance of brining Jones in alive and well. She offers to help, but says she needs a few hours to prepare.
While dining in her place, The Rose and Thistle, Aemon gets a call from the woman from the stadium, who asks him to meet her outside. Expecting a hookup, he is surprised to find her all business, and also wanting to buy Jones out from under Johnson. However, she also offers significantly more money than either of the other parties. She also confirms Nigel’s story, with significantly more detail. Aemon gets ahold of Fianchetto again, and he speculates that this may be Monica St. Cloud, a mysterious assets retrieval specialist that he’s run across on occasion. She’s very non-specifically corporate, and no-one seems to know who she actually works for. However, she seems to like to hire locals to do the actual heavy lifting, and is thought to stick by her word, though she also likes to leave a tidy scene with no loose ends. They also decline her offer, choosing to stay pro, but worrying that she may come back at them later. They assume she is working for whatever corp the nano was stolen from originally, but who knows.
Hawthorne reappears, seemingly in some sort of semi-lucid trance, and leads them a few blocks away to a small building where she has a ritual circle and a variety of reagents. She has them each stand at the points of a pentagram, with her cat familiar at the 5th. The cat doesn’t much like Ort. Hawthornes re-emerges, skin covered in mystical runes, and dances about the center of the circle, using some blood from a cue ball from the sam bar to try to locate Jones. As the ritual concludes, she goes rigid, collapses to the floor, and tells the team that they are headed to Lambeth: Jones is at a location in the Squeeze. The team calls up Ro, feeling they could use another gun, but they’ll have to be quick about gearing up, and they only have a few short hours until the timeline that Monica and Nigel gave them is up….
Ro calls in some Renraku favors, and gets the team some SMG’s and a combat axe, then they head. Hawthorne gives them a contact in the Squeeze, a dwarf cabbie named Hobbes. They bribe their way in, meet up with him. He gives them the lowdown, while driving them to the school where Jones appears to unconscious and surrounded by suspicious auras. The area is the turf of the NNW, a “protection” gang. The team exits the cab a few blocks away, to close on foot, and plan to send Aemon and Chessick up to negotiate if possible.
Toff astrally and magically scouts, and sees that Jones is tied to a chair, looking like he was beat unconscious. There are about 2 dozen gang members on the property, in the school or patrolling around with flashlights and hunting rifles. Chessick makes his approach, and they manage to buy Jones off of the very leery gangers for a tidy sum. The gangers seem to think he’s a a spy, and Chessick and Aemon have to think fast to get them to hand him over. They exit the lot, when a Roadmaster comes racing up. 8 goons jump out, as the NNW members holler about a trap and fall back into cover. The team comes under fire, further confusing the NNW, and return fire in turn. Ro, examining the APC, notices it looks a bit beat-up, and has some painted over military stencils, and speculates this is Nigel’s “revenge.”
Aemon is able to dodge an impressive number of shots, and brings down the APC turret as well as 2 goons, as Ortega charges up from the other side with Ro providing suppressive fire. However, a chopper suddenly clears the adjacent roofs and opens fire on Ro and Ortega. 4 military types on ziplines descend, cutting down a few more APC goons, as well as ko-ing Aemon. Chessick tries to protect Jones, who keeps switching personalities, while also trying to hack the chopper. With some spirit and spell harassment from Toff, they force the chopper to pull back out of LOS, as the APC also flees with the remaining discouraged goons aboard.
The team fights a hard battle, with Toff painfully slowly making his way near enough to help. The new threat (perhaps St. Cloud’s?) destroys Toff’s spirit, but won’t target Chessick (too close to Jones!). They drop Ortega, finally, and heavily injure Ro, before Toff is able to scatter them with a massive stunball. They fall back, and the team races back to Hobbes’ cab, wanting to clear the scene before any reinforcements arrive. They ditch their weapons to get through the checkpoint, paying a steep bribe, and calling Art for a pickup. He sends a medi-limo for Jones, and tells them “good job.” They heal up as much as they can, though Toff further wounds Ortega in the attempt, unused to his new ghoul anatomy, and sends him to the hospital.
While there, Ro and Aemon decide to implant a cranial bomb, set to run silent, with a short nonsense phrase trigger that only they know. Just in case he gets out of control… Butch covers the surgical costs, hoping this will help ensure their continued data reportage. Toff offers the destroyed spirit some reagents as an apology, not wanting to get a bad rep. Everyone else heals up in a few days, and gets paid, with promises of future jobs also in the works. Art also tells them that the stolen nano wasn’t actually a threat, just new tech. They believe him, but then they believed the others before too.
Ortega, needing to eat and unsure how to proceed, calls up the Exchange and asks for a hookup. They text him an address and a time, but he is unable to find it out a map. Chessick figures out it’s a simple cipher, and the meet (and the meat ha) should be at an old graveyard, buried off a disused section of the tube system. He codes a map, and Ortega descends into the less savory corners of the Underground. He reaches the graveyard, after successfully spooking anyone who attempted to approach. He can hear what sounds like a river running nearby, and know the place must be old by the large amount of Catholic grave markers present.
A cloaked, hooded figure emerges from the murk and greets him with “you’re late.” Ortega apologizes, and explains his needs (25 lbs of metahuman meat per week, due to his huge size), and the figure offers an absurd rate. Ortega tries to counter, and though socially inept, the figure agrees to a lower amount. He gives Ortega a small package as a “token” and says the first week’s delivery can arrive that very night if he provides an address. He gives them Chessick’s flat number, where the team is laying low, and rips open the package, finding a human hand and a blood-red commlink within. He devours the flesh from the hand, and returns to the flat.
A large suitcase is delivered a few hours later, waking everyone up in the middle of the night, and Chessick warns Ortega that this is absolutely not acceptable to do again. Ortega chows down on the limb sections inside, rationalizing that they couldn’t possibly be children, right? He checks the commlink after it chirps, and it welcomes him to Tamanous’ home delivery network. Chessick knocks together a piece for the All-Seeing Eye about the situation in the Squeeze, using some quotes from people he talked to there. They hear from Art that he has another job, and get ready to roll.