After landing in Seattle, Ehran the Scribe bids them farewell, as does Jane. They once again put the team up in a fancy hotel for a week, giving them time to rest up & recuperate. They also have plenty of time to think about what The Order of St George is asking them to do: either assault the dragon supremacist Alamais’ base, in GeMiTo, or head south and help Aztlan and Aztechnology lay a trap for Sirrurg “The Destroyer.” The Order is offering the same pay for either job, though participation is apparently mandatory. After some research into the Entropy power that Sirrurg has been using to kill tens of thousands of metahumans at a time, and after remembering that Azt. may be pissed at them for stealing the sextant from them, and after realizing that Azt. now has the sextant back (Lodestone having witnessed some blood spirits stealing it from the Watergate bunker after the rift explosion), and also hearing that Sirrurg is also pursuing the sextant to possibly enhance his entropy power, the team decides to go to GeMiTo. Saul calls Mir Cossint, his Saeder-Krupp contact, and she approves this course of action. She says she can’t tell him much, but that she will try to pull some strings and get them a relatively safe assignment there, as she claims to have some contacts in the assault planning group. So, it seems like more factions than just the Order are involved.
Lodestone says he can’t go on this run, and has to take care of something, and leaves. This disturbs TY, who has been getting progressively more paranoid about his & LS’ relationship, ever since LS killed Zuberi. However, noone stops him, and attempts to contact any of his known SINS or get ahold of him through Jackpoint get “message undeliverable” replies. Rooster requests that he be given access to JP in LS’ place, and Jane agrees, as the team seems to be caught up in some major events fairly frequently and JP could use their perspectives. Plus, she trusts Rooster well enough at this point. TY also tells her about the Order, and their dragon-killing and lair-raiding past. She is shocked, and somewhat appalled, although she (as usual) seems a bit more sympathetic to TY in particular, as he was being manipulated by outside forces (and LS, in this case). She helps TY make a plan to fake his own death during the assault on the GeMiTo compound, to try and get free of the Order once and for all. Rooster is left to make his own plans, having particapted of his own free will, seemingly.
They hear some news about the DC cleanup. The UCAS Thaumaturgical Corp is claiming responsibility for closing the rift after Ghostwalker’s “irresponsible” ritual. Public figures for casualties are around 600 dead in the fighting beforehand and the damage from the explosion itself, and more than 350 still missing, some of whom are thought to have been sucked through the rift while it was de-stabilizing. As some commentators point out, these numbers only reflect dead SINners, with the SINless probably doubling the total. Apparently both AZT and SK have been heavily involved in the cleanup, having been assigned the contracts by Chief Justice Hino (who the team knows to be an AI construct, controlled by Evo Corporation).
SemPar, meanwhile, has been obsessing over the Wuxing Quints, especially Tou, the most mysterious one. She has never been seen uncovered, and rumors abound as to why that is. Saul refuses to give any artifact info to the Doctor Faustus Society by their deadline, and is presumably now wanted by Interpol: looks like he’s a fulltime shadowrunner now! They also catch some interesting news items. Hestaby gives a UN address, breaking the closed draconic ranks and demanding that Sirrurg be declared a war criminal, as well as calling for human concessions and greater inter-species cooperation. She also askes that Sirrurg and his followers be captured alive if possible, and vows to help imprison him if needed, so long as dragons are involved in his tribunal. She says that breaking ranks like this will cost her in influence amongst her kind. For her trouble, there is shortly thereafter an attack on her Mt. Shasta compound, seemingly a diversion during which the leader of the Shasta Shamans is assassinated, using a German-made sniper rifle. Rumors fly that Lofwyr is either involved or being framed. The UN follows H’s advice, and declares Sirrurg a war criminal, though Azt. has vowed to kill him on their own, claiming to have developed potent anti-dragon tech.
In response, Hestaby flies to Dubai and completely disassembles the SK Mideast HQ building there, having given the staff time to evacuate, and using spirits to haul out the security personnel who try to remain onsite. This bloodless demonstration of power seems pretty clear in its intent, though Lofwyr does not respond in any known way, although SK corp policy changes to require staff to stay onsite during such events in the future, effectively telling Hestaby she won’t be able to avoid casualties if she wants to try this again. The team also hears reports on shadownets of proxy wars in Asia between Triads and Yakuza associated with the great dragons Lung and Ryumyo, as well as raids on SK and NeoNET assets and facilities by anti-dragon groups, including St George, Sons of Siegfried, and Roland’s Sword. Alamais has apparently also been hiring runners to hit SK execs, which Saul gets some info on- family always fights hardest, indeed. Rumors on JP and other sites are floating around that suggest that these orders are often used as proxies in squabbles between dragons- a discomforting thought.
TY also notices a series of posts not assigned to any user that occasionally appear on JP- there’s a lot of internal specualtion as to who (or what) is behind them, but they don’t seem malicious or duplicitous, and occasionally quite helpful. Meanwhile, LS ditches all his SINs (and his JP membership), and heads to Montreal, to link up with his family: a cousin was recently killed for trafficking dragon reagents. LS attends the funeral, passes off Baelor to a young relative, and uses Ehran’s special fund to purchase a fancy new SIN and head to Karavan. He gives the Order of SG a bunch of info on the events at the Watergate Bunker (and about the artifacts) in order to avoid the 2 dragonslaying missions.
Hestaby gives an interview, this one somewhat rambling and much more self-serving seeming than the UN address. She trashes both Alamais, which is notable as being the first corp media mention of the GeMiTo crisis, and Lofwyr, less surprisingly. Shortly after, reports of a large ritual at Mt. Shasta and its sudden dispersal coincide with a large explosion (visible from sat feeds) at Alamais’ compound. It does any unknwon amount of damage, but the surviving dragons descend on GeMiTo and give it the worst day it has seen yet: over 3000 dead and significant portions of the city destroyed. This seems to be an untargeted revenge attack, as they aren’t even eating most of those they kill.
The team gears up for the Alamais assault, and heads to a staging area 60k south of GeMiTo. While they are waiting in the camp there for the rest of the assault force to arrive, they hear a rumor that disturbs TY and SP greatly: GOD is developing (and preparing to roll out) new matrix protocols, which hackers on JP are calling “unhackable”, at least using current tech. FastJack and some others also received (and posted) challenges by GOD to attempt to hack some nodes using the new protocols, with the promise that they would not be punished it caught doing so. FJ attempted it, failed, was tracked down by LoneStar, and then just let go. He reports that he is developing a new style of “cyberdeck” that he thinks will be capable of interacting with these new protocols, but that it will be a real cobbled-together affair at first. The members of JP (which leans heavily towards technomancers and hackers) is pretty distressed, for obvius reasons, but a few members are stoked to be calling themselves “deckers” again.
After the last of the merc’s trickle in, a man calling himself Scale gives everyone (roughly 1000 assembled, with large merc groups sporting tanks, planes, choppers, and mobile command vehicles, spellslingers, and smaller runner teams included) a common TacNet frequency to subscribe to for battle updates, and distributes safe target software that he says is required. Shortly thereafter, the dragons (including 2 greats) arrive- after some initial panic, it is revealed these are ally dragons (to the team’s surprise: what have they gotten into?). Lofwyr himself arrives last, to their surprise, and the mood in the camp is pretty tense. The dragons confer and then Scale passes on orders: everyone is forbidden from taking any souvenirs or any recordings of dead or dying dragons, punishable by death. Some mercs balk and leave but most stay. The column advances. The team is riding in an APC towards the rear: they are 1 of 3 teams assigend to enter the compound and secure certain targets inside once the main force breaches the walls. As such, they will be brough to an FOB/safehouse to wait until the path in is clear, conserving their strength. The column comes under attack during the journey, but they are too far back to catch any action, and reach the safehouse intact.
They wait for the better part of the day as the battle rages some kilometers distant, until a guide shows up to bring them to the front, saying the mercs have finally reached to wall and started rigging breaching charges. He introduces himself as Castiron, and after some mockery from the team about his neotenic appearance, he says that he would prefer no jokes. He fills them in on the battle so far: GeMiTo- Here Be Dragons, and they all load up and head out on foot.