The team heads to Vladivostok to begin their investigation. Atlas tells them that he has briefed a local contact with the intel they need, who should also have some useful gear and skills. She is using the name Jane Counterpoint. They arrive & meet up with JC, who tells them that Atlas can’t be directly connected, as they are getting involved in internal Evo Corporation power stuggles, and his boss wants their part to be kept secret for now. They are to infiltrate an Evo subsid, Presnya Financial Services, and run a program on the server there. Based on the info gained, there may be more work afterwards. Should be a low intensity job though.
They scout the place, and it seems like fairly standard security for a money management firm- tight but not first-class, and certainly beatable. JC secures an exit on the roof, while TY and Ortega wait in a hired car a few blocks away with assault weapons in case things go south. CI distracts the door guards (as well as setting off the door alarms) providing SP with the time to sneak in in their chameleon suit. They infiltrate up to the 2nd floor, stealing and copying keycards on the way. They manage to access the mainframe (which is more secure than they expected based on the physical sec), and sneak past the patrolling spider while running the program. Sadly, they are too distracted covering their tracks to also break the encryption on the program and see what its doing. It finishes running before SP alerts the host to their presence, and they sneak out to the 3rd floor, link up with JC, grapple down, and get picked up by TY and Ortega in the car. CI travels separately to avoid suspicion.
Atlas gets in touch after they send in the data, and tells them that there will be more work in town, as this seems to be only th tip of the iceberg.
They also have seen some news reports that the situation in Denver has been getting totally out of control- increased crime and mayhem as Aztechnology makes their move to get their slice back (as the “Law and Order” faction) during Ghostwalker’s extended absence. Rumors on Jackpoint abound that Jane has been sited there, in the company of an older elf (perhaps Ehran the Scribe), as well as a painted elf apparently being involved somehow.
The 2nd stage of the job finds them tracking down the woman who filed the papers of incorporation for a vending company that Presnya is funneling money too, which is an obvious front. After working through an elaborate ruse involving a 2nd woman of the same name and a false residence, they manage to track the real Vinetta Crosby to an office downtown. JC sneaks in, disguised as maintenance personnel, but fails to con the savvy Crosby and is tased into unconsciousness. Before their new friend can be hauled off by security, TY calls up Crosby (while SP skulks though her files), and arranges to come pick up JC and pay for some info, as Crosby seems not willing to die to protect it.
It seems that an Evo department head was using Presnya and the vending service to launder money out of Evo projects to add funding to her pet project: the Dickens Program. Doing some research, and discussing this with Atlas, reveals that this program is dedicated to invesitgating E-ghosts, a long rumored matrix phenomena, widely thought to be a hoax. However, Atlas tells them that they are very much real (at least since the 2nd Matrix crash, he’s not sure about the rumors preceding that), and that the Dickens program has resulted in some of them being decompiled- a permanent death for those living a solely e-life. He tells them that this is what Nikolai Morozov, his boss, needed to move against his rivals in Evo, and thanks them for their service.
He also tells them that if they wish to make a bit more money, they can go on a kind of virtual bounty hunt, tracking down and warning e-ghosts about the threat that the Dickens Program, and certain Evo factions, may present. They will be paid per signature confirming delivery of the warning. Using SYD’s knowledge, they manage to track down a half dozen e-ghosts living in a tribe in a bizaare, concealed code-cavern. They have had to relocate from their usual digs due to the new matrix protocols, but SemPar easily tracks them down- the team sees a nerdy, eager side to SP that they had not before witnessed. TY is weirded out and stays quiet, and it’s all too much for Ortega, who opts to pray in a corner in the Hamburg hideout, fearing the depths of the matrix almost as much as the bizaare slaughter plane.
SP bonds with the e-ghost tribe, lead by an entity called The Captain. JC manages to offend him, and is focibly ejected, impressing SP even further. They warn the tribe of the troubles, and TY is disturbed by the way in which they e-ghosts seem to view themselves as having transcended humanity, becoming something both different and better, as he is struggling to hold onto his last shred of humanity so hard. The Captain tells them that, through friends on Jackpoint , he has put in a good word for them, and that they should expect some work soon. SP couldn’t be happier, and they return to Hamburg to lay low and rest up.
JC re-introduces herself as Lafeyette, and asks if she can lay low in the hideout for a while, having recently been forced to flee the UCAS due to a bad courier run. TY and CI receive a long alphamumeric code in a private message from Jackpoint admins, and when CI shows Lafeyette, it unlocks a message in her data safe, which turns out to be a GPS coordinate. TY determines that it is a spot out in the middle of nowhere in the ocean, but after digging deeper finds that it is where a large, Texas-sized, floating trash island will be in 2 days time. They start arranging transport, and gearing up to go find out what this is all about.