The team cruises around in Shelby Everton’s limo until Jaeger, Nabo’s head of security, comes back to from the drug paralysis. They interrogate him about the optical disc they are seeking, and find out that he never possessed it, but had set a meet to get it. They head south to Tarislar and pick up some laes to erase his memory before leaving him in a public park, not wanting to worsen their rep. Checking the matrix, word (and some footage) has already leaked about the violence backstage at the concert, and the runners are fairly identifiable to anyone who knows them. Wat starts doing some research for a cover story while Aleiron plots a long con to get the public on their side.
Grackle manages to backtrace the message Jaeger received, and ID the sender: “Zipper”. The limo takes off to go pick Shelby up, and the team heads to the site of the meet- a bar in Tacoma called The Cathode Glow. 3 Card has Grackle bring the old school simrig from the safehouse to trade for info, as they heard it was an old-school techhead joint. Arriving, they find a dwarf decker named Zipper who quickly spills the beans, as she seems to recognize them from the footage leaked from backstage. She does a very poor job of not appearing intimidated, but they do trade her the simrig to keep things somewhat friendly. Yanko tries to hit up a local dance spot while this is happening, but the bouncers seem to recognize him as well, and threaten him, so he dejectedly leaves. He is worried about what long-term effects the team’s rep is gonna have…
She points them to the supposed possessor of the disc- a bar owner in Auburn named Kerwin Loomis. He’s an ex-ganger who still lets his old crew sell drugs and BTL’s out of his bar, across the street from the dump/scrap-yard that is their main turf. They head over, but find that Kerwin has already fled (warned by Zipper? or maybe just saw them coming), so they track him across the street, into the dump, and find him cornered by another team, smaller but a bit better-equipped. They managed to get the drop on them (literally in Yanko’s case) and kill one, KO one, and injure another, before making a deal for that team to take their wounded and retreat.
Yanko manages to spot Kerwin’s hiding spot, and snatches the disc out of his hands before he can make good on his threat to break it if they come closer. 3 Card pays Kerwin a small amount of money after he gives them a sobs story about how his bar is floundering, and he was only selling the disc to keep it afloat. He claims he inherited it when his dad died some years ago, and seems to be telling the truth, which doesn’t match at all with what the Johnson told them. Perhaps worth digging a bit more… He also says he couldn’t get past the encryption and has never heard what’s on the disc, and doesn’t know of any copies. They leave him there, howling at the injustice of the world, and head off with the disc. They travel separately and buy a bug scanner to make sure the other team doesn’t follow them to the safehouse.
There, Grackle and Wat manage to break the first layer of encryption on the disc after jury-rigging a hookup from their deck to the optical reader. They find that the files contained are 7 songs, obviously the long-rumored lost JetBlack album. Yanko also recognizes the backing band as The Shadows, a less famous but still well-known group that JB palled around with. The disc says “Carrion Sessions” on it, as well as some cryptic phrase about “absent friends”, and Grackle and Wat report that they can’t get a clean copy of the music, or access all the simsense and other files on the disc, without some kind of decryption key. So the team decides to dig further.
They find that 1 of the Shadows died some years back from an OD (Kerwin’s dad?), and that the remaining 3 have kind of drifted off the public scene. At least one is thought to still be in Seattle however. They also find that “Carrion Studios” was a big deal spot back in the day, but went under in the early 2060’s, shortly before the Crash. Since then, it’s been reopened as a bargain bin practice space and studio for local acts to cut demo’s. They head over to see if any records remain. They find a surly teen dwarf manning the counter, who rolls her eyes and ignores them after brushing off their inquiries. However, an older ork janitor pokes his head out, and seems more than willing to recount the glory days.
3 Card poses as an audio nerd, and they geek out for a while with 3 Card casually steering the convo and Yanko name-dropping some different major acts that recorded here. It turns out the janitor used to be a recording engineer here before it went under, and stayed on as a janitor and property manager after. He says they are welcome to take anything they find in the old storeroom. They find massive piles of water-logged and busted equipment, and musty files/discs/chips/etc. They call Eion in to deal with a devil rat infestation, and he successfully convinces them to back off, with food, in order to avoid a fight with their demon rat leader.
After digging around for a bit, they find a box with the relevant dates, and grab that and some other stuff to conceal their true purpose a bit. They warn the janitor of the rat problem, and head out. Digging through the files, they find that there does seem to have been a secretive JetBlack session shortly before his death, and that the only listed studio personnel present was the head engineer (and owner) Delphia. Doing some digging, they find that she still lives in town, and has become a dealer of especially hardcore BTL’s, a habit which also was behind the business’ collapse. They find a locale and decide to send a few members in as buyers, hoping to get some info about who the “absent friends” might be, and finish unlocking the disc.
Meanwhile, Aleiron has launched their spin on the events of the previous night. She puts out that the team was merely there to make a drug deal, and had no metaracist motivation. She says some of the guards had a bad reaction when sampling the drugs, possibly an effect of combining them with whatever they had already taken, and that things escalated from there and they disengaged as quickly as they could. The team collectively burns through their street cred getting the story out, but it does seem to help. They also shortly receive a call from Izidor Kurtlanik, offering his assistance in spinning the story. He says that his employer is happy to back up the team’s version of events, so long as they stick to it forever, in return for not interfering with their tangential campaign to use these events to further build Nabo’s brand.
The team agrees, as Kurtlanik seems quite connected, and the “official” narrative becomes one of Nabo’s near-impossible escape from a life of crime in the Barrens, and his valiant attempts to bring his whole old crew along, and the tragedy that some of them didn’t make it, even though they were so close. Nabo makes an emotional public statement, filled with vague threats of revenge, along with promising to continue the world tour, so as not to let down the fans. He sends a bunch of money to the dead men’s families, along with visiting for some photo ops, before embarking. His sales spike as a result.
The team tracks Delphia down in Redmond, and arranges to do a favor for her- they’ll pick up a new shipment from the Yellow Lotus Triad, in exchange for the info they seek. After passing a test of etiquette, they receive the chip from the Triad, and had it back over. Delphia seems amused by whatever horror it contains, and Grackle and Wat see an opportunity, offering to sell her a serial killer’s experience, knowing they can get Kevin on board. However, they give away a little too much info for free, so she doesn’t pay them much. They decide to call the cops on Kevin instead, to curry favor with Butter’s contact there, Tommy Vermont. Later that night, they hear reports that KE SWAT got into a fatal showdown with a chainsaw-wielding serial murder suspect in Redmond, and assume they’ve done their “good deed” for the day.
With info from Delphia, the team heads downtown to meet Marli Bremerton, one of the players on the last JB sessions, who Delphia thinks may be the absent friend. They find a haunted mansion, but manage to ingratiate themselves with Marli (especially Wat), and fend off another attack from the mysterous merc hit squad. Capturing one member, they confirm that they are working for another music exec, also seeking the disc. Marli also tells them more about their own Johnson, confirming that he lied to them quite a bit about his role in the whole affair. Marli also says she’ll reach out to someone who might have the other disc, and see what she can do about helping them complete the run.
They head to a midnight meetup in a cemetery to see Marli’s contact, and at JetBlacks grave find a group of 5 goths waiting, armaments present but stowed. Eion, from an overwatch position, sees another group of 5 waiting nearby, and noticing one of them turn to mist, they surmise that there are 1 or more vampires present. Deciding not to risk a fatal fight, they agree to sell their disc to these people instead (as they claim to be working on behalf of JB’s interests), but get them to agree to ensure that the team’s rep doesn’t take a hit for backing out on their Johnson.
They get paid (extra!) and head home. The next day, a disappointed Mitch Stuck tells them they won’t be working together again after he received a somewhat panicked call from their Johnson, but news soon breaks that the johnson is handling all PR for the upcoming JB’s ‘lost album’ 30th anniversary release. This is likely to be a herculean task, but presumably the vamps didn’t want it. The team calls it draw and washes their hands of it, looking forward to a few days R’N’R and to spending that cash.