Earlier today, in Mars City:
Rolf is called in for a meeting with Sylvain, who supplies him with his latest batch of DiKoted arrows, as well as a new job to do, for the benefit of Ares, of course. Sylvain wants Rolf to head out to the sticks, Heliopolis specifically. A friend of Sylvain’s in the corp is working on setting up a deal there, and needs some info on the local terrain, political, religious, and otherwise. Essentially, they need a source on the inside to help Ares get an appropriately good deal. Sylvain tells Rolf to try out Thutmose, at the Hathor temple, first, as he is apparently a major player. If he doesn’t bite, the next best bet is Kal-El at the Thoth temple, whose values seem a little more aligned. Obviously, Rolf will bot be operating in an official Ares capacity, but he’s thrilled to be fighting the good fight again. He heads out the back way, as usual.
After taking cheap (and lengthy) public transit to Heliopolis, Rolf gets directions to the Hathor temple and arranges to meet with Thutmose. He talks about the quality of Ares handguns with Kano at the Red Delta. Rolf’s bodysuit is scrolling Ares ads and promos, and he stands out like a sore thumb amidst the dust and drab of Heliopolis, as well as the grandeur and solemnity of the temple. He ascends to Thutmose’s office, and makes a pitch. Thutmose doesn’t seem interested, especially given that Rolf just walked in waving an Ares banner (essentially), so how would it look for Thutmose to team up with Ares on a deal now? He mocks Rolf’s lack of the subtle approach, and says if this is the beat Ares can send, he is not impressed. Rolf is careful to mention that he is not officially representing Ares, but Thutmose waves off the distinction and ushers him out.
Rolf gets directions to the Thoth temples, and heads over, but gets a bit turned about on the way, and ends up approaching up an alley. Once near the prayer entrance, he hears a thin alarm coming from inside, and sees the large stone door begin to grind shut. He slips inside, as it slams closed behind him. Hearing gunfire from a room down the hall, he sneaks that way, entering the lobby to find a ko’d guard behind a desk. He pauses, and listens….
The team, having finished off the guards, checks out the hall and nearby rooms. K watches the staircases in the hall at the far end from where they entered. Ivan thinks he hears something in the lobby, and tells the rest of the team over wireless. Tobias also notices a quiet swishing sound, but doesn’t receive the wireless confirmation, as the team doesn’t trust him enough yet to share their signal with him. Tobias covers the lobby from the doorway, while HCB dashes across to try to see what he sees, or draw fire to reveal the sound’s origin. He doesn’t get anything. Ut takes up a position on the other side of the door from Tobias, and scans the room with his periscope.
Meanwhile, Rolf, seeing movement, has used his gecko tape gear to scale the wall and perch atop the info kiosk in the corner, where he is blending in with the wall and taking aim with his composite bow, with a narcoject arrow knocked.
HCB decides to move into the room and see what’s going on, and does so. He is convinced that he saw the ko’d guard move out of the corner of his eye, but Tobias and Ut are eventually able to convince him otherwise. Ut then spots the bow (which is not camo-ed) in the corner, and directs the team’s attention there. HCB opens fire on the shadowy shape there, failing to connect and hitting the kiosk instead. Rolf returns fire with the naroject, piercing HCB’s armor and ko-ing him with the drug. UB! decides to blow through the wall of the break room to get around back, and lobs in a high-ex grenade. Ivan backs him up, while K continues watching the stairways and back hall door. Rolf, once noticed, switches back to his Ares ad mode, and has another arrow knocked and ready.
After verifying that the explosions from UB!’s position are intentional, Tobias and Ut shout at Rolf to come down and surrender before they open fire. Ut makes a mad dash for HCB, and rolls him into cover behind the desk. Rolf descends and lowers his bow, but keeps it at the ready. Tobias comes out with his gun still up, aiming at Rolf’s head. Rolf thinks he recognizes Tobias from somewhere, and figures he has seen him around Ares at some point, although he is pretty sure he doesn’t work there. they strike up a conversation, which Ivan finds highly suspicious (as this stranger just shot HCB), but Tobias keeps his gun up. Ut attempts to revive HCB, and fails.
Tobias, after finding out that this is a fellow Ares hanger-on, still orders him to drop his weapon, and suggests to the rest of the team that they should just ko him. Rolf, taking offense, whips his bow up, in response to which Tobias blasts him in the face with a narrow burst. Rolf seems to avoid some of the damage, due to his quality Ares armor and his fancy footwork, and responds by loosing his arrow at Tobias. Fortunately for Tobias, Ut was prepared, and dives in front of him, snatching the arrow and stabbing Rolf in the side with it, under his raised arm. Finding a weak point in the armor, he pushes the arrow home, releasing the narcoject into Rolf’s system. He sits down heavily, barely holding onto consciousness, and mutters that all he wanted was to talk to Kal-El.
With some help, Ut finally revives HCB, who wakes up and asks who shot him. When Tobias points out Rolph, HCB shoots him in the chest, ko-ing him. The team then discusses what to do. Meanwhile, UB! and Ivan have blown thru the wall into the prayer room, and admire the hieroglyph friezes briefly before coming to the lobby. Eventually, Ivan and Tobias hear a tinny voice from somewhere back in the temple shouting about wishing to negotiate. Ut puts some shock-cuffs on Rolf, and HCB and UT haul him to the back with the rest of the team. K stays invisible and levitating.
They see a small vid-screen revealed behind a fake section of wall next to one of the staircases. There is another priest-robed man looking out at them from it. Tobias begins speaking to him, while the rest of the team figures out how they might convince Thutmose that they found proof of OP involvement, to get the bonus pay. The priest tells them that Kal-El has authorized him to offer them an increase on whatever they are being paid in order to reveal who is causing the attack, and lay off. The priest also reveals that they have sealed off the lower level and are preparing to fill it with gas if the team doesn’t cooperate. Tobias doesn’t seem impressed (he has internal air tanks) but the rest of the team puts on gas masks where available. UB! tries to blow open the stone side door, but it seems difficult. Tobias refuses to reveal their employer, but the priest correctly guesses Thutmose, and says they didn’t expect him to move so soon. Tobias says that Thutmose’s grievance is their involvement with OP, which the priest vociferously denies, as Thoth is known as a pro-technology temple and faction. Tobias asks for data to prove it, which the priest provides. It seems legit, and implies that Thutmose has been funding OP as a kind of bogeyman in order to consolidate power his power by saving the town from them. the team feels betrayed, and Ivan and HCB especially want to go after Thutmose, as they loath OP.
They begin discussing terms. The priest says they have a cloned head of Kal-El to give to Thutmose as proof of the mission’s completion, and that Kal-El wishes Thutmose to be killed instead, although the rest of the Hathor temple can remain as is. Thutmose and Kal-El apparently used to work together, but have parted ways. tobias asks how much they will pay, and the priest asks how much Thutmose was paying. Tobias says 30,000 at the same time that UB! gives the correct figure of 20,000. The priest offers 25,000, which the team accepts (they’ve already gotten 5,000 from Thutmose, and hope to get the other 5-15,000 before killing him). The priest rolls the head down the stairs, and UB! packs it with plastique that he took off of Rolf. They awaken Rolf, and he explains what he was doing there. They don’t entirely trust him, but K can sense that he’s not overtly hostile, and Rolf makes the good point that HCB fired first. He also admires UB!’s Ares Antioch. They decide to let him help, as the priest promises he will allow a meeting with Kal-El if the mission succeeds.
They plan to present the head, plus a bag of severed hands from the guards they killed, to Thutmose, get the money, leave the office, and then detonate the head from the hallway, taking out any guards they need to to escape. They set off some smoke grenades and start some fires before exiting the temple, to make it look appropriately damaged to anyone Thutmose has watching. They head out. Ut stays behind to make sure the Thoth priests don’t try to sneak off without paying. The team heads to the temple, K staying invisible, and managing not to get noticed by anymore crocodile headed guards on the way. K tries to astrally scout the upper levels of the temple, but there is a mana barrier in place. They enter thru the bar, and order some drinks, while calling up to Thutmose and asking to ascend. Tobias bluffs that they have proof of OP involvement. Thut sends a guard, and Tobias, HCB, and UB! go up with the head and hands, while Rolf, K, and Ivan remain in the bar. After they head up, Kano winks at K (invisible) with his cybereye, and surreptiously gestures him down. Ivan notices, but plays it cool. K descends behind the bar, and Kano (seemingly wary of surveillance, cleans glasses while whispering that K might want to go up too, as Thutmose is a powerful wizard, and is likely planning a double cross. Kano seems to be Kal-El’s inside man.
K heads out of th bar for the elevator, and calls it back down, without alerting the guard down the hall, who seems to be keeping an eye of the prostitution rooms, looking out for bad johns. He waits. Meanwhile, upstairs, the team emerges into the hallway leading to Thutmose’s office, and see 2 guards in the hall, as before. The guard who brought them up also remains, as the elevator heads back down. They enter the office, where Thut waits with a 4th guard. All the guards are wearing ceremonial armor similar to R-H’s, but none are his size, or quite as impressive. They present the head to Thut, who examines it and whispers something about his “old friend.”, and set sit back on the desk. They discuss payment, and since they don’t actually have proof of OP involvement, the team settles for the additional 5,000, and exits the office. UB! is raring to go, but decides to hold off until they are a bit down the hall. The elevator (now containing K) reascends, at which the guards get suspicious and tell the team to stand back. One guard waits to the side of the door. Just as the elevator arrives, UB! triggers the bomb. It goes off in a huge explosion, sending the office door tearing thru the hall into the now open elevator. K is a bit surprised. The team members in the bar hear a muffled blast, and deduce that it is going down. After some discussion, they decide to head for the elevator as well.
Upstairs, after the shock of the blast wears off, a bloody and tattered guard emerges from the smoking wreckage of the office, and croaks “kill them!” before collapsing. The other guards attempt to make good on this final request. They are all using halberds, and go for a brute force attack. Tobias and HCB fire on the guards nearest them, while UB! whips out his cyberhand blade and closes in on the 3rd. K floats invisibly over one of the guards (whom HCB shot) and sends a ko spell thru his hand into the guards body. He collapses. HCB takes some serious halberd damage from the second guard, and is blasted into unconsciousness by a bolt of lightning that emerges from the office. He summons up all his strength and dives into the elevator as he collapses. The guards are now brawling with Tobias and UB! separately, and seem to have the advantage. K tries to lend a hand, but finds himself distracted by an astral attack. He enters astral space to respond, and finds a powerful looking Ibis-headed form in glowing armor attacking him with a staff. He defends as best he can, but takes serious damage, and fails to attack successfully himself.
Tobias, feeling the need to turn the tide, wall jumps (using his cyber-legs) right up over the guard in front of him, trying to get to the farside of the guard UB! is fighting. He underjumps a little, and all 3 crash to the ground. Meanwhile, downstairs, Rolf gets a booster injection from Kano, to shake off his stunned feeling. Then, Ivan and Rolf scan the hall, and see the one guard. Rolf takes a shot, but feels compelled to do a trick shot instead of a killing blow, and splits one of the ears of the jackal headed helmet. Ivan, unimpressed and more distrustful, leans out and puts two shots from the Roomsweeper into the guard’s head, ending his life. They head for the elevator, and press the button. It descends again, now carrying HCB. Upstairs, UB! gets up first, and swipes with his blade, but fails to connect. Th guard ko’s him with a halberd blow, but is so distracted that Tobias is then easily able to dispatch him with a narrow burst to the back. K, sensing that his astral combat is lacking, decides to hugely overcast a fireball, and does so, suffering serious internal damage in the process. But, it pays off-the spell seems to blast right thru the other form’s armor, melting it’s astral flesh and sending it’s form floating away, dissipating as it fades from view.
The only remaining guard ko’s Tobias with a halberd blow from behind, and then turns on K, who is collapsed on the ground (and visible) after the draining effects of that final spell. The ascending elevator reaches the top, with both Ivan and Rolf readying their weapons. The door slides open, and Ivan sees the halberd swinging right for him, and quickly fires straight into the guards revealed face (he lost his jackal mask in the tussle). The back of his head blows out, and the halberd slices into the side of the elevator door, hanging there as the guard’s corpse drops. They set about reviving the team members as best they can, and call on the Thoth temple for aid, as Rolf heads back downstairs to try to get more drugs from Kano. Thoth priests eventually arrive, thankfully, as the team has managed to stabilize, but not heal most members. Ivan negotiates for a 2000 nuyen reduction in pay to heal everyone up fully (using a combo of tech and magic). Kal-El asks wirelessly for visual on Thut’s corpse, and Ivan enters the office and films his comatose and slightly smoking form. Kal-El tells Ivan to leave Thut alive, as this will be a more fitting form for him. Ivan notices that the office was completely shredded in the explosion except for a perfect sphere of undamaged space centered on Thut. Ivan pokes around, and finds an ankh necklace on the body, plus some scraps of paper (how archaic!) that look like bills related to the OP. The team gets paid, and Rolf gets his meeting with Kal-El, who seems possibly interested in Ares’ offer, which he passes along to Sylvain.
The team then scrambles out of Heliopolis, ready to get back to the city. Ivan is especially thrilled to get back in his car, although the thought of the bomb recently removed from under his seat still gives him pause. He decides to investigate further once they get back. HCB goes looking for a rooftop watertower (or equivalent) he can rent out somewhere in the undercity as a new hideout, and gets one on a month to month lease. Ut departs, to make for his own hidy-hole. Ivan drops everyone off, and then calls Daedelus, looking for info on the Turing Army. Daedelus provides what little info he has, and says he would be interested in retaining the team’s services to discover more. They arrange for Daedelus to give Ivan an advance in the form of some necessary programs to get Ivan started as a hacker, and Ivan’s spends the time while Daedelus pulls these together driving his cab, to make a little bonus money. He puts in an order with Ango for two small drones, and Ango gets him a good deal, although it costs the last of his money. He also spends some time upgrading his deck, and catching up on the latest hacking advances and techniques.
He gets back in touch with Daedelus, and gains access to a datastore from which he downloads the programs. They also discuss the mystery of his car bomb, and Ivan decides that he will investigate that first. Daedelus reminds Ivan that he is owed a favor now, and Ivan assures him that he will repay him. He heads out to the area of the garage where he had stored the car to do some meat recon before he goes in matrix. He sends one of his new mirco-drones to scout the garage, and finds the security camera inside has been destroyed. He hacks the node, and finds vid of a non-descript masked person entering the garage and blasting the camera. So that doesn’t get him much. Scanning the surrounding area, he sees a small cornerstore to one side of the alley which the garage is off of. He walks inside and scans for nodes. Finding the camera, he marks it for later. He then sets his car to auto-drive around the city while he hacks. He sets the skin to look like a cheaper version of his car, with a cheap trid screen on the side scrolling ads.
He breaks thru into the camera after some initial trouble, and finds some vid of one of the mysterious cars (which had been seen seemingly surveilling the team after the bank heist) parked out front of the store. Eventually, two persons leave the car, and head towards the alley entrance (which the camera doesn’t pick up) carrying a package. A short time after, they return without it. This is all the useful info he can get, as it seems the store recycles their camera storage space every few weeks, and this is right at the outside edge. He passes this info on to th rest of the team, and then decides to hide out for a while, working on his hacking technique, and try to get ahold of Wade, to see what’s up on the gang front.