The team begins investigating the Fae Realms, which have recently become more accessible for some unknown reason (possibly to do with the unusual magical cycle of the 6th World). They hire Barnaby “Wombat” Rudd to do some digging, and also to get some of his friends to hack their datatrails and spoof their presence in other cities to throw off their assassin pursuers. They piece together what knowledge they can of what the Fae are like, how to behave there, and a few key figures who are power players in the Seelie Court. Lady Brane Deigh is possibly the most notable, as the ex-wife of Liam O’Connor and the current Queen of the Court. She also seems to be the main connective point between the civilian government of Tir na nOg and the Seelie.
Unfortunately, Deigh is thought to be allied to some degree with Jenna Ni’Fairra and other elf supremacists, which will likely mean that the Atlantean Foundation will be heavily favored in any operations taking place in TNN. So the team decides to take a riskier path to the Fae Realms: the mists of Brittany in NW France. They decide the isle of Lyonesse, though it also seems to be an access point, is too heavily guarded, and hope that with Frosty Jane using the artifacts, they can carefully determine which patches of mist they can “safely” enter to make the transit (and not just vanish as tens of thousands before them have). The Vigilia Evangelica contact Toff, and tell him that they have a request, for all of their assistance- they wish him to find and make contact with the Unseelie Court, some sort of rebel faction or shadow court about which little is known. The Catholics seem to wish to use this contact to subvert Deigh’s power. Toff agrees.
Before leaving, Gethin and Toast head south to the outskirts of Paris to a Saeder-Krupp Heavy Industries facility to get the promised interrogation of Canary. They get a lot of info from Canary, who seems to already have been sweated heavily and is under the influence of some sort of truth serum. He claims to be a member of a Cult of the Great Hunter, having apparently decided with other members that the Horrors are the only thing that can remove dragons from their current position of dominance over all other life (even at the extreme cost of a Scourge). They find out about some of the downtime hunters who slew dragons during the 5th World in their kaers, but it seems like many or even most of them were killed in the aftermath of the recent Draconic Civil War.
Unfortunately, he can’t quite confirm or deny that he killed Gethin’s parents, but basically confirms that Ni’Faira’s Songbirds acted as a deathsquad during the Tir Tairngire revolution, and that Gethin’s parents seem like exactly the sort of people they would have targeted. Gethin prompts him in a leading fashion, looking for more info, and he seems to relish playing along, helping build up Gethin’s guilt over possibly having been the person who (as a young child) accidentally betrayed her parents’ safehouse. Gethin starts slowly poisoning him to try to get more info, but SK gases the room. When Gethin and Toast wake up, they are restrained and Canary is gone. The SK man says that SK still has a use for him, so they’re going to keep him for now.
He also says that they have some further biz to discuss, and that he is glad the 2 of them came in without the rest of the team. SK, while double-checking on the team’s actions in Dubai, have discovered the duplicity around Brokerage X, and that Gethin and Toast likely acted alone in that. The man tells them that he will need certain promises, and certain deliveries made on those promises, from Gethin and Toast in order to allow this to pass without a stronger answer from the corp. He reminds them of SK’s rep int he shadows, and tells them they are lucky that SK likes the team so much, and that certain individuals in the org have been pushing for leniency.
Firstoff, they tell the 2 runners will remain members of BX, in order for SK to use their access to gain info on the shadowy org. 2nd, they will need any info on BX members and structure that the runners currently have; Toast gives up BX’s man on the ground in Dubai, as well as Mr. Bonds, which could cause problems if anyone on Jackpoint finds out about the betrayal of their rules. 3rd, SK knows the team is headed to the Fey Realms, and would like them to map and investigate any entrances/exits they can find to provide to SK, as well as to try to get a copy of the Fae census that Renraku secured a contract to undertake, and see if they can discover anything about the Jewel of Memory. Apparently dragons are not often allowed in, and Lofwyr is personally interested. And, 4th and final, the SK man instructs them to slot a datachip he passes to Gethin, which he says will upload another agent to the team’s TacNet.
Toast is furious at the demands, and unskilled at concealing it, but Gethin manages a passable bluff to get them out of there and back to the team, and figure out what to do. The SK man either believes them or chooses not to challenge them, and leads them out. He makes one stop on the way, and shows them what look to be full clones of both of them in vats. They can see other unlit vats stretching into the distance, and can only surmise that they contain clones of the rest of the team. The SK man tells the runners that SK is very invested in the team staying together and operational, and that they will take any steps necessary to ensure that this happens.
Angry and upset, they return to the team and tell them what happened. The team has various responses: Fentin and Love are extremely upset, Toff mostly wants to get going to the Fae, Speed feels they should comply with SK’s requests as the team dishonored their contract, and Chem wants to try to hold the team together and keep things from getting violent. Love burns the chip, and Fentin insists that Toast resign his Jackpoint membership, but other than that, they decide to go along with the requests, which don’t seem especially heinous. They decide to finish the chal’han together, as they are all bound to do, and then reassess if they can continue working together.
Speed flies them out to the mist, but says she will stay behind and guard Jane, as well as keep an eye on the chopper/keep it ready for an emergency pickup, not wanting to return to the Fae Realms, having been hunted from them once already. As the team exits the chopper, Toff is first out and is accosted by Gwynplaine- none of the rest of the team can sense him, though Fentin’s mark burns a bit. GP gives Toff a list of 3 names, and says that many Fae, for reasons unknown, still slumber, years into the 6th World. They are to discover these 3, sleeping in their hidey-holes, and wake 1 up, while ensuring that the other 2 never awaken. Toff, feeling helpless, agrees, and informs the team.
Frustrated and feeling cornered, they are excited to step into the mist and be transported away. They find themselves in total sensory deprivation, and manage to all independently fumble around til they find their way to a cave entrance. Love, first out, is surprised to Chessick running full tilt away from some large hunting dogs, and calls him over. They kill the dogs as the rest of the team stumbles out, distressed to notice that the cave closes off behind them. Also, the dogs’ howls have attracted more hunters, and a group of bowman as well as a massively tall man with an ornate helm and a spear descend on the team’s position.
They hold their own for a while, but are eventually all paralyzed or ko’ed, and find themselves transported roughly while drugged, eventually entering another full sensory deprivation area. They are brought forth and returned to their senses one by one, and told that they have been captured and will be held in this prison and interrogated until the Court decides what to do with them. They are told that the cells have no doors, but that if they leave outside of the instructed time, they will re-enter the senseless void, and likely never find their way back. They can speak to each other from their cells, but not see anything outside of their cramped individual quarters….