After the mid-air kidnapping/massacre, the runners are chilling in Wheels’ bar when they get a call from Sully. Not only has he found them a way into Boston, it’s a paying job. He picks them up in the Gold Whale so they can leave their van at Wheels’. Chem heads back to Chicago with his van, and no-one is sure where Munty got off to. Toff donates his pay for the job to Aemon’s Kids, to further cement ties to the Children of the Dragon, and also because he feels awful about all the people they just killed on that plane.
They make some calls, and Aemon and Ro post requests for work and info on Jackpoint. As with their infiltration of the ACHE, they receive a lot of interested responses. They get a bunch of intel, some useful names and contacts, and a variety of offers for pay for various tasks. Ro also contacts Hiro Katakura who hires them to look into the Harborguide AI system’s security, and make sure no-one is attempting to unshackle it or cause other trouble, as they could have a real problem on their hands. Ro agrees, and they head out with Sully to meet the Johnson for the Boston job.
He turns out to be some sort of European Ares exec who is looking for a team to locate and retrieve his kidnapped son, Aiden Wagner. He had a previous team on the job, who tracked the kidnappers to Boston around the time the QZ went up, but he lost contact when they grids went down. Fearing the worst, he’s hiring another team to get in there and get his kid out. He’s paying a day rate plus a finder’s fee on completion. He gives them a contact with Knight Errant in Boston who he arranged to act as his proxy before the GOD matrix barricade went up.
Meanwhile, Toast and Senk have joined up with their contacts in the Ancients in order to survive in the rapidly destabilizing QZ. The Ancients received an ARES supply drop that had some supplies for them, as well as pay for a job: securing a team of runners from another incoming supply drop, and providing some guides for that team. Lucky Liam assigns Toast and Senk to do the job, and gives them a slice of the pay.
The Johnson gets the team loaded into bodybags to sedate and stabilize them for shipping. They wake up when they enter free-fall, in the magical permafog above Boston. Chessick manages to hack control of the drop pods navsoft, and start swinging them towards the beacon that Toast is broadcasting. Sadly, the supply pod has attracted some others: a Bane-Sidhe war rig comes racing down the street. They blast the chute with their autocannon, sending the pod tumbling. Luckily Toff pops the door open and levitates everyone safely out.
They descend through the air and Aemon manages to snipe the BS gunner: first kill in the CUES! They make landfall and let BS have the pod, as they don’y need it. However, the gunfire attracts a large herd of infected locals, which Toast and Senk refer to as “shamblers.” Aemon and Ro try to gun some down but they seem to possibly be regenerating? Senk drops a few frag grenades in their midst, and Toff flamethrows, which seems to put the mob down for the time being. They flee, and link up with Lucky Liam.
He provides some further updates and intel, as well as a safe place to stash excess gear for the time being, on the promise that the team will run any Mafia jobs by him before doing them, in order to not mess up an alliance he has in the works. They agree, and he puts out some feelers looking for their kidnapped kid. They rest up for the day and take stock, as well as hiring on Senk and Toast, and Liam comes back with some intel by the evening. He gives them some names of people to ask around with, but tells them to stay away from the Morelli mafia fam, as they dislike elves, due to their rivalry with the elf-lead O’Rilley’s.
They track down the Hellriders first, and Ro agrees to partake in their initiation ritual in exchange for the info. She crashes a loaner bike into a young prospect, after deciding not to scare him off the road. They fly through the air past each other, and she mostly escapes injury. Impressed, Wyatt offers not only the info but the go-gang’s assistance in distracting the NeoNET security at the facility where he believes the boy is. They check in with The Roxxx next, and Aemon loves their whole thing: classic street gang, synth and chrome and everything. They buy some drugs off an underaged pusher, and head inside, securing a meeting with Blackrock.
The gang’s leader seems a bit more canny than the regular members, and seems like a dwarf of ambition. He hints at their connections with the O’Rilley’s and seems to think of the Roxxx as kind of a farm league for the mafiosos. He confirms the info the HR’s provided, and says that he would love to send a small raiding party along to smash and grab whatever they can at the lab facility. The team agrees, and says they’ll set a time after some recon. They find the facility no problem, but run into a few problems: the NN complex backs up on I-93, the southern edge of the QZ in this area. The southern half of the complex looks to be abandoned, at least in the open, due to drone fire and spirit assaults from the cordon wall. Also, the woods surrounding the facility are crawling with agitated shamblers as well as a small pack of NN biodrones and/or paracritters.
After avoiding entanglements, and quietly taking down 1 paracritter, they flee the area with some good intel. They’ve identified the specific building they think the kid is in, after ruling out the various subsid-labelled labs and storage areas. They coord with the gangs, and plan to assault right after noon, the time they briefly detected a signal coming out of the facility. Otherwise it seemed to be locked down wirelessly, or jamming heavily. Using a car bomb as an entry point for the Roxxx (and a massive distraction for security) and having the Hellriders ride the nearby roads to try to pull shamblers away, the team manages to reach the facility without attracting attention. They cut through the elecetrified fence (already breached by the Roxxx), and get into the nearby living area, to use internal skyways to get to the labs. They have a few close calls with some staff, but manage to ko everyone quietly.
Senk, using Aemon’s fancy B&E gear, gets them through the security doors, and they drop a few more guards and lab techs, before heading for the nearby emergency stairs that Toff spotted with magic. They find the experimental subjects on the 1st floor, after Toff reads some minds to find out where they are, but are distressed that there are 7 instead of just the 1 kid. Ro, disliking experiments like this one, and Toff, being compassionate in general, start figuring out who/what is in the tanks, and figuring out how to remove them. The rest set traps to hold off guards, while Toast disarms and ties up the guards they fought here.
They plan to free 6 out of 7, finding that one is crawling with nanites. Toff confirms that they seem to be technomancers also. Ro finds a cowering researcher, who helps them free the subjects in exchange for helping her and subject 7 escape- however, she seems to think they already have an arrangement along those lines, which no-one on the team remembers making. Subject 3 says he is almost there and “needs a minute”, but seems to complete whatever he is about quickly. Subject 6, being the healthiest (the advantage of having a relationship with one of the techs), manages to get the elevator working as subject 4 in some sort of feral rage, races off towards the stairs, slowing down the sec forces there further. They finally get everyone else in the elevator just as the sec squad races into the room. They dash out the 2nd floor skyway, the way they came in, and are distressed to see that a large number of shamblers are tearing around the campus, seemingly having gained access through one or both breaches.
They also spot some corpses and destroyed air vehicles in the southern half of campus who seem to have been cut down by the cordon guns: if even corp facilities are targeted, is anyone safe? They manage to flee the way they came, gunning down the shamblers (ragers?) they see on the way without getting grabbed, though they lose a civilian they picked up on the way. They hear some of them mumbling something that sounds like “warn…. cerberus….” Once they breach the fence perimeter, they get wireless back on and flee through the woods. Subject 3 thanks them for the rescue and dashes off in a different direction. They fight off another of the para-cats, which seems to have perhaps become infected also. Toff blasts Ro with a pulse to avoid her catching it too, but fries some of her gear. They receive a message from someone named Nathan Proudfoot, who seems to be subject 3, telling them he has another car waiting for them ahead.
They split up, with Aiden, the ARES kid they are rescuing, driving the new car (which pulls up, parks and opens doors absent Proudfoot), stuffed with people, and the other half of the team making for the team’s car. They make good their escape, and reach the Ancients safehouse at KRB. They contact DJ McCarthy and arrange to drop off the kid, who seems a bit chagrined to have been rescued instead of escaping on his own. He’s very pro-ARES, and loyal to the corp, though he also seems to have a good heart. They drop him off, get paid (most of the way at least) and DJ begrudgingly gives them a contact with a local fixer Smedley Pembrenton III, as they seem to want more money and work. He also asks them to look in on a family member who last he heard was holding the line at Fenway.
They also bring all the remaining techno’s and the tech to a safehouse provided by Viktor Markwart, who offers them sanctuary and instruction. They tell VM about Proudfoot and Aiden as well. He tells them there is useful info and work to be done around town, and they arrange to collaborate on figuring out what is going on. They decide to check in with the fixer next and see what’s cooking. Luckily, Smedley seems to take a shine to all of them, and even provides Chessick with a street name: “Black Sheep”, due to his role in his family, and the fact that the other Black Sheep running in Boston isn’t using the name anymore, as of about 1 week ago. Smedley wants them to raid the Sox trophy room at Fenway, which luckily will also allow them to check on DJ’s cousin, Sarah McCarthy.
Smedley says this a test run to see how the team works together, so he knows what kind of stuff to feed them.
Ro and Toff, who stayed on the southside to work on some stuff, also meet up with the face A.J., who seems to have been imprisoned at the NN facility they raided, having been the leader of the other runner team that the tech was expecting. He used their attack as a cover to escape, and thanks them. They give him some money to get back on his feet (he’s wearing an inside out labcoat currently), and try to figure out why NN left him alive. He tells them that they were maybe just operating on “old Boston” logic- they could have turned him into an asset or made him a company man, the way things might’ve gone before the QZ. Or maybe they thought he knew a way out. Regardless, his team got scattered when he got scooped up on recon for the job that they completed, so he’s gonna go track them down. AJ seems solid, so they agree to stay in touch, after Toff confirms he’s not infected (probably), and he says he will forward them some useful datafiles he’s been compiling and augmenting after inheriting them from their original owner. He is also helping to map all the Catacombs entrances, and offers to give them access to that project if they contribute.
They head over to the stadium, and sneakily approach. They are distressed to discover that not only has the cordon fallen completely, but the stadium is overrun by shamblers, who have amassed a large corpse pile that they are feeding off of in turns. More distressingly, they seem to be erecting some sort of antenna in the center of the field, using girders and damaged pieces from the stadium itself. It looks as if a large number are also directly connected to it in some way. Horrified, they decide to call this one in to someone high up, after they get out. The manage to sneak up to the trophy room undetected, but find a group of survivors holed up inside under siege from a group of shamblers.
They kill (or at least incapacitate) the shamblers, and free the survivors: Sarah, a DocWagon dwarf named Musa Matevosian and his injured colleague, a reporter named Allison Sanborn, and a young girl named Jane. They notice some bodies in the corner, and Toff tells the team he’ll carefully assense everyone for infection after they escape. They enlist the survivors’ help in grabbing trophies, and hightail it out of there, after realizing they’ve been made. They manage to avoid any serious entanglements, and arrange to meet DJ and pass off the rescued individuals.
Sarah seems pissed that the UCAS FBI has taken over the investigation into what went on, and her and Allison show the team footage of the military and feds pulling back from the Fenway cordon, leaving KE to get overrun. Sarah vows to continue digging, feds or no, and thanks the team, as does DJ, begrudgingly. Allison asks to stick with them, as they seem like they’ll lead to some good stories. Musa and his colleague take off with the McCarthy’s, but he gives the team his comm in case they need medical. jane seems to have bonded to Chessick a bit, and she also wants to stick with them. Toff starts telling her about his religion on the way over, but kind of terrifies her with his description of a ghostly dragon god watching everything. Ro contacts Zoh Rothberg to warn her of the Fenway antenna, and she says she will confirm and respond. She seems a bit haughty but has the most beautiful voice Ro has ever heard. Ro also leaves a message with Erika Knowles, the Boston OSI head, to offer the team for work.
They reach Smedley’s, and sell him the gear. Disturbingly, Jane turns out to be a technomancer, which she reveals when she mindfries a small surveillance drone that someone snuck into Smedley’s secure area. He says he thinks it is probably The Dragonslayers, a gang from across the harbor that has been creeping onto his turf and causing trouble, as well as kidnapping locals. He asks them if they want to leave Jane in his care, promising to see to her training and watch her back, and they agree after some debate if she should go to Markwart instead. She prefers Smedley, as it seems likely she’ll see the team more here.
The team also plans to use Jane’s grandfathers’ house as a potential safehouse, assuming it is actually empty, as it is in a nice ‘hood. Allison is hitting on Senk quite a bit, who doesn’t know how to respond, and ignoring Aemon hitting on her/trying to impress her. They leave Allison and Jane in the Leather District after stocking up on armaments at Legit’s Weapons near the LD entrance to the Catacombs. Having been warned repeatedly not to run afoul of Mama’s Boys, they stay out of trouble while on their turf.
They link back up with the Ancients, and rig up their car as a full-on battlewagon, with a turret gun, armor plating, a cowcatcher, and expanded interior space. They accept Smedley’s next job: to look into the Dragonslayers and teach them a lesson. Ro insists on riding her chopper, even though she could fit in the car. They pay tolls to the Mama’s Boys to use the big dig tunnel across the harbor, and emerge in Iron Wolves turf. Toff feels a sensation while underground, and confirms that there is a dragon leyline, which they seem to have crossed. They notice a pack of chromed riders following them, and Ro rolls out to meet the leader after he demands a “test of strength”. They tie one arm together, and begin fighting. Ro gets first blood, before being injured herself. This seems to satisfy the pack, as the leader gives her a hard sniff and then releases her, and the CW’s ride off. Ro is thrilled.
They reach DS territory, and assense a large crowd gathered nearby. Heading there, they round a corner and find about 20 gangers outside of a pretty trashed-looking bar. Toast sneaks onto some nearby roofs but the rest of the team is easily spotted, given their conveyance. They pull up out front and Chessick steps out to try his social magic. The DS’ers are having none of it, and one of them tries to stab him. Luckily he dodges, and the DS’ers don’t seem to really be prepared for a throwdown with runners, as they make short work of them, killing or ko’ing a bit over half before the others flee. They grab 3 of the ko’ed, and Toff mind probes them while they race away, fearing heavier reinforcements.
They find out that the DS’ers boss is a newish member named Luna, who seems to have used some mind control to ascend the ranks, and also discourage talking about her. She is a vaguely Mesoamerican-appearing human. Her HQ seems to be an abandoned Stuffer Shack near the hospital, as this is where the kidnapping victims are brought. However, none of the gangers know what happens next, or seem to want to: they all seem a bit scared of Luna. The team reports to Smedley, and he pays them a bit for what they’ve uncovered, and spurs them to keep digging. They decide they might as well track down Luna while they’re already in the area, so they head back to DS turf, where Ro and Chessick plan to do a series of distracting drive-by’s while Toff, Senk, and Aemon sneak up to the target building.
Meanwhile, Toast has slipped off to do some investigation of his own. He noticed that some of the elves amidst the DS-er’s they threw down with had some old-school IRA tat’s that looked alot like O’Connor’s pre-TRC force insignia. Needing to know more, he followed some of the injured and fleeing members back to another safehouse, where he found that some of the DS LT’s are, indeed, terrorists wanted by Tir na nOg. However, they seem to have been pushed aside or demoted a bit under Luna’s leadership. They have an old-school IRA style, and remind Toast of some of O’Connor’s loyalists from the 40’s. He decides to keep digging before acting, and scouts out an escape route for the team.
The drive-by’s go fine, initially hitting some smaller targets before the HQ. However, the HQ guards prove to be better armed and manage to shoot out the engine block on the battlewagon. Chessick lays down suppressive fire, forcing them into cover, as Ro tries to strategize. The back team almost gets spotted a few times, and finds a watcher spirit following them, which Toff easily destroys. Disturbingly, it seems to have been summoned by a blood mage, so they prepare for trouble. They enter the rear of the HQ with a crowbar just as Ro comes under attack by a massive manifested blood spirit inside the car.
After an extensive gunfight with a few regular gangers and a few elite guards in back, the team heads out front to try to help Ro and Chessick. Toff goes astral from the back alley to attack the spirit on 2 fronts, and summons a guardian spirit to assist. Luckily, this assault prevents the spirt from draining much of Ro’s essence, though she looks a bit pallid and aged when she emerges from under its spell. Toff deals a mighty blow, but is ko’ed himself, only saved from death when his guardian spirit (who he has been plying with reagents, and who seems to view this as a worthy fight) sacrifices itself to save him from the mortal blow. The spirt manifests and sends Aemon fleeing in terror. Senk manages to destroy it with a well-placed series of grenades however. The team links back up and starts working on healing, before realizing they left Toff out back.
They race around the rear to find Luna and 2 more elite guards absconding with Toff’s limp form. After an epic firefight, and much damage to all involved, they manage to fell them all and secure Toff (Aemon is almost crushed cathing his falling form as Luna was midair with Toff’s body when she died). They heal Toff up real quick, and he manages to probe Luna’s brain before she fully dies, further injuring himself in the process. But they get the name of her boss: Cruzado. This is who she has been delivering the kidnapped people to. So they have the lead they need. They quickly investigate the SS interior, and finding nothing especially valuable or suspicious (it seems Luna was trying to keep her blood magic on the dl, and had merely been using her mind control spells her, as well as temporarily storing the kidnapped people), they flee back towards the Leather District, in a car that it turns out Jane is remote-controlling under Smedley’s instruction.
As they pass through the DS/Iron Wolves border, they see they Wolves have already started tagging over some DS stuff and claiming turf, and hear a distant howl. Ro howl’s back, surprisingly convincingly! They pay the tolls to the Mama’s Boys, feel the brief zazz of the Dragon Leyline again, and safely reach the Leather District, though it appears the District has come under attack while they’ve been away. Once they heal up a bit and are all conscious, Smedley tells them the tale: apparently around the time that the team attacked the HQ, a group of ragers burst out of a previously unmarked Catacombs entrance under a shack in the district, and started wreaking havoc. Luckily a good amount of citizens have been getting a bit of training from Buster’s Militia, and the resident runners and spellcasters managed to hold them off. Toff goes to investigate a bit, and confirms that all the attacker’s bodies in the burn pile are infested with nanites, and also that many of the kidnap victims seems to be amongst their number.
There is also a large group of mages enacting some sort of ritual to seal up the Catacombs entrance, as there are apparently quite a few more ragers still inside. Smedley says the Mama’s Boys have claimed that this underground area is not part of the Catacombs proper, and thus not their direct concern/responsibility, id’ing it as The Labyrinth, a series of tunnels, chambers, caves, etc under the Boston Commons. Smedley lets them rest up in his safehouse and hang with Jane a bit while he digs into Cruzado. He has info within a day, but they aren’t ready to roll for a few. Many members of the team are approached by a kind of creepy dwarf named Bozeman, always accompanied by a few small drones, who wants to hire them for some wetwork jobs. Toast has worked with him before, and they tell him they’ll be in touch if interested. He says it’s a good time to be in the biz as a lot of folks are using the QZ as an excuse to settle scores and clean house.
Aemon is also approached by a strangely familiar man that he doesn’t recognize, who introduces himself as Thankyou, and seems disappointed that Aemon is a bit creeped out. He repeatedly dodges the question of why he is in a different body now, and mostly wants to gets updated on the team and talk about the Gilgamesh Initiative job he wants to hire them for. He says he came here in person since comms haven’t been getting in and out, and thought it would be good to have eyes on for the job at hand. Aemon tries to avoid letting TY touch him, and says he’ll be in touch, but returns to the team thoroughly disturbed. They debate a bit about what to do, but don’t come to any firm conclusions other than maintaining a physical distance.
Finally all healed after a few days, they head to the Stuffer Shack that Cruzado seems to manage, in Backbay, near the water. They find it gutted and burned, with a charred corpse pile inside. Assensing it, Toff gets both some bad new vibes, and some bad longterm vibes. Scouting around, Chessick finds some pleasure-craft in the nearby marina, 1 of which has an intact security cam on it. He gets some footage, and they see a group of heavily armored corpsec types roll up and systematically execute everyone in the place, before torching it. The one exception is Cruzado, who Toff recognizes from Luna’s mind, who they bind and bring out front just as a handsome man on a fancy motorcycle pulls up. He says something to Cruzado before signalling the guard. The guard double-taps Cruzado, and the man speeds off as the corpsec finishes the burn prep. They save the video and have to pull Ro away from the boats to go investigate the wreckage.
Digging through, they find a secret basement area, which looks to be old smuggling tunnels, maybe from prohibition days or earlier, cut into the bedrock and emerging from a false sewer grate onto the river. The facility is completely flooded now, but they find a bit of info amidst the ruins- it seems like some kind of self-destruct sequence was activated, likely by Cruzado or the corpsec, which Ro has ID’ed as Aztechnology based on arms and armor. Toff, levitating about to stay just above the slightly shimmering water in the cramped tunnels, finds 4 corpses: all kidnap victims, they seems to have been stored here after Luna delivered them, and drowned when the self-destruct was activated. He also finds some containment chambers, now broken, and some canisters labelled Project Vulcan that look to fit perfectly in an injection port on the side of the chambers. He assumes this is where the nanites in the water came from, and likely why all the kidnap victims seems to have become infected, though how/why they ended up in the Labyrinth is a mystery.
They return to Smedley with this info, get paid, and plan their next job. Lucky Liam calls with some urgent work for the O’Rilley Mafia that the Ancients are in charge of seeing done. Erika Knowles, with the OSI, calls Ro back and tells them their is a job investigating some sort of Atlantean Foundation ghost ship that slipped into the harbor just ahead of the cordon going up, but which no one has heard from and no one has gotten off of. Zoh Rosenberg calls, and Ro once again loses herself in the beauty of her voice, as she offers to provide ordnance for the team to take out the shambler antenna at Fenway. Plus, Bozeman’s and TY’s jobs: plenty of work!