The team heads south from Backbay, having agree to do a favor for Lucky Liam and meet up with an O’Rilley Mafia Johnson about a job. Their car gets them partway there before they find themselves funneled into an ambush. Ro manages to do a crazy stunt on her chopper and escape the trap, and they succeed in intimidating/negotiating their way out without a fight (though they leave the car behind in trade- it was low on battery anyway). They continue south, and come across Four Corners, a survivor community they heard about in the journal that A.J. gave them. They decide to stop in and get an update. AJ also lets them know that he won’t be in touch for a while as he has to do some digging on something, and provides his current list of Boston Enclaves.
They meet some local community members, including a cocky, athletic elven youth named Tulver who makes Toff very bashful, and who Toff totally fails to impress. The community leader, and elderly human, seems to have a strong pro-corp attitude, and believe that a cure is coming, so they are corralling all of the sick from their community to await it. The team warns them of the danger, but they won’t listen. They also meet a local runner who goes by Scarlett, who runs the local bakery as a day job. The community seems to rely on her to assense new arrivals and check for infection, and she says that although she doesn’t have much pull locally, she has been trying to make the place safer. The team arranges to stay the night for a copy of the updated journal, and maybe stay in the future in exchange for supplies/labor.
Scarlett and Aemon hook up, and Toff teaches her the rudiments of the pulse spell, which he is working on improving to target CFD specifically. They also confirm that Scarlett has an escape route, through a Mama’s Boys-controlled Catacombs entrance that they use for trade, and advise her to get people ready to flee if the infected in the community get loose. Tulver seems to have a knack for handling/corralling the infected, and fishes one out of the school they keep them in for Toff to test his new pulse on, but Toff is having trouble connecting to the manasphere- maybe something to do with his recent near-death experience?
They head out again, and reach the mafia meet at the Beaded Shamrock after fighting off what seems to be a Morelli maifa kick squad. The Johnson introduces himself as Shane O’Connor, and seems pissed about the Morelli attack- he seems to think that Don O’Rilley went too easy on Don Morelli during their recent dustup, but says it isn’t his place to second-guess strategy. Overall, Shane seems quite chipper and friendly. He hashes out payment with Ro, and hires the team to clear a local gang called The Discontents out of the nearby Cabot Trainyards, a repair facility and switching yard for the city’s public transit system. Shane says the Don wants to take the turf, and the gangers are some tech-geeks of some sort so should be a pushover.
The team heads out and Toff manages to locate a segment of the dragon leyline that he had previously sensed. He feels a little magically improved after this. They find another survivor community, called Unlucky Ladies, which seems to have 1-2 dozen members and have taken over and fortified a block-wide building- maybe an old hotel or fixed-up warehouse or something. They have an ARO saying that only ladies are welcome, and a variety of noisemaking traps around to warn of people sneaking up. Ro talks to them, and gives them the updated journal, as they also know AJ- it seems he helped them out shortly after the QZ went up. They give Ro a little info: the gang controlling the yards apparently uses some small aerial drones for security patrols, and the UL say they stay away after getting buzzed by a few of them.
The team approaches the yards cautiously, and Ro, Toff and Aemon set up an overwatch position on the I-93 overpass. Toff casts some sneaking spells on Toast, who infiltrates the yard to recon, with Senk preparing to follow as needed. Toast scouts some outbuildings, and finds them empty and mostly powered-down, although there are a good amount of employee vehicles scattered around the lot still. He spots the drone patrols, and manages to avoid them for a good while, until one of them spots him while he’s atop one of the buildings. He ducks inside, and thinks he lost it, but is attacked when he sneaks back out- he gets tased a few times before the overwatch team spots the drone and takes it down. Senk uses this opportunity to slip onto the lot and begin heading in.
The team comes under assault from more drones, which start dive-bombing and self-destructing with a powerful electrical blast. They manage to fight them off, though Toast and Aemon are both injure. Senk gets into a deadly duel with 2 turtle-like armored ground drones with LMG’s in the employee parking lot, but manages to grenade both of them without taking too much damage, with assists from Ro and Aemon. Aemon heads into the yard also, and heals Toast a bit, as well as gunning down some nearby ragers who caught his scent. Ro provides overwatch as Toff astrally travels and manifests inside the main train house, finding a cluster of a half-dozen individuals, who like some odd sort of techie squatters, although the niceness of much of their gear belies their squatter appearance. The team also goes full wireless-off after coming under repeated matrix assault.
Toff makes an effort to negotiate, as well as do a little recon. The leader of the group, a distinctive man with puffy white hair and beady red eyes, agrees to call off the drone assault if Toff and his team withdraw. Toff relays this to Ro, but as they have a job they decide to keep at it. He tells the people inside to give up, as the drone defense is surely costing them a lot of cash, and offers to hook them up with Viktor Markwart if they need a place to stay, deducing that they are likely technomancers. However, the leader scoffs in disgust at Markart’s name, and calls him a “gutless coward,” seemingly rejecting Toff’s endeavors. As Senk and Aemon approach the main structure, all the facilities lights and machinery starts operating at once, as well as a variety of alarms and car alarms going off. Ro has also noticed a child screaming nearby.
Toff rescues the child from another rager who has her trapped in a car, and levitates up above the fray with her, as the noise, lights, and wireless from the facility attract a huge number of shamblers and ragers to the compound. Ro shouts out to the team that they have incoming, and the 3 in the facility rush the main building, setting off some traps but avoiding major damage- it appears their quarry has fled after trying to swamp the facility. They barricade the building as best they can, and try to shut down the various equipment and systems they can gain access to. They find some safety override switches, and Aemon detroys a large amount of computer equipment, as it seems to be corrupted in some bizarre way. He’s worried about AI’s, so blasting them seems like a good option. They also find a Catacombs entrance that it seems the resident techno’s used as an escape route, smashing through a security gate with a train car.
They dig around a bit, and find some evidence that the techno’s were surveilling both the ECSE and the Harborguide facilities. There are mentions of 2 things also, Project Abyss, and Project Heatwave. They decide to exfiltrate through the Catacombs, and signal Ro as to their intent. Toff joins back up with Ro, and they leave via the raised I-93 highway overpass on the bike. Toff decides to mindprobe the child, to check for infection risk before dropping her with either Unlucky Ladies or 4 Corners, and takes a hefty amount of stun after entering the alien space that is her mind- it seems to be a war between multiple personalities, one which the original child’s self has very clearly lost. She breaks free of Toff’s grasp, scratches him, and runs off, before Ro guns her down. Ro checks the body and confirms nano-presence in her blood, so Toff lights her on fire before they speed off. Ro tries to cheer up the depressed Toff as they make their way to meet O’Connor. They get there, explain the situation, and get paid. He says he may be in touch with future work, and they head down to Ancient’s turf to lay low til they hear from their compatriots.
The rest of the team, in the tunnels, checks the area under the train house first, and finds one concealed techno seemingly trying to wait for them to leave before signalling the others. They kill him, and shut down more of the mechanical equipment to try to limit infected interest in the building. They head out through the tunnels, and Aemon navigates them west, making for 4 Corners. An earthen astral form manifests before them and briefly interrogates them until they convince it that they weren’t responsible for breaking the security gate into the Catacombs and it leaves. Shortly thereafter they are approached by some Mama’s Boys, who agree to take them to a medic in The Nub for money, and seem to have been sent to find them. Just in time too as Toast and Aemon pass out from stimpatch use! The Mama’s Boyz make a simple sled out of rope, and haul the unconscious runners to the Nub, where they leave Senk to haul them to the medical facility. Senk manages to scare off anyone who shows too much interest in her downed companions, and pays for their first night of medical (instead of selling them for parts as offered!).
They heal up for a day and a half, and take care of some matrix business: getting ahold of their team, and checking in with other contacts. Aemon is approached by an MB sniper who seems aware of his rep as a shooter, and who seems like an enthusiastic parahunter himself. He offers to hire the team to clear some vamps out of the deep tunnels to make room for expansion, which Aemon is super pumped for. DJ McCarthy also gets ahold of them and tells them to get in touch with Aiden up in Revere/Cambridge, as DJ got transferred to Salem. Apparently his cousin Sarah McCarthy wouldn’t stop digging after ordered to and needs an extraction from a KE holding facility, where the feds ordered her detained. Smedley tells them there’s a lot of new street drugs around, many of which are being dropped in in supply drops by various corps including Zeta Imp-Chem, and to be careful as a lot of them seem like they are maybe still in testing. Smedley also wants them to look into a suspicious rumor from up around Lynn that the community there has a “cure”, and find out what’s going on. Thankyou also gets in touch with Ro and Aemon, and threatens them (with regrets): if they don’t help with his mission, he will be forced to use the trid he has of Ro watching while Aemon pisses on Inazo Aneki’s seppuku spot in the ACHE.
Toast checks in with Bozeman and gets the updated hit list, using some new format called Neutral Ground. Their friend A.J. is on it, as well as anyone he passed his Salem Exposed! file onto, which is worrying. They try to reach him, but fail- they hear some of his out of towner team got iced on a run up near Salem though, which seems ominous. Toast recognizes a few other names on there, but doesn’t accept any contracts immediately. There are also 2 open contracts on groups: something called the Turing Army is offering a bounty for any proof of destruction of any AI’s in the QZ, and something called The Coalition has posted details for some corp hits: apparently a lot of corps/other entities are using the QZ as a dumping ground for whistleblowers or other undesirable employees, and dropping them in in supply drops with some nuyen, figuring whoever takes them out can keep it as a reward. These have quickly become a popular earner for many of the gangs raiding supply drops, and are now referred to as a “Boston Transfer.”
Aemon also gets a call from Allison Sanborn, who tells him that Horst, the Horizon rep who has sort of gone native with Aemon’s fam in the AGS, sent a message in via the latest supply drop, to the effect that he has info about Aemon’s parent’s death, which he will trade for Aemon’s assistance to Horizon in the QZ/passing along of appropriate info. Sanborn seems a bit sheepish to be offering a trade with such personal info, but Aemon quickly agrees. However, they decide to pursure the ghost ship for Erika Knowles next: intrigue and mystery at sea!