Kitten Caboodle aka Kit
and introducing: ThinkTank
Hotkey and Enkaa have been helping expand Opti’s area of positive influence, partially out of HK feeling guilty over literally blowing up his spot shortly after arriving in town, and Enkaa has now founded a Sprawl Scouts chapter in the neighborhood as well to encourage positive action amongst the various youth, and an alternative to gang life for some. HK also hears from Mrs. Clean that she has a pro contact in town if the team needs another member to fill in the recent loss of Keg. HK gets the contact number and says he’ll be in touch. Clean warns him that although the new guy knows his stuff, he’s also a little old school and used to mostly working solo, or at least not with a regular crew.
The rest of the team bids a temporary farewell to Aylin and Patty C as they head for Boston, and plan out next steps. They decide to look into the missing runners for the Shadow Chapters, and do some matrix and IRL digging, after picking up HK and his new contact ThinkTank, a massive, elderly troll, who seems to be surprisingly nondescript for his size and who has worked primarily as an assassin, and seems to know a weird mix of people around town from that life. They manage to narrow down the likely places where the missing team (runners they competed for a job with their first night in town!) might have vanished from, and locate their former safehouse: now a nano-facturing site under construction by ARES.
Making contact with some local activists trying to organize a protest, Avocado finds a survivor of the raid that cleared the building for ARES to move in, a local squatter named Gravy. Gravy relates how a team of runners looked out for the squatter community that lived there and used it as a safehouse between jobs. A team of well-armed mercs broke in after the runners’ last mission (a total milk run) concluded, and killed them while they slept. They also killed any squatters who didn’t instantly flee, and then posted up til the official ARES presence arrived. Gravy thinks the mercs then changed into ARES Sec uniforms and are still onsite.
Reviewing descriptions and whatnot, the team determines this is likely the freelance mercs they’ve run into a few times in town, working on ARES’ behalf. Gravy also tells them the location of a secret tunnel he used to escape, that he doesn’t think the mercs found since he closed it behind himself, in exchange for Avo promising revenge. The team investigates the tunnel, and makes a deal with a feral dog shaman and his pack of cram-addicted dogs to pass to and fro in exchange for obeisance and small payment, which Creature manages well with xyr animal knowledge.
They find the tunnel entrance into the building sealed and intact, and HK gets some old records of floor plans from Lycus, while Kit gets Remo to find building info- it seems ARES acquired this spot recently in the NeoNET fire sale, it was formerly one of their holdings through a series of corp collapses and acquisitions since the Zone went up. The neighborhood is rapidly getting corporatized though, with a new “edgy” sports bar moving in down the block and the Maker’s Collective getting sponsored by Horizon. The team reports into Jazz, their main Shadow Chapters contact, who tells them she’ll work on a proper job to get revenge, as they can’t let this stand. She offers the team first option for this job, since they already know the in’s and out’s and they seem interested.
She gets back a little while later with the news that Tate is interested in sponsoring, as he’s been quite skeptical on the dangers of nanofacture, and Avo and the rest of the team starts planning how to boost the protest outside (as well as the brutal eviction, ARES is also busing in all the workers, so no local jobs) and how to use it as a distraction, though Kit insists they can’t put protestors at extra risk. They go meet with Tate, who seems invested in using this an opportunity to get protestors away from his clinic by distracting them with nano-fears. Avocado agrees to help stir up a bigger protest and also con the Freedom Network into redeploying their Popular Will protestors to this site. The rest of the team agrees to take a job from Tate to destroy the 2 nano-forges ARES will have onsite. He wants it done overnight, before employees are bused in to start running tests and begin production the next day, but otherwise leaves collateral damage up to the team.
They gear up with some assorted stealth tech, and pick up 2 thermite burning bars that Tate provided. HK calls Opti to get him to get some drones onsite, and he reports that 2 competing vloggers are also there, one more pro-corp, one more pro-“the people”, both a bit obnoxious. The team also sends a bunch of fireworks to the protest for added distraction, with instructions to Avo to use as needed. They string drones along to make a comms relay as they head back into the sewers. They bribe Mange and his pack with drugs and med supplies, and get safe passage. They safely enter the facility undetected, and Kit finds a spare coverall that fits, and slips out of the supply closet with some more drones to do some recon.
Kit manages to bluff some techs that they belong (as they are a nanotech expert), and gets a look around- only one forge is present! They find a shipping manifest suggesting the other is enroute, but will arrive too late for the team to risk waiting. HK manages to hack in to the host after Kit finds a vulnerable data port, and gets the transit info for the truck the other forge is on. Kit decides to do a more complex sabotage on the present one to make it look like maybe an accident, and they and HK collab on a script to get the nanites to start self-cannibalizing and eating the machine. ThinkTank provides some burning bar tips, and Kit uploads the script and burns a hole in the safe nanite containment vessel, causing some rapidly escalating chaos.
The few techs onsite start trying to put out the fire and then quickly call for deploying and EMP to limit nanite spread, and the team escapes via the chaos, with ThinkTank leaving a nasty little (nonlethal) chemical bomb rigged up for anyone who follows, which he made while stuck in the supply closet. They rip down the guide lights in the sewer as they exit to slow any followers further, and head topside. Avocado stays at the protest to keep things from escalating far enough that the ARES guards will start shooting live ammo, and the rest of the team quickly gets Goober to camo spray the van before picking an ambush site.
Carol also calls up and hires the Frenemies, the smash and grab crew that they met a few weeks back on another job, to get them to do their thing and cause another traffic jam on the route, getting the forge truck stuck for the team to hit. They race over and find the Frenemies worked well on a tight schedule, and staged a multi-vehicle crash just outside the West Zone entrance, trapping the forge truck on a frontage road. Kit parks just outside the jam, and the team heads in on foot, TT and HK racing forward as Creature blows open the back of the truck and takes out drones from afar, with fire support from Carol. A spirit slows them down a bit, but Kit manages to ram it back to the metaplanes with the van, and HK provides cover for TT to get into the back of the truck and hurl the thermite bar into the forge there, and then convince the ARES guards to let them back slowly away before someone gets killed- everything has been nonlethal so far, and the only damage was to spirits and drones.
The ARES guards agree, feeling literally trapped, and the team flees. Carol makes some elaborate plans to use his new Brokerage X access to help ARES out though- he’s going to tip Candice Phillips to what happened before it goes public, so she can figure out a way to make some money off of the insider trading. He also plans to use this as a way to get Candice on board with the Shadow Chapters, explaining that this kind of thing doesn’t need to happen how it did, and only went this way because ARES geeked a bunch of well-respected runners in their sleep. Tate seems pleased with their work, as usual, and pays up, as well as signing on for the Shadow Chapters himself.
While everyone heals up and some get implants/upgrades, Carol calls Candice, who says she’s never liked him or understood why his dad vouched for him, until now, and that she finally respects him at least. She hints that ARES global has some ambitions that won’t be bothered about losing a major investment in the Chicago branch, and agrees to participate in the Shadow Chapters to ensure smoother operations in the future. Carol feels this was a grand success, all in all.