Otters aka Roadkill
Tabasco aka Cholula
The team all debriefs together after their separate missions, and decides that next up they need to take out Bloodripper, as he has gone from violent thrill-kill ganger to fulltime serial killer. They make a series of elaborate plans for trap scenarios and the like, before deciding their best bet is a simpler plan. They find a mostly empty shuttle parking lot in Dearborn near some factories, and Dig hides the van with Otters, Cholula, TD and himself inside under some concrete, using magic, while CG waits in the center of the lot with a ring of grenades strung around him, just far enough that he won’t be hurt when they detonate but close enough to be able to cover any direction that Bloodripper may approach from.
CG also reveals the existence of his own personal VTOL and private Bolthole, sharing the details in case anything happens. Some on the team are quite shocked by this revelation, especially Cholula, though they all also recognize it as a pro move and wonder if they should do the same.
Creep hides under a nearby abandoned car, and CG tells his spirit to start using powers once the fight kicks off. Having a left a note at their safehouse with their specific location, CG sends out a cryptic radio broadcast intended to lure BR to the note, and thus to the trap. After waiting around for quite a while, and believing themselves to be watching carefully, they are surprised when BR suddenly appears at the edge of the grenade circle, having spotted the poorly concealed trap.
CG explains that they’re just for lubrication and exciting fireworks, so BR spurs his bike forward over the line, and dismounts before embracing CG in a crushing embrace. CG’s spirit reports that it can’t see BR in astral space but that a Watcher spirit seems to be following/observing. As the team failed to trigger their ambush when BR wandered in, they scramble to catch up as CG is slowly being crushed to death- BR seems to think this will be a worthy devotional act.
Creep says “fuck it” and shoots BR, blowing off most of his armor, as Dig finally gets it together and gets the concrete moved so Otters can drive the van up and open fire with the HMG. Unfortunately, CG’s spirit uses the accident power on BR and he seems to attempt to protect CG from the gunfire but fails and trips, throwing both of them into it’s path. BR is killed, spectacularly, and CG is badly injured, though the team manages to stabilize and heal him somewhat as they race over.
With that settled, they scrape BR’s remains onto his burning, ruined motorcycle and let it burn. They swing by the Plat Zone to check in with Ringmaster, since it’s been a while, and debrief on all the dark spirit business. They confirm that as a syndicate hitman, pre-Blackout, BR was likely a devotee of Cernobog, and most likely has been manipulated by a spirit of pain and disease named Crepitus into believing that he is sacrificing to Cernobog while actually empowering it.
RM congratulates them on their success effectively ending the shadow zombie threat, though news of Shedim involvement is upsetting to him. Also, he has now taken to wearing a biohazard suit, well-tailored of course, to keep others safe from his HMHVV infection, as he explains he was able to avoid infection and is himself now also a carrier. He offers the same tech to Dig, who refuses, and gently warns the team again about the risk.
They talk about other Spirit threats- Famine aka Mezcallus Negh seems like the next biggest one, and they hope that Crepitus will be diminished by it’s acolyte’s destruction, assuming it doesn’t have others. Luckily, the Mafia got mostly wiped out and the Vory doesn’t really have a toehold, so they don’t think there will be any obvious candidates. They also figure they better deal with Pygmy and Li Wei at some point, who have joined forces under the moniker “The Blood Knights”, claiming to be hooders keeping Detroit free from the corps, which to them entails sacrificing any corpo citizens they get their hands on in blood magic rituals. Effective perhaps, but maybe not cool.
Putting that off for another time, they decide to follow up on a lead from Erika Knowles about some stolen ARES data and tech, and determine that it is likely in the possession of Tilda Aurand, the same doctor they were looking for in relation to the various collared lab animal escapees. On the way, Dig calls Grandma Biyu to float the idea of hosting corpse bonfires adjacent to food giveaways, and she eagerly agrees, since Ringmaster is also throwing in some support.
Biyu explains that due to a new local alliance between the Seoul’Pa and the Reality Hackers and the Triad, they will also be able to make these into the central nodes of further mesh nets as they continue to expand. The team, as usual, worries what all these alliances will look like when things reopen someday, but for now they are doing the best they can. They start tracking down the lab via the hacked collar that Dig managed to salvage, and eventually do home in on the signal- a facility seemingly contained behind and under a streetfront pet store.
Creep heads in to investigate, and works his way down a partially exposed secret elevator shaft. He is almost overwhelmed by some kind of venomous mice, who swarm him as he tries to clamber back out, so Cholula races in to try to rescue, and almost succumbs himself. Using some clever combo’s of flashbangs and smoke grenades, Creep manages to drive the mice hoard back, while Cholula accidentally covers himself in lube with a bad grenade toss.
Dig comes in and Pulses the mice after Cholula fails to Animal Control them and reports that they may be biodrones- which Otters thought was impossible due to size. They get Cholula out, and CG finds a pet wash station to get him cleaned up, while Otters and Dig dissect a sample mouse that Creep retrieves. They find it suffused with nanites, with no other implants visible, and Dig manages to Pulse in time to keep either of them from getting the nanites in themselves.
They regroup and all head down, aside from Creep and CG, who do some recon and keep an eye on things up top in case of a trap. TD holds up a note in front of one of the cameras in the store, which appear hardwired to something below, offering to talk rather than fight, and with the elevator powers back up and takes them down, avoiding the lubed mouse pile at the bottom of the shaft. They enter a wrecked lab, and searching for traps, Cholula finds that the defenses were all turned inwards when they were destroyed.
They find a series of rooms with bashed open doors, all also from the inside. though the enclosure cages all seem to have opened normally…. as they head further in, hall lights turn on and off to guide their path. They check out more experimental rooms, and finding some of the notes it looks like this is where the collared animals all came from. There are various destroyed drones around, which seem like the only facility staff, but which were only able to contain about 1/2 of the escaped test subjects.
Coming to final vault door, it hisses and opens, and they hear a faint crackly voice requesting assistance. They find a brain in a jar on the floor with a small speaker attached, and determine that this is what remains of Dr. Tilda Aurand. She convinces them with knowledge of the escaped subjects, as well as by leading them to discover her body, which is on ice in the back, with the lid of her skull removed like an egg cup. She requests that they remove her from this place along with her body, from which she hopes to grow a wimp clone.
Dig asks why they should bother, and she points out that the server stack is slagged and says she is the only source of the knowledge now. Dig offers to Mind Probe her, but the rest of the team figures it’s better to have a new friend, so he doesn’t. She requests they provide her with a visual sensor, so Cholula slaps one of his surveillance dots on the brain jar and gives her control. Otters notices that she has both a nice deck and rig incorporated, and they see that the jar seems to have rolled free of an anthroform drone when it was wrecked fighting an escapee.
She explains that Otto Hendricks sent hitmen after her when she fled ARES with all her data during Latvian Gambit to this lab that she had slowly and methodically set up in the background over years while planning her escape. That was when she was forced to freeze her original body and transfer her brain to this slapdash arrangement. CG assenses and she is indeed alive, and free of nanites, so they agree to her terms.
She provides them with a magical research paper as initial proof of the quality of her info, and keeps trickling more info to them as they remove her from the facility. This includes intel on various ARES projects- security dinosaur biodrones, Encounter Suits for more safely exploring the Deep Metaplanes, as well as intel about who knew what and when- apparently the Bottleneck portal closer devices, including the massive one that Vogel set off to end Latvian Gambit, were based on tech stolen from the mysterious metaplane of Dis, and the development of the ALPHA merges and the metahuman possessions of bugs on Colony/Vhortas were based on tech stolen from AZT from their cyberzombie research.
This is all big paydata, and the team needs some time to discuss who to pass or sell it on to. For now, they have a quick debate about what to do with Aurand. Dig wants to kill her, as she seems like a pretty objectively mad scientist with low ethical qualms about her actions, plus they’ve got what she knows now. The rest of the team votes to try to help her get a body and make a new ally. Giving her a few options, she chooses to be taken to Moreau for his biodrones expertise, as she doesn’t trust Ellis (a former coworkers) and doesn’t know Leanna Octave, and seems suspicious of her new turn towards nanotech.
The team drives her over to Moreau’s facility, and then settles in to figure out where to sell the data.