Kitten Caboodle aka Kit
and reintroducing: Creep
The team returns to Seattle, still mourning ThinkTank’s death, and planning to carefully guard their new ID’s to try to avoid blowback from ARES. Tabasco, noticing that one of their other sneaker/fighters is permanently absent, proposes a replacement: his occasional comrade Creep, a weird but reliable fellow. The team concurs, planning to try Creep out on some of the many upcoming missions they have in Seattle: astral library returns, throwing the Free Seattle referendum Stuck’s way, fighting off the many assassins in town while discovering their targets (and without their access to TT’s assassin contacts!), plus all the mysteries Tabasco was investigating prior to joining the team. Time to get to work!
Worried about being able to cover upcoming rent on their 3 safehouses, they decide to try to do some quick money jobs, get that settled, and then delve into the bigger concerns. The team meets up with Creep, and agrees to do a few test run jobs before fully onboarding him, but it seems like he’s eager for work, talented, and pretty weird. Tabasco calls up Cheeks and they arrange to meet up and chat about some jobs and investigations that Cheeks would like handled. Carol calls Vogel, and asks for any intel on what ARES jobs are on the line in Seattle, and which way Vogel wants those to go. Vogel tells the team to not interfere with the bug infiltration of the Mafia via the N’Drangheta (more of an international problem), as having his Mafia allies in disarray will put Knight at a further disadvantage. He also tells them that Dr. Ellis is seeking to capture one of more Botflies, a rare (in this region) bug spirit type, and that the team should instead wipe out this nest.
The team takes a few days to restock on gear, catch up on local events (Aradia is bummed that she missed a full moon chance to investigate the strange entropy circles), and give Kit time to set up the new van. Kit also borrows some money from the team fund (recently increased in size with the influx of ThinkTank’s funds at his death), and further upgrades their new Wimp drone.With the van arm and armor equipped, the team heads out to NE Redmond to meet up with Cheeks and some other Dogmen.
They make introductions, and Cheeks gets down to business: he wants Tabasco to follow up on the previous work he’d done for the gang, and figure out what exactly is going on with the Spiders gang, and also see if they can get any intel on what is happening to the people they snatch. The team agrees, thinking this will link up well with the Vogel job, potentially. They do some recon, and find some sort of huge trapdoor spider spirit catching stray passerby in a magic web, and passing those off the what seem to be Spiders gang members, but who have a bit more of a cult-y vibe.
Creep manages to follow them as they drag the unconscious kidnappee underground, but Tabasco has to fall back when he is spotted and caught with some sort of astral webbing. Aradia and Carol take a pic with the Quicksilver Camera for proof as needed of the situation aboveground, and KIt sends in a crawler stealth drone to back Creep up and relay signal. Creep and the drone follow the cultists done through some narrow tunnels into the sprawling sewer system under Redmond, which Creep knows is big and dangerous. Creature follows partway to keep the signal working, and Tabasco hangs nearby for combat assistance as needed.
Creep sees a shaman with a black widow focus (likely the gang;s leader, based on description), with about a dozen gangers/cultists all chanting “Grandmother” in various languages. Widow touches the kidnappee and speaks some quiet words in a language Creep doesn’t recognize, and as her focus glows, the victim transforms, mutating into a spider hybrid form. This isn’t bugs, but this is bad. Some of the cultists come forward and usher the newly transformed victim to a nearby bench to recline, offering words of reassurance that he is one of them now and they will take care of him.
Taking another scan of the large reservoir chamber, Creep spots a massive, newly manifest spirit lurking in the shadows, and sees another shaman come forth from it’s vicinity with some fluid from it in an ewer. He watches in mute horror as the shaman gets the newly transformed man to drink it, also offering words of reassurance. Creep decides it’s time to go, and the team exfiltrates. They report into Cheeks, and post warning to the Shadow Chapters, the Crypt and Jackpoint. Cheeks gives them the small “missing persons” funds he’s raised from the community, and tells them they did a good deed. He seems to be pondering next steps, and also not 100% sure none of them are corrupted, so he says he’ll be in touch.
They talk to Fargus Sol, who confirms that something weird is going on in the astral planes with Spider: Metabeles, their traditional home, has new connected hyperplane known as the Twisted Web, which seems to be the creation or at least home of a malevolent trickster spider who broke free from his astral prison in Metabeles. This is apparently where “Grandmother”, whatever it is, resides. Sol doesn’t know how it started corrupting shamans from there, but suggests this would be worth further investigation. He also suggests that both the trapdoor spider and the huge black widow were likely quite dangerous but both tend to not be overly aggressive, so just as well the team didn’t attack, for now.
The team starts researching Botflies, and manages to identify some likely focal points. Remembering that Cheeks had said the Spiders only really got bad and weird after they ran out of bugs to eat, they decide to try to play one faction off against another. Conversing with Prof. Maggie Magnusson about Botflies while he confers with some colleagues, they hear that some Spiders gangers recently got picked up Downtown without SINs and dropped in the ACHE, and decide to get a third faction involved as well. They call Tosh Athack and tip the Black Knights off to the panned Spider raids coming up. Unfortunately they then hear back from Maggie, who says that the hosts can likely be saved with the help of a skilled medic and a skilled banisher, if they are found before the incubation is complete. The team feels bad they already sent the Spiders after them but feels it’s too late to stop what they’ve set in motion.
They wait a few days and then hear the good news: a large number of Spiders gangers were detained by Knight Errant after being found in the vicinity of a suspicious number of recently deceased individuals, none of whom bore any obvious signs of harm other than having been restrained. Due to the Spiders’ lack of ID, they are being detained in the ACHE for now. They team pats themselves on the back, and calls Vogel, who says he will spread the info they uncovered about how to ID and counter Botflies far and wide, to make sure ARES can’t try to use them as sleeper agent infiltrators. He sends them some cash, and with relief, they pay their rent.
In worse news, Jaliyah Angél cakks Aradia from the ASPS, having heard about the Spiders ending up in the ACHE, and shares her worries that the Spirit of the City, which seems to be centered on the ACHE, could easily be corrupted in it’s nascent form by the cultists.So maybe not an unqualified success. But at least the team knows where to look for them. They also get some intel on the ACHE itself, which could play into resolving the Free Seattle referendum: Shiawase is bidding to take over care and upgrades of the structure and it’s reactors from the UCAS military, which is good leverage.
The team decide to go with Imaginary Annie instead of STV as an employer to look into Free Seattle, and givers her a call. She says that she wants direct reports from the team, but that jobs and money and gear and whatnot will all be handled by a local fixer named Romeo who she is testing out, and also wants looked into. She confirms that Shiawase info, and tells them that there is an upcoming gala where they could likely meet a lot of the power brokers in town and try to ID who the likely delegates to the referendum will be- the first step.
They contact Romeo, and are less than delighted by his easy sleazy nature, but he seems to know his business, and gets them tickets to the gala (except Creep, who wants to sneak in), as well as nice rental clothes. Carol cringes at the thought of attending an event in a rental tux but has to remind himself he doesn’t have the corp credit card anymore, and goes along with it. They get a down payment for any gear they need from Romeo, and have a few days to prep for the gala itself. It will take place as an opening event for a grand new structure called The Aspirant’s Tower, a vertical maze inspired by a similar building in Dubai.