Chew Gum and Jaga make some friends in Hamtramck with the People of the Book Burial Society and others, and CG uses this as an excuse to get a little more intel on the mysterious Children of Loxley. Carol receives a “condolences” message from Vogel, at some risk, who also suggests it might be time for Carol to come work for him directly since things are heating up. Carol wants to do this one last job with the team and then plans to make his exit. Creature, having given Shan and Shun the tour, also seems to be planning to leave to return with them to Chicago and focus on cementing the Sea Dragon’s position there, as Detroit already has too many dragons looking at it:Ghostwalker has agents on the ground looking to push for a Free City, Arleesh has an agent in town stirring up trouble, and Lung is apparently looking to make some moves into town from Toronto via the Triad. Plus, the bad bug vibes everywhere….
Shan and Shun arrange to rent the sub from the team for a few days in order to transport themselves to Chicago and then send it back. Dig hears back from a few more promising people about his Red Magic post, and manages to found a 3-person Order based out of the Oakland County Zoo room he rented from the rigger Roadkill. The two acolytes are a street-smart tough kid and a strict hermiticist academic, so an interesting combo so far. Creep scopes out “lay low” spots around town, and he and Tabasco head over to an unlisted cyber clinic after getting some names from Smoach and Myrryr. They find the former Probe/DeeCee transhumanist Leonna Octave running the spot, called the Metal Maniacs Clinic, which has amassed a small crew of aesthetic enthusiasts. Creep talks to them, planning to make fun of them, but actually has a nice convo about esoteric implants.
They both get some surgeries scheduled, with Creep adding a few more survival-focussed mods, and Tabasco clearing up some essence hole room to fit in some combat mods. Octave tries to sell them on more extreme mods and embracing maximum implant culture, but they demure, for now. Dig and Jaga help CG replenish one of his spirits, making a new rotting plant matter mass to twine about himself. Tabasco and Carol get a call from Ibn Hassan, offering work if they happen to indeed be in Detroit. They accept, and get a gig to drive the mafia loansharks out of Hamtramck in order to let the Hawala networks there fill the gap.
CG arranges a meeting with a local runner named Sikh Burn, a combat mage who fights with a flaming zulfiqar, and who maybe used to run with the CoL. After feeling him out a bit, SB agrees to put CG in touch with a man named Alfredo who he says is the tactical coordinator for the CoL. CG and Carol set up a deal with Alfredo to smuggle in a bunch of guns, armor, explosives, and other materiel in exchange for them working to drive the mafia off, a goal they already believe in. They seem to look more favorably on the team being in “their” neighborhood after this.
Having passed a few days and given Carol time to process his dead dad feelings a bit, they decide to crack down on the Ellis job. They look into Ringmaster’s dossier, and seeing no better option, decide to riskily contact Ellis directly, though in code. Carol uses his knowledge from the ARES space station to send her a message posing as her former lover, and she responds in a way suggesting that she knows what’s up and will help them help her. They roll over to the facility where she works (and seemingly can’t leave), and use their ARES SINs and van electrochromic coating to get into the lot. Spotting some passive magical security, Dig and CG stay in the van.
The rest of the team sneaks in through a side door, which unlocks, just as they approach. They find the drone guards inside temporarily disabled, with a map to Ellis flashing on their ARO projectors. They proceed further in, losing comms with those outside. The team outside spots another runner van similar to the hit crew they went up against on the Zoo/Jones extraction, and CG does some astral recon- it seems like they learned their lesson from last time, and left a guard and spirit with the rigger this time. The guard opens fire on the team van with a minigun, damaging it badly. Dig starts magically driving, as CG uses spirit powers to befuddle the rigger and gunner, but comes under attack from the spirit.
After some magical speed control and dramatic crashes, Dig and CG emerge victorious but the team van is almost wrecked in the process. Meanwhile, inside, the team gets into an intense fight with some sec drones camouflaged as vending machines, taking them out, but hearing what sounds like another team breaching into the facility along a parallel path to theirs. They continue in, getting into a running gun battle with facility security. They manage to turn building security on the other team, and loop around back behind them to try to get the drop. Unfortunately, amidst all the chaos, something triggers Ellis to decide to take her chances and trigger her own escape plane.
The team is surprised to see a large capsule blast through the facility walls and start sinking into the river outside, trailing various fluids. Creature sneaks into the lab it exploded out of, and finds no sign of Ellis, but does recover a hard drive that says “README” and one of the FAB suits before escaping before the goons in the next room can recover from the phosphorous arrows and lube grenade combo and start shooting again. Tabasco and Creep dive into the river to follow the capsule, but Creep can’t swim and starts drowning, so Tabasco has to save him instead. Creature debates following but doesn’t want to get the drive wet, and and head spotted a leaking FAB pipe in the lab and so is worried about that too.
Carol races back out to take over driving the van and get out of there as Dig runs to the river and leaps in, turning into a dolphin. He luckily also spots some leaking FAB trailing the capsule and abandons pursuit, not wanting to risk it. He swims to shore, and sneaks back to ground, meeting up with the drone he purchased to carry his belonging when in animal form. Tabasco and Creep also get to shore and sneak back to the safehouse using some of Creep’s new knowledge, worried their ARES SINs might be burned.
Carol picks up Creature with the drive, and races off with CG in the van as well. Unfortunately, he feels he didn’t drive fast enough and is worried about fast response tracking them, so they find an obscure spot to ditch and split up, also sneaking back to the safehouse on foot. It turns out it was good they did- when they are all about a block away a drone detonates the van with a missile, they can feel the heat even from where they are. Close call! With everyone reunited, it’s time to analyze the data, sell that suit, and figure out how/if they can get to that capsule….