and goodbye to: Dr. Kinnie Zest
The team drops their newly purloined Ancients street bikes off with Goober to get them repainted and fixed up, so they don’t get into trouble riding them. They then crash at the Bolthole after a hard night, while a few team members head back to Ahabitat to rest up there. They awake the next morning to find Kinnie Zest gone, the Tower Tarot card missing, and a note saying “Gone to Seattle, Don’t Follow”. Kinnie has also replaced the drones they lost on the last mission, and finished the second round of repairs on the sub. They reconfigure the TacNet and other team structures for good infosec, and discuss why Kinnie left: presumably to pursue his revenge on Richard Villiers. They hope the Tower card isn’t destroyed in the process and hope to hear from Kinnie again.
The team spends a few days finishing acclimating to the Zone’s overall mana sphere, and Avocado finds himself attuned to their safehouse a bit better as well. Patty C presents the team with some protective potions she has made to keep them safe, and seems excited to discuss some other theoretical advancements in the field with 6C when he has some free time. Otoko and Big Meat are having a fish feast with her, though they seem a lot more comfortable with the raw seafood diet than she does. They make some calls and call in some favors, with 6C getting the ball rolling with Old Crow to seize the Black Lodge’s copy of the Book of 9 Gates for his cleansing ritual.
6C also contacts Fr. Darren Dolf in NYC and reports on the Altar Boy issue. Dolf seems disturbed and tells the team that 2 Catholic operatives (likely Sylvestrines) have gone missing in the Zone in the last few weeks while looking into some mysterious new Bishop who has been operating out of some Church properties near the Cermak Crater.Dolf puts them in touch with Fringe, a strange disgraced changeling priest with angelic qualities. They agree to team up, and Fringe confirms that they are hunting a powerful master shedim (or 2), as well as an artifact that Fringe thinks might allow the shedim to open another stable rift to their homeplane.
Test and Hotkey, in the Bolthole, get a tip from some Desolation Angels about some Ancients embroiled in a firefight nearby and decide to go scope it out, hoping to get some useful intel about where the remaining Anients are holed up. They sneak up, but hang back, seeing the corp team from the Skeleton Key mission engaged in a brutal gun battle with a larger group of Ancients who seem to have tried to lure them into a trap. Both sides had a spellcaster but both are down, and the Ancients seem to have been trying to leave with the body of what looks like the leader of the corp team. HK tells the DA’s to hang back and trail any Ancients trying to leave.
At the last minute, HK lays down some suppressing fire to save the lone corp goon remaining on their feet and introduces himself. THe corp type recognizes him from the SK job and says they’re glad for the assist but that HK and Test should clear out before their backup gets their since the team killed a few members of the corp team the last time they met. However, she thanks HK for the assist, and tells hi, he’s welcome to the body the Ancients were trying to take: the Johnson for this job. She explains that the corp team are ex-NeoNet operators working freelance locally. HK and Test grab the Johnson, who’s been beheaded, and find that the beheading perfectly severed his biomonitor, preventing his cortical bomb from blowing.
They dip out of sight as the corp squad rescue vehicles arrive (it looks like a few other members survived due to HK’s intervention), and do some quick hacking. The Johnson is a bagman and Technomancer hunter who has worked locally for Shiawase: he’s the guy who originally kidnapped Sam for their clone experiments back in the day, and has been seeking her (and another escaped clone) ever since runners breached their facility and handed the remains over to Saeder Krupp. He recently got some leads that Sam and clone where both up for sale from some flesh peddlers, the Ancients, and made a deal. He hired the corp team as backup but it was a trap. HK and Test manage to also get the remaining funds on his expense account for the job.
The team reunites and tracks the Ancients back to the are outside the Cermak crater- they determine a likely Church to check out based on some good assensing and tracking, but lose the trail through the irradiated Crater and can’t confirm for sure. They also hear from Fringe that based on his research he has ID’ed the person most likely possessed by the Master who is calling himself “the Bishop”. They get a home address (more Church property- he is a groundskeeper hired recently to start rehabbing the properties during Operation:Takeback). The team decides to check out the house first, then the Church. They call in the DA’s to make a perimeter again to keep anyone from fleeing, and call in backup from Ryder.
After checking out the home amidst a heavy rainstorm, and both spotting and being spotted by some shedi guards in Ancients bods, the team decides to storm it. They hit up Becky 99 and tell the DA’s to close in around the church address while they call in Ryder to back them up. Remo (the sprite) is urging Test to hurry, as he can’t contact S@m. They defeat a few shedim guards, who seem to have stayed behind just to slow the team down, and make a chaotic entry into the house through series of poorly targeted grenades. They find evidence that the possessed church employee had gone toxic pre-possession, and was possessed during a summoning ritual, implying there is a free toxic spirit hanging around somewhere…. fun.
They also find evidence of the 2 missing Sylvestrines, as well as semi-concealed basement door. They head down and find the secure case for the Jade Cup, empty, bearing strange signs of both toxic and green magic, so it seems the shedim only gained it recently as their death aura hasn’t taken over. They also find a locked room containing 1 Sylvestrine, who seems to have been driven mad, and the remains of the other, who was apparently reanimated repeatedly by a low force shedim to force the survivor to butcher and consume him. They call in Ryder to get the survivor out, and he does, and they call in Fringe to arrange for him to get back to the Catholic Church’s care. Fringe also agrees to meet them at the church here to bring an end to this.
They find a tunnel in the floor which looks to lead to the church, and luckily Carol had prepared because he manages to FAB another waiting shedim as they open the hatch. The effects of the FAB III are terrible to witness, even on an enemy, and they decide to travel overland to their destination, assuming that the FAB will keep anyone from trying to escape through the tunnel. The DA’s call and say they have the church surrounded but that there’s some kind of gnarly ritual going on inside. The team races over, having to do some on the fly drug adjustments to stay conscious and functional for some, and breach the church.
6Cyl once again manages to blast the sacrificial knife out of Altar Boy’s hand, and almost trick shots the knife out of Auslander’s hand as well, but Auslander still manages to stab his victim- it looks like both S@m and SM-501 have been drugged and tied to the altar, and 6C isn’t sure which one he saved. 2 dozen mind-controlled Ancients and locals turn to charge the team, alongside AB, the toxic free spirit, and the possessed cyber-solider from Tate’s clinic. The team calls in the DA’s who go toe to toe with the enemy gangers as the team takes on the big bads. Fringe is outside cleansing the local space to allow the team to not suffer horrible background counts, and also interfering with Auslander’s ritual. Fringe’s angelic spirit is watching the exits to burn with holy fire any foes who try to flee.
Alyin manages to take out AB before he can deal any damage with his sword, and his teen face shows a look of great surprise as he slides in half from the monofil whip slice. Auslander keeps going after 6C with spells but Aylin keeps taking his damage and regenerating it, so the toxie comes after Aylin. Test starts hacking the cybersolider while Hotkey returns fire, and Carol makes a hail mary run with the FAB thrower to get to Auslander. Before long, HK, 6C, and Carol are all KO-ed, though Carol manages to shoot off the FAB cloud near Auslander just as he goes down.
Avocado steps up to the plate as Aylin and the hacked cybersoldier duel- the soldier is faster but doesn’t have regen, and with Test and Remo’s hacking support Aylin finally brings him down, just as Avocado uses a miraculous commanding voice to trick Auslander into staying put while the FAB III surrounds and envelopes him- they hear more twisted, horrible screaming as he is driven from this plane. A CrashCart team shows up and whisks 6C away to a hospital in the O’Hare sprawl while the rest of the team settles up. The DA’s on site were mostly wiped out with the exception of Becky, and Fringe looks drained from his efforts. Remo and Ryder and thrilled to find that S@m was saved, though the shedim seem to have stripped her of her TM abilities as part of the ritual. SM-501 bled out from the off target stab wound during the fight, unfortunately.
The team gets some local rep boosts, make some new and improved contacts, and gets paid from the Catholics as well as some local fundraising done to support their good deeds. They head back to the safehouses to rest up, and hear from Fringe that there is one more job available: a perilous mission to use the Jade Cup to travel to Auslander’s castle to defeat him once and for all and end his incursion attempts. This will destroy the Cup, and kill Fringe in the process, so they’ll get one shot at it. The team says they need a few days to rest up, and Fringe agrees. Avo also sets up a fight at the Vault for 6C, finally, and starts making some teaser ads to build hype.