Kitten Caboodle aka Kit
Meeting with Lothan, the team finds out what he needs done: an old enemy needs to be permanently dealt with, as he worries about what she is doing to the local manasphere in this time of flux, and also is trying to kill him more actively than usual. He explains that this a toxic mosquito shaman named the Foul One, who is also a wendigo. He gives them some pro tips on fighting wendigos, and also says that as she is a skilled mimic and has him under surveillance, they won’t be able to discuss the job again til it’s done for fear of interference He teaches Avo some basic assensing in order to be able to positively ID him in person (hopefully). He also gives them a quicksilver camera to help them prove they fought toxies, in order to get bounty payouts from various groups, and also a variety of potions in order to empower them in the battle to come.
Kit buys and starts tricking out a classic runner van to replace Avo’s dead car, adding on the useful bits the Frenemies salvaged at Goober’s yard. The rest of the team gathers equipment and intel. They make a plan, which is to use Ares to assault the northern branch of Swamp Thangs turf, in Shattergaves, to pull off some defenders, use Desolation Angels to fight mosquito spirits in the Calumet Swamp, and have the team do an alpha strike on the Foul One and her core cadre that remains. Carol gets some FAB III grenades, which Ares seems creepily eager to see used, and also meets a Dr. Ellis, who he recalls from the team file as one of the Project Apex heads from DeeCee. She offers their services again, saying they are excited to test out the updated version. After some careful social investigation, and some favors to Tate and Ryder and drone surveillance, they ID the likely base of ops in Shattergraves, an abandoned Gilgamesh Initiative lab that had once hosted an insect shaman, and which seems to be connected via new tunneling directly to the heart of Shattergraves. They tip Ares to this, and hope they can limit collateral damage, not wanting any chance of the ST’s getting tipped off.
Avo also recalls that the Desolation Angels magical order had a weird “friendly bug” vibe when he initiated, and carefully investigates this via their member Praxis. She doesn’t fully confirm, but they seem likely to be mantid spirits, which hunt and eat other bugs. They tell the DA’s that they have FAB and plan to have them hang back and fight spirits so they don’t get exposed. The team also finds out that Foul One has long been importing strange relics and items into the CZ, including the Jade Cup that the team recently used to close the shedim threat from Auslander. She apparently started following mosquito while on an expedition deep in the Amazonain jungle, where she found a valley full of strange temples to various insects, and she is also an acolyte of something called the “Vast Green”, seemingly an eco-fascist movement, or possibly a Horror, with some connection the Logos death cult and Sirrurg, the Destroyer. All worrying stuff…
The team spends a bit of time gearing up and upgrading arms and armor. They get in place with the Deso Angels, near to the Calumet Swamp lair. Carol calls in the Ares strike force to the Shattergraves site, and the team gives it 45 minutes based on estimated travel times and whatnot to lure away as many defenders as possible. They enter the edge of the swamp, come under assault by spirits, and retreat, luring the spirits into the Deso Angels trap. The team splits off and heads in. The woods are disturbing and seem to be moving about and trying to trick them. They end up fighting some flesh forms and a radiation spirit, expending one of the FAB III charges. They continue on and find that twisted trees are moving around behind and around them, guiding them towards the center.
Creature tries to get a better look, and scales a tree, but is almost consumed by it’s toxic core. Avo confirms they’re headed towards the worst place in the astral, at least. They continue, and use 2 more FAB grenades to try to pierce confusing illusions they find themselves within before realizing that they are already inside of the tent, made of human skins, that the Foul One uses as her mobile magical lodge. They get into a brutal fight with a mosquito spirit, 4 toxic shamans, and the Foul One herself, managing to quickly take out 2 of the shamans and the spirit (via Creature’s monofil garrote plus an impressive jump, and another FAB grenade). They also set off another FAB grenade and the Sunbeam potion from Lothan, trying to tag the Foul One, but mostly miss on both. Luckily, all the damage and excitement has allowed most of the team to see through the illusions at least, giving them a fighting chance.
The fight continues, with the team felling the 2 remaining shamans, and a second wave of flesh forms as well as a toxic gator arriving. The gator nearly kills Carol before leaving him for dead and chasing down Creature, as both Keg and HK are felled by various attacks, only to be revived by Kit, frantically charging around the battlefield with their medical shield deployed. Creature manages to avoid getting killed by the gator and lobs a couple grenades into it’s mouth as it snaps, but is nearly killed xyrself by the nearby explosions. HK manages to finish the gator off with some APDS, though it’s much less effective at piercing it’s thick hide, so the team is quite glad Creature managed to attack it from inside.
The standing survivors finally get to focus their attention on the Foul One, and a few notice that she has left an illusory self behind while attempting to retreat. Keg manages to tag her with a machine pistol burst, staggering her and giving Avocado enough time to charge up and bite her. As her final act she overcasts a massive toxic wave, killing Avo by burning a huge hole through his center. Luckily, he’s a banshee now, so Kit manages to just barely stabilize him enough to swallow some of the healing potions from Lothan, and Kit uses the rest of the potions to get the rest of the team on their feet.
They notice that the gator and the rest of the tent (and swamp) seem to be rapidly going through cycles of rot and regrowth, in a chaotic somewhat cancerous way, and decide they better beat feet as the water is also rising. Keg, needing a trophy, manages to tear off a section of the Foul One’s rotted armor jacket, and finds a strange journal in the pocket. HK, unable to stifle his curiosity, salvages a data core and finds a strange hidden artifact, a writhing ouroboros of vines, inside 2 rusting old school terminals. They flee.
Luckily, Avo rallies and manages to give some solid tips to Kit, who handily navigates them out. They are all crashing badly from combat drugs, but the swamp seems so chaotic in it’s magical fits as to be effectively ignoring them. They find the surviving Deso Angels outside, who seem to have lost 1 of their members and 1 of the newbs, but say the other newb proved herself and will replace their lost sister. Avo senses a fresh mantid vibe to her, and decides to investigate more later. They get in the van and head out for medical and money. They decide to pass the artifact to Fargus Sol, trusting him to be able to transport and keep it safe. He tells them to stay mobile and he will have some local operatives grab it on the road, and tells them he’ll have some work for them soon.
A cybered-up elf (Toast) and a dead-eyed cybered-up woman (April Halfwoman) roll up on bikes, and Toast does some fancy gymnastics to hop over to the van, grab the arifact, and swing back onto his bike before they speed off. Sol calls them a while later and informs them that this artifact would have a corrupting influence on spirits and the mana sphere, and to tell noone else of its existence. Meanwhile, Carol calls in a favor to get an expedited bounty license on his legal SIN, and they drop off the proof at Archangel Bounty Redemption, getting a significant payout the next day after it’s all reviewed. They head over to Lothan, verify it’s really him, and give him the brief also. Keg has discovered another 6 Tarot card in the journal, which they tell Lothan, and give him the rest of the info except about the artifact. Lothan suggests he would like to be involved, suspecting that something larger is at work, and gives the team some hints as to what he thinks the Foul One was up to (basically, corrupting spirits and the manasphere to ensure that whatever spirit follows Calumet, who was slain by FAB III as the Spirit of the City, it will be a toxic one). The team tips Fargus Sol, who says that Lothan has been on a list of theirs to contact anyway, so he’ll reach out.
He also reports that Aylin and Patty C are headed back to town, and suggests that this new artifact will be the perfect lure for the Black Lodge- they couldn’t resist such power, and would likely be willing to trade the Book that Aylin needs for it. Of course, the trade will never happen, as Sol and Aylin are putting together a team to ambush the BL, but also expecting unexpected treachery, this being the Lodge and all. The team then heads to Tate’s and heals up, with some members getting some upgrades with their hard-earned cash, and Avo needing to stay a few days to get the few organs he actually needs replaced. They also all have a decent amount of exposure to toxicity so get some antibiotics and screenings, and have some gear that needs repair.
Kit reaches out to Jackpoint and other places, and HK does some research, to find out more about mantids. They are from the plane of Vhortas, as are all bug spirits, but they can only reproduce by killing other bug spirits, and it seems like most mantid cults only make good merges (or destroy any others), which maintain both the original personality and the inhabiting bug. Strangely, as a shared personality themself, Kit is the most bothered by this, but overall the team decides the Deso Angels are good allies to continue working with, just also being aware of this new context. Kit posts all the job info to JP (minus the artifact again) in thanks, which secures the rest of the team provisional access. HK also makes sure this same info makes it way to Mrs Clean for Sierra Corp.
Kit also reaches out locally to find out more about the Ash Union and the Shadow Chapters, and getting good vibes from both, and some talk of collabs, pitches the team on a job: find some local runners who missed their last meet and noone has heard from in a few days.
Kit: Heya chummers. We’re coming to you tonight over the free airwaves – bouncing the signal straight to your cranium. But is it so free, really? This signal is pinging off dishes that have been “volunteered” by some of the big 10…using structures they’ve built in ways that they never truly intended. Which brings us to our guest tonight. Welcome to the program Carol.
Life never really goes as planned. We certainly hoped for a quieter path – fixing things, whether they be 100lb kids or 100,000lb machinery. I know many of you out there probably never thought you’d be wearing the cuffs of a wageslave. But some of us are born with a certain trajectory. Carol – tell us about your trajectory. Do you think, knowing what you know now, you would have chosen this path?
Carol: What are you implying with this trajectory talk? I don’t think we’re born with anything. Interviewers always act like I’ve just been sniveling in the wings since I left the Corp life, just because what we’re building out here isn’t getting a profile in Meta-People magazine. So yeah. I wouldn’t choose board meetings and HR drek over building something real and making my own choices in the shadows, where real power is getting built.
Kit: It sounds like you might have some experience with being on-air in the past! My producer, Remo, hates when there is any sniveling on air, so we can skip right over those list of questions. I want to follow up with this idea of building something real in the shadows, as it’s a perspective that isn’t often talked about. Usually you just hear about the idea of a shadowrunner walking slowly out of exploding buildings, or fighting off dragons. What things are you hoping to build in your career?
Carol: Yeah, the shadows are a big place. I’m all for the slow motion walk from time to time, but I want the shadows to be as connected as possible. From go-Gangs and vampires, to chop shops and street docs: the bigger our networks are the more effectively we can all do our jobs, deniable assets included.
Kit: You’re speaking my language here. But to what end? Are we making the world a better place, or do we just have more dangerous and lucrative day jobs?
Carol: I mean, the more connected we are, the stronger we are, and that’s better for everyone in the network, right? So it gets better for me and better for everyone working in the shadows. I think that makes the world a better place. And we’re doing it outside of the artificial restrictions of Corp life. We can climb as high as we want and know it’s all based on what we bring to the game.
Kit: Freedom and community. That is worth fighting for. Carol I for one am glad you’re in the game, and even happier you’re on the same team. I think if there’s any message in here for the corpos listening tonight, it’s that we’re not trying to burn it all down. We’re trying to build a better place for all of us. Thanks so much for your time, Carol.