Liam Adelbern gets the team to make some deals in preparation for their big run against the ECSE/MCT, Prot0 has done a little research and realized it’s gonna be a whole thing. They make a deal to help Liam get his two items in exchange for him helping them get a tarot card and into the ECSE. Prot0 also plans to talk to SSU211 and Messerzahn about making similar deals for assistance.
Worried about PPJ, and receivng a hint from a mortally wounded Bubbie, they try to surveil the crystal island and come into direct contact with the Tan Robes, who handily read their minds and close the tunnel they came up through. Mama’s Boyz aren’t thrilled, and the team is very worried that the TR’s now know their goals and where their safehouse is, so Jonny goes to Mama to ask for help. She tells them a lot about the TR’s (hopefully helping the team gain access to Salem) and tells them they will be under her protection while underground, but that the powerful shadow spirits who are patrons of the TR’s have unknown motives and that the team will likely be in danger outside the Catacombs. Mama also tasks them with contacting Aleiron in the metaplanes and dealing with a darkness rising in the east in Chicago.
The team also finally deals with the Horizon/Dawkins Group situation, and manages to ID 4 DG members working in the Squares. However, this goes a little sideways for them when AZT uses this info to somehow lead to the fall of the Squares, a populated enclave. Many survivors, but many casualties, and rumors about the team’s involvement are circulating. They try to do a little rep management but get into some major disagreements about how and who to share info with. Jonny also gets word that Micval was killed by a strike team trying to retrieve him from a DG safehouse, but they recovered his drive with all his unreleased tracks, so kind of a win for Jonny and his label?
They pull off a heist against an Atlantean Foundation research lab by causing a series of distractions with the help of an unpleasant squatter/hacker named Pendleton Wynn. They get a tarot card, the first payment from Liam for the next two heists they need to do with him. It is the Major Arcana Shadows, they also get a ton of ATL tarot research from the servers that Prot0 hacks alongside the run.
Guy continues planning his astral trip to the homeplane of his car spirit to gain it as an ally. They also plan to contact Stark, Thiessen, and Van der Mar at some point and see what they want. Jonny takes some time off to deal with team PR and potential fallout from some recent situations, as they also hear of some disturbing developments locally: some large ships have appeared in the harbor, the first in in over 2 years since the Lockdown began. Merc operations are also increasing, so it seems like the cleanup is speeding up, putting some of their jobs on a timeline.
They decide to raid and clear the ARES/KE VR/AR training facility and secret lab where Project Hammer (CFD projectiles) was based, on behalf of Erika Knowles, and to make closer alliance with Messerzahn. Messerzahn, good to their word, has cleared a path to the bottom end of a drain culvert/duct from the lab into the sewers. It has a UV filter and magical barrier so the vamps have been stymied in their efforts to gain access. The team grapples up, destroys the barrier, and gains access, getting into a brutal fight with some headcase fenrir wolves. They emerge victorious but with some serious injuries, some of which require pulsing to try to prevent infection. They leave the UV filter in place just in case the vamps are planning to backstab them while they check the rest of the facility.
They find evidence that T1’s team was here, and gain some Project Hammer prototypes, as well as some cyberware from 2 destroyed cyberzombies. They also piece together what happened early in the Lockdown, when the Black Lodge (according to Olivier) killed the former IOND head as well as a french Gendarme who had assembled a dossier on the BL and was trying to pass it along. It looks like the Gendarmes, some mages, and facility staff fought a holding action but were overwhelmed by a powerful blood spirit, along with other magical attackers.
The cyberzombies seems to be more recent, and were looting the facility for supplies, as well as scouting as a potential base, but were ambushed by the same spirit (now looking even more powerful). 1 of the 3 seems to have escaped, 2 others were separated and killed. It looks like they used the prototypes on the fenrir wolves, who seem to have been part of the original facility defenses or perhaps the BL attack force, leading to their infection (which luckily for the team also muted their usual magical abilities).
The team decides to finish clearing the facility, as the staff seems to have trashed all their sensors and records while defending it. They find a sealed/intact vault, and find the Gendarme inside, thought it quickly turns out that it is the Blood Shade inhabiting her corpse (and with her memories). She nearly TPK’s them, but they manage to rally a defense and defeat her, Aylin’s monofil whip proving especially useful against her spirit form. They find a huge amount of paper records of the project, which Prot0 scans quickly before they destroy them, not wanting this project data to fall into the wrong hands. They go back, let the vamps in, and scout the upstairs a bit.
They find a little data on the ECSE’s defenses as T1’s crew seems to have begun fiddling with the AR/VR trainer before checking the basement, which Prot0 notes down. They then head out and Kinnie analyzes the tech they recovered, and they figure out where to post data and whatnot before selling it all to Erika Knowles. She promises to keep it safe and make sure word gets out, and the team gets her approval to spread word that ARES was developing this weapon without sharing specs. They rest and heal, and look into all the tarot data that Prot0’s sprite got from the ATL-F. There’s a ton of info involving some cards they have seen (or have) and they start deciphering some of Hansu’s prophecies.