Kitten Caboodle aka Kit
and a guest appearance from: Foghairal ke’Coille
The team, still reeling from their major discoveries, heads back to ARES’ Artemis base and gets paid out by ARES Corporate after Foggy vows her courtly assistance. They rest up, recharge their oxygen supplies, and plan the next day’s excursion. They buy some various industrial and survival gear to allow them to gain access to the old, abandoned NeoNET base in order to scope it out, and plan to pick up the Monad EVO deserter and give her a ride wherever she needs to go. To that end, Aradia chats up the sole local bartender, and gets access to a secret stash of drugs, though it seems to mostly be various amphetamines and BTL chips. She also convinces the bartender to put her in touch with his smuggler contact, who seems to be a member of the Space Rescue Service, maybe a useful person to know. TT pays a lot of money to rent a nicer hotel room than the coffin-sized bunks the rest of the team sleeps in, and gets a tiny window with a lovely view.
They head out and aim for the rendezvous point that Kit had deciphered. They quickly spot a figure in a moon-camo cloak approaching. She hops aboard and they chat a bit before Kit gets suspicious that she doesn’t know the location of the secret Monad transfer station in-system. Remo confirms that he had already sent that to her, and noticing their suspicion, the “Monad” fires some rockets from a gyrojet into the buggy, wrecking it. The team gets in an upclose knife and fist fight with her, with her luckily only managing to get shots off on TT and Carol, who had the improved armor spacesuits on.
Creature gets a solid garrotte attack (finally!) and TT smashes open their opponents face shield, disturbingly finding a corpse within. Kit had noticed that the body was moving a bit mechanically and had wildly good matrix defenses, and believes they just fought a true AI of some sort thast was rigging the body. Also the oxygen was all drained from the suit to limit decomp after what looks like a death from laser. The body is the person they were supposed to meet though. Before they have much time to think, they get a wideband message bearing the signs of Null Sect involvement, and the corpse explodes, fully destroying the buggy, and leaving them stranded on the darkside of the moon with minimal gear. Luckily they manage to salvage most of their new equipment, and they decide to hoof it for the NN base.
While walking, they decide to follow up on some Tarot hints from the Trader, and finds the second half of Prophecy 9, as well as a lengthy new Prophecy 10, haven been released online from wherever Hansu wound up. 9 seems to refer to some Dis-related stuff, and possibly tie into Jasper de Howlie’s prophecy of the First Expedition, and P10 seems to imply that some sort of dangerous impact event is headed Earth’s way. They start analyzing the prophecy and the potentially related cards they’ve seen, and looking for hints, though Kit is really trying to ignore it all and just play “Marry Me…”
They get to the abandoned base and gain access in time, barely, and recharge some oxygen from a picked-over garage area that they gain access to. Exploring further, they find a smuggler’s cache, what looks like some emergency safehouse sleeping spots, and a relay for Asgard Data Haven (which Carol tags, in a friendly way). They then find an intact kind of jury-rigged greenhouse/oxygen recycler, and following some ductwork find a retrofitted interior airlock blocking off the final area of the base. Carol, recognizing it as ARES manufacture and spotting a concealed camera that definitely saw them, starts broadcasting his legal SIN and gets a surprised greeting from the presumed-dead eco-activist and ARES board member Arthur Vogel.
The dwarf, seemingly having secretly survived the bombing that was claimed to have killed him, ushers them in after they all submit to a UV sterilization (after confirming that none are vamps). He has 2 armored guards standing casually nearby, but given their gauss rifle armaments, they seem ready for trouble if it comes. There is also a massive surgical suite and autodoc, which Vogel sets to making them all some tea. He apologizes for the lack of facilities to host better, but suggests they all take a look out the window at Earth while they discuss what to do about the team discovering him here.
Based on his conversation and musings, Kit deduces that Vogel is edging into cyberpsychosis, of which he seems a bit aware, having needed extensive replacements following the assassination attempt, which he barely survived. After feeling Carol out, and giving him some much needed positive reinforcement, Vogel breaks it down for the team: he explains that ARES has managed to create a stable portal to Vhortas on a nearby space station, which has predictably gone wrong. The team shudders as investigating this very station is their next job… He also tells them about some of the experiments and programs ARES was up to there, and elsewhere.
He also explains an overview of Operation: Latvian Gambit, ARES’ plan to lure as many bugs (especially Queen’s, nymphs and shamans) to a “megahive” under Detroit, and then destroy them all using their new “perfected” Alpha man/bug soldier merges, from Project: Apex. Vogel is extremely skeptical that any of this will go to plan, and says that after Damien Knight tried to have him killed, Knight lost the lone true dissenting voice left on the board, and has gone mad with power. Vogel is planning to make his return, and try to save Detroit as well as ARES, and asks the team to at least keep his secret, if not help him. He says he still needs time to get all the pieces in place, but ARES can’t know that any opponents know of their plans or they may try to act early, which could be even more disastrous. He also explains how one of Hansu’s other prophesies foretells this possibility, and shows how it is the only safe way forward for ARES. Kit, once again, is not into it.
Vogel says he understands they also were likely hired by someone to check out the NN base, and asks for a week to relocate before they report in, as well as leaving the specifics out of it. The team agrees, with some gaining favors, some gaining money, and Foggy getting the early research Vogel pioneered into making stable mana fields in outer space, which he seems sad that ARES corrupted to use solely for weapons, as with many things they do. Having agreed to terms, he gives them the name of a useful safehouse master in Seattle, and says he’ll be in touch when he needs them in Detroit. They head out, and decide to have Carol siphon off all their oxygen tanks and run back to Artemis base and get another buggy, rather than call for emergency pickup.
Carol manages it, just, and gets back and grabs everyone with no trouble. They pay up to the quartermaster at the base for the destroyed buggy after Carol talks him into a significant discount, and all rest up and get ready for the next mission: gaining access to this terrifying bug portal station….