The team peruses the dossier from Vogel on the drive in, and sees an impressively militarized city before them. ARES troops, many in what looks to be nearly brand new armor, guard checkpoints through the 8 meter high border wall (lined with bio-fiber), and a state of (soft) martial law has been declared- by entering the city, they are told they are agreeing to be subject to immediate corporate corporal punishment at any security forces discretion. However, once they enter the city itself the mood seems less dire. The populace seems to (mostly) be accepting that this is merely a criminal round-up and sweep and ARES joint forces training exercise.
The team drives around a bit to get a feel for the city- their new SINs seem to work just fine, though they do get thoroughly checked at the Zone crossings near the city core, which seems to be where ARES is preparing to launch and contain Operation: Latvian Gambit. Creature, Tabasco and Creep leverage their memberships on Jackpoint and ShadowSea to get invites to d.matrix and Frozen Shadows, the two more local boards, and get some additional insight into the various neighborhoods and where to find some safehouse options. They head to Vendor’s Row and meet Weathernight at an excessively generic sandwich shop that disconcertingly only sells noodles.
She’s doing a remarkable job at a light disguise to make her look like she could plausibly be working for a different corp, without being so obvious as to attract attention. Once they are in the restaurant, she shoos the cook away (after he delivers some mediocre food to Chew Gum), and gets down to business. Vogel has determined that as well as himself, Otto Hendricks also appears to be vying with Damien Knight for power within ARES. Worse yet, Vogel has detected the working of a secret 4th faction, but has no idea who they are, or what their agenda is. Given this, he needs the team to extract certain promising executives, to make sure they remain safe and intact during the transition and his ascent to power.
Weathernight gives the team the first 3 names, and limited dossiers on each, as well as her take on where each should be extracted for maximum chance of success. She offers a large payday given the difficulty of the task as well as the short timeline. The team agrees, gets some money upfront on Carol’s suggestion, and heads out. They scope out the safehouse that Weathernight suggested be used as a stash spot for the 3, and plan to get their own personal safehouse in the Blight. They decide to do the targets in reverse order of expected difficulty, and go after the one they need to grab on the go first.
They head over to Grosse Pointe to check out his house- a decent shoreside mini-mansion. Spotting a groundskeeper walking the dogs, they decide to kidnap the pets as a way in, while Creep sneaks into the house to retrieve a ritual sample of the target. Creature buys some raw meat, and Dig, in bird form, flies by the dogs to rile them up while CG uses control animals to get them running full tilt. CG also uses a powerful confusion on the groundskeeper, causing them to drop the leashes as they stop understanding gravity. The dogs continue racing after the meat/bird and leap into the waiting van, where Dig transforms back into human form and eats the meat while staring the dogs in the eyes to cow them into submission, which he succeeds at.
Meanwhile, avoiding cameras and alarms, Creep has carefully snuck into the house. He finds evidence of a recent divorce or split of some sort, and also retrieves a solid ritual sample from the main bathroom sink drain. He slips back out and into the van, and the team heads for Hamtramck, having heard there is a good pawn shop there which will sell illicit gear to those in the know. Reaching the Trading Post, Creep uses the appropriate password from d.matrix, and gets the drone attendant to get him a directional jammer, some longhaul, and a few other supplies. They drop Dig off at Kiss Me Quick (the stash spot), and head Downtown to wait for the target to get off work.
Dig makes a ritual circle and uses the ritual sample Creep got to locate the target, which is good since Carol and Creature were fooled by a disguise that ARES was using to try to trick any observers. Carol posts a well-composed “found dogs” message, and quickly gets a call back from the target. With some confusing hinting back and forth, the target signals cooperation with the extraction on the promise of his dogs being returned to him unharmed. With the correct target info, Carol frantically tries to keep up with the target’s convoy amidst heavy Downtown traffic. They lose them for a tense moment, but regain them just after the Zone crossing checkpoint. Pulling up alongside, they trigger their planned ambush near the port, figuring they won’t get a better chance, as it’s the lowest security area along the route.
CG causes the KE officer on the lead bike to have an accident while massively magically accelerating the first car behind him, which crushes both officer and bike, while the engine whines and the car slews out of control. Creature hits car 3 with a lube grenade, which causes it to crash into car 2 (carrying the target) when car 2 slows to avoid car 1. All three end up colliding. Creep pops smoke and thermal smoke grenades, as Carol rushes out of the team van to car 2. He pulls the target out and chucks a flashbang in, closing the door, as the slightly stunned guards struggle to respond. Creature launches a chloroform grenade at the guards as they all exit their vehicles, and CG uses accident on them now that they are visible, effectively preventing them from returning fire.
Carol races them out of there, while Creep flips the plate and false transponder chip to new ID’s. They swing back by Hamtramck, and grab some body bags and slab, finding the target and his dogs all pretty annoying. They drop the target off with Dig, and Tabasco stays at Kiss Me Quick as well to keep an eye on things. They slab the target and put him in the bag, with another jammer pointed at him as well, and keep him inside DIg’s ritual circle to block magic tracking. Dig takes some longhaul to keep this going for a few days while the rest of the team grabs the other targets.
CG calls in a favor with the Seoul’Pa fixer Sung Yi to do some hacking subterfuge, and she pings a few times at various locales in Chicago with a spoofed ID meant to look like the target, hopefully pulling ARES’ attention that direction. Dig and CG both ask around a little about potential contacts in the Red/Necro magic fields and don’t find much initially but get some good leads. Tabasco considers lurking around town as he likes to do to get the local crime scene report. But for now, the team (minus those at KMQ) head to the Blight and get a cheap/anonymous coffin for the night, with Creep staying in the van outside.
They wake up the next day, and plan to do some club recon, in prep for snatching the second target that night, while also looking into the corporate housing that they have to grab the 3rd target from.