After completing the chal’han, and getting the lowdown]] on all the synthesized info that Frosty Jane has assembled from the various caches, the team agrees to do one last job together: head to Aztlan, find the fovae, and do whatever they can to destroy the bridges the Horrors are trying to build across. Jane briefs Love and Toff on a modified version of the ritual Dunkelzahn used for similar purposes, which she has put together from cache knowledge (as well as having dealt with a Horror crossing point before). She explains that although unwilling sacrifice is more potent in blood magic, a willing self-sacrifice will be harder for other blood mages to break, given it’s purity of purpose.
Chessick Allens-Whitehill decides to sit this one out, preferring to live to enjoy his fortune, and returns to work at the All-Seeing Eye as well as freelancing for other spots as a sort of gonzo crisis reporter (after some significant cyber upgrades). Chem is crushed to be sidelined, but given his astral sight/sound replacement, he is having hard time adjusting to the perceptual input, and heads to the Ex-Corporate Scientists lab to get fitted with some sensors that should help.
Toast links back up with the team as they begin setting their affairs in order, training for the mission, and gearing up. They are all very suspicious, especially as he is now pretty much all cyber, but he explains that they only managed to save his head, and had to replicate the rest of his abilities as best they could. Toff reads his mind and can only detect the pre-existing magical interference from the nightmare spirit when they were leaving Boston, so they decide to trust him for this job, and then go their separate ways. Gethin considers using her spirit key to flee back to the Fae Realms, but decides to complete the mission first. Toast and Gethin both will all of their stuff to each other in case they don’t make it (unbeknownst to each other). Fentin signs a contract with Saeder-Krupp Heavy Industries to become a fulltime corporate runner, after this job is done, but also gets the news that the last remaining Ro Tain was killed after she attacked an SK facility in France (apparently after Toast told her they were keeping clones there). It seems that Ro believed (true or not) that SK had been using her runs against Renraku Computer Systems’ cloning program to jumpstart a program of their own.
Finally ready, the team heads to Madagascar with Jane, along with a mysterious woman that only Fentin recognizes as Hestaby in human form, to convince the notorious pirate Kane to help them in their mission. Being a longtime hater of all things AZT, he agrees, and they arrange for him to attack a coastal facility to distract some naval elements, and hopefully allow them to sneak in to the country undetected. This part of the plan goes off without a hitch, and they quickly reach the foave site. Unfortunately, they find it guarded by the new AZT/ Ordo Maximus cadre:The Bloodpanthers, vampiric combat-focussed mystic adepts. Hestaby and Jane, through spellcraft, manage to stabilize a crossing point through one of the fovae, and Jane, Toff, Love, and Gethin head through while Hestaby holds it open, and Speed, Fentin, and Toast hold off the Bloodpanthers.
The exterior team decides it’s time to bail after the other team crosses, hoping they will be able to exfiltrate themselves astrally. They try to make for the chopper but get cut off by AZT reinforcements. Speed volunteers to stay behind and hold off the Bloodpanthers while the rest retreat, and Hestaby manages to whisk Toast and Fentin to relative safety in Amazonia through a massively overpowered levitate, which leaves even her stunned and gasping for breath. Speed casts aside her scabbard, no longer needing it, and the last anyone sees of her she is dogpiled by Bloodpanthers while swinging wildly about her with her blade. The three escapees spend a short time in Amazonian detention before Hestaby secures their release through high-powered local friends, and they head off: Fentin to SK, Toast to Cara’Sir, to check in with the Moonlight Thorns, who are distressed to see that all his magic is gone, but his Prince agrees to keep him on in a slightly less-official capacity.
Meanwhile, as the Chasm, Jane and the rest are disturbed to see that one bridge has had significant progress made on it. Toff is quickly overcome by the whispers offering the answers to all mysteries, though not before he tells Jane to kill him if he starts to do anything strange. Love and Gethin hold it together, and Jane begins the modified “Dragonheart” ritual, with Love joining in. Gethin volunteers to sacrifice themself in order to add power. Toff, Love and Gethin are forcibly merged together in Gethin’s heavily-cybered body, and have a brief moment of knowing each other completely before they are all erased, and the magically animated cyberzombie is set to patrol the most intact of the remaining bridges, from where, far in the distance, it can just make out the primary astral bridge, and the figure standing astride it, holding back the coming Horrors. Jane makes her way back to the material plane, wounded and drained. She ensures that some higher-ups in Imperial Japan know of, and understand, Speed Tanaka’s sacrifice, which is deemed sufficient to erase the stain on her family’s honor, and they are given their title and ancestral holdings back.
As 2078 continues, Toast has been doing any assassinations he can, while also doing odd ‘dirty’ jobs here and there for the more liberal Princes in Tir Tairngire. He also engages in some further O’Connor investigations, and some anti- Brokerage X activity. He feels a strange urge to compile notes on all these activities and forward them to a commcode he has memorized from time to time. He and Fentin also contribute some of their payday (Jane provides!) to the memories of their dead former team-mates. They pay for a bunch of supplies, including the crazy repellers which they’ve been working on at the lab, into Boston, along with a statue of Gethin. Toff’s will left his assets to the Library at Alexandria, which adds a “Christopher Toff Reading Room”, with a cozy fireplace, some comfortable chairs and benches, and many shelves of rare tomes, scrolls, and tablets. Toast inherits Gethin’s spirit key, as well as her share of the lab, and rewrites his will so that, should he die, his 2/3rd’s share can never be sold to a corp, although anything developed there can be sold to the public.
Chem, getting used to his sensors, hires on an alchemist at the lab as the latest staff addition, and begins dabbling a bit himself, pushing the limits of his new astral senses. Chem and Fentin both begin to have strange dreams of a circle of figures in black and tan robes chanting around a ritual mark. They confer with each other, and Toast, and decide this is likely the vaunted Group X, coming to collect as promised. However, they confirm that Toast contains no parts of original Toast, as he has not been targeted, meaning any bio samples they had are useless for a ritual link to him. Fentin reports all of the happenings in AZT to SK, as well as doing a major writeup on Jackpoint (gaining full membership), and gets SK to “officially” report his death to his parents. He then calls in all his favors to get transferred to Zurich Orbital, and begin working for SK’s demi-GOD, figuring that Group X won’t be able to get to him ritually outside of a manasphere, which will give him time to look into them.
Chem seeks tech and alchemical solutions at the lab, while doing his own investigations, as well as seeking out the remnants of the Brotherhood of Flesh in Metropole, hoping to learn more about their abilities, and possibly gain some magical protection. Toast promises to report back anything he finds about the mysterious assassins. Chessick globetrots, reporting from a variety of battlefields, warzones, refugee crises, z-zones, and the like. His following grows significantly, though he sometimes misses the camaraderie of the old days.