Kitten Caboodle aka Kit
and a guest appearance from: Foghairal ke’Coille
Having rested up and restocked after the explosive revelations (and explosions) of their last run, they stock up on gear, and start prepping to investigate ARES’ possibly bug-infested Daedelus station. They contact a hireable smuggler in the Space Rescue Service, and also pay Orbital DK to do some recon hacking for them, confirming that only drone deliveries have arrived at the station on the automated schedule for the last week, and that noone has been seen leaving during that time. They also take stock of some of their various paydata but decide to hold onto it for now. Kit plots out some orbital dynamics, and they pay the SRS smuggler to get some armor mods for them in order to make themselves as invisible as possible on their approach. They also craft some jury-rig javelins for ThinkTank.
Boarding the SRS craft, it takes them in a loop out towards Darkside Junction, and they all jump out, using Void Black, Ruthenium, or Electrochromic armor mods to blend in with the background, and following Kit’s carefully plotted plan, all manage to make their landings on the ARES station surface without bouncing off into the black. Carol and Kit, with some of the more advanced stealth mods, sneak up to the single exterior airlock, and Kit loops the camera feed there, although it seems to be powered down currently.
The airlock seems to be running in an emergency power mode, and Kit manages to bypass it with nanites. They get inside and find an orderly stack of delivery crates, seemingly the automated deliveries they’d spotted in ODK’s hack recon. Deciding they might as well forage, TT pops open the crates with the crowbars, stressing out some on the team who are worried about traps and defenses. Luckily, nothing springs out at them, and they find a pair of ARES laser pistols, as well as some KEV ammo and pheromones- seemingly either stolen or copied from AZT tech in Chicago, and some more generic resupply stock- parts, garden/greenhouse equipment, calorie rich and dense nutrient blocks.
They explore further, and find the that area of the station they are in is an outer shell fully surrounding and concealing an inner core, accessible through 4 interior airlocks. Aradia can detect a faint trace of magic coming from within. The area they’re in has been vented, and they see that security bars have sealed all 4 airlocks so they could only be opened from the outside. They find a corpse who looks to be early in a hybrid transformation but has killed themselves with a laser pistol, burning out the battery and slagging the gun by taping the trigger down, which likely caused an automated alert to deliver a resupply.
Using her new psychometry ability, Aradia gets the general story: this figure appears to have escaped whatever disaster struck the inner area, and made it out here to trigger the station shutdown to prevent an outbreak, but was too far gone to save themselves. Worried about what they might find, they cautiously enter the center area. Foggy especially is a bit concerned, as she has gained so much valuable knowledge (as well as artifacts) which would be lost with her death.
They press on, and find an aggressive, overwhelming amount of growth- it seems that generations of careful breeding and the introduction of awakened plants has allowed ARES to keep a stable manasphere alive in space, as Vogel had suggested, but that without maintenance the plants are taking over. Aradia pauses to take a Quicksilver picture, but using some mana seems to attract more hyrbrid flesh forms- fairly mindless but dangerous. They manage to take the first few out, and see that they are wearing shredded ARES Space uniforms.They investigate further and find a trashed lab with all the servers wrecked pretty thoroughly, and a digital whiteboard note saying that the Shaman was corrupted, seemingly from the laser suicide person.
Using Carol’s incredible senses and Aradia’s assensing, they decide to carefully ambush as many hybrids as they can throughout this area before continuing in to yet another airlocked central area. This mostly goes well, except for Kit, who gets sliced up pretty bad and luckily has patch kits and know-how to fix their suit. Between corpses they find (a combo of laser and bug wounds) and hybrids they kill, Kit thinks they’ve accounted for the whole crew complement, aside from the Shaman. TT breaks through the security seals to the inner chamber using the fluid motion ram, and they enter, finding a man in ARES armor standing atop a floating staircase, just on the other side of what seems to be a stable portal.
Acting quickly on instinct, Carol tells the figure that he is here from ARES and asks for a report. The figure seems to believe him once Carol drops his name, and breaks down what happened here- the station Shaman was corrupted by whispers from the portal, which connects to Vhortas. The Shaman then began corrupting other and sabotaging the station, too quickly and subtly to be effectively stopped. He also stole the data and trashed the lab before fleeing into the portal, seemingly thinking it a likelier method of escape that tightly monitored space flight. However, the figure explains that he managed to hunt the Shaman down and eliminate him. He passes over a flash drive with the station data on it for Carol to bring back to corporate.
He also tells Carol to close the portal and tell ARES that he and the other Project: Pyro survivors will continue their work as long as they survive. He explains that the Excalibur wasn’t a total failure after all, and complements Carol on having helped design a solid manaweapon, and tells the tale of how he and other Firewatch “volunteers” were transformed in such a way as to allow them to exist as scouts and assassins on the insect plane, but that this prevents them from ever returning to the material plane without evanescing. He asks them to tell Ellis that he is sorry, before fading back into the wispy surface of the portal. The team pushes the KEV ammo and pheromone crate inside before heading out, in case he or others come looking for resupply.
Kit hyper-oxygenates the air from the outer ring, and Aradia use one of the lasers to light the inner area on fire. They hang around for a bit until Aradia confirms the manasphere and portal are dead and gone using the Quicksilver camera. They decide to stay radio dark and leap free before calling for a ride, so Kit plots another trajectory out, and they grab the remaining crates of supplies to use as barter with their SRS smuggler. Leaping free of the station, they manage to get in a slightly higher stationary-ish orbit, and call for “rescue” a bit later. They get picked up, negotiate fees, and head back to Artemis base on Luna.
They start taking some group walks outside to debate what to do, and for now decide to trade some paydata to ODK to gain membership on the Asgard Data Haven, as they seem to have lots of useful space info. They also start perusing the flash drive, which has a LOT of dangerous info on it. Also, Kit insisted on rescuing two plants from the inner area, so they need to decide what to do with those as well.