After Locke’s tragic death, Chew Gum takes some time to compose an epic poem in their memory, and also reports to the team the body of the Hands of Fate assassin in their safehouse has some weird magical traces that could use a closer look. Otters heads out to clear her head as well, and gets busy helping Moreau get all the rescued biodrones settled and rehoused. The remainder of the team starts looking into what’s up with this assassin, and enlist the assistance of the PPI’s Smoach and Myrryr, uncovering that as well as Myrryr’s skills at using bird messengers, Smoach is a technomancer, so they have some unique comms abilities in the present crisis. They convince S&M to come to the Tin Can, since the team’s group mobility is limited in Otters’ absence.
They trade notes with S&M about Hands of Fate, Roderick Kensington, and the Tarot, with Tabasco semi-accidentally revealing waaay too much info about the team’s knowledge, involvement, and possession of the Tarot. S&M are totally hooked by the mystery, however, and agree to help out. The team loans them one card to help their investigation while S&M try to track down Kensington, who they fear may be dead. The team give S&M one of their remaining radios.
Meanwhile, Creep checks in (awkwardly) with the radio operator at the Plat Zone, and hears that the Windsor runner crew lead by Rose left a message for them- they have something they think the team will want, and told them to get in touch when possible. Knowing that Rose is also a TM, Tabasco figures they can get ahold of them once in Windsor, and Dig wants to head to his magical lodge at the Bolthole there anyway to try to use a ritual to track down the Hands of Fate.
Dig flies down there in bird form, while Tabasco is piloted down in the VTOL, setting up one more radio at the Bolthole as well to keep comms up with Creep in Otter’s absence. Creep joins them, also via VTOL after finishing his comms checkins. Dig casts the ritual with Tabasco as the focus, with a spirit assisting. They quickly spot 4 individuals, fairly close by, thinking about the Eclipse card, that they know Kensington possessed. They scout the rough area the thoughts popped up from, and with some intel from S&M over the radio, find out that it is an obscure physical documents collection/private library called Run and Sollars.
Tabasco also calls up the Windsor crew, and they trade them the final radio for the items they found that they thought the team would want- maps of new bug tunnels recovered from Hendrick’s former north Windsor stronghold! The Windsor crew says they’re looking to set something up on Belle Isle proper once the fires go out from the wrecked ARES airbase, and is doing some preliminary scouting. They once again affirm that they prefer to get paid, but thought this was too important of intel not to share, and trust the team more than the Irregulars at the moment, as a somewhat known quantity.
S&M also report back that they found Roderick Kensington murdered deep in some toxic woods in the Auburn Blight. He had been strung up between 2 trees, and repeatedly shallowly cut, and likely bled to death over hours, though whoever did it didn’t stick around. A bloody handprint is smeared on his chest, likely in his own blood, and his stuff is trashed. No sing of his Tarot card or his notes on the Tarot (or the team), also. They say they need to do more analysis at a lab, away from the toxic magic zone.
The team then heads over to scout the private library, and Creep sneaks into the massive vents on the old building. He spots 4 individuals consulting documents, with 2 librarians occasionally bringing more over. He ID’s one of them as the leader, though their insignia, such as it is, is subtle and not obviously corp, merc or gang. Dig bribes one of the librarians to let him in the front door, but the leader of the group of 4 sees through his illusory clothing, as do some of the others- and wondering why a naked old man with an eyepatch, collar, and rocky deposits projecting from his skin just wandered in, decide to take a closer look.
The leader flips down some goggles, and tells the other 3 that Dig “has some traces on him” and to grab him. The 3 rush over to dog pile Dig, which they do, but he shifts to a cockroach and escapes before they can inject him with…. something. Creep takes out the leader with a couple shots, but not before the leader uses some enchanted knucks to badly hurt Dig’s spirit. The other 3 flee after Tabasco badly injures one of them, after breaking down the front door with a crowbar. Tabasco manages to slip a tracker on the injured guy as they flee, and follows at a distance.
The dwarf librarian is very upset by all this, and berates Creep and Dig, who shifts backs to human form to loot the leaders corpse, and grab a bunch of the documents they were looking at. The dwarf seems to be calling in backup, so they leave a little money for the damage caused, and flee. Tabasco tracks the fleeing 3 back to the same building that the Bolthole is in (Yong-Dundas Long Storage), and finds they have a smaller unit a few floors up from the team’s garage- popular safehouse spot apparently. The 3 zap his bug before dashing into the safehouse, seemingly just as a precaution, not because they were aware of it, so it’s good he also kept eyes on. Creep hangs back and spots a team of steampunk-looking runners who show up to secure the library. He hasn’t seen them before, meaning they weren’t at the big Plat Zone meeting, so who are they?
Creep and Dig rejoin him, and Dig magically looks inside. They seem to be packing up their op, and discussing next steps. They say that the intel from “Fivecoats” was right, and that more than just the Eclipse card is in play locally. One of them is packing maps and other material from the walls into a hard case while the other treats the wounded 3rd man. Unfortunately, they have a glowmoss strip over the door, which Dig’s spell activates, and they go into overdrive since they know someone is onto them.
Creep shoots through the door, but misses, and almost gets tagged with both barrels of a shotgun in response, before killing the wounded guy who was using it. Tabasco dodges a full auto burst and stuns one guy with a narcoject arrow, while Dig’s spirit tries to put out the fire the 3rd guy starts to destroy their documents inside. That guy starts Dig’s spirit on fire with a phosphorous grenade , so Dig dismisses the spirit, not wanting it to suffer, and kills that guy with a massive lightning bolt.
Tabasco makes a quick choice and hauls the KO’ed survivor out, letting all the doc’s burn, and the team vacates the hall as some fire protection shutters slam down and heavy duty ventilation kicks in. They head a massive lightning bolt crack down out of the sky somewhere to the west- it doesn’t seem related to them at the moment but does seem odd. They retreat to their unit with the captive, and wake him back up after restraining him. Tabasco tries to intimidate him and totally fails. Creep and Dig have a much better time just having a pretty normal convo with him, and trading some intel after promising to let him go. It turns out these guys are from a group called the Shifting Pyre, who are trying to destroy the Tarot, as an evil outside influence from the metaplanes.
They seem to view spirits and everything else metaplanar as a threat to the sanctity of Earth, though not opposed to magic in and of itself. This guy is just a street level “Dealer”, the leader who they killed at the library was a “Cutter” (mid-management) and this guy doesn’t know who gives the Cutters their intel, outside of whoever “Fivecoats” is. However, it seems like Shifting Pyre doesn’t like Hands of Fate either, and says they’re some kind of dark possession spirit who want the cards for themselves- exactly the kind of danger that means the cards should be destroyed.
Deciding this guy knows too much, Creep shoots him in the head and kills him with no warning. They decide they better clear out of the Bolthole just in case, and Dig dismantles his magical lodge as Creep sprays C-squared all around. Tabasco then thinks to maybe just call the landlord and see if they’re cool or not.A static-y image of a woman called Rutledge answers, and charges them extra for the damage but otherwise doesn’t seem too bothered, explaining that the team is lucky they did this in a low demand time. She seems like she might be an AI. Dig starts setting his lodge back up, bummed that he wasted 8 days by taking it down….
The team all returns to the main safehouse after resting one night in the Bolthole and not healing very well there. They take the next day off, mostly just conferring with S&M about the nature of the Hands of Fate (Shadow spirits? something worse?), and getting the autopsy results from Roderick Kensington: someone had used some kind of magic to wipe his mind, and turn him into a Coimeidiai, or something similar, which is what caused his burnout, and likely his prophetic ability and mental instability as well. Interesting….. Dig examines the documents that the Shifting Pyre were examining, and finds that they were looking into possible magical intersections and power sites, as well as any rumors to lost collections of arcana that might have disappeared in Crash 2.0. He then return the docs to the library, anonymously, along with a further payment in way of apology.
On a few nights of Radio Free Detroit, they hear that an engineering PHD named Ronnie Griggs has shared some vibration sensing tech to help warn people of bugs tunneling, after hearing of the deadly assault on the Second Chance enclave. The Plat Zone, Tin Can, and elsewhere are building and distro-ing as many as they can to try to keep people safe, as well as trying to get them down to an easy mobile scale so less of their patrols while disappear into bug tunnels. With this new tech coming out, and more (deeply unpopular) “tunnel rat” missions occurring, the bugs seems to be pulling back a bit to the central hive under Dowtown, with the ALPHAS more of an above ground threat, day to day.
Also, that huge lightning bolt apparently fried a UCAS Spec Ops mage who was trying to lift the magical cloud cover to get intel out, and perhaps in response, the UCAS government has announced that the Army III Corps has been fully mobilized and is head to Detroit to pacify the local situation “by any means necessary”…. eep!