With Creep’s fresh memory of the Black Lodge mental cryptographic key, they head straight to the UW campus and meet up with Carol, Elijah and Maggie to begin cracking the journal. Tabasco takes up surveillance on the roof while Carol and Creep help decipher. The rest head back to Chew Gum’s safehouse to meet up with Jaga The Walking Witch, and Chew Gum brings her a UW colored bouquet from the botany department. Dig and Jaga verbally spar a bit as per usual, and Jaga and Creature talk some life philosophy. Dig heads to bed, but then wakes back up to get Jaga to teach him a spell. CG shows Jaga his small arboretum, and she gives some tips for more vibrant life, while allowing for the decay that he needs for his practice.
They all sleep, and compare dreams in the morning- even Creature gets some overflow at this point, and they worry what the sunken city, the avalanche, and the eclipse might portend. They warn the team that something bad may be coming, and then Dig begins crafting a concrete homunculus with their assistance. They notice that there seems to be a huge area detection spell passively scanning Seattle, which they fear is the Black Lodge. They also warn the team about this, but not before it may have effected Tabasco up on the roof- the rest likely are safe inside various magical wards. Iva Linus Hathaway comes and visits Tabasco with some coffee and they discuss experimental arrow design for a while.
Meanwhile, the journal team has made some impressive progress with Creep’s implants and stolen knowledge, Carol’s experience on the metaplanes and Seelie Court, and the overall expertise of Elijah and Maggie. They uncover hints of Black Lodge infiltration of the IOND after the “debacle” in DeeCee. They find out the Keymasters relocated from DC to St Louis, and that the BL has a significant footprint in the ARCHology there, and may be importing metaplanar materials for construction. They find hints of some sort of opposing group of human supremacists called the “Theran Society” who want the Horrors to return to cleanse the world of magic and metahumanity. They get some hints at some other projects and recruitments in progress also.
The team warn Maggie and Elijah about the likely danger, and Maggie seems spooked though Elijah is cavalier as usual. They quickly sell the info to Eletheria, having heard that the Sea Dragon is highly involved in the “Free St Louis” movement and the ARCHology there. Hoping that this will get them clear for the moment, they decide to rest up a bit and see what happens. Before long, they get a call from Margaret Telestrian asking them to break into Chuck Beale’s office and get a little preview of the Free Seattle results before she commits her vote (she claims to be the last holdout to not tell Beale her final stance).
She provides a lot of building schematics and info, as well guard and security info, and offers a bonus if the team does the job immediately, otherwise it needs to get done by the next day. They accept, and Creep slams some drugs to stay with it after the all-nighter. They grab a few more B&E tools, and Dig begins a massive lightning bolt ritual with Tabasco as his spotter. Tabasco heads Downtown and finds a good perch with a view of the government building rooftop and Beale’s office.
Creep gets smuggled onto Council Island again and sneaks to John Abernathy’s chopper, clinging to the bottom with gecko gloves and magnet hand. Creature follows up with ACE, and the dispatcher Wizard and one of the runners Gentry, who xe met at OtherCon, hook xyr up with a courier run to deliver snacks and stims to the KE HTR team on duty at the building. Recognizing that the included Psyche is surely for the building security mage, Creature carefully poisons it without a non-lethal seizure-inducing toxin, to add some distraction. CG uses one of his spirit’s animal control powers to get a couple angry hornets into the snack package as well.
Carol and CG circle the area on GrdiGuide in the van in case backup is needed. Creature parkours the package right up the doors, and gets sent back to the guard room, but told to come straight back out. Xe delivers the package, but the excited KE guards get the included hornets extra riled up in the process. They quickly deal with the distraction, but Creature manages to copy one of their access keycards in the chaos. One of the guards has a PTSD flashback to Chicago and accuses Creature of being a bug, and won’t lower her weapon til the mage confirms that Creature is not a bug. Creature sees that the Psyche is delivered to the mage though- good deal.
Creature exfils, and Creep manages to sneak past the warded door upstairs when it is dropped to let Abernathy and his party in. Beale greets them and brings them down to the big meeting room on the 11th floor. Creep uses the keycard that Creature got to get through the security door onto the 12th floor, and heads towards Beale’s office, avoiding cameras. He just manages to crack the lock and hurriedly leaps over a pressure plate inside the door onto the heavy desk, as the mage has a seizure and triggers a medical response, with a few KE guards rushing onto the floor with a crash kit.
Creep pokes around a bit, having avoided detection, as Creature rejoins the van crew. Creep finds a desk safe, and uses the handprint Kit stole from Beale at the intro gala to bypass the first security level, but biffs it on his first attempt at bypassing the lock. He uses the handprint again to verify his ID and manages to crack the lock on the second try, quickly snapping pics of all the docs in the file folder labelled “Free Seattle”- Beale is old school and uses paper records. He just has time to finish, close the safe, and dive under the desk, as Beale comes up, greeting the KE guards on the way (who seem to have stabilized the mage).
As Beale enters the door, a sniper round takes out a chunk of his selection of nice liquors halfway across the room, and he drops to the floor in panic, luckily not seeing Creep also hiding there. Tabasco gets another anonymous text saying “4 o’clock, 13th floor”, and turns to spot a well-concealed sniper under a tarp on a window washing platform. He sees the sniper fire a round but can’t figure out what it hit- Creep reports no more impacts in the office. Dig uses this opportunity to let off his lightning bolt, and completely destroys the sniper and the platform, sending the remains of both plummeting to the ground far below.
The KE guards quickly usher Beale out of there while covering him, and Creep uses this chance to quickly swing out the shot-out office window, and gecko glove around the corner. Unfortunately, he’s slipping a bit in the rain. CG gets one of his spirits to offer some support, and Carol rapidly launches the VTOL from the van, using all it’s stealth mods to scoop up Creep without triggering the building’s rooftop turrets. The team scatters quickly, though Tabasco stops to see if he can get any info from the fallen platform/sniper, but no such luck. They contact Telestrian with the info, and get paid, and and also sell it all to Annie, as per their agreement.
Tabasco calls Tommy Vermont and asks him to look into the whole sniper thing, and Vermont uses some old KE contacts to get some info. Officially, nothing happened- a rogue lightning bolt killed an unfortunate building maintenance employee. Unofficially, there was a high-powered sniper duel over Downtown today- both snipers were killed, one shot, one by lightning. The one killed by lightning was a merc/assassin named Horza, and the other was an ex-ARES employee named Susan Hayes who’d been on the run since killing her husband (also an ARES employee) during an extraction attempt by another corp. Tabasco is devastated, as he clearly recognizes that this was his mom, though he manages to play it cool with Vermont.
He reports into the team about what he’s determined, and says he’s headed back to his safehouse alone to take some time with it, and that they should do the next run without him. The team tries to talk him out of it, but he says he needs to think a bit. In other assassin news, an Egyptian Old God cultist tried to poison Layli Red Feather, but failed in his attempt, and was later hunted down and killed by Sioux Wildcats trying to leave Seattle, causing a minor diplomatic incident as they Wildcats aren’t supposed to operate outside Council Island. However, it mostly serves to make KE and the UCAS JTF look further incompetent as they didn’t catch the assassin themselves.
The team also hears that Tauren got a team to dig further into Romeo and reveal that he had done some sketchy false flag attacks using human supremacists in the leadup to Prop 23, confirming Tauren’s suspicions. He helped to get Prop 23 passed, but his methods were too fucked. Word of this spreads around, further burning Romeo and blunting the shit he’s been talking on the team. The Mythfits also managed to gain some intel on the Sons of Snohomish and their affiliated clinics in Snohomish, and uncovered disturbing experiments on giants to uncover the source of the “reversion trigger” and try to make it deployable.