Otters aka Roadkill
Upon emerging from the tunnels and regrouping, the team finds that the Desolation Angels had managed to hold back a larger ALPHA assault, though a few got past, and they suffered some casualties. The injured and unconscious on the team get hauled to the triage center in the basement and treated, while the rest merely rest up. When everyone awakens, Praxis offers Tabasco the chance to join up with Ellis and them as a full time bug hunter but he turns it down for now. The team then gathers and begins discussing what to do with the info they have. Lacking some situational context, they report in to Ringmaster and Rifleman.
Rifleman thanks them for the mapping data and tells them that the Irregulars were able to make some good raids with it, though in response the tunnels have been flooded with some kind of modified Seven-7, making it very dangerous to operate underground for the moment. Which has also made the ghouls and BETAS/Deso Angels even more valuable allies. He leaves them with Ringmaster to discuss how to get paid.
Ringmaster tells them that there’s a large bounty for proof of Hendricks’ death, but it is through ARES, so he’d have to use a series for cutouts to get it, which would eat into the payday. They could also go to Vogel, though the pay would likely be less, but it would allow him to make some moves ahead of ARES knowing of the power vacuum underground. In the end, the team fills Ringmaster in, and then sells the info to Ellis, in order to let her make some moves herself for her new faction. They get significantly less pay but tighten their bonds with Ellis.
They then try to call home to make sure Iva is ready for incoming repair work, but noone picks up at the safehouse! Otters flies Tabasco up there in the VTOL and does some surveillance on the way- looks like bugs are falling back to Downtown fully, as are ARES forces as mercs and Irregulars try to kill ALPHAS and save civilians- the big battle may be reaching a finale! On reaching the safehouse, they find the entrances covered with magical vines, but no other obvious issues, though they can’t get in.
Dig flies up in bird form to join Tabasco as Otters drives the rest up in the van, carefully, to avoid combat encounters. Tabasco inquires with Zennia, but she says part of what they pay for is privacy, plus the neighborhood seems kind of edgy and post-combat themselves. Chatting further, it turns out there were some desperate bug breakouts, followed by the poison gas, and though they were contained, there were some local casualties and noone has seen Jaga- unusual but she keeps odd hours and wanders a lot.
The team, recognizing Jaga’s green magic as the source of the vines, manages to communicate their good intents and is allowed in past the magic barrier, after CG slips through and reports it looks like a major brawl took place inside. There is a lot of blood, Dig’s golem is shattered, and CG’s lodge has been desecrated, seemingly by shadow magic. They find a badly injured Jaga in a seed pod that seems to have preserved her, and Dig manages to heal her with a massive spell.
Questioning her, they find out that Iva seems to have been mind-controlled into letting the Hands of Fate into the safehouse and guiding them to the Tarot cards. By the time Jaga realized what was happening, they were already fighting the golem- they came in concealed and under a large area silence effect, making it extra creepy, but she says there were multiple metahumans and at least two massive shadow spirits in the astral. Quickly analyzing the scene before fleeing, they see at least 5 distinct blood traces- likely Iva (who is missing), Jaga, and 3 others.
Most of the blood seems to have come from one individual who looks to have been sacrificed to ruin CG’s lodge. The team flees back to the Platinum Zone, since Dig and Tabasco are both still badly injured, and they pay to get their armor fixed there. They rest again, and discussing next steps decide to hire Smoach and Myrryr to look into this further, and also make sure they didn’t get attacked too. S&M seem glad to hear from the team, their office was ransacked but they had taken precautions and their card is safe. They agree to investigate, and suggest that based on HOF SOP, Iva may still be slowly dying somewhere, if it isn’t already too late. While starting their investigation at the safehouse, they find a sketch of the 10 of Blades in Iva’s area, altered to have her face, and suggest the team think of places she might be. They head north to check the spot where they found Roderick.
It occurs to the team that they haven’t checked the bolthole, and they call into the radio there, hearing what sounds like knife actions and blood dripping. Tabasco insists on being flown down there immediately, with Dig accompanying in bird form, masking himself as best he can, worried about a trap. Tabasco rushes in, but unfortunately seems to have fallen under a dark influence and finds himself compelled to shoot the suspended and badly cut up Iva with a white phosphorous arrow, surely killing her. He still tries to apply a trauma patch, but lights himself on fire in the process. The team triggers the narcoject in his auto-injector, which they had added in case of mind control, and Otters rigs his body out of there back into the VTOL.
They call the landlord and have another humorous convo where she seems fine with their misadventures so long as they pay for the damage, as the rental market is in a current slump due to the crisis. They say they’ll get back to her but arrange for ghoul-based body disposal once the fire goes out. Knowing that Tabasco won’t be able to handle what he did (even though it wasn’t his fault), the team comes up with a lie- Iva was already dead, and Tabasco lit the unit on fire in anger, and asked to have his memory (and the footage) erased.
Otters calls up Howell, who helped her forget some of her past in Florida, and he provides an intro to a local dealer/info broker named Stanli the Candyman. Howell warns Dig that Stanli is forgetful but loves setting traps. Dig approaches carefully, avoiding various dangerous and deadly traps, and has an odd convo with Stanli, who seems to have started smoking some of the laës while waiting for Dig to arrive. He sells him a vial of the injectible variety and also some other drugs, and they does Tabasco, back at the Plat Zone for now til they figure out what to do re: safehouses.
Dig proposes that they can’t let themselves be bullied, and keeps almost giving up the lie to Tabasco, but Tabasco seems willing enough to go along with it that they all manage to keep it together. Eventually, everyone gets talked into Dig’s plan, which is to hunt down the Hands of Fate/shadow spirit and get their Tarot cards back. Jaga, Dig and CG do a massive ritual to track them down, with The Detective being flown around Detroit in the VTOL as the spotter. They eventually track them to a dilapidated farmhouse way outside of town near Ypsilanti.
Not wanting to rush into an incredibly dangerous situation, they start making lists of necessary gear and the like. Meanwhile, Tabasco heads out to Metal Maniacs where he gets hand razors installed and pays one of the gangers there to buff him like Iva used to. They accidentally trigger his orgasm switch while doing so, which is a weird experience for him. Creep hides the remaining 2 tarot cards (sealed up) in his leg waste compartment, and heads up north to try to get his parachute back from the jailbreak mission.
When he arrives, he sees that new go-gangers have taken over the whole area around the Blight, and the jail is badly burnt down. He chats with some Ancients, including the 2 the team rescued, and they confirm that anything flammable at the jail is long destroyed. Oh well. One of the Ancients, who seems magical, warns Creep that some kind of dark spirit is pursuing him, and gives him some tips on how to ditch it. He accepts a ride from them back to the north edge of the NGZ, and hides out near the nuke detonation site for a while to ditch astral tracing, then sneaks back to the Plat Zone, where he gets a biopocket installed to hide their remaining few major arcana from astral sight.
The team continues to go back and forth on whether to cash the ARES bounty before it’s too late, since CG gathered some bio-samples of Hendricks’ exploded corpse, with Dig adamantly for it, Tabasco adamantly opposed (ARES killed his parents, as he says) and the rest of the crew vacillating between. However, they need to gear up for this shadow spirit raid….