Otters aka Roadkill
and reintroducing: Tabasco aka Cholula
The team keeps partying for a bit at the Platinum Zone, though they announce that the party will have to end in the next day or so as stocks are running low and Marv needs to resupply. The team decides it’s time to raid the Shadow spirit farm, get revenge for Iva, and get their Tarot cards back. First though, Chew Gum needs to start setting up a new lodge and prepping a fresh corpse vessel. So they decide to figure out what to do with their safehouses. Since they’ll soon be fighting the Shadow spirits that are the ones who know the locations, they decide to enhance the security (and comforts) of the Hamtramck safehouse and ditch the bolthole in Windsor. Creep flirts a bit with the AI landlord, Rutledge, who seems potentially interested.
Dig inquires again about hiring others to assist with the mission, and this time Ringmaster has some suggestions- he also wants intel on what the Shadow spirits are up to beyond Tarot, if anything. The team winnows down the potentials list and sends out job offers to those who look promising. They call in their favors with Ellis to get some assistance from the Betas/Deso Angels, and hire Old Crow and Sikh Burn with the promise of Tarot card payment, and also SINder and the bounty hunter duo Charlie Foxtrot and Moondog for cash. Walker and her dog Tofu turn them down, not interested in payment and trying to help their community area, and Smoach and Myrryr offer recon/investigative assistance but are not combatants.
Jaga comes along for healing support, and Ringmaster manages to scrounge up a decent van that the team buys to replace their busted one. Cast Iron also hires on for cash, though he seems worried about the dark spirits and says he hasn’t been in the field in a while. The team makes a plan, with Old Crow’s tactical input proving quite useful, and they plan to start the attack late the next day. First, Tabasco decides to take Ellis and Praxis up on their offer of change, and against many on the team’s advice, merges with a Goliath Beetle spirit who they were able to save while it was injured, and who accepted their offer of sanctuary.
Tabasco upon returning, finds that though he still has his own, human, memories, he also has memories of his time amongst a teeming mass in Vhortas, before being pulled through by a shaman to fight in this battle, being injured and separated from the horde, and being approached by an inquiring mind of a type it was previously unfamiliar with. As Tabasco’s new insect half wakes to full sapience for the first time, he finds that he feels he needs a new name, and requests that everyone now call him Cholula. Responses on the team to this development are mixed, but everyone adheres to the name request.
They meet up with their hired support near the farmhouse by Ypsilanti, and see a bat swarm flying back towards town as they approach. Foxtrot and Moondog get creeped out by Cholula and bail on the mission, saying that they know the team is good with the Plat Zone so they won’t make trouble, but they don’t want any part of whatever “this” is, though Cholula tries to explain. Otters opens up with the van HMG on the barn on the property as everyone else approaches, though Cholula and CG both get mind-controlled and fire at each other, luckily missing.
A Wendigo and a mass of what looks like trid zombies pour out of the barn, all badly injured, and Creep hits them with the rocket launcher, along side more fire from Otters in mule drone and van. They cut down the mass quickly, with Sikh Burn and Cast Iron going around and making sure they all stay dead. Dig start watching for mental manipulation while preparing to cut off TacNET access/shut down weapons as needed if so, and intervenes a few times. As they breech into the house, the spirit retreats into the astral, where it comes under attack from dual-natured Cholula and the Betas, Deso Angels, SINder and Old Crow.
The team all manages to shake off the fear that the spirit tries to emanate out, except Castiron, whose bad past experiences with dark spirits sends him fleeing for a time before he regains his composure. The Shadow spirit starts taking damage and is forced to defend itself, as other team members start sneaking inside and reclaiming some of the Tarot they’ve seen scattered around in what appears to be a ritual circle. Otters also manages to shoot and destroy a disturbing obsidian orb that is at the center. This seems to weaken or distract the Shadow spirit momentarily, and also forces a vision of one of the Shadow moons into the mind of CG and Cholula.
They press the attack in the astral, with one of the Deso Angels and one of the Betas killed and the other 2 badly injured, and both SINder and Old Crow flatlined with Jaga desperately trying to keep them alive. Cholula is the last down, not quite able to finish the spirit off, at which point it manifests and Otters one-shots it with the HMG. Jaga asks The Detective to choose healing priority, and they split it up as follows: Dig tries to save Cholula, but it’s dicey and unclear if it will take. Otters loads Old Crow into the VTOL and zips him back to the Plat Zone, which saves his life but harms his magic. And Jaga manages to stabilize SINder, who seems physically ok but mentally scarred by the experience.
Sikh Burn, meanwhile, wildly slashes at wispy shadows in the main house, fearing spirit regeneration (correctly), and Foxtrot and Moondog finally roll back up, Dig having called them back for extra money in a moment of desperation. They help confirm the place is clear, and the team calls in Smoach and Myrryr for investigative help, with CG and others assisting. It seems like the spirit they fought was a Wraith, the Shadow warrior class, and very deadly- S&M are impressed they survived. They got most of the Tarot back, but all the cards with bloody handprints, along with a few others, are missing.
Checking the “zombies” they find that they were seemingly possessed by low-force Shadow spirits, and were being cursorily patched back up/reassembled- so this is where at least some of the bodies have gone. Checking the Wendigo, they find a scarified “Fear the Dark” across her chest, and worry about who might have escaped in that bat swarm. S&M confirm that the second Shadow spirit, likely a Succubus, was recently at the house, but is not currently around/detectable, so seems to have retreated, fled, or just been out. But, for now, victory! They pay everyone out, and head back to the safehouse for the first time in a while to rest.