Having received the intel on the GPS location, they arrange transport, using smuggler contacts to drop them off from a low-flying plane, and planning a ride out with a shipping contact of Erika Gwyn’s. After trekking across the shifting, stinking trash island for most of a day, they find a sprawling tent city settlement, labelled as Trashlantis. They see large posses of youth with Ak’s patrolling, seemingly the primary security (aside from the total geographical isolation). They also see evidence of aid shipments: UN and other stencils on crates, tents, etc. The town seems divided up amongst different national groups, almost all of them seemingly climate refugees from island nations and coastal regions. However, the camp seems unified under the security, which seems almost exclusively Carribean.
They eventually find their way to a food stand where they are greeted by a man who introduces himself as Assumpcio, & says that they are expected. He leads them out the back of the cafe shack, into a series of tunnels bored and fused into the heaping plastic mounds of the island. They travel a decent ways, eventually entering into a larger space filled with people workling at terminals and scratch-built ‘decks, while a fused, translucent plastic partition blocks them off from a humming server room. They are greeted by an older male ork, who introduces himself as one of the admin’s of Jackpoint and thanks them for coming.
He tells them that they are being hosted by a group called the Square Circle, a Carribean-based data piracy group. They had begun setting up op’s here as a backup when the new matrix protocols were announced, and were receptive to being one of JP’s hosts, for a time at least, to mutual benefit. To the job at hand: JP’s inner circle has traced the persecution (& death) of members to a backdoor very sneakily established late in Fastjack’s days. It was skillfully planted, seemingly with the aid of some technomancers, but not by Jack. They checked out all the new and recent additions, and a few stood out, a few of whom are relevant to the team. TY checked out, Lodestone seems legitimately dead (and the betrayals outlasted him), and that leaves Rooster.
JP wants them to check into Rooster’s current whereabouts and activities, and either check him off as a suspect, or confirm their suspicions. They track him to LA, where he has been healing up since the Gilgamesh Initiative job in which he lost all of his limbs. They get in with their gear, with the aid of Sonora, and she gives them some intel on Rooster, including a bar he frequents- he seems slow-moving and stiff, but still gregarious as ever, and has been telling many tales of the team’s adventures (although all couched in his usual fairy-tale skin). TY decides to stay in the car, fearing his easy manipulation, while SP sneaks into bar, CI makes the approach, and Ortega provides close support (as Rooster hopefully doesn’t know him).
TY parks nearby, and the team enters, although Ortega is quickly kicked out for possession of a taser. He rejoins TY in the car. SP surveils and begins hacking into Rooster’s comm(s) while CI makes the approach- Rooster is thrilled to see him and regales him with tales and anecdotes, but also connives to get his true purpose out of him, while bringing him to the back room. SP sneaks in alongside them, but bumps Rooster, alerting him, and more importantly, the other man in the room, who SP id’s as the man who has been paying Rooster’s bills: Thom Harrow. Harrow says that he regrets things went like this, as they had hoped to recruit some of the team, and tags CI with a playing card, hard- he seems to share a skillset. SP rushes up to attack with his monofil whip, but misses, and is quickly filled by Harrow’s combat axe. SP goes down, mortally wounded, but once again sees a spirit vision, telling them (in the form of a genie in their ARO game) that they have used their “2nd wish.”
Rooster flees the room, and CI pursues, felling him with a rock, at which time the crowd turns against him. Harrow rushes in and begins hauling Rooster out, while CI delivers a stirring speech to convince the crowd not to kill him- they don’t turn on Harrow, but they chill out. TY and Ortega race around to the front, just in time to see Rooster get sniped from somewhere, seemingly by a gauss rifle, obliterating his head and upper torso completely. Harrow quickly drops the twitching corpse and dives into a waiting car, which speeds off. TY and Ortega decide not to pursue, and TY drives around back to stay out of the line of fire, while CI quickly rifles Rooster’s pockets (after which another shot annihilates what remains of his torso, leaving essentially no flesh components to his body). Ortega dashes through and grabs SP, who seems remarkably stable, given the horrible wound.
They escape, and TY receives a message from Tobias Cheney, saying only “we’re square- T”, confirming his suspicions as to the ID of the mystery shooter. They report in to JP, and SP hacks the various comms that CI pulled off of Rooster while healing up over most of a week. The comms prove that Rooster was the traitor, although he seems to have planted the backdor unwittingly. However, he sold out Lodestone to people (or dragons?) hunting Order of St George members, in order to save himself (Harrow brokered some sort of deal). He also gave dossiers on a number of JP members and other prominent ‘runners, endangering their lives, and getting some killed. This was a massive betrayal, and the various deckers and techno’s loyal to JP have dedicated themselves to erasing all evidence that Rooster ever existed- the best punishment they can imagine for a man obsessed with his image and stories.
He seems to have been delivering all of this to Harrow, who seems to work for the Dawkins Group, a secretive infowar segment of Horizon. Based on work done on the recovered comms and on tracking Harrow, they believe his branch of DG is operating out of a secret facility in the Mojave. JP is planning an assault, and asks the team to join- they agree, especially after they are told that some JP mages are going to make overtures to the spirits there that told them not to work for Horizon (and to stay out of the Mojave).
Things have also gotten crazier in Denver: Jane & Ehran the Scribe seem to have barely prevented an allout war between Harlequin and Ghostwalker in downtown, which had been brewing through proxies for some time, since GW’s return- Jane thinks it has to do with Harlequin holding a grudge about the woman killed during the Watergate rift closing, which he seems to blame GW for. TY is so relieved to hear from Jane again that he barely even processes the insanity.