The team collects themselves after the brutal beating they took in the insect hive. They are in the private clinic provided by Ivan’s new friends, a much more upscale, but also secretive and impersonal, place than Doc Todd’s. However, they find that they now have access to gene and nano-tech, as well as deltaware, and some of them take advantage. Ivan, ever mysterious, refuses to reveal the true identity of the skin note group to the team, although he is now an official member. He also has his hands full managing the slice of ex- Black Shadows turf that One Shot Wade gave him.
After leaving the hospital, Tobias and UB! agree to work together, under Ivan, to produce some consistent income for the team by cutting and dealing drugs through his turf. Ivan also has some useful bonuses for the team, now that he has turf. They have free access to street doc healing and a number of safehouses through the gang, as well as being able to call on gang assistance occasionally. Tobias and UB! get some bulk uncut street drugs and set to work. Tobias also brings up the possibility of KE ‘policing’ their turf- they’ll look the other way locally while the PC stir up trouble in LoneStar areas to help KE get more contracts.
HCB pays off some of his jetpack loan, and hears from the Yakuza that their list of possibly infested people to kill is not ready yet. K talks to Madame Gavral and Arlen Thompson, and finds out that he will be able to become a second level initiate after completing the astral quest to destroy the hive on the insect plane, but that they need more time to prepare the ritual. K also purchases a second sustaining focus. So, everyone agrees to do the job for KE/Elton Massey and check out Heliopolis, which seemed to be where the tunnel that Ivan found in the insect hive lead. Disturbingly, Heliopolis went completely offline a few days after the team entered the hopsital, and no-one has been in communication since. Last anyone heard, all was well, and then everything cut out.
So, they want the team to go check it out. They agree, and sally forth, after Thankyou pilfers a van. K, rocking two foci, is invisibly flying above the van with ease. There seems to be some internal drama in the team as both Tobias and HCB attempt to assert a leadership role, now that Ivan is semi-retired from running. Thankyou feels akward amidst the squabbling. He also feels stuck. He got sent here with a one-way ticket and can’t afford the steep fee to get back to Africa, so it looks like he’ll have to cooperate with these lunatics for now.
As they approach Heliopolis, Massey calls Tobias and tells him that there is a drone cordon established around the town, which will let the team pass, but should hopefully prevent anyone exiting without approval. He also gives Tobias some secret info. The van pulls up to the gates, and sees the parking lots mostly empty, the gates flung open, and the guards absent. They enter on foot, cautiously. Innumerable small beetles scatter at their approach. Not seeing any signs of life, HCB follows his nose towards the main drag, where they discover massive corpse bonfires, and signs of street fighting.
They go the Red Delta, the bar attached to the Hathor temple, to look for Kano. They find the door barricaded, and after forcing entrance, find the former inhabitants massacred inside. K guesses that one or more spirits were summoned inside of the barricaded bar, and the people were unable to escape. Tobias and UB! begin raiding the shelves for liquor. As UB! leaves, he is knocked prone by a powerful shot from an unseen sniper. A voice warns over a PA system that this was a warning, and tells the team to come into the open, hands raised. They comply, except Tobias, who is confident that he is well concealed.
The voice is coming from the Meshkhenet temple (the Goddess of Ka, aka fate), and after convincing the people therein that they are not bugs, the team gains access (past some bug sniffing dogs, and a man K id’s as a mage). They get the lowdown: everything was fine in the city up until two days ago, when comms suddenly shut down, and the bugs came out. They killed many of the people of the town, while those that could fled, probably to nearby settlements- most probably assumed it was a civil war again, as the bug’s human allies struck before any spirits manifested. Once the bugs appeared, they established some kind of barrier around the town, which won’t let anyone out, and blocks all communication.
The 4 dozen or so people in this temple, and any survivors still alive in Ra’s temple down the street, are the only non-infested humans left, as far as they know. They’ve been burning corpses, to prevent their takeover or use by the bugs, as the bugs have been seen hauling away bodies (some still alive) to points unknown. However, the bugs seemed to originate from the Thoth temple, so that seems like a good bet. Last night, the Meshkhenet temple was miraculously not attacked, but there were sounds of heavy fighting from Ra’s temple, and the people in Meshkhenet temple are worried that they may have succumbed.
The team decides to do a recon and possible rescue to the Ra temple, before heading over to Thoth. They dash down the street, feeling exposed, and find the door of Ra’s temple blown open from within. HCB smells it, and identifies the explosion as caused by a large fertilizer bomb of some sort. They enter, and find, amidst the debris, evidence that the bugs had tunneled up from inside, and the defenders seem to have set off the bomb to try to close the tunnel. The team heads to the higher levels after warning their new friends down the street about the tunneling. They find drag marks, and bloody clawings in the walls, as if the bugs had been hauling people down the stairs while they struggled against them.
They reach the top level, and find an intact barricade. They establish communication with the dozen survivors within, and HCB convinces them to come out, promising to escort them to safety in the other temple. Meanwhile, downstairs, Tobias notices the light suddenly fade to black outside, and hears skittering approaching down the ruined tunnel, followed by chewing sounds. He relays this info, and the team gets ready for a mad dash….