The team reports back to STV, gets paid, and gives the after action report. Madeline Schmidt gives them their review (kill less teens, be more subtle, good job otherwise basically) and tells them about some followup opportunities: digging into Sahara Jones, following a Shedim expert named Patricia Loveland, and looking further into Otto Stevens’ connections at a lobbyists gala. They decide to do the gala first, as it’s the only scheduled one.
First though, they decide to follow up on the link in Kinnie’s comm, and head to the Dark Side club (which seems to have either relocated or have a DeeCee branch as well), and catch a limo ride over by clicking the icon. They are attacked by some sort of tumor adept, who infects Aylin and Prot0 after Aylin slices him in half with their whip and he bursts all over them. They cut the regrowing tumor tissue out before it can take hold, but are creeped out- is this connected to the cancer spirit that followed OE before?
They head into the club through the magical door-guard, and are told they each get one wish. They also drink and dance. OE gets some on the-DL quality implants, Aylin gets a tarot card, Prot0 gets Kaze Adeki’s private commcode, Guy gets a strange scroll wrapped around an orichalcum rod to help with his astral quest, Jonny learns to play Seelie Court style microtonal music and adapts his guitar, & Kinnie gets tickets and a box for game 6 of the World Series. Kinnie leaves early and is surprised when his friends don’t return for 2 days, though they thought they were only there for an evening.
They race to get ready for the gala, and prep their disguises, fake ID’s, and plan. They roll over, using their arms dealer/lobbyist fake ID’s, and implement the plan- Prot0 and Aylin (in mist form in a briefcase) sneak off from the main group to find the ops center to hack the secure comms node for the event. The rest of the team starts making careful observation of who seems likely to be comm-ing at the same time so they can figure out who’s secretly talking to each other. Jonny also makes an introduction with Sahara Jones to follow up further.
Aylin mists into the ops center after they dodge some guards and plants a data tap. Prot0 hacks the comms log and gets the info but then gets chased off by some guards and has to hide in a bathroom to finish up while Aylin exfiltrates in mist form. The rest of the team eventually makes their exit and they escape. The law firm thanks them for the data, and notes that as an added bonus they’ve ID’ed a data vault they’d like the team to hit as well. The team also gets some sidework offers from Cass Wandering Horse (look into local Crying Masks activities, and looking into the Turing Army and the Exchange for Garmonbozia.
They look into CM activities a bit first, and find out that they’re hiring multiple amoral runner teams locally to assassinate a DoD official named Ronald Despain, known as “Dragonslayer” for doing exactly that. They bribe Zenith for some info, but he won’t give them specifics due to professional pride. Prot0 also passes off the Null Sect document in paper form to Ladybug from the Nexus, as well as receiving delivery of the Wuxing Frequency comm he hired runners to steal. He unwisely turns it out and sees that it’s being tracked, and advises the team to leave the bar. They all saw that PepperJack died in ep 2 of Temple of Terror on the trid but are unable to stay for a commemorative drink due to worrying about what might be coming down.
They return to the safehouse and Prot0 tries to hack the comm but gets ko’ed by the massive sprite he tries to compile and has to get some cyber-organ replacements to survive. He gives up for now. Zenith and OE both report spotting some corpsec looking goons looking around where the comm has been but they don’t seem to have an exact location, so they hope they’re safe for now. Erika Knowles reports back after the team investigates the potential bug hive that Stokes knew the location of, and reports that it is indeed bugs. Knowles reported it to Anne Ravenheart, who told Sticks about it. The team finds Reconstruction footage of someone in an armored chemsuit raiding the church in the Blood Dust Barrens with a FAB-III thrower while some local ghouls run security for him (presumably immune to the Blood Dust, though not the FAB).
This leaves a fovae behind, but the BD barrens are already pretty fucked, so everyone just decides to stay away. Knowles also warns the team about a FedPol investigation into Guy, and says that she made contact with the Ex-Corporate Scientists and has access to their experimental lab if the team needs anything. Kinnie is excited and starts ordering bits to fiddle with. Jonny plays some open mics and starts building a rep for his new weird music under his new SIN. Aylin and Guy try to go to the metaplanes for Guy’s astral quest, Aylin gets past the Dweller but Guy does not (he can’t confront his core trauma honestly).
Aylin gets to the astral crossroads city of Penn Yan on the plane of man, and finds that STV, The Continental, and Tru-13/MCT all have offices there. MCT seems to be buying harvested materials from other planes. Aylin goes into the STV branch and tries to figure out where Guy is , or his spirit lawyer. They can’t help much, but Aylin does hire a beast spirit tracker named Yellowbone to try to find what happened to her mom. Meanwhile, Jonny and Prot0 encourage Guy to just make contact with his spirit lawyer from the material plane.
He does- Bartholomew Barkins shows up, summoned by the burning of an incense containing his true name. Barkins and Guy chat, and Guy finds out that the scroll he got at Dark Side is a contract with a shedim warlord to provide his car spirit’s true name in exchange for getting to use Guy’s body for 1 8-hour period of sleep. Guy instantly agrees. Barkins facilitates the signing and tries to encourage Guy to talk about his experience with the Dweller, but he won’t.
Guy returns to the team, and fills them in. He flies to Paris, has a nice day, and the goes to sleep. He wakes up in Prague with a lot less money, and flies home. Aylin reads his memory, and sees what the shedim did- withdrew funds onto credsticks at a United Bank of Panama branch, purchases a bunch of arms and armor in some woods, trades the guns for some bodies in Prague, and summons shedim to inhabit them. They wear the armor and head out, as the possessor gets to a train station just before Guy gains control. Disturbing, but Guy seems fine overall, though a little shedim-tainted.
He bonds with his ally car spirit, and gains a new connection. Aylin hears back from Yellowbone, and finds out her mom was possessed by a blood shade. Aylin confronts her father about this, and finds out that he has been trying to find a way to bring her back and failing, and didn’t want to tell Aylin because blood shades love to feast on people genetically related to them, and he worried for her safety. Aylin and her dad make peace and agree to keep looking.