Yanko goes on a (sober) bender while the rest of the team digs into the newly acquired set of Tarot cards. Prot0 goes on his first Resonance dive in modern matrix and finds his way to the Endless Archive, seemingly the home realm of his Paragon The Archivist. To get there he has to pass the Event Horizon and overcome the Cipher’s test, which involves showing Prot0 what effect “helping” Caribou actually had on both Caribou himself and the other residents of the Warrens. Prot0 resolves not to act without full info again in the future, and Cipher accepts this as a lesson learned.
Prot0 trades some info he has acquired that has never been digitized before in trade with the strange librarian sprites at the Archive in exchange for secret info, mostly on the 6th World Tarot. He finds hints at what powers the cards might have, how one might use them, some theories about possible origins, and a number of groups interested in the cards for various reasons. He also confirms the team’s interpretation of the cards- predicting the return of a figure from Hopi legend, which could be a big shakeup in the power structure in Denver during the ongoing Treaty re-negotiations.
Meanwhile, PPJ takes a thorough astral look at the cards, and does some digging at the IOND’s libraries (or at least the sections he’s been admitted to), and finds some further info, about rituals and the like involving the cards, as well as about Hopi magical traditions. The team has a long back and forth on what to do, and makes some calls to get some price options. Their Mona Lisa program has also returned some results from faces visible on the cards they have, and one of them seems to be a A-rated corp CEO from Azania named Joseph Mnguni, and unwisely calls him with no research (breaking his recent promise to Cipher and himself).
PPJ is able to tell that the cards are magically connected in some way, and that the Matrix card has a fire-y aspect, so they head into the Warrens to meet up with Frantic and enlist her help. Jonny is doing a club appearance for his label, but tells them to call in a pinch. They get to Frantic’s bar, and she says the card is actually electrical not fire, and suggests they consult Sam at the gadget shop next door. Prot0 gets a call back from Mnguni, who threatens him a bit, and Prot0 hangs up and does some research- apparently he’s known for taking excessive revenge against adversaries and is currently being courted by none other than Johnny Spinrad for a potential merger. Prot0 vows to actually stick to his earlier vow from now on.
They head to Sam’s shop, run a current through the card after some study, and debate what to do- Sam says it seems like it wants to discharge into something and shouldn’t be harmful, so Prot0 touches it and gains some additional TM powers, though they feel fleeting. The card is also destroyed in the process. PPJ takes off to get an offer for the set from the IOND before any more cards get wrecked, and shortly after the team comes under attack from a bar patron at Frantic’s who seems possessed.
Frantic asks them to leave so she can clean up the other dead patrons in her bar, which they do, taking up a defensive position outside til Grog arrives with his cab to drive them to the exit. Unfortunately, he also is possessed and crashes the car and attacks them. They manage to fend him off and hoof it to the exit, where Jonny is waiting with a van and some smooth-talking to get them through.
They agree they need to get the cards sold ASAP, and get prices from a Hopi rep and from the IOND. The IOND pays a little more, and seems to plan to pass the cards on to the Hopi to gain influence with them, so the team sells to them (over Aleiron’s objections, who wants to give the cards to the Hopi nation as the rightful recipients of the prophecy). They get the IOND to promise to share research info on the cards. Jonny and 3C use their big payday to upgrade some ’ware, while PPJ takes a major hit on his cut to make the deal happen.
The next day, they finally meet up with the Papal Delegation, and arrange to make introductions to Lupus’ clinic in the Warrens. The Catholics want to fund and expand it, but need to move quietly. The team thinks this will likely be both a major medical improvement for Warrens denizens and also a front for Catholic spies, whatever they’re up to here. The Bishop also hints that the Church would be interested in hiring the team to escort a Vatican investigator into Boston to look into reports that the Archdiocese there has gone a bit far afield.
The team is terrified, but the promise of secure transport out of Denver, a big payday, and the possibility of tracking down the Reverser Nanites for a potential CFD cure all seems quite appealing. They agree to think on it. PPJ and Jonny head into the Hub in disguise, to deliver the package they received from Los Espejos, as they got a message saying delivery should be done that day. They find the address, the offices of the UCAS Council rep, and decide that in case this package is sketchy they should use a cutout. They hire a courier, but sketch the first guy out too much, so they hire another courier from a different company and send the package. Shortly thereafter, there is a report of an alchemical explosion at the office, and they hear some screaming in the distance. They quickly exit the Hub, and switch SINs and disguises, worried about what they just did (though it seems they missed the UCAS rep, if that was the target).
They head back to the hotel to hole up for a bit, and the team gets a reminder that they have a smuggling job on the table, which is coming up- they accept, and get the details for the meet.