The team analyzes T1’s data on the ECSE and starts making a plan. They also collate data on the Tan Robes in order to try gain admission to Salem, and sell a bunch of valuable info via JackPoint. They do further tarot analysis as well, and Kinnie activates the Shadow card (semi-accidentally). It seems to grant them admission to an exclusive club in London known for granting favors. They also visit Mama to ask about Tarot and other things, while some of the team goes to meet up with Erika Knowles, and they find out she’s in danger due to going hard against ARES. They check in with Tyreseus and confirm there’s a growing bounty. They also hear rumors that a blood spirit has been assassinating Trans-Latvian execs.
They research Druidic factions to get an idea on how to be in Salem. They get distracted in their planning by a distressed Kostas, who appears in their safehouse and tells them that the “ASPS” facility is under attack. He enlists their help in response to promises of future rewards, and they race to the facility. They manage to save a few employees, including the woman who leads the blood crystal implant surgeries, but can tell that the blood shade is loose in the facility. The woman, Nell, convinces them that she is non-magical, and they agree to take everyone to the IOND for safekeeping. OE projects ahead and converses with Olivier, who fills them in on ties between Trans-Lat/Ordo Maximus/Black Lodge and tells them he will prepare for the potential that some of the “ASPS” members are BL in disguise.
They reach the IOND tower, and Olivier ushers everyone in before springing a trap on Nell, who proves to be a powerful mage. Unfortunately, she mind controls some of the team to attack each other/Olivier, and Kinnie, trying to calm things down, launches a gas grenade, ko-ing both mages. Nell has a cortical bomb as it turns out, and Olivier is killed in the ensuing explosion. The Summoning Master, Bora Elihu, is elevated to chapter master as the school mourns their loss. The team gets some implants and bonds new foci using school resources, and prepares to head North.
The team secures Erika Knowles safety first, ushering her to Messerzahn protection, and Kinnie trades some designs and knowledge with ex-BM/Murai scientists, hiding amongst the Wicked in the Rox. The Wicked seem like one of the only gangs that hasn’t lost out in the syndicate war. They also finally contact the lawyer Genowefa Gale at Stark, Theissen and Van der Mar, and agree to do some work in DeeCee once the Lockdown lifts, in exchange for help with tranist and ID’s. They get some offers of assistance and info from her, and also find out that many metaracists from Boston (as well as Denver and elsehwere globally) are making their way to PWV, Azania, seemingly a new congregation point for those org’s, with some funding that looks to be coming from Brackhaven and others. The team also receives a Tarot card, and Guy gets some astral info and crude map of the metaplanes from a Jackpoint payout.
They head North, and safely reach Salem. They see that Swampscott is fully gone and absorbed by the woods, while Peabody seems to have been conquered by mercs, though signs of recent fighting and explosions suggest that the Neo-A’s and NAN separatists aren’t letting it slide by. They pass along their info on the Tan Robes, and get approved to enter, though everyone keeps hinting that they shouldn’t trust anyone and may or may not be able to leave freely, depending on their actions.
They find the town split between 4 factions, with a central lake. Pro-Damon wiccans have a large slice, and seem to have made a cautious but not complete alliance with the Church of the Dragon, which has the largest population and territory. Anti-Damon wiccans have entered an uneasy alliance with metaracist/anti-dragon militias, and are slightly smaller than the pro-Damon wiccans. The smallest by far is also the hardest-looking- ex-NeoNet employees including Zoh Rothberg (Celedyr’s voice) and some Knights of Rage. They’ve removed all NN insignia and seem only loyal to Celedyr, from what the team can tell. Both the anti-Damon-ists and the KOR offer the team work, but it seems potentially dirty.
Prot0 does some matrix scouting, and almost gets killed by a hugely powerful resonant/dissonant entity (too fast to tell), and realized why noone is running wireless on within the protection of the Mist (which the COTD seems to control). This entity seems to emerge from a school building central to COTD turf, which the team is not allowed in, though Guy makes some progress talking his way towards access. Damon and a number of COTD members also are engaged in a multi-day ritual to cleanse the lake, which the team gets a sample of, and Prot0 thinks seems similar to the powerful entity- perhaps a clue that the lake was the terminal point of “Eliohann’s” flightpath, though it appears “he” has been moved to the school since then.
Jonny starts making in-roads with Aseela, seemingly a Johnson/Fixer for the pro-Damon wiccans, who seems to know the biz but be more cautious in her approach to the team. She wants them to investigate what jobs the other factions want them to do, and report back. Kinnie and OverEasy push really hard to leave and get paid for the info that they’ve gotten, taking a smaller payday to not get further involved, but everyone else is heavily invested in seeking more info. Damon puts the members who stay in town up at his place but says he can’t get involved (in an effort to keep the peace locally), and Guy goes on a divination quest to try to foretell how to succeed on his metaplanar quest.
Overeasy and Kinnie are approached by some Omega Zero Zero Evo mercs, who seem to be the ones occupying Peabody, and offered work- if they can get info on: is the dragon alive, what state is the dragon in, and who will ally with Evo most easily (and how), Evo will pay the team well. OE heads back in while Kinnie waits with the car. He gives the team the info, and they debate which way to go, going back and forth a bunch.
The team allies hard with the COTD, gains all the secret knowledge about what happened with Eliohann/Cerberus/Cereus/Deus during the experiment and early days of the shutdown, as well as what the COTD has done to stabilize the nanite-infested dragon since. Cerberus seems to be in control today and approves the team’s plan to spread word of a potential cure in order to prevent the Thor Strike prophecy from coming true. He also instructs the COTD to help the team harvest some of his nanites to test if they can really undo some of the damage he did in his maddened state, which he seems deeply regretful of. The COTD also gives the team the Dragon tarot card, and the team quickly determines that it represents Lofwyr/SK (in it’s current incarnation).
They also broker an alliance with Evo, in exchange for allowing the COTD continued control of the dragon and his care, Evo will be an early corp presence in the area. Satisfied that they’ve done all they need to do for the time, the team leaves, and get paid by Evo. They also receive a parting gift; a Blackheart Security spy who was watching the team and Salem. The Evo mercs say his partner didn’t survive questioning, but that they knew a good bit about the team and their activities. This is worrying but not surprising. Aylin feasts, and they ditch the body in the woods with a note, warning the NAN separatists and Neo-A’s that Blackheart has some intel and interest.
They return to town, drop Kinnie off at the lab with the dragon nanites (which seem promising for a cure-all but are limited in quantity). They head back to the Nub and hear some bad news: Yaksha was blamed for the Neo-A missile attacks and killed by Omega Dawn. Also, their safehouse was burned, seemingly by a combo of Hater/Rager attack, Shifting Pyre, and Omega Dawn. Mama’s Boyz had to close off the tunnel to keep the danger from spreading. The team meets with Mama, who warns Aylin that she is now “horror-touched” as well as delivering some other info. She arranges for them to all have individual safehouses for the time being, and warns them not to bring in more trouble. They also see merc corps herding shamblers into cleared zones in Southie as well as the MCZ.
They decide to lay low between jobs, and arrange with Genowefa Gale to have their new ID’s ready for travel ASAP. They do one quick job for the Nexus, and track SEARCH/Jack down to the airbase east of the harbor. They manage to communicate with him and find out that he’s CFD infected (along with the rest of the officer corp it seems), but is working on a CFD-cure to sequester the infection in an otherwise functional mind. He passes them his data after they tell him that they are envoys from Perri, and passes along a short message which make them think he might be her dad. They also post an update about this to JackPoint and find out that they just met the legendary Fastjack. They debate trying to get him one of the dragon cures, but Kinnie and the scientists are still perfecting the Reverser level/mix, so they decide to hold off til they’re sure.
Heists for Adelbern next!