Prot0 tells the team he’s gonna stick to a behind the scenes role for the time being, while he pulls data heists for STV and others to raise funds for the Wuxing Frequency raid. He continues doing research for the team’s mission and can send along sprites to hack when needed. He passes the drone controller and surveillance drones off to the them for now, and maintains security on the tacnet remotely. He reports that him and Patricia Loveland, along with Old Crow’s info, are looking into who the Black Lodge has inserted into the local ASPS branch, as well as determining a little bit about MCT’s recent acquisition of Apep Consortium: apparently a large impetus was Apep’s good relationship with shedim, which will allow MCT further metaplanar access and security. He also passes along an invitation to join the Exchange in thanks for sharing CFD cures, and the team agrees.
The team continues on the mission to hunt down Cameron Faulkner, the rival junior partner at STV, and find out who he’s been working with outside of the Firm. Using the contacts they made with some of his disgruntled former assistants, they ID his car and driver, and eventually spot him slipping out of STV. Guy tails him to a meet deeper downtown, at the Ares Logistics building, and Jonny spots him meeting Otto Stevens/Hendricks’ assistant before being ushered in. They set an ambush for his exit, and quickly take out both him and his driver. Jonny debuts the crystal bloodblade in action, and it is terrifyingly effective. It seems like it will heal injuries the bearer has by dealing damage.
They flee successfully, and report to Schmidt. She is worried about leaks, and assumes that since Ares (and thereby at least some of the bugs) had a spy, it’s likely that the Black Lodge and shedim have one or more each as well. She says she will begin an internal investigation (with Iain Decker and Jan St John assisting), while the team tries to spot any potential leaks from the outside, while they continue their investigations. 6 Cyl decides that it’s time to fake his death as well to escape Mr. Woods and the Black Lodge, and sets up a fake hit by Ancients, where Jonny and Aylin in disguise throw him off of a bridge, while Zuri Adamson waits underwater to smuggle him upriver, where Guy picks him up and takes him to the Probe’s surgical suite of the day, and Leanna Octave implants him with cyber-eyes and does some cosmetic alteration, making him into an elf poser, to throw off astral and visual tracking. He gets some tips in counter-surveillance form Schmidt, Jonny and others as well- changing his walk etc. He also ditches his signature duster, and mods his revolver.
While 6C is healing, Schmidt calls and says her suspicions about Faulkner seem correct- someone attacked and largely destroyed Bryson Church’s manor the previous night (after Faulkner’s meeting with Otto), which suggests it was either bugs, or Otto learned from the BL pulling one over on him and sicced the shedim on Church. Rumors suggest Church wasn’t killed, but Schmidt wants them to go look into it. They roll over and do some investigation. It looks like 2 heavy vans rolled up, and left quickly a little lighter, suggesting some casualties in the assault team. There are some destroyed rapid reponse sec drones scattered around the manor lawn, suggesting that the assaulters fled during the first response wave from external security. And astral space clearly shows use of magic and traces of shedim, answering that question, though strangely it seems that there were 3 shedim on 1 side of the brawl and a dozen on the other.
The team gets worried about internecine squabbles between Masters, but then remembers that Church was known to have a powerful item called the Dagger of Hivas Set in his possession, which he supposedly used to bind some spirits to his service. Perhaps these were the 3 shedim on the 1 side. 6C confirms that he has heard of this dagger within BL lore, and provides some description and ideas about it’s use and history. OE confirms that there’s a blood magic vibe near the center of the fighting, which seems to be the display room that Gabriel Ives described where the dagger was kept when Church was home. However, no sign of any combatants besides shedim remains, so they assume Church (and the dagger) escaped unharmed. OE also spots some kind of hermetic mage cleansing astral space of the traces of the fight, and ko’s or kills him before he can spot the rest of the team.
They report to Schmidt, confirming her suspicions and convincing her to double down on the mole hunt. She acknowledges that her and the team have become somewhat tied together and significantly decreases their debt to the Firm. They then get word that Bravo Company successfully extracted Fargus Sol from HeadHunter captivity in the MCZ in Boston, and are bringing him to DC before figuring out next steps. Guy upgrades the van interior, and they plan to use it as a mobile safehouse before finding a permanent spot elsewhere for Sol to lay low. The last contract Woods offered 6C was for capturing or killing Sol, so they warn Bravo about that as well.
They meet up in the fancy (and magically secured) parking lot for the 4 Seasons Skytouch tower, and make the swap from an unmarked Bravo Company sedan and plain-clothes HRT to the van with no trouble. Sol proves to be knowledgeable and voluble, happy to discuss Tarot and other mysteries. Aylin gives him an honest reading telling him not to trust them over himself, and he appreciates the honesty. They mindlink and swap a bunch of Tarot info, and he also gives them the last card in his possession- he says he is primarily interested in knowledge and the deck’s origins, rather than the profits to be made therein. He warns them about the dangers of items summoned with the deck, including the crystal bloodblade, but confirms that many other sets exist, and validates Aylin’s map theories. He says that he has a friend with a secure vault if they find any dangerous items they want kept safe. They agree to continue collaborating, though he seems invested in ensuring their relative morality before considering them “friends.”
He warns Aylin about the elf supremacists at the top of the Atlantean Foundation (though he says the org also does some good), but suggests she consider writing for a more freelance conspiracy rag, and puts her in touch with Ramona Cubbins at the All-Seeing Eye. He is also maybe the 2nd most powerful mage OE has ever seen, an offers to teach them invented spells from his personal grimoire if they stick together. OE calls up Imaginary Annie and arranges to trade some tarot info to her in exchange for her securing a safehouse and secure comms channel for Sol in Seattle. He also agrees to help her look into Prophecy 3, related to the Tower card. She tells them there’s always work in Seattle if they ever get out that way.