Ratched the Hatchet
and introducing: Kinnie Zest
also introducing: OverEasy
Jonny convinces Micval to sing with Weekday Eclipse and they put out a single together with a Micval remix of one of Jonny’s tracks. Erika Knowles reminds them to check out Project Hammer at the ARES training facility and they get some leads. Smedley tells them to go to an art opening to meet an “old school” thief who needs a team to help steal some artifacts around town. They find out a bit more about the Null, and Prot0 convinces the team to do a bunch of jobs fast to improve their gear and skills so they can raid the ECSE and get the enormous payday it seems to promise. Jonny is summoned to a meeting with an AZT fixer named Metoataske Cynosige who hints that the blood mages in Swampscott were a bit far afield and out of touch, so no big loss for AZT, so long as the team will deal with a problem for them: Horizon Dawkins Group operatives have been working around town and AZT needs them ID’d, compormised, or eliminated. They will pay a bounty. Jonny agrees, lacking options.
Guy initiates with some of the Urban Tribalists who are cleansing astral space, and hooks them up with the “ASPS” and Kostas. Kostas reminds him to do a few jobs to pay for the crystal eyes he wants, and tells Guy that the ASPS has a runner coming in to assist. He gains the ability to astral travel, and can now communicated with his car spirit. He begins planning an astral quest to retrieve it’s True Name and bond with it. The team decides to give Ax. S. Grant the body of their cyberpsychotic dwarf safehouse guard, worried that someone else might hack him the way Prot0 did. Ratched puts him out quickly with drugs, circumventing the rest of the team’s plan to make an elaborate digital scenario for him. Ax promises the team drone and vehicle use/support during the upcoming Peabody raid, and also tells them team to go to the upcoming art opening Smedley had mentioned to meet up with a contact with some specialty gear for the raid (to deal with Nocebo, to the corrupted AI). 2 jobs, 1 location: great!
Jonny befriends Lil’ D with his and PPJ’s Boston Unity plan. The team meet up with a new runner named Kinnie Zest, who Smedley says is a skilled weapons tech (as well as an MIT&T doctor) who needs to make some cash. He seems useful, so the team brings him along on the next job: rescuing Grimes, who is under house arrest after a new Bishop arrived and took his church at the head of a Blackheart Security merc detachment. Silke tells them that
Archangel has an object to trade that they can maybe use to get Grimes free, and they head back to the ghoul base to see about that. They encounter some vampire merc’s, and are told that non-infected aren’t welcome there anymore, but do manage to meet with Dark Angel and get the object: an old bible signed by JFK to the people of Boston. One of the vamps follows the team home in astral and talks to Aylin. He intro’s himself as Alastair, and says the the ghouls are now protected by Messerzahn, who should be a name to be feared. Aylin, being a weirdo, befriends him instead of feeling threatened. So now the team has that info for BBE.
They head up to Stoneham next on a lead from Smedley, and meet up with scholar named Trinity Ellario, who called CFD before it happened, and is holed up with some other civvies being protected by SSU 211, the other merc corp BBE needed info on. SSU is all Monads, stable headcases who don’t want to spread their infection. BBE makes a deal through the team to have SSU raid Malden (rampant nanoapocalypse) in exchange for materiel support and a ride out later, and also makes a similar deal with Messerzahn to clear the Labyrinth. The team gets paid and upgrades their gear quite a bit. They meet up with Kostas’ contact, a mirrorshades runner named BlackJack, and do a quick job with him, paying off a Wuxing employee to retire early and write a letter recommending a certain replacement. They then get a list of three other names to do similar with, and BJ convinces them to help him track another target: a personal mission.
They follow astral traces and rumors of a serial killer and missing people to an abandoned orphanage in Dorcester, where they fight a shadow spirit and a knife-wielding free spirit maniac. BJ dies in the fight, but disapparates, so he was apparently also a spirit. They win, barely, and flee and enraged Purist/Pariah militia, asking that the militia help the various poor souls in the orphanage as they do. Prot0 also accidentally shoots a baby when they shadow spirit uses it as a human shield. Ratched punches him for it (and then heals him). They rest up a bit, then get fancier armored suits etc to go to the art opening. They leave Kinnie watching the gear nearby-ish, and walk into Downtown. They stop by the Taco Temple opening to eat on the way, and PPJ almost signs up before the team convinces him to run against the Temple of Terror instead of participating.
The art opening is happening but Prot0 thinks it’s a little derivative. A drone taps him and a man who calls himself Hamshallow tells Prot0 to take a box the drone is offering up- Prot0 does, just as some kind of no-label corp deathsquad bursts in. They shoot Hamshallow but it turns out he was a hologram, so it just wavers and then vanishes. They seem to want to acquire the package so Prot0 hoofs it, and accepts a grappel assist from the other person they were supposed to meet here: the thief Liam Adelbern. They escape unnoticed while the rest of the team tries to deal with the shooters and get people safely out. They all succeed except PPJ, who stays behind invisibly and fries the drone, in case it had info on it, but unfortunately has some bad luck and gets knocked out and captured. The team tries to figure out how to go back in, but have no gear or real armor with them, and decide to flee and rescue PPJ later.
After looking into it, they find out the group that has him is a pan-corporate (but non-official/maybe fully illegal) rightwing deathsquad called Omega Dawn that targets political agitators, SINless, runners, and “terrorists.” Ax S. Grant, when filled in, accepts the package, and says that he asked a spirit friend to do them a solid- he tells the team it wiped PPJ’s memory back 6 months, so he lost everything since his graduation in Denver, but literally knows nothing (and has a reasonably clean SIN), so maybe he’ll get cut loose? Other contacts are more skeptical and tell the team to watch out for OD but not to expect their friend back. Meanwhile, PPJ wakes up in a room he recognizes from the show: the Initiation Chamber in Temple of Terror Season 3. He is very confused….
Prepping for the Peabody raid, the team needs a few more gunners, and Smedley recommends a local ARA activist/ex-merc named OVerEasy, who seems pretty competent. They also get 3 roto-drones from Ax as as an armored van, and are told there will be an infiltration specialist going along who will use the device they got to deal with Nocebo. The team just needs to make sure the infiltrator can reach the dissonant servers. They also get 2 SSU 211 mercs named Jazz and Cosmos, a sniper team who agreed to help out against some natural enemies. They head north, and get Fennel to watch their spirit van. They rig the armored van with a cowcatcher and a bunch of explosives charges to blow out three sides, and cruise up. The infiltrator, SemPar, and the 2 mercs hop out to do their parts.
The team rams through one of the rager barricades and plows through some shamblers, before dragging to a stop a Y intersection just inside town. They leap out the back after turning on a jammer to attract headcases, and then blow the charges when there’s a big mob of them around. The team makes their way through town, a harsh and destructive slog under constant grenade and sniper fire. Jazz and Cosmos keep their rear clear, though, so they don’t lose anyone. They reach the Dissonant’s base, an old government center, and subject it to a serious assault, beaching through the front doors and the roof. They kill all the TM’s, and fight a bunch more ragers, shamblers, and CFD-infected animals (probably intended for the fighting pits once rigger interfaces are installed), including a massive bear. They emerge victorious, and SemPar completes whatever their task was.
The team walks back to the wilds, taking out a last few shamblers on the way, and meets up with Fennel, who offers them a stay in a Warpath safehouse deep in the woods for the night. They accept, and get paid a bounty for the Dissonants they killed, including a major leader, White Rabbit. They also hang with Grimes, Silke, Wolfgang, and Gibson, who are all holed up up here, and warn them about Omega Dawn. Wolfgang has a long talk with them about the risks to Boston of the current situation: syndicated and corps moving in hard, if not met with resistance, will change everything. But he says there’s still a chance. The team heartily agrees, and then sells the info about clearing Peabody to BBE, who will likely move in and seize it. However, to help the Neo-A cause they buy them a ton of rocket launchers to harry corp supply flights with. They sell some of the other paydata to other contacts, and post a high price file about PAX/Whit Rabbit making deals with both AZT (to research cyberadepts as soldiers) and the Null (to hunt AI’s, TM’s, etc) to Jackpoint. Noone bites (yet) but after sharing a bunch of other info for free, the team gains full membership.
Back in town, they heal up and plan next steps: they have a few more small jobs to complete, and maybe 1 big one, before the ECSE. They scout out the ARES Project Hammer facility and make another deal with Messerzahn to clear a path of any headcases so the team can get in through the Catacombs and deal with whatever’s there (with Messerzahn getting access to whatever’s left in the facility after, and having one less potential threat on their flanks). A lawyer named Genowefa Gale also contacts them on behalf of a firm called Stark, Thiessen an Van der Mar, which is setting up a Boston office, and seems to be the lawyers PPJ was hearing through his crystal spine before he got grabbed. She says she thought the team looked competent and tells them to get in touch if they’re available for more work.
The team gets worried that Dawkins Group might be manipulating Omega Dawn, but has no solid leads, so they decide to deal with Dawkins and wait til they have anything to go on for PPJ. Bubby is distraught and says he won’t rest til he finds PPJ, which worries the team but what can they do… he heads off into the astral to search. Liam Adelbern tells them that he has done some solid recon on the 3 sites he wants to hit (where possible): DIMR and Atlantean Foundation offices, as well as a Harvard lab in the MCZ. OE wants to get into the MCZ to check out a Manadyne lab there as well, but Kinnie warns the team how bad it is, so they decide to do that one last perhaps. The team decides to put together a baseball game to bond and also continue the Boston unity dream that PPJ and Jonny shared, and put out the word about it on shadow channels after securing use of the Centurion’s arena for an afternoon. Guy gets his crystal eyes put in- weird but effective.
A pretty good roster turns out, and gives it a good go- Damon on one team, some skilled Hellriders on the other, plus the lawyer, the mayor, the team, Kostas, a guy with some Null info for Prot0, and various others split between both. The team’s local rep improves significantly, but Jonny gets some bad news from a Horizon reporter who covers it: Micval has backed out and signed with Horizon (maybe under duress). They post the footage to JP and get a very enthusiastic response (especially from one of the mods). They go to do karaoke at the Tipsy Dragon with Liam in tow, and do some good team bonding. Liam tries drunkenly to get Guy an invite into the Hotel Continental (where Liam is staying) but gets turned back, told that they will review Guy’s application. The team rests up, feeling well-accomplished and closer than ever.