Kitten Caboodle aka Kit
The team parties, mourns, and heals for a few days after the Battle of Chicago. Melissa Truman gets in touch and offers to fund a wake/funeral for Avocado, which the team accepts, and they make a plan for it. All of them speak or at least say a few words in memory of their fallen friend, and Melissa uses the opportunity to announce that she is seizing control of Truman Tech back from Horizon after some behind the scenes maneuvering. In the spirit of Avocado, she says she will be bringing jobs and representation back to the people of the Zone, and announces a hiring surge as well as a SIN drive. She has been quietly acquiring rights to vast swaths of the Shattergraves, which the other corps haven’t been touching, and plans to repair and rebuild. She also sets aside some land where the battle took place in a trust via STV, and agrees to fund Kit’s plan for a permanent memorial there, with the names of all those who dies fighting the bugs inscribed.
Over the next few days, AZT, SK, Wuxing and “local assets” get the main credit for saving the city, plus lesser credit for Renraku and MCT, and they also expose the UCAS plan to nuke the city.The UCAS III Corps is chased out/tactically retreats as the citizens are ready to revolt. Corporations move in full force, using the UCAS exit/chaos/threat of bugs as an excuse (and to get folks on their side). Ares is persona non grata after they bail on helping city before the big battle. Jonathon Pyke and his Shadow Chapters step in to consolidate (much like in Boston) after many of the trusted local Johnsons are killed, corrupted, retired or traumatized by all that happened. The ASPS heavily involved in leyline repair/investigation, along with Wuxing Geomancers. Ghostwalker agents and the “Real Americans” policlub start agitating in town, reaching out on Shadow Chapters/NooseNet etc to push for “Free City Chicago”, since “the UCAS apparently doesn’t care about them.”
The team lays low and recovers in Ahabitat for a while, catches up with Otoko, etc. Big Meat and other Merrow fetch a pile of lake-floor debris for Kit to feed on to get their strength back to regenerate their medic half, as she died in the missile assault on the dragon, so Kit is down to only their driver half for now. Creature hears some Dragonspeech in their head, and agrees to swear fealty to the Sea Dragon in exchange for a boon, and feels xyr body begin to change in some way as xe sleeps underwater the next few nights. The team gets a comm from Fargus Sol via the buoy, saying he’s in town and they should come meet him at elemental hall at their earliest convenience. They agree, and head back to the surface. Upon reaching Elemental Hall, they find themselves somewhat overwhelmed at the strangeness of the floating ASPS fortress, but luckily don’t have to venture far inside for their meeting.
Sol, Lu Wendao, Dr. Kersh, Daytripper and some others all meet them. They say Lothan was supposed to attend but has apparently become somewhat agoraphobic after catching a glimpse of Vhortas during the dragon’s attempt to portal away from the fight, Aradia cheers him up a bit by promising to share distracting data and research. The ASPS/Grey Cell group tell the team that the main physical battle is over, but Chicago isn’t saved yet- they still need to save it’s soul. They go back through what they’ve learned- Calumet, the former Spirit of the City was thought killed in ARES’ FABIII assault all those years ago, but was actually corrupted and horribly twisted, and has become the behind the scenes manipulator of much of what has gone wrong in Chicago in the last few years: V’Golkatl.
They tell the team that they don’t know if this spirit can be “killed” per se, but that it can be trapped. They explain that the team will need to track down as many other powerful local spirits as they can of any that survive, and will also need to figure out V’Golkatl’s exact location, as it has been using powerful dark magic to hide itself both physically and astrally while it twists and corrupts it’s servitors throughout the city. They give the team a FAB meter to detect strong competing background counts to help in their search, and Fargus Sol provides them with 4 ritual tokens to aid in their quest: these will allow 1 hour each of regeneration, piercing vision, intangibility, and luck. He says they may prove essential to the team’s success, and to choose their moment well.
The team heads out and decides to start in the Shattergraves. The city feels strange at first and they eventually realize why as they drive: the bugs seems to be well and truly gone, and most of the gunfire and shouting seems to be celebratory, for once. They make their way through the Shattergraves, disturbed by strange spectral visions and entities, until Aradia decide to do some classic Quimbanda summoning, and calls forth The Wailing Ghost, a powerful spirit who mourns and gains power from all who die in the city, who seems to have formed after the incident which created the Shattergraves: the Alamos 20k terror attack in 2039. She tells them that she knows of V’Golkatl and will tell them more if they eliminate an enemy of hers: a spirit of the bugs named Pestilence, who dwells nearby in the Cermak crater.
They agree and head over, and find a bizarre and massive spirit seemingly restrained with toxic fetters. It looks like a combination of all the different types of bugs (including mantids and spiders), but seems more like a manifestation of the city’s fear of the bugs, as it doesn’t have an actual insect aura. It begins singing a strange tempting song, harmonizing amongst it’s many mouths, which lures Carol in. Luckily the others aren’t strongly effected, and Creature notices that xe can’t be: xe is already sworn to one Queen and cannot accept another. Aradia manages to mind control Carol and make him fire, which breaks the spell, and they quickly slay the spirit, though it melts TT’s armor pretty good. It seems badly depleted by the bugs’ defeat and exodus. Aradia surmises that the Swamp Things were likely responsible for fettering the spirit, probably at V’Golkatl’s command in order to ensure Pestilence didn’t get too much power during the return of the bugs.
Reporting back to the Wailing Ghost, she tells them that V’Golkatl also managed to limit her growth, and that since the UCAS/shedim didn’t get their way and nuke the city she won’t be able to compete with it for power, but tells the team there are 5 other spirits that survive that might be powerful enough to help to contain V’Golkatl, if the team can make deals with them. The team forwards the list of spirit names back to their ASPS/Grey Cell Johnsons, and get some last know locations. Ibu AIr, a powerful free air spirit, tells them that he distributed tokens amongst the various powerful spirit entities of the city some time ago, and that if they can get all 5 spirits to agree to assist and provide their tokens, they should be able to trap V’Golkatl using an alchemical canister that Ibu Air himself has created for the purpose.
The team heads out to start making friends. First, Creature sneaks into Tamir Grey housing block past a Popular Will protest/blockade, after TT fails to take sense into some trolls there, though everyone at the protest applauds him for saving the city. Creature makes an offering at the commemorative stature of Tamir, and his spirit (or at least the spirit that uses his name) appears, and agrees to help them in exchange for Creature vowing to help find a new, safe home for Chicago’s ghouls. They next head to Archer, and Kit manages to do a strange impromptu dance performance with the van and it’s arm, summoning the Dancer on Archer, who dances with them for a while and promises her assistance as well.
Carol calls in a favor from ARES and gets the contact number from The Greek, the head of local branch of the Detroit mob, one of three mafia factions in town. He gets some ideas of where to find Joey the Pig from The Greek, in exchange for promising to put in a good word to favor his family over the others. They call in some rep with the Merrow, who retrieve some old lost bootlegger cargo from the lake floor, and head to an old smuggler’s tunnel where soldato leave offerings to Joey. He appears, and accepts the shipment, complimenting Carol’s ability to track down lost things. He agrees to help, and also to favor The Greek/Detroit mob going forward, impressed by their and Carol’s gumption.
The team then heads to the WInd Transit Terminal squatter community, and with help from some friendly locals, manage to track down Fury, a spirit of the desperate and dispossessed. Calling on their history of good deeds and friendship to the communities Fury protects, they request his assistance, which he grants, but doesn’t promise them anything beyond that. For the last one, they head for old city hall, seeking Daley, a spirit of backroom deals, corruption, business, and governance. They find city hall overrun by Gutsmen, a new extremist ghoul gang who are responding to the anti-ghoul violence by openly embracing their nature. Luckily, Aradia finds a note, and the team follows Daley to his new base in O’Hare Sprawl.
They arrange a meeting through some corp contacts, and encounter the jovial but somewhat slimy spirit info broker. He agrees to assist in exchange for intro’s to corp movers and shakers, which the team easily provides. Reporting back on their successes, they are told that they will need to have one person go with each spirit to make a rough pentagram around V’Golkatl’s location once they discern it, and bury their tokens at the 5 points. They will then just need to defend themselves and maintain their position while the ritual does it’s work, and whoever holds the canister keeps it intact until V’Golkatl is trapped inside. TT and Carol decide to be on team “spot/hold the canister”, Creature will go with Tamir, Kit with the Dancer, and Aradia with Fury. Fargus Sol will go with Joey the Pig, and Lu Wendao with Daley.
The team decides all 4 artifacts should go with team spot/canister, except the luck one which Kit holds onto to be able to race around town at breakneck speed as needed. Carol and TT get a ride from Roddy Steelsky, another Spire pilot, up to the top of the old, ruined Truman Tower, where they first saw V’Golkatl’s storm form. Using the piercing vision, Carol confirms this is it’s hiding spot, but distrubingly, it’s up to something he can’t see, through some kind of rift it has opened. The various spirit teams all call in some allies to help defend them and Kit races around dropping them all off before getting themself set up on Archer. They bury the stones, with Joey dropping his out in the lake, and Carol sees 5 beams of energy shoot into the base of Truman tower, up the central shaft, and emerge from the canister as TT opens it. The beams surround V’Golkatl’s form and begin pulling it in, as Ibu Air guides the ritual from Elemental Hall.
It doesn’t go without a fight though, it repeatedly lashes out at the small VTOL they’re in, and Carol uses intangibility and TT uses regen to stay alive long enough to get the ritual done. Still, it is a close things, as TT passes out just as the canister finally snaps closed around V’Golkatl. Roddy has jumped out of the shredded VTOL long ago, and Carol has been struggling to keep it aloft, but he manages to catch the canister as TT drops it, and grab a chute. TT regens back to consciousness, and also grabs a chute and both leap free of the wreckage, Carol having piloted just well enough to get them safely clear of the tower. Kit uses luck to pilot them remotely both safely to ground. They pass the canister off to Fargus Sol for Arleesh to store in her Vault, and Ibu AIr explains they’ve created what is known in alchemical circles as a Bottle Demon: a terrible tool which will make the user a nigh-unstoppable spellcaster, even as it consumes them.
Also, Fargus debriefs with Carol about what he saw as V’Golkatl was pulled away an the rift it had opened closed behind it: a door has opened in Kadath. And through that door, many lessor Horrors (m’flesits, crawlers, and gum toads amongst them) have entered the endless city, and now roam it’s labyrinthine pathways. Fargus tells the team that though they have saved Chicago, the world is still in grave danger…
But for now, a grand success. Fargus also tells them they’re in a somewhat unique position: they know the 6 remaining spirits who might be powerful enough to become spirit of the city, and they have a ton of solid rep and good will around town that they could expend to try to make it so.
The team heads to a bar to debate. They rule out the Wailing Ghost immediately, on principle. They also rule out Tamir as being too weak and depleted. They decide against Joey, though Carol has a fanboy crush. They also eventually rule against Fury, not trusting his motives, and feeling they don’t know enough. They decide between Daley (potentially a big payout) and the Dancer (party city!) and eventually decide to go unanimously in on the Dancer. They call in just about every last favor, token, and debt they’ve amassed, and the ASPS announces an effort through their new global endeavor, The Concord, to try to establish urban tribes who’s longterm mission is to bolster, support, and stabilize spirits of cities around the world, to try to stave off their corruption.
The team preps to head for space, and collects some additional jobs to do while there. Carol really wants to get out of debt with the Tan Robes as he has a disturbing sensation that when he stared into the abyss beyond Kadath, something stared back and spotted him. They decide to keep paying rent on Ahabitat for now, in case they need a spot to retreat to, and leave their other vehicles with Goober for the time being.