Otters aka Roadkill
The team kits out with the rad-resistant gear as best they can, with Tabasco and Otters’ mule drone getting the upgrades. Chew Gum plans to accompany them as near as possible to the hole to provide support and overwatch, while the rest of the crew secures a spot for Tabasco to hang out away from others when he emerges as he will be radioactive for some time. They head over to Grosse Pointe and Creep remembers a promising, poorly guarded lockup, where they steal a kayak with an outrigger and put out to sea in it. Creep and Locke hang out and chat while Dig flies above, keeping an eye out. He sees the wreckage of some watercraft that have tried to run the ARES cordon, unsuccessfully, and warns the boaters to stay well inside the perimeter.
CG holds back on the north edge of Zone 1, as his spirits are unwilling to go further- even astrally examining the irradiated Zone 3 causes them all light nausea, but they shake it off. They provide concealment as long as possible, and CG covers with his rifle. Otters, circling high above in the Dustoff guides in the mule drone, while Tabasco sneaks alongside. They find an old rusted car with a camo tarp over it parked right up next to the hole, and some tracks suggesting that between 2-4 people dragged one or more heavy items from the car into the hole. Tabasco becomes instantly fixated and abandons the primary mission to focus on this.
They descend into the hole, spotting the 3 ruined but not fully destroyed APC’s, still stuck in their side tunnels. Otters has to stop at the edge of her effective range before reaching the blast center due to rad damage and bad signal, but Tabasco, boosted by Stitches’ drug cocktail, pushes on. He stats experiencing some very disturbing side effects- hair falling out, skin blistering, hallucinations, but reaches the epicenter, and finds the wrecked bits of the other 3 APC’s. A path has been pushed through and the tracks continue.
He loses his astral sense of taste and feels blood pouring out of his gums, but he pushes through, and spots which tunnel the tracks head down, seemingly due south, before turning back. All of his teeth fall off and his skin begins to slough off as he begins to enter cellular death. He starts running for the exit as fast as he can, his cyberlimbs carrying him most of the way, with Otters (via the mule drone) getting him the rest of the way, and jumping into Tabasco’s cyberlimbs using previously granted permissions to use his grapple hand to get out.
Fortunately, while hanging back, Otters remembered to complete the primary mission, and retrieved a damaged data core from one of the command group APC’s for the Plat Zone to dig into. Otters drags Tabasco free of the high danger zone with the mule, then zips down in the Dustoff, loads Tabasco in, and manages to stabilize him through some miraculous medical checks with the Valkyrie module, and Tabasco’s strong natural resistances. However, all of his skin and external organs have sloughed off and he is in bad shape. The drone covers him in medical gel, as Otters heads back to the safehouse, leaving the mule a ways away from everyone for a day or two til it’s safe to fix.
CG stays behind to keep an eye on the mysterious car, but fails to spot when someone moves it, and decides toxic mages must be involved, if they were able to get both in and out of that terrible area. The Dustoff drops Tabasco in the kayak, and Dig tries to magically heal him but fails. The Dustoff circles at a safe ditsance to not take more damage from the rads, stopping in once an hour to maintain treatment. The rest of the team decides to chill at the safehouse for the night, and Dig shows off some cool illusions. Upsettingly, there is another earth shaking explosion from the south, but no mushroom cloud this time at least.
Creep goes on a solo recon to check it out, while Locke befriends some street kids who call themselves The Keepers and seem to collect mangy strays. From Creep’s recon, supported by a Watcher spirit from Dig, they determine that what they likely witnessed at the hold was evidence of toxic mages allied with Otto Hendricks using explosives salvaged from the downed ARES bombers to blow open a new front in the bug vs. ARES fight downtown. Luckily, this doesn’t seem to have pulled in the Plat Zone, so no worries there at least. The team reports all their intel in, and gets paid a decent amount, with a hazard bonus for Tabasco,
While relaxing after everyone is back, they get a frantic call from Jaga, who says that a new group of refugee arrivals to the area came in with one suspicious member, who apparently got lightly grazed by an ALPHA but seemingly escaped serious harm. After carefully examine, they confirm Jaga’s worry that the person was infested by the ALPHA in the same way they tried to do to Tabasco, and that the process seems to work incredibly fast. Jaga has contained the patient in a mana bubble, and Dig enters and lethally lightning bolts. This does seem to halt the transformation, so that’s good.
After confirming that this also took care of any astral traces, they send the body to the Plat Zone for some additional pay. They also call Carol to warn about Hendricks having gone full toxie/bug, and get some more cash, as well as a reminder that Weathernight wants them to look into dangerous infiltrators in ARES corporate. The team rests after listening to the nightly Radio Free Detroit broadcast, and hearing some more propaganda in favor of pro-social ghoul factions, including the surprising news that ALPHAS, as opposed to most bugs, make good eating!
The next day, Otters checks in with her fixer Howell, who is also her BTL-A sponsor. They check in about how that is going, and then Howell hires the crew for a mission on behalf of Moreau, the strange man at the zoo who wanted to join Dig’s Order but wasn’t magical. There is a secret ARES biodrone research facility outside of the No-Go Zone that Moreau has eyes on that was recently breached, and he wants to save any animals they can. They accept the gig, and Otters calls up Moreau, who is keeping an eye on things at the facility for now.
He tells them it looks like something broke in, not out, and it looks likely to be ALPHAS. Having already been worried that there could be a bug portal somewhere locally, and knowing this facility was likely one of Hendrick’s, the team decides they better hurry over there and shut down whatever is going on. Tabasco regains consciousness, but seems likely to be in for a long recovery, so he bows out of the next mission, and punches in a call to the Metal Maniacs, which luckily is close to the water in Grosse Pointe, so he plans to paddle over when he regains enough strength.
They hear the night’s Radio Free Detroit as they prep to head out, and apparently a lot of Chicago ghouls are answering the call, and requesting sanctuary if they help deal with the bug threat, with Presbitero’s “anti-infected” campaign apparently gaining enough steam in Chicago to make in untenable to remain there. With the recent influx of Neo-A’s as well, it seems like a lot of the weirder elements of Chicago are being forced out as the rebuilding corporatizes, though the spirit of the dance is still strong there…