The team, returned from Bogota and reunited with Aemon, talk to Butch about the job she had previously mentioned. She wants them to enter the ACHE and gather intel on a possible outbreak of the viral infection she has been tracking. She offers to implant free smuggling compartments in those of them that wish, and also to forgo her fees for any other surgeries they desire. They all get some implant work done, except Aemon, who gets a voucher for future cosmetic surgery (fearing essence loss).
She also has quietly put the word out through some trusted fixers, and tracked down some side jobs for them to make the whole scheme reasonably profitable. Given how controlled access to the ACHE is, there is high demand for a skilled team going in, and they receive a large number of job offers of various difficulties, and accept most of them, although some they decide to wait and see what they find before deciding who to sell to. Ro talks to Hiro Katakura, her Renraku contact, and promises to get him a bunch of info from inside, which he says should square the team with Renraku, so long as they don’t double sell the data again. They also talk to a Lone Star rep, Rahel Juric, looking to get the security contract for the ACHE by discrediting the military and/or their current contractors.
They also call up a mysterious man, maybe from DC, who Butch doesn’t know, and doesn’t know who he works for, named Tibor Dobos, who has a number of requests of them. They agree to bring in a datachip for him, and a possible return message out, but refuse most of the work he offers, having already planned on selling much of the same stuff to others. They also refuse his wetwork offer, and instead agree to protect the target, a prosecution witness, for an unspecified future favor from Dana Oaks or Tosh Athack. They also agree to bring a package in for the mafia, although they are not sure which family, and possibly to do another job for them. There is also a UCAS officer who has some interest in an outside team to do some work, named Ea Skavgaard.
TY talks to Jane, and she says she is very interested in any odd magical phenomena, or geomantic rituals they encounter. She informs him that the walls, floors and ceilings inside the arcology were built to be modular and movable, which is perfect for such things. TY remembers the rumors that there is an insect cult inside, which would have an easy time recruiting, given the huge number of listless BTL junkies kicking it around inside with nothing to do. He also calls Tobias Cheney, who says that Daedelus would be very interested in any AI info they can obtain, and that he will send TY a small present to assist. TY also invites SYD to send a fragment of herself or an agent or whatever she feels like to run on his comm and see what he sees.
They start off by scouting out the parking garage and lower levels. They arrange with the Skraacha to open access in the lowest garage level to an old smuggling tunnel. It was used by Gurzag in the days of the arcology shutdown, to aid the anti-Deus resistance in getting people out and supplies in. The tunnels were shut down, but Gurzag gets an old map from Perri and they manage to find a good looking access point. He also promises to set them up with another ex-Resistance member, Prosper Bellini, to act as a guide inside, which might be especially useful in the upper levels, that the UCAS hasn’t cleared yet.
They figure out how to distract the security systems (mostly cameras on tracks with some security guards in cars), and stage a bum fight to do so, as well as setting off some car alarms, while the orks cut through from below. They plan to rotate cars parked on top of it, and put in access panel with a ruthenium coating to mimic the rest of the floor. They’ll use car alarms and the like to distract the cameras when they need to move stuff in and out. They also check out the elevators, and figure out that the passenger elevators run from the B2-B6 public parking levels to the 6 commercial levels, but not to the housing levels they need to access.
They rent a small storefront on the 4th floor, after TY buys a fake business license for a pawn shop, Pasta Pawn (slogan: We’re Noodlin’ For You!). They also get a vehicle pass, which allows them access to the employee/vendor parking at the mall, as well as the freight elevators, which go from B1 to floors 1-7, getting 1 floor further up, to the intake level for public housing. There is heavy security here, as well as bio and cyber scanners and such. They seem to bring the homeless and SINless that they dump here up from B1 in the freight, and then funnel them through the housing registration and shunt them upstairs. They also gain access to all the storage rooms and access corridors behind the stores, and TY gets started using some small drones to run a access corridor up the raceways and pipes for drones to carry small smuggled items up past the checkpoints on 7 to the housing levels above.
They transfer the store and vehicle pass and such to the Skraacha, who get it up and running, to use as a front for the various things they can smuggle in, and then stage up to the higher levels. Some of Aemon’s Kids, the Ork Underground children benefiting from Aemon’s donations, are to man the registers and such while some full Skraacha will work the back room operation. They decide what to do next, on their long list. Lafeyette meets up with TY, and passes along a black box with a data jack, which she says Tobias built to fit in his cyberarm, and which TY soon discovers is running some portion of Daedelus’ personality. They converse, and he decides to run D through the port to his ‘jack, and introduces D to SYD, who get to talking, as AI’s will. He again realizes he feels most comfortable talking to AI’s rather than “real” people.
TY buys a commlink to replace the impossible-to-smuggle-in RCC, and the team stocks up smugglealbe weapons, armors, ammo, drugs, etc. They scout out the access to the basement levels, but find them a little daunting, and don’t want to mess up their pipeline if it all goes sideways, so they decide to do that part after the other missions (if at all). They go and pick up the RFID message chip from Tibor Dobos, get the package to deliver from the N’Drangheta mafia contact (which they are to deliver to a woman named Amita Jain), and pick up their ex-Resistance guide, Prosper Bellini, who seems as twitchy and messed up as advertised. They look into him a little bit, and find out some info about Perri, another ex-Resistance member, who they think might be another good option to sell technomancer info to, given her protection of them at the Nexus in Denver.
Butch provides new SINs, courtesy of some favors she called in on Jackpoint, and they arrange to get arrested and “searched” ahead of time by KE cops friendly to Tosh Athack, who owed them a favor. They get in (with all their ’ware deactivated and magic off) without any obvious trouble, and Ro and Daedelus manage to game the psych exam and skew the answers so they all get assigned to a yakuza-controlled floor, which Ro hopes will work out giver her nationality and corp ties. Aemon almost blows it and gets sent to a metahuman gang floor, but Ro convinces the psychologist to let him stay with the group. They find out there are roughly 20 factions with various amounts of floors under their control. TY manages to get comms with his drones in the smuggling pipe while they wait on the 8th floor staging area, and tells them to build up to the yak floors, which will take half a week, giving them some time to get settled and get the backend set up to start receiving goods. They rest and prepare to head up to floor 33, where their assigned rooms await…..
They get pulled off the elevator on floor 21 by some thugs from the Kenran-Kai yakuza, and see that they seem have hacked the elevator banks to divert all traffic through their turn, seemingly to tax new arrivals. However, they don’t find the team’s smuggling compartments and send them on foot upstairs to their lodging, 3 adjacent rooms for themselves and Prosper Bellini. They meet there floor boss, a male or named Daisuke Ueda, who says that the intake officer will be around soon to interview and assign them jobs. They wait, as they don’t want to stir up trouble (yet). A human woman named Hina Tran comes by a few hours later, and quickly assesses their abilities. TY gets assigned to a tech maintenance crew, Ro and Ortega get put on barricade duty on the “border” floors of 21 and 40, and Aemon gets sent to the yak’s main clinic on floor 25, where he works under a human woman named Kumari Aghala. He impresses her with his skills, and she explains that if they work well they will have a decent life in the yak controlled turf, but fi they don’t pull their weight they’ll get shipped further upstairs, and she has heard it is worse the further you go.
Ro and Ortega also make a solid impression, working under a male human named Petera Moana and a female ork named Wikolia Kuala. Ortega powers through barricade assembly while Ro provides tips on setting up fields of fire and such, although they fail to gain access to powerful tools or get much of an idea what kind of weapons the yak have access to. TY works under a male ork named Masaru Hwan on gaining further control on the elevator banks, and manages to actually make some breakthroughs using his radar senses and Daedelus’ input, impressing the crew. They return to their quarters somewhat exhausted, and are distressed to find that their calorie allotments are much lower than they are used to (especially the bioware-filled Ro). They have a restless night, with only Aemon soundly sleeping.
They wake in the morning to grumbling stomachs, and unable to hold it in, dump their smuggled loads. Feeling that it is more important for the mafia packages to be secure, they swap those for the drug brick in TY’s arm, and call over Ueda, who they trade the drugs to for more calories. They also tell him they want to talk to Tran again, as she had told them that if they had any smuggled goods they wanted to “report” she would give them a day to turn them in, and they say the drugs are a good faith offering along those lines. Tran is busy, so they work another day, everyone once again performing well except TY who is pretty spaced out. Aemon gets a bit more info out of Aghala, and sees that most of the wounds coming in are from melee weaponry, with only 1 bullet wound in the 2 days, which he misidentifies as being from a military round.
They return to quarters, super hungry still, and meet Tran. They loosely outline their plan: in order for a safe base of operations, and some percentage of the goods smuggled, they will hook the yak up with their smuggling contact on the outside. She says she’ll run it by the boss, and they begin discussing strategies and terms once she leaves. They are surprised shortly thereafter when a dwarf materializes in their midst without much warning, and says he accepts their terms. He introduces himself as Juro Maki, and says that in exchange for yak control of this end of their smuggling route, he will give them 1 out of 10 packages. The conditions are that they cannot carry weapons in yak turf, but he will give them a secure locker on the 40th floor, where they can gear up before heading into other areas. They also cannot start shit with the “cop block” below them, where ex- Lone Star officers have claimed turf. The yak have a functional peace with them, and don’t want it disturbed. They also don’t have a particular problem with the Gianelli Family mafia above them, and would also like that peace to remain undisturbed. The Skraacha connection will help, as both the yak and mafia use their warehouse services frequently, so neither will want to get on their bad side. He also agrees to give the team the first 10 packages in order to help them get started on their tasks.
In exchange, the team will first do a job for the yak, and will otherwise be free to maintain their quarters and move about as they wish, though the yak will provide no direct support, and will not offer any benefits of association, other than lodging. The team asks for more calories, and Maki agrees to that as well. They decide to work another day til the pipeline is finished, and Maki says he will set up the “receiving” room on floor 23 for the junction. They do another day solid work, except TY, who is totally distracted gabbing away with SYD and Daedelus. Upon returning to their rooms, they find some gloves made of human skin, sewed to stretchy fabric on the back. Once they wear these for a moment to warm them up, they allow them to claim extra rations (assigned to the original owners of the hands, who the system believes to still be living). They meet Maki on 23, and link up with the pipe. He has set up an impressive safe room, with walls reconfigured to make a small warehouse. There is a bespectacled man at a desk, looking every bit an accountant, down to the paper ledger and fountain pen in front of him. There are shelves, a safe, and lockers of various sizes, and there are 2 guards armed with SMG’s at the door (the first guns the team has seen inside).
They bring up weapons, armor, ammo, and drugs for themselves, maximizing their load out as much as possible, before heading up to floor 90 to do the yak job. There are to target the Komun’Go Seoulpa ring, which has allied with the Dogmen, a NAN gang to hold turf on the inside. They are heavily involved in medical clinics, cybertech, and organ legging, and the yak want to take over some of their business/turf. They got an earlier start in the ACHE than the yak, due to a police roundup, and raided a bunch of clinics for supplies, before the yak arrived and pushed them further upstairs. So, they are to assassinate Choi Park and Michael Nuka Aqissiaq, the gangs respective leaders, and try to encourage some infighting, or just cause some general chaos. They head up, but are halted by a powerful magical force on floor 51, seemingly Octagon triad turf. A spirit or manifesting mage appears in the elevator with them, and demands to know what they are up to, equipped as they are, before allowing them into or through Triad turf. They tell it that they are assaulting the Komun’Go, and that this will open opportunities for others to expand into the medical business in the ACHE. The spirit says that this is acceptable, and propels them upwards at an extreme speed, overriding TY’s control of the elevator.
They slam to a stop on floor 90, banging around a bit, and the elevator shuts down- seemingly the Seoulpa has also overriden the controls. The door opens to some goons waiting to shake them down, but due to radar and motion sense, they get the drop on them easily, and kill all 4 before any can reach the nearby alarm/comms. However, it pings an incoming call alert, and the team tries to bluff the person on the other side, unsuccessfully. They head further into the floor, finding a clinic of sorts that looks more like an abattoir, where 2 surgeons are removing the last bits of cyberware from a mostly disassembled corpse. There are scattered bits of ’ware on bloody tables and shelves around the room, as well as a few large freezer cases, with gore leaking out the bottoms. They pull guns and demand info, but as one doctor starts to speak, the other slits his throat before being gunned down. They hear the sound of a large number of shod feet approaching, and decide that Ortega will distract/fight the incoming goons while the rest of the team sneaks further in to complete the missions. However, as they have no way to communicate out of line of sight, and only TY can operate the elevator, they will have to link back up to leave!