Kitten Caboodle aka Kit
Aradia reaches out to the ASPS to offer to work together on entropy circle business, getting a contact from Maggie Magnusson, and talking a bit about weird local magic. Jaliyah Angél, the local ASPS liaison, agrees to share data and work together, since DeeCee, Boston, and especially Chicago have pulled a lot of the available resources for the org. She also asks the team to look into local Spirit of the City rumors and sightings if they get a chance, since they seem to have some affinity for that. Aradia and team agrees. Aradia also plans to get in touch with the Sisterhood of Ariadne but doesn’t feel up to venturing up to Snohomish yet, so plans to follow up on linking up with the diviners later.
The team decides they should follow up on the ARES lab that’s been out of comms for a few weeks now, and decide to do the job for Juan, since they didn’t get him anything on the space lab. They plan to give Vogel the info without the paydata, and try to appease Candice by revealing that AZT has a mole in their corp. Juan puts them in touch with a local info broker contact, Izidor Kurtlanik, and they meet him at a Downtown sports bar, which is noisy enough to provide a reasonably secure convo, especially once he turns on a white noise generator as well. He gives them contact info for their inside man, who will help them avoid sensor/security trouble on the way in, and will provide the secure password needed to gain access to the private elevator to the lab. They negotiate pay, and agree to do the job soon.
They stock up on some supplies, armaments, ammo, fake ID’s and permits, and some potions from Squeamish. They pose as musicians plus entourage/bodyguards to have a reason to be hauling a bunch of cased gear in a van through downtown, using the multi-location weeklong music fest as a cover. They make it into the lobby with no trouble, and blag their way past the security guard with the help of “Webmaster”, the inside man. Using the provided codes of the day, they gain access to the secure elevator, and head down to the lab, gearing up for combat on the way. They emerge into a disturbing scene- arcane sigils line the walls and floor, but appear powered down, and there’s some odd stains and overturned furniture in various states of disrepair just outside the elevator.
Weirdly, as they head further in, the cafeteria, kitchen, med lab and dorms all appear undisturbed, as if they were abruptly abandoned with no time to shutdown or clean up. They find records in the med lab suggesting that the facility has 12 people on staff. They head further in and find the first body – which strangely appears to have been turned into a husk by some sort of magical effect or strange weapon, it looks to Kit like years of decay occurred effectively simultaneously. They find 2 more bodies in a lounge area, who appear to have been killed while napping and gaming respectively, so it seems the killers were either very sneaky, very fast, or both.
They find a secure data lab, which has been breached, and locate the body of lab lead Robert Hammond, who had been summoned down to this lab from Daedelus station after some sort of major discovery here. Carol knows he is a specialist in weaponized manatech, and assumes that something has gone horribly wrong. They also spot that Hammond almost managed to call in Firewatch through a secure line to Carol’s dad, who is working directly under Damien Knight. Kit begins working on gaining access to the servers, while Carol heads back to the lounge to get some water to rehydrate Hammond’s finger to get it to work on the bio-scanner.
As he returns, Carol spots something upsetting- a floating tentacled crab monster made of some void-black like material with odd glowing eyes traveling up and down it’s tentacles. Carol warns the team and they enter combat. They are having trouble damaging it with conventional weaponry, until Tabasco makes some progress with his bow and TT manages to finish it off with a javelin thrust and punch combo. However, it manages to do incredible damage to both TT and his armor, using some spikes on it’s undercarriage- whatever this spirit is seems to be what killed the others here, as TT’s armor rusts and cracks where he is hit, and the area under ages a few years just from the small contact. He’s glad he dodged most of the spikes.
They get into the computer system while Tabasco takes watch in the hallway to keep more threats from sneaking up. Kit manages to wipe the headware systems of a few other scientists on-site, unlock a safe in a different area, and get copies of both project data and Hammond’s notes before wiping the system with nanites. Apparently they found a Latin copy on an ancient book, which contains a formula for summoning strange spirits from an unknown home plane. They managed to summon and bind some of these spirits in special containers, and Hammond was excited about their destructive capabilities, though both the summoning and binding was unexpectedly difficult, even for the talented corp ritualists they brought in for the project.
Then, they accidentally summoned a spirit too powerful to contain, which broke itself and the others free before they could banish it. Almost half the staff was killed in the initial outbreak, and the rest have hunkered down in various different warded areas to monitor the situation and try to regain control. However, nothing they try worked and the spirits seem to have a corrosive effect on magical spells, wards, etc. They eventually gain access to all the employees and kill them, Hammond last of all, just before he can call in the emergency signal. Up til then, he seemed content to merely collect data and hope for the best, not wanting to admit failure.
The team continues, and finds a prep area and 2 doors. They decide to leave the larger door for last, and Tabasco heads into the smaller room, finding the safe which contains the ancient book. He comes under attack from another spirit, and Creature has luckily stripped down and flipped into drake form, where xe finds that xyr elemental water power seems effective against the spirit, as do punches from TT and Kit. They manage to defeat this spirit without significant damage, and open the safe. It was still warder, though the outside is pitted with rust and decay. They find a book with blood-red leather covers, that seems very old, as advertised, but also in remarkably good shape.
They all decide they’ll need to have a convo after they get out of there about whether or not it’s safe to pass this on to AZT, but for now they feel they need to disrupt any other spirits onsite, perhaps as many as 4 more, since otherwise they will likely escape, given time, an cause unknown amounts of trouble. Aradia has noticed that they seem to corrupt the background count at an advanced rate, which is also quite worrying. The team tracks down 2 more spirits in the containment room and manages to disrupt them without much damage to themselves. However, based on the number of destroyed cages there are still 2 spirits missing. The team heads back towards the exit, clearing and closing off room as they go. They get in a brutal brawl with the final 2 spirits, which are both a bit larger. TT almost dies, and Tabasco and Kit are both badly injured.
However, they do defeat the spirits, and then make a pile of all bodies, terminals, notes, etc in the server room, and use some chems from the kitchen and med lab, plus some incendiary arrows, plus a fire spirit to incinerate everything after Kit disables the fire suppression systems in that room. They head back up the elevator, with Aradia maintaining some illusions to prepare for a potential trap. However, they easily leave past the lone lobby guard, who seems professionally uninterested. They all burn their SINs that they got for the job, and get out of Downtown before debating what to do. Tabasco believes strongly that they cannot possibly pass the book along to AZT, feeling that no corp or entity should have access to this awful power. He wants to either destroy it or pass it to Arleesh. However, the rest of the team has money signs in their eyes, and also doesn’t want to take a rep hit or burn their ties to Juan Xiuhuitl. Heavily outvoted, Tabasco gives in, but reiterates that this is deeply wrong.
They contact Webmaster, who passes along the details for the meet. They link up with Izidor Kurtlanik, with a beefier security detail this time, in an empty lot in Redmond, and pass over the book and data. He seems pleased, and gives them the pay. The team mostly heads to various clinics to get some ’ware upgrades and new gear, while Creature heads out to Blake Island to get some drake lessons from G-Dub, having been impressed by how well xyr abilities worked versus the spirits. Tabasco, depressed, gets roped into helping TT make a delivery the next day: the Sea Dragon found an appropriate gift for the Vault of Lore. They pick it up from Eletheria, and head Underground. As usual, Tabasco hangs back at the appropriate point, and TT heads into the Vault. The Lorekeepers are mightily impressed with the gift, a collection of lost texts about 4th World troll culture, language, and magic bound with a folded dragon scale, seemingly from the legendary library at Barsaive, one of the wonders of the 4th World.
The Lorekeepers agree to the Sea Dragon’s proposition to work together on her research needs in exchange for her patronage, and also tell TT about an ork and troll magic order called the Turgan Magnu, who they think will gain valuable knowledge and influence from this. TT is now a member in good standing of the VoL and can come and go as he pleases. He and Tabasco go drinking in celebration, with TT not wanting to just be a tourist, and making sure to spend money when he comes underground. He gets Tabasco to try Hurlg, which goes about as expected. Tabasco staggers back to his safehouse, and finds out that Creature paid him a visit and left him a present: the strange desiccated grub that xe got from the Dis Trader on the moon. Wanting to feel something new after the revelations about his parents and getting outvoted on a moral issue, Tabasco shoves the grub in his mouth and passes out.
He wakes up and finds that grub has replaced his tongue. He can no longer taste normally but seems to be able to “taste” astral space, and calls Aradia up to ask for some lessons. He also thanks Creature for the gift. Initially he mostly notices that his condo tastes a little sad and lonely, though with some recent excitement overlaid. He gets another session with Hard Case, and gets some lessons about how this recent moral defeat could help him define his code and make sure he knows what questions to ask before a job, and what also what jobs not to take, or how and where to define hard lines with the team.
Carol calls up Vogel after he gets out of surgery, and passes along the info about what happened on the mission. He gets an angry call from his dad about the lab, with his dad seeming to suspect his involvement. However, Carol has learned that Excalibur wasn’t quite the failure it was presented as, and knows that his dad knew and still threw him under the bus. Carol tips his dad that AZT has a spy inside ARES, blowing Webmaster’s cover, and then he surprises his dad by not caving to his anger, which seems to throw his dad off, so he ends the call but seems disappointed and still pissed.
Aradia goes clubbing, stopping in at Club Penumbra and chatting a bit with Nyssa Hallas. She gives some warnings that even having shut down the Blue Dragons and Project Iapetus, as well as getting that one Death Ship raided, the disappearances continue. She also says that she had her matrix guy take a look at the Iron Jungle and they have matrix security that is way too good, and also pretty weird and upsetting- not something he had seen before and he didn’t want to get closer to. Hallas also gives Tabasco and Aradia some missions to scope out new joints around town- a hot new private venue in Snohomish amongst them. Aradia gives in to Seducer and takes too many drugs, so TT calls her an armored cab home via Bernie Carter. Aradia also looks into rumors that Spinrad’s newish wife Gabrielle Al’Thani is throwing around a lot of money looking into any potential dalliances he may be engaging in.
Carol talks to Vogel somewhere, and tries really hard not to call him “dad” with all the positive reinforcement he gets. Vogel thanks Carol for the info, discusses where the book came from and what it means (seemingly, when V’Golkatl opened those doors in Kadath before the team captured it, it opened up some previously unknown metaplanar pathways and connections). He tells Carol that there will be a place at ARES waiting for him once Vogel makes his move, as he’ll need useful people that he can trust near to him.