Otters aka Roadkill
Tabasco aka Cholula
Creep catches up with the team after one of his occasional “wander around and get the lay of the land” multi-day solo adventures. There seem to be no ALPHAs left anywhere that Creep has seen- which is disturbing to say the least, as the bug-killing manatech device didn’t have infinite range, as proven by the Bee cult’s survival by the Blight. That said- less ALPHAs and no bugs seen, so that’s good in it’s own ways. The team speculates a bit as to what this all might mean. Cholula gets a call back from Jaliyah Angel in Seattle that the ASPS is sending a Shedim specialist, Patricia Loveland, from DeeCee, to look into the Shadow spirit corpe possession issue, at the team’s request.
Chew Gum also follows up with Cass Wandering Horse, the contact he was given by The Walker In Ways, who are both also looking into local magical weirdness post-bug. Cass has a lot of tips and rumors, but not alot of hard info, as he explains he is also fresh in from DC. He seems to be a NAN political operative who left when things started heating up along the borders, though he may be interested in some political realignments in Detroit now. However, he gives some good tips for a promise of future info or services rendered, and the team starts digging.
They look up 3 of the spirits/ancient gods Cass had mentioned, and do some info trading around town to find out more where they can. They get some good leads but no hard evidence, and check in with Ringmaster, who confirms that he will pay for further investigations into any/all magical threats in the city. He also confirms that the job to investigate the missing III Corps at Site 000 is still a go, so the team plans to leave for that once they get the sub back (as they will need to smuggle Cholula safely out of town, as he is detectable as a bug, which surely someone will be looking out for).
They call Loveland, and share a lot of info re: Shadow spirits, possession vs inhabitation, gateways vs portals vs rifts, belief powering magical potency, and the like. This all seems promising until Cholula outs himself as a Beta, without much of an explanatory lead-in, and Loveland cuts the call, texting the rest of the team that they’ve been compromised. They hope she’ll come around after further digging on her own, as she is also connected with Old Crow, Jackpoint etc amongst other runners resources.
Otters manages to get a Fly Spy into The Scar above downtown, and before the drone fails from acid and other elemental damage, she manages to get faint footage transmitted of what looks like barren insect tunnels, which both Ellis and Cholula verify look like Vhortas, minus the biomatter. Ellis hints at strange overgrown ruins in Vhortas that are the only locations the teeming masses of bugs won’t occupy, but neither Ellis no Cholula are able to comprehend why from their limited memories.
Ellis also shares info about the other end of the Daedelus space station portal that ARES was maintaining until the team shut it down. ARES was able to establish a stable fortress, called Colony (Damien Knight was never one for clever names it seems) using some very advanced magic, this is where the original Beta’s live- though these are all Firewatch members sent to the insect plane on the principle that if bugs can inhabit humans here, maybe humans can inhabit bugs there? Which seems to have had some limited success.
However, given the endless nature of the plane, Ellis doesn’t think they’d ever be able to “defeat” the bugs- so she isn’t sure what these empty tunnels signify, though it could be an area of Colony- perhaps the magitech device from Vogel linked up with something on the other side. Apparently, according to notes Ellis was able to recover, ARES had managed to stabilize Colony enough that non-merges could safely live there for some time, though she is not sure if they have survived since the space portal was closed (or if another has been opened….). Based on the Manus Ruinae containment lab that recent former team members raided in Seattle, this all certainly seems possible.
Ellis is also worried about what happened to the ALPHAs, and reveals that what Vogel asked her to do was broker contact- she isn’t sure that it occurred, or what was discussed, but she had enabled Vogel to access the ALPHAs secure comms network. She had been hoping to discover some means of saving or stabilizing them, but no luck so far. She still hopes to find a way to allow the original Betas from Colony to return, which they currently can’t do due to evanescence issues. Regardless, she wants more data and suggests to the team that a lot of ARES offices, black sites, and also the HQ could make good targets for raids if they want that kind of work, there’re plenty of other at it currently.
They also discuss the situation undergound, and get worried about what threats still lurk in the Detroit Down Below now that the bugs are gone, since Ellis reports that some ghoul allies have recently gone missing. They discuss a variety of different hypotheses and theories about it all, before finally getting the sub, fully repaired, back from Goober, and getting ready to get underway out to Dutchville.