Kitten Caboodle aka Kit
The team gets a call from Samuel Collingsworth, the AZT Johnson Juan Xiuhuitl had warned them to expect, and seemingly wants to sabotage. They set up a matrix meet, and attending, find him to be a total human supremacist, just as they had deduced from his image. He hires them for a data retrieval in the Shattergraves, and says it needs to happen ASAP. They negotiate pay, and get some upfront. They then report in to Juan, who says he’ll make sure the team gets paid regardless of how the job plays out as long as he gets what he wants. For now, he tells them to proceed with the job as planned.
They load up and head deeper into the Zone, noticing some changes. Horizon is reopening Tate’s clinics under their corporate banner, Popular Will attacks and protests are up given Tate’s reported treachery, and the CZ borders are once again sealed and patrolled astrally, seemingly to prevent bugs leaving the Zone. They also hear and see some UCAS military vehicles moving around overhead, all marked with a “III Corps” logo.
Heading towards their target destination, they roll up to a gang checkpoint, the gangers having fortified a major intersection. Sensing some buggy vibes, they decide to shoot and bash through, though Kit insists on minimal lethality since this seems like more low-level gangers caught up in the Fraternitas Insectorum, though the rest of the team doesn’t share Kit’s empathy. They lay down some suppressing fire while Aradia uses some area Foreboding to make gangers think twice, and Creature grenades the jury-rigged gates. Kit bashes through the first one, with the van taking minimal damage from some small arms fire.
They then see a ganger getting a rocket launcher ready to blast them, which confusingly seems to have been fired recently as well. Carol manages to shoot the launcher out of the gangers grip, and TT chucks a harpoon through it without setting it off, and then as Creature grenades the second gate and Aradia uses some illusions to distract gangers, Kit bashes their way out of the trap and they continue on their way.
Driving a bit more, they see an oily cloud of smoke ahead. Investigating, they find the wreck of one of the UCAS choppers they’d seen flying over. It looks like it took a missile hit to the tail section but a very skilled pilot managed to put it down largely intact, though it is now on fire. What to do?! They decide to take a more thorough look and find that a team of UCAS soldiers seems to have fled the scene, but that the pilot seems to have barely survived inside a rigger cocoon. With some spirit assistance, sheet muscle, and engineering know how, they managed to gain access to the partially crushed cocoon and get the pilot, a dwarf, free.
Kit and Aradia manage to stabilize and heal him a bit and get some info- the UCAS feels the corps have failed to contain Chicago and President Colloton sees a wedge issue she can use for political gain in her and her parties favor in the upcoming elections. They’re conducting scout flights with ground penetrating radar to map out the hive network under the city and see if it’s really as bad as rumors say, and early reports do not look good for Chicago. Jenkins, the pilot, agrees to share the data with the team if they help get any other survivors from the flight out of the Zone safely. They agree and use a fire spirit to finish detonating the chopper before the nearby Fraternitas Insectorum gangers can get their and claim the weapons and ammo aboard.
Using Jenkins TacNET conneciton, they find the other survivors, pinned down and surrounded by a hoard of ghouls pouring out of a ruined building nearby. They see the UCAS drone rigger go down as they approach, and Jenkins gets some stims from Kit to get in and take over as drone controller. Kit uses the van as a a ram to clear a path for the soldier to get clear, while laying down suppressing fire with the new mounted gun, along with Carol and Creature (using grenades). TT hops on top of the van to fend off ghouls with his javelins after the van nearly gets wrecked getting clear. Carol also gets a super lucky visual on a concealed toxic shaman who seems to be guiding the ghouls in some way, and 1-shots her with a sniper rifle. The team plus the surviving UCAS soldiers finish the ghouls off quickly after that, as they are all feral.
The soldiers agree to help the team gain access to their job site as they seem to be going to the same place: one of the nearby ruined buildings seems to be a tunnel nexus, and has collapsed in a sinkhole, leaving the data vault that the team needs to reach somewhere underground. The UCAS mage stays up top with Jenkins, who is crashing again from the stims, and they agree to guard the exit and watch the van. The team heads down with the other 3 soldiers, 2 nervous human privates, and a fairly calm troll LT named “Stereotype” Abellard who seems quite competent and skilled. As they begin heading deeper into the wrecked structure, an ominous storm blows in from nowhere and breaks overhead.
They find a lot of evidence of bugs below ground level, but it seems their astral signature was masked by the ghoul pack above- this being the 2nd time they’ve seen this now, they make a note to report this to the Shadow Chapters. They get to the vault without further trouble, and the UCAS soldiers get a lot of useful info as the area is filled with criss-crossing tunnels. Kit manages to use nanites to gain access to the vault, and hops on a terminal inside that is luckily still powered- the room seems quite well-built and sealed. Unfortunately, the opening of the vault door vibrates the whole tunnel around it and the team starts hearing buzzing approaching.
Kit decides to hurry and get the target data, skipping what could be some good paydata, and they hoof it. One of the UCAS soldiers gets grabbed as a side tunnel suddenly opens as they flee, and some spirits manifest to try to stop them but they manage to fight their way back to the surface. They find that the UCAS mage has been corrupted somehow and killed Jenkins and started cutting on himself, so they knock him out and restrain him with mage cuffs. Aradia spots that the dark storm cloud above has some wispy magical tendrils connecting to the mage, and drops out of astral quickly. She calls it in to Lothan, who confirms that V’golkatl is gaining power and acting more openly, having killed most of the other contenders for spirit of the city. The team decides to mage cuff Avocado too til they clear the area, just in case.
They drop the UCAS survivors off near a checkpoint, and Abellard says he’ll be in touch if he can use their help again. They call in to Juan, and are told to securely and secretly copy the file before giving it to Collingsworth. Kit calls in a favor from Remo, who makes quick work of it with a Resonance infusion. They get a copy for the team as well. The team meets digitally with Collingsworth, who is once again a metaracist dick, so they don’t feel bad about screwing him over. Checking the file, they find that it’s old blackmail material about Collingsworth hiring metahuman sex workers, which would be a problem for his human supremacist buddies. But now Juan has a copy too, so they feel comfortable knowing that Collingsworth is going to be in the hot seat, and had to pay out of pocket for the team to screw him.
Juan, as promised, signs up to the Shadow Chapters, and offers KEV ammo and stealth pheromones for sale at a reasonable rate to members taking the fight to the bugs. The team considers this a big bonus. Aradia heads off to learn some new spells from Lothan, having signed up with the Ash Union, and the rest of the team kicks back and patches up armor and vehicles in prep for whatever the next job is.