Kitten Caboodle aka Kit
Aradia, the Street Witch
The team, having set up the meeting and gotten (almost) everyone committed to attending, takes a chill day to restock on gear and upgrade some ‘ware. They cash in their payment bonuses from Tate’s clinic, with Carol getting some major cyberleg upgrades. They do a little checking around for any hints of ambushes or trouble for the meeting but don’t find any.
Simon Andrews asks them to do external security for the meeting but Avocado talks his way inside, not wanting to miss out on the moving and shaking. Old Crow and Quantum Princess are there already setting up the Faraday cage/matrix sec, and Red and Lothan the Wise are working on magical sec. Lothan keeps muttering about dark clouds and ill portents.
The attendees start arriving, the only notable friction is some tension between Wingman and Ken Ichiro/the Yak, and between Shiro Seto and many of the others, he seems quite haughty. Simon is bantering and keeping things light while they wait for the last few arrivals, when the team gets a call from Long Pig Farms: the BBQ came under attack by gangers and bug merges! They request assistance, and Kit, ThinkTank and Creature race up that way. Just as the reach the North Zone, the team receives another call: Becky 99, Praxis, and the other Desolation Angels who were planning to attend got caught in an ambush by some Ramblers wearing bug masks, and they also request aid. Carol, Avocado, and Aradia head that way, taking Candice’s car. Some of the bodyguards split off to do more exterior sec.
Both the teams reach their targets right around the same time, in time to intervene and help out, just as they receive a third call: Juan Xiuhuitl was also ambushed by bug gangers on the way in, and is pinned down and requesting aid. The gangers that hit him and B99 were using jammers, They also get a call from Tate that his facility is under attack and was hit with an EMP, so he won’t be able to make the meeting, but he says his defenses will hold and to help the others. The North team helps chase the bug gangers off- they fall back pretty quickly. The South team has the same experience: suspicious?
All of their armor battered, the team is horrified to receive yet another call from Maggie Goldberg’s assistant, Carol Staples: the meeting was attacked by bugs! It’s a whole disaster! They race back, abandoning Juan to his fate (luckily he survives, but loses his guards and rides, as well as his limited respect for the team). They find the warehouse the meeting was at on fire and collapsing. Avocado runs in, lighting on fire, and gets a quick scan of the area. Aradia also summons a fire spirit to look for survivors and manages to pull Carol Staples out from under a Blue Samurai corpse which was sheltering her. She shares video footage and seems somewhat shell-shocked, and they review the drone footage as well.
What they piece together: wasp spirits first assaulted the magical wards, bombarding them from the top. The bodyguards split off from the central area to cover entrances. Then, a massive crater opened under the central table, pouring out ant and roach spirits. This level of spirit cooperation is unheard of and strange. Many of the VIP’s at the meeting are dragged down into the crater by ants and roaches, while trapped in wasp spit. Seto seems to have killed himself with his guard’s assistance in order to avoid capture, and SId Gambetti was killed while fighting bugs. Candice and Simon look to have made it out together, with Candice using some kind of FABIII field effect suit mod.
Holmes manages to transfer his consciousness away, Mako is revealed as a free spirit and flees in the astral after nearly getting overwhelmed by bugs, Ryu Quan and Flurris also flee in the astral, and Wingman manages to blast free on a portable jetpack and get back to his VTOL. Ken Ichiro is killed, but one of his Monad copy bodyguards gets away, so at least one instance of him survives. Mrs. Clean barely makes it out, and loses most of the baby runner team she brought as bodyguards, which she seems to feel awful about- she’s one of the only ones the team is able to get ahold of and says she is (and likely the others are) going to ground til they figure out who the traitor is.
Carol calls this all in to Dr. Ellis, unable to get ahold of Candice (maybe another EMP?), and passes along some data about bug cooperation. Ellis is fascinated and asks for more. She also agrees to send a sanitation crew and tells the team to clear the immediate area. Shortly after, the building is flattened by explosives and flooded by FABIII from some cloaked supersonics doing a flyby from O’Hare. Carol posts a warning to the Shadow Chapters and NooseNet about the FAB risk in the area.
Simon calls and pays the team to show up for a meeting.They debate going to Tate’s first, but he says they are rebuilding at his spot and he’s fine, so they’d only be in the way. The team is a little worried about that but decides to prioritize what they know is wrong. They meet with Simon at what seems like one of his safehouse/meeting spots, and gets the rundown. After assuring each other that none of them are the traitor to the best of their abilities, Simon offers them additional pay plus a bonus per VIP rescued to get working ASAP on trying to get people back- Chicago’s defenses will be pretty wrecked without these folks present.
The team heads out, deciding to swing by Goober’s first to repair armor from the earlier fight. Goober is in a PTSD flashback, but Avocado manages to snap him out of it a bit. They go back to the warehouse to do some tracking. With drones and Carol’s amazing skills and TT’s strength, they manage to get on the bug’s trails, and follow them through some tunnels bored into and through the sewers. They eventually get clear of any FAB traces and the rest of the team joins Carol and TT in the sewers. They find where the bugs emerged- they seem to have gotten into an unexpected battle with a large Union patrol near the Shattergraves.
The team examines the scene, and notices that some dour dwarf ladies are helping the wounded into a local night shelter, but all seem to be acting suspiciously similarly. There are some evanescing bug corpses present, as well as various metahumans. Kit brings the van around and they and Aradia try to help heal those they can. Creature spots a preteen nervously filming everything from a hiding place, and they bribe the kid for the footage, with too much money and a really nice gun that Carol doesn’t use much. Apparently the Union patrol stumbled into the bugs and they got into it, it sounds like Old Crow, Quantum Princess, and Sarah Silverleaf all got brought into the shelter by the dwarves, but the kid overheard one of the dwarves tell one of the bugs to take the other captives to the “Tower” and they would get these ones there soon.
The team, worried that this shelter is another Universal Brotherhood deal, get ready to raid the shelter and try to rescue whoever they can! Aradia mind probes one of the dwarf woman, which seemingly alerts all of them to her as a threat. The rest of the team fights off syringe-wielding nurses while Carol makes a break for it and runs inside. Pretty horror show in there, he spots a bunch of neighborhood people on disturbingly thick IV’s, which he yanks out of as many as he can after questioning one newer arrival who says “noone ever comes back from the basement.”
He dashes around, finds the basement, and manages to shoot another nurse just before she kills Old Crow. He takes out the last nurse as well as the rest of the team mops up upstairs and starts trying to stabilize people, unhook IV’s, etc. Quantum Princess was killed before Carol could get there but they manage to save Sarah Silverleaf as well. Aradia uses a crucial detox spell to get her and OC back to semi-functional, and they call Simon to get medial onsite to make sure everyone else there doesn’t just get taken advantage of. They decide to pause and wait for medical to arrive to make sure, which takes about 10 minutes.
Next, they race for the old Truman Tower- the tallest building in Chicago. Doing some recon, they see that the now quite heavy winter storm that has blown in seems centered around the tower, obscuring it’s upper levels (which already often sit above the clouds). They debate ways to enter, and knowing about the swirling mass of gangers that usually occupy the building decide for an unconventional entry. Kit zips everyone up the 300th floor one at a time with the VTOL, after Aradia did some astral recon and reported that the 50 floors above are all warded. TT calls Wingman to arrange extraction, as Spire Enterprises is nearby, and manages to convince WM that the team weren’t the traitors at that meeting.
Avocado goes up first and gets dogpiled by a bunch of mixed-faction gangers, all wearing the Fraternitas Insectorum masks. Carol, TT, and Creature follow in quick succession, with Kit doing some stellar rigging to get reinforcements up fast. They finish off the gangers in time for Kit and Aradia to arrive safely, with Aradia calling a fire spirit to keep them warm during the rest of their ascent in the partially ruined and largely exposed skyraker. Kit manages to use nanites to override the old elevator security, and TT gets WM to hit the ward with a few missiles, after Aradia’s attempt to sneak them through fails. They get in a nasty close quarters fight with a wasp spirit that forces itself into the elevator, but manage to prevail, though Avo is badly hurt again.
They reach the penthouse and empty out into a nightmare scene, with the elevator breaking and falling behind them after Kit overclocked it to rush. There is a massive multi-story ant mound, and a shaman appears to be attempting another Queen ritual, this time with Maggie Goldberg, as caretaker spirits prepare to sacrifice Nick Ryder, Red, and Lothan, all encased in cocoons, but still cogent. Ryder yells to the team to save the others, as does Red, while Lothan tells them to save him! Also, some soldier spirits charge.
Figuring that the strategy worked well the last time, the team goes hard on the shaman right off the bat, while Kit rushes over to try to save hostages. Kit manages to take a hit that would have killed Red, and Carol manages to blast the spirit that was about to kill Lothan, but they’re unable to save Ryder, who is decapitated, further powering the ritual. TT and Creature manage to take out the shaman (and Maggie, sadly) after the shaman plunges a dagger into her chest, channeling the sacrifice energy from Ryder. The explosion from Creature’s grenade sends the knife flying who knows where but also disrupts the ritual, causing some bad psychic feedback that hurts the team and momentarily disorients the ant spirits.
The team takes advantage to finish off the fighters, with Creature finally making good use of xyr garrote, and then quickly free Lothan and Red, who help Aradia get the team warmed up and levitating in order to escape the wave of ants that is approaching up the side of the building. They fly away as quick as they can, getting buffeted about by the storm, but manage to hold together long enough for Wingman to do a heroic rotorcraft rescue just below the chop. They get paid from Simon, receive thanks for the various people and communities they helped, and rest and recuperate. There will surely be more work soon, since the bugs are definitively back.