Otters aka Roadkill
Otters rejoins the crew, having gotten Moreau sufficiently set up at the Bloomfield biodrone reserve for the time being. Tabasco needs to spend some time prowling the city and getting a feel for the vibes again, so takes off for a bit. Chew Gum continues to help out the local area and communities that he and Jaga have connected with. Dig and Creep convince Otters to make an appointment at the Run and Sollars Private Library to look for some tunnel maps. Otters, having used their resources before, does so, careful not to mention his connection to the 3 who were there the day prior, when they trashed the place a bit and killed some Shifting Pyre guys who were legit clients.
Otters VTOLs over, and sees that the library is still being defended by the steampunk-y runner crew, who he recognizes as a hacker gang called The Coquillards. They’re loosely French-Canadian nationalists, which explains why they didn’t come to the big meeting at the Plat Zone, as they believe Windsor should split back off from Detroit. Luckily, this means they aren’t familiar with Otters’ new crew, so she doesn’t run into any trouble there. She does share some intel with their leader Prospero about the UCAS Army III Corps headed their way, which they appreciate.
Then Otters spends a while researching and finds an old KE training map about Detroit Down Below navigation, as well as some intel suggesting that ghoul communities might be good to reach out to. She also finds the name of a library volunteer “Daiyana Dimeeko” who seems to have annotated some of these files most recently. Dig keeps working on re-building his ritual circle in the long storage bolt hole, while Creep catches up on some flatvid reruns off his hard drive.
They link back up and decide to reach out to some of the ghouls they know, and radio over to Smee at Neverland Candy Shoppe. Smee tracks down Rains for them and a few hours later they chat on the radio, and make an agreement to trade the ghouls for updated DDB/tunnel maps in exchange for helping the ghouls deal with whoever is behind Fear The Dark locally, and with pushing out good PR about the ghoul community here.
Rains puts them in touch with a Chicago ghoul named Pretty who is in town looking to see if Long Pig Farms could take advantage of the chaos and move up here, and the team arranges to meet her at the Plat Zone that evening. While travelling around the city the team notices that a merc corp, the 77th Independent Rangers, seems to be significantly bolstering ARES forces in Zones 1 and 5, but combat seems to have settled down a bit in both areas.
They arrive for the meet at the Plat Zone, and find the area further expanded and fortified. Pretty is waiting for them with a small mixed group of local and Chicago ghouls who they don’t know, and is made up to appear as “baseline human” as possible- more effective at a distance than up close where it gets a little uncanny valley, but she explains that it helps her be a point of contacts with local normies and civilians who aren’t necessarily used to dealing with ghouls, ARES having kept the large underground community fairly secret.
She shares a PR doc that previous team members had helped write in Chicago with the current team, some of whom recognize it from the team file. She says it helped a lot in the Bug City wrap up times, but without the bugs as a unifying threat, those in power in Chicago are using fear of infection (and FTD) to make ghouls and vamps the new bogeymen to justify their crackdowns in the CZ as the corps continue to rebuild and reclaim there. It’s still a good party, but maybe not for the Infected anymore.
She tells the team to feel free to share that doc around, but that they have a few more specific jobs in mind to trade for the underground maps. She suggests looking for wealthy vamps or other secret cabals who would benefit from using Fear the Dark as a fearmongering tool- since a lot of lone wolves claim the name, they’ll likely never be able to stop them entirely, but if they can cut off the head of the org, locally, it should go a long way.
She also wants them to track down Ellis- apparently Ellis had a dead man’s switch which sent a message to the Chicago ghouls about the viability of eating ALPHA flesh, and Pretty wants to return the favor, especially as Ellis had hinted at possible further ghoul food developments she was working on in her free time. As far as Pretty can tell, Ellis was grabbed by the mafia, then grabbed by some organleggers and stashed at the port and then captured by maggots when they breached the stacked human smuggling cargo containers from underground.
Dig’s been getting some looks from various people at the Plat Zone as he is only wearing illusory clothes to make his animal form transitions easier, so he mods his illusion so that his shirt reads “Choose to Believe.” People seem to have larger concerns but Otters gets a little worried about how this would go over in more polite company in the future. Regardless, the team agrees to the job, and Pretty says the ghouls will have some transports ready for any other hostages the team can rescue from the maggots, to bring them to the Plat Zone to get checked out for Inhabitation and generally healed up.
The team heads over to the port and finds it fully and openly under mafia control. Dig goes up to talk to them and they seem weirded out by him and his nakedness but intrigued by his proposal, til Otters jumps in and uses her good rep to get the Mancino family fixer Mr. Friday to intervene. He seems to recognize Dig and Creep from a previous bad run-in with the mob, but Otters is solid enough and the plan seems to their benefit so he agrees. The team agrees to seal the hole after they’re done (with magic) and track down the traitorous infiltrators that Friday says were involved in the initial collapse. He charges the team a bit of money on principle but they pay up, and repel down the large crater in the midst of the piled stacks of isontainer in The Yards. The mafia has it ringed with autoguns and sensors, which they don’t turn off as the team rappels down, an eerie feeling.
They find the wreckage of 2 stacks of isotainers that dropped into the large hole, and evidence that it was blown open rather than tunneled. Looking inside the containers, they find evidence of longterm people holding/smuggling- racks of cheap bunks with restraints and IV’s. Dig, in dog form, plus a spirit he summons, plus all the drones manage to sense a few trails, and correctly ID which one the hostages were brought down, while Creep uses his navigation implants to orient them while travelling in the pitch black tunnels, a mix of man-made and bug dug.
They eventually track their way to a massive old storm overflow cistern, filled with about 100 captives, who are overseen by 4 ant workers who are slowly walking through the crowd feeding them some kind of goop. The captives seems more sedated than restrained. As they watch, 2 beetle warriors emerge from the opposite tunnel and grab 2 of the captives and lead them off somewhere- likely for inhabitation. They make a quick plan, and Otters doubles back with the spirit guarding him to set up 2 C4 charges, while Creep sneaks through the crowd of captives to place the 3rd.
The team sneaks past another worker spirit in the tunnels while doing so, lines up their shots, and then hits the detonators and triggers their ambush. They manage to drop all 4 worker spirits before they can respond, and successfully fully or partially collapse all 3 tunnels they were aiming to. They debate trying to winch the captive back up through the mafia-guarded hole, but hearing some angry digging sounds from beyond the collapsed tunnel areas, decide to take a faster but more dangerous route. Otters zips down the new tunnel under the water, which looks like a recent bug connection to Otto Hendricks’ old turf in North Windsor, and though it is leaking it isn’t collapsed yet.
She pauses to plant some explosives at a weak point while Dig throws up some concrete spells to further hold back bug pursuer and the spirit and Creep get the captives moving. They seem quite docile so once they start going it isn’t too hard to get them all going along, though the team is only able to save 80 out of 100. They blow the tunnel just behind another concrete spell and fell a terrible water pressure rush in, washing away the pursuing bugs and eventually shooting a little geyser of water out of the concealed basement exit they find in Windsor.
They call up the ghouls to pick up the survivors for medical care, and one of the survivors comes over and removes a magical diguise- it’s Ellis! She thanks the team for the rescue and says she’ll go with the ghouls for now and debrief them later. They ask her what happened to the nymph and she tells them not to worry about it. The team, having previously committed to letting her make her own choice between ghouls and Vogel, and with Dig unable to read her aura, let her go.
Pretty and Rains seems satisfied, and send the updated maps, with the promise from the team that they will continue to help with the FTD and PR issues. Now they just need to track down and kill Otto Hendricks! On a few nights worth of Radio Free Detroit, they hear a couple updates: it seems like the local situation has entered a kind of stalemate, with ARES (Knight) vs. Irregulars vs. Bugs (+ Hendricks’ ARES assets) vs. ALPHAS, where ALPHAS are the terrifying wildcard who prefer to fight bugs but will fight anyone. There are reports that Zones 1 and 5 are relatively safe for Irregulars as long as they are running ID, as the 77th Independent Rangers have repeatedly refused ARES orders to fire on fellow mercs, so long as they aren’t firing at them first.
Dig calls around looking for someone to teach him the Mind Probe spell, which Myrryr seems to regard as deeply unethical. Smoach agrees to help though, and gets him a contact from someone in Vendors Row, if she’s still alive, named Grandmother Biyu. The team is awoken by an unscheduled update on the radio- the UCAS Army III Corps, as well as a town in western PA that they were near, appear to have vanished. Jackpoint, Nexus, Asgard etc are all freaking out trying to figure out if it’s a new camo system or something more sinister, but it seems something is definitely afoot…..