The team decides to deal with the Vigilia Evangelica’s task first, and sneaks and/or bribes their way through a hillside favela to reach the Disciples of Christ the Redeemer camp, outside of the burned ring around the statue itself. Their approach goes fine, except for Love, who tries to impress and intimidate everyone with his slowly levitating broom, and Toast, who gets spotted by a kid and chased by gangers after tackling the spotter.They all reach their destination eventually, and are introduced to a man named Doutor Leonildo, an elderly troll (and serious mage) who seems to be the head of the order. After witnessing a sermon that seems sort of pan-Christian, they approach him under the guise of healing Chem, who still has major damage to his face from his imprisonment and torture in Bug City. Amazingly, Leonildo manages to smooth and repair some of the melted flesh on his lower face, leaving him a waxy, doll-like appearance, which is (upsettingly) a major improvement.
Everyone is impressed, but the spell he used has tinges of blood magic, which Toff and Love assense, and Fentin is able to taste with his symbiote tongue. Fentin confirms that the same aura lingers around many areas of the camp. Toff engages Leonildo in a lengthy theological discussion, eventually confirming that these people consider themselves followers of the “true” god, who has been tricked or imprisoned away from his power by the god that many Christians mistakenly see as real. So classic Gnostic christianity, except that they seem to have gone a bit further down the path to left-hand path style satanism. However, they are actually healing people, and do seem to be the only ones able to approach the statue (wreathed in crackling purple lightning) unharmed. Toast confirms this after getting lightly crisped by a lightning bolt after he ignores their warnings and tries to approach the statue.
Leonildo confirms that some do die under their care, and that many false believers who try to initiate with them are judged harshly by the statue, but will not openly admit to any more than that. Toff gets a read on some altars and objects around camp and confirms that some blood rituals have been done here, so they hope that satisfies the Catholics. They head back down through the favela, this time all paying a guide, Jaoa, who gives them an intro lesson in Quimbanda, the local religion/tradition of the downtrodden and criminal underclasses. He also explains malandragem: the attitude and way of being that people cultivate to seem tough and gain respect. They also hear tell that all the crime in and around the favelas is run by a group called The Tribunal, but that they are very secretive. Fentin offers his hacking skills on loan in order to try to get in good, and maybe leverage to get an audience if they need to run in the favelas again.
They report to the V.E., who seem satisfied with their intel, and say they will be able to get approval from an Sanction now, allowing them to take more direct action. They don’t seem to care that the Disciples seem to also be doing good work (for the most part), as they view their heresy, combined with the lessening religious belief of many in the 6th World, as a grave threat. They tell the team that so long as the team doesn’t directly interfere with the Church in Amazonia, they will not interfere with the team. One faction off their back at least!
Next up, they plot to raid the cool hunter firm, Looky Looky. Back at the Damon’s Runner Crash Pad, they find that Jack has decided he will tag along on this job, as per their agreement, and already done a bunch of recon. They confirm what he’s found, and make a plan- Gethin will get a Portugese linguasoft to make use of their con skill, and accompany Fentin into the building itself, ambushing and knocking out some night cleaners and stealing their uniforms and RFID ID’s. They forge images of themselves to apply to the ID’s when they swap outfits. They will gain access to the offline server, and get the job done. Meanwhile, to make sure no-one at the firm clues in if anything goes wrong, Toast and Jack will stage a break-in at the penthouse directly above the firm, stealing some valuables, ko-ing any residents, and setting off an alarm as they exit (once the hacking team is done) to give an obvious explanation to any odd activity that the building’s spider or other security might eventually pick up on.
The plan starts off well- Fentin gets Toast added to the penthouse’s “approved visitor” log, which gets him to the door, after which he breaks in, lets in Jack, and ko’s (after briefly toying with- thanks Cat!) a SURGEd joygirl and her Renraku-looking client. They start grabbing various items, which Fentin tags for them as unlikely to have individual alarms. Love and Chem wait in the rented van nearby, doing astral and physical overwatch. Gethin and Fentin get in fine, dose the cleaners with Laes, and get into the clothes. Unfortunately, the cleaners had their kid with them and she screams unexpectedly before they ko her too, alerting a nearby lawyer working late. He pokes his head out of his office, and Fentin and Gethin try to con him back inside, which does eventually work, mostly due to Fentin accidentally venting his bio-waste storage, and the lawyer not wanting to continue smelling that.
This turns out to be a great tool to bluff with, as Fentin’s “illness” is both a cover for why he doesn’t talk, and why the regular cleaners aren’t there- Gethin tells everyone it’s been going around, so people mostly let them pass and keep their distance.They make their way through a few floors of the super hip firm, cleaning as they go, before they find the secure meeting room with the server inside. Gethin takes watch, while Fentin loops some nearby cameras, pops the lock on the door, and swaps the data on the server, just barely avoiding any alarms. He also, being clever, gets the firm’s client list, some paydata he can sell to Mr. Bonds on who’s going to be having a bad season. Fentin hopes this will get him an invite to Brokerage X (which it does!).
They exfiltrate successfully, removing camera loops as they go, and leave some money on certified credsticks for the cleaners. They signal Toast that they are out. Meanwhile, Love has been using illusions, based on a detailed image of the Renraku guy that Toast sent, to distract a driver and bodyguard who showed up to get him. They are getting impatient and starting to disbelieve, however, so it’s time to go- he also signals Toast. Toast and Jack bust open the window, triggering the alarm, and Toast jumps out while firing his grappling hook, while Jack bids farewell, and climbs higher, before smashing into the top penthouse window. The team hears a terrified wail that is abruptly cut off, and then nothing. Toast misjudges his jump distance slightly, and slams into the ground at the bottom of his swing, but isn’t hurt. They hop in the van and skedaddle as sirens sound off nearby.
They ditch the van (and all the stolen goods, except a fancy watch that Toast keeps) in the a nearby favela and send out a wideband message saying “free stuff here”, figuring that the locals will handily disperse everything and muddy up any genetic traces left behind. They split up and take public transit back to the safehouse, a job well done. Watching the news the next day, they see a report of a “terrorist attack” in downtown Leblon, and hear reports that a Renraku executive was killed (not the man Toast ko’ed). It seems like the penthouses may have been a sort of high-end specialty brothel that Renraku either owned or encouraged it’s employees to use, though this doesn’t come out in the news. They pass the data along to the Open Sourcerers, and Bartolomeu Fujimoto tells them that they should make sure they have enough motorcyles for everyone on the team, as their request to meet the Quantumists has been approved. They also get them team some cracked access to some useful intel subscription services, and Fentin and Toast sign up for a few.
The team purchases some bikes, and trains up on them a bit. Toast, Chem and Gethin are driving bikes, with Love and Fentin riding, and Toff on his own gyro-stabilized monowheel. They race off along the highways, southwest through centro to the Sao Paulo side, where the geotag for the meet is. They find a large cargo truck cruising along in the right lane, and get a signal to pull up close and stay ready. As they go under an overpass, they find themselves suddenly boxed in by auto-haulers, and the back of the cargo truck opens- they see a balding man with a long skullet and a thrash-metal shirt hauling the gate up, who then kicks down a ramp, which drags behind the truck, sparking on the highway. He signals them to drive up, and motions for them to hurry. They all get aboard, and he slam the gate shut just as they clear the overpass. He sits back down by the back, cradling a shotgun as the team stows their bikes. They try to talk to him a little but get no response, though Fentin recognizes him (using the new intel subscription) as a wanted fugitive from Europe, who has been active on the AI-rights extreme fringe for years.
A very fashionable woman, all in white, accompanied by a holodrone showing an image of a spinning wooden cup partially filled with liquid, emerge from the front half of the cargo box, through what looks to be a vault door built into a faraday cage bunker. They usher the team in, although they insist Love destroy his commlink, as they say he is being tracked. The team goes along with it, not having much choice. The woman calls the cab and say to take “route B” as they may have been compromised. She introduces herself as Angelhair, and her colleague (the drone) as Holy Grail and asks to see what they’ve brought for decryption. The team passes over the data, and makes some small talk while looking around.
Toff notices an altar to Saint Macrina the Younger, an obscure Catholic saint who believed that automata proved the existence of God. He inquires about the altar, and AH says that some members of their Order view it more literally and some more metaphorically, but that their goal is to Merge and Ascend, making their own God- the singularity. She refers to this as the “Great Work”. She says they will crack the code that the team has provided, but that it may take time. They will also need to the team to perform some services for them, as they don’t really need money or anything else the team can offer more directly. They have 2 tasks: the first is to make contact with the local peacemaker dragon named Pedrinho, and do as he asks. They say this will hopefully ensure a good relationship with the state, and allow for the Quantumists physical security. Second, they need the team to do a foundation dive locally, and shut down some mousetraps, digital glue traps designed to ensnare AI’s and e-life. They believe Renraku is the prime local culprit, and suggest starting there. This will ensure the matrix is safe for the Quantumists here. This all gives the impression that the QM’s are newly arrived, which they confirm, and that they hope to make this a longer-term base.
The team also notices that, although a lot of their tech is modded or homebuilt, the bulk of the environmental systems and such is all Wuxing manufacture. They race down the ramp again out the back of the truck in a long tunnel near some old water culverts, and cruise back to Rio. Gethin finally invests in some cyber upgrades, and gets a little faster as well as getting a skilljack. They head to Pedrinho’s lair, the Inner Garden, and find a beautiful and well-appointed dwelling. They meet with the dragon, or someone who they think is him at least, and have some delicious drinks while he briefs them on the task at hand. He needs them to root out some corrupted elements within DISA, the feared state security apparatus. He was leaked some intel by members of DMAIC, the state economic/environmental/etc agency, who want him to act against their rival organization. He seems slightly weary of the infighting and politics of it all, but says they he agreed to do it, since the traitors in DISA are actually up to something dangerous: supporting members of Logos in gaining access to a powerful ritual site. He doesn’t exactly where or when, but has some suggestions for the team to check.
He also hints that if they succeed, DMAIC has the power to make things very easy for whatever corp or other entity is backing the QM’s. The team agrees, and gets Frosty Jane to fly them to the Northern freeport of Parimbo, where they can base out of while exploring 2 of the ritual site options: the Rego Grande (aka Amazonian Stonehenge) and the Inga Stone. They do some research, and hear that the RG site is rumored to be able to absorb massive amounts of drain, so they decide to investigate there first. They also hear there is a large military presence. Love buys a new commlink and decides to upgrade his fake SIN while in town, to make their forged papers as visiting scholars and guards more believable. They find some yakuza running the local SINdicate, and hire them to get to work. Toff and Love hang out with the coders, a bunch of teenagers in a dingy backroom, while Fentin stands watch. Chem, Gethin and Toast head for a nearby bar, having heard that not only does Parimbo smuggle a ton of arms, they also smuggle rum!
Fentin watches as some Vory toughs size him up, and tries out his newly learned intimidating stare as one strides over. However, the man walks right past him and into the yakuza den, where he opens fire with a cyber-smg, aiming for Love and Toff but racking up considerable collateral damage. Toff manages to bind him with an illusion, but the man swiftly explodes, killing most of the coders in the room. The team makes a swift exit from town as the Yak and Vory start shooting at each other, and some of the local merc’s and roustabouts join in. Toast checks Neutral Ground and finds that their bounties are still active, and also that a few Ro’s have been killed. Fentin realizes that since Love was getting a high quality fake SIN, and needed it quick, they were likely making a ton of social media history and such in his biometrics all in one place- the kind of activity that if someone (with access) was looking for could point them right to Love’s location. The Pupper Master Killer strikes again!
They get back to the airfield outside of town, and manage to convince some military people to allow them to ride along in a convoy out the RG site, using their forged doc’s. After jouncing along bad roads for most of day, stopping frequently to cut and burn back vegetation, they reach the site, and camp for the night, bribing the quartermaster for some supplies. They are impressed by the scale of the place, and the large military presence guarding it. Love summons a spirit which detects traces of Logos nearby- they seemingly also were/are investigating the site, but don’t have a sizeable presence, and it looks like the military is ramping up. The obelisks themselves have all twisted towards each other, and gotten quite sharp, as the team finds out when they touch them. Toff gets some info as well- this site seems to have been built by descendants of the 4th world’s human societies, similar to the druids in England.
However, this site (as well as the Inga Stone, and the 3rd site, Iguaza Falls) were all used by Hualpa and the other founders of the state to regrow the jungle, rapidly, in a powerful ritual. A group called the Righteous Province took part in this, and were the keepers of this place until they had some sort of falling out with Hualpa, and were forcibly removed. The team decides that the ritual likely won’t occur here, and based on chatter on Jackpoint and elsewhere, they think the Falls are the likeliest bet. They debate whether to check out the Stone while they’re nearby or not- Toff got the vibe that the stone predated humans in this place, and is very curious.