and introducing: Arthur Carewell and WLOG/Beanie
The team (reduced in number) messages Fargus Sol and then disappears into the NJ safehouse until the 1st. They rest, heal up, and debrief, and do what limited research they can with no matrix access. Teeth tries to read the book twice and injures himself badly, almost dying. They emerge into 2079 seemingly free of pursuit after Nanuli clears them. They pay Nichols to smuggle them back to Terminal, and get back to their safehouse, which happily seems undisturbed. Test splits off to go check on GC at his bolthole while the rest of the team responds to messages.
Test gets the word from GC that they have found a contact through Marry Me who’s willing to trade a run for some intel on getting into The Towers. He makes initial contact and is very awkward but arranges to meet “Beanie” shortly, and gives them team a heads up. He games with GC for hours and then heads back to Terminal. Hotkey heads off to visit his fam in Queens, and his wife Enkaa says she has a job through her contacts at Sierra Corp to take out a toxic shaman named T. Crapper who used to be deniable asset for them (pre-toxic, they say). HK runs it by the team, and they agree- DIMR has a live capture bounty out publically, but Sierra wants him dead before anyone else can grab him.
Meanwhile, the team has gotten paid (well) by Fargus, including a link to some fresh SINs, and pass off the book to Man of Many Names and some other runners who show up to get it to Arleesh’s vault. Fargus confers with them and tells them that the other 2 surviving books likely also contain 3 “true” engravings each, and that 1 is held by the Catholics. The other is lost in a series of runs/losses/acquisitions amongst the mystic orgs of the world- Black Lodge, IOND, Big D stuff, and Atlanteans being the best bets. He says he will pay well if they come across it, or rumors of it.
They also take a paycut with him to get tarot info from Emily Llanfrechfa, to try to track down Aylin and 6 Cyl. They also link up with Aylin’s dad, Arthur, who has come to town looking for Aylin to report on his latest findings in the Seelie Court. He needs to put together some funds for his next expedition, so he asks the team if he can run with them while they look for his daughter on the side. With his help, they do some metaplanar and tarot research and determine that the set of Aces likely hint that Aylin and 6C will next appear at the Gate of Kadath that links to the mountain pass down from Id, in 40 days time. Whether this is 40 days of Gaia time or metaplanar time, they don’t know, but decide to get at least a small greeting party there in early february in case their friends appear.
They gear up a bit at Tiger Leer’s shop in Terminal, and meet up with Beanie, who offers them a truck heist job, in exchange for Towers help. He seems extensively implanted and kind of weird, but very helpful, which matches his local rep from what HK can find. They start researching the truck job, since it also pays a bit and has a timeline, and begin to make a plan for how to find, seize, and alter the truck’s path without getting caught or noticed. They execute the plan without too many hitches, managing to stage a traffic slowdown on a bridge and get aboard concealed by spirits, while hacking the transponder, autopilot, and guards biomonitors.
They divert the truck manually to the Bronx, bribing some border crossing guards on the jurisdictional transition from Queens. They deliver it unexamined, but decide to try to take one quick look in the back- looks like something alive there, but some kind of dense lead sheathing prevents further detection via radar or astral. They get paid and take off, and WLOG’s handler tells him there will be more work soon. They get down to business- figuring out what to do about WLOG in general since they discovered his AI nature mid-mission. He gives them enough of his backstory and whatnot to justify himself to them, and some of the team seems very onboard with e-life while others are still skeptical (or just ignorant).
They start looking further into T. Crapper, and debating whether to to kill him for Sierra Corp, or cash him in for the alive bounty with DIMR. They also do a little digging on the followup mission from WLOG’s handler- they need to find a secret lab and infiltrate it, bring some specialty equipment with, and get something out. Surprisingly, this seems to be the same lab Test was rescued from, as the recon footage they are given is the footage of his rescue. The plot thickens…. Meanwhile, Kinnie decides to look into acquiring more grav particles, and takes off for a bit.
They decide to tackle assassinating the toxic shaman T. Crapper first, since there’s a public capture bounty and the team wants to make sure to get paid. They begin doing some astral and matrix research, and pull some strings through Enkaa (Hotkey’s wife) to get some intel from Sierra Corp. They manage to ID 2 likely targets who might be next on Crapper’s kill list, and also ID a Newark-based gang he may be working with. They do some favors and funding assistance for the Ghoul Liberation League in exchange for Vasuda Mueller getting them access to The Rotten Apple (the local shadow VPN) as well as getting the number of a semi-corruptable KE detective, Emmanuel Theta.
Avocado calls Theta, and tells him to answer the next time he gets a call from this number for a hot tip that will benefit KE, and then turns his burner off so it can’t be traced. They plan to make sure KE can take credit for the job so they don’t get tied to Sierra (worried about New York’s scene pegging them as corp types) and that Sierra doesn’t get tied to whacking one of their former deniable assets (bad for their rep). They also make contact with another Newark gang, the Rahway Blades, who have beef with the Toxic Marauders (the gang likely helping Crapper).
They get the Blades to watch the 2 likely targets, and get a report back a few days later of Toxics watching the less secure of the 2. The team heads to Jersey via skimmer smuggling, and picks up a van the Blades stole for them. They then find the Toxics, hack their comms, and examine their auras, and trace both matrix and astral paths back to a local superfund site: the old waste treatment facility that failed during Crash 2.0, killing and poisoning many in the area. Teeth and Arthur go up against a toxic spirit, followed by T. Crapper himself, and are both felled. Luckily the team is able to revive them via the med drone, and Teeth spends some time suffusing both of them with healing energy before they head back, as well as summoning a powerful spirit of his own.
Meanwhile, Avocado convinces the Blades to delay the 2 cars full of Toxics to keep them away, and race towards the site. Test, HK, and WLOG manage to hack the security barrier around the site, and WLOG transfers his consciousness to an aerial surveillance drone, which he barely levels out before it crashes after his takeover. Teeth and Arthur manage to significantly wound Crapper, but he sprung a trap on them and KO’s both again. WLOG spots him with the drone, and HK and Test quickly upload a program and some TM threading to overclock it, and WLOG dive-bombs it into the wounded Crapper as he makes a digital escape back to his usual body.
The team hears a whump and explosion, and has the drone feed, so they assume they got him, and call it in to Theta as they flee. Theta seems happy enough to take credit based on the subsequent news conference, and the team hopes they have a new contact. They also see some news reports that go a bit into Crapper’s tragic backstory, which they didn’t really find out much about ahead of time. They ditch the van, get paid (and increase Enkaa’s standing with Sierra, thereby), and get smuggled back to the safehouse. WLOG buys HK and family a fancy pizza dinner, so HK heads off to do that.
Meanwhile, Kinnie gets some work done a side job, looking into who’s kidnapping Monads and TM’s and the like around town. He finds some corp teams doing pickup from Barrens bounty hunters, and traces them back to a secret entrance into an underground facility hidden in a parking ramp. Kinnie gets some payment of more Grav Particles from Plan 9/10 in return, and the promise of more for more work. The team gets another job offer from the local STV office: they need to do some very specific but seemingly randomly targeted murders. They agree due to a large payout, and then realize (once given more details) that they will be helping a wealthy serial killer attempt to escape punishment for his crimes. Thus begins a moral debate about what the right move is here, especially since they already accepted the job…