Ratched the Hatchet
The team goes over the info from the NeoNET and Murai labs, after Prot0 cracks it all open. Not only do the learn a lot about the truth of what’s going on in Boston, they get a ton of valuable paydata. They decide to look further into some of the other jobs on their list, and head to the Roxx. They witness a duel at the Coliseum foretold on one of their Tarot cards, and wager a small amount. They should have bet more as they double their money and the card goes blank afterwards. PPJ meets a spellcaster with implanted Blood Crystals who agrees to pass his contact info along if he himself is contacted again by the mysterious group who provided them to him.
They make nice with the Centurions, who seem to be ex-spec ops and are protecting a large civilian populace near their arena, although the whole Roman thing is a bit much. They then head further south, and set up some transmitters for the Wicked, in exchange for that gang getting a message to the Murai survivors, who have joined up with ex-Boston Manatech employees to start an anti-corp “free” lab somewhere in southern Boston, hoping to eventually make contact with the Ex-Corporate Scientists.
The Wicked are setting up an ad-hoc comms network in southern Boston and requests the team find high/hard to access points to mount the relays to make it less likely head cases will get to them. They mount 3 at various points, encountering a toxic wolf adept sniper at an otherwise abandoned university but making a deal with him to avoid combat. The Wicked reward the team with a meeting with a Murai scientists, who seems only too happy to fill the team in on Reversers as well as their overall plan, after Jonny butters him up. They make plans to coordinate further, and Prot0 convinces Victor Markwart to join them after they learn the Coriolis stream together under Grimes’ protection.
While in the Roxx, they also visit some Urban Tribes and find many of them claiming to work on behalf of the spirit of the city (which makes the Denver survivors a mite nervous). They recruit Charlease Newman to the IOND at Olivier’s request, after PPJ makes a deal that she can keep brewing potions to help the enclaves down south. PPJ also views her as a potential ally to change the IOND from the inside.
The team then meet with the new Vatican reps they’ve heard are looking for them, and apparently seem like such a low threat that the reps basically pledge to stay out of the team’s biz so long as the team stays out of theirs. They won’t say that they’re “cool” with the team no matter how many times Jonny and Guy ask. They then link up with Tyrese, who has changed his name to Tyreseus, explaining that he voluntarily innoculated himself with a “friendly and stable” CFD strain to protect himself from other potential infections. The team decides that seems ok for now?
They gear up at Uptown Arms and Ax. S. Grant’s mechanic shop, fitting out an SUV with extra seats, armor, and an LMG mount, before heading towards Salem to assassinate 2 AZT hitmen and any guards they have (for money and an in with the Neo-A’s). They bypass some sketchy enclaves on the way, figuring they’ll start in the far north and work their way back to the city, doing jobs as they go. They make a deal with some powerful plant spirits protecting one of the NAN separatist enclaves (due to Aylin’s good spirit rep) to get safe passage in exchange for taking out the AZT team and leaving the NAN and plants alone. Aylin splits off at Nahant to look for Erika Knowles, her missing contact.
The rest of the team, with a gung-ho young plant spirit named Fennel along, recon and assault the AZT position. Jonny goes in undercover as a Hellrider (as they see the gang delivering supplies in exchange for processed BADs), and eventually manages to detonate a huge bomb Ratched made, collapsing the school building they were using as a base. The rest of the team slugs it out with some blood adepts, drones, and other guards, barely surviving and losing the car in the process. Ratched and Guy get it to run one last time, racing to the school and saving Jonny from certain death, while Prot0 pulls out all the stops to slay the final AZT cybersolider (one of the main targets). Unfortunately, Tyreseus is killed. Prot0 doesn’t want to approach too close due to CFD fears, so they leave him where he lies, and find an empty building not filled with drained corpses to rest up for the night.
The next day, PPJ projects down to link up with Aylin at the proposed spot, and discovers that Aylin has found Erika Knowles holed up in a ruined lighthouse, injured and hiding out from the mob of shamblers that she unleashed on the former ARES facility to deal with the bug problem there. They make a plan to rescue both of them and heal up before hoofing it down there on foot. The Hellriders also show up looking for another BAD delivery from their AZT contacts, and Jonny has to do some fancy talking to convince them not to turn on the team. Luckily the Hellriders don’t seem to care who gets them BADs as long as someone does, so they put the in touch with Fennel and the plant spirits and facilitate a deal. The plants are also absorbing Swampscott at a rate of about a block per day.
The team heads south to Nahant and sneaks through town, finding an old wireless-free minivan that Ratched and Guy get running. They rig a zipline to get Erika and Aylin out, and escape the mob of headcases with no injury. Erika gives them a bunch of jobs and asks to be dropped off in the Leather District or Nub. They decide to check out Salem, Marblehead, and Peabody first to get the lay of the land. Peabody seems to have a stange matrix signal and lots of headcases so they steer clear for now. Marblehead has a bunch of signs warning non-ARES personnel not to approach, a large earth spirit in astral space, and they lose their flyspy scouting, so they leave that along for now as well. They try to enter Salem but get trapped in some magical fog an find a druid and his ally spirit guarding the border.
They make a deal to hunt down any Tan Robe/Group X operatives in Boston in exchange for future entrance, and notice another huge matrix signal somehwere north of them, presumably either in Salem or at the wall. They head back south, drop Erika off, and heal up. They also check in with Grimes and find that the church’s replacements have told him he is being summoned back to Rome and replaced as soon as the quarantine lifts. They also hear that the Corp Court has engaged some pro assassins to take out highly placed headcases ahead of the end of quarantine.
Prot0 gets some work from Viktor Markwart helping other TM’s, since Grimes may be losing his sport, and the team upgrades their safehouse to accomodate more survivors and give them some stuff to do. The team also gets paid for the AZT mission, with Neo-A’s providing a bounty for the grunts while a rebuilt Tyreseus (though seemingly nearly all Cereus now) gets them their cut of the main bounty. They are disturbed by his changes but he offers them more wetwork as desired. They also go to Mama to get approval for the TM/safehouse plan, and make a deal. Aylin drops Mama a tarot card and is gifted a Tarot card in response.
PPJ leaves with a strange spirit, thinking it may be related to blood crystals, and misses out on all the expansions. The team does some digging on Peabody, and finds that the arena in the Shipyards is getting deliveries from up there of the riggable CFD-infected people and animals they use in their pit fights. The arena is one of the few safe network zones in Boston as they use jammers and crazy repellers to prevent signals leaving and headcases entering, so there is also a local mesh, which Prot0 loves, and it seems like a hot spot for anonymous info brokers. They buy some intel on a few open jobs, and head North again. They sneak into Peabody, past a bunch of rigged shamblers, but are spotted by some leashed ragers. They do a quick recon, spotting what look like some dissonant TM’s, and Prot0 tries a quick matrix scout before being attacked by a powerful AI (Nocebo) and fleeing. They hightail and escape with some clever distractions.
They head back South and report in to BBE, ordering some more armor and another crazy repeller after getting them the plans. Jonny sets up a concert at Avalon, which the Hellriders will do security for and keep the proceeds from (as well as dealing at) to recoup their losses from the missed BAD shipment. Jonny starts booking acts and training his friends to participate, after Prot0 does a mediocre AR show during an open mic.