Otters aka Roadkill
The team decides to finally follow through on helping Smoach finish off the Shadow Spirit threat in town, partially in revenge for Myrryr’s death. Otters fixes up the van and replaces the wrecked Mule drone with parts from RRR, and finds out that their numbers have been significantly reduced due to some treachery and infighting spurred by a local, now deceased, fixer named Florio. Rubberhead still gets them what they need though, and tells them that they have more shielded solar, chemical battery, and old-school combustion engines up and running for vehicles, drones, generators etc that they are selling around town. The team is also starting to see more local mesh nets up and running after they distro’ed the know-how on the radio.
Following Smoach’s freshest lead, they find a busted up combustion van, that seems to have been on corpse collection duty. 2 bodies left behind are possessed by Shadow spirits, one of whom was the driver who is scarifying his face in the ritual manor while still half-launched through the windshield. The team waits and observes while the 2 spirits extricate themselves and take some medical tools from the van, and then Creep sneaks after them when they leave on foot. Otters and Dig approach and take a look at the crashed van, which seems to have run into…. nothing?
Dig decrypts the hardwired camera footage while Otters secures the scene. The Detective ends up talking to and calming some locals who approached and seem super traumatized. As they calm them, they notice it has an astral effect- some sort of pooling fear dissipates. TD tells the team and Dig gets airborne to take a more thorough astral look, and sees that the path Creep is following the Shadow spirits on is one outer tendril of a web of fear that they seem to be reinforcing- almost as if someone is trying to create leylines or aspect the local manasphere in preparation for a larger invasion.
Dig reports back while Smoach uses his TM abilities to retain comms with Creep as he gets further away. They take another look in the astral and notice that their is Famine feeling coming from the North and West, which seems to be somewhat bolstered by the Fear and vice versa, though their effected areas seem to carefully not overlap. Using Dig’s astral map. Smoach’s surveillance intel, and everyone else’s knowledge of the city, they determine where the Shadow spirits are headed: the locus of fear Downtown, the cities largest emergency shelter, which also serves as the overflow morgue for mass casualty incidents. Reviewing the video footage from the van, it looks like Shadow spirits ambushed it with a invisible barrier wall while the van was full of corpses (likely either for ghoul food or cremation, depending), and then killed the survivor of the crash. A swarm of bats flies in and the bodies rise and take off en masse, leaving the driver and one in the back behind to loot.
Creep sees that the Shadows are trying to terrify and harass any people they come across, and briefly chase but don’t attack them. The team decides that they need to limit the spread of fear, and after all bolstering themselves against the existential dread of what they’ve encountered, aided by a happy spell from Dig and some Guts, they race down to pick up Creep and destroy the spirits. They make short work of their bodies with gunfire, and Dig manages to disrupt their astral forms with spellcraft, and then sees a truly horrifying sight- an awful ravenous bat-like maw visible in the distance near the Scar in the astral sky seems to consume the spirits instead of allowing them to travel back to their homeplace when disrupted, and seems to both gain power and become somewhat more proximate in doing so.
Dig reports this in, and Smoach shares some of his more obscure research, which turned up hints of the Horrors, and something called The Book of Harrow, that Myrryr had been obsessed with. The team, worried, decides they need to cheer up the town before they head to the morgue/shelter, and head to Biyu’s while Dig naps to recover from drain. He stays behind at Biyu’s to rest and learn an astral armor spell while the team distro’s food (to fight the famine) alongside a stirring spiel from TD (to fight fear) and some data chips that Creep loads the 10 best episodes of Rosanne onto (which are received with all the enthusiasm of a religious pamphlet by most).
They do successfully change the vibe a bit with the effort though, and TD can see that they seem to be constraining the spread of the Fear tendrils if not actively pushing them back. After Dig rests they head Downtown to check out the locus. They find it well-marked and signed as an emergency shelter, and it seems not to have been fortified, likely as a trap for desperate survivors to enter. Using their maps and knowledge of the DDB, they determine roughly where an emergency exit should be down there, and decide that they should hit it from both sides in a pincer.
While surveilling, Otters spots someone else also surveilling, so they pull back and used one of Creep’s LRAD’s to tightbeam a message over to the area, after Dig assenses and can’t find anyone, but detects a deathly aura that they all assume means Shedim. Recalling that Shedim have supposedly heavily infiltrated UCAS SpecOps, they think this may be the team they heard was in town, and assume that an enemy of an enemy could at least be a temporary ally? They get a radio call from Marshall Eugene Trapp shortly after, in which he circumspectly offers to pass along a message, and tells them to come meet with him in person to keep if off radio.
They head to his office in West Downtown, and he refuses to confirm or deny knowing of any sort of SpecOps in town, but goes over their plan with them and confirms with Otters that if the runners cover the aboveground exit, Smoach can guide the other team down to the emergency exit, where they will breach and drive anyone inside out into the team’s field of fire. The team agrees, and arms up with some rocket launchers and heavy duty ammo for fighting spirits. They head over and set up their ambush, with Creep making a large lube field while Otters rigs some grenade tripwires at choke points.
Dig hides as a mouse in Creep’s pocket, who has a grenade bandolier and flamethrower ready to go. TD has their flamethrower ready in the van as well, while Otters rigs the van and mounted weapons. They get a stream from Smoach who says he’ll follow the Shedim team in and maintain comms as long as he can. They see the team, very pro, having cleared a space in the survivor encampment around the door, apply det-cord, blow the door, and breach very quickly. They race into a long dark tunnel with flickering emergency bio-lights, all cement block.
After a long eerie traversal, they enter a huge morgue chamber, also badly lit, which the team at first thinks is strewn with bodies, but instead see are all unzipped, empty body bags. Smoach pans around and they see that all the freezer corpse lockers have been opened, with the sliding slabs partially out. It is very creepy, with no bodies in sight, until Smoach zooms in on one of the soldiers checking the body bags, and sees one of them unzip from the inside, from which a corpse sits up and detonates a suicide vest. The feed cuts out. Up top, Creep notices some ripples in one of the areas where the lube has pooled a bit, just before he hears the terrifying sound of hundreds of mostly bare feet running up the dark ramps towards them.
They prepare a bounding overwatch in case they need to advance or retreat, and slam some combat drugs as a huge zombie hoard charges forth up both ramps in a horrifying flesh wave. Otters cuts down the first few ranks with suppressive fire, with Creep supplementing with chucked grenades. The subsequent ranks stumble over the first as they fall, and slide through the lube field into the grenade traps, as Otters follows up with a rocket, and TD reloads the launcher. Dig is frantically trying to disrupt spirits in the astral plane but has to flee the sheer number of spirits that the team has disembodied there.
He continues trying to fry them but see that those spirits that can are taking to dead bats littered around the parking area in an attempt to escape. TD and Creep open up with flamethrowers while falling back, while Otters uses the remaining rocket and suppressive fire to continue scything through the zombie hoard. As they are further thinned out, the team starts to hear and see automatic weapons fire from behind the hoard as well, it seems some of Shedim team survived.
With the Shedim survivors entering and fighting with brutal efficiency on the astral as well as the physical, the team just manages to prevent a mass bat breakout. They may not have got them all but they definitely disrupted a lot, and destroyed the necessary hosts of many more. Dig and TD can already feel the fear locus lessening in power from their actions here. Without any further convo, the Shedim head back belowground, with only Creep spotting two of the less damaged zombies from first wave rising to join them, seemingly providing hosts to some of the Shedim whose bodies were destroyed in the suicide bombing in the morgue.
The team heads home to rest and mourn Smoach’s death, though he at least went in with his eyes open and chose to be there. They find Chew Gum and Cholula waiting for them, saying they have an upsetting report from their investigation into Bloodripper’s whereabouts…..