Otters aka Roadkill
and a sad goodbye to:Locke
The team checks in on Tabasco’s healing process, and finds him mostly conscious at least, but still in bad shape. He plans to stay in touch via comms relay from the VTOL while the team checks out the ARES biodrone facility for Moreau. They get in touch and head over to Moreau’s position, and see what looks obviously like 2 shod and 2 unshod Alpha footprints leading into the facility, where they seem to have basically kool-aid-manned through the fence and wall. Moreau equips them all with dart guns to try to capture and rescue any animals they can, and says he has plans for the building if they can maintain it’s integrity.
They head in, worried about what they might find. Otters stays back with the van and accompanies via drone. They find some wrecked sec drones outside, and some bloody smears and drag marks inside. A perimeter hall wraps around a central core, which when they enter, they find filled with cages and enclosures, with various animals in various states of modification within. It looks like the Alphas tried to Infest some of them, but the animals (perhaps thankfully?) did not survive the transformation, leaving horrifying mutated corpses, and an awful smell, though the industrial extractors seem to still be working well so it only registers up close.
Worse yet, they spot a ritual circle carved into the ceiling, centered on an elevator shaft which seems to have a lot of unnecessary components attached. While exploring they are surprised when an unarmored Alpha bursts forth from under a pile of animal corpses in one of the cages and assaults them. They manage to take it out, and Otters runs in with some white phosphorous grenades provided by Moreau to burn the corpse and stop the regeneration. They continue exploring the top level of the facility, worried that the elevator is an obvious place for a trap. Astral space definitely seems buggy in a way they couldn’t detect from the exterior, also.
As they find a corpse pile (some of the metahuman guards, but definitely not all), they come under heavy fire from outside, through the loading dock. 2 more Alphas charge them, one armored, one unarmored. The unarmored ones, being more visible, are even more horrifying somehow, with their misshapen and mutating flesh pulsing and bulging, various bits of different bugs visible across the surface mixed with the once human features. They get in a brutal fight in which much of the team is badly injured, and Locke is felled and stabbed with an ovipositor. Chew Gum, acting quickly, blows the downed Locke’s head off with his shotgun before they can transform, a sad and sudden end for the talented investigator.
The team pauses briefly to mourn once they finish the Alphas off, and burn all the bodies, inclduing Locke’s.They head outside and see where these Alphas tunneled up from below, on an angle that looks to intersect with the base of the elevator shaft. They tranq as many animals as they can inside, and get Moreau to start hauling them out, deciding they’ll likely need to do some mega-damage to whatever lurks below. Creep heads down the tunnel, with the drone swarm. Creep hangs back a bit while the drones make a first pass, and uncover a scene of true horror.
The remaining armored Alpha is standing guard as the newly mutated facility staff feasts on various animals and metahuman corpses, seemingly fueling their transformation. More upsettingly, there is what looks like a stable portal, likely to Vhortas, that seems very similar to the team file notes on the portal on the space station that ARES had previously been using to instantiate the Alphas. They also see surgical bays, staff housing, and another tunnel leading off towards Downtown.
Panicked, Otters sends the VTOL to the Platinum Zone with a report on what they found, and Rifleman loads up a hard case with Ravenheart’s approval, when it arrives back, it contains one of the mini nukes that the Irregulars seems to have salvaged from one of the ARES APC’s that were carrying them. Creep sneaks it down to the basement, and gets it tucked in behind the portal, arming it and leaving a few smoke grenades to go off to add confusion to cover his exit, and then legs it. Luckily it wasn’t set to an immediate detonation, and he gets clear in time.
Dig seals up the tunnel exit with concrete, and the team all hauls out as many tranq-ed animals as they can. The massive explosion rumbles the earth, pancakes the building, and launches Dig’s concrete tunnel plug flying far away. Luckily, this all seems to have severely curtailed the radioactive spread, and likely amplified the explosion. Briefly checking astral space, Dig and CG confirm that the buggy vibe seems gone, annihilated by an overwhelming radioactive shredding that has destroyed the local mana sphere. Portal closed, but at a cost….
Luckily Dig and CG got a good look at the ritual circle in astral space, and think they could perhaps ID the caster. Otters sends a report in to the Plat Zone and they get paid. They also call the Detective to report on Locke’s death, which greatly saddens them. Dig and CG both contribute some funds to the Keepers, who Locke had just begun to hire and befriend, and also compose a memorial poem, which Otters also forwards to the Plat Zone.
Dig, in bird form and CG, in the VTOL, travel over to the bolthole safehouse in the storage facility and do a lengthy ritual to locate the caster of the insect portal ritual. They confirm that it was either Hendricks himself or a close associate based on where traces crop up around town, but he seems to be underground and likely behind some sort of magical defense. They think they could track him using this, however. They report this into the Plat Zone as well, and get paid. The rest of the team rests, heals, and repairs gear, with Iva frantically patching their armor.
They hear on the night’s Radio Free Detroit broadcast about Locke’s heroic death, and also some even worse news: there’s been an Alpha breakout to the West as well as the North. Some bugs tunneled up into a mostly SINless survivor enclave, and Alphas followed them in, slaughtering everyone inside. Also, Julia “Deadline” Pesina continues her reportage on the ghoul situation locally, and finally is able to ID the ghouls working to use the ferals to nefarious ends: Fear the Dark is in town! The slogan “Eat Locals, Fuck You” has been found at multiple bloody feeding sites, where they preyed on civvies trapped at home. This is a perversion of the popular Irregulars slogan “Eat Local, Kill Fucks!”, originally popularized by the neo-anarchist chef Castiron.
Otters also checks in with Howell about the completion of the job for Moreau and they settle up for that. Howell has another job, not a rush this time, to pull a museum heist amidst the chaos. Otters runs it by the team and they agree to get to it when they can. Disturbingly, as they all return to the safehouse on their rest day, they find that Dig’s golem has torn the arms off an intruder. Worried who it might be, they flip the body over but don’t recognize them. A scrap of paper falls out of their pocket as they shift the body though, and they find one of Roderick Kensignton’s journal entries, about the team and their possession of Tarot cards.
They decide they better look further into this, and add it to the list. Tabasco, finally not dangerously radioactive, gets flown over to the Metal Maniacs clinic and ushered quickly back into the surgical suite, where Leanna Octave once again tries to convince him to become a Monad, but settles for doing some radical implants, including a full cyberskull with junkyard jaw and some orthoskin to replace what’s absent. The team is collectively a bit horrified upon his return to the safehouse, aside from Otters, who is her usual chipper self.
Having gone for a stylized skull, Tabasco has a weird moment looking in a mirror when he realizes he can no longer take off his mask and cowl. The sharpened scrap metal jaw is also pretty extreme, to be fair. However, he’s feeling the post-surgery high and is excited to be back on his feet and ready to rumble. The team takes a moment to figure out which task to prioritize next…