Otters aka Roadkill
The team spends a bit more time going back and forth on the bounty question at the Platinum Zone while also putting together their gear needs list to fight the Shadow spirits who stole their Tarot. They get another call from Carol and finally answer. He tells them he knows they’ve been dodging his calls and have been in touch with Ellis, but that he has a 3-4 part offer for them from Vogel, who he says is finally positioned to make his move. They agree to hear him out, and he says first off, Vogel has a message to pass to Ellis- essentially, offering amnesty for her faction if she gets on-side ASAP and answers a few basic questions satisfactorily. The team agrees to pass to along, at least.
Next, Vogel has two jobs for them, the first is to pick up a large device that it being air-dropped in shortly, stash it somewhere where it would be difficult to access or track magically, and leave it there with Carol. An optional stage 2, which they also accept, is to pick Carol and the device up from this location and get them into the center of the ARES vs Bugs fight Downtown at the moment of Vogel’s choosing, he thinks it will only be a few days from now. The team negotiates pay, and gets all the relevant info.
2nd job, Carol doesn’t know any details, but Vogel has prepped an info packet they can examine before negotiating pay, though they have to agree to the job before they can see it. They do so, and he passes them an encrypted file that MAMA has the key to decode. It seems they are meant to use Carol’s brother, Michael as a trojan horse of sorts to get a toxin attack in range of Damien Knight. Further assistance incoming via drone once they agree to terms. They negotiate with Carol for a major payday, and he takes off.
The Detective calls Ellis and passes along the message/warning, as well as Carol’s current contact info, she thanks them for it and says she’ll ponder it, quickly, and decide what to do. The team decides to use the van to conceal the device (and Carol) in the radioactive zone on Vendor’s Row, and head to Triple R to get radiation shielding upgraded, as well as add a concealed turret for the upcoming Downtown run. While they upgrade, Otters flies Tabasco in the VTOL, along with bird-form Dig over to the drop site, way on the west side in some farm country near Livonia.
They arrive and spot a half-size shipping container dropping down with 4 small corner chutes deployed a short while later. Unfortunately, they also spot an incongruous swarm of bats hanging out in the area, seemingly keeping an eye on them and the crate. Otters flies Creep over as well while they debate what to do. After some attempts to influence the swarm with spirit powers are counter-acted, Tabasco decides to take action, and shoots a bat. He is then quickly felled by a massive spell, and fall out of the tree he was perched in.
Creep tosses him in the VTOL and Otters zips him back to the Plat Zone for healing, as Creep pops some smoke grenades before nearly getting felled by another spell. Dig finally spots the caster- a powerful high level initiate is in bat form amidst the swarm, and with that Dig and Creep retreat inside the crate. Unfortunately this lets off a tiny moment of astral visibility to the strange and powerful magical device within. It looks similar to an ARES portal closer from Project: Bottleneck, but significantly modified. Dig analyzes it with his magic a bit, and gets spooked again.
They hear a voice with a Germanic accent outside the door, as Creep welds it shut from the inside and Dig holds it closed with magic fingers. The voice offers them power and safety if they hand over the device, which they refuse. Creep threatens to set it off rather than give it up, which the voice seems to believe. It asks where they are taking it and on who’s behalf, and Creep answers honestly, without explicitly identifying Vogel. The voice seems satisfied and says so long as they don’t deviate from their plan, he will merely watch, but that if they try to pull a fast one, they will have an issue.
The van finally arrives to find Creep and Dig still hiding inside (the crate seems EM shielded and they have lost comms inside), and they get the device loaded into the van and head out of there. They park it in the rad zone, fine-tuning their placement to maximize the effect while ensuring Carol and the van will survive without too much effect. Carol arrives, and Otters passes backup control to him in case of a comms loss. They then head back to the Plat Zone on foot, and start working on the next job.
Step one- they need an intact pheromone gland from an original ALPHA. They spend some time monitoring comms frequencies until they hear a promising alert for ALPHAS nearby from a spotter. They call out as “engaging”, and head out, using some tactics to proceed quietly and set an ambush. It works surprisingly well with The Detective providing some critical leadership. They take down the new ALPHAs before they even can respond, though the lone original ALPHA nearly kills Dig with a burst from their Excalibur. The team manages to finish them all off, and Creep and The Detective start burning the other corpses, while CG and Dig carefully extract the gland, Dig once again using esoteric magic to perform skills he doesn’t seem to possess, and declaring himself a surgeon.
They head back to the Plat Zone and debate whether to try the next step themselves or not, eventually deciding to contract it out to Stanli the Candyman. Dig flies over with the gland, and passes it off. Stanli takes a look at the instructions, and seems legit surprised. The team pays him extra to tell them what they are crafting, as they are also paying him to forget the whole thing after. He explains that essentially he will be able to extract and refine some pheromones from the gland to make a targeted toxin, so that when whoever they inject it into comes into smell-range of the target gene markers they will emit the tailored toxin.
Once they have the toxin, Dig flies back, as Stanli smokes some läes to forget. A drone delivery arrives, with a business card with Michael Turpentine’s number on it, and a small fancy box. Opening the box, they find a black chess king piece. Creep and Dig manage to put together that likely is the piece given to Aurelius, the ARES founder, in Big D’ Will, with the rest of the set given to Knight. Supposedly Knight has been seeking to acquire the piece in the years since the last of Aurelius’ line died, but has not succeeded. Putting it all together, they realize that giving this piece to Michael will allow them to get close enough to dose him with the tailored toxin, and that this piece will ensure Michael a meeting with Knight shortly thereafter.
They remember that Hendricks controlled the ALPHA breeding lab for some time, and ponder if he altered their genes to specifically want to target Knight if they encountered him, or if someone else did… regardless, they have their job to do. The Detective calls Michael’s private line, and arranges a meeting in the fancy Downtown hotel that he and some other corp higher-ups seem to be living in during the fighting. The Detective goes alone, smuggling in a flyspy that is being hot rigged by Otters, and with others on remote backup, watching through the Avatars linked tattoo that CG possesses.
Michael already seems hyped and a little drunk when The Detective arrives, and Otters manages to slip the drone past the observant corpsec onsite. The Detective goes along with Michael’s bro-y vibe, and gives him a big backslap just as Otters tags him with the drone’s injector, which seems to have been the perfect distraction, though Michael seems to be coming down with something a bit as they continue drinking. The Detective passes over the piece, and the team is a bit horrified to hear on the comms how desperate Michael still is for the approval and corporate success that has destroyed his family, especially as he casually reveals Damien Knight’s human-centric metaracism- mistaking him for his brother, etc.
Regardless, Michael seems well-satisfied, believing that this will ensure Knight remembers who he is and trusts him, and he tells The Detective he won’t forget them and what they’ve done for him. The Detective feels a little bad, as they know how this is likely to end, so gets out of there quickly, with Otters managing to sneak the drone back out as well. With that done, they just need to amass personal gear and wait for Vogel’s call to deliver Carol and the device….