The team finally decides to help out their anarachist hosts, and look into some mysterious deaths near a farm which provides them with a lot of produce. They are to meet a retired cop, and former forensics tech, named Hua out there, as he went ahead. They get ahold of him via satellite and find out that there have been increasingly severe animal attacks the last 2 nights, and are told to hurry. He is heavily injured and will require them to do most of the work. They agree.
Reaching the farm, they decide to prioritize strengthening defenses for the nights potential attack, delaying the investigation. TY fixes up some turbines to power lights (& aquaponics, longterm), and begins pondering converting to Sikhism, the dominant religion here. It seems that Mr. Singh, the farm’s proprietor, has taken the ‘protection of innocents’ tenet of his faith seriously, and has amassed a large collection of orphans and strays, who help him run and defend the land. Ortega approves, although he is distressed by TY’s drift from his interest in catholicism. Ro tries with some small success to rally the farmers and teach them some strategy, but is mostly ignored. Aemon heals some of the wounded with Ortega’s aid.
Night falls, and the attacks come: waves of animals behaving abnormally, in pairings that would never occur naturally. The final wave includes some well-camoflagued humans, as well as large tusked bears and a shapeshifter owl/spellcaster. However, due to skillful shooting and driving, they manage to only lose their truck, and not take any casualties. They also keep the farm from harm. The dead humans all look sickly and malnourished. The next day, TY and Ro decide to stay at the farm to do more repairs in case of another attack, while Aemon & Ortega investigate the area. Hua gives them a forensics kit, and tells them of 2 sites he wanted to check before he was injured.
First, they check out a trash people settlement down the river, but find it destroyed- it looks to be the same tactics as the attacks on Kaur’s Farm- wave after wave of random animals (lured in with bait) attacked, with humans mopping up. Some of the bodies were cannibalized, although these marks were covered or disguised. It seems that all the women and children are absent, and nearby mountain bike tracks and drag marks indicate they may have been taken somewhere. They follow the tracks, and come upon The Plastic Jungle, an overrun maze of greenhouse domes and connecting tunnels and structures. They cautiouly venture in, but soon come under attack. They defeat their assailants and find them to be more malnourished, camoflagued, humans.
Pushing further in, they find a symbolically carved tree trunk “throne”, which Ortega is able to analyze using his familiarity with religions. He determines that this is some sort of cannibal cult, worshipping a creature that Aemon id’s as a wendigo (explaining a mysterious aura he felt nearby the night previous). Based on the amount of human remains here, it seems they’ve been at it for some time, and doesn’t seem likely that they’ll find survivors. However, as they follow the wendigo’s tracks out a back entrance towards a path down the river bluff, they find a locked walk-in freezer door. They open it, and Ortega, lightning-fast, dives on top of a grenade held by a final cultist, in order to protect the 4 children huddled within.
He survives, miraculously unscathed, and chalks it up to divine intervention. He insists they rescue the children and see them safe, whereas Aemon wants to chase the wendigo (who seems to be riding another piasma). Ortega wins out, and they try to keep the kids warm on the long-ish walk back. They reach the farm and decide to investigate the other site Hua told them of, though night again approaches. They reach an abandoned overgrown factory, and find evidence that a lone gabriel hound, acting irregularly, managed to lure out and pick off the 6 thrill-gangers residing there. It also survived being shot multiple times at close range, and Aemon is able to detect a lingering, strange aura (different from the wendigo’s).
They decide this is probably unconnected to the other attacks, and seeing as they halted those, decide to call it a job well done. They are, however, somewhat disturbed to see a human-like face (possibly that of a gabriel hound), watching them from some trees as they head back. Reviewing a commlink they found on the gangers, it seems like they had been raiding local settlements, and scouting the farm as a target. So, if anything, the hound (or whatever is in control of it) helped? They report their findings to Hua, and agree to escort him back to town for needed medical attention. He is a little disappointed they don’t have more answers, but is glad they stopped the attacks.
They post a local notice about the wendigo (who fetch high bounties in many areas), and head to the port, to get smuggled over to Seattle for some work.