CB waits on the 2nd floor of the Exogen22 facility, monitoring the video feeds while the rest of the team attempts to extract the two part formula for the CFD cure. He jumps into VR, entering a sterile looking host that looks like a city library. Walking across the hall, past IC looking like docents and librarians, to sit at a table. As he does, the surface becomes transparent and he finds himself looking down into a hallway. After a short time, he’s able to find the files that Danny Boyle was researching last.
It was a simulation on bacteria propagation, and he pretends to be working on it as a drone approaches. Thankfully, the moth sprite that Gojira loaned to CB flitted off to distract it.
In meat space, Sully continues working while Ghost Bear leans over his shoulder and asks a plethora of questions. He answers distractedly as while driving the medical service drone forward to the three primates lying unconscious in their cages: A chimp named Jane, an Orangutan named Audi, and a Gorilla named Judy. First, he collects samples from the chimp, but is only able to find half of the formula. He asks CB to dig up what he can before wasting anymore time.
CB finds files relating to which primate has both parts, but as an intern Danny Boyle doesn’t have access. Only Dr. Salhab and Dr. Wentz do. So he hacks, and fails, dispatching IC. The little drone from earlier zips back up to him. Scrambling, CB tries again and fails. “Danny, what are you doing?”
The third time, he’s finally able to do it. He finds that the chimp has the lung, the gorilla has the sinus, but the orangutan has both. It was too late for discretion though; IC showed up. Desperate, CB tosses a piece of origami into the air, which flies off to request Gojira’s aid, before setting his agent and the Mothra sprite to defend him in his losing battle.
“Things are about to warm up,” CB says over the PAN. “Get the van ready, Ghost Bear!”
As Ghost Bear leaves, Gojira shows up, stomping into the library. CB asks him if he could make it look like the breach was coming from the outside.
“I cannot erase what has already transpired, but an outside presence will be known.” Then CB jacks out.
Ghost Bear warns that he had to talk his way past a foot patrol. And Sully chimes in. “Things are getting worse. The samples I took are already dying.”
The decker gets his SMG ready, but is able to talk his way past the security storming in, sending teams towards the roof. CB tries to convince Sully to ingest them, but instead Al goes and grabs the orangutan once the infected elves are quarantined. “Ok, let’s go.” The team hides the primate on the stretcher with Benzine’s body, with the troll disguisting the test subject as a tumor growing from the body. Al and Sully guide the gurney down the stairs and it topples, spilling Benzine and Audi the Orangutan onto the stairs and down to the floor.
They run the rest of the way, leaving Gojira to wipe the feeds and terrorize the host while Team Quattro and Sully pile into the van. Campus security blockades the road Benzine wipes his signature from the site.
“Fuck the road. Across the commons!” Benzine yells, and Alganon punches it. The bulldog jumps the curb and Benzine shouts directions from his time scouting the U of W campus earlier. They take out a fountain, as the screech across sidewalks and pavilions.. On the ride, CB pastes fliers all over jackpoint with a standing offer – any decker that helps commit a DDS-like attack on Exogen22 will be owed a favor by Team Quattro. Icons flood the place, and the team is able to lose any sort of trace they might have been able to place on them. Changing the design of the van every 6 blocks and cutting across side streets. With no direction, and a fear KE might have eyes on their usual hang outs, CB calls up Rusty.
“Hey chummer, went for a jog but it’s a bit warm for the season. Mind if me and some friends rest for a bit at your place?” There was a pause on the other end.
“How long?” He sighed in response..
“Just a few hours,” CB said. His old friend acceded, and Team Quattro headed towards Bellevue, breezing through a checkpoint on the way. Rusty is waiting for the team in his driveway to guide the scraped up GMC Bulldog into his garage. They squeezed out between the boxes, with the two deckers exchanging pleasantries.
“Heard you saw Eddie the Pill. You know, I hope he’s not too sore at me. I’m getting into the ID game, and don’t want him thinking I’m edging into his turf.”
“You should have told us,” CB said. “We’d have come to you for IDs.”
“Not trying to get friends pinched. I’m just getting started, so the quality isn’t the best.”
“Well take this, It’s got a pretty good fake SIN you can practice with, reverse engineer or whatever.” And he handed over the second to last Transys Avalon’s they’d acquired from the cyber zombie’s bug out bag they’d found almost a year ago.
“So what’s new? I hear you’re in Cereal Killer territory these days.”
“ Guess so, You know any of them? Been wanting to reach out to them.”
“Well, everyone knows Sonny.” CB starts looking for inroads to the Cereal Killers, mentioning T.R.O.L.L. in the process and catching daggers from Benzine’s look. Rusty waves the pair off, before finally leading them into his house. A girl is sat in the corner, practicing tattooing on some synth-skin while CB presses for more info on the leader of the Cereal Killers. He finds out that he’s no white hat, but he is a neoanarchist that loves cons and hates abuses of power, and might be interested in a take down of Kosmoe Sumatomo. CB also tries to find a lead on a new deck, since his is once again giving off the scent of burnt plastic and is patched up with duct tape, but is pointed to the Cereal Killers again.
While all of this is going on, Sully is being hassled by Kosmoe Sumatomo since KE knows all about it, but the team decides to just give him as little as possible while things cool off, and they plan their next move. They have a long talk about what to do with the data, about trying to keep some of it to distribute, and how long until KE gets wind of it. But before any decisions can be made, CB’s stun patch wears off and he passes out.
Benzine asks the novice tattoo artist to give him a Tuskgutter tattoo, and she’s happy to try. She runs out to pick up her troll needles, and in that time Kosmoe Sumatomo is getting increasingly pushy and panicked as time drags on, hassling Sully to meet.
“Dreks too hot, we’ll meet when we’re ready.” Benzine has him reply, and sits down to let Becky the tattoo artist gets to work. Slow at first, she gets more confident as she works more one his upper arm. The final piece is killer, better than even an established tattoo artist could’ve thought. They exchange numbers, and she’s going to try and get a job off the back of it.
Having overstayed their welcome at Rusty’s, they look for a new place to hideout and work. Benzine calls Harry first who sounds too deep into his own schemes, so they settle on Missing No. They call him up, offer to pay him 125 for his missed night of work, and show up with a new incubator. Cobalt Blue starts to feel guilty about this arrangement, and wants to cut ties with the kid, but only after they’re finished at his house this time.
With a scalpel in one hand, a long haul dispenser in another, Sully works quick, extracting the required lung tissue, a sinus swab, and begins the process of trying to preserve them.
The others plan. Kosmoe Sumatomo is frantically changing the meet location, before finally settling on a junkyard in the redmond barrens. From an old hatchet handle in the garage, Benzine engraves 3 different preparations: 2 lightning reflexes, and chaotic world.
CB calls Rev up, their friend from the Ancients, and she agrees to hang out close by to run interference as a simple trade: A favor for a favor. Benzine tries to get her to go for a ride together, but she’s all business and tells him to call when he needs his sidecar outfitted.
CB also calls up Topsy, and convinces her to loan him her deck.
With their plans set, Alganon, Benzine, and Cobalt Blue head towards the Redmond Barrens with Ghost Bear, Missing No., and Sully hanging back to work on the sample.
The bulldog creeps down a dirt road with busted down, rusted out cars and trucks littering the shoulders. The barrens feel strange and desolate as usual, with the ruined lives from the past leaving their stain on the area. Through the noise CB is able to pick up the icons of people ahead. With Benzine’s projecting, he’s able to find Kosmoe Sumatomo’s signature hopped up on novacoke, frightened, and beaten down. Benzine also finds out he’s awakened, an adept (Magic 4), though it did little for him now. As the team drives up, they see a smaller man in his 50’s, dressed in a Zeramite suit and wearing shades, beating the shit out of him with two jacked men flanking the pair. They were in the shadow of a massive RV, presumably a lab on wheels.
As the three pull up and climb out of the Bulldog, Kosmoe Sumatomo keeps trying to stand up, just to get kicked back down.
“How’s it going Cobalt. That’s your street name, right? You guys really fucked me over!!” He shouted, getting more shrill as he went. The team ignores him, handing the orangutan over to a surprised scientist who says he just needs time to run the tests. If it proved positive, the Johnson would pay.
While they were waiting, a rotodrone’s icon appeared in the distance. “Kosmoe Sumatomo, get on the ground and put your hands behind your head! You are under arrest!”
“I still need more time!” The scientist shouted from the RV’s doorway. The body guards exchange a look, then turned to the team.
“You guys going to help?”
“Yeah, just give us what the KESRU have on us,” Benzine said. But the guards didn’t respond. Cobalt Blue had already pushed the panic button he’d rigged up for the Ancients hanging out nearby, sending the signal to start raising hell.
Benzine walks over and grabs hold of the former PO to try and shake him down, cuffing him a few times, but the man doesn’t budge. “I’ve got bigger fucking problems.”
Trying a different tact, pats him down for his comm, coming up empty..
“You looking for something?” The guards ask, stepping closer.
“His comm, this fuck owes us.”
“Well this is our fuck now, and that’s his problem.”
“Then it sounds like it’s about to be your problem.”
While Benzine starts walks away he hears a prop driven drone flying in. In the opposite direction he can hear the rev of bikes, cease and desist orders from KE, and whooping from Ancients as they tear across the junkyard.
CBs able to find and hack Kosmoe’s comm, but there’s no incriminating evidence, only his own file which show he’d already repaid his debt to society. “Where’s the info?” CB shouted from the back of the van.
“We were paying him with money,” the scientist called from a cracked window.
“Then where’s the money, we brought you the monkey!”
“I’m not sure what the nature of your deal was with Kosmoe Sumatomo, but our deal was to pay him when he completed the job. I’m sure when we confirm the information that you’ve given use, he’d be more than happy to compensate you, especially if you transport him out of here.”
“How ‘bout it Kosmoe Sumatomo? Give us the info and the ‘yen, and we’ll get you out of here.” CB asks, and he agrees. Al unmounts his vindicator from the van, walks towards Kosmoe Sumatomo, and starts spinning it up in the direction of the drones. He also activates the preparation that Benzine had given him.
Ancients skid in and start shooting at the guards who toss a flash bang at them while a Goliath starts creeping into the area. Al tosses a frag grenade very badly, which blows up spraying shrapnel all over the goliath and also the team, bodyguards, and Kosmoe Sumatomo too. As the bits of metal plink against the side of the van and Benzine’s helmet, the mage spins back around and carves a napalm wall in the space between the front of the RV and junked cars, blocking the way into the clearing where they were standing. Al slings the vindicator over his back, and hoists Kosmoe Sumatomo’s unconscious body up, shredded by the frag grenade.
It wasn’t enough to even slow the armored vehicle. It skid to a stop, and the KESRU started hopping out. This was enough for the scientist and his bodyguards, who started making a break for it.
“What about the payment!” Benzine shouted, seeing his plan falling apart before he could even start it. He tossed the chaotic world preparation into the dirt, missing the door to the RV by a mile, trying to push his timeline up.
One of the bodyguards turned, sprinted to the back of the van, and slipped a cred stick into Kosmoe Sumatomo’s pocket. With payment delivered, the man turned and jumped back into the RV, shutting the door.
The first of the KESRU climbs out, a man with blonde dreads with an SMG slung over his shoulder.
“You’re making the wrong choice!” he shouted. Almost as soon as he popped his head out, the gangers shot and dropped him, leaving him in a daze. A woman with short blonde hair in her 40’s follows him out, wearing a berwick dress. She started moving her hands strangely, but before she could finish, Benzine tore the strands of mana from her hand, shredding the spell by the fibers before it could take hold.
Spinning up the vindicator again, Al showers the mage with lead from the mini gun. His volley is cut short though by a bulky black orc holding a strange weapon. It fires a net towards him with the weights coiling around Al, and then electrocuting him
More gangers had appeared behind them, helping with their show of force, including a woman straddling her bike behind the van near Benzine.
“You want to have some real fun?” He asked her, changing the course of his plan, desperate to avoid shedding any KE blood, not when the team didn’t know what the KESRU knew, not when it could lead back to the school..
“That’s why I’m here, baby!” She shouted without hesitation.
Benzine and the leader of the Ancient’s hash out the details quickly while things start to go to shit around them. She agrees to let the troll put a physical mask over her, making her look like Sumatomo to lead KE away. Then, just before she leaves, he would trigger the chaotic world preparation, to add to the confusion and add to the illusion. The last man stepping out drew a bead with his Yamaha Raiden and plunked one of the gangers.
“Noooooo, Knife Ear!” Things were unravelling quickly, with the black orc spear tackling the grappled Alganon. Working quick, probably too quick, Benzine drew his mana to him and channeled it into the leader so she looked like Kosmoe Sumatomo the last time they had seen him.
“You look like shit,” he told her, then he released Chaotic World, leaving everyone within it’s vicinity slightly confused about what they were seeing. “You want him? Then go fucking get him! He’s not worth this!” Revving her engine once, twice, she took off in full view of everyone. The rest of her gang followed, taking pot shots as they did.
The black orc, straddling a prone Al and not wanting to give up his prey, started wailing on him. Seeing his good friend being knocked around so badly sent Benzine into a napalm slinging rage. The orc shrugs it off, but the fire catches on his pants. Trying to call him off, the woman starts to cast another spell, but with Benzine seeing red he almost breaks her fingers dispelling whatever she had been trying to cast. The orc falls off Al, rolling around to put the fire out and narrowly dodging another blast of napalm, finally staggering back to his feet.
Seeing his opportunity, CB kicks the back of the van open and fills him with lead. He falls back to the ground, spitting blood.
“Let’s go! Come on!” The decker shouted. The KESRU were following suit, piling into the Goliath to chase after Kosmoe Sumatomo. Al ripped off the net, and climbed into the driver’s seat. Seeing his target collapse, Benzine’s rage subsided. The KESRU officer bleeding, his blood mingling with the mud, Benzine leans over and casts one more spell. The blood stops, then reverses, and starts breathing again. Satisfied that it was the most he could do given the situation to take the KESRU target off their back, or at least not make it worse, he climbed into the van himself. They left quickly, leaving the woman in the Berwick suit to finish caring for her teammates.
As Al speeds away, Benzine struggles to summon a little spirit. It comes but ignores him, prancing around his shoulders, pulling at his magical foci. Finally, before he burned himself out for the night, he managed to convince the little gremlin to go and wipe his signature from the scene, hoping the mage was too distracted to read it.
Alganon drives them back to Missing No.’s, where they have a long conversation about what to do with Kosmoe Sumatomo. When they pull in, Ghost Bear is missing and so is Missing No.’s mom. The rigger himself is passed out on the couch with Sully shrugging.
“He was pretty annoying.”
But now they have him, dying and powerless. Still, they’re not exactly sure what to do with him once they get the information they need. None of them trust him, and Benzine is pushing to find a way to scramble his brain. To CB this represents a moral line he doesn’t think they should cross. To Benzine there is no line. When it comes to the kids at T.R.O.L.L. right now, and any that might come in the future, there’s nothing that’s not on the table to protect him. But first, they need to see what he has…