The only surviving ghoul from the attack on the walkway was more than willing to be helpful and friendly to the team, desperately hoping to survive the encounter with the several weapons pointing at him. Learning that it was part of Postmortum’s pack and only following the pack of feral ghouls since they were hunting something down, but he decided to flee after the heavy weapons started flying. Unable to outrun a bullet, he was willing to lead them down to Postmortum’s meeting place, so the team broke out the zip ties and a nickname (“I’m going to call him Skippy!”), before following the directions and heading further down in the structure.
The pack seemed to have well earned its name as the largest group of ghouls in the structure, as the team rode past several more ghouls than they’ve seen thus far. Some of the ferals gave chase, but most of them stayed away as the team passed by. Heading through a large area that was used long ago as cold storage, the team found themselves in what looked like an office block as Skippy’s directions became much more involved. Finally, the stopped next to a single office which Skippy assured them was how Postmortum spoke to them. Inside the building was a desk with an old video screen located on top. Tazer and Pharaoh stepped inside as Spanky, Corn, and Pharaoh’s drone held guard outside. A few moments later, a ghoul stepped into the screen wearing a heavily stained doctors coat, and probably most interesting the particular ghoul had a pair of cybereyes that were solid green in color. No detectable pupil or iris at all. Looking at both of the runners for a while, Postmortum started questioning why they were here and after hearing about the UCAS military’s impending invasion, the ghoul leader was willing to discuss evacuation, but he would, of course, need the team to do a favor for him. Any one of the favors would be just fine.
- - Grinder, leader of the Moterhead pack, needed to die.
- - Two levels below was a hospital that had several drones guarding it. Supplies from the hospital would be very useful in the evacuation.
- - There was a squatter in the reactor levels that had an irritating habit of setting traps, removing him would prevent his pack from being attacked or harmed on the way out.
Discussing between themselves, the group pondered just slaughtering all of the leaders and rounding up the ghouls themselves, but the idea that the drones in the hospital may be the same ones that the Moterheads are looking for, they might be able to kill two birds with one stone. As well as they’d be closer to the squatter and might be able to reach him before time ran out. Postmortum offered to allow one of the ghouls escort the group to a bank of freight elevators that still was functioning and would get them down to the hospital, which the team accepted. Unfortunately for Skippy, he was the closest ghoul since the team didn’t let him go yet, he was elected by Postmortum to be their guide a little longer. The team did let Skippy go after piling into the freight elevator, and was pleasantly surprised to see that the elevators appeared to reach all the way back to the ground floor. Unfortunately, the only buttons that worked were B18, B19 and B20. Pressing the lowest level, the car juttered and shook all the way down.
As the doors opened, the team found themselves in a reception area decorated in both recent and aged carnage. Several bodies of ghouls were ripped apart and strewn all over the area, most of them in several pieces. Slowly sweeping the area, looking for any of these possible drones, Pharaoh headed into the reception area and looked to see if he could find anything on any computer systems. Splicing together some cables for a connection, his work was for naught as whatever the wires lead too had been removed or destroyed. After declaring the room was clear, they started to investigate and found that most of the bodies were laying in a particular path, and after Corn set a few explosive booby traps behind them, the team pressed forward, stymied by the Japanese signage that no one could read or speak. The trail of bodies led to a large room that reminded the team of a coffin motel, with several small doors set into large storage groups. After playing with a display panel, Spanky managed to turn on one and Pharaoh’s medical knowledge showed him that it was a biometric display for an occupant that was cyrogenically frozen. Realizing that these were the ‘supplies’ that Postmortum was talking about, most of the team, save for Spanky, were surprised as they were attacked from above.
A drone that looked like some bizarre cybernetic tiger dove from the top of one of the storage banks at Corn, who managed to avoid its claws by a hair’s width landed on the ground as its claws dug gouges out of the ferrocrete beneath it. Spanky, being the only one not surprised, fired a pair of bursts into the beast which, while damaging, didn’t seem to slow it down all that much. Two more of the drones joined the fray, attacking both Pharaoh and Spanky respectively. Pharaoh was forced to dive out of the way of the beast’s claws while Spanky didn’t have as much trouble avoiding the drone before putting two bursts from his SMG into the beast attacking him. Corn un-slung his LMG and placed a large burst into the very first drone which sent it to the ground in pieces before turning to fire on the drone attacking Pharaoh, damaging it but not enough to pull it away from the Hacker as an explosion sounded from further back in the hospital, signs that more drones were likely coming. Tazer threw a lightning bolt at the drone attacking Pharaoh, but it unfortunately exploded on the drone’s armor with no apparent effect. The two drones tried to attack once more, but coming up short as Pharaoh kept rolling away from the beast and Spanky just made it look easy dodging the claws. A second, and final explosion sounded from the hallway the team had come down as the last of the booby traps were triggered. Spanky finished off the drone attacking him with two paired bursts that the rest of the team would swear entered the same original bullet holes he created while Corn pasted the drone on Pharaoh with a long and short burst from his LMG. A momentary breather is all they had before a new drone raced in from the opposite direction, collapsing its back legs and using its powerful hydraulics to launch itself at Corn. Surprised by he attack, the claws of the drone ripped through the kevlar and shattered the ceramic plates in his armor, digging deep into his chest and driving him prone to the ground. Savaging the downed target, the drone continued to rip into Corn who mercifully fell unconscious while a drone that was on the receiving end of two booby traps staggered into the doorway that the team had used. Pharaoh took advantage of not being attacked and jumped into his own drone, and opening up with his own LMG on full auto into the drone savaging Corn and blowing it to Silicon Heaven while Spanky put the final droid out of its misery with a single burst.
Pharaoh broke out the first aid kit and was able to stabilize Corn and bring him back to consciousness, before Tazer moved in and used her Heal spell to bring him relatively back to fighting form at the expense of additional penalties due to drain. While saving their comrade, a speaker crackled to life in the room:
“You may have think you’ve beaten me, but I have much more drones! Many more traps! You will not reach me…” That horrible Russian accent, it had to be the nameless technomancer from oh so long ago. Calling out to him of both the fiber optic job and Corn’s gun purchase, the technomancer was incredulous that the team was here. Offering them a truce to come down to the reactor level to visit him, they were only too happy to accept. Moving back to the elevators, the B21 button was functional and the car once again shuddered and creaked all the way down to the bottom. Once down at the bottom, the team stepped out into an area that seemed well kept and hardly touched by the several years of neglect and abandonment. It doesn’t appear that anyone was able to scavenge this area for parts or equipment. From further down the hall, a door opened a bit and a head wearing a fuzzy hat peeked out, before throwing the door open in genuine delight as the little man welcomed them, offering them a bottle of whiskey. The technomancer who went by the handle ‘Lebdev’, seemed starved from human contact and was overjoyed to have someone not looking to kill him to talk too, not to mention he looked as if he was wasting away. The team asked him why he was here, and he happily said this was likely the safest place in Seattle. Informing him about the impending UCAS takeover seemed to deflate what little joy he had in him, asking the team to follow him into the control room, which had been made into low quality living quarters.
He started to talk to the team of his purpose. Lebdev is sure that the Matrix is some sort of magic, and as such he has been studying magical theory as well as tracing the correlations between Magic and the Matrix, and in the end knew he could have his answer with one last experiment. With the wave of his hand, the blast shields to the reactor opened to show a massive cocoon of fiber optic cable, about fifteen meters long and nearly as wide. One day, when the egg hatches, he will have his answer. But it is not going to hatch anytime soon, and so he had a favor to ask of the team. Help him move his experiment and use one of the barges to get away, and he’ll allow the team to use a few Deus drones to fulfill the Moterhead request and owe them a favor in future. Realizing that it would fulfill two groups demands, the wondered about Graveyard and the Sangre until Lebdev spoke up that she was a very bad woman. She wanted the reactor level so she could cause a meltdown of all three reactors and irradiate most of Seattle. Pharaoh guessed right in that the bugs in her Pavilion were his, and the team decided to forget about saving her, since if they were down a barge anyway they likely couldn’t get all of them out anyway.
The next several hours were busy with coordinating the evacuation between both the Moterheads and Postmortum’s pack and moving the fiber optic cocoon to a portable power source and hauling it up to the outflow pipes. As a final touch, Lebdev and Pharaoh spent some time screwing with the reactor’s controls, making anyone who was looking to use them have a very difficult time. Letting Lebdev leave first, he gave Pharaoh a drop box and asked him to leave a Chinese food order to get in contact with him and wished the team well. They shared the same and the funny little Russian was off into the Puget Sound. While the second barge was being loaded, the sound of a helicopter grew as a UCAS assault helicopter came down and started questioned the barges. Thankfully, the answers given seemed to be good enough as while the chopper stayed around for longer than was comfortable, it eventually did leave the area and loading was continued until only the team remained. As they only had about thirty minutes to spare, Pharaoh called for the boat and the team left in all haste, but not before he made a call to Redline, the rigger they hired from the Dreamchipper adventure.
“Hoi chummer, looking for a good deal on a used boat?” and with that, they headed into the sound to meet their smuggler to get them to Denver.
The ghoul packs smuggled out of the Arcology traveled down to Tacoma, and from there were smuggled out to the Puyallup Barrens. Forced to maintain strong ties to Shepard who provided for their needs, they mostly confined themselves to the sewers, displacing most of the squatters and a few of the smaller gangs. Puyallup becomes much more dangerous at night, as Tamanous moves in and increases their operations. Ghoul hunting receives a brief upswing in popularity, but is quickly stamped out as Clean Steve resumes his activities of finding and crucifying any Ghoul-hunters.
The CEO Alan Shepard, having nearly put a million nuyen into this run, is rather pleased with the result. Gaining both the moral high ground of saving nearly 900 of his fellow ghouls, he’s also gained the loyalty of the skilled labor from the sane ghouls. Although it required him to call in several markers, in about a year he’ll be able to begin to expand his operations.
The Sangre (being controlled by the Toxic Voodoo shaman Graveyard) begin a massive push toward the reactor levels, only to be met with heavy drone resistance. They manage to overwhelm the drones after an hour of frenzied fighting, only to finally reach the reactors to find the controls scrambled. A few of the more technically minded ghouls try to overload the reactors, setting off several alarm in the process which alert the UCAS military to the problem. The Sangre and Graveyard are annihilated by three special operations teams before they can cause any damage or a meltdown.
The UCAS army, having sent their special operations teams in early to slaughter the squatters in the mall levels of the Arcology, publicly move in at noon to discover the horror of what the criminal element has done. Bravely pressing forward to seek justice for the slaughtered squatters, they move to engage the gangs and some automated defenses in the upper levels of the Arcology. The media event is a total success, and Mayor Brackhaven enjoys a seven point gain in popularity and UCAS recruiting stations in Seattle receive a noticeable increase in volunteers.
And as the characters head off to Denver, we put the campaign on hold as Tazer’s player is looking to take the reigns and run a Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition campaign. Thanks to everyone who has been reading with us so far, and especially to those who offered words of praise and kindness.