Six Steps From Hell
|Six Steps From Hell|
|Part of Festering Infestation|
Six of Hearts|
|This was an Ascension run for Six of Hearts and Initiation for Babylon|
Six and Babs go investigate one of late Garry Foreman's projects in Asamando and if possible retrieve evidence to the Draco Foundation.
A familiar elven Draco Foundation representative, Charon and a sharply dressed Ghanan representative meet Six and Babylon in a well secured parking lot. Charon gives the run-down: a potential project codenamed Yggdrasil might've been zeroed in terms of location. It's in a smaller city within Asamando called Fumbisi. Home to approximately 35,000 SINners, it also has a slight crops farming project ongoing with Renraku instead of Saeder-Krupp as one might expect of Asamando. Currently the city is embroiled in a gang war between Palers and Providers - an exact fix isn't given, but there are concerns about the nature of Yggdrasil. Foreman had apparently tried his hand at Dunkelzahn's bounty for finding renewable sustenance for ghouls by chimerizing a dual-natured Aztlan tree species with metahuman DNA, aiming to create a tree that bears fruit composed of nourishing raw meat. It seemed to be a side project done purely out of curiosity rather than a dedicated great drive, but if there's a chance it actually was made, the Draco Foundation wants to make sure they get it. Naturally, there are a myriad of ways this could go wrong if the DNA splicing even partially worked out. The worst of all potentials is that the tree may begin spreading its seeds - or worse - get infected with HMHVV to unknown consequences.
Six and Babs are given a flight to Asamando on the down low, arriving some time later in an outpost among rocky outcrops. There's only one man at the outpost, one of the very few native Ghanan rebels that despise Asamando for stealing their territory and giving it to 'unholy abominations' like the Infected. He doesn't help the duo much, since he's half a click away from the city borders and insists on not being detected. The city is filled with free spirits, most of whom are employed by the upper class. The gang war takes place in the central regions of the town, but during daytime surveillance is limited and moving around is easier for the non-Infected populace.
Day one begins with scouting. They do so during daytime to minimize people hanging around in daylight, but the heat is difficult even for Six to bear at times. They find out that the local spirits obey some kind of shadowy group they refer to as The Masters, so after the initial summon Babylon feels hesitant about summoning more in the area. They go check the largest concentration of the local outbreak and find the area very deserted even for it being daytime. They come across a pile of rotten corpses inhabited by a necro spirit, but the spirit itself is relatively benign if horrifying. The spirit doesn't offer too much information other than the fact that many people haven't just died, they've gone straight up missing. In the nearby dried-up riverbed, the two find toxic sludge spirits as the river was intentionally dried up due to someone requesting it from The Masters in exchange of slaves being delivered to their service. Six and Babylon try exploring the underground but are locked inside almost immediately. As the ghouls underground notice their presence, they panic to break the padlock on the hatch and wrest free in the nick of time to run the culprit down. A young man, possibly eighteen or even less with a collar round his neck. His name is Francesco, someone who willingly indentured himself to the Masters so his family could have food to eat and a home to live in. He apologizes for trapping them, but knows little else. Unable to defuse the collar laced with explosives, the two runners let him go but hope him well.
Day two, scouting is done around the surrounding area. Further information is received about Fumbisi in general as a city. Two gangs in particular are feuding: Palers, a gang that used to be led by an albino man who detest the ghouls for taking their spotlight as the original denizens of the night and The Providers who seek corporate SINs by furthering corporate influence in the city. Underground, two major highways exist, the 2nd and 3rd Highways. Palers control a section of the 3rd while Providers have much of the northern city under their control. Six manages to distract some drone security in the nearby Tech Scrapyard, kilometers-wide maze of shipping containers overlooked by a complicated drone security system. She drops the skimmers down and skates for a distraction while one of the poor tech scrap scavengers climbs a tower of shipping containers for one that he claims is full of valuables. Babylon helps levitate the valuables down. They manage to secure a prototype mobile containment unit and various boxes of magical compounds while the scavenger is happy to leave with just one of the sturdy secure crates. They also acquire a proper truck to move the containment unit with; Gomorrah, Babylon's ally spirit is happy to drive!
Day three, the rebel is given most of the magical compounds but the team keeps a dose of Spirit Strength and Little Smoke. They make a preliminary exploration plan of the tunnels, Babylon looks for more information by taking a dose of Oneiro and practicing divination. She finds a crucial bit of information: a KE strike team was sent to the lab but it was slaughtered to the last. She also sees the entrance, a pair of sturdy blast doors. While she didn't see it from the outside, the size of the doors is so great it can't be in any of the numerous side tunnels, leaving only the Highways to be potential locations. The team begins from the 2nd Highway, having infiltrated the city during the night from the north. Certainly, there's more people outside, but the tunnels are slightly more vacant at night time. Chemical seals are activated and oxygen tanks are exchanged very carefully in as clean of a condition as possible.
The team enters the underground via a manhole cover while Gomorrah drives the truck and jeep into one of the underground lifts. Babylon notices some ghouls with their eyes being replaced by odd, jagged growths. While she suspects them to be blood crystals at first, she later recognizes them to be of an astral fungus that devours Essence and feels physically ill. They continue forward until eventually meeting up with Gomorrah. The two take their rebel-provided jeep while Gomorrah drives the truck and they surface briefly to make the jump from the 2nd Highway to the 3rd; staying underground the whole way endangers them approaching the Upper City, a well guard and monitored dwelling of those loyal to the Masters.
After witnessing sasabonsams, ferals encroaching on a murder crime scene in search of food and some older ghouls trying to educate the next generation, they finally notice some sensor anomalies that let them pinpoint the hidden lab entrance's location. With Babylon casting a Silence spell and both of them under the Concealment power, Six brings a sledgehammer to the white wall tiles and begins smashing the cement wall in, revealing the hardened steel walls behind it. She adds a sequencer to the mechanical keypad which Cecelia Cross' provided sprite aids. The sequencer begins brute forcing potential combinations of a long passcode. Hours pass before anything particular occurs; invisible attacks charge them. Mutated, four-armed harvesters invisible on both the physical and astral plane ambush Six and Babylon, but neither manage to puncture their armor. Babylon casts a carefully sculpted Chaotic World around them which confuses the Strain 2s' senses enough for Six to grab onto their invisible arms and pump them full of lead. Once dead, their grotesque form is revealed and the door opens after three hours of cracking. The team enters carefully and finds some valuable material in the rotting bodies of the strike team. They also find the corpses of Ezekyle Burton's father and Alexander-James Brodrick Johnson III's uncle, both of whom were employed by Foreman but were killed by the outbreak happening in the lab. The background aspect begins climbing as jammers scramble all communication. The team manages to circumvent a laser-filled mantrap by smothering the glass panel protecting the laser emitters with opaque material, turning the once precision cutting lasers into much more muted and dissipated beams of light.
Finally they find the tree Babylon saw in her vision, a grotesque budless tree without green leaves or fruit, only corpses and skulls budding from its branches. Eighty or so corpses are left in its wake, essence drained by the tree itself. Babylon begins manifesting a spiritual lodge and a communicative lodge upon sensing some degree of intelligence from the entity while Six continues investigation and finds some documents, photographs physical files and barricades a medbay filled with (at the moment) docile ghouls. Babylon finds the project Yggdrasil entity to be a symbiotic fusion of a metahuman and an awakened tree; inside is a metahuman that was sculpted into a living, Essence-bearing heart of massive proportions. The tree siphons Essence from its victims and then feeds it to the Heart which dispenses it to grow its 'fruit' - the bodies which even ghouls can gain sustenance from. The body count is enormous, however. Babylon looks for ways to fit this thing in the containment unit nearby and determines that carefully removing the heart from the tree trunk is the only option despite it being as big as Six herself.
The operation is a success and they manage to remove the heart without any remaining Infected going into a blood rage despite some close calls. They exfiltrate with far more ease; getting in was the hard part, getting out is easy comparatively since they know exactly what route to take.
The heart and research is given to the Draco Foundation; Foreman had fully sequenced and decoded the DNA, genomes and splicing potential of multiple individuals:
- Mr. Herenight
- Silas Vespasiano
- Chaplain Carmilla
- Coffee Kid which Samsara knows. Delphi is aware this child has the latent elven gene that may enable them to express as Nosferatu.
These DNA sequences she keeps to herself. Everything else she gives to the Draco Foundation in addition to giving (most of) the research information to the Black Lodge. A promise is a promise and they're rewarded for their efforts. The Draco Foundation is horrified by the heart-shaped metahuman, a successful clone of Coffee Kid, but promises to try to see if they can ease his suffering or perhaps even biosculpt him into a proper body one day. If not, they'll see if he can provide useful information regarding the ghoul problem.
- 100,000 Nuyen (or double that in ware up to Avail 19) (50 RVP)
- 40 Karma (40 RVP)
- 22 CDP (10 RVP)
- Optional Gear: Repeating Laser & Peak-Discharge Battery Pack (Backpack) @ Gear Reward Rates
- Optional Gear: Lone Star Remote Commander @ Gear Reward Rates
- Optional Gear: Pi-Tac Level I Renraku Taka @ Gear Reward Rates
- Optional Gear: Onotari Interceptor @ Gear Reward Rates
- Optional Gear: Yggdrasil Spear, R4 Weapon Focus @ Gear Reward Rates (Effectively Cougar Collapsible Spear; For Babylon)
- Optional Gear: Ares MULE @ Gear Reward Rates
- ASCENSION RUN FOR SIX OF HEARTS, TAKE 5 RVP OUT OF SOMETHING ELSE TO HAVE A GOOD OL' TIME
- INITIATION FOR BABYLON