Windy City Shuffle

Log 2. Riffle in the Night

Under their tarp, the cover of night, and yet something darker

The two-tonged Irish lilt still freshly tumbling in their pressurized ears, the crew rolls into the disused parking lot where Son of Andrews have directed them to. It's adjacent to a two-storey triangular building, whose paneling and paint jobs likewise are peeling off. Underneath the harsh weathering of the Zone, the squat building faintly glows that warm glow of nostalgia that usually makes up the patina of schools. 

On the southeast corner of the building, the crew finds a door, upon which emblazons the name "Janus". The door has been bullied off its hinge, and barely hangs onto the frosted threshold, open and inviting the winter in. Balzac is the first one in, astrally projecting deep into the second floor, while Wey-wey rummages through the abandoned foyer. As Balzac glides through, he finds the building is empty of life, but the signs of its departure is surprisingly recent, unmatched by how badly its rundown on its exterior. Even the second floor is no more interesting than broken equipment of what would have been a biochemical lab. People have been cleaning and busying these fully furnished office space only two weeks ago. 

Kord and Seiren ventures downward, leaving Blazac's limp body against the receptionist's desk. Throughout the building, all of its electronics are bricked but unburnt, as if hit by a gentle storm of electricity. At the foot of the staircase, they are stopped by a massive slab of black steel and a small inactive control panel. After minutes of work, Seiren rouses the controls from its sleep, and the slab hisses open to reveal an immaculately kept laboratory, its walls and floors scrubbed clean, white tiled, and—splatter of blood trailing up towards the door that they just opened.

Through the haze of limbic system kicking in, the crew sees a hand  reaching out through an open doorway, 10 meters into the lab. Coyote salivates into the ether, electrified at such blatant danger. Seeing the death, Balzac squats down against the metal slab, and astrally projects once again. Kord locks and loads while Wey-wey and Seiren steps forward, and peer into the room. 

They are struck with the iron-scented carnage emanating from three dead bodies strewn about in grotesque angles, snapped bones and necks visible sharp against the otherwise meticulous operation room. They are ringed by a kelpen glow of twelve stasis pods, each of them containing a naked body of a female, suspended in benthic stare and science. The twelfth is vacant.

Balzac's astral self enters into the lab at the same time, and is stopped short by overwhelming malice that washes over him. His perception burns with the maniacal laughter of eleven-headed hydra, that languidly claws as if underwater at the crackling air. Balzac snaps out, and shudders against the metal door before finding composure to relay the information to the team. 

The door slams.

Wey-wey and Seiren find themselves trapped in the laboratory with dead and suspended bodies. Seiren connects to the active node of the matrix, rooting through its restricted access to will the door open. As he sashays through the restricted AR, copying deeds and gaining access to the administrative controls of the building, he sees a dark shift in the corner of his eyes. Wey-wey looks up from rummaging through the bodies, now riddled with katana-sized holes, and flinches at Seiren's jolt. He quickly assenses the room, and is awash with the same terror that leapt out at Balzac moments before. A ball of flame enshrouds the many headed beast, as it snakes through the stasis pods, bodies, and malice. 

It takes a moment to recover from the horrific sight, but Seiren calls out that he has finished downloading all relevant data, and the lab door opens to the cool breeze of the corridor. There's a brief discussion of what to do with the remaining eleven pods, when it's revealed that the clones are from the Otaku subject named Samantha Carrol, whose test results revealed higher threshold than other subjects and has become the primary mould for the eleven. All are recorded under the project name "Gestalt". Wey-wey suggests that they are at their liberty to detonate the 11 cortex bombs, that Son of Andrews will never be able to tell whether they were the ones to burn up their coveted bounty. But sanity prevails, and the crew packs up to leave the Shiawasi owned building with the deed and bad taste in their mouths. Outside, they send through the fresh snow, the copy of the deed to Son of Andrews and get back on their trail to Midway. 

Soon, the two bikes shred through the I-55, blurring past desiccated carcasses of empty-wheeled vehicles and monstrous insect wings. As they near the off ramp, a lone white flash from the the traffic control tower invites the crew. At the edge of the criss-crossed airport, they stash the bikes under a tarp and proceed on foot. Balzac jumps into the astral realm once again to provide reconnaissance,  but upon his entry, he is noted by the lookout of the control tower. The mage quickly summons two spirits, and the crew jumps into the battle. Kord lets out his AK burst fire into the top of the control tower midway through his run across the airport. After the first round wildly misses and scatters across the tarmac, the second burst lands on the mark, ripping through the mage's skull in a flurry of broken glass. The two spirits are quickly taken down by Balzac, his mana blade articulating itself in the ether of the night with swift vengeance.

In the aftermath of the rather brief carnage, they approach the tower to find another survivor rushing down the staircase towards them. In clear panic, the man crumbles upon seeing Kord nonchalantly walk up the staircase, stepping over the freshly unarmed ganger. It's to Wey-wey's dismay that Kord let's the ganger escape.

After a bit of rummaging through the distended disuse that squats inside of the building, Serien locates the dying terminal and replaces it. 



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