Anna, in informorph state, decides to do some thinking. Pran breaks off to catch up with Blackvein & avoid dangerous situations for a moment. Iskra’s muse informs her that she has been receiving a lot of seeming junk mail for dating sites and such, all of which say “seeking like-minded individuals”. She reads one and fails to notice anything out of the ordinary, plus she feels that she doesn’t need help dating anyway. Frank receives a video of Fiala O’Donnell masturbating with his stack.
The team hears from Firewall, and gets their new orders: they are to locate and dismantle whatever remains of the AWE program at the Venusian Nine Lives base (wherever it is). They have 1 week to accomplish this task, as the Scum Swarm known as The Stars My Destination is arriving in 7 days, and a bunch of scum on shore leave after a long space rotation seems like a distressingly perfect vector to spread AWE-control. Firewall then wants them to gain access to the Cognite orbital station, Thought, where AWE was originally stolen, and make sure that the program can’t be rebuilt on that end.
They agree, and trade info with BV and others to try to locate the secret aerostat. Eventually, by comparing hijacked auto-hauler routes with product that 9 Lives has been offloading, they find a likely volume to search in, at a dangerously low altitude and high longitude. They expect sensors will be shit due to the lightning storms and sulphuric clouds, so they decide to stow away on an auto-hauler, hack it in mid-flight to bring it closer, and hope to get kidnapped. They have BV spread the word that there is a juicy cargo aboard to entice 9L to get involved.
Wong and Frederik have an unusually difficult time printing up gear, and have to knock out and drug a surprised civilian. Iskra gets fashion-forward armor and weaponry, trying to start a trend. Geared up, the team boards the cargo container, and remembers to get enough oxygen to be able to last the trip. Almost everyone starts to panic after they’ve been in the crate a while, so Iskra convinces them all to take drugs to make themselves feel better. Unfortunately, they are also overcome by the giggles. Fred and Wong team up on hacking and reprogramming the flightpath, and they successfully get snatched.
They exit the crate and set up an ambush as someone cuts their way into the hold. They easily defeat 2 unsuspecting dock workers, and enter the base: it looks like they got the right place, based on the pile of corpses in the docking bay, and the Lapriye fetishes that many of them are wearing. Frank surmises that the coup on Legba extended here as well. They get in a gunfight with 2 slightly more prepared guards, and defeat them. They are then charged by a large pack of AWE-infected morphs with claws screaming for Fiala O’Donnell. They drop them after taking some more damage.
They proceed down the opposite hall, having sent Wong’s speck to scout ahead and seen guards that way. They find the guards advancing, and Fred is ko’d, as are the guards. They hide Fred in the body pile. They proceed further, and find additional evidence of recent bloodletting, with bunk’s showing evidence of some throat-slitting, and signs of torture in a medical chamber/farcasting suite. They also find a server room. They decide to destroy the farcaster first, to prevent anyone fleeing who hasn’t already.
They encounter O’Donnell with 2 more guards approaching the ‘caster, and get into a major brawl. O’Donnell takes Frank down again, but then is herself ko’d by the rest of the team. Lena is dropped by a guard, and Wong and Iskra both take quite a lot of damage before managing to take the guards out (due to superior cover). Iskra trashes the server room while everyone is ko’d. O’Donnell’s stack is melted, and they’re all too nervous to touch her sword. They get Lena back on her feet, and she starts trying to heal all of their injured. They also find that they’ve made a full circle around the exterior ring of the hab, and decide to heal for a moment before exploring the inner area, as they do not come under further attack in the first hour.
They rescue Heng Ling from a cell where HL was being forced to research AWE, before 9L took it to Legba. After HL uses the appropriate Firewall callsigns, they join the team. They all compate notes on AWE and HL agrees that they have to chase it down to Thought, in orbit around Venus, and attempt to destroy it. Frank also recovers his stack from O’Donnell’s private quarters. HL calls in a favor with the Night Cartel to get off the station, and they head for Octavia, planning to use forged documents they recovered that 9L had prepared to gain access to Thought. HL helps Frank work through some issues, mainly being that Maria Santiago seems to have chosen to die some time ago, due to some cosmic ennui, and that Frank has apparently undergone repeated memory edits to block this out everytime he uncovers it. HL does some cursory work but recognizes that it’s a long process.
They make plans to take a transport shuttle up to Thought, which has stopped accepting egocasts as a security measure after the theft of AWE. A few team members break off, dealing with extreme depression or other things. Firewall suggests some new recruits to help accomplish the task at hand and they all meet up.
Using the forged 9L documents, they will pose as workers to gain access to the labs and servers there and try to find out where AWE came from & what exactly it is for, and destroy it. Firewall also requests any other secret info they can gather. They are also informed that there is a ban on biomorphs in the central “secret” labs on the hab, and given Cognite’s history with both the Lost Generation and research into AI, many of the team swap into synths to avoid psi attacks. Iskra and Fred stay in bio’s, as they need to to stay sane. Or as sane as they ever are. They prepare to depart.