Campaign of the Month: November 2014

Shadowrun - The Rat's Nest

Summary
a short-ish summary

December 2070

The Rat’s Nest is raided by Knight Errant / Hard Corps and partly destroyed, most of the Scrappers are arrested. After a sniper shoots five Hard Corps men the next morning, the Nest is evacuated. While it’s almost empty, the Picas move in.

During the time out of the Nest, the Scrappers are let go again by the police who had nothing much to charge them with. Neil finds out that he is Awakened when he summons a spirit by accident and meets Glitzy, who agrees to teach him. They begin a relationship.

The Nest is retaken from the Picas who no longer exist as a gang after that. A short while later, people get stuck in a UV host modelled after the Warsaw Ghetto and only just manage to escape.

January 2071
Glitzy and Maggie run a con on a businessman. Because Glitzy is too honest for her own good, she afterwards arranges for the man to work as a Johnson. 10k go missing from the Nest’s finances and it seems that someone has managed to program people to give the money away and not remember it afterwards. So far, it’s not known how or who. Rusty starts working as a runner for Glitzy.

February 2071
Roger Kowalski and Babsie open up a detective agency and immediately get in trouble with, presumably, the Yakuza.

March 2071
Babsie works her own first case and meets Fog, Zach, Jet and Stanley. Tempo slowly grows into a problem for the Nest and Neil loses Whistler when he tries to find a way to get rid of the addiction. After a run on the Maria Magdalene Sanatorium, fifty girls take refuge in the Nest. Fog, Zach, Jet, Stanley and Rusty have really pissed off a lot of important people and have a runner team searching for them. One of the girls, Fairy Fay, is a drake and hides out at Glitzy’s for now.

April 2071
The Rat’s Nest find out who stole all that money: Gen Wong, a rat shaman. Cornered, he fights and is killed by Neil. Lao Jia, his rat spirit, frees herself and moves in at the Nest. Zach is brought onto the UV Host and barely survives it. Fog hooks up with a witch, Kiki, and is currently wanted for killing a cop.

May 2071
Fog, Jet, Stanley, Zach and the Working Girls make a successful run on a chocolate factory and steal a ton of chocolate, but find out that it’s fake, grown from engineered algae. While hiding out at an abandoned chemical plant, they survive an attack by the Rusted Stilettos.

June 2071
Glitzy brokers a deal for the chocolate with the Stone family in Boston. A million for the ton, delivered to Boston. Fog, Stanley, Zoé, Jet and Nebraska go on a roadtrip and against all odds actually deliver the chocolate. Tyrell Agency investigates a series of arsons at talismonger shops.

July 2071
The group starts cleaning up a fertilizer plant near Glow City and goes on a metaquest to get rid of two toxic spirits. They succeed, but everyone pays a price for it. After that, they spend time preparing for the raid on the Rusted Stilettos headquarter in Glow City to free Rook.

August 2071
Frettchen gets a job at the [[clinic. The Stilettos raid goes ahead.

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Masterpost
all adventure logs

Adventure Log Timeline – use this to read it all in order

August 2071

July 2071

June 2071

May 2071

April 2071

March 2071

February 2071

January 2071

December 2070

November 2070

April 2054

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Cast Away
Magenta's Bloomings

It’s so cold. The fog is lurking just a few blocks outside. There are monsters in the darkness. No, really. We’ve seen them! They are waiting to get us.

I’m so weak I hardly can move. And there is rain, hard rain like cold knifes coming from everywhere. They don’t fall like the water from the ponds at Glitzy’s Earth. They just come out of nowhere, they stick into our skin and leave marks in our flesh. Like bites of eye big mosquitos.

My best friend Firefox has rescued me. After our crash. I don’t know what happened, but we were hit I think and our scout operation at Glow City tumbled down. I could see the ground come closer so fast. Firefox was screaming, I tried to fly but there was no place to unfold my wings.

Then I blacked out. Something was broken. My leg hurt and Firefox managed to pull me out of the wreck of her vessel, a herring gull or something. I can’t remember the name. It’s so hard to concentrate here, with the noise. This damn noise that is crackling all day and all night. She has patched me up, my leg still hurts but she managed to fix the broken link between knee actuator and foot actuator. She said she took a fork from a dead driver tree, which she found just outside in one of the ancient nodes around us, that mostly are dead.

At the second day I recovered barely enough to help her build a sort of tent. It’s more makeshift than anything. We tried to summon a porta, but no success. We tried to yell into the lines. But they’re all dead. Dead and hurting.

It was all okay when we were up in the air. But now on the ground we suffer. Saw a gray old piece of code outside. It’s called svchost.exe Firefox said and that’s some very old, very dangerous code. Must lure in one of the ancient nodes, she said. The earth around here stinks. It was blind and didn’t see us. But I know it was sniffing in our direction. Then it shuffed away.

I’m scared! I don’t dare to play my fiddle to sing the song of light and fog. I’m too weak for it anyway. There’s so much hurting rain! It slits through the roof of our tent sometimes and hurts. Firefox has some scars but she’s so brave. She smiles and tells stories at night.

Don’t know how long we have been here. Feels like weeks. I was asleep most of the time.

Does anybody know? Tomorrow I will try to stand up. Firefox said she’s healing my leg. But I can see she’s weak too and is getting weaker. We have to move! Hurts!

I pray to the photons that I’ll see my tribe again!

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The Ghosts of Glow City

[Start Audio]
….
[no time stamp]

This is it.
Could be my last recording.
But no…No more delays or doubts.
It’ll be tough. We’ll be a tiny spark spiraling down into darkness, but one thing I can promise: we’ll burn bright and fiercely.
I’m still humbled and a little in awe… It’s hard for me to comprehend why I deserve such loyalty. I’m not a leader or a great commander or anything… Just a guy who tries to keep his people alive and well. Perhaps that’s the trick. Lead by example and all that.
For my first inspirational speech this went far better than I expected.
Maybe they know that they owe it to Rook and the old man, know that both would’ve done the same for them, maybe it’s their hate for the muties. Guess in Scab’s case, that’s the hook.
Or maybe Satelite Day is still fresh enough in their minds to know that there’s a time when you have to strike back, lash out.
I know all their faces and most of their names, but more importantly, I know that we’re all Zoners.
Each of us is a survivor. Hitting hard and being even harder to take down.
But we’re all out there on our own.
We’re no gang, no tribe, have no real community.
I understand that none of us is obligated to the other and I went into this gathering in Screech’s old joint, knowing that this wasn’t their fight.
Promised them, no matter where they’d put their chips, this would be a safe haven, a place to recover and get supplies, no strings attached.
Still, half of them are with me on this, and so are Nebraska, Ela and Zach. Glitzy’s been a hell of a boon in terms of logistics and Spirits, even Zach’s digital friend sees something in me and volunteered to be my scout for this.
They all see something that makes them think we can pull this off together and with this bold excuse for a plan.
I’m proud to earn that much trust and I won’t fail to deliver.
We’ll hit the muties where it hurts and we’ll get my partner outta there.
The best shot for people like us was always to stay invisible, haunting the scorched ruins and make it back home to the world of the living by dawn.
Tonight, we’ll show them that there are ghosts in Glow City.
We’ll remind the Stilettos that these ruins are not theirs. Never were.

[End Audio]

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Kindred Souls

[Start Audio]
….
[no time stamp]

Clear Skies.
A short burst of silent, content laughter
Wonder if she knew about that, or if it’s just one more proof we did the right thing.
It’s a little credo among us zoners, or a greeting if you will. Something like ‘Good luck’, ‘Stay safe’, or ‘Farewell’ up to ‘There’ll be better days.’…
A sigh
There was this idea. Clinged really hard to my brain, wouldn’t let go.
And we pulled it off.
With the bliss of this experience still lingering, it’s difficult to explain.
But I’ll try.
It’s something nobody tried before us. A miracle of will and arcane expertise you rarely find in the Sixth World.
Chris Gregory, you probably know that, but I don’t think you know just how thankful I am.
Despite all documentation and 60 years of research, few people know how adept magic works. We’re not casters in the strictest sense, but we have a way to find balance. Balance between our bodies and the mana around us. We’re conduits, or, at least that’s the best I can come up with. We have a way of attuning to the world and its flow.
There’re techniques ‘specially for that.
Really usually for things dear to us, sometimes animals, companions like Sofia.
But that’s the thing. If it works with guns n’ suits n’ pets… Shouldn’t it be possible to attune to people as well?
It’s a path you gotta tread carefully. Our minds are delicate and easy to fuck up and being so close to somebody has some inherent and pretty sinister temptations.
But still, we did it.
She drives me crazy, ya know, this special girl.
In more than one way.
I think the roadtrip did that to us.
Before that, well… I knew I could count on her, but I think that of all my people when push comes to shove. With her, it was more like handling nitro glycerine in a blender or a jazzed up weasel in a room full of mouse traps…
To be honest, that’s still the case.
But during those days on the road, I got to know her better, learned what drives her, what scares her and what she needs to get a direction.
I know her struggle, or at least part of it.
Kara and I, we ride the same wave, I guess.
If the timing had been better… Now that’s something I actively blocked from my head for a long time, we probably both had.
Running with her feels good, natural. And she’s a pretty, strong girl, so… But…
For the sake of our relationships, we came to terms with that road and we won’t walk it.
We chose something different and now we’re probably closer than ever and closer than anybody but us could understand.
And now, when she sprints face first into danger with me, we can share our thoughts, she’s got my powers to back her up and maybe it helps her find a direction and clearer purpose.
What I’m trying to say here is,to paraphrase the uncrowned Queen of Words of our beloved Barrens:
I’m proud to call you ‘Partner’, Kara.

[End Audio]
attuned.png

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Cleansing

[Start Audio]
….
[no time stamp]

This is hard to put in words.
Spirits, so much has happened… Metaquests are nothing for light hearts, that much I can tell you.
But let’s do this from the start. One of the very important points on my long to-do list was to clean the old fertilizer plant. I owed it to Glitzy, the little earth spirits, myself…
And by ‘clean’ I mean really clean. Letting the astral space recover, heal spiritual wounds and all that. The Draco Foundation happily threw a dead president’s money at me for doing something good, so the hardware for the job wasn’t a problem.
The mechanical part went as well as expected, but there were two angry toxics who didn’t appreciate our efforts.
Sometimes… Well, sometimes, I think too simple. I was expecting trouble, sure, but when I started this, a dirty camping trip with my friends, some bonding and beating up evil spirits was kinda what I had in mind.
Instead, we had to literally kick ass and take names.
True names are a powerful thing. We found the home plane of Ytong and his big sister and Chris helped us getting there to either turn them, or end them. Well, the plan was to do a practice run on Ytong, mainly because he didn’t seem too far gone.
Pro tip: do a spellcheck when recovering a true name, ‘cause ours wasn’t Ytong’s but that of his older sibling, so we basically showed up on a Vespa to a monster truck race.
I’m tough to break. In body as well as in mind, but I have to give that fairy tale world we got thrown into a lot of credit for trying.
Couldn’t use my powers, had no real plan, and everything, cutesy as it was in appearance, was trying to kill us.
It’s kinda humbling and an enlightening perspective to walk the boots of, well, normal, non-magical, people, using your brain and what limited advantages you have. Guess that’s part of the experience-package when you’re on a metaquest.
We did good. Together and each in our own, might wanna call it unique, way.
Everyone pulled their weight and when one of us stumbled, the others picked them right up.
You’re probably waiting for me to spill the darker stuff. Gimme a few minutes, okay?
I need a drink.

[End Audio]

[Start Audio]
….
[no time stamp]

Alright.
I wouldn’t really call myself an optimist. More like, confident or stoically positive and/or determined..
But at times it’s hard to convince my people that we aren’t going to die, or fail. ‘specially when Zach has another episode, not to mention Nebraska’s “let’s do shit!” attitude that would easily legitimate a redefinition of the phrase “blind actionism”.
Stan and Jet usually just need a little nudge in the right direction to roll with whatever we come up with.
But it’s tough work anyway.
I really wasn’t at my A-game on this one. I tried to keep it together but I’d lie if I said my head was clear. And with my powers stripped I was probably overly cautious and bent on survival.
So here’s a quick summary of the less horrifying shit that went down:
Nebraska almost got lost in the metaplanes when fairies tried to kidnap her. Also, her face almost got eaten by a giant frog mutant. Straight up cut that fucker’s head off.
I faced my worst childhood nightmare, we got strongarmed by a witch (more than once, but I’ll get to that later), got sliced and stabbed by metal bird feathers, I almost choked on a spoon, on purpose, killed myself twice, also on purpose and duked it out with a Cat 8 toxic. There was also this thing when I ate magical apples that let you see the past and future, for a price of course.
Not exactly business as usual, but something I can roll with.
No, the real pain started when I found Rook in one of the many layers of this metaplanar clusterfuck. Maybe she was just a figment of my imagination, or a trick by that other Crow to get me, but having my partner back only to lose her again… It’s like waking up from a vivid dream… This primal, desperate anger when you realize that whatever you had a few seconds ago…well, you never had it to begin with.
We made it, though. Well, obviously.
My people showed what they’re made of, when push came to shove. They cleansed the spirit’s lair and made her vulnerable by being the conduit for some kinda artifact. It drained them, but it also send them home, with some scars, but alive.
And I got to punch a toxic spirit out of existence after giving another one a shot at redemption.
But you know what they say… claiming your victories is just a clever way of forgetting your failures.
And that’s where the true pain continues…
Back on our plane, the first thing, after making sure my crew was okay, was to break it to my girl that for the apples we needed to turn Ytong, I had to play one night of spiritual callboy for Baba Yaga. You know, that witch.
Believe me when I say there are far worse ways to pay a powerful being like her. She even had the decency to shapeshift into a younger, far less creepy version of herself, so, yeah, it wasn’t horrible at all. Also, knowing Kiki’s tradition, I figured it wasn’t something that would strain what we have too much.
Fuck, was I wrong. It hit her hard. Way too hard for something like this.
I mean, I do ridiculously dangerous shit all the time, get stabbed and shot on a regular basis and generally live a life that’d make insurance agents pop an artery if they ever found out.
We patched things up, but the dents and cracks are there.
To add injury to…injury I guess… I got the bill from Baba Yaga for one of those apples I ate by accident. Yeah, just work with me here, okay?
I got cursed with aggressive and negatively charged psychometry or something, or frankly: I relived the really, really bad things peopled experienced simply by touching them.
As an empathic healer, I’m used to that kinda backlash, but Spirits, this was tough stuff. Don’t think I would’ve last a week like that.
So the next hook right into the guts for her was that we wouldn’t be able to even touch each other.
Lotta tears and screaming and despair.
I can relate, but that’s not how I roll.
Get up, dust yourself off, come up with something. There simply is no quit in people like us, as my Dad always said.
Didn’t want to leave everything behind or throw myself into a null-zone, so I used my Crow-nections to meet up with Baba Yaga, trying to soften up this tally a bit.
As the trainee of one of the best diplomats, – by which I mean con-artist – I’ve ever met, I know when I walk into a no-win situation. I was in for a full-force kick to the balls. All I could hope for was that I at least get a cup.
That actually worked. Now I owe seven services to her. She can call them in at any time.
Don’t worry, got some failsafes written into this contract. Can’t hurt my family in any way, won’t straight up murder people… stuff like that.
Isn’t the worst gig, though everybody who knows this seems pretty worried.
But… you know.. Get enough things breathing down your neck and you become kinda numb to those kinds of concerns.

[End Audio]

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Buy now, pay forever
Neil's Journals

I’m tempted to name the new wing of the clinic after Fog. He’s not a regular patient himself, his adept powers see to that, but people in his company end up with us very often. Fog runs into danger in the knowledge or hope that he can handle anything life throws at him and most times, he’s been right. The thing is, people follow him. He inspires loyalty and even though (or maybe because) he doesn’t realize it, he’s a natural born leader. And most people are far less equipped to deal with the stuff Fog takes on. So they get hurt. But they still follow him next time because they see Fog going all in for them and doing his best to protect them. And Fog’s best is usually very good indeed.

This time, Fog’s project was to clean up the fertilizer plant where John lives. He got some money from the Draco Foundation for this and it would have been hard work, but nothing out of the ordinary. Except for the two toxic spirits. So they decided to go on a metaquest and either kill the smaller of the two spirits or turn him. They had his spirit formula or so they thought and would deal with the more powerful spirit later.

Turn out that the spirit formula was for the powerful one. I’m not sure what exactly happened, but in the end they did turn the weaker spirit and killed the powerful one, but not without paying a price. Magic is never for free. Nebraska is at the clinic right now, she suffered a SURGE effect and has patches of snake skin all over her body. As far as I can tell, it’s harmless, but I doubt the reaction of other people will be. She’s taken it pretty well, Nebraska has a talent for bouncing back even from the worst things.

Stanley suffers from a compulsion to wash his hands. Not exactly a problem at work, but when you live on a garbage dump, it’s hard to feel clean at the best of times. Zach has a phobia to water. Showering or even drinking is almost impossible. He solved the drinking problem by using a straw. It hasn’t rain so far, but in Seattle, that’s only a question of time. Jet seems to have some kind of allergy, but we haven’t yet pinned down what causes it.

Fog came out of all this clean. It might be that the price he’s paying is that the others pay for him. He also made a deal with a spirit on the meta plane, who took the form of Baba Yaga. Even if you don’t believe that she is Baba Yaga, the form she chose should make you wary. Fog angered her and a day or so after they all came back from the quest, she cursed him with uncontrollable psychometry – as soon as he touched anyone, he got flashbacks to all the bad things that happened to those people. Not a good thing to have even at the best of times and worse when you are planning on sneaking into Glow City to free your partner. Especially when the plan might involve a lot of hand to hand combat. He made another deal with Baba Yaga and now he owes her seven services. At least he got her to agree to certain terms that should prevent the worst, but, well, deals with spirits are always something to be nervous about. Especially with a spirit you know nothing about except that she’s very powerful.

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Illusions
Rook's Log

I dreamt about Fog. The dream felt so real that, waking up, I was for a moment confused why he wasn’t here. I cannot shake him, however much I want to.

I had almost managed to forget him because hoping that he’d come for me was poison. Then he pops up a couple of weeks ago and leaves me with his voice, telling me that he’s got me. That he won’t leave me behind.

Well.
I’m still here.

I’m not falling for this partner-bullshit anymore. I don’t know why I ever believed it. It’s a comfortable lie, I guess. But when it really counts, I’m on my own. Fog just hasn’t figured it out yet, but he will, sooner or later. He’s always been good at surviving and relying on others is not how you do it. I know that now.

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Water, Water Everywhere
a view from a scrying glass

the bowl has misted over again and the hands give it an angry shake, with some mumbled curses in Russian

The group wakes up in a cave, covered in black, oily slime. Next to them are two more persons in the grip of the dream eaters they encountered before. The rest of the cave is covered in slime, animal and human bones, trash, some old wooden chests and stinking mud. There seems to be no way out except for murky water at one end of the cave. For some reason, Rook is still with them.

The first oder of business is killing the dreameaters. It turns out that they don’t deal well with decapitation. The two men they had captured don’t wake up, though, and one of them simply disappears. Zach rifles through the trash and the chests and finds a cornucopia covered in green slime. He instantly feels sick when he touches it, but the light in the cave gets a tiny bit brighter and there’s a breath of fresh air. Everyone but Fog who touches the horn has that sick feeling.

He decides to clean the horn in the water and the water gets a bit cleaner around it, too, but he gets a nosebleed. Also, it seem sthat the cornucopia can swallow enormous amounts of water. When he takes it out of the water again, it’s empty and they find that someone mad enough to do it, like Nebraska, can stick their arm right inside up to the shoulder.

They decide to try and touch the toxic spirit with the cornucopia since it seems to clean up the cave. Right on cue, the spirit appears and while Zach plunges the horn into the water, it attacks Fog with a wave and tries to drown him. Zach disappears suddenly and the horn falls into the water, but Nebraska dives after it and catches it before it’s gone, gets caught herself by Fog, who gets pulled above water by Rook. She tells him to let go, to get the cornucopia and run. Stanley grabs the horn just in time before Nebraska disappears, too and hands it to Fog. All the time, the spirit does its best to drown them or get them to let go of the horn. And all the time, the cave looks brighter and cleaner.

For a minute, Fog follows Rooks advice and gets away from the spirit. But he gives the horn back to Stanley and then to Jet who both rapidly collapse and disappear. By now, the cave and the water are clean and the spirit is only a shadow of its former self. Fog is now all alone, Rook is gone too. He takes the cornucopia, runs up to the spirit and starts bashing it over the head. The fight doesn’t last long before the spirit dissolves into a puddle of water. Fog has a moment to breathe and to wonder how he will get back, before he too disappears.

the hand touches the surface of the water in the bowl and destroys the image of the empty cave

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Breakout
a view from a scrying glass

Fog wakes up again strapped to the bed, in a lot of pain and heavily drugged. He loses track of time, but when he’s fully awake for the next time, his ribs hurt much less, so he probably was kept unconscious for quite some time. This time, he’s in a wheelchair and again strapped down,Dr Munroe does not want to risk another escape. The good doctor tells him as much and shows him what happened according to the CCTV cameras: Fog escapes from his room and everything happens like he remembers it, but he never reaches the roof. Instead four attendants tackle him and only stop punching and kicking when he’s unconscious.

Rook is brought in and she’s livid that Fog again involved her. She was this close to getting out of the hospital but that’s now off the table. Fog tries to tell her that everything they imagined is real and that he won’t leave her. All this does is make Rook snap, she jumps Fog. The attendants grab her and she gets a beating much harder that necessary to be to subdue her. After Rook’s been taken away, Dr Munroe warns Fog that everything he does will have consequences for Rook.

The others drive in the rough direction the spell is telling Zach to go and after some time, enter a huge forest that is not normally there. The road takes them to an enormous hospital that none of them have ever seen. They ask for Fog and between them, they can come up with his first name, a description and the first letter of his last name. That’s enough to get them an appointment with Dr Munroe, after two hours of waiting. He tells them that Fog has been at the hospital for the last six year and that he won’t get out in the foreseeable future. They try to tell a convincing lie that would allow them to at least see Fog, but fail miserably.

Zach asks if they can write a Get Well-card and Dr Munroe agrees to deliver it, if Fog’s condition allows it. So Zach goes off to the gift shop and choses a card and a candy bar. Since an attendant is following him around to make sure he doesn’t get lost, he ducks into the restroom to cast an illusion spell on the file that he saw on Dr Munroe’s desk. The first spell fizzes out, the next one works, just not like he wanted it to. The file turns into a pumpkin with an audible pop

This at least does something to lighten the tense mood in the doctor’s office – Stanley had tried to pull his narcoject pistol on Dr Munroe, who spotted the movement and has his finger on the alarm button under his desk. No-one acknowledges that they are at a standoff and the tone stays civil, if a bit frosty. The arrival of the pumpkin is a welcome distraction. Jet picks it up and Dr Munroe is confused enough to take his hand off the button. Both Nebraska and Stanley take the chance to jump him. After a short scuffle, they overpower him and take him hostage. He agrees, after a reluctant pistol whipping by Stanley, to take them to Fog. The attendants who’ve been alerted keep their distance at Dr Munroe’s orders to solve this as peacefully as possible.

Fog, meanwhile, has a chat with Crow. His mentor spirit warns him about Rook, he says it’s not exactly a good idea to get her involved. He also helps Fog to free himself, but will not or cannot open the door. A commotion outside gets Fog’s attention and he spots Zach walking towards Dr Munroe’s office. Zach also spots Fog, but doesn’t want to give it away to the attendant still following him around. The others arrive and get Fog out of the room. The first thing he does is punch Dr Munroe as hard as he can, breaking his nose and almost knocking the man out. The others, especially Jet, are pretty uncomfortable with that and with taking the doctor hostage in general, after all he looks and sounds perfectly like Neil. They recognize that he’s their ticket out of here, though.

Despite Crow’s warning, Fog makes a short detour to get Rook. She’s pissed and it takes some convincing, but in the end she comes along. It’s her best shot at getting out of the hospital, she knows that. They make it out of the building without further problems, apparently no-one wants to risk the life of their boss. Before they get into the car, Rook turns round and with a few well-aimed punches and kicks she takes Dr Munroe down. He may or may not be dead, at least he doesn’t move and no-one takes the time to check.

About half-way through the forest, thick fog starts to fill the car. They stop, but cannot open door or windows and the fog rises quickly until they are swallowed by it.

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