A new member was assigned to the 9th Squad—Officer Yiska Karouk, an American Indian Esper fresh from the academy. Sgt. Hemelshot helped Karouk get settled in and brought him back to the precinct house to discuss future plans with the rest of the squad.
Yiska was introduced to the other members of the 9th Squad and had a brief meeting with Captain Richards, a fellow Esper and the chief of the 13th Precinct. Once this introduction was complete, Jama and Burton presented their findings from Kamang's office (investigated during Session 6). Jama described Kamang's efforts with regards to the drug (named "Angel's Blood") as a kind of curse that allowed the Entity to bypass one's natural defenses. Jama also explained that she knew of a countercharm for the curse in its raw form (i.e., a spell), but according to the notes and Jama's knowledge, there is NO existing countercharm for the curse as it is focused in the drug itself. However, a possible countercharm may be found within the pages of a book called the Esperanaza Grimorium, a tome of magical knowledge (including priceless rituals for exorcism and methods for breaking curses) last owned by Dominic Van Goren.
Burton explained that there was Entity material inside Angel's Blood. The notes on the doctor's computer related to something called "Project: Century" and that Kamang's research indicated a potential for eternal youth and immortality.
Hemelshot set off looking for a smuggler contact of his, accompanied by Yiska and Carpenter. Meanwhile, Tyger was detailed to modify his power armor for training purposes, and Jama was given the task of investigating the records on the Omega Sector. Burton was also asked to continue his research.
Hemelshot's smuggler friend turned out to be one "Lucky" Jack Steele, an owner of a fast boat who often brought in art objects, antiques, and difficult-to-find items past customs (and the trade tariffs). Hemelshot asked Steele to locate a vial of Angel's Blood. Steele agreed, but the asking price for one dose turned out to be quite high—$5,000. Steele also explained that the drug is incredibly addictive and very popular with the underworld. In addition he knew of one group that had suddenly pulled out of the drug business completely, including Angel's Blood—a new player on the scene called the Kurobara-kai.
Having made the deal, Hemelshot and crew returned to the Precinct to confer with the others. Hemelshot then asked Tyger to guide the crew to the location in the steam tunnels where Tyger last saw the drug being used. The squad journeyed to Epsilon Sector and grounded the Spinner in a very rough neighborhood. Jama cast a light spell on the Spinner to keep anyone from messing with the vehicle.
Underground, the steam tunnels were as they always are—hot and humid. The smuggling dock Tyger remembered had been blown to hell—wreckage and rubble was everywhere, including half a boat bobbing in the water nearby. Burton had constructed a device to track transdimensional energy and was reading a source within range, confirmed by Carpenter's ability to sense evil. The rubble shifted, alerting some of the squad members to a threat nearby—several weapons were drawn, but no one was quite prepared for the sight of an Entity bursting up out of the rubble. This Entity had some human-like features and the tattered remnants of clothing still stuck to its body—in addition, its body had fused with some smaller pieces of rubble (i.e., a chunk of rebar, bits of concrete, etc.). The Entity ripped a large chunk of a wrecked trailer up from the ground and hurled it at Jama and Carpenter, slamming both of them to the ground. Luckily, however, the wreckage did not pin either officer to the ground. At the same time, the Entity let loose a horrifying roar of anger and hunger that froze most of the squad in its tracks. Hemelshot, in a rare moment of perfect clarity, managed to push past the fear and leapt to try and push Jama out of the way of the rubble, but found his feet tangled in wreckage and instead fell to the ground.
Burton was able to move and struggled through the rubble to a better position. Tyger was able to recognize the features of a man he had thought was dead within the Entity, and blasted away with two pistols—however, his shots were less than effective. The Entity teleported to Jama and picked her up in its massive paw. The Entity's mouth gaped wide, and the diminutive sorceress was jammed down the creature's gullet with a single gulp. Tyger blazed away with his maser, but his weapon seemed to miss any vital spots. Burton fired as well, hitting the creature in the thigh to little effect.
The Entity then teleported to Tyger's location and seemed to recognize the clade, growling his name before slashing him brutally. The blow was nearly mortal, blasting the clade's body against the wall with crushing force and causing both weapons to fly out of his hands. Carpenter shouted a challenge and charged, his holy sword flashing in an attempt to disembowel the creature, but missed. Within, Jama found herself upside-down and surrounded by tiny fanged worms trying to break through her protective spell. The sorceress forced herself to focus and brought her enchanted kris knife to bear, a flame enchantment burning its way through the creature's body from the inside out. Yiska brought his powers to bear and attempted to destroy the creature's head with a single shot, but found it too small a target and missed as well.
Burton noticed Jama's attempt and aimed his next shot at that location, combining the energy of the maser's blast with her flaming blade to cause massive damage. Carpenter's sword added to the Entity's pain, while Hemelshot approached directly in front of the creature in a brave attempt to draw its attention. He was successful. The Entity grasped Hemelshot in a tight grip and squeezed, but its crushing grip was relatively ineffective against the cyber-enhanced cop. Yiska focused his will and grasped a chunk of rubble. The esper slammed the rubble into the Entity's back in an attempt to force it to let go of Hemelshot, but the Entity hardly seemed to notice. Tyger shook off the terrific impact of the previous blow and sprang to his feet, drawing his Sten blade. With a furious curse, Tyger charged the Entity and finished it off with a powerful jab of his knife—however, the impact knocked all the breath out of him and he fell unconscious just as the creature began to dissolve.
Jama found herself soaking in Entity goo, although her forcefield helped somewhat. While the sorceress dealt with her situation and was grateful for the chance to breathe again, Yiska was ordered to search the rubble for any more entities. None were found, but Jama and Carpenter were able to locate a used cylinder of Angel's Blood.
Hemelshot expertly bound up Tyger's injuries while the team rested from the encounter. Just as Hemelshot was about to call for cleanup teams, he received a call from Steele, who explained he had found the drug sample Hemelshot was looking for. Hemelshot guided Steele to the squad's location. Meanwhile, Jama had cleaned herself off with magic, although some smell still remained from the mess. Burton had taken the human remains from the Entity's decomposing form and body-bagged them.
When Steele arrived, the smuggler appeared nervous and embarrassed. Steele explained that he had located a sample of the drug, but that he had been instructed to bring the squad to a ship anchored more than three miles away from Angelus to pick it up. When questioned, Steele revealed that the source was none other than Satori Hanzo, a powerful leader of the Kurobara-kai Yakuza and an avowed enemy of Tyger. The squad debated the issue, but when assured of safe conduct to and from the ship (and some divine encouragement from Carpenter), agreed to accompany Steele. Burton was left behind and Yiska taken in his place as Steele's boat sped off towards the rendezvous. A gunship had been called in by Hemelshot to act as a preventative measure "just in case."
Steele led the squad to a massive luxury liner named Darkthorn. On board, the squad was met by several well-dressed Japanese men and women and escorted through incredible luxury to the main deck. There, the Squad was faced by Satori Hanzo, seated behind a massive desk with a dose of Angel's Blood on it, and the mysterious woman who had warned Jama about the organlegging in the hospital back in Session 4.
Hanzo introduced the woman as Anne, and remarked that his instructions to Steele had been very specific—therefore, some discipline would be needed. Hemelshot demurred. Hanzo indicated that Tyger's destruction of the smuggling port had actually done him a favor—giving him an opportunity to consolidate his own power and take over the Takanagi-gumi. Hanzo further explained that Angel's Blood was causing problems in his organization, so he decided to move away from it as much as possible—he made it clear he understood just what the drug was capable of.
Anne explained that her employer wanted to make the police aware of just what was going on at Kurotachi—she claimed they were responsible for making the drug and were holding an Entity captive to do so—and that her employer regretted that some of its hirelings had been overzealous in the past. Anne told the squad that if Kurotachi was able to perfect Project: Century, it would be very bad for everyone—her employer was very concerned about this and wanted to bring it to the police's attention.
With the sample in hand, the group sped back to shore. Burton joined the group and modified his transdimensional scanner for longer-range capability. Burton and Hemelshot used maps of the steam tunnels to get next to Kurotachi's subbasement level and confirmed the presence of a powerful Entity within—a stationary presence.
The rest of the squad went home—Jama took a bath and fell sound asleep, while Carpenter spoke with his family and dealt with a minor emergency. His bank account had been cleaned out! Yiska finished moving in to his new quarters, renting the house next to Hemelshot's family.
Hemelshot began planning an assault on Kurotachi and ran his discoveries by Cadbury, who approved the raid provided the 9th Squad went in alone. Backup was available, but only in the most extreme circumstances. Cadbury was clearly frustrated at the political situation—it was vital to make sure the megacorps had no reason to pool their resources against the city government and destroy everything that XSWAT had worked for. Fortunately, the presence of a captive Entity was impossible to ignore and would provide plenty of justification for the raid, including the emancipation of the bio-gestalt computer if it could be found as well.
Burton immediately began studying the drug. The doctor was able to determine that the drug gives a user superhuman strength and a near-invulnerability to pain—similar to PCP—but that possession is inevitable. Further doses only speeds up the process.
During his study, Burton received a communication on his databand—a single word. "Hurry." The text message had been sent from his own databand from a remote access tagged with a Kurotachi code. The bio-gestalt computer was communicating again! A little rattled but energized, the Doctor set out to find Hemelshot and convinced him that there was no time to waste. Hemelshot put through a priority call to the rest of the squad and had them assemble in the ready room for a briefing—an early-morning attack would be scheduled for the following day.
Hemelshot and Tyger began working on some shaped charges to blow through the subbasement ferrocrete walls to force an entry. The squad began to think of a plan to carry out the mission Hemelshot had laid out. A) Eliminate the corporation's ability to produce Angel's Blood. B) Emancipate the bio-gestalt computer if possible. C) Find the information (previously offered by Akira Ozaki) regarding the identity of whoever hired the combat cyborgs from Session 4.
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