The 9th Squad's course was clear—they had to enter the Omega Sector and recover the Esperanza Grimorium in order to cure Elizabeth of the Angel's Blood addiction. If not, she would certainly become possessed by an Entity within three days.
The 9th Squad had no intention of going into Omega Sector unprepared, however. Each officer drew the heavy clamshell armor, and Hemelshot made sure to prepare a vest full of high-explosives as a last-ditch option in case the squad became overwhelmed. In addition, the veteran officer brought along his 12.5mm handgun and all the armor-piercing shells he could find. One special round he had made himself—the melted-down and recast remains of the 12.5mm shell that nearly killed him during the robbery at Pheonix Interactive (back in Session 4—Ed.).
The plan was simple—the squad was going to load up into a Spinner and fly at high speed towards the last known location of Van Goren's house...and hope for the best. Sometimes, the simple plans are the best, and no-one knew for sure exactly what they would be dealing with inside the incredibly dangerous Omega Sector.
Carpenter spoke to the members of the squad in the ready room, infusing them with his quiet faith that they would succeed against the odds. As the squad walked out to the spinner, they were met by the personnel of the 13th Precinct, including the cadets and commandant of the XSWAT Academy, all of whom saluted the 9th Squad solemnly. The 9th Squad returned the salute, then boarded the spinner.
The trip went about as planned—once the spinner went over the wall and entered the Omega Sector itself, the instruments and sensors all went haywire, causing the spinner to stall and descend rapidly. Hemelshot's excellent piloting skills ensured that the spinner's landing was a controlled crash rather than a wreck.
Almost at once the squad was surrounded by weirdness. Foul wolf-spider creatures skittered along enormous webs strung between buildings blocking off many streets, while mummified bodies and vehicles hung suspended within their sticky prisons. Dark shadows flitted in the corners of vision, and the angles of all the streets and buildings looked somehow subtly wrong. Sound was muffled, making for an oppressive silence broken by the squad's movements, which sounded overly loud in comparison. Many signs were blank, with only a few here and there still legible. A toy store, for instance, still spelled out its wares nearby.
At first, the squad was distracted by the eerie surroundings—cafˇ chairs moving by themselves, phones ringing with growling on the other end, and so forth, but quickly organized themselves and began to move towards Van Goren's house. Unfortunately, the trip was interrupted almost as soon as it was begun—Entity-possessed toys burst out of the storefront and attacked in a wave. The squad fought off the toy onslaught with little problem, but their nerves frayed under the assault.
The squad's path took them through the toy store and out the back, emerging into an entirely new portion of the sector—the toy store's door shut behind them and vanished. Uncertain of their exact position, the team continued to move in the general direction of their goal. On the path, the squad encountered a pile of debris—relics of a battle fought here in the Omega Sector by radicals from the Order of Enoch. The distinctive power armor had been peeled open, the cockpits gaping and empty, their sigils defaced. Tyger impulsively grabbed at one of the broken swords against the group's advice, disturbing the "gravesite," and the power armors all began to rise. Lit from within by glowing skeletal wraiths, the Enochian power armors attacked the group and attempted to peel open the Blue Steel Special. Tyger's power armor was damaged, and Burton and Yiska were grabbed and placed into the possessed power armor's pilot compartments. Covered in evil black strands of hate, Burton and Yiska struggled to remain in control and were able to influence the Enochian armor somewhat. Thanks to Tyger's battle prowess, Carpenter's holy blade, and Hemelshot's cyber-enhanced abilities (the sergeant wrestled the power armor to the ground!), the squad emerged victorious.
Now even more wary, the squad picked up a strange signal—the homing beacon for the previous 9th Squad! At this time, Yiska did a very foolish thing and opened his mind, searching for the previous 9th Squad's esper. Of course, what his mind encountered was the unfettered foulness of the Omega Sector itself, and the influx of evil was able to bend him to its will. Now under the thrall of the sector's evil, Yiska confidently led the team towards the beacon, encouraging them to "hurry, they need help!"
The team entered a cul-de-sac centered around a pile of debris next to a black, stagnant swimming pool. The beacon locator indicated that the previous 9th Squad lay underneath the debris. Alerted by this unusual place, the team began questioning the readouts and Yiska when a nasty ambush began. An XSWAT power armor piloted by a snarling corpse (cockpit ripped open like the earlier vehicles) attacked, viciously slamming Burton and Jama into the ground while an unseen sniper shot the protective Kris knife right out of Jama's hand. Meanwhile, other undead members of the previous 9th Squad made their move.
Luckily, Hemelshot had thrown a smoke grenade to block off line-of-sight and the current 9th Squad fought back. In short order, the enemy power armor had been taken out of the fight by Carpenter's sword, but Tyger's Blue Steel Special was taken out by a particularly good sniper shot from the rooftop. In the end, Burton noticed what few others had—each zombie bore a bloody badge prominently displayed, and the scientist desperately attacked this defiled talisman with a scalpel. Once the badge had been slashed open by the scalpel, the previous 9th Squad all crumbled away, leaving behind only the badges. Exhausted and wounded, the current 9th Squad stumbled to their feet and prepared to resume their journey.
At this time, the team encountered a potential ally—a wounded Class 2 Entity revealed itself but was destroyed by a woman who apparently could damage Entities by her touch alone. Carpenter's senses revealed that the woman bore evil within her, but an evil that had been mastered—she herself was not intrinsically evil. The woman was Scanner (introduced previously in one of Yiska's prophetic dreams) and she offered to assist them in dealing with Ysarille. Scanner also explained some of the unusual properties of the Omega Sector—including the fact that buildings with intact, readable signs were actually gateways that led to random locations within the sector. Otherwise, she explained, the wolfspiders had sealed off most of the normal avenues and streets.
With that, the 9th Squad approached The Hallows, the center of Omega Sector and a former high-rent district within which lay the object of their quest: Dominic Van Goren's house and the Esperanza Grimorium.