Malaclypse heals up Malachi. The technomancer hacks Large Labs A and B, editing their files and replacing their findings on “technomancy curing” and biodrone technomancy with gobbledygook. The spider, Marco Jimenez, runs an antenna up through the ceiling; Lucy shoots him with his own rail-drones but it’s too late. He says the Leopard Guard is on the way and claims the team has about five minutes. Lucy orders him to the locker room, surrounded by the rail-drones. The guns are pointed away from him; the other employees perceive him as walking to the locker room imperiously. The team stuffs him into a locker. Malachi triggers alarms, sending employees to safe areas. He hops into a node of one of the elevator area rail-drones, gunning down the guard inside. As with all attacks so far, this is nonlethal. Lucy wants to have the hyena warforms fight for the team.
Belletrix looks like the spider; Malachi makes Tommy Jones’s ‘link broadcast as such. Lucy sends a drone through the floor. Malaclypse breaks through the astral ward. Belle picks a lock and finds an anesthetized hyena. Malachi hacks the AR painting of The Birth of Venus so that its subject has an enormous rack. Belle jacks into the room’s computer, letting Lucy go through her datajack. Lucy finds the hyena’s cyberware. Malachi enters the basement office of Maximo Gomez, Dr. Maria “Villalobos’s” managerial aide. Belle leaves the hyena’s operating room, while Lucy asks Mal-0 to make a door illusion. Malachi stands by to Hardware the door closed. Lucy, using Malacih’s crack Sprite, hacks the hyena.
As the spider Marco Jimenez, Belle approaches Maximo, saying that “he” is there to take Maria to safety. Maximo says Maria is either upstairs in her lab or office, or in the sub-basement. Malachi and Lucy provide Spanish translation.
Malaclypse drops his illusion and Influences Maximo to go to the sub-basement.
Malachi wants to split up. He goes to the lab.
As Gomez nears the stairwell (mysteriously hidden behind non-magical illusions of floor and wall), Lucy and Malaclypse spot a man sneaking upstairs. The team AI recognizes this as Colin McNeil, the Tamanous man she encountered in Denver; she promptly captures the organlegger. Colin claims he’s providing needs, and that he’s here to buy. Meanwhile, Belletrix finds the freezer, which contains the organs and limbs of metahuman children. Lucy says she’s handing Colin over to the team’s judgment. They lock him in Gomez’s office while Maximo goes to the sub-basement. As he opens the door, Mal-0 stuns him.
Malaclypse senses the presence of a humanoid across the sub-basement, adjacent to a strange astral signature the likes of which he has never seen. As with the basement, there are no significant wireless nodes here; everything is wired. Belletrix/Marco goes in first, finding a containment area, with cells filled with rabid hyena warforms. There is also an office – through its transparent wall she can see the scientist Felipe de las Casas, the other project manager. Dr De las Casas demands who he is. Even when Belle says she’s the spider, Felipe doesn’t like it. Malaclypse pre-emptively stunballs him for 8. Lucy enters the room’s ventilation with a Dragonfly; the Cyborg inside tries to hack it (it apparently is a technomancer brain inside an android body). Malachi tries to hack the Cyborg; Cyborg returns the favor, confirming its TM nature. Mal’s sprite throws out an electron storm.
Malachi, through Belle’s datajack, accesses sub-basement computer. They delete the animal research data; Belletrix backs it up. Malaclypse mind-probes Gomez.
Malachi deletes the skillsofts related to the Cyborg’s wrist-blades. A Dragonfly flies upstairs, while another escorts Colin up to the basement. Malaclypse Influences all six hyenas to view Lucy’s hyena as the alpha male.
Lucy wants to take the Cyborg along, but Malachi has reservations about her using it as a drone and drags it instead. Lucy, Colin, and the hyenas take the stairs; Mal-0, Belle, and Malachi take the elevator along with Felipe and the Cyborg. Two Leopard Guards and a mage greet them as the door opens. Colin is impaled by an obsidian-tipped spear. Lucy-hyena runs past the LGs and deploys Dragonflys into the vents. Malachi hacks the ‘link of an LG on the stairs. The LGs, both at the elevator and the stairwell, toss down gas grenades.
Lucy-Dragonfly brings Santagar out of the lab, telling her that she’s in danger from Aztechnology. Mal-0 blasts a stunball; Belle takes down one of the LGs. In return, the other hits her with his macahuitl, very nearly killing her. After his defeat the mage turns tail and casts Physical Barrier; Malachi guns him down with the rail-drones. Malachi edits Belle’s holo-armor to disguise him as the mage.
Malachi sends word to LGs with an LG link to reinforce the front door. The stair guards, separated by the wireless dampening, are directed to the sub-basement elevator. Malaclypse makes Maria invisible as she escapes through the back door with Lucy’s drones, and creates an illusion of a poorly-hidden ’runner team as a distraction. Malachi grabs Colin’s commlink, braving a trip downstairs.
Lucy-Dragonfly escorts the invisible Maria across the roof, going past an assault-rifle-toting Leopard Guard. Maria declares that she “wondered when Renraku would finally get here,” and tells them of her cranial bomb. In the parking lot, Malachi hacks Colin’s van. Lucy’s Dragonfly returns within, retrieving her hyena and the other ‘flies. The hyenas are free! She hacks the four hyenas in the pen, having them go through the facility out the back door. She says she’ll meet the team back at “base” (the hotel.) Mal-0 Influences the van’s driver to sneak inside through the back door and do a striptease – he is immediately shot by the Leopard Guard. Lucy puts the hyenas in the van. The team convinces Lucy not to crash the Stormcloud at the neighboring Renraku facility into PARC. Belletrix makes out with Maria in the back of the van as they make their getaway.
With Malaclypse Levitating them, the van flies to the hotel balcony back in Touristville, where the crew disembarks. It parks on the street. Lucy hacks a taxi, sending Tommy on a death ride with a poison-packing Dragonfly. Belletrix arranges for Big D to plant drugs on the corpse. Lucy and Malachi (jumped into Mansford and Cervantes) pick the next-door hotel room’s lock to talk to the spider Marco Jimenez; Belle points her directional mic at the wall. Malachi says that Maria framed the spider for her extraction. Felipe accepts Lucy’s offer to be Vicenzo Costello’s new spider (the Mafia club owner back in Denver). Belletrix interrogates Maria; Lucy and Malachi interrogate Felipe. Malachi puts a commlink on Felipe and hacks it with Black Hammer, giving him intense guilt and trapping him in VR. With Maria’s ‘link, Belle jumps into VR. Mal-0 mind-probes Felipe. Felipe admits that he took child technomancer brains and put them into cyborg bodies, selling the bodies to Tamanous. The abomination in the office with him was the only one that survived. Belle asks Maria what she’s been up to. She says she’s been stalling by working on animals; thought she was being taken to the Japanese Embassy. Belle isn’t sure whether Maria knows which Japanacorp she was being extracted by. The team decides to remove her cranial bomb – Lucy summons her Evo Orderly to act as Malaclypse’s operating assistant; the surgery takes him a scant hour to perform.
A quick chat with Baraka reveals that he has doubts that Tanaka-San works for Shiawase, saying that it’s probably either Renraku or the Yakuza who are his true masters. Belletrix calls Tanaka-san, telling him of a random node that Malachi has secured. During the conversation, Tanaka-san offers the Japanese Embassy in Seattle City as a safe haven, and orders them to bring Maria as soon as they can. Lucy, using Malachi’s sprites, traces the Johnson to a Downtown penthouse apartment in a complex owned by the Draco Foundation.
Malachi expresses his wish not to hack anything owned by Draco, for fear of retribution. He also refuses to bring Santagar to Renraku, despite any other factors, preferring to auction her off to other AAA corps. Belle and Lucy are in favor of delivering Santagar and fulfilling their contract, unless Renraku is demonstrably going to use her in a monstrous way. It appears as though the team has a second round of legwork to perform before their job is done.