Bach, Toro, Mort, and Reeves all stood in the garage, contemplating the disaster that just ripped up the crime mall. Toro still shook his head at Bach, amazed he had executed two civilians for seemingly no reason. Bach was still curious how Wolfe managed to perfect hitting multiple users with a single virus and then jacking out; quite impressive.
“We need to find Wolfe. He’s the key to all of this.” Bach sounded obsessed. Mort shrugged and said “Well, there was that Canadian mercenary group. Do we think he’s in Canada?”
“I’ve got a man on the inside and he seemed to indicate he could find Wolfe, but I fear it would cost him his life. I’d rather not use him unless things are truly bad.” Reeves sounded calm, or at least as calm as his grizzled, grating voice could sound. Bach looked at him incredulously. “And just how much worse do things have to get?” As they started arguing, Toro put his fingers to his temple and shut his eyes hard.
After what looked like a possible aneurism, Toro said “I think I got it!” and everyone’s comlinks pinged with a new message from “Sensai.” It was simply a map.
“Ok, so, I was talking to my Sensai,”
“No, you were pressing your fingers against your temple.
“Shh, Bach, grownups are talking. Now, he showed me a map of the world and areas that were dampened or something, and there was a particularly large area near Ontario. So, yeah. Awesome, right? Cause I’ve got magic powers.” Everyone looked at each other and then at Bach.
Mort drove his Thunderbird into the cargo plane arranged by Reeves, Knight Errant chasing after him and blaring on the radio about some insane madman driving a “god damn fucking Thunderbird like a jackass” around Seattle. The plane ride was slow, though Toro was watching Bach and saw him grimace significantly.
“You okay Bach?”
“When am I ever, Toro?”
They touched down in Canada and got on Mort’s Thunderbird, launching out of the airport and flying over the forests. As they approached the lake where Toro had seen a particularly black area, Toro nodded and said “we just passed a magical barrier.” Caution being the better part of valor, Bach and Toro both left Mort’s tank and headed to the encampment on foot. Satellite imagery showed a small commune of some sort in the forest (a clear violation of National Forest laws) and they figured Wolfe might have a cultist fortification there.
Bach approached the commune on the main road, his gun drawn and Toro stalking among the bushes. Eventually a robed woman walked up to Bach, her arms in greeting and her face smiling.
“Welcome! Have you come to join our salvation?” Bach looked understandably confused. All other cultists attacked him previously. “Uh. No, I’ve come looking for Richard Wolfe. My name is de Victoria. He’s a friend of mine.”
“Ah, our leader is away right now, but he will be back before the reckoning. I can show you to his room, if you wish.” Bach nodded.
For the next thirty minutes, Bach wandered around the camp while Toro met with his Sensai (with no small amount of surprise). “Sensai? Why are you here?”
“Well, because you wanted me to be here. Now, I should tell you, I can’t leave without alerting everyone that I was here. Because of that barrier.” Toro scratched his head and nodded. He looked off at a piece of meteorite that seemed to emanate some magical energies, and by it was a sweat tent. He had an idea.
Bach, meanwhile, was done exploring. He wrote down a note to Wolfe and asked the cultist to send the message to Wolfe posthaste. Then he left, having gained little information but some interesting tidbits about Wolfe’s cultists. Mort seemed to indicate that a helicopter might be headed in their direction. Bach quickly headed over to where he and Toro separated. Instead of seeing Toro in the bushes, he saw Toro walking out of a tent pulling his pants up and shirtless.
“Toro… what the hell?” Toro looked over at Bach and smiled. “Hey! Find anything interesting? Cause I found—”
“I don’t want to hear about it. Mort, come pick us up.” After a few gun shots and explosions, Mort drove the Thunderbird up and picked up Bach and Toro. saying “don’t think we need to worry about that helicopter any more.” Great.
On the plane ride back, Bach revealed that the cultists were awaiting the arrival of Shamash, a god of fire from the sun. “So yeah, they’re crazy.”
“So what now?” Asked Reeves. “We need to see Freegrass.” Bach didn’t sound happy. No one was surprised.
Back in Seattle, Toro insisted on going to the orphanage to check on the kids, which Bach attempted to dissuade. Failing that, Bach went to see Freegrass almost immediately, looking about the garage pensively. Freegrass was by himself and waved Bach and Mort over. Bach took out his gun and looked at Freegrass.
“Give me your comlink, Freegrass. Now.” At first, Mort and Freegrass almost laughed and said “Oh Bach.” But he looked unusually threatening. Mort started to train his Lynx’s gun on Bach while Freegrass handed Bach his comlink.
“Don’t speak unless I tell you to Freegrass. Now, where is Ted?”
“He left. Something about a school bus. Why?”
Toro ran around the empty orphanage, screaming the names of his kids while he tried desperately to find them. Reeves’ people couldn’t find any trace of them, and all the volunteers supposed to watch the kids were missing. Toro finally stopped and called Bach.
“Bach, the kids are missing! Find them!”
“I know, Toro. I need you here immediately, we might be able to find them, but I need you here.” Toro hated that Bach always seemed to know everything, but after a few minutes of hyperventilating and screaming, Toro finally agreed to head over to the garage. He and Reeves got in their car and started to drive off when the orphanage exploded. Toro’s eyes widened and his heart sunk.
“Anyone hurt, Reeves?”
“No, thank God. Who would do this?” Reeves’ voice grated as Toro watched his life’s work fall to pieces.
“Bach, put the gun down.” Toro was trying to reason with Bach and stop him from killing their fixer. Bach would not relent.
“Freegrass, now that we’re all here, you’re going to tell us everything you know about Ted. Because Ted’s full name is Richard Theodore Wolfe. The man we’re all chasing.” Bach gripped his gun harder, his voice emotionless and dangerous.
“You sure?” Toro sounded incredulous in spite of his belief in Bach’s ability to simply know things.
“I got a picture of Wolfe and it was Ted. I’m sure.” Immediately Toro’s swords were drawn and he picked Freegrass up off the ground. “Where are the children?!”
“Toro, don’t kill him yet, he may know something.”
“Oh God, I don’t know anything! I swear, I thought his name was Ted! I mean, it is Ted. Oh Jesus, please, please stop!” After several minutes of shouting, Freegrass was let go and given to Reeves for his protection. All they got out of him was that he took Mort’s van (“He took my van? Ok, that man is going to die. Painfully.”) and he went to get a school bus.
“I’ll try and find the bus, find your van quickly Mort.” Bach sat down and jumped into the Matrix, finding the bus almost immediately due to prior knowledge. When Mort sent him an email saying “found it, let’s go,” Bach jacked out and stood up.
“Anything?” Toro was desperate.
“Sorry Toro, I couldn’t find anything. We’ll keep looking.”
Mort’s van was parked by an apartment complex that housed Ted. Mort, Bach, and Toro all drove there together in Reeves’ car and Bach’s heartbeat was higher than it should be, even considering the Long Haul. The garage was empty as Mort activated his drones, nothing in sight and no indication that a trap had been laid. Toro climbed over to Ted’s room while Bach went towards a conference room directly below Ted’s room that had been rented out for a month.
Ted’s room was a mess. Papers, pads of documents, notes, and plans covered the whole area. Toro gathered some and then messaged Bach. “Nothing up here but science-y stuff.” He heard Bach tell him to get to the room below and then heard a gun shot. Shaking his head, Toro ran to a room with a hole in it, going down to the conference room.
Bach kicked open the door with his gun still smoking and saw a room full of people lying on medical beds with computers hooked up to them. Ritual spell casting using my programs. Bastards. Then he heard beep…beep..beep. and ran to the wall, hoping the bomb wasn’t too big. The resulting explosion smashed the doors apart and Bach was hit with the door. He shook off the disorientation and dealt with the pain while he walked in, loading his gun with flechette round. Nothing appeared to be in the room, so he unplugged a computer. Gunfire flew past Bach and slammed into his flak jacket, so he dropped one of the medical beds to the ground and used the patient as a body shield.
“Toro, get down here!” Toro dropped down the hole and met with gunfire as well, dodging around the area and hiding behind a cabinet. tink… tink… Told Toro that a grenade had been launched in his area and he ran around the cabinet, soaking most of the concussive blast, but not all. Annoyed, Toro took out his swords and sliced a steel lynx to pieces, stopping the gunfire at him. Bach, meanwhile, fired two well placed armor piercing bullets into the other lynx. He smiled.
Bach’s smiled faded when a new beep started up and he saw three massive drums right in the center of the room. Bach’s eyes went wide and he grabbed a computer, running out of the room and into gunfire from the security guards from the mall.
“Toro, get the fuck out of here!” Toro, his head a little clearer, ran up the hole in the ceiling to Ted’s room as the drums burst open, flaming liquid quickly spreading across the room and spilling out into the mall. Bach ran outside the mall, firing his gun into the air and screaming at everyone to get away. It didn’t help when Mort drove up in his unmarked white van, one side soaked in blood, and Bach jumped in.
“What the hell happened to you?” Bach said, his entire right side covered in blood and a few bullet holes. Mort looked at him and smiled. “Nothing too severe. Back to the garage?”
“Absolutely not, it isn’t safe. We should go to Reeves’ church.” Toro remember his orphanage blowing to pieces and didn’t want to have to dodge that bullet twice. Back let blood drip from him as he help the computer close, hoping it might contain some important information.
I’ve got to find Wolfe…at any cost.