The group as it now is, Otto, Shaun, Reeva, Gabriel and Angel and two mutants from the security force, make their way to the sub-basement of the mall complex.
While they descend, they realize this is no mall, but the central financial complex and trade hub for the region and all of Calvert City. The sub-basement is found at lease five stories below ground level. Indeed the builders of this building intended the sub-basement to survive even if the building had collapsed.
The doors to the elevator open and they find themselves in a concrete hallway devoid of all markings. Small lights, behind a clear casing, are set into the wall, lighting the way. Upon close examination, the walls appear to have trace amounts of paint stuck in the tiny crevices where maybe a painted sign once was. There also appear to be small holes in the floor and walls, as if something were once bolted into them.
Further examination shows that there were bolted down corrals and docking stations for small motorized transports, along with directions painted on the walls. Somehow, something has stripped the metal and paint from the floors and walls. This leaves the assembled group to wander aimlessly down the hallway without even a map to go on.
The primary stretch leads down to a T intersection. One way leads to the Transit Authority, the other leads to the inner workings of the complex, including Control. They opt to head towards Control and begin their negotiations.
Control allows certain people inside the computer room, namely Reeva and Shaun, who are the “acting consultants” for the Coalition military. Shaun gains schematics for the system and it’s connections to the SysNet. The AI offers up information that it severed it’s connections to the outside network, because of both physical and system related threats, and it’s primary function now has become the safety and security of the complex. In fact, the executives in charge of this facility had fallen victim to Control’s defense mechanisms.
It seems that there was some sort of electronic threat, like a computer virus that caused Control to isolate itself. Also there was some sort of physical threat from the outside, and as the executives tried to flee the sub-basement through the Transit Authority, Control released a corrosive gas through the ventilation. Everything but the concrete walls and blast doors had been dissolved. All ways in and out of the sub basement had been sealed completely, with the only way to contact Control was through the terminal ports that it had guards protecting.
Reeva examines the connections in the wiring shafts below control and understands how to repair them. He comes back up and speaks with Shaun who had come to an agreement with Control. If Shaun can go outside the complex and reach a working terminal, then gather proof that the outside world and system are safe, then Control will agree to reconnect.
The problem now, is finding a working terminal in the middle of a ruined city full of scavengers.
They head back up to Angel’s ship and try to connect to the local system and find a working terminal. There are two terminals on the grid that appear to be salvageable. One is a bit of a way out and would make connecting to Control difficult, the other is much closer, which they opt for.
This terminal is right outside the Transit Authority entrance, so they land on the roof. The roof of the building has some rubble scattered on it and it appears there are scavengers living amongst it.
The scavengers are not behaving like the much bolder people on the mallplex roof, but appear rather afraid. They are hiding and looking across the way at another pile of rubble where nearly animal noises are coming from. Gabriel aims his rifle at the rubble and Reeva takes steps forward to investigate the sounds. What he finds are what appear to be people being torn apart and eaten by other people. The cannibals are gaunt and frail looking. Their skin is sickly colored and their eyes lack any signs of human thought. What Reeva has stumbled upon are plague zombies. People infected with a degenerative bio-plague, that is consuming bodily resources and sickening their brain. These people are driven by blind instinct and hunger, tearing away at anything they think is edible.
The unlucky scavengers had been set upon by these monsters and two of their number were as good as gone. Reeva draws the attention of the four monsters who rush at him, scrambling through rubble and over any obstacles.
Reeva takes a few shots and is unsuccessful as he is knocked to the ground, safely sheltered in his hermetically sealed combat armor. Gabriel makes quick work of the hungry animals with rapid fire shots. The commotion draws the attention of yet more hungry beasts, that begin to crawl out of the woodwork at the thought of a meal.
Shaun keeps his distance and hides near Gabriel who makes excellent use of his automatic rifle. Otto and Angel use Angel’s ship as cover and begin to lay down fire on the approaching threat. Not long after it had begun, it stops, there appear to be no more zombies in the area and the scavengers had fled.
Reeva goes to examine the scavengers that had been being attacked by the plague zombies and finds one torn to bits, the other busily trying to scoop his guts back into his abdomen, delirious from trauma and blood loss. A ventilation shaft opens, and a scavenger says it would be mercy to kill anyone bitten by the plague zombies. Before he can be questioned he scurries back from where he came.
Reeva raises his blaster, considers for a moment, looks the man in the eye, and kills him.
Shaun tells Reeva he’s a cold hearted bastard for looking this desperate man in the eye then gunning him down, after all, all he needed was help. Shaun laughs off the sentiment and looks over the edge of the roof at the streets. Gabriel also surveys the area noting that this is all so strangely familiar to him, as if he’s done this before.
The streets have begun to crawl with plague zombies who are looking for a way onto the roof. Many of them disappear into the Transit Authority itself. Maybe this was the physical threat Control had sensed. Disgusted at the scene before him, Shaun suggests that they make their way down to a not so distant building where he suspects the terminal may be.
They pile back into Angel’s Ship, and she pilots them across the street and hovers in place, allowing Otto, Gabriel, Reeva and Shaun to descend to the streets.
The terminal is located underneath some rubble that Shaun and Reeva must push aside before assessing the condition and functionality of the terminal. Otto and Gabriel set themselves up to ward off any approaching zombies.
In short order zombies begin to appear, but not the same as the zombies on the roof. It seems the roof zombies were younger and more recently infected, these are older, nearly skin and bones. These zombies are much more hungry and aggressive, but a bit slower to move as they have less muscle on their frame.
They come into the protected zone in waves. Gabriel takes full advantage of the terrain and has the zombies funneling at him through openings in the rubble walls. When they get through the rubble, they get gunned down. Otto is engaged in a stand still hand to hand battle. No matter how they swarm Otto they cannot gain an advantage and over power him, and no matter how many times Otto cuts away at the emaciated bodies of the zombies, they feel no pain and refuse to fall.
All the while Shaun and Reeva are moving rubble as fast as possible and then they begin their assessment. The terminal is partially operable, but has a few broken parts that Reeva easily replaces. The terminal is now operational and Shaun begins a diagnostic scan of the network.
There is evidence of a virus that had been through the network, but shows no signs of being active any longer. There is also evidence of a fire team of people that had been through the area, possibly causing these problems. There is also one dead zone in the network, there is an office on the other side of the mallplex that has no connection to the network at all. Shaun feels they should investigate that for signs of where the virus might be hiding.
The group is about to leave the area, when they see a large cybersoldier body guarding a man in a hover chair. They try to flag down the group and are met with near hostility. Gabriel calls out, “We’re leaving, and if you want a ride out of here you had better make your way here fast, or I could shoot you from here and save you the misery”
Gabriel is suspended in the air on a zipline attached to the ship and Reeva, Otto and Shaun fan out to create a safe zone for the two men to get to, as zombies again begin to swarm.
Otto is again locked in a stalemate in hand to hand combat, Reeva is snug, safe in his fully encased combat armor and Shaun, despite his best efforts, is overcome by hungry beasts.
Shaun is tacked to the ground after killing two zombies, and the beast who is set upon him is attempting to eat him. Gabriel is taking shots from the sky, covering the battlefield with fire. Reeva is mostly holding his own.
The two men eventually make their way to the safe zone, but not before Shaun has suffered several wounds to his shoulder and abdomen, some of which may now be infected. Luckily Shaun had the foresight to bring along decontamination units from Blackwatch. He makes good use of the kit and contains himself, holding his fear of infection at bay. He tells everyone that he understands that if he were infected he would have expected to be left behind or shot.
The large cybersoldier introduces himself as Tigh Rell, interzone operative for RIFU. The man with him is Charlie, an accountant from Harcourt and Loughland, the former ProVee of the area. He had contacted RIFU six weeks ago, just before this all went down, to defect to their side, citing that he had information on some underhanded plans Harcourt and Loughland had in the works.
It was now Tigh’s responsibility to get him back, but had unluckily lost his extraction team and ship in an assault some days ago. In trade for a ride, Tigh barters his medical assistance, as he is not only a soldier, but a skilled medic as well, as well as a good word in with his employers.
Shaun discovers the deadzone in the network is Charlie’s office. He had disconnected all of his data storage units and taken all of his records with him when he left. Shaun wants to see the information, because what is happening here looks similar to what is happening on Blackwatch. Charlie informs him that the information is too sensitive and might be seen as hostile to RIFU. He would prefer not to even raise a concern if there would be one at all. All this cautious talk is making Shaun nervous, may or may not be seen as hostile? Cybersoldier that is both a soldier and a trained surgeon? Angel vouches for Tigh, as he has a barcode tattoo that all interzone agents have, and he checks out.
Shaun pieces together some crazy conspiracy theories bout the interzone organizations and their “involvement” with creating a bioplague that is delivered through a ship that first explodes, then drops an infectious agent, evolves in the human body into nanotechnology, then infects the SysNet when an infected person interacts with a terminal.
Shaun is looked at like a freak, and Tigh shows concern over Shaun’s health, noting that he may be over-medicated, or under the influence of drugs.
Blackwatch Gate is still lagged and the earliest they can leave is six hours. Otto Decides that it’s time to get reconnected with his boys and takes everyone to his hangout, T.T. Bar’s Nippleopolis. Gang boys greet Otto warmly, as if he has been gone for quite some time. Otto offers hospitality to everyone but Tigh and Charlie, who are left on Angel’s ship, where she also stays, not wanting to be around the life she left behind. Everyone is taken to a tailor for custom fitted armored suits, they are given medical attention and any supplies they ask for. Shaun is itching to get back to Calvert City to connect Sentinel, but is told to relax and have a drink. As he drinks, he takes the information he has gathered about the situation down south and puts it all over the Net space so everyone will know. He hopes this will bring attention to the matter, but Reeva and Otto tell him, that this makes him a snitch, as some money begins to collect in a small account that Shaun has for his Fake ID that he used to put this story out. This reinforces the idea that he may have just sold out information, and gets worried that he’ll be looked at like a rat. Shaun drinks heavily and gets more paranoid.
Shaun awakes on the ship en route to nexus gate against his wishes. The party had agreed to give a lift to Charlie and Tigh, where they will meet with a representative of RIFU.