After their Boston misadventures, the team received a cryptic message from their Ravenlocke contact, James Hoffmann. Turns out, his tactics with his assignment from FabWorks (you know, the one that brought everyone to Delaware) were not appreciated by Kara Fogel, their CEO. When she turned down the Nortec acquisition in favor of Chimera’s competing offer, Hoffmann took the fall. And as the team found out, he took a job from Pinkerton and stole some proprietary information just to make sure the employer wouldn’t forget him anytime soon.
After converting all of his money to encrypted bearer chips, Hoffmann flew the team into Chicago, explaining his situation. He bought plane tickets, train tickets and a rental car, knowing that though the money would eventually be traced to him, Ravenlocke couldn’t touch him while he’s in O’Hare, an airport/space elevator/military base controlled by the Chicago Defense Force, and not Ravenlocke. Even so, living in the airport was not a good option, and it was only a matter of time before his location was discovered.
Opting for another option, Sister Maria called up a group of nuns working with undocumented migrants and refugees around the space elevator, and got the hookup on a boat to get them onto Lake Michigan. Only problem is that the dock is north of O’Hare, and near a Ravenlocke sector base. Dummy has a solution, and gets his buddy Crash to lend him a van…well, most of a van. What’s a carburetor doing in 2090? The group hands Hoffmann’s anonymous tickets to a few confused but desperate refugees, and spoofs their TAPs so they have a hope of getting through security. This opens a time window, and they jump in the van and head north. Unfortunately, city traffic puts a slight dent in their plan, and by the time they arrive at the wilderness sanctuary there are a couple of black cars close behind. Dummy notes attempted intrusions on his TAP, but the group is too nervous about the cars to go back now. They get to the boat and put in, and the navigational radar is almost immediately overwhelmed by the signature of a helicopter right above them. Dummy makes some solid maneuvers to keep them off the boat’s tail, but ultimately Dino’s psionic fear attack makes the helicopter beat a hasty retreat.
At this point, the team can recuperate and determine the extent of their TAP problem. The Ravenlocke team left no malware, but successfully copied the entirety of the data stores of everyone’s TAP, as well as put their weapons into ‘secure lock’ mode, which disables the magazine feeds and trigger mechanisms. Dummy gets to work getting the weapons back online, while Sister Maria calls Truehart in order to do damage control. Turns out Ravenlocke has already got in contact with him, but he’s not turning anyone over yet. Still, best to find out why they’re chasing so hard. Now out on the lake, the attention turns to Hoffmann. Apparently, the information he stole was in turn stolen by Ravenlocke from the C-7, the 7 most powerful corporations in the world. It pertains to a new religious organization, the Union for Religious Freedom, and tension within the C-7 between the American corporation Helios (and NAC and the ACC) and the LaCroix group (with the Russian, Chinese and Japanese firms on their side, as well as some Voudou practitioners). The fact that the rift evens exists is supposed to be privileged information, as the C-7 never wants to show weakness. Needless to say, this is big.
The group orders two autonomous cars to meet them at an abandoned cannery somewhere in Indiana, and they continue the journey on foot. Ravenlocke continues their electronic warfare, but this time Dummy is ready for them. Instead of wresting control of the cars back, Dummy makes it look like everything has gone according to plan, but puts the cars into safe mode so the crew can tuck and roll before reaching whatever’s at the new destination. They also hook up some thermite charges to leave a nasty surprise for Ravenlocke. Right at the end, the remote door open is detected by the Ravenlocke team, whose snipers disable the thermite charges. After checking the cars, a Ravenlocke hit squad begins to converge on the team. Through Dummy and Hayate’s quick thinking, the door on a nearby warehouse is opened, and the team goes for cover inside. Sister Maria takes a pot shot through a window, which gets one of the team shaken but doesn’t stop the breach. As the door is busted, Sister Maria unleashes a fusilade of gunfire, killing one of the soldiers. At this point, Dino’s fear attack does the trick again, and the team retreats. Knowing that they’ll regroup, Dummy breaks into a truck parked outside the warehouse, and hacks into the autonomous controls of several others, allowing the team along with two decoy trucks to make a getaway.
After driving through the night, the group stops at a rest area, looking to ditch their hot ride. Sister Maria is able to connect with a parish who can shelter them, but the church is in Detroit. Meanwhile, the only vehicles large enough to carry the team are another smei truck and a minivan which apparently has a small child inside. Sister Maria waves a bearer chip in the truck driver’s face, and secures passage to “Toronto”. Once in Detroit, the team tucks and rolls, and the driver has no idea where they’re going.
Sister Maria is in a position where she needs to call in favors, and she does so, calling the Cardinal of the Boston Archdiocese directly from the church line. After hearing about Hoffmann’s stolen data, his interest is piqued…enough so that the next morning, he lands his personal VTOL in the church parking lot. Once aboard, Sister Maria shows the copy of Hoffmann’s data to the Cardinal…and now the whole team, Hoffmann included, are going to be debriefed by senior church officials. Hoffmann, still surprised he’s actually alive, hands each team member five thousand-credit bearer chips, and tries to decide what god to pray to for the remainder of the flight…