Our next adventure began at a hotel. Or, what used to be a hotel. Only a few blocks from the Containment Zone, the building was actually in fairly solid shape. Outside, a few Native Americans, based on hair color and dress, watched as the team approached. When they parked, one approached and after a short interrogation, lead them to their contact, a man who identified himself as Longfeather.
Entering the lobby of the hotel,Longfeather thanked their guide, calling him the Kid, and asked them all to sit. He and Foxface had a moment and it was fairly clear to her that he saw through her mask, recognizing her for a Fox shifter. The job sounded odd but intriguing: a group of researchers with the University of Chicago and the Astral Space Preservation Society (ASPS) had run into a small problem that they didn’t understand. Longfeather’s “boys” weren’t really equipped to figure it all out and so he decided to hire some runners to help him out.
These researchers, looking into ways of correcting mana ebbs throughout the CZ, had hit upon something promising. But, every few weeks during their trials, a shambling horde of street people would descend on their outdoor research location. The first time it happened, the researchers defended themselves with magic and they thought it was an odd, but singular event. The second time, it was fairly clear there was a pattern. But, luckily, the researchers had–by that point–hired Longfeather and his crew for security.
It was Longfeather who noticed the pattern in the attack timing: they occurred on the full moons. Sure enough, 28 days later, another assault took place and was easily fended off by Longfeather. It was after this one that he decided to get some help tracking down the motivation, if any, for the attacks. All he had to go on was some rudimentary toxicologies performed by colleagues of the researchers at the University that showed a cocaine-like substance in their blood.
The team agreed to the job but demanded to meet with the researchers from the University. Douglas had already cross referenced astral research and the University to hit upon a likely researcher: Professor Harold J. Bartlett. Longfeather was able to confirm that this was the lead researcher and a meeting was set up for the following afternoon in a building in Northside that the University uses as an annex, considering main campus is deep inside the CZ.
The building was fairly secure but relied on the fact that the average street gang had little interest in University research and that the research performed within didn’t include drugs or chemicals that would have street value. Claudia hacked the building and gained security level access for herself and for Douglas and they used the camera systems to perform a brief reconnaissance of the interior. Foxface, in fox form, watched the outside and was able to see Bartlett, recognized from a photograph found on the Matrix, enter the building. As 3 PM approached, the team entered the building and were met by Longfeather, who had placed himself in a camera blind spot in the lobby.
He led them to the third floor office suite for the professor where they met “Aaron” Lee, a Chinese grad student, as well as Drs. Bartlett, Quinn, and Kaufman representing the team from the University. The doctors explained more about their research. In short: they had developed a method by which ambient mana resources could be siphoned from an area of higher mana concentration to an area of lower in a process similar to diffusion. This processed could be directed in such a way to “drain” a specific domain and move its resources to a specific ebb.
The researchers were aware of the potential for this to be used as a way to reduce the potency of a domain, but they did not believe that this was what motivated the strange assaults. In fact: care had been taken to identify a mana ebb that returned to its original magnitude after Cleansings and domains were selected such that they were not Aspected toward any specific tradition to avoid angering any one.
The next step of the investigation was to visit the place where the research was performed. Astral investigation revealed a background count of -2 in the area so the various magical types decided to avoid entering the ebb. Claudia was able to hack a motion sensor on a nearby rail line using her Skinlink echo to confirm a weekly schedule of research events and a great deal of motion on the nights of the full moons. The team determined areas in which they could support Longfeather during the expected assault encountering a crazy hobo who was able to give them the direction from which the horde approaches: the north.
Also, having found the location of the site, the team also tapped some contacts, specifically Paul’s friends in the CPD to learn more about major players in the area. The two gangs identified, the Crows and the Lords, seem to contest the area to some degree. Either one could be the source for the cocaine-like drug the hordes have been on during the attacks, but before researching more about the gangs, the team prepared to watch a research trial and help deal with the expected assault….