Number of the Beast

Session 2

In Brooklyn, Ms. Lance and Mr. Rookwood sit in Rookwood’s car watching Silvio Fontanelli load cleaning tools into a van. Ms. Lance uses Muse to make Silvio obsessed about what he had been asked to do, while Mr. Rookwood manifests the bronze eyes of his true form to read Silvio’s mind. He receives flashes: a big, bald man sliding an envelope across the table to Silvio in a bar; Silvio going through an Employees Only door and pulling down a knife switch; masked gunmen moving through dark tunnels. Lance and Rookwood argue about whether to stop Silvio and take his place, but don’t reach a conclusion before Silvio drove off.

At Madison Square Garden, Winchester’s checking to see if dogs are allowed in (they’re not) and Warner is scanning the frequencies for mention of certain dangerous keyphrases. He finds someone telling their friend how they were queueing next to some corporate party with a surprisingly well-armed security team. He also spots telltale signs around the building – too many cooling vents and odd patterns in the brickwork. Together these point towards Madison Square Garden being Concealment Infrastructure, moving heat and attention away from something underneath it. As the crowd are let into the Garden in preparation for the bullriding, Winchester goes up to the upper level where the corporate party is heading, Warner sits in the stands, Lance sneaks into the underground carpark following the cleaning van and Rookwood parks the car and heads into another box on the upper level.

As the bullriding starts, Winchester cases the box with the corporate party in. There’s armed guards looking like a security detail, and three young executives inside. By listening in on radio chatter, Warner identifies them as members of Utopia Now, a libertarian techno-utopian startup. Meanwhile, down in the basement, Lance follows Fontanelli as he heads towards the Employees Only section. With a surreptitious glance, Silvio pushes through the door and into a narrow corridor flanked by massive, thunderous gears that the janitor takes no notice of. Silvio’s about to throw a knife-switch attached to a silver spine when Ms Lance takes him down with a Knockout Punch. Upstairs in the arena, Mr. Winchester uses Read Hostility to track any hostile intent towards the corporate VIP in the booth (who Mr. Rookwood identifies as William Horn, genius entrepreneur) and picks up a seemingly innocuous member of the audience. While this punter doesn’t seem suspicious, by tracking him Winchester spots the green-haired cop poking his head up into the stands then heading back down. Rookwood, having set up someone in his booth for Identity Theft, heads back downstairs after the cop.

As the crowd roars at a particularly impressive bull-riding feat Winchester sees one of the guards head into the box while pulling a balaclava over his head. Mr. Warner sees that the two junior execs seem to be asleep while everyone else in the box is black-masked and has drawn guns. Mr. Winchester takes advantage of the distraction to quietly shoot down the remaining guard outside, knock him out and get into position outside the door.

Downstairs in the service corridors Ms. Lance is searching the janitor when she hears a shout of “Police!” outside. She quickly pulls down her cap and makes sure she has her back to the door. The cop enters, closing the door behind him, and asks her what happened. She dissembles, claiming she heard a noise and investigated, and when he asks for ID she uses Ellipses to make him engrossed in the act of reading the plastic card she passes him and then slips out. In the corridor, she hears footsteps approaching and a voice calling “Lee? You there?” Quickly activating her optic camouflage she clings to the wall and lets another detective pass her, decloaking and delivering another Knockout Punch to the back of her head. Like the janitor, she will only wake when a first responder arrives. Searching the detective, she finds another badge as well as circuit-like scars running up her arms. She also sees a man, elderly and Texan, running up to the detective and delivers the same treatment to him – unfortunately not knowing precisely who Rookwood had chosen to use his Identity Theft on. Realising her mistake and knowing that he won’t wake up until a first responder arrives, she instead drags him away from the main corridor.

Upstairs, Winchester decides it’s time to get things rolling. His arm swivels and unfolds into a bulky cannon that immediately launches a concussive she’ll into the box, blowing out the glass and sending the occupants into disarray. As people scream in the crowd down below Winchester starts firing at the security team.

As the firefight rages above Warner feels a pulse of data going out from the box – a message in machine code spelling out what looks like an extraction protocol. Winchester takes down the main guard and is Just Bruised by their return fire, but one of the goons rushes him to give Horn and the other goon a chance to escape. That one is soon dealt with, but Warner knows from the gathering security guards that Winchester is running out of time. The security forces are distracted, however, when rusted metal arms smash out of the brickwork and start pushing the Utopia Now box into the wall through previously-hidden passages. Winchester takes advantage of the distraction to shoot out the kneecaps of Horn and his guard, and then drag Horn out of sight into one of the other boxes.

A brief interrogation follows, where Horn spits defiance at the Machine and its agents and reveals this was all set up to try and get some answers about what was going on in Penn Station. Realising he’s done here, Winchester binds Horn’s wounds and sneaks out of the Garden. Warner evacuates too.

As she’s dragging Rookwood away Ms. Lance hears a gunshot behind her and realises the number may be in mortal peril. Thankfully she spots a first responder and gets them to bring Rookwood round. Rookwood claims medical credentials and guides the medics to the employees only door, opening it to show the green-haired cop searching Silvio’s body, lying in a puddle of blood. The medics quickly stabilise Silvio while the cop orders them to deliver the janitor into police custody once he’s done. Still, Silvio’s life is saved.

The ring meet outside the garden. Fontanelli, Horn, and Horn’s security team are being loaded into separate ambulances. A strange square hole the size of one of the boxes has appeared in the side of the Garden. People mill about, confused, but the Ring disappears into the crowd, their first number resolved.

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