- Berkeley, karaoke gynoid (Michael Kennedy)
- Manny, scientist (JOZO)
- Rob Nixon, teamster (CWBunny)
The crew wake up to the sound of gunshots in the street beyond their cheap hotel. Fearing the worst, the crew creeps to the window and peers outside to get a glimpse of the balcony.
The heavyworlder Manny spoke to at Amarpreet's the night before is there, and in no-nonsense fashion tells the scientist off for blabbing about his alliance with FRIEND so openly. But, it seems that Manny has a stroke of luck in his drunkenness and managed to find a friend of FRIEND.
The heavyworlder offers to take care of Hank (who is still unconscious and trapped in bee-themed drug dreams), as Berkeley and Manny creep out of the motel and into the street.
In the morning light they are able to clearly see the graffiti on the façade opposite their roach motel: "LANTERN BOY LIVES". Lamplighters this far east is definitely a new development.
In the alleyway across the street, they find a pair of legs sticking out of a trash can. These legs are attached to a man in filthy robes with a cheap Rottweiler mask on his head and a sword on his belt - a Dog Knight. There is a short exchange that lasts only until the Dog Knight hears the battle sounds from down the road, after which he excitedly clambers up the wall and begins running across the rooftops, eager to kill some space fascists.
The pair are finally able to get a line through to FRIEND, who is uncharacteristically agitated and antsy-sounding. He tells them to head to the junkyard (thankfully in the opposite direction of most of the fighting), and to pick up a ride there. The pair hoof it, and in doing so stumble across Rob Nixon, a dockworker looking to join the riots, smash some heads, and make off with some loot scrap.
The junkyard is close when the air is broken by the unmistakable BOOM of an artillery cannon going off behind them, and close. At a dead sprint they run through the gate, catching a glimpse of the junkyard owner barricaded in the main office, loading his shotgun. They find a groundcar with a smiley-face sticker on the windshield, keys already in the ignition. Rob floors the gas and they tear out into the street, wheels screaming.
The only proper way out of town and back onto the highway is via the main thoroughfare, which is right where the fighting was and is.
And there's a fucking tank there sitting right in the intersection, bedecked in Front colors. The rioters are in disarray, covering their retreat with molotovs and homemade tear gas grenades as the riot-suited Fronters open up with machine guns. There's a flash-impression image of the rooster-and-cat insignia of the Interstellar Sex Worker's Union.
The luckiest thing in the world happens, then: Rob guns the engine, pulping two Front stormtroopers. Berkeley rolls down the window and fires her rigging gun at a building. By some absolute miracle, the cable holds AND the tank misses with its main cannon, and the absolute madmen make a perfect quarter-circle turn. As they tear out of town towards the highway, they toss the shattered remains of the rigging gun out of the window and glance back to see the tiny form of the Dog Knight approaching the tank all on his lonesome.
With all that excitement out of the way, the group heads back to the radio tower pull-off, and continues along the northwards road they saw in Session 2.
Of this part there's nothing really of note, except when they passed by an automated refueling station - they drove on by without stopping, but while watching out the window Manny locked eyes with a short, stocky Afro-Sino woman with a buzz cut and a white badgerstripe, standing next to a fancy groundcar.
They go a short distance further down the road before deciding to turn around and investigate. The station is empty when they return - all that's left of Ms. Badgerstripe and her car is a cluster of a couple hours worth of cigarette butts where she had been standing. The crew return to the road and head towards the weather monitoring station.
They pull off near the base of the hill, where the road ends. The truck tires from the radio station are clear in the dirt, heading up the path to the station. A quick bio and thermal scan reveals nothing out of the ordinary besides a pair of human corpses - soldiers of the Legio Africanus. Their gear is intact and undamaged, and there are no wounds present save a tiny pinprick on each neck. Berkeley is able to identify it as the end result of a needle gun, most likely poisoned.
Their armor and SMGs are stripped and repossessed.
Through all of the ascent, the crew notes that they don't seem to have been noticed by the androids. Berkeley, the group's social cover, tries pinging them but gets nothing but a flurry of "I'm busy" notices.
Through the station's main entrance, they step into the Church of Skin.
Homemade pews form a hemicircle around a pulpit made from the receptionist's desk. Out-of-the-box manniquindroids pose in their own bloody stations of the cross, draped intapestries of human hide. AR tags scroll through prayers and stories of their mythos.
Berkeley takes it worse than the others and freezes up, her eyes going traditional bluescreen. Manny attempts the therapy-hack, but is too shaken up to succeed.
And then, noise. Guns go up, and a tiny, child-sized person in an environment suit -a tecnavi- emerges from behind the choir pews, hands up.
They aren't saying anything discernable, but clearly don't want any trouble. They sidle over to the door and back out. With some effort, they manage to say "I leave, you also" before making their way out of sight down the hill.
There's still no sign of the androids, but everyone feels a thrumming, humming, pulse emanating from the garage. It feels as if space is contracting and expanding, as if breathing. Manny is the one to brave the door.
The androids are there, and what's left of the humans, piled up in a tantric knot on the back of a cargo-hauler truck. Metal and meat and knitted together with zealous enthusiasm, throbbing in pain as it draws on the inadequate power supply of the station.
But Manny manages to resist panicking. With deadly clarity, he warns away Berkeley and Rob, grabs some cans of gasoline, and sets the entire place ablaze. The crew leaves immediately - they are able to find the tecnavi's tracks for a while, but not the tecnavi.
It's a long, quiet ride back to Colony Central.
As they drive through downtown, they see a short, stocky woman with a white badgerstripe, smoking a cigarette.