The team decides that waiting for Knight Errant isn’t a good idea, so they start working on an escape plan. There’s a fire exit at the rear, but the barrier surrounds the temple completely so that’s blocked too. However the mall cops don’t seem to be numerous enough or smart enough to have covered that any other way, so they deck to try to blow it. They know that magical barriers regenerate if not breached, so they have to throw everything at it at once. They have several HE grenades appropriated from a obvious encounter, so they gaffer tape them in a bundle at the rear barrier, and Tor pulls all the pins at once and retreats. Sure enough, there’s a very loud explosion and the barrier is left with a 2m hole in it, which they clearly exit down into a rear yard area. It’s open to the sky but there’s a chained gate at the end topped with razor wire.
As they run towards it, looking back they see the barrier drop – obviously the mall cops aren’t that dumb and are giving chase. Lightning throws a flash pack into the temple to slow them down, and blows the padlock off the chain at the gate. The delay is enough, and they escape into a fairly deserted rear car park, where they split up to reduce the chance of an effective chase and arrange to meet up again back at the motel.
They regroup without being caught and consider their next move. They know that someone must be monitoring the commlinks to have set them up like that, so Whiskey risks going back in and tries to trace any signal. He quickly discovers there is indeed an active connection, represented in the zippidy-do-da world as a faint arrangement of clouds leading in one direction. They follow it, and eventually come across a large warehouse in a run-down district which seems to be the source.
The warehouse itself is relatively normal, except that the graffiti is unusual – instead of the usual urban tags it comprises mostly rough blades of grass, flowers, sunbeams and such, as if drawn by a small child. On one side of the warehouse someone has scrawled ‘Happiness is just a smile away’. Around the building (and as Mouse soon discovers via astral, inside) are a large number (250+) of what first appear to be homeless people, slumped against walls, crouched in alleyways and some lying prone. Many of them appear to be stroking invisible small creatures, and all of them have smiles on their faces. On closer inspection, they’re actually a wide range of people from street thugs and vagrants to wage slaves and mothers, all quite disheveled and all completely unaware of the team’s existence. Some have visible ‘trodes, others don’t although they may have internal links.
Picking their way carefully through the mass of people, the team enter the warehouse in search of the source of the signal. Initially Whiskey doesn’t have any luck, so they begin to search physically too in the cavernous space filled with zombified humanity.