In Episode 21, Ma1n decides to stay with MMFEC at Fang’s behest (for now), and the team pursues a split mission: with Elsie undercover in an environment only she can decipher; and the rest of the team on a stealth run to investigate a Yakuza problem for Wuxing.
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At the end of last week’s episode, the team emerged from Elias Himura’s home after a successful run with a series of personal data files in an attempt to connect him to the Trollkiller assassination attempt of a political candidate a few weeks prior. Upon further investigation, the files reveal that Elias is a member of human-supremacist group the Humanas Polyclub and has ties all the way to Brackenhaven (the current Seattle governor). It seems this thread with the Draco Foundation is far from over, but for now, the team is free to pursue other interests.
Fang takes Ma1nfram3 out for the soycaf Fang “owed” for being the first to break the team’s attempt at stealth. (It’s terrible but heartfelt soycaf). Then, surprisingly, Fang takes Ma1n to one of her favorite spots – a tiny alley spa featuring tanks of tiny fish for a foot soak and polish. As the tiny fish tickle their feet, Fang implores Ma1nfram3 not to leave MMFEC. Ma1n, weary and genuinely fearful for the safety of herself and the group, initially resists Fang’s overtures. She warns Fang that the more attention the group attracts, the more all of their lives are at risk.
But Fang gives an impassioned speech about how important it is to her personally that Ma1n stays – and a little bit of Ma1n softens. Having lived on her own for so long, that kind of connection is a rare thing. Still, perhaps not enough in the long run, but Ma1n holds Fang’s hand and tells her she’ll try to hang on a bit longer.
Meanwhile, Mordecai pursues his first spirit binding with his Spirit of Man. Elsie heads BACK to the Himura home to slake her theft addiction; she manages to steal the Bentley she saw only to intentionally sink it into South Lake Union. Cromwell reaches out to Miss J quietly and arranges for his future retainer funds to be channeled into a charitable org to try and get kids at risk off the streets before they turn to hate.
Eventually, MMFEC receives a request for meeting with a representative from Wuxing at a downtown nightclub. There’s a problem with an information leak leading to stolen goods and Wuxing wants to plug the leak; they suspect Yakuza involvement. The team is provided with the location of an abandoned Sodo magical lodge where some of the goods have ended up. They’re also provided with a set of 5 magical totems.
As soon as the agreement is reached and Elsie disengaged from the Johnsons, a new call comes in. One Mr. Song from within Wuxing is concerned that his own daughter may be the source of the leak, and is concerned for her safety. He offers MMFEC additional money to confirm or deny this theory; if the daughter, Lei, is implicated, he asks that she not be turned in.
This leads to a split mission, where Elsie heads to University Prep to conduct espionage around Lei’s involvement. Ma1n enrolls Elsie as a student and the team drops her off for her “First day”. Once inside, Elsie quickly encounters Lei – and observes Lei’s involvement with one Yuki, a terminally cool punk girl who commands her social circles with ease and ennui. Though Elsie manages to befriend Lei, her backstory raises some eyebrows – specifically, her lack of corporate affiliation. The social organization of the school is very much corps vs. uncorps. After some failed attempts at impressing Yuki, Elsie receives a threatening note before too long undercover.
After dropping Elsie off, MMFEC heads to the Sodo magical lodge that represents their main lead. The lodge is far from abandoned, and two guards (Mario and Luigi) patrol the roof. To make matters worse, the entire building is surrounded in a magical barrier. Ma1n busies herself disabling the commlinks of the guards on the roof to prevent them calling for help. Unfortunately, this attempt at enabling stealth does little good, as Mario is felled by Fang’s katana before too long. Luigi is knocked unconscious. Once all on the roof, Cromwell descends a ladder – and manages to break stealth and invoke the wrath of more gang members inside. He takes a significant hit from one of the guards, and Ma1n (concealed up on the ladder from the roof) invokes her confusion totem to give Cromwell an upper hand against the goon. Mordecai, hearing the commotion, manages to push through the magical barrier impressively. Fang leaps down as is her wont, and the team takes down the first set of guards. There will certainly be more.
We leave Elsie still at University Prep deep undercover, and the rest of MMFEC’s consonants engaged in combat on a failed stealth run, still attempting to get to the bottom of why this magical lodge is so far from abandoned. Ma1n’s brickhouse count has gone up, but so has the body count – and that probably means more strife in the future as the team sorts through Mario’s death.