June 7, 2019 at 5:47 pm #19581
October had so far brought nine days of heavy clouds, with the drizzle occasionally switching to a falling mist. What it hadn’t brought was any clients, unless you counted Jawsey buggering off to Everett to pay off part of his debts. Certainly the rest of the team couldn’t call that a contract, and judging by his expression it wasn’t one that Jawsey was taking any pleasure in. Meanwhile everything felt damp, even inside the house, while the attitude of the neighbours seemed as gloomy as the weather, perhaps especially around the team, but people seemed generally in a foul mood as the damp weather settled in again.
The weather finally changed late on the ninth, as the wind began to pick up. The matrix was full of weather warnings of a severe wind storm, and sure enough by dusk the wind was howling through Redmond. ‘They’ said that while Seattle had always had the occasional wind storm they never used to be this strong. Some blamed magic, some blamed the environmental destruction wrought by the corps. Old anglos blamed the Great Ghost Dance. Humanis couldn’t seem to make up its mind if it was the fault of the orcs and trolls or was sent by nature to scour them from the streets.
At the very least the growing wind chased away the persistent drizzle and much of the ambient smell of Redmond. To Bobby the wind smelled wild, blasting into the city from less settled places. A little after dark their wall was bombarded with a flurry of blows, but when Mato checked it out it just turned out to be part of someone else’s roof; it looked like the weather was continuing the slow destruction of Redmond. The howling only grew louder as the dying hours of the day slipped away. Debris strikes grew more common, and AM heard a disturbing vibration from the window in her room.
The storm blew all night, but morning dawned brighter than it had in days, and the wind seemed to finally be easing off. So far as the team could tell their house had come through the blast intact. There was still little sign of life on the streets; the wind still being strong enough to push around weaker metahumans or smaller vehicles. Downtown the wage slaves might be struggling through the weather to prove their dedication, but in Touristville there were few who had early morning business that couldn’t wait – or at least not early morning business that they wanted to be seen doing.
It seemed like it might be a pleasant, relaxing, morning. Then AM received a call from Jhonney Morad, arms dealer and rumoured former Mossad agent. <<You are part of some detective agency in Touristville now, right? You available to make some quick money?>>June 7, 2019 at 6:34 pm #19585
Mato spends the night like a sentinel. He often does this anyway, standing by a window, looking out with arms crossed. His cyberlimbs seem to free him from much of the fatigue that comes with just standing still, and he has a patient personality that suits a watchman. His sleep regulator often has him going to bed at 4am or 5am, then awake early for morning exercise. The benefits of the morning exercise are debatable – again, the cyberlimbs don’t really seem to care – but Mato seems to enjoy it.
”Old Man Fogerty thinks that the wind is a Salish conspiracy,” Mato says to nobody in particular as he watches the old man in question hobble down the road, unsteady due to the wind and his cane. ”Which is idiotic because the wind blows from west-to-east. No way the Salish are going to blow the pollution from Redmond and Puyallup onto their lands.
”Now, in my mind the Great Ghost Dance argument has more merit, even if it is the old Anglos pushing the idea. I’ve seen the Sioux Nation weather statistics pre-and-post the War. It’s analytically proven that extremes are up, not just in temperatures but in wind and precipitation too. I mean, that’s part of the reason that Nature’s Bounty built those underground hydroponic fields about 10 klicks north of Laramie: it’s built-in security, not just from competitors like Aztechnology but also from Mother Nature too.”
Maybe this is an impolitic thing to say to a bunch of Awakened coworkers, but Mato is as mundane and as fact-based as they come. And not terribly diplomatic either.
”Being underground didn’t help when Wind River Corporation absorbed them in 2065 but, hey, the facility is still operational. They’re still growing wheat, soy, fruits, and vegetables there.”
He looks over to AM when she gets the call, then looks back outside to give her some privacy. He goes back to sipping his protein shake. He has about two dozen of them left, which will hopefully get him to the end of the month. If they don’t come up with another payday before then, he’ll need to find a new source of macronutients. Skewering devil rats in the alleyway with his cyberspur is a leading option.June 8, 2019 at 1:15 am #19595
Mato’s comments about the ghost dance raise the question about how ambivalent AM is about that chapter in history. It is nontrivial to set an opinion when you are both the victim and the victor of such a cataclysm. She grew up with her mother as a SINless Anglo, but her father was a trader that dealt with these Anglos. Yet, she practiced traditionalist shamanism – the same kind of magic that triggered the dance, or at least one aspect of that connection.
”Bear was intentionally silent about the dance. Either he was not proud of that part in history or he did not want to share the knowledge with me being half Anglo. So I have no idea if GGD is to blame for the weather but Iktomi teaches us to be flexible and to adapt to change. “
When Johnny calls AM replies”Johnny! I miss your Humus already. How are things?
Yes, you are correct, impressive that you are so informed, and yes we are available. How do we proceed?”June 8, 2019 at 2:34 am #19596
Bobbv had used the time to further train his shapeshifting. Burying his nose in anatomy texts of zoology publications, he had found a few really promising animals. While the storm made it inconvenient to go out, he hung around as a sloth – saving energy, as he said, but probably more because he was bored out of his mind.
When Mato mentioned the ghost dance he just shrugged:
“Coyote had a good reason but no idea what he was really doing. Same when the first a-bombs where tested – you learn about the fallout afterwards.
There are worse ways to screw up the planet.”June 8, 2019 at 9:13 am #19601
“Of course my information is good. In this business it never pays to fall behind on who is doing what to whom, where, and with what. You may not be a big player in this city yet, but you are unique enough that I pay attention. And the word is that you have teamed up with a shifter and some other odd talents. I’m pretty sure this job needs you, but I don’t know what all it may involve, so I want to hire your whole team. Can you get everyone onto the call? Or at least everyone handy, this is likely time sensitive.”
Once they are all connected, he continues. “There is a gentleman who has either gone missing or somehow been killed inside a locked room — I’m talking old style mechanical locks. I want you to find out what happened, and make sure that it wasn’t suicide if he is dead– that is once KE gets involved they musn’t conclude that it is suicide. I only just heard of the situation, and it would be suspicious if the call to KE is delayed too long, so I’d want you to head just over immediately — the location is just your side of the boundary with Bellevue. Given the urgency, and that once KE is involved there could be entanglements for you, I’m offering 8k. If you confirm you are on board I can provide the rest of the details.”June 8, 2019 at 9:34 am #19604
Bobby shrugged and said off the mic: “Sounds easy enough. And 8k are 6.8k after taxes.”June 8, 2019 at 1:09 pm #19610
AM says ”There are four of us, the shifter you mentioned named Bobbey, Jawsey, Mato and me. The job seems to be within our ability, and I am willing to decide on the spot – but first let me understand your offer. You want us to make sure that forensics does not deduce suicide. I assume there is a large insurance claim. This is beside the point, how motivated will the KE be to get to the bottom of this? How important is the deceased?
At any case, you are offering us 32k – 8k for each teammate, and we need to leave right away. Is that true? “
AM was not certain if she interpreted it correctly, but she was not sure that they should work for 8k total when the KE might get involved. At any case, they needed to understand more about the job to increase their pay grade and to decide if they were going to do so.
June 9, 2019 at 4:38 pm #19635
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by Gilga.
Mato nods along. AM is asking the right questions. Bobby’s thinking about taxes, which is good. Always nice to work with teammates who think logically and work analytically.
Mato tries to do some preliminary thinking about the job. The Johnson didn’t want it to look like suicide… which seems to imply that it was suicide. Mato doesn’t know a lot about forensics, but he knows that the authorities can usually determine time and cause of death. They could always go “clean” the scene, which is to say to make such a hash of it that it looks like a third party was responsible for the initial self-murder, but then the trick is to avoid being identified and hunted as murderers.
It’s a curious thing: Mato is indifferent about murder but is more bothered about the notion of getting arrested for a murder he didn’t commit than for one that he did. In that sense, the job worries him more than a straight wetwork assignment.
Mato nods to the others, indicating his willingness to hear/learn more.June 10, 2019 at 6:23 pm #19645
“My apologies for not speaking more clearly. I was offering your team eight thousand nuyen — a substantial sum — to quickly go to the scene, determine if the person of interest is missing or dead, and take appropriate follow-up actions. But that was perhaps a bit open-ended, and I want to make things happen quickly, not sit around dickering.”
Despite his words he falls silent for long enough to make you wonder about lost connections, then abruptly he returns “Let me sweeten and simplify the request: Three thousand nuyen for each of you to get to the site, talk to the person who reported the situation to me, find a way to determine the missing person’s status among the living or the dead, and make sure that Redmond KE is not apt to consider it suicide. I very strongly doubt that it is suicide, but that is the easiest conclusion for lazy detectives if it is not obvious murder, and if he is dead in a room locked from the inside that is the obvious, easy, answer.” You can almost hear his grimace as he continues “If you perform satisfactorily on this portion, then I would look to hire you to find out what has actually happened, who is at fault, and make sure that they are punished, one way or another. After all, it obviously isn’t suicide.”June 11, 2019 at 1:34 am #19648
AM struggles “Where is Jawsey when negotiations happen… I am not good enough in that shit to get paid properly” Still, she somehow raised the pay from 8k to 9k – and the modest amount implies that the job is much less sinister than framing a poor SOB for murder. AM can do that for a large sum of money anything to survive another month. She responds trying to verify that she is not an epic screwup that endangers their business for insignificant amounts of money.
There is actually release in her posture as she speaks as she can never really know what Johnny means. If the rumors about Jhonny being ex-Mossad are to be believed then AM assumes that Johnny is cable of anything. Anything includes hiring them to find a monkey to seat 20 years in prison so that the family can collect life insurance. AM is cautious with him because she suspects that for Jhonny dealing in illegal arms is just a front for something darker. The ‘ex’ Mossad part makes no sense for her. Such organizations don’t just let you go and retain all their contacts and secrets.
”Well 9k is a reasonable price to investigate a little bit and to introduce unconventional possibilities to the police.”
She gives her teammates a quick look to see if they agree to the job and then continues. As long as this all lets get going.”
June 11, 2019 at 2:26 am #19651
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by Gilga.
Bobby gave AM a thumbs-up and got up to get his sandals. Locked room scenarios had lost their mystic once he had learned to turn into an insect. After that everything but airtight rooms were accessible one way or the other.June 11, 2019 at 6:37 pm #19660
“Great, then here are what you need to know. The background is that Isaac Runningbird is a dealer in antique weapons and their accessories, he has a business called Armomentos but a lot of what he does is off the books. Hence operating in Redmond. He owes me for helping him get his collection to Seattle and setting up his business. I insured his debt with a life insurance policy — you’ve probably guessed something like that — but I also have issues with either him running off from the business or somebody taking liberties with someone under my protection. His assistant Michela knows we have an arrangement, but doesn’t know the details. I give her a small retainer to let me know if anything seems off.”
“The rest of the details you should get from Michela; anything I tell you is just repeating what she told me. 2720 152nd Avenue, suite 402. Look for the door marked ‘Armomentos.’ Ping the attached comm code when you get there, tell Michela that I sent you, and she will buzz you in — she’ll be expecting you by then.”June 12, 2019 at 9:02 am #19667
AM agrees, ”Alright, we’ll go give Michela a visit.” She hang up the call, and suggests ”Be the Americar in 10 minutes.”AM grabs her jacket and applies some subtle makeup before she exits to meet the team at Michela.June 12, 2019 at 2:15 pm #19670
Bobby nodded, grabbed his backpack and went to sit in the car.June 12, 2019 at 2:28 pm #19671
Mato mirrors Bobby’s thumbs-up.
Once the call is complete, he says, ”This is right up our alley. I have scanners, you two can do the astral. I’m good with locks, even the ‘old-style mechanical locks’ he mentions. Actually, I have a ¥3,000 autopicker, so technically any of us could be good at them. Bobby can do his shrinky tricks too.
“That said, why is Johnny paying us to sleuth around when he could just bribe the KE investigator? This Armomentos address is on the Redmond side of the border. If I were him, I’d get Redmond KE on the scene, drop a few thousand into the right pockets and just be done with the matter. I guess the only concern would be that KE might be inclined to categorize it as suicide (even if it isn’t) if only to make it an easy, open-and-shut case that would look good for their statistics, but that seems like a something that a few thousand nuyen would make go away.”
Mato shrugs. If Johnny wants to spend money unwisely, that’s up to him. Maybe he has a thing for AM. Elves do that to people.
Mato gets his gear. He pulls on his armored jacket – which doesn’t show off his cyberarms as much as he’d like but, hey, it’s the middle of October now – and stuffs his B&E gear and scanners, into his pockets.
Bug Scanner, check
C-Squared (in case they have to tidy up the scene), check
Lockpick Set, check
Tag Eraser, check
Tool Kit for maglocks, check
He makes sure his glasses and contacts are working, and then does the same for his earbuds and micro-transceiver. ”Check, check, one two three.”
As for weapons, it doesn’t seem like a hostile situation, but situations can change. He pockets some throwing knives, makes sure his cybearm is loaded, and grabs his Ingram Smartgun, intending to leave it in the car. He even puts some grenades in the smuggling compartments in his legs. He doesn’t plan on using them, but if they need to stage a mess then nothing complicates a scene like high explosives!
Mato gets in the Americar, letting AM drive, and stuffs his Ingram under the seat. ”Ready.”June 12, 2019 at 2:53 pm #19673
“I guess he has something to hide that a bribe alone wouldn’t easily cover. For example, that he is the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. Solving a homicide is great for your quota, or so I hear.”
Bobby replied while resisting the urge to stick his head out of window of the moving car.June 12, 2019 at 3:32 pm #19675
”Yeah, detectives have their statistics, just like every other profession, but this is Redmond. Maybe you get some idealistic rookies, but those are usually beat cops. KE usually wants detectives to have 3-6 years experience as a regular officer before applying for detective, which usually weeds out the Pollyannas. So the Redmond detectives are usually the corrupt, or the alcoholics, or the corrupt alcoholics. Plus there are so many murders in Redmond that I can’t imagine a detective preferring an October resolution rate of 2% vs. 1% when the 1% comes with a fat payday in time for Christmas shopping.”
Mato shrugs again. Maybe he’s being cynical, but he’s an impassive cybermonster willing to shoot people in the face for money, so he’s not exactly a moral beacon. His remaining shreds of metahumanity are usually reserved for children, especially the disabled and infirm ones, none of which are currently present.June 12, 2019 at 9:47 pm #19678
The address was part of an odd area. Close enough to Bellevue to keep much of Redmond at bay (Bellevue police have a long history of finding excuses to cross the line), it still suffers the curse of being in Redmond. The building was one of a row of three similar buildings, and one rubble filled lot where a fourth might once have stood.
It looks like some serious work had been on restoring the buildings at some point, but that point was long enough ago that they’d returned to look grey and worn. The buildings were spaced well apart and back from the road and may once have featured trees or parkland around them, but now it was dirt featuring some weeds and the occasional concrete post trailing bits of plastic from its top — a failed attempt at art? Vandalized installations of some sort of functionality? Hard to tell after years of neglect.
Michela answers the comm call and does immediately buzz the team up. After climbing some worn stairs she let’s them into a much more modern and well maintained reception area featuring faux-leather couches, what appear to be living plants, and even a small water feature tinkling away in one corner. The walls are decorated with archaic weapons; presumably replicas as they are not in cases. One door off the reception area is discretely marked as a washroom, the other features several obvious locks.
Michela herself is a short woman, round of face and body, with long, brilliantly red, hair. Her face suggests that the color is the result of professional dye job as she is clearly well into middle-age. “Oh thank goodness you are here! I don’t know what to do, Mr. Runningbird isn’t answering my calls, he left his’busy’ code on the door, and I can’t even get in touch with Reynolds.” An expression of distaste flashes on her face at that latter name.
“Well, I guess you need to know the whole story. Last night Mr. Runningbird sent me home early, said that with that storm blowing up early he’d rather I got home safe. He did have an appointment booked at 8pm, but I wouldn’t normally be here then anyway, and he usually calls up Reynolds to deal with visitors for those meetings.” She appears to hold ‘those’ meetings in similar regards to Reynolds.
“And the rest is as you know, I got in this morning, and office door wasn’t locked, but I also noticed that the office still was coded busy, which is unusual in the morning, so I called Mr. Runningbird and didn’t get a response. Well, there was a few explanations that came to mind and I’m not easily given to panic, so I called up Reynolds to see if he knew what was going on, but he didn’t answer either. Then I went and knocked on Reynolds door and got no answer. I saw that Mr. Runningbirds’s car was in his spot in the garage. I was getting a bit concerned so I called again, then sent a high priority ARO to him, and still nothing. I waited ten minutes and tried all of this again, including positively pounding on Reynolds’ door, all without a response..”
“So FINALLY I called Mr. Morad, because he, well, I thought he might know what to do. He tried to get in touch with Mr. Runningbird too, also without a response, and Mr. Runningbird ALWAYS takes Mr. Morad’s calls. Confidentially, I think he owes him money. Anyway, Mr. Morad said he would send some people over as quickly as possible to find out what is really going on. I think it was probably — but no, I should let you make up your own minds without influencing you.”June 13, 2019 at 12:25 am #19681
Mato doesn’t have much of a bedside manner, which is to say that he launches straight into his questions without trying to comfort the upset woman.
”What are Mr. Runningbird’s age and metatype? Any known health conditions? Could he have suffered a health emergency?
”Who is Reynolds? What sort of meetings does Reynolds help to deal with? Is there any record of this 20:00 appointment last night?
”You knocked on Reynolds’ door. Does that mean that Reynolds has an office nearby?
”Please forgive the simplicity of the following questions, but can you outline precisely what was contrary to expectations? Do you usually get in before Mr. Runningbird in the morning? If so, is that why it was unusual for the office to be unlocked and his car to be in the garage?”
Mato glances around, his eyes scanning for sensors.
”Are there cameras that might show who came and went last night? Either here in the office or down in the garage? Even if you don’t have access to them, we can get access.” He shoots a look to AM.
”Same question for maglocks or anything else that might have registered his comings and goings. Naturally it would help to know if he left at some point but then returned, all without your notice because it was while you were away.”June 13, 2019 at 5:09 am #19684
Bobby listened with one ear to the explanation while looking around, sniffing the carpet and listening at the door. The maglock on the old door of an old building was a bit overkill. The old wood looked just warped enough to allow a bit of air to flow through.
“I’m gonna take a look inside.” Bobby nodded and went into the washroom so as not to disturb the secretary.
There was a small pop as his form vanished down to a small cockroach, as the vaccuum filled that his displaced mass had created. It took a moment to get out of the pile of clothes on the ground, then Bobby was off to crawl across the carpet and through the edge where the closed door didn’t quite meet the frame.Spoiler:
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