June 13, 2019 at 10:42 pm #19700
Bobby runs into a barrier as he tries to pass under the door. After a few seconds he makes enough sense of his sensory input to determine that there is nothing physical in his way, suggesting it is some type of mana barrier.
Michela seems to finally look at Mato properly, let’s out a small ‘oh’, and then steps back. After a moment she says “I think I need to sit down” and hurries behind her receptionist’s desk. Being in her usual seat seems to settle her down some, and then she addresses her answers to AM.
“You weren’t told about Reynolds? He is Mr. Runningbird’s, well … there is no polite way to say it: Reynolds is a troll.” She leaves a moment of silence, as if expecting a reaction to that. “He does those things that trolls one uses trolls for, I suppose. Looming in an intimidating manner. Smelling oddly enough that people don’t want to linger. Being too dim to know what is going on under his no — snout. I don’t know exactly what goes on in those evening meetings, but my understanding is that not all of our clients are … the proper sort. For them, Mr Runningbird would bring out Reynolds. Mr. Runningbird rents an apartment one floor down, and Reynolds lives there. I’ve told Mr. Runningbird that I have cousins who work security who could provide him with all the protection he needs, but he wouldn’t listen. And now it is probably too late. Oh I know I shouldn’t say it, but I bet that troll did in Mr. Runningbird and ran off with something shiny.”
“As for our mornings, normally I’m here first. Not always, but generally I am when he had a late meeting. We don’t keep the office door unlocked; visitors by appointment only. I was hoping at first that he’d forgotten to lock up after his meeting, and had decided to sleep in his office because of the storm — he did do that once before, do you remember the rainstorm two, no three years ago, when Redmond’s sewer system failed so badly? But he left an ARO that time, and responded to his link. The man lives on his link, looking for items that might be for sale, looking up prospective customers. I still hope that he hired a car rather than drive in the wind, and dropped his link in the toilet, or something. Except Reynolds isn’t answering either.” She looks close to tears at the end. Still she holds herself together to offer “I have a back-up key for Reynolds’ apartment. I wasn’t going to go charging in there on my own though, just in case.”Spoiler:June 13, 2019 at 10:47 pm #19701
AM reassures the lady “Don’t worry Michela, we are professional.” without specifying exactly at what. She first takes out a buffalo skinned cantine, opens it and drinks from it. It is not much visible in the physical world, but in the astral, a watcher spirit of her design exits the canteen. It appears like a flying buffalo. AM mentally orders it to check the inside of the room, for any astral signatures or strong emotional imprints.Spoiler:
Frustrated with the watcher’s incompetence, she asks Michela ”I’ll need some help from you. Is the room locked? Do you have a key? Are there cameras around the office that I could have a look?” Of course, she could start hacking things, but she feels that Michela is in a cooperative mood and that they do not seem to be conflicting in interests.
June 13, 2019 at 11:00 pm #19704
- This reply was modified 3 months ago by Gilga.
The watcher may not be very observant, but it is able to confirm that the ward goes around the locked room, running through internal walls on three sides and an external one on the fourth, as well as the ceiling and floor.
“I only have a key for his drop box, it slides in and out of the room. The door itself, he kept all the keys.” A quick look at the door confirms three key locks, one taking a fairly normal key, one a round one, and one a sort of ‘H’ shape. Just to one side of the door is a metal panel with a handle and a key lock of its own. Michela unlocks it and demonstrates, pulling open a metal box big enough a substantial hard-back book, which she can slide through the wall to be opened on the other side.June 14, 2019 at 3:46 am #19709
Undeterred, Bobby tried to presshimself and his spell through the barrierSpoiler:
Having only one active spell, he managed to get through – barely.
Before doing anything else, he resized to his normal self and unlocked the door.
“Mato, be a dear and bring me my stuff from the washroom.”June 14, 2019 at 12:27 pm #19718
Michela sputters and stutters at the sudden appearance of Bobby from within the locked office, then blushes and looks more closely when she realizes he is undressed. She is maybe building herself up to ask a question or make a comment, but then Bobby steps back into the room to let Mato in, and in a flash Bobby is clothed.
But before he even had his sweat pants pulled on, they can’t miss noticing the man slumped back in a chair. Or the patch of blood and gore on the wall behind him. Or the old fashioned revolver clutched in his right hand.June 14, 2019 at 4:54 pm #19728
Mato frowns. First the casual racism, then Bobby unlocks the door – Mato had been looking forward to trying his hand at the locks – and now the need to fetch Bobby’s clothes. He didn’t even get to use his radar sensors to look through the walls first!
”If Reynolds is that sort, then it was very brave of you to pound on his door so diligently,” Mato solemnly tells Michela.
Mato momentarily debates letting Bobby stand around, exposing himself, but upon reflection decides that he doesn’t really want to see it either. He retrieves the clothes for Bobby.
<<Hey, AM, while I’m away, tell Michela that I lost my arms and legs to an angry troll that pulled them out of my sockets. I’d do it but you lie better than I do. Record her reaction when you tell her.>>
Then he goes to work on the gory scene.
”Alright, let’s get to work. Michela – please, it’s only a body – can you positively identify Mr. Runningbird for us? Was he right-handed?”
Once Bobby is back on the comms, Mato starts DNIing some thoughts.
<<Step one is to figure out if it was actually suicide. Whatever the answer is, step two is to make it not look like suicide.>>
<<How many rounds in that revolver? Is one round missing? Is the cylinder in the right position for the missing round?>>
<<Let’s see if he has any other obvious injuries that might suggest an involuntary end. Broken fingers, unexplained bruises, and the like.>>
<<Did he leave a note? Electronic or otherwise? Does he have his keys on him? If someone else did this, they would need to take his keys with him to lock up behind them.>>
<<Once we’re done here we can look in on Reynolds.>>
Mato gets to work, looking around to see which of his own questions he can answer himself.June 14, 2019 at 4:57 pm #19729
Bobby didn’t waste any time – as soon as his trousers were on he concentrated on the body, looking for traces of magical manipulation – either through a spell or through possession.Spoiler:June 15, 2019 at 2:32 pm #19738
AM suspects what she is about to see inside because Jhonny sort of knows, so while the others are looking at the body, she carefully observes Michella trying to gauge if the woman is surprised, horrified – or if she somehow knows what to expect. She also assense the woman for her general health and emotional state as she discovers the state of her employer. Then she mentally contacts her deck and scans the matrix for all sort of relevant icons, including silently running icons and devices that have some sensors that could have caught a glimpse of what happened.Spoiler:
Her expression is frozen when she looks at the gore, she has seen it before. She asks the secretary a few questions, unimpressed by the scene. ”Did Mr. Runningbird do anything out of the ordinary in his last day? Did he have enemies or rivals that you are aware of… what is this room for? Were you ever inside?”June 16, 2019 at 10:11 pm #19748
Bobby couldn’t see any traces of magic, but then again he didn’t see any traces of life either. The body no longer held an aura in the astral, it was just dull, dead meat. The gore on the wall had the faint glow of micro-organism at work, but nothing to show that it had once been a vital part of a living being. A quick check confirms that the corpse is cold, the blood dried. There is a good chance that magical traces would have faded by now.
When he focuses more broadly, however, he picks up a faint emotional taste to the astral. The room is generally a place of satisfaction, perhaps even smugness, but there is a sour note of annoyance. A bit like having one bit of mold in a mouthful of otherwise good food, it jumps out because it doesn’t belong.
At Mato’s coaxing, Michela steps into the room. Her expression certainly suggests that she is shaken. She takes a moment to look at the body, and confirms “That is Mr. Runningbird. Yes, he was right handed.” She looks a moment longer, then adds “And that pistol belongs on the shelf there.” She point to a display shelf to the left of a wooden desk. It is one of seven display shelves around the room, (the others containing a flint hatchet, a crossbow, a cavalry saber, a ‘tommy-gun’ SMG, an Ares Predator I, and a fused piece of glass and sand.)
Mato’s check of the gun finds no other bullets in the cylinder or chamber. A quick inspection of the bare floor finds a spent brass casing. The gun smells faintly of gunpowder. Michela offers “It is an Italian made imitation of the Colt model 2 pistol, made for an officer in the Russian army. Single action, black powder, fired Russian .44 ammunition only. We were never able to trace the ownership after some revolution they had last century, so we can’t totally prove the provenance.” Reciting those facts seemed to calm her, but then she looks back at his body and looks close to tears again as she adds “But it shouldn’t have been loaded! And Mr. Runningbird was always careful with the weapons, he was a professional, he wouldn’t forget if he’d loaded it.”
Mato’s inspection of the body doesn’t show any obvious injuries, but it is enough to drive Michela from the room. AM follows her out to ask about anything unusual in the last day. Michela takes a few moments to pull herself together, indicating “No, yesterday seemed quite normal. I spent the day mostly working on authentication and provenance of a flintlock pistol he recently bought. He didn’t come in until near noon, dealt with some business items, then went to his workshop, downstairs, for a while. He’s working on a reproduction duelling pistol. He came back up around four, that is when he sent me home early.” She dabs at her eyes a bit, blows her nose and then continues. “But he has been a bit off lately, last few weeks I’d say. I know his cashflow was tight, he paid me on time but I know he declined to look at a small collection and the only other times that whas happened was when he knew he’d not be able to afford to buy anything knew. Usually that means he needs to sell something he’d rather keep, and it can make him a bit withdrawn. He didn’t say, but I’ve worked for him for seven years, I can tell.”
While that discussion carried on in the reception room, Mato continued looking in the office. The keys were easy to find, still hanging from the inside of the lock with the ‘H’ shaped key, apparently left there when it was locked.Spoiler:June 17, 2019 at 1:16 am #19750
”Is there anything missing back here?” Mato asks Michela. ”Anything out of place, other than the revolver?”
…and Mr. Runningbird’s brains, he stops himself from saying.
”What’s that?” Mato asks, pointing at the fused piece of glass and sand. ”Is that from Trinity? When did he get that?”
<<Trinity is down in PCC, not far from the Aztlan border. I’ve heard the mana there is something else. Does this chunk look odd on the astral?>>
<<I’m not sure financial distress scans as a motive. He still seems to have plenty of inventory.>>
”Where’s his link?” Mato looks for Runningbird’s commlink.
He turns to Michela. ”You said you have a back-up key for Reynold’s apartment? We should pay him a visit soon.”June 17, 2019 at 2:23 pm #19773
AM takes a close look at the gun, and at the man looking for anything out of the ordinary, or to the very least a comlink to hack.June 18, 2019 at 1:24 am #19791
AM casts the improve logic spell with a simple request in her mind “Iktomi, give me wisdom…” She looks at the casing and the gun, and it feels off.
Then it strikes her and she texts the team ”>>>It is a murder alright, the casing does not belong to that gun. The smell is also wrong for a black powder antique gun, some other firearm killed him, and someone went into the trouble of making it feel like suicide. I am hacking the link now, cover for me if someone is speaking to me. I am in hot simulation to increase chances of success.”
Her next attempt is to hack the comlink. AM seats on the floor and closes her eyes, visualizing the matrix all around her. She spots the comlink and begins working her way past its firewall, looking for the call history as well. An outside viewer would think that she is meditating or consulting the spirits or something similar – but AM is in fact submerged in the matrix in hot simulation. While it is not strictly necessary, the gore of the scene makes it preferable to not get distracted.Spoiler:
June 18, 2019 at 1:48 pm #19809
- This reply was modified 3 months ago by Gilga.
“No signs of coercing magic, but those could have vanished by themselves by now. From a mood point there was no depression, just annoyance. Doesn’t quite fit for a suicide.”
Bobby looked to the ground, spotted the brass casing and frowned.
“That colt model is a percussion model – i.e. no brass ammo – and besides, revolvers don’t expell casings anyhow. The bullet is likely a lead blob now without ballistics. The shot was close enough to leave powder residue over everything – both victim and perpetrator, so a wax test won’t get anybody anywhere. No scorch marks though as you’d expect from someone firing an old fashioned blackpowder weapon at close proximity.
My guess is, someone shot him, panicked, took the museum piece and intends to rely on the local law being disinterested enough to do a thorough investigation.
No idea how he locked the door. Maybe a hacker or a mage with a spirit at his disposal.
I think it’s time to contact our employer and discuss the further terms of our employment.”June 18, 2019 at 2:47 pm #19814
AM replies ”I agree.” With that she contacts Mr. Morad with the following text (cc’ing all the team). >> Johnny Hi, your contact is dead at a locked room with the museum colt model revolver in his hands, but it is clearly not the gun that killed him. We found a brass casing that does not belong there, and there is no evidence of black powder being used to fire. If the coppers that arrive are reasonable than pointing these facts should be enough doubt for a murder investigation. We did not touch anything to not contaminate the murder scene.June 18, 2019 at 3:49 pm #19816
”Well Bobby got in easily enough. If he could do it, maybe someone else could too.” He glances at the metal box that slides through the wall.
Mato looks around the mess behind Runningbird, trying to figure out if he was killed elsewhere before being dragged here. Perhaps he was shot a second time in here as part of the cover-up.
”Seems like the astral in here should smell like violence, shouldn’t it? Isn’t it odd that it’s just annoyance, and not struggle or death?”
He turns to Michela.
”Was Mr. Runningbird Awakened at all?”June 18, 2019 at 10:43 pm #19823
As Mato is looking more carefully around Runningbird’s head, he realizes that the man was an elf. It looks like he’d made an effort to cover his ears with longish hair, and crumpled up in the chair as he is his height was not immediately apparent. Mato is far from an expert, but the gore on the wall seems about the right height and area for the exit wound on the back of his head.
Answering a couple of the accumulated questions, Michela tells them “This was Mr. Runningbird’s office. I’d be in here occasionally, but not very often — he’d mostly come out to talk to me. I don’t think he was a magician, I never saw any magic, but he would take an item or a few items in there and stay there for an awfully long time, and he’d say “I’m going to sit with this, feel its vibrations, soak up its history.” I think that was just metaphorical, but he’d always lock his office door for that, so sometimes I wondered …”
AM finds the link to be surprisingly sparse. It seems to have been used for certain essential functions and not much else. There is not so much as a funny cat trid saved to it. She does find a calendar, and it has seen extensive use, but it is full of alarms without context. Sure enough there is one set for 7:45 the previous evening, but no reference to what the alarm is for. She does find a log of contact codes he had called — a quick search through the log confirms almost all were voice only connections, with the others being simple messages. With time they could probably process through the codes to find out who he had been talking to.
Jhonney answers AM’s call promptly, and sounds relieved when he replies “Good, good. The Pawns may want to talk to you, as first to actually find the body, but I’ll handle them in general. You’ve earned your payment, as I said it would be, it was quick money. Don’t think I splash around that much nuyen all the time, but this was a special circumstance.”
He let’s out small sigh, then admits “However I am going to offer you yet more money. I’ll be ruining my own reputation. It was not much of a secret that Jhonney owed me. For someone to murder him, that was … either ignorant, presumptuous, or a deliberate threat to me. I dislike all three — ignorance is acceptable in a customer, but not in assassins. I would very much like for you to track down whoever did this, and to determine what led to it, with more accuracy than KE is apt to bother with. And unless there is compelling reasons to the contrary, I’d like you to terminate the ignorance, presumption, or threat. Consult with your team, and call me back with your answer in ten minutes. I’ve a call to make to Detective Nguyen, musn’t wait on calling in a dead body and all.”June 19, 2019 at 12:55 pm #19834
Mato looks on the desk in front of Runningbird, then starts to go through the drawers. If any of them are locked, he’ll try Runningbird’s keys. If none of the keys work, then he’ll try to pick the locks.June 19, 2019 at 2:53 pm #19845
Runnningbird sure liked his mechanical locks — every drawer on the desk appeared to have a lock requiring a different key. But his entire ring of keys (and one letter opener?) was hanging from the door. A bit of trial-and-error soon had the various drawers unlocked.
It quickly became obvious that he also sure liked paper. Two drawers were full of paper hanging files, and in the shallow drawer above the leg well of the desk was a large book, bound in fake leather, that seemed to be something like a calendar app translated onto paper. Mato had seen something like it in last century flat-trids, he thought. All the writing had been done by hand in a loopy, blotchy, scrawl.
In a small boxed in enclosure on top of the desk he found what he guessed was an antique fountain pen and a bottle of ink.
Deciphering the day timer might take some time, but it wasn’t too hard to find the page for the previous day, and it did have an entry for 8pm. Which looked like a signature as far as Mato could tell — ‘B’ and then a few more characters. AM looked over his shoulder and was fairly certain that it said either ‘Bead’ or ‘Blade.’ With some time to look at Runningbird’s other writing she should be able to be more confident about which. Or possibly Michela could tell.June 19, 2019 at 3:08 pm #19846
”What is this?” Mato asks. He taps on the pages in the faux-leather book and discovers that they are not, in fact, electronic paper. ”It’s like a calendar app, but on paper. What’s this even say? I can’t read this.” He shows the entry to Michela.
If and when AM shares Jhonney’s second offer, Mato readily signals his agreement. <<I’m down for anything. We just sending a message, or are we getting wet, or are we sending a message by getting wet?>>
Privately he thinks that Jhonney’s a bit of a madman, taking it personally when someone aces a debtor. Mato has aced lots of people and surely at least some of them owed money to others, but it was never a ‘deliberate threat’ to the creditor. Did that make Mato ‘ignorant’ or ‘presumptuous’? Probably, but oh well. He’d settle it with anyone who came after him.June 19, 2019 at 3:27 pm #19850
AM texts >> Good news is that we just made some money as we completed the job. The better news is that Morad asks us to find and punish the person that did it, I’ll try to negotiate decent payment – but we actually need some lead so that I don’t over promise. He’ll call the police in a few minutes so don’t touch the body or anything.
In ideal terms, AM would want no part of a job that ends at execution. In the real world, whatever principles she had ended when she decided to buy a cyberdeck with money she did not have.
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