July 9, 2019 at 5:35 pm #20567
Cracking Reynolds link took some time, as it was a security model with a solid firewall, and Reynolds had been reasonably diligent with his security. But it was unprotected and after ten seconds or so AM was in. Finding anything useful, that took some a couple of minutes. Annoyingly the troll seemed to be a big fan of acronyms and abbreviations for nearly everything, and it took accessing several sources for UCAS military and pseudo-military abbreviations and terminology, some clever search routines, and a bit of inspired guesswork before she had pulled some useful intelligence from the files.
Reynolds had been called ‘on duty’ yesterday about 4pm, although the only planned appointment was at 8pm and they had no planned outings.
There was a reference to a check of workshop security at 7:17pm, so possibly they’d been down to Runningbird’s workshop.
The 8pm appointment was with ‘Ms. CSR’, a name abbreviation which also showed up 11 days earlier for an 8pm appointment.
On the occasion of the previous appointment was a note that AM thought translated to roughly ‘angry client’ and a reference to ‘lot 824’
Tracing down ‘lot 824’ finds records of Reynolds helping secure transport of it from Willougby’s auction house, a lower end auction house in the north end of downtown. There was shortly after a trip to ‘V’ which may be ‘the Vault’ that Michela had mentioned, and to some material secured in the workshop.
There could be more bits of info to tease out, but that is all AM gets within a few minutes.
Meanwhile Bobby’s approach seems to help. Reynolds repeats the information in a somewhat crisper manner, indicating that the client arrived just before 8pm, Reynold’s buzzed her into the building and let her into the reception area. He’d given her a quick pat down, but admitted that as she was a woman and not very dangerous seeming it was fairly basic. She’d paused just before stepping into Runningbird’s inner office turned to Reynold’s a look, and that is when he’d seemed to lose control. She put a flat glass bottle in his hand, then turned back and entered Runningbird’s office. Reynold’s then found himself drinking the flask, and holding onto it as he walked out, quietly closing the door behind himself. He exited the building and kept walking, with his awareness getting very hazy. After some time, he isn’t certain how much, he threw himself in the path of a fast moving vehicle, but seemed to regain control at the last minute and managed to somewhat reduce the impact. After that he was briefly more alert, and recognizing where he was he moved to a ‘defensible location’ where eventually you lot found him.July 10, 2019 at 12:25 am #20578
<<It’s all very bizarre>> Mato frowns.
<<If you have mind control magic, an armed troll, and someone you want dead, what do you do? You puppeteer the troll to kill the other guy, then kill himself, neh? K-E shows up, chalks it up as another metahuman murder-suicide, and boom, case closed. Nobody investigates further and everyone goes home early.>>
<<Instead, ‘Ms. CSR’ goes to the effort of poisoning the troll and getting him to throw himself in traffic, just so that she could make Runningbird shoot himself. Presumably whatever Reynolds drank was meant to make him look intoxicated when the coroner did an autopsy, which would explain why he was dancing in traffic. (AM, does the medkit give us a toxicology report of what’s in his system? Anything unusual that we could trace?)>>
<<So Ms. CSR is someone who wanted Runningbird dead, and specifically wanted it to look like suicide. So who would benefit if Runningbird offed himself instead of someone else puling the trigger on him? And let’s find out what Lot 824 was too.>>July 10, 2019 at 4:36 am #20579
>> Srange indeed, but ask him about the planned meetings, and his inspections on the lab, and when did he last see his boss alive. The meeting with miss CSR was on his link so he must know her full name, and what she looks like etc, did she call to cancel? is she the mindcontrolling mage?July 10, 2019 at 1:47 pm #20599
<<Not strange at all if the motive was to inconvenience our employer. He already suspected that someone is fragging with him – why else would he immediately have expected foulplay and instead of bribing the cops hire us to deliver his message.
But I agree: Lot 824 has likely some answers.>>
“Alright soldier, you are nearly home dry. We will take care of this Ms. CSR – as soon as you have told us everything you know about her, starting with her full name.”
<<I’ll make some discreet inquirees with my contacts about a Mindmage called CSR. AM, can you search the ‘Trix? Someone with that skill set must have made some enemies already.>>July 10, 2019 at 5:41 pm #20624
It takes a bit of back and forth with Reynolds, but you eventually establish that the client last night was a ‘Ms. Ceasar’ (Reynolds hates fussing with vowels). This past visit she was wearing an oversized raincoat when Reynolds saw her, but on the previous visit he’d had a better view. Female, ‘human sized’ (which you suspect means anything lighter than an orc and taller than a dwarf in his eyes), reasonably average build, a mass of black hair (curly? wavy? He isn’t quite sure, apparently doesn’t pay a lot of attention to hair). Tan/brown skin. Green eyes but he suspects those were contact lenses. He’s pretty clear that she was ‘adult’ but ‘not old’. Good looking? He’s not sure what humans would think, she seemed small and weak and kind of whiny to him.
On her previous visit she’d been whining that something Runningbird had was rightfully hers and never should have been sold, that it had been stored somewhere only but sold off. He thinks that had to do with something from Lot 824. She’d left angry, and Runningbird had said “Well, we’ll see if she can come up with the cash.”
Lot 824 was a weird purchase by Runningbird’s standards. The auction house lumped together a number of ‘antiquities and collectibles’ from a dead man’s estate. It had included some WWII weaponry and collectibles, as well as some leather bound books, a few ugly oil paintings, some mounted and framed odds and ends like fossil paw prints, beetles, garish old-time playing cards, and a signed receipt, and other boring non-weapon stuff like that. Not anything Reynolds would have expected Runningbird to get excited about, but when Runningbird had been inspecting it ‘he did that nostril flared thing he did sometimes when he got excited about some odd objects, or sometimes people.” The bidding was tougher than Reynolds had expected it to be, but he figured some of the books must be special to the people who cared about things like that, because the weapons were nothing that rare as far as he could see.
Runningbird had won the bidding, although he’d only been able to leave a deposit and they’d had to visit a few people and sell some items quickly to pay for the whole thing. They’d been quite security conscious when they were transporting the goods. Runningbird had moved most of the contents to the vault, but had kept a bayonet, an small oil painting, and the mounted and framed playing card in a special box he has in his workshop. They’d gone and retrieved those before the appointment yesterday evening.July 11, 2019 at 1:25 am #20629
“A playing card?” Bobby grabbed one of the burner links in the office and pulled up the image of the other tarot card they had recently seen:
“It wouldn’t happen to have been a card from the same deck as this one?”July 11, 2019 at 5:08 pm #20674
Mato nods along slowly with Bobby.
”It would make sense, especially with Runningbird buying Lot 824 even though it didn’t really fit his MO.”
He switches to DNI to confide privately out of Reynolds’ earshot.
<<You guys didn’t touch the card but when I pinched it off Chau, it started talking to me. It said Ginsburg couldn’t be trusted, that none of you could. It wanted me to run and hide so that you couldn’t take the card away from me. Maybe that’s what we have here, with the card telling Runningbird to buy Lot 824 even though he normally wouldn’t. It sounds like he didn’t even have the cash on hand for it and had to make some sales to afford it.>>
<<We sold Chau’s card to that woman at the Hilton near the airport, room 808. She was short. Same woman? She was obviously a finger-wiggler. Wanted us to drink tea, although it clearly didn’t poison Jawsey like it did Reynolds.
<<AM, how much effort would it to be to hack the guest registry of the Hilton? That might give us a lead to follow. Or, if it’s her, maybe she’s still there.>>July 11, 2019 at 5:42 pm #20679
Reynolds struggles to focus on the card. Possibly he is concussed? But eventually he answers “Maybe? Frame is kind of like I think, but the art is different. It looked older, painted maybe, a little less realistic. Woman in a green dress kneeling with swords crossed in front of her. Green, not red or black, but there was a ‘2’ on it, like a playing card. I didn’t look at it for long. I did ask what it was, but he just said ‘Trouble or opportunity.’ I guess it was trouble.”July 12, 2019 at 5:15 pm #20712
“Alright, thank you for your cooperation. Your stuff is behind the door over there, but you better lay down for a bit until your implants have healed you up somewhat.”
Bobby nodded at the troll and turned to make some calls
<<Hey Lysander, I’ve got an inquiry to make: You are the first person to call for local info. Has a Mrs. Cesar been around, asking for auctions and/or playing cards?>> Bobby send him a still from the surveillance footage.
<<We are trying to get in contact with her as we know about the card.>>
Bobby left it at that. Lysander was a merchant for info and favors – and his help wasn’t cheap, but at least Lysander would call to tell when he found something.
<<Alright,>> he sent to the team <<Time to take a look at this lot – if there is still anything there which I doubt.>>July 12, 2019 at 6:43 pm #20713
<<If we can find the lot – if it hasn’t been broken up into components and separated – then maybe we can see what is missing.>>
<<Also, if there’s WWII weaponry, I hope there’s an M1911 in the mix. Always wanted one of those. Colt, Springfield, Remington, Union Switch & Signal, I don’t care. I wouldn’t say no to a Remington Model 1903 or a Springfield Armory M1 Garand either. PING!>>July 13, 2019 at 11:36 am #20719
In response to Bobby’s inquiry AM searches about Ms. Ceaser and foul mind magic incidents. She uses the visual description as well as whatever she can pull from the security footage. Then she enters the matrix and carefully examines the Hilton’s matrix setup trying to gauge if hacking it is within her abilities or not. She avoids the troll, unless asked for help and would return his comlink after copying its contents to her own device for future reference. She’ll leave no traces on the link.
Her eyes widen when Reynolds describes the card. >> Magic cards anywhere, I doubt it can be a coincidence. Since she never saw the short lady that gave Jawsey coffee she also asks >> Which room was the drop-off? I’ll try to see who rented it.July 16, 2019 at 12:26 pm #20798
It takes AM some time in her matrix searches, because the auction house host is quite secure, but eventually she finds the information about lot 824 elsewhere on the matrix, along with speculation and commentary. Apparently there are people who are fans of auctions and discuss upcoming sales — must be nice to have that sort of time.
Reynolds’ recollections were broadly accurate, but AM finds a lot more detail. The auction house notes on the lot were careful to not claim authenticity and say only that it comes from the estate of a private collector. However the commentary she found about it on the matrix is that the mish-mash nature of the collection made a number of people more doubtful of authenticity. Matrix commentary suggests that the collection was part of the estate of the late Harvey Davidson, a Seattle area lawyer known to various art and military collectibles communities. Lots 817, and 820 – 823 from the same auction were single items also from his estate, with higher individual values. Harvey Davidson worked for the Seattle branch of the large legal firm Stark, Theissen, and Van Der Mar, and died of a stroke last March, aged 63.
The core of the lot 824 collection appeared to be Italian weaponry and art from the world war 2 period, and it looked largely authentic but without a paper trail the value is reduced. The one exception was a bayonet that is Turkish, from the world war 1 period.
The books appeared to be a mish-mash of 18th and 19th century Italian and Austrian books about nature, natural history, and art. Some of them are somewhat rare but none of them is considered of particular interest (one commentator suggested that they were selected on the basis of having large pictures rather than for any other qualities).
The artwork is considered to be mostly amateurish imitations of older paintings — mostly variations of Madonna and Child — likely done in the early 20th century. The framed receipt appears to cover the purchase of all but one of the paintings, that one possibly showing a Comedia del Arte show, although the figures are small enough that it is hard to be certain. The framed fossils and insects would appear to have been from a private Italian collection based on the hand-written descriptions on the back, but there is nothing to further identify who the original collector had been. The framed cards appear to be from various small run printings of the ‘Spanish style’ cards that were popular in southern Italy, although one was a three of acorns from a German style deck, and the two of blades looked more like it may have come from a tarot deck. The items from nature appear to be in their original frames, while the art and cards have been mounted in modern frames of a similar style.July 16, 2019 at 12:34 pm #20800
Lysander gets back to Bobby fairly quickly <<I can give you a quick and dirty data dump on Ms. Ceasar for 200, or for 500 and something juicy in return I’ll dig around in more depth for you. I’ll give you this much as a teaser: Ms. Ceasar has only been splashing that name around for a few months.>>July 16, 2019 at 12:41 pm #20801
Investigating the reputation of the Hilton in the hacker community, AM finds out that their global reservations host is reasonably secure, but certainly not unhackable. It does have some extra challenge because they always have spiders live in the host, and non-current bookings get archived with quite heavy encryption after billing is closed off. AM may be able to do it, but it would be a non-trivial job.
She also finds mention of some people finding it easier to bribe staff than to hack the host. Of course, maybe they just lacked AM’s capabilities!Spoiler:July 16, 2019 at 1:21 pm #20803
In AM’s own search for information on Ms. Ceasar, she doesn’t find a lot. She thinks she has been quite thorough, there just does not seem to be a lot on the matrix, and some of that is other’s asking about this new player on the scene. Reading between the lines and backtracking sources, it would appear that Ms. Ceasar may have been in touch with the Finnigan family of the mafia about three months ago, and a Seoulpa ring a month after that, although for what is not clear.
A couple of weeks ago the Reality Hackers posted the September reservations from “Ombre” a new dine-in-the-dark restaurant that has been trendy lately, and there is a Ms. Ceasar listed there, party of 2, on September 30th.
More recently, nine days ago she won decent money in a back-room poker game in (the grey edge of) Bellevue (AM spitballs it in the 5-20k range, based on the reputation of the table and the degree of comments; the win only got commented because other players wanted her to come play again so they had a chance to win it back). The room is known to check players for magic and to jam to prevent matrix communication.
In the realm of ‘possibly related’ there was Halloweener graffiti downtown a month ago showing a woman lying on some steps with a few knives her her back, labeled ‘Fail Ceasar.’ And back in August in the blog of Seattle Sweety, a high end call girl / gossip columnist, there was a note on August 3rd “A different sort of date yesterday, I took the client shopping. Hail! You’ll look great crossing the Rubicon darling.”
Possibly Lysander’s meta-human network would have more information?July 16, 2019 at 3:50 pm #20810
Bobby replied: <<You’ve got a deal for the 500 – provided it includes a location where we can find her>>July 17, 2019 at 5:39 pm #20832
Lysander replied <<I don’t want unhappy customers, so take the 200 nuyen package first. If you want the full thing just pay the delta.
After you read the cheap brief let me know if you want more, and then if you do come by the bar around 5pm. It should be quiet enough for me to find out what you have that is of interest to me, and I’ll give you the full brief.>>
Bobby may not have been happy with the proposal, but something now was better than nothing now. 200nY later they had the following information.
’Ms. Ceasar’ is certainly an assumed name, and a recently assumed one at that — she’s only been on the scene here for about three months and there are no rumours of her coming from elsewhere. Seems skittish about being seen for long in good light suggesting either that she has reason to worry about being recognized from somewhere, or that she is routinely disguising her appearance, but not so experienced at doing so as to be comfortable that way. However I’ve not had success on image matching her to anyone of any note, so I suspect disguise. There have been gaps when I’ve not heard much about her, which could indicate she is operating under another identity at times, but could also mean she’s bingeing Karl Kombat Mage or doing a research project.
Although she did not appear to have personal contacts in the scene when she first appeared, she did seem comfortable in the shadows and on the grey edge of legitimate society, suggesting that she’s been in the scene in the past, either here or elsewhere.
Physically she appears human, roughly 163cm tall and of somewhat athletic build, but manages to seem shorter and slighter to casual inspection. Age estimated to be mid-30s based on skin tone (can be disguised but it is harder than general appearance)
May be of Mediteranean heritage, but that could be the effects of the speculated disguise. Slightly olive skin, wavy black hair worn just about shoulder length in something like a bob-cut. At times she plays with her hair and pulls the left side over her face like she is hiding behind it. Eyes dark brown and either natural or quite good ‘ware, however she wears teched up glasses quite often which partially obscure her eyes.
In more qualitative appearance matters, I’d say she has average to slightly below average looks. She has a bit of the barrens rat look to her, not much curve, a narrow and sharp face, a sense of wariness more than of warmth. However she carries herself with substantial confidence overall, and for the most part is groomed and clothed well, although her style choices tend to be more loose and flowing than is the current fashion.
No obvious ware but I’ve not heard of her going through a high end detector. At least two people have indicated that she is mundane, but neither was especially skilled.
The people she talks to and the activities she takes part in all suggest that she is on the hussle, looking for connections and chances to score. She was not seen spending much money for the first couple of months but has been rolling a bit higher in the past few weeks, suggesting that she has had some success.
She appears to be residing in Seattle proper, but has been seen places varying from Urubia’s Funhouse in Redmond to one of the ‘better’ brothel’s in the Loveland district of Pullayup (she was attending a party being held there, not there as a customer from what I heard).
He attaches a few pics and trid stills, and a couple of short video or trideo clips of her in crowded settings.
Lysander attaches a note <<At the 500+some juicy intel, I’ll lean on contacts harder for more details. I promise it will be more interesting and revealing, but I can’t guarantee an address. She’s been around for little enough time, has been seen only so much, and may not always be operating under this identity, all of which makes a precise address harder to get. I do often work miracles, but I can’t promise them.>>Spoiler:July 17, 2019 at 6:23 pm #20837
Bobby showed the result to his colleagues:
“Looks like there’s a way to find her beyond hacking the hotel. If you are in I’ll give Lysander the go ahead for the meeting. I’ll prepare a small file on stuff I found out during my surveillance pidgeon runs as well as the stuff we found out about the tarot cards. That should secure Lysander’s continued cooperation – and might draw out Mrs. Caesar if we add a rumor about us knowing about a third card. Easier to let her find us than the other way around.”July 17, 2019 at 9:12 pm #20840
Mato marvels a bit at what ¥200 can buy you on short notice. He contemplates deputizing Bobby to buy Mato’s profile while he’s at it, just to see what’s in there. Maybe he can get Lysander’s critique of his appearance too.
”Let’s be careful about leading her to us,” Mato warns. ”Yes, easier, but a mind mage is the kind of target I’d like to have the drop on rather than vice versa. If she sticks to her MO then she’ll try to puppeteer me into skewering one or both of you. Then Bobby will try to turn me into a pigeon out of self-defense and this whole enterprise will totally derail.”
Mato, being an impassive cyber goon, is rather factual about this and doesn’t sound overly distressed about the possibility.
”Alright, so he has the Barrens-rat look. She’s been seen at Urubia’s Funhouse and we know Urubia has lots of gang connections. On that note, we have the Halloweener graffiti downtown with the ‘Fail Caesar’ tagline. It seems safe to think that she has roots in the Barrens, or is at least active here.
”Then we have the party in Loveland, couple that (hurr hurr) with Seattle Sweetie’s blog. So there’s a connection there, but I’m not sure if we can tap it (hurr hurr). Unless one of you runs in those circles.” He lifts an eyebrow.
”The loose, flowing clothes sounds like she’s playing up the Caesar angle to the point of wearing the modern day equivalents of togas. Not sure what we can do with that, other than being on the lookout for someone matching that general description.
”I wonder if she’s working for Urubia, hence her recent prosperity, which might have prompted that shopping trip with Seattle Sweetie. A daunting prospect. If she’s a mercenary, then taking her out is no big deal. But if she’s on retainer with Urubia, then wasting her could be stepping on some toes.”July 18, 2019 at 3:02 am #20845
Bobby shrugged: “Fair point. No leading bad guys to our homebase.
Her relationship to Urubia is something, Lysander will be able to tell us more about. If there’s protection involved we can just vanish her. The city is a dangerous place after all…”
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