July 18, 2019 at 1:17 pm #20860
AM emerges from her search and agrees. ”The hotel is a longshot, I may be able to hack it but even so no guarantee if the information about who rented that room would lead us anywhere. Bobby’s contact seems to be the best way to proceed. Perhaps we can tell him a bit about Nightmare’s interest in Tarot cards. A mage gang leader after these things may be a business opportunity for the man. There are also the strange cats the haloweeners seem to have around, there seems to instinctively sense the astral world without actually being dual-natured. A remarkable feat for a cat… I was wondering how common gangers could possibly have access to such exotic and creepy cats.”July 18, 2019 at 5:21 pm #20864
When you get to the bar where Lysander holds court it is clearly just warming up for the evening. There are only a few customers, a worker is stocking the fridges with drinks, the lights are turned up high, and there is a man dusting light fixtures. (Or possibly sweeping for tags.)
Once you’ve ordered drinks Lysander calls out to the dwarf stocking the fridge to keep an eye on the bar, and he leads you off to a corner table. It is a bit odd to see him in good light, but his smooth voice re-assures you that this is the man. “Your chummer here has been doing his homework, and for sure you won’t be wasting your hard earned credits. But first cross my curiosity with some shiny secrets or gleaming gossip that I don’t know. You are an investigator now, I’m sure you have the good stuff.” He leans forward eagerly, the very image of someone fascinated by what you are about to say.July 18, 2019 at 6:30 pm #20870
Bobby shrugged and began to count of on his fingers:
“The Helloweeners with their boss Nightmare are after Tarot artifacts. They tried to extort a local Yak for one.
A second card appeared in an auction a while ago and the new owner was killed the same evening – likely by Mrs. Cesar
These tarot cards have hot mojo, as they tend to creep into people’s minds and lead them on to paranoid things, like act against their friends.
It’s pretty likely that Cesar has both cards now.
In other news: The top floor of the old bread factory is occupied again. Looks like an organized pick pocket ring with lots of children. Their boss seems to be an infected.
Three mafia types talked about some guy called Guthrie having been seen back in Seattle recently. Seemed like they were keen to avoid meeting him.
That’s what I got. What do you have for us?”July 19, 2019 at 5:59 pm #20885
Lysander nods along as Bobby talks. When he’s done he seems consider for a moment, then decides “Yep, that will do. Well, that and five hundred nuyen …”
After the cred is slid over to him he smiles in anticipation, then announces “I told you that I work miracles. I mentioned that Ms. Ceasar had been seen at a party in a brothel in Loveland. Of course I know Claire, the manager of the establishment. Claire is not a fan of being called a ‘Madame’, but relevant to my news is that Claire started off life as more of a ‘Monsieur’ than a ‘Madame’, and a good quarter of her girls didn’t start that way either.”
“Takes one to know one, I guess? When I asked about Ms. Ceasar, Claire asked “The trans-woman?” I thought not at first, but Claire insisted, even when I showed pictures. Claire’s professional judgement is that she’s mostly had skin and hair work so far, along with with voice and movement training. Possibly hormones are started, but probably not far along. In other words at a prime point for passing either as male or female, with the right hair and clothes and bearing.”
“Well, with THAT information in hand I was very curious and talked to someone I know who is skilled with matrix searching, and allowing for some image manipulation and changing the search parameters, we got a match. Julian Janvier. Technically Dr. Julian Janvier — they have Ph.D. in thaumaturgy from Texas AM&M. They, well you can dig up more info easily enough with that if you want. There is a local connection though, an Uncle passed away last Winter, a lawyer with a big firm. Whole family seems to go in for serious education?”
Looking very smug he leans back and finishes up “And with name and old pictures, we found that Dr. Janvier/Ms. Ceasar have a place in ‘The Hostel’. It is a sort of anarchic commune of post-grad students in the University District. All big brains without steady employment because they haven’t sold out to the corps yet but aren’t suited to the streets. Enough of them make money enough of the time to keep the whole place afloat. They have an old three floor commercial building they’ve converted into sleeping rooms and common spaces. Their parties are good place to find some of the most experimental drugs to have been played with in labs. Unfortunately The Hostel isn’t really my scene, I’ve been to a party or two there, but the only contact I had there signed on with Ares last year.”July 20, 2019 at 1:54 am #20886
Mato stands around looking thuggish. He’s not really big enough to be imposing, but the cyberlimbs might be intimidating to a certain segment of the population. Or, to a different sort, a provocation. But, just in case somebody comes at Bobby with their bare hands, Mato will be ready. (Ready to do what is a separate question – maybe he just let them pass on by and let Bobby have his fun.)
So the mind mage is trans, which might explain some of the loose, billowing clothes. It didn’t matter much, other than to make her harder to identify if she wanted to conceal her identity. It could potentially make her more difficult to pick out in a crowded environment, like an anarchic commune.
<< A party is good cover, especially a party with experimental drugs. Of course, it can be good cover for the target too, especially if there are flashing lights and the untz untz untz music. A crowd plays both for an against us. Easier infil, but harder to positively identify the target.>>
<<We can do a stakeout, but that puts us in a public position. We can infiltrate, but then there’s a lot of background that we have to watch, either as witnesses or as collateral.>> Mato supposes that they don’t have to watch their background, but it seems prudent to do so.July 20, 2019 at 2:21 am #20889
Bobby nodded and scratched his nose, a sure sign that he was thinking hard: “Alright, thanks, that was money well spend, I think. I’ll keep you posted how that plays out.”
Forking over a quarter of his remaining cash felt somehow very painful. But you had to spend to gain – or some such drivel.
To his colleagues he send: <<Alright, seems like we have a solid lead.
Before we go on though, we have to answer the question: How do we want to proceed?
Our employer told us he wants an example made of the person who touched his investment. So do we want to capture him/her/whatever or just deliver a picture?
I’m fine with either option.
I can take care of scouting the astral side: There should be a lot of bugs around such a commune to blend in. Mato, you could go as a party boy, blend in with the students as a college footballer or whatever those white faces play these days.
AM you take care – as usual – of the matrix side. If we can identify Cesar’s commlink and get a look inside it, we might learn more about who would step up to protect them.>>July 21, 2019 at 2:20 am #20893
Mato considers the approach, wondering if he could really pass as a college student, even a post-doc. He was the right age after all, being early/mid 20s. Or did that matter? Lysander didn’t seem like the college type either yet he had gone there once or two. But, wait, he said that he knew someone there?
<<Lysander said he had a contact there. Does that mean you need to know someone to get in?>>
Mato is not convinced that his cyberlimbs are going to blend, even if he’s trying to pass as an athlete of some sort. He did have a plausible story about the the limbs being from an auto accident, which was true in a roundabout way, but Mato isn’t much of a liar.
<<I don’t need to go in heavy. I’d be fine in one of those armored sports jerseys and maybe a sap cap, but do anarchist intellectuals even like sports?>>
He struggles to think of something he could talk about with academic types. Cybertechnology? Perhaps. Maybe they’d eat up Plains Indian Sign Language. That seems right up their alley.
<<I’d ask AM to cast that spell that makes you more likable, but I don’t know if that would make me a big, glowing target on the astral. If we don’t do this right the first time then I’m the one who will be dancing in traffic next, just like Reynolds.>>
<<We do have to figure out what constitutes ‘an example’. Do I need to string her up by her intestines? Blind her? Publicly embarrass and/or traumatize her? She’s a murderer so I don’t think a strongly worded Op-Ed piece is going to have the necessary impact.>>July 21, 2019 at 2:15 pm #20896
<<If I recall correctly, our client said he wanted the guilty party punished – one way or the other. So we are pretty free on the degree of punishment.
But get real: She used mind magic to kill one guy and have another attempt suicide. That’s a person I want to see dead even if I wouldn’t get paid for it. Way to high a chance they could come back around for revenge.>>
Bobby replied.July 21, 2019 at 11:45 pm #20898
Mato nods along with the sentiment.
<<Time to get wet then.>> He ‘cracks’ his knuckles, an unpleasant metal-on-metal sound.
He feels the need to be cautious. Some of these finger-wiggler types could smell danger and/or hostility from a quarter klick away.
<<AM do you need to be remote to do your bit or can you be part of the insertion team? I’m hoping you can jam the mana so that she can’t smell us coming.>>July 23, 2019 at 4:22 pm #20920
AM replies >>I’ll come with you for magic defense.
“you are less likely to be mind-controlled into geeking me that way.” she thought to herself but had enough sense not to type it.July 25, 2019 at 10:50 pm #20983
The Hostel appeared to have taken over an old retail+commercial building. These days the ground floor seemed to be a common kitchen, laundry facilities, plus cafeteria area. Judging by the images on the matrix the cafeteria area often got converted into party space or even a venue for bands (low grade bands, judging by the names). There is an entrance area and in theory guests should wait there to be buzzed in or met, but it doesn’t look like many people worry too much about letting others in, and it doesn’t take much surveillance to see people using some side doors.
The upper two floors have been converted from offices to rooms, in various combinations of individual and group, based on some matrix research. some of the windows have a reflective coating, others are covered by blinds, curtains, or simply taped up paper. The upper levels can be researched by elevators in roughly the middle of the building, towards the back, or by staircases near either end.
The building was about 12m deep and around 40m long.July 26, 2019 at 1:01 am #20984
AM texts >> By the way, if ms. Ceaser can mind-control people into risking their life, why did she need to fake a suicide? Why not just compel the troll bodyguard to murder his employer?
AM takes out her leather canteen, drinks a bit of water and let go of her astral buffalo, mentally ordering it to take a quick look for magical defenses.July 26, 2019 at 2:00 am #20985
<<I asked the same thing earlier. Bobby thinks that the suicide was necessary to deny Jhonney his life insurance pay out in order to frag with Jhonney for some reason. Seems a bit elaborate to me, but we’re dealing with a Ph.D here.>>
Outside of The Hostel, sitting in the anonymous Americar, Mato sneers at the building at its occupants with contempt. He imagines that it’s a look of loathing and malice, although in reality it appears more like indigestion or gas. The truth is that the The Hostel is full of people who are smarter, better looking, and more socially gifted than Mato, and he resents them for it.
”I wouldn’t imagine that Monday would be a big party night, but if they’re unemployed anarchists then maybe every night is party night.”
He studies the building.
”Lots of options here. We can talk our way in. AM could tweak someone to hold the door open for us. The door locks won’t keep us out. Or Bobby just transforms into something small, goes through a crack, and opens the door from the other side. We could levitate to the roof. I could jump up to the second floor.”
He clicks his tongue a few times.
”I would say let’s go with the simplest approach. If there’s a party tonight, AM and I will go together. She can pretty me up to a passable degree and can do the talking. Bobby can infil the way he usually does. I can carry a bag with his clothes or smuggle them in my leg compartments. Or smuggle Bobby, for that matter.
“Once we’re inside, the next hurdle will be identifying the target. We still don’t have a good visual on her, do we? For the most part we’re working with Lysander’s verbal description. Ideas?”July 26, 2019 at 7:23 am #20987
“I think I’ll enter separately from you – no sense in giving away all of us if something goes wrong. Clothing is very much appreciated.
I can assense the people inside, there probably won’t be that many full mages around.”
Bobby replied.July 28, 2019 at 4:11 pm #21012
”Sure, but she’s a Ph.D. innitshe? Don’t most Ph.Ds have, like, at least three initiations? That means she might not be so easy to spot. And she might also be on the lookout for you. A hard man, Awakened, not exactly The Hostel’s demographic, probably with a halo of pixie dust from your casting… she’s a smart lady, she’ll put two and two together. Just be careful.
”Smuggling, I can fit maybe two breadboxes. So give me something that can be crumpled up, and don’t expect it to be armored. All the more reason to be careful.”
Mato considers his own options. He has… a suit and an armored jacket. He wishes for something in between, like an armored jersey, but he doesn’t have the creds for one on hand. Well, if the armored jacket doesn’t fit in at The Hostel he could always go without it. He’s semi-bulletproof, even without additional armor. But, if he survives this without ended up as some sort of puppet, he resolves to invest in some more clothing options.
”Alright, AM, I’m ready for you to make me look like a neo-a.”July 28, 2019 at 4:28 pm #21013
“T-shirt and my sweat pants should do.
And yeah, fair enough. I’ll keep my astral eyes peeled and my form small. Unless she is astral perceiving herself, she shouldn’t be able to spot me – and if she is, I can detect her too.”
Bobby repliedJuly 30, 2019 at 5:26 pm #21055
AM research suddenly pulled up a result for events at The Hostel. It appeared to have just been realeased, although it was for that evening: “The Productivity Paradox — Is command planning less efficient than ad hoc chaos? Fazela’s LAST debate at The Hostel, unless she thinks better of taking Johnny’s money and comes back to us. Braving her wit and wrath will be Matt and Zach (it takes two!). Admission 10nY or three beer, and bring a pizza to get front row seats. (No noise makers or rotten fruit please). The Hostel-Takeover Band will be playing afterward as we wish Fazela farewell, so bring your dancing shoes.”
July 31, 2019 at 2:01 pm #21067
- This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by Beta.
Mato slowly sounds out pro-duc-ti-vi-ty pa-ra-dox. He nods as if he has some insight into the matter, which – in all likelihood – he probably doesn’t. He has a good understanding about the basics of business, but economic planning and institutional policy are well outside of his area of expertise. He looks to AM, the smart one of the trio, wonder if she has any insights.
”It says ‘Johnny’s money’ here. Is that Caesar’s motivation? Did Johnny hire Fazela, which irritated Caesar to the point where she… murdered some of Johnny’s business associates in an elaborate fashion so that Runningbird couldn’t pay Johnny back, and to prevent Johnny from collecting Runningbird’s life insurance policy?” It was a complicated plan, one that was well beyond Mato’s imagination, but these Ph.Ds sat around all day thinking up convoluted situations just like this.
”Sounds like we can buy our way in. Now we just have to bend so that we don’t stick out too badly.”July 31, 2019 at 4:02 pm #21072
Bobby looked confused: “What is that shit? Is that real or some kind of coded message from Cesar to her Johnson? Looks like we have to get a move on if we want to learn what this whole charade is about.”July 31, 2019 at 5:32 pm #21078
AM digs into the history of postings from The Hostel, and this one seems fairly typical. Which is not a guarantee that they don’t carry coded messages, just that the culture of the place is strange.
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