November 26, 2019 at 6:19 pm #22686
November 6, 2078, Touristville, Redmond
What began as a cold and drizzly fall has by now turned into a constant change between door rattling storms and freezing rain turning streets and pavements into adventure slides. There is barely a moment that there isn’t the sound of a Doc Waggon emergency drone to be heard somewhere in the distance.
Old people no longer dare to go out – or risk getting blown or falling into traffic. The weather has one good side though: Gang activities are barely noticeable. Not even drugged up adrenaline junkies want to risk their hogs in weather like this.
Unfortuantely, this also doesn’t increase the number of walk in clientel and the little business you make, forces you to spend a lot of time in the cold, waiting for philandering husbands to pay their mistress a visit, so you can get a nice trid of them for the divorce proceedings.
The call reached AM in the late afternoon – the storm outside made the hot cup of almost-not-unlike-tea quite appealing and helped somewhat to comfort cold aching joints and stiff limbs. Caller ID showed the name Janet Dime and displayed the helpful picture of a woman in her mid thirties. A well preserved beauty, that owed its existence to a healthy dose of daily exercise, certain facial injections as well as having enough money not to go prematurely grey.
The message started with the rather typical flowery small talk, that made dealing with the rich socialites of Seattle and those who want to pretend to be such a trying experience. After about four minutes Janet managed to get to the point:
<<…anyway darling, the reason I’m calling. I heard you are now working for a private detective. I have a somewhat confusing situation here and there is an important vernisage coming up. Would you mind dropping by with your colleagues in the gallery to have a look? If you could manage this evening, that would be splendid. Ciao.>>November 27, 2019 at 1:05 am #22690
AM spends these weeks studying mainly, researching, and trying to modify a specific spell formula to get her spell just right. She studied two new spells that made exiting to the cold less often. These allowed her to project some of her senses to a distance, which made surveillance more bearable.
When the TJ comes to collect the debt, AM hands him the credstick in a grim face. Almost anything she managed to save, along with rent and some necessities, AM is completely broke again. TJ buys her a hot soy cafe and says something like, “Hey babe, at least I don’t have to hit you.” but AM’s mind is already seven steps ahead, as she begins to realize that she may have been overly optimistic as to exactly how much money she can make “if they only buy her a deck”.
“So this is how ones lose her freedom,” she thinks and wonders just how long will she keep floating, and if she is going to pull a rabbit out of her hut. “Your life is so simple, TJ… You have no idea the shit I had to do to make interest. ” TJ agrees, “You have more balls than most people coming to Don Finnigan like that and asking for that outrageous amount. ” AM takes another sip from her coffee and says, “More balls than is healthy for me.” and TJ grins. “Probably so, but before you get broken… can you fix my hair? I have a date.” AM sighs “Anyone pretty? ” Just someone from the App. She casts the makeover spell and turn his hair into blonde spikes, and cleans his fingernails just as TJ likes it. The man is predictable and stable. It made him good at his job.
AM drops her book to the table when Janet calls; she instantly knows that Janet needs something – someone like her does not merely remember someone like AM. They are not friends, but she enjoys the Smalltalk nevertheless. “She may have a spare ticket for me… I am a cynical person for assuming a favor,” she thinks, but then when Janet mentions her detective work AM realizes that she was right all along – the woman does need something.
“Sure hon, we’ll be there this evening.” She says, and exits the lodge in a victorious loud voice she declares, “Heads up guys… We are going to the art museum tonight.” It is strange not to have Bobby in the office; AM has to admit that despite herself, AM is quite fond of the badass and volatile person. Her mod brightens with the anticipation for some paying job, and with the prospect of meeting someone inside a building.November 27, 2019 at 12:44 pm #22705
There was no question about it, earning an honest living sucked. The miserable weather had brought in some much needed business, but that had meant too many hours out in the cold and the rain. Well, mostly in a cold and fogged up car, but it still wasn’t nearly as pleasant as a warm house and a soft mattress.
Painful as his debt payments were, Jawsey couldn’t regret having borrowed that bit extra to buy a good bed. The more he had to go roaming around the dirt, depression, and dampness of Seattle in the Autumn, the more he appreciated that bed. The only thing he really wanted to leave it for was food or the occasional trip to a crowded, warm, bar.
All the same he’d been scouting people astrally and taking pics and trids of suspected philanderers. ‘Suspected’ and almost always confirmed. By the time people were willing to pay to get proof they almost always knew. There had been one exception, but that client had yelled at them for their incompetence at not finding the evidence that the the client was sure existed. From reading the wife’s aura Jawsey was pretty sure that she was just avoiding her emotionally abusive husband as much as possible, but they’d not communicated that conclusion.
There had been enough work to cover their rent, gang bribes, groceries, and all of that. And fortunately he’d had enough held back to cover his debt payments for the month. But if they didn’t get a bigger job soon they were going to be faced with some tough choices as December loomed.
And then AM told them of the new job. Inside, and by the sounds of it with the potential for a decent payout if they played their cards right.
Jawsey pulled out his good suit, and made sure it was wrinkle free. No tie, it was an art gallery so he didn’t want to look full on corporate. His synth-leather shoes were not up to the quality of the suit, but at least didn’t stand out too badly — although some types would notice, he was sure. And after a moment of thought he added a hat to keep his hair dry, and his sword-cane, just in case.
November 27, 2019 at 2:04 pm #22710
- This reply was modified 1 month ago by Beta.
At evening AM gets dressed and takes the wheel, the last thing she needs is some bored copper ruining their day with a Driving While Orc charge. The museum was a good neighborhood, and she dresses accordingly. Not quite a suit, but comfortable, and higher than normal quality clothes. Her new jacket on top. ”You see, Janet is already divorced- so it is not another cheating spouse. I think it is the real deal.”
The “Necessary Arts” art gallery was situated downtown Seattle, in a neighborhood with regular police presence, and well-maintained buildings. It felt like another world from their tourist-ville retreat. AM liked it a lot, while she only had little knowledge of art, most auctions and shows were free to enter, as long as she did not buy anything. It felt like the best escapism, AM first visited that gallery in one of her Mafia odd job’s when she had to make sure that a client did not back off from a deal and bought a painting in what was likely the outcome of some blackmail or something equally sinister considering the people that were on alert with her. Somehow AM kept going there from time to time, just to imagine for a little bit that she belongs there.
“Here goes nothing” she thinks as she parks the car, and exit toward the gallery.November 27, 2019 at 3:54 pm #22714TecumsehParticipant
Mato breathed a small sigh of relief at AM’s news. Inside is good, he thinks to himself.
Having Bobby gone has put more of a burden on Mato than he expected, especially when it comes to surveillance. Bobby turning into a rat or a pigeon or something else made him an expert at seeing without being seen. Mato could jump and climb into position, and his sleep regulator made him ideal for long stakeouts, but he was usually out in the elements. And while Mato’s metal limbs didn’t feel cold like normal arms and legs, the rain didn’t just roll off his back like it did to Bobby when he was a crow or a duck or whatever he turned into when he wanted to be unobtrusive. Probably not a duck, as Barrens residents would shoot one on sight for dinner.
AM could hack from the safety and comfort of home or the car. Same with her magical remote viewing. Jawsey could slip the surly bonds of earth while venturing out in the astral, again from a position of relative warmth and dryness. (Mato wondered what that was like, the emotional charge of the scene when a couple was caught in delicto flagrante. The passion, the scandal, all wrapped up in a furtive liaison. It was a curiosity; it wasn’t for him.) But those gifts, while incredibly useful, usually didn’t get the money shot. There weren’t usually cameras in bedrooms, and astral visions couldn’t be filmed, so there was Mato – invisible per AM’s hand – snooping in the window or, Spirit help him, hiding in the closet with recording equipment.
Outside of the Peeping Tom business, Mato has spent the last three weeks being less awkward and more sociable, and has broadly succeeded. All the chrome has robbed him of some of the light behind his eyes, and he’s still impassive about a great many thing that it would make sense to be passionate about, but his body language and overall presence are much less stiff. He’s blinking more often, making the appropriate amount of eye contact, and shifting his weight between his legs like a normal person rather than standing like a statue all the time. It sounds like he’ll get to put these new skills to the test at a society event.
Luckily he has a good suite, a Zoé Executive Suite. His mother had always stressed the importance of looking your best, which is why she popped G3 pills morning, noon, and night and had a shaman who cast Healthy Glow on speed dial. The other good news is that the cold weather gives him an excuse to wear gloves to help conceal his obvious cyberhands. He could do it in the summer but it made him look like a serial killer (moreso than he already does). But in the autumn and winter he could blend right in.
”Let’s take the Shin-Hyung,” Mato suggests. ”Socialites wouldn’t be caught dead in a Ford Americar.”
AM insists on driving, lest they be pulled over on racial grounds. Personally Mato thinks that an ork in a suit driving around two elves is probably a pretty common sight in Seattle, or Bellevue, or anywhere else where the monied elite had chauffeurs and bodyguards.
”You two take the lead. I’ll try to blend in the background, per usual.”November 27, 2019 at 4:35 pm #22716
Necessary Arts had the typical antithetical mixture of highly polished, sterile interior with lots of chrome, marble and glas as well as butt ugly, oftentimes too organic looking exponats. “Outsider art” a small, very tasteful brass plaque told everyone entering through the front door looking at a large wooden cross on which someone had nailed some kind leathery skin in a vague resemblance of a human form. The tatters stirred slightly in the gust of air as they entered, giving the exponat a seriously creepy sense of being somehow alive.
A very petite dwarf – actually a gnome – girl in a well tailored two piece suit immediately came towards them with a huge but pretty fake smile.
“Good evening. Are you here for the Renoir?” Only then did she realize her mistake and her expression turned into a more genuine, slightly tired looking expression: “Oh, I’m sorry. You must be the private detectives. I am Milly. Janet is waiting for you in her office. Please follow me. Would you like something to drink? We have a selection of excellent glacier waters with frozen cucumber slices. Or if you’d rather have some coffee?”
While this stream of words patterned on the team she led the team past the majority of exponats that seemed to have been aranged in some kind of drywall labyrinth, set into scene with a variety of cleverly arranged spotlights. Mato, Jawsey and AM all did a double take at the second to last one they passed: There, inside a clear protective shell a tarot card seemed to float by itself, slowly spinning in place. The Three of Swords depicted a young man, pierced by three claymores in such a way that he was kept from touching the ground while his face expressed immense agony.
The gnome had reached an almost invisible door on which she knocked.
Without waiting for more than three seconds, she opened the door and called in: “Janet, your PDs are here.” Ushering the team inside, she went on her way – likely to fetch the drinks or something.Spoiler:November 27, 2019 at 4:47 pm #22718
Around Touristville Jawsey was usually at pains to pass for human. The surgeon who had re-constructed his face had been very skilled at sculpting extremely handsome faces, but hadn’t been very good at elves. It really wasn’t hard to blur away the last traces of elvishness and pass for a tallish human. For tonight however, he’d decided to actually emphasize the elf in him. Of course people might think he was a poser, but he’d take his chances.
And speaking of taking chances, he brought along a sprayer of the ‘Black Panther’ pheremone cologne. He wasn’t sure that he believed the claims about it, or that he’d use it, but if they had to interrogate high society types he might take the chance.
Somewhat to his disappointment the woman who met them at the gallery didn’t seem to care what they were. Then again, everyone would tower over her and out-mass her, so maybe the differences between meta-types didn’t matter as much to her?
Jawsey was still musing about meta-identity and viewer dependence when his attention was suddenly grabbed by the display of a tarot card. Not another one!. He slowed his steps a bit and swiveled his head to keep an eye on it as he passed, switching to astral vision to try to tell if it was one of _those_ cards or not.Spoiler:November 28, 2019 at 12:02 am #22726
AM casts the improve charisma spell before they leave. When they arrives, and the gnome immediately identifies them AM whispers, “it is that obvious isn’t it.” to herself, not expecting an answer. As a hobby, she opens her eyes and ears and focuses on the exhibition. The tarot card catches her fancy. Iktomi must be playing some hoax on them, placing these cards in their path over and over again. Tarot cards, as in fate? Spirits, he does this manipulation so subtly the sneaky shapeshifter.
She follows and enters and settles for water. Not wanting to look awkward, but not wanting to make it difficult for the gnome hostess that seems busy.Spoiler:November 28, 2019 at 4:38 am #22728
A glimpse into the astral showed that this was in fact the real deal:
A true artifact of power.
Disturbingly, there seemed to stretch tendrils from the card to various objects inside the gallery, passing through the thin drywalls.
If you concentrated you could even feel them when you passed through them.
Janet awaited the team behind her desk. Her fake smile couldn’t hide the fact that she seemed to feel disgust at having to employ private detectives.
“So good of you to drop by at short notice. Please have a seat.
Milly, please bring our guests some refreshments.”
It spoke of her concern that she kept the smalltalk to a minimum, although there were a few interesting tidbits in it, that hinted at why the mafia was interested in an overpriced art gallery.Spoiler:
“So anyway, in 24h the vernissage begins with all those important Italians and Russians attending and I have to deal with this totally crazy situation.”
“What actually happened? Oh sorry, didn’t I mention that?
Someone broke in last night.
But they didn’t steal anything. Didn’t even destroy anything.
I only noticed, because some things seem to be out of place and when I looked at the security footage, it was a copy of the night before.”
November 28, 2019 at 1:37 pm #22735
- This reply was modified 1 month ago by Jack_Spade.
AM says ”I see why it can be a problem. If they bothered to erase the security footage, then you are speaking professionals. I can make a few guesses as to what they are after – but considering there are going to be some very important people, at the gallery stakes are very high, you can never be too careful. Even if the timing was not so sensitive, just because you think they did not steal anything, does not mean they did not take measurements of the place or plant something in. “
She talked the talk, attempting to emphesize on the urgency of the situation to eventually bring the payment issue at a better position.
[colo=red]”… but you are lucky Janet. We are the real deal in this. Combining technological, magical and phsyical capabilities.”[/color]November 28, 2019 at 4:00 pm #22743
Janet nodded: “Alright, I see what you mean. I really don’t want any bad surprises tomorrow – and I can’t very well task Knight Errant to attend when the families are attending.
So, what kind of fee are we talking here? You three making sure nothing bad happens to my guests and find out what’s going on here. KE would charge me 20k for that – fair for you too?”November 28, 2019 at 5:24 pm #22745
“Not only would you not want KE here when your guests were here, but KE also wouldn’t be protecting your or them from some kinds of threats. Given last night’s break-in, this doesn’t sound like a simple ‘a crowd of gangers might rush in’ type of situation. There is a real chance of matrix or magical threats. And the ‘threats’ may not even ever be obvious, like if this is to gather information on your guests, or to manipulate them in some way. Simple guards won’t protect against any of that.”
“I hate to be a jerk about it, but the truth is that we have the mix of magic, matrix, and meat skills that you need, while you need people to start on this immediately and focus on this entirely until after the vernissage.” — Jawsey was grateful that he’d worn his trodes and had been able to look up just what the heck a ‘vernissage’ was — “We definitely expect some of that in advance, and a bit more at the back end would be reasonable too.”Spoiler:November 28, 2019 at 11:38 pm #22746
AM takes the lead seeing that Jawsey struggles ”Janet, put simply what my friend is saying is that for three dedicated specialists one needs to pay a little extra even in the KE. Plus, your guests would not mind our presence so How about 28k?”Spoiler:November 29, 2019 at 9:36 am #22752Spoiler:
Janet pulled a face as if she had bitten suddenly into lemon slice: “I may be under time pressure, but you are not the only outfit I could choose. I called you, because you are the first on my list.
But ok, I might be able to go a bit higher. 24k – that’s 8k per person or 1000 per hour if you three manage to solve this until tomorrow.
The caterers are arriving at 6. If you manage to solve this until then, I’ll pay each of you another 1000.”
November 29, 2019 at 12:44 pm #22759
- This reply was modified 1 month ago by Jack_Spade.
AM makes a sour face to judge Janets reaction, and then comments ”We will have to solve the mystery quickly then.” she pauses to breathes and proceeds as if a large weight has been lifted from her. If they successfully pull off this job then she will survive another month, and if they manage to do other useful stuff in that month then she will reduce her debt.
She says ”So tell me Janet, what exactly was out of place that made you suspicious? Also, can you give me marks of your computer system so I can check if you have more duplicated nights in your security footage?” She rarely has the chance to examine a secure host without a patrol IC to look for her, and prevent her from really diving into the matter.November 29, 2019 at 2:48 pm #22764TecumsehParticipant
Mato nods at the conclusion of the negotiation. It seems to be a decent price, and he liked the sound of ¥1,000 per hour. The price also suggests that there were some additional resources beyond those of a private business.
<<So this place is a front, right?>> Mato DNIs via the team’s comms. <<I’m no art expert but these numbers don’t add up, not with expected overhead in this neighborhood. And art is a luxury product, but their margins aren’t that good. These prices way too high, which strongly suggests kickbacks and money laundering.>>
<<Italians and Russians, eh. Are there going to be Mob-Vory fireworks if we don’t do our jobs right?>>
Mato strolls around, keeping his eyes, ears, nose, and scanners open for anything amiss. He gets a solid sense of his surroundings.
<<Let’s check insider access. I can’t forget how that first card almost took over my mind, told me to run and leave you all behind. It’s obvious these things can send tendrils out and strongly influence unwitting passersby. So let’s figure out when the camera feed goes out, when it comes back on, and who would have had legitimate reason and/or access to be here in that window of time. Doubly so for anyone with access to the host who could have wiped the feeds, even without realizing or remembering it. Maybe even Janet herself here.>>November 29, 2019 at 7:11 pm #22767
Jawsey nodded at Janet’s offer, glanced at the others, then said “sounds like we have a deal. Do you have a quiet place where we could do some of the matrix and magical work? And is there other staff here? We’d like to meet all of them. I’m sure we all hope that there was not an inside connection, but we have to look into it.“November 30, 2019 at 4:55 am #22770
“There is very confidential information on my system. I can give you access to the sensor system though. Here, I transfered three MARKs to you.”
Janet turned to Jawsey:
“Yes, you can use Milly’s office. It’s the next room here. No, it’s only us two – if you don’t count the boys from maintenance who come here for the installations, oh and of course the Piscato brothers. They help me hauling the heavier objects around and setting up the whole arrangements. And tomorrow there are the caterers from Noelle Foods. They are very good – there bite-de-cheval canapes are to die for.
Here, I’m giving you there contact infos.”
Looking at Mato she called after him: “Please be very, very careful while moving around. Some of those exponats are very fragile and incredibly expensive!”
Mato concentrated on his sensors, looking around for weapons and other things he wouldn’t expect in an art gallery.
Immediately his readout reported that there were quite a lot of metalic objects around. Most of them corresponded with statues, busts and other, more abstract exponats – so that was no help at all.
He had more success with his olfactorial boosters: There was a definite tang of ammonia in the air – like a fertilizer bomb. Except it could have also come from badly cured leather that was also in use on some of the more exotic things here.
One thing that was definitely off was the faint smell of fish and marcipan – better known as the smell of Semtex plastic explosive.November 30, 2019 at 12:29 pm #22773
“Great, we’ll talk to all of them as they become available. But first we’ll all look around, in various ways, to get to know the gallery.”
Jawsey then heads out into the gallery, to take a more careful look around, alternating between physical and astral senses. Later he’ll go to Milly’s office and look around one more time, while astrally projecting. He is far better at figuring things out from the astral side, he tends to glaze over quite quickly when looking at things physically, but still he should try.
High up on his list is figuring out where the magical tendrils from the card are going, and if that makes some sort of pattern.Spoiler:November 30, 2019 at 1:25 pm #22774
”Thanks Janet” AM says about the marks, and then walks to the room, she does not need the charisma spell anymore, but better observation powers may be useful so she asks Iktomi for his blessing and attention to details. She seats on one of the chairs, and accesses the matrix, testing the surrounding for nearby silently running devices that should not be there. Her body goes limp as she finds herself in the matrix representation of the gallery where she moves quickly in her search.Spoiler:
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