April 18, 2019 at 7:50 am #17946
[Wednesday September 7, 2078; Helium Vola host]
Guthrie? The stinky man from Orting? Well that was a weird coincidence, she was only a few hundred meters from his flesh…not that she desired to get any closer. She didn’t know anything about Texas but she knew that Silk trusted him far more than Lily would have believed possible, or probable, given his outward appearance and manner. He liked dogs though, dogs were golden! There was obviously more to him than was apparent and she remonstrated herself for judging without adequate knowledge…she was still learning, she’d chalk that one up to real world experience and try not to make the same mistake again…she had no desire to see him in a leading SIM role though that was for sure and she repressed a giggle
“So the four of us? Sounds like we should jump on this, meet at Alex’s apartment or somewhere close and watch it for activity?”
#02April 18, 2019 at 8:25 am #17947
“Yeah, we start at the Bellevue villa. That sounds about right,” Al said, He was using his right hand to shield his eyes from the epilepsy-threatening strobe of Preston’s avatar (apparently his flare-comps didn’t translate to this “reality”), and he glanced to his left to nod at the Whisper-looking newcomer. Was she one of the Texas crew, all hidden inside the avatar? A bit tall for Ichante, but she probably had fantasies like that…
He glanced around for the fourth person she had referred to before continuing to speak to Horn. Ticking items on his fingers, he said, “We need the address o’ the villa an’ the sec codes. An’ how ya know fer sure that’s where he was took from – or that he was took at all. An’ if anyone else lives there with him. An’ any staff – if so, you’ll need ta give ’em a heads up so’s we don’t have ta kill ’em or torture ’em fer info. An’ ya say no authorities – so we’ll have first crack at the place as a crime scene, right? An’ finally, ya got extra security on other cast members?”April 18, 2019 at 9:53 am #17952
* Gamma: That was a large number
* Eliza: I know it is traditional to negotiate such things, but I’m terrible at that
* Oleg: I hate negotiating. All that eyelid-batting, histrionics, posturing, and whatnot, what a load of drivel.
* Coleman: It is something to work on, getting more confident in simply presenting the logical facts of the situation and not getting distracted by all the rest.
* Monkey: Let’s skip the boring negotiations and get on to either pwning some people in this host, or getting on with the job — showbiz people get all the best drugs so this could be fun!
* Oleg: I don’t need new drug issues.
“Well, uh, that all sounds good. I guess I’m in. What more detail can you provide us?“
April 18, 2019 at 4:50 pm #17968
- This reply was modified 1 month ago by Beta.
Horn nodded: “Certainly. The villa is empty. Housekeeping comes once a week, and I have canceled them for the moment. No crime scene as far as I can tell. No blood or signs of a struggle… well, at least nothing that can be considered a violent struggle. Alex does sometimes bring home girls. But it doesn’t look like there has been a fight. All his cars are in the garage and the house was locked. Neither of his commlinks was gone.
I’ll send you the codes to enter. Unfortunately, I do not possess the codes to the security system, so I can’t review the records of the house surveillance. But I am sure you’ll find a way to… improvise.
But remember, keep this discreet. The press must not learn about this.”
To the question about the security of his other stars he said: “I have no reason to believe that the others are in danger. Still, I do have a few people keeping watch on them.April 18, 2019 at 6:55 pm #17976
“Check, check, an’ check. Shoot me anythin’ ya got on the sec system model, specs, provider if’n ya got such. Or not. Only difference’ll be gittin’ in quick or gittin’ in quicker. Oh, yeah, send me the name o’ the housekeepin’ outfit, too. Paps gon’ be watchin’ the house 24/7, we can be a lot more discreet if’n we look like them goin’ in.”April 18, 2019 at 11:20 pm #17982
Rebecca chose the secret powers of teleportation and invisibility. She decloaks after the butler introduces himself, her body is completely blue and crystalline in shape. Inspired by some trid in the 60’s she barely remembers the name. It is nice. ‘Rebecca”, she introduces herself and adds ”Publicity is not the desired thing in our line of work, but I am hopping along if the cred is good enough.”April 19, 2019 at 5:58 am #17994
“That should be no problem, I added the name and matrix site to the portfolio. Give me a call when you searched the place. I do already have a suspicion as to what happened, but I don’t want to influence your investigation beforehand.”
It was easy to understand, that this was a polite way to say, that the first part was also a test of the team’s abilities.
To Becky he said: “Don’t worry. You will be compensated generously.
The villa turned out to be directly on Phantom Lake and the satellite photos showed also a small pier with a tiny boat house. A sturdy fence surrounded the place on three sides with lots of greenery that prevented paparazi from getting anything going on on the property.April 19, 2019 at 6:04 pm #18003
“Precious!” Al said in deight when Becky appeared and then introduced herself. “You been here all this time, all invisibilized an’ shit? Jeeves here done already flashed some figures at us – looks good.”
But now Al was back to wondering who the person was in the Whisper costume. The J had said they were hired based on the Texas job (instantly sending alarm bells off in Al’s mind about what sort of lizards or never-dies the guy might be connected to), and Al had guessed the Whisper persona was Becky. So if not, then who? Jazz or Ichante? Neither seemed to fit.
Well, if this person didn’t want outed just yet, he wasn’t going to press it. They’d all meet soon enough.
He glanced at the portfolio the J had sent. VR did have its advantages, even if he was going to feel like he’d been hit be a truck once he woke up in his meat. So they were set with address, gate and door codes, info on the cleaning company. Accessing the cams once on site would not be an issue – he could handle anything on the real side, or they could tap in and let Preston handle it virtually.
“Alrighty, y’all. Time fer some truth, justice, an’ the American way. My new van can look jist like one from this cleanin’ outfit. It’s in my boathouse on Harbor Island. Those of ya ain’t been there, here’s the twenny. Say two hours?”
He was eager to find out who he was working with, more eager to get out of VR, and he’d need that long to drive from Orting up to the Downtown waterfront.April 19, 2019 at 6:33 pm #18005
Rebecca replies ”Yes, Al… I was here waiting to see how serious they were about the invisibility power. Being a superheroine in VR loses its appeal when you have superpowers in the real world. I never blended to the background before though.
Was it me, or is the Jhonson playing with us by sending us to investigate a cold crime scene after his people have already investigated it? Speaking about long foreplays… “April 19, 2019 at 7:00 pm #18013
Al shrugged. “Well, he’s implied the only one’s been there fer a look-see is him. Fer that coin, reckon he can play a few games if’n he wants. Tell ya what, let’s pick this up at the boathouse. If you snuck up on this meet, who knows what other invisible listeners is hangin’ around.”April 20, 2019 at 5:05 am #18022
Horn nodded: “Good. I’ll be waiting for your call.”
The butler vanished from the host with the animation of a cheesy alien abduction through a bright cone of light.April 20, 2019 at 7:31 am #18024
“Right then. Two hours, folks. Got me some drivin’ ta do.”
And the ridiculous Dog Dude persona winked out of existence without fanfare as Al willed his meat arm to yank the offensive ‘trode rig from his head.
The harsh reality of his Orting garage office hit him like a lifetime of past sins. Spike was still licking hungrily at his soiled face and he batted the dog away with a desperately nauseated curse before sitting up, hunching over, and dry heaving at the floor. So much for the miracle of modern anti-emetics.
But he had no time to grumble. Two hours was going to be a challenge if he left now – usually ninety minutes to wend his way in the Gaz out of Hell’s Kitchen by paths known only to a few. Then another hour up to downtown if the roads were good. He’d have to shave time off of both ends and break every traffic law on the Plex’s books. But then that was how he normally drove anyway.
He set about throwing his working gear into the back seat of the truck.April 22, 2019 at 12:56 pm #18049
Finding the boathouse turned out to be no problem, letting the group meet for the first time in the meat only two hours laterApril 22, 2019 at 3:27 pm #18050
Preston double checked on the address that Al had provided.
* Oleg: I should just have stayed in my car downtown, I would have been closer.
* Gamma: I have gear here in the apartment that I may want with me.
Half an hour or so drive, not accounting for go-gangs, dragons, or Grid Guide getting hacked. Not that he’d ever seen a dragon mess up traffic on the 167, but then again he’d never seen a dragon show up at the end of a job until recently, either.
AAAA: Dragons and THINGS-THAT-STARE
Gamma: are things that I will NOT think about.
AAAA: it doesn’t matter, IT can read buried memories. There are no secrets.
Preston fired off matrix searches on their target and his address, not expecting deep secrets but just to make sure he had all the public information, then busied himself with his caff machine. Once it was running he pulled up some shots from the McHughs out near the Federated Boeing factory and scanned hair styles
* Monkey: not that most would consider those to be ‘styles’
* Gamma: I’m assuming that the maintenance crews in Bellevue are of the same general demographic as factory workers in Auburn
* Eliza: ‘Working but not making much money’ limits the options for things like hair. They need to meet certain standards to keep their job, but they aren’t going to spend a lot of money. If I focus on slightly older men who are apt to already have a partner and possibly kids to support, I should see reasonable convergence between the groups.
* Monkey: Ugh, but that means I’ll need to look older and even more boring. And Becky will be there! Just once I want to disguise myself as someone glamorous when I meet her.
* Gamma: Of course I’m focusing on trivialities to distract me from thinking about other things.
* Coleman: Whatever lets me stay functional enough to get my gear together and get myself to the meat meet.
Caff in hand he walked into the bedroom that he’d turned into his disguise room. Armored vest for certain so he put that on, and then with a shrug he pulled his much used coveralls on over that. He quickly cycled through its programming to make sure that the electrochramtic features were working and the gas mask was charged, then he settled on a generic grey for now. His smart wig ended up already having a reasonable hair set in place — styles hadn’t changed much in the couple of months since he’d last done a crowd scan — so he used that slightly uneven, light-brown-going-grey ‘do. That gave him enough of a palette for him to settle down in his make-up chair and put on a face. He quickly dulled his skin tones, added a couple of old scars on his left cheek, a bump on his nose, and lightened his eyebrows and lashes. After a moment of thought he went with a watery hazel eye color for his contact lenses.
He looked in the mirrors and the AR fitting booth, and wasn’t quite happy. He took off the overalls, and added a bit of padding onto his right shoulder to give him some unevenness, then used a pocket he’d added to his vest to slide in some foam to give himself a touch of middle-aged paunch. He pulled the overalls back on, added some beat up work boots and disposable cap, and approved his general look. Then he grabbed a mop, and used the AR booth to work on his tired slouch and shuffle until he was happy with those, then cycled through voice settings until he found one that sounded appropriately soaked in beer and tobacco. Then he realized that was a voice setting he’d made based on Al, and that probably wouldn’t do. He went through settings again and found one with a bit of a wheeze and less growl, and locked that in.
* Oleg: Of course, Al will go in looking the same as he always does.
* Coleman: As long as he’s willing to carry some cleaning supplies, for once he won’t look too out of place.
He checked the time, then hustled as he added weapons around his body and gear into his armored duffle bag. Taser carried openly, hold-out in its arm slide, Predator in the concealed holster in his coveralls, loaded with gel rounds — a clip of APDS going into the smuggling compartment in his arm. His blackjack was already in its concealed harness down the small of his back — not the most convenient place when he was wearing coveralls, but it would do. Deck in one of the coveralls large pockets, along with some tissues, disposable latex gloves, and a respirator, then he carefully rolled up his armor jacket and ballistic mask and added those, filling the bag.
He tossed a poncho with a large hood over the whole thing, grabbed his forgery kit to balance his load, and toted it all off to his car. Somedays the chance of rain made a good excuse to cover himself up when he wanted to leave home with his game face in place. By the time he pulled off the expressways to grab a couple of six packs of beer and a few containers of take out noodles the chance of rain had turned into a scattering of fat drops, and he was happy to have the poncho to keep the rain off his face. Waterproof make-up or not, he preferred not to take chances.
Grid Guide did inexplicably have two lanes of the Spokane Street Viaduct empty of traffic, so that did slow things down for a stretch, but at least there was no Go-Gangs or Dragons
* Gamma: Technically, the shut lanes could have been due to a dragon, I don’t know.
Just two minutes before their designated time he pulled up at the boat-house. He left his bags and boxes in the car, but grabbed the beer and noodles.
Knocking at the door, he set his voice to his usual and called “Al! Preston here. I brought beer and food.“April 23, 2019 at 7:16 am #18067
Rebecca made her way to the boathouse on her beloved Morgan, she already knew the place and was eager to work with familiar faces.April 23, 2019 at 7:30 pm #18085
Fifty-eight seconds later, Al had double-checked the contents of his boom-bag in the truck’s chemically-shielded smuggling compartment and used his scarred fingers to tick off the worn tool bags scattered on the extended cab’s back seat. Settled behind the wheel, he keyed the roll-up doors and had the engine going even as the electric motor on the door went to work.
He was nosing the truck out even as the door had a few centimeters left to clear the cab, eager to make up the seconds he was already behind schedule. He gunned the engine, released the brake, and then stepped down on it just as quickly. The winch mounted to the front of his chassis came to a stop mere millimeters from the knees of the slight figure that stood waiting motionless outside his garage.
“Lily? What the hell, girl?” he said in a voice not loud enough to be heard outside over the engine. Or maybe if her ears matched her arms she could hear him just fine. Before he had time to think about whether she’d caught what he’d said, she was walking to the passenger side door and letting herself in. He opened his mouth to say…something, and then it all came together.
“You stink again.”
“That’s not stink, hon, that’s musk. Find yer way ta puberty, she’ll hit ya a whole diff’rent way.”
And they were off. Great. She was content not to speak, which gave Al the wherewithal to concentrate on shaving thirty minutes off his travel time while simultaneously going over what Silky had told him about this girl.
One, she trusted her. Sort of. More like wanted to maybe probably trust her, but jury still out.
Two, it wasn’t a trustworthy-or-else-just-neutral sort of thing. She’d ‘escaped’ from the other side, from the freaks that Silky’s little choral group was always working against. So she was either all in or all the way the hell out. Silky had even spouted some crazy talk about this metallic little girl being custom made to fuck with him personally. Said that with her around he wouldn’t be the center of universe (or whatever the lizards called it) anymore.
And that apparently was the case whether she was really on the side of the angels or not.
In the end, he had to admit he’d been spoiled. Blessed with a long line of incredibly trustworthy co-workers, which he knew from the trid was far from the norm. So if he had to work with eyes in the back of his head, so be it.
The whole thing worked him up into such a state that before he knew it he’d beaten all his past records and actually made it to his boathouse early. By about three minutes. Got out, swung the doors open. The Gaz drove herself in while he swung them shut. Lily got out and was just sizing the place up when the famiiiar sound of Preston’s Ford pulled up outside. The decker offered food and beer – the ultimate ‘Open Sesame.’ Al stepped out, and with the Gaz and the Gov occupying the bulk of the boathouse’s space, he was just directing Preston to a safe parking spot when Becky pulled up in her Morgan.
“Alrighty, then. Gang’s all here.”April 24, 2019 at 5:49 pm #18108
Preston looked around. Al, Becky, and someone new to him, heavily chromed. No Ichante, nor Jazz.
* Oleg: Is the new one a She or an It? A person mostly replaced with chrome, or an AI in a custom drone body?
* Eliza: I’d go with She unless I hear otherwise. Better to think of her as a person unless I get a clear sign not to.
* Monkey: Aw, I want Ichante to make me up some new ahead-of-the-fashion-curve clothes. The last ones just seem normal now!
* Coleman: Becky is a fearsome warrior and charismatic leader. Al has a depth of abilities. The new one looks like she’s probably deadly in a fight too. But neither Becky nor Al is a mage nor a rigger, and I doubt anybody with that much chrome is either. Spells, spirits, and drones open up huge strategic possibilities, and we don’t look like we’ll have access to them.
* Gamma: Hacking also opens up strategic possibilities
* Coleman: We have three primary avenues of exploration then, social, personal combat, and matrix. It is still choices, just not as many choices as I’d prefer.
“Al! Becky! I’m happy to work with you again. This is a more cozy sized group than the last time we had a job together. By the way, sorry I didn’t get any real health food for you Becky, but where I was stopping at didn’t carry anything that seemed likely to fit your requirements.” And turning to the fourth, he asked “And what was your name again? I’m Preston.”April 25, 2019 at 7:51 am #18124
As Becky and Preston met Lily, Al got into the Gov and fed images of the cleaning service’s vehicles from its public site into the programming suite for the van’s electrochromatic skin. A few seconds later, the vehicle was indistinguishable from those of the cleaning service.
Then he got out and helped himself to a container of Preston’s takeout noodles.
“Ever’one all caught up? Anythin’ stoppin’ us from hittin’ the villa forthwith?”
Slurping noodles greedily, he swung open the rear doors of the Gov, revealing a pasenger space cluttered with tools and gear, but also featuring seating haphazardly upholstered with salvaged carpet swatches in various shades of maroon and red. The space was lit by several lava lamps bathing every surface in flowing psychedelics. One side of the interior was covered with a huge black velvet tapestry featuring a tableau of the original cast of Tales of the Red Samurai – in robes with halos.April 25, 2019 at 7:59 am #18126
[Wednesday September 7, 2078; Al’s Boathouse, Harbor Island]
Lily scrutinised Preston, her cybereyes taking in every detail…street decker…and Al was, well Al, Rebecca had something about her that made Lily want to like her and that was a little unsettling but she decided that she would reserve judgement…see, she was learning already! Rebecca moved with grace and precision, a fighter, unlike Al who was more brawler as far as Lily could tell. All of them were likely to be lethal…
“You can call me Lily” she replied to Preston
April 25, 2019 at 8:39 am #18130
- This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by Aria. Reason: Location stamp updated
Rebbeca is happy to see Preston and Al and is surprised by Lilly that seems like a complete cyborg of elegance and beauty, woman and machine combined. Hard money buys whatever I dedicate my life to be, she feels a strange combination of frustration and admiration. At any case, she extends her hand and introduces herself as Becky. She wears a casual leather jacket, and matching boots, and her hair is cut short, a new large silver earing pierces her left ear, and on close inspection is inscribed with countless arcane symbols. All very small, and subtly done. Astral inspection shows it to be a Qi focus. He tattoos are completely hidden, but her leather jacket has a drawing of a large apple tree with a sneak enveloped around it.
”Preston! Al! so nice to meet you again”
When Preston mentions the health food
”Aha… nevermind it, I always carry my entire home with me on tow. I am fine for food really, though I am considering buying a second car just for shoes. As the old one is getting crowded as I accumulate junk.”
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