April 25, 2019 at 9:35 am #18131
Preston shook Lily’s hand, wondering if he should have used his cyber arm rather than his meat one, for this one case?
* Oleg: Do cyborgs even care about etiquette?
* Eliza: EVERYONE cares about etiquette, whether or not they know it
“Becky, good to see you again. I hope your trip home went smoothly. Al was teaching me to drive properly, so I can’t say ours was entirely smooth
* Oleg: So many shoes and dewdas, pfah!
* Gamma: I have an entire bedroom dedicated to clothes
* Oleg: That is for disguises, that has professional purposes
* Eliza: And for a woman like Becky, so might shoes
“A second vehicle just for stuff? That is a thought, my car is half full of various equipment kits: disguise, forgery, forensics, electronics, miscellaneous tools …. and that is without the caff machine that I want with me for road trips! I wonder if if would make more sense to get like a jackrabbit or something just to shove some kits into, or just save up for a van?”
Preston quickly attacked some noodles, but stayed away from the beer for now. “We should be able to go from the Gov to the house without being observed, but all the same I’m going complete cleaner disguise. If we have to look around outside it might make sense to send me or whoever else can look the part of hired staff. Also, I’m not a police expert level forensics guy, but I have the basics down fairly well, so before we go touching doorknobs and lightswitches and so on I’d like to see what we can pick up in the way of prints. It is a classic, but who knows what we find? Getting someone to run them could be more of a challenge, but at least interesting if we find anything that seems out of place. I’m sure you are all observant, so just looking around is apt to be at least as effective as me going around picking up hairs or whatever, so I’m not asking you to stand around doing nothing. Anyway, after I grab some prints and we look around I’ll want to make a direct connection into the security equipment and see what I can find matrix side.“
April 26, 2019 at 5:39 pm #18178
- This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by Beta.
They didn’t even wait to finish the food.
An hour later the big van from the housekeeping company was trundling through manicured streets in one of Seattle’s most upscale neighborhoods, passing a least three patrol cars before reaching its destination. As expected, a collection of bored paparazzi were loitering in cars around the gate, as well as yet another KE cruiser. Al wasted no time inputting the codes they’d been given and the gates swung open, closing behind them once the van pulled through, the cops making sure no picture-seekers tried to duck through and onto the grounds.
The driveway took several curves as it wound up the small hillock. Lined with French lilac, it blocked any sort of sight lines from the gate to the house. The shrubs were blooming a spectacular array of pink pastels, giving the drive a faerie feel. As if the exterior walls and screened drive were not enough privacy, they reached the wide turnabout in front of the house to find the immediate grounds encircled by a dense line of thirty-foot Japanese yew. Al still backed up to put the rear doors of the Gov as close as was reasable to what looked like a rear service entrance, then joined the others in back do dismount out the rear. If they needed to look around, Preston had come prepared with an impressive disguise. For now, though, they waited in the shadow of the van as the decker quickly dusted the door and keypad for prints. It didn’t take long to electronically scan the treated surfaces – there were naturally prints, the trick would be to separate those that were expected to have been there from those that weren’t. Al figured he’d probably have to hack the housekeeping company for that, and maybe get their missing movie star’s from Horn. Whatever – it was clear Preston knew what he was doing, and Al was glad to be working with him.
Then they were inside. Nice place. No one around. And very in need of cleaning.April 26, 2019 at 6:05 pm #18180
The villa had on the ground floor a very classic chess patter of white and black marble. By the looks of it, a small party had been held here only a few days ago. Crusted wine glasses stood next to empty wine bottles on a low table next to the sofas. The stench of overripe fruit and spoiled meat hung in the air, leading directly to a mostly empty buffet table – clearly some form of caterer had been employed to provide cheese, ham, olives and various forms of exotic fruits.
From the looks of it, about 10 to 15 guests should have been involved.
The whole building had about 16 rooms + a quite extensive wine cellar.
Kitchen, master bedroom, three guest rooms four baths, main entrance hall, dining room, swimming pool, office, study, garage, home movie theater seemed all to have been part of the party.Spoiler:April 27, 2019 at 8:26 am #18187
“Well, I guess finding out who was at this party, and if I guy left with any of them, is going to be our first task. I might as well grab prints from glasses and bottles, and even bag glasses to take with us, but I don’t know how much that will help unless we can find someone to run them. Still, if you’d let me get to those sort of items before you get too close, that would be great.”
* Monkey: woowee, now that is the sort of party I wish I was invited to!
* Oleg: Hedonism and excess is not to be admired
* Monkey: But I bet it sure is to be enjoyed!
* Gamma: gloves are on, bags are ready, I should complete the chem seal on this suit to reduce contamination risks
Preston closed up his coverall and put on the gas mask — he’d replaced the original respirator with that for runs. While he scurried around grabbing prints and bagging likely DNA evidence, Preston kept an eye out for clues, but with the twin distractions of the opulence of the house and getting to use his old training, he doubted that he was really paying attention.
After a while he went and sat in a chair that Becky had already checked over, removed his gas mask and opened up his coverall a bit, and admitted “That isn’t everything, but we aren’t a police squad. It should be enough to identify who was here if needed. My time is probably now better spent on hacking. Anyone noticed cameras or control panels that I could jack into?”Spoiler:April 27, 2019 at 3:54 pm #18205
It didn’t take long for Preston to get a rough overview of how many people had attended the party. With a bit of help from a number crunching cloud service and the collected forensic evidence, he learned that apparently only six people had left prints and DNA around. Still, there was evidence that at least 10 people had been here, drinking, eating and some of them fornicating.
Interestingly, the once he could identify seemed to all have DNA corresponding to homo sapiens nobilis – elves.
Meanwhile, Al had wandered around and found the master bedroom. A mostly empty bottle of tequilla lay on floor with most of the bedding and the remnants of a few spray-on condoms.
Puttering around, Al noticed one of the walls not corresponding with the dimensions he would have expected. Being a veteran of many tv shows and having actually worked in the building industry, he made the immediate connection: There must be a safe room – likely containing the really expensive/exciting things a man would want to keep safe and secret.
Lily had instead taken a look at the media library and noticed a few interesting pieces of reading material: Advertising for colonizing Mars. At first it just looked like SciFi props lying among other such stuff, but a closer look revealed that it was a genuine movement, trying to recruit dwarves and elves for a new wave of space colonists. For some reason, Lily considered this find to be significant.
April 27, 2019 at 5:54 pm #18211
- This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by Jack_Spade.
From the bedroom, Al heard Preston ask about a jackpoint. He picked his way through scattered bedding and bottles and showed the decker where access to the electricals should be and helped him access the trunk lines. Two minutes.
Then he went back to the bedroom. Identified where exactly the dead space would be. Given the furniture placement, there were only a couple of logical places the entry point could be. He studied them carefully. A place like this, any seams would be invisible to the naked eye. And for all he knew, access would be keyed by a cybernetic implant. But he hoped there was something else. Could be as easy as a hidden latch or button.
The place was obviously cleaned regularly, so he couldn’t go by dust patterns, but he did look carefully at the carpet for signs fo door-swing – assuming it even swung outward. Choosing what seemed like the best spot, he started getting tactile – knocking at the walls, and fingering surfaces for latches. It might be easy, or it might take some quality time with some serious tools. But he was getting into that space.April 28, 2019 at 10:14 am #18222
Al didn’t have to search for long: Once he knew where to look for the door, he just had to envision how it would have to be used: A man waking up from deep slumber, not knowing what was going on would stumble out of his bed and likely not want to bother with anything more complicated than pulling a lever or pressing a switch. So he looked around closely and found a small push button under the rim of the nightstand.
On silent hinges, part of the wall swung inwards, revealing a short corridor with a much more substancial heavy duty door behind it. Luckily, that one didn’t seem to be locked, indicating that no-one had yet used this safe room.
Behind the heavy door, Al found steps leading down into a much larger celar room. This one was furnished too in very tasteful yet pretty practical furnishings. A large, oldstyle control panel with monitors not reliant on AR or the matrix filled one side of the room. Likely the heart of the security system. Another wall had a set of book cases, containing row upon row of notebooks, filled with neat handwriting – in what Al assumed was some kind of slavic language. The third wall held weapons of different make and purpose: A few modern rifles and handguns was joined by knives, swords, crossbows, bows, spears and a genuine looking pair of duelling pistols from the 17th or 18th century.
A sideroom held a small bathroom and a kitchen, containing large quantities of non-perishable supplies.April 28, 2019 at 10:25 am #18224
Rebbeca stays quiet and takes a while to admire the pools, and then the rooms. She uses her astral sight to look for emotionally important items, and or astral security, leftover signatures and whatever else she finds interesting.April 28, 2019 at 11:28 am #18225
Right away, Becky noticed the emotionally charged atmosphere inside the house. It wasn’t enough to cause trouble with her magic, but had left some clear imprints around. She could make out six distinct auras that had been here and touched things. three of them had been in the bedroom and the emotional imprint made quite clear that it had been a quite passionate outing.
There was a faint wiff of magic, but she couldn’t identify which tradition it was and it looked like it had been some time ago. But it corresponded to the impressive wards that surrounded the buildings’ walls.
All in all it did not seem like the guests had had any magic at their disposal.April 28, 2019 at 2:40 pm #18227
Rebbeca seats next to Preston and says ”It was a great party, my professional opinion is a threesome. Pretty hot if I can still see the emotional residue – whoever participated should have a silly grin on their faces. I also spotted six distinct auras that I may be able to recall from memory, I have no quicksilver camera so my memory will have to do.
Which rooms are left to investigate? I can’t wait to see what kind of movies they watched in the movie room.”April 28, 2019 at 5:56 pm #18231
Preston plugged in to the point Al had pointed out, sat down against the wall, and dove into a better place.
* Monkey: ah, I love when work makes going into hot sim needed!
* Oleg: I need to not spend too much time, and make the others worried.
* Gamma: most people don’t understand the full wonders of hot sim
The equipment was, well not bad per se, but certainly not at corp security levels. It was only a matter seconds to convince the device that Preston was its best friend. Which was good, because the host it was attached to was an entirely different kettle of krill based protein paste, and that would be where records were stored. Always nice to get marks in place easily first.
But before he started taking on the host, Al sent another message about possibly a different security system?
* Coleman: they may have recorded different info, might as well check both.
Getting the files from the host was, as expected, a bother. He couldn’t tell at first if the files were encrypted so he fought to copy them, and only when that failed did he conclude that they in fact were.
* Oleg: why do security companies always have to make this hard? It is a hassle for their own employees too, and I’m going to get the data sooner or later no matter how they try to protect
Even then the host’s security was on the job, challenging his authority to make this transaction despite his full suite of marks. He finally found himself launching a hack that he didn’t have a ton of confidence in, and fortunately it seemed to make the difference.
* Gamma: I’ve not worked as hard on my searching and data manipulation as with some other areas.
* Oleg: It is fine to be a hot shot at breaking in, but if I can’t handle the paydata I’m not much of a decker. I need to work on this.
He jacked out with relief, but took a few seconds to master his frustration and stress before sending to the team <<I have the security system files. But it sounds like Al found a whole second system. Al if it is clear enough that you can run it, go for it. If you need me there I’ll come. Otherwise I’ll start doing a first skim of these files.>>
April 29, 2019 at 9:13 am #18239
- This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by Beta.
[Wednesday September 7, 2078; Veljanov’s Mansion, Bellevue]
Lily ran her fingertips lightly across the surfaces allowing her touch sensors to alert her of anything unusual without any risk of adding her own DNA to the scene. The colony promotional literature struck her, aside from longevity why would anyone be specifically targeting elves and dwarfs? Ok, she knew the Tirs were elitist to the point of riduclousness but this didn’t feel like their work, from what she understood they were too vested in this world to be looking for a new start on another one. She would be the first to admit that she didn’t understand all the nuances of this world yet, she was still a child with so much to learn, but she trusted her instincts
>I found something, promotional literature looking for elven space colonists…maybe Alex decided life would be greener on another world and left of his own accord? There doesn’t seem to be a sign of a struggle…?
#04April 29, 2019 at 12:38 pm #18245
Al was busy studying the weapons closely. The lack of AR access on the control panel combined with the way the weapons represented a span of time periods had set him to thinking. He was hefting the various blades and firearms, checking their grip and weight, when he got Preston’s message. <<Yeah, this system’s got no matrix connection nor user interface at all. Reckon I can take a crack at ‘er.>>
He grabbed a sampling of notebooks from various points on the shelves and set them on the console in case he got bored during load times or scanning through security footage. Then he fired the system up.April 29, 2019 at 1:34 pm #18249
* Monkey: A secret room, with weapons and snacks and views of what is going on in the bedrooms, I want one of those!
* Coleman: An old school system seems like it must have been here before our target was?
* Monkey: This is WAY more interesting than going through all the security footage I just found!
Preston sent the security files over to the others, and wandered around looking for Al’s secret passage. He kept AR on, just to see if the house also had AR decorations or features, although he doubted that any such things were relevant.
Eventually he found his way to Al and contributed by gawking at the weapons for a bit. He did suggest “Let me know some stuff that you haven’t touched, and I’ll check for prints to see how many people were using this room.” But Al looked pretty wrapped up in what he was doing, and one thing Preston understood about Al was that he, Preston, was never going to understand how Al did things. So he sat himself down and did start going through the security records after all.
April 29, 2019 at 5:35 pm #18256
- This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by Beta.
Preston quickly found out that beside Al only one person seemed to have touched these weapons – and very carefully at that. Likely using a cloth or gloves to polish them regularly.
Al managed to turn on the surveillance equipment from the early 40ies without much trouble.
Comparing the data from Preston with the stuff from the safe room revealed a few interesting pieces of information:
– The old security system used different cameras from the wireless sensors from the modern security system.
– The modern system was mainly focused on the entrances and the main hall, giving no view upon the more privat areas of the house.
– The old system instead covered every room with at least one camera.
– Both systems showed a bunch of elves arriving to a party. Nine in total with four women and five men, although it was not easy to tell the difference with some of them, as they all went for a pretty androgynous style.
– Alex seemed to be surprised by their arrival but didn’t seem to mind the spontaneous party.
– Something was subtly wrong with the movements of four of the guests, two women and two men.
– At around midnight, Alex was pretty drunk and moved with two girls to his bedroom.
– While the modern system showed the guests to continue the party, the old system had a recording of the remaining guests stopping to celebrate but instead quickly searching the villa, but apparently not finding what they were looking for.
– Meanwhile Alex was getting his freak on – for about half an hour. Than he sunk back on his bed, clearly unconscious. The two girls got up and dressed casually and very business like. They left the bedroom and were greeted by one of the men. He handed them cred sticks and sent them on their way. The four funny moving people entered the bedroom, wrapped the unconscious trid star in a bath robe and carried him unceremoneously out of his house and out of the range of the old systems cameras.
– The modern system showed nothing of this, projecting instead the scene of all guests leaving the place in good mood and a relatively orderly fashion.
– After that there was no more movement inside the house.April 29, 2019 at 6:39 pm #18267
“Well, there it all is,” Al said, boots up on the sec system’s console as he flipped idly through the journals, Lucky Strike dangling from the corner of his mouth. He’d watched the erotic assignation with half an eye as he’d worked out the dates in the journals, and then paid a lot more attention once it became clear that his favorite new trid star had been slipped a mickey by his bedmates. “Heh heh. Been there, done that,” he had muttered to himself, remembering that day three years ago here in Seattle when The Elephant had almost cost him his kidneys.
He pulled a cable from his Fairlight to download the security feed. The he grabbed the oldest journal he’d found – it went back to 1903 – and got up to search for the most recent volumes. “So this cat’s got journal’s goin’ back over a century-an’-a-half. But I’m bettin’ he’s older’n that – these weapons is all his’n, as I’ll wager yer forensicology is confirmin’ for us. So we got us a never-die, an’ these ungrateful freaks is always gittin’ angsty about they eternal-life curse. Could be that stuff Lily done found, it’s some sorta new search fer meanin’ fer the guy that’s done an’ seen it all? Or maybe a bunch o’ these never-dies done decided they can’t handle the next round o’ that shit we headed off back in Texas. Lot of ’em assume that’s inevitable, jist a matter o’ time. So if’n they go ta Mars, where the manasphere is negligible, they think they’s safe. Jist spitballin’ now, but definitely some angle worth thinkin’ about.”
<<Lily, Precious, how y’all doin’? We hit the motherlode down here inna saferoom off the master bedroom, ifn’ ya wanna head down.>>
Having said that, he set the Gov’s sensors to let him know of any movement outside, then said to Preston, “So we got pix o’ the kidnappers. Ya got external feeds o’ they vehicle?”April 30, 2019 at 4:42 pm #18293
Rebbeca responds ”I was just enjoying the atmosphere of this place. I’ll be down in a second” she went to the master bedroom, and says ”That is a very nice saferoom… Didn’t do our mark much good though.”April 30, 2019 at 5:00 pm #18294
“Slick as that group seemed, I wouldn’t put much stock in anything the main security system showed. If they do show us vehicles, the vehicles will be dead ends. No way they were this slick inside but that sloppy outside. But does this dinosaur system not have outside cameras?”
* Gamma: They were slick with the security system, and the four funny ones were careful all-around. But they left the remaining five open to basics like fingerprints. They might have left their vehicles exposed too.
* Eliza: We haven’t checked on the paparazzi outside yet and what they may have witnessed, in person or by camera or drone.
* Oleg: Dealing with paparazzi is like wading through sewers, it might be needful sometimes but it is never pleasant
* Monkey: Except that one time that I punched that I got to hit that pushy camera guy, that was more than ‘pleasant’!
“I should probably take a look around outside for evidence — tire patterns or anything like that. And there is the paparazzi outside. We know when the ‘party’ started and ended, perhaps someone could talk with them and see if they saw anything? And by ‘somebody’ I mean Becky, in case that wasn’t obvious. And I should probably try hacking their cameras too, but most would have pictures from last night off in some media host by now, so, well, I’ll try, but the needle in a haystack factor may be large.”
* Oleg: Enough talking, there is a lot to do still.
* Eliza: If I can find tire tracks, I’m sure Al can tell what vehicle they likely come from
* Coleman: and most likely identify them on sight
* Oleg: and probably tell us the name of the tire’s childhood pet and what it had for lunch
Preston did a quick check on his disguise elements, just to be safe, then headed out to the driveway area. He took a good look around for signs of other vehicles, then got busy with his dusts, sprays, and special lights to see if those would reveal anything else about tire tracks.
April 30, 2019 at 5:15 pm #18296
- This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by Beta.
“Yeah, Precious is the right one ta talk ta the photohounds. But let’s git out’n here first, then she can come back. Don’t want her associated with the intrusion into the house,” Al said idly, eyes fixed on the screens. He was bothered by the way the central four players’s movements seemed…off. He’d already sent his agent to gather all the public data it could on Veljanov – he didn’t expect anything directly helpful, but there were always lines to read between.
And now he was trying to figure out what exactly was bugging him about the four main kidnappers….April 30, 2019 at 7:04 pm #18312
“Drones, anthroforms,” was all Lily said as she looked over Al’s shoulder having silently appeared in the safe room…
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