The Found Arcana – Chapter 6 [IC]
OrganizerAugust 6, 2020 at 5:14 pm
Thursday, December 22nd
Bobby had been gone for three weeks now and still hadn’t caught up with Straight Edge and her crew. Though at least he was getting closer – the last message via spirit had indicated that there was a logging camp that was a likely candidate for a bunch of city slickers to take refuge at.
All that was little consolation for SIS: The approaching holidays had brought an upswing in small jobs, but nothing that offered a big payday like those that AM or Jawsey craved. On the plus side, neither had the Halloweeners come around to ask after Bobby.
As usual an CHA+Ettiquette(Corporate) test to see how much of rent you can cover with small jobs: 1000 Nuyen/hit
The ringing of the doorbell awoke the team early – the clock was just shy of 7:00 as the persistent ringing of the diabolical device kept on going.
A look at the camera at the entrance revealed a smartly dressed man with a distinctly British appearance. The main reason for that was either the European cut of his suit, the folded umbrella in his hand or the particularly neat bowler hat the man wore.
He looked to be about 1.80m tall, thin, with a wiry, bushy mustach and very alert and – by now – also impatient look on his face.
MemberAugust 6, 2020 at 9:02 pm
Mato’s sleep regulator means that he only has to sleep 3 hours a night – deep, hard sleep from which it is almost impossible to awake – which is useful when watching the street for Halloweeners. Usually he’ll sleep from 2am to 5am, or 3am to 6am, but he’s been noticing that the Halloweeners are still active at those hours so he’s been pushing it later. This morning he went to bed at 4am and is just waking up when the doorbell starts ringing at 7am.
He staggers out of bed and pulls on a tank top, pushing a hand through his short black hair to straighten it somewhat. He checks the camera feed and sees the unexpected guest.
He tries to wake up a bit, but it’s hard. Yesterday was the solstice, making it the shortest day of the year with the least daylight hours. The sun won’t rise for almost another hour and here’s this bugger in a bowler hat at the front door. Mato will hand it to him for wandering around Touristville in the dark dressed like that.
On top of all that, there’s been plenty to think about. His ancestry for one. It shouldn’t matter but somehow it’s a thorn under his skin. So what? Mato keeps repeating to himself. This other guy didn’t raise me. If it didn’t matter before I knew, why should it matter now? But still he can’t shake the thoughts, which chase him around.
And then there was the story from the rest of the team about the encounter with Green Toes. Mato was not indifferent to the others’ negative experiences, but he can’t help but contemplate the Faustian bargain for himself. Maybe they’re more sensitive to it, as Awakened, he thinks. Would I react the same way? He’s tempted to approach Jawsey as an intermediary to Green Toes, but hasn’t broached the subject yet.
Mato descends the stairs to the front door as the doorbell keeps ringing. He opens the door in his tank top, his black matte cyberarms clearly visible.
“Good morning, sir,” he says, channeling the inner corper etiquette that he learned from his father-not-father. He mentally orders the cyberware scanner in his right arm to scan the man for cyberware and concealed items, namely weapons. “May I invite you in for some tea and toast?”
Yeah, that’s good. Limeys love toast.
OrganizerAugust 6, 2020 at 9:16 pm
With the late sunrise at this time of year, Jawsey’s alarm hadn’t even woken him yet for his morning summoning. He put on his house coat and a grumpy expression, grabbed his link and his sword cane, and thumped his way down toward the door. Mato could certainly get there more quickly, but it was possible that the orc would rather leave one of the others to greet this particular visitor.
Jawsey had only made it two steps down the stairs when he hears Mato greet the man, so he took the opportunity to turn back to his room. On the way he used his link to order the kitchen to turn on the kettle, and once back in his room he pulled on slacks and a sweater. A quick shake of his head to get his hair to fall into place, and he was ready to go (he always wondered how it was that others seemed to have such difficulty with their hair, while his seemed to almost effortlessly fall into place. Maybe this was what people really meant when they gushed about elven hair?).
He messaged Mato <<I’m heating water. I’m guessing tea? You bringing him to the office area or the kitchen?>>
MemberAugust 6, 2020 at 9:27 pm
<<Yeah, tea. Don’t do that herbal stuff that AM likes. It’s early and we need some caffeine. I think there’s some Earl Grey in the cupboard that I bought last time I went to Pike Place Market. Wankers love Earl Grey. Oh, and toast. I promised him toast. I think we have some of those little jam packets that I steal when I go to diners. Hopefully he isn’t expecting crumpets and marmalade. Tossers love marmalade.>>
<<As long as he doesn’t have a cortex bomb in his head, I’ll take him to the office area.>>
OrganizerAugust 6, 2020 at 10:07 pm
Jawsey realized that he’d need extra hands to carry all of his cane, the teapot, mugs, and toast to the office area, so he called up Red Jacket Boy. Fortunately that went well — it seemed that ever since the Funhouse he had been off his game, but it wasn’t that everything had been going badly, just things that paid.
Soon enough the tea was steeping in the pot and the toast was ready, so they gathered everything up and proceeded to the office area.
OrganizerAugust 7, 2020 at 2:12 am
The gentleman gave a little bow that was more a kind of nod and replied:
“Good morning to you too, Sir. Splendit, thank you very much. I very much apologize to intrude upon you this early in the morning, but I am afraid the orders from my master leave very little room for a different approach.”
The cyberware scanner recognizes a datajack – deltaware. Barely. This man has received the best of the best. His movements are – despite his stiff outer appearance – very fluid and Mato recognizes how very alert and perceptive the man scans his surroundings.
“If I may introduce myself: My name is Charles Cunningham and here on behalf of his Lordship Sir Thomas Pike.
Thank you very much for you hospitality. Quite a charming place you have here.”
His dry tone sounded honest and didn’t betray even the tiniest bit of sarcasm that Mato would have suspected otherwise.
“I was fortunate to escape the attention of a bunch of ruffians that beset me on my way here. Your office is in quite a colourful area.”
“This time the fine British sarcasm was clearly there.
MemberAugust 7, 2020 at 8:35 am
While the morning always comes too early for AM’s taste, that specific morning came earlier than usual. Waking before Jawsey’s alarm (damn morning person) felt like a breach of contract with the universe. AM felt exhausted, and she still was desperate for money. The weeks pass, and the dream of scoring 90k in a bounty becomes distant. There are no big jobs for over a month, and at the same time, casual jobs slow down to the point that they are uncommon. The slow month that AM fears since she joined SIS – is this month, and in a week, she needs to pay interest on her debt again. She has no money to do so, and they’ll need to sell the car. The Mafia has no problem liquidating on Christmas.
She raised the issue a week ago, but the rest were unconvinced. Yet, she even contacted the dealership to see how much they could get for each car. It wasn’t enough. They need some luck. Such a streak of bad luck was beyond the mischievous cat’s reach, so no blaming Trouble – even if he does not understands money just yet. She praises Iktomi for that. The Spider has lifted her last month and now tossed her back down this month. One should never feel content for too long.
As a rational person AM thinks that their bad luck may be due to mundane reasons like fewer people got to Turistville after the excessive violence of Crimson Crush and Brain Eaters. Exploding drone assassins, an attack on the police HQ, a night of purging an entire gang. Perhaps these could explain their misfortune, but the other businesses did reasonably well. So she just knows that Iktomi is playing them. She also understands that living with a Spider shaman endangers all of them but they accept her nevertheless – and Bobby has Haloweenes after him, so they are equal troubles. She likes the others (well after 10:00 AM) and wishes that SIS would survive this month.
Different than usual, AM was also exhausted. When babies are born, they sleep like 18 hours a day. Trouble never sleeps, not even 3 hours a day like Mato. AM never felt a need to make Trouble need sleep. She did not design him that way – he is spirit-like because the spirits are the perfect manifestation of Sapient beings. She is horrified to understand what a monster she crafted. Trouble is worse than a “Morning person.” He asks tons of questions, and while he is as smart as an adult, he is like a child, everything is new to him and he is excited from existing. He is impatient sometimes and struggles to understand why AM sleeps and he does not. What is the logic behind that? He tends to ask trivialities at odd hours. Always with a sense of urgency, and genuine curiosity.
Trouble saw the man from the other side of the street where he astrally explored. He followed him home, and as the man knocks, he materialized on AM’s lap. Jawsey runs to the door, and AM smiles at the cat and asks, “What is it, sweetie?”“You stroke, I explain.” he orders, and obediently AM strokes his black fur. Somehow that makes her less bitter for being awake (is he be taking care of her?) Trouble hurls in satisfaction, and he says, “There is a man at the door, and I think he will give you money.” “Nobody just gives you money, even on Christmas.” she responds patiently. “No, it is a job silly… Get dressed. Quickly, I want to see what it feels like. “ The cat has never seen a *good* job, so AM is not that thrilled but she feels better after speaking to her baby.
She gets ready quickly and asks for his help with the charisma spell. He is very helpful, and as a potential mage, he should practice. When she opens the door, the cat runs ahead of AM, and then hugs Jawsey’s leg, signaling to other cats that Jawsey is his human. Not that there are other cats in SIS, but Trouble is never certain if someone is a cat or not (and he never met Bobby). He suspects them for being cats, and he learned that thing he does to Jawsey from a nature movie he watched yesterday. AM is uncertain if Trouble really suspects everyone for being a cat, or if it is the beginning of a very strange sense of humor. She does not compel him to tell her, and she suspects that it would be difficult to say since he is such an unusual creation.
AM follows slower and studier lacking the agility of cats “Hey there, Coffee?” she asks, and does not look for an answer – Coffee at 7:00 AM is a rhetorical question. She boils the water and then Introduces herself as “Amy” to the stranger. Somehow she is less cranky than usual, perhaps it is the adorable cat, but she is tired.
MemberAugust 7, 2020 at 1:00 pm
“It’s no intrusion at all,” Mato murmurs distractedly, simultaneously intrigued and envious about the deltaware. Not that he has any need for a datajack but, c’mon… deltaware! Although he does enjoy a bit of reflected glory that his cyberscanner was even able to pick it up.
<<Deltaware datajack>> he DNIs AM and Jawsey. <<¥¥¥! Add an extra zero to any numbers that get discussed.>>
“Right this way, Mr. Cunningham. I am not personally familiar with Sir Pike but my partners are more worldly than I am.” Mato is aware that he looks like the dumb ork jock in a tank top, although he once secret watched Horizon’s miniseries production of Pride & Prejudice while all the others were asleep.
Mato offers the nicest chair in the conference room, which is the one with the fewest nicks and cuts. Then he takes a seat himself and makes some small talk while the refreshments are brought in. He allows a sly smile at the dry British wit, which he truly appreciates. “Yes, this is the dodgy end of the Metroplex, I grant you. It appears you dispatched the ruffians with little ado. You do not appear the least bit pipped.”
MemberAugust 7, 2020 at 2:03 pm
Receiving the messages, AM straightens up and feels better. She’ll arrive shortly with Jawsey carrying a tray of coffee/tee to anyone that wants it, some toast as Mato promised.
OrganizerAugust 7, 2020 at 6:32 pm
“You are most kind.” It’s left open to interpretation to which of your comments this is in answer, but Mr. Cunningham seems to be grateful for the tea.
“Your agency was recommended to his Lordship through the mayor of this lovely city. She mentioned that you are as a whole very resourceful and talented where information gathering is concerned as well as acting on said information.
His Lordship would like to retain your services during the coming weeks. I assume, you likely are intending to close down for the holidays, but it is just at this time of great cheer and festivities that we are in need of your abilities.
You see, his Lordship intents to stay during the holidays on the west coast at his mansion in Snowhomish and has invited his friends and – I have to say – acquaintances to celebrate with him. Most important though, he intends to propose to his longtime fiance Maria Josefina Isabela Marta Alfonsa Elena Ludovica Carlotta de Borbón y Parade, Duchess of Sevilla. As you can imagine there is an awfull many things to be done and considered – not least of which is the protection of the ring of engagement.
The ring will carry the re-cut Blue Admiral – the famous gem stone liberated from the hoard of Alamais after his defeat through Lofwyr. An absolutely priceless artifact.
Of course, we arranged immediately for a contingent of MET2000 security specialists to ensure the safety of both stone and betrothed, but we deemed it prudent to also take on an agency, intimately familiar with the local environment. The… exclusivity of your outfit should guarantee that you are not burdened with a conflict of interest like some other, larger firms that I was talking to.”
MemberAugust 7, 2020 at 7:45 pm
Mato blinks languidly. He hadn’t contemplated taking the holidays off but it’s certainly something to leverage during negotiations to scare the price up a bit. And why would the socialist mayor of Redmond be connected – either socially or professionally – to His Lordship? Or perhaps it was the mayor’s companion that provided the recommendation, if His Lordship has certain … connections that allow him access to the proceeds of a Great Dragon’s horde…
Mato is also uncertain why SIS would be intimately familiar with Snohomish, but he won’t disabuse Mr. Cunningham of the notion. He does crack a smile at the “exclusivity” of the SIS.
“You are too kind,” Mato muses.
He holds his hands up to the surrounding HQ. “I am certain you have noticed that we are a small shop. A scalpel, not a sword. We are sharp and discrete, and most effective in matters of precision.
“May we speak in particulars?” he transitions. “Were you considering an open-ended engagement – staff augmentation, if you will – or would this be more of the managed services model, where we deliver a specific outcome? A retainer versus a project, if you will.
“I note your use of the word ‘acquaintances’, which suggests a lesser degree of familiarity with certain guests. Are these acquaintances the subjects of this inquiry? Perhaps some due diligence is in order.”
OrganizerAugust 7, 2020 at 8:03 pm
Jawsey laid 60/40 odds with himself that this was some sort of elaborate con job — but he figured less than ten percent that it was aimed at them. He resolved to try and negotiate for staggered payments so that if writers did suddenly vanish, SIS already had a good chunk of Nuyen in hand.
But he kept his face straight, nodded along, and when the man paused for reaction said “While you did arrive uncommonly early for these colorful environs, you were indeed well advised to reach out quickly as holiday scattering was imminent. Canceling plans at this stage would certainly cause disappointment. A present, no matter how generous, won’t make up for the lack of a loved face.”
He broke his rhythm to ask “More tea? No?” In the process picking up the tea pot, putting down the tea pot, and flashing the Sioux sign for “Careful. “
“But it does sound like your business is not the sort than can wait, and we certainly appreciate the confidence that the mayor has in us. And ultimately we are a business. Let us say ‘an arrangement is certainly possible’, and discuss more what you would have us do?”
MemberAugust 7, 2020 at 11:12 pm
The man that entered their seating area appears like an alien. Her first idea is I wonder if someone is stealing our silverware right now, this feels like a distraction. She observes the man carefully and sends Tatanka to keep watch of the house for safety. She drinks the cup of coffee, enjoying its warmth, and listens to the conversation. Nodding in agreement when Jawsey suggests their holiday plans.
How miserable I am that I have no plans for the holidays… but it was no time for self-pity. They have no silverware and the Haloweeners would not send such a man as a distraction. She is unused to people taking so long to say what they want, but her intuition is that haggling right now sends the wrong message. She listens in to the story and waits for the man to get to the point.
[spoiler] Strangely, I gestured that I’d know what to say in Hebrew but not in English in this situation. [/spoiler]
OrganizerAugust 8, 2020 at 2:42 am
“Ah, yes, the American entrepreneural spirit. Good, good, to business then.
Yes, I am of course hessitant to critisize to whom his lordship extends his hospitality, but I have the strong personal feeling that not all of the “new friends” are exactly what they seem to be. They have of course passed a SIN test, but I am aware that well crafted identities can be purchased for comparatively little expense. If anything, his lordship is too generous and too trusting for his own good.
The “project” as you call it would be for your team to come to the mansion disguised as additional help and discreetly screen our guests for bad faith and bad intent. As his Lordships manservant you’d report directly to me.
The threat should be contained on January 1st, as the Duchess has in generally a straight head on her shoulders and will likely send her new ring straight to a secure vault. The planned extended yacht travel will also alleviate most concerns for personal security.”
AM notices that at no time he has explicitly stated that his master actually has authorized this additional security measure. It sounds much more as if the dutiful servant is acting here on his own initiative. Which might explain the early hours of his visit, when his master is likely still asleep.
“For the successful discharge or these duty’s I’m prepared to offer you 50.000 Nuyen, in addition to the wages you’ll receive as hired help and potential tipps you might earn from the guests.”
MemberAugust 8, 2020 at 12:22 pm
AM texts mentally her thoughts >> Notice that he may not have the permission to hire us, so if we’re unofficial I’d try to get an advance in case his Lordship would not honor the deal, and to verify that the offer is real. Also, the terms of payment should be clarified e.g., if all goes well and the ring is not stolen then we get paid. I’ll let Jawsey lead, and I’ll follow.
To buy some time she says “I see, there are a few issues to discuss but first, let’s understand your offer. What kind of wages do help get in these events? What about the dress code, I assume we may need new clothes or uniforms? Do we get these from you or do we need to buy them, what about documents – will we really be hired as help through one of your suppliers or do we need to invent some documents?”
OrganizerAugust 8, 2020 at 12:47 pm
“Ah, that depends on the station of the help as well as there talents and capabilities. There are quite a lot of intricacies, but basically, the more visible you are to guests and family, the higher your pay. Our basic scullery personell is awarded with 10 Nuyen an hour and likely no tipps. That is of course entry level for unskilled labor.
Topp of the ladder are personell assistants and confidants to his Lordship with yearly salaries at 180k plus perks.
Depending on which role you can fullfill, you should be looking at something between 800 and 5000 Nuyen for a week of work.
To be more specific, what kind of practical work are you familiar with? There is always demand for Maids of course. You,” he nodds at Mato “would probably be able to fullfill the duties of a Chasseur or a Hall Porter. Maybe even a Stable Hand or an Under-Butler.
If you excell in technical work, the job as wire-maid or wire-boy could also be available.”
Cunningham harrumphed and continued: “Of course, I’d prefer if you could fullfill a visible duty that allowed you to stay close to the guests and learn about them while also keeping an eye on everyone else.
Me introducing you to the servants will take care of most problems to your standing, though I have to warn you, that you will in turn be watched with hawklike scrutiny. So to high a station could be come quite a strain to your cover.”
MemberAugust 8, 2020 at 1:14 pm
AM says “We’ll need to figure out an assignment that satisfies the requirements of the job. Let’s see if we can do that, and discuss the price when we have all the details about your offer. Alternatively, if you are in a hurry we can guesstimate for negotiation, and figure it out on our own. Whichever you feel is best.
I am a tech specialist, hacker, and sorcerer. On SIS I mainly gather information with magic and with technology. As a cover, I am familiar with games of chance, can socialize, and can also fix electric things. Not sure how these are useful for hired help, she says with a smile amused by the term A wire-maid?
OrganizerAugust 8, 2020 at 5:08 pm
Jawsey explains “My skills are best on the astral plane, but I presume you already have astral security engaged? In fact we’ll need to know about the astral security, with two of us being awakened. As for other roles, I’m not the best for being on my feet all day I’m afraid — old back injury that never healed up right. But I am fairly fluent in Spanish, as well as Japanese and Russian, and I can get by well enough in Sperethiel, Haida, and Lakota, should you have visitors from the Tirs or certain Native Nations. And generally I can take on any role fairly well. If there is a need for someone to help coordinate guest activities or anything like that it would be perfect; if not I’ll defer to your judgement.“
“When it comes to payment, for a situation like this we’ll need to set up payment intervals, perhaps an advance and another amount every couple of days, with a larger amount on final success. Perhaps a third on completion, a sixth initially, and a quarter at each of, oh, the 25th and 28th?“
OrganizerAugust 9, 2020 at 3:54 am
“Excellent. I’ll set you up as a Wire Maid then. Your job will entail to help with running the guest host, providing the guests with AR directions, keeping their devices running when they experience trouble and provide them with a good VR and AR experience overall.
I’ll set up Mr. Mato with the Master of the Hunt as a Chasseur. This job entails in part house security patroling the halls and assisting guests and family with anything that requires a strong arm. I’ll need your measurements to provide you with a fitting uniform – representing at dinner will also be one of your duties. That should give you good access to the grounds, halls and cellars.
As for you: With an injury, most of the physically demanding jobs will be right out. But I think I can get you in as the Under-Courier. You’ll be tasked with providing logistical help – organizing transportation both on and off site. Likewise you’ll be asked to interpret and ferry messages between the guests – if they chose to avail themselves of more traditional methods of communications. As the Courier himself is also our arcane specialist, you might be asked to maintain the wards and at times manifest along the corridors to provide a friendly haunting.
All three of those positions are salaried at 6000, so for one week you should receive 1500 – in addition to the tipps our guests might award you for good work.
You’ll be in perfect position to secure mundane, magic and matrix. Perfect.
It seems the mayor’s aid did indeed know what he was talking about when he recommended you.”
Cunningham expressed in unexcited satisfaction.
MemberAugust 9, 2020 at 12:49 pm
Mato blinks, not knowing what most of those positions entail. He likes the sound of “Master of the Hunt” but isn’t quite sure what a “chasseur” is. In cooking it’s a compound brown sauce, but he’s reasonably certain (mostly, pretty sure) that he’s not being assigned to the kitchen. Although his knife skills are impeccable…
“Good. Very good. Capital, capital,” he agrees distractedly, his mind racing with various possibilities. “Proper livery. The clothes oft proclaim the man.”
He tries to think of his measurements, adjusting for his recent gains in mass. “Chest 105cm, length 185cm, collar 41cm…” he recites somewhat remotely, “although I imagine the tailor will want to take in the sides of the shirt and jacket… darting restricts certain movements…”
Most of this is more to himself, although Cunningham may understand it better than most.
The line about the ‘mayor’s aide’ caught his attention. He filed it away for the moment.
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