In the Shadows of Venus

Session 11 -- A Reporter Missing in Action

The Starfire Consortium Arcology

A month passes; it’s now March 4th. Aleksy and Spencer each take three weeks of paid vacation as recovery time for various surgeries. The remainder of us all take some small cases on our own or in smaller groups each week to stay busy.

Emma gathers us together once again for an online meeting at 5pm that day. Even Satori shows up and says some obscure Asian quotes. Emma indicates that the client is a well-known one willing to pay “top dollar.” She states that they requested a team able to get in and out of rough places and, based on our recent experience, that includes us.

We are instructed to open our data packets. The client is named Public Disclosers, Inc. They’re a large communications and media organization. We all recognize the name of the missing person, a reporter named Rachel Morris. She went MIA while in the vicinity of a large pyramidal arcology near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Her normal form is a Diana-class parahuman but she was altered for her current assignment. Her alias is Victoria Arnold. She acted upon an anonymous tip from someone claiming to live in the Starfire Consortium arcology as she believed a story was to be had. Her initial visit was supposed to be for 30 days, under cover as a normal reporter doing an expose on the lifestyle and functioning of the arcology; this was done with the blessing of their management. She was ultimately investigating people being held against their will and having their minds poisoned by someone on the inside. She took with her five drones with which to report back on her progress.

January 25th her first drone reported back positive progress and integration.
The next drone was sent Feb 15th, giving a short message recorded in haste that she realized she was onto something but needed more time; she indicated she’d report again shortly.
On Feb 28th another report arrived that she’s in trouble and that she wanted help sent. She requested that whomever came for her should ask for “Finley Wood”. She indicated that arcology security should not be contacted.

Ultimately all of us investigators are convinced the entire arcology is working to mulch the unwanted miscreants of society, sweeping them under the rug by turning them into human fertilizer. We figure that this is what’s happening to all of the people who are being “held against their will” and whose minds are being “poisoned.” Soilent Green is their new major export.

The arcology’s basic structure: (map that I haven’t uploaded yet)

The Starfire Consortium contains 20,000 residents in this area which extends some distance underground. There’s a large robofactory underneath. Power is by way of a fusion plant as well as solar power. The arcology also features an atypical social structure. They are quite insular and have extremely limited outside interaction. Residents move there in order to give up having to make many decisions. In exchange for giving up much autonomy the ruling AI’s of the arcology instead take over and place people such to create meaningful living and a place in their society. The arcology is ultimately under Canadian law but inside it’s extremely strict. Security within the arcology is mainly done by actual people although AI’s are used to monitor security checkpoints for entry to the actual facility.

IQ is provided a cyberdoll for this expedition to circumvent the lack of internet communications in the arcology. Carlos brings some backup storage large enough to back himself up during our stay inside.

Four days have elapsed since receiving the last message. Our professionally-created cover for bringing in lots of weapons and explosives investigating her disappearance is that we can pose as individuals on a 30-day trial period of residency there, a normal procedure. During the trial period we can live like everyone else does except without having a companion AI like normal residents. While heavy security is present in the intake areas their scanners can be spoofed, based on the information in our briefing packets, and Argus will provide us with smuggling equipment for this purpose. We can get an attaché bag, a travel case or a large trunk. While doing so is not without some risk there’s a reasonable chance of getting things. 10% of the weight of each trunk can contain smuggled gear. Argus will also let us borrow equipment we want for a 10% deposit.

Once we get all our gear packed up we take a train to Prince Albert. We stop and get piercings for novelty sake. Before entering the Arcology we also hire a getaway car and an AI driver on standby, just in case we need to summon someone in a hurry. IQ, who downloads the smuggling skill, downloads smuggling skill and spends several hours packing our gear into our smuggling containers. IQ manages to critically succeed on his smuggling check (rolling a 4) and does Han Solo proud with his smuggling work. He manages to make Spencer’s armored clothing look like a fuzzy bathrobe and the plastic explosives look like rubber duckies.

We decide to enter the arcology separately as Hunter determines in his expert psychological opinion that loners are generally the ones who enter the arcology and, thus, showing up in a group would be more suspicious. 0-10 people per day usually enter for their 30-day trial so it wouldn’t look too odd if we enter between one to two days.

We enter the arcology successfully. We arrive in a huge atrium area which spans two stories. Many signs are around welcoming us to the place. It’s still under construction somewhat as well, as it’s been for a long time. We enter over the course of two days and settle in, so by March 6th we’ve all arrived. Aleksy and Spencer are on the same floor as are IQ and Carlos. Satori and Hunter are on their own floors. We bug sweep our rooms and find none. The cameras in our rooms are not turned on; just the same, Spencer covers the lens of his camera. We are all put into a cadre of new residents seeking to be acclimated to the new environment.

Prior to us entering the arcology we all agree on a method for communicating messages to each other non-electronically. This would be done using old-school information drops and a cipher that’s kept by the NAI’s in our head.

We immediately notice the population is a bit weird. Some are “normal” while others are almost robotic in how they go about their lives. People have heavy AR feeds that guide them through the day. Some people even get puppet implants and sit passively and watch.

IQ adopts the cover name Quincy Isaacs. Hunter becomes Sam Welton. Aleksy will be known as Viktor Ivanov. Spencer chooses to go by Walt Fineberg. Carlos will be named Manuel Jesus Ortega.

Finley Wood is a chef who has been in the arcology for about four years. He considers himself “assimilated,” which means that about 60% or more of his daily decisions are done by AI. As a chef he provides the kind of food that might be provided as “room service.” Via the arcology’s computer systems we locate him and gather his home address. Spencer and Aleksy go together to visit him that evening. We knock on the door but there’s no answer. With Aleksy standing to block the camera Spencer unscrews a faceplate and injects a surveillance cyberswarm. The feed we get of the swarm shows the apartment is quite a mess. A dead body lies in the middle of the floor, unmoving.

Spencer makes like he’s knocking again and this time breaks into the security system of the door and unlocks it. Spencer replaces the missing faceplate and we both enter, closing the door behind us. We think Finley Wood is the dead body, although his face has been pummeled. The camera in the room has its lens covered (apparently normal in this environment) although the audio feed may still be working. After getting into the room Spencer releases his forensic swarm.

Finley is quite dead and based on the bruising around his neck he was strangled. Spencer writes a note to Aleksy to go get Hunter, which he does. Meanwhile Spencer continues working in the room.

List of Items brought in by PC:

What do people bring in? (concealed items)

Aleksy (16.7 lbs)

Survelience crawler swarms, 2 lbs
Vibroknife, 1.5 lbs
Electrolaser, 2.2 lbs (1 extra B cell)
Nanoweave sneak bodysuit*, 10 lbs
Zap Gloves, 1 lb

IQ (13.1 lbs)

Bug sweeper, 5 lbs
Plasma torch (cuts through arcology walls), 5 lbs
Electronics Repair Mini Toolkit, 2 lbs
Hyperspectal Visor, .6 lbs
ESM Detector, .25 lbs
Sonic Probe, .25 lbs

Hunter (9.2 lbs)

Electrolaser, 2.2 lbs
Heavy Pistol, 3 lbs
2 pistol clips, 1 lb
3 lbs Plastex-B, 3 lbs

Spencer (32 lbs)

Cyberswarm hive and cyberswarms, 9lbs
Covert Ops Pistol, 1.5lbs
4 clips ammo (AP), 2lbs
Electrolaser pistol, 2.2lbs
Nanoweave sneak bodysuit*, 10lbs
Tailored armored trousers, jacket, gloves, 5.8lbs
Neuroglove, .5lbs
Variable Lockpick, neg.
Electronic Lockpick, .2lbs
Signal drones (like Rachel used)
Electronic thumb

Carlos (7.9 lbs)

Pistol + silencer, 3.5lbs
4 clips (AP), 2.0lbs
Electrolaser pistol, 2.2lbs
Knives (2x), 2lbs

Equipment Detail:

*Nanoweave sneak bodysuit
medium nanoweave bodysuit 1,350
multispectral chameleon 4,000
smart grip 500
Gecko Pads (x4) 4,000
Trauma Maintenance 2,000
Tactical Harness (Fine) 600
TOTAL 11,400

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