In the Shadows of Venus

Session 12 -- Starfire Consortium Arcology

A strange memeplex and stranger people...

During the first couple of days Satori spends the time investigating established memes and looking for evidence of brainwashing or other larger-scale activity. He’s able to find evidence of some larger-scale meme structure that some of the smaller ideas may contribute towards but needs more time to ascertain its full scope. IQ spends his time walking around mapping security posts and finding cameras. IQ is able to determine there are a number of obviously-placed cameras that are meant to be noticed. He also is able to infer that there should be quite a few concealed cameras as well for observation, although not as many hidden ones are present than in normal places. This would be due to the security system being able to tap into citizens’ visual feeds. He’s also able to determine the security officers who walk around are actually just everyday residents assigned to the task who are not professional security and who likely received minimal training. IQ is also able to determine that security is armed with electrolasers or vortex pistols. The people of the arcology compose a spectrum from almost-normal to quite socially inept. He also notices a curious lack of cybershells which he can attribute to the desire to provide employment and purpose to the citizens as opposed to utilizing cybershells for it.

While waiting for Aleksy Spencer lets loose his forensic crawler swarm to begin going over the room, which will take hours to complete. Meanwhile he begins looking over Finley’s room. From what he can tell from his Criminology background it looks like a fight happened in the room but that the room was not intentionally searched and ransacked. Finley has a cable jack on his body but Spencer finds his computer implants have no power and would require some minor surgery to reactivate. Finley is wearing normal casual clothing, which might indicate he didn’t just come home from work. There are no signs of forced entry. From the overall condition of the place it looks like he wasn’t in the middle of something when this happened. No lights were left on. Based on the amount of destruction in the room it looks like there wasn’t a huge struggle during the fight, although a medical exam might determine more. Spencer tries to look for hidden storage areas and can’t find anything, although he apparently is rather poor at doing so.

Shortly after Aleksy shows up with Hunter. Spencer introduces Hunter to our contact, Finley Wood. Hunter looks the body over and is able to determine that Finley died at about 2am that day. Cause of death was from strangulation by smothering but he has several blunt force traumas to his face along with some defensive wounds on his hands. Hunter is also able to detect an injection site on his left arm. It also looks like the blunt trauma was in an effort to subdue him, at which point he received the injection and was then strangled. Hunter runs his blood with a diagnostic nanoprobe, which takes about two hours to complete. When it completes he’s able to determine he was injected with a nano-drug – a form of truth serum brainbug – that concentrated in his brain.

Meanwhile Aleksy searches the rooms as well for anything odd that stands out to him but doesn’t identify anything.
He takes a moment to place a surveillance nanobot in the hallway outside to give early warning if someone is coming.

From the forensics swarms we determine that, besides Finley, one other DNA sequence can be found in the room belonging to a Hecate-class bioroid, which are used in hazardous-cleanup or construction jobs but otherwise not much else. They have an extremely short lifespan (one quarter of a normal person) and organizations that employ them usually suffer protests on moral grounds for this “disposable” person. As such it’s odd for one to be present in this environment. Hecate bioroids have a distinctive appearance – notably yellow skin and ugly. We also realize this kind of bioroid is legal with specialized work permits only. Likely this kind of bioriod is in use by the construction areas down below in the habitat.

Overall we spend about three or four hours in the room. When it’s time to depart we all leave separately so it doesn’t look like we were there in a group. Before leaving Spencer, Hunter and Aleksy agree on some kind of code phrase we can email to the entire cohort (of which we’re all a member) in case of emergency. Spencer repairs the signs of forced entry on the door mechanisms.

IQ walks around town for a bit and talks to the night view.

All of us take various measures to secure our rooms at night if/when we sleep. Spencer puts his travelling trunk in front of his door, places some trinkets to step on in front of the door. At times that Spencer leaves his room he also leaves a hair, feather or some other light object in such a place that it would be disturbed if the door was opened and/or someone enters the room while he’s out.

During the night all of us (or our AI’s if we have them monitor audio) make hearing rolls. Silvie (for Spencer) and Satori make the roll and detect their door has opened by the barest of margins. As the apartment is a studio we can see the door but Spencer isn’t able to detect anything. He stays still in bed and gets ready with his pistol, but takes no further action. After about five minutes the door closes. Spencer sneaks over to the door but doesn’t immediately see anything that was left for him. A bug sweep of the room doesn’t detect anything. Spencer runs his forensic nanoswarm on the inside of his door (not on the hallway) and then the rest of the room. He’s able to find a very tiny tracking device planted on one of his shoes. Spencer takes care to wear that pair of shoes to events that he’s expected to be at or that are legitimate.

The next day we all go to a scheduled official session. Afterwards IQ invites our entire cohort to go to lunch, which most of the group does. IQ lets us know at lunch he’s chosen to leave the camera in his room on. After we go our separate ways. Hunter and Aleksy spot they’re being followed although Spencer doesn’t detect anyone. Later on Hunter feels someone come up to him and bump him in the crowd in a more-than-coincidental way. Hunter realizes something is up and believes he’s been bugged. He begins gesticulating to the rest of us about it; most of us are able to figure out what’s going on. Back in his room Hunter is able to locate two bugs on his clothing but can’t determine what they do.

That evening Aleksy decides to go to an entertainment area via some direct, main-hub routes in case he picks up another tail. He doesn’t this time around, however. While hanging out at a nightclub Aleksy does take notice of somebody watching him. He leaves the establishment later on and is not followed that he can tell.

IQ decides to sign up for a full tour of the habitat, an AR-guided tour that will show him just about everything. At the construction site they don’t make a secret of their utilization of Hecate bioroids. The AI guide indicates they’re employees, owned by the Starfire consortium (who owns the habitat).

Hunter drops by to see Spencer about the bug he found on him. Spencer is able to determine that it’s homemade from readily-available materials in the arcology. Considering that a second bug that Hunter found on him was minifactured it seems odd that the other was more crude. Hunter tries to go somewhere more isolated in the Arcology, reading a book for a few hours while Spencer shadows him in the distance. He’s hoping somebody contacts him but nothing happens that night.

The next day (the 8th) is a free day without any “orientation” session in the morning. Hunter schedules a tour of the medical facilities to have a look around and investigate a bit further. Spencer takes a tour of the gardening/agricultural areas, posing as that being a particular area of interest to him. Aleksy decides to go to the kitchen that Finley Wood worked at with the goal of speaking with some of its other employees about him. While out and about Aleksy sees the same person he noticed was following him at the nightclub. The person gestures that he’s left a note for Aleksy at his table. Aleksy goes over to the table later and finds a data cube among some other sugar cubes. Aleksy decides to take a look at the cube that night, finding that it contains only an address and a date (the evening of the 10th).

That night (the 8th) Hunter finishes his review of the Arcology residency agreement. He notes a disturbing number of basic rights are given over to the organization. There are a number of clauses that provide pre-consent for medical procedures to be performed on residents after moving in, including being subject to memetic experiments as well. The other odd thing is that after signing the agreement to join the facility only the management can terminate the agreement to stay (i.e. grant approval to leave). Cue scary music.

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