In the Shadows of Venus

Session 13--Things Get Rough

Invisible silent spiderbots are hilarious

Aleksy drops by Spencer’s to inform him of the data cube. Spencer attempts to analyze it for metadata on the device to give any additional information he can glean on who sent it. He’s able to determine that the file was created about three hours prior to its delivery. He also is able to determine that the data cube was written to by a wearable VII of some kind. No other metadata is available. Spencer attempts to look for the remains of deleted data but there isn’t anything recoverable on it. While he’s there Spencer checks him over for bugs and finds one adhered to his pants. At Aleksy’s request he removes it and leaves it in Aleksy’s apartment.

Spencer and Aleksy decide to go scope out the meeting area beforehand. As it turns out the data cube contains an AR mapping application to their destination. They take a circuitous route to the meeting location. On the path at a secured door the AR program supplies credentials for us to access it. As they near the meeting site the area of the arcology begins to look more and more decrepit. It’s possible that people have been taking components or getting into access panels in the area and the damage hasn’t been repaired. The map leads to a locked door at the end of a long hallway.
The map indicates to go through the door but it doesn’t seem to open at this time.

As the hallway and door represent a horrible tactical position we leave some surveillance bugs at the end of the hallway to give advance warning of bad guys showing up.

Hunter and IQ get out and about that same day, walking around the area. IQ decides to play games with security, shadowing them, and Hunter walks around town. IQ also is wardriving (on foot, that is), looking for wireless networks that are smaller or don’t seem to be part of the “official” infrastructure. He’s able to detect some burst transmissions happening from four people in a small vicinity who appear to be just going about their everyday tasks. They don’t look to be interrelated in any way except by these transmissions. IQ records the transmissions and takes visual recordings of them.

That evening Satori finally finishes his meme analysis, the product of a number of days’ continuous work. He’s able to see that there’s an exposure rate of about 100%, not surprising given the enclosed environment of the arcology. The remarkable fact is that penetration rate – the rate at which people buy into the meme – is around 70%, which is extremely high, even suspiciously so. The meme has main concepts like not questioning authority, letting others make decisions for you, and other submissive themes – all very well-tailored to the population. Based on the nature of the memes there’s nothing about them that should give them the effectiveness they’re displaying. Satori begins looking into what additional factor might contribute to the memes’ high effectiveness. He’s able to conclude that, for some reason, the population’s ability to resist some memes has become eroded. One possibility would be the use of some kind of brainbug drugs. They could be delivered via any number of different unobtrusive routes.

We fast forward to the meeting tonight with the mystery people. Slightly beforehand Satori shares the results of his research with us. Spencer provides a blood sample to Hunter to test for brainbugs. Hunter isn’t able to find any in his own body

We head out for the meeting. Spencer is packing his pistol and electrogloves, both concealed. Aleksy and Hunter bring an electrolaser and some electrogloves. Hunter also brings along his actual pistol. We all bring our hyperspectral goggles too, concealed. We go in the previously-sealed door, which opens this time. The room is faintly lit. Hunter releases a surveillance cyberrswarm and has them advance into the room to take a look. The room is sparsely furnished and some of the wall panels look to have been torn up. Aleksy, via the augmented reality program, sees a message to go inside, which we do; the door closes behind.

A burst of static comes through our auditory systems as some kind of bug-scrambling device comes on. A door on the opposite side of the room opens and four men come out. The first that comes out has what looks like a shotgun while the next two have electrolasers. The fourth looks to be unarmed. They’re dressed like residents of the arcology. The lights slowly raise; the room clearly has all surveillance equipment removed and the camera system is somehow spliced into a portable computer. A table moves itself into the center of the room for us along with chairs. They invite us to sit down.

The one who does the talking appears slightly shifty and somewhat nondescript; they seem to be slightly paranoid in their manners and body language. He introduces himself as Joshua.

Joshua immediately wants to know why we were in Finley’s room; Hunter lies that he knew him on the outside of the Arcology but not convincingly enough as Joshua spots the lie, calling Hunter by his cover name. Hunter counters asking why they asked us to the meet. Joshua gets annoyed at Hunter’s evasiveness and asks Aleksy instead, who says that we were investigating his disappearance. Joshua asks why but Aleksy asks for quid pro quo, that we need some information as to who we’re talking to first. We go back and forth with him a few times, continuing with the paranoia and their reluctance to divulge any information to us that might give us a clue to whether we should trust them. Spencer continues on the same theme with them. Eventually Joshua decides that he’s heard enough and this is going nowhere and that we’re done. We get up and leave the room and head outside.

We make it back to our rooms. Spencer scans himself for bugs and finds none. He downloads the recording of the meeting he produced and leaves it at the dead drop location. He looks some of the individuals from the meeting up in the arcology’s computer system but isn’t able to locate them. The apartment in question shows up as vacant. The night then passes uneventfully for the most part.

Aleksy awakens around 2:30am to find a small spider-ish robot on his arm injecting something into him. He flails the thing off him and promptly loses muscle control and falls back to the bed, paralyzed. Two men in security uniforms take him out of bed and prop him up in a chair. He’s able to see their facial expressions are, oddly, completely blank. One of them walks over and injects Aleksy with something else in the other arm. He briefly feels a bit fuzzy-headed and has an intense desire to tell the truth but his guardian nanomachines take over and he’s back in control of his faculties.

He’s asked in a flat, featureless voice what his name is. Aleksy is able to lie and tell them his cover name. He’s asked what his purpose is there and he lies again that he’s there to see the Arcology. The voice asks him what the interest was in Finley Wood. He responds that the man was recently murdered; the question repeats, asking him why he visited the apartment. Aleksy responds that he knew him from outside the Arcology. The voice declares the answer unsatisfactory. After a short pause they..time rewinds as the universe takes a big retcon.

Aleksy awakens around 2:30am to find a small spider injecting something on his arm. He throws it off and briefly feels a loss of muscle control. However after a second or two he regains control of his body in time to see two security guards walking into his room. As they walk over to him Aleksy kicks at one of them, aiming for his groin, and strikes him squarely. He goes down hard. The other one lunges at Aleksy but fails to reach him. Aleksy rolls out of bed, squatting on the other side of it. The bad guy tries to dive and reach him over the bed but fails miserably, flopping facedown on the bed. Aleksy savagely introduces his fist into the back of the man’s head and he falls limp, unconscious. The previously nutted guard begins standing up. Aleksy comes to his feet as the other guy does. A swift kick to the guard’s already tenderized nuts drops him again. He spends a second experiencing pain like he’s never known before. Aleksy grapples the man and the two begin wrestling. After several seconds of fighting Aleksy is able to pin him and effectively subdue him. Aleksy bashes his head until he stops struggling and goes limp. He narrowly avoids killing him by pulling his punch.

Spencer shows up a short time later but Aleksy already has the men in hand. The guards have nanoweave vests and cufftape on them as well as a syringe of the “truth serum.” One has an electrolaser while the other has a vortex pistol. We cufftape them and prepare to remove their uniforms for later use as disguises.

Interrupting us, the door slides open. We see one small robot skitter into the room, although we have difficulty seeing or hearing them; they employ some kind of camouflage. Aleksy goes for his gun while Spencer retreats towards the rear of the apartment. The creatures advance. Aleksy grabs his pistol and readies it. Spencer moves around behind him and fires off three shots from his pistol, striking the visible one and destroying it. They advance again; Spencer is able to hear one approach Aleksy while he does not. Aleksy retreats again. Spencer steps back slightly and looks carefully for the creatures, locating one just as it jumps at him. He tries to fend it off but is unable to parry it away as it jumps onto him and injects him with something. Spencer drops again, paralyzed. Meanwhile Aleksy is attacked by one, who successfully stabs him. The poison has little effect on him, however, and he’s only frozen for a few seconds. Aleksy gets up and gets a message from Spencer that this sucks. Aleksy hears the creatures leaving for now, having dispensed their doses.

Hunter arrives shortly after. We determine quickly that security forces will probably come down on us shortly so we need to get out of there. Aleksy dresses and grabs equipment and they head down to Spencer’s apartment to grab his gear. While Spencer recovers from paralysis Aleksy and Hunter grab all of the gear worth caring about (Spencer’s smuggled-in gear).

While they work to gather it all the door opens and a woman in a nightgown appears and, in a flat voice, directs us to stop and wait for processing. Hunter fires his electrolaser pistol but misses. Aleksy is a better shot and despite her trying to lurch out of the way his shot hits but fails to stun her, despite a nasty burn. She charges in towards Aleksy, brandishing a kitchen knife she had behind her back, barely missing him. Aleksy is surprised by the attack and makes a clumsy attempt to parry her attack. He recovers quickly to grab her arm and lock it with a secure lock. Hunter shoots her with his electrolaser in the back while she’s occupied with Aleksy; this time she goes down from the shock. Hunter cufftapes and blindfolds her and then resumes gathering equipment along with Aleksy. Hunter takes a quick look at Spencer and, while he can’t immediately determine what’s wrong with him, he figures that they just have to wait out the effects of whatever he’s under. Hunter tries injecting Spencer with Purge chemicals to try and revive him sooner but it doesn’t immediately work. A few more minutes elapse (four, to be specific, before the paralysis wears off) when they’re done packing.

We all get three character points while Aleksy gets four.

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