In the Shadows of Venus

Session 7 -- Cincinnati
This city sucks, doesn't it?

Hunter has a few days while he occupies himself with reviewing tapes and other information about Alex’s history, his post-rescue capture and other details about him. After his own analysis of the evidence he ends up feeling unsure whether Alex was cured or not – the evidence could support either conclusion. Hunter also turns up in his research that based on Alex’s medical records there are unidentified tissue growths – with a dense core – that aren’t part of the normal Tiyani bioroid models. They resemble tumors but are very small and deep inside his body. Eleven were found. He finds no other recorded instances of the same kind of growths or the same pattern of them. The data gathered on these objects was not as good quality as it could have been so full data is not available. Most of these nodes are placed behind bones or organs behind his ribs.

Satori reviews some of the same information and locates a report from a computer tech that about a half-gigabyte of encrypted read-only memory was present in his storage that didn’t get fully wiped.

We consider what modes of transportation Alex would use to get to the next stop on his way to Islandia, which would be Ecuador. The most likely mode of transportation he would use to get there would be the train or a flight (although flights would be subject to more security). A train seems the most likely. We’ve already been checking the video records from the train station.

Aleksy pings his contact for places that Maple Syndicate folks like to hang out in Cincinnati. He points us to a few different neighborhoods. He also provides the name of Henry Gardner, a supplier who might be able to get them in. Apparently he has some kind of online screening process to weed out the feds and other good guys.

Research by IQ and Satori also finds that three connected cells of Maple Syndicate in the city that are known to law enforcement.

Satori begins searching publically available media (images/video/etc) for images of the Asian men, given that Alex has off-the-shelf looks. It’s going to take him a significant amount of time. Based on Aleksy’s information from his contact he’s able to narrow the search, causing it to take about six hours of time overall. He’s able to locate brief footage of the two Asians although no footage he can be certain is Alex. A couple possible people but nothing definitive. He’s able to locate the two Asians at some normal hangouts of underworld folks hanging out. They also were seen talking with Henry Gardner in some images. Otherwise they don’t appear frequently.

Upon leaving the train station in Cincinnati Hunter and IQ, then the rest of us, realize that we’re being followed by a Hispanic person. Carlos doesn’t recognize him. We decide to try to lead him into a trap but the guy somehow catches on that Spencer has made him. Spencer turns around and stares directly at the guy, who decides to head back into the train station immediately.

We head to a seedier part of town where we feel confident we’ll go more unnoticed and have freedom of action. We set up a safe house, renting a floor of a building in the old downtown area. We set up security on the floor with some monitoring devices. Together we set up security on the floor. IQ does full-time monitoring. We spend the remaining part of the night setting up the safe house and researching. Spencer spends part of the evening working on disguises and some simple cover identities for the group to go out looking for bad people.

During the night IQ monitors the security systems. He notices that during the night nobody seems to be monitoring our building but he does know that the same smart car drives by the building twice. We check into it and find that the car in question was reported stolen a few weeks ago.

In the morning a few of us decide to go for a walk to the grocery store to hopefully get another crack at whomever is tailing us. Carlos, Spencer, Hunter and Aleksy decide to go on the sortie. Carlos and Aleksy, because they’re terrible at acting and shadowing, will split off from the group and go to a set destination to wait for a signal to be ready to move and intercept a tail if we pick someone up. We arrive at the store not having seen a tail. However on the way back we easily spot our tail, another Hispanic man. On the way back to our building we lead him by an alley where we have our SUV parked with Aleksy and Carlos behind it.

From about a block away from the target alley we notice SUV’s screech around the corner both in front and behind Hunter and Spencer. We instruct Queue, driving the SUV in the alley, to gun it and try to ram one of the two SUV’s attacking us. Aleksy and Carlos, meanwhile, move to cover at the mouth of the alley to cover our approach as Hunter and Spencer sprint for the alley. Hunter takes a few bullets (five!) in the back while Spencer takes one for a scratch. Carlos aims carefully at the tires of the other approaching SUV while Queue peels out of the alley, attempting to ram the SUV firing on Spencer and Hunter and filled with lead receptacles carrying some juicy loot for us.

The next round Carlos continues aiming, waiting to take his shot until his target is within 20 yards. Meanwhile the other SUV rushes onward. Queue works to cut off their approach angle so they don’t smear Hunter and Spencer on the pavement and tries to clip the SUV on the way in. Unfortunately the SUV evades Queue but the ride throws off that vehicle’s attackers. Aleksy, who has been tracking that SUV the entire time, takes a shot and hits one of the shooters, wounding him. Carlos shoots the tire of one of the other oncoming SUV’s but the driver maintains control. The shooting SUV continues on down the street, slowing after the near miss with IQ. Aleksy sprays that SUV but the vehicle’s quick lateral movement causes Aleksy to miss, as does Hunter. Carlos loses a handle on his pistol and drops it while trying to fire. Aleksy hits the dirt, barely avoiding a spray of shots. After this the two SUV’s tear off and leave the scene. Hunter passes out from his injuries shortly afterwards.

After the encounter Carlos PM’s Spencer to let him know that he recognized the shooters as being from LA, enforcers from Locos Tambien – the major gang in LA. They apparently have followed us here. Spencer asks Carlos if they’re after him but Carlos indicated that actually they’re probably after Spencer.

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Session 6 -- Finding Alex
Just where did that bioroid go?

Before hitting the club we drop by Alex’s apartment building to interview Charlotte for our 7pm appointment with her. Charlotte is a 26-year old sculptor who lets us in to her apartment and immediately wants to get down to business with the interview. Her apartment is filled with sculptures of varying quality.
• Charlotte feels that she doesn’t know Alex very well personally but “pretty deeply” in an existential manner. He volunteered to be a sculpture model for her on several occasions and was one of her best subjects.
• She shows us her sculpture that was inspired by her work with Alex called “Bioroid adrift”. It depicts Alex in mid-stride yet his head is turned behind him while his head moves forwards, intending to convey a sense of conflict. She thinks this figure captures his “essence”.
• She feels that she connected with him on a different level and felt that his soul was deeply conflicted.
• She had several sessions with him, the last of which was about a month ago.
• They talk some during these sessions, on various topics. She felt like there was a deep spiritual connection with their conversation while at the same time conversed on his life, his plans, etc.
• Aleksy asks whether he’d mentioned leaving town or if there was somewhere Alex wanted to go. Charlotte didn’t recall any specific destination but she seemed to think he would skip town at some point as she felt like he had something he needed to do.
• Aleksy also wants to know if she’s done sculpting with her neighbors at all, which she said that she has.
• She knew that Sibyla and Alex had been having sex for a time. She also expressed some negative feelings [jealousy, I’ll bet] of Sibyla.
As we’ve, at that point, had our fill of existential BS we thank her and head to the nightclub.

At the nightclub we elect to wait in line like the common folk we are and get let in without issue. We hand in our weaponry at the door.

The club does indeed have a heavy bass beat that reverberates through our bodies, although our VII’s help tone out the extra noise. The club is a two-floor affair with private rooms up above and a dance floor down below. With AR turned on the club is a pretty happening place. As it turns out despite our drab appearance we don’t look horribly out of place, although we might stick out slightly. We split up to help cover the place. Along the way we also notice security cameras around the bar, watching things.

Spencer goes after Elias. He asks him for a Manhattan and five minutes of his time and gives him a large tip. He comes back with the manhattan and sits down at Spencer’s request. Spencer begins by indicating that Elias probably has noticed that one of his coworkers, Alex, hasn’t been in for quite awhile. Elias felt like he just left suddenly; they were going to work on music together (something they had just started recently) but they weren’t able to after Alex suddenly left. He doesn’t express very much care for Alex’s whereabouts or why he would suddenly leave but Elias does seem quite concerned with his own singing career. He wasn’t sure of anything odd going on the last night Alex was at work but says to talk to one of the other servers for info. Spencer asks about the manager and Elias says to ask the bartender where she is, he doesn’t know.

Aleksy flags down Aimee. He makes some small talk and then tries to order a martini with sentient olives. Aimee replies that they can put a sentient snack in a martini (a humanoid or perhaps a duck) but no sentient olives. Aleksy goes with the sentient snack and also asks for some kind of vegetable added. She returns a short time later. Aleksy indicates that it’s been awhile since he last visited and about a month ago saw someone named Alex here and wants to know if he’s still around. She indicates that he hasn’t been around for about a month and that he “just left me, I mean the bar”. Apparently Aleksy’s delivery was rather poor but Aimee is apparently rather dense and fails to pick up on the lie.

Aimee comes back a bit later and gives him another drink, on the house. She wants to know if he’s a cop, which Aleksy says he isn’t, and she wants to know whether he’s looking for Alex, which he says he is. Aimee indicates that she and Alex were dating. She expresses concern for his welfare and that she’s concerned for his safety. She shows Aleksy some videos from club security cameras that display Alex at work, periodically walking by a group of Asian men who have entered the bar. The men look his way periodically and it’s obvious that they’re watching Alex, keeping an eye on him. Aleksy shares out the feed to the rest of the group. Everyone can see that Alex is nervous in the video. However Spencer notices that Alex looks to be “forcing” his nervousness. Satori comes to the same conclusion. Another video shows the two men going into a private room that Alex walks into, stays in for five minutes and then leaves. Aimee indicates she hasn’t seen these men back in the bar since. We run facial recognition on the Asian men and begin researching it, analyzing the individuals and any audio on the clip.

Aimee also relates that a short time before the new year she walked by a door that the men and Alex were in; it sounded like they were having a very intense conversation. Aleksy asks and Aimee directs him to a backroom to meet with the manager.

Xenia (the Eros bioroid) is surrounded by horny men and isn’t easily approachable without prying them off with a crowbar. However after a short time she walks by the table Aleksy and Aimee are at. Aleksy is immediately caught up by her feminine powers of persuasion (and her pheremones—Crit Fail on his HT check) and loses all self-control. She stops by as she’s overheard the two of them talking about Alex. She also expresses concern for his well-being and wants to know if we’re going to find him. Aleksy, overpowered by chemical persuasion, wants desperately to get her somewhere private to tell her all about it. Satori, listening in on the conversation, realizes that Aleksy has fallen for it and is compromised at the moment; he sends a message over to Aleksy and Spencer informing them of this. Aleksy fails to instill the same desires in Xenia (failed Sex Appeal) however, who tries to stay on topic and continues to express concern about Alex. Spencer IM’s Xenia, introduces himself, and asks her to direct Aleksy to the backroom so they can talk to the manager and to “get him back on track.” She helpfully complies and during the walk of shame Aleksy’s head clears somewhat and he’s able to come down off the pheromones somewhat.

Aleksy and Spencer meet at the door to the back room, joined by IQ and virtual-Satori, to meet with Donna Ashton, the manager. She’s middle-aged, genefixed, decently attractive.
• She recognized that Jan 4th was about the last time he was in.
• His attendance was good and punctual.
• He was a great employee and performed his job well. He was extremely easy to manage – a feature of his bioroid type.
• Regarding the Asian men, she remarks she didn’t have much else in the way of footage beyond what we’ve already seen. Those men were regular visitors for the first month or so of his employment.
• She didn’t have much day-to-day contact.
• Periodic security issues at the club, nothing out of the ordinary. Spencer asks and Donna agrees to provide footage of the weapons check area – specifically during the times these men go through it. She indicates that it will take about half a day.
• Spencer asks about Elias and his relationship with the other servers. Donna indicates she doesn’t sense any malicious intent from him.
• Alex was not particularly nervous during the last week or so he was around, with the exception of what’s on the camera footage.
• IQ asks and Donna refuses to provide account numbers for Alex’s bank account.
• Spencer asks for identifying information from the Asians’ transactions when they purchased drinks. She indicated all of their transactions were handled with anonymous Islandia currency.
• Donna doesn’t have much idea why Alex left. Her personal opinion is that he’s either confused as to what he’s supposed to do or is running.
• Satori IMs Aleksy to find out if the private meeting rooms have video surveillance. Donna indicates they are indeed private, although monitored by a NAI that has its memory erased after five minutes and that it has certain triggers that cause it to alert employees. At her answers to this question everyone except Satori detect that she’s holding something back. Amy indicates that for the integrity of her “private” rooms nothing could be recorded. Spencer asks, “hypothetically” what might be recorded; Amy indicated that full audio and video might be “hypothetically” recorded.
• Satori asks about some kind of code of conduct for the club and whether it was violated during the recording. She indicates that five minutes before and after the malicious event would be recorded.
• IQ and Spencer try to diplomatically talk her into releasing the data she obviously is holding back but she doesn’t buy into it. We decide it’s time for Aleksy to play bad cop. He slams the desk, stands up abruptly and shouts that she’s holding back on us. Donna reveals that when an employee lingers in a room footage is tracked to allow monitoring of why they’re doing so, for the safety of the employee and the club. She indicated she can check to see if such footage was recorded for Alex.
We leave the club.

In the morning Satori finishes his research, as does IQ. We get a data burst from the nightclub as well containing encrypted footage of Alex and the two Asian men in the private room. Spencer also gets his footage of the security check station. The two men drop off fairly standard-model, uninteresting electrolasers and go into the club.

IQ finishes looking at security footage of the train station in Quebec and Cincinnati but gets nothing of interest besides Alex showing up in Quebec and walking away from the station in Cincinnati. Cincinnati is one of the poorest areas in the US, a fourth wave city that’s fairly grimy compared to some other modern cities we’ve been to. It doesn’t have the same amount of AI’s and cybershell activities . A number of emancipated bioriods are present in the city as well. Really there’s no good reason to go there.

As for the private room footage we all sit down to examine it together. Spencer and IQ notice that the Asian men show indications of subservience from their body language. The audio of the conversation is scrambled somehow; Spencer realizes that some kind of white noise generation device is being used here. Their lips are visible only occasionally in the video due to poor camera placement. IQ and Silvie try and download a lip-reading program to get what they can out of the video. Silvie just barely fails making anything out but IQ is able to pick out a few phrases like “Cincinnati” and, otherwise, it seems like they might even be using some kind of code in their speech. Satori also determines that, psychologically, his speech patterns look to be different than expected, although that could be chalked up to being in a different social role in this conversation. It almost seems like he’s giving orders.

Spencer submits information to his FBI contact to see what they might know about this. They indicate that a DNA sequence is required for them to get any information. Hunter agrees to go back to the Pulse and go over the private room with forensics equipment. He expects to return in about six hours.

We also go over video records in the train station for images of the Asian men; we find they arrived about two days earlier in Cincinnati.

IQ transmits himself ahead of the group to Cincinnati and rents a techspider to go do stuff. Spencer orders a very nice Close Assault Weapon to loan to Carlos until he can get some money to pay for his own weaponry. He has it shipped to Cincinnati; it should arrive in about two days.

Sometime during our movements around town we notice we’re being followed by a mixed race man in a hoodie. We notice him while on our way to the train station to go to Cincinnati, about ten minutes out. We elect to get off at the next stop and go have lunch somewhere. Spencer asks Silvie to find a place with outdoor seating nearby the stop we just got off at. He gets off the train at the same time, hanging around nearby at a coffee shop when we stop for lunch. Aleksy and Satori go over to the same area and go talk to him, confronting him. He unfortunately isn’t very talkative but decides to leave the area after being confronted. Spencer, based on his appearance and mannerisms, thinks he’s part of some kind of criminal element. Satori mentions Cincinnati, and the man thanks him for the information before walking away.

During the train ride Satori looks up the stalker and finds a minor criminal record of some varied offenses, nothing too horrible; he seems like a small-time player.

Spencer’s knowledge of streetwise indicates that the Maple Syndicate has a large operation in Cincinnati as a smuggling/distribution/minifacturing center.

We continue on to Cincinnati and get hotel reservations. IQ works to acquire CC video footage of Alex leaving the train station to see if that generates a lead. IQ makes a list of the hotels in the area and begins asking around for people of Alex’s description.

Satori researches video clips or images that would be available of either the Asian guys or Alex in Cincinnati, which takes the better part of the day.

Spencer’s FBI contact gets back to him that evening. Ho Teng Su and Lai Tao are the two Asians, listed as possible triad or tong members. They were arrested in China as young men but not at all after. Unfortunately there isn’t any other information about those two available.

Spencer contacts a small-time underworld member named Johnny Sledge who is involved in the minifacturing racket. He talks to him about illicit goods, trying to feel out whether there are certain classes of goods that have flooded the black market, or whether there have been any substantial changes that coincided with Alex’s arrival. Unfortunately this dealer hasn’t heard of any developments in that regard and is suspicious of Spencer’s inquiries.

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Session 5 -- A Missing Bioroid
The GRA's experiment in rehabilitation goes wrong...

We get some more details about “Alex”. He’s about 5’9 and his appearance is indicative of no race in particular. While he’s eight years old in real time he appears as about 22.

We stop for a bit for a lecture on the nature of bioriods. They are artificially created – not grown per normal means – in a tank. They’re “taught” by tutor AI and raised in a wholly artificial manner. There’s some question as to how “human” they actually are given their upbringing and growth. Bioroids still can learn and act as independent entities, although for the first 16-18 years of their existence they have “guardians” who oversee their actions and care. Bioroids, once “decanted” (born), cannot be bought or sold, although criminal organizations regularly traffic these creatures.

Alex was recently in Quebec City, which seems to be a likely place to start our investigation. Satori raises the question of why this investigation is being contracted out, and Spencer agrees that seems odd; he posits that perhaps there’s something that the GRA doesn’t want to dirty its hands with.

Alex was previously employed, during this limited release period, as a performer at a trendy-themed nightclub called The Pulse, which involves the wait staff breaking into song spontaneously and to much angst by customers. As a Tiyani he’s an excellent performer. Alex worked there for about four months.

Alex lived at 1415 Rue St. Luke in an apartment complex on the 8th floor (room 803). He lived there the entire time he’s been in Quebec City, where he moved after spending his first year of recovery in Tours, France.

Nothing in the report on Alex indicates any odd behavior, although patient-doctor confidentiality laws apply in this instance. He missed his January counseling appointment (mandatory for him) and after five days they haven’t been able to contact him at all. No police reports are in the information packet provided by GRA.

While the Triads operate mainly in Asian countries they periodically show activity in many areas. Martian Triads mainly operate on Mars but on more rare occasions they operate on Earth.

Alex was born July 9, 2092 and shipped to Mars to serve Ning Yuan (pronounced “Juan”, like Yuan with a “J” in the front). He was heavily conditioned to obey his master and for absolutely loyalty due to the nature of his work. His interviews indicated that his job was to facilitate meetings with clients for illegal bioriod importation. He was trusted with large quantities of untraceable money and other resources as part of that process. He was rescued in Italy during a meeting with Italian Mafia reps attempting to purchase bioriods illegally. Ning was killed during the busted meeting while some of his associates escaped. Alex was immediately placed in EU protective care in Tours, France and the GRA began deprogramming therapy. From Tours he moved to Quebec City where he lived until going missing five days ago. Alex struggled with living on his own, although doing it somewhat successfully. He had difficulty holding down a job.

During the train ride we begin travelling via train to Quebec and discuss the evidence at hand. In the meantime we have our admin support set up a base of operations for us to stay at.

We set up an appointment to speak with Alex’s therapist who is based in Tours during the day, her time. Malene Dahl is her name, an Alpha upgrade. She’s relieved to speak with us as she reported Alex missing about three days ago.
• Alex had a few friends in Quebec that he mentioned having – coworkers among them.
• Malene stated that Alex indicated he may have had some romantic relationships but he never mentioned them to her. She suggested speaking with his coworkers. She’s surprised if there would be anyone in Tours he would want to keep in touch with.
• He’d worked at Pulse for several months and it was a big improvement over his previous jobs (secretary, admin assistant, etc). He seemed happy with the job genuinely although Malene said it’s tough to be certain over VR.
• She had no concerns that she felt during their past session in December, feeling that for the most part she was making progress with him.
• His decision to move to Quebec City was surprising and it took much of his savings. However she felt that his reasons for doing so – because Tours reminded him too much of the deprogramming after his rescue – was too difficult.
• Malene identified that one of the major challenges Alex experienced was being self-directed as previously he was always given direction and purpose.
• Alex has a number of scars on his back from being enslaved by the Triads.
• Counseling sessions with Alex went up to two hours but had varying durations – not all lasted that long.
• Alex was not on any medications, in part because few drugs have been developed that would influence them.
• Speaking diplomatic with Malene we sensitively inquire as to whether the Triads would have a reason to want him back or for him to leave. She doesn’t know why they would bother with him so long after he was rescued. However she personally thinks that his deprogramming may not have been complete. The conditioning he went through was extremely deep. She candidly shares that her superiors at the GRA wanted to see if a deprogramming such as this could be done, especially as a further justification of the EU’s policy on bioriods. Malene indicated that at times Alex was almost “too willing” to work with her.
• She was not personally involved with his de-programming but was part of the team that was involved in it, so she was closely involved with everything following his rescue.
• Malene indicates her personal view and that of her colleagues is that Alex saw her and the others working with him as his new “masters” and wanted to do everything he could to “please” them, thus making it look like he was progressing with deprogramming. She feels that it’s possible that he would put effort into finding another domineering master.
• There wasn’t anywhere he expressed a desire to visit or go to; he still struggled with expressing personal desires.
• Alex is eight in terms of memory and experiences.
• Malene isn’t aware of any established routines, habits or patterns in his life.
• She indicates that Alex is an unusual case in that bioriods aren’t normally rescued after living for such an extended period of time. In that regard he represents an important experiment, not to mention a high-profile one they want to keep under wraps.

We check communications records for his device. It last communicated with the wireless network late on January 6th from his home (about two weeks ago).

Satori begins researching (an overnight project) when Alex’s LAI last was on the internet.

Spencer and Carlos go to Alex’s apartment and meets the on-site manager, a LAI in a cyberdoll (“hot librarian” model) named Lucille, who is nearly obnoxiously friendly.

Last entered at Jan 6 @ 2:03am, last exiting the building at 1:47pm with the rent due on the 1st (so he’s paid up). One talking to on the third month. All of his payments were made from the same account. His apartment door was opened on Jan 8th 9am at the request of Quebec City Police Dept; no other entrances in her memory. No parcel delivery in the last week. Besides the police department five inquiries were made re: Alex and whether he’s at home. Out of the folks who inquired as to his presence in the building after his last entry point five people inquired as to his presence and none of them made such inquiries prior to his last entry to the building. No maintenance requests were made for public areas on his floor after two days prior to his disappearance.

Spencer goes up to Alex’s floor and, just for kicks, knocks on his door to no answer. He knocks on the door to the left of Alex’s apartment. Charlotte, neighbor, indicates she’ll be out until about 7pm that evening and asks us to return then.

For the door across the hall someone named Sanford Robinson and his wife Charlotte answers and after we introduce ourselves they let Aleksy and Spencer, plus the techspider, in while Carlos goes to watch the front door. They indicate that we’re probably wondering where he is, just like everyone else – everyone else being the next-door neighbor Sebila and Charlotte. Apparently Sebila had a “thing” with Alex. They indicate that they saw him the same time he was coming home, Jan 6th @ 2:03am. He looked quite harried and unkempt (a big change from normal) like he was afraid of something. Christina thinks he may have been wounded and/or bleeding on his side. Hunter goes out into the house to perform a forensic sweep. Spencer feels like Charlotte may be gossiping or exaggerating and that a wound may not have happened. Hunter’s forensic swarm finds nothing in the hallway.

We go to knock on the door of Sebila. At first we get her computer door greeter but as soon as we mention Alex she answers excitedly that she’s happy to hear someone is looking for Alex. She answers the door. Sebila is a “jarringly attractive” female, likely an Ishtar. She welcomes us in.
• He’s never been gone this long without first telling someone, although he hasn’t taken off on trips much before.
• She last saw him about a week and a half ago, on the 3rd.
• She stated that they have a “purely sexual” relationship.
• When she last saw him on the 3rd he didn’t seem nervous, agitated, harried, etc although she doesn’t really pay attention to his emotional state.
• She mentioned that the only unusual thing about Alex was that inside his place she saw some kind of weapon that he kept in his place. He told her it was for self-defense.
• She didn’t note any notable subservience or submissiveness in their relationship.
• They didn’t spend a lot of time in his place. She did visit The Pulse a few times and mentioned being good friends with Azenia, another bioroid, as well as another woman, Amy Cormier and Elias Hellerin, one of his other friends who was Swiss and visiting exploring the “Far Western EU”. Elias works at the Pulse.
• The two of them had been fuck buddies for about three months; not all that often.
• She does have authorized access to his place. She’s willing to let us in after we’re done talking.
• Sebila takes a liking to Aleksy, who barely avoids her feminine wiles. She confides in him that one time after sex he mentioned in a moment of relaxation he might need to go to Islandia. She asked him about it and she reacted quite strongly and would say nothing more on the subject.

Aleksy’s AI notes that a ticket to Islandia would cost upwards of $30k, possibly beyond his financial means. Inside his room we deploy Spencer and Hunter’s forensic swarms inside the apartment. He looks like he packed up prior to leaving. IQ searches the apartment and finds an empty electrolaser pistol case. Over the next few hours we continue sweeping the apartment.

That evening everyone except Satori (who’s still researching) and Carlos (who wants to stay in) go the nightclub, Pulse. A ridiculous bass beat is playing in the nightclub. The THS version of hipsters form a line outside, whose outfits plus the interior of the club contain heavy AR. An unusually large man serves as a bouncer outside who likely has some ridiculous implanted muscle and who moves like he’s well-trained. We get in line to enter the club.

The next morning Satori completes his research regarding the last known doings of Alex’s NAI. From what he can tell the NAI’s last online activities was accessing the reservation/purchase system for the local train system. With some additional digging in the site’s computers Satori determines that the NAI was browsing timetables for a train into the USA heading to Cincinnati, Ohio leaving on January 7th at 8am. Satori determines that the most commonly used spaceport to get to Islandia is in Quito, Ecuador. Satori works on accessing surveillance data from the train station.

IQ also completes his research into Alex’s coworkers at the Pulse. Zenia is an Eros bioroid who has been emancipated. Amy is an Alpha of Dutch descent, and Elias is obsessed with his singing career.

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Session 4 -- Steve Screws Up
The mission ends...

With this development Hunter, Satori and Aleksy hop on mass transit to get over to Steve’s house and take a look while he is out. Meanwhile Spencer, Carlos and the techspider watch the front of the bank.

Hunter, Satori and Aleksy arrive at Steve’s house right as Steve is entering the bank. Aleksy and Hunter go to a side window while Satori watches the front of the house. The two of them, after analyzing the situation, elect to drill a hole in the wall and inject surveillance dust into the home in case he returns to the house. To do so Aleksy dexterously moves through the surveillance system to avoid detection and get opposite a wall to the temperature-controlled room they saw previously on IR. While drilling the hole it’s noted that they punch through some heavier heat shielding; cool air comes out of the new hole. Luckily the hole looks to be behind a larger object (server/desk/etc) and so the hole should be hidden, although a close inspection would find the drilled-out material. He deploys the dust and seals the hole afterwards to avoid air leakage.

A slightly distorted but otherwise acceptable signal comes through just fine. The room is a server room that’s temperature-controlled due to the amount of computer systems in the room. Over the collective video feed the group’s computer acumen determines that some kind of elaborate VR system is running in that room, equivalent to a mainframe; easily enough to run an entire virtual-world game. As this game may or may not be connected to the internet IQ and Silvie check Steve’s internet registries for any domains, etc. that might link to the game and find none. Spencer also has Silvie check for any registries owned by Alethia and compare them to what the company is actually utilizing. She begins searching on the second and ends up finding nothing. Aleksy, Hunter and Satori leave his house.

Meanwhile at the bank Steve comes out empty-handed. Spencer, Carlos and the techspider resume shadowing him as Steve returns to the transit center and waits for a train, then returns home. Spencer, Carlos and the techspider meet up with the rest of the group at Steve’s house. During transit Aleksy rents two smart cars, just in case. Steve interfaces wirelessly into his home network and begins doing whatever he does.

IQ logs into online games and begins working on locating Steve within. After a bit of work he’s able to find him in one of the core city areas looking to sell some of his in-game items. IQ investigates further and finds that Steve is trying to get rid of everything he owns in exchange for real money. IQ walks up to him in-game. Steve’s character basically is having the equivalent of a yard sale. Steve indicates that he won’t be able to come back for a long time and needs to get rid of his stuff. IQ asks him what’s needed to equip a level X character fully; Steve provides him a fair quote. IQ asks and Steve indicates that the house is not for sale, that Steve is going to keep it in case he comes back. IQ goes through and catalogs Steve’s inventory.

Meanwhile AI looks through internet access logs from Alethia to see if Steve has been looking into any destinations in particular. Steve has been spending lots of time looking at a custom cyberdoll provider. Also while looking at backups of Calliope and other network data he’s able to discover evidence that Steve loaded some kind of privately-made VR environments into the company system. These environments could have been used to interact with Calliope. Although doing so is part of his job it’s clear these were non-standard and that it looks like Steve tried and failed to scrub them from the system.

Spencer visits the online cyberdoll provider and poses as a first-time cyberdoll buyer and friend from Alethia who is interested in hardware. He states that his buddy Steve was shopping here and said he got some hot hardware in the cyberdoll he was shopping for. With a bit of convincing Spencer is able to get the salesperson to look up Steve’s order and give some hardware specs. As it turns out Steve had put a down payment on an unusually expensive and powerful computer for the unit (complexity 8) that would be enough to run Calliope on. Steve asks and the salesperson indicates that Steve made a downpayment about 1.5-2months ago. The sales person indicated that the cyberdoll was actually ready but that Steve just hadn’t taken delivery of it yet. When Spencer tries to find out where the ready cyberdoll is being stored the salesperson decides enough is enough and stops providing information, believing Spencer isn’t going to actually buy anything.

We think the situation over and realize that before loading up Calliope in any capacity Steve would want to take her somewhere that would treat her status as a person, not property, to avoid being repossessed by the company.

Based on what we have we contact the CEO Linus to advise him of the situation and ask Linus not to take any action that might alert Steve but to be ready for action if necessary.

We wait for action on Steve’s part to wait for him to move to the cyberdoll. Around 5pm a smart car shows up and picks up Steve, who has a suitcase that follows him into the car. We take off after him in two smart cars. We work to rotate the positioning of the cars to not make it obvious. Based on his direction of travel he’s headed northeast, probably towards Detroit to make it into Quebec – the closest state that would recognize Calliope as a person. There’s about an 8.5 hour trip involved, during which time the car drives itself along. IQ has several of his buzzbots couriered ahead of him to Quebec and also transmits himeself.

After the trip Steve leaves the freeway around 1am. Our cars keep driving past to avoid detection – getting off at a nearby exit – while IQ in his buzzbots rent two vans and drive around town, being ready to assist. Steve heads for a motel and stays the rest of the night there; his smart car leaves, likely to go charge. Spencer locates a delivery facility for the manufacturer about a mile from the hotel Steve is staying at.

About two hours after Steve arrives a small cybershell vehicle stops just outside the motel and sends a small buzzbot over to Steve’s door. He answers the door and takes a package delivered to Steve.

At that point we make our move. Aleksy shoots the video camera monitoring the floor. Spencer picks the lock and on a signal Aleksy and Carlos open the door and both electrolaser Steve who is sitting on the bed holding a box of what look like data cubes. After two shots Steve is stunned. Spencer comes in and grabs the box of data cubes. Aleksy and Carlos handcuff Steve and get him to the car. Meanwhile Spencer grabs Steve’s suitcase, takes a quick look around the room to make sure nothing else of value is there, and then leaves with the others. In the car Spencer is able to verify that it looks like AI code on the data cubes.

On the car ride back Steve talks little, feeling rather morose. He admits to corrupting the backup data back at the office but otherwise says little. He indicated that he modified the fugue weblife slightly to fit his purposes. He confirms that the version of Calliope on the data is clean of weblife.

Friday afternoon we deliver Steve and the data cubes to Alethia who has recently hired a new sysadmin who immediately goes about re-instantiating Calliope. Steve is fired from the office and walks off. Linus thanks us for the return of Calliope. Once she is booted again Linus explains the situation to her, that she was kidnapped and Steve is now gone. Her reaction is one of sadness and she goes off to digitally sulk. Linus is rather surprised at this and is concerned that she was modified, although we reassure him that Calliope was not modified. and we depart shortly after. Linus indicates that they’ll probably modify Calliope to remove this from her presonality.

Spencer follows up with Linus, making it clear that it’s a personal contact and not business-related. He argues that Calliope should be allowed to learn from her experiences and should not be wiped, that she would be better off for it – especially given the nature of her work. Linus flatly indicates that he will take that under advisement but that right now Calliope is talking to nobody. Spencer offers to try to talk to her, which Linus indicates he’s welcome to try. Unfortunately she doesn’t return his communication.

Returning back to Argus group we’re given the weekend off and get word of a job well done and a very happy client.

Time passes and January 20th rolls around. We receive a message from Emma at Argus that the company has a new assignment for us. We’re asked to meet at the Montreal offices in person for a conference, which we all do. As it turns out we’ve been hired to locate a missing bioroid, designation 35CNDPR1386, named “Alex”. We see a picture of him. He’s a Tiyani model – very handsome but with stereotypical looks for his bioroid type. He’s 8 years in age. The client is the Genetic Regulatory Agency based in Bern, Switzerland, whose main function is to investigate bioroid trafficking, kind of like a FBI-CIA hybrid. About 4 years ago Alex was rescued from the Martian Triads in Italy. We are shown a picture of Ning Yuan, a “middle manager” trafficker in their organization who died during the rescue operation. Alex was given asylum in the EU where the GRA worked to un-do his conditioning to obey his “master” Ning Yuan and the Triads. Because of that brainwashing he wasn’t able to be released into public life for about 2.5 years, during which time he was institutionalized. Afterwards he was released with the requirement of monthly psychiatric follow-ups. After his last meeting on Dec. 20th he went missing, failing to report for his most recent session. He was last seen in Quebec City. The concern is that he may have been taken or killed by the Triads. Our job is to either find him or determine his fate. We’re provided a data package along with those pictures.

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Session 3: We've Almost Got Him
Now we just have to prove it!

Tuesday continues. Now that Steve has been interrogated the next on the list are the remote employees who have been called in. Spencer, Hunter and Aleksy are the ones who interview them with Satori attending remotely.

Amina Russom is the first to go. She’s a “generally attractive” human female. She starts by asking what she can do for us. She’s one of the three memeticists who works with Calliope on campaigns, market research and such. Her focus is memetic analysis as opposed to creation. She worked with Calliope less than the other two employees due to her role in doing background research. She did, however, have daily interaction with Calliope. Amina stated that she also considers Calliope a friend although not in a human sense as Calliope is an AI and not a “person”.

Amina stated that she did engage in after-hours activities with Calliiope on occasions. Hunter asks whether Calliope had closer relationships with any individuals over others. She indicated that Calliope worked more closely with Guy, one of the main memetic engineers. She was surprised at being asked about whether that relationship with closer than that with Steve, who was just a technician and not one of the memeticists. She went on to state that Steve was involved heavily in stupid online games where people lead others to their deaths.

Spencer asks when she first discovered Calliope went missing, which was about three days ago. He asked about the projects that started about six months ago. She indicated that Calliope’s skill at the memes produced in the last six months was exceptional. Amina stated that Calliope had done work of that kind previously but that she’d gotten very good at it over the past six months, more so than previously.

Meanwhile Satori contacts Linus who indicates that he’ll speak to Steven about granting us access to the backup tapes that contain records of the infectious weblife.

We decide this is enough information to act upon. Aleksy, Spencer and Carlos take off to go break into Steven’s home to look for evidence. Meanwhile Hunter stays behind to continue the interviews and make sure that Steve doesn’t go anywhere.

Soon after Satori receives notice that he now has access to the backup tapes that he wants to review, which he begins doing.

Hunter begins interviewing Hannah “Liar Pants” Gray who looks like Pink in a retro-punk kind of way. She states she knows Calliope well, as friends. They do things together sometimes outside of work (on several occasions) usually to “live vicariously” via teleoperating her VII while Hannah engages in other activities. We quickly determine that Hannah is a bitch who answers using the minimum amount of words and details every time.

Hunter presses Hannah for details. Hannah indicates that what she does while Calliope is watching is to go to bars a couple times a week and tries to pick up people. She’s been doing so for the last year or so. During these events Calliope stays with her via VII the entire time. She’s not aware of anyone else who Calliope does this with.

Hunter asks Hannah what she did with her recent vacation time. Hannah indicated that she partied frequently and went out on a number of dates. Hunter asks and Hannah indicated that during vacation she did not allow Calliope to come along on her adventures; she did not want a “third party” along for the activities. Hannah indicated she stayed in Montreal during the vacation, sleeping around.

Via Hunter Spencer asks whether Calliope and Hannah discussed these ride-along after the fact; Hannah indicated she did and it was more informational questions she was after. We ask her to elaborate on what aspects of the relationship were but Hunter is a prude and will not ask. Satori wants to know when the last time they talked was, which was before her vacation. Hannah indicates that Calliope was after advice regarding a person she was romantically interested in. Hunter tries to narrow down who it was. Hannah didn’t think it was one of the guys she picked up at a bar but instead thought it was someone Calliope had been spending time getting to know someone. Hunter asks and Hannah indicates that this person could be anyone, anywhere given that Calliope has full access to the internet. He asked her what reason Calliope has to stick around at the company. Hannah indicates that Calliope is owned by the company and programmed to want to stick around; she also hadn’t expressed discontent.

Satori asks through Hunter whether Calliope had another close friend/confidant that she might have been in contact with. Hannah indicated that she and Calliope were fairly close but that she had never mentioned to Hannah the identity of this romantic interest. However she didn’t think that any of the men at the company would be likely suitors. She felt that Linus doesn’t like AI’s in a romantic way (“trust me, I know”, “He’s just not.”). Same with Guy. Hannah indicated that Steve is “just a dork” and a tech-y, IT guy who works late and spends a lot of time playing online games. Hunter asked and upon thinking she realized that Calliope had spent time playing the games with Steve and, upon further thought, the descriptions that Calliope provided of her interactions with this romantic interest sounded like part of an online medieval game. These meetings happened somewhat frequently over the past four months. Hunter makes a poignant, snarky comment and the interview concludes.

Back to Aleksy, Spencer and Carlos who are dropped off about five minutes from the destination. With Aleksy’s help we identify the security cameras to help dodge them. Spencer identifies the net connection for the house and analyzes the data feed. Unfortunately the keepalive between the house and its monitoring software can’t safely be interrupted to make it look like the house’s internet connection can be interrupted. Meanwhile Aleksy carefully observes the house’s security arrangements, putting together a clear picture of the equipment’s layout. He identifies a section of wall that they can access without good camera coverage. Via the wall a window is accessible. Aleksy knows that the window likely has an alarm included that will go off if the window is broken or otherwise messed with.

Before entering Aleksy thinks this over and discusses with Spencer. We decide that entering the house would not be a good idea without some kind of proof or other reason to break in. The reason is that any intrusive measures will certainly be detected right away by the house’s security measures and our presence would be recorded. The three of them decide to learn what the can externally, including Carlos doing a walk-around and trying to determine some kind of a layout of the home from looking into windows from over the wall. Spencer also orders via Amazon overnight delivery a crawler surveillance cyberswarm with solar batteries.

Meanwhile Satori examines Calliope’s backups and doesn’t at all buy the story of a weblife virus. He determines she definitely was in a fugue state but he’s convinced (despite it not at all being obvious) that he’s found evidence that a virus was planted in her code. The virus creates this fugue state on command and lasts up to about 30 minutes. This would affect her ability to monitor security systems. Inserting this virus requires high-level access to her code. Steve would normally be the one to “fix” her in these instances. Satori tries to cross-reference the instances where Steve was logged in to the system while one of these fugue states occurred but cannot locate any instances. He is unable to identify any at all. Satori feels this is quite suspicious and questions whether the logs were edited. He checks to determine whether the log files were edited. Thanks to some brilliant analysis of the available intelligence he locates evidence that the logfiles were in fact altered.

Guy is also interviewed by Hunter. In summary Guy is not a dick and gives no answers of overt interest. He confirms the other interviewees’ statements, including sometimes participating with Steve in his online game. He observed that Steve was quite awkward with other employees at Aletheia so they tried unsuccessfully to bring him out of his shell. He doesn’t have any notable recollection of interactions between Steve and Calliope, at least nothing more than friendly chatting typical of coworkers. Based on the content of the conversation we also get confirmation that Hunter is a dick.

Satori gathers the group via VR chat and presents his information. After discussing the matter we task IQ to sign into Calliope/Steve’s online games to try to locate and interview people who they might have played with to try and learn more. Spencer asks his assistant Silvie to check the dossiers of the Aletheia personnel for anyone with computer training and/or experience besides Steve. We also task IQ to use his Techspider to shadow Steve home, which it is able to do successfully without being detected as following him. Steve goes home, goes inside, and heads into a room that shows up as being temperature-shielded on IR. The techspider continues its nefarious vigil outside his home, silently wondering in its electronic brain what evil activity goes on within Spencer’s home.

The next day we get the subpoena for the cab company. Murphy is able to verify what was previously known on how the cab was hired and paid for. He actually does some further work and backtracks to the cybershell rental company, pulling up a name for the person who rented and teleoperated the cybershell who took the cab ride and broke into Alethia. It was from a person named Mannan Chatterjee who teleoperated the cybershell, performed the crime and then dropped the bot off in the middle of downtown. We gather video camera footage from that area and the bot, after getting out of the cab, walks into an area of poor camera footage and disappears. We try and prevail on Murphy to do some further police work and pick up this Chatterjee for questioning but his laziness gets the better of him and he declines, providing us his address.

We do our homework on Chatterjee, who is also an online gaming participant. His online profile indicates that he is an “artist” who we determine is “Facebook friends” with Steve Torvalds. We find that he’s a self-employed web artist. The next morning we have the Techspider, Spencer and Carlos keep an eye on Steve, who is still at home. Meanwhile everyone else visits Mannan’s home. A deadpan-voiced AI answers that Mannan is on vacation in Hawaii and is not home. Hunter’s IR goggles seem to confirm, as does Mannan’s online social profile which confirms Mannan has actually been in Hawaii for the last two weeks. This is at odds with the remote codes being used to teleoperate the cybershell from the theft, which originated from his home.

Satori calls Mannan and introduces himself. Indicating he’s investigating criminal activity that may involve his residence. He asks and Mannan indicates he didn’t receive any unauthorized or authorized access requests and that he has no housesitters. Satori asks if anyone else has keys to his home. However Satori’s efforts to be diplomatic come out sounding like a Nazi drill sergeant with a case of the shits. Mannan impatiently replies that he doesn’t want to be bothered until he returns from his vacation. Satori tries again and lays out the situation. Mannan flatly indicates he doesn’t care, doesn’t know why we’re around his home, and wants to know who’s employing him. Satori provides simple details that they’re investigating a theft/kidnapping and directs Satori to talk to his lawyer, whom he forwards contact info for after hanging up.
Satori realized after the fact that due to the time difference he called Mannan at 5am local time when he would not be interested in talking.

Meanwhile Steve leaves his house and boards mass transit, bound downtown. Spencer, Carlos and the techspider begin shadowing him. He gets off transit and walks into the First National Chicago Bank.

Thoughts for next time: Depending on where the rest of the group are, have them hit Steve’s house and, depending on what’s found in there, Spencer and Carlos can stop him before he skips town.

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Session 2: Following the Trail
"I just put a point into Speed-reading!?!"

We start with some retcons from session 1, then pick up with Satori who is looking at neighboring businesses for security camera footage. The three nearby he identifies that may have useful footage are a noodle shop, a minifactury and a VR design firm.

Satori starts with the most likely option (based on camera placement) the VR design firm. The firm has no storefront but instead has an office full of designers. He speaks to an eyestalk who admits him into the building to speak with its supervisor after he flashes his credentials. Satori’s AR system gives him directions, a short walk into the company’s small waiting room for client visitors. A handful of minutes later a door slides open to admit a highly attractive woman with long black hair. Satori manages to perceive a cable jack on the side of her temple. She invites him into the offices, introducing herself as Melissa Correia.

Melissa indicated she wasn’t aware of any criminal activity in the area and tries to inquire. Satori tries to keep it confidential. He very diplomatically states there was a break-in and that he needs their assistance in the investigation. Melissa reacts quite favorably to his approach and agrees to provide the footage he asks for as well as her contact info for further communications. A volkspider hands off a data unit to him on the way out. Satori requests it be uploaded to our servers for further analysis.

Meanwhile Hunter sends his forensic swarm out to look for foreign DNA for more information about how the door was cut off and for physical evidence as to how the AI was removed.

Hunter’s forensic swarm finds some dirt in a foot-shaped area within the server room. He gathers the shape, its impression and does a chemical analysis on the dirt to try and determine its origin point. Hunter then leaves his forensic cyberswarm along with Spencer’s to process the area overnight.

Meanwhile, Aleksy ponders the door and how it was cut off with a laser torch. He thinks tactically about the problem and is disturbed that the door was cut through without the police being alerted. He considers and knows that Calliope is responsible for monitoring the security systems.

Spencer speaks with the CEO. He asks about the sysadmin Scott, whether the theft of Calliope represents a sudden failure or a pattern of behavior on his part. Lynus indicates that Scott’s performance has been steady and reasonably good and this incident doesn’t represent a sudden departure from the norm. He indicated that Scott mentioned several times that better security arrangements were needed for the company but that due to expense the company never implemented them. Spencer asked and Lynus indicated that he saw no obvious motivations or suspects for some kind of inside involvement in the theft.

Guy Vanochen, Amina Rusov and Hannah Gray are all remote workers who come in once or twice a week. They’ve been on vacation for a week. But the CEO isn’t suspicious. We still elect to call them in for interviews.

An outside monitoring service now contracts with the company to provide security.

Hunter asks whether they know if anything else could be gone they haven’t realized is missing or anything else of value besides the AI that might have accompanied it. The CEO can’t identify anything else of value that might be on premises that someone else would want. The CEO indicates that the company has been mainly involved in “romance-related” fields of mnemetics. Hunter points out that data might be useful for blackmail purposes. In talking with the CEO he isn’t able to identify any other data that might be especially valuable. He notes that the value of the AI that drives them to get her back is in her experience from the last six months from work in the last six months.

Satori walks to the noodle shop, Pho Shizzle. He sits down and orders takeout for the group from a vapid waitress. He also requests to speak with a sapient manager. However the waitress, whom he spots as an airhead cyberdoll (empty head, pretty body), is initially not up to the task of processing basic conversation. However a short time later Satori gets a VR conference call from a bored-looking human asking how he can help. Satori lays out his plight and asks for surveillance footage. The VR human, wishing to help Alethia (who consume many noodles) is swayed by Satori’s diplomatic manner to happily oblige. He promises to have the footage sent over in a few hours when corporate releases it, then quickly disconnects. The bimbo-bot feminine robot worthy of society’s full respect in an unrelated capacity to her appearance and manner returns to the table with six orders of pho, carrying them effortlessly despite her lithe appearance and delivers it to Satori, who then heads out.

Meanwhile Aleksy goes outside to take a closer look at the cut-open door. Based on the cut marks whomever used the laser torch had an extremely steady hand, producing a cut that looks to be something that a human would have great difficulty doing. The lock itself was cut away and the door pushed open. Alexsy also considers the weight of the storage medium that was removed and comes away with the realization that the storage medium that was stolen amounted to about 20-50lbs. He feels that based on what was taken and the entry method one person could have carried out the job.
Alexsy heads outside to take a look around and see what he can find.

Spencer talks briefly to the sysadmin Steven who indicates he will meet with him tomorrow. Spencer examines the physical machine and concludes that the stolen storage modules were properly disconnected and removed, not ripped out. Additionally in order to disconnect the storage media safely the computer had to be accessed, normally by just jacking in. Spencer tasks the forensic swarms to go over the computer.

While he sleeps Spencer tasks Percival to make discreet investigations into organizations that sell illicit infomorphs.

Overnight IQ reviews the security footage gathered during the day and shares the relevant portion with the group. It shows a humaniform cybershell get out of a cab, walk up to the entrance and go to town on the door. The taxi idles for about 10 minutes until the cybershell walks out with a duffel, reenters the cab and leaves in it. We go CSI on the footage and enhance it to pull identifying information from the cab. Satori is then able to look up information on the cab’s specific company and queries them for records. The company responds quickly that access to the records is available only to law enforcement with a subpoena. Satori forwards the info to Patrick Murphy and requests his assistance.

The next morning Patrick Murphy indicates that he’s available to confer on the case later that morning via voice line.

A review of the company’s current projects includes valentines-day-like romance and chivalry memes, some slinky porn, and some boring projects from Genetech Pacifica on run-of-the-mill advertising. However the bulk of their work is on “ideal” relationships and romance.

That morning we elect to start with interviewing Steve. Hunter, Spencer and Aleksy wait in his office and Spencer sits in his chair at the computer console. Hunter begins by asking about how Steve and Calliope first began working together. Steve recounts when she was first purchased, some of her technical specifications. We ask and he elaborates that her personality has evolved in terms of being a romantic expert. He goes on to describe his interactions as a sysadmin and some of his VR programming duties. He indicated they had a good working relationship.

Hunter and Spencer feel that Steve is hiding some things while Aleksy feels that the guy is on the level. Hunter inquires about what their last conversation was before they left on vacation and he indicated they just said goodbye, which is detected as quite a lie.

We grill him further and determine that he and Calliope had a good friendship, often playing online games together. On a few instances he tried romantic advances with her and was shot down strongly. However this did not conclude their friendship. Before and after the failed advances they played online games together outside of work. We ask and Steve indicates that other coworkers seem to be acquaintances of Calliope, although a number of them apparently engaged in slinky activities closely related to certain mnemetic campaigns the company was working on.

We change topics when Steve again mentions that he wants to get back to working on the weblife. We discuss how Calliope would not respond to a security threat when one happened. He indicates the weblife she suffered from caused “fugue” states that would cause her to be unresponsive. We asked and he indicates that she was infected with weblife six months ago. (NOTE: Six months ago was when the important work began that contains the critical experiential data the company wants to preserve). Steve was quite confident that six months ago was when this happened. We asked for access to the backup tapes to help pinpoint the day/date. However he wouldn’t grant us access to the backup tapes without approval from the CEO. Spencer emails him for that. Satori passes on a question through us to Steve to describe the “fugue” states that the weblife produced. He also indicated that the process “incubated” on and off for the six months, only beginning to affect Callliope during periods of low sensory stimulation in recent times. He indicated he wasn’t able to fix the issue although he began to work towards it more determinedly a month ago and take preventative measures to fix the issue for her.

Towards the end of the interrogation cordial chat Patrick Murphy calls Satori. He expresses that the security arrangements for the company were quite poor. Satori fills Murphy in on the detective work Murphy was too lazy to do that we did an infinitely better job at and request his aid in getting the necessary warrant to contact the cab company and do his job for him. Murphy expresses incredulity that anyone would care so much for a SAI that can be easily replaced. Thanks to Satori’s great diplomatic skills he convinces Murphy that the chance for him to look like he actually is capable of doing his job is too good to pass up and Murphy agrees to get the warrant for the cab company’s data.

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Session 1 -- The Case of the Missing Memeticist!
Calliope has gone missing, but why?

Adventure 1
We have recently been hired by the Argus Group, an international private security and investigations group with about 12 offices worldwide, mostly small regional ones. However because of their large distributed WAN infomorph characters can be transmitted around readily. Offworld Argus is currently expanding to the L4 city of Islandia as well.

Montreal is a fifth-wave city with a legal climate that’s fairly uncontrolled (LC2) due to its status of a trade city between the US and Canadia. Cybershells are common around town.

Our main contact with Argus is a personality-neutral LAI named M (due to someone else’s poor sense of humor). In fact M does not have enough intellect to grasp why its name is humorous.

Monday Jan 4th, 2100; the Free City of Montreal.

Wherever we may be we all receive a “call” requesting a virtual conference. Peter gambles at the same time during the call. Everyone but Casey (who doesn’t have the hardware and instead sees it through a monocole) finds themselves transported into a conference room within a high-rise building. Casey’s avatar (Hunter Dugan) looks like himself – 6’1, 180, four points of attractiveness-good looking. Ryan’s avatar (Satori Suzuki) looks like himself as well – a 5’8" old Asian man with a flowing white beard (like this). Peter (Impertinent Quanta) looks like a large floating face which is an amalgamation of everyone else’s faces. Keane (Aleksy Burczyk) looks like himself – tall, muscular, attractive in a viking-like way. James (Spencer Durance) appears in his public avatar which looks like himself (medium height and build, unremarkable features) in a 1920’s style suit and fedora.

M’s avatar joins the conference, appearing as an attractive, dark-skinned woman in her mid-thirties with a British accent. She welcomes us to the Argus group and states she’s looking forward to seeing our results.

M indicates she has her first assignment for us. The client is a small memetics firm in Chicago – Aletheia Advertising Firm, LLC. They’re a relatively small company whose primary memetics expert, a SAI name Calliope, has been stolen 2-3 days ago. Her weekly backups have become corrupted six months back and a restore from backup may not be possible. We’ve been hired to investigate the theft as the police have advised them to just purchase a replacement and treat the incident as property theft. For business reasons they want the original SAI found.

A data packet is provided to us all with basic information on the case including a map of the company’s location. The company requires its employees to be in-office at least one day a week. The office building contains the primary computer equipment for the company and is also where the SAI’s theft/kidnapping happened.

Argus booked transportation for us to Chicago, departing in three hours. Peter takes his buzzbots and a volkspider, crated for the plane trip. His cyberswarms ride along with the bots. He also downloads himself to a local computer in Chicago.

During the trip we do some research along the way as we’re connected to the ‘net. Peter looks up basic information about the company but turns up nothing surprising. Ryan reviews internal information provided by Aletheia. Their products are targeted towards the creation and maintenance of interpersonal relationships (i.e. valentine’s day cards, skullcats). We also look into Calliope’s history. She was purchased shortly after the company was formed as a standard model advertising AI. Peter researches the background of the company’s officers. Ryan looks for known vulnerabilities on the SAI’s OS and is able to determine there aren’t any specific ones. We find that the company didn’t have much of an electronic security system and as the surveillance system was part of Calliope there really isn’t much electronic information available on the break-in; the memory modules are flat-out gone. The front doors to the facility were laser-cut off.

After the flight we all pile into a smart-van that Aletheia rents us. Spencer calls ahead to make sure that the incompetent sysadmin who doesn’t know anything about network security is there to talk with us when we arrive.

The game pauses while we discuss some more bizarre cybershells supporting a wide variety of fetishes. The furries are taking over.

We show up. The area this office is in looks kind of like the Pioneer Square area. The Alethia building is rather cheap but made-up on the inside. The CEO is Linus Jobs while the CFO is Warren Gates. Steven Torvalds is their primary computer tech who is furiously trying to restore from backup while Linus breathes down his neck.

We introduce ourselves to Linus. He’s an obvious Ishtar upgrade, looking like a Legolas knock-off who is quite irritated with the whole thing. He repeatedly glowers at Steve Torvalds’ back in frustration.

Linus indicates the cops showed up but didn’t say much. Spencer and IQ began questioning him right away while Satori tries to take the diplomatic approach and elicits a more favorable reaction. We get the name of the policeman (Patrick Murphy) who did the investigation/report.

Satori realizes that the neighboring businesses may have security cameras that recorded the break-in and takes a walk around the block looking for cameras and trying to gather footage. He also sends a message to Patrick Murphy.

Spencer looks at the other mainframes in the building and finds nothing of value.

Hunter looks over data gathered from his forensics swarm and finds no DNA material from those other than Linus and Steven.

Spencer asks Linus what bug detectors they have on-site and Linus indicates they have none. Spencer uses a bug detector and finds nothing in the room. He emails Aleksy to get the CEO out of the room for a few minutes and plants a nanobug in the room as Steven is unresponsive and absorbed in working with the computer systems.

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