In the Shadows of Venus

Session 18 -- The Finale
It's over...for now.

After Satori’s encounter aboveground those in the construction zone head to the elevator but find it deactivated. Spencer attempts to reactivate but his initial attempt fails as James’ dice continue to express their considerable ire for his existence. As Satori happens to be up top he tries to use the elevator but it still doesn’t work. Spencer tries yet again and his dice continue to spit in his face. Aleksey gives it a shot and this time is successful.

Meanwhile Rachel Morris is out of nano-stasis and can move around with assistance. While the underground crew fiddles with the elevator Satori tries to initiate a wipe of the computer core of the cybershell that the emergent AI previously inhabited. Out of the corner of his eye Satori sees several security guards waddling towards him. He radios those underground and lets them know he’s encountered company and may need to depart. He also tries to contact the security AI that’s controlling the guards but realizes that might not accomplish much.

With about 20 seconds before the two guards arrive Satori tries to stall the guards as they walk up to him. They seem to ignore Satori and head straight for the cybershell, attempting to carry it away. The guards are clearly being puppetted, likely by some kind of stored instruction set, Satori realizes. After the men turn their backs to Satori he takes aim at one of them after a few seconds and fires his electrolaser after one is about seven yards away. He hits one of them squarely with three shots, dropping him as he begins to do a poor impression of the Robot.

One of the other guards turns, quick-drawing his pistol and smoothly turns and fires back but his shots go wide. Satori returns fire and hits again with three shots, dropping that one as well while he begins doing an abbreviated version of the hokey-pokey while lying on the ground.

Satori cufftapes the two guards, keeps his electrolaser at the ready, while Aleksy and Spencer come up the elevator. They confer briefly with Satori and Aleksy begins using his large knife for some impromptu surgery on the cyberdoll to get at its memory core. He destroys it. Just to make sure we take the remainder of the body and co-locate it with the explosives we’re to blow a hole in the building with.

Meanwhile Satori tries to contact IQ to appraise him of the situation and is successful. He lets IQ know that they should be heading out in the next ten minutes or so. IQ, meanwhile, continues the fight. He begins to retreat his forces in the face of an all-out attack from the enemy and is slightly wounded but is able to continue.

We decide that an effective distraction is in order, perhaps in the nature of a large explosion in the wall of the Arcology. Hunter sets the explosives and detonates them, setting off quite a few alarms within the entire facility. We immediately radio for the car and head outside. Spencer radios to Argus group to let them know we have Rachel and are headed out. It takes about ten minutes for the car to arrive. Everyone but Spencer takes off to hide with Rachel. Spencer hides using his stealth suit near our impromptu exit, waiting for IQ to try and leave.

IQ’s forces are now in full retreat, which he’s able to pull off successfully. He escapes along with a large number of other individuals who stream out into the forest. Spencer connects with IQ and they head to meet with the others already outside. We all pile into the car and head back to civilization in Prince Albert. We pile into a waiting aircar and head back to Montreal where we are debriefed.

In the next week we see on the news the story of the Arcology’s fall. The Starfire consortium’s management is arrested while the Canadian government takes over management of the arcology. All of the AI’s still within the Arcology are inspected by Canadian governmental officers. The emergent AI has vanished without trace. Absent from the news stories is information on the mnemetic experimentation that was going on within the Arcology. Satori publishes a journal article about it, which goes under review.

We get a month of paid administrative leave. Spencer gets a boosted heart installed during the downtime.

We get a cutscene of two shady individuals talking on the internet about something with project security and investigating/terminating members of the Argus group.

Time passes. We all get notification that we need to meet with Emma immediately in VR. She thanks us for coming. Emma seems unsure how to proceed but she informs us that we’ve all been fired, effective immediately, and is unable to find any knowledge of why. We all get a month of severance pay deposited into our accounts. In total we have two months’ pay saved up. We also all get five (not seven!) character points.

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Session 17 -- The Battle Continues
When are explosives NOT a good idea?

Just to get it out of the way we determine the results of the next 30 minutes of the overall battle. Satori works to disrupt communications of the enemy forces but is unable to make much of a difference. IQ directs his forces in some low-risk defensive actions while the enemy commander attempts to use short skirmish encounters to delay and harass and is able to hold his own. Satori makes preparations to leave his location and make way for the exit once the rest of the group is ready to do so.

Meanwhile, down in the construction area, the group plans our next move. Hunter begins cutting down the “secret” door, which will be about a ten-minute process. Spencer returns to the elevator to disable it so only we can use it. Carlos stays at the intersection to guard Hunter while Aleksy engages his stealth suit and goes to scout through the right-hand door. Inside he finds a storage area. Based on the labels on the boxes he’s able to discover five additional pounds of plastic explosives, very useful for blowing holes in things. The storage room dead-ends.

Meanwhile Spencer disabled the elevator so that only we can reactivate it. Afterwards he engages his stealth suit and goes with Aleksy to scout into the next room in the remaining two minutes to cut through the door. The next room has three large cybershell maintenance bays and a very large cyberswarm hive, capable of holding many swarms. Likely they’re construction swarms but we don’t have a way to control them. There doesn’t appear to be an easy way to disable it besides using plastic explosives. Spencer trades places with Hunter, who goes in to wire explosives onto the hive, which he’s able to do with about two pounds of explosives. We put them on a remote detonator. That room dead-ends as well.

A short time later we’re finished with the door. Aleksy is able to push it in with a small assist from Carlos while the rest of us cover him. They push the door inward as we’ve effectively cut out its outline. Aleksy and Spencer enable their stealth suits beforehand in case someone is on the other side. Inside the mystery door is a corridor made out of roughly-hewn rock, likely with construction swarms. We all step inside for cover and Hunter blows the explosives, causing a loud explosion to sound. The door in front of us is to an elevator, which we take down.

The elevator is fairly small so Carlos and Hunter take corner at the front corners while Aleksy and Hunter, stealthed, are in the rear in a crouch. After going down about two floors the elevator door opens. At the far end of the corridor is some kind of phallic-shaped turreted Gatling gun. As the door opens the device doesn’t open fire immediately. Aleksy is able to observe that the caliber of the weapon isn’t huge, for all the good that does us.

Aleksy feels full of confidence and decides he’s had enough thinking of how to solve this problem. He begins inching forward at about 1yd/sec. After moving a couple of yards forward Aleksy prepares to yank out his shotgun and take a shot at it; at that point the rest of us are prepared to fire at the same time. Aleksy whips out his shotgun and fires off two rounds, striking it squarely with both and ruining it. We all advance out of the elevator after verifying that the turret is in fact dead.

The end of the hallway terminates in a “T” junction. Aleksy looks over to his side of the hallway and sees another turret next to a corner turning left, which fires off several rounds that whiz by his and Spencer’s heads that peek around the corner; they quickly duck back. Spencer is able to see another corner, moving around to the right. Spencer tries to move his arm around the corner and shoot without exposing himself but fumbles the weapon, dropping it as he tries to bring it around the corner. The turret takes a shot at it but fails to connect. Spencer quick-draws his pistol and tries to snap off three shots at the turret but misses again. The turret takes a second and aims at the SMG, firing off a burst and striking it with a couple of rounds. The SMG looks fairly non-functional afterwards. With a sigh Spencer steps back and makes way for Carlos, who leans around the corner for a pop-up attack, firing one round and striking it squarely. The device sparks heavily but doesn’t immediately go down. Carlos advises giving it a few seconds to see if it shuts down but it remains operational. Aleksy tries the same maneuver and is able to hit it with Hunter’s pistol. He connects with a round but still can’t disable the device. The turret fires back at the pistol but misses. Carlos makes another wisecrack about it and Spencer tries his luck again, popping out of cover and back again quickly but failing to hit. Spencer steps back and Aleksy tries again with Hunter’s pistol. As he tries to reach his hand around to take a shot the weapon fires, as if it was anticipating the next shot. Aleksy pulls his weapon away just in time to avoid being shot.

We all consider the situation briefly and Aleksy finally breaks the deadlock by leaning his shotgun around the corner, attempting to lock-on with his missile pod; he’s successful in doing so and doesn’t immediately take return fire as the turret aims at him. Aleksy then fires the missile and destroys the turret utterly. Spencer recovers the destroyed SMG and slings it, sneaking down to the end of the hallway opposite the turret to take a look around the corner. He’s faced with a small square room with a turret in it. He briefly considers running underneath the turret to disable it but decides against. Rejoining the rest of the group, they have turned the other corner and come to a secured door, which Spencer breaks into. It leads to a short hallway, terminating in an open door leading into a large room. Four men are kneeling on the ground with a phallic turret mounted on the ceiling. The men are yellow-skinned construction workers, three of them armed with PDW’s and one with an unidentified weapon. The doorway yields no cover and thankfully the only ones in the hallway are Spencer and Aleksy whose stealth suits are both activated. One of the bad guys is able to make out Spencer anyway, even with the stealth suit, and all four of them noticeably take aim at him. The others back up and Spencer scrambles around the corner to safety.

Hunter begins trying to wire explosives to toss around the corner in an effort to hurt/disorient them. Meanwhile Spencer begins to try and talk to the bad guys to stall them. He tries to bluff that they have wired the main control tower of the Arcology with explosives and that if they don’t accept our demands that we’ll set them off; we have nothing to lose. After stalling for a bit Aleksy lobs two pounds of plastic explosives around the corner blindly, hitting the target spot and disrupting the people inside heavily and taking out the turret.

Carlos steps around the corner and shoots at one of the targets in the center of the room, hitting him with one out of two shotgun slugs and striking him squarely in the torso. Aleksy also leans out and fires, also hitting with one shot. He seems to strike a vital spot, actually punching a hole through his body for some of his vital organs to explode out of in a nice blood streak in the opposite direction. Hunter begins trying to talk to them, with no response; Spencer begins sneaking down the corridor. We shout for them to surrender.

Someone responds that the woman we’re after is being held here with a gun to her head and threatens to kill her. We argue with the voice that killing the woman serves no purpose, that not only would she no longer be available to him but we could easily get away with all the same information. Aleksy threatens to shoot a missile into its server room and destroy it and informs the AI that it has no option if it wants to leave.

We begin discussing with the AI that its option is to leave in storage cubes. It seems to warm up to the prospect of leaving the Arcology. It asks to leave in Carlos’ body; Carlos and Spencer discuss the matter, as it bears resemblance to Carlos’ previous situation. Spencer indicates that he doesn’t yet trust this AI and that allowing him to co-inhabit Carlos body may not be wise. Spencer agrees that helping the AI to leave would be a good thing but in an inactive state might be best.

Meanwhile Hunter talks to the AI further and is able to convince it to leave safely. The AI downloads itself into a cybershell body and agrees to leave after us, and we both will go our separate ways and that we can take the woman with us. Hunter goes and retrieves the girl.

A few minutes later the AI downloads itself to a humaniform body and leaves ahead of us. When the elevator back up doesn’t return for us we message Satori of the situation and advise him to stop the cybershell.

Satori is able to intercept it and declares that he can’t allow it to leave. The cybershell charges him but Satori is able to get three shots off, hitting with all three and dropping it. Satori turns off the cybershell and copies the AI to a data cube. We end there for the night and each get 3 character points.

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Session 16 -- The Battle Begins
Are those mechanical Shelobs??

John Foster mentions that previously his resistance movement has lacked strategic leadership. Their goal is to get Rachel Morris out of the Arcology quickly to help spread their story. John also hands over a second data cube to Aleksy which contains a map with the location they believe she is kept. Unfortunately they only can provide a map to an elevator near the construction zone. However beyond that elevator they don’t have information on the layout.

Foster indicates that his forces will provide a distraction (about sixty of them) and that will allow our group to access the construction area. He also mentions that they can provide limited equipment to us; he goes down a short list but we seem to get the sense that they are holding back on something. Foster mentions that they were holding back on some equipment to maximize their “distraction” but that they might be more useful to us. He also indicates that they’ll provide us some micromissile pods in case we run into some heavier cybershells.

We figure that whatever distraction John Foster and his people put on it needs to last for awhile – about an hour and a half, based on what we need to do in the construction area.

After deliberation we come up with a plan. For starters, Satori will provide false intelligence to the security AI’s that will lead some of their forces into ambushes. Shortly after the dissenters to incite a riot at the main entrance/exit to the Arcology. From there the rioters will retreat to one of the nearby buildings and hole up there. Meanwhile a small group of Hunter, Aleksy, Carlos and Spencer will break into the construction zone to locate the medical lab where we believe Rachel is being held and retrieve her, then get her out. IQ will provide strategic leadership overall while Satori provides support from his safe room.

We execute the plan. In the first half-hour our “distraction” begins, successfully taking the security forces by surprise and leaving them confused afterwards as we prepare to move towards our defensible positions. Casualties are at about 10% on either side.

Meanwhile at the elevator Spencer, Aleksy, Hunter and Carlos make their entrance. Spencer takes a PDW, Aleksy and Carlos take the ETC shotguns with micromissile pods attached, and Hunter takes his standard pistol. The PDW has 3 magazines of APHC, while the shotguns each have 16 total shells of APDS apiece. Aleksy and Spencer keep their sneak suits engaged. Spencer hacks into the control systems to open it. He’s able to do so in a non-destructive manner so that it looks as though nothing is amiss. We leave surveillance in the elevator to alert us to when it’s used next. We ride the elevator down a couple stories underground. The elevator opens into a hallway chewed out of solid rock by construction swarms. The lighting is dim but our optics are able to compensate. We take off down a corridor towards a robotic factory. After about eight yards we hit a “T” intersection, at which we turn left. However as we get ready to turn Spencer is able to discern some seams in the wall that look like a well-concealed secret door.

The first time Spencer isn’t able to hack it so, after consulting with his companions, they agree to continue covering him while he tries again. Unfortunately he comes to the same result. Three minutes into the attempt the left-hand door opens to emit some kind of arachnid robot. On reflex Carlos fires two armor-piercing slugs at the creature, hitting it squarely but failing to severely wound it. The creature scuttles up to Carlos. Some of us recognize the creature as a polypede as two more follow it out from the door behind. Aleksy is able to turn and fire off a shot at the near one, hitting it squarely in its center of mass twice. Spencer rattles off nine rounds from his SMG which wounds it slightly and seems to slow it down slightly but not stop it.

Carlos, seeing how Spencer’s fire slowed the creature, aims at what look to be its vital components and hits twice solidly. The creature is unable to sustain functionality with that blow and it shuts down. The one behind tries to grab Carlos but he’s able to dodge out of the way of its steely grasp. Aleksy shouts at Hunter to move out of the way and after Hunter relocates, aiming for its vital components. However as he fires the creature dodges out of the way. Spencer is able to use its dodging movement to fire off nine more shots at its vitals, striking it critically, stunning it.

The robot in back tries to scramble over its disabled brother and grapple Spencer but is unable to do so effectively. Carlos fires his remaining two loaded shotgun rounds at the last one that’s standing but it dodges out of the way. Aleksy begins aiming his micromissile launcher at the dogpile of creatures. Spencer unloads another nine rounds in the one that grabbed for him, wounding it badly but not enough to stop it yet.

Carlos, now out of ammo, drops his shotgun and prepares to defend himself against the grapple, parrying the creature’s attempt to grab him. Aleksy’s micromissile streaks out of the launcher, putting a hole into it that it can’t recover from. Spencer tries again to fire nine rounds into the vitals of only operational one but is unable to connect with any of the rounds. It lunges for Aleksy, who dodges backwards out of the way. He’s able to strike it squarely in its vitals with his remaining two rounds. Both rounds do severe damage to the creature, which ceases operating before it even hits the ground from the force of the shot.

With the enemies dealt with Spencer resumes operating on the door.

We all get three character points.

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Session 15 -- Progress!
The players are on the board...

Inside Aleksy’s head Queue is able to track Spencer and his pursuers and after a short bit of running is able to catch up just as Spencer is being choked unconscious by the remaining two assailants. A slight retcon happens and Spencer wakes up a bit more than before, regaining some FP’s, but is still being choked while pinned to the ground.

Aleksy runs up behind them and is able to step up softly behind them. A powerful fist to the head of the one doing the choking violently adjusts the geometry of his skull and he passes out. The other one pinning Spencer reacts swiftly and lets go of Spencer. Aleksy proceeds to give him wrestling lessons and is quickly overwhelmed by Aleksy’s artificially enhanced muscles. Aleksy proceeds to apply a choke hold to him and restrains him. Spencer offers him the choice to either talk or pass out but as the poor guy is being puppeted he elects the latter. Spencer restrains his arms so he can’t try and attack Aleksy and the guy passes slowly into unconsciousness. The two of them turn on their stealth suits and get moving back to their hideout. Once again there seems to be no signs of a large organized hunt occurring in the Arcology.

Satori, who was able to determine that it was Spencer and Aleksy he saw make a break for it, follows the trail. He sees several bodies on the ground along the way, several of them picking themselves up off the ground while others are still convulsing from electrical shocks. He’s unable to notice Aleksy or Spencer in their stealth suits. Satori sticks around a bit to watch the unconscious folks. He notes while watching the unconscious ones come back awake that after about 20 seconds of time they exhibit a sudden change in body language and behavior, noting as well strong signs of confusion. Eventually a group of emergency responder medtechs show up (a paramedic and some patrol officers) and help these people. They don’t seem to exhibit any strange behaviors. Satori also notes that people in the area seem to distance themselves with odd occurrences such as what happened in public where the chase started as well as the area where the chase ended. Satori also tries to monitor the communications of the pursuers before and after their behavioral change. He’s only able to detect an extremely small change from before and after the abrupt behavioral alteration although it seems that there’s a small drop-off in activity that corresponds. It doesn’t seem to correspond to a teleoperation ending.

Back at their hideout while resting up Spencer takes a look at the data from the query he ran while connected to the network and received no hits on his search for Joshua’s facial image in the Arcology database.

IQ and Satori confer about what Satori saw during the chase and what IQ learned at the bar the previous night. They plan for IQ to hit the dead drop while Satori heads to the location of the meeting where the other three are currently holed up. Satori decides to try to hack the Arcology’s network and learn something more about what’s going on. He’s initially able to have some success, gaining more access after a few hours of work at it.

Several hours later Satori’s hack progresses well and after about four hours and 20 minutes he gains full access. He starts by downloading logs. Meanwhile Aleksy sees on the security feed in the hallway the four individuals who we previously met with. Spencer and Aleksy activate their stealth suits, take positions and hit the lights. Hunter takes cover in the doorway to the back room. All three of us draw our electrolasers. The four of them first try the door, find it locked, and then knock. We remain concealed. Outside the door, via our bug, we see them pull shotguns and an electrolaser. One of them fiddles with the door controls. Our feed goes silent. After about a minute the door slides open and someone outside says “hello?”

After a short delay Spencer responds, keeping the lights off and staying hidden. He and Joshua are able to negotiate that Joshua walks to the doorway, unarmed, while Spencer decloaks and holsters his sidearm, turns on the lights and stands up. Aleksy and Hunter stay hidden. Joshua asks what we’re doing here; Spencer responds that we’re here to find someone. Spencer asks him in return whether the people who chased him earlier were with Joshua or not; he responds that they were not; he’s not entirely sure who they’re with, that’s something that someone named John needs to answer. At saying that name Aleksy and Spencer are able to read from his body language strong excitement at the prospect. He proposes that he’s going to go and get one of his associates to talk to us, which he’s very excited about. He asks if there’s anyone else in the room with him. Spencer responds that he’s alone in the room, quite convincingly; however Joshua doesn’t entirely buy it. In any case, he asks if there are more than three of us; Spencer this time thinks he’s convinced him quite well that’s the case. Joshua also asks whether we brought with us any more fancy equipment like our sneak suits; Spencer lets him know that possibly, yes. Spencer convinces Joshua to depart with his armed accomplices, considering that the room is currently a rather poor strategic position for us and that Joshua is departing to return with additional people. Joshua agrees and says he’s going to bring someone by named Seamus.

About 15 minutes later Spencer goes out to update the dead drop and provides an update as to what’s happened. He heads back to the room in time for the meeting. As far as he’s able to tell nobody followed him.

At the appointed time the original four plus a short man in a hoodie come down the hall. They knock and we let them into the room. Seamus takes off his hood – he’s a Hecate-class bioroid with yellow skin, the same kind of one that we believe murdered the cook Finley. Spencer does a good job of controlling his reaction to seeing the man. Only those two come in, the remaining two stay outside the room. Aleksy has yet to decloak his sneak suit

Hunter walks into the room, brandishing his electrolaser, and demands a gene sample from the bioroid, which he agrees to. About five minutes will be needed for Hunter to analyze the sample. In the meantime Spencer and Satori sit down at the room’s table with the two of them. Spencer takes care to take the seat so he’s facing into the larger room while Satori is at the head of the table. The two guests have their backs to the room:

Seamus indicates that they’re being held in the arcology against their will. They indicated we need to extract Rachel quickly as there isn’t much time. Seamus tells the story of how a group of them wanted to leave the arcology but found they couldn’t as management indicated their contract was for ten years. They unionized and in response several of the group’s leaders suddenly disappeared so the organized resistance went underground. Things “got weird” six or seven months ago and so they tried to get word out. Rachel Morris showed up a bit later and was able to uncover this resistance movement as she tried to gather information for a public release of what’s going on. Seamus mentioned that the Arcology seems a bit too well funded so it’s probably receiving money from an outside source. He also related that there’s a general lack of cybershells in the building but they’re constructing cybershell factories.

Satori indicates that we do in fact need to speak to this John Foster person, the apparent leader of the resistance. Seamus indicated that Foster is in hiding in an incomplete part of the arcology with some others who can’t be out in public. They agree to bring back John Foster that next night. They also specially request the presence of the SAI in their party, IQ, to join them. They don’t make mention of Carlos. They leave afterwards. Once they’ve left Aleksy finally disables his sneak suit.

Spencer goes out again to update the dead drop with an account of the meeting and their request for IQ’s presence. He also asks Carlos to continue to lie low, that he’s their ace in the hole. At the same time he describes a signal that’s meant to get Carlos’ attention in a hurry if they need to make plans quickly.

We all lie low in the apartment for the day so as not to attract attention. Satori and Spencer discuss that an emergent intelligence may be at work in the Arcology that’s taken control over some of the arcology’s AI’s.

That evening John Foster and Seamus show up for our meeting. Foster is a rugged individual who’s assigned to the construction zone normally. He looks around the room, taking note of IQ’s high-end cyberdoll. He states that we don’t have much time left to get Rachel Morris out. He stated that somebody in the Arcology is bending/breaking rules with puppet implants being forcibly installed into people. Rachel was captured a short time ago by security forces who reportedly were “acting unusually” and were out of uniform (puppetted). Foster believes that they’re holding her in a sealed-off area of the manufacturing plant where they believe the implantation of the puppet implants is happening. They have about fifty men and so if we can provide supplies to help that would be of great benefit. Foster talks with IQ, who isn’t sure that he’s able to condone such action as the puppet implants may be sanctioned by agreements with the arcology. Satori states that he has evidence that something beyond normal agreements with the Arcology is happening, and Hunter states that the agreement with the Arcology doesn’t support forcibly puppetting people. Satori also provides some of his findings to IQ, who looks it over and agrees that it’s OK to act.

John Foster retrieves from a flesh pocket a data cube that he says was smuggled in a few months ago, stating that it’s a skill set that might be useful. Satori looks it over – it’s a military-grade skillset for strategy and tactics. Satori makes a copy. We end on that note and all get four character points.

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Session 14 -- The Plot Thickens...
Chases, gestalt intelligences, puppets oh my!

Back in Spencer’s room Aleksy and Hunter complete packing up gear. There’s still two minutes left until Spencer’s paralysis wears off. Aleksy takes him over his shoulder and they start heading out. They decide to head for the neighborhood of the failed meeting from earlier. Spencer regains muscle control shortly after and he picks up his share of gear to carry. Along the way we duck into a dark corner and Aleksy and Spencer put on their sneak suits and put their normal clothing back on over them, just in case.

The place is pretty empty as we walk around. We take the elevator back down to the floor we got off at for the meeting. We try to provide the passcode we previously used to get to that location and, fortunately, the passcode works. However at the door to the meeting room it remains locked. Spencer picks the electronic lock. The room is still dark inside. Spencer drops his normal clothing, turns on his sneak suit, drops his multispectral goggles and sneaks inside the room. Aleksy follows. Spencer stealths up to the other door in the room and indicates to Aleksy to cover the door. Spencer waves the door open, which it does while Aleksy covers. The room, and the rest of the place, are clear. With the door closed they stand down and begin sweeping the room for bugs. Additionally Spencer and Hunter run their forensics swarms over the room. Aleksy places monitoring bugs at the end of the hallway to alert against intruders.

The rest of the night passes uneventfully.

Satori, Carlos and IQ show up for breakfast together as normal. However the other three are not present. He sends a short burst to Carlos asking about them, but he also hasn’t seen them. In fact they miss the start of the scheduled event they’re to attend. Satori also can’t locate them via the arcology’s standard tracking infrastructure. Satori continues to search location logging for them. IQ picks up the data drop from the previous day containing a recording of the meeting from Spencer’s perspective, including how to get to the location. Satori goes by in about half an hour and picks it up as well. The recording contains the directions to the meet location. From watching the recording Satori is able to figure out that the meeting was in an area with few people in it, late at night. Additionally as their location monitoring turned off prior to attending to the meeting it looks like they’ve been up to some suspicious activity and likely attracted some negative attention from the establishment.

Satori and IQ sit down somewhere inconspicuous and talk over their conclusions via secure communications. Additionally IQ considers his analysis of the recording he took of the people exchanging lots of burst transmission traffic nearby him from the day before. He finds quite a bit more data is involved than a normal conversation. He also discovers, from the metadata involved, a level of synchronization between the individuals that indicates potentially some kind of gestalt intelligence or a hive mind of some fashion. IQ mentions it to Satori, who reviews the footage and feels that outwardly they’re exhibiting normal behavior.

IQ walks around town trying to locate via facial recognition some of the people that were in the meeting with Spencer, Aleksy and Hunter and comes up empty. Satori looks through the public police blotter and sees no “wanted” posts for them. Security forces also don’t seem to have altered their work as if they’re looking for someone. Satori looks over personnel records and finds about 30 full-time dedicated security officers as opposed to the normal volunteers. All of them looked to have checked in to their rooms at the appropriate times that previous evening. He’s able to figure out to some extent what their shifts are and when based on how their locations stop being listed publically while they’re on-shift. Satori analyzes the available data and tries to look for inconsistencies in their locations in their off-time, trying to find errors or falsehoods. He finds that about 30% of the full-time security personnel (10 or so) have some unusual “holes” in their location tracking that indicate activity when they’re not supposed to be on-shift. He sends that info to IQ for consideration. He figured out clearly that they’re up to activities that someone doesn’t want on the record. He finds that the previous evening includes such instances and provides those security officers’ identities. Satori alerts Carlos that something may be up and to be alert; Carlos indicates he’s always alert.

Spencer, although he’d prefer to lie low for awhile, talks it over with Aleksy and they decide they need to get word to the others as to what’s happened. He does his best to disguise himself and around noon when the streets should be busy heads out for the dead drop. He wears his nanoweave jacket over the sneak suit, concealing his electrolaser as well as some lockpick tools. He makes it there and stops before walking up to it to check out the area and make sure it’s safe. He isn’t able to detect people looking in on him and so he heads to the dead drop. He’s able to leave a recording from the previous night and information about where they’re hiding. Spencer then takes his time going back to ensure he’s not being followed.

Meanwhile IQ and Satori track down one of the security officers from the previous evening, who happens to be at a club. IQ goes clubbing. Meanwhile Satori decides to investigate what he finds odd as the need for security personnel at all in the Arcology. To do so he applies for and is granted access to the external internet outside of the arcology. He’s informed that his use of the internet will not be monitored unless he tries to upload data to their internal network or downloads data over a certain limit. Satori is skeptical of that, of course, expecting they’re looking at it to some extent. Satori is able to locate information about “Personal Autonomy Depravation Syndrome” where people who have lost their autonomy (such as in environments like this one) will periodically lash out as a result. Only about 5% or so experience this and most can be caught, with only a small number slipping through the cracks. In a facility the size of the Arcology maybe 20 individuals would be caught. Satori considers whether memetic penetration would affect those percentages and begins researching. It takes the remainder of the evening to research and analyze and determines the two may be linked somewhat, yielding in an environment the size of the Arcology maybe 30-50 individuals backlashing against their loss of autonomy – some with violence.

That evening IQ finds the data drop from earlier in the day and reviews it. He contacts Satori about a late night snack and provides him the data from the drop. After they briefly discuss IQ goes clubbing to find the security guy who went MIA the previous night. IQ is easily able to locate the guy by himself at the bar. Luke Godfrey is nursing a drink. IQ is able to tell that he seems to have received some kind of medical attention to his head recently. IQ locates a random woman by herself in the club and asks her to dance. He’s able to make a passable show of dancing. Eventually he offers to get her a drink; she accepts and asks for a beer. IQ makes his way to the bar next to Mr. Godfrey. He looks to have already downed several shots. IQ tries to engage him in some casual conversation about his drinking and a bad day. Luke acknowledges a rough night last night on the job. IQ asks what happened and Luke indicates that he got in a fight. IQ makes a comment about him at least giving worse than he got. From Luke’s body language and from what IQ can tell from his voice it sounds like he’s unsure of what exactly happened to him. IQ buys him a drink and Luke makes some offhand comment about her being “fun” despite her average looks. IQ dances with her for a bit, sits down to chat. He messages Satori that the two of them should meet up when they’re free.

During the day Aleksy and Spencer go out in disguise with sneak suits on underneath. They head to the construction area and are stopped by some password-protected doors monitored by openly-displayed cameras. We quickly decide to leave to avoid detection. While walking about the Arcology and seeing no public effort to locate us Spencer begins to doubt that there is an official Arcology effort going on to locate them based on the lack of large-scale presence.

As a test Spencer connected to the network to perform a facial recognition search for “Joshua”. Resolution of the query took 1-2 minutes. At the :00:75 mark, 10 people in the vicinity were puppet-controlled, zeroing in on Spencer’s location. Spencer attempted to distract (Fast Talk) the nearby groups of people by claiming that someone was brandishing a gun. Three people were taken in by this misdirection. Spencer then tried to stealth away but failed his check, while his opposition rolled well to follow him. A chase then took place.

Switch to present tense! It starts out looking dicey for our protagonists. For the first minute the puppets remain close on Spencer’s heels, although Aleksy races to catch up to the crowd. The next thirty seconds bring no respite; Spencer remains clearly in the sights of the pack. Aleksy meanwhile manages to grab hold of the back of one’s shirt and flip her into the puppet running next to her, knocking him down while the tossee keeps her feet. This angers the two who immediately jump at Aleksy. One manages to get a grip, but proves no match for Aleksy’s newly augmented muscles. He wrenches free and runs off with both hot on his tail. This game of mobile grappling continues as Aleksy proves unable to easily shake them and they fail to find a way to latch on. Enough is enough, our burly Russian turns to engage his pursuers directly, but misses his first punch at the nearest face. A furious batch of grab, parry, miss, grab, parry and judo throw them together ensues. Aleksy’s fist then connects with the man’s cheek, delivering an audible crack and an enforced nap to the unfortunate soul. Emotionlessly, the woman ducks out of the way of his next punch headed right at her stomach. But she can’t avoid the followup blow straight to the chest which knocks her off her feet. Still on the ground, but beginning to struggle to her feet, she doesn’t see Aleksys’s foot come down and end her chase for the day. With nobody left to hinder him, Aleksy sneaks off to safety.

While this is happening, five continue charging after Spencer. For a few minutes the stalemate continues. But then the five begin to coordinate with the surveillance AIs and close the distance on him. Five grabs later Spencer remains free, but can’t put any more distance behind him. He isn’t so lucky on the next round; one latches on. He twists himself free and tries to run on. Frustrated and unable to shake the group, Spencer grabs his electrolaser out of its hidden holster and tries to end it the hard way. He fires nearly blindly behind him as he continues to run, but can’t hit anyone. Realizing he can’t take down five people with just one pistol, he turns the corner and starts running full out again. No luck! A man grabs Spencer as he makes the turn, and a quick parry attempt with the zap glove fails. Spencer can’t break free, but the man doesn’t manage to take him to the ground either. One more puppet finds a hold and grabs onto Spencer’s legs. Combined, they manage to drag him to the ground. Almost helpless on the ground, Spencer can’t avoid the third person jumping on the pile. They unsuccessfully try to pin him immediately. A wild swing with the zap glove misses all three. This continues for a few rounds until Spencer manages to connect with the zap glove on one of them. She goes down, hard. Another swing, another hit and the next one goes down hard. The remaining two join the grapple. Spencer gloves one more down. Then the remaining two finally get him pinned. While one keeps him pinned, the other begins to choke him. Fifteen seconds later, blackness descends over Spencer’s eyes…

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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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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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Session 11 -- A Reporter Missing in Action
The Starfire Consortium Arcology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

List of Items brought in by PC:

What do people bring in? (concealed items)

Aleksy (16.7 lbs)

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

IQ (13.1 lbs)

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

Hunter (9.2 lbs)

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

Spencer (32 lbs)

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

Carlos (7.9 lbs)

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

Equipment Detail:

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

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Session 9/10 -- The Big Fight!
And this one gets wrapped up in a bow...

After some discussion we come up with a tactical arrangement:

(picture that I haven’t figured out how to upload to OP)

Additionally we place surveillance near the two access ramps so we can know about any vehicles that access it, as the highway is rarely used. We’ll have a fifth buzzbot that’s elsewhere to respond to the elevated highway if needed. We place an explosive charge to blow out the exterior door in the northwest corner (“door #1”) and tangler grenades at the entrances on remote detonators. Carlos will take the room in the northwest corner and Aleksy will hide in the rubble pile in the southeast corner. The two people ready to meet the buyers will be Carlos and Hunter while Aleksy is hiding in the southeast corner by the rubble. Spencer is hidden in the northwest room. Carlos borrows Aleksy’s SMG. We park our SUV out back. We split the goods up into separate cases next to all of us to avoid explosions in our general vicinity, lest they destroy the merchandise.

We receive notification from the Maple Syndicate that the coordinates for the meet have been transmitted. At the appointed meeting time a smart car shows up outside north and slightly west of the building. Another one shows up southwest of the building, on the back side. The northwest vehicle disgorges a volkspider that trundles up to the building and announces it wants to inspect the merchandise before any payment. Hunter bristles at them bringing a second vehicle and demands they remove the second vehicle first as we obviously have a small presence inside the building and don’t care to be outnumbered. They flatly refuse. The volkspider walks in a short distance further and once again asks to view the merchandise. We see both SUV’s disgorge armed guys; three in back and three out front. Q starts the engine of the SUV out back in preparation to use it to block off the back alley if needed.

Hunter recognizes that the speech coming through the volkspider sounds very much like Alex. Hunter mentions this to Spencer and asks him to see if the transmission can be traced. Spencer lets him know we don’t have the gear to do that.

Meanwhile things escalate in the conversation between Hunter and the volkspider (Alex). Alex announces that they’re taking aim at Hunter with a missile while outside one of the men out front kneels and takes aim. Hunter shows them that the case he’s standing over is not empty; Alex indicates that he doesn’t especially care. The Techspider skitters outside; Hunter and Carlos take cover.

The buzzbot on the freeway takes aim at the guy who’s aiming at us. As the guys in back begin moving towards the alley they unload on our vehicle out back, damaging it severely and halving its movement. It still begins backing up towards the mouth of the alley slowly. The car makes its roll to remain conscious.

Carlos takes aim at one of the bad guys through the rear hole in the building while staying in heavy cover. IQ gives his buzzbots orders to pick targets and to engage once the bad guys begin firing. Aleksy covers the rear entrance as does Hunter. The bad guys in back move up towards the rear entrance and the guys out front move towards their entrances. We all root for them to try door #1. Spencer takes cover in his room and begins aiming at one of the bad guys out the rear door. Alex’s techspider moves up and takes the northeast corner.

Next round. Carlos loses aim at his original target but picks up a new one for his action this round. Aleksy continues to threaten a square of the rear entrance. The car rolls and fails to pass out. However while it rolls forward slightly it isn’t really able to move forward further. Spencer continues to aim out his room at the approaching bad guy. As one of the bad guys walks within a hex of door #1 Hunter sets off the explosive, throwing him back three yards.

Next round. Carlos takes a shot at the one he can see after taking a turn of aim, unloading 15 SMG rounds into a poor bad guy who is blown back and out of the fight. Aleksy continues watching the back door. Hunter ducks down behind cover. As one crosses his aim Aleksy rattles off 15 shots at him with his rifle, hitting with five. A spray of blood erupts as one hits a vital spot while the remaining shots tear into him painfully. He quickly comes to regret getting out of bed in the morning as a hail of lead ventilates his skin and knocks him out of the fight. As one of the bad guys walks up to the corner of the front entrance Hunter sets off one of the explosives. At first it looks like it only glances the bad guy but the spray of blood and body parts tell another tale as his body density takes a dramatic dive (image at right). The volkspider is blown backwards two full yards by the blast despite it being three yards away from the blast; it regains its footing quickly. Spencer takes aim at the back door to threaten one of the squares. The volkspider stops moving as if it were no longer being operated. The one remaining bad guy at the rear retreats towards his car.

Next round, although we’re somewhat out of rounds at this point as this has turned into a rout. IQ orders his buzzbots to fire on the attackers’ vehicles, attacking the tires; the ones he targets explode and disable the vehicles.

The remaining two lay down arms and surrender. Hunter examines the survivors, who are in very bad shape. Hunter is able to do some dramatic field surgery and save one more of them; alltogether three survive, whom we put Faraday bags over the heads of. As for loot, Carlos takes an ASCX 2088 Storm Carbine death machine weapon. There are some ETE shotguns, some PDWs and pistols, electrolasers and a shotgun with a micromissile pod attached that finds a loving new home with Aleksy.

Carlos goes over to gaze over his victims but is able to restrain himself from further hurting them. As soon as the bad guys surrender Spencer runs over to the volkspider to try and get something useful out of it; it’s shut down.

We quickly realize that there’s an additional person sitting in the front vehicle, who comes out with his hands up (picture at right). As it turns out it’s Alex. We call up the Maple Syndicate, who says they’ve been watching and are on their way. He’s rather un-talkative; we toss a Faraday bag over his head and restrain him. Hunter verifies his identity on the way back and Spencer reports to Argus that we have Alex in custody.

We all generate a two-point contact in the form of Gardner. The Maples show up; they agree to let us take Alex while they take the rest of the Asians, and let us take the weapons too.

We return to our safe house with our loot and with Alex. Spencer immediately begins hacking worthwhile weapons so they can be useable, starting with the ASCX. We drive back and get a commendation from Argus group on a job well done. Spencer reroutes delivery of Carlos’ combat shotgun back home.

Back home, enough time elapses that we all get paid a lot; in fact we get paid twice over the course of the available time. For 20-pt wealthy sort you’ll get $20,400 (after living expenses) at the beginning of the time off and the same again at the end of the period.

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Session 8 -- Things Get Hairy
But it's entirely the PCs' fault!

After the bullets finish flying we load into the SUV and head for the hospital to get medical care for Hunter. On the way Spencer tries to give him first aid for the gunshot wounds, using some healthy doses of bandage spray to stop the bleeding. Performing some additional first aid Spencer is also able to patch him up additionally somewhat on the way. We give it some further thought along the way and decide it would be best to avoid the hospital and the associated questions about the firefight. Instead we head back to the safe house via a circuitous route to ensure we’re not being followed.

IQ downloads a physician software package that allows his techspider to do surgery on Hunter to remove the bullets. He also gets a dose of ascepaline that dramatically boosts his natural healing ability.

Once back at the safe house Spencer tells the rest of the group that he recognizes the group that attacked us from his FBI work investigating that gang. He proposes that we plant evidence to make it look like the Locos Tambien are trying to move in on the business of the Maple Leaf Syndicate and thus be a threat to them worth taking out. There’s some discussion as to the riskiness of that pursuit and whether it would detract from our current investigation. Carlos also pipes up that likely the gangbangers desire to shoot Spencer and repossess himself.

We decide to do the interview with Gardner, Aleksy’s contact who has connections with the Maple Syndicate, especially considering the two Asian men who were seen with Alex had spoken with Gardner. They were seen outside of a nightclub, briefly talking. We concoct a plan for Hunter and Spencer to pose as investigators hired to find out about a hit scheduled on the two Asians and stop it or to perform the hit, depending on his reactions to our conversation. Because they were found talking to Gardner we’re talking to him. The secretive nature of criminal cells in this area would allow us to show up without knowledge of the Asians’ whereabouts.

We go and visit Gardner at a front business he occupies during the day. Thankfully the store is empty. Gardner is behind the counter. He initially “doesn’t remember” the conversation but with a little prodding from Spencer and Hunter he decides to remember a bit better. He indicated the two Asians were new in town representing a new buyer who’s looking for some high-end electronics – small, genius computers and brainbugs. He doesn’t seem to helpful so Aleksy knocks a few expensive TV’s. We press him for some information quickly as he seems to have made a call of some kind. Alekxy then abruptly puts him into an arm bar and smashes his face into the countertop.

Meanwhile IQ sputters about this being an unacceptable course of action, etc etc.

Hunter asks Carlos to bring the vehicle around so we can drive him away before his help arrives. Just as we stuff him into a vehicle another one roars around the corner. Queue takes off driving while Aleksy rolls down a window and looses a burst from his SMG at the pursuing vehicle. Meanwhile Spencer takes over watching our “guest,” who is now wearing a Faraday-hood, holding an electrolaser on him. Carlos prepares to shoot at the vehicle as well with his pistol. Aleksy aims for a couple seconds and then fires off about fifteen rounds from his SMG, hitting the windshield with four rounds. The first slams into the front passenger’s torso while two more blast the driver and nobody knows where the fourth goes. However it doesn’t matter as the driver loses control of the vehicle (apparently AIs make poor pilots when you need to illegally maneuver rapidly through a city!). Carlos also blasts the car with three rounds, dealing some significant damage to a passenger. The car stops dead as we make our getaway through traffic.

We begin discussing the matter in earnest with Gardner, encouraging him that him helping us will get him out of this situation. Gardner indicates the meet is happening at their main buying center in two days on Monday at 2am in the penthouse of one of the larger dilapidated structures in the area; it’s not far from where we’re staying. Gardner indicates that given his disappearance the meet may not happen at all or, perhaps, they’ll take extra security precautions.

We have this little talk with him while driving back to our safe house where we clean the car with Hunter’s forensics kit while Spencer goes over its electronics.

We demand Gardner call the Asians to set up a different meeting, given that he’s effectively the communications person for the Maple Syndicate. He asks for his wearable VI and Spencer demands he grant access to monitor outbound communications, which he does. Gardner calls the Asians to move the meeting to that night, as their purchases are ready. He and the Asians go back and forth due to the sudden change in plains and the Asians say they’ll think it over and get back to him in about six hours.

We think it over a bit more and realize that with the value of the gear that the Asians are buying and their purported lack of money they probably are not going to purchase the equipment but instead plan to steal it from the Maples. After talking it over with Gardner he’s reasonable and thinks that us and the Maples can come to an understanding regarding the situation and that we can actually help to prevent significant loss to the Syndicate. We produce a sanitized information packet for the Maples (that breaks the minimum amount of confidentiality) that provides strong evidence that the Asians have bad intent with this purchase. We also make it clear that we’re after their buyer.

Gardner’s boss calls back and says they’re willing to deal, that they’re going to do the meet afterwards. However we’re now responsible for security for the meet. We agree to their terms. The Asians call back after six hours as previously stated. After some negotiation they agree to move the meet with a 10% discount provided by the Maples, which Gardner finally agrees to given that they probably have no intention of paying.

The Maples give us access to the meet location two hours in advance. Gardner informs us that the Maples normally have four or five guards present so likely the Asians will bring additional security as well.

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