In the aftermath of the frat party, Team Quattro and Sully split up, with the street medic hopping on his bike and Alganon saying farewell to his admirers and meeting the others in his Van on the street.
Meanwhile, CB messages Topsy, and gets a call from Leslie who got the heads up from Katarina and is now expecting him. They start heading back to Puyallup, when Alganon realizes someone is trying to hack into his comm. With CB’s deck bricked, it leaves them all exposed.
“Hey CB, you got any ideas?”
“Jutht thut it off,” he mumbles through broken teeth. “Once we get to Hello Nurthe!, they’ll have lotht uth in all the noithe.”
Alganon, a regular site at the club by now since bouncing over the summer, drives around to the loading dock in the back. Benzine helps the decker inside, and Leslie gets to work. She hooks Benzine up to an IV while they wait since he looked like shit too, but in both cases there’s not a whole lot of work Leslie can do, given [[:benzine | *Benzine’s panicked, last ditch healing.
The team talks in detail about the plan; Benzine is a little jumpy on this one, given the threats the parole officer made about the troll’s pet project and he wants a Plan B. Namely, a way to turn the tables on [[:kosmoe-sumatomo | Sumatomo]]. The decker is surprisingly optimistic though, given what just happened to him. He needs a new deck, an AI or hell, even Gojira to help. They all agree the latter would be quicker.
“Hey, look who I found,” Leslie said, coming in with dental prosthetics for Cobalt. It was the tattooed elf Ghost Bear, his signature tattoo running up his neck still looking fresh..
“I thought you were dead,” Benzine said, easing back into his chair.
He surveyed the scene and grinned. “This is what happens when I go out of town for a bit?”
“Ith been Thix monthth!” CB said.
“I had . . . things to take care of. Bring me up to speed.”
The fill him in on everything that had happened with the Puente job, and the blackmail, leading to the current job: breaking into Exogen22’s lab, and finding the prototype treatment for CFD. They ask Leslie while she’s there if she has heard anything about progress being made treating CFD. She says she’ll look into it. Benzine even offers her a sample. They talk a little more about their plan, but soon after decide to part ways. First things first, they need to scout that facility. And to do that, they need to get some rest.
The party splits again, with CB getting dropped off at Topsy’s. She tries to get him to retire, but he waves her off, asking her about A.I.s, and asking to speak to one to set up a meet with Gojira. She thinks about his idea; sentient Matrix beings and Technomancers which have a foot in both the ‘trix and meatspace allying? She’s heard crazier. So she tells CB a tale of a wild A.I. called Deadbeef, and sets up a meet.
The others head back to the Firehouse, where Benzine gives Ghost Bear a brief tour of the place, trying to skirt the issue of T.R.O.L.L. Since running into Sumatomo, he wants to talk about it with as few people as possible. Ghost Bear goes into his own history, talking about how he was born around the awakening. He was found by Yuri after his parents were killed by some pre-humanis sect, and since then he’s been considered part of the family. But recently, he’s gotten a lead on the people who killed them. Being his friend, Benzine offers Ghost Bear his help, owing in no small part to the fact that he has his own axe to grind with Humanis and their ilk.
August 31st, 2075. Saturday.
CB returns to home base the following morning, and spends the better part of it fixing his deck while the others went through their daily routine. Ghost Bear is cleaning his guns and even asks if theres a place to shoot.
In the basement, Benzine?” CB asked.
“No.” Benzine replied, with finality and a blank stare.
And that settled that.
“She’s back!” Whooped CB as his deck came back to life, giving him back all his precious data. Fortunately for the team, before the drek hit the fan, CB was able to dump everything he could from his marks comm. The paydata?
Danny Boyle: A grad student at the University of Washington. Two weeks ago he was hired by the startup Exogen22 as an intern. There are various e-mails, but the most useful is from Janice, an HR rep with the lab:
Hi Danny! Great to be having you come aboard, and I can’t wait to get started. I’m eager to hear your thoughts on improving our reverse telomerase partitioning scheme, but i’m sure there are a ton of other areas we could use your help with. Dr. Wentz speaks very highly of you and we expect great things.
When you get here on Monday (8am, SHARP) just park in the main lot. Your SIN should get you through the security checkpoint and in the main door. New hire registration is on the third floor, go up there and ask for Janice. She’ll get you entered in the system and show you around. I’m pretty busy so I may not be there to receive you but I will definitely try.
You should expect to get a new comm, and Janice will help you transfer your SIN to it. MCT has standard issue links they want us to use. They’ve got more compute power and tougher firewalls. You’re gonna need it to run these simulations… she’ll also be taking a few advanced biometrics and upgrading your SIN with them. I’m assuming you don’t already have an fMRI fingerprint in yours. If you do, great, but we will have to confirm and update it anyway. Once you got that, you should be cleared for Outer Ring.
Inside Outer Ring, KEEP YOUR SIN ON AT ALL TIMES, no running silent. Failure to broadcast your SIN will get you a visit from a dullard with an assault rifle. They are total drekheads, and will not hesitate to run your prints if they deem it necessary. I get the feeling these guys are bored out of their skulls with nothing to kill around here.
Anyhoo, for the first few days you should be able to get your work done from Outer Ring. That’ll give them time to do the background checks they need to do before we get you into Inner Ring; off the simulations and into the lab!
She mentions lab techs must always be running their SIN in the outer ring. She mentions a Dr. Wentz, the professor that referred the young man to the Oxford based company, and a Dr. Claudia Salhab, his boss in the company. The most important piece of information, however, is you need an fMRI brain scan to act as a fingerprint for entry into the inner ring. In addition, they gain some info on Dr. Salhab, namely her comm information and the address for the Exogen22 building on the University of Washington campus.
Not wasting time, Benzine wants to take a ride over to check it out, but needs a ride.
“I’ll drive you over on your bike.”
“No you wont. I just got that thing. Besides, think you’ll even fit?” Benzine was referring to the troll sized mods made to the Scorpion.
Sully eyed it up and down. “No.”
“Hey Alganon, think you can give us a ride?”
And as usual, the affable troll agreed. Benzine called Ember, who barked at the Van as usual before getting in and the team retraced their steps back to the Sigma Tau frat house, past the coffee shop, and see the nondescript concrete block of a building. They pull down a side street going into the heart of the campus before parking.
“I’ll be back in a bit,” Benzine said and whistled for Ember. The pair stroll onto the campus, Benzine wearing his ratty white t-shirt, worn with holes from his dermal deposits and turning a dingy shade of sepia and brown from overwearing and soykaf stains, very reminiscent of early 90’s Seattle.
Benzine finds a park bench near the building, and Ember sits dutifully by his side as he watches the people flow past, getting a feel for the place before astrally perceiving the area. A sense of the mana flowing from the bay, sweeping through the trees lining the road, the faint colors of their auras swirling yellow and orange, the hues from the grass dripping upwards to the open sky, drab gray swathes cut through it where man-made paths were laid. The auras of metas flitted through that of the grass, their energies bleeding together before gently separating, while others strolled this way and that on the constructs, their auras always distinct, never connecting. The awakened were always easy to spot, like a candle in the darkness burning bright before disappearing from view. Alganonl this was set against the open sky, with huge blocks cut out of it where the campus buildings were.
Looking at the perfect, grayish-black square of the Exogen22 building he saw little except a watcher spirit that would come into view once in a while before disappearing again. He waited a while yet, soaking in the astral and watching, until the watcher spirit came back again.
Satisfied, he returned to the Van, and they made their way back.
Not staying idle. Sully did some research into fMRI scans. While the brainwaves will fluctuate day to day, that doesn’t change who the person is fundamentally. Collectively, they decide to test the waters of tampering with SINs.
AL calls Cool Dennis and asks if it’s possible for fMRI fingerprints to be replaced.
“Hoo-wee. That’s tough. I mean, I got a guy, he might be able to answer. I got another guy, ain’t my regular, but he’d be cheaper. What’s that? The regular you say? Well, well, well, Alganon buddy, I’ll get you Eddie Pill’s info soon’s we’re done here.”
Alganonganon hands the info off to Ghost Bear who reaches out over video. An older black man answers, glasses shining in the reflection from an out of frame light source. “Cool Dennis said you’d be calling. What can I do for you? You need a SIN strengthened? Weakened? An fMRI scan replaced? That’s not easy. It’ll run you 600 per SIN, and you’ll need to provide the information.”
Nonplused, Sully buys a persona fix chip manufacturer for his lab to gather the data while CB digs through the e-mails for the names of 2 other interns. The first, Sara Legend, a sporty troll who is very much into basketball and a member of Delta Fi and finished her undergrad 2 years ago. The other was Joy Reuters who finished 4 years ago, but is more of a homebody. Unlisted, the only information CB found was a knitting forum talking about yarn from a semi-local farm. A picture of her shows her as a happy, human, Indian girl.
First, they go to U of W where Legend has practice. Benzine disguises Ghostbear as a lithe, curvy elf in spandex with an overbite and impressive BO.
A coach stops Ghost bear on the way in though. “What are you doing?”
“I’m just here to see my girlfriend, I don’t know why you’re hassling me.” He says, trying to get huffy. The coach stopped listening though, and chased after someone else.
Ghost Bear makes it to the locker room uneventfully, jimmies Sara Legend’s open easily enough, and finds the comm. Hurrying back to the car, CB is able to DNI it, copy the files, and walks it back with no other interruptions.
CB is able to pull a 3rd intern from hers since she failed to keep her NDA, an elf named Kevin Dyers.
Next they go to Joy’s. Benzine disguises Ghost Bear in the same way, except this time given his alter ego khaki’s and a polo shirt. Then he makes CB a burly, bearded, and pimply man, and Sully a total beefcake. She doesn’t understand what they’re looking for, since there’s no equipment inside her apartment.
“I don’t know, miss, I’m just following orders,” Ghost bear says.
Together, the three of them walk up to her apartment and come up with a story about a disturbance in the matrix, with her apartment as the source. The three go in, with Ghost Bear and Sully distracting her, CB forwarding some white noise like a geiger counter to Ghost Bear to help. CB hacks her comm as they’re out of the room, and they slip from the room.
3 down, 1 to go, they’re able to track Kevin Dyer easily enough. He has a very public, very unsecured 5th edition Age of Sigmar podcast, and in two hours they’re walking into Sully’s lab to get copies of their brain waves. The plan is Benzine is going to disguise himself as a corpse and watch from Astral while the others use the copies of the intern’s SINs. Eddie says it will cost 2,400 initially, but Ghost Bear is able to negotiate down to 1800. Alganonl in all, it’s shaping up to be one of Team Quattro’s better, more quiet plans.
September 1st, 2075. Sunday.
Labor Day in the future is kind of an empty, joke of a holiday given the state of the average corporate drone. Still, taking advantage of the long holiday weekend, they’re banking on the campus facility being empty. They pull up again, with Benzine eating his pride and summoning a spirit to go check out the area. The first is a bug eyes fish that “swims” up to Benzine to first confirm that the watcher spirit is still present.
The 2nd, stronger spirit is a disembodied eyeball, optic nerve trailing behind it. The tendrils flicking and pulsing as it moves. It watches, and gets a sense of the spirits movements. With the astral recon well underway, CB starts in on the matrix. Gojira is going to help, and sends his moth friend to come help, boosting the recently fried deck to running better than it was before sparks were flying from it.
Sully has bodybags and a stretcher ready to go, the chameleon coat and the Van shifting to look more like an ambulance. They’re able to break in easily, and CB hacks into the system through AR. He finds a map, and information that states that the strains are fairly along, and moving onto the next phase. Specifically CFD cure 832 has sims ongoing. The team makes their way further into the facility, heading up onto the floors above. CB stays jacked into the 2nd floor terminal, while the others move to the next level.
On the 3rd floor, they find a large booth in the middle of the room. Through a glass window, they see a man sized drone with a cable running into the ceiling. In separate cages, there are 3 primates. A baboon, an orangutan, and a chimp. In two others, there are two meta corpses. Besides not being human, and having minor cyber, they’re non descript.
Benzine materializes and offers to break the primates out, saying they have a contact that might be interested, but Sully turns it down. That’d be too obvious he says, but Benzine leaves it on the table in case he changes his mind.
For now though, Sully focuses on the problem at hand…