Hedion 05

Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-01-24 23:00:32
Hugh and his group meet Luis returning from a likewise successful meeting with the Quoronas to find Buck McLean, Maq's son, waiting in the Kesh foyer.

"We gotta talk," he says when you all enter. "Throne agents nabbed Davis and they're bringin' in a Truthseeker for him."



Haralin Arakuna walks smoothly through the concourse circling an upscale artisan's market, enjoying his new personal vox markers Gorlan's people whipped up for him. Vice-Consul of Production Schedules blah blah blah it read, with the little Faxom-Io sigil in the corner obfuscating a large part of the otherwise thin, nearly-transparent film. Mr. Zakest was hopefully making progress with the Quoronas, and Samal Swao should be in a similar situation with Segal Iyuzo by now.

If Davis was right about his suspicions regarding Throne agents... yes! Hugh had described Perus to Davis before, and he spots the agent, sporting a subdued civilian tunic, making a beeline for him through the sparse window shoppers. Perus looks like he's had a long day.

"Evening, chief," he greets Davis. Perus motions behind him to where a roomy cheapo civvie skimmer idles. Two other presumed agents in similar garb lean on the vehicle. One snacks on a packet of finfries. "We appreciate the mental gymnastics you sent us, and we'd like to ask you some questions. Come with me, please?"

Haralin gives Perus a smile. "Of course. Anything for our Emperor's government." He follows Perus and gets into the skimmer.

An adolescent girl watches the skimmer's rear viewports blank out as the vehicle lifts into traffic. She disappears over a nearby walkway divider with practiced ease as Perus' skimmer disappears just as smoothly into a transit tunnel.



And that's when I tried to find you people," Buck explains. "Dad sent everyone out to try to find where they've got him and that's when we learned about this flash Cyllan 'specialist' they're bringing in."

Truthseekers. It scares Zaef a little bit just thinking about them. Cyllans communicated through sensing electrical impulses rather than sound. Properly trained Cyllans could pick up human thoughts directly from their brain activity, and the best could do it without making physical contact. They were perfect translators and deception held no power over them; they would pull the truth out from any lie, and there was no way Davis could hold up under continued interrogation.

It took a special kind of personality to do the work, however, and Truthseekers were generally not looked upon fondly by their human masters. Perus and his Throne agents would have had to request one, which meant it wasn't too late for Davis yet.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-01-24 23:02:26

The building interior looks run-down, but it was once affluent enough to boast its own interior hangar. The shoestring budget decor is betrayed here and there with state-of-the-art microsurveillance a generation past the silly Kansat things Davis was picking out of the Quis' hab. If there's one central theme to Davis' current situation, covert comes to mind. However many agents are in play (and it doesn't seem like many), they must be interested in keeping their Kansat covers intact.

Perus leads Davis to an obvious interrogation room - what surprises Davis is that it's far closer to what he's used to than any sort of high-tech torture chamber. A simple table, a handful of chairs, and some takeout platters are the room's highlights.

"Homey," Haralin says, and takes the seat he's expected to on the opposite side of the table. "So, what can I do for you, agent..."

"...Perus," he finishes Davis' question as he sits down and helps himself to some kind of stringy food Davis doesn't recognize. "Before we officially begin, is there anything you'd like me to know?" He motions at the takeout, offering it to Davis. Paranoia flashes for a moment as Davis remembers dinner with Reno.

"I think the question is, what can I do for you?" Haralin asks. "If I knew that the Emperor had dispatched Throne agents, my efforts might not have needed to be so complex. So, what do you want to know?" He stabs a pan-fried meat chunk and wraps some of the noodles up with it, then pops it in his mouth. Strangely, it tastes almost exactly like the Chinese stir-fry he expects.

The agent considers going into "official" mode - he'll have to sooner or later - but first he stops chewing long enough to ask, "What efforts are you referring to?"

"Well, you've already seen part of it, the message that I sent out." Haralin rolls up another bit of meat. "Akis is rotten with corruption and those who would exploit and even kill their fellow citizens for petty personal gain."

"What are you doing about that?" is the pointed reply.

"They're all very careful with how they go about their...misdeeds," Haralin says, and pops the roll into his mouth. "That's how they avoid the attention of the authorities. I'm simply tricking them into committing their crimes in broad daylight, or otherwise getting themselves caught with their pants down, and allowing the proper authorities to take them out of the picture, or just let the consequences of their actions finally catch up with them."

Perus nods, allowing Davis to finish, then does... something with his facial expression. Davis has seen Luis do much the same since he got his implants, except Stanhill is more exaggerated with the somatics.

"I'm sure you could figure this out for yourself, but I am to inform you that this conversation is being recorded," Perus says apologetically but officially. "We'll start with the basics."

What follows next is a mind-numbing pressure test of Davis' cover identity. Perus taps notes periodically onto a handheld as he goes through the motions. Sometimes a wry smile cracks the Throne agent's lips as Davis rattles off another faked portion of a non-existent childhood. Haralin Arakuna is a solid cover with enough Cortex tomfoolery behind it to stave off all but the most determined bloodhounds, but at the end of the day Arakuna doesn't exist.

Perus also can't exactly prove he doesn't exist, either. He taps out some final notes and settles out of his "gather a baseline" mode. "Did you disseminate this message to personnel stationed on Array 11?" Perus asks, and plays back the communique Davis and Luis fashioned for the mesa Kansat.

"Certainly sounds like something that the men and women ordered to execute an entire village would want to think about before carrying out their orders," Haralin says. "I'm certainly glad someone did. Maybe they'll think twice before 'pacifying' a population."

Perus' eyes narrow as he gets his first real resistance of the evening. The banal formality of the interrogation has dragged on, and although Davis doesn't have a clock at hand he'd estimate it's right on the terminator between "very late" and "very early".

"It's difficult to ascertain if such a message would do more good than ill without knowing the motives and identity of the sender," Perus responds. "It was a subtle working, both in its appearance on the Cortex as well as its psychological makeup. There aren't that many people with a vested interest in that mesa. If not you, then perhaps a member or members of your... excuse me, Dropchief Nasa's retinue?"

"Why do you have to have a vested interest in Array 11 to be opposed to the slaughter of innocents? The people on that mesa were put under threat by our attempts to smoke out the corrupt in Akis. Anyone opposed to their deaths for simply being in the way could have posed that message." Haralin leans back and chews on another hunk of meat. "We're simply...concerned citizens, Agent Perus, individuals with the skillsets to solve problems that the Kansatai and the Throne can't."

Tap-tap-tap. Perus makes a note. "You make a good point, Mr. Arakuna. Sometimes protecting the innocent is seen as fomenting rebellion, and it is sometimes difficult to tell who is willing to take that step. But it is sometimes our job - he indicates himself and the Throne agents - to determine if the former is worth the latter. As you say, many people could have posted the message. Perhaps I will have a talk with Ody and Arlana Quis about it," Perus muses.

"If they live in Array 11, you might have a hard time of it for the next week or so," Haralin says. "The relocation to temporary housing starts first thing tomorrow morning, and they will be under constant watch until the new array is brought back online. As the message shows, Saloma is already paranoid of any potential Throne agents, and poking around about the Array will almost certainly provoke a hasty, drug-fueled response. If I were you, I wouldn't want to find out what Saloma's likely to do if he suspects any Imperial authorities on the mesa are Throne agents. Probably shoot the whole lot. Why don't you let me know what you need to know about whatever the motives of the people behind the message are, and I'll ask around. My men and I are already in place."

"Yes," Perus agrees. "Quite the mastermind. I mean, the array construction isn't hardly started yet and already the Steward of a major arcology is a raving paranoid. There's buildings being demolished in full-on firefights. Scions of major noble houses are dead or missing. The current situation is that of a destabilized region rather than a framework for bringing corruption to light. And here you are, riding the coattails of a sudden heir to the Kesh family... everything. You claim you're seeking out corruption, but so far it looks like you're removing competition."

"Sometimes things don't go as...smoothly as one would like," Haralin says with a frown. This face isn't particularly hard to fake. "We do what we can, but sometimes events happen that are out of our control. If the Iyuzo are so insane and unstable as to send their private armies after other leaders, there's only so much we can do to hold them back. Trust me, this kind of chaos and destruction is not our goal."

Perus spreads his arms wide. "Yet here we are." He leans forward again, and his tired, red eyes stand out against his brown flesh darkened by constant exposure during his Kansat patrols on the mesa.

"And yet I am still here." Haralin's words indicate his presence on-world. "You didn't bring me here just to accuse me of these things. What do you want, Agent Perus?"

"No, I didn't," Perus answers. "You can deny sending that message, that's fine, and you can deny this as well, but it's clear you're the center of a fairly chaotic web right now, and if every player in that web was gone today, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it," he says with a smirk at his own pre-dawn state. "I want you to tell me about this rectenna fiasco. Your retinue, the Iyuzo, the Keshes, living and dead, Saloma, the dropteams on that mesa, everything."

"And then...what?" Haralin asks. "We're saving lives, Agent Perus."

"And then, if what you tell me proves to be good intel, my team can put a stop to the corruption here that you seem so desperately crusading against. It's better all around if the Imperium cleans its own house here rather than a concerned citizen."

Haralin nods. "Sounds good to me." He thoughtfully chews another bit of meat and noodles. "The Iyuzo's internal battle over family supremacy is coming off the rails and is beginning to hurt others. Keji is colluding with the rectenna project and waiting for a shot at his brothers, Kohan is simply taking shots at anyone even closely related to his brothers, and Segal is squeezing the Kesh clan for support through Reno's smuggling of illegal pharma, he refused to knuckle under and Segal had him killed. My partnership with Gorlan is partly to stay close enough to him to protect him, he was unaware of what was going on. Reno was also complicit in the plot to kill the Array 11 inhabitants, Tora Kesh found out what Reno was doing, and he killed her because of it, but thanks to the Iyuzo, the Kesh clan is clean."

Haralin takes a drink of a fizzy brown fruit beverage. "The Quorona and Keji Iyuzo are colluding to interfere with Imperial resources as they take control of the rectenna project, how, I don't know, but they have some kind of plan in motion. As for Saloma, well, you know the gist of it. His addiction is becoming overpowering, and it's just a matter of time before he orders a massacre because the pink spinks dancing through his office tell him to."

Perus taps out notes as Davis talks but otherwise listens intently. Davis watches the agent during the performance, but Perus is a hard man to read. He appears to have successfully compartmentalized Davis' various appeals to the protection of innocents and saving lives versus the answers he gave to Perus' questions. Davis figures the man thinks that he's still lying about something, but instead of pushing, Perus is just tapping out notes and letting it go - or so it would seem.

The Throne agent replaces his handheld back in its little shell and gathers up the detritus scattered on the table. "That's all the questions I have for now, Mr. Arakuna," Perus says. "I do appreciate your cooperation and I assure you we are working towards the same ends. We have one more agent who should be arriving in the morning to confirm some of your information and follow up on what you've told me. After that, you'll be free to leave."

"If you're going to be holding me here overnight, then some sort of word must be sent out to my team," Haralin says. "We're playing a key role in keeping the peace at Array 11, and with the relocation scheduled for tomorrow morning, things will be on edge. If I won't be there in time to assist, my people need to know."

"That's being handled," Perus replies. "There's a room made up for you if you'd like to get some rest."

"Thanks, but I'm fine for right now," Haralin says, holding up the plastic container of beverage. It feels like it's got a stimulant kick of some variety to him. "Just let me know when your other man comes in. I'll be glad to answer any follow-up questions."

Perus gets up and nods. "Suit yourself." He yawns, something he's been trying to hold back for a while now. The interrogation room door clicks closed with a solidity when he leaves.
CrazyIvan 2011-01-25 00:12:25
Angel has been quiet of late, ever since the funeral. Like Gorlan, he's doing his level best to avoid the idea that he's responsible for Tora's death. Not because he doesn't believe its true - or even that he wants to avoid asking the questions that stem from it - but because there will be plenty of time for that later, and for the moment there's still civilians to get out, and Davis's too-elaborate-for-his-own-good plan to look to.

Tora's ring, at least until he can figure out how not to kill himself with it, rests in a safe place.

He frowns when he hears the news, though he was frowning beforehand. Davis you fucking idiot.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-01-27 19:44:59
Maq's homicidal kindergarten is as good as they say they are, and just before dawn's light sears the spires of Akis, Buck hand-delivers intel on the falsely-"condemned" luxury hab where the Throne agents have Davis as well as the Truthseeker's location.

"Mira says the Cyllan's runnin' with two minders and two drones," Buck explains. "They're takin' the tubeways." The metro/subway-style public transporation is a mixed blessing. You know their route but there is a good chance of civilians getting in the way. On the other hand, it's likely that the presence of armed Imperial authority would serve to create a large personal space around the entourage. They may even have a tubeway car to themselves.

"And their destination?" asks Vortala, floating behind the team in his ubiquitous encounter suit. "How long do we have to intercept the Truthseeker?"

"The agents' cave is off aorta 3, on the upper stacks," Buck replies. "Your guy's comin' down from the ports, so... thirty, forty minutes before the agents start to wonder is my guess."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-02-01 04:30:00
The Truthseeker Kos regarded the dull flickering of his minders’ brainwaves as the tubetrain accelerated smoothly out of the fourth stop thus far. Minor currents of fear, revulsion, and constant reminders that Kos was seeing it happen played across the minders’ thoughts like static. It was nothing new - Kos was used to the airsuckers’ hate. It made his job enjoyable. The cars in front and behind the shaded private car were alight with passengers, and provided an ample test for Kos’ skills at brainsign. He passed the time picking out matching laviscious thoughts between members of disparate breeding pairs while his minders stood watch and the drones watched over all. They were tireless and far more reliable than his human escort.

Kos was about to ask one of the minders if they had ever attempted to put what that man one car over was thinking about in the woman’s secondary orifice when someone triggered the private car’s doors. It appeared to be an authorized code, but they were nowhere near their destination in the Stacks yet. Who could possibly-


Nearly four seconds and one hundred rounds later, the private car’s doors shut again and the train moves on from the almost-empty stop. Few Imperial citizens look at Turai anything but askance, and when nearly half a Quad approach a tubeway car, it’s best to be somewhere else.

Angel, Luis, and Hugh reload while they survey their team’s crimson handiwork. There is blood everywhere. The Cyllan’s milky lifeblood pools into swirling pink where it mixes with the two minders’ gore. Smoke from the rifles and the wrecked drones billows out the opposite doorways when Arketta jams them open and starts shoveling brass out. The corpses are next, after Vortala gets what he needs to pass himself off as a Truthseeker. Luis wires the doors shut, darkens the car to full opacity, and they get off in Akis’ upper stacks.
punkey 2011-02-01 07:47:42
Davis has his feet up on the table in front of him, doing his best to kill time until he's either rescued or tortured and killed by driving his captors slowly insane. Travelling military cargo class from Diego Garcia gives one a lot of time to pick up things from your fellow passengers, and between their several flights to and from the island base, he's learned just about every dirty poem, chant, song and cheer Ngawai, Arketta and Zaef know, a wealth of knowledge that is now being put to good use.

"Tanest once fancied Hona / So he followed to her hab / Sneaking around the backside, he heard Hona scream / Tanest rushed in to save her / And caught her being rutted by a big hairy Wherren," Davis shouts. * He smiles and thinks of a good follow-up.

* As Davis is speaking in Imperial, and this account is written in English, some allowances must be made for meter and rhyme.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-02-01 18:13:04
Davis hears the boots approaching his door before the hatch cycles. Perus enters the room along with another field agent that Davis recognizes from the skimmer that picked him up last night, but there's something else, a low hum emanating from the hallway beyond. Perus takes his usual seat while the second agent stays near the door on Davis' periphery.

"The Truthseeker is here to confirm your account," Perus informs Davis. "I trust you will give us the same cooperation you've shown thus far?"

The bottom drops out of Davis' stomach. Come on guys, hurry up... He counters his panic with a friendly smile. "Of course, nothing less," Haralin says.

Perus nods. "Have a seat, face me. Place your hands on the table and relax. Have you communicated with a Cyllan before?"

Haralin complies with Perus' instructions. "Once or twice, I know the drill."

"Very well." He indicates the other agent. "Bring in the-"

"I know when I am needed, agent," the Cyllan vocalizes as it floats through the doorway. Its... tapestries? Robes? ... either way, its clothes are a little dingier than Davis expects, but the gleaming encounter suit and myriad tentacles hanging down below the alien's bulk are familiar enough to him.

Haralin smirks at the Cyllan's remark. "Ready when you are, Truthseeker."

The alien settles its spaghetti yamaka over Davis' head, but instead of the sting of a psychopathic torturer playing with a victim, Davis hears reassuring words.

"It is I, Vortala. Do not be alarmed. Do not- do not react. Just answer everything exactly as you would have them believe and we will walk out of here."

Haralin grimaces slightly as the Cyllan makes contact for the show. "I owe you something expensive when we get out of here, Vortala. We can't just give it away, they won't believe it if I never get caught in a lie. Just follow my lead, and when you have to zap me...try not to fry anything important."

Vortala responds to Perus as Davis thinks to him. "You may begin, agent. Ask your questions and I will discern the truth."

Davis and Vortala play it up for Perus as he retreads his questions from the previous night. Vortala adjusts his zaps after Davis bangs his head on the back of his chair the first time, and after several grueling hours of answering the same crap different ways, Perus finally comes around and dismisses Vortala. After all, how can one argue the truth with a trained Cyllan?

"I think we're done here, Arakuna," Perus tells Davis. "You're free to leave, but please, let me and my team handle it from here." Perus stops himself and raises a finger. "Eh, what's the use of trying to convince you to let the professionals handle it? Just don't get in our way. You have a good day now, Arakuna. Get out."

Haralin nods. "Same to you, Agent Perus. Good day." Once outside, he makes his way to the nearest drone taxi platform and flags down transport. Now reasonably sure he's at least away from the prying eyes of the Throne agents, he sets the taxi to take him back to Array 11. There's a going to be a riot to calm down, and only the Quises have a fireplace big enough to burn all of his clothes.

From their vantage point, the team spots Davis leaving the Throne agents' safehouse none the worse for wear. They too disappear along with the spook and head back to the mesa.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-02-03 03:14:31
You return to the mesa just as the morning sun rises to see the solar farm in complete disarray. From your aerial view, you can see that the bulk of the mesa's residents are clustering around the hastily-constructed shanty-habs intended for them. The people who gave into their fate early on help the holdouts move into their new abodes. Every Kansat skimmer is in the air, doing their part to ensure nothing untoward happens in the shanties. Abe's dropteams, however, are preoccupied with dealing with the handful of techs who absolutely refuse to leave, even as nearly half the old habs are in the process of being flattened and recycled by the array construction team's monolithic monotasks.

As Luis takes the vehicle lower, you watch one stubborn newly-evicted woman escalate to violence. She gets one dropteam officer with a vicious kick to the junk but after that it's all her husband can do to watch in horror as the dropteam lights the woman up with their lancers.

It makes you feel a little sick, maybe, thinking about how this woman's death is going to only help your mission.


Luis lands the skimmer in the shanties where you set up your new camp after the previous morning's shenanigans. There's unmistakable tension, but nobody's about to start a riot, not with Kansatai skimmers in the air and a trigger-happy Rav-Kansat in charge. The few officers on the ground give you different looks this time, however. You're not the meddling troublemakers anymore. This time, thanks to Davis' subtle message, you just might be the people, self-serving or not, looking out for their asses when an insane Steward has his hand on the button. They don't watch you with the same scrutiny as before. Most importantly, they appear to be trying to keep the peace rather than enforce Imperial authority. After all, they have a vested interest in making sure Abe Saloma doesn't get a reason to irradiate the mesa.


Luis has a surprise waiting for him when he trudges into their temporary housing. There's a clean vox, like a burner cellphone, sitting on his bunk. The startup routine is a fairly easy decrypt job for someone of Luis' skill - it's from Tealni Quorona (although it never explicitly says that), and it's their presumed mariposa hack they promised to get him a look at. It's... workable. It's a bloated long-way-round inelegant way of handling the problem, but in a way its inelegance works for it. Its' bloated complexity might hide its true purpose until it was too late - and Luis could use the same complexity to sneak in the hacks he needs to add to ensure that the mariposas' backup rectennas are all rerouted to Array 11.

The only nagging doubt Luis has is when exactly did Tealni have the time to code this overblown leviathan of a program? He expected something small, maybe even incomplete in some areas. If he had to guess, he'd say Tealni got someone's help on the hack.
punkey 2011-02-03 04:45:57
Davis' drone taxi drops him on the platform, right in the middle of the Array 11 village. As soon as the doors cycle open, he's running full-tilt across the mesa towards the increasingly-combative last group of holdouts. "Hold your fire!" he shouts. "Hold your fire, lower your weapons!" Maybe the dropteams will listen to him, maybe it will sow enough confusion that Davis can intercede in the ongoing disaster.

As the poor woman's husband looks up from his knees with anger and pain in his eyes, Davis puts himself directly in between the two groups. "Kansat officers, stand down," he says, hands extended at both sides. "Give me a chance to talk them down."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-02-03 18:39:54
One of the dropteam Kansatai swivels his visor to his four comrades. "These are the guys," he informs his team, indicating Davis (and whoever deigned to follow him over) with a brief hand motion. "This is Three, requesting cover for a possible disruption of Imperial authority at grid 12."

The next one is truly an impressive species of thug, and he steps forward to address you. "Go ahead. Make 'em stand down or we stand you all down."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-02-03 19:09:14
Davis nods and turns back to the grieving man and his 8 compatriots. "Come on, stand up," he whispers to the man. "If they see you suffer, it just makes them bolder." As the man works up the ability to stand again, he looks to the others. "This is not the way to do this," Davis says, his voice low. "Throwing yourself into their beamer fire only creates more martyrs. Your friends and the others on this mesa don't need martyrs."

He slides one of the vox strips that the villagers had been handed out of his sleeve and flashes it to them. "I asked for time before. Can you give it to me?"

Davis gets a host of frustrated static and other less friendly answers from the holdouts, but the corpse's husband stands and nods. Meanwhile, four more dropteam officers arrive in the general vicinity and spread out in case things go south. One of the skimmers changes position as well, taking up overwatch over the incident.

"I've lost my home and my wife," the tech says. "All I have is time now." He picks up the remains and starts walking slowly towards the shanty-habs, completely oblivious to any future proceedings. It kind of puts a damper on the holdouts - after all, they don't have anything to compare to what just happened yet. The frustration changes over to a little guilt maybe, a little despair, some quiet resolve.

"Smart move," one of the dropteam catcalls. "Thanks, chief," he says brightly to Davis.

Davis turns back towards the camp, following the last holdouts. "Next time, you might get more cooperation if you try words before beamers," he says as he stomps past. So fucking tired, he thinks. His vox interface comes out. Array 11 village is clear. Get survivors situated, lines of communication organized and let Arlana and Ody know we need to meet. The message is sent to all the team members via their heavy encryption.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-02-03 19:15:21
Davis may be tired, but there's no rest for the weary. Part of the deluge of typical vox traffic that's streaming into his handheld after its stay behind Throne agent privacy screens is a bevy of disturbing updates.

Apparently, Gorlan Kesh is no longer taking an active role in Faxom-Io's subindustrium administration. The Cortex feed makes it sound like it's voluntary, a decision to retire to tend to his family's holdings in the wake of the recent tragedies. It all sounds very reasonable except for the part where Davis knows it's some sort of hatchet job, and the axe-wielder smells an awful lot like Quon Quorona. Of course, if Gorlan is unemployed, he doesn't enjoy the meager protection from being counted as an expensive industrium asset anymore, not it matters with the amount of gunfire that's surrounded the Kesh family as of late.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-02-04 18:07:36
Davis gets his much-needed sleep after the team meets with the Quises. Ody and Arlana set about quietly organizing places for the solar farmers to stay in the arcology. When the power goes out, or if Saloma goes berserk, the people need a way to evacuate quickly.

The more immediate matter of course, and one that the team has been sowing with Segal and Gorlan and Quon Quorona, is the fake "hit" on Davis and Gorlan. Davis assures the team that nothing as drastic as his beamer demonstration on Whiirr will be needed, and with the mesa in Ody and Arlana's good hands, you load into the skimmer once more to fly back into Akis. Luis drops Davis off at the Kesh estate and he takes the rest of the team into the Lower Stacks to set up an "ambush" somewhere the surveillance is knocked out. Davis and Gorlan take a drone skimmer, a skimmer that is "hijacked" by Luis and directed "against Davis' will" to the ambush location.


The alley is broken up with the usual dingy refuse drones and containers. Multi-tiered walkways loom abandoned and forgotten like spiderwebs. The crisscrossing of shadows plays havoc with the scene's details. The few Imperial sensors are long-since vandalized into submission. Shouting from an open hab doorway down the narrow, cramped street punctuates the darkness.

You think about witty shit to say as you wait for Davis and Gorlan's "hijacked" skimmer. It finally appears out of a rolling cloud of industrium exhaust, wobbling a little as it sets down in position.

(OOC: All yours, guys.)
punkey 2011-02-04 22:32:39
Haralin stumbles out of the skimmer, beam rifle in hand. "Where in the Seven Hells are we?"

"Exactly where you're supposed to be!" Zakest calls from behind cover, then takes a shot at Haralin.

The beam melts a hole through the skimmer's viewscreen in between Haralin and Gorlan, and they both take cover behind the metal rear section of the skimmer. "Zakest! After all I've done for you, after all the training and support, this is how you repay me?" Haralin pops back over the top and fires a few beamer shots, scattering flash-melted bits of foamcrete across the alley.

"You after all your abuse? I was assigned to you for 'training in what it means to be Expansion' and you've treated me like dirt, stolen every idea I've had as your own. Well, guess what, Chief? I learned on my own, and that means I don't need you any more," Zakest calls back, and adds a few shots for good measure.

"Hey, dropchief!" Swao calls out from his hiding space, sinking a beamer bolt into the skimmer. "Guess who's friends with me now!"

Tanakta rises just slightly, enough to put a few rounds in dramatic, not really close enough to kill Davis locations. "Pay's better..."

One of Tanakta's bullets strikes the skimmer's power supply, erupting a shower of sparks between Haralin and Gorlan. "Tanakta! How could you!" He stands up and screams, firing off five random shots over the heads of the ambush team.

Angel does his best to look upset, torn and conscience-ridden. "Everything has an end."

"Stop talking and get me out of here!!!" Gorlan wails over the whip-cracks and muffled impacts.

"I'll kill you all, you motherless whetu!" Haralin shouts. "You haven't seen the last of Haralin Arakuna!"

"Oh yeah?" Zakest yells, "Try it from the other side!" He and the others open up on the skimmer.

The six conspiritors open up on the skimmer in the same way a sledgehammer opens a dripping faucet. Whatever warcries or clever lines they may have had are completely drowned in the fusilade of beamer bolts and bullets. The skimmer, predictably enough, lights up after a few seconds of taking the barrage on the chin.

"Run!" Haralin shouts at Gorlan and shoves him away from the overheating skimmer. The two men scatter and run in opposite directions down the street, as the fire and heat finally breach the skimmer's reserve power cell. The container rips open in a thirty-foot tall fireball, rocking nearby structures. It's only when the fireball rises off the street that the gunfire dies down.

"Time to go!" Swao shouts, stowing his own beam rifle. They'll scatter for now, meet up later - and spread the word that Dropchief Arakuna and Gorlan Kesh are no longer a problem for anyone.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-02-06 07:12:48
Gorlan Kesh hoped he wasn’t making a mistake. He’s still shaking from the mock ambush even though was all staged. He considers briefly what he would’ve done had the ambush been real, paid for by Segal Iyuzo for example. He wonders these things as he clambers through a drainpipe into Akis’ underhive, and determines - as he exits the pipe wearing clothing both fashionable and ruined - that what is done is done, and he will have to trust that these strange people will still need him after their elaborate schemes play out.

“Going somewhere, crust?” asks Mira, Maq’s surrogate daughter and one of the oldest runners. She’s backed up not by the usual assortment of couriers but by half a dozen underhive mercs. They’ve done VIP details before, evident by the speed which they array themselves around Gorlan. “Come on, let’s disappear you,” she adds before leading the group into the shadows.


Kohan Iyuzo was certain he made a mistake. He was certain he overestimated his chances of personally delivering a genteel assassination. And if he was currently being subjected to mental torment at the whims of Segal, well, he certainly underestimated just how byzantine his brother was prepared to make his petty vengeance.

What thoughts Kohan can scrape together vanish with the cell doorway’s gentle cycling. A visored, armored figure enters the room.

Maybe this one will ask questions, Kohan thinks. It’d be a welcome change.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-02-07 17:53:41
Davis just stands there, staring at Kohan as one of his guards drags in a familiar interrogation tool to the spy: a high-powered work light. The guard taps the touch control, instantly flooding Kohan's half of the room with intense white light. After almost a day in total darkness, Kohan has to look away from the light, crawling back a few feet in a futile attempt to escape it.

"Do you know where you are?" Davis asks, but not in his voice. Luis had hacked together a quick voice changer for his helm. It isn't going to pass a voiceprint ID, but combined with the already metallic edge the Turai armor's speakers gave to anything one said, it's able to make a pretty damn good imitation of Agent Perus' voice.

"Hed... Hedion," Kohan starts. He holds out his hand to block the light but the reflected illumination is still enough to keep him disoriented while his eyes adjust.

Davis laughs. "If only you were that lucky. You're on the Ethics Gradient, Mr. Iyuzo."

Kohan doesn't react right away. He lets his eyes adjust to the new conditions and lowers his hand enough to see that... yep, no use bothering with trying to see anyone's face yet. They're all just visors reflecting his own dark, scarred face.

"So you... you did intend me to overhear that?" Kohan replies. He's gotten a little more composed from the initial entrance treatment.

"It usually lets our guests know what to expect, how to behave," Davis says. "So, I think we should get started. You know who we are, you know what we are willing to do if you don't answer our questions. Who were you trying to kill?"

"Right," Kohan says like he still feels protected. "I got nothin' to hide. I was aiming for Gorlan Kesh. Why do you care? You actually with Kesh?"

Davis nods and pretends to think for a second, and then his stinger comes out of its holster. He slaps Kohan with the flat of the gun, and adds a few boots to the gut when he hits the ground. "There were several very important people to the Imperium at that meeting, and you tell me that you were aiming for an industrium manager and pharma manufacturer? You were caught in the middle of putting the lives of people far more important than that in jeopardy, people far more important than you and whatever petty protection you think your...status gives you." Davis spits the last part out at Kohan, literally.

Kohan smiles through the beating. "Buncha crusty dukes and fuck-all what just wanted to make sure Reno Kesh was in the ground. But Gorlan... I shoot Gorlan, Segal takes the blame, maybe even gets gunned down right there. He's responsible for an entire noble house gone. Whether he lives or not, no way he claims Iyuzo after that. Sure, I could've shot Segal, but he'd appreciate the roundaboutness of it all. Wouldn't want to disappoint him after all this time. And it's not like I want Gorlan Kesh running around either."

Davis stands still for a moment, subtlely moving his fingers to switch over from external speakers to internal vox. *Okay, give me thirty seconds, then we go for the kiss-off, guys.*

He flips back to external speakers. "How can we be sure this convenient excuse is the truth, Mr. Iyuzo? I'm partial to the education grids and some deep-brain massage by Truthseeker, but we're so full up with captured terrorists these days, there's quite a waiting list. So, before we cut pieces off of you, if you have anything to add..."

"-Don't give a fuck what you think," Kohan spits back. "This ain't Ethics Gradient. You know your homeworld's gees, and no faux-grav anywhere can match that. You might be Imperial anyway, in which case I'm fucked, sure. But if you're not, you're either Segal's or Gorlan's. Segal would've told you not to kill me, and Gorlan should know better than to raise the ire of a house that outnumbers him like we do. I told you the truth, I'd do it again too, and I know you've got it on vox. So get this too: Go fuck yourselves."

Davis is about to respond when there's a knock at the door. "Agent Perus?" one of the guards asks.

Davis tenses up, as if he's furious at the guard. "What?" he asks, and turns to leave. The door shuts behind him, and all Kohan can hear is "Perus" shouting angrily about this being bullshit, that he's still a threat and a viable suspect, that he should be thrown into the nearest deep hole they can find. A few seconds later, he acquiesces to the unheard voice on the other end of the line, then comes back in.

"Well, Mr. Iyuzo, it seems that you have been ordered to be released," Davis says, somehow glaring razors at Kohan through his helm. He pulls a new pistol out of a holster. "Against my objections."

He then gives Kohan a repeat performance of his previous beating. "I will see you later, Kohan." Davis shoots Kohan with the second pistol, this one loaded with knockout darts similar to the ones in Tora's digital weapons. As Kohan fades out, he hears Davis order the guards to bag and tie him back up.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-02-07 17:54:50

Mani Swao's well acquainted with Segal Iyuzo's estate; his rented skimmer gently sets down at the entrance, and Swao climbs out, wearing his armor as always. Confident steps take him to the main gate.

"I'm here to speak to your boss," he tells the guards. "Go ahead and call him, I'll wait."

Relations are a little cooler between Segal and Swao after the parking garage conversation, and although Swao doesn't wait for long, his team is faced with an "honor guard" of hired thugs preceding Segal.

"Ah, Samal, so good of you to visit," Segal croons. "But I forget myself; you are not one for idle chatter. What brings you here?"

"I solved some problems for you," Swao says. "No more Gorlan Kesh. No more Dropchief Arakuna."

Eyebrows raise. "My, that is tragic news," Segal sympathizes with a wry smile. "I should express my condolences to their families- oh wait," he laughs. His entourage titters along in response. "I do thank you for the news, Samal. Care you to join me for a celebratory beverage, or do you have things to do still?"

"There's still the matter of your brother," Swao replies. "Looks like the dropchief did pull off one final scheme. He's not at the Kesh estate, I checked."

Hugh's update defenestrates Segal's bacchanal demeanor instantly. "Where is he, then?" he asks evenly.

"Don't know, that's why I'm not staying," Swao replies. "I don't want him running around, either. I just thought I could take a break from my search and update you in person - too many open ears on this planet to trust the vox."

Segal nods. "Quite. Do you suppose my brother is still alive?"

"Yes," Swao says. "If I find him, I'll make sure to keep it that way until you're there. That was our deal, right?"

"It was, Samal," Segal replies. "Go now, I have to organize my own search. The rectenna array is poised to foil Keji; soon Kohan will be found and his downfall can begin in earnest. The other noble houses and industriums are reminded of the folly of trying to smuggle against the Iyuzo, and that bothersome Arakuna is out of the picture. I owe you more than gratitude, Swao, and you will see that Segal Iyuzo pays his debts once I am in control of the entire Iyuzo house."

"Thank you, Segal, but let's keep our eyes on the prize until we've got our hands on it," Swao replies.

Segal waves his people to prep his skimmer. "Quite so, Samal. Busy day today! We shall speak soon!"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-02-07 20:48:24
Upper Stacks

Zaef points out gang markers littering the side alleys and tunnels in the Upper Stacks a reasonable distance from the Throne safehouse, and the team eventually finds a good shithole in which to leave Kohan. He'll wake up, groggy and disoriented, with no vox, inside gang territory. While he's preoccupied with simply surviving, a quick anonymous vox to Segal (sent from near Perus' location and containing Kohan's volatile confessions) should bring the Iyuzo search parties into the area before Kohan can return to his own people.

The problem should resolve itself, one way or the other.


The day progresses without any more monkeywrenches for once. Luis sets up a meeting with Quon and Tealni in order to show them the ambush footage and hand off his code modifications for the mariposa hack, but the team's various roles in the multilayered scheme are drawing to a close as the rectenna array superstructure looms larger over the mesa. Saloma's crews finally have their greenlight, and they work fast. They clearly don't want to be on that godforsaken DMZ of a solar farm any longer than necessary.

Later that evening, reports start to flutter in, both from the Cortex and otherwise, about a gang raid on a rival pharma lab that went horribly awry. As it turns out, the so-called lab was actually a nest of undercover Imperial agents. The blunder intensified when a garbage drone laden with explosives detonated the building and caused irreperable damages to the surrounding hab-blocks. Authorites are still pulling bodies from the wreckage, but rumors link the attack to Kohan Iyuzo's camp. The whereabouts of the errant noble are currently unknown, and Kansat are not denying his possible involvement in the grisly murder of an Imperial Truthseeker earlier that day.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-02-08 20:11:53

"That's great!" Quon roars, barely able to contain himself. Tealni smirks behind her husband as the holographic skimmer fire glints red and orange in their eyes for the third or maybe fourth time. He laughs a little longer, then takes a swig from the high-end bottle nearest to him. "That's teamwork, Nasa. Wish I had more of you on my staff at Faxom-Io."

"And clever how you rerouted your optics to save the data to your handheld," Tealni adds.

"Right, right," Quon continues. "I have to say, Nasa, this has been one of the better meals this week. Was there anything else?"

Zakest toys with some of the last of his meal, clearly enjoying the praise."Well, it seems only right to properly celebrate an occasion such as this." Something occurs to him through the buzz of his second Southern Twist, and he pauses the second to remember what he'd forgotten. "Speaking of clever, I was admiring the codework for the Mariposas. Quite elegant for the time you must have had to have it prepared. I'm not sure I could have done it myself in the time. I might like the chance to meet with whoever did it, if that's possible."

They're not laughing anymore. An uncomfortable silence hangs between the Quoronas before Quon considers his words. "You are astute; we had to outsource the work to a trusted ally but you'll forgive me when I say I can't give you their identity. It keeps things compartmentalized, you see."

"Yes, and that's admirable. However, you and I both have a lot riding on this, and I saw a few things that could use alterations. I don't want to risk everything I've gained because of some coding mistake, so let me help, all right?"

Luis can see Quon weighing which party might gain the most from screwing over his plan, balancing the security risks and other unknown dangers of Luis' acquaintances against the proven assistance he's given them.

"All right," Quon relents suddenly. "If what you say is true, telling us won't help get those edits in place. Tealni, contact Keji and bring him or his person or whatever into our space?"

Tealni nods, shuts down the privacy screens for a moment, and gets the faraway look of someone accessing the Cortex. Luis thinks back over the code he's seen and decides that it matches up with the straightforward butcher that stripped Keji's assumed wrongdoings from the Cortex after the ROBS raid. Whether Keji himself or someone in his employ, they are definitely the same person, not some contractor hired out just for this one job. Personal loyalty is likely to be high, although the inelegance of their skillset may be a sore point.

*I am here,* comes the text message. *Reengage privacy screens at your discretion.* Tealni does so.

Zakest grins, "Hey there. I was admiring your work on the Mariposa code, and I wanted to talk it over with you. Very elegantly done."

*What functionality did you take issue with?* responds Keji's consultant, seemingly immune to the flattery.

"The method you're using to execute the changes is rather long. I saw some areas where the code could be modified to improve the runspeed at execution while keeping the obfuscation factor in the meantime. I'd like to meet and discuss it in person, which might go a little faster. No need to bother our hosts," Zakest nods at the Quoronas, "With any overly technical talk."

The response comes after a pause. *If you have a superior program, send it and I will incorporate your additions. I admit my skills are workmanlike and lack subtlety. I would be happy to learn from your changes but I see no need to meet in person.*

"For an application like this, I'm reluctant to trust cortex transmission security. Short range transmission would be my preferred method for sending you my revisions."

"So give it to me," Tealni interrupts. "Nothing more secure than an offline handoff."

Zakest nods, "Indeed. Let me know if you have any questions." He pulls out his vox, and with a few entries sets up a transfer of his revised program. A little animation plays on the screen as it waits to establish a connection with Tealni's vox.

The dancing saglapi fades out as the transfer completes and Tealni smiles at Luis. "I'll send this on from our secure room," she explains.

*Agreed.* is the reply. *It is good to talk to you, Mr. Nasa. I will find you should I encounter difficulty.*

"We are on the brink here, people," Quon says. "We all understand the dangers, I trust? And we will all reap the rewards. To Akis, and to us!" he lifts his bottle.

"To Akis and to us!" Zakest responds, lifting what's left of his Southern Twist. He glances at the glass, realizing how empty it is. "Now that the business is done, how about dessert?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2011-02-09 06:16:40
Luis’ meeting and handoff with the Quoronas is the last domino to be set in place. He has his suspicions about Keji’s hacker, but when he returns to the mesa and reports, it’s the overwhelming consensus of the team that Keji Iyuzo has some sort of AI or computer doing his Cortex raiding. Luis figures the best way to track down this... this construct is to shadow its incursion into the mariposa systems and follow it back down from space. It’s a lot easier than trying to navigate Akis’ labyrinthine Cortex. Davis fixates on this new target; you know Imperial computer systems are inimical to Sheen intelligence, so either Keji’s construct is something that can survive in existing systems - a boon to your Sheen allies if you can nab that secret - or it has a “server” of sorts made from pre-war or customized systems - and that server would make a ready-made home for friendly Sheen to set up shop on Hedion. The evacuation plan is modified to include a hasty assault on wherever Keji’s companion sets down after the mariposa hack is introduced, but other than that bit of last-minute jiggling, the team finds themselves with nothing to really do but play out their covers and wait for the construction crews to get the array to the point where it can be tested.

Two days later, it is increasingly apparent that despite their obvious flaws, the dropteams on the mesa are definitely not trained for continued law enforcement. Discipline erodes, standards deteriorate, and they frankly just get sloppy under the constant tension and pressure. They’re trained for the short term, and Saloma already picked the most impulsive members he could find. A few scuffles between the local Kansat and dropteams raise the stakes higher, and the Rav-Kansat is rarely seen unless he’s trying in vain to reach the Steward for further instructions. Speaking of Abe Saloma, he’s been silent ever since Davis’ visit, even eschewing his normal appearances at civic functions in Akis. His staff must be keeping him under wraps for the time being.

On the third day, the construction teams pronounce the rectenna superarray ready. Quon, Zakest, and Keji meet with the techs to discuss a trial run. Oh, they hem and haw about payment, but after Keji (with well-timed assistance from Zakest) convinces the construction techs that their clients need to see a test before any money changes hands, a trial run is arranged for later that night. Ody and Arlana get the word out to the solar techs and the team quietly prepares for their extraction. Luis and Davis network their voxes and keep a lookout for signs of Keji’s AI.

On the corporate front, certain Faxom-Io subindustriums (all under the purview of Quon Quorona) start releasing tidbits to the ravilars about “revolutionary advances in civic power” and “consolidating resources to better serve the people of Hedion” and so on. Meanwhile, Segal Iyuzo expands his holdings into Kohan’s turf. Keji’s slower to react, and only manages to scoop up some satellite rackets and some of Kohan’s Lower Stacks transport services for the time being. He is confident, however, that the rectenna array will provide the massive influx of literal and figurative power he needs to prove himself worthy of taking his rightful seat as Iyuzo patriarch over his short-sighted brother.