Dateline: September 19, 2050
The team has hastily assembled at the old Toenails Tower, called into action by a panicked voice message through the gray-market Broke-Runners service, and a promise for a heavy pay-day even for meeting the client in such an emergency situation. The Desiderium are watching the approaches for an attack, and the team is gathered on the roof to await the client’s AV – there’s just enough room for it to park beside the recently-zeroed luxury sports AV the team ‘liberated’ from its owner at this very spot two months ago.
Wormwood checks his pistols and touches behind his ear, making sure his new skillchips are properly seated. Candyman stands in the shadows – a curious expression on his face as he watches the AV settle and its engines cool. Pitbull stands over looking the ledge, hands clutched onto his rifle, sleep-deprived eyes scanning the area. Business as usual, as far as he’s concerned. Mei assumes the guise of a Caucasian woman with long brown curly hair before stepping out onto the roof. She also loads her English Naturalization module to reinforce the guise. Pacoy double checks his gear and launches a Pinbot to watch from a secure location. Garrion patiently waits to see what is so important to bring everyone rushing over as a group.
“So, Mr. C. Any idea what’s got a nanobug up this prospective client’s ass?” Pitbull looks at Wormwood as he breaks the silence, still unsure of him.
“Can’t say as I have, the communication was very terse and guarded. We’ll learn soon enough. Seem interesting though.” Candy smiles as the thought of another lucrative opportunity.
“Yeah, I look forward to seeing what we’ve got on our hands” Mei is already sinking into her acted local accent.
“Anyone heard any news on Able? I haven’t heard much of him in the last two months.” Pitbull grates, speaking for the first time since he made his way into the Zone.
“Well Able has a real job, unlike the rest of us. I’m sure Rossum is just keeping him busy, I’m sure our interests will intersect again soon.” Pitbull growls a laugh at Candy’s statement.
The client’s AV, a luxury model similar to the Audi Sphinx, barely has time to land and for the engines to begin to spool down before a hatch opens and a man runs out. He’s dressed in what may have once been a very fancy suit and jacket, but has since become quite disheveled, sweated through, and otherwise is not in anywhere near top condition. The client himself is a young thirty-ish man with brown hair and wary eyes that dart this way and that as if he’s afraid someone will jump from the shadows and eat him alive.
Garrion jumps to a more alert state upon seeing the man’s behavior.
Pacoy offers a hand to the newcomer “Hello, my name is Pacoy, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. How may we be of assistance to you?” Candy watches on as Pacoy makes the first touch, but eases closer to the client. Pitbull walks toward the man. “Relax. You’re safe unless you give us a reason to harm you.” He then looks at Pacoy, as if saying “carry on.”
Wormwood catches the man’s clothing – fancy, serious money – then edges closer to his AV to see if he’s the only occupant.
The man damned near falls flat on his face before Pitbull, slamming to his knees and bowing down deep, grabbing Pitbull’s ankles in a plaintive gesture. “Oh thank god you’re real! I was sure those blackguards were just going to take my money and run!”
Pitbull scowls. “Oh get up, boy. Tell us what happened, and we will take some action. But calm down!” He yells, as he hoists the guy back onto his feet, dusting him off in the process.
“Yes, we’re the ones who received you communication, the names Candyman, or Candy to my friends. You’re under the protection of Desiderium here – if you have the time we can go below and talk over some refreshments.” Candy gives the man a kind smile to reassure him.
Wormwood makes a show of admiring the Sphinx — and meanwhile slaps a nanobug into the front grillwork where it’ll show him everywhere the AV goes. Silently, a 2” sphere with a slender rotor slowly descends to the far side of the car for a better look.
The man shakes his head vigorously at the idea of going downstairs. “No, no! We don’t have time. No time at all. Christ, I don’t know what’s happening at all but I know we don’t have much time.”
Pitbull scowls down at the client. “What could possibly be so damn urgent? Impending war? Uprising? What’s going on, boy?” Before speaking, Mei doubts her acting talents and loads her software module to support her, just in case. Mei follows Pitbull’s statement “Just breathe and tell us what’s going on.”
“Just calm down, we are listening, if time is that scarce we will just listen.” Candy makes a point of directing everyone to remain silent.
The man takes a few deep breaths, nodding. When he speaks, he’s visibly a little calmer – but not all that much. “Look, it’s my sister. We just found her again a few weeks ago, and now she’s gone missing again. Vanished. I can’t lose her again! My family would skin me alive!”
Wormwood perks up and walks back over to the group as the entire team begins to grill the client.
Garrion: “Why is this your problem if she wonders off?”
Candy: “Can you give us some background information on your sister, where she was before she was found or why. Kidnapping and if so the likely perps?”
Mei: “So you want us to help find her? Understandable. Why did you fly over here in such a hurry then? You appeared as if you were running away from someone.”
The client shakes his head a bit as he holds up his hands. “If she had just wandered off it wouldn’t be so bad – just hire a PI again and wait until they found her. But you don’t get it. She was in Franklin Ridge last night. Where there was all that violence.”
“Violence? I don’t remember hearing ’bout that.” Pitbull growls as he pulls the article up on his HUD.
Wormwood switches his computer implant to record everything he sees and hears. Kidnaps are his area of expertise. “The Amon Zero riot? I saw that on the news.”
Mei begins perusing the news article Wormwood is referencing on her HUD. Garrion doesn’t bother with all this last minute research, he’s already heard all about it. Instead he focuses on the man’s story.
“The gang upset near the Amon Zero Archive? I was planning to look into that myself, does she have any connection to them or just an unlucky bystander?” Candy’s face goes unreadable.
The client nods. “Yeah; I don’t know if they were there for her, or if she just got caught up in it or what. But I’m terrified that somebody kidnapped her. Her body wasn’t there, and the police don’t know how to hold two cups together. I don’t think she’s involved; she kind of disappeared for a few years, and we only found her again a month ago. We were still catching up, but she never mentioned the cult.”
The near-interrogation continues as Candy pounces forth with more questions. “Could you describe some of the groups she had business or dealing with before her disappearance, did she see watchful or guarded for the short time you saw her recently?”
Wormwood follows up right away. “OK, what’s her name and where did you find her before you carelessly lost her again?”
Pitbull closes the article and rejoins the conversation. “Well, should we investigate the area? There maybe something that we can find there.”
The client shoots off a digital picture of a pretty red-haired woman in Night City police-issue body armor. " Eleanor Sanders. She used to be in the Night City police department, before she quit two years ago and fell off the grid. Then she showed up at my house in late August, letting me know she was ‘back in town’."
While the others press the man for information, Mei begins to research the man himself – still weary of his rush and apparent avoidance of answering about why. She starts by attempting to identify the man with her Augmented Reality software, quickly hitting on a Benjamin Sanders, a financial analyst for the HUB.
Wormwood plugs “Eleanor Sanders, Night City, Police, Sanders family” into his implant and let’s it search the Net while Pacoy shoots a silent message to the group “This guy isn’t being truthful" Wormwood subvocalizes, “Got that – I’m drawing a blank on the family, anyone got anything?”
Mei comms the rest of the party subvocally. “Pacoy’s right, we haven’t got info on why he’s so afraid. We also haven’t discussed payment. The guy is a low class glitterati, whole family is except the sister. She was a cop, so that much checks out”
Garrion studies the man’s body language as Pitbull speaks. “Sir, your story is incomplete. What are you forgetting to mention?” Garrion speaks up. “So you think whoever nabbed your sister may be after you?”
Benjamin shakes his head. “I don’t know, maybe? But even if they aren’t, the fact that they have her! Oh, Christ. If they have her alive… Don’t you get it? When she got back, I helped her get set onto her feet again. I gave her access back to her family accounts!”
Mei comms subvocally to the team “Ahh, there’s the problem. She has access to the family wealth. He doesn’t want her stealing it, and him taking the blame.”
Garrion tries to get Benjamin’s attention. “So what did your sister tell you when she suddenly reappeared? What was her excuse for running away? Why are you the one responsible for her? Was she disowned by the family and you were sheltering her or what?” His efforts don’t quite succeed – Wormwood interrupts just as Benjamin looks like he might answer.
“Guys, hush a mo’ and let Wormie work his magic.” Wormwood moves to interpose himself between Sanders and the rest, crosses his arms on his chest, then pops his steel claws and glowers. “What aren’t you telling us?”
“Sir, we also need to know why they might be after you as well.” Pitbull says, too tired to beat around the bush.
Ben backs up from Wormwood a little. “Hey, man I’m telling you everything I can! I’m just trying to get everything back to normal, okay?”
“Ok, Mr. Sanders. Here is what we are going to do, these others up here are professionals in their respective fields. We have every base covered, they are going to start hitting the street now and digging up anything they can find about kidnappings and what eyes, the kind that don’t talk to cops, might have seen at Franklin Ridge. In the mean time, you and I, we are going to head down and talk about your sister. Anything you know, mannerisms and old friends, everything. We are connected on comms – everything I learn they learn. Once we are solid on what we are looking for – we can start discussing payment.” Candy looks to the others, and nods. “Good luck on the street. Also,” Candy turns to face Mr. Sanders, “if you have time later, it might be useful for some of the team to ride around with you as a guide.”
Wormwood instantly changes demeanor to smiling, happy-go-lucky. “Sure thing, Mr. C. Mind if I take the Caddy? It’ll get us there faster.”
“No problem, that’s what we kept the beast for.” Candy speaks to Mr. Sanders again. “These people are very good at what they do. I would trust my life in their hands, and have, put your fears to rest.”
Wormwood smiles at being given permission to fly, subvocalizing over comms to Candyman. “What’s the AV’s code, Mr. C?” Candy replies via the same method. “Code for her is Regifting, good luck Wormwood.”
Pitbull takes his turn to cross his arms and give a menacing leer. “But any information you are forgetting would be good to know. Last chance.” Garrion adds to Pitbull’s statement. “We’re putting our asses on the line digging into this. We need to know what we are up against if you have any more information.”
Ben backs up away from Pitbull and Garrion, almost all the way to the AV. “Christ, I just want help! I don’t know who those guys were that were fighting, but they took down the security team I had following Eleanor. They even jammed the locator I had implanted into Eleanor when she came back – but just that signal. It’s like they knew exactly which band to jam. I don’t know how they could do that.”
Wormwood smirks at Ben. “Two words, Mr. Sanders – professional preparation.”
“Did they know you personally?” Pitbull grates, arms still folded but left eyebrow raised. “Or did you piss a friend off?”
Garrion, looking concerned over Benjamin’s well-being, makes a suggestion. “Well, if you are truly worried about your safety as well as hers, I suggest you stay here. This is as safe a place as any. Would you mind us using your AV? It could draw out anyone searching for you too.”
Ben shakes his head, clearly not comfortable with that idea. “I – no, you can’t. I can’t stay here forever; my father knows nothing about this, and will be told nothing about it, and we need to meet for lunch in two hours. I can’t break that – if I did, he’d know something was up.”
“Make an excuse. He should understand, right? Anyone can be sick.” Pitbull suggests, suspicion rising.
Candyman nods understandingly. “It’s hard to be afraid when one is Legion, but that can’t always be the case. Be careful out there Wormwood. I’ll take care of Mr. Sanders.”
Ben gets a determined look on his face. “No, you can’t. And you don’t know my father.”
Candy turns to Mr. Sanders. “That’s not a problem, you just met an old friend, he’s going to lunch with you too. We can discuss all of this afterwards. Do you have any sick leave you could make use of over the next couple days? That way it will seem less suspicious when we meet again. I’m only in town for a week.” Candyman gives that reassuring smile again. “It will up our chance at success if we know what you know. That will take time and access to the places she has been. The longer it takes the more curious your father will get. Speed is of the essence and all that.”
“Well, either way, I’m off. Room for another, Wormwood?” Pitbull asks as he steps over to the AV.
“Mr. C., you’ll be OK with just that scary woman Francheska and an entire gang to protect you, right?” Wormwood chuckles evilly and slides into the team’s Cadillac AV to start the pre-flight, Mei and Pitbull in the back.
Garrion frowns. “In your current condition I would be safe to say you’re going to have a hard time hiding anything from him.”
Wormwood calls out over the rising whine of turbojets, “So who is your dad, Mr. Sanders? Someone we should know?”
“I – sick leave, yes. Yeah, I can do that. But coming with me to meet my father – I don’t think we can do that. He doesn’t meet anyone new without forward notice and a background check.”
After a few short subvocal communications, Wormwood sighs and gets out of the AV, walking over, his hand extended. Pacoy joins in, still trying to distract. “What about one of us posing as Hired Help? Or at the very least following discretely? If these guys blocked a specific signal on your sister, odds are they have inside help…”
Wormwood looks the client dead in the eye as he shakes his hand. “Sorry for the scare earlier, Mr. Sanders. Sometimes I forget myself.” With his other hand, he tries to palm a nanobug onto Sander’s shoulder but the adhesive won’t stick and it drops to the ground. He grins, turns and walks off, grinding the bug underfoot as he does so. “Sorry guys, no can do.”
“Hired help might work, but… look – I’m not worried about my security from these thugs – if anyone’s going to kill me over this it’s likely to be my father. And I don’t think you could do much to stop him if he was determined.”
Mei comms to Candy. “There’s a chance this girl disappeared on her own. Make sure to find out what to do if we find her and she doesn’t want to be found. He may want her dead if she’s trying to remain hidden. Remember, his family wealth may be at risk. And from the sounds of it, his father values that more than his life.”
Garrion looks over at Benjamin, eyes narrowed. “So you never did say. Who is your father?”
Ben looks a little embarrassed. “Eric Sanders. He is – was – involved with Night City politics until he retired. Behind the scenes.”
Candyman adds his own questions to the mix. “Mr. Sanders, how does your father feel about your sister. What kind of risk does she pose, she knows secrets or has access to family funds? If she is found, you want her returned? What if she disappeared on her own – it would explain how the team and tracer were dealt with so swiftly and without fuss.”
Ben shakes his head. “My sister – her choice of career upset my father. Greatly. I haven’t told him that she’s back in town, and I don’t want him to know that she’s gone missing now, too. If she ran away on her own – I just need to know where she is. Don’t kill her or anything – Christ no – but I need to check up on her myself, okay?”
Garrion nods. “I understand. We’ll be sure not to make it known to him either.”
Wormwood closes up the AV and smoothly lifts off, turning towards Franklin Ridge and the Amon Zero temple.
Mei comms to Pacoy. “You guys on the ground should probably stick with Candy. This guys probably got more heat on him than us.”
Pacoy muses over the comms. “Hmm… Father is a behind the scenes player, disapproves of the sister. Sister shows up after being missing for 2 years, gets a hold of some family accounts, and disappears again with a secret transmitter being jammed?”
Wormwood curses. “Everything looks different from up here and I’m not used to this chip yet. hang on a sec.” He opens up the autopilot program via his interface and enters the location of the Amon Zero building. “There we go. Look Ma, no hands!” Pitbull gives Wormwood a look, feeling something’s not quite right with him…
Candy simply nods. “About this dinner, I’ll just need to know where you went to college and the like, afterwards we can swing by where your sister was staying. She might have left some clues – did she have a computer or anything like that left behind from her disappearance?”
Ben shakes his head. “My father wouldn’t see you under this sort of short notice. If I bring someone else without clearing with him first – look, you don’t want that kind of scrutiny, and neither do I.”
Garrion provides a new question. “Mr. Sanders, do you have your own security detail?”
Ben looks a little embarrassed. “Well – not, not anymore. I don’t usually have a standing security detail, but the guys I hire when I need one – they were the ones following Eleanor.”
Candy nods. “Right, I understand. In that case can you provide a key and address to the place your sister was staying – we can go while your out at dinner.”
Ben nods. “Eleanor was staying at a hotel in Franklin Ridge, a few blocks away from where that attack happened. I didn’t want to use one of our normal facilities, lest father find out.” Ben fishes in his pocket for a moment, before pulling out a keycard. “Here’s the key; put your thumb on the pad and I’ll authorize you access now.” The card is a small thumb scanner/key dongle, where the combination of an authorized thumb print and the key is required to access the room.
Garrion takes the card after getting authorized. “Good luck with your father. We’ll take care of this for you. I’ll let Candy finish making payment and contact arrangements with you while we get ready to roll out.”
Candy nods and shakes the client’s hand. “Well Mr. Sanders, I suppose you need to make yourself presentable for your meeting. We’ll talk again soon.” Benjamin half-smiles and slinks back to his AV, sitting down in it as if his strings had been cut; the AV shortly takes off and flies west, almost certainly on auto-pilot.
In the car, Mei drops her disguise and speaks to the group, “When we arrive, we should have a general plan of action. I’d like to ask around the locals first – see if anybody saw anything. Find out about uniforms that someone might have been wearing. Just get a little more detail about what went down. Someone should look around for small bits the police may have missed – broken bugs, weapons casings to find out what kind of firepower we’re dealing with, what not. The police may also still be there, if so, we want to make sure our presence isn’t noticed. We don’t want them coming after us thinking we’re involved.”
“Do you think we’d need a tactical plan, like if things get a little hot?” Pitbull growls. Mei answers him, “Perhaps, perhaps not. I’ve found, however, that preparation is the key to success. I’d rather be too detailed than not enough.” She unloads her modular software, returning to her natural state. “I think this tell us more about who after her than where she is, though.” Wormwood speaks from the front, “Ok, Mei – good call. I’ll look around for clues while you talk to witnesses and Pitbull provides over-watch in case anything goes sour, yeah?” “Sound good to me,” she replies, “Don’t worry, I speak English when I do it.” Pitbull leans back and shuts his eyes for a few moments, cigarette still hanging from his lips as he talks around it, “Very well. I’ll take up watch and the pair of you dig around. This should be simple enough.”
Wormwood speaks to everyone next, over the team’s comm-net: “I figure we’re looking at serious professionals, though. They killed an entire security team and kidnapped a trained cop, slick as you like and with some serious EW support. It’s going to be Art against art, but we’ll be better.” Mei, in her accented English, replies, “The news say the attackers look like amateurs. Only win by blowing up a van.” Pacoy’s call comes back immediately, “I think that’s a smoke screen. Take out the team, scramble hidden signal, make it look like nutjobs. So, Air Team investigates the crime scene, ground crew checks the hotel for leads. Sounds like a plan.” Wormwood agrees with him, “The news gets a lot wrong. Same show said that the guy who left that girl at the Dreampark also set the fire, but we know that fire was Deitner’s diversion,” and after a brief discussion everyone agrees that it’s best not to go tromping around in a large and noticeable group. The three in the AV will be joined by the others after Garrion, Pacoy and Candy have investigated the hotel – although Wormwood sounds a little petulant, like he’d really wanted to help search the missing woman’s hotel room.
The AV is faster and set out sooner, so Mentadak, Pitbull and Wormwood are first at their destination as Wormwood sets the AV into a slow spiral down before landing in the parking lot of a disused convenience store opposite the Amon Zero building, kicking up dirt and grit from the car’s fans. Pitbull has been musing on Wormie’s earlier petulant tone, though. “What’s wrong with you, man? I could hear some disappointment back there,” he asks. Wormwood shrugs as he pops the AV’s doors, “Me? Nothing at all. It’s just they’re ignoring the usefulness of a true artist.” Pitbull asks him where he’d find art in such a shitty place as Night City and Wormwood grins, “You wouldn’t understand the opportunities this city offers. You have to discover, prepare, install and then perform.” : “Huh. Maybe I’m just not an artist, past the Art of Death if that even counts,” Pitbull laughs at his own joke as steps out of the AV too, flicking his cigarette butt as he does so.
Ignoring their by-play, Mei makes her way over to the disused store, resuming her guise from earlier – including her language and acting Modules. It has clearly seen better days. It’s nowhere near as bad as one of the combat zones, but graffiti and dirt are some of the least-damaging blemishes upon its facade – the more recent bullet-holes and blast residue from a moderately-sized explosion put the meager efforts of the area’s resident vandals to shame.
Wormwood gazes off at the top of the other team members’ target hotel, several blocks away but tall enough to be seen over the roofs of the local area of urban blight he finds himself in and with a number of old-fashioned satellite uplink towers and radio antennae on the roof. The hotel isn’t flash – a utilitarian lump of rockcrete near a dried up lake on the edge of the Richmond Heights Preserve, a tangled bit of arid scrub that used to be a nice parkland area. He sighs, “Well, that’s exactly the kind of place I’d pick if I was rich and didn’t want anyone to find me.”
Wormwood starts walking towards around the store’s parking lot, studying the ground with his optics’ gain turned all the way up. It doesn’t take long before he finds traces of blood. And then quite a bit more than traces – it looks like someone completely bled out over the pavement of the parking lot, with a large bloodstain leading all the way up and under the AV.
Meanwhile, Candy breaks in on the team circuit: “Pacoy, I’m going to head over to Amon Zero before we sniff around to much and maybe catch a few eyes. Call me if you need anything.” He begins the long walk over to the familiar Amon Zero compound.
Hearing Pacoy wonder that Candy’s walking that distance – around two thirds of a mile – in such a neighborhood, Pitbull jogs up the road to a rise in the street level, where he can see better. “We’re at the store Candy, what’s your status?” Pitbull comms. Candy sends back: “Heading towards Amon Zero, got worried they might catch on to us if we were crawling around the crime scene too long, don’t want them spooked. Heading over to learn what I can – I’ll catch up in a bit,” and at that Pitbull moves even further up the street until his augmented vision can pick out Candyman in the distance and watch him all the way in while still maintaining his over-watch on Wormwood and Mei.
Garrion and Pacoy have already entered the lobby of the Radiscotel ( a shortened form of ‘Radison Discount Hotel’), and are waiting for the elevator. Garrion turns to his companion, “looks like it’s just you and me.” Pacoy chuckles, “Yep. You notice the team put all their techies in one basket again?” The elevator arrives and the ride it up to the seventh floor, where Eleanor Sanders had her room. The girl’s room is the third one down – room 705.
Garrion approaches the door with Pacoy, alert for any danger or probing eyes. Pacoy opens his jacket and activates one of his tiny Pinbots to use as an extra eye on the scene. The hotel remains silent – they don’t even hear anything from any of the other rooms on the floor. The security is pretty swank for a no-tell motel, but the Radiscotel Corporation has always been a pioneer in efficient money management through thrifty security management. There are two camera systems situated at opposite ends of the hall, covering each other – these cameras are visual-field only, but include the IR range. The cameras are hooked up to a specialized system to protect the clients identities – anyone registered by a current resident in the hotel’s computer security system has a snap-image of their IR profile taken, which is then utilized by the camera system to blur out any and all distinguishing features of that guest whenever they come within the camera’s field of view. Absolutely no identifying marks are recorded, and the IR signature is destroyed either at the client’s request or immediately upon checkout.
Before using the card, Garrion checks for any sign that the lock has been tampered with prior to their arrival. The door lock is pretty standard – a fob key including a fingerprint scanner to ensure only authorized guests can have access – This ensures that no biometric data is stored in the hotel’s security system and that only guests with the physical key can have access – and pickpockets can’t get in, either. The lock for this particular door has a few scuffs on it, but they’re old and appear to be due to normal wear and tear. Pacoy nods. “Nice set up. Very professional.” Garrion then uses the card to activate the door and opens it slowly, only a crack at first, and listens. The room is mostly silent. Garrion can just barely make out the sound of an air conditioning unit whirring in the background, but Pacoy throws out an arms and whispers, “Hold on, that’s what bots are for!” Pacoy sends the 2" bot to float silently into the room ahead of the group.
The feed from the bot shows a silent, still room, typical of one of these hotels. There is a small mini-fridge in one corner, two full-sized beds taking up the center of the room, and a door leading to what is most likely a bathroom in one side. At the end of the room is a variglass door leading to a balcony, the glass currently pitch black and opaque but capable of being made fully transparent with a little electrical current. Once given the clear signal Garrion enters the room and checks it for anything useful, starting with computers, data pads, security logs, etc. He also checks for paper – it is old and archaic but some people still use it in a pinch and he learned a trick on how to reveal if anything was written on a pad. Pacoy’s bot finishes it’s check and Pacoy sends the schematic to Garrion’s computer as he follows his colleague into the room.
There is no computer in evidence, nor any papers anywhere within sight. A vid screen takes up most of one wall, next to the bathroom door. Underneath it is a set of dressers contains a woman’s clothes. Just about all of it looks to be primarily suited for working out in – sports bras and newspex pants both nearly overflow their respective compartments. There are a few more modest outfits for normal every-day wear, but they’re in the minority by far. “Its a good thing Wormwood is not here. He may try to abscond some of these I have a feeling,” Garrion quips, “It appears she either works out quite a bit or enjoys revealing a little more than her father would prefer I’d say.” Pacoy chuckles “I was thinking the same thing…” He sets a drone to scanning the room in IR, then goes and sets the balcony window to “clear”.
There doesn’t appear to be anything deliberately hidden – nothing in in her drawers except clothing, no secret computer system, not even a book or pad of paper. Garrion does notice one thing rather out of the ordinary however – a camera, perched on top of the TV. Radiscotels don’t put cameras in their clients rooms, and this one isn’t connected to the hotel’s network backbone. It’s a wireless model, small, but with great picture and audio clarity. It’s pointing directly at the foot of one of the beds, Garrion notices – in the perfect position to record someone who is sitting at the foot of the bed and speaking into the camera.
“Hmm… Confession Cam?” Pacoy muses, as Garrion draws his attention to the camera. Garrion makes a gesture – maybe – “I wish Able was here with his hacking abilities. Team, any of you able to hack a wireless cam to ascertain its connection or data?”
Pacoy’s drones detect nothing interesting on the balcony, nor any IR signatures. In fact, the entire floor seems to be IR dead – though if the drones tilt up or down, they can see some IR leaking from patrons in the rooms above and below. He muses about the trouble sending a Buzzbot to peep into other rooms could get him into before recalling and storing his bots.
Mei, who has been monitoring the team’s channel, calls Garrion about the camera, “If it is encrypted I can give it a shot.” “Copy that,” Garrion replies, “I’ll bring it along with me.” He snags the cam and pockets it as he finishes his sweep. “Nothing else up here. Heading down to your location.”
Wormwood has a sudden idea: “Before you go, see if the TV still has the camera footage in it’s memory.” His idea pays off – the vid panel turns on at a simple click of the interface by the bedside. The screen that pops up is instantly identified as a security feed from the hotel’s cameras. The feed is live, and there doesn’t appear to be any way to rewind – it’s more for identifying unexpected guests before opening the door than for seeing if anyone broke in while you were away. It shows movement on the floors both above and below this one, along with a take from the lobby, the elevator cars, and the hallway outside the door. There’s even a feed down from the roof, showing that nobody is trying to climb up to the balcony. Garrion has a theory – “Well she also probably paid a little extra to have some security feeds piped into her room. Seems she was cautious on who was coming around.”
Just before the two Runners leave, Garrion makes one final discovery as he decides to have another quick poke in places he hasn’t yet looked. Inside the minifridge are several vials of an unmarked, yellow liquid, along with a reusable jet subdermal spray unit. The drug doesn’t look like any street drug either of you have ever encountered before, and the jet applicator is rather fancy – it’s medical-grade gear. Not uncommon with rich drug users, but still notable. This could be a new designer drug, or some type of medicine. There’s no real way to be sure without analyzing it further. Garrion pockets those items as well, making a computer note to get the stuff refrigerated as soon as possible.
With the drugs secure, the two investigators head down to the reception desk. The receptionist isn’t exactly the norm for a hotel. Rather than a pleasant-faced female with a talkative personality, they’re faced with a gruff male standing 6’6" tall. He has at least one cybernetic limb that they can see (his left arm) and a plate of metal covers half of his face. Pacoy steps up to the desk, “Excuse me, I’m a security consultant working for one of your guests, I was wondering to whom I might speak to get a little information?”
The man’s one good eye looks down at him, surprisingly blue. The red mechanical eye follows its movement, and the cyber-arm comes down softly, but firmly, on the reception desk. “What’s your authorization? You need to be pre-authorized by a guest prior to us giving out any information.”
Garrion records the receptionist so that he can pass the video feed on over to someone else for a database check and steps forward, holding out Eleanor’s keycard. "Here I have it. “She asked us to come over but she is not there. Have you seen her?” The receptionist’s voice is flat, unyielding, “I’m sorry, but you need special authorized specifically for information release; the standard room authorization is not enough. Our privacy policies are quite strict.” Meanwhile, Wormwood sends a data transfer to both – a database search on the receptionist doesn’t come up with any matches – it’s quite possible that his severe cyber-augmentation has altered his physical profile sufficiently that he no longer fits with the database.
As Pacoy taps his credstick against his palm for a moment in contemplation, but decides against it, Garrion looks contrite, “Fair enough. We wouldn’t want to get you in trouble or anything. i just hope she doesn’t get pissed about us not meeting her.” The receptionist smiles and nods back. “I understand. Please, remember Radiscotel for any future secure temporary housing needs.”
The two turn and leave the hotel to rejoin their companions.
To be continued…