The team Manadhir had gathered were very different, and this was clear from the moment they stepped foot in the Metropolis Lounge.
As the place opened for breakfast that morning, a slightly slouching figure with a forgettable face made his way to a corner table and settled down; probably losing himself in the one of the Extranet’s news channels. Unknown to the barkeep, his name was Dusk, and he was actually completely alert. He quietly sat and hid the token which would make him recognisable to his fellow Auxiliaries. Regulars began to head in for breakfast before long; some after one of the liquid variety.
At about 8am, Chengdan Local Time, a strange pair headed inside. One was a Legionnaire, built like a warrior but wearing a battered looking suit. The other was a slight, elderly woman who only reluctantly stepped over the threshold. They were the former Major, Charlie Major of the Legion and Savi, who he had picked up out of the gutter a few nights ago. Not noticing Dusk’s presence at the corner table, they sat down at a table next to the floor-to-ceiling windows, and looked out at the Yume No Mori complex which pierced the sky nearby.
As the pair ordered their food, a slender cybersleeve slipped in, a long narrow bag strapped across her back. Akaitsuki immediately saw the tokens adorning the pair by the window: an AR serpent coiled around each of their bodies. The Major saw the one around Akaitsuki’s arm and nodded. She went to the bar and ordered a measure of Yamazaki before joining them. Although cybersleeves have no need of food or drink, it sometimes helps to have a touchstone; something to keep the frags at bay.
Introductions and some talk about the Yume no Mori are passed around the table until 10am, the designated meeting time. On the dot, a hardy looking man effortlessly carrying a large backpack strode in. Following him was a bizarre creature from the Wilds of Chengdan, a Scragrük. The barman stiffened in alarm as it bound to the bar in seconds, its tentacular skin aquiver. The man was Dr Wolfram Armstrong, expert on the planet’s flora and fauna.
The four of them talk over their plan of attack at the window table over food and drink, until the clank of set down cutlery stops them. The man from the corner has stood, a serpent flaring into life around his neck. When the time comes for them to start, Dusk is so far ahead that the others are still rising as the door impatiently slams shut.
The Atrium of the Yume no Mori is huge, with abstract sprawls of crystal, alloy and water decorating the expanse. In English, it translates to Forest of Dreams. Wolfram and Savi head to the leisure area to scout out possible recreational retreats of their target, while the others head directly to their target’s office, in Horizon Archival Explorations, Ltd.
Savi and Wolfram have no luck, finding no leads in the maze of gardens, shops and restaurants. The three who head to the top have more luck, bluffing their way past security and breaking into their target’s office undetected. Inside, they find an encrypted data shard which they trick an Archivist into showing to them. It is a record of a negotiation for trade with a competing company: Blue Moon Archivology. Furthermore, they also discover that Suzuki Kenji lives on the 327th floor.
After an unsuccessful attempt to catch up with their partners in Horizon’s offices, Savi and Wolfram are escorted out by security. On instinct they decide to go to the local branch office of Crimson & Sons to see if their employer is there. It is a shrewd guess, and he is there when they call. However, he is not pleased to hear that they haven’t yet recovered the MARC they were sent to retrieve. On hearing their new plan to scent track Suzuki to his apartment, he is impressed enough with their initiative to give them a piece of information: Suzuki has recently been seen visiting VirtuVac regularly – a change from his usual habits. They should be able to pick up his scent from there.
As they are heading down to VirtuVac’s establishment, Dusk thinks to look through Suzuki’s personal belongings for spare parts to gather his scent from. He carefully places it in a container and takes it with him to the rendezvous at VirtuVac. Meeting at the place, the team decide to investigate what Suzuki has been up to in Virtuality.