Nova Praxis

Closer to the MARC.

Slipping into Suzuki’s hired pod isn’t too difficult, but the complex AI security has been keeping an electronic eye on them for a while and begins to take measures against the team. Unaware of this, Savi discovers Suzuki’s entry records for Stygia (the galaxy’s largest Virtuality) and sets up the pod to take Akaitsuki there in his place.

\Stygia

With a whoosh of sensation (accompanied by an antique dial-up tone in her own personal tastes), Akaitsuki suddenly finds herself awaking upon a bright white bed, in a Stygian hubspire. Looking out the window, she can clearly see the strange inner curvature of the Dyson sphere the city is encased within. Virtual architecture firms compete for virtual estate here, granting the place a Darwinian beauty: a survival of finesse.

The room is barely used, but is obviously expensive from its location. The only things which appear to be of use are the room keycard, and a blank business card on the desk. On picking it up, she is suddenly aware of an address and directions to a nearby café.

Behind her, her mother’s corrupted ego joins her in the room. A wavering finger points towards the door. It has a sensor attached to it, but Akaitsuki is an assassin, not a software engineer. Her instinct tells her that it isn’t deadly, and she heads off to the café, leaving the (possibly bugged) business card on the desk.

The Needlework Café is set back behind a small front garden, filled with old fashioned tables of twisted cast iron and glass. It looks pleasantly full, but as you are looking around a waiter comes over and says: “Welcome! We have prepared a table on the balcony for yourself and your associate.” Mutely, you follow him upstairs and to the back, where you can see over the cast iron railing across a lake, to a large public park beyond. You are already getting used to the strange topography of the Dyson sphere. Here the tables are wooden, with plants dotted here and there.

A man is seated at the corner table. He stands to greet you, but neither bows nor offers a hand. One fist is clenched in front of him. His gaze is cool as you are both seated and he says: “You are obviously not Mr Suzuki. Who are you and what is your purpose?”

Akaitsuki is not one for talk, and instead uses the opportunity to memorise as much as she can about the man. He looks Chinese in origin, and has an ornate talisman around his neck containing some kind of fang or talon. His charcoal oriental-cut suit is complemented by elegant, fitted gloves. Her instinct screams that they stink something technical.

“Up your game or die, you metal freak” he says, pulling a sleek dark gun from behind him. “I have no time for games with you.”

As he brings the gun up, her mother’s figure glitches into existence off to one side, and his fractional hesitation is all she needs. Her hand snatches a knife from the table before explosively slamming the gun down, pinning his hand to the wood.

“You bitch!” he screamed in pain, reaching up with his other hand and punching away from her, into the air. The glove shone and crackled, and his arm disappeared up to his elbow. It reappeared in Akaitsuki’s face, slamming her into the railing. But as she tensed to rally, something distracted her. Screaming. Not just one, or two. Screams across Stygia tore out in unison. Across the water, in the park, she could see figures dematerialising everywhere. She looked back at her assailant, but her distraction cost her. She caught a glimpse of honest confusion in the man’s expression, until he pulled the trigger of the gun pointed in her face and she was torn from Virtuality.

\Yume no Mori, a few minutes ago

The others have been quietly guarding Akaitsuki’s sleeve while she remained jacked in. They have been hearing metallic scuttling in the corridor and anticipating the police at any minute. Dusk risks sliding the door open a crack and sneaking a glance: he sees a cybersleeved constable with an entourage of four quadrocopter drones. They may be non-lethal but they still pack a punch. With this in mind, the four members of the team stood to either side of the doorway and behind the transplasmidium cover of the VR pod.

It was over pretty quickly. The constable didn’t know what to expect on opening the door, but he didn’t expect to be ambushed by four people

View
Entering the Forest of Dreams

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.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.