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 fangs or talons, four of them. 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

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