Finally arriving at the homeworld of the Hyrokee where the Corporations are headquartered, Mischa and her team find themselves entangled in the midst of a massive conspiracy that stretches beyond the influence of the Horde...
T'Lana@anncaris | Several more days pass after the Vector incident, and as the Lander One begins to near the Corporation homeworld, Mischa visits the medbay for her cosmetic disguise... T'Lana@anncaris has already obtained her disguise when Mischa arrives and hops off the bed, "Commander." Mischa@crystyl smiles and approaches, "Looking good Lana. How does it feel?" T'Lana@anncaris:"They are not true cybernetics, so I do not feel them save for where they contact skin." Mischa@crystyl:"All the convincing bells and whistles" T'Lana@anncaris | Dr. Nakos approaches from behind his desk, "But we designed most of the pieces to be more than just cosmetic. They need to give off a tech reading anyways, may as well make them useful." Mischa@crystyl turns, "Oh?" T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos nods, "Courtesy of Ankti and his Fixers, with a little help from the Hyrokee we have on board who know more about their own cybernetics. We've assembled a collection to choose from." T'Lana@anncaris | The door slides open and Ishyha steps in with a smile, "Just like a real cyberware place back home." Mischa@crystyl:"Wow, we even get options? You're spoiling us" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha: "You're uncovering a conspiracy that might impact the entirety of Corporate society. You're going to need every edge you can get. I'd recommend getting some /actual/ cyberware, but - T'Lana@anncaris - I've worked with other species long enough to know that you can get touchy about replacing your body parts." Mischa@crystyl:"I happen to be quite fond of my body parts, so I appreciate the consideration" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha chuckles, "Well, you'll want at least one facial piece, got to have something to show off. Preferably a few more elsewhere too," she nods to T'Lana, "Your friend has the right idea." Mischa@crystyl glances back, nodding, "Sounds reasonable" T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos pulls up a console with a list of different 'implants' to choose from, "We've developed a basic facial suite with an eyepiece you can toggle on and off. The eyepiece - T'Lana@anncaris - has built-in scanner functions and targeting aid. I'm sure we can add more functions if you can think of any, but the variation we have at the moment is whether you want it to toggle over a - T'Lana@anncaris:- single eye or across both eyes." Mischa@crystyl:"A single eyepiece works. It sounds comparable to one I normally wear during field operations" T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos nods, "Something not unlike T'Lana's, then?" Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, exactly" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha: "Make sure it's not exactly the same. Cybernetics are fashion, we're not guard robots. Two people with identical cyberware would draw attention. Like seeing people with identical - T'Lana@anncaris:- outfits at a party." Mischa@crystyl:"Oh my, yes! Quite the social faux pas!" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha: "Precisely. You'll want your cybernetics to stand out visually, even if they serve the same function." Mischa@crystyl:"So what else are we looking at?" T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos: "I'll make sure the visual design is distinct. Facial cosmetics aside, we have a number of other...gadgets, I suppose you can call them. Wrist-mounted weaponry, a micro-fabricator like - T'Lana@anncaris:- T'Lana's, Vector's EM gloves, an exoskeleton strength amplifier or an extendable connection tubule are the options we have open for the arms." Mischa@crystyl:"Connection tubules?" T'Lana@anncaris:"That was my idea. They are inspired by Borg design, though not created with their technology, of course. It will allow you to extend a long tubule to interface with a console or even an enemy's - T'Lana@anncaris:- cyberware. The default coding within should be capable of breaching most firewalls, though manual decryption may be required in some circumstances. While not as useful as the EM gloves in a - T'Lana@anncaris:- more dire situation, it may allow us to tamper with their cybernetics rather than simply shutting them down, providing more versatility." Mischa@crystyl:"Sounds good. So which options are you using?" T'Lana@anncaris:"I have taken the micro-fabricator and the connection tubule." Mischa@crystyl:"Then perhaps I should take the wrist mounted weapon and exoskeletal glove to broaden our skillset" T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos nods, "An excellent idea. We have a few options for the torso as well- by default I'm attaching the device that will emit false lifesigns, but scans will detect it as a simple medical - T'Lana@anncaris:- implant for regulating body chemistry. We also have a personal shield device but it is sizable and can be rather unwieldy." T'Lana@anncaris:"Body armour like those we have seen on some combat-honed Hyrokee is also an option, but that constricts movement even more. I would not recommend it." Mischa@crystyl:"Perhaps just the biosignature module then" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha: "I suggest adding an actual medical module on top of that. Even if you don't want to regularly use stims, some of us, especially Corporate elite, are known to use cybernetics that - T'Lana@anncaris:- allow them to release pheromones to influence those that don't have the appropriate countermeasures. A medical device that monitors and injects the right countermeasures could prevent you from - T'Lana@anncaris:- being played if you end up dealing with the upper echelons." T'Lana@anncaris:"Like the Orions, but artificially engineered. What have your Corporations /not/ come up with?" Mischa@crystyl smiles, "Sounds good to me. And now I wonder if it's worth adding a section to produce those pheromones. It's a shame we don't have any Orions on board..." T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos smiles, "I'm sure I can manage something. It might not have a wide variety of capabilities, but we know enough about Orions and Regulators to reproduce something similar to their - T'Lana@anncaris:- pheromones, if you want the capability to cause that particular effect." Mischa@crystyl:"I've dealt with them for long enough. Might make a nice change to be the one pulling at mens heartstrings like they do" Mischa@crystyl adds, "Not the /I/ need pheromones for that, of course..." T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos chuckles, "Of course. But having them could come in useful, and it's an extra 'implant' to show up on scans." Mischa@crystyl:"Alright then. Anything else to consider, or are we done?" T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos: "We can add an exoskeleton to your legs for you to run faster and jump higher, but as I understand it, only highly combat-focused Hyrokee tend to use major leg modifications." Mischa@crystyl:"And that would clash with one's outfit" she smiles T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha smirks, "Indeed. And unmodded legs can be useful for...pulling at heartstrings, as you put it. Though there are always those who actually prefer metal ones." Mischa@crystyl:"Seems we're all set then" T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos nods, "Just lie down on one of the beds and I'll get them all assembled. Don't worry, they won't be intrusive, but you also probably don't want to try and take them off outside a medbay. - T'Lana@anncaris:- They have to be convincing as cybernetics, after all." Mischa@crystyl hops on the corner of a nearby bed, "Of course. Don't worry, this is not my first rodeo" T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos steps over and gets to work on Mischa, "We'll have you looking like a Hyrokee in no time." T'Lana@anncaris calls up the Observer in the meantime while Nakos equips Mischa with the 'implants' Mischa@crystyl | Observer strolls in a short time later, looking around T'Lana@anncaris:"Observer. The doctor will be with you soon, as soon as he is finished with Mischa." Mischa@crystyl | Observer approaches Lana, inspecting her new appendages, "An impressive level of work" T'Lana@anncaris nods, raising the arm with the built-in micro-replicator, "Indeed. They are very convincing as false cybernetics." Mischa@crystyl | Observer: "I assume then it is my turn to be outfitted?" T'Lana@anncaris:"Yes, but while we wait for the doctor to complete his work on Mischa, I have news on the virus." Mischa@crystyl | Observer: "Sounds promising" T'Lana@anncaris:"Not as much as I had hoped. The only conclusion we were able to draw is that whoever coded the virus was using multitronic technology. As multitronics has many applications in artificial - T'Lana@anncaris:- intelligence, Vector's suspicion that the creator was an AI is quite likely. It is almost certainly not a Nuhar, as the Nuhar do not make use of multitronics and the virus was made to - T'Lana@anncaris:- target cybernetically augmented individuals, most likely specifically the Hyrokee. The coding is also very different from any known Nuhar viruses." Mischa@crystyl | Observer: "Who else could be behind it then?" T'Lana@anncaris:"That still remains unknown. The closest possible candidate is the EereE Overseer Network, which heavily employs both multitronics and cybernetics. But the Overseer has no interest in expansion - T'Lana@anncaris - and should not have a presence out here, let alone possess any reason to be attacking the Corporations." Mischa@crystyl | Observer: "The Arshai are close enough. Could it be that someone there is contracting to the Corporations? Someone like Mana with that level of expertise?" T'Lana@anncaris shakes her head, "The New World Arshai do not have that knowledge. They wanted nothing to do with the Overseer. The only individual with that knowledge affiliated with the New World is Mana - T'Lana@anncaris - herself, who is currently with the Valley Forge." T'Lana@anncaris:"Mia would also be capable of it, but she has been with us in the Sphere prior to returning to the Valley Forge, and I highly doubt she would be creating viruses for the Corporations even if she - T'Lana@anncaris:- had the time to do so." Mischa@crystyl | Observer: "I doubt either of them would. There is always the strong possibility that the ones responsible are an unknown to us" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "I believe that is the most likely possibility with the information we have at the moment." T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos: "There. You should be all good, Commander." Mischa@crystyl hops off the bed, checking herself out, "Not my most flattering of disguises, but a very good job doctor" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha: "Hey, it's flattering for a Hyrokee. You look much better to me." T'Lana@anncaris:"And that is the effect we desire." Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed, this should be most convincing" T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos looks over to the Observer, "Now, what false cybernetics would you desire? The Fixers have designed most of them with practical capabilities to help you on your mission as well." T'Lana@anncaris | The doctor brings up the same list of choices on the console shown to Mischa Mischa@crystyl | Observer peruses the list, "Hmm... ooh the eyepieces together look like spectacles, I've always thought I'd look good in those! So definitely that one. Hmm... wrist mounted weapon sounds good, I - Mischa@crystyl:- don't really need an exoskeleton for heightened strength after all. Maybe the replicator thing too? Stimulant pack, yep that too" T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos: "Excellent. Just get one of the beds and I'll have all of those attached to you." Mischa@crystyl | Observer smiles and hops on the next empty bed T'Lana@anncaris | Nakos smiles back and steps over, getting to work on her as well. Before long, the Observer is also fully outfitted with her chosen 'cybernetics' T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha smiles, "Looking good! You'll blend in easily with Corporate society." Mischa@crystyl | Observer: "This will be an interesting assignment" Mischa@crystyl smiles, "So we are all set then" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha nods, "I can't tell that your cybernetics aren't actual cyberware from my scanners, at least, and I'm not using cheap optical implants. I'd say you're good to go." T'Lana@anncaris:"Let's check in with the Operations Room. We should be nearing the system now." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Let's go" --- T'Lana@anncaris | Kayan is in the Operations Room as they enter and she glances back at them, "You certainly look Hyrokee now..." Mischa@crystyl smiles, "Glad to hear it" T'Lana@anncaris | Kayan: "We'll be arriving at the system in about 5 minutes. We've already obtained clearance to enter and drop off the Sakyto personnel." Mischa@crystyl:"So we'll be heading down with then" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha nods, "You'll be going as contractors who worked for me at the colony, but since you're not Corporate personnel, you'll be free to go your own way as soon as we transport down. Where - T'Lana@anncaris - you go first is up to you. There's the investigator I mentioned, Takyro Mymasu, who might be interested, but you may also want to get a few side jobs, build up your resume a little." Mischa@crystyl:"What about you?" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha: "That depends on what position I end up getting when we return. Sakyto'll probably demote me, not throw me out entirely. I'll see what I can find for you from the inside of the - T'Lana@anncaris - Corporation as an employee." Mischa@crystyl:"Stay safe and don't hesitate to evacuate back to the ship here if you suspect anything untoward" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha nods and smiles, "Thank you, for being here to assist me." Mischa@crystyl:"Well get to the bottom of this, don't you worry" T'Lana@anncaris | Pilot: "We're entering the system now." T'Lana@anncaris | Kayan: "Feel free to take over a console if you want to get some sensor data on the planet before we beam you down. This is your mission, after all." Mischa@crystyl smiles, "Thank you. Always helpful to get the lay of the land" T'Lana@anncaris steps over as well. As expected, the Corporate homeworld is a flurry of activity, though not quite as busy as Vue-En or Underworld. The majority of ships present are Corporate, using Corporate - T'Lana@anncaris - technology and broadcasting IFFs of their Corporations. There are ships of alien design, but only a portion of them, mostly freighters and other cargo vessels, appear to belong to other - T'Lana@anncaris - civilizations, while the rest also have Corporate IFFs and are likely purchased from other species but now owned by Hyrokee T'Lana@anncaris | As they enter further into the system, sensor data of the planet begin coming in. Most of the world is dominated by massive megacities and huge industrial complexes, with very little of the - T'Lana@anncaris - planet remaining untouched by development, not unlike the bodies of most Hyrokee. As expected, the planet has an extensive defense grid comprised of a network of orbital platforms that can - T'Lana@anncaris - join together to form one massive shield around the world, with each platform having its own weapon node as well T'Lana@anncaris looks back to Ishyha, "Who controls the planetary defense?" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha: "No one. Every Corporation has access to the grid above their headquarters, but no one owns the entire system as a whole." T'Lana@anncaris:"But they are clearly built to link and operate together." T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha nods, "If an external threat presents itself, with the Corporations' permission, the system's programming takes over to shield the entire planet and defend it against the threat, - T'Lana@anncaris:- but only if the Corporations consent, which verifies that it is really an external threat and not a previously unidentified asset." Mischa@crystyl:"A curious way to operate, but I can see how it works for the Corporations" T'Lana@anncaris | Mischa notes that the platforms are built with weapon arrays on both sides, and though the arrays pointing towards the planet are lower power, they seem to be designed to be able to fire down at the - T'Lana@anncaris:- planet as well... Mischa@crystyl points them out, "I assume they are a means of the Corporations keeping each other in check?" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha: "Yes and no. As I said, each Corporation only controls the grid above their own holdings, so these are mostly used for enforcement, to take down individual threats. But in addition to - T'Lana@anncaris - their robot forces, it means invading another Corporation's territory militarily is practically impossible. Even if a Corporation were to manage it though, there's an agreement between all of - T'Lana@anncaris - us we call the Peace. It was created not long after the Government War which declares the homeworld off-limits for any military action. Espionage, assasination, sabotage and such are fine, but - T'Lana@anncaris:- if a Corporation launches military action on the homeworld, they'll be declared a threat to Corporate society. Ever since the new defense grid came into place, that means it would activate and - T'Lana@anncaris:- target all personnel and military assets belonging to that Corporation." Mischa@crystyl:"Mutually assured destruction, with a Corporate twist" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha: "Well, it doesn't destroy all of us, but it is assured to wipe the offending Corporation from the planet. It's never happened over the course of our history though, no one's stupid - T'Lana@anncaris:- enough to violate the Peace. We may not play nice with each other, but everyone knows the Corporations are serious about upholding it. If one does launch a military action on the homeworld, - T'Lana@anncaris:- they're done for, and our dislike of monopoly means no one Corporation has the strength to overpower all the others even if it wanted to." Mischa@crystyl:"It makes a certain Corporate sense" she smiles T'Lana@anncaris:"You say this defense grid is 'new.' How new is it precisely?" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha: "It was built...forty years ago or so, I believe. Before my time, but after the robots started coming into use. We had a different grid before then, but it was getting dated." T'Lana@anncaris | Kayan: "We're entering transporter range of the planet." T'Lana@anncaris:"I believe this is all the information of note we can discern from ship scanners at the moment." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Let's get underway" T'Lana@anncaris | The team, now with Avita who wasn't with them for the fake cybernetics fitting due to having real ones, beam down to a transporter room on the planet, where Ishyha and a few of the Hyrokee who - T'Lana@anncaris - came in the previous transport awaits them T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha: "As I thought, the executives want to speak with me. I suppose this is where we part ways for the time being." Mischa@crystyl:"Good luck, and remember what I said" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha nods and hands Mischa a PADD, "Here's the investigator's office, and a few jobs you and your team might be good for. I've added you as contractors on the colony, so you won't be - T'Lana@anncaris - starting out entirely from scratch. Good luck to you as well, and I'll contact you if I learn anything." Mischa@crystyl:"We'll speak again soon" T'Lana@anncaris | Ishyha: "Until then." She turns and heads further into the building Mischa@crystyl turns to the others, "Alright. How about we split up and take a couple of jobs while getting this investigator moving?" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Shall we form into teams of two, or work independently?" Mischa@crystyl:"I think pairs works for the time being" T'Lana@anncaris:"I can take the Observer, and you with Avita. I believe our skills are most evenly distributed this way." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Sounds good. We'll head for the investigator then" T'Lana@anncaris:"Excellent. We shall proceed, then." T'Lana@anncaris | The team heads off the other way, out of the Corporate building and into the city beyond... T'Lana@anncaris FX | https://i.imgur.com/fMHBi02.jpg --- B'Atar@anncaris | Mischa and Avita make their way through the city, calling a taxi hovercar which takes them to their destination- the building housing the office of the investigator they seek Mischa@crystyl scopes the place out before heading in B'Atar@anncaris | Despite being a famed investigator, the building does not look to be much. Inside, they find a receptionist like that of most Corporate buildings, but the lobby is much smaller less grand than - B'Atar@anncaris - those belonging to Corporations, and signs of wear and tear are visible all over. The receptionist looks up from her seat curiously as they enter, "You don't look like Corporate elite." Mischa@crystyl approaches, "I don't recall saying that we were" B'Atar@anncaris | Receptionist: "That's what most of our clientele are these days, ever since Master Takyro became famous for rooting out spies and conspiracies." Mischa@crystyl looks around, "So this /is/ Takyro's office? Looks can indeed be deceiving, can't they" B'Atar@anncaris | Receptionist: "Yes, he can afford a much larger place with the cases he solves now, but he prefers to stay here. I don't mind, but he's certainly an odd one. Maybe that's why he's so good at - B'Atar@anncaris:- what he does. Sees things like no Corporate employee ever does." Mischa@crystyl smirks a little, "So, you're on a sales commission too now?" B'Atar@anncaris | Receptionist: "Corporate elite pay well. But Master Takyro doesn't accept his cases based on pay alone. I take it you found something interesting for him?" Mischa@crystyl:"You could say that. But I'm more interested to know if he's already investigating if his reputation is to be believed" B'Atar@anncaris | Receptionist: "He's not on a case yet, but someone who does look like Corporate elite just went in not long ago. He's still speaking with her now." Mischa@crystyl:"Oh? Interesting..." B'Atar@anncaris | Receptionist: "She looked like she had a case for him, but it still remains to be seen whether he accepts it..." Mischa@crystyl:"Well, we shall see then" B'Atar@anncaris | There is the sound of a woman's raised voice, followed by a door closing. A well-dressed woman with heavy cybernetic modification storms out, followed by a male cyborg clearly geared for - B'Atar@anncaris:- combat and two robots B'Atar@anncaris | Receptionist: "I guess that's a no." Mischa@crystyl watches them depart, "It would seem so" B'Atar@anncaris | Receptionist: "He's signalling that you're welcome to enter. Go on ahead." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Thank you" heading on in where the woman came out from B'Atar@anncaris | The door to the office is marked with a dim holographic sign, and it slides open as the two approach. Inside, the office seems as humble as the building it is in, though it possesses all the - B'Atar@anncaris - amenities once needs in such a space, including a long and comfy-looking couch that looks visibly nicer than the rest of the room B'Atar@anncaris | Behind a desk sits a middle-aged Hyrokee male of rather average build and stature, with cybernetic eyes and visible cybernetic hands Mischa@crystyl looks him over as she approaches, "So what, last one wasn't interesting enough? Looked like the sort to pay well enough" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro looks up at Mischa, "That she does, and like all Corporate types, she thinks her money can buy anything. In her case, there really wasn't much of a case." Mischa@crystyl:"Word is you prefer the more interesting cases than the paycheck attached to them" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro: "You can't always listen to rumours, but in this case, it's true." Mischa@crystyl:"I find them entertaining normally, if nothing else" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro: "And sometimes, if you trace them to their source, there is something useful there. Please, make yourselves comfortable," he motions to the couch. "Refreshments?" Mischa@crystyl:"Why thank you, such a gracious host" she smiles, making herself comfy B'Atar@anncaris | Avita steps over and takes a seat while Takyro replicates some drinks, bringing it over to them before sitting down himself, "So, I take it you have a case for me?" Mischa@crystyl:"I'm looking into something that is starting to look a little on the big side. Given your reputation, I figure you must already be working on it too" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro: "There's a few big things going on, perhaps connected, perhaps not. What is it you're looking into?" Mischa@crystyl:"The recent breakaway from the Coalition and allied forces" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro nods, "Yes, I know what you're talking about. It's...unusual for the Corporations to act together in such a fashion, to say the least. I've been looking into it, but no one has come to - B'Atar@anncaris:- me yet with a formal case. It seems all the Corporations involved are content with things being as they are." Mischa@crystyl:"And that isn't right. It doesn't matter which way you project their conflicts and future, all the favourable models show it would be best to keep them on side" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro nods, "It's not like them to turn away from a profitable venture. I checked around, but I can't think of who might benefit from such an action, or who would even have the power to - B'Atar@anncaris:- sway so many Corporations. It has the makings of a grand conspiracy, but there's no motive nor evidence." Mischa@crystyl:"Just because something isn't visible, doesn't mean it isn't there" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro: "It just means whoever is behind it is very good at covering their tracks. There's no way the Corporations all came to this decision on their own." Mischa@crystyl:"Then I am interested to hear the analysis of the great Takyro" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro: "I've been noticing something amiss ever since I began working on Corporate conspiracies and mysteries. A fact that doesn't line up here, a loose end there. Pieces that don't fit in - B'Atar@anncaris:- the puzzle, or a puzzle clear enough to see the picture, but still missing one elusive piece. Many of those are no doubt false leads and dead ends, but I've been in this business too long to be - B'Atar@anncaris:- satisfied with the simple answers. I think there's someone or something- a Corporation, an organization, I'm not sure what, that's been pulling the strings of the entire Corporate society." Mischa@crystyl:"So how do you explain that? And what are you going to do about it?" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro: "I've been secretly trying to find connections between these missing pieces, finding connections, but as I said, whoever is behind this is good. Very good. None of it makes sense. - B'Atar@anncaris:- Sometimes they seem to be a benefactor for one Corporation, other times it seems like they're pulling strings to sabotage another, and there's no relation in their work. No connection to a - B'Atar@anncaris:- specific industry, no central Corporation in common. And it's always very, very intricate, so minute that even if it were noticed, it can almost always be chalked up to coincidence or another - B'Atar@anncaris:- more sensible explanation. And maybe they are just coincidences or have mundane reasons and I'm just chasing ghosts, but if anyone does have the power to influence all the Corporations like this, - B'Atar@anncaris:- it's those puppetmasters. The problem is, they've never made a move so big before and I can't think of any reason why they would." Mischa@crystyl:"I couldn't agree more. So let's get to the bottom of this" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro nods, "I've never been able to figure out their motivations, but something so drastic like this certainly doesn't fit them. Cutting off business with the Coalition doesn't make sense, - B'Atar@anncaris:- but then again, neither are any of the other actions I've attributed to the puppetmasters. The only thing I know for sure is that they're good at working unseen and pulling the strings gently, - B'Atar@anncaris:- but if this is their doing, it's hardly as subtle as they usually operate. Which means this wasn't being planned over a long time and a more impulsive move, something we might be able to use to - B'Atar@anncaris:- finally track them down." Mischa@crystyl:"The fact that it is such a different move, could it be a new player?" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro: "Hmm...that is possible, but a new player could not have the resources to sway all the Corporations like this. Either there was a change of direction within the puppetmasters, or the - B'Atar@anncaris:- new player has somehow deposed the old puppetmaster but retained their network." Mischa@crystyl:"Such things are... not unheard of. I suspect. And with the right means... Say like a virus designed specifically to target cybernetics and influence mental faculties" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro narrows his cybernetic eyes, "That's a very specific idea..." Mischa@crystyl takes a nonchalant sip of her drink, "Oh, so... it's not common knowledge then? I apologize, I expected a man of your reputation to have his finger tighter on the pulse" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro: "No, it's not. Cyber-viruses that shut down your cyberware or cause them to malfunction are heard of, but influencing mental faculties?" Mischa@crystyl:"Certainly does sound like the kind of thing that could be used in a coup such as this, doesn't it?" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro nods, "That it does. Is this pure speculation, or do you have evidence of a virus that can do such a thing?" Mischa@crystyl:"Even if there is evidence, it would be fair to say that it is circumstantial at best right now" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro: "That's true. Let's focus on the puppetmasters themselves, or this new player who may or may not have replaced them. If they make a move to influence all Corporations to cut ties with - B'Atar@anncaris:- the Coalition, there must be a good reason. It doesn't benefit anyone's business, so the only reason I can think of is that whoever is behind this don't want the Coalition to do well in this war - B'Atar@anncaris:- they're fighting. So they either support the other side, or were sent by them." Mischa@crystyl:"That seems a reasonable deduction. So, how does a top investigator go about rooting out the puppetmasters at the highest echelons of Corporate society then?â€ B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro: "I need a reason to investigate without tipping them off. Which means I need to seem like I'm investigating a different case. Perhaps a case that I know likely won't amount to - B'Atar@anncaris:- anything, but will give me an excuse to root around...like the one I just turned down," he smiles Mischa@crystyl perks a brow, "That woman did seem rather... disappointed when she left" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro: "I'll speak with her, accept her case as a cover for what I'm really looking into. In the meantime...you seem like you may be quite capable investigators yourselves, with the - B'Atar@anncaris:- information you're presenting me. And I suppose you're as interested in looking into this as I am?" Mischa@crystyl:"Exactly. So, partners?" B'Atar@anncaris | Takyro smiles, "Partners it is then. But it would rouse suspicion if all three of us started showing up to Corporate Headquarter buildings. While I take this case and see what I can find from - B'Atar@anncaris:- the top, why don't you learn what you can about these enemies the Coalition is at war with, and whether any of them might have slipped in here? There's a record of all incoming and outgoing ships - B'Atar@anncaris:- and sensor data on them stored at the mainframe for the defense grid. If you can access them, it'll confirm if we're dealing with who we think we're dealing with, and maybe give us means to track - B'Atar@anncaris:- their movements or at least a place to start with where they arrived when they came here." Mischa@crystyl:"Sounds like a plan" --- T'Lana@anncaris | Meanwhile elsewhere on the planet, T'Lana and the Observer's hovercab stops in a small clearing in the midst of a dense city of neon lights and towering skyscrapers T'Lana@anncaris looks around, "The Corporate building is still a block away. Why have we set down here?" T'Lana@anncaris | The cab replies in a monotone robotic voice: "The airspace around the Arisakee Technologies building is a no-fly zone. Only craft with designated permits may enter." Rianni@crystyl:"Well that's inconvenient" T'Lana@anncaris glances at the Observer before climbing out of the cab, "It seems we will have to travel the rest of the way on foot." Rianni@crystyl:"I suppose it wouldn't hurt to get the lay of the land" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Indeed. Given the observation skills you demonstrated at the colony, it may be prudent for you to be the primary source of communication with our contract-givers. You may be able to - T'Lana@anncaris:- pass more naturally as one of their own, not to mention your prior interaction with them when searching for the ancient Guardian relics." Rianni@crystyl nods, "Understood. I will do my best" T'Lana@anncaris leads the way onwards through the streets. Many of the Hyrokee walking the streets seem quiet different from the well-dressed, heavily augmented Hyrokee they came with. Most of them still sport - T'Lana@anncaris - cybernetics, but some to a much lesser extent, with most of their natural features still visible. Many of the cybernetics here also seem to be more practical than stylistic Rianni@crystyl takes it all in, "We appear to have set ourselves in good stead" T'Lana@anncaris | The two pass by a store with a bright neon sign advertising text which translates to 'Maryno's Cyber Emporium,' with a smaller subtext of 'Subsidiary of Arisakee Technologies.' Peering in, the - T'Lana@anncaris - cybernetic sold within certainly line up with the practical style seen in the district T'Lana@anncaris:"It would seem so. Hopefully, this will not draw too much attention to us." Rianni@crystyl:"If it does, we shall just have to play to it" T'Lana@anncaris | As they move on, they notice four rough-looking Hyrokee, equipped with practical implants but clearly ones geared for combat, and all bearing pistols and blades on them. As the two - T'Lana@anncaris:- draw nearer however, the Observer picks up one of them muttering, "Come on, let's not get our gennas handed to us by pros," and quickly disperse, moving in directions away from the group Rianni@crystyl:"Standing out like we are may even be advantageous in this area" she notes in response to what she just saw T'Lana@anncaris:"Indeed. This is the Governor's home after all. She must have recommended we disguise ourselves this way for good reason." Rianni@crystyl:"We must have done a really good job of getting her on side if so" T'Lana@anncaris:"We did promise to restore or even elevate her standing. That is what most people in Corporate society are after, from my understanding." T'Lana@anncaris | The closer they come to the Corporate building, the nicer their surroundings become. In these areas, the cybernetics of the residents become fancier along with the structures and decor of the - T'Lana@anncaris:- streets. Their clothes and cybernetics both seem more fashionable, and there it is clear that their approach to cybernetics is the same as their approach to dress T'Lana@anncaris | The two pass by a structure with a large entrance and a number of well-dressed Hyrokee making their way in. A nearby hologram of a heavily modified Hyrokee female advertises T'Lana@anncaris | Hologram: "Come one, come all! Come see the Mad Claw. The alien sensation that gripped our arenas is back and even better!" Rianni@crystyl watches curiously T'Lana@anncaris | The hologram changes to that of a heavily scarred Lupan with a number of cybernetics. As the projection of the Lupan leans forward and roars, long, dagger-like claws extend from cybernetic - T'Lana@anncaris:- arms, and the hologram makes a flurry of swipes with them before it changes back to the Hyrokee female T'Lana@anncaris | Hologram: "Don't miss your chance to watch the Mad Claw live in the arena! Tickets starting at twenty-five Points!" Rianni@crystyl:"Figures that a Lupan would have those cybernetically upgraded" T'Lana@anncaris:"And seek to fight in what sounds like a combat arena. I suppose with Zihil closed down, they are now seeking other places to compete." Rianni@crystyl:"A good point" T'Lana@anncaris | As the advertisement holo repeats itself, they proceed forward, continuing to the Corporate building T'Lana@anncaris | Holograms or large screens advertising products become more and more common in the better-off region, with many of them advertising Arisakee Technologies products or stores that are its - T'Lana@anncaris:- subsidiaries like the emporium seem before. Before long, they begin to near the headquarters building itself, not a single tower but a massive complex with a combination of lower buildings and - T'Lana@anncaris:- tall skyscrapers bearing the logo of the corporation. Here, the buildings are much more spread out and the presence of lower buildings allows plenty of sunlight into the Corporate complex T'Lana@anncaris | Strolling through the Corporate complex is almost like travelling in another world. It also feels like the middle of a Federation city, with the abundance of sunlight here allowing for the - T'Lana@anncaris - growth of gardens in the large spaces between the buildings T'Lana@anncaris FX | https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EdoH65iXkAANGWU.jpg:large T'Lana@anncaris | Strolling into the central building, they are once again greeted by a lobby with a reception desk, this one even fancier than those seen in the colonies T'Lana@anncaris | Receptionist: "How can I help you?" Rianni@crystyl steps over, "We are here for the job" T'Lana@anncaris | Receptionist: "Ah, contractors, then. Follow the bot, it'll lead the way." The receptionist taps his computer and one of the guard robots in the room promptly moves towards the lifts beyond - T'Lana@anncaris - the lobby, plugging into a port and calling a lift down Rianni@crystyl nods and follows the bot T'Lana@anncaris | The lift opens and they step inside, with the bot following them in. The lift moves up for a short while before opening, with the robot stepping out and leading on once again T'Lana@anncaris | The bot leads them to a door, plugging in and opening it. Inside is an office room with a window showing the city beyond. From the window, it is quite clear that they are fairly high up, - T'Lana@anncaris - but even from this altitude, there seems to be no end to the skyline T'Lana@anncaris | Behind a desk sits a Hyrokee male in a crisp-looking suit and with an extensive array of cybernetics T'Lana@anncaris | Suit: "Come in." Rianni@crystyl steps over, "Thank you. We are here for the job" T'Lana@anncaris | Suit: "I was informed." He takes a sip from a glass on his table. "The two of you seem equipped with some decent cyberware, and you look like you know what you're doing. Have you been working - T'Lana@anncaris - together long?" Rianni@crystyl:"On and off for some time now" T'Lana@anncaris | Suit: "Good." He takes out a PADD and slides it across the table, "Here's the contract, including of course a non-disclosure agreement. The pay for this job is 500 Points upon completion. I'll - T'Lana@anncaris - give you the full details once you've signed, but know that you'll be working against Kynmee Industries. If you think you're cut out for that, then sign and we can proceed." Rianni@crystyl shrugs, "The whole reason we work freelance is because we owe no allegiance to any one Corporation. It's better this way" she skims over the document, signing if nothing untoward jumps out T'Lana@anncaris | Nothing untoward jumps out at her! T'Lana@anncaris | The suit takes back the PADD after it is signed and continues, "Kynmee recently...acquired a special personal shield from an alien civilization, one known as the Forli Worlds. Unlike - T'Lana@anncaris:- conventional shield technology it does not entirely cover the user's body but projects a single force field to parry any hits that impact the shield. It is, by every other measure, inferior to - T'Lana@anncaris:- the shields we use now but for one attribute- it has the ability to reflect enemy fire." Rianni@crystyl:"A technology which would be far more beneficial to your customer base than theirs. Got it" T'Lana@anncaris | The suit takes another sip of his drink and smiles, "Exactly. You have plenty of options on this mission. Arisakee wants the technology, but it doesn't matter what happens to Kynmee. I doubt - T'Lana@anncaris:- you'll be able to wipe all their research, they'll have plenty of backups, but it doesn't matter. We have a better R&D department anyways, so we can outpace them. I need either a copy of their - T'Lana@anncaris:- research data or one of the original samples they acquired. If you can get both, I'll throw in a little bonus." Rianni@crystyl smiles, "We like little bonuses" T'Lana@anncaris | Suit: "Excellent. How you steal the data is of course up to you. It goes without saying that no one can know Arisakee is behind it, but other than that, as long we we get the technology and - T'Lana@anncaris:- can't be implicated, the details are at your discretion." Rianni@crystyl:"Sounds simple enough" T'Lana@anncaris | Suit nods, "Any questions?" Rianni@crystyl:"I assume the final delivery is to be made back here?" T'Lana@anncaris | Suit: "That's right. Return to this building and make sure you aren't being followed." Rianni@crystyl:"And do you have any deadline to meet, besides getting your product out before they do?" T'Lana@anncaris | Suit: "No, as long as you don't take too long and they get their product out already." Rianni@crystyl nods, "Got it. I think that's all I need. You?" she looks to TL T'Lana@anncaris nods, "I believe we have enough information to proceed." Rianni@crystyl:"Then we shall take no more of your time and speak again once we return" she nods back to the suit T'Lana@anncaris | The suit nods, "Good luck with the contract. I look forward to hearing back from you." Rianni@crystyl turns and heads out T'Lana@anncaris | The two make their way out of the building and into the Corporate complex outside before T'Lana activates her comm, "T'Lana to Mischa. We have accepted a contract. How is progress on your end?" Rianni@crystyl | <C-Mischa> Good. We have entered a partnership with the investigator and area currently moving to scour recent sensor data for anomalous arrivals. You?" T'Lana@anncaris:<C> We have not yet made any progress on the reason for our visit, but we have learned more of Hyrokee society, and completing these jobs will likely aid in our efforts to blend in. Do you wish for - T'Lana@anncaris:- us to reconvene and assist you with the sensor data, or shall we begin work on this contract we have accepted?" Rianni@crystyl | <C-Mischa> No, continue with your work for now. We'll let you know if we end up needing a hand here T'Lana@anncaris:<C> Understood. We will proceed with the contract work Rianni@crystyl | <C-Mischa> Good luck T'Lana@anncaris:<C> To you as well, Commander T'Lana@anncaris looks to Observer, "Let us scout out the Kynmee complex and plan our way in." Rianni@crystyl nods and follows --- NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile, Mischa and Avita proceed via another holocab to the defense grid mainframe, located among the industrial sprawl outside the residential areas of the cities. Their cab touches down - NPC@annpc#557 - outside a building that looks unusually out of place among the industrial surroundings, feeling like something that would fit much better in a Corporate complex. There are a few other - NPC@annpc#557 - hovercars parked in the lot, and large doors that open out into a lobby Mischa@crystyl gets rid of the cab and then begins casually strolling around the area while they size it up, "What do you think?" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita: "Looks like a reception area, but no Corporation owns the entire defense grid so...who runs this?" Mischa@crystyl:"A good question. Given what we know, perhaps it is entirely automated" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita nods, "That's certainly a possibility. Shall we enter and see what we find?" Mischa@crystyl:"As good a plan as any" she nods, heading to the entrance NPC@annpc#557 | The pair walk in to a large, open lobby. There is no sign of a reception desk, but as they stroll further inside, a hologram of a male Hyrokee appears by them and walks over NPC@annpc#557 | Hologram: "Hello, and welcome to the Defense Grid Mainframe. How may I help you today?" Mischa@crystyl:"We need to collect census data from the mainframe" NPC@annpc#557 | Hologram: "Which Corporation do you represent?" Mischa@crystyl:"None, and all of them. This is an commissioned independent survey to measure Corporate usage of mainframe assets and ascertain proportional taxation for maintenance costs" NPC@annpc#557 | Hologram: "You are contractors, then. Please present your resumes." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Of course" pulling out her resume chip and offering it forward NPC@annpc#557 | Avita does the same, and the hologram takes them both NPC@annpc#557 | Hologram: "Processing. You have been granted: 8 HOURS of access to mainframe data." The hologram returns the chips, "Please vacate the premises before your time expires to avoid any incidents - NPC@annpc#557 - with the automated defenses. You may proceed." Mischa@crystyl:"This is the first contract we've had in this complex. Could you please direct us to the most convenient work area?" NPC@annpc#557 | Hologram: "Follow me." The hologram turns and leads the way further into the complex Mischa@crystyl smiles to herself and follows NPC@annpc#557 | The hologram leads them to a large area with a number of consoles which resembles a control room, but with only a single individual in sight, a Hyrokee in a Corporate uniform tapping away at - NPC@annpc#557 - one of the consoles NPC@annpc#557 | Hologram: "Here is the most convenient access point for the defense grid data." Mischa@crystyl looks around, "This area is not private" NPC@annpc#557 | Hologram: "You require a private work area? Very well, there is another access node you may utilize." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Very good. You understand of course that we must safeguard the sensitive nature of this data" NPC@annpc#557 | The hologram promptly turns and begins back down the hallway they came in NPC@annpc#557 | The hologram leads the way to a small, enclosed workspace lined with consoles, "Will this suffice?" Mischa@crystyl:"As long as we can access all the required data, yes" NPC@annpc#557 | Hologram: "This access point has identical functionality to the previous one. It is simply more condensed." Mischa@crystyl:"That assumes the last one had sufficient access as well. If there are any limitations, best you tell us now" NPC@annpc#557 | Hologram: "Any and all data collected by the defense grid, both pertaining to the functionality of the grid itself and all external sensor logs can be accessed from this point. No control over - NPC@annpc#557 - any defense grid systems will be accessible." Mischa@crystyl:"Of course. Very well then. Do you require us to sign out with you when we leave, or just simply be gone by the allotted time?" NPC@annpc#557 | Hologram: "The building's sensors will register when you depart. Please note your allotted time and leave the facility before it is over, for your safety." Mischa@crystyl:"Understood, thank you" NPC@annpc#557 | The hologram nods, "Have a productive visit," then promptly deactivates, leaving Mischa and Avita alone in the room Mischa@crystyl looks around while scanning for any monitoring equipment NPC@annpc#557 | There are sensors in the room which seem to go through the entire structure, like the internal sensors of a starship, but no active cameras or monitoring specific to the room Mischa@crystyl looks to Avita, "Alright, shall we get to work then?" she smiles, heading for a console NPC@annpc#557 | Avita nods, stepping up to a console as well, "Let's get started. There must be a lot of sensor logs to look through..." Mischa@crystyl:"No doubt. We should be able to reasonably narrow the timeframe we're looking at for starters" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita: "Given when the Corporations began cutting ties, the Horde must have arrived four weeks ago. Looking between four to five weeks is probably the most likely timeframe." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Let's start with that and see how much we are left with" NPC@annpc#557 | Even with a narrowed timeframe, the search takes a very long time due to the high volume of traffic around the planet. There is no obvious candidates for Horde vessels in the searches NPC@annpc#557 | Avita: "Maybe we need to start looking at lifesigns in the Corporate ships. It'll take a long time, but it's not hard to imagine the Horde taking control of a Corporate ship for unimpeded - NPC@annpc#557 - travel to the planet." Mischa@crystyl:"Agreed. You make a start with the sweep, I'll see if I can narrow your search or at least prioritize it based on flight plans" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita nods and gets to work. By organizing flight plans, Mischa is able to identify Corporate ships whose routes took them close to Horde territory or returning from a general rimward - NPC@annpc#557 - direction, which should help eliminate over half the Corporate ships being looked at Mischa@crystyl:"Here, flagging another one for you. I'll toss them up as I find any that fit the criteria" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita: "Thank you. There is a lot of sensor data to look through." Mischa@crystyl:"Shame we don't have Mia or Vector with us. They'd make light work of this. Probably enjoy it too" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita: "Perhaps we should've brought him along. But after what happened on the Corporate ship...it might not be the best idea." Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed. This is sufferable, but safe" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita nods, "The additional work is worth not potentially losing a team member, or having them turn on us." Mischa@crystyl:"Exactly" NPC@annpc#557 | The two search through the sensor logs for over an hour before Avita finally pipes up, "I found something." Mischa@crystyl moves over to join her, "Let's see" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita pulls up the scan data of a very ordinary-looking Corporate transport, "The lifesigns of this transport are more diverse than usual, and the overall number exceeds the listed number of - NPC@annpc#557 - crew. And on top of that, one type of lifesign on board match a known Guardian species, and the Guardians primarily come from civilizations consumed by the Horde." NPC@annpc#557 | Avita: "I think this was the ship the Horde used to reach this world." Mischa@crystyl:"Good find! Now let's see what we can learn about this ship and it's crew from here" NPC@annpc#557 | Mischa finds that the ship is registered to Mitarune Corporation. There is no specifics on its crew, as she can only access the defense grid's data from here, but she can view a full history - NPC@annpc#557 - of the ship's presence. Upon first arrival, the ship beamed down seven individuals to various different parts of the planet, subsequently followed by a transport of 5 near the Mitarune - NPC@annpc#557 - Headquarters, a transport of 5 to the Kymura Headquarters, then a single transport. The last transport is the only one where a non-Hyrokee was beamed down, but strangely the data on the - NPC@annpc#557:- destination of that transport is corrupted and unreadable. Then there is no transport from the ship for roughly a week before it seems to have undergone a full crew rotation about three weeks ago - NPC@annpc#557:- before promptly setting back out again NPC@annpc#557 | All the lifesigns previously on the ship were beamed to the complex of Kymura Industries, and new personnel were beamed up from the Mitarune complex Mischa@crystyl:"Corrupt data on the one non-Hyrokee beam down. Nothing suspicious about that..." NPC@annpc#557 | Avita: "Certainly not out of place. Let me see what I can recover from it..." NPC@annpc#557 | Avita taps away at her console before shaking her head, "All that's remaining is that the transport was to the planet's southern hemisphere. Not very helpful." Mischa@crystyl:"Perhaps we can track it from elsewhere" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita nods, "Another sensor may have picked it up." Mischa@crystyl:"Well we can try and get more data here, but it feels like we've got all we're going to now" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita: "Indeed. Should I download all relevant data?" Mischa@crystyl nods, "Go for it" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita nods and downloads the data onto an isolinear chip, "That's everything. Time to go?" --- NPC@annpc#557 | Mischa and Avita exit the facility, returning to their hovercab NPC@annpc#557 | Avita: "Where to next, Commander?" Mischa@crystyl:"We should probably head back to the office. See how our partner is getting along" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita: "Good thinking," She taps on the hovercab's interface, which lifts off back towards the office. They travel across the industrial landscape and as the city skyline comes into view once - NPC@annpc#557 - again, the sun begins to set over the horizon, accentuating the bright neon lights and holographic decor of the city NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ecj_CwdXkAEcwgM.jpg NPC@annpc#557 | The cab is already making its way through the city when Mischa's comm sounds Mischa@crystyl taps it NPC@annpc#557 <C - T'Lana> Commander. I report success on our first contract. We are returning to the Arisakee Headquarters to turn it in now. Mischa@crystyl:<C> Excellent work. We have also made good progress and are heading back to the office now NPC@annpc#557:<C - Tâ€™Lana> Shall we work on furthering our local reputation some more, or meet you at the office once we have received the reward for this one? Mischa@crystyl:<C> Keep working for now. Until our new partner proves trustworthy I'd rather keep you two in reserve in case we need backup NPC@annpc#557:<C - T'Lana> Understood. We will wrap up this contract and begin working on the next one I have identified as - NPC@annpc#557 | Avita: "Commander, watch out!" NPC@annpc#557 | Before either of them has time to react, a shuttle slams into the side of their hovercab, sending it careening out of control from the sky. Fortunately, they do not fall far, but the vehicle - NPC@annpc#557:- impacts hard on a nearby rooftop Mischa@crystyl stirs with a groan, first checking her surroundings for continuing threats, then herself for injury, then Avita NPC@annpc#557 | Mischa feels a bruise on the back of her head and a sharp pain in her left arm. The impact leaves her dazed and smoke rises from their damaged hovercab, but through it Mischa manages to make - NPC@annpc#557 - out the form of the shuttle that hit them as it pulls up to the roof, hovering above it as a door opens to the side and a female figure leaps down onto the rooftop, walking over towards them NPC@annpc#557 | Avita appears to be well and draws a pistol, firing on the figure. However, the figure dodges the shots with superhuman speed. Mischa isn't sure whether she has a concussion, but she can - NPC@annpc#557 - see that the approaching figure seems to leave a strange, shadow-like effect in her wake as she dodges the shots NPC@annpc#557 | The enemy figure raises a hand and long, needle-like projectiles begin flying towards the two... Mischa@crystyl ducks, pulling Avita down as well, "My arm is injured, I will not be able to aim" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita, "I'm fit for battle and can engage the enemy. Whoever she is, I'm not reading a lifesign, so there could be more of them inside the shuttle." Mischa@crystyl:"She is using some sort of agility enhancement. Be mindful of your sense" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita nods, "Watch my back, in case there are any others." Mischa@crystyl:"I'll do what I can, but I'm no sharpshooter with this arm compromised" NPC@annpc#557 | Avita emerges from behind the cover of the wrecked hovercab, hurling her boomerang bat'leth. The approaching figure dodges the strike with ease, once again showing a strange shadow effect. The - NPC@annpc#557 - weapon returns to Avita's hand and extends its full length as she swipes it towards the unknown attacker. Instead of dodging however, the attacker raises a hand, which seems to wrap around the - NPC@annpc#557 - blade before solidifying. Having learned from her fight with the Security Chief, Avita lets go of the blade instead of being pulled along NPC@annpc#557 | The figure swings the strange, fist-encased blade at Avita and she dodges, extending her wrist blades. She parries the bat'leth with one and tries to strike with the other, but suddenly the - NPC@annpc#557 - enemy's other hand transforms into a tendril of some sort, hooking around the cybernetic attachment and holding Avita in place NPC@annpc#557 | Before Avita has a chance to dislodge the other blade from the bat'leth, the figure unleashes a powerful kick, tearing off Avita's cybernetic blade caught in the tendril as the cyborg Klingon - NPC@annpc#557 - herself is sent flying back with a grunt. The isolinear chip containing the data they retrieved falls from her, landing on the ground between the two NPC@annpc#557 | The enemy figure drops the severed cybernetic blade, approaching Avita slowly and menacingly. As she passes by, Mischa notices the spikes she shot at the hovercar dislodging and flying back - NPC@annpc#557 - at the figure, where they seem to...join with her body NPC@annpc#557 | The figure looks down at the chip as she advances towards Avita, casually crushing it under a tall boot. Avita predicts this and draws her pistol, firing at where the figure would have to stop - NPC@annpc#557 - in order to destroy the chip. The bolt flies right at the figure's head...before the head stretches open to the side, forming a ring through which the shot harmlessly passes Mischa@crystyl does her best through all of this to steady her aim and take any shot of opportunity. Particularly catching her in a crossfire with Avita's shots NPC@annpc#557 | Mischa's shot catches the figure unaware, hitting her in the shoulder. She doesn't stagger, but a chunk seems to disappear from her shoulder as if vapourized away, though it leaves no scorch - NPC@annpc#557 - marks on the surrounding flesh, if it even is flesh. The figure's face quickly reforms as her other hand forms into a tendril once more, snatching Avita's pistol from her grasp and turning it - NPC@annpc#557 - towards Mischa's direction as she fires with a scowl Mischa@crystyl expected as much and is already ducking back into cover NPC@annpc#557 | As she focuses on Mischa, Avita leaps up and tries to strike the figure from behind with her remaining cybernetic blade, but the figure's arm bends backwards, parrying it with the bat'leth she - NPC@annpc#557 - seized before her features reposition itself the other way and it is suddenly facing Avita again. Avita remotely collapses the bat'leth around the figure's 'hand' as she brings it around for - NPC@annpc#557 - another swipe, causing it to miss, but the move which would have crushed any normal enemy's hand does nothing as it simply passes through the hand NPC@annpc#557 | Avita attempts to counterattack with her blade, slashing into the figure's wounded shoulder, but the shoulder suddenly reforms, catching the blade again as the figure first headbutts then - NPC@annpc#557 - pistol whips Avita before tearing the second blade off with an unnatural jerk of its torso NPC@annpc#557 | As Avita drops to the ground unconscious, the figure turns slowly with the pistol in hand, searching for Mischa... Mischa@crystyl remains in cover, ready to move and defend herself but otherwise avoiding a fight she can't hope to sustain in her present condition NPC@annpc#557 | The figure doesn't waste any shots with Mischa in cover, but seems to know her location as she slowly strides towards her... NPC@annpc#557 ...when transporter signals appear around her and T'Lana and the Observer materialize! NPC@annpc#557 | The figure opens fire immediately, forcing the two into cover NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "Commander. Are you injured?" Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, but I'll live" she calls back, laying down covering fire for the two NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana lays down covering fire as well, though clearly more focused on the readouts coming in her facial 'implant' and simply firing to keep the enemy at bay NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "This is not a Hyrokee cyborg. I believe this being consists of a swarm of nanobots." Mischa@crystyl:"I noticed..." Mischa@crystyl | The Observer meanwhile does what she can to keep the enemy at bay, searching for environmental hazards that might help NPC@annpc#557 | As they fire, T'Lana unhooks an EMP grenade and tosses it over their cover. It lands at the feet of the nano-being, who simply steps on it. Its foot encases the grenade, which simply doesn't - NPC@annpc#557 - go off NPC@annpc#557 | The Observer spots a conduit which can be shot to explode between the advancing nano-being and the team's cover... Mischa@crystyl | Observer bides her time, drawing the non-being in before hitting the conduit hard NPC@annpc#557 | The conduit explodes, the explosion washing over the nano-being. As it emerges from the fire, half of its surface has been burned away, including the 'hand' holding Avita's boomerang-bat'leth, - NPC@annpc#557 - which clatters to the ground before returning to her. Underneath the nanites, it seems the being is not entirely empty but consists of a basic skeletal structure. The now exposed right arm and - NPC@annpc#557 - leg seem to resemble an organic skeleton, only metallic. Where the ribcage would be on a person however, there is a chunk of metal with blinking lights that look suspiciously like a core, - NPC@annpc#557 - albeit a heavily armoured one... Mischa@crystyl & the Observer seem to share a thought as they both concentrate fire on the core NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana also focuses fire on the core. The nano-being stops in its tracks, redirecting its remaining nanites around the core, but the concentrated shots burn through the layers of nanites until - NPC@annpc#557 - the being finally drops onto its knees, then collapses completely, a fluid of some description trickling down from the penetrated core Mischa@crystyl cautiously starts to exit cover NPC@annpc#557 | As Mischa emerges from cover, six transporter beams appear, materializing too rapidly for them to shoot. Six figures, two female and four male, appear from the beams, none of them registering - NPC@annpc#557 - lifesigns. One of the males kneels by the fallen nano-being, "Sister! You will pay for this!" NPC@annpc#557 | Another female speaks, "Target acquired. Smite them." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana quickly taps her comm, "Lander One, emergency beamout!" NPC@annpc#557 | The team disappears into transporter beams as an orange beam shoots down from one of the orbital platforms, hitting where they were standing a second earlier. The kneeling male remains by the - NPC@annpc#557 - fallen nano-being, while the other five spread out across the roof... --- T'Lana@anncaris | After their emergency transport back to the Lander One, the unconscious Avita is taken to the medbay, with the rest of the crew following. As Dr. Nakos looks over Avita, a female Tak'an doctor - T'Lana@anncaris - scans the others before directing Mischa to another bed Mischa@crystyl takes a seat on the bed, grumbling but not for the medical attention T'Lana@anncaris | The Tak'an doctor gives Mischa a more thorough scan, "Minor concussion, fracture in the right ulna bone, nothing serious. Raise your head, please." Mischa@crystyl does so T'Lana@anncaris | The Tak'an injects a hypo on the base of Mischa's neck before running her medical tricorder over her head. Slowly, Mischa feels the headache and general fuzziness of her senses begin to fade T'Lana@anncaris | The door slides open and Kayan enters, with Vector behind her T'Lana@anncaris | Kayan: "What happened?" Mischa@crystyl:"Something we had not anticipated got the jump on us" she looks to TL, "How did you describe it; a nano-lifeform?" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "It was primarily composed of nanobots capable of operating some distance from its body, allowing it to arrange itself, though it possessed a basic skeletal frame. It appeared to be a - T'Lana@anncaris:- synthetic being and did not register as a lifesign to sensors, but the scans collected by my optical piece after the core was penetrated did detect organic matter. It is possible that its core - T'Lana@anncaris:- utilizes bio-neural technology similar to our bio-neural gel packs." Mischa@crystyl:"And there were more of them" T'Lana@anncaris:"Six others that we have seen. That was why we called for extraction." T'Lana@anncaris | Kayan nods, looking from Mischa to Avita, "If a single one did this to your team..." Mischa@crystyl:"Don't get me wrong, it blindsided us for starters. But... even having the jump on these things may not be enough. It took some quick thinking from the Observer to explode a conduit and catch enough- Mischa@crystyl:- of the nano-thing to expose it's core before we could make a dent" T'Lana@anncaris | Vector: "Does EMP have any effect on it?" T'Lana@anncaris:"I do not know. I attempted to use an EMP grenade, but the nanites disabled it before it could activate." T'Lana@anncaris | Vector: "I've condensed my EM weapon into pistol designs. The ability to fire an EM pulse at range may be beneficial. Theoretically, nanobots should still be susceptible to its effects." Mischa@crystyl:"That should be most useful. Now perhaps the more pertinent question is how they found us so quickly. Either our investigator betrayed us, or the defense mainframe is compromised, as I see it" T'Lana@anncaris:"Did you find any useful information at the defense mainframe?" Mischa@crystyl nods, "Yes, we believe we tracked down the ship which brought the Horde influence here and traced it to it's parent Corporation. We also had eyes on an anomalous beam down from the ship that was - Mischa@crystyl:- conveniently corrupted in the mainframe archives, so we could only track it so far" T'Lana@anncaris:"So it was not a false lead, though that does not rule out the possibility that the investigator may have led you on the right trail, only to set you up to be ambushed." Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed. We'll have to set him up and find out" T'Lana@anncaris:"I assume you've already begun working on a plan to do so?" Mischa@crystyl nods, "We contact him and tell him what happened. Tell him that he may also be compromised and to meet us at a safe location. If he turns up, he's good. If the nanobots turn up, we know he's the - Mischa@crystyl:- mole" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Agreed. Do you want us with you when you make contact as backup?" Mischa@crystyl:"If possible I would like to select a location that we can monitor from here. Then we just have to decided what to do if he does arrive; beam down and keep up the facade with him, or bring him here - Mischa@crystyl:- and clue him in" T'Lana@anncaris | Kayan: "The cities seem to be quite dense in population- we can monitor them, but it'll be easier for something to slip past. Maybe one of the industrial sites, they're highly automated, and - T'Lana@anncaris:- even if the nano-beings don't give off lifesigns, we'll be able to pick up on unusual signatures or movement in the area." Mischa@crystyl:"Sounds good. We should find somewhere that makes sense as an escape from our route between the investigators office and the defense mainframe building" T'Lana@anncaris:"There's a significant industrial sprawl between the two. We will identify a suitable location." Mischa@crystyl:"Perfect. So then, what should we do with him assuming he is clean?" T'Lana@anncaris | Vector: "If he is indeed clean and as skilled of an investigator as his reputation suggests, we should at least inform him that we know of the Horde's involvement here and that they are most - T'Lana@anncaris:- likely the ones behind what is occuring. An investigator can only do so much if we keep vital information from them." Mischa@crystyl:"Very well, we'll keep up the facade with him. But I think we should provide him the safeguard against the virus" T'Lana@anncaris:"Agreed. If he is not involved, it will be logical to keep him from becoming compromised in the future." T'Lana@anncaris | Meanwhile, Dr. Nakos steps away from Avita's bed and turns to everyone else, "She'll be fine. We're going to have to rebuild the cybernetic arms, but there's no lasting damage done to her - T'Lana@anncaris - body. Thankfully, her species is remarkably resilient." Mischa@crystyl:"That is good to hear" T'Lana@anncaris | Vector: "The Fixers and I will help rebuild her cybernetics. Do you wish to contact the investigator now, or rest for a while?" Mischa@crystyl:"The sooner the better. We just need to nail down the location" T'Lana@anncaris | Kayan nods, "I'll have the Operations Room find a suitable one for you," she nods and turns to head out Mischa@crystyl looks back to TL as Kayan leaves, "In all the excitement I never got the chance to thank you" T'Lana@anncaris | Meanwhile, the Tak'an doctor slowly runs a medical device over Mischa's wounded arm T'Lana@anncaris:"I surmised that something had gone wrong when Avita interrupted the comm and we lost contact. We arrived as quickly as we could, but we were in the middle of the Arisakee Complex and beaming back - T'Lana@anncaris:- beaming out using the Lander One from there would have aroused suspicion from the Corporation." Mischa@crystyl:"You do not have to apologize for your timing. It was impeccable as always" T'Lana@anncaris:"The Observer's efforts should be commended as well. It was her thinking that ultimately allowed us to take down the nano-lifeform." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Don't worry, I won't be forgetting that particular favour any time soon" T'Lana@anncaris | The Tak'an finishes running the device over Mischa and puts it away, "You should be good now, Commander. But try to avoid lifting anything too heavy with your left arm for the next day." Mischa@crystyl:"I'll keep that in mind" she nods, hopping off the bed, "Thank you doctor" T'Lana@anncaris:"There is one more thing you may be interested in, though unrelated to our mission," she holds out a PADD Mischa@crystyl takes it with a curious look, "What's this now?" T'Lana@anncaris:"Data on Forli shield technology. Our first contract was to steal this for Arisakee Technologies. I thought it was a good opportunity to learn more about it ourselves and retained a copy." Mischa@crystyl smiles, "Nicely done" T'Lana@anncaris:"Fortunately, I doubt the Corporations will have time to dissect and implement the technology in time for any use against us." Mischa@crystyl:"You two still need to get back and complete your assignment I take it?" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "That's correct. Should we return to the Arisakee Complex now, or wait until we have determined whether the investigator can be trusted first?" Mischa@crystyl:"If you have scope to wait, then let's play it safe for now" T'Lana@anncaris:"We are not working on a tight deadline, so we shall wait for the time being." T'Lana@anncaris | Kayan's voice sounds over the comm of the medical bay, "Commander. we've identified a suitable location." Mischa@crystyl:<C> Excellent. We'll join you in ops to contact the investigator then T'Lana@anncaris | The two arrive in the Operations Room where Kayan awaits them with the viewscreen zoomed in on the aerial view of a factory, "This one does not appear to be currently in operation, which means - T'Lana@anncaris - movement and energy signatures will be easier to spot." Mischa@crystyl:"Perfect. Alright, let's make our call" T'Lana@anncaris | Kayan nods, "Feel free to take a console. You have the comm frequency for him." Mischa@crystyl taps in the frequency and places the call T'Lana@anncaris | A few seconds later, Takyro's voice answers, "Hello. Who is this?" Mischa@crystyl from nowhere, comes out in a flustered persona, "It's Mischa. Are you alright? Has anything happened?" T'Lana@anncaris | <C - Takyro> I'm alright. Why, did something happen with you? Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, we got attacked! Please, my friends been hurt but I don't know who I can trust anymore! We found something at the mainframe... something someone didn't want us to find. We're getting off the - Mischa@crystyl:- streets, you should do the same before they came after you!" T'Lana@anncaris | <C - Takyro> Attacked? Any idea who they were working for? Mischa@crystyl:"I- I haven't had time to think yet. Please, we have to hurry. Can you come meet us?" T'Lana@anncaris <C - Takyro> Okay. Stay calm and evaluate your situation carefully. I'll be there. Where are you right now? Mischa@crystyl:"We're at the old Oraka plant in Sector SA-4, it's an abandoned fabrication unit not far from the mainframe. Please hurry, and be careful - they are watching" T'Lana@anncaris <C - Takyro> I'm on my way Mischa@crystyl ends the comm, relaxing back to her usual self, "Now we wait" --- T'Lana@anncaris FX | Forty minutes pass quietly before a Tak'an in the room announces, "We have a hovercraft arriving at the meeting location." Mischa@crystyl:"Lifesigns?" T'Lana@anncaris | Tak'an: "Two. It's touching down now and they're exiting. No sign of any additional movement." Mischa@crystyl:"Can't be the nano-bots then. You should beam Avita and I down, we'll maintain an open comm" T'Lana@anncaris | Kayan nods, "Get to the transporter room, we'll beam you over." Mischa@crystyl nods and heads out T'Lana@anncaris | Mischa and the damaged Avita beam down to a warehouse that seems mostly abandoned, though some crates and barrels seem to have been left inside Mischa@crystyl finds a suitably covered position and monitors the entrance T'Lana@anncaris | A minute later, two figures move into cover outside the entrance. A female enters the room first, followed by a male identifiable as Takyro in his long coat, the two of them sweeping the room - T'Lana@anncaris - expertly as they proceed towards Mischa and Avita T'Lana@anncaris | Both figures are armed, Takyro with a pistol and the unknown woman with a rifle Mischa@crystyl 's voice emanates from a secluded comm device she left across the room while settling, "Who's your friend?" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "Good to see you're still alive. That's Myra, one of the best freelancers in Corporate space. Don't worry, we're old acquaintances, she can be trusted." Mischa@crystyl:"You'll forgive my saying, but neither of you look particularly trustworthy right now..." T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro lowers his pistol and motions for the woman to lower her weapon as well. She gives him a glance before complying T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "You said you were attacked, which means someone knows about our investigation. Can't be too careful, you understand." Mischa@crystyl slowly steps out of the shadows, "You understand my caution, good. The fact that you are here and not our attackers - whilst implying your innocence in the fact - also presents the more foreboding - Mischa@crystyl:- possibility that the defense mainframe itself must have been compromised" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "It wouldn't surprise me, if this does indeed have something to do with the puppetmasters." T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "So that explains why you're suddenly working with partners. Finally found someone who buys into your puppetmaster conspiracy theory, huh?" Mischa@crystyl:"That depends on your definition. I now believe that we are dealing puppetmasters, I just don't know if it is /the/ puppetmasters you speak of. But first things first..." she approaches the pair, - Mischa@crystyl:- pulling out a hypo T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "What's that?" Mischa@crystyl:"Protection" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "Against?" Mischa@crystyl:"Against becoming a puppet" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "That doesn't answer much. Let me have a scan first before I let you inject me with who knows what." Mischa@crystyl:"Scan away if it makes you feel any better, but this conversation won't continue until you either use it or disappear" she hands it over Mischa@crystyl:"That goes for both of you. It is an agent to protect your cybernetic comm chips from being infiltrated by a very specifically designed virus. One which alters a person's mental faculties and exposes- Mischa@crystyl:- them to irrational behaviour. Possibly even making them susceptible to suggestion through the same method" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra takes the hypo and looks it over before laughing, "So /that's/ why the Corpses implant all their people with the chips!" Mischa@crystyl to emphasize her point, she tosses a visual pad on a nearby crate showing images of the Corporation ship bridge they boarded, and the bloody aftermath, "Corporation employees are not the only ones - Mischa@crystyl:- exposed to this virus. Any being - even artificial lifeforms - with any form of cybernetic comm chip or similar may be at risk" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "We don't have any cyberware that communicates with outside signals. Too easy to get hacked that way. But, I don't detect anything malicious in that hypo of yours, so I'll take it if it - T'Lana@anncaris - makes you feel more comfortable." She removes her helmet and injects herself first before tossing it to Takyro Mischa@crystyl:"Better safe than sorry" she smiles T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro also injects the hypo before returning it to Mischa, "Indeed." Mischa@crystyl:"Now onto the matter at hand. What do you know about nanotechnology?" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "Little microscopic bots that's used in a variety of technology, why?" Mischa@crystyl pulls out another device and shows them the scan data of their attackers, "What about this?" T'Lana@anncaris | The two Hyrokee lean forward to get a look at it T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "/That's/ what attacked you?" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "Looks like something out of a holo-game." Mischa@crystyl:"That's what attacked us" she nods, "I take it from your reactions that you are just as unfamiliar with this thing as we were?" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "I've seen some creative applications of nanotech, but nothing like this. A new model of the Corporate bots, maybe?" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "Or one they had all along but kept hidden. I'm unfamiliar with the technology, but all these nanobots...I assume it can change its appearance at will." Mischa@crystyl:"There were others who came before we fled. They called this one their sister and seemed just as emotional from it's demise as you would expect someone to be over a cherished love one" Mischa@crystyl nods to Takyro, "Yes, it was like fighting living liquid at times. There was a mechanical exoskeleton buried deep beneath it all, and a bio-neural core that we eventually exposed and damaged" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "Where did this happen?" Mischa@crystyl:"Not far from here. The attacker ran our hovercab out of the air" T'Lana@anncaris | Avita: "We don't know exactly where. We crashed on the roof of a building." T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro nods, "We need the surveillance data from that building. Are you sure you're safe here?" Mischa@crystyl:"No..." T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "Stay with them then, Myra. I'll get the data." T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "Are you sure that's a good idea?" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "I needed you here in case we had to fight. Staying undetected, that's something I'm perfectly capable of doing on my own. Keep them safe, they've got wounded." Mischa@crystyl:"Keep in mind that if they tracked us down so quickly, they must have infiltrated the defense mainframe of all things. If that is compromised, then everything could be for all we know" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro nods, "I've aware. I've been mingling with Corporate elite while you were digging around the mainframe. All of them are convinced that cutting trade ties with the Coalition is a good - T'Lana@anncaris - idea, and when I asked why as part of casual conversation, they just said they had the statistics to back it up, but were very elusive about the data, claiming its Corporate secrets. Wouldn't - T'Lana@anncaris:- even give a basic explanation. I have a feeling your virus is involved." T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "Or you're just paranoid, as usual." Mischa@crystyl:"The virus is just a sideline. There's the actual data we recovered from the mainframe that I believe warranted the attack on us" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "And what data is that?" Mischa@crystyl:"Data that supports your earlier theory about the Coalitions enemies manipulating the Corporations into severing ties" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "Do you have this data with you?" Mischa@crystyl shakes her head, "The nano-bot-thing destroyed our copy during the fight" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "I need to get the surveillance data, then. Don't worry, I'll be careful. I'm paranoid, remember?" he smirks. "Myra'll keep you safe." Mischa@crystyl nods, "We can fill you in on the details of what we found afterwards. Fill in any blanks after you get the surveillance" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "Excellent. I'll see you soon, then." The investigator nods back and turns to head out T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "Well, I guess I'm stuck babysitting you, then." Mischa@crystyl gives her a sarcastic but light look, "Don't worry, my friend's the only one who throws a tantrum if she misses her nap time. And after the attack, I'm sure that won't be a problem" T'Lana@anncaris | Avita chuckles, "I'm fairly harmless with these arms disabled." T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "So how did you end up working with Takyro anyways? Run into him on one of his investigations, or did you seek him out first?" Mischa@crystyl glances back, "We'll have you back together in no time, don't worry. Just think of it as a good excuse for an upgrade" looking back to Myra, "We sought him out. Heard he might actually be capable - Mischa@crystyl:- of helping us expose... whatever this is that we're on to here" Mischa@crystyl:"What about you? You two seemed pretty tight back there" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "So you came up with your conspiracy theories before even talking with him. You do make good partners. Me, I ran into him a couple of times. First time was actually when I stole some - T'Lana@anncaris:- tech for one Corporation or another. Don't even remember which one, it was a long time ago and I was younger and sloppier. He tracked me down, I gave him a good beating, but he figured out the - T'Lana@anncaris:- Corp behind it and solved the case anyways. Second time was when we were tracking down the same target, nasty piece of work called Dominro. I needed his investigation skills, he needed my combat - T'Lana@anncaris:- skills, so we worked together to take him down. After that our paths have crossed occasionally, and he's been known to hire me when he needs a little extra protection." Mischa@crystyl:"So you're combat focused? He must be worried about this job to have pulled you straight into it" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "Don't get me wrong, I can track real well, but Takyro, he's something else. Much as I like to tease him about his paranoia, his instincts are usually on the mark. After all, he called me - T'Lana@anncaris:- in before he even knew about those nano-super-bots." Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed. Do not let your skills lead you to underestimate those things, should you encounter them though" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "From those scans you showed me, I'd be a fool to underestimate them. And overconfident fools don't tend to live long in my line of work." Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "I never thought nanotech could be used like that. I'm flexible, but not /that/ flexible." Mischa@crystyl:"You utilize it?" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "Only for physical maintenance and medical treatment. Don't worry, they don't communicate with outside systems and can't be compromised, otherwise someone would've turned them against me - T'Lana@anncaris:- long ago. But I was more thinking about that whip thing this one you fought seems to be fond of." Mischa@crystyl smiles a little, "Getting inspired for an upgrade?" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra smirks, "Given me a few ideas with what I can do with my grappler. Anyways, what do you do when you're not running around investigating conspiracies?" Mischa@crystyl:"You say that like it's not entirely life consuming..." T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "Well, I've never seen you or heard of you until now. So either you're very new at this, or you have a day job and just stumbled upon this whole mess by accident." Mischa@crystyl sighs, "Something like that. Truth is, I'm rather new at all of this conspiracy stuff..." Mischa@crystyl | Somewhere, deep in orbit, the Observer can somehow still be heard snorting as she listens... Mischa@crystyl:"See, I had a nice little operation going with the supply of bio-medical products to the Arshai, and business was better than ever since they got into the Coalitions fighting. This sudden turnabout - Mischa@crystyl:- plunged us into negative projections almost overnight. So I started digging, and well. You know the rest" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra nods, "I heard about the sudden decision the Corpses were jumping to. Thought it was weird, but business is their thing, so I didn't question it. Figured they knew something I didn't." Mischa@crystyl:"Well, for once the conspiracy theorists actually appear to be right" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "It seems so. I mean, conspiracies aren't exactly uncommon in Corporate society, but someone controlling /all/ the Corporations? Never thought that'd be possible..." Mischa@crystyl:"The more I've looked into this, the more horrifyingly possible it clearly is. Not just the Corpses either" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "I mean, some freelancers use comm implants similar to the Corpses, so I guess they might also be under control..." Mischa@crystyl:"That seems to be just the method they are using here for convenience, likely because the Corpses already had it in place" Mischa@crystyl:"No, I'm talking about a puppetmaster who can - and actively is - pulling the strings of entire civilizations all at once. Like some grand strategy gamesmaster playing on a galactic board" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "You figure the Corpses were already using these chips to control people, and the enemies of the Coalition are just taking advantage of it?" Mischa@crystyl:"I couldn't say if they were actively using them or not. But at least one of them had the tech already developed, I'm certain" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra nods, "Wouldn't put it past them. But where do the nano-super-bots fits in? The Corporation's been using robots for fifty years, but you said these ones showed emotions at the death of - T'Lana@anncaris:- one of their own. Corporate bots don't have emotion, they don't even /try/ to fake it like holograms do. If they are a Corporate creation, I guess bots that can change their appearance are - T'Lana@anncaris:- probably designed for infiltration and giving them the ability to fake emotion makes sense, but if they're reacting to one dying, it can't be fake. You're already shooting at it, it's not - T'Lana@anncaris:- fooling anyone. Real emotion, that seems like a liability the Corpses wouldn't put into their robots." Mischa@crystyl:"That is an excellent question. They are either some new prototype the Corpses were playing with, though as you said they do not fit the typical profile and seem far more like a liability. They - Mischa@crystyl:- could also be from offworld" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "Agents of the enemies the Coalition are fighting?" Mischa@crystyl:"This enemy specializes in using and abusing others to its own end. Like that puppet virus, but affecting just about anyone! These things could have been sourced from some far off world and brought- Mischa@crystyl:- here to be used by the Corporations" she sighs, "We just don't know enough to get anything more than idle speculation at this point" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra nods, "We need to do a lot more investigating." Mischa@crystyl:"If we do happen to encounter more of these nano-whatevers, we should make every effort to recover the bio-neural core from it. I think that will tell us what we need to know about their origins" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "But if we don't shut down the core...I suppose we can kill all the nanobots and then disable their limb structures. That'll leave them practically helpless. Be careful though, if I were - T'Lana@anncaris:- designing them, I'd build some kind of self-destruct mechanism into the core." Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, we have already theorized about a means to neutralize them. Though it remains untested. I too would include a means of preserving IP, should my design fall into a competitors hands" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "What's your means of neutralizing them?" Mischa@crystyl:"EMP" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra nods, "That might work...and if you're lucky, maybe it'll shut down whatever safeguards the core has in place too." Mischa@crystyl:"We can only hope" T'Lana@anncaris | The wait in the abandoned warehouse proceeds without incident and two hours later, Mischa's optical sensor registers a vehicle landing and a Hyrokee lifeform heading back inside T'Lana@anncaris | Myra rises from the spot she was sitting at, "Takyro's back." Mischa@crystyl nods, standing as well as she detects the arrival T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro enters, this time with the pistol on his hip instead of drawn, "It's as I thought." Mischa@crystyl:"What did you find?" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro passes Mischa a PADD, "It's more what I didn't find." Mischa@crystyl:"Hm?" she takes a look T'Lana@anncaris | The PADD contains sensor data from the building they crashed on. It registers the crash, Avita and Mischa's (modified Hyrokee) lifesigns and the pistol fire. It also catches T'Lana and the - T'Lana@anncaris:- Observer's beam-in, the conduit explosion, the emergency beam-out to the Lander One, and then the strike from one of the orbital platforms. After that, there is data on cleanup teams that came to - T'Lana@anncaris:- pull away the wreckage and repair the damage. Curiously, the sensors don't seem to have detected the nano-beings at all, including their beam-in Mischa@crystyl:"A pretty thorough cleanup job" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro shakes his head, "It wasn't cleaned up. The data wasn't even there." T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "I've heard about this. Rumours of unbeatable combatants that don't show up on sensor data. Shadows, Glitches, Spectres, Mysterious Strangers, there's a whole bunch of different names - T'Lana@anncaris:- that. Always took them as exaggerated bar tales or various different freelancers with sensor-masking implants." Mischa@crystyl:"I don't know about your bar tales, but these things definitely didn't show up on our scans during the fight" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "The word about these Shadows is that they would show up out of nowhere, slaughter entire squads and vanish without a trace. Sometimes they seem to be protecting people, other times - T'Lana@anncaris:- they assassinate them. This is one conspiracy theory I always just chalked up to various different instances of skilled individuals. But it's possible many of these sightings were of your - T'Lana@anncaris:- mysterious nano-assailants." T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "These sightings go back a long way. Before I even started working, long before the Coalition." Mischa@crystyl:"At least that answers the question about them originating here or not. The question remains though; who is controlling them" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro nods and looks to Mischa, "What are those details you said you found, that you were going to fill me in on?" Mischa@crystyl:"We found a ship arriving around 4 weeks ago. After getting delayed on the border of Horde territory, it arrived back here and promptly engaged in some very suspicious transporter activity. There - Mischa@crystyl:- was one in particular - a single alien lifeform which beamed to somewhere in the southern hemisphere, the records were conveniently corrupted though" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "That could be half the planet. But a single alien lifeform, that is very suspicious. What was the other transporter activity they engaged in?" Mischa@crystyl:"It looked like a strategic deployment of individuals to an array of Corporate facilities, not just those affiliated with the one owning said ship" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro nods, "Probably just trying to probe out the Corporations. Perhaps that's how they learned to use the virus and gained control of these nano-beings, but the single transport certainly - T'Lana@anncaris:- stands out. It seems to me like the destination of that transport is where all this is being directed from. In any case, if they hid its destination, it's important enough that they don't want us - T'Lana@anncaris:- to find it." Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed. We were hoping you might know of some other way it would have been tracked" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "There's a variety of other sensors on the planet, specifically in the southern hemisphere, that we can try. The Nodaro Array is probably the strongest, but we'll have to get through a - T'Lana@anncaris:- Corporate Complex for that. Smaller sensors should be more than enough to pick up a transport from orbit to surface, though." Mischa@crystyl:"Could be worth trying a smaller one first then. they'll probably be watching for us" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro nods, "I know just the one. Come with me." He turns and begins to make his way out of the warehouse Mischa@crystyl nods and follows T'Lana@anncaris | The group return to their hovercar, which takes off and begins making its way back through the industrial landscape. The journey takes some time, and they notice the towers of a few cities - T'Lana@anncaris - around them, but Takyro flies carefully, avoiding the population centres T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "As you can see, we've built over the surface of much of our homeworld, whether it's cities or industrial sprawl." Mischa@crystyl:"Exactly how long do you think we've been away? In fact, I don't recall even saying that we had been..." T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro chuckles, "Let me continue. Most of us today take the planet's condition for granted. What many of us forget is that our planet was not once like this, and this transformation has taken - T'Lana@anncaris:- a toll. Back during the time of the Government Wars and the immediate aftermath, we installed a series of sensors across the planet to monitor the pollution and radiation storms. Ever since - T'Lana@anncaris:- weather control technology was developed, many of these sensor stations became repurposed by the Corporations that owned them. The orbital satellites paired with the stations were all eventually - T'Lana@anncaris:- dismantled and replaced with newer technology, but many of the stations themselves fell into disuse, and the stations themselves still have basic sensor capabilities." Mischa@crystyl smiles, "I see. Useful to know" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "We're headed to one of those sensor stations which I know is still operational. A gang of streetborns took residence in there some years back before they disbanded, and one of their - T'Lana@anncaris:- former members is someone who worked for me as an informant on the streets for a time. From there, we should be able to access the data from the sensor nodes still functioning across the old - T'Lana@anncaris:- weather monitoring network. That's what the gang used to spot incoming trouble, and potential targets." Mischa@crystyl:"Good old street gangs" she smiles T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "Indeed. You never know when contacts on the streets are going to come in useful." Mischa@crystyl:"I'll have to keep that in mind" Mischa@crystyl | Once again that Observer'esque snort seems to echo through subspace... T'Lana@anncaris | Their hovercar settles down near a very old tower in the midst of a desolate plain. The tower is clearly of different design than both the industrial structures and the modern cities, but even - T'Lana@anncaris - one unfamiliar with Hyrokee architecture would be able to see the age of the building from the unmaintained exterior, much of which have broken away T'Lana@anncaris | Exiting the hovercar, Takyro leads the way inside, "It's not pretty, I know, but the gang kept it in good enough shape to work." Mischa@crystyl:"I'm sure" T'Lana@anncaris FX | https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/fallout/images/6/62/Helios_One_gen1.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20121024210633 T'Lana@anncaris | The four make their way through the decrepit interior of the tower, climbing precarious stairways that creak with every step. Soon, they reach an area with old consoles connected by wires, - T'Lana@anncaris - which Takyro begins to tamper with T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "This is very old technology, but I think I can get it working..." Mischa@crystyl stays out of his way for the most part, keeping an eye on things and taking in the details T'Lana@anncaris | The place is every bit as ancient as Takyro's description made it out to be, with most of the facility covered in dust. Most of the metal are rusted, and some stairways and even support - T'Lana@anncaris - pillars have given way, with entire passageways buried and inaccessible T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "I've been to my fair share of old abandoned buildings, but I didn't even know anything /this/ ancient still existed on the planet." T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "And neither do most people living on the homeworld today." T'Lana@anncaris | The lights on a dust-covered console begin to slowly flicker to life... T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro stands and steps over the console, tapping on physical buttons to work it T'Lana@anncaris | Myra leans back and observes, "Well this is old-fashioned." T'Lana@anncaris | The readouts displayed are also quite different from any modern console, and Takyro has to pull out a PADD to interpret the data. After a good few minutes, he announces, "Whoever covered these - T'Lana@anncaris - tracks are very thorough. Almost no one remembers these sensors exist, but...someone's also erased the transport from these records." Mischa@crystyl:"It would be impressive if it wasn't so annoying. Does that mean they had to come here to do so?" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro shakes his head, "No, but they had to have access to one of the still-functioning sensor stations. According to the data here, only three other stations are currently active." Mischa@crystyl:"Well that at least narrows the list of possibilities, but do we have any better chance of tracking the data at one of those?" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "No, everything in the network is linked. If it's been erased, none of the stations can access it. And if someone remembered to erase the data from this place...then I doubt we'll find - T'Lana@anncaris:- it anywhere else. Anywhere planetside at least." Mischa@crystyl:"So where does that leave us? There must be something more we can do" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "There's only one possibility I can think of. If the puppetmaster can manipulate Corporate employees, the data's probably gone from all their ships. But if we can find a non-Corporate - T'Lana@anncaris:- ship that was here on that day and still in the area, we have a shot of getting untampered data." Mischa@crystyl:"Sounds as good a shot as any" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "Unfortunately, the old weather network's information isn't complete. I can only identify a few ships, and none of them are appearing on its sensors at the moment. That doesn't mean - T'Lana@anncaris - they're not around the planet, though. We might just be unable to see it." T'Lana@anncaris | Avita: "If only we still had the data I downloaded from the defense grid..." Mischa@crystyl:"Helpful as it may be, there is nothing to be gained from dwelling on the fact that it was destroyed" T'Lana@anncaris | Avita nods, "That enemy was too powerful for the both of us." T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro hands Mischa his PADD, "Here's all the ships I've been able to identify. If we can't find a match in the area now...either there's none here, or we need more detailed sensor records." T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "If whoever is behind this is controlling all the Corporations, they'll know for certain if we try to extract information from the Nodaro array." T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "There could be other leads to pursue." Mischa@crystyl:"What do you have in mind?" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "If we can capture someone under the effect of the virus, we might be able to trace it back to its origin." T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "Nah, they'll try to cover their tracks, bounce their signal so much it canâ€™t be followed. I have a better idea." T'Lana@anncaris | Myra looks to Mischa, "If we can capture the core of one of those nano-things, it's the best chance of tracing the ones controlling them. A signal for a virus can be bounced all over the - T'Lana@anncaris - place, but these bots probably have a direct line. Bounced signals can be lost if there's a problem along the way, and if anyone has a direct link for emergency use, I bet it's those things. - T'Lana@anncaris:- If we can get one, we might be able to trick or force it to send a signal and trace that back." Mischa@crystyl:"Definitely a high risk strategy" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "It's got more chances to succeed than tracking the virus." Mischa@crystyl:"But Rule of Acquisition 62; The riskier the road; the greater the profit" she grins with an inexplicable self-satisfaction T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "Rules of what?" Mischa@crystyl smiles, "Just a little code of practice I find it useful to conduct business to" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra smirks, "I like that saying." Mischa@crystyl:"Well there's plenty more where that came from. Remind me when this is done and I'll sell you a full copy" she grins Mischa@crystyl thinks for a moment she can hear TL's raised Vulcan eyebrow as she listens to them... T'Lana@anncaris | Myra grins back, "Sounds like a good read. So, we lure out one of these nano-super-bots, try out your new weapon on them, and hope we can capture one intact?" Mischa@crystyl:"It would be nice if we had a bit more of a contingency than that. if one shows up, fine. But if the group show together I do /not/ want to be caught off guard only then finding that the weapon does - Mischa@crystyl:- not work on them" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "If we can lure them to one of the factories, we might be able to use the equipment within to fight them, or at least debilitate them so they don't come all at once." Mischa@crystyl:"Good thinking. There must be something suitable around here" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "I think I know a good place. Now, who lures them out, and what would be the safest way to get their attention without getting killed before we can lead them where we want them." Mischa@crystyl:"Well I'm the obvious one to draw their attention. They want my head on pike already after earlier, so that won't be a problem. As for getting their attention... they know we're tracking the - Mischa@crystyl:- data from the defense mainframe, so why don't we just go for the obvious and try to pull it from one of the higher profile stations we looked at before?" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro nods, "That's what I was thinking too, but make sure you don't get intercepted before you have a chance to make it out. I don't know how quickly these things respond, or how they get - T'Lana@anncaris:- their information, but since you got your on the way back from the defense grid, I suspect they're keeping an eye on the information and anyone who accesses or downloads it. So grab the data and - T'Lana@anncaris:- make a run for it." Mischa@crystyl:"We can safely assume a faster response than before, given that they're actively looking for us now. We need to pick our locations carefully and have everything in place before I go in" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro taps his PADD before handing it to Mischa again, "Here's the coordinates of the factory I'm thinking of. I'll go ahead and set it up, let you know when it's ready." T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "In the meantime, why don't we get your friend fixed up? We'll need her at her best, and I know some places with some good combat cyberware that's off the grid, and nobody who uses that - T'Lana@anncaris:- kind of place likes sporting comm implants." Mischa@crystyl looks to Avita, "It's your arms - your call" T'Lana@anncaris | Avita: "I won't be of much use now as I am. If it isn't too risky, I'd like some repairs." T'Lana@anncaris | Myra smiles, "Don't worry, it's safe and great quality for the Points they cost." T'Lana@anncaris | Avita: "How good quality?" T'Lana@anncaris | Myra: "Well, plenty of the cyberware I'm sporting now I got from that shop." T'Lana@anncaris | Avita nods, "Your cybernetics look of good quality." T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro: "We only have one vehicle, but I'll take you to one of my safehouses where you can borrow another." Mischa@crystyl:"Sounds like a plan to me" T'Lana@anncaris | Takyro smiles, "Excellent. Come with me, then."