[PILOT] Chapter 2: Memories of Atlantica

edited June 2013 in ANN_pilot
You all get a few hours of well deserved rest in the Reykjavik airport while waiting for your flight. Around 10 AM UTC, you're collected by a pair of flight attendants who take you through the lower-level security maze to your privately chartered plane. The flight is, thankfully, rather uneventful.

It's midday by the time you touch down in Milano. The landing on the platform was rocky, and the Mumbai team spent it sleeping. Henry gave you all a pretty decent first aid kit in the event of an emergency, Yoshi set up an encrypted network for mission communications, and Tank gave you the contact information for the Submarine set to extract you when the job's done. The charter plane barely stops to refuel before heading back to the runway, and Emily receives a text from Ludo.

The text summons you over to a private section of the airport, where Ludo is waiting in a VIP lounge overlooking the city. The air is filled with a thick, sweetly scented smoke as you enter, and the lights are dimmed with a live jazz band playing in the corner. Ludo rises from between a pair of identical twin blonde boys — the appear significantly younger than he is, and they seem generally disinterested in being cooped up here.

Emily, Ludo smiles wide when he sees you and throws his arms wide open to give you a hug. "Emily! It's been so long! Please! Come! My pilot informs me we shall be airborne within the hour!" He guides you over to a chair, "So what brings you to the Free City, Köstlichkeiten?"

Utseo, Ludo is the head of a major corporation — while he may be a friend of Emily's, he's still not the kind of person you would normally be acquainted with. What did your people turn up about his corporation, and why is it going to be difficult for you to deal with this man?

Alex, I hate to say it, but you recognize Ludo right off the bat. You've stolen something from this man before. What was it?


  • edited June 2013

    As we approach, I'm feeling very satisfied by how my boys present.

    For Alex, I decided to emphasize a softer, more playful side of sexy. Dark wash jeans, boot cut, over cobalt blue and white saddle shoes, which feature small, holographic blue and silver flames licking the sides. An exquisitely tailored white silk button-down shirt with a thin, almost-black blue tie. I've relaxed his hair, and styled it into a tousled bedroom look. For a final, teasing touch, I've put kohl around his eyes, and blended it out - reminiscent of a burglar's mask you see in old vids.

    For Utseo, I dress him as he is - dangerous. Black denim pants with silver threads flowing in waves down half of one leg. An Osric blazer, simply THE best men's suit designer, made of Bullet Skin, kept opaque with a charcoal wash. And, the piece de resistance, a Living Tattoo - temporary, moving art for your skin. The green lines glow occasionally, and the head turns slightly to meet eyes with a less-than casual observer.

    They perhaps look a bit overdressed in the airport, but in the mood lighting of Ludo's plane, and in Free City, they will look Perfect.

    "Ludo! My sparkling, lusty jewel!" I kiss him on both cheeks. "You, mostly. And wanting to show off my man candy. And, I heard that DJ Dead Presidents will be there, and you know how much she pisses me off. If I show up with you, no one will be able to tip her off."
  • [Utseo]

    Ludoviko Miĥaelo Chairman Emeritus of wotshawt.com Multi-billion credit media company Style Mogul Also sits on the Advisory Board for OCP Omni Consumer Products (OCP), a corporatocratic megacorporation with divisions affecting nearly every level of consumer need, society, and government. Their products range from consumer products to military weaponry and private space travel.
  • [Utseo]

    I'm generally aloof right now, not trying to overshadow Emily, this is her domain. I also try to keep myself neutral around Ludo. While he may be the "fashion and social media consultant" for OCP, he has to know enough of their dirty secrets and milspec deals to make him a prime target. Josine would never work with him on the up and up, this would be a set-up, a two-fold operation. Em wants to play nice, she may even be unaware of how she could use this man.

    For me, this could be a missed opportunity. I will find a way to use him.

    The ink is amazing. I'm tempted to ask Em how much a permanent one would run. But I've heard they're easily tagged, so that's dicey.
  • Emily, Ludo smiles, "You're too kind, dear. Come. Have a drink!" He summons a waiter over, and orders six high-class cocktails. "Yes, Dead Presidents has been there for a few days now — she's left an insufferable buzzing in the back of my brain ever since. You will be a most welcome change of pace, I think!"

    Then he turns to your two gentlemen companions and asks, "but I'm being rude! My name is Ludoviko Miĥaelo — who might you fine specimens be?"
  • edited June 2013
    "You can call me Julian," I answer, working up an open and inviting smile. "Em keeps me around because I brighten her day. It's fantastic to meet you."

    It's a good thing that Em made me up. The last time Ludo saw me I was dodging fire after stealing the access codes for his central routing system. It brought down his secure server for several days and cost him millions.
  • edited June 2013
    Alex, Ludo shoots you a sly grin, and offers you his hand, "A pleasure, Gabriel. I can certainly see how you would brighten up Emily's days. You look quite familiar — have you ever been to the Free City before?"

    A waiter comes by with the six drinks, and distributes them among you. Ludo takes his, and toasts the group, "to good times, and beautiful company!" He's looking at you expectantly, Utseo. What do you do?
  • [Utseo]

    I keep a cool demeanor, smile a bit, then touch my glass to his, then Alex's, then Em's, "Yes. To beauty and pleasure. Both to be held in high regard."
  • Utseo, Ludo squints and bites his lip as you return the toast, staring you down with hungry eyes. It would seem he's quite interested in you...

    == SCREEN WIPE ==

    A few hours later, you're all on a private jet flying at Mach 2 headed for the Free City.

    Utseo, Ludo has spent the last few hours trying to chat you up. Emily has been nearby of course, but Ludo seems exclusively interested in you. What have you gleaned from him about his work in your brief conversations?

    Emily, Ludo is going on about this party Edgar planned. "Apparently, DJ Tone Deaf is scheduled to play, and he'll be unveiling some major news about his vision for the Hoefler cloud. It's all supposed to be quite posh. I've been invited of course, and I could always pull some strings to get you invites as well..." the inflection in his voice is so easy to spot, it's like you're reading a book. He wants a little quid pro-quo.

    Alex, Ludo has been eyeing you curiously all night. He hasn't made you, but he's certainly awfully curious about where he's seen you. Of course, his stewardess has been eyeing you too. She's a young thing who finds you quite fetching. She thinks you've been going to the back room to visit her — what's actually back there that catches your eye?
  • [Utseo]

    I've played my part as well as possible. I'm no deep cover spy, so I keep to the edges of truth. I compliment his taste in decor, since he has a good eye for color as well as a passion for the finer things in life. I also indulge a bit in his attention, not romantically, of course. But I let him serve me fine food, I even imbibe a few extra drinks. He's not such a bad fellow, once I look past his predatory gaze.

    As for what I've gleaned, he's surprisingly unaware of the milspec operations of OCP. He seems like a harmless enough person, but I plant a seed about OCP, feeding him a few dirty secrets. He doesn't have the clearance to do much of anything, but he might be able to ask around. I'm hoping to charm him enough to plant a seed that I can cultivate later.

    By now, I'm intoxicated enough to be numb to his over attentions, but not so much that I'm ineffective if need be. I've loosened up a bit, smiling more, even dancing while we're talking. "Is this DJ Tone Deaf's music we're listening to?" I ask the room. Of course, I grin at Em, I heard her complaining about him.
  • [Emily]
    My cheerful smile doesn't falter. "I do still need a date to the Angel Gala." An annual event, put on by the corpses at GatoCorp. GatoCorp is the place where the elite go for flesh realistic mechanical upgrades and body sculpting. They also have a rep for helping out smaller companies by absorbing them - usually ones with good data, regardless of industry or mission. The Gala is an ultraglitter party that they use to court their potential acquisitions, and as such, is very exclusive. I have been invited to add celebrity cred, and I'm going to make sure a friend doesn't cap.

    I pout girlishly at Utseo, for Ludo's benefit. "Why? Do you like it?" I get up and walk to the back, where the Media Command is. I put on an old track by one of my favorite artists, an instrumental dance beat meant to emulate a butterfly caught in a spider's web. I kick off my spiral heels, and begin to flow down towards Utseo. I slip against his chest, take his hand, and move with him to the music. "Isn't this better?" I ask, with a flirty smile as my torso snakes. I do this with almost no forethought, selling my cover to the buyer, and as I find myself deliberately brushing my breasts against his chest (because thighs are no good here), I am shaken by how easily I'm slipping back into the everybody's nobody that I once was. I hide it by slipping off the fabric around my head, allowing the styled waves to fall into my face.
  • edited June 2013

    I suppress a chuckle when Em takes the bait and immediately switches the music. I guess we have our revised pecking order. Alex picks on me, I pick on Em. It's a new pattern, not at all like old times. Interesting.

    Emily cavorts over to me, playing the part and playing with me. God, she is so exquisite, so naturally beautiful. I'd kept track of her over the years, not that it's that hard due to her fame, but even though I've seen her in trids and simsense concert re-plays, nothing matches the real thing. She is unearthly, even more now than before, aging gracefully like an incredibly rare wine.

    She moves as well as I, maybe better. I feel her purposeful brush against my flesh, she chose that, she knows where I am sensitive, where I am weak. A revision to the pecking order, perhaps? Yes, I am below her when she does this. Not complaining.

    I see how she shakes her hair into her face, falling into character. I hate when she does that, sublimating herself, pushing down the wonder that is her and becoming the agent. I hand my glass to Ludo and slide into her, matching her movements with flesh and chrome, both honed to perfection even now. We move together like a matched pair, like the yin and the yang. I place one hand on her left hip, needing to indulge in her movements, her warmth. My right hand brushes hair away from her right cheek, then behind her neck, gently, but insistently urging her to look into my eyes. "Much better, Em. Much."

    If you're going to dance with me, I will to her silently, drawing her eyes into mine as we dance sensuously, then you will dance with me, Emily Syndrome..
  • [Alex]

    Passing a sideways glance over at Utseo and Em, I mask my true feelings about all of that and head to the backroom.

    I smile to the girl there. She was attractive, with a hint of vulnerability that so many men find attractive. It worked on me too, but it saddened me with a memory. I show none of that on my face.

    A section of the back wall stores a hard line to the virtual access interface for the navigation system. Three good breaks and I own this thing. Good thing, too. It'll keep my mind off of what's going on outside.
  • OOC: Stunt dice to Rich for making me have to think so damn hard before my next post.
  • [Emily]

    I love the person I've become. I have worked hard to get where I am, and the offer - no, demand - in Utseo's eyes is seductive. What I thought I would always want to see. Spending time with someone who would be willing to dig through all of the women and girls I've wrapped around myself.

    But I'm on the job, and I can't convince myself to be anything less than the best I can be. One slip in the lie can unravel it. I hope he understands that.

    I retreat further, let my eyes glass a little as if I'm pretty buzzed, and subtly move so his hand grazes my ass. I make a playful laugh and bat at his hand, skipping away. "Ludo, he is so naughty!" I plop into a seat next to one of his blonde young things, resting my head on his shoulder.
  • OOC: Take a stunt die for that bad ass secret you've got Alex! You too, Em for keeping things professional!

    Emily, the blonde doesn't look overly impressed. "You are quite a good dancer," he says in his thick German accent, "but don't think you have me fooled. I know you, Emily Syndrome — and I know about the anarchistic undertones you've weaved into your art. I have been following your scene for quite some time now, and I find your most recent influences quite ... Risky."

    He holds out his hand, "Hildrich Krueger. I study contemporary art at the KW in Berlin."

    Utseo, "Ah, fantastic!" Ludo says as he gets up. He pulls his second boy-toy up with him, and starts dancing — though arguably more with you than his friend. He's surprisingly limber, considering his age, and he calls out to you over, "those are some very capable upgrades you have — you move more naturally in them than most men I know with their original legs."

    He gradually dances his way over to you, and asks, "forgive me for being so forward, but I have not met a man who has undergone such extensive procedures before. Did you... You know..." he motions vaguely towards your belt, "get the whole operation done? I've heard stories of men who lost their legs in battle who end up losing much more — and I've always been curious how they cope..."

    Alex, you manage to find a minute when the stewardess is too busy to come and ask you questions, and it's just you alone with the connection. If you want to try and hack the system, it would be difficulty 3... Hit it, and you'd own a supersonic jet.
  • edited June 2013
    Setting down to work, I go to hack the entire system. The goal here is to keep a series of command subroutines within the main network so I can repossess the nav when necessary.

    From a roll perspective:
    Burglar + Stealthy, Hotwire, Quick, Perceptive, and I'll add a stunt die.

    (Rolled: 6D6. Rolls: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1. Total: 6)
  • OOC: Looks like my luck with dice rolling continues
  • edited June 2013

    Emily bats it away, staying in character, ever the professional. She's wiser than I, of course. I shouldn't have been so forward, this is all part of the game. But still, she needs to know I am working with her, for who she is. She knows that now. That will be important to her, as important as it is to me. I've missed these people, this family.

    When she pretends I got frisky, I give the room a guilty look, then a naughty smirk. And we continue on with our roles.

    Later, Ludo asks me about my legs. This is unfortunate, I'm normally quite capable of hiding them in polite company, but the dance must have betrayed me. Only Emily can move that way in the legs we're born with, the rest of us have to cheat with technology.

    I give Ludo a serious look. Not offended, embarrassed or ashamed. I give him the look that this is not a discussion to be shared. But I will be open with him, "I have lost nothing. I have given up much. My body is as much machine as flesh, and I experience the world in new and alien ways, Ludo. It was not a decision I made lightly. Do not worry. I'm quite comfortable with myself. My tastes and desires have not dissipated, but they have... adjusted to suit my new existence." There, Em. I can flirt, too. I'm sure that will keep Ludo buzzing for a bit.

    I suppress the need to roll my eyes right now. This is the part of the job where I like to wallflower and watch Em work the crowd. Damn her for putting me in the forefront like this. Exposed. Arm Candy. Alex should be the mouthy arm candy, flirting with Ludo and his retinue. Where is Alex, by the way? I haven't seen him in...
  • Alex, You're bypassing the last of the security checks manually when you realize the whole of the plane's operating system is checksummed, and it's requiring your constant attention in order to bypass it. You were just about home free when you hear a gasp behind you followed by the *clang* of a metal serving dish hitting the floor and the sound of glasses being shattered.

    It strains your attention just enough to pull you out of the stream mid-correction, and your HUD is now locked out . The stewardess, Nadia Kanina, is standing behind you — her hands clasping her mouth in shock, and eyes wide in what appears to be terror. Take the condition: Revealed.

    Utseo, Ludo hangs on your every word, and you can see a hint of a smirk cross his face when you hint at flirting — the game, it would appear, is on for him.

    Utseo & Emily, you hear something like a metal serving dish hit the floor loudly in the adjacent room (behind the curtain), and Ludo's patience is tested. "Now what is this?" he says with a sigh, and starts making his way over to the curtain separating the room where Alex slipped into.

    What do you do?
  • [Alex]
    "I'm sorry to scare you, Nadia." I say with soft expression, "but we have a bigger issue. The security on this aircraft's avionics is rubbish." I rise from my interface point and walk through the curtain and nearly into Ludo on his approach.

    "Mr Ludo, I apologize for the disturbance, but there's something I need to talk to you about," I state. My tone reflects the kind of demeanor I would expect from Utseo in this situation. He's the cool, calm one in a crisis.

    "Do you recall sir when you said I looked familiar?" I ask. My gaze darts to Em and Utseo in a subtle ask to play along. "You met me at one of your gala parties three years ago on Atlantica. It was the Summer Solstice festival, if I'm not mistaken. I worked cyber-security from one of the contractors for the live streams."

    I gesture to my armlet, which still shown the security checkpoint locks I broke on my way through the aircraft OS. "Ms. Em is dear to me, sir. So much so that I wanted to ensure her safety on the travel over. The security session locks on your aircraft's system possess at least 13 vulnerabilities for the average hacker. With a little know-how and a tight beam transmission, they could have brought this plane down easily."

    I look away, showing vulnerability. "Someone very dear to me died from such a hack, sir. When I saw the issue, I wanted to seal the security holes. I didn't want to bother anyone's good time, so I thought I'd just take care of it."

    I look over at Ludo with sad eyes. "I think my heart outweighed my better judgment sir. I hope you can forgive me for this transgression."
  • [Utseo]

    OOC: Stunt Die to Alex for such a bald-faced lie. I hope you pull it off.
  • edited June 2013
    Alex, Ludo eyes you cautiously, and looks down to your armlet just to make sure you're not lying — of course he's not a security expert, so you could have told him his plane has the software equivalent of crabs and he might have believed you... Still, this is you we're talking about, and you're damn good at talking your way out of things...

    He looks to Nadia and shakes his head, "Nadia, I need you to be more careful with those glasses — I'm guessing that wine soaking into my fine upholstery is worth about 300 credits per glass. Would you please get the tools to clean it?" Then he turns back to Hildrich's brother Aldrich, and smiles, "My dear boy, would you mind fetching the co-pilot? Mister ... Hayes, was it? Mister Hayes here has a few security vulnerabilities I want plugged immediately."

    He turns back to you and nods graciously, then returns through the curtain to the sofas in the front room. Nadia does not look pleased in the slightest, but she dares not protest. She just quietly goes back to the service room and starts opening compartments to clean up the mess.

    Hit your Key of the Conman for making Ludo believe you were only trying to help.

    OOC: Is there anything else you'd like in this scene before we land in Free City?
  • [Utseo]

    I followed behind Ludo at a distance where I seemed only like a mildly interested party-goer. I was ready to step in with violence if needed, but Alex pulls it through with some quick words. When Ludo buys Alex's cover, I relax slightly.

    At Ludo's mention of the wine, I glance at the bottle. Oh my, it's a bottle of Petrus, from Pomerol, France, of course. Three hundred credits per glass? The wine itself is that much, so double his expenses from that spill, more likely "Ah, Ludo, Petrus? What a waste of such a fine vintage, Alex! I swear, we can't take you nice places. Such a pity." I enjoyed the canapes and crudites with the Dom Perignon Oenotheque Rose, but this would have been a delight. I could dive into the feasts here and not come up for air.
  • Utseo, hit your Key of the Bon Vivant. Nicely done!
  • [Emily]

    My eyes clear up, and I'm pleased to hear an intelligent opinion about my art.
    "I'm so glad you've noticed! Most don't - they see the surface, or something else entirely. It must mean we are of a similar mindset." I flash an intermediately charming smile. "I don't understand why you'd be concerned about it - the point is anarchy on a small scale. Sleep on the opposite side of the bed, take a different way to work, dye your hair. Encourage people to embrace the change they can inspire within themselves, to-" I'm cut off by the commotion. Shit, what is Alex up to? I keep my face relaxed, only slightly curious, then move it through the appropriate soft reactions to Alex's feigned distress.
  • Emily, Hildrich stops to watch the commotion in the other room as well, but quickly returns to the conversation with you when things blow over. "I understand, but the change you insist is so minimal that the significant changes could be undone by external factors, such as adapting cultural influences from the Megacorps or the Technocracy. It's a long con with high risk. Unless you're planning to step things up, that is..."

    Alex, they've probably got your HUD's MAC address logged on their machines... Best to change that. When was the last time you got caught during a big con, and how did you manage to walk away?

    Utseo, Ludo nods gravely, as if he's mourning the loss of a son. "Yes, it was a fantastic year too. Fortunately I have a bottle of Aberfeldy 21 on hand as well — can I tempt you with that? Or perhaps a glass of Don Julio Reposado? I have been saving it for a special occasion..."
  • [Utseo]

    Now this man is talking my language. "A glass of Reposado? I've only read of it, Ludo, only seen the bottle at a gentleman's club in San Futuro. I would love a glass!" Did I sound overly eager? I didn't fake that one. It is said to be exquisite. I see Em has joined us, and Alex's lie held. Our work can continue. Excellent.
  • [Alex]

    After squaring things away with the co-pilot, I update the MAC address of my hardware through the custom written algorithm I've put together. This situation was very reminiscent of the job on the Pacifica. There it was industrial espionage. There was also a woman involved. Interestingly enough, before today, it was the last time I let someone get in my head to such an extent as to affect my work. I was very different then.

    I took a shot in the shoulder from my escape. I managed to retrofit my own spider harness with some repulsor currents. It let me dive off the edge of the ship and survive the impact to the waves below. I succeeded in the job, more or less, but it left a scar on my body as well as my psyche.
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