[NOVA] Acqui-Hire (K 2.13, M 2.9)

edited September 2014 in NOVA

So, it's set. Csorba waited outside the Noodletime until Lana showed up at a few minutes after one o'clock, then made contact while she was slurping her ramen picante at the counter. Dinner tonight with Yu is at the newest culinary hotspot, Surge. She has no information on the security detail yet, but assures you that she'll try to point out the "undercover" guy if and when she can. Any sort of wire or transmitter is out of the question — Lucidus security is top-notch.

As to Church and Csorba, they have some disagreement about goals and means. As far as Csorba's concerned, simply grabbing the scientist and getting off-planet with him and Lana is fine. Church, however, feels that Psi Corps' interests will not be served unless Yu's research is recovered, as well.

It's seven in the evening, and you're deployed. Ksenia, where are you? Are you and Church together? This is a very fancy place. Are you wearing the dress?

How about you, Mei? Lucidus certainly has your image on file, but you're certain you didn't raise any red flags while you were there. It's absolutely in character that you and your "companion" would be at Surge for dinner, and Yu's picture is on the corporate site.

OOC: Maybe the two of you will want to talk between you to decide on roles and positions and such, before posting.


  • edited September 2014
    Church and I are "together", yes. Posing as a bodyguard gives me a chance to carry some kind of weapon. Not much of one, since I'm wearing "the dress". We're at a table with a good viewing angle of the table reserved for Lana and Yu. I have my butterfly knife hidden in a tiny compartment on my leg, and Church has a couple pistols, including mine.

    I suggested to Csorba that he remain our eyes and ears outside the place, and I know Red will keep an ear on comm traffic from the Jane. We've got a vehicle outside. I hope we can just nab Yu and Lana and book it.
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    I make it clear to Csorba that Yu's research will be vital to ultimate success. Given the intel from Lana, I will want to be onsite in the restaurant, positioned to have a good view of the area. If I need to stay in character, there's other investments and stocks and plots on my pad. The numbers game is mildly interesting, like a puzzle to be untangled.

    I'm wearing a gauzy silver number with subtle streaks of dark blues and purple. Dai picked it out for me; it's very flattering.

    I'm only ordering vegetarian this night, paired with water and whatever teas I can order. Surge is very chic.
  • edited September 2014

    You're settled in, waiting for a few minutes. They're incoming, flanked by two big uglies. I'll keep an eye for the incognito third, but they might already be inside.

    They arrive, Lana stunning in a form-fitting white sequined dress and the scientist looking disheveled despite a formal evening suit that someone has tried to tailor to suit him. The bodyguards are in unrelieved black, not attempting subtlety as one stations himself stiffly near the door and the other following as his charges are whisked to one of the best tables, central and with a view to the open kitchen.

    Lana is good, Ksenia, her eyes pass over you without hesitation. She knows you're there, though, you're certain she did see you. The second bodyguard stands agains the wall nearest their table.

    They're big, these guys, with a dangerous way of moving that implies serious training.

    No obvious followers. If there's a third shadow, they're already inside.

  • edited September 2014

    This is the big time, Mei. You've got this. Just like in training.

    I'll reach out with my psi to get a read from Yu and Lana. If Yu is our target, then any edge for negotiation will be a significant advantage. Will this be a simple case of doubling the money, or making him his own boss? Or if Lucidus has a hold on him somehow, or worse yet the Fingers, then that's intel we will need to succeed.
  • edited September 2014

    Mei, you get a sense that Lana is nervous, frightened, and maybe a little turned on by the adrenaline rush. Yu reads strangely, though. He's definitely under stress, and afraid of something, but there's also something just plain off about him. He doesn't read as if he's a psionic himself, but you do get some of the echo you remember from practicing techniques with other recruits at Psi Corps.

    OOC: I'll post a challenge for the roll against Yu.

    Basic Challenge: 3d8. It's a crowded room and a critical moment for you.

    (Rolled: 3d8. Rolls: 7, 6, 1. Total: 14)

    Jax Yu: 2d6. There's something going on with that brain.

    (Rolled: 2d6. Rolls: 5, 1. Total: 6)

    Feel free to take a d8 for help from Cora, but if you do, she's going to be "awake" for the scene, and may have her own agenda.

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    Discovery - d10 - I can't hide my curiosity. I don't often dive into other minds for a host of reasons.
    Comms - d6 - This procedure is a little deeper than just reading a person, but it's still a person.
    Alien-Enhanced Psionic - d8 - Sometimes, it really is like swimming...
    Lourdes - d6 - If I want to help Dinah — or anyone — with psi therapy, I've got to get better at reading people.

  • Discovery - (Rolled: 1d10. Rolls: 5. Total: 5)
    Comms - (Rolled: 1d6. Rolls: 5. Total: 5)
    Alien-Enhanced Psionic - (Rolled: 1d8. Rolls: 5. Total: 5)
    Lourdes - (Rolled: 1d6. Rolls: 3. Total: 3)

  • edited September 2014
    [OOC: 5+5 = 10. Spending 1PP to keep an extra die from Lourdes. 13 total, no ones for you.]
  • edited September 2014
    I look over at Church, smile like we're having a normal conversation, "Hey boss, think if I walk over to chat with Lana on my way to the ladies' room that it might flush out the third guard?"
  • edited September 2014

    Mei, you receive a jumble of impressions from your read of Yu, some more savory than others. Cora stirs at some, but remains quiet.

    the taste of mina's nipples

    el tejón screaming, spittle flying from his mouth, threats and imprecations

    athena on schedule despite the deaths

    the new truluv cocktail i tried tonight is off need to refine

    OOC: for the rest of this mission, Mei may add a d6 to any roll to understand, convince or threaten Jax Yu.

  • Church gives you a nod, Ksenia, "Good plan. I'll keep an eye out, see what you stir up."

    So, how do you handle this? Lana and Yu aren't exactly on the way to the restrooms.

  • edited September 2014
    With a smile, I pat Church's hand. "Thanks, Dunk." That's my pet name for his pseudonym. I'll hop up from the table and make my way straight over to their table. I put on this nervous, but excited expression and stand near the table for a moment of hesitation. Then, "You... you're Mina, right? The dancer?" I move closer, trying to look like maybe I'm a bit of a fan. "I've seen you, right? It's been a while... when was your last show?"
  • Lana looks at you with startled eyes. "Yes. Well, I'm doing less dancing now. I'm the Artistic Administrator for the company, but... I did dance the Black Swan in our new low-G Swan Lake last season."

    Both bodyguards have moved to full-on ready stances, but neither takes a step.

    Ksenia, why don't you give us a roll to see what you and Church notice? He can give you a d8 for this, since he's on point and ready for the job.

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    d10 Bravery - I'm adapting and improvising here
    d6 Science - It's like a little science experiment, I'm introducing an unknown element to see how it reacts

    d8 Church - I'm relying on him.

    d8 Asset Church - He's backing me up.

    Basic: 2d8 (you're a pro, and you've prepared for this)
    (Rolled: 2d8. Rolls: 4, 4. Total: 8)

    Lucidus Security: 2d8 (unfortunately, so are they)
    (Rolled: 2d8. Rolls: 4, 2. Total: 6)

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    (Rolled: 1d10. Rolls: 6. Total: 6) Bravery
    (Rolled: 1d6. Rolls: 5. Total: 5) Science
    (Rolled: 1d8. Rolls: 7. Total: 7) Church Relationship

    (Rolled: 1d8. Rolls: 7. Total: 7) Asset Church

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    That's a 14. No 1's.
  • Well, Ms. Fancy-Pants, that's a resounding success and you get a d8 BDH die, if you don't already have one.

    It's Church that spots the third Lucidus man. You hear him in the earpiece: End of the bar, dressed in the lavender suit. Went for something under his jacket when you approached, before he saw you talking to Mina.

    You, on the other hand, see something else entirely. Sitting at a table near the door, with a casual but intent focus on Yu and Lana, is Eva Garza, a Melzer-Togawa operative that you worked with twice. She sees you, too, and you see her eyes take in the space where your arm should be.

    What do you do?

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    "Ooh, the Black Swan? I'll need to look that up and watch it. Sounds amazing." I coo, hamming it up. What? I took an online drama course once. I've read Stanislavski. Okay, okay, I mostly suck, but I feel like I'm pulling it off here.

    I act suddenly a little nervous, and excuse myself, heading off to the restroom. As I do, I call over the comm to Church, Mei, Csorba, all-call, "M-T agents here. Church, see Eva by the door? We need to move now, or we need to hold off. Either way, secrecy is not going to be very strong. She recognized me, and I know she'll know Church." Once I'm in the bathroom, I'm prepping to go out there and kick some ass.
  • edited September 2014

    I subvocalize to the team. "Copy, K. I'm making contact with Yu, everyone hold position."

    I psi-send to Yu.

    doctor jax yu do not panic / your life is in imminent danger from hostile corporate interests / your security team is inadequate / my team is here to extract you and your companion safely / and with a bigger paycheck / drop your fork if you understand

    I calmly take a bite of a fresh dinner roll.
  • edited September 2014

    You both see Jax Yu stiffen, eyes widening. Eyes meeting yours, Ksenia, he drops his fork.

    What do you do?

  • edited September 2014

    I subvocalize to the team. "The fork's the signal, he's in."

    This Venusian Hibiscus Mint is rather good.
  • Church straightens just a touch. On the headset, Csorba asks, Let me know if you want me inside. I'll keep your exit open otherwise.

    Dinah says, Keep safe, boys and girls. The Jane wants you back whole.

    Everyone's ready, and your team is good. What do you do?

  • edited September 2014

    I send love and confidence and joy to Ksenia: don't show off on my account

    Followed by a subvocalized, "What about the back entrance? Can you use it?" I can arrange for a distraction if I have to, but the plan is to keep my cover intact if we need to get back in. If Yu and this Lana person can arrange what looks like a washroom quickie, Ksenia can extract and exfiltrate with a minimum of alarms raised.

    I consider the evening's fruit and cheese plate offerings.
  • edited September 2014
    I slide the butterfly knife out of the compartment and check in, "I've got a knife. I can take down one easy. Second and third will be a little tricky." I flip the butterfly knife open and closed a few times with nervous anticipation. I'm a junkie for this shit.

    I catch a weird... sensation? Whatever. From Mei, I think. She chides me for showing off? Frak that, I'm not a show off. I'm a damn psychopath.

    Okay, maybe I'm going overboard in the self-talk. I'm a little hyped, a little wet.
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    "How about a fire alarm? Get Yu and Desrogiers out in the chaos?"

    I do a little people-watching in character, looking to see if the M-T operative contacts another patron. I don't expect that she's alone.
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    I continue flipping the knife in the bathroom. click-clack. Whip-flip click-clack. Frakking fire alarm.

    "If we pull it, we'll need to watch for MT back-up." Why don't I argue with Mei? She doesn't outrank me anymore. I'm not afraid of the fight. Never afraid of that. Am I worried about losing her?

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    "I'm eyes on, will advise. Shall I send them to the bathroom?" Do these subvocals capture the smirk?
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    Is she playing with me? "There's tile and shit in here, easier to clean up all the blood. Go for it." I joke back.

    "Who's pulling the alarm? Let's get this dance started."

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    I frown slightly. Is she making bad jokes? I shake my head, silly Ksenia.

    I psi-send to Yu:

    doctor jax yu / excuse yourself to the bathroom / my associate will escort you / tell mina desrogiers to wait
  • Mei, Eva stands up, starts walking toward the table with Yu and Lana, casually, as if she might be heading to the restroom herself.

    Church says over the comms, Fuck it. If no one else pulls the damned alarm, I will. Sorry, I meant, darn it. He stands, walks toward the restrooms, suits actions to word. The klaxon is amazingly loud.

    What do you do?

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    I'm moving out, in the chaos, my hand down, knife in there. I'm looking for Yu and Lana, and I'm knifing any of the four who try to stop me.
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    Wow, that is really really unnecessarily loud. We're on a planet!

    Making this up as I go, I will head out, sort of, but walk to intercept Desrogiers if Yu heads to the bathroom. I trust K can handle the M-T goon. I kick myself mentally, I should've scanned for another operative before the alarm went off. Dammit, Mei! No time for what-ifs, it's time to move.
  • edited September 2014

    Ksenia, the brawny bodyguard closest to the restroom reads you as a threat and moves to intercept as Yu stands and makes his way toward the restrooms. Lana is pinned to the table like a moth in a collection case. Eva stands, also, as does the lavender-suited third Lucidus man, and two unknowns across the dining room.

    Mei, you see the same, but the lingering connection with Yu screams, What the hell?

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    Brawny is damn right to consider me a threat. I'm flipping the knife around with some flash, trying to get his eyes. Then, one-two, I'm slashing. Neck, right thumb.

    I'm not even left-handed, prick.
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    Fast, Mei! I'm moving along with the rest of the diners, looking around, marking all the players.

    Subvocal: "Csorba! Get in here, get Desrogiers out!"

    I spot the M-T goons and get ready to hit them with my psi.

    Don't think about Ksenia, Mei. She's good.
  • So, there are some rolls, here.

    Ksenia, Your Challenge, starting from the first big thug, is as follows. If you beat my roll by 3, you can take care of 2 of the 3. If you beat it by 5, some way or another, the 3rd goon is out of the picture.

    Basic: Outnumbered, but not outclassed. (2d8)
    (Rolled: 2d8. Rolls: 5, 5. Total: 10)

    Beyond: Lucidus' training and experience. (2d8)
    (Rolled: 2d8. Rolls: 3, 7. Total: 10)

    Mei, beyond Eva, the other M/T operatives are simple. Your challenge is to deal with her, the primary threat. If you beat my roll by 3, the non-Eva M/T muscle is disabled. If you beat my roll by 5, you'll also disable Eva.

    Basic: Three targets, one purpose. (3d8)
    (Rolled: 3d8. Rolls: 6, 6, 3. Total: 15)

    Beyond: M/T trained, but not ready for the pushback. (1d6)
    (Rolled: 1d6. Rolls: 2. Total: 2)

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    d10 Bravery - I am literally taking a knife to a gun fight
    2d10 Security - Protecting Lana and Mei
    d8 Veteran of the Aenid Cluster Conflict (also using the Fighter trigger-type thingie)
    3d6 Mei - I'm challenging this relationship. She is my wonderful lover, but there's so much more to work out.

    (spent 1 PP for Fighter)
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    (Rolled: 1d10. Rolls: 6. Total: 6) Bravery
    (Rolled: 2d10. Rolls: 1, 4. Total: 5) Security
    (Rolled: 1d8. Rolls: 4. Total: 4) Veteran of the Aenid Cluster Conflict
    (Rolled: 3d6. Rolls: 4, 4, 4. Total: 12) Mei
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    Duty - d10 - Eyes on task, Mei!
    Security - d8 - The best offense is not letting them see who hit you.
    Alien-Enhanced Psionic - d8 - Prisms and seashells and lava snowflakes with the sound of pepper and the textury feeling of putting your hands in uncooked rice.
    Ksenia - d10 - This and more I would do for her.

  • Duty - (Rolled: 1d10. Rolls: 4. Total: 4)
    Security - (Rolled: 1d8. Rolls: 7. Total: 7)
    Alien-Enhanced Psionic - (Rolled: 1d8. Rolls: 8. Total: 8)
    Ksenia - (Rolled: 1d10. Rolls: 4. Total: 4)
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    (Rolled: 1d8. Rolls: 3. Total: 3) Big Damn Hero die

  • edited September 2014
    With best two dice (6 and 5) and BDH (3), my total is a 14. I'll spend a PP to add in another die (4) to bring it up to 18.

    I take down all three goons. I'll tell you how in a little bit.

    Oh, there's a one in there, GM.
  • [OOC: 7+8+4=19, spending a PP to keep an extra die. And zero ones for you.]
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    The brawny guy is the first in my line of fire, like I said. He's still pulling out his big pistol when I flip-flip my butterfly knife to cause him to flinch just a second. His hand's still moving, but his head jerks back, just enough. I slash out with my knife, drawing the edge across his neck. It's a fatal slash, I know it, deep down, he does, too. But his body is still moving, so I pull the knife back, and slash down at his thumb. The tendons tear away and I see he's dropping the gun, he'll be dead before he can draw another weapon, so I continue moving forward, planting my left foot to his side and pivoting.

    Look, Lana, I'm dancing.

    My movement throws me towards the second obvious guard. I'm playing it like I didn't see the third, trusting that Church has my back. He has my SigSauer, so he better! This one's cybered up a bit, I can see him tweak up a notch, moving quickly. His gun is out already and he's drawing a bead. I use my momentum to throw myself to the floor, into a forward somersault. He thought I'd come up high, or just keep running, but I'm not an idiot.

    BAM! BAM! Two shots where I was a fraction of a second earlier, and he's already adjusting. BAM! Just behind me on the floor, but I've closed the distance. I'm on him. He's frakked. Not in the good way.

    I finish the tumble low, hand in front, feet planted. Like a pit viper, I lash out with two quick strikes on the inside of his knees, severing ligaments and metal fibers. I feel the not-flesh with my swipe. He's not going down easy.

    BAM! I figure that's the shot that did me in, but I'm not feeling anything. I must be so pumped with adrenalin that I didn't feel it. I keep moving. I plant my right foot and spring up from my crouch, butterfly knife swinging in an arc for his wrist. I connect with it, and again, the bastard is wired there, too. Damn, he's a frakkin' vat job or something. Taller than me, wider than me, he's got weight and speed. I've done in his gun hand, but he puts a hand around my throat and starts to squeeze. He snatched me out of the air, and if I don't move fast, he'll either crush my throat or throw me up like skeet and shoot me out of the air.

    My first instinct is to grab at his hand, grip it to give myself some air. But my training tells me that's a victim's reaction. I am NO victim. I know without looking where his body is. He'll use his right arm to defend his vitals while choking me with his left. So I stab three times as fast as I can, straight ahead - gut gut, chest. It's enough. His right hand drops, and that's all I need. I jam the knife in his adam's apple, leave it there.

    He twitches and his hand loses its grip around my throat. I fall to the floor, and I'm already trying to land like a cat. His gun hits the ground beside me, and I'm reaching for it while scanning. Where did he shoot me? Where's the third guard? Where's Mei?

    As I slap my hand on the pistol, my eyes tell me three awesome things. I'm not shot. Church shot the third guard. Mei's doing just fine, thank you.

    That's when I glance at the gun in my hand. Ares Predator Mark IV? Frakking hell, this is a sweet gun. I'm totally keeping it.
  • edited September 2014

    This is the world's worst dance club.

    I'm dressed to the nines, in this wonderful grey gauze that makes the most of my slight curves. I can feel the long muscles in my legs and ass moving purposely as I walk to the flashing strobes. I hear the hideously loud klaxon of the fire alarm, so different from a ship's alarm, as though they engineer it to cause stress and panic. I can even hear the faint light classical jazz over the audio system between pulses. The cool stem of my iced tea glass is between my fingers, the sweet and tangy hibiscus zing still on my lips as I watch the crowd, the chaos, the combat. Ksenia is a dervish of deadly speed, almost a dance of her own.. I haven't seen her quite this vicious before, and it makes me start. One part of me is wondering why we've never gone dancing together, and if I'll be able to cut a rug with her without seeing the spray and spatter of hot blood. I meet her eyes, nibbling at my lip. She turns me on and scares me, and the thrill reminds me I'm alive. I want to fight alongside her, too.

    I'm pushing a few of the more startled and elderly patrons out, helping them to move along, muttering calm move-alongs. Desrogiers happens to be in that mix, and I quietly guide her in the direction of Csorba, giving him a look and a nod as my hands brush her to the doorway.

    And the well is open inside me.

    I look for that deep pool of power that held back a planet and let it out like breaking the surface of a lake after a swimming under the ice. You got this, Mei.

    surmisedly coquillage haemopoiesis reseed unprepossessing plateau misclaim jared shapeable unenunciated adenoma guerrilla swing houstonia hecaleius emeritus protrusive unexplosive woodscrew

    Any sensitives can feel the raw power surge along the crowd, too fast too do anything more than make a few stumble. Collateral damage is not on the table. Some will get flashes of fuzzy smooth sounds, or tastes that hurt your eyes, or the feeling of colors behind their knees. But I focus it, pushing the power to seek out the Metzger-Togowa operatives like iron fillings to a huge electromagnetic coil. But Church's slugthrower distracts most of the patrons and people start moving to get the hell out.

    I hear one of the unknowns bark out a cry and she slowly falls to her knees, trying to cover her eyes and ears at the same time. Her partner must be more sensitive, I watch him dropping like I cut the strings of a toy. He eyes roll crazily and he twitches some. The one that Ksenia named as Eva stumbles into a table, gloriously plated cuisine raining down on her as she tries to grab her bearings and fails. She goes down, jabbering.

    Such a waste. I finish my tea and leave the glass on my way out.
  • edited September 2014

    After your flurry of activity, the room seems silent despite the alarm and the sobs of terrified patrons. You regroup at the car, Csorba already behind the wheel as Church finishes helping Yu into the back seat. It's a tight fit, but you planned for that. As soon as all the doors are closed, Csorba gets the car moving.

    There are a few questions to be resolved:

    Ksenia, what are the short term implications of your ballet of violence? Is anyone after you immediately? Is Lucidus, or what passes for law enforcement on Giana Prime, hot on your tail?

    Mei, in addition to your two new "guests," how much are you leaving Giana Prime with? How much of Yu's actual research and working materials have you managed to acquire?

    OOC: These will be two rolls. Challenge below.


    Basic Challenge (3d8): (Rolled: 3d8. Rolls: 5, 8, 6. Total: 19)
    You made a lot of noise, and at least three people are dead, not to mention the two that you nabbed.

    Lucidus Resources (1d6): (Rolled: 1d6. Rolls: 6. Total: 6)
    This would be higher if there was much in the way of law enforcement to coordinate with.


    Basic Challenge (2d8): (Rolled: 2d8. Rolls: 4, 3. Total: 7)
    Yu is cooperative, if confused, and can tell you precisely what you need.

    Lucidus Security (2d6): (Rolled: 2d6. Rolls: 5, 5. Total: 10)
    Even with Yu's help, Lucidus' resources are formidable on their own turf, whether electronic or physical.

  • edited September 2014

    Duty - d10 - We've acquired Yu for Psi Corps. Better than his discoveries open on the free market.\
    Leader - d6 - I'm taking point for this aspect.
    Plucky - d8 - We can make it happen!
    Dai - d8 - The clothes make the woman, evidently.

    Jax Yu - d6 - My psi hold is helping here.
  • edited September 2014
    d8 Duty - I took this mission for the Corps, I accept the consequences
    d10 Security - technically, that was protecting the crew. With extra effort and panache
    d4 Temper Distinction - (as a d4 for a PP to put in the SHARED DOC) I was a little over-the-top back there
    d4 Mei - yes, yes, I was trying to impress you, my little Mei
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    (Rolled: 1d8. Rolls: 8. Total: 8) Duty
    (Rolled: 1d10. Rolls: 3. Total: 3) Security
    (Rolled: 1d4. Rolls: 2. Total: 2) Temper Distinction
    (Rolled: 1d4. Rolls: 3. Total: 3) Mei
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    I got an 11, GM. Looks like somebody caught wind of it. Hot pursuit?

    By the by, our escape vehicle, does it have my cyberarm in it?
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    Okay, I'll spend a PP to up it to 14.
  • edited September 2014

    Duty - (Rolled: 1d10. Rolls: 3. Total: 3)
    Leader - (Rolled: 1d6. Rolls: 1. Total: 1)
    Plucky - (Rolled: 1d8. Rolls: 5. Total: 5)
    Dai - (Rolled: 1d8. Rolls: 6. Total: 6)

    Jax Yu - (Rolled: 1d6. Rolls: 5. Total: 5)
  • [OOC: 5+6= 11, with a tasty one from that leader die.]
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    As Csobra drives us off, I'm checking over everyone, making sure Yu and Lana are alright. I reach under the seat and pull out my precious, precious arm, start affixing the bolts and couplings. "Mei, you alright? Church?" They're okay, I just want a verbal, shows me they aren't in shock, mentally stuck.

    I love you, cyberarm. I missed you more than I ever expected. I hate using a salad fork with my left hand. I'd forgotten how much it totally sucked.

    I'm busy smirking over at Lana when she sees my arm, and me wiggling my fingers as it syncs up. Mei's on her tablet, working furiously on some programs. I'm not sure what, so I pull up my flexi-display and check.

    Three alarms were triggered. Vid feed. Damn. A real mess. But Taban re-routed the signal, turned it into a fire alarm. She's wiping the vid with a three hour old loop right now. Bad. Ass.

    I am so going to thank you later, lil Taban.
  • edited September 2014

    "Five by five, Monté. You?" If I sound a little distracted, it's because I'm working to keep our getaway clean. I'm very grateful Csorba was able to plant the electronic countermeasures when we got the Surge intel from this Lana character. I'm also in furious subvocal coordination with Dinah as we do some more cortex slicing, pulling down Yu's research and all data on project PC-7603, codename Athena. The executive summaries are very interesting... Provocative, one might say. We're able to get almost all the data, especially with a cooperative Yu being schmoozed by Church on behalf of Psi Corps.

    The material is a different matter. There's a few supply shipments I can reroute to dead drops for drone retrieval back to the Jane. It's very clean. The lab samples and original biological sources would require another team incursion to acquire. DNA sequences shall have to suffice.

    I snap my fingers triumphantly, sharing a laugh with Dinah and Zoo. The Jane will be receiving sizable shipment of street-packaged TruLuv and lab-ready synthetic paracognisine. Plenty to investigate and research.

    I'll probably be sleeping alone tonight anyway, since I expect Ksenia will be catching up with her childhood pal. Hmph. How is this Lana person reacting to Csorba, anyway?
  • After a stop at the safe-house Church arranged for, in order to tie up loose ends, you make it back to the ship and hugs from both Dinah and Zoo. Within a few hours, you're in orbit, ready to zip out at the first sign of threat.

    "Well, I call that a success." Church turns to Csorba. "Mr. Csorba, would you like to move your belongings into the cabin with me, so Ms. Peña can make herself at home?"

    The shipments you've electronically hijacked arrive within a day, and you're on your way out of the system's gravity well. You weren't able to rescue Lana and Yu's personal possessions, but ordered a limited replacement wardrobe for each, certainly good enough for the ship. Neither seems too concerned at the loss.

    Ksenia, Lana finds you in a quiet moment. "I'm not completely sure what has happened in the last day and a half, hermanita, but I'm grateful to you, and your friends. It's scary, though, thinking about making a new life, on my own, as much as I hated being squeezed by the Fingers. Am I really out, K?"

    Mei, Csorba pulls you aside. "Ah... Ensign Mei, excellent work. I'm very impressed with your skills and resourcefulness." He grins lopsidedly. "Although it is a shame we never had the opportunity to explore our covers more thoroughly."

  • edited September 2014
    We're in the gym, of course. I was running on the treadmill and she came in to do some yoga and stretching.

    "You'll need to roll on them, Lana." I answer solidly. "Csorba's here to get details on the murder you witnessed. The offer is witness protection. But, I promise I'll do what I can to add some extra security for you." I stop the treadmill, step off and over to her. I'm a little sweaty, I was running off some tension while Mei de-briefed. I come over to take Lana's hands with both of mine this time. I give her a half-smile, "Hermanita, I never abandoned you... at least, I never meant to. I thought you were happy. I wanted a better life, to get out of the barrios and the street gangs, you know? This was my only way."
  • image

    I'm in the common room, reading some of Yu's research, with pages and pads of my own notes spread about. It's deep stuff, and I have to really concentrate to follow the technical work. He's going to join me later for discussions. And yes, I'm careful to not meet with him in closed quarters. Voss' images flash in my head when I consider it.

    "Thank you, Mr. Csorba. I appreciate your contributions. You certainly know your electronic security!" I return his grin with a small, polite smile. "I've actually considering investing in Lucidus, you know. If there's a scandal with Polity Justice, there's a tidy sum to be made on that information." I cross my ankles under the table and tap a note on a datapad. The showers on the Jane do have cold water, Csorba.

    "How goes your case?"
  • edited September 2014

    Lana says, "Sedge has been very reassuring. He's actually quite sweet, don't you think? I know what I'm going to have to do in the courts, but he says a secure deposition is probably enough, to start."

    When you talk about why you left Mars, Lana puts a hand to your face, touching your cheek lightly. She slips back into that Martian trill. "Oh, Ksensia, mi hermanita hermosa y valerosa, I know that you didn't leave me. The trouble was only after you had gone. Forgive me for saying it?" She removes her hand, takes a deep breath that swells her leotard. She's tall, her eyes almost level with yours.

    "Do you remember how we used to dance, chica, out in the alley behind that bar, on Friday nights when Conjunto de Aragon was playing? I have never danced as freely in my life as I did then, with you. We'd sip on the bits of tequila left in the bottles they threw away..."

    She closes her eyes and starts to sway a little, humming low.

  • image
    I look away when she calls me beautiful. I could chalk up Mei's attraction to heroine worship or being attracted to my strong, ah, qualities since she's bi and likes boys. Dai I figured was just hard up for it and we had the cyber thing... and the self-diagnosis machine. Oh frak I love that machine. I need to give it a nickname. Because in my brain I call it "paradise machine" and that's kind of dumb.

    But this is Lana calling me beautiful. She knows me. From before. I was never beautiful like her, always a "bit boyish". But I was at least attractive then. Now? My face is scarred up, my arm, my leg. Frakking pizza side.

    I don't want to ruin the moment, so I push it aside. Ignore it. It's just a thing. I am what I am. I look at her. My hermanita Lana, free and maybe happy? That would be such a win.

    With a gentle touch, I reach out my right hand to her side. With my left, I reach for her right as I step closer. In a mocking husky tone like I used way back then when we danced together and I pretended to "be the boy", I say, "Give me one more dance, chica?" I know she will, she always did.

    No music but her humming. Old steps that seemed forgotten but come back like a reflex. We dance. She dances freely again.
  • image

    Csorba blows out a breath and sits, his entire posture and demeanor changing in an instant into something looser, less feral. "Taban, I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Nolan Lassiter. I grew up on the mining planet Seuden 10, until I was 16 standard years old, then worked my way to the home system on tramp freighters and passenger liners. I've been undercover for Organized Crime Division for 2000 of the last 2200 days. Even my identity as a 'real' agent of the OC Division is a fake." He shifts in his chair. "Csorba is an act. I'm not looking for anything from you. I just..."

    "I admire you, how you're coping with the things that turned your life upside-down and still being one-hundred percent the officer and person you were born to be. You're a rare person, Ensign Mei, and I couldn't say that as Sedge Csorba, not say it right. Forgive me for my behavior, or, try to, if you're willing."

  • Ksenia, you are thirteen, in the alley behind The Three Eyed Cat on a Friday night, a little tipsy off leavings of tequila.

    You and Lana are dancing like idiots, she's singing along to "Cielito Lindo" at the top of her lungs.

    Ay, yai, yai, yai,
    Canta y no llores,
    Porque cantando se alegran,
    cielito lindo, los corazones.

    The band moves into a slower ballad, dreamy and romantic. Bongos, keyboard, guitar. The female singer begins to croon "Solamente una vez" and your young mind has the realization that people have been dancing together to this song for hundreds of years.

    You reach out your right hand to Lana's side as she begins to hum along. With your left, you reach for her right hand and step closer. In the mocking, husky tone you use when you pretend to "be the boy", dancing together, you say, "Give me one more dance, chica?" And she does, of course she does. And at some point during the song, you start "practicing" again, eyes closed as your lips meet.

    Aboard the Stalker Jane, your old friend is there in your arms, swaying, her own eyes closed as she hums "Solamente una vez". Her dark eyes open and she's looking right into yours, Ksenia.

    What do you do?

  • image
    "Hermanita," I say in my normal, everyday voice, "I thought we'd never dance again." Her dark eyes draw me in. My right hand feels so nice on her hip. "You're so beautiful, Lana. You were adorable when we were kids... but now. You're amazing." Her right hand feels so warm in mine. I want to be drawn to her like before, but it's a little different now. I can't quite put my finger on why.
  • image

    "Wha...?" I was steeling myself for an unwanted physical advance, not an unmasking with raw flattery and admiration. I shake my head, squinting, confusion across my face, datapads and papers askew and forgotten. I'm not sure I believe him. "Why?" I can't even parse the compliment.

    I still think he may be trying to slip into my bunk, and instinctively, I scan him with my psi to get a read. Quick, as though a reflex.
  • Lana leans forward and gives you a sweet kiss on the cheek. A bit more than a peck, certainly, but friendly. "Hermanita, you are amazing. And fierce. And scary. And the best friend I've ever had. Truly. I will miss you when I am in my new life, but perhaps Sedge will tell you how to find me? I owe you a bottle of tequila and todos los bailes. You will have to tell me everything while we journey back to Sol." An impulsive hug.

    With a twinkle. "And I want to get to know your girrrlfriend better, too. I have some stories she should hear."

  • image
    The kiss was warm, and sweet and wonderful, just like Lana. My eyes narrow at her threat of stories. I shake my head a little, saying "no", but yeah, I'm grinning a little. "For every story about me, I'll tell her two about you, chica. Like the one about the Flash cola bottle. And Hector's ears. And the time you got fake drunk off what I told you was Cuervo..." I could go on. And on. Lana was always trouble. Why else would she be friends with a homeless street rat like me?
  • Mei, every mind is different, of course. They feel different, almost taste different. Csorba's (Lassiter's?) is twisty and multilayered, but it's only his instincts and habits fighting you, not his conscious efforts.

    He's not psionic, you would be able to tell, but he's clearly accustomed to intrusions and attempted intrusions in his brain. Once you get past the knee-jerk reactions, his mind is calm, strong. And yes, it's very Nolan Lassiter.

    As I said, Mei, he's not fighting you, he even seems to welcome it, this honest exposure. You get three questions, anything you want to ask.

  • image

    I tilt my head, mildy fascinated by the new person inhabiting a different person's body. "2000 days is very deep cover, Mister... Lassiter." I try the name out, it feels friendlier somehow. "There must be something that makes it worthwhile, that Csorba can do that Lassiter can't. Of all people, why be Csorba?"
  • edited September 2014

    Mei, Csorba/Lassiter's mind opens like a flower. His answer is honest, as he speaks it.

    "Csorba doesn't give a shit. That's the beauty. But, I've been living in his skin for so long, a shadow of a shadow... He can do what needs to be done, no questions, no regrets. I've been assured that I'm not crazy, but I'm not sure."

    He meets your eyes, open and welcoming.

  • edited September 2014

    "Why are you breaking cover to tell me all this?" I find that I'm leaning forward so I can talk a notch quieter. I can't hide my doubt, laced with suspicion from Csorba's past behaviour. If this is all true, the personality pressures that Lassiter must face after over five years of cover... and I thought Dinah needed therapy!
  • Lassiter

    "You're cleared, Taban, and you don't work for OCD. Here's the thing — Csorba's starting to show his age. Crack a little bit. The thing with hitting on you, and now he... I... have been making moves on Ms. Peña. That's not in-character. For an op, sure, but with a colleague or a friendly informant? Out of line, and out of character. That's one example. There are others. I thought, during the trip back, maybe you could help. In confidence, of course."

  • image

    Everyone wants in Ms. Peña's bunk, it seems. "Extremely out of line. Csorba really has a distasteful sense about him," What I mean is, Csorba's a slimeball. I'm nodding. "I never thought about it in quite these terms, but I suppose that OCD would have therapists for its cover operatives. That might be longer than you'd choose to wait, if the mask is cracking that much."

    My time as Misty Brown was almost like acting, but not for entertainment. I wouldn't want to be her for an extended time, but it had a certain thrill to it.
  • Lassiter

    "It would be some weeks, yes. Also, I would rather not expose this weakness to my employers. I live for my work in the field, Taban, and they would certainly have me driving a datapad for months if not years."

    He looks at you. Calm and tired and more than a little sad.

  • image

    My finger taps my cheekbone, I'm untangling this problem. Aha! "So you just need to work in the field... not as Csorba. He needs to retire, not you."
  • Lassiter

    "Csorba cannot retire, Ensign Mei. My contract has ten years left, and it's very specific on that point. He needs to be... fixed." He scratches an ear. "Are you willing to help me... shore him up?"

  • image

    I clear a spot on the worksurface, moving things aside to make room. "I'd like to help... but no more lies, Mr. Lassiter. If it's classified, forgotten, embarrassing, or makes either one of us uncomfortable, stand and deliver." I'm having a bit of cognitive dissonance with Lassiter's easy mannerisms versus Csorba's odd ones. Just think of him as an actor offstage, that slides into place with ease.

    Serendipity is where it turns up, Mei! I start making some notes. "Now, "shoring up." What do you have in mind?"
  • Lassiter

    "I understand that the original... structure that Csorba was formed around by the OCD Psis exists as its own thing, like a saved file within my mind. Maybe you could compare, fix the cracks where they're obvious? I'm not looking for a full-on renovation, just something to get me through a few more years."

    He scratches again, this time the other ear. "What do you need me to do?" He's taken your question as assent, apparently.

  • edited September 2014

    "Well," I say brightly, "I've never done this before. So relax, get comfortable, and don't panic!"

    I do a good job of hiding my trepidation, but I'm not perfect. I don't think I'll foul things up... or make Csorba more of a creep.
  • This is new territory, Mei, not something you've had formal training for. Let's see how it goes.

    Basic Challenge (3d8): You've never done anything at all this subtle before.
    (Rolled: 3d8. Rolls: 6, 5, 4. Total: 15)

    Csorba (2d8): This persona was built by people who do have the training, and it's got thousands upon thousands of hours of history.
    (Rolled: 2d8. Rolls: 2, 5. Total: 7)

    Lassiter wants to help. You may use a single d6 from his desire to keep it together in your roll. And Cora is definitely interested. There's a d8 there, again with the risk that she might not be so easy to put back to bed if you wake her up.

  • edited September 2014

    Discovery - d10 - This is uncharted territory for me... let's do it!
    Engineer - d10 - Psi therapy is a little science, a little psi, a little hot tea, and a lot of fixing people.
    Alien-Enhanced-Psionic - d4 - I can do subtle. Sure.
    [NB, gaining PP]
    Lourdes - 3d6 - She got me thinking on psi therapy, and I keep her kind advice in mind.
    [NB, Challenging]
    Cora - d8 - Cora can definitely do subtle.
    [NB, spending PP]
    Cora Box - d6 - The boffins will definitely want to look at how this goes.

  • Discovery - (Rolled: 1d10. Rolls: 3. Total: 3)
    Engineer - (Rolled: 1d10. Rolls: 10. Total: 10)
    Alien-Enhanced-Psionic - (Rolled: 1d4. Rolls: 4. Total: 4)
    [NB, gaining PP]
    Lourdes - (Rolled: 3d6. Rolls: 1, 1, 4. Total: 6)
    [NB, Challenging]
    Cora - (Rolled: 1d8. Rolls: 7. Total: 7)
    [NB, spending PP]
    Cora Box - (Rolled: 1d6. Rolls: 2. Total: 2)
  • [OOC: 10+7= 17 with two, count 'em two, juicy 1s for you.]
  • Mei, this may be your first attempt at this, but it seems you have a natural gift. You find the original pattern, the armature around which Csorba was constructed. You are able to find the cracks and patch them, smoothing out the wear and tear and shoring up the foundation.

    You have the opportunity, as you do this, to give Lassiter/Csorba a gift, to make one small change that will give him some advantage in the time to come. Do you? If so, what change do you make?

  • edited September 2014

    It's like crystal fire, fractally delicate and beautifully sharp. I dare not change anything significant to Csorba's armature. Lassiter really should get an annual psi therapy checkup, and I make a mental note to advise Psi Corps Command for the improvement of deep cover operatives' mental health regimens.

    It's an incredibly intimate moment, being so close to a personality. The boundaries between Lassiter and Csorba show as stark differences, Lassiter looking organic and grown, Csorba looking like a fuzzy set of angles, where he was constructed and then spent time growing... For over five years.

    I think I could boost his memory recall, or tweak Csorba's slime factor. If I had enough time, skill, and confidence, I could make another personality armature. Or any of a thousand questionably moral options. But I don't want to make him a killer or a sex puppet, or accidentally create a broken personality, doomed to a self-destructive fate. I shudder. This is a heady responsibility.

    For a long odd moment, I suddenly yearn for the simplicity of a routine flight or the honest pleasure of physical motion.

    I leave Lassiter intact.
  • Mei, after your ministrations, Lassiter quickly falls deeply asleep, which you know is not unusual. The mind requires solitude and time for reincorporation after deep psi work. You feel confident in the work you've done, and it seems safe to leave the operative sleeping here in the lounge. You pull a blanket from one of the cabinets and cover him, then retire, exhausted from the effort.


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