Most people leaving SegFault feel numb after a night of partying to the newest, hottest beats, drinking top shelf nanite-liquor, and jacking into hell knows what black box was put on display in the middle of the room. Even the constant barrage of adverts, the melting-pot of culture filling the streets, and cavalcade of people, cars, and drones whizzing by can't compare to the thrill of a good rave. The streets stink of greasy, undercooked meat, and human sweat. A pair of drunken strangers stumble out of SegFault beside you, and continue their drunken groping as one of them hails a cab. You can feel the primitive joy boiling inside their shells. When the drugs wear off, and they regain the full gamut of emotions, they might regret this decision — but for now, they're a roaring blaze of sensation for you. Quite the show, really.
It's late – even by club standards. Were you on the clock tonight, Havana, or just out blowing off some steam? Who comes up beside you, and smiles?
I turn up the overlay and skim auras from the veil as people pass... I'm off the clock tonight but you can't turn off habits programmed in deep. It's like trying to get a song outta your head... it's just there. My vision flickers with names, addresses, current vitals and criminal records... but I trans out the data and just let the feels wash over me natural.
Their borrowed joy tickles the base of my neck. I don't stare, but watch casual-like through my shades. I'm tempted to take that feeling for the walk home. But that'd be a shame for them, huh?
Suddenly, Dolby comes up on me all smiles and finds me switched off and stealin' high on the Flow... little bit off guard.
"Shouldn't you be wired up somewhere 'bout now, Dolby?" I try to keep it cool, instantly embarrassed that he caught me unawares.
I'm surprised he came to find me outside, and that's got me a little worried. I'm not the kind of someone that someone like him leaves the club with.
I answer him direct, a little laugh and a nod of agreement, "place is prima, D... you get a taste of that interface?" I glance at him, he doesn't seem high on anything... chem or digital, "I ain't always on the job... why you askin?"
Casually, I check out his shine, get a sense of why he's coming at me out here when he coulda talked to me inside.
He takes another drag of his cig, then offers it to you. "Little birdy told me you play with fire tho... That true?"
Are your abilities with manipulating emotions a well-known thing, or a closely guarded secret?
I take the cig, my skin dances with tiny points of light which start at my fingertips as I reach out, and flow up my arm to my neck and face as I take a slow drag. Exhale slow and taste the smoke through my lips and hand it back.
I know better than to touch him, he's probably got a security detail lurking somewhere... but I step a little closer and lower my shades to look at him.
"True enough, that," I lower my voice, "that all the birdies got to say?"
That's a closely guarded secret... maybe they know I'm on the job, maybe they know I can smell trouble before it happens. But they don't know why... only a very select few know my gift. They say it's instinct... or a subtle shift in the I.R. readings of the skin... or some b.s. about sensing danger or pushing someone's buttons with just the right words. Little bit of that. But not all that.
You don't know if that's a harmless statement or a threat. It's hard to tell, even though he's smiling.
I continue, "but Dolby my friend, I'm just ridin' the vibe electric... ain't nothing to sell that ain't attached."
That high is wearing thin by now and I'm left out here in a pool of Dolby's curious intensity... it's not quite irritating but its not comfortable either. I gotta get off the streets... get back in, or get gone.
"Come on, we got a couple hours of yesterday left," I offer him my hand and glance back at the SegFault doors.
If the guy's here to party, he's got an exclusive invitation to chill electronic and shine on the floor with me... hour or a couple, then ditch him natural-like and get home before the morning rush.
But If he wants trouble, then he's going to find out about my "magic" real soon.
Tell me about home, Havana. How do you get there? what's it like?
It's an old street, the kind where people still walk to get where they're going, with paper lanterns strung across every couple blocks like they're left there from some Chinese festival long past. Most of the doors are set up on the second floor, the basements flooded some years ago and left abandoned to squatters and strays.
I keep it low-down as I walk these streets. It's not safe if you look like you don't belong, though I walk with purpose and usually nobody gives me any trouble.
There's an abandoned tube station mid-block... when the floods hit they abandoned the bore and condemned the place... I have the key and the code to the mag-locks
and deep inside is where I call home... an unfinished branch office now my personal pad... locked up tight.
Once you're inside it's comfortable enough, most of my gear scavenged from the streets or borrowed from some upper class neighborhood. I don't have guests often... I'm usually the accessory, not the other way around.
But best of all I figure I've got a good forty yards of concrete and stone between me and my closest neighbor. It's far from fancy, but it's quiet... and at least here the flow is distant and quiet like a memory. Quiet enough to sleep.... quiet enough to fell... nearly nothing.
When you get in, you have a few minutes to yourself before a ping comes in from Dolby.
Missed you, girl! Musta had a few too many, ya feel me? Catch you next time!
I'm wondering, though, who connects you with all these VIPs looking for your services?
But I have a bed, I have a sofa, a fridge and the little gas burner stove with it's shiny little cartridges for when I need to reheat something, I cook seldom... there's loads of little stalls out there selling street foods. Why ignore the local resources.
It's a stigma, of course it is, among the high-class people I mingle with. But it's all about the image and that I've got down... if you delved deep I'm guessing eight out of ten of those club hoppers aren't what they seem, either.
Out there I'm turned on, glam and shining... but turn it down and get me home and I'm not so different.
Networking... you asked how I connect? Word of mouth... I don't have a manager or something. But word gets around to important people and they get my name when they need someone like me. For instance... couple months ago I pulled flow for Osprey Bionics at some big convention party. Show up, look sexy, look provocative, get the suits chill and moving... but I snared two corp spies and probably saved the board from an embarrassing scandal. Got my contact in a couple of exec. pockets at that one.
It all comes around... I'm networked, of course... if you know what you're doing you can find me.
Oh. And I don't answer Dolby for a good twenty-four. Let him wonder.
Roused from sleep, I tune in audio and answer her, "always time for you, Salomé,"
I hope my sleepless night doesn't show in my voice.
Salomé was involved int that convention I mentioned, my main Osprey contact. But she had me watching out for some stolen cyberware components. Rare stuff that should be getting top dollar and right up my alley... literally. It feels like someone at Osprey didn't want to report that theft to the authorities... I didn't ask and she didn't explain. No need... but why else ask me?
I switch on and see the time-stamp in the corner of my vision, "uhh... and good morning."
"This evening? Yeah... I'm all glass. Send me the deets," I bring up my file on Osprey, those missing parts I had to track down... they didn't all get recovered. But she got more with me than she ever would have found without me.
"Is this as formal as it sounds? How should I dress?"
Have you ever worked for someone as high profile as the Daimyo, or his family?
I stand as we talk, start to browse through the hangars in my closet: Neon, silver, electric blue predominate... but I have a tasteful dark suit that'll work... go it ninety-percent physical... veil out some of my ink and go lights out.
"I'll keep it low, just make sure I'm clear to move if I need to," can't have the Daimyo's corpers breathing down my neck every time I gotta get eyes on something. She'll send me an encrypted message with whatever I have to know, if this is as usual, so I don't have to ask too many questions.
I haven't. Most of my gigs are club-level stuff... yeah, I've mingles with corps and execs up on their private terraces but I'm usually part of the scenery and any contact I've had with nobility is mostly coincidental.
What are your plans, to get ready?
and allegiances as best I can.
Look up the Daimyo and his son, find footage of other events and see if I can't also get a look at their security. Look up the venue, get some three-sixties of the street and the interior... mark the exits.
Catch some sleep on the tube.
Couple hours before the event I'm there... get a feel for people standing around, people passing by. Look sharp and wait for my contact. I can blend into most any crowd... this time, at least, I'm not here to be seen.
I work on feelings, I work the crowd, I work the target... but emotion without information is just random nonsense. I'll lead you astray by your feelings... that's not going to happen to me.
Your ride out to the Neon Pagoda is long and about as restful as you might expect. When you arrive, the streets are filled with corporate diplomats, and young people standing in line for the club. You enter the Neon Pagoda, and cross the great hall – an enormous room with a glass floor that overlooks the club in the lower levels – into the corporate center just one flight of stairs up.
What do you do?
This kind of place feels calm, strangely quiet, as the surroundings sort of unify everyone's temperament and everyone acts under a veil of decorum. But lucky me, that makes it easier to feel anyone wracked by anxiety, fear, or lust.
I keep it low-key with Salomé and avoid drawing attention to our interaction, then wander a while. Pick up the feel of the room and i.d. the key players before closing on my subject, observe him and the bartender. How they interact.
Going to lead by absorbing the feels around them.
Probably a roll.
Absorb (powerful +1)
(Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 3, 6. Total: 10)
They aren't aware of what I'm doing, I get +1 flow, and I'll take +1 flow. (yeah 2 flow, can I do that?)
Making a low-level empathic connection is another story, though — you plow through the emotional barriers he's established, and get a full reading on him. His aura lights up on your approach: He is calm, collected, and at Peace — eerily so.
He orders another drink from the bartender, who obliges without so much as a second thought.
I feel that calm, that peace... I like that feeling. I'm at my best when I manage to fight back the whirlwind of emotions and bring myself to a calm state. I feel... intensely...
everything. And it's always a struggle to focus and not let myself get swept away by it. His calm is alluring, but almost certainly artificial.
I draw on that... take it from him and to myself. Watch his aura dim and fragment and leave him with whatever lingers after peace leaves you. Anxiety? And just at that moment I slip into the seat next to him.
"Never did care much for parties," I comment casually, commiserating with him as someone who looks unaffected by the upscale gathering, I glance at his drink like I've just noticed it, "what are you drinking?"
I hold on his eyes for a good few moments. This is an intriguing person... pleasant feels, a good calm which I've admittedly borrowed for the moment. I smile and break the eye contact after just the right pause, "one more," I get the barkeeps attention and indicate Glitch's drink.
Then quieter, to Glitch "you've got taste, I appreciate that..."I edge just a bit closer and try to recapture his eyes.
Then gently touch the back of his hand on the bar near his empty glass. Just the lightest of touches, "...are you alone?"
"Yeah," he says, answering your question about being alone. He's starting to sweat.
What do you do?
I relax when Glitch says he's alone, a genuine smile.
Of course you're alone. You're working this gig same as me...
"Oh thank goodness," I don't push it too far and withdraw my hand slightly.
Let him wonder if the skin to skin contact was incidental, "I hate to drink by myself... this place is full of switched-off mileetsya."
Small talk. Yeah what he says isn't actually very important. I just need to keep him off guard and off his game. Keep him sweating and make him miss his mark... whoever that is.
I watch his movements, he can't be armed, right? Probably not... I'm not packing my pistol at the Neon Pagoda with the Daimyo attending... though that doesn't mean I'm harmless. I can't assume he is either.
I clink his glass with mine and silently drink. Try to catch him paying attention to someone, something... or figure out if maybe he's feeling the veil without eyes.
Rolling to probe Glitch. Powerful+1
(Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 3, 6. Total: 10)
Spending 1 hold: What does Glitch intend to do?
He's not interested in Osprey. He means harm to the Daimyo's son, and you get the impression he intended to die to do it.
The arrival of the entourage has me desperately alert and aware of the tenuous situation I've put myself in, sitting here with this man.
I can't let him do this...
"Hey, so..." I turn back from the commotion at the door, slip my hand over his hand, "did you have plans tonight? What do you say we ditch this party and..." I realize I'm dressed tamer than my suggestion, but what the hell, "just go crazy! Man... this place is hot but... totally overpriced, right?" I'm not going to let him ignore me. If he looks away I'm getting close to his face. "You ever been to Club point-nine? The Blue Edge? You will not believe the level of pure awesome!"
Trying to make him feel my excitement, inspire him to want to know more. To live...
if only just long enough to break whatever mind-breaking program this guy's been put through... or hell... put himself through.
How can I get you to leave the venue with me?
If he's doing this alone, then you need to find out what's driven him to this point, and walk him back from it... But if he's doing this for somebody else's cause, then you know somebody is watching him closely. There's likely some contingency in place, and his failure to execute would be seen as a betrayal. You would need to divert those eyes, and let their grip on him slip long enough to get him out of the building.
And here I am... a low-life metro... an elegant low-life, yes, but I don't rank when it comes to the pagoda and it's lords and honor. And here I am sitting with a would-be assassin having drinks.
I'm moments away from connecting to Salomé and just calling this guy's number... but she didn't ask me here to cause a panic. I'm here to keep things chill.
I keep his attention, whatever it takes, to anyone who might be watching it probably looks like I'm coming on strong... I let it look that way, "hey... look at me, ok?" I physically turn his head if I need to, I'm close to him. "Your life is worth more than that..." I let the subtext ring for a moment, but only just, let him wonder what I mean, "there's more than one way to make evens... tell me about it... about... this mysterious girl you have on your mind."
He takes a deep breath and looks you in the eye. "I've spent every single credit of what my life is worth... Now I'm spending her's. If I don't come through now, I may never have another chance to pay my sister what she is owed..."
Not knowing all the details I'm pretty sure I don't need to right now. I just need to control the flow and change this moment.
I touch his cheek, "I can't believe she would want this..." I glance across the room. Not really at Kai, but the place in general, "this life she's chosen, she did it to give you your life back... her brother. She traded for your future... not for your death. Am I wrong?"
I still touch him, if he lets me.
"Let's go..." I nod encouragingly, "you need to get away from this place.... and hell, imperial polish n'chrome ain't my scene. "
Last hold, What does he wish I'd do?
Right now, Glitch wants nothing more than to settle his accounts with his sister; but he's in a fragile state and he's not thinking clearly, so what he truly wishes is a matter of debate. You could either help him pull this off (and survive), or you could close the door for him right here and now — find a way to remove the Daimyo's son, so Glitch can't act. If you can do that, he would be indebted to you.
That's not going to happen, Glitch. I'm here to keep things smooth, make this thing happen nice and calm. So far I'm earning my pay... but I also feel him. Literally feel him and I don't want him to die... that's what would happen. I can't see a way I can get the Daimyo's Son out without getting Glitch in some serious trouble... I'd have a lot of explaining to do.
But I can do something else. I tap into Salomé's feed, "urgent request. Can you get the two of us thrown out the back nice and quiet-like? We've been drinking too much. I need some space between this guy and this place. I'll keep eyes on him and get him gone."
"You're a good brother," I whisper in his ear. I could probably access his chip and message him direct, but this feel right. Let him feel me, "would be a shame to waste half the bottle..."
I reach for the bottle without looking, one hand still holding onto Glitch... but intentionally spill it and knock over the glass.
She does respond to your ping, but it looks like those Honor guards are going to get to you first. They're approaching the bar, and very likely, the two of you.
What do you do?
Probably in the middle of his anecdote about his name, I stand and pull Glitch with me towards the washrooms, "oh man!" I make like the spill was worse than it actually was, and act like I need to get to the washroom. I say to the bartender as I hurry Glitch away, "what a mess, I'm so sorry!"
And I'm sure not to "notice" the guards closing in on us.
Just need to get him out of here. If the guards see him as a threat there's probably nothing I can do, but I don't mind looking like a tool to get clear.
Rolling Risk : Scared+0
(Rolled: 2d6. Rolls: 3, 6. Total: 9)