Stolen Data

GM: TRISTA
Players: GRETCHEN, PHISHER, KRAFT.
Synopsis: The team are hired to retrieve some stolen data and has to perform a few matrix runs to find its location, the person who stole it and her old flame who is protecting her; an incredibly dangerous Magical Adept with a focus on fire. The team find them hidden away inside a high class, high security hotel and find their way inside. Rather than diving into the fire and facing not only an ex-runner Adept, but the buildings tight security, they manage to talk them down and acquire the data without firing a single bullet. Sometimes things just work out well.
Date: 6th February 2078

MATRIX HOSTS:
UCAS RTG/Denver LTG: Green-4 6/8/6/6/6

PUBLIC TRANSPORT AGENCY SAN: Blue-4 8/8/8/8/8
A public area for gathering information about the personal transport agency, where you can gather forms for vehicle and drivers licensing, pointless data about the number of vehicles on the roads and the types. Nothing of any serious interest. Various Corporations have advertising here for their vehicles, with direct SAN jumps to those Corporations.

EXITS: VEHICLE AND DRIVER LICENSING. HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE. HIGHWAY MONITORING. TRAFFIC CONTROL.
ALL EXITS: Orange-6 12/10/10/10/12
SYSTEM ALERT LEVELS:
4 - Probe 6
8 - Killer 6
12 - Black IC - non lethal 6
15 - Corporate Decker Logs On
Decker Fail = System Shutdown

ARASAKA GARDENS MATRIX HOST: Green-6 8/9/10/10/9
A replica of the lobby inside the matrix, the Arasaka Gardens matrix site is as opulent as the location itself. With beautiful staff to deal with reservations, splashing fountains and decorative plants, it would be easy to imagine yourself in the real world. Booking information is held here.

EXITS: SECURITY STATION. MANAGERS OFFICE. ELEVATOR.

SECURITY STATION: Orange-6 15/11/12/15/13
This security station is blocked to all but deckers and members of the security team, a troll security guard bars the door. The room features a bank of video screens taking in live feed from the hotel cameras, link up to the panic buttons and access to the fire alarms and general alarms set around the building as well as physical security positions.

SYSTEM ALERT LEVELS:
6 - Probe 6
12 - Decker Logs on
Decker Fail = System Shutdown

I started to play through this plot with Trista but found being GM and Player clashed, I didn't like doing it at all, so I had the character leave for 'reasons'. We switched my character out for Kraft.


A JOB OPPORTUNITY:

Another day in paradise; Denver goes about its day to day business, wage slaves hitting the rush hour traffic to make a few 'yen for their next trid vid with the significant other, quiet and darkened businesses flickering to life, owners setting out the tables and chairs for visitors to enjoy the sunshine. It looks like it's going to be a nice day. Early hours and inside Gretchen's pocket her phone starts to buzz, a call from an acquaintance, they meet at the oddest places, from Casinos to Warrens divebars. Perhaps whatever totem is following the pair around has decided they must work together at some point, and that day has finally come. Trista has a job offer, she needs some people in on this one, meet at the Red Rock Diner, she'll even pay for breakfast. Oh, and bring a decker if you know one.

The Red Rock Diner is of course buzzing with life, all the early morning patrons getting their eggs and bacon for ridiculous prices, but prices worth paying considering it's the real thing. With the jukebox blaring out a variety of tunes from modern techno-rock to old country classics, the noise is enough to block out any conversation unless people are /really/ listening. Trista spends her time at a corner booth, an orange juice in front of her, along with some waffles smothered in syrup; it's the special that so few choose and so many miss out on. Bliss!

Another allnighter? Probably. Gretchen keeps odd hours, and on this particular morning she's painting the inner curve of a salvaged windshield in the workshop above the salon in the CAS district. The mostly uncracked safety glass was found in a junkyard off the I-70, and she's painting a surreal landscape that gives the impression of driving through a Dali painting.

"Red Rock?" Gretchen checks the time. "I can be there in like," the sounds of her gathering gear can already be heard through the phone, "…15 minutes."

She shoots a message to Phisher along the lines of, «Breakfast. Free breakfast. Red Rock ASAP»

She launches down the stairs after a quick bathroom stop and a quick, final sip of coffee before leaving her crazy art project behind.

Phisher raises an eyebrow as his commlink buzzes, pulling himself out of the trance he'd been in for the past several hours, lines of code flickering on the display before his eyes. He stops tapping at the pad momentarily to check the message. Breakfast does sound good right now, and Red Rock's is high on rankings, in Phisher's book. He puts his gear away, and makes his way east out of his coffin in China Town into the CAS district, day dreaming of hashbrowns and eggs.

The German girl throws on her black peacoat, yanks the hood of her zip-up out of the wide collar and plants a riding helmet on her messy swoop of platinum-white hair.

Behind Jaya's, a motorcycle revs to life, and a small figure in stark black and white zips out for the short commute on a cherry red vintage-looking but high tech bike.

Minutes later, she barges into the diner, helmet in hand, sweeping her hair back from her face with a tattooed hand, circle-lensed shades over her eyes. Spotting Trista, she offers a tight-lipped not-smile and nod to the familiar hostess and moves to seat herself.

It's early morning, she's indoors, she has breakfast in front of her - awesome syrup covered waffles half eaten - and yet Trista still has her mirror shades on. Before Gretchen has even entered the building, she's already aware, checking on the new arrival before the door even opens. Noticing it's the one she's waiting for, she lifts a hand to catch the girls attention, then motions off toward the counter, "Get what you want, tell them it's on my tab.". Though the woman speaks from across the room, the words hit Gretchen as if Trista is right next to her, speaking close enough so she doesn't even need to raise her voice. Weird. Trista raises a hand, pushes the glasses up so they're tucked into her hair, their usual comfortable position.

Phisher is a big man, with a big car. That's why he drives a Leyland-Zil Tsarina across town and parks the slim subcompact across the street from the Red Rock, making sure to lock up tightly, and then makes his way to the diner. He pushes into the front of the restaurant, stopping in the doorway momentarily to look around for a familiar face. Spotting the platinum haired german woman from the Souk, he makes his way across the room.

Gretchen pokes a fingertip in her ear and wiggles it while moving her jaw as though trying to pop her ear on a flight. She does a quick shake of her head, nods to Trista from afar and places her order before spotting Phisher. Vera tells her, "I'll bring it right to ya when it's ready, hon."

She waves the decker on with a scooping hand motion and collapses into the bench opposite Trista, scooting in and slinging her everpresent bag around to rest beside her. "Morning," she greets, sounding almost puzzled. "Why so early?"

Phisher bows his head politely as he slides into the table across from Gretchen and Trista, "Good Morning, Ladies." He isn't carrying any visible gear with him and he sits down. He flags down a waistress as he sits, "Some iced tea please." Turning his gaze to the two women present, he waits expectantly.

Noticing the exchange, Trista moves her gaze from Gretchen over to Phisher, appraising the man for a moment before deciding on more important things; syrup covered waffles. They're gone in the blink of an eye, judging by the look on her face they may be a little better than sex, but only a little. When Gretchen joins her, she pushes her plate aside and places both hands around her glass of orange juice, though doesn't go for a drink just yet. "I'm told things are time sensitive. The sooner the better.", she replies to Gretchen. "I'll explain it all when your decker…", she doesn't need to say 'arrives', as he does exactly that. Once Phisher is finished with the waitress, she extends a friendly hand to the man, "A pleasure. Any friend of Gretchen's, and all that..", she smiles.

Undoing her layers while the Trista and Phisher make one another's acquaintance, Gretchen proves to have tattoos from shoulders to knuckles and a banner with calligraphic text across her chest that reads 'Leap of Faith' in German, proven by the tank top she wears after shrugging off the winter gear. The tank was once a tee, but the sleeves and collar were cut out with what were apparently a dull pair of scissors. The loose tank is plain black with SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE printed on it in white block lettering, each word below the previous. Her tangled necklaces and various bracelets chatter quietly amongst themselves with the motion.

With a thumb directed over her shoulder she simply asks, "Too time sensitive to get my plate?"

Phisher returns the smile and gently shakes Trista's hand, "Yes, a pleasure." As the waitress returns with his drink, he orders a plate of hashbrowns and two fried eggs. Returning his attention to the table, "What may I ask, is the subject of today's meeting."

Gretchen's coffee was brought along with the juice and is slid toward her. She grasps it eagerly and doctors it up with vanilla creamer packets before taking the first sip, looking between the others over the rim of her mug.

She also whispers a little aside to Phisher from behind her mug, her accent thicker for the minimal enunciation, "The hashbrowns here are amazing…"

A shake of Phisher's hand, then with a little chuckle, Trista shakes her head to Gretchen, "I hope not, I still have this orange juice to get through.", a glance down at her still full glass, then back up, turning a bit more serious; though there's always that mild amusement with her, she's having fun with it. "The sooner we get it done, the better. I think it's some sensitive information that they don't want getting out.", she starts.

Leaving a moment of silence, Trista takes a small drink from her orange juice, then places it down so she can reach into her jacket pocket. Out comes an optical chip, which she slides across so it sits between the two, so whoever wants to take it can do so, there's no prejudgement. "That's what I have. You might want to look at that before anything else.". With the noise of the Diner, nobody further than three feet away would be able to hear the conversation. Lucky really, as she has no white noise generator on the table.

Taking a sip from his glass of tea, Phisher nods to Gretchen, "Yes, they certainly do. In a previous life, I ate here from time to time." He turns his attention to Trista and the chip she placed in the middle of the table, "Well I came prepared for such an event…" He reaches into an internal pocket of his jacket and pulls out a pocket computer, waking it from hybernation, he reaches for the chip and slots it into the computers optical chip slot, "Let's see what we have here."

Gretchen sips her coffee and gestures to Phisher to have at ye chip.

After all, Gretchen has seen some crazy shit on the chips she's been privy to recently. Best to let someone take the first crack at this one she figures. She does venture to remove her shades and fold the arms to slide them to the side on the tabletop, near the condiment bottles. Her eyes are dark from lack of sleep as usual, and made moreso by heavy liner, mascara and shadow.

While you both study the data on the chip, Trista glances around the people nearby, ensuring nobody is able to view the screen that Phisher has in front of him, or are viewing it. It's not exactly early morning, work friendly viewing.

The chip contains a video file, which opens with a couple of clicks across the keyboard.

21:36. The time stamp is in the bottom right corner, the date showing two days previous; it seems to be some security camera footage. The camera looks into a corporate office, wide open windows gazing out into the nighttime skyline, high rise apartments and corporate buildings adorned with descriptors that place them firmly in the Aztech quarter. Inside the office a man sits at a desk, a computer in front of him, a glass of scotch placed beside it, a half full bottle alongside that. The camera zooms in; it's artificial, an after effect to enhance the video footage. It shows tears on the mans cheeks, reddened eyes from an emotional outpouring. The camera shifts back again, takes in the whole scene, watches as the man reaches into a drawer and pulls out a heavy pistol. He checks it over, ensures it's loaded, places the barrel to his temple and pulls the trigger, a spray of blood exiting the other side along with a spattering of bone.

The camera switches, looks down at a corporate wageslave area, small cubicles for individual employees. A woman stands up, looks toward a door marked 'Manager', glances around herself, then moves to the door. Nervously she pushes it open and steps inside.

The camera switches again, 21:38, shows the inside of the office as the woman enters and finds the now dead body of the man in front of her. A silent scream, there is no sound to join the video, the woman stands unsure what to do then decides to reach into her pocket and pull out a phone. She makes a quick call, hangs up, puts the phone away. Moves closer to the dead man. The woman moves alongside, looks over him, she too looks upset at what she's seeing, then her eyes are drawn to the still active computer screen. Her jaw drops, her features pale, she leans forward onto the desk to get a closer look.

21:41, the view switches to show a security team arriving from an elevator at the end of the wageslave room. The view switches again, back to the woman in front of the computer screen. She quickly starts searching the desk, opening drawers, until she finds an optical chip. Pushing it into the computer system she starts tapping keys, looks impatiently from the screen to the door and back again, obviously stressed. The video switches again, the security team are almost to the Managers office. Another switch to back inside the room, the woman pulls the optical chip out, hides it inside a pocket, quickly taps across the keys then moves away before the security team can find her. They enter the room, motion the woman over, one of the team looks over the dead man while another chats with the woman. She shakes her head, shrugs unknowingly, sheds a few more tears, is finally allowed free.

21:43 - the woman moves back through the wageslave room, gathers her things from her cubicle, then heads to the elevator. 21:44 and she leaves the elevator on another floor, into a parking lot, moves quickly across to a vehicle with the numberplate 'DYJ006', can't start the car fast enough, then drives out of the parking lot and leaves the view of any security cameras as she enters the street outside.

Gretchen can appreciate a fellow opportunist when she sees one, but past experience has her only glancing at the screen from the corner of her eyes, still holding up her mug as though it were something viable to hide behind. She breaks her cautious gaze at the decker's minicomp to raise an eyebrow to the Trista.

"What needs done," the German asks quietly, still holding that chipped diner mug up before her mouth, perhaps to deter lipreading?

Phisher nods appreciatively at what he's seeing. Secretly he's sympathizing with the wageslaves, the poor buggers. As the footage ends, he makes mental notes and returns his gaze to Trista, "Seems like the corporate life got to that poor bastard. You find out some horrible truth about your company you were never intended to find out, and sometimes you just can't take it."

Happy that nobody uninvited saw the footage, Trista brings her attention back to her booth companions. "I don't know the details..", she tells Phisher, ".. whatever he saw, the woman took it. It's been deleted, my employer tells me they can't find a thing, but I get the feeling he's not telling me the whole truth. Which, to be fair, is common with him.". At Gretchen's question she replies, "We need to get the information back. The problem is, her employee record lead to an empty apartment building. We have no idea where she is or what she's going to do with that information, which is where you friend comes in..", a glance at Phisher, ".. or so I hope.".

Another small drink of her orange juice, the glass returned to the table, then Trista continues, "I used to work for a corp, I was one of their specialists.. back then, I'd have the corporation covering this for me, but now I'm freelance, I need help.".

As though she's one hundred percent confident that this will cure all of Trista's woes, Gretchen sets her mug down and pulls a small pill bottle from a pocket of her shrugged-off coat. A practiced twist of the cap, and she shakes out a small yellow microdot pill — one of a few dozen. She offers it across the tabletop cradled in the palm of her hand with a sage nod.

Phisher doesn't say anything for a few moments while he ponders, "I can do some searching. I also have some connections that might put us on the right track regarding where she went other than the apartment. What are we to do with this info? Seems like it's Azzies taking care of loose ends?" He keeps his voice low, "Not that I have a thing against Azzies, but are we going to end up a loose end from having dealt with the info?"

Reaching out, Trista slides the pill from Gretchen's hand into her own, looks down at it resting in her palm, perhaps wondering if to throw it into her mouth or to the ground. Instead, she glances up at Gretchen, raises a curious eyebrow, a question without words, 'what is this?'. Her attention drifts back to Phisher, "I know they have a bad reputation out on the streets, but I've worked with Aztechnology since I was a kid, my father has worked with them since before I was born.. The person who gave me this job, he doesn't want to see me dealt with as a 'loose end'.", she explains. "We'll be fine. They're offering us 25K each, if we can get the information back. They want the woman gone, but they know I haven't done wetwork since..", she pauses on that, drifts off into thought for a few seconds, continues, ".. I don't do wetwork anymore. I'm sure they'll be happy just having her disappear.".

"For anxiety," Gretchen adds innocently. Her eyebrows rise in an encouraging expression. A close look at the bottle would confirm that it is indeed a garden variety 'mood stabilizer' common among those who deal with high stress work environments. She pops one herself and chases it with a sip of her coffee. Just in time too, as the talk of wetwork paints a guilty, dark look across the German's features, and she turns to stare out the window, running a hand through her messy hair…

Phisher smiles at the drug based transaction taking place, "So whoever she worked for deleted the information from their company systems, and she ran off with it. Information so damning, old boy chose to off himself over it." He takes a sip of his tea and then closes down the computer as the waitress carrying his food finally approaches. He rubs his hands gleefully and begins to dig into the hashbrowns, mashing the eggs with a fork so the hot yolk can intermingle with the potatos, "I just want to make sure I understand, is all. We find out where this lady went, what she knows, and make sure the info didn't make it anywhere else. I'm assuming it's very time sensitive in the event she tries to copy or pass the info. What do we know about the woman? Name? SIN? Any other residences apart from her empty apartment? Did they find anything useful at the apartment?"

Now, Gretchen's laissez-faire attitude doesn't imply that she isn't paying attention. Quite the contrary. While gazing at a flock of street pigeons going about their business, she wracks her brain for anything she may have heard recently about this situation. She chews her black-stained lower lip in thought.

"Pills and magic usually don't mix.", Trista explains, then pops the pill into her mouth, washing it down with some of the orange juice. It's obvious she hasn't played the role of Fixer or Johnson before; she's been many people before, but never someone so up front. "We find her..", agreeing with Phisher, ".. take the information back, return it to my employer. We get paid.". That pill made her mouth dry, another drink of the orange juice might help. "Tasha Robertson, she works for Optical Dreams in the Aztech quarter.. or did, before running off with sensitive information. Her SIN should be in the data chip there..", a quick nod toward the computer, ".. she only had the one residence in her employee record, but Aztechnology hit that place and it wasn't even held by her anymore, some poor wageslave got the fright of his life when a strike team smashed the door down and pointed assault rifles at his face.", she chuckles; it's horrible, but she can't help but find the idea amusing.

The information on the video seems legit; the security team looks the business, their uniforms match up with what you would expect in a corporate facility such as the one seen. There's no mention of any of this on the streets, but considering it's only two days ago, and only two days because it's now morning, it's not surprising nobody has heard anything.

At talk of magic, Phisher leans further away from the center of the table, "Wasn't at the house registered to her huh? Apart from running that makes sense, but someone else living there…did your employers give any information about her motivations? Do we think she's in this for the profit? I have some people I could talk to to figure out if she tries to sell the data….or you think she's in some kind of moral dilema right now, and is running scared? Being smart enough to give a corporation a fake residence and them not find out till now is a bit troubling though. Do they have any suspicions….they wouldn't tell us anyway actually, so never mind." He takes another bite of hashbrowns, "I guess the first step then is to try to track her down, and I've got a couple ideas for that already."

Gretchen turns back, a frowning grimace of deep thought across her face. She spends a moment indecisively tracing one eyebrow with a short, black thumbnail before chiming in with, "I know an old Star detective, might be of some help?" She squints one eye in an asymmetrical look that does not imply the utmost confidence in how to pick up Tasha's trail.

Gretchen's plate arrives a little later than Phisher's, and the waitress slips it to Gretchen with a pleasant nod and a glance at everyone's glasses before departing. The plate is loaded with a double helping of hashbrowns, extra crispy, and four pieces of bacon. She smothers the plate in tabasco sauce and black pepper then digs in. She doesn't have the greatest table manners, illustrated by taking a too-large mouthful of the red-soaked potatoes then trying to speak through them. "I think the ball is in your court, Phisher…"

"I honestly couldn't tell you.", Trista replies to Phisher, "I know what I know, and that's it. I have a.. I guess you could say, photographic memory..", a tap of a fingertip against her temple, ".. so I don't take notes. But they didn't seem to have any idea about her misplaced information. I don't know, maybe she forgot to update them about her move? It wouldn't be the first time someone forgot to hand over important details..".

The last of her orange juice is swallowed, the glass pushed aside, then Trista breathes out a sigh of contentment; maybe that pill has finally hit the spot. Judging by the relaxed appearance on her features, it's very likely. "So.. I'm good with people. I know people. I can be a lot of people and from what I've seen on that video..", a brief wave of one hand toward the computer screen, ".. the woman is running scared. She's found something she didn't like, took it for herself, and then ran away with it. I don't know what she's got, my employer isn't telling me what she's got, but I'd certainly be interested in finding out.".

Watching Gretchen enjoying her meal, Trista can't help but grin, shaking her head in amusement. "You know, sometimes you meet people and you're really glad you did.."

Phisher nods in agreement while swallowing a mouthful of food, "Well I can certainly take a looky-loo." He pauses to take a long drink from his glass of iced tea, "On a related note….do we know what kind of information we're looking for? Finding the woman is one part, cleaning up the data is another. What if we find her and she doesn't have the chip with her? What if she made copies? Do we have the skillset to determine if she's lying? What if she's some kind of undercover femme fatale and…" He makes a chopping motion with his hand, "I don't do the fighting thing so good."

"I've got some sodium pentathol," Gretchen murmurs into the back of her fork-holding hand to not display her current bite as she speaks, "and a really sharp knife…"

Phisher takes the last bite from his meal, grimacing at Gretchen's revelation, "You know, between the market and this…I don't think I ever want to get on your bad side." He also finishes his tea, then sits back rubbing his stomach, allowing the food to digest, turning back to Trista, "So do we know anything about the actual data itself?"

"All I know is it came from an Aztechnology research site..", Trista replies, ".. so if the data doesn't match that, then we'll know.". She puffs out a breath, her strangely orange eyes are wider than normal after the pill, "If she doesn't have the chip, we find the chip, if she's made copies, we get the copies..", the woman raising her hands in a small shrug, "We'll deal with the drek as it comes. We don't even know where she is yet."

Phisher rubs his chin, "Ok, good point. First step find her, then we modify the plan on the go. Since it appears to be time sensitive, when can we start? I will need to get some things, and do we have a location we can do the work from? I mean I can do it from my place, but it isn't exactly accomodating, so it would be me solo and I would catch up with you later, unless we want to crash one of you ladies pads to flesh out the rest of the plan?"

The German's facetious comment about truth serum and blades is followed by a sip of coffee before an afterthought statement. "I'm kidding. Kind of." She cuts a chunk of her potatoes with the edge of her fork. "I'd much rather speak with her on civil terms than have to resort to that. I probably would have done similar if I were in her place." A bite. Then speaking through the corner of her mouth. "Maybe the SIN will turn up some info, or facial rec software if she's still in the sprawl."

"I don't know..", Trista tells Gretchen, ".. I'm still on the basics of Matrix work, but I'm getting there.", a hint of a smile, then she's back to Phisher. "I'm not a Johnson, I'm not a Fixer.. I'm just.. someone being given a job to do.", she explains, "I don't have anything pre-planned, I don't have a place to work from, I'm just..". The woman puffs out a breath of a sigh, obviously unhappy with admitting weakness, "I'm new to this, I'm used to working with the Corp. You tell me what you need and I can try and get it for you.".

Phisher holds up both hands, "Hey, no complaints and worries on my end. I'm new to this whole thing as well. It's tough to be outside the circle." He swirls the left over ice in his glass, "I have no issues completing the Matrix work from my own place. I just figured someone might have a backroom or a basement somewhere from which to stage from. If not, no problem, and we can meet up again later to move the plan forward."

Gretchen holds her hands up above her head, looking toward the Trista and mouths, "Trodes," imitating a gesture along the lines of placing a tiara on one's head with a nod. She seems to be a big fan. She frown-smiles in her most comforting manner though (it still appears fairly forced, even for being genuine), at the evident distress emanating from the ex-corper.

Looking at Gretchen as she does her hand waving, Trista reaches to a point behind her ear, pushes some hair back, reveals a shiny black datajack, lets the hair drop back as she rests her hands upon the table. "Whatever you can do, wherever you feel safe, that works for me..", she tells Phisher. "Should we catch up with you later, or do you want some followers?", she asks, a hint of a little grin on her lips. The noise of the diner still blocks out all outside conversation, the rest of the room sounds like a mass mumble, so many voices talking at once that nothing makes sense unless you really focus on it.

And that damn Margaritaville song is playing /again/. Every time Gretchen comes to this place…

Gretchen's face goes wide with surprise at the jack and she forms a tattooed finger gun, then fires it at her temple to illustrate her foolishness at not recalling the Trista's ware. Then she looks genuinely guilty, considering the video footage they just viewed. She busies herself with finishing her plate without looking up.

Phisher nods in satisfaction as Trista reveals the datajack, "That's the real deal, right there. Won't need folks like me before long." He turns serious, "I can take care of it at my place in China town. I don't know where this search is gonna take me, and its probably better if someone comes looking for the snoop, that way have to deal with Shining Mountain before they get to me. Once I've got what we need, I will reach out. Do you have a preferred method of contact? And we can assume that if you never hear from me again, I made friends with some black IC somewhere?"

Corporate life had its ups and downs, but one of the bonuses were contact cards. Trista reaches into an inside jacket pocket and pulls out a small card; a name and a telephone number, which she slides across the table to Phisher. "You can reach me there, or contact Gretch', she'll be awake if I'm not.", she smiles, looking to Gretchen's guilty face and reaching out, pushing a few strands of hair away from her eyes, letting her know it's 'okay'. "I'll be getting a few things ready, if we need to strike fast. Keep in touch.", she nods.

Gretchen looks up through her bangs at the Trista, then Phisher, then sweeps them aside as she sits more upright, extending a hand to the man, accompanied by the gentle clicking of simple bracelets. "Thanks. For agreeing to help." She speaks true.

Phisher accepts the offered card and pockets it swiftly along with his pocket computer, "Will do. I'll get started right away." He shakes Gretchen's hand, "You're more than welcome. Thanks for considering me for the work." He smiles and nods at both women, then stands from the table, pulling a small fold of CAS dollars out of his pocket, tossing them gentle into the middle of the table, "For the tip." He waves sheepishly and smiles at one of the waitresses as they pass by, "You'll hear from me soon." He turns and heads for the exit, that sweet Tsarina road beast calling his name.

With a respectful nod, Trista watches Phisher move away and back to his vehicle, then she turns her attention back to Gretchen. "Thanks Gretchen. The first time I met you, I had one of those feelings. I know people.", she smiles. Reaching over as she stands, she gives the girl a playful push-punch into the shoulder, then moves away from the booth too, "I'll see you later.", the woman moving away and up to the counter. Her credstick is slotted, paying for the meals, then she's heading for the door.

Gretchen lingers behind for the duration of one more soykaf refill, shooting out texts as she mulls things over, bite by too-large bite.

DECKING THE DISTRICTS:

Phisher gets back to his place and immediately locks the door behind him and runs over to his desk, unpacking his cyberdeck, and reaching for the long cable coming down from the roof, connected to the satellite dish he's had installed there. Jacking in, he spins up the Satellite Uplink utiltity and interface, sending the signal high up into space, searching for an available satellite.

High up above, far above the cloud cover, an entertainment satellite drifts through space, beaming the latest reality trid show and movie releases straight down to the waiting masses below.

Phisher's persona becomes the familar chinese fishingman once again. He stands in a slim wooden fishing boat, a push pole in his hands, and many nets, spears, rods, and other fishing devices strewn across the hull of the boat. His wrists twist, opening a hidden compartment on the push pole, which reveals a keypad. His icon taps furiously, and beams of light arc from the front of the boat interfacing the satellite, probing it to allow him access through to the RTGs below.

The fisherman follows the beam of light upwards to the satellite system, riding against the stream of data feeding this weeks hot trid release down to the UCAS. High up in the satellite, the RTG system opens below, links from Seattle to New York; another hour and the access would be from London to Russia.

Phisher's push pole beeps an acknowledgement to him as the satellite accepts his presence. He angles the boat downward, angling towards the Denver RTG, once again light beams arcing forward against the atmosphere as the boat picks up speed headed down to earth.

With the massive amount of lights below, lighting up the UCAS like a dot matrix map, it's easy to spot the RTG into Denver. The system opens up, the fisherman following the stream of top shelf trid movies down into the Denver system. The city lights up in the Matrix, multiple beams of light striking off in all directions, dancing through city blocks and open parks, a miniaturised version of Denver available with a thought.

Phisher pulls the boat to a stop hovering above the virtual cityscape of Denver. He reaches into the boat and pulls a special kind of fish out from the netting, whispering to it before chucking it overboard. It takes off in the direction of the CAS district, delivering a special message to the CAS Lonestar Archives admins.

Though it might seem like some time has passed, the fish returns in only a couple of seconds, leaping out of the water and into the boat to flap around until it's picked up and listened to. "The vehicle has been spotted in the Aztlan sector, travelling North. Due to lack of Lone Star interest, no information was stored. For further details regarding license plate DYJ006, contact Denver's Public Transport Agency.". The fish stops flapping; it would really like to return to the water.

Phisher grabs one more fish, whispering again. This one changes its icon, suddenly becoming a parrot with an eye patch. The parrot takes off flying away into the datalanes on it's trek to reach out to one of Phisher's contacts. Once the bird has left, he steers the boat again, heading for downtown, the familiar light beams reaching out to interface with the LTG.

The stylized version of the City of Denver blurs momentarily, pulling the fisherman downwards and across into the Downtown sector. Multiple skyscrapers reach upwards all around, basic blue icons with decorative entrances, flashing neon signs detailing the names of the various hosts. A quick scan finds a Government building with the name, "Public Transport Agency" flashing in neon blue above an entrance doorway. It's not the largest building in the grid, but it carries a feeling of power; abandon hope all ye who enter here, for many files and forms await to be signed.

Phisher steers the boat dutifully towards the large virtual PTA building. As he nears the front enterance, once again beams of light stretch from the bow of the boat and seek out the access interface for the host, attempting to convince it he is an authorized icon.

The door opens and welcomes a new arrival to the Public Transport Agency. A public host, this is free access to most Matrix travellers, but mostly due to the mass of forms that need to be filled out to acquire a drivers licence, register a vehicle or gather information about the whole procedure. The interior of the host is the equivalent of a large car showroom; vehicles of all sizes and types sit around the display area, direct links incorporated into each to whoosh you away to the corporation that might be selling said vehicle. Near the main desk are a variety of pamphlets and forms, from information about acquiring a driving licence, to registering a personalized number plate.

Behind the main desk are a few doorways, each with a plate detailing their destination; Vehicle and Driver Licensing, Highway Maintenance, Highway Monitoring and Traffic Control. All doorways are virtually maglocked, refusing access to casual users.

Other users are accessing the same site, dozens of mostly teenagers trying to find out how to acquire a drivers license. A small drone flutters about the area, moving up to each of the icons; from teen starlets to grunge rock kings. "Greetings user, I see you are searching for information about drivers licences. Would you like to know more?"

Phisher angles the boat across the showroom, heading towards the doorways behind the main desk, steering straight towards the Highway Monitoring and Traffic Control doorway, floating above the icons performing legit PTA work. This time as the familar light beams heads towards the doorway, Phisher's icon materializes a fake looking mustache over his upper lip, hoping to blend in.

The mustache must be it; the doorway into the Highway Monitoring section opens and allows you through.

The door opens and you step into a void, the door closing and disappearing to leave you hanging in the middle of nothing. Looking down, however, you can see the entire of Denver, or the streets at least, a massive map of lights and lines that follows every monitored street in the city. From Downtown to Aztlan, across through Chinatown, eventually becoming dark as the area hits the Warrens. There used to be camera cover here, but they show as little red dots now, surveillance cameras long dead.

Phisher prepares another fish, a long slim one this time. Again whisper instructions, the fish is tossed overboard, the bright characters DYJ006 appearing on its side as it swims rapidly into the background, interfacing with the hosts Index substem as it search for records related to the vehicle in question.

The little fish swims downwards through the darkness, becoming smaller and smaller as it disappears into the Denver transport system. With your integral link to the program you can follow it as a distant dot, searching across the many roads and freeways of Denver, before it reaches Atzlan and starts swimming in circles, moving in a tighter and tighter circle and reaching a point.

From your point of view, high above the glowing city below, the tiny fish flashes across the streets, travelling from one location to another in a blink, leaving a stream of light behind so you can identify the path of travel; then it returns to the start point and does it again, over and over, waiting for you to take an interest in its findings.

From one of the many buildings, a tiny helicopter takes to the skies, a searchlight flashing to light as it starts sweeping back and fore across the city, as if searching for something.

At the movement of the helicopter, Phisher reaches into the hull of the boat and pulls up a fish finder, attaching it to the side of the boat. He taps at the keys on the device and a single pulse of 'sonar' leaves the boat spreading outward attempting to gain information about the little helicpter circling about.

The helicopter rises higher, searching around, the sonar pinging back from it's hull to announce it as a Probe IC; an IC made to try and find the source of unusual occurrences in a host. The sonar pulse pings off the helicopters shell and bounces back, but the 'thwopa-thwopa' continues unphased, searchlight scanning the ground below.

Phisher was prepared for this eventuality. He pulls one of his trusty barbed fishing spears out of the bottom of the boat, while it angles towards the helicopter. He assumes a throwing position forward arm aiming towards the helicopter, rear arm cocked and ready to throw the spear.

The spear whirls through the sky in a direct line to the curious little helicopter. The distance grows, the spear becomes smaller, but even still, when it impacts the helicopter spins out of control, twirls through the air and heads downwards to an uncomfortable crash landing on top of a Downtown building. Tiny puffs of smoke drift upwards from the wreckage.

The fish still keeps swimming along the city streets, flashing in a path from one location to the next, lighting up an area of the city streets that are unknown for now.

Phisher doesn't recall the spear, keeping it hovering over the wreckage to prevent the crashed IC from alerting the system. Phisher returns his gaze to the streets below, angling the boat back downwards. He taps again at the fish finder, sending a different colored ping out, this time as a line of small circles that grow as they get farther away from the boat, directed at the located file.

The ping hits the area the fish is swimming against, flashing faster now, lighting up a major part of the city streets. The ping falls silent on its way back to the fisherman, nothing blocks the path to the file.

Satisifed with the results of the ping, Phisher once again reaches into the hull of the boat and pulls up a bamboo fishing pole. He tosses the hook and line over the side of the boat, and the line begins to extend downwards heading directly for the fish bouncing around on the city streets.

The line extends downwards into the city below, the fish catching the bait and pulling with it along the streets. Rather than pulling the file to you, however, the whole boat is pulled downwards, descending into the Atzlan sector of the city. As the file transfers its data into the deck, so it flashes up a monitor to show the data that's being transferred.

The Americar pulls out of the parking lot, DYJ006, a camera from across the street watching it move off and travel along it's predetermined path. The fish pulls you along, drags you to an intersection, flashes up another monitor to show the car stuck in traffic before being able to continue onwards, slowly driving northwards. The fish drags you again and again, turning left then right, each time a monitor flashing up to show you the path the vehicle is taking. Finally it pulls into a parking lot outside a small apartment building near the edge of the Warrens, the friendly side of the wall. The woman leaves the vehicle and heads inside the building.

The fish doesn't want to let you go, it keeps fighting against the current, doesn't want to be pulled back into the boat. An hour passes, another hour, nothing but seconds in the matrix as the footage flashes past; then the woman leaves the building and moves back to the car, this time joined by a little girl no older than eight or nine and undoubtedly her daughter, judging by appearances. The car pulls out and travels again, heading northwards again, this time into the Sioux sector of the city. The car pulls over into a deserted and rundown gas station, the woman leaving the car there and then waiting. The fish thinks its job is done so finally relents and flips back into the boat.

Satisfied with the efforts of his catch, Phisher grabs another fish and sends it overboard, this time over the side of the boat into the Sioux sector, destined for the camera feed archives of the gas station area.

The fish pulls you down again, dragging you to the gas station security camera. The footage again shows the Americar pull up into the deserted area; overgrown and rusted it obviously hasn't been used for years. The woman leaves the car and stands nearby with her daughter, both are carrying luggage bags that they retrieve from the boot of the car. After around fifteen minutes another car pulls up, a big black sedan. The car comes to a stop and a large man steps out, dressed in a black longcoat and equally dark clothing. He walks across to the woman and, despite his appearance, softens and rubs the top of the little girls head, who giggles in response, a kiss to the cheek of the woman. The two talk for a few minutes, no sound from this footage, then they all head back to the black sedan and drive away.

Phisher doesn't release the fish from the line. Instead he gives the line a little twitch and sends the fish after the sedan virtually, tracing it's path amongst the Sioux district traffic cams, hoping to find an archive that shows a destination.

Again, the fish pulls you through the streets, a monitor up in front of your vision merging the real world with the virtual, taking you along the streets behind the black sedan. It leads deeper into the Sioux district, heads upwards away from the hustle and bustle of city life into sporadic settlements. As the cameras become more sparse up here, the monitor blinks out, leaves you hanging for a second, then the fish pulls you forward again. The last time the fish pulls, it drags you through a gateway into a beautifully designed parking area of a large hotel. With an attractive lake spanned by an oriental bridge, large trees and beautiful floral arrangements, this is no lower class hotel chain. The sign on the multi-storey building reads, 'Arasaka Gardens'. The sedan pulls into the parking lot and the three leave the vehicle, heading into the building.

A Military Jet roars overheard, missiles bristling under its wings, the aircraft twisting in the air before lining up for an attack on the strange fishing boat.

Phisher reacts to the incoming jet, with the style and grace of a Tai-Chi master. Armed with another fishing spear he leaps into the air, spinning like an actor out of the latest trid scenes from Hong Kong. He hovers as the jet comes into range, heaving with all his might at the incoming aircraft.

The military aircraft twists in the air, performs a barrel roll, but it's not enough; the thrown spear drifts on the wind and hits the windscreen of the aircraft, spearing the virtual pilot. The jet continues to spiral downwards, whooshing straight towards Phisher. It causes his hair to flutter as it drifts past so close, then impacts into the ground, tumbles along the road before coming to a creaking stop. The wings have snapped off, fuel leaks from the fuselage and the missiles clank to the ground but thankfully don't explode.

Phisher slowly spins his way back down to his boat. Things are starting to get heated around here. He hits the red button on his push pole, performing a graceful logoff test to get out of the system with the data.

A STROLL THROUGH THE GARDENS:

Phisher pulls the fiber optic cable from his datajack and rubs his eyes. He taps away on his cyberdeck and begins downloading the data he just obtained onto a chip, while pulling out a burner commlink. He texts the numbers he's been given for Gretchen and Trista, "Got something. Need to hand over some data to you before continuing."

The information broker finally pings the deck with a message. "Tasha Robertson, arr, she be a good 'un, that ain't no sweet angel you're lookin' for there, that wicked harlot used to have a criminal record until Aztechnology wiped it clean. Breakin' n' enterin', possession of narcotics.. arr, that be drugs to you.. breakin' into private data stores. Nothin' wrong with that, 'ay? Nothin' wrong with a bit of information gatherin'. The li'l lady has a past, it's old past, once she got that kid'a hers she cleaned up her act, got a wageslave job.. Interestin' character ye be lookin' for there, keep us updated, 'ay?".

Phisher adds the note from PieR8 to his chip.

There are times you can enjoy a lazy morning, put your feet up on the table and indulge yourself in a little trid addiction; but Trista isn't enjoying her lazy morning, she's tried the whole 'put your feet on the table' thing and it's just not working for her. She paces her apartment, makes a sandwich, finds she's not hungry after breakfast and stores it for later, makes a soykaf then another. Finally her phone pings. A swandive over the sofa to grab the phone from her jacket pocket, the woman looking over the message while hanging over the top of her sofa. "You want to meet?", she responds. "Or can you message it over?"

Phisher awaits the response and begins tapping qickly, "I can trix mail. Give me an address." Without waiting he begins packaging up the pilfered data into an encrypted archive and compressing it to accomodate a matrix mail message.

Taptaptap, fingers move across her phone. "vd.liamxirtam|CTsselecaF#vd.liamxirtam|CTsselecaF.", she responds. With an awkward wriggle, Trista pulls herself off the sofa and travels over to her desktop computer, triggering it into life and opening her mail server. She leans back in her chair to wait.

Phisher finishes preparing the mail as his commlink buzzes. He notes the address and then sends the encrypted mail. As it begins to upload, he returns to his commlink and sends his response. "LUCKYFISH123". Once the email arrives the archive will prompt for a decryption key.

The archive pops up on her screen almost the same time her phone buzzes. Noting a decryption key, Trista glances at her phone, types in the response and hovers her finger over the enter key. Hmm, not yet. A click from the kitchen has her back to her feet, over to pour herself another soykaf that she brings back with her to the computer screen. A sip of the hot liquid, a contented sigh, and it's finally time to tap the enter key. Let's see what we have here…

Gretchen has been shooting out discreet messages to particular individuals with the initial details about the sought-after woman, but when the data finally rolls in from Phisher, she's a few cups of coffee deeper into her tenure at the Red Rock. She sets her cigarette in the ashtray and thumbtaps away, scrolling, reading, watching the video clips with a hand held to block the screen from roaming peepers.

With the trix mail sent giving his team mates something to mull over for a while, Phisher once again reaches for the cable coming from the roof and plugs it into his cyberdeck's satellite interface, then from the deck to his datajack. He spins up the interface and dish, searching the heavens for a satellite.

The Interface registers a connection, a distant corporate satellite registered to Renraku Corp. What it might be doing up there is anyones guess at the moment..

After the video has finished playing and the location has been found, Trista leans back in her seat, has a few more sips of her soykaf, letting the caffeine substitute do its work. Reaching over, she gathers up her phone again, sends a message to Gretchen: "Have you seen it yet? Arasaka Gardens I've been to once before, but not on business.".

The chinese fisherman icon hovers in cyber space still within the memory banks of the deck. Upon the interface pinging the connection, the icon grimaces for moment and then shrugs its shoulder. He points the bow of the boat straight up into the sky, and pushes off…lights communicating with the satellite's access node.

The path up to the satellite is without incident, the fisherman in his boat follows the data stream into the satellite itself. Its iconography appears as a science lab, though highly stylized and without staff. The windows gaze out upon the earth below, its appearance so real it must be a live feed from an exterior camera. The lights of the Denver RTG sparkle beneath the cloud cover..

The boat angles towards the lab's exit, nosing downward to the Denver RTG. Flames errupt around the boat as it pierces the upper atmosphere, picking up speed on its way into Denver, the lights reaching forward to communicate with the access code for the grid.

With the science satellite left behind, the Denver RTG opens up in front of the fisherman, flames around the boat adding a warm glow to his features as he floats lower into the RTG. The Sioux district to the north flickers invitingly, sporadic dots twinkling across the landscape due to the lack of matrix connections in the area.

As the boat enters the RTG without sign of trouble, Phisher keeps the momentum. The boat speeds through the virtual sky on it's way down to the Sioux portion of the FTZ. His conical fishing hat is replaced with a full blown Sioux head dress as he tries to full the LTG access interface.

The boat enters the Sioux LTG and the lights flicker outwards, indicating the many paths to matrix nodes around the area; garages, department stores and bars are all in the area, but the one site of interest is far to the north west, a long empty zone of matrix nothingness until the Arasaka Gardens matrix host glitters in the distance.

Phisher keeps the boat chuggling along, pressed for time, as if such a concept could exist in the matrix. He taps at the keys on the push pole and the bottom phases out, then back in, replaced by a cartoonish looking outboard motor propeller. It buzzes along as the boat begins to communicate with the hotel's access node.

The German's reply to Trista is a big fat "Nope." She texts it in bold, then continues in standard font size with, "Maybe some trid commercials. Never visited. I'll pass some of this info along and try to see what I can come up with."

As in the real world, seen through the video camera footage, the entrance to the Arasaka Gardens hotel building is beautiful to behold. The gates open to allow the fisherman into the parking area, following a path up through trees and bushes, beautiful plant life, a small lake with overarching bridge. The parking lot comes to an end, allowing you entrance to the building itself. Inside is a circular desk with a couple of icons working behind it, attractive people wanting to take your hotel bookings or offer information about the hotel itself. The area has a certain polished sheen to it, looking down at the floor reflects a ghostly image of the fishing boat, mostly hidden due to the active deception program. Other areas of interest surround the entrance hall; a rockery with a running waterfall, attractive floral areas, a seating area, multiple doorways leading off and an elevator behind the circular desk. The problem with the host is that it's /too/ clean, too shiny; it hits that uncanny valley between realism and obvious computer generation that makes the mind feel a little uncomfortable.

Phisher pulls the boat to a stop, hovering above the icons below. Unnerved by the obvious truckloads of nuyen that went into designing this place. He pulls a fish from the netting at the bow of the boat. This one looks like an angler fish. Once tossed over board it swims to the middle of the room and it's little glow in the dark bait tendril begins sending out pulses that look like radar beams.

The fish swims around the room, weaves in and out of the icons behind the desk, drifts up to the rockery with its waterfall; the water just doesn't look right, there's something about water that makes it hard to look realistic through computer generation. After a few more swims around, the fish returns to the boat where it needs to be lifted back up. Despite the beautiful graphical display, the fish and the fisherman, it's all just numbers, computer generated numbers. And that's exactly what the fish reveals to you. Security Level Green, Rating 6. Access 8, Index 10, Files 10, Control 9.. Slave, unknown.

Phisher hauls the fish back into the boat and takes a moment to ponder the information the fish returned with. He pulls another tasty looking fish from the netting and whispers instructions to it before setting it loose. The fish swims across the foyer and begins to interact with the icon for hotel booking, hoping to locate a guest listing for the hotel.

The fish swims downwards and circles around the attractive female icons that act as the concierge, greeting customers and taking bookings. The fish follows one of the icons across to a desktop computer icon, examines the icon typing for a moment, then swims in circles around the computer. It stops momentarily, looks upwards toward the fisherman in his boat, wags its fins, then circles excitedly around the computer icon again and again.

Phisher commands the fish to stay in place and then pushes the boat over above the computer icon. He reaches into the hull and pulls out a trusty bamboo fishing rod. The line is draped over the side and it extends to fish. With a twitch he sends another command to the fish, probing the file to determine if it is protected by any form of encryption or IC.

Except for a computer password to access the computer filing system, there is no active IC running on the icon. The fish nudges its 'nose' against the computer screen, then comes away satisfied, travelling back up to the fisherman in his boat.

Phisher casts the line into the computer icon, the hook acting as bait as it swims around inside the contents of the database, searching for the data related to the hotels booking records.

The hook phases through the computer screen, reaches into the file itself, as your hands grab and adjust the fishing rod, making tiny adjustments so the hook finds its target. "Rooms registered with exactly three guests." is the search parameter. Three rooms feed back through the fishing line, sending the data down to your deck to be analyzed; Two men and a woman have rented one of the apartments for a short time, which the desk clerk has marked as suspicious and perhaps unscrupulous. A man, woman and a teenage girl are in another room, they've been there for the past week. Lastly, a man, woman and female child are in room 905, currently booked under the 'fathers' name, Drake Romero. Real subtle name. It's noted that further SIN checks should be carried out, but that information has since been deleted, though not from the prying eyes of a decker.

Phisher sends another twitch down the line, instructing the bait to search out the housekeeping records.

As time passes, mere seconds in the real world, your decks sensors find multiple hosts attached to this one. The elevator, which looked like part of the scenery, is actually the path to another host. A security station entrance is off to one side, while a managers office is off to the other side. It's the latter location that the fish decides to travel to with the next question regarding 'Housekeeping Files'. The line extends as the fish swims off toward the Mangers doorway, swimming side to side as it stares at the closed location.

Phisher begins reeling in line as the boat travels towards the fish. Upon reaching the manager's door, the boat comes to a stop. The front of the boat begins to glow, and then the familiar light beams begin tracing their way around the shape of the door, interfacing with the access code, attempting to fool the doorway into letting the boat past.

It doesn't take much effort to nudge through the door; instead of the door opening, like a phantom fisherman, your entire icon phases through the locked door and into the room beyond. Out of sight of the general public, the cost spent on this section of the system is much lower. A basic table sits in the room with a chair opposite, a computer sat on top. Filing cabinets are pushed up against the wall, while one wall is entirely covered by a map of the complex, though it appears blurry unless you focus in on it.

Phisher pulls the boat to another stop, and frees another sea creature from the netting. This time a spiky sea urchin is released. It rolls out of his hand overboard and begins darting around the host, searching for those house keeping records once again.

There's barely a pause, the little sea urchin drops out of the boat and darts straight over to the computer placed on top of the deck. It throws itself against the keys, tapping out instructions until the data starts to feed back to you about room 905. "All housekeeping staff are instructed NOT to access room 905. They have asked for strict privacy and, as you know, residents on the 9th and 10th floors are our special guests. We grant their every wish. If I hear of ANYONE interrupting their business, I will have their job.". He seems like such a nice guy, this manager.

At Phisher's mental command, the sea urchin moves over to the map. Green beams arc out from its spikes scanning the map on the office wall.

The urchin comes to a floating stop in front of the map, bobbing up and down as if it were in water. The file slowly loses its blur and comes into focus. It's an active file that you can access freely without system alert, a white board with marker pen drawings that you can slide left and right or off the whiteboard completely, into a little folder on the edge. There are also other folders containing more map files that you can drag onto the board to view.

The map shows thirteen levels; the ground floor, the underground, the roof and ten floors inbetween. Each one is mapped out and each room on the map has a touch sensitive operation that shows you how it appears in the real world. There are also links for each room to other files in the office, should you wish to know more about them, though they're also more likely to activate a system alert through use.

Ground Floor: https://www.mipui.net/app/index.html?mid=m634dprydmb
Underground: https://www.mipui.net/app/index.html?mid=mkjm8nshtxu
First Floor: https://www.mipui.net/app/index.html?mid=mconxqtjg0b
Floors 2 to 8 are as the First Floor, but the Staff Room/Elevator become two additional rooms.
Floors 9 and 10: https://www.mipui.net/app/index.html?mid=mtvcc85fodc

At Phisher's beckoning the sea urchin shakes for a moment and then sends out 4 of its spines, sticking to the map like darts in a dart board. A blue beam of light connects all 4 spines in a cross pattern, which begins undulating against the map as it analyzes the icon.

There's nothing nasty hidden on the map files, they seem like private access files for the manager when he's logged in.
Phisher sends another mental command to the urchin, who begins drawing it's spines back in, pulling a copy of the hotels maps down into the deck's storage memory.

The files are reasonably small, being little more than pencil drawings with links attached. The links are removed from the downloaded files, leaving only a copy of the entire hotel map to be downloaded into the decks storage memory.

Phisher recalls the urchin and then turns the boat about. Heading back into the main office…

It must be a good fifteen seconds since Trista sent her text message to Gretchen; the woman is eager to get started so she types again, "Gretchen! Are you there? Did you take too many of those pills? <they were great, by the way, I'm so awake right now! Though that could be the soykaf I've been drowning in.>". That'll do, Trista smiles to herself, pushes the send button, then throws herself into her couch and props her feet up onto the table.

«I know, right? Better living through chemistry.» Gretchen takes a moment to send this to Trista in the midst of gathering up her possessions from the diner booth. Jacket on. Buttons. Pull hood out of collar. Back to the texting with, «I'm gonna head to the hotel soonish. One stop at home, then Sioux sector.»

The fisherman guides his boat through the office door once again, phasing through as if it wasn't even there, returning to the exquisitely designed main foyer. Across the room is the security area, a massive troll security guard standing outside of it. The boat glides through unseen waters and across to the security door, but the troll steps in the way, raises a hand to the front of the boat and catches it, halting its movement. "Sorry bud, s'curity persons'ell only.", he says in a strangely cybernetic/robotic voice.

Phisher stops the boat at the security guards prompting and eyes the large icon. His head dress reverts to the conical asian fishing hat and begins sending out circling beams of light scanning the entire foyer.

« Moving so soon? » Trista sends a message back; just as she was getting comfortable on the couch. Up she jumps, around the room, gathering her equipment, tucking a very heavy pistol into her jacket, a few extra bits and pieces in a bag. It's good to come prepared. « We need a plan before we go running in there. »

The beams of light circle outwards, brushing over the various items and icons inside the host. A white glow surrounds a strange man resting in the seating area. He looks like a private investigator, complete with fedora and long coat. He has a large newspaper opened in front of him, his eyes occasionally peering over the top at any suspicious activity.

Phisher sizes up the large troll security guard, standing on his tip toes in the boat, but given the size of the troll, and the presence of the private eye, decides better of what he was thinking and returns to the center of the foyer. He pulls out a traditional chinese script writing set, complete with ink pot, brush, and all. He begins writing on the 'paper' the top of the brush seeming to suck in elements from all around the foyer as the paper begins to interface with the accounts management portion of the host.

The private investigator peers over the top of his newspaper again, watching the strange fisherman doing his thing, drawing in data streams from around the virtual building. His head ducks back down behind the cover of the newspaper when the access code is in place, the security guard returns to leaning against the wall, ensuring nobody enters the locked room.

The paper in Phisher's hand turns into a badge, which he puts on his simple robes and displays proudly. Point at it while flipping the bird to the private eye. At the speed of thought a message is then compiled, encrypted using the same passkey as before and sent off to the trix mail addresses Phisher has for Gretchen and Trista. Once decrypted the message reads, "URGENT READ NOW: Inside the hotel. I have maps, and the room number I think target may be in. Unable to confirm definatively if target has left room. Suggest we create fake reservation and continue recon in meatworld. Hotel is asstight security, will need a decent SIN for the booking. Mine are not sufficient. Can either of you provide?"

Mere moments/a virtual eternity later…

« Missy Vaughn — CAS-07451-000R3W-00083N-17D »

Gretchen reluctantly sends a fake greencard SIN for the CAS, complete with a work history that checks out, a lifetime's worth of pay per view trid purchases, every visit to a theme park, every last little detail down to her Missy's favorite brand of cigs and shoe size.

Another ten seconds having passed, Trista is just leaving her room when a little alert bleeps on her pocket secretary. She throws her bag up onto her shoulder, a shuffle to adjust the weight, then reaches into her jacket and pulls out her pocket secretary while continuing her walk to the stairs down. After reading the message, she pulls a wire from the PocSec and pushes it into her datajack; it saves so much time on typing. Reply all: "I have a fake SIN but not to a good enough rating for that sort of hotel. I can pull someone off the street for a few days and use theirs?". If only sarcasm was readable, but it's hard to tell if she's serious or not. She encodes the message, hits send, then receives Gretchen's message and responds again, "Pretend I didn't say anything.".

Phisher takes the response and his newly minted badge and returns to the booking computer icon. He begins typing and pulls up the register new guest form. He adds the appropriate contact information to make the reservation look like a legit record for the hotel, and makes doubly sure the record says 'Paid in Full'. He then inserts a command set, instructing the script to trigger in 36 hours time or at his command, to erase the reservation record and then wipe his account from the system.

CONTACTING THE CONTACTS:

Having received the info from Phisher along with the basics on Arasaka Gardens from a quick pocsec browse for 'places to stay in the Denver', Gretchen hustles out of the Red Rock and saddles up to head back to a safehouse of hers for some gearing up. She thumbs out a reply to Trista while her bike warms up, then heads out. The message is a reiteration of her previous text with a little more explanation, « Yeah, I'm not heading in totally blind, I just meant I'll be heading to Sioux in a bit and that we should meet near Arasaka and finalize our approach. I need to run some things past some people. I'll get back to you ASAP. »

With her pocsec still wired up to her datajack, Trista feeds the message directly into her mind then pulses out a response. « I'll find a place near the Gardens and let you know. I remember a bar being a few streets over. » The message pings out to Gretchen, the woman gathering up the last of her things including some suitable clothing for the high class establishment, then she stops and sends out another quick message. « Good luck. »

Gretchen zips out of the diner parking lot, leaning into a sharp turn to head back toward the salon without crossing any sector borders. It's a quick commute, a practiced route even, consisting of a few shortcuts through lesser-traveled back streets and narrow alleys. She parks around back and heads upstairs, taking the fire escape into the second floor workshop rather than risk being harangued by the ladies of the salon for not using the conditioner she was gifted for Christmas. She flumps down onto the couch and begins to make a few calls and texts to dig a bit deeper than her preliminary pocsec searches from the Red Rock.

Brandywine looks over the data sent to him while the call continues, a nod at one or two things he spots, then gives up the information, "Drake Romero. Is that what he's going by now? His street name is Scorch; always sounded dumb to me, but he had it since he was a lot younger than he is now. His name is well earned, he's one of those magical adepts. Part physical, part magical? If he's not punching you with fire he's throwing fire from a rooftop. He's a tough one. He dropped off the street some time ago, put himself up as a bodyguard for corp-types, made a killing in every sense of the word so I hear. You should be careful around that one.".

"I don't know about the rest here. The woman looks nice enough, but you can never judge a book and all that.. If she's got a history I haven't heard of it.".

With her phone tucked between ear and shoulder, Gretchen pulls a collection of weapons from under the cushions of the sofa she nests on from time to time. This particular sofa is up in the workshop, turned to face the wall which makes for a cozy, semi-hidden sleeping spot, and it's currently piled up with messy blankets and loose laundry in a state somewhere between clean and dirty — it's kind of hard to tell. She's not the tidiest. At the info on Scorch, she moves to the crafting area and kneels down to the floor, setting the casings for a pair of aerosol burst grenades on the surface of one workbench, right at eye level due to her positioning. From a locked drawer she pulls small cartridges of a blue gel-type substance and carefully inserts these into the casings.

She sighs, sealing the first of the hyper grenades with shaky hands. "Danke, Arthur. I appreciate it. I'll be as careful as… usual…" She hangs up and sets to finishing the second grenade.

Cynthia's next on Gretchen's list of peeps who might know anything about this situation — not for any particular rhyme or reason, she's just savvy on things in general. She'll probably be pleased that the German girl isn't trying to contact her at four in the morning like usual…

Gretchen shoves various tools in her daily use messenger bag — a maglock passkey that has never once worked, yet she insists on carrying it; lockpicks for other occasions; WD-40 for those squeakier doors; lots of illegal entry-focused items…

The woman replies to the call fairly quickly, likely expecting some important corporate call rather than Gretchen, but she'll talk, she has five minutes before the next meeting. "Is there anything else?", she asks after the list of requests is given. "One moment.". The other end of the line goes quiet while she looks over the transferred data, ".. don't know you, don't know you..", she mutters to herself as she flicks through the people involved, ".. and you.. wait, is that..?". Her voice becomes more clearer as she goes back to the call, "Just a moment..". The woman can be heard tapping a keyboard, though you have no idea what she might be looking at. "It is! I thought I recoginized him. The man who put a gun to his head? That's Mr. Vicente. I know his name, it'll come to me in a.. Alberto! That's it. Alberto Vicente. I've met him once, but only to shake hands, I was meeting his wife Maria, she's a medical scientist; she's mostly interested in finding cures for diseases so she wasn't what I needed. What a lovely woman though, she /will/ be upset.".

"This hotel, Arasaka Gardens, it's owned by a rising corporation called, no surprises, Arasaka. They're growing in Japan and have started reaching into the UCAS recently. They're a megacorp so they have fingers in everything, but are primarily focused on security. Weapons, armor, alarm systems, that sort of thing. I doubt they have any relation to this, unless that Drake person is involved with them somehow."

"Lovely talking, we must do it again.", and the call clicks off.

A few minutes later, a text message comes through from Cynthia. "Call me if you want to sell the data you recover. I'm sure I can offer more than you're being paid.".

« Noted. And thank you. » Gretchen promptly replies to Ms. Hallston with a gleam in her eye.

Gretchen's almost fully packed for a night out on the town. She checks ammunition in a couple of the firearms pulled out from under the couch cushions, sliding magazines home with that lovely <shhhk> of precision-machined steel. Meanwhile, she keeps her phone cradled between shoulder and ear, head cocked to the side. "Dial Inix," she commands, and the call goes out.

Naturally, Inix is at a club despite the early hours, the music pounding and causing her to shout, "WHAT?!", before giving that up and finding a quiet spot somewhere to talk. "Arasaka? I've heard it's name but that's about all, they only hire Japanese, they're a little racist like that.". Listening in to the next question she replies, "I don't know those people. I've heard about some Aztechnology medical research of course, but when are they not doing that? It could be anything. Sorry honey!"

No luck there.

Gretchen tsks at the distinct lack of leads, but idly invites Inix to come to a secret DJ Deadm3ow set she heard about through the grapevine. "Saw him on New Years. Best fucking show I've /ever/ seen…" She still can't believe how good it was, but unbeknownst to her, DJ Deadm3ow is a virtuoso musical adept, and they have a way with enthralling the crowds. She thanks the elf for her time, apologizes for the interruption and tells her she'll trixmail a ticket in the next couple days, her treat. Hanging up, she sighs and hefts her bag, slipping a couple of electronic devices into the smaller front pouches. Time to meet up with Trista and get a first-hand look at Arasaka Gardens.

Excited by the idea of a Deadm3ow set, Inix decides to open up a bit more. Just as you're about to hang up, she calls, "Hey!", giving you a second to make sure you haven't ended the call before she can speak, then she continues, "I don't know if it means anything, but a few of my regulars have stopped being regular. It's only because you mentioned Aztechnology; the regulars were working with them. It's only been a couple of days though, they could just be busy.". Another thanks for the tickets and she tells you, "Gotta go! I'm on next.", and she's gone.

The German puffs out her cheeks with a heavy exhale through pursed lips, slings on her bag and does a last minute pocket check. She's as ready as she'll ever be. Time to move out!

After a few minutes, the info broker pings back an encoded datafile with a note attached. « I'm not in the habit of giving out information to those who don't deserve it. Decode the datafile and it's all yours. »

Hah, that's a joke, the encryption was high school standard. Perhaps it was just an insult for asking for the information rather than decking the host yourself. The details are less than you'd expect, but more than you had, so it's not too bad. There are scanners in the main entrance, but rather than call in outside influences, they deal with things in house; they'll take any weaponry and place them in storage until the resident books out or requests them while leaving the premises. Residents are not allowed weapons, authorised or otherwise, the safety of their guests is paramount. There is an average sized security team. One person per floor above the main entrance, five work the main floor mostly due to the security room, and their security includes an on-site decker and magical support. They can also call in additional security from Denver, which does take a few minutes to arrive by armored VTOL. There are security cameras and alarms around the area as well, as can be expected.

BIKERS AND 'RUNNERS, OH MY!

Having an eidetic memory is certainly useful; Trista was spot on, there's a biker bar on the highway leading away from the hotel, about a mile or two away, usually catering to Amerind Bikers considering the location. The taxi cab pulls over and Trista pays her tab along with only a slight tip. The cab was stuffy, smelly, and the cabbie insisted on playing some eastern dance music the whole trip. Making her way toward the bar, she draws a few glances from the bikers lingering outside, but she pays them no attention as she makes her way inside, orders a beer and settles into a shady corner booth to wait for the others. A text message is sent out to both, « I'm at Dayna's Tavern, a biker bar south of the Gardens. »

Gretchen checks her phone, bracing her bike with one boot to the ground at a red light en route to the Sioux sector. Quick, gloved thumbs shoot out a message just in time to catch the transition to green and get moving once more.

«Dayna's. 10-15min»

With the newly arrived data from PieR8, Phisher types up a quick summary and pings the rest of the team with it before making his way down to his coffin's parking area. Starting up the boss hog Tsarina, he puts along the roads out of the Asian district, along the highway ito the Sioux sector. The vehicles struggles uphill as it leaves the closed in urban portion of the metroplex and heads to the outskirts of the sector. Pulling into the parking lot of the biker bar, he grimaces visibly behind the wheel of the little subcompact, noticing all the cool looking bikes. He parks way in a back corner so he doesn't have to be seen getting out of the car by any of the biker dudes.

Gretchen actually stops at a McHugh's to grab a McMuffin because breakfast was what, like an hour ago? Hour and a half maybe? Ze German has ze insatiable appetite. Then it's back on the road, balancing upright while she chows with both hands as the bike automagically guides itself thanks to gyros and other fancy gadgets. Leaning into turns is a little tricky, but it's not a streetrace, it's muffin time and a morning commute.

Phisher gets out of his vehicle and walks across the parking lot towards the bar entrance, pausing occassionaly to admire some of the bikes parked out front, "Some day…" he mutters under his breath as he steps inside and looks around for Trista…

The bikers, mostly Amerind, don't seem particularly interested in the new arrival, except for one or two giving a cursory glance. Inside, Trista is seated in a shady corner booth with an untouched beer bottle in front of her; it's too early to be drinking, but she had to look like she had a reason to be here. Raising a hand when Phisher enters the bar, she makes a lazy attempt at getting his attention.

Phisher nods with relief at Trista's wave. Feeling very out of place, he makes his way quickly across the bar to her booth, sliding in across from her, "Good Morning." He has a worried look on his face, "Sorry about the security thing. I was concerned that if I caused an alert the target might run. As far as I can tell they don't know that we know. Didn't want to chance it." He holds up one hand and makes a cutting motion on the lower joint of his pinky, "I would….but I'm chinese."

Gretchen claps the little bits of flour from her gloves as she finishes the final bite of her McMuffin at the Sioux border checkpoint. She eyes the patrol dogs and drones with a bit more interest than the Amerinds at the toll booth, and slips her Sally Amsel SIN to a bored woman in uniform. The check goes off without a hitch and she soon guides herself into the lot of Dayna's, kickstands her pseudo-retro bike and resettles her gear bag by tugging on its strap as she steps in, circle shades and breather mask in place.

One of the bikers upnods toward Gretchen, a rugged looking man with hair halfway down his back, entwined with beads and feathers in places. "Nice ride..", he tells her, then goes back to listening to his small group, who are talking about smashing something up last night. It might be best not to ask.

Trista spots the woman arriving through the window, checks that she doesn't run into any trouble, then looks back to Phisher, "You did more than I expected and were smart, so..", a hint of a smile in appreciation. "You need a drink? You look like you need a drink.", she teases, sliding the untouched bottle across.

Gretchen vent-mutters, "Damn straight," and nods to the biker on her way in. She shoulders the door open while staring the man down (or up, rather — she's rarely taller than anyone, ever, in this godforsaken sprawl). She doesn't mean trouble in doing so, just some posturing as unfuckwithable. She gets really bold sometimes, especially after a good ride. Be that as it may! She seats herself with the other runners and removes her mask, breaking its little hermetic seal over nose and mouth with a faint hiss of air pressure balancing.

Phisher nods quickly, "Yeah I should order something. Have you been here before, they have anything good?" He turns to look as Trista's gaze moves towards the door acknowledging Gretchen's arrival, then back again, "So based on what we've learned. Brute force is out of the question, yes?"

"It's my first time in here, I saw it in passing once.", Trista explains, a glance up at the bar to see what might be on the menu. It's not the nicest place in the world, the floor has more beer spills than woodgrain, but it has a certain rustic appeal, right down to the antlers above the bar and the jukebox happy to play country classics. There's even a small stage in one corner, with wire mesh in front; this place must get rowdy at night. There doesn't seem to be any security here, unless you class the huge biker Orc behind the bar that's wandering back and fore, he looks particularly mean.

"He picked the right location, that's for sure.", Trista replies, once Gretchen has seated herself.

Gretchen sets her mask down and swings her bag from back to front, reaching a gloved hand within. She quietly murmurs in a low voice as she exposes a dart pistol while trying to keep it out of the bartender's view, hidden below the main flap of her messenger bag. "Gamma scop and MAO cocktail if we need it…" She reconceals the weapon and lets the bag hang at her hip by letting gravity pull its weight down on the seat next to her.

Phisher nods a greeting as Gretchen sits down, eyes widening in appreciation as she shows off the equipment, then frowns, "So this went from tracking a run away wageslave to actual runners involved very quickly." He scratches his chin nervously, "I got us a reservation using the info Gretchen provided for a room across the way from targets room, near elevator. There is no camera watching that portion of the hall according to the maps. We should be able to see if they head to the elevator. Not sure what the play is though. Security is pretty tight there, and the top two floors are for 'special' guests…"He adds while making air quotes, "They may have backup in another room. Who knows."

Gretchen chews her lip and nods to Phisher as she follows along, but she's spacy, and begins looking around the room, doing a blink-and-stare at the mounted antlers, then letting her gaze drift to the barkeep. Snapping back to reality she quickly snatches her riding helmet and the knit cap worn beneath from her head to shake out her platinum-white hair from matted to messy. The hat is tucked in the half-helmet's bowl and set beside her. "I think we'll have to do a bit of a stakeout." She sighs. "Maybe a meet and greet with the happy family." She coughs into a gloved hand and makes as though to rise. "What do you want?" She gestures a thumb to the bar and raises her eyebrows over her round black flipshades.

A glance is given into the bag, the glance shifting up to the bar to check if anyone is watching, then Trista returns her gaze to the pair opposite. Except for the barstaff, there's nobody else inside the room at this hour. "It's a good place to strike from, if we can. They have to change the guards at some point, or they need to use the bathroom, or whatever else. They're only human.. mostly. We might be able to find a good moment to strike if we're patient.", she shrugs. "The other option is to switch me for the guard, if that's possible.".

At Gretchen's question she raises a hand, points to the beer that's already on the table, untouched.

The German points to the beer with a 'huh' face, mouth skewed to the side. She notes it for her return, seeming set on talking with the beefcake ork with the sharp-tusked frown.

Phisher continues nodding nervously as he takes in all that is being said. Responding to Gretchen's question, "Something strong." He turns back to Trista, "Might work. I could try again once we're on site, maybe…to get the cameras down, or something. But anything related to security is gonna be tough, should be a last resort in my opinion. The decking I mean."

The huge Ork notices the approaching woman and leans onto the counter, forearms down. "What can I getcha, sweetheart?", he asks. For such a large man with such rough features, he seems quite amiable.

Gretchen one-eye squints, scrunching up the left side of her face in a 'this may be a bit of a longshot, but…' expression. As she flips the dark lenses of her shades up to reveal the prescription lenses beneath, she tilts her head out to one side and licks her teeth. "Got a 'conference room' and a bottle of decent bourbon?" Her accent is noticeable and the wide collar of her black peacoat is popped, meeting her hair in the stark contrast of black and white, mirrored by the heavy eye makeup and black lip stain against pale skin.

Lifting a hand from the counter, the Ork rubs his jaw, scraping over a few days old stubble. His gaze moves from Gretchen to the two at the booth, taking them both in, then back to the small woman in front of him. The side of his mouth lifts into a grin, then he tips his head toward the stage, or maybe the doorway next to it. "Hundred n' hour..", he leans back, reaches under the bar, pulls out a key with a tag attached that reads 'Private'. "The first one's on the house. Make sure ya come back, eh?". It probably isn't free for the first, but nobody else is here and he seems to be laying on the charm to try and get repeat custom. He slides the key forward, leaves it sitting in front of Gretchen. "One rule. Don't bring trouble here.".

Gretchen slips a hand to an inner pocket, stating, "* * * *" while raising a pretend oath-hand with thumb and forefinger extended toward the ceiling, pressed against one another, not unlike a fingergun, but palm facing toward the boss man. (Cityspeak)

Phisher watches the exchange between Gretchen and the bar keep then stands from the booth, nodding his head in her direction while looking at Trista in a 'get of load of this' type movement, "Shall we?" He grabs his things and follows after Gretchen.

The pocket hand withdraws a battered certified credstick that has been through so many hands it must be a goldmine for criminal forensicologists… A field day for hte science cops. Gretchen keys in a sum for a few hours' time right off the bat without questioning the fee.

Gretchen does sound like an alien using the multilingual mishmash of cityspeak. That's for certain.

Pushing to her feet, Trista gathers up her bag and slings it up onto her shoulder, adjusts the weight, then gathers up her untouched beer. Moving up to the bar, she gives the barkeep a respectful nod, but waits for Gretchen to lead the way before moving on.

The Ork seems to appreciate the payment, despite the offer of a freebie, so he turns and gathers up a bottle of bourbon from behind the bar, placing it down in front of Gretchen, along with a couple of glasses that are surprisingly clean. "Enjoy.", he says. Noting a couple of the bikers outside looking in, he raises a hand and moves the fingers in a few small gestures; anyone with sign language would recognise the word, 'Runners'.

Content with that, the bikers go back about their business.

Eyeing the bottle of bourbon, Phisher heads towards the stage area, giving a curt nod and smile at the bar tender, "Thanks." He giggles nervously and heads over to the door, waiting for Gretchen to arrive with the key and open it.

Gretchen turned to look up at the antlers once again and went quiet with her head craned back for a moment, but she catches up to unlock the door, leaving the key with Phisher by pressing it into his palm, then she darts back to the bar. A thumb and a tilt of her head toward the entrance, or more precisely the crew outside. "And if the crew out front need a few rounds, start me a tab."

She catches up a second time.

"I'll let 'em know.", the Ork replies, then watches the little woman head for the door, before returning to his work of getting the bar ready for tonights chaos.

Trista walks casually over to the door and waits for Phisher to unlock it, then steps inside to see what she the room has to offer. It's a lot cleaner than the rest of the bar, has slight padding to the walls, perhaps some sort of soundproofing, while a white noise generator sits on a table in the middle of the room. Gretchen might also notice a shiver in the astral as she enters the room, an active barrier to stop astral snoopers. There are a couple of comfortable couches in the room, a table and chairs, secure matrix access and a display board. Nice!

Phisher walks around the room, whistling appreciatively, while checking out the matrix access point, "You know, this life aint all bad." He puts his things on the table and sits down in one of the chairs around the table, pulling out a chip from his bag. He plugs his deck into the display board and powers it up, pulling up the maps while waiting for Gretchen to return.

Gretchen eases the door closed, peeking out with one eye until it snaps shut softly. "It can be," Gretchen mutters aimlessly and ominously, taking her own seat and pouring out little sips of the golden booze for herself and Phisher. Trista of course as well if she morning-drinks. She examines the label, rotating the bottle, then sets it down to blink at the data screen.

Phisher grabs the offered drink and slams it back, "Thanks. I'm not good at this kind of thing. Makes me nervous." He smiles again and pulls up the map, "So the reservation I created is for Room 908 as you already know. I chose it because its near the elevator and in an area that doesn't appear to be covered by a camera. I don't know if there are guards on the floor though or where they might be stationed. Probably near the elevator knowing my luck so far. This part of the work is not my area of expertise ladies. I follow orders from this point."

Throwing her bag down on one of the couches, Trista walks over and flicks on the white noise generator, a subtle hiss filling the air for a second as it calibrates. "It can be very bad.", judging by the tone, it comes from experience. Walking over to the display board, she looks over the maps and slides the underground into view. "That was my original plan, when I saw the maps.", tapping the vehicle entrance point, "Through here to the elevator, climb up on top and ride the thing to the 9th floor. Though we don't know how they're going to react when we come knocking..", letting that thought drift off and letting Phisher say his piece. "It's very likely to be the elevator. They can see who's coming and going from there and can easily move around the rest of the floor.".

Gretchen just gives a quick but understanding nod of her chin to the man's admittance that it's not all summertime funtime doing crimey wimey stuff. She then starts making a cat's cradle hand puzzle with a balled up length of red yarn pulled from a pocket. Rectangle becomes star becomes ladder becomes… "Is /their door/ in view of the cameras?" She's looking down at her hands rather than the screen now.

"For all we know, they could be great people." Gretchen tosses this out, adding "Maybe they'll agree to sell, if all they're after is 'yen."

Phisher nods in response to Gretchen and moves a cursor over the portion of the map showing the security camera, "Their door is right next to the damn thing. Assuming this is their door. I'm fairly certain it is. Only room in the hotel with a man, woman, and child registered as guests. Manager's notes basically telling the housekeeping staff to leave that room the hell alone. Has all the hallmarks, but I haven't visually confirmed." He hangs his head shamefully, "I really wish I had decked those camera, but I started getting really worried I was gonna spook them, so I pulled out." He looks up thoughtfully at Gretchen, "Could be. We don't know the motivations. Maybe she's just scared and they had some kind of bug out plan, and they're activating it now. But if it comes to blows…." He holds up and flexes a wimpy bicep, "I'll take the kid."

"It's possible.", Trista agrees. "They might be happy to talk, if we're not pointing guns at them.", a faint shrug of the shoulders, "But if they don't, then it could get awkward.". Looking back at the maps, she slides over the 9th floor layout and looks it over, "Are you able to go in from the site? Would that be easier to get to the cameras?", she asks. Looking at the booked room, 908, she ponders briefly. "The elevator is very close to the our door. If we can take out the guard and drag him or her inside, I'd be able to cover their position. My plan when we booked the room was to go in as Gretchen's sister..". She turns toward Gretchen, then starts to change appearance; her hair shifts from its blue, swimming through the colours until it matches Gretchen's white. Her eyes change color to match, her skin pales to the same tone, then she starts to speak and she has a voice similar to Gretchen's but 'older', it even includes the German accent, "I can change my face too, little sister..", she teases.

Phisher shrugs hopefully, "Maybe. I left myself a passcode so at the very least I wouldn't have a tally coming in, might give me more attempts to get into the security office before an alarm is generated, but that portion of their system is locked down tight. Maybe we can get lucky and one of the guards is carrying a password in his wallet or something. Unlikely though. I also thought about maybe if the rooms come with some sort of tridlink or terminal, decking into that and activating a camera, or seeing if we could pull more data from that. I guess it depends on what the play is. Are we going to actually try to make entry on the room?"

"Yeah, awkward." Same with the pronunciation as Gretchen raises her string-tangled hands on the crown of her head and leans back. She definitely sounds like she agrees though, and begins pondering with eyes rolled up to the ceiling, at which point her eyes start to follow the seams of the room. "The fucking trench coat is going to be a problem… But consider that he's a pyro, right? He won't want to go all action sim if the girl is near." She turns in her chair to examine the door now, hands falling to her lap. She totally missed the face morph until she's referred to as little sister which causes her to turn around. "Shit—" She wasn't expecting that.

She shakes off the surprise and resettles her glasses, black lenses up on her forehead, transparent pair revealing her sleep-deprivation. "I do think it's important you both get inside." She points a finger through what is now just a tangle of red string now with no structure.

As if it was nothing, Trista looks back to the maps, her skin tone returning to normal, eyes shifting to their strange orange shade, her hair however stops at brown; perhaps the blue is artificial. Her voice also returns to normal, but for someone who can look and sound like anyone, what exactly is normal? "That's a good point, but he's still a fighter even without the fire, if he decides to attack it could get painful. I'm an adept, but except for a speed increase, I don't fight as well as most. I've always been an infiltrator.". Lifting a hand, she starts nibbling on a fingernail as she considers the options. "If even one of them came out of there, that would be my work done, but with them guarding each other full time..", she shakes her head. "Any thoughts?", she asks.

Phisher seems impressed with Trista's abilties, "Can you gender bend as well?" He crosses his arms in thought, "Maybe you could pose as a guard." He quickly pulls up the underground area map, high lighting the generator, "If there is a guard near 908, we could grab him like you said. I'm sure they have comm's and the like on them, so we could hear whats going on, and if one of us managed to cut the power to the place. Might cause some chaos. Trista could knock on the door impersonating a guard, give them the whole, there's been an incident we need to move you someplace safer, and when they open, we rush them? We have tranqs and stuff right?"

With a nod, Trista replies, "I can change my eyes, hair, skin, face..", teasingly she adds, "I could even be you if I tried.", speaking in Phishers own voice. "I don't change anywhere else though, so..", her hands raises to illustrate the breasts, though thankfully.. or sadly, depending on your take.. she isn't so large there, a little disguising would fix that. "I have a whole room full of disguises I can use to cover up the missing pieces.".

Gretchen narrows her eyes at Trista for a moment, suspiciously, but takes a tiny sip of the bourbon now finally, and clacks the glass back down, unconcerned about the potential false representation in the future. Instead of dwelling on that potential misfortune, she rummages through her bag and pulls out a little device that resembles an old car stereo detachable face with dials and jacks instead of a CD slot. She clacks that down beside her glass with just a thin line of bourbon at the very bottom of the bucket. "Scanner, might give us an advantage if they rely on comms." With a turn of her wrist, she uses the rectangular device to gesture to the map. "That stretch of hall with no cameras is going to be useful. I have a feeling…" She grimaces, lips drawn tight about the power, however. "I'm sure they have backups and contingency systems, I dunno." Regarding tranqs now, the German girl pats a pocket, then ninja stars three generic sterile-packed med-kleen patches.

The small packs land roughly in front of each of the three of the runners. "Very strong knockout patches. Let's each carry one. Just in case."

She keeps her dart pistol to herself though.

Phisher nods at Gretchen, and reaches for the offered patch, "I am willing to try to deck the camera again, but I'm not sure I'm not going to make the situation harder for us by doing so. IF this wasn't time sensitive, or involving people who can throw fire like a baseball, no problem. But given the circumstances…we might be better off just assuming the cameras will be in service, and we're not going to be able to get conventional weapons on site. I think the kid is their weakness. I'm not saying we threaten the kid or anything, but we may have more luck that approach. Maybe we can convince the kid to open the door when the parents are out or something."

Gretchen looks to Trista after Phisher's suggestion. "I mean, maybe they'd let someone in to fix their…" She draws a blank and spreads her hands wide as if trying to present something that simply isn't there. Red string jumbles around the gloved fingers of her right hand but the left has slipped free of the tangle. "Sink?"

"That might come in useful.", Trista agrees, gathering up one of the patches for herself and tucking it away. Moving over to her bag, she rummages around inside for a moment then pulls out a Walther Palm Pistol, resting it to one side while she takes off her jacket and places that down too. With a few presses, twists and slides, her entire forearm flips open to show a secure compartment inside. Reaching in, she removes what seems to be an Electronics Mini-Toolkit, stores that away in her bag, and replaces it with the Palm Pistol. "At least I'll have that..", she says, clicking the compartment closed before pulling her jacket back on.

Hearing Phisher, she notes, "The parents don't go out. I may be able to sense where they are in the apartment, so at least we'll know the best time to strike, but that means standing under the watch of the security camera. Which will be fine if I'm the security guard at the time, I guess."

Phisher is getting more and more nervous as time goes on, "Well. I have an Elan, but I'm not exactly the sneaky sneaky type…" He pauses for a moment, "At least not in the meat world. I bet the security guards have some kind of master passkey you could use to open the door. But then it's a matter of who's faster. I bet ol' trench coat is pretty fast. If we catch him by suprise though, might be ok. And security guard might have some kind of weapon we can pilfer. I wish I was of more use in these situations. I had been meaning to get some kind of chemical help or something. Maybe those bikers got something I can take that will speed me up? With the element of suprise we might have an advantage. I dunno. Maybe we'll have a mexican stand off and he won't want to come to blows around his family. And who knows if the lady is wired up. Maybe we'll all stare at each other and talk nicely."

This gear evaluation thing is snowballing for Gretchen, who first looks on the hidden compartment with a nod of admiration, then starts doing a little display of available alternatives. The dart pistol, now in its sleek holster is laid beside the scanner. Then an electronic passkey, a similar electronics kit, a bundle of zip ties, duct tape, a slim spool of catalyst rope, Mentos, the Fresh-Maker and more.

Watching Gretchen pulling things out of everywhere, Trista can't help but grin, moving over to sit down next to the woman and look at the collection in front of her. "I used to have access to one of those..", she says, pointing out the passkey, ".. back in the Corp. They're so expensive I had to return it after each mission.". Reaching over she grabs the Mentos and threatens to open the pack, a glance at Gretchen with a raised eyebrow of 'Can I?'. "I think, for now, we should go to the room and see what we can see. If we're lucky, opportunity might present itself.", though by the tone of her voice, she doesn't sound so sure that's going to happen.

Gretchen snaps her wrist at the mention of the Elan and another Morrissey pistol appears like 'voila.' She beams. "Good call, chummer." She pushes the barrel down on the table, straight down like Scrooge McDuck's cane overlooking her gear as though it were the money bin. "But I hope it doesn't come to that," she then adds soberly. The Alta, cousin of Elan is set down with the rest of the items.

Reaching to pour himself another shot of liqour, "I agree, let's check in. Only so much we can plan with the intel we have." He downs the bourbon quickly, "I'll bring my deck, and some tools just in case, but I don't think I'm good enough to smuggle a weapon. The deck, I doubt their checking for masking chips at this kind of place. As far as they are concerned, I'm a programmer and we're travelling on business."

The German nods from the Mentos to Trista. As for the passkey, Gretchen waves at it with disdain. "This one is crap, but you never know." She loves the thing, but it looks to be in less than stellar condition.

Let's not forget everyone's favorite taser dart gun now. A Pulsar is placed with the other items, also in its own slim holster, buckles folded beneath it.

The Mentos are popped open and one disappears without trace, chewed on every now and again by Trista, then the rest of the pack is placed on the table. "Then I guess that's it for now. Let's hope this goes well.". Standing from her spot, she reaches out and gathers up her bag, throwing it up into its usual spot across her shoulder. "Everyone ready?", she asks.

Lastly, but not necessarily least, Gretchen pulls out one final item, eyeing Trista seriously. She grasps two items together with a small click inside the bag, purses her lips and slowly places twin bottles onto the table, tiny, and held together as though made to fit snugly. They each have a black cap and small labels that read "Spite" and "Malice".

Looking from Gretchen to the two bottles and back again, Trista says, "Should I ask, or is it better not knowing?", a hint of a grin at her comment.

Almost to the door, Trista's phone suddenly starts to ring, so she pulls it from her jacket and checks the incoming number. "Weird..", she mutters to herself, then answers and places it to her ear. "Hello?". There's a few seconds as the person on the other end starts talking, Trista taking the time to seat herself down on the arm of the couch. "I'm in the middle of this job, you know that already, I can't just drop everything.", she replies. Another few words are sent from the person on the other end, the woman starting to look a little angry and frustrated, "What about Katra? Isn't she available? Or one of the cadets?". She puffs out a breath, annoyed, listening to the reply, then answers back, "I'm not dropping this. Are you trying to kill my rep or something? We're almost done here.". Rising from the seat on the couch, she turns her face away from the rest of the people in the room, walks toward one of the walls. "No! No, don't do that, they can finish this.". Lowering her head, she exhales another annoyed breath, trying to calm herself. "Fine. I'll be there.", and she clicks off her phone.

"Well, that's just great.", Trista says, turning to you both again, "The Johnson for this run has another run for me, personally. Something I used to do with the Corp. He wants me now or he'll pull this one out from under us.", a shake of her head. "I told him no, you can do this, but I'm not going to be able to.".

Gretchen seems apalled at Trista's urgent evac, but her response is only to tug the tangled red yarn from her hand in order to reach into a pocket for her phone. The first words out of her mouth if Kraft answers are, "Gonna need a hand…"

Looking at Gretchen's reaction, Trista is visibly hit by a wave of sadness. "I kept you the run, you'll get your payday plus my share…". Not having the time to discuss it now, she moves toward the door, "I'll explain my situation another time, it's.. complicated. I'm sorry.", then she turns and makes her way out.

It's a foggy night in the Queen City, and somewhere a mama's boy is dying. At least, that's what it sounds like when the two trogs upstairs start banging boots like it was the last day on earth to squirt out yet another squalling litter of tusks to pollute the city and drive down real estate. Kraft squeezes his eyes closed, slowly rotating his wrist to slosh the cheap synthol in its cheap plastic cup. A proper man'd have crystal glass and a bourbon you could bounce quarters off of; Kraft was lucky enough to get this.

Which is where the phone comes in. False eyes flick up, glowing softly in the dark stripes cast by his dirty window. Tucking a burning dogear in the corner of his lips, letting smoke drift over plastic plating as the transducer does its text-to-phone work back along static lines in his fake arms.

"Sounds like my every Tuesday so far. Didn't you get me wrapped up in a case involving the Sinner broads and something from beyond space and time?" Even though the voice is flat and electronic, text-to-speech and all, one can almost see that sardonic smirk. "What've you got for me, sister?"

Phisher is checking out the matrix access from this conference room, his Icon surfing around on the RTG while we wait.

"Not my fault," Gretchen declares, holding up a finger in a reprimanding gesture as she paces, phone held against one ear over messy white hair. The run parameters have changed due to a lack of Tristapower, and she expresses this in phone-safe terms from the back room of Dayna's Tavern in the Sioux sector. Data recovery with a potential meet and greet with… unfriendly colleagues.

"Sounds like a two kilo mess. And here I am, with only a one kilo bucket." Grumbles the old borg, even as he's picking up that polymimetic mask. It always feels tight at first, squeezing that kid friendly feature over his plastic mug, but the results are .. well, they aren't quite human. But human enough at a distance. He takes a moment to adjust the nose to get it to quit laying sideways. "Meet you in two shakes, doll. Try not to lay a hole in me with your ratta tat when I come knockin', alright?"

And then it's time to put on the fedora, swing on his coat, check his pockets and hit the road. It'll take him a bit to get around to Sioux - but between the Kia Zephyr and a little dark jazz on the radio, he'll be there.

The location is Dayna's Tavern, a biker bar alongside one of the long stretches of road winding through the Sioux countryside. A dust covered clearway acts as a parking area for the vehicles outside, though at this hour there aren't many around, half a dozen bikes with a handful of bikers stood outside chatting, most of them Amerind. The inside of the bar has a rustic wild-west feel, mixed with modern day; round tables with simple chairs, comfortable booths, a jukebox playing a variety of tunes, most of them very loud or classic country/rock. The wooden bar is manned by a massive ork that seems more interested in setting everything up for the nights adventures rather than worrying about customers. A large skull and antlers are placed above the bar, while in one corner a stage is set up, wire mesh in front of it to protect the artists from physical attack - this place must be rough at night.

Gretchen makes the arrangements if the bartender is willing — allow a private dick into the back room, along with a bag of pretzels — and a final request after inquiring about the ork's name. She extends a hand, practically a futile gesture for the difference in mitt sizes. "Gretchen." She nods. "Oh, one last thing. Do you have a hitcher jack..?" She scrunches up her face as though not expecting a positive answer on that one.

The huge Ork places his muscled hand into Gretchen's, giving it a shake along with a few gang-style twists. "Virgil.", he announces as his name. The question of a hitcher jacket raises an eyebrow on the Ork, "Not somethin' I have on tap..", he replies. "Most of us here come ready wired.", he explains, a tilt of his head allowing a look at the datajack near his ear. "The bikes are all rigged.".

Bikers. If there's one thing the old borg's learned to hate more than trogs, mimes, or lawyers, it was people who couldn't count above two. Four wheels master race. The Kia Zephyr doesn't exactly scream 'iron fisted hombre', so it gets parked around back, away from the main road where it won't crush the sensibilities of the precious gang bangers. It'll probably lose wheels if he's not fast enough, but luckily there's some daylight to keep things civil. The old borg taking a moment to light another cancer stick, letting the cherry flare and the smoke curl up around his fedora. Run hard-liner gloves over the edge of his coat before making his way inside. Taking a moment to cup his dogear, looking more noir that wild west as he moves towards the bar proper. If Gretchen's there? Well, it's time for hullos. Otherwise, he'll have to swallow his gord and go talk to -yet another- damn tusker.

Gretchen awkwardly skritches at her head, fingers lost in her hair as she dips her head sheepishly. "No problem, Virgil. Thanks. We'll try to be out of here as -" She tilts and lets momentum pull her back toward the back room before she's done speaking, not making eye contact. Her feet hustle to catch up to her lean. "- soon as we can…" She quickly shuts herself back in the room with the decker.

Phisher is still off in the trix somewhere.

Gretchen turns from peeking out the door as it snaps closed, addressing Phisher. "Cyborg should be showing up soon. Don't freak out." She holds out both hands splayed, unsure if the man can even hear her.

The Ork, now known as Virgil, waves it off, pushing away from the bar and to his work behind it. "Take ya time, sweetheart, we usually don't get custom 'till six..". Reaching down he pulls up a large wooden crate full of bottles and starts filling the gaps in the alcohol display.

Lady Luck's a fickle woman; She'll run her nails down your back in one moment, then pull out your heart and toss it out the window the next. Both hurt, but one of those you can get people to pay for. In this case, Kraft doesn't have to do much more than to show up - coat and fedora and all - and he gets the thumb towards the back. Door cracked open, false eyes in first as Kraft keeps himself turned sideways. After all, never know which way that last bullet's going to come from. Seeing that he's not walking into an ambush, he finally closes the door behind him.

".. friend of yours, sister?" He asks of Gretch, nodding towards the man slumped while his mind goes wandering.

Gretchen carefully eyes the door, but looks relieved at the sight of the borg. Well, not frantic at any rate. She jerks a thumb toward the decker as she steps up toward Kraft and leans her free hand on a chair back. "Phisher. He's been handling some data services. Danke. For showing up on short notice. Fucking situation and a half…" She turns and continues to explain the situation, referring to the data screen on which the maps of the Arasaka Gardens hotel are displayed, along with surveillance clips and pics of a woman with her daughter and a man in black; a runner named Drake, aka Scorch.

While floating around the Matrix everything operates at hyper speed, so while killing a few seconds perhaps a visit to Shadowland? That's where Phisher finds himself, a new post catching his attention. » Code required to access locked datachip. Payment of 5,000Y to be made upon successful access. Contact: TM.dnalwodahS|hcrocS#TM.dnalwodahS|hcrocS
There are already a couple of replies:
» We give you the code, how do we know if it's been successful? This sounds like a scam.
» You edit in responder code, drekhead. Fraggin' newbies.

A handful of devices are laid out haphazardly on the central table of the back room, including a frequency scanner, a maglock passkey, two matching bottles of perfume for some reason, one glossy black, the other silver. A roll of Mentos candy with a few taken out. These all seem to spill from Gretchen's black canvas bag.

The chinese fisherman takes note of the post and trixmail address and pulls himself out of the matrix, rubbing his eyes as he adjust back to the meat world, "Wait till you get a load of this…." He opens his eyes and looks around. The faces that were there when he jacked in, are not the same faces now, "I thought she said she couldn't gender bend? Or change these?" He eyes the large man…thing suspiciously, while waving his hands around the chest area."

"Yeah. Guess I'm getting known as the driver now; I fix a lot of screw ups."

Grins Kraft, lips twitching sideways, before he glances back to Phisher. But he's all ears for Gretchen, his false eyes finally turning back as he goes over the listed data they'd gotten so far. Rubbing his chin as he considers.
"If she's on the run, we're not gonna have a lot of time. Usually I'd say go after the service men; Start sniffing around their backends and see what messes they've got in their lives. You can put a mean squeeze on them, or clear up a few problems for a favor up to that room. But we're not going to have that sort of time to spend. Maybe catch them leaving..?"

And then Phisher is back. "People call me a lotta things, bub. 'Woman's a new one."

Gretchen points between the men, index finger one way, thumb the other. "Phisher, Kraft." She tangles fingers in her hair, pacing distractedly. "Basically, we have a room — /I/ have a reservation" She emphasizes this slightly due to not particularly enjoying the prospect of infiltrating the hotel solo. "or we can wait for them to leave. They're on the run, so they'll definitely be moving soonish." She plants her hands on her hips, sweeping her peacoat aside to reveal the self-made band shirt below, a black tank top that reads SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE in block lettering.

Phisher nods curtly at Kraft, "Kraft. Nice to meet you. Very nice….uh…body?" He shakes his head, "That didn't come out right." He turns back to Gretchen, "I think our man in black is trying to sell the data? At least do something with it. A post just popped on shadowland offering 5k to crack an encrypted chip. Poster was TM.dnalwodahS|hcrocS#TM.dnalwodahS|hcrocS"

".. Yeah, thanks. Picked it up at the hardware store, bub."

A single bald eyebrow is lifted, while the old borg brightens the cherry on his dogear by drawing it into whirring lungs. But he's got that sideways grin on his face. "Well, that makes things easier; Just say you got the hardware to crack it, but you gotta be face to face. If Mohammand won't go to the mountain, we'll C4 that sunnuva bitch and build a strip mall. Or something like that." A vague wave of his hand.

"The problem with catching them on the run - is that they're running. And we don't know which way. Right now we've got a local and a potential in."

Phisher shakes his head, "Nah, the post is asking for code. I think he's just asking for a utility to do the work for him. He's not about to meet anyone face to face." He scratches his chin thoughtfully, "Have we thought about just talking to them? Let them know, look we found you, and I'm not exactly decker of the year material. Why not just check in, and try knocking on the door? Kraft here is scary looking enough they may talk first and shoot later? Convince them to give up the data, and then we can fake old girls death or something? They gotta know if they ever show their face around here again, you know who is coming for them."

Kraft grumbles a moment, and shoves his hands in his pockets. ".. Kid's got a point, sister. We get setup and ready, I can take a bullet or two. I mean, damn well don't -want- too, but if we can wriggle them out with a jaw-down instead of a show down..?"

Phisher nods and continues, "I could reach out via the trixmail, look we know where you are, we are on scene, we just want to talk. You know what it's about, but it doesn't have to get violent with your family around. The job called for the problem to disappear, I'm not keen on shooting up a family, or leaving kids parentless."

Gretchen's face grows long, with closed eyes, raised eyebrows and a tight frown. She throws her hands up in the air and declares, "Fuck it, yeah. I guess I need to head in." She begins tossing her items back in her bag, eyes narrowed, considering options. She's not incredibly tech-savvy, and turns to Phisher to reveal this in a single short question. "You can still get texts when you're jacked in, right?" Her hands cinch down the main flap of the bag, which she then hoists over her head with a little duck.

She turns to Kraft, nodding, lower lip tucked up against the other.

Phisher nods, "I just need to hook my commlink up to the deck. We could all go in together. The reservation isn't just for you. If we can make them feel outnumbered, overwhelmed. We got place decked, but we wanna help out a fellow runner etc. Profit for both parties? I don't think any of us want this to end violently, especially not in this place. Too much security and how knows what else. We help them, they help us. And maybe Azzies dont come kill us all?"

"I've got a few things might help us at least get a read on what's going on in there; Depending on how close we can get it. A recorder and a vidlink transmitter I keep on hand for when Daisy down the street is knocking boots with the milkman and Mister Daisy's got his nose in the wind. Worse to worse, I can feed a recorder right into a live commcall if you knuckleheads want to listen in."

Begins Kraft, hands out of his pockets as he grimaces. "I've done my fair share of shooting down uglies, but usually I ain't got to meet their kids afterwards."

Gretchen pulls a transceiver ear piece from a pocket and holds it out, displayed. "Can you connect this up to…?" She gestures to the deck.

Phisher continues his line of thinking, "We don't know for sure if they are going to ammicable to terms, so maybe we should prep for a fight just in case. I suggest we continue down the non-lethal path we've bee discussing." He holds up the tranq patch Gretchen provided everyone, and then turns to KRaft, "You got any hidden comparments in there?" He pats his own arms indicating where he thinks Kraft might have a comparment or two.

Gretchen offers Kraft the powerful tranquilizer patch that was tossed in front of Trista earlier. It's in sterile packaging. "In case it might come in handy. Just so we all have one if need be."

"Generally speaking, mac, I keep things in my pockets, not my forearms."

Deadpans Kraft, reaching up to pinch the bridge of his nose as he looks back over what data they do have on the building layout. "So. What if I duck down the delivery entrance? This might be the prettiest mug you've ever seen, but it's all playdough on the outside. I can shift it around a bit to look like someone else, just takes work and my kit. That, or if our man in the can .." A glance to Phisher ".. can give the cameras a little bump, I'll just roll on in."

Phisher pulls out his own transciever and connects it to a FUP on the deck while giving a thumbs up to Gretchen, "Yeah we can talk through this no worries." He turns his gaze to Kraft, "I can certainly try, the security host is a tough nut to crack, and I'm not certain of my success in that regard. We should have a backup plan in case I fail."

"Mmph. Remind me to pick up a laser mic next time I go shopping. This is the third high rise hotel I've had to snoop on this year, and we're not even out of winter yet." Grumbles the old borg, rolling his shoulders. "I guess backup - they bolt, we chase. Neither of you are on foot, right?"

"I don't see why not," Gretchen considers, putting her hands back on her hips. Her peacoat is flung wide and little clipped-on sheaths are visible on her belt, to either side of a pewter boombox buckle. "The desk is expecting… Me, so I may as well head in the front. I can try to make my way down to help you in," she offers to Kraft. "Those cameras though…" This is to Phisher, at whom she frowns in thought and takes a deep breath.

"My bike is out front," Gretchen offers to Kraft, spinning mid-pace.

Phisher shrugs his shoulder solemnly, "I understand how paramount the cameras are. I will do my best. So Gretchen will go in through front, Kraft through the back, perhaps with Gretchen's help? Then I will reach out to Scorch and tell him the gig is up and we want to talk. Is that the plan?"

"Depends on you, Mac." Begins Kraft, while Gretchen's busy doing weird stuff like sorting her equipment. He turns his head to watch her a moment, before speaking to Phisher again.

"Another gun on scene's helpful. Plus, you, uh.. you able to throw your mind a bit better inside that brick wall than against that brick wall, right? Honestly, tech's not always been my strong point, mac." Says the guy in a tinsuit.

Shrugging helplessly, Phisher adds, "Yeah, I'm not exactly a gun though. But Gretchen might want the backup, just in case it goes south? Or would I be cramping the style? I can do it from either place. We're close enough that it's not gonna be too hard for me to get into the initial foothold. Problem is gonna be the security host, don't matter if I'm here or there for that."

Gretchen does a meticulous pocket check, securing sheaths and holsters after removing her coat and camouflage hoodie. She secures a few things, checks safeties, then layers back up, zipping up the hoodie worn under the peacoat and secures a two-inch wide double-buckled belt attached to the coat itself. "If that's the case," she adds to Phisher while fiddling with the generous cuff where her pistol is hidden, "Yeah, you stay here." She turns to Kraft, clapping her hands to her thighs on the front of her mid-length winter jacket. "Ready when you are…" She doesn't sound ready, but she's full of anxious energy that needs to be directed somewhere. And that somewhere is Arasaka Gardens.

Phisher connects an adaptor cable to his cellular commlink and connects that to an empty FUP on the deck, "Ok, all set here. Once you guys leave here, I will begin to deck my way inside, and hopefully have control of the cameras by the time you are in position."

Kraft, for his part, quietly pulls the Deputy from its concealed quick-draw on his side. The barrels spin as he ratches it loose with a thumb - and begins plucking out the ex-ex. With a grim sort of face, he'll start loading flats; The non-lethal gel rounds. Glancing up once with a shrug.

"She's got a kid."

Is all he offers, before he snaps the barrel closed. A sigh, a tip of the fedora, and a glance to Phisher. "Yeah. Otherwise, you're gonna see a lot of cops chasing a tin man down the road." And then to Gretchen, a wry grimace.
"Here's looking at you, kid. Let's do it."

Gretchen sprays herself with a little spritz from one of her two perfume bottles now, actually just misting the air before her, then stepping into the fine aerosol cloud to let it settle onto her. She quickly runs her hands through her hair — it's messy, but it's actually well-styled, she simply doesn't dote on it. Loose strands of white still fall where they may, but she primps and preens a little bit for the possible confrontation with security if the door scanner pings her for contraband.

The final item, Gretchen's comms earpiece, is placed beneath her still-mostly-messy hair, out of sight. Hopefully. She moves to the door, ready to make the first move. "Let me know when you're at the loading dock. Phisher, if you can send me regular updates, that would be good."

Phisher grins nervously as the duo packs their equipment. He fires up the radio interface, and the transciever, radio checking, "Have fun kids. Remember you can reach me via radio or text. I'll be in touch." With that he plugs the cable into his data jack, keys his deck into 'stealth mode' upping his Masking rating, and his consciousness is zipping along the data line, out the radio interface, across the LTG and into the public host of the Gardens, using the previously created passkey to log in, bypassing the initial security checks. His boat never loses momentum as he approaches the big surly troll security icon at the security host SAN. Taking a queue from his new real life acquaintence, his conical fishing hat becomes a detectives fedora as he proudly displays the security badge for the troll to inspect.

Gretchen accompanies Kraft out, popping her collar and flipping the dark lenses of her flipshades down to obscure her eyes. She nods to Kraft, silently wishing him well, then steps out the front door to approach the gang loitering out front. "Virgil told you drinks are on me, right?" She just wants that to be clear in case the ork hadn't informed them already. "Keep an eye on my bike, would you?" The locals might find it a strange request from a German stranger, but it's free beer, right? Everybody loves free drinks.

One hand tilting the collar of Kraft's jacket back, slotting a wire in just beneath the back of his skull. A faint shudder rolls through the tin man, before he tucks that fedora down low and gives his collar a little fluff. The voice that comes back over the earpiece is that same text-to-speech flat intonation that Kraft is known for - false eyes glancing to Gretchen as he 'speaks' without moving his lips. «See you there, sister.»

And then he's talking outloud, tipping his fedora down low as he passes by Virgil. "Oh yeah? I'll see if there's a clean glass on the way back through, then." A faint grimace, and then it's off to the Kia Zephyr. That strange little urban vehicle where the driver's up, centered, and to the back - while the passengers are a bit forward in the 'wings'. Cheap, economical, and easy to replace.

INTO THE FIRE:

The Arasaka Gardens Hotel is only two miles further up a road which twists and winds through attractive countryside with trees that look centuries old. Alas, there are bikers to deal with first; The bikers outside Dayna's Tavern are knocking back a few beers, despite the early hour, and upon seeing Gretchen leaving the establishment raise their beers in salute, "Frag yeah, good on ya, chica.", one of them replies. "Not bad. Go do your thing, we've gotcha covered.". For a biker bar, this place is surprisingly friendly.

The road weaves up to the Hotel, a walled enclosure with massive iron wrought gates that remain open. The hotel itself rises upwards, ten floors of glass, steel and shine, a classy neon sign outside reading, 'Arasaka Gardens'. The area itself is incredibly beautiful, well tended gardens, perfectly trimmed bushes and trees, a small lake with fish swimming visibly through the clear waters, a curved bridge passing over the lake for the hotel residents to continue their stroll through the area. It fades from clear areas for children to play in, to intimate well shielded areas with lots of tree cover for more romantic seclusion. The road leads up to the parking lot, expensive vehicles already parked outside. Out of sight of most, behind the main entrance is the delivery entrance, a worn road leading down from outside and to an area beneath the building.

Inside the Matrix, the huge troll security guard steps aside and bobs his head, "Evenin' sir.", he says to the fisherman as he moves through the doorway and into the room beyond. The room is dark with red lighting, it's a small area with an electronics control deck set up along the main wall, which then bends across to the next wall, bends again and comes back toward the entrance. A single seat is placed between all three, wheels on the bottom allowing the person in there to slide back and fore from deck to deck quickly and easily. Above the control deck, dozens upon dozens of security monitors show the various views from the security cameras placed around the building.

Gretchen is nodding to the gang with a thumb pointed over her shoulder when Kraft steps out, at which point she jogs the few paces to catch up to him as he head for his vehicle. "Can I bum a ride?"

Upon entering the host, the chinese fisherman looks around susiciously. Suddenly the light on boats bow increases in luminosity and the beam begins to rotate, scanning the surrounding iconography and Phisher attempts to learn more about the host he's just entered.

Inside the darkened room, the light from the boat brightens everything for a few moments, the beam of light drawing data back into the boat itself. Everything here is data, ones and zeros, a small burst of them passing through the deck and into Phishers datajack, straight to the brain. « Control: 11, Slave: 13 »

".. Usually a gal buys me dinner before she tries to get me shot up or bum rides."

Grouses the old borg, before he'll open the side of the Zephyr to let Gretchen in. His own place being in the center, and slightly behind the passenger seats; The compact's got a strange design, but it also features a hell of a lot more things that most compacts don't carry. Namely, storage. It also smells like an ashtray.

The drive up the road is mostly quiet, with Kraft considering the problems as they begin making their way up along the walled compounds main road, towards the split. ".. Two ways we can play this, sister. I can drive you right up to the front and take off; You've got a reservation, after all. Or I'll drop you at the main gate and go find a quiet patch to park my wheels at."

Gretchen pipes up, turning to look at the detective, holding the tip of a cigarette out the window. Might be the last chance for a smoke for a while. "I didn't want you to risk getting your plates snapped, but it might be weird if I just come strolling down the road…"

"Fair enough. Worse to worse, I know a trog or two that can swap plates later. It'll stink, but my name's already mud, so what's the worse that can happen, yeah? Maybe our deck-head'll come through, Sister."

States Kraft, as he looks to turn towards the main road up to the gate. Flipping his own dogear out the window, poly-face set in a grimace.

On the approach to the large gates, the pair manage to spot a turning at the end of the wall, further up the road, but only Kraft can see the small sign signaling delivery vehicles to turn left at that point. There must be another road to reach the delivery area.

Gretchen nods up to Kraft, taking a final drag before discarding her own cigarette out the window as well. "He's been doing good work. He's got us covered." She tries to portray confidence as they pull up to the gates of the compound, but some genuine concern is visible. There's a pyromaniac with mirror shades between her and her money, after all…

"Hm. Service vehicles to the left. That's my stop after I drop you off, doll."

States Kraft, false eyes whirring softly as he focuses down on the sign as they pass. He upnods forward, breathing out slow. "Alright. Let the man know we're on the hop; I'll be heading around to the side. Who knows, maybe he can scrub that plate." And, finally, Kraft glances aside to the twitchy witchy who keeps dragging him into trouble.
".. You ready?"

Phisher finishes scribbling with the ink set. The icon turns into a cartoonish badge that says, "SECURITY" on it, which he pins to his robe. He slides over to the monitors and pulls up the slave systems for the camera feeds, preparing a loop to splice into the feeds at the correct time, focusing on the delivery cameras and the cameras on the 9th floor for now. While sending neural instructions to the slave device he sends a message via his configured transciever to the team. Instead of Phisher's voice its text-speech transliterated. «In positiion. Cameras Ready. Don't have long. Go on your signal»

The German woman nervously fidgets, snugging her gloves by pushing into the spaces between fingers, or pulling her beanie on, then removing it and trying to un-muss her hair. She takes note of the service parking and nods, still tousling and un-tousling, tilting a sideview mirror. The wind through the open window isn't helping much. She settles back and takes a deep breath, then nods. "Ready as I'll ever be…"

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « We're heading into the compound now… »

A quick scan of the security screens reveals the two security cameras that cover the delivery area. At present, there are no deliveries being made, the staff are relaxing in their booth - visible through the glass - one drinking a soykaf while another is watching a small tridscreen. Nothing else is moving down there. On the 9th Floor, a single security guard stands at the side of the elevator, hands clasped behind his back, light security armor visible along with a heavy pistol in a secure holster at his hip. Nothing else moves on that floor either.

Commlink-Phisher> Phisher sends, « 1 guard on 9th floor. Security Armor and pistol. Delivery area all clear except for staff in booth. »

The Zephyr whirrs as it slows down in the arch, getting Gretch as close to the front doors as it can before it idles. Kraft reaching over to open the side door, and let it swing open before moving his hands back to the controls. Obviously, it'll be up to the concierge to help the lady dismount this .. well.. 'humble' vehicle. Kraft keeping his gaze off to the opposite side, so his false eyes aren't quite as noticable.

At the entrance to the hotel a small Japanese man awaits. Noting the car approaching he steps forwards, waits for the vehicle to stop, then moves across to help the young lady out. "Good morning, miss.", he says politely, his accent noticable but not overly strong. "Do you wish assistance with anything?", the man bowing in traditional Japanese style. "Your baggage, perhaps?"

At the delivery entrance, what appears to be a member of the kitchen staff steps out of the staff elevator and walks across to the loading dock. His hands pat around his pockets and pull out cigarettes and a lighter, the man coming to a stop to look out over the empty loading dock while enjoying a cigarette.

Gretchen clambers out and settles her bag, letting it hang fairly loosely but ready to be cinched tight at a moment's notice. She rakes a gloved hand through the hair she just tried to un-muss, and the whole house of cards topples, leaving her with a lopsided swoop on top of her head and stray white strands falling where they may.

"…I'm good," is all she offers the concierge and strolls toward the doors, very much feeling the sensation of rattling dice in the back of her mind as she does so.

Not showing any insult, the small Japanese man bows politely again, "Very well, miss.". He bows to whoever is in the car too, then shuffles on back to his spot near the door to await the next arrival.

Reach over; Close door. Seal shut. Zephyr whirrs as it accelerates smoothly away, leaving Gretchen to her uncertain fate! .. While he, himself, takes a right (formerly left) at the gate, cruising his way towards the service entrance. If there's a big lot for all the staff, that'll be his. Otherwise, he'll have to find someplace shady to park.

«Package delivered, bub. I'm on my way to the service side. What've we got so far?»

Commlink-Phisher> Phisher sends, « 1 outside the service side. Kitchen staff. Should be smoking a cig. »

Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « Hm. Got anyway to pull up staff records and get me a name and a basic bio on this guy? »

Gretchen crosses the threshold…

Before even entering the main building, Gretchen can see the exquisite interior through the glass doors. Two beautiful Japanese women work the front desk, one currently talking to a resident (or potential resident), while the other is tapping something into a computer that sits on the desk before her. The flooring is beautiful white marble with a cracked detailing effect, the walls are pristine white, artwork of an oriental persuasion filling the blanks between attractive gatherings of vines, flowers and bushes that add to the theme of 'Gardens'. Once inside, to the left a set of black leather seating is arrayed, couches, chairs and settees, while to the right is a bright rockery, twinkling water spilling down a waterfall path to be cycled back up in a neverending display.

Around the back is a car park for staff, then both a walkway and a driveway to the underground entrance of the hotel. The doors are open during the day, allowing the staff inside to enjoy the sunshine (or admire the fact they're out of the rain), while waiting for the next delivery to arrive.

… and enter the foyer Gretchen does. No blaring alarms, no turrets dropping down from the roof, she simply strolls through the entrance as if she were carrying nothing but the perfume she sprayed on herself. From inside, two security guards flank the entrance, out of sight from outside but clearly visible on each side once through the doors. They glance at the new arrival but as there's no alarm, they perform nothing but a cursory check before watching the room again. Perhaps to give the residents a sense of security without making them feel oppressed, these are the only two visible guards here.

Gretchen's short boots have tapered, chunky three inch heels, and she clomps through the doors into this glamorous getaway, unable to properly appreciate its luxury due to the lightning racing through her veins. Her anxiety is high and she pauses just beyond the doors, doing a double take over her shoulder as though she was certain that she'd have alarm bells clanging beyond a shadow of a doubt. She quickly recovers and makes her longest strides toward the two ladies working check in, keeping her head fairly low and making it a bit of a point not to stare directly into any of the cameras. She waits to be called on, SIN-bearing credstick in hand, tapping it into the palm of the other.

Scanning the face of the member of staff on the loading dock, feeding that information into the security files, brings up the name, 'Okura Kisho', one of the hotels many chefs and of course, as to be expected here, a very talented one.

Commlink-Phisher> Phisher sends, « Smoker's name is Okura, one of the hotels's chefs. »

There is no pause, no wait, as soon as the woman behind the desk notices someone approaching, the computer is completely forgotten and she's on her feet, welcoming Gretchen to the hotel. "Good morning and welcome to Arasaka Gardens.", she says, her voice as sweet as candy, "Do you have a booking, miss?", she asks, a few key presses bringing up the booking list. "Ah, thank you.", the woman taking the credstick and slotting it into the reader. "Miss Vaughn, it's a pleasure. One moment.". A polite bow and she steps away for a second to gather up the key, which she offers to Gretchen. "The elevator behind will take you directly to the ninth floor. Lunch is served after 1pm..", she continues giving details a plenty, before finishing with, "Please, enjoy your stay."

Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « Nothing else, huh? Damn. Guess I'll make do. Just hope his smoke's a short one. »
Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « .. Got a bead on who's name is on the hotel? The man who'd get pissed off at a muss? Just kicking cans here in case it comes up, no particular plan. »

It's only a few minutes and the man taking a cigarette break drops the last onto the floor, grinds it to dust with his toe, then turns and makes his way back toward the staff elevator. He hovers near the elevator until it arrives, then disappears inside and the loading dock returns to relative silence.

Taking his sweet time, Kraft pilots the zephyr into the staff parking lot. He doesn't park at the ends, or off by himself, no; He parks just off center. All the better to blend in with all the other small time mook cars, even if none of them look like him. A rifle through the contents at the back of his compact, before he shoves a pocsec into his pocket. And then settles back, false eyes on the mirror for a moment as he waits. If Okura doesn't look like he's finishing up soon, it's time for plan B. Otherwise, it's sneaky tim-

And it's sneaky time.
Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « Eh, nevermind. Got the cameras? »

Gretchen just keeps her mouth shut, false half-smile painted onto her face in black lipstain. She watches the clerk answer her own inquiries, checking the data against the falsified reservation with great success. She reaches out to accept the key, then offers a bob of her head in thanks with the key held up. She swallows once, then moves toward the elevator, murmuring a quick phrase for the team that could perhaps be mistaken as perfectly harmless if overheard. «…all good…»

Phisher triggers the loop on the loading dock cameras. Just a nice, lazy day down there. He sends the reply over the link. «Smoker went back up the staff elevator. Loading dock cameras looping now.»

The two staff members remain inside the small staff room in the delivery area, a window looking out so that you can see them inside. They don't seem particularly interested in what's going on in the loading dock, however, they have cameras for that sort of thing; one continues his soykaf, another watches a music video on a tiny trid screen.

Gretchen breathes a sigh of relief once inside the elevator but refrains from speaking over comms for fear of mics hidden everywhere. To the ninth floor she goes.

Inside the Elevator there are no controls, only a slot for a keycard with instructions to 'Insert Keycard'. It seems the elevators have set destinations based on where you have access to be, a security feature to stop people wandering around floors they're not supposed to be on, perhaps. Entering the keycard causes the elevator to rise upwards until it reaches the 9th floor. The doors slide open and the security guard just outside glances back at the new arrival. "Good morning.", he says in his Japanese accent, a polite bow, then he goes back to duty, standing close to the wall. He wears light security armor and carries an Ares Predator II, a closer check may reveal visible cyberware, but it may look odd to be staring at him.

Gretchen clomps through yet another passageway, somewhat concerned for another potential scanner, but that doesn't seem to be the case. She leans left, hard, the instant she's out of the lift, spinning on the toe of one boot with a whip of white hair and a hand raised over her shoulder in a silent acknowledgement of the guard. Key. In. Door.

Once inside, she reports to Kraft and Phisher immediately. She also pokes her head into the fridge. «How's it looking? I'm inside.» She unslings her bag and takes note of the room composition, nodding before beginning to stalk up to the doors leading to the bed and bathrooms. Perhaps she's rehearsing.

The decorations on the floor match the overall 'Gardens' theme, with potted plants and flower baskets, while the inside of the room is much the same. The room is high lifestyle, without a doubt, every amenity is at your fingertips, from the entertainment centre to the hi-tech kitchenette, everything here is made to make life easier and more enjoyable. Even the sofa chair has a built in massager, vibrate those aches away, while watching the massive trid screen lining the wall. The room has matrix access which is linked to almost every hi-tech item in the place, you can access the matrix on the trid, the toaster can download updates directly so you get the perfect morning toast done to your desires, and the number of channels on a matrix linked trideo could take most of the day to get through.

The bathroom.. well, that's built for royalty. The bedroom? For sim stars. This place is expensive and beautiful and more than you could possibly afford..

Also, is that a room design console? It certainly is. Tired of looking at the same four boring walls? Create your own! Or set a theme from the many selections; how about a view of the Puget Sound from high in Seattles Space Needle? An oasis in the middle of a desert? No? Perhaps lost in a forest? Or have fun and scribble on the walls using the design console. It's your room! Do what you want with it! (Note: Damage will be charged to your account)

Gretchen immediately crawls into the tub, coat still on, bag slung around to her front. And no water of course. Her boots rest against the far side, knees propped slightly up, laid back to chat with the team. «Can you clear a path of cameras down to the loading dock for me?»

Responding to Gretchen's request, Phisher begins looping the feeds from the 9th floor, through to the loading dock. «Camera's looping. Move now.»

Gretchen growls and clambers up out of the tub, sprawling and twisting to wriggle back to her feet. She glances in the mirror, lifts her glassframes to stare into her own eyes for a split second, then promptly lowers them. «Heading down.» She mutters to the team just before opening the door back into the hall. Once out though, she skirts around to the other side of the central column surrounding the elevator shaft to try her luck at the stairs. The guard will obviously be able to hear her do this, but she's trying to act as a visitor might and act like you belong. She's just playing the part of a visitor who maybe prefers the stairs to the elevator.

The guard is oblivious for a moment, until the door to the apartment ker-klunks closed behind you. He looks over to see what you're doing, but doesn't make an attempt to follow, perhaps trusting in the security cameras and the staff viewing them to alert him if anything needs checking on. Just as you're about to go for the door, however, you notice alarm sensors in the top corner. Push that door open and an alarm will trigger. Most people read the sign, "Fire door. Emergency Use Only.".

Gretchen totally missed the blatant sign advising her not to use the fire door, but those contact points for the sensors really draw her attention… She turns an about face and heads to the elevator, trying to let her bangs obscure her face as much as possible. Maybe she's just some eccentric traveler. Her coat is tres chic! And she smells like ten thousand dollar perfume, so who knows? She dreads the potential wait time on the elevator and braces herself for… smalltalk…

A press of the call button has the elevator rise incredibly fast; it knows there's nobody in there so can travel faster than normal and please the customers in less time. There is no small talk, the security are well trained and talk only when spoken to, except for simple pleasantries. This one doesn't say anything, but does offer a polite bow as Gretchen enters the elevator. That same slot asks for a keycard, which allows only one destination from here; back down to the ground floor.

Close door button, close door button, hurry up, hurry up. Once the doors are closed, the card is slotted, and only once there is some physical distance between herself and the guard does she speak, muttering her request for nice, quiet stairway doors. «Also, I might need you to guide me, but be unable to ask you to do so. If you see me pause, let me know what you can see but I can't.» She pats her hair over the earpiece after she falls quiet. Once back at ground level, Gretchen gives her concealed items a quick pat check, then resettles her bag and steps out as the doors slide gently open.

The door opens to the ground floor, light spilling in to the elevator as they slide open and reveal the beauty of the area outside. The main desk is straight ahead, while, with it getting closer to lunch time, people are starting to linger to await the red rope barrier to be removed from the entrance to the dining area. Some are also near the gym area, a pair of women in their late teens chatting near the entrance, wearing uncomfortably tight gym clothing, hair pulled up into bouncy ponytails. Past the front desk, the two security guards stand motionless next to the entrance doors.

Kraft cycles another deep breath through his lungs, kinda wishing he had time for one last cigarette. Even men on death row get that, don't they? At last, he dips his fedora down, puts his hands in his pocket and starts hugging the left (his left) wall as he heads down the ramp. There's a trick to it; Not too fast to trigger that periphereal motion alert that's written into the monkey brain. Not too slow to stand out. Break up the profile by keeping his face half hidden, so the unconscious mind doesn't go pattern locking on him. It's all a science, a little bit of gut, and a hell of a lot of luck to pull it off. Just keep watching Patchy the Pirate or whatever it is these mooks like to stare at when they're joking off on the job…

The men in the booth seem completely uninterested in the outside world, in fact one even turns his back to the window to lean against the unseen desk, raising a soykaf to his lips. The security camera in the corner seems to be staring at Kraft as he idles into the large delivery area, big enough for a sixteen wheeler to reverse into. He doesn't have to travel that far, however, as only a few meters away are the steps up to the loading dock. Another camera stares ominously at him from another corner, off to one side of the staff elevator.. Phisher has the cameras cycling footage though, right?

With yet another ninety degree spin on the toe of one boot, Gretchen begins to wrap around the central elevator column to her right, taking a glance at the security station on the way, then halting before the fire door into the stairwell, turning to face the dining hall with her back very near to the stairway entrance. One step backward could see her through and heading toward Kraft on the next level down. Should anyone spot her, she pulls out her phone and consults it as though checking the time against the lunch schedule of the hotel.

Off to the side off Gretchen the security door, the word 'Security' printed onto it gives it away, looks solid and locked, nobody stands guard over it; it doesn't seem like anyone would need to. With the time approaching 12:30pm, the dining area will soon be open, as noticed by the two staff members on either side of the entrance, ready to move the red rope barrier aside once given the signal. They're not focusing on anyone, giving glances to people who might be waiting nearby, as well as the kitchen staff behind them to see how they might be coming along. A small family of three move up to the rope and wait to be let in; a mother, father and teenage daughter, all well dressed and no doubt the owners of bulging bank accounts. They might act as a nice distraction or able to block the view, should Gretchen attempt to slip away.

Gretchen keeps her face angled down, hair draping forward over her circle shades, pretending to be occupied with her phone while peering at the assembled employees and hungry family surreptitiously, nearly over the frames of her glasses. She ever so slowly eases backward one hand at the small of her back to catch and depress the door's push latch.

Downstairs, there doesn't seem to be anyone else around at the moment, with enhanced hearing there's nothing to be heard but a faint hum coming from a few doors away in the generator room, the whine of the elevator changing floors. Back on the main floor, a gentle push and a slide and the tiny light on the alarm sensor turns red, but thankfully the signal has nowhere to go right now. Gretchen slips into the stairwell and the door hisses quietly closed behind her.

Slipping around the mooks who couldn't be bothered to even glance up was one thing; After all, they've got staff coming and going. Kraft keeps his fedora tipped down though, as he crosses the damned cameras; This was always the shakey part. Trusting some ghost in the machine had his six and wasn't out to sell him upriver. Sister'd done him fine so far, but she was about as stable as a house of cards on a pogostick, as far as Kraft was concerned. Real twitchy.

Wasting no time in case one of the mooks decides they need to drip that soykaf out the other end, the old borg hops up the loading dock. Pulling out his pocsec to give his hands something to keep busy with as he makes his down the dock. But rather than go -right- to the staff elevator? He takes a detour off to the center; Pressing his ear up against the door for a moment to listen. He's got to have a backup plan in case someone comes -down- the elevator, and he won't get far in an old duster. If he doesn't hear anyone on the otherside of that door, it's time to press the call button on the staff elevator.

«In, sister. How's kicks on your side?»

Now in the stairwell, Gretchen risks a comm to the team, muttering quietly as she peers up over the railing, then down toward the basement. «I'm in the stairwell. Alarms are quiet. Heading down.»

The old borg pauses, blinking a few times, then eases on through the doors to the right (his right) of the staff elevator. «Could've told me that before I hit the call button.» Unfortunately, text-to-speech doesn't quite convey the same grousiness of the noir reject. Moving his way behind the center column elevator and towards the emergency staircase as he sends his next silent communique to the team as a whole.

«All the alarms on the staircase surpressed, mac?»

With the elevator having been the owner of one kitchen staff, it doesn't have far to travel as it's only on the next floor. The elevator slides down and comes to a gentle stop. It's a fairly large elevator, used for transferring items in storage to the staff room or kitchen area, but there's nobody in it at the moment. Leaving the elevator behind and heading for the stairs, the hum from the generator room grows louder. The basement level is nothing like the rest of the building, it has a cramped feeling to it, there's not enough lights in here, it's certainly not the most comfortable working environment.

Two by two, Gretchen eases her way down the stairs, skipping every other one in a slow creep, taking the longer strides to keep the sound of footfalls in the echoing column to a bare minimum.

Commlink-ALPTRAUM> Gretchen sends, « «Stairwell alarms, shut off, yes.» Gretchen hisses as she covers the distance and the descent, sliding up to the basement door. «Ground floor at least… »

Phisher follows the movements of the team via security camera, looping the footage at the approporiate times to mask their ascent through the stair well. He also keeps the alarm system slave device under control, all stairwell alarms disabled for diagnostic mode.

Kraft squints a few times in the dark, before taping the side of his temple. Honestly, he doesn't have to do that - but who wouldn't? When you get splattered on the side of the alleyway and zipped into a tin can, -you- make up the rules on how your cybernetics work. With a quiet hum and click, the false eyes brighten up and send out tightly coned beams of light. No back scatter; Can't even see them unless he's looking right at you. Creepy, yeah?

And then it's time to make his way to the staircase, tugging it open and glancing up. ".. What's a bad girl like you doing in a nice place like this, doll?" He asks of Gretch, murmuing with a wry grin. Then it's time to close the door and start climbing.

«Which floor, again? Nine? Sweet jimminy cricket..»

Through the security cameras, Phisher can see that it's lunch time. The barrier comes down and the people start heading inside, the elevator races up and down to gather more people to bring to the dining area. He can see the kitchen staff working away in the open plan kitchens, even the virtual tummy grumbles at the sight of the various foods being prepared.

The stairs are a standard fire exit style, they go up, they turn, turn again, go up, and continue onwards for.. so many floors.

Commlink-Phisher> Phisher sends, « Lot of activity in the elevator. Dining hall is serving lunch. »

Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « Yeah? Our man on fire and his broad supping today? »

Gretchen leans against the wall casually, one arm extended overhead, turned at the elbow so that her forearm rests on the crown of her head, fingers dangling lazily over the opposite shoulder. Her ankles are crossed in her easy stance, one boot-toe perpendicular to the ground underfoot. Her other hand is pressed against her hip, elbow pointed out. "Just hanging out, chummer." She drops the casual act and turns, sighing at the prospect of hiking all the way back up…

That sardonic grin slips back up the false man's false lips, before he starts the climb with Gretch. Groaning after the third floor as he's going up and up; The hydraulic jacks help a little, but he's damn near metal all the way through. Four hundred pounds of gizmos tucked into a six foot frame.

«Promise you right now; This jack doesn't kow tow after making me climb all these damn stairs to save his life, I'll split his wig personally.»

Commlink-Phisher> Phisher sends, « No movement from target room. Other's moving on 9th floor. Probably gone by the time you get back up. Don't burst a blood vessle, btw. »

Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « What, afraid I'll leave an oil slick? »

Gretchen just urges the borg to keep on, trudging along with, taking special care to check doors by leaning out, then hurrying past them just in case someone darts through unexpectedly. She sighs a daunted sigh, looking up and around at a certain point, then replies to Kraft, "Don't be such a baby. You should've gotten a complaint dampener…" She's just giving the private eye a hard time, but these stairs are a royal pain. On the brightside though, quiet access to every floor.

"Yeah? One of us has got a pain editor, sister. Only reason I haven't used it yet is I -like- complaining. Right up there with breathing, in my opinion. You got room to complain, you ain't dead yet."

Grouses Kraft as he climbs the stairs. Five, six, seven, eight, when we gonna take a break? And then it's time for good ol' number nine.

«What's the word, bub? Got any hangers on?»

Gretchen pauses with Kraft, leaning forward to plant her palms on her knees as she heaves a deep breath, waiting for Phisher's reply on coast clear, yea or nay.

While the pair grumble their way up 9 flights of stairs, inside the matrix security room, Phisher becomes acutely aware of a new icon. A sensor scan picks it up as another decker in the area, also passcoded to be here and appearing as a normal member of building security, complete with security armor and pistol. She doesn't seem to be aware of the fisherman icon, however, the female figure checking on one of the security screens and tapping away at the security console. She speaks in fluent Japanese, "I'm not seeing the problem. Eight floor, camera.. Ah! I see, one moment.", the figure continues tapping away.

At the arrival of the other decker, Phisher stays put keeping the alarms suppression routine for the stairwell running. He stays put watching the other decker for the time being, sending a data message through the commlink. «Hold position.»

Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « Got someone moving around out there? »

At -last-, a break. Kraft leans his frame against the wall, pulling his fedora off his head and waving it in front of his face. The bald, fake polymimetic mask ending just on the back of his skull. Cheap, pale skin colored plastics and an exposed datajack, with the wire just barely visible above his collar.

The female figure continues typing on the virtual console, looking at one of the security screens, which seems to be flickering now Phisher is aware of the focus on it. Again she speaks in fluent Japanese, "It's not the code. The code is solid. Send someone from maintenance.". Taking a brief scan over the security room, the security guard settles down into the chair and then fades away a few micro-seconds later. Phew, a close one.

As the other decker fades away on some other task, Phisher keeps the validated subroutine running, «Security decker present in host. Will notice me eventually. Maintenance on the way to stairwell. Need to move quickly. I can spike comms on 9th floor guard prior to your arrival. Need to make a move now. Your call.»

Gretchen's face is flushed from the climb, and she rises to take a position beside the 9th floor door, one hand slipped into her coat to grip her taser. «Maybe put in a false request for assistance to 903 or something…» She urgently tries to come up with some means of getting the 9th floor guard away from his post by the elevator.

Phisher pulls up the commlink code for the guard on the 9th floor, making his message data look and sound as official as possible, relying on his many years of working with Asian corporations to legit, "9-1, Control. Failure to traverse on 9th floor South Camera, please investigate."

Through the east camera, the security guard brings a hand to his ear and responds, "Roger that.", in Japanese, then moves from his post and heads toward the southern camera. He reaches the corner and takes a look, but it's a small target so he keeps moving while talking, "I'm registering no damage. Are you seeing me?".

Commlink-Phisher> Phisher sends, « Guard distracted. Move now »

Phisher keeps the guard focused on the camera and talking, "Affirmative. Pan is failing. Will alert maintence." In his most authoritative Japanese, "And fix your uniform before you shame yourself."

«Booking it.»

Comes the commentery by the old borg as he slips out with Gretch, heading to 908. While he'd prefer to one and done before their target makes a rabbit, he can understand wanting to get all their ducks in a row before they yank out the buckshot. Now comes the part where Gretch either looks like a rich gal with a -thing- for tech, or they manage to slip behind the guard and into the room proper.

«What's the plan for getting us back to 905 afterwards?»

The guard continues on toward the camera, completely unaware of the presence of the new arrivals to the floor moving silently behind him. Hearing the comment over the radio he straightens and adjusts his security armor, ensuring he looks presentable. Meanwhile, a cyborg and a small woman shuffle across the floor and into room 908, the door closing quietly behind them.

FACE TO THE FLAMES:

Immediately once inside the room, Gretchen heaves another sigh, one of relief this time, then gravitates to the room decorating tools, making a few marks, then reverting the walls back to their original state. She then sets to work on something a little more elaborate.

Kraft swipes a forearm across his brow, grimacing for a moment before he takes a look around. Then a second look, feeling a bit like a brick someone's thrown through the window as he knocks a bit of Denver off the bottom of his shoes. No one knows threw that brick, it leaves a mess and it doesn't match the decor.

"How'd you afford this joint anyways, sister?"

Gretchen is muraling something halfway between 1600s occult symbology and modern street art, just a quick piece with the digital tools on hand. She seems distracted from Kraft's question, insistently tracing out geometric patterns and filling in shapes with the paintcan setting to get good swaths of red, black and white. She stands behind the sofa to have maximum wall space available. "The uh," she taps her temple right where Phisher's jack would be located.

Gretchen seems anxious, and frustratedly keeps clearing her art piece from the wall with a little remote control, then redoing it.

With the team safely into Room 908, Phisher sends a trixmail message he had typed up for this moment on i's way. The message icon morphs into a cormorant and heads off into the matrix, destined for TM.dnalwodahS|hcrocS#TM.dnalwodahS|hcrocS. When it hits the appropriate inbox it will read: Scorch. We know where you are. You know what this is about. Your hotel is compromised. We don't want violence around your family, and we think that you don't either. We want to help you, if you'll help us. Let's talk this through." Attached to the message is Gretchen's burner commlink code.

Commlink-Phisher> Phisher sends, « Message sent to Scorch. Hopefully he gives you a call. »

"You keep strutting back and forth, sister, you're gonna wear a hole in the wall. C'mon, relax. This is the one time in this whole thing we ain't gonna get shot at for a few minutes. Something to be said for not getting lead in the liver." A pause. ".. For those of us with livers." He finishes, sourly, before moving to the entertainment section. A few minutes later? .. Muzak.
"Damn. Three hundred thousand channels and no jazz."

The message hits the inbox and sits there patiently waiting to be read. A message swims back down the line after a couple of minutes, letting the fisherman know the bait has been taken. Time passes.. five minutes.. ten minutes..

Gretchen's insistent focus on the decorating tools and her strange art piece continue, with her quietly muttering under her breath with every erase and restart. The design slowly morphs from symbology to a strange abstract figure, then to something that very closely resembles a tag seen in and around the Souk.

Commlink-Phisher> Phisher sends, « Any luck yet? We may need to prepare for entry. I'm not sure how much longer I can stay here. »

Flipping the muzak back off, Kraft sighs and glances to the door. Then to Gretchen. Great; The twitch is further off her rocker than a granny in an earthquake. Shaking his head, the old borg pulls that heavy deputy calavier out of its holster, spinning the chamber while he eyes the rounds.

«Been long enough. Nothing on our side. Cameras show anyone moving? .. Might keep an eye on the outside too. If I was them, I'd head out he windows. Well… no, I wouldn't, that's suicide with all the guards and guests. But desperation."

Gretchen turns from the wall to lean her hands against the back of the sofa, looking to Kraft now after all this time, with the word ALPTRAUM scrawled on the wall behind her in black and silver, with bullet hole designs in it which leak black droplets. «No response! Are you sure you hit send???»

Twelve minutes.. The door to 905 opens and a large man in black steps out; perhaps it's just the wide angle lens, but his size seems intimidating, not to mention the scowl on his features. He looks left and right, his fingers flex, coil, flex, flame bursts to life around his hands. Before the fisherman can finish sending a message to the team, the man turns and stomps back into the room, slamming the door behind him. A few seconds later and Gretchen's burner phone starts to ring.

Gretchen starts with a wordless yelp as her phone vibrates in her pocket. She hastily clears her throat and looks to Kraft with her black circle lenses before answering. She has something of a fearful frown painted in black on her pale face. That's an understatement. She takes a shuddering deep breath and rakes her fingers through her hair with one hand while the phone rises to her ear in the other. A quick clear of the throat.

"I'm willing to help."

She tries to disguise her accent, and starts off with the most potentially reassuring thing she can think of to say in the heat of the moment.

There is silence on the other end, except for a whispered voice from a woman saying, "Go on..", not meant to be heard by the other end, yet still it does. "How?", is the only question, the voice is deep and solid, if anyone can sound dangerous from one word, it's this man.

The old cyborg glances sharply over when Gretch starts talking, then leans his back up against the wall beside the door. The deputy drawn and held upwards, juuuuust in case hot hands decides to take matters up.

«Auto-Judge[]» Gretchen (#7451) rolls Negotiation (Fast Talk) for "Trying to explain the situation briefly and concisely: I've (not saying 'we' just 'I' to not reveal other team members) I've found them, and I want the data, but I don't mean them any personal harm. I'll help them get out of this, but I need that chip.":

Gretchen seats herself on the floor behind the couch, out of sight of Kraft, below her tag that reads 'Nightmare' in German. She mutters softly, trying not to reveal her nerves over the phone, and her knees are drawn up to her chest, encircled with her free arm.

"If you can unlock the chip so that we can take the data, you're welcome to it. And then you walk away. And we walk away.". A pause and he adds, "But I doubt that's the deal your employers made, am I right?". The man waits patiently for an answer. The negotiations have gone well, however, he started off ready to punch something but Gretchen has managed to calm him down, make him see things from a new perspective. Now if she can only seal the deal.

Kraft turns his head as he listens - then shakes his head once at Gretchen. He speaks outloud, casting his voice low into a murmur so as to not shake her. Or get picked up by her comm.
"That ain't a lifeline, sister. That's their death warrant. We're the only ones who decided not to shoot first. Better to ditch it and run."

Midconversation, Gretchen clambers up to her feet using the couch back as a support. She grabs the remote control to wipe her design from the wall before she forgets about it. "…Just slot the chip in the hotel PC. That's all you have to do…" She tries to assure Scorch that all will be well, and that she'll help ensure Tasha's safety, and that of Tasha's daughter.

There's a chuckle at the other end, it's amused but not pleasant. "How about I slot an empty chip and you send the code to it?". No, he's not falling for that trick.

"There's no way that holding onto that data will help the girl's chances of survival, Scorch…" Gretchen paces, darting looks to Kraft through her draping bangs. She quickly pulls a cable from her bag now, clicks it into the phone, then into her earpiece to distribute Scorch's response to the rest of the team.

As Gretchen is talking with the man at the other end of the line, the woman finally huffs and says, "Give me that.", the phone leaving the man with a, "Babe, please..", but it's too late, the phone is to Tasha's ear and she's talking and she doesn't sound happy, "They killed everyone. Every. Single. One. They had kids there! This is our proof and it's going to every fraggin' newsroom in the country, you're not having it!". A distance from the phone, a young female voice can be heard, "Mom, why you shouting?", the man moving to intercept, "Go back inside.", he says softly. "Do you hear me?", Tasha states again, "They're not getting away with this!"

"They already have. The best you can hope for is getting your daughter to safety, Tasha…"

Gretchen tries to push that daughter's safety angle.

Kraft pinches the bridge of his nose at that, and holds up the palm of his hand to catch Gretchen's attention. Then? Then he begins to coach in that same slow, low voice of his.

"Yeah. Keep pushing that point, sister; There ain't nothing to be gained and everything to lose."

There are times you don't need to kick down doors and open fire with heavy weapons, sometimes a few choice words can smooth things over; this is one of those times. As Gretchen and Tasha continue to talk, Gretchen calms the woman down, also makes her start to see things from a new perspective. So focused on revenge for those who lost their lives, she almost forgot about those that still have theirs. "You're right..", she eventually sighs, ".. you're right. We're in room 905, but I feel like you know that already. Come and take it..". Another sad sigh and the phone clicks off, the line going dead.

Gretchen slips her glasses up to the top of her head mid-chat, and Kraft can see an incredible amount of tension and fear in her heavily blackened, bloodshot eyes when she sneaks him glances. She finally hears out Tasha's concession and… lowers her phone, mystified, blinking.

Kraft's features, despite the sudden turn in fortunes, remains grim. That, or the accuator in his jaw broke and he can't pull those lips up into a smile. Hard to tell. The heavy deputy gets holstered, the jacket carefully smoothed back over it. He gives Gretchen a single false eyed look, and nods his head once.

"You did good, kid. Talked them off a highrise. Maybe they got a chance." A slow grimace. "Guess that means I'm the punchign bag this round. You coming up behind me?"

Gretchen just placed a hand on her forehead, taking the time for another lap of her pacing before breathing out between pursed black lips. "I'm with you. I'm with you." She can't believe the turnaround, and thoroughly anticipates some sort of trap, but at the same time… "If they try to get the jump on us, all hell is going to break loose, and I don't think they'll risk the chaos." At least she hopes that's the case… She moves toward Kraft and the door. And the guard lurking only a few meters outside. Before the door opens, she asks the team as a whole, «Everyone ready?»

Inside the Matrix, Phisher is getting anxious. «Let's make it quick.» He has the exit procedure queued up and ready to go. With the feeds being looped, alarms suppressed, he is paying attention for that decker to come back.

«No. But since when did that matter?»

Comes Kraft's silent response, and the sly grin from pale, false lips. And then it's time to open up that door like velvet; Smooth and slightly fuzzy? Alright, his metaphor's busted, but you get the idea. It's just a nice leisurely stroll to 905, shoulder against the wall in a casual kind of lean and a knock with a knuckle. Just in case they do decide they'd rather ruckus with gunshots than pass the chip and disappear.

Gretchen's eyes roll back in her head reflexively as she clenches her eyelids tight. She slips her shades back down which muss her hair in the process, and she positions herself right in the hall, right in front of the door to room 905, easily visible through the peephole, hands folded before her…

If the security guard heard or saw anything, he didn't move, remaining at his post next to the elevator, which hisses quietly as it moves from floor to floor, but nothing on this one right now. At room 905, there's a few seconds of waiting before the door swings slowly open. A large man, easily 6'8", stands with his back against the wall, almost perfect cover from any incoming fire that might hail through, but content that there's nothing he moves away and into the room, turning to face the people about to enter. His arms rest at his sides, but flames dance around his hands, fluttering over the sleeves of his heavy longcoat though doing nothing to damage it; focused magic.

The first person through is motioned toward the kitchenette counter, a small chip labelled, 'Optical Dreams', sitting on top. The woman and child are nowhere to be seen, but the bedroom and bathroom doors are closed.

Gretchen absolutely does not want to, but she certainly does enter first, in order to maintain some facade of being in control of some part of this highly volatile situation.

Kraft? Well, he's not six foot eight. That big hot hand is going to tower over the old borg. But he settles on the doorframe opposite, hands just casually resting by his side, false eyes flicking up to watch the spook. And then flicking back to watch Gretch. What'll he do if the twitch gets herself in a hostage situation? .. Probably just pull the alarm, because hell, she's a registered guest here. And she's not on fire.

"Nice and easy, mac. Far as I'm concerned, last I saw of you was your heels." He murmurs.

Not saying a word for now, Drake keeps watch on both parties entering the room; the tension in him is like a coiled spring, waiting to be let loose. After enough time has passed for him to consider an attack as no longer inevitable, the flames on his hands flicker and disappear. "This wasn't my decision.", he declares, making it quite evident he never wanted to hand the information over. "What happens to us?".

Gretchen swallows a lump in her throat as she passes the pyro, feeling the heat from his kept-in-check flames against the side of her face in passing. Her steps are slow and measured, but he does cut an intimidating figure, towering over her. She assesses the room, angling to keep Drake and the two doors in sight. She spies the chip as well, but doesn't act to claim it quite yet.

"What happens is you get the fuck out of Denver and never come back," the German snaps, nerves getting the better of her. She takes a deep, calming breath then, and offers the palm of one hand toward the bodyguard, indicating that she's about to reach into an inner pocket. She pulls the lapel of her peacoat with the other hand. "As a gesture of good faith…"

In a calligraphic font across the now-visible skin of Gretchen's collarbones, thanks to the opening of her coat, her chest banner tattoo can be seen, reading "Sprung des Glaubens," leap of faith in German. She withdraws a credstick unless prevented from doing so, but her movement is slow, deliberate and careful.

"What the broad said, bub. You take the chance and run." A wry grin stretching false lips, fake eyes flicking back up to look at the man. "Same as the rest of us. Least you won't have a target on your back without the chip; Cheaper to hire a lawyer to make the claims look like wild lunacy without evidence than it is to hire another hit, see? Give that kid a chance to grow up somewhere the hell out of Queen City."

Gretchen offers this credstick with the spartan helmet of Ares printed on the grip near the small data readout, reaching her free hand up to rub at her septum with a knuckle, displaying a bit of her nervousness along with what she hopes is a sign of goodwill.

There's a certain level of perception you need to be a bodyguard; just considering everyone a threat is either going to get you in trouble, or give you heart attack from the stress, you need to know a threat when you see it. And Drake no longer sees it. He relaxes and takes a step forward, reaching out one massive calloused hand to take the offered passes. "These are legit?". He looks them over for a moment, then huffs a laugh, a single breath of amusement, a nod of appreciation.

"You want to close the door there, bud?", he asks Kraft, "Looking at you, you didn't walk through the front door of this place.". Taking a step back he pushes open the door to the bedroom, where two people wait; an attractive woman in her late twenties, blond hair, blue eyes, with her arms wrapped around a young girl in front of her. It's obviously her daughter, they share the same blond hair and blue eyes, though the daughter has some of Drake's features; a sterner jaw that her mother, fuller lips. "This is Tasha and Alisha..". The two offer nervous smiles.

"What can I say, mac? I got a magnetic personality."

Grouses the old borg, finally letting the door swing closed as he steps in. There are parts to any case he hates; This is one of them. The mushy bits. Call it that cold whirr of machinery that used to be his body, but people getting sappy or dopey just gives him the itches. He'd take any two bit dame with dollar signs where her heart should be any day over a spooked mom and her baby girl. He can handle a hooker; He ain't never handled a wife except on a slab.

A clearing of the throat. ".. Hey, how you doin?"

Gretchen nods to Alisha first, giving her a long look as she rakes her hair, then to Tasha, and lastly to Drake before moving toward the computer and the OpDreams-labeled chip. She gently inserts it into the drive of the public term before speaking, intending it for Phisher. «Confirm?»

The chinese fisherman icon pushes away from the terminal. «You're gonna lose overwatch while I confirm.» He hops back onto his wooden boat icon, into the main foyer, and steers the boat up to the elevator panel.

Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « Better than losing our heads, Mac, if we show up with the wrong chip and these mooks get off on a free pass. »

The young girl lifts her hand, is the first to speak to Gretchen, "Hi!", she says, a glance up to her mother to see if that was alright. Her mother kisses the top of the girls head, then continues watching the trade. Drake's large form, towering over Gretchen, moves past her to lean against the kitchenette counter, thick arms crossing over his chest while he waits for the confirmation. "I've always wanted to head to Seattle. It's a 'runners heaven, I'm told.", he says to nobody, just trying to fill the silence with something.

The elevator doors open as the fisherman approaches, his identity badge letting him through. Inside, the elevator has an array of buttons for the various floors, rather than the real elevator which only takes a card. A press of the button and the doors close, a ping, and they open again on the new floor, there's no movement between the two. Outside the elevator, instead of the rooms circling around, they're laid out next to each one after the other. Data lines fill the space between them and the elevator, feeding information back and fore to each room, handling all kinds of traffic from telephone calls to trid channels. Inside each room, the various devices are available for access.

With Phisher's reply, Gretchen swallows another lump in her throat while still attempting to maintain a cool facade. With the comm chatter from Phisher and Kraft being inaudible to the family, she offers no reaction of her own, but that notice of a lack of overwatch is worrying indeed. She speaks through her nerves for the sake of doing /something/ in the meantime. "Tasha, Drake has a no-questions-asked Ares/UCAS border pass. I suggest you take Alisha out east, get the hell out of Denver and stay off the radar." She clears her throat behind a fist. "If you need some help down the line," she adds, looking between the three, then to Kraft, "We may be able to help. I'll drop contact info on the Shadowland boards."

The fishing boat is steered rapidly towards the icon for room 905, heading directly for the cyber terminal data stream. He accesses the terminals hardware information, interrogating it for all attached hardware and memory devices, hoping to spot the same hardware signature on the chip as the one provided by the run's sponsor.

Silence is a horrid thing, isn't it? Especially when you've got a bunch of dangerous sociopaths looking to goosestep all over one another like a trog parade that just spotted a free pistol at the end. Although he looks sharply at Gretchen when she says the dreaded 'we' word. Hey hey, lady, don't go getting him dragged into your funny business here. The sour old borg frowns again, leaning back against the wall as false eyes drift back towards the two. Mama and baby. A pinch on his nose as he waits word from Phisher, and finally he says..
"Hey, kid. Wanna see a trick?"

A glance to the big man, his fingers slipping into the internal pocket. A pause to let the man think about it before he draws out - a single gel round. Spent, alas. He needs to clean out those pockets someday. And then it's time to hold it up, thumbing it to his palm. "Now you see it?"

".. now you don't."
Hand passes in front of each other. Open. No shell. TADA! .. Don't mind the soft clink down his sleeve.

Into the inner workings of the chip dives the fisherman, looking through the hardware information, the details pinging back as a managerial chip registered to one Alberto Vicente, Optical Dreams; this one auto locks once data is stored onto it, for convenience.

"That's.. Good of you.", Tasha replies, looking at Gretchen with some surprise, "Thank you. We'll do that.", a glance up at Drake, questioning eyes, but the big man nods back to her, confirming the decision. "Is your man in yet?", he asks, a glance to the chip, perhaps wanting to hurry the said 'dangerous sociopaths' out of the room that holds his only daughter. A little giggle catches his attention, Alisha watching the magic trick with those large blue eyes, fascinated by the cybernetic man and his attempts to be human.

"Yeah, you like that?"
Well, someone's gotta keep the brat busy while Phisher's doing the deckin' and Gretch's doing the Gretchin'. Who gives away that much dough? Yeesh. Those two passes are probably worth more than whatever Kraft's gonna pull back on this case. Still, a little good karma might just turn that lead salad into a whiff parfait someday.
Open palms up. Drop, curl. Let the shell slip back down-
"Tada?" See! Shell's back. ".. Tip your waiter, kid, that's all I got."

Satisfied with what the chip is telling him about it's hardware, Phisher wastes no time. «Chip checks out. Registered to dead manager.» His icon is out the hallway and back down the elevator as quick as can be, passcodes being displayed like a hologram being projected from the lantern on the bow of the boat as he pushes back to the security host. He pulls his traditional fisherman's cowl tighter around his shoulders and readies a barbed fishing spear, expecting the worst on his way back to the security host.

Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « 'Bout time. I'm all out of tricks on this one. »

Gretchen glances from Kraft to Alisha, then from Drake to the terminal. She pops the chip out and nods to the family with a reply to Drake directly. "It checks out." She pockets the optical chip and smooths her hair. "I think it's time we let you be on your way…"

"I'll be out of here by nightfall.", Drake replies, moving away from the counter to stroll past Gretchen and alongside Kraft, looking at him directly for a few nerve wracking seconds, before he pulls the door open. "I would say come back anytime, but I'd rather you didn't.". He takes a step to one side, leaving the doorway clear. Inside the matrix, the fisherman can see the security guard is still watching from the same spot.

"Personally speaking, brother, I couldn't agree more."
Grunts the old borg, finally setting the spent copper down on a nearby flat surface with a 'clink'. Souvenir! He'll let Gretch out first; Not because he's a gentleman, but because she's the normal-ish looking one between them. And then? Then it's time to follow alongside her.

«Alright, bubs. I need to get somewhere greasy and rub this hoity toity off before I start laying out doilies. How's our path home?»

Gretchen walks, tension pulling her at a nice, brisk pace out of the room and back into the hall. She pulls her collar up tight, displeased at having shown her face to so many of the involved parties for this little adventure. She whispers to Kraft once the door closes behind them, "Let's get the hell out of here…" Quiet enough to be little more than a faint movement of her lips with a glance up to him, eyebrows high above the lenses of her glasses.

The path back down was a hell of a lot easier than the path up. Sure, there was still a chance people could come shooting up his end plate, but at least his feet were pointed in the right direction. OUT. As he's heading back up the ramp, he'll take a moment to glance aside at the mooks manning the booth.

Huh. At least it wasn't Pirate Patsy this time. He fishes a bent up box of cancer sticks from his multitude of pockets, bumping it against his wrist while he climbs back into the Zephyr. By the time that humble vehicle pulls around to pick up Lady Wretch, he's already got one smoldering in the ashtray as he reaches over to pop the side door.

«Home again, home again, jiggity jig.»

Commlink-MALTESEFALCON> Kraft sends, « Next time, -you- take the stairs and I take the elevator. »

Phisher watches as his team exfiltrates from the premises then executes the dust off protocol. He returns the camera feeds to normal and takes the alarms out of diagnostic mode allowing them back into regular operation. With a push of his foot like a skate board taking off, he hops back on the wooden boat as it propels him out of the security host and back to the main foyer host, turning to flourish and bow in the direction of the security chair, "Thank you, for your adoration." He thinks to himself as he logs into the foyer host and triggers the waiting command set to erase the record of Gretchen having booked the room and removing his passcode from the database, as he performs a graceful logoff.

The instant the Zephyr pulls up out front, Gretchen is in and slumped down in the passenger seat so far she can barely be seen, just the tippy top of her head. She most definitely pops a little microdot pill before releasing a pent-up and long-overdue shudder and groan of anxiety, tucking her hands into her armpits for the full duration of the trip back to Dayna's. Her reply to Kraft's wit is simply, "Jesus, I'll gladly do the driving and parlor tricks next time… You can ride aaaaaall the elevators you like…" She's displaying some snark. Some stress-induced snark, but it isn't ill-intentioned.

Phisher jacks out of his deck, packs up into his shoulder bag, and then heads out of the conference room to the bar, waving down Virgil for something strong to drink while waiting for the team to arrive.

"Yeah? I get a cumberband too or are you just screwing with me?"

Comes the retort, as the two make the leisurely, not-at-all hurried drive down the way. And, potentially, out of the walled hotel and onto a damn trog biker bar. Sigh.

"Bow tie and everything," Gretchen drawls up to Kraft's elevated seat by rolling her head past the seat and tilting it upside down.

SUCCESS!

With a successful run under your belts, without even wasting a bullet - not counting the one for the magic trick - spirits are sure to be high once the nerves fade. A well earned drink at Dayna's with some friendly Amerind bikers doesn't sound too bad. Once celebrations are over, it's time to collect the payment. Trista meets again at the Red Rock Diner, apologises profusely for having to bail on things, but she will explain that at a later time; whatever it is, she isn't happy about it, her usual cheery demeanor has gone for the meeting. With the data in hand, she slides over three credsticks for the payment and, after checking the chip, slides another three over as a bonus for not accessing the data. Explaining that she'll have to return the data to her Johnson, she excuses herself, but treats everyone to the waffles before she goes. They really have to be tried.

A news report hits the airwaves a little later: ".. and in other news, an incident late this afternoon left one person dead at the Arasaka Gardens, a high class hotel in the Sioux district of Denver. We're told by our inside sources that the deceased was a professional hitman, an assassin for hire, and that his targets were a family of three leaving the hotel. Sadly, he underestimated his target, the coroners had to identify the assassin from his scorched remains. Here we bring you exclusive footage."

The scene changes to security footage from outside the Arasaka Gardens. Unseen until he fires, a sniper in camouflage nestles in one of the trees with a large rifle. Drake steps out ahead of Tasha and the young girl and immediately takes a bullet in the shoulder, but that only angers him. A fireball lights up the tree, then another, then another, the tree turned to little more than ash after the fourth blast hits. He looks around for more attackers, then waves Tasha and the child to his vehicle and drives off at speed.

"We have no information on the three targets but the investigation continues..".

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