The Tana Case Part 2

GM: Yin
Players: Phoenix (Tang Lanhua), Lotus (Pema Lhadron), Yin
Synopsis: The investigation team of Phoenix, Lotus, and Yin travels to K-Town and meet Tanaka Dawa, the mother of the missing Tanaka Tana. Investigations begin! The first challenge is to get tolerated within the tight diaspora community and to at least earn some basic trust. Secondly. the mother of the missing Tana is probably the most important wittness since she opens up a bunch of leads and approaches to the case. The characters have to grasp the relevant aspects, dig deeper and come up with an investigative sense for the situation.
Date: 2082-05-08

Entering K-Town For The First Interview

It's a central crossroad in K-Town. Lotus, Lanhua, and Yin came here together in a small van. Lotus got picked up on the way. It's only a few more blocks to the neighborhood they're looking for. The comfortable van is warm and cosy - outside it's rainy and windy. There are some minutes left. A good opportunity for smalltalk or any questions one might have.

Yin is not necessarily the one driving the car. Maybe Lanhua took the driver's seat?

Phoenix has taken a brief stop since leaving Yin's apartment, to pick up a package from a brown-haired woman at a disco punk sake bar - she'll explain later - and then to rearrange to make sure she has the right things slotted, pushing her hair back to plant the right chips into the jack behind her ears. "Pema," she says to Lotus. "I'm so glad you're joining us."

«Plot» Phoenix says, "plugs in: KS: Investigation Techniques r4, DS: Denver Area Missing Persons R$, LS: French 4, and LS: Korean 4"

Yin is sitting on the back-seat of the van, looking through the little data they have on the case and checking the map. "That's a great thing, I agree. I don't know much about the Tibetans in Denver yet, but having you two around is definitely an advantage."

«Auto-Judge[]» Phoenix (#13121) rolls Disguise for "will have also taken some time to augment her tibetan features.": 3 3 10

Pema would probably crash the van if she attempted to drive, and she made that clear in that tacit way by taking a seat in the back from the beginning. She's dressed much like she normally is - in a quasi-school uniform - but she's taken a few steps to look more "Tibetan" in a way. Her hair is set up in a more traditional fashion, with threads woven into the hair and a bun holding a large brooch-like piece of jewellery in place. Not enough for someone unfamiliar to recognise, but very obviously Tibetan to someone in the know. She's sitting with her computerised paper fan in her lap, occasionally opening it up to check some data or so, but she looks up when they reach the location. "Of course I had to come. These people are family, in a way." She nods down to her bag. "Speaking of which, I brought them some gifts that might help. Not sure if you need it when doing an investigation, but… you know, it helps."

Yin nods. "Sounds good. Our clients actually are Tanaka Dawa and Zopa, the parents. So, technically, they have full control over the investigation, even though the Shining Mountain pays for it. Feel free to follow your intuition and take the lead."

At the Tanaka Residential Block

«Plot Room» Description set.

RESIDENTIAL BLOCK: According to the address entry, the Tanaka family is supposed to live in a renovated residential area. But this is not entirely correct. The building block is basically a half finished construction site, with pavement and sidewalks made of flattened gravel and dirt. Also, half of the area is an unfished excavation pit. Local residents started to work the pit into several terraces, using it for makeshift greenhouses and community gardening as far as possible with all the multi-story buildings around. Next to the 'pit gardens' are the actual residential houses. They consist of modular cubes of ferrocrete architecture, stacked on top of each other with a slight offset, up to dizzy heights of ten levels and more. The rough cut cubist dwellings are mouse grey and weathered, but they are cosy nonetheless! Warm light flood through big, circular windows in the cubes. Access is granted by external catwalks and metal stairs, connecting the levels of the fancy stack to a network of floating walkways. It's obvious that the community here takes care of each other. Several doors are open and half a dozen people are talking casually on the catwalks, another group works in the excavation pit, doing the urban gardening. The Tanakas live on one of the cubes on seventh level, according to the Shining Mountain report.

The rain pours down heavily, but Yin reaches behind the bench and pulls out two umbrellas. "Damn weather. I'll cover you as good as I can." So he steps out of the van and opens the door for Pema, umbrella up and unfolded.

Phoenix studies the structure, and her face falls a little with sadness. "There is so little here… yet the community is strong. I am certain the energy here helps them." She glances at Yin and Lotus. Much like Pema, she has taken a little care to show off features. A little bit of makeup helps adjust her colouring and also displays the shape of her cheekbones. She doesn't know much about the looks other than appareance, so she does not have the same accessory-power Lotus does, but seems convincing nonetheless. "Gifts are good. An important part of the culture, yes?" She offers a tight smile, emotions written strongly in her features, and she turns to lead them through the warren of apartments to the Tanaka's door. "Do they know we're coming?"

Phoenix pulls up a hood from within her jacket as she walks, the synthetic fabric doing -some- of its job and wicking the water away from her… though where it touches her, some little bits of hissing steam arise.

Having failed to bring a proper raincoat, Pema just wraps her scarf over her head and is only a pair of sunglasses short of a 1940s starlet trying to stay incognito. She steps out of the van, shuddering a bit at the cold air outside. She slings the bag she brought over her shoulder. "That's what has kept Asiatown separate from the rest of Denver. Can't take the Asia out of the Asians," she says in a joke that she probably only would say since they're all "in" the group. "Seventh level, it was? Time to do some cardio, I guess…"

As they start to climb up the catwalks to the seventh level, they are confronted by an Asian man in his forties who happens to climb down from second level. He speaks in Amdo dialect of the Tibetan diaspora and seems to be the blue-collar type, protecting himself against the rain with a stiff plastic bag above his head, wearing light protective working clothes: "Hey! Are you lost? Where are you heading to? You have business here?"

Phoenix holds up a hand to the man, and speaks to him in tibetan - a dialect spoken more commonly in the chinese-located disporia, those who were cut off by the cloud. "I am here looking for Mister and Missus Tanaka," she says. "We have good news for them!"

Yin stays in the background, doing a very good job by looking like some friendly, important official guy with two Tibetian friends. He leaves the talking to Pema and Lanhua.

Pema steps up and she smiles broadly when she hears the man speak. "Tashi Deleh," she says, the universal greeting used by Tibetans, joining her palms as well before her. "Sorry to bother you. My name is Pema Lhadron. I must express my happiness to hear the speech of our northern cousins." Pema's dialect is a crisp U-Tsang, the dialect spoken in Lhasa and Shigatse. Or at least how they spoke before the Maya Cloud, who knows what they sound like now. "We were sent here to inquire about the investigation of Tana Tanaka, Chenrezig Bodhisattva watch over them. May we discuss somewhere protected by the rain?"

In reaction to Lanhua and Lotus, the man really brightens up. It's actually almost like he dropped a mask or got his mindset replaced. He bows slightly, joining his hands, and steps back to clear the way for them: "Oh, welcome, strangers. Excuse me, I didn't recognize you're from here! So glad to meet you." To Yin he says, on Chinese: "Welcome, respected guest." Some might think that Japanese or Chinese faces are treated with some respect around here as well, but of a different kind. He continues to address Lotus and Pema: "You're coming for the Tanaka family?? I can't believe it! Let the spirits and the guiding hands of fate come true what we're all hoping for so very long! I bring you upstairs, to Dawa, Tanas mother. Come, please!" He leads the way up.

As they reach fourth level, below, at ground level, two people in a hurry pass the van and stop for a second, pressing their hands against the window glass, peering inside. Their friendly guide gives a sharp whistle and informs them that this car belongs to guests and they're supposed to have an eye on it. As they climb further upwards (almost worth a Body check!), their guide informs a few other people of the new guests and the address they're heading to: the poor Tanaka Dawa.

Finally, they end up at the Tanaka doorstep and their guide steps back respectfully, but stays in the background.

Phoenix shoots Pema a grateful smile at her poise and courtesy, before turning to follow the man and walk up the stairs. As She walks, it's like… something strange is happening her, too. Her mood lightens a bit with every person their guide stops to talk to, who she greets with quick respectful bows. "I've never been among so many people like me," she whispers in english as she walks up the stairs - good thing she is in peak physical condition. "My heart feels…. lighter?"

Pema looks quite elated as well. Well, at least in the beginning until they actually start ascending the stairs, because she is nowhere as fit as Phoenix. She remains somewhat quiet on the way up and she is almost out of breath by the time they reach the seventh floor. Still, she quickly shapes up and puts on a more dignified air as they go to meet the couple. She goes on to knock at the door, and steps back a little.

First Meeting With Tanaka Dawa

A woman, supposedly Tanaka Dawa, opens the door. The smell of heavy incense floods out on the catwalk, washing over Yin, Lotus, and Pema. Dawa is clad in bright colors of red and blue, wearing some silver jewelry as well. One thing strikes immediately for those who are really deep into Tibetan traditions: this is old handmade stuff from the Tibetan highlands, probably 40 years old or older, but in top condition. And the woman looks like she made it herself, actually. She has dark skin, faded, subtle tattoos on her forehead and hands. Hands which speak of a long life of labour. She's probably around sixty already. All in all, her appearance looks almost ceremonial, but there is no holiday today.

Dawa smiles and bows, but it doesn't reach her eyes: "Yes? How may I help you, young ladies?"

Yin, in the meanwhile, takes a closer look at the small congegration that has gathered on the level below. There are several neighbors who seem to take a serious interest in these visitors. He is attentive, checks the details, the faces, the looks. And leaves Dawa to his two colleagues.

Phoenix bows back to the woman, deep and respectful. She doesn't recognize the particulars, but she can spot traditional and spiritual authority when she sees it. "Tanaka Dawa?" She asks, respectfully, back to Tibetan and what she assumes to be her native dialect. "We are here to speak to you, and your husband. We are here to help."

"Tanaka Dawa I am," she scans Yin as well, who bows deeply, then she looks at the guide who nods approvingly, maybe reassuring her. "Well then, come in, be a guest in my home and let us share some tea while I gladly listen to what you have to say, young ladies. And you as well, young man."

Pema joins her palms again when greeting Dawa. "Tashi deleh," she says, "My name is Pema Lhadron." She looks over to Phoenix as if she's about to introduce her as well but for some reason she doesn't. "We're here because our colleague is working on the case of Tanaka Tana. We need your help, so that we can help you in return." She smiles a bit and looks up. "And I have to say, I have not seen such beautiful Tibetan silver craftsmanship since my childhood."

Interview With Tanaka Dawa

«Plot Room» Description set.

TANAKA DWELLING: The Takana dwelling is extremely tubular. Four Appartment cubes are connected to each other, all have a t least one big, round window, overlooking three of the four directions of the area. But the living space is smaller than the architectural illusion suggests. It feels a bit like living in a big truck. At some points, barely two people can move past each other. But all in all, it is a warm and welcoming place. After entering in the living room and kitchen cube, there is a bathroom and storage section to the right. To the left, at the end of the stretched kitchen and living room section, there connects a narrow hallway, most likely leading to the bedrooms. Some sort of house shrine two feet below the ceiling supports a golden statue of a slender man with long ears and pristine features. A candle, smoke, and a flower garland give it away as something from Buddhism or Hinduism. Otherwise, the interior is simple, cheap, improvised, and often second hand. Only the kitchen area looks busy right now. Several vegetables are waiting to be processed. A Trideo screen in the living area shows a muted, looped advertisement program for holidays in Indonesia; a Channel 9 world news ticker runs across the bottom.

Maybe it comes as a surprise, but Dawa does not flinch as her son is mentioned. She smiles sadly and nods. "And you are, my dear?" she asks Phoenix.

Phoenix says "Tang Lanhua," after a moment of hesitation. "I was troubled to hear about your son," she adds, reflecting on the woman's reactions so far. "And I promised my new business partner here," she gestures to Yin. "To help however I could. We must look after our own, so far from home," she continues, then looks around her. "Or," she adds, quietly, "Are we so far at all?"

Dawa leads all four of them - yes, also the guide - through the kitchen area, offering a glass of sweet black tea to every one. Then she shuffles them on to the living area where a simple desk with different chairs awaits. But she does not sit down, she bows to the shrine at one of the living room walls: "So, you've come to finally inform me that my son has left the world for another wheel to spin, I assume?" She then turns around to Phoenix, Pema, and Yin. That's when she recognizes the adorable and impressive piece jewelry in Pema's hair. She seems to find piece and joy in it for the moment.

Pema decides to pay her respects to the shrine as well, joining palms and bowing to it after Dawa has done so. "We're not here to deliver eulogies. I think our colleague Yin here has reason to believe your son may still be found, and with your blessing we'd like to try." She looks over to Yin, nervously touching her hands, as if hoping she didn't say too much.

Phoenix nods. "Yes," in agreement to Lanhua, looking at Lotus again for a moment, for once noticing the silver necklace, then back at Dawa. "We do not believe that your son's journey on this wheel has come to an end, and have come here to let you know we have been allowed to reopen the investigation. Is there anything you can tell us about the last time you saw him?"

Dawa seems to be perplexed, thoroughly. She blinks at Lotus and Phoenix and doesn't immediately answer. Yin fills in the gap. He steps forward and shows also his repect to the shrine. However, he has no clue about what was said in Tibetan. But he feels quiet used to the situation they are in, even though not actually comfortable. He speaks on Cantonese: "Respected Tanaka Dawa, may I speak Chinese to you? Yes? Thank you." He bows. "I am Yin Li, my friends probably told you already. Thank you for giving us the chance to speak to you. The Shining Mountain has asked for help in your son's case. I am a private investigator, as are my colleagues. We are here to offer you to pick up the investigation and I can only apologize, that so much time is wasted already. But if you agree, we would like to investigate on your behalf. Any expenses are taken care of by the local authority." Dawa nods, trying to catch up. Yin adds: "Your husband, Tanaka Zopa, is not around?"

Finally, Dawa nods and answers in Tibetan to Phoenix and Yin, maybe out of habit: "So, you don't have found him? But you, … you actually want to look after him, after so many months? I… I can't believe it. But I was certain that if someone would ever help us, it would be one of us." She probably refers to Pema and Phoenix. "Of course I will help you! But…sadly… I have to inform you that my husband left this life two weeks ago," she lowers her head. "He died in an accident work. I keep our shrine flourished and our home clean and everything in order, so that he finds it easy to return once more, if he so wishes. But I fear, I am the only one left of our small family."

Pema rubs her face and grimaces a bit, walking over to Yin. "Sorry, I should fill you in but we've basically just said the same details," she switches to Cantonese, a language she seems to have a good grasp of as well. "We'll let Auntie Dawa (yes, that is quite respectful to say in Chinese) speak freely in Tibetan, and then I can translate for you. I can give all the details back verbatim - I have a memory-enhancing implant." she says and taps her temple with a finger. She is about to say something more, then Dawa drops the sad news. She quietly mumbles a Tibetan mantra, in that low chant that is only used for reciting prayers. "May all beings be happy and free of suffering," she says and raises her head. "We will do everything in our power to reunite your family."

Phoenix's face falls as the auntie relays her tail, and she inclines her head again and a deep bow. "I am saddened by your loss. A great loss to the community, by all accounts of his character. However I can help you, I will. PLease, in addition to telling us what you can about the last time you saw him, can you tell us more details of your husband's death? I know it is all hard but any thing may be important."

Dawa offers them to sit down at the table, and starts to gather several things from the living room and kitchen area. Photographs, missing person announcements, animated picture frames, all showing Tanaka Tana in some way or the other. She also has an old SIN stick and some kind of childrens ID card. "I will help you as good as I possibly can, be assured. " While she continues to collect memorabilia and possible evidence, she seems to be ready to answer any question. And she kindly asks the fourth person, the guide who led the group upstairs, know that he should probably inform the others from the community, that there will be a real investigation and that Tana has not been found yet! The guide leaves.

Yin agrees to Pema: "No problem. Just go ahead. It seems to work fine." Then, Tanaka Dawa starts to narrate the fateful events that let to a missing son…

Pema is stuck pondering something for a moment, and then begins to whisper over to Yin, translating Dawa's words. She lets Phoenix take over the questioning for now, but one can tell on her face that she's considering things deeply.

Dawa hesitates and her eyes drift away as she remembers: "It was an ordinary Friday, 21th of November of last year. It was a cold day. Tana left for school early and I sent him away with his father's jacket. It was a most ordinary day. You probably know that he left school around midday and met his girlfriend, May. They both had plans for the weekend and they drove to Little Chibba, to their favorite Manga Trideo Shop. They did that almost every Friday." She smiles. "So, May parked the car above the store and Tana got out to pick up the Simsense they had ordered. The shop owner, Kanatako, saw him enter and they talked a bit. Tana went to a black board where customers share their notes for second hand trading. And then someone spoke to him, some unknown guy, he could not be recognized on the surveillance tape, and Tana picked something up from the black board. The guy left, and Tana left soon after. But Kanatako said, he didin't even pick up the order. So…this… was the last thing we all know about Tana. Even his close friends could not give us any further hints. It was a completely ordinary day."

Phoenix Listens carefully, mentally taking notes. Maybe next time she'll remember to actually physically take them? She glances at the others, reading their faces, and then back at Dawa. "How horrifying for him to disappear out of nowhere like that. Had any of his behavior changed recently? And what of his father?

Pema ponders something, looking over at the young man's SIN and school card. She waits for the others to finish their questions, and then she adds, a little cautiously, "Could we perhaps hold on to either the SIN, or the school card for now? My great-grandfather still watches over me, and his spirit might be of some use, but we'll need a personal object of his. An article of clothing would work fine too, especially a well-worn one."

Dawa nods and her frame shrinks even further: "His father? He was deeply troubled when we called May the next day and she told us what had happened. We went to the police a few days later, well, the Shining Mountain district authority. Zopa and I, we did some investigation in the neighborhood and in Little Chibba, but with little help. We continued our small campaign until two weeks ago. He plunged to death at a construction site. He was far to old to work such places. He knew. Everyone knew. He was laid to rest with a proper ceremony with a lots of friends and colleagues showing him their respect. He was respected here, in our community."

Dawa also nods to Pema's request: "Of course you can keep the card and I can get you some of his clothes if that is of any help, sure!"

Phoenix continues to listen attentively. "So I have heard," she continues. "Please, what company did your husband work for? The construction company, I mean." She glances at Pema at the mention of her great-grandfather, and falls silent again, seeing if any of the others have better qeustions.

Pema takes the evanescent boy's SIN in her hand and inspects it, looking at the data on it and ponders while taking a break from interpreting. "We should probably take a look at that Trideo shop, that unknown person there is of interest," she says while speaking in Chinese, more to Yin than to the others. "Not sure if the shopkeeper will remember anything, but if the second-hand billboard is still active, that person might still be there." She doesn't seem to have any more questions at the moment.

Yin nods to Pema's suggestion and continues to inspect the living room and the little Buddha shrine. Tanaka Dawa remains at the dining table, talking to Pema and Phoenix: "My husband worked for HLRD International for the last ten years or so. This is a Japanese corporation. They do some office and residential builings around K-Town and its vicinity. That's, … what does it stand for.. High Low Rise Deep International, I think. Yes. I receive some benefits from their life insurance."

Pema can't read the SIN, but some basic information is available anyway. The SIN ifentifies it's owner, Tanaka Tana, as well as the fact that this SIN has been invalidated a few years ago. Dawa explains: "Tana lost this one a while back and the authorities issued a new one. Later we found it again. He had accidently dropped it while we where visiting close friends here in the community. So, this is not the SIN he carried when he went missing, I think. He should have another one. The valid one."

Pema looks some more at the SIN and then puts it down on the table again. She looks almost surprised over something; maybe that people here have SINs to begin with. "Shouldn't the police be able to check this SIN, compare it to the new one and then see if any use of it has been registered in the past six months? I mean, being able to do such things is the reason why SINs exist, right?" She goes quiet as Yin heads off to inspect the shrine, which does seem to elicit some interest from the young woman herself. She switches to Tibetan, "I see many leads here, things that can lead us to uncover your son's disappearance. The golden cord of unity - as the song goes - has not broken." She says, and begins to sing in a low voice on an old Tibetan song.

Yin answers briefly to Pema's remark on the SIN: "Well, Tana's valid SIN has been used once after he went missing. It registered at a checkpoint leading from CAS into the FTZ at the 27th of November last year. So, about six days after his disappearing. However, there is no information about any further use of that SIN. You can check the details of the request in my report." Yin falls silent as Pema starts to recite and sing. Surprised he watches her - and Dawa's reaction.

Tanaka Dawa steps closer to Pema, recognizing the Golden Cord of Unity. She sways back and forth with the rythm and hums along, even trying to catch the second voice now and then. Pema and Dawa both face the Buddha shrine and Dawa bows deeply as Pema ends her singing. She dries some tears on her cheeks and gratefully squeezes Pema's upper arm: "This was beutiful, young lady. What a gifted voice. How sad it is, that we had to wait for my son to disappear in order to meet each other, but maybe that's something to consider: all bad things have something good in them."

Phoenix listens carefully to the song, as well, thinking about the words - an unknowable looks crosses her features as she sits thoughtfully. "Beautiful," she tells the other woman. "You are, as always, an inspiration," she adds, without a hint of irony. She looks back at Tanaka. "Thank you for all your help; would it be too much, to look at your son's room? If hed had one." She adds, noting how small the home is. It's not uncommon for the disporia to sleep in the common room at times.

Pema keeps her voice relatively low as she sings; it is a simple song, not the high-pitched wails that Tibetan songs sometimes have. Nonetheless, her voice is impeccable as always. After going silent, sgives a smile to Dawa as her arm is squeezed. "Not even the gods know what our Karma has is store for us, so how can we expect to live our lives ahead of any moment?" She puts her hands away and looks over to Yin, switching to Chinese, "Sorry, that's not proper investigative decorum. I couldn't help myself."
Yin took the opportunity and investigated a little bit deeper into the apartment. As the singing ends he returns to the living room. "Ah, whatever helps. As long as you keep a clear mind to reflect on what's happening, I don't see why we shouldn't share some sympathy. Unorthodox methods sometimes wittness unexpected results. - And I consider myself honored to have heard the Nightingale sing," he smiles.

Then Yin turns to Tanaka Dawa and asks respectfully: "Is Tana a believer, does he take refuge in Buddha's teachings and follow his path?" Dawa turns around and shakes her head with a smile: "No, not really. Not beyond what we practice here at home. He is not really a member of any sangha, but of course he breathes the same air as we do, and he is part of our community here. He is our son, after all, and he knows about our heritage and the story of our family. So, I would say that he lives by the noble path and truths, even though he might not care so much yet. After all, he is what he is: a young man, living the springtime of his life. Zopa and Tana had some arguments about this in the past. But I urged him not to push our son too hard. It is hard to demand anything from a seventeen, eighteen year old boy who has to find his place in an unforgiving world. There were some cases of discrimination against our community at his high school. I understand that he does not want to stick out with traditional costumes or habits."

Dawa then turns to Phoenix: "His bedroom? Yes, you can have a look if you want. I left everything as it was. This is, after all, his room. And I know that he will return."

Searching Tana's Room

Dawa leads the group through a very narrow corridor and opens one of two doors. It leads into a rather cramped room. Dawa explains: "We rearranged the apartment when Tana attended high school, so that he would have a quiet place for his studies."

«Plot Room» Description set.

TANA'S ROOM: Tana's room occupies about one half of one of the apartment cubes that make up the Tanaka residence. One large, circular window overlooks the construction pit and greenhouses below. The eye can see far from the seventh floor. Well, could see, actually. Right now, heavy rain and low clouds obscure the view beyond the immediate neighboring buildings. Raindrops drum softly against the massive acrylic window. The room is warm and illuminated by indirect lightings, hidden behind or above the furniture. What stands out immediately is an elevated platform that spans the width and about the half of the length of the room. Someone has to use a simple straight ladder to climb up to the lair above where the bed, a Trideo screen, some colorful storage boxes and a dozen pillows are located. Beneath the platform, there is enough room for a desk, an office chair, a (very small) sofa, and a narrow wardrobe. All in all, the room is cramped and numerous stuff is scattered all over the place. There are digital mangas, pieces of clothing, a hard shell jacket, some manga-style toy figures, several commercial Simsense chips. The walls are decorated with some band posters and one large Seattle skyline print, as well as some other personal memorabilia from Urban Brawl public viewing events. It's a typical teenager's den, and it doesn't seem as if Tana's mother did touch anything since her son disappeared. There is even a dried spill of soy-coke on the desk and heavy traces of popcorn on the sofa.

Phoenix looks around at first, a little at a loss- she's never done this before - but the mental link connects, her chip interfacing with her brain to guide her next steps. Her stomach is briefly queasy- nothing about her brain being influenced by chips makes her happy, not anymore - but at least in this way she owns it. She looks at the bed, first, trying to guage what sort of person the young man might have ben (young man - sounds like he's her own age) - and then she looks at his shelves, anything that might indicate his interests at the time.
Phoenix says "And the little brain cells begin to work," she murmurs quietly to herself, in belgian-accented french, her eyes moving slowly everything. "Come now, hastings."

After coming into the room, instead of looking around like most people do, Pema instead closes her eyes as if visualising something. It might also be a case of her using a sixth sense, or just her napping at work, who knows? She looks over at the man's shelf or wherever he keeps his trid data units. "Anyone here knows anything about vintage Manga that might fetch a good price? Or whatever is popular these days?" It's hard to tell Pema's age, but she's probably that much older, although she seems to be out of the loop a bit when it comes to pop culture. "I suspect this whole thing begins with the connection over at the store, so if there's something that could fetch a good second-hand price, or perhaps if he's got a collection that's incomplete, that might give us clues."

Phoenix says "I was thinking similarly," as she looks. "But in a larger sense. If he has an interest in cars, or bikes, or…" her voice trails off. "Has certain habits," she finishes, quickly remembering to mind her tongue as to be kind to the mother. "I think it begins at the store too."

As all three prepare to enter the small room, Yin gives some advise: "Let me take some pictures first, then try not to move anything without proper documentation of its position and context - Oh! and here, put on these latex gloves, just in case." He pulls several sets of gloves out of his jacket pocket and hands them to Pema and Phoenix. "And good thinking with the Mangas. I only have some basic knowledge, but we'll see. " He then starts to document the place, clearing the way for his partners to investigate deeper into the room.

Phoenix decides to start with the bed, so she climbs up the ladder and pulls herself on the raised platform. The bed is a kind of a mess, as if Tana left in a hurry. Not a surprise, given the general shape of his room. In the storage boxes right next to where he slept, Phoenix finds clean clothes and some more Manga stuff. Here are also some electronic comics and a simple music player. Right above the bed, just 5 feet above, there is a huge Urban Brawl poster pinned to the ceiling. It shows a kinky humale female champion clad in red armor, framed by some other notable players of the Seattle bay. Phoenix does not find anything unusual - until she discovers five mid- and big-sized permanent markers between the pillows and his blanket. Rather the size you would use on a white board than your exercise book. That's weird. Why would he stash it here?

Lotus examines Tana's deck where she also finds his desktop computer. More prominently - and may be used more often -, there is also a Simsense Deck on the desk. It is covered with stickers and signatures and marks. It seems like it traveled a lot with its owner. There is even some case modding applied to the deck which allows to look at the illuminated electronics within. Right next to the Simsense deck, buried among the chaos that covers the desk, Pema picks up some interesting little detail at a first glance: an electronic business card, or no, rather an appointment with some "Zobel-Mangold", psychotherapist. It seems like Tana had an appointment with this person, roughly seven months ago.

«Plot-Page» (To: Lotus) Yin says, "This room has an aura of grief and sorrow, but also of confidence. It leaks in from the apartment that surrounds it. Nothing else seems to be special."

Yin, after having documented the place with his digital camera, investigates the wardrobe. It doesn't take long until he pulls out his head again, with some real old fashioned book in his hand. It has a colorful modern wrapping, but it might have seen two or three decades already: "Hm, look at this." Carefully, he inspects the book with his gloved fingers. "That's Tibetan, as far as I can tell. Hm… with some loose sheets of paper in it." He lifts one up between two fingers and turns it around, for all to see. "That's Tibetan handwriting, isn't it?"

Tanaka Dawa watched curiously for a few minutes, while Yin documented everything, but eventually she left for the kitchen. It seems she's preparing something there for now.

Phoenix looks at the urban brawl posters, thinking, then down at the markers. She doesn't move them yet, trying to disrupt as little as possible - then back up at the poster before climbing back down. She walks over to Yin, to exmine the book and see what she can make out of it, too. "Did Auntie Dawa mention that her son was athletic at all? Interested in sports?"

"Hey, take a look at this," Pema says and beckons Yin over to the desk, without turning back. "Business card for a shrink. Don't think Dawa mentioned anything about Tana going to therapy, did she?" she doesn't pick it up, though, knowing enough not to piss off the professional doing the forensics work with gloves and all.

Yin answers to Phoenix: "I don't think so. He seems into Urban Brawl. The teenager heroes of our time, I guess," he shrugs, but looks curiously at Phoenix. The written sheet of paper from the book Yin just discovered is indeed a Tibetan handwriting. It looks very recent and also very shaky and untrained. At first glance, it doesn't make so much sense and it definitely needs a little bit of a more dedicated look to glean any meaning from it! Yin places the book and the sheet on the desk and shifts his attention to the business card. He documents it with another photo. "Hm. Interesting find. Hm: 'Rainer Zobel-Mangold - Psychotherapy and Trauma Therapy'. Curious. I don't think Dawa mentioned anything about that."

Phoenix's attention is pulled, less to the name, and more to the sim-deck, her thoughts about the man's athleticism lost as she stares at the machine. She absent-mindedly remembres to put on the latex gloves Yin passed out, then slowly walks over to the machine, shaking every so slightly like she looks over it, trying to gather what data she can before, carefully, starts continuing the investigation with her hands.

«Plot-Page» (To: Phoenix) Yin says, "The transparent casing gives a perfect look at one chip modification with a skull and a bottle and a gin coming out of it: definitely BTL ready"

Phoenix pales. "This is a hot-deck. He can run full simsense on it -" She titls her head, and her voice goes from shaky to almost… flirty? "And it's built to be showy, so he'll likely be at least familiar with local beetle culture. He's has to show off his big fancy toys."

Yin comes up with some fitting Simsense chips he gathered around the desk and wardrobe, about six in total: "These are commercial manga experience chips: Manasuka DreamCastle, Zaibutabe Unlimited Peer Adventure and others. I think that's some kind of fan nerd experience software, simulating a manga world or something. They seem to be legit though, except this one." Yin presents one chip with a pink case and no printing. There is only a small winking manga finger which thumbs-up.

Pema steps away from the desk and the simdeck to let the people more familiar with that kind of drek to take a closer look. Meanwhile, she notices the handwritten note. "I'm surprised to see regular Tibetans still able to write by hand in our language. It's a very complex system, and the spelling of words hasn't changed for about fourteen centuries." She turns back when Phoenix describes the deck. "Aren't Simsense decks like that dangerous? My uncle's BTL addiction got the better of him some ten years ago." Clearly, she isn't an expert on Simsense.

Phoenix says "mmm," to Lotus. "Really dangerous. That's the thrilling part. One taste is all you need." SHe glances up at the urban brawl posters. "Sports fan here might have been looking to experience adventures the -real- way. From urban brawl to more fantastic adventures to - intimate experiences. Gives everything that extra kick. She flutters her eyeleashes as her attention shifts to the chip Yin is presenting. "You can link up the deck tothe socket on a pocsec or comupeter if you like," she says. "It will translate, tough poorly. You can check it out that way. IOr i could slot it and check it out if sir and madame prefer."

Yin considers: "Isn't that risky, to just slot it in, Lanhua-san?"

Lotus investigates the Tibetan book and it is quiet obvious! It's a grammar and introduction to the Tibetan language, by Theos Hodge. It's a study book and it has a heavily used look to it, from decades of usage, probably. The handwriting, on the other hand, are the first rudimentary tries of a student of Lhasa Tibetan. There are phrases, or fragments written, but the writing is executed so badly, that it is very hard to read. But Lotus is an experienced student on that matter! It seems, like the person who wrote this where writing verses and stanzas. The length of each line and sentence suggest that. Lotus can identify three different stanzas, and they are all quiet a mess. Only some simple words are actually readable, maybe Lotus can deduce something from it?

"People…city…happiness…tranquility…sound palm trees."

"Born baby… ten months… flowers."

"Boy… seven…step…lotus grow."

Phoenix turns her head - did she just toss her hair a bit - as she sweeps her gaze back around to Yin's. "That's what I'm here for, handsome. I can take the risks. You get to watch." She reaches out, offering a cheeky smile, deftly plucks the chip from Yin's grasp, plops out her korean chip and puts it in without a second thought.

Pema doesn't know much about fancy custom simtech - but she certainly knows books! So, with gloves on, she begins to flip through the pages of the old primer. "Very interesting, this book must be like a hundred years old at least. Some of the phrases in here though… yech, nobody talks like that." All of a sudden, she has turned into a Tibetan language teacher. Phoenix's odd parlance does break her out of the bibliophiliac trance though, and she looks up with an expression of mixed surprise and disapproval. She doesn't say anything though. She puts the book away and takes out her paper fan, opens it up and using the calligraphy brush-like stylus, she copies down the stanzas the boy had tried to write.

The chip kicks in immediately and overrides all sensory perception. A bloom of expectation arouses from deep within. The heart is set on fire: this is gonna be fun! In the real world, Phoenix just stands still, slowly swaying. - In the REAL real world, she is bound to meet someone. Unless Phoenix unconsciously decides otherwise, she is reincarnated as a female manga figure in exactly that kind of world: a hyper version of Suntopia: the place where mankind has overcome all troubles and drawbacks of the sixth world. Forgotten. A colorful fantasy world. And it is filled up to the brim with exotic and erotic labyrinths from cloud mountains to dark dungeons. Phoenix is still herself to a certain degree and she understands what happens to her: This is a place for sensual pleasures. She could explore the strange world now and probably find some very arousing adventures here. But more importantly: she could meet someone else from the world outside. This BTL is meant to be experienced together with someone else, for most intimate and limitless explorations of sexuality!

Yin is a little bit worried as Phoenix takes the exit option from reality and stands there, puzzled and increasingly troubled.
Yin looks over to Lotus: "Damn it, by all spirits, she just slotted the chip… " Having some years of experience on the streets with all kind of bad stuff, he carefully settles Phoenix down on a chair and mutters: "Come on, come back, don't let this be a mind trap…"

Phoenix momentarily gets lost in the sensations. Again her demeanor shifts, from hostess to something less subtle, a practiced smile appearing on her face as her body moves into long-used memory… she starts to give in, for just a moment, to stop fighting it, stop running from what she was turned into, and just le someone - or something - else make decisions for her, to lean into all the feelings… but then her face screws up into a suddne mask of fury, and she's pulling the chip out with an angry snarl. Even as she does, her whole arm is suddenly wrapped in spiralling fire as she wraps her fist tight around the chip and -squeezes-.

The moment the muscle packed Phoenix invokes her physical strength, fueled with fire, Yin steps back, ready for anything. Especially a dive for the exit.

Pema also steps back, instinctively hunkering down a bit and raising her arms to cover her face. "What on Earth was that?"

"Dream chip plus persona fix," Phoenix hisses through clenched teeth. "Adventures in sexy anime land." She growls. "Made for two. With some capability of overcoming the user - though that only matter if you're unwilling. Decent tech, good scoping, nice details. Not cheap. Something you'd get from a proper daeler, and two much programmed for a two-person experience than to be from a parlour. In my experience." Her face his pale and angry, and she opens her hand to reveal a ppartly-crushed, scorched chips as the flame recedes. "Sorry. I should not have broken that." She doesn't sound like she's sorry.

Pema slowly rises back on her feet and tries to look like that didn't intimidate her at all. "So maybe we're not looking for a dealer in second-hand vintage Manga stuff, but something far more… uh," she struggles to find words for it. "Insidious." She shakes her head and puts the book down on the desk. "I think I've seen enough, let's thank Dawa for her hospitality and leave."

Yin is just happy that Phoenix returns to normal mode. He makes a mental note but does not dwell on the topic for now. Instead, he tries to sum up what his partners and he have gathered so far: "So, let's see… Lanhua, you said something is strange about the urban brawl stuff? Anything else upstairs on bed level? - Then we certainly have an illegal Simsense deck, ready for BTL consumption, together with legal and illegal otaku stuff from the manga scene. This makes this Simsense shop in Little Chibba an interesting place to visit for sure. I mean, as Pema said, it's the last known place of Tana anyway and this billboard could be worth a glance too. - Given your results of your little self-experiment, Lanhua, we should also see if we can talk to his girlfriend May. - Pema, you did dig up this old appointment with a psychotherapist. Hm, curious. We should ask the mother about it, carefully. - And then this Tibetan book and handwriting. Dawa should also know about that. But what the handwriting actually means, I'd rather see verified by us - em…you, I mean. Even though the mother is our client, we better verify averything we assume with at least one other source. She said her son is not so much into religion but I wonder why he even bothers with the language then. The Dunya school is strictly teaching on Chinese. So this is not a text book from school, I'd assume. Maybe some community thing? - Talking about school, I think I will look a bit deeper into this discrimination thing Dawa mentiones. - And Phoenix, I get it that you don't believe in coincidences, especially regarding the father's death? It's probably a long shot but we should keep that in mind too. A death is always something out of the ordinary. - Finally the SIN and ID card we have, and the SIN registration at the FTZ border. Puh… I don't know what you are thinking, but that's something to consider. That was rich." He nods to Pema: "Let's get going. I'll verify some basic stuff with Dawa and then we meet at the car and consider out next steps. I think you leave a wonderful, almost friendly impression here. I think we can come back any time if we have further questions."

Diary Record #2

(Right after their first interview with Tanaka Dawa and the searching of Tana's room, Yin records impressions, leads, and ideas he and his partners Phoenix and Lotus have discovered so far.)

"So, we're back out in the rain again. The first confrontation with our client Tanaka Dawa was a good one. Pema and Lanhua are pracitcally part of the Tibetan diaspora. This was SUCH an advantage. I think they were almost treated like family, and the language barrier was basically non-existant.

"Let's see what we've got. The mother confirmed the basic facts about the case. Date of disappearacnce (21st of November), filed Shining Mountain report (25th of November), birthday (2nd of May). Also, we discovered some solid leads, as we hoped for:

"The subject was in a relationship wit a girl called 'May' the time he disappeared. The mother reported that May picked Tana up after school.

"They drove to a 'manga store in Little Chibba', run by a man who goes by the name of Kanatako. There, Tana supposedly entered the shop alone, got addressed by an unknown man while he was studying a second-hand billboard, and then left without picking up his order from the shop owner. After he left the shop he basically vanished. His girlfriend May was waiting in their car above the shop, or so the mother said.

"Tanaka Dawa allowed us to conduct a superficial searching of Tana's bedroom. There were three interesting unexpected findings:

"Firstly, we have an illegal Simsense deck, ready for BTL consumption, together with legal and illegal otaku stuff from the manga scene. Lanhua slotted one BTL, it was a sexual stimulation for joint trips in a manga setting. This makes this Simsense shop in Little Chibba an interesting place to visit for sure.

"Secondly, we came up with a Tibetan textbook and handwriting. I'd say 'nothing special about that', but somehow it was odd. Why was it placed in the wardrobe, between two stacks of shirts and trousers? And I might be ignorant, but I consider Tibetan writing largely a religious thing. I know that's not really true, but from what the mother said, I have the impression that Tana did not really embrace his heritage. I hope Pema and Lanhua can figure out what Tana was up to with this stuff.

"Lanhua had the idea that Tana's Simsense hobby might also be related to Urban Brawling or athletics. She recognized an unusual amount of merchandising. I don't know what to make out of that. But we'll see. The large poster above Tana's bed showed Christie Muller, a legendary female human Urban Brawl player from the Seattle Dozers league. Surely someone you want to pin up if you're a teenager and into ladies who are rumored to carry a fire elemental in their heart.

"Thirdly, Pema discovered a small business card of a psychotherapist and trauma specialist named Rainer Zobel-Mangold. Tana had an appointment just two weeks before he disappeared, on 14th of November 2081. This could be related to Simsense abuse, I guess. We should ask the mother about that, carefully.

"Furthermore, we learned that there were tensions between Tana and his father, who died after an accident at the construction site he worked on, 24th of April, 2082. Roughly two weeks ago. I am not sure what to think about that. Lanhua is sceptical. My first idea was that the Triads are involved and finally plunged him to death. His employer was a Japanese corporation, called High Low Rise Deep International. But seriously, the Shining Mountain sanctiones the whole investigation. So what would be the point then?

"The mother also pointed out that there are racial or ethincal tensions against the Tibetan diaspora at Tana's high school, the Dunya school. It's a strictly Chinese speaking school. There are no Tibetan classes whatsoever. I don't think that's a prominent lead, but if May or others support the assumption of an anti-immigration crime, we have to check out the school, teachers, peers.

"Tanaka Dawa was so kind to also provide us with some evidence. An old invalidated SIN of Tana, his school ID card, an animated framed trideo portrait of her son, as well as some pieces of clothing.

"All in all, we have no indication wether Tana left voluntarily or wether he disappeared against his will.

(Yin arrives on ground level and approaches their small van close to the residential complex. The heavy rain still pours down. That's the last thing you hear before the recording stops.)

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