The Tana Case Part 7

GM: Yin
Players: Sylvia
Synopsis:In this part of the investigation, Sylvia is recruited into the investigation and agrees to go to the Rez in order to find information on a criminal Simsense Group or the missing subject's (Tanaka Tana) girlfriend May Naru. Sylvia infiltrates the upper Rez and climbs down deeper and deeper while tension, difficulty and danger for life and sanity increase constantly. She finds the tortured body of May Naru, hanging on display in the "Waste Bin", a grim place where hardcore underground groups set a warning example to those who cross their path. In a tough fight, Sylvia shows wits, makes some dangerous (and painful) decisions, and proves her unique way to solve the situation with resourcefulness and social skill. - In the end, May Naru is rescued. This seriously moves the Tana Case forward, heralding the story arc's closure.

Date: 2082-11-05 - 2082-11-23

The recruitment of a dancer

Text Message to Sylvia from Yin (#9019) <---—-
Greetings Syl. This is Yin, we met yesterday at the Red Rock's. I have something to discuss. Can you name a private spot, preferably outside of the Warrens?

Text Message to Yin from Sylvia (#14269) <---—-
Hiya Yin! I'm on at Scarlett's on Virginia in CAS sector, come on over and ask for Lizzy :)

CAS Sector, Virginia, the Scarlett's night club.

The entrance to this club is worn-down, a single-floor establishment with a black overhang, the exterior walls lit with cool ultraviolet tones. A neon white sign across the front of the overhang advertises the venue as 'Scarlett's.' The sign appears to have seen replacement more recently than the rest of the exterior has had attention.

The interior appears to have held better maintenance; the same cool blue tones from the exterior mingle with neon pink. Electronic signage warns that admittance to the premises is restricted to those of legal age. There's no mistaking the main function of the club - a central pit surrounds a raised stage with a glowing LED floor and two ceiling-length poles for dancers, affording all angles of viewership to anyone performing. On either side of the pit are two additional stages with two additional vertical poles each as well as horizontal poles. Leather chairs surround the central stage, with more chairs positioned arm-to-arm facing opposite directions between the middle and each of the outer stages to provide more viewing space. At the western end of the room is a half-octagonal bar from which drinks are served; the northern and southern ends each feature a screen showing the stage from the opposite side to make sure nothing is missed.

There are additional tables throughout the establishment, including spacious booths surrounded by long couch-style seating for parties - and a number of private rooms that lead off from the periphery. Such rooms have electronic displays to signal when they're occupied and come equipped with mirrored walls and solo stages.

Yin receives the message at home, checking the matrix for the general area and some basic information on 'Scarlett's'. 'Okay', he thinks to himself, 'fitting in some way'. He gets into one of his better suits, applies some sweet perfume and takes a cab ride to Virginia. After passing the usual door check (he would leave his pistol at the doors if they even bother) he would first of all walk straight to the restrooms. If there is at least a little bit of privacy, he'd have a little chat with the astral world.

It's easy enough to get in - there is a 'coat check' where most firearms are expected to be left for safety. It's not quite the part of town where the average person is in imminent danger if unarmed; somewhat on the border between worlds, there's a very 'come as you are' vibe to the place, with suits and less-savoury sorts rubbing shoulders in the dimly-lit environs, with corporate types tending toward the party booths, the types who don't take off their jackets tending toward the bar, and a motley spectrum of individuals hanging around the stages themselves.

Yin is lucky, the restroom is almost empty and there are some dead corners without camera coverage - would they even work? He takes out a small spray can and a paper cut, lowers down and sprays something on the wall, right beneath the sink and mirror. "Come forth!", Yin whispers in Japanese, while is shaman mask manifests for a few seconds. Then, Yuki-chan jumps forth from the spray tag, forced into the cone of light from the ceiling lights above. The figure is human-like, about 30 centimeters in height, but only colored in black and white. It appears to be a sketch of a emo-manga character of some sort. The head is oversized and sticky hair covers all but one eye and a tiny nose and mouth. A broken white heart is stitched on Yuki-chan's black longsleeve. All in all, Yuki-chan seems to have dropped out of some graffiti. He is barely three dimensional, easily shifting into nothingness and back again. He is obviously not amused to be forced into the visible, mundane reality, crossing his arms poutingly. "Yeah, I know, Yuki. Disappear and follow me. Oh, better even, lead me to the elven dancer, Sylvia. She's called Lizzy here." Yuki-chan disappears, trying to lead Yin to Sylvia."

The poles in the main area of the club are fully manned at the moment, with an eclectic array of dancers. The standards appear to be reasonably high, with a diversity probably intended to appeal to a broad audience - though there don't seem to be any trolls working right now.

Yuki-chan seems to be having difficulty finding her quarry amidst the crew, though she does lead Yin to a scantily-clad, red-haired elven dancer on one of the side stages - unfortunately, clearly not 'Lizzy,' as she's a more typical elven height of six feet, most of which seems to be legs, especially given the flexibility that she's currently putting on display.

She seems popular.

Yin follows Yuki-chan's lead, taking in the impression of the nightclub. "Now, why don't we work more often in that kind of environment, hm? I think it's more rewarding than the moss-covered back-alley we had last time…," so he whispers to Yuki-chan, even though his simple spirit servant can't really relate. Suddenly, little Yuki-chan stops in front of the red haired dancer. The little spirit manifests on the lit floor right in front of Yin, pointing upwards. Yin gives a sigh: "Hmmm… great. Yes, she's pretty. But not lizzy-pretty. Be gone for now, but tag along. I take a look by myself."

The red-haired elven dancer has one leg hooked up over the pole some four feet or more off the floor, the other resting on the LED surface of the stage as it illuminates her in flashing pink and blue from below. It seems that she's got reasonably sharp ears, as Yin gets a discreet dagger stare over the elf's shoulder before her expression fades back into the music currently playing - a yesteryear tune called Le Disko by Shiny Toy Guns.

Yin decides that a scouting route is in order. He circles the pit, gets a drink at the bar, checks out the other active dancers, all the way looking out for someone who could fit Sylvia's profile.

«Auto-Judge[]» Yin (#9019) spends 100 nuyen for "Getting a decent non-alcoholic drink and some scrip for the dancers".

Searching the stages doesn't provide any sign of the diminutive silver-haired elf from before. On the other hand, a pink-haired human waitress in a bodysuit-and-stilettos combo who's carrying a tray of drinks slows as she passes Yin. "Looking for Lizzy?" the woman asks, though she doesn't wait long for Yin to answer before looking back toward the direction of the bar. "She just finished her show. She's at the bar."

Indeed, there is an elf leaning against the bar on her elbows, currently in conversation with an Ork bartender. She's dressed in a pearlescent silver bikini with shimmering tassels tactically placed to offer a pretense of modesty for her bottom and propped up closer to typical height for her race by a pair of matching strapped stiletto sandals. Her hair is purple and nicely kept, but otherwise, she's almost certainly recognizable as the elf that Yin is looking for.

Yin makes a mental note when the bartender points him in the right direction. "Well organized or very attentive. Maybe she gave her colleagues a heads-up, hm?" he muses to himself. After tipping the bartender with a little something, Yin walks right to the bar. On his approach, he takes in the sight to behold, starting from Sylvia's stilettos up to her tassels and elegant, exposed back. He steps right next to her, offering a fifty to the bartender: "For her refreshment, whatever she likes."

When the bartender's eyes shift past the elf's shoulder, the dancing girl turns her head, the flick sending her metallic purple hair swaying and scintillating in the dark light. It's definitely Sylvia - though her makeup and appearance are fresh and immaculate, unlike the last time that the pair met at the Red Rock. A smile spreads across her lips. "Aww, you don't have to," she says with a flash of teeth, though she turns to the bartender. "I'll have a Long Island," she requests before Yin has a chance to retract the order.

Turning her body to face Yin, looking down from the height her heels provide, the elf takes his appearance in with an expression of curiousity. "Nice tie," she says of the colorfully printed accessory, reaching out to touch it so that she can turn the sunlit skysraper design for a better look. "Thanks for making an effort. It looks good for my boss if I've got the right kinda clientele coming to see me," she says in a tone low enough to be covered by the general noise of the club, but still easily heard by Yin. "You wanna order yourself something to bring with you before we take over one of the rooms?"

Yin just smiles and let Sylvia her way with the order. He rests one elbow on the bar and stands still patiently while she examines the tie. "Thank you, and just in case you didn't notice, or noone cared to mentioned it: you are a beutiful sight to behold. It feels like looking at you is a profanity for simple man like me. I have mixed feelings about seeing you working here, but you seem to have a good time, and so will I." Yin orders a bottle of wine and two glasses and then nods at Sylvia: "I am ready to go. You lead the way, queen of hearts."

«Auto-Judge[]» Yin (#9019) spends 200 nuyen for "Damn bottle of wine in a strip club. Hopefully it's worth the bancruptcy!".

Sylvia's jewel-green eyes flit up from Yin's neckwear to his face as he pays her his compliments. "Aww, you're too nice to me. Not that I want you to stop, my ego always likes a good petting," she says with a warm mischief in her expression, her smile lingering. "Don't worry about me working here, though - I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself."

Around this time, the bartender sets out a tray with the drinks and glasses. "Here you go."

"Thanks, Mike," 'Lizzy' says as she picks the tray up with the practiced poise of an actual waitress. The bartender wordlessly slides her a magnetic key - apparently the arrangement for the room has already been made - and with a grateful nod, the scantily-clad elf turns to start sauntering toward a door to one side of the room marked '6' by an unobtrusive blue neon light. "Queen of hearts, huh? You're quite the flatterer," she says as she glances sidelong back over her shoulder toward Yin.

Yin follows her lead, checking for some obvious onlookers on their way, just in case - or out of habit: "I never flatter. I just struggle to express myself in the most suitable way. And when it comes to beauty, words are usually pointless quiet quickly anyway. So, please excuse me, and let me know if I am too stupid." He smiles to himself. When they reach the number 6, Yin offers to hold the tray while she opens the door.

There are the occasional passing glances toward Sylvia and Yin as they walk past the crowds from other patrons, and even other staff, but none that stay past their welcome - at least, not as far as the elven dancer is concerned. Then again, being looked at is one of the primary duties of her profession.

"I'm certainly not going to call you stupid for saying nice things about me," Sylvia assures Yin as she steps up to number 6. "In fact, it'd take a real effort to get me to say anything mean, and as far as I'm concerned, you're not even trying." She turns her back to the door, casually keeping the tray in hand as Yin offers to hold it, and uses her other hand to swipe the keycard. A light shove from her backside forces the door to yield, the drinks barely jostled on the tray, and Syl gives Yin a wink before stepping backward into the room.

Inside, the room is mirrored on all sides, with a small central stage and pole surrounded by a semi-circle of comfortable (if somewhat aged) synth-leather seating with white plastic extrusions positioned at regular intervals to hold drinks (or other items). 'Lizzy' sets the plastic keycard on the tray before bending down to placing it gently on one of said platforms.

"So, I'm guessing that you at least had business on your mind /before/ you got here," she says, straightening into a relaxed posture and turning back to Yin. "How much distraction are you hoping to put up with while we chat? Personally, I'm good at multitasking, so I can be flexible."

She stretches her arms up behind her head. "Or not. Your choice."

Yin settles down without haste and starts to work on the bottle of wine, removing its cover and cap: "Is this place safe to talk freely?" He peeks up at her while he opens the bottle. He doesn't respond to the question about how much entertainment should come with the business yet. But on the other hand, that's maybe an answer already. - In the meantime, little Yuki-chan starts to explore this ominous room number six and its corners, still unseen though. Yin issues a quiet command to his little fellow, that he may warn him about any curious and snooping astral presence that enters the room.

Stepping over to close the door with a last glance toward the club outside, Sylvia steps back around the stage and up onto the low platform, leaning the curves of her back against the pole in a relaxed state. "I can't guarantee that nobody could be listening," the stripper admits as she idly hikes a heel up along the pole, "but as far as the club goes, they take video, but not audio, and the video gets nuked daily as long as nobody messes around. I'm still setting up shop…"

Sylvia's heels click down off of the stage as she approaches Yin at a leisurely pace, before bending forward, offering the sort of view that a customer might expect in this sort of establishment, leaning into a proximity that would be inappropriate in some contexts but welcomed by the same clientele. "…but I'm planning on getting a double-ewe-enn-gee and scanner. Sourced a seller, I just need to get my hoop to the shop and make a deal."

She smiles reassuringly. "So, there's a little risk right now, but as far as anyone cares, I'm just giving you a show. Right now, we're negotiating," she finishes with a wink.

In astral space, the club is as quiet as one might expect in a place frequented mainly by mundanes, whose services tend to be best served in realspace - there don't seem to be any astrally prying entities around.

"I'll take any privacy concerns into consideration on the invoice if you do need to pay me for anything, of course." Syl offers a sweet smile.

Yin almost tries to move back into the chair the moment Sylvia approaches him more closely. He's trying his best to navigate this professionally, but it is a little bit complicated for him, after all. But then he raises one hand, caressing her cheek when she moves close enough. Carefully, he let his fingers dig a little bit into her hair, if she would let him, whispering: "It's best to clarify that before we proceed any further: I would not be here if I would not respect you. Maybe I will have a hard time falling asleep this night, with you ravaging my mind, but I am here because I believe your plans for the furture are not limited to the length of a dance pole. So, if I ask you now to settle down on me, so that we can talk, can you do this with full awareness that this is purely for security's reason? Because I am hoping that you can help me in a serious matter, or even two."

It seems as if Yin invites her to play along with the expected client-dancer-game for this establishment. His eyes are serious though. He's probably not interested in exploiting this situation for a lap dance's sake.

The diminuitive elven dancer doesn't press the issue when Yin nearly retreats from her approach; after all, professionalism on her own part wouldn't have it. She, for her own part, has an almost surprised look as the hand touches her cheek, her soft face brushing lightly against his fingertip as she turns her head in response to his fingers digging into her hair, one of her pointed ears tilting toward Yin's mouth to receive his whisper. Once he's made her request, she turns her eyes back to meet his, a faint flicker visible behind the preternatural verdant irises in the close proximity for a moment.

She gives a faint nod, a sly grin creeping across her lips - the look of a stripper who's just negotiated the sale of a lap dance.

"Deal," she says in a low voice, teeth glinting in the blue light as she leans her hands to either side of Yin's shoulders, gripping onto the backrest behind the investigator for support as she climbs up onto the seating on her knees, straddling the detective's legs with her shins, the heels of her stiletto sandals hanging off the bench behind her. She hovers just off of Yin's lap proper, back arching, finding her balance before she starts to rise and fall suggestively above him without quite making unladylike contact. The motion and positioning of her hips emphasizes their shape, causing the tassels to fail in their task of concealing her bottom and presenting it prominently to the mirror opposite - though Yin's vision may, for the moment, be somewhat preoccupied with her chest, which rises and falls at eye level.

"This okay?" Sylvia asks, keeping her eyes locked with Yin's.

Physical touch and the closeness between two bodies is a dangerous thing, in some sense. It goes deeper under the skin than people often realize in the first place. Maybe Yin is just aware of that fact, circling Sylvia's orbit, trying not to crash into the sun, so to speak. Anyway, Yin relaxes, leans back and locks eyes with Sylvia: "As for the missing person case, I'd have some questions about your situation and affiliation in the Warrens, before I offer you anything. Where do you roam, and who protects you there? You are maybe 'owned' by someone their? I ask, because I can't afford to get you entangled and - worst case -spoil the case."

Yin turns his head slightly to the left, opening up for a dive to his neck and ear, if Sylvia is looking for an opportunity to respond.

The rhythmic rise and fall as Sylvia rides the air between herself and her 'client' continues with practiced intensity, the pace slow and steady at first as she maintains eye contact with casual comfort and listens to the detective's questions and concerns. When her turn comes to speak, she leans down, back arching further as her hips rise and start to grind in a figure-eight motion behind her, the lowering of her upper body (and affordance of a better view of the mirror behind her behind) serving as an excuse to put her face near his neck and ear. Judging by the deftness of her movements while she carries on a conversation, she's reasonably good at multi-tasking after all.

"I'm not owned by anybody, and I don't plan to be. I still have to meet with Mercy, but I hear she's got a head for cred, so as long as she hears me out, I'm sure she'll see I'm better for biz as a freelancer - I pay rent, and I'm pretty much a natural warmup act for their place, anyway."

She tilts her head, letting her hair spill fetchingly across one shoulder as she offers a smile that could be taken as seductive - though in this case, in their proximity, it leans more toward reassuring. "Don't worry about me. I can take care of myself, anyway. If anything, it gives me some flexibility for whatever you want from me."

«Auto-Judge[]» Yin (#9019) rolls Willpower for "Open test, as a guideline for future fallouts":
1 2 2 4 4 8

Yin nods, and continues to speak. As it seems, he accepts that explanation for now, taking a mental note of the name 'Mercy': "I am looking for a young asian woman, called May Naru. Here, take a look later…," he straightens himself up a bit, in order to get a small picture out of his jacket's inner pocket, unbuttoning the jacket while doing so. He holds it up briefly, covered by Sylvia's hair, before he slips it into her pearlescent silver bikini.

The photograph shows a very even-shaped face, a little cut across her left eyebrow. Pitch-black hair, tightly knotted. Her mouth is rather small. No makeup, maybe a little leftover eyeliner from last night? Also, she removed some piercings for the shot; nose, ears, maybe eyebrow. Even though she appears stripped and exposed like on a mug shot, she smiles. A smile that even softens her sharp almond-shaped eyes. Her skin is quiet dark, like a girl from rural Indonesia, Vietnam, or Mongolia. All in all, a roughed-up beauty.

Yin continues to explain: "She supposedly is affiliated with a criminal Simsense group, maybe producing BTL and or even Simporn. The group identifies by a stylized, spherical bottle with a skull imprint and a djinn coming out if it."

Sylvia's current position does, for better or worse, allow for Yin to have a better look at the mirror across the room. The sight causes Yin to shudder a bit. Unvoluntarily he moves his free hand across Sylvia's back, gently lowering her down. Memories spring to Yin's mind. Yuki-chan manifests in the mirror as well, for a few seconds. Maybe curious, maybe exhorting. His somber and accusing face seems almost prophetical: Nothing good will come from this, Yin. He whispers: "If you want to look out for May or this Simsense group you have to be fully aware that you can't fix broken pieces. Any kind of suspicion on their side might ruin the whole case. If you feel like you're wielding a blunt club and you don't know how to investigate without raising suspicion, just don't. This happens, even to experienced investigators and field agents, it is not your fault then."

Sylvia's own hand lifts up to assist in secreting the photograph from Yin into the right cup of her top, the motion disguised as a cupping of her chest for presentative purposes. Every movement seems as though she's spent countless hours mastering it; whether or not she's new at the sort of business transaction that she's actually engaging in, she's certainly experienced at the business transaction that she's using to disguise it.

"Careful with the hands," she does mention, but not coldly - the comment accompanied by a gentle smile. She does allow herself to be guided down, and for a moment, her weight can be felt - but it's a passing tease. "There are rules -" she comments vaguely "- and I don't want you to get too distracted."

Seemingly in contravention of her claim, she maneuvers herself, turning around and standing up on the bench in front of Yin before lowering herself back down into the reverse of the position she was previously in, now offering the view of her posterior previously presented in the opposing pane in much more personal proximity as her hips start to roll again.

"Are we talking 'raku parlours here?" she asks over her shoulder, giving Yin a sidelong glance. For all it would appear, she's probably asking him for feedback on the exhibition. "I know they run 'em near the Market - might even be able to get a tour if I hit it off with Mercy. I'm sure as drek not interested in ending up in one, so, no promises," she says with a lift and wiggle of her hips.
«OOC» Yin says, "Just to be sure: what is Sylvia referring to with "'raku parlours"?"
«OOC» Sylvia says, "Hopefully I got the name right! I meant bunraku parlours"

Yin seems to nod thankfully as Sylvia reminds him of what this meeting should be all about - and what not! He tries to keep a greater distance now, reisting the urge to feel her warm body close again: "I have no information about that, sadly. This group seems to operate from eastern Asiantown, but others are working on that end. I suggest you focus on the Warrens, since that's where I expect May Naru to be. Follow the genie in the bottle, if you find it. But the girl is the primary subject. Both are possibly related. But that's all we know so far."

"Got it," Sylvia says with a satisfied-looking smile as she suggestively bounces her hips above Yin's lap, harder and harder - before easing them to a rest, still hovering just above the investigator's lap. "Is there anything else you wanted to run by me, or should I wind down the sesh and let you out of here to take care of your own business?" Her tone doesn't necessarily suggest what business that might be, and she holds her position with her hands on her thighs - awaiting Yin's response…

Yin hesitates, then he starts to get out of the chair: "I.. I have something else. But… actually I am a bit mixed up right now… Let us talk about that when I had time to sort some things out - and take a cold shower, maybe…" he tries a half-hearted smile. "Thank you for um… having me. And for your support." Thus, Yin is ready to leave the place for now. He leaves some more nuyen behind, to keep up with the show, and returns back home.

Working the Contact

After the illustrious meeting between Sylvia and Yin at the Scarlett's night club, Sylvia had some kind of job assignment in her pockets when she left the venue later that night. Yin had asked her to investigate two leads in the Warrens: The wherabouts of a girl named May Naru and any hints about a Simsense group that uses a genie from the bottle as their street tag.

MAY NARU: Yin left a little portrait shot of May Naru in her bra (*cough*): A very even-shaped human face, a little cut across her left eyebrow. Pitch-black hair, tightly knotted. Her mouth is rather small. No makeup, maybe a little leftover eyeliner from last night? Also, she removed some piercings for the shot; nose, ears, maybe eyebrow. Even though she appears stripped and exposed like on a mug shot, she smiles. A smile that even softens her sharp almond-shaped eyes. Her skin is quiet dark, like a girl from rural Indonesia, Vietnam, or Mongolia. All in all, a roughed-up beauty.

THE SIMSENSE GROUP: The group identifies by a stylized, spherical bottle with a skull imprint and a djinn coming out if it. It has been seen on modified Simsense hardware so far. The group is supposedly a small fringe group from eastern Asiantown. They produce niche experiences on demand, more or less. And they are a black market group for illegal de- and recoding. They also offer deck updates, for hot simsense stuff. Nothing special about them, except that they are deep into Simsense recording technique. They are doing deep level simsense interpretation. The name of the group is still unknown, the investigators just call them "the Genies from the Bottle".

Both, May Naru and this Simsense group, might be closely related, but this an assumption so far. It's up to Sylvia now, how she wants to proceed with that information.

Not wanting to hit the ground totally unarmed, Sylvia will start things off by dropping a line to her contact 'Bunny' for a consultation. He's a decker who works out of Seattle that she's hired before to track down and edit supposedly-wiped footage in the past. Given how much Bunny seems to enjoy working with anything lewd, she figures it's worth a shot as to whether he might be able to track down information on the Genies or May Naru - she'll use her eye camera to share the photograph. She's willing to negotiate for the favor, hinting there might be a nice pic on the table as an opener. She doesn't expect immediate results but does want to hear back within a few hours for any initial data and a projected timeline on further info before she hits the streets herself.

Luckily, lewd Bunny is available but lazy to agree on the contract at first. Several hours pass until Sylvia receives word that he would be willing to dig around for 500 nuyen. The price probably underlines his lack of motivation. But let's see how successfully Sylvia settles the final deal. She probably knows how to motivate!

Bunny's interest in the issue raises drastically the moment Sylvia brings a possible connection to weird Simsense porn production into play. Also, little beauty May Naru is somehow involved, maybe? This, and some of Sylvia's charm on top, and Bunny nocks the whole thing up another notch or two on his personal list of priorities. He even lowers his rate significantly, gilding Sylvia's charisma with a discount for 425 nuyen total.


According to a general CAS census database from 2072, May Naru is a Korean-Vietnamese-Denver-Mix of an Asian woman, 5.65" tall and about 22 years old (born 2060-11-10). Her current residence is unknown and her last residence outdated. Her family is most likely not residing on this continent. She worked at several locations, including a school restaurant, and a car-wash in Denver. In fact, the picture Yin gave to Sylvia was taken from her job profile at the school restaurant. - As far as Bunny can tell, she never got arrested, but he points out that this is difficult to verify in Denver, given the many factions, rival authorities and inconsistent databases. Sadly, that's all Bunny comes up with when it comes to May Naru.


Regarding the "Genie in the Bottle Group", Bunny confirms the already known information: a small criminal fringe group, circling Denver's illegal data haven on a wide orbit and specializing on Simsense production for niche markets, including BTL. However, Bunny comes up with some more details.

He found the group's logo as a matrix watermark on some of their work, assumedly. They seem to focus on deep level simsense interpretation, which means that they manipulate a subject's realtime experience, including memories and conscious experience, rudimentary sensory inputs, as well as subconscious interpretation of the subject's actual or remembered sensory inputs. In other words: they navigate and rummage through people's minds on almost all layers of consciousness. Some subject's seem to offer themselves freely, since the group is known to pay handsomely for unique experiences and mental conditions. Some other subjects' minds have been forcefully cracked open by this group.

The most (in)famous work of this "Genie Group" was a BTL reconstruction of Alissa Murrey's memories of her childhood abuse in 2070, full Div-X on sensory and emotional level. Alissa Murrey was a quiet well known celebrity in that year who went missing on a business trip and never returned. Bunny warns Sylvia, not to slot this recording, should she look it up. It is considered to be disturbingly life changing and shunned by even the most hardcore Beetle Freaks.

To pull this off, the group must have had access to some very unique equipment. The deep level interpretation of memory and the live interaction between a prying Simsense interpreter and his subjects is a completely different matter than the usual Simsense recording, which uses Simrigs in order to capture and record sensory inputs. What this group does, is unethical, unusual, and illegal. Subjects to this kind of deep level simsense manipulation are most likely suffering from severe trauma and mental diseases, or even disablement and death. Also, the process of interpretation and extraction has severe drawbacks, since on a certain level below the conscious experience, it is no longer possible to make a clear distinction between the subject's experiences and the interpreter's own interpretation of those experiences. This so called 'process of appropriation' renders the concept of objectivity completely useless.

The reason to even consider doing such Simsense extraction is quiet rational, on the other hand: you can steal and manipulate someone's most precious memories, no matter how deep they are hidden, even if they don't remember them themselves anymore.

Bunny warns Sylvia to avoid this group if possible. But a Bunraku Parlour or any other serious Simsense den in Denver would be a good place to start.

The information gets sent off in collated form to Yin in a series of texts from Sylvia, with a note that she thinks the disappearance of Alissa Murrey might be worth looking into. She says she's going to cruise around the Warrens, particularly Mission Hills and Aurora generally. She wants to try and trace from the 'market' to the 'factory,' since sales fronts are more likely to -want- to be found, and if she knows where the goods end up, her smuggler contact Stew might have an idea how they get there. She'll pose as looking for 'especially interesting' BTLs for a 'client.' I know the Rez's Souk Marketplace has a place called 'Tito's Tech Tent' that sells BTLs (it's in a +view in the Souk Marketplace), so that might be an example of where she could end up.

Yin is quiet happy about more details on the Simsense group. This shifts the attention a little bit away from Asiantown's Denver Tech Center, where the group is rumored to operate. With such a reputation and heavy shit they pulled off, the Warrens seems to even more promising now. - Yin offers Sylvia to stay in the vicinity and within radio contact, should she decide to head into the Rez and try to pick up a trail.

Investigations at the Rez (Preparations)

Sylvia doesn't have wheels of her own, but the Rez isn't too far from one of her crash pads - so when she got in touch with Yin earlier, she suggested meeting on the outskirts, in neutral territory for the local gangs. She's got a sleek, relatively short black coat with a high collar on over an orange dress with a few strategic cutouts, and a pair of black cowgirl boots on her feet. Her hair is a radioactive green today, her eyes blue; yet, it still manages to be a slightly less attention-seeking look than what Yin's seen Sylvia in before.

This being the 'rens, she's packing a couple of Cavalier Cerberuses (Cerberi?) in easy-access hidden holsters under her coat - not that anyone would likely care if she were sporting them in open carry, but she likes to look harmless.

She'll be leaning against a wall, pretending to smoke a cigarette, one heel against the brick behind her, when Yin finds her - not too hard to notice, particularly since she'll have given him a heads-up on her appearance du jour.

Yin sticks close to the badly damaged wall of decade old concrete, trying to blend with the grey and black that the Rez becomes after dark. His armored longcoat and his sticky hair makes him appear also quiet differently, compared to the diner or the night club, where both had met before. He spots her and waves a greeting with his hand.

Luckily, they are on a dirty, wet sidewalk through some industry ruins, lots of rubble lieas around, and there are the occasional people passing by, but it's a rather quiet spot for now. In the distance, Yin and Sylvia can see the light of the Rez and the Souk beaming through a grey haze.

"Syl, greetings," Yin steps closer, rubbing his cold fingers, "alright. Are you ready? I brought some surveillance electronics with me, to get you outitted. Also, I would like to call for some aid from the spirit world for you, if you don't mind?"

"Sure, I'll take anything you've got for me," Sylvia says, rolling the cigarette from one side of her mouth to the other before plucking it from between her lips and dropping it underfoot, grinding it out and smiling at Yin as if she's said some subtle joke. "I'll take your advice as far as aid from the spirit world goes - I don't know much about magic. Well, not that kind, anyway - I'm sure I can work my own kind of magic." The smile stretches a little further as she winks.

"So, I'll plan on posing as a beetle procurer, looking on behalf of a 'friend' - sound good?" she says, making a couple of air quotes with her fingers as she does.

Yin smiles a bit, looking back from the Rez lights to Sylvia: "From all that we know, which is not much, I think it's a good point to start from, yes. But be flexible."

Yin then steps in front of Sylvia, his face stern, his eyes dark. "Again, thank you for offering your help with that. I will stay back here and if anything goes the wrong way, I'll be at your side quickly." He nods reaffirmingly. "So, I want to ask the spirits of the Rez for a little help with your serch, if you don't mind, Syl. Do you still have the picture of May Naru? If so, please get it out and hold it right up in front of your face, so that you can see it."

"Being flexible is pretty much my specialty," Sylvia says with a smirk. She stops up as Yin steps in front of her, her own expression becoming more serious.

"Null sweat - might be nice to see some cred if we pull this off, but we'll call it a favor until then. I don't mind helping. If she's mixed up with the Genies, her situation's way more fragged than mine."

She pulls the photo out of her coat pocket. "I was gonna give this back, actually - got it stored on my camera up top anyway," she says as she holds the picture up in front of her face as instructed, focusing her eyes on it.

Yin circles slowly, stepping behind Sylvia. He rests one hand lightly on her shoulder, closes his eyes and leans forward, so that his forehead touches Sylvia's back of her head. In Japanese he calls: "Spirits of the pathways, hidden or bright, - to May Naru lead on, and be her guide."

First, there seems to be no difference, but suddenly, something springs forth from the depth of Sylvia's mind: an unerring certainty that May Naru is not within the vicinity. It's almost a natural sense to her: Should May Naru cross her path, even out of the mndane sight, Sylvia will feel a warm rush running through her body. The expectation for that sensation is already there, waiting, urging her to move on.

Sylvia's eyes follow Yin over her shoulder as he steps around behind her, returning back to the picture once they can't pursue him any further. "I didn't know that magic took poetry," she comments in Japanese, just the slightest bit of tension detectable from her - though it fades as the magic starts to take hold, her eyes blinking rapidly a couple of times.

"Alright - I feel like… I've got some kind of radar in my gut. She's not here, but… might as well go ahead, right?"

She glances over her shoulder and gives Yin a nod, raising a hand to flutter her fingers and smiling. "See you later!"

She starts to trot off along the sidewalk, hips swaying naturally beneath the fabric of her dress as she makes her way toward the Souk - being, as it is, the economic hub of the area.

Yin tries to catch her before she's off: "Wait, also, take this little earpiece and a wireless transceiver for your belt. We should have a decent range across the Rez, but we might break up if you enter sublevels. Only use it if you really need to, of course." Quickly, Yin would help Sylvia to get the comms prepared and set up, if she agrees to take the comms.

"Oh, sorry - got too excited," Sylvia says with an apologetic grin as she turns around and lets Yin do his thing, seeming fairly comfortable with letting the detective hook her up. Once she's got the equipment in place, she tries it out. "Testing?"

While Yin quickly hides the pieces on her body, he replies a bit amused and a bit belatedly: "The necessity of words can be disputed, right. But we are never alone, not even in the darkest shadows. Some spirits have a keen sense for respect after all. And not few take delight in simple things, like a poem." He then steps back: "Alright, I read you. You're good to go." He bows briefly but sincere. "Good hunting."

Sylvia's expression is curious at Yin's explanation. Once everything proves ready to roll, she returns his bow with a two-fingered signal between a wave and salute. "Arigato," she bids, before turning back toward the Souk and making her way onward - her expression and gait casual, though her eyes do sweep to and fro, a faint glow behind her irises illuminating any dark patches she may pass through on her course toward the marketplace.

Yin watches her leave and shortly after he tries to find his way up on the second floor of a nearby building, hoping to get a good spot to lay low, wait, focus, and keep an eye out for anything of significance to their little investigation that is just about to start.

Investigation at the Rez (Tito's Tech Tent)

The Rez - Souk Marketplace

This open-air marketplace, referred to as the Souk by locals, is the beating heart of the Warrens; it is vital to the economy and the continued existence of what's left of Aurora. A mountain of rubble, a big box remnant of the Aurora Project, and a free-standing blue steel pavilion form the focal point of the market. The roof of the 'diner' pavilion is hitched with any and every kind of light that can be spliced, so that vendors can sell day and night under the watch of its many glaring eyes.

Further back from the pavilion, on the edge of a sprawling tent city that exists on the shores of the reservoir, the vendors are less densely packed. Here the cacophony of fast-talking sellers is replaced by a low murmur of voices, the occasional scream or the rat-tat of burst fire; the appetizing aroma of charred meat and heavy spices are replaced by the nostril-stinging stench of humanity and almost everyone wears a breather. The tents are bigger, the shacks sturdier and the businesses darker.

Anything appropriated good or service sold elsewhere in the Warrens are available here, from boots to ass, but space is limited; there is a lot of competition from like-minded entrepreneurs hoping to succeed without the heavy handed help of the gangs. There are tent alleys for every kind of ethnicity, but meta-humanity is not well represented here; there are a few exceptions, but locals have been harder on those races known to have insulated communities elsewhere in the district.

Amidst this 'post-WWII Germany' apocalyptic landscape, a few intact buildings tower over the labyrinth of tents; rivalry is deadly, as one might expect, and each requires a small militia to defend.

On her way down the sloppy path towards the souk, Sylvia ponders. This is not her home turf, but she knows the Warrens quiet a bit. And she has an excellent feeling for the vibes of many places. Connecting to the souk will most likely be more trickier for her, since she's an elf, and an outsider. Given what she's after, her path will probably lead her deeper and deeper into the Souk. At a certain point, it would be very helpful - or even a necessity - to have someone as a guide with her. Someone who is known here, and knows the place. Otherwise, Sylvia's trip could get quiet rough, misleading, or outright life threatening.

Having come to that conclusion, Sylvia decides that the best course of action is to scope out someone who'd like to be her friend; someone who looks like they'd have time for her. She keeps an eye out as she approaches the market, quietly judging books by their cover, trying to put her knowledge of psychology to work in assessing from body language and reactions to the looks and smiles she gives who might be a good choice to approach. Maybe an off-chance her gleaned knowledge of shadowscene types might turn up someone she'd recognize.

On her way onwards to Tito's Tech Tent, she crosses the lighter, more accessable areas of the Rez. People here are colorful bunch, many with a certain tension in their faces which betrays they are not a regular at all. Now and then she spots some people who work for the local shops, darting through the mass of possible clients, trying to drag them towards their employers. But it's still nothing Sylvia would bet her money or life on. Too hasty, too superficial, and still all kind of cheap trash on sale. So she reaches Tito's Tech Tent after 20 minutes of a slow walk, but without any potential guide on her side yet.

Having made it deeper into the maze of the Souk, hands tucked into the pockets of her black coat, Sylvia is starting to feel a bit more part of the scenery by this point - naturally fading a little into the mood and atmosphere, even if she still might stand out a bit. At Tito's tech tent, she slows her gait, head turning and fingers brushing her blue hair away from her face as she spots the electronics on display. She turns into the tent, projecting an aura of casual consumer interest as she steps further in, not quite making eye contact with the owners as she appears to be more interested in examining the goods; digging into a dormant part of herself and imagining the product on display were more chemical in nature.

The wares on display are almost one-hundred percent illegal to some degree. Some are cheap rip-offs from commercial products, some are simply looted from dead bodies ("As new! Only dropped once!" one sign above a SImsense Deck says.), or tinkered beyond any concerns for consumer rights or healt. But, after all, it's a tech tent, and a quiet good one, for that matter.

One of the two hispanic pals almost immediately spots Sylvia and after some eye wiggling and nodding with his friend, he starts to trail her: "Yo, chica! Como estas?? Habla Cityspeak, English, si? En francaise, peut-tre?" Against the cold, he wears a thick and heavy coat, but it's left open enough to spot a cheap gold chain, a red tank top with some band artwork - and a well groomed, hairy macho chest.

It takes a certain amount of practice to pull off a slightly-glossed look with a good pair of cyber-eyes, but Syl does her best to make it work. Her teeth tug into a hidden half-grin at the sound of the voice behind her rattling off in multiple languages. She can't help herself.

"Estoy bien," she answers, turning around. "Yo hablo Cityspeak, English, si. Mais si tu preferes le francais, ca marche aussi (But if you prefer French, that works too)," she says, smoothly transitioning from one to the next with borderline-native fluency. "I can speak German," she offers in German, before adding in Russian "or Russian, if you want. Sore wa anata shidaidesu (It's up to you)," she finishes in Japanese before smiling. She lets her gaze wander up and down the hispanic man's attire before meeting his eyes with hers. "I'm impressed, chummer. You break out the lingua franca for all your customers?"

The latino guy can't help but put his hands on his hips and grinning widely. While listening to Sylvia's display of language skill, he turns his head to his compadre, pointing at Sylvia in amused disbelief: "Hola! Is that true world citizen, or a very good chatbot?!" he laughs. "For you, I learn every language you want in no time!" He replies to Sylvia, finally settling with Spanish. "But first things first: What are you looking for? Let me help you, don't worry about anything!"

Sylvia's customer consultant looks over her shoulder, picking up some of the goods on display right in front of her? "Chips, beetles, tools, hardware, a place to stay at night? Repairs even?! We can have a look at your interior right away, here in our tent! - Oh, no, not that way, of course. Cybernetic checkup I mean! We can do it with the latest interface protocols of all the major players.

"Oh, trust me, I'm real - mostly," Sylvia says in Spanish, her tone and expression coquettish as she grins and lets the guy continue his sale, smirking at the offer to check out her interior. She turns around to face the goods as the consultant reaches around her for them. "I gotta sponsor who likes me to keep my vocab polished - they wouldn't want lingo to be a problem when it comes to getting what they want. Not too often I get to show it off, though." She rests a hand against one of the tables with chips on display, drumming her fingertips lightly against the surface. She gives the man an appraising look, then smiles. "Seems like I came to the right place. You got a good line on beetles? My friend has… particular tastes."

"You should show off more often, seriously!" he remarks without a grin. He pretends to get more serious: "I am Manolo, by the way. And as I said: don't worry about anything. You came to the right place. What do you want exactly?" He leads her a bit away, where numerous chips of all sorts are taped with transparent duct tape against a flapping plastic sheet that covers one side of the tent.

"Well, if you think so, maybe I will," Sylvia offers, the collar of her coat draping loosely from her shoulders as she walks with Manolo. "I'm Syl." She gives the chips a look over, green eyes rapidly scanning them to see if she can spot any with the djinn-and-skull-bottle symbol on display. If she can't find them after a couple of seconds, she'll pipe up, her tone a little more soft-spoken as her Spanish becomes more careful: "I don't suppose you've got anything new from the Genies, do you? I've been looking for the latest. Figure it'll make a good birthday present for 'el jefe.'"

The logo of a Genie coming out of a bottle with a pirate's skull on the bottle is nowhere to be seen, and the moment Sylvia mentions the Genie group, Manolo hesitates for a second, but casually replies: "No, I don't know what that means. Genies you say?" He shakes his head. "Is that a performer or producer?", raising one eyebrow. "Anyway, what are you looking for, theme-wise, quality wise, immersion-wise?" Sylvia gets the impression that Manolo is trying to skip the topic and move on.

Sylvia glances sideways at Manolo as he starts to backpedal verbally from her request. Her smile doesn't disappear, though she does give a look back over her shoulder as if to check if anyone is listening in before hazarding a step closer, entering Manolo's bubble. "We can chat about it somewhere a little quieter if you like," she murmurs sotto voce in Spanish, before shifting to French, "or maybe I was using the wrong translation?" She offers a wide-eyed look up at Manolo.

Manolo rubbs his neck, glancing around: "We don't sell that here. We have kids come and go, after all." His tone flattens, getting less excited and more business-like, matter-of-factly: "But I can get you them genie chips. Don't worry. No sweat! What are you looking for?"

Manolo doesn't seem to be too fond of talking to her in some dark corner, maybe this comes as a surprise. But Sylvia concludes from her intimate knowledge of psychology and character types that he either has some objections against her personally, or against people who ask for genie chips - or a mix of both. Anyway, he kind of dropped the daily acting of a seasoned Rez seller by now. But he is still listening.

Sensing the way that Manolo is reacting to her and guessing at his motives, Syl decides to try a new gambit, though she keeps in his space - being slightly on the short side for an elf, she doesn't impose much, but does make her presence felt. Her expression softens. "Look, I can tell you don't wanna sell genies to me. Honestly, drek makes my skin crawl, too, but my boss…" She lowers her eyes and lifts her shoulders and releases them with a shudder before looking back up at Manolo. "Look, how about you tell me where to go for Genie gear, and I take a few hoop porns off your hands for your trouble?"

Sylvia can physically sense how uneasy Manolo feels. He shakes his head and his eyes harden against her. He's probably about to chase her away, but then Sylvia throws something in the ring which makes the scale barely tip in her direction. It's not the money, actually, but the different angle she takes by distancing herself from the Genie group. For some reason, this Manolo has some serious issues with the Genie group, that's even more obvious now. "I don't let you snoop around for the Genie group with a bag full of our stuff in your hands…" he stops and drops the rest of his sentence, cutting it short: "Make it 500 creds right now and I point you in the right direction."

Sylavia realizes that it's only for her blending in perfectly as a believable customer, doing the errands for someone else, that Manolo does even discuss the topic with her. Also, it becomes more apparent that he might even have some deep grudges against chicas or elves. That's a delicate situation, but she manages so far.

Syl rummages in her pocket, pulling out a small roll of cash, quickly counting it out by feel with the practiced manner of someone used to dealing in scrip. Having separated the 500 from the stack, she discreetly slips it toward Manolo. "Deal - you're a real gentleman, Manolo," she says in Spanish. "What can you tell me?"

«Auto-Judge[]» Sylvia (#14269) spends 500 nuyen for "Bribing Manny on the Genie Trail".

He quickly settles the deal, counting the money with one hand. Only after he has confirmed the sum, he answers: "You find sellers down at the 'Sousterrain Workshops', that's about a twenty minutes walk this direction, then down an old ramp into an abandoned underground train yard. Don't expect to see blinking adverts though, eh?, but the Workshops is your place to go." He tucks the money away, already stepping back from her. "Good luck, chica."

"Gracias, amigo," Sylvia says with a sweet smile as she tucks away her scrip in her pocket and flutters her fingers at Manolo. She steps away from the tent and takes her pocsec out, jacking in so that she can quickly note down the directions, along with a photo from her cybereye camera hardware of the direction that Manolo proposed. She'll then start walking a little further until she can find a quiet spot before contact Yin over her borrowed transceiver. "Yin, I gotta lead. There's a place called the 'Sousterrain Workshops' down in an underground train yard that deals for the Genies. Might even be where we're looking for. Think you can join me down there, or should I find a tour guide?"

Yin replies on spot: "If you are trailed, it would be better not to join too quickly. See if you can move further on with your legend. A guide would be helpful of course. You can give me some better descriptions of where you are and how you got there, I will then move closer to your position. Also, I have to keep up the spirit guidance. That leaves me a bit distracted."

Yin says "Is that fine for you?"

"Wiz, babe," Sylvia replies as she steps out of her quiet corner and carries on through the market. "I'll update you once I've found it. Gonna see if I can work some magic and find some friendly street meat." She keeps her eyes peeled as she saunters onward, following the directions given to her by Manolo, her hands tucked again inside her pockets to protect against the evening air.

Already while Sylvia walked deeper into the Rez and tried to call Yin, she did finally spot two people who could match the profile she's looking for.

There was this heavy-built, shaved black ork measures over two meters in height. He didn't even try to cover his reinforced armored vest, including neck protection and ball shield. It looked like a high quality patchwork armor. Even a motorcycle helmet was readily strapped to his belt. Weapons-wise he carried a heavy pistol across his chest and a machete next to the helmet. Sylvia did see him pushing other customers away in order to make way for his client. He also gave directions.

Secondly, there was this tall, slim, and leggy man, in a colorful oriental djellaba that covered his body from toes to neck. He seemed to be from the Middle-East or beyond. His eyes and teint were of a light brown, a well groomed beard framed sharp lips and cheekbones. Headware is very likely, given the two illuminated optic cables that ran from under his headdress to his sizable pouch he wore over one shoulder. The cables pulsed with high frequency and shifted from blue to red avery ten seconds or so. His purpose seemed to be to just stick around and estimate prices and values. He also gave directions to other clients.

Sylvia would have to choose - or go on on her own.

Sylvia decides to approach the Ork - she's always felt most comfortable around metas of any variety anyway, and he looks like he can probably cover the bases she doesn't. She hangs next to a wall nearby and waits until it looks like he's got a moment free before she saunters up to him with her hands in her pockets. "Hey, handsome. You do tours around here?" she asks, flashing her best million-yen smile.

The ork raises an eyebrow but the situation seems to be solved and settled immediately. With a harsh and deep voice he answers: "Get you safe in 'n out around here. Charge one hunn'red the hour for scaring scum 'way - and more on top if you manage to piss scum off to draw steel nevertheless! Two-hun'red for every knockout. Deal?"

"Long as you don't go knocking people out just to rack up my tab, sweetie," Sylvia says with a wink to the forthright ork. She goes ahead and hands over a hundred yen to the fellow to cover the first hour. "I need to get down to Sousterrain. You know the way?"

The ork, who goes by the name of Brosco, is not amused to go down to the Sousterrain. As it seems, he knows the place. He starts to negotiate the price up by 50 percent but Sylvia has him in a sweatbox. For 100 nuyen Brosco is willing to lead her down to the Warehouses.

Having stood her ground on the price without losing her smile, Sylvia falls in step with Brosco, surreptitiously feeling in her coat for the hidden pair of shooters she's packing in anticipation that the situation might, at some point, turn sour. "We'll be meeting a friend, if he can make it," she tells the ork as they walk. Once the Sousterrain access comes into sight, she'll pull out her phone and fire off a text to Yin giving the directions she's followed to get there.

Suddenly, Hot Trails (Sousterrain Workshops)

Both make their way further, deeper into the Rez. First, a broad, dark ramp suddenly breaks through the tents, paths, and few buildings that make up this chunk of the Rez marketplace. The ramp crawls forth from the darkness below the souk like a long, lazy dune of black pavement. Some old and rusty tracks are worked into the ramp, but they haven't seen any wheels rolling for some decades. Small fires and lamps illuminate the way down to the area called Souterrain Workshops. Cold winds, fed with a foul and oily stench, push against Sylvia as she starts to walk down the ramp. She only passes a few huddled figures on the concrete walls that frame the ramp on its way down. This adds further to a sense of foreboding. If you are an interested customer on this path down, you are probably a despicable soul. And that's how people look at Sylvia from the corners of their eyes as she passes by.

While upstairs sellers usually advertised their shops, hiding and covering seems to be the paradigm of the Souterrains Workshops. Light is kept to a minimum across the vast stretch of tents and booths which appear to be thrown randomly at this old souterrain train yard or cargo terminal. What little lighting there is, mostly shimmers in orange, red or blue. It's hard to tell, what "workshops" there are. Someone must step closer to the single booths and tents in order to get an idea what is advertised at all. However, a small number of shops seem to be very security-minded. Even from the ramp entrance, Sylvia can spot heavily armed figures, keeping clients and other shops at a spear's or shotgun's length away from their privacy-loving employers.

However, the moment Sylvia leaves the ramp in order to approach the little tent town in the dark, something suddenly beats in her chest! A heavy heartbeat leaves her breathless for a second; a sense of curiosity, surprise, and satisfaction! Her temporary sixth sense seems to alert her to something, whispering in her head: "She is close, May Naru is close!"

Sylvia doesn't look much as though she cares what the people watching her as she passes think - a confident half-smile remains on her face as she walks along with Brosco. When they start to approach the tent town, though, her expression falters for a moment, her steps halting. "Might be looking at earning a bonus here," she warns Brosco as her heart pounds in her ears as she takes her phone out again and fires a quick text to Yin:

« She's here. »

Then, immediately after:

« Somewhere. »

Replacing her phone, she takes in a deep breath and closes her eyes, focusing on the sensation in her head, trying to listen to the voice.

Brosco, her hired guide, seems to sense that something happened, but he probably has no clue what exactly. He murmurs: "This place ain't treating shit lightly. Get your business done and outta here." He sways his head from left to right and glances at Sylvia's phone.

Yin, on the other end of the text messages, answers:

« Copy. I focus on spell! »

Sylvia's expression relaxes a little as she puts her game face back on, the smile and confidence returning, though her posture is more poised as she gives Brosco a nod. The phone goes back in her pocket, her hands hanging at her sides near where her holsters are hidden beneath her clothing. "Gimme fifteen secs to situate," she requests of her ork guide as she focuses on the feeling in her head and scans the area, hoping that the sensation might give any sense of direction, but also looking for any visual sign of May Naru, or evidence of where someone might be kept - as well as any signs or symbols that she might recognize from the data that Bunny sent her. She'll do a quick scan on the thermal setting of her optics as well, in case there are any noteworthy heat signatures, and takes pictures rapidly of each direction, any landmarks worth noting, in case she needs to come back here or send someone else back here later, storing them to her internal camera memory.

Focusing on all her senes - natural, cybernetic, magical - she takes in what she can. The whole undergorund train yard is basically a vast hall with numerous concrete columns and ramps. Her image magnification allows her to get an impression of the general layout. It appears as if the area fans out and widens even further, the deeper you enter the train yard, with many side tracks breaking from the main tracks, running further into the darkness beyond. The tent city, the so called "workshops" start after about 30 meters into the yard. The unique sense for May Naru gives a surprisingly clear idea of direction: May Naru must be somewhere within or behind the tent city. However, maybe it's the limitation of the spell or the impact this tense area has on how magic works here, but the range of the spell is limited. She has to move on and see where it takes her.

Brosco waits for her to gather herself, then he leads the way, stepping ahead in the direction of the vast stretch of tents, scattered across the tracks and decade old concrete floors and ramps. It doesn't take long until a figure emerges from the shadows; it's a male human with a coarse voice, wearing a padded black coat and some AR or Smartgoggles:

"Brosco, how're ya doin'? - I see, no meat for the grinders but customer maybe?" The guy looks Sylvia up and down.

Brosco just nods: "Customer".

"Allrighty then, you know the drills. You're responsible for her." Brosco nods.

The guy with the goggles adds in Slyvia's direction: "I guess you know your way. Welcome to the Sousterrain's." With a mocking bow he retreats into the corner he appeared from, opening up the path into the tents.

Generally, there are numerous people down here. Movement can be seen all across the tent city. Even though it is not as crowded as the souk above, the Sousterrain Workshops seems to quiet alive.

Sylvia keeps an even eye on the human with the black coat that emerges, snapping a picture of his face as well, just in case it might matter later. She gives a slight nod when he addresses her before looking up at Brosco. "So, this is where the magic happens, huh? Lead on, chummer. Got some shopping to do." She turns her eyes into the tent city along the underground, silently shifting through her visual options until she finds the one that feels the most comfortable for the circumstances, and starts to move deeper in.

Brosco seems to dislike this place, but he moves ahead, using his physical presence to announce their coming to any of the huddled and cloaked figures they come across. It appears to Sylvia that his purpose here might really have changed a little bit. He seems to have an eye on the surroundings, right, but also on Sylvia. Maybe she wonders if he gets paid by two clients right now. At least he seems to mean no trouble so far.

One strength of Sylvia are her magnificient and numerous eye modifications. She takes in the details and balances her low-light vision and eyelights so that she can see quiet effortless into most corners. Maybe it's because of such amazing technology that many people between the tents are masked and hooded.

Her way leads her through a winding path of gravel. Smell and sound are intense. Not loud, but spine-crawling; quiet moans, muffled crying, little machines working metal - and bones, chains ringing, several languages from around the globe mixed in all of this.

So far, after about 100 meters, there is no sign of a genie in a bottle. There are almost no signs at all! But the deeper she walks into the tent city, the stronger her supernatural feeling gets. And it tells her, that May Naru is beyond. Somewhere ahead, where the tent city gives away to the darkness of the deeper tunnels. It's still not so clear to pinpoint. But with all her augmentations she spots a single light source in the far distance, maybe 200 meters away from her current position. From time to time she gets a clear sight on the light from between the tents.

Having come so far, Brosco asks her in a low voice: "What are you looking for? You have any sense of where you want to end up here?"

"I'm lookin' for a real particular piece of merch," Sylvia tells Brosco vaguely. "I'll know it when I see it." She shifts her eyes across to the Ork. "I get the feeling you're not real keen on this place. You got friends down here? Or acquaintances, otherwise?" She turns her eyes toward the light. "I think I might wanna end up down there - you know what that light is?" she wonders of her 'tour guide.'

Brosco gives some kind of growling as first response. Then: "Peeps are on edge hear. Undercity touches the Rez. No good place to stay. Place of transition, not fuly here, not fully there; but all are on edge. And no, I have no friends here," which likely is a half-truth at best, or so it appears to Sylvia.

When she brings up the light in the distance, Brosco's eyes widen: "You wanna go for the Waste Bin? What tha dreck, lady??" With one of his thumbs he points over his shoulder in the direction of the light. He stares at her in disbelieve.

It doesn't take Sylvia off-guard when Brosco reacts as he does, or even when he calls what she's interested in 'The Waste Bin.' The pieces slot together quickly. "That's where what's left ends up when the meat's been ground down, right?" Syl assumes aloud, her demeanour remaining casual as her hips cock slightly to one side. "How stingy are they about people picking through the garbage down here? 'Cause I reckon I can find what I'm looking for. Shouldn't cause any trouble if it's yesterday's meat, right?"

Brosco swallowed once, staring at her. Brosco's voice is lower than before, maybe even a little bit stained with a sense of dread: "The Waste Bin is free f'rall. But has ru…rules. I can get you there, but I won't enter that place no way. Do what you want or have to, lady."

"Allright," Brosco sighs and follows her command. While he moves on, he explains in a hushed voice: "The Bin's where they drop tha dead meat. It's there for two things: feed the sickest of minds, and scare everyone who knows the ways here not to fuck the Rez or the Sousterrain - or with the people from the tunnels below. You drop a donation with the goons up ahead, then you're in. No firearms, no recordings. You do what you want. Dead meat goes out prized by kilo. These are the rules."

The Waste Bin

The way leads slightly downwards, following three parallel train tracks away from the main tent grounds of the Sousterrain Workhops. It is almost completely dark here. Only the workshops behind Sylvia and this one single light up ahead mark a possible way across bent metal tracks, wrecks, gravel and maybe some deceased and rotten things too.

The light up ahead comes from a gas lantern. There is a heavy metal door that leads through a massive concrete wall. It seems to be one of the major load-bearing walls for this part of the souterrain train yard. Even though the bolted and reinforced maintenance door is big enough for trolls to stroll through, it looks tiny and lost in front of this massive wall. The gas lantern just creates a faint bubble of light, barely touching the ceiling above. A crude metal sign on the door reads: "Waste Bin - Free to fuck - Free to chop". It's worth noting that this whole corner of the train yard, remote as it is from the "workshops", serves as a dumping ground for almost everything that can't be recycled or refurbished in any possible way.

Three lightly armed men are sitting right next to the metal door and gas lantern, on a stack of several dozens of crates from all sizes and brands. They look haggard and pale, as if they rarely come up this far from the dark tunnels that run further down the hole, seemingly streching into nothingness behind the piles of trash and rubbish that flank the door to the Waste Bin.

Sylvia slows her steps before she's upon the threshold of the 'Waste Bin' proper, silently considering whether this is indeed the direction that the voice in her head is compelling her to go. She doesn't expect to be wrong about it, but a feeling she's trying to suppress hopes that she is. Her eyes scan the signage as she reaches into her coat pocket and pulls out a previously-opened pack of cheap bubblegum, popping a piece in her mouth and starting to chew. It's both a momentary stalling tactic to get her bearings of her internal magic compass and a preparation to help her focus if she goes inside - to settle the stomach and have the smell of artificial cherry in her nostrils to contest what aromas may await.

It might also happen to look sickeningly casual, but that would just be a side effect.

At this point, her sixth sense is mixed with her own foreboding maybe, but ahead is the only direction, sadly. Brosco slows down with her. By the time she pops the gum, Sylvia is probably a bigger source of eeriness to Brosco than the door ahead.

The three men seem to have quiet keen yes in the dark. They call them out and Brosco responds, urging Sylvia to move on. Two men stand up from their crates and face Brosco and Sylvia. These are weird people. Almost like zombies, but with intense eyes. Maybe they are on drugs? They are no ghouls at least. It's obvious though, that Brosco considers them potentially hostile. And the grimace on his face shows disdain.

All three goons carry heavy pistols and light patchwork armor, seemingly built from other pieces of armor, like coats and bullet proof vests, as well as pieces of metal and transplast sheets. Low-grade, but still offering some protection. The pistols are hard to specify. Sylvia would have to stare a bit more obviously, in order to get some details.

"So, big one?", one guy with short black hair and a digital art tattoo on his pale face calls out.

Brosco answers curtly: "One paying visitor." The two turn their attention on Sylvia and Brosco leaves everything else to her from here on.

Sylvia tucks the pack of gum back into her pocket and steps up along with Brosco, approaching with a steady gait as her white boots crunch on the gravel and what other debris might be underfoot. She flits her cyber-eyes between the two who stand to greet the pair, a faint glow behind the green irises illuminating her vision. "What's the price for entry, and price per kilo?" she wants to know, pulling out a small roll of scrip from her pocket - careful not to make it too big of one.

The two pale guys watch her curiously. One steps forward, first ignoring her money talk: "See see see, magic magic magic elf maybe? How comes? How comes?" He steps closer, his intense black eyes definitely appear somehow inhuman, though Sylvia can't put her finger on it. Brosco steps in:

"Hey, do your fucking job dude!"

The pale one with the digital tattoo then does his job. He raises a cyberware scanner and points it directly at Sylvia's head: "Or maybe no magic magic?" There is something unsettling about his playful tone and slow pace of his words.

"I'd rather you didn't," Sylvia says, smiling too politely at the one that's pointing the cyberware scanner at her head as he does so, the scrip in her hand shifting to be held between two fingers as her arms both drop down by her sides, inches away from the hidden quickdraw holsters under her dress. "How much to get in?" she asks again, before blowing a bubble with her gum.

The scanner's displays flash to life and some information flies by, illuminating the guy's tattooed face. He then lowers the scanner again without a comment.

Brosco actually answers her question: "Donate a fifty and you're fine."

The pale goon repeats: "Fifty and you are fine, he says. - And the price of any dead meat taken is negotiated on leeeve." He flashes a smile. It seems like that's all there is at the moment. The two men step back from her and Brosco. The third guy at the crates prepares to enter the door.

The bubble pops and retreats into the elf's mouth.

"Fifty and we're fine," Sylvia repeats, handing over a few notes to the scanner cover the charge before she steps up toward the door. She passes a meaningful look over her shoulder to Brosco. "Shouldn't be long," she tells the Ork, before tucking her scrip away. "Be ready for me."

«Auto-Judge[]» Sylvia (#14269) spends 50 nuyen for "Entry fee at the 'Waste Bin'".

The money is taken, the door opened, and Sylvia's request is answered with a brief nod from Brosco. Then she enters the Waste Bin.

Stepping through the metal door, Sylvia ends up on a narrow metal bridge that spans straight across what once probably was a huge water reservoir; all water is gone though. The floor is about five meters below. The hall is twenty meters long and roughly half as wide. From the narrow metal bridge, Sylvia can see that the old reservoir below has been refurbished into maybe a dozen of crude "stables". Simple brick walls or sometimes even just some sturdy tarps divide the reservoir into a pattern of seperate spaces, each measuring about three meters in all dimensions. There are no roofs on these "stables", so people on the metal bridge can easily peek down.

What there is to see and to hear is outright disturbing. In one of these compartments, a body is hung out like meat in the slaughterhouse by a guy in bloodstained black synthleather. He is enjoying himself. The next one holds a dead and naked body strapped to a rack, probably tortured to death and left alone. A third one holds a grim scene of an ork in a white but stained plastic overall who picks up pieces of flesh and gore from the ground with his garbage tongs. Obviously some kind of cleaner. The body is gone. - Then the fourth stable… that's where Sylvia's sixth sense leads her to without mercy but she doesn't have a clear line of sight from here. - On the metal bridge, right in front of Sylvia, there is one Ork with a shotgun slung over one shoulder. He's obviously a guard. Also, at the far end of the metal bridge, behind the ork, there is one metal staircase leading down to the stables. The door is closed heavily behind her. Pale light comes from neon lights above and some few gas lanterns below.

The ork turns around when Sylvia enters, giving her an appraising look.

Momentarily surprised by the appearance of the Ork in front of her as her optics adjust for the neon light from above, Sylvia gives him a nod of greeting. "Here to buy," she tells the Ork in a business-like tone between chews of her bubblegum, making known her intent to continue along the bridge by stepping forward.

The ork seems not to belong to the three goons outside, not directly at least. He is better equipped, with a heavy armor jacket, and he is not as pale. He might see the sun now and then. He nods at Sylvia, but she can sense that he moves his shotgun from his shoulder as she passes by. He leaves it dangling at his side with one hand.

Walking past the ork, Syl turns her head and sweeps her gaze across the stalls that can be seen below, taking a shot of each with her eye cameraware for future recording, though she takes care not to stare long while doing so - she's not concerned with taking perfect images, anyway. She wants to get a look into stall four from the bridge, if she can, before she moves down to the floor level - better to know what she's in for, if possible.

Further down the bridge, she suddenly realizes that her heart is actually pounding like hell. There is May Naru, the Korean-Vietnamese-Denver-Whatever mix of an Asian woman, about 20 years old. Yin's picture showed her as a a roughed up beauty. That's an euphemism to how she looks right now. In "stables" four, clad with grey tiles, an old fashioned pillory made from scrap metal dangles from the ceiling several meters above, supported by two chains. May Naru's hands and her neck are tightly squeezed into the pillory. She's held just high enough by the pillory so that she can't really step on the ground. Instead, she's forced into a macabre dance on her toes, slipping and trembling in pain. Her body is naked and stains from blood, urin and feces cover most of it. Allthough she still has all her limbs together, scars of violation are obvious. Especially her face shows signs of deep wounds. It seems to be a wonder she's still alive. Heavily she pants and whinces from under her soaked black hair that hangs down as a curtain, covering her breasts in an almost merciful gesture. For anything else, Syl would have to walk the last mile.

Sylvia pauses just for a moment as her heart starts raging in her chest, her eyes focusing on May Naru. She takes a picture, knowing that whoever sent her here probably won't want to see it, then continues walking along, moving at the same pace. She heads down the walkway to the floor, eyes sweeping for anyone else on her way to the stable that she's set as her destination - her pace doesn't give away the intensity of her intent to reach May Naru, but she's direct in her approach.

Sylvia has the impression that there are maybe eight or nine people down here in the stables. Five on display - and still living or in the process of dying - and about three or four 'guests', including the ork in stable three, picking up the remains of its last inhabitant.

May Naru seems to be undisturbed, but from up close it's obviously that this was not always the case for the last hours or maybe days. The stench takes your breath away. From up close, Sylvia can also spot a sign attached to one wall of May's stable, reading:

"Media Bitch - Likes to be on display. Don't wish for the djinni unless you grant them their wishes!"

Sylvia steps up to where May Naru is on display, taking a closer look at the pillory. She gives a glance back over the collar of her coat to check whether the ork above is taking an interest in her actions and what kind of view he would have of stall four - recalling her own view having been obstructed from where the ork had been standing. Looking back to May Naru, she says quietly, "May Naru?" She gives just a moment before adding in English, "Can you speak English?" Then, in Mandarin, "Or is this better?" Unfortunately, Vietnamese and Korean aren't languages she's familiar with, but Mandarin seems the closest bet, given China's dominant presence both between the other two countries of origin and in Denver's Asiantown.

Now that Sylvia is only one meter away from May, her sixth sense ceases to let her heart beat. The strange feeling finally calms down and a sense of relief and joy rushes briefly over her; the shudder takes only two seconds. A morbid contrast, maybe, to what Sylvia might actually feel in face of May Naru's fate.

A glance over her shoulder reveals that the ork's sight on May Naru's stable is partially blocked by the staircase and part of the bridge itself. But Sylvia can't help but feel observed. The guard might have taken an interest in her intentions. He is close to the stairwell but still up on the bridge.

May Naru winces and starts to sob as Sylvia calls her name. She tries to move away from her, which is bound to fail miserably. She trips and starts to suffocate in her pillory.

After some more moments of inspection, Sylvia realizes that May Naru might in fact have lost her eyesight. The blood on her face, throat and chest comes from her eyes.

After considering her options for a brief moment, Sylvia steps up to the winch that's bolted to the wall and starts lowering it, keeping an ear out in case she hears movement from the bridge above.

May Naru immediately slumps to the ground as Sylvia lowers her down. However, this does not stay undetected. It only takes the winch a few inches to alarm the ork above that something's actually happening down there. On the other hand, wasn't there a sign outside: "Free to fuck, free to chop?" So, lowering her down is probably within the limits. But the ork has taken a specific interest in Sylvia's doings now, that's quite sure. He's on his way down the staircase.

Making a quick decision, Sylvia starts to slough off her clothes, starting by shrugging out of her coat. She acts hastily, trying to strip as quickly as possible. Fortunately for her, May Naru seems to be blind and therefore should be spared the display, though she's more concerned about being caught out by the ork with the shotgun.

The coat comes off first, dropped to the floor next to May Naru. Then, off comes her dress over her head, leaving Sylvia down to a tight blue demi-cup brassiere and matching thong underwear. A click and a tug and she's fully indecent save for her cowgirl boots and the twin pistols holstered in easy-access holsters on her upper thighs. Another click and the harness falls to the ground as well. She steps out of the boots, bending over to hopefully no audience behind her as she reaches down for the paired Cerberus pistols in the pile, as she wills the scanners implanted in her ruthenium dermal sheath to activate, hopefully engaging her chameleonic capability in time before the guard can catch her.

With Sylvia right next to May Naru, she seems to realize that something is happening. It's hard to tell if she does realize someone's undressing, but she seems to be more occupied with coughing and getting her weak limbs somehow cooordinated anyway. Her pillory crashed to the floor, which forced her to a muffled cry, but otherwise she seems not to be further harmed as she was before. Generally, she tries to crawl away from Sylvia, the strange sounds, and the clinging boots of an ork on the metal staircase.

Speaking of the ork, he's touching the ground level the moment Sylvia gets ready for whatever plan she's devised! It's not really a surprise situation, though someone certainy will be surprised quiet soon.

It's an awkward turn from the base of the staircase to the stable where May Naru is held. The ork, curious and somehow suspicious as he is, makes two more steps and then comes in sight of Sylvia. Looking at her being completely undressed takes him quite off-guard! He has his shotgun ready in his right hand and simply stares, trying to get a hold at the situation.

Despite being the one literally caught with her pants down, Sylvia is much more comfortable with the situation than the Ork guard. "Frag it," she mutters under her breath. She's committed at this point - both her silenced Cerberi coming up with her as she straightens - and as the Ork is stunned by the sight of her bare backside greeting him, she swings around, both pistols held street-style before lead starts flying at the Ork with a rapid series of muffled shots, the blue-haired, naked elf's jaw tightening with focus.

The ork's eyes widen and he snarls in defiance first, when he observes the Cerberi coming up against him! Seeing this little elf puppet undressed simply can't be taken as a serious threat so he starts to scream in anger and doesn't even consider a full dodge. However, he starts to move and to react, trying to duck and cover as best as he can while he advances for a counter attack!

Sylvia's first shot hit the ork straight to his chest and he growls. The second one also hits him straight in the shoulder and he turns around slightly, giving in to the bullet's kinetic energy. The third shot does miss and hit the stairwell in the background with a hissing metalic sound. The last shot actually hits the ork's shotgun!

In a blink of an eye, Sylvia takes in the overall situation: She hit him twice and he barely stopped his advance - but! he spent a lot of energy, movement and good spirit in order to survive this onlaught. He's definitely in a less advantageous situation than Sylvia. He seems to be wearing a good chunk of armor and most likely he also sports some cyberware. And now, it's his turn…

While advancing towards the next cover in the general direction of Sylvia, he fires two shots from his shotgun. The first one sends concrete and wall tiles flying around, covering May Naru in some dust and debris. The second shot however, seems to be better aimed. Sylvia has to deal with this one. - The cover the ork is moving behind is a brick wall about five meters away from Sylvia.

Only too late does Sylvia realise the mistake she's made in trying to deal with this situation in the manner that she's chosen. The blast from the Ork's shotgun catches her in the side, peppering her exposed skin. The dermal sheath beneath it crackles as blood starts to leak through, though she miraculously manages to stay standing.

The pain is massive and visible on Sylvia's face as she keeps her footing, her pistols following the Ork as the cybernetic display in front of her eyes guides her aim. One eye flinches shut as she continues to fire with abandon, desperately attempting to bring the guard down before he can reach cover once more. She throws herself down to the ground afterward, hitting the deck to try and reduce the size of her own profile and seething at the pain in her side.

Fate is not on her side, the struggling ork, still alarmed by this sudden turn of events, moves steadily towards his cover - and three shots miss him, perforating another tiled wall, hitting the metal beyond. As it seems, not all walls provide solid cover against the shots that get dealed at the moment. The final shot hits him in his side but he stumbles on.

Upon reaching the brick wall, the ork makes a wild turn, hitting the brick wall heavily. While he remains standing behind cover, he fires two shots hastily in Sylvia's direction, shattering more of the crude interior that makes up May Naru's stable. It's unbelievable, that May Naru did not get hurt so far. She struggles to move away from where the gunshots come and succeeds with inching herself into partial cover as well. The ork yells:

"You crazy?! You damn bitch, what's wrong with you!"

In the meanwhile, other people in the Waste Bin have certainly realized that something is odd here! More screams of terror can be heard from behind other stable walls. The cleaner ork two stables away peeks his head out only for a brief moment, then he ducks back into full cover.

The naked elf's body flickers momentarily blue before fading into the carnage of the pit floor, blending into the environment. It's not a truly perfect or seamless chameleonic effect with close examination, but it does make her much more difficult to see - and she holds her pistols ready in case the Ork should pop out of his cover to attack her again.

Finished with the magazine fumbling, the ork braces himself to assess the situation; which means: he turns around, aiming along his cover in Sylvia's assumed direction. That's the moment she has been waiting for, still lying on ground. The ork is in partial cover, so he has exposed a good chunk of his bulky body to her.

The cloaked keeb fires off two shots as the ork pops out from behind his cover, the stifled sound of gunfire ringing out from her pistols.

This nasty son of an ork is a tough nut to crack. It's hard to estimate if the last hit had any effect on him! He readies himself to return the fire, but - "What the hell is this now…?" Alarmed, that there is not even a muzzle flash to be seen - just dirt, dust, and debris - he tries to force Sylvia into cover. He fires his shotgun wildly, only guessing her exact position.

As could be expected, he misses widely, even damaging a set of lights two meters above and behind Synthia. It's a good thing, May Naru crawled into cover! The orc curses and tries to retreat into cover as well… but first, it's Sylvia's turn once more.

As the Ork attempts to retreat back into the full protection of the stall wall, Sylvia's headware syncs up the smartguns in each of her hands, the combined fire functionality of her John Woo chip engaging. The hail of bullets becomes more focused as the pistols align their targeting, sending a potentially deadlier burst at the guard whose otherwise peaceful existence she's trying to ruin.

Suddenly, lead rains in a fury! All shots hit the ork the moment he tries to retreat behind his brick wall. That looks like a solid hit on his center body mass. Armor soaks some of it, but that hurt! Also, growling, the ork staggers backward, pushed out of cover and stumbling over a meat bucket on the floor. For a second it seems like he remains standing, but then he trips with his other foot in a pool of blood. He crashes backwards into his (unoccupied) stable and hits the floor. He is now out of sight from Sylvia.

Suddenly, lead rains in a fury! All shots hit the ork the moment he tries to retreat behind his brick wall. That looks like a solid hit on his center body mass. Armor soaks some of it, but that hurt! Also, growling, the ork staggers backward, pushed out of cover and stumbling over a meat bucket on the floor. For a second it seems like he remains standing, but then he trips with his other foot in a pool of blood. He crashes backwards into his (unoccupied) stable and hits the floor. He is now out of sight from Sylvia.

Forcing herself up to her feet, Sylvia staggers as quickly as she can muster to the corner between the stables after she hears the ork collapsing. She rounds the corner and pops off two more shots at the fallen ork, one with each gun.

One of the shots misses, while the other is lodged in the Ork's armor.

The heavy ork grunts and gets back on his feet, eyes wide and still not really piercing through the veil of Sylvia's active chameleon skin. He fires his weapon once, thereby moving backwards another step. - Over about ten seconds, multiple shots have shattered the place and, given the massive concrete walls, especially the shotgun shots ring in everyone's ears with almost deafening volume. The entry door to the rail yard was massive, but was it massive enough to shield the four people outside from this shooting gallery? Time will tell. Anyway, the ork guard, while he fires at Sylvia, decides to call for help:


The ork is clearly demoralized. Sylvia can see how his eyes move wildly, trying to get a lock on Sylvia. He threw all he got into this hasty shot, hoping for a sweeping relief - but it never came. The shot hits the wall of an opposite stable behind Sylvia's cover. The ork starts to move towards the bstaircase now, changing his pace to an outright sprint.

As the Ork beats his retreat toward the stairs, Sylvia silently switches to the other clips of her guns via the smartlink collection, loading the nonlethal clips in order to try and disable the retreating guard. More muted shots fire, these at least less likely to ring off of the environment.

Hard to tell if the ork even realized that another hail of bullets was sent after him! The gel ammunition hits staircase and brick walls quietly. The ork reaches the staircase and starts his climb. He takes one opportunity to shoot at Sylvia once more; again, rather blindly.

The guard is about on his half way up to the metal bridge so far.

Sylvia's guns track along the Ork's route, following the indicators given in her retinal display to try and lead the target. The pain in her side is still enough to make the focus a difficult exercise, especially for the relatively inexperienced elf - but luck seems to at least somewhat in attendance, as some of the shots find the mark.

The second gel salvo hits trhe ork on his way upstairs - straight into the back of his armored jacket. All four shots combined push him hard against the railing, he exhales heavily, falters, and then he topples over the railing and hits the ground hard, 3 meters below. His shotgun falls right next to his outstretched hands. But his eyes are shut. Sylvia has cut him down, finally.

The ork's plummet off of the rail causes Sylvia to shudder. Adrenalin is still pounding through her; she only takes a moment to consider whether the Ork is still alive before turning back to check May Naru's status. She moves quickly to start freeing her from whatever she might still be trapped in.

"May Naru, can you put these clothes on? We're leaving," she asks the Asian woman in English, trying to make her tone a calming one. She needs to hide the body and get May Naru dressed; she's hoping she can coax the other woman into helping herself to economize time.

Thanks to some merciful powers, no one else in this torture chamber seems to be eager to mess with anyone! Quickly, Sylvia succeeds in freeing the shaken May Naru: "Who are you?! STAY AWAY!", she squeaks in panic. But she's too weak to resist. The moment the pillory falls to the ground is the moment Sylvia hears a single, clear gunshot from above. Outside, most likely, where Brosco is supposed to be waiting. What might be her priority now? Getting May Naru dressed, or getting up to Brosco, who might be in a fight as well?

While Sylvia still ponders her options, a long moaning breaks the relative silence. Her special ork friend returns from temporary unconsciousness, lifting himself up in a painful pushup. He shakes his head, "dreck…what…", and then picks up his shotgun again.

Realising that the Ork is getting back to his feet, Sylvia silently curses to herself and rises back up, moving quickly and ignoring the bitter sensation in her side. She moves to push the silenced muzzle toward the Ork's head, still essentially invisible. "Next one won't be gel. Let's negotiate," she demands, trying to sound as cold and business-like as she can manage.

With deep resignation, the ork gasps and raises his shotgun above his head with one arm, followed by his second one: "What the dreck do you want, damn it!?" Again, Sylvia hears another shot or two from above. The ork also seems to have heard something; he adds: "This is a dead end for you, … unwise…"

Sylvia uses the hand not pointing her Cerberus at the Ork to switch her microtransceiver to broadcast, hoping that Yin can hear the other end of the line. "My backup is coming. This girl's leaving," Sylvia tells the Ork, getting her voice low. "You're coming with us till I don't need you. We get out of here, you get to keep breathing. Start by quietly emptying your clip and telling everyone to get chill."

Sylvia's earpiece stays silent as a grave. Either Yin can't answer or he didn't get the message - or the batteries are low. But the ork has no idea about any transmission issues. He starts to unload his remaining three shots from his Defiance and throws the shotgun away. He seems to comply. But what about May Naru now? She is still undressed and obviously needs someone to lead her around. Her eye inhuries seem to be serious. Its all too clear that she can't see shit.

The ork, as he tries to stand up carefully: "Noone leaves the Bin alive. You won't get out of the Sousterrain."

Getting Out With May Naru

"Help her put that dress, coat and boots on," Sylvia instructs the Ork, keeping the weapon pressed against his head. "Then you're going to help me take her out of here. There an exit other than through the front?"

The ork guard shakes his head and starts to move towards May Naru, his head jerked aside from the barrel against his temple: "Only the bridge…," then at May: "Here, you piece of shit, put that on. That's boots, and acoat, here…" he throws it at her, then lowers down and puts the pieces in her hand. While he more or less lends a helping hand, the squeaking sound of the metal door fills the room.

"Let's use nice words," Sylvia says in a brighter, ironic tone as she keeps her weapon pointed at the guard. She glances up toward the bridge as she hears the door start to open. "Tell 'em it's taken care of," she demands in a hushed voice of the ork. "Everything's chill."

The metal door opens slowly, about two feet, then a figure slumps through the opening onto the ground. It's one of these creepy undercity inhabitants from the checkpoint outside the Waste Bin. The one with the digi-pattern tattoos on his face. Lying on the floor of the metal bridge, he leans over the edge, trying to get a grip on the situation. He laughs: "Oh man, oh man… this sucks. There will be suffering…" He seems to be seriously wounded, but his face is almost bright and gleeful. This doesn't work in favor for his sanity.

The ork guard in front of Sylvia looks up as well, taking in the grotesque situation. He hesitates. A bit longer. Then: "I've got it settled. I take her upstairs now. Will be with you in a few."

In the meantime, May Naru has put on Sylvia's boots and her coat, but not the fancy dress she wore underneath. She stands up on shaky legs, stabilizing herself at the stain-covered tiled wall.

"Ask him what happened up there," Sylvia whispers into the Ork's ear, pressing up closer behind him to minimize the chance of being seen by the wounded undercity dweller up above. She doesn't dare try to help May Naru any further at the moment, with the injured creep up on the bridge and her hand preoccupied holding her gun on the guard.

"What's go'ng…" the ork breaks out in a coughing, "go…going on upstairs?" The creep rolls on his back, staring against the ceiling:

"One heard a shot. Two raised suspicions - against a fourth, while the third left to get the heavy hitters. But the two then turned suspicion into accusation and the fourth broke one of the two. Only me left now. - Oh man, … there will be suffering…"

As May Naru gets on her feet with a little help of the ork, she suddenly gets a hold of Sylvia's arm, shoulder, or wounded side; whatever she's able to catch in her situation. She whispers with dried lips from beneath er sticky, black hair: "Not through the Sousterrain camp… the other way, down the tunnel to the undercity… there's and old emergency shaft in the dark… not far."

Sylvia flinches as May Naru grabs onto her wounded side, barely managing to keep her gun pressed against the Ork's back. "Get your gun," Sylvia instructs the Ork. "Load one shell. Then nice and casual, up the stairs. Make him think you're coming to help him. When I push this hard," she says, pushing the silencer into the Ork's skin harshly, "show him some mercy."

Maybe it comes as a surprise, but the ork nods, picks up his shotgun with a wince of pain, and loads one shell; he murmurs: "Good thinking…"

The unlikely trio starts to move upstairs and onto the bridge. The creep is still lying on his back, holding one hand on his stomach, the other one has a tight grip on his gun.

"Isn't that three people moving, pal?"

That's when the ork passes by and casually executes the creep with a point blank to his head. His skull explodes. May Naru flinches and tightens her grip on Sylvia - she still needs someone to at least give her some support to walk.

The ork walks ahead through the door - and over another undercity dweller on the ground. The gas lantern lies on the ground. A figure, Brosco, crashed into the crates, his pistol still in his hand. He doesn't move.

Sylvia's guard seems to recognize him: "Brosco," he notes with a mix of surprise and indifference. "One… ugh.. one is missing. It won't take them long to get the militia organized…" He points with his shotgun in the direction of the tent city. There is already some trouble brewing, with more lights and people shuffling around, maybe organizing.

May Naru doesn't care for the lights, for obvious reasons. She rather tugs Sylvia down into the train tunnel to the other direction: "This way,…" Sylvia can see that the tunnel down into the undercity is pitch black to normal sight. There not a single beacon gleaming in the distance. But there is also no movement, as her eyelights allow her to discern. At the tent city, she clearly identifies armed men and women, about ten. They don't seem to belong to some merchant or shop owner. The word 'militia' springs to her mind again. Sylvia's group has about two or three minutes headstart.

"Wiz," Sylvia says of the ork's compliance in execution of the underdweller, but invisibly, she turns her head away from the carnage for a brief moment. She grimaces unseen as she sees that Brosco appears to have met his end. "Back down the stairs, hustle," Sylvia demands. "Grab the rest of my clothes." As they walk, assuming he cooperates, she'll add, "You're the only living witness who's seen my face. That means your choices are taking your chances with us, or getting cuffed, staying here and lying about who did this. Either way, I'm only sparing you because you've cooperated so far and you got nothing to gain by not doing so further at this point."

Sylvia's plans come to fruition only partially. "I'm coming with you, she seems to know an exit…, also, I'm gonna lay low in Orktown, leaving this shit behind me." But then, he objects: "Your clothes?! Dreck to them! They're already sporting forks and torches to come down on us, can't you see?" He points at the tent city.

"Eh, frag it," Sylvia decides as the Ork refuses to cooperate with her request to grab her clothes. "Get moving." She's left a couple of holsters and underwear behind, but the rest of her gear is in her coat, and the dress - whether it's carried by May Naru or back on the floor - isn't a huge deal, and probably ought to be burned after being on the floor in here anyway.

A sigh of relief comes from the ork and the whole group starts to move. Following May Naru's quite precise description, Sylvia has no issue to lead the group into the darkness. Her eyesight allows them to advance as quickly as possible with May Naru in tow. After about two hundred meters of gravel, tracks, and patches of weird underground moss, an unhinged fire door marks the access to an old evacuation shaft. A rusty metal ladder shoots straight upwards for ten meters and soon the trio emerges from the Sousterrain Workshops through an old anchorage made of concrete. The place is overgrown with brushes and dead, brownish grass. Nearby, ruins of old buildings can be seen in the dark. And only fifty meters away, the Rez shoreline stretches in the moonlight.

Back on the surface, the tranceivers work again! And as it seems, connection has been lost since Sylvia had entered the tent city. Yin, who got nervous and suspicious that something went wrong, dropped his spell at some point, and cast it again; but this time with Sylvia as its target. Thus, Yin finds a quick and direct way to meet Sylvia again.

When he arrives, the ork is already gone. He had left without much trouble or bad blood, and without making a big scene about it. What Yin finds, then, is a freezing and wounded Sylvia with May Naru next to her.

Sylvia appears when Yin arrives - she had been waiting invisible and huddled in the grass next to May Naru, her guns shaking in her quivering hands. She's been talking to May Naru, trying to help reassure her that she'll be okay, and trying to put her psychology degree to some good use for once. As the detective approaches, though, she turns off the receptors from her shoulders up, maintaining decency on some level by hiding her nudity and her injury behind the cloaking. There's blood in the grass, though, leaving evidence that she's more hurt than she's willing to let on, and her face is pale from blood loss.

"This is May Naru," she tells Yin, though the detective will surely recognize the girl anyway. "She's probably gonna need some new cyber-eyes - and some other treatment, probably. Doc'd be good for both of us, actually."

When Yin left the damaged road along the Rez shoreline, he was not quite prepared for the sight he had to behold: "By all Kami's mercy! What happened to her - to you!?" Wearing an armored long coat himself, he pulls it off and hands it over to Sylvia, and he becomes aware of her unique cyber modification. Quickly, he speaks to May Naru:

"Miss Naru, I am Yin Li, we've been looking for you. You are safe now, we will get you out of here, I promise."

Yin then turns his attention back to Sylvia. It seems as if time is a crucial factor in the cold, wxposed to the Warren's harsh weather and environment.

"Syl, you seem to be seriously wounded, here's blood all over the place… and you're looking really worn down? Do you need medical attention? I might help you. Because, seriously, we've to get out of here, quickly and with some determination."

Yin waits for her response, offering what seems to be an embrace; maybe in order to warm her, thank her, or for some other purpose?

"You should see the other f-fraggers," Sylvia deflects Yin's concern at first through chattering teeth, pulling herself into the coat for the moment but holding it in an awkward fashion, trying to get warmth from the garment without letting herself leak on it. "I really made a s-shitshow out of that one." Somehow, she actually sounds strangely pleased with herself, rather than apologetic. Perhaps it's the blood loss; she even manages to crack a half-smile.

When Yin points out that she's seriously wounded, she shrugs the coat away slightly. "Sorry, I'm not tryin' to bleed on your coat. I - I probably need some medical attention, yeah." She flinches a little as he moves to embrace her, but allows it; her skin starts to 'form' from the air as tiny panels of ruthenium coating are released from the scanner. The injury in her side becomes visible as the rest of her skin does; the sheath will probably need sealant and repair, on top of more immediate concerns such as bleeding all over Yin's clothes.

"I should geeked that ork, too," she says with a slightly distant tone and look in her eyes.

Yin doesn't fully understand every word she says, but Yin does focus his mind on the inner sensation of thankfulness, warmth, friendship and healing, sharing his relief he feels right now, about Sylvia's and May Naru's survival. He tries to deliver this inner focus to Sylvia, building a bridge between both. A bridge, which Yin travels on his search for pain, weakness, and injuries. While he tries to weave healing magic into the embrace, he whispers into her ear: "You risked too much! I am so very grateful you fond her, but never had I believed or requested to wrestle her free on your own. I'm sorry that we lost contact. I didn't mean to put you at such a risk."

The embrace takes about 30 seconds, but then, when he steps back, she should feel a significant decrease in pain on her side, replaced by warmth.

The relief of the pain comes as a welcome sensation to Sylvia. "That's the stuff…" Her eyes roll back before fluttering shut as she reaches down and gingerly touches her finger against the side. It's still not fully healed, but it's more like a nasty scratch than a deadly injury. "Better than Bliss. God, maybe I oughtta get myself blasted more often, if that's the upshot," she groans as she wraps the coat more tightly around herself as feeling starts to return to her body. "It was your mojo that showed me to her. Figured I might as well keep goin'. It was smooth, till I tried switchin' the carrot for the stick."

Suffering from a dizziness - a faint leftover from what Sylvia just felt a minute ago - Yin rubbs his temples and takes a deep breath. But he smiles at her description of the feeling: "Please don't shoot yourself! But I must admit, it's probably healthier than a shot of Bliss, in the long run." A light-hearted joke, at least that's what he tries.

Curiously, he hesitates to embrace May Naru in the same way like he did with Sylvia, probably wary of her general condition or any hidden and unseen things that might be affecting her body or mind right now: "So, let's go. It's about half of a mile of a cold walk, but then we'll have a pickup that gets us to Asiantown." To Sylvia he explains: "I'll bring her to the hospital in China Midtown." And then, with another turn of his head to May, with a serious undertone: "Hopefully, after all this months, Miss Naru might be willing to shed some long sought after light on the case that brought us here in the first place."

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