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2034-02-26 1000LT Spearfishing

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Event: 2034-02-26 1000LT Spearfishing

Scenario: The Time Before

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Characters Locations
Rebecca Blackburn, Dexter Lee, Shauna Singh, Dale Young Luna Alpha

Umbra

The Office

Aspects
Caused By Cause Of
On This Day

A melodious tone drew Rebecca’s attention to her left. Shauna’s AR projection was standing two metres away, seamlessly integrated into the environment at Umbra. She was panicking while she waited for Rebecca to answer. Rebecca could understand that: Shauna appeared to be covered in blood.

“Have to take this, Dex,” Rebecca said. She called up a local privacy field to prevent eavesdropping, then answered the call. “What happened?”

Professor El’s been murdered!” Shauna was about as agitated as Rebecca had ever seen her. “She came in through the back door with a metal spike in her chest bleeding everywhere and I called Doc who got there super fast but she was already in shock from loss of blood and—”

Rebecca leapt in while Shauna drew a huge, shuddering breath. “Have you called the Guard and Security?” Shauna started to sob once her lungs were full, so Rebecca dropped the privacy field and said, “Dex, gotta run.” She hurried out without waiting for a response. She hopped on a bike and pedalled hard.

“I called you first,” her friend said, sagging down. Shauna was holding it together, but barely.

“Stay on this line. Call them now.” Rebecca’s AR had handled the transition from a static environment to riding a bike gracefully. Shauna had faded out for a moment, then reappeared as a translucent hologram floating a few metres away. Rebecca could see through her easily, keep her eyes on the road, and ride at the same time. Her AR took the added precaution of highlighting any potential obstacles in flashing neon red. She watched as her business associate, confidant, and dear friend blubbered her way through calling what passed for cops in Luna Alpha. As she watched she subvocalized, °°Mycroft, tell me about all murders on Luna Alpha.°°

°°Murders?°° Mycroft’s cultured British accent was warm honey, even when he sounded surprised. °°There have been several suspicious deaths, three lynchings, and four suicides. We have not…°° Mycroft paused – a first in Rebecca’s experience – before continuing. °°You could have reported this yourself, Rebecca. Shauna is in no shape–°°

Rebecca cut him off while negotiating a roundabout. °°Nope. She needs to be doing, not feeling.°°

°°You do have a point,°° Mycroft said calmly. Then his 'Ye-Olde-Englandish' avatar manifested in front of her with a riding crop in hand and actually yelled, °°Ride, woman!°°

This was a huge surprise for Rebecca. She hadn’t realized the colony AI could even take that tone, and the costume was completely out of character. The command worked though, seemingly reaching her legs and lungs before it completely registered with her brain.

°°You have fifty three seconds to be there before you’re not allowed in the building,°° Mycroft shouted. He cracked the crop against the handlebars. °°Move!°°

She found herself pounding past other cyclists in a flat-out sprint to the office. She arrived forty one seconds later, but had no time to park the bike and make her way up. Fuck yeah, Lunar G, she thought as she aimed her bike at the angled ramp formed by the transition from road to verdant berm. She launched herself as the bike surged up, flinging her upward. She just cleared the three storey exterior wall of the compound – °Thank God!° – and hit the rooftop deck at almost forty kilometres per hour. She wasn’t particularly strong, but she’d had enough training from stunt doubles to know how to roll. She was still a bit stunned when she came to a stop in a trail of devastation. The herb garden was a disaster, the patio furniture was everywhere, and she was pretty sure she looked like she’d just won the latest Fast and Furious franchise flick.

She heard the whining wail of incoming helicraft as she struggled to get her bruised body upright.

°°Six,°° Mycroft said. °°Five. Four…°°

She hauled herself up, launched herself at the stairs, and was inside the building at ‘two’. She was in her office looking at a bloody corpse and holding a bloody, sobbing, snotty Shauna in a tight hug when the Royal Guard and Boeing Security arrived.

“Thanks Mycroft,” she said, still panting for breath.

°°I live to serve,°° he said. He half manifested for a moment, just enough to show her a hazy, lazy bow. Then the security folk and guards arrived, and he splintered into a dozen images, each in sharp focus.

Rebecca pulled back from Shauna a bit when she saw this. It was unusual to see Mycroft interacting with anyone else: he preferred one-on-one interactions. °°Em, why can I see this,°° she asked.

Mycroft whispered in her ear. °°You are caught up in something awful.°°

She shuddered. Mycroft was showing a disturbing affinity to horror movie tropes, and she did not like it at all.

°°You are a keystone species in the Luna Alpha environment,°° he continued. °°We all need you to continue to serve your purpose for the overall health of the ecosystem. Your presence here before the guards and security reduced a significant risk to your work.°°

She was just forming the question, °Keystone species?° when her AR whispered °loss collapses ecosystem° in her ear. The idea that she was that important to the colony was a shock that queued up for attention later.

“Office, get us tea, coffee, and bourbon,” Rebecca said. She started to lead Shauna to a plush sofa near the door. One of the Royal Guards was in her path. They were intimidating in their massive armour, modelled on gorgeous fifteenth century plate, but she was having none of it. The guard stepped politely out of her way, and moved to the door to keep an eye on things.

Dale Young was more than comfortable in his armour: it was his second skin. The interior was a top-line AR suit, passing sensations from the exterior armour straight in to his skin. It made him faster, stronger, tougher, and more aware of his surroundings. He even liked the look. When he saw Rebecca almost carrying Shauna toward the door his first instinct was to stop them, but he saw that the women were not going anywhere. He stepped aside smartly, and took in the scene. °°Lieutenant, first impressions?°° Dr. Alyonia Durmaz was his commanding officer, a medic, and very good about her Colour Sergeant taking initiative and offering advice. She was discussing the victim with Doc, the physician on-site at the Office.

°°The victim pretty much bled out in the elevator,°° she said. A red glow surrounded a bolt of metal on the floor not far from the dead woman. °°That’s the murder weapon.°° It was partly under Rebecca’s desk.

°°Thanks.°° Dale continued to face Rebecca and Shauna, but used his armour’s advanced sensors to inspect the metal rod. The shaft was 72cm long and showed a grain pattern indicating 3D printing. The arrowhead was a broad heart shape with a monofilament edge. The fletching was some sort of plastic, but he couldn’t tell what kind without physically examining it. He couldn’t see if it has notched for a string or not.

He turned his attention back to the women. Shauna was a built like a gymnast – small, muscular, and graceful. He wouldn’t have guessed that she was such an ugly crier. Snot bubbles, hiccoughing gasps, blotchy skin… It was impressive, really. So was the way she drank a tumbler of bourbon in one go. Dale approached them, turning his faceplate transparent as he did.

“Should I call you ‘Dale’ or ‘Sergeant’?” Rebecca asked. Her face was thunderous, but her voice was calm. Shauna closed her eyes, sagged into her boss’s side, and took a shuddering breath.

“Colours or Colour Sergeant, Ma’am,” Dale said, nodding up to indicate the scene behind him. “On duty.” He casually shifted his broadsword out of the way as he went down on one knee to avoid towering over them. “What happened?”

Rebecca recounted the last few minutes, from getting Shauna’s call to her arrival just before the guards.

“We’ll need the recordings from in here,” he said. He could see that the alcohol was hitting Shauna and figured there was a limited window to get a statement. “Shauna, can you tell me what happened?”

Shauna took a hot towel from the waiting butler-bot – really a semi-autonomous roving fridge, mini-bar, and microwave. She scrubbed her face and blew her nose. The gurgling of her emptying sinuses was protracted enough to be a bit disturbing. Finally, she dropped the towel back on the bot, took a deep breath, and said, “I was going down to the Member’s entrance to meet El. She was always right on time.” She took another breath. “When the door opened she collapsed on top of me. We fell into the elevator, which started up on it’s own. We were up here by the time I realized she’d been shot. I called Doc to help, and got us out of the elevator. Doc took us in here. I called the boss, then you guys.”

“Why call Rebecca first?” Dale asked.

She looked perplexed, then shrugged. “I don’t know?”

Dale nodded. “Can you show me where you found her?” Shauna looked at Rebecca, who was already nodding. She was a little unsteady when they stood. “I’ll take point,” Dale said. “Guide me, please.”

Shauna said, “Office, open the elevator please.”

Dale stepped out into the hall, avoiding the blood trail, in time to see the wall slide open. The interior of the elevator was sodden with blood. He stepped back, knowing that they weren’t going to step onto that part of the crime scene. “Office, keep the elevator up here and closed as part of the crime scene until a Guard says different.” He drew some interdiction zones in the air, then tapped the AR icon indicating this was an order with the authority of the Duchess. The Office complied. He turned to Rebecca and gestured to the balcony. “Alternate route.” As he opened the door, he said, °°Lieutenant, I’m taking these two down to secure the attack site. Jones, Baloosingh, with me. I’ll take point. Help them down and keep them whole.°° Dale leaped over the rail lightly, and landed on the grass. He didn’t bother with the jet pack for a mere three story fall. He nodded to Lee and Chan, two more Corporals outside, riding herd on the Boeing Security people securing the building.

Corporals Jones and Baloosingh offered a hand to each woman, helping them up. Rebecca took Lee’s hand. He helped her up. She realized she was a little flustered, not just by the murder, but by being respectfully attended to by literal Knights in Shining Armour. She idly wondered who the costume designer was, and what awards they’d won.

“Ma’am, if you’ll come with me,” Lee said. “Step on to the heel spurs, and use the hand grips, please.” He flashed her a picture showing how to ride on the back of Royal Guard Armour. “Your hands and feet will be secured while we are in the air. We wouldn’t want me to land on you by mistake.”

Rebecca was a little uncertain, but didn’t see other options. I did launch myself over a three story building ten minutes ago, she thought. What the hell. Lee turned his back. She stepped on.

“Thank you, Ma’am.” He stepped out on the balcony. Shimmering, translucent wings, five metres each, unfurled from his arms. They were tear-drop shaped sheets of iridescent gossamer, and complemented the rest of the armour beautifully. Lee flexed and gave a small jump while pulling down his arms. They lifted off over the railing smoothly, and began to float down.

“The door we want is over…” Rebecca tried to point to the left, but her hand was stuck in the recessed grip on the shoulder of the armour. Before she could continue, Lee shifted their glide in that direction. “How…?”

“The armour is a second skin, Ma’am,” he said. She could hear the smile. “I can dial up the sensitivity enough to feel things my own fingers couldn’t. I felt the tug.”

Rebecca wanted to say something classy and pithy, but “Wow,” was all that came to mind.

Dale watched them land lightly. The wings were impressive to watch, but he preferred the straight line power of the thrusters. And it made him look like Iron Man. He had already instructed Office to direct him to the elevator shaft. There was no other way down to the secret ‘Member’s Entrance’ Shauna had mentioned. Once the Corporals were down, he went in. °°Office, open the elevator doors.°° His armour picked up his mental state, and went on alert. The capacitors for the variable velocity coil guns in his armour charged to full capacity in three seconds. He loaded non-lethal tranquilizer darts on his left, and armour piercing explosive rounds on the right. Anything in between would meet a broadsword with a monofilament edge.

The sonic landscape in his armour shifted. The notes that told him where the others were ingrained into his situational awareness. When Jones and Ramsing’s notes turned into chords he knew where they were, how they were moving, and that their armour had gone on alert, mirroring his.

He stepped into the elevator shaft. The ionic thrusters on his calves and forearms fired up once lunar gravity had him moving at two metres per second, and kept him at that speed. He didn’t want to engage the large thruster on the chest and torso of his armour: it was noisy and a power hog.

He landed lightly. °°Office, anything on the other side?°°

°°There is no ‘other side’ to this elevator,°° Office said.

Dale frowned. If that was true, he saw three possibilities: someone had messed with the AI, the corridor was collapsed, or Shauna and Rebecca were liars. He figured the first option was most likely. He set himself in a combat stance, ready to move in any direction – including up – and said, °°Open it.°°

The doors slid open soundlessly. The corridor ahead looked like it had been modelled on part of Buckingham Palace. It exuded class. There were murals on the ceiling, four metres above. The blonde hardwood floor complemented the high walls, somewhere between burgundy and red. Enormous paintings hung from chains, angled toward the floor. He noticed that all the scenes appeared to involve some version of Aphrodite, Bacchus, or both, and that the colour of the walls did a remarkably good job hiding the arterial spray to the left of the open door. The congealing pool of blood on the floor didn’t match the wood very well at all.

The hall was empty, according to his eyes and all his sensors. °°All clear for first section,°° he said. °°Jones, come down. Baloosingh, rearguard.°°

°°Aye, Colour.°°

He started down the corridor while Baloosingh jumped down. He went quickly, covering the fifty metres in a thruster-assisted rush. He wasn’t worried about being noticed at this point. His armour was specifically designed to be noticed, after all.

He caught himself on the frame of the large door at the far end of the hall, handling the 5G deceleration with practiced ease. He pulled open he door and stepped through as Baloosingh caught up with him. They were in a small antechamber, beside what appeared to be a regular track for the Pill network. He scanned the area, searching for anything anomalous, but there was nothing.

“Stand guard,” Dale said. “I’ll go back for the witnesses.” It was short work to bring the women down while Jones watched their six, but Shauna was starting to show the effects of the large glass of bourbon.

“I was here,” she said, “when the doors opened and she fell on me.” She stumbled back a step. Rebecca caught her easily.

“Is there anything out of place or damaged?” Dale asked.

Rebecca looked around for a long moment. “Only the blood,” she said.

Dale nodded. “I’ll take you back up,” he said. “Corporals Baloosingh and Jones will keep this area secure.” He thought about what he had seen while he carried the women back up to the main floor of the compound. He’d seen a lot of broken bodies over the years. °°Lieutenant, based on what I’m seeing here, El was shot from behind at close range using an improvised crossbow or compressed air spear-gun. The bolt may be traceable by the printer signature.°°

°°Thanks, Young,°° Lt. Durmaz said. °°Now get yourself back to base and recharged to escort the Duchess.°°

°°Back to base, check,°° he said. °°Escort, check.°°

Less than a minute later, he was in the air, thrusters on full, rocketing across the biodome to Peary Palace in the West Tower.


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