This week’s session focussed on the cell’s efforts to locate Damon Brandt on Atlantica. As a result it felt a lot more low-key than the previous session, though this was exacerbated by the arrival of summer’s heat and the general level of player (and GM) tiredness.
With hindsight I wish I had taken a leaf out of modern crime dramas and implemented a ‘B’ plot to keep people busy while the investigation specialists plied their trade. That said the cell achieved good progress in the mission despite the still, damp heat of the room. It was definitely quite a quiet session for some of the players though and ideally I would have sped up the investigation a bit or given the others more to work on to keep them engaged for more of the session’s runtime.
Az-Tec made contact with Elaine Marius, the true identity of the ne0-dolphin Flossie whom he met last week, and attempted to negotiate some useful information from her. We got to see one of the drawbacks of using a specialised identity here; the identity he was using had plenty of reputation with Civic-Net (hypercorporations) and Guanxi (criminals) but absolutely none with the Circle-A (autonomists, extropians, anarchists). This made him look like a career criminal when Elaine polled his reputation; not someone she would wish to trust with the security of the habitat.
In order to bypass this Az-Tec chose to claim the identity of Blondie, an extremely well-known and highly-reputed individual on the Circle-A network. He could do this pretty easily because Blondie was, at that time, running a fork of Az-Tec as his Muse. He did it without Blondie’s permission but was forced to come clean pretty quickly when Elaine Marius sent a package of information directly to Blondie.
Meanwhile Blaine spent some time swimming around the habitat surveying the sea floor to try and find potential locations for the Exsurgents to grow the Dagon strain of the virus, adding the data gathered to the comprehensive VR model being maintained by Jason.
Harry took some time to investigate underwater caverns but didn’t discover much except for stumbling upon two sperm whales being intimate with each other in the privacy of a large cave. He went from this pursuit to some literal hunting, chasing tuna with his smart-sharks and feeding both himself and his animals with the meat he caught. I described how this experience granted him an atavistic sense of animal pleasure, hinting that perhaps the morph’s instincts might be having an effect on his psychology. He used the hunting as a test of his smart sharks and his control over them, commanding them to catch a tuna and then release it to him rather than eating it themselves.
I realised around here that it was going to be almost impossible for Brandt to successfully hide from the cell. Once they had intelligence about the morph he was wearing tracking him would be easy; his modus operandi requires him to meet and greet potential future pawns within the social elite of the target habitat. Nonetheless the information I had delivered to Blondie by Elaine Marius was a dossier on Brandt’s current morph.
Sure enough the group located Brandt a mere 7 minutes later. They saw on public sousveillance spimes that he was meeting with some of the great and good of Atlantica to discuss the future of the habitat and that of Pacifica, an ambitious project to create an even larger oceanic habitat.
The group talked for a while and formed a plan. Harry would fork and sleeve the fork into a Sylph morph. Using their extensive knowledge of xeno-archaelogist Carmen Santorini the group would help him to fake her identity, allowing him to avoid the possibility of being recognised as Harry from Victoriana.
They commenced the plan and I enjoyed the brief scene where Harry visited a neo-dolphin resleeving facility to extract his ego and send it to a server provided by Jason. Even something as commonplace as this is a little more visually interesting to imagine when it’s a killer whale on the slab.
Blaine went to a morph boutique (much more upscale than a brokerage) to hire an appropriate Sylph morph. The attendant scorned him and treated him most rudely; what else could he expect when he went to such an elite vendor wearing a synthmorph?
While he waited for his new morph to arrive Harry used Jason’s simulation (as an infomorph) to walk through the habitat to Brandt’s current location. Using publicly available cameras he watched in real-time to see what the Exsurgent was up to and to get a handle on his behaviours and mannerisms.
Jason arranged for the mermaid Sylph morph to be delivered to a hotel suite and then for the hire of an Ego Bridge. Again I enjoyed the imagery; a plastic-wrapped humanoid morph in a medichine-laced ‘body bag’ being delivered quite matter-of-factly to the hotel room and then the Ego Bridge being set up by a simple servitor shell. Harry chose to fork into the new morph, leaving himself running virtually in Jason’s simulation of the habitat at the same time.
If you’re counting, this was fork number three of Harry on Atlantica. Well, four… but we’ll come back to the fourth in a moment.
With people starting to flag a bit at this point we decided to wrap things up about half an hour early. To be honest this felt like quite a natural point to end for the night anyway.
Harry was on his way in the mermorph to meet with Brandt in the guise of Carmen Santorini.
Az-Tec was lurking in his lurker morph outside the arcology where Harry and Brandt would meet, preparing to intercept any mesh queries checking Harry’s identity to ensure that they would be able to successfully fake Santorini’s.
Blondie and Blaine also chose to lurk nearby in their robotic octopus Takko morphs, ready to spring into action should there be an opportunity to capture Brandt.
Jason continued his surveillance operation and prepared to inject any necessary AR illusions to help the others in the commission of their mission…
… and meanwhile used another fork with severe emotional restrictions to psychotorture Harry’s fourth fork to gain a complete psychological profile of him. In 2.8 hours of compressed simulspace time an entire week of subjective time passed for the two. It was a gruelling interrogation apt to strain the sanity of your average ego. Harry ultimately triumphed however. He resisted the interrogation and instead persuaded the emotionally stunted torturer to desist.
Alas, this was only a temporary reprieve…