The Spy Who Loved Me
|The Spy Who Loved Me|
|Part of When You Reach Me|
|An initiation run for Shine and Zenith|
During the events of his last several initiations, Zenith has found out that his mother, the runner known as Stiletto, is still alive and seems to have some interest in Zenith's daughter Harriot, be that kidnapping, influence or something else. Due to this threat, Shine has moved in with Zenith to protect the girl and the two have grown close. Over the last several weeks, they have been preparing to throw a grand party for Harriot's 16th birthday, including renting out E-Vue from Alexander-James Brodrick Johnson III, and ensuring that the security was up to par.
Zenith, having gone to get a cake from one of the prominent bakers in Downtown, comes home to find that there is a Stiletto knife attached to a knife in his door. On the note is the familiar phrase "Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt". However on the other side of the paper is his mother's handwriting telling him to meet her at the old place. Assuming that she means the childhood home in Redmond Barrens that he currently uses as a safehouse, Zenith attempts to send a DNI message to Shine, who is bathing upstairs. Since she is not wearing her trodes, she does not receive the message, causing Zenith to panic and burst into the bathroom. There is an awkward exchange between the two adepts before Zenith tells Shine that he's going to go to his safehouse to meet with his mother, and lets her know to be on guard for the potential that this is a trap to lure him out of the house.
As he makes his way to Redmond, Shine checks over the house, making sure that it hasn't been bugged. She also brings in Freya to watch Zenith's comms, while she calls Vip3r to watch the Matrix around the Tacoma house. Vip3r discovers that Stiletto showed up at the house, using a faceless system or disguise and stabbing a knife into the door. Shine also notices a GMC Universe outside labeled The People's Plumbing. While suspicious of this, it is quickly supplanted by worry at the fact that Stiletto's Mirage seems to have been parked in the Stuffer Shack parking lot where Shine is keeping her Growler as an emergency escape route in case the house was compromised.
Shine also gets Vip3r to check outside her apartment, and another GMC Universe, this one labelled Positive Voltage, though after searching through the Matrix and seeing that it appears to be a legitimate business, decides to just stay on watch for any strange things.
Zenith speaks with an Air Spirit, but it doesn't have any information, and so he just enters his safehouse and finds his mother working at the console that he had originally found during the events of Barren Flowers. Stiletto informs Zenith that one of her associates was contracted by the Count and Countess O'Cathalàin to be a bondservant, a ritual pawn in a game between Noble elves. Assuming this means that Scarlet was caught in this stupid game and that his mother is somehow involved him, Zenith takes the information and tells Stiletto to get out of the safehouse. She obliges and Zenith calls Freya to give her access to the console to see what was accessed. She helps him copy the files to his commlink and allows him to find that there's an encrypted file. Freya attempts to open the file but can't do it, and so Zenith lets her get back to her other hacking and leaves the safehouse, making sure he's not bugged before heading back home.
Arriving back at the Tacoma house, Zenith and Shine catch up on the situation, and while Zenith goes to shower, Shine invites Vip3r over to take a look at the files that Zenith has, as well as to act as Matrix support for the party. The runners discuss what to do next before Harriot and Gabriella Davis come back from their shopping trip watched over by Gabriella's bodyguard Isaac. Zenith gives Harriot a CK Analyst cyberdeck that he picked up after a job, along with some programs and a mas bracelet given to him by Delphi. Shine had given Harriot an outfit for the party earlier. Right before leaving, Zenith calls Ca1yps0 and checks in with her, learning that Harriot is reverberant, possibly an indication that she has latent virtual kinetic abilities. Zenith thanks her for the information and the team decide that it is time to go to E-Vue.
On the way over, the team believe they are being followed because they see a flying eye. Vip3r sends a Resonance Spike at the drone, only to later find out that it was Isaac's drone used to keep an eye on the girls.
Arriving at E-Vue, the team enter after greeting Vee-Jay, who for once is not being presented with criminals who are skipping the line, though isn't thrilled about being paid the normal rate. Once inside the club, Harriot and Gabriella go to the dance floor to party with their friends, while Vip3r attempts to get Admin access to E-Vue's security system, but is rebuffed by a sprite. Vip3r attempts to call Alexander-James Brodrick Johnson III, however he is not given admin access to the electronic security for obvious reasons. Vip3r attempts to contact Cecelia Cross but she is unable to reach her because of her recent media blitz.
Vip3r, Shine and Zenith have conversations about the last few months, and about what to do moving forward. Zenith is dedicated to trying to find some more information about his wife. Though Shine and Vip3r try to convince him not to rush off to Portland on his own, and that they will work on it together to get him the answers that he wants. Zenith makes a thoughtless comment about joygirls that makes Shine self-conscious. Vip3r leaves the table to go outside, and Zenith asks her to search the cars for bugs. Vip3r goes outside and searches the cars when Brodie J appears in front of her, telling her that he's just there to check out the party, and going back inside, but supervised by the technomancer to make sure he doesn't hit on any of the teenagers down below.
Zenith and Shine continue talking, eventually leading to Zenith getting Shine to dance in a reversal of roles. Towards the end of the dance he gets a call from Countess Eileen O'Cathalàin, his mother-in-law and Harriot's grandmother. Stepping outside he converses with the woman, it's clear they don't like one another, the tension about the fact that he hasn't given Harriot's contact information to her, as well as the invitation to have Harriot live with them is enough to press on the adept's nerves. But he still calls over Harriot to talk with her grandparent before letting her get back to the party.
Zenith returns to the club and takes Shine's hand, bringing her onto the floor for another dance, happy and secure in the fact that no one took a chance to stage a kidnapping during her birthday, the runners load up in their cars and begin the drive back to Tacoma.
While Shine drives Harriot and Gabriella back to the house, Zenith and Vip3r break speed laws and get back to the house early. The runners find that the house's maglocks are open, and Zenith contacts Shine, who starts the detour to her home in Bellevue. Harriot is concerned and messages Zenith if everything is alright. He does his best to reassure her, and lets her know that he's not going to let anything happen. Zenith goes to the backyard and finds the back door also unlocked. Making his way up to the second floor using gymnastic skill, Zenith unlocks one of the windows and starts to clear his house. Once it's been ensured to be clear and swept for bugs once more, Zenith messages Shine the all clear, and they start to return to Tacoma as Zenith enters Harriot's room and finds a stuffed bear on her bed.
The bear triggers the memory that it was the same one that Harriot had lost when his house had been ransacked and Scarlet had been kidnapped eleven years ago. He checked the bear, ensuring it wasn't trapped, before pulling the string on the back, however instead of the standard voice, it is Scarlet, singing a somber song that comes through the bear's speakers and breaking down the emotional barriers that Zenith has brought up.
Shine comes back and checks on the house, making sure that it's clear before letting the girls come in. She finds Zenith on the floor, holding the bear, and he demonstrates it's song for her. He comments that this family drama has to end, and Shine reiterates that it's probably just another attempt to manipulate him into doing something foolish. Shine gets Harriot and Gabriella back into the house, and Vip3r is invited to sleep in the guest room as the night of Harriot's 16th birthday ends.
The next morning, Zenith is gone from the house, along with his duffel bag filled with his runner gear. There is a hastily-written note that explains that he's gone to the Tir to find the answers he wants. Finding this note, along with the bear from her mother, shocks Harriot enough to fully Emerge the teenager into a technomancer.
For Zenith and Shine:
- 10% initiation discount
- Empathetic Listener
- 20 CDP
Zenith: "Yeah, well, you weren't too concerned about your kid."
Shine: "Yeah, uh, it's kinda hard to forget -- Y'know what? That also sounded patronizing, I'm gonna quit while I'm ahead."
Zenith: "You do that."
Zenith: What's that? Sorry, I couldn't hear you over the sound of my hammer being pulled back.
Vip3r: Well, maybe you just need to get your hearing aids checked.
Shine: "I don't, ah, think that means what you think it means."
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
Holy Frag where to start?
So birthday parties aren't new to me. I guess I've put on twelve now, though this is the first one where I wasn't also worried about paying rent if I did something nice for Harriot. Having the others around was nice too I guess. It made it much less of a pain in the ass when I had to go out to the Barrens in the middle of the day to check out a possible lead. I don't know if we were just being paranoid or if we let our guard down something bad was gonna happen, but the fact that everything was fine is a relief. Though coming back to that fraggin' bear was just too much.
I'm writing this on the way to the Tir, and I've gotta start cutting the wireless so we don't get spotted. I hope Harriot understands, if not now, then some day. I can't let Scarlet stay missing any longer.
That could have been worse. It could have been a lot worse. I've been preparing for this day for over a month, suspecting that someone would try to take Harriot on her birthday, since these things often happen on dates of significance. I bought her an armoured cocktail dress, taught her how to ride a motorbike in case we're separated, taught her to shoot, bought her Smiling Panther and chem-detection nail varnish, showed her how to use them both, and I even found a way to put stealth RFID tags on Harriot and Gabriella.
And aside from the fragged-up message from Zenith's criminally insane biological mother, everything went well. Right up until the bear.
But Gabriella had the night of her life, and that's something to be make me smile.
Now if only I didn't have this feeling of dread that the other shoe is about to drop? Is it just anxiety, or adept intuition warning me of some other danger? Regardless of the cause, I need to speak to Zenith in the morning. His home has been compromised, his safe-house also, and we need to move to an alternative location. I think my apartment will do for now. Until we find something better.
Thank the Gods Zenith and Harriot are safe. How would I ever cope were something to happen to them? Tomorrow, I need to tell him how I feel. Will it stop him from chasing a ghost if I tell him I love him? Please, Gods, let it be so. This mad quest will kill him.