Log Title: Partners in Anti-Crime
Summary: Hanne gets saddled(?) with a private investigator partner to look into the death of the clone of Ariana Longbow.
IC Date: Feb 6, 2381
OOC Date: Feb 8, 2019
Related Logs: Fatale



The scene at the Panama Rose was secured very quickly - too quickly considering the crime happened on the Ground. It's a totally different story, though, when a meth or the appearance of a meth is involved. Someone took Hanne's statement, then she got sent home for the night. It may be a surprise to find she's assigned to the task force, (yes, task force) when she comes into work the next day.

There is someone who stands out quite a bit in the sea of street clothes and uniforms. Royal is in a suit, for one. It's a very stylish suit, for two. It's a black asymmetric jacket, tailored so precisely that it had to be made especially for him using body scans. He's bent over a projection screen. Her projection screen (or more appropriately, her sister's). Details of the case are displayed on the scene. He's worrying his lip as he sips from a paper cup of coffee (not from the breakroom, but rather, from a chain that doesn't exist below the mid-uppers.)

* * *

When Hanne gets assigned to the case, she can be pretty confident of at least one thing: the unprintable-name who woke her up probably had something to do with it. Especially for something like this. A meth's sleeve? Hanne's confident that the meth herself probably wasn't in there — and it's almost a shame — but just having that kind of access must be making the other meths shit their pants.

Which means this operation is going to be closely watched. Which means Hanne is going to be closely watched, which sucks for someone who's faking their way through it all.

It's a nice suit on the guy who's using her stuff. Hanne, as a detective, is dressed neatly in bargain slacks and an untailored dress shirt because cops aren't fashion plates and don't have the money to become them. This guy… probably isn't a meth, though. The way he's dressed suggests he's from pretty high up, and the coffee cup confirms it, but he probably couldn't have her killed outright just for standing too near.

"I'd say 'can I help you', but it looks like you're capable of helping yourself." Her voice is dry, but just this side of polite.

* * *

It takes a second for Royal to register he's being spoken to. He turns over, then quirks a grin at her. "You must be Detective Remington. It seems you've drawn the short straw. I'm Dante Taylor," he offers his hand. "I'm a private investigator, here on behalf of the Longbow family. I'm to be your shadow, and assist in the investigation in any way I can. Have you seen the medical examination of the body?"

He points to the screen, then enlarges the image of the woman who is the spitting image of Ariana Longbow. "It's a clone, but an imperfect one. And an older one, too. It was grown from a genetic sample from about ten years ago. Cloning tech is constantly improving, and Ariana's clones are pulled from a sample of her original birth sleeve, with some…" he rolls a wrist, "…enhancements, of course. So your lab was able to suss out that this sleeve was created from a clone DNA sample and not the original. Sorry, am I talking too much? I've been told I talk to much and am not particularly good at letting people get a word in edgewise." All his words are clipped with a particular high class British accent that sounds particularly archaic since his native tongue is essentially an extinct form of English as opposed to the Amanglic that most everyone in Bay City speaks with.

* * *

Listening to Dante Taylor talk makes Hanne feel… vaguely hungover. In other words, her eyes burn and her head starts aching. After a feww extra seconds, she gives his hand a professional shake because she knows she's not supposed to knee him in the groin.

"Interesting," she says. "Also interesting is how you're logged into my system with all this? I realize and accept that as the Longbow family's representative you have some privileges, but I wasn't aware they included accessing police records without permission."

Still, the reality of the situation is what it is. She lets out an irritated breath through her nose, uncrosses the arms that went across her chest when she snarked at him, then puts her hands on her hips as she steps in to look over the projection. "That does leave questions. Who was on the stack? How much is left after… whatever that purple foam was? And how do we track down who made the clone, and why? Governor Longbow has, you could say, a few critics who'd love to see her humiliated."

* * *

"Oh, I just showed my credentials to a very helpful young beat cop. He cleared it with your captain, and here I am," Royal smiles brightly.

Word has murmured around the station of some ponce who is playing PI. He's not a meth, but he is rich, and seems to have the occasional bodyguard butting in. It makes sense the meths would hire someone like him to breathe down the necks of cops. Which would explain why there's all sorts of looks shot their way. 'Some royal from the old empire,' is the rumour, and by that they mean the much-reduced in power and status of the Kingdom of Great Britain. An archaic relic of a bygone era.

"I'm sorry, have I overstepped? I didn't mean to. I just wanted to get a jump on the case."

* * *

And now he looks like a very well dressed puppy who realizes it probably shouldn't have widdled on the floor. Hanne takes a deep breath and shakes her head. "Yeah," she says, "but it's nothing I can't deal with. Just… next time, let me know before you dive on in. Detective Hanne Remington."

She looks at the projection once more, then back at him. "So. Longbow family detective. Who are Governor Longbow's enemies that have the access to do something like this?"

* * *

"Oh, it's not a matter of enemies, detective. It's a matter of gall. Meths don't lack for enemies in general. Other meths, people they've wronged, their own family in many cases." Royal flips through the images on the screen. "But hating someone and engaging in an elaborate stunt designed to…I don't know, discredit? That's an entirely different matter. And that's leaving aside the fact that Ariana Longbow just oversaw a rather heavy-handed extinguishing of a rebellion." He shrugs.

"I can try and relay questions to the family, by the way. But none but distant cousins currently live on Earth, so there will be a delay. And I doubt your department has the budget to needlecast you to Three Moon to do the questioning in person."

* * *

"Probably not." Instead they'll probably solicit some detective there, with all the loyalty issues that entails. Or they'll do the really irritating thing: they'll stare at Hanne and say 'make it work'.

For a moment, Hanne debates how she should handle this guy and eventually comes out on the side of trying to actually do a dececnt job. "Yeah, I get the sense this is more to do with her more recent behavior. So… if someone had a ten year old DNA sample of one of her clones, where would they even get that? Presumably a clone from ten years ago, or some part of one. But I feel like we're looking for a reasonably well-funded opposition group, maybe even associated to the failed rebellion."

* * *

"Clones are extremely expensive. It's possible they gathered the sample ten years ago when one of her clones was killed and just couldn't do anything with it until now. Usually, meths retrieve sleeve dead bodies, but it isn't always possible. And Ariana is a known adventurer. I know of at least four sleeves she's lost free climbing." Royal's face lights up and he snaps.

Despite the finger wagging he got for using the console, he sits down and starts typing furiously. Suddenly, there's four different windows up. He pulls a calculator over, and motions to a star map. "Guess how long it takes an unmanned cargo ship to get from Three Moon to Earth."

* * *

"Well, if she couldn't get it back, how likely is it that someone else could? 'Sufficiently a pain in the ass for a meth not to do it' is usually just the long way to say 'impossible.'" Hanne starts to ask when the last time was that Longbow was on Earth when —

"…You know, I'm going to take a wild stab and say ten years, or thereabouts. Now that's some long-term planning, if that's what happened. I should be able to get a list of the last five or so slow boats to Earth from Three Moon. There can't be THAT many."

* * *

"What about the stack, though? I mean, clearly not Longbow. But did you happen to read that file while you were surfing my workspace?"

* * *

"Eight point six-five years, to be precise. Which brings up all sorts of interesting implications. Like how long the rebellion on Three Moon was planned for before they made their move, and whether or not they expected they would fail. Ah…last mining ship from Three Moon with unobtanium arrived a year and one month ago. Psychasec also keeps a limited store of her clones, but it's been thirty years since she last needlecasted back here, And that sleeve didn't die. It was returned to storage after she needlecasted back."

Despite the fact that Royal is ostensibly here for the Longbow family, he does seem to be digging in the direction of their dirt rather than acting as their agent. So that's something. "The stack is currently missing. Carnage, the Synth proprietor of the Panama Rose, said he gave it to his staff to try and save before the Aubergine - that's the substance that was activated that ate through her stack - could completely destroy it. Your Captain Tanaka said they're putting a lot of pressure on him to return it."

* * *

"The pressure might be better placed on his sleeve tech," Hanne muses. "Since they'll be the last people to have hands on it. Sounds like I'll be making some personal visits." Hanne clicks her tongue against the back of her teeth and shakes her head. "I'll leave analyzing the politics to you, if you don't mind. But that certainly does suggest that the rebels on Three Moon have Earth connections."

She reaches up to rub the bridge of her nose and sighs. She really, really feels like a drink right now, and it's not even noon. "What else have you got?"

* * *

"Carnage does't want to be mixed up in all of this. He's already going to be scrambling. Having a meth in the ring is bad for business." Royal tippy-taps on the keyboard and brings up a vid feed from the witness briefings. There's a lot of them. He locates and selects Carnage's, then hits play.

"Look, I saw her audition fight. She was the same build, the same outfit. Mask off. That was not her sleeve. She showed up the night of the fight, late and already in full kit," says Carnage.

"And you didn't DNA scan her?" says a voice off-camera.

"No, I didn't scan her. The Panama Rose is not a high-security operation in the back end. The fence between the fighters and the crowd means that even if the fighters went nuts and went for the VIPs, they couldn't get through." The implication being the only security Carnage cares about is his high-roller guests. "The only time we DNA scan the fighters is when they're scanning their contracts."

Even with exaggerated Synth features, Carnage looks stressed and pissed off.

* * *

Same build. Same outfit. "Not random," Hanne murmurs. "I feel like Carnage is probably pretty good at judging someone's relative physique. So I kind of doubt this is a case of someone coshing the legit fighter and replacing her. She was in on this. This… wasn't her first time there, either, was it? She'd been through a few fights."

She starts scrubbing back through the footage, cocking her head to one side. "Aubergine," she mutters. "You know, that effect kind of reminds me of. Like. Stories about zealots who would take some kind of slow-acting poison before a suicide mission. Or taking a cyanide pill. Fighting like she was, maybe she planned to die."

* * *

"Oh I guarantee it was a suicide mission. No one gets an Aubergine implant if they plan on wearing a few sleeves before they slip quietly into storage," says Royal. "I've heard of it. It's not common on Earth, but they give it to spies and insurgents in the colonies. No better way to make sure you don't succumb to VR torture at the hands of your enemies if you honeycomb your stack into oblivion." He shivers at the thought of that kind of real death.

He picks up his coffee and sips from it, then leans over her shoulder to examine the image of Carnage. "Skip forward to time index 36:42."

Presuming she does as asked, the video of Carnage plays, "…not her first time. She was pushing to get on a broadcast bout, but her previous bouts had all been live events. It was too much story to communicate to a 'cast audience, so it wasn't gonna work from a narrative perspective."

* * *

"You've got to be some kind of true believer for that shit," Hanna mutters. She's not sure she's ever believed in anything that strongly.

She skips ahead, only gritting her teeth a little. For all that Dante is a nosy pain in the ass… well, he has the virtue of being a somewhat useful one. Observing the interview, she nods once. "That's what I thought. So maybe a sleeper, or just someone building up a plausible rep. She wanted a broadcast bout. I think she wanted everyone to see this. Did footage make its way out?"

She knows it did. She was recording it. The question is how far out the footage made it, and when. Hanne's brow furrows again and she looks at Royal. "You're weirdly good at this. You knew down to the minute and second in a long damn interview where to find what I was looking for."

* * *

"Yes well, I'm rather…smart," Royal clears his throat. "At least that's what the tests say. Good memory, too. No neurachem or augments. The King wouldn't allow it. New Queen's not too keen on it either." Metaphor? Hard to say.

"It was smart to try and pull this on a Lottery night. A regular exclusive bout, well, you've got an audience full of the rich and well-heeled. They're the sorts of people who could be convinced to keep this quiet. Lottery night, though? That's a mixed crowd."

* * *

Hanne peers. Cocks her head. Gives Dante a long look. Her eyebrows lift after a few seconds, but rather than bow or scrape or look awed or confused, she just snorts in amusement.

"Huh," she says. And leaves that where it is.

"You're right," she adds. "Lottery Night's almost as good as broadcasting it. Potentially a little better, since people are always more eager to share when they've seen something they're pretty sure they shouldn't have and they're definite almost no one else has. 'I was watching at the bar' doesn't quite have the same cachet as 'I was there and saw it myself'. Even without footage, the story's going to spread. That's good publicity for people who aren't meth fans, particularly people who aren't fans of Ariana Longbow."

She hesitates. "Don't… suppose you know anything about that rebellion she put down. She had a good rep on Earth before all that. People thought she was one of the 'good ones'."

* * *

"Plus, Lottery Night has the quality of rumour, which spreads and exaggerates. And if you're looking for maximum rumour mill payoff, secondhand is better than broadcast. People tend to exaggerate when they're retelling something. And ah, belatedly, I don't know how far the footage has spread. That's with your technical forensics team." Royal points to a status indicator on the display.

Whether she ONI scans or back-door searches his name now or later, who he is and why the meth family hired him comes into more focus. He's a member of the GPPI all right, but only rank 1. He's only been in the game a few months. Officially, he's attached to the Kingdom of Great Britain's embassy as a diplomat, which means immunity. Which…leaves several gray areas considering he's in law enforcement in an official capacity. Someone had to do some creative paperwork to make that possible. He's an honest-to-god Duke, though monarchies are seen as quaint relics rather than something to fawn over - which is why his file actually has 'Royal' listed as an official alias. Being royal is sort of the opposite of being a meth. You lose everything if you resleeve or modify your birth sleeve too much. But still, the meths like to rub elbows with old monarchies to give themselves legitimacy and a touch with the old world.

* * *

She uses the back-door search, and she uses it while she's looking at him. It's reflexive for her, particularly when someone's piquing her curiosity.

Her only verbal response to Dante's breakdown of the power of rumors is "Exactly." She does, however, also reach out to the status indicator to seek out the answer to that question.

* * *

The display lights up under Hanne's fingerprint. Dante didn't have the access to that file, which is why it remained locked. Up pops a map of the country with several sub-windows indicating viral reach. It's surprisingly low, given the explosive content.

He leans again, invading her personal space a little unintentionally. "Now this is interesting. Do you see what I do in these patterns?" He waves to a vague network of connections that it doesn't seem possible that anyone would make sense of.

* * *

Hanne looks at Dante. Looks back at the screen. Squints, hunting down any kind of obvious pattern in the —


A beat. "Unless it's a complete lack of pattern. I mean, almost as if it's being curated or kept quiet. Or like it's starting from a bunch of different points." Which is probably wrong, but she has the feeling Dante will be sure to tell her if she is. In a purely gentlemanlike manner, too.

* * *

"Well I'm not especially astute at networks, but the funny thing about the human mind. There's commonalities to structures across all manners of systems. Trade routes and information in virtual aren't that dissimilar." That's a leap, but Royal sounds pretty sure.

He places fingers on a few nodes. They light up. "These spots here…control nodes. Someone is filtering the content. Perhaps entering the exact parameters of the video file's metadata, thus flagging it as spam or inappropriate content and narrowing its reach. But the further technicalities well…" he clucks his tongue. "I'd suggest getting a hacker to look at this."

* * *

She was… actually kind of right. Or at least, not completely wrong. "I know a few," Hanne muses.

"So. We have a stack to find, a cargo ship to track down, we need a hacker to take a look at this network to see who might be controlling the message and how. Anything I'm missing? I feel like I'm missing something."

* * *

"And about thirty-five hours of witness testimony to comb through. Oh, and locate who shot and uploaded the video. They may be involved somehow. Perhaps part of the propaganda these people are trying to push out. Oh, and," Royal snaps, "…try to track down what cloning facility might have been used to create the clone. Not many places can do it on the ground, and not many on the ground could ever access the facilities higher up."

* * *

"That's the one I was thinking of," Hanne murmurs. "The cloning facility. Okay. So what's YOUR plan? Apart from discussing this with me. Do I get to send you on little expeditions? Which brings me to maybe the obvious question: I understand the Longbows sent you here, but I gotta know: what do you get out of this? You clearly don't need to work. Why slum it down here with the rest of us when you can be living the sweet life in the clouds?"

* * *

"I'm not a meth, detective. They might find me a curiosity, but even I can't dwell among the clouds in the Aerie." Royal grins a bit, but it's slightly tight - like this is a question he's been asked before. "It's an intellectual challenge. I've always loved a good puzzle. I spent my academic career dissecting the mysteries of history, when all the while there were real live mysteries right in front of me that other academics haven't spent decades with their grubby little fingers all over." He waves his hand in a vague gesture.

Then, "As to the nature of our relationship? My only directive was to assist the BCPD in solving the mystery of how Ariana's clone ended up in the Panama Rose, and to keep them apprised of the investigation. Which means I am at your disposal, with as much authority as the GPPI and your good selves can bestow upon me." He flashes a grin.

* * *

"All right, sweetcheeks. Suits me. I've always wanted an assistant."

Hanne leans back, sliding her hands into her back pockets. More of a Nyda gesture than a Hanne one, but she's more focused on how she can use this to her advantage. "I'd like you on tracking down the cloning facility and going through the cargo ships from Three Moon. Somehow I get the feeling you're good at finding those little details that might get past normal people. I'll get on finding a hacker and tracking down the stack." A pause. "…And whoever filmed the bout. But I have the feeling that might just have been some sap. Anyone sincerely involved in this op would have kept as far away from the main event as possible."

* * *

"I disagree," says Royal. "Having someone there recording the bout and distributing it through back channels would be the next best thing to a broadcast bout. Certainly risky to whomever snuck a camera in. Carnage doesn't take lightly to that in general. The place is wired for sound though. We should be able to determine where the culprit was sitting from analyzing the camera angles in the video against the angles from the security cameras in the Rose itself."

But as for the other items, "As you wish. But you know, I'd prefer 'patner' to assistant." There's a note of ego in his voice. Dukes aren't generally anyone's assistant.

* * *

"Partner." Hanne muses on that. She suspects that her sister would have had more ego about this than she does. "Sure. Partner will do."

To the rest: "Good point," she admits. "I'll take a look at it. And just for politeness's sake…"

Hanne blinks while her ONI pulls up appropriate forms of address. Evidently, his social equals should call him Duke. His social inferiors should call him Your Grace.

"For politeness's sake, Duke, what do you want to be called? Royal? Dante? Taylor? Cumberland?" As if Cumberland were a surname and not the name of his dukedom.

* * *

A chuckle and a headshake. "Look, I'm not going to stand on ceremony, and it'd be a bit strange for you to go around calling me Your Grace in front of witnesses. So, Royal is fine. It's what the GPPI calls me," he straightens his jacket. He doesn't like the nickname much, but it's actually a decent middle-ground between the too-familiar given name and the too-formal title. "And if you go around calling me Duke, people will just assume that is my first name. And I hardly look like someone named Duke," he smooths his fingers down the edges of his lapels.

* * *

"Royal it is," Hanne replies with a little shrug. My partner, Royal. Royal, my partner. This is all too goddamn weird for words.

"Okay. Then keep in touch, Royal. And next time you need something I have access to and you don't… let me know, okay? Instead of diving in and grabbing it yourself?"

She gives him a nod, and before she turns to get a cup of coffee and something for her headache, she adds: "Pleasure doing b — pleasure working with you. Looking forward to, uh, collaborating."

Having done an impressive job of sounding a bit like an idiot, she heads off.

* * *

"No promises, detective!" Royal calls after with a grin, "I'm rather known for diving in and grabbing on."