Log Title: Down in the Dumplings
Summary: Violet and Winter review what they know and discuss a current event.
IC Date: Tue Mar 19 19:24, 2381
OOC Date: Tue Mar 19 19:24, 2019
Related Logs: Strung Up
violetwinter

 

 

"…I'm going to get the answers I need whether they want me to or not."

* * *

The call came at just about the crack of dawn, far earlier than anyone had the right to be making a phone call. Clearly, the person making the call to one Winter Tau did not seemed to care about the time of day, or the rudeness of the call. At least the ONI put a name to the number. It was Violet. "Winter, can you come to my shop? I have dumplings." And who doesn't love dumplings, no matter the time of day.

* * *

Noooo, whaaaat? Whyyyy? Actually, it's not that big of a deal. Despite it being the crack of dawn, Winter is up. Well, in a manner of speaking. Winter is in VR, currently in the shape of a tall man with dark skin and brown hair, fine-tuning a peaceful space that looks like it's intended for meditation, or maybe just certain types of psychosurgery sessions. They have their ONI set up to alert them in VR, and they glance at the time as there's a chime and then Violet's voice comes across. Smiling faintly, they shift back into the form of their current sleeve before asking, "Why do you keep getting dumplings if you don't even like them?"

* * *

"Because you like them." Violet's voice, even for a synth, sounded tired, lacking even that little bit of emotion she usually made an effort to press into it. "I got you an extra spicy sauce too." So it was bribery, then. "And there might be a fortune cookie in the bottom. But you only get that if you can make it here as quietly and as safely as possible."

* * *

"Gosh," Winter muses, canting their head, "this is getting interesting. Secrecy? Danger? Spicy dumplings? Sure, I'll be right over. Everything all right?"

* * *

"No." But it was clear that Violet was not about to say anything else over the ONI. Nothing was sacred, when there were those around the globe that could hack into fairly well anything they wanted. "I'll see you soon. Come around the back. I'll send you the access code when you get closer." And then Violet cut off. The back, as it turned out, was singularly unpleasant. It was a small door that was situated right next to a dumpster of unknown origin. The door, though, accepted the code that Winter would have seen pop up on their ONI once they had gotten about half a block down from the door. The room itself was not pitch black, but the lighting was certainly subdued, as was the doctor sitting on the edge of one of her work tables. She hadn't even bothered to 'dye' her hair and looked as close to bog standard for the model she had been given as she could get.

* * *

Winter arrives about fifteen minutes after the ONI communication ended, stepping past a dumpster (eew) and into Dr. Grey's shop. Where it's dark and the good doctor looks sort of haggard… for a synth. They look like one does when they've gotten up and gotten dressed in a hurry with short hair slightly unkempt, in a pair of jeans and a soft flannel shirt on over a black t-shirt. "Hey," they greet once the door has closed. "What's going on?"

* * *

"Someone slagged Carnage's sleeve. Nicked him from his home, and don't ask me where he lives, because I have no idea. Bullet to temple, then strung him up in the middle of the main stage at the Rose. Sparks and I found him…correction, someone made sure we found him." Violet delivered the quick and dirty 'this is why you're here' without a shred of emotion, "Dumplings are on the counter."

* * *

Winter's brows lift and they whistle softly. "So, someone has a death wish, then. Making a spectacle of Carnage's murdered sleeve. I mean… I almost wish I'd seen it." They walk over to the dumplings, because breakfast is the most important meal of the day. "Hang on, where's Carnage now?"

* * *

"That's what I thought as well. Except by the time we found him, he had been dead for hours hanging from his microphone long enough to lose most of his blood volume and for it to be stone cold. Which means they planned ahead and they didn't set off the alarm that got me and Sparks down there until the middle of the night when almost no on was even in the building. They let us know he was there precisely when they wanted us to know. And they also called the cops." As for Carnage, "Last I saw him, he was with the cops. Sparks and I resleeved him before they got there. Probably hating life, since the new sleeve looks like Galen only not as pretty. Also…if anyone asks you, it was just me there. No Sparks."

* * *

Winter fishes out a dumpling and dips an end into the sauce before taking a bite and chewing thoughtfully. "All right," they begin after they swallow, "So. Someone killed Carnage's sleeve, put him up on display, then made sure he was found by you, Galen Sparks and the police. To what end?" A corner of their mouth quirks. "Carnage looking pretty. That, I definitely want to see. Anything else about the body? It was hung on the main stage of the Rose, you said, by a microphone. Very poetic. And he was the only victim? I don't suppose anyone took any pictures before he was cut down?"

* * *

Violet seemed happy enough to stay where she was as Winter headed off to wrangle dumplings. It was quite likely a good thing that Violet couldn't smell or taste for shit, because there might have been a fight. She got them from one of the best places around. "Yes. And Carnage believes it was an inside job. To be able to get in through security and do everything they did without a single person being aware." She did shake her head at the question of any other victims, "They took out a security guard. His sleeve was dying, and I didn't have time to help him. But his stack was intact. Carnage was beside himself when he saw himself. I've rarely seen him that angry at looking like a real boy. Or as close as one can in a synth. I didn't want to risk putting him into meat." Violet tapped her temple, "Video on the ONI. And I have the records from the scan and the resleeving."

* * *

"Can I see them?" Winter asks, polishing off the one dumpling and reaching for another. "What did Carnage remember from the incident? Did he see who attacked him or did they say anything to him before they killed his sleeve?"

* * *

"He remembers being outside of his condo," Violet offered, as she stepped down from the bed. Sometimes, it paid to be tall. "The people who took him were wearing scatter masks. They put a bag over his head and took him somewhere in an aircar. Kicked him down to his knees, and then blew the back of his head out." Violet keyed up a non-networked tablet, handing it over to Winter. It had everything she'd recorded or copied on it. "There's a rumour going arond he got his hands on a clean copy of the Longbow TBT."

* * *

"And he thinks that's why he was targeted?" Winter asks. They lick their fingers clean before taking the tablet and finding a spot to sit down so they can watch the video of the body, the scan and the resleeving. They pause it at one point, zooming in a little on Carnage's dangling corpse. "…They put a damaged stack around his neck?"

* * *

"They did. Before we brought him back, my initial thought was that it was supposed to be a warning to Sparks and I, since he fought the sleeve, and I dug her stack out. Sparks might just have been an accident, but whomever did this had to know Carnage ran interference so that I could get out with the stack, since he had to spend so much time stalling them, and I was clearly not in the building when the police searched it. And he told them as much, or at least he told them something that kept them at bay for the hour we had with it before I had to take it back." Having handed over the tablet and leaving Winter to look it over. "But yeah, he's sure it has to do with the TBT. And that it must have been an inside job."

* * *

"Hmm," Winter muses, considering the image before zooming back out and resuming the video. "Do you still have that stack? Or, does Carnage? There were a number sent around not that long ago. Left on people's doorsteps or places they could easily find them. Damaged, corroded stacks, like a threat, almost."

* * *

"I left the stack on Carnage's dead sleeve. It's one thing to resleeve him so he wasn't at the police's mercy, but another to actually tamper with evidence that might give the police both a reason for why he was taken, because he never mentioned, so far as I know, the TBT to them, and possibly find clues someone else hasn't already. No one much likes the police around here, but their techs aren't incompetent."

* * *

Winter gives a small nod, their expression a little distant. "Okay. So. Let's go over this timeline, because there's a lot that's happened since the Fatale fight that doesn't quite add up to me. There's something missing, something we're not seeing yet."

* * *

Violet nodded, as she settled back onto the edge of the bed. "My own timeline's pretty sparse. The fight, the aubergine or whatever it was, then us bringing her up in VR. After that, I got a stack on my door, and I went to that party where everyone was wearing them. And we got the TBT on podnet. Or was that just before? I haven't heard anything since then, not from the police or anyone. Until tonight."

* * *

Winter gives a small nod for this timeline before going over these points to flesh out what Violet's offered. "First, there was the lottery fight in which Galen Sparks defeated and unmasked Fatale who was revealed to be a clone of Ariana Longbow that immediately killed herself using a substance that looked like Aubergine but had a viral component as well. I know from speaking with a GPPI that calls himself Royal that Fatale was in a different sleeve when Carnage hired her, and she initially wanted the fight with Sparks to be a broadcast fight. Carnage refused, because the whole Fatale story arc wouldn't carry over or make sense in a single, broadcast fight. We also know that a video of the fight was released on Podnet, but didn't make it very far. Someone stopped it from spreading as widely as it would have, otherwise. No one has ben able to identify who made that recording."

* * *

"Someone who knew enough to strip the metadata from the stream before they uploaded it, clearly. So, the fight went up." The viral component though, "You pick that up, the virus after I left?" But she doesn't force the issue. "And then the TBT went out, yeah?" Violet set her hands down on the bed, pushing herself back enough to actually sit and not lean on it.

* * *

Winter nods. "We spun up her DHF that night, and she was terribly corrupted, but able to infect the VR space we were in. She called herself Nineteen Alpha Thirty and at one point seemed to have an accent which may have come from Latimir or Danae's Moon. Probably not Earth. She also had a moment, in her flickering mess of self, that showed a type of PTSD that's been seen in victims of mining accidents. After we left VR and removed her stack, there were viral components left on my server. Not hard to remove but… that shouldn't have been possible. Then, a few days later a TBT could be found on Podnet made at the Hippodrome on Latimir. It was another Ariana Longbow clone doing a striptease before shooting herself point blank in the stack. Right before she does so, she looks in the mirror and mouthes the words 'Nineteen Zeta Thirteen'. All of the versions of the TBT were compressed and loaded with routine viruses because they were on Podnet and shifted through so many different sites, I couldn't trace any back to an original source. Left a hell of a headache if you watched it."

* * *

Violet listened, clearly ticking off key points in her head, waiting until Winter had finished before she continued, "So, the stack was intended to corrupt anyone who tried to engage with it. Which isn't how aubergine works. So either it was a virus made to look like Aubergine, or it was Aubergine but laced with a virus in the hopes that no one would notice, since most people try to get as far away from it as possible. And, it might not have been caught, if you hadn't been experienced enough to spot it. And, so far, the two things those clones have in common, aside from slagging themselves, and their designation type, is that they are both connected to Latimir."

* * *

"Possibly connected to Latimir," Winter agrees. "But the Hippodrome is there, and its high quality TBTs are known pretty much everywhere. If your plan is to send out a TBT on Podnet, compressed and degraded, you're not going to have much of the TBT left unless the original was made at the Hippodrome. So, could be a true connection. Could be a coincidence."

* * *

"Anything about this seems like a coincidence to you? The back of Carnage's blown out head says otherwise. And the fact that he no doubt was planning to try to sell copies of the TBT without any of the degradation that ended up on the copies that were, are, being passed around? So the stacks were next, seemingly sent, as far as I can tell, to anyone who did manage to download or view the TBT."

* * *

Winter nods. "Yes, that seems to be the connection so far as anyone's been able to tell. People who downloaded or viewed the TBT received shattered and corroded stacks. However, police and GPPI who did so… did not. Only laymen were threatened, if it was a threat. One of the stacks was analyzed and found to have residue on it, similar to that of Fatale's stack, though it's not clear yet if it's an identical substance. So far as I know, only the Police have both a significant sample of the chemical Fatale used to kill herself and the chemical from a shattered stack. Then, shortly after the shattered stacks were delivered, an event at Club Charon featured someone called DJ Shatterstack who was in a female sleeve and kept their face covered. People in the crowd were wearing both authentic shattered stacks and molds or models or something made to look like a shattered stack."

* * *

"I don't imagine the police or GPPI would have been the right targets. Whatever else, they have to abide by the rules of their business. They have boundaries they don't or can't cross. A hacker or anyone with enough skill and experience to know how to navigate podnet and how to access the information there isn't generally going to have those regulations in place and that makes them more dangerous." having settled herself, Violet drew up her legs to sit cross-legged in place. "And we saw what happened at the club. It made it seem the going thing, rather than something to be afraid of."

* * *

"I didn't see," Winter replies. "I wasn't there, I only heard second hand. What happened that night?"

* * *

"Nothing while I was there. People came in, everyone with a stack around their necks. The DJ was playing, people were clustering around talking and sharing info. Some kid started going off on how offended he was that people were wearing fakes because apparently, they hadn't done enough to earn the right to have gotten a real one. Then the set ended and the DJ left."

* * *

Winter rubs their hand idly over the back of their neck as they listen. "Okay," they agree. "And then, for a while, everything was quiet. No new clones, no weird stacks, no strange things on Podnet. Well… there's always strange things on Podnet, but you know. And then, yesterday, Carnage was abducted, killed and arranged to be found with a shattered stack around his neck. A custodian's sleeve was killed as well. Moments later, you and Sparks were intentionally alerted hours after Carnage was hung, and the police were called as well." They glance down at the video where Naoko is looking confused and maybe a bit irritated as they explain an anonymous tip off alerted the BCPD to the crime. "Carnage says he thinks this happened because he has a clean, superior version of the TBT, and also that the only way his sleeve could have been arranged in such a manner was if someone working at the Panama Rose was in on it. What happened to the custodian? Who has his DHF?"

* * *

"I left him where he was, and he died by the time we were bringing Carnage back to surgery. The alarms were going off and I needed to clear the building and get to the main stage." A bit ruthless, but there you are. "So I would assume he's with the police. I don't think even Carnage would have been able to talk them out of taking one of his security guards. Hell, I tried to get Sparks to get him out of the place altogether, and Carnage refused. Said he was the victim and he wasn't going to rush off like a criminal."

* * *

"Mmm," Winter muses. "So, whatever the custodian saw, the police will likely learn. Or, at least, get first crack at learning. Assuming he was another victim and not an inside man." They press their palm against their mouth and let it drop with a small shake of their head. "This doesn't make sense."

* * *

"There is only so much I can do to try to cover tracks, in this case, especially when my boss's life was and probably IS still on the line. And anything I could have done to collect more evidence than I actually managed would have made it look as though, to the cops, at least, I was somehow involved." Violet considered Winter, "I don't think this is a case of them wanting to hide what they're doing. I think they're trying to pump up the crowd."

* * *

"I'm not blaming you for anything, I'm just trying to sort where all the pieces are," Winter replies. "Besides I think you were right, when you said we might have to work with the police on this. They have parts of the puzzle, and the only way we're going to get access to them is to play nice. So, you think sending out the shattered stacks, this display with Carnage was theatrics? A means to get more people talking about Fatale, the TBT and now whatever's going to come next?"

* * *

Violet nodded, as Winter posed their the question, "I think that's precisely it. They've upped the ante, making it both more dangerous, and now that the rumour about the TBT has been leaked, even more likely people are going to want to see it. And if they implanted a virus once, I have every reason to think they'll try to do it again, and this time, they'll have twice or more people wanting to see it. If they had simply wanted to make an example of Carnage, or they wanted the footage of what he had to die with him, they would have RDed him. Instead, all they did was slag his sleeve."

* * *

Winter considers, resting a hand on their knee, fingers tapping. "And you said Carnage didn't mention the TBT to the police? So far as you know, it's still in his possession?"

* * *

Violet nodded her head, "As far as I know, he didn't say a word to them about it. And he's not likely too either. I can only imagine that he is pissed that the word that he had it leaked." Violet paused, "Well, no, knowing Carnage, he might think it's the best publicity he's had in a dog's age, even if he is fully intent on repaying whomever did that to him."

* * *

"I think we should maybe find out how he got access to this superior version," Winter suggests, "and see if he'll let us test it, make sure there's nothing dangerous encoded in it, before he starts selling it to favored clientele or whatever he plans to do with it."

* * *

"I can try to get in to see him, if he's not still with the police. See if he'll talk to me about it." Violet unfolded her legs, "I know he's not to everyone's tastes and his business practices are…what they are, but he's been good to me. He trusts me, I like to think, and that means something to me."

* * *

"Hopefully, it'll mean something to Carnage, too." A corner of Winter's mouth quirks. "Galen-esque, pretty-boy Carnage," they can't resist adding. "I mean, that sleeve really does look like it should be fronting for a synth boy band." Thank you, video record.

* * *

Violet managed a smirk, the conversation or perhaps the company seeming to have perked her up a bit, "I told Sparks to get me the highest grade synth he could, and apparently, that was the going model. 'What the fuck sleeve did you put me in, Grey?' I believe were his words. I thought I was doing him a solid by not putting him in a down-market sleeve. I can't be helped if the going thing in synths is men who look like they were sculpted by the gods. You might be right about the boy band though. The grin, even toothier than his usual."

* * *

"It really takes the terrorizing edge off of him," Winter agrees, glancing down at the tablet still on their lap. "God, he must just loathe it." Their brows lift. "Hmmm. You know, maybe there's a way to sweeten the deal for him, unless you're confident he'd work with us simply for your asking?"

* * *

Violet tilted her head, not quite smiling, but certainly thoughtful, "He hated it. I don't think he liked looking so…human. So..normal. I guess we all have our kinks. Like me and this magnificent work of art." Which she was saying jokingly, but for what it was worth, it was a military grade specimen. "Getting him a new sleeve, you mean? A copy of what he had? He might have a backup or two already. I don't know. But I'll see what I can do to convince him."

* * *

"A copy or, at least, something listing more towards unnerving than 'Ken doll'." Even in 2381, Barbie and her boyfriend can be found on toy shelves, though now they both have stacks. "But you're right, he may, or may already be working on procuring one. I doubt he'll just settle for that new sleeve because he's in it."

* * *

Violet tipped her head in acknowledgment. "I'm sure he won't. And he knows we did it so that the police wouldn't simply confiscate his stack and spin him up in virtual and leave him there until they got the answers they wanted. So, at the end of the day, it gave him autonomy, and that was the best we could hope for, once the cops arrived. I would have had other plans if they hadn't been alerted and we had to deal with it on the fly."

* * *

"What other plans?" Winter asks, head canting like a curious pup.

* * *

"I would have scrubbed the place, cleaned up the dead security guard, and then investigated the attack without the interference of the police. I certainly wouldn't have let them get their hands into all of this. Would have had a chance to speak to the guard, and to do some forensics on the stack and on Carnage's sleeve." She offered a shrug, "In the end, I hope, we'll get the same result, only likely with fewer dead bodies. But we're going to end up with those regardless."

* * *

"Hopefully just dead sleeves," Winter muses. "The way you were talking about the police before, I thought you didn't really have a problem with them. Now, it sounds like you're more of a dedicated criminal."

* * *

"I'm generally fine with the police. But this was personal Winter. And while I don't mind the police being involved in the investigation, I would have preferred, in this instance to have had first crack at the information. Which is what we got when Carnage let us take the stack. But it isn't what we got here. Now, all we have is going to be what they decide they want to share with us. Which is unlikely to be the complete information." Violet sets her hands on her knees, "I've spent most of my life in C-TAC. Ask most of the people on the street? That's the most dedicated sort of criminal you can be. I do what I can to help who I can, Winter, but I've gotten my hands dirty more than a few times."

* * *

"Who hasn't, down here," Winter replies. "Question is how often you got them dirty because you were told to versus how often you got them dirty because you chose to. Anyhow, we can start by playing nice. Maintaining an amicable relationship with the police. And if that only gets us half the story, well…" one brow quirks, "…then we get our hands dirty."

* * *

"Back in the old days? Because I was told to. But in this case? It's going to be because I choose to. They slagged my boss as a message, and they put Sparks in danger too. And whether they thinks they can handle themselves or not, there is some shit I just do not abide." Violet glanced up at Winter, trying to meet their eyes, and for all that her words were utterly calm, her face had shifted, not out of desire, but simply because she had stopped caring, in that moment, to make herself more human than her synth actually was, "They came into my home. They took something from me and they put people I respect and care about in danger. And someone is going to pay for that." A shake of her head brought her back to her, for her, usual self, "So I'll play nice for now. But if we don't get the answers we need, that will change."

* * *

"That's fair enough," Winter allows, setting the tablet aside. "Just try and remember that until proven otherwise, the police aren't the ones creating the problem. They're just… a complication. They didn't attack Carnage or the Panama Rose. They're being used by the people who did."

* * *

"Oh, I have no intention of going up against the police, unless I have to. Because you're right. They're not the ones that put us in this situation. And I'm not stupid enough to do something to them that's going to end up ruining everything I've been working so hard for." Violet shook her head, "But I'm going to get the answers I need whether they want me to or not."

* * *

"We all want answers, and to know what's going on, why meth clones are self-slagging and what the end game is," Winter replies. "Just don't go rogue on me, okay?" After a beat. "I'm getting used to the dumplings."