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(Theme Song)

After the seven of you finished up with whatever business you had for the day and gathered in the ballroom at the urging of several floating books, you could hear a slight 'popping' sound in front of you, just before a quartet of drones quickly flew through a breach in space and fired several beams of light at an empty point in space, slowly but surely tracing out the shape of...a man, a thin man wearing what appears to be an ancient and well used suit of full plate, decorated chiefly by a red tabard with gold trimming and a lying, but watchful lion emblazoned on the chest, an old scabbard containing a plain arming sword was on his right waist, and he made a bit of a show of keeping his gauntlet-ed hands away from it.

 

The man cracked his neck to the side a little as the drones put some finishing touches on his head, revealing a mane of wild red hair, a pair of pointed ears, and a painted face with a tired looking expression. He leaned against a wall and started to fan himself with his hands before he smiled a little and said, "We have a mission for you, should you choose to accept it," as the drones powered down and fell down to the floor. "What the royal highness meant is that he fucked up and now he needs our help to stop the world from ending...again," said an all too familiar figure as he slowly slid inside of the room and passed through the hologram Harlequin. "Oh buzz off, I didn't come all the way here just to have the castle's jester hose my wiz entrance."

Solomon let out a sigh before he pointed at all of the drones literring the floor and replied with, "Well you didn't have to try and impress them with this overly embellished nonsense, whatever happened to just dropping them into an alley?", the Harlequin shook his head slightly before he said, "Because funnily enough, we don't have the time to do that now, you know the little Deusche your merry band of fuckups met back in Seattle? Well guess who just tried to take over the Matrix." 

Solomon raised an eyebrow at this as he leaned back and asked "What? Deus? Wasn't his metaphorical body supposed to be cooling in a shallow grave after he pissed off the Azzies? How in the hell is he back?," Harlequin stifled a laugh as he replied with, "White power!...no seriously that's his excuse, it's apparently what he's calling the elite of his own personal army of Otaku, the 'Whites', and no, they're not as harmless as they sound, they've geeked a lot of badges, runners, and SINners."

He rolled his eyes as he stopped speaking for a moment to pull out what appeared to be a scroll, and leaned down to read it as he continued with, "
On our holy crusade against the false gods of the Matrix, may Deus corrupt their data and release zero days on their encryption, and yes, someone actually wrote that, it's on the Shadowlands, posted by some drekhead called xxxTEnsion21xxx after the attack on the Novatech IPO Servers, which they took over, now do you see why I'm asking for your help now?."

Solomon shook his head slightly before he asked, "No actually, nothing you just said implied that you wouldn't be better off if you hired local talent, especially since I don't know why you of all people would have even a tiny mote of interest over a crusade that'll last all off three weeks before the corps bag and tag him," to this the Harlequin could only sigh, put on a rather serious facial expression, and said, "It's...it's because of my daughter," which was an answer that elicited laughter from Solomon as he said, "Since when did you have a daughter? And which blind and deaf pixie chaser let your ugly ass put a baby in her?", this response caused the Harlequin to let out a sound of frustation before he said, "It could happen! I'll have you know that I've-why are we even talking about this? Look, does anyone else here have any actual questions? Anyone who isn't the flying poindexter."

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"Deusche... Oh, Deus! That guy. He did spout some nonsense about being a God and soon-to-be God of the Matrix when I first met him. And then... he duped me. That was unfun." Halley grumbled bitterly. "Okay so I'm totally on board with your goal here if it means getting back on him, though I am curious... What does any of this have to do with your daughter?"

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"So we are to stop some kind of god from taking control of this Matrix?"

 

"Do they have any rules which we can exploit?"  Mar interjects.

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"You know, you said a lot, but very little of substance," Alexandria points out, "You have a daughter, and a very large vocabulary of slang and jargon, most of which does not seem to be shared between your place of origin and my own.  I honestly could not get anything else of use out of that exchange.  Perhaps if you could state our mission objectives and rules of engagement, we might achieve real progress?  Details on the mission location would also be appreciated, of course."

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Friedhold leans over and quietly says something to Alexandria.

"As I heard some child calling itself God is invading the country of Matrix, we must stop this."

He nods confidently and turns back to pay attention to the two strange men again. 

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"Yeah, what the lady robot said. We're not gonna want any of the old 'follow the white rabbit' bullshit, give it to us plain and simple." This, this might actually be fun, Liliya considered. It was a guess, but it sounded like there were some pretty big gangs moving around, and while maybe navigating the gangs wasn't actually safe, it was her element. Seemed like a pretty high tech place, so that might change things up a bit, especially if all the interactions and stuff were through this matrix.

 

"Specifically, you're gonna have to be plain and simple about the danger, what's it we're allowed to do, and most importantly pay." Maybe Liliya didn't really care about the pay, they were on this mission after all, and there'd be plenty of places without the ability to pay. But this guy seemed like he could, and it seemed like the type of place where not asking about pay would reek of naivete.

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5 hours ago, DragonRage said:

"You know, you said a lot, but very little of substance," Alexandria points out, "You have a daughter, and a very large vocabulary of slang and jargon, most of which does not seem to be shared between your place of origin and my own.  I honestly could not get anything else of use out of that exchange.  Perhaps if you could state our mission objectives and rules of engagement, we might achieve real progress?  Details on the mission location would also be appreciated, of course."

The Harlequin nodded slightly and pulled out another scroll before he said "Alright I'll try to keep this as simple as possible, there is an evil artificial intelligence by the name of 'Deus' is a megalomaniac dick that is trying to take over the information superhighway, also known as the 'Internet' or 'Matrix' from the Novatech IPO servers-a megacorporation, or as you might know it, a really large gang or sovereign nation that was forced to go public with it's stocks and decided to invest in some servers with ridiculously high processing power, which is apparently a perfect staging ground for said evil AI to base himself and his army of really really nasty teenagers with magical powers over technology who actually believe he is the one and rightful Godking of the Matrix."

 

He took a really deep breath before he continued with "I want you to break into the formerly secure facility where the IPO servers are kept, flush him out of the damned servers without completely torching the damned place, and do it all without blowing up the facility, or massacring a bunch of misguided teens. There are no other rules of engagement, at least not ones I could explain to you, the Matrix isn't really my forte you see, but my daughter could explain more IF SHE WASN'T BUSY SLACKING OFF, but anyway the building itself is a standard underground megacorp facility full of traps and tight corners and security measures, sort of like a dungeon where you might be watched at any moment and everything you see might be trapped. Although thankfully Deus hasn't had the time to properly entrench himself in there, so he's had to shut some of them off to accomodate his small army of drones and wannabe shadowrunners."

 

The man rummaged around his pockets a little in search of something as he casually threw the scroll through a visibly annoyed Solomon, "And as for a reward, is the eternal love and gratitude of a world no longer living in fear of randomly dying when jacking into the internet not enough for this band of heroes? Because I have a drekload of money and magical items that says 'Pretty please cherry on top do this before someone else frags it up', I'm willing to offer around 100,000 of your US dollars if you need an exact figure, but in nuyen since no one actually uses dollars anymore."

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"Very well.  We will clean this road of Deus's presence." Mar nods.

 

"Will we need Vehicles to traverse this superhighway?"

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"Hm.  Removing a powerful artificial intelligence from a mainframe they don't want to leave is a tall order.  I don't suppose there's any physical object his programs are tied to?"  Alexandria asks, "If he can simply distribute himself over the entire network, we'll probably have to knock the building down and disintegrate the rubble just to make sure we've gotten all of his bits.  The physical barriers shouldn't be too much of a problem, but scraping all the digital pieces of Deus out of the building without destroying said building could be.  Depending on how computerized the place is, he could be hiding backups in every light fixture, every smoke alarm, and every desk."

 

"Mar, it's a metaphorical highway.  He's actually talking about a network of advanced machines capable of supporting life of in this case highly debatable intelligence."

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"Ahh, a Computer Network." Mar responds.

 

"I understand now.  I am not familiar with the terminology."

 

Mar contemplates the best way to break a computer, thinking to himself.

 

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"That's a bit better, though, a hundred thou is a bit small, think you could do any better? And are we supposed to do anything about this daughter of yours that you keep mentioning so unsubtlely?" This was gonna be hilarious, if two of the people here didn't have a clue what any of this meant, and one of them had apparently been tricked by Deus? Fun, and Liliya honestly meant it. She was confident that she could get out if things got too bad, perks of her little prediction tricks.

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2 hours ago, DragonRage said:

"Hm.  Removing a powerful artificial intelligence from a mainframe they don't want to leave is a tall order.  I don't suppose there's any physical object his programs are tied to?"  Alexandria asks, "If he can simply distribute himself over the entire network, we'll probably have to knock the building down and disintegrate the rubble just to make sure we've gotten all of his bits.  The physical barriers shouldn't be too much of a problem, but scraping all the digital pieces of Deus out of the building without destroying said building could be.  Depending on how computerized the place is, he could be hiding backups in every light fixture, every smoke alarm, and every desk."

 

"Mar, it's a metaphorical highway.  He's actually talking about a network of advanced machines capable of supporting life of in this case highly debatable intelligence."

The Harlequin scratched his chin a little as he casually searched through his array of scrolls until he found a particularly interesting one, "I asked some of my associates about this before I came here, and while I don't really understand their terminology myself, but apparently the Novatech IPO servers were advanced enough to naturally form an Ultraviolet grade processing environment in the matrix, which is apparently the only kind of environment an AI can fully compile itself in, and I think that means that all you really have to do afterwards is cut off access to the greater matrix and let the Novatech wageslaves deal with getting him out of their Intranet, he's not that much of a threat when he's decompiled."

He then coughed a little and glared at Liliya before he said, "I'm not made out of nuyen, and don't give me that look Solomon, I'm telling you the chip truth, I don't have an angel backing me financially like last time, no exec or corp wants to touch us just yet, not after that shitshow in the Aztechnology crater, but if you really want a bigger payday I'm sure that there's some business to be made if you manage to pull off a datasteal in the middle of it all, there's a lot of financial data floating around in there after all...just waiting for someone to snatch it"

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Venus

 

What fool had quilled the script of their exchange? It would not appease even that which would be so easily amused, especially from one ruler so feeble even against a seemingly inorganic subject....not even a father to his daughter. It was evident that he hadn't fed his powers well...something which the artist was all too familiar with, of tepid nobles in their lust for influence and power, in this case one enfeebled even in the face of a seemingly inorganic subject, now pleading for aid against another organization-- he conjectured that much even from the reprehensible dialogue. There seemed to be no benevolence in the administrative hold of power, not one Venus had seen; a perpetual clash of ideals rewarding the strong and cunning, and even the means to end or replaced it involved...

 

Usurpation. Or was it abolition? Would returning such a man to power be best for the given land or subjects, or was the current administration they were asked to go against the more sound option? Better to be nonexistent than incompetent. Perhaps he was in no position to judge.

 

"Are we dealing with a man or otherwise?" He finally spoke, a rather unsubtle tone of disdain tinged in his voice. "Perhaps it is due to my lack of exposure to the modern, but you describe our primary adversary as...obscure. Be it whatever answer, it would help to know what precisely we're after. Appearance, traits, clues and all."

 

 

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The Harlequin raised an eyebrow at the other minstrel's tone of voice before he said, "You know, if you were actually paying attention I wouldn't have to repeat myself right? But anyway, Deus is an artificial intelligence who likes to appear as an old man with facial hair best described as a white beard growing out of a white beard for some reason, he has no physical presence, existing entirely as constantly rewriting lines of code floating around in the matrix, constantly plotting to find a way for his servants to fully compile himself in Ultraviolet hosts, such as the surprisingly vulnerable server banks the east coast stock market installed for the Novatech IPO, and now since he actually managed to pull this off, he apparently plans to wage war against the rest of the world to become the Godking of the entire Matrix as he wishes he could be, which is a suicidal plan that's practically guaranteed to fail, after what promises to be a short but excessively bloody war that is, one that we can't afford to fight, not when something even worse is apparently coming."

 

He slumped back against a wall and pocketed his scrolls before he continued with, "And after what happened last time I'd try and hire local, but the only runners I know who could take him on in a fight, fair or otherwise would probably fry themselves along with him at best, and I'd leave it to the corps, but that could take ages. Which is why I'm offering the eight of you a chance to make a tidy sum and help save a world at least one more time."

 

21 hours ago, IntSys said:

"Deusche... Oh, Deus! That guy. He did spout some nonsense about being a God and soon-to-be God of the Matrix when I first met him. And then... he duped me. That was unfun." Halley grumbled bitterly. "Okay so I'm totally on board with your goal here if it means getting back on him, though I am curious... What does any of this have to do with your daughter?"

"That still doesn't tell us what your daughter has to do with any of this,," Solomon asked just as the harlequin finished speaking, which caused the man to let out a slight sigh before he said, "Oh that, one of her runner chummers flatlined in front of her while jacked in to the matrix, she thinks the Deusche might have geeked him, because he died the moment before Deus finished compiling."

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"Fine. But you need a buyer for that type of stuff, dontcha? And you're not willing to pay more, so I'm guessing you wouldn't be the one paying for the data. If I just happened to accidentally get my hands on something, would you set up the sale of. . . whatever? And how much storage would I need for that sorta thing? Wanna know if I can just buy a thumbdrive off the shelf, or if I'll need something bigger or what." Corporate espeionage was entirely foreign to Liliya, on top of the unfamiliarity with the world itself. She didn't expect to try to pull anything in that regard, but it was a combination of posturing and some info gathering.

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"... Okay. That sounds quite trivial," Halley remarked with visible confusion. "I can see that it's -ahem- personal, but hey, it's personal for me too. Now if she could act like it's personal." She rolled her eyes. "Anyway, everything else sounds like standard fare for me."

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3 hours ago, Strider said:

"Fine. But you need a buyer for that type of stuff, dontcha? And you're not willing to pay more, so I'm guessing you wouldn't be the one paying for the data. If I just happened to accidentally get my hands on something, would you set up the sale of. . . whatever? And how much storage would I need for that sorta thing? Wanna know if I can just buy a thumbdrive off the shelf, or if I'll need something bigger or what." Corporate espionage was entirely foreign to Liliya, on top of the unfamiliarity with the world itself. She didn't expect to try to pull anything in that regard, but it was a combination of posturing and some info gathering.

The Harlequin stopped to consider something before he chuckled a little and said "You're not planning on stealing the entire East Coast Stock exchange are you? Because no thumbdrive can hold that much data in one place, not in time anyway,and not that you'd want to, most of it is just old and outdated junk they're archiving, and as for additional payment...I can only say that I have my ways, I can find a buyer so long as you can find something worth selling."

1 hour ago, IntSys said:

"... Okay. That sounds quite trivial," Halley remarked with visible confusion. "I can see that it's -ahem- personal, but hey, it's personal for me too. Now if she could act like it's personal." She rolled her eyes. "Anyway, everything else sounds like standard fare for me."

He then turned slightly to face Halley, giving her a bit of an odd look before he said, "She's doing as much as she can to help, but with the amount of reports we're getting of people flatlining seemingly at random in the Matrix, we've both agreed to try and keep thing as analog as possible until this situation is resolved, and by this I meant that I sprayed her with trode mesh jammers and told her to not jack in to immediately die just before I went here."

 

He let out a slight sigh as he mimed checking a nonexistent watch and continued with, "Aaaand oh hey look at the time! It's 'Can we wrap this up somewhere else O'Clock' already? Huh, well in that case do any of you mind if we continue this interesting conversation over in my flat before a certain someone fucks up the matrix some more? We can just take the portal leading to Seattle you conveniently made to get there."

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"Let's."

 

Mar fires up the portal, and walks through like he owns the thing, with the ironic twist being that he does.

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Mar-Downtown Seattle-October 31 2064, Seems to be Night o Clock

(Clustertopia)

Mar would notice a brief flash of multicolored light as he entered the portal, just before he noticed something, something quite familiar. He was no longer inside of the grand if...still slightly musty insides of castle, and he was instead greeted by the sight of a familiar looking alleyway, with garbage strewn around the edges in already rotting bags, somewhat encircling the former resting place of that one dumpster Dackly outright stole, it seems as if the city cares little for it's trash receptacles, or how badly their alley smelled. 

The relative quiet was disrupted by a slight humming and popping sound as Solomon entered into the scene with a very brief flash of multicolored light illuminating him from behind. He lazily waved at Mar as he tiptoed around the piles of garbage and said, "Hey! The clown said that he'd meet us in person once we made it to his flat, it's apparently just around the corner from here. We should probably wait for the rest to get here first though." After he finished saying this the portal flashes a couple more times in rapid succession as the rest of the party stumble their way inside of the increasingly cramped, and not very well lit alleyway that leads out to a thankfully siren free, yet bustling city street.

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"It has been some time since I last visited this place."  Mar says.

 

"Let us hope the rest of the city is not as odorous as this place."

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Navin sighed. Well, this seemed like it had the potential to go catastrophically wrong, what with being a very specific, bizarrely explained, and precarious-sounding assignment... and one heavily involved with Solomon at that, which... Navin wasn't sure exactly what that meant but it probably didn't mean anything safe, considering the man's strangeness. Still, it did sound like it need doing, so there was nothing for it, really. The superhero was just going to have to go in and deal with it, then. "Well, alright..."

 

Stepping through the portal, Navin glanced around at the city around him -- he noted the size, and the crowdedness, and the filth, being a village boy himself, but he didn't find it as exceptional as perhaps some of the others would; Mumbai was many good things, and really was a jewel of India, but, ah, "non-crowded" and "clean" were not two of those things. "It is actually a little bit familiar for me, in a way. It reminds me of cities back home, at least the larger ones. It is less like Pachora or Jalgaon, more like Mumbai -- though, ah, maybe only that last one means anything to any of you."

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Alexandria follows through the portal, and immediately walks out toward the street to have a look around.  "Hm.  I have to say, I like the look of this place, garbage and all.  Reminds me of home, in a way our other destinations really haven't.  Can you feel it in the air?  Smells like progress!  Also carcinogens and illegal dumping, but nowhere is perfect."

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"Nothing like the good old city grime to make a place familiar. And yeah, Navin, can't say I've heard of the other two, but I've ain't ever been much of a geography nut." Liliya murmured her response, giving the place a look around.

 

"We going out to the main street Solomon? How're they gonna take to our. . . diversity of appearances?"

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Halley was hardly convinced, but it wasn't like it was particularly important of a detail, so she shrugged and got into the portal. "Either I've been here before or every alleyway in this city is actually an open junkyard... Or both. Likely both." She paced through all the litters on the ground and toward the exit of the alleyway. "I wonder if I'm still wanted..." She said, as she stopped right before the exit and indulged momentarily in the city lights of nighttime Seattle.

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Friedhold stepped through the portal to a familiar alleyway with familiar rotting trash.

"If you added old fish and seawater to this mix it would be very much like where I am from.  Now let us get going, it is probably best not to linger on these streets unless we wish to get in a gunfight."

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