Mar 06, 2021 2:29 AM
Shadowrunners get yoinked into an OTC world
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"I...feel like I'm only catching half the implications, there. 'Several lives', 'low-grade immortalities'? Anyway, the mercenaries don't sound particularly like my kind of person."

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("So, we have a nonmagical gizmo that reacts to some magic anyway?"

"In my professional opinion? 'Probably.' How that could be done, I don't know. This is years ahead of the best corp stuff I've seen, minimum. Are you sure Prinz isn't breaking rule seven?"

"...not entirely. Leveller, you think that's plausible?"

"Not unless they had the leverage and capability to fake his emotional state. Which they might, betting on anything being impossible to a Great Dragon is a sucker bet."

"We're fucked if that's true, they could be jerking us around however."

"Yeah. I see our options as assuming this is genuine or cutting Artur loose. Not that you're going to do the latter, but I might. I might prefer to be in the wind than involved in this."

"I hate it, but you're not wrong. Nicker, you okay being a go-between for setting up a dead drop if he does? Onion-ish?"

"Can do. Leveller, I'll meet you in the Matrix in a bit to set a place she won't know."

"I might not need it, but that sounds good. Back to the gizmo: my initial look said there was some video-like data and a projector of some kind. Is that right, Nicker?"

"Definitely. I can't read the data but it's not compressed or secured, and it's got definite Van Eck patterns. It's complicated, though: I think it's either 3D or has some branching/nondeterminism. Hardware suggests the former but the details are beyond me without turning it on."

"The big obvious button, that activates the probably-projectors?"

"Unless they're very sneaky, yes. But that's a real possibility."

"Yeah, okay, good work Nicker. I'm going to turn it on. Anyone who wants to leave first, do it now."

Nicker's bots do their nod thing and start filing out.)

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Leveller grimaces... and then does the same.

"If it's a bomb or you get eaten by a dragon... it was a pleasure to work with you, Zanne. And I did not tell you so, I'm just being paranoid."

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She gives him a smile. Waits a minute.

Turns it on.

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A hologram of a brown-haired woman wearing a black fur coat pops into existence, oriented towards Zanne. 

"Hey there, I'm Hannah. I live in a different universe from you people; I'm a dimensional mage for a corp called the OTC. My magic can sometimes transport people from other universes to mine by accident. That's what happened to your Arthur. He's safe and sound with me, I'll put him on in a moment when I've finished explaining. What I've sent you there is a beacon for interdimensional magic - it'll allow me to make a bridge between our two worlds. That means if you turn it on, I can send Arthur back to you or let you come through to my side. You might want to come here because the local political sitch is better than what I've heard of yours - one corp dominance, no brushfighting, corp in question has actual ethics - or because we're ahead of you on magic and science both. We have agelessness - I'm five hundred and seventeen - and hunger and sickness are largely under control. There's still shit jobs and people still die from accidents or genetic diseases but by and large we're a decent place to live. - my local universe I'm sending this from is called Arcbright, but we have hundreds like it. Still expanding all the time. But I digress. I think I've made the pitch: Come here if you want to live past eighty. And now I'm gonna hand this off to Arthur, who may decide to trash everything I've said; that's cool, he can say his piece. Arthur, anything I ought to say?"

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"Doing anything with these people other than running away screaming is breaking all the runner's rules, but it's a real opportunity to change the status quo, and God knows that could use some change. I'm already sure that their boss is my favorite corp and they'd be Leveller's favorite immortals, so that's nice."

Left unspoken: those are both extremely low bars. This nerd doesn't seem like the type to pick up on that automatically, so might as well lean on some subtext.

"I think I'm probably stuck going all-in on the spotlight, so... Well, use your judgment. But Zanne, you probably want to get our family extracted; if I go high-profile they might be in danger and I don't think you or I will be leaning on them as resources anymore. But you should probably assume I'm compromised, that's definitely more plausible than this. That's probably all...

Heh, no, one more thing: investment advice. New kid on the block seems like it can outspend the whole damn Court. Somehow I doubt the Azzies will back down in time to stay afloat, especially since they are really not going to get along. Lofwyr will probably adapt, more's the pity, who knows about the rest.

Yeah, that's all from me for the moment. Try not to do anything I wouldn't. Especially you, Zanne."

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Hannah grins, gives a thumbs-up, and the holo winks out.

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She sends a quick mail to Nicker. Highlights of the vid message: quote "I'm already sure that their boss is my favorite corp and they'd be Leveller's favorite immortals, so that's nice." end-quote, which I assume is conveying his suspicions in a way they won't notice. And "But you should probably assume I'm compromised, that's definitely more plausible than this." which suggests they're either not leaning on him or they're leaning on him really, really well. He said we're probably breaking all the rules if we stay involved, spotlight especially. And said I should extract our family from their cover, which I think is right, so I've sent a compressed twodee of it and will let Leveller make the calls from here while I do that.

Gizmo can open a gate, ostensibly only if we poke it, so I'm leaving it in the crew dropbox. Any markers you want to call in if you're going to have your street name burned, you might want to do that now, both of you.

Then she goes digging through Prinz's files for how to tell their sisters they need to bug out.

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"I hope she doesn't do anything impulsive. She's very fond of blowing things up and this is probably not the time. She was even when we were still academics, even, she was getting a doctorate in high-energy thaumics when it all went sideways.

Mine was 'applied modern theology', the Dragonslayer picked me early. My legal identity is 'Doctor' Carolingt, technically."

Because Artur can smell a nerd when he meets one, and 'Face makes friends' mode is starting to seem more appropriate than 'Face desperately gets his crew out alive'.

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"Nice. You should talk to Morning-Glory sometime, she's the real mad thaumicist in the air quotes "family". This is just my day job, basically - makes me enough credits I can spend half my time in the Bowers or at Sensefest. What's the art and music scene like where you're from?"

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Artur blinks, "You can swap chunks of realities without being the type to poke reality with a stick to see what happens?" He gives a crooked smile, “Maybe I should be afraid of your worlds for new and exciting reasons instead of habitual paranoia.

You might like simsense, if it's not redundant with Sensefest and whatever the Bowers are."

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"I used to do a lot of that - was a Thorn in the OTC survey corps, originally. But I kind of burned out on seeing the new sights when so many of them were trying to kill me. Took up dimensional magic using the Evatree's immortality policy for backup, whap bang that's all folks. Simsense sounds a bit like memory crystals, I'll be interested to try it."

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"It's possible to sim just about anything imaginable if you have the implants for it, editing tech is very good. But a lot of the crazier stuff needs BTL overrides - uh, that's 'better than life', it's not quite a street drug but similar. BTLs are illegal, but they're everywhere, and so are BTL junkies. They burn up your brain and make nothing real seem real anymore, but supposedly they're almost worth it."

"...God above, describing my world is depressing. Sorry."

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"There's some stuff like that in my world - dire cocoa, pan-galactic gargle blasters - but anyone who wants off them can just mint the memory out, so they're more or less controlled. Sunaira will have something to say about BTL addiction almost for sure, it's just a question of how much the other Directors will let her intervene; they're pretty solidly noninterventionist beyond the existing cutouts."

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"Man, every time you tell me something I have more questions - Not that you should stop answering, sorry, it's just clear there's a whole lot going on. 'Mint the memory out'? Is that like, mint the flavor or mint the way you create money? And could it get rid of, say, the memory everyone involved in a crime has of committing it so they can stop acting suspicious about it? 'Cause if so I might need to hurry up and figure out who to drop a bridge on as payback for my parents before you guys move in."

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"Mint like making money - the memory's turned into a Datum, our currency for information, and incarnated in the world as a triangular silver chip. That chip is the memory, and you can use the chip later to get the memory back or give it to somebody else. If you destroy the chip you get the memory back, but you could sink it in a sea or something if you wanted to be sure it didn't come back."

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"That's weirdly specific. Or, wait, part of some... crazy family of 'turn your life into money', isn't it? You mentioned 'Takkarash minters' that do something with... putting a sacrificial ritual on layaway. And 'Ka', I'm guessing that's the same... genre? How many of those are there?"

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