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614976 No. 614976 ID: 602cd8

In a parallel universe, with events and contexts that may or may not having anything to do with anything...

December 23rd, 8:05 AM, Ultrahive Capital Tower

"Hello, Polo!"
"I've called you here for a mission - ha, I just like saying that, of course it's for a mission, what the hell else would I call you here for?"
"My stellar company."
"Good one. Seriously, you know that new christmas thing though?
"I can't stop smelling pine trees."
"They're called christmas trees, Polo, but I know what you mean. Anyway, things were going well, people were buying stuff, our economy got a short term boost as people started maxing their credit cards for their first ever christmas and all that. It was going well! But about 5 minutes ago, all the actual santas - the delivery guys - found out that all their cargo was stolen."
"Which delivery guys?"
"Basically all of them."
"In the city?"
"In the world. Look at this graph. There's a red dot for every incident case. I made the red dot big though, so the printer basically spot out a red blotch. Which means it's pretty accurate. I guess you can see the north pole."
"Everything about this sounds suspicious."
Expand all images
No. 614977 ID: 602cd8
File 141945073419.png - (127.55KB , 800x800 , 2.png )

"What does that badge of yours stand for?"
"Ultrahive Detective Affirmation."
"Which means it's your job to follow suspicions! You have 2 days to figure out where all the christmas goodies have gone so we can get them back by christmas."
".... am I the only one on the case?"
"Uh, yeah. Look, there's no signs of breaking and entering any warehouses, no one's dead, at least not on the outside, and really, I wouldn't even say this has 'disturbed the peace' considering christmas has been such a huge clusterfuck that there's been no peace to disturb! In other words, we only assume there's been a crime, if just to make it look like we care about the season of giving. You want us to send every agent we've got on what might just be the Global Postal Agency making the biggest company fuckup of all time and they just don't want to admit it? There's still actual crimes out there, Polo. For some, the spirit of christmas means a surplus of drugs and assault weapons."
No. 614979 ID: 2ec61a

obv we need to start at the scene. where's the nearest place that things vanished from?
No. 614980 ID: 5f402f

>we only assume there's been a crime
Cargo disappearing unauthorized and undocumented from where it's supposed to be can't really be classified as anything but theft. And a large scale attempt to destabilize the economy could be considered an act of terrorism, or sedition, or sabotage. You can only make the assertion no crime has been committed if you genuinely believe no person was responsible (somehow a natural process).

If you want to assume the global postal service made a massive fuckup and covered it up? That's also a crime. They would be in breach of contract to everyone who paid for those deliveries, and making false statements to the authorities, conspiracy, and impeding an official investigation are also crime.

I suppose we should start our investigation with the postal services. See if they are actually covering something up, or if there's any evidence that points to a theft.
No. 614981 ID: 445ff6

Investigating the postal service actually makes a lot of sense, yeah. Get to it!
No. 614984 ID: 4a20fa

No time for thinking things through! TO THE NORTH POLE!
No. 614987 ID: 742b4a

Alright first we have to confirm the cargo was ever there at all.
No. 614993 ID: bb78f2

This may be a be some sort of Grinch sir. In old human mythology, there foretells the coming of some grumpy beast going around stealing presents and trying to ruin Christmas cheer. Like the opposite of Santa Claus. But not Opposite Santa Claus that brings Christmas slaughter. There must be some sort of truth the the myth.

Our guess is the Salikai Genetically Engineeered a real Grinch.
It's clearly our best theory right now if a crime took place.
We will actually make a not silly theory when we see one of the places that got robbed.
No. 615004 ID: 602cd8
File 141945450063.png - (135.29KB , 800x800 , 3.png )

"This much cargo disappearing without authorization or documentation would be theft of some kind, either from the company itself, or an external force. It would only not be a crime if there were no person responsible, and I don't believe this was some kind of natural occurrence. Also, if the postal service simply messed up, hiding it would also be a crime."
"Good point! See, that's why you're the one on the case. You actually have a sense of what laws are."
"Can we get more agents on this, then? It's a worldwide affair, apparently."
"Look I don't know what the other ultrahive is doing, but in our half of the world, we've got you. If you do want help, just enlist the police force. You agents can push 'em around. They love it. No responsibility on their part when you take over."

I have other options that are moderately more convenient to exhaust, first.

"I'm going to investigate the main postal branch of the capital, then."
"Fine, fine - where are you going? That's not how you get out of here."
"... the elevator is outside of this door."
"Polo, what does that badge on your chest stand for?"
"... the Ultrahive Detective Affirmation. Which I still think is supposed to be association."
"Right, which means you gotta think like one. Let me spell it out for you. Here is your standard issue jetpack. Now, do I need to show you to the window, or can you find it on your own? I'll give you a hint, this office is lavish as fuck, and it's got a huge window. Look, I know you're new here, but come on, your title is 'agent' for fuck's sake. Start acting like one."
No. 615005 ID: 602cd8
File 141945451078.png - (150.54KB , 800x800 , 4.png )

I "act like an agent" and head towards the global postal service's main office, where its president resides.

"Agent Polo, UDA. I'm here to investigate the missing cargo."
>"Damn, about time! We've lost millions in shipments!"
"Where is the last time the cargo was accounted for."
>"Here? We had the cargo in our storage bays just fine. No signs of tampering. Then we sent them out, and when they arrive on anyone's doorstep, we get a complaint about an empty box. Some of our places around the globe, though, had their warehouses looted with no sign of entry or anything. Most places, though, think that something happened on the driver's route. But all our drivers say that they didn't find anything wrong or suspicious, other than having a lot of very light boxes."

He blurts out the words like a stream of thoughts. But for having so many words, he says very little.
No. 615021 ID: 5f402f

Your customers complained the boxes were empty upon delivery. Can we prove they were not already empty while in your custody? Documentation of their arrival, recorded weights, video surveillance, the x-ray scans for hazardous or illegal material?

Step 1 in a theft investigation: make sure the stuff that was stolen was there to begin with.

>jet pack
Well, that's convenient.
No. 615025 ID: 742b4a

Did the drivers notice the boxes were light when they were loaded onto the trucks? That would mean the contents were missing before they were put on the trucks. In that case, they were looted inside the warehouse.

Check the warehouse.
No. 615035 ID: bb78f2

This is the sort of chief that will take your badge away if you DON'T do some sort of collateral damage during your investigation, isn't he?

Do you have any non-neumono employees? We need to interview them. It's obvious neumono aren't the thieves otherwise they would be broadcasting their "I totally stole the shit" thoughts outside of jammers and there wouldn't be an investigation. That or Predator hypnosis is the culprit.
No. 615036 ID: 5f402f

Also, were the trucks loaded by workers or machine? Your workers should have noticed the difference if they were loading empty (or very light) boxes.
No. 615046 ID: 602cd8
File 141945738044.png - (144.41KB , 800x800 , 5.png )

>Jetpack is convenient
No, it's not. It's too heavy to carry around everywhere, and it almost ran out of fuel on the way here. I had to discard it.

"Please lead me to the warehouse. Did the drivers notice the boxes were light when the truck was loaded?"
>"No, the drivers don't tend to do the loading. The divisions with looted warehouses did report a lot of light boxes, but by then, it was too late. The warehouses with cargo, though, didn't report anything weird, only the driver found out when he started unloading a lot of light boxes that weren't light when they were first loaded by our employees."
"What do the records say about weight, arrival, and all of that?"
>"Everything checked out. You can look if you want. We don't weigh them on the way out. Just when they arrived in the warehouse."
"And x-ray scans for anything illegal or harmful?"
>"Nothing out of the ordinary there. Like the weight, we do that by the time it settles in the warehouse, but not when it's loaded on the trucks."
"Surveillance cameras?"

We reach one of the warehouse doors.

>"Security has reported everything looked completely clean. Also, the police are here, they've been searching the premises and asking a lot of employees questions."

The capital police. One of the absolute toughest to work with. They're clean cops and do technically get the job done, though. And they are actually treating this like a crime, which is also good.

"Do you employ any non-neumono?"
>"Well, yes..."
"They may be suspect, then, since people would be able to pick up if a neumono was lying."
>"That's... really true, actually. Do you want to speak to one of them?"
"Preferably multiple."
>"Okay." the president says, making a call to someone about gathering all of the non neumono employees in a lobby to await further instruction. "They'll be in the main lobby when you want to speak to them, but it's fine if you want to look at the warehouse first. They didn't get the day off, but they don't actually have anything to do either."
No. 615049 ID: 5f402f

So... unless he's lying to your face and you don't sense it (unlikely) and the records have been falsified, the cargo was delivered to the storehouses in their containers. The differences happened while being stored or in transit.

>The capital police. One of the absolute toughest to work with. They're clean cops and do technically get the job done, though. And they are actually treating this like a crime, which is also good.
You'll want to request and review their records and transcripts of interviews before preforming your own. No need to waste police work, or retread ground without reason. (Plus, seeing what was asked and answered already will help you form your own questions).

>it's fine if you want to look at the warehouse first
We should do that. The capital police records won't arrive immediately, and it's good to have some ideas before you being questioning suspects.

>crime scene, fuck off

>had to discard the jet pack
Oh well. At least it was good for a one-way trip. Hopefully it doesn't count as equipment issued to your person, in which case we're going to be responsible for making sure it's recovered and gets back to base.
No. 615050 ID: 742b4a

Another question. What is the timeframe of the robbery, exactly? Did people start noticing light packages at about the same time worldwide?
No. 615075 ID: 602cd8
File 141945964089.png - (155.51KB , 800x800 , 6.png )

"What's the timeframe of the robbery?"
>"We just found out about our robberies no more than 30 minutes ago. The warehouse thefts all took place last night for all places in the world that were closed. The earliest must have been... 11 hours ago. But our drivers keep getting hit every time we send them out, starting 2 hours ago. We finally just got word shortly before we sent ours out. We didn't suspect we would be hit, too, but we were. We're considering cancelling deliveries in future time zones, at least until we can make further security measures. Uuugh, we're still trying to gather all of the reports. Our phones are ringing off the hook."

I'll look in the warehouse, first.

>"Hey hey hey! This your kid?" an officer comes up fast, talking to the president. They've got that intimidating, authorative aura about them. Effective for keeping the peace. Not effective for feeling internal peace.
>"Ah, no, this is an agent from the UDA."
>"Oh shitall. One of you guys. They get younger every damn time." the officer says, relaying that empathic feel of the presence of a UDA officer to the rest of her hive. "You agents think you can just come in, take over our job, and push us around. We hate that shit. You guys are always late, too."
"By definition. A crime like this goes to the police first, then the UDA when it turns out to be on this scale."
>"Well what do you want, your majesty?"
"Have you done any interrogations yet?"
>"Who do you take us for?! Of course we have."
"I would like to see the records."
>"You mean what we learned?"
"As in, the transcripts of what was said."
>"We don't have time for that lawdy-da shit, we just take what we learn. Oh, don't groan your mind like that, that shit's why we don't get along, you and us! Anyway, we didn't learn much of anything. The neumono we interrogated didn't know a damn thing as to what happened. And the aliens we interrogated didn't know much else, cause they were on routes that weren't hit. Which is a little coincidental, if you ask us."
No. 615079 ID: 742b4a

Wait, only neumono routes were hit? This is the work of a Predator.
No. 615080 ID: 5f402f

Ignore the provocations, and stay all business. So long as she cooperates and gives you the information she needs, you don't care what she thinks of you, or your involvement.

>Which is a little coincidental, if you ask us.
I would agree. A pattern that clear is suspicious.

Possibly it means the aliens were in on it, although that would be terribly stupid on their part to make their involvement so obvious. Or it's possible the thief targeted only neumono on purpose (trying to put a strain on race relations? They're using a predator to cover up their involvement? They're tracking delivery tucks by the driver's empathy?).

...has their been a medical examination of any of the affected neumono drivers? (If a predator was used to make them 'forget' being robbed, their might be medical evidence. Elevated stress hormones, unusual brain activity, higher levels of psycho-sedatives?).

Have you had the chance to pursue any investigation beyond initial interviews?
No. 615095 ID: bb78f2

Hmm... predator tech then.
I'd like to get a database analysis of all employee of all places that were hit. Have an AI tag all connections and any that look suspicious or related.
We also need an AI to scrub the business's database and user accounts for virus, trojans, and the like. Someone needs access to the records of the deliveries to pull predator mindwipes and steal the stuff on the neumono-driven trucks. If a predator was involved, there cannot be any mistakes of getting a non-neumono driver. A single mistake of that nature will reveal the entire heist and leave ample evidence because the non-neumono would need to be silenced.
No. 615103 ID: 602cd8
File 141946302801.png - (96.62KB , 800x800 , 7.png )

"If only neumono routes were hit, then this sounds like the work of a predator."
>"Yeah, and I suppose unicorns were the masterminds behind the idea, smartstuff?"
"Do you have any better leads?"
>"No lead is better than a mystical lead."
"Predator's aren't extinct."
>"No, but they are dumb, and stick to their shitty little dens in the wild."
"With their power, it was only a matter of time before they became weaponized."
>"Hey, guys!" she shouts to the warehouse. "The yooda thinks a predator's behind it!"

They all laugh, of course. They're hivemates.

>"Are we gonna start seeing predator selfies on the internet with all that stuff?"
>"Yeah, and it's gonna shampoo and bathe all its slaves!"
>"And then play around with toy helicopters, and wear christmas sweaters!"
"No. There are a few people who have the resources to employ a predator, and perform a heist of this scale. Namely, the Salikai, and Whiskers."
>"Oh, please, they're just criminals. You make them out to be some kind of supervillains."
"Have you seen Whiskers? That is not the attire of a regular criminal. Have you done anything beyond initial interviews?"
>"No time for it. But we can handle this one."
No. 615105 ID: 602cd8
File 141946311422.png - (138.51KB , 800x800 , 8.png )

"We've done more, actually. Hate to say it, but the shrimp might be right." an officer comes around the corner. "We found some tech in one of the trucks we searched. Intel says it's an empathic relayer. A completely functional one. Perfect for webcam addons, television shows, and wide scale predator heists."
"Who are you?"
"Why are you out of uniform?"
"Don't need it."
"And what are you doing with that guy?"
"Interrogations. Lotta neumono had some crimes to confess to. None of 'em had to do with this one, but hey, a crime's a crime."
"Why are you and him bloody?"
"I told you already. Aren't you the detective here? Don't get mad. You're the one who can boss us around."

I'm kind of mad. I try to ignore this.

"I want a database analysis of all employees of all places that were hit, and to have an AI run through it for any connections. And to scrub this company's files for trojans, viruses, malware, so on. I suspect there is something there, because in order to have pulled off this heist without a single alien involved, they must have known exactly who every employee was and what time they were going out at. It looks like whoever did this, though, wasn't perfect, having left that relayer here. I'll arrange for our CAI to handle the scrubbing, just get the president to get us access. It looks like he left already."
>"Yes, your highness." says the first officer.
No. 615110 ID: 0ee153

Start interrogating Rokoa on what she knows.
No. 615118 ID: 5f402f

Leaving the rely behind is an odd oversight. You would have expected them to take it with them when they emptied the truck, or to have set it for some kind of self destruct. Although, if we only found one, that would be the mark of an accidental oversight.

>Lotta neumono had some crimes to confess to.
Hers look to be "assault", "excessive force" and "reckless disregard for protocols when questioning prisoners."

>You're the one who can boss us around.
Then if she'd done questioning her prisoner, she should put him down and see to it he receives proper medical care.

...and if he's not a prisoner, and simply an employee who showed up to be interviewed, she should begin praying neither he nor his employer decides to press charges.
No. 615123 ID: 5762bc

If this was a predator job some of the higher ups in shipping might have had some subconscious alterations done to them. Also to get those relays installed on all the trucks at once someone in the postal service had to sign off on the order.

I would round them up for questioning. But make sure its in a way that does not tip them off. Do not want any mental programing traps to go off before we are there.

Do they still use those nasty mind control torture bugs?
No. 615135 ID: 602cd8
File 141946717970.png - (155.42KB , 800x800 , 9.png )

I make the call to home base to prepare the CAI for scrubbing the postal's databanks, and turn back to the officers. I'll also arrange for questioning on shipping managers or other higher ups. One at a time with other people involved, so it does not look like we are singling out a particular group.

"As for Rokoa, your crimes appear to be assault, excessive force, and reckless disregard for interrogation protocol."
"Yeah, and now we know how a few fires started back when."
"And if you're done with him, you can put him down to receive medical care. And you should hope he really is guilty of a crime, because if not, he or his employer can put a fire on your neck."
"That a threat?" she asks, but she does let him go.
"Potentially, but we have bigger fish. What do you know about relayers?" That technology, I thought, was classified. We don't want people thinking that relayers are possible to make, for this exact reason.
"Like empathy from afar. Not much to it. Would make sense that a predator's involved, here. Oh, cept for one thing. It had the insignia scraped off, but the relayer used a jammer casing from a certain Aprio Enterprises, a ways out of town. We're trying to contact some higher ups there. I'm going there, next."
"Was there any indication of physical harm to any neumono?"
"Nope. Our interrogations not withstanding."
"I want them to be fully examined, with x-ray scans." There has been physical implants forcibly done on neumono in the past, but we have not had sightings of those in years.
"Anything else?"
"That relayer was the only one found, on all the trucks?"

Most likely an accidental oversight, then.
No. 615144 ID: 5f402f

>That a threat?
Only if she gives us good reason to make good on it. You're not internal affairs, and so long as she doesn't step too far out of line, or impede your investigation, it's not really your concern.

>what else
...did we search any of the untouched trucks for relays? If only the trucks with neumono drivers had relays in place, that means the perpetrators knew in advance who would be driving each truck at the time of the heist. That suggests a short timetable to get the devices in place, and an inside source of information.

There's also the mater of how the relays were installed in the first place. Either someone broke in and smuggled them into place, or someone here was involved. And smuggled them into place. (Obvious places to start looking would be among the loaders of the maintenance staff for the trucks).

>Aprio Enterprises, next
A good idea. Following the devices down the supply line could lead us to our perpetrators, as well.
No. 615160 ID: 5762bc

Where was the relay placed? Was it hidden inside and installed properly or was it just stuck on a magnet on the bottom? Will tell you a lot about how it got there.

Also you need to find out the range on that thing. Am assuming empathy relaying using a lot of bandwidth. Either they had a direct connection to all the relays or they sent out a wide band broadcast to hit all of them at once. If so you should talk to some techs and see if anyone noticed any signal spikes at the time of the heist.

You should personally find and interview one of the delivery drivers that got hit. Have him walk you through that day and look for any empathy changes that would tell you when he got hit. Also check the gps on the cell phones of the drivers. They might have been controlled to make deliveries they did not know about.
No. 615162 ID: 742b4a

Let's go check out Aprio Enterprises with Rokoa.
No. 615180 ID: 0ee153

Check out Rokoa first.

For implants, spy gear, and such.
No. 615235 ID: 602cd8
File 141948366674.png - (90.79KB , 800x800 , 10.png )

"Where was the relay placed in the truck?"
"Tied up inside of the engine, as close to the driver as it could get."
"Any idea on the range of it?"
"Alright. Going to Aprio is a good idea. First, though, I have a call to make."

I step out for a moment to get a run on the GPS signals the drivers had. It doesn't take our AIs to find out that just about all of the drivers had, at one point, stopped in the road when no one else was around. Only for a minute or two, tops. I have no idea how someone could have removed all of the items from the boxes that quickly and still leave them intact.

"Alright. Rokoa. I want investigators to look at everywhere the drivers stopped. I'll upload the data for you. I also want some of the drivers to run throughout their route, and to watch out for empathy inconsistencies in the driver when they get to where they were stopped. I'm going to go to Aprio."
"Cool. I was gonna get a helicopter. That cool?"

I am not certain how I feel about this person coming with me. I should have at least one person as backup, though, as although this heist wasn't flawlessly pulled off as given by the relayer, to pull it off at all means that they have resources to spare. I can either go with her, or call her off and go with either anyone else on the police force or a random individual from the UDA.

I will do a full body search and x-ray to anyone I take as a partner, regardless.
No. 615237 ID: 742b4a

The items were most likely not removed. The boxes were replaced.

Go with a random person from UDA. They shouldn't be compromised.
No. 615240 ID: 5f402f

>I am not certain how I feel about this person coming with me.
*shrug* She's already on the case, and heading in the same direction as you. Turning her down and requesting someone else will just cause needless tension with her hive and the investigation team here, and you're already having some issues, there.

Your boss at the UDA didn't seem terribly interested in assigning additional agents. You're only going to get help grudgingly, and not necessarily the best of help, if you go that route.

Besides, your biggest weakness is physical strength and the intimidation of size. She certainly brings that to the table, in spades.

Yes, a helicopter will suffice.
No. 615241 ID: 5762bc

Just to make sure pinch yourself a bit first. And then try to remember if you were about to invade a heavily occupied secret underground Salikai base with the help of a Fufa. Just in case you got into the mind altering gas again.

Anyways it might be good to have a good cop bad cop thing going. She can go breaking things when you need them broken and hurt people if they do not take you seriously.

If they managed to get all the stuff out of the boxes that fast maybe they had empty boxes ready to replace them with. A labeling machine and access to the postal network would make it easy to make duplicates. Its just cardboard after all.

Speaking of the heist you should have someone closely look over the boxes and shipping labels. And look for public cameras that might have caught one of the shipments on tape around when the heist happened.

Oh and one last thing. If someone stole these presents they did so for a reason. Make sure if they suddenly start showing back up you can check them for mind control relays or bombs or something. That or the Salikai just stole them so they can ruin Christmas so that all the sad neumono kids will be sad enough to power there sadness powered death ray.
No. 615259 ID: bb78f2

You know what's extremely scary? The ultraking getting to know her, liking her, and making her an agent.
No. 615260 ID: 0ee153

I think she's in the wrong ultrahive for that, but it's not all that scary. Rokoa's willing to do her job and she makes up for what Polo lacks. They cover each other quite well.
No. 615279 ID: 602cd8
File 141949177518.png - (137.21KB , 800x800 , 11.png )

>They replaced the boxes
That's also possible, but from the sounds of things, the duplicates were also put in the correct spot. Not an easy feat. But theoretically possible.

I don't know who I'd get as a UDA, and with the lack of enthusiasm Ultraking Az had for this, it's too possible I'll get a mismatched partner. At least with Rokoa, I'll know what I'm getting, and I don't think she'll do anything wrong as long as I keep a short leash on her.

As for being compromised, if the police force was compromised, then we've got bigger issues to worry about than missing christmas packages.

"Fine. A helicopter is fine. You can come, under the condition that we stop at your station to get you changed."
"What for?"
"... your uniform. I'm not going to work with s- no, I'm not going to let someone work around me that isn't in uniform."

>You know what's extremely scary? The ultraking getting to know her, liking her, and making her an agent.
That would be awful and she will not have my letter of recommendation.

On getting to the police station, I check Rokoa's uniform and her before she puts it on. I also run her through an x-ray scanner. There are no anomalies.
No. 615280 ID: 602cd8
File 141949178885.png - (142.43KB , 800x800 , 12.png )

The Chief also calls Rokoa into her office, where I listen in while we wait for a helicopter to be prepped for our use.

>"You incompetent girl! Assault, out of uniform, no badge, no gun, no nothing, and you just go around beating up people that would've caved anyway! And to top it all off, it was right in fucking front of the UDA!"
"That was aft-" the Chief lunges across her desk and grabs Rokoa.
>"Shut up and listen to me! You are going to do exactly what she tells you to! Not technically what she tells you to. You are going to make her pleased. You are going to practically do her job for you even if she kicks you while she has you work your lazy ass off. YOu are going to give her backrubs if she asks for them. You will do her goddamn laundry if she runs out of clothes while you are on this job. If that agent comes back and she has anything less to say about you than the most stellar goddamn officer she's ever worked with, you're not going to have ownership of your badge afterwards, do you understand me?!"
"... you got i- yes, ma'am."

That is exactly what I wanted to hear. I am gathering this happens with Rokoa on a regular basis, however, but she's no rogue. She'll at least listen to her queen, which apparently means listening to me.
No. 615281 ID: 602cd8
File 141949182966.png - (159.43KB , 800x800 , 13.png )

We get into the helicopter, and our pilot takes off while Rokoa takes her spot in the forward chair, and I'm stuck in the short people seatbelt.

>"Looks like our trip is gonna take a bit over an hour. So get yourselves cozy."

Rokoa doesn't get a chance to bother me with words before I get a call.

>"Hello, this is Katzati, your UDA operator." she says, handing me a manual encryption password that checks out for the next hour. "We got the police report on that driver interrogation you requested. They do remember driving through those zones, but they don't know why they decided to go that route. And, they don't remember actually passing through those spots they sat still out. They thought they just zoned out, like a lot of people do when they drive for long periods of time. Their empathy didn't change much, they only were confused about why they changed routes."

Whatever predator did this, did a good job.

"Thank you. Be sure to intercept any packages that resurface. Someone did this for a reason, and it wouldn't surprise me if those presents were tampered with. In fact, make a list of all stolen items, and make a public announcement that all recepients of those items should call them in if they receive them."
"Also, please check all surveillance cameras in public that may have seen those positions."
>"Understood. Anything else, Polo?"
"Yes. Have someone - both AI and manual - look over the boxes and shipping labels. They may have been replaced. If you learn anything, let me know. That will be all. Thank you."
No. 615284 ID: 5f402f

>handing me a manual encryption password that checks out for the next hour
Actual paranoid communication security. Why couldn't our military have had that in the main story.

Excellent. No need to push her. You now have one lose canon on a leash, ready to be unleashed if you need it.

Well, not much to do for an hour except coordinate with anyone who calls you.

Main question here is really why. Taming or training a predator, developing covert empathic rely tech, getting them smuggled into the vehicles... for what? So far it seems like a lot of effort and resources spent for theft, even on this scale. How is what they accomplished worth what they were willing to invest?
No. 615285 ID: bdfc23

Leave your small people seat, use Rokoa as a chair, she has to do whatever you say.
Do not be content with the short seatbelt, you need a better view, FREE YOURSELF FROM THESE BELTS OF SHORTNESS!
No. 615288 ID: 0ee153


Start thinking out loud about why someone would want to steal everything. Was there a sudden upswing of orders for... plutonium ore? Some rare element or compound that comes in electronic toys?
No. 615311 ID: 602cd8
File 141949736159.png - (180.13KB , 800x800 , 14.png )

>Leave your small people seat, use Rokoa as a chair.
I will not have a seatbelt if I do this. Her arms do not match seatbelt regulations, nor does the situation require I have a pleasant view of the outside. I also should refrain from abusing my power over her.

"Rokoa, do you have any idea why anyone would commit so much to steal odds and ends like this?"
"Cause they wanted to spend the rest of their life in jail!"
"Any good ideas?"
"Not any boring ones."

I didn't think she did. I just go over what I know and what I don't know about this case, but ultimately, I just have to wait until I'm at a place where I can get more info. My phone rings again. It's Katzati. We run through the codes again.

>"Okay, we ran surveillance scans, and sorry, there's almost nothing. Almost. One of the farther away cameras did see some suspicious activity. It was just someone moving around, it looked like. The resolution is too low to make out much, but the spot was too hidden and too far for the camera to see much. What's weirdest about it though is there was a nearby camera that had a much clearer shot, and it didn't see anything at all despite being there at the exact same time, except for the truck just passing through like nothing was wrong."
"Did the clean camera show any other cars moving through?"
>"No, it didn't."
"And the other camera?"
>"Uh..... hold on... yes, yes there was one car that should have crossed right through the crime scene."
"Can you find anything about that car?"
>"Err... not easily. I'm sorry, it's a low resolution, and the closer camera doesn't show anything."
"Get someone on looking into why that closer camera is clean, and try to find out what you can about that car that tried to drive through. Get Az to send another Agent if the police are too tied up. It's possible they had their predator wash them, but given how busy that predator must have been, we can't rule out the possibility that our thieves committed a homicide or kidnapping instead."

>"We're almost there." Buckle up, Rokoa, you know what happened last time we hit turbulence."
"I got a nice view, after flying out of the door that, unlike this time, was open."
"... put your seat belt on, Rokoa."
"Yeah yeah, I'm doing it. How do you want to approach this, boss?" Rokoa asks, as the pilot starts contacting Aprio.
>"We've got clearance to land on their helipad. It looks like they're willing to talk. I'll hang out on the roof while you guys do your thing."
No. 615313 ID: 5f402f

...two crazy faces driving a helicopter is not reassuring.

>Get someone on looking into why that closer camera is clean
They knew it was there, and avoided it, but the further one escaped their notice? Or they hacked the closer one.

>How do you want to approach this, boss?
We'll head in and start asking questions. See how cooperative they feel like being, before they know why we're asking questions. When that stops working, we see how they react when they find out what our inquires are about.

I want to know if they were involved or just used. And then I want to find out who got ahold of their tech.
No. 615342 ID: bb78f2

Honestly, I would think that the security camera's were just put on loop, which would explain the differences in footage between the several cameras if the loops wasn't perfect. That may require real time video editing in some cases, which makes me think a CAI helped if these camera's are hooked up to a network and are digital.

Which would make sense for a heist of this scale.
No. 615360 ID: 5762bc

Just had a thought. If a normal thief was going to pull this off they would have stolen all the presents at the warehouse and replaced the boxes there. Then all you would need the relays for would to make people not notice that the boxes were empty.

Then you just turn them all off halfway through the routes to make it look like stuff was stolen mid route. Gives you time to escape while the police are all running around after the red herring.

Better let Rokoa know now how you want her to act. Want to both be on the same page for the interviews. Right now her job is to look scary and be your meat shield.
No. 615374 ID: 602cd8
File 141953369524.png - (131.82KB , 800x800 , 15.png )

"We'll ask the CEO questions, as you planned. Just... look scary, but don't actually do anything scary."

I make one last note to Katzati to make sure to keep investigating the warehouses, in case by some scheming the Salikai managed to make the drivers only seem to be hit, making them a red herring. With that done, I put my phone down and meet with some Aprio employees. They insist the CEO is busy, and I insist I am a UDA agent, which works well enough.

Rokoa and I end up entering the office of Pelios rozu Oilrigger, who is no longer in the oil rigging business. He is a neumono, however, it appears that the whole building is inside of a jamming field.

"Hello. I'm Agent Polo of the UDA. I have questions about your jammers."
>"Yes, hello, agent. What do you want to know?"
"First of all, tell me about your usual clients."
>"Hm? We're a large scale operation, don't you know? We have many. From many military organizations, to jammer city supplies, to simply people and hives who like mental peace and quiet."
"Have you had any odd clients of late?"
>"No. Please tell me, if someone used a jammer to commit a crime. It happens unfortunately frequently, but I can't help you if I don't know who purchased it."
"Would you mind if we turned off the jammer?"
>"I'm sorry, but we do need to consistently test both small scale and large scale jammers, and it's hard to run quality control on larger scale jammers at once. We would have to turn off several jammers, and it will be extremely inconvenient for me to do so, as well as for me to leave the premises. It is almost christmas, after all, and even a product like this is in high demand. I'm hoping my words will suffice, here."
No. 615375 ID: 742b4a

Now why would it be inconvenient for him to exit the jammer field? I think he'd better come with us.
No. 615377 ID: 5762bc

Extremely inconvenient sounds like a "Please go away I am guilty as fuck" to me. What do you think Rokoa?

Personal contact still works in a jammer right? Have Rokoa go grab him and you two snuggle uncomfortably with him and see if he is crooked. If you notice anything get those jammers off and call in a sweep of the building.

While this place might be clean it would be the perfect place to hide a bunch of illegal empathy tech. Them loosing a bit of time and money to have to reset everything is a small price to pay to make sure nothing is going on here.
No. 615380 ID: 5f402f

Personal contact in an interview is somewhat unprofessional, but it can be used as a means to bypass a jammer, especially if he'd prefer not to continue the interview at the station.

>quality control on several large jammers at once
How are you supposed to tell if one fails or malfunctions if the areas of effect overlap?

>It is almost Christmas, after all
That is, unfortunately the reason for our urgency.

>Please tell me, if someone used a jammer to commit a crime.
There is a criminal investigation, and your tech does appear to have been involved. Beyond that, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the particulars at this time.

>what do
We know the number of vehicles hit, therefore we know at least how many jammers (or jammer casings) were needed. Large scale purchases tend to stand out, even if they broke it up into several smaller buys under different names. Give him the number of devices we suspect were involved.

The jammers we're interested were also modified. The client might have been bought damaged stock, or defective parts. That kind of order might have stood out as well.

Did we get a serial number or lot number of anything off the casing we recovered? That would be helpful in tracing it's origin.

The unsuspicious answer would be he's running a company in the consumer frenzy right before Christmas and leaving his post for an hour or two would be very inconvenient. Of course, there are suspicious answers too.
No. 615390 ID: 602cd8
File 141953908473.png - (108.04KB , 800x800 , 16.png )

>Did we get a serial number or lot number of anything off the casing we recovered?
All of that was scraped off. We could only deduce it came from here because of its shape and manner of construction, not because of any metadata.

"How do you tell if one fails or malfunctions if the areas of effect overlap?"
>"Ah, well, as long as there is a single spot isolated that is only affected by one jammer, you can put a couple of neumono in that spot and they can tell if it works. It does require perfect spacing, and there are further tests that go on."
"Regardless, it is almost christmas as you say, and that is why we're in a hurry. While it's unprofessional, we are in a criminal investigation that involved many of your casings, and either you will have to leave your post for a brief period, or we will have to engage in physical contact to bypass the jammer field."
>"I'm sorry, but I don't feel comfortable with that at all. I can schedule you for this evening, if you like, but to satiate your curiosity would be costly for me."
"We can look over your records if you like, then. If you grant us access to all of your files, we can run a CAI through it. They won't harm or interfere with anything, but you will be transparent."
>"We have a lot of proprietary data. That is unacceptable."
"... Rokoa, what does this sound like to you."
"It sounds like we, the enforcers of the law, are getting blocked a lot. This guy's got a pile of dirty laundry in that head of his, and it's gotta be the shittiest, stinking clothing pile around if he's hiding it behind obstruction of justice."
>"I, and my company, have rights. Do you have a warrant to search through us?"

I don't need empathy to tell that the Rokoa cannon is about to wiggle loose, but I don't know how.
No. 615393 ID: 5f402f

>Do you have a warrant to search through us?
Warrants are only only necessary to force compliance.

You are within your rights to withhold information until we produce a warrant. However, with a warrant, we would be within our rights to be extraordinarily thorough in it's execution. *look at Rokoa* Especially if we have reasons to be suspicious. This would be a very bad time of year to have your operations shut down for an exhaustive review, or your employees missing their holiday hours for interviews.

(If possible, let Rokoa play off this. We're threatening and intimidating him here, and she'd like that. She'll probably jump on the idea of 'interviewing' them).

...I believe much like yourself, we would be happier if our words would suffice.
No. 615395 ID: 742b4a

How long would it take to get a warrant? Could you just, say, call someone up to get one within minutes? I suspect you could, considering the situation.
No. 615401 ID: 742b4a

Wait, do UDA agents even need warrants?
No. 615402 ID: 5762bc

Now if it were just Rokoa here she would need a warrant. And she can probably get one on her own within the hour.

As for me all I have to do is call the ultraking and have permission to do just about anything. That is if he does not personally come jet packing through your window 5 minutes after I call.

To clarify how far does your authority extend as a agent? Will be good to know for anything that comes up later.
No. 615414 ID: 602cd8
File 141954388167.png - (117.35KB , 800x800 , 17.png )

>Wait, do UDA agents even need warrants?
We do, but even the lightest scraps of evidence are usually enough to get them. And even then, it's largely a formality, but I don't like to strongarm excessively, even if I could simply call Az and request immediate permission.

>To clarify how far does your authority extend as a agent?
I'll have to double check. The agency is relatively new, and the laws of what we can and cannot do are frequently changing, and few can keep up. Trials regarding UDA action are often subjective.

"We may need a warrant to force your cooperation. So you have choices. The first is that you cooperate willingly and take the jammer and answer my questions to the best of your ability, and give us any data that would be helpful. The second choice is that we end up sitting here for less than 10 minutes to wait for a warrant. Then I shut this whole place down while Rokoa does all the searching and interrogation she wants to do, whether you want it done or not."

Rokoa reaches across, and puts her hand on his head.

"The second option would be my favorite, actually. I'm willing to wait."
>Alright, alright! I'll tell you. I was blackmailed, alright? Me and my hive did some... questionable environmental practices on our oil rigs. I had to let a lot of casings go missing in order to keep them quiet."
"Who is them?"
>"I don't know! They wouldn't say. They just ordered an enormous amount of empty casings, as well as blueprints to our studies on empathy recorders."
>"Yes, one that can hold an empathic feel, and play it back. It had flaws, and it wasn't ready for use by any means. This was... several months ago. I don't know what they could have done with it, but I couldn't have refused!"
"He's quiet, but I think he's telling the truth. He also wants us to keep our mouths shut about the whole thing."
"And how did you deliver all of those pieces?"
>"We only did about one thousand at a time, at a different dead drop each time. We never saw anyone pick them up."
"Turn off the damn jammer, you feel like you're trying to hide something!"
"I said I'll tell you! Look, here, I have a couple of people you two might be inte-"
No. 615417 ID: 602cd8
File 141954391683.png - (141.54KB , 800x800 , 18.png )

Rokoa reels him by the head, pulling him over the desk.

"You've got some real heavy fucking balls, fat cat! Polo, he just pushed a damn security button, the bastard's trying to off us!"

She might be right, I'm hearing a lot of footsteps coming from behind the doors.
No. 615419 ID: 742b4a

Disable the fat cat, get some cover by the door and order the incoming guards to stand down before you start shooting.
No. 615420 ID: 5762bc

Honestly the safest place is probably behind his huge desk. Jump back there with Rokoa and use the little guy as a shield.

Radio for help while you do so and check for more buttons while you are back there. Then let him know that this was a very public visit and the only way he gets out of this in one piece is to have his men stand down.

This is a building specializing in jammer tech so don't be surprised if your calls out get blocked. If they are try to use his internal systems to call out if you can.
No. 615422 ID: a19cd5

Radio for the helicopter to pull up outside the window.
Jump out the window into the helicopter.
Make sure that rokoa takes Oilrigger with her.
No. 615423 ID: 5f402f

Lock the door?

Check if your comm and/or phone is being jammed. If you can pass word along that his company or his hive was involved, silencing you serves no purpose, and only increases the charges that can be laid at their feet.

Tell the CEO that you hope your partner is mistaken. It only took a single agent working with one police officer to uncover this link. If you are silenced or disappear, they'll attract much more attention from your organizations, and endure worse charges when discovered. His only option for damage control is cooperation.

Instruct Rokoa to exercise restrain if we are attacked. Security personnel responding to an alarm don't deserve to be killed, or if those footsteps take orders from the blackmailers, we want them able to answer questions.

Do not shoot first. We're the police.
No. 615429 ID: bb78f2

He is foolish. Our administration already knows we're here, and police and UDA agents will be here within the hour to shut everything down permanently if we are killed in action today.

Trust me, CEO, nothing besides your complete cooperation will get you past this clusterfuck with your cushy life intact. So it's compliance, or you're arrested and spend a significant time in prison if we survive, or you're on the run for the rest of your life if we die. Order off your security force now. There is no place we cannot track you down.
No. 615434 ID: 602cd8
File 141954805441.png - (139.21KB , 800x800 , 19.png )

"Rokoa, top over the desk, that's the only good cover in the room!" I yell, while I try to jam the door with a nearby chair.

She kicks it over while I grab my phone. It's dead.

"Damnit, they've jammed my cell! Can you reach the helicopter?"
"Rokoa to copter! Do you read?"

With no reply, Rokoa changes the dial, and repeats. People start banging on the door.

"This is Agent Polo of the UDA! Stand down!" The reply I get is gunshots fired into the doorway. That settles any misgivings about shooting first. I don't know who these guards are, but they're not average wage earners if they're firing in this scenario.
No. 615435 ID: 602cd8
File 141954806991.png - (181.17KB , 800x800 , 20.png )

I run back behind the tipped desk.
"Pelios, a lot of people know we were here, the only way you're getting out of this with your life intact is if you call them off!"
>"Too damn late!"
"I found your place working with a single other cop. If you silence us, you'll be getting way more attention!"
>"I'll be out of here by then! I would've been out of here by now, in fact, if you didn't show up here so damn fast!"
"You could have complied, and just had moderate legal action. You probably wouldn't have even gone to jail."
>"You two are the ones being idiots! You don't know who you're dealing with, if they realize I talked, even if I don't know that much... I'd rather be dead than be in the same world as them!"

"Rokoa to copter!"
>"I read." Good, Rokoa found a frequency that wasn't jammed.
"Go down 3 floors on the west side of the building, we need an out, pronto!" That idea isn't sounding as insane as I would like about now.

The guards start unloading an assault weapon into the door. The chair won't hold for many more seconds. The sound of the helicopter is getting close by, but it's not visible yet.

"Rokoa, what kind of firepower do you have?"
>"A pistol, a tear gas grenade, and my night stick."

I have a single pistol.
No. 615436 ID: 742b4a

You're going out that window, before or after the copter gets here. Bring the fat cat.
No. 615437 ID: 5f402f

Disadvantage of tear gas is neither of you have masks. It could slow down the guards if you can get the grenade threw when the door opens, but you run the risk of hitting yourselves. And even if you don't immediately, your enemy isn't that far away, it'll spread.

...still, it's better than standing there and getting shot to pieces.

>I'd rather be dead than be in the same world as them!
Advise Rokoa to be careful with the prisoner, as he's liable to do something suicidally stupid in our exfiltration attempt. We need him alive, whether he likes it or not. (Cuff him, too, if we have them. You can Mirandize him in the chopper).

*look at the door* Use of force is authorized.

>jumping out a window
The jet pack isn't looking so silly now, is it. Almost would have been worth lugging around, if you'd had the fuel.

>single pistol, jumping from a window into a helicopter
Polo, I sure hope you've trained to be as good a shot and acrobat in this universe as we'd expect.
No. 615440 ID: 742b4a

I suppose you could push the desk up to the door for further reinforcement. Just stay on either side of the desk while doing so and the gunfire won't reach you. Wood makes shitty cover anyway, you may as well be out in the open.
No. 615441 ID: 5762bc

Have her tear gas the hallway once a hole opens up big enough to toss it through. You use your pistol to shoot out the window before the helicopter is in your field of fire.

Then cuff the ceo to Rokoa and jump for it. Do not bother getting into a firefight with the guards. Use your pistols just to blow out the window and maybe keep the guards suppressed until you can jump.
No. 615456 ID: 602cd8
File 141955486810.png - (175.36KB , 800x800 , 21.png )

>You're going out that window, before or after the copter gets here.
Given we are at least 30 floors high, I would prefer this to be after the copter is present.

>The jet pack isn't looking so silly now, is it. Almost would have been worth lugging around, if you'd had the fuel.
No, but it would involve leaving Rokoa to her own devices.

Regardless, knowing what we're dealing with now, I will have us both be significantly more equipped than we currently are.

>Wood makes shitty cover anyway
Thankfully, this is a very thick wood. It'll be chipped away steadily, but it will provide a moment of protection.

Rokoa starts sliding the desk over near the window, and I grab Rokoa's handcuffs to fasten Oilrigger's wrists together. I believe Rokoa would be better off handling him normally than having him attached at a wrist.

"If you throw the tear gas, make sure you don't mess it up." I tell her.

The door bursts open. The helicopter isn't there yet, but its ladder shows up right as Rokoa tosses the tear gas down.

>"Get on!" I hear on Rokoa's communicator.
"Cover me."
No. 615457 ID: 602cd8
File 141955487565.png - (154.56KB , 800x800 , 22.png )

I don't have a good weapon for suppressing, but I occasionally shoot the doors when I see anyone try to poke their head through. Rokoa puts a bullet through the glass as she runs through it, leaping out with Oilrigger in tow. I don't have the freedom to look to see if she made it.

I hear the guards coughing on the other side, but I see something black go for the tear gas. A heef. I shoot at it, and I must hit, as it squawks loudly. But not hard enough. It gets to the tear gas grenade fine without any tear ducts to hinder it, and goes to toss it back at me.
No. 615458 ID: 602cd8
File 141955488215.png - (210.14KB , 800x800 , 23.png )

"Come on!" Rokoa shouts at me.

I turn, and leap out of the window. It's close enough that I can make it easily.

"Go, go!"
No. 615459 ID: 602cd8
File 141955488977.png - (168.02KB , 800x800 , 24.png )

The helicopter takes off. We still have people firing on us, but the helicopter turns around the corner of the building before any of us get hit.

"Looks like we're following their trail after all." says Rokoa. "Permission to beat the shit out of this guy?"
No. 615460 ID: b00646

Give him a taste.

If he doesn't talk, give him a meal.
No. 615461 ID: bdfc23

Why don't you show him the view below and have Rokoa sit on him to make sure he doesn't try to jump out if he is feeling suicidal.
No. 615463 ID: 5f402f

>Permission to beat the shit out of this guy?

Pelios rozu Oilrigger, you are under arrest for conspiracy, accessory to grand theft, impeding an official investigation, resisting arrest, attempted assault on a police officer, and attempted assault on a federal agent.

Also for suspicion of unlawful environmental damage.

My patience is thin, and you are very likely to be subject to a field questioning. I suggest you start talking before I let her off her leash. Or if you don't wish to be held somewhere where the people you're so afraid of can find you.

As soon as we're clear of the jamming, call this in. I want that factory shut down, and our assailants arrested if we can get troops in there before they flee.
No. 615470 ID: 742b4a

Torture is counter-productive. Interrogate him.
No. 615474 ID: 602cd8
File 141955799260.png - (154.54KB , 800x800 , 25.png )

>Torture is counter-productive.
Given we can tell when they are just telling us what we want to hear, torture is actually far more effective on neumono than aliens. It is, however, still just as unethical and monstrous. Nonetheless, I am not above threats.

He is almost certainly suicidal, given his actions and words, so I will refrain from making vague threats on his life as well.

"Denied, but barely. Pelios, you are under arrest, and I say that as a gigantic understatement. You will be given the laundry list of offenses soon. Rokoa, please talk him into spilling everything. Pelios, if you continue withholding information, I will let Rokoa give you a taste of what she wants to do. If you continue after that, she'll give you a meal."

We leave the jammer field, leaving a terrified CEO and Rokoa, who is exercising an alarming amount of willpower to not throw him out of the helicopter. I pull out my phone.

"Polo to operator."
>"Hello." Katzati says. "We just got a report there was a shooting at Aprio Enterprises - are you alright?"
"Yes. We're leaving, and the CEO is coming with us. We will make a big report. Right now, I want a lockdown on Aprio's tower, and scrub it clean from top to bottom. There are armed forces inside, bring in the military if you have to. The CAI should also be involved."
"I want similar action taken on their branches. Put it at the highest priority, I have reason to believe they are going to destroy any evidence if they haven't already."
>"Alright... I'm getting the word you're to return back to the police HQ and give a full report.

If this doesn't get more agents on the case, I don't know what will.

"I'm on the way. In the meanwhile, I would like to be issued new equipment for firefights."
>"What gear would you like?"

I can issue gear for myself and any active partners. I don't like her methods, but I can't deny that there are not many people I could rely on more than her to not panic, so I may wish to give her weaponry as well. I can also order specialized utility gear if need be.
No. 615476 ID: b00646

Get some bioarmor you can keep under a uniform, and a stronger one for Rokoa, Use her as a meat shield.

Also, suggesting a remote device for her suit to turn it off or something.
No. 615481 ID: 5f402f

>"What gear would you like?"
Well, we're upgrading this from grand theft to an apparent conspiracy people are willing to kill over.

Bioarmor and/or bulletproof vests would see appropriate. Hardened coms would be nice, after we got jammed out at the last location. Helmets, cops always have helmets, right? Getting stuff in your eyes won't be a problem, then.

Weapon-wise, if you're expecting to be attacked, you want more than a sidearm. Some kind of rifle. (Probably not a sniper though, since this is more a direct confrontation than a sneaking mission, and you're less likely to have been trained with one as a cop). For melee you might want you own night stick, or a taser of some kind.

(...if we're going to go all out secret agent, I wouldn't mind stuff like a rocket pack or hidden grappling hooks or secret laser pens if any of it actually worked. The last one wasn't very practical. I guess we could see what toys M Az tries to foist on us?).

Rokoa's obviously going to be able to carry a big gun, no idea what she's trained with, though. Or can be trusted with. Still, we're probably going to need the firepower.

A few grenades of various types couldn't hurt, either (teargas, flashbang, smoke?).
No. 615486 ID: 8f01e8

Rifle for Polo, shotgun for Rokoa, bulletproof filter masks that include flash protection, at least two each of three or four different kinds of grenades (Flashbang? Glue? Some kind of gas that works on heef? Whatever the armory guys can come up with, really), and a slab of composite-laminate armor big enough to hide behind, fitted with straps so Rokoa can carry it like a backpack.
No. 615490 ID: 400a57

We need a weapon better than just some rinkydink pistol, especially if we're going to be up against trained, armed guards. We'll want it easily concealable, though. Something like a Micro-Uzi? Or any variety of small automatic guns. If you have the training I think you do a collapseable/easily assembeled rifle may be good as well. I understand those can be made to fit in something like a briefcase, and perhaps in this magic spacefuture, they can be made even smaller?
No. 615491 ID: 742b4a

Heavy machine gun for Rokoa. Grenades for both. Armor for both. Assault rifle for you, it's multi-purpose. Some effective close-range weapon for both as well.

Also, better side-arms than pistols. Plasma pistols maybe?
No. 615492 ID: 5762bc

Bioarmor for the both of you for starters. Then some weaponry suitable for the threat level.

You know what weapon will suit you of course but you should ask Rokoa what she wants. Some better sidearms for the both of you and a few things you can hide easily.
No. 615499 ID: b308c0

A tranquilizer gun for you and a rocket launcher for Rokoa.
No. 615536 ID: 602cd8
File 141958510138.png - (106.38KB , 800x800 , 26.png )

"Katzati, do we have any powerful bioarmors that can be deactivated?"
>"We have an experimental bio armor. It's a bit weak since adding the deactivation signals takes up some room, but it can be disabled by speaking a very specific phrase. And it's still on par with a normal 70%. It does need an 80% BAAT score to be authorized, but if you want to use it, I think we'd like the chance to field test it at this stage."
"Rokoa, what's your BAAT?"
"93. Fuckin' internal structure of mine fucked up the rest of my score." she's rather bitter about that, but I have never heard of a 93 before.
"Get me one of those."
"Wait a sec, what's this about being deactivated?"
>"Rokoa, you are following me on a mission that involves a predator. I don't need a neumono multiple times my size wearing elite bioarmor trying to kill me."
"If it gets me, it's gonna get you."
"No. I am immune to predators."
"Hahaha, you - wait, you actually think you are, huh?"
"I am."
"I've resisted predators before."
"Then if you resist this one, I won't need to deactivate your model. Don't complain, it's still a strong model, just with assurance for this."
"Alright, alright."

Rokoa is, of course, wondering what I've got that makes me immune to predators. My silence is largely a secret, and I only put it on if I either am unseen, or if absolutely necessary.

On top of Rokoa's bio armor, I order a partial 30% bioarmor for myself. I get a set of Elite Police Armor for each of us with a heavy armored version for Rokoa, with bulletproof aspects and sealed helmets for gasses. A sniper rifle and uzi for myself, a machine gun and shotgun for Rokoa. I also get a plasma pistol for each of us. For melee, I get a taser for each of us as well. As for utility, I get a grappling hook. It isn't easily concealable, but it will work.

I grab two of each frag grenade and tear gas, while Rokoa gets two of each of those on top of one sleeper gas grenade, flashbang, and smoke. The sleeper gas will work on anyone except select Mikliks.

The sniper rifle can be disassembled to fit in a briefcase as need be, and it need not have a scope if I wish to use it as a lighter, mid range option.

And of course, a backpack Rokoa can wear with her armor to hold much of this.

>"These are expensive!" says Katzati. "We'll arrange for it, though, just in case you do go out in the field anymore where you might be in danger."
"We most likely will be, so I want at least the bioarmor delivered so that we can begin binding to it immediately. And if it's going to take that long, throw in a tranquilizer gun for me and a rocket launcher for Rokoa."
>"I think we can do that."
"Wait, can you use a rocket launcher, Rokoa?"
"Goddamn right I can! Throw in a plasma sword, too."

>Trained as a cop
Not quite. Although much of my training overlaps with law enforcement, of course, I have been been an actual cop. I do have specialized weapons training, especially with snipers.
No. 615537 ID: 602cd8
File 141958511432.png - (147.06KB , 800x800 , 27.png )

Upon returning to police HQ, we find out bioarmor delivered already. Our report is delivered as we bind to it.It takes awhile, of course, given that attempting to murder a police officer and UDA is considered a Big Deal. Rokoa gives what information was given to her, and Pelios is handed to another interrogator while Rokoa is busy.

It works out, as it gives our CEO more time to collect himself and sing. I get the impression from the surrounding hive that the person interrogating him is another UDA agent, and is a specialist.

If we wanted to, we could go home for the day given what transpired. However, Az would not appreciate me slacking off just because bullets went by my cheek. The police hive feels similar to Rokoa, I bet. And neither of us have any inclination to take time off in the first place, not when we have this amount of momentum.

So we wait and collect ourselves, waiting for further instruction while our bio armor binding is supervised.

>"Polo and Rokoa, please come to briefing room C." It's Katzati's voice. I expect she came here to give us orders in person.
No. 615538 ID: 602cd8
File 141958515020.png - (201.88KB , 800x800 , 28.png )

2:34 PM, Police HQ Briefing Room

>"Hi! Since you're all here, we can start. I've got the okay from Az to send a couple more agents. Rokann and Marra here are field agents, they can also go to places that are considered dangerous. Lucera is an office agent, and is going to act as head investigator for this case from now on. He's the one who interrogated Pelios. Please tell us what you learned."
>"Thank you." says Lucera. "It looks like Pelios didn't like being blackmailed too much, and hired a couple different PIs, supposedly the best, to try to find out who was behind it. Apparently, at least one was partially successful. Unfortunately, it would have been better for Pelios if it were an utter failure. He didn't learn the mastermind behind it, but he did learn about two of the higher ups and a list of lower downs - not enough to do anything about the blackmailing personally, but enough to be on a hitlist if things went bad. And our mastermind's hiccup with leaving that jammer case at the scene is what went bad. We've been trying to find the PIs. They're good enough, it seems, to have had the eyes to figure out what was happening, and lay low. We can't find them. Hopefully we can find them before our mastermind. Let me go over the names of the people involved so far. Katzati, if you will."
No. 615539 ID: 602cd8
File 141958517135.png - (106.23KB , 800x800 , 29.png )

Katzati turns on the big screen, and Lucera continues.

>"Our mastermind at the top. Suspected underground network led by the Salikai, but we have no confirmation of this. Whether or not it's an organization or a single individual, we have no current name to attach to him, and therefore have dubbed the entity responsible as 'the Grinch', after human legend of a similar heist in the past."
"The humans had this happen to them before?"
>"Yes. The stories say that the end of the story is that the humans never hunted down the grinch, instead, they had a wonderful christmas even without presents. The Grinch, realizing the error of his ways, returned the presents. However, we are neumono, and our society has become far too materialistic to ever forgive this, nor will our hives band together and sing songs. Even if we did, I highly doubt that our Grinch will return anything with any good will. Therefore, we are going to hunt down the Grinch and bring him to justice. Now, let me cover the PIs. Their names are Itcher and his assistant, Jessica. Jessica is presumed with him, wherever that is. The other one is Pilon. Ex-cop, from this station."

Rokoa gets a sour feeling, thinking of Pilon. The rest of the police officers get the same feeling in turn. A rogue, I'm guessing.

>"And the criminals we do know." Lucera continues. "Whiskers. We all know of her, here. Master thief, perfect for grand heists like this. Normally she works alone, but something must have tempted - or forced - her to cooperate with the Grinch. Next, we have Hok. Whiskers deals with large scale operations. Hok, however, specializes in single, large targets. If he is under the Grinch's umbrella, then I suspect there is a major target they're after. Pelios doesn't know much about them, unfortunately, it was merely one of his PIs making their report to show that Pelios had fallen under some heavy criminal activity. I am going to see what I can find about all of these people, but our best bet is to search for the PIs at the moment. One or both of them were able to find out evidence of Hok and Whisker's involvement. If they can find that much, they may be able to help find them. As for the lower downs, we've got a small list of people that were involved, if only as mercenaries. These are the ones that Polo and Rokoa ran into while approaching Pelios. We've apprehended nearly all of them in the lockdown. They're grunts. We don't expect to learn much, but we're putting a lot of resources into questioning every last one of them. I'll let all of you know if I find something that concerns you, but I want you four to separate into two teams and pursue the last known location of each PI. Which one you choose is up to you."
No. 615553 ID: 5f402f

>deactivate-able bioarmor
If she got controlled and you turned off her bioarmor, you'd still have a neumono several times your size, armed with guns and some degree of conventional armor trying to kill you.

Fantastic face Mara is making, there. Doesn't seem very happy.

>which PI track down
We won't earn any love from Rokoa for this choice, but the logical option is to go after Pilon. If she knew him, and understands anything about him at all, that gives us better odds of finding him.

Unless the rogue-hate is so strong it'll actively impede your ability to search or control her, at all. You'll have to judge from how intense the empathy you picked up, was.
No. 615559 ID: b308c0

These PIs are going to be hunted down sooner or later, so you should personally track down the more defenseless looking ones and leave the other to Marra and Rokann.

Since one is an ex-cop, and the other two are a sheep with a hat and his neumono lady friend, it would probably be best to track down Itcher and Jessica before they wind up at the bottom of a river.
No. 615574 ID: 5762bc

Pilon used to be a police officer so can probably handle himself. We should look for Itcher and Jess before someone nasty finds them.
No. 615577 ID: bb78f2

Wouldn't the CAI be the easiest to find? They're nuts and occasionally betray information just in mere conversation, we could convince it to turn traitor if it's entertaining enough and it'll give us leads.
No. 615597 ID: 0ee153

They're also unpredictable and dangerous. No thanks.

Itcher and Jess it is.
No. 615634 ID: 602cd8
File 141962602093.png - (115.62KB , 800x800 , 30.png )

>Wouldn't the CAI be the easiest to find?
I haven't gotten any word that we've found CAI activity let alone traced it back to the source, only that it's relatively obvious a CAI has been used.

"We'll go after Jess. I would prefer the Pilon searchers to not have a personal issue with him. Tell me about Itcher and Jessica."
>"Itcher, sometimes known as 'Baby Head'." Lucera starts explaining. "He used to be an enforcer for the mafia. Not so much the muscle, but rather making sure all the bolts in the ship were down tight. We took down his kingpin some years ago, but we had nothing on some of his followers, Itcher included. So he got off scot free, even though we're confident he has broken enough laws to last a lifetime in jail. He took up a private eye job, saying he was sick of his sketchy lifestyle. As for Jessica, nicknamed Jess, she came to him as a client asking for help finding a stalker of hers. For safety, she stayed at Itcher's place while he was on the job, and helped him nab the crook. Apparently she never left.
>"We might've pulled a kingpin off the streets, but the gang had enough string to hold itself together, even if Itcher got an out. We still think he had underground contacts with them. That's where your primary lead is. We have the names of some of his old contacts. Jules, a Pomi that worked security around some store fronts, worked with him a lot. Malsen, a belenosian, acted as one of his bodyguards much of the time. Then Lamarra, a neumono. Didn't work with Itcher as much as the other two, but he was the kingpin's right hand man. Biggest target we had nothing on, and it wouldn't surprise me if he kept tabs on Itcher. We can find where all of them are, but they're all in District J, which we all know is the biggest crimezone in the city. Be as subtle as you can be, but we'll keep backup close to you at all times just in case."
No. 615635 ID: 742b4a

Uh oh.

Well, we'll give it a shot, anyway.
No. 615636 ID: ea0ad9

Whiskers and Hok working for the same Mastermind? Whiskers doesn't seem the sort to work under anybody, and only people with the highest levels of patience would employee a wildcard like Hok, given his record.
>Normally she works alone, but something must have tempted - or forced - her to cooperate with the Grinch.
That's likely a good call.
>Hok, however, specializes in single, large targets. If he is under the Grinch's umbrella, then I suspect there is a major target they're after.
Hmm. If they had need of Hok's services, then that would likely show something to attract Whiskers into service. Her track record will likely point to her betraying The Grinch, but whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is questionable.
>Pilon, probably a rogue
Ask Rokoa about this. Not in a direct way, but ask what she would do if she found him.
No. 615637 ID: 5f402f

That's going to conflict somewhat with running around in full riot gear, covered in weapons. People anywhere are going tot look at those outfits and know something's up. And ex-mobsters aren't going to be happy seeing police armed to the teeth showing up.

...then again, ex-mobsters won't be happy to see a police uniform at all, so maybe there's no winning here.
No. 615638 ID: ea0ad9

Given Rokoa's "Corrupted" empathy, any Neumono there will probably know these aren't proper police.
No. 615639 ID: 5f402f

The mobsters aren't all monos, by a long shot. Appearances will still matter, to some extent.

...and there's nothing 'corrupted' about it.
No. 615640 ID: 60700b

Since this is an alternate universe, >>615639 is likely correct.
No. 615770 ID: 602cd8
File 141965821072.png - (87.04KB , 800x800 , 31.png )

>Rokoa's empathy
It is intense and unpleasant to be around. Having authority over her is the only salvation to this.

>That's going to conflict somewhat with running around in full riot gear, covered in weapons.
We won't necessarily have to wear those wherever we go. Of course, if we do get in a shootout again, they won't do much good in a car, but for simply asking around, we shouldn't need them.

"Rokoa, what would you do if you found Pilon?"
>"Give him a good sock in the face."
"We'll continue searching for Itcher."

Jules is currently presumed to be at home. Malsen is making rounds around a neighborhood, collecting money. Lamarra is in his office in an office above a casino.

I'll have to decide which one to pursue first. Rokoa and I will bring a car to hold our belongings, but I must also decide what level of gear to bring on hand to whichever target I choose.
No. 615775 ID: 5f402f

Jules, first. I doubt he's going to try and kill us in his home, and he's in a position to have kept tabs on them.

No need to bring in the big guns or outer armor, probably.
No. 615794 ID: 602cd8
File 141966184606.png - (154.96KB , 800x800 , 32.png )

I let Lucera and Katzati know where we're going.

"Let's go, Rokoa."
"We taking the normal wheel or the short wheels?"
"... you drive."

We end up well out of downtown, so we don't get that backup as mentioned.

"Alright. Jules isn't reported to be any hard criminal, we're just going to have some questions." I tell Rokoa.
"We'll see."

Knock Knock

>"... ah - " Jules starts, as I show him my badge.
>"Who is it?" A woman's voice in the background interrupts me before I can introduce myself. Most likely his wife.
>"... just a couple of friends, actually!"
>"Well, invite them in!"
>"I'll cooperate. Just play along, for the sake of my wife, please."
No. 615795 ID: 742b4a

Oh my god fine. Engage in casual conversation, and ask at some point if he's seen Itcher and Jessica around.
No. 615796 ID: 5f402f

>Just play along
Go ahead and play along. If it gets us what we want quickly and easily, there's not reason to cause us problems. (We probably can't accept that invitation to come in, since then the wife would see our uniforms).

We're searching for another 'friend'. Do you know where Itcher is? We've heard he might be in some trouble, and we're concerned for him.
No. 615798 ID: d90668

Go ahead and act like some friendly work buddies. Keep your badges out of sight and go with the flow.
No. 615800 ID: bb78f2

Oh... a family man.
Shit. If he knows something, we could put innocents in danger.
No. 615803 ID: b308c0

Okay Polo, act casual, be a bit more friendly, maybe smile? Rokoa... don't smile.

Tell them you don't want to be a bother and just want to know if he's seen Itcher. Try not to get seated down otherwise you might have snacks and refreshments headed your way.
No. 615804 ID: bdfc23

Rokoa: Don't buy it, could be a trap.
No. 615810 ID: 602cd8
File 141966620438.png - (169.38KB , 800x800 , 33.png )

"Alright. Tell us how you've been. Rokoa, wipe that grin off your face. Or at least lose the teeth."
>"Ah, good, good. I just got a raise recently, so I've been able to save more money."
>"Hello, h -- wait, cops?" Even if I put my badge away, Rokoa is still obviously in uniform, and I doubt she has civilian clothes underneath.
"We are, but we've worked with Jules before. Our visit isn't entirely recreational, though. Jules isn't in any trouble, but we were hoping he has any info on Itcher's whereabouts."
>"Oh... oh, that's a relief." She's visibly more relaxed. I'm gathering she doesn't like Jules' relation to the mafia. "If you say it's not entirely recreational then, I assume it's at least partially so! Please, sit down. Would either of you care for some tea or coffee? Er, non caffienated, of course."

Jules himself clearly knows who Itcher is, but he's not quick to answer. He looks to be thinking. Rokoa's not liking this one bit. She gives me the impression she thinks it's a trap, but I also get the impression she doesn't like dealing with things that aren't neumono.
No. 615816 ID: bdfc23

Rokoa: Offer to help with making tea/coffee while polo talks to Jules.
Polo: Talk to Jules.
No. 615817 ID: 5f402f

>She gives me the impression she thinks it's a trap, but I also get the impression she doesn't like dealing with things that aren't neumono
If you can count on her picking up your thoughts at all: this would make a pretty poor trap, unless he was perfectly happy to get his family killed in the crossfire.

And dealing with them this way is likely to be a lot faster than the alternative.
No. 615820 ID: d90668

Watching you two try to force normal smiles is hilarious by the way.

I like the idea of sending Rokoa off to help with drinks. She can watch for poison or ninjas in the kitchen while you chat with Jules.

As for being a trap just keep a eye out. Someone else could be watching Jules place to see if anyone comes asking for Itcher. So any traps or ambushes would probably be from a third party who is also looking for Itcher and Jess.
No. 615835 ID: 602cd8
File 141967223937.png - (103.10KB , 800x800 , 34.png )

I, of course, don't think this is a trap. I can't rule it out, so I'll remain on my toes.

"Rokoa likes her coffee a certain way, but we would appreciate it."
"Yeah. Lemme help."
>"Well, if you insist, but don't let me get in the way!"

I shuffle Jules off to the side, and he leads me to a small alcove at the edge of the house away from any windows.

"Do you know anything about the whereabouts of Itcher?"
>"I'm sorry, but I don't have that information."

He starts performing sign language at me.

There are audio bugs in the house. You aren't the first to ask me about that. Keep talking.

"Do you know of anyone that does?"
>"He didn't keep contact with many, and the ones that did wouldn't like to share they keep in contact."

You also had a car following you on the way over. It had at least 3 people inside.

"I'd like to hear of any hunches about who he worked closest with."
>"Hickory and Ressi did some routes with him, I heard. I can't vouch for their knowledge, though."'

Lamarra knows, but you're going to have a bad time trying to get the information out. If those guys find out we helped the cops when we could have helped them, we'll be in danger. My family, as well.
No. 615836 ID: d90668

Ask him whats the deal with Itcher and Jess. Should be a simple question he can answer while you sign back.

In sign language ask if he wants protection for his family. Tell him that the situation has already begun to spiral out of hand and they will most likely be after him soon anyways. Mention that you picked up one of the big players and anyone with any info will be a target to silence now.
No. 615838 ID: 5f402f

Handy that you bothered to learn sign language. Not sure if you can reply in kind, but it would make raising sensitive topics (like protection) possible.

Well, we're going to have to 'discover' our tail at some point after this, so we can deal with them.

Big problem is we can't put his family in the line of fire, and you're not geared up to deal with things if your tail attacks this house. We can't immediately put them in protective custody, either, without tipping our hand.

Which means our immediate objective is to learn what we can and leave safely, then figure out how to get the innocents to safety.

...be real handy if our CAI could hack the bugs or something.

>Hickory and Ressi did some routes with him, I heard. I can't vouch for their knowledge, though.
I understand. Nothing else?
No. 615844 ID: 602cd8
File 141967639563.png - (106.96KB , 800x800 , 35.png )

>Be real handy if our CAI could hack the bugs or something.
I have lots of resources I can call in, but CAI activity that requires operation beyond its physical base requires high authorization. Most of its activity is looking at information spoonfed to it after being scrubbed by normal algorithms. The reason for this is that if it goes outside of its base, it is subject to contact with other CAIs. In this case, the Grinch's CAI. It is extremely likely they would both destroy each other simultaneously, less likely that one would successfully and safely eliminate the other. We have a backup in the worst case, of course, but we are going to attempt to go through this case without needing the CAIs to make contact.

The good news is that since we are on such high alert, the enemy CAI is less likely to present itself in the open from now on for the exact same reason, similar to the mutually assured destruction that prevents countries from nuking other countries out of fear of being nuked themselves.

"Alright. Just tell me about Itcher then, specifically his partnership with Jess."
>"Haa, that's a lot of speculation. Some say Jessica just invited herself in after her case was fulfilled, and Itcher didn't have the heart to kick her out. Some say she sleeps with the guy to pay rent. Not many say that, since Itcher did make a habit of punching the people that said that. Others say they're lovers. I'm not gonna say they are, but Itcher didn't punch as many people for saying that as he did about the ass rent, and I'd sure have trouble believing that a girl like that hangs around so close to a guy like that, without anything going on. But I guess it's also possible their relationship is perfectly professional. Itcher always was a bit of a slouch, and he could use someone to pick up after him."

I return the sign language.
Things regarding Itcher have been sliding downhill. We can offer protection until you no longer need it.
>I'm sorry, I don't know the mitten-dialect of sign language. Let me get you a pen and paper.

I write the same thing, convoluting our communications.

>That would be appreciated. My wife won't like this at all, and I'm hoping we can have house protection rather than be put in protective custody.

>"Coffee's almost done!" I hear Jules' wife call out.

We may not be able to stay long. Putting any protection on them immediately may tip our hand, but at the same time, as soon as we leave here, the danger to this household is going to skyrocket. I will at least arrange for protection of either kind in advance, and wait for my word until I make a decision.
No. 615845 ID: 602cd8
File 141967641093.png - (98.12KB , 800x800 , 36.png )

No. 615846 ID: b00646

Something's up, you've been made, prepare for an attack
No. 615849 ID: d90668

Woops you got company incoming. Try to keep the conversation going so that anyone listening in does not realize you know they are coming yet. But show your lack of signal to Jules and get to the kitchen to show Rokoa.

Odds are you have at least 3 incoming shortly so get the civilians somewhere reinforced if possible and get ready for a fight.
No. 615854 ID: bdfc23

Check your email, prepare for attack, that email message may be important.
No. 615855 ID: 81960a

Would it be possible to fetch some of the car's contents before they're here?
No. 615859 ID: 8f01e8

Tell Rokoa to go get something from the car. Don't specify out loud exactly what. Empathically project the feeling of being surrounded by dangerous things just out of sight, mixed with greed.

>We won't necessarily have to wear those wherever we go. Of course, if we do get in a shootout again, they won't do much good in a car, but for simply asking around, we shouldn't need them.

Asking around is all you've done so far, and people started shooting anyway! Next interview, just wear the stuff openly from the outset.
No. 615860 ID: 81960a

Tell her to fetch the biscuits she brought "because you aren't gonna dig up her backpack to find them." (while showing her the phone) She'll get the message and fetch the whole backpack.
No. 615872 ID: bb78f2

How many times are you going to get in a fight today over fucking Christmas presents?
Christ man, even after that last fight I still considered these guy's mostly cat burglars. UI wish we were dealing with cat burglars. The original Grinch was a cat burglar.
Is there a wired phone ANYWHERE nearby? I imagine with the constant threat of cyberwarfare, landlines are commonly available.
No. 615878 ID: 742b4a

Just silently walk out and get to the car, get your gear.
No. 615882 ID: ea0ad9

Well, given the car following you, they likely have the household on jammer now. Don't attempt to force anything through, as they'll probably catch it, and learn what your message is. There aren't really efficient tips you can give out without announcing your real intention, and if they're paranoid enough to jam your gear, they'll be paranoid enough to suspect your messages to have a secret meaning, anyways.

Thank Jules for his help, outloud, and as well for inviting you in (or, at least, his wife did) for a recreational visit, and write that you might need to make true on that protection sooner than you thought.
No. 615895 ID: 5f402f

Great, someone is jamming the signal, again. Unless there's just really shitty cell coverage, here.

Immediate priority: we do not want to be attacked in this home. It'll be very hard to keep the civilians safe. ...although we can't afford to run, either, as they could be silenced as soon as we're away from them.

Our best bet is to assume the jamming is preventative- they're taking the risk you might notice you're being jammed because they want to be certain you can't call it in if he tells you something. They're not risking you being faster on the dial than they can throw the switch. If that's true, we'll be able to tell because the jamming will switch off after you leave the house without having heard any evidence.

If the jamming doesn't turn out, that means they've decided to kill you, of course.
No. 615947 ID: 602cd8
File 141971731362.png - (141.59KB , 800x800 , 37.png )

>Check your email
Katzati sent a message saying that Rokann and Marra got in a fight. They're fine, but warns us to be careful. They'll send a single police car for us just in case. That was 4 minutes ago.

"I'd like to continue talking, but let me get that coffee, first."
>"Sure thing."

I show him my cell phone with no signal, while I write down that I should try to get protection here ASAP. He squints his eyes.

Rokoa senses my alarm, at least, at comes around the corner.

>"What's up?"
"Get the biscuits we left in the car." I say. She picks up that I mean grab the firepower.
No. 615948 ID: 602cd8
File 141971731917.png - (150.94KB , 800x800 , 38.png )

>"Hey, dear?" Jules asks to his wife, who followed Rokoa to us. "Just leave the coffee on the counter for them, they have to talk something over for just a moment. Could you follow me for a moment?"
>"Uhm, sure, what's going on?"
>"They're asking for some documents that I may want help finding."
>"Oh, sure."

Jules turns to me while they leave, frantically gesturing.

>I put panic room. 10 minutes before my kids. Wait 30 second, landline kitchen.
No. 615949 ID: 602cd8
File 141971734502.png - (213.45KB , 800x800 , 39.png )

I hear Jules' wife cry out some alarm, and take that as my cue to pick up the phone. I barely even bother. Unsurprisingly, the phone line is dead. These guys are working fast.

Rokoa is returning from the car, with all the gear she could carry.
No. 615950 ID: bdfc23

Get down, something is in those bushes, or at least move very quickly away from the window.
No. 615951 ID: 5f402f

Right, looks like you're in for another fight.

Drop the phone, draw your service weapon, and deploy the helmet on your bioarmor. Then we need to glance quick to see if they made it to the panic room, of if someone's already inside.

If the apparent is clear, we want to get line of sight on Rokoa, so we can cover her approach.

Objective is probably to hold out for backup while protecting the witness and civies.
No. 615954 ID: d90668

Drop the phone and get away from any windows. Then double check to make sure all of the family got inside the panic room if you can.

Then look over the layout of the house and watch any entrances.
No. 615967 ID: 602cd8
File 141972158791.png - (225.57KB , 1022x800 , 40.png )

Rokoa returns quickly. Thankfully, we didn't park far, and they may not have been able to react in time to seeing Rokoa carry in more than a snack.

>Deploy the helmet on your bioarmor.
I got a partial bio armor that does not cover the head or hands. Perhaps I should have, however, given that Rokoa seems to have been able to stuff her bioarmor head part under her uniform without looking like she shoved some laundry down her neck.

I back out of the kitchen to get out of the way of any windows.

"Jules. You didn't get in the panic room."
>"I don't consider myself a civilian."
"Legally, you are."
>"... okay, the honest answer is that I would rather be in a firefight than deal with my angry wife right now."
"You weren't clear about your kids."
>"They come home in about 10 minutes from their after school activities."
"We have backup coming. Only one car was confirmed, but that was when I had reception. Since we're off the grid, we may have the cavalry show soon. Regardless, we're going to prepare for the worst case. Your phone is dead, and you have activity in your backyard."

Rokoa is getting her raid gear together, and I may want to do the same. Jules walks to a tv and turns it on, and starts skimming his security feeds.

>"Two mikliks in the rosebushes. The car I mentioned with 3 people is moving down the street towards us. By the way, my glass here is bulletproof, as are the walls. This isn't a regular house. I can kill the mikliks, if you give me the authority."
"Do you have a layout of the house?"
>"Yes. I've locked every door. Charges can blow them open if they go that extreme, but there's no way they can open the door, or make any entrance, without creating a lot of noise. There's a door in the back of the kitchen to the backyard, the garage, and the front door.
No. 615968 ID: 742b4a

Put your kit on.

Say that you'd like to capture one of them, preferably whoever seems to be in charge. But for now, yeah, just shoot whoever is shooting at us. Once there's only one left, or when backup arrives, tell them to surrender so we can maybe get one alive.
No. 615971 ID: 5f402f

>They come home in about 10 minutes from their after school activities
Hopefully they're smart enough not to get any closer if they hear gunshots. Or the school bus will be rerouted before they can get close.

>I can kill the mikliks, if you give me the authority
Consider yourself deputized. Use of force is authorized. The people looking for Itcher have already opened fire on law enforcement once, today.
No. 615973 ID: d90668

Remember that they can hear what you are saying right now. If you want to pull any tricks you had better do it now.

For instance you could tell him out loud that you are not about to involve a civilian and that he should escape with his family. Maybe show him a note saying to make up a story about a escape tunnel or something. Something that could divide there forces if they are listening in.

Otherwise deputize him and try to keep a few alive for interrogation later.
No. 615974 ID: bb78f2

Jules, honestly, I think one of us and you should head out to get your kids. I don't think they'll be safe wherever they are for long. Especially since, you know, they're listening. Not that they wouldn't know anyway. If we had communications, I'd just ask for increased police presence at the schools.
The other neumono should stay here to protect your wife.
I don't know Jules, they're your kids. We're at your disposal. We can stay and fight here, or we can do what I just suggested. He may also choose which neumono would go with them to fetch the kids. I'd suggest Rokoa stay, but who knows she may be great with kids.
No. 615975 ID: 5f402f

If Jules knows where those bugs are, now would be a good time to kill them.
No. 615982 ID: 602cd8
File 141972396936.png - (152.87KB , 800x800 , 41.png )

I start to write, but Jules shakes his head.
"I've got my own jammer that is blocking their bugs. We can talk."
"We don't want to introduce the kids to them. Can we intercept?"
>"That's too risky. If any of us leave the house, they'll most likely shoot us out in the open. They're still a ways away, and far safer than us, at least for a little while. If this drags out though, I'll ask one of you to make sure they stay safe."
"Alright. You're deputized, but we'd like to have one for questioning.

I put my kit on as swiftly as my training permits during this. I'm only halfway through when it sounds like a war in the front yard breaks out.

>"They're trying to gun us through the house." says Jules. He's nervous, as anyone who could die from a single bullet wound would be, but he seems to have faith in his security systems. "A miklik's looking like he's about to run up to the back door with an item in hand. The windows are one way visibility." he says, which was true. I couldn't see the inside of the house from the outside.
"If you can disable him, do it."

Jules picks up what looks like a video game controller, and the tv shows a visual of what looks to be a drone's camera flying out of the roof top.

"Goddamn, you sure prepared for this shit."
>"Yes. I am. I'm dropping a gas grenade that should work on mikliks. There, that shou-"

We can't hear a gunshot given the continous machine gun fire from outside of the house, but it's clear the drone was shot down. Jules flips on the security camera.

>"The miklik close to the door is knocked out, yeah. The other miklik... is gone. I don't have a visual on him, and I don't have any blind spots."

Rokoa and I are fully outfitted, now.
No. 615983 ID: 742b4a

No blind spots, even on the roof? Meh, could be a stealth suit or something anyway. Regardless the house should still be secure. Ask if he's got any spots that can open to shoot out of, and we'll shoot out of them.

...hmm, I wonder if you can open the door to gun down anyone near the front of the house, then grab the unconscious miklik to secure them.
No. 615986 ID: d90668

Does no blind spots include someone stuck to walls or ceilings? That or a stealth suit of some sort.

The longer you let them shoot at the house the longer they have to get better weaponry. I would take the fight to them.

Just make sure that Jules stays somewhere defensible. Do not want some miklik ninja sneaking in while you are fighting outside and offing him.
No. 615987 ID: c7afcd

Make sure to drink your coffee before it gets cold
No. 615988 ID: ea0ad9

Wouldn't surprise me if a Miklik had some sort of natural camouflage, but given how serious these people seem to be about taking you down, it's could very well be a stealth suit.
No. 615989 ID: 602cd8
File 141972514828.png - (200.87KB , 800x800 , 42.png )

>Drink your coffee before it gets cold
It still had steam coming out of it. I have time.

"No blind spots, including the roof, walls or ceilings?"
>"Everywhere. My security system costed a fortune."
"Do you have any spots we can shoot out of?"
>"Yes, the second floor. I can show you."
"Rokoa, take your machine gun and fire back on the car outside. I'm going to grab the unconscious miklik."

I go outside where the unconscious miklik was. I'm nervous about walking out in the open with the possibility that the other miklik simply has invisible technology, but I get a visual on the unconcious miklik. He was shot, and presumably killed.
No. 615990 ID: 742b4a

Keep an eye on him. Also, a gun trained on him. Could be faking it- and he probably is, considering the drone didn't shoot back as far as we know and I doubt there was any crossfire on an airborne target. Unless your backup is here? I don't think it is. Drag the knocked out miklik in.
No. 615993 ID: ea0ad9

The Grinch might have had his men kill the failure, as well.
No. 615994 ID: 602cd8
File 141972693748.png - (181.29KB , 800x800 , 43.png )

I keep a gun trained on him while watching my surroundings as best as I can as I go drag him in. If he's playing dead, he's doing a good job. There's no pulse, he's limp when I pinch him, and that doesn't look like fake blood to me.

I hear Rokoa's gunfire echo through the house, shortly followed by the sound of squealing tires and Rokoa stomping down the stairs.
No. 615995 ID: d90668

Get to tying the unconscious one up while Rokoa gives you the news.
No. 616002 ID: 742b4a

Oh wait, the knocked out miklik was killed, and the OTHER miklik is missing?

...squealing tires? Someone's gonna ram the house. Shut that door pronto and get behind cover in the direction of the tires.
No. 616023 ID: 602cd8
File 141973359103.png - (209.60KB , 800x800 , 44.png )

>Oh wait, the knocked out miklik was killed, and the OTHER miklik is missing?

I use a ziptie on this miklik's hands while I drag him further into the house, shutting the back door.

"Jules, this miklik may not be dead."
>"... may not be?"
"Yes, I think the other miklik shot him so we couldn't question him, and ran. Please tie him up the rest of the way."
>"Got it."
"Rokoa, talk to me!"
"They're fleeing! If the mikliks are out of the way, let's catch them!"
>"I can hear sirens." says Jules. "I'll be fine till your backup arrives, just go on!"
No. 616026 ID: d90668

Tell him to lock his ass somewhere secure in case the missing miklik is hiding somewhere waiting. We do not care how good his security system is if we come back and he is dead or missing we will be very unhappy.

Normally I would say fuck chasing and to stay here and secure the house. But with his security he should be safe if he does not try anything stupid.
No. 616028 ID: 5f402f

...we could chase them, but I kind of feel that making sure our witness and/or source stays alive is more important that gnabbing this particular batch of mercenaries. The baddies seem to have lots of them.

That said, I have no problem sic-ing Rokoa on them while we provide ranged support. You have a long rifle, and it's not like you could keep up with her in a dead run, anyways.
No. 616037 ID: 61e31a

Just remember that you are the one who has to tell his cute children that you ran off and did not protect daddy.

So make sure things are secure.
No. 616058 ID: 742b4a

Erm. If he got shot in the head he's dead. You probably look silly tying up a corpse.

Leg it. Try to intercept Jules' children while you're at it. They're in danger too.
No. 616075 ID: bdfc23

check the miklik for explosives, it may have explosives inside of it or something... oh jeez, I'd just leave it outside.
No. 616143 ID: bb78f2

Miklik's are more fragile than neumono, but more hardy than humans and Pomi's.
Emergency Medical attention might save his life, but he probably won't wake in time for Christmas. I don't know if Miklik's can suffer brain damage.

Still, an attempt should be made to save his life. He could recover from that brain shot. His pulse is likely too weak to feel. If we can't save him, we should be able to identify him if he's in any records.
No. 616144 ID: bb78f2

I meant permanent brain damage from surviving head wounds.
I know they can get suffer actual brain damage. I just don't know if their brain cells can come back if they do survive.
No. 616176 ID: 81960a

From which direction will the children come?
Did the car go in that direction, or the opposite?
No. 616195 ID: 602cd8
File 141976306632.png - (143.14KB , 800x800 , 45.png )

>You probably look silly tying up a corpse.
Most likely, but Miklik biology has astounding variances. Some miklik organs, brain included, are moved around. For all I know, his liver could have been shot.

>It's not like you could keep up with her in a dead run, anyways.
I'm assuming Rokoa plans on taking our vehicle, not run after a car on foot.

"No, Rokoa, stay here. I'd like to catch them, but if shit happens here in the next 60 seconds, I'm not going to be the one to tell Jules' kids that we ran out in a rush and didn't protect their dead father. And there's no telling that the other miklik didn't just hop the fence."

I think I hit a nerve. Rokoa comes close to picking me up by the everything and running out to the car with me.

"If you want to do anything, find his kids and make sure they're safe."
".... you're the boss." She coughs out the words, but she's in agreeance, somehow. "Yeah, I'm taking the car to find the kids. The bad guys are already a few blocks down by now, anyway."
"Jules, please explain to Rokoa where your kids approach from and what they look like. I just got a paranoid thought. I'm going to leave the miklik corpse outside. Jules, either stay indoors or go with Rokoa."
>"I'll go."
No. 616196 ID: 602cd8
File 141976307563.png - (208.59KB , 800x800 , 46.png )

Rokoa speeds off in one direction, and a couple of cop cars speed up to us from the other.

>"Hey, UDA! What's going on?" they ask, as I go back out to the front yard.

I give my report, asking them to secure the grounds. The jammer field also is lifted, an ambulance is summoned to attempt to resuscitate the Miklik, and Rokoa and Jules returns with the kids intact. They look surprisingly calm, all things considered. Realizing that I never got a visual on the car, I ask Jules to supply that information, adding the notion that the jammer may be inside of the car itself.

The miklik is confirmed unconscious and in a technically living state, but it's uncertain if he will last the hour, let alone wake up in time for christmas. We didn't apprehend any of the other criminals in question, but we did get a lead that Lamarra definitely knows where Itcher is. Ultimately, this situation had much more room to go worse, than room to go better. Jules seems to be suspiciously well experienced in house ambushes.

I also finally get the coffee. It's good. It would have been better if it was still hot.
No. 616199 ID: bdfc23

Get another cup of coffee, you earned it. Those kids are probably traumatized having to ride with Rokoa behind the wheel... I guess get a move on to the casino and find Lamarra.
No. 616218 ID: b308c0

Chat with the mister and missus, make sure they're doing okay. Make some casual talk.

"This happen often?"
No. 616219 ID: d90668

This went great honestly. You got some solid intel and helped protect someones family. I do not think anyone you could have caught would have given you a ton more.

Now that you can talk freely with Jules find out more about there old gang and whats going on if you can. Then we need to work on tracking down Lamarra.

Now remember if Lamarra does know where Itcher is he is in more danger than Jules was. The Grinch wants to tie up any loose ends so will be leaning on him pretty heavily shortly.
No. 616237 ID: dd4ed3

Oh man, the kids are adorable.

>Jules seems to be suspiciously well experienced in house ambushes.
Hazard of working for the mob, I guess.

>what do
Find out if there's anything we should know about or be prepared for when going to see Lamarra. Before heading out. Arrange protection and make sure local PD has this in hand.

...be sure to call this in, and tell HQ what you learned. And discretely confirm that the cops who showed up were the ones deployed. Probably paranoid, but I want to be sure they aren't just baddies in stolen uniforms.
No. 616242 ID: ea0ad9

>They look surprisingly calm, all things considered.
Three-fin (Four spike) does, but the two-fin (three spike) has dialated pupils. Wasn't that a sign of Pomi getting nervous?
No. 616258 ID: 602cd8
File 141980022117.png - (159.07KB , 800x800 , 47.png )

>Two-fin (three spike) has dialated pupils. Wasn't that a sign of Pomi getting nervous?
A Pomi's nervous lock up dialation generally leaves almost no whites of the eye visible, and they generally freeze up. This kid just has wide eyes.

I make sure that the PD has this in hand and will have heavy coverage of protection for this house. I'd say the kids can just stay home and relax for Christmas, but I don't think many Pomi celebrate it. Probably not this one, given the lack of ornamentation on the property. I also have the PD sent my report to HQ if it hasn't already, but since Lucera and Katzati have situated themselves inside of the PD HQ and are working closely with the case, working with my guys and the police are one and the same right now.

Jules' wife was also brought out of the panic room. She sounded flustered and rather angry from a distance, but by the time she comes to me, she's calmed down once again.

>"Ah, you two! I was told everything. Jules' might run with the wrong crowd, but he is the best husband! Please do not think badly of him!"
"I don't. He took your home defense extremely seriously. This situation could have been far more difficult, but he did more work than us. The government will pay for all damages to your house, if your insurance does not." The police might have some misgivings about protection on a mob employee, but thankfully Rokoa got some respect for Jules, and that'll be enough. "Does this happen often?"
>"No, this is first! Thank you for being here, anyway! Please, let me refill your coffee. Ah, no, I will refill your coffee and make dinner for all of us. Please, stay for awhile!"

Rokoa and I are capable of going to Lamarra, and we may want to confront him as soon as we can. Rokann and Marra are still trying to hound Malsen. On the other hand, we do need to eat at some point.
No. 616260 ID: 81960a

Ask if she can make some food to-go. Underline that time is a precious resource, and could mean life or death for Itcher and Jess.
No. 616271 ID: dd4ed3

>stay for dinner
Tell her you appreciate the offer, but you have leads to follow up on, and you'd prefer to get there ahead of the bad guys.
No. 616314 ID: 602cd8
File 141981586395.png - (208.85KB , 800x800 , 48.png )

"I appreciate the offer. If you have something that can be taken immediately to go then I will accept, but we must be going."
>"Ah... yes, it's only leftovers, but I won't keep you." says Jules' wife, of which I realize it is too late, and now awkward to ask for her name.

Rokoa and I pack up our gear and food, and get in the car.

"Let us keep our riot gear on, this time. I don't care if we make a scene walking through the casino." she says, like it's an order. "Also quit feeling so grumpy. You can sit up front, you just need the booster seat."
No. 616315 ID: dd4ed3

>You can sit up front, you just need the booster seat.
I'd prefer to pretend I have a chauffeur than that I am a child.

>go in full gear
*sigh* I would have to agree. With the way our opposition is escalating, I would not be surprised if they tried to silence Lamarra as well.

Keep your eye out for another tail.
No. 616329 ID: d90668

Oh just sit up front on a box already. Just because you are small does not make you any less awesome.

Also I would have at least Rokoa in full gear. This situation is nasty enough to warrant it. If anyone gives you crap it probably means you need to shoot them.
No. 616335 ID: 602cd8
File 141982149883.png - (134.97KB , 800x800 , 49.png )

>Oh just sit up front on a box already.
That is a safety hazard, and the reason why I am not up there already.

I take a look behind me, checking to make sure there's no similar car following me too far. I don't believe we're being tailed. They may have the amount of personnel available to tail us, but they can rightfully assume that we are on guard after that.

"I'll pretend you're my chauffeur."
"That's basically what this is."
"Anyways, I'm inclined to agree. Keep our faces visible, but our helmets close, at least while walking through the public areas. Put Katzati on the car phone... thanks. Katzati, give us blueprints to the casino layout. I'm thinking about a route directly to Lamarra's office that keeps us away from public view."
>"Certainly... yes, there's a backdoor you can take through the western alley." she continues giving directions through the place. "Should I alert the staff to your incoming presence?"
"No, at least, not yet. I'll keep my badge on hand."
"How are Rokann and Marra doing?"
>"They've found out that Malsen has ties to another mafia group that... has absolutely nothing to do with the grinch, but it's a good lead. They're still working on their report, so we'll be sending others if you need backup. Oh, Polo... please don't let Lucera see you eating with your issued gloves."
"Tell him that's why field agents don't treat office jockeys seriously."

There are some options for how we're going to do this operation. Rokoa and I can do this normally by going through the front door and asking for Lamarra, or I can arrive at the casino and arrange a call to the security to let us through all the way to Lamarra's office without intervention.
No. 616336 ID: 3c2443

Only now do I realize exactly what this is.

Polo and Rokoa: Together, Fighting Crime, in a Christmas special.

Why it took several days to sink in, I have no idea.
No. 616339 ID: dd4ed3

I'd show up at the back door, and then have your people call you in. We want to try and reduce the chance we're seen entering this place, but at the same time, we don't want to give them any advance warning in case Lamarra would rather scram than meet with us.
No. 616345 ID: 687279

Take the side entrance. No reason to alarm the customers.
No. 616347 ID: d90668

Go in the back way to avoid alarming anyone. Your badge will get you through a bunch but have Katzati ready to call security as soon as you get to the door.
No. 616363 ID: 602cd8
File 141982745785.png - (178.81KB , 800x800 , 50.png )

"... yeah. Call us in when we're there. Give me a feed."

We park the car in the alleyway without trouble. There's an empathic jammer here, of course. Casinos are perfect mafia store fronts for neumono. They can hide their underhanded deals behind a jammer with the justification that neumono have a tough time playing poker without it.

Katzati has someone call in, and my helmet pops up with the stream.

>"Casino Ace security, this is Agent Nuluno rozu Sandsearcher of the UDA. We would like to ask you a favor."
>"What's that?" someone on the line asks.
>"In a couple of moments, one UDA agent and a police officer are going to enter through your western back door. We ask that you not intervene or alert any of your staff, and grant us access to your surveillance. Treat them as though they are supposed to be there, because they are."
>"We'd like to know the purpose of their entry."
>"We have questions for an individual who may be in danger. Enough danger that we want our presence there to be suppressed. We will give you the post-operation documents to supply to your employers, guaranteeing there will be no reprimands for your actions. Failure to comply, however, will result in legal reprimands."
>"How do we know this isn't some false call?"
>"You may send a security officer to the backdoor to check the badges of the agent and officer that will come in."
>"... and just how can you promise there's not going to be any reprimands, hm?"
>"Because your rights will be legally upheld, and this casino is ran by upstanding entrepreneurs that follow the law, is that not correct?"
>".... egtch, we get the picture. Send them in."
No. 616364 ID: 602cd8
File 141982747015.png - (214.30KB , 800x800 , 51.png )

>His office may be monitored, if it isn't already by security.
"Katzati. If we have access to their surveillance, hijack it and make Rokoa and I invisible.""

It works like a charm, and we enter the side door. No one who sees us wants to stop two fully armed individuals making their way to the elevator. We reach Lamarra's office.

>"... shit, what is this? How'd you two get in?" Lamarra says. His hands drop fast to hit security. I still have feed on the security room, and can confirm that they're letting Lamarra's summons go ignored."
"Your security knows when to stay put, big shot. Don't get your boxers tangled. My little buddy's got some questions, and as long as you answer them, I'm just gonna be ornamentation."
No. 616367 ID: 687279

Tell him you know he knows where Itcher is, and you need Itcher's help. So just come out with it.
No. 616370 ID: dd4ed3

Helmet off, for talking.

I apologize for the surprise visit, as it were. However, I understand you can tell us where Itcher is. And that it's probably in your best interest not to have been seen talking to the police about this, considering who else is looking for him. So maybe you'll excuse our taking pains to remain unannounced.

If we need more pressure, ask him if he's aware of what happened at Jules' home today. (Hearing some else who knew was almost silenced, and they're may come for him next or gunning for Itcher might get a response).
No. 616373 ID: b308c0

His office may be monitored, if it isn't already by security. He may be friends with Itcher, but the security staff may not.

Introduce yourself as Agent Polo of the UDA and that you're here because Itcher has gotten himself into trouble with unsavoury characters, and by extension he has too. Tell him to ignore the gear it's simply for his protection, and then approach his desk. Try to communicate with pen and paper and avoid any information being displayed to any security cameras.
No. 616375 ID: 602cd8
File 141983059993.png - (118.21KB , 800x800 , 52.png )

>His office may be monitored, if it isn't already by security.
This suggestion has been retroactively applied to the previous panel.

My helmet scans for any unidentified surveillance, but it does not find any outside of the registered security cameras. Unfortunately, Lamarra and then Rokoa already spoiled our presence if there are any audio bugs I can't detect.

"Sorry, Lamarra. I am Agent Polo of the UDA. We know that you know where Itcher is. I apologize for showing up unannounced, but in recent history, it would be agreeable that it's in your interest that you aren't seen with police asking the questions we're asking. Our gear is for your protection moreso than our own."
>"Well you came here wasting everyone's time. You know wrong. We cut contact after we left."
"Give me your hand. I want to hear that from your empathy."
>"Fine. We cut contact with each other. I don't know where he is. Probably dead, and if he was half as competent as I remember him, he had the gentlemanly decency to not bring that uppity girl from the white tops with him."

He doesn't seem to be lying.

"When did you cut contact?"
>"Right when our mutual boss turned out to be up to no good."

Again, not lying. Wait. Something bugged me.

"What about the last week?"
>"Are you a dumbass? Our boss was taken out of the picture years ago. Years ago includes last week."
"You haven't spoken him since last week?"
>"... what, is this a witness bench, are you fishing for some answer? No, I have not spoken to Itcher or his girl in the last week. Don't look at me like that."

His empathy is jittering as he writes.
No. 616377 ID: d90668

So are you talking about another mutual boss then? Maybe one that hired you both more recently?

Start asking him specific questions about the blip you noticed in his empathy involving last week.

As for fishing for answers I would not have to if you would just come clean and help us. Would get us out of your office quicker.
No. 616381 ID: bb78f2

Is he writing the truth as he lies to you?
Can that TRICK neumono? Is that a way to lie?
I just realized that we didn't consider Jule's lying to us. And he was way too prepared. There wasn't much of a fight. A panic to make us focus on the miklik and get distracted, and then trust Jules as he demonstrates himself as a competent defender. He worked with them to get you off the trail! Maybe. I don't know, we don't have real evidence and if he's legit then we kinda pissed off a guy we respect.

We know something's up with Lamarra with the empathy triggering, but I think we trusted Jule's a little too much. I mean, Lamarra HAS to know we know he's jittering, because he can sense us sense him jitter, right? So, is he really hiding anything?

Wait, Polo, X-Ray him.
No. 616382 ID: dd4ed3

Not sure if he's trying to hide something, or if the Grinch's minions have already been through and tried to do a neat cover up with the predator. Either way, I think we have to prod him to keep going.

>No, I have not spoken to Itcher or his girl in the last week. Don't look at me like that.
You've had contact through an intermediary, or indirectly, through writing? No speaking or seeing.

I'll stop looking at you like that when your empathy stops dancing around like you're trying to lie with a technicality.

Jules told me you knew. People don't tend to lie when the lives of their family are on the line. If you really don't know, why does he think you do?
No. 616383 ID: dd4ed3

>I just realized that we didn't consider Jule's lying to us.
We do have cops sitting on his house for protection. If he did lie, it's not like he's going anywhere.
No. 616437 ID: 8f01e8

>"Right when our mutual boss turned out to be up to no good."

When was that, exactly? How many days ago?
No. 616455 ID: 687279

He doesn't know where Itcher IS... does he know where Itcher MIGHT BE?

I think he's half-lying to you. He appears to be good at it. Give him to Rokoa.
No. 616467 ID: e6e219

He could not know where exactly Itcher is. But he could know how to contact him and has a hidden phone number.

He only said he has not "Spoken" to Itcher in the past week. Emails or texts are not speaking and if it was a day out of a week its technically not a lie.
No. 616497 ID: 0ee153

Call Rokoa forward and tell her to start persuading him if his empathy so much as twitches or he doesn't answer the next question.

"Have you used any form of communication with Itcher, Jessica, someone tangentially related to the two, or someone who knows where they are?"
No. 616554 ID: 602cd8
File 141989561304.png - (135.40KB , 800x800 , 53.png )

>Is he writing the truth as he lies to you?
It would require not thinking he was doing anything with his free hand, which I can see that he is not. If he had this level of lying capabilities, I believe he would be in a far higher position than middle manager.
His empathy isn't dancing like he's trying to hide the truth through any technicalities or omissions.

"Another boss, or the kingpin of the dark alleys, as he's so affectionately known?"
>"Wasn't known by me. But yeah, that guy."
"So, years ago. One moment, please."

I call Katzati and have her redirect me to Jules.

"Hello, Jules?"
"Do you have any confirmation that Lamarra knows where Itcher is?"
>"... he told me so."
"I'd like to put you on speaker and have Lamarra hear that. Go."
>"Lamarra, help them out. Let them know where Itcher is, this goes above any 'codes' about helping police."
>"... I did tell you that, and I don't know why, cause I don't know shit."
"Alright. Let me have a go at him." says Rokoa.

His empathy spiked incorrectly like bad static when Jules said that. He also catches that I catch his empathy flaws, and that does shake him. He is doubting himself, but he honestly does not seem to know where Itcher is.

"Not yet. Lamarra, do you have any idea where Itcher might be?"
>"On the planet. Maybe."
"And repeat for me again, that you have not had any communcation with Itcher or Jessica, whatsoever, in speech, writing, emails, texts, morse code, or any such way?"
>"He may as well not exist, I keep telling you!"

Back to the normal jitters. Under normal circumstances, I may thing a predator was a possibility if I didn't know the context of our case. Knowing the context, however, I believe that the chances of a predator cover up is high.

There's a lot of background checking and authorization that happens whenever I call in the CAI, and I have been scolded for doing it so casually. Calling in that resource is considered a big deal. It's like asking for water, though, compared to bringing up our own trained predator. Three Stripes and his hive is highly classified information that few agents in the UDA even know the existence of. If I were to hand Lamarra over to him, I would need to be certain that there were no other reasonable possibilities, as I will be in bad shape if it turns out Lamarra just had wacky empathy. His memory would be wiped after being examined by Three Stripes, as would Rokoa under the nil chance she was brought along.

Time is of the essence, so I may simply want to bring Lamarra to Three Stripes immediately. Otherwise, the other immediate options are to press him hard, likely with Rokoa, or to examine the slight but ugly possibility that Jules isn't as cooperative as he's seemed.
No. 616556 ID: 81960a

For starters, just tell him someone has likely messed up with his memory. Someone who somehow trained a predator to this kind of end.
No. 616558 ID: 687279

Yeah, either a predator wiped his brain or he has those... implants in him. He's coming with you. Interrogate him a bit in the car to see if he can shake out of it on his own. Otherwise, 3dog gonna fix him.
No. 616560 ID: 14bb8a

Follow up questions. We know (or can find out) when he talked with Jules. From that, we can ask follow up questions. See what other loose edges there are in him memory. Blank spots, or things that don't match up exactly with security cameras, call records, etc.

Spend enough time that you're confident his memory has been tampered with. Can't risk this being an act- Three Stripes is rare and secret enough to actually have been worth all the trouble the baddies went through today (ie, one big ploy to flush out or eliminate your tame predator).
No. 616639 ID: d90668

Lets try the simple things first before pulling in a trump card.

First make sure he does not have any active mind control devices on him or in his office.

If they messed with his memory it had to have happened recently. Find out when he had the conversation with Jules saying he knew where Itcher was. Then if he was changed it was probably using a relay and not in person. Check to see when he might have come in contact with one of them.

Then start asking him a list of basic questions involving the conversation he had with Jules about Itcher. Like when it was and what they said. You want to trigger more empathy spikes like the one that happened a moment ago. If they had a conversation that was directly modified or erased it would be in the middle of whatever the predator did to him.

You can also try dredging up memories from another angle. He referred to Jess as that uppity girl from the White tops. See if he can remember anything about her. Maybe if we poke at his memory of Itcher from enough directions we will find a loose thread.

Long story short get more evidence. Before you start thinking he was mind fucked or that Jules is playing us narrow things down before we have to send him off to the UDA "doctor".

And do consider the slight possibility that something like this could be a trick to get at Three Stripes. So do a through check for tracking and recording devices if you do have to send him anywhere. Also shave him in case of nano-tech recording equipment.
No. 616652 ID: 602cd8
File 141990727063.png - (132.88KB , 800x800 , 54.png )

>X-Ray scan him
My helmet reports him being clean, physically speaking.

"Rokoa, search his office for any unidentified tech or anything regarding Itcher."
I take another 10 minutes asking question after question regarding times, places and contexts for every time he spoke to Jules about Itcher, and every time he might have contacted Itcher. Every time, he either doesn't remember, or doesn't know why he said or acted a certain way. I ask him to tell me about Itcher and Jess. I get some back history on the two. The only empathy spikes are when he tries to think of where they'd be, now. Scrutinizing Jules would be difficult and likely a huge investment of time we don't have. I believe it's time to visit Three Stripes.
"Lamarra. Please come with me."
>"Whoa whoa whoa, not till I know where we're going."
I squeeze his hand. "You don't have a choice, I'm afraid to say."
>"Am I under arrest?"
"You're under containment."

He breaks the grip on my hand and makes a dive for it, but Rokoa was waiting for him to make so much as a twitch.
No. 616656 ID: 602cd8
File 141990746757.png - (147.45KB , 800x800 , 55.png )

"We're leaving. Rokoa, stuff his ears."
"Just give me a reason to break a bone or two, hat man, and I won't disappoint." she says before shoving some tissues from his office into his ears.

I make a call to Katzati once again. I make it as vague as possible in case there's any surveillance around that hasn't been hijacked.

"Operator. We're leaving. Keep the neutral feed rolling, and prepare a section.... " I have to perform some math in my head to get today's code for it. "73-44 when we get back to HQ."
>"Ah, that's... I have to ask you to color confirm that order."
"Red, blue, blue." The codes do not tell Katzati what is going to happen, but the codes will be received at the UDA base, processed, and then changed. We will receive an orbital pickup when we're at HQ.
>"Okay. Come back to HQ, I put your command through."
"By the way, you said Rokann and Marra were pursuing Malsen. If that's the case, who's going after our other target?"
>"We pulled Rokann and Marra onto the Itcher side since that's been considered more urgent. Lucera is pursuing Pilon himself at the office since up until a little while ago, we didn't have any physical leads on him. However, the last known contact with Pilon was someone who hired Pilon as a model for a themed blog, so that's who Rokann and Marra are going to go to, next."
"What's it about?"
>"Neumono dropping mundane objects with their oven mitt hands."
"That doesn't seem flattering."
>"No, and it's a little embarrassing for everyone how popular it is. Still, Pilon had trouble finding any work until Pelios approached him."
"Alright, thank you."

"Rokoa, escort us back to police HQ, but you won't be coming with us past that. I will return within a couple of hours, so just keep tight." I say, when we get to the outside of the building leading to our car.
"What? Nah, we dragged each other along this far, don't just leave me hanging because of some top secret bullshit. If this sack of shit gets to go, I get to go."
"Just drill Lamarra on our way back, we don't have time to waste." I can still cancel the order without any issue if Rokoa strikes gold, but I doubt it's going to happen.

She puts her hand on my shoulder letting me know that she's damn serious about going, and isn't going to take no for an answer. I could probably bring her along, although she'd get her memory wiped as well. I'll either get a slap on the wrist by higher ups for bringing her along, or have to knock Rokoa down a peg.
No. 616657 ID: bb78f2

Ask Lamarra's permission that he undergo a physical by UDA physicians, including X-RAYS and uhh whatever the neumono equivalent of an MRI is. Their entire body is a brain, so...
Say it'll be completely covered by the agency. Basically, hey, free doctor appointment if you legit don't know where he is or hey we'll help you with your brainwashing because someone might've fucked with your brain or body.
No. 616658 ID: bdfc23

Is there a trusted third party that can take him there and you could stay with rokoa and get hunting for the next target?
No. 616660 ID: 687279

Man, you can't even tell her she'd have to be mind-wiped afterwards. Well, you have an opportunity to get her weird empathy looked at too, so why not? She could be a good bit of research on the side. Tell HQ before you bring her though.
No. 616669 ID: d90668

If she was serious about being able to resist a Predator Three Stripes might not work on her properly. What happens if they can't remove her memories or it ends up taking forever?

On the other hand it would be a opportunity to test if she can resist him. Would let you know its safe for later.

Just remember that the worst that can happen is he can't erase her memories and your boss ends up liking her and she gets hired and you have to deal with her all the time.
No. 616670 ID: bb78f2

"You and I both answer to our Queens, King in my case. It isn't my call to make, Rokoa. There are some things you don't have clearance for. You're asking me to betray what is my King for your curiosity."
No. 616696 ID: dd4ed3

>pilon is a fetish hand model
Oh my god.

>she's insistent about coming along
Dead flatpan serious:

I'll bring you if you insist, but I can promise you you're not going to enjoy the memory of butting in on top secret stuff.

She'll tell you're 100% serious. Her call on whether to heed the warning.

Honestly, the slap on the wrist will be worth seeing her get mind-wiped, or her confusion afterwards. (If your superiors complain: I needed someone to carry the prisoner, and I didn't have the time to argue her our of coming).

...also, on the small chance that hint of paranoia was right and this was one contrived exercise of getting you to expose your one of a kind pet predator? She might be useful to have if something goes down. Everything else has been a fight today, anyways.
No. 616698 ID: dd4ed3

Technically, Az is an Ultraking in Polo's Ultrahive, not her King. Sealock's got a Queen. Kind of lessons the impact of that kind of speech.
No. 616710 ID: 602cd8
File 141992242922.png - (185.97KB , 800x800 , 56.png )

>Is there a trusted third party that can take him there
With only a small number of agents that have access to Three Stripes, the pickings are slim. In fact, it is only by my silence that I personally have authority for this, all of the other agents will have far more serious matters than acting as a mid-boss escort.

Rokoa might honestly believe she can resist a predator, but I have doubts. If she could, then having that tested may be a good thing, as having a partner that can act as a meatshield and resist a predator will remove my doubts about having a partner that is... her.

>Just remember that the worst that can happen is he can't erase her memories and your boss ends up liking her and she gets hired and you have to deal with her all the time.
That is rather bad, but only for personal reasons. I can look past those.

>You're asking me to betray what is my King for your curiosity.
This would have been a good idea to implement, but now, with questionable judgement...

"... alright, Rokoa. I'll bring you along if you insist, but I can almost guarantee you you're not going to find it pleasant." That, of course, is taken as a challenge, and removes any chance of peacefully denying her access. I text Katzati to pass along the word I'll be bringing Rokoa. I doubt anyone will object, although it will be my neck on the line if it ends up going badly. "Lamarra." I say as Rokoa uncovers his ears. "You may not have a choice in coming with us, but you do have a choice in having a full physical. It will be paid for, and can be seen as a free doctor's appointment. We want to make sure you're... clean." I didn't exactly mean to put in that ominous, cryptic pause there, but there it is.
>"... well what the hell. As long as I get to vet the doc, I may as well."
"Good. Rokoa won't be interrogating you, as it turns out."

I forgot that I cannot drive this vehicle. Nonetheless, Rokoa is always... a presence. I am not sure if I like how the traffic surrounding us always keeps their distance.
No. 616711 ID: 602cd8
File 141992243853.png - (89.79KB , 800x800 , 57.png )

We get to HQ. Rokoa is pleased that she gets to come along. Not so much because her curiosity is filled, so much that she's pleased that I trust her enough to bring her along. Our dropship picks us up on the rooftop, and lifts off to go into an orbital station.
No. 616712 ID: 602cd8
File 141992245462.png - (169.79KB , 800x800 , 58.png )

Rokoa, Lamarra and I get examined closely to make sure we aren't bugged, smuggling in any foreign goods, and other such protocols. Our gear is confiscated as well, unsurprisingly. Only select parts of the station are unjammed, such as, of course, the predator zone.

Eventually, we're escorted by armed guards to the predator doors. Rokoa and Lamarra are blindfolded.

>"... okay, I'm a little nervous, and don't like being kept in the dark. What's all this about?" Lamarra asks, both he and Rokoa have not been told.

The predator's caretaker, Luka, starts giving the speech.
>"Okay, you three! Well, you two, the agent is clear, but... you two, I'm going to keep this short, because you're not actually gonna remember this! Sorry. Uh, Rokoa, you're just going to be disallowed from entering the dropship, and Polo's gonna be given a list of answers and details to deal with you. Lamarra, you're scheduled for a physical, and... that's what you'll remember. Why is Rokoa here, anyway? Okay, so, I'm going to open these doors. Don't freak out! Queen's not gonna like anyone getting up to her neck level..."
No. 616713 ID: 602cd8
File 141992246635.png - (82.04KB , 800x800 , 59.png )

The doors open, and the jammer field goes down, revealing about 8 neumono.

>".. oh... we usually tell him in advance and he kind of likes to stare at the door when it opens to introduce himself. It's... it actually still spooks me out. And I'm the caretaker! Three Stripes! Three Stripes, come out! WAIT NO I forgot to mention you're a predator! You two there's a predator co-"
No. 616714 ID: 602cd8
File 141992249334.png - (133.16KB , 800x800 , 60.png )


So thinks Three Stripes at us after leaping into view with an astounding lack of social tact considering it's job.

>"SHIT!!" Lamarra screams, and Rokoa's heart rate quickens. At least, it quickens about as much as Luka's from having completely flubbed her opening speech. She is not a professional, but Three Stripes likes her and threw a tantrum when she was taken off the job. The guards contain Lamarra.

nonono don't panic three stripes is best predator polo hello person with bad attitude hello scary neumono with big ears hello

I didn't know we had a predator.
"And you still won't know that after this is done. Luka, please explain what Three Stripes' job is. Rokoa, you're going to try to resist the predator while he studies you. If you actually pull it off, you get to pay."
"What, this isn't paid for by you guys?"
"Three Stripes doesn't want ears from people that aren't present in person. I'm going to go to the lobby. Luka, take over. Three Stripes, I will visit you after you do your work."
No. 616715 ID: 602cd8
File 141992251582.png - (133.70KB , 800x800 , 61.png )

6:53 PM.

Lamarra's memories are surfaced. As expected, a predator cannot fully remove memories without significant time. This does tell me, though, that Three Stripes' existence is a secret is unknown to the Grinch, as they likely would have done a more thorough job with Lamarra if they knew we could pull it out of him this easily. This is reassuring, as it's even more unlikely now that this was all an elaborate ploy to get at Three Stripes.

Luka gives me the report on Lamarra. It has some superfluous information about the procedure, but we found out the location of Itcher. A small town far north, well out of the public eye. Apparently, one of Jessica's old buddies let her and Itcher crash at his place.

"Is Rokoa still in there?"
>"Weeeeeeeeelllll... " Luka starts, immediately making that... face. "There's kind of a problem. Rokoa is resisting."
"That was expected from the start. Success, though, was not. She's actually able to, then?"
>"Well... yes. Maybe. It's borderline. Rokoa can basically resist, yes, but Three Stripes says he thinks he could force it, it's just that it may cause, uh, some permanent harm. So he doesn't want to, even though Rokoa is telling him to give it his all. So, uh... since the whole idea of the test was to see how impervious she was to an enemy predator, well, she might not actually be, at least not to prolonged exposure. I mean, that does of course depend on how strong an enemy predator is. But further Three Stripes tests are, well, Three Stripes might have a good reason for not wanting to break her mind in. We also don't really want to force the issue, ourselves. Three Stripes is actually a little bit scared of Rokoa, and that's not really, uh, running well with the Three Stripes Hive."

That's inconvenient. A complete failure or complete success would have been fine, but this halfway mark is troublesome.
No. 616717 ID: dd4ed3

>This is reassuring, as it's even more unlikely now that this was all an elaborate ploy to get at Three Stripes.
Although it's less assuring in that we're back to not having a good motive for the Grinch to have spent the ludicrous resources and prep time we've seen so far on large scale parcel theft. It doesn't make sense without a bigger reason.

>Rokoa's inconvenient resistance
So she can probably hold out against an enemy predator for a short while, after which point she'll both be controlled and suffer permanent brain damage. Worst of both worlds!

Assent that as much as she annoys you, it's probably not right to break her brain for scientific curiosity.

Annoying from a security point of view, too. She now either has to be trusted with a top level secret, or we have to order her to stop resisting and let him edit her memory safely. (Which... she's almost certainly not going to do. Too much pride at a challenge).
No. 616719 ID: 687279

Well, you know she's better at it than most. That's pretty good on its own. Ask if there's like, a reason for her weird empathy.

What kind of "damage" is three stripes talking about, anyway? Can't he fix empathic illness?
No. 616720 ID: b308c0

How bothersome. She's going to learn of your silence or partial silence if she connects the dots and you haven't already gone silent in front of her too.

Are you even allowed to let civilians leave with these top level secrets? What's the protocol you have to follow here? Might as well check in on them to see how they're doing.
No. 616724 ID: d90668

They might not know that you have a predator but if they notice Lamarra missing they are going to assume you figured out something and might make a move for Itcher. Need to get on securing him fast before its to late.

As for Rokoa out what she means by permanent harm. If Three Stripes pushes to hard is she going to to catatonic or have a Psychotic episode?

Partial resistance is handy but if it only works on a Predator that is only half trying its not that great. But considering most Neumono have no resistance its better than nothing.

So find out a bit more about how her resistance works from Three Stripes and such and have a talk to see what your options are. And make sure to get her out of there before his hive gets pissed off.
No. 616785 ID: 4373f5

Go give Rokoa crap about not being able to fully resist Three Stripes. Tell her if she can't pull it off she will have to stay up here and live in a closet. Mention something about how all the cool agents like you can do it easily.
No. 616830 ID: 81960a

On another subject, do we have an estimation of WHEN Lamarra's memory was tampered with? Because that's how much advance the Grinch has on hunting down Itcher.
No. 617112 ID: 602cd8
File 142007063821.png - (71.02KB , 800x800 , 62.png )

>Are you even allowed to let civilians leave with these top level secrets?
No, but Rokoa isn't a civilian. Still, this is a special case, and there isn't a particular protocol for this.

I make a call to arrange for Lamarra's return after the physical, and to send law enforcement agents to get to Itcher's hideout as soon as possible. The local enforcement can make it there faster than I can, although I will still attempt to leave soon.

"What permanent harm could there be? I would think Three Stripes could fix it."
>"Well, it's kinda weird, but apparently Three Stripes thinks that Rokoa has really weak parts of her mind that decide to give up, or to conserve energy, or things like that. He says entering a neumono brain is like opening a door, and a door can be shut behind him, but Rokoa's door is more like her.... entire building. So it might put her in a catatonic state. Maybe. Three Stripes hasn't really seen anyone like her! I mean, he might have just meant 'permanent damage' if he left her alone afterwards, but maybe he can fix it. You know how communicating with him is."
"I was hoping you would have more concrete answers."
>"... s-sorry."
"I'm going to go back to Three Stripes to ask myself. I don't want to risk snapping Rokoa, as she is already unstable."
No. 617118 ID: 602cd8
File 142007078528.png - (167.52KB , 800x800 , 63.png )

I sense fighting once I get close enough, and I run the rest of the way.

"Rokoa, what are you doing?"
"We wanted to fight, so we're fighting!"

She says it as though it's the most obvious conclusion in the world.

make them stop please fighting is no good at safe home

"You, two, guards, get them to knock it off."
>"They're not trying to kill each other, and we're just going to elevate their hostility if we interfere. Just let them work it out of their system, they're both willingly fighting."
No. 617119 ID: 602cd8
File 142007079449.png - (129.03KB , 800x800 , 64.png )

It's like I'm on trainee duty.

"Three Stripes, tell Giant to knock it off or the hive is going to have rations cut in half for a week! Rokoa, you knock it off, or I will empty my damn gun into you while Three Stripes breaks your grin in half!" I don't have threats for the guards, but I have half a mind to make a formal request for a transfer.

oh no oh no no food giant please no fighting for food opposite of usual life please
No. 617120 ID: 602cd8
File 142007080338.png - (124.30KB , 800x800 , 65.png )

They cut it out. Maybe I would have let them fight it out if the fight was lopsided, but they were both going to have their teeth kicked in before either one submitted.

"Three Stripes, I'm in a rush. I'll visit you for a long time after I do my duties. Rokoa, don't think I'm not impressed, but we don't have all day to watch you flex your damn muscles, brain or brawn. We have to find out what happened to Itcher and Jessica."
"What do you mean, 'what happened to'?"
"They removed Lamarra's memory of where Itcher was well before we found Lamarra. That means they already knew what that memory was, and where Itcher was. It's too much to hope for getting there before they do, it's hoping we get there before they can remove all the evidence."
"And how come you can resist the predator? Three Stripes is strong."
"He's just trained. Three Stripes, how is she resisting you?"
she is weird and doesn't know when to give up and might fight too hard and I don't know I've never had this happen really
"And no, Rokoa, I don't care to establish how I resist - "

silent is weird she can go turn off and be sileeeee

No. 617121 ID: 602cd8
File 142007081232.png - (113.85KB , 800x800 , 66.png )

three stripes did bad

I have to partially blame myself for bringing Rokoa.

"Well shit."
"I've changed my mind. We're taking a risk. Rokoa, you're going to resist Three Stripes or forget you ever failed. Three Stripes, try your best to bend Rokoa. You have... 10 minutes. If you break her mind doing it, you can take your time fixing her."


"Do it. You'll get both of her ears if you succeed. Rokoa, if you can't pull it off, you're going to live up here and have your ears chewed up while Three Stripes fixes you."

Rokoa's resistance is just by raw force, for the first minute, as Three Stripes pokes around with various emotions to appeal to her. Her empathy is not overwhelming, but it's enough. When Three Stripes pushes, she pushes back as hard. At some point he pushes hard enough that I can't tell the difference between Rokoa and Three Stripes, empathy wise, and it's enough to cause static. I don't know what exactly happens, but Rokoa's able to push him back out. Three Stripes also is confused.

no I can't do it she is immune she moves too much and I almost get her and then she gets weird and I lose her and don't want to push

"Alright. Stop it." She's cracking, either unable to last against Three Stripes indefinitely or simply breaking down. Either way, she's shown can last against a trained predator for several minutes, which is more than I've seen through raw willpower.
No. 617122 ID: 687279

Alright, get moving then. We've got very little time. Also tell Rokoa if it isn't obvious already she is not to mention your silence to anyone, ever.

Ask Rokoa if she knows why she can resist three stripes like this. What's with her weird empathy?
No. 617123 ID: d90668

Well congratulations Rokoa you get a D- in your predator resisting training class. Its the worst passing grade but at least I know we have ten minutes to stop a enemy predator before I have to shoot you.

After this you should look into her medical records and see if she has any interesting history that might explain her resistance. Would give the scientists something to do at least.

Now give Three Stripes one of your ears and say goodbye we have spend to much time up here playing around. We need to get back on the case. Also you have to fill out some forms saying I get to decapitate you if you ever talk about anything you saw up here. Or feel anything about what you saw up here. Or think about it so that other people feel it.
No. 617124 ID: dd4ed3

Do you really consider your silence to be a more sensitive secret than having a tame predator? Because it really looks like you just decided to risk her sanity / stability just to keep it.

>Either way, she's shown can last against a trained predator for several minutes, which is more than I've seen through raw willpower
It looks to be a combination of willpower and an unusual mental structure.

C'mon. You've proved you can hold up if we cross paths with the Grinch's predator, and you've likely left a lot of scientists here very confused about how your head works.

We've got a job to do now, though.

Make sure she gets the pamphlet on the state secrets act on the way out ("So you've been trusted with unspeakable secrets, or making you disappear indefinitely or wiping your memory aren't viable options! How to stay out of trouble.").
No. 619348 ID: 602cd8
File 142093880254.png - (250.47KB , 800x800 , 67.png )

>Do you really consider your silence to be a more sensitive secret than having a tame predator?
No, but having her learn about that only stacked on things she didn't need to know. I already question if I should have let her in on the predator secret to begin with.

"You've gotten the lowest possible passing grade for predator resistance. Just remember that if we ever run into the Grinch's predator, and you appear to fail to resist, I will shoot you until you pass out. Now give an ear and let's go. We've wasted enough time."

I give Rokoa another lecture on holding in top secret data on the way over.

>What's with her weird empathy?
She doesn't think it's weird.

By the time we reach Itcher's hideaway, there's already a team of police going there.

"Polo, UDA." I say, approaching who looks to be the lead police officer around.
"Rokoa, UHP."
>"Kovnikra, Police Captain. We've searched the premises, and we're searching it again. It doesn't look like there's been any fight, but the house is completely deserted. Local residents report no suspicious activity."
No. 619353 ID: 69ab8d

Obvious first question: does anything appear to be missing, besides the residents?

Expect the bad guys to have been thorough in cleaning the place up. Unless we find a hiding spot Itcher stashed information they didn't, we can expect any files or evidence he had on them to be gone.

Which means what we can learn is from what the baddies thought to clean or remove (anything you think should be in a PI's home that isn't?), or if we get lucky and come across something they left by mistake.
No. 619354 ID: d90668

Well start your search then. How long ago was Lamarra's memory erased? Finding out that will give you a timeline for what happened.

Am sort of curious why they went to the trouble of erasing memories if they where just going to make off with him. So something else is probably going on.

Keep a eye out for suspicious local civilians and police. The Grinch could have agents here watching the place and Itcher could have friends watching as well.
No. 619356 ID: bb78f2

How many non-neumono's are residents? Can't rely on neumono witnesses at all in this investigation. Shit, can barely trust neumono officers.

Honestly, I feel stupid for only thinking of this now, but we need non-neumono contractors for this job. One's that can be trusted. I hope you have alien friend's Polo, or Rokoa does. Anyone with low odds of being a spy?
No. 619357 ID: 687279

Check the dimensions of the house and its interior, compare that to where the walls are. He's got a secret room somewhere, I guarantee it. There must be some very close-range jammer keeping us from sensing Jessica, if they are here.

There's evidence of occupation- the tree is still lit. Are there any indications of a vehicle being here?
No. 619361 ID: bb78f2

You also can't forget about possible secret basements. So get the Z dimensions and dig up the foundations. I want a 3D printup of this house's blueprints pronto.
No. 619388 ID: ea0ad9

How deserted? Coats of dust, or what? If the place still looks clean, then one of three things could have happened: One, Itcher knew what was happening and got out of there early. Two, Itcher figured out a little too late, and simply surrendered, possibly to protect Jessica. He does protect her from rumors, wouldn't surprise me if he protected her from harm, too. Three: Itcher's got a secret compartment in the house that the police simply haven't found yet. This doesn't sound likely, but given Jules' setup, it's possible.
If it doesn't seem too clean, then maybe Itcher fed Lamarra false information, figuring the target he was tracking had some way of getting to Neumono already. If he has formulated a theory about the enemy's power over Neumono, then he might have taken a jammer with him to hide Jessica.
No. 619450 ID: c7afcd

Ask Rokoa to use her powerful nose to follow the scent of alcohol
No. 619577 ID: 602cd8
File 142101682799.png - (168.69KB , 800x800 , 68.png )

"How many residents are aliens?"
>"There's 7 or 8 we've asked that have said nothing is unusual." says the officer.

There's that. Nonetheless, I may begin asking for a higher rate of alien assistance.

"I'm betting there's a secret room. Do you have blueprints?"
>"No, we don't have fast access to that. Use your UDA weight, we'd like that."
"Rokoa, our target is considered a possible alcoholic. Go sniff out the heaviest density of alcohol."

I gather the blueprints on my phone and take a look around while Rokoa sniffs through the house. It looks as though Itcher left. Not long ago, and not in a rush, as the bathroom only contains specialized neumono shampoo and conditioner. Bare hygienic essentials are gone. The christmas tree was still lit up, though, and there's little evidence that they spent long packing, so leaving was not a casual affair.

Rokoa ends up in a study room. Or at least what was perhaps intended to be a study room, but the bookshelf is filled with neatly stacked, organized comic books, video games, and some textbooks.

"Right here. It reeks."
No. 619578 ID: 602cd8
File 142101705487.png - (107.20KB , 800x800 , 69.png )

I receive and look at the blueprints. Bingo.

"Rokoa, move the bookshelf."
"Fine, but help me take the books off."
"Can you not lift it with the books?"
No. 619579 ID: 602cd8
File 142101707813.png - (174.48KB , 800x800 , 70.png )

"Not without knocking half the books off." Rokoa answers, as we start pulling them off the bookshelf.
"... you're worried about property damage?"
"Jessica got buddy-buddy with a giant nerd. This stuff is pretty valuable. See this? It's the first print batch of the first issue of the first major comic book like that had neumono as its target audience. Not actually in mint condition, though."
"Zorya. Queen of Blood. We had internet before it came out. I believe most old issues are on the internet, for free. Who would get the old issues?
"A giant nerd."
".... and why are you excitable over this?"
"My kids love this stuff. I like to think of it as visual aid for my own pre-uplift stories. Except that Zorya doesn't actually know how to hold a spear right."
"Right. Anyways, don't think I'm not pleased that you at least have some restraint."
"Yeah, yeah. And hey, there's a door back here all right. Good call. By the way, there's a breeze coming out of the door. It's not a secret room, it's a tunnel."
No. 619582 ID: 687279

Hang on, how would they be able to access it and then put the bookshelf back in front of it? Is there some mechanism we missed that slides the bookcase?

Well regardless about now I would be careful of boobytraps. If you're using an escape tunnel you probably wouldn't want people to follow you.
No. 619590 ID: 69ab8d

>Rokoa nerd talk
The world is ending.

Nice to hear her kids aren't all dead in this alternate reality. Makes sense since her hive had a stabler side of things, and ended up an established police force instead of a warhive on the fringes.

Time to see where it goes, then. (Make sure you tell the cops what you're doing, so they don't suddenly wonder where or how you disappeared to).
No. 619632 ID: ea0ad9

>Hang on, how would they be able to access it and then put the bookshelf back in front of it?
The Neumono items were still there, but everything else was gone. I think Itcher had Jessica leave while he placed the shelf back in place.
That, or he's learned to lean and swivel it on a corner without knocking stuff out of it. These guys who are, or were in the Mafia, they seem to have plenty of backup plans.
No. 619657 ID: d90668

Well good to know more about Rokoa. As long as you are going to be working with her for awhile you might as well get to know her better.

Anyways carefully put the books somewhere and check the tunnel. Watch for traps or surveillance equipment.

Also check to see if there is any mechanism for moving the bookshelf. If there is not one someone had to move it back into place.
No. 619994 ID: 602cd8
File 142112427049.png - (213.82KB , 800x800 , 71.png )

It looks like Rokoa pulled it out by a rotating hinge. I'm unsure of how it's activated, as it certainly could not have been rotated normally, at least not without inordinate power. Nonetheless, it does exist, and I don't care to spend more time pondering the bookshelf.

The cops are alerted to the secret tunnel along with our intent to go through. I request they continue the search, and put the books back onto the bookshelf. The tunnel appears long, so I engage in idle banter with Rokoa while keeping an eye out for surveillance.

"How many kids do you have?"
"19, why?"
"... that's a lot. I'm just wondering."
"You're surprised I have any?"
"I can't imagine you with kids. I'm not sure why."
"How about you? You probly couldn't fit any, anyway."
".... I don't have any, but that is not the reason. Or a valid one. Or a polite one. Anyways, you stand out in your own hive. If I was in range of any of your kids, they fit in better." I pause awkwardly after I say that. Implying poor personal hive fitness, even just by saying others are better attuned, could be taken as being exceedingly rude.
"Haha, you're getting nervy around me. No, it's true, I was in a different hive for a bit as a kid, so I mostly bonded with my real hive. So yeah, my kids fit in snugly." she says, clearly proud of it.

She proceeds to pull out a wallet and show me all of her kids, telling me the life story for each and every single one, long past the point where I wanted to know.

There's time, though, since this tunnel is exceptionally long. The wallpaper is in poor condition, the lighting is sparse, our footsteps echo far, the ventilation rusted, and ultimately it looks like something a horror film would be cast in.
No. 619995 ID: 602cd8
File 142112429786.png - (120.60KB , 800x800 , 72.png )

We hit an empathy jammer.

"There's a door ahead." Finally.

It has a slot that opens from the other end. There's no knob on this end, but I do have cell phone reception. I call Katzati.

>"Katzati, I'm investigating an underground tunnel. Can you get my location?"
"Yeah, you're, uh... close by a four star resort. I'm looking it up... oh, geez. This might be messy. We know where you are. It's owned by someone who's suspected of drug trafficking, and... show me the door? Yeah, okay, under the resort is a club for all sorts of illicit activity. There's a ton of doors like that, that open into the club from a variety of angles. Uh, again, the inside probably has a preeetty heavy criminal crowd that we haven't tried busting. But we do have intel on the inside, so if you knock four times, someone will open the slit, and the password is 'numlanga'. You'll be let in as guests, if our intel is right. Just.. be careful. You can't operate as police in there, unless you want, well... I don't know what would happen, honestly. Right now you're in a historic escape route that, in case of emergency, would have people escape to where you're almost at. But now it's an escape route to lead away from the place in case of a raid. I'm sorry, but I don't know how to deal with this situation."
No. 619999 ID: 687279

...well, it's still our best lead. Got any money on you? You can, of course, bribe someone for information if anyone in there has any.
No. 620002 ID: d90668

Well I am voting on just wandering in like you belong there. Ignore any illicit activities and keep any police identification out of sight as long as you can.

Then just play it by ear. You are on a bigger case than anything you would probably find here so tell Rokoa that we can come back and beat them up another day if she start looking at criminals funny.

You will be in a jammer field so empathy should not give you away unless you are not careful.

Oh set up a bribe expense account with Katzati before you go in. Just in case so you do not have to worry about it if you need to pay off someone.
No. 620022 ID: 0ee153

This seems about right. Be sure to keep an exit open.
No. 620026 ID: 01efb5

Sigh, put away your badge and any insignia, and tell Rokoa to put her scary face on. It looks like we're going to be pretending to be criminals.

You're heavily armed enough to pass for mercs or something, unless your gear is all obviously of police design.

If Itcher needed to go underground, it makes sense he might have fallen back on a contact here. If he got away before the Grinch arrived, we may be able to find a lead here.
No. 620062 ID: be8988

I think you should't try to hide that you're cops, this bound to fail given Rokoa's fame.

Just show that you're not here for them, turn your badge upside-down or something.
No. 620086 ID: ea0ad9

>She proceeds to pull out a wallet and show me all of her kids, telling me the life story for each and every single one, long past the point where I wanted to know.
Oh my god she's a pocket mommy, or whatever they call them. Her having kids? Understandable. Kids fit in better than her? Sure. She keeps track of every last detail and goes into them at the drop of a dime? No way.
Just say "off duty" or something. No need to flash your badges or anything.
No. 620130 ID: d10463

>showing pictures of your kids

Bloody hell, Rokoa, why not say you're two days from retirement while you're at it?
No. 620161 ID: 8f01e8

Rokoa will never willingly retire. Her name literally means "doesn't know when to quit."
No. 620247 ID: 602cd8
File 142120947494.png - (173.84KB , 800x800 , 73.png )

"We'll go undercover, Katzati. Transfer some bribe funds to my account."
>"Understood. You have 5 grand, but you know how we feel about spending all of it. Take care."
"Rokoa, we're going into potentially hostile area, so cut the chatter about your kids and take off your heavy gear and guns. Unless you'd also like to add in that you'll be retiring in two days."
>"I'm only retiring in two days if I die in two days."
".... okay then."

I knock on the door, and as expected, the slider opens, I say "numlanga," the door opens, and we walk in. The smoke comes out. I almost think there's been a fire, but we also walked in on chain smokers. I am almost beginning to think I would like to be able to go directly into a firefight just so that we can equip our gear, instead of constantly needing to walk into potential firefights without armor. Or at least most of it. Thankfully, we still have our bioarmor on.

>"Hey. You guys new here?" says our door opener, who sounds like he lost a few of his cigars in his throat.
>"Alright, let me lay down some ground rules. You can keep your guns, but if you use any, you're going to end up in a few pieces out back. If you gotta fight someone, take it to the ring, no fighting on the playground. Also, aliens are welcome here too, so don't give them any funny looks. Don't give anyone in charge funny looks. They tell you to do something, you do it."
"How do we tell if someone's in charge?"
>"They'll say they're in charge."
"And if they're lying?"
>"Then you do what they say, and when they get found out, they wind up in a few different dumpsters."
"What facilities does this place have?"
>"Facili... what, like what's done here? Look, we don't have a directory or nothing, so just ask for directions if you want a place. We got gambling, cards, fights, dice, whatever. There's a smoking area off to the side. Oh yeah, this area's no smoking."
"... you're saying people aren't allowed to smoke in here."
"Yeah. I didn't say the ventilation in here was any good. You think this is bad, go check out the area you can smoke in. Now where was I... right. There's an arcade, too. Test your might and all that if you don't actually have might. Brothel somewhere around here. And a daycare if you got any kids. I'm gonna say you're not a kid. But I dunno. No one under your respective species age of adulthood allowed on the premises. Now I dunno who invited you or what your tastes are, but I'm paid to respect our guests and to not ask questions, I'm paid to answer them. So either ask away or go off down this hall and enjoy yourselves."
"A fight ring, you said?"
>"Yeah a fight ring. You can see contestants, you can bet on contestants. Or you can be a contestant. A word o' warning, you believe you're tough shit, I think you look like tough shit, but statistica say that you're probably not actually tough shit, so don't cry to us if you come outta there without any teeth."

Useless inquisitions from Rokoa aside, this is easy.

Almost too easy.
No. 620251 ID: 687279

You're small. Someone's gonna fuck with you unless you're with Rokoa, and Rokoa wants to fight. This won't be easy. You'll have to convince Rokoa to find Itcher/Jessica first.

Tell him you're looking for a Belenosian/Neumono couple, and anyone that's also looking for them.
No. 620269 ID: d90668

Getting in is easy because they want customers. Finding Itcher while keeping Rokoa out of trouble and not getting stabbed will be harder. Although you might want to ask Katzati where the intel on the door password came from.

Also at this point its best to assume the Grinch knows you are on the trail. Or will be getting word soon. They might not act against you directly but you can be sure they will be throwing chumps at you through untraceable third parties.

Even if the Grinch has no traps here be careful about running into any Itcher might have set up. If he is on the run he will suspect anyone inquiring after him and Jess.
No. 620296 ID: a18f15

>Useless inquisitions from Rokoa aside, this is easy.
>Almost too easy.
Well, if the Grinch managed to find this ahead of you, there's a reasonable chance there's a trap here.

>what check
You're looking for an alcoholic, the bar might be a good place to start.

If Rokoa starts making eyes at the fight ring, remind her we're already in a fight.

Rokoa's sure got some tiny-head going on there.
No. 620307 ID: ea0ad9

>You'll have to convince Rokoa to find Itcher/Jessica first.
Actually, if Rokoa beats up a few contestants, that might garner enough popularity to get some answers.
Wait... They do have non-Neumono here, I worry that might include stuff like Volkits there, and those guys are huge. I mean, Rokoa could probably take on a standard warrior in a fair right, but if they had a Volkit who was as tough compared to Volkits as Rokoa is to Neumono, then she'd be in trouble. Then again, she'd like that.
No. 620324 ID: 602cd8
File 142123807623.png - (258.06KB , 800x800 , 74.png )

Art error - Polo and Rokoa still have their bioarmor with them and equipped.

>Possible voklit presence
It is possible, although this region is somewhat cold for them. Even so, they stick to rural areas like these, and although they are rarely crimelords, the rate of voklit being involved in illicit activities is high. Nonetheless, I am going to talk Rokoa out of any recreational combat, and outright forbid it in the offchance it involves being thrown unarmed into a cage with a voklit, vernaut, or some other mismatch.

I'll ask this guard if he's seen Itcher and Jessica pass through only as a backup plan. Asking around for people who don't want to be found may bring unwanted attention.

"Can I assume you have a bar?"
>"The best in the region. Down the hall like I said, then take a left, you'll see a sign for it."
"Thank you. Rokoa, follow me. We have some business to take care of, and it doesn't involve you punching anyone." Hopefully.

Katzati, where did the intel on the door come from?
>One of our undercover spies. He's a yich eater, believe it or not. His name is Yanni, but he goes by the name 'Blackfoot' down there.

This place is higher class than I would have thought. The security is amazingly lax for what must contain high ranking mafia members, but nonetheless, it isn't filled with thugs that are looking to start a fight over a sideways glance. Only partially filled.

There are periodic signs with LED signals for facilities, and we follow the martini. And right up at the counter is a belenos and a neumono, hidden in plain sight.
No. 620330 ID: 5e00ee

Walk up on the right of them, rokoa stands behind them, start with a simple "If we found you, so will they.", It will allow us to see how they react.
No. 620331 ID: d90668

Well lets hope this is as easy as it looks.

No threatening or trying to scare them. Just wander over and say hello. See how they react to you and go from there.

Remember that the Grinch had Lamarra mind fucked when they could have just gone after these two directly. Is probably a reason for that. Just remember they are civilians who probably are friends with half the people down here. So play nice and keep Rokoa on a short leash.
No. 620345 ID: a18f15

Grumpy face Polo. Can't stand the idea of all this illegal activity, or people sitting around having fun.

Casual look around. Is anyone watching them?

You picking up anything besides 'drunk' from Itcher's neumono pal? Or is this place jammed.

Pull up a stool, grab a child seat, and sit down next to Itcher.

>spy, Yanni
Well, don't go blowing his cover.
No. 620346 ID: bdfc23

rokoa's empathy is going to scare jessica, be warned.
No. 620361 ID: 60700b

Only if they touch, due to the empathy jammer.
No. 620363 ID: 2f4b71

>The security is amazingly lax for what must contain high ranking mafia members, but nonetheless, it isn't filled with thugs that are looking to start a fight over a sideways glance.
It's a Mafia place, it's well furnished and equiped, and all the fighting is in it;s own designated area.
Yeah, the place is going to be wired up to hell and back for intel gathering.
No. 620368 ID: fe4bfc

Honestly this whole thing with the Grinch and the private investigators stinks to high heaven. But nothing you can do about it other than keep on doing your job.

So wander on over and introduce yourself. Maybe they will be up for some polite conversation and you can figure out more about what is going on.

If you need to you can try keeping Rokoa distracted by letting her watch the fights. It might be a better option than her following you around leering at people with that creepy grin of hers.

Oh offer to buy some drinks with your expense account. Should help break the ice.
No. 620414 ID: 602cd8
File 142128697765.png - (86.64KB , 900x600 , 75.png )

We're still inside of a jammer, so Jessica can't be sensed, and vice versa, unless we touch her.

"Stand behind them, Rokoa, but keep your creepy smile pointed away. We don't want to scare them."
"You don't, technically."

I walk to Itcher's right side and climb onto a stool.

"Hello, Itcher. Can I buy you a drink?"
>"Polo." he says, cutting off any chance I had for introductions. "Go for it."
"I've been searching for you for some time, but if I can find you, the people you're really running from can find you, too."
>"They already did, girl."
"You both look awfully relaxed for it."
>"We are." says Jessica. "Because they know that we don't go talking to the UDAs."
>"Thanks for the drink, but allow me to let you in on some news. Our house was swarming with cops, then two people come in from our tunnel and join the party? You two are either the nerviest cops I've seen, or the dumbest. You were let in to receive a message. Unless you want to start a war in here for nothing, just walk back out and declare me a dead lead who didn't know shit. You've got no law to enforce in a lawless zone, and that's what this is. Your fatcats know full well how huge this place is, and they'll let a lead on the grinch slip by if it means they don't have to kick this wasp hive. A couple teams of 10 people on a worldwide case? You know as well as I do how little they give a shit that a few presents were stolen. Go on and ask your bosses if it's worth it to start a war to drag a washed up PI in for some scraps of information."
No. 620415 ID: 602cd8
File 142128702095.png - (131.26KB , 900x600 , 76.png )

"I think I heard the word 'war'." Rokoa leans in. "You two have got to be dumber than us. You're right, the place is swarming with cops. They know we went in. Make us go missing, and there's not going to be a war. There's going to be a slaughter. You don't know cops. Even if it's not in the same hive, we don't like it much when other cops disappear. So go ahead. Make us martyrs."

Rokoa just shook her leash loose, and I'm about to rein it back in. I almost wish I sent her to watch fights to distract her, if not for the belief that I'd return to find her participating in them instead.

>"Is there a problem over here?" I hear the bartender say.
No. 620416 ID: 0ee153

Here's the thing. They will talk, or Rokoa will kill them. Will you and Rokoa die? Maybe, but that's not the point. The point is Itcher and Jessica will be dead. And if their friends are stupid enough to try to kill an ultrahive's cops, they won't see the rest of the day. Do they really think their 'friends' value them more than their own skins?

Talk or die. That's it. They've already escalated things this high. There's no use trying to deescalate if you want information.
No. 620421 ID: 687279

Tell Rokoa you'd rather not die today thanks.

Ask how much money it's worth this place to give up the Grinch.
No. 620423 ID: 0ee153

Oh, and Rokoa is touching Jessica. If they try lying, Jessica will know. If Jessica knows, Rokoa will know. If they lie, they die.
No. 620425 ID: 0ee153

The Grinch managed to pull off a worldwide heist and get a large company's CEO in their pocket. 5 thousand is nothing compared to the resources that takes. We won't be able to buy them from the Grinch.
No. 620435 ID: bb78f2

No, I'm just buying this guy a drink.
Rokoa at least has balanced the scales a little. That move wasn't entirely useless.

Tell him it's less about the presents now. It's about the influence of this character "the grinch". He connections and resources make his organization the walking, living equivalent of a nuke. They actively present a danger to neumono everywhere, and aliens too. I think we can all agree we're not stupid enough to believe the worldwide heist is here to just ruin christmas for a few million boys and girls. No it's a step of a master plan. We don't know what, but we can tell it's big. And it will probably kill a LOT of people. Or drive them mad. Mass genocide.

How did you already know he was called the grinch? He was only just called that today, and recently. You've been at this for a while. Is this Grinch actually known as the Grinch before we even codenamed him that?
No. 620436 ID: d90668

Well I guess that's that then. Might as well pack it in and go home.

I mean sure they tried to kill Jules and his whole family after we had coffee with him. And sure Lamarra had been tortured enough so that we had to bring him to a doctor to get him to even remember you. But I am sure that us coming down here and talking to you will be overlooked.

But hey look on the bright side! Belenosians are fragile enough they can't torture you for that long right? It sucks that your girlfriend is a Neumono though. God only knows what they will do to her.

So goodbye. We will mention on the radio that you did not tell us anything. Am sure they will believe it and leave you alone.
No. 620442 ID: 602cd8
File 142129483705.png - (165.04KB , 800x800 , 77.png )

>How much money it's worth this place to give up the Grinch.
Too much to hand over to criminals.

"There isn't going to be a problem. I'm just getting them drinks. Rokoa, that's enough." Rokoa relaxes some, but she keeps her hand on Jessica. Thankfully, the music and atmosphere is loud enough that we can mostly talk without being heard by distant bystanders. "It's not completely about presents. The incredible level of logistics that must have gone into this heist is obviously for far more than to make millions of boys and girls sad. I don't know what it's for, but it's big, and if the group behind this is the one I think they are, billions are in danger of being more than a little sad. Now, you said the grinch. How did you know that's what it was called?"
>"People have been calling the grinch the grinch ever since the presents were declared missing. Kind of an obvious name."

"Yeah, sure, we'll pack up and get the fuck outta here, Itcher. They only tried to kill Jules and his entire family while we were having a chat over coffee. Lamarra was tortured hard enough that we had to bring him to a doctor just to get him to remember you. I'm sure you'll be fine, though, since you're so confident they trust you."

Jessica is starting to shake.

"Even if you're wrong though, Belenos can't be tortured for long, so you have that going for you anyway. Your soft girlfriend here, though? I'm sure this place will try to protect her, but if it fails, I've got a few ideas what they're going to do to -"

"Rokoa. Knock it off."
"Shut it, Polo. They didn't just find out stuff about the grinch. They're with the grinch, and this entire goddamn place was a front for the whole operation."
No. 620446 ID: 687279

Um. Doesn't that mean we just kicked the ant's nest? I feel as though we will be very dead very soon. Call for backup immediately, get somewhere defensible and hole up until the cops can take the heat off you and deliver your armor.
No. 620449 ID: d90668

Move over to Rokoa and touch her to see if she picked that up from Jessica or if she is just trying to provoke a response. She is a police officer and could just be trying to rattle them.

But if not you better get a signal out before it gets locked down and prepare for a fight.
No. 620450 ID: bb78f2

Bartender's probably got a shotgun aimed at you under the table. Or soem other person's gonna try and shoot at you sneakily.
Dodge if you don't want a bunch of lead in your stomach. Also make sure Itcher dodges with you. Don't want him hurt with collateral damage.
No. 620451 ID: 0ee153

So should we just kill them and the barkeeper now before they can draw a weapon? Because I think we should.
No. 620459 ID: 602cd8
File 142130015534.png - (163.38KB , 800x800 , 78.png )

>About the gear
Rokoa shoved all of it in the backpack, at the risk of having it searched.

I reach one hand to Rokoa, confirming that she gleaned that from Jessica's empathy. My other hand reaches for my phone to get to Katzati, and my first swings back to shoot at the bartender lifting a shotgun over the counter. I think Itcher, with his vital spots all over his body, and Jessica, with her tough attitude and not much else, simply need to have an eye kept on them.

"Rokoa, cover me, Itcher and Jess, don't move, operator, bring the heat down to secure this place and everything inside, now."
>"Ahh, I'm afraid that would be terribly inconvenient for yours truly, my two differently sized thorns in my sides." It's an unfamiliar voice. Although scrambled, it speaks slowly as though it loves pronouncing words. "I've had my artificial friends reroute your call, you see, letting you fall and dangle right into my lethal web. Now, if you don't wish to be made uncomfortable in the near future, I suggest you drop your toys."

I hear the stomping of boots coming our way, but farther off, I hear yelling and gunfire.
No. 620462 ID: 687279

Ask Rokoa to toss the two hostages behind the bar, before you two get there as well. You've got grenades, use them on the first group to arrive. Well, assuming you can verify that it's the enemy and not cops who swarmed the place BEFORE Jessica got made for some reason.

Bust out all your big guns, go crazy on these fucks.
No. 620464 ID: 0ee153

Well, on the upside, they're probably only loyal to their wallets. Rokoa was enough to scare Jessica. Think you could take out the jammer, frighten the grinch's mercs, and ask them who wants to die first and not get to spend their pay?
No. 620465 ID: d90668

Both of you get behind the bar and you cover Rokoa while she gets suited up. Then she can cover you.

They might have messed with your call but with luck Katzati will be monitoring your cell signal and call up backup after she notices you have not checked in for awhile.

Once you get geared up its probably better to keep moving. You could probably hold off whatever they throw at you for awhile but eventually you would run out of ammo or they would throw something big at you. Staying mobile can be dangerous but makes sure they can not trap you in one spot as easily.

As for Itcher and Jessica keep a eye on them but I do not expect that much trouble from them. The fact that Jess fell apart after Rokoa mentioned all the nasty stuff that happened makes me think they got in over there heads. Am guessing the Grinch caught them snooping and threatened them.
No. 620469 ID: a18f15

Welp. It's an enemy base. That's great. (I knew the bar scene was gonna be another clusterfuck).

At least Rokoa's right. The cops know you went in. If you never come out, they'll attempt extraction... and we'll have a bloodbath. But yeah, they'll come down on it. Probably not hard enough the first time though, thinking it's only a mob site.

Not a good tactical situation. We're naked, and we have low value hostages. The enemy could very easily make the call that letting Jess and Itcher get killed in the crossfire.

Still, surrendering for predator mind-rape and who knows what else seems a terrible idea.

To the voice, buying time while we suit up and take defensive positions: what reason can you possibly offer us to surrender? You've proved all to willing to eliminate lose ends.

>no signal
If we can't fight our way out, we need to get a signal out. If we can't take a com station, we need to set off a big enough explosion or emp that sensors outside this facility detect shit is going down and to move in.
No. 620470 ID: a19cd5

Grab that shottie!
No. 620471 ID: 0ee153

Not if she can't handle the recoil. Rokoa, maybe.
No. 620473 ID: bdfc23

polo can easily handle a shotgun BUT that's more of rokoa's weapon.
No. 620482 ID: 977dc4

I don't think they realize, at the risk of sounding cliché, that we're not trapped in here with them; they're trapped in here with Rokoa.
We should make them realize.
No. 620493 ID: eb959a

First we need to find a better unjamable way to communicate with HQ.
Second jump the bar and Let's go to war! One fires while the other armors up
No. 620496 ID: 8f01e8

How far is it back to the entrance?
No. 620505 ID: fe4bfc

If you already hear yelling and gunfire it means your forces have been attacked or that the Grinch is not completely in control of this area.

So once you get your gear on it might be a good idea to head towards the sounds of fighting.
No. 620514 ID: a18f15

>If you already hear yelling and gunfire it means your forces have been attacked or that the Grinch is not completely in control of this area.
That's a solid tactical observation. Either the entire place isn't staffed with their people, and/or there are other armed patrons who they need to deal with.

Which might mean we find ourselves temporarily allied with criminals and mobsters against supervillian terrorists, but so be it.

We also possibly have a spy on our side who might be able to help, unless he's a double agent who led us into the trap on purpose.
No. 620523 ID: 267731

Take cover behind the bar, it'll be a lot better holding your ground with protecting from the bar rather than standing out in the open.

Is there anything you can quickly grab from Rokoa's bag like grenades, tear gas, or the UZI?
No. 620533 ID: bb78f2

Sing to the Grinch "Welcome Christmas" to make his heart grow three sizes this day.

It's the only time he's vulnerable! It's your only chance to end it this early!
No. 620975 ID: 602cd8
File 142162797537.png - (153.49KB , 800x800 , 79.png )

>The fact that Jess fell apart after Rokoa mentioned all the nasty stuff that happened makes me think they got in over there heads.
At first that it what it looked like, however, in hindsight, it may have been that she was unable to prevent her empathy telling Rokoa that they're working for the grinch. We will have time to investigate that, though, after we secure them.

>Sing to t-
I don't sing.

The bar is one of the better places around here to get trapped in, not to say it's that good either.

"You three, behind the bar. Rokoa, I'll cover you while you suit up!"

I use the bartender's shotgun. The recoil hits hard, but not too hard to render it unusable. Only a few pop out, and I throw out a couple of grenades when I feel they're bunching up. They're eventually going to overrun us if Rokoa takes too long.
No. 620976 ID: 602cd8
File 142162798972.png - (127.91KB , 800x800 , 80.png )

"Finished, let's go!"
"Good, let me sui- Rokoa, your armor looks... wrong."
"That's Itcher."
No. 620977 ID: 602cd8
File 142162800597.png - (174.17KB , 800x800 , 81.png )

"I'm over here."
"Why. No."
"He needs it more than I do."
"It has to fit!"
No. 620978 ID: 602cd8
File 142162803138.png - (108.89KB , 800x800 , 82.png )

"I'm pushing out around the corner to loosen them up. You got 30 seconds to get your gear on, and then we're moving out."
"There's no time to argue. Apparently we packed two machine guns, just leave one of them behind, they're no-"
No. 620979 ID: 602cd8
File 142162805357.png - (192.38KB , 800x800 , 83.png )

"Don't wield them both at once, you dumb animal!"

I say that, but she's at least aiming in their general direction. I scramble to get my armor on, which is something I've gotten good at doing swiftly. She starts going to the way we came from. It wasn't a long walk, but that was because we weren't being swarmed by mercenaries.

"Itcher, Jessica, follow Rokoa, I'm going to watch our backs! Don't run, or one of us will shoot your legs."
No. 620980 ID: 602cd8
File 142162807289.png - (294.10KB , 800x800 , 84.png )

My helmet communicator buzzes while we follow Rokoa's path of destruction.

>"Polo! Are you oh - oh geez. Our CAI detected something went wrong when we tried to call you. We've sent as many cops as we could to try to distract them, but you've got to get out of there, Yanni reported the whole place is wired to blow!"
"How long?"
>"We don't know, just get to the nearest safest exit and run as far as you can!"

The only known safe exit is the one we came through. I know that there's similar doors around here, but there's no telling on if they'll lead to safety, or right into enemy forces.
No. 620981 ID: 687279

If they lead into enemy forces, GOOD. More possible interrogation subjects.
No. 620982 ID: a18f15

>Don't run, or one of us will shoot your legs.
Hopefully there are unarmed portions of Itcher's legs.

>He needs it more than I do.
That's... unusually generous of Rokoa. Especially considering we just downgraded Itcher from "likely witness and source" to "known colluder with the enemy".

She just doesn't want to wear the armor, does she.

>The only known safe exit is the one we came through. I know that there's similar doors around here, but there's no telling on if they'll lead to safety, or right into enemy forces.
Technically, for all you know, there are enemy forces waiting in that tunnel now too.

Might want to hit your hostages up for information. If they don't want to be caught in an ambush on the way out they should probably help you pick the door that goes out.
No. 620983 ID: d90668

Make your way to the entrance you came in. If it takes to long or you meet to much resistance go for the nearest door that looks like a exit.

Make sure to let Itcher and Jess know the whole place is wired to blow. Will keep them from trying anything stupid before you get out of here.

Rokoa had a good idea with armoring up Itcher. If he gets shot this whole trip could be a waste. She might be a brute but she does know what she is doing.
No. 621116 ID: d5e685

The exits are probably going to be blocked, and who knows how far away you'll have to run before you get out of the blast radius.

Tell your two new buddies that the place is about to be blown sky high, and that unless you get to safety they'll probably be caught in it. Ask Itcher if there's a safehouse or vault that could possibly withstand the blast.
No. 621838 ID: 602cd8
File 142206211980.png - (256.42KB , 1100x800 , 85.png )

"The place is going to blow! Itcher, are there any good exits?!"
>"I wouldn't know!"
"Rokoa, force your way through to our old entrance!"

She ends up getting shot several times, but we keep up the pace and reach the exit. Rokoa grabs Jessica and Itcher, and we both make a sprint through the house's tunnel. If there were any cops, they've fled now.

>Hopefully there are unarmed portions of Itcher's legs.
Right as I think about that, one of Itcher's knee guards detaches and everything below it falls off.
No. 621839 ID: 602cd8
File 142206214729.png - (160.04KB , 800x800 , 86.png )

We hear a loud boom, and Rokoa shoves them down on the ground, falling down with them. Rokoa also grants me cover, by means of grabbing my leg to knock me over in front of her and shielding my head by shoving her damn palm right in my visor. I think Jessica kicks me .

Some dust and debris hits us, but no significant wounds seem to have been inflicted. It should be clear to move out of the house.

>"Polo, Polo, come in!" says Katzati.
"I'm here. We have Itcher and Jessica."
>"Okay, good!"

..... 'okay, good' followed by an awkward silence may as well be a code phrase for saying that there's no further orders, which means I have to make them up.
No. 621840 ID: d90668

Check over Itcher first. No significant wounds for you three are not the same for him.

Once you have checked him over make sure you know where all the weapons and armor are and head back to the house. Might not have any surprises but be prepared for more tricks.

Use the walk to butter them up a bit. After that display it should have shown them just how much danger they were in. A few promises of protection and overlooking them helping the Grinch should get you the info you wanted.
No. 621841 ID: 0ee153

And if it doesn't get them to talk, threatening to torture the other one should get either lovebird to talk.

Although, first: Are you willing to torture people or to let Rokoa torture people?
No. 621845 ID: 88960e

Good work, Rokoa.

Make sure your contacts are unhurt, and start looking around for enemy forces who might want to put a bullet in them. Don't assume they all escaped or exploded.

Tell Katzati you need an evac for your sources slash prisoners, whatever they end up being. Get her organizing first responders appropiately. There are probably fires to put out, and survivors who need rescuing, but there may be unexploded bombs and armed hostiles as well. So don't just send civy firefighters / medical responders in their to get hurt. The cleanup of this site needs to coordinated properly with military support and civy first responders. It'll be a logistal nightmare, and we need to start ordering it before people get here.

Then start field questioning your subjects. They're now a security risk, and their employer is going to try and silence them. If we're going to protect them anyways, they might as well talk so we can take them down.
No. 622016 ID: d958ad

Interrogations! Find out exactly what the Grinch is planning, where his base is, how much resistance we can expect on a raid, how many predators and empathy relays they have...
No. 622118 ID: 602cd8
File 142220240927.png - (216.65KB , 800x800 , 87.png )

>Are you willing to torture people or to let Rokoa torture people?
No, nor am I willing to threaten torture.

"Katzati, get an evac down in the house's tunnel. We need first responders here, too."
>"Yeah, we're sending a bomb squad with armed backup down there, and trying to cover all of the exits we know about to intercept everyone for questioning."

I look over Itcher while Katzati keeps talking. He seems fine.

>"We're especially on the lookout for a couple of high profile targets. That's why we think that they waited to blow the place up, they wanted to get their top people out, then take out everything else thinking we were blind. So... Yanni might be in trouble, since they know someone tipped us off. But.. don't worry about that."
"Who were the high profile targets?"
>"Hok was there, and... Korli, a scientist who's made a lot of drugs."

>"Itcher, Jessica. Your employers will likely be trying to take you out, now. Talk for us."
"Fat chance." says Jessica.
>"If you talk, we're going to find it pretty easy to look past your involvement."
>"Nope." Itcher backs her up.
"At least tell me how they got such loyalty from you two."

".... Jessica's in love. Nevermind, Itcher is." Rokoa says, reading Jessica's empathy. "Thinks he's gonna get bailed out."

>"Oh, also, we've got some word on where Pilon is." says Katzati. "We'd like you two to go investigate the most likely area."
"We can, is there any reason to send us in particular?" I ask, sealing off my suit again to make myself unheard by the others.
>"Uhr... these aren't my words, but... 'Everywhere those two go have turned into a warzone. If there's going to be any more of those, it may as well be at the Voklit reservation.'"
"Tell Az that that is a horrendous mindset, even for him."
>"Okay, I will, but your orders are just to search for him there."
"What is Pilon doing there?"
>"We're not sure, but there's a good chance he's on the payroll under a pseudonym, so you'll just have to look around for someone like him at Silver Clouds. Once you hand over Jessica and Itcher, of course."
"They seem unwilling to talk. Itcher may be in love, and Jessica is loyal to Itcher."
>"Hm... did Itcher say that?"
"No, Rokoa thinks so based on her empathy."
>"It's going to be tough to get them to crack if they don't want to, even with a specialist interrogator. Unless you got something, we don't really have anything incriminating on either of them. Since we're dealing with an enemy with a predator, we can't use neumono empathy as evidence like we normally do. There's going to be a lot of cops down there in just a second to secure you guys, and we can take those two from there."
No. 622130 ID: a18f15

>Thinks he's gonna get bailed out
Bail is not going to be an option. That comes up when they're arraigned, which isn't gonna happen till the immediate crisis is over.

Seriously, though, if they expect to be rescued, they need to be checked for tracking devices before they reach anywhere secure. Take their clothes, issue new ones, run them through a scanner for anything else (hidden in neumono ears, say, or in belnos fur, if their tricks from other continuity carry over).

>Unless you got something, we don't really have anything incriminating on either of them.
If we need legal justification, we can hold them for their own 'protection'. They're known associates of a criminal who has been erasing the memories and attempting to murder people who could lead back to him- we have every reason to suspect their lives are in danger, even if they won't believe it. Setting them free puts them, the public, and officers of the law at risk. Unfortunately that means they'll be detained against their will for a while. We have those kind of powers, to an extent, in an emergency.

>not willing to torture
What about not-torture torture?

...what if we announced, out loud, to arrange for them to be held separately (making them harder to find), and for Itcher to receive treatment for his alcoholism?
No. 622132 ID: bb78f2

One last shot, appeal at any goodness inside them.

Itcher, can you at least let me know you know the possible consequences of whatever the Grinch's plan coming to fruition is, right? You don't look like a sociopathic monster, and neither does Jessica.

You both seriously know it's not going to stop at Christmas present's right? The Grinch can do far worse than that, and is building up to it. The Grinch isn't some cat burglar. Aside from brainwashing and breaking neumono, which they've done to Lamarra and might already have done to Jessica, they're perfectly willing to kill aliens they can't control like Jules. If we can't stop the Grinch, and we fail, Jule's children have a good chance of being killed by the Grinch, not to mention countless other children this year if Christmas is involved of all things? If the Grinch's plan goes off without a hitch, do you WANT children's blood on your hand's? Because, if you do, fuck you Itcher.

Just fuck you. All this chaos for pussy or dick, whatever you fly for, if Jessica wasn't broken and is telling us the truth about that, fuck you. I hate that more than when people are doing this awful shit for money, because that implies they're at least sociopaths or psychopaths and they're broken a bit. You're a normal fucking person and you're willing to put children in danger.

Fuck you, Itcher.
No. 622136 ID: d90668

Wait Itcher is in love with who exactly? If he was in love with Jessica he would be acting a bit differently. If she is confident that whoever he is in love with will "bail" him out that means its someone powerful. And I see a certain female belenosian on your criminal chart just above Itcher.

Also do not assume they will not talk just yet. They do "work" for someone who has spy's everywhere and for all they know could be watching them right now. You might be able to get a hint from them once they are somewhere they know is safe. Honestly even if Itcher never talks you can probably get a ton of stuff from Jess just by having Rokoa flex in front of her while you rub her head.

As for incriminating evidence who cares. If you really want them in jail go shoot Rokoa in the foot and say Itcher did it. Just hold them for a day and then let them go.

I can think of several nasty tricks you could pull to try and get more info but they would just make them never want your help even if they needed it. So thank them for the assistance and wish them well with whatever love triangle they have going on. Say the offer of protection stands and they know how to contact you.

I would be wary of handing them off to normal police though. At least take them with you to headquarters personally. You need to pick up new armor for Rokoa before heading to the reservation anyways. Will give you a car trips worth of time to question them a bit and makes sure that the Grinch does not steal them in the shuffle somehow.
No. 622146 ID: ea0ad9

>Everywhere those two go have turned into a warzone.
>If there's going to be any more of those, it may as well be at the Voklit reservation.
Yeesh. Does he want the rights to throw people in, or what?
In before we meet up with Viln
No. 622148 ID: d958ad

A lot of cops? Watch out for the impostor cop rescue gimmick. Also, if Itcher is really sure he's gonna get bailed out, we could use him as bait to catch whoever his lover is.

Otherwise yeah let's just keep rounding up perps. Onto the Voklits. Hey, got any Voklit contacts?

Don't forget to retrieve Rokoa's armor.
No. 622242 ID: 602cd8
File 142224995354.png - (106.33KB , 800x800 , 88.png )

"We've got contact with cops." I say to Katzati when we do see some down the hall, but I talk openly for the others to hear. "Please arrange for top level protection services. Separately, and give treatment for Itcher's alcoholism."
>"Gotta be kidding me."
"No. Do you know what the consequences of the grinch's actions will be?"
>"I said I'm not talkin'."
"I didn't ask if you were talking. I'm asking if you knew."
"Jessica doesn't know if Itcher knows, but she doesn't know."
"Well if you do, I trust it was all just a light hearted prank. Because from what I'm gathering, your entire stake in this is for love. You already know that it started off non-lethally, but as soon as we investigated, families and individuals have been attacked. And who knows where this is all going, if you don't. S-"
>"Quit trying to dig out my heart of gold and just hand me over."

>Have Itcher shoot Rokoa in the foot for evidence
I'm sorely tempted, but I won't.

"If I get some free time, girl, and find out that you haven't talked, then you will wish that the grinch decided to off you."
No. 622243 ID: 602cd8
File 142224999912.png - (197.72KB , 800x800 , 89.png )

>Don't forget to retrieve Rokoa's armor.
We have a few officers collect it, while we make certain that our two criminials are handed to cops that we vet to make sure there's not going to be any early breakout.

We get topside, where a dropship shows up quickly for us. The effects of the bomb created a pit and debris all over, but the damage seemed to largely be on the resort land itself.

"What now, Polo?"
"We go find where Pilon may be. A voklit reservation, in..." I received some files from Katzati. "From a commerce center known as the Silver Cloud. I'm uploading a video for you so that we know what Pilon looks like. We'll watch it while we wait for our dropship to pick us up. And while you put on clothes. I assume they were blown off from some explosion, and that you did not actually strip down mid combat. Also, get back behind the tape."
No. 622244 ID: 602cd8
File 142225001449.png - (95.84KB , 800x800 , 90.png )

>"Hello, troubled neumono! If you're like me, you're a well adjusted neumono that loves technology - and hates how we're subject to our belenosian overlords on whether or not we can use it! Lukratsa Steelnaut here with another amazing product for you, whether you're an average, tech using neumono or an aspiring micro-mechanists!"
No. 622245 ID: 602cd8
File 142225002407.png - (103.25KB , 800x800 , 91.png )

>"Are you tired of fumbling around with your gigantic oven mitt hands to do the most mundane objects? Imagine all those times you're handed medication, but its container has an opening smaller than your own finger!"
No. 622246 ID: 602cd8
File 142225004968.png - (137.67KB , 800x800 , 92.png )

>"Your attempts to extract a single pill are met with frustration - or worse!"
No. 622247 ID: 602cd8
File 142225005983.png - (163.85KB , 800x800 , 93.png )

>"We've all been introduced to those keyboards - and are always either too small to type correctly, or so comically gigantic that you have no desk space, leaving it to fall off!"
No. 622248 ID: 602cd8
File 142225008059.png - (112.23KB , 800x800 , 94.png )

>"And speaking of computers, have you ever tried to upgrade or modify your own? Those delicate circuits in its case can hardly survive our static-ridden fur, and I need not go into the futile effort of trying to plug all of those sub-centimeter long objects!"
No. 622249 ID: 602cd8
File 142225009871.png - (215.07KB , 800x800 , 95.png )

>"You try and try, but your own body gets in the way of everything, even sending thousands of dollars down the drain!"
No. 622250 ID: 602cd8
File 142225011503.png - (200.88KB , 800x800 , 96.png )

>"It's enough to make even strong warriors like me want to give up, but no more!"
No. 622251 ID: 602cd8
File 142225013805.png - (96.54KB , 800x800 , 97.png )

>"Introducing the neumono waldo attachment set - the first ever step in non-intrusive neumono cybernetics. In just 3 easy payments of 79.99, you'll get everything for every scenario - simple gloves with detachable addons for a whole bonanza of possibilities - can openers, needles, screwdrivers, and each one comes equipped with power switch, toggled simply by extending your nail into a compartment, to spin screwdrivers and grab down on small items, and so on! And that's just the glove - we include a whole stationary robotic waldo station for bigger jobs. Just use those same detachable sets on one of the waldos, and use the controls to do big mechanical jobs. A lightup camera on each arm makes it trivial to see what's going on. Order now, and get three additional detachables - the glue dispenser, the mini-vacuum for picking up pesky dropped objects, and the mini grabby hand for, well, let's take a look - "
No. 622252 ID: 602cd8
File 142225016311.png - (122.84KB , 800x800 , 98.png )

The rest of this continues to swap between Lukratsa going into the quasi-science and proposed possibilities of the product, and Pilon continuing to destroy everything while attempting mundane tasks. Katzati also sent a second video, but by the looks of it, it's just 20 minutes of Pilon dropping his ears into soup and shaking them dry onto other people. I might watch it later.

"That guy's a PI?"
>"It sounded like times were tough for him, and I don't think he has a hive to fall back on. There's a small brochure we got too, about the Silver Cloud. Please review it with me."

The brochure is a run of the mill modern voklit establishment. Voklits didn't take well to the uplifting, and while they ignored technology based species, they were ignored back, and civilization effectively rolled over them. However, eventually the more ethically minded human groups took notice of this, and gave them large plots of forests and deserts where they could set their own laws and live the way they originally did. Feelings were sour about it, however, eventually some younger voklit would be able to take advantage of the fact they were given autonomy, and weren't subject to the laws that neumono land was bound to. And that applied to neumono on the land, given the voklit let them on. Nearly everywhere in the normal sections of the world have either outlawed gambling, heavy drugs and alcohol, and just about everywhere else as heavily restricted all of those. But in a voklit's land, we can engage in such activities with virtually no restraints other than what the voklit allow. And as long as the neumono have bills on them, the voklit are perfectly happy to see neumono waste themselves and give their bank accounts to the voklit. Rogues and even some hives are often keen to visit these places, and even to live there - again, as long as they have the money to fund their habits. Voklit can legally kick and keep any neumono out, save for specialized investigators, who are generally always aliens.

"Rokoa. I do not want to start an interspecies catastrophe. Voklit can kick us out at any time. I'm going to give you some funds. Offending the voklit is going to be inevitable for you, so I'm just going to tell you spend your money well. Make it rain, but don't run out."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I know your hive has had issues with voklit in the past."
"Give me some damn credit. We're not that old fashioned."
"I hope not. We have a poor record of not being involved in a firefight so far. Starting something this time might lead to significant strains in relations."

Regardless, the Silver Cloud is the name of the first casino that opened up, and it may as well be the name of the town itself. It has a population of only 40,000 voklit, but it's expected that at an average of 220,000 neumono are there at any given point in time.

>Hey, got any Voklit contacts?
I do not.

"I take it we're not going in there with heavy gear?"
No. 622254 ID: d958ad

You know, if you go in with minimal gear, the Voklit will like you better. Not relying on technology and all that.
No. 622256 ID: d90668

Well that was a interesting series of commercials. If Pilon had a straight man to team up with he could have his own Japanese comedy show. But you got to pay the bills somehow and advertisements are one way.

Wait what genre is the soup ear drying video in? Is that bizarre neumono fetish porn? Maybe you can watch some of it on the way over and try to figure out whats the appeal.

Man so humans managed to bring there awful reservation ideas out here as well? I sort of feel bad for the Volkits but it does sound like they have a halfway decent thing going. Might be best if you two go under cover as tourists looking to gamble or something. As for gear whats can you legally carry on the reservation?

Oh or instead of the gambling trip idea do they have any big game hunting? Like a safari or anything? Would give you a excuse for carting around some big guns. Either way I would at least try and pack up a set of heavier gear in crates to take along.
No. 622257 ID: c2b6dd

Well if nothing else, Itcher might be good bait. Not sure if you can legally tag him though.

Go in wearing bioarmor and some concealed weapons. Maybe packing the big guns in a bag would be a bad idea given Rokoa might turn to them if she gets into trouble.

How much funds do you have anyway, or is it virtually limitless?
No. 622258 ID: a18f15

Poor Pilon. Reduced to pratfalls for a living.

>I take it we're not going in there with heavy gear?
At this point, I would very much like an excuse to. It would be nice to only have to toss a helmet on, instead of all the gear.

...have Katzati look up what it would cost to enter carrying heavy gear. If the voklit are accepting bribes to tolerate crime, some of those criminals must be paying to smuggle in weapons to protect themselves. The voklit themselves are generally anti tech, but they might be willing to look the other way if it means aliens shooting each other.
No. 622298 ID: ea0ad9

>"That guy's a PI?"
Being adorable must help him with investigations, because damn that guy's adorable. He's like a kitten mixed with a puppy mixed with a chick (the legitimate bird kind) mixed with a bunny.
No. 622299 ID: e8e03d

He is pretty cute isnt he. Those big eyes and huge ears give him a endearing quality.

Ask Rokoa more about him.
No. 622306 ID: 94b817

>20 minutes of Pilon dropping his ears into soup and shaking them dry onto other people. I might watch it later.
So, this is her fetish.
No. 622335 ID: bdfc23

>20 minutes of Pilon dropping his ears into soup and shaking them dry onto other people

you need to check this video for a better look at pilon.
No. 622409 ID: 602cd8
File 142233588552.png - (190.47KB , 800x800 , 99.png )

>Wait what genre is the soup ear drying video in? Is that bizarre neumono fetish porn?
It's another infomercial selling ear bands to keep ears on the back.

I think. I have more pressing matters to attend to, either way.

"What do you think of Pilon, Rokoa?" I ask, as we enter the dropship. She seems to think of him as someone familiar, but doesn't appear to know him after all.
"I think he's a klutz."
".... that was acting, Rokoa. He is not as clumsy in real life. Probably."
"It convinced me. If he was that good at acting, he could get a better acting job. He looks stupidly adorable. Someone's probably into that. You're into that."
"That might be true. About the acting, I mean. You felt attentive to him yourself."
"If only he could perform basic tasks."
"Well we're probably going to meet him in person."

"Katzati, what's it going to cost to bribe the Voklit into letting us carry around weapons?"
>"Wait, weapons? That's... too much. They can turn a blind eye to some things, but they're not gonna let you just brazenly wield weapons! Well, not big ones, concealable ones are alright. We might be able to talk them into allowing some lighter armor and maybe a rifle in a backpack, but you're going to attract attention even if you're allowed."
"Concealable weaponry and bio armor is fine. Even the voklit at the Silver Cloud may prefer to see neumono without heavy tech. Send us enough clothes for Rokoa to cover the bio armor, as well as for me.
No. 622410 ID: 602cd8
File 142233599916.png - (183.78KB , 800x800 , 100.png )

We end up dropped off at a car rental station, where we use our bribe funds to get a vehicle. Silver Cloud is a large place, and an automobile will be helpful, as well as it being a no-fly zone.

"Fucking hell, Polo, just sit in the back booster seat already."
>"Don't tell me to surrender. I am not a child, and I intend on sitting in the adult seats."

There's a map of the main attractions inside the car door panel. I begin noting the most likely features we can search, first.

The Rain Ritual Territory, or as most people call it, the mall. They are heavily advertising their christmas stock, as with stores around the world being sold out of normal goods, people are more willing to come to far off places like this for the express reason of getting presents. I expect
"The Harvest Adventure", more commonly known as an alcohol tasting area. While kids are allowed in any bar, they are encouraged to come here instead of the heavier places, such as...
"The Vision Tent," i.e. the bar. There are several of these throughout the Cloud, but this is the big one that get all the funding and advertising.

I stop reading the fancy names. It is horribly stereotypical of voklit culture, and it is actually embarrassing for me. I cannot imagine how the older voklit feel about this. The next three are unlikely, but possible.

A multi story casino, where many neumono gather to put donate coins to the voklit tribe or find out how bad at poker they are.
A brothel. Not much to say about this one. It's almost in the fine print.
An auditorium, where acts and performances are put on.

There's other places, but far more unlikely for Pilon to be. Things like tours on the countryside to see old voklit culture that may not actually be historically accurate, specific hole-in-the-wall stores and restaurants, et cetera.

>How much funds do you have anyway, or is it virtually limitless?
As long as we can supply appropriate justification for it, it is effectively limitless.
No. 622413 ID: d90668

I would say you are going to get hurt riding around like that but seeing as you can survive just about any car wreck imaginable am not going to worry much. Now for later trips they make a little triangle device that lowers the upper belt so smaller people can use it comfortably. Carry one in your pocket and it clips on and off quickly.

Do we know why Pilon is here? Is he vacationing or is he doing some sort of acting show here? Or does his company have a booth here? Knowing your luck he is man whoring it up in the brothel.

Anyways I would start at the mall areas. Casino resorts are usually build with everything connected so you can move around easily enough. Plus you can buy some tourist trap stuff to complete your disguise. One or two Hawaiian shirts and some Volkit spirit beads or whatever and you will be good to go.

Oh and just remember that some employee or guard if not all of them will mistake you for a kid at some point. Probably when trying to go into a bar or casino. I hope you have a non police id on you.
No. 622416 ID: a18f15

Hey, getting models wet for pointless flailing photoshoots is an age old tradition.

>Polo doesn't fit in the seat
Have you considered sitting cross legged, or sitting on your ankles? I mean, a kneeling or meditative pose might not be the most comfortable, but it might put your torso at the right height for the seatbelt.

>where check
...if there's a retail location that's not out of Christmas stock, but is actually profiting from this mess, especially in a largely tax and regulatory free zone, that might be a lead to follow up on.

If Pilon is still playing the goofy actor, the performance place might be a good place to start.
No. 622417 ID: d958ad

They sell adjustment buckles for those. Also, you could just sit on a cushion. That's not designed for a child.

Go check the mall for suspicious stores.
No. 622433 ID: 3181a5

Holy shit Polo, you're both adorable and hilarious.
Also the Voklits are your planets version of Earths native americans. That's kind of sad, and now you two are going to make things even worse.
No. 622440 ID: bb78f2

Pilon's attractive, he might be working in the brothel.

Hey, Polo are you alright? You seem different all of a sudden? You were all "Regulation and Safety" before.
No. 622582 ID: 602cd8
File 142241713853.png - (174.59KB , 800x800 , 101.png )

>You were all "Regulation and Safety" before.
As soon as I let Rokoa be my partner, compromises were made.
No. 622583 ID: 602cd8
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11:40 PM - 32 hours and 20 minutes until christmas.

We park our cars. Thankfully, to make things more inviting, the Voklit don't have customs. Even while parking, it's miles to get to the busy mall. Conveniently, this part of the world has the sun rise at 9 PM, and so we are still working at daylight. Unfortunately, this also means everyone is up and the mall is going to be terribly busy.

"Katzati, do we know what Pilon is doing in a place like this?"
>"We don't know much, I'm sorry. Our source is said to be reliable, and that Pilon has had friendly relations with voklit in the past, and that he may just be there to stay low."

The mall looks like a war zone, and the empathy is a tornado of finding things to buy. And when someone finds something good, other neumono descend on them. It's also an enormous place, and packed with neumono that barely even take a glance at Rokoa's internal screaming. Voklit didn't even decide to celebrate christmas with us this year, but I do notice that the glowslugs have been dyed red and green, and the whole place smells more foresty than the forest, aside from the neumono around us that have not bathed.

Rokoa and I take a stop in one of the clothing stores to purchase any clothes that are left. Hawaiian shirts appear gone, and so we are left with some clothes that look like an odd blend of tourist bait and racist. Finding Pilon in a place like this is going to be tough.

>If there's a retail location that's not out of Christmas stock, but is actually profiting from this mess, especially in a largely tax and regulatory free zone, that might be a lead to follow up on.
There's no store in particular that is standing out. All of the stores, and the voklit, are definitely are having a lucrative christmas season. Most places have been raided clear of anything worth its price tag, and the loudspeakers are blaring ETAs for new stock refills.
"Operator." I say, into my scarf microphone. "Look into if the voklit here have ordered a larger stock than normal. They most likely took advantage of the opportunity, but we can't rule out the possibility they were in on the whole thing."

>You're going to be mistaken for a child
And it is not helping that I am piggybacking on Rokoa, but this place is legitimately dangerous below the 4 foot mark. I am sensing more than a couple neumono that have been stepped on.

"So you wanna go searching for Pilon or tell Santa what you want for christmas?"
No. 622584 ID: fef726

There is a thought. Pilon would make a good Santa with all the white fluff.

Lets go find a Santa.
No. 622585 ID: bdfc23

Santa needs to know what you want for christmas! WAIT... PILON IS A MALL SANTA. OH NO IT ALL MAKES HORRIBLE SENSE NOW.
No. 622587 ID: d958ad

...what if Pilon IS Santa? He's fluffy enough to play the part. Go find the Santa.

Also keep in mind he is pretty tall so he'll stick out above the crowd.
No. 622590 ID: a18f15

>So you wanna go searching for Pilon or tell Santa what you want for christmas?
...if he's still employed as an actor there's an unfortunate chance he may be a mall Santa.

If Santa appears to have huge ears from a distance, you might have to pretend to be a child to get close to him.

"What would you like for Christmas, little one?"
"For a certain private investigator to tell me everything he knows about the Grinch. ...also, a nice coffee cake."
No. 622592 ID: d90668

Awww yeah go sit in Santa's lap.
No. 622615 ID: 0ee153

"Some coffee cake and you.

Although Pilon might actually be one of the Santas. If he isn't keep an eye out for the ears, he's tall enough to stick out."
No. 622636 ID: eb959a

Realize how ridiculous your life has become, hope beyond hope that it dosen't get worse.
Realize how ridiculous this mission has become, despair at the fact that its probably going to get worse.
No. 622714 ID: b88e47

Go see Santa. It's our best chance of finding Pilon.
No. 622721 ID: 602cd8
File 142250572837.png - (228.36KB , 800x800 , 103.png )

>What if Pilon is Santa?
Unlikely. Pilon is a high target, and if he is trying to lay low, being at the center of a gigantic christmas tree would be a poor decision.

>But what if Pilon is Santa?
I don't think so. It is most likely neumono children that would go towards such an event, and without any realistic intent on actually handing such presents out, the experience would be mentally disappointing for the kids.

>I bet Pilon is Santa
Improbable. The voklits have outfitted and themed this place around voklit tribes, and at most, given their own twist on christmas. To hire a neumono mall santa would be severely out of place.

>"Are you thinking Pilon is Santa?"
"I bet that pile of fluff is. He's an actor, right, and a good one? Let's go see."
"No. It's a waste of time."
Come on, I see the top of the tree just over there, we can look down this balcony.
"Damn, you're actually afraid he is, aren't you?"
No. 622725 ID: 602cd8
File 142250598611.png - (195.15KB , 800x800 , 104.png )

"... No. That's not Pilon." It's probably Pilon.
"Well we gotta go ask to make sure. You know what that means, don't you?"

>Pretend to be a child to get close to him.
No. 622726 ID: 602cd8
File 142250599504.png - (157.60KB , 800x800 , 105.png )

We get in line.

>"Oh my gosh, miss, your child is adorable"! a tall lady behind us says.

I don't say anything, but I can't stop thinking it.

I am NOT a child!

>"And so fiesty, too!"

also Polo if you don't want to sit in his lap I will

Pilon's empathy is surprisingly... in character. It's as though he legitimately is going to make an attempt to get all the kids their presents.
No. 622727 ID: ea0ad9

>"Don't tell me to surrender. I am not a child, and I intend on sitting in the adult seats."
Here's a tip: place the shoulder strap BEHIND you. For a larger person, that would be more dangerous, but for you, it's more dangerous to have it in front, as it could snap your neck in an accident.
>There is a thought. Pilon would make a good Santa with all the white fluff.
Yes, go tell Santa you want some Coffee Cake.
No. 622728 ID: b88e47

Well go sit on his lap and .... ask for whatever it was you needed.
No. 622729 ID: bdfc23

ROKOA: Force polo to sit on his lap, skip in line if you must to cause a big scene.

POLO: Realise this is what you must do for the mission.
No. 622730 ID: d958ad

Go ask for the Grinch's head on a plate.
No. 622731 ID: d90668

Aww come on when else will you get a free chance to sit on his lap? You can tug on his huge ears even.

So figure out what you want for Christmas and ask him for it. Just avoid causing a scene so we do not ruin things for the children.
No. 622733 ID: 76e97b

Tell Santa you want a normal fucking partner for Christmas.
No. 622734 ID: fc154d

What is Pilon's empathy is so believable because he DOES intend on giving everyone their presents? Maybe he's in league with the Grinch and stole all the presents so he could make good on his promises!

....Nah, that's stupid. He's probably just a good actor. Or been mind-fucked by a predator.
No. 622740 ID: bb78f2

Listen, the second we put Polo on his lap sexual things are going to pop into Polo's head and then this whole fucking place is going to explode from that empathy and confusion.

If you get into his lap, Polo, you go SILENT. Don't say no sexual shit's gonna pop in your head. You've seen the porno's with the grown women in the santa laps and the naughty lists. Or, well, you know of them.

Polo, it's too late, Rokoa's going to force you into his lap, people will be staring if you throw a tantrum to try and stay in character and avoid his lap, and you're brain's going to go a mile a minute. Go silent, get in character as a child, or risk the quickest change from Christmas spirit to riot.
No. 622741 ID: a18f15

>Pilon is a high target, and if he is trying to lay low, being at the center of a gigantic christmas tree would be a poor decision.
If you're avoid assassins, making yourself too public to hit isn't the worst idea.

>Oh my gosh, miss, your child is adorabl
Be glad there's apparently too much empathic noise here for here to notice there's no way you two are from the same hive, let alone related.

>also Polo if you don't want to sit in his lap I will
That won't work. She's an ex-hivemate, and will ping all his rogue nerves. If we're going for stealth it has to be you.

C'mon, Polo. Undercover stealth work. For the mission. You trained for this. Swallow your dignity and get to it.

>Pilon's empathy is surprisingly... in character. It's as though he legitimately is going to make an attempt to get all the kids their presents.
Well, let's give him a chance to do that, then. Helping you get the Grinch will get their stuff for Christmas, hopefully. (In b4 Pilon is the real neumono Santa).

Go give him your Christmas list. A normal partner, a nice coffee cake, and a complete dossier of everything you need to take down the Grinch.

Plus, hey, you might as well enjoy the chance to sit in the lap of a guy you thought was cute.
No. 622748 ID: c7afcd

Polo get in character by doing your BEST to look cute and adorable.

And if Santa gives you a pre-prepared, pre-wrapped gift make sure to ask Mommy Rokoa if it is ok to open it.
No. 622755 ID: a58735

It'd sure be nice if you could selectively silence some thoughts and leave others broadcasting. Oh well, can't keep dawdling in the land of dreams and make-believe.

Right, so this is all very amusing, but as soon as you reveal anything to this guy his empathy is going to change and everyone's going to know something's up. The only way this is going to work is if you trick him into thinking you're a kid, too. Then you ask him for things that would make him think of his investigation and watch his empathy for signs of that.

So, first of all, dredge up your memories of childhood and wallow in them. Aim for a later childhood, early teens feeling - young enough that your 'mother' dragged you along for this and pushed you to it, but old enough to explain any feelings of resentment, skepticism and awkwardness. You tell him you don't really buy into this stuff but the old lady is excited by all this and you're putting up with it for her. She's a cop and she's had to work hard because a ton of delivery vans have been robbed, so the only thing you'd ask for is info that could help her out with that so that the case can be solved and you can enjoy the holidays.
No. 622761 ID: d5e685

Oh come on Polo, this is your first christmas! Haven't you ever wanted to experience the wonders of sitting on Santa's lap?

Besides, if you don't sit on his lap, Rokoa will, and I'm sure nobody wants to see that.
No. 622779 ID: 0ee153

This seems like the best option. Swallow your pride or Rokoa will end up making things humiliating anyway.

Also, try not to think about a threesome. Don't think about getting naked with both of them, or even just with Rokoa. That'd ruin the disguise.
No. 622782 ID: fe4bfc


Oh I love this idea. If you could pull it off you would have him in the palm of your hand. He can't run off or be quiet or the kids would notice something wrong.

Plus it will make a great story later.
No. 622794 ID: df6309

Like I said Polo, despair, for its only going to get sillier.
No. 622830 ID: 602cd8
File 142259385359.png - (161.32KB , 800x800 , 106.png )

>Don't say no sexual shit's gonna pop in your head.
No, I am going to say that.

>Also, try not to think about a threesome.
>Don't think about getting naked with both of them, or even just with Rokoa.

>Haven't you ever wanted to experience the wonders of sitting on Santa's lap?
I have actually not.

I get off Rokoa. I am not the only one who finds him cute, and Rokoa is not the only adult who wants to sit in his lap. I can see that this has already been addressed, incorrectly.

Nonetheless, unwholesome thoughts are typical for heavily populated areas of many neumono gathering together. People are going to think things, and others will know it. It would have to be significantly obscene or out of place to turn an eye.

Which is what I risk causing. The out of place thing, I mean.

>Swallow your pride, act like a child
I have to do this. There's a long line, but we wait.

>"Hohoho, next child, the cute young lady!"

It might be even easier than I think. The girl ahead of me was a minor, yet she was larger than myself. Even a bit taller than the sign would have allowed, although the rulekeeping seems lax.
No. 622831 ID: 602cd8
File 142259390754.png - (174.99KB , 800x800 , 107.png )

... he's huge and not even a little intimidating.

"Hello." I have to employ a lot of concentration to avoid sending awkward empathic thoughts. Now that I and Pilon are at the center of many people's attention, our thoughts will get scrutinized more. The fact that I'm concentrating on my thoughts hard will also be read, but it is not uncommon to do so, especially for nervous or shy individuals.
>"And what would you like for christmas?"
"I'm uh..." I've got to act like a kid.

Except that as soon as I sit down on his lap, somehow he realises I'm an adult.

He doesn't think I'm a kid.

Now I am nervous.

"I'd like a normal partner, for starters." I say. Much of my plan fell apart right on execution. "... my partner is a cop, and she has to work hard because a ton of delivery cans have been robbed." Somehow this isn't going terribly. Pilon doesn't appear to care that I'm an adult, he just wants to... well, try to give me a good christmas.

It's still like he's not even acting.

>He's probably just a good actor. Or been mind-fucked by a predator.
Uh oh.

This still somehow isn't going disasterously. I'm not the only one who thought it was weird that Pilon is acting like an actual Santa Claus. Even many of the kids thought it. But there's too many minds on me. I can't go silent.

"... I want to hunt down the Grinch to get all the stolen presents back. You're Pilon, right?"
>"Ah, I'd love to help. Let me tell you my backstory."
No. 622832 ID: 602cd8
File 142259396962.png - (146.69KB , 800x800 , 108.png )

>"I used to be a normal neumono like you and all others in this mall, yes, but the christmas thief, in all his hatred of most giving holiday, sent his predators to change me. Most neumono can't defend themselves against such creatures, but I am as old as the moonlit forest itself, and have learned how to partition my mind. And so I split myself in two. One was my old self, who was eaten. But the other was my good spirit, my charitable and loving side, and that was not something that I would let anyone touch. I would become the embodiment of christmas itself, in order to become the very thing that the grinch hoped to destroy. And that is the story about how I became Neumono Santa Claus."
"... I believe you have information we can use to stop him." I ask, trying to pretend that I am just asking questions able mythology. No one can hear us this far off, and external hive members can only get so much clarity on other's empathy. I think I pick out a couple of people thinking I'm weird, but as soon as I pick up on them picking up, they mentally stare back down as though I looked them in the eye. "And I believe I can get those memories back."
>"I would love to assist you, but I'm sorry, miss, I have a conflicting promise. The Voklit have agreed to help me gather all of the christmas presents I can for all of the children who ask, but only under the promise that I remain here until christmas morning. And that is what I promised, and so it is here that I must stay. It does hurt now, because I understand the severe nature of your concerns. If you do think that I have secrets that will bring back all those lost presents, then please, either find a way to help me right here, or get the Voklit to retract the promise I gave them, at least for the length of time you would need."

Bringing Three Stripes through a crowded mall would be laughable.

"How can I get the Voklit to agree?"
>"I do not know, but I believe their interests lay in me attracting customers, and so perhaps the solution would simply be a monetary substitute for my absence. Is there anything more you would like?"
"... coffee cake."
>"Then I will do my best to give you the best coffee cake you could ever hope for."
No. 622835 ID: d90668

Dang they got to him to. At least he came through it somewhat ok.

Well unless you know some secret way of unfucking his mind its off to management to convince them to help out.

Which will be tricky. You have no real authority here and if you are not careful with Rokoa she could piss them off fast. A bunch of money might work but might not be enough. They wont be able to find a draw like Pilon easily.

Well tell him you will do your best and to keep up the good work. And that you look forward to meeting the real him later on.
No. 622836 ID: d958ad

Tell him even if you can't get the Voklits to let you go early, you're going to help him afterwards. He doesn't have to be Santa forever.
No. 622837 ID: a18f15

>>"Then I will do my best to give you the best coffee cake you could ever hope for."
Thank you.

Then excuse yourself and go.

Explain to Rokoa that the Grinch got to him first, and mindfucked him so hard he really thinks he's Santa now. And if we want to get him out of here so you-know-who can fix him, we're going to have to convince the voklit to let us take him. A bunch of voklit who stand to lose sales if we do so, and who would be rather glad to see neumono inconvenienced by this Grinch mess.

...we're going to need one hell of a sales pitch. And no, forcibly extracting him is not an option. We don't have the authority here, or the firepower. And the higher ups are not going to go to war over this.

*Sigh* First thing to do would be to figure out who we even need to talk to.
No. 622838 ID: 621c58

>Bringing Three Stripes through a crowded mall would be laughable.
What about if we disguise him as a reindeer?
No. 622839 ID: 0ee153

I'm pretty sure our jurisdiction extends to Pilon here, the same way a criminal isn't safe just because he crossed a border. He's involved in the case.

But Polo did say our funds were unlimited if we could justify it... heh. I have an idea.

Call Az. Tell him the voklits would need a temporary replacement for Pilon so you can get the info out of him, and there are lots of MILFs in the mall. Try to convince him to take Pilon's place. I'm sure the Ultraking will be great advertising, and he could probably spin it into good PR too.
No. 622840 ID: a18f15

I meant we don't have the jurisdiction to force the voklit to give him up. We're effectively foreign agents in another country right now, and extradition is pretty tricky if there's no formal treaty for it and/or the other country has reason to want to hold onto someone.

Offering them Az in place of Pilon is brilliant though. He loves to ham it up, and and ultraking is sure to attract enough attention that the voklits' pockets will be happy.
No. 622841 ID: bb78f2

If Az is coming tell him to visit Three Stripes to make him as Jolly and Santay as possible without messing with his original personality. Just make him give off the empathy of wanting to give gifts to children and for them to have a happy christmas.
No. 622842 ID: 04b86a

Then it would still be laughable, only it'd be for the sort of reason that a CAI would consider to be a compelling argument.

It's a shame no one who could get him sent here is crazy enough to actually go for the plan.

I'm assuming, of course, that by "disguise" you mean "stick a pair of fake antlers on his head and call it good enough."
No. 622844 ID: d958ad

Oh, this reminds me... is it taboo to date outside your hive? Or with a rogue? (in this alternate universe?)
No. 622850 ID: 608f4c

Oh dear, I just had an horrible suspicion. Quick, scan the surroundings for any suspicious reindeer!
No. 622852 ID: 8f01e8

You don't have to bring Three Stripes through a crowded mall. You've got that empathic relay back in the evidence locker! Just repair it, build a second one for Three Stripes' end of the connection, maybe add a weak jammer so it's touch range only. Then you can construct additional Pilons from a safe distance.
No. 622853 ID: 321d85

This...sounds like a terrible idea. But also like it might work.

AHAHAHA, I've saved this image to my hard drive, and basically every time I look at it, even now, I still giggle over the stupidly incongruous expression on Polo's face.
No. 622857 ID: c8e05d

Oh. Yes. Using the empathic relay would work, if we can. (Although we might need two- one on each end. Hopefully our science guys could reproduce it in a hurry?).
No. 622860 ID: ea0ad9

That's entirely brilliant... If that doesn't work, best you could do is bribe the Volkit into letting Pilon go for a bit. They're after the money, after all.
No. 622896 ID: 602cd8
File 142266082587.png - (167.97KB , 800x800 , 109.png )

> At least he came through it somewhat ok.
Aside from turning into an actual santa, yes. Like Lamarra, he would have the memories. And, hopefully, he can be reconstructed to his old self as well.

>What about if we disguise him as a reindeer?
..... I'll keep that on the table.

>I'm pretty sure our jurisdiction extends to Pilon here, the same way a criminal isn't safe just because he crossed a border.
While voklit are often receptive towards extraditing criminals for us, if they wish to keep Pilon, we currently don't have the means to extract him without straining relations.

"I'll help you after christmas even if I can't help you before."
>"Thank you."
"Who can I speak to about your employment here?"
>"I'll make a call." says Pilon who, after making a brief phonecall, directs me to the rooftop of the mall where I can talk to someone.
"Thank you once again."

"You actually blushed!" points out Rokoa, upon my leaving Pilon's lap.
"They got a predator to him. He thinks he's actually santa now."
"Why didn't they just kill him?"
"It looks like he may have been able to get away, somehow. He can't remember, but we'll find out."

"Katzati, can we get a relayer between TS and the voklit mall?"
>"Let me see... sorry, but sending a relayer into a public, voklit, place suddenly is a big no-no, we can't send that unless we have undeniable proof that Pilon knows anything and that it will help, and even then it'll take a long time to organize."
"Alright. Put Az on the line."
>"Will do."
>"Hey Polo what's up?" says Az.
"I've made contact with Pilon. A predator got to him, and he thinks he's actually santa. We can do the same thing we did with Lamarra, except that Pilon won't leave without the voklit's go-ahead."
>"What do the voklit have to do with this?"
"Apparently Pilon made a promise to be a mall santa for them."
>"And what's keeping you from taking him away?"
"Pilon made a promise to them, and won't willingly go until either the voklits go ahead. I'm going to try to bribe them, but if they don't accept a reasonable price, are you willing to come down? You are the only neumono I know that could... sort of sit in for Pilon."
>"What, is he some kind of super badass?"
"No, he's nice and popular, and you're... more popular."
>"Polo that is one of the most interesting ideas you've sent me, and maybe also the best and also maybe the worst. Yeah okay, if you get another legitimate field subject for Three Stripes, then I'll come down there. Be sure to seal the deal with the voklit first and run it by me. And none of that bowing to the voklit shit, if they want to do some ritual it's gonna be 5 minutes top of the sharing smoke pipes."
"Alright. I'll keep you updated.
>"Yeah do that, and you better run the deal by me, verbatim, first. Those voklit can be shifty bastards."
".... if you come here, please don't say that."
No. 622897 ID: 602cd8
File 142266083938.png - (182.01KB , 800x800 , 110.png )

We make our way to the rooftop. A voklit is already there.

>"Greetings, neumono who have been allowed to trespass onto voklit ground." he says, of which I pause on 'allowed to trespass'. "I am Silver Gust, who is heir to Silver Cloud, who oversees this land, the Silver Cloud."
"My name is Polo, and this is Rokoa."
"He really speaks like a voklit."
"... we would like to talk about Pilon's employment here."
>"State your business with the Calmer of Neumono."
"I would like to take him on an 8 hour break immediately." It may not take that long, but we don't know how fast Three Stripes can do this.
>"We cannot allow that. Our neumono employoees have reported that he has spread good will cleaned their minds of stress and wallet related reservations, like the birds within the alligator's maw. This must wait until after your adoption of the alien ideals."
"We can make it worth your while. If it's money you want, we will recompensate for Pilon's absent."
>"You are desperate for the grey fluff, like the starving bison upon a carpet of grass. Tell me how you plan to recompensate us."
"With only an 8 hour absence, and not charging anyone money to see Pilon to begin with, I cannot expect that 5,000 zeny won't be sufficient."
>"No. You take us to do anything for money? No amount of money can accomplish what Pilon is doing, as though you are supplying us with flinging stones so that we may fish."
"... what if we got a neumono substitute for Pilon?"
>"What other neumono could possibly believe himself to be santa claus?"
"... not santa claus, but what if I brought Ultraking Az here?"
>"Hahaha, if you manage to bring Az, then the voklit may yet accept stones so that we may hunt the birds while others do the fishing."
"We would still have to pay?"
>"Yes. How much would you offer us?"
"For this, I think that a donation of 5,000 zeny will be plenty." It's almost nothing if this actually works, but I expect to haggle.
>"Such a petty amount! For one so desperate as to be able to call upon Az, we expect that 30,000 zeny will be pocket change for he who calls themselves so mighty."
No. 622898 ID: bdfc23

No deal, walk away.
No. 622899 ID: 88960e

It is not an act of desperation to call a great warrior and leader to the field. It is an act of respect.

You would insult us by raising the price to show you this respect? You would imply that his presence would be a burden to be compensated for?

Also, remember they promised to help Pilon get presents out to as many neumono as possible. We need this break to help him to that. Rufusing to let us help him means they're going back on their own deal.

Haggle the price back down.
No. 622900 ID: d958ad

Haggle. How about 12,000?

30k is a high fucking price but it's not completely unaffordable is it? If we can haggle that down to like 20k... Be sure to run it by Az before agreeing to the price, of course, and get a clearly defined agreement too.
No. 622904 ID: f61b8d

If it matters, about how much is one zeny? Like, how many zeny does an average middle-class job pay per hour?

Maybe it's not important, because these matters might be out of the normal scale of financial dealings, anyway.
No. 622905 ID: 0ee153

Go up to 7,000. I'm willing to bet he highballed it to see how desperate we were.
No. 622918 ID: bb78f2

"Well, this is clearly something you need to haggle over with Az if we're talking about his money then. We got him to like the idea over communications, but obviously if we're going to enter a business contract with money considering him, the man himself needs to do the deal. Not like any paperwork or deal would even be rightfully legal if we just did it here without his input."

He said run it by him first. We have to.
No. 622951 ID: 7d265e

...maybe we shouldn't have worn the tourist trash to these negotiations? Or would it be disrespectful to remove the headdresses now.
No. 623426 ID: 602cd8
File 142301986889.png - (149.66KB , 800x800 , 111.png )

>maybe we shouldn't have worn the tourist trash to these negotiations? Or would it be disrespectful to remove the headdresses now.
Voklit might be offended by seemingly arbitrary things, but considering that it was them who stocked this tourist trash, I feel it would be unreasonable even for them.

>If it matters, about how much is one zeny?
Under 30,000 in a year is the poverty line.

I turn my microphone back on for Katzati, so that she can patch it through to Az if he cares to listen and give any input.

"7,000. Calling upon one of our strongest warriors should not be seen as being desperate, but as respect."
>"Such as the respect he gave us upon stripping us of all our land from us, or the respect he gave his beloved alien overseers when he took our land after they said not to? No. Ultraking Az coming here is only accepted as an offering allowing further negotiations."

Damnit, Az.

"Then this. You promised Pilon to help him deliver as many presents as possible. We require his presence in order to do just that. Keeping him from us would be holding your promise back."
>"And what requires the Grey One's presence, that cannot be performed here?"
"That is classified."
>"Hmph, so you have nothing more?"
No. 623428 ID: 602cd8
File 142301997377.png - (168.31KB , 800x800 , 112.png )

You're really nailing this one, Polo. Rokoa sarcastically emits, while she does nothing to help.

>"Don't give 'em more than ten grand, Polo." says Az, who is listening after all, and speaking through my internal ear piece that I've had all this time and only just now is convenient to use. "You give them what they want, and they're just gonna want more."

"Fine, then. 10,000 zeny. We aren't going to pay more."
>"You must. 10,000 may be acceptable, even if it is pocket change. Understand our Chief's electric bills soar, like the eagle. First, however. You, who looks upon me like the disrespectful neumono of old." says Silver Gust, looking at Rokoa. "You are with her, and you would be part of paying us 10,000 Zeny, yet I can feel your disrespect as though I shared your empathic ways. I will accept this money, if you bow."
"I'm not bowing."
>"Bow, or I will not accept your money."
"Not gonna bow."
"Just bow, Rokoa."
>"Bow before I, within my own territory, of which you intrude."
"I'm not gonna grovel at your feet just so you can line your chair with cash, voklit."
"It's just bowing, Rokoa."
"Not to him it isn't."
>"Tell Rokoa Az said to bow, Polo."
"Az says to Bow, Rokoa."
"I don't care if my mother told me to bow, not like she would, I'm not doing it."
"She's not doing it, Az."
>"That's some bullshit I didn't expect, Polo."
>"Bow, neumono, or - "

This exchange, if it can be called an exchange of any kind, is interrupted by a phone call to Silver Gust.

>"There are others who have wished to purchase Pilon's time. They are offering far more than yourself."
"How much?"
>"50,000 zeny."
"Do they also have a replacement for Pilon?"
>"No, they have already shown respect for us in other ways." I can't imagine what hoops the 50,000 bidder leapt through, in that case.

>"Oh fuck that and fuck this, I'm prepping an extraction." Az says.
>"No, you're not, Az!" I hear Lucera in the background yell, despite being below Az. "It's our jobs on the line too, Ultraking!"
No. 623430 ID: d958ad

Tell him you are very sure that if Pilon is allowed to leave with these other bidders, he will not return in any condition to continue working. Also, it is in his best interest to reveal who the bidder is.

Maybe we can show respect in other ways, as well? Rokoa won't bow, but maybe something else can be arranged? A favor or service rendered?

Regardless of the response, let's use this as a trap. Let the high bidders come. We will ambush them as they try to extract Pilon. We won't NEED Pilon if we can get more clues from the high bidders.
No. 623440 ID: 88960e

>Rokoa won't bow
>Az is prepping a forced extraction
Time for cowboy diplomacy, I think.

Shoot her in the knee. Make her bow.

>annother interest is willing to pay
All the voklit can do is realease Pilon from his obligation to stay here. They can't make him go with anyone else unless he wants.
No. 623441 ID: bb78f2

Tell the voklit that bowing is not a form of respect for Rokoa. An honorable fight is though. She'd fight you if he'd prefer some form of respect, or another champion, if he's just a mushy businessman.

Listen, dude, just take the money or there's probably going to be a fight anyway and then Rokoa's going to dishonorably kill you and then ruin this place because we can't control her at this point. We take no responsibility for Rokoa past this warning as she is a very impulsive woman. It is NOT a threat, it is advice because, as you can see, we cannot control our friend here.

So take the money or take the money and the honorable fight or take the dishonorable execution at the hands of a loose-cannon, then unemployed, police officer. His choice.

No. 623445 ID: d958ad

>can't make Pilon go with the high bidders
That is a good point. Once Pilon's out of Voklit hands... can't we just steal him from the high bidders who are almost certainly Grinch thugs?
No. 623450 ID: d90668

I agree with Rokoa here. The Volkit are taking advantage of someone who is currently mentally incapable of consent. They are throwing honor away for money and are using there past friendship with Pilon to milk him for all he is worth.

So call them out on there bullshit. Having Pilon help with Christmas while he is in this condition is one thing. But selling him off to the people who did this to him is disgusting.

As for Az just tell him to mobilize a carrier or something just outside the Volkit lands. If the grinch tries to send someone to pick Pilon up he can grab them.

And let the chief know if he starts working with known terrorists he can kiss any treaties he has goodbye. All we have to do is leak word that they helped the Grinch who stole Christmas and public opinion will make sure bad things happen. God I can already see the news reports now. Pictures of Pilon as santa looking cute with a big question mark over his face and the headline "Santa Kidnapped!". Then lots of videos of crying children.
No. 623454 ID: 0ee153

These. They might somehow not be aware that he's loopy in the head, no empathy after all. Try the honor bit first, then the fight. If that doesn't work, tell Rokoa to kill him. I doubt she doesn't have a weapon hidden on her.
No. 623460 ID: b5d98b

Its sad to see how low the volkits have fallen. Selling friends and honor for money. I wonder what your forefathers would say if they saw us here today. Would they betray a friends trust for money and petty spite?
No. 623462 ID: 7d265e

The big problem here is we want to get Pilon out without causing an international incident. A forced extraction of Pilon would work now, but their would be civilians hurt in that mall, the voklit would fight, and it would basically be a disaster. At the very least, it would ruin the careers of everyone involved. It could swell to be a larger political problem than that.

>just kill him
...we certainly don't have the legal authority for that. And killing one voklit leader would hardly solve our problems.

>"That is classified."
He is aware that Pilon was attacked and injured prior to his employment at their mall? We offer a means to remedy that.

>not bowing
Something empathic along the lines "damnit Rokoa, if you won't bow to his authority, bow to mine. We need this, I'll make it up to you."

Or we could try the diplomatic approach. She's like you- she won't bow to anyone who hasn't proven themselves worthy of that respect. I suggest if you want it, you take the chance to earn it, directly.
No. 623473 ID: 0ee153

>no legal authority
Self-defense is legal everywhere, and he's already enslaved one mind-raped neumono, then tried to sell him to the Grinch. We're perfectly within our rights to kill him if he tries anything funny with us.
No. 623482 ID: 71b063

Ask Rokoa what it was her Queen said to her when she sent her with you. Something about backrubs? Laundry? Doing exactly what she's told?
No. 623489 ID: 82efdc

Assassinating someone being uncooperative in a negotiation is not self defense, by any stretch of the imagination. (Not that neumono statute would hold any water in voklit territory anyways).

And holding someone to a (perhaps unfair) work contract over the holidays isn't illegal, slavery, or even uncommon. And one can make the case that taking advantage of altered mental states for profit is the entire business model of a casino anyways.

Nevermind that we're supposed to be bound to rules about appropriate use of force. Or that killing him doesn't get us what we want. It'll enrage the other voklit, who won't release Pilon to us (and who will very likely try to kill us, when we aren't in full gear) and it won't stop Az from sending a hard extraction force into the middle of a mall slash reservation, or prevent the mess that will cause.
No. 623494 ID: 8f01e8

Go ahead, get the extraction stuff ready, just use it to grab Pilon when he leaves the reservation in the custody of that competing bidder.
No. 623741 ID: b88e47

"10k and no bow, or 10k and an asswhooping."
No. 623839 ID: 3ed831

make a deal with Rokoa to make her bow. something she wants of you as long as it is within reason.
No. 624155 ID: 602cd8
File 142345045636.png - (162.69KB , 800x800 , 113.png )

>Kill him
I would like to go to a single place this mission without it turning into a firefight, especially one where I shot first.

"One moment. Az, just leave a carrier nearby. We can intercept Pilon if the other bidders purchase Pilon."
>"Hey, good idea, we'll let others' pay out the ass for him."

"Are you aware that Pilon has had his mind altered? Neumono don't typically think themselves as santa."
>"I was not. Supply me proof."
"We have reason to suspect a predator was involved."
>"And what is your proof?"
"My primary argument for this is that he believes he's Santa Claus."
>"And your Ultraking believes himself to be honorable."

>He's selling out Pilon for cash
This would be awful, but I cannot call him out on it effectively, as it's merely cash to retract their agreement with Pilon and allow him to leave. It is only offensive if they are actually handing Pilon over against his will. I fear that the Grinch's thugs may have a means, though, to convince Pilon. If they simply were to force him out, or if they did not have means to convince Pilon by his own accord then there is no point in bidding for this. Even if there was it's useless to enter a bidwar when there is no benefit for someone to get the voklit to retract their contract when someone else would so it. It opens the same window for everyone.

"I believe Pilon was a friend of your tribes, correct?"
>"Moreso to our chief and my father, but a friend of my father's is a friend of mine."
"It is in his best interests, and yours, that you reveal these other bidders to us."
>"I might have introduced you to your competitor, but the large one has not even bowed."
"...damnit. Rokoa, bow to him! Our objective is more important than your pride or mine!"
"I'm not compromising my pride."
"Silver Gust, she doesn't bow to people who haven't proved it. The only thing she listens to is force. If you can beat her in combat, she'll bow." I say that with all the presumption I've ever had, but it ends up being true based on Rokoa's mental response.
>"No. We are a peaceful tribe, and would not sully our hands by doing battle simply to have someone who owes us respect to show it."
I turn back to Rokoa.
"You might not care if your mother tells you to, but what about your queen? I remember her saying something about doing anything I say. Backrubs and laundry. Do I need to call her to get her to tell you to bow, too?"
".... no. You don't need to call her."
No. 624156 ID: 602cd8
File 142345047438.png - (142.26KB , 800x800 , 114.png )

She starts edging out a bow.
No. 624157 ID: 602cd8
File 142345048692.png - (153.64KB , 800x800 , 115.png )

It ends up deep. She's at least going the full mile now that she's doing it. Voklit ideas of respect and trades can be convoluted, tenuous and arbitrary at best, but even by usual stereotypes, Silver Gust is bad. I legitimately did not want to force Rokoa to bow, but I did mean my words. I'd sacrifice any of my own dignity if it even marginally increased the chances of catching the grinch. Unfortunately, Silver Gust is demanding her's in particular.

>"Very well. That is a good bow, neumono, you would do well to take such posture in the future."

Don't go on a power trip and rub it in, bastard.

I believe Rokoa catches on to my misgivings, at least.
No. 624158 ID: 602cd8
File 142345049771.png - (137.29KB , 800x800 , 116.png )

Nonetheless, I am hoping that a little bit of time will eliminate her currently aggressive thoughts of murdering this voklit and beating my snout inwards.

"Do I need your permission to get back up?"
"No. Thank you, Rokoa." I almost want to apologize. I almost want to run.

>"Come, then, I shall bring you."
No. 624159 ID: 602cd8
File 142345050623.png - (140.08KB , 800x800 , 117.png )

Silver Gust shows us to a restaurant, where a Pomi with stranger fashion headgear than us is sitting. He points us to that table, and walks off.

This could be a trap set for us, but it's still well within the public area of the mall. None of the other patrons look suspicious.
No. 624161 ID: d958ad

Don't underestimate the Grinch. That entire underground hideout was compromised. What makes you think this restaurant isn't? Ask Rokoa to keep a lookout while you talk to the Pomi. Find out who they are and what their business is with Pilon (it's probably Miss). Also maybe how they got their hands on all that cash. Lastly, their timing is suspicious. You're gonna want an explanation about that.

Ask for ID, of course. Also tell them to keep their hands visible.
No. 624163 ID: ea0ad9

I don't know why, but something about that hat rubs me wrong.
No. 624166 ID: bb78f2

You know, you DID have proof, Polo.
Pilon straight up admitted to locking part of his mind away to defend himself from a predator.
He is a witness to his victimization.
No. 624171 ID: d90668

Need to have a chat with Rokoa about the difference between a cop and a agent. You have your job because you can get the job done no matter what. Being able to swallow your pride is a strength not a weakness.

As for the Pomi you better assume they have been here the whole time. They have probably been assigned to watch over Pilon in case anyone approached him. As soon as word got to them that you where here and trying to move him they put there plan into motion. And if the buying his contract thing does not work you can bet they have backup plans.

Remember that they could have killed the people they tampered with. They had a reason for leaving them alive. Might have been to avoid drawing attention to themselves but there could be other reasons you do not know about yet.

Just make sure if anything happens its not you firing the first shot. You want the Volkits on your side.
No. 624172 ID: 82efdc

>I almost want to apologize. I almost want to run.
Note to self: you owe your terrifying partner. Find a way to make this up to her, at the first available opportunity.

Take a seat and introduce yourself as her apparent rival at the Christmas bachelor action.

Testimony really isn't proof, though. Evidence, not proof. The real problem is would be difficult to present empathic evidence to any non-neumono, since they can't perceive it directly. I suppose the civilians could testify that his empathy is unusual.
No. 624182 ID: 602cd8
File 142345879845.png - (152.26KB , 800x800 , 118.png )

>Proof: Pilon straight up admitted to locking part of his mind away to defend himself from a predator.
It would have been nice to say this first. But Silver Gust's retort against Pilon saying he was Santa Clause was so ridiculous, that I don't believe having Pilon himself say it would be taken with much weight.

"Rokoa, watch my back for me. There's a good chance the Grinch has compromised this restaurant, if not the whole casino."
She says nothing, but she'll do it.

>It's Miss
That is what I am going to refer to her as until I know her name, yes.

>Something about that hat rubs me wrong.
In my current situation, I cannot judge.

"Hello, Miss?"
>"How'd you know my name?"
".... that is not a name."
>"Hey, don't tell me what my parents did or didn't name me! You're kinda rude yourself, miss."
"That... nevermind. Excuse me. I am Polo, your apparent rival. What is your business with Pilon?"
>"What's it to you?"
"For one thing, it's a lot of cash. Where'd you get all that from?"
>"I just won it big from roulette, if you gotta know! I even won a silly hat. If you don't believe me, then just go ask."
"And you just happened to use it on trying to get Pilon away from his santa gig?"
>"Hey, you should know all about people telling what you can and can't do with your allowances, kiddie."
"The timing of this is also suspicious. I was dealing with voklit to do the same thing."
>"Well, dang. I shoulda just let you pay then, huh? I mean, shouldn't you be thanking me? Well, except I guess not, since once Pilon knows it was me who got him out he'd probably come with me sooner than you. In fact, I should be talking to him now! But I was told to hold on a minute and get a free meal here in exchange to meet up with someone. That someone is you. So uh... was that it?"
"What do you want with Pilon?"
>"What do YOU want from Pilon?"
"... may I see your ID?"
>"No, just call me Miss!"

>"It actually checks out, Polo." says Katzati. "We're running what agents we have there to check out the surveillance cams. She did play roulette, and judging by the reactions, she did win and then go over to talk about getting Pilon released."
No. 624183 ID: d958ad

Hmm. Well, if the whole casino is compromised, and the roulette is rigged, then that could've been staged. Maybe a bit far-fetched though... For now let's treat her as a civilian.

Tell her you're police, and Pilon might have information on a case you're working on, but you need to bring him elsewhere to get that information. Then she'll have to tell you why she wants him, as per the deal.
No. 624186 ID: d90668

While it is possible she has nothing to do with the grinch I would remain skeptical. But there are more players here than just the grinch and am sure that Pilon has friends that would be looking out for him.

Well if you are a friend of Pilon then by all means lets go chat with him. Our goals might me more similar than we think.

If Pilon does know her it would be a simple enough way of figuring out her story.
No. 624187 ID: 82efdc

>won't show her ID
Well, you may see mine. *Flash badge* I'm an agent of the UDA.

>"What do YOU want from Pilon?"
And our interest in Pilon is neumono do not normally convincingly think they are Santa Claus, or describe magic origin stories that sound like predator attacks. Unwilling mental alteration is a serious crime, and we are interested in offering him treatment, as well as investigating it.

>Well, except I guess not, since once Pilon knows it was me who got him out he'd probably come with me sooner than you
Can I take it that you know him, then? If so, surely you must have noticed something is off with him, even without the benefit of empathy.

Ask again what it is she wants with him. Surely Pilon could go with her after we've helped him? If she withdrew her bid, she could still get what she wants, and get to keep the money. She could have her cake and eat it too.
No. 624190 ID: 602cd8
File 142346145820.png - (117.83KB , 800x800 , 119.png )

I take off the voklit headgear for the time being. There's a few others around, but none that appear to be paying us any attention.

"Government business. I am a UDA agent. I take it you know Pilon, then?"
>"Oh, shit, the feds? You're with - you're an agent? Oh, geez, okay, no I don't know Pilon, but I wanted to get to know him!"
"Have you at least noticed something strange about him?"
>"Yeah, actually. I've noticed he's way, way, way too adorable. I want to fuck him!"
"I - what."
>"Oh my gosh, do you not know what he looks like? He is adorable and he is large! Probably large dow-"
"That's enough."
>"Okay, sorry, sorry! I just figured he was up for grabs since I mean, there was a neumono girl who brought him out of the brothel looking all flustered. I think they were doing some kinky stuff cause she was all wearing these fancy looking science gog - ack!" she jumps a little in her chair.
>"Er, no, that was it. I mean, no, there was a neumono girl who brought him out. Of a room."
"You were about to say science goggles."
>"There's a lot of weird headgears around here, you know? Haha you look kinda flustered, you're not actually a kid, are you?"
No. 624194 ID: d958ad

She just got yelled at via an earpiece or something. Look around to see if you notice anyone staring over this way (Scratch is around, I bet). If you don't immediately see who it is, get the earpiece from her (maybe with Rokoa's help) and talk into it. Tell whoever's on the other side to come meet you or you might just decide to investigate Miss's activities in the casino a little closer.

Meanwhile, ask Katzati if she can get any surveillance footage of the goggle-wearing neumono. Just in case Miss and her associate won't talk.
No. 624196 ID: d90668

To be honest I have had similar thoughts about him myself. We got to see some of his videos before we came out here and adorable does not do him justice. And no I am just small.

Her jumping like that makes me suspicious that someone is feeding her lines and said to much when she mentioned the goggles.

Obviously we are supposed to check out this brothel and get mugged and predatored so you cant interfere anymore.

Or she realized halfway through talking about a brothel that you look like a kid and that she just admitted to being in a brothel in front of a cop. People do get nervous around badges after all.

Tell her that brothels are perfectly legal here and you could care less. But you would be interested in which brothel he was at. Tell her if she helps you out you will let Pilon know how she was trying to help him and put a good word in with him. That or suggest a three way and see how she reacts.
No. 624197 ID: d958ad

Hang on, she left something out of her story. How did she show respect?
No. 624199 ID: 82efdc

She just let slip that the Grinch has an agent on site. Korli's here, on site, keeping tabs on Pilon. And she was remotely rebuked for it.

Act as if you didn't catch it, but pass that along as soon as you can. Let Rokoa know via empathy now, if possible.

>Haha you look kinda flustered, you're not actually a kid, are you?
Deadpan sarcasm. Yes, I am. The government employs children to interfere with interspecies prostitution funded by gambling in foreign territory.

(Telling a bad joke and shifting the conversation away from her gaff makes it look more like you missed it- like you either were flustered, or were thinking too much about banter).

>what else do
Ask her if she would be willing to conduct her... liaison, after you've had your chance to talk with him. If he is willing to accept her offer, it's not as if you're going to put him off that, and she can keep her winnings, too.

(She's probably going to make an excuse, since if she's on remote comms and they wanted the Korli slip-up covered, that means she's connected to the Grinch. Still, we have to try, and we have to pretend we don't know).
No. 624212 ID: bb78f2

Miss, I'm smart enough to know who you work for. That someone rigged a roulette wheel with a magnet for you to win, just like how they did it in Grim Fandango, and then buy Pilon with the proceeds.

These people are DICKs, Miss. Huge dicks. They steal from children, and are probably planning to do worse to them. Not only that, but they made Pilon functionally retarded for the time being. So, even if your desire to bone him is true, I have to inform you that it would legally be considered date rape.
No. 624233 ID: 82362a

Find out if Ultraking Az will work as Pilon's proxy for the xenophile Pomi.
No. 624240 ID: e6e219

Before you let her know that the jig is up you should see if you can distract her enough into making more mistakes.

You want to talk about topics that will poke holes in her story. Like here supposed attraction to Pilon. Tell her that you think he is pretty cute and you hear he is a actor as well. Also ask about her lucky gambling streak today and how her trip here has been.

Try to play good cop and be her friend. If she opens up to you a bit her tongue will loosen and she will make more mistakes.

She already stopped for one free meal so maybe you can take advantage of that and give her more free stuff. If you join her for dinner you could order some fancy drinks and try to get her tipsy.
No. 624311 ID: ea0ad9

From what we've heard, Pilon's pretty big on keeping his deals... If she wants to hire him on as an escort, that's her business, and you've got no reason to stop her, only to postpone it. You might even be able to come to an aggreement with her--She helps you out by getting him into the agency to get cured of the enemy's "poison," and you can hand him over to her afterwards. That way she'll get the real experience--Show her the videos. The guy's completely willing to make it real.
No. 624335 ID: 602cd8
File 142352642842.png - (144.79KB , 800x800 , 120.png )

"Yes, actually, the government made minors into UDA agents and had them investigate xenophiles."
>"Okay, point taken! It's just, wow you're short. Like, you can barely see the top of the table."
"A question. How did you show the voklit respect?"
"To purchase Pilon's freedom."
>"... I paid them?"

I suspected as much, the voklit did not care to get respect from aliens. Silver Gust may have just been being vindictive.

> Look around to see if you notice anyone staring over this way
It's still clean.

"Nevermind. I do understand that he is attractive. But I'd like to speak to him first. His mentality has been changed, Miss, and attempting to bring him into a... bedroom would be taking advantage of his current state."
>"Oh, shit? Really? Uh... yeah that's kinda... oh. Er, uh, who's your friend back there staring at us?"
"That is my partner."
>"Is she alright? She's kinda looking unwell."
No. 624336 ID: 602cd8
File 142352644115.png - (183.55KB , 800x800 , 121.png )

Rokoa knows something is up with Miss via my empathy. Her empathy, with the context of that managerial looking voklit talking to her, makes me believe that she's being asked to leave. Perhaps because of her murderous rage mixed with loitering right in front of the restaurant, effectively, if unintentionally, preventing anyone from entering. Or leaving.

"Katzati, run a background check on Miss, and try to get any surveillance on Korli." I murmur in my scarf when I turn around to look.
>"We're on it, but there's not much surveillance in that place. In fact, no surveillance in many consumer areas that aren't main halls or gambling areas or stuff like that. As for Miss, she's checking out clean."

Miss fidgets.

>"So uh, yeah you can talk to Pilon first, just let him know that I paid for his way out and to come see me after you're done doing whatever you're doing with him."
No. 624341 ID: d958ad

...really? She's letting us take Pilon? Well don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Something weird's up with Miss but she's not obstructing us... Probably just a third party that doesn't want to piss off the Grinch.

Also uh, maybe ask your bosses if they know any way to calm Rokoa down because she's very close to killing someone right now and it might be you.
No. 624342 ID: 82efdc

>So uh, yeah you can talk to Pilon first, just let him know that I paid for his way out and to come see me after you're done doing whatever you're doing with him.
That would be agreeable.

Make the deal, arrange for Pilon's pickup, don't have Az call off the intercept team in case we need it (if Miss is working for of with someone, especially the Grinch, we can't trust they won't try something). Go intervene before your partner hurts someone.

Then we follow up on Korli and/or get Pilon out of here.
No. 624346 ID: bb78f2

What's the point of taking him if you're NOT going to have sex with him? Or are you going to rape him regardless?

Well, what we want to do is fix his mentality, so I suppose it wouldn't be rape at that point if Pilon accepted. The thing is, Pilon was only goaded into this deal while under this mentality, tricked by the voklit. There's no guarantee he will follow through once we give him the mental care he needs. You may need to pay HIM to follow through, which means you're paying double for what you thought was only going to be a single purchase.

Your money, Miss. You want to spend it on a drunk gigalo that we're going to take the sober tank first, fine.
No. 624353 ID: ea0ad9

...Is Rokoa's mouth bleeding? Thank Miss for her offer, and agree to take her up on it.
No. 624365 ID: d90668

If she is working for the grinch she is a crappy agent. Unless her job is to keep you here while someone else does something to Pilon.

Tell her you will do just that. Ask for her contact info and tell her she can come with you to meet Pilon if she wants. Mention that if things go well he should be healthy again in a few days.

Need to figure out a way of dealing with Rokoa in social situations. She is great in a fight but a bit creepy in public.
No. 624403 ID: 39d99f

she appears to be gritting her teeth really hard.
No. 624466 ID: c7afcd

Maybe you should give Rokoa a backrub instead to help her calm down
No. 624470 ID: 0ee153

Do this. Seriously, she's gritting her teeth hard enough to draw blood, you need to apologize and Rokoa doesn't care much about words. You need to soothe her pride. Do her laundry and give her a backrub to apologize for invoking that clause.
No. 624563 ID: 602cd8
File 142362317846.png - (147.85KB , 800x800 , 122.png )

"Thanks, Miss. Give me your number. I'll contact you to meet Pilon when he's ready. You know that there is no guarantee that he is interested in aliens, correct?"
>"Yeah I know! It's a risk I'm willing to take. Thanks buddy!"

I receive her number, and go get Rokoa before she starts anything.

"We've got the go-ahead."
"Really? That was easy."
"Yeah. Too easy. Let's go get Pilon, fast. Katzati, arrange for a dropship to show up to pick up Pilon and us."
>"The Chief actually just gave us flying clearance, he's cooperating with us on this one. So just get Pilon and wait for us up top. Oh, and we'll be sending an agent to keep eyes on Miss. It sounds like she knows more than she let on."
No. 624566 ID: 602cd8
File 142362350060.png - (95.36KB , 800x800 , 123.png )


She picks me up by the scarf.

"You know I can feel you're not actually sorry."
"I am. I didn't like that. I'm not sorry as in regretful, I'm sorry as in sympathetic. I would do it again. I would do it if I were in your position."
"Do you know what my position is? Have you ever watched your hivemates get their heads kicked in because they didn't give the 'proper respect', knowing full well what would happen? We spent decades risking our limbs by not bowing down, just so we wouldn't be their doormats. You had me throw all that out. If you haven't, then you don't know my position."
"I can still gather the importance of it. But that was a different time."
"You know that if it wasn't, I wouldn't have let that end in your favor. I'm wrong, though. It wasn't you who made me bow. It was my queen. She doesn't care about my pride. At least you cared a little bit as you trampled it."
"Yeah. I'll make it up to you."
"... I don't know. Backrubs. Your laundry."
"Those are the pettiest fucking make-ups I've ever heard of."
"I don't have much better off hand."
"I didn't say I didn't want those."
"... just get your backpack and let's go."
No. 624569 ID: 602cd8
File 142362377059.png - (221.16KB , 800x800 , 124.png )

Pilon bids farewell to those in line, telling everyone currently in line to write a letter to him that he will read on his return, and lets them know that a replacement is coming while he is gone. We bring him up to the rooftop, where a dropship pilot is waiting for him.

I would ask Katzati to double check this is the right dropship just in case, but Az steps out.

"Hey Polo. I see you brought the giant eared horror." Az says.
>"I'm Pilon, sir Ultraking."
"Yeah, keep your distance. I'm gonna be filing those ears under our documented list of lethal weapons. You're the kind of guy I wished was a girl. Anyway, there's who must be Grinny McSmileface. I've heard a thing about you. Said you were pretty tall, but doesn't seem like that from up here."
"Want me to change your viewing angle?"
"I'm gonna give you a shot, later, whether you change your mind or not, but right now I've got people to put on my lap. Polo I couldn't help but overhear that you made Rokoa bow down to a voklit, yeah?"

"That is correct, sir."
"That's some fucked up shit. You're young, so I won't think badly of you young upstarts and your naivety or whatever the word is, but don't do that again. Rokoa, you've got nerve. Want to be an honorary UDA agent?"

"Sir, that is inadvisable."
"Too late, Polo, I'm no voklit-giver." says Az.
"I won't complain, but please promise me you will stop saying stuff like that. That is awful. And not Az-is-talking awful. Actually awful."
"Stinging like a butterfly, Polo, but yeah okay I just had to clear out my system, cause there's gonna be a lot of stockpiling from here on out. Anyway Rokoa, as you've guessed, that means you don't have to go take shit from Polo, I don't give a rat's behind about what your queen said. She can take it up with me if she gives you sass for not taking Polo's sass. You get a free pass as long as Polo comes out with her limbs intact. I like her. I like you. Let's keep it that way. Like one mini ultra hive."
"You got it, just remember I'm gonna hunt you down if you change your mind.

"Az, there are children. Please put a shirt on."
"Polo, as your honorary equal, shut up." Rokoa says. My enjoyment of this mission has gone into the negatives.

>"Understood." Katzati starts. "That does lead a question, though, to Rokoa and Polo - where will you two be going? You can go back to Miss if you want to press her more, but we do want to find Korli. We also aren't ruling out that there are other grinch agents on the loose down there. Still, we have a decent number of agents in there, now, and we've got a fully manned carrier just behind the nearby mountain range, so it's perfectly fine if you want to escort Pilon up here."
No. 624570 ID: d958ad

Well it's not like they're gonna shoot down the dropship, and Miss is being watched, so let's go find Korli.
No. 624573 ID: d90668

Well if they manage to steal Pilon out from under us we have way bigger problems than the Grinch fiasco going on. So he should be safe with your team without you.

I would check out the brothel lead while you are here. If they have a secret base here with a relay it could be a pile of evidence for the taking. Plus if shit goes down Rokoa might get a chance to maul some people and let off stress.

On the way over you should chat with her about this whole Volkit thing. Its obviously way bigger than we realized and you need to know her better. Would not have made her bow if we had known it was this big of a issue. If Neumono over a certain age are all vaguely racist because of some old war it would be good to know why.

Plus now that she is not your henchman anymore you need to clear the air. Her being on equal footing means you can't hold her back the way you have been. You need to prove yourself so that she listens to you out of respect and not obligation.
No. 624575 ID: 82efdc

We put our lives and dignity on the line for this mission. We're not going to expect any less from her.

(Not that pretending to be a kid is the same thing as being forced to bow, but).

>[Making her bow]'s some fucked up shit.
You ordered her to do the same, sir. The only difference was my orders were followed.

Thank you following that up by stripping my authority to give her orders.

>Rokoa's an honorary agent, no sass taking
For the record, if you're being treated as an agent, I expect you to act like one. There are rules, and I will hold you to them, acting agent Rokoa.

>what do
I think we can trust our non-Polo-and-Rokoa people to keep Pilon safe and get his memories back. The trip by spaceship and Three Stripes fixing will take hours, and we have other leads to chase.

We can trust over agents to sit on Miss, I think. Let's go Korli hunting.
No. 624596 ID: a8ebe9

What the fuck boss? You told me to tell her to bow not half a hour ago and now it's suddenly my idea?

And I have not been giving her shit. Orders yes but none of them have been anything but professional.

Go check on this brothel thing while muttering about your boss.
No. 624598 ID: ea0ad9

If Miss was aided by the Grinch, she's probably in danger for assisting you, but they're already keeping an eye on her.
No. 624610 ID: bb78f2

Keep an eye out for inside agents. Miss giving up Pilon was too easy. Something tells me they're going to try and take him on the way there somehow. So I actually think you should ride with Pilon to make doubley sure he isn't intercepted.

Miss and Korli are small time. Something tells me Korli has a empathy relay right on her person, so I don't really want to engage her lest she sets an entire crowd of mall zombies on you.
No. 624620 ID: 602cd8
File 142363166058.png - (69.20KB , 800x800 , 125.png )

>Well it's not like they're gonna shoot down the dropship
... yeah. Yeah, what would the chances of that be?

In actuality, if they did have a way to intercept the dropship, I doubt that us being on board would change the outcome.

"Az, you ordered Rokoa to bow, too."
"Yeah cause I thought she was some dumb meatshield." I resist asking what changed when he met her.
"The only differences is that she obeyed it when I ordered it."
"You trying to usurp me?"
"No. I'm sarcastically going to thank you for stripping my ability to keep ordering her to do things. I am putting my life and dignity on the line. She has proven willing to put her life on the line, but if she's going to be an agent, I expect her to do more."
No. 624622 ID: 602cd8
File 142363174484.png - (141.80KB , 800x800 , 126.png )

"Quit complaining Polo, we've got people to hunt." Rokoa picks me up by the scarf again, running back into the mall.
"We'll search for Korli. There's only one brothel, anyways." I say to Rokoa, but also Katzati, with the microphone in the scarf conveniently shoved in my face.
"How many exits do - shit, Az forgot to give me a phone to whoever you've been talking to. You have been talking to someone, right?"
"Yes, I have."
"Whatever, you find and hide by the exit Korli's most likely to run out of while I search room by room to get her to try and escape. Get another agent to do the same if there's some other likely exit."
No. 624624 ID: d958ad

Looks like you're subtlety and she's brute force. Appropriate. Pretty good idea too. Warn her not to get mesmerized by the booty while she's working.

Also tell her to quit manhandling you goddamn it. She can at least ask you if you want to be dragged around.
No. 624632 ID: 82efdc

You do realize if you try to flush her out in that manner, you're giving her plenty of time to call it in, and ample opportunity for the voklit to get upset at your disrupting their business and get in our way.

Katzati, can you access floor plans for the brothel? And try to patch *sigh* acting agent Rokoa into the comms, when you can.
No. 624637 ID: d90668

Az probably realized she was a long time vet from whatever Volkit crap that happened years ago. From the sound of it there was some nasty tribal crap before uplift and both there tribes were in the thick of it.

Anyways Rokoa what do I do if they direct there predator relay at you? You can resist for a bit but without a comm I can't tell if you need help.

Don't get me wrong its a decent plan but you not having a earpiece is going to be a pain.

Another plan would be you distracting the front desk for her. Wander in and ask for the two biggest hunks they have. It will cause a stir and she can sneak in the back while they think you are underage.
No. 624639 ID: bb78f2

Rokoa please don't sample the goods.
No. 624663 ID: fe4bfc

Polo you have a problem. Now that you can't boss Rokoa around your group dynamic has changed. Now you can let yourself be miserable and annoyed or you can do something about it.

I would personally just say fuck it and do things Az's way for a bit. Start jetpacking everywhere and abusing your expense account. Then help Rokoa break stuff and cause diplomatic incidents.

If your boss complains you can say "This is what you wanted right? As long as I come home with my limbs still attached who cares how the job gets done."

You don't have to go crazy but try to lighten up a bit. You are going to drive yourself to drinking if you don't relax.
No. 624665 ID: 88960e

You know, if she's not still there, a big loud obvious search like that will just tell her we're on to her.
No. 624695 ID: 0ee153

Pretty much. You've already had to sacrifice your dignity and neither your partner nor your boss are going to cooperate with you trying to do shit your way. You'll end up working at cross-purposes and wasting time.

Time to do things the messy but efficient way. Buy out all the whores.
No. 624741 ID: 602cd8
File 142370629739.png - (217.06KB , 800x800 , 127.png )

>Ask for an end to the manhandling
I still feel somewhat bad for making her bow. This is an easy way to make it up to her, since she's not being rough with me outside of not letting me walk.

"Rokoa, take my cell phone. Katzati, she's taking my cell phone for the time being. It'll be kept on. Call me in if a predator enters the equation. It won't surprise me if Korli has some kind of relayer or other tech on her. Katzati, I want floor plans for... agent Rokoa. Rokoa, the voklit will start interfering if you just go door to door before Korli gets wind of it. I might delay it by first distracting the front desk."
"How do you plan on doing that?"
"They're going to raise a stink if I look underage."

She's skeptical, but doesn't think it's that bad of an idea.

"... we'll go with this plan, as long as you don't get... caught up."
"With the booty?"
"Uk... yes, with the booty.
My booty's gonna be kept to itself, don't you worry.
"I'm not worried about that."
No. 624742 ID: 602cd8
File 142370630861.png - (152.69KB , 1200x800 , 128.png )

An agent slips us a printed floor plan of the brothel on our way over, and I head to the front desk while Rokoa lingers to the side. We've entered a jammer field. It looks like there's just a single fire escape at the back of the brothel, and we can have agents easily blend in with the crowd to cover the main entrance. I just have to get there before Korli panics.

"Hello. Do I ask for, er, service, here."
>"Yes. State your needs. We will see what we have for you."
"I want the two biggest..."

>Time to do things the messy but efficient way. Buy out all the whores.
>You don't have to go crazy but try to lighten up a bit. You are going to drive yourself to drinking if you don't relax.
"The two biggest hunks you've got."

No. 624743 ID: 602cd8
File 142370631796.png - (158.11KB , 1200x800 , 129.png )

No. 624744 ID: 602cd8
File 142370633502.gif - (355.66KB , 1200x800 , 130.gif )


Two voklits slide into my peripherals.
>"I am Vern." the one at my right says.
>"And I am Viln." the one at my left continues.

This might be a good time to stop relaxing.

>"Tell us how much zeny you will be parting with, tonight." says Viln. "And we will give you appropriate service."

>Start abusing your expense account.
... should I, though. Az has constantly attempted to throw me off into the deep end of crazy agent antics, but I have regularly kept my head above the water. This time, though, I have a mentally unstable, unpredictable partner, and at least Az let me do things my way when he was out of sight.
No. 624750 ID: e34da4

Drop as much cash as you think will annoy Az, without threatening your job. Your excuse can be "To relieve the stress of dealing with Rokoa".
No. 624754 ID: d958ad

Ask for a massage. Back by the fire escape. It's your fetish.
No. 624758 ID: 82efdc

>Start abusing your expense account.
Didn't miss insist we let her pay for Pilon? That means we still have that 10k zenny Az authorized to buy him with to abuse.

>what do with them
Okay. You're clearly pretending you have a size fetish here.

Foreplay: Ask for a piggyback ride. You're paying for the privileged to be huge, by proxy.

That way it will seem like part of the game when you use them to catch Korli for you when she runs by (yes, pick up the tiny neumono! See how she likes it). And to have one of them pick Rokoa up the way she's been picking you up.

Then yeah, blow the rest of your time on a massage while she gets interrogated.
No. 624774 ID: 0ee153

"Ten thousand."
No. 624776 ID: d90668

Az likes you because you get the job done and are a awesome agent. He keeps trying to get you to do crazy things because you are so serious all the time around him.

You don't have to change who you are but it's ok to cut loose now and then. You love pranks and jokes anyway. Just consider this a bonus of the job. Its not like you are planning on jeopardizing the mission or wasting resources. By using your expense account you can hire these two giants and cause a crazy scene that will cover Rokoa's antics.

As for what you will be doing with these two fine hunks not everyone comes to a brothel for just sex. I like the idea of riding them around playing out size fantasies for a bit. What small girl does not want to huge guys waiting on her hand and foot. Plus if Rokoa takes to long you can fuck them both at once!
No. 624778 ID: 602cd8
File 142371229490.png - (118.72KB , 800x800 , 131.png )

>Drop as much cash as you think will annoy Az, without threatening your job.
That is more than I have.

"8,000 zeny."
>"For that, you will virtually own us for the day." Viln says. "What would you have us do?"
"I'm small, and would like to be large. Please put me on your back."

Their manes are clean, at least. I'm unsure of why they are wielding weapons.

"First, I would like a massage."
>"We shall give you a fine room."
"No. At least, not yet. I want it by the fire escape."
>"So it shall be."

>"Er, Polo, I'm hoping that you're not going to make a habit of this." Katzati says.
No. 624779 ID: 602cd8
File 142371234552.png - (115.16KB , 800x800 , 132.png )

They are not bad at this massage thing.

>"I know you can't speak easily, Polo, but give me a yes or no sign, please. Would you like an agent to get your gear for you? We don't think Korli is much of a fighter, but we can't know what kind of tough bodyguards she has, and it might be dangerous to just expect her to run out. Don't worry about being conspicuous, there, Rokoa is describing stuff that, uh, I don't think a neumono in raid gear is going to stand out much."
No. 624782 ID: e34da4

Whoa now, a massage is way too relaxing. You need something that'll keep you on your toes, or you won't be ready to act when you need it.
No. 624787 ID: 3181a5

Their dicks are probably bigger then you are.
Now I wonder what their.....to questdis!
Oh and also if she has bodyguards we do as well now, I think.
No. 624788 ID: 82efdc

Man, Polo being bad. Misappropriation of funds. And willfully blocking a fire exit!

>They are not bad at this massage thing.
Pretty impressive, considering the size difference. That's some impressive thumb dexterity.

>didn't mistake you for a minor
I guess if you're a voklit servicing other species, almost everyone looks tiny anyways.

>I'm unsure of why they are wielding weapons.
Certain people think big strong barbarian types are sexy. They're playing off the theme, here.

>but we can't know what kind of tough bodyguards she has
I think you might have accidentally picked up some of your own. If they're doing whatever you say, after all. And s&m play must happen here, you ordering them to restrain someone won't be that out of place...

Bonus points: pretend this is a prearranged game with Korli. They'll be able to tell, despite her protests, because she'll obviously recognize Polo.

>I know you can't speak easily, Polo, but give me a yes or no sign, please. Would you like an agent to get your gear for you?
Mmmh, yes.

When the gear arrives, casually explain that now you wish to be a robot. You've got perfect cover as a whimsical and loony client, here.
No. 624793 ID: 0ee153

Viln and Polo have been drawn in Lago's drawthread. It doesn't entirely fit, but either he's extremely short or Polo can take most of it.

Get your gear and tell them to play bodyguard. The brothel will be an embassy, and you're awaiting a visit from an alien diplomat.
No. 624797 ID: bb78f2

Tell me, are you two pacifist Voklit or Voklit's willing to get into a fight if need be?
No. 624802 ID: d90668

Maybe not a habit but certainly a now and again treat.

Mumble out a contented yes. When your gear gets here make something up about wanting to play with your science friend. You are going to be the evil robot and they need to help you hunt down the scientist that made you. Then she has to seduce you and show you what real love is so you don't destroy the world.

Honestly they have probably been part of weirder role playing sessions than this.

Once you find her get them to help you kidnap her while staying in character. They should not realize something is wrong until far to late.
No. 625170 ID: 602cd8
File 142402767851.png - (219.94KB , 800x800 , 133.png )

"I am going to have some of my gear delivered to me. Armor. I enjoy robots. And being one. Also, I am expecting a partner soon. I will point her out, but she is most likely wearing science gear. As a large neumono, I intend on restraining her."
>"Then she shall be restrained when she appears." Viln talks. I have the impression that Vern does not speak much.

An agent briefly comes to drop off the gear, and I put it on while he returns to survey the main hall.

We wait for several more minutes, and I hear a lot of yells from people to get out of their room. With the armor, there are no massages, and I would think things would be awkward, but Viln and Vern don't appear to care one way or another.

"Polo, I found her!" I hear Rokoa say through the helmet comm.

"We are going after the scientist. Please move forward."
No. 625171 ID: 602cd8
File 142402769240.png - (199.91KB , 800x800 , 134.png )

"I crashed their party. Some guy in bioarmor shot a gun at me just now. They're holing up in there. Also, nice voklit. They gonna fight?"
>"We are in servitude to this one for the day." says Viln. "We shall do as she asks."
"How many are in there, Rokoa?"
"Dunno. Half a dozen? They had a fog machine going or something. Or they really hit the smokes. Either way, Korli didn't run in time. And unless that room's special, there's no secret exit."
>"We're pretty sure there's not, unless the voklit built one in secret." says Katzati. "Do you want backup, or should we send agents to try to investigate any possible crawlspace tunnels?
No. 625173 ID: bb78f2

Viln, you work here, what are the probabilities of a secret exit for our adversaries to use?
No. 625176 ID: d958ad

Ask your two boytoys if you even need to make any pretenses of being a normal customer. If not, introduce yourself properly and explain what you're doing here. Tell them you do not intend on asking them to die for you, but you would like their assistance in clearing the room if it's possible. Do they have any security gear that would help here?

As for backup... yes. There's a whole bunch in there, so having more than two agents to clear it out would be best.
No. 625185 ID: 82efdc

Crawlspaces are kind of Polo's thing, if we need to check them out.

Also, if we've got our helmet, switching vision modes (x-ray, or thermal or something) should allow us to see right though a little smoke (unless it's specifically designed to frustrate that. Metal particles or hated elements in the smoke or something. Although you start putting that kind of stuff in the air it starts to becomes hard to hide in when you need to breathe it).

Kind of think we don't want to wait for backup. Our opponents have been too well prepared too much of the time- don't want to give them a chance to try something or call for their own backup. 6 versus 4 ain't terrible odds if we're smart about it.

>Ask your two boytoys if you even need to make any pretenses of being a normal customer.
From how nonplussed everyone has been, I'm going to assume mock (and not quite so mock) battles and violence fit into some people's paying fantasies. I mean, c'mon, if you're providing service where the law doesn't apply, that's were the really weird and/or dangerous fetishes are gonna go.
No. 625187 ID: 82362a

Charge in. The Voklits can serve as backup, and investigating secret exits will take too long.

Also watch out, the fog/smoke might be lesbian gas.
No. 625193 ID: d90668

Both your species have quite a bit of regeneration so I assume they get some interesting parties.

Am guessing that they can handle a normal fight but expecting them to go up against guns would be a bit much.

Do your infiltrator thing. Tell the twins you want to sneak in your friends room and surprise her. Ask if there are any vents they could put you in. You will go in and draw there attention and then Rokoa will disable the guards.

If there are not have them hold back until you and Rokoa sweep the room. Then have them pick you and Korli up and take you to a private room while Rokoa watches for backup. Tell them you will need a room with restraints. Your friend has been a bad girl and needs spankings.
No. 625199 ID: 602cd8
File 142404053076.png - (199.33KB , 800x800 , 135.png )

"Viln, do I need to make any pretense of being a customer?"
>"I do not understand. You have given us money so that we may secure our land, so that in turn we shall serve you. It is mutually beneficial."
"Things might get legitimately dangerous soon."
>"Our looks are not merely looks. Viln and Vern are warriors, and we are warriors in your service. Viln does not understand why you, the enormous neumono upon my shoulders, thinks this is any different."
".. thank you, but I'm not going to ask you to die."
>"We are willing to risk our lives, but we also intend to survive."
"Do you have any security gear you can wear?"
>"We do not need such clothing. Our skin is tough."

That is unreasonable. A girl stumbles out of the room before I ask about any secret passages or otherwise take any action. It's Korli.

"Freeze! If you run, you're going to lose your kneecaps." I then speak to Katzati. "Send agents as backup, fast."
>"Okay, we took a little risk, and so these guys are actually well armed. So you'll have good firepower incoming!"
No. 625200 ID: 602cd8
File 142404054275.png - (256.62KB , 800x800 , 136.png )

>"Run? Haha, girl, I'm not running! I'm Korli, the damn best battle scientist this world's seen! Come out here, man! Show these guys what years of bio-engineering can do!"

What the -

"Katzati, why is there text on my helmet?! I can't see!
>"Sorry, Az wanted a software patch to emphasize dramatics. It'll fade in just a second."
No. 625201 ID: 602cd8
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>"This is Red! 5'3 and just over 100 kilograms! It doesn't matter how big you are and how good your bio armor is! I've had this test subject for years, modified his genes and roided him crazy! He's got the strength of a neumono 3 times as tall even without his internal bioarmor! A single kick from him can shatter both of your spines! You two voklit, get outta here, this is a neumono fight." Korli says. Her speech is delivered with some difficulty, she seems high. And drunk. Possibly other things.
>"Hey ladies." says Red. "Nice to meet all of you. We gotta fight, but no hard feelings, okay? I'm actually not a bad guy, I just got bugged and drugged and stuff when I was short on cash. Anyway, I feel kinda bad, but I'm obligated to go ahead and just stop yo-"
No. 625202 ID: 602cd8
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No. 625203 ID: 602cd8
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No. 625204 ID: 602cd8
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>"aaaaahhhhhhohwwwwww" Red clutches his face. I almost clutch mine, too.
>"Oh. Shit me." says Korli. "Wasn't really planning on that. Hey Ramella, how's that mind controlling nano-dust coming along through the air vents?!" she asks, yelling back into the room.
>"We got ourselves a hundred or two loyal subjects as soon as we hit the activation sw - wait, nano-dust bugs are in Cabinet FX-18, right?"
>"Wha- no, damnit! That's the lesbian gas! Shit!"
>"Okay okay I can fix this hold on! Okay uh... makeshift solution, here, but I just attached the nano-dust cabinet to the lesbian gas cabinet, so..."
>"... so both the gas and dust are going out at the same time?! We haven't tested what happens when we do two cabinets at once!"
>"Well this is a good time for science isn't it?!"
>"Okay good point!"
No. 625209 ID: d958ad

Alright, tell Vern to alert the owners that their ventilation systems are compromised and should be shut down or cleansed. I'm presuming the nano-dust only works on neumono.

Tell Viln to grab Korli so that Rokoa has her hands free. Then bust in there with Rokoa and secure that activation switch before the enemy does anything to it.

Alert your superiors to the nano/lesbian dust issue, also seal your damn suit if it wasn't already.
No. 625211 ID: 82efdc

>mind control and lesbian gas
Yeah, no. Blow the equipment they're using for that up. Don't let it spread. Grenade, right there, have the voklits and Rokoa grab everyone else and duck and cover.

Can't afford to let it spread, and a bonus, if we destroy the control equipment, it won't matter.

Hold your breath, though.
No. 625212 ID: d90668

Tell your hunks to grab her and lets get out of here before mind controlling lesbian gas gets all over us. If you need any incentive to move quickly just imagine you making out with Rokoa in the hallway until agents in hazmat suits pry you apart in a few hours. Or you know stay around if you like that idea.

Also unless she has a antidote Korli might be trying to get in your pants while you capture her. One would expect her to be immune but I am guessing she only injected the anti mind control antidote just now. Cause she is bad at planning.
No. 625213 ID: bb78f2

Tell Korli to confirm that Ramenaella actually connected the nano-gas to the lesbian gas, and not like poison or aphrodisiac gas, unless the lesbian gas also doubles as an aphrodisiac, then it becomes DOUBLE aphrodisiac.

You know Korli, you should probably turn that off. Your assistant sounds like an idiot that you really shouldn't put in charge of any gas.
No. 625216 ID: bdfc23

grab korli, leave, tell AZ to get out of there, we can leave the voklits with the lesbian gas it'll probably be profitable in some way.
No. 625227 ID: 82efdc

Lesbian gas should be a non-issue for you, anyways. Who's attractive doesn't make a difference when you're in the middle of a mission!

Az should be fine. The mall is a different building from the brothel. ...right. They don't keep the kids going to see santa right next to all that other stuff. Right?
No. 625231 ID: d90668


Do we really want to be exposed to anything someone that crazy looking made? Who knows what untested stuff would do to you without being mixed with experimental mind control nano tech.
No. 625239 ID: 0ee153

1. Is she sure either gas works?
2. Is she sure Ramella got the right dust this time?
No. 625250 ID: 8f01e8

Does the brothel have blacklights, for some rave-themed thing, or tanning beds, or some other strong source of UV? Most reliable way to purge airborne nanotech is incendiaries, followed closely by bleach or other caustic chemicals, scalding steam, and specialized nanotech countermeasures, in about that order, but ultraviolet light probably causes the least collateral damage and has the helpful side effect of revealing the contaminated area.
No. 625312 ID: 2f4b71

Kneecaps. Just... just on principle.
No. 625522 ID: b88e47

Call HQ, tell them you need nanomachine countermeasures or self contained breathing and/or suits. Possible 200 neumono compromised. Possible 200 neumono under mind control.

Tell Viln and Vern Korli likes S&M play as a sub and likes it rough.

Suggest to Rokoa that she go into that room and do whatever she likes to those poor souls.
No. 625593 ID: 8f01e8

I think we're past the point of having to disguise this as a sex roleplay thing. Just tell them any neumono who seems to be attacking or obstructing you should be beaten unconscious and tied up, except Rokoa because she tends to be more helpful than harmful in situations like this, and also because beating her unconscious is a physical impossibility.
No. 626142 ID: 602cd8
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>Seal your suit
Unless there is a reason to do otherwise, I have it sealed at all times.

Rokoa's bio armor should also have defense against particles like this.

There is no danger of me wanting to make out with Rokoa. No amount of gas will change that.

>Az should be fine. The mall is a different building from the brothel. ...right. They don't keep the kids going to see santa right next to all that other stuff. Right?
Although it is part of the same building, it is in a far off wing and a long walk away from Az's location. If these gasses go that far, then it will be spread too thin to pose a great danger to anyone, especially for Az, who I believe has had practice in anti mind control.

>Does the brothel have blacklights, for some rave-themed thing, or tanning beds, or some other strong source of UV?
If they do, then only in some rooms. I doubt it would be enough.

"Rokoa, go into that room and destroy the equipment and disable anyone inside. Viln, Vern, please grab Korli, she's into BD - forget it, just get her!" As usual, for Katzati, I set my suit to contain my sound. "Katzati, I need nanomachine countermeasures just in case we can't stop the gas."
>"I'm sorry, I don't think we have anything reliable! We've called off our agents, though, and we've arranged for a dropship for you!"

>Kneecaps, just on principle

>"Eh?" Korli doesn't react, like she's not sure we happened.
No. 626143 ID: 602cd8
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She tries to run. I expected her to just fall over in either pain or incapability of standing, but she actually manages to stumble for a few steps, trips, and is scooped up by Viln. I don't know if she's naturally resistant to pain, or if the drugs have numbed her.

"Korli, I want you to confirm that the gas is what you think it is! Your partner is unreliable!"
>"She doesn't fuck up twice in a row! Right Ramella?!"
"It does now."
No. 626144 ID: 602cd8
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Rokoa shoves Ramella and 3 other individuals out of the room.

"Did you take care of the gas?"
"It's about to be! They had some explosives in there. I set up a bomb to go off in, uh, 10 seconds. We should get some distance around a couple halls!"
>"Wait you WHAT?!" Korli says. "You can't just - "
"Start running, Viln, Vern."
No. 626145 ID: 602cd8
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>"You can't just blow it up! There's like 5 gasses in there, all of them mind altering substances, and if you just blow up the high pressure cabinets, then it's just gonna -"
No. 626146 ID: 602cd8
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Meanwhile, about half a mile away.

>"Ah?! An explosion? Smoke?!"
"Kid, explosions just happen around the ol' Ultraking now and then. Just hang around here and don't fret it."
No. 626150 ID: 602cd8
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>"Polo, are you alright?!" I hear Katzati, while the fire alarm starts ringing.
"Yes, we took good cover in an open room. We still have Korli. Is that dropship still coming?"
>"Yes, but the agents know it's coming too, and so you'd have a lot of neumono coming after you if you go. You're by an emergency escape - maybe use that?"
>"Hold that thought." says Lamarra. "The fire escape goes down to a public street level, and neumono down there might be compromised as well. You might be able to sneak out in all of the smoke, but if you can't, you'll just be surrounded. The rooftop may be better."
>"Wherever you go, do it fast! 5 of our agents didn't make it out in time, and they just reported that they're going to capture you!" says Katzati.

It looks like Rokoa grabbed Ramella, as well. Vern holds onto her so that Rokoa can have her hands free.

We're on the second floor. The roof is above the fourth.

"Viln, Vern, there may be neumono coming to us while we move. Please disable any that attack us."
>"Where are we moving?" Viln asks.
No. 626153 ID: bb78f2

Rooftop, we're disabling all and any agents that come up there.
Tell Katazi to warn any friendly agents that attempt to assist us on the roof will probably get shit, and tell Az to stay away because we might also shoot him and we don't want to shoot Santa today. Or our boss.

But mostly Santa.
No. 626156 ID: b88e47

No. 626161 ID: 82efdc

>You can't just blow it up!
Better to blow a hole and randomly affect a few people than to allow them effective control over the entire building.

>5 of our agents didn't make it out in time, and they just reported that they're going to capture you!
Please pretend to cooperate with them. If they think they're doing what they're supposed to, and we're rogue, they'll expect cooperation from ops. This gives you the opportunity to keep track of their movements and feed them bad intel to limit the damage they can do until they can be recovered and decontaminated.

>where go
Rooftop is better. You go lines of sight, a single (or limited) entrances to bar, and the chemicals will be diffuse, at best. On ground level they'll be more concentrated, and anyone could be drawn in. On the roof, only people actively coming after you will be there.

Advise ops that your ride needs to be able to pick up all 6 of you, including 2 voklit. No point leaving Viln and Vern to the mob, and your lift needs to be big enough.
No. 626326 ID: 602cd8
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"We're going to the rooftop. "Katzati, please pretend to cooperate with the rogue agents. Feed them false information if you can, and keep track of their location."
>"Good idea!"

"Is the dropship enough for 4 neumono and 2 large voklit?"
>"It might get cramped, but it'll work."

"Polo, here's an elevator."
"That's a deathtrap."
"What, are they gonna capture us by snipping the wi - "
"So what I'm hearing is that you want to go deal with those civilians by the stairwell entry?"
No. 626327 ID: 602cd8
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I did not train for these situations.
No. 626330 ID: d958ad

Can't you just get Vern to manhandle them or shoot them nonlethally? I'm not seeing the problem here.
No. 626331 ID: 1324fc

>"What, are they gonna capture us by snipping the wi - "
We've got 5 compromised secret agents after us. Of course they'll target the elevator. At least one of them is going to be carrying a piece of spy gear designed specifically for sabotaging elevators.

(You may try to avoid Az's ridiculous jet packs and the like, but you know for a fact all your coworkers don't).

>I did not train for these situations.
Do we have any residue from that lesbian gas we blew up? Or leftover drugs on Korli? All you need to do is throw one at them and leave the civies in a happy pile. Aphrodisiac sedation is nicer than riot gas, and it fits the locale.
No. 626337 ID: 0ee153

At least one of them is male, but Korli had a flask of booze on her leg. Take it from her by force if needed.
No. 626338 ID: 1324fc

>At least one of them is male
It's fine. The two girls will go at it, and he'll stare.
No. 626342 ID: b88e47

"Beat the crap out of them if they get in the way."
No. 626343 ID: 2ae7d5

The question is do they want to fight you or...ya know...fuck you?
No. 626345 ID: 0ee153

That's not really relevant right now.
No. 626360 ID: d90668

Listen Polo just because you are in a brothel does not mean you have to fuck your way through these people. The whole covering our tracks by pretending to be looking for sex was just part of your cover remember? That idea fell apart as soon as the terrorists set off a mind control bomb.

You don't have to subdue them with sex anymore. Just beat the crap out of them and throw them down the stairwell.

Although you should ask Katzati what the mind controlled agents are saying. If the nano machines did get crossed with some sex gas they might be really confused. Plus what do they plan on doing with you once they catch you? Are they being controlled by a outside force or are they just really confused? And how do they know to catch you in particular? Have her look for a Cai controlling signal. If something was not leading the mind controlled people they would not know where you are or what you looked like. Might be a perfect opportunity to track the enemy Cai down.
No. 626366 ID: 8f01e8

The elevator is only a deathtrap if you play by the rules. Don't press a call button. Instead, wait for it to go to the ground floor, pry the doors open, and climb the shaft.
No. 626368 ID: ea0ad9

You know what? Don't let THEM snip the wire, YOU snip it. That way you can climb up it to the roof.
No. 626440 ID: 2f4b71

That's an idea. Elevator cars have locking flanges to prevent them plummeting, but counterweights don't. Attach yourselves to the cable, cut it below where you're holding, and the counterweight will pull you to the roof very quickly. Stopping might be an issue th