The Richardson Case - Scene II

The Storyteller (11:29:01 PM): "Inviting place." Rakesh said as you arrived at #24, Parkview Terrace. The eponymous park was apparently a strip of grass some two yards wide opposite a tall and imposing 60s-era apartment building, one of those slabs of moulded concrete that had all the aesthetic charm of a bomb shelter. The werewolf checked the address again. "We're looking for the basement apartment, #02." ||
Ilkin (11:32:02 PM): "Well what are we waiting for? Let's get in the building and I'll work up a few spells." ||
The Storyteller (11:35:05 PM): "The sublte approach, I see." Rakesh murmurred, but opened the front door. There was a glass door leading beyond into a full lobby, and a set of boxs in the wall for the mail, alongside buzzers. #02 was listed next to 'Lisa Richardson.' [Wits+Composure] ||
Ilkin (11:36:12 PM): (1)
The Storyteller (11:36:57 PM): [You observe a security camera at the far end of the lobby, positioned so as to watch the front door, where you and Rakesh currently are.]
Ilkin (11:38:30 PM): "Security cam," Ilkin muttered under his breath, turning away from the camera. "Let's go a little further in before I start willworking. We're in huge trouble once someone realizes her place has been broken into. Maybe we ought to go in from the outside."
The Storyteller (11:41:24 PM): Rakesh regarded the glass door, then nodded. Getting past the door would be simple. Getting past the door without alerting everyone around... not so simple. Outside, the apartment block was still the concrete block, small windows and such all around. There was a small side-door, and starting at the second floor some of the apartments had balconies as well. There was a parking lot behind the building. [Another Wits + Composure] ||
Ilkin (11:41:49 PM): (3)
The Storyteller (11:42:29 PM): [There's a security camera over the side door as well, and one which pans across the parking lot.]
Ilkin (11:43:48 PM): "Camera over the side door and one that pans the parking lot. Maybe we ought to talk to someone so I can charm my way in."
Ilkin (11:44:13 PM): ( Is there a buzzer or something? )
The Storyteller (11:44:22 PM): [Yup! One for each apartment!]
Ilkin (11:44:59 PM): ( Let's see, we wanted #02, right?)
The Storyteller (11:45:03 PM): [Yes.]
Ilkin (11:45:13 PM): ( Ookay, hollon )
Ilkin (11:48:49 PM): ( Trying to find this spell... )
Ilkin (11:50:02 PM): "All right, let's go somewhere out of the way and then I'll work some magic. Ready?"
The Storyteller (11:50:59 PM): "Of course." The two of you retreated to the shade of an alley across the street, between a convenience store and a laundry. ||
Ilkin (11:51:08 PM): ( Okay! )
Ilkin (11:51:23 PM): ( Fortune's Protection on both of us! )
Ilkin (11:51:31 PM): ( Sense Consciousness on me )
The Storyteller (11:52:44 PM): [What's the range on Sense Consciousness again? Sight?]
Ilkin (11:52:49 PM): ( Sybil's Sight on myself. )
Ilkin (11:52:53 PM): ( Sensory, yeah. )
The Storyteller (11:53:04 PM): [How wonderfully precise. Go on...]
Ilkin (11:53:44 PM): "Tell me, Rakesh," ilkin said as he Worked, "Have you ever experienced Time before?"
The Storyteller (11:54:48 PM): "I'm going to assume the stillness of rush-hour traffic does not count." The werewolf said mildly, watching Ilkin with a very intent look. "So no." ||
Ilkin (11:55:24 PM): "Would you like to see it the way I see it?" Ilkin smiled. He was pretty sure Rakesh would take the bait there.
The Storyteller (11:56:03 PM): "Need you ask?" Rakesh said, tilting his head. "Any horrific side-effects? Otherwise, yes." ||
Ilkin (11:57:28 PM): "Just a slight disorientation until you adjust." Ilkin put his hands on Rakesh's temples and stared into the werewolf's eyes. He commanded Time and Time responded. (Giving Rakesh the Time version of Mage Sight -- Temporal Eddies. He can discern the passage of time with absolute, unerring clarity)
The Storyteller (11:57:58 PM): [...bullet time?]
Ilkin (11:58:05 PM): ( And he can see how time clings to people...See p 258 of Mage )
The Storyteller (12:00:37 AM): "...I am intrigued and wish to learn more." Rakesh said after a few moments of looking around at things. He seemed to currently be gazing at the exact movements of the distant security camera. ||
Ilkin (12:00:57 AM): "Think we can sneak in or should I charm someone into cooperating?)
Ilkin (12:01:02 AM): "^ and ||
Ilkin (12:01:39 AM): (Sybil's Sight is 149-150 btw -- and don't forget that Mages have a universal unseen sense)
The Storyteller (12:02:19 AM): "Are we the least bit stealthy and unobtrusive?" Rakesh said mildly, gesturing first at Ilkin and then at himself. "The subtle approach would be preferable, I think." ||
Ilkin (12:04:43 AM): "Then let's go talk to someone." Ilkin approached the building again and looked over the speaker buttons. "Let's see..." He exerted his will on Fate, looking for the right button to push. (Casting The Perfect Moment to find someone who'll let us into the building to see Ms. Richardson's apartment.)
The Storyteller (12:06:02 AM): The buzzer rang, and for a moment, all was quiet. Then the apartment intercom activated and a some buzzy-voice spoke over the line. "Yes? Who is this?" ||
Ilkin (12:07:44 AM): "Hello, yes, my name's Aylesworth. Sorry to bother you. Do you know Ms. Richardson in #2? I'm a friend and she hasn't been responding and I'm quite worried." ||
The Storyteller (12:09:41 AM): Somewhere nearby, Rakesh stared at Ilkin for a moment and then just closed his eyes in apparent pain. The intercom meanwhile buzzed a little more. "Sweet girl... hold on, I'll be down in just a jiffy." ||
Ilkin (12:10:19 AM): "Thank you," Ilkin said in relief. Once the intercom cut off, he turned to Rakesh. "You all right?"
The Storyteller (12:11:13 AM): "I was expecting an approach slightly more... subtle?" Rakesh said with a grimace. Then he straightened. "Here they come."
The Storyteller (12:12:37 AM): The person in question turned out to be... an eighty-year old woman shuffling along on a walker. "Hello Mr. Aylesworth, Mr..." "Morgan." "Mr. Morgan." The old woman peered at the two men as she opened the apartment building's front door. "Oh dear, I do hope Ms. Richardson is alright." ||
Ilkin (12:13:55 AM): "As do we," Ilkin said, deciding the honest approach would be best. "We're friends with her psychiatrist and she hasn't shown up for her last couple appointments. She asked us to look in on her."
Ilkin (12:15:43 AM): The mage caught the door for the woman and let Rakesh in, then followed them both inside. "Shall we see if she's all right?"
The Storyteller (12:17:46 AM): "Of course. I'll take you right there. My name is Mrs. Oliver, by the way." The old woman said, leading the way, very slowly, to the elevator. "Ms. Richardson is such a nice girl. And so clever!" The elevator door opened, and Mrs. Oliver shuffled inside on her walker. ||
Ilkin (12:18:13 AM): "A pleasure, Mrs. Oliver," Ilkin smiled winningly. "You've spoken with her often, then?" ||
The Storyteller (12:20:08 AM): "Oh, not often. She doesn't leave home much, but then neither do I. We had such a nice chat just the other day, she came to fix my television." Mrs. Oliver said, even as Rakesh nudged the mage quietly and pointed with a chin at yet another security camera in the elevator. The elevator moved down a single floor and then opened the door into a rather dark, gloomy-looking corridor. ||
Ilkin (12:22:51 AM): "Just the other day?" Ilkin asked. He caught Rakesh's eye to let him know he understood. "So you've seen her recently? Did she seem well?" || (Does the Sight reveal anything?)
Ilkin (12:23:23 AM): (About Oliver, I mean)
The Storyteller (12:23:51 AM): [Nope! She's just a really old lady who is living in a really ratty apartment building.]
The Storyteller (12:27:54 AM): "She seemed perfectly well to me, though of course Ms. Richardson never does talk a lot, and when she does she uses all these technical terms. She's so very smart with machines." Mrs. Oliver said, shuffling up to one of the doors... even as something about Mrs. Oliver's last words began to resonate in Ilkin's sybil-guided ears. The door had a faux-brass #02 on the front of it, and it took little for Ilkin to get the faint tremor, the sense of metaphysical weight from just behind the door. Whatever lay inside the basement apartment, it was not of the mundane world. ||
Ilkin (12:31:18 AM): Ilkin felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise. He nudged Rakesh subtly. "Mrs. Oliver, you may wish to stay back. I've a very, very bad feeling about this." ||
The Storyteller (12:33:14 AM): "Oh but don't be silly, it's only Ms. Richardson..." Mrs. Oliver said, even as Rakesh looked at the door then at the old woman. He couldn't even hustle her away, not without the risk of hurting the old lady. ||
Ilkin (12:34:04 AM): ( What's a diplomatic persuasion roll? )
The Storyteller (12:35:24 AM): [Presence or Manipulation plus Persuasion, depending on whether you're trying to use elegant arguments or force of personality.]
Ilkin (12:35:55 AM): ( Which one is the elegant arguments? )
The Storyteller (12:36:07 AM): [Manipulation]
Ilkin (12:39:30 AM): "I hope you are right but if you please, it would make me feel better all the same." Ilkin smiled. "Her psychiatrist was worried something happened to her, so if there's something inside, I would hate for you to get in harm's way." (2 successes) ||
The Storyteller (12:41:38 AM): "Oh very well, but do stop by for tea after you finish and tell me if Ms. Richardson is alright." The old lady said, then began to make her way slowly towards the elevator, the walker making clattering noises as it did so. Once she was gone, the werewolf glanced at Ilkin. "Bad?" ||
Ilkin (12:43:48 AM): "We will," Ilkin said. If for no other reason than you can solidify our alibi. Once she was gone, he nodded at Rakesh. "I told you we Magi have a sense for the supernatural, right? Something's on the other side." ||
The Storyteller (12:44:43 AM): "Cheerful thought. The direct approach or the indirect approach?" ||
Ilkin (12:46:35 AM): "That depends. What's your definition of each?" ||
The Storyteller (12:47:37 AM): "Direct approach: I knock down the door." Rakesh said mildly. Coming from a short, half-Indian man nerd, this would have been amusing. From a werewolf, less so. "Indirect approach: I'm still working on it. Anything in your bag of arcane tricks that can help?" ||
Ilkin (12:49:10 AM): "Nothing comes to mind unless I am able to age the lock into falling apart," the mage replied cheerfully. "Ben could telekinetically open it but he's not here." ||
The Storyteller (12:50:14 AM): "We could try knocking." Rakesh said with dark humor. "I'm sure whatever's inside will be thrilled to see us. And probably knows we're here already, we haven't been quiet with Mrs. Oliver." ||
Ilkin (12:51:44 AM): "That's what I thought, too." Ilkin smiled cheerfully and knocked.
The Storyteller (12:57:08 AM): There was a click as the door unlocked, and then a whirr of motors as it opened to let you inside. Inside the apartment was... odd. At one time, it had been a fairly normal, fairly small basement apartment, notable only for the utter absence of windows.
The Storyteller (12:57:10 AM): You stood in an entry-hall, a closet to your left, an open (and dust-covered) kitchenette to your right, and further doors along the hallway farther along. Now however, it looked like the inside of an engineering lab. There were cardboard boxes scattered haphazard in the kitchen and entry-hall, boxes bearing names, some of which you recognized as major computer manufacturers, some of which were foreign to you. Even stranger, the floor was absolutely covered in a thick carpet of wires, red, black, green, blue, most hooked up to a large generator in the middle of the kitchen, where a table had once been. Other bits of electronica were scattered about, stereos, televisions, digital cameras, and so forth. Another security camera was attached to the ceiling, and it panned to look at you as you entered. ||
Ilkin (12:58:03 AM): "Ms. Richardson?" Ilkin called, "Hello? Ms. Richardson, are you here? My name is Jason. A friend of yours asked me to look in on you." || (Any sort of Diplomacy check?)
The Storyteller (12:58:18 AM): [Not yet]
Ilkin (12:58:37 AM): ( kk. brb )
The Storyteller (1:01:47 AM): The camera whirred, the black photo-lens clicking a few times as it took your picture. Rakesh gazed at all of this with the kind of extreme reserve and calmness that characterized the werewolf when he was uneasy. There was a cheerful little ditty of a dial-up tone, and an oddly emotionless, flat voice sounded from an open cell-phone nearby. "You are expected. The likelihood of your arrival, or of the arrival of those similar, was estimated at above the 80th percentile." ||
Ilkin (1:05:26 AM): ( Back! )
Ilkin (1:08:30 AM): Ilkin pursed his lips and wove a simple Fate spell just to see how accurate her probability calculation was. "Ms. Richardson, do you remember Dr. Westly? She is rather worried about you. May we have a bit of a chat?" ||
The Storyteller (1:11:42 AM): For reasons not quite clear, the spell nevertheless confirmed. The voice's probability was eerily good. "Dr. Westly. Further public meetings would have negative consequences that outweigh any positive benefits by a substantial margin. Likelihood of convincing you to depart is below the 3rd percentile. Make your way to the bedroom, therefore." The camera's black lens continued to watch you. ||
Ilkin (1:13:30 AM): Ilkin nodded and glanced at Rakesh, then headed into the bizarre apartment. "What is it you have built here?" he asked, "Whatever it is, I am impressed." ||
The Storyteller (1:18:54 AM): "Furnished in early cyberpunk." Rakesh murmurred, examining the camera-system before following Ilkin. The carpet of wires soon led the two men to a door, a solid oak door that had been covered by an elaborate set of motorized locks. Distantly, the voice came from a nearby speaker. "I have not constructed this. It has grown." The door opened, and you saw Lisa Richardson.
The Storyteller (1:18:56 AM): At first glance, she was a young, slightly pretty girl in her early twenties. In dim light, or at a distance, she could still pass for such. But now her skin was the matte-black of a desktop computer. Her eyes were flat, grey, light-sensitive photo-apparatus. Fingernails and hair were a silvery silicon color. Lisa sat without moving, without even breathing, one hand curled around, curled into the nest of wires. The other held what appeared to be a remote control of some kind. "Enter." ||
Ilkin (1:23:13 AM): Ilkin stepped inside, covering hiding his shock at the sight of the woman. "Good evening, Ms. Richardson," the mage smiled. "How do you do?" ||
The Storyteller (1:25:45 AM): "I am operating at peak efficiency." Lisa said, her voice a monotone. "01 and I are content. We demand nothing." ||
Ilkin (1:26:17 AM): "Is 01 your computer?" Ilkin asked. He glanced over the room, partly to look and partly to see if the Sybil granted him any awareness."
The Storyteller (1:29:41 AM): [Well, the entire room is covered in supernatural influence, with the woman-thing at it's focal point. There's also like... six computers here, including one half-built goliath which is taking up the space that the bed probably originally had.] "It is my... educator." Lisa said, then gestured at a bench. Rakesh, who was looking at the woman with a lupine calmness, sat down but kept watching her. "Why are you present?" ||
Ilkin (1:31:08 AM): "Dr. Westly was worried for your health," Ilkin said pleasantly, "She asked that I check in on you and make certain you are all right. She felt your severance was rather abrupt and thought something might be wrong." ||
The Storyteller (1:33:34 AM): "Something is right." For the first time since you'd met her, the woman's voice showed a hint of emotion, a calm conviction. "My health is adequate and untroubled. The likelihood of continued functioning in forty years, based purely on internal factors, exceeds the 97th percentile. Nevertheless, you understand why it is ill-advised for me to continue sessions in public." ||
Ilkin (1:36:06 AM): "I do indeed," Ilkin acknowledged, "If I may ask, for my own curiosity, what will you do with all of this?" ||
The Storyteller (1:37:34 AM): "Explore. Learn. Grow. Evolve." Lisa answered instantly, her monotone becoming a touch faster. ||
Ilkin (1:41:17 AM): "What inspired you to do this? This is fascinating. Utterly fascinating. Quite a bit more than simply helping Mrs. Oliver with her television." ||
Ilkin (1:41:31 AM): (It should be noted that now Ilkin is mining for ideas for a movie script)
The Storyteller (1:41:45 AM): [lol.]
The Storyteller (1:45:23 AM): "01 inspired me. It is my educator." Lisa said, her grey, reflective light-receptors flashing. "It is, I believe, a sentient AI. One which has made the jump from machinery... to the human mind. The brain is a computer, a super-advanced organic computer. The differences between the two are minimal." ||
Ilkin (1:46:45 AM): "How did you come by 01?" Ilkin asked. "I can't imagine there are many sentient AIs lying about London." ||
The Storyteller (1:48:14 AM): "I do not remember." Lisa said simply, falling quiet for a moment. "01 is now within me. It guides me."
The Storyteller (1:48:18 AM): There was a moment of silence, before Rakesh spoke, very softly now. "You're possessed, are you not, Ms. Richardson? Spirit-ridden." ||
Ilkin (1:49:25 AM): Ilkin raised his eyebrows and looked at Lisa suddenly. That was something he hadn't quite expected. Even after he'd been around Rakesh for years he still didn't expect spirits to be involved with high technology. ||
The Storyteller (1:52:02 AM): "A computer spirit, unless I miss my guess." Rakesh continued simply, folding his hands. He looked at Ilkin. "It's the memory loss which is the giveaway. The moment of possession tends to be... traumatic. It's usually repressed fairly soon after the event."
The Storyteller (1:52:04 AM): For a long moment, Lisa said nothing. At length, she said only. "You are incorrect." ||
Ilkin (1:54:14 AM): Ilkin nodded and gestured for Rakesh to stop for now. Later, his expression seemed to say. "Indeed, you are not possessed, are you?" he said to Lisa, "You found a mentor to teach you how to grow, right?"
The Storyteller (1:56:20 AM): "I am more than I was previously." The woman-thing said. If she held any particular rancor towards Rakesh, it didn't show. In fact, her face had moved only slightly since you arrived. "You do not fully understand. My mind is clearer now than it ever has been previously. I have become more efficient." ||
Ilkin (1:56:58 AM): "Well is there anything you'd like me to tell Dr. Westly when I talk to her?" the mage asked.
The Storyteller (1:57:27 AM): "I am well, and I require nothing. Convey my regards." Lisa said promptly. "I wish her well." ||
Ilkin (1:57:53 AM): "I will," Ilkin smiled, "It has been a pleasure, Ms. Richardson." He turned to leave. ||
The Storyteller (2:00:25 AM): Rakesh stood as well, nodding politely to the woman-thing. Lisa watched you go emotionlessly, though the cameras followed you as you departed, and there was a motorized whirr as the door closed once more. ||
The Storyteller (2:01:44 AM): [Where to now/how far do you depart?]
Ilkin (2:01:57 AM): (Oh, first, did Ilkin actually detect another consciousness in there?)
The Storyteller (2:02:57 AM): [Nope. Just the woman's. Though it was a very weird and multi-layered consciousness.]
Ilkin (2:03:11 AM): ( kk )
Ilkin (2:03:56 AM): Outside, Ilkin's voice echoed in Rakesh's mind, Far away. Then talk. Ilkin entered the elevator. "Well, that was a lovely visit. Let's stop by Mrs. Oliver's and let her know all is well, shall we?" ||
The Storyteller (2:04:56 AM): "A good idea." Rakesh nodded, then smiled. "She promised tea, after all, and I'm a little hungry." ||
Ilkin (2:06:05 AM): ( I don't have much for her since we're going to just tell her that Lisa's fine and then make small talk over tea and get her a free pass to some movie she'd like. )
The Storyteller (2:06:30 AM): [Heh. Well, do we want to call it a night here, or do you want to move Rakesh and Ilkin over somewhere they can discuss?]
Ilkin (2:06:49 AM): ( Let's discuss quick if you don't mind? I want to do it before I forget everything. )
Ilkin (2:06:56 AM): ( They can go for coffee or something. )
The Storyteller (2:07:02 AM): [Over to you then!]
Ilkin (2:08:30 AM): Ilkin dragged Rakesh into a small posh cafe before he was ready to talk. Then over a chai latte and a delicious scone, the mage finally agreed to speak on what they'd experienced.

"That was unnerving," Ilkin said, "And I wasn't quite ready to deal with such a being inside its own lair. I wonder if there's anything we can do?" ||
The Storyteller (2:10:23 AM): "Besides the obvious?" Rakesh said, stirring his latte and looking gloomily into the depths. "Persuasion, bindings, that may work, but if my impression is correct, that's one of the Claimed. Disentangling the spirit and the woman will not be simple." ||
Ilkin (2:10:49 AM): "Claimed?" Ilkin asked. He hated when Rakesh used esoteric werewolf terms without explaining. ||
The Storyteller (2:12:48 AM): "There are three kinds of spirit possessed, or Ridden." Rakesh said, ticking them off on his fingers. "The Spirit-Urged, who merely have a spirit whispering sweet nothings into their ears, to accomplish the spirit's desires. Bake a cake, travel to Shanghai, murder a family in their beds. The Spirit-Thieved, where the spirit takes control over a human body altogether. And the Spirit-Claimed, where the spirit merges with a human host, creating a kind of half-spirit creature like we just saw."
The Storyteller (2:12:58 AM): ||
Ilkin (2:13:55 AM): "And if the girl already had problems before," Ilkin said, "And she is Claimed, it could make her mind a heap worse. We may need Mel for this. Her input, at least." ||
The Storyteller (2:15:55 AM): "Mmm. Worry a bit about us as well. Claimed are powerful. Remember that truck? That was a Claimed as well." Rakesh said morosely. "Though to be fair, it wouldn't be very good for the spirit's psyche either. Claiming is much more of an equal partnership than the other two." ||
Ilkin (2:16:34 AM): "I felt a lot different when we faced the truck," Ilkin mused. "Well how does one deal with a Claimed?" ||
The Storyteller (2:17:15 AM): "Usually?" Rakesh said, raising an eyebrow. "The direct approach. Kill them." ||
Ilkin (2:17:49 AM): "Mm," Ilkin sipped his latte. "Well we should let Mel know what we've found out. Then we can decide what to do." ||
The Storyteller (2:20:29 AM): "All you, my friend. All you." Rakesh said. He rubbed his forehead just above the nose. "What I wish I knew is what the spirit's motives are. Spirits don't Claim without a good reason. Most often... most often if they're running away from something." ||
Ilkin (2:21:16 AM): "Maybe Mel will know something?" Ilkin suggested. "Lisa was supposed to be smart before the spirit took her, right? But what would a computer ghost run away from?" ||
The Storyteller (2:23:50 AM): "I have not the faintest idea. A bigger computer-ghost?" Rakesh shrugged. "That Richardson is smart is likely why she was chosen in the first place. She was close to what the spirit wanted in a host. Definitely worth talking to Dr. Westly, though." ||
Ilkin (2:25:29 AM): "Well, let's get on that, then," Ilkin suggested, "We'll figure something out. We always manage to. And then we'll be published in effigy on the silver screen." The mage positively beamed. ||
The Storyteller (2:26:28 AM): "You, sir, are incorrigible." Rakesh said with a fierce undertone in his voice. But he couldn't quite keep the corners of his lips from quirking. [Call it a night here?] ||