Act I: The Ship in a Bottle Job


Quietly, and carefully, Zahid draws back, double-checking to make sure his presence isn't disturbing the datastreams noticeably. After a moment of watching for another brush, he slips a trickle of data to his companions. <We have a...touch. Maybe just a bored IT guy, maybe more. Reasonance, can you come in quiet? I don't want to spook a guest if it's nothing.> For a moment, he considers weaving a stronger form or a sprite to help him watch, but he decides not to...for now. Better to watch, and wait, and continue to act normally.

In that vein, he turns his attention to his team's requests, particularly the one that might be most connected to the intrusion. The briefcased technomancer. He quickly pulls up the limited bios he's prepared on everyone on the guest list, really just name and company, for Briefcase, CorpMage, and Gold-Digger, and brings them up for the team to view. Then he starts going in-depth on Briefcase, hoping that Reasonance's extra focus will cover any lapse in his attention.


<Okay, Vegas and Zahid. Suitcase and LBD are yours. Gonna deal with Papa Smurf over here.>

Kvasir returned the toothy grin in kind and strode over to the group of grey hairs. "Ah, corporate enchantment. Let me guess. A mundane director of product development that wants more whiz bang effects that his 14-year-old son saw in the latest WhizKids trid? Or is it an Awakened manager that is ignoring intense Aspect formation in mana around the workshop that is opening up a gaping hole in astral space from whence all kinds of nasty things might spring up to devour apprentices? You must admit, as far as cranking out widgets, it is never as boring as say, plastic extrusion or textiles."

Zahid had barely started his data search on the briefcase when he got several hits. Fortunately for the infomancer, the briefcase was well known and documented. It was an Ares product known as the Executive Security 3000, a very high dollar briefcase that was lined in wireless dampening material and fitted with a special leather that completed shielded it from most forms of magic. It was incredibly expensive and nearly impregnable by conventional means. The digital lock had absolute no wireless capability and could only be accessed with a combination of a digital key and a 256 bit password. Chances are that it contained something incredibly valuable and worth protecting.

Up on the party deck, Vegas was still getting a feel for things. For the most part there were few security concerns at the moment, but the performer had spotted some potential trouble. One of the guests was a willowy elven man with purple eyes and a handsome face. He was currently leaning against the railing and sipping at a martini as he scanned the crowd absently. Most men wouldn't have given him a second glance, but Vegas could catch the tell-tale signs of a professional at work. The elf was clearly scanning the crowd for marks, taking keen notice of anyone who patted a pocket or who looked too inattentive. The signs were very subtle, likely only noticeable by someone who'd worked a crowd for a living, but they were unmistakable. There was a talented pickpocket aboard the ship.

Orson Wodanstag

The grizzled man erupted in barking laughter as Kvasir spoke. He elbowed his nearest companion and said "There, you see! You might be incredibly talented at spell design, but it takes a true practitioner to spot the actual difficulties in the task. I cannot fault you for being born mundane, but you're like a blind man trying to paint!"

The executive guffawed again while his companion, a middle-aged man of mixed Asian descent, ground his teeth. The mage then abruptly extended a gnarled hand and introduced himself. "Orson Wodanstag, at your service! I must say that it's an absolute joy to have a fellow practitioner aboard. What's your name, son, and who currently signs your checks? If you're as bright as I think you are, I might well try to hire you out from under their noses!"


Vegas chuckled and shook his head. They weren't going to make this easy for him. At this rate they'd end up trying to lock up or neutralise half the party-goers just so the other half could have an undisturbed good time.

Add one more to the list folks: the elf by the railing. Professional wallet lifter if you ask me. Keep another eye on this guy. First sign of theft I suggest we invite him to join us belowdecks.


Kvasir gave the mundane spell designer a look of feigned pity.

"A mundane designing spells, that must be a tough row to hoe. On the other, I guess if you get something wrong, those fireballs are just going to blow up whatever poor test magician is the first to cast the thing. Keeps you safe from the temptation to try it yourself."

He chuckled to himself and shook the older gentleman's hand with a firm, but friendly grip. He resisted the urge to take a psychometric reading of Orson. He knew better than to ruffle the feathers of a high level initiate without good reason. The pause bought him enough time to mentally double check the cover story he was given before the run.

"Well, I'm always listening to offers. Even if I don't bite, it gives me a little leverage in my next round of contract negotiations, right? The name is Torben Jensen. Been at Gaeatronics, Astral Security, for about two years now. Looking to move into more basic R&D, though. Was invited to this soiree by a manager from the Hydroponics division. Some of the paranormal botanical studies they are doing are intriguing. I'm glad I read up on them before I came, though. Between you and me that guy has no idea what his division is up to. It'd make him a great manager, I guess. At least for those of us who prefer the more "hands off" kind of management."


Reasonance watched as Kvasir walked into conversation with a man who must have been perceived as a challenge at the least. He heard the scrambles coming through the pulses, sweet whispers from faceless angels digitized to perfect harmony with his being. He knew it was time to check on the system, read the reports of the security measures, check his drones, and lend a hand to Zahid. The problem is, he just wanted to people watch.

As a kid, Reasonance was enamoured with the idea of spies, mostly because he dreamt that being a spy is exactly why his father was always gone, and so stand-offish when he was around. Loving his other brother more had to be the story that father developed to keep him safe, and his brother the target of abductions. Of course, that false reality trickled away like drop of rain down a window pane. Reasonance had come to terms with father simply being more interested in himself and the Golden Child.

It left a deep-seeded desire to imitate the Bonds and Bournes of the old days as well as actively employ the modern techniques of the Guisepe Hawk and Quintain Fox as seen on their late-night trideo feeds.

Shaking his head out of the people watching, Reasonance wiped the corner of his mouth, and then picked up the plate which recently held the bite of food he was enjoying. The chefs had used culinary chemistry to create a mostly solid vessel of cilantro and serrano pepper gel which housed perfectly fresh scallop ceviche complete with mango, ginger, and lime zest. He looked at the plate, and then made a show of moving his head from side to side, as if weighing a decision on he approval or dismissal of the dish.

He left the plate at the standing table, and proceeded to drop one deck below to an infrequented bathroom. His footsteps carried him where the 3D imaged map of the ship indicated, but his mind was strictly on posting hte thoughts of the ceviche on the blog that he created under the fake SIN and alias, Lindsay French. Lindsay claimed that the dish one most of his approval as the flavors reflected freshness, balance, and harmony, but referred to the gastrochemical experiment of making a gel-like eating vessel a little too off putting, mainly due to it leaving a gummy coating of spicy cilantro on his teeth.

In the bathroom, Reasonance accessed the ship's security system and hard-locked the bathroom door by creating a password protected countermeasure to unlock that particular door. He then set to work surveying the data feeds and drone cameras via VR, longingly embracing the whispers, and pulsations of the Resonace.


<We're not getting into the case without the keys or a significant amount of time running decryption. Very valuable, whatever's inside, if it's not a decoy.> Coming back up into his body, Kamal gives a little stretch, re-crossing his ankles and popping out the joints on his fingers. Reaching over, he takes a sip of bottled water before checking up on their intruder.

After giving the crew an update on his action, he goes back to research. Using the man's picture and undoubtedly fake name as starting points, Kamal starts hunting backwards, searching for the hidden datatrails that will show who the man is.

Down in the bathroom, Reasonance quickly came to the conclusion that someone was trying to subtly breach the ship's node. Most would have missed the whisper-light touches and caresses upon node, but Reasonance wasn't an ordinary hacker or even technomancer. The hacker was probing gently for weak spots in the code, the first part of a very long hack attempt. It would likely take hours to find even the smallest of openings. Of course it would take a good deal of time to find the origin of the probe as well. A delicate game of cat and mouse was about to begin.

Zahid continued his search from his bunk down in the bowels of the ship. This time his prey was much more elusive than a simple high-priced briefcase. Minutes began to creep by without nary a hit, but finally a single ping came up from Interpol. It was a grainy picture taken a week ago at the Seattle airport. The man in the picture was simply tagged "Subject #213" with nothing else. There was a bit of information on him, but it was located deep within the Interpol security nodes.

More information began to trickle in after that, enough so that Zahid could at least begin to assemble a profile of the man. He was highly trained, highly skilled, and likely an ex-member of some espionage outfit. Given has rare appearances and attention to detail, he was probably either a very high priced courier or a seller of secrets. Finding information on him would be incredibly difficult and fooling him a task fit only for the most skilled.

Meanwhile, up on deck, Vegas felt the flow of the room shift almost imperceptibly. The first few drinks were finally starting to dull the sense of the party goers. Social cliques has started to form but hadn't yet solidified, making this an ideal time for a pickpocket to strike. Therefore he wasn't surprised when the elf suddenly pushed off from the railing and started tottering toward the door that led into the hold. His line of motion would take him directly past a small knot of high-dollar investors, a few of them already half drunk on martinis.

Orson Wodanstag

Orson chuckled again at Kvasir's little joke and slapped the magician on the back with a meaty hand. "Ah, the temptation of power and experimentation! Of course the older and wiser we get, the more wisdom we accrue. One starts as a small acorn but eventually grows into a mighty oak." Orson grinned again and then added "isn't that so, Torben. One must water the tree of knowledge before he can traverse its branches."

Orson chuckled again, but the men around him simply looked confused. One of them cut in with a few comments about magical botany, but it seemed as if Orson was wholly concerned with Kvasir.


"Indeed, Orson. And the water supplying that oak must be provided in a generous flow and perhaps more importantly a steady one. I can't believe the accounting games some of these managers play with R&D funds. It's not as if experiments into the fabric of reality can start and stop at the whim of some futures market in arcane knowledge. Not to mention that not all of us are hermetics that can simply put together a flow chart and closed set of equations to get a big project going. There are rituals to be followed and they don't all fit in nicely to a 40 hour nine to five week."

Kvasir put on a wolfish grin at the men surrounding him. He could smell the scent some professional jealousy coming off a few, which he wished he could take a little more pleasure in. For a brief moment, he started believing his own story and thought about how he'd eat these mundane wage slaves for lunch if he was given a real chance to be the hot shot he was selling himself to be. He mentally shook off the daydream and remembered his purpose on the boat. He needed to assess where the old bear stood in whatever was going on with the 'mancer with the suitcase. Magic was probably out of the question, with Kvasir's geasa it would be too disruptive and he was likely outclassed on that account anyhow. So he'd have to rely on his innate talents for sensing discomfort.

"That's the kind of position I've been looking for, anyway. Not easy to find. I don't need big bonuses. Just a steady supply of research support and the freedom to pursue research without micromanagement. Doesn't seem so much to ask. Mundane managers can be great if they don't ask too many questions. Let me do my thing and you do yours, you know? Don't ask me why I need to head to the field for a few days to collect reagents and I won't ask you what's in that astrally shielded suitcase of yours. Did you notice that over there? A little rude at a dinner cruise, I'd think."

Orson Wodanstag

Orson smiled thinly and chuckled at the mention of flow charts before falling silent and glanced over at the man with the suitcase. His eyes narrowed briefly, a sure sign that he was perceiving the astral, then gave a grunt and shrugged. "My, my, aren't you the curious little Ratatoskr. As to rudeness, well, powerful men have need to protect powerful secrets. When I was younger I might have relished the chance to peek inside and see the contents, but now I am older and wiser. I've lost much the vigor and keen vision of youth, but in return have gained hard won wisdom. Let him keep his secrets, I say."

Behind him the rest of the men had fallen back into a smaller circle, intent to let the real magicians talk shop while they worried about their salaries and projects on deadline. They'd feigned professional interest in the presence of Orson, but now that he had a new focus they were intent to leave him be.


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