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"A Regrettable departure from the Routine"

This is where all of the Age of Cyborgs role-plays are archived.
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Rackenhammer
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"A Regrettable departure from the Routine"

Post by Rackenhammer » Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:32 pm

(For all those who followed this in the planning stage, thank you for being patient. This might start a little slow, but believe me, I'll try to pick up the pace as soon as possible. And apologies if I smudge the details of the Party System a little bit...)

In the figurative center of the Party State of Edwin, in the literal center of Old Nottingham City, stood the five Party Towers, headquarters of the Departments which ruled all aspects of life in Edwin. Or, if you believed their propaganda, ensured all citizens of Edwin a full and secure life.
However you took the broad, sweeping claims that came from the Department of Information, there were concrete facts that no one bothered to cover up. One was that, in the HQ tower of the Department of International affairs, a Colonel carried no weight of rank. In fact, he would have carried the coffee if the beverage delivery and rationing was not automatic. Usually, they served the function of "gofers", though a rather more neutral title was probably used when anyone thought to refer to it.

Colonel Nathaniel Physioc did not resent this. It was his duty to carry out, to the fullest extent of his abilities, the offices and tasks that the Party saw fit to assign him to. He had no rebel sympathies that the most prying sneak could detect, and had in fact gained his toehold in the HQ by his efforts in rooting out plots.
Today he had come to report to his new boss the latest results from his latest investigation. Whenever there was a turnover in the top job, especially when the previous incumbent is proved to be not only a rebel sympathizer, but an actual agent, all the projects that bore that predecessor's stamp of approval were given the most thorough working-over. "Turnover Ease Assessment," they called it.
In fact, what the colonel had to come to report was what could be called the discovery of his career. He only had the vague outlines of it now, but he was required to regularly report, and so he would. Even now, though, the fragments of information he had in hand showed as an outline of something that had dangerous potential, that could be the toughest test the Party had ever faced.

Colonel Physioc, burdened with this knowledge, waited patiently to be admitted to his superior's office.
Be Humble in Yourself, but Adamant in the Truth.

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JamesG
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Post by JamesG » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:34 am

((OOC: Picture of Rourke: http://www.furaffinity.net/view/3329445/
My interpretation of the Party headquarters: http://www.furaffinity.net/view/2956132/ ))

The highest office of the DEPINTERN tower overlooked the vast expanse of the urban sprawl of Old Nottingham. There was a bluish fog over the city, the street lamps bathing the streets in cold, unfeeling light. The sunset tonight was a dull red, perfectly visible through the windows of the office, the glass dimming the light so as to maintain a suitable ambience. Across the city, one could see other Party projects. The steel pylons of the CityWide Public Address System, which would in a few hours announce that curfew had begun. After that, the Department of Safety was at liberty to swoop down upon any soul wandering the streets at night. One could also see the train networks weaving in and around the suburbs, and in the distance, the army base for Nottingham, rows of hangars for the mechanised units. It was a typical evening in Nottingham, but the office's occupant had barely any time to look at it.

Overseer Rourke Skalik was a busy fox these days. Ever since he had exposed his predecessor as a filthy traitor, he had been metaphorically invading every sub-department sniffing for traces of corruption and sabotage. Indeed, the word 'saboteur' was the building's unofficial Word of the Month, as officers from DEPSAFE were called in, called out, checking cameras and sensors, looking for any bugs or bombs, and most importantly, any signs of suspicious behaviour. The previous Overseer had not been given the grace of being simply evaporated, an unperson. No, that did not fit his crime. Instead, he was labelled an 'Enemy of the People', and a 'Counter-Social'. For two weeks his face had been plastered across every public television screen, on the official Edwin National News Network (ENNN), and the Department of Safety even let a news crew interview the prisoner. The Overseer confessed, supposedly live, to the entire nation that he had plotted as an Anarchist, that he had wanted their free society to be demolished, that he was opposed to citizen's rights, and he was a saboteur whom had blown up factories, offices and even schools, killing hundreds of innocents. These buildings had all been named, though obviously, seeing as they had all been blown up, nobody could prove their existence.

When the Party wanted a national outrage, they could produce it very effectively. The entire nation from one side of the continent to the other bayed for his blood. Traitor, murderer, monster. The Overseer, the people's newest enemy, was righteously led to the City Square by the sinister looking Party troopers, in their long coats reminiscent of robes, black mitre hats, green goggles, masks and gloves, their heavy tanker boots thundering in unison into formation. They did not carry their usual desintegration lance rifles, instead all armed with antique rail-gun rifles from the 2080s. The heinous charges were read out in full. This was a public exhibition nobody wanted to miss. No less than 20 cameras were fixed on every emotional outpour of anguish the feline expressed, chained in his prison clothes, crying, begging for mercy. The crowd, held back by serious looking DEPSAFE officers, were shouting as at the top of their lungs, "There he is!", "Kill him!", "Kill the terrorist, kill the saboteur!". Of course, in a few days, the very existence of the doomed fur would pass from the crowd's memory, as would all record of him. The soldiers complied with the demands, uniformly loading a single shot into each antique rifle. The officer gave the command, "Take Aim!", and the crowd fell silent. For one moment, the bound feline could be heard in the silence, sobbing, a final "Please...".

Rourke was smoking a cigar. It was real tobacco, none of the synthesized stuff sold to Edwinish citizens. This was produced in the Territory of the Ravens, top quality. Just one of the many luxury items delivered by armoured train to the Party buildings. Citizens did not know about the train, citizens would not have the capacity to see the unfairness of the situation if they had known. Rourke's room had a few signs of the luxury afforded to senior ranking Party officials. Wine from Domus being the most noticeable, with a real glass bottle and company label, rather than the safety-plastic Party distributed wine, that came in 600mL cylinders per ration. At the moment, the Overseer was reclined in the real leather chair, a holographic display emanating from his desk, which he was slowly scrolling through, reading about some rather dull financial records for the Department last year. It listed all their purchases, and the fox was checking for any inconsistencies. For all he knew, his predecessor might have bought some huge secret underground base full of Counter-Social Anarchists with Party money. The Overseer was clad in his usual uniform, long dark grey coat, that was reminiscent of a robe, with gold braiding, red facings and red collar, gold lining and most important, his half-mask on his face, dark grey-green, with a slight grey-blue stripe down one side. Nobody ever seemed to see him without it.

A chime sounded, and a monotone voice filled the room. "Colonel N. Physioc." Rourke nodded, closing the report. His office was quite bare otherwise, a shiny black desk, leather chairs, a pot plant that seemed out of place in such an austere environment. The top floor was reserved for him, to the room was quite spacious, and there were several cabinets against the wall, but for the most part, it seemed resoundingly empty. The carpet was black, with a solid, straight, dark red band that led from the door to the desk. The walls had mood lighting that kept the room at a cool blue-white ambience. Skalik had been born, raised and trained in very bare environments, from the orphanage to the barracks of the military, so it seemed appropriate that his office should just be a more expensive brand of minimalism. He was a very neat fox. Removing his cigar, allowing the smoke to curl in front of his eyes, Rourke said aloud, "Enter", and the door opened of its own accord. Security was quite tight in this part of the building. Employees needed higher levels of clearance as the worked their way up the building. Skalik's office had one lift and one stairway to it, plus access to the landing pad that jutted from the side of the building.
"You can't just remain a root forever. Eventually you grow and change into other things, like stems and leaves and such. Are a tree's leaves an insult to its roots?" - Sade

"It is easy for a statesman, whether he be in the Cabinet or the Chamber, to blow a blast with the wind of popularity on the trumpet of war, warming himself the while at his own fireside; or to thunder orations from this tribune and then to leave it to the musketeer who is bleeding to death in the snow whether his system win fame and victory or no. There is nothing easier than that; but woe to the statesman who in these days does not look around him for a reason for war which will hold water when the war is over." - Otto von Bismarck

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Post by Rackenhammer » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:09 pm

Nathaniel Physioc passed through all the manifold security measures with nary a hint of annoyance. It was all routine. There was no hint of jealousy as the colonel entered his superior's office, either. Not only were the luxuries not immediately apparent, the colonel was nearly incapable of any kind of rebellious thought by nature. He was of the sort that would tend to the conservative in any kind of regime, and fit into the lockstep of DEPINTERN like a finely-fashioned cog gear.
The colonel stood before Overseer Rourke and snapped out a textbook salute. "Overseer, Colonel Nathaniel Physioc reporting on Turnover Ease Assessment duties." The formalities taken care of, he got down to business. "Sir, I've tracked down a large program, principally funded by that traitor we recently executed." Said traitor had not yet been wiped from the colonel's memory, obviously. It would have been difficult to do his task with that handicap. "The core of it seems to have been based upon a discovery of Foreign Intel concerning an experimental nanotech invention with medical applications. You'll forgive me if I leave out the technical details, I had to have it explained to me by one of my majors, I will refer him to you. From what I gathered, it seemed to be meant to replace or enhance the immune system.
"It was a joint project, several companies from Gawain and Domus participated. Party agents successfully infiltrated the project, but their cover may have been compromised, given that the project was suddenly terminated with undue reason. However that may be, we had enough information by now to recreate their work, which was still in the beginning stages."
The Colonel deposited the first layer of papers on the Overseer's desk. "Those were the easy fact to find. What red-flagged this project was the fact that he kept it in his own personal staff, rather than hand the project over to Nutrition and Hydration, which usually handles matters of health. It received regular funding for some years, I've managed to mark out the parts of the budget it was hidden in." A second layer of papers was deposited on the desk.
"Based on this information, we duly traced and raided their labs and offices. Most of the stuff had been cleared out already, great pains were taken to destroy records and remains of the project. Also, most of the furs we traced to the project had already terminated themselves, confirming rather well that they were traitors unwilling to the last to give up information. But, the dead had not been thorough in destroying their traces, and we tracked that the latest manifestation of this project, whatever it had evolved into, that we are not sure of. It had been traveling by train, with an escort of troops, from Langley to Annapolis. Then we ran into a hitch, sir." A third layer of papers was deposited onto the desk.
"The train... was not on schedule." This was the closest that the double-thinking colonel could come to referring to the fact that the train was wrecked. "The Department of Saftey's records indicate that the Movement was involved, but were unwilling or unable to name for certain the Counter-Socials involved. They produced a list of passengers, which fully account for all the bodies and counted survivors. None of the DEPINTERN personnel survived, and almost all were killed by disintegration lances. There was no trace of the escorted nanotech.
"When I double-checked the figures with DEPTRANS, an inconsistency arose. Namely, one passenger was listed on that train who was not accounted for by records in DEPSAFE. An Air Force cadet, James McNamara." A personnel file followed the previously deposited papers. "No trace of him has been found, either. I authorized a search for him, which has so far met with no success. It may be that he is the mole we are looking for, in which case it seems likely he had accomplices."
That was the full report, but the colonel felt like adding something, perhaps some actual sense of duty, deeper than indoctrination, but working in parallel rather than opposed to Party Doctrine. "It may not be of importance, but DEPTRANS and DEPSAFE disagree by some hours on when DEPSAFE agents arrived on the scene. DEPTRANS says they were not more than a minute, appearing nearly immediately, while DEPSAFE says it took nearly 10 minutes to arrive." It wasn't much of a discrepancy, but it burdened the cat's mind.

*****

Elsewhere...

A ragged, unkempt young grey mutt crouched in the slums of Old Nottingham City. It was a mostly overlooked place, double-thinking citizens did not want to acknowledge that the benevolent rule of the Party could allow such a place. Truth be told, slums didn't last for long. They were periodically cleansed by DEPSAFE, but always came back like pestilential fungus.
The mutt fit in well. Dirty, with the unkempt look that came from insufficient sleep. He wore an Air Force cadet's uniform, torn deliberately beyond recognition as such, and was currently trying to open a metal attache case.
The case was metallic and Utilitarian, with no other decoration other than an embolazed letter M. It was also locked, and the dog did not possess the key. Bashing it against the corner of a dilapidated building was making a little progress, though...
Be Humble in Yourself, but Adamant in the Truth.

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Post by Kitsunegami » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:17 am

A silvery furred hybrid stood on the helipad, arms crossed in front of them, looking out over Old Nottingham, visible from the office. The most definitive features in identifying the fur were their wings, but otherwise feline body. The fur wore a long Party styled coat, resembling the out-dated Trench coat, and the current Party DEPSAFE and DEPINTERN uniforms merged into one. It had no markings, or distinguishing features other than the apparent merger of the two uniforms. The fur turned and walked back to the door separating the office from the helipad.

As the fur turned and approached the door, the gender and yet more details about this enigmatic fur surfaced. She was wearing the same half-mask that the Overseer was wearing, along with the mask that the officers typically wore to cover the rest of their faces. Simple dress shoes, silver business slacks, and a white button-up shirt were all the female tigress wore under her coat, which was currently being worn open, but tied at the waist by a sash-like uniform belt.

A voice came over the intercom, which was decidedly not the programmed voice. "Sir. Permission to enter?" It seemed that it could be the voice of the winged tigress outside, but there was no motion near the muzzle of her mask to indicate that she was the one speaking...

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Post by JamesG » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:13 pm

The Overseer returned the salute, standing as was custom, before returning to his seat. In another time, he might have shaken the Colonel's paw, but the Party usually dispensed with any unnecessary forms of greeting. The fox listened intently, his paws clasped in front of him, though he took care to leave his elbows off the table. It was a sign of laziness to lean on the table, in Rourke's opinion. Though he was becoming more and more intrigued as the Colonel's story went on, any facial expression were of course, difficult to read from the masked fur. By the Colonel's conclusion, there was silence, the air only punctuated by the smoke from the cigar. Then Rourke spoke, his voice low, and hoarse. "I see, Colonel. So you conclude that this medical nanotech project has been stolen by the Movement. Well, allow me to fill you in on what has occured since then." The Overseer was more speaking to himself aloud than to Colonel. Rourke liked to discuss his thoughts out loud, sometimes recording himself, if no live audience, like Physioc, was available.

"After the traitor was discovered, we of course had him interrogated. He was unwilling at first to say a word, but Compliance Encouragement did their job well. We demanded to know the names, locations and any plans of the Movement. He explained at first that they have no central organisation, no Movement agent knows another by sight. He was receiving orders in an old abandoned building, by way of paper notes, which he destroyed upon reading. I found it strange that as Overseer, he would not have been curious, and used his power to spy on the ruin to see whom was sending him orders. I had all air and satellite sweep records checked for the building. Strangely, he never seems to have betrayed them. Perhaps he was cleverer than I thought. I ordered the building sweeped by DEPSAFE's forensics lot, and I visited myself." Here Rourke paused to take another puff on the cigar. "It wasn't much of a building, some brick house that had fallen into disuse. We went over every square centimetre of the place. No DNA, no hair, no fingerprints, no residues. Most disappointing."

Rourke looked at the Colonel properly now, for before his eyes had been wandering. "Colonel, the Movement is a very slippery organisation. I doubt there is one leader, where the orders come from is anyone's guess. How the traitor joined is a mystery to me as well. However, I believe that I have one agent whom might be able to infiltrate the Movement. I know she can do her task with perfection and discover the true whereabouts of this project. I know, because we created her." At that moment, the intercom came alive again, and a voice, quite different from the previous one asked permission to enter. Skalik gave the Colonel a thin smile. "I do not know if you have been introduced to Agent Tesla, but here is your opportunity. Enter." The door slid open, revealing how thick it was, and showing another door to the office. The office was designed with this 'airlock' system not only for security, but also to keep out the wind. However, the fur outside was now welcome to join the Overseer's discussion.
"You can't just remain a root forever. Eventually you grow and change into other things, like stems and leaves and such. Are a tree's leaves an insult to its roots?" - Sade

"It is easy for a statesman, whether he be in the Cabinet or the Chamber, to blow a blast with the wind of popularity on the trumpet of war, warming himself the while at his own fireside; or to thunder orations from this tribune and then to leave it to the musketeer who is bleeding to death in the snow whether his system win fame and victory or no. There is nothing easier than that; but woe to the statesman who in these days does not look around him for a reason for war which will hold water when the war is over." - Otto von Bismarck

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Post by Rackenhammer » Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:15 pm

"Well..." Colonel Physioc had a strong sense of professional ethics; not only was he an investigator, he was an analyst. He would not commit himself to a certain absolute statement until he had absolute proof. Often this proof would have to be produced post facto, after the fur he arrested was interrogated. But until he had anyone in his grip, he always sought to qualify his statements. The arrests he recommended were based on mere probability, but generally high ones. After listening to the Overseer's account of the traitor recently ousted, he said. "That it was stolen is the conclusion supported by most of the data, although it is probable that it was always in the control of Movement in fact if not in jurisdiction, but I cannot account for all the anomalies. Without a cohesive theory of how this all came together, I cannot adequately guess what is to be done next."

The news that the Movement could be infiltrated brightened the cat's face. "Indeed? I should very much like to meet her, sir!" He had long dreamed of getting an inside look into the organization that had been the bane of the Party for so long now. Having to deal with something so slippery was annoying, to say the least.
Be Humble in Yourself, but Adamant in the Truth.

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Post by Kitsunegami » Sat Mar 20, 2010 1:13 am

Tesla entered the air lock, resealed the outer door, then entered the office door. She walked up next to the desk and looked directly at the Colonel. It was then that she 'reclaimed' the half-mask and gas mask back into her body, essentially deconstructing it atom by atom and storing them in her body. The effect of this was that the masks just seemed to melt into her face.

Once the masks were gone, she smiled softly, and changed her appearance to become what could only be considered the Colonel's daughter, even going so far as to alter her fur patterns, and color.

After a few minutes, she changed back to the silvery tigress she was before. "Nanotechnology at it's finest, Colonel Physioc. Of all my siblings, I'm the only one who survived, and infiltrated groups that, shall we say, opposed to the ideals of the party."

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Post by JamesG » Sat Mar 20, 2010 3:10 am

Overseer Skalik indicated with one paw that the two could sit in the chairs opposite his desk. His mind was working on a plan, in order to follow the only leads they had. He picked up the personnel file for McNamara, and leafed through it. Photograph, DNA sequences, fingerprints, name, history and physical description. All trace of him via the Observation Posts had ceased after the train incident. What did that mean? The Overseer deduced by logic, that the reason the Observation Posts were not detecting him, was that he was not going near any Observation Posts. And what did that tell Rourke? It told him that the Movement member was in a place unobserved by the nation's huge array of surveillance equipment. So where did that leave? The countryside, pockets of non-covered areas in the cities, and the smallest villages with little observation. Rourke could reduce the haystack by logic, but the needle he wanted was as elusive as before.

Once the introductions between his two associates were finished, he puffed once more on the cigar, and began to speak aloud again, his voice still quiet and hoarse. "Now, I believe I have three courses of action which may lead us to the lost project. First, we find McNamara. It is highly unlikely he still has the project, probably giving it to another Movement member, but he could still lead us to it. Second, we infiltrate the Movement at unprecedented levels. Our work has been very slow in the past, but with Agent Tesla's obvious superiority in disguise and deception, I think we may be more successful. Agent Tesla, I believe your top priority should be to find out who issues the orders for the Movement. Find any leaders or knowledgeable persons, and find out where this project is, and what they intend to use it for." Here he tapped the first papers Physioc had given him describing the project. He knew that Tesla had been absent from the first part of the conversation, but he thought she had a remarkable ability to keep up with what was going on.

"Thirdly, I want that train gone over again. It is the last place the project was seen. I want the bodies exhumed, the train found and re-examined. If it has been scrapped, find it and all its components. And most importantly, I want all the DEPSAFE agents that arrived on the scene to be re-interviewed by DEPINTERN, by our top interrogators. I want their sensory data to be examined again as well. All the images their eyes recorded in our computer system, I want retrieved. We keep those data vaults for a good reason. Physioc, I am putting you in charge of this course of action. Agent Tesla, you are free to make contact with the Movement and begin your investigation immediately. Make certain you forward any messages sent to you by the Movement to me. If you need any equipment, vehicles, manpower or information resources, I am giving you clearance to requisition them. As for McNamara, I shall deal with that lead myself. Anything that important to the Movement is doubly important to me."
"You can't just remain a root forever. Eventually you grow and change into other things, like stems and leaves and such. Are a tree's leaves an insult to its roots?" - Sade

"It is easy for a statesman, whether he be in the Cabinet or the Chamber, to blow a blast with the wind of popularity on the trumpet of war, warming himself the while at his own fireside; or to thunder orations from this tribune and then to leave it to the musketeer who is bleeding to death in the snow whether his system win fame and victory or no. There is nothing easier than that; but woe to the statesman who in these days does not look around him for a reason for war which will hold water when the war is over." - Otto von Bismarck

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Post by Rackenhammer » Sat Mar 20, 2010 1:17 pm

The colonel had courteous greetings for Agent Tesla waiting on his tongue, which transmuted into a shocked "durk!" upon seeing her transformation. Attempting to stifle his embarrassment, he nodded to her self-introduction, not trusting himself to speak yet. She had looked so uncannily like Dawn...

Returning to the business at hand, Physioc, paw on muzzle, eyes closed and nodding along in thought to his superior's assessment, planned his next moves. He received his orders with a certain amount of relish. "I take it then, that I have detaining privileges should DEPSAFE officials prove... obstructive?" The question implied a certain amount of trouble that the colonel had had in the first part of his investigation. A certain amount of rivalry was fostered between the different departments of the Party, in case one was needed to purge to other of Counter-Social elements.

****

Back in the slums, McNamara had succeeded in cracking open the case. It would still require some wrestling to get the contents out, though. *So, now we shall see what's so important about this, that people would want to shoot me for it.*
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Post by Kitsunegami » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:23 am

"Unfortunate as it is, infiltration is an imprecise science. It will likely take weeks of routine to even be considered for contact by a member, if not physically approached. Thus it stands to reason that I may meet with great delay. I suggest a highly encrypted code, one that simply can not be deciphered. Such as a conversation between siblings working outside of the respectable jobs. Occupations that would be more inclined to become disillusioned and counter social elements." she said to the Overseer.

Tesla had been standing unnaturally still, however given her physical makeup, it shouldn't be surprising. She is, fundamentally, half-machine. "While I have the capacity to create an unlimited supply of aliases, I am not a mastermind. I would do better were I granted a cover identity, possibly one that I can take liberties with in regards to the more fine details."

"You will recall the incident several weeks prior with Inspector Greaves... I have no desire to repeat that incident. You will note in my full report, submitted before the lock-down protocols were enacted, that I listed in detail what happened to my identification chip. What could be called my immune system will disassemble virtually anything put into my body and use the atoms to 'heal' what has been damage. I would dislike being the listed cause of death for Inspector Greaves." she said with a bit of a grin.

"As a final suggestion before I depart to my residence,", she said as she locked her gaze upon several of the items that were decidedly not from ration cards, indicating that she was aware of the privileges that the various Overseers had, "My residence is a known home to a Party employee. If the employee were to become, shall we say, unemployed, the building would require a new occupant, or additional occupants to supplement rent and rations. Since the residence is of a somewhat -government salary- size, I feel the quest for a roommate would aide in the cover identity. This is all speculation, however. I shall leave the details in the capable hands of the department. I will await further orders while preparing for my new role. I shall prepare to use my cover-identity, Tessa McMillan, as the prospective mole."

Having said her lengthy statements, she gave the other occupants of the room a nod, then proceeded to exit the same way she entered, through the air lock. Once out, she spread her wings and let the wind take her from the tower. She landed near a train station looking like she had been having the worst possible day after altering her long coat so that it no longer had any resemblance to the one she had been wearing, mussing her hair, ruffling her feathers, and generally looking like a highly stressed accountant mid-audit. Her cover identity was that of a hare with avian ancestry. She took public transportation to her neighborhood and walked home, stopping only long enough to get a few things, then took public transportation to a near-by pub.

The pub had that 'rustic Old-Edwin' theme that seemed to connect the present and past. There were a few antique weapons that were likely replicas, an old rifle and some spent casings, a few antique war medals, and various other trinkets to give the pub that old-world flavor. Behind the bar stood an old march hare cleaning up a few glasses, "Ah, Tess, it's been quite a while since you've been in, and by the looks' of ya' you could use a pint." the hare said in a northern accent (Irish).

"God, yes. If I don't get the reports filed by nood tomorrow, the new boss is gonna have my head for a hood ornament, and my fluffy little butt mounted on her wall." she said in an equally northern accent (Irish as well).

"Well, I'm not one to speak against the Party, but it seems like she may just be flexing the proverbial muscles. Especially if it's her first time being 'the boss'. Don't worry lass, tomorrow will be better, for certain!" the old hare said with a wink-and-a-nod.

"If only that were the case... She's already fired 3 of the others. Oliver White was the last, and he was a model employee! I just don't know what will happen... Ugh, give me a pint of your strongest, if you would be so kind." she said as she put her ration card on the bar, and lay her head on her arms, even going so far as to allow her wings to 'drag' against the floor as she walked to the bar stool in front of the hare before sitting.

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Post by JamesG » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:18 am

The Overseer for the first time seemed to express a slight air of not understanding. He tilted his head slightly, and stared at the Colonel, in an odd silence that seemed quite long. The room's atmosphere, despite the glorious red colour of the sunset coming through the window, suddenly seemed a bit colder. Finally, Skalik spoke, repeating the Colonel's word with a strange menace to it. "Obstructive?". Rourke did not, or liked to think that he did not, hold with inter-departmental obstructions, particularly from DEPSAFE, whom he regarded as the most troublesome. In his perfect world, everyone did as they said, because he knew best, and they did not. Any unwillingness of the part of the Department of Safety to divulge information to DEPINTERN could be seen as Counter-Social activity, in his view. There should be nothing to hide from his eyes. The Overseer dropped the cigar into his ashtray, and leant across the table. "Colonel, there will be no obstructive behaviour. Any detection of lying or an unwillingness to co-operate may be seen as the actions of saboteurs and anarchists planted within the organisation. So it stands to reason that whomever obstructs you is an unperson, and thus no person at all."

Rourke stayed leaning forward as Tesla spoke. He knew results would not be immediate on her end, though he hoped to find McNamara by the time she was ready. He nodded at her suggestion of an encryption, but did not interrupt until she referred him to a report from a few weeks ago. Here he nodded his head, and said, "The Overseer of DEPSAFE referred it to me. He says you broke curfew, infiltrated the building, impersonating as someone else, illegally entered an Interrogation in progress and refused to co-operate with officers at hand, causing upwards of $50, 000 worth of damage, including counselling for those involved and the damage caused to the building by a... robotic motorbike." Here Rourke returned the grin, if his was a little nastier. "Obviously, I'm very pleased and impressed with your progress." The Overseer did not like DEPSAFE, and any chance to humiliate the Overseer of it was perfectly welcome to the fox. Though the incident did highlight some concerns regarding the building designs. Next budget meeting, Rourke intended to requisition funds for upgrades to what he viewed as the most important building of the five; His own.

Once Tesla had left, Rourke looked at the Colonel. "As for McNamara, he will require skills of another kind. You also have top priority for resource aquisition. Any equipment or personnel any department can provide will be at your disposal. I want this done quickly and efficiently. Interesting project, is she not?" Here Skalik was talking about Tesla. "Not perfect, not in my view, but certainly one of our best advances in the field of subterfuge and infiltration. You may begin whenever ready, Physioc." The holographic screen on the desk lit up again, thereby signalling the meeting was over, as far as Skalik was concerned. He began using the computer to call up satellite images of the nation, highlighting observation posts. These images were very recent, only a week old. A few more clicks, and areas not covered by the posts came up in yellow. Most were in the country, a few pockets in cities here and there. Rourke overlayed this with areas covered by aerial sweeps with Citizen ID capabilities. The yellow pockets diminished. Areas covered by regular police patrols. The yellow blobs over Edwin decreased again. Rourke stared at the screen, frowning behind his mask. Where are you? he thought of McNamara.
"You can't just remain a root forever. Eventually you grow and change into other things, like stems and leaves and such. Are a tree's leaves an insult to its roots?" - Sade

"It is easy for a statesman, whether he be in the Cabinet or the Chamber, to blow a blast with the wind of popularity on the trumpet of war, warming himself the while at his own fireside; or to thunder orations from this tribune and then to leave it to the musketeer who is bleeding to death in the snow whether his system win fame and victory or no. There is nothing easier than that; but woe to the statesman who in these days does not look around him for a reason for war which will hold water when the war is over." - Otto von Bismarck

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Post by Rackenhammer » Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:21 pm

*That's all very nice, but how do I ask an unperson where the files are kept?* The colonel was skilled enough in doublethink to allow such thoughts their place... and never, ever let them out. In truth, he had never encountered blatant obstruction; to bring oneself to the attention of someone doing the kind of job the colonel did was unwise, to say the least. But one could hardly bring out the arrest squads because a secretary required a mountain of forms, filled out by hand, in triplicate, which had to be shipped to and from various offices, and were inevitably sent back for errors and "lost", but perseverance could cut through that. It was just that the colonel doubted he had the time. Now, however, that it was a question of who in DEPSAFE was Counter-Social rather than what an acknowledged traitor in DEPINTERN had done exactly, Physioc anticipated an easier time.
The colonel smiled too, at the list of damages caused by Tesla, and looked on her with rather more respect. He shared his boss' dislike of DEPSAFE, and it wouldn't have surprised him to find a nest Movement sympathizers in there. He rather suspected that he would find some, it would account for several anomalies...
That brought Physioc's thoughts back to business. He nodded and gave the dutiful "Yes, sir!" passed down through centuries of military protocol, and left the room when Overseer Skalik indicated that he should. *The audit I can do. I'm glad that I'm not in charge of finding McNamara, though. I don't know if I'd be able to trust DEPSAFE data; most of the eyes on the street report directly to them, and they have access to all of them.*

The best way to help Rourke to do his job was for Physioc to do his. Gathering his team, Physioc payed another visit to the neighboring tower. One could still see some of the burn marks from that little "incident."
As expected, the file-keepers were much more cooperative this time, and disgorged absolutely everything. It was all raw data, but that was just fine by the colonel. *The closer we are to ground truth, the less chance it's been cooked. This stuff is too tedious to fake.*
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Post by JamesG » Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:12 pm

Dawn broke over Old Nottingham the next day. At the army base, Rourke's new plan was being set into action. He had been working on it long into the night, and had submitted his orders to the base around midnight. Now, the soldiers were hearing their first of it. The plan was for the 4th Rapid-Response, a regiment trained to deploy in urban conditions, to move out into the sectors requiring searching in the City. 4th Rapid-Response would be moving in several groups of vehicles, covered by helicopters. In addition to them, a dropship from AIRCOM would be patrolling the area, carrying the 7th Airborne Regiment, a group of soldiers that used jetpacks to deploy over an area. They were notable for their use of explosive disc-launcher weapons, devices notorious for ricocheting at flat angles, causing havoc. The official cover story was a training exercise to test the abilities of DEPINTERN equipment. In reality, each unit was briefed on the importance of locating and detaining alive the fur known as James McNamara. His face was known to every fur in the operation, and each soldier was also aware of the importance of locating all his property. As they suited up, the General that had been commanding the briefing was unexpectedly visited.

A black car pulled up at the base. A paw was extended from the window, and the guard scanned it with a portable ID device. The car was waved through, the metal bar raising to let it through. The vehicle pulled up near the General's office. On the parade yard, the men were assembling, behind them, a row of vehicles. At least over a hundred huge, offroad four-door pickup trucks were taking part in the operation today, each in urban camouflage, that is various shades of grey in camouflage patterns across the bodywork, with the Party flag on each door. They had enormous black bullbars in front of wide radiator grills, steel bars across the windows, and a mounted heavy desintegration lance on the roof, operated by a fur standing in the pickup's rear tray. On the back were mounted smoke canister mortars, and the vehicles all had two bright spotlights mounted on the cab, as well as thin green and white strobe light strips. These were fast, sturdy offroad vehicles designed to carry troops through urban areas, which today would serve as search vehicles. The angular surfaces of the cab's hood and bulky doors revealed that despite the title of 'Rapid-Response', their armour was thick. The door of the black car in front of the parade opened, and every fur stood to attention at the sight. Overseer Rourke Skalik had arrived personally, and the General went forward hurredly to meet him.

"Overseer, this is an unexpected honour!" the General blurted out, afraid to lose focus when his scary boss was around. Rourke merely nodded, and said. "Are we ready to go?" The General, a short leopard, nodded nervously, "Ah, yes, we are preparing to move out, AIRCOM says their helicopters and dropship are airborne." The masked fox nodded. He had exchanged his usual dress uniform, with its gold braid and medals, to a more simple coat, though it was still fashioned in the same long, robe-like style as everyone else's. He had a sidearm, a short-barrelled desintegration lance rifle on his shoulder, and a body armour vest underneath the coat. He had exchanged his dress boots for the more comfortable tanker boots all the soldiers wore, with thick straps, instead of laces that might get caught in machinery. He saw that the General had his own pickup-truck at the front, and smiled thinly. "Excellent, I'll lead the convoy." The General gasped. "Sir, is it wise to... er... risk your person?" Skalik looked at him, and replied, "General, I said I would find him. Besides, remember, we are going on a military exercise. I'm here to supervise." The fox was a soldier to heart, and not being able to fly the mission, resolved instead to take the opportunity to get out of his office and hunt down McNamara personally. He was the kind of leader that acted as well as spoke.

Without waiting for the General to protest, Rourke addressed the furs waiting to deploy. "Soldiers! I expect nothing but the best today. We must find one man, and we shall not fail. Follow in convoy until ordered to spread out. Any trouble, call for back-up, our air units are standing by with sniper lances should any situation develop. Let's go!" The yard was at once full of acitivty as the men rushed to their trucks. Seven men per vehicle, a driver, three soldiers in the cab, a gunner at the back with the mounted weapon and two other soldiers in the back with him. The suspension and wheels of the vehicle held them at a higher level than most other road vehicles in the City. Rourke ran to the General's, whom had been planning on driving. The leopard looked a bit crestfallen, but saluted deferentially as the pickup, loaded with soldiers, growled its big hydrogen engine, and lead the convoy out the gate. Overhead, the dropship hummed. It was a huge multi-engined hovering helicopter-like machine, heavily armed and ready to send the 7th Airborne swarming upon its enemies.

The television sets and radios on across the city blared the familiar trumpet fanfare of the news. "This is Edwin National News Network!" the anchorman began. "This morning, residents of Old Nottingham are awakened as the streets are patrolled by DEPINTERN vehicles. Several convoys of armed trucks left the army base this morning, conducting military exercises to test DEPINTERN equipment capabilities. We have also seen several aircraft in the area that seem to be circling the city. We were unable to reach the Overseer for comment, but a DEPINTERN spokesman informs us that the exercises will not affect the city centre." The screen cut to an image of the convoy of trucks, sirens wailing and green and white strobes flickering in turn, driving down the road. The time was about seven o'clock in the morning, just an hour after sunrise, and Rourke was pulling into his designated sector. The soldier beside him had to admire his superior's driving; the fox had reached the slums, a narrow network of zig-zagging roads the big pickup barely managed to squeeze through. In fact, a few of the residents' possessions left out in the open, like tables and chairs, had been knocked aside by the bullbar like they were made of paper. Rourke had not reached his designated waypoint yet, but other convoys from the other base had. Stopping at their virtually represented waypoints, the soldiers quickly disembarked, shouting the age-old expression, "GO GO GO!", pointing their lances this way and that. Masked and goggles, with large mitre helmets and thick gloves and boots, the soldiers looked like they meant business, as they stormed each shack, each poverty-stricken part of the slums, pointing weapon-mounted flashlights into terrified furs' faces, checking each dilapidated home off. Skalik had sent units to every spot in the city not covered by observation posts, and those areas were soon becoming smaller and smaller as DPEINTERN advanced.

Meanwhile, out in the country, the blissful morning quiet was unbroken as silently, overhead, the AIRCOM fighters streaked over. They were surveillance, running scanner sweeps over the areas Rourke had found were not covered by sensors already. Thousands of images were pouring into the headquarters of DEPINTERN from both aerial and ground operations. The computer had not registered McNamara's signal yet, as each heat signature was photographed at least five times from the jets spying on the countryside. 4DIDAR could sense fur's locations, but only images could positively identify them for certain. This was a big operation, so DEPINTERN helicopters were also running scans to assist. DEPSAFE was not involved in the plan at all. The fox Overseer had lost his trust in that department, and wanted the operation pure of its incompetence, in his view. This was to be DEPINTERN's victory. The fox scowled behind his mask as he thought of the Overseer of DEPSAFE whom he hated, and his booted hind paw pushed the accelerator hard as he reached a slightly straighter path in between shacks to drive through. The roar of the engine and howl of the sirens frightened a poor child canine of some species playing outside, whom dashed out of the way, as the war machines thundered past, throwing up dust in his face, preparing to move out and begin their part of the search.
"You can't just remain a root forever. Eventually you grow and change into other things, like stems and leaves and such. Are a tree's leaves an insult to its roots?" - Sade

"It is easy for a statesman, whether he be in the Cabinet or the Chamber, to blow a blast with the wind of popularity on the trumpet of war, warming himself the while at his own fireside; or to thunder orations from this tribune and then to leave it to the musketeer who is bleeding to death in the snow whether his system win fame and victory or no. There is nothing easier than that; but woe to the statesman who in these days does not look around him for a reason for war which will hold water when the war is over." - Otto von Bismarck

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Post by Rackenhammer » Sat Apr 10, 2010 3:40 pm

The night before....

*Almost... got it...* It had not been an easy task to crudely force open the attache case. It was astounding that James had managed it at all, given that current technology allowed for cases that were the closest ever come to being literally impossible to break into. The Party obviously had access to this sort of technology in Edwin; few others did. This, of course, did not pass through James' mind as he industriously bashed the case against the wall. As such, he also did not think that it was just possible that a box might not be designed to remain locked.
If there were any passers by, they assumed that the disheveled dog was a chemjunkie, trying to get at his supply of hits. Not exactly an uncommon sight in these slums, although such persons were "discouraged" by the Department of Nutrition and hydration. After about five minutes bashing and scraping of the final latch, his efforts were rewarded, rather unexpectedly. The case literally exploded open, sending shrapnel ricocheting and dust flying everywhere. James was knocked back, and got to his knees coughing and hacking, clutching a gash on his upper arm with his right paw, which also was cut. *All right, let's see what's here-what?* The case was empty, or at least there was nothing to be seen.
McNamara collapsed against the opposite wall, making a noise somewhere between a moan and a howl. Everything he'd gone through, his life quite literally shot to pieces, over a case of nothing. Half-sobbing, he moved to his feet and stumbled deeper into the slums, leaving the case for the curious to find, and the dust to scatter everywhere. Some landed on the omnipresent cameras in the streets, some was sucked into the vast underground infrastructure common to all modern cities, but most fell lightly on the surrounding buildings, streets, and alleyways, until stirred up by the arrival of the soldiers and their machines.

James, meanwhile, had gone looking for a hiding place, and found an old building with a floorless basement. That is, it was on top of one of the train tunnels under the city, a hole that had recently opened after the thin sheet of asphalt that was the floor of the basement and ceiling of the tunnel gave way suddenly, and would probably be fixed following the routine cleansing of the slums. For now, James merely dropped down it, and started walking. No trains went after curfew, so there was little chance of him being run over for now. Still, as soon as he came to what we might call a utility corridor, he turned down that. Shortly before sunrise, he was quite lost, and quite tired. Also, quite far away, by walking distance anyhow, from where the search was just now starting. He shortly went into a fitful doze.
Be Humble in Yourself, but Adamant in the Truth.

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Post by JamesG » Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:26 pm

The big armoured vehicle pulled up at the virtual waypoint, the pickups behind it also slowing as they reached their destinations. Rourke's column of Rapid-Response units were now in position. Doors opened and slammed, and the soldiers began to move out. Rourke stayed seated, fiddling with the computer interface of the vehicle. It was a high-tech machine, full of sensory equipment and options for combat. With the soldiers off to work, the fox tapped up the mounted desintegration lance controls, and set them to manual, cab control. The interface now was displaying from the small camera unti affixed to the weapon, an aiming reticule and miniature 4DIDAR display overlaying the image. Rourke smiled, and clicked another control. The screen overlay was now projected onto the upper left portion of his left eyeball, through the HUD implant. A small button clicked out from the side of the steering wheel. As Rourke's thumb pushed the small, touch-sensitive button, the view rotated in his vision, as the weapon above him rotated too. The Overseer now had control over all the machine's faculties.

The 4DIDAR overlay showed the Party units in green, and civilian units in yellow. As the military truck prowled through the narrow paths, the turret on top twisting from side to side, Rourke was silently watching the patterns of green and yellow. Some of the poorer educated slum-furs apparently were unaware of the penetrating power of 4DIDAR, and were trying to evade detection by scampering through small paths and shacks, keeping low down and quiet. Rourke found it amusing to watch the shape of one such fur nearby, as the frightened feline ducked low as a helicopter passed over head. His sirens were off, and the truck began to creep forward towards the cat's position. The scrawny looking lion began creeping forward again, and Rourke waited for him to pass into his field of vision. The camera cleared the lion of being McNamara the second it saw him, but Rourke had already known that. Still, he decided to teach the lion a lesson about evading authority. He switched on the megaphone attached to the vehicle, and boomed down the microphone. "HALT! DEPINTERN!" The lion took fright at the truck sitting not ten metres from him, and tried to scarper. The turret began tracking him, and the fox grinned as a he pushed down on the button. A streak of flame shot from the weapon as the unstable particles ignited surrounding air molecules. There was a flash, and a spraying of dust and dirst, as a black plume of smoke jetted into the air. The weapon had struck the ground as the lion's bare paws were running, bowling the unfortunate animal over into an impromptu forward flip. The ragged looking animal was now shivering, crouched beside a small crater.

The lion's profile returned to the Overseer's HUD, from the main computer database at DEPINTERN. Oliver Jackson, petty thief, gambler, and fugitive from DEPSAFE. Adding resisting DEPINTERN to the list, the warrant was updated, and the lion's sentence went from public execution to summary execution. A good day's work for Rourke already. Not bothering to read out any charges, the fox squeezed the button again, the reticule of his camera HUD pointed squarely on the feline's chest. The lance went through the fur within moments, churning up the ground, and making its distinctive shrieking sound that could break glass and rattle the corrugated iron boards of the surrounding shacks. By the time the beam stopped, there was no further evidence that there had ever been a lion called Oliver Jackson. Unbeknownst to Rourke, he had unsettled more of the dust from the briefcase, which meant that he was getting closer to it.
"You can't just remain a root forever. Eventually you grow and change into other things, like stems and leaves and such. Are a tree's leaves an insult to its roots?" - Sade

"It is easy for a statesman, whether he be in the Cabinet or the Chamber, to blow a blast with the wind of popularity on the trumpet of war, warming himself the while at his own fireside; or to thunder orations from this tribune and then to leave it to the musketeer who is bleeding to death in the snow whether his system win fame and victory or no. There is nothing easier than that; but woe to the statesman who in these days does not look around him for a reason for war which will hold water when the war is over." - Otto von Bismarck

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