Federation-Apocalypse Session 118b – The Abyssal Depths

(Xellos) “And what sort of ID’s are you planning to use?”

   He would point out the annoying detail problem. It would be hard to come up with something without some idea of what the local ID’s looked like.

   It would be nice if they could simply drop into some local identities, but the mana-dampening effect would probably make that pretty difficult.

   They’d have to drop in, snag some local, and find out what the local ID”s and security measures were like first. Ergo, come down outside and lets look for some information

(Marty) “Ah! Just like the last sci-fi dictatorship we were in!”

(Kevin) “Yep! So in for a landing we go!

   Hm… for settling down they had a water treatment facility, a smelter, and a construction site building what appeared to be a large open pit.

(Marty) “Hmm, construction site? Maybe lots of noise to drown out cries for help?”

(Kevin) “Construction site it is!”

   The construction site appeared to be focused on that huge pit. It was about half a mile across, some eight hundred feet deep, and was being steadily dug deeper. There was a lot of work going into lining the pit with some sort of material, and there were lots of trucks and temporary buildings surrounding the perimeter – with a more permanent office building structure on the South side. Probably either a shelter or a major arcology expansion.

   There’d probably be a better chance of keeping hidden near the temporary buildings, so they put down there – by a temporary building on the North end that looked like it didn’t receive a lot of traffic in a normal day.

   They also found a person hiding in a nook behind the building and some crates taking a nap. Either they had really tough lungs or a lot of confidence in their life support gear. Still, it was probably pretty reliable around here.

   Of course, he might be dead, not napping.

   Kevin was considering sneaking up, but got pre-empted by Marty, who just dropped in next to the fellow – coming to a complete stop mere feet away from him. He was reclining against a crate and the wall in a sleeping position with his visor over his face.

   Marty scooped him up and stepped over into the nearest dark spot – making sure that he had both the mans arms so that he couldn’t reach any exterior communications controls and having his smartclothes ready to jam him if he had interior communications. If he had, it was probably on “receive only” for the moment; he presumably wouldn’t want to be caught snoozing.

   Not too surprisingly, he woke up panicking.

   Hmm… According to his radio ID and the nameplate on the suit, this was “Kimmel Henson” – and it was going to be a bother; Radio ID’s said that they were tracking these people in DETAIL unless it was just a construction precaution.

(Kevin) “Mr Kimmel! Do wake up please!”

(Marty) “Hello Mr. Henson. We just need some information.”

(Henson) “I’m sorry I won’t sleep on the job again! Please have mercy on me!”

(Marty) “Yeah, we’ll see about that.”

   That actually took Kevin aback for a bit – and Marty was trying to keep the guy at least a little nervous so he didn’t ask them too many questions. Henson seemed to be fearfully awaiting punishment – and Xellos stepped in to fill the gap.

(Xellos) “Those of you a bit squeamish may not want to watch this.”

   Kevin wasn’t that much a of a telepath, but he could receive surface thoughts… Whatever he was thinking at the moment might tell them a good deal of what they needed to know. He started probing.

   Henson’s current thoughts were that they were Landsknecht come to supervise the construction process – and that they’d caught him napping. He was fearing for his life and the lives of his family, as well as wishing that he had paid to see a doctor about his breathing problems instead of trying to self-medicate.

   Kevin sighed. Wonderful. He might keel over dead on them… What is wrong with his breathing? Lung damage from fumes and such?

   He probed a bit… Yes, a bit of lung scarring consistent with exposure to noxious stuff and the medication to suppress symptoms tended to make him drowsy, especially in the doses he needed to take.

   Meanwhile, Marty was probing as well… What was the man afraid that they would do to his family? Was it just that if he wasn’t contributing, they’d get no food or water or air filtration like on the Five Worlds?

   There were a lot of blurred images in his mind – a lot of them very disturbing. Especially the one about mindraping people and feeding their comatose bodies to the water treatment facility to rot and fester alive until processed.

   Marty had to vote for “Ewwww.” Even the Five Worlds were nicer than THAT.

   Kevin found that quite depressing – even before that last image – and quietly healed the mans lungs.

   Even Xellos, who fed on negative emotions and pain, seemed disturbed at what he was sensing. It actually seemed like he was… disgusted.

(Marty, over the link) “Not to your tastes, Xellos?”

   Kevin suspected that it wouldn’t be. After all, at the very least, it would be wasteful overkill – as well as not at all sporting. After all, Xellos preferred to harass individuals – such as waitresses who were trying to get him to order something besides water. Besides… the fact that he needed a certain amount of negative emotions didn’t mean that he had to enjoy inducing an excess.

(Xellos, over the private channel) “There is causing suffering as a necessary part of life, and then there is causing suffering for the sheer enjoyment of it. But even then, there are limits to the level of suffering that a monster like myself will inflict on a person. There is no enjoyment in the suffering of someone who has been broken utterly already. It’s all about the teasing and the struggle. This is depravity – and that is human, not monstrous.”

   Marty thought about that for a moment. Wow, this place was BAD if Xellos was willing to get all philosophical about it.

(Xellos, privately) “What do we wish to learn from him?”

(Marty, privately) “Can we pluck any information on the local industries and security from his brain?”

(Kevin, privately) “What kind of security he lives under mostly – and if there’s an underworld.”

   Hm… It looked like this is a construction project for building a massive underground facility. He knew nothing more than that as to it’s purpose. As for the security, there were lot’s of computer taps, curfews, work schedules, and heavy police state. Entire families would just disappear without a trace. Security in and out of the Arcology was via keycards like the one on his belt. Occassionally Landsrecht would be watching over the gates for reasons never explained. Usually when that happened, they would grab someone walking by and take them away.

   Kevin got a scan of that keycard… RFID, photo, biometrics, and a unique identifier number. Rumored to be tied to an RFID chip implanted in the skin during one of the routine medical exams to prevent cheating. The biggest security feature was apparently the unique identifier code that linked to a central database for comparison.

   Well, that would be a pain. On the other hand, they might well get away with some fakery for awhile; the central database would be impossibly overloaded if they checked ID’s on everyone against it at every checkpoint. It was probably downloaded to a local system. They might be able to get to that.

(Marty, privately) “Right then! Now what shall we do with this guy? I’m for sternly telling him we’ll let him off this time, but if any of us catch him fooling around again, he’ll get it.”

(Kevin, privately) “Fair enough. He’s not going to know much of any use anyway. Tell him not to rely on medications any more than his symptoms absolutely demand from now on.”

(Marty, privately) “Absolutely.”

   Marty so informed him, and told him to go to a doctor if he continued having problems, or he’d never hear the end of it.

(Henson) “You’re letting me go?”

(Marty) “Don’t make us change our minds.”

   Henson took off running back to the construction site at high speed.

(Marty, after Henson was gone) “Well, I feel like a jerk. But at least we got some useful stuff out of him.”

(Kevin) “Eh, he’d have gotten in trouble sooner or later, he has his lungs fixed up, and he and his family have a better shot now. I think he’s gotten a good break here.”

(Marty) “Yeah. Might as well have run into us.”

(Kevin) “Right; if we want to get in, we’ll need to either hack the local database and fake all the ID’s or bypass them somehow. Off to the entrances or to the offices where there will be a computer link?”

(Marty) “Sure, why not? Worst that’ll happen is we get caught or killed.”

(Kevin) “I think off to the entrances then. It won’t be much worse getting in there than getting in the offices anyway, and more maneuvering room. An Arcology is a big place.”

   Now which ones to use? A large cargo and shipping entrance or one of the smaller personnel entrances? They couldn’t possibly guard all the small ones, so one of those.

   They picked one that appeared to be rarely used and was labelled N147. There was an airlock vaguely reminiscent of a revolving door and a card scanner next to it.

   Gerard ran a smartfiber in and started fishing… It looked like there was a simple electronic lock on the revolving door tied to verification of a valid ID card. There might be something piggybacking on the system and monitoring what cards were used where, but that sort of thing was hard to tell without tearing the system and the wall apart.

   Still, all they’d need to do would be to simply skip the card and outgoing signal and feed back an “open” signal – but to check for a door-sensor or counter first. Or another alarm. Unlikely, but possible.

   Hm… an alarm on the door to indicate forceful entry and a counter system too. So; three threads, and they’d have to spoof an ID of some sort. Still, the RFID and card could be handled by their smartclothes easily enough.

   Ergo, just block the counter signal, feed the open signal to the lock, and in they could go…

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