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Futuristic Nv Death Cvlt


VP of the Questionable Ethics Committee
Everything was happening all at once. There was a keen ringing in the air, the kind of piercing mosquito whine only dying electronics made. Heat, flickering light. Cracks. Sizzling pops. And a smothering hiss, sibilant and ominous, overlaid everything. A gas leak?

It took more effort for Ildikó to open her eyes than anything she had ever done before. It felt like lead weights had been taped to her eyelids. With sight came revelation. No gas leak. The room was open to the sky, and a sheet of rain was pouring in through the freshly manufactured rooflight. Melted insulation and wiring dripped from the edges of the neatly seared hole. The portable netdeck had blown a battery. Overloaded by whatever the fuck these psychos had been trying to do. The plume of burning lithium gas had made for a fine, if short lived, plasma torch. The corrugated tin never stood a chance. Ildikó rolled off the table, landing on all fours in an inch of standing water. She must have been out for a little while. Looking around, she took a quick inventory. Her ‘ware was all offline, so she was forced to rely on her inadequate natural senses to gauge what was going on. Thank god she had invested in eyes that had ambient heat charging and failsafe chips. The backup vision was grainy black-and-white, like one of the blocky glass TVs in the museum sims. Still, better than being blind.

Rising, Ildikó steadied herself on the table. Her neck and knees ached. She was tall - far too tall for the rickety metal cot she had been tossed on. Head and legs dangling made for a dramatic tableau, but not a comfortable one. There were three others in the room. What was left of the netdeck was burning merrily, a crackling campfire that threw long, dancing shadows on the walls. The warm light picked out streams of acrid smoke, rising from the blackened eye holes of the dead. Judging by the state of their mods, the pricks were most certainly cooked. Ildikó made a slow, wobbly lap of the tiny room, carefully spitting on each of the corpses. Fuckers. Bastard rats. Stupid goddamn neanderthal wirechewers digging their filthy fingers into sockets just like mommy had explicitly told them not to. They had “hired” her in her capacity as a custom chip and ice specialist. Wanted her to mod a soft they had bought, fix it up so that it could be slotted in an old, out of date port format. Needed her to slot and edit the plug data, first, too. Apparently, it was SO old, the base read type wasn’t even compatible. Which was pretty crazy, usually you had something like fifty years from date of manufacture before the soft started to become too wonked to even boot up. Anyway, it paid real good, and Ildikó had always been a fan of the decrepit old tech from before the First Crash. Not a lot of it around anymore. People didn’t appreciate the physical as much these days. Not when you could experience anything and everything in perfect detail via sim. Ildikó didn’t care what anyone said, though. She could always tell the difference.

Anyway, much the proverbial cat, the techie had paid for her curiosity. The creeps who had hired her were weird, sure, but who the fuck wasn’t in this godforsaken city? Turned out they weren’t just your regular broke tweakers. Their bug-eyes and twitchy hands were a symptom of religious affliction. Ildikó had fixed up the soft just how they wanted. Tested it, everything. Except when the freaks came by to pick it up, they brought a taser with them. Next thing she knew, she woke up in this dump, strapped to a table. The Head Moron was chanting some voodoo bullshit, that godforsaken soft sticking out of his skull, and blood just…everywhere. On the walls, on their hands. Ildikó would have loved to delude herself into thinking it was paint, but the copper tang was inescapable in the tiny space. She had only a scant minute to get her bearings before they jacked her in and everything went dark.

It must have been some kind of virus, or some fucked up darksim. There were markets for all kinds of shit, if you wanted it. Snuff, torture, gore. Why not this freaky cultist shit, too? In the sim, there were a bunch of those religious fanatics. Chanting, singing, screaming. One of them, the same one that had been babbling in meatspace not a moment ago, was giving some kind of sermon. Ildikó tuned it out for the most part, struggling to get her bearings and see if there was some kind of emergency stop on this shitty ride. A lotta sims came with a little lever or button in some corner to shut it off, in case something went wrong and you couldn’t physically remove the sim unit. No shot. It was wishful thinking, in a black market sim. The head priest, as Ildikó decided to call him in her head, was ascending a set of hololight steps. The entire set was kind of bare and shoddy, to be honest. It looked like raw AI space, a flat, endless void interrupted by fragments of constructs and snippets of withering ice. The paltry little group was arranged around a sort of altar, crudely sketched out in glowing reds and purples. The suggestion of a floor, the implication of a staircase. She hadn’t really been listening up till now, but seeing as she seemed to be trapped in this sim until it ended, Ildikó decided to get comfy and watch. Not much else to do.

It seemed like the ritual was coming to a crescendo. The wailing lunatics were at their wailiest, and the rapturous priest was at his most raptureful. He sunk to his knees, throwing back a hood that revealed a head bristling with softs, mods, and wires. Crude, chop-shop welds ran down his neck and back, fixing a patchwork of tech into place. It looked almost comedic in its monstrosity. Like what a child would draw if you asked them to show you Frankenstein. His fingers clicked apart at the tips, revealing gleaming razors, and slashed open what little meat there was left on his arm. The blood looked dull amidst the neon lights, which made Ildikó strangely uneasy. This was…this was too good to be a sim. Something was wrong.

Drawing something on the floor that the techie couldn’t see, the priest whirled, pointing down at her from above. She wasn’t a squeamish sort, but his face made her feel ill. It bulged with ‘ware, skin looking ready to burst like rotting fruit from the volume of mods crammed underneath it. Ildikó resisted almost out of obligation, but there was no way she could fight off the crowd of nutters alone. They forced her up the steps, and she finally got a good look at the art project the head priest had been working on. A sort of summoning circle, like from those corny Haxxorcism 3000 movies. Ildikó couldn’t suppress a laugh as she was shoved forward.

“Come on, guys, even you have to know this is stu-!”

As she stepped inside the circle, her foot plunged clean through the holofloor. It was the exact feeling of expecting one more step where there wasn’t one. Before she knew it, Ildikó had tipped forward and fallen in. It felt like plunging into a freezing lake. Dark, still, and vast. The overwhelming feeling that there was something in the darkness underneath her filled the woman with a raw, animal terror. Ildikó suddenly remembered vacationing at the beach once, as a child, accidentally swimming out too far for her thrashing feet to touch the sandy ocean floor. There was something…god, what...?

Sinking to her knees in the sloshing water, Ildikó grabbed her temples as a spike of pain hammered through her skull. As the headache subsided, she rose again. Right. This wasn’t the time to be bumbling around, speculating. There were three bodies in here, but the weird little ritual had consisted of at least a dozen people. Whether it was a sim or not, there were obviously more of these psychos out there somewhere. Best not to stick around. Ildikó gathered what salvageable equipment there was, including the suspicious soft she had been asked to edit. The contacts looked melted, but it was her best clue. Staggering outside, she tried to get her bearings. The neighborhood wasn’t one she recognized at first glance, but judging by the brilliant pillar of light in the distance that marked Rubikon Plaza, she was near West Hallidale. Even from miles away, she could faintly make out the spectral ads that dyed the sky a garish rainbow.

It took a stressful twenty minutes before Ildikó managed to convince someone to order a cab for her, agreeing to take the credit chip she had on her. She didn’t exactly look her best at the moment, and there was no way to know her ‘ware was offline at a glance. Anyone who didn’t wanna get a ride on their own had to be up to no good. Despite her frazzled nerves, the exhausted techie actually managed to fall asleep almost immediately. The soothing hum of tires on asphalt worked on her just as well as on fussy toddlers.

On arriving home, the first order of business was a shower. Then some food. Going through the motions felt…not good, exactly. But comforting. Routine meant safety. Hair, brushed. Too many gleaming white strands left behind on the comb to be healthy. Ramen, hot. As soon as the salty-sweet smell hit her nose, Ildikó’s stomach loosed a deeply unbecoming snarl. With the adrenaline gone, it was much harder to ignore the gnawing in her gut. And who didn’t like BamBam’s Sweet’n’Sweet’n’Spicy Semichicken Noodles? Eventually, though, there were no more mindless tasks to be distracted by. Ildikó sat and stared at the soft for hours, like she was examining a poisonous viper. She didn’t even touch it. The worn, dirty hunk of plastic and metal was important, but somehow, the techie was convinced it was merely a big, red button. The dynamite it had set off was…somewhere else.

With a sudden burst of energy, Ildikó began to dig through every jacket pocket she had. Somewhere…aha! A business card. She had held on to it because it was so endearingly archaic. The little slice of cardboard was worn at the corners, but still perfectly legible. A friend had given it to her when she had been on the hunt for a missing bit of equipment. She ended up tracking it down herself, so she had never ended up reaching out. Flipping it over, Ildikó let out a small noise of discontent. No name, just an address. At the moment, mystique was the last thing she was looking for. Still, the detective came highly recommended by a trusted source. It was worth a shot.

Ildikó picked her outfit with care, balancing a sort of haute restraint and worn street chic that ideally screamed “I’m too rich to ignore and too poor to be worth mugging.” Leather jacket the color of dried blood, a hundred open eyes picked out in iridescent chrome on the back. Plain black tank top, black leather pants with spiked studs running from hip to ankle. The heavy steel-shod boots added another couple of inches to Ildikó’s already prodigious height, and their scuffed toes heavily implied liberal use. And based on her slim build, that use wasn’t on a construction site. She paused in front of the mirror, frowning, and added a heavy spiked chain choker and a pair of dangling silver earrings. The simple metal bars hung down almost to her shoulders, and swung pleasingly to and fro whenever Ildikó turned her head. No rings today. Her fingers were so sore and swollen that she doubted she could even get them on.

The detective's office wasn’t too far of a walk, so the techie grabbed an umbrella and trotted down the street. The rain had only gotten heavier since she had woken up, and it drummed loudly on the clear plastic. The city overhead blurred into a smear of grey, pierced by glowing billboards and the occasional functional streetlight. When Ildikó arrived, she double-checked the card. The place didn’t look very official. In fact, it looked suspiciously residential. Gripping the cursed soft in her pocket, she stepped forward and knocked hard on the dented metal door.


Baba Yaga
Roleplay Availability
Roleplay Type(s)
My Interest Check
"Go home, O'Leary."

Aife didn't react. Reacting required thoughts, and those, in turn, consumed precious brainpower. Given that she was already running on a particularly dangerous combo of caffeine and some less-than-illegal substances, she didn't really think it wise to waste whatever energy she had on--


The sound almost made her yelp, and Aife finally looked up to see a very angry-looking Mie. Not that Mie had ever looked anything but angry, though something in this particular expression of hers made her think of the old goddess of vengeance that she had read about... geez, how many years ago? Five? Ten?

Time flowed too fucking fast.

"Nice of you to join us mere mortals, Detective O'Leary," she all but growled, "And now get out."


"But? Do I have to remind you of the protocol?" Ah, the damned protocol. It might as well have been called The Bible for how often her co-workers cited it, though, of course, such a comparison was 'edgy,' 'inappropriate,' and 'insulting some delicate sensibilities.'

It was also correct, which was why Aife had never stopped using it in her mind.

But, no! Mie didn't, in fact, have to remind her. She was breaking the rules both knowingly and enthusiastically, and the other woman was as aware of it as Aife herself. It had been a tacit agreement between the two of them since time immemorial: 'You'll let me do overtime, and I will bribe you with sweets to turn a blind eye.' Which had worked out well enough!

Until it fucking didn't.

Apparently, not everything in this world could be bought with sweets -- not even extra time in the city morgue.

Still, it wasn't like Aife intended to give up this easily. "Come on, Mie," she whined, "Just a little bit longer. I really need to..."

"Go home. Listen, Aife, you're obsessed. This cannot be healthy? I mean, I mostly work with corpses," a shrug, as if that was such a normal thing to say, "But I'd like to think I still know a thing or two about living bodies as well. And you know what those need? Regular sleep!"

'Not sleeping at all technically is regular' was the answer that came to Aife's mind, though she also sensed that it wouldn't really help her case. And the other thought that emerged? Well, that one also wouldn't do her any favors. Because it was: You also wouldn't want to sleep if I saw the shit I have seen. Not in real life, either. No, Aife had... gotten used to that. Who even cared about gunshots and entrails nowadays? Rookie stuff!

It was the dreams that really bothered her. The wires, running through everything like a spider's web; the electricity, both seen and heard; the sense of being watched.

Of course, telling Mie was out of question. She'd force her to take a vacation, and Aife couldn't take a fucking vacation when there was an insane murderer wreaking havoc on her city.

There were other reasons as well, such as her not being able to afford more than instant ramen for dinner for... what, how many days now? Three in a row? Yeeeah, her wallet wasn't in a prime vacation-taking condition at the moment or ever.

Still, the murderer. That was the main thing! No crazy asshole was allowed to drill through people's skulls on her fucking watch, and Aife would show them why, exactly, that was the case... once she got her hands on them. Some long-term thinking was necessary for that, though -- and she could, at least, recognize when Mie won. Arguing further would only reveal some of those uncomfortable truths, and that was... more trouble than it was worth, really.

"Fine," she sighed, "I don't think I can learn more from this one, anyway."

'This one,' of course, referred to the corpse on the table. A woman, somewhere between thirty and thirty-five; someone's daughter, perhaps someone's wife, but, most importantly, a person. Dead, just like everyone else. Bearing the same head wound, too. Why? Why always the head? Aife had studied all the symbolism-related books in existence, and... well, it wasn't about a lack of answers. More than that, it was about the sea of interpretations. Which one to choose? Which way to go?

Already, her own head was starting to hurt.

Maybe going home wouldn't be such a bad thing?

If she went home, which was a big fucking if.

The traffic was unusually light that day, no doubt thanks to the rain, and Aife took that for a sign. As she breezed through the streets on her trusty bike, she decided to... well, stop by at her office, and spend more time going through all those endless files because, dammit, she totally must have missed something! No fucking way there weren't any clues!

Sleep could wait. It could wait until the end of the world, as far as Aife was concerned.

How did the saying go? 'You can rest in your grave?' A great fucking motto! She would have that tattooed on her forehead, once she had enough money to do both that and pay her rent at the same time. (Spoiler alert: not happening.)

You know what couldn't wait, though? The woman who was, very obviously, trying to get the local detective's attention. Her attention. A client? In these trying times? Maybe, and maybe not. For all Aife knew, she could have been a debt collector, or a hired assassin, or, well, someone else who she wasn't all too interested in meeting. Okay, fine, probably not an assassin! This was her life, not some weird-ass thriller. Why not take advantage of this set-up, though?

So, Aife just narrowed her eyes, "Uh, hello? Looking for Detective O'Leary? She's a... weird one, not gonna lie. A total basket case. What do you want from her? Maybe I can help."

Heh. Real smooth!


VP of the Questionable Ethics Committee
Ildikó flipped the battered business card up between them, the worn address on the back still retaining that subtle ballpoint gleam.

"I need a job done and I need someone with zero dignity to do it."

She had been rehearsing her story on the way over, trying to boil the events down into the most concise and comprehensible possible form. It was important to sound not crazy, but it was equally important not to skip any pertinent details. Cultists, weird ritual, freaky soft, fried 'ware...It all sounded a lot like some dumb slasher sim. The cyber assassins were here to sacrifice her to the darknet god or whatever, but it turned out to be the CEO of Watchnet Securities trying to drum up business or whatever scooby-doo ass shit played well with todays crowd.

Without waiting for an invitation, Ildikó shoved her way inside and slammed the door behind her. She didn't wanna be out on the street any longer than necessary. Her nose wrinkled inadvertently. It smelled like hangover and stale cigarettes and formaldehyde in here. The techie couldn't tell which of the scents clung to the woman who had opened the door, and which were baked right into the ancient carpet underfoot. Peering around, it became rapidly clear that there was no one else here.

So this, then, was the detective herself. Not...not promising. But not unpromising, Ildikó reassured herself. It probably took a, what had she said? A total basket case to be a good freelance PI anyway. Anyone who was trying to make any kind of living either did private security for a corp or leased out services to city police. Maybe she was one of those heart-of-gold types that did the dirty work no one wanted to do. Stood up for the downtrodden, provided closure to the poor and unheard. God, please be that and not ineptitude.

"First things first, my 'ware is fried so I can't zip you the cash. If you take the case, though, we'll walk to the nearest bank station and I'll print you a chip then and there. Half up front, half when the job is done."

Ildikó cursed her luck. It would have been nice to have her bugseekers online, so she could make sure this place wasn't wired. Her paranoia was mounting, and it felt like these cultist freaks could have eyes anywhere. Whatever else they might be, they did have access to some hefty hardware. That...temple thing? Not easy to run something that, well, real. That required serious fucking processing power whether it was a sim or not. Who knows what else they had access to? Did the others even know she had gotten away? Taking a deep breath, Ildikó proceeded with her rehearsed version of events. Just enough truth to seem tantalizingly mysterious, just enough censorship to not sound like a tweaker. Plus, it felt like a good idea to keep certain details...quiet, for now. The thought of wires was still itching in her skull.

"The short of it is someone tried to zone me, like for real for real. Weird shit. Hired me to do a custom chip job for them. Hardware, software, the whole nine yards. I'm a modder, so the job itself was right in my wheelhouse. Except when they came to get it, they brought me along too. I don't know what for, but they plugged the chip and I guess something went wrong with their rig. Whole thing fucking caught fire, cooked their brains in their skulls. I think the only reason I got out is I got heatsinks and dampeners like you wouldn't believe built right in. If I hadn't, I'd have probably barbecued too. Anyway, I know they have friends, and I still have their stupid chip. So I want you to find them before they find me. Simple, right? If you want the job, come by my shop later and I'll tell you more."

The plastic umbrella dripped softly on the floor as she waited for an answer, tp, tp, tp, spreading a dark stain around Ildikó's feet.

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