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That naturalist cafes on space stations go to great lengths to create the illusion that one is not in space? (The Burning Life, p. 62)

Author Topic: Secrets of the Tuulinen Tower. A Gutter Press Adventure  (Read 63 times)

Muck Raker

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Winged Feet dance studio, Caille city, early YC 119.

"Hello, I'd like an intensive course in exotic dance, from your best instructors."
"That would be very expensive, Madame... ?"
"I'm a capsuleer. Money is no object."
"Ah."

Unregistered private light aircraft, Caldari Prime, mid YC 119.

"So, the plan is, you go undercover as an exotic dancer, and try to get inside the tower ?"
"Yeah. Don't worry, I can pull this off just fine."
"As the actress said to the bishop."
"Excuse me ?"
"Figure of speech. You sure this will work ?"
"Definitely."
"And your recording equipment is secure ?"
"Yep. Right here. These chest implants are shielded too."
"If you say so. Well, good luck, Aurelie."
"Thanks."

Astral Apartment Complex, Arcurio City

Aurelie looked around the low-rent apartment that the newspaper had rented for her for the assignment. It was a typical Caldari-built apartment, minimalist in style, dark coloured hard polymer furniture contrasting with the monotone grey plaster walls. A hard-wearing polymer carpet crinkled under Aurelie's feet as she walked over to the window and looked out at the neighbourhood. The city of Arcurio was spread out in front of her, the skyline dominated by the enormous monolith of the Visera Yanala Arcology.
"There it is", she thought to herself. "What horrors does it conceal."

Specialist Personnel Talent Agency, Arcurio City downtown

"So, you're an exotic dancer, hmm ? Well, I'll be honest, Miss Serene. There's not that much call for your line of work, especially for someone of your... complexion."
"I see, well, I kind of knew that already. Surely there's something though?"
"Well, you see the big tower ?"
"The arcology?"
"Right. Well. The corp bigwigs there, they have a party every so often, for their investors. They hire just about everyone there is in this city for them. So, I can get you that gig. We take a cut of course, but any earnings after 20k, those are yours. Keeps us out of ah, certain regulatory regimes."
"Oh, that sounds perfect. When would the next one be ?"
"End of the month. Two weeks."
"Suits me. Pleasure working with you."
"Pleasure's all mine, Miss."

Visera Yanala Arcology, service entrance 36D

"Can I help you ?", asked a Civire man, in a tone that suggested he had no intention of helping whatsoever.
"I'm here for the party ? I have a contract.", replied Aurelie somewhat nervously.
"I see. You must be new.", remarked the man, inspecting the contract chip that Aurelie was holding.
"That's right. First time. Kind of nervous.", said Aurelie.
"Well, your contract is in order. SPTA eh. You'll be in the outer lounge, with the second tier guests. Show your contract chip to the floor manager, she'll give you further details."
"Thank you"
"Enjoy your evening, miss."

Starscape Lounge, upper floors, Visera Yanala Arcology

"Hi, umm, I'm here to dance ? The doorman said to show you my contract ?"
"Ah yes, let me see, hmm, yes, this is in order, the dressing room is this way, there's several of you that will be performing. Get changed, and get out there. Remember, you're here to entertain the guests. Don't let them take advantage though. That's a breach of contract, and will be punished severely."
Aurelie followed the floor manager to the dressing room, several other dancers were already present, in various states of readiness. She stowed her gear in a locker, and found an empty seat in front of the makeup mirror, to get herself ready.

VY Arcology, Penthouse B

"That girl there, who is she ?", asked a suave male voice, a hand pointing to a monitor showing the Starscape lounge interior. Numerous sharply dressed Caldari businesspeople were gathered in small groups, drinking strong liquor, and ogling the dancers on the platforms.
"Hmm ? Oh, let's see. A contract employee, hired via the SPT agency. New employee it seems."
"Interesting. There's something about her. I want her for the private lounge. See to it."
"As you wish, Mr. S."
As his underling left, the grey-haired businessman leaned back in his leather chair, stroking his pet slaver hound.
"I know her from somewhere, Fluffy. But where ?"
Fluffy the slaver hound offered no opinion. Nearly nude Gallente women all looked the same to him.

Starscape Lounge

Aurelie stripped her outfit off, towelling the sweat from her body, before picking out a fresh outfit and putting it on. She was touching up her makeup when she was interrupted.
"Miss Serene, was it ? Seems like you made an impression. Mr. S. wants you for the private lounge."
"Mr. S?"
"One of the ah, senior investors in the project. About as high up as it goes, other than Mr. T himself, of course."
"I, umm, alright. Do I need to do anything special ?"
"Ah, the private lounge will be nude dancing. Are you okay with this ?"
"I guess so."
"Alright, if you'll authorise this new contract, I'll take you up to the private lounge."
Aurelie looked over the contract carefully before authorising it, and getting her gear from her locker, avoiding the sideways looks from some of the other dancers.
"Should I undress now or later?" she asked.
"Later is fine."

Starscape private lounge

Aurelie looked out the window at the night sky. She could tell that the private lounge must be on the top floor of the arcology, all the other building lights were well below the horizon.
She ran her hands over her chest lightly. Her recording equipment was in order, according to the status lights on her retinal implants.
She strode out of the dressing room, and onto the stage and began dancing. A small group of businesspeople looked on, before returning to their discussion.

"What are the projections for next quarter ?" asked the square Civire man in a suit that depite being well-tailored, looked a size too small.
"Construction continues on schedule, but, the real estate market projections aren't as favourable. The situation has changed somewhat in recent months. Politics and all that.", said a sharp-looking Achuran woman.
"Relax, Pieter.", said a suave grey-haired Gallente businessman. "This situation with Mordus, and CONCORD will be resolved soon enough."
"Perhaps, James. But what of this uncertainty about the Drifters?"
"I'm sure the delectable Ms Priano has that taken care of, isn't that right my dear ?"
The Achuran woman blushed.
"In any case, the time for business is in the morning. Evening is the time for pleasure", said the grey-haired businessman, leaning back in his chair and watching the nude dancer on the stage.
The square Caldari man drank a glass of liquor, deep in thought, while the Achuran woman pressed something on her datapad.

Aurelie twirled on stage gracefully, her retinal implant informing her of the identities of three of the senior investors. Capsuleers, from several prominent corporations. Aurelie tried not to look concerned, in case the three recognised her despite her nanocosmetic disguise. She had evidence that three significant corporations were in league, but to what end ? She had to find out, but the music was winding down, signalling that the next dancer was to take to the stage.

Back in the dressing room, Aurelie checked her makeup again, when someone tapped her on the shoulder. She looked round, to be confronted by an olive-skinned nude Gallente woman glaring at her.
"You listen here, bitch. I don't know who you slept with to get here, but it ends tonight. You come round here again, and I'll end you."
"I don't know what you mean", said Aurelie.
"This is Satelles Girls turf. We're the best in the universe, so step off.", said the woman, before striking Aurelie's chest with her open palm with lightning speed.
"Oww, what did you do that for ?", cried Aurelie.
"Problem, ladies ?" asked a third voice, belonging to a Starscape lounge staff member.
"No problem", said the olive-skinned woman, glaring at Aurelie.
"It's fine", said Aurelie nervously.
"Good. Now, miss Serene ? looks like you've hit the jackpot. Mr S. wants to see you personally. Come with me."
"Alright", said Aurelie, shuddering as she felt the daggers that the other woman was looking at her.

VY Arcology Penthouse B

"Ahh, there she is Fluffy, the star of the show tonight", said the grey-haired Gallente man. Fluffy looked up, then went back to his canine meditation, thinking whatever slaver hounds think when they stare at furniture.
"Hello, I'm Aurelie", said Aurelie nervously.
"Indeed you are, please, have a seat. Would you like a drink ?"
"Thank you..."
"Please, call me James."
Aurelie blushed, as she sat down.
James returned with a bottle of Gallente fruit liquor and two glasses, pouring a small amount in each glass, before giving one to Aurelie. "Nervous ?" he asked.
"A little." said Aurelie.
"First time ?"
"No, I've been nervous lots of times", Aurelie said, smiling.
"Amusing my dear. Hmm, is that a bruise on your ah, bosom ?"
Aurelie looked down, a red handprint was slightly visible. "Ah, one of the other girls was concerned I was infringing on her business."
"I see. Well, the corporate world is full of intrigue, after all, my dear."
"I suppose it is. So, umm, is business going well ?", she asked, hoping to gain the context needed for the story.
"Quite well, yes. Slow perhaps, but then, Garoun was not built in a day."
"That's true."
"Of course, being an Empyrean as I am, it is not overly concerning that things may take longer than initially forecast, something that you yourself should know."
"I umm..."
"Come now Aurelie, we both know there's only one lady in the Federation who wears green lipstick by choice."
Aurelie felt her blood run cold.
"So, what brings you here ? Probing Homeland Property Management again ? You could just ask me for an interview. Why the cloak and dagger stuff ? Not that you're wearing a cloak. Or carrying a dagger."
Aurelie blinked. "Umm, there were stories about the arcology."
"Really ? And what do these stories say ?"
"Oh, that it's a police state, that kind of thing."
"I see. Hmm, I assume you're recording all this of course, on your chest implants.", said James, reaching out with one hand to prod Aurelie. "They're very lifelike, your cameras and microphones. Feels almost real."
Aurelie coughed. "My ah, retinal and aural implants are the picture and sound pickups."
James raised an eyebrow. "Ah", before looking away and trying to change the subject, "So, the Arcology is being portrayed as a police state ? It will be fun finding out who is spreading those rumours."
"So they're rumours ?" asked Aurelie
"Indeed", replied James, picking up a remote control for a display panel. "This is what a police state looks like."

On screen, four armoured Civire policemen were using a fifth as a battering ram, knocking down the doors of an apartment complex. Cowering civilians were being rounded up and pushed onto buses by other officers.
"What's going on there ?" asked Aurelie.
"That my dear, is routine for far too many people in the cluster these days, since the outbreak of the Empyrean wars. The Arcology project, and similar projects by some of my associates, are attempting to provide a solution."
"A solution ?"
"Yes. The governments of the nations have not yet fully grasped the reality of how far society will change as immortality technology proliferates. We are attempting to buy time, to prevent the kind of societal collapse that could end humanity for good."
"And you're collaborating with the Tuulinen Foundation on this ?"
"Yes, we are. Now, Mentas Blaque might say that we are betraying the Federation, but remember, he is a career politician. It's in his interest to say such things, even if he believes them to be untrue."
"Why are you telling me all this ? Aren't you afraid we'll publish ?"
"Not at all my dear. Who would believe that such patriots as myself and dear Pieter are in league with each other ? Even your regular readership would find that hard to believe."
"I guess you're right." Aurelie said, looking down.
"There is one more question I'd like to ask, before you go.", said James.
"What is it ?"
"Where did you learn to dance ? As a connoisseur of such arts, I have to say your routines were genuinely impressive."
Aurelie smiled.

Unregistered private light aircraft, Caldari Prime

"So, there wasn't anything particularly noteworthy going on ? I find that surprising."
"Yeah. Usual corporate intrigue and behind-closed-doors shenanigans. Nothing concrete enough for our purposes."
"Shame. Oh well, something will turn up, I'm sure. There was one lead from Poitot."
"Oh, what was that ?"
"Some Intaki guy. Took all the drugs Serpentis makes, claims he can levitate."
"All of them ?"
"Yep. Amazed he's still alive."
"Hmm. Maybe we should check that out."
Logged