Private Role-Play The Price of Art

Discussion in 'Role-Playing' started by Nevermore, Mar 9, 2017.

  1. Nevermore

    Nevermore Stately

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    "Authorities still do not have any leads, says the local police chief," the voice of a newswoman said in that calm tone only those trained to be on TV or radio seemed to be able to muster. "This is the third victim to be discovered in as many months without significant evidence, despite the very public displays left by the individual responsible for these ghastly crimes."

    "Ugh."

    "It is unclear who might be behind these so called 'Art Exhibits' as the one responsible is quick to call them, posting their locations days ahead of time. The victims, often brutally dismembered and soaked in a chemical that turns tissue and bone to a hardened plastic are pieced back together and staged in nightmarish configurations in public locations."

    "Vacilla..."

    "When questioned further, the police chief stated that the situation is under control and his detectives are currently investigating several suspects, but when pressed for more details he brushed us off. It is unclear what the police might know, but since no bounty has yet been issued perhaps-"

    "Vacilla!" The previously quiet, calm voice was stiff with anger and at a near shout this time, despite a certain sensitive mission that currently required as much quiet as possible.

    "Geeze, what?"
    Came the smooth response of a synthesized female voice. "You're always so tense when you're working, Daven."

    The bounty hunter sighed heavily and settled back down against the cold concrete beneath him. "Vacilla, you're a computer, right?"

    "Last I checked, yeah. I told you to get a real woman before you fell in love with me, was I too late? I know my model comes with a smoking hot avatar, but you can't touch me. Not that I'd let you if I had a body anyways. I bet your hands are rough as hell."

    Daven groaned and clenched a fist fiercely. Why was his AI programmed with so much sass? "Don't be a fool, as if anyone could fall for someone with a personality as rotten as yours. If I knew anything about computers, I'd reprogram you to call me Sir. That's not why I'm asking. Can't you just absorb that information? Why are you listening to the news?"

    "Yes, Sir," came a robotic response. "But, I know how much the news annoys you, so I can't resist," her voice was back to normal, smooth as silk.

    He wanted to punch the motorcycle sitting next to him but he knew taking his anger out on the bike would do nothing the AI living inside of it. "You've been annoyingly obsessed with that... What are they calling him now? Well, you've been keeping track of him a lot lately. Why?"

    "The Artist," Vacilla sounded like she was chewing on circuits when she said the name. The media never did have any taste. "I just think it's terrible and was hoping they might catch him soon. Plus, I figured maybe your morals would make you eventually go catch the guy."

    "You heard the lady," he said flatly, adjusting the scope of his gun before putting his eye to it and surveying the adjacent building. "No bounty. Now turn that off, we have work to do."

    Vacilla sighed and switched the news feed off. Her boss was always so cold. "You're a good guy, Morals," the sarcasm was dripping from her response, but he promptly ignored her. "Is this better?"

    (( M ~ ))
     
  2. Paladin_girl

    Paladin_girl Between the Chapters of a Dream Staff Member

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    The air was cold in the city.


    Vapours rolled and roiled across the hard ground, lurking in the shadows, rising like ghosts as headlights glared into the depths of the street. The light belonged to a car, with a bulletproof shell that gleamed like the spiralling shell of a sea creature. It hovered hazardously, a mechanical wail of pistons and electricity dancing in unison, puffing out organic wafts of cellutrol, which powered the vehicle.


    Before the dark body of the car, the ruins of a human being stood – or rather, was being stood up – in a grotesque posture that was masked by a thin, white sheet. Unlike most of the dead that the police force had seen, not a single drop of blood stained the material. No dew darkened its surface. Like a statue for an exhibit.


    The difference however, was that even the dead had a certain something about them that prompted a response far darker, even deeper, than the expressionless gaze of Michaelangelo’s David.


    William LaCroix XIV clambered out of the car, never taking his eyes off the covered remains. He felt exposed in the Market Section of the city. No matter how much red tape could be pulled, there’d be something – or rather, someone – who would sneak in.


    And really. Who the hell could they hide this horror from?


    ‘A terrible tragedy, detective.’ LaCroix heard the voice of forensic officer Dwyer – a man just a little shorter than he was. Despite being relatively young in age, the stress lines on his face and grey patches sneaking across his hairline were palpable.


    LaCroix nodded, putting a cigarette to his mouth. He hummed in agreement.


    ‘News is already blaring with this. We tried to cover it as quickly as we could, but...’


    LaCroix lifted his gaze to meet Dr. Dwyer’s. His eyes glowed green softly, misty in the dense dampness, the lenses turning noiselessly as they adjusted. ‘Details, doc. Let’s focus.’


    The doctor cleared his throat, remembering his professionalism and turned to the hidden form, as if it was a focus object. ‘The body has been cold for approximately thirty hours. No blood splatters or evidence of how it was brought here like tyre marks or footsteps. What’s interesting is that there’s evidence of drug tampering.’


    ‘Recreationally?’


    Dwyer shrugged, ‘Doubtful. It’s been in her system for at least forty-eight hours,’ He frowned, ‘Though I thought that you’d be more likely to… y’know…’


    LaCroix shook his head abruptly, ‘I don’t cut them open and poke about. I can only detect exterior damage.’


    ‘So I’ve still got a job, huh?’ the edge was barely there in Dwyer’s voice, but it wasn’t missed by the detective.


    LaCroix was, after all, a cyborg. The decision – despite not being his – had not made him very popular.


    ‘You still have a job,’ LaCroix confirmed, ‘now please continue.’


    ‘Victim appears to be a twenty-year-old, Caucasian female. Nobody reported her missing and as far as we can see, there are no personal possessions on her. Her body has been dismembered and put back together with cellular-level fusion. With considerable skill, I might add. The murderer – or their accomplices – took great care in piecing it back together. There’s not a single area that hasn’t been prepared and attached with incredible accuracy.’


    ‘You sound almost like you admire them,’ LaCroix said.


    The doctor shrugged helplessly. ‘The scientist in me can’t help but do so. Don’t get me wrong though, Mr. LaCroix. I am no fan of The Artist, as they’re calling them. Merely-’


    ‘Merely that we’re looking for someone – or even a group, God forbid – that has exceptional – even artisan-like abilities.’ LaCroix rubbed his left hand on his opposing shoulder – felt the gap between limb and prosthetic. ‘This is the third time, I hear.’


    ‘Bit late to the party, huh? Been out of commission, detective?’


    LaCroix smirked faintly, but it was short-lived. ‘Yeah. Had to rest after the conversion. Just got back on the job today – ahead of schedule. Still catching up on the good stuff.’


    ‘Chief’s getting desperate.’


    LaCroix said nothing, instead paying attention to the cigarette in his mouth. A flame materialised before it. The pocket lighter was old and metallic, which clinked softly, flaring for a moment before closing shut. At a glance, the insignia and words were hard to make out. Smoke whispered past the cyborg’s mouth moments after.


    ‘First you, then the bounty on The Artist.’ Dwyer needed to learn how to be subtle with his side-glances.


    That wasn’t important now, though. The detective choked back a laugh. Chief fucking did what?


    That means competition.


    ‘Right, then.’ He said softly instead, feigning indifference. ‘Then we’ve got our work cut out for us. How soon can you get details on the body? I need the name of the drug. I’ll need to look into missing persons reports. Are there any similarities between the three victims?’


    Dwyer sniffed, tearing his gaze from the victim to face the cyborg. ‘Honestly, no. The first was a forty-year-old Asian male. The second was far younger than our other two victims and was female. Same MO. Placing them in a public place like a work of art.’


    LaCroix nodded, blowing out another trail of smoke.


    For a moment, the cyborg felt a human chill snarl up his spine.
     
  3. Nevermore

    Nevermore Stately

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    "Better take the shot," Vacilla sounded bored, her synthesized voice flatter than before.

    Daven flinched and nearly pulled the trigger as the rifle jerked. He had finally lined up the perfect shot and was just about to shoot when his AI assistant spoke. A growl escaped him. His current target was a workaholic that rarely got out of his office before dinner time. It made finding him easy. Normally, Daven liked this type because office buildings were mostly glass, which meant targets were easy to shoot. Except this man was apparently having a very heated conversation with someone. He marched back and forth across his spacious office shouting and waving his arm like mad, various generic plants obscuring him.

    He shot a glare at his motorcycle, knowing the AI could see him, before returning his gun to the previous position. The bounty hunter didn't need to be so cautious, but he was a bit of a perfectionist when it came to his craft. He wanted a perfect shot even though he didn't need one. The gleaming rifle he held before him was bulkier than most and had numerous wires running down the sides that attached to two rails that made up the top of the barrel, which wasn't really a barrel at all, and the solid bottom half of the weapon. A screen was affixed to the side and the words 'Status: Charged' were clearly visible upon the blue background. He could shoot his target through a wall, or several if he needed to do so, but he was old school and sometimes missed his old rifle. Upgrading always filled him with dread.

    "You're thinking about your old rifle again, aren't you?" Vacilla sounded even more bored than she did before.

    Daven cursed and lined up on his target again. How did she always know that? He pulled the trigger and a brief hum filled the air as electricity arced along the weapon. It hardly whispered and the weapon didn't even move, but the target collapsed immediately. A massive pool of blood formed beneath the lifeless body, seeping from a fist sized hole in his chest and most likely reaching the floors below. The tungsten rod had most likely reached the sewers beneath them. Even the glass in the office window did not shatter.

    "Vacilla," Daven spoke calmly as he began to dismantle the weapon and store it in the side of the motorcycle with his other weapons. "Let the contract know the job is finished. If they want the rest of the scheme to fall as well they know my rate."

    "Done, now can we go home? It's cramped in here."

    The bounty hunter let a smile creep across his face before it snuck back into the shadows as he swept a leg across the seat of his bike and crouched against it. He was practically laying flat against the machine when the windshield closed over him. The jet engine purred to life and settled into a rumbling hum before he gave it some throttle. A roar tore from the machine and a blast of blue flame propelled him from the rooftop to the world below.

    It didn't take them long to reach his base of operations. He struggled calling any place home. It may have been his nature, or some part of his past, but for whatever reason he couldn't shake the use of technical terms. He parked the bike in a freight elevator that took him underground, concealing itself as it descended. When the bike came to a stop he swung free of it and took the chip from the console as he entered his base. The chip was placed in another console near his desk where a bank of computers was connected to numerous screens. Various hi-tech gadgets littered the desk and shelves nearby.

    "Home sweet home!" Vacilla said, sounding more chipper than before. A projector flickered to life and the five inch image of a magenta-skinned woman appeared before Daven. She was curvy and shaped like a woman with looks that could kill, if she were the right size, real, and not pink. Though he knew the pink skin would not be a deal breaker to most when the rest of her looked the way it did. She had black hair to her waist and glowing, purple bands were the only 'clothes' she wore.

    Daven sighed as he looked at her. "Are you sure there's no clothing option? That just seems unnecessary."

    This prompted the AI to strike provocative pose, earning her an eye-roll from her companion. He was helping himself to a beer, ignoring her at this point. "Nope," she said in her most seductive voice, "they know lonely men like you need someone around to keep them from completely shriveling up."

    He nearly broke the bottle in his hand. She chuckled.
     
  4. Paladin_girl

    Paladin_girl Between the Chapters of a Dream Staff Member

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    The biggest adjustment was the lack of sleep.


    Cyborgs, by their definition, had their brains altered to such a degree that rest was replaced by regeneration. Small nanobots known as Neuronets filtered silently through the mind, replenishing the neurons throughout the day.


    The lack of sleep, he was told, was because he was awake throughout the conversion process. Part of his contract was to push some of his memories back, which included a lack of dreams.


    Standing at the window of his office, LaCroix stared at the busy streets, eyeing the neon illumination on the opposite building which gleamed beside a violent city-kill, the body hunched over a glass bottle and a gun.


    Bots were already clearing the scene, leaving the body alone until human hands could touch it.


    On his desk, an article glared out from the computer screen, its headline blaring, ‘THE ARTIST: CRAFTING ART OR ABOMINATION?’


    A grim look passed across LaCroix’s features.


    This is ridiculous.


    Grabbing his coat, LaCroix walked out of the room and into Forensics.


    The scent of chlorine and alcohol wandered across his senses like a lazy seductress, the walls wrapping him in ghostly glares of clinical-white.


    The covered body sat – rather than lay – on the slab, frozen stuck-solid as if time didn’t care. The sheet was still placed over her.


    Pulling it off carefully, LaCroix took a moment, considering the abomination before him. The skin was pale; ice rather than snow. The head had been delicately bowed down, the spinal chord gliding down into a long coil, curling to the front, where it embraced a pair of crossed arms that folded inwards towards a ribcage, the heart exposed and moved to the centre, held by a pair of hands that seemed to caress it lovingly. Not offering, but clasping. The skin was fused together. It looked smooth – even natural.


    The eyes were open and glassy, looking at LaCroix with a half-lidded stare. No expression, but carried a daunting, even expression.


    Half of the torso was missing, a field of arteries and muscle stretching from the body’s back, the glare of clinical white from the ceiling exposing the delicate structure.


    Delicate.


    A momentary look of disgust passed across LaCroix’s face.


    His vision flipped, the world going into a grid-like map of gold-and-black.


    Several analyses cropped together, intersecting one another as they cross-referenced. Only two drugs could be highlighted – trace amounts of rohypnol. The second made LaCroix frown – nothing in the databases could place it.


    Which probably means a blend of something.


    But was it meant to kill the victim – or simply knock them out?


    If it was concocted as an anaesthetic, it suggested that The Artist was prepared to keep them alive – somehow. Some way.


    LaCroix glanced again at the Victim’s head – and his gaze narrowed.


    One of the victim’s pupils was more dilated than the other.


    He looked closer, scanning the victim’s brain.


    ‘Jesus fucking Christ.’



    The frontal lobe had been completely shredded.


    In spite of advanced technology, LaCroix’s head started to ache.


    Why? He thought – or more to the point, which had come first – the ice-pick or the anaesthetic?


    The visual analyses showed no fingerprints on the body – and interestingly, no cybernetic enhancements. It was a typical trend – if people weren’t converted like he was, there was some bump or metallic residue on the skin from a phone, a CAT device or micro-recorder. Anything these days could be traced back to some sort of augmentation – and yet there was nothing.


    Wait…


    There was a puncture wound to the woman’s neck. Here – and on the woman’s left eye – there was residue. Small traces of sterilised steel on both body parts. The Artist knew what they were doing.


    Good, he thought, there’s at least something.


    He folded his arms, shutting off the analyses and sending it to the forensics team, leaving him with the woman’s corpse.


    Despite the horrific display, it was a good way to separate the ‘art’ from the sadistic nature of the killer. He needed it.


    Covering the body with the sheet, LaCroix folded his arms.


    He was only in his mid-thirties – and it already felt like he was getting too old for this shit.
     
  5. Nevermore

    Nevermore Stately

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    Daven was halfway through his second beer and showed no signs of slowing down when Vacilla perked up. He was done for the night and didn't have any current jobs so he could unwind to his heart's content and pass out whenever he wanted, but the AI's avatar was dancing about and floating from screen to screen on his computer eagerly. He watched her curiously, painfully aware that the purple ribbons acting as her clothes barely formed a thong for her lower half. Her tendency to shake her rear when she was excited would have been the icing on the cake for a lesser man, but Daven just sighed and turned away. He downed the remainder of his beer before finally speaking up.

    "What are you doing over there?" He asked, his voice flat as he faced the wall. "You know, you really shouldn't shake your ass like that. You'll corrupt me." Vacilla appeared right in front of his face, rear first, shaking it at him. He swatted at the hologram fruitlessly, "Gah!" Her giggles made him see red. "I'm going to disable your projectors. It's like your programmers think your entire market is horny teenagers."

    "My entire market is horny teenagers," she said, a smug look on her face. "You're the odd one out. No one created my programming to aid an assassin. That wouldn't go over too well with the press. But, since you're so helpless with technology you needed someone to help, right? Turns out you're bad at researching too, despite actually being a pretty good detective sort. There are other AIs out there that might have been better, but then you wouldn't get all of this," she gestured at her body. However, Daven was already at the computer searching for a new AI.

    She flailed in despair and projected herself in front of him, but his eyes were fixed on one of the screens. A sharp smirk crept across his face. "Is this what you were dancing about?" He asked, a sliver of glee creeping into his voice. She knew this look and voice. It sent shivers down her spine, even though she didn't technically have one. She turned to look at the screen.

    "Bounty Issued for The Artist: Police Force Desperate to End Despair"

    The article detailed how the third incident caused the police to issue the bounty. It was a hefty one too. If Daven brought the guy in he would be able to relax for a while. He snatched the chip from the console and Vacilla vanished as he moved back to the freight elevator. It didn't take them long to reach the third site, though the police had already carted the piece away. Everything was already back to normal. He shook his head. Even with something this twisted the authorities were as efficient as ever.

    "Vacilla, access the cameras in this area. Get me everything you can. Also, the police will have reports, I want those too." He sat in silence for a moment while Vacilla did her thing. She was a surprisingly adept hacker. It didn't take long before images started to appear on his motorcycle windshield. He had parked just beyond the site to avoid suspicion. The mercenary sifted through the images slowly. The piece was horrifying, but they all were. He recognized Dwyer. A grin formed on his lips as he figured the man had probably dealt with at least a few of his bounties. "Who's that? Talking to Dwyer, never seen him before."

    "William LaCroix, detective and recently modified. Apparently, today was his first day back on the job after the conversion. While mods like yours are illegal, we're seeing more and more officials getting authorized. I guess with people like The Artist showing up they need countermeasures. His mods weren't listed, so I guess they want to keep his skills a secret. I guess this is his case now, maybe you'll finally make a friend?"

    Daven scoffed. Law enforcement didn't like him in the least. Most of his targets are dirty in one way or another, but his methods are quite illegal and frowned upon. "We'll steer clear of him if we can. Detectives are smarter than the average uniform, and if this guy is modded then he must be pretty good. They don't just hand those things out."
     
  6. Paladin_girl

    Paladin_girl Between the Chapters of a Dream Staff Member

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    LaCroix left the police station, feeling exhaustion sink into his bones like hard fangs, wracking his body with cruel, painful knots which, he knew, didn’t actually exist. His cyborg body had, if nothing else, taught him the realities of self-awareness.

    My world is a blank canvas – but sometimes, I can feel something – someone – calling me back to an unseen time. There’s no voice or sound. No tone that my mind can grip and call ‘sense’ but for the fragments inside me.

    The case was going to stay wedged in his brain. The least he could do was wash down the bile that had built up from his actions in the lab.

    Rather than take the car, he walked, trying to taste the cold, albeit artificial air that vented through the city, the stale whirring echoing across the neon-lit buildings. His mouth quirked slightly at a thought, eyeing the tall tops of them all, the ridiculous advertisements blaring negligee-clamped men and women, bestowing onlookers with oversized beer cans, tool sets and so on. Night might have swept in, but markets never slept.

    He entered a bar, which in turn, greeted him with wafts of cigaweed smoke, vapours and quiet conversation, which was occasionally broken by laughter or the clink of glass.

    He found a stool at the bar and waved at the bartender, who for a moment, scowled at his new customer. LaCroix didn’t address it, letting the reaction pass by.

    Whatever. The asshole was still going to get a tip and he fucking knew it.
     
  7. Nevermore

    Nevermore Stately

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    The motorcycle rumbled to a soft purr as Daven pulled around the block and parked closer to the reveal location of the third piece. The windshield glided up on silent gears and struts and the bounty hunter stepped out. Glass lowered and clicked locked without his input while the bike was left running. Vacilla plastered her form across the windshield as she watched him, despite not needing a physical presence for such observations. He sighed, but said nothing. She wasn't about to start listening to him, so he just hoped no one walked past and saw her scantily clad form.

    Just as he had deduced when he arrived on the scene, the police had efficiently cleared the piece away and the alley wasn't even closed off at this point. No yellow tape, no chalk or evidence markers on the ground. He paced up and down the alley slowly. Vacilla remained silent, still working on the police files for him. Their security was obviously better the municipal stuff. His modified eyes picked up random scuffs in the asphalt and markings that could be considered recent, but nothing was conclusive. The closest he came to an actual clue was a plastic residue splattered around the place where the piece had been erected. He recalled a theory of a chemical agent being used to turn flesh and bone to plastic, allowing for the rigidity of the horrific pieces. It made sense, but he wasn't a chemist. He pulled a small kit from his pocket and chipped flakes of the plastic off the ground before scooping it into a paper pouch.

    His frown made Vacilla vanish from the windshield. She knew he wasn't happy with what they had found, but if the Artist was going to make it easy the police would've caught him already. She trusted Daven to get the job done in their stead, but she just hoped it was soon. No one deserved the fate of these victims.

    "Is Keyboard at the bar tonight?" He asked as he settled back into the bike. Vacilla perked up and her avatar nodded enthusiastically. He sighed and offered a thankful smile. Maybe that whiz could tell them something about the Artist.