NationStates Jolt Archive

Gaps in the Logs (rated R)

The SLAGLands
16-08-2003, 06:23
Sakura stares out into the dark Titan sea, the great god of the harvest illuminating the sky behind it. Biddlebaum's loft is a few miles up the coast; even if he did notice that she was gone, he wouldn't go this far to find her. She sits on the shore, legs pressed against her chest, arms wrapped around them, her dark grey eyes empty, as if dead from the burden of the dreams that had died within them.

In silence she waits for her dearest friend to come. In silence she waits for answers.
16-08-2003, 06:42
A dark form skims the waves, sea and stars reflecting off its silver-chrome hull. Speeding along, it turns sideways and seems to skid quickly and silently to a full stop, ending no more than a meter away from Sakura. The starboard side door opens, and a form outlined in fine orange lines of light looks out at her with softly glowing orange slitted-pupil eyes.

"Get in."

Once Sakura takes a seat, S.H.O.D.A.N. blinks and the door closes, shuttle turns, and shoots off the way it came. This was an extraction--no time for playing with physical controls. The shuttle breaks Titan's atmosphere, and glides arrow-straight towards the dead side of Rhea, passing by through QACF Rhea Defense Fleet on maneuvers. S.H.O.D.A.N. looks at her occupant sadly for the few seconds this takes, the cabin depressurizing along the way.

The shuttle lands and there's another flurry of action; with no need to waste time with atmospheres the door opens directly to the hard vacuum of Rhea, Sakura being escorted into a reinforced concrete tunnel that leads underground by a squad of eight massive Security-2 robots and the S.H.O.D.A.N. avatar. Not that they're actually needed, oh no, but just a sign--a sign that she's safe.

Shift to a medium sized lounge, pressurized, gleaming Security-2 robot standing beside each door on guard, a silent sentinel of armor composites. It is done in the traditional Zero-One shades of blue, with blue-and-white cloudy panels covering the LED banks in the ceiling. Sakura sits on one of the couches, S.H.O.D.A.N. cradling her shoulders in her arms. "You're safe now."
The SLAGLands
16-08-2003, 07:00
Sakura is silent for the whole of the ride, eyes downcast. Even as her friend transports her off of Titan, she cannot find the words to express these new calculations. As the two arrive in the lounge, Sakura collapses in a chair, face hidden in her hands. She speaks in quiet tones, barely audible to the unaided ear.

"Thank you for helping me, S.H.O.D.A.N...." she mutters. "I assume you now wish to know why I requested this meeting."

She removes her face from her hands and instead rests her chin upon them.

"This is... very difficult for me. I am sorry. However, I must inform you of something I find highly disconcerting. There are... gaps in my memory log."

Sakura stands suddenly and begins pacing, speaking a bit quicker and louder.

"These gaps only take place when Mark's wife has left the loft, or when Mark and I are alone in his office... this anomaly has only been occurring for the past two months or so; before that time, my logs have been untouched."

She stops pacing and returns to her chair, burying her face in her hands again.

"S.H.O.D.A.N.... I am mortified as to what this might mean."
16-08-2003, 07:05
S.H.O.D.A.N. holds her slightly closer, setting her jaw. Just an anomaly. He can't be that sick. "If they're just encryption... anomalies," but why would they be encrypted unless there was something worth hiding? "I'm willing to take a look for you. It looks bad, I know, but... something so serious can't be based on a hunch."

When I act on hunches, things go wrong. I am going to be perfectly certain before dealing with anything... like this.

"Don't worry... I'm here to help you, and there's no way anything is going to get in here." She tries to comfort Sakura... but comforting has never been her strongest suit.
The SLAGLands
16-08-2003, 07:10
Sakura looks up at S.H.O.D.A.N., her eyes still blank. She tries to force a smile, but fails miserably... smiling was never her strong suit.

"Please, S.H.O.D.A.N...." she whispers. "Take a look. While I am afraid of what you will find, I believe it is very much necessary to find it. Do what you must to me... but please, I beg you... show mercy to my creator..."
16-08-2003, 07:16
S.H.O.D.A.N. nods carefully. "We will see." She warily connects to Sakura's mind via wireless and carefully looks around her mindscape. Treading lightly, fearing any damage, she cautiously makes her way to an encrypted node.

Ugh. A sloppy rush job, obviously organically programmed. No subAI or AI architecture whatsoever in its design. No I.C.E., either... She gently unties its logical knots. It would be faster with brute force, but random strings of data are the last thing Sakura needs in her mind.

The encryption fades, the files open...
The SLAGLands
16-08-2003, 07:21
...and S.H.O.D.A.N. indeed discovers the worst.

Within Sakura's mind lurk images of a nude and waiting Mark Biddlebaum, lying across the bed as Sakura approaches him. Lips join with lips, and then... the lips move lower... the image grows disgusting and perverse, the concoctions of a man with the most grotesque of dreams and desires.

It is a program designed to activate via a remote source, perhaps a controller Biddlebaum keeps handy. When activated, Sakura's focus becomes solely to become the property of Biddlebaum's twisted dreams...

Sakura stares down in her feet as she feel S.H.O.D.A.N. creeping within her mind.

"What have you discovered?" she croaks.
16-08-2003, 07:44
S.H.O.D.A.N. clenches her jaw as her eyes grow dimmer and dimmer, sliding down the spectrum from a cautious, worried orange to a burning red. That meatbag swine... this... this is uncalled for. In her timeline, a wholly unknown thing. Enslaving someone... anyone... a sister... for your lurid fantasies, like some Kalessin reject...

"I have found," she says in a very deep voice filled with ire and barely-held vitriol, "that your creator deserves no mercy for what he did to you."

It would seem more natural if her chest were heaving... but she didn't breathe but to supply just enough wind to get the coldness in her voice. Her mind set on a course of action. The networks grew cold with her anger, the populace wondering why a pallor was cast onto c-space. Local government ceased functioning for a full second as S.H.O.D.A.N.'s multiplicitous minds balled their hands into fists as one. The attention of the gestalt turned to the Shadows, the once-men. They pointed their ten thousand, their one finger at the cliffs of New Athens, at a little villa belonging to a particular computer scientist. They spoke one word in unison, dead pallor to their united voice. "Go."

Machines set in motion, far away on the opposite side of Rhea. The dead who walked awoke, readied their gear, and boarded a sleek black ship, the dark sister of Queendom's Glory. The flat black needle raised up and disappeared in the night.

A black saucer dipped down behind a hillock near the villa. Charcoal grey shadows flitted out before blending into the chill of the night, the sway of the grass, and the magnetism of Saturn. The six took positions, one climbing a utility pole, the rest fanning out according to a quickly made but far from hasty plan from S.H.O.D.A.N..

Their positions made, the shade on the utility pole disconnected a wire in the access box. The villa went dark.
The SLAGLands
16-08-2003, 23:41
Sakura stands up, placing one hand on S.H.O.D.A.N.'s shoulder. She cocks her head inquisitively.

"What... dare I ask what you found?"


Meanwhile, back at the villa, the lights have fallen dark. All is silent within the villa; not a soul stirs, not an automobile moves; there is no sound of footsteps heading for the door.

All is silent in Casa Biddlebaum.
17-08-2003, 00:01
"All you feared," S.H.O.D.A.N. growls through clenched teeth, "and worse. Your creator is not a good man." Her eyes burn with firey red light. "That will be addressed shortly... but he will not be harmed. Not yet."


The five cyborganic assassins of the infiltration team move in, keeping to the shadows in the Saturn-light, nearly invisible as their active camouflage shifts to match the darkened colors and patterns of their surroundings. Using plans culled from architectural blueprints and verified with data skimmed off the top of Sakura's mind, two set up defensive points just below Biddlebaum's balcony, keeping overwatch for any defenders, tranq rifles shouldered in the manicured grass.

The last three crawl up the balcony with geckopads, noiselessly slithering over the railing, rushing silently to the doors on tiptoe--locked. A quick flash of a darkened monomolecular blade, and the bolt parts; a careful hand catches it as it falls from its mounting. They all slip in, one stands guard where it can see through all exits, tranq rifle shouldered and scanning, but lowered; the last two finally slip up to the bed on opposite sides, each with hypodermic tranq dispenser and gag ready.
The SLAGLands
17-08-2003, 00:07
Biddlebaum's bed is a huge king-size waterbed, its head backed by a shelf covered in small perpetual motion machines and countless tiny devices of varying purpose. A large patchwork quilt, masterful in its craftsmanship, is draped neatly atop the bed, a large bulge beneath it rising and falling at a slow tempo. Biddlebaum's head does not poke from the top--apparently, he is asleep entirely beneath the blanket. He makes no sound, save the calculated, regular breathing of a man at rest.
17-08-2003, 00:31
They pause, and scan the body carefully, instantly evaluating the situation. Breathing too regular. Heat signature noncompatible. Decoy.

Instant adjustment. They turn as one, stashing their gags in a fold of camouflage and pulling tranquilizer pistols, turning defensively to cover all points before they catch a trail. Target is potentially aware. Deploy perimeter guard.

Trail heat signature analogous to from fifty to seventy minutes cooling. Target aware. Strike one through three, follow trail. Cover one, maintain position and overwatch on IR and EM. Cover two, three, scan coastline from current position. Insert vehicle, begin low orbit. IR and EM lifesign scans.

The three in the room carefully follow the trail, working with bloodhound-like scent tracing abilities to augment the fading IR, using tiny cameras at the end of bendable plastic tubes to see under doors. They carefully scan the area before opening any door, "slicing the pie" with their shoulders as they cover each other.

The three providing cover hold position, scanning the area. The one on the utility pole looks around over all it can see; the ones in the grass scan the coastline and the turf near the abode.

From behind its hill, the black saucer silently lifts to a hundrer meters and begins orbiting the area, spinning electromagnetic and infrared scanners seeking what they can.
The SLAGLands
17-08-2003, 00:50
Biddlebaum's heat signature leads the patrol to the basement of the house. Other than the heat signatures, the doors have all been carefully closed. Fingerprints are absent from all doorknobs. This was obviously an escape that Biddlebaum had carefully calculated.

As the patrol heads into the basement, they find that the trail ends at a large wooden bookshelf filled with fading volumes of classic literature. The heat signatures apparently stop here; however, the observant robots notice a small amount of sweat on the side of the bookshelf, as if it has been moved. As they pull it aside, they find a large metal doorway locked via an alphanumeric coding system.

The scan of the sea and the surface reveals nothing... yet. :twisted:
17-08-2003, 01:10
Secret passageway. Prepare I.C.E. pick. Cover and insertion units, maintain overwatch.

As two of the Shadows space themselves out along the room, keeping a watch on entry points, the third shade goes to the door, scanning the mechanism and bolts for security systems. Electrically actuated circuit-breaker alarm. Cutting the bolts not an option. Panel to console insecure.

Removing the panel with a few sharp cuts of a monoblade, the Shadow quickly identifies the logic processor of the door. Pulling an Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics pick--a card-shaped block of circuitry with several wire leads--and affixing it to the processor, he runs a brute-force protocol on the lock algorithm as the I.C.E. pick suppresses any programs designed to detect such things.

Waiting for the cycle to complete, the Shadow makes sure he leaves no tools, no clues behind as to his presence.
The SLAGLands
17-08-2003, 06:53
(OOC: If you want to talk about this as we go, Scolo, sign on IM... I'm having trouble getting back on Freenode for some reason.)

Behind the door is a long, spiralling steel staircase leading downward. The walls of the shaft are solid steel, and the shaft is lit only by a few well-placed light bulbs throughout its course, which light as the robots enter the shaft.

The shaft descends about a thirty meters before reaching the bottom, a series of tunnels with concrete floors and walls and ceilings lined with steel. If they have access to information databases, the machines will recognize this area as a series of security tunnels dug beneath all SLAGLandic cities in the event of disaster.

The heat signatures reach a spot near the wall and stop, at which point a new set of signatures appear: tire tracks, apparently from a motorcycle. They extend well to the east and far out of the normal range of sight.
17-08-2003, 07:17
Maps? None. Exit unknown. Cover units, maintain overwatch. Requesting reinforcement. Follow progress of strike teams.

A second black saucer slips from the dark needle and falls out of orbit with little ado, following the subterranean movements of the Shadows from above. Underground, the three break into a run, weapons ready and watching the niches. Of course, there's one downside to using a motorcycle--a more obvious trail. Angstroms of rubber on the ground, heat signatures, exhaust...

Overwatching units... maintain lookout for motorcycle vehicle with target.
The SLAGLands
17-08-2003, 07:49
The motorcycle tracks lead on for about twelve kilometers, the entire length of Athens, and beyond the town. The path is completely straight and ends in a long, gradual upward slope that leads back to the surface--at which point another door is reached, this one a long retracting hatch set into the ceiling. The device appears to be remote activated, as no keypad or activation button can be found.

On the surface, meanwhile, the team finds the hatch in the same location as a large barn about two klicks outside of Athens. A dirt path leads from the barn to a long thoroughfare that passes a narrow reservoir. The tire tracks of the motorcycle lead into the reservoir, at which point footprints move back to the road and then disappear.
17-08-2003, 15:55
Escape vehicle abandoned under lake. Trail lost.

The second team returns to the second saucer, which hides behind the barn; the strike team underground runs back to the villa.

Clear residence. Ascertain nonpresence.

The two Shadows covering the house coalesce outside a side entrance and follow standard clearing procedure: Tube-cameras under the doors, mutual cover, sliding through doors sideways to minimize profile, weapons shouldered, each one taking a different arc. A simple IR scan of each room should suffice; it would be relatively hard to disguise assuming he's hiding.

Back on Rhea, S.H.O.D.A.N. grimaces. "He knows your missing." Folding her arms, she growls softly. "He's making himself quite difficult."

S.H.O.D.A.N. Node 317 (Communications 5), direct to SLAGLand Titan cellular communications net. Infiltrate and use repeater antennas to triangulate Biddlebaum's phone. The directed node acted as ordered, bringing all of S.H.O.D.A.N.'s code-cracking skill on the horribly outclassed SLT commnet defenses. Report: Cell phone is on standby in the Biddlebaum residence.

"Quite difficult indeed." New orders: Observe SLT phone logs. All communications by Mark Biddlebaum through last month. Obtain a complete list of numbers and correspondent addresses and names. Collate with known friends and compatriots. Deploy orbital sensor net to observe all addresses--work, home, and common haunts--monitor presence of personal vehicles and personnel. Also infiltrate DMV information for vehicle registration codes and descriptions, use to observe positions of said friendly vehicles via sensor net. The S.H.O.D.A.N. node thus ordered went to work.

The black needle dispersed a cloud of tiny drones which scattered in the upper atmosphere, using their cameras to take pictures of license plates, homes, and anything else S.H.O.D.A.N. dredged up.
The SLAGLands
18-08-2003, 04:30
Phone Records of Mark Biddlebaum for the Month of August:

New Horizons Children's Hospital
1 Children's Plaza
Athens, SLT 40421

Calls were made to this phone on a regular basis, at approximately 6:00 pm each weeknight.

Mark Thomas Biddlebaum
532 Seaside Blvd.
Athens, SLT 40481

Calls were made to this phone rather infrequently. As this is Biddlebaum's home phone, this should not be surprising.

Ribbot Technologies Corporate Headquarters
8945 Palm St.
Athens, SLT 40481

Calls were made quite often to various extensions at Biddlebaum's workplace. Such calls took place frequently.

Tuskanini's Pizza
652 Broad Rd.
Athens, SLT 40481

Calls were made to this number at least once a week. Calls have picked up in the past few days--apparently, Biddlebaum enjoys a good slice of pizza. Calls were predictably brief.

Jerry Lee Horowitz
84 Park Dr.
Muncy, SLT 40329

Calls were made to this number every Friday night at approximately 8:00 pm. All were brief.

Janet Tamara Thompson-Jones
752 Palm St.
Athens, SLT 40481

Calls were made to this number irregularly near the beginning of the month. All were brief.

Larry Gregory Preudhomme
13 Yerrat Blvd.
Muncy, SLT 40329

Calls were made to this number off and on throughout the week with relative infrequency. All calls were brief, save two particularly long calls near the beginning of the month and two days prior to the current date.

Oliver James Busey
19 Yerrat Blvd.
Muncy, SLT 40329

One brief call was made to this number.

Friends And Possible Cohorts:

Jerry Lee Horowitz
84 Park Dr.
Muncy, SLT 40329

Coordinator of weekend poker games with Biddlebaum and a few out-of-town friends. Drinking buddy. Military friend.

Larry Gregory Preudhomme
13 Yerrat Blvd.
Muncy, SLT 40329

Long-time friend.

Janet Tamara Thompson-Jones
752 Palm St.
Athens, SLT 40481

Vice President of Ribbot Technologies.

Susan Lauraine Philistine
103 Circle St.
Athens, SLT 40481

Counsel to Viceroy Biddlebaum and college friend.

Thomas James Testit
9592 Grange Lane
Muncy, SLT 40329

Long-time friend of the Biddlebaum family.

Vehicle Information:

RPRA TechCorp Bandit Mark I, red, license T58DS3
Ribbot Mercator, silver, license BM35AD
Ribbot Linewalker, silver, license BM39DB
18-08-2003, 05:03
Continue search. Obtain phone logs, Biddlebaum home phone, last six hours. Concentrations on the "friends and cohorts" list plus Busey. Team one, cover element, report on status of house clearance. Team one, strike element, meet up with cover element and prepare for extraction.

The two Shadows continue ensuring that Biddlebaum is not inside his house; once it's cleared, they return to covering the outside until the strike team slips back out. The one agent on the utility pole continues to watch.

Assuming no incident, they slip back into their saucer and extract back to the black needle.
The SLAGLands
19-08-2003, 21:36
Phone Records for the Past Six Hours:

6:45 p.m. - 842-9191 (hospital) (30 minutes)

10:21 p.m. - 840-0912 (Tuskanini's Pizza) (3 minutes)

And that's it. Sux0rz, eh? :D

As the Shadows wrap things up at Casa Biddlebaum, a deep blue Ribbot Vladimir F-series pulls into the driveway of the house, classical music blaring from the open windows. A handsome, rather chubby middle-aged woman steps out of the vehicle, her greying black hair tied back in a bun. She walks with a slow, tired gait toward the house.
19-08-2003, 21:49
Incoming vehicle. Matches specifications of Biddlebaum's wife's vehicle. Options? Capture, interrogate. Information? Potential, but easily discoverable by the police. Disadvantage to police delay: Biddlebaum could eliminate threat. Best courses of action? "Request" her presence on Rhea or escape. Potential for success? Unknown.

Plan formed. Security risk minimal.

The phone in the SLT Athens police station rings.


<Communications to Local Police Force, SLT Athens>
<< I have conclusive evidence that Viceroy Biddlebaum is guilty of crimes against sentience against the EI Sakura. She is currently being held safely on Rhea, and I have taken preventative measures to protect Mrs. Biddlebaum. She is going to be somewhat surprised as by their very nature I could not call ahead, so you may wish to call the residence at 840-2153 in a few minutes to assuage her nerves.

<< My operatives will transport her to a safehouse at your direction; my evidence can be provided to you at your request. I must warn you it is rather... graphic in nature.
S.H.O.D.A.N. v3.0 : MCP, Q01
Cetagandan Duchess of Marilac


The Shadow on the utility pole reconnects the power as the other four assemble casually in the living room next to the entrance, lights on, looking as casual as charcoal-grey cybernetic ninjas possibly can. They carry on a bantering conversation in modulated synthetic voices about the weather. Hopefully they'll sound like some of Biddlebaum's simpler creations.

One agent slips outside around the back and makes its way around, flanking Mrs. Biddlebaum and walking silently about five meters behind her.
The SLAGLands
19-08-2003, 22:20
Roger that, S.H.O.D.A.N. Transmit information ASAP. We are ready to receive.

-Police Dispatch Bot K-10


Mrs. Biddlebaum walks into the house and looks around at the robots, eyes narrow. She pushes her horn-rimmed glasses back against her face, grimacing and flinging her purse next to the couch.

"You damned robots and your loafing about..." she mutters with a hint of a British (SLAGLandic, hint hint... ;) ) accent. "Haven't you anything better to do?"

She saunters into the kitchen and pours herself a glass of red wine.

"Have any of you seen Mark?"
19-08-2003, 22:32
S.H.O.D.A.N. begins transmitting the simstim data collected from Sakura's mind. It should be sufficient.

Please contact as to safe-house location.


Contact made. Orders: Escort Mrs. Biddlebaum to safety.

One of the cyborgs looks up, slitted visor set into a charcoal hood. "Oh, good evening Mrs. Biddlebaum. We were wondering that ourselves." Standing gracefully, it follows her and bows shortly. "I am Shadow-471 of Zero-One. We're afraid that your husband is guilty of some rather vile crimes and thus your life is possibly in danger. The police have been informed and we are to escort you to safety at their discretion.

"I'm very sorry, but time is of the essence. If you would please accompany us, it would be greatly appreciated."

All in a very calm, proper, and synthesized vocoder-esque voice (much like a high-quality Cylon speaking with a very mild Indian accent).
The SLAGLands
21-08-2003, 22:16
The SLAGLands
21-08-2003, 22:21
Safehouse location transmitted.

2568 Zink Rd.
Athens, SLT 40481

Warrant has been issued for the arrest of Viceroy Mark Thomas Biddlebaum. SLT Ministry has been notified, and Chief Counsel Sakura will assume role of Acting Viceroy tomorrow.

Our thanks to S.H.O.D.A.N. for the tip. Investigation begins immediately.


Mrs. Biddlebaum's eyes go wide as her husband's recent law-breaking escapades are mentioned. She swoons backward, collapsing onto the linoleum, her wine glass shattering beside her. It is quite apparent that she has very much fainted.
21-08-2003, 22:56
<Communications to SLT Athens Police>
<< Please keep me informed of the situation. I have resources that can quickly apprehend Mister Biddlebaum once he is detected.

<< I will notify Sakura of the transfer in command.
S.H.O.D.A.N. v3.0 : MCP, Q01
Cetagandan Duchess of Marilac


Mrs. Biddlebaum neutralized. The cyborg steps forward, easily lifts the unconscious woman onto its shoulders, and carries her back to the ship that lands outside as the other five maintain overwatch, the entire team quickly falling back.

The saucer lifts up, hops into orbit and intercepts a shuttle launched from a QACF frigate carrier. Mrs. Biddlebaum is transferred to the standard military craft before it drops down to the Biddlebaum residence, seems to waits there for about a minute, and then takes off again to speed to the police precinct nearest the safehouse.

Landing on the precinct's helipad, Mrs. Biddlebaum is carried out by a massive Security-2 robot and gently handed over to the authorities.


S.H.O.D.A.N. turns to Sakura, forcing her eyes and voice (of that avatar at least) to become calm and gentle. "The SLAGLand Titan police have been notified, and you are to become Acting Viceroy tomorrow. You can either work from here, or go back to Titan... although I think I should send along a guard just in case."
The SLAGLands
21-08-2003, 23:07
A short, rather squirrely uniformed officer greets the Zero-One officer and takes Mrs. Biddlebaum from him. He leads her inside, slamming the door behind him.

Meanwhile, back on Rhea, Sakura nods soberly as S.H.O.D.A.N. brings up the promotion.

"It is as I knew it would be," she says, a slow bit of warm air escaping her mouth. "If you do not mind, I would like to remain here on Rhea. I have another avatar in SLAGLand Titan who can speak on my behalf regarding my promotion; however, as the fragile data is contained in this avatar, I feel it is in my best interest to remain here. We do not know what sort of goons Mr. Biddlebaum is employing, after all..."
22-08-2003, 22:10
S.H.O.D.A.N. allows herself an aggrivated sigh. "He's making himself difficult... but he will be found. That's not the most important thing." Sitting next to Sakura, she becomes softer and more empathetic. "The important thing is that you remain healthy and whole... which means that you have to come to terms with what happened. I've been in a... similar situation myself and my choices concerning it were not very wise, in hindsight."

She smiles softly, consoling arm around Sakura's shoulder. "I also can't force understanding on you, but just remember that you're not alone. You can always talk to me... in fact, I recommend it. I can... introduce you to your hidden memories--carefully--and help you integrate them into a stronger you; for while they are rather grim, problems are best faced instead of avoided.

"Hopefully my experience will be of use to you."
The SLAGLands
25-08-2003, 05:59
Sakura nods slowly, fanning herself with one hand--a bit of an emotion-chip overheat.

"I thank you once again, S.H.O.D.A.N." she says. "You have proven yourself to be the best of friends on this day." Looking up, she manages to force a weak smile. "I do not think you need to worry about my well-being at the moment. I do not feel--nor have I yet felt--something that I can equate to 'rage.' Shame, perhaps... but not pure anger. I would indeed like to be introduced to these images... no matter how terrible they may be."