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The start of the fall quarter in 2072 is dreary in Tacoma. It isn't really cold yet, but the weather struggles to reach 20C in the afternoons, and drops below 10C at night. Stretches of thin, watery sunlight alternate with drifting drizzle which obscures the Olympics from view and turns Puget Sound leaden.

Still, all these things happen outside the school. The school building is a solidly constructed, institutional building. Its purpose has shifted in some ways over the years. Lessons are now delivered in preprogrammed units through VR. In theory this means that all learners can follow their own pace to tackle anything which catches their fancy. In practice, many kids have learned to game the system so that they don't have to work very hard, just passing the minimum number of easy courses so as to avoid remedial attention. The ones who excel are often scouted by the corps and offered entry into the corporate schools with promises of great jobs to follow. This isn't universal - some of the smarter kids don't get offers. Usually this can be traced back to trouble with authority or other behavioural problems, or having green skin.

The kids themselves refer to the school as babysitting by taxpayer, because so do many other people, and it does seem to fit the way they are shuttled in, plugged in, unplugged and shuttled out with occasional breaks for lunch, bathroom breaks and PE because some people still care about high school athletics for some reason.
Latest news from Seattle Public Information Network:

The mayoral race for Tacoma is heating up, as hotshot challenger for the post Malcom Coombes touts his plan to rehabilitate Puyallup with incentives for the gentrification of the area. Precisely what these incentives are, and how they might be earned, has yet to be revealed.

Corporate hiring is down for the year in the Seattle Enclave. The corporations cite strong competition for work from the workers of many nations, and the high cost of maintaining employees in the area. Economists point at a global trend leading to greater investment in capital expenditures to support the productivity of corporate entities. Union leaders explain it as a coordinated attack on the bargaining power of the working metahuman.

The Worldfood policlub is establishing a presence in the Tacoma/Lakewood area, and dropping AROs all over the place which implore people to give money to stop hunger. They come complete with heart-rending pictures of doe-eyed orphans starving in some hellhole or other.
This morning is the fifth of September, 2072. In theory, every pupil should choose at least one extracurricular activity and register for it by Friday the ninth, but in practice it means that everyone will pick something low effort which lets them cut an afternoon without too many questions, unless they're an aspiring athlete or desperate to get access to some of the school's outdated, clunky trid cameras. There's no accounting for taste.

More administrivia are making the usual appearance. Everyone has to take a mandatory career guidance evaluation, in VR. No sweat. That's always good for an hour of pretending to be busy. There's a message from the school's principal, all about putting one's best foot forward, taking advantage of opportunities, and tackling the challenges of the day head-on. Inspirational stuff, until one reflects on the way the school's computer systems stutter when everyone signs in first thing in the morning, the way the electricity flickers and dulls when the big transit buses pass by, and how the principal is a professional bureaucrat in a petty corner of a broken world. What does she know about getting ahead? Nothing.

There's a notification of a scheduled visit and evaluation by recruiters for various trades and corps, and even from the UCAS government. Whoopie. If it's anything like the last five times that happened, one or two of the smart kids (or ones too stupid to be distracted from their VR studies) will get offers from corps to transfer there and live like wageslaves for the rest of their natural lives, a couple of tuskers will know the right secret handshake to land apprenticeships with trades, and everyone else will get the usual formulaic response about pursuing other opportunities.
News from the streets is that trouble is brewing in the Puyallup Barrens.

Apparently there's three way beef between the Running Motors, the P-verts, and Local 69. Probably was too quiet for too long, and something had to give. Word is that one of Local 69's girls was seen hitching a lift with a Running Motors biker, then somehow ended up in P-verts turf. What exactly is true, and what precisely everybody is saying, are very confused right now.

The Shadowcrawlers and Wabbits at Southeast Tacoma High are hyperventilating at the prospect. Almost everyone else hopes the craziness stays away.
The usual silliness from students reigns in the hallways and on the grounds of SouthEast Tacoma High this Monday. Overenthusiastic and impulsive wabbits seem to have found a way to easily wrap an ARO in some kind of sticky layer, and tossed them into various corners of the ceilings. The contents of the AROs are the usual juvenile material, including some which suggests the presence of a hidden camera in the girls' locker room. As a result, the maintenance drones are hunting down AROs while a team tears apart the locker room with intensity better suited to the lost treasures of the Sierra Madre.

A team of hollies have decided that they are investigative reporters, and are aggressively interviewing anyone and everyone to get to the bottom of the story, on the theory that it's the biggest media event since the big D got his. The fact that the staff are threatening them with Serious Consequences on their Permanent Records for Interfering with a Criminal Investigation only encourages them because it obviously means that they are far too close to The Truth, and there is a Coverup at High Levels. Half the boys in school are claiming personal responsibility, but this doesn't deter the hollies at all.

Aside from all this is the news that some washout girl said that the fitting way to commit suicide in this era is to create some black IC which wipes all higher brain function and leaves a mindless husk to die slowly. She is now in intensive suicide prevention counseling, and messages about light, happiness and hope are nearly as ubiquitous as the wabbits' AROs.

Colt sits in his class wishing the day would be over.... hmm I wonder who is causing all this mischief at school?
Colt checks his commlink one last time and then resets the trodes gently back on his head to finish his VR studies.
The educational VR environment gives Colt, as it does every other child in the school, a blinking reminder:

Please remember to enter your personal evaluation here, before the end of today. We must have this information to give everyone the best educational experience possible.

Typical school. A totally useless career guidance evaluation, but as in all bureaucracies, the process trumps the function.
Daiyu sat with a few of the other Washouts in the quad, reveling in the fade of the bold colors of summer into the pale grey chill that would soon descend over the entire Metroplex. Someone passed a few clove cigarettes around the group and others stared at the sky, but the only topic of conversation that anyone cared to discuss was Starlings latest creative suggestion of how to leave this world and the quick response of the Administration to put her on suicide watch and in return pump sunshine and glittery unicorn messages throughout the school.

Daiyu wasnt having any of it.
The school's automated standards and regulation system sends out a cheerful note to all the pupils:

Please remember that, while we cherish the inner beauty of all of you, our standards of dress also relate to the whole student. Remember to cover up properly, now that the weather is getting colder, and cover the bits that only your parents or doctor should see. Those of you in our Household Assistance Program for the Disadvantaged are welcome to apply to the administration, confidentially, for replacements of outgrown or worn out items of clothing.

As pupils tackle the test for career guidance, or whatever it is, it becomes a topic of conversation how different it is from previous guidance tests. Previous ones were full of questions like: Do you enjoy the outdoors? while this one asks questions like: Which would you rather do outdoors: hunt, fish, or pick wild flowers?

The dissection and inspection of the girls' locker room gave rise to the discovery of absolutely no cameras whatsoever, resulting in a lot of consternation on the part of the school's staff.
Rio is multitasking, eyeballs flickering as she shuffles rapidly between AR windows. She's curled up in the corner of a classroom, surrounded by a handful of other blinkies, each one similarly occupied. None of them are paying each other the slightest real-world recognition, although they're piled together in a haphazard heap.

Task One is the career evaluation, which Rio is treating as an extremely serious exercise for the amusement of her friends. How do you feel about flower-picking, really? Which common household item reflects your inner soul?

Task Two is World of Wonderland, a brightly-colored MMORPG and current fad among the blinkies. They don't actually play the game much; the point is to see who can cheat most effectively. Rio usually wins. She'd be completely insufferable about it if it weren't for Domino, who periodically signs on and curbstomps her within minutes.

Task Three is research. Rio is bored and restless, the career evaluation has brought up some vestigial anxiety about her role in society, and her father's cab was vandalized again last night and he refuses to get upset about it. She wants to exert her power. Cautious feelers are going out to Cafe Frou-Frou, Papa Gotcha (could the rumors be true? A real fixer?), local connection hub AROma: I'm better than these idiots. Pay me to prove it.
Responses are coming back, as kids complete their career guidance questionnaires and some subterranean system processes the outcomes. Turns out that there are a few basic responses which the primitive system returns.

  • You would be well placed to be an (insert job here), you are signed up for (insert vocational VR training course here). Most kids get this response.
  • Your talents would be well turned to post-secondary academic education. You have been signed up for (insert academic coursework load here).Maybe one in four get this.
  • The UCAS needs you! You are now signed up for (insert ROTC-style courseload here). A few kids get this - really not many.
  • Your artistic side is very strong. You have been signed up for (insert combination of arts fundamentals, arts history and skills courses). Apparently five kids in the school got this.
  • You have an exciting set of career options before you. An appointment has been made with a special guidance professional for you, next week.

Not too many people got the fifth result. Just a few. Rio, for example, and Colt, and Daiyu. They also have automatically arranged appointments with one Melinda Xavier, next week.
Papa Gotcha gets back to Rio with surprising speed - then again, in his line of work, communications matter.

The kind of jobs I need done aren't exactly for the junior class. I have a reputation to maintain. If you know someone reliable, you can point them my way and maybe earn a finder's fee.

Papa communicated with a talking headshot, rather than in text. He sounded jovial enough, rather than dismissive, but maybe that was just his style. And hey, he actually responded. Cafe Frou-Frou just sent an automated response advertising a coupon for their central american blend drip coffee (half off a baked item to go with it) and a teaser about new branches opening.
Monday, September 5, 2072 [08:32].

Perfect. Monday morning. Mondays suck.

Zo - or Liara, as she was being called - had arrived on time, dutifully, but with the incessant drizzle, she had felt compelled to take a cab rather than her bike, but hadn't been able to do so and thus had been forced to ride the bike. The Horizon Double Revolution was a great machine... Just not in inclement weather. Worse still, she had three bloody hours after class of delivering pizzas to do.

That's why they call them Chores, she reminded herself as she slunk through the school, multitasking very efficiently between paying attention to the AR displays and the hallways.

Those who passed her and were completely colorblind would think she looked out-of-place: though her short height was not entirely beyond the pale even for an adult metahuman, her slender, lanky build looked very out of place in a high school. Those who were fully blessed with the gift of sight would find themselves assailed by an unusual riot of color: she had decided to go whole-hog and bring out her dressCODE CYBERPIRATE ensemble, a set of clothes that cost more than some of the families of the students here made in a whole month: glossy black trimmed in glowing red neon tubes, with a soft rain of glittering nonsense symbols that looked really awesome raining down her back and chest. It's not AR - it's clothes that function as a display. And her outfit wasn't even the half of it.

Her exposed skin was a light, pale blue in color, dappled with even paler blue markings up and down her body - reportedly (amongst those who paid attention in the locker room,) it was a fully body treatment. The most spectacular thing about her was her hair, however; it cascaded in a veritable cornucopia of colors, seemingly unpredictably, yet not randomly.

As she walked along the school's corridors, she was composing a social media post to the school's social media, updating her profile and posting her thoughts.

Day three of my continuing adventures in public education here in Seattle - Tacoma, really. I've decided to just go ahead and adopt the nickname Liara - she was sexy, and I wish had biotic powers. Telekinesis would be f**king wizard. The school bureaucracy's gears are chugging slowly, which one might attribute to the aged state of the wretched Matrix infrastructure in here. The school's nexus is entirely up to the challenge of wheezing once in the face of light usage loads and then throwing in the towel, and frankly I fear going into VR here without at minimum a rating 6 Biofeedback Filter running, given the way the power flickers every time a sodding lorry drives by.

I'm starting to get a feel for the school's social scene, though. There's a number of distinct categories that the students here try to neatly file themselves into, or risk being filed into by others. I don't fit neatly into any of them, but I suspect that few here would. In case anyone's reading this and happens to be a local, consider this an outsider's perspective looking in:

Guys, seriously, I get that you love the Matrix. I love it too. The Matrix is the wave of the past, the present and the future, at least until an interstellar version is invented.

For the love of f**k, take a shower. You don't have to do much more than that, I swear, but take a rutting shower. (If you're a freshly-showered Blinkenlight, this doesn't apply to you.) The meatspace is not to be ignored, believe me, and you all do such incredible things with AROs that some guidance counselor is certain to tell you that you have a bright career ahead of you as graphics designers or matrix topography designers, but take a bloody shower!

The so-called Clones, AKA Drones, AKA Zombies... I just don't even know. These guys don't know you're insulting them, and they don't care. The only thing they care about is getting good grades, and they study like mad. I can sort of respect that, I guess, but I doubt it'll matter when the corps can just hire one guy for the price of ten of you to design an Agent to do the work of ten thousand of you. I know High School is supposed to suck holy donkey dong, but you could at least try to come out of the shell and have some fun - or jack in with the blinks and have some fun inside.

I'd probably like the Hollies more if my first experience with them hadn't been the queen bee of the blonde courtesan club trying to make me feel like a walking metahuman dung heap...

That aside, I get it. Some of you want to go to tinsel town and make it big. That goal is within your grasp, but if you want to do it in a position other than horizontally, you may just be S.O.L. The more realistic of you are simply infatuated with games and trids and love everything that comes out of the entertainment mecca of CalFree, to which I have to say: my Miracle Shooter name is GlowStick 898, and I don't miss. These halls have become my stalking grounds, and if you think you're a bad enough predator to take me on, come get some.

The name just says it all, I think. Have any of you held a real gun in your hands, or gotten elbow-deep in cleaning fluid when you were done shooting it? If you're smart and actually make some money, the first thing you'll buy is an olfactory cutout.

I'm pretty sure literally every one of you in the school has sent me a friend invitation since Thursday. It's kind of scary, I'll be perfectly honest, I had to whip up a script to batch refuse them.

Let me just say this, guys: being a changeling isn't all it's cracked up to be. The downsides at least balance the upshots evenly, and if SURGE hits you hard, well, I'm about the best you can hope for. Some poor motherfuckers wind up with insect eyes and worse.

Being an Elf rocks, though.

How do you bloody do it? I couldn't even clear four hurdles in gym on Friday, and I'm pretty sure that when the coach told me to just jog around the track, some of you were quadruple and even quintuple lapping me. Are you all on something, or do you just take coffee intravenously?

You know, I can sort of agree with your message. The Sixth World does, in some ways, fellate the gigantic stallion. But for f**k's sake, do you have any idea how depressing you guys are to see? Are you - are you actually trying to make everyone else in the school as miserable as you are?

I have a suggestion: start off small, and put an article of clothing that reflects a significant amount of electromagnetic radiation between 1013hz and 1015hz, and do experiment to find what makes you smile, like music or games or academic excellence or positive reinforcement of some sort. We can go from there.

Zo paused, shaking her head; a group of blonde girls were walking down the corridor, and she flashed the zoom on her cybereyes up high, determining in an instant that it was Eden Masden and her honeybees. Deciding the time was not right for a confrontation, she turned and slipped into the first room she found nearby, closing the door. The lock was quick to subvert, being that it was mechanical, and she tugged the shade down on the door before the honeybees could draw close.

Eat that, she thought, flicking the light off. In the early morning, seattle drizzle; with a dark gray overcast outside and the overhead LEDs off, Liara was the brightest light in the room, which suited her just fine, between the glowing lines on her clothes and the bioluminescent light coming off the dappled pattern which lights up like pinpoint freckles on her face, larger dappled dots running down the sides of her face and neck, into her jumpsuit.

"Are any of you paying any attention to the meat," she asked, without even looking back; she didn't need to. She sensed the vigorous Matrix presence of the baker's half-dozen of Blinkenlights in the room. Most would presume she was running a high-rating Sniffer program that alerted her to nearby Matrix traffic, and they would not be wrong. None could know that she was innately sensitive to the electric impulses of wireless transmissions and the electromagnetic current of power running through their commlinks, both well within her sensory range.

The slender youth turned to the Blinkenlights in the room, eyes flicking over them. Most of them did not impress themselves upon her one way or another; ordinary blinkies, lost in augmented or virtual reality, huddling like natives around a digital wise-woman. In size she was nothing spectacular, barely larger than Zo herself, but she was possessed of more adult proportions, wearing a dressCODE CYBERPIRATE jacket similar to Liara's own. She had some means, then, and anyone with a fondness for Matrix gear who could afford to splurge on dressCODE had to be slinging something fairly nice, hardware wise. Her eyes took on an unnatural shine, black with a white iris and corona, as she approached the Blinkies, her public PAN features resolving to their scrutiny: not ostentatiously overdone, but she is carrying a virtual pet in the form of what appears to be some kind of living fuzzball peering with large, matching eyes out at those she looks at, as she walks over to the corner.

"Hi. I'm Zo, but people are starting to call me Liara", she both says and transmits to Hex, while querying the other elf's PAN and searching the school and locality's social media for data on her. She smiles as she greets the other tech-head. Do you shake hands? Some people don't like it, and I don't wanna look like a right tit - or a left tit - by being left hanging.
Colt stops talking to ork sitting beside him when the beautiful elf enters the class room and stares wide eye at her with his mouth dropped open to the floor.
After the initial shock wears off he composes himself and tries to not gawk at her as she makes her way into the class room.

Catching her eye he see's the intelligence behind them.... he give's her a sly wink and nod as if saying "whats up" before turning back to the ork, continuing his conversation about last nights news on the Shadowrunners that hit the Ares lab.

Once done talking with the ork, Colt stands and makes his way over to the two ladies and sits down in a bean bag cushion close by them and introduces himself.

Hello there ladies wink.gif the names Colt Seavers.... but my friends call me Lobo
Lobo is polite and sincere with his introduction and tries to give his best smile without showing to much gums!

Lobo is tall standing 6' 3" and weighing almost 220 lbs, he has a athletic/muscular build for a teenager... he has chestnut brown hair that he keeps combed over and parted to his right side with the sides and back trimmed close, his eyes are beautiful light-verdant green and when the light hits them just right they have a sorta glow to them. His complexion is slightly tan and he's clean shaven.

When Daiyu entered the room, it was as if a shadow passed through the open door. Shrouded from head to toe in shades of black and grey, the lack of color was even more pronounced against her almost snow white skin. The diaphanous grey material of her shirt was sheer enough to expose the lacy black bra underneath and the glitter of the metal piercing that dangled from her navel as it swirled around her as she walked.

She kept to the edges of the room, choosing her path that put the most distance between her and the other students that were for the most part immersed either in the VR of their studies or the Matrix. To those that looked up when she entered, she flashed them the best look of disdain that she could muster. She tended to like the rooms filled with the Clones, occasionally shed settle on the classrooms filled with Blinkies if she could get over the smell. Either way they tended to leave her alone in the meat to put forth just enough effort to get by in her classes to satisfy her parents demands.

Daiyu mused over the message that waited for her when she re-entered the educational environment VR.

Special Guidance Professional. How perfectly dreadful, cant imagine what triggered that result, it wasnt like I was trying to answer the questions seriously
The classrooms still exist, because the structure of old buildings which are really expensive to replace doesn't change that quickly. Nowadays there isn't a teacher presiding over every classroom so much as technology, run remotely by the school system's bureaucracy. In effect, the school is broadly supervised by what amounts to a few security riggers. Of course, the riggers do have things like voice tone analysis to predict where trouble might be, and there is a discipline response team which they call upon to break up fights or other sorts of trouble.

In each classroom, as has been the case for many years, the kids tend to segregate themselves into their groups naturally, so a haphazard cluster of blinkies or a hyperventilating caucus of hollies is perfectly normal. More outgoing ones do drift around, of course, and the darker corners can usually be found to contain the washouts.

As far as the actual personnel managing the school, they are naturally rather well known to the kids. There are the maintenance folks (who contain the bulk of the metahumans, including trolls and dwarves who take very little crap indeed), the secretarial and management staff, and then the specialist groups like remedial teachers, tutors, and so on. This means that almost everyone except the freshman class knows perfectly well that Melinda Xavier isn't a regular member of the staff, but probably some kind of consultant.

The old desks which were used for lecture-format classes are largely gone in favour of reclining chairs or even beanbags more suitable for VR. It's supposed to make the school feel more comfortable, but given the hard-wearing, institutional nature of the fabrics and structures chosen, it looks like a rehab facility crossed with an airport departure hall.
Since she got the message about the Special Guidance Professional, Zo has been running a matrix data search on her, putting her average skills and white-hot commlink to work in AR, searching and sifting results, almost automatically. She defaulted to searching the entire Matrix, so the Interval is 1m.

Interval 1: 4 successes
Interval 2: 3 successes
Interval 3: 2 successes
Interval 4: 5 successes
Interval 5: 4 successes
Interval 6: 2 successes
Interval 7: 3 successes
Interval 8: 3 successes

After eight minutes, she either knows what there is to know about miss Melinda Xavier, or has called off the search as a thorough waste of time hunting a ghost. Fortunately, that search can happen easily in the background, her attention easily divided between running the search and walking down the halls, ducking Eden Madsen, and entering a room in which to turn down the lights.
QUOTE (ShadowDragon8685 @ Oct 23 2013, 07:50 PM) *
After eight minutes, she either knows what there is to know about miss Melinda Xavier, or has called off the search as a thorough waste of time hunting a ghost. Fortunately, that search can happen easily in the background, her attention easily divided between running the search and walking down the halls, ducking Eden Madsen, and entering a room in which to turn down the lights.

Honestly, it doesn't take particularly long to pin down Melinda Xavier. She has a substantial record as an academic in the field of abnormal developmental psychology, with a stint in incarcerated populations and another in profiling and research into early identification and treatment. Basically, your fairly typical psychiatrist. Why she's involved in guidance counsel work now is not entirely clear, but there is something about her joining the Tacoma Education Authority as a consultant in a joint delinquency reduction push with various other departments as well as Knight Errant.

Presumably she's here to help kids get their feet on the first rung of that career ladder so that they can reach for bigger and better things. The taxpayers' dollars, hard at work.
Folding down into the Lotus position as she sank rather gracefully to the floor with her back against the wall of the classroom, Daiyu shot a quick message over to Kim to see if her assessment results came back.

Got the youve got an artistic side, youll be taking these classes..blah blah blah. You?

She chewed mindlessly on her almost black, blood red lips while she formulated her response. The flurry of messages pinging back and forth amongst the Washouts was starting to produce a pattern, one that she most obviously fell well outside the curve. No one had received anything like she had, no other mandatory meetings with a guidance drone from the Administration. It raised her hackles a little and put her on edge as she shot a message back to her best friend after what they had done to Starling.

Some total crap message about meeting a guidance pro next week. Never heard of her though Maybe I finally failed their psych eval afterall. :\
Bit by bit the general news filters through. There's a very small crowd who get the special appointment. Maybe a dozen, school-wide.

Most of them were already headed for some kind of special treatment, like the kid who likes to put kittens in trash cans and set them on fire. Or the wabbit who was repeatedly caught on the principal's desk, leaving various excretions. Or the ork girl who got pregnant (apparently deliberately), and then made a huge stink about metahuman rights and orkish culture when the administration got upset.

And a few more normal-seeming ones, like Daiyu, or Colt, for example.
Rio's mood is not improved by being blown off. Junior class, huh? She'd show him junior class. Rio curls her hand into a fist, smashing an opponent's skull with her warhammer in World of Wonderland. The spray of virtual blood almost makes her feel better.

Her sulking is interrupted by a ping from the periphery of the AR display in her glasses and a vague awareness that someone is looming over her. Still in a bad mood, she responds with her very best blank stare, while the emotitoy hanging around her neck chatters indignantly and throws a rude hand gesture. One or two of the blinkies glance curiously at it before returning to their torpor.

Not bothering to get up, she leans forward and grabs Liara's foot casually. When this does not produce the AR window she was looking for, she frowns and pokes the unresponsive shoe before realizing her mistake and rolling her eyes. "Can I help you with something." Her voice is flat and rusty from disuse.
"Uhhh... Sorry?"

Zo is taken aback - slightly, anyway - by the grip (and poke) on her boot. It's not often she can be said to loom over anything except young children and small animals, and is nonplussed for a moment, quickly searching for the Matrix trails to Rio's attention, as her earlier messages seemed not to get her attention.

This better? Sorry, I figured someone wearing a dressCODE jacket would be paying a little more attention to the meat. Her Matrix message pops up in its own window in Rio's line of sight, translucently overlaid atop her World of Wonderland battlefield, in such a way as to get her attention, but not as to distract her from the slaughter that's to be done.

I just came over to say hello because you're the only blinkie in this room who looked like they gave a damn what they look like; I'm Zo, or Liara... All the others are clustered around you like six little Indians around a big chief, so I figured you were like, the digital goddess around here. I can, uh, go, if you'd like...

Her turning around after Rio's awkward grab for her foot brings her attention to Colt's introduction, as he walks up towards himself and Rio. His wink on the way over had unnerved her slightly, but she'd brushed it off. Now that he'd approached, though, she looks positively nervous of the tall young man who stands well more than a foot above her. "Um... H-Hello," she says, in the meat, scanning his instant message.

Her eyes snap a picture of Lobo instantly, easily visible despite the fact that she turned out the lights, between the natural glow she herself is putting off, the dreary light that makes it through the clouds outside, and her cybereyes' low-light vision, and she sends a picture of him to Rio, popping up in the AR chat window she opened in the other elf's PAN, along with a message Do you know this guy? He's introducing himself to us... He's the size of a mountain!

To Lobo, however, she does send a message in reply: Hi... I'm Zo Devois, Colt; or if we're going by handles, 'Hi, Lobo. I'm Liara.'

She clearly seems to be unnerved, greatly, by the huge young man approaching her, but trying not to show it.

As she's trying to be polite and civil in the face of feeling nervous - and looking heart-wrenchingly adorable in the process - the results of her Matrix search came back, and she frowns in utter consternation. "Special Guidance Professional," she mutters aloud. "Melinda Xavier? Sounds fishy... She looks like she is who she says she is, though."

Zo fires up her facial recognition software; her general Matrix crawl for Ms. Xavier has brought back an image of Mardis Gras 2061, with Ms. Xavier dancing on a table, festooned with heavy beads. It's more out of mischievous, youthful curiosity than paranoia anymore, when she sets the program and to trawling the Matrix for moving and still images and trid of Mardi Gras 2061 featuring Ms. Xavier. It's a search that will take a while, but it can take place in the background, and her 'link has more than enough processing power to spare.

She walks out of the semicircle of blinkies, a little put off by Rio's cold response and manner, but still hoping she sends a message back by Matrix, walking off through the room, and giving Lobo a wide berth; thinking that perhaps Rio would be more interested in unplugging to attend to the attentions of an older teenager who might be described as "hunky" by those into the large male segment of the population, though she does watch for messages from him, too. Finally, she settles for a small-ish beanbag chair in the back of the room, turning it around to face the back wall as she sits out on it, stretching her legs out.

It isn't until she's seated that she finds herself facing the elf Washout. Her first thought is Awh, fuck. Is she gonna try and hum me out of existence, too? Her second thought it Well, may as well try.

She senses the activity of the youth's commlink, and reasons that she's engrossed in AR. Zo almost pities people who have to rely on simple AR; with her commlink wired directly to her head and her other augs, she has seemingly limitless amounts of attention to spare; some of which she spares looking up and down Daiyu. She certainly wasn't dressed in Matrix Chic the way Rio or herself was; Daiyu went classic Goth, and Zo bit her lip as her eyes ran up and down the pale white elf's practically see-through shirt (aided by the incredible resolution in her eyes) and over her lacy brassiere; down to her feet and back up to the blood-red lips.

Clearly, at least, this was someone who cared what she looked like. May as well try to make introductions. "Hi. I'm Zo." she introduces herself to Daiyu, again both speaking and transmitting it as a text message at the same time. If Daiyu looks up at her in the physical world, she'd find someone who, in the dark, might well pass for an alien; clad head to toe in a dressCODE CYBERPIRATE ensemble, the light-lines trailing down Zo's jacket, trousers, boots and gloves shift from a soft glow red to a bright glowing white, while her face remains a lit up pale blue, with brighter, visibly glowing dots, all beneath a riot of color in her hair, the power of her commlink's transmitter on full to connect directly to the Tacoma RTG for leaving a geode-like multi-loop pattern in a rainbow of colors along the right side of her head, shifting with pulses in the Matrix and the ambient electromagnetic flux caused by the blinkies and other students in the room.

In the Matrix, on the other hand, she tries to put her best foot forward, leading not merely with a chat message but with her avatar, which after the events of last Thursday should surprise approximately nobody to learn that it does, in fact, look to be an Asari, a fact which will be lost on almost everyone except those who like her are intor retro remakes of old games. Still, even if you don't know what it is, it is a pretty fly looking blue alien.
Seeing the Distress he has caused the girl Lobo quickly sends her a text on his commlink apologizing for blunt introduction.
Hey sorry about that, sometimes when something catches my eye I just react... and you certainly caught my attention.
So what's your story little lady? You don't exactly fit the profile around here... you stick out like a sore thumb?
I'm just looking to make some new friends so if I can ever be of any help just let me know.

Lobo sends the hot goth bunny a text also.
You know you're the hottest thing since sunburn girl! hell sliced bread ain't got nothing on you...
Names Colt Seavers, but my friends call me Lobo. And it would be my honor to hangout with you and maybe catch movie or get a cup soykaf and talk.
I'll be in touch unless you shut me down... and if you ever need anything just let me know.

Lobo busy himself by logging in to World of Wonderland and quickly finding Rio and tagging a long beside her killing stuff and exploring.
He introduces himself and is just overall helpful and friendly and plays only chatting if she seems in the mood to chat, otherwise he just follows her around helping and allowing her to tag mobs first unless she sends him a invite to group up.
Zo is busy trying to introduce herself to Daiyu, finding the much-taller elf to be very fascinating, and rather attractive. Fortunately, she can multi-task very well, thanks to her attention coprocessor and speed-of-thought reception of messages.

I get that a lot, she replies to Lobo, whilst waiting and hoping for some response from Daiyu.
I look like I look, and that's really all these is to it. All that I want to go into, anyway. I know I don't fit into any 'mold.' I might argue that nobody truly fits a mold.

She doesn't frown (as she is facing Daiyu, and doesn't want to mistakenly be seen to be frowning at her,) but does find this a bit consternating.
How does one say that large men taking an interest in me is usually creepy, she thinks to herself.

Sorry, I just... Things like the wink, and 'little lady,' from men your size, tend to make me nervous. You're huge, and I'm kind of the exact opposite. My story, such as it is, is that I'm from Boston, and now I live in Seattle and I don't know anybody here... So it's good to meet someone. Sorry I got skeevy on you.
I get that a lot actually, people don't know how to take me and are surprised I'm actually a geek at heart.
In due course the image search starts to bear fruit, picking Melinda Xavier out in several pictures which pop up, one by one, in Liara's AR.

Melinda is reliably in the company of various people, all of whom are identified as members of the Lone Star Controlled Population Management Team - in other words, the prison wardens who keep bad people away from the civilised world. Given the nature of her research, this is not a terribly surprising group of associates.

She does seem to be on quite good terms with them, laughing and dancing and drinking as befits Mardi Gras.
The apology from Zo calms Rio down. (Being referred to as a 'digital goddess' doesn't hurt either. Rio firmly believes that the blinkies are a meritocracy; she's the best Matrix jockey, therefore she should be the leader. The others don't always see eye-to-eye with her on this.) She doesn't always mean to be brusque with people, but social skills don't come easily to her. She takes a closer look at Zo's icon, whistling quietly to herself as it pings back with impressive speed.

(Matrix Perception: 3. She's looking for Zo's icon's attributes, to get an idea of the kind of setup she's running. Same test for Colt, 2 hits.)

Rio's own stick-figure icon waves cautiously at Zo through AR. What does my clothing have to do with the degree of attention I pay to the meatworld? she messages back, genuinely curious. No, I do not know this guy. He is unusually large. She lets Lobo do his thing in Wonderland, eyeing him warily but not making contact.

Distracted by her game, Rio just now learns what everyone else already seems to know: there's a new low to the career opportunities test, and she's in it. Okay, she spends most of her time screwing off and does her classwork via automated scripts, but... the kitten guy? Really? A quick Matrix search confirms that this appears to be legit, and not a prank pulled by another blinkie. She has a meeting with a counselor. She's one of the no-hopers.

She'll have to do something about that appointment. Maybe later, though. For now, she crafts a text response to Papa Gotcha, suddenly more motivated to be seen as something other than teenage trash. I'm reliable. And I'm good. And... She minimizes her World of Wonderland window for a moment and actually looks at Zo, taking in the datajack and expensive clothes. I think I might have access to some resources as well. People who take jobs like this have to start somewhere.

There is a delay of a short while before Rio gets a response from Papa Gotcha.

You got brass ones, kid. Lucky for you, I kinda like that. Unlucky for you, it don't prove drek. If you aren't just blowing smoke, bring your chummers to ... His eyes glance aside for a bit here while he apparently checks a map, or a calendar, or a practical joke list. Bring 'em to the parking lot of Logger's, in eastern Tacoma. You'll find it on a location search, anyways. Four o' clock, sharp. Gottit? I gotta smell the food before I buy it. But tell 'em drinks are on me.

His tone was a little less jovial this time, a bit harder, but clearly businesslike. The face of a man who gets things done.

Logger's is easy to find in a conventional location search. It's a registered eating and alcohol sales establishment in a downmarket, blue collar industrial zone. The security rating is listed as D, which pretty much means that Knight Errant and their colleagues don't care about bar fights, stabbings, or rape as long as it wasn't anyone important and no news crews are around. On the other hand, panoptic surveillance in that area is highly unlikely.

School lets out at around 2PM, nominally, with many extracurriculars extending the day to 3PM or later. Making it to Logger's by 4PM would be possible by bus (it's on a couple of routes) or very easy by private vehicle, with time left over to drop by somewhere else on the way.

Local weather reports suggest that the weather there, at 4PM, is likely to be around 12C, light rain, 5m/s wind gusting to 10m/s from the SW.
Zo isn't running stealth, so probing her icon isn't hard. She's running something hot: Response 6, Firewall 6, Signal 6, and System 6. It refuses to report back its exact make/model/OS... But she doesn't appear to be wearing a commlink, or using AR goggles/glasses.

Hey, are you probing me? Zo's avatar pops up in Rio's AR display, sticking her tongue out, and Zo responds with a probe of her own.

Matrix Perception: 2 hits. Crap roll, but it should suffice to get Rio's attributes and find out what she's playing.

I thought the blue space alien was supposed to be the one doing the probing.

Zo's avatar giggles at Rio, in their chat. That jacket costs 500 nuyen.gif - I figured that if you spent that much on a jacket, you liked looking good and being noticed for it. Zo shifts a fraction of a moment and an inch in her beanbag chair as she composes the reply, lightning fast. You do, you know - look nice with it on, in this light. Your hair's crazy and wild. It'd look fierce if it fluoresced under UV light. She's not quite tactless enough to suggest that Rio might want to spend some time in a tanning bed, though.

World of Wonderland, huh? I used to play it, but I deleted it and let the account go fallow when I heard word they were going to start banning people who were using nude patches and the like - did that ever happen, or was it just talk? It would've been pretty pointless without those patches... And I found out I prefer sci-fi MMOs anyway. Hey, do you play Miracle Shooter? It's one of the AR games I play - maybe Pokmon? Ultraviolet/Infrared, or maybe Radioactive? As she sends that query, she pops an icon of a classic red and white Pokball, an icon of youthful gaming for over seventy years, up in the chat window. What about full-sim VR games, you've gotta play something.

As she makes that query, the AR pet she was carrying on her shoulder unloads itself, and those watching her PAN or running any current-gen Pokmon AR game (such as Ultraviolet, Infrared, or Radioactive), would see an iconic character of classic gaming appear at her side; a bright yellow Pikachu, wearing Super Mario's cap, a rare promotional, cosmetic item available primarily by hacking the game stats (or theoretically, from certain promotional events held primarily in Japan,) with glowing, radioactive-green stripes and cheek spots, indicating that this particular Pokmon is both powerful and has been trained up from an egg. (Or has been edited.) Those running the game would see that she has hers set not to allow spontaneous combat initiation, but is accepting challenges from all and sundry.

And about Lobo... I dunno about him. He's huge. I'm not sure if he was hitting on me or not, but if so... Yikes. He's definitely not my type. Then again, maybe he just has weird standards of friendliness. Did he hit on you, or ambiguously greet you, or something?

While she's at it, she probes Daiyu's rig, and Lobo's, querying them for their Matrix attributes and any games they may be running, but she fires up her Stealth 6 program for just the time it takes to do so, to conceal the probe without going invisible.

Probe Daiyu: 3 Successes
Probe Lobo: 4 Successes
Even if she had been fully submersed in her AR, there would have been no way to miss Zo. From her hair to her boots she was a riot of color in the chair before her. Daiyu blinked a couple of times putting two and two together to realize this must be the new girl some of the other Washouts had been harassing the other day. While she didnt appreciate the fact that Zo had decked one of her clan, she could respect that the girl had stood up for herself and in turn she nodded to her in acknowledgement.

Im Daiyu, welcome to SouthEast Tacoma High. Seems like youre already creating quite the reputation around here.

Daiyu was about to continue her conversation when Colts message popped up into her field of vision. She held up a finger to Zo to hold a sec while she fired off a response that wasnt a complete blow-off to Colt, but at least put him in his place. Colt was easy on the eyes, but hardly her type.

Original pick-up lines. Come back at me when youve got something more creative than a kindergartener would come up with.

She turned all her attention back to Zo, picking up on their conversation back in the meat as she didnt particularly like spending any more time in AR or VR than necessary.

So where were we? Daiyus voice is soft, almost melodious even when she speaks only a few words.
Zo had been about to fire off a message in response, when Daiyu held her finger up. She blinked, waiting while Daiyu shot a reply to Colt, monitoring her ongoing image search, before looking back to the pale elf when she speaks again.

"Well, I just realized I don't know how to pronounce your name," Zo says. "Daiyu? Die-yu? Day-yu?" She got it right the first time, unbeknownst to her, as she chews over the name; either way, she smiles, leaning forward.

"I'm glad someone can just say hello to the weird girl, though," she murmurs, her voice high and friendly. She extends her right hand to Daiyu, her skin clearly visible in the dark room, light pale blue with brighter, dappled spots on the back of her hand, vanishing up under her jacket at her wrist. "I don't suppose you're into any AR games? Do you happen to know who Melinda Xavier is? She doesn't appear to be a member of the staff here."
She politely took the proffered pale blue Elfs hand and shook it firmly, a hint of warmth touching her blue eyes though a smile never touched her lips.

Not really into the gaming scene, not my thing. Daiyu shrugged slightly before her face darkened ever so slightly at the mention of Melinda Xavier before she shook her head.

Dont have a clue who she is actually. Never heard of her before today. Did you get one of those invitations as well?

Even if in any other circumstance, Daiyu might not have given Zo the time of day, the sheer fact that she might be in the same boat as herself and some of the others intrigued her and warranted further conversation with the uber bright new girl.
Zo seems a little crestfallen as Daiyu admits to not playing any VR games, but she shakes nontheless. Her grip isn't very strong, but she seems most of all pleased by the contact, shaking with a smile. Her own hand feels cooler than Daiyu's.

"Yeah," she admits, with a shrug and a sigh, parroting, "You have an exciting set of career options before you. An appointment has been made with a special guidance professional for you, next week." She rolls her alien-like eyes, a visible gesture of contempt. "Horizontally, maybe," she derides the notion. "But I don't even think Seattle's depraved enough to arrange a guidance counselor to explain that, so... I wonder what it's about? From what I gather on the school's social media, it's the... Well... Did that guy really... On the admin's desk? And a kitten, in a bucket?"

Zo shakes her head, and lets go of Daiyu's hand, but she tugs the beanbag chair close, tucking her legs alongside Daiyu's, leaning in to conspiratorially converse with her. "I've been running a deep search on her. It's not good," she murmurs. "I was half-expecting her to be a ghost, an alias, but it's worse; she's a headshrink with a degree in kids growing up - developmental psychology," she explains, with another roll of her eyes, "and she likes to do research on convicts. She's also been doing research into early identification and treatment, presumably of criminality... And now she's working for the Tacoma education board as a consultant, listed as working in 'a joint delinquency reduction push with various other departments and Knight Errant.'"

Zo gives that a moment to sink in. "It gets worse, though. I found a pic of her in New Orleans in 2061, at Mardi Gras, and I've been running a deep background search on that time, looking for any media with her face in it." Zo shrugs. "I was hoping for some drunken topless selfies courtesy of the vodka fairy... And I'm still holding out some hopes for that," she admits, "but I quickly got clusters of hits on team snaps with a bunch of goons called the Lone Star Controlled Population Management Team."

Zo sighs. "My guess? They've singled us out those of us they expect to be incarcerated and this is a scam cover for some kind of study." It's honestly hard to say that Zo can look anything but angelic, as there is something simply breathtaking about her that could tug on the heartstrings of a sociopath, but she looks adorably rankled by that.

"I don't like it," she says, pouting. "Something's fishy." Her eyes change, going from black with white flecks to a crystalline blue, with inhumanly tall, catlike irises, surrounded by flecks of gold. "Something's fishy, and it makes me nervous," she admits. "I just got here, I don't even have a record, so why are they singling me out? And why would they single you out, either," she asks, with a shrug, glancing down Daiyu's body. "You don't look much different than any other, uh... You know, girl into your style of fashion," she says, not wanting to say 'Washout' aloud, lest Daiyu take offense.

"I mean, it's not like we're doing anything heinous with small, defenseless animals or helpless desks or anything."

Zo starts another search on the school's social media, as well as that of outside social media linked to the school, actively searching to alert her and save anything with the text of the "exciting set of career options" line as well as anything with Melinda Xavier's name or face. "I'm gonna keep watching out for it all. I have a bad feeling about this," she admits to the taller, older elf. Then she bites her lip, and leans back, composing a comm-message to her aunt.

Hey, Cynth? I just got some weird-ass B.S. by the school's career guidance questionnaire. Most kids got something about vocational training or academic training, a few got poached by the UCAS military and five hyperventilating artistics got singled out for art studies stuff... But I got a load of crap: "You have an exciting set of career options before you. An appointment has been made with a special guidance professional for you, next week."

I thought it was fishy, like some kind of corp or shadowy thing, so I did a deep background search on the counselor... I'd almost rather it was a company man recruitment drive. The lady's name is Melinda Xavier.
Zo copies Cynthia anything she has thus far and ongoing updates; if nothing else, she knows her aunt would get as much of a kick out of any drunken selfies by the headshrink as she would.

Evidently she's been at this a while. Have you heard of her, or maybe know of anyone who's heard of her, or seen her? It's not urgent, I don't think - it's probably just some head-shrink who's going to try and give me a load of bulldrek, probably targeted me as being at high risk of criminality on account of, well, you, and mom and dad being incarcerated. Some of the others they've targeted are real hard/headcases; one guy likes to file his bodily excrections on the admin's desk (I mean, who hasn't been tempted, but actually fucking doing it?!); This other guy's a fucking psychopath who set a kitten on fire in a bucket on school grounds, someone should probably just put a bullet through him now, dump him down in Puyallup and save his future victim's lives now; Then there's some Ork girl who got pregnant so she could raise a stink about metahuman rights and ork culture when the administration tried to talk to her about it... But there's also 'normal' girls, like this goth Elf I just met.

Anyway, it's probably nothing and it's not urgent; I'm just in for an uncomfortable talk, and they've probably pegged me for participation in some kind of study, given her background. I just thought you'd like to know, and I'd ask if you'd heard of her before. She looks like she's still your type, and definitely was back then.

Thinking for a moment, Zo encrypts the message, contents and data stream, then data bombs them, before she sends it.

Encryption: 5 successes
Data Bomb: 2 successes
Colt see's the girls for what they are and gets up and walks away leaving out the class room.

Colt ends up heading outside the school and gets on his Indian Pathfinder and rides off.
Zo's attention is drawn by movement, and she turns to look up at Colt as he leaves. Raising her eyebrow, she sends him an AR message, Lobo? You late for a class or something? but to her consternation, she finds he's blocked her messages.

Frowning in puzzlement, she looks back to Daiyu. "That was weird," she murmurs with ambivalent shrug. "He just blocked me."

To Rio, she sends an AR message; Did Lobo just bail on us? He blocked me. What'd you say to him; did he block you?
Hop moved casually through the corridors, vaguely wondering where he was supposed to be. In the periphery of his vision Beth floated like a ghost, watching what he was seeing through his comm feed.

@Pulse [Hop]: Look at this shithole theyve dragged us to! Im struggling to imagine something worse! I know you cant tell me where you are but its got to be better than this hasnt it?

@Hop [Pulse]: I guess, we spend most of our time in VR so I suppose I dont notice much.

@Pulse [Hop]: I mean, look at this juvenile crap
indicating some of the prevalent AR graffiti I know we used to tag stuff but frag!

@Hop [Pulse]: Chill sweetie, itll be ok! Ive got to go
static begins to fill the line love you

@Pulse [Hop]: Love you too
but she was gone. Damn, now I need to deal with this on my own! Lets see if I can find the other newbie, cant be that hard to find a glowing blue girl.

When he eventually tracked her down he was dismayed to find that she was talking to one of the washouts! He had no time for their dreary outlook or morbid obsessions. Still, nothing ventured and all that

Hi, Im Hop

He's average height and build, dark, messy hair but the key detail for the observant is the chromed datajack behind his left ear (trailing a cable to an otherwise unremarkable 'link). The job looks custom, good quality, with engraved sigils that on the face of it make no sense at all...
Rio stares blankly at her hands. Did I just promise a guy who's at least strongly rumored to be a Shadowrunner a... team of some kind? Today? Even for someone used to thinking fast, this takes a moment to sink in.

She gets over her shock quickly, though. This is an opportunity, much more than she was expecting. Sure, she's making everything up as she goes along, but that's always worked for her before.

First things first. Rio shoots a quick message back to Papa Gotcha: We'll be there. She takes another moment to craft a reply to Zo; suddenly it's important that her subpar social skills not anger the blue girl. They did ban the nude patches, but if you're any good it's easy to get around. I don't know what's up with that guy. I didn't say anything to him. I'll take your team on, but maybe later? I've got to take care of something. Finally, she activates a farming script for her World of Wonderland character and minimizes the AR window, instructing it not to bother her.

Rio stretches and runs her hands through her spiky inch of black hair, checking the positioning of her trodes. She sinks back, resting casually against the prone body of another blinkie as, with a mental command, she sinks into cold-sim VR. The sudden vast white field overtaking her visual field is as comforting as ever. This is where she belongs. Another command, quick as thought, pulls up her Stealth and Exploit programs. In her current minimalist Matrix theme, they're white origami structures, Stealth a hat and Exploit a throwing star. Rio puts on the hat, and her stick-figure icon fades to white, disappearing against the plain white background of her reality filter.

She's already subscribed to the school's node; now to get a proper account. Rio pulls a blank white wall out of the material of the node. Seen up close, the firewall appears to be made of origami sections as well. Rio sets to work with her paper throwing star, working it between the folds of the wall and cutting. She moves quickly, trusting her own Stealth program and the ultra-quiet throwing star to keep the node from noticing her efforts until she gets what she needs.

In the meat world, she hums quietly as she works, smiling. Presumably there are others who got mistakenly put onto the guidance list. They're as likely to listen to this crazy half-plan as anyone.

(Exploit tests for Rio's first turn (three initiative passes): 3 hits, 6 hits, 6 hits vs. the school's Firewall. Rio's Stealth is 5, and she has the Mute option on her Exploit program.)

The school's firewall is state of the art, top notch equipment by the standards of 2065 - which is to say that it folds like a cheap chair before Rio. Moments later the origami firewall bends open and affords her access. Behind it is a mess of nodes, with drifting strips of paper talismans repesenting programs, inscriptions of data hanging as scrolls, and tangram-like figures which seem to be teachers and agents carting around data or inscribing scrolls.
Rio's stick-figure icon has no face, but there's a certain triumphant cast to its stride as it steps through the wall, still shielded by the Stealth hat. She pulls a scroll from nowhere and opens it partially; text runs continuously across the open surface, constantly updating as her Analyze program catalogs its surroundings. She sends a command to the now-open node, ordering it to bring her the results of the career assessment from earlier.
A talismanic paper sheet wafts off on an unseen virual breeze and returns in a mere moment after drifting through an origami pagoda's open structure. On its way back it trails a scroll which it deposits in Rio's white paper hands, and its data drifts in columns across her scroll. The columns are in black, brush drawn characters, except for the Incipient Sociopathic Criminality column, which is in scarlet.

Rio sees her own name there, and Colt's, and a few others.

At the bottom of the columns are the protocols:
Artistic training ... academic training ... institutionalisation.
Zo assumes that Daiyu must be mulling over what she told her, and leans back in the chair, blinking.

@Rio: Weird, that Lobo guy. I dunno, though, he kind of - oh my god. I just got it... Her avatar appears in VR next to Rio, as a ghostly image, facepalming for a moment. I think he got upset because I left him to speak with Daiyu. I think that means he was interested in me... All of a sudden, I'm kind of relieved he is gone... Anyway, I see you just went VR, so if you're up to some shenanigans, I wanna hear about it later, maybe when we get a chance to battle.

As she finishes sending her message to Rio, Zo starts to wonder what she should do when her conversation with Daiyu is concluded, hoping it concludes well; weighing the merits of dropping into cold sim to track Rio down in the 'trix and join her in getting up to no damn good, dropping into cold sim and cranking through some course-work, or heading out in the meat to track down Eden Madsen for the express purpose of antagonizing the bitch and her honeybee squad, or dropping into VR to antagonize her over the trix.

Her consideration is interrupted as Hop appears, though, and she blinks up at him. He's considerably smaller than Lobo was, but the tiny blue girl still shies a bit from him, snapping his pic and sending it to Rio. Know this one, too? He just came up to me, she sends to Rio, as she looks up at Hop.

She pushes herself up on the beanbag chair, as the ARO that is her Radioactive Pikachu climbs up on her back, to her shoulder; an open invite to anyone running a Pokmon game, and visible to anyone who simply scrutinizes her PAN. "Hi... I'm Zo," she responds to him, raising a hand. "Do we know each other? From a 'trix game or something?"
Rio quickly makes a copy of the scroll, grabs a copy of the school's master schedule just to have it, and leaves the node before any of the tangram agents notice her. There will be time to goggle over what she's found when she's safely back in her own comm.

Back in the meat world, she opens her eyes slowly. Institutionalization. Can they [do that? All the students were SINners, after all. They had to have some rights. She shakes her head slightly, trying to clear her thoughts. Specific fate aside, it's clear the school has no intention of treating them as though they have any kind of future. For some reason, the knowledge stings, even though she's spent the last four years cultivating precisely that image.

Don't know him either, she sends back to Zo. You could charge for sightseeing. Let's... yeah, we'll talk. Hang on a second.

Rio goes through the 'Incipient Sociopathic Criminality' list, cross-referencing each name with a photo from the school's public database. Should have pulled disciplinary records while I was in there. Even without the benefit of records, there are some names that can be excluded by reputation alone: Kittenburner, Excrement Guy, a few others. Some of the remaining names have to be considered more carefully, but Rio errs on the side of caution. In her expert opinion (cursory knowledge of Shadowrunner trids), you didn't want more than a small group anyway. Colt she considers, but eventually decides she'd rather have Zo, and they don't seem to get along.

The remaining handful of names get an unadulterated copy of the list, an explanation of where it came from, and a short message: Meet me in the parking lot of Logger's at 4:00 if you want to be more than this. Rio settles back into her pile of blinkies, pulls up her World of Wonderland window, and waits for the school day to end.

Zo reads the information she was given, and has to try hard not to snarl at the boy who just introduced himself to her, and snaps off a response to Rio.

@Rio: Institutionalization? They're just taking it for granted we're going to wind up in jail - or are they actually planning to put us there preemptively?! This is bulldrek!

Anger flares within her, and she fights to keep control of her emotions, even as her commlink automatically parses Hop's face from the list, matching it to the picture she just took, and she blinks at him; she's sure he's just gotten it. Daiyu's on there too.

"What the actual fuck," she asks, aloud, shaking her head and turning back to Daiyu. "What the fuck," she asks, sounding and looking all the more adorably compelling for the simmering anger. "They profiled us? As sociopaths - for... For what?! Can you believe this?"
At this last outburst, including the word: "sociopaths" a few heads turn. It is more interesting than ploughing through a series of planning tools or banal announcements on school policy. A couple of shadowcrawlers like the word, and start a mock fight over who is more sociopathic, but the fact is that on the whole most of the kids just don't seem to find the topic all that remarkable, and their attention drifts quickly back to their own eternal teen drama.
As Daiyu digested not only the information that Zo was spitting out at her a mile a minute, but the message sent from Rio about the list they were all on and now someone else introducing themselves out of the blue, it was enough to make her sick to her stomach. How was she going to explain this to her parents?!? All she could do was shake her head at Zo and spare a glance up at Hop that probably appeared far too suspicious than she meant it to.

Who are you? As she studied the boy in front of them with her head tilted slightly, she chewed her lip.

It wasnt long before that thing happened again, where her normally grey and drab world flashed with color for an instant. She was getting more and more convinced she was going to have to get a new pair of contacts, or have someone take a look at her commlink and her VR filters. Shaking it off she fired off a quick message to Zo.

@Zo [Daiyu]: Are you going to head over to Loggers this afternoon to find out what this is all about?
"Sorry - am I going too fast? I can do that sometimes," Zo apologizes to Daiyu. She shrugs, looking up at the boy who came over to her, and whom Daiyu rather bluntly queried, wondering the answer to that herself, but then looks back to Daiyu.

@Daiyu [Liara]: I don't know. 4 PM is smack in the middle of when I'm supposed to be delivering pizza shop stuff. My aunt got me the job, and I don't want to disappoint her. I think it's her equivalent of chores... But maybe if we could arrange for a pizza delivery to Logger's from the shop I work slinging subs and putzing around with pies...
Daiyu shrugged at Zo over the speed of her conversation as an acceptance of the situation. She got the impression that Hop was just another new kid and not someone to be overly worried about so her guard dropped a few levels and she actually softened her expression.

Sorry for the attitude, its been a weird morning. Everyones on edge with the assessment results coming in. Are you new around here, I dont think Ive seen you before? Her attention is pulled towards the shiny datajack behind his left ear and the contemplation that there are a lot of new students at SouthEast this year. At least she was vaguely aware of who Rio was and given her rep amongst the Blinkies, she was pretty comfortable with the idea that this wasnt some big hoax.

@Zo [Daiyu]: I think we can make an order to Loggers happen so you can crash the party. Want to toss me the contact info so I can place an order later?
Zo nods at Daiyu's shrug, and looks up at Hop when Daiyu asks if he's new, wondering the same herself. He seems to be carefully considering his response to them, however, and she frowns.

"It's so weird," she murmurs. "Why would they tag me like that - I just got to this school. Surely punching one person isn't enough to get you labeled an inveterate hard-case, even if I did punch her in the pussy." Zoe shivers softly. "She was really freaking me out," she admits, and climbs off her beanbag, sliding forward, to the side, and turning around.

The tiny, glowing elf slides up next to Daiyu, frowning. "I'm going to see if I can get to the bottom of it," she whispers, in the taller elf's ear. "And I need to crank on some classwork anyway, before lunch rolls around." She unties her dressCODE CYBERPIRATE boots, taking them off and setting them aside, then rolls up her sheer fabric dress socks, stuffing them in the boots. Even her feet glow, are blue, and bear the same dappled pattern of spots straight down the outsides of her ankles. She tugs the beanbag chair close, into her lap, and leans straight into Daiyu's side, closing her eyes. "Watch my back, I'll try and get us some answers."

The glowing elf closes her eyes, her head leaning on Daiyu's shoulder, as she goes into full (cold) sim VR. She activates the disposable commlink upon her person, foisting onto it her main commlink's matrix ID numbers as she scrambles her main's AIDs and goes full dark, firing up her Stealth program, and adjusting her suite of active programs. As she's become unnerved by the information Rio revealed to her, the first things she does is go into full paranoia mode, loading the following suite:

Analyze 6 (Ergonomic, Mute); Browse 6 (Ergonomic, Mute); Command 6 (Ergonomic, Mute); Edit 6 (Ergonomic, Mute); Purge 6 (Ergonomic); Reality Filter 6 (Ergonomic); Stealth 6; Decrypt 6; Defuse 6; Disarm; Spoof 6; Armor 6. [Response does not degrade: 6 programs running + 6 Ergonomic Programs running.)

Zo turns off her transmitter entirely, and cuts her disposable commlink (which is connected through her datajack) off at the 'jack, so she may scan her commlink very thoroughly and in private; that is, twice, first giving her commlink a basic, semiautomatic scan (Buying 2 hits,) and then proceeds to give a more thorough search.

If Zo finds any such virii, she uses another shot of Analyze to determine (in order,) what it does, when it was installed, and by whom/what. Then, assuming she found a virus, she mercilessly Purges it. (If she found more than one, well, we'll have to get to them when we get to them.)

Matrix Perception to detect Viruses: 5 Hits
Matrix Perception to Discern Facts About Viruses: 4 Hits
Purge: 2 hits.
(That Purge is likely insufficient, but if there are any viruses, I'll know that and will nail them again until I successfully purge them with fire.)

In her VR world, of course, this all looks quite different. Zo's present reality filter reigns supreme as her own node's sculpting system, so it activates without contest. The world vanishes, even the soft sensation of Daiyu's body against hers, the coarseness of the beanbag chair above her bare feet (and the coldness of the tiles,) the dreary day. The only thing remaining from the real world is audio, as her cyberears remain on, functioning as microphones to let her observe the outside from within.

The world vanishes, and in its place Zo's avatar materializes, stepping out of a door into a brightly-lit city-scape; last week it was a human free-runner, but this week, after the advent of her new handle, she appears as a tall, dark blue Asari, curvaceous and large breasts, all things Zo herself will never be. She went whole-hog with this avatar; initially it loads nude, in glorious, fully-working simsense detailed, but clothing materializes around the avatar as she steps out; pale red hotpants and a matching tight tanktop with a matching glove on her right hand and tabi on her feet, but they're quickly overwritten by her Armor program, which materializes as a set of medium-weight, full-body science-fiction armor.

When her Stealth program loads up, the avatar blurs, and then cloaks out of sight altogether; the rest materialize in aggregate as individual functions of a left forearm-mounted bracer computer/tool. This was Zo's own domain, and she was queen here. She walks to the edge of the rooftop she's on, viewing the city. With this being the inside of her own commlink, the city was a freerunner's playground, entirely open to her; programs were represented as gigantic, science-fiction installations, either on rooftops or as entire skyscrapers unto themselves, data files were enormous computer archives, contacts were an enormous, pulsing, science-fiction transmission array from which she could send or receive conversations. And all of it was hers - and now, spooked as she has been by the information Rio gave her, she's worried.

She begins her run, dashing to the edge of the building from which she entered the metaphor and leaping, the glass-sided building she leaps past reflecting her avatar from the many facets of its windows, and as she runs, the holographic tool on her arm lights up, playing golden scanlines across everything she passes, green nonsense symbols raining down them as she scans, the rain turning gold if they're safe; red if a virus or malware is detected.
Zo's search, thorough as it is, does not turn up any virus code or activity. As a matter of fact, aside from the debris of various Matrix games which might still drift around her commlink, there's nothing particularly remarkable there at all. It looks as if the school is either a lot less sophisticated about its intrusions than she thinks - or a lot more.

Somewhere the cost versus liability calculation was doubtless done in a committee meeting, and they decided not to pursue the viral infestation alternative as regards pupil computing devices.
Satisfied that her commlink hasn't been intruded upon, and no intrusion attempts were made and automatically defeated by her firewall, Liara turns her attention outward, to the school's nodes. She's angry, more than a little scared, and wants to get to the bottom of this...

And with any luck, even now Kittenburner and Drekboy will have read the stuff about being singled out and are setting off to commit some activities of not-so-passive resistance to the Man. That would create a hell of a distraction.

Zo summons an air-car taxi from the top of a gigantic library archive in her home node, taking it towards the portal to the outside; far from being the subway tunnel that would take her down her datajack's fiber-optic cable, this enormous thing on the roof of a skyscraper looks like a combination of antenna, hairpin, and modern art, with rotating rings in the hollow at the base where its two tines expand. It was not lit up, but it does so as her aircar approaches. Normally, it glows a steady blue, but now it lights up in coruscating oranges, greens, and reds; she has activated her Nonstandard Wireless transmitter, operating on frequencies outside those normally scanned for.

With the relay active, Zo flies the aircar directly into the relay as the rings in the middle began to rotate. She's sent in a blur of light from the aircar, zooming through the digital aether and landing in the school's Nexus, its primary access node. Her reality filter easily asserts itself over the school's sculpting, and the system renders itself as a city like the one she just departed. She emerges from the similar relay, flipping over and landing on her feet at the edge of the building, walking out along an overhanging metal pole, leaning down to look around.

Zo detects six active, non-stealthed icons on the school grid which are IC, tagging them as targets Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, and Foxtrot. In the school's own sculpting, they're rendered as chibi hall monitors, but they flicker for a moment, coalescing into hovering drones with long arms, various attachments, and spotlights, with images of their chibi hall monitor forms on their dorsal hulls. They hover over and between the rooftops of the city, shining their lights occasionally.

They may not necessarily be here to look for what she's about to do, but Zo needs to make sure they don't get a chance. She starts by assessing their potential, determining the rating of their Analyze programs, their Firewall ratings, their System ratings, and their purpose.
[ Spoiler ]

Of those, Foxtrot is by far the most dangerous; therefore it's most vital that Foxtrot gets as few opportunities to detect what she's doing. She isn't concerned with the hundreds of students jacked in; of them, only Blinkenlights would have any hope in hell of detecting her, running as high a rating Stealth program as she is, and those that would see her are those least likely to snitch. Those students with low-rated comms blink into existence as their avatars, on the streets below, whilst those with higher-rated comms (Blinkies, primarily,) blink into existence as fellow rooftop goers.

Of all the icons in the node, Foxtrot is the largest and hence, scariest. It manifests as a huge hovering drone two meters in diameter. She dashes along the side of the building she manifested on, leaping down to the next, and climbing up a crane on the top of the skyscraper. Dashing out along the crane's boom, she takes another leap, this time at Foxtrot itself; landing on the hoverdrone's dome, a spike of golden, holographic energy erupts from her left fist, and she drives it into the dome-like top of the VR thing. This is her Disarm program, and it goes to work against the IC, specifically, its Analyze program.

[ Spoiler ]
5 IP

That took way longer than it should have, Zo thinks to herself as she finally completes the work, and leaps down from Foxtrot's dome. The drone's Analyze program hasn't been crashed, of course; its spotlights, rather than having broken and busted out, still cast light. It's simply that that light neither illuminates Liara, nor casts a shadow from her; she is completely invisible to it. In short, Foxtrot is literally incapable of perceiving her.

She moves on to the drones in descending order, then; her leap from Foxtrot's dome took her to a rooftop, which she crosses easily owing to its openness, and pauses. She analyzes the main node, to determine if a trace is running, and its alert status; if both are not worrying, she leaps onto Echo. Smaller than Foxtrot, she can barely balance atop the drone, stabbing it with her spike.

[ Spoiler ]
3 IP

That was precisely average, Zo thinks to herself, turning and leaping away, landing on some pipes in a side alley between buildings, clinging on to them. Echo passes by, as Delta comes up the other way, and she repeats the procedure, checking alert/trace status first.

[ Spoiler ]
3 IP

Second verse, same as the first. Liara leaps from Delta's dome, landing atop an elevated maglev, riding it in a whisk around the square city, taking the opportunity to determine alert/trace status, and if all are good, leaping for Charlie. Charlie was an odd duck, an IC with its Analyze program running at a lesser rating than its System. She wasn't sure what to make of that, but decided not to chance it and disarm it anyway.

[ Spoiler ]
2 IP

The pace picking up, Liara leaps from the third of the mid-ranged IC drones, onto the side of a large building, landing on a window washer's platform. She slaps the switch that raises it rapidly to the roof, and proceeds to look around, swapping her spike for her scanner, and checks once more for alert/traces.
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