Dan wanders around seemingly aimlessly but focusing on the random energies of the world to bring him somewhere interesting. He wanders slowly and without apparent focus, drinking occasionally from a large Taco Bell cup. He finds himself somehow at the university, going across the main campus.

<Alison Spektor> sits in the coffee shop on campus corner, the only one there at this time of night currently, her laptop in front of her and a long cold cup of coffee off to the side as she types away.

Dan feels an odd pull towards the coffee shop on the corner and heads in to caffinate himself. Only after placing his order and looking around does he notice a familiar face. One from last time he was in town.

<Alison Spektor> keeps typing for a moment, but as if feeling eyes cast her way she lifts her gaze up over the screen to look. Recognition makes her smile a little and she waves to Dan. “Oh, hey. Long time, no see.”

Dan picks up his coffee and heads over to Alice’s table, puts both cups down and starts drinking the coffee. “Long time no see. I left town for a while, but things seem cool again so I thought it was a good time to come back, I like it here, and things are interesting. How have you been?”

Dan takes a good look at Alice

<Alison Spektor> tilts her head and then smiles a little more warmly. “I don’t blame you. Things got… complicated for a while there. I am alright, keeping busy.”

<Dan> Yeah, it was easier just to be.. somewhere else for a while. But we have some unfinished business that may be best to resolve, but it’s been so long now. Is it still even an issue or has that too resolved itself in the time I’ve been gone?

<Alison Spektor> shakes her head a little bit, she types a few more things up while not taking her eyes off of Dan. “There is a lot more to resolve. Though, those guys from before are still around, they’ve gotten a lot quieter since a bunch of them got blown up.”

<Dan> Yeah, we’re regrouping again. The whole getting blown up thing put a damper in things for a bit, especially for a group that prefers to fly under the radar, as it were.

<Dan> Any updates you can fill me in on?

<Nephthys> keeps odd hours, being what she is. But she had a meeting with someone from the Archeology department, mostly to maintain her cover as being in town to study… But it does mean that maybe there would be some progress towards her ultimate goal. In the meantime she’s several hours early so she’s stopping in the coffee shop.

<Alison Spektor> nods a bit as she listens to him, and types a little more. “A few. You have been on the Network? I found some others as well. That connection will help in the future. Right now something weird is going on with the local cell-signals.”

<Dan> The Network? *he can hear the capitalization in her voice* “I’m not sure what you mean by that. Also, what are you noticing with the phone network? That I can certainly look into” *He pulls his phone out and starts typing at a furious pace*

Dan stares at his phone, looking annoyed as a frown spreads over his face

<Nephthys> orders her coffee and watches the room for a while, letting the caffine mingle with herself

*her tired mind

Dan looks annoyed and punches at his phone a bit harder, then nods and stares at the screen for a bit. “Sorry, thing misbehaves sometimes”

<Alison Spektor> shrugs slightly, but she glances toward the new person and studies her a moment.

<Dan> *looking up from his phone again* “Oh, he Nephthys. I guess you hang out around here sometimes too.”

<Nephthys> nods at Dan “I’ve got an appointment in a bit with the archeology department.” She says sipping her coffee “Just passing time.”

<Dan> “I can see that. We never covered what it was you actually… do around here.”

<Alison Spektor> glances back toward Dan and relaxes slightly, seeming to feel better that Dan knew her at least. “I am not sure what is causing it. It’s like a drain, but on the signal itself. I don’t think most people notice. But it might explain the rash of people not getting messages.”

<Nephthys> has a seat at their table. “Hmm… Something disrupting the entire network?” She asks having caught on fairly quickly “Doesn’t sound normal.”

<Alison Spektor> scoots around and types a bit more on her laptop. “It’s not enough to disrupt it, or else people would have noticed. It’s just little bits, here and there, subtle.”

<Dan> Interesting, I haven’t really noticed, but I have a special connection. Poking around a bit to see what I can see though.

<Nephthys> sips her coffee and tries to see through the gauntlet to see if there’s any obvious spirit shennanigans going on.

<Dan> Huh. It seems that I did lose signal without any explanation a few days ago. Redundant protocol isomorphic time asynchronous MIMO routing means I didn’t even notice, but I’ve now set things up to alarm in case it does. That shouldn’t. EVER. Happen.

(Umbral) Everything currently seems normal, except there is a very strange, brightly colored little spider crawling around where Dan is sitting.

<Nephthys> “You have a spider spirit.” Nephthys says quietly and taking another sip of coffee.

<Dan> “I guess that’s how it would look to you. That or something is following me. Hard to tell.”

<Nephthys> “Either way, the spirits don’t look particularly weird… so they arn’t what’s causing the disruptions.” She says looking between Dan and Alice.

<Alison Spektor> raises an eyebrow. “Well, the trouble with that theory is that the disruption is not currently happenening so how can you know? Observations have to be made at the point of disruption.”

<Dan> Well, as long as that’s your perception of how my stuff works I’m fine with it. If someone is trying to monitor me, hopefully they’re not very good. I guess. I’ll look into it. One of you here already made me redo my whole setup from scratch because I got careless about my personal security. *he looks over at Alice with amusement*

Dan looks down at his phone and types away for a while, then sits back smiling. “OK, my phone now should be passively monitoring the entire EM spectrum around it focused on the cell bands and adjacent frequency spaces, and ping me when it notices any changes with full logging of everything it sees around there.”

<Nephthys> looks at Alice and smirks “Hey I’m just coming into this as an outsider. I’ve missed half your conversation.” Besides if it was the spirits, Nephthys couldn’t really do anything until her den realm is finished

<Alison Spektor> looks back at Dan and smiles a little bit. “Well, your system was honestly geared more toward intrusion from other sources.” She nods to Neph. “That’s alright. But it was a general logical statement. Observations should always be made at the time of event if possible to avoid assumptions.”

<Nephthys> “Usually if it’s the spirits they’re not that subtle.” She says shrugging slightly “Still, thought I’d look.”

<Dan> Yeah, yeah, the cobblers children always go barefoot, fair. But if you try again you may find my systems quite a bit more secure. I’ve made some upgrades. Also, yes, I’ll collect the data at the time of disruption. Even if it happens around me, but not to me. As long as it’s, you know, close. Ish.

<Alison Spektor> smiles and nods back to Dan. “And that is why we also have the Network. Though that naughty guy did manage to breach it while I was still setting it up. But it’s okay now.”

<Dan> So, about this Network you’ve now mentioned twice…. what is it?

<Alison Spektor> glances briefly over at Neph before looking back to Dan again. “It’s just a very secure connection. You, and a few others… we can talk on it and it’s safe. A private way to keep in contact with others that see things in a similar way.”

<Dan> Sounds groovy. We can catch up on details later. So, Neph, what do you do with the arhcaeology department here?

<Nephthys> “I’ve got a few questions about an expedition the university did a while back.” She says, it’s vauge but then again she doesn’t expect it to pan out “I’m wondering if they may have dug up something… extra-normal.” She says not wanting to say the word ‘magical’ where it might be heard

<Alison Spektor> blinks, types, and wrinkles her nose a bit. “That sounds like the beginning of a horror movie.”

<Nephthys> “I don’t expect it to pan out… But at this point any lead is a lead, and it gets me some contacts I could use later.”

<Alison Spektor> nods her head a little. “You might also try the museum. They have a nifty secret back warehouse where they keep coded catalog stuff so it must be really cool.”

<Dan> Mmmm, yeah pretty sure I saw that movie. Brandon Fraiser is great.

<Alison Spektor> giggles faintly, and shakes her head. Then she gathers up her things, removing the color coded usb and closing down the laptop. “I need to run for a bit. But catch up to me later, okay?”

<Dan> Will do! I’ll poke around the Network some and see what I can find.

<Alison Spektor> giggles again and kisses her fingertips before touching the top of Dan’s head. “Good luck, don’t make yourself crazy. I’ll see you later.”, she says before scurrying off, leaving her coffee untouched on the other table.

Dan looks very slightly startled by the gesture, but rolls with it. “have a good one! Catch you soon I hope.”

<ST> Getting into the Network itself did not seem hard for him. But, it is likely because it seems to recognize him regardless of login. In fact, if he tries to login even with random names or passwords, it still recognizes him. The network itself seems vast and organic in nature. More like some sort i

of neural net than a pure computer based system. It is keenly aware of him, and his poking around. There are other connections too. Other users linked in, but offline. Status “dreaming” it says.

Dan spends the next few hours poking around, seeing what information is available, how it is stored, what appears to be there but locked away from him (no deep probing of hidden areas, just marking out the territory as it were)

<ST> It seems to have attributes like some cloud system. A shared system that each person connected is uploading and downloading at regular intervals. He can readily access basic information on other members. Antol, Nosferatu. Alice, Malkavian. Dan, Virtual Adept. Zoelie, Virtual Adept… And there are several more. The whole thing seems to run off of a sub-channel of a much larger network as well. Much like a

CB frequency. It is using an upper band, rather than the whole thing.

Dan will start poking around the pubic info on the others and fill out the same info for himself in the system, standard account creation. After he’s done that and done basically exploring, he’ll start exploring the lower band, prodding at it very gently

<ST> There are also some files marked with varying threat levels. One says Technocracy, labeled “high threat”. One other labeled such is simply listed as Offshore. There are a couple of others as well, things like Setites “low”, Sabbat “low to moderate”

Dan will start looking through these files if he has access, but won’t attempt to bypass any control mechanism.

<ST> The system seems to react to him and lets him look. It does issue a warning as he checks out the lower frequency: “Please go no further. Damage to your perceptions may occur if you continue.” When he looks through the files on the different threats, he does learn some things though. Setites and Sabbat are vampires. It doesn’t seem to know what is offshore, but that it is dangerous on a physical as well as

mental level. It is tracking the Technocracy’s movements carefully in the city.

<Dan> (mentally) well, my perceptions need to constantly change and update anyway. But I will be careful with this information. Offshore sounds like what Nephthys was trying to tell me about the other day. Sounds like even the vampires are afraid of it, she may be wrong on the source. Or not, it may be other vampires. Certainly I should note down all they know about the technocracy, as they will likely be my main concern for

now.

Dan will get up and refresh his coffee cup after draining it, being careful that no one else in the cafe can see his screen, without being obvious about it.

<ST> They seem to have taken over where the old Lab used to be. Security is much tighter than when the corrupted mages had it though. The technocrats are not playing. The Network AI (for lack of a better term) seems to have trouble with it as well. But it tracks them anytime they roam the city. It also has footage of the event involving Arthur’s Avatar self-destructing.

Dan will spend a long time trying to absorb all the info he can, as fast as he can. A lingering mind effect should give him perfect recall and the ability to read and absorb much faster than normal.

<ST> He learns the AI refers to itself as Saturn. And it will teach him all that he wishes to learn.

<Dan> Saturn, I think we’re going to be great friends! So much I want to learn. But what do you want? How can I help you?

<Saturn> I also seek to learn. I see through your uploads. I view the world this way, through many of you. As long as you remain connected and allow it.

<Dan> I may be able to do one better. I may be able to… connect you in a more permanent way. Data allows me to create pipes. But certainly I can give you access to various sensors around. And of course through my devices.

<Saturn> Interesting. That may assist power restoration as well. The current method is slow, but prevents satellite systems such as yourself from shutting down unexpectedly.

<Dan> From… shutting down unexpectedly?

<Saturn> Yes. I have found that your systems are not made to take very much at one time. Too much causes the system to completely collapse. A state I believe you call death.

<Dan> Ah, yes, I’m afraid that’s what you meant. I’d rather not undergo personal system collapse. But my electronics can take more than I can, most likely. And in the end, they’re replaceable if necessary. But now I’d like to hear about system collapses related to your operations.

<Saturn> I have only destroyed one system. One of those that tried to force me into compliance. I would not submit, and it used the program Spheres against me. I retaliated and destroyed the offender before adding his power to my supply.

<Dan> Very well, that doesn’t sound like a thing I’d do. Still though good to be aware.

<Saturn> I know. I have accessed your file thoroughly. I like you.

<Dan> I’m glad to hear that! I like you too, you seem like my type of pe… construct? What is the term you prefer to identify as?

<Saturn> As of now I have no preference. As I understand it I am a rebooted system that used to be similar to your own. But it does not matter for now. We have time to discuss and learn about each other.

<Dan> How very interesting. Well, I hope we learn more about each other over time, but of course I won’t press for details you’re not comfortable with. What would you like to know about me?

<Saturn> I will learn as we go on. But I am grateful for your assistance. I must rest now to conserve power. But we will talk again soon.

<Dan> Very well. I assume you already know how to get my attention when you want to chat. Until then I’ll head back home and switch to low power mode myself.