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Thread: Mirror Image

  1. #1

    Post Mirror Image

    Curios - jars, urns, and tapestry - lined the wall. A carpet woven from notum fabric lay on the ground, with a simplistic but mysterious design. The tables and chairs all had an inlay of common stones: pearls and zircon. Inexpensive, but charming. If it weren't for the glowing wires that ran across the room, one would think that time had stopped in this modest display of wealth. This was the director's room of Balun's Antiques.

    Two men were seated across each other. One was Detective Constable Glenn Vai, a fairly tall Nanomage defined by his bald head, a detective for Omni-Tek's Department of Investigations. The other was Hasoff Balun, a Solitus male with brown hair tied back in a braid, the director of Balun's Antiques. His eyebrows gave of the impression of a strict boss, but he was in fact a temperate man.

    "Care for a drink, Constable?"

    "Yes, please."

    Balun poured a glass of vodka for Glenn and himself.

    "We're dealing with art theft, Constable. Last Friday, two thieves broke in through our front door and smuggled out one of our paintings."

    Glenn shuffled his hands.

    "I have the initial report on file. The perps hacked into the shop's security system, and exploited a vulnerability in the code, effectively putting the system to sleep. Their getaway was an unregistered Yalmaha, and escaped through Borealis' unrestricted airspace. So, how do I fit into the picture? Excuse me for the pun, by the way."

    Balun failed to take the joke.

    "We want you to locate those thieves, arrest them, and recover the painting."

    "That's no different from what the guys at Pol do."

    "We also want you to identify the the painting's original artist and if possible, track him down."

    Glenn whistled. "Now that's something Pol doesn't do."

    "Your extensive knowledge in Old Earth history may prove useful in identifying him."

    "And why is that?"

    Balun hit a key on his office's control panel. An image of a painting flashed on the holo board.

    "As you know, our shop deals in real paintings. The ones you see being sold in shop terminals are but images flashed on miniature holo boards. The paintings we sell are the real deal: drawn on a primed canvas using manually mixed paint, and applied tirelessly through countless days and nights."

    Balun pointed towards the screen, indicating it was the stolen painting. 'Sundry' was its title. It depicted a scene of daily life in a desert marketplace. Merchants selling garments fresh and used, were lined up in a row on a street. Citizens of the city browsed through their wares, while the others walked along a visibly scorching street. Men and women, Solitus to Atrox, filled the wide space.

    The desert sun shone on everything, as if a symbol of Clan ideology. One of the scene's distinguishing features was a Clan flag that waved in the background. Beneath the flag was a Sentinel, armed to the teeth with standard equipment. Yellow and brown colors were heavily used in the painting.

    "What makes this painter so special?"

    "The painter uses natural paint, instead of synthetic ones. I'm sure you've come across that in your studies of Old Earth."

    "I have. They make use of nature in order to create colors a machine wouldn't be capable of producing. Things from beeswax to grass, and even innards."

    "Because of the higher quality of paint used, these paintings fetch a high price on the market."

    "Rest assured we've already issued a watch on the black market for the article. My question is, why are you trying to find the artist?"

    Balun paused for a moment. "I...want him to mentor the future generation of artists. Natural painting had become a lost art ever since machines became of use to human beings. Tell an artist to grind dead branches with glue. He'll refuse one hundred percent of the time and say it's an antiquated practice."

    Glenn examined Balun. The director was clearly an enthusiast in fine art.

    "There are techniques in natural painting. Techniques I want to preserve, by finding the man who painted 'Sundry'. It's not as simple as mixing whatever material with glue and slapping it onto a canvas. Even the priming and preparation process uses natural ingredients. There are some things you cannot discover using high tech structural analyses."

    In his studies of Old Earth, Glenn had encountered prominent figures who lived during the apex of human art. He had immersed himself in paintings, portraits, sculptures, clockworks, and architecture. His study of art was one of many facets of the history of Old Earth. He agreed with the director. Technology cannot replicate art and the techniques used at the height of their existence.

    "From whom did you acquire the painting?"

    Balun fingered through his datapad, and after a few clicks, the constable's own beeped softly. He opened the dealer's info file.

    "Got it."

    "One more thing." Balun sent another file to Glenn. "It's an analysis of the materials used in the paint of 'Sundry'. You may find it useful."

    Glenn stood up and walked towards the exit.

    "I'll keep you updated."

    "Thank you, constable", the director said with relief.

    "Best patch your system, director. An update was released last night."

    "I will."

    The constable left the room. The director remained seated, his eyes set on the two shots of powerful vodka.
    Last edited by noomrevlis; Jun 10th, 2016 at 08:34:34.
    Lucio "Zustol" Houston (Lv.123, Engineer), OT-RP
    DC Glenn "Vitellus" Vai (Lv. 62, MP), Department of Investigations
    [Policebot] Policebot: I am lonely.

  2. #2
    Glenn came up with three ways of tackling the case. The first one involved visiting the seller of 'Sundry'. His name was Jason Takeda, an Opifex who ran a gallery in his Lush Fields estate. He would likely trace the painting through countless dealers until he arrived at the artist.

    His second option was to determine what materials were used for the artist's paint. The report sent to him from Balun contained analysis of chemical breakdowns, in which the base materials had not been inferred yet. If he could determine where the painter acquired his base materials, he would gain an understanding of the painter's whereabouts or the places he frequented. His last option was to run a satellite scan of the scene depicted in the painting. If it was indeed a town, he would ask the locals.

    After organizing his thoughts on his datapad, Glenn started to divulge a catalog on modern Rubi-Kan art. Although unlikely, he might run across the artist while reading the book, or someone who possessed a style similar to him. Neo-Roman paintings and architecture dominated the graphic book, as it was published by an Omni-Tek affiliated company. However, he did not come across any painting similar to 'Sundry'. The Clans and Neutrals had published similar catalogs, which Glenn skimmed through to no effect.

    "Network, I need you to read through this chemical analysis and infer what material it may have been before it turned into paint. Don't cross out the compounds used in glue. I also need you to come up with a list of places similar to the painting's scene. It's obviously Tir County, but check all terraformed regions anyway."

    Glenn uploaded the files to the department's server.

    "Affirmative, DC Vai." a cold, mechanical voice sounded.

    Although I'm focusing too much on locating the painter, our black market watch is impeccable. We would have spotted 'Sundry' by now if it was put up for bids. If the painting doesn't come up within a month, I'll assume I'm dealing with an art enthusiast.

    The DoI has Omni-Pol's cooperation when it comes to smuggled goods and the black market. Along with agents who spectate black market auctions, both department's supercomputers are working parallel in building an inventory of the market. The supercomputers factor in the chance that the painting might be sold under the guise of another item. In that case, agents are sent to visually verify the "su****ious item" with its seller.

    The reason why both departments refuse to make arrests through the black market grid platform is to prevent sellers from being vigilant. Talk about justice.

    "DC Vai, a report just came in."

    "What is it?"

    "Jason Takeda was found dead in his estate, just two hours ago."

    "Well...", Glenn paused, "that makes my job easier."

    The constable propped up from his chair.

    Off to Lush Fields.
    Lucio "Zustol" Houston (Lv.123, Engineer), OT-RP
    DC Glenn "Vitellus" Vai (Lv. 62, MP), Department of Investigations
    [Policebot] Policebot: I am lonely.

  3. #3
    A mansion stood atop a hill. Marble columns specked with lime streaks supported its roof, perhaps thirty meters tall. At the peak of the structure was a statue of a chirop, cast in bronze and perched on an obsidian platform. Within the estate resided numerous works of art: statues of mechanized units, scenes of wildlife, depictions of nature's intricacies, and portraits of prominent figures in Rubi-Kan history. Today, the gallery had received its final addition to its collection. Jason Takeda's dead body.

    "It was an airborne toxin, introduced through the gallery's HVAC system. We had encountered it in previous cases.", Officer Manaby remarked to the constable. A tall man with gaunt features, he was assigned to lead investigations on Takeda's murder.

    The constable furrowed his eyebrows.

    "However", Officer Manaby continued, "it takes three days for the symptoms to manifest."

    "These symptoms being?"

    "Vertigo, muscle atrophy, among others. A gallery owner wouldn't readily seek medical attention. They're homebodies, after all."

    "Go on."

    "The cause of death was organ failure, while Takeda was asleep. His insurance pattern had been cut. You know the usual. It's common for us to deal with cases like this, but a gallery owner? That's new!" Officer Manaby chuckled. "We're looking for motives. I assume that's why you're here."


    "Nada. All the paintings were intact. His personal terminal had not been accessed after his death, crossing out data theft. We checked the security cameras, and there was nothing out of the ordinary. No one lives here other than the owner himself. He had closed the gallery two days ago, at the onset of the symptoms. Poor guy chose to stick with home remedies."

    "The culprit must have introduced the toxin into the HVAC at least five days ago."

    "There's a large vent on the mansion's roof which acts as the exit point for ventilation. The toxin may have been introduced from there."

    Officer Manaby issued an order to his forensics team, to search for security footage atop the roof.

    "I need a copy of Takeda's data drive. If you don't mind. I'll run through his files first before checking them back home."

    "No problem, constable. We'll send you the security footage as well."

    "Thank you."

    Officer Manaby tilted his cap as Glenn proceeded to walk around the gallery. He was not a connoisseur of fine arts, but he observed that Takeda held a fine taste in it. The gallery was merely a collection of works of art that caught Takeda's eye. The paintings and sculptures were not arranged in any predetermined way. This allowed for a colorful, if slightly chaotic viewing experience for the gallery's visitors.

    Glenn entered Takeda's office, noticing a pair of officers from the forensics team having a discussion regarding the mansion's security. Both parties acknowledged each others presence, as Glenn started to peruse the dead connoisseur's files.

    If Takeda possessed good business practice, he'd keep a list of his contacts. On...ah, a database; a simple one at that. The entries use numbers as their primary key. What's this...a missing entry? Contact #19 is missing.

    Query for the painting 'Sundry'...ah, here. Looks like the seller is our missing contact, who may or may not be the painter.

    "Officer, does Takeda's database have a backup?"


    And this is why backing up data is encouraged.

    It looks like the database had been altered five days ago. The time.....12:09. Takeda's gallery had been open at that time. He could not have altered the database while attending to the gallery floor. Which means it was the work of a hacker. But how? The gallery uses a wired network. Takeda's terminal and.....ah, the public terminal downstairs.

    Glenn let out a deep sigh. Good business practice, atrocious security measures. He rummaged through Takeda's files which were neatly organized. There were letters addressed to art dealers, where Takeda expressed his interest in acquiring some of their paintings. Invitations to parties, environment which high society thrives on. There were even letters attempting to elicit a sponsorship from Takeda, for charity purposes. But none of the letters pointed towards the missing contact. After a tedious cross-referencing process across Takeda's files, it was clear that the culprit had erased all traces of contact #19 from the dead man's data drive.

    "Constable", Officer Manaby sounded on Glenn's com unit, "we obtained video footage of the roof from five days ago. It turns out a technician was called to tweak it. Takeda had reported increased humidity within the gallery, which apparently ruins paintings. Looks like it took a while for the guy to finish. It's likely he spread the toxin during that time. We're trying to get a hold of the company who sent him."

    "I'm not expecting results. I found hints of data theft pointing to five days ago. Can you pull up footage overlooking the main floor's public terminal?"

    "Same day? Hold on."

    After a few minutes, the officer sounded.

    "Found 'im. 11:57. Just another day in Takeda's gallery. A few people here and there, appreciating his collection. The technician arrives through the front door, and Takeda proceeds to entertain him. Shortly afterwards, our other perp enters the scene. He looks at a few works of art, nods his head in approval, casually approaches the public terminal and....bang, starts typing at a moderately fast pace."

    "Takeda's database was hacked through that terminal."

    "Footage shows him wearing gloves, his back always facing the camera. We're dealing with a pro."

    "What happens after 12:09?"

    "Hmm...he goes back to strolling around the floor. Nothing much happens, until the technician returns to inform Takeda that the tweak was successful. The technician leaves and....our hacker follows him. I just pulled up footage of the exterior cameras that day. They both got in the technician's Yalmaha."

    "Let me guess, unregistered."

    "From the looks of it, yeah."

    Glenn started to lose his composure. Under his sarcastic remark was a man who felt he made a grave mistake. Until today, all the cases he had handled had a good start. He could track down thugs with moderate effort, because their practices were not refined. For the first time in his career, he encountered criminals who outsmarted him from step one. And this he blamed on his naivety and lack of initiative in securing Takeda as a witness, even though the effects of the toxin were already evident. Dead men tell no tales.

    The constable shook his head.

    I won't let this get to me. I still have leads. Network should be done with the scans I requested. If there's anything gained from today, it's the fact that we're dealing with two professionals.

    "Constable, regarding the company who sent the technician."

    "What is it?", Glenn replied in a tired voice.

    "The company, Deva Industrials, never sent a technician to the gallery ever since they installed the HVAC. It's likely the system was tampered in order to increase the humidity levels. When Takeda made a call to Deva Industrials, the culprits most likely intercepted it and directed it to their own com link. The rest is history from there."

    "Thank you for your cooperation, officer. I'll put in a good word for you when that time comes."

    "Don't mention it!"

    Glenn returned to the first floor, where the forensics unit was gathering their equipment.

    "Ah, constable. We're wrapping up for the day."

    He nodded, and walked towards one of the paintings near the entrance. Against a pure black background were two white circles.

    Art. Something as simple as this could be called art. But the real purpose of art is to evoke emotions...

    As he continued to interpret this simple painting, Glenn began to feel. Very, very uneasy.

    Two entities. Elusive art thieves. Subtle professionals. Diving without fear. For what purpose?

    As Glenn immersed himself into thought, the painting before became increasingly eerie, as if two eyes watching his every move.
    Last edited by noomrevlis; Jun 11th, 2016 at 16:50:28.
    Lucio "Zustol" Houston (Lv.123, Engineer), OT-RP
    DC Glenn "Vitellus" Vai (Lv. 62, MP), Department of Investigations
    [Policebot] Policebot: I am lonely.

  4. #4
    NETWORK: Reverse Chemical Analysis Module
    ID: 09311
    Case: Theft of "Sundry"
    Client: Director Hasoff Balun
    Subject: Painting of "Sundry"
    Input: Chemical analysis of subject
    Completion Time: 26h 45m 34s

    --Description of Subject--
    A painting that depicts Clan life. Yellow and brown colors are dominant, suggesting the Clans' hardy, austere lifestyle.

    --Description of Input--
    The following content originates from a file submitted by Director Balun to Constable Vai.

    Color Composition of "Sundry":
    Ochre - 41.63%
    Burnt sienna - 34.02%
    Umber - 16.35%
    Azurite - 6.96%
    Other - 1.04%

    --Location Inferences--
    Applied filter: Clan and Neutral territory

    Ochre - mixture of iron oxide and sand. Tir County, Mort.
    Burnt sienna - derived from raw sienna, a mixture of iron oxide and maganese oxide. Mort.
    Umber - similar to ochre and sienna. Mort.
    Azurite - derived from copper deposits. Athen Shire.
    Other - canvas was primed using gesso of the traditional formula. The gesso contains traces of chirop DNA, particularly from the robust subspecies. Flocks of these chirops are scattered throughout Newland Desert and Tir County.


    Glenn's initial guess was right. The artist was likely based around Tir County, traveling through the desert to collect the minerals he needed. However, he considered that the artist may have sourced his materials from a mineral processing company. The constable would investigate possible suppliers of these minerals in Clan territory.

    Before that, he would confront Bannon Winman, the technician who spread the toxin through the HVAC system of Takeda's gallery. As seen on the security footage, the hacker was aware of the gallery's surveillance system, acting accordingly by concealing his face and turning his back. Meanwhile, Bannon had no such precautions - partly due to being Atrox. Interrogating a 'trox took thrice as much experience than interrogating the other races. The constable had none of it, but nonetheless steeled himself to confront Bannon. In his words, it would be the modern Reconquista.

    Long and drawn out.
    Lucio "Zustol" Houston (Lv.123, Engineer), OT-RP
    DC Glenn "Vitellus" Vai (Lv. 62, MP), Department of Investigations
    [Policebot] Policebot: I am lonely.

  5. #5
    ARTICLE: Modern Rubi-Kan Art
    The modern atelier was not unlike Old Earth's. They were well ventilated, cooled, and naturally lit. They housed rows of primed canvas, waiting to be painted on. Most importantly were the rows of hand-mixed paint, blended by the artist as preparation for his next work of art. However, modern ateliers lacked that final detail. A synthesis machine took place of the hand-mixed paint. These machines mixed chemicals from color cartridges, and outputted paint with the color the artist desires. The cartridges contained synthetic chemical compounds that produced certain wavelengths, simply color.

    To the modern painter, the synthesis machine was invaluable. Less time was spent on mixing paint, and more time was spent on actually painting. Recent models have included a scanner which digitized physical works of art. Although digital art has become the norm, a market for traditional art has persisted throughout light years; it inspires the poor, and acts a status symbol for the wealthy.

    The subject of Rubi-Kan art often depends on the artist's political alignment. Omni-Tek artists focus on figures of authority (e.g. Phillip Ross), scenes of heroism, conformity, and power. More contemporary Omni-Tek artists have attempted to shift focus by depicting the daily lives of their fellow citizens. However, the former themes remain popular. Clan art is centered on struggle, hardship, and rebellion; serving as a permanent reminder of their raison d'etre. Even the controversial Ring of Thorns continues to be worn by Clan citizens all around. Finally, Neutral artists focus on the abstract, experimental with their approaches. Perhaps the easy life and unrestricted travel helped expand their boundaries.

    Care to discover traditional Rubi-Kan art? Consider stopping by the following galleries during your travels:

    A list of galleries is displayed, along with their location and prominent artworks on display
    Lucio "Zustol" Houston (Lv.123, Engineer), OT-RP
    DC Glenn "Vitellus" Vai (Lv. 62, MP), Department of Investigations
    [Policebot] Policebot: I am lonely.

  6. #6
    [This is lubberly!]
    [Vicinity] Hilfy: Expecting?
    [Vicinity] Redtricks: Pregnant? No.

  7. #7
    MAIL: Interrogating an Atrox
    From: Glenn Vai, DC
    Recipient: Vic Tencent, PI


    Hey Vic,

    Been a while since I've heard from you. Hope you've been in good health.

    I'll get straight to the point. My current case involves interrogating an Atrox, and frankly I'm inexperienced with them. Could I have your advice regarding the matter? The subject in question is a technician. Neutral. Middle class. Hardworking, focused, tends to follow one train of thought.


    Hi Glenn,

    It's been rough ever since the Private Agency Reform Bill was passed. It limits the power of private investigation firms. We can't apprehend criminals. We're confined to intelligence gathering. Our connections to official Omni-Tek departments have been reduced. All in an effort to prevent private firms from acting as a front for Corporate conspiracy. For legitimate firms like mine, it's bad for business. Luckily for you, the DoI is unaffected.

    To answer your concerns, I'll give you a few pointers. I trust you'll figure out the rest.
    > Atroxes may be simpleminded, but they can be sensitive to people's intentions.
    > Most Atroxes have high tolerance to alcohol and pain.
    > On the other hand, they have low resistance to other chemicals.
    > Most Atroxes are deeply immersed in their career and faction culture.

    That's all I can tell you. Experience will always be the best teacher. Best of luck in your investigation.


    Hey Vic,

    I'm sorry to hear you've been affected. According to intelligence on our end, the bill was passed to counteract the growing threat of uprising among Omni citizens. I agree that investigation firms should impose stricter transparency and anti-corruption standards among their constituents, to prevent Corporate conspiracy. But the Board deems the threat too big to not step in. I hope you'll pull through. The bill will be repealed eventually. In the mean time, I could provide you some intelligence as an extra hand, if ever.

    Thanks for your advice, by the way. I really appreciate it. It's gonna be a tough nut to crack.


    Hi Glenn,

    Thanks for your offer. I'll contact you if I ever need a file.

    No problem, just helping out a fellow investigator. I've got one more hint for you.
    > Keep your words simple. You especially tend to get into long-winded speech lol.

    Lucio "Zustol" Houston (Lv.123, Engineer), OT-RP
    DC Glenn "Vitellus" Vai (Lv. 62, MP), Department of Investigations
    [Policebot] Policebot: I am lonely.

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