Continuing to follow open leads, our agents head to Dalton’s apartment. Located in a simple apartment building, they both knock on and try the door with no luck, and thusly hack their way through the lock.
The smell that emerges from inside is instantly nauseating, though the entire apartment looks fairly spotless. Quickly to the right inside the entry are two closed doors, and to the left is a living room, with a galley kitchen on the opposite side of one wall. One door leads to the bathroom, also spotless. The other door, when opened, causes the bouts of nausea everyone is experiencing to increase.
On the floor of the bedroom is the corpse of Dalton Watanabe. His limbs are crushed in places and distorted, with sections of bones appearing to be crumbled and shattered under his skin. His jaw is in a like state, elongated, extending a full eight inches farther than it should. His left arm is missing entirely, severed clean off above the elbow, seemingly in one blow.
The apartment is searched after assessing the corpse. Edmug pulls a copy of Dalton’s planner from the previous week, along with detailed reports about a graft and weapon manufacturer named Gasta Kond who works out of Warehouse 8, and an upper Karum agent named solely known as Dash, “proprieter” of a legal graft business named You, Improved. The apartment is scanned and multiple instances of a woman’s DNA are found. Dalton’s keys are found in his pocket, and an unidentified key to some unknown lock is noticed by keen eyes.
When the agents return to their ride, Blair is leaning against the shiny, new hood, potentially leaving a fresh dent in the frame simply from his significant bulk. He quickly shows his badge to identify himself as a fellow Estate agent, and says he received orders to assist in their investigation.
The team heads to Fractal, which they find to be a 24-hour nightclub, and since it’s about 3am, is in full swing. Two bouncers stop Thom at the door as he attempts to just walk the group past the line and in the front door. Thom enthralls one bouncer with the various reasons why they should be allowed in, while Edmug’s robot Windows 95,000 “malfunctions” against the rear of the other, creating enough distraction for the rest of the team (and a few others) to hustle inside. Thom reaches up as a beast of a woman enters, and she whips his tiny frame upon her shoulders and carries him inside.
Fractal is four tiers, built in the style of an atrium, with one floor below the ground level and another two above. The agents head to the top floor, which is quietest, but also features two notable doors past the bar – one unlabeled, the other marked “OFFICE.”
The bartender is questioned, and he’s pretty shocked to learn of Dalton’s death. He talks about how Dalton and Marie are regulars, usually coming by during the day hours for lunch a few times a week, and occasionally in the evening for drinks and dancing. Harry tries to gain a premonition from the bartender and gets multiple flashes of a woman with Dalton. He connects to the All Song and tries to gather more information based upon what he say, but ends up with multiple partial matches of the woman in varying locations around Harmonius.
The agents head back to their safe house to rest through the night, then head back to Fractal to test a theory. It pans out, as the woman Alex saw in his vision comes in and takes a seat. Thom approaches her first to introduce the team, and leads by showing his Estate badge when she seems standoffish. She recognizes the badge, which isn’t incredibly common in Ruk, and becomes willing to talk to everyone, identifying herself as Marie Eisho.
Marie is incredibly blunt and emotionless through the entire conversation. She appears to not know that Dalton is deceased, but isn’t too bothered by it, either. Marie identifies herself readily as an agent of The Quiet Cabal, sent to form a relationship with Dalton when it became clear he wasn’t simply surveilling the Karum, but he was in fact petitioning to defect from The Estate and join their ranks. Dalton revealed his intentions to her as their relationship became more intimate and serious. Dalton had a final meeting with Dash on Wednesday to confirm joining the Karum, and had a celebration planned for Saturday. Marie was told by her superiors that Dalton was too knowledgeable to be allowed to join the Karum, and she was ordered to eliminate him.
The team returns to Thom’s freshly repaired space taxi to discuss the situation. Harry poses the question, “Okay, if she’s telling the truth, then who killed Dalton?”
Thom responds, “The Quest Cabal has no reason to piss off The Estate.”
Security camera outside of Fractal are checked, and on the evening of the planned celebratory party, Marie is spotted in the window of a building a block away, never coming anywhere near the club, but always watching.
Harry says he thinks there’s enough information to report back in to Alfred Warner, but is willing to defer to the group.
Edmug checks the stock trading he’s been running on Windows 95,000 and sees he’s lost quite a few bits.
After a bit of discussion, the agents come up with a plan – they’re looking to buy a significant number of illegal grafts, with Thom and Harry posing as the “businessmen,” Edmug and Blair are the muscle, and Windows is a robot.
They all tromp into the business office of You, Improved and are greeted by the receptionist. They say they’re looking to purchase a large number of grafts. She says they have a sales location next door, and Harry responds, “No, the graft you have in back.”
She says, “You should probably head to the docks. I hear you can find what you want there.” Harry attempts to persuade her, and she says, “Okay, I’ll take you to Dash.”
Four large men come and escort the group out the back of the building. They walk a couple blocks through side streets and alleyways until stopping, and the lead goon says, “Oh yeah, I almost forgot.” The fists of the four men flash and suddenly take on a slightly metallic sheen, and a fight breaks out in the narrow alleyway.
Blair hulks out and starts spinning around, punching any goon that gets in his way. Windows heads over to Thom, who hops on top and fires blindly…and poorly…at the goons. Harry whips out his secret handblade and nimbly slices up one thug boxing him, while Edmug goes with the tried-and-true spray of acid on another goon.
Harry remarks flippantly, “They should have brought more guys.”
A helmeted stranger on a rooftop unloads a weapon on the entire fracas, but when only one hoodlum is left and takes off running, the stranger focuses fire on him to finish him off from behind, then disappears over the edge of the roof.
The agents return to You, Improved and Blair, while still over nine feet tall now, says sharply to the receptionist, “DASH WASN’T AT THE DOCKS.”
Everyone is escorted in to see Dash, who seems impressed with their resolve. Questions and answers begin, and Dash promptly says, “So, you’re with that chick from the Cabal?” to which everyone agrees.
According to Dash, Dalton had wanted to join the Karum, but wasn’t trusted in the slightest, and when he wouldn’t let up his petitioning, he was marked for removal. The plan was to deal with him at Fractal on the night of the celebration, as Dalton thought he was in by then, but he never showed up. Veiled threats are made, but Dash keeps up his cocky, can’t-be-beat attitude, and the agents return to the Thommobile to discuss what comes next.