Campaign of the Month: May 2013

The Dark Queen of the West

December 20th 2010 - CMAP


Persons of Interest: Peter Hatmaker

Monday comes as a bit of an unwelcome surprise – the sun is too bright, the noises too loud, the air is too cold. But the sun brings with it a certain comfort – the moon no longer looming overhead, light and heat abound, even in the bitter cold of winter, and there is plenty of time to spend getting things taken care of. The day is young, even with a set of cumbersome meetings up ahead: The CMAP offices in Willis Tower have been packed with meetings from early in the morning.

Peter stands at the window, mug in hand, looking out over the city – he sees the slums of Cabrini Green, aching for a change, looking to burst from within and unleash a terrible fury on the greater Chicago area. The men and women standing behind him are working to prevent that from happening, but it’s slow going. After that meeting, his day seems to have freed up significantly, and he hears a polite cough from behind him – one of his coworkers proffering a package to him. “A bike courier dropped it off to you. Said it was urgent. I had to tip him, so you owe me lunch sometime.”

One ‘Pull Here’ tab later and Peter finds himself staring at the glossy reflective surface of a brand new smartphone and an accompanying letter from some Product Research Group bundled with some legalese jargon. It seems to be more advanced than any phone he’d ever seen, and a few of his coworkers are looking at it in envy.

Peter looks at the phone as he finishes his coffee in one long gulp. He walks back to his office as he tries to remember if he is due for an upgrade. Once the door is closed, he he sits down and turns on the phone.

The phone springs to life, displaying a strange logo he’s never seen – a six sided ribbon that intertwines. The display is extremely responsive, and the phone appears to have a host of useful applications. Peter gets settled in experimenting, noting that the map app has several locations called out, one of which being the shore visible from the meeting-room window. Moments later, the phone alerts that a WiFi network has been detected, and it begins displaying a number of locations relating to projects the company has been working on.

After a knock, knock, knocking on his office door, there is a brief pause before the door swings open, allowing the office secretary to slip into the room, gently gliding the door shut. “My apologies Mr. Hatmaker, but I was told this was important. There is a woman here, a Ms. Muroe, asking to see you about the Wolf Road project.”

Peter slips the phone into his pocket. Muroe…Maybe one of the suits from Will County? Doesn’t ring a bell. Peter realizes that he hasn’t replied yet. “Sorry, ah, let her in. I’ve got some time before the next meeting,” Peter says absentmindedly. He takes a seat at his desk and straightens his tie as he awaits his mystery visitor.

A woman in a sharp business suit and skirt combination slips into Peters office, shooting him a devastating smile to go with her ice blue eyes. “Mr. Hatmaker, I presume? I’m Catalina Muroe, but you can call me Cat.” Another flash of perfectly manicured teeth. “I’m working on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency. I’m here about the Wolf Road project you’re working on.” She slides a stack of papers across the desk to Peter. “I’m here regarding a bit of a paperwork mixup regarding some bits of land marked as ‘Preserved, Prohbited for Development’, particularly some along the proposed project route. Now what this means is that the project won’t be able to go forward as planned. I am greatly sorry about the inconvenience.” Her lips form a cute little frown. “I’d love to work with you with this, but I’m not sure there’s much I can do…”

Peter politely nods and shakes her hand as Catalina introduces herself. He was never particularly good at schmoozing, not least because of inherent nature. However, he knows and follows the necessary formalities. Courtesy to replace empathy.

As the visitor talks about mix-ups and alterations to the project, his eyes narrow and lips purse. “Ms. Muroe, I’m afraid I don’t understand. If you could be more specific about which ‘bits’ you are talking about, I would appreciate it.”

{Manipulation Detection – Peter : Manipulation (2) & Empathy (1): Catalina. Pool of 3}

Her smile slowly evaporates, like ice under the sun. She begins spouting a stream of legalese and complex jargon that Peter is able to follow – it doesn’t seem to hold too much water on close analysis. It seems like she’s trying to hustle him somehow. She goes on for a good half hour, talking about how the land rights are reserved, how the project will have to be cancelled due to protected species not being able to be displaced, other parts of the route being planned as developments, going on and on.

Peter raises a hand to cut her short. “Miss Muroe,” he says, a hint of of anger in his voice, “We’ve done the oversight on these parcels. Submitted our impact statements. There was plenty of time to offer comment and review. Most of these issues seem frivolous. It seems unusual that the EPA would choose to weigh in now.”

Peter’s ears pick up a throaty growl, almost inaudible, coming from his opponent. Her eyes flare with intensity. “Look, Hatmaker. We weigh in where it is necessary. I highly doubt it wise for you to stand in our way.” She stands up, hands on the table. “It’d go much easier on you if you gave me a call once you’ve thought this over. Don’t go throwing your life away.” She slams a business card with just a number on it onto the desk. “You’ve got the potential to still do some good with your life. I’d hate to see you get swept out of the way like your little Wolf Road project.” With that, she storms out of the office, leaving all of her papers in place, and the door slightly ajar.

{Detection – Peter : Wits (4) & Primal Urge (1): Catalina. Pool of 5}

There’s a polite knock at the door as one of the firm’s tiny secretaries gingerly pushes the door open a bit wider. “Um… Mister Hatmaker sir? I just wanted… to… um… well, you asked, you see… for… um… to tell you… when any unusually specific… real estate inquiries were being made around the city… and there’s been a bit of activity there, sir. Sorry if I’m interrupting anything, but I thought it was important.”

Peter takes the business cards and the papers, stuffing them in one of the desk drawers. This bitch just messed with the wrong civil servant. No one is going to interfere with my plan. He looks up at the secretary, the anger still visible in his eyes. He takes a deep breath to collect himself.

“No problem,” Peter says. “So, what do you have for me?”

Something about that Catalina woman still is unsettling to Peter – she was ferocious, but not in an entirely familiar way.

The secretary comes in and meekly slides a file across the table. “This man…. er… James Spence... he contacted Luxury Estates this morning and arranged to purchase a rather large piece of property out by Lake Michigan. Er… I think it abuts one of the um… projects? That you were keen on ensuring stayed… well, on task. It’s one of the forest preserves… But I checked the property before coming over and… well, it’s kind of wierd, because the listing was taken down already… and… um… I’m sorry if I’ve been a bother sir.”

“No bother at all. Did you find anything about this Spence character?” Peter asks as he picks up the file and begins to read through it. First the mystery phone, then the EPA intrusion, and now this. Are they connected?

The file shows a more or less complete biography of James Spence’s public life since he arrived in Chicago, including some pictures of him at high society functions, including the Mayor’s Christmas ball. Unusual, for a biological researcher. Also included are pictures of his old condo, a penthouse with plenty of security. Again, unusual for someone in his line of work. “I asked around, and there was actually a security incident at his lab a short while ago. It’s all very hush hush, but… err.. my brother’s a janitor there, sir, and he talks sometimes. Mr. Spence hasn’t uh… been into work in a bit, so I thought it was a bit unusual.” Peter’s thumb flips another page, and a fairly recent photograph of James Spence is seen on the streets of Chicago, conversing with someone on what appears to be a high tech smartphone.

“Thank you. That will be all,” Peter says to the secretary. Where have I seen that cellphone before? he thinks to himself as continues to read through the file. Once the secretary leaves, Peter will close the door and take out the smartphone. First, he’ll check the directory to see if there are any saved numbers, email addresses or the like. Afterwards, he’ll take a closer look at the locations saved in the app, making a point of checking if any of the locations are Spence’s properties or workplace.

As he starts poking around the phone, he notes that the cellphone has a bulletin messaging service that James has made a few inquiries on. No saved numbers aside from a help line and matching e-mail address, but there have been a few locations logged in different colors, including a coffee shop downtown, as well as a property out by the lake which is near one of Peter’s projected werewolf sanctuaries.

Peter pockets the cellphone, and quickly looks through the papers left behind by the woman from the EPA. He looks to see if any other locations are mentioned her papers.

Aside from a few of Peter’s pet-projects, two other interesting locations pique Peter’s interest: a public beach along Lake Michigan, and the location of the property James Spence was inquiring about. Mixed in with the papers is a faded receipt from a LoopCup cafe somewhere near Cabrini Green.

Peter puts the papers back in the desk. He thinks on his next move. He decides the first thing he must do is find out about this Spence fellow. He takes the contact information and his new cellphone. He decides on checking out the property first. He leaves his office, telling the secretary that he’s taking sick leave for the rest of the day. It’s a complete lie, but around this time of year, many employees are using up their their leave before the end of the year, so it won’t raise notice. And considering Peter never fell ill, he had leave to spare.

The secretary alerts him that she will hold all of his calls and wishes him to feel better. A quick drive through the relatively empty streets takes him out to the Spence property. He pulls up to find two cars and a van parked out front and sounds of laughter and talking from within, as well as smoke rising from the chimney. The grounds contain a forest that looks like it might contain excellent hunting, especially for this close to the lake. As he approaches the door, his ears perk up as he hears someone’s voice say the word “magic”. When he raps on the door, he soon finds himself confronted with a man who looks much younger than he smells. There’s an odor about him that smells… ancient, like dust and mold from long ago. He’s quick with an easy smile, and invites Peter in with a smile. After exchanging pleasantries, Peter finds this man to be called, by his friends, Merlin. He excuses himself to alert the property owner of Peter’s arrival.

End of Scene

Comments

Peter looks at the phone as he finishes his coffee in one long gulp. He walks back to his office as he tries to remember if he is due for an upgrade. Once the door is closed, he he sit s down and turns on the phone.

December 20th 2010 - CMAP
 

Peter slips phone into his pocket. Muroe…Maybe one of the suits from Will County? Doesn’t ring a bell. Peter realizes that he hasn’t replied yet. “Sorry, ah, let her in. I’ve got some time before the next meeting,” Peter says absentmindedly. He takes a seat at his desk and straightens his tie as he awaits his mystery visitor.

December 20th 2010 - CMAP
 

Peter politely nods and shakes her hand as Catalina introduces herself. He was never particularly good at schmoozing, not least because of inherent nature. However, he knows and follows the necessary formalities. Courtesy to replace empathy.

As the visitor talks about mix-ups and alterations to the project, his eyes narrow and lips purse. “Ms. Muroe, I’m afraid I don’t understand. If you could be more specific about which ‘bits’ you are talking about, I would appreciate it.”

December 20th 2010 - CMAP
 

Peter raises a hand to cut her short. “Miss Muroe,” he says, a hint of of anger in his voice, “we’ve done the oversight on these parcels. Submitted our impact statements. There was plenty of time to offer comment and review. Most of these issues seem frivolous. It seems unusual that the EPA would choose to weigh in now.”

December 20th 2010 - CMAP
 

Peter takes the business cards and the papers, stuffing them in one of the desk drawers. This bitch just messed with the wrong civil servant. No one is going to interfere with my plan. He looks up at the secretary, the anger still visible in his eyes. He takes a deep breath to collect himself.

“No problem,” Peter says. “So, what do you have for me?”

December 20th 2010 - CMAP
 

“No bother at all. Did you find anything about this Spence character?” Peter asks as he picks up the file and begins to read through it. First the mystery phone, then the EPA intrusion, and now this. Are they connected?

December 20th 2010 - CMAP
 

“Thank you. That will be all,” Peter says to the secretary. Where have I seen that cellphone before? he thinks to himself as continues to read through the file. Once the secretary leaves, Peter will close the door and take out the smartphone. First, he’ll check the directory to see if there are any saved numbers, email addresses or the like. Afterwards, he’ll take a closer look at the locations saved in the app, making a point of checking if any of the locations are Spence’s properties or workplace.

December 20th 2010 - CMAP
 

Peter pockets the cellphone, and quickly looks through the papers left behind by the woman from the EPA. He looks to see if any other locations are mentioned her papers.

December 20th 2010 - CMAP
 

Peter puts the papers back in the desk. He thinks on his next move. He decides the first thing he must do is find out about this Spence fellow. He takes the contact information and his new cellphone. He decides on checking out the property first. He leaves his office, telling the secretary that he’s taking sick leave for the rest of the day. It’s a complete lie, but around this time of year, many employees are using up their their leave before the end of the year, so it won’t raise notice. And considering Peter never fell ill, he had leave to spare.

December 20th 2010 - CMAP
Rase Cidraen Rase Cidraen

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