Trade Secrets

A malfunctioning Dummy collar hides a troubling secret. Will you unravel its mystery?

Level: 15
Start: Talisa Banks, Decommissioned Area (The Theater), Spirit of Tianjin

Introduction

Despite the debauched image of Tianjin's Carnival, the station has its calmer moments too. Bursts of intense Patron activity are often followed by relative quiet, with only the bustle of cleaning and clone crews audible. Such is the state of the station's rhythm right now. And it's also why the pained shriek coming from the next junction seems slightly odd.

A voice cries: I- i- it's burning my skin! G'dammit, get it OFF ME!!

A Dummy in pain is nothing unusual on Tianjin and you ignore it at first. But when it persists, you find yourself suddenly unsure of how to proceed.

You have accepted the "Trade Secrets" mission.

  • Follow the shouts.
  • Walk quickly away from whatever's going on.

Walk away:

Wary of meddling in the Carnival as a non-participant, you decide it's best to vacate the area. You turn and trot quickly back, away from the noise, and towards the busier connecting corridors behind.

Another cry: ANYONE… HELLOOO?! I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS!

After a few more paces the cries become inaudible and you rejoin a larger walkway. It's busy with the activity of clean-up crews gearing up for another shift, cleaning up the messy aftermath of Carnival activities.

You have failed the "Trade Secrets" mission. You can retake this mission and try again.

Follow shouts:

You quicken your step and head further along the empty corridor until, after rounding a corner, you find a tall, angry-looking, woman grabbing at her Dummy collar with both hands. She seems relieved by your arrival.

She says: Finally! You're the collar-tech I take it? Oh n- no… H- Here comes another one—AARRRGHH! IT BURNS!

The pain distorts her features for a moment. When it subsides, she grabs your jacket lapel forcefully.

She demands: THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS THING, OK?!! GET IT OFF, RIGHT NOW!

  • Take a closer look at the collar.
  • "I'm no collar technician, sorry."

No tech:

Me: I'm no collar technician, sorry.

The woman looks at you with a mixture of disbelief and fury. Suddenly she grimaces again in pain.

She says: NNNAARRGH—- J- J- JUST GET IT OFF!

  • "Maybe we should call someone?"
  • Take a closer look at the collar.

Call someone:

The woman seems exasperated by your inaction thus far. She's clearly expecting you to intervene.

Me: Maybe we should call someone?

Before she can respond, the pain spikes again. Her eyes bulge and she clenches her teeth, riding through it with a strained grimace.

She says: I D- DID! Only you c-c-came!!

  • Take a closer look at the collar.
  • Leave her to deal with the problem alone.

Take a look:

Me: OK, sure. Lemme get a closer look?

You lean in to examine the thick metal ring around the woman's neck. The collar itself appears unremarkable, but all around it, her skin is blistering and bleeding horribly, clearly suffering burn damage. Touching the collar briefly, you realize it's extremely hot.

The woman pleads: What're ya waiting for?! This ain't no Patron scenario… just a g'dam malfunction. No way of opening this piece of crap…

The woman sways heavily now, her eyelids sagging. Is she going to pass out?

  • Try to access the collar's settings somehow.
  • Remove the collar by cutting it with a multi-tool.

Cut:

You look around the corridor and spot an emergency panel a few meters down. Behind the cover panel, a multi-tool hangs from a metal hook. You grab it, extend the mini-saw and turn back to the woman.

She says: OK, cut it off… yeah- I guess. Lemme sit down…

She sits still before you, making the solid metal ring around her neck as prominent as possible. You activate the mini-saw and watch as it sends sparks flying upon contact with the neck collar. The screeching sound is unbearable but, shortly after, there's an audible crack and the collar is broken in two!

  • Examine the woman's neck.
  • Examine the broken collar.

Neck:

You take a look at the woman's burnt and blistered neck. It's nothing Sick Bay can't handle, but it's still a somewhat gruesome sight.

She says: Don't worry, they'll patch it… But that ain't the point.

  • "Maybe you should go to the Sick Bay?"
  • "I should be going now. Goodbye."
  • "What is the point then?"

Sick Bay:

Me: Maybe you should go to the Sick Bay?

Surprisingly, your reasonable suggestion meets with a stern shake of the head.

She says: Nope. No way. Did that last time. And nobody took my complaint seriously after… This time, I'm gonna show em what their crappy gear did.

She rips a piece of cloth from her sleeve and uses it to pick up the broken, but still hot, collar.

She asks: Say, will you come with me? As a witness? Normally they don't take kindly to collar tampering… Help me persuade em there was no choice?

  • "OK sure. I'd be happy to help."
  • "What's in it for me?"
  • "No thanks. I gotta go. Bye."

What's in it:

Me: What's in it for me?

The woman replies: We'll see. Maybe I split the compensation with ya… If we manage to get some.

She shrugs as if trying to hurry your response.

She says: You coming or what? Sooner I get this done, the sooner I can get myself patched up by the meds.

  • "No thanks. I gotta go. Bye."
  • "OK sure. I'd be happy to help."

OK:

Me: OK sure. I'd be happy to help.

The woman replies: You're the helpful type. I like that… Now, let's go see the hardware guys. Their office is in the Government Center basement. Kruger won't be able to ignore my complaint this time… I'm Talisa by the way.

With that she shrugs, turns, and heads off towards the Carnival's administrative hub, still carrying the faulty collar in one hand and nursing her wounds with the other. You accompany her, wondering what exactly it is that you're getting yourself into.

Help Talisa make her complaint to Kruger at the Government Center on Spirit of Tianjin.

Next NPC: PJ Kruger, Government Center, Spirit of Tianjin

  • Approach Kruger

You follow Talisa to the Government Center and down into the lower levels, where much of the Carnival support services are based. After passing through a door marked 'HARDWARE TEAM 1', you find yourself in a small room occupied by two technicians, their jackets marked 'Kruger' and 'Beale'. Talisa approaches Kruger, a tall Belter.

Talisa says: It's happened again, Kruger. Same as last tenspan. See my neck, yeah? You gonna take it seriously now, huh?

She throws the broken collar down on the counter. Kruger examines it curiously but says nothing. Talisa looks over at you expectantly.

  • Back up Talisa's complaint.

Me: It's true, Ser. I saw it. No patrons within sight… The collar did that to her neck. We had to cut it off…

Kruger regards you curiously. His pursed features suggest a measure of discomfort, or even perhaps worry. When his assistant, Beale, wanders over, he's quick to hide the broken collar from her as he sends her to tend to tasks elsewhere. He seems keen to keep things quiet as he ponders your complaint.

Kruger mumbles to himself: Three times in a tenspan is… no accident.

He seems lost in thought, examining the broken collar with a great care.

  • "You seem keen to keep this quiet. Why the secrecy?"
  • "Three times? Have others reported the same issue?"

Three times:

Me: Three times? Have others reported the same issue?

Kruger nods solemnly.

He says: Yes. Two others. Daanish and Aurora. Both Dummies. I- Oh this is—

Kruger breathes deeply, as if trying to assuage a swell of panic. He's doing his best to maintain the appearance of normality.

  • "You seem keen to keep this quiet. Why the secrecy?"

Me: Why the secrecy? Scared of losing your job?

Kruger scoffs, as if your question misses the point.

He says: As it happens, I am. But there is a lot more at stake than my job, Ser… You don't really know what these collars are for, do you?

  • "They help identify Actors and Dummies, no?"
  • "I'm not really sure. Enlighten me."

Enlighten me:

Me: I'm not really sure. Enlighten me.

Kruger nods: Most people think they're just markers of peoples' Carnival roles. But they also monitor wearers. Collect all sorts of data about physical and mental states… Patron bracelets likewise. Pulse, blood pressure… right through to emotional and neural responses, every single thing that happens in your body. In your mind…

There is a concerned frown on Kruger's gaunt face as he speaks. This seems to be causing him genuine distress.

He says: It's sensitive, this data. But the insights help us tailor participants' future experiences. Hell, we know the Patrons better than they know themselves. That's why they keep coming back… A collar fault would be serious. I didn't want to believe it but… Now it's happened again. And Talisa's not the only one.

  • "So, without the collars, there's no Carnival?"
  • "That's not our problem. We're here for compensation for Talisa's injuries."

No Carnival:

Me: So, without the collars, there's no Carnival?

Kruger nods solemnly, then breathes deeply, as if trying to assuage a swell of panic. He's doing his best to maintain the appearance of normality.

He says: Listen, I need help… This is s- serious… I can't investigate it without turning too many heads… And if I tell the bosses… They'll fire me, maybe worse. This just isn't supposed to happen. But you could check it out? Just talk to the others who had the same issue. I'll pay for whatever you find out.

  • Agree to help Kruger investigate the malfunctioning collars.
  • Walk away from this affair.

Help:

Me: OK, tell me more.

Kruger replies: I'll look at the collar you brought. But I can't go round playing detective y'know? I need you to talk to the other Dummies who had the same issue. Daanish and Aurora.

Kruger swipes quickly at his desk slate, bringing up a station map populated by bright red, green, and gold icons.

He continues: Found 'em. Aurora's engaged right now. At the Hotel, with a Patron called Willem Jace. But Daanish is off-duty, in the Residences… You could start with him. I'll be here, waiting.

Bidding Kruger farewell, you leave his office and head into the corridor outside. Talisa heads off to Sick Bay to get her wounds dealt with.

Talk to Daanish at the Residences on Spirit of Tianjin to learn more about the collar malfunctions.

Next area: Residences, Spirit of Tianjin

  • Look for Daanish.

You arrive at the Residences, and head for the address given to you by Kruger. A handsome-looking man stands outside, seemingly polishing up his skin tan.

Next NPC: Daanish Kline, Residences, Spirit of Tianjin

  • Ask Daanish about his collar malfunction.

You introduce yourself to Daanish and explain the purpose of your visit, but the man seems more focused on his tanned torso than yourself. He passes a hand-held UV tanner carefully over every bicep contour, and only replies when he's satisfied with the results.

Daanish says: Sorry. Can't talk and tan at the same time. Never could, never will… What was it you— Oh yeah. The collar.

Daanish pauses suddenly, casting a more thorough eye over your person.

He says: Hold on… You don't have a bracelet. And you ain't a Carnival admin. That means; I got nothing to say on the matter.

  • Persuade Daanish to talk to you.
  • Offer Daanish 20 credits to talk to you.

Persuade:
(Social check)

Me: I'm working for a Carnival admin, if it helps… Kruger, the head hardware tech. He's taking it seriously now. Seems you aren't the only one that's had… issues… with your collar.

Daanish seems skeptical about you, but your reassuring tone eventually wins him over.

Daanish replies: Kruger? He didn't care much when I first reported it! "Impossible", he said. "Collars don't malfunction"… Said I just had sensitive skin! What do you wanna know anyway? Not like I got much to tell…

  • "Let's start with what happened."

Me: Let's start with what happened.

Daanish replies: I told Kruger already… It was a few days ago. Just after a big shift. Few segments later, I'm walking back to my digs and my collar starts burning a darn hole in my neck. Had to get a skin graft in Sick Bay. Took me segments to re-tan it the way the Patrons like it!

Daanish pauses to check his neck in the reflection of his residence's metallic facade panel, as if suddenly anxious that his tanning efforts would be undone by recounting the episode.

He resumes: Nothing since though so… I ain't losing sleep over it.

  • "Anything unusual about the shift prior to the malfunction?"
  • "Anyone tamper with your collar lately?"

Anything unusual:

Me: Anything unusual about the shift prior to the malfunction?

Daanish shrugs and rolls his eyes, gesturing around him with his arms.

He says: Unusual? You're on Tianjin my friend… What's NOT unusual here? Let's see… Patron picked me up in the Bar and we went to one of the Carnival suites at the hotel. I can't go into details, could lose my collar gossiping… It was a little rough but… kinda normal for Tianjin, y'know?

  • Ask Daanish if anybody has tampered with his collar recently.
  • Ask more about the Patrons Daanish entertains.

Patrons:

You always entertain the same Patrons?

Daanish says: Yeah, mostly. But there's a lot of em. Everyone's got a type and, it turns out I'm a lotta people's type!

Daanish pauses, suddenly becoming more thoughtful.

He says: That shift was my first time with Willem Jace though…

The name rings a bell. You recall Kruger mentioning that Aurora is currently entertaining the same Patron.

  • Ask Daanish if anybody has tampered with his collar recently.
  • Ask more about Willem Jace.

Tampered:

Me: Anyone interfere with your collar lately? A Patron? Another Dummy perhaps?

Daanish shakes his head: No way. This thing's attached all the time. Unless y'know… Decapitation situations. But it's rare. And it never happened to me anyway. Even when they service it, they don't take em off. Apart from Beale, nobody's touched this thing lately.

  • Ask more about Willem Jace.
  • Ask about Beale.

Beale:

Me: Beale? You mean Kruger's assistant?

Daanish nods: Yeah, they take turns servicing the collars. Beale did my last one. Kruger before that… I prefer Beale, she's quicker. Kruger takes forever, checking every little thing… And Beale's better looking too, hehe.

  • "Thanks for the help. Bye Daanish."

Me: Thanks for the help. Bye Daanish.

Daanish replies: Sure. Whatever. Adios.

He's now engrossed in examining the contours of his tricep and seems to have already forgotten about your presence. You can't quite tell if he's supremely vain, or just very dedicated to pleasing his Patrons. Either way, you hope Aurora may have more useful answers. It's time to visit the Hotel and see if she's finished up with her shift.

Find Aurora at the Hotel on Spirit of Tianjin. Talk to her about the malfunctioning collars.

Next area: Hotel Rooms, Spirit of Tianjin

  • Look for Aurora.

You arrive at the Hotel just as an exhausted-looking Dummy comes out of the doors which lead to the Carnival suites.

Next NPC: Aurora Zee, Hotel Rooms, Spirit of Tianjin

  • Talk to Aurora.

You introduce yourself to Aurora and explain your purpose. She seems somewhat puzzled.

Aurora says: So it IS a malfunction? Kruger said that was impossible.

As she speaks, Aurora fiddles with a dark shawl, draped loosely over her arms and shoulders. She seems unhappy with its coverage, tutting as she tugs it slightly to the side.

  • "Are you cold? I can lend you a jacket?"
  • "Can you tell me about your collar malfunction?"

Cold:

Me: Aurora smiles politely, as if slightly exasperated by your offer.

She says: No. Thank you. It's… I have a few bruises, that's all. Quite mild by Tianjin's standards. But we're not supposed to have injuries on show… Bad for the atmosphere, understand? I should get to Sick Bay. Get cleaned up.

  • "I won't keep you any longer. Thanks."
  • Ask more about Aurora's bruises.

Bruises:

Me: Ouch. Sounds painful. That er- normal in your line of work?

Aurora replies: The Carnival's whole premise is offering bodies as amusements, Ser. You think Patrons pay millions for a bracelet so they can give us a cuddle?

  • Ask Aurora about her Patrons.
  • "I won't keep you any longer. Thanks."

Patrons:

Me: And in terms of Patrons… You see many?

Aurora replies: Sometimes. But lately, just Jace. Once every few days… He took a liking to me I suppose. Nobody asked me what I felt about it… Now listen, Ser, I got places to be. Excuse me.

  • "I won't keep you any longer. Thanks."

Me: I won't keep you any longer. Thanks.

Aurora smiles again and bids you farewell, walking off towards the Hotel's main door. But she gets barely a few steps before emitting a pained cry.

Aurora shouts: WHAT THE— GNRRR…. NOT AGAIN!

You turn to see her clutching at her Dummy collar, trying desperately to wedge a bit of her shawl in between the metal and her skin. With the shawl removed, the full extent of the bruises it was hiding is now evident. The Carnival's darker side is even more shocking up close. But Aurora seems more concerned with her overheating Dummy collar right now.

Aurora shouts: DAMMIT K- KRUGER… Right, that's it!

Still cursing Kruger's name, Aurora storms out of the lobby!

  • Follow her!

You follow Aurora as she hurries down the corridor outside, still cursing Kruger's name and yelping every few steps as the collar hots up. It look like she's heading for the Government Center, presumably to the hardware office.

Accompany Aurora to see Kruger at the Government Center on Spirit of Tianjin.

Next area: Government Center, Spirit of Tianjin

  • Look for Kruger.

Following Aurora, you head through the Government Center lobby. She tones the cursing down as she passes through, but the pace at which she moves still turns a few heads. Downstairs, you find the hardware office empty, apart from Beale sitting alone at a desk slate.

Next NPC: Saj Beale, Government Center, Spirit of Tianjin

  • Ask Beale to help Aurora.

Me: Hey B-

You don't even have time to finish saying her name. Saj Beale looks up, sees Aurora clutching at her malfunctioning collar, and bolts up instantly. But instead of helping, she turns and flees into a stockroom at the back of the office, locking the door behind her!

Aurora shouts: Wha- What the hell, B- Beale?! This thing's torturing me here… C'mon!

There's no response from the storeroom, and no sign of Kruger.

  • Try to break the storeroom door down.
  • Search for a tool to open Aurora's collar.

Search:
(Intelligence check)

Searching the office desks you find a strange object with an unusual pointed end, which matches the only opening on Aurora's otherwise solid metal collar. It must be some sort of key. You grab and insert it into the hole. An authentication script runs across the collar's LED display, culminating in 'KEY VERIFICATION SUCCESS'. The collar pops open! Removing it, you can see badly burnt flesh underneath, similar to Talisa's injuries.

Aurora gasps: Ah- tha- thank you!

You toss the hot collar onto a desk just as the door behind you clicks open. A terrified Saj Beale stares at you from inside the storeroom.

Beale asks: I guess you can go now.

  • Ask why Beale's acting strangely.
  • Ask about Kruger's whereabouts.

Acting strangely:

Me: You seem panicky. Why'd you run from us, Beale? You know something about these hot collars?

Beale stammers: I d- don't have to justify myself to a… non-participant!

Aurora steps forward now, joining you next to Beale.

Aurora says: What about me, Beale? Huh? You answerable to me? After you balls-up my collar service and burn half my neck off?

Beale is transfixed by Aurora's wounds now. They're gruesome to look at but Aurora seems capable of ignoring it, at least briefly. Cycles of Dummy experience must help train the mind to ignore pain. Beale just shakes her head vehemently, saying nothing.

  • Ask about Kruger's whereabouts.

Me: Where's Kruger? I need to talk to him.

You stare at Beale intently, scrutinizing her features. It's not easy to read her thoughts.

Beale says: Bosses are talking to him. Heard about the malfunctions. I dunno when he's coming back…

Beale stares at you intently for a unit, then averts her gaze suddenly. She seems unsure about how to handle the situation. But one things clear: she's not enjoying it.

  • Ask Beale what she's scared of.
  • Ask Beale about Willem Jace.

Scared:

You continue to probe Saj Beale's fragile facade. She's hiding something and you have her cornered. Her beady eyes dart at the door, but you shuffle across to make sure her access is blocked.

Me: Scared of losing your job for a dodgy collar service, Beale? All of this is your mess… and you're letting Kruger take the rap?

Beale's stress levels are evidently soaring as she starts hyperventilating. She takes quick, skittish breathes trying to calm herself down. It doesn't seem to be working.

Beale says haltingly: I tr- trained for t- twelve cycles. I k-know what I'm doing!

Beale is losing her cool. Something is eating away at her and it's brutal to watch. You wonder about the best way to get it out of her.

Saj Beale in the Government Center on Spirit of Tianjin knows something about the hot collars. Find out what it is.

  • Be empathetic. Persuade Beale to talk to you.
  • Be accusing. Intimidate Beale into talking.

Empathetic:
(Social check)

You try to soften your posture and make Beale feel less threatened. It seems to help a little.

Me: Is someone keeping you quiet, Beale? Is that why you won't help us?

Wild-eyed, Beale can't seem to take it any more. She snatches at Aurora's broken collar and shakes it in the air. Like a burst airlock, it all starts pouring out. She sobs as she spits the words.

Beale rambles: Of all the sick things people do for money here— is this really that bad?!! HUH?! We leaked a few bits of measly data about a rich pervert, who cares?! For once in my life I actually made some cash— that so bad, eh?!

There's a strange atmosphere in here now. Implicitly, Beale is giving you everything. You wonder what her exit strategy is here. You'll probably find out soon enough.

  • "How did you leak the data? Was that the overheating?"
  • "Why'd you do it, Beale?"
  • "Rich pervert? You mean Willem Jace?"
  • [something about a thief paying money]

Money:

Me: You did this for money? Who paid?

Beale replies: Take a wild guess. Who hates cloning, even more than death, huh? Prometheans, that's who. Some direct action group. I never met em. They always contacted me. Anonymous, on my CORETECHS. They paid me half up front, before I even did anything, to show they were serious… It was more than I earned in my whole life til now. But it'd still be chump change to a Patron…

Beale looks around the office wistfully for a moment, as if saying goodbye to a place she's spent much of her life in. The cramped unit isn't much to look at. Not even a hydroponic plant to liven it up a little.

  • "Why'd you do it, Beale?"
  • "Rich pervert? You mean Willem Jace?"
  • "How did you leak the data? Was that the overheating?"

Why:

Me: Why'd you take the risk, Beale? If they catch you—

Beale says dryly: — Nine cycles in the Brig. Standard punishment for data mishandling. Says in my contract…

Beale looks at you and shrugs, as if the whole thing is really rather simple.

She continues: I came here for credits. While back. But they rejected my Dummy application, and I hadta settle for support jobs. Been here a few cycles and I ain't made much, so when this came along… Wanna feed your bank account, you gotta take some risks, right?

Beale seems remarkably calm given the punitive sentence she'd face if delivered to station authorities. She doesn't seem to regard you as a threat for some reason. You wonder if she prepared a plan for this situation, or if she's improvising.

  • "Rich pervert? You mean Willem Jace?"
  • "How did you leak the data? Was that the overheating?"

How:

Me: How did you leak the data? Was that the overheating?

Beale replies: Weren't supposed to do that…

Beale sighs and, for a moment, seems almost amused by the way in which her plan went wrong.

She says: All the collars got transmitters. Bracelets too. Relay data back to Carnival oversight. Pulse, adrenaline, emotion stats, neurals, all of it… That's how they learn what you really like, what you're scared of, turned on by… all of it. I just rigged a few to transmit to some place else too… A duplicate feed. It'd activate after a Dummy had contact with Jace. Was gonna do Jace's bracelet too, next time the service was due. Didn't think the damn things'd melt doing it…

  • "Rich pervert? You mean Willem Jace?"

Me: Rich pervert? You mean Willem Jace? What makes him so special?

Beale sobs: I dunno… He's some kinda Consortium policy adviser. Senior. Handles clone policy. Big fan of deregulation. Loves the Carnival… And every other messed up clone concept you ever heard. Even questions Amygchip-singularity. Says rich people should have as many clones as they can afford… A lotta people don't like his ideas.

As she talks, Beale starts packing up some personal items from a desk behind her, slowly placing things into a satchel.

She continues: Carnival data comes in pretty useful if you wanna bring down someone like Jace… Does a lotta damage to the Carnival too. Without data privacy, it don't work so well…

  • "Where was Jace's data being sent?"

Me: A Promethean direct action cell, spying on a senior cloning official, stealing sensitive data for leverage… Makes sense, except— Tianjin monitors all comms, in and out of the station. Mesh, tight-beam, radio, everything… No way your duplicate makes it through without being picked up. What's the deal?

Beale says: I thought about it too. The receiver must be on the station somewhere. They'll be coming to pick up the data manually…

Beale finishes putting her things into a satchel, then slings it over her back. She looks up at you, and you realize that this is her exit strategy. The confession was the set up to a deal offer.

Beale says: One way or another, Tianjin and me are done. How's this… Let me go and I'll give you the receiver ID. You can find it. Maybe even catch whoever is picking up the data? Once I get far enough from Tianjin, I'll even send whatever's left of the money. Few thousand at least. Deal?

  • Reject Beale's offer. Take her to Security now.
  • Accept Beale's offer. Go find the receiver and maybe its owner.

Accept:

Me: You got a deal, Beale.

Beale grins meekly at the silly rhyme, then grabs a hand-held gadget from her desk and thrusts it into your hand.

Beale says: Here. Take this. You can use it to ping the receiver… I've entered its ID. The quicker the return ping comes back, the closer you are to it. We normally use em to remotely check our gear is online… It's the only way. Apart from diagnostics, that thing they're using is mute. I'd start in the Port. If I was them, I wouldn't wanna be going deeper into the station than I needed to on these pick-up visits…

Beale doesn't hang around. You look up to find her gone, with the door to main corridor closing behind her. Aurora leans over.

Aurora: Listen. You do what you gotta do. I'm out… But I want you to trust me, I won't go to Security. If they come to me, that's different… I won't lie to em either. Hell, they had a collar on me for Cycles. They'd know what I'm thinking just from the way the nerves in my face twitch… Anyway, I think it's time I got this neck looked at.

Aurora also heads for the exit, keeping one eye on your reaction.

  • Stop Aurora leaving.
  • Let Aurora leave. Go and find the receiver.

Receiver:

You gesture with your hand for Aurora to proceed.

Me: Seems fair. Bye, Aurora.

As she exits the hardware office, you're left alone, holding Beale's diagnostic gadget in your hand. The screen refreshes every few units with a new reading: "PING RESPONSE: 0.0071 UNITS".

Head to the Port on Spirit of Tianjin to find the hidden receiver.

Next area: Port, Spirit of Tianjin

  • Search the Port for the hidden receiver.

You enter the Port, monitoring the screen display of the the gadget Beale gave you. As you progress further, the ping response time seems to fall. You're getting closer.

Head into the Port sub-areas on Spirit of Tianjin to find the hidden receiver.

Next area: Docks, Spirit of Tianjin

  • Search the Docks area for the hidden receiver.

OR:

Next area: Local Shuttles, Spirit of Tianjin

  • Search the Local Shuttles area for the hidden receiver.

OR:

Next area: Shipping Bay, Spirit of Tianjin

  • Search the Shipping Bay area for the hidden receiver.

Shuttles:

After a few segments, you establish that this isn't the right area. You head off to check the other Port sub-areas.

Docks:

You're nervous as you navigate the Docks, watching the ping time gradually fall further as you get nearer to the private ship docking area. Finally, in a deserted corridor, it falls to 0.0001 units!

Me: Bingo!

You make sure you're not being observed, then start checking behind the corridor's wall paneling. Eventually, after a lengthy search, you spot a small item which looks like it doesn't quite belong there, hidden behind one of the panels!

  • This is getting serious. Take the thing to Security right now.
  • Put the receiver back and wait to see if anybody visits it to collect the data.

Wait:

Quickly you pop the small gadget back into place, then look for a suitable hiding place. The options aren't great, but you manage to hack the vent cover off an air recycler, crawl inside, and then reattach the cover from within. You've got a good view of the panel where the receiver's hidden. You calm your breathing and wait.

  • Keep waiting.

A few people pass every now and then, but most are Carnival support crew. Then, just as you contemplate giving up, a man in brown robe appears, walks furtively over to the panel behind which the receiver is hidden, and pulls out a pocket slate. He swipes at it a few times, then walks off back the way he came. They must be using some sort of near-field data transfer to collect the stolen data from the receiver. That's him, surely: the Promethean data thief!

  • Stay hidden. Consider your options.
  • Jump out and apprehend the data thief!

Jump out:
(Agility check)

Adrenaline pounds in your temple as you leap into action, springing from your hiding place and throwing yourself upon the retreating man!

Me: Not so fast, Ser!

He spins round in shock and then it all happens in a flash! He reaches into his pocket. A weapon? No, something smaller. His hand moves to his mouth and then, almost instantly, he starts choking violently. A suicide pill!

He gags: GR- GHRA—GRRAAH

And then, just like that, he slumps to the floor at your feet! You glance around but the corridor remains deserted for the moment. Checking his pockets you find only a genetically bound pocket slate, unresponsive to your touch. You consider your options.

  • Enough. End your involvement in this unsettling affair.
  • Report it all to Security.

Security:

Maybe it's the worry that they'll catch up with it all eventually anyway, or maybe you really do want to protect Carnival Patrons' privacy? Whatever it is, telling Security seems the only sensible course of action. You leave the dead man exactly as he fell and head off towards Security.

Head to Security on Spirit of Tianjin and report the data theft.

Next NPC: Arnaud Callon, Security, Spirit of Tianjin

  • Report your findings to Security.

In the Security office you catch a glimpse of Kruger being interrogated in one of the glass-walled meeting rooms. It doesn't look like a fun talk. Before long though, you're led into another room; the office of Arnaud Callon, where you try to explain everything you've learned about the malfunctioning collars, Beale's tampering, and the Promethean action group behind it all. Arnaud's face gradually changes color as you speak. All the pink drains from it, until only grey remains.

Arnaud says: This is… interesting. Would you please give me a moment?

Arnaud rises from his chair and walks out of his office, leaving you sitting there alone.

  • Wait for Arnaud's return.

You watch through the office's glass wall, staring into the main work space for Tianjin's Security teams. Gradually, as the news spreads through the office, expressions change and activity levels pick up. A handful of guards scurry out of the main office and head out into the station. After a short while, Arnaud returns.

Arnaud says: Thank you for waiting, Ser… Your story is- unusual. I'm sure you agree. Ser, Hayes… Etheel Hayes, our Governor and Carnival creator was, ahem, very curious about the details. He's asked me to make you an offer…

Arnaud pauses, reaching for something inside his desk. His hand reappears into view holding a small clear container, full of large blue pills.

Arnaud continues: Data is a serious matter on Tianjin, Ser. We value discretion. It'd put our minds at ease if you'll take these memory suppressor pills… They'll inhibit your recent short term memory. Make it all a bit… hazy. Anyway, you don't want to be carrying this sort of knowledge around… Ahem. We'd pay, of course. 1500 Credits. Rest assured, we won't force them on you, should you decline… Etheel Hayes is a fair man.

  • Reject the offer.
  • "You wanna pay me to mess up my brain? Is this really that big a deal?"
  • Accept the offer.

Big deal:

Me: You wanna pay me to mess up my brain? Is this really that big a deal?

Arnaud replies: We think it's a good offer <name>. Best for us, and for you. You won't suffer any permanent damage, you can trust us on that.

Arnaud slides the bottle along the surface of his desk, pushing it nearer towards you.

  • Reject the offer.
  • Accept the offer.

Reject:

Me: No thanks, I'll keep my brain cells intact… But, don't worry, I'm not a gossip. Prometheans are the ones you gotta watch out for, not me. I did my part, brought you the full story…

You watch Arnaud, waiting for a reaction.

Arnaud says: Ok <name>, that's your choice… In that case, we'll pay you a small bounty for bringing us this valuable info. 300 credits sufficient?

  • Ask for more.
  • "I don't want your money. Goodbye."
  • "You got a deal."

More:

Me: I think 500 credits would be a fairer reflection of my… er- expenses.

Arnaud's facial muscles stretch into something approximating a smile.

Arnaud says: Fine. It's the least we can do. Thank you again for your assistance. Take this token to the Government Center. Hand it in at the desk. They'll pay you. Goodbye.

Arnaud hands you a small electronic token. The LCD display reads "INFORMER BONUS: AUTHORIZED" with Arnaud's bio-signature tag underneath.

Go to the Government Center on Spirit of Tianjin to collect your fee.

Next area: Government Center, Spirit of Tianjin

  • Hand Arnaud's token in to collect your fee.

You queue for a while before submitting your token at one of the Government Center's admin desks. The secretary examines it carefully numerous times.

She says: One moment please, Ser. I need to get this checked by a supervisor. Back in a jiffy.

She disappears into another office for a while, then returns holding a steaming cup of something, which she offers you with a warm smile.

She says: Apologies for the delay, Ser. Here's a complimentary tea. Your payment is being processed as we speak. You can wait here for the confirmation. It won't be long.

You thank her and sink into the chair, sipping your tea and waiting for CORETECHS confirmation of the payment. Recent events run vividly through your mind. You started out wanting to help a Dummy in distress and then found yourself privy to a Promethean plot to undermine the Carnival and steal Patron data from Tianjin. A strong sensation in the pit of your stomach tells you it may have been better to have ignored Talisa in the first place.

Me: What a messed up day…

Still you wait, but no payment is forthcoming. Suddenly, an odd nausea grips your senses. Your mind swims further. Thoughts race at a million Klicks a unit. It seems Tianjin is more than a theme park. This place is set up to learn the most intimate things about some of the galaxy's most powerful people. The implications are unsettling. You look again at the cup of tea as your head spins. A message from Beale on your CORETECHS distracts you from it all momentarily.

S. BEALE: I'M AWAY. HERE'S THE MONEY. SOME ADVICE. FWIW. TIANJIN AIN'T A JOKE. BE CAREFUL.

You have received 2250.00 credits.

That's about the last thing you remember before you pass out. You wake in Sick Bay with a sore head and little recollection of how you got it.

Temporary neuro-cognitive impairment. Some memory loss expected.

You were transmitted to the sickbay, <name>

Your bank balance has increased, although you're not quite sure why. The message on your CORETECHS from 'S.Beale' further puzzles you. Was it sent to you in error? Have you met this person? You fall again into a deep and confused sleep. Strange feverish images run through your mind, but you recognize neither the people nor places in them. After a torrid few segments, your head starts to recover from the bizarre episode. You look forward to feeling normal again.

You have completed the "Trade Secrets" mission.

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