The Operatives: Eva Borges, Patrick O’Maley, Jana Gibson, Mariza Olafson. The VIPs: Isabella Nakatomi, Michael Doyle, Aziz Crowe.
“A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on. A psychotic is a guy who’s just found out what’s going on.”
William S. Burroughs
After a week-long arduous training in the desert south of Avalidad, Patrick and Jana are finally back to civilization. For Jana it was a return to the tranquillity and comfort of the City, but for Patrick the novelty and excitement never wear off. Seeing Avalidad for the first time, the young tech takes another sip of his favourite drink and feels his heartbeat increase. While Lanyard gets closer to the heliport on top of the Zone Sec building, they see a tall muscular female waiting for them. “That is Eva Borges” Lanyard announces. “She comes out a bit bitchy, but don’t let her get to you. She’s really a bitch, but a nice one.”
As soon as the helicopter lands, O’Maley energetically jumps out, followed by Jana. They are greeted by a nonplussed Borges. “Welcome rookies!”
*They are picking them younger and softer by the day, Gibson is supposed to be Crowe’s wizard apprentice, but this guy…*
After crushing Patrick’s overenthusiastic reaction, Borges orders them to follow her. In the briefing room they are joined by Olafson. The hacker is even less friendly then her usual self, and not happy at all when Borges tells her O’Maley will be her responsibility.
The senior agents are showing the place to the new comers when, in the 1st floor cafeteria, they come upon a commotion outside: Democracy Now! is organizing a pacific, but very annoying, demonstration, right outside ZoneSec’s HQ.
Cue in to Aziz´z Crowe office. Clayton Reed warns the director about the new annoyance from Democracy Now!. The verdict is that the demonstration will annoy Dr Bentley, so let them proceed for now…
Hours later the protest escalates: Kurt Kilgore, Democracy Now! leader declares he will go on hunger strike until his demands are taken seriously. The media are going crazy.
Clayton Reed instructs the team to take some measures, at least remove them from the site. Borges suggests moving them near the Kobayashi tower. This is a good opportunity to test the rookie’s nerves. The moment the team steps out of the building they are surrounded by the media, while Eva and Mariza head up to meet Kilgore, Jana stays behind talking to the press.
Borges is able to intimidate Kilgore to move the demonstration site for their own safety. Meanwhile, young Patrick tries to prove is worth by hacking into Kilgore’s MetaPlus account and posts some compromising “metas”.
Protesters move quietly, and all seems under control. But minutes after the team has re-entered the building, Reed calls them back, appearing to be in a bad mood.
“Have you seen the news?”
“Not yet, but they moved boss.” Borges replies. Reed cuts her up:
“Someone decide to hack Kilgore’s MetaPlus. And now he is accusing us of it. Did I order you to do it? Who did it?”
O’Maley assumes his guilt: It was really easy! I thought it was a good idea!” Clayton studies the rookie, looks suspiciously to the can the boy keeps sipping from.
“Did I told you to do it? Now we need to go ahead and discover some real dirt on the guy, not this child’s play. And what the hell is that stuff you keep drinking?”
Patrick smiles and proudly announces is home-made beverage: NutKicker, nobody is impressed, but everybody’s concerned.
After a long work and a lot of nut kicking, Patrick proves to be a very good hacker. Unfortunately, Kilgore is a boring fellow, with no skeletons in his closet. Who would trust someone like that in the government? After a debate between Crowe and Reed, it’s decided to go with defamation. Kilgore will be blackmailed before the fake story goes public.
Suburbs of Avalidad, Mediouna upper-class neighbourhood: in one of the most luxurious mansions, a magnificent party is going on, chez Dr Bentley. There’s a party every other night, but this is the first time someone literally partied to death.
Natasha’s voice rouses Aziz in the middle of the night: “Urgent call from Dr Bentley”. On the other end a frantic Dr Bentley shouts. “They’ve hurt veronica, and I also have two dead bodies laying on the floor. Aziz come here as soon as possible. Now!”
Michael Doyle and Isabella Nakatomi were two of the party guests and, lucky for them, still alive. Like most guests, they are oblivious to the commotion going on on the upper floor, until they ear sharp cries, both human and simian.
Doyle is a busybody and Nakatomi is nurturing a strange unhealthy crush on Dr Bentley, so they are the only ones brave enough to climb the staircase to find out what’s going on. Dr Bentley is over himself: Veronica is bleeding from a small cut. Also, there’s that unpleasant business of the two stiffs. Isabella offers to help Bentley bandage Veronica’s cute little paw – while the baboon eyes her suspiciously – and Doyle offers to watch over the corpses.
Entering the room he’s rewarded with the sight of the two best looking corpses ever: the two models (they must have been models) were apparently stabbed to death and the murder scene looks like the site of some kind of ritual. While Doyle is playing the detective, Aziz Crowe enters the room. The presence of a real Zone Sec official doesn’t diminish the amateur’s enthusiasm (and not just because the corpses are gorgeous).
While wondering about the identity of the dead beauties, with the help of Natasha, they discover that both models Francesca and Inola had arrived at the party in the company of Isabella Nakatomi. Cue in Dr Bentley, a calmer Veronica, and Isabella. After the shock of seeing her friends dead and a ruined GivenXXX dress (Inola had leant it from her), Nakatomi confirms her friends’ identity. They were not really famous and have been involved on a small scandal that ruined fashion designer’s Jean Paul Barbaroux’s latest show. The models were both drunk and kept stumbling on the catwalk. The next day Barbaroux was the butt of the joke all over the City.
Suddenly, Dr Bentley announces there’s something stuck in Veronica’s teeth. After some effort, a piece of cloth is retrieved. Nakatomi quickly identifies it as the inner lining of a man’s tuxedo. Excited, the two amateurs sleuths go back to the party and try to identify who’s wearing a bitten coat. Aziz is left alone to think and also call the Zone Sec agents to secure the murder scene, and Bentley retires to put Veronica to bed.
After a quick search, the coat owner is not identified. Doyle, Crowe and Nakatomi chat about the fashion designer. Isabella refuses to believe “Babar” is the culprit, she knows his partying lifestyle and suggests they hunt for him.
The improbable trio heads to The Temple of Sound. It’s a painful experience for Doyle. Unfortunately, Babar hasn’t been seen for the last three days. Actually, it seems the party going designer has vanished from Avalidad’s night-life three days ago. Since Zone Sec can go everywhere and do everything, a visit to the designers apartment is added to the menu. Once again, no traces of “Babar” are found. The voice-mail is full of messages and the concierge confirms he hasn’t seen him, which actually isn’t unusual.