Cyberpunk Challenge: Menoko Boi 3

He walked into the kitchen, which also had a door to the backyard. “She’s got sensor lights that track body temp, so the kitchen gets lit up, but she’s not stopping there because she doesn’t like to cook. She already picked up fast food on the way home. Where does she eat?” He had to pull his laptop out to look over the report. Jammer glanced over his shoulder, which was a no-no according to Stem Corp policies, but he didn’t make a stink about it. “Kennet eats in the living room, so let’s go there.”

“I can override the home ‘puter.” Jammer offered.

“That’s good.” Varriano told her. When they reached the living room, he sat where the report said Kennet would sit. “She listened to music while she worked. Can you get that playing for me?”

“Yes. I’ll play what she listened to on the night of her death.”

That was a little gruesome, Varriano felt. She listened to soft jazz, he discovered a few moments later. “She probably spent from seven to nine here, eating, working and listening to music. We know this because that’s when the music got shut off. At nine she takes her shower and arranges her clothes for the following day, and at nine-thirty she retired to her bedroom.”

“Where she watches sex videos other people have sent her.” Jammer said.

“That’s not in my report.”

“The investigator didn’t ask.” She shrugged. “Remember that he came by the day after we found her. The second investigator would have come one day after that for a more thorough walk-through, except Stem Corp is doing something else and all of its people are busy. What is going on that they aren’t saying to the public?”

“I’m sorry, but that is confidential. Which way is the bedroom?”

“That way.” Jammer pointed.

“And what’s down this hallway?”

“A guest room. That one has two cameras in it also. So do the bathroom and the living room. Everywhere that people might have sex has two cameras in it.”

“I have to explore this sex partner angle a little closer now.” Varriano surmised. “The initial report did not mention how active Kennet was.”

“She wasn’t very active.” Jammer corrected him. “But when she did have sex, or when people she invited over had sex, she recorded everything. Kennet traded her recordings on the Deep Web.”

Varriano grunted on hearing that. “So anybody that was in her videos, or anybody she traded with becomes a potential suspect.”

“And we still don’t know if the murderer got her money or not.” Jammer added.

Times like these, and Varriano’s ears got itchy. He started scratching at the left one as he strode toward the bedroom. “I put my work away, I took my shower, and now I’m getting ready for bed.”

Kennet’s bedroom was twice as large as Varriano’s, but he wasn’t jealous. She had a king-size bed with covers depicting Greco-Roman people having a hell of an orgy. Real lamps too, also designed to look like statuesque nudes, with gaudy on and off buttons on female breasts or male penises. Two walls had large, horizontal holo-portraits featuring, yet again, more classical nudes having sex.

“Quite the kinky girl, this one.” Varriano observed.

“I’ll set the portraits on rotation, since you don’t have the password.” Jammer volunteered.

The guard was brain-wired, Varriano realized, and she thought he was also. He wondered if he should tell her he didn’t have any cyber upgrades, then decided against it. She wouldn’t believe him anyway. The portrait was the first image of a bunch, a slideshow that reminded Varriano of opening and closing thighs from a sex shop he’d been to recently. Only the first couple of images were original, apparently. The rest of them had been modified to show Kennet’s face on the classical bodies, and those of other people she’d had sex with.

“Kinky, like you said.” Jammer commented. “All of the faces you see were scanned. They match up with Kennet’s few visitors, except for two that we’re still trying to identify. My guess is they were crushes she never scored with.”

The images were something else. They showed mythological creatures like centaurs, satyrs and harpies in sensual poses with humans. One Pan-like figure sported an erection the size of a billy club. It disgusted Varriano.

“That one’s my favorite.” Jammer winked at him.

“Yeah, okay.” He turned his back to the pornographic images and stepped around the bed. A pool of dried, darkened blood stained the carpet. “Kennet hasn’t been in her bedroom this whole time, or if she was, she only went in there for a second or two. She’s got her bathrobe on that she put on after her shower, and her work clothes are in the hamper. So Kennet walks in here, disrobes, and gets into bed.”

“That’s where the murderer got to her.” Jammer said.

“Where are the cameras mounted?”

Jammer pointed them out. They were shaped like bubbles the size of eyeglass pieces, high up in the corners of the room.

“Two of them?” Varriano considered. “They’re kitty-corner on the ceiling.”

“They’re what?”

“Diagonal. That’s interesting.”


“For telemetry, you need three fixed points of tracking. You know, the three dimensions of height, width and length, to get a fix on an object moving within that field. These two cameras are placed on opposite corners of the room. They’re too badly angled to get the action up close and personal. If you wanted to do that, you put a camera right over the bed, and another at chest level or eye level, when a person is sitting down, obviously, because that’s the level they’re at when they’re having sex. How do the cameras turn on?”

“Kennet mind-switched them on.” Jammer answered.

“But she didn’t mind-switch when she was attacked, probably because she was caught by surprise.” Varriano recalled. “Here’s the thing. The ceiling is the only unobstructed surface on this entire room. Say one camera is recording height and the other width, as in motion sensor displacement. You would still need a third camera, or not even a camera but a constant distance measure that reports back to the other cameras. This measuring device would have to be placed on a wall, and it just happens that the two portraits have a clear view of the bed. If even one of these portraits has a constant measure report, or has an imbedded camera in it, a person could theoretically record from two to four angles and create 3D modeling that can be used to make holo-movies later. That’s how you get your close-ups and your money shots.”

“And that can be used to superimpose a person’s face onto holo-images like the ones we’re looking at now.” Jammer extrapolated.

“Right.” Varriano took out his notepad. “Can you tell me the make and model for those portraits?”

“Sure, but why don’t you mind-scan them yourself?”

“Because I don’t have my brain wired.”

“You’re not wired?” Jammer asked. “What are you, a clone?”

“I am not a clone. I simply choose not to be wired.”

“Really? Ever since I met you, I’ve been trying to read your electrical impulses. I figured you had some advanced hardware in your head that was blocking me. And now you’re saying there are no upgrades in your head?”

“I guess that means our date is cancelled, huh? Let me have the info before you storm out of here.”

“I’m not storming out.” Jammer denied. “But you can forget about the date. How can you not be brain-wired when you work for Stem Corp?”

“Long story.”

“Tell me.” She insisted.

“The skinny of it is this. A few years ago, they had a rash of mind-hacks in Japan. They called it the Laughing Man Case…”

“That wasn’t real. You’re a conspiracy theorist.”

“Babe, I was in Japan when the shit went down. I saw people going berserk in front of my fucking face. You are not going to tell me what I saw, and if that makes me a conspiracy theorist, your reaction to the truth makes you veracity challenged.”

She was getting mad, Varriano noticed, maybe mad enough to smack him. “Don’t even think about it. I will pepper spray you in a hot second, and then you can explain to your boss why you went blind for the next three days. This pepper spray I got is some potent shit.”

Jammer stormed out.

Varriano scratched at his ear. Too bad, because she didn’t give him the info he needed for the portrait manufacturer. It was a long-shot, anyway. He took his laptop out of his pack, sat down on the edge of the bed, close to the bloodstain on the carpet, and took down a few notes. Some people didn’t think he could be a successful detective without cyber upgrades, but he’d proven them wrong before so this was nothing new.

Jammer probably wouldn’t give him any more help. Too bad about that, too. Varriano was already preparing a special request for what he needed, to be forwarded to his supervisor at Stem Corp. A little pressure from the top brass should get things moving along nicely.

To be continued.

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