Morning, the 27th of May, Verna's daily commute to the warehouse-cum-research-lab in out of the way East Denver goes exactly as planned. Her alarm clock rings, or maybe it's the alarm on her phone? Maybe she has one of those muy neuvo alarm clocks that gently wakes you up with a glowing light and tells your coffeemaker to get to work. And perhaps she breaks her nightly fast at home, or maybe she picks up something to pick at on the way? Maybe she's the type to eat whilst working, at her desk, or wherever it is you eat when solving for the secret x, y, and z's of the universe.
She's the first to the lab, because she always is, except it looks more like a crime scene.
The front door is a mangled mess, folded in on its reinforced hinges before they finally gave up holding on. Its edges are crumpled where they'd been forced through a steel frame purposely smaller than its door because isn't that how doors work? Isn't that how security doors, that secure important places like this, keep out the outsiders that don't understand what goes on inside?
[ A Perception + Investigation roll would be called for as soon as Verna gets to the warehouse. ]
05-29-2014, 10:22 PM
(This post was last modified: 05-29-2014, 10:23 PM by FadedNoel.)
She parks her car in the parking lot, gravel crunching on asphalt. She looks in the rear view mirror to check her hair and makeup in the light of the early-morning sun. She steps out. She finally looks where she's going.
And it seems that Verna Gardner's heart has temporarily lodged itself in her throat.
It's a strange sensation when your world comes crashing down. Mangled, like that door.
Perhaps thieves broke in and stole everything, in which case Friday may have been her last day. They secured funding for the next year, but replacing all the lab equipment would eat through that. Might require more than that.
The assistants would be the first to go. It would make sense.
The way she works it up in her mind, a drug addict or a gang of them must have broken into the place to steal what they could, just to fuel their habit. In all likelihood, it was something like that. They were some ignorant, short-sighted idiots who might have glanced at the blackboards full of formulae and sketches and could never understand their importance. They were the kind of people who shouldn't even be allowed in the presence of Dr. Andrássy's genius.
The first thing she does is get back in the car. She tries René's phone -- straight to voicemail.
"Dr. Jacobs? This is Verna. Please call me back. Someone has broken into the lab," she says to the machine, trying to sound as put-together as she can about it. "I don't know what to do. The door is... well, it's wide open. It needs fixed immediately. I'll be waiting for your call."
She then tries Dr. Andrássy's -- straight to voicemail. And this time, it's a bit harder for her to remain emotionless. The tone sounds, and she has to spend a couple seconds sitting there in her car trying to think of what to say. She's never called him before, and that's tension enough. But now, a terrifying thought comes to mind. What if he was here when they did this?
"Dr. Andrássy. It's Verna. There's been a... a break-in. The door looks like it's been torn down. Please call me back." Because I need to know that you're okay.
She tries to call again. And again.
Then she calls the police. Because the door has been busted open, there may have been a burglary, and it just wouldn't do for the lab to be turned into a refuge for homeless people overnight. So she gives them a report of what she can see, and what she thinks those doors were meant to protect. She tries to make it very clear to whomever will listen that this is not just some warehouse with a few thousand dollars worth of goods within -- this is an important scientific installation.
She also makes it clear to whomever will listen that she can't reach her boss. That her boss would work in the lab alone late at night. That she is afraid.
But Verna is not so much afraid for herself. After practically begging the police to come, she grabs her purse, arms herself with a can of Mace from inside it (because the culprits could still be in there) and goes to take a closer look at that door. What could possibly cause that kind of damage?
Noel @ 7:56PM
[Perception 3 + Investigation 2 = What happened here?!?!]
Roll: 5 d10 TN6 (2, 3, 3, 5, 10) ( success x 1 )
Noel @ 8:03PM
[Perception 3 + Science 4 = Fermi estimation of forces involved]
Roll: 7 d10 TN6 (3, 7, 7, 7, 9, 9, 10) ( success x 6 )
Noel @ 8:06PM
Noel @ 8:07PM
[Perception 3 + Investigation 2 = Examining the door frame]
Roll: 5 d10 TN6 (2, 5, 5, 6, 7) ( success x 2 )
05-29-2014, 11:27 PM
(This post was last modified: 05-30-2014, 12:02 AM by Joey.)
In debris gathered outside the door- dust, bits of leaves, and what else- are the remnants of a disturbance where something-that-was-more-than-likely-someone was dragged out. Why might she think so? The waves along the edges, waves of struggle like snakes winding across sand, and at least she knows whatever was moved was kicking and fighting when it was taken and not dead- in the sense she understands that word.
As she inspects the door where it lies just within the wrenched frame, she may wonder again. How?
A person could have done this, yes, a very strong person. Perhaps a person in the depths of some berserk drug-induced frenzy.
But this door was not broken down by man alone. A tool must have been used.
This was a reinforced security door and the shape of the impacts at its center are no larger than nine inches in diameter each. Impacts- here are two of them. Like two battering rams with rounded heads like SWAT might use. She can estimate that they met the door with around 1200 to 1500 joules a piece, the kind of force that moving horizontally... Well, it's difficulty to imagine any human being able to exert it in that direction so effectively. Gravity's help isn't there. Still, the evidence of leverage is.
Yet not effectively enough. Along the edges of impact points there are the rings of another set. Of the first set. They battered away at least twice to open the door. The second rings are not spaced evenly as the first. Two separate entities working together, but not in perfect concert.
Verna is brought out of this Fermion revery (indeed her world is spinning and the number are odd) when she notices that just within the frame are specks of dark (perhaps the darkest she has ever seen) red blood in its shadow, where sunlight has yet to shine.
This may halt her.
That's if she plans on venturing within before the police come. She may have already halted herself. They'd told her they would come, hadn't they? They are on their way. They'd urged her not to go inside and to wait for their arrival. By the time she's done inspecting the door, the frame, the floor, sirens announce that officers of the law are coming.
Walking up to the door to the warehouse in the morning has never before caused her to panic like this. The police told Verna to stay outside, and that's what she's going to do. She doesn't want to disturb the crime scene, she just wants to get a closer look before it's all cordoned off. And she especially doesn't want to alert anyone who might still be inside that she's there, she's alone, and she's armed only with a can of liquid pain.
But it doesn't take a trip inside the dark building to see the wreckage of the door with clarity. She registers the fact that something was dragged out of it with a cold spike of fear. It looks like there was a struggle. Computers and office chairs don't struggle with you when you heave them out the door.
Her calculating logic wars with her emotions. It couldn't be that. She won't let herself believe that someone was dragged out of here, because it opens up a pit inside.
The door, this close, was obviously rammed in with some kind of machine. Or two machines. Very powerful ones. This was not the work of a person without resources, says the logic. Why would anyone who had the ability break in like this? It doesn't make any rational sense.
She's already half-sick with worry by the time she spots the blood in the shadows. The police sirens have joined everything else in the world that doesn't make sense to her right now. The mind ticks through a hundred scenarios, and none of them ring true, while all of the events around her seem to be happening to someone else. She has the sense to back away, to put distance between herself and the blood-spattered, twisted mess. And she's just standing there a ways away, staring at the scene with her hand over her mouth when the police do arrive.
The first officers who arrive aren't detectives. The detectives will be coming and the officers get out of their car, confirm Verna's name, ask for identification, all to kill time waiting for another duo to arrive before they are willing to head through the front door.
They aren't waiting long. A second patrol car arrives with a man and woman in uniform, partners partnering up with the first officers on the scene. Backup. It is the police who will clear the interior for suspects lying in wait. It takes a grand total of fifteen minutes where Verna is left waiting outside, asked to wait in her vehicle again.
There aren't any surprises, at least not by the sound of things, other than the occasional, “Denver Police!” Or shouted, “Come out and identify yourself,” though if they'd found anyone there's no gunshots from within or anyone led out in handcuffs.
They return. Their faces are as unchanging as their gilded leaden badges, and maybe one feigns sympathy? It's still hollow. Heavy. Labored. Their radios tell about people found dead across town. That's what their mornings are full of. Bodies found, not flecks and spatters of blood that could really be from anything, because there's no body to go with them, but they're here doing their job.
“The warehouse was empty, ma'am,” confirming what Verna's eyes see. “Were you able to get in touch with the owner or manager?” Manager, owner, like this place is a business and not a place of research and center of learning.
Verna has yet to receive a call back returning her voicemails.
She sits in her car, impatiently waiting, just as they asked. At one point, she tries René's phone again, to no avail. At that point, it's just something to do. Something to try.
At least it's somewhat of a relief that every time she sees an officer come out of the building, they appear to be simply going about their daily work.
Like a reinforced door busted in with a battering ram is blasé.
When they return to her car, she gets out and steps to the side to speak with them properly. The shock has worn off a bit, but the worry hasn't.
"No," she says, shaking her head. "I haven't been able to reach either Dr. Jacobs or Dr. Andrássy."
Carmen, the other research assistant should be here soon. If he's not late. But then, this is Carmen we're talking about, so that could very well be the case.
"Did it seem like anything had been stolen?"
It's the police who will tell her the equipment looks either vandalized or destroyed, and won't she give them an inventory for the report? The others are wrapping the area up in police tape. It's a crime scene, though they aren't quite sure what type of crime just yet.
A lone detective gets to the warehouse. There aren't any bodies and that means he stands their inspecting the blood like he's not quite sure what to make of it. He hasn't really started paying attention to the state of the doors yet.
When he walks up to Verna he begins asking her the same questions she had been asked already. He's playing catchup. He hasn't done the reading. He doesn't seem to know much.
“Have you been able to get in contact with the owners? If it was drug-related, there's a chance someone got hurt breaking down that door, which explains the blood,” because he's trying to avoid anything more complicated than the conclusion he's already come to.
“There was more inside. In the basement,” and what he means is the lab, but to him it's just a basement.
05-30-2014, 09:57 PM
(This post was last modified: 05-30-2014, 10:05 PM by FadedNoel.)
At the mention that the lab equipment was vandalized and destroyed, Verna pales. Why? Why would someone waste it like that? Why not sell it, get some money? What's the use of breaking in with expensive equipment, and then destroying some more expensive equipment?
It means that the dream is over. She's going to have to find a new job now for sure. Or, possibly, crawl back begging for her old one. That thought has her staring at the asphalt, while the detective asks her questions she's answered several times.
If it's drug related, he says, and that's a hypothesis Verna's already ruled out. If it was some drug fiend, they'd have used a crowbar or broken a window. Why take the hardest possible way into the place? Why not take anything to sell?
"No, I haven't been able to contact either Dr. Jacobs or Dr. Andrássy. And... does what happened to that door look to you like the work of some drug addict?"
Verna's not asking. She's stating the ridiculousness.
"There are two sets of explosive impact points deforming what's left of the door, about 9 inches in diameter. That door is heavy, meant to stand up to rough treatment. Do you think someone punched it open? They used a battering ram of some kind, and completely neglected to so much as break a window," she says, trying to impress upon him the strangeness.
"Someone came here with heavy equipment made to bust down doors, and they very well wanted to use it," Verna says, and sighs. "I just can't imagine who would do it. The only thing that makes a shred of sense might be someone whose interests would be harmed by our research -- someone who would want to keep what we're working on from reaching the light of day. Why else would they just come here to destroy everything?"
Verna, by now, is thinking corporate thugs. There are those who wouldn't like to see cheap, room temperature quantum computers. It's a breakthrough that threatens to cause a ripple effect -- a disruption. Or, perhaps it was anti-technology terrorists. But who would even know that this is the lab of the Dr. Andrássy working on it?
Some stray thought, something she heard comes back to her then. More?
"You said there's more in the basement? More what? Blood?"
She takes a breath to steady herself. It's not his. It's got to be whoever destroyed the door. They got cut. That's all.
Noel @ 10:04PM
[Charisma 3 + Empathy 2 = Believe me about the door!]
Roll: 5 d10 TN6 (5, 7, 8, 9, 10) ( success x 4 )
The detective seems to have been going with the easiest possible explanation. Not the one that makes the most sense, but the one that makes his life a little easier. It's the path of least resistance to assume drugs are involved, that something must've been taken to be sold for a quick buck, that kids broke in for a place to party and trashed the place, or any other out of a dozen explainations that don't call for much follow-up or paperwork.
But there's blood and Verna makes a very compelling point. The man, in his off-the-rack suit, turns around and sizes up the door where it's crumpled like paper just within the frame. He turns back to Verna and manages to notice what mention of more blood has done to her disposition.
"It's not much. If someone was..." He stops himself. "It would be more," trying to explain himself better. He points down at the dust where it's disturbed. "None outside."
"Alright, miss, I'll tell you what," and then he tells her:
"We're going to get a forensic team down here to take a look, take a few blood samples, and we're going to get some pictures. To be honest, it looks like the place was turned upside down, but that's not uncommon. We're not going to know if something's missing until we do a walk through with the owner, but as you can't seem to get in touch with either of them, it would help the investigation if you could give us an inventory," and his eyebrows go up, as if he's testing how far down that road she wants to go, leaving her to think on it and answer later as he moves on.
"It sounds like this place isn't no Radio Shack, and if there's a lot of valuable property damaged, we're going to try and find out what happened," because Verna seems to have cracked a hard shell here.
"Can you give us the contact information for your employers," and he flips his notebook open, readies a pen, and writes down whatever she has to offer.
Verna nods at the detective, but she looks at the asphalt. Yes, not enough blood for... none outside. It's a relief.
So is his assertion that they're going to take this seriously. She looks up at him, and gives him a sad smile. "Thank you," she says, in true gratitude.
"I've done the inventories on the lab myself. I can get you an inventory if I can find the data," she says. That is, if she can find the inventory data in the lab they refer to as 'turned upside down'.
She gives the man what she knows. The two men's phone numbers, René's email address (because Dr. Andrássy never used anything but paper to communicate). She doesn't have their home addresses, but what lab assistant would be privy to such information? It just never came up. There were never any invites for the staff to have dinner at the boss's house or anything.