Welcome to No Books of Men! We are a modern alternate history board set in a magical school nestled in the Columbiana Valley of the Rocky Mountains. Students of the Collegium Illustrata Columbiana (commonly called simply The Academy) are free to explore their wildest imaginations in learning the mystic arts, so long as it does not jeopardize the ongoing Shadow War with the Exarchs. How will you live up to the legacies of Merlin?
darkkenchild is the Head Admin here at No Books. He enjoys long walks on the beach and debating the metaphysical underpinnings of reality, so any questions about your character , the plot of No Books, and/or how magic works on the site, please do not hesitate to ask him.
Squeeji is the head of “Human Resources” here at No Books, and responsible for pretty much everything related to our contact with the outside world. Advertising, orientation, and just about anything to do with bringing in new blood is in her wheelhouse.
After running into a strange Scandinavian man named Walter on campus one night, and subsequently drilling him with riddles and math questions, Dexter had become absolutely and utterly convinced that the man was actually a machine. His own personal observations were enough to convince himself, but he was lacking any sort of solid proof that might convince others. The townsfolk had to know the truth. He had to find solid proof that people in Columbiana were slowly being replaced by robotic replicas of themselves. Unfortunately he couldn’t do it on his own. He could only be in so many places at once.
It was time to take drastic measures. Dexter had done some investigating and found the contact information of a private investigator by the name of Veronica Bell. Could she be trusted? Well that was yet to be seen, but if she could help him find the proof he needed then it might be worth it.
And so he sent Veronica an email:
The people in this town are in grave danger. I require your assistance in finding the proof I need to convince everyone of this danger. Meet me behind the pharmacy at 10:00pm January 18th so we can discuss the terms of your employment. Come alone. Remove the battery from your cell phone so they can’t track your movements.
True to his email, Dexter was out behind the pharmacy at the specified time and date, standing with his back against the wall, wearing a deerstalker, and holding a lit cigarette on a holder.
The day had been uneventful for Veronica, just printing photos and checking emails, one of those days where she could stay at home calmly without any care in the world, days like these had to exist or Veronica would go insane. Relax time.
However, she found an interesting email from a certain D "Okay, don't make obvious jokes, Veronica..." she said to herself smiling, but the comic spirit fed away when she kept reading.
Danger? What danger? What was happening? Okay, sometimes it was just panic or someone was just overreacting, it had already happened to Veronica, she had replied to an emergency call and then it had turned out to be nothing.
So, although Veronica was worried, a part of her was even skeptical. She prepared to go out and she had the mobile with her, but with no battery as the email said. Veronica arrived at the pharmacy and walked behind it. She couldn't help but smile seeing a man wearing the Sherlock Holmes hat "Mr. D?" she asked approaching him.
Dexter watched the young woman approach, eyes narrowed in skepticism. Could she be trusted? Was she one of them? Well, he’d have to trust her for now if he wanted more information on Walter. “Yes, Ms. Bell?” He beckoned her closer with his finger and lowered his voice to a strained whisper.
“I have to know if I can trust you, really trust you. You see…” He took a long drag on his cigarette holder, held it for a beat, and then exhaled. “...There are strange things happening in this town, terrible things. I met a man the other day, saved him from an owl attack. He seemed perfectly normal...” He paused again, this time for dramatic effect. “...from the outside. I asked him a few questions to help determine whether or not he was actually human, it’s necessary in a town like this of course. Half the school board has already been replaced by robots, so you never know…”
Dexter glanced around nervously once more, as if expecting something to pop out from behind a dumpster and grab him. “He answers were not satisfactory. I have reason to believe that he may not actually be a human, but another one of those cybernetic replacements they’ve been rolling out for the past few years.” Of course there was no proof that these replacements actually existed. Dexter had believed in them for years now, but without solid proof nobody else seemed to believe in them, but he knew better. He knew the truth.
Veronica approached the man in front of her, he seemed nervous, careful that nobody was around and then she thought that he was also a little bit paranoid when he started talking about trust...of course he could trust her, he was her client after all, but the man seemed extra careful "He must have good reasons to be so paranoid about this" Veronica thought and then looked down at his cigarette frowning a little, she didn't like the smell of cigarettes, it always gave her a headache, but she could bear it.
"Saved him from a owl attack, this story is already interesting" she thought while listening to D, but she wasn't so impressed about hearing that horrible things were happening in this city because horrible things happened everywhere and she had still to know what all of this was about only then she would decide if be upset or not.
Veronica played it cool, she was serious and especially she was professional so she didn't make any face expression when D started talking about people replaced by robots, apparently the school was the target. She kept listening seriously, trying to understand what was happening. D kept looking around nervously and Veronica started understanding why, if people were really replaced by robots then all of this was really problematic.
"Of course people are not replaced by robots, Veronica..." the logic side of her thought, but strange things had happened in this city, things that she still couldn't understand and besides investigators had to have an open mind, maybe all this stuff about robots could bring to something worse or not...it didn't really matter though because if the client wanted to investigate about robots then Veronica had to investigate about robots "So, you need my help to find proof that this man has been replaced by a robot?" Veronica asked to know what the client wanted from her. D was a very peculiar man and this story about robots added to his peculiarity.
Dexter nodded at Verionica’s summary of his intentions. “Yes, I need proof. You’d think in a town like this that people would be better at just opening their damn eyes,” Given all the other weird shit that happened in the Valley, was an invasion of robots really that bizarre? “but even though I am sure of it, nobody else wants to see the truth.” It got frustrating after a while, being constantly dismissed as a liar, a madman, a loon, but that didn’t mean Dexter was going to stop fighting the good fight. The good citizens of Columbiana needed someone looking out for them, and Dexter was determined to be that person.
“But before I tell you who this man is, I need to know if I can trust you...because if you’re one of them...” If she was a robot too, or working with them, she could very well destroy or hide any evidence Dexter sought. While he couldn’t vet her as thoroughly as he would have liked, it was necessary to establish some level of trust. “If you’re not one of them or in any way affiliated with them, then you have to swear it on something real important.”
He was right about opening eyes, strange things happened in this city. The quarantine was one of them. So, all of this was really serious for him and trust was necessary. However, Veronica frowned when he asked to swear on something really important like kids did "Okay..." she nodded deciding to play along, okay, this wasn't common, but her client wasn't common either. Also, she felt sorry for him because apparently people didn't believe him...going around thinking that people were robots was bizarre, but still.
I had never thought that I would have said this...Veronica thought before swearing "I swear on my parents that I am not a robot" her parents were important even though they were dead. Veronica wasn't really a robot, or maybe she was and she just didn't know...no, she wasn't. However, she was taking this seriously because her client was serious about this. Veronica had worked on bizarre cases already and those cases were always interesting, she had to admit it. Veronica looked around moving her head "You believe me?" she asked him rising a brow, however she was wondering something else too.
"Why are we downtown? Shouldn't we be at the Campus?" Veronica asked curiously, but then she remembered that she had to wait for his response about trusting her or not. She hoped that he trusted her because she really wanted to work at his case, it seemed fun. Ok, if it turned out to be true then it was a problem too, but it was fun for now. Sure, that was what she was thinking, but outside she was professional and serious. She looked at him waiting for him to decide if he could trust her or not.
Swearing on her parents, well it probably wasn’t the most dramatic answer she could have, but it was good enough for Dexter. For now at least. He’d have to pry a little more, see what he could learn about her later after she had helped him uncover Walter’s secrets. “Yeah, I believe you..for now.” He said, looking around suspiciously once more.
“Well, we’re here because…” Dexter paused, wondering whether or not he wanted to let Veronica on to this tidbit of information. “Because this is the pharmacy…” He gestured to the building he was leaning up against. “...and I work here.” It wasn’t completely safe, not like his home, but the pharmacy was familiar terrain so if anything bad happened, he knew the lay of the land.
“So anyway, the guy I need you to investigate is named Walter. I don’t know his last name.” Dexter took another long drag on his cigarette holder. “He’s a real math wiz, like, too good. I don’t remember his last name, but he’s Norwegian or something…” Dexter couldn’t quite remember for sure, it was hard to tell all those Scandinavian countries apart.
Veronica had to restrain from smiling, that man was funny in his own way, however she still managed to keep a professional expression. She nodded when he said that he believed her, good, she could work at this case then. Veronica looked at the pharmacy's wall beside her and then to D, she still didn't even know his full name yet, but it was normal, some of her clients didn't want to tell her their names for multiple reasons.
"Okay" Veronica nodded when he informed her that he worked here, if that was true then she could find out more info about D...if she wanted to. Then finally she got to know more about the person D thought was a robot. It still sounded crazy, but Veronica had to be professional. It was Walter and seemed a math professor "So, this Walter works at the Campus?" she asked "A math professor?" she rose a brow "If he works at the campus then I should find info about him especially if he is so good in math and if he is Norwegian or something like Norwegian" she had to find this person to investigate about him, there had to be documents about this Walter.
Veronica glanced at the cigarette when D took another long drag, she really didn't like smoking and cigarettes and whatever related to that "There is anything else?" she asked D curiously. Finding out if someone was a robot wasn't an everyday request, at least was odd enough to be interesting.
“I don’t know if he works on campus, or if he’s even a professor.” Dexter hadn’t really stuck around to find out after the incident with the Turing test. “That’s part of what I want you to figure out. Occupation, species, directive...just anything you can dig up on this guy.” Hopefully it wouldn’t be too much trouble. Columbiana wasn’t that large of a city though and if Veronica was as good at her job as she advertised, well it wouldn’t be too difficult.
“Yes, how much do you charge for your services?” Dexter reached into one of his many pockets and pulled out a roll of bills. Cash was, of course, his preferred way to pay for anything. It was harder to trace than checks or credit cards. “I can give you a down payment up front, and the rest when you find what I’m looking for.” It seemed like a reasonable enough offer to him, though this wasn’t exactly his area of expertise.
Pausing briefly, he dug into another pocket to retrieve what appeared to be a business card. On it was nothing but his first name and telephone number. Better not to give out too much information to people he didn’t fully trust. “You already have my email address, but if you need to contact me quickly, call this number.” He held the card out and offered it to Veronica.
Veronica nodded "I can do that" searching someone's background was everyday work for a private investigator. However, she shook her head when D offered to pay her right away "No, sir, I get my pay only if the job is done" that was one of the reasons why most people went to her, hoping that they weren't going to pay anything, but Veronica knew how to do her job, D didn't know about the payment so he hadn't required her services because of that.
Veronica took the business card and smiled reading the name "Oh! Finally I know your full name, D...exter!" she looked at him with a smile "Your name is like that serial killer from the tv series..." she just noticed that she was talking too much and inappropriately, saying to someone that their name reminded of a fictional serial killer wasn't an appropriate thing.
The private investigator cleared her throat trying to pretend that she hadn't just said anything and put the business card in the pocket of her jeans "I'll check on this Walter and I'll keep you posted" she nodded trying to return on a professional tone.
Not having to pay upfront was a pleasant surprise, but Dexter didn’t argue. With a shrug he tucked the wad of bills back into the pocket he had pulled them out of just a moment earlier. When Veronica remarked on his name, he nodded. “Well I was always told I was named after Dexter Gordon. I did meet Jeff Lindsay in a bar in Miami once though. I suspect he must have liked my name so much that he chose to name the character after me.”
If Dexter was at all upset by being compared to a fictional serial killer, he certainly didn’t show it. Instead he simply turned his attention to what Veronica said next. “Good.” He paused, adjusting his deerstalker and taking another long drag on his cigarette. “Now if that’s all you need, I have...matters to attend to.” He looked around briefly, checking to make sure the coast was clear before turning as if to leave.
“Oh.” He paused. “Be cautious when you leave, and maybe double back to check for bugs and make sure you’re not being followed. You never know in a town like this…” He warned before disappearing into the night.
"Wow" that's all Veronica managed to say when Dexter talked about the creator of the fictional serial killer, she had read the novels, the original work. Veronica was actually amazed by this, but she remembered that she was here for a job, no chitchatting.
Veronica nodded finding Dexter's paranoiac side very amusing, but her face didn't show her amusement. So, she looked at him while he was walking away and she felt a shiver down her spine...what if she met a real serial killer? Veronica shook her head and walked towards the her car "Don't be silly, Veronica, it's not if but when because of your joba" she thought with a sigh.
"Better start now" she had to make fake ids to visit certain areas of the campus. Veronica always made ids from scratch to be sure that the cards couldn't lead to her. So, she entered in her car and drove to her destination.