The factory was a low-slung box on the edge of the city proper. The front was the office entrance, and around the side I could see the factory trucks moving stuff in and out. Factory creation was closely tied to deep-level kernel code for the server. For any item on the server, someplace in the kernel, it determined that certain raw materials and skills could be used to produce that item. Usually, the server's decisions made sense, but as people invented new kinds of items, occasionally the requirements would get strange. One of the key repulsorlift components required a "Zofrat Monkey" to build. What a small, six legged furball had to do with repulsorlifts, no one knew.
I went around to the side, where the trucks were coming in and out. There were several dozen NPCs doing manual labor. I ignored them and they ignored me. I walked through one of the loading doors, and made no attempt to hide myself. Instead, I walked around, looking at crates, and scribbling down numbers on the pad I carried.
"Excuse me." I turned, and there was a factory tech behind me. He was emoting obvious displeasure. It was a natural voiced character; coming over the mike they sounded nasal and pinched. "Can I help you with something?"
"Yeah, I'm David Crane, contracting for the Hack-Hunter guild." I handed him a business card. This particular one contained a forged digital signature that verfied what I had just said, and a script that would corrupt the signature it after it had been read once. Impersonating a Jackboot was bad, so I had it setup to destroy the evidence.
"And what do you want?" The voice was pure synth, and very high quality. It bad a bass rumble and a Brooklyn drawl. That, coupled with an appearance that screamed "guido" made the character out to look like some strange far-future mafioso.
I guestured around me to the crates. "An anonymous tip informed the Hack-Hunters that this factory was exceeding its output quota. I was sent to see if that's the case, and if so, how best to implement the strictures of the Artifical-Scarcity Treaty of GY03."
He was still and silent for a few minutes. Probably PVing with another player, perhaps even my target, xZachary_BraiNx. "Alright, listen, the factory head is going to be down here in a minute, he'll talk to you about this. Don't touch anything."
"Of course, of course."
He vanished, and true to his word, xZachary_BraiNx was down a minute later. I recognized his avatar from the file my secretary had put together. I emoted offering my hand, saying, "Hi there Mr. Brain, I'm David C-"
"I know how the fuck you are. What do you want?"
I killed the emote, withdrawing my hand. "Well sir..."
"There's nothing shady about my operation, and I'm likely to sue you and your fucking Jackboots for harrassment in a real-world court of law if you don't get out of my factory in ten seconds."
"I'm not with the Jackboots."
"What? t00lboi said you were."
"t00lboi is mistaken. I'm an independant investigator, following up a few questions on behalf of Aikenhal."
"You've talked to Aikenhal?"
I shook my head. "No, I've been in contact with someone acting in his stead. Following up on a PK he experienced sometime around 0730GMT yesterday."
He glanced around, the emoted for me to follow him. "Come up to my office Mr. Crane. We'll talk. Things have been a nightmare since Aikenhal's account was terminated."
"How so?" We walked off the factory floor, into a hallway, at the end of the which was a chain of offices.
"There's no chain of ascendance in Syndatex. I mean, we count on people leaving the game, but usually by choice. Usually they'll take time out to make sure that someone's setup to take their place, you know what I mean?" He led me inside his office, and took a seat behind a large wooden desk. The resolution in here was fantastic; even the small potted plants scatted about the room were in crisp detail; their leaves would dance in faint breezes. "Alright, so what do you want to know?"