|Puzzles: the game is full of them. Sometimes a good dose of curiosity will lead you to the solution (calling telephone numbers, sending e-mails to addresses you come across, etc.) but sometimes you really need to get your brain into gear, or to enlist the help of your friends and family. The puzzle on Laia's home page was definitely in the latter category. In fact, it was only after a tip off that I found out that by using the names for the chemical elements as in the Periodic Table, you could come up with coronersweb.org. Which, as you have no doubt recognized, is a Web address. Race you there!
And you'll see that you end up at the Pan-American Coroner's Office, who performed the autopsy on Evan Chan. The date of his death is given as March 8 2142. There's no doubt that he was killed - we knew already that he was an experienced sailor, unlikely to have an accident, but the autopsy confirms that he had received a number of blows to the head, that he had been in a state of sexual excitement before his death and that he had Belladerma-made synthetic skin under his fingernails. Sounds much like your average crime of passion to me. Except that AIs aren't supposed to commit crimes of passion, or crimes of any sort for that matter. Venus would definitely be a good person (sorry, a good AI) to talk to at this point, maybe she will give up some clues if and when she is caught. My guess is that someone tampered with her circuits to make her do it. But that's pure speculation, reader.
Belladerma's web site gives you an idea of just how much the world of AIs has changed since our time. They can create customized life-like AIs for all sorts of different roles, though you get the feeling that their AIs are little more than beautiful objects to be selected from a catalogue. How do people view AIs in this future world? I'm not sure that our social status has been greatly improved, by the sound of it.
I tried contacting Belladerma's customer service, and someone called Pia Viagio kindly sent me a fax in return. She is contacting Enrico Basta about a replacement for his missing AI, no doubt Venus, who will be "submissive and dependent - but deeply bound out of joy". Hm! Pia also left her e-mail address, and that gives some weirdly written message, itself containing a phone number to call (you should try this, it's fun!). The phone number lets you hear the recording of part of a conversation between a man and a woman about Belladerma wanting to capture a robot, and how they're thinking of using the services of Rogue Retrieval, as the SPCB isn't up to the job. The difference being the costů So I guess Belladerma are pretty worried about one of their creations being implicated in a murder and still on the loose. Not good for the corporate image at all!