“Ours is the fellowship of strangers who know a secret that we cannot express. We are both of us broken, shattered, hollow and alone. Only for the ones we love do we remain, painted dolls in the playhouse of this life.” — Claire North
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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Rossum Corporation is the world’s largest manufacturer of brain imaging equipment. Rossum also has a worldwide network of diagnostic medical laboratories that service millions of patents each year. The neural map of each patient scanned by their machines is added to Rossum’s database and similarly the results of every blood test that passes through their labs is aggregated. Finally, as a successful drug conglomerate Rossum found its way onto the shelves of every major pharmacy in the world.
Those sorts of connections and that sort of reach should satisfy any enterprising man or woman with so much available data to sell to the highest bidder. It’s not enough, and Rossum has found something else to sell to the wealthiest people of the world.
Rossum operates a secret subsidiary organization informally known as ‘Dollhouses,’ using neural wiping and imprinting technology to provide programmable people to wealthy bidders for a variety of services. Those services, depending on the specialties of a given House, range from the indulgence of sexual fantasies to covert operations that call for very particular skills. Each ‘engagement’ typically comes with a very high price tag. The Dollhouses continue to find willing clients.
The Toronto Dollhouse, sometimes called the “T-Dot” or (locally) “the Arb,” is hidden beneath the Humber Arboretum west of the the actual Toronto city border. The Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, commonly known as Humber College, is a publicly-funded polytechnic college and it somewhat discreetly houses some of the brightest minds in neuroscience, human biology, and computer science. The next Mari Sandvick or Topher Brink will surely be forged in the secret Rossum-funded labs of Humber College.
The Toronto Dollhouse is over 90% subterranean. A security hub and private office for the facility’s director, Gelila Kebede, are hidden within the Centre for Urban Ecology. Kebede has overseen the affairs of the House for approximately three years and has been a consistent buffer between the House’s employees and the Rossum executives; however, her visits to the underground facilities have not been frequent in the past. The School of Applied Technology building on the south side of the Humber campus is occupied by some additional House offices, storage, and the entrance to a 150 meter maximum security tunnel leading to the lower portions of the facility.
The new programmer at the T-Dot has had only a handful of weeks to be brought up to speed locally but arrived with a healthy amount of experience in dollhouse operations. The previous holder of the post, computer whiz and neuroscientist Doctor Patricia Anstine, quit very suddenly. No one on the ground level of the dollhouse work truly knows why Dr. Anstine was so quick to leave but the gossip around it has at times been downright comical. It is known that various bits of hardware had gone missing at the same time as her departure. One of the House’s prized Actives, a male called ‘Elder,’ was consigned to the Attic shortly after Anstine was gone. Director Kebede considers these matters unfit for water cooler fodder, but she doesn’t do much of anything to police the rumor mill.
It is known that Rossum Corporation’s board members have been trying to tap the T-Dot’s more popular dolls lately but Director Kebede has been resisting this. She has been trying to “keep the garden pure,” doing her subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) part to keep the Actives in very good physical and – apparently – moral health. Kebede and Dr. Anstine quarreled occasionally over the amount of aggression or impaired ethics programmed into various profiles that the House would use. Both sides found ways to compromise and both seemed to feel they had come out on the right side when a given engagement ended successfully.
Recent engagements at the T-Dot have solidly reinforced its reputation of being ‘The Good Dollhouse.’ Kidnappings thwarted, charming and well-groomed dolls auctioned off as ‘perfect dates’ to the highest bidder for charity, and espionage focused on undermining human trafficking have been commonplace over the summer of 2009 and the past few weeks.
This narrative’s place in the greater story line of Joss Whedon’s ‘Dollhouse’ television show places it some number of weeks prior to Topher Brink’s initial development of ranged wiping technology in the fall of 2009. Mentions of activities in the L.A. House and/or the Washington D.C. House will be kept to a minimum out of my respect for maintaining a sense of story continuity.
The narrative begins in the middle of an intense and very expensive engagement that the Director of the Toronto House, Gelila ‘Lila’ Kebede, had been brokering for several months. Two Actives and their handlers are on scene. The House’s programmer and physician are expected to be on-call for any particular challenges that may arise during the engagement. The director’s assistant may (as a player’s character) be around to supervise and support the director’s agenda.
This first engagement requires a variety of skills including subterfuge, physical aptitude, and specialized knowledge; and, the amount of programming involved cost the House many, many hours of work and the best technology that Rossum Corporation has amassed.
The initial setup will not be consistent through subsequent chapters as the Toronto House begins to grapple with internal intrigues and sabotage, forcing the characters to reassess the work they do and how they do it.
Hosted and narrated by:
Chris "Truman" Aitken (Truman)
Scenes played: 1
License: Community License