The Human Equation – Shadowrun

I ran this at Phantasm in April.  It was a high-powered one-off.

The runners are contacted by Judge for a datasteal. The meet is at 8PM at the old Club Penumbra to iron out the details.

Penumbra is quiet, even compared to usual when the runners show up, but the deafening music is still plenty loud to drown out any would-be eavesdropping. Judge awaits the team in a private booth, shortly before the scheduled time and once the team arrives, he gets down to business.

“Thanks for coming guys. My client is looking for you to steal a new design for an interceptor drone being designed by Mitsuhama. The company he represents is looking to compete with Mitsuhama for the same contract and wants to see what they’re competing against. They aren’t looking for the complete destruction of the data, but merely a clean copy of their development notes and wiping it from the facility mainframe to corrupt any existing manufacturing programs.

“The complication is that the Mitsuhama complex is relatively remote and MCT has implemented their usual zero-zone mentality with the grounds. Automated security will be prevalent. As a result of this hazard, the employer is willing to offer 12000¥ apiece for the retrieval of this data.”

Everything about this job from the eyes of the employer is on the level. There are outside issues at work within the MCT compound, but the hiring party truthfully has no idea about any of it.

There is some slight room for negotiation on the price, but without the risk of outside interference, they won’t move much on the value. If the runners sign on, Judge will hand them the address of the compound where the data is supposed to be stored. MCT purchased a large chunk of land in Everett, backing on to Snohomish and the NAN, where there would be less risk of urban sprawl encroaching on the grounds and of “accidental trespass” from air traffic.

Security at the compound is very tight, as Mitsuhama does a lot of their prototype research at the facility. The automated security systems automatically target any person or vehicle entering the grounds without a safe transponder. The runners will likely want to track one of these down so they can get through the front gate without being shot at.

What’s Going On

The facility, on paper, is a drone and robotics design facility, but what sits underground is the reason for the heightened security. The commercial drones manufactured upstairs as nothing on the military prototyping going on underneath. The military drone design is run by a man named Stanley King. Considered an academic genius, but a social outcast, there are virtually no records of him after 2067, when he spoke too freely of his project with the wrong person, bringing bad press to Mitsuhama.

Isolated, with only a small team and cut off from most of society, King has grown to resent the company that granted him the resources to truly test his theories on cybernetic and robotic intelligence. With the spark unleash over the Matrix in the wake of Deus, an internal search routine in Mitsuhama’s network took on the signs of sentience and Dr. King took the fledgling AI under his wing as a research assistant. With ordered and methodical approach to all research, soon the AI (named ARAS or Autonomous Research Assistant System) became the doctor’s preferred research partner. Able to reason out any logical problem, his research leaped ahead at an incredible rate.

Unfortunately for Dr. King, the very flaws in humans he despised would be his own downfall. Lack of sleep, poor nutrition and high stress gives him a minor heart attack and a stroke that paralyses half his face. Using the fundamental principles of the false front implant, he implants cybernetics in an effort to control the musculature of his face using neural direction with respectable success.

The continued stresses on his body ultimately took their toll and a couple weeks ago Dr King suffered a massive cardiac arrest and died. When Mitsuhama moved in to claim the body and seize the project, the AI reacted poorly, seeing it as the rightful owner to all the project knowledge. It denied the company access to the body and took over the network. With the oppressive security system under it’s control, MCT orders a complete evacuation of the complex.

ARAS has now resumed the study they had begun, but now had Dr. King’s body to test the experiments on a human scale.

The Facility

Despite being in the metroplex boundaries, Mitsuhama has purchased enough land on the outskirts of Everett to give themselves a decent amount of privacy. The compound is walled off, with a large open field between the outer wall and the building. The air is normally buzzing with drones and the human security presence is minimized, so if something does go down, there is a lower likelihood of friendly fire.

However, this time there is zero human security and while the drones are still actively patrolling, they don’t appear to concern themselves with the runners (if they took the time learn or acquire a safe code, they may not think anything of this). Drone security doesn’t intervene unless the runners start snooping around in places that ARAS doesn’t want them.

The lower levels is where Dr. King’s lab had been set up and this may be the first real evidence that something has gone horribly wrong here. MCT security lies dead near the doors into the hangar where the drones would be initially put through their paces. In order to acquire their paydata, they will need to cross the hangar, where they will meet the new Dr. King. They will meet ARAS as they jack in to acquire their data.

Dr. Stanley King

Born to a prestigious family Dr Stanley King was encouraged that he was meant for better things.

Childhood.
– Dr. King was pressured to succeed at an early age.
– He was introduced to reading and writing at the age of two, and heavily brow-beaten by his mother to learn quickly
– He was a quiet and demure child who felt intimidated by his dominant mother.
– at the age of three he was signed up for pre-school but bored of it quickly, he was far more advanced than the other children.
– because of his advanced learning he felt he was superior to the other children, he never fit in with his peers but it bothered him very little seeing as they were ‘lesser beings’
– His father was almost absent in his life. He was a dedicated scientist who was ill-fit for a family life. He spent most of his time ignoring Stanley.
– Stanley was deeply hurt by his father’s absence in his life but looked up to him and wanted to be just like him.

Teens
– Stanley was once again outpacing his classmates.
– He made few friends as he breezed through high school with straight A’s
– During his teen years he began to bond more with his gruff and temperamental father. They bond over their shared intellect and interest in science.
– His mother was proud of his intellect and used it to bully other women in her ‘group of friends’
– Stanley begins to be ashamed of his intellect around his peers. He’s suddenly wants to fit in and interact with his peers more.
– He goes through a brief period of time where he tries desperately to fit in but tries to hard. He ends up separating himself further from his peers.

Early Adulthood
– Stanley excels wonderfully in his university studies. For once he finds a small group of friends who share similar intellect.
– he doesn’t quite fit in still, but with his misfit friends he feels like he at least belongs to something.
– against his mother’s wishes, he moves away from home for a semester. His mother cuts him off financially until he’s forced to return home
– he lives at home well into his 30’s

Current
– His parents are ageing, they are in a nursing home, however Stanley feels little connection to them now.
– In his mind they were now husks of what they once were.
– He kept up contact with his university friends for some time, but eventually they all got married, had children and moved away. His bachelor life no longer in synch with their lives.
– He feels isolated and betrayed by his friends. He feels like his parents are already dead.

Work
– He is hard on his employees, often nit picking at their work and relishing in finding mistakes.
– Employees have complained he is moody and self-serving
– Upper management views him as a diva, he needs to be watched and waited on constantly, demanding equipment that is expensive or difficult to obtain.
– He clashes easily with management, feeling that their intellect can not possibly match his.

In 2065, he began working with Mitsuhama in their R&D division in Everett. His high intellect and natural gift for cybernetics sees him move up the ranks quickly, though he leaves a lot of bitter colleagues in his wake. Studying the early days of cyborg “Jarhead” integration, his project was making considerable progress, when in a bout of drunken bragging at a local bar, he spoke to plainly of his work to a dirt-digging reporter. The resulting news article brought a lot of negative press and the project was officially terminated.

Unofficially, the project continued and King was kept under close surveillance. Chained to his job, his resentment toward the corporation grew. With his abrasive nature, the project was seeing many technician’s and scientists abandoning the project. When it seemed that the project would fail due to the brilliant, but crass mind behind it, a fledgling AI was born with the doctor’s archival system. Naming it ARAS, they tasked the two intellects together and using mechanical assistance, the project continued in near isolation.

A year ago, the stress of the job and his now-hatred of MCT’s short leash gave Dr. King a stroke and a minor cardiac attack. His face partially paralysed, he used his own research to reanimate the side of his face using cybernetics. Using this practical knowledge, he began to extrapolate how a tethered brain might puppet an entire body.

A couple weeks ago, Dr. King suffered a massive cardiac arrest as was dead before he hit the floor. As MCT moved in to claim the body, ARAS took offence to the Mitsuhama team’s interruption to their research and seized the security systems, killing the security team and forcing an evacuation of the compound. Using their research to date and having a fresh brain to experiment on, ARAS took his mentor’s mind and strapped it into one of MCT’s newest prototypes.

Using a mature brain, life as a cyborg has not been an easy transition for Dr. King. He suffers from Chronic Disassociation Syndrome and his general dislike of human companionship has bloomed into outright Xenophobia. Being strapped into a mech designed for stopping armored vehicles, as made his angry disposition a nasty combination. Should he have a moment of clarity and recall his dislike of Mitsuhama, the damage he could inflict could be tremendous.

The Man – Dr. Stanley King

Charisma 3, Intuition 4, Logic 5, Willpower 4, Edge 3

Response 4, Signal 4, Initiative 8, Init Passes 4

Skills: Running 3, Leadership 4, Negotiation 4, Hardware 5, Cybertechnology 6, Computer 5, Perception 4, Cybercombat 3

Skillsofts: Unarmed Combat 4, Gunnery 4, Pilot Anthroform 4

Knowledge and Language: Neurology 5, MCT Corporate Policy 5, Chess 4, Japanese 5, English N, Genealogy 4, Drone Design 4

Qualities: Uncouth, College Education, Fame, Juryrigger, Chronic Disassociation Syndrome, Xenophobia (Moderate)

The Machine – MCT Hogosha (Guardian)

Designed as an all-terrain, environmentally sealed war drone, it was built to smash through any landscape and destroy enemy armor or gun emplacements. It is a bipedal walker drone that stands roughly 2.5 stories tall, fully deployed.

Handling 0, Accel 5/15, Speed 30, Pilot 3, Body 25, Armor 15, Sensor 3

Features: Cyborg Cranial Unit, ECM Rating 10, Improved Economy, Lock-on Countermeasures, 3 Reinforced External Fixed Remote Weapon Mounts (Shoulder, left arm, right arm), 1 Reinforced Internal Flexible Remote Weapon Mount (Chest), 2 mechanic arms (underside of torso, retractable)

Weapons: (Arms) Fleche Hail Barrage Rocket Pods (see Arsenal), loaded with Anti-Vehicular Rockets

(Shoulder) Espirit Poignard Anti-Tank Missile (see Mil-Spec Tech)

(Chest) Vanquisher Autocannon with Anti-Vehicular rounds (see Arsenal)

(Mechanical Arms) have a strength of 25 and Reach of 2.5 meters (+2 Reach)

ARAS

The AI that has taken on Dr. King’s research was born out of a system designed for storing test data from countless experiments. Therefore, the AI has no emotional attachment to anything and sees everything as a methodical series of steps to ascertain the result of an experiment. It did not create the King cyborg out of a desire to unleash a mechanical horror on the world, but merely to see if it would work.

However, after years of working alone with Dr. King, all it knows of the world is what it has witnessed through Dr. King’s jaded perspective. Despite being born on a Mitsuhama server, Dr. King’s dislike of the company has been passed on to ARAS. All Mitsuhama logos and reality filters have been stripped from the digital landscape and replaced with a stripped down, more methodical approach (icons arranged in regular intervals, little actual personality). ARAS knows nothing of the real world, so it has no concept of a reality beyond the lab and the online environment reflects that. Given Dr. King’s singular purpose at Mitsuhama, ARAS is a creature of singular purpose: continue the experiment until the theory is fully proven or disproven. Nothing must interfere.

Charisma 3, Intuition 4, Logic 5, Willpower 4, Edge 3

Rating 4, Response 8*, Signal 4*, Firewall 4, System 5

Initiative 12*, Init Passes 4

Skills: Instruction 3, Etiquette 3, Artisan 3, Cracking 5, Electronics 5, Mechanic 5

Knowledge and Language: Chemistry 4, Biology 4, Neurology 4, Chess 3, Mathematics 4, MCT Corporate Policy 4, Japanese N, English 4

Qualities: Designer, Redundancy, Real World Naivete, Agenda^

Software: Command# 4, Analyze# 5, Edit# 5, Encrypt# 5, Attack 4, Decrypt 4, Stealth 5, Armor 4, ECCM 5

Home Node – MCT Research System

Response 6, Signal 2, System 6, Firewall 6 (Base Ratings)

After AI Adjustments: Response 8, Signal 4, System 9, Firewall 8

(*) The AI’s Response and Signal Rating are dependent on the native system. If ARAS moves into another system, these ranks will change.

(^) A custom Negative Quality to reflect ARAS’ mentality of pursuing its quest for knowledge at the expense of all else

(#) These programs are integral to ARAS’ core. He was “born” with them and run extra efficient.

>> Ugh, what is it with MCT wanting to design new ways to kill as many people as they can, as fast as possible?
>> Luddite

>> Hey, if it weren’t for MCT, I wouldn’t have half the toys I use to do my job.  Stealing their crap just keeps them from controlling the market and keeps us breathing.
>> Dakota

>> Interesting philosophy.  What kind of gear are you stealing, hitting a facility that makes toasters and robotic vacuum cleaners?
>> Burn

>> It’s often seen that the best stuff are the toys you hide in plain sight.  I’m sure when the curtain gets pulled back, you’ll find plenty.
>> Anonymous

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~ by 1nsomniac on May 23, 2013.

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