[Technoir] Aug Mentor

edited August 2013 in In-Game
Hey, Kesh0

How do you pronounce that by the way?

Like a lot of the less affluent folks you live here in the 'undercity' part of the ring, right? Less visibility and all that. What's your place like? Do you even pay much attention to it? Seeing your headjack, you're so tricked out that the Interface has a reality to you that it doesn't have to others. It has smells, sounds, textures you can feel with your fingers, and tastes.

People call the 'face 'augmented reality,' but compared to you, most of them have no idea how far that can really go.

Just out of curiosity, are any of your family nearby, or even here in the ring? What's your contact with them like these days?

So this game, you know the Game, the one that provided the inspiration for you. Really, it's on the verge of being more, now isn't it? I guess what I want to ask is how deeply are you involved in this thing yourself? Do you play? Or are you just a facilitator for others?

I'm guessing from your connection to Cranston, and Diamond Jack that you are sort of a part of the illegal cybernetics trade. I mean they sell the parts and you do the install right? Particularly for the members of the North American Cartel. How about the street hacker kids? You install for them too? Do you actually design implants? You said you put together your prototype with some engineers.

I'd say your just waking up, you were dreaming again, the way you do when you spend a bunch of time deep in the interface before sleeping. And the first thing that comes to mind is the delivery you picked up from Cranston yesterday. What was it?


  • I pronounce it like this. Not exactly kay'show mixed with keh-shuh, but sorta.

    Yeah, the undercity. I pay what one must pay for a normal apartment here, but I get none of the frills. What I get instead is a solid fucking door. I mean, nothing will keep determined housebreakers out, but I've done what I can to make it a hassle for the casual intruder. My room isn't big enough for all my shit and the normal furniture of life so I sleep on a bean-bag. More people should do that -- this crap from the plastic fabs is almost free these days. But a plastic mattress still sucks while a mesh bag of those exotic styrene noodles is..well, it's alright. And yeah, you've got the right of it -- my bare concrete walls are no problem because I never see them. Frex, I've got the Mona Lisa hanging over the toilet and a collection of primitive masks from around the world in the big room.

    Speaking of, the interface is what we've been working toward for all of evolution. We're still short on resources for some damn reason, but with a properly tricked interface, who gives a shit? This is our birthright.

    My folks and sisters still live in (or close enough) Mzizima. But you know Tanzanian families, I have a million cousins and some of them are engineers in Ring City. You know, the ones we talk about. There are other cousins around too, but they're in something sleazy like commerce.

    Do I play? Yeah, I mean, everyone plays The Game. Not a lot, though. Not like rich kids or the Chinese. I'm Eclipsed (you know, in-world) maybe what, ten hours a week? Most of that is just running my business though -- reaching out to buyers and sellers, providing incentives for people to do the things I need done.

    That's right, the "illegal" cybernetics trade. As if the corps have a right to dictate what we do with our bodies. And yeah, I interface the foreigners -- that's what pays the bills. That stuff is all off the rack -- those of them that come to me don't want any custom work. It's easy-peasy. The local kids, they're the ones I like to help out. I mean, it's been pointed out that I'm facilitating their competition with my own technical trade, but I can't get too into that viewpoint. It's not like these hacker kids are learning surgery in their squalid little communes. Not yet, anyway. I do work with those guys though on custom stuff. They're looking for every edge -- either in the game or in the meat; faster response times, more storage, better connection and error correction, intelligent agents at the firmware level and of course, encryption and firewalls. When all your senses are wired, you make damned sure that no one can get through and monkey with your bus. People get dead that way.

    Those dreams? I'm still not sure about what's going on with that. You got it only half right though. See, I've been sleeping with the interface active. My equipment (y'know, circuits and nerves and software and stuff) can do rudimentary stuff for me even while I sleep. I'm thinking of it as a spiritual opportunity and approaching it as a psychonaut. That's how I justified my mescaline jag a couple years ago, too. Oh, but yeah, Cranston's box. Keys. Not really even my thing, but sometimes you gotta help people out to keep the connections lubed up. And it pays the bills, right? So these keys are actually small electronic devices that enable vehicles' hardware. This new scam of ours is to augment the key with a tiny bit of live code so that instead of just accessing one vehicle (or sometimes a small fleet), they attempt to exploit weaknesses in the underlying protocol that trick many (not quite all of them yet) rides into thinking you're their guy. But shit, why was I dreaming about them?
  • Right... so why is he giving them to you? Do you program them, distribute them? How is the scam supposed to work exactly?

    So you know about Frequency, then, right? As much as anyone else does I mean. You know that they're a network child/young adult hackers. You might even know a bit more in the fact that that they're intimately connected with the Game. At least Steiner and the other big boys haven't figured that out yet. But Frequency itself... they meet and organize in virtual space.

    Anyway... you realize that you're awake because you're being pinged through the interface, by the codephrase it's one of the local kids, who you know as Havoc, also by the code phrase, it's something really fucking serious.
  • Oh, I'm not involved with the vehicles themselves or the customers. Hell, now that you mention it, I don't even know what he does -- steal rides or sell the keys? I just hack the keys and pass them back to Cranston. It's a finicky little hardware hack where the weensy little processor needs augmentation to run any code worth mentioning.

    I'll initiate my end of the handshake with Havoc's equipment, let him present on my 'face. I've got the normal look-ahead running to make sure the channel's secure and alert me to any unusual circumstances in the network between she and I. "What is it?"
  • Havoc's 'skin' materializes in you vision, standing in your apartment. A hulking brute with blue skin covered in an improbably styled combination of metal and leather. Blue arcs of lightening crackle up the thing's limbs and body. The voice is deep and rumbly, an odd contrast to the operator.

    "KeshO? Turmoil is hurt... his 'jack's been compromised and it's... it's doing something to him! He needs help!"
  • "Eh? What do you mean?" And interrupting before any explanation gets really rolling, "And where are you? What were you doing?"
  • She grunts in frustration. It comes out low through the interface.

    "We're both in the Shamble. Something got in to him. We were.... we were trying to crash the Easter Egg." By that you know she means the secured interface area around the East Terrace, the place where the richest people live, including the CEO of Steiner Technology.

    She shows you an image, a 15 year old body laying on the floor frozen like he's in a seizure.

    "I can't get in. I can't stop it."
  • "Looks bad. I'm coming."

    I'm tracing her connection. Is the point of origin right? Anything fishy going on at her location in the net? I'll start a search of the local crowd-news for anything at the Shamble. I can do that stuff while I grab my kit and head out, sealing my security behind me.
  • It seems to be. Your security is good and around their location you don't see anything fishy. The location itself is protected with a bunker, maybe more than one, no data moving in or out. Probably Havoc's.

    Crowd chatter mentions some yelling not that long ago. And that some gamers had entered the area a few hours ago, Havoc's avatar posted.

    So you take off through the undercity. You've been to the Shamble before, I assume. You know the whole undercity reasonably well, right? Why do you avoid the Shamble.. I mean, unless it's an emergency?
  • You know how it is; kids these days? I know that sounds ridiculous, but man, they're just too chaotic. I've been thinking we should augment their forebrains as toddlers, but no one wants to put their kids under the knife. Anyway, the Shamble's full of teens and y'know it's reasonable, most of the time, but you never know when some stupid kid is going to start shit for nothing and all of a sudden you have fifteen people with weapons out who know's what's going to happen. But it'll be fine.

    It's a taxi-ride to the Shamble, yeah? Shouldn't take too long to get in.
  • Yeah, it's not long before you're there, picking your way through the place. Sliding by the dangerous and the dangerous wannabes. Many more of the latter than the former. The shamble itself is a conglomeration of buildings. Some sort of manufacturing facility at one time, partially converted to living space until the money for that one ran out. It kind of got lost in the shuffle. Then the kids started moving in and now the place is something of an anthill. Even so there are plenty of empty, dangerous and private spaces in the thing.

    Havoc guides you in to the precise location by posting a quest to your Eclipscycle account that gives you the info. This whole area is pretty dense with gameplay constructs. What do you see here that wasn't here last time?

    Once you wend your way back to where she is, Havoc greets you at the door. She's a skinny little thing, just the beginning suggestions of femininity, and all of 14 but her big dark brown eyes make her seem younger. She has thick black hair, except where the sides have been shaved, and it's bound at the nape of her neck into a tail. She looks like a 'stani of some kind. From the south end Asia. When she grows up, she'll be a looker, that's for sure. If this life doesn't grind her into tiny pieces before then.

    She's also clearly panicking. "C'mon! You have to help him." She pulls you in and to Turmoil's side.

    He appears completely nerve-locked. He's a local boy. I think you installed his rig to begin with, didn't you?

    What do you do?
  • There's some dude with the mask of white face paint and about a dozen snakes. He's dancing with the serpents and a bunch of kids are hanging out there. Must be some new kind of crazy. The thing about him that most gives me pause is that he's in-world. I first notice him through The Game's interface and thought he was just some database entity but when I checked the pure feed, he was still there and looked about the same. But I don't have time to care about that too much. Probably just a new-angle pusher, anyway.

    Yeah, I installed it, but it's a clean rig. Or, y'know, it was.

    "Sit." I give the order with a gesture next to Turmoil. It's a thing that helps get useless friends-n-family to feel like you're going to be making them part of things. Helps them shut up.

    So first I check his vitals and then drop the link from my medkit into his wiring. Graphs of his cranial activity should start playing across my vision but I'm focussing on the hardware diagnostics layer first unless one of the agents I run calls out with anomalies as they parse the data faster than I can. But let's just be clear, my own firewall is turned up to 11.
  • Havoc obediently sits next to him. Her worried eyes moving quickly between him, you and what you're doing.

    The actual hardware seems to be fine, except that it isn't working as it is supposed to. It's the software that isn't looking so good, it's completely compromised. (locked) The headjack has been reprogrammed to use the nerve link to lock up his nervous system. Pretty devious right? I mean you wouldn't have said that a nerve link could act like this. Your scan doesn't detect a malicious program, though, which is weird.

    Turmoil is partially nerve-locked (sticky) with the rig still working on him. It's starting to affect his breathing and heart rate and will kill him if you don't release him from it.

    ( It's a Treat roll vs a 4 to drop the nerve-lock. It will take time to rebuild the rig's software, changing the adjective to sticky, then a Hack roll vs a 4 to drop it. Or you can pull the rig completely and install a new one, probably not in the field like this.)
  • So, clearly the thing to do immediately is save Turmoil from the nerve-lock.

    Referring back to contention in the player's guide...

    Action dice: 2
    Push dice: How do we determine what counts? It says these come from adjectives, objects and tags. Am I supposed to be free or parsimonious with these? E.g., should I claim a die for all three of my adjectives?
    Hurt dice: 0 (negative adjectives will be applied to me during play, right?)

    "discharging" a push die means using it for some effect (or at the end, just having them evaporate), right?
  • If you can explain how an adjective, an object or a tag aids you in the action you can roll a push die for it. Yes, hurt dice (negative adjectives) will be applied to you in play.

    There are two things to do with push dice. If you roll them and are successful (and the push dice are not knocked out by hurt dice) you can spend them to make an adjective sticky or locked. If you don't spend them they are discharged.

    Otherwise you only discharge push dice in reactions. If someone rolls against you, you react by taking the appropriate verb, and discharging a push die to use a adjective, object or tag, to help you defend. You can discharge as many push dice as you have in your charged area.

    So say you roll vs someone and use one adjective. You roll your verb + 1 push die. If you win, you might spend that die (give it to me) to make the adjective you assign sticky. You would still have two charged push dice available for when the enemy attempts to assert and adjective on you. (not to roll, just to discharge in order to raise the rating of your verb.)

    This is a slightly weird case as I'm using the treat rolls.
  • OK, but the push dice also increases the probability of a higher result, right? So it seems like each of these apply to this particular case pretty clearly: technical, steady, clever, headjack, medkit and firewall. I'm going to assume that you agree and just compose the roll below. If you need justification on any of that, let me know because I think that'll indicate that we're not on the same page.

    Action dice: 2
    Push dice: 6

    #DiceRoller( 8d6 )
  • And since I got a 6, that's my result.

    Is applying an adjective mechanically similar to removing an adjective?
  • Ah, before I rolled, I was supposed to narrate my action based on the dice I'm using.

    This problem with Turmoil's brain-hosing software is new, but I plop down and jack in, relying on my firewall to keep me safe and on my cleverness to be able to respond to the dynamic situation. I don't rush things just because it's serious; I'm steady like that -- taking time to halt processes on Turmoil's jack first, then activate the emergency disconnect between the electronics and the meat. I can do that stuff with thoughts while I prepare a cocktail injection, potassium and sedative mostly, to snap the brain out of the arhythmic seizure. If I don't get that all done before the heart stops, I'll just have to restart it.
  • So you actually have a 4.1 which is enough to remove his Nerve locked adjective.

    So you wrangle the disconnect, getting his nervous system free from the now malicious hardware. That combined with the shot seem to do it and his body relaxes, sill unconscious. Havoc looks at him panicked for a moment until she sees him breathe.

    The rig is a mess though, and it's not like this is off the shelf software. It will take some time to reprogram, or you could pull it and do an entirely new rig, but that's serious surgery. Still, it would let you see exactly what happened.

    Havoc looks at you.

    "Will he be okay?"
  • I'm a little noncommittal in my tone of voice, but "Yeah, I think so. Let's wait a bit, see if he wakes up and maybe we can get him back to my place where I can spend some time with his hardware. Did he have anyone mod his stuff?"
  • She shakes her head.

    "Not hardware. I mean... not that I heard of." She shrugs. "He was tricking out the software all the time. But he's good! He'd never let it get so fucked up."

    She moves her hand to touch his now peacefully moving chest.

    "It had something to do with the firewall I think. Except... Well we both know some kids who logged out in the past couple of months... just like this, only, you know..."

    Yeah, only they didn't make it.

    "But they weren't doing like us... you know? Anyway Doc Ot, she was with the last one. You know her, right?"
  • edited October 2013
    "Sure I do. But what do you mean? How was she involved?" While we chat, I'm looking at Turmoil's vitals and feeding his data out to the medical aggregation guild to see what our expert system thinks, when does it look like he'll recover consciousness?
  • "She was there when he crashed. Tried to keep him online, but he'd already been seized up for so long, she couldn't do much."

    Turmoil was under a lot of neural stress. If you gave him a stimulant he would come out but otherwise he's probably out for few hours at least.

    What do you do?
  • edited October 2013
    "Shit." I'm looking around, wondering how far we'd have to move him before there was a reasonable chance of feeling safe. Does it look like Havoc can handle carrying half of Turmoil? I've got a stretcher in my pocket but I'd rather not have to wheel him out -- faster to be carried by two. Has she gone to school or prison at some point? How do her physical fitness records flag her? If my appraising eye or the feed say she isn't up to it I'll ask her what kind of cash they have in-game to hire a porter out of here.

    However that works out, I'm also tossing off a text query to Liesbeth about her experiences with this. I think the chances that she's dirty are outweighed by knowing what she knows.
  • edited October 2013
    Um... well first Havoc is a transient, and two she's a hacker. I suppose you can try and dig up her record, but she's buried it pretty good so it would be something of a contest.
    And Havoc is maybe 45 kilos if she was soaked. Turmoil isn't that big, maybe 68 kilos, but he's almost 180cm tall, and carrying an adolescent male a long distance won't be easy for her.

    Cash however... she has some, plenty really, of in-game currency. And if you want she makes a deal with some other kids, to help you with the transport. Where are you going?

    LIesbeth texts back telling you it's complicated but she's seen five deaths in the last couple of weeks, and those are the ones she's gotten to. In fact, she says she had just decided to ping you about it
  • OK, so Havoc's friends will port and we'll head back to my compartment. I'll forward Turmoil's data to Liesbeth, implicitly asking her to reciprocate. The first thing is to make sure we're looking at the same phenomenon. Are we? What was she going to look me up for?
  • She sends you files... yes certainly the same phenomenon. Only fatal in the other cases. You were lucky to arrive when you did. The reason she was going to look you up... well that seems apparent now. You know all these faces. You're responsible for all their hardware.

    You arrive at your compartment.
  • OK then, that's kind of disturbing. While we wait for Turmoil to come around, I'll try to get Havoc to sleep and I'll try to start tracing any other common factors between the victims. I'll particularly focus on footprints left by their interfaces right before being zilched. But not just right before; has anyone else had access to their equipment? And what would have to be true in order for Liesbeth to be causing this? What would that look like?
  • I think you'd have to tell me, really. For her to be causing it? She'd have to have contact with them and their hardware long enough to inject malicious code into their hardware. Thing is, she has contact with lots of people, frequently, acting as a doctor for the disenfranchised in the undercity. So... um, yeah, she would have to have an opportunity to introduce the code, so she has to have seen every victim at least once prior to meltdown(which she has) and then either have a preprogrammed trigger or some sort of signal to trigger it. It doesn't even have to be a 'face based signal. Could be AV, from a transmission. Could be something in-game. Could be verbal for all you know.

    But I don't know... what would she have to gain from murdering hacker kids? She helps the poor, this doesn't seem like her thing.

    Other commonalities. They're all about the same age range. They're all players, most of them accomplished and having performed many of the same (or similar) game quests (they're never exactly the same, after all.) None of them had what you would call a basic set as far as hardware goes. They're all tricked out. And from their patterns you're pretty sure they've all worked for Frequency. They've also all been held by Steiner security at some point. As for others having access to the equipment, I'm not sure how you would find that out. It's not as if it's all logged in a file. Liesbeth isn't the only doc here who can implant or engineer this hardware, right? But she's not really a software specialist.

    Havoc curls up next to Turmoil and tries to rest.

    Does it occur to you that this could be some kind of frame up? Who's your worst enemy in Ring city?
  • Man, yeah, I dunno. I try not to make enemies. But there are always competitors and there are always punks who think I did something wrong. This couldn't be that kid Earworm; I mean, could it? I installed his rig and it was maxed out on features, like mine, not some off-the-shelf bit, but he reengineered the firewall -- didn't trust the normal stuff and didn't even want me poking at it. Whatever, right? But then he got his ass wiped and lost beaucoup credit while he was paralyzed during a big takeover or something. He actually tried to kill me over it but that didn't go his way. He's been quiet since, but you never know. In any case, this is bad shit.

    How long does it take Turmoil to change state?
  • To come out of it naturally? About three hours. But you could wake him sooner.
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