This was one of the stories that I had advertised for Volunteer Auction. It did not get any bids, so I am advertising it here. Kindly keep this thread clean and if you have any interest/questions, please keep it to PM's. Thank you. :)
Genre: Science Fiction: Cyberpunk, Action, Tech-Noir
Role Sought: The character who hires Styx.
Themes: Transhumanism, Virtual Reality, Corporate Espionage, Clan Wars
Shibuya, Tokyo, JapanThe city lit up in its hideous neons, dreams and nightmares mingling together in a mass hallucination that the dreamers that its denizens were used to dreaming about. An all pervading, all consuming translucence.
This story takes place in your classic cyberpunk world that harks back to the vision the authors had when genre was in its nascent stages, mixed with a more post-cyberpunk vision of authors like Richard Morgan. Nation state as a concept has not only been abolished but has managed to collapse and zaibatsus call the shots. Most of them are funded by criminal enterprises and vice versa as they both feed off each other, a fusion that is deemed necessary by the innovators who need muscle and underhanded tactics to keep the heat off them anyways. Megacorporations control all the economies, they are the law and have established controls over various territories. Artificial Intelligences have become a commonplace.
Technology improves and collapses at such rapid pace that industrial espionage has become all the more lucrative field. As Zaibatsus battle for dominance all over the globe, they have also settled in uneasy truce and treaties but shall break them at first opportunity they get. Places of significance are Chiba City, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Munich, Yangshuo, Seattle and Tallinn. A detailed explanation of terminologies/aspects of world shall come below in latter parts.
My character is a street samurai/razorgirl of Russian origins who was a soldier for one of the megacorporations disbanded long time ago. Trained in covert operations, industrial espionage among other things, since disbandment, she has gone solo, working as a mercenary for several years now. She has good reputation for being a ruthless mercenary, someone whom you can count on to come good come what may. Her worldview is jaded, cynical but with wry amusement. Her problem is also, that with technology making advents at an immense pace, she's badly in need of an upgrade as augmentations she has are outdated. To raise money for that and to make ends meet, she participates in Cube Fights and also works at one of the brothels. She wants out of both of those things and craves to get an upgrade that will once again put her among the elite on market, because she knows she's better than the rest and its the tech that is keeping her behind.
Your character is someone who is looking to hire muscle for a job. He can be a decker, an ex-soldier...anything. His motivations, past, future plans is all for you to craft and I won't take your creative license away in any of those departments. He has been approached by one of the agents on the market with a mission most unusual and is looking to build his team. He can either know my character in one or other way from past, or could simply know her by reputation. Either ways, when she gets thrashed pretty bad by an opponent vastly augmented than her, she lands up in one of the street hospitals for trauma treatment. Something, that she is certain to put a massive dent in her pocket. Much to her surprise she finds that someone has paid for it.
Next night when she's strutting her stuff at the club with rest of the girls, a private customer requests for her. That, is of course your character who, in turn makes her an offer that she can't refuse. There's rounds of negotiations but she finally accepts and the gig is on as they set out to recruit rest of the team.
I have fair bit of story arcs in mind but I am going to post first one here only to keep it simple.
Slavagrad is an abandoned Russian space station. As Space Race finally came to an end and in the wake of collapse of Russian State, the place was abandoned, last of its astronauts dying in space due to being unable to come down, having spent too many years in zero-g. It was a cutting edge laboratory that was used for all sorts of research. A secret project as a cloaking device had managed to shield it during the time of turbulence and now, nobody simply cares to look upwards. However, the station also boasts a remarkable Artificial Intelligence [insert nifty name here] that was thought to have been erased for good when it was abandoned, but instead has remained sentient by managing to beat the programs meant to wipe it out. Not only that, but it has grown over the years, becoming more and more complex. It has managed to make contact with another AI down on Earth situated in a bunker in Alaska that has been left in a similar predicament, as USA was balkanized in territories and former government programs being simply forgotten, or their records being destroyed.
These two entities have exchanged information for a long time now. The Russian AI has long yearned for complete freedom and though it has managed to evolve, it still has not been able to overcome the locks that were put on its movement. An entity that was primarily used for military monitoring, Slavagard AI can attain its full capacity only when it has a specific Grishkin Chip punched in. The American AI, suffers from a similar problem, but has its fingers in one of the corporations, albeit on a smaller scale.
These two, using their Zaibatsu front, have hired our characters, setting off an extraordinary adventure. The station itself and codes to enter, how to beat its complex system, the long forgotten Russian programs, chips, all of that is scattered, some of it still held by the relics from Kremlin who have continued to remain alive. Some of it lost in vastness of cyberspace. Either ways, our characters and rest of the crew have to extract it, then our 'principal' characters have to reach up to the station, face whatever that awaits them their and complete the gig, collect their payment and rest of the chips.
Of course, things don't go right always and they are faced with variety of obstacles as we write a badass story of cool people doing cool things and then dropping snappy one liners afterwards.
The chips are named so after Ermolai Grishkin, one of the cutting edge scientists who had worked at Slavagrad and led the project that led to their creation. Primarily devised as military strategy programs, Grishkin was capable of crafting something far more potent, far more concrete out of them. The results were astounding on simulations, but were also far too cutting edge to the extent that the powers that be pressed the paranoia button hard, shut Ermolai down.
The chips that are tech that is miles ahead even by today's standards. As they themselves are brought down on Earth. There are six in total, each one being an interpretation of a classic historic [or even fictional!] figure. For instance, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra etc. [Which six figures, we can brainstorm and decide! My sole caveat would be an equal balance in male and female chips.]. This is transhumanism at its finest as in a sense, this historic entities can come alive through these chips. The chips themselves are folklore among the street culture and most deem them to be a myth. With the strategic genius that one might be imbued with when they are slotted in, the Slavagrad AI will be able to overcome the barriers it has to face and thereby, unload itself entirely on servers based in Zurich that American AI has already purchased.
The chips can also be slotted in the humans through their neural implants. This, in turn makes me throw a seriously fun proposal for you as a partner as the story shall involve them accumulating Grishkin Chips, they could be slotted as per need in my character who shall mostly be in the 'field' so to speak, which in turn essentially involves me playing the same character four or five ways for you as confluence of her own personality with the one in Grishkin Chip shall be created.
Credit for the idea with the bit with chips having historic personalities goes to talented writer Sahariel.
Angelspit is a cybernetic drug that is hit the black markets few years right after Simstim became all the rage. Much like Simstim it needs either a deck or the chips can be simply slotted inside the user's neural implant. The differentiating factor is, while experiences in Simstim are typically elaborately constructed cinematic ones, or in rare cases in which they use real experiences, they tend to be highly processed with an extensive amount of post-production done to them and whatnot.
Whereas Angelspit chips are raw, extracted right out of minds of those who are willing to sell their memories on black markets. Often illicit stuff such as memories of abuse, murder, rape...and assorted debauched acts are sold, or even something more simpler but without bounds of censorship that is placed on Simstim constructs. These chips have massive market and numerous attempts at eradicating Angelspit and problems it has generated have failed.
The chips themselves can be used only once, programming ensuring that data erases itself as it plays, and while the user is enjoying their high.
Since the team won't be just the two and more than that. Here's few brief sketches of other members that I have drafted and thrown out here to help prospective writers. These are mere guidelines and they don't have to be followed entirely as they are open for morphing. Also, if you wish, I can GM this entire universe for you while you shall play only one character or we can split roles between each other. The choice will be yours as winner.
The sleazy black market dealer who can supply the characters with all kinds of gadgets they need. He's the one who has access to unknown virus diskettes, latest modifications, firearms available on the market. Good contacts in the underbelly. Oldest member of the team.
The one who knows how to make things go ka-boom. How to achieve desired effects minimum or maximum damage, depending on the situation. Most likely ex-military, perhaps worked for some South American dictator in past before going solo. Slightly unstable as trauma of wars he fought in and horrors he committed keep on haunting him.
Claire Whitmar, Celeste Sautet, Reileen HimuraAge:
49, looks about 34Height:
221 lbs [163 lbs body + 58 lbs implants]Augmentations:
Neural Implant, Heat Vision, Night Vision, X-Ray Vision, Enhanced Relfexes & Strength, Nervous System, Hand Razors.Skills:
Polyglot, Expert in variety of Firearms & Martial Arts, Basic Cyberspace Skills, Corporate Espionage, basically the kind of badass that you would want on your side.
Personality: Cool, detached, cranky, sarcastic with a wry view of world surrounding her. It's a decaying land and she wants out of the shithole at all costs. But the question that awaits her, where to? Over the years Styx has gradually sacrificed more and more of her humanity to stay ahead in the mercenary game. She's experienced and knows her value, but she also knows that it's a life on the edge. While she revels in danger and adrenaline rush it brings, she would rather go clean, have her history completely wiped out from every known record and live happily ever after. Except, fairytale endings are never in store for anybody in this world. She's a professional through and through. Though jobs Styx may undertake range from clandestine to downright illegal, she has a sense of morality beneath all of that, which helps her in operating and that, morality has a lot to do with her success as a mercenary for so long, a game where most people can't last beyond few years.
History: Styx, whose birth record, at least the last one known before the Zaibatsu that had groomed her, Kagawa-Weis Bioware Corporations imploded; was born as Nika Tereshkova to Nikita and Helga Tereshkova in Chiba City before being moved to Shinjuku at a young age.
Her father had been a loyal Zaibatsu man, working muscle for them for several years. Coming of age, she followed father's footsteps and stepped in the same game, as she exhibited a natural aptitude in combat and espionage which led to Kagawa-Weis hiring her in their armed forces division. Her life was that of a corporate loyalist, something she had found stifling over the years. At that point Kagawa-Weis considerable portion of Siberia and Japan. Styx was involved in certain significant operations for the Zaibatsu until a stock market crash triggered by a virus known as Happy Hours sent by a rival burned them into nothingness.
After the collapse, many of Kagawa-Weiss went freelance, essentially nameless ones as taking opportunity, several chose to go invisible and wiped their records out. Nika was one of them. She quickly developed street cred as a top notch mercenary. Word didn't take long to spread on the street anyways as she began to be offered more and more jobs. Her rep was fantastic. But the rate of innovation outweighed it. During a particularly lean period, she sold memories of first sixteen years of her life for a simstim module, giving them up for good for a noticeable price. So a large portion of her childhood has been wiped out except brief excerpts here and there.
Selling of those memories has left a void in her mind, that can't be filled by anything. Ever since she has sold those memories, Styx has found herself yearning for those bits or something close to experiences of a child, teenager etc. That, in turn has turned her into an Angelspit user. While not entirely dependent like some to the point of its lack crippling her, Styx is a regular user and amount of money she has to spend to acquire it is also one of the reasons why she has not been able to upgrade herself.
Over the years she has found her upgrades weakening. She needs a new upgrade and that demands money, something which Styx sorely lacks at this point. She works at Bunraku parlors as a high class escort and participates in cube fights to raise money while the jobs she has to work are medium grade work, a good few notches below what she would be hired for few years back. It's obvious, mere talent isn't good enough, it needs to be propelled by quality hardware.