On a colonized planet where fantastical, naturally occurring electromagnetic phenomenons occur, the sapient intelligence of humanity's robotic creations is only just leaving its infancy. Companionship with them appears promising, but as times passes, your governments motives with this technology becomes less and less transparent.
And their actions more ambiguous.
As an freelance journalist, you know it's a folly to remain ignorant of what goes on in your world's shadow. So, using your neuro linker, you look online to see what kinds of leads you've picked up.
(display: "Shika's Inbox")Through black market contacts, you undergo surgery required to install the illegal neuro mods. As a result, your brain can now hyper-process the complex, digital information around you. Any device is fair game as long as your mind can access it.
Unfortunately, you know its only a matter of time before the government takes notices, so you contact special shadow communities that live under the government's nose.
You arrive at the meeting spot only find yourself ambushed by..this 'perfect' version of you, but wearing a lab coat. She slams against the wall like a feather, all before getting a choking vise on your throat.
"Oh I've waited for this for so long," she said.
Then, without warning, darkness. Quickly followed by a flash of lighting that lights your attacker's, accompanied with a...distorted, digital screech. The lights return, with you both on the floor. Except that she's curled into a fetal position. Twitching. Eyes wide with fear.
(display: "Panic Box")
Sneaking past the security perimeter, you arrive at the old, derilict facility. The place is absolutely abandonded, and there doesn't seem to be any souls in sight.'
Well, except for old androids husk strewn here and there.
...And beyond all logic, you somehow recieved E-mails even out here.
(display: "Corr_pt_d Inb_x")
Breaking into the lab and rushed for time, the two of you grab the prototype of the linker itself – which quickly decided to to rapidly crawl out of your hand, up to your neck, and fuse permanently with your nervous system. The pain is so intense you black out, and when you wake, you're in a hospital bed, surrounded by authorities, but otherwise alone.
Aside from the storm of digital information and chatter of mechanical intelligence running through your head.You meet the leader of Brotherhood at abandoned, robot parts factory, who's accompanied by a handful of humanoid robots; each one composed of mismatching parts. Even the man himself has a various wires and small devices attached to his body, including an extra mechanical arm.
Waving a hand, the factory's machinery brings which, at first glance, appears to be a severed human head; but on closer inspection, is an android's.
“Ironic, no?” the leader said, “the government has strict laws against such android appearances, yet here we are, one made by their very own hands.”The Monks, a communion of both human and machine intelligence, welcome you to their quiet, monastic life-style. There, they teach you how to use your imagination to process, and picture, your city's cluttered cyberspace as a multifarious landscape.
A landscape formed from the abstracts concepts and ideologies of the city's communities, and filled with wondering, humanoid spirits of electricity. Many of which, upon close inspection, wore chains binding them to these lands.Signing up for the daily, 'recreational' team-building courses, everyone you're paired with is linker-free but you. Despite lacking these implants, as well as being new 'recruits', the rest of your team actively coordinate with one another while barely speaking a word. As a result, you initially have difficulty working alongside them, although your instructor does attempt to hammer home the point of team communication.
However, it's when a mysterious android kidnaps one of your teammate's kids – one of the very scenario's you all practiced – that you prove your worth as a Linker. Although the android escape, by coordinating your hacking skills with everyone else you rescue the kid.You stay in touch with the woman, and it's not long before she has you use your hacking skills to track the location of a recent shipment filled with scientific equipment. Shortly afterward, she requests you meet her at this location, telling you they located one of the missing civilians.
There, you find her in an make-shift lab, it's sentry bots bullet ridden, and it's sole scientist, an android, decapitated. Silently, she motions towards an examination table, where the corpse of the missing civilian lies; it's open skull and brain mutilated with wires and implants.
“The android said,” the woman said bitterly, “they're doing this to help humanity. But what do //you// think?”Overcharging your stunner, you send a lethal surge of electricity through the gyroid, making her to convulse all before going limp; her face frozen with a desperate plea. You barely have a moment to look her over before you hear the voices of authorities outside, and being caught in an unauthorized sector would be bad news.
Hiding, you peer out as officials poor out and surround the body, some of them swearing as they inspect it. Hefting the body, they take the body with them as they chatter about much this could set them back.Using your stunner, you safely deactivate the 'gyroid' replica, leaving you the opportunity to closely inspect her. By all rights, her black skin, hair and face was yours, only flawless, and her body sculpted like a super models. She even has a linker like yours.
Then, only after a minute, you voices of authority coming closer, and you know if your caught in an unauthorized sector, you'll get put in the slammer. So, finding a place to hide, you watch as government officials surround the android, chatting a moment of relief as they hauled the android with them.As much as you try, this 'replica' remains catatonic, up until you hear government authorities talking just beyond the door; at which point, she finally speaks.
"N-n-no I-I can't go back - n-not after I just got out of-of that prison." Slowly, she looks at you, pleading, "Can barely...move....help. P-please."
You know full well if you hide all by yourself, she can just rat you out, and anyone caught in unauthorized zones is bound for jail for a while. So, helping her up, the two of you hide, wait and listen; and, given what you hear after they leave, you'll probably hiding 'Eve' for a while.
Entering the dark place, you wonder for some time before coming across a functional, and strangely active, log console. On it, you read a scientist's recent log:
"Blast it, all we've gotten from this four month-long endeavor is pure speculation. Speculation that a connections lies between the planet's electromagnetic phenomenons and the subconscious minds it's new citizens. Otherwise--”
The rest is corrupted, but could salvaged if you brought the hard drive back to the city. As remove the component, you notice words scratches onto its surface. “Oh, no need to thank me, Shika.”In your brief search, you find one that's mostly functional, and get it to play whatever recorded events that aren't corrupted through your linker. Most of it are just bits and pieces of day-to-day work, but its final file stands out with some clarity: an unearthly, pained howl accompanied by an electrical flash snaking across the power lines.
The power lines to the city.
Perhaps with some luck, you can recover more data back at your place, so you opt to take its head, and maybe even find it a new body while your at it.Peeking over the hills with digital binoculars, you spot the pulsing cyan ravine, and all around it are these...creatures. Shambling, humanoid husks composed of metal scraps impossibly clinging together, each a mildly different shape, but all beady, electric glowing eyes.
All at once, they look at you in brief silence – just before emitting a chorus of screeching howls as the hoard charges at you. You barely have time to take snap shots before you start running back to the city, patrols be damned.Hey Shika!
As a friend who lauds your hacking skills, I think it's time to give yourself an upgrade. Y'know, the illegal kind. Hey, don't give me that look, not with the how government has been lately. For all we know, they may actually have created rogue super AIs, so it only makes sense to keep up with them.
'Sides, it'll give you an edge in finding out what's really going on.
~Your friend, Johnson
[[CALL TO ACTION: UPGRADE->Upgrade]]
(display: "Shika's Inbox")There's got to be something more to those old Ley-Conduit research facilities our government has cornered off as 'hazardous.' I mean, ever since they exploded with electrical surges and knocked out our city's power for days, they've halted what should be ground-breaking research.
Now they have security patrols to keep out wondering civilians out for their own safety. Only...there's never been substantial evidence of this 'phantom' danger, has there?
[[CALL TO ACTION: Verify the Conspiracy->Ghosts of the Past]]
(display: "Shika's Inbox")From: Your trusted associate and middle-man
I've done some research on the so-called Auroris Group, the one our government names as 'terrorists.' Apparently, aside from being a military group, they know something about the recent civilian dissapearances going on lately.
The catch is that if you want to know more, you have to dedicate yourself to their group. Must be trust issues.
But hey, you can always leave them if you don't like 'em, right?
[[CALL TO ACTION: Join the Auroris->The Auroris Group]]
(display: "Shika's Inbox")Subject: Regarding Recent AI development
From: Your Trustworthy Contact in the Dark
Hey Shika, I supposedly got a government scientist here that says she was working on an AI development sector called 'Project Eve' before getting cold feet. Now she's on the run from the feds, and wants to spill the beans to //you// of all people.
Not sure why thought. If you ask me, she seems sketchy, but, well, opportunities like these don't come often.
[[CALL TO ACTION: Interivew Contact-> Latest Model]]
(display: "Shika's Inbox")You meet up with the Auroris contact your friend set you up with; a black-haired woman who's full body, military-style clothing didn't hide her strong, athletic build. She wastes little in going over the potential options in gaining the Auroris's trust, even going so far as to make you activate your recorder in case you miss a beat.
Leaving with little remark, she provides you her contact information and the solace to choose your path. All that's left is for you to review your options through your holo-wrist.
(display: "Wrist Band")
(colour: blue)[=======**NEURO SYNC COMPLETE**=========
**Verisphere Colony Date and Time
November, 26, 3987
* [[Good Morning, Shika!]]............87|11|26.....8:09:0 AM
* [[Auroris and Missing People ->The Auroris's Dedication]]..........87|11|26...6:03:0 AM
* [[Caution from a Friend ->Caution from a Friend]]................87|11|25.....11:00:0 PM
* [[Rumors on AI Development -> Research on Latest Model]]........87|11|25.....10:50:0 PM
* [[ Old Ley Conduit Conspiracy ->Ley Conduit Danger Hoax]]....87|11|25.....10:40:0 PM
(background: black)[(colour: red)[....Hell_ little Shika, have y_u d_cided to c_me visit m3. Plea_e do, m_ke yourself at h0me. M_ybe yo_'ll f_nd the l()st tre_sure y_u seek.
S()rry, this l@nd int3rf_r_s even w1th my...c0nn3cti_n t0 u.
ERROR: NO NET CONNECTION FOUND. CANNOT REPLY]]
[[ACTION: Explore Facility->The Log]]
(display: "Corr_pt_d Inb_x")(background: black)[(colour: red)[Act-ully, if y_u w_nt a re@l sp3ctacle, wh_ don't you visit the facil_ty's backyard, just beyond the hills. You might get a h0551ble, surral treat.
Heh, I'm getting better at directly manipulating your linker, don't you think?
ERROR: NO CONNECTION FOUND]]
[[ACTION: Look Beyond Hills ->Midnight Terrors]]
(display: "Corr_pt_d Inb_x")(background: black)[(colour: red)[Of c_urse y_u could j+st int3rvi3w 0ne of th3 d3ad here. P3rh@ps give a l()st soul new life.
...V()w3ls @re h@rd.
ERROR: NO NET CONNECTION FOUND]]
[[ACTION: Access Old Android Memories-> Haunted Memories]]
(display: "Corr_pt_d Inb_x")
(background: black)[(colour: red)[**V3r_sph0re C0l+ny D@t3 + T+me
N0v_mb+r, 2+, %X87
* [[W_lc_me t_ my D_main]]
* [[L_nd _f D_ad]]
* [[Scr_am_r R_v_ne]]
============**Sh_k_'s Inb_x**============]]**Verisphere Colony Date and Time
November, 30, 3987
* [[Brotherhood of Osiris]]
* [[Seeking Sanctuary]]
* [[Johnson's Request]]
Ah, a recent 'cyber-aug' aiming to peel away the shadows of the government's secrets, I see. Good. Augs like you are in short supply, and recently, the Brotherhood of Osiris has seen evidence of some...disturbing government atrocities.
Join us in the Underworld if you want to learn more.
~Leader of the Brotherhood
[[REPLY: Yes, I want to learn more-> Join the Brotherhood]]
(display: "Contacts")It is good you contacted us after only just receiving your mods, Shika; it means we can more easily accommodate you if you truly seek sanctuary. Mind you, we are not so much concerned with the government's secrets as we are with the state of the city's community itself.
Let us say we have seen...some disconcerting truths that is often hidden from most. A truth that, with the right training, you can see.
[[REPLY: Seek their Sanctuary-> The Monks]]
(display: "Contacts")Glad to see you've taken my advice.
Actually, I'm hoping with you augments, you'll be able to help me pull of a heist that could shed light on some of the government's motives. My contacts tell me they're developing this 'Omni-Linker' – a linker implant with highly classified specs. Like, the public-should-never-learn about-it classified specs.
I need a response soon, though, as the window for nabbing info won't last long.
[[REPLY: I'm up for it!-> Hive Mind]]
(display: "Contacts")**Verisphere Colony Date and Time
November, 27, 3987
(background: red)[(colour: yellow)[===========**Shika's Inbox**==========]
* [[Why Hello Again!]] 12:15:00 PM
* [[Not that you'll read this while choking...]] 12:10:00
(colour: yellow)[==========**Shika's Inbox**=========]]
...But I've waited so long for this, after being born into some damn cybernetic mesh, tasked with just monitoring you. //Monitoring// you. When, really, I could just be a //better// than you.
So sad you won't read this before yooooooooouuuuuuu-==-=(colour: red)[AA-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHRG------------------------------]
[ERROR 64: FURTHER INFORMATION IRREVISABLY CORRUPTED]
(display: "Panic Box")(background: black)[(colour: red)[FROM: UNKNOWN
"So, little Shishka, what will you do today?"
ERROR: TRACER UNABLE TO PINPOINT MESSAGE ORIGIN]]
(display: "Shika's Inbox")**Verisphere Colony Date and Time
November, 27, 3987
* [[Information Relaying]]......00:01:00
* [[Physical Training]].........00:10:00
* [[Team Excercises]]...........00:20:00
(colour: green)[==============**Audio_Record_10**=============]“A more direct method is to a show of dedication by partaking in a...private, unique martial arts course. One where your instructor will gauge who you truly are, and potentially reveal things about yourself you never knew. However, you //must// remove you linker before that, or there is no deal.”
[[COURSE OF ACTION: Remove your Linker and Train->Telepathy]]
(display: "Wrist Band")“Perhaps the most simplest path is to do what your friend does: stay on the side-lines, and provide us the required intel from the cyberworld. Don't worry, we'll contact later about what to look for.”
[[ACTION: Act as Informant ->Tech Support]]
(display: "Wrist Band")Upon disconnecting yourself from your city's pervading cyberworld, you partake in the 'Auroris' training. It's a daily routine done with a private instructor, with the gruff man constantly pushing you physically while also making you do meditative stances on the side. You go from flabby to fit in less than two weeks, while at the same time...hearing things.
Echoes in your head.
"You hear it, don't you," your instructor says, noticing this all before his voice reverbrates through your head, //"the irony is that the linkers tend close one's mind in ways they don't realize. This is what it means to be an Auroris."//(background: black)[(colour: red)[Oh, don't mind me, Little Shika, I just...passing through and decided to traumatize your other self. Ha
Of course, it's all up to you if you want to kill her or knock her out before 'studying' her 'safely'. I mean, she //is// an android, after all.
Or you could, I don't know, actually talk to her. Better hurry though.
-Your Anonymous, Untracable Stalker]]
[[COURSE OF ACTION: Kill her -> Murder]]
[[COURSE OF ACTION: Just Disable Her ->The Government]]
[[COURSE OF ACTION: Talk to Her ->Leave Together]]
(display: "Panic Box")“Alternatively, you can retain your linker and partake in, shall we say, 'team-building' exercises involving the more vigilant aspect of our community. They won't admit it, but in this age of technology, they are in desperate need of Linkers. You just need to show them you're reliable.”
[[COURSE OF ACTION: Sign up for Team Building -> Keeping Yourself]]
(display: "Wrist Band")