Jinteki: Biotech vs. Laremy Fisk: In this match, the coup de grâce was a Dedication Ceremony to a Ronin that was already on the table. After a bit of spamming, my opponent started to focus on central accesses and got careless. I loved the idea of the theme: Weyland holding a ceremony to help Jinteki get some project off the ground. That project being a massive neural blast to runners’ brains.
“Think about what a deterrent this would be for cyber criminals,” protested Marcus Batty.
The conference room at Jinteki: Biotech looked dark and ancient, illuminated only by the holoscreens glowing behind Marcus. Adorning the walls were a number of original Kuniyoshi prints depicting samurais battling giant snakes, koi fish, and dragons. Various recesses in the wall were decorated with giant bonsai trees hundreds of years old. A dark, hardwood table occupied the center of the room, around which sat Biotech’s cyber security task force, listening intently to Marcus’ proposal.
He was proud of Project Ronin. His latest brainchild. As the mastermind behind some of Jinteki’s most infamous security software, he liked inventing new ways to fry a hacker’s brain or send their rig up in smoke. He was responsible for the development of anti-hacker software like Project Junebug and Snare!.
This task force, assigned to Project Ronin, however, was at an impasse. The political and legal ramifications for what Marcus was proposing were too severe, and Chairman Hiro had his reservations. How could they paint this as anything other than murder? Cold blooded murder. This wasn’t a defensive trap; this was a weapon. A potentially lethal neural blast capable of flatlining any threats rooting around in Biotech’s myriad servers.
So, there Marcus Batty stood at the far end of a dimly lit room, making his pitch. Half a dozen holoscreens behind him displayed various charts, graphs, and logistical outlines. Hiro sat at the head of the table, occasionally exchanging whispers with the associate to his right. Their preferred methods were more subtle. However, Georgia Emelyov and Fumiko Yamamori sat closer to Marcus, and he could see their nods of approval. At least some people still preferred the direct approach.
“You come to this meeting to present us with what you refer to as a defensive asset,” Chairman Hiro finally spoke up. “But it seems the word you are looking for is ‘weapon’. It is a lethal offensive weapon that could too easily be abused. You’re Shock! software was defensive. This is homicide.”
Caprice Nisei seconded the Chairman’s sentiments from a far corner of the room. “A neural blast of this magnitude has never been used on a runner before,” she said, glancing up from the bonsai she was pruning. Her white eyes glowed in the darkness. “People will die. That is certain. Deaths mean investigations. Police, politicians and reporters bearing down. We can do without that.”
“Last year, Marcus’ Psychic Field software was seen as a massive success,” Tori Hanzo joined the fray. “We saw various private security forces jump on board, and even NBN experimented with it.”
“What if we bring the project public first,” Fumiko Yamamori offered. “We invite the press, government officials, representatives from corporations around the globe. Sell it as a dedication ceremony for the inauguration of a cutting edge corporate security software package. With an event as a distraction, collateral damage might go under the radar.”
It was a risky proposition, but Chairman Hiro could not deny that it was a good idea. A waiting silence fell over the room and all eyes turned to him. He drew in a breath and stood from his chair. Caprice Nisei turned from her pruning and moved to her seat at the table, her walk so elegant she appeared to float.
“If we agree to this,” Chairman Hiro said to Batty, “it’s your project and your responsibility. You will see to all of the arrangements and meticulously track all necessary expenses. Midori will be there to assist you. And, make no mistake, if this ceremony tanks, your career is going down with it.”
They flew in from all around the world to witness the unveiling of Jinteki: Biotech’s new secret tech. The lavishly adorned banquet hall in Hokusai was bustling with activity when Marcus Batty finally emerged from the red curtains on stage. Crystal chandeliers filled the room with a heavenly glow, as guests in tuxedoes and exotic dresses nibbled on passed hors d’oeuvres and sipped champagne. Elaborate centerpieces decorated the dozen tables in front of the stage.
All of the world’s most influential mega-corporations made a showing for the event. Elizabeth Mills stood near the stage talking seriously with Weyland’s mysterious new CEO. The monstrous man looked more like her body guard. Director Haas and Ryon Knight were sharing a laugh with Jackson Howard at a far table, while Haas’ Jeeves Model Bioroid stood stoically nearby. Keegan lane was nearby at the buffet, filling his face with crab stuffed mushrooms and bread rolls.
The lights in the room dimmed and a spotlight shone on Marcus Batty standing center stage. His guests quieted and made their way back to their seats as the curtains parted behind him, revealing a computer console and a number of holoscreens being operated by his intern, Midori.
“We live in a time when cyber-terrorism is easier and more profitable than ever,” Marcus began. “These ‘runners’, as they’ve taken to calling themselves, are developing increasingly efficient ice breakers and parasitic programs that are nullifying our cyber defenses. They are finding new ways to dig through our central servers, killing our projects before we can even get them off the ground. What’s worse, many of them are now being contracted by anonymous, black market investors to make these runs.”
“But we have a solution. Ladies and gentlemen, clones and bioroids, what I’ve brought you here to see tonight is going to push corporate cyber-security into new territory.”
Behind Marcus, Midori turned to the audience and held up a small security chip and external drive containing Project Ronin. She placed the drive into a slot in the console, waited for the program to load. Then she inserted the security chip, initializing the software. The screens read out line after line of code as Midori navigated her way through the firing protocol.
Marcus Batty started up again. “I present to you, Project Ronin. Thanks to a generous donation by the Wayland Consortium,” he raised his champagne flute to Elizabeth Mills, “we have not only expedited this program three-fold, but we have brought you all here to witness its inauguration first hand. Finally, the world’s leading corporations can take cyber-security back into our own hands.”
The crowd gave a soft clap, and Marcus turned their attention to Midori.
Laremy Fiske was an average guy. He was handsome. He married his high school sweetheart and they lived in a spacious apartment together in New Angeles. He enjoyed his lucrative career in financial investing, and he was gearing up for a nationwide tour of investment seminars. His casual forays into the net were few and far between. Though his piecemeal rig couldn’t compete with his more obsessive counterparts, he enjoyed running when he could, and occasionally scored some big steals. He was a very unassuming target.
He arrived home that night filled with excitement. He dropped his keys on the kitchen counter and kicked his shoes off at the door like he always did. It was well passed midnight, and his wife was already asleep. He snuck into their room gave her a kiss on the forehead, then tip-toed into his office down the hall and quietly shut the door.
He flicked on the TV for some quiet background noise and started a hot shower. On the screen, NBN: New Angeles was recapping their News Now Hour from earlier in the evening.
‘Authorities are still unclear what caused the traffic light malfunction, and the matter is being investigated. We here at NBN: New Angeles offer our sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased, Gabriel Santiago.’
Laremy turned from the TV toward the shower.
‘In other news, controversial genetic research mega-corporation, Jinteki: Biotech will be holding a public demonstration later today in Hokusai, showing off their latest in cyber-security technology. Tune in at 12:30………’
By then Fiske has tuned out the TV. The steaming water in the shower relaxed him, and his mind began to wander. He thought about tomorrow and about his first seminar at the world renowned Earthrise Hotel. He thought about his wife, and about starting a life and family together. He thought about how psyched he was to try out the new programs and hardware he had just purchased from Aesop’s that evening!
Laremy jumped out of the shower, toweled off, and threw on a pair of pajama pants. He plopped down in front of his rig and fired up the connection to his offsite security testing console. He inserted a holodisc containing a number of exciting new programs into the LOGOS console at his feet .
The TV droned on in the background.
‘…..what I’ve brought you here to see tonight is going to push corporate cyber-security into new territory.’
Laremy jacked in. He prodded here and there at various random servers as his Paperclip and Peregrine icebreaker programs were downloading. He poked a less than threatening piece of ice and was greeted by a cute little barrier, named simply VANILLA.ETR. He would have to come back in a few minutes.
‘‘….corporations can take cyber-security back into their own hands’
The voice on the TV ceased.
Seconds later, Fiske involuntary straightened in his chair, stiff as a board. His body began convulsing uncontrollably. Smoke rose from the hardware in front of him, and all of his holoscreens turned to a chaotic static. The shock sent his head realing, and he could feel his brain stem being electrocuted. Then, just as suddenly, his body grew limp and he folded back into the chair, semiconscious and hyperventilating. He touched his nose and realized it was bleeding. His mouth was full of blood too. Instinctively, he reach for the power cord behind his rig, but his actions were slow and clumsy. His head throbbed and the room around him was a blur.
Another burst of neural feedback shot through Laremy’s spine, this time sending him out of the chair and dumping his convulsing body to the carpet. Blood poured from his nose and he was foaming at the mouth. His spasms were so violent that his head was slamming against the floor. Sparks flew from the back of his LOGOS and ignited the carpet behind his rig. In the few seconds it took for the fire to reach him, Fiske was already dead.
‘If you draw your attention to this screen, please, you can see our network security is identifying that all invasive connections to Jinteki: Biotech have been taken offline or severely weakened. I believe these results speak for themselves. We hope to have this on the market…….’
The voice on the TV was drowned out by a burst of applause