Advanced Neuro-Logic Enterprises
Self-appointed investigators amassed in forums across the Matrix with the first bug sighting in Chicago. Their primary product was bad conjecture, but for someone actually taking a trip into the containment zone, the data they collected was a convenience.
Simple enough to consult a business directory and find Advanced Neuro-Logic Enterprises: 5200 S Harper Ave, six blocks from the University of Chicago. Unextraordinary in the public record and on first sight, the second floor of a three-story red brick office building on a tree-lined street, rows of abandoned desks, fashionably utilitarian. A few private offices, an expansive motion-capture lab, all gathering dust.
The team has a rhythm for the search. Urni negotiates with the resident vermin. Nine reviews records. Mac picks the simple locks used on desks and cabinets. Maniac rips them open. Electronics are collected and taken to the roof, solar sheets are unfolded, anything found in the offices or lab given priority for recharging. The software hasn’t been updated in two years, so the cracks are plug-and-play. It doesn’t take more than a few hours for Nine to get an overview.
An ordinary beginning, Neuro-Logic was formed in 2049 to exploit University of Chicago patents by Drs. Taylor and Lovin of the neuro-cybernetics department. The first skillsofts, back in the early 40s, were data repositories bridged to the parahippocampal cortices, factual recall via the semantic memory system. You could load up the full set of SEC regulations, MLB statistics, anything you wanted, but it was just raw data.
Taylor and Lovin played a small part in the second generation, real mental skills, the ability to perform new kinds of tasks. They owned techniques for dampening feedback in procedural memory, keeping the brain from freaking out when its natural reinforcement learning runs into a hard-coded chip. They signed cross-licenses with Mitsuhama and contracts to deliver mental skillsofts that would be developed at their new business, Neuro-Logic.
The investment class became instant experts. Wealthy travelers spoke like natives. Taylor and Lovin had a nice side income. But there was a limit to the market: most jobs that could be done by a person with a mental skillsoft could be done cheaper by a virtual intelligence. The real demand was for the next step: physical skills.
It wouldn’t be easy. Individual variations complicate exact translation of movement between bodies. A longer limb traverses a longer arc with the same rotation. Close enough for waving hello, but not for catching a ball, walking across a room, or assembling a pocket secretary.
It wasn’t clear a small player could compete in this third generation. Taylor and Lovin had been able to experiment with mental skills using a computer console and a comfortable chair, commercially-available factual-recall implants as their base hardware. For physical skills they’d need full-body free-motion rigs. They’d need to rent specialized facilities for physical skill testing. They’d need some megacorp’s still-experimental physical skillsoft implants. They needed someone to see a reason to deal them in.
AZ 22nd Century, an Aztlán VC firm, found one. AZ would invest in Neuro-Logic. Neuro-Logic would buy a new suite of equipment and use it to fulfill a research contract with Solar Cybernetics, an Aztechnology subsidiary in Denver. Solar Cybernetics would provide an active skillsoft framework, and Neuro-Logic would develop prototype physical skills.
As part of the deal, Neuro-Logic hired a new business manager, Teresa Robb, given independent authority to outsource a portion of the Solar Cybernetics contract. The Neuro-Logic staff configured neural recording cybernetics, nerve-pattern learning systems, a full DIY active skillsoft development package. Robb found outside vendors like Smart Systems Limited—themselves funded by AZ—delivered them the packages, and received physical skill performance data in return. Taylor and Lovin found this small independence to be little to ask, given all they received in return. From Nine’s review of their correspondence, they saw little need to discuss their new employee at all.
A pocket tablet from Robb’s office, little more than a desk in a closet, reveals a covert messaging app. The counterparty traces to Solar Cybernetics. Their exact identify is protected, but the local memcache yields the last few messages to extraction tools.
“How’s it going with the basketball team?”
“It’s not. We barely change them and they're completely inept. Can’t shoot. Can barely run. They would be breaking bones if we let them. They can’t adapt at all.”
“Well, I appreciate you sticking with it. The guys in the big offices loves the showy stuff, and they’re going to be writing our bonus checks ;)”
“Yeah. I was going to head over earlier, light a fire under their asses. But had to burn an hour telling the staff that I had ‘done all I could’ to get our contractors to share best practices. Would love to see their faces if I actually showed them. And now the roads are impossible, some Knight Errant thing.”
“Well, just remember, you can’t. And keep your head up. Even if they don’t know it, you’re the only reason that place is still in business.”
“Yeah, thanks. Think I’m going to walk home, deal with this tomorrow morning. I’ll let you know how it goes.”
“Please do. And, absolutely, take some time to relax, then get back at it. Talk to you tomorrow :)”
But with Neuro-Logic and Smart Systems Limited out of business, and Taylor, Lovin, and Robb lost or dead in the Zone, this would all be little more than trivia but for an implementation detail of the covert messaging app.
Normally, client apps operating remotely use a messaging-specific bridge between the Matrix and the corp’s internal network. A security VI authenticates and screens each packet, blocking the path to anything but the message queue. But border guards record all sorts of things you’d want no record of if you’re coordinating illegal experiments through layers of duped and dummy corporations. So the covert messaging app on Robb’s tablet instead opens a general-purpose bridge into the internal network, granting the tablet the trusted access that a hardwired on-site computer would have, allowing it to quietly talk to Robb’s contact within Solar Cybernetics.
It’s not an all-access pass to the corp’s data. Anything of value has further security. But as much as Solar Cybernetics might try to limit the risk taken to run off-the-record comms, it’s a foot in the door.
|Born||June 9, 2028 (age 29)|
Brilliant Genesis Studios
Angels of Saturn’s Rings (2055)
Alright, here's the effortpost I promised on James Delany's sims with Brilliant Genesis.
Chainsaw Reborn is remembered for one thing: Jacqueline Starlight's incredible performance doing emotion capture for the titular reborn Chainsaw. Basic plot summary: Chainsaw, seemingly dead at the end of the first sim, is resurrected as a mind-wiped cyber-zombie, with an upgraded chainsaw hand; the corp uses him to take on street gangs, he eventually stumbles across his former girlfriend, she reminds him who he was, he goes back to the corp and chainsaws his way through security to the executive responsible for wiping his mind. What makes this work is Starlight's ability to take you through Chainsaw whole journey, which ends up being surprisingly poignant. Delaney did the gore-effects on set, and they're good, but nothing that would stand out in the genre.
So, I haven't experienced The Fifth Caballero, but apparently neither did anybody else. It's a horribly-reviewed comedy set in Aztlan back when it used to be called Mexico, during the Mexican Revolution, though the revolution in the sim apparently doesn't much match actually history, or apparently what Aztechnology wants remembered of history, leaving it banned in the only market that might care about it. Seems like a complete misfire. That said, I haven't read any complaints about Delany's work on the illusory sets they used to capture this in Chicago.
I get that Alan Moore's Swamp Thing is an obnoxious title given how little similarity it has to the original novel. But I haven't read that so ultimately I'm just judging it as a sim, preconceptions aside. And from that perspective, it's great. You've got Delaney's illusions and Starlight's emotions again, but this time for a body-tripping plant monster that can feel an entire swamp through some kind of plant network instead of just a beefy guy murdering people with a chainsaw. The whole story: his birth, him being hunted by the Floronic fertilizer company, the big fight scene at the end, is all freaky sensations and body horror and it's great. Writer/director Mary McQuillen never recovered from this one, but it's what made Delaney someone to watch.
Unjustified is a neo-western: a NaN peace officer hunts for his son's killer (though, spoiler, not really, he's still alive) in the farmland and wilderness outside the Denver Metroplex. Most of the attention for this went to Caron Brown's performance as Anna, the tracker companion to the main POV character. She's great, and brings the only warmth to what's otherwise a pretty cold sim. But Delaney's work on this sim is incredible, painting vast vistas entirely out of thin air, which didn't get much attention at the time as Brilliant Genesis didn't want to draw attention to the entirely artificial setting of a sim being praised for its realness. Incredible work, though, and what earned him the director's chair for his next sim.
So, Angels of Saturn’s Rings has a bad reputation, but I actually kinda like it. I get that the juxtaposition of the horror stuff with the spiders and the more erotic stuff with the aliens doesn't totally work, but when the execution of both those elements is so strong, I don't really mind the tonal whiplash. And the sci-fi writing for the first contact storyline is surprisingly good. And I think anyone can appreciate the incredible visuals of the nano-replicators building out in Saturn's rings. It's a sim that clearly needed another pass at the scriptwriting stage, but as a freshman effort of James Delaney in the director's chair, as well as doing the illusory setting, I think it shows a lot of promise.
But at the end of the day, he's a talented, but not all that accomplished illusionist/director whose career was cut short by the intervention of bugs from another dimension, and it's not clear to me what a great dragon's interest is in that. I guess maybe he's a fan? But at least for me, I hope someone gets him out and he gets back to work. His horror chops could only be improved by being stuck in a city filled with insect monsters, right? :D
|Dr. Edward Fenwick Oden|
|Born||February 2, 2010 (age 47)|
|Spouse||Dr. Gilbert I. Williams|
|Employment|| Full Professor|
Department of Thaumaturgy
University of Chicago
|Recent Published Works|| A Meta-analysis of Spirit-Based Far-Metaplane Exploration (2055)|
An Alternative Runic System for Astral Projection Monitoring Circles (2054)
Metaplane Permeability in the Saar-Lorraine-Luxembourg Special Administrative Zone (2053)
I don't think there's any question why Dunkelzahn wants this guy out. He's done research on metaplane travel and specifically how metaplane access is affected by a toxic zone. The Draco Foundation is going to take the credit for getting him rescued and then snap up everything he knows about metaplanes in Bug City.
— The Great Ape
|Born||September 13, 2028 (age 28)|
The Big Rhino
|Matrix Rumors|| 1) He’s a major player in the Ork underground. Dunkelzahn wants him brought out to get back to that.|
2) He’s a Shadowrunner who Dunkelzahn sent into the CZ but couldn’t get out, and he’s got something Dunkelzahn wants for his foundation.
3) He’s a high-level off-books Renraku operator who was sent into Chicago within an hour of the outbreak, before the wall went up. Dunkelzahn wants his foundation to find out why.
I'd met this guy a few times at The Big Rhino, which, if you don't know, is an "Orkish" bar/restaurant in Puyallup. During the day it's reasonably safe to visit, and you can get an interesting meal that's somewhere between paleolithic and deconstructionist. At night, it gets pretty rough, which is when Armtwister is more prominent. He was clearly skilled at keeping the atmosphere short of homicidal without impairing the energetic crowd the place is known for. Don't know him well enough to know what he was doing in Chicago, though.
|Born||September 13, 2023 (age 33)|
|Matrix Rumors|| 1) He’s a Sky Shaman who possesses the Seal of the Blue Gloves, which the Dunkelzahn Foundation will need after giving away the green ones.|
2) He’s secretly Basilisk, a Chicago-area holo-vandal of whom Dunkelzahn was a fan.
3) He’s a high-level off-books Ares operator who was activated within an hour of the outbreak, before the wall went up. Dunkelzahn wants his foundation to find out why.
This guy is known entirely through a handful of Matrix posts offering basic handyman work in association with a barebones Facebook account. He's either a Matrix ghost acting as cover for an operator or an actual boring handyman.
|Born||March 5, 2033 (age 24)|
|Employment|| PhD Student|
University of Chicago
|Published Works||Brain Abnormalities in Procyon Latri (Bandit Raccoons)|
Some student might seem like a weird choice, but she's done anatomical research on awakened animals, so she's presumably somewhere in Bug City right now chopping up insect spirits. Obvious financial motivation for getting her out and grateful to Draco.
— The Great Ape
|Born||December 2, 2021 (age 35)|
|Children|| Daisy McCarthy|
|CZ BBS Bulk Download Articles|| Bugs on Buses: Transportation in Crisis|
A Fragile Peace in the Ghoul Enclave
Fast-Flesh Infested: Super Soldier Insects?
Last Month Was the Deadliest Yet from Faulty BTLs
Beside the Wall: Life on the Fringes
Sissel's the one person on Dunkelzahn's list where we almost know more about her activity after the wall went up than before. A junior journalist with a periodic byline beforehand, she seems to have forged an impressive career of investigative journalism within the Containment Zone. Her articles form some of the core of what we understand of life behind the wall.
— Wraith II
The Rochus Braun Report (August 4, 2057)
|Full Name||Rochus Orwell Braun III|
|Born|| March 6, 2012 (age 45)|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret Alanis Rosaire (married 2038)|
|Children|| Rochus Orwell Braun IV (born 2040)|
John Francis Braun (born 2042)
Mary Margaret Braun (born 2044)
|Parents|| Rochus Orwell Braun II (born 1991)|
Maggie Noelle McKenzie (born 1992)
|Education|| Renraku Educational Primary (Renton, SSAR)|
Renraku Educational Secondary (Renton, SSAR)
B.A. in Management, Northwest University (Bellevue, SSAR)
Lone Star Academy (Austin, TX)
Parents both come from serious money. Their personal matrix chat with the other kids, all mid-level Renraku execs, is brutal. Roch is just some bigot cop to them. They’ve got no serious contact, they say he’s all in on Lone Star and his church.
|Height||1.65 m (5’5”)|
|Weight||86 kg (190 pounds)|
|Hair Color||Dark Brown|
Lone Star physical requirements aren’t much at his rank, and he takes advantage of it.
|Employer||Lone Star Security Services|
|Title||Captain, Crime Suppression Division|
|Hired||June 03, 2037|
|Salary|| $337,000 (~87,000¥)|
60,000 LSS (~8,000¥)
He’s got a clean record, though he might have come in with enough profile to keep it that way no matter what. Lone Star knows their system leaks.
|Address|| 1015 North 31st St|
Renton, SSAR 98056
This is a two-story house in a low-crime middle-class neighborhood. Looks like he mostly walks places, except to work, and church once a week in Bellevue.
Again, no access to internal Lone Star communications.
|Visa|| 4018 1694 4999 4528 |
|Chase Ares||$502,450.08 (~135,000¥)|
|Lone Star Scrip||~45,908 (~6,000¥)|
I think he’s got another ~200,000¥ hidden in the CAS, but haven’t been able to confirm. I can take another run at that for another 1k¥.
|Make & Model||Buick Park Avenue|
Rarely uses this, GRID only when he does.
The Bull Report (July 6, 2057)
|Full Name||Irene Allen Turnbull|
|Born|| December 6, 2022 (age 34)|
|Spouse(s)||Daniel Y. Vanmeter (2046-2048)|
|Parents|| George Turnbull (2001-2039)|
Terry Allen (2004-2039)
|Education|| McAlister Elementary (Puyallup, SSAR)|
Knight High (Puyallup, SSAR)
Lone Star Academy (Austin, TX)
Her parents both died the Night of Rage during one of the riots. Couldn't find anything on just how they were involved, bystanders, instigators, or what. The ex works at Sea-Tac, ground crew.
|Height||1.73 m (5'8")|
|Weight||84.1 kg (185.5 pounds)|
|Eye Color||Dark Brown|
|Hair Color||Dark Brown|
She's a seven-day-a-week weightlifter, either a facility in the basement of her apartment building, or Lone Star's staff gym.
|Employer||Lone Star Security Services|
|Title||Lieutenant, Crime Suppression Division|
|Hired||June 5, 2041|
|Salary|| $232,000 (~60,000¥)|
37,500 LSS (~5,000¥)
She spent five years patrolling Puyallup. A few citizen complaints, excessive violence, but nothing that stuck. Then a few of years in anti-terrorism before being recruited into CSD as a lieutenant, where she's been for the last seven.
|Address|| 938 110th Ave NE Apt. 312|
Bellevue, SSAR 98004
Buncha other Star in this building. Looks like the owner discounts their rent.
She's gonna also have internal corp text/voice/video comms, but you'd need to break heavy ice to use them anyways.
|Visa|| 4929 3458 0114 2984|
|Chase Ares||$30,447.04 (~7,600¥)|
|Lone Star Scrip||~4,174 (~550¥)|
Up-to-date scrip amounts are tough to pull from corp servers. And I think I would have found any covert accounts, but you can never be sure.
|Make & Model||Land Rover Model 2067|
Her car's got a bit of custom up-armoring she bought with Star scrip. Shouldn't be any mounted weapons, though.
|Lone Star Application Psych Summary||May 14, 2041|
|A tendency to binary social identification – leading to openness to in-groups and distrust of out-groups – may make for an excellent recruit if loyalties can be directed to Lone Star and against extra-agency threats. Skill with rapid situational assessment and quick decision-making should prove valuable both in field work and in potential direct-command roles. However, an inherent impulsiveness limits aptitude with long-term planning, such that any rank advancement should retain subordination beneath a more strategic leader to set goals.|
Proud of this pull. Found a leak of these from the early 40s on ShadowNet.