Wednesday 21 January 2015

Hilli and Sci-Fi Short Story by Niles Alling

Here is a fine character and fiction submission by Niles Alling: Mr. Alling says he welcomes anyone to contact him to collaborate on Challenger RPG projects, or to just bounce around ideas. He's also willing to share material, or swap stories for critiquing. 

This is game Number One.

Character #1: Hilli

Standard issue bio-mechanical scouting unit. Highly upgradeable/customizable.

Cat sized robotic platform. Quadrupedal at speed, bipedal for item manipulation. Built for speed and scouting. Easy to upgrade. Automatic solar power cell recharge. Refillable Nanobot-repair clusters, 3 charges carrying 1d6 repair points.

-PULSE PISTOL, short range pistol wielding, up to 10 meters, 1d6.

-MAG-CARBINE, medium range carbine wielding, up to 50 meters, 1d10.

-HACK, 50% chance opening any low-level security door, 50% chance info recovery of any low level data terminal.

-RE-LOAD, brainbox data sent to secure orbiting satellite and made instantly available to nearest robotic platform in event of total destruction. Total equipment loss. Retain any electronic funds.

-CLOAK, basic equipment, 50% chance of escaping enemy notice until combat begins, upgradeable light-bending optics, acts as camouflage. Must be activated (not a passive skill, 10 minutes of total cloaking time before recharge is needed).

-FLASH, once per encounter an expanding sphere of light energy emits from unit, blinds any biological enemies or scrambles any electronic circuits. 25% chance of total immobilization of enemy for one round. 

-CAPTURE, unit carries two, small remote hacking devices. Must be placed directly on robotic enemy unit. 25% chance of obtaining direct control over enemy unit for 1d6 rounds. Retain control over unit until next encounter or for one day if original encounter ends with enemy unit under PC control.

-ION SHIELD, once per day a spherical shield can be generated. 75% chance of blocking all damage. Blocks 50% of damage even upon failure.

-GEOSYNCHRONOUS EYE, once per encounter data can be streamed from any available satellite giving nearby enemy locations or any POIs, building blueprints. Does not function for subterranean structures. Uses two full turns to complete during an encounter.

-KINETIC HARPOON, once per adventure 1d6, 3 foot long solid masses launched from orbit upon an enemy dealing 3d10 damage each. 25% chance of hitting man sized enemy. 50% chance of hitting vehicle sized enemy. 100% chance of hitting stationary building or building sized enemy. All PC's must be outside the 100 meter safety zone. GEOSYNCHRONOUS EYE must be activated successfully before use.

The only information this character starts with is that his human body is somewhere on the planet in a research and development laboratory. Character starts by soft reboot just outside of a small community of natives with a standard issue monomolecular knife (replaces natural weaponry, 1d4) pulse pistol and 100 galactic standard units (most common form of currency).


Self Discovery

Chapter One

I knew as soon I woke, something was off. It was the way I woke, I think. It wasn't the gradual spiral up out of sleep I'm used to, I came-to like flipping on a switch. 

Directly in front of me was a long thin hand, three fingers and slightly heavier opposable thumb. I'd seen the material somewhere before. Ultralloy. A strange mixture of carbon nanotube and exotic high nickel metal. Twice the strength, a quarter the weight. Good stuff. How did I know that...?

An artificially calm female voice spoke:

"Warning. Evasive maneuvers recommended. There is a low speed, high mass object incoming."

Without thinking I answered back, "What?"

"Warning. Evas..."

"Yes! I got that but... what's going on? Who are you?" I observed more of my body as I swung my head around, looking for the speaker. Just to add a little flavor to my already confused mind, parts of me seemed to fuzz out of focus or whole chunks would disappear altogether. 

"I have been given no designation. I am this unit's A.I."

I could feel the ground rumbling now. Whoever she was, she was right. There was something big, and it was close.

I turned my head to look behind me, and seen the huge metal grille of a Class D land train. I knew they were big. The balloon tires they ran on were ten meters tall by themselves. 

And apparently the voice talking to me in my head has a different idea of 'low speed' than I do. They sustain a cruising speed of 130 kph over the flat desert terrain. Funny the useless little facts your brain will feed you when you're truly in panic mode...

I found that when you're about to kiss the front bumper of a land train they appear to be moving a whole hell of a lot quicker than that.

"Requesting permission to take temporary control over unit."


The next few seconds were just a blur. My view to the front lowered close to the ground, sage brush flew past at a dizzying speed and I could feel the rumbling begin to die down. 

At what the A.I. determined to be a safe distance she relinquished control and I looked back at the train. Watching the thirty two pairs of ten-meter-tall balloon tires roar by I realized how lucky I was. 

"Thank you. I think you just saved my life."

"Self preservation software is built into this unit's A.I." 

"I see. Look, I really need to know what's going on here. What information can you give me about... this?" I gestured my ultralloy hand vaguely around myself.

"I have been given a data file and was instructed to give it to you when the unit finished its soft reboot. Would you like the data now?"

"Yes. Please."

My view of the world blinked out and was replaced by the severe face of a silver haired woman in her sixties. Intelligent brown eyes peered at me over the lenses of oval wireframe glasses. 

"Hello Dr. Reso. This is Dr. Bruckner. We weren't sure what you'd remember at this point so I've prepared a quick overview of the situation. Odds are you have more questions than answers right now.

We are working on 'Project Binary Grail' for the Department of Advanced Artificial Intelligence Development, an embedded agency within the United Republic of Free Star System's military.

Recently we have made astounding progress toward the truly thinking and learning machine, thanks in large part to your experiments in total synaptic transfer and immersion. 

So much so that the higher-ups have taken an interest in the project and demanded a full disclosure report on all methods, techniques and findings. Needless to say we put them off for some time. I guess we pushed it too far. 

On Friday, the sixth of January in the year 2164, Earth Standard, a black ops sting operation was carried out to collect the research and its subsequent data. 

You were immersed at the time of the sting and the only reason everything was in place for this was due to the thorough foresight of yourself and Senior Design Engineer Ackley. 

A small escape pod with the unit you're immersed in now escaped and was loaded on a transport to the Freemason system where it was to dump you on one of the planets in the Goldilocks band. 

Also loaded into that unit is the A.I. you've been developing since this project began. You've got something there Doug. We don't know exactly WHAT you've got, but it doesn't behave like a machine... shit, it behaves more like something out of myth. 

Anyway, you need to obtain another means of transportation after you've found a particular individual on that planet. His name is Grant Ronlin. Back when he was still on the radar he had ideas almost as crazy as yours. Rumors say he's gone native and has completely dropped off the net. Reasons for this behavior range from too much pressure in his old working environment, to cult activities and everything in between. 

Find him, we believe he may be convinced to help you. It's a long shot, I know... But this is as far as we could get you without raising any red flags with the trans galactic teamsters. And besides, you always wanted to meet him. Looks like you have a good excuse now. Do not try to contact the lab or anyone involved in the project, we're being watched. When this blows over we will try to get in contact with you.

Good luck Doug. And take care of her."

"End of message." Said the calm female voice.

If I had lungs I would have taken a deep breath, let it out slowly, and had myself a good solid round of cursing.

--Niles Alling.

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