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Episode 15: In the Shadow of the Beast / BAAL (Complex)

 
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:36 am    Post subject: Episode 15: In the Shadow of the Beast / BAAL (Complex) Reply with quote

EPISODE 15.

Kobotai instructs the group to go on the offensive. They need a break in the Mark 13 case. To that end, they must locate and bring in the Hacker known as Manji. They also must investigate the American military commander, Colonel Holden.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE BEAST / BAAL ( A Complex Episode)


Diving in the history of William Holden reveals he was honorably discharged from the American Empire’s Army shortly after World War III. Sharron contacts his ally in the AE intelligence service, Brett Raiden. Obviously this name is fake. Brett informs Sharron that Holden left for psychological reasons. He was dismissed. However, During World War IV, six years later, he requested re-enlistment. Needing trained officers, Holden was reinstated and placed in charge of the US American base at Sasebo. Apparently, Admiral Campbell (in command of the navy fleet around Japan) and Holden don’t like each other and have a history dating back decades. Brett doesn’t know about the intervening six years.

Gregori checks in on that while sending out a virus seed on the net in a way to lure Manji to a location where they can talk privately. Sharron asks Greg to check in on Holden and the intervening six years. After a few hours of checking, Gregs digs up a pay stub for Holden's employment. The logo on the receipt shows Daymen Marketing, a faux corporation header used by companies that don’t wish to identify themselves in public or on paper. Greg breaks into other references to Daymen and tracks back the pay to an acronym: P.B.T. Cross checking that finds no other references. Is PBT a NPO, a corporation, or a person?

Meenwhile, Ben calls up his old boss and guardian back at Sagawa, Fuwa Koukako. He asks for more information on Sagawa's connection to Mark 13. Section 10 knows there is a connection and is related to the GOLEM AI that was stolen from Sagawa last month (and 12 episodes ago). Koukako refuses to answer Ben and arrogantly disconnects the line.

Sharron continues going through his contacts in AE while Greg continues his search online. Greg finds another reference to PBT in a personal web page. The widow of a former employee of PBT mentions that she was never allowed to go to the building and her husband was never allowed to discuss what he did for any reason. But PBT paid well. Her Husband was a cyberneticist. She adds than since his passing in a car crash, PBT continues to pay for all her expenses but they all come through Daymen Marketing, and the paper and electronic trail ends there. She did add that her husband was only brought onto one project and that was all he ever worked on. He also worked on the 35th floor of the building. Sharron discovered that Brett has heard of PBT and believes he remembered a reference in the CIA. Checking back later, Sharron discovers that there was a military contract in the JSDF during World War III. And Brett remembers two companies developing prototypes for it. He remembers PBT being one of them. Greg is not prepared to go mucking about against Military nets so they ask Kobotai to use legal channels to discover information. Kobotai comes back with Project Demigod.

Apparently, during World War III, the JSDF created the Project. However, data on it is compartmentalized so details on what the projects was supposed to accomplish is not known. However, two corporations were approved to develop prototypes: PBT and Sagawa Electronics. Ben contacts Koukako again a leaves a message of one word, “Demigod.” It seems Section 10 is getting closer to something. They just don’t know what it is? It seems they are moving…but sideways.

Koukako calls Ben back and instructs them to meet at a parking garage near the Sagawa Geofront. Manji finally takes the bait and sends Greg coordinates online. Manji says that the others have been keeping an eye on her. They won’t give an opportunity for more than a few moments of time. Finally, they give her a few hours to sneak away. She doesn’t know why they are away at this moment. It’s only a few hour window. She will meet Greg at the JR Train from Hokkaido to Bertarve in one hour. Greg leaves immediately.

Ben meets Koukako in a dark level. Koukako explains Sagawa’s connection. During World War III, before the nukes fell, the government challenged the JSDF to bolster ground defenses around the islands. With a lack of manpower, the SDF turned to technology. At the same time, Cyberization started its meteoric rise. However, the public appeared to frown on the concept of ghostless killing machines on the battlefield. The SDF created Project Demigod. Its concept was simple: Make a system where a master system, under guidance of a Ghost occupied Cyberbrain, controlled several ghostless slave units. This allowed a military officer to control a squad of mindless drones as he would control a squad of humans…they just don’t complain as much. Two corporations were approved to develop prototypes, PBT and Sagawa. It took weeks for Sagawa intelligence to uncover who PBT was. They found only one reference to PBT…

Phyrine

Biomechanical

Technologies

There is no other reference. They don’t have a website and they don’t have a stock listing. Sagawa theorized Phyrine might have been fake, a constructed idea by SDF to make Sagawa more competitive and keep their cost down in their proposal. Sagawa developed their prototype that allowed several military machines (aka military androids) to operate under a slave AI system installed in a ghost occupied cyberbrain…GOLEM was that project.

So what happened? World War III ended. The project was shuffled to the bottom of the ladder and Japan had to rebuild from the nuclear strike. When World War IV broke out, the public’s paranoia of ghostless AIs became more subdued. They didn’t care so much and Demigod became obsolete. With the contract nullified, GOLEM became free and its ownership fell back to Sagawa that kept the AI program at the Geofront to assist in transport and construction. Sagawa never saw what Phyrine’s project was but they did find its name: B.A.A.L.

It’s an acronym but no one knows what it means or how far along Phyrine developed it before the Project was cancelled. GOLEM was under the guidance of its project leader, Takehiro Mokushi who hired on an outside programming team. Koukako never met the team but did know the team comprised of five people and not all of them were programmers.

A sound is heard. A single class A cyborg walks in from the entrance. Koukako believes this to be one of that programming team. Whoever it is, he wants Koukako dead before he says more than he already has. Ben and the unknown cyborg fight violently, breaking through concrete walls and punching through cars. Finally Ben keeps Koukako alive and escapes in his car. He delivers Koukako back to the Geofront. Koukako hands Ben a chip, which will be everything else Sagawa knows. He also adds that Sagawa is no longer connected to his conspiracy. There were some leaks but they have been plugged.

Ben returns back to Section 10 and meets with Sharron. Meenwhile Greg arrives at the train station and finds it crowded. It’s the Spring Equinox and people cram the train station. Sharron and Ben go over the chip and find two files. One is data, the other is text…


FILE REPORT: 36KHL0897
ADDENDUM: By January 22, 2010, Sagawa Electronics will deliver project GOLEM to the GSDF for immediate in field use. We are confident this will rival the competitor’s project in the DEMIGOD proposal. Current intelligence indicates the rival corporation, Phyrine Biological Technologies, dubbed their project, B.A.A.L. Unfortunately, this information was gleamed from the GSDF database. We currently don’t know where Phyrine is located or even if it really exists.

As a practical application of our GOLEM, we will create a fictional situation for our system to defeat. The project lead, Takehiro Mokushi will create a “Campaign” of connected incidents the master AI will solve and denote responsibility to the GOLEM master controllers. Mokushi will present this campaign to the GOLEM programming team.

Mokushi created a fictional terrorist group the incidents the Sagawa test group will try to defeat. Being a religious man, Mokushi dubbed the terrorist group, the Mark 13. The GOLEM programming team will create practical uses of the GOLEM in these situations.

INCIDENT 1: Stage a mock terrorist strike on a Nuclear Reactor. For ease sakes, we will choose Sagawa’s own Geofront. A member of the programming team even volunteered to create a program that will create a slow reactor failure in the Sagawa reactor. Obviously, this should only be a simulation.

INCIDENT 2: Infiltrate a decommissioned military vessel and copy files from its cyberbrain. This would be an application of downloading GOLEM onto onboard military droids.

INCIDENT 3: Stage a mass attack of GOLEM controlled cyborgs into the headquarters of a corporation. Obviously, this would also be a simulation. We guess it would involve five masters with up to 40 ghostless androids in total.

INCIDENT 4: Stage a mock missile attack on a JR Train. Keeping close to the Geofront, we choose the JR Hokkaido train to Bertrave. A prime strike time would be during the Spring Equinox when tens of thousands of Japanese visit graveyards around Japan. ON this day, trains would be especially packed. GOLEM would be utilized for search and rescue.


It’s too late. Greg hears the roar of the jets overhead. A missile strikes the bridge under the train. The train splits in two. One half hangs over the edge of the bridge, a hundred feet to rocks and shoreline below. Ben and Sharron rush in Tilt-rotor but are still ten minutes away. Greg jumps on the track and runs down to the wreckage. He helps people out but finally forces his way in the front car. He pries people from bent wreckage, all the while pushing deeper towards the other end. His goals is clear, find Manji. He knows she is Chinese and is between 20 and 30 years of age. Greg approaches the train car half way over the bridge. He sees a few people trapped inside. He pulls one through and sees a Chinese woman at the far end…Manji. The train car breaks in half. The bottom half now only hangs by a few supports vertically from the bridge. Greg wants to rescue Manji but there are two other people closer. Manji insists he get them first. She is pinned by broken seats. Arriving rescue personnel throw a rope, which Greg climbs down.
“Greg!! I should have told you! I’m sorry. It wasn’t me. I never hacked you. Do you believe me?”
Greg tries to reach her but he can’t in time. The supports snap. She throws him something that he catches.
“We were doing it for turtles, Greg…I’m sorry.”

The train breaks off and Greg watches as the train falls around him. He sees Manji and train fall to the rocks below. Ben and Sharron arrive and search the wreckage to find her body. Not enough of her cyberbrain survived to salvage anything. Manji gave Greg a silver Manji symbol necklace. The group leaves.

The next day, Greg checks the chip. Included in the file is the GOLEM core engine. This is the original program conceived 20 years ago. The programming techniques match those of Katana, Manji, and the 3rd hacker responsible for Section 10s Ghost Hacks. If those were three people of the five member programming team…then the fourth would be the one that attacked Ben at the underground parking garage. That would leave a fifth…the leader? The team would consist of the two programmers, Katana is the supplier / fixer. The muscle would be…what? A bodyguard? Greg checks on BAAL and finds nothing other than the historical meaning. Baal is a Semitic title and honorific meaning lord that is used for various gods, spirits and demons particularly of the Levant. "Baal" can refer to any god and even to human officials; in some mythological texts it is used as a substitute for Hadad, a god of the sun, rain, thunder, fertility and agriculture, and the lord of Heaven.

The investigation must go on. Kobotai stages a faux interview of Colonel Holden with Greg and Sharron as the interviewers. Ben accompanies as the cameraman. The three are allowed on the base and into Holden’s office. Holden is intelligent and honest. He doesn’t reveal his connection with Phyrine and does reveal he does not want another war. He adds that another war with China will only result in another nuclear exchange. With conventional war, there is room for error. Countries can make mistakes. With a nuclear war, there is no learning curve. If there is a mistake, countries fall and civilizations will be destroyed.

The interview is cut off by a news report. The American Empire has been mobilized to DefCon 2. The missile attack on the train has been discovered to be fired from a Chinese Fighter plane. The situations has just gotten worse…
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It should be noted that anyone following these episodes should read this one as it explains a lot....
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