Excerpt: Service, Service


3-6 Players, 1 Session (3-4 Hours)

To address the scarcity of bot brains in Alpha Complex, the service firm laboratory UltraTech RD has devised a way to implant scrubbed human brains in bot housings.

The plan: Use these new bots as Troubleshooters.
The problem: The brains go insane.
The solution: Get a bunch of real human Troubleshooters to train the bots and vouch for their effectiveness, then toss the project to PLC and let them deal with implementation.

Mission alert

It’s just another day in the RED barracks. Suddenly The Computer’s dulcet tones ring out:

Congratulations, Troubleshooters! In recognition of your exemplary record of loyalty and expertise on behalf of The Computer and Alpha Complex, you have been chosen for a very important mission. You are to report to Conference Room 2, UltraTech RD Facility 1100, KQF Sector, where you will assist in training the next generation of cutting-edge adaptive bot brain technology. A transbot will arrive in 30 minutes to transport you to your destination. All equipment will be provided on-site. Have a pleasant daycycle!

Give the players a few minutes to pass you notes regarding their activities over the next half-hour. Suggest that they might have an interest in visiting their secret society contacts. Honestly, some players just don’t have the necessary initiative. Then, whisk them away to UltraTech R&D and their mission briefing.

NEW! Mission briefing: now 17% briefer! (Tension 15)

The conference room contains a long, sleek table full of high-tech vidscreens and holographic projectors, all half-hidden by heaps of papers, bot parts, and transparent canisters containing live human brains. A single BLUE citizen sits at the head of the table, flanked by a pair of guardbots.

Diana-B-RYK-4, the project director responsible for the TroubleBots, greets the team with a plastic smile. A lifelong experimenter and researcher, she’s been promoted out of her depth; dealing with people isn’t her strong suit. It simply doesn’t occur to her that the Troubleshooters might view the prospect of being replaced by creepy brain-bots as anything but a miracle of Science!.

‘Welcome, Troubleshooters! We in R&D are rolling out a wonderful new development that you’ll find terribly exciting. We’ve cracked the old bot brain design problem by tackling it from a new angle. Our latest bots are operated by genuine human brains! We remove them from traitors, inasmuch as they aren’t using them any more—ha ha—and scrub them clean of impure thought, then implant them into our new TroubleBots!

‘Yes, that’s right, TroubleBots. These new bots have been designed to aid Troubleshooters in the course of their duties! In the future, you’ll each have your own TroubleBot to help you out in times of trouble. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you just how exciting that will be.

‘Here’s an example of a scrubbed brain. As you can see, it’s perfectly healthy! And if we turn on this speaker, we can hear its thoughts.’

She flips a switch on one of the brain canisters. After a crackle of static, a speaker set into the canister screeches like a banshee. ‘Noooooo! Somebody, kill me! End my tormented existence! Pleeeease!’

Diana-B smiles glassily and switches the speaker off. She then continues with her spiel:

‘As you can see, it remains capable of thought and language, even after the surgery and the brainscrubbing process. Isn’t science amazing?

‘Your job is to train these bots so they’re just as good at Troubleshooting as you are. Not so they can replace you, oh no—nonono!—but so they can assist you properly at all times. We’ve designed a number of training sequences to help you impart all necessary skills.

‘And if your bot performs particularly well, you may receive the astounding, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have your brain transferred into one of the new TroubleBots! Admittedly, you’ll have your brain scrubbed thoroughly, and there have been some tissue rejection issues, and we haven’t licked the neural degradation problem yet. But you’ll have an immortal robot body, free of all those annoying fleshy bits! What could be better?

‘Oh, and please ignore the smoke from Lab 14C. Just a little accident with the new BioVore project, nothing for you to worry about at your security clearance. Just don’t go inside. Or anywhere near it, really.’

Published October 2005 by Mongoose Publishing Ltd.

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