08 March 2016

Soshema 6

Bounty Hunter by Alexis Reves
One of the best parts about playing roleplaying games is creating characters. Sometimes those people are bland, meant only to fill a role in the party. The vanilla warrior meant to hack stuff up, the heavy weapons expert for explosions, whatever. But more often, in the right game, characters are as they should be: intriguing people you want to know more about. Swords Without Master lets this happen in the cleanest, purest ways possible. There are no stats for the characters, nor are there a lot of moves or other mechanical hurdles that might otherwise interfere with making the character you want to play as. The game itself shapes the characters. And you're encouraged come up with a simulacrum or eidolon to represent your character. This could be a an actual illustration of your character, an object, just something that speaks to who the character is. It is yuge in kickstarting the way you imagine your character.

 I've had the pleasure of stumbling into a wonderful group of gamesmen in my limited experience with Swords, and one of them suggested a session using a cyberpunk hack of the game. I got lucky on Pinterest in finding the eidolon pictured here and the character took shape. This is a story about that character.

***
Black rain fell on the city like it always did. Nobody could recall if it had always been this way in truth, or if the everpresent clouds were part of the slow, man-wrought crumble of the world. It was unpleasant but the unpleasantness had burned out to concession long, long ago. Few even noticed it anymore. Soshema 6 certainly didn't. Soshema 6 dwelt inside Kuriostai and it was dry inside and familiar, if it wasn't pleasant.

From inside Kurio Soshema 6 ran through datalog after datalog.

}}accessing...invalid source...accessing...invalid source...accessing...positive match...processing and summarizing//¤//¤//¤//¤//¤//¤//¤//¤//¤//¤\\¤\\¤\\¤\\¤\\¤\\¤\\¤\\¤\\¤\\¤\\downloading...

Soshema 6 stepped aside to dodge the umbrella'd noodle cart that half-blocked the otherwise empty alley. Download complete, Soshema 6 ascended. Using the ladder at the start was not an issue; Kurio would provide the strength necessary to ascend a ladder bearing the burden of armor and equipment and rifle. When the ladder ran out at what would be the top of the lowest level, the pharynx of the slums, Kurio carried them both. Sprouting grappler arms of flexible titanium, the suit gripped window ledges and balcony bars and rooftops and sat dishes found through Kurio's targeting scanners directed by the retinas of Soshema 6. The drops of rain that struck the cybernetic mask plinked away; the rest wicked off cloak and coat, the curiously decorated coverings of a curious personage of man and machine.

From within the suit Soshema 6 could hack and track, download and sort, and so much more. However it was a burden. Such a burden to bear the weight of nigh-infinite action. There was painfully little Soshema 6 and Kuriostai could not do. But they were in demand and it was a living, a far better one than scraping the little cred as could be found in the world below corporate strongholds and their petty wars. Few had mastered the suit like Soshema 6 and few knew the heavy cost. Life outside Kurio was perpetual exposure; life within grudging dependence. But they were in demand and it was a living.

Walking along the high rooftops of the rich may otherwise prove a boon position for wandering thoughts. But companion to Soshema's burden was thoughtlessness, for life within the armor, on the job, was reaction and compulsion. Constant, almost subconcious analysis and response leading to the conclusion of the job. Efficiency. So the weight of the burden, of the armor, of the symbiosis was not known at such times as much as it was felt. It was an anxiety on the edge of the endless information presented by the HUD.

In the one corner was a map of the district tracking the black skull that represented the target. Another corner was home to vertical positioning scans, for Soshema 6 always took the high road. To one side went the bip feed of relevant goings-on, which also filtered in like radio chatter through the comm system. The world as it was could be seen through the odd, grainy-red filter of Kurio's optical sensors. Finally was a small picture-in-picture feed of the apartment. Unending paranoia did not allow the mind of Soshema 6 to be taken off it.

All of this was, perhaps, a great test of the mental bandwidth of the human mind.

The system, such as it was, worked. For without pause or hesitation Soshema 6 knelt and, in the same motion, swung the long rifle around, took aim mostly as a final precaution (for the exact position of the target was known), pulled the target, and said in a modulated voice, "Target down".

The night and the rain and the city and the sirens, late in coming for the corpse with a round through its left eye, would not know Soshema 6 or remember if they had. Ghosts gliding through space and time are not often recalled and scarcely known. More's the better, for none know Soshema 6 and those that do do not truly, for none have seen who inhabits Kuriostai. And, chance going the way of their choosing, none would.

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