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Plugged In [IC]

The realms with a strong focus on technology. These are the realms of Science Fiction/Fantasy, Cyberpunk, Steampunk, and their ilk. Examples: Star Trek, Borderlands, Neuromancer.

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Plugged In [IC]

Post by BrookeDi » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:43 am

Most mornings start the same for Annabelle.

First, it's the alarm. Annabelle's eyes opening to stare at the undecorated beige walls.

There's a quick shower that lasts precisely fifteen minutes.

Then, the sound of Protein-D Flakes (a cereal brand--developed and sold by StarPoint--that promises to give you half your daily dose of Vitamin D and the recommended breakfast serving of protein) hitting the plastic bowl; followed by the crunching of each synthetic bite.

Then, the sound of her toothbrush swishing across her teeth. A second alarm goes off to let her know it's almost time to plug in for work.

Some days, she doesn't even bother dressing for work. What's the point when StarPoint doesn't see the difference between her changing into a pair of sweats and a t-shirt from her plain beige pajama set?

Finally, she's sitting at her large L-shaped StarPoint desk, sliding her index finger across the finger scanner that unlocks her StarPoint manufactured computer. Once she's logged in with a cup of water within easy reach, Annabelle places the small, circular cortical node to her temple, pressing her index finger to the small DNA reader there on the outside. Her eyes filled with the virtual world. It was funny how they made it seem much like the outside world used to. Annabelle was greeted with clear blue skies, her average looking avatar standing on the virtual sidewalk. She always loaded on the street, not bothering to pay the bitcoin required so that she could load directly into locations. She enjoyed taking the short walk to the StarPoint's virtual building, passing the other avatars on her way to work. There was always the same elderly man sitting on a bench with his newspaper unfolded as he skimmed through the news. He waved to Annabelle every morning which was an excellent way to start the day when she was headed to a day of being yelled at by people with petty problems.

As she passed Mr. Shih this morning, the newspaper rippled, and the top story on the front of the paper changed. He gave her the customary wave, but Annabelle stopped to glance at the newspaper. The headline had caught her eye:

StarPoint, Inc. Reports Security Breach

"You're going to be late," he told her.

"Right," she murmured, continuing her walk. "Have a good day, Mr. Shih."

"You, too," he called back.

Back in the real world, Annabelle's fingers moved across her holographic keyboard. A menu extended in front of her avatar and used that to purchase a copy of the virtual newspaper. While skimming through the frustratingly short article, Annabelle reached StarPoint. Her employee ID, embedded in her avatar's code lets her through the doors of the building where she is stopped by bumping into a very tall, armored avatar. It does neither of them any harm, but she still apologizes before glancing around at the surprisingly crowded lobby. It looks like no employees were being allowed to their desks.

At the very front of the crowd, the entrance to the rest of the building is blocked off and behind it, white space. Someone had paused the code, either temporarily or permanently, preventing anyone from accessing the rest of the StarPoint building.

Despite starting like most mornings, today was a very different morning.
"Who would give a law to lovers? Love is unto itself a higher law." - Boethius
"There's nothing wrong with you. There's a lot wrong with the world you live in." - Chris Colfer


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Re: Plugged In [IC]

Post by Ghostwriter » Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:39 pm

An explosion erupts amidst an orchestra of gunfire. As the fire is replaced by a cloud of dark smoke a lone figure in black leaps out, firing an assault rifle behind him. He landed in a roll, and in the same motion plants a grenade in the dirt before quickly ducking around a corner.

"Four, three, two, one~" Angel mutters under his breath while reloading, another explosion, and then... a buzzer. Another second later he blind fired around the corner just as bullets fly blowing chunks off the wall in front of him. Another buzzer.

Glancing at his HUD he see's two names left, everyone else on his team was greyed out, a timer counting down from 2 minutes, and silence. He either had to take out the two remaining members of the opposing team, or he had to plant and defend the bomb. They had probably left the other two defending the point which meant they were camping and waiting for the clock, leaving him only with the option of walking into a trap. He looked up, took out his grappling hook, and started to scale the building. Angel knew the map well so it wouldn't be hard to figure out which campsites opposing members were using, the difficult part would be what came after.

After entering through a window he moved quietly through a hallway. The walls had hooks sticking through them, the two inside had barricaded them making it bulletproof. Ahead were stairs, after the first step he looked up. Placed on the wall above him was a motion sensor mine. Easy enough to miss unless you knew to be careful, and kill or not there was no way to get past it without setting it off which made it a good alarm system. The other way in probably had a mine above it as well, meaning they would know whichever path he was taking. He looked back at the clock, just over a minute left. "Do or die time~" he muttered.

Using an empty magazine he threw it, bouncing it off one of the upper steps. Immediately an explosion rocks the stairs, and before the dust even settled he jumped up, grabbing the floor above with one hand and blind firing his pistol in their assumed direction. A second later a hail of machine gun fire is heard with the sounds of heavy boots running toward him. "Frag out!" one of the two defenders could be heard shouting, the grenade bouncing off the wall behind him before rolling towards Angel down the stairs. He quickly let go, falling back down to the bottom of the stairs and turned to sprint back in the direction he came. This long hallway however left him nowhere to run. He could hear the grenade falling, hitting each step behind him before rolling a short way down the hallway.

He superman dived midair, BOOM! He could feel the rush of debris around him. It was a good trap he had to admit, Angel was a sitting duck. The footsteps of the defender above could be heard turning around the corner to run down the stairs. "Oh shi-" BOOM! A buzzer goes off as the sound of the defenders body ragdolled down the stairs. Angel had replanted a motion mine where the first had gone off after the other player threw his grenade, he just hadn't noticed it till it was too late.

The camera switches to the viewpoint of the last defender, steadying his gun at the top of the stairs still covered in the explosion cloud with ten seconds left on the clock. As soon as he see's a sign of movement he opens fire with his machine gun, five. Bullets fly, tearing up the wall behind Angel, four. Out of the cloud steps the figure of his ally, instinctually he stops firing... three. Friendly fire was a serious thing, and the penalty of team killing could lead to a temporary ban depending if the other guy was an asshole or not. But he realized his mistake almost as soon as he made it. From behind him, holding the corpse of his ally in front of him as a human shield, Angel aimed his pistol. The sound of a single gunshot followed by a buzzer was the last sounds of that match. Two seconds left on the clock, terrorists win!

Undoubtedly many were upset, many cheered.
"No one ever plants the bomb."
"wow that choke"
"I didn't see, wtf happened?"
"Angel 2 op plz nerf"
"No doubt boyz"
"He set them up the bomb"
"LOL, You have no chance to survive make your time!"
"What you say?"
"No really guys, wtf happened?"
"Check the replay noob"
"Angel fucking wrecked them"

He sat up, reaching over to his side to grab a drink. "Ok guys that was fun, I hope everyone enjoyed the semi finals. I need to take a quick break but I'll be right back to hang out with you Chat. 7th Heaven subscribers can send any questions and I'll answer them at the end of the stream. And remember; every time you smash that like button, an angel gets it's wings."

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Re: Plugged In [IC]

Post by Forge » Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:03 am

Aleksey pulled the tab on his plastic coffee cup and listened to the cheap heating filaments sizzle. The mechanism didn't work very well, but the coffee tasted reasonable and would have a definite chemical effect. He was at the tail end of a sixteen-hour shift, with the faint trembling in his fingers and scratchiness behind his eyes that warned of his body's growing demand for sleep. The light in the apartment had been turned almost all the way down, one of the few benefits of working irregular hours; he could circumvent the mandatory day/night cycle that StarPoint enforced in its employee housing and keep the one-room apartment comfortably dim. This had the dual benefit of giving his tired eyes a break, along with assisting him in ignoring the scattering of dirty clothes and discarded Calorie Mate™ packaging he'd allowed to accumulate over the course of the last shift rotation. Cleaning up was a job for Future Aleksey, and one the current operator was happy to leave for him.

Draining the lukewarm coffee, Aleksey tossed the empty cup into the compacter out of a vague sense of guilt, then sloped over to his bunk for a change of shirt. His body ached to lie down - just for a minute, the little voice in his head lied - but StarPoint expected him to attend a weekly division meeting, and there was no clause in his contract that exempted him on the grounds of exhaustion. Instead Aleksey shed his t-shirt, sniffed it, regretted the impulse immediately and tossed it into a corner. The panel next to the bunk picked up on the movement, decided that he was awake, and chimed merrily to indicate that he had another missed call from his sister. A fresh wave of guilt welled up at that, and he thumbed the display to life while he retrieved and wriggled into something fresh.

"Aleksey Vladimirovich, if you think you get rid of me by ignoring me, you're in for a very unpleasant surprise!" He winced, tugging the shirt down so that he could see Ekaterina's avatar, projected in lines of blue light against the wall. Its features were sharper than her own; similar enough to be recognised, but given an air of severity that no doubt helped in her job. Aleksey thought it made her look aggressive. "Five time's I've called, and not once have you called back. They don't keep you working all the time. Do I have to come down there and bodily drag you back with me? Because I will!" He fidgeted under the recording's gaze, nearly as discomfited as he would have been had she been telling him off for real. The avatar glared into the room a moment longer, then sighed, some of the tension leaving her voice. "Lyosha, you cannot hide away all the time. There's more to life than your job and that tiny room you insist on living in. Come to see us. Dima will be five soon. He misses you. I miss you. And if you make me ask again, I'll throw you into an algae vat and close the lid." She paused, fixed the camera with a frown that was less irate than the one she'd opened with, and nodded as though the matter were settled. "We love you, Lyosha. Call me soon."

The display blinked out, and Aleksey was left in the gloom feeling more than a little sheepish. How long had it been since he'd seen his sister or nephew, even in virtual? The boy was almost five - a year, then? Closer to two? He'd been putting it off on the pretence that he didn't want to be an inconvenience, but that was a flimsy excuse. She and Maria were high-level corporate, they had living space to spare. The truth was, it was getting harder and harder to engage with anything outside of the four walls that were his living and working space rolled into one. Aleksey punched in the reply command while his guilt was still fresh, switching to voice only so she wouldn't see his three-day beard and bruised eyes.
"Katyusha, I'm sorry. They don't keep us working all the time, but I've pulled a lot of double shifts, and I'm tired. Lots of sleeping. You know." It was a weak justification, and he knew it. Still. "I'll come to Novosibirsk soon. For Dima's birthday. I have vacation credits saved up, I'll take a shuttle." He hesitated, ran a hand across his stubbled scalp and swallowed the anxiety he felt at the thought. "I don't mean to worry you, Katyusha. I'm okay, I promise. I'll talk to you soon." A pause, then swiftly; "Don't tell Mama about the missed calls."

Aleksey punched send, tried to feel optimistic about the call, settled instead for less guilt-ridden and made his way back to the console. His system was high end; form-moulded chair, wraparound console, embedded electrodes that buzzed minute signals to the implants under his skin. It had cost a chunk of his paycheck way back when, but his living costs weren't exactly high, and StarPoint subsidised the upgrades for emergency crews. Anything to make them more efficient. Sinking into the chair, Aleksey pressed the node to his temple and settled back, thumbing the system to life. The room faded out, replaced by a connection HUD wherein he selected his work avatar - essentially him, albeit a version that looked less like death warmed up, dressed in StarPoint's default avatar uniform - and dialed directly into the corporation's virtual office.

[Error], the system cheerfully informed him. [Server inaccessible] Aleksey frowned, and tried again. [Error], the machine repeated, sounding no less put out about the repeat attempt. [Server inaccessible. Connecting to nearest available virtual hub.] The connection was in process before he could object, shunting him from one place to the other in less time than it took to blink, and depositing him in the mass of bodies crowded into the virtual lobby of StarPoint's main office. Computerised or otherwise, the press of bodies was sudden and suffocating, and Aleksey recoiled before backing toward the edge of the room. Beyond the far doors, the rest of the StarPoint server was whited out, virtual offices swept away to nothing. It was nuts. StarPoint were involved in everything - the idea that their servers could close entirely didn't make a lick of sense. And yet, here they were.
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