From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
|It takes your soul, an inch at a time.|
|Player: @Talen Lee|
|Security Level:||Full Clearance|
|Place of Birth:||Confidential|
|A set of PRESS-guided surgical Operant claws, the PRESS AI|
|No additional information available.|
- So here is a riddle to guess if you can
Sing the bells of Notre Dame
What makes a monster and what makes a man?
- - The Bells of Notre Dame, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- Name: █████████████
- - Prisoner File #██████, released in redacted form August 18, 2001
In all technicality, the man known once as Vice Swithin doesn't exist. He never attended public school, never was recruited into the military at a young age, and was never court-martialed. Officially, he didn't spend over a year in prison being constantly the subject of assault attempts due to his lean frame and youthful looks, being constantly upgraded in security due to his self-defense capability leading to injured inmates.
Such high-risk prisons were certainly not combed for inmates experiencing minimal deviance from a genetic mean to find strong candidates capable of surviving a protracted full-body implant and neuroconnective surgery. Medical records don't exist for a process that wired him from heart to head, that upped his reaction time, accelerated his thought process and kept the young man wired on a personal basis alongside the firewalls and flamewars of wireless internet.
One life, redacted.
Vice, known just as Swivel to his friends and fellow agents, is a reasonably quiet young man. Despite his time in prison and the military, he's an active communicator and seems to bear no particularly ill will towards either establishment. Just as much, he's very withdrawn on the topic of why he was courtmartialled and incarcerated. Even those first dealing with him find that Swivel is friendly. He's good-natured, relatively easygoing and when not in the grip of combat, quite well-mannered. While he has the marks of his upbringing - a number of minor surgical scars from military field implants and prison tattoos - Swivel does not go out of his way to conceal them. Perhaps futilely, he tries to act and dress as if he's a totally normal citizen, drawing minimal attention to the signs of his extreme training and technological augmentation. In fact, the first thing that really strikes people is just what a nerd Swivel is.
He stammers, he shuffles his feet, he adjusts his glasses and he clarifies points of science and history with pretty much no the poise and grace. Stealing glances at girls, keeping his head down, the whole manner completely belies his status as a former prisoner and military special operative. So why the geeky front? It's not entirely clear. Swivel's behaviour in prison and the military has all shown that when under pressure, he shifts into a much more lethal mode, dispenses with dialogue, and can often be heard broadcasting classical music as he fights. On the other hand, the nerdy behaviour? Much more likely to be the 'default' Swivel, with all of his self-esteem issues and inquisitive, exploratory nature unrestrained.
An omindirectional nerd, Swivel can talk about music or poetry or art or science. Just not with a girl for a long period of time without his stuttering and blushing more-or-less overwhelming him. And like most nerds, a large portion of his personal hard drive in PRESS is reserved for a cache of pornography.
- P.R.E.S.S: The Programmed REflexive Synapse System has demonstrated that in order to accommodate the constant rate of human mental modes it requires a fundamental AI that can communicate on a functional level with a Human Operator with Special Training (referred henceforth as HOST). Due to the idea of a clean base-line system, a 'clean boot' as it were, we've attempted to find candidates for HOST applicants in fields that ensure minimal genetic deviation, prior biological enhancement or magical augmentation of the fundamental systems of the individual...
- - Engineer's Summary
The PRESS AI system started its life as a control mechanism for surgical machinery. There's no tale of an insane AI raging out of control, though. The system was just well-suited to monitor and maintain the dynamically-changing systems of the human body, but actually conducting advanced repair in a human was very difficult to calibrate; to actually conduct repairs on an individual would require a PRESS designed explicitly for that person's exact dimensions and the quirks of their health, mandating weekly checkups and a stable diet. While the system's application for managing surgical machinery for the complex repair of an individual, it proved remarkably efficient with some slight modification for inflicting complex damage on an individual.
When PRESS was subverted for military application, many of its healing and restorative systems were rebalanced by installing it in an individual. With a constant feed of information from him, the AI was able to expand its knowledge base, and was therefore able to dedicate itself to a whole range of greater, more sophisticated problems. PRESS was able to incorporate varying ranges of different influences on combat performance and individual health, which meant more and more sophisticated software systems were developed for it.
As the modules of the PRESS were expanded it developed a user front-end which, since it was designed to be integrated into a military operative, was given a military air and personality of its own right. As the project advanced and was integrated into its first subject, it eventually became an all-purpose metacomputer, which connected the subject synaptically to the internet, and in turn, instated a range of performance monitors.
In effect, the PRESS is a second intelligence that cohabitates Swivel's body. It oversees his actions, and while he's not phased by its surveillance, it does choose to quip into conversations with observations. The PRESS has a distinct personality, and at times its bickering with Swivel is almost childish. On the other hand, PRESS' operating parameters include keeping Swivel at his optimum performance. While Swivel's mental mode is recognisable by PRESS, neither PRESS nor Swivel are completely aware of the others' thought processes.
- The primary issue is that the HOST cannot simply be an individual of no particular capability or deviance from the 99% Human Percentile. It has to be someone with a propensity towards cooperation, resourcefullness, and creative applications of limited resources, and at the same time acquainted with the application of an overwhelming variety of resources.
- - Engineer's Summary
Swivel could best be described as everything a highly-trained counterterror unit could do, in one discrete, easily deployed package, working in concert with PRESS. Most any skill he brings to bear on a situation, PRESS maximizes through the use of extraspatial sensors and internet-compatible research. Swivel can expand his skill base by using online references, and can deactivate sections of his sensory perception to narrow his focus or overcome pain.
Prior to receiving PRESS, Swivel had been involved in violent assaults leading to the death or permanent injury of his assailants, indicating he's not lacking in ability to fight. With the surgically-precise PRESS guiding him, he can strike out with maximum efficiency against any biological entity, taking even miniscule windows of opportunity to hurt or hinder his opponents. Hamstrings, arteries, Swivel has been seen to leave massive incisions on opponents, without ever harming their clothes. To facilitate the mixed fighting style of PRESS' surgical technique and his own blacker past, Swivel wields a pair of bladed claws on one hand, and a knuckleduster on the other. This cooperation with the information provided by PRESS is from whence his real strength shines as a HOST for the PRESS AI.
Both PRESS and Swivel have wireless broadband access the internet, and PRESS has sophisticated data management modules for a variety of purposes. It can made precise calculations about engineering, biology, chemistry and mathematic operations based on purely visually acquired data, intense analysis and '99th Percentile' projections. These modules include informational warfare tools, which can allow it to hack into all but the most sophisticated online systems. In essence, at any time Swivel is near a technological device that's hooked up to the internet or even an intranet, PRESS can intrude and interface.
In any such situation, then, Swivel's main strength is cooperating with PRESS. Swivel can use conventional infiltration techniques to avoid observation from guards, while PRESS focuses its efforts on neutralising other systems like laser scanners and pressure-sensitive plates. In combat, Swivel provides a killer instinct and pinpoint-fast human interaction, while PRESS can interpret even the subtlest of nuances and fluctuation in opponents' behaviours and motions, giving Swivel tactical and strategic superiority over his opponents.
Of course, the most present and obvious failing Swivel suffers under PRESS is that it could best be described as an omnipresent moral guardian that hates him a great deal and only wants to express it in passive-aggressive ways. In combat, PRESS seeks to emphasise all those elements of Swivel's personality that make him efficient, such as a disregard for fellow people and a lack of enthusiasm for violence - if he were particularly sadistic, it might slow down his progress through groups. On the other hand, socially, Swivel being too happy might diminish his combat efficiency. Sympathy for enemy groups, a feeling of connectedness within a group and the relative humanity of opponents can be an overall detriment to his combat ability. So instead, PRESS seeks to keep Swivel's mental modes and combat performance in general parameters.
PRESS seeks to manipulate his personal mood and social environment as passively as possible. When analysing social situations, it will answer questions seemingly at random to inquiries, such as noting how much better another male is to Swivel, or factors about Swivel that might drive other people away. In turn, PRESS maintains an online presence of its own and uses Swivel as a 'persona', although an exaggerrated, socially mean version of Swivel. Projecting the image of a bitter prison inmate and combat veteran, PRESS makes sure that even in the normally socially accepting internet, Swivel hasn't had many chances to find really effective or efficient social contact.
- Much of Swivel's mental process is digitised. He can't be telepathically manipulated or compelled. He can be contacted, and he can also run the risk of being hacked or being infected with a broadcasted virus.
- Swivel is both extremely quick with his hands, and his eyes. He's quite capable of catching small objects moving fast, or making very precise estimates of objects (such as the net value of a thrown handful of change).
- Swivel should be able to have access to publically available records for an individual. So if you've been visibly observed doing things chances are he knows about you if given reason to research.
- Swivel is a stammery, shy nerd. If he's pausing or stuttering in conversation, it's a clear sign he's not angry or upset - he's uncertain and shy. But he does check what he has to say, and he's got a constant hookup to the internet, to double-check things.
- I'm still trying to come up with a solid voice for PRESS. Sometimes it will speak through emotes beginning with PRESS.EXE\; sometimes it'll overtake his speech centre and speak aloud like that.
Possession. PRESS has taken a young man on a bad path in his life and seemingly made it all anew, giving him a chance to use the power he had, all the knowledge he could want, and precious little beyond that. But PRESS is slowly but surely intent on taking over Swivel's life, an inch-by-inch claiming of his reality.
PRESS has done some really diabolical things - like sending an e-mail to both Swivel and to a girlfriend, to convince them the other had broken up with them. It monitors his heart rate, crushes he develops on girls, interests and obssessions. It deliberately makes tasks frustrating for him to keep him from being overly focused on them. It deliberately damages his personal life operating on the assumption that happiness, genuine happiness, is a detrmient to his behaviour as an agent. Slowly but surely, as the PRESS integrates it further and further with Swivel, parts of his organic body are going to be converted into technological device. Bit by bit, PRESS is going to consume Swivel, and without that human element, it will be a failure, will have self-destructed.
A subsidiary theme of Swivel's is the idea of the duality of online to offline personas. I myself have a fairly obviously bombastic online personality, but my real-life persona is a verbose, babbly nerd who's just enthusiastic about everything and prone to trip over my own words when not in high dudgeon. Anyone being intimidated or scared of me in any way is something that I find fundamentally ridiculous, and yet, it happens.
- Swivel owes some obvious inspiration to Ghost In the Shell's Section 9, and less obviously from the play Faust and Disney's animated rendition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
- Swivel's name was derived from when an engineer pal of mine referred to a swivel as a point of flexible instability.
- Yes, I linked TVTropes on this page. You're welcome.
- Swivel's blood denatures when it leaves his body - a chemical treatment that makes it both toxic to ingest and ruin other DNA samples that come into contact with it.
- Swivel fights primarily with his right hand, but writes with his left.
- ↑ Such as the original subdermal implants for the medical teleportation systems.
- ↑ PRESS notes that he saves a lot, but rarely looks at it twice. Therefore it keeps the most recent week of downloads, then deletes the rest.
- ↑ And of course, for an individual who is having weekly checkups and maintaining a steady diet, there is likely no major health concern that requires the day-to-day potential surgery the PRESS was designed to manage.
- ↑ And at this point, in theory, the only known HOST of a PRESS.
- ↑ "Time in prison really discourages you from being bothered when people see you pee."