Blackjack

Rogue Jovian Infiltration and Covert Ops Specialist

Description:

Background: Phoenix Project Faction: Jovian Republic
Motivations: +Jovian Republic, +Firewall, -Planetary Consortium, -TAHI

Stats

Moxie: 7 Speed: 3 Initiative: 12
Durability: 45/45 Wounds: 0
Lucidity: 45/40 Traumas: 0
Death Rating: -23 Wound Threshold: 9
Insanity Rating: -40 Trauma Threshold: 8+1
Wound Resistance: 3 Trauma Resistance: 1 (Comfurt)
Hardening: Gate Travel

Aptitudes

Aptitudes Cognition Coordination Intuition Reflexes Savviness Somatics Willpower
Base COG 20 COO 15 INT 15 REF 10 SAV 25 SOM 15 WIL 20
Morph 0 5 0 0 0 0 0
Augment 0 0 0 20 0 15 0
Total COG 20 COO 20 INT 15 REF 30 SAV 25 SOM 30 WIL 20

Active Skills

Skill Aptitude Training Morph Gear Total Speciality
Demolitions COG 20 40 0 20 80
Hdwr: Electronics COG 20 40 10 20 90 Security
Infosec COG 20 6 0 10 36
Interfacing COG 20 0 0 10 30
Medicine: First Aid COG 20 0 0 20 40
Programming COG 20 6 0 10 36
Research COG 20 0 0 10 30
Beam Weapons COO 15 0 5 0 20
Infiltration COO 15 55 5 30 105
Kinetic Weapons COO 15 55 5 20 95 Called Shots
Palming COO 15 45 5 0 65
Seeker Weapons COO 15 25 5 20 65
Spray Weapons COO 15 0 5 0 20
Throwing Weapons COO 15 25 5 0 45
Disguise INT 15 21 30 0 66
Gunnery INT 15 0 0 0 15
Investigation INT 15 0 0 0 15
Navigation INT 15 25 0 0 40
Perception INT 15 45 20 0 80
Psychosurgery INT 15 0 0 0 15
Scrounging INT 15 0 0 0 15
Fray REF 10 50 20 0 80
Free Fall REF 10 40 20 0 70
Pilot: Groundcraft REF 10 30 20 0 60
Deception SAV 25 35 50 0 110
Impersonation SAV 25 35 30 0 90
Intimidation SAV 25 0 0 0 25
Kinesics SAV 25 15 20 30 90
Networking: Circle-A SAV 25 15 10 0 50
Networking: CivicNet SAV 25 35 10 0 70
Networking: Guanxi SAV 25 35 10 0 70
Networking: The Eye SAV 25 35 10 0 70
Persuasion SAV 25 35 0 0 60
Protocol SAV 25 25 0 0 50
Blades SOM 15 0 15 0 30
Climbing SOM 15 21 15 30 81
Clubs SOM 15 0 15 0 30
Freerunning SOM 15 35 15 0 65
Swimming SOM 15 0 15 0 30
Unarmed Combat SOM 15 45 15 0 75

Knowledge Skills

Academics: Military Engineering COG 20 46 0 0 66
Interest: Dark Markets COG 20 46 0 0 66
Interest: Politics COG 20 46 0 0 66
Profession: Covert Ops COG 20 46 0 0 66
Profession: Spycraft COG 20 46 0 0 66
Language: Spanish INT 15 70 0 0 85
Language: English INT 15 35 0 0 50
Language: Mandarin INT 15 35 0 0 50

Muse

Initiative: 4
Lucidity: 20/20 Traumas: 0
Insanity Rating: -20 Trauma Threshold: 4

Espadilla: Jovian AI custom coded by the NIC for Blackjack’s needs. She is considerably more skilled and able than standard muses, but her capacity for insight is diminished. Her personality was originally that of a cool spy, but her mistress’ nihilism has driven the exasperated muse to become increasingly bubbly and cheerful in an effort to counteract it. Espadilla is a nickname for the Ace of Spades, Blackjack usually just calls her Espa or Padi.

Academics: Psychology 90, Profession: Law 90, Interest: Social Networks 60, Profession: Accounting 60, Research 40, Perception 40, Infosec 40, Interfacing 40, Programming 40

Morphs

Splicer: Aptitude Max 25, Durability 30, Wound 6, +5 to COO

Personal Augmentations

Mental Implants

Basic Biomods, Basic Mesh Inserts, Cortical Stack
Emotional Dampers: +30 to Deception and Impersonation, -10 to Persuation, can be turned on and off at will. [Low]
Endocrine Control: +30 to resist all emotional manipulation, +20 to Deception, ignore 1 wound penalty, and can stay awake 48 hours. [High]
Circadian Regulation: Only needs 2 hours of sleep, falls asleep and wakes up almost instantly. Can shift to a cycle of 44 hours awake, 4 hours asleep. [Moderate]
Mnemonic Augmentation: After 2-20 minutes of concentration can recall and reexamine anything the character has experienced. [Low]
Math Boost: Apply a +30 modifier on tests involving math calculations. [Low]
Mental Speed: +2 Mental Complex Actions per turn, +3 to Initiative. [High]
Neurachem: +1 Speed. [High]
Reflex Booster: +1 to Speed, +10 to Reflexes. [Expensive]
Skillware: Navigation 25, Pilot Groundcraft 30, Seekers 25, Throwing 25 [High]

Sensory Implants

Anti-Glare: No glare penalties. [Low]
Enhanced Hearing: Doubles hearing range, +20 to Perception. [Low]
Enhanced Smell: Can identify and track chemicals and people by smell. +20 to Kinesics vs biomorphs within 5 metres. [Low]
Enhanced Vision: Can see from tetrahertz to gamma, 5x magnification, +20 to Perception, +20 to Kinesics vs biomorphs. [Low]
Electrical Sense: Can see electrical wiring and fields within 5 metres, gives the character a +10 modifier to analysing, repairing, and modifying electronics. [Low]
Visual and Hearing Filters: Can tune out EM and sound wavelengths at will. [Low]
Polarizing Vision: Enhances contrast, foils camouflage, helps detect patterns and objects, particularly in reflected and scattered light. Allows better detection of water, transparent, and reflective surfaces, as well as assists navigation with respect to polarized light sources. [Low]
Direction Sense: Provides innate sense of distance and direction travelled, can always retrace steps on any travelled route, and instinctively knows orientation with respect to any given reference frame. [Low]

Physical Implants

Heavy Bioweave: 3/4 (-20 Touch except hands, feet, and face) [Moderate]
Cyberclaws: AP -2, DV 1d10+3+(SOM/10) [Low]
Eelware: Inflicts Shock. [Low]
Chameleon Skin: +20 to Infiltration if moving slowly, +10 if quickly. [Low]
Skin Pocket: +30 to concealing small items. [Trivial]
Skinflex: +30 to Disguise. [Moderate]
Skinlink: Permits wired link with devices merely by touching them. [Moderate]
Adrenal Boost: +10 to Reflexes, ignore 1 wound penalty. [High]
Muscle Augmentation: +5 to Somatics. [High]
Hardened Skeleton: +5 to Durability and Somatics. [High]
High-G Augmentation: +5 to Durability and Somatics, reduce gravity penalties by 1g. [Moderate]
Enhanced Respiration: Can subsist in environments from 0.2 atmospheres to 5 atmospheres, and does not require gradual decompression. [Low]
Improved Temperature Tolerance: Can survive in temperatures between –80 and 60 degrees Celsius without discomfort or ill effects. [Moderate]
Respirocytes: Hold breath for up to 4 hours, + 5 to Durability. [Moderate]
Oxygen Reserve: Three hours of breathable air. Automatically detect poisonous or unbreathable atmosphere. [Low]
Medichines: Speeds healing and ignore effects of 1 wound. Prevents effects of diseases, drugs, and toxins (except nano). Permits intoxication or other effects if overridden, but still prevents permanent harm, and can reduce remaining toxin duration by half if desired. Initiates medical stasis when user takes 5 wounds at once, or 6 wounds within an hour. [Low]
Nanophages: Immunity against nanodrugs and nanotoxins unless specifically commanded to stand down by the user. [Medium]
Toxin Filters: Immunity to all chemical and biological toxins. [Moderate]

Equipment

Weapons

Cyberclaws: AP -2, DV 2d10+6+Shock

Heavy Pistol: Safety, Smartlink, Camo, IR-Laser, Gyro, Scope, Arm Slide, Ext-Mag, F/S Suppressor
-Accushot Reactives: AP -6 DV 2d10+6, Modes: SA BF FA, Ammo: 15/15, +10 Acc, 2 mags

Hi Power Assault Rifle: Safety, Smartlink, Camo, IR-Laser, Gyro, Long-Scope, Ext-Mag, F/S Suppressor
-Homing Hollowpoint: AP -4, DV 3d10+9, Modes: SA BF, Ammo: 48/30, +20 Acc, 2 double-mags

Underbarrel Seeker: Safety, Smartlink, Camo, Gyro, Ext-Mag
-Homing Thermobaric: AP -10, DV 2d10+5, 5 metre radius, Modes: SA, Ammo 4/10, +20 Acc, 2 mags

Seeker Armband: Safety, Smartlink, Gyro, Ext-Mag
-Homing Firestorm: AP 0, DV 2d10+5, 5m radius, 3 turns, Modes: SS, Ammo 6/6, +20 Acc

Plasma Sticky Grenade (AP –6, 3d10+10) x2
Firestorm Sticky Grenade (AP 0, 3d10+5, 10m radius) x2
EMP Grenade (Special, 2d10+5 vs Swarms, 50m radius) x2

Explosives
HEAP Sticky Charge (AP -8, 3d10+12) x4
Plastique Charge (2d10+5, Special) x6
Liquid Thermite Tubes (3d10+5 for three turns) x4

Armour

Heavy Bioweave 3/4
Smart Skin 3/2 (Chameleon Coating)
Second Skin 3/3 (Immunogenic System, Fireproofing 2/0, Shock Proof, Thermal Dampening)
Crasher Suit w/ Helmet 23/18 (Chameleon Coating, Reactive Coating 5/5, Fireproofing 2/0, Lotus Coating, Refractive Glazing 3/0, Self-Healing)

Total: 32/27 (5 reactives) + 10 vs Fire

Utility

Helmet: Ecto, Specs (+10 Visual, 5x mag, T-ray), Radio Booster (range 25 km urban, 250 km rural), Headlamp.
Blackjack’s Ecto: +10 to mesh and computer actions. Looks like a cigar case with a screen inside the lid.
Laser/Microwave Link: Tight-beam LOS communications, 50km atmosphere, 500km space. Microwaves can penetrate light non-metallic visual obstructions.
Lens Spotter: Maps out all scope and camera lenses in the area, noting their position and likely area of coverage.
Viewers: x50 visual and aural magnification, +30 to Perception tests, non-cumulative.
Wrist-Mounted Tools: +20 modifier to skills involving repairing or modifying mechanical and electrical devices, opening locks, disarming alarm systems, or performing first aid.
COT: Cut out lock or bore small hole ((Dur + Arm) ÷ 10) seconds, x60 for 1-metre hole. Can easily open mechanical and electronic locks in 1 action turn. May trigger alarm or be logged for electronic lock.
Personal Interaction Sensor: +20 to Kinesics
Twin Spindle&Climber: Produces 20 m/s of 0.2 mm diamtre line rated for 250 kg, and retracts at 5 m/s. Can be used to safely jump off vertical surfaces by using the line to slow the descent to 10 m/s or less. Climber fires spindle cable up to 50 meters and attaches to any sufficiently strong surface. Modified with smartlink.
Guardian Nanoswarm Hive: Watches for and defends against unauthorized swarms, inflicting on them 1d10/2 DV per turn.
Traction Pads: +30 to Climbing
Explosives Satchel: Armoured camo-coated bag for carrying explosives (13/13).

Software

Firewall +10: Protects device from hostile intrusion.
Encryption: Encrypts messages using public keys, and decrypts with secret keys.
Image Recognition: Run image pattern-matching search among available archives.
Tactical Network: Squad can share tactical data in real time.
Kinesics Software: +10 to Kinesics tests.
Skillsofts: Navigation, Pilot Groundcraft, Seeker Weapons, Throwing Weapons

Blueprints

Kinetics: Accushot, Homing, Hollowpoint, Reactive
Explosives: Homing, Proximity, HEAP, Plasmaburst, Splash, Thermobaric, Sticky Grenade Coating
Demolitions: Liquid Thermite, Plastique

Services

Anonymous Accounts, Backup Insurance, False ID
Credits: 0 Cryptocred: 0

Personal Area Network

External Communications → Helmet Ecto → Personal Ecto ↓
Implants, Weapons, & Equipment → Mesh Inserts (Muse) ←

Security: Anonymization, Stealthed Signals, Active Monitoring, +10 Firewall, Wired Link

Reputation

Blackjack: i-rep 118
Maria Negra: g-rep 80
Major Tanaka: c-rep 80
Alina de la Vega: @-rep 60, c-rep 50
Sandra Irvine: 7 x-rep, 5 @-rep

Ego Traits

Postive

Common Sense: Once per game session, may ask the gamemaster what what course of action they should take, and the gamemaster should give solid advice based on what the character knows. Alternatively, if the character is about to make a disastrous decision, the gamemaster can use the character’s free hint and warn the player they are making a mistake.

Situational Awareness: Does not suffer the Distracted modifier on Perception Tests to notice things even when their attention is focused elsewhere or when making Quick Perception Tests during combat.

Information Control: Apply a -10 modifier to any Research Tests to gather information on the character or track them online, and any Networking Tests to ascertain the character’s networking interactions.

Social Butterfly: Apply a +10 modifier to Networking Tests.

Patron: Pallas, a Firewall Proxy with considerable influence and resources at her disposal. Dawn introduced Blackjack to her soon after they started sharing information, and Pallas quickly took a special interest in her. Since then she has regularly given Blackjack assistance, though not always in the form the Sentinel would prefer. Sometimes Pallas provides her with top of the line morphs, implants, equipment, and services; sometimes she arranges favorable confluences of events or conveniently timed accidents; sometimes all she has to offer is infuriatingly cryptic advice that nevertheless proves incredibly useful.

Pallas is a strange and erratic woman, with unpredictable eccentricities, a taste for cruel snark and biting sarcasm, and a tendency to act in bizarre ways that only make sense after the fact. Pallas rarely seems to be far away when Blackjack contacts her, but when she isn’t around her “sister” Athena acts in her stead. Though friendlier and more businesslike, Athena has her own quirks. Sometimes she says things or reacts in ways that give the impression she is not all there, as if she was viewing the world at a right angle to reality. Her words can be as insightful, but sometimes they are just strange.

Negative

Edited Memories: As part of the Phoenix project, Blackjack’s recollection of her prior life has been removed. All she has are vague and disjointed ghosts of memories, lacking meaning and context, enough to maintain the foundation of her skills and experience, but not enough to have a meaningful past. The only definites are that she natively speaks with an Argentinian accent, is fluent in English, and has the skillset of a spy.

Modified Behaviour (2): Blackjack is psychologically encouraged to act in the interests of the Jovian Republic, and must succeed at a WILx3 test to avoid doing so. At present she believes that Firewall’s mission advances said interests, and that TAHI has become a rogue agency that actively harms the Republic.

Black Mark (2): As a burned Jovian operative, Luis Guillermo Falcón suffers -20 to networking and social interactions with Jovians who know who he is. In most cases this represents the social stigma of being declared unreliable and stipped of rank and citizenship by the Republic. In the case of Blackjack’s remaining SCI friends and allies, it represents the risks that they face in aiding her.

On the Run: TAHI considers Blackjack a rogue asset and a traitor; should they ever track her down they will no doubt attempt to capture or eliminate her. However, they will not risk exposing themselves or their key assets in doing so, which conveniently makes it unlikely they would blow the Major Tanaka cover. Nevertheless, TAHI remains a dangerous and resourceful enemy that should not be taken lightly.

Enemy Errant Fork: Blackjack was unsuccessful in deleting all her TAHI backups. One remained to be instantiated and subjected to heavy handed corrective psychosurgery. The process has left Jackal quite mad, but she hides it well. She’s obsessive about tracking down her wayward fork; consumed by a burning desire to be with her other self and punish her for betraying them both. As an Alpha-fork Jackal is uniquely suited to anticipating Blackjack’s actions. This cuts both ways, but whereas Jackal’s psychoses are a minor hindrance to her predicting Blackjack, they are major hindrance to Blackjack in predicting her.

Character Generation

CP
150 – Aptitudes
491 – Active Skills
300 – Knowledge
30 – Moxie
29 – Rep

Rez
25 – Traits
25 – Skills

Character Advancement

Rez: 90/107
9 – Networking : The Eye
5 – Hardware Speciality
5 – Kinetics Speciality
10 – Fray
10 – Electronics
1 – i rep
20 – Infiltration
30 – Moxie

Bio:

Background – Phoenix Project

Phoenix was an effort by one of TAHI’s predecessor organizations to build a cadre of utterly loyal agents that would serve and protect the Jovian Republic from the shadows. You are one of them, chosen from amongst the infogees from Earth for your particular set of traits and skills. Your ego was pruned of everything deemed unnecessary, and re-instantiated with at best vague, disjointed and contextless memories. Your mind conditioned to put the interests of the Jovia above all else. The project gave you life, a body, a name, a purpose, and the best training the Republic had to offer. Whether you accept or reject it, it’s is the closest thing you have to an upbringing.
Advantages: 10 to Profession: Covert Ops or Spycraft, 10 to Deception, 10 to an active skill of your choice, 2 Moxie
Disadvantages: Edited Memories trait, Modified Behaviour (2) trait

Faction – Jovian Republic

Your faction is noted for its authoritarian regime, bioconservative ideologies, and militaristic tendencies. Where you come from, technology is not to be trusted and humans need to be protected from themselves. To ensure its survival, humanity must be able to defend itself and unfettered growth must be checked.
Advantages: 10 to two weapon skills of your choice, 10 to Fray, 20 to Networking: Hypercorps skill
Disadvantages: Must start with a Flat or Splicer morph, may not start with any nanoware or advanced nanotech

Identities

Blackjack

A code name originally assigned by the Phoenix project and kept by TAHI as a designation. It’s the closest thing she has to a real name, but it does not exist outside the secretive world that spawned it. Without covers and false identities, Blackjack is nothing and no one, a non-entity that belongs in the shadows. She continues to use it as her Firewall callsign thanks to the Proxies Athena, Pallas, and Castle colluding to keep her true origins and connection to TAHI a secret. Blackjack is a veteran Sentinel, having worked with and for Firewall for many years.

Maria Negra

“Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me.”

Black Mary, the Queen of Spades, a name spoken in whispers within the underworld. She is freelance agent who operates like an old time mafiosi, often doing jobs not for pay, but for favours owed, and expects the same in return. Maria Negra has thus established a complex web of obligation across the Guanxi network that she can call and be called upon. Most of her contacts are with the Night Cartel, Pax Familae, and ID Crew, but they extend throughout the underworld. Notably, she will not work with the Nine Lives.

Blackjack would never have chosen this alias for herself, it’s too obvious, but much to her chagrin she fell into it anyway. It’s thanks to a story that made rounds, about one of the greatest capers in post-Fall history, one involving deception, seduction, devious murder, and the eponymous calling card. She has carefully hidden her connection to Maria Negra from anyone, but Pallas may have guessed regardless.

Major Elena Atsuko Tanaka Sakamoto

Major Tanaka is a former Peruvian special forces officer who fought with distinction during the Fall. Her unit was completely annihilated and she sustained heavy injuries, clouding the details of Elena’s medevac into orbit. She fell in with a group of South American refugees bound for the Jovian Republic, and took an offer from the newly formed Jovian Space Fleet Intelligence soon after arrival. It’s a pretty typical story for military personnel who survived the Fall; the problem is that the Major does not exist.

Blackjack and Firewall still have friends within the JSFI. Friends in high places, friends who could create Elena Tanaka out of whole cloth, including service, civil, and medical records, living arrangements, personal history, etc. The deception is robust enough to stand up to anything short of a full audit, aided by its authors making themselves Tanaka’s supervisors then classifying her assignment and most of her files into oblivion. The Major’s mission code name is Chroma.

Alina de la Vega

An Extropian freelancer who mostly deals with autonomists and hypercorps. She has a solid but not stellar reputation and is known to be a reliable operator. Her unwillingness to accept long term contracts and tendency to disappear for long stretches in between jobs prevents her reputation ratings from climbing above middling. Nevertheless when she is around she rarely really lacks for job offers, and Blackjack finds her a useful cover to use in autonomists habitats, especially in the Outer System.

Sandra Irvine

An identity created by Blackjack on arrival to the exoplanet Portal to take credit for her gatecrashing adventures. Less due to unwillingness to allow her team to know any of her alternate identities, though that was a factor, as worry that Ozma would link the discoverers of Akkad with the Firewall team they are chasing. Whether this identity will have future use, given the rest of the team declined to fork themselves to explore the exoplanetary alien gate facility, still remains to be seen.

Lt. Colonel Luis Guillermo Falcón Torrealba

Blackjack’s primary cover as a TAHI agent. He is a former intelligence officer in the Chilean Space Force who was transferred to the SCI on the formation of the Jovian Republic. Or at least he would have if he’d survived the Fall. All record of his death was suppressed, and Blackjack given his identity. Blackjack’s used it extensively, causing the Lt. Colonel to become highly decorated, until her continued association with Firewall lead TAHI to strongarm the SCI into issuing a burn notice for Luis Guillermo Falcón. Pallas keeps his identity documents and heavily augmented morph on ice somewhere, just in case.

Backstory

[Incoming Message Received, 26 Attachments.]
[Dated: 2nd November, AF 8. Source: Unknown]
[Quantum Analysis: No Interception Detected]
[Decryption Complete]

\\ Blackjack, as requested here’s Castle’s original report as sent to me. //

Alright, there’s been a lot of questions, speculation, and accusations going around about the events in Jupiter these last couple of weeks and my role in them. I know you all want a damn good explanation, so here it is. I won’t mince words, it was an expensive clusterfuck, but I expect you will find that the circumstances left me with little choice. Fortunately, there some potential medium and long term gains that could be salvaged from this affair. We’re all very busy people so I’ll try to be brief, but there’s a lot to digest here. I’ve attached additional documentation, including full debriefing transcripts, in-depth after action reports, plus my own commentaries and speculation, but the gist of it is below.

First some background, most of you remember the Tarshish Incident in the Jupiter Trojans. To recap: The Tarshish hab had a particularly nasty Exurgent outbreak. A Sentinel squad went in to investigate, determined they could not contain the situation, called in an Erasure squad, followed by an Erasure platoon, followed by a madcap scramble to stay alive long enough to ensure containment. They barely managed to keep anything from leaving the hab for the two days it took a Jovian missile to vaporize the whole place. Yeah, that bad.

The only survivors were one Sentinel of the original team, three from the Erasure unit, and Lieutenant Colonel Luis Guillermo Falcón Torrealba, the Security Council Intelligence officer who called in the missile strike. He was actually first on the scene, and had thrown in with the Sentinels once things started to spiral out of control. They deliberately lead the Erasure team to believe that Colonel Falcón was with Firewall, lest they erase him too.

This breach in operational security was not discovered until much later, by which point events were already in motion. It is unclear how much the SCI knew of Firewall before Colonel Falcón’s debriefing after Tarshish, but from at least that juncture their higher echelons have had a fair grasp of the basics of our mission and capabilities, if not our extent and organization.

That could have been the end of it, but several months later Dawn, the sole surviving Sentinel of the Incident, was operating in Jovian space with her team when they fell in deep trouble. Running out of options, she made a desperate and successful bid to contact Colonel Falcón and persuade him to bail them out. It would make a nice story to say that she sold him on Firewall’s mission and ideals, but it’s more like she sold him a load of classified information including all the particulars of her team’s ongoing mission.

They stayed in contact after, sharing information in an uneasy alliance of sorts, the full extent of which they neglected to share with their superiors and fellow operatives, even as they each expanded their network of contacts in the other’s faction. It was not until the mess at Ecologene’s Tenodera labs that Colonel Falcón fully briefed the SCI, mostly on account of Ozma’s barging in, levelling the whole place to the ground, and then razing the ruins. The Lt. Colonel’s report outlined his findings that Firewall is an entity distinct from Project Ozma, operating with a decentralized structure, and beholden to no factional interests save its own. He also observed that our primarily focus of dealing with x-threats is aligned with the Republic’s own interests.

Right about here is where things started to get complicated, but before I continue we need to go over more background. This goes way back to waning days of The Fall and the founding of the Jovian Republic. In the mess of confusion, plotting, and shifting allegiances that gave birth to the Republic there was a shortage of reliable, trustworthy operatives. Enter the Phoenix project: An effort by the National Information Center – a Chilean think tank – to create a cadre of highly skilled and thoroughly loyal agents who could be entrusted with the blackest of black ops.

Candidates with suitable traits were carefully chosen from among the infogees arriving to Jupiter. NIC psychosurgeons then stripped the selected egos of all memories not relevant to their skills, and carefully pruned the remainder of context and identifying features that would give them any link to their past. The successful results were bereft of everything that defines a person save for their particular skillset and the basic framework of a personality, essentially gamma forks with all the functional capacity of an alpha. I can only imagine the unsuccessful results were as broken and insane as gammas tend to be.

The pruned egos were immediately recruited by the NIC, which they accepted for lack of better options. They were instantiated into heavily augmented, top of the line splicers, then given an intense regimen of accelerated simulspace training to develop full personalities and the knowledge necessary to function in society. The agents had no past, no ties, no beliefs or ideologies, not even knowledge of their own likes and dislikes. They had nothing at all to give them purpose, direction, or even a name. The NIC got its perfectly loyal operatives by creating people bereft of anything to hold on to save Phoeneix and the Jovian Republic.

The NIC would soon after merge into the Terrestrial Ancestral Heritage Institute, and the Phoenix agents formed the cadre upon which TAHI’s operational arm is built. We can surmise that entire project was a considerable resource outlay requiring the coordination of agencies and assets beyond the NIC, and indeed it may have been the primary catalyst driving its consolidation with other groups into TAHI. To the best of our knowledge the effort has not been repeated, but the expenditure clearly paid considerable dividends for the Security Council over the subsequent years.

Blackjack is one of the many TAHI agents who are products of Phoenix, and her primary cover identity is one Lieutenant Colonel Luis Guillermo Falcón Torrealba. From the start of the liaison between Colonel Falcón and Sentinel Dawn, to the incident at the Tenodera labs, the both of them had kept the SCI and Firewall from knowing the depth and extent of the cooperation, in particular their ongoing exchange of sensitive information. Their superiors had thus adopted a stance of careful observation. Blackjack had not kept anything from TAHI, but they were also willing to allow the liaison to continue in the hopes of learning more about Firewall. After all, they were not being exposed themselves.

TAHI is a government conspiracy, it’s in their nature to see their like behind every corner, just like its ours to see the potential for ad-hoc conspiracies in every shadow. They’ve spent years looking for who is pulling our strings. Like the SCI they at first thought we were related to Project Ozma, but after they realized that we don’t answer to anyone in the Consortium, they’ve likely tried to link us to every faction from Sol to Eris. It was Blackjack’s interactions with us that finally convinced TAHI that we don’t answer to any organization anywhere in the system, but they are still certain someone or something is behind Firewall, and they’re not going to give up until they find it.

The liaison would have provided an excellent opportunity for TAHI to get a look into Firewall from the inside, but like I said, things got complicated. Blackjack started to believe in Firewall and its goals, that against all the enemies arrayed against Jovia, they needed an ally in the shadows to deal with the worst. To TAHI this was ideological contamination, but like any covert agency it was prepared to deal with it, even allow it if it furthered its goals. What it was not prepared to deal with was Blackjack using the Lt. Colonel’s cover to spread those beliefs within sympathetic parts of the SCI. That they regarded it as deliberate intrusion and subversion by a foreign agency, and they shut it down with prejudice.

Now TAHI does not and cannot have control over the SCI. What they do have is many agents within Intelligence, as well as a number of former spooks among its members. Though they must keep a light touch, there are many strings they can pull quite effectively. In this case, however, TAHI yanked and yanked hard. Suspected Firewall sympathizers were removed, reassigned, reprimanded, or demoted, with Colonel Falcón transferred to another department. Blackjack was heavily reprimanded and given duties that would use other covers. They also attempted to capture Sentinel Dawn and her associates, but she was tipped off and escaped.

Nevertheless, Blackjack remained convinced that cooperation with Firewall was in the interest of the Jovian Republic, and so the very unwavering loyalty her handlers had instilled would lead her to betray them. TAHI agents are given considerable leeway and resources provided they keep their superiors fully informed, and while these had been curtailed, Blackjack still had enough to act independently. After some time she reestablished a liaison with Firewall, using some of the contacts she’d developed with Dawn’s help, and still under the guise of Colonel Falcón through his cover identities.

At this point I functionally became Colonel Falcón’s handler, though I did not make him a Sentinel and was circumspect about sharing information on Firewall operations. However, he was slowly gaining my trust and that of other Firewall operatives. We started building a network that would covertly supplement the Jovian’s own efforts against x-threats, and in conjunction with that effort, the Lt. Colonel also got to work in rebuilding a small pro-Firewall band within the SCI. Things were going well until TAHI crashed the party once again.

We are not certain when they found out, or how, but most likely through forking and interrogating Blackjack’s back-ups. Two weeks ago they made their move. Blackjack suddenly found all assets frozen, all clearances revoked, all official contacts severed, and all covers blown. Lieutenant Colonel Luis Guillermo Falcón Torrealba was publicly disavowed by the SCI, declared an unreliable asset, and stripped of his citizenship. They’d burned him, all his alternate identities, and all of Blackjack’s. Worse, Blackjack does not officially exist, without any covers she’s a non-entity.

Simultaneous with the burn notice, TAHI moved to capture my agents, and began to purge all trace of Firewall sympathizers from the SCI. The effort was swift, brutal, and heavy handed, calling in on the resources of multiple parts of the Jovian security apparatus. However, they made no direct moves on Blackjack herself. She speculates that they still considered her an asset too valuable to toss away, and were punishing her for insubordination. TAHI’s operation would have no doubt completely succeeded, except that this time when they yanked hard on the SCI’s strings, someone yanked back.

We don’t know who “Patriot” is, but they must be fairly high up the chain, possess sources within TAHI, and have enough authority to exercise a good amount of discretionary power without question. When TAHI was about to launch the purge, Patriot gave Blackjack just enough warning for her to delete all her back-ups, tip off her allies, and set alternate lines of communication. By the time the dragnet hit, most of my agents had gone to ground, and I was starting to mobilize resources to run damage control and extract our personnel were possible. At the same time the SCI gridlocked against itself, with parts attempting to carry out the purge, and other parts stonewalling and accusing them of baseless paranoia.

The Jovians were thrown off guard, but it was still a close run thing. My people had already been under surveillance, and it seemed like damn near the entire internal security apparatus mobilized against them. It was a herculean labour to get any of them out, and while I spared no effort in the task, I still lost too many. Blackjack mostly managed to take care of herself, she’s a slippery one, and I imagine Patriot was also running whatever interference they could without compromising themselves.

It took over a week to complete extraction operations, and then several days to for initial debriefings and preliminary damage assessment. My network was completely dismantled with considerable losses in invested time, resources, and personnel. Further assets had to be called in to conduct damage control and personnel extraction. We also lost our contacts within the SCI, and at present cannot ascertain how much damage was done to factions within the agency sympathetic with our goals.

However, it is not a total loss. TAHI’s influence within the SCI has been curtailed, and there appears to be a powerful individual or group within Jovian Intelligence willing to cooperate with our efforts. There may be an opportunity to establish a real working relationship on an unofficial basis with parts of the SCI in the near future. Patriot has to be powerful and independent to obstruct TAHI, and so there is reason to be optimistic that further liaisons will not be limited to a single point like it was with Colonel Falcón.

It was during the debriefing that Blackjack told me everything about herself that I have discussed here: her real name, project Phoenix, TAHI. I’m glad she did so, but something bothers me about it. I do not doubt that she is telling the truth, what I doubt why she would do so. She’s given needed context to recent events, but it’s a liability to her, as she gains little from telling me or Firewall. I’m not sure Blackjack knows herself why she talked, but she seemed relieved to do so.

I was ready to recommend her induction as a full Sentinel immediately, but now I find myself hesitating. I strongly believe that she will be a solid addition to Firewall. She is an excellent field agent who has worked with us for years now and more than proven herself in that capacity. Still, perhaps a thorough psychological evaluation and observation would not go amiss beforehand. I will take your input on this matter.

\\ His terminology’s all nice and respectful just like you like, with not a single instance of your Junta being called what it is. Castle’s a real sweetie, isn’t he?

The edited version to be actually submitted to the other Proxies has been changed as follows:
-All references to the Phoenix project removed.
-All references to your TAHI links removed.
-All references to the name Blackjack removed.
-Text added and edited to fill gaps in narrative and keep events self-consistent. You are Lt. Colonel Falcón throughout. Intel on TAHI’s involvement in events is credited to the SCI grapevine and Patriot.
-Your debriefing transcript and Castle’s commentaries edited in line with all the above.
-Last two paragraphs of main body removed and replaced with glowing review of your performance.
-Final line now reads, “Recommend that Luis Guillermo Falcón be immediately inducted into Firewall as a full Sentinel. New code name: Blackjack.”

Castle is not happy with it, but I persuaded him it’s for the best. This will spare you, and more importantly me, quite a few inconveniences. The next time you feel overwhelmed by the pathos of your dark and troubling history, please remember your Muse is a trained psychologist. I am not, but perhaps I could pretend to give a damn. Really, you should feel lucky I’m letting you keep your name.

Congratulations on your promotion to Sentinel, by the way, welcome to Firewall. Oh, and tell Dawn she’s in deep shit and should lay low for a while.

—Pallas //

Blackjack

Eclipse Phase: Breaking Light Lirio