Stars Without Number
Should've stayed in tech support
(Transcribing the sheet here)
Level 2 Expert
Max HP: 5
Max System Strain: 12
Base AC: 9
Languages: English, Neo-Nahuatl, Binary (shouted)
Training: Custom package – basically a Hacker
Short: Figure out the crashed ship’s origin (? XP)
Mid: Get her Twitchlock Actuators fixed (PC level x 1000 XP)
Long: Meet a real, pre-Scream AI (PC level x 2000 XP)
Full name: Tonalli de los Rios
- Octlan trade hub technician and low-level career criminal
- Flower Union peon
- Rank-and-file member in the Tech Teotl
Current occupation: space hacker/popsicle-eater
Born and raised on Octlan, Rios started work in the trade hub in her early teens as a poorly paid gopher. After discovering a innate knack for machines and computers, she switched to equally poorly-paid tech support. Unfortunately, fixing the hub’s crumbling tech grew boring, and boredom has generally caused Rios to make dumb choices.
One of the less reputable traders – a guy who sold scavenged junk and owed Rios 25 creds in Holo-Triad losses – knew a friend-of-a-friend who worked for the Left Hummingbird cartel. Among other enterprises, they ran a Moto Union match-fixing scheme that was proving profitable but hard to maintain. They’d figured that instead of bribing bikers, they could just hack the gravbikes, and were looking for eager new technicians.
(The word ‘minion’ wasn’t mentioned, but in retrospect Rios thinks it was implied.)
The Left Hummingbird provided whatever the project required. Rios learned plenty from her fellow low-level techs, and even more from Cortez, the project’s technical lead. Cortez had a longstanding obsession with pre-Scream AI and a mild distaste for her hastily-gathered minions; Rios ignored the latter and went all-in on the former. To this day she considers Cortez her first mentor, whether out of delusion or just really poor standards for the job.
(Soon after Rios joined, the Left Hummingbird offered no-cost cybernetics to all their techs, even those at entry level. In retrospect – again – Rios wishes she’d thought twice about getting free cybernetic surgery from a criminal organization. The Twitchlock Actuators that were supposed to steady her hand were instead left always-on and misfiring. She twitches, drops things, and has a constant crawling sensation in the base of her skull.)
The gravbike project was initially successful. Though far from true AIs, the expert systems in the hacked bikes were subtle enough to escape notice – occasionally causing a ‘malfunction’ in the final minutes of a match, or compensating for small misjudgments by their riders. However, the trouble with hiring a bunch of geeks is, they over-engineer. Experiments grew more ambitious, the gravbikes started misbehaving wildly, and after a major press scandal and large-scale investigation by the Moto Union, the Hummingbird minions inevitably took the fall. Fortunately for Rios, the government wasn’t that interested in jailing low-level tech geeks. She got off on a plea bargain: if you’re going to fuck around with expert systems/pseudo-AIs, do it for and under the watchful eye of the Flower Union.
A few years on, she’d proved she could follow basic instructions without running off to hack for a criminal cartel. As part of a wider ongoing investigation, the Flower Union government sent her to infiltrate a machine cult on Tlapan that believes it’s communing with a god-like AI mind. Before Rios left, her handler made it clear that the Tech Teotl constituted easily the least promising lead so far, and probably amounted to a pack of robed lunatics living in a ruin. Rios couldn’t care less, because if the cult’s right, this might be her best chance yet of meeting a true, pre-Scream mainframe AI.
- Logical and analytical. Makes bad decisions anyway.
- Generally twitchy and clumsy due to her dodgy actuators. Has found that recreational downers help briefly even out the misfires, but also make her no longer give a shit about whatever job she needed to take them for.
- Finds the above helps whenever she remembers the government now owns her, and that one day they’ll probably expect her to die in their stupid war that they’re not even going to win.
- Seriously, how is worshiping an AI the insane option here?
- Doesn’t believe in the the Tech Teotl’s theatrics, but also isn’t immune to them. She’s picked up certain behaviours and superstitions, repeats cult sayings and prayers out of habit, etc.
- Genuinely likes some of her fellow cultists. Thinks you have to be vulnerable, desperate, or stupid to ever want to join a cult at all, hasn’t yet realized that arguably also applies to her.
- Renamed ‘Synack’ since joining the Tech Teotl. Doesn’t like it. Watched a lot of decker holovids as a kid and is positive she could’ve thought up a cooler codename.
- Cultists are encouraged to wear parts of scrap AI armatures, to bring them ‘closer to the machine’. Rios chose a face-plate mask, mostly so nobody can see how bored she looks during the daily, 2-hour, ‘Manos de la Maquina’ ceremony.
- Has done extensive research on AI but all second-hand, sourced from online databanks, old recordings, and Cortez’s lectures/longwinded rants. Half of it’s probably wrong, but Rios has no way to know.
- Tries to stay in touch with a few of the other Hummingbird minions. She’s usually bad at it, and then had to go completely dark after arriving on Tlapan.
- Is technically banned from betting on Moto Union, advising others how to bet on Moto Union, and holding a toolkit within 50 meters of a licensed Moto Union gravbike. Still likes watching the games.