Sunday, May 19, 2013

139: I Am Thief

ENTRY 139: I Am Thief

Incarceration was too expensive for such a petty crime, his morph not worth the hassle to lease, at least that’s how he likes to explain it. Instead they took his name and his rep. “You do not have a psychological compulsion to steal,” the court-ordered psychosurgeon said, before the hypnotics kicked in. “So you should respond well to negative reinforcement and removal from enabler-types.” When he woke up, all he could remember was a fading dream of his mother calling him by something that sounded wrong. Then he stared up at the doctor and said “I Am Thief.”

The details of the crime vary on the telling. Ten nanograms of antimatter from an orbital factory on Mercury. The tactile scans for a caste of pleasure pods with five specialized sex organs, custom-ordered by some big-shot in the Jovian junta. A gate code for an asteroid a kilometer in diameter with an 80% concentration of platinum group metals. A kiss from neotenic who lied about her age. The ending is the same. Whatever his real name is has been edited out. He knows his name isn’t “Thief,” but it’s all he can remember his mother or friends or anyone call him. When he meets someone, he blurts out “I Am Thief!” like a verbal tic. Enforced behavior. Good to scare off anyone trying to get him back into the life, bad on a first date. Once the first impressions wear off, people are more understanding, if never quite at their ease—would you trust a thief?

The remaining damage is subtler and more exquisite a torture—designed to discourage to undo the conditioning or memory edits. I Am Thief cannot recognize himself in a mirror; there is a disconnect between his identification of self and the reality. He hired someone to track down his original name once, paid all the credits he’d saved up and then pawed through the documents in frustration, unable to relate to any of it. His real name slipped out of his head as soon as he’d heard it, his pictures looked like strangers to him, the history a strange parallel life to his own. He kept the image of his mother, and archived the rest. There was probably some operation to undo the damage, the conditioning. It would cost a lot—more than an honest job would get him. So whoever he was, whatever he was called—right now, he is I Am Thief.


Morph: Worker Pod
Skills: Academics: Engineering 65, Art: Photomanipulation 65, Climbing 40, Deception 65, Demolitions 40, Free Fall 55, Hardware: Electronics 55, Infosec 55, Interests: Industrial Music 50, Interests: Mah-Jongg 66, Interests: Poker 66, Interfacing 55, Investigation 55, Language: Native Spanish 86, Language: English 66, Language: Mandarin 55, Language: Portuguese 50, Networking: Autonomists 50, Networking: Criminals 55, Perception 66, Profession (Thief) 66, Research 60, Scrounging 55, Spray Weapons 33
Implants: Basic Biomods, Basic Mesh Inserts, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Mnemonic Augmentation, Puppet Sock
Traits: Edited Memories, Innocuous, Modified Behavior (Enforced: introduce himself as “I Am Thief”), Neural Damage (cannot recognize representations of himself as himself)

Using I Am Thief

When using this character, it’s important to get first impressions down: he will always clearly (and often loudly) introduce himself as I Am Thief. It’s just how he’s wired. Thief has worked out a lot of little habits to minimize the impact this has on his life—including walking with his eyes closed through crowded thoroughfares, guided solely by his Muse, just so that he can avoid introducing himself to everyone he sees. As a plot hook or an employer, I Am Thief is memorable and skilled without being a gamebreaker—his enforced behavior is a gamebreaker for most, so he’s willing to reach out to the player characters for help with his “personal problem” or to plan a job to get the creds to deal with it. As a target or enemy, I Am Thief has the same motivations, but players might get a peek at what he did that caused someone to rewrite his brain in that fashion—maybe he stole something from the Factors, or crossed somebody he really shouldn’t have. Either way, if somebody else sics the player characters on him he probably still has the loot…or knows where it is.

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