ENTRY 235: Maintenance Rats
Resources are limited. Imagination is not. Faced with the greatest challenge of its existence, transhumanity has had to do the best it can with the technology and scraps of old Earth—and put them to work. Maintenance rats are a breed of partial uplift, genefixed for cleanliness, sociability, intelligence, and certain specific fixed behaviors. They have as much in common with the old earth rat as a Chihuahua has with a timber wolf.
In most habitats that have them, maintenance rats perform essential cleaning services, scurrying through pipes and crawlspaces too small for most transhumans, picking up trash and debris and carrying it away to a designated refuse pile in a maintenance area marked by certain scent markers. They control their own population, are fastidious about their appearance, and only deposit their droppings in designated areas. Most habitats find they make great personal pets, being extremely friendly and easy to train.
These modifications have come at the expense of a degree of self-sufficiency. Maintenance rats need their designated collection and “deposit” points, and while they are still biologically capable of eating almost anything their tastes have been tweaked so that they will only devour especially scent-marked food pellets. While they are an important tool in transhumanity’s survival, maintenance rats are no longer able to survive on their own in the wild—and if left unattended or neglected, entire populations may starve or go mad.
- A vengeful maintenance worker disposed of a bully by spraying them with the maintenance rat food marker—hundreds of furry bodies covered the victim within minutes, leaving only a gory skeleton with a few winking, indigestible electronics, which were soon picked up by bloodstained paws and taken to the collection point. Now the station administration debates whether or not to exterminate the entire population as a result of the media uproar of the attack. Rat-lovers throughout the station have put up a bounty for anyone that can find proof that the maintenance rats were compelled instead of acting freely.
- Genehackers have developed a new breed of “splicer rats” that compete with maintenance rats for space and food, but which can use the Mesh to coordinate their activities thanks to basic mesh implants, and the maintenance rats are being hard-pressed by the newcomers. Unfortunately, the splicer rats have been infected with an exsurgent virus. Somewhere in the bowels of the habitat a seven-headed splicer rat king begins directing the others—first to eliminate the maintenance rats, and then the transhumans! The sudden rapid decline of maintenance rat populations triggers a warning, and the habitat hires to PCs to figure out what’s going on with the rats.
- Hypercorp researcher and chief maintenance rat breeder Mamoud Rasiq has only one vice: his pet maintenance rat Blinky, who thanks to his own cortical stack is currently on his sixth incarnation. Mamoud believes that Blinky is on the verge of becoming a true uplift—he just needs one little upgrade. Mamoud’s employer has the tech, but he’ll get in big trouble if he accesses it…but if the PCs happen to steal it for him, all’s well. In exchange, Mamoud can give them some Best of Breed™ top-quality pet maintenance rats, which are worth quite a bit on the pet market.