Sunday, December 8, 2013

342: Smile, Akira

ENTRY 342: Smile, Akira

Industry is, for the most part, automated. Intellectual labor is reduced by the omnipresence of computing power, and in no short supply thanks the ease of resleeving - a single intelligent, skilled ego can theoretically be forked to fill as many positions as necessary, and even where this is not feasible skillwires can make up a large part of the difference in terms of filling the need for skilled and semi-skilled labor. The bulk of the transhuman workforce is thus relegated to non-autonomous, non-skilled service - emotional labor. These are the transhumans who are the face of the hypercorps, not just the big media personalities but all the minor actors, service reps, wait staff, call staff, and others that essentially exist to interact between the hypercorp and the transhuman customer, and it is their actions and appearance that influence the customer and give them their impression of the hypercorp as a whole. Customer service metrics clearly show the correlation between happy, helpful, empathetic service employees and customer evaluations; follow-up deep studies of buying habits and spyware track-backs of reviews confirm the causative relationship. So when the customer comes calling, the hypercorp representative will always meet them with a smile.

Akira once did a calculation, and determined that he had spent six years of his life smiling. Three days later the habitat authorities found the mutilated body of a fifteen-year-old splicer; the ego in the cortical stack was heavily deranged and could only repeat the word "Smile" - her parents opted to restore their daughter from a four-day-old backup. Akira, a trusted low-level hypercorp employee, was never even questioned or implicated in the crime. Every day, all day, he would sit and flash customers his smile, sometimes for sixteen hours on a shift. Even that was sometimes not enough; his manager came to talk to him one day and said that kinesics programs showed his smile didn't look real enough, that secondary behavioral characteristics suggested tiredness and insincerity. Fortunately, the corporation had a program - a mild prescription he could take while he was at work, and a minor cosmetic augmentation to help his face shape and hold his smile more comfortably. It was important, Akira's manager emphasized, that he do his best to be the face of the company.

That was when Akira started thinking about his next victim.


Morph: Splicer
Skills: Academics: Art (Manga) 25, Academics: Psychology (Sociopaths) 20, Art: Drawing 20, Blades 35, Deception (Smile) 70, Free Fall (Microgravity) 20, Interests: Comix & Cartoons 30, Interests: Serial Killers 40, Interfacing 23, Language: Native Japanese 85, Language: English 80, Language: Korean 75, Networking: Autonomists 5, Networking: Hypercorps 5, Profession: Customer Service 50, Protocol: 45
Implants: Access Jacks, Basic Biomods, Basic Mesh Inserts, Cortical Stack, Cosmetic Augmentation (Smile augmentation), Emotional Dampers
Traits: Addiction (Antidepressants, Major), Mental Derangement (Smile Mask Syndrome)

Using Akira

Akira spends the bulk of his waking life pretending to be happy. This depresses the ever-living shit out of him. Every day, for hours on end, talking to people that don't know or like him with a smile plastered on his face - his face altered to let it assume and hold that smile longer, going through the motions of having one emotion while he feels dead inside. But he doesn't have the rep or the skills to do much else, and his ever-rotating series of bosses continue to put pressure on him to do his best, micromanaging him closer and closer to a smiling nervous breakdown. The player characters might even start feeling bad for him until they find out his hobby is killing people. As a minor hypercorporate wageslave, Akira might be a useful contact - which makes it all the more interesting when, after being mildly helpful in several sessions without asking anything in return, Akira suddenly calls in a favor and asks for the PCs to dispose of something for him - like a necklace of teeth. As a straight-out antagonist, the player characters might be hired to track down the sadistic serial kidnapper that always horribly mutilates his victims, few of whom can do more than describe his omnipresent smile.

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