Sunday, March 1, 2015

60. The War

Ripley: How many drops for you is this, lieutenant?
Gorman: Thirty-eight. Simulated.
Vasquez: How many combat drops?
Gorman: Uh, two. Including this one.

When a Direct Action employee refers to "the war", they aren't referring to any actual conflict. The war is one of the company's most expensive and long-running projects, and can also be given credit for Direct Action dominance in the Planetary Consortium. The war is one of the systems largest and most realistic simulspaces, running on a supercomputer better protected than their highest executives. Running constantly at 3x real speed, multiple wars, have been run, with most lasting between one and two years real time (three to six in the simulation).

The war provides dividends for Direct Action in numerous ways. They use the war as training for their personnel, forging veterans in peacetime. The war is used as a testing ground both for prototypes of equipment and new ideas about tactics and doctrine. It is a rich ground of experience for the growth of military AIs, neural-networks and any systems using genetic-algorithms. Careful planning allows the war to be predictive, giving analysts a testing ground for likely future scenarios. Sometimes outsiders are invited to participate, giving Direct Action insight into the methods of units from across the system.

The current war is a counter-insurgency action taking place on a fictional planet named Ragnarok. The surface is mixture of iron-rich regolith and thick sheets of ice, with useful similarities to both Mars and Titan, as well as icy worlds like Ceres and Europa. There are three large, domed cities as well as numerous smaller installations and homesteads. At present, there is a rough stalemate. Direct Action projects force from its orbiting carrier, with green zones in all three cities. The insurgent forces, played by special forces teams and specialized AIs, strike from and vanish into the empty rural landscapes.

The military forces of the war are Direct Action personnel and AIs, but there are civilians as well. Direct Action indentures huge numbers of infugees to live as civilians in the simulation. The indenture contracts are great on paper, as the acceleration of the simulation makes for short contracts in real time. Many infugees, however, having already been traumatized by the Fall, are pushed to and past their limits by life in a war-zone.

Plot Hook: An up-and-coming weapon systems firm has a prototype that will be deployed in the war for testing, and they want to ensure good results. They intend to sneak the PCs into the war using their security clearance, where the PCs can support the prototypes as best they can.

Plot Hook: Direct Action, as the primary military force of the Planetary Consortium, is always of special interest to the Autonomist Alliance. An influential Autonomist has recently learned of the infugees who inhabit the war, and finds it ethically objectionable, but also perceives an opportunity. The players are to infiltrate the war, and supplement its civilians with anarchist saboteurs, provocateurs and sleeper agents. If all goes well, insurrection will sweep over the war, disrupting Direct Action research and development, and provide a powerful symbol for the Autonomists.

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