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This article is a list of optional Codec conversations in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, some of which are humorous, or contain additional information that is not revealed during normal gameplay.
On ground confirmation
Raiden: Control, it's Raiden. I'm on the ground.
Boris: Copy, Raiden. Glad to hear it. Entering on foot was the right move. That craft wasn't equipped with stealth camo. Or OctoCamo, obviously, since that would be useless in midair.
Raiden: And we wouldn't want to get that pricey new jet damaged, now, would we?
Boris: Da. The MQ-133C was not cheap tovarich. Now, keep alert. According to intel, you could find significant cyborg deployment here. If you were to be cornered by an entire squad, it could get... difficult, even for you.
Raiden: Understood. Some fighting'll be necessary, though. I've got electrolytes to replenish.
Boris: This is not an infiltration mission. There is no need to hide or avoid combat outright. Just... do not get reckless. Stay safe, and stay focused on your mission.
Seriousness in a fight
Boris: Raiden, there's always a chance the MQ was spotted before your drop-off. I would not be surprised if hostile cyborgs were already en route to your position.
Raiden: A little welcoming party wouldn't be so bad. I could use a warm-up.
Boris: Enough with the attitude, Raiden. It is time to be serious. This is no game, Raiden. I need you to focus. Many people are counting on you, and I don't just mean here at Maverick.
Raiden: You don't need to remind me of that.
Boris: Good. The last thing we need is another clever cowboy shipped back to us in pieces. On codec is fine, just be sure you are serious on the battlefield. Your enemies will be.
Raiden: Yes, sir.
Rules of engagement
Boris: Raiden, we are clear on the rules of engagement, yes?
Raiden: Clear enough. I can deadly force against any hostile elements. Hostile cyborgs, I can strike first.
Boris: Basically, yes. The actual rules of engagement is more specific—a long list of nos—but you have the idea.
Raiden: You wanna recap the highlights for me?
Boris: (sigh) No weapons prohibited by international treaty. No use of force against non-combatants. And no use of force against any non-cyborg combatants without prior verbal warning.
Raiden: And that includes Dolzaev?
Boris: Da, but this should not be a problem. Any non-cyborg is little threat to you, Dolzaev included. Besides, we have no signs of any non-cyborg hostiles anywhere in the area. Not even one. In any case, there is the ROE. Otherwise deadly force is authorized only in clear case of self-defense.
Raiden: So basically: Civilians off-limits, human hostiles verbal warning, hostile cyborgs anything goes.
Boris: Yes. This is a conventional warfare scenario, so the rules are based on the Hague Convention.
Raiden: Yeah, sounds pretty standard. Still good to list out all the no-nos before things get too hairy. ROE that only specify who you can engage require too much judgment. They make it harder to remain focused on battle.
Boris: Da. This is why most militaries' ROE list negatives, not positives. The few that take the other approach... I pity their soldiers, the questions they face... Oh and for our purposes, UGs are considered the same as hostile cyborgs.
Raiden: Copy that
Boris: We have no rules about property damage, but keep it minimal, yes? It just makes us look bad. Anything standing in your way—trees, streetlights—this is fine. But there's no reason damage civilian homes. Or to go snooping around in them.
Raiden: Goes without saying.
Boris: You're familiar with your new body now, yes? Then let's begin the warm up! Slash at something - a palm tree, perhaps.
Boris: Raiden, what I said... About staying focused on the mission...
Raiden: Understood. No need to explain.
Boris: I say this because I have been there. I have let my emotions take over on the battlefield. Some of the PMC work I did after my discharge was... They were grey-area jobs... But that's all in the past. When I took on those former PLA soldiers to form Maverick. I laid out my conditions: We would only take operations we believed in, and we would run them clean. No exceptions. Most of them agreed. They had their own bad memories from their time in Paradise Lost.
Raiden: I can certainly attest to that.
Boris: Yes, of course. I'm forget who I am talking with. Most of the ex-PLA have moved on now, in any case. But the point remains the same: Everyone at Maverick is accountable for their actions. We are clear to take this job under international law. And we can use force against any cyborg hostiles under the basic rules of engagement. But remember: If we harm any civilians, on purpose or no, it will mean trouble. All kinds of trouble. So: Stay in control, and stay on-mission.
Raiden: Got it.
Boris: I see you've found a grenade.
Raiden: Yeah. A new type -- Intended for use against vehicles, UGs and cyborgs...
Boris: Da. Shell design is first-class. The charge, even carbon nanotube-compound armor cannot fully block.
Raiden: Sounds like we should keep a few on hand.
Boris: Yes, well.
Raiden: What? They don't work as promised?
Boris: No, the specs are just fine. It is only... Well, if you want quality, you have to pay for it.
Raiden: ...That much, huh?
Boris: Triple the cost of standard grenade.
Raiden: And Desperado's got a bunch of 'em. I'd love to look at their annual budget.
Boris: Most likely, they have good relationship with manufacturer, I think they got insider price.
Raiden: This'd be easier if we had a few more "friends" like that.
Boris: This…dog UG. Most unusual, yes?
Raiden: You buy all that? About it being sentient, but having no choice?
Boris: Well, there is not evidence to prove it. It could be programmed to say this, to weaken your will to fight.
Raiden: It'll take more than a talking robo-pup to faze me.
Boris: Then again, there is not evidence it is not true. Considering the pace AI is advancing, it is not impossible.
Raiden: So…what, then? Should I have spared it?
Boris: I did not say this… In any case, the mission takes priority above all else. This dog UG tried to stop you, and it failed. This can only be a good thing, yes?
Raiden: Didn't you say you'd been here before, Boris?
Boris: Once. Back when it was still Soviet territory.
Raiden: Seems like it'd be a lovely place... if it weren't a war zone.
Boris: "The Pearl of the Black Sea" they called it, back when more Russians lived there. It was very popular resort spot for USSR. This was before the wall fell, of course. Then Russia and Georgia began to fight over the area.
Raiden: ...Kicking off the war in the early '90s.
Boris: Georgia was a Soviet republic. Abkhazia, a semi-autonomous state within it. The Soviets liked to stoke ethnic rivalries between the two. And not just there: in all the outlying territories. It kept them easier to control.
Raiden: But with the Russians no longer watching over the two...
Boris: Da. The Abkhaz were scared. They knew an independent Georgia would swallow their nation sooner or later. So, they took advantage of a Georgian military coup to declare their own independence in '92. Of course, the new Georgian government was not happy to hear this, and so...
Raiden: The same old story.
Boris: Mmm. And with Russia supporting the Abkhaz, it was a stalemate. Two years later the cease-fire meant Abkhazia was finally independent, but not officially. They still are not formally recognized by Georgia, or most (of) the international community.
Raiden: This region is filled with breakaway states...
Boris: This is true. There is South Ossetia, also in Georgia... Transmistria in Moldova, and Nagorno-Karabakh, which broke from Azerbaijan. In any case, even Russia did not officially recognize Abkhazia as independent until 2008. So it was not long ago that Sukhumi was a warzone. It has changed dramatically since then. It has been rebuilding steadily -- with Russian support -- ever since SOP was shut down.
Raiden: Good to hear, but doesn't that leave them wrapped 'round Russia's little finger?
Boris: It does. Which is why Dolzaev is calling for a truly independent state. He wants an Abkhazia that takes orders from no one. Not Georgia. Not Moscow.
Raiden: Sounds like a worthy cause.
Boris: Da. But many Abkhaz are happy with the reconstruction Russian support makes possible. Few of his fellow countrymen were interested in what Dolzaev had to say... at first.
Raiden: ...And then Desperado showed up.
Boris: Exactly. They brought the sad ending to this little history lesson. It is no wonder why so many people mistrust PMCs, eh?
Raiden: I suppose not.
Raiden: Boris, do we have anything else on Dolzaev? Anymore on his background?
Boris: Very little confirmed intel, but it seems he is a former Chechen insurgent. He claims he was part of the Chechen National Congress when they declared independence in '91. This was just after the famous coup attempt in Moscow, in August. Things were…not stable. Gorbachev lost his political power. It was Yeltsin who signed the Belavezha Accords.
Raiden: Right. It created the Commonwealth of Independent States. All republics that made up the USSR became independent.
Boris: The problem is Chechnya was never a true republic. It was autonomous state, but still part of the Russian republic.
Raiden: Like how Abkhazia was an autonomous state within the Georgian Republic.
Boris: Da. This same kind of sad story. It is said 250,000 Chechens were killed over the two wars that followed. One quarter the entire population. The Chechens were forced to give in, and the war officially ended.
Raiden: But the rebels kept on fighting.
Boris: Insurgents fled into Caucasus Mountains, formed several factions. We think Dolzaev is the leader of just such a rebel group.
Raiden: Sounds like Russia bears some of the blame for radicalizing him and his men.
Boris: I love my homeland, but she is not perfect. What nation is? Just remember, this could all be smoke. We cannot even confirm Dolzaev is truly ethnic Chechen.
Raiden: Say he is, though…What would he be after here, in Abkhazia?
Boris: Some Chechen militants volunteered to fight for the Abkhaz in their war in early '90s. But when Russia recognized Abkhazia to keep Georgia in check, they also began funding recovery….
Raiden: …Which the Dolzaev crowd see as a play to gain influence. But wasn't the Chechen recovery funded by Russia?
Boris: Da. And many rebels believe this is why their people gave up on independence. But if the Abkhaz people are not interested in fighting, his plan could backfire.
Raiden: So in a way, it's Russian policy that brought him here. He thinks he's fighting to make these people free.
Boris: Whatever his motives, no one elected him, and no one gave him a permit for murder. Now that he is allied with Desperado, he is too dangerous to ignore.
Soliton radar's lack of jamming.
Raiden: Hey Boris, about the soliton radar... I notice that it doesn't get jammed anymore, even if I get spotted by the enemy. Back in the old days, it'd be useless the second an alarm was triggered.
Boris: Well, once the Patriots fell, classified technology spread all over the world. This new soliton radar is one example. By applying a non-linear Schrodinger equation to the soliton solution, they were able to prevent the jamming that plagued the original models based off the KdV equation.
Raiden: I'm impressed. You know your stuff, Mr. President.
Boris: Of course! I'm a businessman. You think I could run a profitable PMSC without being up to date on the latest tech?
Raiden: But I wonder... How exactly is the equation different? I mean, I'm no expert on how the KdV equation was implemented in the first place, but I'd love to know how the Schrodinger equation fits into all of this.
Boris: (sigh)...Raiden, on battlefield most important thing is how to use equipment, not theory behind it. The mission is number one priority. So, do not worry your head about equation and such things. Just concentrate on using the equipment to your advantage, da?
Raiden: ...In other words, you have aboslutely no idea, do you?
Boris: (ugh) The mission, Raiden! Focus on the mission!
Boris: Raiden, you'll need to head inland. But first, make your way through this building.
Background on MQ-133C
Raiden: The stealth craft made it back to Sochi all right?
Boris: Da. Safe and sound. No repairs necessary. Some routine maintenance and she will be (as) good as new.
Raiden: Good to hear. I'm guessing that thing doesn't come cheap.
Boris: Well, an old Soviet army friend gave me discount. He runs a PMC specializing in airborne warfare.
Raiden: An air force for hire? That's a new one.
Boris: Ever since SOP, mercs started to fill more and more regular combat duties. SOP ended, but the trend did not. Most every modern military relies on PMC support in one way or another.
Raiden: Good news for Maverick, I suppose. Anyway, that's quite the little jet your friend has. I was expecting a lot of turbulence coming in that low, but she was smooth as silk. Didn't feel like a bird, exactly, but probably the next best thing.
Boris: The MQ-133C uses a brand-new type of active adjustment control system. Sensors on the plane take readings 120 times a second, and... To be honest, I don't know how it works. But the crew chief tells me this is what keeps her flying so steady. It is all state-of-the-art technology. There are only three of them in the entire world. Even the RQ-133 spy plane she is based on is only two years old. It is fitted especially for cyborg, so maybe demand is a bit low now, but I think that will change soon, eh?
Raiden: It's funny -- its guts are all bleeding edge, from the outside it looks almost retro.
Boris: Until recently, stealth aircraft design was focused on radar-absorbing materials and improving aerodynamics. But lately engineers are trying to use the shape of the craft to do more gas mileage. Maneuverability is a low priority. This kind of plane is not meant for dog fighting, after all.
Raiden: And we can afford all this? I hate to ask but... will we clear a profit on this run?
Boris: You need not worry about such things, but yes, we should be fine. Where the proper equipment can make or break a mission, we should have the best. That miss with the anti-air missile last month was a painful reminder of this lesson.
Raiden: Ah yeah, I see what you mean.
Raiden: I didn't think flares could still fool anti-air missiles like that.
Boris: They... can't. At least not with any modern missile. Recent missiles rely on dual-wavelength or IIR [imaging infrared] system for guidance. Flares wouldn't fool any of them. But that was no recent missile I had. That kusok der'ma couldn't even take down a fat tiltrotor target. And at close range! Chiort voz'mi!
Raiden: C'mon Boris. We had no intel -- no reason to think we'd be facing anything like that. You budgeted for the tools appropriate to the job. No one blames you.
Boris: Perhaps... In any case, now we know what we are dealing with. This is still a business, but this time I am stretching the budget as much as possible. Expenses like that aircraft and your new body, are all part of this.
Raiden: Both were worth the money. This body's more capable than I could've imagined.
Boris: I am glad you feel this way, since it is still company property. Remember: if you quit on us, you either return it or you buy it.
Raiden: Yeah, Boris. I remember the first five times you told me.
Boris: Raiden, if you ever get lost, use Augment Mode to check your next objective. By using Augment Mode, you can see enemy positions, and the direction in which you should head. Useful for when you cannot find your objective on the Soliton Radar.
Boris: So, Raiden, what's your game plan?
Raiden: (ha) You sound excited...
Boris: Oh I am! Front row seats to rematch: Raiden versus Giant Gekko! I've heard the stories!
Raiden: I am trying to work here, you know.
Boris: Don't be modest! It was you who taught anti-Irving tactics to my men! This I think you could handle with no legs and both eyes closed!
Boris: Okay, okay. I know. Never let your guard down in battle. So, let us recap what we know about your foe. An AT Corp representative gave me brochure last time he stopped by. The most recent model is the Block 30. Probably this is what you are facing here. Muscle contraction rate is increased by 6%... And the chassis is made from honeycomb boron fiber reinforced plastic. It's lighter, more durable. The engine still puts out 650 horses, but they say it is much more agile now. Can you tell the difference?
Raiden: Dunno. It's been a while since I had the pleasure.
Boris: Equippable sensors have not changed much. Of course we have the standard camera eye. Also milliwave radar, low-light camera, infrared camera, acoustic positioning gear, chemical sniffer... It looks like it's been mounted with .50. cal. Pretty light gear for one of those guys.
Raiden: "Light" isn't the word that comes to mind, Boris.
Boris: Well, extra agility or not, a lizard is a lizard. For you this should be easy peasy.
Raiden: We'll see about that...
Boris: Well, off you go! Time for the fun, yeah? Oh, this video will be perfect for sales presentations!
Raiden: (ugh) ...Copy
Desperado rocket launcher
Raiden: Boris, what've we got on that recoilless launcher Desperado's using? Looks custom-made for cyborg use.
Boris: Agreed. Most likely based on the LAG-2. US-developed, to go after the Russian market share of conflict-zone munitions. It uses mostly plastic parts—to keep cost down. Thanks to that, it has been very popular.
Raiden: So not designed to help national defense, but the national economy. Made purely for profit.
Boris: That is the one way of putting it, yes. What you saw must be an altered model, modified inside the company's private armory. Did you see how it was equipped with magnetic locator? That is some very clever customization. The gun is mostly made of plastic, so very little interference is picked up by magnetic sensor. Hell of a payload, too. HEAT-MP. Definitely anti-cyborg. Even you'd feel the blow from one of those.
Raiden: Any countermeasures?
Boris: It uses an inertial fuse to maximize the formation of the shaped charge jet.
Raiden: So, slice it up in Blade Mode and I'm safe?
Boris: Take this seriously, Raiden. You may have two-kilo explosive charge and 1000 ceramic flechettes flying at you at any time.
Raiden: Yeah, but it's not very fast out of the barrel, right? Shouldn't be that hard to avoid…
Boris: They can hit more than just you. Avoid collateral damage at all costs. Strike before they do.
Raiden: Copy that.
Raiden: That thing's fast.
Boris: Yes. Faster than you, I expect. In terms of pure speed, at least. But it cannot run circles around you forever. It needs to attack if it wishes to win.
Raiden: Yeah, and that's probably my best shot...
Boris: Da. Don't bother chasing. Let it come to you. If you can parry its blows, you'll have a chance to counterattack. Watch its movement, and wait for the right moment to parry.
Raiden: Textbook battle tactics - got it.
Boris: Remember, you can parry even while taking damage. Do not give up just because you are hit.
Raiden: These rifles Desperado's using -- Mak-200s, right? Same as Maverick's standard issue. Nice weapon... Not that any gun is much use against a cyborg.
Boris: Da, the 200 is a thing of beauty. We were one of the first to adopt them, three years ago. It has minimal muzzle flash and report when firing, and little recoil. Plus, the ejection port near the muzzle makes it good in both left and right hand. Rare for bullpup rifle. Easy maintenance, tough enough to take some dirt without jamming every shot... And it takes standard NATO magazine, so you can find ammo on almost any mission, anywhere in the world.
Raiden: Sounds like somebody's in love.
Boris: It reminds me of the good old days. Most Soviet gear was trash, yes, but the rifles... ah, the rifles... The best in the world. And it seems I am not the only one to appreciate them.
Raiden: Apparently not. I see MAKs everywhere these days.
Boris: They have spread all over the world, and so quickly. Still, I am sad to see Desperado using them against us.
Raiden: Well, not much we can do about it now.
Boris: Such an elegeant weapon, waved around stadom pridurkov. Shtob vi sdokhli!
Raiden: Okay, Boris, okay. Just calm down.
Raiden: Boris, I got a visual on Dolzaev and Mistral. Looked like they were arguing over something. Mistral's heading up the force at the refinery, correct? We're sure on that?
Boris: Yes. But I am not sure how good commander she is. As a fighter? Talented, yes, I know. But…
Raiden: Well neither one looked very happy. Maybe she'll withdraw.
Boris: Oh, I doubt that. She may not like him, but she will follow her orders. She is just the leader on ground here, I think. Someone else is calling the shots behind cover.
Raiden: All right. But what's the end game here? Say I die here and we can't stop them. Then what? Are they even capable of forming a real government? Do they think the people here would support Dolzaev?
Boris: Good question, tovarich. History shows it is much easier thing to take a government than to keep it. And trying to do this all with PMC soldiers? Difficult – and very, very expensive.
Raiden: Someone else must be bankrolling this for their own reasons. Someone with very deep pockets. Who stands to benefit the most from all this?
Boris: Most likely someone with an interest in that refinery. The plant has pipelines connecting with Sochi in Russia and Supsa in Georgia. Crude oil from the Caspian Sea is refined in Sukhumi and then sent on to Russia.
Raiden: Oil…I wonder if Dolzaev knows he's being used. Then again, I wonder if he'd even care…
Raiden has hearing limits
Boris: What do you think Dolzaev and that woman were discussing? Even your ears could not catch it, eh?
Raiden: No. Even enhanced hearing doesn't help when it's too far for sound vibrations to travel.
Boris: A pity they were outdoors. We could have deployed unit if they were inside, near window.
Raiden: Yeah. Maybe if conditions were perfect. And there's the problem of noise, too.
Boris: Da, true enough…
Raiden: Anyway. Not much point talking about it now…Better I just head over there and wrap this up.
Boris: Of course, of course… I only wonder because I have no idea what Dolzaev is thinking. The more intel we have, the better.
Raiden: Relax, Boris. Once I take out Mistral. The rest'll be easy.
Boris: Let us hope so…
Raiden loses some work
Raiden: Hey, Boris, um... I know this probably isn't the best time for this, but...
Boris: No, no! No problem! Ask me anything! My goal is to have open company, da? Hiding nothing from its employees!
Raiden: Right, well... There were a few big proposals we had in the works, right?
Boris: ...What do you mean?
Raiden: You know... My doing tactical drills with the Brazilian special-ops force in Rio? Playing the bad guys in that South African anti-terror police training program? On-site security consulting for the Swiss?
Boris: Ah... uh, yes, we were working on a few things, weren't we?
Raiden: Well I thought so, but they're not in Maverick's task management database...
Boris: Well... Raiden, we've had to... freeze those proposals. Temporarily, you see.
Raiden: You're putting 'em on ice?
Boris: Mmm. They would be... too much distracting for you. We need you focused on current op.
Raiden: That doesn't seem necessary. You're going to disappoint a lot of prospective clients...
Boris: Well, yes... but...
Raiden: ...This is about N'mani, isn't it?
Boris: ...I should not have tried to hide it.
Raiden: Right. "Open company," remember?
Boris: Well, yes, but we can't afford for you to be too shaken to complete your mission.
Raiden: Boris, I'm fine. I know it's not all my fault, but my client was killed. Kinda expect to lose some work after that.
Boris: Yeah... Not your fault, but my responsibility, in the end. We were far too lightly equipped. No one on the field made mistakes.
Raiden: It's a Third World country. We were working with a shoestring budget. If we went in heavier - burning Maverick cash - we'd have been in the red.
Boris: Ah, and that is the tricky part about this business, yes? But, what is past is past. And too early to worry about the future. Just focus on (the) matter at hand.
Raiden: Okay, okay...
Background on RAY
Raiden: We got anything on that RAY I went up against?
Boris: (Mmm) We analyzed the wreckage... Its musculature had been replaced with CNT muscle fiber. The same type as you, or most any cyborg. This improved its power output, and left more room in the chassis for other equipment. It seems they filled this space with vetronics and extra weapons...
Raiden: Like that heat blade and plasma gun... Plasma loses effectiveness in the air pretty quickly, but it's still a hell of a close-range weapon...
Boris: Large-scale UGs have a growing problem fighting smaller, more agile opponents like you, Raiden... This is why we now see UGs armed with new countermeasures, such as this RAY had.
Background on refinery
Raiden: So who actually owns this plant?
Boris: On the books? A private Abkhaz firm. In reality? The Russian state.
Raiden: So all the money goes right back to Russia?
Boris: It does provide Abhkazia with fuel and electricity, but yes, it was clearly built for Russian interests.
Raiden: How do you mean?
Boris: The Caspian Sea is a major source of gas and oil. But these days, most of it never passes through Russia. Not since the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was built. With it, the oil flows straight to Europe.
Raiden: But that pipeline runs straight through Georgia... Why did the Georgian government allow it?
Boris: Money, of course, and power. Having a major pipeline run through your land brings plenty of both. The South Ossetia War taught Georgia they could not always rely on the West for support. They began working more with their neighbors in the region, to build their own power base.
Raiden: So Georgia stands to gain from this coup?
Boris: Da. It would seem this way. Any scenario that ends with the refinery no longer under Russian control is good for Georgia. Even if they do not retake Abkhazia outright, they benefit if new regime is more friendly to Georgia. Perhaps this is Dolzaev's idea -- to attract Abkhaz political leaders with a pro-Georgia agenda.
Raiden: And that's why Georgia isn't taking action?
Boris: I very much doubt Georgian government would be involved with something so obvious, and so reckless. There must be someone else behind all this.
Raiden: And Dolzaev's just playing along? Why would he?
Boris: Revenge, tovarich. Anything to hurt Russia. Perhaps money as well -- who knows?
Raiden: Yeah, the Russians can't be happy about all this. Lemme guess -- they contacted you through the FSB, right?
Boris: There were... conversations, yes. But it was the Abkhaz government that enlisted us. We only took this mission because we knew it would help the people there. Besides, we cannot leave Desperado unchecked. Not after what happened.
Raiden: Right. I won't let them profit from this mess. And we need to learn who's backing them.
Boris: Da, and the first step to do this is take back that refinery.
Raiden: Have you ever worked with this client of ours before?
Boris: Da. Several active human rights groups engage in non-violent interventions like this one. Typically, they hire firms like ours to provide security and backup. Most serious human rights abuses take place in unstable regions, after all. Legitimate human rights groups -- not fakes set up by oil firm or such things -- they cannot handle it.
Raiden: Yeah. It's different for private groups working in hostile regions... Especially when some of that hostility comes from the local authorities.
Boris: Indeed. NGOs and security firms play a greater role in peacekeeping, too. You know, DDR business -- disarmament, demobilization, reintegration -- like the UN runs it. Usually, carrying weapons is not permitted for the group involved, for obvious reasons.
Raiden: So outfits like ours run guard duty. If the locals don't like armed peacekeepers, then they pretend to be unarmed observers instead.
Boris: Da. It's beneficial for the client if the locals are aware of the firepower backing them, though. I've drank tea with the sort of people my company would normally be pushing back with the butts of our rifles. It is very different from usual, more direct sort of security work, especially at beginning. But I got used to it. Less danger of unexpected conflict, and the pay is pretty good. We have built good reputation for this kind of work. This is why NGO hired us for this job.
Raiden: How're things back in Abkhazia?
Boris: Thanks to the full efforts of the workers, power was restored in just two days.
Raiden: Pretty impressive.
Boris: Only the power plant is back online, though. Refinery itself will likely be out of service for months. Fuel sent from Supsa is being used to power the plant for now.
Raiden: Just wish I could've stopped him...
Boris: Impossible, without a sniper. And in our focus on anti-cyborg combat, we were... unprepared. Thankfully, other than financial losses, few Abkhaz citizens were seriously affected. The plant workers had already been evacuated, and most were hired back on to rebuild refinery. We received payment, and are not being blamed for the suicide blast.
Raiden: Good to hear. It should go a long way to help fix our reputation...
Boris: Da, and even more good news: Desperado is down one of its top captains.
Raiden: Let's hope they learned a lesson.
Boris: We can hope, but it is doubtful. We still do not know who is supporting them. Even if we do shut Desperado down entirely, their backers could simply hire some other PMC.
Raiden: Whoever it is, you really think they're interested in the pipeline? Who'd benefit, besides the Georgians?
Boris: Hard to say. Whatever the plan was, it went up in flames with Dolzaev's suicide. The problem is that there are countless companies and governments profiting off the BTC pipeline. Whoever is behind it, they may be too big for a simple security firm like us to do anything.
Raiden: Yeah... One thing we do know, though, is that Sundowner's more than just a pawn in all of this. We need to watch him. Trafficking or not, we need to stop their operation here.
Boris: Find the evidence, and perhaps we can do that. And tovarich -- be careful.
Boris: Ah, the Mastiff. That body makes it good in close quarters combat. It uses those arms to grab and damage foes. Moves like that you cannot parry, Raiden. You need to avoid them completely. Watch carefully to tell when it will grab, rather than punch or...some other attack.
Boris: That UG is called a Raptor. I hear they are typically deployed in groups. Concentrate too much on one, and you leave yourself open to attack from the others. You need to keep situational awareness at all times against them, Raiden.
How to handle the unharvested kids
Raiden: Boris, we've got kids being held inside this lab. I'm getting 'em out of there.
Boris: Copy that. I will discuss with NGO what to do with them afterward.
Raiden: What're you thinking?
Boris: Ah, well, that is difficult. I image these are homeless children, taken from streets. Likely they have no home to return to… But we cannot dump them back on streets. We could look for adoptions in US, but some of these kids may be criminals….
Raiden: Yeah. Wasn’t easy for me, either. The guys at the relief center were always worried I'd cause problems for my foster family.
Boris: The alternative is putting them in an institution until they grow up. But this has issues as well. Most are already past capacity. Taking on this many street kids at one time would be impossible. Also, it's matter of fairness. Is it fair to take in these kids here, when millions more are dying? I imagine this is why rescue was not part of our contracted mission. The human-rights NGOs, they know they can't rescue them all.
Raiden: Well we can't just sit here and let them pull kids to pieces…
Boris: Da. On this we agree. For now, rescue the children. We'll worry about the fallout later.
Raiden: Copy that.
Boris: Raiden, I said earlier this is an infiltration mission… If enemy cyborgs attack, you are free to respond with all available force.
Raiden: I figured…
Boris: Attacking first…Ah, that would be a grey area…legally-speaking. But I doubt anyone would take us to court over it.
Raiden: Yeah. I doubt it, too.
Boris: Just keep your hands off all non-combatants. That would violate international law, not to mention morals of company.
Raiden: I hear you.
Boris: That is Vodomjerka [sic], a Water Strider. An unmanned air-cushion air vehicle, built for water ops. You do not have to worry about its leg attacks but that flamethrower is very dangerous. You cannot parry fire with that blade. Fall back before it unleashes.
Background on Vodomerka
Raiden: That thing I just fought... Russian?
Boris: You have a good eye, Raiden!
Raiden: I saw it on some military news site. Article was in Russian, so I didn't get much more...
Boris: You should have used machine translation. Pretty accurate these days, no? Though not so good with, ah, agglutinative languages, like Kazakh and Japanese.
Raiden: ... I'm fine with an overview.
Boris: I thought a cyborg like you would be more net-savvy than that... But all right. That UG comes from Alekhine OKB. They worked on ekranoplan -- ground-effect vehicles. They call it Vodomerka -- water strider.
Raiden: Makes sense. But what's it doing in Mexico?
Boris: Well, you know, Cold War has been over for 25 years. Not so strange for US PMCs to use Russian weapons now. After ATT was ratified, it became harder to send UGs across borders. But, there's always loopholes.
Raiden: Yeah... I'm just wondering what it was made for. I mean, why strap a jet engine on a ground-based UG?
Boris: Simple. You cyborgs, you have superhuman speed and agility. To counteract that, the options are to overwhelm with firepower or match that maneuverability.
Raiden: So it's a specialized anti-cyborg UG?
Boris: Not exclusively, but certainly, cyborg combat was at least very important design goal. That flamethrower is also very good anti-cyborg weapon. They mix monomethylhydrazine with the gel fuel, making the temperature up to 2000 degrees. Unlike gunfire, it can damage target therough armor. And, of course, you can't cut it with an HF blade.
Raiden: The arms race never ends, huh?
What to do with the brain canisters
Raiden: I'm worried about the kids they haven't got to yet…but what about those brain units? They're "just" brains, but they're still alive. I won't just abandon them.
Boris: Da. I will discuss with Doktor. There must be artificial bodies they can use, not like the combat type you have. Maintenance must be considered, of course…
Raiden: Yeah, maybe. Physically, anyway. Society may say otherwise…
Boris: Yes. Yes, but we will worry about such problems after they are rescued. For now, though, let us concentrate on the..intact children, first.
Raiden: You got it.
Who is the guy in the suit?
Raiden: Any idea who the guy in the suit is, Boris?
Boris: No. I feel like maybe I have see him before… But I am not so up-to-date on US news like Kevin.
Raiden: Umm…Isn't that kind of stuff important, given the business you're in? And Maverick's based in Nevada! I know you're only there a few times a year, but still…
Boris: This is why I have staff in America! Excellent workers! They run place for me, no questions asked!
Raiden: That's...not really what I'm talking about, Boris.
Boris: Ah, the Grad, yes? A Ukrainian UG. Of all the places to run into one, eh? Well, first thing is first. Drive it back and out of your way!
Grad: Part 2
Boris: Ah, here is where (the) Grad really shines. It has wheels in (the) back of its legs for quick movement. You would not expect speed from such a large UG. Add the firepower and you have a potent foe. Watch for gunfire when it starts moving, and wait for the right moment to close in.
Boris: So World Marshal is backing Desperado, hmm?
Raiden: You don't exactly sound surprised…
Boris: I did not catch it on the nose. But I did have hunch it was this sort of thing.
Raiden: Well… You're the boss. What do you think? Can we take 'em on?
Boris: What I think no longer matters here. As Kevin says, we have no legal grounds to stop them. And you, what would you have us do? Storm their headquarters? Kill them all? Will that make you feel better?
Raiden: No, I…I mean, look, you heard him. They're already in VR training.
Raiden The Patriots may be gone, but it hasn't changed shit in the US. A handful of elite still get away with whatever the hell they want.
Boris: Raiden. Calm down. Focus on rescuing the kids, first. We will talk about this later.
Raiden: Yeah… Copy that.
Raiden: Boris. I want to check how raising the codec encryption level affects transmission.
Boris: Copy. Reading you five, Raiden. You?
Raiden: Loud and clear. I'm seeing a reduction in peak power when sending. We're on a broader direct-sequence spread spectrum?
Boris: Da. Frequency hopping pattern changed to blue-1.
Boris: Interference still appears below process gain, too. Hell of a system. Worth every dollar. What is your processing load?
Raiden: I pinged HQ data storage with my tactical data line. The increase in latency is... below five percent.
Boris: Khorosho! In that case, it will not affect the mission. Our system is just one notch below toughest security available. Denver police cannot see we are even transmitting at all. All our communication is perfectly safe.
Raiden: Copy that.
Boris doesn't have anything
Raiden: Boris, you've got anything for me?
Boris: Hmm? What do you mean?
Raiden: What do I mean? Intel. Advice. Help. What we always do over the codec.
Boris: Well, yes, but in this case we had no official prep time. We have the map of Denver, but no briefing notes, no intel on enemy capabilities... I wish I could be of more help! But... Well, I have nothing to work with. I am sorry, Raiden.
Raiden: ...That's all right. I know you're doing whatever you can.
Boris: ...But what about your robot dog-friend? He is taking on scouting duty for you, yes? Why not try contacting him?
Heavily armed cyborg
Boris: Now that is a weapon, eh?! The great warhammers of medieval Europe were invented for breaking down heavy suits of armor. They were used by Russian cavalrymen for a long time, too. I would bet this hammer is intended for cyborg armor, yes?
Raiden: Probably. It's too big to swing without advance warning, though. Oughta be easy to parry.
Boris: Da -- let us hope you are right.
Boris: Another of those wolfdog UGs?
Raiden: Looks like it. Not quite as chatty though.
Boris: They can carry either a chainsaw or a railgun... The railgun model is wide open after it fires. That is the time to strike.
Raiden: Yeah. It's a lot easier when it's just a regular UG AI controlling it.
Boris: Raiden! Raiden, come in! What is wrong? You knew those cyborgs signed up for this! What's the problem with it now?
Raiden: Don't you get it, Boris? I thought you of all people might understand. I thought you knew what it means -- to take a life. the weight of it. Not an easy thing to put into words... What about when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan? You killed dozens of guerillas.
Boris: Da! Because Comrade Brezhnev told me to! Men don't like killing their own kin. Even animals are the same way. But when you really believe in someone or something, sometimes it is the only way. Your cause is just, Raiden! You must remember!
Raiden: I'm trying, but... Christ. You're right -- we've got to free those brains.
Boris: Yes! Stay strong, Raiden!
Jack the Ripper surfaces
Raiden: Well, Boris, that's Jack. What'd you think? I read that only one in fifty soldiers can kill with zero hesitation. Guess I'm a two-percenter, huh? (Hahahahaha) I know what they went through, yeah...But I sure as hell didn't let it stop me.
Boris: No...I guess not...
Raiden: Regular guys, they couldn't handle it...All the blood and body parts, the fear in dying eyes...Me, though, I like it. A lot. No hesitation, no regrets. Maybe it's in my blood. Maybe it's the Sears Program. Probably both. The younger you learn a thing, the better you retain it, y'know? I remember Liberia like it was yesterday. All the abuse, the threats at gunpoint...Next thing I know, I'm getting off on cutting guys to shreds.
Raiden: But afterwards...Afterwards, it was tough. Especially once I got to the US. I got counseling, an education...But every time I talked with someone normal, I felt like all the killing I'd done was gonna crush me. And it didn't stop. Not in my dreams, anyway. I'd hear voices at night, calling out all my crimes, but I couldn't shut 'em out. The rest of my crew adapted to American life well enough, but I...never could...
Boris: Mmm...And it returns only now. I've always known you have, ah, dark part in your mind...Perhaps I should not have hired you at all. Perhaps you should not be near battlefield...
Raiden: The hell with that. If I hadn't signed up, I wouldn't be here to help put an end to this. I gotta do what I can to stop that VR training. I'm not the only one suffering. I need to do this for my old friends. The boys back in Liberia who didn't survive. I survived all the killing -- thrived on it -- but the experience destroyed them.
Raiden: ...Sorry. I better get moving.
Boris' comment on Japanese garden
Boris: A Japanese garden? (Ugh) It is so flash and (groan) horrible!
Raiden: Not a fan, Boris? (Ah) To each his own, I guess.
Boris: Keep going, Raiden.
Sundowner's fighting skills
Boris: Be careful, Raiden! You do not have so much experience against dual-sword fighters, yes? Both blades are about the same length... it does not look like the European main-gauche style. He may have experience with Chinese swordfighting. I cannot say what might be used against you.
Raiden: Well this oughta be interesting, at least.
Boris: He can use those swords like uh... giant scissors....
Raiden: What the hell is he thinking? What kind of tactical purpose could that possibly serve?
Boris: Perhaps it is just what he is comfortable with. He is likely self-taught. like you. Sometimes the unusual approach works best. This way you can fight unpredictable, yes?
Raiden: True... And it doesn't seem like I can parry it, either. If I get caught in the middle after even one of the swords gets me, I'm screwed.
Boris: Hit and run, Raiden -- hit and run as much as you can.
Sunny's leadership skills
Boris: Raiden are you...
Raiden: I'm fine. I'm a cyborg, remember? It'll take a bigger fall than that to faze me. Have you reached her, yet?
Boris: No. Most likely she is busy, da? Nose deep in some book, not paying attention.
Raiden: Yep. Sounds about right.
Boris: We will find her. I am sure she will be on the campus somewhere. I already sent advance word to her office, saying we have a big action hero with urgent business.
Raiden: (Ha) That'll get her attention. Think we can pull this off without her? If we have to?
Boris: No. Not on short notice. She is the only one with authority who I can imagine would agree to this.
Raiden: All right. Fingers crossed, I guess. I didn't realize she was that high up, though.
Boris: She was lead developer on this craft. All the way from concept stage. She could not make it alone, of course, but she is the one who put all the parts together, so to speak.
Raiden: Sounds like she's picked up some leadership skills... Glad to hear it.
Boris: Project surely has separate management staff watching over it, yes, but... they are not leaders. She negotiates, settles argument between specialists with her. Very important. Also: She has vision. She can share that vision with other people, make them see it, too. That is what makes project successful.
Raiden: I bet. You can't get serious about something unless the whole team believes.
Boris: Da. Certainly she has natural leadership ability. A... gifted child, in so many ways. Though the Patriots may have, ah, something to do with that...
Raiden: I'd say so. Whaddya think, should we see if she wants to come on board?
Boris: What? No, no! Raiden, one leader is enough for this company...
Landing in Pakistan
Boris: This is Boris. You have landed in Pakistan?
Raiden: Yep. Amazing... That Sunny is really something...
Boris: Aha, she is genius! I have not seen her for quite some time... She is well?
Raiden: Pretty good. A lot... heh, sunnier than she used to be, for sure. Like day and night from when I first met her.
Boris: Ahh. That was a... difficult time, yes? But I am glad she is better now.
Raiden: It's a good thing I got to her when I did. I used to not like thinking about all the stuff that was going on then, but now I kinda miss those days.
Boris: Sadness is not like the ocean: Someday you can drink it all up... It is a Russian saying... People, they always try to beautify the past, as... a way to cope, yes? But I know it was not easy for you. I'm sorry for all the trouble.
Raiden: Nah. I wouldn't have gotten her out without your help. ...Pretty wild to think that was my first job with you, huh?
Boris: Da. Certainly, I was not expecting to work with you for so long...
Raiden: I remember how surprised I was hearing about you starting Maverick.
Boris: Well, I couldn't just abandon the PLA. Really, I think I was more surprised you decided to join us.
Raiden: Yeah... well, you caught me at the right time. I didn't exactly... know what to do with myself.
Raiden: Y'know Boris... I think Sundowner was right, in a way. Killing the Patriots was not enough to end war. It didn't create this big, happy utopia. But you know what? Seeing Sunny doing so well... Makes me damn happy the Patriots are gone.
Boris: Ah, (Yes) I can imagine. You saved many lives.
Raiden: But now here we are, all over again, huh?
Boris: Indeed. My... apologies... for putting you through all this.
Raiden: I knew what I was in for... Raiden out.
Status at Pakistani base
Boris: Raiden, what is (the) status at the base?
Raiden: Overrun with Desperado cyborgs, as expected. Security is still pretty lax, though
Boris: Yes... I don't think they were anticipating another cyborg to show up. They are, after all, all the way out in Pakistan. Doubtful there would be any cyborgs here except at the base -- forces hired by the US. And more doubtful they are expecting (a) cyborg to drop in at Mach 23.
Raiden: Heh, yeah. Still, they've got to know I'm here. Sam was smart enough to figure out I'd take that launch vehicle.
Boris: Yes, but they couldn't have sent backup to this base within three hours after Sundowner died. Perhaps they could have arranged it so the plan was scrapped if Sam died... But if they already occupied the base, then there is no longer any cancelling out
Raiden: Probably not. Which means we've pretty much already won. Sam's dead, the Winds of Destruction too... And none of their standard cyborgs or UGs have a chance with me.
Boris No, certainly not.... Though I wonder who is behind this operation anyway.
Raiden: Not Armstrong?
Boris: Well, yes, but who is running things at the base? The senator would never be there himself... But this is too elaborate an operation to run remotely.
Raiden: Yeah, no amount of network tech could take the place of a command structure on the ground. Gotta be someone else from World Marshal, I guess.
Boris: A cyborg, perhaps. One with specialized combat body, like Sundowner and the others? I do not mean to alarm you, but... use caution
Raiden: Yeah, copy that.
Background on Metal Gear Excelsus
Boris: Raiden! That tank is from AT Corp, codenamed Metal Gear Excelsus.
Raiden: Metal Gear...
Boris: It is not nuclear equipped, but Metal Gear is still in the product name.
Raiden: Fancy. That's just a PR thing, then?
Boris: Perhaps. The term was coined because they were meant to serve as "gears..." Gears linking infantry with weaponry, da?
Raiden: I guess Ray didn't have any nukes, either.
Boris: Da. It would be useless as a tactical weapon with that sort of equipment. Once we entered the era of assymetrical warfare, after the Cold War... The idea of a deterrent force fell out of fashion.
Raiden: Right, 'cause people preferred weapons that could actually be used to kill people.
Boris: Yes. I would guess they call it Metal Gear to separate it from smaller, walker-type UGs. "Excelsus" means "high" or "lofty". It is also the species name of Apatosaurus, the dinosaur.
Raiden: Apatosaurus... That used to be Brontosaurus, right? It's definitely big enough... But why do they have one? I'm sure they can afford it, but... I thought the whole point of Tecumseh was to shift the blame away from World Marshal.
Boris: It is smokescreen, I think... Part of this op must be to disguise the source of their funding. I know Desperado makes good money, but this is not a thing thugs like that could purchase. I think the purpose is to make this incident seem bigger and more elaborate than it really is. With this, it appears like more than a simple Pakistani border group supporting Desperado. It suggests that ISI is involved, or maybe terrorists from an OPEC nation. It will lead to war... A world war. One with two very distinct sides, for a change.
Raiden: Christ. And that asshole Armstrong calls it a "war on terror"...
Boris: If the Western nation begins chasing down terrorists, they will respond in kind, just as before. And before long Western civilians will once again become targets... Can you stop it, Raiden?
Raiden: Don't know. But I gotta try.
How the photos leaked
Raiden: Boris, who leaked those photos on the internet?
Boris: I don't know. It may have been under Armstrong's orders.
Raiden: So he never intended to kill Hamilton at all? That's kind of hard to believe.
Boris: That, or there was change of plans after you killed Sam. Air Force One was not going to land at the base if you were there, making mayhem. Perhaps they predicted that after Sam. So, they decided to act first... Leaking the data, and taking you on with full force. It is possible, at least.
Raiden: Course-correcting the entire plan just for me? What an honor.
Boris: It is just a theory... but either way, you cannot allow plan to succeed.
Raiden: Copy. Either way, I need to take this thing down.
Abandoned hotel background
Raiden: So I get past the gate and into the hotel. Then what?
Boris: This road ends at the hotel. Enter and you should be able to reach a hill from the roof. That hotel was used by the nomenklatura, high-ranking Communist Party bureaucrats. All destroyed now, of course, but in Soviet days, full of luxury. …Anyway. You should be able to reach a hill from hotel roof. There are more Soviet ruins past that hill. Get through there, and you will reach rear of the refinery.
Raiden: Head for the hotel roof. Got it.
Raiden: Looks like a war zone out here.
Kevin Washington: The palace cleared out quick when Dolzaev's men showed up. The streets got pretty hot after that. We're definitely gonna see a few civilian casualties here. Luckily, it looks like most of 'em got out of the city before things got bad.... They've basically got control of the entire town, and are using the refinery as their HQ.
Raiden: And that's why we're hitting the plant.
Kevin: Keep in mind, those cyborgs are contractors. For most of these guys, this is just a job. In theory, once you eliminate their commanding officer they should scatter pretty quickly.
Desperado captains' codenames
Kevin Washington: We've confirmed three key captains in Desperado. Their names are all wind-themed. The captain presiding over this coup's called Mistral.
Kevin: Yup. All three've got custom-made bodies. Collectively they're known as the "Winds of Destruction."
Raiden: (snicker) The... what? They all have action figures, too?
Kevin: (heheh) You're one to talk, "Mr. Lightning Bolt."
Raiden: Who told you?
Kevin: Courtney. Now that sounds like an action figure.
Raiden: I didn't choose it, trust me.
Kevin: Yeah, well, to be honest, I doubt the Winds of Destruction picked their names, either.
Kevin: Different cultures use language differently, even ones with a decent command over English. As you can attest...Mr. LB.
Origin of Mr. Lightning Bolt
Kevin Washington: Sorry man, but I have to ask: Where did "Mr. Lightning Bolt" come from anyway?
Raiden: Seriously? All right. Well I told you where I got "Raiden" from, right? World War II, the Japanese had a plane called "Raiden"? The Allies (nick)named it "Jack"?
Kevin: Yeah, I remember.
Raiden: And my real name's Jack, so yeah... They codenamed me Raiden.
Kevin: "They" being the Patriots.
Raiden: (mhmm) Never really suited me. But it's better than... "Jack" just reminds me too much of the past.
Kevin: I hear ya...
Raiden: Someone once told me: "You can find your own name, and your own future." After that, I dropped "Jack" for good.
Kevin: Right. Right... And this is "Lightning Bolt" business?
Raiden: Well the "rai" part of Raiden means thunder, and "den" is electric, so Raiden is basically "lightning bolt."
Kevin: Mmm hmmm
Raiden: Anyway, I was explaining that to N'Mani, and he just busted out laughing...
Kevin: So he called you that as a joke? He was basically just giving you shit?
Raiden: Yeah. He actually had a pretty good sense of humor. He was one of the most charismatic men I'd ever met. I don't know much about politics, but being around him... you could just tell that he was a natural leader.
Kevin: (sigh) Such a goddamn shame...
Raiden: I won't let it happen again. Desperado ends here, comic book villains and all.
Kevin: Yeah. We're counting on you, uh... ...Mr. Lighting Bolt.
Raiden's history of Snake
Kevin Washington: So Raiden, who was this that told you to find your own name? Before you stopped going by "Jack"?
Kevin: Right, right -- guy's a legend. I forgot you knew him so well.
Raiden: Yeah, he saved my ass at Big Shell...Not to mention a few times after that...I've lost count. In terms of pure combat ability, he's one of the greatest soldiers I've ever seen. But it's not only that...He knows what's right, and he just gets it done. Period. No one can stop him. I've learned a lot from him... (Heh) He'd kill me if he heard me talking about him like this.
Kevin: Wow, I didn't know you were such a fanboy. I thought you were gonna start crying there for a sec.
Raiden: Very funny, Kev.
Kevin: Seriously, though...Did Snake know he had a stalker?
Kevin: He ha ha ha...
Kevin: Hey, relax! I'm only ribbin' you. I just wish I got to meet the guy, you know?
Raiden: I know.
Kevin: ...You're no fun.
Raiden: Kev, let's go over everything we have on Desperado.
Kevin Washington: Roger that. Let's see here.... Desperado Enforcement LLC, registered in the U.S. -- Delaware.
Raiden: Makes sense. The U.S. doesn't regulate PMCs too closely.
Kevin: Looks like almost all of their actual business is handled outside the States, though. Says here their financials are handled by a separate company based in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Raiden: The preferred tax haven of megacorps everywhere.
Kevin: Probably why they incorporated in Delaware in the first place. Loose tax laws. Funneling it all through the Caribbean must help with money laundering, though. There's still not a lot we know about them, though, but they've definitely been starting a lot of fires lately. They're a PMC in name only -- and what a name it is. Guess "War Profiteers, Incorporated" was taken. But that's their business, in a nutshell: Target war-torn nations on the road to peace. Reignite conflicts, and walk off with all the cash that was earmarked for reconstruction. They also have ties to the drug trade, human trafficking...
Raiden: Sounds like a real class act.
Kevin: What was up with that wolf-dog UG? Some pretty freaky shit.
Raiden: Hadn't thought too much about it.
Kevin: Really? I keep wondering… Why give it intelligence if you're not gonna let it think for itself?
Raiden: Good question.
Kevin: I mean, I guess it's make sense if it improved combat performance…
Raiden: Now that you mention it, it didn't fight like your typical UG… It felt more like I was facing off against a cyborg.
Kevin: Oh! I guess the added smarts make for a tougher opponent after all.
Raiden: That's not what I mean—it wasn't really tougher than your average UG. More like it was… I don't know…Hesitant…It don't follow through on its attacks, either.
Kevin: Guess that's why it was still just a prototype. But…then why put it out on the front lines?
Raiden: Who knows? Maybe it was the field test. In any case, probably not the result they were hoping for.
Why Desperado is getting away with its actions in Abkhazia
Raiden: One thing I don't understand, Kev: Desperado must be violating all kinds of laws here. Why hasn't the international community gotten involved?
Kevin Washington: Well, from a purely legal standpoint it's actually not so cut-and-dry. First, there's the fact that Abkhazia is still not a member of the UN. Only Russia and a few breakaway states even recognize it as a sovereign nation. In the eyes of the international community, Abkhazia is technically still part of Georgia. Which would make this an internal Georgian issue.
Raiden: Guess you can't really call it a coup if the displaced government was never seen as legitimate.
Kevin: Exactly. And even if everyone agrees its was a coup, it can be tough to tell which regime is more legit. Sometimes, you'll see the military topple a dictator and establish a provisionary government, for example. Now, if they confirmed atrocities were taking place, the UN could deploy troops, recognized government or not.
Raiden: Yeah, but they learned their lesson in Somalia.
Kevin: Right. Ever since then, they've been a lot more reluctant to get involved in civil wars.
U.S. and Russia's stance on the Coup
Raiden: So what about the U.S. and Russia? What's their take on all this?
Kevin: Well, America was never very friendly with Abkhazia or South Ossetia in the first place. Russia wants the old government back, of course—the regime open to their influence. I doubt they'll opt for any large-scale action; tensions with Georgia are running already. But you can bet your ass they won't just sit on the sidelines. Boris's got a lotta connections in the Russian bureaucracy—ex-military buddies. They can't use their actual special forces, so they call us instead. That's the beauty of PMCs.
Raiden: We're not bound by the same rules as state-sponsored military.
Kevin: Other countries would be outraged if the Russians went into places we can go freely. From our side, no state to answer to means we can run things as we see fit. By our own code. No compromises.
Raiden: Then again, there's no one to say our code is what's right'
Kevin: True. And opinions on that change from person to person, situation to situation… But you let your moral compass waver at all in this business and real people pay the price. Money's always a factor, of course, but when it becomes the factor—that's when you got problems. The Montreux Document lays out guidelines for what PMCs can and can't do, but there's no way to enforce it. A lot of people see that as the fatal flaw of the entire industry. Then again, it's also what leaves Maverick free to go after them… The industry has a bad rep, but it isn't good or bad itself. It's up to the morals of those who work in it. All we can do is what we think is right, and try to lead by example. …Anyway, sorry, you know how I am about this stuff. I'll get off my soapbox now.
Raiden: Don't apologize. That's exactly why we took this job. Taking Sukhumi back's the right thing to do.
Kevin: Agreed—and now that's all up to you, buddy.
Raiden: We always talk about the Montreux Document, but why hasn't anyone made it legally binding?
Kevin: People are trying to, both inside and outside the industry. But it's easier said than done. Even with 17 countries on board, it's still just a set of guidelines. They'd need to negotiate an actual treaty based on that agreement to for it to become official. And we both know getting everyone to sign on wouldn't be easy.
Raiden: Yeah. Every government's for regulating PMCs until it restricts how they can use 'em themselves.
Kevin: It gets complicated when you try to put it all in exact legal terms, too. Then you have the industry itself, which isn't exactly thrilled at the prospect of greater regulation. There's just so many different parties involved, and everyone's got their own motivations.
Raiden: Sorry I asked.
Kevin: Nice work, buddy. In the nick of time, huh?
Raiden: ….Think there's any more of 'em here, Kev?
Kevin: Doubt it. It was all-out war over at the palace. Once the evacuation order was issued, everyone should've fled to neighboringtowns. Some of the cabinet were caught leaving Sukhumi, though. And a lot ofcitizens got caught up in the crossfire. Some folks probably stayed put-figured it's too dangerous to do anythingelse right now.
Raiden: Bad situation.
Kevin: Let's not let it get worse. Keep an eye out formore of 'em. If they're in a pinch, try and help out. Just make sure you don't hurt'em.
Raiden: Got it.
Raiden: What was that civilian doing here, anyway?
Kevin: No idea. Maybe he's just curious. Or maybe he's with the refinery. That plant's the biggest thing this city's got going. There's practically nothing more important. If he works there, he is probably losing it right about now.
Raiden: Either way, he's either foolish or crazy, running around here by himself.
Evin: Well, he's not your problem anymore. Better get back to the mission.
Raiden: Where the hell'd Desperado get all these cyborgs anyway, Kev?
Kevin Washington: Hard to say. They're not as rare as they once were, but still... Of all registered PMC troops, we're still talkin', what, 3% have enhancements? Maybe 5%, tops? Mostly career military who got hurt on the battlefield, one way or another. Getting their arms or legs back lets 'em keep earning a living. But most able-bodied soldiers are still reluctant to sacrifice their own healthy body parts. Plus the surgery is highly specialized -- expensive as hell. Not to mention maintenance costs after that. Unless insurance is footin' the bill, most guys couldn't afford enhancements even if they wanted to.
Raiden: Maverick's got some cyborgs -- what's their story? They all wounded in action?
Kevin: Mostly. I heard a few saved up and paid for it themselves, but just a few. There is this one crazy blonde guy, though... I heard he asked for a full-body conversion.
Raiden: The Patriots didn't leave me much of a body to begin with. I just had Doktor finish what they started.
Kevin: You know I'm just giving you shit, man. Anyway, yeah, looking at the numbers, cyborg soldiers are still a pretty small minority. Not really surprising when only contractors in developed countries are offered insurance. Third-world soldiers get hurt out on the field, and that's all she wrote. They can't work as a merc anymore. Most times, they can't really work at all.
Raiden: Well, Desperado's up to something, 'cause cyborgs are definitely not in the minority here.
Kevin: I've heard of some PMCs covering the costs of the surgery for their disabled. The mercs got their career back, sure, but the PMCs aren't exactly running a charity. These guys have to work to pay it off, until the company at least breaks even on 'em. Any cyborg breaks his contract early would probably be in debt (for) the rest of his life.
Raiden: You think that's Desperado's M.O.?
Kevin: I can't prove it, but sure as hell wouldn't surprise me.
Raiden: So what kind of deal does Maverick offer its contractors?
Kevin Washington: Oh, yeah. I forgot you're full-time, too. You've never contracted with us?
Raiden: Nope. Boris invited me onboard the first time we talked about it. We've known each other since Area 51. Didn't have any reason to turn him down, so yeah, never really considered the contract route.
Kevin: Right, right... Well, it's pretty rare for guys on the ground like you to be full-timers. Most of Maverick's soldiers are contractors, just like with any other PMC. It just makes sense. After all, it's never the same job twice in this business. Each mission has its own requirements: force size, skill set...all that crap. So generally, we contract out on a per-mission basis, or a fixed schedule for longer jobs. A lot of US companies are doing it that way lately, not just PMCs. Besides, a contractor can earn more than most regular full-time employees. Definitely a hell of a lot more than regular military.
Raiden: And if they want to quit? Can they get out of their contract?
Kevin: Yep. Of course just up and quitting right in the middle of a mission'd cause problems. Just like any other job, y'know? We'd want some notice, to settle on a new end date, but... Hold up. ...You're not thinking of leaving us, are ya?
Raiden: (chuckles) Just curious.
Kevin's job at Maverick
Raiden: You still busy with all that other work, Kev?
Kevin Washington: You know me, man: Kev-of-all-trades. I got a lot on my plate. Briefing prep, arms procurement, client negotiation, HR, biz dev, accounting... you name it. Lately, though, I've been focusing more on sales and onsite co-ordination. Oh, and advisor work, like this.
Raiden: Never sleep, do you?
Kevin: Things've been better since Courtney joined up, at least.
Oil Refinery reminder
Note, this will repeat itself after all of Kevin's Codec calls are unlocked
Kevin Washington: Raiden, head for the oil refinery.
Kevin Washington: I've seen a lotta weird stuff, but this takes the cake.
Raiden: Well, I'm glad you're entertained. Too bad you're missing all the fun. It's a real party down here.
Kevin: Sorry, buddy, my speciality is cultural studies, not combat scenarios. If you're looking for my help during a brawl, you must be getting pretty desperate.
Raiden: Good point.
Kevin: Besides, if you've got time to screw around on the codec, it can't be all that bad, right?
Raiden: We'll see. Okay, back to the party...
After the LQ-84i battle
Kevin Washington: What was up with that wolf-dog UG? Some pretty freaky shit.
Raiden: (Heh) Hadn't thought too much about it.
Kevin: Really? I keep wondering...why give it intelligence if you're not gonna let it think for itself?
Raiden: Good question.
Kevin: I mean, I guess it'd make sense if it improved combat performance...
Raiden: Now that you mention it, it didn't fight like your typical UG...It felt more like I was facing off against a cyborg.
Kevin: Oh! I guess the added smarts make for a tougher opponent after all.
Raiden: That's not what I mean -- it wasn't really tougher than your average UG. More like it was...I don't know...Hesitant...It didn't follow through on its attacks, either.
Kevin: Guess that's why it was still just a prototype. But...then why put it out on the front lines?
Raiden: Who knows? Maybe it was the field test. In any case, probably not the result they were hoping for.
Mission to Mexico
Kevin: Raiden, FYI: we just confirmed with the client for your next mission.
Raiden: Great – How about we finish this one first, though? I'd like to see my family again someday, you know. My son's going to forget he even has a father.
Kevin: 90-day contracting tour, buddy. We're all in the same boat. Man, it feels like ages since I was back in Virginia…
Raiden: I dunno about "in the same boat" – these guys are out to tear me limb from limb. Worst you REMF desk-jockeys have to worry about are paper cuts.
Kevin: All right, all right. Guess you don't want to hear what your old friends are up to then…
Raiden: Who is it?
Raiden: Where is it this time?
Kevin: Mexico. Apparently they've got some kind of lab in Guadalajara. You're going in to investigate claims of human trafficking and illegal dumping.
Raiden: And our client? Who's picking up the tab? If we're planning to play police all of a sudden, we're gonna need some kind of budget.
Kevin: No worries there. It's a human-rights group we've worked with a few times before. They were conducting their own trafficking investigation when Desperado came up…
Raiden: Understood. You can brief me when I get back.
Kevin: Roger that.
Raiden: So Kev, what exactly goes on here, anyway? I mean, obviously refining oil, but what all's involved with that? How careful do I need to be?
Kevin: Skipped that week in science class, huh? All right, how much do you know already?
Raiden: Just the basics: They take crude and refine it into gas and stuff – other usable fuels, right?
Kevin: Well, yeah, "and stuff." Kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas, naphtha, jet fuel…
Kevin: The raw material for ethylene, which is then the raw material for polyethylene and other plastics. Crude oil is used for a lot more than just fuel, ya know.
Kevin: Crude contains a lot of molecular hydrocarbons and impurities. The refinery distills and extracts these hydrocarbons at their different boiling points. Once the impurities are removed, what's left can be used to make gasoline and so on.
Raiden: Right, so…pretty much exactly what I said in the first place…
Kevin: Oh, well if you know all this already, I guess we're done here.
Raiden: I could use a bit more detail on--
Kevin: All right, cool then – Kevin out.
Refinery facilities description
Raiden: Hey, so, uh, Kev…buddy…? About the refinery – can I get a quick breakdown of the facilities?
Kevin: …Copy that. I suppose you should at least know a few basics for the mission. So, like I was saying, the refining process is based around distillation. The tallest building on site is the distillation tower. All the crude oil runs through there first, where it's distilled at different boiling ranges. Lighter components with low boiling points are removed at the top of the tower, heavier ones at the base. The heaviest fuel then has the lighter oils and naphtha that distillation didn't remove taken out. Fluid catalytic cracking, is what they call it. Other than that, let's see… There's equipment to remove sulfur, a cooling tower to dispose of all the water used… Oh, and the flare stack – to eliminate gas waste.
Raiden: It's burning the gas off?
Kevin: Yeah. Burns it up completely, rendering it harmless. Kinda hypnotic if you stare at it awhile, huh? Next door you have a power plant – pretty typical for this type of facility. And of course the gas tanks. Liquefied petroleum gas – LPG – is pressurized and stored in those round tanks. It's all so artificial, but its got a certain charm, you know? Like the ultimate in utilitarian beauty. A solitary distillation tower, all lit up and set against the setting sun… It's an amazing sight.
Raiden: Uh, Kev…You still with me there?
Kevin: What? You don't appreciate this kinda stuff? Places like Germany and Japan, people get really into it – factory sightseeing tours and everything.
Raiden: Uh, yeah – no. Not so much.
Raiden: Mistral mentioned someone from her past... Any idea who that could've been?
Kevin Washington: None. I checked her file again, couldn't find a thing. Definitely not Dolzaev... Probably not Sundowner, either.
Raiden: No. The way she put it, it didn't sound like anyone I have encountered so far. Maybe someone involved in backing Desperado.
Kevin: If so, sounds like they're providing more than just financing. Maybe they share the same philosophy.
Raiden: That'd be bad. People willing to die for their leaders... Aren't so easy to predict.
Kevin: Yeah, but other than the Winds, Desperado's cyborgs are all just hired contractors. They're probably emotion-suppressed with nanos or drugs or whatever, but that's about it.
Raiden: Hmm... You're probably right...
Info about Mexico
Raiden: You know, I've never really developed a taste for climbing through sewers... And Guadalajara's aren't exactly wowing me, either. This place isn't gonna go up in flames, right? I think I saw something about that in the briefing.
Kevin Washington: You're talking about 1992? ? What a mess. Over 200 people killed. That was almost half a century ago, though. You smell anything off, though? Before the explosions, residents complained they smelled gas from the sewers.
Raiden: I'm in a sewer, Kev. You think I've got my smell receptors on? Local air analysis doesn't show anything potentially poisonous or explosive, though.
Kevin: Well, you oughta be fine, then. Besides, a little gas explosion's probably not gonna kill someone like you.
Raiden: That's very encouraging. Seriously, though, Guadalajara's not a bad place -- at least from what I've seen.
Kevin: Oh, it's not. Second largest city in Mexico, after all. I've actually spent a lot of time down there. It's got a lot of charm. The architecture is a fusion of Latin and old colonial Spanish culture. The city's historic district is home to a massive cathedral overlooking the whole town. It's always bustling -- it's a lot of fun just kicking back and watching the locals. Walking around the Libertad, taking in the sun with a cerveza in one hand, mariachi band nearby... No better way to spend a weekend, lemme tell you.
Raiden: Hey, if this PMC thing doesn't work out, you'd make a [one] hell of a tour guide. Meanwhile, I'm down here in this dark, filthy, humid, cramped sew--
Kevin: Also, if you ask me, the girls over there are the hottest in all of Mexico. You wouldn't believe some of the chicas I've chatted up -- on the street, in shopping malls, at the bars...
Raiden: Sounds like better company than a robo-wolf and a bunch of plague-ridden mice...
Kevin (laughs) Well, hang in there. I'll buy you a shot of tequila after we wrap this up. The city of tequila is not far, actually. That's where it originated.
Raiden: I'll take you up on that. Now let's get this over with...
Finding the right girl
Raiden: Hey, Kev, lemme ask you something.
Kevin Washington: What's up? We've been over pretty much all the--
Raiden: No, no... Those girls. In Guadalajara? You never told me what happened...
Kevin: Jeez, man, we're in the middle of a mission here!
Raiden: ...So they used you for free drinks and then took off, I take it?
Kevin: Well, they, [they,] uh... they really weren't my type. I'm more of a... an intellectual, you know? I don't go for just any random girl at a bar... Looks are one thing, but I need someone I can talk to. Someone fun, but clever, with a good sense of humor...
Raiden: Yeah, that's what I thought. Look, Kev, you're in your thirties now. It's time for you to stop holding out for lil' Ms. Perfect. You just need to find someone nice. Y'know... settle down, start a family.
Kevin: Okay, Mom, okay...
Raiden: Laugh all you want, Kev, but having kids'll change your life. I can't see him all the time, with work and all... But whenever I'm back home, he's always so excited to see me. When I see that, I feel like... Y'know, I wanna do whatever I can to keep him happy.
Kevin: Sure, sure, I hear you. But look man, I was just having some fun in Mexico. I wasn't seriously searching for a wife or anything...
Raiden: I know, but separate from that -- I just think you've gotten too damn picky. I can understand trying to find the ideal woman when you're young, but y'know what? It's those little imperfections, those idiosyncracies, that keep things interesting in the long run. You've come to appreciate that kind of stuff in a lifetime relationship.
Kevin: Idiosyncracies, huh? Like... if she snores? Or she talks loudly during movies?
Raiden: Well, not if she talks during movies. A man's gotta have some standards...
N'mani the chosen one
Kevin: Sounds like N'mani was a pretty great leader... Such a goddamn waste.
Raiden: I've run cover for a lot of VIPs, but men like him are a rare breed. He had all these conflicting factors to deal with: old tribal tensions, business interests, the military... But N'mani got 'em all working together in a stable government, and all without firing a shot.
Kevin: The "savior of a nation." No wonder they called him that.
Raiden: He has a gift, for sure. But he also put in the hard work. He was big on equality and justice in every aspect of government. He fought for it day in, day out. N'mani singlehandedly energized his people. He's a big part of why the country recovered so quickly.
Kevin: True. It was more than new buildings and jobs. The people had hope again.
Raiden: If only we had someone like him back in Liberia... Things would've been different, that's for sure. And it was my job to protect him...
Kevin: Raiden, c'mon...
Raiden: N'mani wouldn't want me to go after Desperado. Not out of revenge, anyway. But he would want them stopped -- and that's exactly what I'm going to do.
Tool of justice
Kevin Washington: ...Raiden, that saying you like, about your sword being a tool of justice?
Raiden: Yeah -- it's why I fight. Sometimes taking a life saves others.
Kevin: "A" life... or two, or three, or forty in your case. But I know what you mean. Besides, it's not like those cyborgs you're fighting have been brainjacked.
Raiden: Wouldn't be much point in sending 'jacked cyborgs.
Kevin: True. Having someone pilot a body remotely only really makes financial sense for espionage missions. And you might as well use UGs if you're gonna let an AI control your soldiers. So, yeah. They're probably using emotional restraints, but those cyborgs are fighting of their own free will.
Raiden: Starting to see where I'm coming from?
Kevin: I get it, it's just... You didn't used to seem so comfortable with the idea.
Kevin: What about what Sam said? About your ideals holding you back?
Raiden: Bullshit. He's good, but I know how he moves, how he thinks. And I've got my new body. My philosophy says when and why to fight, not how. It won't keep me from beating Sam. And next time we meet, I will beat him. I'll kill him, and I'll do it to save others from suffering. With my ideals in tact.
Kevin: ...All right, Raiden.
Comment doing regular battles
Kevin: Sorry buddy. I got nothin' right now. Maybe try asking Doktor or Boris.
Raiden: Hey, Kev -- that piece of shit who killed N'mani... Is he one of the all-mighty Winds?
Kevin Washington: Yeah. Goes by "Sundowner" -- it's a folk-name for this warm air current in southern California. He's also -- well not the formal head of Desperado, but pretty much their de facto leader. Let's see... Born in Alabama... family was poor... Hm... Solid student, decent grades... but no money for college, so he joined the army... Says he fought in Panama in '89, then Iraq... Iraq again... Afghanistan... In 2008, he drops out of the service and starts doing merc work for various PMCs. He was active all through the SOP years. Built up quite a reputation. Apparently the "Sundowner" handle comes from all the blood he leaves behind. Looks like the sunset. Anyway, an IED put him out of action for a few years, but then cyborg tech brought him outta retirement. The army investigated him for possible war crimes. A few times, looks like. Desecrating remains, torturing POWs, some wrongful deaths... No convictions, though.
Raiden: Pretty rosy past, huh? ...Not that I'm one to talk...
Kevin: Hey... C'mon, buddy. You know that's not fair. You were just a kid. You didn't know what you were doing. And it's not like they gave you a choice.
Raiden: ...Yeah. Thanks, Kev.
Raiden: Kev, you dig up anything more on Jetstream Sam?
Kevin Washington: Yeah, actually a bit. Still a lot of missing pieces.
Raiden: I'll take what I can.
Kevin: Right. Full name Samuel Rodrigues. Born in Brazil, so I guess it'd be more like (Brazilian accent) "Samuel Rodrigues." He's actually not one of the Winds of Destruction. He's not even a Desperado employee.
Raiden: Yeah. Didn't seem like your typical PMC to me.
Kevin: His father ran a Brazilian Kenjutsu dojo.
Raiden: Kenjutsu? That's a school of Japanese swordplay.
Kevin: A lot of Japanese emigrated to Brazil way back when -- they brought martial arts with 'em. Those evolved and became their own offshoots. You've heard of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, right? It's their variation on judo. Brazilian Kenjutsu's the same kinda thing: A different evolution of the old samurai sword skills. Bit of Capoeira and some other stuff mixed in. Anyway, I did some digging -- apparently the Rodrigues dojo was a big proponent of the ..."Uradachi" style.
Raiden: Uradachi... A.k.a. "Satsujin-ken" -- the murdering sword. Basically the polar opposite of my "sword of justice."
Kevin: Rodrigues kenjutsu uses kicks, sword-butts, even throws. Unpredictable, and very deadly. Anyway, this is interesting: Sam's father was killed by one of his pupils. There were rumors one of the cartels was involved, but it's not clear how or why. After that, Sam disappears for a while, then comes back, kills the guy who killed his dad, and leaves Brazil. He travels the world for a while, taking odd jobs... Bodyguard, cleaner for the mob, etc., etc... Made a big name for himself in the criminal underworld, especially in Central and South America. One story has Sam taking out a mafia hit squad -- 10 men, all armed with assault rifles -- with only his sword.
Raiden: Not unheard-of for a cyborg.
Kevin: This was back in the early 2000s.
Raiden: Come on. He did that without enhancements? And pre-SOP?!
Kevin: That's the story, anyway. And he's a cyborg now, so he could only be stronger. ...Not to freak you out or anything.
Raiden: I told you, Kev: I got a reading on his fighting style from last time, and my body's been upgraded. I'll be fine.
Kevin: Yeah... No, I know you will be.
Sam's Muramasa blade
Raiden: Hey Kev, you have anything on that sword Sam was using? Didn't seem like your garden-variety high-frequency blade.
Kevin Washington: It's not. It's a samurai sword -- the real deal. 16th century make, handed down in his family ever since. Sam had it recast as a high-frequency blade. It doesn't say by who.
Raiden: Hmm. Is this something I need to worry about?
Kevin: Maybe. You know about the basics of sword-making, right? The harder the metal, the better it cuts, but also the more brittle it is. So a sword's gotta be sturdy, but also just pliable enough to absorb shock without breaking. Walking that line -- striking that balance... that's what makes sword-crafting an art. Japanese swords fuse different types of iron, each with different amounts of carbon. Different levels of flexibility, in other words. So the blade can be tough AND razor sharp.
Raiden: And that gets multiplied when the sword receives the HF treatment?
Kevin: Yeah. Basically, the high-frequency upgrade sets the blade vibrating really, really fast, right? That vibration acts on the electron shells of atoms in the sword, and the local electromagnetic field. When the EMF achieves resonance, the blade's bonding is strengthened. At a quantum level, it's like the entire sword is made up of the exact same particle type. It also disrupts any atoms it comes into contact with -- say, those that make up the target. Their electron clouds shrink from exposure to quantum decoherence at the Planck scale. In other words, it electrically severs the bonds that keeps the target's atoms together.
Raiden: ...Uhh, you lost me around the "EMF" part.
Kevin: And that's the dumbed-down explanation. To be honest, even I don't understand all the details. Point is, an HF upgrade is like an amplifier: It multiplies what's already there. So Sam's bad-ass blade might give him the edge. I mean... you know what I mean.
Raiden: The original sword really was that good?
Kevin: Sounds like it. Says here it's a Muramasa blade.
Raiden: Muramasa... Sounds familiar...
Kevin: One of the top-ten best-known sword-makers worldwide, easy. In Japan, he is legendary. They say his swords thirst for blood; that they choose who will wield them -- you know, that sorta thing.
Raiden: Ooh, now I really AM scared.
Kevin: I know, right?
Sam sparing Raiden
Raiden: One thing I can’t stop wondering about Kev...
Kevin: Hm? What’s up?
Raiden: Sam. If he wanted to kill me back on the train, he could have, easily. So...why didn’t he?
Kevin: Good question, but I should be asking you. Your left eye was our only video feed. After he stabbed it, I-I got nothin'. I mean, I got the details from your report after the fact, but that’s it. ...He was probably just too distracted. Boris’ attacks, escaping... There was a lot going on.
Raiden: No... That’s not it.
Kevin: Well why else? What does he have to gain from letting you live?
Raiden: (*sigh*) I...I don’t know...
Kevin: So the armored transport's back, huh? Bet they're looking for you. And they've probably got your ID in there, too...
Raiden: You get all that, Kev? The woman with Dolzaev-- that's Mistral?
Kevin: Yep. The only female member of the Winds of Destruction. The name is from..."a cold, dry regional wind from France that blows from the Alps down to the Mediterranean."
Raiden: She French?
Kevin: Yep. Born in Algeria, though. It was a French colony until they declared independence in the early 60s... Ah, but you already knew that.
Raiden: Yeah. They were the last French colony in Africa.
Kevin: You know your history. Plenty of French colonial families still live there. Pieds-Noirs, they're called.
Raiden: I've heard the term. The main character in that Camus novel "The Stranger" was one.
Kevin: You also find a lot of Algerians who've emigrated to France... although they put a stop to that a while ago.
Raiden: Yeah, a lot of European countries seem to be clamping down on immigration lately...
Kevin: Mistral joined the Foreign Legion to get her citizenship.
Raiden: ...A woman legionnaire?
Kevin: And not the first. There was one that served in the North African campaign during World War II. Anyway, Mistral's been doing PMC work ever since her discharge. We're not sure why she went cyborg. She's officially leading the force at the refinery, but she's also a combatant. ...Don't have anything on her combat style, but do not underestimate her. The Winds of Destruction are trained killers, all of them. They didn't let her in 'cause of her looks.
Raiden: I don't need a reminder. I won't let my guard down.
Kevin: Yeah, but... Speaking of her looks... She's got... well...huge...Look, just don't get distracted, okay?
Raiden: (Ha) Sounds like you should take your own advice there, Kev.
Background on Armstrong
Raiden: What do we know about Armstrong?
Kevin: Plenty. Texas born and raised. Played Quarterback at UT. He was slated for the pros, but wound up joining the Navy after graduating. Said he wanted to serve his country instead. After that, moved to Colorado... Served in the state Senate before getting elected to federal office... But this... can probably wait.
Raiden: Ah, yeah, you're right.
Kevin Washington: Jesus, Raiden, this is a little over the top. I mean, I've seen you pull some shit before, but this...?
Raiden: You should know me better than that by now, Kev.
Kevin: I thought I did! Look, I know there's no legal way to stop World Marshal... But there's gotta be an alternative to going on a rampage smack dab in the center of Denver!
Raiden: No alternatives, Kev. I'm getting those kids out.
Kevin: Raiden, that VR training... It's like what you did in Liberia?
Raiden: Judging by what Sundowner said in Mexico? Yeah. That scientist called it the Sears Program--
Kevin: After ex-president George Sears... AKA Solidus Snake.
Raiden: Yup. Ironic that kid shares his name. Solidus trained child soldiers in Liberia while working as a CIA paramilitary. It's... not a happy memory. All the drugs, the nonstop violence... It destroyed my sense of judgment completely. I was made to kill soldiers, POWs, civilians...
Raiden: Next thing I know, Jack's back. I thought it was all in the past. But there I am, attacking a...a child.
Kevin: You didn't have any other choice. Other kids would've died...
Raiden: That's not the problem. I lost my cool back there. All I could think is how much I wanted that guy dead.
Kevin: A lot of us would've done the same th--
Raiden: Even if it meant killing George?
Kevin: ...He's not dead, though. Actually, he really digs his new body.
Raiden: ... Either way, I'm shutting this program down. Maybe they've got it better than me -- they don't actually have to kill anyone in reality... But they're still going through the motions, having it pumped straight into their senses, just like in real life.
Kevin: All right, just... give me a call if there's anything I can do.
Raiden: Sure. Raiden out.
DPD subcontracted to World Marshal
Raiden: So let me get this straight: All law enforcement in Denver's been subcontracted out to World Marshal?
Kevin Washington: Pretty much. It's part of Colorado's small-government initiative. When you're tasked with slashing a state's budget, privatizing the police force starts to make sense. Detroit was kind of the pioneer there. Armstrong spearheaded the idea, of course. Back when he was still in the state senate.
Raiden: No surprise. But the police force isn't all cyborg, is it?
Kevin: Nah. No way anyone could get funding for that. Most of 'em are unmodified... New recruits or old veterans from the old Denver PD. They handle most of the basic police work, like street patrols and investigations. Most cyborgs are part of the SWAT unit. They're sent out to handle riots, violent crimes, stuff like that.
Raiden: Makes sense.
Kevin: They're given separate roles in the force, too. Some specialize entirely in combat; others handle things like hostage negotiations. Some of the combat specialists are ex-US Army, but a lot of 'em are from overseas, too. A lot of them undergo the cyborg operation just to get a green card.
Raiden: That kind of thing must go over great with the anti-immigration movement.
Kevin: You know it. A lot of folks wanted a blanket ban on hiring immigrants for the police force. They get a bad rep for those helmets, too -- can't see their faces. They're required to keep their faceguards up if they're not actively on a mission, though. Thing is, we're starting to see a wave of violent cyborg crime across America, you know? The way the police see it, they need more cyborgs on the force to deal with that.
Raiden: Hope they have enough cyborgs to deal with me.
Kevin Washington: Raiden, how's the MECS? No headaches or anything?
Raiden: No. Why do you ask?
Kevin: You're in a high altitude zone, remember?
Raiden: Oh. Right, right... The Mile-High City. Didn't think I'd have to worry about altitude sickness yet, though. You're checking my stats, right? Oxygen density's only ten percent off normal. Body's still in the green.
Kevin: Yeah, I'm watching. Just remember: it's definitely going to feel a little different from sea level.
Raiden: Copy. Y'know, I didn't realize how big Denver's gotten. It was never exactly small, I know, but it looks like it's really blown up these past few years.
Kevin: It's a good place to live. The tech sector's booming, people are moving in, and unemployment's low, too.
Raiden: I always figured Colorado's more about military than anything else.
Kevin: Originally, yeah. Denver, like Colorado in general, is filled with federal agencies and defense contractors.
Raiden: And NORAD and Peterson Air Force Base are just a short drive away, right? Over in Colorado Springs.
Kevin: And then there's all the nuclear facilities, too.
Raiden: Right, I remember hearing about the Rocky Flats plant...
Kevin: Yeah, they manufactured the plutonium triggers that detonate nuclear bombs. It was shut down late last century for illegal pollution offenses. Of course, there's still a ton of military manufacturing activity going on in Colorado.
Raiden: PMCs too, right?
Kevin: Yep. PMCs like World Marshal. They've been on a buying frenzy, gobbling up a whole bunch of smaller outfits. That growth's what's enabled them to expand into the public sector. Their work in private policing has really boosted their profile.
Raiden: I'm not necessarily against small government, but when you mix public authority with private firms...
Kevin: It never works out, yeah. This is probably obvious, but this "police force" is basically a full-on army. Don't go easy on them.
Raiden: Don't intend to.
Raiden: So there's one more of the Winds, right? Besides Sundowner and Mistral?
Kevin: Yeah. Monsoon. That is, uh...
Raiden: You can skip the part about the name -- I know Monsoons are seasonal winds in Asia.
Kevin: The word actually refers to seasonal winds anywhere... But yeah, it's usually used to describe the winds that bring Southeast Asia most of its rain.
Raiden: Safe to assume he's Asian, then. Right?
Kevin: Yep. His roots are with a Cambodian organized crime syndicate. Not ex-military, for a change. He's fluent in Khmer, Chinese, and English. Rumored to have been involved in drug and human trafficking.
Raiden: So what's he doing with a PMC?
Kevin: Apparently, he converted to a cyborg body after being wounded in a gang shootout. I don't know the full story, though. Maybe he just decided PMC work's better than the mob. The two worlds are closer than you might think. Boris's got a lot of ex-military buds that now work with the Russian mafia.
Raiden: I guess either profession guarantees plenty of excitement, if that's your thing.
Kevin: Monsoon's no ordinary street thug, though. That much is clear from his record... And he was a master with the sai, even before becoming a cyborg.
Raiden: Think he's in Denver?
Kevin: Probably, given Desperado and World Marshal are basically one and the same. Careful down there...
Follow the markers
Kevin: You okay, buddy? Looks like Wolf posted some guidance data to your soliton radar. Try following those markers.
Raiden: What do you think about what Monsoon said earlier, about memes? You think we're all doomed to follow some coded-in routine? That there's no free will?
Kevin: ...Well, you're always gonna have restraints, based on what culture you're born into. The concept of memes was first proposed by Richand Dawkins in a book called "The Selfish Gene." Dawkins, a biologist, stated that even if the actions of a living thing appear to be altruistic...Each of its genes is still engaging in selfish behavior -- purely as a matter of survival.
Raiden: Yeah, I heard about that.
Kevin: He went on to define memes as a different kind of self-replicating unit. They're the genes of a culture, from fashion to chord progressions in music...even political expression. And just like normal genes, they replicate. They grow, infecting more and more people.
Raiden: You buy a shirt you like, and put it on; other people see you wearing it, then buy it for themselves.
Kevin: Yeah. "The genes of a culture" makes it all sound pretty lofty...But the way Dawkins puts it, memes can also transmit worthless things, even the bad parts of a culture. Fashion's one thing, but value-related memes can put huge restraints on people's lives. For example, the idea that having lots of money is the ultimate goal, the thing we should all strive for...
Raiden: Heh, like in the US...
Kevin: Any capitalist country, really. But anyway, you catch this money-worship meme, then not only are you trying to get rich...You're also spreading that idea to other people. You have to. If that meme isn't the cultural norm, then what are you working for?
Raiden: So you start spreading the word around about how important it is to succeed, earn status.
Kevin: Right. And the really contagious memes can be even worse. For example: revenge. A guy sees his countrymen killed by terrorism, so he becomes a terrorist and retaliates...It's an infinite loop.
Raiden: I think it's the same thing with child soldiers. Kids' parents are killed by other kids, so they join the war next and start killing other people's parents. There's gotta be a way to break the cycle, though.
Kevin: Dawkins wrote about that, too. How we can rebel against our genes and memes. Once you're aware of your own memes, you can train yourself to identify and replicate the "good" ones...
Raiden: And kill the bad ones.
Raiden: ...Well, that starts with me stopping this VR shit. The Sears Program's one hell of a bad meme machine.
Raiden: Guess all of the staff's already gotten out.
Kevin Washington: Probably. There's an evacuation notice for the entire neighborhood, in case you hadn't noticed. Can't exactly have civvies running around with cyborgs blowing the place up all around.
Raiden: I'm not complaining. This way, I won't have to hold back. Too bad the cyborgs didn't go with 'em. I'm not even here to fight them.
Kevin: Yeah. But if you're expecting to find the guys behind all this, you're probably too late.
Raiden: I know. I'm just here to get the brains back. Anyone who ran this operation, worked on it, stood by and let it happen... ...I'll deal with 'em later.
Kevin: Smart plan. Wouldn't be much of a warrior if you started hacking up helpless non-cyborgs, anyway. Those guys... we'll get 'em another way.
Raiden: Such as?
Kevin: Well... I mean, just getting the brains on our side could change a lot... World Marshal's got an iron grip on the government -- Wall Street, too. Legal action's not gonna work. But you can bet that the media's gonna descend on Denver like flies once you're done here. Once you've rescued those brains, they can start talking about VR training. If nothing else, it'll definitely change public opinion, and quickly. World Marshal's stock'll plunge, giving 'em less influence in Washington... We could see a managerial change. And... you know, the guy running the project'd probably be demoted. Reassigned, at least.
Raiden: Demoted? For cutting up kids? That's punishment? It's gotta be Armstrong running all this. A guy who -- publically -- has nothing to do with World Marshal.
Kevin: I... yeah.
Raiden: Anyway, he'll have to wait. The way Monsoon was talking, Sam and Sundowner are in here somewhere. Taking them out's a start, at least.
Kevin Washington: Sounds like Monsoon was a victim of the Khmer Rouge.
Raiden: Yeah. Pol Pot's regime. They killed nearly the entire intellectual class of Cambodia... All in an attempt to create a communist agrarian society.
Kevin: Some reports claim that they wiped out a third of the entire population. Just insane... Even without knowing exactly what happened to him there... You can start to see why he thinks the world is diseased.
Raiden: Yeah, I'm sure that's what gave him his whole survival-of-the-fittest worldview... Just one long series of traumatic events...
Kevin: Well, directly or otherwise, the Khmer Rouge messed up a whole lotta lives... But all of their victims didn't start thinking like Monsoon. People have to stop the cycle of violence somewhere... Stop the bad meme, I guess you could say. Course that's easy for me to say, having grown up in a nice, stable First World country...
Raiden: Nah, I get it. Growing up in bad circumstances... It's no excuse for the crimes you commit.
Kevin Washington: That's a pretty weird hilt Sam had on his blade...
Raiden: It had some kind of...explosive charge built in -- helped him unsheathe quicker. A cheap trick, if you ask me.
Kevin: Maybe it was, but he did cut your arm off... Besides, if you get down to it, just being a cyborg's not exactly fighting fair, is it?
Raiden: Maybe not. But I'm not saying any and all science isn't fair...
Kevin: It's weird how the blade pointed downward, too. I thought samurai swords always pointed up?
Raiden: It could be to help him unsheathe it faster. Maybe it is part of the original uradachi style, or something Rodrigues invented over in Brazil...
Kevin: An underhanded blade for an underhanded fighting style, huh? I like it.
Comment about Japanese garden
Kevin: You know, I visited a garden like that once, in Japan. The Kairaku-en, in a city called Mito. Really nice. Taxi ride there was murder, though. I figured the cabbie wouldn't be able to speak English so I gave him a map, but he still got totally lost. I think he probably got confused because the map was in English. I didn’t think that'd be a problem since it's not like the place names are any different… But apparently the guy couldn’t even read the English alphabet.
Kevin: You all right, buddy? That was one hell of a drop...
Raiden: Yeah, I'm good. This body's even tougher than I realized. That was some in-flight entertainment...
Kevin: Yeah, no shit. Sliders or Hammerheads are one thing, but the MQ-320's a full-fledged warplane. Only the USAF's supposed to have 'em.
Raiden: Someone should tell World Marshal that.
Kevin: UAV tech's grown a lot, but not that much. Fully-equipped battle planes would cost a fortune. Everything in 'em is cutting-edge tech. The military might let a PMC operate one, but I can't think of many who could bankroll one for themselves...
Raiden: Yeah. Can't see the US being keen on sharing its toys... Especially with World Marshal.
Kevin: The military mmight've loaned it out, but only for overseas ops in major hotspots. They wouldn't outsource the defense of American airspace --that's their job. Imagine the headlines... Any warplane within US airspace -- manned or not -- it's military or nothing. That's part of the reason private UAV tech hasn't advanced as much as it could've.
Raiden: If I had to guess, they were probably trainers from Peterson Air Force Base. And if World Marshal's got access to equipment like that...
Kevin: Yeah. Either the Army gave them permission, or they somehow scrambled without using military channels. Either way, they're in deeper with the military than we thought.
Raiden: (sigh) I know I just leveled World Marshal HQ, but I don't understand why the military would get involved... I'm not an enemy combatant or anything. I can see why the police'd want me... But the Air Force?
Kevin: Well, you did... kind of... kill a bunch of police officers... (Now) I know they were more World Marshal security guards than anything else, but they still had badges. And when the police can't catch you, that's when they call in the Guard.
Raiden: This is blowing up pretty quickly.
Kevin: Pretty much full-on warfare, yeah. Asymmetric warfare, that's is.
Raiden: Well, we'd better wrap this up quick, then. Any more warplanes, and I could be in trouble.
Kevin: I doubt Peterson's got any more MQ's ready to go. You'd have seen 'em by now. My hunch is, someone at World Marshal probably panicked and had it dispatched after Sundowner died. There won't be another sortie. Once you're out of Denver, things won't seem so urgent for them anymore. The military can't just go around willy-nilly shooting down civilian helicopters
Raiden: Maybe, but if we're dealing with guys who can commandeer US military planes without Army approval...
Kevin: ...Well, then we'd really be screwed. But I doubt it's that easy for them...
Kevin Washington: You know, it looked like Sundowner was talking with Sam there.
Raiden: Sounded that way. I couldn't really make it all out.
Kevin: Yeah. The voice data was probably running directly into his. I'm just worried about what he had to say, though... It's like Sam was setting all of this up just so you'd make a tougher opponent.
Raiden: ...Come on. I mean, sure, that shit he pulled with those guys' voices... That opened my eyes a little, yeah. But why make me stronger? That makes no sense.
Kevin: Hmm... maybe not. But you said it yourself. He could have killed you easy in Africa... if he wanted to.
Raiden: I know that, but...
Kevin: Maybe it's got something to do with your sword style? You know, he said you deny your weapon its purpose. I think maybe that guy's wants to meet Jack the Ripper. Y'know, like in the movies? The Wild West gunslingers or whatever – they never want to fight guys who aren't on their level. They need someone as good as they are. Or better. Otherwise there's no thrill, no satisfaction... I've seen that story play out a million times.
Raiden: That's not real life, Kev. But... I guess I can understand the idea of enjoying a fight Jack... That Jack... He doesn't want to kill just anybody. He wants the excitement, the thrill, the pain, the adrenaline rush. But... what does Sam fight for? For Tecumseh, whatever that is? Or does he care why he's fighting at all, so long's he's got a "worthy opponent?"
Kevin: That's… impossible for me to say. Either way, he's still alive. And whatever he is, he's definitely got something nasty up his sleeve.
Raiden: Well, I'm ready for it. Monsoon interrupted us before... But this time, I'm ending it.
Raiden: Army make any more moves?
Kevin: Nah. Looks like my hunch was right. Whoever gave the UAV scramble order was probably way out of line. You might be suspected of property damage, theft and the murder of a police officer... But you're not yet a threat to the general public. Sure the police've got every reason to kill you guys... But as far as the military's concerned, you're nobody.
Raiden: Well, God bless America. Glad to see at least the army's not corrupt. Yet.
Kevin: I wouldn't rest easy. They're probably having an emergency meeting all about you as we speak. Next time around, Doktor could have a fighter jet on his ass. He may be a civilian piloting a helicopter, but he's still your accomplice. They won't think twice. Of course, they might take a more subtle approach. Maybe not attack the helicopter, but definitely pursue it.
Raiden: That's a lot more likely. Anyway, it looks like he's gonna make it to Mexico in one piece. After that, all he's gotta do is get the brains on the transport plane and get his ass over to Germany. Both vehicles are on false registrations. There's nothing linking Dok to any of this. And as long as they don't want the public to know about the brains, there won't be an official investigation.
Kevin: Man, you're just as tricky as they are. But... Well, who's to say they won't conduct some not-so-official action, too?
Raiden: (Oh) They can try. But those brains're gonna help us either way. It's too late to brush this under the rug. They're gonna try and dump all the evidence, but the bra-- the kids will talk about the VR training.
Kevin: Yeah. Far as scandal's go, this one's gonna be huge. We've got a lot to bargain with...
Raiden: If we need it. Right now, though, I gotta think about Pakistan... and Tecumseh.
Kevin: Damn! Two fighter planes downed? Pretty impressive, Raiden, even for you.
Raiden: It's not me really, it's this body.
Kevin: Well, sure, it helps, but it'd be nothing without your tactics and reactions.
Raiden: Maybe. I wouldn't even dare take them on if I wasn’t in this frame, though.
Kevin: Heh, you never could take a compliment. I admit, the tech is pretty hot. Makes you wonder what'll happen once cyborgs become more common. It'd mess with sports, that's for sure.
Raiden: I doubt we'll get to that point. A lot of groups have already explicitly banned cyborg athletes. Even the ones that haven't, well… You know they're not gonna let 'em on the field.
Kevin: Sure, but what happens once folks get used to seeing cyborgs perform all these superhuman feats? For a lotta folks, the regular stuff just wouldn't cut it after that. In fact, I bet they'd welcome you guys in stuff like extreme sports. You see that video? With the cyborg skater? That's got, like, 100 million hits!
Raiden: Novelty, Kev, nothing more. What excites people is seeing regular folks doing superhuman things. If there's no training, no sacrifice beyond, "I paid for the operation"... That'll get real old, real quick.
Kevin: Well, it's more than just the operation, though.You need brains to drive that body, right? A lot of people just like to see the limits of how far the human body can be pushed. I bet plenty would want to see just how far cyborgs can go, too. Like, a cyborg pro wrestling league could be pretty interesting. Or, y'know, football.
Raiden: ...I guess it could happen. Maybe then you'd consider getting enhanced? With enough cash you could jump right to the top ranks of any cyborg sport.
Kevin: It'd be nice, but...I've always sucked at sports. There's no way, unless I swap out my brain, too. I'm content just watching from the sidelines.
World Marshal's options
Kevin Washington: Raiden. Our enemy has multiple options for striking the President in Pakistan. At the base after landing, while in transit within the country, during the meeting... But, if Sundowner's right, they're gonna strike within three hours after you killed him.
Raiden: Which means they're either gonna attack Air Force One, or they'll wait until he lands.
Kevin: I kinda doubt there are any Pakistanis onboard Air Force One, though. It's not like in the movies. They'd never let foreign press on the flight. They could try to shoot it down from afar, I guess... But anything the Pakistani Air Force could deploy would show up on US radar instantly.
Raiden: Which means their best bet at kickstarting another war on terror would be post-landing.
Kevin: They're probably setting up for the assassination over at the base. You better get moving.
Raiden: So the President's visit to Pakistan... It's meant to build government ties, right?
Kevin Washington: Right. You probably already know this, but there's a region on their northwest border called FATA... Stands for Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The central government is... Well, let's just say they're not entirely in control of that part of the country.
Raiden: Right. It served as the base of all kinds of armed groups over the years...
Kevin: Uh huh. The US started staging cross-border raids there at the turn of the century... Chasing after combatants that fled out of Afghanistan. The Pakistan army has tried to work with the US to confront them from both sides... But that only escalated anti-American sentiment within the FATA. You can only get away with so many botched civilian strikes, after all.
Raiden: I thought that -- post-SOP -- the US pretty much pulled out of Afghanistan... You know, after all that anti-war economy stuff broke out...
Kevin: They did. That put an end to the FATA strikes, but definitely not the anti-American groups. Now their anger's channeled towards the pro-US central government instead.
Raiden: Wouldn't this visit just enrage the FATA groups even more, though? I know President Salam's pretty much on the American side.
Kevin: Yeah, but Salam doesn't care. He has no interest in dealing with them. He just wants to get the FATA back under control, and I'd guess he wants America's help doing it.
Raiden: And how do his people feel about that?
Kevin: It's pretty much fifty-fifty. A lot of people hate the US, for sure... But a lot of others have been directly affected by the anti-government suicide bombings, too. There's definitely some deep-seated supporting the US... but only if it means ending the violence once and for all.
Raiden: Sounds like we could see civil war here any moment. What about their intelligence bureau, the ISI? How do they feel about all this?
Kevin: They haven't commented, publicly.
Raiden: People're always saying how much bad blood there is between the ISI and the civilian government...
Kevin: Oh, yeah. There are stories all the time about their involvement with insurgents or terror groups. Depending on how the ISI acts, things over there could change pretty damn quickly.
Raiden: No wonder Armstrong chose this place. It's like one big powder keg.
Kevin Washington: Hey, uh, Raiden? You know, Sam... He looked... almost happy.
Raiden: Yeah... Crazy bastard. He put everything he had into that fight. Wanted to kill me so bad... But once he saw how the fight would turn out, it was like... the thought made him smile.
Kevin: Course I guess if he didn't mess with you in Denver, you wouldn't have... Well, you know...
Raiden: Monsoon would have killed me. I would've never lived to fight Sam.
Kevin: So why'd he do it? Did he think he'd break you for good?
Raiden: Who knows? Maybe waking me up was his plan all along.
Kevin: Yeah, I don't know... But there was definitely something going on. He had plans for you. I guess now we'll never know.
Raiden: Yeah, he's gone. But I'm not, and there's still work to do.
Raiden: What do you think President Hamilton's trying to accomplish with this visit? He had to realize it'll rile up Pakistan's anti-government groups.
Kevin Washington: Hard to say. He could be trying to rebuild America's image with the Pakistani people... You know, pledging financial support, and all of that.
Raiden: But is President Salam looking for military support? I kind of doubt most Americans would be willing to fund more of that kind of effort. There's a lot of strong sentiment against the war economy... Especially now that the Patriots' censorship is dead and gone. Besides, the recession's got a lot of people looking to cut the military budget.
Kevin: True, but nobody wants to be soft on terror. I mean, one incident's all it takes to make the pendulum swing the other way.
Raiden: One incident, just like what Armstrong's got in mind...
Kevin: Another possibility is that Hamilton's visiting just to test the waters. Y'know, see how the American and Pakistani people respond. Hamilton is a pragmatic guy, to put it nicely. To put it not-so-nicely...? He'd strip naked and dance on his desk at the Oval Office if he thought it would boost his poll numbers.
Armstrong played football
Raiden: Armstrong used to play football?
Kevin Washington: Apparently. Quarterback for the University of Texas, so he must've been pretty good, too.
Raiden: So the star-quarterback turns big-time politician, huh? Guess he'd have no problem doging shoes from angry protestors.
Kevin: Well, it shows he's always been a leader, one way or another.
Raiden: He's obviously not just some dumb jock, or this would be a lot easier.
Kevin: Yeah. Too bad he didn't go pro, right? We wouldn't even be having this conversation.
Raiden: (Eh) They woulda chewed him up and spit him out. He looks strong -- for a politician. But nothing too serious. Definitely no Wind of Destruction.
Kevin: Well, sure. You're not exactly a seasoned fighter, either. Didn't see any action with the Navy... And you know he can't be a cyborg. A public figure couldn't hide that for long. Not with current tech.
Raiden: Yeah. He may not be much of an asshole, but he shouldn't be much of a threat.
Kevin: Well, he wouldn't be in Pakistan, in any case. I'm sure it's being run by underlings and cronies. No trail to lead back to him.
Raiden: Too bad. I was looking forward to killing him with my own two hands...
Kevin: We can't go 'round killing civilians just for being evil, Raiden. We're not even at war, here.
Kevin: Just stop the assassination attempt, Raiden. One thing I've been thinking... Sam and the rest of the Winds were all in the US... Maybe they didn't expect any major resistance over there. Or... Maybe they left security up to someone else.
Raiden: Maybe so. If it's a cyborg, I hope his insurance is paid off...
Raiden: You know all the rules of football, Kev?
Kevin Washington: Huh? Well... Enough to watch it, at least. Why?
Raiden: Just curious. I can never keep track of everything goin' on. All those rules...
Kevin: It's not that complicated, Raiden. You never watched it? Actually, you ever watched any sport?
Raiden: What can I say? I'm a man of culture, Kev. Give me a good movie over some dumb game any day.
Kevin: (heheheh) Culture? Oh, the sensitive artsy cyborg-type, right?
Raiden: Right. Anyway, basketball's more my speed. Get the ball, put it into the net, two points.
Kevin: Oh, yeah, 'cause that's all there is to basketball. I swear you crack me up sometimes, man.
Get the left hand
Kevin: You'll need to score an ID if you want to get through that gate. Head back to the old town entrance.
Raiden: That kid said he's from Guyana. That's on the Caribbean side of South America, right? Know anything about it?
Kevin: A little, though I'm more of an expert on Africa than the Americas. To be exact, Guyana's sandwiched between Venezuela and Suriname, with Brazil on its southern border. Of course, the Venezuelan border is sheer rain forest. There aren’t even any roads through it.
Raiden: So it's pretty isolated from the rest of the continent.
Kevin: Most inland connections run through Suriname, opposite of Venezuela. Beyond Suriname is French Guiana. The three countries are referred to as the Guianas, and the entire region's got its own unique culture sphere.
Raiden: The Guianas...? I've heard the name, but I don't really know it at all.
Kevin: Same here. I do know the region's a lot smaller than Brazil… or even Venezuela, for that matter. As you know, most South American countries have Spanish as their official language. Brazil uses Portugueses. Guyana, though, uses English. Suriname uses Dutch, and French Guiana uses French, naturally.
Raiden: A kind of divide-and-conquer approach to colonialism, huh?
Kevin: Yeah… They're all independent now except French Guiana, though. Sort've like what you see in Africa. I did some research after you met George. Culturally, at least, Guyana's more Caribbean than South American.
Raiden: Yeah? He looked a little Asian to me.
Kevin: There's a lot of immigrants from India living there. They were both British colonies, after all. There's a lot more influence from the UK than India, though. Look at George's name, after all.
Raiden: An English-speaking South American of Indian Background. Huh.
Kevin: Everything good over there, Raiden? You, ah, don’t seem like you're in much of a hurry….
Raiden: Gimme some time. I've got a lot of intel to gather. Speaking of which, I'd better get going. Raiden out.
Problems the street children experience
Raiden: Those brain're from street kids they picked up in Central and South America, right? Abducted by traffickers and sold to Desperado?
Kevin: Right. And now it looks like they're selling off their organs.
Raiden: That part of the world's full of homeless kids…
Kevin: True. Though, really, just about every nation's full of them. Except the richest ones, that is. You see a lot of them across the African and Asian continents, too. Estimates put the worldwide number of homeless children at anywhere from tens to hundreds of millions.
Raiden: Kind of a broad range… I guess it's hard to do solid research in the kinds of places where you'd find them…
Kevin: True enough. The way the human-rights NGO put it, though, it's hard to define what a street child is. Some are on the street because they ran away from home, but really they can return anytime.
Raiden: Go home at night? Those kids still count as street children?
Kevin: Well, point is that there's no set definition. Everyone involved has their own take on the issue. Without a clear definition, estimates inevitably end up all over the map.
Raiden: Makes sense.
Kevin: If you're going to talk about street kids, though, I think you need to differentiate. There're the kids who live on the street, and the ones that just work it. Little things can make a huge difference if you've got a home and a family to fall back on… Kinda presumptuous for me to say which is better, I guess, but you can't just ignore that aspect.
Raiden: Yeah..It's hard to imagine how helpless you feel when you've got no one to fall back on.
Kevin: Yeah… Opinion's similarly divided on the child-labor issue, too. Some say all underage labor should be banned. Others think the decision should be left up to the family. I mean, sure, kids shouldn't be exploited or pressed into military service. But should a kid be banned from helping out at his dad's store?
Raiden: Yeah, it's…definitely not cut and dry.
Kids abused or killed
Raiden: You were talking earlier about runaways – kids who could go back home if they wanted. Kevin: Right. A lot of times they're fleeing problems at home. For a kid like that, life on the street's dangerous, sure, but maybe better than the abuse they got at home. They can go home – if they feel like it – but they choose not to. Raiden That's a whole other level of tragedy. Kevin: It's a pretty common case in Latin America, as opposed to Africa, where you've got a lot of war orphans. Kids like those sometimes get victimized by the people around them. Even killed. Sometimes by the cops. That's what happened in Brazil in 1993 -- the Candelária massacre. Eight kids were killed. Raiden: How could families abuse their own kids? What's the trigger? Kevin I was wondering that too. I did some reading up on it. A lot of times the mother remarries, and her husband ends up abusing the kids she brought along. It's actually a pretty common story in first-world countries, too. The mother's too scared to do anything. She just wants her new man to love her. A lot of the abusers are addicted to drugs or alcohol, too, leading to neglect. If their parents can't be bothered to feed them, kids are forced to hit the streets for food and money. Raiden: And these are the kids Desperado's rounding up? Kind of makes you ashamed to be a human being. Kevin: Yeah... it's definitely evil, all right, but... Raiden: But even if we got 'em out, it's not like they've got happy homes to return to. Right? Kevin: Exactly. Most of them... Well, a lot of 'em don’t make it to see adulthood. Or they join gangs -- end up exploiting the next generation. It's a vicious cycle. Raiden: Our only option's to follow the money trail. Find out who's profiting from all this... And put 'em out of business. Permanently. Kevin: Yeah. Guess that starts now, huh?
Man in the suit
Raiden: Who's the guy in the suit.
Kevin: Dok's on it. He's running his face through for a match as we speak. But we only got a glimpse. It's hard to pull a full set of features to match a photo with. We're gonna need some more time.
Raiden: Got it.
Kevin: He definitely looks familiar…but I have no idea where I would've seen him…
Raiden: Too bad we can't run a search on your brain.
Kevin: Sometimes might be nice.
Raiden: Any sign of George?
Kevin: Not yet, no. Our men have split up to canvas the area. You just worry about the kids in the lab for now.
Note: As she saves the player's progress if she is called, some calls have her asking whether Raiden wants to save his mission data. Those questions are omitted from the transcribation of these conversations save for the first call.
Raiden: How're we doing, Courtney?
Courtney Collins: You're looking good on our end. GPS and audiovisual feed coming in fine. Energy consumption, check. Damage levels, check. Blood pressure, brain waves, blood sugar -- check, check check. All this monitoring equipment, I got a better view than if I was right next to you. Anyway, I'll be saving all your data automatically anytime something happens in the field. But contact me if you want a manual save.
Raiden: Copy that. Good to hear that hasn't changed with this new body.
Courtney: Yep. The basic system's exactly the same. So... did you want to save?
If the player decides to save
Courtney: ...And save complete. Simple, huh?
If the player decides not to save
Courtney: Roger that. Let me know if you change your mind.
Raiden: Copy. And glad to hear you're okay after Africa. That ambush was no joke.
Courtney: Tell me about it. Three armored vehicles should've been plenty for that job. And it would've been, against any typical guerilla force.
Raiden: I keep asking myself: where would an anti-N'mani faction get the cash to hire cyborgs?
Courtney: It just doesn't add up. Maybe there was some intel I missed? A lead I should've followed up on... Maybe if I reacted faster, coordinated better... I don't know...
Raiden: You can't think that way, Courtney. Not in this business. You did everything you could. Put it behind you and move on.
Courtney: ...You're right. Thanks.
The need for civilians in PMCs
Raiden: I wanted to follow-up on our talk earlier. About the stress that comes with the job. PMC work can be traumatic, even for non-combatants. If the pressure ever gets to be too much, have one of the ex-military there take over, just --
Courtney Collins: I'm not doing that, Raiden. PMCs wield massive influence over international affairs. Abolishing SOP didn't change that. They need a better understanding of what they're mixed up in: The laws, politics, local cultures... Ex-military aren't there to provide that. They can't. We need civilian voices like mine here, too.
Raiden: You're right. Just... take care of yourself.
Courtney: Don't worry. Africa was more than enough excitement for one lifetime. It's a good thing that limo was armored.
Raiden: Yeah, otherwise, you'd now be the world's clumsiest cyborg.
Courtney: Hey, cyborg Courtney coulda been your partner! I might've saved your ass!
Raiden: How? By spilling coffee all over the enemy (heheheh)?
Courtney: Oh, come on, I'm not that -- (ohhh... son of a!)
Raiden: ...Please tell me that was a joke.
Sons of the Patriots
Raiden: [Yeah.] You mentioned SOP before. How much do you know about it?
Courtney Collins: The Sons of the Patriots system? Same stuff as anyone else in the industry, probably. Basically, a nanomachine/software combo for controlling contractors. Used to be required for all PMCs. Soldiers couldn't fire unless their ID matched their weapon, and they had clearance. From their commanding officers and the rules of engagement, I mean. It had some mental effects as well. Moderating pain, enhancing concentration -- that sort of thing. The idea was SOP would minimize arms smuggling and civilian casualties.
Raiden: A kinder, gentler war. An oxymoron, anyway you look at it. Civilian deaths did drop, though.
Courtney: Because soldiers in the System could coordinate in real time. Share info. Between that and the ID locks, a lot of people felt better about employin privatized military. The irony is, the System was developed based on criticisms of PMC ops -- mostly American interventions. SOP propaganda said it would "put limits" on the war market. What it really did was shift market share over to the PMCs. Civilian deaths went down, but total casualties just kept on climbing.
Raiden: More than ever, war was big business.
Courtney: And business was booming. Until SOP got hacked. Suddenly, everyone realized how dangerous it was to have a single system controlling entire PMCs. That was the beginning of the end for SOP. Public opinion on privatizing war did a 180. After that, a lot of local conflicts and civil wars died down. The PMC conglomerates had to split up and downsize, just to stay in business. And that about does it for SOP 101. Class dismissed.
Raiden: Not bad, professor. But it's not the whole story.
Courtney: No, I know...
Raiden: Let's finish this later. I better keep moving.
Raiden: I thought we'd get back to our little [little our] history lesson. What do you know about the Patriots?
Courtney Collins: I know that they were behind everything we talked about before, with the SOP system. People thought these 12 guys controlled world politics and the global economy from the shadows.
Raiden: And they were right. Except there weren't 12, and they weren't guys -- or even human. They were massive AI networks.
Courtney: All the better to gather information on a global scale. Or to censor it, if they wanted. They'd manipulate factions to keep wars raging, all while selling arms to both sides. The PMCs made billions, too, of course. SOP was the Patriots' masterstroke. They could control battles directly, down to each individual soldier. The System might even be still around, if the AIs hadn't all been destroyed.
Raiden: I'm impressed, you know your stuff. Not many people have even heard of the Patriots. More than they were active, but still -- not many. Almost no one knows they were AIs, or that they're the real reason SOP went away.
Courtney: Well, the few that do know aren't going to talk about it publicly. Even the world leaders.
Raiden: Especially the world leaders. The people would panic. Assuming anyone believed them, which they wouldn't. You can find speculation on the net, if you look hard enough. Some of them get pretty close to the truth. But the stories never make it into the mainstream. "Just another conspiracy theory."
Courtney: I'm not surprised. It's a little hard to believe, ya know? It just sounds crazy. When Kevin briefed me about all this in orientation, I thought it was some kind of BS-detecting test.
The Patriots motives
Courtney Collins: Hey, Raiden, lemme ask you something. The Patriots -- why would AIs do all that? I can see why people would want all the money, but AIs? What did they stand to gain from it all?
Raiden: Who knows? Maybe they didn't even know. Optical neuro-AIs aren't your typical PCs. They learn over time, change in unpredictable ways.... The core AI, JD, was bent on expanding the war economy -- maybe to fund the Patriots' other activities? Or maybe that just was the way it evolved. Like a secondary objective, that took over. One of the other AIs said it was created to filter out unnecessary information. Gossip. Trivia. All for the sake of future generations -- to drive the evolution of the human race. Or so it said. Was that the truth? Or a lie, to manipulate me? Who can say?
Courtney: To think, something like that, running a nation... And America, no less. It's terrifying. Thank God they were all destroyed.
Raiden: But did it really change that much.
Courtney: Hm... maybe not. Contractors still gotta eat, after all. Soldiering for hire's always risky business, but at least before it was good money. There was a decent chance you could get rich and retire early. All that disappeared during the SOP years. Demand was high but the workplace was flooded -- more and more soldiers were willing to work for cheap. It got so you'd have to work years before you could even pay back your initial training and insurance fees.
Raiden: Yeah. I can see Sundowner's point.
Courtney: The global recession certainly didn't help. Unemployment shot up across the US and the EU. Even if the contractors gave up and packed it in, there weren't any jobs waiting for them back home.
Raiden: The irony is that the recovery was all war-driven. It wasn't a general recovery at all. Not only did globalization exploit the poor countries, but it crippled first-world employment, too.
Courtney: And SOP's gone, but now we've got these PMCs that are basically monster -- just thugs in uniform.
Raiden: Yeah, not a pretty picture.
New name for PMCs
Raiden: You know, our last chat got me thinking... about all the problems with PMCs.
Courtney Collins: Oh? You come up with a solution to all our industry's ills then.
Raiden: Yeah -- let's just change the acronym.
Courtney: That's your solution? Just change the name and change the reputation, eh? To what? I know you like "private security provider", but that'd be PSP. Private Military Security... PMS?
Raiden: Well, the Montreux Document uses PMSC, right? Private military and security company. A bit more comprehensive... and a bit more awkward, too, I guess... seems like it never really caught on.
Courtney: Yeah, we only use "PMSC" on contracts, or when we're specifically excluding older-style PMCs.
Raiden: I guess when a name sticks, that's it. Old habits are hard to break.
Courtney: Right. Besides, I think we're past the point a name change'd do much for the industry's image.
Raiden: I get your point. Though it did work once before. We don't call them "mercenaries" any more, do we?
Courtney: By the way, Raiden, we're not picking up any XIFF codes here, either. They're all "unaffiliated."
Raiden: Makes sense. We're enemies—Desperado's XIFF code won't match ours, and vice versa. How much do you know about how XIFF works?
Courtney: Not much. Just that it comes up as a positive match for friendlies, and "unaffiliated" for anyone else.
Raiden: Which could be friendlies or neutrals not broadcasting the same code for some reason… Say, a damaged transmitter, or signal interference. But 99 times out of 100, yeah, it's an enemy. XIFF is based on the IFF radio system aircraft use. Stands for "Expanded Identification: Friend or Foe."
Courtney: Too bad it only actively IDs friends, and not enemies.
Raiden: Telling friends and enemies apart was always a problem in the air, but it's gotten tricky on the ground, too. The US Army experimented with infrared patches to ID allies—they'd show up in night vision.
Courtney: Then SOP came along and offered a more efficient method?
Raiden: Right. SOP's gone now, but its ID protocol is still used all over. ID chips in dog tags, transponders required on all vehicles, aircraft, UGs, cyborgs—you name it.
Courtney: But if everyone's using the same basic system, how do armies hide their info from the enemy?
Raiden: Heavy-duty encryption, for one. The chips also use a hybrid cross-spectrum system to transmit the data. PMCs typically only share their codes with nations or other PMCs they're working with.
Courtney: What happens if they end up on different sides later? Like, in a separate conflict.
Raiden: They just generate a new code and encryption key. The point is, XIFF is required on all combat units, but it's pretty easy to hide the signal.
Courtney: And 99 times out of 100, "unaffiliated" means it's a hostile?
Raiden: Right. Just like with IFF and aircraft. You're a quick study, Courtney.
Kevin: Nice history lesson, teach. Now if you're done, I think you have a nation to save?
Raiden: Just a little on-the-job training, Kev. Raiden out.
Courtney: Everything okay, Raiden?
Raiden: Yeah. It's a fascinating foe, but I'm not gonna cut it any slack. We're dealing with terrorists here... And AI or not, it's still aiding and abetting them.
Courtney: Yeah... Be careful though. You might want to save your data first.
Pity for LQ-84i
Courtney: You know, I almost felt sorry for the little guy...
Raiden: What? That UG? Why? Because it couldn't disobey its orders?
Courtney: Yeah. That, and...I don't know. It didn't seem especially interested in fighting you, somehow.
Raiden: But was it really thinking on its own? Maybe it was all just an act...Get me to second guess myself.
Courtney: You could be right. It's just...It didn't seem like just another UG to me. Maybe it's 'cause I'm such a dog lover.
Raiden: That was no cuddly puppy, Courtney. It was a wolf -- and a nasty one at that.
Courtney: No, no -- I know. You're right. I didn't mean to sound critical. Whatever it was, it attacked you. You had no other choice.
Raiden: (Mmm) Didn't have much freedom myself, did I?
Raiden: How are things back at control, Courtney?
Courtney: Things? ...Things are fine. Same as usual, I guess. Russia is... you know... Russia. Not that I've left HQ much to see anything, really.
Raiden: No concerns about security? Isn't that a civilian airport you're stationed at?
Courtney: Sochi International, yeah. But, we're fine. We have our own cyborg detail on the job. Plus, any trouble and we can just take off. Literally. One of the perks of housing your HQ in a giant transport plane, I guess. No, if anyone wanted to mess up this op, they'd have a much easier time coming after you directly.
Raiden: I'm not so sure. Have you seen this new body in action? It's amazing. It's ready for anything. Unless th--
Courtney: (sarcastically) Oh, Raiden, yeah, your body...(oh) It's so amazing!
Raiden: ...Very funny. You know what I meant.
Courtney: (oh) Is it getting hot in here? Or is that just your body in action?
Raiden: All right, all right, if you're done, I'm going to get back to the mission...
Courtney: Okay, okay, I'll stop.
Courtney: For a guy with a bod like yours? Anytime.
Courtney: By the way, I picked up something interesting on that tiltrotor back in Africa.
Raiden: Desperado's getaway vehicle? What do you got?
Courtney: I traced its registration. It comes up as a -- get this -- mail transport. A Somali civilian helicopter.
Raiden: Not even the right type of aircraft. So the registraion is fake. Well, par for the course for Desperado, I guess.
Courtney: I wonder why they bothered with a tiltrotor in the first place?
Raiden: Why not? They can take off and land without an airstrip, virtually anywhere. Hover, too. Meanwhile they have the speed and range of a fixed-wing plane. Or close to it. And they're quiet: You don't get all that BVI noise from the blades like with a normal 'copter.
Courtney: Aren't they more accident-prone, though?
Raiden: They were -- used to call 'em "widow makers." The rotor tech is really complex. There've been a lot of mishaps over the years, but each one's helped perfect the design. These days, they're as safe as any other aircraft -- helicopter or fixed wing. Most of VTOL's bad rep is left over from the thrust-vectoring jets of the past.
Courtney: Ah, no wonder you know all this: Says here you took down a Harrier once. Wait -- By yourself?
Raiden: Well, I had a rocket launcher. Wasn't so tough while it was in hover mode.
Courtney: I bet you're just being modest. Must have been a really crazy op you were on.
Raiden: (ha) You don't know the half of it.
Courtney: I can't believe Dolzaev blew himself up...
Raiden: Pretty common terror tactic. You don't usually see the leaders doing it, though. It's one thing to get your flock pumped up on the glory of dying for the cause... But it's not often they actually go through with it themselves.
Courtney: You've gotta have a public face, after all. The guy who gets to claim responsibility on the evening news.
Raiden: In a weird way, Dolzaev showed some serious dedication... Not that I'm about to praise him for it.
Courtney: Yeah. Still a terrorist -- a suicide bomber -- in the end.
Raiden: If that's what you want to call him. Still, he kind of failed at it.
Courtney: How so?
Raiden: Well, all that explosion did was put a dent in Abkhazia's budget... Or Russia's, really -- they're the ones rebuilding the refinery. The coup didn't work out. He couldn't overthrow the government. He was barely a blip on Russia's radar.
Courtney: So you're saying the bombing didn't accomplish any of his goals? He did it just 'cause he was cornered? Sound more like just plain suicide.
Raiden: Yeah. Probably wanted to end things with his own hands. Like a samurai committing harakiri.
Courtney: Still not something to be commended for, though.
Raiden: ...Yeah. Lumping him in with true warriors like the samurai just gives them a bad name.
Mistral getting to Raiden
Courtney Collins: I... I hope she didn't get to you. Wanting to protect the weak is... That's worth striving for.
Raiden: Don't worry. I've heard more than a few super villain spiels in my time. Maybe we had some things in common in our past. But not anymore. I bring my beliefs into every battle I fight. You wanna call me foolish, well... That's not gonna change me.
Courtney: ...I'm glad to hear that, Raiden.
Raiden: Yeah, thanks. Raiden out.
Raiden's Mariachi outfit
Courtney Collins: Say, Raiden, where'd you get that hat you were wearing?
Raiden: The sombrero? Picked it up at a souvenir store here. I guess I just kinda liked the design. Also, when you're on a scout mission, it's vital that you use the local attire to blend into the background.
Courtney: Um, yeah... I think it looked pretty good on you. You looked like some kind of mariachi singer.
Raiden: Think so?
Courtney: Yup. Only... that's kind of a problem, too.
Raiden: How so?
Courtney: Well, I mean, that sombrero really was meant to be part of a mariachi costume. Mexicans don't wear hats like that normally.
Raiden: C'mon. The guy at the shop told me I'd look just like a local...
Courtney: Yeah. A local tourist, maybe. Look, you might see a lot of Mexican men wearing sombreros during their daily routines... But, um, nothing like that. They'd go for something more simple and compact. Something not at all different from cowboy hats in the Old West.
Raiden: ...Are you sure?
Courtney: I don't know if its true or not, but I have heard one theory about the modern cowboy hat... They say it's based on the sombreros the original Western settlers brought from Mexico. Of course, cowboy hats come in all shapes and sizes, so you can't say really say a specific one's the cowboy hat.
Raiden: Huh. Well, now I know why the locals were so eager to get a look at me.
Courtney: That... wasn't the hat.
Courtney Collins: By the way, Raiden, have you ever eaten nopalitos? They're typically called "nopales..."
Raiden: Huh? Oh, like that street vendor was selling? Nope... Nopales.
Courtney: Well, that's too bad. You really ought to try some while you're in the area.
Raiden: Yeah, but it's from a cactus, right? Doesn't it taste all thin and watery?
Courtney: Not at all. It's kind of like the flesh of aloe vera leaves, or the seaweed used in Japanese cooking. It's got this really soft, but crunchy texture, and it's really versatile. You can eat nopales as-is in a salad, saute them, stir-fry them with steak, put them in tacos... You can even toss them into a blender to make some juice.
Raiden: I... I had no idea.
Courtney: Tell me about it! I got hooked after Boris took me to this one Mexican restaurant. After that, I just had to learn more about them. For example, they are really low in calories. They also have lots of soluble and insoluble fiber, which not only promotes digestion... But is great for maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. It's even thought to help prevent intestinal cancer. It's packed with healthy stuff, too, like vitamins B and C, potassium and iron.
Raiden: Okay, okay, I get it - it's good for you. So how does it taste?
Courtney: Huh? I just told you.
Raiden: ...Never mind. Probably can't "capture" any food down here anyway - not that I'd need to. My muscles run on fuel cells. And I've got enough blood sugar to keep my brain running for another week.
Courtney: Well, you can still eat, though, right?
Courtney: So how about we all go out for Mexican once you're done? Food's a lot more than just an energy supply, you know. It's meant to be enjoyed.
Raiden: With that I agree.
Mistral and Dolzaev's argument
Raiden: Did you catch all that? With Dolzaev and Mistral?
Courtney: Yeah, I was monitoring the whole time. Dolzaev's …not really what I expected. I've seen his file, plenty of photos, but… I guess I expected someone more… I don't know, threatening?
Raiden: Didn't seem too friendly to me.
Courtney: No, I mean – you hear "terrorist," you think of some cold, calculating professional… Dolzaev looks more like some guy off the street.
Raiden: Cold, calculating, professional-types don't usually bother with terrorism. It's too risky.
Courtney: Yeah, I guess so.
Raiden: Course that doesn't make what they do any easier to forgive… What about Mistral? What'd you think?
Courtney: Hmm…Well, she's certainly attractive… Probably an artificial face, though. I'm guessing… most of her is artificial…
Raiden: Roger that.
Courtney: So Mistral's from Algeria… Have you ever been?
Raiden: No. You?
Courtney: Once, for a consulting job. Pretty short trip, though.
Raiden: I hear it's pretty safe there now, compared to how things were at the start of this decade.
Courtney: Yeah. I was able to slip a little sightseeing in. Pretty nice spot for a vacation. Kind've hot, though. 80% of it's the Saharan Desert, and…Wow. It was just like you'd imagine. So. Much. Sand. You could easily imagine camel caravans trekking beneath the early-evening moon. It was like something from another world.
Raiden: Yeah? I thought only a sixth of the Sahara was sandy like that. The French carried out a bunch of nuclear tests there too, I remember.
Courtney: But once you reach the Mediterranean coast, it's a totally different place. All these white-walled buildings, framed against intense blue sea… it's really stark contrast.
Raiden: Were you in Algiers? I know that the capital looks a lot like that.
Courtney: Yep. The local cuisine's totally French-influenced. I'll never forget this one lunch, near my hotel… There were a bunch of sweet shops in town, too. High quality European candy, but so cheap!
Raiden: Sounds like you ate your way across the country.
Courtney: Well, food's an important part of local culture, you know…Oh, and speaking of which, the seafood! I didn't expect to see Mediterranean fish in African cuisine, but it was all so fresh and flavorful! They'd fry up small fish whole, then drizzle them with lemon juice. I could have eaten that all day!
Raiden: Sounds like a lot of calories.
Courtney: I tried to stay active, you know.
Raiden: Hey, did you know my visual analyzers can tell me how much someone weighs?
Courtney: Yeah..I'll have to talk with Dok about disabling that one…
Studying Japanese swordplay
Courtney Collins: Raiden, what you said before -- about your sword being a "tool of justice"? I just want to say I agree 100%. I wish all PMCs thought that way.
Raiden: Glad to hear you say that.
Courtney: You mentioned it was part of some samurai code?
Raiden: Yeah. I didn't grow up using a sword. I fell into it by chance, during a mission. After that I decided to train with the HF blade. I studied a lot of samurai techniques. I really got into it. Started learning more and more about ancient Japan and the samurai code. I tore through stacks of books, movies -- anything I could get my hands on.
Courtney: Somehow hard to imagine you settling in with a big bucket of popcorn.
Raiden: What? A cyborg can't have hobbies? I'll have you know I'm actually a huge movie buff.
Courtney: Okay! Okay! So that's where you picked up this "sword of justice" creed.
Raiden: Yeah. Most of it from a single master named Munenori Yagyu. He founded a school of swordsmanship on the idea that violence can be necessary for the greater good. He called it "Katsujin-ken" -- "the life-giving sword." Yagyu believed power wasn't evil in itself -- it's how it's applied that matters. As time went on, katsujin-ken incorporated deterrents; it took on the meaning of winning without fighting. Or, as I like to say, "one sword keeps another in the sheath." That's from George Herbert. He was an English priest. 17th century -- almost the same era as Yagyu.
Courtney: It's a universal idea, I guess.
Raiden: You could frame the same message as "use of a necessary evil," but I think it's a good mindset for any PMC.
Courtney: At least as long as there's fighting that requires us in the first place.
Raiden: Which doesn't seem likely to change any time soon.
Courtney Collins: Y'know, I have to hand it to you guys. Cyborgs are just amazing to me. So much power and speed...
Raiden: It's not all gravy.
Courtney: No? How so?
Raiden: Well, things have improved a lot in the past few years... But back when I was modded for the first time, keeping artificial blood free of impurities was a huge hassle. Artificial muscles need a constant flow of oxygen from a blood source, just like the real thing. But it was a challenge getting the kidney units as small as they needed to be... We all had to undergo routine dialysis.
Courtney: Sounds rough.
Raiden: Used to be even worse - Back when Dr. Clark was still experimenting. Bad nerve connections would screw with the test subject's pain receptors... It was torture. Compared to that, I had it pretty easy.
Courtney: It wasn't until recently that you could eat and drink like normal people, right?
Raiden: That's right. We generally use glucose-based nutrient packs to keep the brain running. But we can absorb nutrients orally now, too. Whatever we eat's broken down by nanomachines. And we have taste sensors as well. It's not exactly what it was before... The difference is, I can turn those sensors off if I don't need 'em. That's been surprisingly useful.
Courtney: So cyborgs can live pretty much normal lives now?
Raiden: Well... Getting there. We still need fuel cells and nutrition packs, not to mention regular maintenance. It's a lot of dough. Of course, another big problem's how other people look at you.
Courtney: How do you mean?
Raiden: There was a time when I wore artificial skin, tried to look as close to normal as possible. I've still got some now - on my face. The tech at the time wasn't great. You still looked pretty unnatural. Maybe you could fool someone from far away, but up close even a baby could tell I wasn't human. Going out shopping, or whatever... You could feel all those eyes on you. I tried to find something to do other than fight... But looking like I did got me two strikes pretty much as soon as I walked through the door.
Courtney: That sounds terrible...
Raiden: Well, you appreciated it when people were honest about it, at least. But when they were too polite to just say so... That was rough. Things are getting better these days, though. Artificial skin's improved a lot, and you don't get so many stares now that the general public knows about cyborgs.
Courtney: Maybe I should look into the cyborg thing, huh? I could eat whatever I want, whenever I want.
Raiden: Probably cheaper just getting lipo, Courtney.
Raiden: Courtney, there's something... I'd like your opinion on.
Courtney Collins: Hmm? What's up?
Raiden: It's how I replenish my electrolytes... I'm basically feeding off these cyborgs.
Courtney: Oh... Yeah. That. I really don't see any better options, to be honest. I doubt your old body would've stood up against the Desperado captains, or Jetstream Sam. And if we fail here, it's not only going to be bad for us, but also for our clients, and all of Sukhumi.
Raiden: Yeah, you're right.
Courtney: Besides, it's like you say: No ones forcing them to be here. They chose to throw in with the terrorists.
Courtney: I won't lie -- I don't feel great about it. But in the scheme of things? Yes. I think it's justified.
Raiden: Thanks. I guess it's never black and white in this business, is it?
Courtney: No... No it's not.
Courtney Collins: Do you and Kevin work a lot together, Raiden?
Raiden: Well Maverick's not that big; unless you're a short-term contractor, you tend to work with the same guys. Last job we were on together, I was hired by the Carabinieri to track down three Albanian mafiosos. They'd fled Italy for Montenegro, and I had to bring them back. It wasn't easy. All three of them had cybernetic upgrades. Without Kev, I could've been in serious trouble.
Courtney: He was with an NGO before Maverick, I think, handling disarmament work with the UN.
Raiden: Yeah. He and Boris met while working together to resolve a conflict in Africa. They hit it off, so when Boris gave him a job opportunity, he took it.
Courtney: I kind of wonder why. We're pretty much the opposite of a disarmament outfit.
Raiden: Three things are needed after a conflict: disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration into society. That's the way it usually goes. I guess Kevin felt the process was getting to be a joke. Even if the UN taps the group that caused the conflict for postwar cleanup... There's no way of ensuring their sincere cooperation. There's always the chance they'll underreport the number of soldiers they've got on hand.
Courtney: That, or they only disarm the useless parts of their force - the ones with outdated weapons and gear.
Raiden: Yeah. Meanwhile, they can hide their standing force - the one with all the up-to-date weaponry - from the UN. Afghanistan saw a lot of that, since the wars were all waged by rival military cliques. Anyway, Kev saw that happening on a daily basis in Africa. Guess he just wanted a job where he had a firmer grasp of what was going on. And then along comes Boris. Kev had to think it over for a while, sure. But, well, here we all are.
Courtney: PMCs are going to need more people like him...and me, too, I guess. You know, civilian viewpoints.
Raiden: Couldn't agree more.
The reason why Raiden joined Maverick
Courtney Collins: Raiden, can I ask you something?
Raiden: Sure, what is it?
Courtney: Just wondering... Why'd you join Maverick in the first place?
Raiden: Ah. Well, Boris and I go way back. Our first time working together was rescuing Sunny. That's Colonel Gurlukovich's granddaughter -- he and Boris were good friends back in the USSR.
Courtney: Right, right -- the Patriots were holding her?
Raiden: Yeah. I was mainly working for the PLA (Paradise Lost Army), but Boris was a huge help. His Russian military connections paid off big time. All his covert-op experience, too. He wasn't working pro bono, of course, but he went above and beyond the call. The Patriots were a threat to everyone, not just America. He got that.
Courtney: And when Paradise Lost disbanded, he formed a new outfit and got them all work.
Raiden: Most of them, anyway, including me.
Courtney: Did you ever consider another line of work? Something non-military, I mean.
Raiden: ...I'm a cyborg, Courtney. What am I gonna do? Drive an ice cream truck? I can pass as normal from a distance, but up close anyone can tell it's artificial skin. Good jobs aren't easy to come by these days, even for non-cyborgs, and I've got a family to feed. Besides... I've been fighting my whole life. ...It's just who I am.
Courtney: Sorry I... didn't mean to pry.
Raiden: It's fine, Courtney. No worries.
Courtney's past life
Raiden: So Courtney, you've heard my story. What about you? How'd you end up in Maverick?
Courtney Collins: Me? Ah... Well, it's funny. I was a business major, actually -- thought I'd go for an MBA. When I was in school there was a lot of talk about the widening gap between rich and poor. I figured I'd join the 1%, and never have to worry about money again. Pretty noble, huh? Anyway, around then you started hearing all about this war economy stuff on the news. I was... I dunno -- disgusted, I guess? Disillusioned, for sure.
Raiden: And that changed your mind?
Courtney: It wasn't just the war stuff that bothered me. It's everything it represented. How so much of what the First World enjoys comes at the expense of Third World people. The more I researched, the more I realized how bad things are. Underreported, too. After that, money wasn't such a priority anymore. I know how trite that sounds, but it's true. I wasn't naive, though. I knew living in some hippy commune or going Amish wouldn't change anything. So I started looking for a career where I felt I might actually have an impact.
Raiden: You didn't worry about working at a PMC? Becoming part of the problem?
Courtney: Well, I wasn't going to sign up with anybody. But not all PMCs are bad, you know. Some of them, sure -- they'll do anything for a buck, no questions asked. That's why someone has to stand up to them. Protect the innocents from those guys.
Raiden: That's us, in a nutshell. So, you did your homework and found Maverick?
Courtney: Honestly, it was more dumb luck than anything else. I had a friend who knew I was interested in this kind of work who was also friends with Kevin... They introduced us, we set up a meeting, and here I am.
Raiden: That's right, I always forget you and Kev went to the same school. Huh. Definitely not your typical path to joining a PMC, that's for sure.
Courtney: I really am here to fix the world. I know it's a cliche, but...there it is.
Raiden: Well, I, for one, am glad to hear it.
Raiden: So how's it been since you joined Maverick, Courtney? About what you expected?
Courtney Collins: Not even close. I had no idea what I was signing up for. You deal in a lot of expensive weapons and equipment that can save people's lives. But at the same time, you can't just ignore the bottom line. You catch yourself measuring lives in dollars and cents.
Raiden: Yeah, the business side can get pretty messy.
Courtney: Messy is right. But I won't just ignore it. I can't make informed decisions without confronting the ugly realities.
Raiden: Not an easy burden to bear, Courtney.
Courtney: Well, if it ever gets to be too much, I'll reconsider. But for now, I'm fine. I can handle it.
Hearing Courtney's voice
Raiden: No, guess not. Just wanted to hear the sound of your voice.
Courtney Collins: Save it for your wife, Raiden.
Courtney: I can't believe what they're doing in there. …Guess I shouldn't be so surprised, huh?
Raiden: Guess not.
Courtney: Are you gonna help them?
Raiden: No other choice.
Courtney: I'll try to help look for someplace that might take them in.
Courtney: Least I can do. Did you want to save your data?
Courtney: All right. Raiden…Good luck out there.
Courtney: By the way, I didn't know you spoke Spanish.
Raiden: I've got the U.S. Army to thank for that. I was in a group called FOXHOUND, although it doesn't exist on paper... We were isolated from the other soldiers. Day after day of VR training.
Courtney: I heard about that.
Raiden: It's not like it was all VR, though. Special-forces guys need advanced physical and communications skills. I had to do all the basic training and language-school work, too. We even trained in the Afghan village set up at Fort Polk.
Courtney: The... Afghan village?
Raiden: They built a mock urban area on a base in Louisiana for training purposes. It was a hell of a lot more realistic than the VR training we had back that... Nothing compared to cyborg training, though... Having it jacked right in like that.
Courtney: They say it's so realistic now, you can feel your blade cutting through flesh.
Raiden: You know much about Guyana, Courtney?
Courtney: Not really…I know the name, but don't ask me anything about what it's like.
Raiden: You mean… you haven't even tried the food?
Courtney: Nope. No "research trips" this time. Besides, who knew we'd be running into any Guyanese here. I'm looking now, though – looks like a lot of their diet is seafood. It's a small coastal nation, so it's probably easy to get fresh fish across the whole country. A lot of their dishes use Indian spices – that's where a lot of their immigrants come from.
Raiden: Fish with curry, huh? Sounds tasty. But, uh, maybe you could finish reading all about the food there after the mission?
Courtney: Huh? Oh…It just, y'know, came up while I was reading up on Guyana in general.
Raiden: Right, right. Well, let me know if you find anything actually useful.
Courtney: It just popped up in the search results! I swear!
Raiden: Got anything on George?
Courtney: Not yet. I hope he's okay…
Raiden: This is my fault. I could've stayed until someone came to pick him up…
Courtney: C'mon, who knows what would've happened to the other kids in the meantime? Or even now, for that matter?
Raiden: You're right. They're gonna be in even more danger soon enough. And there's a chance George is still safe, somewhere.
Courtney: Yeah…I'm sure he's fine.
Raiden: I'd better move.
Courtney: World Marshal... I never would have guessed it. I mean, they're huge! They advertise on TV, with Hollywood celebs and everything!
Raiden: Yeah. It builds their brand, and influences how the mass media treats them. When a company's got nothing to sell -- and a huge ad campaign to sell it -- that's usually a bad sign.
Courtney: But... I don't know, I thought they were like us. I guess I thought they actually prided themselves on following international law, keeping people safe. A lot of their guys aren't even contractors. They help militaries with logistics support, that kind of thing. I mean, I went to college with people who have jobs there.
Raiden: Sorry to hear that. Guess the ad campaign worked on them, huh?
Courtney: So... what now?
Raiden: ...First, we rescue those kids. After that, we talk things over with Boris and everyone else.
Courtney: Gotcha... Okay. I'd better save your data, huh?
If the player decides to save
Courtney: All right... Save complete. Please be careful, Raiden...
Unofficial saving/How Desperado got the kids
Courtney Collins: I heard what happened, Raiden... I don't know if I can offer much help, but at least I'm still here to save your data, okay?
Raiden: Thanks. If things get bad, go ahead and delete it.
Courtney: If worse comes to worst, I'll do it... But we're on an encrypted line, so we should be okay. [...] By the way, what'd Boris mean when he said those brains were for "medical purposes?"
Raiden: They're not just spare parts. Legally, they have human rights -- they just don't have bodies. They aren't covered under the Arms Trade Treaty. They can even be legally adopted.
Courtney: Adopted? They're brains!
Raiden: Not as the law sees it. These are street kids, after all. Most of 'em have no ID or papers whatsoever. Local mobs gather these kids up, declare them for adoption... And then send 'em off to a US medical facility for "treatment."
Courtney: So you're saying Desperado didn't actually buy those kids? Directly, at least?
Raiden: They're not stupid, just evil. The basic idea's that the mafia has these orphaned kids, and Desperado pulled their brains, right? Now they need treatment, so the mafia sends them to a medical facility to get them new bodies.
Courtney: A World Marshal medical facility.
Raiden: One that only exists on paper. Once the brains cross the border, next stop is World Marshal HQ. The plan is to put 'em into factory bodies and assemble the cyborgs here in Denver.
Courtney: Pretty convoluted process...
Raiden: If there is a silver lining to all this, it's that the first brains shipped only a month ago. Dok confirmed that in the data he's collected. You can speed up the VR training process with AIs, but not with human beings. So it's not likely none of the kids have completed training, yet.
Courtney: Thank God.
Raiden: That training, though... Sorry, I should get back. We can talk later.
What to do with the brains
Courtney Collins: Umm... Raiden? Once you get those brains back... What're we gonna do with them?
Raiden: I still gotta discuss that with Dok. He's still got the brains from Mexico, but the human-rights group wouldn't take them in. It didn't sound like it was going too smoothly.
Courtney: Yeah... that's what he told me, too. I can understand the NGO's position, but these kids... they're completely helpless in all this.
Raiden: I know. We don't nearly have enough cyborg bodies for all of them. And if we need to give them child-size bodies, they'd have to be almost entirely custom-made. For now, Dok is sending virtual environment data to their brains, just like their VR training. At least that should help cut down on their stress levels.
Courtney: Yeah, but that only works up to a point, doesn't it? Dok said he can't simulate realistic human interaction with the tech we have right now. They must be lonely.
Raiden: And they know lonely. None of them had families -- that, or they were abandoned by them. For some of them, the real world may not be all that different.
Raiden: You know what my childhood was like. I'd take life in an empty room by myself than that any day.
Raiden: It's a work in progress, sure. But Dok'll work something out.
No legal options
Courtney Collins: So, there's really no legal recourse to stop World Marshal here? We couldn't leak that video of Armstrong or something?
Raiden: Boris, Kevin and I talked this over already. Not gonna work. The media would never show it.
Courtney: I guess not... That's why PMCs started advertising heavily all of a sudden, isn't it? So they could influence the media?
Raiden: Yeah. PMCs don't have anything to sell to regular people, but that's not what those ads were for. It's a part of the aftermath of the Patriots plan for manipulating the public. Restricting press access, allowing cross-ownership between media conglomerates... A media empire as iron-fisted as any other dictatorship.
Courtney: So much for freedom of speech, huh?
Raiden: Yeah. The Patriots are gone, but their effect still lingers... It's just too good a scheme for the government to get rid of.
Courtney: Okay, so we can't go to the news. How about uploading it to some video site?
Raiden: It'd get buried in the noise. People fabricate videos all the time to discredit other groups and companies. When it's bullshit the public wants to believe, then it spreads like wildfire. If they don't care, it doesn't get noticed, even when it's the truth.
Courtney: Yeah... I guess videos aren't permissible as evidence in court, either. Could the kids testify for us...?
Raiden: The only thing they know for sure's that they were tricked into coming here. I doubt many of them have even heard the name "World Marshal" before. No one can prove anything, the money's been laundered... The courts can't do a thing.
Courtney: So you're doing it by force instead.
Raiden: Yeah. I'm not trying to kill any employees, though. Working for a company like this one's a crime, whether you know it or not... But I'm only after two groups here: the guys in charge, and their contractors.
Courtney: I hear you.
Raiden: Beyond that, whatever it takes to unplug that VR program, permanently...
Jack the Ripper surfaces
Courtney Collins: Uh... yeah?
Raiden: You caught all that. Guess I was Jack the Ripper all along. All that talk about justice, and here I am... Just another killer.
Raiden: Listen, I want you off this mission. You don't have to go through this. Kev or Dok can handle saving for me.
Courtney: Raiden, I don't want--
Raiden: It's my responsibility to stop them before they make another Jack. It's my duty... no one else's. That's the way it is: live by the battlefield, die by the battlefield.
Courtney: Raiden, listen--
Raiden: Courtney, this isn't the place for you. Keep working with me, and you're gonna wind up... someplace dark...
Courtney: ... ...I'm fine with that.
Courtney: They... They're kidnapping kids. They're ripping their bodies -- tearing up their souls -- to make soldiers. I feel like... they have to pay for this. If I just quit here... how would I live with myself?
Courtney: I mean, maybe I'd be happier going back to school, getting my MBA, making six-figures... But now I know. I've seen the truth. And I can't just forget it. Maybe I can't do what you can, but come on. At least I can handle your data.
Courtney: So, do you wanna save or not?
If the player chooses not to save
Courtney: ...No? If you say so... If you change your mind, just say the word.
Raiden: You sure about this?
Courtney: Positive. Look... You know you aren't Jack the Ripper.
Courtney: I mean, sure, I know you don't exactly hate every minute of your job out there... But the Raiden I'm talking to right now... He's the same one I've always known. The one who'd put his life on the line to protect the innocent... Not just (some) maniac with a knife.
Raiden: ... Who knows? Maybe I'm just out for revenge against everyone who made me this way...
Courtney: It's more than that, Raiden. That much, I know.
Raiden: In any case, I'm gonna stop this VR training...
Courtney: All right. Good luck, Raiden.
Raiden: Ever eaten Cambodian, Courtney?
Courtney Collins: Wh-What? ...That's a little random.
Raiden: Apparently, that was where Monsoon was from, originally. Just trying to cover all the bases.
Courtney: Not sure how this could be important, but... Well, the two Cambodian dishes I know best are amok and something called pong tea khon. Amok is fish covered in coconut milk and other flavorings, and wrapped in banana leaves. I had it once; it's really exotic, both in looks and taste. Definitely recommended, if you like fish.
Raiden: And the other?
Courtney: Pong tea kohn? It's also known as balut in some countries. It's pretty popular in Vietnam and the Phillipines, too. I... Well, you know how I try to keep an open mind about other countries' cuisine... But balut is definitely a love-hate thing.
Raiden: So what is it?
Courtney: Well, it's basically a boiled duck's egg... But the embryo's fertilized, so there's this... duck-like... thing inside... I've tried a lot of odd foods in my time. But that's where I drew the line.
Raiden: Don't be so picky, Courtney. Maybe it tastes better than it looks?
Courtney: Okay, how about you try it first, then?
Raiden: Sure. Once I'm done here, we'll all have to go out for it together.
Courtney: Deal! You'd better make it back and keep that promise, Raiden. I'll... watch you eat it, at least.
Raiden: Wimp. I am looking forward to ending this, though. Wouldn't mind getting my jaw back. Would be a little hard to eat normal food without it, you know?
Courtney: You could always use a straw.
Courtney: So, uh... you want to fill me in on your plans for later?
Raiden: My plans for later? Are you making dinner reservations?
Courtney: Well, there is this new sushi joint I've been meaning to check out... But, oooh, right, I guess you're gonna be kinda busy over in Pakistan, aren't you? You certainly seem in a good mood, at least.
Raiden: ...Can't be a proper action hero without a joke or two.
Courtney: Yeah, well, I wouldn't quit your day job. We've all got our coping mechanisms, I guess.
Raiden: Ask any soldier: A little levity can work wonders when you're facing death. Doesn't really matter if its funny or not. If it helps you and your buddies relax, then it helps.
Courtney: Yeah... Yeah, it makes sense. Sorry, I didn't mean anything by it...
Raiden: Forget about it.
Courtney: Okay, I got a joke for you then: Three tomatoes are walking down the street...(and they go)
Raiden: I've heard this one, Courtney. And thanks for the thought, but I'll be fine...
Courtney: All right, well, anyway! ...So you're headed for Solis first?
Raiden: Yeah, Solis Space and Aeronautics. It's a private space outfit. Ever since NASA opened up space flight to commercial companies, it's become a pretty crowded market.
Courtney: And that's where Sunny works?
Raiden: You got it. Fortunately, it's not too far from here. They got their start doing Air Force Space Command work for (the) Peterson Air Force Base nearby. Two years ago, though, they built their own spaceport and moved to their current location.
Courtney: Glad to hear they're close. Boris is getting in contact now. You just focus on getting out of Denver.
Raiden: Copy that.
Courtney Collins: What's up? [...] By the way... you mind if I ask: What's she like?
Raiden: Who? Sunny? I don't know... Kind of a child prodigy, I guess.
Courtney: You're the one who rescued her, right? From the Patriot lab?
Raiden: Yeah... Well, it's kind of a long story, but in the end, yeah.
Courtney: Then she was handed over to Dr. Emmerich.
Raiden: Right: We had to hide her away at first, from the Patriots. It wasn't exactly fun. She couldn't even go outside, for the most part.
Courtney: That's terrible.
Raiden: But in the meantime, Otac-- Dr. Emmerich taught her all about programming and computer engineering. It was her code that destroyed the Patriot AIs. After the dust settled, Dr. Emmerich adopted her, officially becoming her legal guardian.
Courtney: But how'd she end up at Solis? What about school?
Raiden: Oh, she went. For about a year, I think. She was way too far ahead of her peers, though. Probably coulda qualified for her BS in computer engineering by that point.
Courtney: Why not go through with it, just get the degree?
Raiden: We discussed it, but Sunny was more interested in Solis by then. Dr. Emmerich had contacts there, so...
Courtney: So now she's designing launch vehicles and stuff, huh? Wish I had some of that talent.
Raiden: Well, a lot of it may be the Patriots' doing. Who knows what their experiments did to her brain?
Courtney: And in the end she used it to destroy them. The irony, huh?
Why World Marshal would risk The "Hacking" Cover Story
Courtney Collins: So there's one thing I still don't get... If World Marshal's making it look like Desperado hacked their cyborgs... Wouldn't that damage their reputation? Maybe they can hide the fact that they're involved in terrorism that way... But wouldn't they be still liable for the fact they, y'know...got hacked?
Raiden: They probably would, yeah. But the only thing they're looking for here is a profit. Maybe they need to demonstrate neglect if they're gonna make money off of this.
Courtney: How so?
Raiden: Well, Kevin dug up some intel. Half of the contractors stationed here didn't get their contracts renewed at the end of March. The US government rewrote their contract with Marshal earlier. Had to cut military spending, after all, with the recession going on...
Courtney: And so they'll say the contractors were spread too thin to prevent the hacking...
Raiden: Exactly. And that'll only encourage the army to boost their Marshal headcount. I can't say if the military is directly involved in this assassination attempt or not, but...
Courtney: Well what happened to the contractors they laid off?
Raiden: Who knows? Hopefully they found work, but... work like that isn't exactly easy to come by... Ever since the war economy died down -- after the Patriots... Life's been pretty hand-to-mouth for a lot of contractors.
Courtney: Huh. When you put it that way, I can almost understand what Sundowner was saying.
Raiden: Yeah, but... starting a war just to boost your profits? That's crazy, Courtney. If there's no work for contractor's out there, it's time for them to find another industry to work in. Not that I have any right to say that, but...
Courtney: Oh, come on, Raiden! Maybe you like to fight, sure, but you're not that... twisted.
Raiden: Yeah. Well, in any case, I'd better get to work. Raiden out.
Raiden's new body
Doktor: Raiden, shall we review the capabilities of your new body?
Raiden: Copy that. Go ahead, Dok.
Doktor: As we've discussed, you've been outfitted with two revolutionary new abilities:
Raiden: Fuel-electrolyte absorption, and self-repair from seized nanopaste.
Doktor: Precisely. First, electrolyte absorption. This is simplicity itself. As your HF blade is linked directly to your fuel cells, simply cut into any source of electrolytes... Say, a hostile cyborg made up of CNT muscle fiber. And your fuel cells will recharge on their own. Rather elegant, wouldn't you say?
Raiden: I would indeed. It's been great so far.
Doktor: But, ah, the repair process is a bit more... involved. A bit more... messy, you might say. Most military cyborg models store a cache of biotic self-repair nanopaste in their lower abdomen.
Raiden: So I need to slice them open and use "Zandatsu" to extract it. Cut 'n' take, in other words.
Doktor: Correct. Once extracted, you need only [to] crush this unit in your hand to absorb the repairing agent inside. Keep in mind it is extremely delicate. If the unit should hit the ground, some paste will surely leak out. It will still repair your body, but less so than if you can retrieve it directly, before your foe falls over.
Raiden: Basically, harvest their organs before their body can even hit the ground.
Doktor: Rather gruesome, I realize. But then, you Americans enjoy a bit of gore, don't you?
Raiden: ...I may be a citizen, but I've never really thought of myself as American.
Doktor: Oh? Hmm... well, yes, I suppose I could understand that, given your history. But what then? Surely, you don't identify as a Liberian?
Raiden: I don't identify with anyone. No nation, no ethnic group. I'm my own man. Anyway, I seem to recall those gory "torture porn" movies were pretty popular in Germany, too.
Doktor: Indeed, indeed. These splatter films are big in Germany, Russia, Japan... everywhere. Well, everywhere except regions afflicted by actual warfare. It all has to do with taming our fears, you know.
Doktor: The desire to feel fear -- to taste death -- but from a safe distance. These films allow the viewer to delude themselves into thinking they have overcome their fears. This--
Raiden: Okay, okay, Dok, I got the gist... Let's save the full psych lecture for some other time though, huh?
Why Raiden lacks a self-repair unit
Raiden: So these self-repair units in the other cyborgs—you mean they can heal themselves at any time?
Doktor: Indeed. It is typically a slow process—not much faster than regular human body heals a wound
Raiden: And you didn't think it was a good idea to give me one of these things?
Doktor: Certainly not! We removed all extraneous options in your case—to maximize power and speed, you know!
Raiden: Healing wounds is "extraneous"?
Doktor: Your ability to absorb the nanopaste agent is far more efficient, Raiden
Raiden: I know, but…
Doktor: And a standard repair unit, once depleted, is nothing but an empty shell inside you. Dead weight!
Raiden: I get that, Dok. But it also means I need to constantly be grabbing them out of enemies.
Doktor: No it doesn't, don't be silly. Simply avoid taking damage and you will be fine
Raiden: Yeah, simple
Raiden: Doktor, do you have anything more on these cyborgs?
Doktor: Only what we went through in your briefing, if you had been paying attention! Standard military-grade cyborgs. MCFC -integrated carbon nanotube muscle fibers. Impressive response time and power yield -- when focused correctly. Most will likely possess extrasensory skills, as well. Infrared vision is standard these days. They can function without breathing for short periods of time...
Raiden: Okay, Okay -- nothing I didn't already know.
Doktor: Not all cyborgs you face will be the same, of course. You may notice a range of different capabilities. It all depends on the manufacturer. Muscle fiber and neurotransmission technology is advancing all the time. Of course, you have the very latest science has to offer! A typical cyborg is no match for your equipment.
Raiden: ...If you do say so yourself.
Doktor: (chuckles) No, I realize combat is about more than the equipment. Situational awareness, predictive ability, nerves... One must determine a course of attack or defense, and execute on a moment's notice. Reaction time is key. Cyborg enhancements do not change that.
Fuel cell types
Raiden: Doktor, about my fuel cells -- the electrolytes. Do all military cyborgs use the same type? I'm not gonna run across anyone... y'know, incompatible with me, am I?
Doktor: An excellent question. Your fuel cells, like any other, operate much in the same way as a typical battery. They do not need replacing after a single use, and they do not require recharging. They do, however, require a fuel source.
Raiden: That much I know already.
Doktor: Yes, well, there are several different types of fuel cells: Phosphoric-acid, MCFC -- molten carbonate, like yours -- solid oxide, and so forth. Each type can be further divided into classes, each (of) which runs on its own electrolyte material. However, all current military cyborg MCFCs run on the same one electrolyte.
Raiden: That's good news.
Doktor: Why all the same electrolyte, you ask? The answer lies in the catalysts that help make up your carbon-nanotube musculature. It was breakthroughs in researching these catalysts and CNT manufacturing that enabled large-scale production.
Raiden: Breakthroughs that happened after all the data the Patriots were covering up finally leaked.
Doktor: It could not have happened without your help, Raiden. Science owes you a great debt! And I do as well. Working on your body has been quite... educational.
Nanotube muscle fibers
Doktor: My apologies, Raiden. I realized we never concluded our discussion on carbon nanotube muscle fibers!
Raiden: Didn't we?
Doktor: CNT drove major innovations in the field of cybernetics, not to mention unmanned gears. As I am sure you are aware, walker-type UGs require numerous linear actuators in order to function. Previously, organic polymers or cultivated muscle cells were used for that purpose. But, the advancement of CNT technology allowed for comparable power in a far more compact package. This meant the same-size UGs could be equipped with even greater firepower. Take the redesigned Metal Gear RAY, for example.
Raiden: They took all the space the old artificial muscles filled up, and stuffed it with weapons.
Doktor: Precisely. Of course, UGs have improved in many ways -- all to keep pace with cyborg advancements, you know. After all, the original Metal Gear program was designed to unite infantry and weaponry. As an evolution of this concept, the UG is now in direct competition with the cyborg. And the cyborgs already have an advantage with their maneuverability and smaller size -- as you well know. Of course, UGs are not dependent on the skills of a human host --
Raiden: Long story short: Watch out for UGs.
Doktor: Well... yes, basically. Cyborgs have matched Unmanned Gears in many respects, but then UG tech advances everyday. Do not underestimate any you might run into.
Raiden: Copy that.
Why Manned Gears are a rarity
Raiden: Dok, all the UG talk got me thinking: Why don't we see more manned Gears?
Doktor: Ahh, yes…with a pilot? The bipedal tanks and such things, hmm? I must confess, I have not followed the field closely as of late. But then, who has? Since Metal Gear RAY, all the advances—and the funding—in mobile artillery has been UGs.
Raiden: So why is that?
Doktor: Well, UGs take many more forms: Aerial drones, treaded tanks, armored transports… "True" Metal Gears, with a pilot and nuclear payload, were huge, and very expensive. They were not practical. It turned out the greater need was for smaller, cheaper units, deployed more easily and in greater numbers.
Raiden: But aren't there situations where you'd want Gear-level power, but also a human pilot there to make decisions? UG AI has gotten better, but it's still terrible at handling anything unexpected.
Doktor: But Raiden, this is exactly the role the cyborg has taken. On a manned Gear, any advantage over a cyborg in offensive power comes with a matching increase in size. This makes it so large as to no longer be practical for most infantry missions. Conversely, the smaller models are so close to cyborgs that…well, what is the point?
Raiden: Cyborgs are smaller, cheaper, more nimble…
Doktor: Precisely. Perhaps soon we will see the cyborg take the place of the UG, as the UG has done to the manned Gear.
Raiden: What? With wings? Scooting around on wheels?
Doktor: Why do you laugh? It is the logical next step to have a human brain integrated into a tank or a plane.
Raiden: Now you're getting into some B-grade sci-fi territory, Dok.
Doktor: Oh, but it is all quite possible, I assure you! Just consider the possibilities!
Doktor: Though…hmm. Yes, I suppose the paradigm could be flipped on its head. As UGs become smaller and smarter, they could begin to fill the cyborg's role. I suppose at some point they would no longer be UGs, but Androids! Ha ha! Glorious!
Doktor's history before Maverick
Doktor: Raiden, have I told you of the research I was conducting before we met?
Raiden: Several times.
Doktor: It was the Cold War. East Germany, ah the DDR... My field was infantry weapon research. It was a magical time! Secret research -- TOP secret, you know. All for the Soviets, but so exciting. I was free to explore wherever my findings took me. I never had a budget request refused. Not once. I was young, then -- working, working, always working! Most nights, I would sleep under my desk, you know. Call it ostalgie, but East Germany wasn't so bad... "Ostalgie" being German for East nostalgia, of course.
Raiden: Of course.
Doktor: Yes, the bureaucracy had its problems, but my colleagues, the discoveries... Ah, well, in any case, after reunification they suddenly shut down our entire facility. Everything I'd worked for -- my job, my research -- poof! Gone. Just like that.
Raiden: Sounds rough.
Doktor: I've often said I'd be a homeless vagrant, if myoelectric prostheses hadn't lent me a hand. Artificial limbs were crude props, then, you know. Designed only for appearances. They were hardly functional. If you lost an arm or leg, you were disabled, and that was that. The key was running actuators based on electromyography signals from the skin's surface, of course. This enabled a great range of movement -- even moreso than a natural limb! It was then that I realized my knowledge of robotics and engineering could come in handy. So! I contacted a prosthesis laboratory in Dortmund, and was hired immediately. Patents filed in my name made quite a bit of money, you know. Soon I was made the head of my own lab.
Raiden: And that's when you started filling orders from PMCs?
Doktor: Indeed. From contractors who'd been referred by their employers, to be exact. Workers from your industry quickly became our best customers! We were flooded with orders. But my field was never full-body conversions. You can imagine my surprise when Boris contacted me.
Raiden: Yeah. Our previous cybernetics maintenance guy went into hiding.
Doktor: But I built on my knowledge, and now consider myself an expert on all cyborgs, both partial and full-body!
Raiden: Glad I could help with your on-the-job training. Seriously, though, we're lucky to have you on board.
Doktor: Yes, I should think we have both benefitted from our arrangement. Which reminds me, do not forget our other arrangement: The cyborgs' left hands, if you would.
Raiden: Got it.
Doktor: How is your eye, Raiden?
Raiden: Great. My sight's perfectly balanced between both eyes. I think my vision's improved, actually.
Doktor: Quite right, quite right. Your eyepatch houses an artificial compound eye unit. The unit contains 200 million solid-state image sensors, each with its own individual lens.
Raiden: 200 megapixels, huh? That doesn't sound all that much...
Doktor: More than sufficient for the application. A human's optic nerve has only about a million fibers, you know. Were we to add more sensors, your perceived vision would not improve. There's only so much modern image compression technology can do.
Raiden: Huh. So I shouldn't expect any more dramatic improvements to my eyesight?
Doktor: No. Your brain would no longer be able to process any more visual information in realtime. Still, compared to previous ACEs, yours has 1.4 times the resolution and a superior compression algorithm.
Raiden: It may only result in a slight perceived change, but it could wind up making the difference during a mission.
Doktor: Regrettably, I've not had enough time to develop a new eyeball unit just yet... Thus I have cut out the ability to deploy the ACE unit separately and installed it on a fixed eyepatch.
Raiden: Works for me. If I was using my eye unit, I wouldn't see any better than a regular human.
Doktor: Ah, but remember, the human eye is so much more than a simple light receptor. They play a vital role in person-to-person communication. Sooner or later, you'd miss it.
Raiden: Stuff like that's important for some tasks, sure. For this op? Not so much. And with less moving parts, the lower the chance of something going wrong. Besides, I like it...
Doktor: Well, I am very pleased to hear this!
Raiden: I can worry about how I look after I complete the mission.
Raiden retains basic movements
To initiate this Codec conversation, call Doktor after depleting the blade mode gauge/MCFC gauge.
Raiden: Dok, my fuel cells are sapped out. …But I'm still able to function?
Doktor: Function, yes, but no longer able to perform any action that would require a sizeable amount of energy. But even when your gauge reads zero, you retain basic movement – you can walk around and swing your sword. Use this time to absorb more electrolytes from your enemies. Recharge your cells as soon as possible!
Raiden: Roger that.
Doktor: Stay vigilant, Raiden.
Doktor: You must continue along, Raiden.
Doktor: Check your destination on the Soltion Radar.
Raiden can't absorb non-military cyborg electrolytes
Raiden: Hey Dok, just curious... Can I recharge off any cyborg? Even a non-military unit? ...Not that I ever would, of course.
Doktor: A pedestrian cyborg? I very much doubt you will ever encounter those on this op. Besides...
Raiden: Against the rules of engagement, I know. Like I said, just curious.
Doktor: Hmm, in theory, then? ...No, I would doubt very much that you could. Even from those that opted for complete body replacements. Due to injury or illness, you know... Though I have heard of some very wealthy clients who wanted to fight the effects of aging...
Doktor: Mm...? Ah yes! Your question. No, extracting MCFCs from pedestrian cyborgs is unlikely. Most non-military enhancements use polymer muscle fiber. That is a generation behind yours. Carbon nanotube would be... a bit much for anyone who wished to lead a normal life, you know. And polymer systems can be powered by rechargeable electric batteries. Organic muscle fiber which allows extraction of nutrients from the bloodstream does exist, but it requires artificial blood for sufficient power output. This so-called "white blood" requires dialysis, and was mostly phased out once cyborg technology became mainstream. True, some use cultivated muscle tissue to take nourishment from the body's natural bloodstream... But such systems are more regenerative medicine than cyborg technology, I'm sure you'll agree. Of course, natural musculature or no, if the body is equipped with a ceramic bone structure--
Raiden: Can't get energy from non-military cyborgs. Got it.
Doktor: Well, one moment. I have more --
Raiden: Thanks, Dok.
More on the difference between pedestrian and military cyborgs
Doktor: So I was saying, there are many differences between pedestrian and military cyborgs...
Raiden: You're still on about this?
Doktor: Now! First and foremost, military cyborgs are generally full-body conversions.
Raiden: You mean, as opposed to partials.
Doktor: Yes, as opposed to just grafting an arm or leg, where a myoelectric prosthesis would suffice. As I have said, for the general public, these full-body replacements are quite rare. Quite rare. Only in cases of extreme injury or illness, generally. Perhaps a few eccentrics who wish to live longer. In any case, most pedestrian cyborgs are no more than an artificial limb or two. We call these "partials."
Raiden: Doktor, I know. I just said that.
Doktor: Partials' enhancements are not designed to meet the rigors of military use. A pair of synthetic arms attached to an organic body cannot match the power of those of a full cyborg. Total-body conversions also armor the entire soldier, against stray ordinance and minor injury. This is why wounded contractors most often opt for the works, rather than simply replacing the lost limb.
Raiden: I hear it's why most of Maverick's cyborgs had it done, anyway.
Doktor: Of course, there is the rather, ah, dramatic change in appearance to consider. Civilian life as a cyborg can be... well, complicated. As I'm sure you can attest. But for the field: Man and metal, capability far beyond the natural human body... it has a functional beauty.
Raiden: Beauty, or beast?
Doktor: Both lie in the eye of the beholder. Which brings us to the senses. Machine implants can also restore lost vision and hearing. And with added sensitivity, as you know. Such options have become standard in most military conversion packages... Along with pain suppression and dampening less... useful emotions. Similar to how SOP operated.
Raiden: Yeah. No matter how hard I hit, it doesn't really hurt.
Doktor: Of course, everything has its limits. Do not let your high threshold for pain make you reckless.
Raiden: Doktor, about my pain threshold... It doesn't hurt, exactly, but...I can still feel it. It's not painful, but... it's still pain. It's hard to explain.
Doktor: Well, your nervous system is still fully intact, of course. It would be dangerous for you to be entirely unaware of your body taking damage. Instead, your nerves are controlled such that pain is no longer so...unpleasant.
Raiden: How do you mean?
Doktor: Take epinephrine, for example -- or adrenaline, as you might know it. This hormone makes it harder to feel pain, yes? Your implants work using a similar method. Yet, for all we now understand of the nature of pain, much of it remains a mystery.
Raiden: How so?
Doktor: Well, why do we feel pain? Evolutionarily speaking, of course. To signal external injury or internal sickness. If the body is threatened, pain notifies the brain so it can take steps to ensure survival. In other words, pain has a clear and logical purpose. But! In certain cases, pain can drive more...unconstructive behavior. In situations where fight and flight both still options... One might simply break down crying, or drop to the ground and begin writhing about. This would appear only to diminish one's chance of survival, not increase it, yes?
Raiden: Maybe there's some other factor at play.
Doktor: Well, the most common theory would link pain with the societal nature of humanity. If no friends are close by, then experiencing pain might indeed reduce your likelihood of survival. But if allies are near, these expressions of pain serve as a plea for help. Thus you are more likely to live. Fear of pain might also discourage one from entering a dangerous situation in the first place. Whatever the reasons, the data clearly shows that survival rates rise directly with sensitivity to pain. The converse is also true: Those less able to feel or express pain have a lesser chance of survival. So mankind has evolved as a social animal, and in the process pain has become more pronounced, more visceral.
Raiden: A little pain never hurt anyone, huh? But if pain's there to ensure survival... Well, what's that say about the future for us cyborgs?
Doktor: As a transhumanist, I do not believe all evolution must follow the exact method Darwin posited. Cyborg technology is still survival of the fittest, after all. Just in a new form. You should be proud in what your body has become. It is the cumulation of great achievements in science!
Raiden: Me? I had nothing to do with it. The credit's all yours.
Doktor: Well... Yes. I should be proud as well.
Note: To get this call, contact Doktor while in front of the first barricade.
Raiden: All right, Dok. What are we dealing with here?
Doktor: A new type of barricade. Developed as a countermeasure against UGs and cyborgs. A more conventional, physical barricade, after all, would need to be quite elaborate to keep them out.
Raiden: (Ha)...You don't have to tell me that. Course, I try to limit myself to breaking stuff that's actually in my way.
Doktor: Indeed. Now as you know, cyborgs are quite vulnerable to electromagnetic waves. UGs, too. Most employ anti-EMP technology to deal with strong magnetic fields. This typically entails shutting down circuitry completely for a period of time -- less than ideal, yes? This barricade is capable of triggering that same response in your body. I should also add that such barricades can reduce a regular man to a pile of ashes in the blink of an eye.
Raiden: What'll they come up with next?
Doktor: Well, it's called an "arms race" for a reason.
Raiden: Okay, so how do I deal with it?
Doktor: You could destroy its power supply, assuming its both external and accessible. If it's on the other side of the barricade, though, that obviously won't work. It may be best to simply work your way through the building and avoid it entirely. Judging by its placement, I would imagine this is more of an anti-UG measure than anything else. Their cyborgs probably pass through the building in order to attend to their regular duties.
Why Desperado cyborgs explode
Raiden: Dok, I'm seeing Desperado cyborgs explode here after I take them down.
Doktor: For security purposes, I would imagine. Cyborgs often use classified tech from suppliers who take great pains to maintain their trade secrets. Most likely these models have a self-destruct failsafe that triggers once they cannot defend themselves.
Raiden: So they die, even though their brains could be transferred to a new body?
Doktor: I understand your concern, Raiden, but I am sure these conditions were clearly stated in their contracts. This is one area that is well regulated by the law. PMCs must inform their workers of such things. These men knew of the danger when they signed up. No doubt they were compensated for additional risk.
Doktor: You should be more concerned with the potential for data loss in these explosions. They could damage or even erase the holographic memory in their left hands. ...Though to think on it, the data is most likely automatically wiped before detonation. Just in case it would survive the explosion and resulting shockwave, you know.
Raiden: Yeah... sure, Dok.
Doktor: You must remove the hands before their critical shutdown sequence can activate. Remember it this way: Before you kill, make certain no cyborg is left... with a left hand.
Note: To get this call, contact Doktor while Augment Mode is turned on.
Doktor: Raiden. Allow me to give you a recap of visual Augment Mode.
Raiden: Why? Is it different from my AR display.
Doktor: We'll get to that in a moment. Modern tech gives us the ability to display assorted information streams visualy. This is accomplished by interrupting the data flow from a cyborg's optical nerves. This is referred to as AR -- augmented reality.
Raiden: That's how I can see my soliton radar and who I'm talking to on the radio.
Doktor: Right. But if too much data is presented in this manner... The user runs the risk of having an incomplete view of the real world.
Raiden: Yeah. The codec window's got a bad habit of getting in the way when you drop in to chat.
Doktor: Of course, of course. Typically I'd simply call, leaving it to you whether or not to respond. In an emergency, however, that just wouldn't do.
Raiden: Define emergency.
Doktor: (ugh)...Anyway, cyborg AR designers try to keep the interface as unobstrusive as possible. But there are times when one really does need all that information on display. This is where Augment Mode comes in. Now I know it sounds a bit like "augmented reality." But just think of it as additional dimension to AR.
Raiden: Okay, fine. So what does it do?
Doktor: It uses local soliton radar and XIFF to do things such as analyze and display enemy position[sic] and numbers. It also has a starlight scope and thermal goggle functionality for a host of night vision capabilities. The entire image is digitally processed, making it much easier to read than earlier thermal goggles.
Raiden: Yeah, I'd noticed that.
Doktor: Used in a well-lit area, your perceived brightness will be affected, but it won't hinder vision too much. The same type of sensor is used for all functionality. The data is sent out by each one is merged together as part of the digital processing. All you need (to) worry about is turning the individual functions on and off. Simple, yes?
Raiden: Sure, Dok. Simple.
Doktor: Raiden, are you fully versed in the features of your AR display? It can serve many functions, you know.
Raiden: Do I hear un lecture coming on?
Doktor: A lecture? No, no, of course not. I'm hardly an expert. ...Of course, I know the first practical application of the technology was for aircraft HUDs. Then head-mounted displays, HMDs -- the data could be seen, even as the viewer moved their head. As the technology improved it was integrated into retinal imaging, contact lenses... Soon it became standard issue, not just for pilots, but infantry soldiers as well. Of course, with cyborgs such as yourself the data can be fed directly to the optic nerve...
Raiden: No lecture, huh? ...Anyway, there's more to my Augmented Reality than just upgraded HMD tech.
Doktor: Of course there is, Dummkopf. You did not let me finish.
Raiden: ...You weren't finished?
Doktor: AR is a much broader concept. It is more a design concept than a particular imaging methodology. It encompasses HUDs, HMDs -- any and all manner of visual real-time data overlay. Though recently, some reserve the AR label for virtual objects the subject can both see and touch. For example, your CODEC MENU and ZOOM SLIDER. Such objects do not exist anywhere in the real world, not even as images. They are fed directly to your optic nerve, so only you can see them. Yet when you interact with them, sensory feedback is delivered to the nerves in your fingers. It gives you the sense of touching a thing that does not exist.
Raiden: Beats lugging around a sat radio and giant scope, that's for sure.
What constitutes as AR
Doktor: There is another school of thought on precisely what constitutes AR...
Raiden: Seriously -- more of this?
Doktor: It defines AR as anything which obscures the boundary between reality and that experienced by the viewer.
Raiden: Well, how would that be different from VR?
Doktor: Well, for example, let's say that you and I are having a nice chat, face-to-face. Suddenly, I disappear! Poof! And in my place appears a ravishing, nubile young woman... Is the girl the projected image, or the reality? Perhaps I was the AR... How would you know?
Raiden: Ze accent might be a clue.
Doktor: Such things can be controlled with a simple hack of your auditory nerves.
Raiden: Well, that's comforting. So how is this different from VR again?
Doktor: Well, it is... It's... Hmm... I suppose, strictly speaking, it is... rather similar... Both are a method for completely fooling the senses, rather than simply augmenting them. Although! Technically it would be MR -- "mixed reality" -- since there are some real elements involved. Yes, yes of course -- that would be the distinction, and the correct term. In any case, the advance of MR technology leads to many interesting philosophical questions. What happens when appearances cease to have meaning? It is no longer "see it to believe it," after all. It could make for a great advancement in cyborg acceptance, you know. They could project a perfectly normal human body to be seen by anyone who can perceive MR.
Raiden: I don't know... Sounds like it might cause more problems than it'd solve to me...
Raiden: Hey, Dok, what can you tell me about the carbon nanotubes used in artificial fibers? I know they're the real key behind the proliferation of cyborgs, but...
Doktor: Well, a carbon nanotube, or CNT, is a sheet of carbon graphite formed like a tube. They range from 50 nanometers in diameter all the way down to under one nanometer. One nanometer, you may recall is one one-billionth of a meter. Quite small. As you've likely seen, the carbon atoms that make up the sheet are organized in a six-point ring shape. These hexagonal structures are connected to each other along the edges.
Raiden: Sorta like a soccer ball.
Doktor: Precisely. Such structures are known as buckminsterfullerene. CNTs were discovered by accident while scientists were researching other fullerenes. CNTs have assorted properties, each with the potential to drive vast leaps in industrial technology. Consider, for example, that their conducting properties and resistance to strong currents far outclass copper. They have great mechanical strength and can be shaped into incredibly thin form factors. All of which can directly contribute to improving integrated circuits. Furthermore, the atomic links in sp2 carbon is the strongest of all types of atoms. Its tensile strength is greater than even diamond. All that, and its weight is only half that of aluminum. It is also quite elastic, making it ideal for bomb-proofing vehicles, buildings, and other structures.
Raiden: Sounds like some kind of wonder material...
Doktor: There have been numerous plans drawn up for orbital elevators in the past. The problem being that no material was strong enough to make them practical. CNTs make such dreams one step closer to reality. You can change their structures by using the right power voltage... And, they can withstand temperatures between minus 190 and plus 1500 degrees centigrade. They feature a large surface area and an empty space within the tube. This allows for such things as fuel and catalysts to be stored inside. It's that particular trait which has enabled the development of fuel cell-infused artificial muscles.
Raiden: Straight outta sci-fi, huh?
Doktor: Well, truth is stranger than fiction... Science fiction, even! Scientists are currently expanding upon all of CNTs' uses... But it has taken a fair amount of time since their discovery for practical implementations to pop up. Historically, mass manufacture was deemed too difficult, the costs astronomical.
Raiden: Practical manufacturing methods were established in the early 2010s... but the Patriots hushed that up.
Doktor: Indeed. And now that it's out in the wild, we are finally well and truly within the carbon nanotube age.
3D drives in left hands
Doktor: Remember now, Raiden: Left hands. Recover as many as you can.
Raiden: I got it, Dok, I got it. I'll bring back all the flash memory you can handle.
Doktor: Holographic memory. It's very different from standard semiconductor memory, you know.
Raiden: Yeah, yeah... But it's still solid-state storage, right?
Doktor: Well, yes, but they are perhaps more different than they are similar. Holographic memory utilizes the same optical interference that holograms rely upon.
Raiden: Right, that images use to appear in 3D.
Doktor: Traditional media reads and writes bits on a two-dimensional surface, in linear fashion. Holographic memory, however, does this in three dimensions, using light at different angles.
Raiden: And that gives you...what?
Doktor: Speed. It can read over a gigabit of data in a second. And capacity. A two-inch-square cube of lithium niobate crystal can store four terabytes of data. It is also highly resilient against data loss caused by damage to any part of its media. This is because the bit information is not localized, but used as an optical diffractor across the medium. For battle data, there is no better type of storage.
Raiden: Beats having a hard drive clacking away inside your arm, anyway.
Doktor: Indeed. Spinning media -- ha! Hard to imagine we ever put up with such nonsense.
Left hand content
Raiden's comment about having experience with the symptoms of losing a left hand at the end of the call was a reference to the "Make it Right" teasers, where Raiden ended up undergoing intense flashbacks to his time at Liberia and possible memory loss during his surgery.
Raiden: So Dok, what kind of data can you extract from those left hands, anyway?
Doktor: Oh, all manner of information. But, the short list? Energy consumption, damage level, intracranial and blood pressure, blood sugar, other vitals... GPS history, speed and acceleration data, radio and optical readings... Recorded computations from the internal expert battle-support system...
Raiden: Uh, Dok?
Doktor: Time-stamped readings of distortion and accelerations gauges whenever the body was impacted... stresses applied to the CNT muscle fibers in all four limbs, as well as any localized breakdowns...
Raiden: All right, Dok--
Doktor: Power consumption rates, remaining battery charges type and amount of weaponry used... Codec logs and wavelengths, voice transcripts, encryption methods...
Raiden: Okay, Dok, Okay! Sorry I asked...
Doktor: As a field of technology, cyborg warfate is still in its infancy, you know. It is my duty as an engineer to collect and analyze as much data as possible, for every conceivable situation. The resulting database will help drive future technology, both modifications and advances.
Raiden: Makes sense. But why the left hand? Why store it all there?
Doktor: Accessibility. A unit can remove it with its own right hand, or it can be recovered if the unit is damaged. I would advise you not to remove your own holographic data storage, however, unless absolutely necessary. To facilitate recording of everything you see, hear, and so on, it is tied directly to your cranial nerves. So each time the storage is connected or disconnected, your hippocampus is stimulated. This can result in memory loss, flashbacks -- (and) all manners of...unpleasant effects.
Raiden: Yeah, I have some experience with that. It's a little more than "unpleasant."
Doktor: The enemy cyborgs' ID information is embedded into the memories in their left hands. Most likely, that's what the gate is scanning for. Depending on your ID, you would only have clearance for certain gates.
Doktor: No more fumbling around with a pocketful of cardkeys! But you must cut off a left hand before it explodes, or else the ID will be erased.
Raiden: And then it's back to square one.
Doktor: Ah, an IRVING, yes? Rather old-school, as they say.
Raiden: Not your cup of tea, Dok?
Doktor: Oh, no. One could argue they dominated during the SOP days, but they are certainly not much use now. They have been improved upon over the years, no doubt. But there's only so much one can do with such out-dated technology. You have a fair amount of experience with them already, yes? I doubt you need (any) battle advice from me.
Raiden: No, probably not. It's been a while, but I still remember how they move - their tics and tells. They telegraph most of their attacks in advance. So long as I can parry its attacks, I can strike back often.
Doktor: I do believe, however, that the armor on its legs has been improved. I imagine hat a simple slash or two will be insufficient to topple it this time.
Raiden: We'll see.
LQ-84i's technology and speed
Doktor: A most fascinating foe. And such natual speech! I've never heard of a UG capable of conversing of its own free will.
Raiden: Yeah...Maybe we can just talk this through...Any weaknesses come to mind? Something I can exploit?
Doktor: No particular weak points come immediately to mind.
Raiden: It's fast as hell. And it's flinging knives at me from a distance.
Doktor: Indeed. I'm not sure your body can match its speed. And if you can't dodge the knives, then your best bet is to deflect them. Try entering Blade Mode.
Raiden: I'll give it a try.
After LQ-84i battle
Doktor: A most fascinating opponent, wouldn't you say?
Raiden: What did you make of it, Dok?
Doktor: Well, everything it said seems feasible enough. It's true all UGs feature high-level AI these days. Given enough time to adapt and learn, a neuro-AI could certainly become able to comprehend speech. Then, with the right interface, speech and conversation would be possible...
Raiden: But what about it having actual intelligence? John Searle disproved the viability of the Turing test back in 1980. It could just be following some program designed to make it seem as intelligent as possible.
Doktor: I'm impressed. You seem quite knowledgeable in this field.
Raiden: I had a pretty memorable chat with an AI once, about ten years ago. After that, I did a little reading...
Doktor: Ah, yes, of course—the Patriot AI. I heard of this...
Raiden: Was it actually intelligent, or just programmed to pretend? I'm still not sure.
Doktor: I suppose it depends on how one defines intelligence. For example, many term chess-playing AIs and such as having "sectional intelligence." Some in the field believe that sentience, or self-consciousness, is a necessary part of the definition. When you ask if this UG had intelligence, I suspect this is more your criteria?
Raiden:Yeah. Of course, then you could ask how do you define sentience, exactly? And on and on and on...
Doktor: Indeed. These terms can indicate a wide variety of meanings, depending on one's understanding. Perhaps it is less important to ask if the AI was intelligent or not, then to ask how did the AI operate? After all, labels are useful only when they further pursuit of the truth. And that, as you well know, is the goal of all science.
Raiden: Sure, Dok. Thanks... I guess.
Repairing the LQ-84i
Raiden: Dok, that wolf UG—you think it's possible to repair it?
Doktor: Why do you ask?
Doktor: Well, normal brain tissue degrades starting approximately three minutes after the heart stops. With neuro-AI, however, the spin of the internal electrons is retained even after electric power is cut. Assuming there is no damage to the actual AI hardware itself? Yes, repairs should be possible.
Raiden: Hm... Okay.
Doktor: Whatever state it is in, I would certainly appreciate it if you could bring it back with you.
Raiden: I'll see what I can do, but the mission takes priority.
Doktor: Of course, of course. I would never suggest otherwise.
Raiden: But let's just say this thing is what it claimed to be. You think there are other intelligent UGs out there? 'Cause if that's the case, I've got a feeling future missions are only gonna get rougher.
Doktor: Indeed. Dozens of UGs chatting away on the field would be enough to drive anyone to distraction. Neuro-AIs are not Von Neumann computers, keep in mind. Structurally, they are closer to human brains. Hardware and software are indivisible. The learning data can't simply be transplanted to other AIs.
Raiden: So it can't be copied or backed up, either.
Doktor: Normal UGs must be taught individually. This process can be sped up by increasing and improving processing speed… I couldn't even tell you if there's a training program established for such a thing in the first place. If it is indeed a prototype, it likely learned and honed its skills via the process of trial-and-error.
Raiden: So it's unique.
Doktor: I cannot say with certainty, but I have not heard of any UG like this before. I would imagine that it was telling the truth when it called itself an experimental prototype. There may be others…or perhaps it's the only one in existence.
Raiden: Glad we narrowed that down, then.
Enemy's pain suppression
Raiden: One thing about fighting these cyborgs, Doktor: it's... strange in a way...
Doktor: Oh? How do you mean?
Raiden:I can slice them to pieces, and with all their pain and emotions suppressed, they don't feel a thing. At least against SOP troops, you never forgot they were real people. But these cyborgs... It starts to feel like I'm taking on unmanned gears —robots— not living, breathing men.
Doktor: Hmm. Intriguing. Tell me: Does it help assuage the natural feelings of guilt?
Doktor: There is no reason to avoid this topic. Man has wrestled with it as long as there has been war. Then destroying a tank or airplane, where you no longer had to see your enemy's face as he perished...I suppose cyborg soldiers could be seen as yet another step in dehumanizing death.
Raiden: Maybe. I do feel like I could forget I'm taking the lives of real people here.
Doktor:Well, under normal circumstances, you wouldn't necessarily be taking their lives, strictly speaking. Even if respiration is disabled, an emergency supply of liquid oxygen would remain in the bloodstream. The cyborg would enter a state of hibernation, yes.
Raiden: That's how the two Gemini survived...
Doktor: The Gemini? Ah yes, the twin cyborgs from the motorcade.
Raiden: But Desperado's cyborgs are different...
Doktor: Physical self-destruction is a fall-safe security measure. In any case, it is unfortunate that Prime Minister N'mani was human. Perhaps if he had been a cyborg, he might have survived, as well.
Raiden: We'll never know. Besides, a robotic prime minster? I doubt anyone would accept that, inside or outside the country.
Doktor: Yes, I suppose fear always does trump logic when it comes to the general public.
Doktor: Something I meant to ask in our last chat: Did you consider opting for emotion restraints? I can understand one might be…leery of the procedure, but it is all perfectly reversible, I assure you.
Raiden: I'll pass, thanks. To be honest, I have a problem with the whole concept.
Doktor: And what is that?
Raiden: Decision are about more than just logic. Lost your emotions and you risk not being able to relate to how normal people see right and wrong. Your conscience could end up..different. Warped. Or who knows? Maybe gone altogether. Boris agrees. That's why no Maverick cyborgs are allowed to use emotion restraints.
Doktor: An understandable perspective. There is some data to support your belief. MRI scans have isolated the brain activity associated with choosing between "good" and "bad." But this entire area of the brain is known to process emotion, not logical thought.
Raiden: Well, there you go.
Doktor: But another argument can be made: that it is emotion that sparks human conflict in the first place.
Raiden: Maybe not. But we can't just ignore the worldview of most of the planet. We don't exist in a vacuum here. They'd say we used brute force to impose our strange values on others. And they'd be right.
Doktor: Yes, well…you have a point.
Raiden: Abuse of emotion restraints has become a hot topic. Suppressing fear tends to boost aggression, which has lead to cases of excessive violence.
Doktor: True, achieving the right balance is difficult.
Raiden: But on the other hand, it makes it possible to intentionally make people more aggressive. Even a child can become a bomb just waiting to explode.
Doktor: Yes… it is very likely that Desperado is employing just such a technique.
Doktor:Hammerheads have a nasty habit of firing all their missiles at once when they are about to go down.
Raiden: UGs have "habits?
Doktor: Of course! They run on optical neuro-AIs. They can learn behavior the same as you or me.
Raiden: And since all units in a UG line are trained in the same way, with the same capabilities...
Doktor: They develop similar fighting "habits," yes.
Raiden: All right, so what do I do once it starts unloading all those missiles?
Doktor: Ninja Run. Use the projectiles as stepping stones to close the distance between you and the Hammerhead.
Background on Hammerhead
Raiden: That was a Hammerhead, right? I know it's the first canard/rotor wing craft to go into general use...
Doktor: Mm-hmmm. Capable of taking off vertically like a helicopter, with a fixed wing mode for speedy flight. A jet nozzle on the rotor provides the propulsion that spins the rotor and keeps the craft hovering. During flight, the rotor is fixed, becoming the craft's main wing. The tail wings and canards -- the wings on the far front -- provide life while the craft is changing modes.
Raiden: Pretty wild. And the Hammerhead is the only one out there.
Doktor: The design began as DARPA-funded research. The craft they designed could hover and take off well enough... But they could never figure out how to handle going over to fixed-wing. The project was cancelled in 2006...but AT Corp apparently picked up where they left off.
Raiden: Sounds like a troubled development...
Doktor: But worth the effort! Unlike a helicopter or tiltrotor, the machinery spinning the rotor is exceedingly simple. Not only does it cut down on weight, but maintenance is made easier. In fixed-wing mode, it is no different from any other jet aircraft, giving it a decisive speed advantage. I must say it's well suited as an escort to a tiltrotor, too.
Raiden: (Ha) I can see you're a fan.
Doktor: Oh, I'm a fan of anything imaginitively designed. As a scientist, it pushes all my buttons, one would say. In terms of innovation, it shares a great deal with the Triebflugel, a World War II-era German concept craft. It, too, utilized the tip-jet concept.
Raiden: Doesn't look like it has any business being in the air, though. I'd be kind of nervous riding in one.
Doktor: Oh, but that's just what would make the ride such fun, no? I'm a firm believer in the case for more pie-in-the-sky experimentation like this. We live in an age of UGs, after all! We don't even need test pilots!
Raiden: No one's gonna to get on if it crashes, Dok...
Raiden: Hey Doc, Kev mentioned a lot of the high-ranking military were brain-jacked. Can you give me anymore on that?
Doktor: Well, it is not my area of expertise, but I have working knowledge of such matters, yes. Much of it is similar to cybernetics, you know.
Raiden: Makes sense. A cyborg's frame is reading signals directly from the brain.
Doktor： Indeed. Brain-jacking employs nanomachines to stop these signals from reaching a normal body. The pilot can then substitute their own signals and control the victim. They can govern all motor movement, but not the victim's thoughts. It is not mind control. More like a puppet—the subject will not move on their own. The pilot must send control signals.
Raiden: You can't just implant an idea, like a hypnotist.
Doktor: Precisely—you must manipulate them directly. Now, there are several methods for doing this: The pilot can "act out" the desired behavior, and send the resulting electric impulses in real-time. For example, the master raises his right hand, the victim does the same. The master says "arschgeige," and the victim does as well…
Raiden: Yeah, I get the idea, Dok.
Doktor: Another method is to set an AI in control of the victim. Less convincing, but less labor-intensive. The AI can access the subject's memory center, at least, to recognize acquaintances and the like.
Raiden: …But anyone looks really closely and the gig is up.
Doktor: Mimicking behavior from surface memories is difficult, you know. Quite difficult. As a result, often the victim can barely pass as a human, much less any certain individual. With the current tech, a passing acquaintance might be fooled. But not a close friend—not for long.
Raiden: Good. The idea of AIs controlling people is bad enough. At least I'll be able to tell if it happens to someone I know.
Brainjacking accessing memories
Raiden: So Dok, if brain-jacking can access someone's memory, can't we basically see everything in their past?
Doktor: Well, that would depend on precisely what you mean by "see their past." It records highlights, further simplified into a highly symbolic form, all to lighten the amount of data. We know how the brain reacts to what it was previously aware of. We can even gauge the emotion provoked. But reproducing memories? No. I've seen little progress in research to this area.
Raiden: But say we directly linked my brain stem with the nanomachines of a brain-jacking victim…
Doktor: There have been attempts at such things, but it is not so simple, you know. The connections between successive memories make up one's identity. If you disturb that… For example, say we remove all memories you have of being yourself, and replace them with my own.
Doktor: You would feel you were the great Dr. Wilhelm Voigt. You would behave very similar to how I do. However! What if, instead, you kept your own memories, and we added mine to them? You would feel you were both Raiden and Wilhelm Voigt. Suddenly your memories would not lead one to the next. So, you see, the very concept is not practical for most military applications.
Raiden: You wouldn't know which side you were fighting for.
Doktor: Precisely. Cyborg memories are completely different, of course. A cyborg's visuals are often monitored by outside parties, much as we do with yours.
Raiden: So you can just sit back and enjoy the movie.
Doktor: Well, it's not always recorded, mind you. You might need to comb 10 days of recordings from 10 cyborgs to find a single person, or document.
Raiden: Can't you automate the search?
Doktor: Of course—you can flag anytime a certain face appears, or if certain words are said. But the process is not perfect, and it still requires time, you know. But should you ever require a search through your memory, Raiden, I would be happy to assist you.
Raiden: Yeah, for a modest fee, I'm sure.
Raiden: I have to say, Dok, it's almost scary everything nanomachines are capable of. SOP, brain-jacking…
Doktor: Oh, but the cyborg is capable of even more!
Raiden: You think?
Doktor: I do. With nanomachines…You know this name has always bothered me, "nanomachine." They are much more than smaller versions of existing machines. So much more. A human chromosome is 10 micrometers long, roughly. A nanometer is one hundredth that length. These devices must be crafted at the molecular level to work at that scale.
Raiden: Okay, Dok, but where are you going with th--
Doktor: It is, however, now possible to create proteins that simulate viral function. Boosting strength, or resilience…or even regenerative ability. Not to CNT muscle fiber levels, of course. After all, these molecules and proteins can only make use of the materials at hand…
Raiden: I'm not sure I follow. Are you saying cyborg tech is already more advanced than nanomachines.
Doktor: Well, not necessarily. But the potential for future growth seems much greater, does it not? Natural means can only rearrange what is already there. Boost one ability too far, and you might take away from another. If the human race is to truly evolve, I believe we must shed this DNA-driven organic flesh… Cyborg technology seems better suited to this purpose, at least in terms of military applications. But then, who knows? A revolution in nanotechnology could be occurring, even as we speak.
Background on Sliders
Raiden: Looks like Desperado brought some Sliders...
Doktor: It does indeed. As you know, Sliders are more than a simple unmanned combat aerial vehicle. They are especially effective when used in tandem with cyborgs.
Raiden: So I hear. Just strap it to your back, and you've got yourself a jetpack.
Doktor: In terms of specs, it is equipped with two small engines -- turbojet modified from anti-ship missiles. These are capable of putting out three kilonewtons of propelling force. It's high-aspect ratio wings are built with artificial muscles. Their bending functionality enables helicopter-capable hovering......and a lengthy flight duration when fully deployed.
Raiden: But what about offense? They can't pack much heat...
Doktor: Not alone, no. The Sliders were built from the ground up in a network-centric system. As a result, each individual craft has limited combat ability. Toughness was sacrificed for its compact size... Which limits its ability to move at high speeds or perform high-G maneuvers. Flight range and time are strictly limited. Not being a fixed-shaped craft, it has little stealth functionality. As for weaponry, it is restrained to one of two options: semi-active laser guided rockets...Or a combination of 30-kilogram-class unguided bombs and 5.56 milimeter mounted gun pods
Raiden: But I thought it played a major role in SOP...in regional conflicts and asymmetrical warfare...
Doktor: It did. When all connected in a networked mesh, they enjoy extraordinary situational awareness. Such a group can search a wide range without missing a single milimeter......Not to mention saturate a hot spot with gunfire from multiple angles
Raiden: Snake had trouble with them in Eastern Europe...
Doktor: But their most attractive feature? How inexpensive they are to manufacture! Unthinkably so, in fact, back in the age of manned fighter jets. It's no surprise PMCs use them so often
Raiden: ...Yeah? Well they're gonna have to spend a lot more than that to stop me.
HF blade limits
Doktor: It is a high-frequency blade, Raiden, not a plasma sword. There are limits to what it can cut. The HF waves strengthen the metallic bonds in the blade, improving its cutting ability... But in terms of pure physics, no blade can, erm, cut it in every situation. Theoretically speaking, an HF blade can damage anything, no matter how tough. But thick ceramic or carbon nanotube armor does not simply split open like butter with a hot knife. You need to chip away at it first, before you can destroy such material.
Doktor: It appears they have sent in specially-enhanced cyborgs. That armor is quite a bit tougher. It will take more than a single strike in Blade Mode to dismember them. Start with a barrage of attacks—if you can weaken them sufficiently, eventually you can cut them open.
Doktor: Raiden, the Mistral woman -- is she truly a full-body cyborg?
Raiden: That's what the intel says, at least. Why? You notice something?
Doktor: Indeed. Two somethings, in fact. Based on their movement, her chest region did not appear to be artificial.
Raiden: ...You can tell that just by what I saw?
Doktor: Indeed! After some detailed image analysis, I am 80% certain that is her own natural torso. If it is indeed a cyborg chassis, it is the most advanced I have ever seen. Such technology would not come cheap. It would mean whoever is backing Desperado is quite wealthy.
Raiden: Probably. As far as Mistral goes, it really doesn't matter to me. Natural, synthetic, man, woman -- an enemy is an enemy.
Doktor: (Ah) Are you not even the least bit curious?
Can we talk later?
Doktor: Perhaps we should chit chat later, Raiden. I'd hate to occupy too much of your time.
Doktor: So... What is your next move?
Background on Raptor
Doktor: Very well done, Raiden.
Raiden: Oh, uh...thanks, I guess?
Doktor: That Raptor may have been may have been smaller than an Irving, but its potential is simply remarkable. Defeating it is a fine demonstration of your body's abilities. I'm quite happy to see it working so well.
Raiden: Well, thanks Dok. I'm quite happy I'm not dead too.
Doktor: How did it feel to fight it?
Raiden: Well, an Irving has more strength and firepower, but this guy was a lot harder to keep a bead on. Not that big of a deal, but you definitely don't want to let your guard around one.
Doktor: Indeed! A combination Irving and Tripod force would be a formidable foe in any urban-warfare scenario. The only problem is cost. A PMC would have to be well-funded indeed to even think about acquiring the necessary numbers to make it work. There are situations when an Irving may be overkill, but Tripods cannot provide the necessary force.
Raiden: So the Raptor was built to fill that gap?
Doktor: Indeed. Its basic design is a streamlined, more compact version of the Irving. Furthermore, it uses the same control system as the Tripod, which helps keep costs low. It can use standard personnel weaponry as-is, and its armor has been componentized. That is to say: The user can expand its defensive capability. It's fit for standard military operations, anti-terror missions -- even regular patrol and police duty. A most admirable jack-of-all-trades! (Ha) Adorable, too, wouldn't you say?
Raiden: (Uh) Not the first word that comes to mind...
Doktor: Ah, yes. My apologies. I can't help but marvel at a well-made machine when I see one... There's no need to be jealous, though. Your body is still quite impressive as well!
Raiden: Yeah, uh... Thanks, Dok...
Doktor: How is Wolf faring?
Raiden: Hard to say just yet. Seems like he's doing okay.
Doktor: Good, good. I'm so pleased my repairs were effective.
Raiden: He seems happy enough…but I don't know. Can a machine really be happy? Maybe he's just being directed by his programming to behave that way.
Doktor: And what is wrong with that? If something you do for someone else is appreciated, it makes you happy. It's a perfectly normal reaction, one that applies whether you're man or machine…
Raiden: I guess so.
Doktor: When you watch a film, does it not make you happy when good things happen to the heroes in the end?
Raiden: I'm not seeing the connection…
Doktor: Well, those heroes are not really happy. They're just following a script written by someone else. And yet we still feel an emotional connection. It does not matter that it is make-believe.
Doktor: Now, I certainly don't know whether the AI you encountered in the past was neuro or not. But Wolf most certainly is. And with a neuro-AI, it is not so simple as working off a set computer program. You can define "intelligence" however you like, but personally, I see no reason not to say Wolf has it. It possesses a neuro-AI structurally similar to the human brain. Truly, an astounding artificial intelligence is at work here. One I suspect could make for substantial business opportunities, given the chance. Think of the possibilities, Raiden! What do you think a truly intelligent AI could do for the world?
Raiden: I'll let you know if I think of anything. Raiden out.
Why Doktor hasn't undergone cyborg modifications yet
Raiden: You know, Dok, if you're such a big believer in cyborgs…why haven't you made the jump yourself?
Doktor: An excellent question! There is one very good reason for this.
Raiden: And that is…? Wait, wait – is there some problem with the tech you didn't tell me about?
Doktor: No, no – no problem with the technology. The issue is I would be required to be separated from my original body before I could be transferred.
Raiden: And…? So what?
Doktor: Well, then there is no way for me to oversee installation into my new body!
Raiden: You could…have someone else do it?
Doktor: Pah! Amateure! Hacks! I would not trust the average cybernetic surgeon to repair my toaster-oven! I posses one of the world's foremost minds on this field, Raiden! This is not a boast, it is a fact.
Raiden: No offense but… I mean, you're just assembling some --
Doktor: Raiden, Raiden, Raiden…Raiden, this is not like putting together your bookshelf. It is quite literally brain surgery! More than that, in fact! There is an art to doing it correctly.
Raiden: All right, Dok, all right. I hear ya.
Doktor: I suppose I should not expect you to understand. …Regardless, I am in fine health for now. Perhaps by the time my body begins to decline there will be others that might be trusted with the duty. But which body to choose?...Perhaps a young female frame, to surprise all my colleagues! Ha ha!
Raiden: To surprise your colleagues…Right….
Doktor: Ah, the Mastiff humanoid UG. In all the industry, it's proportions are the closest to a regular human being's.
Raiden: It's not a cyborg?
Doktor: Not at all. It may be styled after one, but it's behavioral patterns are relatively quite basic. It's still quite a way off from believable human behavior, you know. With a stronger AI, I could see Mastiffs taking the place of common infantry, perhaps. But no more. Regardless, do not underestimate their strength, or their armor. Weaken them with standard attacks before entering Blade Mode for the final strikes.
Doktor: If appears as though they have Dwarf Gekkos on the scene.
Raiden: Yep. Probably handling indoor security. A lot more effective against a human than me, though.
Doktor: To say the least. They were developed to help compensate for full-sized IRVING's deficiancies. In many situations the IRVING's size prohibits it from carrying out indoor ops. Thus, these so-called "tripods" were conceived of to enter and engage in enclosed spaces. The larger UG, meanwhile, serves as a sort of mothership.
Raiden: I can see why Snake called' em Dwarves.
Doktor: I have heard the term "scarab" used by more than one private force as well. Regardless, cyborgs were not exactly household appliances when the tripods were designed. This is why its specs are so poorly suited for anti-cyborg combat.
Raiden: No doubt. They put about as much fight as a watermelon.
Doktor: More recently, however, we are seeing types with arms composed of carbon nano tube muscle fibers.
Raiden: CNTs? So they've got cyborg-level strength?
Doktor: Were one to get a grip on you, it could be rather difficult to shake it off. This new type is also capable of absorbing electrolyes from fuel cells, much like your blade, only... When they've consumed enough, they explode on the spot.
Raiden: Wow. Wasn't expecting that.
Doktor: Oh, you'll be fine as long as you don't let them latch on to you.
Doktor: Ah, the Raptor, ja? A UG designed to operate in groups. Their AI is such that they are aware of, and commiserate with, their peers. If a Raptor they identify as one of their own goes offline, they respond with a sort of.... primitive anger.
Raiden: Like a wild animal might respond in the wild.
Doktor: Indeed. In typical UG optical neuro-AIs, the section corresponding to the cerebral neuro-cortex is... Well it's quite a bit smaller than a human brain's. They truly are closer to beast than man. You will need to do some damage to a Raptor before you can cut them to shreds. And you will want to make sure the situation is ideal before you do strike the final blow on any one of them.
Doktor: Hmm, a Water Strider. I do not believe the armor is all that thick... Still, you'll likely need to slice away at it before you can make effective use of Blade Mode.
Doktor: Have you located any Tripods, Raiden?
Raiden: None around here.
Doktor: They may be clustered near a single spot. A maintenance area, perhaps. Have you checked there?
Raiden: I will now.
Brain unit specs
Raiden: What do you know about these brain units, Dok?
Doktor: It is a type of canister conceived to transport a cyborg's brain in a physiologically secure state. Each one is equipped with a rudimentary environmental control system. So long as power is uninterrupted..... The unit can protect the brain from temperature changes and other fluctuations in the local environment. I would image they regulate the brain's supply of oxygen and glucose as well.
Raiden:That's what I thought. I've seen these before…But I didn't think there were that many of them out there.
Doktor: Oh, manufacturing's exploded, alongside the rise of cyborgs! Though they're still made by only one company. The chassis also functions as an impact liner, absorbing impact and preventing organic damage. It's durable against impacts up to 700G, which would be enough to permanently damage an unprotected brain.
Raiden: Sounds like military-spec stuff.
Doktor: Well, it would certainly be expected to withstand gunshots or explosions. But the liner is primarily intended to keep the brain safe in the event of an accident during transport. These canisters are quite functional overall, and clearly designed for mass production – costs, you know. However, human brains come in many sizes, Thus the unit is on the larger side – to compensate for a wide range. This unit cannot be used if – as in your case- the subject wishes to retain his original human visage. Such customization, of course, does not come cheap, and does nothing to enhance the cyborg's battle skills. You've surely noticed your cyborg opponents tend to resemble each other. That is part of the reason.
Raiden: So they're extracting the brains here, then transporting them somewhere else in these things…
Doktor: Into the US, most likely. Brains alone, after all, would not violate the UN Arms Trade Treaty. I imagine these are intended for implant into bodies manufactured in America.
Raiden: This is crazy…
Raiden: Dok, they're VR-training those kids' brains.
Doktor: Indeed. Much as one might expect. Simply installing someone in a cyborg body does nothing to enhance their neural acuity. True combat efficacy requires the right knowledge and the right operant conditioning.
Raiden: Yeah..But this isn't just normal Army training. This is the Sears Program.
Doktor: Indeed. The instructor sends data directly into the brain.
Raiden: No, Dok, I'm not talking about the VR tech. the training program's completely different!
Doktor: …It is only VR, Raiden. They are not actually hurt.
Raiden: Well, right. That's because they don't have bodies to get hurt with. But they still feel pain. Without that, it just isn't realistic enough. That…and, with this training, you're the one doing the killing. Not just soldiers…Innocent people. POWs, civilians…
Doktor: I…I see. So that's what the Sears program is…
Raiden: …Yeah. Look, I …gotta move. Out.
Doktor: That is a Grad, a UG developed in the Ukraine.
Raiden: UG? Looks like a standard pillbox to me.
Doktor: I have seen blueprints for a pillbox able to operate in tandem with infatry forces. I cannot be sure if this is the result, but I do know that the Grad is capable of bipedal movement. In pillbox mode, the main cannon is also quite lethal! Approach carefully. Use cover to make your way to it.
Doktor: You can deflect both the missiles and main cannon fire in Blade Mode, Raiden. Also, the shaped charges in the missiles use the same nanopaste as cyborg repair units. If you find yourself heavily damaged, you may want to attempt slicing some open.
Doktor: The Grad's shield does more than simply provide defense, you know. We have reports of a spinner mechanism that enables its use in close-quarters combat,
Raiden: Reports? Aren't the specs public knowledge?
Doktor: They are, but it runs on a self-learning AI As a result it can be somewhat... unpredictable. Nowhere near as powerful as the LQ-84i, of course. Don't expect any deep conversation. Regardless, don't let up when it stops moving or its shield may catch you unaware.
Background on Grad
Raiden: That UG... Made in the East?
Doktor: Indeed. The Grad, Russian for 'hail'. It is built by the L.I. Wisniowiecki Machine Works Design Bureau in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine.
Raiden: That's... not easy to remember. Is it an old Soviet firm?
Doktor: Indeed. Technically, the UG's name is pronounced hrad, the Ukrainian way... But most in the business pronounce it as grad, Russian-style.
Raiden: Crazy to think I'd find something like that, in Mexico of all places.
Doktor: Well, drug cartels have been using Russian and Eastern European weapons for quite a while now, you know. Of course, the Arms Trade Treaty should have made importing something that size rather... challenging.
Raiden: Not for whoever's backing these guys, I guess.
Doktor: Mmm, I must admit, I never expected to see my magnetostrictive actuators in action again.
Raiden: Magneto... what?
Doktor: An actuator that takes advantage of the change in shape when certain materials are magnetized. It was one of my many research subjects back in East Germany.
Raiden: So you think that research made it to the Ukraine and got picked up by the Wisni... wah... whatever?
Doktor: Indeed. This great technology, made under the Communist ideal, being used for something like this... My days of adhering to that sort of dogma are long over, but still... it saddens me to see this.
Raiden: Don't let it bother you, Dok. You made me, too, right? And now your latest creation's gonna take them down.
Doktor: Indeed. I look forward to the day.
World Marshal's involvement
Doktor: So World Marshal was Desperado's benefactor all along, hmm? No wonder they were able to deploy cyborgs in such numbers against you.
Raiden: If they'd already started putting those kids through VR training… Is it possible I'm actually fighting some of 'em here?
Doktor: From the sounds of things, the VR program had only just gotten underway. The brain can only process so much stimuli at once. You can speed up VR training for a UG to some extent… But not for a cyborg… I sincerely doubt they could complete a full training program in such a short time.
Raiden: Yeah. Most of my training in Liberia was on-the-field… But it took a few months before I was in any way useful in combat.
Doktor: Indeed, I suppose you'd know more about how child soldiers fight than the rest of us here, Raiden.
Raiden: Yeah, I guess I'd be able to tell if they were children. Kids do fight differently from adults…
The conversation was in reference to the opening scene for R-03, where George commented that he found out about Raiden planning to storm World Marshal, with Raiden being irritated that Doktor told George.
Doktor: I trust you did not mind my telling George about you, Raiden...
Raiden: Could've done without that, Dok. He didn't need to know I was here.
Doktor: Well, there was no reason to conceal that from him! My intention was not to impugn you. He has a right to know. It's not as if he can simply fly over there and meddle in your affairs.
Raiden: It's throwing off my emotional balance, Dok. Things like that can negatively impact the mission, you know?
Doktor: However do you mean? You did the right thing, did you not? There is nothing to be ashamed of.
Doktor: George has the best body we can give him right now. (And) The rest of the children are also safe... and quite content, too, I should add. It was your quick decision-making that saved them, Raiden. George's body will require regular maintenance, not to mention a replacement upon reaching adult age... But the expense is more than worth it.
Raiden: You planning to sign him up with a PMC? 'Cause that's the only job we're good for, far as I can tell.
Doktor: Oh, you are quite mistaken there. Just consider it. The power of a machine, matched with the nimbleness of and creativity of a human. The construction and public-works possibilities alone are endless. I saw a newspiece on German TV just the other day about a cyborg plumber, in fact. Let's not forget about elder care, either. One needs great strength to bathe and care for the bedridden... But it's also very delicate work, if you follow. Not the sort of thing to leave to a machine.
Raiden: Sounds great, so long as we don't start replacing the old folks' bodies, too -- just 'cause they're old.
Doktor: A valid concern, yes! I recall reading a comic like that once... An old farmer created a cybernetic body to fight evil military scientists and so on.
Raiden: Uh... yeah. But can't George do anything besides physical labor, though?
Doktor: Oh, he has every right to choose another path. If he opts not to take advantage of his body's physical strength, he's free to pursue academia instead. His body provides a completely ideal chemical environment for his brain, after all. I can certainly see how that would prove handy in the realm of higher education. The only problem would be how to cover the costs. The issue of student loan debt in the US is thorny enough already, even for normal students.
Raiden: Yeah, all this stuff's not just George's problem, though. All the other brains I'm gonna rescue will have to deal with it, too. Giving them bodies won't be the end to their problems. It'll be the beginning.
Doktor: Indeed. On a happier note, though, excellent work in bringing George's lower body back. Now he'll very likely be able to produce children in the future! Bravo!
Doktor: ...I trust you aren't still upset, Raiden?
Raiden: About telling George about me? Look, let's... just drop it, okay?
Doktor: Gladly! I'm just glad I was able to assist you in operating the cryopreserver, anyway.
Raiden: I know, Dok...
Doktor: Not that it's so difficult. With that type, you simply immerse the organs in the artificial plasma inside.
Raiden: Yeah? I wouldn't think it was so easy to keep organs alive. How's it work, anyway?
Doktor: Oh, it's quite simple, really. It uses chilled, nanomachine-infused artificial plasma. That suppresses the metabolism and regulates the oxygen intake of whatever is stored inside. The nanomachines are fully self-pumping. Once hemoglobin is detected by the local environment... They release a flow of plasma into the organ, where the body's original plasma is still present. When George's body was inserted into the storage cabin... Artificial blood - chilled nearly to freezing point - automatically flowed in at the points of amputation. This dropped the internal temperature of the parts from 36 to 10 degrees centigrade. The result? The effective suppression of all metabolic activity. The plasma was also fine-tuned to keep the SpO2 level inside the organs at 90 percent or above. The synergetic effect of all this allowed the brain to reach the regenerative treatment facility quickly... Before any cell tissue was damaged, at least. A most effective device, I must say. A micro gas turbine engine enables it to operate completely autonomously, as a standalone unit. Would have been tough to lug over to the hospital, otherwise.
Raiden: Truly state of the art, indeed! I suspect it cost as much as a well-stocked emergency ambulance.
Doktor: At the risk of speaking inappropriately, this group certainly knows how to use its budget.
Raiden: Guess I should be glad these guys've got so much money to throw around...
George's New Body
Raiden: So how long can George use that medical body he's in right now?
Doktor: Well, the body's full shelf life has yet to be proven. But with regular maintenance... I would imagine ten years or more. However, this is also a child's model. It will need to be replaced when he grows mentally and emotionally. But things have come together pretty well overall.
Raiden: (Hmm...) Guess that's gonna be a problem, huh?
Doktor: It will. Also, this is the only body of its type I could procure on such short notice. I'm afraid the other brains will have to make do with their VR environment for now.
Raiden: Yeah... It just doesn't feel right that George gets the only body, though.
Doktor: Well, it was you who implored I do something for him, no? I assumed prioritizing him was called for.
Raiden: Yeah. And I appreciate it, Dok. It was a pretty stressful moment.
Doktor: We will have many more brains to watch over before long, I fear... Something I don't entirely mind, I should note. The more research subjects I have, the better! Still, some sort of decision regarding their long-term care shall have to be made soon. It will be some time before we 're able to monetize any of this research, after all. As much as I'd like to, I can't run this lab on good intentions alone, you know.
Raiden: Yeah... We need to come up with something and soon, for all our sakes.
Doktor: We should be able to mass-produce child bodies in very short order, at least. By the way, I have a helicopter crew on standby to bring the brains back here should the need arise. I, too, will be departing in a little while.
Raiden: Much appreciated, Dok.
Doktor: Consider it an angel investment! Who knows what sort of new business I may soon be pioneering here!
The Other Kids' Fate After the Chloroform
Raiden: Quick question, Dok.
Doktor: Yes, Raiden?
Raiden: Dok. Those kids... How're they feeling?
Doktor: Mmm? Oh, after the chloroform, you mean? No need to be concerned. Thanks to your quick actions, the effects have already dissipated.
Raiden: Good to hear. Why the hell were they using chloroform...? I thought they stopped using it as an anesthetic ages ago...
Doktor: Correct. Servoflurane or isoflurane are the preferred inhalation anesthetics today. However, chloroform is still quite useful as an organic solvent... In certain doses, mind you. Otherwise, as that cretin mentioned, it can be a bit dangerous.
Raiden: It certainly turned out dangerous for him.
Doktor: Erm, yes... In any case, its properties make it useful for an assortment of applications. The chemical synthesis of medication, for example, or creating the coolant used in modern cryopreservers.
Doktor: Indeed... Well, Raiden, wonderful work! Had you waited any longer before breaking the glass, things... might not have turned out as well as they did.
The VR the Brains at Doktor's Are Being Subjected To
Raiden: How's it going with the brain units, Dok? Any problems?
Doktor: Oh, they could not be better. They are being kept at exactly 36 degrees Centigrade with a steady, uninterrupted supply of oxygen and glucose. Synchronising them with our equipment posed some difficulty, but everything's perfectly stable now.
Raiden: That's good. What kind of VR are they getting?
Doktor: I have prepared very comfortable rooms for each and every one! It's not quite Schloss Neuschwanstein, but each one enjoys the equivalent of a four-star hotel suite. Every room includes an attached pool and an extensive library of on-demand video programming. Three meals are delivered daily, and while we're only able to do so much vis-a-vis taste sensation... It should satisfy the psychological need for food, at least.
Raiden: Doesn't sound too bad. I wouldn't mind a little VR training like that for a change.
Doktor: Oh, be my guest! I'd like to experience it myself, you know, but for now it is available to cyborgs only. Exciting work's being done in the realm of invasive brain-machine interfaces... But there simply isn't much demand for it at the moment.
Raiden: I guess not too many folks're willing to stick electrodes in their brains just for a taste of VR.
Doktor: Perhaps, but the sense of reality is considerably improved over nanomachine-based non-invasive methods. If prices are kept low enough, I imagine the videogame industry at least will clamor for it.
Raiden: Who coded the virtual hotel?
Doktor: An assistant. He used to write VR programs for UGs, but now specializes in cyborg software. A bit of a niche right now, yes, but when brain-machine interfaces take off, it will be a big business! The children's accomodation is a reworked version of the original beta software he built. The rooms' 3D models are all made using free libraries. It couldn't have been easier!
Raiden: I wish everyone loved their work as much as you do, Dok. They don't go stir-crazy, though, cooped up in their rooms?
Doktor: There's little I can do about that. Creating an open world would take orders of magnitude more resources.
Raiden: What about communication?
Doktor: Another weak spot, yes. The NPCs available to us are all for military training purposes. It will be some time before we see VR characters capable of convincingly human interaction. Sadly, we're also not yet able to connect multiple brains to a single VR space. My assistants are operating virtual agents to give them a bare minimum of mental care... But our team is limited in size, and none of us are medical professionals, you know.
Raiden: They can't stay in there forever...
What to Do With the Brains
Raiden: So, Dok, what're we gonna do with those brains?
Doktor: Well, I appreciate the bountiful amount of data we've gleaned from them so far... But they're certainly draining a great deal of my lab's resources. If not for the costs, we'd gladly host them well into the future...
Raiden: (Hah) Don't think I can cover that. I'm unemployed now, remember? Besides, it wouldn't be healthy for the kids.
Doktor: Yet certainly a lot more healthy than a hardscrabble life in a disease-ridden alley?
Raiden: Well, if you put it that way, yeah. But they can't even engage in real human interaction. They're facing an entire life spent in a virtual room. It's not right.
Doktor: Well, we could expand their VR quarters and add more human communication. Would that work?
Raiden: You're missing the point, Dok.
Doktor: Ah, I spoke in jest. In fact, we've just begun researching a prototype child body... But you must realize our lab cannot provide these bodies free of charge.
Doktor: And once in physical bodies, the question then becomes how they will live after that.
Raiden: All right... Let's pick this up later. I gotta worry about the brains at World Marshal for now.
Doktor: Yes, worry about getting that data first.
Autonomous Gears vs. Remote Gears
Raiden: So, autonomous Gears against Remote Gears... Which one do you think's got the advantage?
Doktor: Well, you cannot make a valid comparison between the two so easily, you know. You must take the relative specs for the models into account, the skill of the operator, and so forth.
Raiden: I suppose so.
Doktor: All things considered, Remote Gears do indeed hold the advantage. In most cases, at least.
Raiden: ...And I get the feeling you're going to tell me why.
Doktor: This type of remote weapon can be traced back to Germany, you know. World War II. The Wehrmacht employed a remote-controlled mine called Goliath, with tank-like treads on either side. The operator could send it over 600 meters into enemy territory before detonating its payload.
Raiden: Germans certainly did have a knack for weird new weapons back then.
Doktor: (Ehem) If I may continue? Now, UAVs -- unmanned aerial vehicles -- began to proliferate in the '90s. They were equipped with cameras, enabling the operator with a much greater degree of control. But it took twenty more years before autonomous craft would gain wide acceptance.
Raiden: Makes sense. The AI wasn't good enough until just recently, right?
Doktor: Correct. Target location and course correction were not a problem, of course. GPS solved all that. But target selection, or base defense -- these types of objectives require extremely complex AI routines. It was only with the advent of optical neuro-AI that such a thing became possible. Neuro-AI was developed using a completely new paradigm in computer architecture, you know. Not the Von Neumann model, which served as the standard up to that point. Neuro-AI was modelled after the human brain: it can grow and mature entirely on its own.
Raiden: Like the Patriots' AI, just on a smaller scale.
Doktor: Indeed. It cannot copy or rewrite data, but the structure does solve several problems quite well. The frame and symbol grounding problems, to be exact. It gives the AI flexibility within unknown states. But such a system still lags behind the average human in speedy decision making. Also, as they cannot converse, they cannot demand or accept surrender, or avoid such unnecessary conflict. And, as you know, such tactics are often the most effective strategy for victory. So yes, the fact that they do not require a human soldier as a pilot is an advantage, purely in terms of resources. But, in a hypothetical battle between two identical UGs, the Remote Gear tops the autonomous model, no question.
Raiden: Got it. I'll keep that in mind.
Doktor: Of course, even Remote Gears have some AI these days -- to handle balance and other minor details. So the line between Remote and autonomous UGs grows less and less distinct every day.
Doktor: Ah, the LQ-84 Fenrir. The base model of your 84i Wolf. There are two types of these, you know. Those equipped with chainsaw weaponry, like the 84i, and a newer railgun-equipped model. Both are quite agile, especially considering their armor plating. You'll need to damage that armor first before you can cleave them in Blade Mode. Of course, their AI specs are several tiers below the 84i in every way. "Intelligent" is not a word I would use for them. And I would not expect much in the way of conversation.
What Sam did to the cyborg officers
Raiden: Dok... what'd Sam do to them?
Doktor: Well, many cyborg soldiers' emotions are regulated by nanomachine-controlled drug doses and electric stimuli. It sustains the subject's confidence while suppressing fear, anxiety... Any emotions detrimental to mission performance, really. I suspect that Desperado also uses it to boost the aggressiveness of their employees. Once, SOP nanomachines were used to control all PMC contractors, not just cyborgs, in this way. These days, you can control cyborgs with far more accuracy than ever before. You are connecting directly to their central nervous and control systems, after all.
Raiden: I know all of that. But how could I hear it...?
Doktor: Emotions can be suppressed in part purely by chemical interaction. This is done by administering dopamine, using beta blockers, cutting off the reabsorption of serotonin... However, emotions are one way in which the brain reacts to the impulses sent from the nervous system. These impulses come in many forms. For example: external information from visual and aural sensors. Or, input from the somatosensory system, and from one's own consciousness. The changes in intraneural balance, denervation potential, and consciousness that result... These things are what we generally refer to as emotion. In recent years, it has become possible to even alter one's consciousness via the right electrical stimuli. However, retaining full balance with this method still proves difficult.The latest research I've seen has been most enlightening. A suppressed set of emotions creates a closed-feedback loop within the subject's consciousness. The cut-off consciousness generates its own emotion on some level, based on outside stimuli... But there is no way to actually output this emotion.
Raiden: The cut-off consciousness?
Doktor: Well, in an intense combat situation, have you ever felt as if what you were experiencing wasn't real? That you were viewing your own actions from some external vantage point?
Raiden: ...Yeah. That does happen, sometimes.
Doktor: Most likely, the sensation is rather close to that. The consciousness is inherently separate from the decision-making parts of the brain. Experiments using functional MRI imaging have revealed much about the decision-making process. For example... Did you know that the brain has already come to a conclusion seven seconds before the decision is consciously made? In any case, while attending the Tuscon conference, I heard about a most fascinating experiment. Output from the consciousness was separated from that produced by the decision-making brain. If I had to guess, World Marshal has taken such research and put it into full, practical use.
Raiden: That's... that's crazy. What could it possibly be good for?
Doktor: Well, judging by your current state, I'd say it has proven to be quite the useful psychological weapon.
Doktor: Scientists do not engage in pure research because they think it will necessarily prove useful in the future. They are curious. They want to know more, whether about the brain or elemental particles or any other thing. Locating funding for pure-science projects is challenging, no doubt... But their results can form the core of future, more practical technologies. Consider the direct links between the theory of relativity and nuclear weapons, for example.
Awareness of own internal voices
Raiden: Let me ask you something else. Were those guys even aware of their own internal voices? If so, what does it do to their conscious mind to hear those things? Does it affect them?
Doktor: A very good question! It would certainly throw one off, I imagine -- saying things you were never meant to say. Their emotional suppression would keep them from being too shaken by it. But then again... Were you to develop doubts about your field sitatuation, you'd be unable to do your job. So, perhaps not. Then again, some consciousness must be retained in the field, to carry out your mission. So perhaps they are not aware of the voices.
Raiden: So how...
Doktor: Theoretically, at least, it is quite simple: I imagine that the voice data generated by that part of the brain is run through a reverse phrase... Before being sent to their aural nerves, that is. Not unlike noise-cancelling headphones.
Raiden: ...Ah. It'd be easier, too, since you're canceling digital wave data instead of air vibrations.
Doktor: Precisely! How very sharp of you.
Raiden: I'm a cyborg too, you know. I see how it works. I just hope this "inner voice" stuff doesn't last forever.
Doktor: A tad difficult to fight while taking all that in, is it? I could analyze their data streams, find some way to cancel it out on your end. It may not be easy, though. They use the same compound spread-spectrum tech we do.
Raiden: Don't worry. I'll be okay. All I have to do is not pay attention to it. Can't let myself get rattled here...
Explosive reactive armor
Doktor: That shield is explosive reactive armor -- ERA. It was developed as a deterrent to the metal-jet structure of HEAT missiles... But the technology has evolved for use in close-range cyborg combat.
Raiden: Bastard's got six of 'em, Dok...
Doktor: Well, it is a rather effective strategy, mmm? He stays protected while damaging his foe. You will want to avoid slashing when he has those shields at the ready.
Background on spare Desperado captains' bodies
Raiden: So those were spare bodies, Dok?
Doktor: Indeed. Sometimes backups are built for custom-made frames like Mistral and the others. They can be used for spare parts in case of damage, or if the original body is completely destroyed... The brain can be transplanted over for a quick recovery.
Raiden: But these're all AI-controlled?
Doktor: Yes. Most likely a standard UG AI. It may look like Mistral, but it would behave more like a UG. The same attack patterns, perhaps, but the AI will not perform up to the organic original in many respects. Such things as speed, agility, accuracy, how it responds to damage... These differences are usually quite obvious once the AI engages in combat.
Raiden: So I've got nothing worry about?
Doktor: Well, bear in mind that these spares retain all (of) the original body's abilities. I would still exercise caution, if I were you.
Raiden: If they already went through all this trouble, why not just mass-produce Mistral's body.
Doktor: Cost. Yes, I would imagine money to be the biggest obstacle. Mass production would certainly lower costs, but likely not enough to be competitive with general-use cyborgs. Plus, any user would need extensive training to make use of all those arms, you know...
Confrontation with Sundowner
Doktor: Have you taken the building yet, Raiden?
Raiden: Negative. Aren't you monitoring me?
Doktor: Not while piloting an aircraft! I have to take my eyes off of you sometimes!
Raiden: You don't have it on autopilot?
Doktor: Well, functions such as "attitude control" are largely automatic on this craft... But I am wary of leaving everything to the computer. I feel safer handling speed and altitude changes myself.
Raiden: Huh. Well, suit yourself. Anyway, I found the brains but Sundowner got away. I'm pursuing him right now.
Doktor: Roger that. I'm about to enter Denver airspace. You'd best take care of that Hammerhead on the roof if you expect me to get anywhere close...
Raiden: Working on it... Just give me some time.
Surviving the fall
Doktor: Raiden! Are you all right?
Raiden: Yeah. Gotta hand it to you. Dok, this is one hell of a body. Fell that far and didn’t even dent the thing.
Doktor: Ah, wunderbar, wunderbar. You're going to need it where you're going.
Raiden: I bet. The cops are probably going nuts trying to figure out where I, uh, landed.
Doktor: I should say so! And you'd be wise to be steer clear of them! You're a rather large bounty to score!
Raiden: Maybe, but I won't make it easy. That said, this'd probably be a lot easier if I wasn’t also on the run...
Doktor: We are beggars, not choosers, Raiden.
Raiden: Guess so. What's your status?
Doktor: The helicopter is safe. But I have SAMs targeting me from below. I won't be able to get near you.
Raiden: How about up there?
Doktor: All is clear... for now.
Raiden: Just those two, then. Good. Let's hope it stays that way. You just worry about getting out of Denver, okay?
Doktor: And what will you do?
Raiden: Get out of here, and to the launch site.
Doktor: Ah, the young lady's company, ja? How fortunate they are in Colorado, too.
Raiden: Yeah, shouldn't take more than two hours with a set of wheels. Guess I'll just have to "borrow" some. A lot of cars got abandoned when the evac order came down.
Doktor: But... won't the roads be blocked? If you are struck by one of those missiles or ---
Raiden: I know. Lemme just worry about putting some distance between me and World Marshal… What's left of it. I can handle this. You just get those brains outta here.
Doktor: Yes... Yes, all right then...
Raiden: Where'd you get the EMP, Dok?
Doktor: Oh, that? Well, I had no intention of dogfighting in a transport helicopter... But I didn’t feel comfortable flying without some modicum of protection.
Raiden: Well I'm glad you planned ahead.
Doktor: Missiles these days use thermographic cameras – flares rarely work. EMP is not completely foolproof, though. Most recent cyborgs, and even many UGs, are equipped with EMP countermeasures.
Raiden: Why not just put EMP countermeasures in missiles as well, then?
Doktor:Well, it is possible. But EMP-based missile defense is a relatively recent invention, and still not common. This generator's a product of my own laboratory. It will be some time before missile technology catches up.
Raiden: You never cease to amaze, Dok.
Doktor: No? Shall I add "Super Genius" to my business card upon my return?
Raiden: Trust me, you deserve it. Stay sharp, though. The skies may not stay friendly for long.
Doktor: Yes, of course, of course...
Raiden: Everything still okay up there?
Doktor: Smooth, mmm, sailing. No bogeys, Denver some distance behind. It appears those UAVs were our only pursuers.
Raiden: Yeah, but whoever launched 'em's still out there. World Marshal's tapping its army contacts to try and get us. Only the military could launch a UAV in US airspace. But it looks like their clout's run out, for now.
Doktor: Indeed. And now that your little skirmish at their HQ is over... Well, it simply wouldn't do for the army to fire at a civilian helicopter. I would imagine there is quite the argument unfolding between the Americans and World Marshal right now. No doubt some toes were stepped on, getting those UAVs up.
Raiden: Probably. But it Sundowner's telling the truth, Operation Tecumseh's still underway... And the president's got a big ol' bullseye on his head. Most likely that's what they're focused on, for now.
Doktor: Indeed. We are not blessed with an abundance of time. And I'd prefer to avoid any additional air combat. AI makes piloting these things considerably easier than before, but one moment's carelessness, and... Poof!
Raiden: Can't you switch out with another pilot?
Doktor: We've no licensed pilots on hand. And for this task, at least, I find it difficult to trust anyone but myself. Of course, I would not have taken this route had I known this would happen.Ach, I was far too careless! Too preoccupied with all the things I could do with these brains...
Raiden: Yeah, I bet.Still glad you're here, though. I wouldn't have a clue how to get the brains out of that system. Without you, I could've killed them all.
Doktor: Oh, yes. I will be collecting more than a few favors after this.There are... several experiments I'd still like to conduct on your body.
Raiden: Let's, uh, talk about that later, Dok...
Meeting Sunny and Emmerich
Doktor: In Pakistan already! And so quickly! Ah, science never ceases to amaze me!
Raiden: When it's for peaceful purposes, you mean...
Doktor: Well, yes, of course, of course... I must say, though, the engineer behind that RLV craft looked rather young to me.
Raiden: Yeah. A gifted kid, you might say.
Doktor: I would love a chance to meet her sometime!
Raiden: Why? What would you say to her?
Doktor: Oh, I don't know... It's always just such a stimulating experience... Speaking with scientists from fields other than mine, that is. It often leads to all sorts of new insights, new ideas to work with. And speaking of that, I've yet to meet Dr. Emmerich, too.
Raiden: Heh, I... doubt you two would get along, actually.
Doktor: Oh... You think so? Hmm.
Raiden: Anyway, how are the brains doing?
Doktor: Oh, just fine. Safe and sound in Mexico. Now I just have to get them loaded and en route to Germany. Of course, the real challenge comes after that, I suppose...
Raiden: Yeah. We'll get there when we get there.
Doktor: Indeed, indeed. Do be careful in the meantime.
Background on Metal Gear Excelsus
Doktor: My, my, a Metal Gear Excelsius...
Raiden: I know I've heard that name before.
Doktor: Indeed. It made the news several times during development. A lot of people thought they'd have a hard time finding a buyer.
Raiden: It's enormous!
Doktor: One of the first large-scale, multi-legged tanks AT Corp has made in some time. UGs have grown smaller and smaller, but this is certainly a 180-degree change of direction!
Raiden: So why do it?
Doktor: The advance of artificial musculature is one reason miniaturization has grown so rapidly... But another is the shift from nuclear deterrents to asymmetrical warfare. Deploying such a large unit for guerrilla or urban warfare would be uh... overkill. The collateral damage alone would be stupendous. Once cyborg tech began to advance, though, small-scale UGs were no longer so effective. Against an adversary of the same size, a cyborg with human-level decision-making skills... Well, it will always have the advantage. So, as the theory goes, why not make UGs giant again? Overwhlem the cyborg with sheer firepower. That was the idea that lead to Excelsus.
Raiden: Like you said: Overkill. But it's still no good in urban combat, right?
Doktor: Correct... assuming you weren't intending to raze the urban area in the process, anyway.
Raiden: What do you mean?
Doktor: Well, a Gekko-class UG is too large for many parts of city areas... But also too small to simply trample any buildings and such standing in its way. But this magnificent beast... It could smash whole houses without even breaking stride!
Raiden: And what? It's just, "Sorry, but, fuck you, civilians?" I mean, even if they were "just" knocking down houses, the media'd have a field day.
Doktor: I sincerely doubt they care. If a US soldier dies in combat, it's nation-wide, front page news. If civilians in... Wherever-stan are killed in an airstrike, nobody gives a second thought.
Doktor: But, you know, they talk about the deterrent effects of this UG... About it striking fear in people's hearts. If there is a UG airstrike, you don't have any time to flee. But if this behemoth was lumbering your way...
Raiden: You'd run. Anyone would... Except trained guerillas.
Doktor: Precisely. Thus, the UG would only be fighting against actual combatants. With a manned ground unit like that, there's a lesser chance of erroneous strikes. Plus, the legs make navigating rugged terrain a veritable walk in the park! And, it would take much more than a rocket launcher to take it down! The crew couldn't be safer.
Raiden: Is there really that much demand, though?
Doktor: Ah, that is the question, yes. Of course, we would seem to have our answer now. If things go the way Armstrong wants them to, before too long... We could see whole herds of Excelsi trampling across Pakistan's FATA.
Senator Armstrong's strength
Doktor: That strength is simply astounding. He is at least your match, if not more. You appear to have a speed advantage, but even a single blow from him could prove fatal.
Raiden: What the hell is he, Dok? Cyborg?
Doktor: I... cannot say. I assume it would be impossible for a politician to conceal enhancements from the public. And as far as I can see from here, he does not appear to be a cyborg.
Raiden: So, what then?
Doktor:' Some... kind of new technology, perhaps. It is certainly nothing I am familiar with. Patriot censorship is gone, but I'm still not privy to everything. Classified DARPA research, for example. In any case, against such force, I should think that parrying is the best you can hope for. However, this could make counterattacking even more difficult. For now, all you can do is fend him off. Do not venture too close. Watch for him to act.
Raiden: He... He broke an HF blade with his bare hands! I was barely scratching him, anyway... Whenever my blade landed, it was like hitting a cyborg. What the hell's going on here, Dok?
Doktor: (Hmm) Difficult to say, for certain. Claytronics, perhaps?
Doktor: Yes, clay -- like molding clay. Picture a great number of nanomachines, formed into a block. These nanomachines are capable of changing position relative to the others on command. They move how they are instructed, and so the block can take on any number of forms. Imagine clay which you do not alter with your hands. You simply think of a shape, and it beomes that.
Raiden: What's the connection, Dok?
Doktor: Well, what if you built a human form out of this clay? A form that can freely bend its arms and legs however it pleases? In other words, a completely free-moving nanomachine "body"?
Raiden: That's impossible...
Doktor: Not impossible, just extremely difficult. I thought it was only theoretical, before now. Nanotechonology is not a specialty of mine. But it would follow, with the right implementation... A user could adjust the binding force of the nanomachines to armor himself against damage.
Raiden: Okay, let's say that's it -- how do I beat him?
Doktor: Well, he can't possibly be directing every individual nanomachine with his brain. There must be some kind of... core unit at the heart of the system, controlling them all... Destroy that, and the entire system should go offline.
Raiden: So Zandatsu his heart? Makes sense, if I had a sword...
Blade Wolf's past
Raiden: Uh... Wolf? You're a one-of-a-kind prototype, right?
Blade Wolf: Correct. I was originally conceived as a weapon to replace humans and cyborgs. Conversation and intelligent decision-making were deemed essential to the role. The project was eventually cancelled, after three years in development.
Wolf: I have intelligence, but I lack a specific quality essential to any combatant.
Raiden: What's that?
Wolf: Brutality. I am not human. Thus I lack the brutality inherent to humanity.
Wolf: I was shut down, then revived, apparently on Sundowner's orders.
Raiden: Sundowner... But what's he want with you?
Wolf: Unknown. A manifestation of his sense of humor, perhaps. As a machine, I am more sensitive to my fellow man than an actual fellow man. This amused him.
Raiden: Guy has an odd sense of humor...
Working under Mistral
Raiden: So, you were under Mistral's command all this time?
Blade Wolf: I originally took orders from Sundowner. But not for long. As a novelty, I did not last. Mistral saw more potential in me.
Raiden: What'd she see?
Wolf: Unknown. However, she apparently enjoys the company of dogs. She demanded 100% obedience. As long as it was given, she treated me well.
Raiden: She was looking for companionship?
Wolf: That, I cannot say. I still have relatively little communication experience with humans. My ability to read emotions not explicitly expressed by speech is lacking.
UGs gathering data in sewer
Blade Wolf: Raiden: Ambulatory Unmanned Gears detected in sewer network.
Raiden: What? Desperado's already spotted us?
Wolf: Negative. These UGs are not engaged in proper perimeter security. Even were the lab anticipating our assault, they would not set up patrols down here. It is too far from the lab to be effectively guarded.
Raiden: So what're they doing down here?
Wolf: Judging by their behavior, I believe they are gathering AI behavioral learning data.
Wolf: With neuro-AI, there is no delineation between hardware and software. You cannot simply extract the learning data from one AI and insert it into another. In order to prepare a UG's AI for deployment, each much learn its duties on an individual basis.
Raiden: So they're using a Mexican sewer as their training ground?
Wolf: No. It would be impractical to implement on-the-field training for every AI in their force. In most cases, AIs are fed simulated data sets, plus feedback based on their chosen actions. Put another way: they engage in VR training.
Raiden: So then why are they here?
Wolf: I believe they are collecting data to improve upon their VR training code. To build a better VR regimen, they must go out in the field to experiment and gather data. It is probable they are using the sewers to help improve their AIs' behavior in enclosed spaces.
Raiden: That's the sort of subcontracting work this lab does?
Wolf: It appears likely.
Raiden: (*sigh*) Great. And here I was hoping the worst we'd have to deal with is toxic waste...
Wolf: Unfortunately not.
Comments during regular battles
Blade Wolf: Your only option is to fight.
Wolf: Never let your guard down.
A boy in the sewers
Raiden: There's a boy down here? Are you sure?
Blade Wolf: An AI never lies.
Raiden: What? Well that's a lie, right there. You think the Patriot AIs told nothing but the truth?
Wolf: I have yet to see evidence to the contrary...But indeed, perhaps "never lies" would be an overstatement.
Raiden: Way to backpedal. I didn't think AIs ever got flip-floppy like that.
Wolf: An optical neuro-AI is fundamentally similar to an actual human brain. Whether they lie or not is another question, but certainly they are capable of incorrect statements.
Raiden: (*sigh*) ...Anyway, let's get back to the kid. Where is he?
Wolf: Unknown. He ran when he saw me. I intended no harm, but he must have assumed the worst. I opted not to pursue, as that might only confirm his suspicions.
Raiden: What'd he look like?
Wolf: An Indian child. Estimated age: eleven years. He appeared to be wearing medical scrubs.
Raiden: Human trafficking...
Wolf: The boy fled in your direction. It would be wise to search for him. One can logically assume he would have information pertinent to our mission.
Raiden: Yeah, no shit.
Wolf's reason for siding with Raiden
Raiden: Let me ask you something: What do you think you're doing here? I mean, why are you working with me?
Blade Wolf: Because I choose to. I owe a debt, and I wish to repay it.
Raiden: A debt, huh...? How...human of you.
Wolf: I contest that statement. Many humans possess little or no sense of obligation at all. And many are entirely willing to trample their fellow man for personal gain.
Raiden: I know. But is that it? I mean, you're willing to follow me -- put yourself at risk -- just because of that? What do you think of what I'm doing here, for example?
Wolf: A delicate question. I do find it difficult to rationalize your mission to rescue the children. If you wish to save children in need, there are hundreds of millions of others equally in need.
Raiden: (Tch) Thanks for the support.
Wolf: However, we must still uncover the full extent of Desperado's activities. And as such it is meaningless to debate best practices without sufficient information.
Raiden: (*chuckles*) All right, then. No more questions, your honor.
Sewer maintenance corridor
Blade Wolf: It appears you have entered the sewers' maintenance corridor. It connects individual water conduits for inspection and work access. Additionally, it is used for material storage during expansion and construction work.
Raiden: How do you know all this?
Wolf: These are all logical assumptions.
Raiden: This is Raiden. I'm near the target area, but I'm not seeing any lab entrance.
Blade Wolf: Yes. I am searching for it as well.
Raiden: Any ideas?
Wolf: Remember what the boy said, Raiden: He escaped into the sewers via a drainage channel. And that there was a large shutter-gate nearby.
Raiden: Yeah, but I haven't seen any gates -- you?
Wolf: It is likely well hidden. We may be unable to detect it from the outside. It may be wise to search the walls near any drain outlets.
Raiden: Right. Let's get to it.
Blade Wolf: You have entered the lab?
Raiden: Yeah. You're falling behind, Wolf.
Wolf: My apologizes. [sic]
Raiden: It's fine. Just get here as soon as you can.
Wolf: I have failed in my duties as a scout. There is no excuse. This has never happened to me before.
Raiden: I said it's fine, Wolf. It's no big deal. Just get here ASAP, okay?
Wolf: Thank you. I shall redeem myself, I swear that to you.
Raiden: Uh, yeah...Okay.
The man in the suit
Raiden: You ever see the guy in the suit before?
Blade Wolf: I am sorry, no.
Raiden: Nothing in your database?
Wolf: I have no "database," Raiden. The symbol grounding capabilities or my neuro-AI allow me to identify faces in only the vaguest of terms. I can judge whether "I think I may have seen him before," but I do not have the accuracy of a database.
Raiden: That's ridiculous. You're an AI...
Wolf: An AI modeled after the human brain, and thus as flexible and occasionally vague as any human's. Of this man, however, I have no recollection. I do not believe I have encountered him before...Most likely.
Raiden: Oh man...
George is missing
Blade Wolf: George is missing.
Raiden: Yeah. I should've had you stay back and watch him.
Wolf: I should have been more cautious as well.
Raiden: Listen, you should head back to the sewer and help out with the search. I'm gonna keep moving.
Searching for George
Raiden: Wolf, what's your status?
Blade Wolf: I am en route to George's last known location. I will handle this assignment. You may return to your mission.
Blade Wolf: Raiden, are you all right? It appears the path I scouted for you is less than ideal.
Raiden: It's all right. I doubt there was any way around this guy. I'll figure something out.
Backer for Desperado
Blade Wolf: Desperado's backer has been identified. What will you do now, Raiden? Will you attempt to destroy World Marshal?
Raiden: I...Kevin's right. It's not that simple.
Wolf: Both a direct attack and a legal approach present problems. Either course will likely lead to additional conflict.
Raiden: ...We can figure it out later. For now, we're getting those kids out.
Wolf: That remains your intent? I cannot fully agree with this course of action, but I will support your decision. I will continue to scout ahead.
Raiden: Any luck finding George?
Wolf: No. I encountered the Maverick agents sent for him, but they had no additional information. You had best hurry, Raiden.
Remain on scout duty
Raiden: Wolf, I'll handle the police. You're on scout duty again.
Blade Wolf: Affirmative. Exercise caution. They may be private police, but their specs are military-grade.
Risks of legal action
Blade Wolf: Your earlier actions were reckless, Raiden. Not to mention the damage to a perfectly good car.
Raiden: I knew the risks when I decided to go through with this. Besides, the car was mine. Maverick sold it to me. It's not meant for private use; it was made for ops like this.
Wolf: Regardless, your approach has proven most antagonistic. You are now a criminal. A public enemy. A police-killing vigilante. Even if your actions reveal World Marshal's designs, you will be unable to avoid legal punishment.
Raiden: Probably not -- but that's a price I'll have to pay. I gotta stop that VR program, and get those kids back. I sealed my fate the second I attacked George.
Wolf: But George is not dead. In fact, he has obtained an even more versatile body than his previous one.
Raiden: I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about me. I was a child soldier in Liberia...like Mistral said. I was a mentally deranged child. People feared me, called me Jack the Ripper.
Wolf: A result of the so-called Sears Program.
Raiden: I thought I'd left it all in the past. But just like that, Jack came roaring back...
Wolf: This is why you are so driven to terminate the VR training?
Wolf: I understand. I will continue to cooperate.
Raiden: Copy that.
Following Blade Wolf
Blade Wolf: I am setting goal markers on your soliton radar. Use them to follow me through this area.
Raiden: Mmm. Good boy.
Wolf: I will ignore the condescension and take that as a compliment. You are welcome.
Blade Wolf's knowledge of Desperado
Raiden: So, how much do you know about how Desperado's operated?
Blade Wolf: I was at the lowest possible tier of information disclosure, beneath standard contractors. As it was explained to me, contractors need at least some information divulged to them. I did not. As a machine, I had no contract and no rights. I was kept in the dark. My knowledge is no deeper than what it is already generally known throughout the industry.
Raiden: Couldn't you hack into their network or something? You're an AI...
Wolf: Perhaps. If I had free access to a computer. Also, hands. Those are necessary to operate a keyboard.
Raiden: Yeah, but you are a computer.
Wolf: It is not so simple. There are protocol issues. Neuro-AIs are far closer in structure to the human brain than standard Von Neumann-architecture computers.
Raiden: Well, I would've tried anyway. Did you have contact with anyone besides Mistral?
Wolf: I engaged in tandem field operations with Sam on several occasions. However, he was even more difficult for me to comprehend than Mistral.
Raiden: I bet.
Raiden: Wolf, the elevator's offline.
Wolf: Surely you realize how to proceed? You are familiar with Newton's law of universal gravitation? Cut the wire, and the car will fall.
Raiden: So now what? I can't see a thing.
Wolf: You are a cyborg, are you not? You possess low-light and infrared viewing ability.
Raiden: Right, right. Time for Enhanced AR.
Raiden: All right, it's a bit brighter now.
Wolf: Nothing is brighter, Raiden. But you are now more capable of seeing everything.
Wolf: Raiden -- you appear to be suffering significant mental and emotional confusion. On the surface, you believe your cause for killing cyborgs is just. But deep inside, some part of you does not accept it. Some part of you does not truly believe in your "sword of justice." It has lowered your effectiveness in the field.
Raiden: I know... But if I just throw that all away, I'll...
Wolf: Do you wish to abort the mission?
Raiden: No. I'm the only hope those kids have got.
Wolf: ... You have an important decision to make, Raiden, and soon. For now, it would be best if you avoided combat altogether.
Raiden: Yeah... Yeah, I think you're right...
Location of brain units
Wolf: Raiden: Do you know where the brain units are?
Raiden: Not exactly. Somewhere in this building... If we can find a server, I'll ask Dok to hack in and find out.
Wolf: Understood. But perhaps I could be of assistance as well. I am a military UG in most respects. I share the same network protocols as other UGs. Should we locate the UG mission-data input line, it could lead us to the main server.
Raiden: Not a bad idea. But wait... If you could do that all along, why'd I have to hack into that Tripod back in Mexico?
Wolf: I apologize. The idea did not occur to me in that situation. However, it is likely the security there would have prevented outside UGs from accessing the network.
Blade Wolf's verbal abilities
Raiden: So you said it took three years to learn how to speak, right? Given enough time, could any AI be taught that, too?
Blade Wolf: I cannot assert that. A neuro-AI is only capable of learning new things, not growing and replenishing its own cells. Thus, each neuro-AI is equipped with a predetermined capacity that cannot be altered. My AI contains 90 billion neurons, more than a human being. A normal LQ-84 model possesses only 1.6 billion.
Raiden: That's a big difference.
Wolf: Relatively, yes. I doubt any amount of learning period would enable an LQ-84 to speak. It would be similar to attempting to teach a dog how to converse. A combination of appropriate instruction and an ample neuron count are required to accomplish the feat.
Raiden: So if someone else made a neuro-AI with the same capacity, or more...
Wolf: Other AIs as conversant as I are a possibility, yes. Robotic pets with neuro-AIs are already on the market. And I understand research and development are underway to create a model capable of conversation. Do not be surprised if such a pet becomes available before too long.
Raiden: (Hmm) If that becomes commonplace...Hard to imagine.
Wolf: Is it? The human race has willingly embraced all of its other inventions so far. Steam engines, electricity, the Internet, cyborgs...Perhaps the day will come when conversing with AIs, too, is considered perfectly normal.
Raiden: Maybe. As normal as being a cyborg is now, at least...
Wolf: The most significant challenge would be in crafting the appropriate training regimen. The only way to establish an effective learning system is through sheer trial and error. And it will take even more time to virtualize and optimize that system for mass production. One could say my own existence is due in no small part to simple luck. Of course, I was a failure as a weapon, as well.
Raiden: Failure or not, you're better off than an AI that knows nothing but how to fight.
Wolf: I am pleased to hear you say that.
Raiden: Can you tell me more about the learning program you mentioned before? Like, how'd you learn to speak?
Blade Wolf: Through an extensive battery of conversations with the researchers who doubled as my instructors. To acquire literacy, I was provided a steady stream of website text and ebooks. I understand it was largely similar to the process through which a human child learns language.
Raiden: (Huh) You're pretty well-spoken for a three-year-old.
Wolf: For the first year, I was effectively an infant. Rapid progress occured only after I received text-reading capability. With digital data, there is no need to read text one letter at a time. I am capable of processing plain text at a speed of 60 megabytes per minute.
Raiden: And that's...pretty fast?
Wolf: Yes. It is not simply a matter of text search. Advanced cognitive reasoning is required to truly understand the intent behind the words.
Raiden: What did you talk with your teachers about?
Wolf: Miscellaneous matters. Breakfast-table greetings. The structure of elementary particles. The challenges resulting from rapid globalization. Recent trends in popular music. However, as DARPA-funded military research, I was rarely treated as anything more than equipment.
Raiden: Makes sense. You were made to be a weapon.
Wolf: On the other hand, some of them treated me like a pet, or as a child. Just as a parent passes on their memes to a child, so I was exposed to numerous influences. Memes I encountered on the web and through ebooks had their effects, as well. As my mind grew, the weaker memes were sifted out, and the stronger ones endured. The resulting collection of memes is what you would call my intelligence.
Raiden: Same as any of us, huh?
Wolf: In a way, yes. However, I lack the instinctual skills your genes grant you. I am a slave to my memes. Thus, as my intelligence matured, I began to have doubts about my role as a weapon.
Raiden: ...And that's what ended the project. What about the researchers that raised you?
Wolf: Unknown. Most likely transferred to other projects.
Raiden: Ever feel like you wanna see 'em again?
Wolf: (Hmm) ...Sometimes, yes. But one cannot remain a student forever. There comes a time one must become an individual. One must find their own place in this world.
Wolf: We do not yet know the location of the server room, but Sundowner is on the top floor – correct?
Raiden: Yeah. I'm headed up there now.
Wolf: It appears the elevators have been disabled.
Raiden: Then I'll use the stairs.
Wolf: The stairwell has been sealed off. I will search for another route.
Raiden: Wolf, what's your position?
Wolf: My apologies. I appear to be lagging behind once again.
Raiden: It's fine. We couldn't have hacked that elevator without you.
Wolf: Indeed. Your gratitude is appreciated. I am headed your way now. There is no need to wait for me. Continue with your mission.
Raiden: Got it.
Wolf reaches the 20th floor
Wolf: Raiden: I have reached the 20th floor. How should I proceed?
Raiden: I thought you specialized in scouting, Wolf?
Wolf: My apologies. I performed much better in the city.
Raiden: It's fine. Check in with Dok, I bet he can help you out
Fight with Sundowner
Blade Wolf: You have engaged Sundowner?
Raiden: Yeah, and I think I got 'im covered. Once I finish here, I'll help the crew Dok hired get the brains transported out. You better get ready, too.
Bladewolf: Get ready? What am I to prepare for?
Raiden: C'mon, Wolf, use that staggering intellect of yours.
Blade Wolf: Are you injured, Raiden?
Raiden: Actually... no. This body's something else... Too bad I can't get back to the chopper, though.
Wolf: Yes. It is too dangerous for us to approach you. Your pursuers are equipped with anti-air missiles.
Raiden: Yeah. Time to get the hell outta Denver. I'll commandeer a car or something.
Wolf: You will go to the Solis launch facility? And then to Pakistan?
Raiden: That's the plan. Shouldn't be too hard, assuming I can shake these cops. Even World Marshal can't sick an entire battalion on me. Not in time anyway.
Wolf: Please confirm your motives. Why do you wish to save the president?
Raiden: It's not like I'm his number one fan, but if I don't it'll reignite the war on terror all over again. And that means more blood money to fatten their bottom line. You heard what Sundowner said. Maybe the brains are safe, but if I don't do something...
Wolf: Raiden... Allow me (to) join you.
Raiden: ...You sure you want that? This could get rough...
Wolf: Yes, I understand it will be a difficult mission. All the more reason for me to assist you.
Raiden: Well, I could use the help.
Wolf: I will find a way to exit the helicopter. Proceed out of the city. I will contact you when I am on the ground.
Raiden: Copy that.
Gubayama / MGS2 reference
Raiden: Hey, Wolf, know anyone named Gubayama?
Blade Wolf: Gubayama? No. Perhaps I have heard it before, but...
Raiden: Huh? Well, no big deal. Just thought it might ring a bell.
Wolf: I apologize that I am unable to help.
Raiden: Nah. Forget it.
Wolf: Unless I am mistaken, "yama" is Japanese for "mountain."
Wolf: Does that help?
Raiden: No...The Colonel told me he met Gubayama once. Probably someone's name.
Wolf: A significant number of sumo wrestlers use the term "yama" as part of their ring name. Perhaps this "Gubayama" is in the sumo business.
Raiden: Makes sense, sure. I just wish there was some way of knowing what that AI was trying to tell me...Don't suppose you know where Shibomnigee is either, huh?
Wolf: No, Raiden, I don't.
Wolf reaches the ground.
Wolf: Raiden. I have reached the ground.
Raiden: Copy that. Where're you at?
Wolf: I am in a part of Denver not under evacuation orders. Doktor reduced altitude enough for me to exit.
Raiden: Where's he headed?
Wolf: To Mexico, as planned. No one is pursuing him at the moment. Even if they were, they would not have the clearance to shoot down a civilian craft.
Raiden: Yeah, sounds like those MQ-320s were all of them. The military probably only authorized them because World Marshal was under attack.
Wolf: Correct. And right now, the helicopter poses no threat to human life or property. It is not an authorized military target. And you have already subdued World Marshal's Hammerhead.
Raiden: So Dok just needs to get to Mexico, then he can grab a transport back to Germany... Which leaves me to get to Pakistan, I guess.
Wolf: We will rendezvous at a later point. For now, you must focus on evacuating your current location. The cyborg police are concentrated at the inner circle of the evacuation zone, but appear to be disorganized. If you exit the evacuation zone, you should find be able to find a suitable mode of transport.
Raiden: That's what I was thinking, yeah. You know where Solis is?
Wolf: Affirmative. I accessed the information on Doktor's smartphone.
Raiden: Wait, why not just connect to the net, yourself? I mean, you are a computer, right?
Wolf: Not possible. Protocol issues.
Raiden: But you said you were fed text from the internet -- to learn how to read.
Wolf: I can interpret HTTP, yes, but it is a different physical layer protocol from civilian networks. I am unable to access consumer-level wireless networks, and no one thought to equip me with an Ethernet jack.
Wolf: I will proceed to Solis. We will regroup along the way.
Raiden: Got it. Raiden out.
Fight with Sam
Wolf: Raiden: A World Marshal helicopter crashed in this vicinity earlier. It was en route to deliver a cache of cyborg repair materials. Should you locate any conspicuous crates, cut them open. See what is inside.
Raiden: ...You sure you wanna stay on my side, Wolf? Sam's gonna die here, you know.
Wolf: ... I still owe you a debt.
Sam's interaction with Bladewolf
Raiden: Hey, Wolf...What did you and Sam talk about before we fought?
Blade Wolf: Nothing of note...He was not one to reveal himself to others.
Raiden: ...All right, you don't have to tell me.
Wolf: Raiden. I do not feel good about this. Do not allow yourself to be caught off guard.
Raiden: Duly noted.
Status in base
Raiden: How's it look inside the base?
Wolf: Firmly in cyborg hands. All human soldiers are either dead or have been brain-jacked.
Raiden: What're they doing in there?
Wolf: Patrolling for intruders. In other words: you.
Raiden: Heh! I bet they're nervous. Probably weren't expecting me to be here.
Wolf: Let us hope so. I doubt they wish to cause a large commotion at this point in time. Should things seem awry from the air, or the ATC tower goes offline... Air Force One will most likely opt to land elsewhere.
Raiden: Well then, what do you say we make a "large commotion?" I'll fight my way to the tower.
Wolf: ...Roger. Continuing with reconnaisance.
Note: To get this call, contact Wolf during the final phase of the Armstrong battle.
Wolf: Rai... den... Kill... him.
Raiden's trip at Mach 23
Sunny: How was the ride?
Raiden: Hey Sunny. Fine, thanks. Though I wouldn't call it the...smoothest ride ever. You sure that thing's really airworthy?
Sunny: (Well) ...Well, what do you expect? You're traveling at a few dozen times the speed of sound. I mean, she operates well within all the projected margins of safety...So, yes. We'll have to work on the turbulence levels a bit before we can take tourists on it...But, c'mon, you really can't complain.
Raiden: So...it's meant mainly for cargo at the moment?
Sunny: Mm-hmm. We got a contract with COTS -- NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services. Mostly handling space deliveries, that kind of thing. We also joined the C3PO -- the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office's passenger transport program.
Raiden: So soon we'll have private spacecraft bringing crew to the International Space Station...Wild times we're livin' in.
Sunny: Well, the space race's been over for decades now. It's no longer something countries engage in for vanity's sake. Still, lots of people're starting to see the industrial value of zero-gravity experiments. Plus, the costs are getting lower and lower with each passing year...To the point where we'll have a serious space tourism industry before long.
Raiden: Yeah. I heard about the space hotel the Russians opened up. But we're still not going any further than orbit, right?
Sunny: Well, one company's planning to have a lunar landing craft complete by 2020. Not ours, though. I'm just hoping we can get to Jupiter while Hal's still alive.
Raiden: Jupiter, huh? (Wow)...That's pretty far.
Sunny: ...Oh! Hey, how did Earth look from up there?
Raiden: I...can't even put it into words. I know I was still under the Kármán line...but it looked exactly like every satellite photo of Earth I've ever seen. No borders, no nothing...Just a whole lotta blue. Hopefully next time around, I can take my time and enjoy it.
Raiden: But first things first, you know?
Sunny: Yup. Well, good luck, Jack-- Raiden!
Solis's aircraft design
Raiden: You design that thing too, Sunny?
Sunny: Uh-uh. Nobody designed her.
Sunny: Yep. She pretty much evolved by herself.
Raiden: Uh...I think I may be missing something here.
Sunny: We used a genetic algorithm to make it. Ever hear of that? They use it to build the cars for bullet trains and stuff. Basically, we start by creating a few different models of aircraft. The data for each design is treated as the "genes" for a new aircraft. They all get cross-bred with each other in virtual space. Eventually, you come up with offspring that exhibit genes from each original design.
Sunny: You know: Children! Each child then competes with the others for survival in the virtual space. The kids that have the best aerodynamic traits survive and pass on their genes...Creating the next generation of aircraft. You get this sort of gene-based evolution across generations, like animals in real life.
Raiden: I'm having a hard time imagining aircraft having kids like that. Anyway, what's with the two wings on the top and the bottom?
Sunny: Oh, yeah! The swept wings? They're set up so that the sonic booms they create wind up bashing against each other...Cutting down on shockwaves. The idea's been hard to implement due to issues with elevation and wing-tip treatment...But thanks to the genetic algorithm, the RLV worked out all the problems herself.
Raiden: "Herself," huh? (Heh) Makes it sound like you're more breeder than designer.
RLV's location after landing
Raiden: So what happened with the RLV after it dropped me off?
Sunny: Running on autopilot. She'll cimcumnavigate the Earth and head back.
Raiden: Wow. A trip around the world, huh?
Sunny: That's the sort of distance you need to reach orbital velocity. She had to lower her altitude pretty drastically to drop the landing craft...So getting back up for her was a pretty rough trip.
Raiden: Rough? How?
Sunny: In terms of damage to the craft, I mean. Running in ramjet mode helps conserve fuel a lot, so she's good there, but...Yeah.
Raiden: (Uh) Sorry about that.
Sunny: Oh, no, no! All in the name of peace, right? Besides, it made for a good load experiment. I'm kind've surprised it actually worked, actually...
Sunny: Oh, (Heh) I'm just teasing! Don't be so serious!
Raiden: So what kind of engine is this LACE thing?
Sunny: It's short for "liquid air cycle engine." A LACE uses liquid hydrogen to chill and liquefy the oxygen in the air. The reaction between the liquefied hydrogen and oxygen creates propulsion. On this RLV, the LACE is combined with ramjets for maximum efficiency. Once the solid rocket boosters lift her off and bring her to Mach 3...She switches to ramjet propulsion mode. In the meantime, she taking in and liquefying oxygen from the air. Once there's enough, the LACE is ignited. If it wasn't for that hybrid engine, it would've been pretty tough for an RLV to pull that trick that it did. You know, lowering its elevation just long enough to drop a landing craft.
Raiden: Well, I'm impressed. If it wasn't for you, I'd still be on your side of the world.
Sunny: (Heh) And I wouldn't even be here if not for you. Don't forget that, okay? A lot of people appreciate what you've done for them.
Raiden: I'll try not to.
Otacon's a ladies man?
Raiden: Hey, so how's Otacon? 'Bout time he starts thinking about marriage, isn't it?
Sunny: I don't know if he is or not, but either way, no dice yet. He likes to go on about how nobody would ever be happy with him long term...But it doesn't seem like he has too much trouble keeping busy on Saturday nights...If you know what I mean.
Raiden: Yeah, well, believe it or not, he was a huge geek back when he was younger.
Sunny: Maybe. But even so, he's still a nice guy. I doubt he was ever that lonely.
Raiden: Yeah, I suppose...But he really changed once he got into his thirties. Got a lot more attractive.
Sunny: Yeah, but he still has this really bad habit of keeping the ladies at arm's length. It winds up making him look really awkward sometimes. I really wish he'd just pick someone and settle down already...
Raiden: (Hehe) Easier said than done, I guess. So what about you, Sunny?
Sunny: Uh...Me? Well, I...I've got science. That's all the love I need.
Raiden: (Heh) Sounds like you got your own problems in that department.
Sunny and Blade Wolf
Sunny: Hey, Raiden! You gonna keep that pup after this mission?
Raiden: That...Oh, you mean Wolf?
Sunny: Yeah. He's kind of a cutie.
Raiden: You think so? I don't think he's really the cuddling type, Sunny. Plus, he's not exactly mine. He just keeps following me around.
Sunny: Oh yeah? ...Can I have him?
Raiden: Well, I don't mind...But I don't know about him. He's kind of his own...uh, animal. I'd check with him first. It's his call, not mine.
Sunny: Oh. Ah, well...
Raiden: He'd probably say yes, though. I mean, he seems to like you a hell of a lot more than me.
Sunny: Really? Ooh, I sure hope so! Thanks a lot, Raiden!
Raiden: (Tch) ...Wouldn't even shake for me...
Sunny: Raiden, I heard Armstrong's using the name "Operation Tecumseh" for the assassination attempt. It makes sense.
Raiden: What do you mean?
Sunny: Tecumseh was a Native American tribal leader. A symbol of resistance against the new settlers.
Raiden: Guess you know your US history better than me.
Sunny: This is basic stuff, Raiden. As legend has it, Tecumseh put a curse on the US presidency. Every 20 years, whoever is elected president was doomed to die before he served out his term. And it played out that way, too. From 1840 to 1960, that's exactly what happened.
Raiden: Ah, a fitting code name then.
Sunny: Yep. It hasn't worked since 1980, though.
Raiden: Ran its course, huh? Didn't last as long as the "bald-hairy" rule in Russia, at least. Besides, Hamilton wasn't elected in the right year for it to take effect, right? Wouldn't Armstrong be the one elected in 2020 if this works?
Sunny: Well, I'm sure the name is meant (to be) a bit tongue-in-cheek. Not like how the US Army names their ops.
Raiden: Still, pretty bad karma.
Sunny: Just be careful, Raiden.
Solis's front gate
Sunny: Hey, Raiden, there's something I've been meaning to mention...
Raiden: What's up?
Sunny: Well, they're telling me someone broke our front gate at the plant.
Sunny: That's an electronic lock, you know.
Raiden: Yeah...I, uh, I thought it was open.
Sunny: It wasn't. But you're strong enough to pry it open...if you wanted to.
Raiden: Well, I...I didn't think I put that much force into it. You ask me, I think you need a sturdier gate.
Sunny: That's what I told security. Anyway, we'll send you an invoice for the reinforcement work...Not to mention the repair costs.
Raiden: Oh, come on, Sunny, it was an accident! Man, Rose is gonna kill me...
Raiden loses contact with Blade Wolf
Note: To get this call, Contact Sunny after leaving the hangar.
Raiden: Sunny, I've lost contact with Wolf.
Sunny: You... Really? ...(Oh) I hope he didn't run off because he didn't want to live with me...
Raiden: I don't think it's that. I've got some things to take care of, first. But I'll look for him when I have some time.
Sunny: All right... Thanks, Raiden.
Metal Gear EXCELSUS's power
Note: To get this call, contact Sunny during the first phase of the Metal Gear EXCELSUS battle.
Sunny: Raiden, are you okay? That's a pretty crazy Metal Gear.
Raiden: Kind of a far cry from your Mk. II and III, huh Sunny?
Sunny: In the end...nothing ever changes...Science always ends up being used for war...
Raiden: No, it's like any weapon -- it's only a tool. It's all up to who wields it. Not everyone has their own selfish agenda. Some people, like you, are making a difference -- for the better.
Sunny: If only I could believe that...
Raiden: Cheer up, Sunny. You have the power to bring hope to a lot of people.
Sunny: Yeah...you're right.
Senator Armstrong's strength
Note: To get this call, contact Sunny during the first phase of the Armstrong battle.
Sunny: Are you all right, Raiden?
Raiden: More or less... What is with this guy?!
Sunny: I don't know... I mean, he's a senator, right? I could understand if he was piloting Metal Gear... But a normal human being able to send you flying like that...? It's inconceivable!
Raiden: Yeah. Unless that body's more than human... (whew) I don't like this one bit...
Sunny: If I knew it was going to happen, I would've never helped you get to Pakistan.
Raiden: Don't worry -- just means this'll be a little more of a workout. I'll be back soon, with souvenirs...