Tall, slender, beautiful and lithe, Catherine Arlonis is more than just
another pretty face. She is Syntech's top AI tracker,
a techno-sleuth who specializes in hunting "lost" software or runaway
AI's for Syntech. Cat is smart, deadly (if need be) and will
not accept defeat at any cost, and the cost is the least of her concerns because
her employer pays the tab- and then some. Something like a cross between a spy, a mercenary and a hacker, Cat has
a perfect track record for completing her missions and not making
the headlines. She is direct when speaking to others and doesn't
waste time on any job. Because she knows that an AI moves so
much faster than a flesh-and-blood, Cat employs precise efficiency, not
because she likes to but because the trail will get cold if she loses time.
Since time is always of the essence, Cat strives constantly
to be one step ahead of her quarry, second-guessing its every move and trying
to anticipate where it's headed. Nine times out of ten, the first place she
looks for an AI is in the economy- and that's where she usually catches it,
in a bank or trying to manipulate the International Stock Exchange. Just like
humans, an AI understands the value and necessity
for money and it invariably tries to get as much as possible as quickly as
possible. Mystic Ghost, her latest target, is another story entirely, however.
The thing thinks it's the Word of God, so it's motivated less by money and
more by publicity, focused on getting "the word" out to Mankind.
Since media covers the globe in literally thousands of ways, Miss Arlonis
has her work cut out for her; Mystic Ghost could be anywhere,
in any network, working through any number of religious services and online
communities. To make matters worse, the AI's designer, Trahn Sengh, has
disappeared, knowing that he would be questioned on what Mystic Ghost would
do and not wanting to help the thing get caught. Another type of hunter
employed by Syntech is looking for Sengh, but the software engineer has covered
his tracks fairly well, the way Cat hears it. Doesn't matter, though. Since
he's not around, it's no use to Cat to dwell on what isn't there anyway. What
matters to her is that Mystic Ghost is out there, somewhere,
and it's her job to find it.
More adversity hounds her, though: StarNet Industries, Syntech's
only competition. StarNet would like nothing more than for Mystic Ghost to
accomplish its goals and thereby discredit Syntech as a security force. Syntech's
best claim to fame is that it is the world's premier AI and Security Bot
developer. If it can't keep track of its own creations, what good
is it? Investors and clients will ask this question when Mystic Ghost goes
public. StarNet, so far, is the only other organization that knows Mystic Ghost
is missing (industrial spies are shared in both companies and
this kind of news is the kind of insider information that stays
amongst them). When the self-possessed Word of God starts its new religion,
StarNet will "leak" who created the AI and, hopefully, stop the
thing "for the sociological and spiritual good of humanity. After all,
who wants an AI to tell them how to live their lives?" StarNet will stop
at nothing, even the murder of Catherine Arlonis, to make sure Mystic Ghost
stays free... for a little while, at least. Certainly until Syntech's market
value is obliterated.
Fortunately, Cat knows that StarNet is after her. While their pursuit of Cat
is a nuissance, it means that the amount of resources they spend
on dogging her heels is resources not pointed in the
direction of Mystic Ghost. Such attention would make the AI that much harder
to find. Real people she can evade; it's the AI which is evading her
that has Cat's undivided attention.
Cat is 28, has raven-black hair and emerald green eyes. Her beauty,
she often remarks, is only skin deep- the real
beauty that is Catherine Arlonis lies beneath the skin. Her eyes are cybernetic ocular implants which offer her a wide range of visual
abilities and cosmetically lend credence to her nickname. Cat usually wears
black and carries at least one weapon on her at all times. When
Syntech hired her, they gave her a full cybernetic workover: a micro-computer
hidden behind her left kidney, the computer's video feed is hardwired directly
to her ocular implants and she has three data ports on the underside of her
wrist made for external peripherals (printer, external monitor, data
storage... whatever). Not only is Cat a physical force to reckon with, she is a virtual walking computer, capable of
surfing the Net while, let's say, walking down a street. Everything she sees
digitally is visible to her in real time, in overlaid translucence on top
of her normal field of vision. In her fingertips are dermal micro-sensors
that allow her to type on an invisible keyboard. All this just so that she
can track down sentient software at a moment's notice. For the first five
years of working with Syntech, her augmentation summed up to being owned
by Syntech, but Cat has since compensated the company for their multi-million-dollar
investment in her hide and she now works for them as a "contractor."
Because of her experience with Syntech, of course she gets first dibbs on
any job they have which needs someone of her particular talents, but when she
walks out of their doors, the gear they initially put into Cat walks right out
Cat is owned by no one. She works for herself, first and foremost.
Mystic Ghost is her prey. It's just a program, she tells herself, little
more than a hyped-up game. All she has to do is figure out the rules this
AI plays by and set herself to beating it. And why not? She is a human,
a member of the race that created the little fucker. Furthermore, she has
everything she needs to track it down and bring it back to where it came from.
Cat can allow herself to play by Mystic Ghost's rules, but she
always has been, and always will be, the master of the game.