Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

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Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by PSVT on Tue 17 Feb 2015 - 0:22

I really don't know why, but I had a bit of a strange thought about how the SWA would react upon a major cataclysmic event. By major I mean something that would inherently disrupt if not outright destroy human civilization on a global scale. Think a nuclear war that severely damages Italy's (and the rest of the world's) infrastructure. It made me wonder how the handlers--and to some extent their cyborgs as well--will react to such an event.

And by the handlers and cyborgs, I mean your OC fratelli. Clearly, to me at least, normal missions would be out of the question. Padania immediately becomes of much lesser importance. So, what do your handlers do then? What do they do with their cyborgs--especially when a limited supply of crucial conditioning medication remains?

Maybe putting it even more simply, of how much importance and personal value do your handlers truly consider their cyborgs?

(There is a secondary question to be asked of how well prepared your version of the SWA is equipped for major and/or minor emergencies. But that's not necessarily a focus here, except to prevent working around the issue of cyborg death.)

It's true that Giancarlo Rossi is not very much a survivalist, but as far as he is concerned, he would do everything in his power to keep himself and his cyborgs Valentina and Eleonora alive for as long as possible. Given that the agency would only have about two months of conditioning medication available on hand with no way to produce the primary ingredients, that would place an upper limit on his cyborgs' lifespans. Further, the dosages and outright mixtures of medication are different for the two cyborgs, making life even more difficult for them. And for Giancarlo's family as well. Without a need to maintain the secret, upon locating them and ensuring their safety as well as he could, he would reveal to his wife and son what he had been doing and why he had been so absent from them for so long. Part of that would be introducing Valentina and Eleonora to his "actual" family, which would be difficult under normal circumstances. Then, when the inevitable occurs and Valentina and Eleonora succumb to lack of conditioning, Giancarlo would be more than devastated, just as he would be if his wife or son had died.

By comparison, James Bernard sees his cyborg Rachelle as nothing more than a tool to use at his disposal. Not to suggest he is a completely hard-hearted or selfish individual, his first priority, much like with Giancarlo, would be to find whatever family he has and to make sure they're safe. It's just that Rachelle would not be a part of that, and he would very likely abandon her as excess baggage without much of a second thought.

So, that's my answer. I'm interested in hearing yours. Very Happy

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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by Alfisti on Tue 17 Feb 2015 - 5:59

Well, I think the SWA would keep some stock of conditioning medication available. At the end of the day, and particularly as the organisation needs to remain covert, supply chain interruptions are going to be not a question of "if", they're a question of "when", so they'd have to keep some sort of buffer against that there. Two months or so sounds reasonable: it's enough time to a) figure out the existing supplier is talking rubbish and then b) find a new one, without leaving too much stock on the shelf.

On that front however, Jethro+Monty have something of an advantage as, if they're operating normally, at any given time they'll be carrying between three and six months supply of Monty's meds anyway. Worst case, Monty can eke that out a little longer if she has to... so they've got a bit of a working window.

Ok, caveat: I'm working on the assumption from here on that the SWA is still standing and at least semi-functional.

Assuming Blackers had also decided that was likely, the pair would set about returning and, once there, there would be a few orders of business:


  • Order of business one would be to lay their dirty mitts on as much Monty-compatible conditioning drug as possible, and bring it under their own, direct, control. It a) increases their working window and b) prevents it being with-held as a means to control them.
  • Second order of business would be similar to the first: acquire as much information on the conditioning drug, its manufacture, and the cyborg programme in general, as possible. That would be aided by order of business #3.
  • Order of business number three would be the one people actually see: set about re-establishing the organisation's supply lines. Travelling, wheeling and dealing is sort of Jethro's stock in trade anyway, so the Blackers are well placed to spearhead that.


That's the idea option of course: the SWA already has the know-how, and infrastructure and, even if some of the components previously supplied ready-to-use need to be fabricated on-site through some variety of garage-meth-lab-esque bodge, it probably has the best chance of doing that.

It is, however, an ideal, and it never hurts to have a Plan B... which is why orders of business one and two were orders of business one and two and came before the "help everyone else" option. If it looks like the SWA getting its act together is going to be a lost cause, then Jethro Plan B would be to figure out who is most likely to be able to get their act together enough to reverse-engineer the conditioning drug, and set about making themselves as useful to that party as possible. Who knows, they might even be able to reach a stage of handling Monty's maintenance as well.

Basically, the short version is, Jethro's entire effort would be on keeping Monty alive and functional for as long as possible because, when she does inevitably go, he will be devastated.


Entries for Danilo & Raych/Florentino & Odile once I've thought about them... though I suspect they'll be a bit more straight-forward.

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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by Kiskaloo on Tue 17 Feb 2015 - 7:29

I always operated under the assumption that the conditioning medication is manufactured on-site by the Medical / Technical Branch. They have a massive hospital so they would have plenty of lab and manufacturing space and they could control production and development.

So the risk would be the raw materials provided by external suppliers.

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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by Alfisti on Tue 17 Feb 2015 - 8:12

@Kiskaloo wrote:I always operated under the assumption that the conditioning medication is manufactured on-site by the Medical / Technical Branch. They have a massive hospital so they would have plenty of lab and manufacturing space and they could control production and development.

So the risk would be the raw materials provided by external suppliers.
Pretty much the same assumption I was working under, though it would still be worth the SWA keeping a supply of conditioning medication ready to go on site, simply in case of plant downtime or breakdowns as well.

As to the raw materials again, the question is how raw do they arrive? It may well be cheaper for the SWA to have some precursors manufactured off site from someone who can do it in bulk or supplies generally to the pharmaceuticals industry, rather than create those precursors themselves. If the supply chain collapses, then they can go back a step if need be, but it's extra expense and effort, so why bother if you don't need to?

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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by Kiskaloo on Tue 17 Feb 2015 - 9:46

@Alfisti wrote:
@Kiskaloo wrote:I always operated under the assumption that the conditioning medication is manufactured on-site by the Medical / Technical Branch. They have a massive hospital so they would have plenty of lab and manufacturing space and they could control production and development.

So the risk would be the raw materials provided by external suppliers.
Pretty much the same assumption I was working under, though it would still be worth the SWA keeping a supply of conditioning medication ready to go on site, simply in case of plant downtime or breakdowns as well.

As to the raw materials again, the question is how raw do they arrive? It may well be cheaper for the SWA to have some precursors manufactured off site from someone who can do it in bulk or supplies generally to the pharmaceuticals industry, rather than create those precursors themselves. If the supply chain collapses, then they can go back a step if need be, but it's extra expense and effort, so why bother if you don't need to?

Oh I am sure they keep a regular supply available, starting a new production run as necessary to top things off. And I agree that whatever formulation the medication is, the "raw materials" would probably be more than just the chemical elements. Smile

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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by Vett on Tue 17 Feb 2015 - 9:47

That's a question and a half.

Edward's priority would be his family... but he's on the other side of Europe, getting home would probably be difficult under the circumstances, and in Italy he's in the military, which makes him part of the biggest, best well armed gang around.

It basically gives him the most chance for survival provided it doesn't go completely down the plughole.

The ideal would be to get his family to Italy and, frankly, I'd have expected the SWA to make some sort of arrangements for dependents - not that Edward has dependents, but I imagine there'd be some wriggle room if he could get them in-country.

Edward would basically do whatever job the agency required him to do - the goal is still the same: preserve law and order. His immediate priorities for the agency, however, would be securing food, water, basic infrastructure (i.e. electricity and heat), fuel, medical requirements, ammunition, and then other general supplies needed day to day.

Additional supplies would be secured by raiding Padanian caches. Preying on civilians would be the absolute last resort.

On the assumption that there's a stockpile of conditioning/precursors, the pills would be last on the list as they're important, but not urgent.

Katherine would be left to fend for pills with the rest of the cyborgs; Rebecca would be unofficially encouraged to ration her supply as much as possible and get hold of whatever extras she could.

It's not that he cares more for Rebecca than Katherine, but Rebecca is the more useful asset.

Generally, keeping the cyborgs functioning is goal number 1, as they're the biggest advantage the SWA has.

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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by Thescarredman on Tue 17 Feb 2015 - 16:36

If this 'catastrophe' was  certain to be long-lasting, with medical services infrastructure collapsed and the Agency members manning the lifeboats, so to speak ... and the girls' experimental 'weaning' program had given them a chance at retaining their marbles after the loss of their handler ... Doc would see them put in the care of someone inside the Agency whom he trusts (a very short list) and then off himself to keep them from being burdened with him.
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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by PSVT on Wed 18 Feb 2015 - 0:04

@Alfisti wrote:
@Kiskaloo wrote:I always operated under the assumption that the conditioning medication is manufactured on-site by the Medical / Technical Branch. They have a massive hospital so they would have plenty of lab and manufacturing space and they could control production and development.

So the risk would be the raw materials provided by external suppliers.
Pretty much the same assumption I was working under, though it would still be worth the SWA keeping a supply of conditioning medication ready to go on site, simply in case of plant downtime or breakdowns as well.

As to the raw materials again, the question is how raw do they arrive? It may well be cheaper for the SWA to have some precursors manufactured off site from someone who can do it in bulk or supplies generally to the pharmaceuticals industry, rather than create those precursors themselves. If the supply chain collapses, then they can go back a step if need be, but it's extra expense and effort, so why bother if you don't need to?

In a way it depends on your vision of how the SWA operates. For me, the SWA does make the final conditioning medication and drug precursors at it's campus outside of Rome, though with a rather small staff of doctors and techs they can only make so much at a time even with the help of automation. Various pharmaceutical companies make the precursors for the conditioning medication, but under the guise of its need for work done the public-facing side of the SWA. A fraction of the precursors is shipped from the Rome SWA hospital to the SWA campus. In the instance that Rome is turned into a smoking crater, the SWA campus has the capability to make the conditioning medication upon direct receipt of the precursors from the pharmas. Which, of course, heavily depends upon those companies' infrastructure remaining intact.

Worse, if the raw base materials needed for making the conditioning medication precursors are unavailable, which is a very likely scenario, then it all becomes a moot point. Depending on how much of the precursors remain and where they were stored at the time of the disaster, the agency might be able to produce another few months' worth of conditioning medication, but not much more than that.

On that point, Giancarlo would experiment with reducing dosages even further to eek out as much time as he can for Valentina and Eleonora. Given that they're already at the lowest possible (or rather sensible at the time, lest they be like Marisa) conditioning level, his chances of success are slim, but he wouldn't let that stop him. Besides, he'd already dealt with similar issues with Valentina due to her preexisting conditioning flaw. (Though, to what extent lowering Valentina's conditioning level worsens her problem remains to be seen.)

---

Back to the topic, it's interesting but maybe not so surprising to see that most of the handlers so far, would do whatever they could to preserve their cyborgs for as long as humanly possible. Whether or not they outright love the girls under their control, it seems to be the case they've formed a strong enough bond with their cyborgs that they'd rather see the girls survive than abandon them to save themselves.

That, or they merely figure having a cyborg on his side significantly increases a handler's own probability of survival in a post-apocalyptic Italy. Wink

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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by Alfisti on Wed 18 Feb 2015 - 3:11

Actually, I think the question of how the SWA might maintain itself post-apocalypse (presuming it's in mostly one piece) is an interesting one. As Vett noted: there's still the issue of getting basics as well such as water, food, diesel to run generators, etc... and potentially needing to harden that infrastructure as it is now going to be a primary rather than redundant backup.

That said, I don't think re-establishing the ability to create the conditioning drug can really take a back seat either as, while it's not such an immediate problem as, say, fresh water, the lead is going to be longer as well. If the SWA's existing suppliers have become smoking craters, there there needs to be time to find a new source of whatever precursors are required or, if that's not viable, then bodge together some means of creating the precursor itself, and sourcing the precursor to the precursor, etc. If one's SWA exists in a universe where it has an attached tech-department (large or garden-shed variety), that could probably be drawn in as well.

Come to think of it, if the SWA could keep the cyborgs going, and played its cards right, it could probably turn itself into quite a post-apocalyptic power... perhaps it could re-name itself to "Terminus" and say it's writing an Encyclopaedia to "preserve pre-apocalyptic knowledge".  Razz

Ahem.

---

@PSVT wrote:That, or they merely figure having a cyborg on his side significantly increases a handler's own probability of survival in a post-apocalyptic Italy. 
Yes, back to the topic at hand: I think Danilo would fit into this category. He would keep Raych going as long as he could, however I don't know if he'd go to any special extremes to do so... he's not that imaginative. When her medication ran out, it runs out, and she ceases being useful. I suspect that, once she had reached the end of that usefulness, he would be kind(?) enough to "put her down", rather than let her suffer to eventual death through conditioning withdrawls.

Florentino, at least as he stands now... I actually think he would walk away. He already considers Odile a burden, so if everything went tits-up I doubt he would want her around.

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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by Vett on Wed 18 Feb 2015 - 8:59

@Alfisti wrote:Actually, I think the question of how the SWA might maintain itself post-apocalypse (presuming it's in mostly one piece) is an interesting one. As Vett noted: there's still the issue of getting basics as well such as water, food, diesel to run generators, etc... and potentially needing to harden that infrastructure as it is now going to be a primary rather than redundant backup.

That said, I don't think re-establishing the ability to create the conditioning drug can really take a back seat either as, while it's not such an immediate problem as, say, fresh water, the lead is going to be longer as well.

I suspect that the reality of what would happen is that, as we noted above, the most important task would be maintaining the provision of conditioning medication.

While the medical department work flat out on that, everyone else deals with the urgent requirements: supplies to ensure continued operation on a day-to-day level. There's no benefit in knowing what you need to acquire for the conditioning if you lack the resources to obtain it.

Every so often, in the list of raids and shopping trips, there's a visit (euphimistic or not) to a pharmaceutical company.

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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by Thescarredman on Wed 18 Feb 2015 - 12:58

Florentino, at least as he stands now... I actually think he would walk away. He already considers Odile a burden, so if everything went tits-up I doubt he would want her around.

Sounds just like him, but it'd be pretty foolish of him. His changed circumstances would make Odile more valuable to him than Monty: he'd need a capable bodyguard a lot more than a competent intelligence agent.
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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by TeaTimeNinja on Thu 19 Feb 2015 - 14:54

This thread is super interesting.

Good thing Pete doesn't have any close family bonds. That being said; Norway, Petes place of origin, sounds like an ideal place to bug out to. As far as meds go, my instinct would be to turn to a black market (assuming the meds aren't completely one-of-a-kind).

This could make an intense alternate universe. Writers, get on it! haha!

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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by PSVT on Thu 19 Feb 2015 - 22:48

@Thescarredman wrote:Florentino, at least as he stands now... I actually think he would walk away. He already considers Odile a burden, so if everything went tits-up I doubt he would want her around.

Sounds just like him, but it'd be pretty foolish of him. His changed circumstances would make Odile more valuable to him than Monty: he'd need a capable bodyguard a lot more than a competent intelligence agent.

The same is quite true for James as well, that it might be a mistake for him to abandon Rachelle. However, he reasons that given his military and PMC background he could handle himself pretty well. Maybe he'd do even better with Rachelle's help, but the benefit of having an extra trained gun doesn't quite offset the cost of having to share vital resources with an extra individual. That doesn't even begin to account for the time cost involved with conditioning, or the fact that in about two months she would be gone anyway. So, he figures that he could do well with more than double the food (because cyborgs tend to eat a lot) and water he would otherwise enjoy.

Again that might be a serious mistake in judgement on his part given that she's an extremely skilled shot and, moreover, completely dedicated to ensuring his safety. That is of immense value when law and order is almost completely broken. But, in his mind, he can only bring so many supplies with him. There is only so much space for food, water, fuel, weapons, ammunition, and other tools. And, once again, Rachelle is merely just another a tool to him.

This brings up another point, whether James would be considerate enough of Rachelle to put her down instead of leaving her to wander about and eventually suffer from conditioning withdrawal. It's not that I intend for him to be completely evil as I continue to flesh out his character, though I'm not sure he would consider spending a precious bullet under these circumstances.

---

Going backwards a little bit...

@Vett wrote:Katherine would be left to fend for pills with the rest of the cyborgs; Rebecca would be unofficially encouraged to ration her supply as much as possible and get hold of whatever extras she could.

It's not that he cares more for Rebecca than Katherine, but Rebecca is the more useful asset.

Hmm... that does seem to lead to an unintentional Sophie's choice situation, where Edward has to choose which cyborg is more important to him. In this case Rebecca's the more fortunate cyborg. Even if Edward cares equally about his two girls, how much does he care for them at all that he's even willing to make any decision at all that favors one over the other (Giancarlo asks...)?

---

@TeaTimeNinja wrote:That being said; Norway, Petes place of origin, sounds like an ideal place to bug out to. As far as meds go, my instinct would be to turn to a black market (assuming the meds aren't completely one-of-a-kind).

Assuming for a moment Pete would think the same way you would, would he actually be able to find something so specialized as conditioning medication so readily after an apocalypse? In your universe, are the conditioning drugs unique to the SWA? Would the handlers have an idea how to make them or what they would need to obtain?

The other subtext is that Pete would actually care enough about Elly for whatever reason (self-interest or true compassion?) to go through the trouble of keeping her alive. From what I've seen so far, that does seem fair.

---

I find the replies to the concept very interesting. Despite the tiny sample size so far (8), the majority of handlers would ensure their cyborgs would live for as long as possible despite the inherent difficulties involved. Of course, the devil is in the details regarding why (again, the question of whether they act out of love, self-interest, or somewhere in between).

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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by tremec6speed on Fri 20 Feb 2015 - 0:25

If the SWA is still functioning enough to exercise command and control missions, then my fratello Gunther and Ayden will follow orders and try to maintain the peace. (I imagine enemy organizations still capable of challenging the government, attempting to claim land for themselves, possibly even areas outside of Italy's borders, carving out territories here and there, exacting 'protection' dues from others, etc) Ayden being an experimental weapon, fully synthetic, created by a modified nano-vat has never been restrained by the conditioning drugs, it is one of the reasons she is considered of limited value despite her vast potential, so a lack of the drugs would pose no difficulties in that respect.
If the Agency is destroyed and assuming Chief Lorenzo does not (or cannot) establish a base of operations elsewhere, then my fratello will probably head out somewhere in which they might be able to live with some level of normalcy.
Why would Gunther take Ayden with him, I'm actually not sure at the moment as Gunther is mentally...... 'Not quite there' (for a lack of a better term) so I'm not one hundred percent certain he wouldn't just up and go like his older brother Lauro would most likely do in that situation.
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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by Vett on Fri 20 Feb 2015 - 9:17

[url=http://gunslinger-girl.up-with.com/u1768][b][size=13][color=#e3b236]PSVT[/color][/size][/b][/url] wrote: Going backwards a little bit...


Vett wrote:Katherine would be left to fend for pills with the rest of the cyborgs; Rebecca would be unofficially encouraged to ration her supply as much as possible and get hold of whatever extras she could.

It's not that he cares more for Rebecca than Katherine, but Rebecca is the more useful asset.

Hmm... that does seem to lead to an unintentional Sophie's choice situation, where Edward has to choose which cyborg is more important to him. In this case Rebecca's the more fortunate cyborg. Even if Edward cares equally about his two girls, how much does he care for them at all that he's even willing to make any decision at all that favors one over the other (Giancarlo asks...)?

It's not really a decision he'd make on a personal level. While the ideal is that both of his cyborgs survive, practically speaking, Rebecca is more likely to survive general upheaval (and is more versatile as an operative) than Katherine as she's 17 rather than four. As such, if the world is going to pieces, the resources should be spent on Rebecca for a better return.

It's not really any different from triage on a battlefield.

Edward would much prefer to save one of his cyborgs than lose both - and if you have to make that call, you should pick the one that's most likely to maximise the other's sacrifice.

If that makes him uncaring... well, this is the handler whose immediate response to having a colleague commit suicide was to co-opt the corpse into his interrogation. There's a reason why, when Rebecca was starting to panic, the first part of her improvised mantra was that they were pragmatic.

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Re: Handlers, Cyborgs, and the End of the World

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 20 Feb 2015 - 11:43

Michele and Kara would be riding it out on the Italian Ark with Renato Pisano.

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