Author: Kristian de Valle (email@example.com)
PHYSICAL FIX – BIKE COURIERS FOR THE CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT
HQ: Los Angles Metroplex Regional Night City, Washington, Tokyo, Seattle, Miami, San Offices: FranciscoResources: Seven AV-7 Machs (one for each office), Six Kundalini Darts (in L.A.) and one Dassault-Mystere STOL Luxury Jet.
Symbol: The name ‘Physical Fix’ in bright red, thick block letters in a square form, bordered top and bottom by thin ‘go faster’ stripes.
Major Partners: Amanda Clayton, situated in L.A. with 51% controlling share. James ‘Jag’ Hound 15% Josie Coriolis 20%
Physical Fix is still a private company, run by the people who put up the money for its initial setup. Fix may do a public float in the next year or so, as business is booming. If so, the employees will be offered the first pick of the shares.
Troops: 350 Covert Operatives: 15
Physical Fix is a fledgling, yet rapidly growing bicycle courier company. With offices in Seattle, the L.A. Metroplex, Washington and Tokyo, they deal with old-school secure data. If the data is not sent via the Net, then nobody is able to intercept it via the net.
The courier boxes are specially made for the Fix riders. They are EMP-shield, biohazard capable, armored to 40SP and the option is available for a refrigerated version. The boxes do not leave the couriers sight until delivered to the recipient specified in the delivery order.
Fix was founded in 2018 by a disillusioned netrunner, Amanda Clayton, who believed that there must be a better way of shunting data around a city, rather than risk the volatile and data-hungry waters of big-city grids. She formed a plan after researching old Gibson novels and studying the viability of numerous forms of data-carrying.Leaving the Net aspect alone entirely, she bought a struggling courier company in Los Angeles and hired a killer publicist to change the image of this hokey outfit she had acquired. Touting the new ‘Physical Fix’ as the hardest data-transferral technology to crack, and daring any comers to intercept the code, the line she had dropped into the boiling waters of big business began to twitch.
When execs at EBM, Orbital Air, Gibson Designs and others saw the data coming in their front door in a chunky silver box that would stop assault rifle rounds, they were at first surprised at this unexpected format. However, with most of their netrunners out to intercept the supposed incoming data, there were a few red faces. Most of the Corporations saw the light.
For sensitive data joining the crosstown traffic, it seemed safer to use physical couriers instead of braving the minefields of Corporate Net blocs where electron sharks would cruise the waters. All the companies needed was to know a little more about how secure the data really was.
PROCEDURES AND PRACTICES
Cycle packed, he chipped into it from the plugs on his wrist, and the address of the delivery flared in his fore brain, an instantly instinctive feel for how to get there, as the nav computer strapped to the cycle ran through a dozen different routes. He swung his leg over and the bike adjusted for him, it’s ultra-responsive foamed alloy frame twisting and reshaping. It came alive, projecting its bicycle consciousness into Ferreras’ head, making him think about the road.He shot out onto the road like he was spat from a cannon, already up to thirty klicks from the boost the carpark ramp gave him, pedaling furiously, Sandevistan reflex boost online, every nerve and tendon afire. Every fifteen seconds he would mutter ‘boost’, subvocalizing the word and redlining his Sandevistan, a charge that brought all the combats flooding back, that acidic taste in his mouth, fifteen seconds of superhuman speed, the world slowing down.
The venerable ‘pushbike’ has come a long way since the 20th century.
From Monterey Frames comes the Slider City. Conformable memory-plastic rims, kevlar-weave tubes with a nano-fibre sandwich for instant puncture repair, foamed orbital titanium frame, integral smart rig, available only on order. The pannier for carrying Fix’s specialized boxes is made for Fix by Monterey, who have a long-term contract with Fix to supply the bikes and replacement parts.
Each bike is completely customized to the rider. Monterey will take your body measurements in details, right down to the slope of your ‘derriere’ in order to sculpt the seat, ride height, and more. Monterey then build and set it up for you. The process takes roughly two weeks, possibly longer if there are plenty of back-orders. A Slider City also takes upwards of forty grand to purchase. This price varies on the exact size of the frame and bike.
The bike is interfaced, and will only respond to a mental password from its rider. It is an excellent theft deterrent, as the memory-plastic rims will sag once the rider has detached from the bike, giving the impression of warped rims. If the Slider City’s interface is cracked, the bike is near-useless to ride anyway, since it is tailored for the individual. The Slider City comes complete with quick-release cables in case of a spill.
Employees must be with the Fix for a minimum of six months before entering a deal between management and Monterey, where Physical Fix picks up the cost of the bike and subsidizes their pay until the bike is paid off. This gives Fix riders an option to provide their own bike and make more money, or ride the ultimate in human-powered road machines and become part of the Fix team. A flexible paying plan makes it easy for riders to pay off their bikes early if they are pulling down job after job.
The bike couriers carry gas masks and breathing filters as standard equipment, and the Fix execs themselves would hand them out in the interests of rider survivability and health. The smart couriers will generally trick themselves out with the right options, like rebreathers, internal filters, internal air supplies. Others go for the protection, that wonder of personal safety, skinweave. Nothing heavy like the solos wear, but something light that might stop a few bullets.
Each cyclist is urged to carry a sidearm for personal protection. The courier boxes simply cannot not be opened on the street; they carried an encoded lock and the receiving party is sent the code on a secure, encrypted line. The format, length and transmission method of the code changes randomly. Physical Fix is doing so well with the courier business that they employ more couriers than they need, and generally half on the street at any given time will be carrying dud cargo, in the form of decoys. Fix will advertise this fact heavily, as it counts in their favor. Fix riders are paid well, and at half-rates for decoy runs.
Suppose you knocked over a Fix rider. The address of the receiving party is downloaded into the bike’s nav computer and can be wiped with a thought, and is set to wipe as soon as the cables are disengaged; i.e. when the rider falls off or gets off the bike to walk inside the destination office. It can be re-transmitted from the station but this is rare. You are then left with a box. It has no address or return address, and with the right equipment, should take about two hours to get into- with the right equipment. The boxes have an built-in pinger for tracking them which the police can also use.
To intercept a courier in any way, you would definitely have to have someone on the inside, who could tell you what was going where, and who was carrying it. To top it all off, the staff of Physical Fix didn’t use any computers in the courier process until it was delivered, then they simply entered the details for their records. There is no point in attempting a run against their system because it is all old news.
“Name and business, please.” A youthful-looking male guard prompted him. His partner was checking the results of the Scanway. Ferreras wondered if his balls had been irradiated.
“Cristo Alvarrez from Physical Fix, delivering to the Conference room on Floor Twelve.”
“Okay, we’re expecting you. Sidearm in the designated bin, please. It’ll be returned upon your exit. Please take Elevator number Three.”
Ferreras pulled the Sternmeyer Type-41 from his hip bag, pinching it by the butt, and dropped it into a shallow steel tray that ejected from the counter. It slid back quickly and the young Arasaka employee bagged it and marked it with some ID. The scan had been clear.
The Arasaka foyer, like most of the big Corps in the city, now had a tastefully designed courier bike rack, nestled in a u-shaped fernery, tall Australian rainforest ferns draping their huge feathery leaves over the surroundings. It was located within full sight of the guard post, and one bike rested alone in the four spaces. Ferreras picked it as belonging to a Dragstar Packages employee, Fix’s main rival. He didn’t want any trouble so he left it alone.
With most of the big companies convinced of Fix’s methods, interest in the courier company burgeoned. With fast couriers and rates that murdered the opposition – the software cowboys who would jockey the data in the Net-, and a speed that was satisfactory to most big Corps, Fix began branching out to other major cities, initially along the West Coast then across the U.S. and in Tokyo.The small number of troops in the corporate profile reflects the fact that each regional Fix office has a rotating staff of roughly fifty security staff who make sure nothing goes missing when coming in or going out. They are there primarily for the safety of the staff and clients, and are on-call for any downed rider.
Three five-man covert teams are stationed in L.A, N.C. and Tokyo. These teams have been used to recover stolen boxes or downed riders in ‘sensitive’ neighborhoods. The N.C. team gets the most work. So far, the Fix have only lost four riders and have not yet lost any secure data. A number of boxes have gone missing, but were recovered within twenty-four hours.
The Los Angeles office is experimenting with Kundalini Roadwork’s ‘Dart,’ a fast recumbent bike with full canopy, for regional deliveries. If this arm of Physical Fix is successful, stand by for the rest of the offices to adopt the procedure.
Each Office has a staff of around forty riders, and this number continues to grow. A number of rivals have sprung up or transformed from their primitive roots, but currently Physical Fix are the fastest, with the tightest procedure in town. Being so visible and high-profile, Fix generally attracts many freelancers and Personnel are able to cull out the wannabes to find the cream of the courier riders.
Physical Fix is a company yanked from my first C-punk novel (as yet unpublished). It’s a real pro outfit, but the camaraderie between employees is good, like an extended family. For one-shot games, players could be part of Fix’s covert team sent to recover a pinging box, or on the other side and hired to nab a box, and only given the description of the rider carrying the box. Getting the proper industrial cutting equipment to crack the box could be an ordeal in itself.For the action side of things, players could also play the Fix Security team, carving out a niche in a new city dominated by Dragstar Packages or a white-hot Cowboy team. Fix has not yet stooped to sabotage or espionage tactics in order to pull ahead of the opposition, relying on their efficiency and service, but what the manager gets up to in San Francisco or Detroit is hard to follow from Headquarters in L.A.
Finally players could have a go at the Couriers themselves. This introduces the need for a new skill at least: Bicycle. Once learnt, never forgotten. No IP modifiers. The riders need to defend themselves so Handgun at least would be wise. Workshop it. I hate enforcing rules on anyone else. Have fun and mind the traffic.