PANDORAWritten by Wes Johnson
Pandora Konrad is one of the third generation of native-born Outlanders. She was raised in the citadel of Anasazni, a fortress dug into a mesa near the polar regions of Abandon. Anasazni's inhabitants specialize in weaponized coding, data security and cryptography; they are responsible for much of the automation used by the Outlanders to run mines and fabrication systems. They also create highly effective electronic warfare packages used to disrupt Legions of Steel
Pandora's first major achievement was at 14, when she crafted a Trojan horse program capable of forcing low order Machines into diagnostic re-boot, essentially knocking them out for a short period. While recognized as brilliant programming, the bandwidth and close range required reduced the applications potential for direct combat. Her project was shelved awaiting advances in delivery systems, and she was directed towards refining current data compression techniques.
Frustrated with what she felt were short-sighted superiors, Pandora signed on for an apprenticeship on the Haven Landtrain. It was during this period that she further optimized her attack programs. She also trained as an outrider and scavenger, taking advantage of the opportunity to acquire examples of Machine technology to test against her programs.
Skirmishes with smugglers and Fantasian privateers over valuable finds taught her valuable combat skills. During a fight between privateers and the crew of the Landtrain over a mostly intact Dreadbot wreck, she gained her PKM “Can opener”.
Upon reaching the age of majority, Pandora joined a small scavenger caravan, where her ability to optimize the automation of the vehicles and equipment increased their ability to locate valuable salvage. Wounded during a firefight with an Infiltration Pack
, she received a cybernetic arm, and claimed the remains of two X1 Runaways.
Her next step was to lay claim to an abandoned research outpost, where she devoted her time to analyzing Machine programming architecture, finding the points of weakness. Eventually, she was able to isolate the channels used by command units to direct basic combat models. Combining Machine tech with UNE communications electronics and ECM modules, she crafted a device that spoofed the command nodes in the Runaways and allowed her refined Trojan horse to overlay the behavioural programming with her own. This now allowed her to use the refurbished Runaways against their Legion brethren.
Pandora began to hunt the wastelands for individual Machines, using the Runaways to essentially shut down her targets, allowing her to further experiment with them in order to widen the range of behaviours and control she had over both the Runaways and their prey.
She became known by trading stations for the high quality and volume of salvage she delivered. Her reputation was cemented when she rescued a prospector family from an ambush. The tale of the young woman who could control Machines began to spread through the Outlander communities.
Pandora eased herself into the cover of an outcropping of rock, making sure to say clear of the razor coral spreading across the gravel. Gust of wind tugged at her sand cloak, spraying sand into her face, ticking against the lenses of her goggles. She scanned back along her trail, searching for her pursuer. Green lines presented a wire grid overlay of the terrain, the HUD showing ranges and wind direction, among other information.
She pulled a data pad from it's pouch on the thigh of her leggings, and quickly tapped out a series of commands, opening a series of applications. She paused to synchronize it's terrain display with her visor's, noting that Spite and Vex were in position for the ambush. Both showed their links to her to be at near full bandwidth, more than enough carry the command and Trojan applications she intended to test on her target.
Spite indicated it had a visual on their prey; Pandora quickly opened up a window that let her see what the subverted Runaway was seeing. Camouflage in shades of bone and ochre broke up the silhouette of the G3 Predator, disguising the powerful build of the Machine. It carried its Ice Rifle ready to snap onto a target, the skull-like head smoothly traversing as it scanned for her trail. It froze momentarily as it picked up the electronic signature of Spite, now carefully backing away from the G3.
Runaways were fast lithe hunters, attacking from ambush they grappled their target with all six limbs before jacking into electronics and subverting programming, turning the target against its own side.
Pandora had salvaged Spite and Vex a year before, repairing and modifying them into weapons to use against their brethren. She had re-wired their CPUs, twisting loyalty circuits against the Legions and Overlord, making them carriers for Trojan horse applications that could stun or burn out Machines long enough to make them a sitting duck.
Whatever a duck was.
The problem was that Pandora's software still wasn’t powerful or complex enough, yet, to totally subvert something like a Predator. For that, she needed to get it back to the Landtrain, where it could be kept immobilized and harmless while she conducted more research or lobotomized it.
In a moment, the Predator was going to realize the IFF signals from Spite and Vex were corrupted, likely rogues, and a threat, not allies. Its weapons would make short work of her pets if it resisted the Trojan.
Vex signalled it was ready to play its part, while Spite baited their prey into Pandora's line of sight. She carefully sighted her Fantasian PKM where she expected the Machine to come into the open. She didn't activate her force shield, the risk of the Predator detecting it and ignoring the Runaways to come directly for her was too high.
At her signal, Spite leaped from cover and sprinted in a zigzag towards the Predator, its claws spraying stones behind it. The G3's first round shattered rock just to the side of Spite as the Runaway twisted trying to get within the sweep of the Ice rifle. The Predator sidestepped Spite's rush, swinging its weapon back on target. The impact of Vex slamming into its back knocked it forward to its knees as it tried to club Spite aside with the barrel of the rifle. Vex anchored itself to the prey with its middle grappling limbs while its tail lashed across the Predator's torso, looking for an access point to download the control routines. Spite seized hold of the G3's right arm and rifle before thrusting the download module on its tail into the gap between the neck and collarbone.
The Predator stiffened, paralyzed by the conflicting commands cascading through its neural net. This version of the subversion program wouldn't hold a heavy unit
long, much less put it under Pandora's command. Before the Predator could throw off the effects, she squeezed her trigger, shattering the side of the G3s head and shutting it down.
Spite and Vex released its form and backed off, tails curled over their backs, ready to jolt it again if it moved.
Pandora was pleased, this was the most intact of a G3 she had gotten her hands on yet, analyzing it would go a long way to improving her software weapons. The Runaways sank to their haunches as she approached, seeming to preen for their mistress.
“Aww, who's Momma's good boys?”.https://www.rayboxgames.com/forum/legions-of-steel-lore/pandora-the-outlander-hero