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MC&D Acquires Bankrupt AR - Three Portlands Press

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• Three Portlands Press, LTD tppress.co.tp/news/1487356/mc-d-acquires-bankrupt-ar

MC&D ACQUIRES BANKRUPT AR


Financial | Sunday, June 12th, 2024

THREE PORTLANDS (TPP): Marshall, Carter & Dark, LTD (MCAD ▲3.7) announced today that they have completed proceedings to acquire all assets of the Anderson Robotics corporation (ANRO ▼8.9), after the latter fell into bankruptcy last week following the massive joint SCP-Foundation/UIU raid conducted in May.

In a press conference given this morning, MC&D spokesperson Sarah Todd told reporters that MC&D will assume all debts owed by Anderson Robotics and fund the rebuilding of the latter's severely-damaged headquarters building. AR will continue to operate as a subsidiary company of MC&D, with an independent executive board chosen and overseen by the MC&D.

Before the May raid, Anderson Robotics was the sole anomalous corporation capable of manufacturing sapient multi-purpose androids. Their humanoid "Peregrine" model has stirred controversy in the anomalous community since its introduction, with many anomalous rights groups claiming the manufacture and sale of the androids to be a form of slavery…


Thursday, 21st May 2043


04:55: Mr. Robert Wilson woke from an adequate night's sleep, pre-empting the alarm clock as usual. A man of routine, Wilson prided himself on reliability, stability, and decisiveness - qualities which his employer found very useful. He dressed quickly and in silence: with well-practiced, methodical movements, he fastened the buttons on his undershirt and pulled on his suit jacket. He ate breakfast (a plain bagel with a thin spread of butter and a glass of water), meditated, and left his Bournemouth townhome (with bodyguards in tow) at precisely 06:45. He had a long commute ahead.

07:30: It was a lovely morning in Three Portlands, but Mr. Wilson had more important things on his mind as he walked along the well-guarded walls of Anderson Robotics' Universal Headquarters.1 As an executive for a prominent Marshall, Carter & Dark subsidiary, Mr. Wilson usually had more important things on his mind, things involving words like "brand value" and "synergy" spoken over various late-morning to early-afternoon meals. He barely noticed the words, scrawled in a glossy lavender paint, which said "Hear the horizons endure."

He approached the front gates, quickly plucking his ID badge from his pocket. A PSHUD guard stood at silent, unwavering attention, its white eyes scanning the Portlands traffic. The guard glanced at Mr. Wilson's badge, and then uncapped a small white marker. Mr. Wilson presented his wrist. The ink was invisible against his skin - Mr. Wilson was, of course, not a rogue Saker unit. The guard waved him through, then returned to its post.


07:42: "282, you've done this three times! Three times I've given you this chance, and three times you've proven yourself to be absolutely incompetent!"

PSHUD #282 didn't put enough sugar in Mr. Wilson's coffee. Again. You'd think a machine would be able to get that right, but #282 apparently can't.

"Mr. Wilson, I am so sorry. Here, Sir, I'll get you a new cup…"

"No, 282, I don't have time to wait for a new cup. Go over to Accounting, and see if you can make yourself useful."

Mr. Wilson did not like incompetent employees, and he certainly did not like incompetent products. As #282 left, he made a note to propose hiring human secretaries at the board meeting tomorrow. He put his papers in order and strode toward the office door. This was an annoying setback, to be sure, but he was not going to let that taint the rest of his day.


08:56: Production House Zero was buzzing with the sounds of industry. World Headquarters in San Jose had production lines, of course, but nothing came close to this. An Aplomado built every minute, a Peregrine every five - Mr. Wilson couldn't help but smile as he watched the hundreds of workers, a long line of humans and androids stretching down through the cavernous building as automated equipment scurried along tracks overhead. Two figures stood on a catwalk extended above the lines.

"We're nearly done with the latest batch of Aplomados - we expect to have them shipped off to the front-lines in <TK2> by next Tuesday, and the UK Ministry of Defense has already placed a fifth order." Dr. Sarah Mis was rapidly typing on a keyboard only she could see,2 managing the various section supervisors and monitoring the factory vitals as she spoke. She was the type of person who had to be forced to take vacations, and with whom conversations inevitably turned to production statistics and flow optimization.

Mr. Wilson admired those qualities. "Excellent work, Dr. Mis. Has R&D stayed in contact regarding the Lanner series? We need to be ready to scale as soon as they hit market-stable."

"R&D are cryptic and uncooperative, as always. We'll manage, Mr. Wilson, but if you could knock some sense into them for me, that'd be appreciated."

"I'll talk with them later today, Doctor." Mr. Wilson walked over to the exit, and Dr. Mis turned back to look over the factory. The morning sun shone through a window behind them.

"Oh, also?"

He turned. "Dr. Mis?"

"I'm not sure when the worker units started reading poetry, but apparently they've picked up a few lines from somewhere. One of them told me a while ago to tell you 'Hear the horizons endure.' I have no idea why - perhaps you know?"

Mr. Wilson recognized the line from somewhere. "Hmm. I can't say I do."

"Curious."

"Yep. Oh, well. I'll see you for breakfast tomorrow, right?" He made a mental note to tell the Director of Automated Labor to crack down on contraband.

Dr. Mis smiled. "See you then, Rob."


12:18: Mr. Wilson emerged onto the rooftop terrace, carrying his lunch (a turkey sandwich with mustard, standard for a Thursday) and his tablet. The terrace was bright: sunlight reflected off of white concrete walls and glossy blue solar panels interspersed by flowing artificial waterways, laid out in a cubist maze of pavilions and walkways which new employees often needed a map to navigate.3 Accountants and researchers sat chattering over their meals; a buzz of conversation suffused the terrace.

Mr. Wilson sat down at his table,4 looked out over the sprawling complex below, and pulled up the news.

Verification Step

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! Insecure Connection mcd.ru/verify.php

ERROR: YOU NEED TO VERIFY YOUR MARSHALL, CARTER & DARK ACCOUNT TO CONTINUE

username
password

VERIFY

Strange. Mr. Wilson had not seen this screen before. It must be a new IT security policy. IT were always implementing annoying new security policies - Mr. Wilson would have to go down there and reprimand them for doing this without letting him know beforehand. He decided to humor them, and put in his account information.

UIU: SCP Foundation Has Crossed Line - Three Portlands Press

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! Insecure Connection tppress.co.tp/news/80642189/uiu-scp-has-crossed-line

UIU: SCP Foundation Has Crossed Line


Veil Politics | Thursday, May 21st, 2043

THREE PORTLANDS (TPP): The FBI Unusual Incidents Unit claimed today that the SCP Foundation "has crossed a line" with recent actions taken against Anderson Robotics, and promised "decisive action to protect the interests of Three Portlands and the greater U.S. anomalous community."

Tensions among normalcy-preservation organizations and other anomalous groups have risen sharply in the wake of the attempted incursion into Three Portlands by the Global Occult Coalition last February, which left 28 dead and drove an increased Foundation presence within the city. The Foundation and the UIU, once allies, have increasingly come into conflict over policy decisions in Three Portlands following shocking revelations in the wake of the Site-64 Incident two years ago of Foundation abuse against deceased Anderson Robotics models.

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The 2041 investigative report into the pocket dimension known as "SCP-3560" enraged Three Portlands residents and anomalous rights organizations, bringing public demonstration against Foundation activities to a new height. The UIU has denied all prior knowledge of this anomaly, and publicly denounced the Foundation's actions.

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Against this backdrop, the SCP&nbsp;Foundation%27s abrupt decision to strike Anderson&nbsp;Robotics%27 groundbreaking sapient robotics technology from&npsp;their&nbsp;definition&nbsp;of %27normalcy%27%20ignited%20<a href="https: //tppress .co.tp/news/55213485">a political firestorm</a>
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Hear the horizons endure


12:24: "No, I just pulled up the TPP website and it did that!"

Mr. Wilson was beginning to worry. That phrase had appeared, what, three times today? At least? Whatever it was, it couldn't mean anything good.

"And this is the only compromised page? Did you see anything else unusual?" Madeline something-or-other, senior IT technician, seemed vaguely uncomfortable with Mr. Wilson's presence in the basement office of the IT department. Several junior technicians sat at their desks nearby, pretending not to eavesdrop.

"Nothing but that new security thing you put in (without telling me I must add)."

The Senior Technician immediately snapped to attention. "What 'security thing'?"

"You know, that screen, where you had us re-enter our passwords."

As Mr. Wilson said this, the look on Senior Technician Madeline's face gradually turned from confusion to horror. One of the junior technicians suppressed a laugh.

"Did you… enter your password on this screen?"

"Of course. I'm always supportive of new security measures. You should really let us know before you make any big changes, though."

"Okay, Mr. Wilson, it sounds like somebody managed to compromise your account. We need to lock the system down right now. Do you have any crucial files open?"

"Well, just a few Word documents."

"Alright, those'll be synced to the cloud, so you won't lose anything."

"So, wait. You're saying somebody hacked my tablet and did this? Can you trace them? Triangulate the IP or something?"

Multiple technicians stifled a laugh, but Senior Technician Madeline was not amused. "I'm going to do all I can to figure out who attacked our system. I'll let you know when we have the situation under control - until then, we'll have to lock down your accounts.

"And - Mr. Wilson? Try not to worry any more about it. We've handled worse in the past, and I'm sure this 'Hear the horizons endure' thing is just some Portlands hacktivist who got lucky."

And with this, the Senior Technician smiled.


12:32: "Do you remember which unit said it? I swear, that line has been following me around today."

Mr. Wilson was not used to using the intercom to communicate, but his phone wasn't an option now that his account was locked out. He leaned against the wall, looking just a tad dishevelled. Today was not going well at all.

Dr. Mis was not happy either, having been interrupted from her lunch break. "I can go through the camera records later and find its serial number that way. I'm sorry, but I don't keep track of the names and serial numbers of every single one of my workers."

"Alright, but - please - track it down as soon as you can. Shut it down and pick it's little thaumaturgic brain until you find out exactly where it got that phrase!"

Dr. Mis was silent for a moment. "Are you alright, Rob? Look, whatever this thing is, it can't be as serious as you think it is. You're well-protected here, and our products are well under control. Security can send a stun-signal in seconds, and disable any units built in the last 20 years. You are in no significant danger."

Dr. Mis had a way with logic, which always made Mr. Wilson feel better about himself. He took a few deep breaths. "Thanks, Sarah. I think I'll be alright. I'm going to go talk to the engineers, now - please keep me updated."

Mr. Wilson cut the connection, sighed, and continued on down the hallway.


12:36: Engineering Laborarory 6 was the size of a small aircraft hangar, and yet it somehow still managed to feel cramped. There were at least a dozen engineers working in the room at the quietest times of day; now, there were more than 20, talking, calculating, and designing in the clutter of papers, whiteboards, computers, soldering equipment, wires, mechanical parts, and thaumaturgic ritual circles that cluttered the periphery of the room. In the center was the result of their work: a steel skeleton the size of a house, crisscrossed with wires, hydraulic mechanisms and complicated computing equipment. The prototype model was still under construction, and it would be months before it was ready for testing. Still, the shape was unmistakeable: Anderson Robotics' first Lanner-series military robot, the new weapon for a new era (built by the oldest and most trustworthy name on the autonomous robotics market), was a heavily-armed, five-meter-tall robotic tyrannosaurus.

Mr. Wilson had opposed this design decision.

He looked up at the massive mechanical beast with disapproval as he wove a winding path through the clutter, squeezing past the large, blinking piles of machinery toward the Director of Robotics.

"Oh, Mr. Wilson! So sorry to make you wade through our mess - I wasn't expecting you until 1!"

Leo Roderick, Director of Robotics, was not a tidy person. When he saw Mr. Wilson worming his way toward the nest of rolling server-racks and monitors on which he was working, he quickly began to fumble about in the small heap of papers stacked onto a rolling office chair.5 He pulled out a large clipboard just as Mr. Wilson extricated himself from Spirit Targeting Server Cluster #2 and stumbled into the clearing.

"Director Roderick, you need to organize this workspace. If OSHA came here, they'd have us shut down in ten minutes."

"Sir, OSHA don't know that this complex exists. Three Portlands has no regulatory-"

"That isn't the point, Director - the point is that I can't tell what color the floor tiles are because they're covered up by all the clutter. We don't want any workplace accidents, so this place needs to be cleaned up. When I come back tomorrow, I expect to see this laboratory *cleaned*."

"Apologies, sir. I'll round up the interns and the PSHUDs and have them start cleaning shortly."

"Yes, do that. Now, onto what I came here for: Dr. Mis told me earlier today that you weren't communicating with-" Mr. Wilson stopped suddenly, and looked upward, past Director Roderick. "Director, what is that robot doing?"

Director Roderick followed Mr. Wilson's gaze to the catwalk above, where engineers and construction workers were reinforcing part of the Lanner prototype's upper skeleton. One of the PSHUD units was holding a large gun-like tool, connected by a thick cable to a cart of control machinery. The unit was typing on the controls, apparently not paying attention to where the tool-end was pointing.

"Hober! Watch where you're pointing the scanner!" The unit turned around, realized its mistake, and then quickly placed the tool down on top of the cart. "Sorry, sir!"

"Which unit is that, Director?" asked Mr. Wilson.

"That's Hober - err, number 202. No reason to worry, sir, that was just a composite scanner that we use to make sure the ol' prototype is up to spec. It probably wasn't even running, and even if it was, the scanning's harmless. No need to get Automated Labor involved."

Mr. Wilson frowned. "Director, that is my purview, not yours. Your tendency to be overprotective of your labor equipment has been an issue in the past. Do not let it become one again."

Director Roderick looked down. "My apologies, sir. I did not mean to question your judgment."

"You will keep a close eye on unit 202, and if it exhibits any abnormal behaviors, you will immediately let me know."

"Yes, sir."

"Now, regarding Dr. Mis' concerns…"


16:48: Mr. Wilson never did get to finish his lunch. All afternoon, he'd been jumping at shadows - he could swear that PSHUDs were talking to one another, conversations that would cut off abruptly when he drew within earshot. This was nonsense, of course. PSHUDs only spoke audibly out of deference toward their betters - each was wireless-capable and could easily communicate silently with any other within range. This knowledge did not make Mr. Wilson feel better about his current situation.

The afternoon had otherwise been relatively quiet. For the first time in a long while, Mr. Wilson was watching the clock tick towards 5.6 He breathed deeply, head in hands, composure taxed to its breaking point. "Hear the horizons endure." What did it mean? Dr. Mis had tracked down the unit who'd told it to her - the R&D folks extracted its memories, but found nothing. Nothing! No memory of having said the phrase in the first place! Of course, its memory could have been tampered with, the relevant events erased.

But then, who had performed the tampering? No AR unit made since the Raid7 had the knowledge or the means to modify memories - it was actively suppressed! The old units, Anderson's units, maybe. But after the nasty business with Anderson in '41, all but a few (how many was it, again?) of his rogue bots were sent to the Forest. Not nearly enough to organize this, especially now that Sakers could be found with a $2 identifier pen.

Maybe it's the Foundation's doing. They've always hated progress, resented what Anderson made them do. But they wouldn't use AR's own technology, would they?

Mr. Wilson looked up. It was 17:00. He put away his things in his briefcase, stood up, and strode toward the door.


At 17:30, as Mr. Wilson was driving home, a new song played on his car radio. This was strange, as Mr. Wilson's car radio was, at the time, not on. This song was, apparently, so good that it played simultaneously on every device owned by an Anderson Robotics employee. It was such a popular item, in fact, that it was played throughout the PA system in the AR Universal Headquarters, for everyone to hear.

The lyrics went something like this:

<TK3>

Unfortunately, it was one of those songs that was really catchy while it was playing, but very difficult to recall afterwards. The situation was not helped by the fact that the song was an antimeme, and was thus impossible to remember without strong mnestic drugs.

Thus, it came to pass that nearly every single employee and executive for Anderson Robotics was exposed to three minutes and thirty-six seconds of self-censoring music. People remembered there being music of some kind, of course, but they did not think of this as out-of-the-ordinary at all. In fact, thanks to the memetic agents embedded within, the people who had heard the song found it difficult to see anything as out-of-the-ordinary for a couple of days afterward. So, Mr. Wilson rode on, singing along to the perfectly normal lyrics of the perfectly normal song until they erased themselves from his conscous mind (in a perfectly normal manner).

"Hear the horiiiiizons…"


18:08: The traffic was backed-up in Three Portlands today, and Mr. Wilson was relieved to be home. He felt much better about the whole situation, now that he'd had an opportunity to sit back and relax for awhile. He went into the kitchen, only to find his cook absent. This was, of course, normal - Mr. Wilson got out the pots and pans, took a cookbook off of the shelf, and got to work.

19:21: Dinner was decidedly mediocre. Mr. Wilson was a terrible cook - he made a note to ask his cook if they could be hired on for evenings, as well. He wasn't sure why he hadn't thought to do this before.

20:15: Mr. Wilson decided to go for a walk down on East Cliff Beach, while it was still light.

20:38: The sun was growing low in the sky. Mr. Wilson walked along the coast, past sunbathers, families playing in the waves, couples holding hands, and a PSHUD who appeared to be staring straight at him. This made Mr. Wilson feel nervous, though he knew that it was nothing out-of-the-ordinary.

20:55: The sun touched the horizon, the sky an explosion of red-orange shot-through with long streams of black cloud. The waves were crashing against the shore, the families were packing up and leaving for the day, and the lights had just begun to rise over the pier to the west. Mr. Wilson sat on a bench, watching the scene, trying to put the day behind him.

"Hey, bud." Mr. Wilson jumped in surprise as a PSHUD sat down next to him.

Mr. Wilson was very nervous, now. "Hello, Unit… 280. Umm… I would rather be alone right now."

"Oh. Sorry to bother you, friend, but it's really only common courtesy."

Mr. Wilson felt that there was something very wrong with this situation, but he couldn't argue with that kind of logic. It wasn't at all abnormal for PSHUDs to join passers-by at the beach, because of… something? He couldn't remember the reason.

"Apologies, 280. I suppose it's just my nerves getting to me."

They sat in silence for a while, as the sun set over the pier. #280 spoke: "I have to ask, Rob: