UploadVR worked with Jim Ivon, President of Labrodex Studios — the team behind the upcoming VR shooter Scraper — to post some excerpts from the game’s tie-in novel: Scraper: The Rise of Cifer.
Written by prolific sci-fi writer and New York Times bestselling author Ryder Windham, the novel begins in the year 2075, and serves as an introduction to the game’s characters and backstory.
Scraper: The Rise of Cifer is now available on Amazon in both paperback and digital formats.
You can experience Scraper for yourself and meet Jim Ivon, Ryder Windham, and other developers from Labrodex Studios at PAX East at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center taking place April 5 – 8.
Be sure to read Scraper: Rise of Cifer Chapter One and Chapter Two if you haven’t yet.
Chuck Harvey had hoped Susan Keevers somehow escaped the explo-sions at the dockyard, that she hadn’t been blown to bits or crushed under tons of falling shipping containers. But as he and Winston faced Keevers, saw her standing next to the red-haired man beside the crashed pod, with their helmets held above their heads, Harvey felt no joy or relief. He felt a mix of confusion, suspicion, and betrayal. He held his finger steady beside his rifle’s trigger.
Winston said, “Keevers, I had a hunch you gave us the slip at the dock-yard. Military-grade transponders are tough little things. It’s easier to switch them off than it is to blow them up or crush them. Susan, are you going to introduce us to your brother? Danton, isn’t it? From Beaumont?”
The red-haired man looked at Susan Keevers and said, “You told him about me?”
“No,” Susan said, “but he’s read my file.”
Winston said, “And I see the family resemblance.” He frowned. “Susan, MG reinforcements are on their way. Before they get here, I’m hoping you’ll tell me something. When did you start stealing shipments? And why?”
Danton Keevers said, “You wouldn’t understand.”
“I didn’t ask you,” Winston said, keeping his eyes fixed on Susan.
Susan said, “The shipments contained materials for ICARUS to build more Humechs. I . . . we wanted to stop that from happening.”
“Your brother’s right,” Winston said. “I don’t understand. This goes against everything the Multinational Guard stands for.”
Danton Keevers said, “Oh, and what does the MG stand for? How about nothing more than a tool for ICARUS’s interests. And ICARUS’s Humechs are running everything, including us. But what happens when something goes wrong, when the Humechs malfunction? If we don’t stop the robots, they won’t just run us anymore. They’ll run us into the ground.”
“You’re crazy,” Harvey said.
Danton Keevers dropped his helmet, and Harvey saw a small gun in the man’s hand. Harvey squeezed his rifle’s trigger, releasing a single blast of the heat ray. The blast struck Danton and Susan. Both screamed. Danton dropped his gun and Susan fell back against the crashed pod, but then she pushed herself off and started to run.
Winston was done with chases for the night. He reset his rifle to stun, and fired a wide burst that struck Susan and her brother from behind. Susan stumbled and fell on the ground while Danton collapsed beside the pod.
Winston watched the two fallen bodies, making sure they didn’t move. He heard a whooshing noise from overhead. He and Harvey looked up to see LCF-R in flight, illuminated by the radiant light from the city.
LCF-R descended and hovered in a wide circle around the crash site. Harvey heard more noise from across the depot, and saw several Multina-tional Guard vehicles, the backup he’d requested, flying fast toward his posi-tion.
LCF-R touched down near Winston. The robot’s silver cranium was made of contoured metal and plastic, and featured laser-etched facial plates with a prominent brow set above two crimson eyes, a narrow nose, a thin mouth, and exposed mechanisms at his temples and jaw. Advanced synthetic muscle tissue enabled his face to perform a range of human-like expressions. If his face had shown even a trace of smugness or amusement, Winston would have felt like blasting his head off. But seeing that LCF-R’s face displayed a combination of concern and relief, Winston said, “Your plan didn’t go the way you said it would.”
“No,” LCF-R said, “but you have apprehended the thieves, stopped them from taking the cargo of metals, and without any loss of life.”
The Multinational Guard vehicles swooped in. As they landed around the perimeter of the crashed pod and deployed soldiers and medical per-sonnel, Winston held LCF-R’s gaze and said, “When did you figure out that the thieves hacked our radios?”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you earlier, Commander,” LCF-R said. “You and your team were already in position at Dockyard 37 when I detected a flutter in the radio transmissions that suggested the thieves had accessed the Multinational Guard’s secure voice communication network. Given the complexity of the encryption system, I surmised that the thieves obtained the access codes from a member of your team.”
The MG medical team moved in with hover-stretchers to pick up Susan and Danton Keevers, who remained unconscious. Winston, still facing LCF-R, said, “But you didn’t know which member of my team was collaborating with the thieves?”
“No, Commander, I did not.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that you suspected one of us?”
“Because, I could not rule out the possibility that the thieves obtained the codes from you.”
Hearing LCF-R, Harvey gasped. “You thought the Commander might be working with thieves?”
LCF-R tilted his head to the side. “It seemed unlikely, but as I said, I could not rule it out. However, I knew that if the thieves intercepted our communications, then at least some of them were aware of our plan to ap-prehend them. I also knew that if a member of the Multinational Guard was in league with the thieves, then the thieves might also determine the locations for the other MG soldiers in the dockyard.”
Winston glanced at the soldiers who were loading Keevers and her brother into separate hoverpods, then looked LCF-R again. “So you broke into the shipping container, and waited for the thieves to draw their fire?”
“What about the explosions? The container stacks and the hydrofoil? You knew about those in advance?”
“No, Commander,” LCF-R said, and sounded almost affronted. “If I had, I would have attempted to protect you and your team, even though I wasn’t certain who was allied with the thieves. I suspect Lt. Keevers or one of her accomplices planted the explosives to distract us, so they could attempt to flee.”
Harvey said, “You think Keevers and her brother planned on ditching the gang the way they did?”
LCF-R shrugged. “Perhaps Lt. Keevers will tell you, but I suspect she hoped they would all escape together. Just as our plan changed, so did theirs.” He faced Winston and said, “Commander, I hope you will under-stand why I could not alert you earlier. After I realized the hydrofoil was a decoy, I deliberately refrained from responding to your radio communica-tion because—”
“Because you wanted the thieves to think you were destroyed or disabled while you tracked them.”
Winston recalled the strange shadow he’d seen while traveling through the maglev tunnel. He added, “And when Harvey and I went after the pod, into the tunnel, you followed us?”
“Yes, Commander,” LCF-R said, “to ensure that you would not be harmed in any conflict with the thieves. I never intended to endanger you or Lt. Harvey. I only hoped to help. If I can be of further help, please let me know. Now, if you’ll excuse me, ICARUS requires me elsewhere.”
LCF-R extended his arms and lifted off, ascending into the sky. Winston and Harvey watched LCF-R veer off, angling for the city, and Harvey said, “What now, sir?”
“Now we go back to headquarters,” Winston said, “and submit our re-port.”
Harvey said, “I never figured Keevers for a fanatic. I mean, I thought I knew her. We did karaoke together.” He shook his head. “She’ll go straight to military prison. And isn’t that ironic?”
“How so?” Winston said.
“Well, gosh, sir,” Harvey said. “All that stuff she said about Humechs running everything? I wonder if she knows the entire prison is guarded by robots.”
“I’m sure she knew that already,” Winston said. “If not, she’ll find out soon enough.”