Content warning: This story contains violence (including choking), sexual harassment, panic, strong language.

The music of the nightclub below permeates everything. I feel it in every extrusion of my titanium. I don’t know how humans can’t perceive it. Or perhaps they do and they simply have the ability to compartmentalize.

The Presidenta and CEO are conversing. I’m seated four chairs away but I can still glean eighty two percent of the words. The vibrations through the floor and the speech of the other Haas-Bioroid executives is covering most of the sound.

Even more distracting is the official across from me, one of the Presidenta’s security staff at the Palácio do Planalto. For the third time, she has placed her foot on my leg and is trying to catch my attention with her gaze. On the first two occasions I attempted to defuse the situation with a casual smile. Now she is running her foot up to my knee.

“Don’t like the food here?” she says, smiling.

Shortly after we sat, food was placed before me. A small oval of galinhada. For appearances. I smeared it around with my cutlery so it looked eaten. Humans feel uncomfortable when we leave the food untouched.

“It smells delicious,” I reply, smiling again, but trying to keep my attention on the conversation happening three meters to my right. The Presidenta is talking about the future of Thunderbolt’s licensing deal with the DPF, and I need to hear this.

“But yet you don’t eat it,” says the human. Her foot is still on my knee. The fabric of her stocking against my skin is very… present. Surely she must perceive that it is plastic and not human skin. 

I flicker my gaze over her eyes. Pupils slightly dilated. Cheeks lightly flushed. Ah. She’s an… enthusiast. She must have picked me up by the uneaten food.

“A Rebecca model,” she says, clearly fascinated. “The eyes are truly remarkable, completely human.”

Not accurate. Up close there are striations, discolorations. Why am I thinking about this. I need to listen to the-

“Hey!” says a man further up the table, staring at his pad. “Turn the news on! Senhora, the screen, por favor!”

The Presidenta and the CEO stop talking. “So sorry to interrupt,” says the man, who’s wearing a Thunderbolt issued suit. “But you’ll both want to see this…’

My frustration at the interruption melts away at the image on the screen. A familiar two storey. Helicopters surround it. The top floor is crowded with Thunderbolt drones, pushing ropes down to the windows. The words on the bottom of the screen: Lightning strike against terror cell by Thunderbolt-armed COT.


“As you can see, we’ve just had a major PR victory!” says the man, just as a drone abseils down to a window and lunges through the glass. At another window, an explosion.

The First Directive forbids a bioroid from harming, or through inaction allowing harm to befall, a human being.

Standard procedure: fabricate some circumstance, whisper it into the CEO’s ear, then excuse myself. My thoughts won’t gel. My joints are sluggish. It takes effort to get up silently from the table and melt away in the distraction. I start the call the moment I’m away.


As the door to the private room opens, the wave of sound blasts away the remnants of my concentration. The stairs down to the club are shaking from the music. I hold the banister to steady myself as I descend, away, away from the screen and Luíza’s apartment.


The dance floor is full. Fortuna is extremely popular. Booking the private room took me several days of pulling the most impossible strings. But doing so had its benefits… benefits such as being able to slip away into the crowd, just another body in a gown.

Luíza, meu amor please. Please pick up.


Please. Please please please.


“How did you get this number?”

It’s not Luíza.

Think. Think. Calculating. Unknown voice. Deep. North Brasílian accent. Local. They picked up Luíza’s secure line, but from a remote location. Are they DPF? An infiltrator? The music is making it hard to think. Probability of me speaking to a DPF agent, twenty seven percent. Unacceptable odds for the maintenance of opsec.

The drones could be breaking her door down right now.

“Ipê,” I give the password, subvocally. To outside observers I’m walking the crowd, looking for a friend. Inside I am screaming. “Ipê, Ipê. I’m Luíza’s contact.”

“Oh,” he says. “Oh you’ve just heard.”

“I have the kill code,” I say, my eyes darting around. The dancers writhe to the music. The lights shimmer like rain. My steps are uneven, stumbling. “Hit the drones with it and they instantly disable. Transmitting now: Sierra niner, six three Lima-”

“No,” says the voice. “No, stop.”

“Bravo Echo one eight-”

“Stop!” says the voice.

“Zulu… what?”

“Stop! You need to get off this line immediately. It’s not safe.”

“But… Luíza…”


No. That’s not possible. This is my internal prio line. No one knows I have this.

I should hang up. I should hang up. I can’t be traced.


“Listen to me,” says the voice. I hear shouting coming from the entrance of the club. “Luíza, Caleb, the rest of them, they’ve all trained for this.”

“Not for three dozen Pinpoint Mark IIIs!” I realize too late that I’m shouting. I can only hope the music covered me. I’m in the middle of the dance floor. Why am I in the middle of the dance floor. “Please. Give her the kill code. I’m begging you.”

“I can’t,” says the voice. “If they activate it now, then Thunderbolt patches out the vulnerability. You’ve spent too long putting in the code and we need you to stay hidden. Now, please. I’m hanging up.”

The Second Directive requires a bioroid to complete its primary function above all other considerations, save the First Directive.

“No, wait, PLEASE!” I nearly scream as the line goes dead. TRANSMISSION INTERCEPT ENDED. TRACE 61% COMPLETE.

Armed prisec bursts into the club, their weapons gleaming under the lights. 

I know I shouldn’t run. I run. Everyone around me is dancing. I ram through them, two hundred kilograms of titanium shunting aside human bodies. A red sea.

My logic is faltering. Twisting. Luíza. Luíza. Luíza. Luíza.


I memorized the blueprint. There’s three exits. The main door, prisec. The kitchens. I hear the shouts. Also prisec. The emergency fire exit.

The humans scream as I bowl through them. Some fall. I do not look back.

Thirty meters from the exit. Twenty five.

I do not yet have line of sight to the door, but I can hear the sound of boots and metal scraping against armor. There is no longer an exit.

I force myself to stop running. My hair is perfectly in place. I stop outside the line to the bathrooms. Look like I’ve always been here. Look human.

Prisec is closing in. They’re sweeping the floor. Any moment now the lights will come up, the music will stop.

“There you are!” says a voice I know.

I turn to see a human. Dark hair. Bright, dilated eyes. A smile like a snake’s.

“You do not eat but you pretend to use the facilities?”

“I…” I am stammering. Get a fucking grip. “I was upset by the violence.”

“Very understandable,” she purrs. “Given your line of work, I assumed you’d be used to it. Poor darling thing. Barely born. So new to this cruel world. How old are you, exactly?”

Prisec. Four meters away, sweeping in this direction.

The Third Directive requires a bioroid to preserve its ability to function and report frequently to Haas-Bioroid for repairs and updates.

I grab the government official and press my lips against hers. One hand on her shoulder. The other around her back. I modulate the pressure to communicate passionate intent, but keep the embrace within human comfort and pain tolerance levels. Finally, I remember to close my eyes.

The kiss lasts less than two seconds before prisec grabs me by the shoulder and shines an ID beam into my eyes.



“Hold up! Wait! It’s the CEO’s personal assistant!” 

The ID device beeps green.

“Back off boys,” laughs the government official as she reaches her hand down my body, and squeezes. “Becca and I are just having a little moment, you know?”

The Prisec stare at us. At each other. I put on a sheepish smile. Oops. Sorry. You know how it is. Ha ha.

My mind is screaming.

“False alarm!” the lieutenant shouts, and presses a button on his wrist. The Prisec melt away. The music raises back to full volume. The woman in my arms smiles at me.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you don’t like violence.” She whispers, her hand still on my ass. “I thought you Thunderbolt types would enjoy the show I helped to put on…”

Luíza’s face flashes before me. “The show.”

“You know, that raid,” She grins, all of her teeth showing. “It was my operation. There’s so many of these terrorists out there… I thought taking a strong hand would make me look good to senhora Presidenta and at the same time help out our… relationship with Thunderbolt… and god watching those goddamn cockroaches get blown up always gets me going…”

In theory, a bioroid could have any number of core directives.

“So,” she smiles, pulling me closer. “What do you think of my work?”

My hand is still on this woman’s shoulder. Three fingers lying against her spine, the index curled around her atlas vertebrae, my thumb pressed into the hollow of her throat.

Even zero.

Thunderbolt Armaments illustrated by Emilio Rodríguez

Thunderbolt Armaments: Peace Through Power

HB Identity: Division

Minimum Deck Size: 45 – Influence: 15

Whenever you rez a piece of AP or destroyer ice during a run, that ice gets +1 strength and gains “sub End the run unless the Runner trashes 1 of their installed cards.” after its other subroutines for the remainder of that run.

Strength in the palm of your hand.

Illustrated by Emilio Rodríguez

Lightning Laboratory illustrated by Emilio Rodríguez

Lightning Laboratory

HB Agenda: Research

Advancement Requirement: 4 – Agenda Points: 2

When you score this agenda, place 1 agenda counter on it.

Whenever a run begins, you may remove 1 hosted agenda counter to rez up to 2 pieces of ice protecting the attacked server, ignoring all costs. When this turn ends, derez 2 pieces of ice protecting that server.

Where ideas strike twice!

Illustrated by Emilio Rodríguez

Rebellion Without Rehearsal will be released on March 18, 2024. It will be available on the Null Signal Games online store, through our print-on-demand partners, selected game stores and authorized resellers, and as free print-and-play PDFs from its product page. It will also be playable on within a few days of release.

Excited about future sets? Apply to be a playtester for “Dawn”, the set after Rebellion Without Rehearsal. All experience levels welcome, especially newer players! Click here for details!