[Organizations]Hero Labs

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Invictus
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[Organizations]Hero Labs

Post by Invictus » Sat May 24, 2008 2:13 pm

This was going to go on the OZ thread, but it took a bit longer than I thought to finish. Must work harder!

Important Locations of Hero Labs

Hero Labs World Headquarters: Being the financial and administrative nerve center of the gargantuan global enterprise, people would expect the HQ of a company like Hero Labs to be some ultra-modern confection of steel and glass. But then they would be wrong. Despite being rather recently constructed, the Hero Labs HQ is a solid-looking Art Deco skyscraper with a modest height of 450m, not standing out much in New York’s skyline. Anthony Andrews never entertained the notion that being the richest man on Earth required the biggest office building on Earth, and in any case the very heart and soul of Hero Lab’s business is carried out elsewhere. The New York Headquarters is simply where all the paperwork gets done, although “simply” is hardly the word to use to describe the daunting duties that the thousands of staff face every day. Staggering amounts of data flow through the tower’s incredibly complex computer systems, processing reports from Hero Labs’ many branch offices and keeping track of its legion of subsidiaries, clients and competitors. The building’s servers contain an incredible wealth of corporate intelligence, gated securely behind some of the most fearsome cyber-security found anywhere on the planet. Hero Labs’ most prominent AI Klapaucius runs one of its primary instances here, and it is easy to imagine the ferocious power of the computing systems from this fact. Outside this and the building’s equally sophisticated defense systems, however, it is relatively mundane. There is advanced scientific equipment stored away in case of emergencies, as with all major Hero Labs facilities, but the only research that takes place within the building is in Andrews’ personal workshop of his well-furnished executive suite. It is fully designed for the CEO of Hero Labs to live in, and on busier weeks this is exactly what he does.

Contrary to popular imagination (and Andrews’ own temptation), the Hero Labs HQ is neither an army-annihilating battle fortress covered in concealed guns nor some kind of secret base that can swing open to deploy spacecraft half its size. Nor does it contain the features that more advanced Hero Labs facilities have such as grav-lifts, dynamic flooring and fieldwalls, as such tend to give municipal safety inspectors headaches. Nevertheless, the building is very well protected. A visitor may take note that directly in front of the automatic doors of the building’s entrance is an inoffensive-looking decorative waterfall, the logo of Hero Labs engraved into the backing rock wall. It is an open secret that the waterfall is in fact a solid slab of armor, revealed on one occasion when a particular supervillain tried to charge straight through it and into the building. This feature ensures that there is no direct approach through the skyscraper’s entrance. One may also notice that New York City’s ubiquitous pigeon flocks never roost on the building itself, despite the many nooks and crannies on its stucco. This is the result of a low-latency force field wrapped around the building’s exterior, separate from the bubble fields that are so infamously deployed to deter protestors. Many other discreet and effective security systems occupy the exterior and interior of the building, to the degree that espionage within the ranks of the employees is generally the greater threat. Numerous sensor systems monitor the city space, allowing its superheroic occupant to know of emergencies far before the press does and either contact his peers or lend a hand himself.

Hero Labs Experimental Science Center (ESC): Nicknamed ‘The Escape’ or simply referred to in light-hearted phrases like “Let’s escape!” the ESC is Hero Labs’ scientific heart to in the same way the New York headquarter is its administrative one. It is the single largest and most advanced complex that the company possesses, rising out of the countryside like a small city. And somewhat like a city, the ESC has been carefully designed to minimalize the impact of its everyday operations (not to mention the fallout of the occasional experiment) on the surrounding environment. Zero-point energy generators, although finicky, are practically required for their immense energy output - they provide the power for the extremely advanced infrastructure and instruments that pervade the fabric of the complex* and themselves replace the function of gargantuan particle accelerators in physics research. For ESC is where the most cutting-edge research of Hero Labs are carried out, and to visit the place is to catch a glimpse of the very bow-wave of human technological progress. Forcefield containment units, anti-gravity impellers, teleporters and weirder and more wonderful devices are all vital to the continuing experiments into the higher realms of physics, biology and engineering. Similarly, Hero Labs’ brightest minds with the highest clearances are gathered to work here, generously supplied with recreation facilities and other amenities. The staff can even live on the premises if they want to without lack of practically any need. Comfortable dormitories and highly advanced telecommunications are all features to look forward to, allowing passionate scientists to work on their projects full-time. For many Hero Labs researchers, getting to work at the ESC is a dream come true, even if they value family time and outdoor activities more than their CEO. And for science undergrads around the world, getting an invitation to tour the premises is the equivalent of finding a golden ticket from Willy Wonka. With the conflux of technologies drawn from a vast spectrum of company holdings and subsidiaries, practically every aspect of this is taken care of as efficiently as possible as well. Multi-storey hydroponic complexes and careful recycling minimalize resource waste, making the ESC even less dependent on logistics and more city-like.

All this has admittedly created an atmosphere of insularity that might seem unhealthy, but they are also partly measures for security. The truth is that Hero Labs is a perennial target of rival corporations, supervillains and secret organizations that resent its founder’s reputation or covet its wealth of advanced technology. This goes doubly for the Experimental Science Center, the proud crown jewel of Andrews’ enterprise. From subtle espionage to outright assault, the designers of the complex have learnt to be well-prepared for all eventualities. Robot sentinels patrol the hallways and the surrounding airspace, controlled by the most advanced computer systems money can buy which are in turn protected by equally fearsome cyber-defenses. Weapons the likes of which the outside have never seen are at the security personnel’s disposal, while impenetrable force-fields, one of Hero Labs’ technological fortes, protect specimens and seal off passageways. Self-defense is one right that Andrews asserts forcefully on company property, and the uneasy allowances that various governments make are a constant source of controversy. Critics indeed claim on the grounds of this that ESC is the ultimate manifestation of how Hero Labs’ paranoid security and corporate consolidation is squeezing the life out of technological innovation and progress.

*Wayne Banner’s teleporter installed in the Crowtalon taps into the municipal energy grid to function – and we all know what happens every time he activates it. In comparison, ESC is the hub of Hero Labs’ transpatial transportation network and can be called on to perform a dozen teleport operations a day without causing undue power outages.

Hero Labs Metahuman Field Research and Testing Center (“The Ice House”): The largest facility of its kind in the United States and the world, the MFRTC’s vast size and eye-popping array of instruments are devoted to the recording and quantification of metahuman abilities. At first glance it doesn’t appear much like a science center at all, more like some demented combination of a giant’s playground and an army training camp complete with mock towns and target ranges. But this is the indispensable “field” where the research takes place, providing an array of environments and conditions to match the sheer diversity of metahuman power that the center’s researchers expect to encounter. Obstacle courses that are all but impossible for even the most elite baseline soldiers to complete are used to test exactly how superhuman its subjects are. Targets of various materials and configurations test innate ranged attacks, while clever weighting systems test the limits of superhuman strength. Most of the center’s ground area is reserved for such hands-on activities, because the aim of the tests is not just to study the powers of the test subjects but to allow them to become accustomed to using their powers. Hence the “training” part of the center’s name – the metahumans that enter Anthony Andrews’ amorphous tutelary regime learn to control and perfect their abilities here, and to limit them, if necessary. In addition, the center is also manned by a small host of scientists who capture and process the data generated by these dynamic tests. They are often forced to be become quite creative in their experimental approaches to deal with the almost unique nature of every metahuman subject. The Hero Labs scientists work with a permanent detachment of UN advisors, who monitor the proceedings and add new entries to the encyclopedic Guild of Light and Shadow database. The center’s location is quite remote and secretive – it welcomes only trusted private parties and the occasional foreign military unit (The SDI having their own well-equipped training grounds), again not only for security reasons but also making sure that the occasional bouts of devastation are contained. It was in fact for this reason that the facility earned its nickname during the early days of its operation. Andrews himself was one of the first subjects to be tested on the site, and early explorations of his powers have rendered the entire facility inoperable for days at a time.

Hero Labs Aerospace Research Center ("The Dogyard"): This particular research facility, whose size is often compared to Area 51, is famous for housing the world’s largest private collection of B-52 Stratofortress bombers. When the United States Air Force began to phase them out for being well and truly obsolete, it was Anthony Andrews who decided to see if he could wring a bit more purpose out of the half-century old airframes. Managing to secure the deal on the weight of his world-saving antics, Hero Labs purchased many of the demilitarized airframes under the subsidiary and built this site to house them. Enormous airstrips and hangers dominate the facility, continuously modifying and launching the B-52s for research purposes. The ones that don’t serve as grounded technology testbeds have been modified to the point where a retired SAC general would hardly recognize them, with phased thruster arrays replacing the turbofan engines and all sorts of unfamiliar flight surfaces and equipment modules. The site technicians joke that their modified B-52s are more like ‘fossils’ than ever before, since even their very metal skeletons have been replaced with more durable composites.

The entire facility is very much the darling of Dr. Adam Cohen, an undergrad lab tech back in the Marlin Foundation days who had risen far. He is well known within the company for his eccentricity and love for jury-rigging challenges – most agree that it was this tendency that began the whole operation as much as for cost-saving reasons. In any case, the Dogyard has become reasonably successful, where one can see many a piece of next-generation avionic technology being implemented and refined. Many of the bleeding-edge warplanes of the SDI can trace their origins here, with breakthroughs such as antigravity repellers, compressed-space weapon bays and heavy particle cannons all succeeding on proof-of-concept B-52s before they were built into the first fighter prototypes. In the words of Dr. Cohen himself: “If you can make a B-52 VTOL-capable, you can make anything VTOL-capable.” That said, not all the B-52s Hero Labs acquired are destined to a fate of endless gutting and reconstruction and many of them have settled into interesting new lives. Some of the bombers have been converted into long-range scientific survey craft, with clean fusion reactors providing almost infinite endurance and mounted with batteries of advanced instruments to make sense of an increasingly strange world. Some have become commercial spacelaunch platforms with refitted engines and spinal mass accelerators, flying high enough to actually launch small payloads into space. The VTOL model with antigravity engine pods certainly exists, landing in places other planes cannot. Dr. Cohen is sometimes willing to part with these planes in the face of interested buyers, and they are not an uncommon sight in Earth’s skies. But the one commonality that all the converted bombers from the Dogyard share is that they have been thoroughly demilitarized, the reason of which dates back to the initial sales agreement with the USAF.
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Re: [Organizations]Hero Labs

Post by Ford Prefect » Sat May 24, 2008 2:25 pm

That was a very interesting read, and quite a bit of it was clever, particularly in regards to 'security'. Bubble shields for anti-protestor duties, how amusing. :D
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Re: [Organizations]Hero Labs

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Sat May 24, 2008 2:44 pm

Awesome. ESC! No doubt it will be for the irony of opening portals to Space Hell, resulting in Hero Labs scientists running for their half-lives :P

What else does the Dogyard have aside from B-52s? And does this mean that the USAF has completely retired their B-52s? Or did Andrews just end up with the planes that got "retired" in the Boneyard?
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Re: [Organizations]Hero Labs

Post by Invictus » Sat May 24, 2008 2:50 pm

Yes, I assumed that the USAF of OZC! Earth has entirely retired its B-52s, need for cheap and massive bombwagons notwithstanding. But I reckoned with its Runaway Defense Budget, it would have a replacement by now. Andrews bought most of them, or at least the ones still in reasonable condition.

The Dogyard is famous for the refitted B-52s, but it indeed hosts a lot of other experimental aircraft like the hypersonic field-geometry test plane Garuda.
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Re: [Organizations]Hero Labs

Post by Peregrin » Sat May 24, 2008 2:56 pm

This makes me want to write a story set in the Hero Labs facility, perhaps a high stakes corporate drama that's like a John Grisham book... but with superheroes.
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Re: [Organizations]Hero Labs

Post by Mobius 1 » Sat May 24, 2008 4:05 pm

Per's actually has a great idea in a corporate intrigue story- with superheroes. That would assuredly be rather neat, and Hero Labs is unquestionably the place to host it.

As for the article, it's really rather well done, and of the multiple facilities, it would have to be the Ice House that interests me the most. We've all mentioned how Hero Labs provides training to young metas, but to finally have it enshrined in an article is something else- it's extremely fertile ground for stories. From the "young heroes going to school" Harry Potter style-arc to the "Hey, we've got something big on our hands" openers to a simple story just going deeper into the daily functions of the Ice House and seeing it action would be absolutely superb.
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Re: [Organizations]Hero Labs

Post by Heretic » Sun May 25, 2008 2:23 am

Give me a summary on what the hell the Hero Labs are. I can't find it anywhere.6
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Re: [Organizations]Hero Labs

Post by Ford Prefect » Sun May 25, 2008 3:25 am

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Re: [Organizations]Hero Labs

Post by Heretic » Sun May 25, 2008 5:17 am

lol, of course I wouldn't know. When i came to OZ, Comix! was so big that I would have a mental overload just trying to search for something I didn't know existed earlier. Ah well, we can start afresh a little here. (and save my brain)
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Re: [Organizations]Hero Labs

Post by Invictus » Sat Dec 05, 2009 8:46 pm

Some more notes on Hero Labs:

The Six Primary AIs
The daily operations of one of the largest multinational corporations in the world, not to mention the supervision of its countless subsidiaries, acquisitions and contractors, is thankfully heavily automated. While legions of clerks and managers are still employed in metropolitan offices worldwide to handle the paperwork, they are assisted by a host of superhuman artificial intelligences purpose-built for data processing, planning and monitoring. Similarly, the numerous research and security personnel find AI companions in their tasks. There are a large variety of AIs employed by Hero Labs ranging from simple savant routine to enormously sophisticated constructs with full-fledged personalities, but among them six are the most famous and most important.

Klapaucius, Sebastien and Makoto: The most senior, most pervasive and the most computationally powerful, this 'trinity' of administrative AIs were built on the same hardware foundation. Based respectively in the USA, Germany and Japan, they serve as general overseers of Hero Labs assets and facilities across the globe, entrusted to keeping the entire system healthy and efficient. The three AIs consequently command an endless number of subsystems and surveillance agents flowing through the megacorporations' data networks, attended by an equally numerous host of firewalls and security programs, always on the watch for any irregularities in the physical and virtual world. However, they are not distant and impersonal overseers - as according to the design philosophy of the inimitable Dr. Mariez, all AIs of this level of sophistication possess the ability to interact meaningfully with human beings in order to develop familiar patterns of behavior one could easily term as personalities. Therefore although the three AIs are based on the same template, they have become acculturated very differently as they interact with their local human charges.

Monet: If the 'trinity' was designed to monitor vast and complicated systems from within and even embody them to a certain extent, then Monet was designed to be the ultimate outside observer of the large-scale. With access to an enormous array of weather and observation satellites both national Hero Labs-owned, Monet was initially built to assist Anthony Andrews' efforts in fighting global warming. Rather than being highly dispersed and rigidly hierarchical, its analytical faculties were nonlinear, holistic and infinitely abstractable, as nothing less was required to make sense of the global climate patterns it scrutinized. This was a task it performed admirably, and today it continues to attempt to make sense of a chaotic world, on the outlook for any long-term and subtle trends - such as effects of the widespread adoption of nuclear fusion - which may threaten humanity.

Euclid: Housed upon gargantuan mainframes in the labyrinthine depths of the Experimental Science Center, Euclid is a powerhouse of research programmed with an extraordinarily broad and comprehensive understanding of science. Initially created with the single but momentous task of solving the hyper-geometric problems required to develop Hero Labs' first generation of true forcefields. Like its peers, Euclid has widened its portfolio since then to include the precision control of the many scientific instruments within the ESC. While serving as a general consultant to the human scientists, Euclid is also programmed with a riotous creativity quite at odds with its factual rigor.

Spartacus: While all the AIs above are built to operate on the large scale with powerful substrates and wide-ranging concerns, Spartacus was an experiment in economy and self-sufficiency. It was designed to engage human beings on a one-to-one level, and in order to do that it must be able to squeeze into hardware of limited processing speed and capacity. As such, instances of Spartacus can be found loaded into branch terminals of minor Hero Labs facilities, aboard the flight computers of scientific survey planes and even in Doctor Difference's armor itself. Their configurations and specialties are as varied as their environment, though being a versatile and sophisticated construct it is never used where a simpler and more specialized expert system can suffice.

One distinguishing feature of these six AIs is they run Hexatron, an extremely popular technology blog renowned for its reliability and occasional exclusive insights into the inner workings of Hero Labs itself. Each AI takes on a distinguishable voice and manages its own section on science topics, current events and technological gizmos, with a large discussion forum attached to each. However, almost all of Hexatron's readers believe that the blog is in truth written by several Hero Labs staffers pretending to be its AIs - and the actual AIs themselves make no attempt to dispel the illusion.
Last edited by Invictus on Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [Organizations]Hero Labs

Post by Booted Vulture » Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:05 pm

The last section of the article reminds me of the old great: Ask Olympic thread.

Are all the separate instances of Spartacus, separate or networked together? Can you walk into a Hero Labs Lab and ask for Spartacus and get an impromptu rendition of the famous Kirk Douglas scene.
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Re: [Organizations]Hero Labs

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:56 pm

NO! I AM SPARTACUS!

I am glad that Doctor Difference and Hero Labs remain very much in the game, in current Comix canon, and is one of the "first-generation" characters who've consistently caught up with the wildly changing stuff in Comix.

I would've thought Monet would've also incorporated Hero Labs Deep Space Telescopes as well as those earthwards-pointing weather satellites.


Upon rereading the OP, I now have the awesome thought of Archwind PUMPING IRON at the Ice House, lifting neutronium-ingrained barbells and doing push-ups in a room not entirely like those Son Goku used in Dragonball, where he could crank the gravity OVER NINE THOUSAND and STRAINED AND CONSTIPATED while performing exercises and increasing his strength as his spaceship takes him to Freezer or Piccolo or whatever the badguy was, during those early seasons.
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Re: [Organizations]Hero Labs

Post by Ford Prefect » Tue Dec 08, 2009 1:08 am

Booted Vulture wrote:The last section of the article reminds me of the old great: Ask Olympic thread.
Man, those were the days. :)
I would've thought Monet would've also incorporated Hero Labs Deep Space Telescopes as well as those earthwards-pointing weather satellites.
As I took it, Monet is essentially a vast predictive engine of sorts. I think I can safely say the name is not entirely random, thought maybe linking the AI's job to Impressionism is a little too pretentious on my part.
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