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“I like the way you say that, all casual-like. We’ll just destroy it, that’s all. That’s a damned killing machine! They ain’t that easy to dispose of!”
“Sure, and if you believe that, then they’re invulnerable.”
—Raven and Arnold Nagy on Vals
“Do you know why we are called Vals? After a character in ancient Earth literature, one Jean Valjean. He stole a loaf of bread to feed his starving family and received life at slave labor as his punishment. He escaped, became great, and did only great things for others, yet he was hunted relentlessly and brought down all the same. The name is that of the victim, not the pursuer.”
Vals were created by Master System to be its elite agents and hunters.
Vals are like any other computer fighter, but with a dangerous edge; the past memories of those they hunt. When sicced on a person, they are endowed with the most recent mindprint of those they seek, which makes their voice change to that of their prey. Their computing capacity is considerable, with a vast array of armaments and armor on them that would seem impossible, but their main objective is to apprehend, killing only when absolutely necessary. They are humanoid in general shape, but they could never be mistaken for humans, due to their black, armored metal carapace and red eyes. Their “brains,” or core, are located not in their head, which is a decoy, but in their lower torso instead, where a naval would be in a normal human. It is best struck from the small of the back, and should a concentrated beam manage to strike it by surprise, the Val will short circuit. Its memories may still escape however, because their data banks are stored in an armored core which has its own punch capacity. Should a Val’s body be compromised, the core will melt its way out of the body, quickly accelerate to punch speed, and punch to a predetermined destination where its information will be relayed to Master System.
All Center workers are mindprinted regularly, so that Master System always has a copy of all their memories and personality.(reference?) When a Val is deployed against an individual, the last mindprint on record is downloaded into the Val databanks so that it will have all the past knowledge of those they hunt, as well as their personality. In effect, a Val knows its prey better than the prey knows itself, which leads to expected and unexpected consequences.
The expected consequence is that Vals, unlike normal security robots, become the best hunters in the world. The unexpected consequence is that Vals gain the capacity to feel, since they must be able to in order to understand how their prey thinks and reacts. Because Vals can empathize with their victims, they have a willingness to talk to them before apprehension, and indeed they are programmed to avoid slaughter and murder if possible. This empathy can often lead to doubts, doubts that even their programming cannot or purposefully do not suppress.
These doubts, such as doubting the moral legitimacy of Master System’s rule, are treasonous and quite dangerous to the system as a whole. Because of this, all Vals are reprogrammed after every mission through a process called Absolution. To a Val, it is like losing a part of itself, its very being. All the memories, both acquired and taken from a mindprint of their quarry, are completely erased, leaving the Val as virginal and obedient as when it was first built. Then it can be given another mindprint along with its new assignment and redeployed.
In the series Edit
Lords of the Middle Dark Edit
- Main article: Lords of the Middle Dark
Pirates of the Thunder Edit
- Main article: Pirates of the Thunder
On the Free Booter world Halinachi, Val Hawks had staked out the area. When Arnold Nagy, Raven, Vulture, and Manka Warlock came to the Lounge, it questioned them and placed tracers within Raven’s cigar box. It followed them after they left, but was destroyed by a desperate Arnold Nagy.
Val Hawks’ partner, Val China, had also staked out the Halinachi System and discovered the Lightning as it emerged from their battle with Val Hawks. Threatening to break the Covenant unless they allowed the Val to verify their identities, Arnold Nagy broadcast its threat to all Free Booters in the area. Fearing a dangerous precedent being set, Free Booters came in force from all around to defend Lightning. Though Val China asserted its rights to freedom of movement under the Covenant, so that it could follow Lightning, the Free Booters threatened to destroy the Val unless it left. Seeing itself outnumbered, Val China left peaceably to report to master system.
Warriors of the Storm Edit
- Main article: Warriors of the Storm
Masks of the Martyrs Edit
- Main article: Masks of the Martyrs