“I run, I tinker. I tinker, I run. You don’t tinker? You better not run. Corporate ice is always evolving. Breaking it requires new software, new designs, more memory. Evolve or die.” - Kate "Mac" McCaffrey
Kate lives in New Angeles. Kate is a "natural", lacking cybernetic or genetic modification. She has received Public Sympathy after cleverly positioning herself as a victim of corporate malfeasance. She is most likely the creator of the Battering Ram icebreaker. Kate's greatest creation is the program known as Magnum Opus. Kate appears on the Netrunner cards 'Public Sympathy' and 'Modded'.
When running, Kate recommends oaty bars and Diesel. She originally designed the Lockpick chip for someone else, but decided to keep it for herself. Kate is also presumably the designer of the Paintbrush program.
Mac was born and raised in BosWash, the daughter of a single father who more or less raised her in his garage working on increasingly outdated automobiles. He bragged he was the only man in a hundred klicks who could repair a combustion engine, but when Mac tried to follow in his footsteps he told her not to. “This is guy stuff, sweetie,” he said. So began Mac’s lifelong habit of doing everything she was told she couldn’t or shouldn’t do. She rebuilt combustion engines. She played hockey. She modded electronics. She took boxing lessons. She wrote her own code. Anytime some suggested she was too young, or too small, or too female to do something, she threw herself wholeheartedly into it. Somehow, along the way, she became one of the world’s premier cybercriminals and builders of illegal hardware and software.
It’s a life that agrees with her, and it lets her meet like-minded friends and explore her own abilities and desires. She probably could use her talents to go legit, but people keep saying that their servers are impenetrable, or that she should watch out because the NAPD might catch her, and Mac is nothing if not stubborn…
Short Story Edit
(transcribed from the core rulebook)
"I like to think of myself as an artist," she said. Said. Out loud. With her vocal cords. Unplugged, perched on the edge of a stool so old it was made of wood. Her "desk" was a polywood flat laid over two sawhorses and strewn with humming, glowing electronic devices. One of these devices projected a virt display of a girl's plastic doll face, fied in a permanent plastic grin. The face spoke back from the small speaker at the base of the projector.
"An artist of... pixels? Qubits? Bytes?"
"Ideas," said Mac. She gestured and a virt screen, a luminous panel showing bricks of raw code, floating up in front of her face. "The bits and bytes and qubits aren't the data. It's just how it's written. Like a word isn't just a collection of letters. There's an idea behind it."
"So you use digital storage media as a means to express your ideas?"
Mac ignored the question. Her own anonymizer program was probably showing her as an old film or sensie star; she couldn't remember if she'd set it for Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, or Miranda Rhapsody. The code was good. She rested her hand flat on an induction interface panel and let the device synch with the nanowiring implanted under her skin. "There's great potential in the network, ways for us to communicate with each other, maybe new ways to structure our society. I just want to reach out and see what it can do."
"And what are you doing tonight?"
"Reaching out." She sent one final command and lifted her hand. "Are you listening?"
"I'm listening," said the doll.
Mac turned on her stool, looking out the window at the New Angeles skyline. She grinned as her handiwork wrote itself across the sky. "Try looking out the window, Ms. Lockwell."
"Why do you think I'm- oh my god." The mile-high Gila Heights arcology, all its lights flickering according to Mac's design. They circled and streaked, bloomed and exploded in a pattern of light and dark. The cycle looped three times before someone at Gila Heights managed to return control and shut it down. "Did you just flash that to all of New Angeles?" came the voice from the projector.
"Maybe," said Mac. "It would be easy. As easy as tracing you back to your office at Broadcast Square."
"You cracked the NBN firewall? You can't do that! This is why people think you're reckless criminals. This is why-" Mac killed the feed.
"Can't do that," she mused. She gestured and the virt displays clustered on her desk showed her a great big tower of data, the inaccessible NBN network, its spine running up the Beanstalk, its ports guarded by the best ice money could buy. The diagram spun slowly in front of her. Mac grinned and cracked open a new can of Diesel. "I wonder," she said, and called up a new window full of code.
"Are you listening?"
"It's called brute-forcing, and it's just as effective today as it was a hundred years ago"
"I'm just thankful that the brain damage is reversible. With the support of the city of New Angeles, I hope to be on my feet and back to practicing my art very soon."
"You haven't run until you've seen the cybersun drift down behind the Great City, the space around you rippling with colors you can't imagine."
"There's no replacement for a home-grown program."
“Of course the outermost layers of ice are easy to decrypt. That’s the point… Still, it makes you want to see what they’ve tucked inside.”
“After I cracked their R&D files and saw what they were doing, I almost submitted an application. I mean, they were developing some really exciting stuff. But then I just downloaded the designs and decided I’d beat them to the punch.”
"I run, I tinker. I tinker, I run. You don’t tinker? You better not run. Corporate ice is always evolving. Breaking it requires new software, new designs, more memory. Evolve or die."
"Hand-made code is like hand-made art. You can see the brush strokes, which lets you see the artist. And then you can see everything in a new way."
"CyberSolutions is a boring name for a company that makes pretty exciting products. Their memory chips have some pretty tricky stuff going on inside and I keep hearing good things about their M/MI implants. I even heard they were on the path to their own androids about a year ago. I wonder whatever happened with that?"
"I originally designed it for someone else, but it was so useful I decided to keep it for myself."
"It doesn't do anything in and of itself. It just marks you as an intruder and makes the next ice do all the work."