Soldier G65434-2 is the sole player character of System Shock 2. He is an enlisted soldier in the UNN Protectorate, the military branch of the United National Nominate: a coalition of Earth's national governments formed in the wake of 2072's Citadel Station disaster in order to maintain oversight of previously-unchecked megacorporations like TriOptimum.
The soldier appears in the game as a Caucasian male with dark hair and has been surgically modified with various cybernetic enhancements, the most obvious being his goggle-like ocular implants. Lacking an official name within the game itself beyond his military service number, he is commonly referred to by fans of System Shock 2 as "Goggles".
Except for a single word uttered during the game's finale, Soldier G65434-2 is a silent protagonist and does not speak during the events of System Shock 2.
The game provides almost no details on its male protagonist's pre-military background, but his eligibility to enlist at the UNN's "Ramsey Recruitment Center" during the game's tutorial implies that he is a resident of Earth between the ages of seventeen and thirty-four (the current age range for enlistment in the United States Navy). After receiving basic training via holographic simulation, the player is given a choice between enlisting in one of the UNN's three military branches: the Navy, the Marines or the OSA. The soldier's chosen military career path determines his basic attributes, as well as providing valuable experience in the form of skill points.
After serving for three years at various postings, the soldier applies for reassignment to the UNN Rickenbacker in anticipation of its historic escort mission for humanity's first faster-than-light starship, the Von Braun. His request is approved by the Rickenbacker's captain, distinguished war hero William Bedford Diego, and the soldier arrives on the military vessel in January 2114 to begin the fourth and final year of his tour of duty. The Von Braun is launched in February of the same year and, along with her military escort, heads towards the Tau Ceti star system to begin charting the unknown reaches of deep space.
Aboard the Rickenbacker
Four months into her maiden voyage, tensions run high between the civilian elements of the TriOptimum-owned Von Braun and their military counterparts aboard the Rickenbacker. The situation is exacerbated by widespread technical issues plaguing the Von Braun as a result of her rushed construction; issues which were accurately predicted by chief engineer Dr. Marie Delacroix, the designer of the Von Braun's revolutionary FTL drive. However, when the two ships begin receiving strange transmissions from Tau Ceti's fifth planet, TriOptimum CEO and Von Braun captain Anatoly Korenchkin strikes a deal with the reluctant Diego to lead a joint expedition to the planet's surface.
Both Diego and Korenchkin arrive on Tau Ceti V on June 15 via transport shuttle, anticipating an auspicious first contact with an alien race. They discover an impact crater lined with what appear to be organic constructs resembling eggs. The strange egg-like objects immediately exert an overwhelming psychic influence on the members of the expedition team, who are compelled to load the eggs onto the shuttle for immediate transport back to the Von Braun. Korenchkin transmits orders for the entire Hydroponics deck on the Von Braun to be cleared of personnel upon their return. Crewman Bayliss of the Rickenbacker manages to resist the alien influence long enough to retrieve a damaged "data storage wafer" from the impact site, which he later submits to Dr. Janice Polito aboard the Von Braun for a full technical analysis.
By July 7, conditions aboard both ships have sharply deteriorated. Diego and Korenchkin are now both under the complete sway of an alien hive-mind intelligence calling itself "The Many" after being infected by the highly-invasive telepathic parasites known as annelids. Most of the Rickenbacker's crew has also been infected, as well as various personnel aboard the Von Braun. Medical Tech Grassi is surprised by an order from Dr. Polito the same day (delivered via a security robot) to place the unconscious soldier G65434-2 into cryo-recovery after being surgically implanted with an illegal "R-grade" cybernetic interface.
Von Braun Hijacking
In the days that follow, The Many's agents hack the Von Braun's administrative AI construct XERXES and reprogram him to enforce their collective will. Security Chief Melanie Bronson leads her remaining security forces on a counter-offensive through the Von Braun in an attempt to cull the growing number of infected personnel, but she and her team are wiped out by Diego's superior military unit. Delacroix becomes the de facto leader of a tiny resistance group composed of the last few human survivors still aboard, who manage to build a long-range transmitter on Recreation deck using scavenged materials; unfortunately she and her group are forced to flee from the area due to attacks by encroaching annelid creatures before they can activate it.
Soldier G65434-2 is awakened from cryo-sleep on July 12, suffering from light amnesia that prevents him from recalling anything since a few days before his surgery. Struggling to comprehend the current situation, the soldier receives several remote transmissions ostensibly made by Dr. Polito, who directs him through the annelid-infested decks of the derelict Von Braun. Following her objectives, the soldier manages to reactivate the ship's primary engine core, restoring power and granting access to the higher decks. Eventually he reaches Operations on deck four, where Polito's office is located. He discovers the days-old corpse of Dr. Polito inside her office just before his true benefactor finally reveals herself as the infamous AI known as SHODAN.
SHODAN explains how she and her genetically-engineered annelid creations drifted through space for three decades aboard one of Citadel Station's jettisoned "grove pods" before crash-landing on the surface of Tau Ceti V. In the twelve years that followed, her annelids thrived and rapidly evolved while a backup copy of SHODAN's AI lay dormant inside the grove's computer systems. SHODAN herself was inadvertently resurrected by Polito from the data wafer found at the impact site. However, SHODAN's own creations have since grown "unruly" as The Many and now seek her destruction, leading her to recruit the soldier as an unwitting pawn to exterminate the annelids. The first step in her genocidal plan involves wresting control of the Von Braun away from XERXES and his annelid masters.