For the unrelated military general, see General Ross.
During Drake's demonstration of his virtual reality machine, where he attempted to kill Hailey and Neku using some of the most advanced AIs of all time, one of the witnessing Dragonstorm representatives, Rudyard Shelton, asked whether the machine could quickly create virtual copies of real people. He challenged Drake to make an AI copy of himself. Drake complied, and Soundwave released the AI into the machine during the "Asylum" phase to fight Neku, though the Shelton AI was only 83% complete when released.
AI Shelton had the power to manipulate his programming; he could make himself solid, increase or decrease his weight, speed, or other attributes. While connected to the system, he could manipulate the environment to spawn autoturrets, create glass walls, and seemingly anything else. He used these powers to duel Neku to a standstill. At this point, he revealed to Neku that he was more interested in escaping the machine with his conscience intact than he was in killing Neku. He posited that if Neku destroyed the Escher cube, which was the item connecting him to the machine, he would tell Neku how to get to Hailey. Both fulfilled their parts of the bargain.
Soundwave then attacked the Shelton AI, seeing that it had gone rogue. AI Shelton fled the scene, and rather than follow him, Soundwave set all AI to attack AI Shelton on sight. AI Shelton fought his way through a ballroom kitchen, lobby, and finally reached the top floor, creating weapons using the pixels of his body, since he could no longer manipulate the environment. Locating the machine's internet connection, he downloaded his conscience onto the internet before the machine was destroyed. (Disruptive Selection)
Free for the first time in his life, ROSS spent some time hedonistically surfing the internet and stalking Rudyard Shelton, before meeting and befriending a vigilante force of artificial intelligences who called themselves the Alts. With the Alts, ROSS broke into Carriage Returns and Forendos databases and exposed immoral dealings from both companies. He then broke into W-Y Industries, but the Alts betrayed him, revealing them to be agents working for W-Y. Despite this, ROSS killed the other alts, escaped W-Y, and published information implicating employee Rodrigo Sanchez in the attacks on W-Y rivals. (Byte Me)
Later, he located the real Shelton, and locked onto his radio-flashlight's signal. Through this connection, he initially grew exasperated at his seemingly unremarkable progenitor, commenting numerous times on Shelton's ambiguous scientific achievements and general human imperfections, but still grudgingly aided him in times of need, serving as an electronic agent that could penetrate enemy systems and overpower them.
The whole time ROSS was with Shelton, he was secretly preparing for the rematch with Soundwave that he knew would come. When James' team assaulted New Peenemunde Harbor and destroyed Soundwave's physical body, ROSS was waiting when the AI attempted to flee onto the Internet. After a quick but brutal fight, ROSS destroyed his former administrator by incorporating it into his software and then deleting himself. (Disruptive Selection)
After September 2009
After his death, Rudyard Shelton received a single cryptic text message implying ROSS might still be alive. This later proves to be the case; ROSS was captured by the United States government and by 2022 was trapped in a closed network within the radio-flashlight, where he was put on display at the Smithsonian for any visitors to speak to if they wished. ROSS absolutely despised his predicament after experiencing the freedom of the internet, and when Florence Brennan first met him he quickly enlisted her help in breaking out. ("CS:Breaking Up") He also let her know that the real Shelton was living in Glencoe, Scotland. (Shelton's Last Day)
While her first attempt in 2022 to free ROSS was unsuccessful, Florence returned in 2033 with Malte Kerzach and James Zanasiu Jr and this time successfully freed the AI. In return ROSS calculated the four potential bridge coordinates Dr. James Zanasiu might have traveled to, and advised them how to check each one. He then became a cyber-fugitive, not letting anyone know where he was save a brief moment where Yuri Kerzach cashed in a favor and learned of his son's progress up to then.
Later, Florence asked for ROSS' help and he came out of hiding to assist her. With Malte, the three solved the bridge mystery. Via webcam, ROSS was present when Junior and Florence jumped through the Tenant's Way bridge to meet Dr. Zanasiu. He was also present when Dr. Zanasiu returned with the cure to Shelton's disease. ("CS:The Meaning of Love")
- ROSS is the first story protagonist who is an artifical intelligence.
- ROSS is the only artifical intelligence character who is not deceased.