Eclipse Phase - Apocalypse

The Black Signal

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To: Jerome Dakka, Xue, Titania, Uranus system
From: Roland Abernathy, Thoroughgood, Dione, Saturn system

Yo, dude, what’s up?

Yeah, it’s been six years. I bet you thought I was dead. Turns out I’ve just been kinda out of touch. Hey, maybe we should get together and catch up sometime, shoot the shit, see if there are any other good scores. data corruption detected, signal integrity compromised, correcting

decryption key accepted
Juniper Seven, this is my report, much delayed. Six years, two months, seventeen days ago the pirate expedition I had infiltrated and co-opted was attacked in the lateral-six quadrant of Iapetus’s eastern hemisphere. Exsurgents consistent with the standard Iapetus worker phenotype assaulted our position and collapsed the ice-substrate on me, crushing my morph. Fortunately, the Spare-model morph I had attached to my back downloaded the contents of my cortical stack and was relatively unharmed. Unfortunately, it was buried under thousands of kilograms of ice, and immobile. I powered-down to minimum draw, just enough to run a passive radio monitoring program set to bring me back to full power should I detect transhuman radio signals. This, apparently, took some time.

Ordinarily, I would consider my mission into Iapetus a failure, except that I was found by a covert operations team rather than another band of pirates or scavengers, and they rather surprisingly brought me along, fully awake and conscious, rather than execute me and destroy my stack for OPSEC and INFOSEC purposes. They appear to have fully accepted my cover-personality and seemed more concerned with deterring me from looting earth relics than determining any other ulterior motives for my presence. They seemed to be a very capable team with an exceptionally diverse skill-set. They certainly took down the “trolls” in the tunnel nearby. Their unconcern for OPSEC and INFOSEC surprised me until they revealed they were Scum from the Gulag Archipelago. I guess even Scum need their specops teams, and they probably wouldn’t be as concerned with such things as, say, we are.

They were clearly on a mission of some sort into the heart of Iapetus. They were pretty good at having most private conversations via a local VPN that I couldn’t crack, so I relied on quiet observation to try to piece together their objective, but it remained a mystery to me until we reached a section deep inside the moon (map file attached) that was still fully operational and apparently continually maintained by active nanotechnology. It appeared to be an immense conduit for electromagnetic energies nearly 100 meters across. The swarmanoid/hacker on the team sought to cross the open space which activated the latent systems. Immense power filled the conduit and we were contacted by a… surprisingly human personality construct that called itself Jonathan.

Jonathan, with the full processing power of the Iapetus matrioshka brain behind it, seemed not even to notice pesky things like VPNs. Its conversation with my companions, and with me, was fully interactive, and provide most of the data for the operational portions of this report.

Much of the interactions between Jonathan and the team made little sense to me. I’ve attached the full XP recorded by the Spare morph to this report, but I’ll try to summarize. It would appear that some time after my own failed infiltration, an individual named Karl successfully did so. This “Karl” was… not human in some way I don’t fully understand, but I suspect he was an async of unusual power because he was able to trigger the moon into interacting with him. That interaction took the form of spinning up a personality construct based, apparently, on a real human… this Jonathan. Jonathan claimed that he was chosen from the “billions” of people in storage on Iapetus, egos he rather dismissively referred to as “local copies.” He claimed that his only real memory prior to waking up in the heart of the moon was dying at the hands of a headhunter drone during the Fall. My companions asked why he had, apparently, egocast someone named “Ake” to the Long Array on Dione. He claimed that it was specifically to lure one of them, Vilya Skaarsgard, to Iapetus. Apparently this “Vilya” is infected with the same strain of the exsurgent virus as “Karl,” and Jonathan wanted her to replace “Karl” as a conduit for something Jonathan called the Black Signal.

This section is speculation based on fragmentary information gleaned from the interactions between the Gulag Archipelago team and Jonathan. I’m guessing that this “Karl” developed an async ability to psychically link with other people that he had infected with his particular strain, but that he alone didn’t have the capacity to maintain an active psychic network of that breadth and depth. He convinced the decomposing remnants of TITAN technology in Iapetus to meld with him in some capacity. Even in its partly-functional decay, the amount of power Iapetus can generate is staggering. The moon “boosted” this Black Signal enabling Karl to more fully control his psychic network. In exchange, the moon, through its “Jonathan” personality construct, was able to live the lives of thousands of people throughout transhuman space, experiencing their lives as completely as they did. This is how Jonathan knew about Vilya… it has literally been living her life from behind her eyes ever since Karl infected her.

Karl, apparently, was killed or something. Now Jonathan wanted Vilya to follow in Karl’s footsteps, accept the power of Iapetus so she could gain control of Karl’s psychic network. She seemed willing to accept the offer, and even took some steps toward doing so, but one of her companions violently objected to the idea and, apparently, talked her out of it. This left them with the tenuous position of trying to convince a petulant personality construct to let them depart the moon alive.

They then demonstrated that what they lack in traditional operational security they make up for in bullshit skills. They managed, somehow, to convince this intelligence with vast processing power at its disposal that it would be preferable to strip itself down into, effectively, a single transhuman ego than to experience thousands of lives at the same time. Something about “focusing on a single lived experience” as a more intense, pleasurable high. The drug language was pushed particularly strongly by one of them, but it was a tactic supported by the rest, along with Vilya’s refusal to accept the earlier offer, and insistence that even if Jonathan just “killed the rest of them” (i.e. us) she would still refuse, and would actually be upset.

After a lot of whining, Jonathan appeared to vanish. The system powered down. He may well have actually beamed an ego-approximation of himself elsewhere. I’m making this report to you because he stated a desire to go cliff-diving into the Messina Chasma, so he may well have headed your way. Beware. Jonathan is not human.

The team and I extracted via a Titanian science station. I had some concern when the team’s psychosurgeon insisted on checking me out to ensure I was clean of data infection, but I couldn’t very well refuse. It seems like she missed me buried in here because she certainly didn’t say anything when we were done other than clearing me of contamination. I left the reigns in the hands of my cover personality who is, fortunately, a somewhat dense and greedy pirate. They left me behind to return to their fleet.

The key piece of operational data here is this: the billions of transhuman egos stolen by the TITANs during the Fall were, apparently, collected on Iapetus before being sent on to their ultimate destination. The moon, however, still retains “local copies” of all of those people. The moon is also decaying. The window for ego-retrieval is shrinking. We have a decade at the inside, perhaps more, to develop a methodology for inferfacing with the matrioshka brain if we wish to retrieve some or all of the lost human race.

encryption ends

signal strength re-established, message commences

yeah, dude, you wouldn’t believe the shit I’ve seen. But, man, don’t expect me to go back to that fucking haunted ice-ball. I don’t want to spend another six years missing. But at least my investment portfolio did well while I was gone! Man, compound interest is great eh? Anyway, I’ll head on over there to hang out sometime, gotta square away a new morph back home. Catch you later.

Roland Abernathy

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