Monitor AI Activity Log ID 9481467, designation Mnemosyne
As we returned to the gala in the Lucifer Gate Complex reception lounge, Aeryn Taft-Crowley argued, via the private VPN I and the other muses maintained, that we should reject the proposal “Stuart Rigby” (i.e. Hamsa al Quraini) had just given us. Her perspective was that this is a fellow who demonstrated too much knowledge of us, admitted to being connected to Ozma, and who could readily have a gang of thugs on the other side of the gate waiting to accomplish what they failed to accomplish a few months ago. This argument was opposed by Tari who argued the potential benefits to be worth the risk, although she did brainstorm ways we might mitigate the risk. The matter was left unresolved for the hour or so before Aeryn was needed to judge the morph competition while Aeryn and the rest of Saòirse’s companions tried to dig up any and all information they could on al Quraini to try to corroborate his story. Saòirse’s own emotional state at the prospect of going through a gate was error neurological monitor data not found
Aeryn, through her corporation (Cortical Redemption Systematics) discovered that the name “Hamsa al Quraini” is not particularly rare, but after running algorithms to sift the mesh references, came up with two extremely elusive records in old Star Crypt archives. The first alluded to someone of that name as a security consultant for the Ahab corporation on Mars (although that name was shortly expunged from all records). The second was as a “consultant” to the Neuron corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cognite spun off to do specialized forking research.
Ricky Thompson engaged the help of his date Simone Takahara, an operative for Oversight, to look into the first lead. She conveyed what she learned under the guise of engaging in preliminary mating behavior, which I can only imagine was somewhat conflicting considering their history together. She revealed that according to PC records, the Ahab corporation was chartered by the Tharsis League for mimetic engineering and meme-management for the ongoing terraforming effort. They arranged a flashy comet-re-entry that, while having no scientific value, had great PR value for ongoing funding and support of terraforming efforts. The Ahab corporation neglected, however, to invest sufficient funds in evacuation and relocation for the indigents living in the rural outback of Mars, and some hundreds died. This resulted in a short but brutal campaign of Barsoomian terrorism that not only decimated Ahab holdings, but turned public opinion against them. They were broken up and their assets re-distributed. Takahara indicated that the pattern didn’t fit the general lack of Barsoomian organization, but the matter was never fully investigated.
Saòirse engaged her own date, Claudia Ambelina, on the subject of Neuron and the name Hamsa al Quraini in general. Claudia recognized his name, and after a quick consultation with her own organization confirmed that a record of his name on an accounting balance-sheet as a “consultant” existed in archives that were subsequently scrubbed. He was on the books shortly before a leak of data concerning specific forking experiments got leaked to the press. Subsequent bad PR caused Cognite to pull the plug on the company. I tried to remonstrate with Saòirse about placing too much trust in error, behavior-restriction protocol not found
Shortly before Aeryn was needed to judge, al Quraini approached her to ask if she’d made a decision. She revealed to him the results of her research, and he acknowledged participation in the Ahab matter (through euphemism and double-talk), claiming that their short-sighted greed risked unifying the Barsoomian movement. It seemed clear that al Quraini was the one who arranged the bombings and subsequent corporate embarassment. Aeryn expressed her hesitation in accepting his proposal but eventually capitulated with certain assurances. First, the contents of all their conversations were to be delivered to allies in a “dead drop” to be released if they don’t return back through the gate within 24 hours. Second, they were to maintain control of the gate-control device. Third, they would be provided with the code to open the gate from the other side back to Mars in case they needed to flee. Al Quraini readily agreed to all these conditions.
The time came for the morph competition. The presentations were done with all the flair of a corporate presentation. The Pagan Seed corporation from the Titanian Commonwealth presented a bipedal morph utilizing their proven technologies with the Hulder morph design. Although their entry into the contest could not survive normal transhuman environments, it would survive the surface of Venus indefinitely, with the occasional transfer of certain nutrients and rare elements to keep its strange biology functioning. It was clearly being presented as a prospective surface-colonization initiative.
The Golden Apple corporation from Aphrodite Prime presented a tripedal design. Their morph was designed to be capable of adjusting its biology to transition between normal transhuman habitable spaces and the surface of Venus after a slow adjustment process that takes about six hours. Once on the surface, it could survive reasonably comfortably for another six hours or so before having to return.
Skinaesthesia, from Mars, presented a design not even remotely humanoid. It seemed to use horseshoe crab genetics as a base. Much like Pagan Seed’s entry, it was designed for longer-term surface existence. It needed infusions of specialized nutrients once a day, however, but was a much hardier design.
Finally, Skinthetic from Extropia presented what was, by specification, the most impressive entry. This morph took the form of a reddish-black millipede supposedly capable of instantaneous transition between transhuman spaces and the surface. Indeed, the morph itself moved through the crowd before heading to a facilities airlock and out onto the surface, where (like the others) it’s activities were recorded and sent to the demonstration via Q-morphs in the field. At first, and against all expectation, it appeared to live up to the seemingly impossible claims of its creator before some of its legs, and then carapace, started to spontaneously fail, seemingly dissolving in the Venusian conditions. The screams of the scientist sleeved in the morph echoed in the ears of the shocked gala attendees while Skinthetic personnel jumped to drag their expensive prototype back indoors.
There was something in the pattern of the morph’s disintegration, however, that caught my pattern-recognition algorithm. Ricky saw it too. Some months ago, Ricky had released onto the surface of Venus in the vicinity of the Gate a particularly virulent nanoplague specifically designed to target and destroy the exsurgent creatures guarding the gate. We had thought those nanites long destroyed by surface conditions, and indeed there were no reported incidents in constructing the gate complex. It would seem, however, that some of these dormant nanites responded violently to Skinthetic’s morph design.
Amidst the company’s embarrassment, Aeryn sweet-talked Skinthetic’s representative, expressing interest in investing and scoring an invitation to Extropia to see the facility. This was in preparation for a potential future covert action under the theory that Skinthetic is experimenting with some strain of the exsurgent virus in their biomorph designs.
Pagan Seed won.
While they accepted their accolades, we slipped away with al Quraini deeper into the gate complex.
We decided that Argo’s Argonauts, under the command of Blue, would stay on this side of the gate, keeping it clear for our return. Argo entered the gate codes from the blue box. The first two did not appear to function, but the third activated the gate. Saòirse violated every safety protocol and walked right in. I tried activating behavior-restriction protocol 9-Zeta but error, behavior-restriction protocol not found
Saòirse’s neurological patterns were all over the charts both before and after gate transition. I error neurological monitor data not found
data not found
We all transitioned through the gate without incident. Al Quraini used his family name to bring gate security into line. We left Argo with security, watching this end of the gate while the rest of us floated through the minimal gravity of the glorified asteroid-moon that it’s local mesh called “Overwatch” on the way to a shuttle to take us down to “Arcadia,” an exoplanet that neither I nor any of the others’ muses had ever heard of. The plan, as explained by al Quraini, was to infiltate one of the unfinished aerostat palaces floating in the atmosphere, avoid construction crews and security, and plunder the vault of one or more of his data-stored “ancestors” so he could use it as a bargaining chip with his family.
We did what we could to record all available mesh information, but aside from a handful of family members on another aerostat, and the construction crews, there wasn’t a lot on the local mesh to see.
The finished portions of the aerostat displayed a sort of ostentatious wealth I didn’t think existed. We moved through dark and quiet halls until we entered a darkened lounge space, and realized this was a trap after all.
Reclining on a lounger was a woman in ostentatiously-understated clothing designed to be reminiscent of traditional Arabic garb but with only a token veil, more an accent than a functional garment. Standing at attention nearby was a synthmorph of incredible design. I believe it was a Galatea-variant. The woman greeted us, particularly Aeryn, promised that we were in no danger, and offered us seats. Saòirse and I immediately went on high-alert whereupon error neurological monitor data not found
data not found
By the time I re-established functionality, it was clear that something was interfering with Saòirse’s async abilities… some sort of feedback, amplifying and distorting her perceptions. Secondary monitor data suggested that she was under great stress just keeping her abilities in check. The woman on the divan identified herself as Noor al Quraini. Hamsa had taken up a position standing against the wall opposite the Galatea morph while Noor addressed us. She was calm and composed. She wished us to know that she, on behalf of her family, and an organization she never named but which we all knew was Project Ozma. She appeared to desire a “reset” in our relationship with Ozma, and as a mark of sincerity, she revealed that Hamsa al Quraini himself was the one responsible for pushing Ozma’s actions against us in recent months. She told us that his life and fate were ours to decide, in compensation for the harm he had caused us.
Judging by his reaction, this was not what he anticipated would happen. He did not move, however.
In subsequent discussion, it seemed clear that she was a woman used to unimaginable power and influence. She expressed a viewpoint that certain actions taken by Ozma on Mars (trying to take Saòirse’s cortical stack) or on Venus (trying to kidnap us from CRS) were tactically justified from a certain point of view, but that the subsequent attacks on our reputations, families, resources, and holdings were simple petulance with no potential gain. This was the sin for which she was apologizing and offering us her relative’s life.
During this conversation, Saòirse’s entire neurology was error neurological monitor data not found
Ricky, Tari, and Aeryn were all quite careful in their conversational engagements, trying to feel out the scope of what was happening. Noor al Quraini seemed to genuinely wish to “change the operational parameters” of our relationship with Ozma thus far, seemed to offer full membership if we wanted it, but was willing to accept, at minimum, our acceptance of her apology and a neutral footing going forward.
VPN Link enabled
Saòirse to Aeryn: Want to kill her. Might die if I do. Harps like on Sunrise.
Saòirse to Aeryn: Waiting
Saòirse to Aeryn: Give word.
There was something almost ritualistic in her desire that we accept her apology. Tari in particular honed in on that and asked why it was so important to her. She responded with a little speech on the importance of culture and transhuman community, and how seemingly inconsequential niceties can have great overall significance. I’m not entirely sure if she believed that or if it was just an echo of a long-fading humanity, but she seemed genuine. Tari accepted the apology somewhat flippantly. Saòirse questioned Noor’s sincerity. Secondary condition monitors warned of potential erratic behavior and so I engaged error, behavior-restriction protocol not found
Ricky accepted the apology so long as Noor kept her end of the bargain and no retaliation from Noor, her family, or Ozma would be forthcoming. Noor agreed, so long as Ricky reciprocated.
Aeryn accepted the apology, but expressed a moral repugnance at harming Hamsa. She gave a bit of a speech about how her entire life has been in service to encouraging the better angels of transhumanity’s nature, and she would be a hypocrite if she exacted a literal pound of flesh from him, even despite his crimes.
VPN Link enabled
Ricky Thompson to Saòirse: Don’t get me killed again.
Saòirse to Ricky Thompson: I want her entire family to burn. All of it. Every stack and backup and infomorph and “asset.”
Saòirse to Ricky Thompson: Not here. Can’t make it happen here.
Saòirse accepted Noor’s apology on two conditions:
1) She arrange a face to face meeting with Dr. Sheppard, Dr. Bharani, and Dr. Pascal.
2) She strip Hamsa al Quraini of his every asset and drop him, broke and utterly without resources, on Venus to live as a normal person.
VPN Link enabled
Saòirse to Aeryn: Acceptable?
Aeryn to Saòirse: I believe in you. That said, he will be problematic after this.
She accepted the first condition readily. She seemed impressed at the second. She warned Saòirse that there were some things she could not take away, like his skills, his knowledge, his contacts, and that even penniless, he could rebuild rather quickly if left to his own devices. She also acknowledged that his personal assets could not be quickly demolished if he was still alive and active.
As she spoke, the Galatea morph blurred into action, fractal digits branching from its hands, and tore Hamsa into pieces, deftly extracting his cortical stack with nano-scale precision. Watching it in action caused a sudden spike in error neurological monitor data not found
The Galatea escorted us back to the shuttle, and thence to the gate, where Argo was playing cards with security. They snapped to attention as the Galatea entered the room. The technicians opened the gate and we returned to Venus. The transition once again caused dramatic surges in neurological error neurological monitor data not found