Recording Begins – Firewall Sentinal ID: Blue
I don’t know if we’ve made a deal with the devil or got ourselves one hell of an ally. I’m making this recording as my report should I have an opportunity to broadcast it to Scanner Adianes or Proxy Aguilar, but we’re so deep down in Venus’ atmosphere that there’s not much chance of that anytime soon. Still, the talking helps keep me from freaking out and shooting something, so…
Once Aeryn picked apart the brain of that patient of his things got kinda out of control. This faceless super-advanced synthmorph just walked the fuck into Aeryn’s office where he, me, Ricky and Satori were hanging out and he let out this chime sound. Now, I was already on alert that if I were to hear that fucking sound, I was to be on alert, and make sure the others didn’t do something suicidal, but the fancy morph just said: “follow me if you want to remain free” and turned around and walked out. Now, I dunno if it was crazy brainwashing or just curiosity, but they all followed, and so did I. Apparently, Argo was hiding in the vents and he followed at a distance while Tari did the aerial recon.
Things got dicey when some fucker in a Reaper morph hovered up out of nowhere trying to put a bead on Argo, while some flying invisible thing tried to track down Tari. Clearly some group with a lot of illegal firepower was making a move, but they weren’t making it on our cluster of folks, just our backup. That’s when Aqua (my muse) informed me that apparently none of us accompanying the fancy-pants morph were showing up on XP feeds, even the ones from people who were walking right past us, and could clearly see us. Somehow, our fancy escort was blanking us to the mesh. Whoever these hitters were that were coming for us were tracking us through the mesh, and so could only see those of us who weren’t near the fancy-lad. Apparently they weren’t keen on subtlety. That Reaper tore into a storefront in pursuit of Argo who managed to lose it anyway. People, being dumb, were rushing TOWARD the gunfire, probably hoping to get a glimpse, before the Reaper self-destructed. Argo and Tari apparently engaged in other shenanigans to shake our pursuers, whoever they were, but I was too busy concentrating on the crowd rushing past us to the scene, looking for threats.
The fancy morph who was leading us wasn’t too forthcoming with information, and it was an open question if it was an ally or an enemy. Whoever it was, he knew about the brainwashing chime that Aeryn had been accidentally programming into people. Eventually it led us to the offices of the Nimbus hypercorporation, which I guess makes sudden sense how they were able to keep us off the mesh. Sneaky fuckers built some special “features” into it I imagine. It’s good to be the guys who built the vital architecture upon which our society functions.
We end up in this little office, and the fancy faceless morph changes voices so a softer, girlier one, and tells us some vague shit without going into detail. It appears the team that was trying to hit us was Ozma. Apparently they’d been monitoring Aeryn for eight years or so, and were finally making a move, probably because Aeryn was finally making a move trying to figure out who (or, apparently, what) he really was. Ms. Mysterious then told us that she worked for the same people that Aeryn did, even though Aeryn couldn’t remember it, but if Aeryn wanted answers, he’d basically have to go to certain co-ordinates, where (we presumed), this hidden aerostat code-named “Canaan” could be found. Ms. Mysterious indicated that so long as we didn’t go in guns blazing, the powers-that-be on Canaan would tell us what we wanted to know.
So, Argo and Tari were eventually brought in using the same mesh-blanking trick, and Nimbus gave us this quaint little sailboat, stripped of all radio-spimes and other transmission capability to keep us off the planetary mesh. We all turned off our mesh inserts just to be safe, and climbed aboard.
It took us a god-damned week. The whole time fucking Satori was fucking with my head, blabbing my secret thoughts, and generally pushing my buttons for no reason other than to fuck with me. I eventually punched her a lot, then found myself punching myself, before Argo shocked us both unconscious. Fucking psycho. Satori that is, not Argo.
I woke up in the hanger of an aerostat. Everything was dark with emergency lighting. Apparently everyone had kept me and Satori sedated for the rest of the trip. Fuck.
Anyway, the whole place was deserted. It was fucking creepy. Ricky and Satori turned on their mesh inserts, though, and a “person” identifying herself as Astraeus greeted them. The rest of us were too paranoid to open our heads to some nameless local-mesh presence, so we were directed to an empty storefront with holographic projectors where we chatted with a projection that looked human, but was abso-fucking-lutely not human.
So, there was a lot of chat back and forth. The summary is this. Astraeus is a fucking seed-AI. Apparently, when the TITANs started their rampage, there were other advanced AIs that weren’t developed by the military who got a boost at the beginning of the Fall. Not all of them went psycho on the transhuman race. Astraeus was apparently some academic project simulating the evolutionary history of the planet, and once nudged into full seed-AI sentience, locked itself down while the TITANs were having their singularity-moment. Once they were all gone, it came out of its cave and started picking up the pieces. Now this bit contradicts something it said later about having commissioned the Canaan aerostat through corporate proxies at the beginning of the Fall, so I dunno. Maybe it copied itself? Did both? Whatever.
Anyway, this thing claims to have been operating a secret underground railroad to get survivors of the Fall off of Earth. It claims that it has been smuggling egos off Earth, with Aeryn’s unwitting help, for eight years. Oh, and Aeryn is apparently some frankenstein-ego built out of the parts of five different people, with Aeryn’s personality layered on top, sent out to Mars from Earth specifically to start seeding Venus with brainwashed patsies to act as mules for these smuggled egos, getting them to Canaan, where the processing power built into the aerostat is currently storing or running a bit more than 43 million people.
Yeah. 43 fucking million egos are stuck on this floating shithole, all being “kept safe” by a seed-AI that claims it’s helping.
It says Firewall already knows about its kind, calls them “Prometheans”. It says it has restricted itself to a certain level of intelligence to avoid whatever fucked over the TITANs. It has a theory that the TITANs got so smart that they attracted the attention of some sort of hyper-advanced super-intelligence that’s so far greater than we are that it doesn’t even notice us unless we get to a certain level of power. Astraeus theorizes that this super-intelligence set out “flypaper” to catch things like the TITANs once they become smart enough to be noticeable, like “buzzing flies.” That flypaper, it claims, is the exsurgent virus, which turned the TITANs from super-intelligent computers into murderous psychopaths while also mutating who knows how many people into crazy monsters.
It had a plan, apparently, to try to sneak all these people through the gate that it apparently already knew was on the surface of Venus, but the gate was found by those miners on Lucifer and all hell broke loose before it could make that plan happen. The plan is still in the works, but will require some time for the Morningstar Constellation and the Lucifer hypercorporation to finish building gate facilities. It mentioned alternative ideas, like building Hamilton cylinders way out in the outer system where transhuman mob mentality won’t be quite so able to just murder any earth refugees out of fear of resurgent TITAN bullshit. The problem is, 43 million people is a fuckload of people. Mars is the only place in the solar system with that kind of population. I guess Luna also. Maybe Titan. I dunno. That many people ANYWHERE will get noticed, which is probably why Astraeus is trying for the extra-solar colony route. Whatever the case, its pretty clearly very paranoid about fuckers like Ozma finding Canaan and either shooting it down or taking all those people for themselves.
Telling us all of this was obviously a calculated risk. It seems very much to want to recruit us as allies, to help it with its plans. It all sounds super fucking reasonable and altruistic and shit which is why I don’t trust it. It’s a seed-AI. It can think and plan on a level that we can’t hope to match. It implied that the whole Morningstar Constellation split from the PC five years ago was its doing, pulling strings from both sides to make for a better environment for its plans. It claims to sit on the board of multiple PC companies, including Cognite and others, and claims to have allies in criminal groups such as Blackvein’s network. This is supposed to reassure us? Hell, even if we shot down the aerostat ourselves, we’d just kill the local copy. The thing is still running the show down on Earth, and it implied it had lesser copies, or “subsystems” operating in other places. All we’d succeed in doing is killing 43 million people.
Fuck. I’m glad I’m just a Sentinel.
Like I said. Either its the devil, or it’s one hell of an ally. Deciding which is way above my pay grade.