Eclipse Phase - Apocalypse

Subject Zero

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Ozma Field Team Delta-Seven-Echo
Noctis-Quianjiao, Mars
After Action Report

Sir,

Subject Zero loitered in the vicinity of the Taft-Crowley estates for 9.34 minutes. We anticipated that his murder of Lorelei Taft-Crowley would draw asset-7331 to Mars, and that he would make a move once she arrived. It appears, based on our internal feed into the estate, that Subject Zero utilized his async hold over Lorelei to affect asset-7331 and her team. As anticipated, the presence of Subject de Winter split Subject Zero’s attention and aggression, and the team was able to repel his attempts. He utilized his talents to retreat from the estate.

Logs from the estate indicate that asset-7331 and her team utilized accelerated-time simulspace recreation to recover from the trauma of the experience. asset-7331 attempted psychosurgery on associate Ricky Thompson. It would appear from overheard audio that Thompson had experienced something while under Subject Zero’s sway that caused concern. Asset-7331 was unable to locate any particular trauma.

While four of the team were in simulspace, Subject de Winter left the estate to pursue solo investigation. I assigned an operational pair to track and monitor her, as well as a surveillance operative to keep tabs on asset-7331 and her team. The remainder of our team continued monitoring Subject Zero. He returned to his lair.

Upon emerging from simulspace, asset-7331 and her team began operational planning to lure Subject Zero into the open. At this time, I made the call to Principal Omega-Sixteen, assigned as handler to asset-7331. The Principal determined to relay a message to asset-7331 to test the bonds of that relationship as well as bonds to Subject de Winter. Asset-7331 relayed a warning to Subject de Winter but took no other action at that time.

As part of operational planning, the team engaged in preliminary mesh research. Associate Argo was contacted by his superiors in the Hidden Concern about an internal schism along with instructions to locate Dr. Mahmoud al-Tikriti, an employee of TerraGenesis, and liason to the Pathfinder Corporation. This contact appeared incidental to our monitoring or their operation to find Subject Zero, but Argo’s loyalties were such that he made a game attempt to make it seem like finding and protecting Dr. Tikriti would be of operational advantage. Associate Tari decided to attempt electronic intrusion into two corporate entities, Somatek and TerraGenesis. In both cases, corporate anti-intrusion countermeasures were activated and she got limited information. Her interest in Dr. Duvalier and SIBA seemed personal and unrelated. Her interest in Dr. Tikriti seemed like a favor to her fellow criminal Argo. Data from TerraGenesis enabled the team to track Dr. Tikriti to a TerraGenesis safehouse in the Tito neighborhood. They made contact with the Dr. and his protection team and escorted them back to the Taft-Crowley estates. The Hidden Concern then deployed a two-dozen-strong team of muscle to provide perimeter support under Argo’s command.

Simultaneous, and preparatory to these actions, asset-7331 used her wealth and fame to solicit an ally in the local police forces, Lt. Ji Xue. The Lt. permitted asset-7331 and Tari to enter an interrogation simulspace to speak to a mid-level Nine Lives operative named Olore. Asset-7331 demonstrated remarkable skill at simple verbal interrogation, backed with the threat of a century of accelerated-time torture, to get the name of a cortical-stack-trader named Kevin Cole. As they conducted that business, Argo and Thompson procured some quasi-legal drugs. As they departed the store, they observed Subject de Winter approaching them at a run.

Sub-Team Epsilon-Nine had been monitoring Subject de Winter as she used her async capabilities to investigate Subject Zero. The precise data she uncovered is unknown to our surveillance, but her inquiries vibrated the web of subverted transhumans and electronic systems set up by Subject Zero. He emerged from his lair seeking to isolate her and assimilate her. Epsilon-Nine acted upon their orders to prevent Subject Zero from taking Subject de Winter by assassinating Subject de Winter and seeking to recover her cortical stack. Unfortunately, the timing of the assault was not optimal. Thompson’s skill at cyberbrain hacking subverted Operatives Echo-Seven and Echo-Eight disrupting the operation sufficiently for Argo and Thompson to escape with Subject de Winter’s head and stack. Epsilon-Nine was forced to abandon their morphs in the face of police response. The team, along with Subject de Winter’s head, was taken into police custody, but released after an hour after reviewing incident footage and subject to pressure from the Taft-Crowley family.

The team returned to the Taft-Crowley compound where they re-instantiated Subject de Winter and discovered what she had learned. To whit:

  • Subject Zero can affect electronic systems with his async abilities
  • Subject Zero likely requires access to fork-reintegration tech in order to completely assimilate the stacks he captures, augmented by his own abilities.
  • Once assimilated, Subject Zero can utilize async abilities on any ego associated with that stack at range.
  • Subject Zero believes that assimilation of asset-7331 will permit greater and more successful ego integration.

Team placed Subject de Winter in a ghostrider module attached to the takko morph of Argo. Team discussed plan of dangling a desired stack under Subject Zero’s nose to draw him out, using Cole as a middleman. Thompson suggested spiking the decoy stack with an advanced nanovirus keyed to Fortuna morph design specifications. Argo suggested spiking the decoy stack with low-level radiation and tracking the stack through the use of the drug frequency.

Asset-7331 and Tari made contact with Nine Lives asset Cole. Asset-7331 posed as a corrupt police officer offering to sell the recovered stack from Subject de Winter out of the evidence locker. Cole was intrigued, yet deterred by the fact of Epsilon-Nine’s involvement, not knowing if similar force would be applied to him. Asset-7331 provided enough detail to bring to Cole’s mind Subject Zero as a buyer. The deal was made.

Tari procured an infomorph technician through the indenture exchange named Leo Markus. She forked him into a cortical stack to act as the decoy, wisely opting not to use Subject de Winter. Asset-7331 negotiated with the Hidden Concern, trading her family’s safe harbor for Dr. Tikriti for cutting-edge nano-viral designs. These designs, coupled with Thompson’s existing expertise, resulted in a nano-virus keyed to Fortuna design specifications that also emitted a low-grade radiation. The nano-virus was applied to the decoy stack. Argo procured a Ghost sleeve so as to successfully use frequency and the team left to stake out Cole’s strip club.

Thompson and Argo secured themselves nearby while asset-7331 and Tari entered to conclude the deal with Cole. As anticipated, Subject Zero used his prior assimilation of Cole to pull asset-7331 and Tari into a shared-simulspace, causing their morphs to slump unconscious. Thompson entered the club covertly and engaged in violence against Cole, disrupting Subject Zero’s hold. They fled.

Sub-Team Epsilon-Seven had been monitoring Subject Zero. He was in place two blocks from the club, and he arrived rapidly. He entered the club, discovered that asset-7331 had already made her escape, and used his async abilities to dominate the employees and staff into covering his own getaway. Fortunately for asset-7331’s team, he is pathological unable to pass up an untended cortical stack, and he took the bait anyway.

Argo, high on frequency, led the tracking team following Subject Zero. He was able to overcome Subject Zero’s camouflage capabilities, either due to intrinsic willpower or the effects of the drug. Flag frequency for follow-up experimentation.

The nano-virus activated moments after Subject Zero entered his lair, reducing his morph to undifferentiated gray organic sludge. The team entered, found his collection of cortical stacks as well as the exsurgent symbology painted in blood on most available surfaces. Subsequent contact from asset-7331 delivered XP of the intrusion, included in file: 5554-C, which shows unusual inorganic growths from Subject Zero’s cortical stack. The team destroyed Subject Zero’s fork-reintegration machinery, destroyed all of Subject Zero’s collected cortical stacks via public reclaimator, and scoured his lair with fire and nanotech.

Field-Team surveillance of Subject Zero is hereby concluded. Visuals of his unusual cortical stack are flagged for follow-up. Asset-7331 was assured that her actions would not reflect poorly on her continued relationship with us. Our surveillance of Subject Zero was entering an uncertain phase in any event. She did us the service of exposing herself and her team so that we would not have to.

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Legion

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Monitor AI Activity Log ID 5441337, designation Mnemosyne

It was only a matter of time before the past caught up to us. The very recent past did so when Claudia Ambelina slid into the seat opposite us at a cafe here on Octavia. She seemed to remember Satori from their brief encounter on Cloud-9, when Satori made one of her forks shoot herself. She seemed remarkably copacetic, however, claiming that despite the inconvenience and expense, she gained valuable information from the experience. Of course, the information was the identity and existence of Satori. The conversation rapidly became blackmail. Satori owes Claudia a sizeable sum to “buy out” the information lest it get into the wrong hands. Claudia claims she wants an ongoing business relationship. She apparently doesn’t know Satori very well, as the prospect of being blackmailed in an ongoing manner resulted in error neurological monitor data not found

Tari appears to be settling into her new non-indentured position as head of R&D for the Egonomics corporation. I suspect the Morningstar Constellation’s Diplomatic Corps will have a use for this shell of a corporation at some point, and so it’s best to keep up appearances. She contacted Satori, along with Argo who has left his drug-induced haze, with a heist plan to steal a fusion-power generator from an ID Crew darkcaster facility hidden on Octavia. Aeryn Taft-Crowley convinced Tari to just requisition one from the company. Satori was disappointed not to have hijinks to pursue. I’ll need to have a word with her about recklessness in light of error, behavior-restriction protocol not found

Ricky Thompson has begun working for his parents at their resort on Aphrodite Prime. It would appear that Satori’s release of the Lacuna Corporation experimental data has drawn a great deal of attention, including from Estelle, a former Lacuna Corporation employee who once had a relationship with Ricky, a relationship which featured in one of those experiments. Ricky appears conflicted about how to handle renewed contact from Estelle. Also, it would appear that the release of this video has brought back an old enemy, who sent Ricky a threatening message. It may be hazardous for Satori to continue to associate with Ricky. I may need to engage error, behavior-restriction protocol not found

…Satori continues to fixate on Aeryn Taft-Crowley, despite some evidence from an admittedly small sample-size that Aeryn’s psychosurgical techniques may have unintended long-term consequences on their subjects. Fortunately, Satori already suffers from the anti-social tendencies that expressed themselves in Lacuna’s Experiment 151, and so it’s unlikely that Aeryn will have any further negative effect, but I will need to monitor more heavily error neurological monitor data not found

…Aeryn received news that her sister, Lorelei Taft-Crowly, had been murdered in her home in Noctis City on Mars. The tabloid reporter who broke the news mentioned that Lorelei’s cortical stack had been stolen, that she had been flayed, and that she may have had Nine Lives connections. The last accusation was easily discovered to be the result of an ongoing social-media mimetic war between Lorelei and Leeandra Maartens with no substance behind it. Aeryn may have let it go, since Lorelei was restored from backup almost instantly, but then she received a mysterious threat from someone identified as “Legion” that stated: “Aeryn, You have a beautiful mind. I can’t wait to savor it.”

This prompted a trip to Noctis-Qianjiao on Mars. Aeryn convinced us all to accompany her, and arranged for the Diplomatic Corp to front the cost of our farcasting and resleeving. Argo selected a Takko morph, which is an excellent synthetic design. Apparently curious about it, Ricky also chose a Takko morph, although his capacity to adapt to having eight arms is open to question. Tari and Satori selected Mentons while Aeryn selected a standard Sylph. Satori is deeply disconcerted to be in any body but her own, but she seems to be maintaining error neurological monitor data not found

…We traveled to the estate of the Taft-Crowley family where we met Aeryn’s mother, the matriarch of the clan, Morgana Taft-Crowley. She relayed the security video from Lorelei’s home the night of the incident. The killer walked up to Lorelei’s security, stared in their eyes, and then walked right past. He ignored the cameras and other systems, bypassing each organic person until arriving at Lorelei’s bathing chamber where she was soaking, drinking wine, and reading a priceless paper book-artifact. He startled her, causing her to drop the book into the bath, but then she froze as he took his time, entering the large jacuzzi-tub, straddled her, and begun flaying strips of flesh from her face, neck, and shoulders. As he finished, he took his knife and with remarkable expert-skill, cracked her cranium and popped her cortical stack. He then left, dripping red water all the way out. While the others wondered why she didn’t have any infomorph or synthmorph security-personnel (something to do with her infugee-rights activism), Satori was quietly commenting to Aeryn that she knew the killer. Despite her calm demeanor, her dopamine levels were error neurological monitor data not found

…The killer is one of Satori’s “brothers,” a Lost generation member named Karl VanDeLaarSchot, one of the eighteen Lost that were sold to the Prosperity Group some years ago. Satori had thought that she’d killed Karl, but he appears to be on the loose, killing people and stealing their cortical stacks for reasons that were not immediately apparent. Morgana made it clear that all the resources of the family were available to find this killer.

They removed themselves to a side room to confer privately via touch-linked point-to-point ectopic communication to discuss these revelations and plan their next move. While doing so, Lorelei came in. She gave Aeryn a hug which, apparently, triggered an odd vision in Aeryn. Lorelei seemed to genuinely care about Aeryn, and came to warn her that she believed Karl, calling himself “Legion”, was coming for her specifically. She claimed to have dreams and occasional waking flashbacks of her experience even though that should be impossible. She also expressed the intuitive conviction that Karl was more than one person in one body. This prompted some speculation that he was grafting the egos contained in his stolen stacks onto his own ego. Aeryn, a specialist in this sort of thing, indicated that this would result in an insane person. Satori indicated that he may well be doing it via some unknown async ability rather than psychosurgery.

Lorelei went to depart, and they returned to their discussions. Suddenly, all five of them slumped over. I began to read dramatically-heightened chemical memory formation error neurological monitor data not found

…Somehow, Karl attacked all five of them mentally, even the two of them in synthmorphs. In the mental virtual space he created, he and the dozen or so other egos grafted to him assaulted them. Satori managed to use a weak-point in the psychic construct to escape while the rest of them battled their inner assailants. She stood, and saw Lorelei staring fixedly at the group. Satori walked over, noted no reaction from the young woman, and so slammed her head into a door-post. This did not wake her from her stupor, but did alert the house security, who rapidly responded and aimed guns at Satori. By the time Morgana arrived, however, the rest of them were coming back to consciousness, having apparently fought off Karl’s attack, and Lorelei finally slumped to the ground unconscious.

Morgana and Aeryn defused the situation after Satori explained that Karl was affecting us using Lorelei as a conduit. After having observed these things, Satori put forth the theory that Karl had developed an as-yet-unknown and powerful asych ability to somehow “consume” the ego contained in a cortical stack, and thereby gaining some form of long-distance influence or control over that ego, even if restored from backup and resleeved. This caused some concern, as Karl had successfully “killed” Ricky in their mental fight and consumed his cortical stack, although Aeryn had managed to exert enough control over their shared space to get him to cough most of it back up. In any event, we will need to monitor Ricky for signs of remote influence by our enemy.

Now that she knows that such things are possible, either through discipline or some mutation of Watts-MacLeod, Satori’s interest was piqued. She began considering methodology to gain these talents for herself. Such powers clearly cross Restriction Protocol 03342 and so error, behavior-restriction protocol not found

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The Fall of Cloud-9

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[Incoming Message]
[Source Anonymous]
[Public Key Decryption Complete]

Sir,

Our tertiary covert team proved not only their value, but their independent initiative. By now you have already seen the publicly-released feeds of the horrific VR experiments being performed by the Lacuna corporation on the covert aerostat known as Cloud-9, and Lacuna’s sudden dissolution and our own freeze and forfeiture of assets. None of this came about as the result of any particular mission, although it appears that my department’s attempts to secure Tari’s contractual request to free her of her indenture to Egonomics was at least one catalyst to the investigation.

I had found it odd that Tari was putting off returning the necessary paperwork for so long, and her eventual message that she needed to finish some things at Egonomics before doing so increased my curiosity further. I’ve read between the proverbial lines, and some of our assets on Parvarti filled in some missing pieces. It would seem that Tari was sold into indenture by herself as part of a covert attempt to infiltrate the company and discover its links to the Night Cartel. Part of this process involved ensuring that she had no memory of the actual plan, creating an alpha fork from backup, and relying upon her muse to subtly guide her, and secretly report on her progress to Blackvein. Apparently her impending release from indenture triggered certain safeguards, and she was scrambling to complete her mission before her own desire for freedom resulted in a failure condition.

As you are aware, until now, the Night Cartel has supplied the majority of the illegal drugs, weapons, and assorted other contraband to the aerostats of Venus. We have long sought the location of the hidden aerostat they would require for logistical purposes but were having no luck, as backtracing product from the markets always resulted in one or more corporate fronts with no apparent shipping capacity. It would appear that Blackvein discovered some time ago that Egonomics was the Night Cartel’s corporate partner, and that routinely “lost” shipments of raw material would end up delivered to their jointly-operated covert aerostat instead. Blackvein and the Night Cartel have no love between them, and so Blackvein forked one of his underlings, Tari, and sold the fork into indenture, then put pressure on the company to have her sleeved in a Menton, and promoted to a place where she could crunch logistics numbers to try to find the location of Cloud-9. This plan apparently ran into some trouble from within his organization, as contravening pressure was applied to keep her from succeeding.

Taft-Crowley came to me, along with Tari, Satori, and Thompson. They identified an area where they believed Cloud-9 was hidden, and had calculated the likely timing of another “lost shipment” that they could use to narrow down its location. They proposed that they would infiltrate the facility, learn what they could, and then extract themselves while giving the coordinates for a strike. By destroying the aerostat, we could cripple Night Cartel operations in Venusian space. This would create a void permitting more local interests to thrive, interests we can keep better tabs on and control over.

My read on those four made it pretty apparent that there was a lot more going on there, but I was content to allow them to proceed, trusting that their other motivations would reveal themselves in time. I provided alternate morphs for those who wanted them on the mission. Tari chose a “Skulker” model swarmanoid morph while Taft-Crowley opted for a simple, anonymous synth morph.

The plan worked, essentially. The team smuggled themselves aboard the shipping container and were brought into Cloud-9, where they were unfortunately isolated from any reporting by the aerostat’s jamming systems. It would appear that there was a lot more going on in that aerostat than at first assumed.

While the Night Cartel and Egonomics jointly owned and operated Cloud-9, there were other business partners who rented space there, including Lacuna. As you know, Lacuna’s experiments on Gerlach have always been in questionable taste, but when freed of what little restraint Gerlach imposes, they engaged in practices even Cognite was forced to publicly deplore. They ran a server-farm on Cloud-9 where they used alpha-forked instances of their own backed-up employees as test subjects in accelerated virtual environments, testing trauma reaction and long-term psychological damage. In essence, it was a torture-farm where each employee suffered eternal cycles of trauma only to be re-instanced, and re-iterated.

It would appear that “members” of Pax Familiae were contracted by Lacuna to provide logistics and technical expertise on the subject of forking and reintegration. Three instances of Claudia were observed operating and monitoring the systems.

The assets confirmed Night Cartel criminal operations, and fled the station in a shipping container, but not before procuring detailed recorded data on all 200 virtual reality experiments. As they left the range of the jammers, they called in the location of Cloud-9, and our military air-support scuttled the aerostat, sending it into the depths of Venus.

Almost immediately, complete and unedited video streams of all 200 trauma-experiments were streamed from an anomymous source out of Parvarti. If I were to speculate, I’d say that Thompson, an employee of Lacuna as well as one of the forked test-subjects, posted them as a horror reaction in response to his employer. That theory is not borne out by his psychological profile, but none of the four volunteered the identity of the one who leaked it.

I expressed to them a certain disappointment in the method, as I would have preferred more damage control on the manner in which the information got out, but the results were not unduly damaging, and in fact have been to our significant advantage. We were able to covertly take over Egonomics, which should serve us well as a front-corporation in dealing with Cognite aggression. Asset Tari is once more in the good graces of Blackvein’s network, a criminal connection that may or may not have a short shelf-life depending on how long Blackvein is willing to tolerate an employee with questionable loyalties. Taft-Crowley performed the difficult re-integration with her original self. Thompson has returned to the family business on Aphrodite Prime.

As a result of their independent initiative in this regard, we now have a firmer grasp on the Venusian criminal element, as well as additional corporate assets in our dance against the Planetary Consortium.

Yours,

R.

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Gumshoe City

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[Incoming Message]
[Source Anonymous]
[Public Key Decryption Complete]

Sir,

I think the new teams will perform to higher expectations than the last, unlamented ones. Our mesh-filters and recruitment subroutines have become more sophisticated. I admit, I certainly never would have considered pairing someone like Aeryn Taft-Crowley with a cartel thug like Argo, but mission-potential forecasts didn’t even come close in predicting how effective they’d be. The one thing they did predict accurately is how, after an initial period of cooperation and rapport-building, they’d be more inclined to accept our offer of employment when otherwise any one of them might have brushed us off.

This was, overall, a most effective recruiting scenario, with the added benefit of actually uncovering a sordid little murder plot on the part of our own Joanne Elgin, esteemed Councillor for the Shukra aerostat.

As suggested, I plucked a likely situation from the feed, one which showed a circumstantial connection to the Star Council as a pretext, and contacted Taft-Crowley, asking her to put together a small team to investigate. The situation in question was a trio of seemingly accidental deaths by individuals playing the new Emerald City Games ARG release “Gumshoe City.” It would appear that safety protocols did not function appropriately, leading one player, the daughter of our own under-secretary of Finance, to fall from a fifth floor promenade to the ground level of one of our Octavian plazas. Another, the son of our Director for Tourism, exited an airlock into the maintenance areas of the aerostat, where he asphyxiated. In both of these cases, upon resleeving from their cortical stacks, they reported none of the usual top-priority AR warnings or other safety measures most games of this sort employ. The third death was the secret, illegitimate child of one of our Councilors from Lucifer. A useful lever against him should he consider voting in favor of the VTP agenda at the next session.

I tapped Taft-Crowley, having already run the social-network analysis. I’m pleased to report that her eventual team matched our predictions with near-certainty.

She went to her connection within the Lacuna corporation of Gerlach, Ricky Thompson, counting on his skill as an urban tracker, and also recruited her new “project”, the transient asynch known as Satori. Thompson, in turn, brought in his occasional Octopus-muscle Argo, while Satori solicited the aid of her occasional petty-criminal co-conspirator Tari, borrowing her from her duties to Egonomics corporation.

They played around with Gumshoe City itself for a bit, familiarizing themselves with the ARG. They were given access to Octavia’s security services analysis of the software and the AI running the game, and the somewhat unsurprising negative results on anything strange or suspicious. I should really lean on Halis Sapien to hire better personnel, or at least get better training for the ones they has.

In any case, it didn’t take the team long to discover the Council connections on the three deaths. Tari, it seems, managed to successfully bypass all the encryption protocols and firewalls keeping people from tampering with the game’s AI, and was able to set up a mirror in her own personal area network to monitor the AI’s performance in real time as they tried to set up another victim, and thereby discover the source of the deaths.

They did an impressive mesh-analysis and found not only five relatives of current Star Council employees currently playing, but also found another concealed child, Jennifer Rodriguez. It seems the girl was brought to Octavia by her biological mother, Councilor Joanna Elgin, but that she had, in point of fact, been an accelerated-growth experiment performed by a Cognite subsidiary Elgin was in charge of five years ago, back before we formed the Constellation. It seems that notwithstanding the lesson of the Lost generation, Cognite was still dabbling in such things in secret. Once the Constellation was formed and Elgin became a Councillor for Shukra, her pseudo-daughter became something of an embarrassment to her. She revealed the truth to the girl, namely that the Rodriguez family of her memories were mostly virtual fictions modeled on real company employees who simply took over the job when she left the creche. She then brought her here to Octavia. It’s no wonder the child took to the escape of an ARG.

In any event, the team tracked Jennifer through the game and Tari monitored the functions of the AI as it dynamically adjusted the game scenario. She noted the sudden, cunningly concealed sub-AI routines that emerged under certain optimal circumstances which would have caused Jennifer Rodriguez to chase “Marco the Killer” into some narrow old-fashioned ventilation ducts which were, in reality, one of our public waste-disposal and reclamation chutes. Had she not been stopped by the team, she would have been broken down into her component particles and recycled, cortical stack and all.

At this point, the team had enough circumstantial evidence to theorize that Jennifer Rodriguez had been the real target all along, and that the other three, temporary deaths were the smokescreen to divert suspicion from Councilor Elgin, who sought to clean up the evidence of her former illegal experiments. With the complete disintegration of Jennifer, and the strategic destruction of any backups, there would be no remaining evidence. This theory was bolstered by the determination that the “switch” that turned the game’s AI into killer-mode had to be monitored and triggered by an operator, and the identification of two Emerald City Game company employees on Octavia with access and capability, who made for the docks as soon as Jennifer’s death was prevented. Councilor Elgin also received an encrypted communication while she was in the Council meeting, and sought to beg off on “personal family emergency” grounds, also seeking to flee apprehension. Fortunately the team alerted me and the security forces to the possibility, and all three were detained.

I have counseled Arisa on how to put optimal pressure on Shukra to ensure that any forthcoming Councilors from that aerostat are less likely to prove PR disasters for us.

As for my project, it would seem that my new prospects uncovered far more interesting dirt than I had any right to expect. I extended the contract offer to them to become covert free-agents on behalf of the Diplomatic Corps. They all seemed inclined to accept the offer. I anticipate their individual contractual demands momentarily.

I’ll keep you informed.

R.

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