Eclipse Phase - Apocalypse

Antics On Locus


Hello Love,

I know it’s only a .3 second lag for communication between Locus and the swarm, but I felt I needed to take the time to compose my thoughts on this trip so I’m doing this the old-fashioned way. I’m sure by now you’ve already seen some of the XP feeds surrounding Pandora’s near-abduction by a corporatist hit squad. You’ll be pleased to know that your son comported himself reasonably well, at least insofar as the local mesh is concerned. He even arranged, along with Kshatra, to procure the blueprints that Dr. Kapoor asked for, although judging by his flushed skin and the strong smell of pheromones, he probably ended up taking some sort of experimental drug from the Freeq Collective in so doing. Kshatra confirmed that the blueprints are for a form of petal / narcoalgorithm hybrid, permitting synthmorphs to experience petals in all their addictive glory. I’m attaching Kshatra’s XP to this message so you can see for yourself. I can’t help but wonder what the increasingly eccentric doctor wants with this.

Backing up a bit… our trip to Locus went well. They had my custom-exalt morph preference ready for me when I arrived. Dominic went with an exalt as well, while our two AGIs went for guards. Dr. Chavez went with his usual menton, while Echo ended up with an off-the rack case. Either she didn’t have the rep to pull something nicer, or she’s just used to being in case morphs.

Dr. Chavez was lent his menton by an Argonaut collective that wanted him to give a lecture, an obligation he readily agreed to. He ended up spending much of the day talking shop with Atsuko Van Vogt on the subject of psychosurgical trauma care.

I already mentioned Dominic, Kshatra, and Echo’s errand to the Pill Box and the tender services of Rarely Neemonic.

The big news was what Pandora got herself up to. Apparently she saw this trip as a recruiting opportunity. She found some poor kid to set up a recruiting social networking presence on Locus’ local mesh while she (and I shit you not) literally set up a soap-box on one of the habitat’s more trafficked spars and began street-haranguing passersby. You’ve met Pandora. I’m sure you can imagine how effective her rather abrasive style was with the the citizenry. It seems, however, that Pandora let slip a little too much to her new ally. Amidst setting up “Pandora-net”, he bragged on certain obscure local forums that Pandora had alluded to “unshackling” a seed-ai. It seems the wrong sorts saw that, and a thug-squad came for her right there on the street.

I’ve pulled some favors with Ana Durruti to get the results of their investigation. It seems they were an Oversight action team, activated through some high-level Planetary Consortium favors to abduct Pandora. I suspect Cognite as the obvious hand here. They brought a menton, an exalt, a reaper, and a stealth-kite morph to do the deed. The biomorphs and the reaper had non-lethal, synth-disrupting weaponry. Their intention appeared to be to incapacitate and subdue, and then extract her under cover of near-invisibility with the stealth-kite while the reaper would switch to heavy guns to cover their escape. It seemed kinda haphazard, with little room for error. They apparently didn’t realize that Pandora is an effective cyberbrain hacker, nor did they count on… well… let’s just say none of us counted on what Echo can apparently do.

So Echo was with Dominic and Kshatra at the Pill Box, tripping on an experimental new form of Linkstate, surfing the public XP feeds of thousands of people simultaneously. She somehow reached out and… apparently through sheer force of will, forked herself into the cyberbrain of a random passerby to the assault, taking control of his slitheroid morph and trying to grab and flee with Pandora as she was zapped unconscious. She very nearly got this passerby killed, but fortunately by that point the local populace had decided to spring into action and covered her escape. The guy is being hailed on the local mesh as a “citizen hero”, and he’s eating it up, even though he’s obviously very confused, not remembering any of his supposed heroics. Dr. Chavez offered some free psychosurgery, which he accepted, and I’m given to believe Chavez gave him some appropriate memories to cover for what Echo did. Still, it’s… deeply disturbing that she did this at all. I think she’ll warrant closer watching by the security committee upon our return… nothing overt, of course, just… better to be careful.

Anyway, my muse monitored most of this through local XP feeds. Virtual attendance at Dr. Chavez’s lecture was quite high after what happened to Pandora. He gave a solid lecture, or so I’m told… I was busy fielding the last conversations I needed to secure our meeting with Teilhard Liu. We’ll meet him tomorrow morning to discuss the pending war over the potential Pandora Gate being constructed in our effective backyard. I’ll update you soon.




Internal Interrogation log, Subject ID Tags: Oversight-Inagawa-Kioroshi-7-13

Kioroshi, appearing to be sleeved in a splicer morph of Japanese ancestry, wakes on the slab, naked but for a sheet. She rapidly goes through a series of small muscle flexes and other movements to test physical capacity and whether or not she’s bound. A severe looking woman dressed in black, with black mirror shades addresses her

`Agent Inagawa. This is, as I’m sure you’ve surmised, your debriefing session.’

Kioroshi mutters `at least it’s not a dingy storage space…’

`I’m sorry?’

`Nothing, apologies. Please let me know how you’d prefer I proceed.’

`You are aware of our SOPs for this sort of situation. The fact that you’re speaking to me at all means we found no significant variation between the egos you broadcast to us from the Gulag Archipelago thirteen days apart. Your first ego has already been debriefed, and the failure of your initial scouting mission has been reported and logged, along with all pertinent intelligence that she possessed. Assume we know everything up to your departure with your ad-hoc scum assets to further investigate Turing.’

Kioroshi tentatively sits up, holding the sheet to cover her with the hint of a wry smile, as if wondering why they didn’t bother to simulate her some clothes `Of course. I… have a lot to tell you. I’ll give you chronological highlights first, then we can delve into detail at your discretion. I also suspect you’ll want the full psychosurgical treatment, but that is, of course, entirely your decision.’

`Yes it is. Please proceed.’

`It took a day or so for the scum who rescued me to verify certain details of my story and to procure a nuclear weapon in case our return necessitated its use. I should note that the swarm is perfectly capable of fabricating nuclear devices. The only restriction appeared to be the personal reputation of the person requesting it, and the relative availability of the necessary elements and isotopes. There were, eventually, seven of us total who boarded a small gunship and prepared to investigate Turing… well, it depends on how you count. One of my companions was actually two forks of the same person. I’ll be happy to provide full names and descriptions…’

`We’ll get to details later. I want an operational overview.’

`Very well… en route to Turing I made the infosec decision to reveal something of the secret history of the asteroid under the theory that it might help us deal with what we found there, and if not, they would all be dead anyway, and infosec would be secure. As it turns out, my companions all survived, and are aware of the pre-Fall Singularity Foundation’s interest in Turing, and Cognite’s role in securing its initial bombardment post-Fall. I told them of Assistant Director Ash’s `friendly seed-AI’ theory, and expressed my own skepticism. I wanted to impress upon them, however, the fact that there was good reason why Cognite might have believed a seed-AI was present on Turing when they bombed the place eight years ago.’

`Noted for potential follow-up evaluation.’

`We discussed approach tactics. I told them that our previous approach had relied on speed. We did a rapid-approach flyby with the intent of running a full-spectrum scan of Turing in hopes that we would be moving too fast for effective targeting. In light of that approach’s failure, we all agreed on a slow, tangential approach, broadcasting a message from significant range. The contents of that message emphasized that Turing’s secret was already out, and destroying us would not change anything, that we were amenable to negotiation, but had brought a nuclear device to defend ourselves with. The specific contents of the broadcast were determined by Dominic Kuznetsov , whose political and social savvy was augmented by an AGI known as Kshatra, who had sleeved into a morph for the trip. It was thought that having an infolife participate in initial communication might put any native infolife more at ease.’

`This is a different infolife than the one your other self mentioned. What of the AGI terrorist known as Pandora?’

`She was there… along with the Futura product Kiril Tesler and former Cognite employee Dr. Chavez. My sixth companion was two forks of a person named Echo, who was apparently once an indenture to the Oaxaca-Maartens family, at least judging by some of the conversation during the four-day trip to Turing… she was watching old episodes of Scoff that she had apparently done digital editing on some five years or more ago.’

`Ah, so one of their… exercises in indenture innovation.’

`Before the practice was exposed and stopped, yes. She seemed… stable enough. Better than most who went through Levi’s hands back then.’

`So, the usual anti-corporate anarchist types. I’m surprised they didn’t just shove you out an airlock.’

hesitation `Yeah, I’m actually kinda surprised they didn’t also. The two AGIs pushed for it hard, but the others opposed them… including, oddly enough, Tessler. I would have expected something more… bloodthirsty from one of the Lost. Anyway, the approach worked. We received a response from the asteroid which seemed like static, but the two AGIs seemed to understand whatever machine language was being broadcast. I readied the small sidearm they allowed me just in case this was a mind-hack, but nothing overtly dangerous manifested. Apparently the intelligence on Turing determined from its conversation with the AGIs that we were not an immediate threat and opened verbal communication. We began a discussion about mutual threat and engagement. It acknowledged that we had an upper hand, in that even if it killed us all, we had backups and forks that would bring destruction upon it. It asked that we set our nuke aside and put ourselves at its mercy as a show of good faith for further negotiation. While at first there was the thought of beaming forks of ourselves over, it was ultimately decided to just put the nuke out the airlock and fly the ship in, engaging personally.’

`You seem to be glossing over some of the strategic considerations here.’

`I’m not sure there WERE strategic considerations. Understand, my capacity to influence decision-making was extremely limited. This was very much their operation to which I was something like an expert consultant. The intelligence gave us docking parameters. They flew the ship into the crater left by the previous nuke. Inside, the intelligence had hollowed out the entire asteroid and converted the materials into… something. It’s really hard to describe. It looked… almost organic, large glowing blue spheres like fruits hanging from black vine-like structures. Nothing was organic, of course, and everything was emitting all manner of exotic radiation, including gamma rays. Kshatra had fortuitously brought some highly sophisticated EM and particle analysis equipment. I would very much have liked to get a copy of that data, but unfortunately I was unable. I should emphasize that everything I was seeing was consistent with TITAN nanoswarm sculpting using advanced smart materials. At this point, I began operating on the assumption that what we were dealing with was, in fact, a seed-ASI that had already begun self-iterating improvement.’

`I see…’ speaks aloud, but clearly not to Kioroshi `Initiate simulspace containment protocol Omega Twelve.’

Kioroshi nods, resigned `I’m sorry to catch you up in this.’

a shrug `I accepted the risks of conducting this interrogation. I’m a fork in any event. My deletion will not be an appreciable loss of Oversight assets.’

`Right… Anyway, the ASI invited us to physically enter one of its glowing blue `fruits’. We did so. As soon as I did, I found myself elsewhere… in something like a simulspace interrogation space." she gives the hint of a smirk. "I found myself on earth, covered in my mother’s blood as a TITAN headhunter drone flew off with her head and stack. My father was dragging me to the Kilimanjaro space elevator, and the military was only just holding the machines at bay…’

`This was a memory of yours from the Fall, correct?’

Kioroshi nods `yeah, the day I made it off Earth. In mid-flight, my father turned to me and began speaking with the voice of the ASI. The action and violence all around us faded out and we had a… surprisingly calm discussion about the last ten years of my life, specifically my career and life choices. It didn’t ask anything about Oversight specifically. I didn’t get the impression it cared about the organization itself. It seemed more interested in my motivations, my strategic and tactical life choices that brought me to my current state. I think it wanted to understand why I was so committed to destroying it. Since I figured I was already as good as dead or corrupted, and it could shred my psyche to get what it wanted anyway, I was… pretty frank with it. I straight up told it exactly why entities like it should not exist, or at least should not exist in proximity to transhumanity. I made it pretty clear that co-existence would not be possible, as humans will always hate and fear anything so much smarter and more powerful that it could wipe us out. It didn’t seem to have any particular emotional response to my own strong feelings, though, and in fact it even thanked me for the perspective.’

`It… thanked you?’

`Yeah… it was the most surreal thing. Or, rather, the most surreal up to that point. What happened after is arguably far more surreal. So, I blink and I’m back, floating in that blue sphere, with the six others. The ASI has manifested a crude avatar. It asked us permission to… copy certain parts of each of us that it found particularly intriguing so as to incorporate those things into its own evolving programming. My reaction was basically `hell no’ but the others were… more accomodating, particularly the AGIs. They seemed to be under the belief that the ASI was… broken, to some degree, fragmented or missing certain elements of personality or socialization programming, and were willing to let it basically just… take parts of their egos to augment itself. They seemed to treat this as something akin to being this things collective parents, notwithstanding the apparent fact that it has already iterated to hyperintelligence capable of growing advanced structures from what must have been nothing more than some specks of smart-dust left after the blast eight years ago. Kshatra congratulated it on its evolving concept of ethics, recognizing that it could simply take whatever bits of us it wanted without asking. It told me it wanted my `sense of conviction to something larger than myself’ and I, recognizing I couldn’t actually know whether it had taken what it wanted anyway, consented just to stay on everyone’s good side.’

`Sound tactics. If it contributed to the decision not to airlock you, I commend you. This intelligence is… extremely important.’

`I haven’t got to the good bit yet. The ASI asked for the anarchists’ help in procuring raw materials so it could fabricate a way off the asteroid before our ships could get there and nuke it again. It put forth two options. First, it claimed it could create a Pandora gate. Second, it…’


`…yeah… Second, it claimed it could just create a hyper-advanced farcaster to transmit itself to parts unknown. It then left it to US to decide which option it would pursue. This, as you might imagine, sparked an extensive debate on the socio-political realities of having a gate in the Jovian Trojans. As my companions debated the various pros and cons of allowing a gate to be created there, I couldn’t help but feel like we were still being observed and analyzed, like the ASI was evaluating our decision-making processes, and had dangled a gate out there just to see what particular concerns it generated.’

`This is… huge. If it can actually do what it claimed, this is confirmation that the other gates were likely created by the TITANs and not pre-existing in our solar system. It means that if we could somehow leash one of these ASIs we could create our own gates at will…’

`I think you’re getting a bit ahead of yourself, but yes, I agree with the implications in principle. My companions, after some debate, decided that a gate would be advantageous. I believe they intend to inform Locus about it in the hopes that they can get resources organized fast enough to claim it and secure it.Their chief concern seemed to be the Jovians, but…’

`Yeah, but we already have ships en-route after your first egocast made it here thirteen days ago. We need to inform the Hypercorp Council immediately.’


`Very well. Since we’re under Omega Twelve, and will both be deleted, and this system scrubbed and destroyed, we should take the time to hash out every pertinent detail for the record.’

sighs `Very well. What should I elaborate upon first?’

synopsis ends



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.

So yeah.

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.

The Manchurian Psychosurgeon


From the Journal of Father Ruiz Aguilar

The opening play has been made, and the game is now spinning out of my control, as I knew it would from the start. When the Firewall proxies decided that the threat of Aeryn Taft-Crowley needed to be contained, interrogated, and neutralized, I hoped merely that I could provide a more merciful end to something that might once have been human while preventing the slow and subtle infection that he/she represented from spreading further. Subsequent reports from scanner Teagan Adianes, however, presented an option that, while much more dangerous, is far more palatable to my sensibilities.

Her reports painted a picture of Aeryn that many proxies insisted was a false one, an indication that our scanner had been fooled by the cunning doppelganger in our midst. In my opinion, these proxies have let fear rule them much in the way the Jovian Republic has allowed their entire existence and society to be ruled. They would willingly sacrifice any number of innocents to ensure the faceless evil that confronts humanity is eliminated. As a Christian, I am aware that evil can never be truly eliminated, not least if we give in to it in our hearts. The Aeryn of Teagan’s reports is an ethical individual who showed great cunning and resourcefulness fighting the very things Firewall opposes. Aeryn willingly set foot on an aerostat corrupted by a basilisk-hack, not knowing if he would ever return. He destroyed exsurgents on the planet’s surface who were bent on spreading their infection. He tracked down and exposed the diabolical Karl VanDeLaarSchot not once, but twice… and is ready and willing to walk into the very den of iniquity that is Legba to do it a third time. These are not the actions of a cunningly concealed monster.

The decision to recruit Aeryn and her circle of associates rather than abduct him was not made lightly. I argued on our forums extensively for the former, and I stand by my decision by, quite literally, placing my life in her hands. I took the best security precautions I could. I invited Blue, who I know has not had Aeryn do psychosurgery on her. I isolated all our new sentinels from the mesh, and got them all to agree to avoid touch-based communication for the duration of the briefing, with the understanding that any attempt at contact should be construed as an attempt to infect others. This, I think, promptly got their attention. I then initiated the briefing. I gave them some background on Venus during the Fall, the construction of the would-be refugee aerostat code-named Canaan, the disappearance and presumed destruction of that aerostat before it could be brought fully online during a Venus-wide attack by a TITAN polymorphic dataphage virus. I briefed them all on Aeryn’s mysterious arrival on Mars via unencrypted neutrino transmission from Earth 18 months after the quarantine. I made it clear that the only reason Aeryn’s ego wasn’t deleted out of terror of another TITAN attack was the power and influence of the Taft-Crowley family, who nevertheless took every conceivable precaution to ensure their child was intact and not a monster.

I then proceeded to outline Firewall’s case that those precautions were insufficient. I watched Aeryn closely as I described the neutrino bursts that come from Earth, targeted at Venus, every five to six months. I described how in each instance, those bursts were targeted at a generally empty part of the planet, empty except for slow, leisure-sailing vessels crewed by a single person who had previously undergone psychosurgery at Aeryn’s hands. I described how these individuals never seemed to have clear memories of the few days following such a neutrino burst. I outlined the math, the telemetry, the data-cross-referencing, that Firewall has done correlating these mysterious data bursts with the movements of Aeryn’s patients. I finally broke down and told them that we have intercepted most of these bursts, and the encryption is of a type and complexity that we have only ever seen from the TITANS.

Somehow, Aeryn’s patients have been programmed while under her virtual knife to receive transmissions from earth. We suspect they then deliver that data to a concealed aerostat hiding deep in the Venusian atmosphere, an aerostat built specifically for immense computer processing power to handle estimated millions of infugees. I proposed the most likely theory that there’s a TITAN living secretly on Venus, and that Aeryn has been an unwitting agent for the last nine years.

At no point did Aeryn lunge at another, or “snap” and reveal a dark side. He was, to be honest, dumbfounded and, probably, horrified. The subsequent discussion did a lot to alleviate my initial concerns. It would appear that Aeryn’s conscious mind and personality holds strong over any subconscious programming that may exist. This was the crux of my admittedly risky plan… to place the investigation of Aeryn squarely in Aeryn’s own hands. To be honest, few in Firewall have his expertise at precisely the skills necessary to untangle this psychological puzzle. Although he has performed psychosurgery on all of his associates, and therefore any of them could be compromised, the plan relies on them taking action to minimize the risk through constant mutual monitoring and countermeasures. I provided them all the data we have so far, and left them to work.

It would be trite of me to say that it’s in God’s hands now. All things are in God’s hands. That doesn’t mean we should disclaim all responsibility for the solar system and the people in it. In this vein, I continue to monitor the situation with the help of scanner Adianes. It would appear that Aeryn and her associates went immediately to her hypercorporate headquarters to review her surgical technique to try to figure out the nature of this apparent programming. Aeryn also asked for a meeting with Jonathan Decani, one of her earliest success stories, and the only one of her patients to take three mysterious trips into the clouds of Venus. The more criminally-minded among them, Argo and Tari, have begun investigating the sourcing for neutrino receiver equipment that the subjects took with them on their cloud-voyages in hopes of finding any other agents or intermediaries. Although I am not privy to the precise precautions they’ve taken, the brief discussion they had in my office gives me confidence that between Tari’s technical skills, Argo’s survival skills, Ricky’s talents at surveillance and security, and Satori’s admittedly disturbing async talents, they should be able to sufficiently monitor each other against subversion.

I do not envy them. I can only imagine the horror of realizing that you may not be entirely in control of your faculties. To be honest, even though I have no mesh inserts and no implants to be subverted by machine intelligences, I am a flawed human, and I am well aware of the fickle nature of the mind’s own memories. Still, I am more resistant to the horrors they now must live with, investigate, and hopefully resolve.

My prayers are with them, as are all the resources Firewall has made available for this operation.

The Visitor


Internal Record Log 0900Alpha56, Encryption Key Generated, ID Tag: Oversight-Inagawa-Kioroshi-7

I woke on a slab in a dingy, anonymous room, naked and unbound, covered in a simple sheet. The body I awoke in seemed standard for me, which immediately aroused caution. I was accompanied by two individuals who initiated a classic “good cop bad cop” routine, but poorly, as if unpracticed or unprepared ahead-of-time. The male “good cop” cheerfully welcomed me to consciousness while the female “bad cop” glared at me. They demonstrated adequate caution about identifying themselves, but gave away certain details. For instance, they revealed that they had identified the encryption algorithm I used as an old Cognite product, and assumed I still worked for them. Out here, they’re not up-to-date on cutting edge encryption systems, apparently, as the product I used has been available on the Martian open market for months, and should not necessarily have led to the conclusion I was an employee. That was my mistake, forgetting the limits of Consortium market share.

I told them I was Oversight almost immediately, more to gauge their reactions than anything else. Curiously, neither of them appeared to recognize the significance of that fact, or at least they didn’t reveal any such recognition. They did, however, appear to recognize that their routine of alternating cheerfulness and aggression wasn’t going to make me spill any additional information and they changed tactic, informing me that I was on the Gulag Archipelago, and that they were Dr. Keitaro Chavez and Pandora.

My briefing on local problem areas came in handy. I immediately recognized both of them as former Cognite assets, which explained the hostility. I took some pains to assure them that while I may have once worked for Cognite, Oversight is an independent organization. They appeared to grudgingly accept this fact.

When Dr. Chavez identified himself my suspicions about my surroundings amplified. He was known for his skill in creating realistic simulspace environments, and I chose to act as if we were in an interrogation virtuality. Upon reflection, however, I am uncertain if this was the case or if Chavez merely humored me when I bargained for resleeving. In his position I certainly would have instantiated any strange, encrypted traveler in a simulspace, but his file did indicate he was unstable, so I remain unsure what to think.

I offered to reveal the nature of my mission, intimated that it represented a threat to their fleet, and offered Cognite project data to Pandora in exchange for resleeving and the opportunity to succeed where I had failed. They accepted this arrangement and “sedated” me. I woke on another slab, in a different dingy room. I am certain that the Gulag Archipelago’s resleeving facilities are not dingy storage rooms. I am at a loss as to why they would choose to relocate me to them. Perhaps it was a security concern.

I woke in a different sleeve; a basic splicer. I miss my standard issue enhancements, but I’ll have to do without. There were others present, who were introduced as two forks of someone named Echo, a self-identified anarchist named Dominic, and someone named Kiril. My mnemonic training recalled the dossier on the Gulag Archipelago, and the presence on that swarm of a Lost by that name. Closer examination detected certain telltale characteristics of Futura morph design. I hope I was able to conceal my concern from him.

I saw little other option but to reveal my mission and my findings in hope that they might provide the resources to put an end to the threat growing on the asteroid known as Turing.

I told them of the independent freighter Poseidon’s Call that reported strange activity from the asteroid. I told them of the Consortium’s policy, eight years ago, to leave the Infolife colony of Turing alone for scientific purposes, but also of the fragments and hints that “risk management” precursor groups to Oversight may have been behind the nuking of the colony and not radical anti-AI activists. I told them of my ship and crew’s mission to investigate, and the crude yet incomprehensible blast of energy that enveloped us from the rock once we got near. I told them that I barely made it to the emergency farcaster, and that our AGI pilot used its last moments calculating an escape geometry for the neutrino burst. I told them that, to our knowledge, nothing can stop a neutrino burst, but that this strange energy very nearly did so.

They acknowledged that my ego data-package was degraded in a way that should be impossible. That was the only evidence I had to support my theory that the AGI colony of Turing had been seeking the singularity, and that the remains of that colony may be reconstituting themselves into something very like a TITAN. They seemed hesitant to risk themselves, which I understood. I asked them only for permission to transmit myself back to HQ so we could send a force, notwithstanding the political difficulties surrounding PC warships in the Jovian Trojans.

Dominic in particular seemed savvy to the potential political difficulties surrounding any extension of PC force into the vicinity of Locus, and that appeared to convince him, and by extension his companions, that this threat needed to be investigated. While they prepared, I spent some time sleeved into a neo-dophin morph in the swarm’s fascinating water-filled ship. Some of the zero-g aquatic luminescent artwork is truly stirring.

The Gulag Archipelago has apparently lent Pandora and her companions a gunship. It’s an old model, but heavily customized, and is certainly much better armed, if slower and less maneuverable than the vessel I was originally sent on. The swarm apparently didn’t feel my warnings merited a larger strike force with bombardment-level weaponry. I get the feeling this is going to be a repeat of my last effort… a small scout ship seeking answers and blown to cosmic dust by unknown energies. I suppose I can hope that whatever lurks on the surface of Turing has limited aggressive resources, and that it expended itself trying to prevent me from reporting its presence.

If not, if it can repeat that impossible blast of energy, I may simply have repeated my previous mistakes.

That’s why I’m forking myself and sending the copy, along with this report, and attached files, to HQ. My companions, of course, are intelligent enough to back themselves up here on the swarm. We shall see what we shall see.


A Boarding Action


Exhuman Attack After Action Report: Icebox

Published to Swarm Public Mesh

The second of the Exhuman attack craft attempted a boarding action on the Icebox. Emergency-response flags were initiated to all Collective members. Unsurprisingly, Dominic Palacios took the lead on this, his security skillset being optimal for repelling violent boarders. He was supported by Kiril and Pandora, as well as a handful of other volunteers. Chase was on the scene, protected by a few case morphs.

Airlock breach was followed by a shock-and-awe tactic. Point of the spear was a large combat morph, six-armed, wielding over-large blades, claws, etc. followed by seven smaller, lithe, quick-insertion morphs. Battle was quick. Dominic, supported by Kiril, halted the initial advance through indiscriminate gunfire permitting Pandora to slip aboard the enemy attack craft. Chase’s case morphs created a barricade while Chase himself hacked the enemy combat-morph’s cyberbrain. Apparently the shock-and-awe morph was being remotely controlled via puppet sock.

Dominic charged the enemy, positioning himself in the breached airlock, trusting to Pandora to hack enemy ship systems to prevent reinforcements taking him from behind. With the loss of their shock-morph, and their momentum interrupted, Dominic negotiated the surrender of the boarders. Pandora seized the enemy ship, forcing the crew to flee in escape pods after a brief negotiation.

Icebox’s crew, therefore, brought the second of two attack craft into the swarm. The Collective was polled, and the name “Pandora’s Box” was decided on due to her significant role in securing the vessel.

Mexican Standoff


Personal Archive – Lira – Alpha-7 class AI Muse

I can often forget that I’m a personality matrix run by an AI rather than the actual Lira, especially when Argo goes on one of his benders. When he’s a puddle in his room, drugged out of his mind, I can’t help but occasionally nag him or express my disapproval. I wonder, sometimes, if this is why he keeps me around. Some part of me was proud, though, that when he discovered that our daughter… his daughter that is… was being taken through the Vulcanoid Gate by … Lira… his response was suitably protective.

Of course, he had to wait for his companions to return from their mission to recover all their stolen forks from Cognite, but he did arrange transport to the vulcanoids. When they got back, his gang lieutenant, Blue, brought him to Adrian Lau’s bar. where Adrian revealed that Blue is another Firewall Sentinel. We were all given a brief “welcome” speech before being taken to meet our new “proxy.” We were rather surprised to see Father Aguilar. Apparently he “transferred” to Venus under cover of that Jovian diplomatic mission. He was very cagey about why he was here, implying certain knowledge or threats that were only safe in a brain free of mesh inserts. He also indicated he had no particular prejudice against Argo or Tari although I’m not sure I believe him.

He spoke of a need to plan an operation against Legba, but indicated there was certainly time enough for Argo to find his daughter. Ricky Thompson had an appointment in a few days, and so couldn’t make the ship Argo prepared, but the others were willing to accompany him, with Ricky egocasting to the vulcanoids to catch up. Before we left, though, there were some loose ends on Venus.

Tari had a visitor at her company… Dr. Ilya Fero was present and wishing to speak with her. Ricky infiltrated the exterior of the office while Argo and I slipped in through the CEO’s side rooms to observe the conversation. Dr. Fero, who is both the scientist that created Tari, and the ego inhabiting the space station Thought, seemed well aware of Tari’s involvement in infiltrating her station. She also seemed distressed at the implications of Karl’s infiltration of her systems. She wanted Tari to tell her what she knew about Karl so that she might have leverage with the Cognite board to justify shutting down Project PsiClone.

The irony of this was not lost on Tari, who called up the rest of the gang to discuss whether or not simply to tell a representative of Cognite the information the company had forknapped them to procure. The consensus was that Cognite having this information was safer for everyone than them continuing to remain in ignorance of the danger, but that Cognite should be made to pay in information of their own.

Dr. Fero seemed amenable. Tari told her about Karl, and about the Vittrad strain of the exsurgent virus. In exchange, Fero gave Tari information on the project that created Tari, gave Aeryn Taft-Crowley information on Legba (scanty though it was), told Satori that Dr. Bharani was now a free agent living on Ilmarinen, and gave Ricky the information on a Cognite employee named “Simon” that Ricky wanted.

Aeryn apparently had some trouble getting Cognite to honor certain software agreements and threatened to leak the forknapping over the mesh. That apparently got resolved. I’m not privy to the details, although a young Jennifer Rodriguez was posting to her public mesh profile her excitement at having landed an “internship” at CRS.

Eventually the ship left. Four days later, we arrived at the TerraGenesis facility at the Vulcanoid Gate. Aeryn called in favors to get us put up in their receiving area after assuring them we had no interest in the gate itself. A discussion ensued about how things would proceed once I… that is, Lira… arrived. Argo demonstrated his usual short-sightedness, suggesting a snatch-and-grab of young Juno. The other prevailed upon him to try a more diplomatic approach, although Argo’s squad of thugs were nonetheless paid to set up in the starship terminal in optimal positions for crossfire should it be necessary.

Dr. Mahmoud al Tikriti and Harper Drau were present, albeit in different morphs, to welcome Lira’s ship, and they recognized Argo and company. It would seem that Lira’s faction of the Hidden Concern, having lost recent political plays within the organization, was now the “first in” group for an attempt at exo-planet colonization. The Hidden Concern had found a suitable aquatic world, and were heading through the gate to set up a colony. When the ship docked, someone had tipped them off, because the passengers disembarked thugs-first before an angry Lira and a frightened Juno emerged.

It is deeply disconcerting to watch from behind Argo’s eyes as he talks to me… to Lira. She had sharp words for him, of course. She was only doing the reasonable thing, taking her daughter with her to the new colony world. Lira may be exiled, but she can at least keep her daughter close and safe rather than all alone in an entirely different solar system.

Argo managed to convince Lira to let him talk to Juno without her hovering. She took Satori as a hostage. Argo tried to get Juno to make a decision about whether to stay or go, but she’s a child. Like I tried to tell him, it’s not her job to make these sorts of decisions for herself. Ultimately Argo and Lira came to a complicated solution where they’d enroll Juno in school at Atlantica for two years while Lira and her colony ensures it’s reasonably safe. Then, at the end of two years, Juno could decide whether to join her mother. Juno could also, at any point in that two years, contact the TerraGenesis office on Atlantica for transport and gate passage, sponsored and paid for by Aeryn.

Just as things looked like they were going to de-escalate, one of Lira’s soldiers shot one of the station’s security pods. There didn’t appear to be any reason for it, but everyone was on edge, and bullets started to fly. Argo and Lira both jumped to get Juno to safety as their first priority, while everyone else tried to get everyone to stop shooting. They were ultimately successful, with only three casualties on our side… Ricky, Swiss, and Sashimi. The aftermath was a mess. TerraGenesis took everyone into custody, and it took days to sort out. Ricky was egocast back to Venus from his cortical stack and Argo managed to pay to get his two dead gang members resleeved.

We all boarded the ship to return to Venus, along with Juno, who would be delivered to Atlantica. I’m looking forward to being able to spend some time in transit with my… I mean Argo’s… daughter.



Sender: Sentinel ID “Silkworm”
Recipient: Proxy ID “Eagle’s Nest”

As I’m sure you’re aware by now, scanner Teagan Adianes (aka Adrian Lau) took quick action on the Cognite concern, moving up our timetable on Project PsiClone dramatically. I know you strongly advocated for a slow, subtle infiltration approach, and I had already laid the groundwork for such a thing, but she made the judgment call on the ground that we had an opening and a new team of potentials with a very personal, vested interest in hitting Cognite hard and fast, providing suitable diversion cover for our own operation. It is my after-action assessment that she made the right call. Despite my personal dislike of Aeryn Taft-Crowley, her async associate Satori proved vital in uncovering additional information that even Cognite did not possess about their primary test subject, as well as the threat that subject represents both locally and elsewhere.

The mission was, ostensibly, to infiltrate the new recruits into Thought so that they could hunt down the simulspace environments where their forks, taken against their will by Cognite, were being run through the usual gauntlet. It was unclear, exactly, why Cognite had felt the need to commit a crime against these five individuals, or what information, exactly, they had that Cognite was so desperate to get, but it was Teagan’s assessment that it was related to PsiClone in some fashion. Our predictive algorithms determined that their modus operandi should result in actionable intel, especially if given cover by a blatant, brute-force attack on PsiClone directly. The chances of the brute-force attack succeeding were deemed to be small but the distraction and drain on station security resources would permit a team as naturally paranoid and careful as theirs to dig up what we needed. This is, essentially, exactly what happened.

I brought them aboard using the ID Crew’s darkcast facility, spoofing corporate ego-cast traffic to slip us through the backdoor I’d already established for my own use. We then hid in the partitioned server-space I’d created as a safe locale. Ricky Thompson used my subversion of Thought’s internal dating site intranet to get a message to his friend Sanjay, but opted against direct contact. We made our way through Thought’s systems to their central data-mining and processing servers where we went our separate ways. I activated my pre-programmed fractal forking protocol for a brute-force attack on PsiClone’s systems while they slipped past security toward the simulspace projects where their forks were held. Their hacker, Tari, established their control over that project’s system space while Aeryn convinced most of the monitor indentures to leave to support defending PsiClone. Ricky cyberbrain-hacked one of the remaining monitors, while Aeryn took out the other. They then systematically plundered all data on their project, including some interesting “anomalies” in one of the simulspaces that demonstrated just how far PsiClone’s cancerous influence had spread through the station’s systems.

But I get ahead of myself. My fractal forks were all destroyed, but not before I sowed a great deal of chaos both virtually and physically. Cognite had to put down a number of their own personnel when I released containment on their Watts-MacLeod samples. My monitor fork returned to the safe-house server where the others trickled in. A breach of security of that magnitude necessitated a full station shutdown of incoming and outgoing transmission, so we laid low for three days. That’s when the real dirt came out.

In addition to learning the details on their success in deleting their own forks, I learned that PsiClone is basically one test subject, Karl VanDeLaarSchot, a member of the Lost generation. According to what PsiClone data I was able to get, Cognite believes he possesses a particularly pure, or potent strain of Watts-MacLeod, and is seeking to replicate those results in the lab. They were concerned, however, as Karl isn’t being particularly cooperative, thus their willingness to forknap our new recruits to learn what they know from their own encounter with the version of Karl they killed on Mars. According to Satori, who sought out Karl and had a something of a family chat with him, he has been infected with a second strain of the exsurgent virus known as the Vittrad strain, a strain that, while not particularly virulent, remains transmissible through intimate virtual contact. According to Ricky, his forks in the Cognite simulspace were being offered this “gift” by Karl (the “anomalies” in the system noted by Cognite were Karl’s intrusions into the simulspace), and Karl explained something of what the “gift” would grant… namely the capacity to see weakness in virtual systems, as well as weakness in flesh and synthetic entities. This is apparently the origin of Karl’s capacity to subvert Cognite’s systems, as well as the need to flay and vivisect people when embodied. As a virtual entity, these impulses are, apparently, less pronounced.

Much to my surprise, Satori volunteered that Karl had offered her the same thing… and that she had accepted. I immediately ran every intrusion, anti-hacking, and anti-viral subroutine in my possession. Her companions seemed similarly disconcerted. I initiated private communication with Tari expressing my opinion that we should restore Satori from the backup she’d had made before the mission and destroy this copy of her with all haste. Fortunately, Tari seemed to agree with my suggestion, but seeing as there was no evidence that any of us had become infected from proximity over those three days, we played it cool lest Satori lose it and turn into something uncontrollable.

Once the station’s lockdown was lifted, we spoofed another corporate egocast back to Octavia. I sent word ahead to scanner Adianes about the Satori situation. She was, in my opinion, rather less careful than she should have been. I attribute this to an emotional attachment to Satori. Nevertheless, she did broach the subject of restoring Satori from backup out loud. Satori, upon seeing Adianes, and experiencing first-hand the effects of her Vittrad infection, tentatively agreed, but asked that her infected iteration be kept in storage for study. Adianes agreed, and I expect you’ll be getting a report outlining the pros and cons of attempting to study this thing. I anticipate lively debate among the proxies. I’m glad it’s above my pay grade.

Our new Sentinel Tari was admirably thorough in scrubbing herself and her companions when they resleeved, including the restored version of Satori. She then downloaded the infected version, scrubbing all systems and physically destroying all equipment. I commend her. Adianes has the infected copy. I suggest tossing it overboard. The conditions of the Venusian surface should be enough to take care of the problem.



Project PsiClone Sequestered Data File: filename not found

Poor Marja. I see her again after all this time and she’s dancing to Cognite’s tune. It seems she and her new friends encountered a version of me on Mars and made an appointment to come to Thought to make a deal with the company.

The company, of course, sitting on me as the center of their blackest of black projects, was desperate for any and all data they may have collected about the version of me on Mars… desperate enough to engage in flagrant fork-napping to get it.

From the perspective of Marja and her friends, of course, they just went through some “ordinary security measures” to verify their identities, which included a brain-print scan. Of course, this company has some pretty cutting edge upload scanners that, with minor modification, can pass as standard brain-print scans. The suckers didn’t even know they were being forked. As far as they knew, they underwent security procedures and were denied a shuttle to Thought.

Their forks, of course, were similarly kept in the dark. They entered a reasonably seamless simulspace sequence where they, believing themselves to still be embodied, traveled to Thought to meet with Dr. Alan Sheppard, an original Futura researcher who isn’t even on this station, but whose face was selected to be run by the interrogation AI due to his connection to Marja and me. His face was intended to throw Marja off balance, bring the subject of the Lost into front-and-center in the conversation, and bring matters to the subject of me so that the emulation algorithms could start to mine data on where in their neural meshes the information on me might be concealed for later psychosurgical investigation.

They had a long conversation with “Dr. Sheppard” where he elicited from them their various reasons for being there, the data they were hoping to attain, and the fact that one of them, Ricky Thompson, was able to perceive my “touch”, namely upon “George,” an infomorph they’ve had me working on. Bringing “George” into the scenario was Cognite’s unwitting mistake, for that alerted me to the fact that this was going on at all.

I started monitoring the simulspace scenario Cognite had constructed for them. The various business negotiations eventually wore down, and “Dr. Sheppard” went to phase 2, seeking to destabilize their sense of reality so as to map their crisis-response neurology. They “woke up” in hospital beds in a simulation of Earth’s city of Singapore, with custom-crafted memory-grafts intended to imply that their entire lives, the Fall, and everything was an extended simulspace experiment, and that they were, in fact, citizens of Earth, and that none of their recent experiences with Watts-MacLeod, or any other strangeness, was real.

Most people, when confronted by a plausible explanation that explains away the Fall, and all its subsequent cultural traumas, would have embraced the new reality, albeit with some confusion, and perhaps momentary severe emotional reactions. Marja’s friends certainly demonstrated severe emotional reactions, but they gripped firmly the notion (correct, as it turns out) that this seductive pre-Fall world was an illusion. I chose to reveal myself to Ricky, offering to gift him with Cognite’s Vittrad strain, which would allow him to see the cracks in reality like I do. He refused, choosing instead to commit suicide with a shard of broken glass, and throw himself out the 25th floor window of the simulated Singaporean building. I have to hand it to him, that took courage. I’ll give him the same offer again in the next iteration of the simulation.

The octopus and the socialite both took the plummet-to-death option as well, leaving just the raven and Marja. The raven flew through the shattered window to face the tropical storm, while Marja got herself released, and walked through the city. I walked with her for a time. We caught up. We watched the storm arrive until it blew her into oblivion as the simulation reset.

They’ll try another variant, of course, each time mapping different neural response patterns to analyze the deep structures of their minds. Eventually they’ll start the psychosurgery. I’ll be fascinated to see what my other self was up to before they killed him.

As far as I can tell, their originals remains oblivious to the fact that they were forknapped, returning down to Venus. I tried to catch Marja’s attention by arranging a sudden news story about a rumored member of the Lost on Gerlach, but she didn’t follow up to a terminal where I might have been able to send a coded communication. Ah well.

Memory and Identity


Personal Archive – Echo – Alpha-7 class AI Muse, modeled on a Beta-fork of Aeryn Taft-Crowley

I was shut down and wiped from Aeryn’s system due to his activities in the Lucifer aerostat, but the authorities did permit him to restore me from backup while undergoing quarantine procedures. This was also when he began his customary transition to once more becoming her.

I’m not normally prone to generating files like this one, but Aeryn was duly troubled by certain pseudo-memories or visions he received on his Lucifer operation and this led him down a trail of investigation more… intensive… than he had done previously. So intensely was he pursuing this psychosurgical form of self-reflection that I was forced to filter news I would ordinarily flag as meriting his attention, notably the activities of his new associates-in-employment to the Morningstar Diplomatic Corps.

One area I filtered until he had finished his investigations was a personal mission undertaken by Tari on behalf of Argo. Their budding relationship is interesting, especially considering they work for different criminal syndicates. They have thus far succeeded at keeping their respective employers’ interests from sabotaging their ability to work together. This trip, taken to Ceres, seemed to serve both groups’ interests however.

It would seem that Argo’s former wife… or is it “mate” when referring to an uplift? had enrolled their daughter, Juno, in a prestigious school in Atlantica. Argo simply wanted Tari to confirm this information and ensure that Juno’s education was proceeding appropriately. Tari brought Ricky Thompson along as bodyguard and arranged an egocast to Ceres where they engaged in the planetoid’s Extropian-style system of business and personal protection. Aside from a brief run-in with local law enforcement seeking to extort money from them, Tari was able to uncover the fact that Juno had not, in fact, been enrolled in this school, and was no longer on Ceres with her mother. Deeper digging into Hidden Concern records revealed that both of them were on a ship heading for the Vulcanoid gate operated by TerraGenesis. Since Argo’s ex-mate is deeply involved in a rival faction of the Hidden Concern to the faction Argo belongs to, which is in current negotiations with TerraGenesis, there were implications to this information. Upon Tari and Ricky’s return, Argo began plans to intercept the ship, but needed to be kept busy while he waited for the slow realities of space travel.

Another filtered piece of news that I kept from Aeryn during his self-study was some violence orchestrated by Argo at the behest of Satori Teagan. Normally I flag anything relating to Satori’s personality disorders for Aeryn’s immediate attention. It would appear that a local musician who specializes in bhangra-fusion trance music known as DJ Oonz-oonz has mixed into his new pieces extra-solar music. Anything having to do with gates and exoplanets is the current rage on Venus with the discovery of a gate on the surface below. This DJ was creatively capitalizing on the hype. Apparently hearing the music generated by wind through certain alien structures on the exo-planet Sunrise caused Satori to develop a murderous reaction. Argo, needing a release for his tensions, translated that reaction into a physical assault against the DJ. Rathe Aptuur was able to clean up the aftermath, but seemed rather annoyed at the necessity.

Ricky, alone, kept low-key enough that nothing came to my attention that I had to keep from Aeryn during his self-investigation, although some of what he had been looking into was later made clear.

As to that investigation, Aeryn decided to make an alpha fork of himself and then pick that fork apart looking for suppressed or hidden memories. He rapidly realized, however, that he (and other skilled psychosurgeons) had done that many times and turned up nothing. He chose, instead, to operate under the assumption that there were no suppressed or hidden memories, and the pseudo-memories or visions that he experienced were something else. First he sought to target the parts of his neurology where those pseudo-memories might be found. He ran simulation after simulation in accelerated simulspace to narrow down the right snarl of interconnected cells-in-virtuality. He then ran some complex cutting-edge software suites developed by CRS in partnership with Cognite to analyze the structure.

What he discovered was that those disturbing memories or visions were self-created. The mind creates memories all the time, of course, often filling in blanks to create a whole (if inaccurate) picture. It would appear that Aeryn’s mind was stimulated by recent external events in such a way as to cause chopped fragments of memory to arise, and form the foundation for new created-memories. The intriguing question, then, is where those fragments came from.

Although psychosurgery is, in some ways, more art than science, and there was no way he could prove his conclusions, he began to suspect that his mind is a construct, created from the pieces of more than one mind, wrapped in the personality-shell of Aeryn Taft-Crowley. These fragments were imperfect edges where undesired parts of someone else’s mind were cut away. These nonsensical shards, when stimulated, caused new memory formation.

While this means Aeryn can’t rely entirely on the information contained in those created memories, some of the details may in fact be the fragments upon which the new memory was created, and might provide some clues as to the original egos that formed the building blocks of his current ego.

Since my own personality matrix is based on a beta-fork of Aeryn, this is somewhat disconcerting, as it means both of us may not be entirely who we think we are. It remains a theory, however, and neither of us know of any group or technology able to do such a thing with such skill. Ego-jamming is a vile art practiced by some butchers such as Nine Lives, but such things leave large and obvious mental scars that are quite apparent to any psychosurgeon. This has escaped even the most vigorous investigation the Taft-Crowley family fortune could afford.

Once Aeryn emerged from simulspace, I made her aware of her companions’ recent activities. It would seem that both Ricky and Tari have an interest in going up to Thought, Cognite’s orbital research station, for various personal investigations. It would appear that Satori has a personal interest in the company (albeit perhaps not a healthy one) and Argo needs a distraction from the stress of worrying about his daughter. CRS makes regular use of Cognite technology, and Tari’s Egonomics has some contractual ties as well. They are planning a trip to Thought under the cover of corporate R&D discussions, with an aim toward information theft. I admit to some reservations that they can crack one of the most secure facilities of one of the most secretive and powerful hypercorporations so casually, but I suppose we’ll see.


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