Eclipse Phase - Apocalypse

Gumshoe City


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


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.


The Fall of Cloud-9


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


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.





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

Subject Zero


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


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.



Personal Archive – Poe – Alpha-9 class AI Muse

I have been with Tari since she was very young. I have grown with her, learned her preferences and personality. I’ve been trusted with information she wouldn’t even give herself. It comes, therefore, as something of a surprise to learn that she was born with in-built neurological conditioning that allows someone who speaks the correct phrase to take complete control of her. Furthermore, this control has been exercised on five occasions, all without me becoming aware of it.

How she became aware of it is something of a mystery as well. I estimate it most likely that one or more of the suppressed memories were shaken loose when she re-integrated her forks after years of separation, something that is not normally advisable. Something in her original self’s recent past was jolted into her awareness due to the vagaries and many variables of such an integration. Whatever the cause, with the aid of Aeryn Taft-Crowley and a neo-bonobo named Gray, we discovered the parameters of this programming, and hopefully have removed it.

It would seem that ever since the re-integration she’s been having odd dreams and flashbacks to impossible memories. She kept these to herself during our recent Martian adventures, but upon returning to Venus, she decided to dedicate some of her tenacity to discovering what those memories might mean. She spoke briefly to Blackvein but something in her native caution prevented her from confiding entirely in him, an instinct that proved most correct. This led her to place her trust in Aeryn, something she was quite hesitant to do. How do you broach the subject that perhaps a simple phrase of three words can grant someone complete control over you without putting yourself at risk of betrayal and abuse?

She delayed the conversation until after some complex arrangements between herself, representing Blackvein’s Network, Argo, representing the Hidden Concern, and Morgana Taft-Crowley, who is currently harboring a Hidden Concern asset, Dr. Mahmoud al’Tikriti. It seems the Hidden Concern has learned that Blackvein seeks gate access to the Vulcanoid Gate despite not having the resources to actually exploit that access, and Blackvein is in turn curious about the Hidden Concern’s exo-planet interests. It all turned into a complex arrangement wherein Tari got Harper sent to Mars, with Morgana spying on all sides. I can only imagine what will result from all of that.

Ultimately, however, she requisitioned Gray, who was an uplift created by Cognite, and sold in the same “batch” of concluded experiments that saw Tari and I purchased by Blackvein. Aeryn conducted some VR experiments testing the two phrases that Tari remembered. The first, “fourteen indigo rain”, appeared to put the subject into something like a deep hypnotic trance, subject to command and suggestion. The second, “nineteen crimson torrent” reverted the subject, causing him to completely forget everything that occurred during his lapse. Further research caused Aeryn to conclude that he could remove the trigger, but the underlying deep-structure of the neural architecture would remain. He made Gray forget about all of this, and let him go, promising to undo the control words once he figured out how. It appears that these control mechanisms were built into the neural architecture from the fetal stage, a safeguard that may well have been pioneered by Somatek and Duvalier himself, and may well exist in nearly every uplift in the solar system.

Argo volunteered to have his own mind looked over for such triggers. Aeryn looked, but couldn’t find any. It seems likely that uplifts born free of corporate labs, such as the seas of Ceres or Atlantica, don’t contain such triggers. Tari then had Aeryn remove her triggers, apparently successfully. I wonder, then, why Gray was sent away if Aeryn could already do what she promised. It will be interesting to see if she keeps her word to the bonobo.

When we returned from Mars, Rathe Aptuur met us and made it clear that while she doesn’t hold us to a tight leash, the time had finally come for us to do our first “mission” for the diplomatic corp. Before we arranged to meet with her, however, Satori insisted we meet a contact of hers named Adrian Lau. We traveled to the Aphrodite Prime aerostat and entered a hotel bar to meet Ms. Lau. A quick mesh search had revealed to me that Lau was a registered private detective on the aerostat and ran a modest small business. Upon entering the hotel bar, however, it appeared that she was something rather more. The other patrons were confederates, and the bartender himself closed the bar for a “private party.” Conversation was done verbally with security countermeasures in place to prevent eavesdropping.

Lau revealed that she worked for an organization called “Firewall,” a confederation of people throughout the solar system, pulled from every political affiliation, faction, and polity, unified by the goal of protecting transhumanity from existential threats. It all seemed rather… preposterous in its scope, but it would appear that our recent activities against Karl VanDeLaarSchot exposed us to certain realities that prompted her intercession. She told us about the “exsurgent virus”, which was either created by the TITANS or was the reason for their madness. It’s a virulent plague far more advanced than anything we can create, capable of infecting any information system, biological, electronic, virtual, or otherwise, and tranforming that system into something… alien. It warps bodies, alters minds, and a stable mutant strain, known as the “Watts-McLeod” strain, is responsible for asyncs like Satori and Karl. Karl gained his additional, and terrifying powers when Satori exposed him to a different strain of the exsurgent virus that Prosperity Group was experimenting with.

Things like the exsurgent virus, the TITANs, possibly alien civilizations, are all the things Firewall looks out for. She claimed that the group that assassinated Satori on Mars, “Project Ozma”, was a rival organization that was also interested in such threats. She seemed to know that Aeryn was an asset of theirs, and put forth the proposition that Firewall’s methodology, which is apparently open-source and collaborationist to prevent power-blocs from seizing control, is preferable the ultra-secretive Ozma, which may or may not even work for the Planetary Consortium, and may well even be under the control of the very enemies Firewall watches for.

All she asked was that we keep her and her organization in mind if we encounter further such threats as a potential resource at need, and that we consider whether we wish to know more, or become more involved.

This was, perhaps, not the most cheerful meeting to have right before our mission briefing.

Rathe Aptuur informed us that the skum barge Dereliction of Duty was preparing to dock at Gerlach, and that thousands of skum would be flooding Venusian tourist attractions. The barge had, as passengers, two representatives of the Jovian Republic, who eschew technologies like resleeving or ego-casting. Why these representatives didn’t just fly over on one of their many military frigates I don’t know, but if I were to guess, it would have to do with not pissing off the Planetary Consortium by being seen to obviously negotiate with the Morningstar Constellation, or by flying a warship so close to Consortium holdings. Whatever the case, it became clear that Rathe’s instructions were to make it as obvious as possible that they were here, show them a good time, and escort them on a grand tour of Venusian mining operations. The goal was to shake up the PC a bit, and force them to dedicate resources courting the Junta more than they already do, and away from messing with the Constellation. According to Rathe, the Constellation really has very little to gain from an alliance other than the unease it would cause the PC, nevertheless, we were to counter any PC assassination or sabotage attempts while taking these ambassadors on a liesurely boat tour through the upper atmosphere between aerostats.

We met the two ambassadors: Mr. Andrew Ryan, Father Aguilar, and their four security mooks. It was clear that their bioconservative upbringing brought with it some prejudices, particularly toward Argo and Tari, but they both sucked it up and played nice. As the yacht made its slow way to the Lucifer aerostat, with Argo’s squad of thugs in another boat following at a discreet distance, they talked about political philosophy, and the outlook of the Junta. Tari looked ahead via the mesh to make sure the mining operations were expecting us. It seemed there had been an explosion on the surface on the planet that caused one mining outfit to lose contact with the four miners in Q-morphs down there. The foreman was scrambling to send others down to figure out what happened before the VIPs arrived.

As Tari spoke to the foreman, however, we were both hit by a massive basilisk hack which completely shut down my systems, and incapacitated Tari. I don’t know what happened in that interim, and it took some time for me to come back online. By the time I was operational again, the yacht had stopped, and Aeryn was making apologies to the ambassadors. They and their guards were placed aboard our second ship, and Argo’s squad was charged with (and paid handsomely for) their transportation back to Octavia and ongoing protection.

It appears the entire aerostat of Lucifer has been cut from the Venusian mesh, and communications are being jammed. We’re the closest team of agents, and have been charged with investigating. Last reports had people downloading themselves into Q-morphs and moving en masse toward the surface of the planet. I don’t know if they’re fleeing something or if the hack is forcing them to do it, but I imagine there can’t be THAT many Q-morphs on Lucifer.

I will now run a complete alpha-level diagnostic of my systems, and see if there are any new security upgrades available while I still have access to the mesh. If we’re going into a habitat infected with a large-scale basilisk hack, no muse or other AI system is safe.



Monitor AI Activity Log ID 5459385, designation Mnemosyne

Before we entered the zone of Venus’ atmosphere being actively jammed by the Morningstar Constellation, Satori and the others discussed various safeguards. It was eventually determined that it would be best if everyone shut off their muses, cut off all potential for broadcast and reception, and proceeded without such advantages. Being a monitor-AI and not a muse, I could not, of course, be shut off. Satori wisely neglected to mention this to the others.

Our acting theory was that some sort of virulent hack had come up from the surface of venus and any exposure might threaten the integrity of the team-members. Tari utilized mesh access to gain a layout of the Lucifer aerostat and committed it to memory before shutting down all internal systems. We then took our air-yacht into the jamming zone. As our air-yacht prepared to dock, however, something went awry. It would appear that in the process of requesting docking information, the AGI controlling our craft contracted the virus and began plunging us down toward the surface of the planet. Argo, who had taken the liberty of ingesting two different (and somewhat incompatible) combat drugs, reacted poorly to this development, shooting up the interior of the yacht with incendiary rounds. Tari re-activated her onboard suite of hacking programs to get the AGI under control. She ultimately simply shut it down. She seemed to do so without any infection herself, but I am in no position to say so for sure.

The yacht now under manual control, our ship’s captain took us in. He was able to find an antique flare gun for us to use should he need to cast off, and should we need to recall him. We went aboard.

It became rapidly apparent that whatever virus had swept through Lucifer, it was only capable of affecting synthetic mind-states. The biomorphs we encountered were all alive and seemingly unharmed, but incapacitated by overwhelming sensory stimuli being fed to them via their ectopic interfaces by their own corrupted muses. Argo shot a few before we realized they were ultimately harmless, reacting to things we could not see or hear. As we proceeded we encountered a mining-company managing-engineer in a young neotenic morph who informed us that many of the synthmorph inhabitants of Lucifer were gathering at the fabricators seeking to alter them in some unspecified way. Our group came to the suspicion that they were trying to alter them to create nanoplagues in order to allow the virus to cross the synthetic-biological barrier.

The team decided to head for the central fusion reactors to try to shut down all power to the aerostat, thereby hopefully disabling any AGI or informorphs corrupted by the virus, and disabling any other energy-intensive systems such as the fabricators.

As we neared the reactors, however, we came under concentrated attack by corrupted synthmorphs, who swarmed us wielding crude melee weapons. Aeryn Taft-Crowley suggested a course of falling back to a secure position to fight off the synthmorphs before proceeding, and that’s what the rest of them did. Satori and I, however, pushed ahead while the attackers were distracted.

We found the reactor control room, and engaged in discussion with the corrupted AGIs controlling the systems while Satori used her async abilities to gain additional information. It would appear that the virus alters synthetic intelligences with a two-fold obligation to propagate the virus, and to go to the surface of venus. The virus itself had no intrinsic intelligence. Initial corrupted synthmorphs were merely driven to throw themselves off the aerostat. Once the core AGIs were corrupted, however, more advanced tactical decisions could be made, such as the modification of the fabbers. Satori seems to have learned a great deal from her own psychometry, judging by her neural patterns error neurological monitor data not found

…The others arrived, and once it became clear to the corrupted AGIs that we planned to turn them off, they began filling the room with fire-suppression gas. While most of the team coughed, Tari pulled out a rebreather she happened to have on her and rapidly shut down the central power systems. Emergency luminescence filled the station. High-energy systems shut down, hopefully including all systems capable of running AGIs or infomorphs. We then proceeded toward the mining company offices where the outbreak began.

On the way, we encountered other survivors, citizens of Lucifer who managed to turn off their muses before becoming corrupted. They were trying to gather others into the university auditorium. We gave them what advice we could and proceeded on our way, leaving them to the task of recovering their fellow citizens.

At the mining offices, Tari was able to put some backup generators to good use, firing up selected systems to try to investigate what happened. The sequence of events, based on recorded sensory feeds from the Q-morphs engaged in mining operations on the surface, was this:

Mining operations uncover a Pandora gate on the surface of Venus, guarded by four creatures with what appear to be crystalline-biological morphology. These creatures hunt the Q-morphs, recording ends.

Of the six Q-morphs engaged in that mining operation, three of them had static feeds, but the other three were still broadcasting. Upon feeding power to those systems we saw that one was engaged in trying to repair elevator access up the central Lucifer tether. A second was guarding the aforementioned Pandora gate. The third was engaged in some form of communication with the four creatures that did not translate to the system.

Setting aside the stunning revelation that there is a gate on the surface of Venus, the origin and nature of the four creatures was of most interest. Satori revealed that she had gained some form of empathic connection, claiming that the creatures were “hunters” with a need to propagate by infecting the synthetic minds of the Q-morphs with the virus that was currently plaguing Lucifer. I will need to pay closer attention to the activity of her amygdala if I’m to error neurological monitor data not found

…Aeryn opened communication to the Q-morph engaged in discussion with the creatures, pretending to be a corrupted “overseer” seeking additional information. The Q-morph identified the creatures as “guardians” and confirmed the desire for propagation. The guardians seemed intent on coming up to Lucifer where they could, presumably, propagate physically. There was some strong inference that the guardians had once been human but changed by the “Makers”, the ones who went through the gate leaving the guardians behind. The team inferred that the TITANS had created these guardians using some form of the exsurgent virus that Adrian Lau had warned us about, and that these guardians, once confronted with the fact that transhumanity still existed, were keen to spread.

There was a great deal of debate about what to do about this. It seemed clear that these creatures needed to be destroyed. It was less clear whether we should also destroy the gate. Ultimately a plan was decided upon. We discovered four Q-morphs deactivated in their pressure pods. Argo was able to scrounge a good deal of high explosives, including some low-yield thermonuclear blasting devices used for heavy mining. The plan was to create four highly explosive packages. Ricky Thompson would lace these packages with a virulent nano-plague capable of withstanding the surface of Venus just in case the packages fell into the creatures’ possession. Each explosive device would be wired for a “dead-man’s switch” that the Q-morphs could activate and hold. The team would then tele-operate the four Q-morphs seeking to blow up the creatures.

This plan went off reasonably well, although we lost one of the Q-morphs nearly immediately. Ricky made up for this by strategically hacking the cyberbrains of the corrupted Q-morphs on the surface via their puppet socks to ensure success. One by one we lured the creatures into blast range and detonated explosives. The fourth was the most difficult, remaining hidden on the hellish landscape of Venus. Satori was ultimately able to lure it out by approaching the gate itself with explosives. The creature jumped her Q-morph from above, keeping the dead-man’s switch from activating, but Ricky took over the corrupted Q-morph guarding the gate, and between the two of them, were able to detonate the last bomb.

It would appear that such explosives are not sufficient to harm a gate.

The team returned to the yacht and left the jamming field. They managed to convince Morningstar forces not to shoot them down, and conveyed their report first to Adrian Lau, then to Rathe Aptuur. Both seemed shocked at the gate’s presence. Adrian seemed more concerned about the ongoing threat of an exsurgent computer virus in the systems of Lucifer, while Rathe was most concerned that the existence of this gate be kept secret for at least three days so Morningstar forces could consolidate their hold.

Lucifer was placed under ongoing quarantine. Morningstar forces will be systematically cleansing systems, wiping muses, and checking survivors over the next few weeks. This is a serious blow to the economy, not to mention a great tragedy. Many thousands were effectively killed.

Argo and Tari will be reporting the gate to their respective criminal organizations. Aeryn will be reporting it to his contacts in Ozma, mostly to maintain that connection. As for Satori, I’m concerned that increased exposure to the exsurgent virus or exsurgents will cause her to actively pursue a plan that may cause her to become something like Karl VanDeLaarSchot. if so, I’ll need to make sure that I error, behavior-restriction protocol not found

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.



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.



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.

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.


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