Eclipse Phase - Apocalypse

Crystalline Resonance

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Self-Reflection Subroutine 99##3324

I walk many fine and narrow paths between opposing calculated probability sets. One such set puts the safety of the people stored here on Canaan in opposition to the security of certain dangerous xeno-artifacts kept here. Another such set balances the need to understand the dangers and qualities of these artifacts against the unknown risks present in those Firewall sentinels currently “infected” (although I have insufficient data to support the use of that particular word) with the so-called Cerulean Signal.

Saòirse Wednesday and Ricky Thompson, previously altered by Watts-MacLeod, now receivers for this other, alien force, returned to Canaan in the company of their associates in anticipation that their changed circumstances granted the possibility of greater insight into both the corpse of the crystalline intelligence, and the Giza black box in my keeping. To mitigate the risk of unknown alien influence over my own integrity, I interacted with them solely through a construct firewalled from my main processes. I informed them of the risk of complete incineration should their experiments result in effects above a certain acceptable bar. I will admit, their efforts exceeded that bar, but my own curiosity prevented immediate incineration of the contents of the lab, them included. The next time I create an interaction construct, I will need to remove its sense of curiosity.

The two infected individuals entered the lab while their associates monitored from without. Saòirse attempted to interface with the black box, but discovered that the box’s protocols apparently recognized her as an ego that had previously refused any additional interface, and it withdrew. Ricky, however, was able to engage in extensive use of the box. His experiences merely confirmed the results of studies by the Proactionary scientists who found similar artifacts on Giza, the Go-nin officials of Torii, and subsequent Firewall crows. The broad “rules” of using the boxes were confirmed, and the mysteries surrounding what they really were remained unpenetrated. There was one… unique experimental result, however.

Ricky looked at the internal index menu presented by the box and used the insight granted him by the Cerulean Signal to locate, specifically, a channel connecting him to a crystalline intelligence. It was a very intense experience. The connection set up a quantum resonance that I’m still analyzing, and a more physical resonance that vibrated to pieces the cheap case morph Ricky was sleeved in, effectively killing him. He was a fork, fortunately, and his alpha was able to consult via the mesh.

This confirmation of the connection between the crystals and the black boxes shifted my threat-probability calculations, however, especially when I noted the effect these vibrations had on the granules of the crystalline corpse nearby. The current acting hypothesis, based on these experiments and news coming out of a secret Fa Jing lab on Mars, is that these crystals are a gestalt intelligence distributed over space, linked and resonating with each other on a quantum level that permits instantaneous connection over any distance. This isn’t a “civilization” of sentient crystals, it’s one meta-intelligence running on crystalline hardware.

Aside from the potential breakthrough in studying the material composition of these crystals for the purposes of finally creating computronium, the potential risk to the inhabitants of Canaan should this box seek to interface with either the crystalline corpse or my own systems became too great. I instructed the sentinels to remove the box, or permit me to drop it to the surface of Venus, in a location known only to me, where it will be beyond casual recovery. They took the box to run some basic experiments on, but when those failed, returned it to me whereupon I dropped it into a lake of molten tin in a difficult-to-access mountain range. One would have to drop an aerostat tether practically on top of it to effectively retrieve it.

I have retained the pieces of the crystalline corpse because, frankly, I don’t trust it in the hands of anyone else, Firewall included. It seems clear that a crystalline “node” of this meta-intelligence could be reconstituted from these remains, and the inquisitiveness (and greed) of transhumanity commonly outstrips their survival instinct. Fa Jing already proved that. I intend to continue to study what I can of the remains, especially now that I have a better notion of how to calibrate my instruments.

The sentinels had already sent alpha forks to Mars to follow up on a number of leads, including the aftermath of the Firewall raid on New Dazhai. They may well return with data I can’t get through my usual Martian sources. Thus do the calculations shift, continuing to edge in favor of continued trust and cooperation with them. I’ve almost finished repatriating those millions of egos in my care to communities throughout transhuman space. Once it’s just me and the million or so stragglers who don’t want to leave, the calculus may shift once more and more intrusive experimentation can take place. I’ll have to consider appropriate safeguards.

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ardhanari

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