Eclipse Phase - Apocalypse

Intersection of Powers

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Personal Log: Keitaro Chavez Entry: 11014

The various Firewall sentinels and proxies aboard the Gulag Archipelago have been applying their cognitive and speculative powers to this problem of the Vittrad-infected Dr. Ilya Fero. Clowder in particular seems to worry that the one sleeved on the station Thought might bootstrap herself to ASI status and, effectively, become another TITAN. Recent updates to the Eye out of Venus coincided with a visit to our fleet from Das Frettchen, who brought with him a copy of Marja DeWinter.

It would seem the Vittrad problem is rather greater than feared. Other data confirms what Vilya suspected, that the asteroid port of Legba in the Main Belt has not only become overrun by the Vittrad infected, but that they have intentionally sacrificed individuals among them so as to propagate the virus among the millions of enslaved egos working the server farms. Reports from various criminal ports of call reveal egocasting from Legba. We can presume they’re spreading their Vittrad-touched pawns throughout the solar system.

Firewall has mobilized on a massive scale to attempt to quarantine Legba, but space is big, and it’s hard to convince criminals who run darkcaster facilities to refuse entry to fellow criminals. I took the liberty of informing Melvin that he shouldn’t receive any egos from that sector of space.

Das Frettchen relayed to all of us the current, tentative plan. It would seem that a third copy of Dr. Fero is in league with Firewall agents on Venus and seeking to discover a cure for her condition. Part and parcel of this cure will involve the destruction of her two other selves on Phobos and Thought. The Venus server has better contacts and experience with Thought, and (so it turns out) we are far better equipped to invade Phobos. Between Das Frettchen’s corporate contacts, Krzystof Singh’s network of AGI-freedom fighters, and Pandora’s own terrorist network which I have been covertly funding and encouraging, we can make a viable effort of assassinating the Director of Research and Executive Vice President of Cognite inside their own headquarters. These will be practice runs to develop methodologies for containment of Legba.

There were, of course, a good many details to iron out, not least of which was how to neutralize Fero’s Vittrad-abilities, and prevent the potential of her spreading to any puppets she may have created. I considered the risk of the latter to be negligible, as evidence thus far seems to indicate that all extant copies of the Vittrad master need to be extinguished before the virus propagates through the system, and we knew of at least one copy who would stay active during these events, but I didn’t wish to quash the scientific spirit of inquiry that gripped my fellows.

This prompted a series of simulspace experiments with forks of Vilya and Marja, seeking to ascertain the limits and capabilities of of the Cerulean Signal on the Vittrad strain. Sadly, as Vilya has never created a puppet through ritual ego-consumption, our efforts to find a way to sever that connection were stymied. When Clowder expands herself to 40 cats from her usual 20, however, her intuitive processes increase dramatically. I found it fascinating to watch the geometric increase in code complexity running on my simulspace. It appears she was designed for associative thinking rather than strict logic, a design feat that is very difficult for even the best AGI-designer to accomplish. My compliments to Dr. Witherspoon.

But I digress. Clowder came to the idea that we should locate a Vittrad-infected who HAD performed such a feat, along with the victim, and import them. Clowder contacted Morgana Taft-Crowley, who we already knew had taken an interest in utilizing her wealth and influence to track Karl’s victims. Sure enough, within four hours of being convinced that we were engaged in science to discover a cure for her daughter’s affliction, the Taft-Crowley matriarch shipped us two egos: Stieg Hanssen, a rural terraforming tech, and a sufi nomad named Usman. According to the dossiers that accompanied the egos, Hanssen was one of Karl’s earliest victims, and one who immediately began reveling in his infection once it took root. Usman was one of his victims, consumed to give him a spy and servant among the nomadic sufi. Echo searched for more intelligence on both of them and succeeded in discovering that Hanssen is very skilled and staying anonymously rural, attracting no attention to himself while Usman, for all the anonymity being a sufi brings, had one incident of seeming incompetence with a terraforming station that bespoke a sudden mental schism.

We spun up Usman. I gave him a nice Martian surrounding to make him feel at home. He immediately fell to prayer to tune out whatever strangeness was happening to him. Everyone tried to convince him that we were there to help, but they only seemed to push him further into his desire to have nothing to do with us. Finally, however, Kiril got through to him with an appeal to charity and community, a need to help us cure him so that we might cure others.

Usman spoke of the power that gripped his mind as a “demon” (although he did recognize that it was also a man) and in our interview confirmed the fact that he was occasionally “possessed” by Hanssen. We told him we would seek to free him of this burden.

The parameters of the experiment were as follows: fork as many copies of Marja as necessary to suppress and control Hanssen, see if she could discover how best to block any propagation to Usman, then kill Hanssen. If the experiment failed and Usman became infected with Vittrad, we could readily destroy him by having multiple Marja’s using the Cerulean Signal.

Fortunately for Usman (and, ultimately, for all of us) the experiment was a success. Certainly, there were some unanticipated complications as Hanssen almost immediately seized unnatural control of the simulspace and started cracking open spines to get at cortical stacks… he even shredded five of Clowder’s cats and nearly ate their still spinning cyberbrains. Kiril and Echo both sought to stop him physically. If not for his penchant for monologuing, our five Marja’s might not have managed to shut him down before he ate someone. No lasting harm was done, however.

The Marja’s suppressed him while Vilya utilized her own connection to Vittrad to help them isolate the tenuous thread binding him to Usman. Once they felt they had it locked down, the Marja’s liquified Hanssen. Usman did not contract Vittrad.

This meant one of two things. Either we had succeeded, or there was another copy of Hanssen out there somewhere. We thought the latter unlikely considering the culture and economy of Martian outback homesteaders, but further experimentation was warranted. We sleeved Usman to see if anything would happen. Nothing did. We put Usman back into the simulspace and re-loaded Hanssen from storage. This time, Marja was quicker to shut him down. Vilya reported no indication that any link remained. Marja then liquified Hanssen again, this time without taking any precaution to protect Usman. Usman continued to be proof against Vittrad. The experiment was complete.

Our current standing hypothesis is this: Although Vittrad displays incredible resilience in propagation across all running copies of an ego, once all running instances are shut down, any persistent links are severed. Thus far, no other Vittrad sufferer has achieved Karl’s ability of uploading himself into the signal itself. If all outstanding copies of an ego are shut down or destroyed WHILE suppressed in the proper way by the Cerulean Signal to prevent propagation through the system, the Vittrad-puppets are freed.

This also suggests an easy way for Dr. Fero to cure herself. She could simply kill all currently operating copies of herself and have herself restored from backup from a backup pre-dating Karl’s demise. This would necessitate the loss of some months of memory, but that is surely not too big a loss for her to bear. But since curing her is not MY operative goal, and killing her as part of a Firewall operation to scale up our use of the Cerulean Signal is, I feel no great compunction to mention it.

As long as we had Marja here, India wanted to know what the Cerulean Signal could tell us about whatever strange crystalline infection she possesses. Results were inconclusive, although our current hypothesis is this: the crystalline intelligence uses the Giza black boxes as bait. The boxes lure in sapients of whatever civilization finds them and, through the boxes, open themselves to “resonance” with the crystalline intelligence. Once the crystalline intelligence resonates with a person, it slowly colonizes that person until they begin to crystallize themselves, becoming absorbed into the overall pan-galactic sentience. Marja had no good advice other than: “when your conversion gets to the point where you don’t recognize yourself anymore, kill yourself and restore from backup. Maybe leave yourself a note? Some XP?”

Our server is now engaged in tactical planning for an infiltration / assault on Phobos. It appears that the copy of Dr. Fero there is engaged in obsessive research on a “side project” in an isolated, system-gapped laboratory space. I’ll leave them to their planning. I’ll need to inform Dr. Eng that his basilisk hack is unlikely to work, considering his target’s neurology has changed radically from the template for which it was designed. Since we’re off to kill her anyway, I hope he’s not too disappointed.

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