Eclipse Phase - Apocalypse

Phobos and Thought

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Update to the Board of Directors – Cognite
Maria Okawa, Vice President of Internal Affairs

Directors,

This memo is pursuant to Cognite Board Resolution 113-7. The sudden behavioral shift in Dr. Ilya Fero has caused concerns in many circles, but the company has been slow to react in light of Dr. Fero’s consistently high standards of intellectual and fiduciary rigor. Significant company resources were summarily redirected in her role as Director of Research and Development disrupting multiple projects across a number of departments and disciplines. She appropriated the entire ultra-violet security labs of our Wauxhall Institute headquarters for her own personal use, removing all other staff save AI support. Simultaneously, her fork sleeved in our top-security research station, Thought, in orbit around Venus, transferred two thirds of the station staff to redundant positions on Gerlach and elsewhere, and put the remaining personnel on a communication blackout.

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Summary tactics like these are not usually Dr. Fero’s style. She has hitherto been quite scrupulous about keeping company officers and the Board apprised of the resource needs of her department, and in the interest of efficiency she has been granted significant leeway to shift company assets as she requires. These particular acts caused an understandable concern that something has happened to cause Dr. Fero to become a risk if not to company security, at least to our bottom line.

I was in the midst of an action-plan to handle the Wauxhall situation when internal security brought a group of outside security contractors into my office. Their IDs checked out as employees of Eng-Dilworth, one of our neighbors here on Phobos. They claimed that they had been hired by Dr. Fero to handle a security situation in our ultra-violet clearance labs. Their work order seemed genuine, it was just the absurdity of their claim that caused Lt. Ackerman to direct them to me. The Lt. was well aware that the company would never approve a single outside contractor to enter that deeply into our facility, let alone a half-dozen of them, including an infomorph riding in a ghostrider. The whole group practically screamed “industrial espionage covert-action squad.”

I was presented with an engram-appositional self-extracting archive module. The very fact that they possessed it confirmed that their claims of working with Dr. Fero were likely legitimate, as neural-mapping-equivalent encryption and compression isn’t even close to being on the market yet. When I extracted the data, it was a message from an alpha fork of Dr. Fero on Venus. It would appear that the shutdown and termination of Project PsiClone on Thought came too late. Subject Zero managed to belatedly infect Dr. Fero, and apparently all other iterations of her ego, with that peculiar strain of the exsurgent virus they were studying there. The Venusian fork was working with clandestine assets on a way to cure herself but due to the unique propagation and infection vectors required all other copies of herself to be terminated.

The information matched my own circumstantial evidence, and the origin of the message was not in doubt. I deployed Gestalt to accompany Dr. Fero-delta’s operatives to confront Dr. Fero-alpha. They entered the ultra-violet labs and after a relatively short period of time emerged once more. Gestalt reported that Dr. Fero-alpha was engaged in obsessive research on a cure. The operatives appeared to have the capacity to suppress the virus’s hold over here enough for rational conversation. This capacity, more than any particular persuasive powers on their part, convinced her that permitting them to kill her was her best chance at being cured. She submitted with minimal conflict, although she did activate the purification protocols on the lab, presumably to destroy any potential infectious material, including her corpse.

This operation coincided closely in time with another operation, again by unknown clandestine parties, against the orbital station of Thought. Assets on Gerlach noted seventeen orbital shuttle-craft taking up positions at various distances around the station. Nothing appeared to happen aside from shuttle-to-station communication, but eventually the shuttles took up a spherical position around the station without coming under fire from the station’s guns. About twenty minutes later, all systems on the station powered down and the shuttles departed. The station did not respond to communication attempts. I authorized a first-in team from our Gerlach assets and they reported a station on minimal emergency power, with no active systems and no sleeved station-mind. We’re still analyzing the data on the scientific systems, but it appears that most of the station’s processing power had been slaved to the station-mind. It appears Dr. Fero-beta was bootstrapping herself to ASI status, but is now dead. There wasn’t even fragmentary data on the systems. It was uncanny how thorough her ego was effaced.

Dr. Fero-delta has reported in. She claims that Dr. Fero-beta had bootstrapped herself in the interest of developing a cure, and her desperation led to time-frame dilation. Dr. Fero-beta released a hundred subjective years of high-order research that we should be exceedingly cautious of exploring. She was teetering on the edge of TITAN status. Dr. Fero-delta further reports that there is one more extant copy on the Nine-Lives headquarters of Legba. She indicates that her covert assets will be making a strike there soon, and that she hopes to have news on her cure in a couple of months.

My recommendation to the Board is as follows:

Dr. Ilya Fero should be suspended as Vice-President and Director of R&D for an indefinite duration, with all attendant losses of access and privilege.

In light of her past service (not to mention the percentage of the company that she owns outright) this decision can be reviewed quarterly until such a time as Dr. Fero can prove that she is free of exsurgent virus alteration to her physical and cognitive abilities.

Okawa

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