Eclipse Phase - Apocalypse



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Das Frettchen: I must, grudgingly, admit that your sentinel team is not as dangerously reckless as their recent reports might suggest. This isn’t to say I am pleased with your continued refusal to take appropriate action vis a vis Astraeus, but I can view their behavior in reaction to the Cerulean Signal, or the assassination of Karl VanDeLaarSchot is a somewhat more positive light having seen them in action.

Eagle: I… think that’s the closest thing to an apology I’ve ever seen come from you.

Das Frettchen: Well, I so seldom have good reason to apologize. They arrived at the Taft-Crowley estates, as expected, and I opted to simply watch, leaving Morgana Taft-Crowley to take the lead on revealing to your team the Vittrad outbreak on Mars, although she didn’t know enough to call it that. Your sentinels were clever enough to rapidly figure out what was going on, and proceeded to investigate the daughter, Lorelei, according to reasonable protocols. They weren’t as careful as they probably should have been in containing a possibly contagious exsurgent vector, but their inquiries were within acceptable parameters for such an investigation.

Eagle: Hold on, Vittrad outbreak? So… these reports of a spike in copycat flayings in the wake of Karl’s demise aren’t just a response to that event, but rather a full-fledged exsurgent outbreak?

Das Frettchen: Exactly. I have resources in place for a rather… extreme response, but initial reports from authorities on the ground would seem to indicate that the strain isn’t biologically contagious. It appears to transmit itself virtually, both via virtual systems and via whatever… psychic network Karl was once in control of. With him gone, many if not all of those victims he previously used as his puppets have become infected. Most of them are managing to control their impulse to kill, or aren’t getting caught. Lorelei proved a suitable case study.

Eagle: I see. I’m not sure Aeryn can be objective when it comes to his sister…

Das Frettchen: He can’t. But that didn’t stop him from pursuing the matter with due caution. He and his team confirmed her infection, or at least her desire to flay others, as well as her capacity to connect mentally with other Vittrad-infected to some degree. Using a virtuality and ready forks of Lorelei, they confirmed that the strength of an individual infected’s mental signal increases with proximity to other infected. The part that surprised me most was Aeryn’s willingness to completely delete the fork of his sister once she realized that she could, conceivably, replace Karl at the heart of whatever strange Vittrad network she’s a part of with enough virtual forking. They woke her up in her morph none the wiser.

Eagle: So… any one of Karl’s former victims could theoretically replace him if they think to replicate themselves enough?

Das Frettchen: It’s unconfirmed, but a definite possibility. Aeryn and his companions collaborated with Lorelei and myself to create a social network of those infected, ostensibly to provide advice and psychosurgical treatment for their flaying impulses, but also to permit us easier monitoring and access. They also confirmed that sleeving Lorelei into a synthmorph removed her murderous impulses while leaving other aspects of the infection intact. She plans to use this social network, in connection with her existing charitable foundation, to provide synthmorphs to her fellow infected.

Eagle: So. In their current distributed state, they’re inconvenient to slaughter wholesale, but with enough monitoring through their own desire not to kill others, they make themselves more vulnerable to your preferred solution?

Das Frettchen: Precisely. I can practically hear the moral outrage from here, but you know me well enough to realize I am unmoved. Even if you haven’t doomed us all with your collaboration with Astraeus, I still need to deal with threats such as a Vittrad outbreak on Mars.

Eagle: I’m not going to rehash the Astraeus argument. Other proxies were a part of this decision, not just me.

Das Frettchen: Don’t think I haven’t notice who they were… Promethean-loving mavericks and “pragmatists” all.

Eagle: You know as well as I do that without our… “friend” … this secure medium of communication wouldn’t be possible. The potential benefits of adding another one to our ranks were too great to pass up.

Das Frettchen: Still too willing to trust, and too blind to danger. When all of her moles seeded throughout our civilization activate, I’ll wonder what your justification will be.

Eagle: Enough. We’re beating a dead horse. What about the other matter?

Das Frettchen: The trip to Tirion? I gave them their covers. They are Cognite scientists, negotiators, and security. They are selling a unique uplift specimen in exchange for research data. Cognite provided it with a tacit understanding that they might benefit from any recovered data, but with contingencies in place to provide deniability should the team fail and draw SIBA’s ire. What they do once they’re through the Martian Gate I have no say over.

Eagle: I’m sure. And I’m sure you don’t have a team standing by capable of traversing the gate and leveling everything on the other side either.

Das Frettchen: Of course I do. But, seeing as how your team hasn’t fucked up unforgivably yet, I see no reason to send my team in before yours have had a chance to accomplish whatever they seek to accomplish. And it’s not like I kept my team a secret from them. I’ll have a fork of Argo with me for instantaneous communication at need.

Eagle: … We’ll make a pragmatist out of you yet.

Das Frettchen: Enjoy that smug satisfaction while you can. Your team is currently engaged in various preparations for their trip, and planning the details. I’ll fill you in as the situation develops. For now, however, I have to help co-ordinate another strike by a different team on an actual threat. I’m still not convinced SIBA is worth the resources we’re expending here.

Eagle: They were going to go there anyway, the least we can do is help them a bit. Even if the X-Risk danger is overblown, SIBA’s research is still immoral and should be curtailed.

Das Frettchen: Ah, yes. Immoral. I’m so pleased that you stake the future of our species on an archaic code of behavior informed by bronze-age fairy tales. Isn’t it the formal position of your church that uplifts don’t have souls?

Eagle: I don’t agree with the Pope on everything.

Das Frettchen: I guess there’s hope for you yet.

Eagle: Fuck you.

Das Frettchen: Language, Father. Until later.

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