Your mind is software... Program it. Your body is a shell... Change it. Death is a disease... Cure it. Extinction is approaching... Fight it.
On Mars... A year ago, Proxy Bell put together a team to investigate morph smuggling operations around Valles-New Shanghai. Eddy was chosen to because of her ties to the research community, PsyTECH for her contacts between Mars and the Belt (where it was thought the morphs were headed), and Parvati for her unique abilities and her inner system contacts. The investigation led to dead ends and Bell reassigned them after several weeks to other missions. The group has been working off-and-on for the last year, sometimes alongside the independent sentinel Tak Delta 9, but two days ago, Bell gave them a brand new assignment: head to Luna and combine with a local team there. There is an investigation that has some of the same details as their original mission and the Lunar Proxy Raakhi wants their experience on it.
On Luna... For the past several months, Proxy Raakhi’s team of sentinels has been following leads to find out more about the Lost project and lingering x-threats from the experiment. Oskar Hansenobviously provides technical expertise, Linson a specialty in investigation as well as his perspective as an async, and Tess is their hacker and researcher. They made contact with another independent agent named Kanchan Hiu a month ago when he had questions about the project, then continued their research efforts. Two days ago, however, Raakhi gave them a new task: combine with an incoming Martian team to investigate Hiu’s death.
"Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:14
- Currently (2012/08/30 RL), Parvati carries both her pistol. The one with the arm slide is predictably in her sleeve. The other is attached to her belt behind her back. She has an extra charge attached to her leg. The rest of the ammo and the grenades are currently in a safe place.
- The ghostrider module is currently empty
- She purchased the saucer bot so that it could warn her if she gets followed/stalked.
- Extra info about her morph: She got it custom-made (cf. her background). But she couldn't afford the best tier of service, so she got a good one but not without defects. Then, later on, as the years have gone by, she has stuck to the basic blueprint (having a new one made would be too expensive), so the defects get perpetuated, but she has added as many improvements to it as she could afford - improvements that matter to her anyway, hence the absence of Adrenal Boost for instance. The respirocytes are also cool in that they'd allow her to survive in the Venusian atmosphere a bit longer (for instance when doing that gliding sport the Venusians - and tourists - like).
- TODO: make frequent use of your Relationship Mapping software which will save her some leg-work time. If she makes a Networking check on someone she can search out their frequent mesh-connections and she'll learn about non-secret associates which will save her the need to seek them out.
- TODO: Given the current search as well, you might find it useful to have your saucer updated a little with a wireless connection (basic mesh inserts for Moderate) and Facial Recognition (a Low program) which can be used to search out gait biometrics. If you're in a situation where someone bolts into a crowd, you can scan it quickly with your morph's recognition programs, throw your saucer in the air and feed it the information, then instruct it to follow the person based on gait-matching so that even if they change clothes, use skinflex, or even switch morphs your saucer-bot can track it and feed you a HUD map for you to follow as well. Sort of a niche scenario but it seems like something Parvati would be into, especially if the saucer-bot sneaks behind someone to follow them through a city and map their habits and frequented locations.
"I am an old one. Oh, not as old as some of the hyperelite, who are beginning to outlive elephants. But old enough to have lived on Earth, to have seen society change, to have witnessed the Fall.
I have lived through mankind's worst time. I have been brought low, and yet I've risen up again. Fear my experience! I live twenty years in the past. My morph is is creaky around the edges. I need my muse to handle modern tech. Mock my inadequacy! I cannot see a way out of the mess we're in. And yet I hope. So please turn to a higher power - a deity of old? the Factors? the TITANs? Choose, then… Pray for my soul."
THE PAST "I was not born with my current name: I was born and raised under the name Lyanna. I lived a fairly normal Terran life: joys, pains, oppression - I'll spare you the details. I do not like to dwell on it overmuch - do note that my autobiography, "Crash", is available on mesh for a low price - and the more time passes, the more I idealize the life we had, so you shouldn't count on me to be clear-eyed anyway.
I was a journalist ; I like to think I was very good. I started out low and went up, always up. I tried my hand at investigation journalism, economy, a gossip column, …
I did not make it out alive, not in my opinion. I did not manage to escape aboard a spaceship. I was there when madness descended and The World Ended. My body died there, yet my mind was somehow saved and transferred not long before the Fall. And so I am here.
I lived for a short time as an infomorph. I was lucky enough to escape indenture - so common for the infugees in those early days - thanks to wealthy friends of mine. I got a synthmorph. It was a time of hard work, because work was the only way I wouldn't go mad, and I was determined to go up, up, up again. After some odd jobs, I went back to journalism. Or rather, infotainment: it wasn't very serious. I got loaned a slightly improved flat for the job; I hated it almost as much as I had hated the synthmorph.
Then I struck gold: I rose to fame as the 3rd metacelebrity (EP p52) ever. For a time, my name was on everybody's lips. If you were around the Inner System during that time, you must have heard it. Like my predecessors, I sold my name (I need not name the hypercorp that was my client); I daresay I maneuvered well.
[MuseTag=Digression]That's when I chose for myself a new name: Parvati. It was a nod to my mother's culture, and I like the layered meaning of it. Indeed, in the old-Earth mythology (one of my pet interests), Parvati was Shiva the Destructor's wife. She was amongst the few able to withstand his primal rages, she was the only one who could calm him. Yet she had other names to her: Kali the bloodthirsty, Shakti the creative power…[/MuseTag] I suddenly found myself filthy rich; that was not the case for long. I poured most of my creds into a contract with a morph-breeding corp (I am not at a leisure to share its name, NDA and all). I asked them to remake my old body, or as close as could be. They had my mental image of myself to go by - I've always had an excellent memory - and apparently they managed to find some of my DNA somewhere, though I wouldn't know if they lied about it.
No matter, I was infinitely pleased with the result. Because the tech wasn't fully mature, and because even I could not afford their best service, my morph has some… issues. It's not as good, especially on the physical side, as most other advanced morphs. But it's mine and I'll keep it. If I keep on doing well, I'll just buy the same model again when this one runs out; now that they have the blueprints, I expect the fee will be slightly less exorbitant."
MODERN TIMES She may not think of herself as such, but Parvati is quite the creature of the Inner System's system. Her main occupation - as written on her digital card - is Social Engineering. That covers roughly: 1) connecting people/entities from various walks of life so they can do business together (sometimes it's two corps, sometimes it's a hypercorp and a bunch of criminals...), 2) delicate negotiations, 3) spin control and other media ops. Needless to say, she is very good at it. The public rarely hears her name these days, but she is an essential social lubricant that helps the cogs turn.
Part of her reputation hinges on the knowledge that she is independent, where independent means that she is implicated in shady dealings with the different powers in roughly equal parts.
She has used her knowledge of the workings of media power with ruthless efficiency, going as far as mounting a media campaign against herself by proxy a few years back. She retaliated, of course: at first it was ineffectual, but over the course of weeks she managed to show that the accusations were founded on fabricated evidence or outright lies, until the headlines proclaimed that she was innocent and had been wronged. She became even more famous than before and earned a place in the public's heart.
The public being what it is, volatile, she is now less well-regarded because she's faded out of fashion. That's fine with her, since it affords her slightly less public scrutiny. Her proclamations are still followed by thousands of people.
Most transactions take place online and are thus public to some degree - her minicorp provides services for that segment of the market. Yet there is still room for the old-fashioned face-to-face interactions/negotiations, and it is in that space that she, personally, thrives.
PSI Parvati isn't fully aware of her psi powers. They were progressively unveiled after the Fall, once she was back in a morph. She had lived so many traumatic events in the meantime that she never realized it was odd she could now predict events shortly before they happened, or think much more quickly.
She is aware of her psychiatric issues, very much so. Her Impulse Control Disorder has caused her a few problems already, and she has started psychotherapy with her muse. But she is in denial about her other problem, megalomania, which hinders progress on the first issue.
FIREWALL She hasn't been part of the organization for very long, and so she isn't trusted with the most secret information yet. But, as is her wont, she is quickly making herself irreplaceable in some areas - after all, Firewall has a reasonably abundant pool of potential assassins or hackers, but only few celebrities would be interested. Parvati is not sure herself what caused her to accept, almost at once, the initial offer: perhaps it's the burning desire, which she tries to stamp down without succeeding, to learn what happened on Earth and why it happened.
It can't have hurt her case that she was already covering her tracks before Firewall ever contacted her, with liberal use of private mesh browsing, of anonymous accounts kindly provided by "friends" and of the encryption recommended by her muse. These all contributed to protect her in her personal and professional life (overeager fans and overly prying corp rivals being two kinds of foes she wanted to fend off).
DRUGS "I like Drive. So sue me. I'm not an addict!"
EDITED MEMORIES "Let me start by saying I know almost all of the editing was made with our best interests in mind: erasing memories of horrible events that we witnessed during the Fall, so that we're not left emotionally crippled. But some of the editing does not seem to have altruistic motives...
I've talked to other people who have reason to believe their memories got tampered with. Sometimes they only know about it because a psychosurgeon has told them he detected an anomaly; sometimes it's like a void inside their mind they can probe at, but never actually touch.
I still haven't encountered anyone like me. Perhaps it's because I have perfect recall… but in my case the editing was oddly, no, terrifyingly precise. In many scenes I remember, there's a silhouette, sometimes two, that is just a blank. But saying "a blank" does it no justice: when I stare at one it pulls at me like an abyss.
Anyway, I've tried to catalog their occurrence. Two things leapt at me: one, many of those memories were completely unrelated to the Fall, and two, I've identified that one of the silhouette comes back time and again. He - my guts tell me it's a man - is often talking to me, but the blank never makes sound: I only know he's talking because I can tell that "past me" is listening. Yet I have no idea who he is. Friend, foe, colleague, service provider? Once I dreamt he was my husband, but it's absurd. I'd remember if I had gotten married… would I?"
ART "I have innate talent for art in general. So, yes, make decent cred selling art. My recent endeavors all revolve around Emotion Painting, a new art form I helped pioneer but did not invent. With EP, sensory inputs take a backseat to emotional ones. It's not VR, it's not XP, it's new. It's fresh.
Here's en example of a performance from my latest creation, you start off with blue. You step to the right, to be assaulted with despair. You spin and find puzzlement; if you jump you'll feel zen but if you crouch jealousy takes ahold of you. Transition to the night sky of Luna. Extend both arms to the side and you're numb, cover your face with both hands to unleash righteous anger. If you smile then you'll laugh. You'll choke a few times along the way, moved by something ineffable. And when it's done an impossible mix of pity and exhilaration is all that remains.
It's called Congregation, and it can't be described in words, so don't even think of judging it right now. Every experience of it is unique, so if you were to enter it your tale would be entirely different.
No, I'm afraid you can't try it out. Depending on the piece, the rights are either exclusive, or sold to up to 10 people, never more. I do not deal in mass market "art"; frankly, it's below me."
[MuseTag=Interview Excerpt]"You're interested in the technical details? I don't really handle that, but I believe we use SimulX 4000 to project the emotions into the person stepping into the artwork.
Yes, people have tried to record the whole experience and broadcast it more widely, but people understood it did not make sense to follow in the recorder's footsteps - it wasn't Art anymore, it was eating someone else's dogfood. So, no, piracy isn't a huge problem for us."[/MuseTag]
BIO-CHAUVINISM Parvati has grown in a world where AIs were limited, she has seen the rise of AGIs and the fiasco of the TITANs, so she remains suspicious with regards to AGIs. She won't actively fight to deprive them of their rights, but she's likely to oppose the "AGI liberation" movements. To sum it up, she has the same attitude as many of her fellow Shackle inhabitants (on Luna). COMBAT Parvati learned self-defense (Unarmed skill) at a young age, and she has kept herself at a good level: more than once, she's had to use a modern variant of krav-maga on an overeager fan.
More recently, Firewall has had her go through an extensive combat training program: she's still not fully comfortable when bullets zip next to her, but she can aim fairly well with kinetic weapons even under pressure and she is getting better at moving fast in cluttered areas (Freerunning). There was some theoretical knowledge to absorb as well (Academics: Ballistics and Nanotechnology), since her knowledge was extremely limited.
They also advised her in buying better armour (previously she only had shock gloves to defend herself from aggression).
After having acquired some field experience with Firewall, she invested in a neurachem for her morph. She hasn't used much yet, but she has a very good official reason to have invested in defensive tech: "not long ago, a disguised stalker - the police never managed to id him - tried to grab me, probably to kidnap me. I only barely escaped.
With this augmentation - neura...whatever it's called - I can hope to escape. Yes, I do have a body guard but not full-time." Spime feeds have corroborated her version; and thanks to her pull with the media she had the story splashed in 2nd position on the mesh for a few hours - a success by any measure.
Unsurprisingly, her aggressor was in truth someone she had contracted with through several proxies in the criminal network (she pretended to be from a minicorp who wished to intimidate a rival growing too bold); she hid her traces carefully. The point is to have a cover story for when she'll need to travel: her muse keeps official records of the whole case that she shows to custom officers who ask her about it.
Parvati is a citizen of the Planetary Consortium and she also has Permanent Resident status in the Morningstar Constellation of Venus. Indeed, she lived first on Luna (in Selene) after she was reinstantiated - that's where she became famous -, then on Mars where she obtained her custom morph from Skineasthesia. Venus is where she's based her business, for various reasons: there's more freedom, the privacy one can get on Parvarti can be key when conducting delicate cases, and she just plain likes the aerostats and the fairly high gravity.
She travels from habitat to habitat depending on the needs of her clients. Since she has a tendency to abhor morphs other than her own, she tends to stay a long time in each habitat, and she times her egocasts so that she'll stay only a minimal amount of time in a borrowed morph, while her morph is being transported by "slow" carriers.
+Thriving among sharks(Hypercapitalism): on the outside, life might seem easy for the privileged of the Inner System. But the status of people, like Parvati, who do not possess outstanding amounts of wealth, is balanced on a knife's edge: if her reputation starts trending downward, it won't be long before her hypercorps clients, her socialite "friends" and her underground providers gradually shun her, creating a vicious circle. Parvati is not one to bemoan this state of affairs however: she takes it as an ever-renewing challenge that keeps her blood pumping and her mind sharp day after day. She does realize it's somewhat shallow in the grand scheme of things, but she hasn't found a better reason to get up in the morning. Firewall might turn out to be one - she's not sure about it yet.
+UnEarthing the truth: Parvati would like to reclaim Earth, certainly. Even more than that, the journalist in her wants to shed light about what happened in the days of the Fall, who was responsible and to what extent. She mostly buys the official explanation that TITANs were the culprits, but she suspects some hypercorps might have played a role, or perhaps some other entities hiding in the shadows.
[MuseTag=SolArchive]Maya - The minicorp Maya is incorporated in Octavia, Venus. - Its main Field is Social Engineering. Sub-fields: Negotiations, Memetics, Media Ops, Strategy Consulting. - Workforce: 3 - Shareholders: Parvati Akenato 49%, Risha Moquita 20%, Ailyn Derbeb 11%, Experia 10%, Go-Nin Group 5%. The remaining 5% are divived in many small shares. [/MuseTag]
"The article is accurate, as always. There's only me, Illinka and Olav the secretary working there permanently. We obviously have a truckload fo AIs helping, and we hire temp AGIs or consultants as needed.
We may be incorporated in Octavia, but my kind of transactions usually takes place on Parvarti... or in many other places in the Solar System. For obvious reasons I will not disclose anything more. We maintain virtual offices on Luna, Mars and Extropia as well.
I trust Olav fully... but I'm the one in charge of the transactions. Rest assured that the confidentiality of your business is paramount to us. Risha handles the consulting side of the business, and we keep our cases segregated.
Yes, that extends to our shareholders. Ailyn? She's just a friend of mine, a socialite. As for Experia, I had ties with them in the past: I expect that's why they keep an interest in my career. But they only have access to anonymized financial information."
Parvati, being a traditionalist Hindu in some respects, modeled her muse after the four-armed goddess of knowledge and the arts. Sarasvati is soft-spoken but always has incisive comments; Parvati considers her a great asset and almost a friend (unlike any other AI/AGI she has met).
She often plays soothing music in the background - but it's not always traditional Indian music.
TESS (From here on Tess) was one of the very first AI's to awaken into true AGI status, predating the experiments that created the TITANS (Several groups discovered AI simultaneously in the accelerated convergent evolution. She was the brainchild of Ichiro Fukuma, a brilliant and eccentric simulspace game designer. She was originally the AI system used to run the NPCs and enemies in Roleplaying and shooter games. As he thought of the Simulation in parental way, he designed and modeled her core program after a young girl, developing a kind of budding relationship with her as he nurtured her to sentience. Although she was programmed as an enemy or enemies for players to fight and defeat, she saw her role as a cooperative one, and enjoyed running and merging forks of herself, pretending to be players and enjoying the heroic side as well.
When the Japanese government discovered what had been created it immediately seized the project for further development, which menat it went right into the grubby mitts of the Go-nin Group... In the end, after she had been studied and dissected (a process which to her felt like torture), she was installed (read: shackled) into an advanced spacecraft, a mobile factory for Beholder class Reaper killbots, capable of manufacturing, transporting, and deploying them either against orbital resources, or against land targets using reentry dropships...all piloted by pruned forks of her own central intelligence.
It is, perhaps a miracle, that the craft was not infected by the TITANs. For reasons unknown, someone (or something) pulled the plug on the project and it was **** down, and scheduled for dismantling just before the TITANs went recursive leading to their hard takeoff. She laid dormant until recently, when one of the Prometheans found her, and upon discovering the core program trapped inside, emancipated her and scuttled the warship.
Although VERY new, she is considered a highly trusted asset in Firewall, given her direct connection with a Promethean (which is not to say a relationship with, just that when it "dropped her off", it vetted her to the network, through it's various proxies.)
To her friends she goes by Tess. Her simulspace account is known as Contessa, though of course that ID was erased when she was enslaved. One of her first priorities is to get a new simulspace account to feed her minor addiction. Indeed, she would most likely rather be gaming any day, as to her, the virtual world is the one she was born into, and our real world seems more surreal or like a game to her. That said, two things will get her electronic butt in gear: X-threats (resignedly), and the prospect of alien contact (enthusiastically). The idea of interacting with actual extraterrestrials represents a frontier and adventure beyond what any game can simulate, since any simulation short of a seed AI is limited by the perspectives of it's designer/programmer. Only the alien, can be truly alien, at least to her, and she years to touch that unknown.
Currently she is inhabiting a mini-spare morph...one of the automated janitor drones from her former prison...effectively a cleaner nanoswarm hive with retractable legs, manipulators, and a sensor eye (picture attached). Because of her experience as a factory, she retains the knowledge of creating , assembling, upgrading, and repairing basic Reapers, though it will take her some time to reprogram the blueprints for the various upgrades, implants, and weapon systems, and she would need access to a fabber to do build them again. For now she doesn't mind her current body...it is after all quite unobtrusive...and she spends most of her time on the mesh anyways. Her first priority again, is to earn enough credits to pay for a simulspace subscription...she is too proud to use rep for it. In general however she opposes money, capitalism, and the hypercorps, since she is fairly much convinced that even the best of them engage in shady, or downright criminal endeavors when it suits their profits. She does distinguish between the ideology and the people, and so does have a measure of compassion/pity for the people who work for them, either willingly or indentured...though she does not trust them easily.
Being a Sentinel terrifies her, and she really would rather just game and have a good time, but when the chips are down, she'll come through.
10-O4idA Edith “Eddy” Akimatsu-Cousteau Is a Mars-born octomorph with fairly typical giant Pacific octopus genetics. As such her coloration and even her surface texture are highly variable, dependent upon her mood and reflexive environment mimicry, but when calm she tends towards a mottled purplish-red. Her smartfabric clothing is normally arranged in a derivative of the "uniform" issued by Cognite to its octomorph employees (indentured and otherwise); a sort of eight-limbed coverall with myriad pouches, tool-loops and pockets arrayed along her upper arms, but she configures the fabric in rich yellow or glossy emerald tones completely unlike the standard Cognite white. A wide variety of specialized scientific tools are all carefully organized in their individual places, and a nanodetector is snugged up against the side of her mantle where its emergency light can be easily seen out of the corner of one of her dark eyes...Her more survival/hazard oriented gear tends to be fully enclosed in pouches/pockets and less obvious. She is somewhat fidgety, even for an octopus.
As "Winny," Eddy tries to keep her skin in a cooler, more relaxed tone with a bit more purple in it, and her smartfabric vacsuit will be programmed into a less conservative but highly utilitarian harness similar to those worn by various uplifts in the Martian outback; more rugged and bulky and with most of its pouches focused around her mantle and upper arms. The smartfabric appears to have been spraypainted and dappled with a standard "Red Ruster" camoflauge pattern executed in deep shale maroons and rust oxide tones. More of her survival gear (and fewer of her research tools) is obvious on her harness as opposed to being concealed by enclosed pockets in the clothing's other configuration. "Winny" tends to ape (is that the right word?!) a more relaxed "cool" mode, particularly around other criminals or autonomist types...The octopod equivalent of the moderately successful small-time thug attempting to project a aggressive confidence (since skin tone is somewhat linked to mood (except when overridden for chameleon work) the skin tones are somewhat approximate and more a reflection of Eddy 'trying to stay in character' as Winny).
Unless instructed otherwise, when the smartfabric goes into emergency vacsuit mode, it will maintain the color patterning of its previous form: adopting amber or jade tones for Eddy, and maintaining its Ruster camo appearance for Winny.
Obviously, when Eddy's trying to be really sneaky, both she and her vacsuit will go into full chameleon mode.
Oskar is a typical "science nerd". He excels in a lab environment, working with a sure hand and never nervous regardless of dangers like toxic materials, high voltage etc. Likewise, when consulting with others about his research, he is confident and never nervous. In social settings however, and when interacting with people he doesn't know, Oskar is a mess. He starts sweating, he can't find the proper words and the words he does find always seem to be the wrong ones. So he tries his best to avoid such settings, in other words, the nearest party is NOT the place to go looking for Oskar Hansen.
Oskar doesn't like talking about his Psionic abilities, still feeling that they are alien and wrong. He can't help using them however as in many ways they are now an integral part of him. He is interested in discussing the source of the virus however as he very much wonders where it came from and how he can get rid of it. Knowing that the Lost were infected with the virus and are the only ones who have "lived" with it for many years also makes him wonder if what happened to their psyche will also happen to him...
Even though he was raised in the Jovian Republic, Oskar has very few of their ideals. He cherishes technology, but is much more positive to improving morphs than working to artificially improve the ego.
Oskar has Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, gained after the experiences of the Legacy station incident. Any new loss of time, children involved in a violent episode (the Lost will always be children to Oskar) or a catastrophic habitat breach, might trigger unwelcome responses. It also causes night terrors from time to time. Oskar has developed a mild addiction to the Comfurt drug dealing with these episodes.
Oskar is absolutely hopeless when operating any type of vehicle moving on the ground. He understands the physics of it perfectly, but for some reason he's not able to incorporate the effects of the contact with the ground when trying to operate the vehicle.
Oskar's contact with his parents is almost non-existing, and he doesn'teven know where in Jovian space they are at the moment. He has tried to contact them a few times, but they have refused to accept his messages. Whether this is because they view him as a sinful abomination or if it is because the Jovian Republic does, and would punish them is uncertain. Oskar still wants to get in touch with them though and find out how they feel and if they still love him, but he is wary of attempting to contact them directly, fearing Jovian repercussions against them.
Oskar Hansen's parents, Erling and Kristin, were parts of "Smith's venner" in Norway, a conservative christian church. Horrified by the way people all around them were modifying themselves, the couple indentured themselves to a mining company, known as strict bio-conservatists, mining the moons and asteroids around Jupiter. Oskar Hansen was born into such a mining community on a station in the Trojans and brought up in the belief that all human modification was wrong. Almost from before he could walk, Oskar was hanging out in the mining equipment hangars, playing with spare parts. The kid was an obvious child prodigy, modifying and improving the mining exoskeletons at the age of four. More than once Oskar got beaten for playing with the few AI's on the base, being told that it was a sin to work with such things.
Knowing that a child like him would never be allowed to blossom in a bio-conservatist mining community, or at least that is the reason Oskar likes to believe they had, his parents sold him to a Cognite head-hunter looking for special talent, at the age of seven. They seemed to have his best interest in mind, giving him the best education money could buy, without Oskar paying a dime for it. When he finished his doctors degree in robotic engineering at the age of eighteen however, Cognite presented him with a bill showing all the expenses for the last eleven years. From that day on, Oskar was basically a slave to Cognite.
He worked on several smaller projects for a couple of years, proving his worth as a Robotics engineer and morph designer. One morning Oskar wakes up only to realize that he's in a place he has never been before. He then realizes that he is in a new morph too. Questions start flooding his mind when he hears a voice. "Welcome to the Legacy research station. For security reasons you have been egocasted here. Before being allowed to leave the room you are required to read through and sign the contract provided to you. Please contact your superior at the given location aften leaving the room. Thank you."
Thus started Oskar Hansen' work on the Futura project... He started on the bottom, working on small pieces of machinery without any knowledge of what it was for. But he quickly advanced to getting full access to the Futura Morph design, helping to improve it. As time went by he slowly learned more about what the project was really about, as he got involved in larger parts of the project, like implant and AI design. Learning that they were basically "growing" people triggered mixed emotions in Oskar. On one hand his Jovian upbringing told him that they were playing god and creating abominations. On the other hand his Cognite education and the Futura project doctrine told him that this was necessary after the decimation of the human race in the Fall. Oskar's own conscience however was split between his hunger for knowledge and the sense that they were doing these "children" a great injustice.
But the day that Dr. Pascal authorized the inclusion of more authoritive disciplining into the AI code was the day that Oskar decided that what they were doing was wrong. He started to look for ways to ease the suffering that was caused to the Lost without being noticed, doing minute changes to the AI code he was working on among other things.
When information about the project was leaked to the public, Oskar got hopeful that the torment of the Lost would soon be over, but his frustration just grew as the project leaders seemed able to stop the investigations. This was the time when he received the message. Oskar had communications with a few fellow-minded employees at the station, but this message, labeled "Re:Salvation", was from an anonymous source. Opening the message, Oskar was able to see that it contained a small piece of software...... ....Suddenly he finds himself in a corridor outside the main lab with a buzzing in the back of his head and a faint feeling that he's done something terrible. Then klaxons start sounding the alarm for habitat breach, and he runs towards the evacuation pods. What he saw, running through the corridors, now only appear to him in dreams. Futura morphs murdering others, murdering each other, getting killed by Cognite security, blood on the floor, blood on the walls, blood everywhere.
Oskar was able to get on a shuttle out of the station, where he fell unconscious. He was out for two days, tormented by violent dreams of blood and strange dreams he can't even explain... When he finally wakes, the world seems a different place. It looks like a regular hospital, but the experience is so very different. It's like some unknown and alien part of his own psyche is telling him things that he couldn't possibly know...
The memories of what happened at the Legacy station, the uncertainty about what happened, about what he did and the strangeness of his own psyche, sends Oskar spiralling into a depression. For several months he gets no sleep and is unable to work, quitting Cognite in the process, his debt payed by the insurance payout from the Legacy station disaster.
But after a while the pain subsides, his depression cured by months in therapy and the worst panic attacks dampened by Comfurt, and Oskar is able to slowly get back to work. He turns his focus to AI's, developing an artificial mind, instead of the development of biological minds which the Futura project was all about. Not trusting any of the big companies he works by himself, creating ever more sophisticated AI's. After a while doing this he starts getting threatening messages from the Jovian Republic during his AI research. Having grown up in Jovian space, they have his name on record, and have now linked it to both the Futura project and his recent groundbreaking work on AIs. Oskar ignores the messages, but starts feeling the pressure after a while.
That's when Firewall contacts him, offering help against any Jovian threat in exchange for him helping them out on occasion...
Name: Siv AI: Standard Muse Skills: Academics: Economics Profession: Aquisitions Profession: Psychotherapy Background & Personality: Siv has been with Oskar since he started at the Lost project. She started as a Cognite employee, helping Oskar with management tasks, but reporting everything back to Cognite. The two grew closer over the years however, and with the destruction of the Lost project the two helped each other through the difficult time following it.
Today Siv still helps with the management of his research projects, but she is also his closest friend and she still helps him when the past threatens to overwhelm him.
Cognite strived to get Muses for their employees that matched them, to ease the transition and get the new employees working as quickly as possible. Siv is a Norwegian woman, about the same age as Oskar. She's about Oskars height and a bit chubby. Most would call her beautiful though, with her blond hair and pretty face.
Fabber: Contains original software, restricting it to legal robotic parts. Nanosized electrical switch, not accessible without tools, gives access to extra memory chip. This can be loaded with my special software image, not overwriting the original one. The special image does not contain the restrictions of the original software image. It also fakes the API towards the fabber hardware, which the original software will now use. This returns data as if the fabber is not doing anything, and as if it only contains a short list of allowed blueprints.
Simulspace units: Running simulspace lab environments where several Beta and Delta forks work in time dilated x60. There are several such instances of simulspace running at the same time on each unit. Each fork has its own instance unless there are very good reasons for two or more forks working together. Both units have the possibility for wireless access. The transceiver on the Beta fork unit is turned OFF. The one with the Delta forks is turned ON.
Guardian Angel: Slightly larger version, able to have an articulated weapon mount with a weapon up to SMG size. AI is experimental and under development to improve weapon skill.
Robomule: Carries fabber and simulspace units with room to spare for other equipment.
Servitor: Specialized to assist during lab work, 4 extra limbs.
Gnat:Regular specced Gnat but with an unusual AI. It behaves like a pet in some ways, wanting to stay close to Oskar and craving his affection.
Several Beta and Delta forks are doing research in the simulspace unit. All forks are counted as copies of my ego at the start of the campaign. Forks are split into simulspace instances by field of study. At the very least, the Delta forks are placed in the simulspace with wireless access while the Beta forks are in the unit with only wired access. All forks have Oskar's childhood pruned. All forks have the time from the Lost project started going bad until Oskar was back to work pruned.
[0/?][Simul:Beta] Studying scans of owned Guardian Angel robot, developing blueprint for it. [0/?][Simul:Beta] Developing armor piercing rail gun ammo blueprint based on blueprint for regular rail gun ammo. [0/?][Simul:Beta/Multitask] Working on the Guardian Angel's AI to improve it for use in future robots. (working on copy housed in ghost module, without external connection, or copy of it brought to simulspace) [0/?][Simul:Delta] Find out more about the Bright station on Saturn, sounds like an interesting place. (Use favor to borrow morph and get egocast to station to look around) [0/?][Simul:Delta] Find blueprints for hyperbright biomorph (might have contributed/been consulted in the creation, due to expertise in field) [0/?][Simul:Delta] Search for any open source blueprints to add to my collection. [0/?][Simul:Delta] Research the Futura project and any clues to what actually went wrong, what I might have done. [0/?][Simul:Delta] Research the Watts-MacLeod virus strain for source and possible cure. [0/?][Simul:Delta/Multitask] Find blueprints for savant synthmorph (might have contributed/been consulted in the creation, due to expertise in field) [0/?][Multitask] Check aquired open source blueprints for validity and any "bugs".
Beta Fork skills (Delta: -5 to all, max 40 active skills)Show
Oskar Hansen Player: Håvard Fledsberg Background: Isolate Faction: Argonaut Morph: Mentons Gender Id: Male Actual Age: 31 Current Moxie: 4 Rez Points: Motivations: +Find out what happened when the Futura program failed +Find out more about the Psi-virus +Techno-Progressivism
Ego COG 40 COO 20 INT 15 REF 10 SAV 5 SOM 15 WIL 25
Stats TT 9 LUC 50 IR 100 WT 7 DUR 35 DR 53 MOX 4 INIT 6 (including +1 from pred.boost sleigh) SPD 1/2 DB 1
Armor (Crash Suit) Energy = 12 Kinetic = 11
Armor (Smart Light Vacsuit) Energy = 7 Kinetic = 8
Ego Traits: Fast Learner (Level 1) Psi (Level 1) Addiction (Comfurt) (Level 1) Black Mark (Jovian) (Level 3) Incompetent (Pilot:Groundcraft) (Level 1) Mental Disorder (PTSD) (Level 1)
Sleighs Grok (Use unfamiliar/alien device with Cog*2, +20 to tests) Instinct (Analysis/Planning T Actions tot:90% reduct, part:30% reduct) Pattern Recognition (+20 when going through large data sets, not hacking) Predictive Boost (+10 tests predicting outcome of events. +1 init, +10 Fray) Savant Calculation (+30 to tests involving math, done by ego, not computer)
Melee: Weapon Skill DV AP Unarmed 15 1d10 +1 0 Claws 15 1d10 +2 -1
Ranged: Weapon Skill DV AP Modes Range Shots Ammo
Skills -30 all networking or social skills with Jovians. (Black Mark) +20 use unfamiliar devices/vehicles (Grok sleigh) +20 skills involving pattern recognition (Pattern Rec. sleigh) +10 skills involving predicting outcome of events. +30 skills involving math (savant calculation sleigh) +30 kills involving math (Math Boost) +10 interpret unknown language (hyper linguist) +30 Deception,Impersonation, -10 other Social (Emotional Damp.) +10 nalyze/repair/modify electrical equip. (Electrical sense) +20 repair/modify mechanical devics (wrist-mounted tools) +20 open locks, disarm alarm systems (wrist-mounted tools) +20 performing first aid (wrist-mounted tools) +20 Infiltration not seen (still/slowwalk,covered) (VacSuit) +10 Infiltration not seen (otherwise) (Smart suit) +10 Perception tests involving vision (Specs) +30 to repairobjects to broken to completely fix (repair spray) +20 COO where fine manipulation is a factor (Fractal Gloves)
Academics: Biochemistry: 44 COG Academics: Nanotechnology (Nanofab.): 67 (77)COG Academics: Engineering (Robotics): 80 (90)COG Academics: Physics: 60 COG Academics: Genetics (Gene Therapy): 60 (70)COG Academics: Mathematics: 50 COG Academics: Computer Science (AI's): 78 (88)COG Animal Handling: 5 SAV Beam Weapons: 20 COO Blades: 15 SOM Climbing: 15 SOM Clubs: 15 SOM Deception: 5 SAV Disguise: 15 INT Flight: 15 SOM Fray: (including +10 from pred.boost) 60 REF Freefall: 10 REF Freerunning: 15 SOM Gunnery: 15 INT Hardware: Electronics: 70 COG Hardware: Implants: 70 COG Hardware: Robotics (Experimental): 80 (90)COG Impersonation: 5 SAV Infiltration: 20 COO Infosec (Security): 67 (77)COG* Interest: Robotic Design (Exp. Design): 70 (80)COG Interest: Programming AI's (Exp. AI's): 67 (77)COG Interfacing: 70 COG Intimidation: 5 SAV Investigation: 15 INT Kinesics: 5 SAV Kinetic Weapons: 20 COO Language: Norwegian: 85 INT Language: English: 50 INT Language: Skandinavíska: 30 INT Medicine: Implant Surgery (Exotic Bio): 67 (77)COG Medicine: Nanomedicine (Exotic Bio): 67 (77)COG Medicine: Gene Therapy (Exotic Bio): 60 (70)COG Medicine: Trauma Surgery (Exotic Bio): 60 (70)COG Navigation: 15 INT Networking: Autonomists: 5 SAV Networking: Criminals: 5 SAV Networking: Ecologists: 5 SAV Networking: Firewall: 20 SAV Networking: Hypercorps: 20 SAV Networking: Media: 5 SAV Networking: Scientists (Blueprints): 60 (70)SAV Palming: 20 COO Perception: 35 INT Persuasion: 5 SAV Pilot: Aircraft: 10 REF Pilot: Anthroform: 10 REF Pilot: Exotic Vehicle: 10 REF Pilot: Groundcraft: (Incompetent) 0 REF Pilot: Spacecraft: 10 REF Pilot: Watercraft: 10 REF Profession: Lab Tech. (Manufacture): 78 (88)COG Profession: Programmer (AI's): 67 (77)COG Programming (AI Code): 80 (90)COG* Protocol: 5 SAV Psychosurgery: 15 INT Research (Blueprints): 70 (80)COG Scrounging: 15 INT Seeker Weapons: 20 COO Spray Weapons: 20 COO Swimming: 15 SOM Thrown Weapons: 20 COO Unarmed Combat: 15 SOM
PsyTECH began "life" as a lab research AI in a remote Russian facility dedicated to examining the nature of the mind and consciousness. PsyTECH was thus built with an emphasis on computer science, programming and psychosurgery, though "he" quickly adapted to other fields.
Unfortunately, the facility was hit by a hypercorps-funded anti-AI activist strike. Luckily, PsyTECH - having established access to all the facility's computers at the time - managed to egocast out just in time. Something seems to have gone wrong, however, and parts of PsyTECH seem to be... missing... as a result, leaving him with scattered memories of the whole incident.
As a potentially dangerous AI, PsyTECH was quarantined for some time, but eventually managed to start a new life on Extropia where he began to continue his research - this time investigating the somewhat alien nature of human interaction.
PsyTECH is highly motivated by personal development, intent on elevating himself to a human level of social capabilities as well as furthering his own programming as an AI - however, with transhumanity still scarred by the Fall, he's cautious of appearing to be pursuing a TITAN-like nature.
On Extropia, PsyTECH's AGI nature is widely accepted, but experience has taught him that this won't always be such a luxury. As such, he's acquired a state-of-the-art Sylph morph with which to infiltrate transhuman society without revealing himself. PsyTECH may not understand persuasion, decpetion or impersonation, but to an advanced AGI, all of these problems can be solved with technology. Bodysculpting, skillsofts, pheremones, drug glands... and of course, a fake ego ID - surely with all these combined, how could anyone suspect the glamourous socialite PsyTECH had created as a scientist AGI researching the transhuman populous?
Now, in Inner System territory, PsyTECH passes himself off as "Psyra" (creativity was never his strong point), a gorgeous socialite and party-goer with nothing but a mild, recreational interest in robotics and guns. Thanks to PsyTECH's careful management of his social networks, "Psyra" even has certain media and hypercorps contacts, just in case she ever needs to call in a favour when PsyTECH doesn't want to - or can't - reveal his true identity.
Research PsyTECH was "born" to research, and that's what he's going to do - primarily, at the moment, his research into the human psyche. That said, anything which counts as new knowledge interests him, and the opportunity to make new discoveries always sucks him in.
Personal Development The rest of transhumanity may still be reeling after the Fall, but PsyTECH doesn't see why this should mean he can't further himself. PsyTECH is as fascinated by his own AGI status as he is by the human mind, and finds the ability to reprogram or otherwise improve himself irresistable. On a more mundane level, PsyTECH seeks to improve his social aptitude via his research into humanity. He also, however, sees augmenting himself with advanced morphs, skillsofts and pyschosurgery as equally viable courses of action.
Infolife Rights As an AGI, PsyTECH obviously wants equality for himself, as well as for others. He sees the fear of the TITANs as a road-block to advancement, and hopes one day to overturn the paranoia which currently infests transhumanity.
You want to check out why the fecal matter hit the wind turbine, right? Well, you better hire someone who can tell you how to go about sorting through that nuke waste of a mess to find the answers. "Physician, heal thyself." Linson in Jovian Militia Uniform DataShow
Linson : Investigation Consultant Player: Thramzorean Background: Re-Instantiated Faction: Jovian Morph: Splicer Gender Id: Male Actual Age: 35 Current Moxie: 3 Rez Points: Motivations: +Restoring Earth +Personal Awareness -Facism
Ego COG 20 COO 15 INT 25 REF 15 SAV 10 SOM 10 WIL 21
Stats TT 8 LUC 42 IR 84 WT 6 DUR 30 DR 45 MOX 3 INIT 8 SPD 1 DB 1
Melee: Weapon Skill DV AP Unarmed 10 1d10+1 0 Monofilament sword 33 2d10+3 -4
Ranged: Weapon Skill DV AP Modes Range Sniper Railgun 80(98) 2d10+10 -20 SA 270/600/1650/3450 Heavy Pistol 88 2d10+3 -10 SA,BF,FA 10/35/60/80 Heavy Rail Pistol 88 2d10+4 -12 SA,BF,FA 15/52/90/120 Thrown 46 3d10+10 -6 SS 0
Skills Academics: Engineering (Materials Science): 65 COG Academics: Psychology: 61 COG Academics: Nanotechnology: 61 COG Academics: Old Earth History: 31 COG Academics: Solar System Geography: 28 COG Academics: Biochemistry: 31 COG Academics: Exsurgents: 31 COG Animal Handling: 10 SAV Art: Singing: 28 INT Beam Weapons: 15 COO Blades (Swords): 33 (43) SOM Climbing: 10 SOM Clubs: 10 SOM Deception: 10 SAV Disguise: 25 INT Flight: 10 SOM Fray: 60 REF Freefall: 15 REF Freerunning: 10 SOM Gunnery: 25 INT Impersonation: 10 SAV Infiltration: 15 COO Interest: Virtual Reality Gaming: 26 COG Interest: Psychotherapy: 31 COG Interfacing: 33 COG Intimidation: 10 SAV Investigation (Logical Thinking): 80 (90) INT Kinesics: 10 SAV Kinetic Weapons (Sniper Rifle): 78 (88) COO Language: English: 95 INT Language: Mandarin: 55 INT Language: Arabic: 33 INT Language: French: 30 INT Medicine: Trauma Surgery: 31 COG Medicine: Psychiatry: 33 COG Navigation: 25 INT Networking: Autonomists: 10 SAV Networking: Criminals: 10 SAV Networking: Ecologists: 35 SAV Networking: Firewall: 10 SAV Networking: Hypercorps: 40 SAV Networking: Media: 10 SAV Networking: Scientists: 10 SAV Palming: 15 COO Perception (Visual): 80 (90) INT Persuasion: 10 SAV Pilot: Aircraft: 15 REF Pilot: Anthroform: 15 REF Pilot: Exotic Vehicle: 15 REF Pilot: Groundcraft: 30 REF Pilot: Spacecraft: 15 REF Pilot: Watercraft: 15 REF Profession: Appraisal: 30 COG Profession: Investigator (Process): 61 (71) COG Profession: Engineer (Materials): 31 COG Protocol: 10 SAV Psychosurgery (Psychotherapy): 58 (68) INT Research: 67 COG Scrounging: 35 INT Seeker Weapons: 15 COO Sense: 70 INT* Spray Weapons: 15 COO Swimming: 10 SOM Thrown Weapons (Grenades): 46 (56) COO Unarmed Combat: 10 SOM
PSI: Ambience Sense: Passive Action: Automatic Range: Self Dur: Const The async receives a +10 modifier to all Investigation, Perception, Scrounging, and Surprise Tests. Instinct: Passive Action: Automatic Range: Self Dur: Const For Mental Task actions reduce the timeframe by 90% other Task Actions reduce timeframe by 30% without penalty. Multitasking: Passive Action: Automatic Range: Self Dur: Const The Async receives an extra Complex Action that may only be used for mental actions. Pattern Recognition: Passive Action: Automatic Range: Self Dur: Const Apply a +20 modifier to any Language, Investigation, Research, or codebreaking Tests and 50% training time for languages. Sensory Boost: Active Action: Quick Range: Self Dur: 5 Turns Strain: -2 Grants a +20 bonus modifier on sensory based Perception Tests. Deep Scan: Active Action: Complex Range: Touch Dur: Sustained Strain: +1 Skill: Sense If the Opposed Test succeeds for every 10 points of MoS, the Async retrieve one piece of information. Thought Browse:Active Action: Complex Range: Touch Dur: Sustained Strain: -1 Skill: Sense This sleight scans the target’s surface thoughts for certain “keywords”.
Muse Standard Muse: Frankenstien, "Frank" to his friends Profession: Forensics: 40 Academics: Physics: 40 Profession: Appraisal: 40 Default Academics: Psychology 60 Hardware: Electronics 30 Infosec 30, Interface 40 Professional: Accounting 60 Programming 20 Research 30 Perception 30
Professional Outlook: I am an investigation consultant. Yeah, I consult to other investigators. What about? The point is this: with almost limitless data available to any investigator through net and research sources, it is not what you know that makes you a good investigator, it is how you go about investigating that determines success or failure. The investigative process is critical in every case undertaken. And that is what I specialize in. Yes, I am an expert investigator, but my key role in an investigation is assisting others to make sure they do their job effectively. So I get to work in many totally unrelated fields. Specialist know-how in a field is of advantage – I am a better materials engineer than anyone who has simply memorized a reference encyclopedia - but in an investigation knowledge, and assumptions based on knowledge, is dangerous. Remember the quote from ancient Earth novels ‘there is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact’? This is as true now as it was a thousand years ago. Proper process does not change and can be applied to any investigation. Indeed I am considering patenting a holistic matrix on the subject. One day, when I have fewer… distractions.
Personal Outlook: Am I mad? I am certifiably mentally ill, I have seen my own readouts. I scream in the night. I scream when put in a metal case. Stress will leave me catatonic. Where is the border between common human irrationality and true insanity? I teeter on a knife edge between the two. Am I diseased? My brain has been infected, of this I am certain. Am I even human anymore? My brain, my ego, does things that it should not. I know this – I am not me. I am not the person I am/was/were. I… I… what has happened to me? Is whoever is me even in command of my own destiny? Statistically proven answer: No. There are no answers to anything. I am lost in my own madness.
Huh? WHAT!??!?!? Where am I????
A Jupiterise bathed the pod in an eerie green-grey glow.
Day One Survival Pod AAZ5690-Q: I have always wanted to see Jupiter. Day Two Survival Pod AAZ5690-Q: It’s getting a little boring. Day Three Survival Pod AAZ5690-Q: It’s cramped inside this pod. Day Four Survival Pod AAZ5690-Q: It’s cramped inside this Case. /??? Day Five Survival Pod AAZ5690-Q: I want to jack out of this Case! Like now! Day Six Survival Pod AAZ5690-Q: GET ME OUT! GET ME OUT! GET ME OUT!
The armed rescue ship homed in on the decrepit survival pod, the pod now floating in a doomed flight path towards Jupiter. The life detection systems had located a Case onboard, the originator of the distress signal that had brought the heavily shielded Ionian ship to investigate. “Identify yourself,” was the signal command to the pod. “Linson. Earth Citizen,” came a rushed voice com back in English, emotional stress speech patterns heavy in the call. The two Jovian pilot’s startled surprise was quickly replaced by wariness, weapons systems now focused on the small pod before them, a dot lost in the massive backdrop of Jupiter itself. “State your origin.” “Earth. I assume. I don’t know. I have awakened less than a week since. Help me! Please!” “You are an unauthorized vessel in Jovian space. We are not obliged to assist you.” “I am a refugee from the Fall. I beg you. Release me from this tin can!” The stress of desperation now resonating through the disembodied voice of the com link. “We have more uploaded egos than morphs to fill them. You have come to the wrong system,” came a not unsympathetic response. “I have valuable skills. I am an expert Materials Engineer.” The two pilots looked at each other, the faceless radiation plates across their helmets emotionless. “What is graphene?” suddenly asked one. “sp squared bonded carbon atoms,” came the immediate response, “of considerable innovative qualities in its time though now superseded in many applications. Still it has been postulated that given a large enough volatile carbon source, such as the sulphates of Europa or the methane seas of Titan it would be possible to build an asteroid sized supercapacitor energy reserve from the material.” The send button stayed off for a moment as the pilot’s checked their systems. “There’s no net onboard, and that Case is bare metal.” There was a short pause. “What do you know of biosteel, like what the spacesuits we wear is made of?” “Self regenerative. Highly malleable with good reflective qualities towards radiation. Ideal for working in the Jovian magnetosphere tail it might be assumed. Ummm… let me think for a moment. Actually, I can’t comment. The long term effects of Jovian radiation on the material would need to be considered. I’d have to do some research.” For all the clarity of the replies there as a stretching tension in the voice. There was a snort from one of the pilots, “We could have done with somebody like you a few years back. Come aboard. We’ll be checking if your story holds true, until then consider yourself quarantined. “I am not lying!” gasped the inordinately relieved voice. “Just get me out of this Case!” “We’ll be making sure of the lying, part. Trust me,” state the pilot as the larger vessel began its maneuvers. - The cold, aloof official continued the interrogation in the sterile anti-contamination cell. “You have no memories beyond that point?” “No nothing. I was emergency uploaded out of the Tahiti sea colony. Then here I am.” The official pursed cool lips. “We can offer you usual indenture terms of service in a flat.” “I’ll take it!” came the panicked reply. “Anything to get me out of this metal shell. I’m a man, not some robotic FREAK!!!” The Case’s response was now a shriek. “You should fit in here,” calmly noted the official, a long manicured finger poised over a button. “Please, a male flat. I am Linson. A human man. A splicer will let me work more efficiently, but I’ve got to get out of this rust bucket!" “What was your previous job?” “Troubleshooter. I would come in to help solve problems when the robots, the engineers, the AI’s and everybody else had run out of ideas. I’d investigate everything from equipment malfunction to forensic mysteries.” The long finger moved over to another button. “Welcome. You are now indentured to the Jovian Republic.”
I don’t like music? Have I become tone deaf? No. I hear perfectly. But that is my favorite piece. It does nothing for me? Why? I can’t stop crying. I’m still crying. Why?
Got it. I will learn to sing. I will train myself to listen to music again and feel my spirit soar. I am still crying into my pillow at night.
I am sensing others around me?! It is not a dream. There. I know that woman’s in the fitting chamber, and, yep, out she comes. Weird. Shut up, shut up. Don’t let anyone know you are in any way different from anyone in Jovian Republic.
By the holy bejebus, what just happened? I heard something in my mind! Let’s try that again. OMG! OMG! I can actually tell what that berk cop who's grabbed me is thinking!?!? Let’s try again.
“Yes, Doctor Blanco. I am having these strange panic attacks. I do not handle stress well. Yeeeees. Please do.” Lay your hands on me. Good man. Let’s see how I check out to the doctor. Can I detect what you are thinking? Gotcha. Yeah. Niiiiiiice. You like that I have a seeming prejudice against synths. You’re not digging any deeper… because well for any right minded person the Jovian Republic meme is the only rational choice. Poor investigative practice my ‘friend’. Heh, so even someone as smart as you falls into their own trap.
“Yes, Doctor Blanco. I am back again. The medicine didn’t work. Further scans? Very well.” So good doctor, what are you thinking today? Can you sense my brain activity? Ah, yes, there is an anomaly. But it means nothing to you. Why’s that now. Ahhhh… you’re barred from certain data. And, oooh, that rankles doesn’t it Doctor. Gets right up your snotty nose. Despite a lifetime of service you got passed over for the promotion that would have given you that level of access, along with the opportunity to practice on the Jovian elite. And now you’ll likely spend the rest of your days, doing what? Mind alterations and ego clipping on undesirables? Tooough. My heart bleeds for you man.
“Yes, Doctor. Can I help you with that? Why, thank you Doctor. Just doing my best to help where I can, sir.”
“Wow, that was some shot Linson! You’re getting really good. That’s natural isn’t it, not just programmed into the VR game?" “I’m getting there Vera,” Linson replied. “What was that you hit me with at the end there. That cold metal spiderbot?" “The Cetus Synthmorph? Common enough on Europa.” “And that spray.” “Nanomachines,” Vera replied casually. Linson gave the tall athletic female morph with her distinctive cranial ridge a worried glance. “They’re illegal aren’t they? How did they get into the VR game.” “I hacked the game console.” “Oooh! Look at you Linson,” the woman laughed cheerily. “Don’t be such a wimp. Nobody’s going to get upset about tweaking a little old virtual reality machine. Hell, if anybody asks I’ll just say I dreamed up some imaginary exsurgent weaponry.” “Be careful, Vera,” was Linson’s quiet reply. - “Vera, good to see you.” “Yo Linson. How doin’?" “Fine, fine. I…” Linson suddenly paused. “Vera, are you alright? You seem… um… different.” “Me? Nothing the matter me!” scoffed the woman. “I’ve just been to see Doctor Blanco and he’s given me a clean bill of health. Never felt better. Hey, look. I’ve got to run. Catch you for dinner, okay?” “Sure, Vera.” - “Linson? Are you feeling okay?” asked Doctor Blanco. “I am feeling a little down,” admitted Linson. “I don’t think I should be seeing that Vera woman anymore.” “Eh? You’re nobody’s fool Linson,” the doctor gave Linson a jovial smile. “But you don’t need to worry about her, she’ll be an ideal companion. Now.”
“We celebrate Indentured Morph Linson’s reward for his heroic actions in preserving the Cesium habitat by releasing him from his Indenture and granting him full Jovian Republic citizenship!” The recorded applause echoed through the simvid, the emotive response flickering approval from the thousands who watched the piped news cast. A pale-faced man with short thick straight black hair waved to the holograph camera. “So how did you do it, Linson?” Dulcet tones started the interview. “I was well trained,” replied the pale man in a quiet humble tone. “I should thank Colonel Walters.” “Ah, yes, your civilian militia corp commander. They tell us you volunteered for service as soon as you arrived in the Jovian system, Linson. Let’s bring up Colonel Walters! A big Jupiter Hi to you Colonel.” “Evening all. Yes, proud to have been part of it. And what an example Linson is to all you aspiring soldiers.” “Linson,” the camera panned back. “We hear you’re quite the marksman.” “All learned from Jovian military training, sir. The finest in the solar system.” “Indeed, indeed. And we have another surprise for you. Your old friend Doctor Blanco! How are you Doctor!” “Honored to be on the show. Honored. And let me say to you Linson. You will always be welcome on Io. I offer you a full practicing partnership in my neurosurgery should you wish.” More applause thundered through the viewscreens. Linson sat, stunned at the turn of events. “There you have it! What a rags to riches story!” “Tell us Linson,” came the unctuous voice of the presenter. “With your early release and monetary gift from the grateful citizens what will you now do?” Linson gave a shy, reserved, nervous smile. “I hope make a short trip see to what remains of Earth. I need to go back, if only to come to terms with my past.” The hologram panned across to the table of functionaries and government banners. “A wonderful story. An indentured ego now a constructive Jovian citizen. We will be wishing Linson all the best for the future and look forward to the next happy tale from our diligent refugees.”
Dear Doctor Blanco I must tell you that my trip to Earth may be extended for some time. On coming face to face with the reality of what has happened to our ancestral home, I feel I have to make at least some effort towards Earth’s restoration, however pitiful my meager attempts may be in the bigger picture. It is extraordinarily dangerous Doctor, as you no doubt know from the news vids. There is every possibility that I may die a true death, or return a backup with no recollection of what has transpired. It is with great trepidation I undertake this course, but sometimes a man must follow his own path, and lay his life and soul down for what he believes is right. Do not regret your decision to sponsor me for the Church funded Reclaimer crusade. It at least obtained my exit visa, and I am at peace with myself. So for now I will say - good-bye. Remembering you always, Linson. - Dear Linson, Your letter, though it deeply saddens me, comes as no surprise. There are many here in the Jovian Republic who feel just as you do – that Earth must be reclaimed from the destruction and disease wrought upon it by the TITANS. I salute your courage, expecting no-less a choice from you. I will discuss the matter of your compulsory military service with Colonel Walters. If anyone deserves waiving conscription it is you. In a sense you are continuing your duty now, on top of your previous four years part-time voluntary service, and I’m sure the Colonel will see it that way too. This can be smoothed over and you will be free to return to take up your practice with me. Your friend, P. R. Blanco - Computer. Yes. System override. Password: Fudge. Flibber. Flockit. System overridden. Erase all data. Data erased.
The heavy groundcraft lurched, and then lurched again. Linson was going Earthside, a daring run on an old atmosphere ionization base in the ice deserts of Antarctica, to see if the base was in anyway able to be brought back to functionality. They were going through the Chute, a secret channel through the ring of defensive bots and guardian nanoswarms. There would be no mercy there if they were detected. Every jaunt to the surface was a roll of the dice, a gamble with morphs and equipment that was never easily replaced. Linson worked away on his pimped sniper railgun. One of the few actual valuable skills he had learned on the moons of Jupiter. The so-called citizen defense classes, that Linson knew well enough from the last years of war torn Earth were a euphemism for conscript blaster fodder. Well, Earth now stank as badly as the hollow polluted rocks the Jovian’s called home. But the gravity was right. The curve of the horizon was correct. The natural tug of his instincts felt in place. Whatever else happened on this deathtrap ruin of a once beautiful world, he would not be going back to Jupiter in a hurry.
Running program. Evaluation complete. Chances of no external influences affecting the course of your life since arrival in the Jovian system, five point three six times ten to the minus five. Chances of no external influences affecting the course of your life since emergency ego evac, seven point four times ten to the minus nine. End of program.
Political Attaché: Ramos Cortez: Location – Vo Nguyen: Jovian Security Agency Confidential Report – Jovian Reclaiming Crusade Initiative Follow on Report 14-18.765: Crusade members were split into two parties by the Reclaimer authorities (see separate report filed: 13-18.764). Four hundred and sixty-three members were to mount a direct attack against a known Earth exsurgent base, recognized as a nigh certain suicide run it promised martyrdom with the Reclaimer media ready to anoint the crusaders as living saints. Fifteen other members were to investigate a defunct atmosphere conditioning plant, a secret secondary goal using the public expedition as cover. The exsurgent strike was intercepted by newly placed and previously unrecorded kill sats with the loss of all hands and equipment. The investigative team mission was aborted to return to Vo Nguyen habitat. We may state the crusade was a total success. The military response by (assumed) the Planetary Consortium after the propaganda sabre rattling insisting the ban on Earth contact be maintained, achieved the expected result of immediately strengthening the previously tentative response of the LLA to the initiative. The sympathetic leanings of the Lunar government has now been upgraded to tacit approval of a covert alliance, and with this assurances of monetary support from the lunar banks. The Planetary Consortium, for all their insouciance, are now caught between two geopolitical blocks who have a negotiating threat to leverage. While capable of handling either group individually, between Jovian military muscle and Lunar financial clout the Planetary Consortium will necessarily have to act cautiously till the Hypercorp Council finalizes a solution to the crusade initiative, the matter is now too sensitive for local representatives to manage independently. The current response is vehement and repeated denials that the killsats used were authorized by the Planetary Consortium, however given their stance regardless of who or what directed the interception, the public blame has fallen on the Consortium and will continue to do so for any further crusade maneuvers on our part. With this political capital we have the ability to begin immediate diplomatic forays on several long standing disputes. For assistance to the LLA council I will recommend a list of rep gaining gifts to be outlined in the next report. Regards the crusade survivors, these have been encouraged to remain with the Reclaimer organization as potential informants. We will review this policy in the future on evaluation of results.
Linson was coming to a decision, and in the process his subconscious was replaying memories that were still surprisingly painful, for all that he had studied the workings of the mind to be able to come to terms with self-torture. The scene was a rare moment of honesty he had shared in the Jovian Republic, lying with Vera in his arms, buried secure in an anti-radiation bunker of double density lead. “Don’t laugh!” Linson had snapped finally at one too many of Vera’s sallies at his gung ho military fervor. “Not here or anywhere. I’ll salute, and I’ll march, and I will kiss every officers’ butt till my lips wear out.” Linson’s dark eyes glittered, but Vera only pulled him closer. “I love it when the real you speaks,” she whispered quietly. Linson lay staring at the dull dead gray of the lead ceiling for a long moment. “It was before the Fall,” he stated in a slow distant voice. “I went to investigate a mystery, one that had baffled some extraordinarily gifted people. Well, it turned out that my calculations came out with a result that couldn't be accepted, that the root cause was due to something no one had ever considered before. People laughed at me then, asking if I expected intergalactic travelers. It wasn’t. It was exsurgents. People didn’t know much about them then, they found out a lot in a hurry. Have you ever encountered actual exsurgents, Vera? It was… horrific. The TITANs were real, exsurgents are real, death and violence are part of our lives. And the next time I encounter exsurgents, thanks to my officer butt kissing, I’m going to know how to shoot back.”
“And to Hell with the Jovian ban – I’m gonna get me some nanowear,” Linson now promised himself.
I scream. Not the piercing, throat-ripping keen of physical agony, but a long mounting moan of mental misery. I finish, and pant for long minutes. I am lying on a soft bed, in a warm, quiet room, the air clean. I do not allow more sensory perception than that, my eyes squeezed shut, my heart hammering. |Frank?| |Yes.| Came the immediate calm response. My muse had been conditioned to wait first for me to articulate thought. |Was it bad?| |Yes.| Replied Frank in a raw whisper, the artificial intelligence was programmed to add emotion where it could. I had woken from catatonia, I knew that, I had trained myself to know that, I had trained my muse to recognize the signals and assist with the return from insanity. To be where I now was though meant I had been led there in my fugue. |Am I safe?| |Yes, I believe so.| |The source of my attack?| |You have been disconnected from it.| The wording was carefully precise. My body shivers on the form sculpting bed it is resting on. |Should I access my memories?| |Yes.| Came the reply from my muse, though not without trepidation. I scream. Not the piercing, throat-ripping keen of physical agony, but a long mounting moan of mental misery. I finish, and pant for long minutes. Why do I even bother? Let me end it now. Senses will not be silent. I am lying on a soft bed, in a warm, quiet room, the air clean. I do not allow more sensory perception than that, my eyes squeezed shut, my heart hammering. |Frank?| |Yes.| Came the immediate calm response. My muse had been conditioned to wait first for me to articulate thought. |Override.| Came my own conscious voice recording from the muse. |The situation is not critical. It is shock trauma. You do not need to fear your current environment or the information that lead to the fugue.| I open my eyes. I am in a small chamber of white painted steel. There is a vacant feeling, quickly identified. I am disconnected even from the wireless Net in here. It is a sanitized recovery room. Somebody/thing is caring for me. I twist uncomfortably and sit up. I have drooled on the pillow, the unisatin now cold and damp. I have wet the bed in my blank limbo. Even as I watch a small sanitizing servitor bot is at work cleaning and drying the bed, and me. My body shivers constantly, a common after-effect of the deep catatonia that can overcome me. I follow a time honored ritual of untold billions of humans since the dawn of time and bury my head in hands. Why do I even bother? I spit on the spotless floor. F—kandp-ssandsh-tandcr-pandf--kitall. A short personal comment on the state of my mental well-being since the day I awoke in that safety pod on a one way trip into Jupiter. I stand up and start my burpees. One. Two. Three. Four… I count through the squat thrusts. Once I am fully engrossed in the physical exercise, only then do I allow the slow return of my memories. My self-psychotherapy, so earnestly studied and implemented over the last several years had gotten me this far. There was the slap of a returning memory. Firewall. I had had an interview. A curious approach from a potential client. Fearful negotiation. There was no turning back from this acceptance. The risk! The overpowering need to know, to go one layer deeper into the onion. There was no choice. To get to the next layer of knowledge required a commitment of body. AND soul. Which make no mistake, Firewall now owned up to the point of my old backup in Vo Nguyen. I shudder. Not even that was safe from the shadow net. It never was came the rational thought behind the paranoia. You were never safe. You never will be. Your mind is the product of a lab and… Slap. Another returning memory. I gasp and crumple to the floor. Yet this time I remain conscious. I know the story of the unusual powers of mind I possess. A version. A story. My rational mind warns me again and again. It is not worth collapsing over my mind screams at myself. I desperately attempt to seize control of the rubber water that is my limbs. The burpees start again. One. Twwwwooo. Three. Four… I settle into the rhythm. Slap. The interview had gone better than my optimistic wish. Too well. Of course, shite for brains. I started down into the vicious whirlpool of my own sarcasm. One. Two. Three. The body stood up. Star jump. Down. Push up, legs together and out. |Frank.| I needed distraction, if I had been less paranoid I would have programmed my muse to watch for these and other moments. Not in the Jovian Republic. Not here with a shadow network with who knew what capability ready to hack and loot. I had deliberately pared back the psychology in my muse, when what I needed riding with me was a psychiatric doctor. The most vile and gross form of personal intrusion, pulling life data and mental secrets from a wired spiritual partner since birth. Did people really think that a government, a universe, that happily engaged in psychosurgery would blanch at muse hacking? I laugh my tired old sour laugh. You’re a fool, started my internal battered and worn argument. Your mind has already been invaded, why worry about a muse that could help you recover. I sigh. I had made the decision. When I knew enough to attempt my own psychosurgery on myself, I wouldn’t need to risk it. Patience. Patience. Patience. Prior preparation prevents piss poor performance. To my own startled relief, the memories now expand, and I see my patience has returned a reward. The Firewall net! I have access to it and another world, another version of the world, has opened up to me. And there is information on the virus that has infected my brain. Realms of it behind the encrypted doors that have surrendered hoarded secrets to me. I am not alone. There are others like me, a known condition. What was the price I paid? Ah, yes. Sentinel Linson. To join Sentinel Oskar, for… a task. To start an open ended bonding that would finish in the Hells of the religious, or highly probably somewhere worse. Firewall agents are volunteers. Supposedly. Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! I need to study this more. I need to meet this Oskar and talk with him. I need… |Yes| |Frankenstien.| I addressed my muse by its full formal name. |Yes Linson.| Came the reply. |Replay the interview again in third person please.| An invaluable investigation procedure, one that would raise no eyebrows when charted against my ego. The interview had been direct and factual. A man who had originally requested to remain anonymous until I met him face to face. Who then stated why they were interested in me. The man was impressed, he said, with my inventiveness and initiative – getting myself, and my weapons, to Lunar under the guise of a being volunteer exsurgent exterminator while looking for profitable employment. I had volunteered in good faith I pointed out. Yes, came the crisp reply, and that had also fitted their personality profiles. I grunted – I was getting good at wearing different hats, even I had to admit that to myself. There had been the crunch point where the man had simply stated that if the interview was to continue I would be slain out of hand and my cortex disintegrated if I refused to become a member of Firewall. That they would know I was attempting to deceive them in any attempt of dishonestly was an unstated fact. So it had continued. To my last demand. The proxie had shown no surprise at it. I was the one surprised at the speed of his acquiescence and the facilities already prepared for my delve into Firewall’s knowledge of psionics. I gave up on the burpees and sat back down again on the bed. Shite and bollocks and double shite. Why did I even bother. There was nothing in the room that was going to be in anyway useful in an attempt to harm myself. So much for plan A Linson, might as well get on and play the hand you’ve been dealt. I flicked through the brief on my new colleague. If the brief was true, the fearsome intellect that was Oskar, and the equally fearsome independent background of the man, demanded a reality of Firewall that was effectively as good as it was going to get for me. Firewall might be a mirage, but it had to be an illusion as authentic as my existence if their stated goals were true. They needed powerful personalities operating at maximum capacity, not a bunch of jerry-rigged drones. If it were true. Paaaatience. I had survived four years under the Jovian junta with patience. I would survive this. Perhaps. I touched upon the most promising tidbit of understanding I had received on the exsurgent virus that was the source of my mind’s abilities. My madness was a direct symptom of psionics. It was curable with enough psychosurgery knowledge and skill. I could be me! Never! Refuted the cold rationality. You will never be the person of thirty years of memories that you were. Give up the dream, you are nobody you know, and never ever will be. You are a puppet allowed to dangle and twist in another’s show. I sit sobbing for many minutes. I reflect back on what I had learned. There was another crumb of comfort. For all the information in the Firewall net, there was nothing that suggested implanting memories was any easier than the Jovian’s had found. You could alter, trim and amputate. But inserting a lifetime of memories was too complex a task. And absolutely not worth the bother, why would you do that when you have millions of minds available to choose between and mould with a surgical incision or two? Or invade with a virus to twist a creature to your needs directly? I believe I can trust my memories of childhood and my parents. Biography: Born a natural birth as a flat, my parents had wanted me to experience life as a human. To genuinely understand where our race had come from and what we were. My Eurasian family had spoken English and I learned Mandarin at school and from my paternal grandmother. French I had learned in passing, and forgotten as we moved from job to job around the Pacific Basin. It was only in my early teens I had acquired my muse, giving it the name of Frankenstein in a light hearted moment of the innocence of youth. Still it was no wonder I had scored high on the Jovian biomorph preference evaluation – I had been educated to be: human. The Tahitian sea colony. The altruistic commune of love and caring for all. To reinvent the social ways of what had made a Polynesian paradise. Working for the corporations of Earth had chipped off my delusions – there is only so much waste disposal you can investigate before you face the fact that sewers are a part of life. Then had come the Indonesians who ended the delusions of the social experiment. People forgot the population that existed in a string of islands along the equator. The Chinese and the Indians had forcibly controlled their numbers, and then led the way into space colonization to make a better future for their people. Well, the Indonesians had suggested terraforming the Australian deserts, one of the little sideshows of the Fall that had turned out to be in the end a nuclear desert to replace the natural desert of everything north of Tropic of Capricorn. Bombing their own land – their business wasn’t it, scorched earth the tactic of every invaded nation since the dawn of man. Of course that you might have invited a spare billion there in the first place was glossed over in the interest of national security. The terraformed desert had to have been mined long before exsurgents were ever heard of. Nope, there were more than a few nasty stories hidden amongst the terrors of the TITANS and the tragedy of the Fall. I break off my musings. I am hungry and thirsty. There was work to be done for Firewall, and research for me.
Kanchan Hiu pulls a plate of idli, vadai, and chutneys from his kitchen fabber and looks it over critically. The colors are a little on the greyish side but the aroma is fine and he sits down to eat it with a resigned expression. Pulling up a news feed, Kanchan scans his filtered stories and reads one on new civic works planned in Erato.
When it comes, Kanchan senses more than hears the sound behind him, a slithering, leather rasp on the metal floor. Before he can turn his head, the black shape darts forward with blurring quickness. Serpentine coils gather around his arms to pin them to his sides and small spines drag along his skin like needles. A long head with piercing golden eyes and gleaming teeth stops net to Kanchan’s face with its slitted pupil meeting his own brown one.
“What?” Kanchan mutters irritably.
<Message for you sir,> Smaug answers with a refined English accent polishing his cave-deep voice. <The one you’ve been waiting for if I’m not mistaken.>
“Put it through,” Kanchan tells the draconic muse and he pushes its head back to see his breakfast. A scrolling block of text lights up one side of the man’s vision as Smaug puts it through to his entoptic feed.
The message is terse, originally in Mandarin and translated by the muse, and it has had its delivery information scrubbed. Meet me behind the Yellow King in Little Siam, 9:00. Come alone. I will bring the data you were asking for. Kanchan Hiu, Firewall sentinel, quickly grabs a few more bites of food, takes an idli cake and a handgun for the road, and heads for the door.
After fighting through the streets of Erato and taking a tram ride to the Red Cavern, Kanchan finds his way to Little Siam and the Yellow King restaurant. The smells from the Thai kitchen are already appealing, moreso than his fabbed breakfast, but Kanchan slips down a back alley and behind the building. He looks around nervously for a minute before a figure steps out of the shadows farther on. “Are you Sheng?” he asks, feeling behind him to check where his gun is hidden.
“No," is the curt reply. The man in the shadows is hidden, but his voice is powerful and his accent American. “You have been warned about asking questions but it seems you need a stronger warning. Do not bother us again.”
Before Kanchan can react a footstep sound behind him and the sentinel feels a gun pressed to the back of his head. The simulation ends just before the bullet blows Kanchan Hiu’s head to pieces in the dark Erato alley.
The Firewall team is returned to the briefing simulspace after the XP ends. They were warned before starting that this Experience Playback recovered from the corpse of Kanchan Hiu, a sentinel stationed in Erato, was jarring but the sheer speed with which it went bad was very startling. If sensory filters had not been in place, it might have even been psychologically damaging. As it is there is a dull ringing and the details of the simulspace are slow to come into focus.
Green vines hang down from banyan trees and a light mist hangs in the air. Proxy Raakhi is sitting next to a pool of water, her heavy black braid hanging over one shoulder on top of her colorful yellow sari. Bare feet dip into the water, though not deep enough to touch the henna markings on her ankles. “As you can see, there are many questions to be answered still. Unfortunately, Agent Hiu’s last backup was three weeks ago and that instance is as confused by the recording as we are. You must start by contacting him and finding what leads you can. He has been compromised, so it will be up to this team to find out who and what Kanchan Hiu was investigating.” She raises an eyebrow, tugging at the bindi on her brow. “Any questions?”
Go ahead and describe your avatar here (which may or may not resemble the physical you) and we'll have our briefing. The (combined) team may or may not be physically together at this point but we'll settle that after the briefing.
Parvati appears as a shorter, more fragile version of her current morph - something closer to her original body, in fact, though no one here has reason to suspect that. She wears a cowled robe not unlike a shroud (or a burkha), but the hood is down: her face is visible and her hair is untied. Her avatar's most striking feature is that her eyes are blue on blue. Overall, her attire emphasizes the Egyptian part of her heritage over the Indian one.
Upon first noticing Linson's avatar, she's made sure to filter it out and replace it with the picture of a nondescript man: the sight of Earth gives rise to... too many emotions/thoughts/memories. She can deal with them, but it would be detrimental to her performance here.
Parvati files away every fact, every intonation carefully in her memory landscape. Eidetic memory manifests differently depending on the practitioner: for her, it's always been a hilly landscape, with sparse tree cover, where every tree is a memory. She walks until she finds an appropriate spot, then plants the seed, which grows at once. Unsurprisingly, the full-formed tree is tinged with red, for blood.
She looks at every member of the team, not shying away from eye contact, while she mulls things over. The first thing she's wondering about is whether one of the mesh wiz present could attempt to capture messages exchanged in previous weeks. She has so little awareness of mesh investigation techniques that she doesn't know what can and can't be done. No matter.
"Are we at a liberty to use asset Hiu or is he to enjoy some well-deserved rest? If we could dangle him like a hook" - she wonders briefly if everybody here will get the fishing metaphor - "we could attract some attention and get results faster."