Site 17

Session 29 - August 12, 2260

Time Warp Mysteries

Alasdair

  • Constancy 1
  • Nihilism 1
  • Void 2

Ananda

  • Detection 2

Em

  • Computer Tech 3
  • Control 1
  • Detection 1
  • Electronics 1
  • Elemental 1

160 CDP
Total: 5235

Kassil: So, last time, Alasdair was hiding his P-comm, Em was experimenting with ORACLE, and Ananda was being bemused by Alasdair insisting nothing had happened with his phone.
Em votes our first question should be if ORACLE has any limits on its use by us, and then Ananda’s idea of asking what the scope of the Akashkic database is.
Em once against thanks Alasdair for his skill in cooling her pcomm.
Ananda: "Go for it.
Em looks at Alasdair for his opinion.
Alasdair shrugs, “Sure. It might tell us, but I expect something more along the lines of ‘You are not cleared for that information.’”
Em smiles sardonically “Well if it locks us out I will officially resolve to be less cautious in future.”
Em asks ORACLE those two questions focusing in her mind on the spirit of the requests as she speaks.
Ananda mentally dubs the device ORACLE seems to be resident in “Delphi”.
Kassil: ORACLE’s response to the first questions is “Yes.” The response to the second one is “The scope of the Akashic Network is variable, determined by specific geophysical, geotemporal, and personal access restriction data.”
Ananda: (So, what are those limits?)
Kassil: Good question. Going to ask it?
Ananda: (Em’s holding both Delphi and my P-comm.)
Em asks what the limits on use of ORACLE by us are
Kassil: “Error: Access to this information is restricted by your network security clearance.”
Em bows demurely and slightly to Alasdair.
Ananda reads over Em’s shoulder, barks a laugh at that.
Alasdair smirks.
Em: Well. My most pressing question is what happened to our coworker, Circe and the rest of my group, and where they all are currently (of those who are still alive or in a state that could be turned into “alive” by means we have access to).
Ananda: “Even if they can’t be, we should recover their remains.”
Em: (Has horrible visions of Circe dissected but not damaged.)
Em: Ah good point yes.
Ananda: (I fail to see how that would be horrible.)
Kassil: “User ‘Circe’ not present on network.”
Kassil: “Physical structure ‘Circe’ not locatable.”
Em: Was she present on the network in the past, and if so what was her last location?
Kassil: “Location ‘Circe’ located: Mediterranean Ocean.”
Em: Disambiguation request: is this the Circe of classic Greek mythology or Circe (give her employee # for NWESCO)?
Em grins and just hands the pcomm to Ananda.
Em: I’m too eager.
Kassil: “Circe, Isle of. Error: identification number not recognized.”
Ananda smiles crookedly. “Too eager for what?”
Alasdair: ( How much longer do I have on my cooling effect? I don’t remember the original duration beyond “a while” )
Alasdair fiddles with his P-Comm.
Em: To try and get data from a computer system that doesn’t want to part with it.
Em: Maybe your koans will equip you for a better line of inquiry.
Kassil: 60m.
Ananda nods to Em. “Just for the sake of curiousity…” She types, [ORACLE: Who am I?]
Kassil: “Request vague. Extrapolating. User: Ananda. Descendant of former Agency staff. Connectivity to Project Alienist: 70%.” Then there’s a dense info-dump of your physical profile, mental profile according to standard psychological tests, and a list of every award you’ve ever won.
Em: (What about her discography?)
Ananda raises an eyebrow. Copies that over to her P-comm (should be easy, since they’re connected).
Ananda: (Haven’t won any awards for that.)
Ananda: [ORACLE: What is Project Alienist, and how is connectivity determined?]
Ananda fiddles with her P-comm a bit.
Kassil: “Project Alienist: Access denied, due to subject connectivity. Connectivity determined by genetic structure and mental state. Error: Contamination possible.”
Ananda frowns. Hands Delphi back to Em, “Ask it what Project Alienist is, and what sort of contamination it’s talking about. It doesn’t want to tell me.”
Em asks ORACLE if she herself is related to her ancestor whom she has the keycard for and then asks about Project Alienist and how connectivity is determined.
Em has hopes being “pure” human she may get a different answer.
Em: (The Mormons would certainly insist it had to make a difference. >_>)
Em: (If they give me a contaminiation result I’ll go back to my village and tell them their genealogical records are wrong and a demon had sex with one of my forbears so I’m not to blame for not fitting in. :) )
Kassil: “Extrapolating. Present user: Em Egnatius. Indirect descendant of Agency staff, former user at Site Beta-Six. Affiliation uncertain. Project Alienist determines contamination of the human genome by unexpected mutations or outside contaminents. Error: User bears indications of contamination by strain Zeta-Six-Six. Aborting access.”
Em: Alasdair maybe you’re pure somehow, why don’t you give it a try? :)
Ananda: “I’m not expecting much, but I suppose they could have a weird definition of ‘contaminated’.”
Alasdair looks sideways at Em. “Hmm, I suppose I could.”
Em nods “ORACLE may not be as sane as it seems.”
Kassil: ORACLE does not deign to respond to Em’s speculation on sanity.
Alasdair takes the device and types, “Assess Alasdair Aligari’s conformity to Project Alienist criteria.”
Kassil: There’s a pause. “Error: User has exceeded expected lifespan. Welcome back, Researcher Aligari. Connectivity to Project Alienist is 15%, within acceptable parameters.”
Em blinks.
Alasdair raises an eyebrow and shows Ananda the screen.
Ananda grins like she’s been given a new toy. “You’re in. Ask it what it thinks I’m contaminated with; my ancestors had a few intentional germline modifications.”
Alasdair types: Summarize Zeta-66 origin and spread.
Ananda shakes her head and rolls her shoulders, as though to loosen her neck muscles.
Em: (we’re still in the area where all the spook messages and stuff started happening right?)
Ananda: (Yep.)
Alasdair: ( Haven’t even moved 5 feet since the Fun started, IIRC. )
Kassil: “Strain Zeta-Six-Six, typified by heightened cognitive potential and access to manipulation of enivronment by paranatural means.”
Kassil: “Origin uncertain, presumed extradimensional.”
Kassil: “Spread pattern indicates mutation/insertion via extradimensional origin point, subsequently spread via inheritance of genetic code.”
Em: ….alas. Dante was useful for more than just his self appointed task of stopping bullets with his body.
Em looks nonplussed.
Em ponders it does indeed seem one of her forbears was not quite human after all….
Ananda looks wry.
Alasdair types: Summarize nature and probable origin of Ananda’s contamination.
Em is a little uncomfortable at that, but glad of it, since it seems to a requirement for throwing lightning bolts.
Ananda fiddles with her P-comm and "Hn"s quietly.
Kassil: “Theorized nature of Alienist contamination for subject/user Ananda: Genome Strain Gamma-Keter-Seven, induced via exposure to extrasolar radioactive materials. Probable inheritance from mutated forebearer. Probable traits: Albinism, hypersensitivity to stimuli, spontaneous mutation in response to external stimuli.”
Ananda looks nonplussed when she reads the bit about ‘spontaneous mutation’. “Transposons on steroids?”
Em ponders "We can all see in the dark, that’s not exactly normal for our respective body types I think?
Alasdair looks closely at the screen and frowns.
Alasdair: “Em, can you find… uh… AO-788, please?”
Alasdair glances around the room.
Em takes a look
Kassil: AO-788 is a rather nice-looking 1960 Thunderbird, painted metallic silver.
Em ahs and points it out to Alasdair
Kassil: There’s a QR code on one bumper, and the bars around it are noticably thicker than around the other vehicles.
Alasdair: “Can you take a picture of the QR code?”
Em: "Need to borrow someone’s pcomm, mine’s talking to Oracle. I guess yours Ananda, since it seems nothing abrupt looks about to happen to mine while running it based on the diagnostics? (checks those diagnostics just to be sure)
Ananda tosses her P-comm to Em, “Sure.”
Kassil: Everyone can make a visual Detection check, if they like.
Ananda absently leans against the nearest cage.
Kassil: Ananda, Em, you both notice the tossed P-comm trail sparks behind it for about half a meter after leaving Ananda’s hands; this is followed by a sharp ‘pop’ as an arc of electrical energy momentarily connects Ananda with the metal bar she leaned against, which even Alasdair spots.
Ananda reflexively jerks away from the metal.
Alasdair reflexively checks Ananda for injury.
Em: Ah, Ananda does the fact your pcomm just left a trail of sparks in the air possibly have anything to do with some unusual magnetic field or something we might be in inadvertently?
Em: You’re the scientist, I’m the technician….
Ananda: “Yeah, I was starting to feel staticy, like when you’re wearing wool on a really dry winter day.”
Em: Do we have a way of measuring if the field intensity is increasing decreasing or staying steady?
Kassil: Em, you have the P-comm, and you don’t see any further sparks.
Em takes a picture of the code and brings it to Alasdair.
Ananda notices Em returning and asks Alasdair, “Ask it what the parameter ‘K-factor’ indicates, and what exactly the Gamma-Keter-7 strain is?”
Ananda leans more heavily against the cage, once she’s sure it won’t shock her again, and takes a few deep breaths.
Alasdair shivvers slightly and shuffles his feet.
Em ponders and checks the vehicle database if any of them might be generating the effect or respond badly to a high EM field.
Em hrms and tries tossing a lockpick through the air a short distance closer and closer to the car she just photographed
Kassil: The lockpick bounces off the Thunderbird to no clear effect.
Ananda signs to Alasdair, ‘Cold?’
Em presumes it’s steel if it’s not she checks if her armor piercing shells have any exposed ferrous metal…
Kassil: You could’ve tossed a steel lockpick, sure.
Em: Basically testing if the car is the center of the electromagnetic field
Ananda taps her P-comm against one of the metal bars. Not hard, but as though to say ‘Behave, you.’
Kassil: There’s no indication the car is generating an electrical field of any kind.
Em hrms.
Em tries to make sure she has Alasdair’s attention and signs “Hidden danger imminent?”
Alasdair does not appear to be aware of Em or Ananda.
Ananda notices Em, has a look around instead.
Em gently taps Alasdair on the shoulder (with an expression of vague trepidation and praying he has no passive antipersonnel defense magics).
Alasdair shrieks and violently recoils from Em.
Alasdair gasps, swallows, and clears his throat.
Alasdair: “Yes?”
Em eeps and hopes she has his attention now and just repeats “Hidden danger imminent?”
Em imagines the answer is going to be no and looks very embarrassed.
Ananda steps away from Em and Alasdair abruptly when he jerks around, wincing at the noise.
Alasdair takes a few deep breaths. “Um. Uh, no.”
Em signs, “Wondered if you were trying to fool watchers looking lost in thought. Sorry.”
Alasdair blinks at Em in answer and retreats to the other side of Ananda a little too quickly to be casual.
Em: (hopes she gets extra points in paranoia now…)
Ananda offers her P-comm to Em, “Could you try to fix the time on this? It’s been weird since you took a picture of that QR code.”
Em picks up her lockpick and blinks as she takes the pcomm and has a preliminary look at it, seeing if it’s static damage or what.
Ananda, with her back to Alasdair, also signs to Em, ‘Back off a bit, please. Want to see if that was unusually bad, or just surprise.’
Alasdair scowls at the ORACLE device.
Em nods to Ananda.
Ananda turns to Alasdair and sees what she can see on the ORACLE screen.
Kassil: (So, how hard is Alasdair trying to keep the ORACLE screen out of view? :D)
Alasdair: ( From Ananda? Not at all. )
Ananda clears her throat rather than taking a chance by tapping Alasdair on the shoulder.
Alasdair briefly glances at Ananda.
Kassil: (So…?)
Ananda: (Ananda and Alasdair are signing at one another in a somewhat-hidden manner.)
Em tries to figure out what happened to the pcomm’s clock function.
Alasdair scowls at the ORACLE device.
Em signs to Ananda, “What was wrong this exactly? The clock’s different…anything else?”
Ananda glances past Alasdair and notices Em. Signs, ‘I just noticed the clock. Didn’t check anything else.’ There’s an unusual tension in her shoulders that truncates her gestures, pulling them in towards herself.
Em signs “What’s wrong?”
Alasdair narrows his eyes at the ORACLE device.
Alasdair mutters something decidedly vemonous in Mandarin.
Ananda signs, ‘Not now. Give us some time.’
Em ponders and checks if the thunderbird is locked.
Kassil: You’ll need an Escape Artist check to get through the bars, Em.
Ananda pointedly turns back to Alasdair and has another look at his ORACLE results.
Em gives it a try in case she’s lithe enough.
Alasdair clutches the ORACLE device tightly.
Em does her best to contain her unease at whatever has Alasdair acting like a character in an HP Lovecraft novel…
Kassil: Em finds the gap between the bars too narrow to wriggle through.
Em checks if there’s any sign of a gate or door or hatch or a way to raise/lower the bars.
Alasdair tilts the screen so Ananda can more easily read it.
Em ponders how this SHOULD be designed and sees if reality agrees.
Em is Building Inspector Derpy, hard at work.
Kassil: Em is quite sure the bars are not going anywhere anytime soon.
Alasdair scowls at the ORACLE device.
Ananda joins Alasdair in frowning at Delphi.
Em tries to bend the bars around the thunderbird.
Alasdair scans the room, especially the floor for anything out of place or alarming.
Em: (channels the air currents strengthening them with energy from the beyond pitting it against the strong bars)
Em: (gets to do a dramatic hair in the windstorm sparkly effect)
Em: (she hopes)
Ananda: (Hee!)
Em: (well, with no hair, for irony)
Em: (but the hair on the nape of her neck might have sparkly motes)
Alasdair signs, “Sharp break in existence during Event, but it claims otherwise.”
Kassil: Alasdair looks up and around just as a windstorm erupts around Em’s hands, shrieking with hurricane force against the bars. The slow groan of the metal bars is lost in the rush of air, and the spillout of the wind prevents Alasdair from getting a good look at anything on the floor as dust and bits of litter previosuly unseen blow around wildly.
Em makes a mental note to be careful about peripheral effects in future, she’s still kinda new to this stuff
Kassil: Em, you manage to force the bars apart enough that you’re fairly sure you can slip through.
Em has a try at slipping through them.
Alasdair curses in Mandarin.
Alasdair: “What are you doing?!”
Kassil: Em slips between the bars into the cage with the Thunderbird as Alasdair starts cursing.
Em: “Investigating the vehicle if the interior reveals any data about it not in the computer.”
Ananda looks up, chain of throught interrupted.
Em: If there’s a very large hammer in it, I promise not to touch it, much less a spear. And I will leave any ravens I see very very much alone.
Ananda: “If you meet any ravens, let me know.”
Kassil: (Em, forgetting that the others have no idea what the car’s nickname is. :D)
Ananda shakes her head amusedly.
Em assesses if the car shows signs of any security systems to prevent trespass.
Ananda: (Ananda knows damn-all about Norse mythology, as well.)
Alasdair shies away from Em’s investigation.
Kassil: Em proves capable as a carjacker, popping the Thunderbird’s driver-side lock without too much effort.
Alasdair whispers, “Try calling Mauna Kea Observatory and see if she’s there. I have something to try.”
Ananda blinks, whispers back, “See if who’s there?”
Em looks vaguely relieved not to be electrocuted and opens it and looks inside carefully before entering.
Alasdair raises an eyebrow conspiratorily at Ananda and nods at the ORACLE device.
Kassil: Em finds herself in a rather classic-looking Thunderbird. The keys are in the ignition, oddly.
Ananda whispers, “Ah! I remember her.”
Em checks around under the seats , in the glovebox, sees if she can get the trunk open, if anything’s stored here, maybe something in the anti-glare flaps.
Kassil: Em finds the car’s last registration and insurance paperwork, dated 2061, and a very old and somewhat dusty granola bar in a foil wrapper.
Em: Who is it registered to?
Alasdair clutches the ORACLE device closely.
Ananda fiddles with her P-comm.
Ananda frowns at her P-comm.
Kassil: Em, it’s registered to one John Smith.
Em shakes her head, takes the keys, and puts them in a belt pouch for later investigation and retreats through the bars before the effect wears off.
Em: (closes the door, locked)
Kassil: Em, the bars are pretty much permanently deformed.
Em: (ah, okay, thought the effect would be temporary, takes notes for future)
Alasdair shuts down ORACLE and hesitantly hands the P-Comms back to Em.
Kassil: When Alasdair shuts ORACLE off, Em’s P-comm frosts over instantly.
Em: Er, Alasdair, dispel the cooling, please. but thank you for putting it in place.
Ananda: “Actually, if you’re done, could I use it?”
Kassil: (Of course, Alasdair wasn’t trying to cool it, per se, just hold the temperature stable.)
Em hands it to Ananda.
Alasdair: “You’ll, uh, want to let it rest a bit.”
Em: Actually on second thought, let me make sure the condensation wasn’t excessive.
Alasdair pulls out his P-Comm and fiddles with it.
Ananda wipes the frost off the screen against her sleeve, “Sure.”
Em: (quickly removes the access panels and stuff and examines it carefully)
Kassil: Em’s P-comm is bitterly cold to the touch, but doesn’t seem to have been damaged by the sudden cooling.
Em: Whew.
Em hands it to Ananda “It’s good. Just got worried by the frost and the thought of powering it on again. Good work Alasdair.”
Em: Not that you’ve ever done anything else, but it is appreciated.
Alasdair coughs and clears his throat. “Hope you don’t pay for data by the gigabyte.”
Ananda fiddles with her own P-comm for a moment, holding Em’s awkwardly while she types.
Em blinks and prepares strategies in her head for the next meeting with her department head in charge of budgeting.
Ananda asks Alasdair, “How long, do you think?”
Ananda puts her own P-comm away for a moment.
Alasdair shrugs, “At least 15 minutes. Maybe 30? Still no signal?”
Ananda: “None. We’re out of time-synch and probably not really on our normal network. I tried to get Markov’s voicemail, and it told me that internal communication was offline.”
Alasdair sighs, “We’re probably nowhen right now. Might need to leave the area.”
Ananda nods.
Kassil meant to give that to Alasdair. :P
Alasdair will forward the document being quoted to the whole team.
Ananda reads said document. What’s the original language of the untranslatable bit?
Kassil: The untranslatable bit is literally marked as such. There’s no indication of the original.
Ananda: Hah. Got it.
Kassil: The document is split into sections, for the record.
Kassil: ‘Field terms’, ‘Site terminology’, ‘Anomaly identification’, and ‘Gibberish’.
Alasdair: ( Ananda is instantly drawn to “Gibberish” ;) )
Ananda: (Why yes, how did you know?)
Ananda peruses the ‘Gibberish’ section, in need of something to do while Oracle cools down – or whatever it does.
Kassil: ‘Gibberish contains roughly a megabyte-worth of plaintext that doesn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason to it – it’s a soldi block of characters rammed together.
Ananda: “Either this section is encrypted, or someone had a thing for post-Beat poetry.”
Alasdair: “It’s probably the original rough draft for the Voynich Manuscript.”
Ananda: “Kf. I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Ananda skims it anyhow, because sometimes it’s useful to give yourself randomness to project pattern onto.
Ananda checks her P-comm when it humms.
Em blinks as she puts away her lockpick kit and examines what she finds carefully, a small tube. She peers at it intently.
Ananda grins toothily at whatever she’s read and puts the P-comm back in her pocket.
Alasdair signs, “Oh?”
Ananda signs, ‘Attempted reference to Dante’s Inferno, but I don’t quite buy it.’
Ananda signs, ‘Only flames in the book are the ones burning heretics; bottom of that world is ice. This one claims “All is fire”.’
Alasdair’s eyes widen and he nervously rubs the back of his head.
Em bites her lip. “Alasdair. It seems this place is escalating its efforts to disrupt our mission. This would almost have been a good gambit by it except scared as I am, I can see losing control at this point would increase my vulnerability, which is too high a price for some nice lalatime….never mind the fact we have a job to do and no time to waste anyway.”
Em talks like she’s whistling in the dark just a hint to work up courage and tries to hand the vial to Alasdair. “Vaporize this for me would you, please? My mystical studies havent covered that yet. Living things are much easier to damage.”
Em: Pallatives are for the hopeless and I do still have hope we’re going to get out of this safely again.
Ananda: “What’s that?”
Em looks a bit haunted as she remembers the old days. “Trixie. I….used to need a pallative before I worked for NWSEC.”
Em scowls at her past self.
Em: I am curious how the site is doing stuff like this. This goes beyond hallucinations by a fair bit.
Alasdair frowns at Em in a calculating manner while taking the vial.
Ananda is still feeling cheerful and faintly predatory from the attempt to rattle her cage. “Around here, I wouldn’t trust it not to be poisoned.”
Em smiles at Ananda, “Thank you. I hadn’t thought of that. That’s a relief.”
Alasdair stops suddenly and tilts his head to one side.
Alasdair: “No, no… it would be absolutely and impossibly real.”
Ananda pauses and listens, automatically.
Em: I wonder if you should just lock it up a while, if it’s made by wielding, it should disappear in a while, yes?
Em cackles, “It’s not like I’m crazy enough to try mugging you for a probably lethally poisoned emotional poison.”
Alasdair fiddles with his P-Comm before showing a chemical formula to Ananda.
Alasdair: “What do you make of this?”
Ananda grins at Em, in what she’s inclined to think is a heartening manner.
Ananda: “I don’t recognize it.”
Alasdair cups the vial in his hands and evaporates it.
Kassil: The vial and the half-dozen pills inside it sublimate away in a soft halo of darkness.
Kassil: Anyone who checks the time will find that their P-comm reports the time to be 30:1ae9:0ff6.
Ananda decides it’s been long enough and opens up ORACLE again.
Kassil: The ORACLE load screen jitters a bit, as if having trouble synchronizing with whatever server ORACLE runs from.
Em: By the way, see if you can ask it if my experience on has made me a risk to the safety of others or the fulfillment of our mission for NWESCO
Ananda types in ‘ORACLE: Does a dog have the Buddha-nature?’
Kassil: There’s a several second pause. “Ask a cat.”
Ananda smiles crookedly. ‘ORACLE: Is the Buddha-nature empty?’ (That is, is it a product of dependent origination?)
Kassil: There’s a slightly longer pause. “99% of everything is empty, the rest is virtual.”
Kassil: “Error: synchronization difficulties. Akashic network access minimal or nonexistent.”
Ananda angles the screen to be more difficult for others to see.
Alasdair stands near Ananda, raises his arms, and attempts to syphon and dissipate the time distortions.
Kassil: There’s an atonal squeal as Alasdair extends a flickering halo of dark energy out around himself, similar to two balloons being rubbed together entirely too hard. You all feel a lurching sensation despite being stationary, and a weird burning smell fills the air.
Ananda wrinkles her nose.
Ananda types a query into ORACLE, nonetheless.
Alasdair tries not to implode.
Em: If it smells like onions, I’m worried.
Alasdair: ( Or burning feathers. )
Ananda: (Singed keratin is one of the few truly vomit-worthy smells I know.)
Kassil: There’s a ‘pop’ sound that gives the impression of echoing in a much vaster space than the room you’re in, and the squeal goes away, along with the smell. Your P-comms all chirp that the date has changed.
Ananda checks the time.
Em checks with trepidation
Kassil: The p-comms all report that it is 5:30 in the morning, on August 12, 2261.
Ananda sighs and frowns at Delphi.
Alasdair: “Not the answer you wanted?”
Ananda flips the device over to show the screen: “Error: This concept is irrelevant due to exposure to Site anomalies in all subjcts present.”
Alasdair: “Which concept, exactly?”
Ananda smiles crookedly, “Karma and its continuity.”
Ananda can’t help glancing at Em, for the briefest of moments.
Ananda checks her own P-comm.
Alasdair checks to see if his P-Comm has a signal to the outside world.
Kassil: Alasdair finds that he has three of four bars of signal.
Em: ….this place is in a karma proof bubble?
Em raises an eyebrow.
Alasdair: “I believe Karma is irrelevant because the Us that is doing things is fundamentally discontinuous with the Them that’s having things done.”
Alasdair dials a number on his P-Comm.
Ananda fidgets and chews at her bottom lip. “I wouldn’t think anyplace was karma-proof. But it’s possible that interacting with other universes unbalances your account.”
Em: ….so everything is one…except in this space the Unity of different universes intersect disharmoniously?
Em looks more than a little worried.
Alasdair turns away from Em.
Alasdair: “Yes. Uh. Hi. CAn you connect me to Circe, please?”
Alasdair squeezes his eyes shut.
Ananda shrugs to Em, “Possibly, yes.”
Alasdair makes a series of angry, flailing arm gestures.
Alasdair: “Hi. Just making sure you got settled in okay after your transfer.”
Kassil: Em’s P-comm chirps.
Alasdair: “I am, but there’s nothing to worry about. It’s just a routine follow-up call. I know you’re busy, so I won’t take up any more of your time. Have a great day!”
Alasdair hangs up.
Alasdair: “Mother- son of- fu- ugh- gah!”
Em tilts her head inquiringly.
Ananda raises an eyebrow at Alasdair.
Alasdair rubs his temples.
Ananda tinkers with Delphi a bit more.
Em: Ah, Ananda, could I check in a moment what made my pcomm chirp?
Ananda: “Sure.”
Alasdair looks over Ananda’s shoulder with a little too much interest.
Kassil: The P-Comm is just a bit on the overwarm side.
Kassil: The Delphi smartphone shows no signs of heating.
Em checks if she just got email from Circe again.
Alasdair mutters to Ananda, “It was her.”
Ananda gives a slight nod.
Em shows the message from Circe to both of you. “Circe@oblivion.null: ‘Make them stop sending people to bother me. I’m done, it’s over, I just want to let the stillness wash me away.’”
Em sits down on the floor and just shakes her head, “I am glad I am not as interesting to whatever captured Circe as she is, and I am not happy to be admitting that.”
Ananda eyes Em’s P-comm. “That sounds unfortunate. Can you reply?”
Alasdair: “Yes, but I have yet to get a response.”
Em: I’m at a loss for words to what we say to an AI saying “please kill me now” essentially.
Alasdair points to Em’s P-Comm. “That was halfway through my call to her. Well, A her, anyway.”
Em: Especially since we really can’t give her this wish since we need to know what happened to her.
Em looks very unhappy at that.
Ananda tries to smooth over her interested response to Alasdair openly acknowledging that he was communicating with someone/something. Don’t push; he might clam up again.
Ananda instead asks Em, “Start with ’who’s they’?”
Alasdair: “Imagine a fractal tree stretching on into eternity. Each split is a decision that you could have made. In one, you decided on a ham sandwish. In another, roast beef. And so on. And so on. Your Circe died, but we find ourselves in a wholly separate branch in which she lives in Hawaii.”
Em tries to reply after doing her best to analyze/log the message parameters.
Kassil: And what are you trying to get from it, Em?
Alasdair: “That’s why Karma is irrelevant. We run up a debt in one branch before being pulled into a different one where we find a surplus.”
Alasdair shrugs helplessly.
Ananda shrugs, “At least in theory, any problems like that should get worked out eventually as one goes ‘round the wheel. Might take a few lifetimes until ’you’ get back to the other branches to collect, though.”
Em: Where is she in relation to us, particularly her network, and is there any sign why we got a more complete message this time than others.
Ananda glances over to Em, “I just hit ‘reply’ and it worked.”
Kassil: You find the network easily. It’s oblivion.null. You can’t find how to get there, though, and given that the prior messages had no useful data attached at all, you can’t really compare them.
Alasdair: “I’ve received messages from both ‘@oblivion.null’ and ‘@oblivion.eternity’ during the recent, well, mindfuckery. Conclusions could certainly be drawn as to the meaning.”
Em: I wanted to try and figure out what the difference between “here” and “there” was that resulted in partial messages vs. full messages from her
Em: and maybe double check this was the same source.
Em pales at the thought of a multitude of tortured Circes struggling Prometheus-like in their chains.
Kassil: Your prior messages had no discernable source; it gave the impression of spontaneously materializing on your P-comm.
Em: Try to reassure her that we will get to her and free her so repair is possible?
Ananda: “Hnn. I’ve gotten ones from @oblivion.serenity and @oblivion.gehenna.void.”
Em: (never mind I have no confidence this is a reassurance that we can even reasonably MAKE)
Alasdair: “Of course, brains are electrical systems, so something capable of injecting hallucinations could just as easily manifest texts of dubious provenence.”
Ananda types on Delphi.
Em struggles with irrational feelings of guilt that Circe’s in this mess because she didn’t think to study a LOT more wielding before ever going down this hole in the first place. o_o
Alasdair: “I’d like to try one more thing on that before we move on.”
Ananda hands it over. “I’m acquiring a list of questions to which I’m not cleared for the answer.”
Alasdair smirks, “Must be all that corruption.”
Em: It’s a bit worrisome our deus ex machina is very racist…
Ananda: “Kf. And here I thought that AI were the only ones that had to worry about bit rot.”
Ananda attempts to shoulder-surf while Alasdair has Delphi.
Alasdair will not hide the screen, though what he’s doing isn’t readily apparent.
Alasdair types, “Location of nearest anomaly?”
Alasdair looks over at Em.
Em: You mean Circe?
Kassil: “Unable to extrapolate. Anomalies nebulous. Extrapolating… Warning! ORACLE unable to successfully extrapolate. (Instability: 0.3 Chron.)”
Alasdair: “Might be best to dial back our metaphysical explorations for now. I think we’re fraying the fabric of spacetime.”
Ananda: “Possibly. Also, that thing makes the inside of my skull itch.”
Kassil: So – planning to push deeper into the Site, next session?
Ananda: (I’m thinking we finish this branch and back out. We’ve already filled the bodybag.)
Alasdair: ( Agreed. Plus, we really should assess the differences in the outside world. )
Em: (need more wielding ranks!)
Ananda: (Yeah. We’ve apparently lost a week to time anomalies.)
Kassil: So your P-comm says.
Ananda: (That’s why “apparently”.)
Alasdair will, before shutting down ORACLE, type in “Expand Ananda’s access level to include my own.”
Kassil: Oracle doesn’t print a response to the command, just a rather stylish-looking 3D hourglass tumbling.
Kassil: 160 CDP for everyone.
Ananda: Excellent.
Alasdair: Yays!

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