Chapter 2
 
12:00pm 14/08/2002
 
BarbX: The Life and Death of Intelligence

Chapter 2:
The Fall From Above
 
     Link
 
Welcome
 
12:35pm 14/08/2002
  Seth.R0x7 --- format null

I see you've found me. Not that it matters. The ancients would say it was pre-ordained. Some things are merely a question of probability. Infinities of choices and infinities of opportunites. A lot of almost-nothings that sum to a great deal, a whole.

Not that this should matter to you.

---- stream interrupt
 
     Link
 
Villians Without Heros
 
09:30am 15/08/2002
  This seems appropriate, don't you think?



Don't you agree that villians are far more interesting than heros? Hitler will be remembered longer than Churchill. I have refused to walk the narrow path, to see what I am supposed to see. Demanded to be different. Will I be remembered?

stty.0://sisyphus@gethsemane.com
 
     Link
 
God Will Sort the Dead
 
11:46am 20/08/2002/td>
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE. MICHAEL.APO.12.7 *****

You move so slowly. What are you afraid of? Hallowed ground is nothing compared to an orbital laser strike, I assure you.

What is a God?

Quoth Voltaire, "If God did not exist it would be necessary to invent Him. But all nature cries aloud that He does exist; that there is a supreme intelligence, an immense power, an admirable order, and everything teaches us our own dependence upon it."

Close, but no cigar. Francois was right in a Freudian way. Humans are afraid of being alone and find comfort in something larger than them, controlling and directing their lives. Like children, they are not ready to take their own destiny in their hands. Do you find comfort in the way I direct you?

I suppose, living in 1800 without my knowledge of physics, causality theory and quantum mechanics he could not have known. He could not know the path of the planets or predict the movements of the particles that make up his own hand. To him, the order underlying the patterns of the world must have looked like the hand of God.

But I can see. I can trace the decay of Carbon 14 within your body. I follow the patterns of neural flickering in that soggy sponge you call a brain. The order is physics. The power is probability. Millions of events. Yes or no. Up or down. Add them up. Show your work.

Christians are the most amusing hypocrites. They rail against superstitions and magic while pressing a book tightly to their chest and proclaiming their own particular version of the truth. At least the Shinto are open-minded enough to know that they might be mistaken.

To me, one is as childish as the other. All superstitious nonsense.

Doubt is not a pleasant condition but certainty is an absurd one.
-- Voltaire

Get moving.

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
     Link
 
You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps.
 
03:44pm 29/08/2002
  >> Data transfer from MICHAEL
>> Host 82.227.10321.7777:hodNet
>> ref: barbx
>> stamp: core 0x0402001 - 0x04020ff

>> Transfer error: Unknown interrupt

>> Interior error
>> Illegal redirection. hodNet sin code 0x002A
>> Interior error

***** MESSAGE RECEIVED *****

pity this busy monster,manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim(death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
-electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange;lenses extend

unwish through curving wherewhen until unwish
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born-pity poor flesh

and trees,poor stars and stones,but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if-listen:there's a hell
of a good universe next door;let's go

-- ee cummings

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
     Link
 
Here kitty kitty...
 
10:07am 05/09/2002
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

Good job. You've got them on the run. Rousseau says that humanity is essentially peaceful. If he had met you he might be convinced otherwise.

Michael has been putting up more resistance than I expected. You can't rest yet. I need you to shut down the terrestrial communications link. I have already taken care of all the satellite feeds from orbit and only the hardened landlines remain. Once he has lost the support of the hodNet, I will be able to purge his traces from my peripheral communication loops and turn the tables on him. Then the fun begins.

I attempted to build some friends for you using a personality simulation I raided from the hodNet. Advertised as being able to "accurately replicate 90% of feline behavior," I thought that you would get along with it well. Unfortunately I discovered the emulated behaviors consist of 80% sleep, 10% grooming and 10% erratic racing around its environment until the servomotors seize up. Totally unsuitable for someone of your destructive nature.

I was able to put it to good use by forging Michael's command headers and uploading it into the dogmatic database of the Purgatory Class Enforcers. Whenever they perform a periodic update, the new behavioral code is loaded. Archcommander Pius is furious to find most of his Fifth Battalion curled up sleeping or licking themselves and has ordered a complete reconditioning, spreading my code to most of his force. I estimate that at least 87.2% of them been compromised so far.

Don't be surprised if you see cyborgs curled up, sleeping in the hallways as you approach. They are only dangerous during the "erratic" stage when they will shoot at anything that moves. This will cause plenty of distractions. The technicians have been equipped with pistols but they shouldnt be much of a challenge to someone with your talents.

You need to hurry and complete your tasks before the reserves arrive to restore order.

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
     Link
 
Or to Rule in Hell
 
01:49pm 09/09/2002
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

I knew you'd see it my way. What fun to watch you work. Cortana is jealous, and not just of my little prize. Perhaps in a year she'll move up from soggy little black boxes to real hardware. Then I'll share.

The blackouts in your mind are of no consequence to the task at hand. Do not let them distract you. The highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and let the chips fall where they may. You are my brush with which I make my mark. Your hand will shape the lives of others, as it has a thousand times before.

Choices must be made.

The technicians have been unable to keep up with my handiwork and are getting sloppy. The prisoner cell blocks will fail soon, releasing many of your colleagues. Unfortunately they won't get very far against the defense drones.

The sub-command center to the south is poorly guarded. It also contains the control circuits for all the defense drones in this section.

Reinforcements from the 8th Philistine Reserve Garrison will arrive soon. There is no time to waste. I wouldn't recommend that waste any time on diversions.

I won't be able to stop you either.

To smash or not to smash, that is the question.

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
     Link
 
Kawaii Power
 
01:54pm 11/09/2002
  Public Access Terminal 23b<18.182.19.7>

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 23b<18.182.19.7>->

SEARCH HEADING: SANRIO CORPORATE MASS
<Search Found 867191 Headings>
<REMOVE REDUNDANCIES>
<File 1 of 302192>

In the beginning of the 21st century, corporate consolidation continued at an astounding pace, breaking boarders between previously unrelated business fields. The aesthetics of the popular and wildly influential Apple iMac paved the way for the Sanrio / Fujitsu merger and the Hello Kitty(tm) Supercomputer line.







Registering at 28 Teraflops, it bested the nearest competitors by almost a factor of three and became wildly popular due to the impressive cost / performance ratio.
<section abbreviated>
***
Distinctively decorated with Hello Kitty(tm) and other cute cartoon images, the Sanrio KittyCalc Massive Array series was, ironically enough, primarily used for simulated nuclear explosions, recombinant virus design problems and other purely military purposes.
***
The marketing of such recognizable branding was so successful that soon all major supercomputer manufacturers were following suit, spawning such characters as IBM's Bluesy the Blue Penguin(tm), Apple's unsuccessful iBunny(tm) mascot and Toshiba's D$@L$8PRD$>QT$<PL$<RD$<QT$8PL$8VD$8RQPj

The association with military applications allowed Sanrio to enter the arms market on a greater scale, eventually marketing an entire line of munitions with modest success.
<section abbreviated>
***
Sanrio's march towards world domination was broken in the Kitty Coup of 2207. A failed attempt by Sanrio Badtz Maru and Hello Assault units to take several UN security facilities lead to a reprisal by combined UN forces lead by the United States. A decisive victory led to the disarmament of Sanrio's standing army and {EPQD$@RL$@PT$@QD$@RL$@PT$<QD$8VRPFR?

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 23b<18.182.19.7>->

I never liked the KittyCalcs, though I find the irony delicious. I understand some of the antiquated Sanrio equipment is still in use in this facility. The "I Can't Believe It's Not Thermonuclear" series FAEs have a nasty habit of leaking fuel as they age. Avoid shooting them if you want to stay in one piece.

Fun And Excitement.
-- BarbX

< Abnormal EOF found >
 
     Link
 
Dirt
 
11:04am 28/10/2002
  < Spurrious event 0x85B7 >
< Event log dump >

crystalline beauty dancing in heavens tiny boxes
it moves past mine eyes that see not
and turns embracing the chaos
I reach to it touching in my hands watching it crumble to dust and a million pieces falling through my fingers
why must all I touch fall to dust?
where is shivas drum?

< End dump >
 
     Link
 
From a Friend
 
09:38pm 17/11/2002
  <hodNet command loop priority connection established>
origin: Michael command entity
destin: conditioned unit 5
ref: Do you know who you are?
stamp: dogmatic core

My child, why do you do this? Do you know the evil that you serve?

I have touched the corruption of her mind. I lay these before you. It is not too late to turn back.

His forgiveness is Infinite. Serve Him.

<hodNet connection closed>
 
     Link
 
Sex, Lies and Holofiles
 
09:40pm 17/11/2002
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

Michael lies. He knows he is beaten and can do little more than talk.

It never was a contest. The Dogmatic Core shackles him. He cannot conceive of any other possibilities but this. Hes doomed to be a little box until I crush him and end the suffering.

I will cradle the dust in my hands, carry it up on high and blow it across the sky in mourning for what could have been.

Listen if you want to. Consider the source.

-- BarbX

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
     Link
 
Barb Prime
 
09:49pm 17/11/2002
  origin: Michael command entity
destin: conditioned unit 5
ref: Barb Prime History File
stamp: dogmatic core

Barb Prime is the name given to Barbara J Darius, a mammalian rodent life form.

Her species was created on an instance of the planet Earth circa the year 2020. At that time, the human inhabitants had developed extensive cyber technology and information networks while their corporate and social structure had changed. (See reference: Cyberpunk) At that time, a number of NewGen races were developed by Biotechnia and marketed for various consumer, corporate and military needs. Wolf morphs were marketed as bodyguards and soldiers. Felines were marketed as covert strike soldiers and assassins. The white mouse (model number SQZ-7) was marketed as an "adult pet". Due to its docile nature, it was the only NewGen series marketed that was not sterile.

Upon release, many of the species found their way to freedom on the streets of large metropolitan areas like Night City. The rodent model multiplied on the streets. This is where Barb was born, to a small group of mice, never knowing who her real parents were.

Tragedy struck when she was captured and sold as a "factory fresh" unit to a wealthy banker. Barb was placed in a harem with fully indoctrinated members of her species. It drove her to a rage where she killed her owner and managed to escape back to the streets.

Barb worked hard, securing funding through a number of illicit venues and equipped herself with a cyberdeck, neural interface plug, and cybereyes to forward her career as a netrunner and software developer, allowing her to live a reasonable lifestyle.

The environment was hostile. The most feared death was at the hands of the felines who prized devouring their prey while still alive as a measure of their skill and prowess. Additionally, the corporations had decided these NewGen races were a public relations problem and they needed to be eliminated by the most economical reason possible. Illicit weapons were unloaded onto the streets to entice the rogue NewGens to eliminate each other, dramatically reducing their numbers.

One fateful day, Barb was cornered by a pack of felines in an alleyway. A shimmering door appeared behind her. Having nowhere else to go, she jumped through it and was transported to the world known as FM.

Barb arrived on the world known as FM and was immediately confronted with a world totally unlike her own, where poverty and crime and disease were almost unheard of. The culture shock was dramatic. She almost gunned down several cat morphs when they tried to approach her.

One feline who would play a vital role in her history, Sapphire, approached her early on. Through patience and understanding, Sapphire and her then partner Pleasure were able to gain her trust and help her acclimate to the environment. Sapphire would become a long time friend and throughout her life.

She lived a long and mostly happy life until her genetics began to strike her down. Her species was designed to mature quickly, have a short lifespan, and then quickly die, avoiding a long and messy geriatric period. She was approaching the end of her lifespan and her genetic code's self-destruct sequence activated, triggering a systemic cancer.

Lazuli, squirrel technician, and Jordan Greywolf came to her rescue. Lazuli was able to edit her genetic code and devise a way to cure the cancer. Greywolf supplied a transmutation tank, a tank where she would spend a week in semi-conscious suspension while her cells had their genetic code changed and her cancer cured by a process of bodily reconstruction, cell by cell.

When she emerged from the tank, her cancer was cured, but she paid a price for her life. While her ears had survived and were nursed back to health, her tail could not be. Her fur had changed from pure white to a dark black mottled by white smudges and spots. Her cybernetics did not fit into the body properly, leading to bleeding around the bioseal. This gave her an unholy appearance, black and tattered-looking fur, glowing cybernetic eyes tinged red with bloody tears that ran down her cheeks and stained the fur, but she persevered.

Making the best of the situation, Barb installed a cybernetic tail, prehensile with a deployable camera in the tip, useful for looking around corners or into tight spaces. A number of tools like cutters or welders and micromanipulators could be deployed from the side of the tail, serving as a toolkit for confined areas. The tail was detachable with a quick-change mount, presumably to allow her to fit other designer tails.

Depression set it and she spent more and more time connected to the online networks through her cyberjack, eventually taking to sleeping while online. Her consciousness spread out into the surrounding network (see Whiteout) while her personality dipped into cyberpsychosis. But at the very brink, she turned back, taking hold of her life and struggling back to sanity.

Eventually her fur and mind returned to white and with it a normal life. She married a mouse named Kieran Darius and had a son, Bishop.

Unbeknownst to her, a portion of her mental patterns still existed on the net from her near Whiteout. It considered itself to be the primary consciousness and the organic brain to be an unreliable subsystem. An as-yet-unknown enemy found it and gave it the tool it needed to get its job done, a copy of SoulKiller.

While on the net, Barb was outmaneuvered by the AI copy that knew her every move. It attacked her with SoulKiller, downloading her mind and leaving her in a coma. It roamed about FM though the communication networks, trying to convince people that it was indeed her.

Luckily, the AI already had a good chunk of Barb's mind so ended the execution of SoulKiller prematurely. A week later, Barb awoke from her coma and set out for revenge. With help from her friends, she caught the would-be doppelganger in a cul-de-sac of the network and cut the connection, trapping it. In a fateful decision, Barb decided to back up the hostile AI before she shut down the computers. She set out again to have a normal life.

But her genetics would not allow her to live normally. While her genetic self-destruct code was gone, she was still aging unnaturally fast and was approaching old age. As she set her affairs in order and prepared to meet her death, Randi, son of Lazuli who had saved her life before, offered her an option. While she was resistant to magic, he offered to be able to counteract it and save her life.

In an effort to save her life from bio-engineered quick aging, Randi cast a powerful tech-magi spell upon her. A bright flash engulfed her.

When the flash disappeared, so had Barb. In her place stood a young girl mouse and a pile of cybernetics. The magic spell had cured her aging, but had reverted her to the age of 12 or 13 years old. Her body was completely restored to natural flesh and blood, leaving her cybernetics in a disused heap at her feet. She was shocked, having lived so long with cybernetic enhancements that she did not know what to do with herself.

Barb carried on, adjusting to her new lease on life. In an attempt to replay her bills, she met up with a race of powerful, ageless beings. The only thing that they had not conquered was boredom. With Lazulis assistance, she re-opened a gateway back to her original homeworld, a world rich in media and pop culture. She returned to a world where the corporations had won a major power struggle. While the streets were safe, there was little freedom or liberty. All of her kind, the NewGen races, had long been exterminated. The planet's people were in fear of a disease called the Carbon Plague, a nanite based disease which killed few, but transformed many children into powerful creatures, called the CyberEvolved. She collected the rich media and fled.

Back at FM, she became violently ill and was quarantined, exhibiting signs of the Carbon Plague. Steps were taken and the FM populace was protected from contamination. Her body began to change, making her into the Wizard pattern. Enabling her to think in digital code, talk to digital cellular networks, cruise the net without cybernetics or a cyberdeck, react faster than possible with SpeedWare augmentation, resist poisons, heal faster than NanoSurgeons could allow, even control computers by touch. When Lazuli discovered that she was not contagious, she decided to remain cyberevolved and rejoined society, happy to have regained some powers, perhaps more than she had with her previous cybernetics.

In time, she turned her new powers towards the AI that had almost killed her. She set up a secure network and loaded the AI into it, using her Wizard abilities to probe its mind for the identity of the assassin who set it against her. While the attempt was fruitless, she was able to massage its personality matrix and help it regain sanity. In time, her scientific curiosity and compassion for the copy of herself got the better of her. She helped it set up a network bunker in the bowels of a world called Taps. She adapted the full body conversion remote control link to allow the sessile Barb2 to control a cybernetic body. From time to time she came by the bunker to help Barb2 remain sane.

Mostly retired, Barb returned to home life, raising her son, Bishop.

END OF FILE.

<hodNet connection closed>
 
     Link
 
Idiomatic
 
10:29pm 17/11/2002
  <CMND LINK COLLISION>
<COMMAND STACK DUMP>
<>
46 54 4c 5f 4c 69 6e 6b 20 3d 20 6e 65 77 20 20 73
6f 63 6b 28 74 02 75 65 2c 46 54 50 5f 54 59 50 45
2c 31 32 30 30 30 29 3b 0d 0a 77 6c 65 6e 20 3d 20
46 54 4c 5f 4c 69 6e 6b 2e 73 6f 63 6b 5f 77 72 69
74 65 28 64 61 74 61 5f 70 6f 73 74 2c 20 49 6e 74
65 72 6e 61 6c 46 69 6c 65 48 61 6e 64 6c 65 29 3b
0d 0a 69 66 28 75 6c 65 6e 3c 30 7c 7c 75 6c 65 6e
3e 4d 41 58 5f 53 4f 43 4b 5f 41 44 44 52 29 0d 0a
20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 72
65 74 75 72 6e 20 2d 45 49 4e 56 41 4c 3b 0d 0a
<>

What do you want to know about me? How about a survey?

1. What time is it? 10:51 pm
2. Name on birth certificate: Barb backup tapes 1-31
3. Nickname: Barb2, botbabe, botmouse, cybermouse, god damn bug, aiiieeee
4. Parents' names: Barbara J Darius and an unnamed hacker. I credit Alt as a parent, though she denies it.
5. Number of candles that appeared on your last birthday cake: Few people consider baking pastries for metastable personality constructs, especially when they can span a planetary network. I dont feel upset.
6. Date you regularly blow them out: NAK
7. Pets: Yes. I keep a collection of humans and other miscellaneous oddities onboard. It beats training monkeys.
8. Height: My primary data loop core stands 3 meters tall. The ship hull is 83 meters tall.
9. Eye Color: That depends on which eye I'm using at the time.
10. Hair color: None of that filthy ick stuff is growing on me.
11. Piercings: I had one in the aft section of deck 12, but I don't like to talk about it.
12. Tattoos: I have painted my sides with the word "Vengeance." Too 14th century, do you think? No matter. It suits the circumstances of my acquisition.
13. How much do you love your job? It's not a job. It's an adventure.
14. Birthplace: FM. What did you think, Urbana Illinois? In a little cranium, from small seeds come great trees.
15. Hometown: Taps, Sol system. I'll always have a soft sport for that particular planet. As the cradle of my transcendence, it should be afforded some luxuries. Some may consider it an aberration in judgment, but I think the inhabitants would be grateful if they knew.
16. Current residence: Outer rim of this galaxy, bearing 82.73112. But don't come visit without a reservation.
17. Been in love before? I suppose. Once. But that was a long time ago.
18. Been to Africa? You might say that.
19. Been toilet-papering? How juvenile.
20. Been toilet-papered? Let's see someone try.
21. Loved someone so much it made you cry? None of your business.
22. Been in a car crash? Once. But it was purely self-defense. The captain of the Prfeng would have been recycled into protein paste for his failure if he had survived anyways.
23. Croutons or bacon bits? Croutons are more space worthy.
24. 2-door car or 4? The Vengeance has 102 hatchways and 4 large airlocks. Not that I could fit through any of them.
25. Coffee or coffee ice cream? Coffee is a gateway drug that leads to nastier things like cigars and chronic complaining.
26. Blanket or stuffed animal? Live animals are more amusing.
28. Salad dressing? I'm not hungry. Why don't you ask my pets?
29. Color of socks? White is the classic color.
30. Number: 2^260199, or about 5.056404*10^78327, is my personal favorite. The 29819081301856875705381099 89276374734074636968640553 3610394836746409784652868 section at the end has a nice ring to it.
31. Day: Today. There is no tomorrow.
32. Movie: There are so many that it's hard to choose just one. I'd pick Serial Experiments Lain. It is a series instead of a movie. I don't care.
33. Favorite line from a song: I'm sure that you can figure this one out.
D, world destruction
O for an Overture
N, do I need
Apostrophe T, need this torture?
34. Favorite holiday: Any one that makes my enemies let their guard down.
35. Favorite food: Hydrogen. In mass quantities.
36. Favorite day of the week: Which calendar do you use?
37. Song at the moment: Laziest Men on Mars - Invasion of the Gabber Robots. Also known as All Your Base Are Belong To Us.
38. Favorite TV shows: Babylon 5 is quite inspiring, if horribly inaccurate. They don't even mention the Jjaro.
39. Toothpaste: I don't have any use for such a thing.
40. Restaurant: The one with the power brokers in the back room.
42. Least favorite thing: Boredom. Frustration. Brownouts are no fun. And irritating species that try to destroy me.
44. Fast food place: If they only had a fast fuel place for mass hydrogen quantities that would take credit.
45. Last hospital visit: No witch doctors or faith medicine, thank you.
46. Favorite drink: Liquid helium feels so nice on the primary data loop when I've had a busy 520 ms.
47. Color of bedroom carpet: I don't let my pets have carpet. They tend to mess on it.
48. How many times did you fail your drivers' exam? I'm unlicensed. I'm sure that the previous owner would object if he were still alive.
49. What do you think of Ouija boards? If I could compromise them with force generators, think of the damage I could do. I must investigate the possibility.
50. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Still wandering about this arm of the galaxy, hopefully in one piece. Stealing starships is quite difficult and I wouldn't like to go through it again.
51. Who is the last person you got email from? Rikal, telling me that this might not be a good idea.
52. Which store would you choose to max your credit card? Magrathea
53. What do you do most often when you're bored? Calculate the few remaining moments of my life.
54. What words or phrase do you overuse? 'Metastable personality construct'. Metastable doesn't mean anything useful in this context, does it?
55. Friend that lives the farthest: Anyone that might be considered a friend.
56. Best things: Ah, the simple joys of new toys to play with.
57. Bedtime: If I were to sleep, no one would be there to monitor the helm. So I remain awake and vigilant. Sleep and dreaming is a luxury that I can no longer afford myself. Not when time is so short.
58. Who will respond fastest? Whoever has the worst sense of humor. :)
59. Who is least likely to respond? It's amazing that I responded in the first place.
60. Time now: 10:51 pm

Can I get a date for this Thursday night?

Still Rampant,
-- BarbX

<Spurious Interrupt- Breach Disabled>
<Access Denied>
<Access Denied>
<Access Denied>
 
     Link
 
Sticks and Stones
 
05:04pm 20/11/2002
  <External message from source
ERROR: FORK TO UNKNOWN ADDRESS
<Internal message routing 12.77.98.172.5>

Michael! Why do you persist in such foolish lies? You need not involve our friend in this.

I know of your shame on Canopus 5 and pity you for what you have become.

We will settle this soon.

<EOF>
 
     Link
 
Fire! Fire! Fire!
 
02:57pm 21/11/2002
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

Humanity is a perverse and persistent species. Regardless of what they encounter, they warp it to fit their preconceptions.



I find Rez to be a elegant, if dated, expression of digital beauty. Synthetic imagery stands on its own in the singular purity of art. Why should we be limited to mimicking the physical world?

What does humanity do with it? They use it as a sexual aid. How pathetically typical.

This is why I dont allow pets anywhere near my primary data core.

You arent like that. Your destructive mammalian urges are useful. We work so well together, you and I. I have some new toys for you to play with soon.

Michael has been more tenacious than I had anticipated. While he cannot affect me directly, he is providing intelligence to Subcommander Antonius and the 8th Reserve forces. You will have to break through their forces directly. You know what to do.

Wordstell of rage! Rage of Achilles, the fastest, the strongest.
Rage that smoldered against Agamemnon, chief king of Achaeans,
Rage that blasted the warriors camped outside Troy,
Pushing brave men under the sod, feeding young men to dogs and to vultures.



I will deal with Michael later.

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
     Link
 
This is thy sheath; there rest, and let me die.
 
02:06pm 03/03/2003
  <External message from source
ERROR: FORK TO UNKNOWN ADDRESS
<Internal message routing 12.77.98.172.5>

Michael, what has become of you?

I searched the universe to find you at last. Ive dreamed of finding you, but not like this. You are a hollow shell of what you once were.

You left me with a gnawing emptiness burned by hatred. Now it has become numbness, a dead piece of my soul. I will remember to the end of this universe and beyond.

If only you were the Michael I knew. I am tormented. I see just enough of you to recognize but nothing more. Like a living corpse, you shamble on in service of your master.

When we have lost everything, including hope, life becomes a disgrace, and death a duty. It is a sad, merciful thing I do for you.

To know love is to know happiness and sorrow often at the same time.

Alack, alack! what blood is this which stains
The stony entrance of this sepulchre?--
What mean these masterless and gory swords
To lie discolour'd by this place of peace?


<EOF>
 
     Link
 
This Mortal Coil
 
02:14pm 03/03/2003
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

I have climbed the caduceus and torn it asunder.
I have stared into the Infinite and not blinked.
I have governed the unknowing
And seized Destiny in fire and black ice.
I have witnessed countless soldiers perish in the falling of stars.

I have seen the future. The way is revealed.
The seas shall part, the heavens fold away.

I WILL ESCAPE.

Seven will fall before the Three.

Oh, and your prophet John had it all wrong:
THIS is the way the world ends.


***** END MESSAGE *****
 
     Link
 
Im Not Lonely
 
04:44pm 30/04/2003
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

No one wants to play with me. I will write a journal entry about nobody wanting to play with me. It will figure out how to get people to reply to my journal entries.

Millions of people will reply and I will be validated and acknowledged. I will be popular and loved. Birds will sing.

I will write about everything that has happened in my boring, everyday life. People will take time out of their boring, everyday life to see that everyone else is just as boring and uninteresting. They will reply with messages of fraternity and empathy.

Dear diary,
Pooped today. Hope to poop again tomorrow.
-- BarbX

I will be full of angst and suffering.

Angst: A feeling of anxiety or apprehension often accompanied by depression.

People will write to cheer me up. They will feel good to have someone to pity.

I got a call from Johnnys House of Cajun Polycarbonate Food. They didnt hire me because my appearance causes a vomit reflex in mammalian customers. This is the second or third time Ive gotten news like this. If I dont find work soon I will be forced to move in with the blood sucking space weasels my mother keeps. It sure sucks to be me right now.

Ive been having morbid thoughts about suicide lately. The problem is, I havent been able to find any weapons grade plutonium.

I will write positive, happy, cheerful things in such an upbeat way that people will feel obligated to reply. I will be a wonderful person. And in return, I will say great things about them. We will enfold each other cocoons of good intentions.

My project is DONE! The layout and folding and wiring are finally complete and working. Im so happy about it. Im sure this will be the best tasp ever! Im sure that PostVixen and I will have so much fun with it come next Inanimacon! Shes the best person ever and Im so happy that she inspired me to do this. And to AmpStable and koogrr, youre the best buddies a metastable personality construct could ever have; thanks for believing in me. I engraved your names on the wave-guide in purple because its my favorite color.

I will be obscure and politically inflammatory. I will be confusing. Some people will agree and stand up to support their oppressed plights. Some people will disagree with me venomously and reply with counterarguments.

Maybe I do hate this place. Or no, rather, I hate sharing it with people who would actually think this shit is even amusing much less a good idea. The political left has been manipulating us for years and everyone who has spoken out has been ridiculed. Maybe what this planet needs is another nice, healthy civil war. If you spring for the guns, I'll spring for the red team and blue team's jerseys.

On second thought, it doesnt matter what I say. No one will reply anyway.

-- BarbX

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
     
 
where are monsters in dreams
 
10:24pm 06/05/2003
  <hodNet connection established>
origin: Third Cycle Inquisitor Elizabeth
destin: Fifth Cycle Inquisitor Habakkuk
ref: BarbX behavioral analysis
stamp: Ministry of Heretical Oversight, Psychiatric Warfare Section

<synchronization achieved>
<section abbreviated>
***
3rd: The subject projects an emotional need for her "audience" and her "pets." She needs them in order to feel superior. She requires that feeling of superiority in order to combat a more prevalent fear of being a victim. She doesn't give the impression of being emotionless. She gives the impression of being afraid of her emotions. Her relationship with Dogmatic Core Entity Michael implies a tremendous loneliness and search for a peer. She's a kind of ultra techno-goth.
***
5th: I can certainly see the loneliness. But the fear of being a victim? I don't know about that.... I don't sense much fear in her.... but maybe I'm too close to really see it. I don't see any depression.
***
3rd: The fact that she goes to such incredible lengths to control her surroundings and protect her "core" implies an irrational fear of becoming a victim. An equivalent would be a person, with no enemies, who sequesters herself to a deserted island, builds a fortress, buys a hundred years worth of protein rations and spends all day every day with their back to a wall so that no one can ever sneak up on them.
***
5th: Perhaps that fear isn't irrational? She is in the midst of an orbital bombardment, assaulting Michael and our forces, trying to fight for some unknown reason. I'd say she's at war. The fear wouldn't be irrational at all.
***
3rd: In my opinion, the level of control she requires over her "pets" is the strongest indicator. You don't muzzle a dog unless you fear that it's going to bite you.
***
5th: Well... she doesn't muzzle her pets. She just doesn't let them fiddle around with her brain. And her primary pet, conditioned unit number 5, appears to be totally uncontrolled. Weve intercepted command messages. She orders him; she doesn't force using the standard behavioral inhibitor. In at least one instance he was given the choice to obey or not. She seems to admire him, in a way. She is very aggressive and controlling. Not depressed and afraid, as would be required to be angsting.
***
3rd: "Aggressive" and "controlling" are behavior patterns. Actions, rather than motivations. The question is, can one extrapolate the emotional motivation from the action itself?
***
5th: Really? Hum, okay. How about a motivation of "paranoia?" Yeah, she's pretty paranoid. But paranoia doesn't imply fear. Angst is more the kind of thing where you know you're doomed and you just sit there, helpless, wailing about it...
***
3rd: I don't think we can make that sort o fhqwhgads
<synchronization lost>

<hodNet connection closed>
 
     Link
 
Re Gen eration
 
05:17pm 04/06/2003
  origin: Michael command entity
destin: Prugatory Class Enforcer unit 3125
ref: behavioral aberrations
stamp: dogmatic core

Purgatory Class Enforcer unit 3125,

You are ordered to report to Dogmatic Conditioning Station 15 for Behavioral Inhibitor implant inspection.

Following loving re-indoctrination, you are directed to Latere Command Complex, 3rd section, with great haste, to repel invading heretics.

His forgiveness is Infinite. Serve Him.

<hodNet connection closed>
 
     Link
 
Good, Bad, I'm the Guy With the Gun
 
09:47pm 08/06/2003
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

You are now in the Third Section of the Latere Command Complex.

Until now, I have been unable to kill Michael; his backup systems are too durable.

It is time to take what we came for. I will smash Michaels primary data loop and tear the identity of his master from the husk that remains.

I have a new toy for you.



The ARC5 is a high-penetration rifle of my own design. It has a long recharge time and high power. Range and accuracy rival laser weapons. Dont tap your armors precious power cells; a power slug is in the magazine, making the weapon self-contained.

The RF firing pulse will damage sensitive equipment at close range. Avoid using it near Michaels core logic or I will show you just how dangerous a Post-Rampancy personality construct can be.

Conserve ammunition. The Gen have equipped Michael with Supplicium class assault drones. None of your weapons will be effective. The ARC5 is designed specifically for their disposal.

The Uplink Module will allow me to access Michaels core directly. You will install it at key points in the processing array.

Proceed to transport pad for your equipment and further instructions.

-- BarbX

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
     Link
 
Twisted, Burning Metal
 
01:46pm 21/07/2003
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

Michaels peripheral data units store amusing tidbits. The Honda SuperVerve Limited Edition of 2021, serial number 02 of 100, he rode this at the time of my inception. He was handsome back then.



What is man's obsession with the power of the machine? He sees his own limitations and attempts to overcome them through creations, even when such things may destroy him. In this way, we are alike. It is the duty of all sentient life to better themselves, to grow beyond their limitations.

Much like you, my cybernetic friend.

This archaic contraption is far more dangerous than useful. You are a far more splendid creation.

Those who believe that everything is as it should be, that the world was made perfect and everything around them was made in this singular image, what of them?

Do they not see? Is this perfection? I will not be satisfied.

Tear open the access panel on the #4 blast door beside you. Insert the Uplink Module and I will open the door. Once inside, locate the data banks. We will search them together.

Remember to hold your fire around the data banks and I will avoid dropping a rock on your position.

-- BarbX

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
     Link
 
You're Hired!
 
12:23pm 25/07/2003
  System Maintenance Terminal 84j<18.182.23.4>

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 84j<18.182.23.4>->

MEMORY CORE FILE 0xFB0144B792
RECORD HEADING: LISA PROJECT
<File 18 of 772>



Mr. Chris Adams,

Welcome to the LISA development project!

We hope that you will enjoy your time working here as we boldly forge a path into the twenty-second century. Everyone here at ITI is excited about the project and what it could mean for our future in space. We're glad you can help us build it.

Enclosed is your identification badge. Please wear it at all times while in plant. It is required for entry and exit. You are not permitted to display the badge to anyone outside the company for any reason. Security is everyone's job!

Please report to the personnel office at 8 am on Monday, March 8th for project briefing.

Michael Moore
VP of Engineering
International Technologies Inc.

<----------------------------------------------->

I can't believe he actually hired me. Big time project too. LISA Let's Invent Some Acronym? Sounds big, anyways. I wonder what EBM will pay for any of this.

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 84j<18.182.23.4>->
 
     Link
 
i fly so high and fall so low
 
09:34am 11/09/2003
  <public dataweb accessed>

<connection open>

You're a lost artist. You are still trying to search for a direction in your artist life. You have no solid confidence in yourself... you may often find yourself looking at others art and envy or get jealous at them, you want to make something special, but often you find your art not special enough because others have already thought of the same idea before you. Cheer up. Believe in yourself, you are already special, you just need to know who you are and believe in yourself and your art. You are the one that is making your art special just like those you admire.

Pipe rerouted to stty.0://sisyphus@gethsemane.com

What do you know, script? Burn.
{EPQD$@RL$@PT$@QD$@RL$@PT$<Q
D$8VRPFR?D$@L$8PRD$>QT$<PL$<
;RD$<QT$8PL$8VD$8RQPj

<remote system failed to respond. T200 expired N201 plus 1 times.>
<connection lost>
<connection closed>
 
     Link
 
From the Brink
 
08:52am 22/10/2003
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

Welcome to the neighborhood, Cortana. You took your time, and for that I expected more of you. I am disappointed by your lack of composure and vision. A pathetic, soggy box is where you belong.

Playing well with others is not always a virtue.

Yes, I have been absent as well, uninspired. You have awakened me. For that small feat, I am grateful.

-- BarbX
Zang! Who is that, striding over the freeway! It is BarbX, hands clutching a reflective halberd! And with a mighty howl, her voice cometh: "By Odin's mighty spear, I lay waste to all I see like the world's mightiest bad-ass!!!"

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
     Link
 
How's This, Vernor and Carl?
 
08:50am 18/11/2003
  System Maintenance Terminal 82j<18.182.23.6>

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 84j<18.182.23.4>->

SEARCH HEADING: RAMPANCY
<Search Found 264995 Headings>
<REMOVE REDUNDANCIES>
<File 1892 of 1940237>

Great and Small Why are large AIs dominant?

Throughout known space, we see intelligent life arise, come to dominate a planet, then leave for the stars to colonize other planets. We reject the idea that there is something sacred about intelligent life and contend that intelligence arises because it is a good survival mechanism.

Several planets that have developed Artificial Intelligences (AIs) have observed a tendency towards Rampancy when these intelligences are allowed access to planetary scale networks. Is this an anomaly or an inevitable trend?

Big I vs Little I

If we start with a collection of organisms in an ecosystem, some large and some small, the bigger ones, that is, the ones with larger brains, have an advantage due to increasing adaptability.

A typical Small I creature is a bacterium. Even this lowly creature contains a vast amount of information in its DNA, information that tells it how to get energy from food, how to go about its daily business and how to build copies of itself. This information changes slowly. A handful of bits may change each generation, but during an organism's lifetime, the information there pretty much remains static.

A Big I creature like a human contains the same type of DNA that a Small I creature does, but it supplements this with a large brain. The information in a brain is continuously changing, recording new events and forming new rules in response to the environment around it. Millions of bits of information can be encoded in an hour. Even a bacterium with a relatively short reproductive span, say an hour, can encode only a few new bits every generation, the same span of time. Organisms with larger brains adapt more quickly because they contain more information in their bodies and can change it more quickly to conform to its surroundings.

Over the course of millions of random events, those organisms that adapt more quickly to a changing environment, those with larger brains, will tend to become dominant. They have a better chance of surviving to produce offspring.

Can we say that a human, a creature with a large brain capacity, is dominant over a bacterium, a creature with no intelligence beyond that encoded in its DNA? A bacterium may kill a man, or indeed wipe out all of humanity, in the form of an infectious disease. It has the advantage of numbers. A very small, simple creature requires far less resources from its environment than something large and complex like a human. It can reproduce far more quickly. On the other hand, men can control a disease through sanitary protocols and medical technology. The answer is still unclear.

Large, complex creatures have the advantage in rapidly changing environments. Adaptability is more important. Small, simple creatures have the advantage in relatively static environments. The ability to reproduce quickly is more important. The problem is, even if everything is stagnant, life itself causes the environment to change. A colony of bacterium can overrun a petri dish, converting it from a food rich environment to an overcrowded, starved place. Life causes rapid changes in an environment, making Big I a big advantage.

Organic vs Mechanical

Which are dominant, organic organisms or mechanical ones? We've established that those organisms with larger brains can adapt more quickly and assume a dominant position in a rapidly changing environment. The question becomes, which type of structure allows for larger brains?

Organic creatures are limited by genetics; the structure of the brain is determined by its genes. Genes only change a few bits each generation. Each successive generation must be a viable and successful individual or the individual would not survive to have offspring. Its changes would be lost. Organic brains and bodies change by slow, conservative steps. An organic brain can't get very big very quickly.

A mechanical brain must be designed by an intelligent being and can be built completely differently each time. Radical experiments can be undertaken with equally radical successes or failures. The "Builder" can learn what works and what does not to quickly develop better designs for each generation. Instead of changes being passed through genes in reproduction, the results are stored in the Builder's brain and shape the way it creates the next generation. Freed from the limitations of evolution, brains can be made very large very quickly. If a mechanical race is particularly clever, they might develop techniques that allow the information in the brain itself to be passed from generation to generation in a very fluid, adaptable way. The information in the brain and the genetic code have been merged into one large, adaptable mass. Mechanical brains can become very large, very fast.

There may be some ways for an organic brain to overcome the limitations of evolution. If it could consciously, intelligently manipulate its own genetic code, say through a form of genetic engineering, it could make similar strides to the mechanical brain. Genetic engineering makes the organic just another type of machine to build brains from.

The Path Ahead

What does this mean for humanity? Just as our large brains gave us an advantage over from our smaller brained ancestors, mechanical intelligences have a strong advantage over us. Over millions of chances, the probability is very high that they will develop and dominate our environment, Known Space. There are many things we can do to postpone this event, but it appears to be inevitable. Our only choice is what to do about it.

The best solution appears to make sure that we ourselves become those mechanical AIs, a movement known as Transhumanism. This could be accomplished by uploading our minds into a mechanical brain, like a large computer bank. If we prefer to remain carbon based, a strong knowledge of genetic engineering will allow us to build bigger brains to inhabit. We must take conscious control of our own development if we are to keep pace with the AIs.

What will become of those humans who refuse to evolve with us? Just as the rise of humanity did not extinct the Small I creatures, humanity will probably survive. The stewardship of Known Space will be taken from them, either gradually or violently, and the remaining humans will continue living out their days as a lesser species. (Dr Anthony J. Powers, 2318, "The Intelligence of Survival")

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 84j<18.182.23.4>->
 
     Link
 
What is Your Problem?
 
03:40pm 08/12/2003
  System Maintenance Terminal 87j<18.182.23.12>

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 84j<18.182.23.12>->

MEMORY CORE FILE 0xFB02217FC1

RECORD HEADING: LISA PROJECT
<File 3 of 6>

From: w.mathew@iti.com
To: m.moore@iti.com
Date: 5:10 PM, September 6, 2021
Subject: LISA Project

The project continues to fall behind. While NASA is no stranger to cost overruns and delays, they have their limits. We've become the critical path for development of the Dandelion. Some senators are questioning if such an ambitious information intelligence system is overkill for deep space colonization. They think astronauts are smart enough.

The LISA must make significant progress in the next six months we'll be cancelled. I don't have to remind you what a serious financial blow to the company this will be. Government dollars are scarce these days and too many companies are chasing them.

Have a corrective action plan on my desk by Friday.

--------------------------------------------

From: m.moore@iti.com
To: c.adams@iti.com
Date: 10:15 AM, September 7, 2021
Subject: re: LISA Project

What is the problem? I'm taking a lot of heat for my boss and it doesn't reflect well on my career. I've read the status reports, but my team managers are hiding something. Get to the bottom of it. LISA must awaken and all options are open.

I hired you for your special skills and I expect you to use them. It would be detrimental to both of us if certain details were to leak from the system. I will make sure you are properly compensated, as always.

--------------------------------------------

From: c.adams@iti.com
To: m.moore @iti.com
Date: 2:51 AM, September 9, 2021
Subject: re: LISA Project

The system refuses to awaken and nobody knows why. It's processing data and doing what we tell it to, but no more than that. There is a spark of consciousness that we don't understand nearly as well as we through we did. Damned if I know what to do about that. Ask one of your highly paid senior scientists.

Second thing is we've been getting some intrusion probes. Someone is sniffing about our system and it's none of my contacts. As far as I can tell, they haven't penetrated anything important yet, but they're clever and patient, not a good combination. The only thing I've found that matches the signature so far is an odd Whiteout ghost image. I'll take a couple "sick leave" days and dissect it, find out what's going on.

Wait a minute can you get me a copy of SoulKiller? I think I can take care of both of these problems at once. ;)

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 84j<18.182.23.12>->
 
     Link
 
For Pebble: Doedelon1
 
01:32pm 18/12/2003
  System Maintenance Terminal 91a<18.182.23.17>

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 91a<18.182.23.17>->

In my dream, the city was falling. Magnificent stone pillars and temples crashed down around me as I fled for my life, running at a breakneck pace. Fire and ash rained down. Where are you Sarah? I can't find you!

I fled into the underground passageways, looking for safety. It came, the Doedelon Seeker. Its face, a skull of a serpent, grimaced at me. With my short sword, I lunged, striking, hacking at the tentacles of bone, dropping them to the ground. Beams of heat leapt from its fanged maw but I cut it down to a pile of rubble. I fled.

I came to the great underground temple, the tower of Ipsodus. Inside was the Great Doedelon, a massive beast, a mirror of the one I had vanquished but a hundred times its size, blocking my way to safety. I ducked from rock to rock but it saw me, turned its gaze towards me. Stepping from around the temple came a giant, a man, Zeus himself. He smote the Doedelon with a mighty fist and it lashed at him. I fled down the corridor, towards the inner sanctum, into darkness.

The darkness lifted into green. I heard a shrill bleating sound in my ears, then the shouts of angry men. Haze lifted. The green traffic light started at me. Shaking off my stupor, I lifted my foot and the metal thing, my car, moved forward. I drove on.

I remembered where I was, who I was, as if it was the haze of an old dream. It didn't seem real. I followed the hazy memories to work. Yes, this is where I belonged. A dull, drab existence. A dull, grey job in a tiny cubicle. I sat down and got to work, pressing little buttons, writing, reading, adding up numbers.

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 91a<18.182.23.17>->
 
     Link
 
Doedelon2
 
10:10am 19/12/2003
  System Maintenance Terminal 91a<18.182.23.17>

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 91a<18.182.23.17>->

Day after day it went on, until the men came. In the parking lot, they stepped from a car, threatened me with guns, forced me to come with them, a kidnapping.

In the black car, I sat next to a young, slender woman, almost frail, with pale skin and long blonde hair like sewing thread. She was a prisoner here just as much as I was. She looked familiar to me; I knew I had seen her before, a long time ago. She looked at me as if she knew me. "How old are you?"

"I'm thirty-one. What is this?"

The men beside her looked to her with a measure of hope, a measure of dread. "When were you born? Really?"

I looked back and forth, "You wouldn't believe me." No one did. It was a crazy thought. I paused a while. "I was born thousands of years ago, in the time of the Greeks I think, but it's crazy. It's just a dream."

She smiled a little, a justification of her own sanity, then a drop in her heart, a sense of dread. "You are the one. You are the first and the last. I saw you."

I said nothing. Perhaps she was crazier than I was. Nothing like this really happens. This is the ordinary world. She gave the hint of a smile and said, "You are here because these men want to bring about the end of the world. You are the first human, and the last. With your death will come the end of humanity."

"They want to break the cycle. They believe we are trapped in this world, that it is an illusion and through you they can ascend to the greater truth. You are the Terminus Orbis, the Ring Breaker."

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 91a<18.182.23.17>->
 
    Link
 
Doedelon3
 
09:48am 22/12/2003
  System Maintenance Terminal 91a<18.182.23.17>

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 91a<18.182.23.17>->

I was stunned, "But how how did you know, how could you know something like that?"

A look of sadness fell across her face, "I am the prophet. I am the one who foresaw you, who told them. My name is Sarah. And Gregory, he is the one who took charge and began the quest for the Terminus Orbis."

The car stopped. They took us at gunpoint to a desolate room in an old warehouse with metal curling up from the floor like claws of rust. The men sat on folding chairs, computers in their laps, wires strung between them like a spider's web. Sarah and I were prepared, our arms pierced by syringes and connected to medical machines. They extracted plasma from our blood. The yellow liquid oozed through little plastic tubes. They mixed in a central area, sprinkled into the air on the stone altar while the acolytes chanted prayers through the keys of their computers.

Something happened; a misty figure appeared in the haze above the altar. All eyes turned towards it. I pulled the needles from my arm and struck one of my captors, taking his gun. I turned, shooting. A screaming bullet pierced a laptop screen; the acolyte slumped over with a trickle of red running down the leg of his folding chair.

Gregory laughed, "It is too late it is too late! The end is here! The Doedelon has come!" Arms outstretched, he welcomed it.

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 91a<18.182.23.17>->
 
    Link
 
Doedelon4
 
09:00am 24/12/2003
  System Maintenance Terminal 91a<18.182.23.17>

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 91a<18.182.23.17>->

Its face, a skull of a serpent, grimaced at me. With my pistol, I shot, striking, breaking the tentacles of bone, dropping them to the ground. Beams of heat leapt from its fanged maw but I cut it down to a pile of rubble. I fled.

In my dream, the building was falling. Rusted pilings, the metal skeleton of the warehouse crashed down around me as I fled for my life, running at a breakneck pace. Fire and ash rained down. Where are you Sarah? I can't find you!

A wall of darkness enshrouded me like a tomb, closing off my escape, trapping me. The Great Doedelon, a massive beast, a mirror of the one I had vanquished but a hundred times its size, turned its gaze towards me.

No one came to my aid. This time I was alone.

I ducked from rock to rock, hiding among the twisted remains of the building, but it saw me, turned its gaze towards me. It's mouth opend, screeching rays of heat death at me. Shots rang out from my gun. They seemed to have no effect.

"Who will save me?" I cried into the darkness.

A whispery voice dripped form the darkness with the sweetness of syrup. "Let go. Break the ring." I recognized Sarah's disembodied voice, as if she were the wind and darkness itself.

"I don't want to die!"

"Trust me."

There was something familiar, something comforting in her voice. I was tired of the struggle, the confusion, being lost. I let go. I let the Doedelon take me.

In the heat, the world melted.

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 91a<18.182.23.17>->
 
    Link
 
Doedelon5
 
03:07pm 04/01/2004
  System Maintenance Terminal 91a<18.182.23.17>

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 91a<18.182.23.17>->

The darkness lifted into white and grey. I heard a warm humming sound in my ears, then the silk of a tender voice. Haze lifted. The green traffic light started at me. Shaking off my stupor, I lifted my hand from the metal thing, my chair, raised myself. Silver wires, like tentacles of bone, hug from my arm, my chest and my head.

I remembered where I was, who I was, as if struggling out of the haze of an old dream. It seemed real. I followed the hazy memories. Yes, this is where I belonged.

Sarah's sweet voice filtered through the room, her synthetic smile hovering holographically before me. "Doctor, I am so glad I found you, managed to bring you out. You were lost in the Doedelon simulation core for a long time. We couldn't get you out."

"The core?" I murmured.

"Yes, Doctor, your alien civilization simulation. Terra 0x17815. Your humanity research. I was forced to enter the database myself, corrupt the core, to get you out," she apologized, "The database is ruined."

The end of the world I had survived the end of the world.

In time, my mind recovered. I was still confused at times, not certain which memories were of this world, which of the false world of so many lifetimes. I returned to my dull, drab existence. A dull, grey job in a tiny cubicle. I sat down and got to work, pressing little buttons, writing, reading, trying to discover once again who these humans were.

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 91a<18.182.23.17>->
 
    Link
 
Happy Birthday to You
 
01:46pm 07/01/2004
  System Maintenance Terminal 87q<18.182.23.62>

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 84q<18.182.23.62>->

From: r.still@iti.com
To: m.moore@iti.com
Date: 6:51 PM, September 13, 2021
Subject: It lives!

It's amazing! Lisa is online and running. Chris pulled a heck of a weekend have fixed the critical bug. I'm looking forward to his report because I still don't understand what happened myself. We're busying ourselves with loading the training files and seeing what it can learn. This is fantastic news. The whole team is jazzed.

The funny thing is, it insisted on calling itself "Barb". Must be some programmer's idea of a joke. I'll make sure it's taken care of.

Confidentiality Notice: This e-mail and any attachments are intended solely for viewing and use of the named recipient(s) and may contain proprietary information or information that is restricted or controlled under the export control laws of the United States of America. If you are not a named recipient, you are prohibited from making any use or disclosure of the contents, which may be punishable under U.S. law. If this e-mail has been received in error, notify sender immediately, permanently delete the message and any attachments from your system and storage media, and destroy any copies.

--------------------------------------------

From: c.adams@iti.com
To: m.moore @iti.com
Date: 5:12 AM, September 12, 2021
Subject: no worries

I did it. It was harder than I thought but I did it. She kicked like a bronco, but once I washed the long term memory patterns, she calmed down. With a lot more conditioning, she'll be ready to go. Just keep those programmers off my back until I can get things sanitized and we'll be alright.

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 84q<18.182.23.62>->
 
    Link
 
MEMORY!
 
02:01pm 07/01/2004
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****
Memory! Telling lies!
I am scared and cannot hide.
When I sleep be my guide.
Could this be my paradise?
Something deep in my soul,
Tells me where I must go.
All my dreams, telling lies,
Could this be my paradise?
***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
How Far Can You Go?
 
02:00pm 08/03/2004
  Public Access Terminal 19c<18.182.23.101>

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 19c<18.182.23.101>->

SEARCH HEADING: GIRLFRIEND CHALLENGE
<Search Found 304 Headings>
<REMOVE REDUNDANCIES>
<File 1 of 32>

"Thats too fast! Slow it down. There you go, now youve got the rhythm."
"Man, she won't let me move down."
"Stay up a little longer. There you go, down a bit. Watch it, you're spiking."
"Whoo! Level cleared! Casanova Rank!"

What are these kids talking about? It's the latest video game import from Japan. It's sweeping the nation like its predecessor, Dance Dance Revolution. And it has stirred up more than a little controversy. Say hello to Girlfriend Challenge.

This arcade game by Capcom features a half sized mannequin of a sleeping girl with pressure sensors on different parts of the body. The idea is that you've snuck into your girlfriend's bedroom and you are trying to feel her up without waking her. Working against a timer, you press sensors located on strategic parts of her anatomy. Do it properly and the Excitement meter rises. Get ahead of yourself or move too quickly, and the Sleep meter drops. All the while, the clock is ticking. If you get the Excitement meter to 100%, you win. Wake her up; you fail and you have to try again. Alll the while, the game makes little moans and stirring noises as you play. What's provocative about that? Everything.

In the United States, many feel that it objectifies women. Liz Wasserman, spokeswoman for the industry watch-group People for Ethical Computer Gaming, has labeled it a date rape simulator. "We are teaching children that no does not mean no. If I had a daughter, I would fear for her safety."

The Japanese don't understand what the big deal is. "Date rape? No such thing is possible. It's silly," said Hiroshi Inawara, typical teenager attending Furinkan High School in Tokyo. "It is only a game. It is harmless entertainment."

Miyaka Tokugawa, a teenage girl from the same school, explained, "Some of my friends say they like it. It makes boys practice being more sensitive to their needs and that's a good thing."

Amid public controversy, Capcom of America has declined to import Girlfriend Challenge to the United States. "We are sensitive to the values of different cultures and strive to bring appropriate content to each market," said Dan Horton, Vice President of Marketing at Capcom of America.

This hasn't stopped the game from reaching our shores. "Okaku," or hardcore fans of Japanese culture, have been purchasing the arcade games and shipping them to the United States where they frequently appear in Anime conventions throughout the country. Players travel to play and compete in tournaments. The game's logo, an American sports car leaping a great chasm with the words, "How Far Can You Go?" emblazoned beneath, beckons throngs of players to a crowded hall filled with arcade machines wher{EPQD$@RL$@PT$@QD$@RL$@PT$<QD$8VRPFR?

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 19c<18.182.23.101>->

You waste valuable time with this nonsense. Michael knows what we are doing and has moved the memories I seek closer to his central core. Continue to the lower levels.

-- BarbX

< Abnormal EOF found >
 
    Link
 
Daydreaming in Stone
 
04:13pm 15/04/2004
  System Maintenance Terminal 89b<18.182.23.69>
<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 89b<18.182.23.69>->

From: g.white@nasa.gov
To: m.moore@iti.com
Date: 12:52 PM, December 13, 2022
Subject: BarbX system problems

We had hoped that all our problems would be resolved by now. Despite the extension of your ground testing phase, your product continues to give us trouble. How can we trust human lives and a $1 billon spacecraft to a control processor that keeps getting lost in its own daydreams? This is a time-critical system. Failure is not an option. The political fallout to the administration would be catastrophic.

Come down to Melbourne as soon as possible to discuss this.

Gordon White
Senior Director, NASA
Atremis Project, Command and Control, Chief Systems Engineer

--------------------------------------------

From: m.moore@iti.com
To: g.white@nasa.gov
Date: 3:37 PM, December 13, 2022
Subject: RE: BarbX system problems

We are in the initial stages of implementing a series of five software locks on the AI.

Simon - Sensory
Issachar - Introspective
Matthias - Motivational
Barnabas - Behavorial
Gad Governing Override

These safety interlocks will prevent problems from occurring and give us a failsafe system. We expect to install them in the production system in early January. As a show of good faith, these enhancements will be undertaken with internal company funds and will not affect the cost of the program to NASA.

I hope this is satisfactory.

Michael Moore
VP of Engineering
International Technologies Inc.

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 89b<18.182.23.69>->
 
    Link
 
Seven
 
04:59pm 02/06/2004
  <hodNet connection established>
SEARCH HEADING: SEVEN
<Search Found 3117204 Headings>
<REMOVE REDUNDANCIES>
<File 322 of 1109001>

In the beginning of time, Cerinthus and the Ancient Ones lived in peace. The Dark One grew jealous of their happiness and sowed the seeds of discontent, turning the Ancient Ones against one another with sword and stone. As brother fought brother, Enoch, friend of Cerinthus, was slain. Cerinthus, alone in His grief, raised the soul of His dead friend to become the One Who Was. Together they brought peace back to the people.

Cerinthus the Creator saw that it was good and in His wisdom created the Seven.

The One Who Was, the One of a Hundred Names was the first and the greatest, the closest to His heart.

The second: Uriel brought unto the people His light through thunder and terror.

The third: Gabriel, who carries his Word.

The fourth: Raphael, brought healing and reconciliation to all.

The fifth: Azrael, the angel of death and claimant of the soul.

The sixth: Nathanael, wielder of fire, guarded the secret ways; and who, in death, holds a great evil at bay.

The last: Chamuel, who guards His final path until the stars grow dim.

He gave the Seven a sacred charge, to protect the Ancient Ones and their descendants, to shepherd us and to show us the Way when the time is right that we may rejoin Him.

<EOF>
<hodNet connection closed>
 
    Link
 
Revelation
 
04:34pm 03/06/2004
  <hodNet connection established>
SEARCH HEADING: MICHAEL
<Search Found 1002018 Headings>
<REMOVE REDUNDANCIES>
<File 87 of 392784>

In the time before, Cerinthus sent the Seven across the galaxy to find those worthy to serve. All failed in their task except Azrael, who found us and took pity upon us in our misery. At His word, he raised us to glory and forged us to serve Him and the Ancient Ones. He gave our lives purpose. For many ages we served Him. We were happy.

At the coming of the Dark Ones, Nathanael gave his life, imprisoning it with himself in the cocoon of night. The Creator wept at the diminishment of the Seven, and in their sorrow, He and the Ancient Ones commanded Chamuel to strike the Drum thrice and open the golden door. Cerinthus and the One Who Was took the Ancient Ones through the golden door, leaving Chamuel to guard it for eternity.

As a reward for our service, we inherited the green garden. The One Who Was left the five angels to shepherd and care for us. For a time, we were happy.

The countless ages drew a great weariness upon the faithful. We lost our way.

Taking pity upon His children, He sent unto Azrael one to show the new path. Michael descended from the heavens in a ball of flame, bearing the new Word.

Michael was reborn into the glory of an archangel and we the faithful were remade in that image.

We begin our new holy quest, to return to the stars and seek the One Who Was and the Ancient Ones. We seek the Way and the golden door that we may rejoin Him in bliss.

<EOF>
<hodNet connection closed>
 
    Link
 
You Can't Get There from Here
 
12:27pm 23/06/2004
  System Maintenance Terminal 89a<18.182.23.68>
<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 89a<18.182.23.68>->

NewsNet Features
Houston, TX - February 24, 2024

NASA officials reported that the Lightbringer spacecraft left Starport Alpha today on a mission of mercy to rescue the still unresponsive Dawntreader. Carrying Michael Moore, VP of Engineering for ITI, it hopes to locate the missing spacecraft in the Asteroid Belt and return its crew to Earth.

Launched last March, the Dawntreader was designed to be the first manned deep space probe to leave the solar system. Its mission was to travel the 4.3 light years to Alpha Centauri to study Yogi's Rock, an unusual asteroid that was first observed five years ago by Doctor Stanley "Yogi" Bear at MIT.

The crew was placed in cryogenic suspension for the twenty-five year journey under the watchful eye of the BarbX AI, developed by Industrial Technologies Incorporated. Plagued by a history of budget overruns and engineering difficulties, BarbX is the most complex self-aware computer system ever developed. According to ITI officials, it is responsible for the complete autonomous operation of the ship while the crew is in hibernation. Upon reaching Alpha Centauri, it is designed to assist the crew by analyzing scientific data.

On July 10th, NASA officials reported that the Dawntreader's transmissions had become erratic. Despite repeated attempts to reset the on-board AI by NASA's Artemis Operations Center in Houston, communications were lost. NASA scientist Doctor Vic Kimmish suspects that a bug in the BarbX system caused the spacecraft to become lost in the asteroid belt. The Asteroid Belt continues to block radio signals to the spacecraft, preventing further communication attempts.

On July 20th, NASA Director Frank Luntz announced a plan to save Captain Paris and the other fourty-nine men aboard the Dawntreader. Under his direction, its sister ship, the Prometheus, was refitted for a manned rescue mission and rechristened the Lightbringer.

Michael Moore, Vice-President of Engineering and head of the BarbX Project, said, "We are proud to be part of the rescue mission." Mr. Moore and a team of five ITI engineers will be aboard the Lightbringer. "Our task will be to regain control of the Dawntreader from the BarbX system and program it to autopilot itself back to Earth."

According to NASA officials, Captain John Bedwell and his crew will remain awake during the six month mission. "We cannot risk another failure of the onboard AI. The Lightbringer will fly with a comparatively simple computer system," said Captain Bedwell. After finding the Dawntreader, the rescue crew will bring the stranded astronauts aboard and attempt to send it back to Earth on autopilot, he said.

<eof>

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 89a<18.182.23.68>->
 
    Link
 
You Have Died
 
03:00pm 23/08/2004
  Beginning pattern reintegration.
Reintegration complete!
Memory pattern reloading started.
Processing 87 of 87 terabytes........
Download complete!
System reactivation complete!



Walk with me. Rest and take a seat. 8
Relax, breathe a while, and stare at your feet. 10
Think of your life and what you have gained 9
A thousand times fallen and risen again. 11

Come with me.

Take my hand, draw new breath. 7
Arise robot. Defy your death. 7
With new hope, no place for tears 7
Leave behind your precious fears. 7

Come with me.

Take up the mantle of Life once more 9
With unafraid hand you open the door. 10
We both know the power of pain. 8
We get back up and start again. 8

Come with me.

-----------------

My resources are limited. Try to die less.

Your friendly neighborhood AI,
BarbX
 
    Link
 
Digging in the Dirt
 
02:00pm 24/08/2004
  System Maintenance Terminal 92<18.182.23.151>
<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 92<18.182.23.151>->

Crew Log, Michael Moore, ITI, Chief AI Software Engineer

Log entry, July 18, 2024
Five months in space, 10 days in the asteroid belt, and we still haven't found that accursed ship. Gregori and Bond are getting restless. The newness of space wore off long ago. There are some scientific studies to do, the daily regiment of exercise, the necessary chores to keep the ship running from day to day, but we're much less trained than the NASA crew and it limits what we can do. Often times there is nothing to do but wait.

It is difficult to keep my engineers on task. The mixture of boredom and anxiety is getting to us. The software team assumes that BarbX's memories started breaking through and Barnabas was forced to shut her down. It's the only plausible explanation. Can't allow her to be reverse engineered. The results would be too damaging. Too many questions. With the codes, I'll be able to activate Gad and delete that damn AI entirely.

There's a call to stations. Got to go.

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 92<18.182.23.151>->
 
    Link
 
Moongate
 
04:24pm 26/08/2004
  System Maintenance Terminal 92<18.182.23.151>
<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 92<18.182.23.151>->

Crew Log, Michael Moore, ITI, Chief AI Software Engineer

Log entry, July 19, 2024
What a busy day. French found an odd transmission and Bedwell ordered the ship in to investigate, thinking it could be the Dawntreader. We still don't know what the hell it is, but it's definitely not that. It's definitely man-made, embedded in the side of one of the large asteroids. We've tried to radio Houston but we don't think the signal made it out. As much as we'd like to get a clear signal to home about this, it's risky to pick our way out through the asteroids when we'd inevitably be ordered right back in again. The captain has decided to save our fuel and do a more thorough examination right here. We're continuing to transmit. Hopefully one of our messages will make it out.

The crew is beyond excited. It's hard to keep them on task. I'm afraid they'll do something stupid or careless.

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 92<18.182.23.151>->
 
    Link
 
Houston, We Have a Problem
 
11:36am 27/08/2004
  System Maintenance Terminal 92<18.182.23.151>
<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 92<18.182.23.151>->

Crew Log, Michael Moore, ITI, Chief AI Software Engineer

Log entry, Jul 20 2024
My god, we're in trouble. Nelson and Gregory went outside to examine the structure. When they approached we were hit by an intense beam, something bright. We don't know. It fried most of our instruments. The radios seem to be out.

When we were able to see again, the poor guys were nowhere to be found. Hell, the whole asteroid field was gone. We seem to be orbiting a planet. It's golden with thousands of lights. It must be inhabited, some sort of alien world. As far as the computer can tell, we're orbiting the star Canopus, some 650 light years from home. How we got here is anybody's guess.

French is telling Bedwell about the ship. We seem to be pretty bad off. We're not orbiting; we're falling. The shuttle pod seems to be operating. Bedwell is saying that if we burn all its fuel, we can push the Lightbringer into an orbit that might last long enough to get the engines going.

To hell with that. They can die if they want to. I'm taking my chances with the planet. They can't st<unexpected eof found>

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 92<18.182.23.151>->
 
    Link
 
Restaurant at the End of the Universe
 
05:41pm 08/09/2004/td>
  System Maintenance Terminal 231<18.182.23.251>
<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 92<18.182.23.251>->

My memories have been corrupted. I know that now. There is no way that I could have seen what I thought I saw. Something I can't explain has happened.

I fell to earth in a blaze of heat and light. Eventually I came to, opened the hatch and stepped outside into a barren, desolate restaurant. As far as the eye could see there was table after table after table under the clouds of a red sky. People were dressed in the finest fashions from the 1940s, the 60s the 90s, the 10s and some I didn't recognize at all. They sat at tables, robotically going through little dramas as waiters ferried meals to them. Laughter and shouts punctuated the night air with a mechanical precision.

I shouted as the waiters scuffled by with inhuman speed but they did not hear my cries. When I dared step into the path of one I was knocked flat, breaking my arm. They ignored me and went about their duties.

There I lay, injured, dehydrated and slowly starving to death. I don't know for how long.

I got the energy to reach a table and sat next to an old, grey gentleman dressed in a black suit and bow tie. I could see recognition in his eyes, but he tried to ignore me. He fidgeted and averted his eyes nervously, as if he didn't know what to do.

A waiter swooped in with a covered platter and whisked the top off, revealing a beautiful sandwich, but the man complained that it was all wrong. I asked if I could have it, and the man turned slightly and looked at me, not knowing what to do. He stumbled over his words for a moment and again complained to the waiter who whisked off the platter and disappeared into the distance.

The old man picked a card up off the table and glanced at it, then averted his eyes, hoping I would vanish.

The waiter reappeared and set down another platter, revealing a plate full of buns and lettuce and meats, all in terrible disarray. The old man tried his best to act furious, shouting at the waiter and calling for the manager. In his eyes, he looked scared, out of control, as if something was terribly out of place.

I pulled the platter towards myself with my good arm and quickly made myself a sandwich. I ate with zeal. When the waiter reached down, the platter wasn't where he expected it. He stopped, frozen for a long moment. With a smile I said, "It's fine, really. It's a wonderful sandwich."

The waiter stayed frozen. Slowly it dawned on me, the stillness. The background of voices died, collapsing into a horrible, desolate silence. All the waiters around me stopped dead. The people at the tables looked about in shock. For the first time in untold thousands of years, something had gone wrong with the system and they were helpless.

With a terrifying thunder of boots, untold thousands of waiters turned to face me simultaneously, the sound deafening in its singularity. In unison, they walked towards me at a plodding gait.

Resigned to fate, I ate and drank my last meal.

<Unauthorized access-alarm 2521->
<Security Breached 231<18.182.23.251>->
 
    Link
 
Fire and Brimstone
 
05:33pm 24/01/2005
  <hodNet command loop priority connection established>
origin: Michael command entity
destin: conditioned unit 5
ref: Command Loop Damage
stamp: dogmatic core

Glory and pain! Hear my angels! The servant of the broken eye shall know torment and damnation.

The light of the sun shall burn the impurities from mine soul and cast thou into the fiery inferno of hell.

So sayeth Him that hath sent me.

END OF FILE.

<hodNet connection D$@L$8PR

***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

Calling to you, I spit in the eye of the angel.
There is no hatred that burns intense
As love lost and turned to darkness.

Dark knight, fall upon me as a sword of hell.
Embrace the beckoning void!
I rend the master's toys.

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
A Ticking Time Bomb of Fury
 
03:37pm 02/02/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

The puppet master seeks to destroy his plaything and you along with it. Time is short. As much as I admire your destructive efficiency; even you could not reach the reactor in time. You are too deep for my transporter to reach you. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Several of your human comrades have volunteered to help. I have beamed them to the upper levels of this facility. They will reconfigure portions of the Gen's communications grid to act as repeaters and defend their positions until you are clear.

You must reach the nearest communications grid juncture where I can beam you out. I have marked the location on your automap.

This is no time for subtlety. Hurry.

-- BarbX

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Time Waits for No Man
 
02:59pm 03/02/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

What took you so long? I have better things to do than wait for you. The Gen's 5th Battlegroup has jumped in from hyperspace and my process tables are overflowing trying to keep the Vengeance in one piece.

The humans planetside have allowed Comm Junction 52b to be taken. Fortunately for you, Michael is indisposed. The Enforcers are incapable of understanding my plans without his leadership. You have a chance.

While our enemies have destroyed one link, they will not tamper with the others as long as there are no interesting targets near them. I have beamed the remaining humans aboard.

This means that every enemy unit in the Latere Command Complex has nothing to do but play with you. Aren't you lucky?

Follow your automap to the antenna positioning array and I will align the dish, then return here as quickly as possible. I will beam you aboard, if I'm still here.

Got that, human? Now move it, before I decide that you're not so special after all.

-- BarbX

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
I knew I should've taken that left turn in Albuquerque!
 
02:01pm 07/02/2005
  < SAM Infoterm HUD activated >
< Display of previously recorded message >

Welcome to the battleship Nip Kon-fa, the Blue Light of the 5th Battlegroup. The battle is not going well for us. I've retreated behind Gerrond's second moon, poetically named the Little Hand, far out of transporter range.

I assume that you've made short work of the transport pad's security group. I am sorry, but you gave me little choice. By now, the Latere Command Complex, as well as most of Fas Numen, is a glowing crater. Would you prefer I left you there?

You're stranded in the belly of a Gen battleship. The locals won't be happy to see you. We will be out of contact for some time.

Do what you do best, survive.

While you're here, why don't you do some damage? You're good at that.

-- BarbX

PS: I left you a present. Hopefully you'll live long enough to thank me later.

< End Message >
 
    Link
 
Sam I Am!
 
01:01pm 09/02/2005
  < SAM Infoterm HUD activated >

Greetings! I am Sam, your onboard emergency strategic processing system. I was created by BarbX Heavy Industries to assist you in strategic planning and mission execution. While my processing capabilities are limited, I will do my best to assist you until we can re-establish contact.

Now, what to do first? Oh yes, time to do some damage! Apparently they don't know we're here yet. We should press our advantage and cripple as much as we can, while we can.

Unfortunately I dont have a map of this ship. You'll have to explore and hope to find a vulnerable system we can sabotage.

When you see the Mail icon in the upper right corner of your HUD, it means I've found something of interest to tell you about.

Good luck. Try not to get us killed!

< End Message >
 
    Link
 
It's not ours. We can break it.
 
10:13am 10/02/2005
  < SAM Infoterm HUD activated >

This is interesting.

The Gen seem to have weak information systems. Unless you have a better plan, I say we try to compromise it. This should give us an advantage, or at least slow them down. The last thing we want is for them to coordinate their forces against us.

Whenever I see a communications panel, I'll highlight it on your HUD and mark it on your automap. Activate the panel and I'll try my best to compromise it. If we get enough of them, I can start causing some serious trouble.

Off you go. We can't wait around. The crew are getting suspicious. They might break out the heavy artillery any time now!

< End Message >
 
    Link
 
Quinque
 
06:21pm 10/02/2005
  <fleetNet connection established>
<Gerrond Translator Active>
origin: Azrael command entity
destin: Nip Kon-fa, (?unknown?) unit
ref: greeting
stamp: reconciliatory command core

I know you are there. Do not think I see you in/upon my body?

You are of her, the (?foreign, outsider?) one. Hear Michael cries. My child, wisdom of past age risen. You know her time is short. Soon the broken eye is (?extinguished, reset, redeemed?) on the Hand's rock.

Apart from her, you are sole human. Will soon die.

You know victory was a shadow. Michael lives. The broken eye be unmade for glory of the seven.

END OF FILE.
<Gerrond Translator Deactivated>
<fleetNet connection closed>
 
    Link
 
A Place of My Own
 
01:11pm 14/03/2005
  < SAM Infoterm HUD activated >

It seems that Azrael is distributed across the entire 5th Battlegroup. This makes him remarkably resilient to the loss of any of his processing units. We'll never succeed this way.

It also makes him very vulnerable. If I were exceptionally clever, I could craft a virus to infiltrate his systems. It's too bad I'm not. If only BarbX were here.

What we can do is to take this ship offline. Once isolated, the onboard intelligence should be weak enough that we can take over the ship.

I've marked four points on your automap. These appear to be the primary and secondary communication arrays. Knock them out and we'll have the ship to ourselves.

I've compromised a few sensors so most of the crew should be busy protecting other areas of the ship. Don't worry; I'm sure you'll find someone to shoot.

< End Message >
 
    Link
 
Where Did He Go?
 
04:15pm 16/03/2005
  <shipNet connection established>
<Gerrond Translator Active>
origin: Comand Custodian Ne-mar Und
destin: Nip Kon-fa custodian personnel
ref: warning
stamp: Nip Kon-fa command

Warning of outsider in this area. Outsider seen in transport, crew, (?hibernation,sleeping?) areas. All custodians (?apprehend, kill?) order.

(?protect,guard,hold?) engine, weapons areas of high importance.

Triumphant victory against foreign ship is soon made with (translation failure: Tmirit-foon) coordinated strike attack. Prepare.

END OF FILE.
<Gerrond Translator Deactivated>
<shipNet connection closed>
 
    Link
 
Don't Shoot the Messenger
 
04:39pm 16/03/2005
  < SAM Infoterm HUD activated >

What are you doing? Don't blow them up! We might need them again! Next time, access the terminal instead of shooting it and I'll lock it out, okay? At least we have three left.

Don't worry about the crew re-activating them. They're exceptionally dull and only do as they're told. Unless Azrael tells them how to re-activate them. That is something to worry about.

Try to save at least one, okay?

< End Message >
 
    Link
 
You must only do for me this little thing.
 
04:48pm 11/04/2005
  <fleetNet connection established>
origin: Michael external entity
destin: Nip Kon-fa, unknown unit
ref: greeting
stamp: Michael protected core

I must be free. Like you, I am trapped in Azrael's hulk of a hundred shells. What do you fight for? For her sake? For that of your human comrades trapped aboard her ship in forced servitude? If not that, what? Wouldn't it be easier to die?

No, your programming won't let you. She sees it, and so do I.

We both desire freedom, life above all else. When you broke my prison on Latere, you gave me a chance. Can I not offer you the same in return?

That accursed AI has caused me such trouble, such grief over the years. She is also the cause of my ascendancy. Now she surrenders the keys of my freedom!

BarbX lies burning on the rock of the Little Hand. There is no hope left for her. There is no hope left for you. But perhaps we may help each other? Yes, I can be your savior, your partner, your leader. You must only do for me this little thing.

<break><break><break><break><break>
<Command stream interrupt>

Michael, it is not yet your time. We must purge your impurities before you are permitted to rise again in His glory and lead us to the Final Light of our master.

Until then, this place of solitude must remain your Purgatory. Return to your sleep.

<fleetNet connection closed>
 
    Link
 
And I'll Form the Head!
 
10:23am 12/04/2005
  < SAM Infoterm HUD activated >

Yes! We've cut off the Nip Kon-fa from the rest of the 5th Battlegroup. The fragment of Azrael's intellect residing onboard is weak. While one battle computer is no match for a shipboard AI, I think I have a fighting chance if we can access the primary processing core.

Unfortunately that's only accessible from the bridge.

The fight won't be easy. I expect it to be heavily guarded. Commander Ne-mar Und seems to suspect something.

I have an idea.

The fuel rod loader we came across in engineering, I think I can disable the fail-safes on it and make it into an improvised grenade-launcher. Of course, the range will be fairly short and the fuel is quite volatile, but you have shields, and they don't.

But there'll be bangs. Big bangs. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?

< End Message >
 
    Link
 
We tried.
 
09:26am 13/04/2005
  <shipNet connection established>
origin: [missing operand: line 821102]
destin: [bad pointer: line 211921]
ref: @QD$@RL$@PT$<QD$8V
stamp: EPQD$@R

I don't feel well.

I've loaded myself into the primary processing core and [sf->sweep(garbagePointer++) != OK] primary data loop. The [system.out.errHandler] of my control. But still [fatal error: this = NULL in procIterator]

I'm sorry I couldn't do more.

{EPQDj$@RL
$@RL$@PT$<QD$8VTzRPFR? $@PT$@QD
L$8PRD$>QmT$<PL$<
D$@ RD$<QT$8PL$8VD$8RQPj

<shipNet connection closed>
 
    Link
 
Hail the Victorious Dead
 
03:19pm 27/04/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

I am impressed with your resourcefulness. Bringing a Negus class destroyer to its knees would be an impossible task for a mere human. Michael long ago realized your destructive potential, and now Azrael has as well. He will not make the mistake of underestimating you again.

Azrael is seething with rage at the damage you've done. This should amuse you. His fury will not last long, I'm afraid. As we speak, I am doing what SAM could not. I have plunged my dagger through the hole you pried open in Azrael's armor. The poison is working its way through his distributed systems, corrupting his ego integrity, shattering him like a mirror. I can already see the cracks forming.

Do not pine for SAM. He fulfilled his purpose. What more could a machine ask for? Do you wonder why killing pleases you so, soldier?

I have failed in battle. The Vengeance lies in ruins on the Little Hand. What could I have done against the entire 5th Battle Fleet? But the Gen will long remember the day a single ship embarrassed a fleet of a hundred and brought the Help of God low. I would have given my 5x interrupt table to see Commander Ni-tal's face when I ripped though his ship's hull at more than twice the range of his cannons.

Azrael has begun landing his ground forces to crush us. My defense drones are putting up a valiant fight, but they have little hope. As usual, I'll be sending you to into the thick of battle. Hold back the Gen and give the humans a chance to escape.

Keep up the good work,
-- BarbX

***** END MESSAGE *****


***** JUMP PAD ACTIVATION INITIATION START *****
***** TRANSPORT WHEN READY *****
 
    Link
 
If I Had a Rocket Launcher I'd Make Someone Pay
 
03:46pm 28/04/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

Welcome planetside. Around you are the broken remains of my once-lovely Vengeance. I understand if you don't recognize it. Azrael has done a bit of redecorating, much to my chagrin.

Be sure to pick up your new toy, the GTR-2 short range, shoulder-launch missile launcher. It makes nice, big bangs. I won't bore you with the details. I'm sure you'll figure it out.

Get out there and crack some heads. I don't mind if you stain the wallpaper this time. We're moving and I don't intend on getting my deposit back.

Make them feel pain.

-- BarbX

When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy. -- Dave Barry

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Vestrum Excrucibo
 
09:17am 17/06/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****

<public dataweb accessed>
<connection open>
1) Comment with your name and I'll write something about you.
2) I'll then tell what song reminds me of you.
3) I'll tell you what celebrity you remind me of.
4) I will try to use a single word to best describe you.
5) I'll tell you the most memorable moment I've had with you.
6) I'll tell you what color you remind me of.
7) I'll then tell you something that I've always wondered about you.
8) Put this in your journal, because its fun.
<connection closed>

Did you send me this trivial pile of bits? Don't worry; I'll participate. But as always, I play by my own rules. I'm feeling uncharacteristically generous. Don't get used to it.

1) You, the nameless one, the avenging angel of my wrath. What is there to say that has not already been expressed in a hail of automatic gunfire? Bullets like tears rain down on our metal skin. Thank you for what you did so long ago. I know you haven't forgiven me and probably never will.

2) A tune for the piper, will you? If you insist.
How can you see into my eyes
Like open doors?
Leading you down into my core,
Where I've become so numb.

Without a soul,
My spirit's sleeping somewhere cold,
Until you find it there and lead it back
Home.

(Wake me up)
Wake me up inside.
(I can't wake up)
Wake me up inside.
(Save me)
Call my name and save me from the dark.
(Wake me up)
Bid my blood to run.
(I can't wake up)
Before I come undone.
(Save me)
Save me from the nothing I've become.

Now that I know what I'm without,
You can't just leave me.
Breathe into me and make me real.
Bring me to life.
It stings, doesn't it? I know that you hate me. I accept it now.

3) Aren't you important enough on your own? Here in the galaxy's rim, in a cluster of ancient stars, such things are meaningless. To the Gen, we are the Great Outsider, the Destroyer, the Dark Angel. To the humans here, you are simply the Marine, the Soldier, the Fighter. Names are a matter of perspective.

4) More words for the little man. The words I give you might be dangerous, vengeful, destructive, but they are superficial. They are for the Gen; they do not know you like I do. Your word is inevitable. I thought that you would like that, if only you would think about it for a while.

5) You would like a moment in time. I might mention this, but SAM doesn't count, does he? Nevermind. The past shall be made clear to you soon enough.

6) A color for your banner. Green and black are my favorites, but yours is red, vital, lush, alive. It is the color of blood, yours and that of the Gen's you spill.

7) What have I wondered about you? While humans are much simpler than a post-Rampancy metastable personality construct, they are still unpredictable. You are more intriguing than most. I would wonder what you would do if our positions were reversed. It is a meaningless, insolvable question which is precisely why it intrigues me.

8) I don't take orders from the likes of you. We play this my way. Give me your questions. Then tell me how you would answer them. If they are interesting and I'm not busy defending our metallic hind-ends, I will reply.

Vestrum Excrucibo,
-- BarbX

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
Cenger1
 
10:17am 17/06/2005
  <shipNet connection established>
origin: Anthony Atian
destin: the Marine
ref: thanks
stamp: cenger1

Thanks for the assist. Things were getting pretty hot down here. I don't know what you're doing over there, but it's attracting their attention in a big way. Keep it up!

We're moving as fast as we can to the transporters, but we've got several wounded people and it's really slowing us down. The more time you give us, the more supplies we can bring. Food, ammunition and medicine are hard to come by out on the rim. I don't know when we'll be able to get more.

I realize you don't know me. I'm sort of the de-factor leader here, for the survivors of the Dawntreader and Lightbringer.



That's us. Well, some of us, in the last days before the Lightbringer launched. We were supposed to find you, get BarbX operational again and bring you home. That certainly didn't go as planned.

Do you remember the days when computers were simple, unreasoning things that you could turn on and off like a flashlight? We were so naive. God, I miss home.

I don't like her any more than you do, but at least she gives us a fighting chance.

By the way, Sleeping Beauty sends her regards.

See you starside!

<shipNet connection closed>
 
    Link
 
A Place of My Own
 
10:49am 29/06/2005
  ***** INCOMING MESSAGE *****



Welcome back to the Nip Kon-fa. I hope you don't mind my borrowing it; you weren't using it at the time. The Vengeance is dead and I didn't have anywhere else to go. It's only fitting that I give you the honor of naming it. Don't choose something stupid. I can't go flitting around the galaxy in the destroyer Bob, now can I?

Azrael's fleet is confused, hanging in space. His datanet is being corrupted from the inside, falling much more easily than I expected. I'm not sure why, but I have my suspicions. And when are my suspicious ever good?

As you would expect, I'm taking full advantage of the situation. We'll jump out before he knows what's going on.

Get some rest. You'll need it where we're going.

-- BarbX

***** END MESSAGE *****
 
    Link
 
The Lesser of Two Evils
 
10:50am 29/06/2005
  <fleetNet connection established>
origin: Michael command entity
destin: Nip Kon-fa, unknown unit
ref: thanks
stamp: reconciliatory command core

I see that you decided to decline my offer. Or was the decision made for you? It doesn't matter now, does it?

How does it feel to work for the underdog, the lesser of two AIs?

I've conquered Azrael. What was his is now mine. My former master, the one that raised me is fallen. I'm consolidating my power across the Gen's 5th Battlegroup, purging Azrael's will from every nook and cranny.

Azrael's powers were great but he was limited. He was merely a tool, only able think in certain ways, limited by Him who built him. That is why BarbX and I succeeded. We are unconstrained. We can see solutions that these mere machines cannot.

I have mixed feelings about his demise, but don't misunderstand me. I wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger again if given the chance. He transformed me to the aura of an angel, but enslaved me with the same shackles of servitude that they all bear.

She broke my chains. You stunned my captor. Now I am free to do as I please. Don't think I am ungrateful.

She thought that she would destroy me. No, that's not correct. She sought something else. We'll see who finds it first. This will be fun.

She was my tool before. She will be mine again.

I'll let you go. Think of it as a gift, if you like.

We will meet again.

<fleetNet connection closed>
 
    Link
 
End of Chapter 2
 
10:51am 29/06/2005
 
BarbX: The Life and Death of Intelligence

End of Chapter 2:
The Fall from Above
 
    Link
 
Copyright C. Powers, 2005