Vigil

Herein lies the various threads in which our characters live out their lives
Ember
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Re: Vigil

Post by Ember »

[Raptors!]

"You are certain? I am not injured in any way..." Iamar takes a deep breath. No, he was right. She had lost so much time, and now she needed to catch up. "At the very least, I should ensure that Naku is alright. Outside of Vigil, she is likely the only one in the Nexus I call friend."
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Zefir
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Re: Vigil

Post by Zefir »

[Briefing Room]

Well that should conclude the case.
Mia is a bit worried to hear Kafir having "the necessary tools to make it appear as though a certain robosupremacist organization orchestrated his escape", which throws the question how and why does she have this and the worried look at the commander might give him a clue of what she thinks.
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Re: Vigil

Post by Shadowcaller »

Reinholdt wrote: Nov 25, 2022 9:24 am [Extraction Successful]

"Oh! Black Dragon's Den. Practically my second home. I quite enjoy it there. I know Raril well. Ah... the proprietor." Don't expect any discounts though!

"We should go there if that's an option." Zee is married to Raril so it might not be. Reinholdt's not going to begrudge another choice though, since he's treating Ambrosia.
Ironsmith wrote: Nov 23, 2022 5:19 pm [Khafir and Cessie]

"He has been conscious the entire time." Khafir replies evenly. "He has simply been immobile." She wheels away the surgical device she had used back to an unoccupied corner of the room. "I would not recommend removing the implant entirely. After having relied on it for so long, that would be similar to cutting out your eye, or maybe one of your digestive organs, without any means of growing it back. I would not suggest it unless there was risk of imminent, catastrophic failure."
[Khafir and Cessie]

Cessie gives Khafir a flat look. "That feels like something you should have been clearer on. Since right away I have two concerns. First I have to assume that either this surgery was painless or that it was necessary for it that he was conscious. Otherwise this might just constitute as torture, doctor. Secondly, if he was conscious this entire time does that mean he overheard our discussion?"

[Extraction Successful]

"I know his name but not much else. But it sounds like we have made our decision then. I will meet you up at the Black Dragons Den in an hour then. Does that sound like a plan?" She wasn't sure how long it normally took someone to get from VIGIL to the den by foot but she had heard that Rein was a pretty fast walker.
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Re: Vigil

Post by Shadowcaller »

Arkhosia wrote: Nov 19, 2022 8:27 pm [Far Too Early]

"That's an interesting idea. Our problems with the King in Rags give us a pretty good scapegoat for a potential target - but Magtok mentioned to concern of paranoia, and something like that would set some alarm bells off wouldn't it?" Blanche looks to her stepfather for confirmation, before considering the other points. "Snipers never hurt. Do we have anyone on staff with any psychic ability, or mages that might have experience warding against mental intrusions? I'm sure there must be some way we can at least mitigate Prime's powers, even if we're unlikely to truly counter them."
Magtok wrote: Nov 21, 2022 9:53 pm Far Too Early

There's a split-second where Magtok looks like he's about to cry, but it's instantly pushed to the bottom of his subconscious, buried beneath several dozen walls of ego-assuaging hubris.

"Prime thinks I'm just a defective copy of him, a clone with no psychic power, and thus, no real value to his empire. He does not see me or my clones as a threat," Magtok answers carefully, trying to keep himself from specifying whether or not he thinks Prime is right to think such things, whether he'd be able to do anything at all to stop Prime if that stupid ghost felt like stealing his body away and taking his entire life for his own ghostly purposes. Whether or not the very thought of personally standing up to Prime on the battlefield fills him with a kind of existential dread and terror that only two others have ever been capable of inspiring within him.

"I think he would laugh in your face for daring to imagine anyone else as the greatest danger to your status quo," he adds quietly, before wincing again when Blanche mentions countering Prime's hypnotic voice.

"I was working on something for that with MERC, training one of their psychics to try to emulate his power, using a weakened recording of his voice to help her learn. Our progress is...well, I was probably too optimistic, thinking someone could learn to match his power in just a few days. I can share the recording, though, give everyone a headset with a button that will command them to 'kneel,' which is less than ideal in the heat of battle, but still preferable to being ordered to kill themselves."
[Far Too Early]

Cessie nods as Magtok finishes explaining. Wherever Prime was right to think that, she didn't care, but she always had the impression that the Magclones at least had the numbers. But frankly her intelligence was lacking about them at best so she would have to trust the only person that at least was a part of their organization.

"Alright, not ideal. So I suppose we have to go back to your plan then." The commander pauses for a moment as she considers how to start approaching that.
"But answer me this then, does Prime believe that AMEN or any other past 'evil' organization still exist? Since the person freeing him could always claim to be working for them in some foolish attempt to get him on their side. Could even claim they're trying to restart AMEN with him on their side if he's actually aware of it." She suggests.
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Re: Vigil

Post by Ironsmith »

Shadowcaller wrote: Nov 28, 2022 9:59 am [Khafir and Cessie]

Cessie gives Khafir a flat look. "That feels like something you should have been clearer on. Since right away I have two concerns. First I have to assume that either this surgery was painless or that it was necessary for it that he was conscious. Otherwise this might just constitute as torture, doctor. Secondly, if he was conscious this entire time does that mean he overheard our discussion?"
[Khafir and Cessie]

"That will not have been a problem. There are no pain receptors on the implant itself, and my tools do not affect the surrounding tissue." Khafir replies evenly. "It is not strictly necessary for Quire to be conscious for this procedure, but the neural activity associated with sleep would have caused considerable interference. And, yes, he will have heard everything we just said. He will also not remember any of it, as I have the implant interfering with his hippocampus. We are free to talk openly."
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Re: Vigil

Post by Morty »

[Briefing Room]

"Hmm. Yes, I've heard of them. They helped Magtok Prime. It is going to be more believable than him escaping on his own." Wenomir notices Mia's concern but doesn't act on it for now. "Keep us updated and we'll be ready to strike if our target catches our bait."

[Raptors!]

"Naku? I don't believe I'm acquainted." This is, of course, not surprising, if she's Iamar's friend outside of Vigil. "I'll inform Cessie about what happened and handle all the formalities. Go to the clinic first, then take any measures you need to reorient yourself."

[Far Too Early]

"It's looking increasingly as if we can only minimize risk so much. Or even just choose which risk we take," Wenomir says, dismayed but resigned. "Leaning on Prime's monumental arrogance does sound like a pretty good bet."
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Re: Vigil

Post by Ironsmith »

[Briefing Room]

Khafir gives the commander a little nod and scoops up her papers, taking a few steps toward the door before pausing to confirm that she was, in fact, dismissed. If Wenomir and Mia don't stop her, she'll walk out, considering the meeting adjourned, and begin working on the aforementioned projects.

Eun isn't far behind, but she'll wait until Khafir is out of the room before joining her, which makes it entirely possible for either of the other two to stop her without bothering Khafir if they so wish.
Who're you? ...Don't matter.

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Here's to us!
Who's like us?
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And they're aaaaall dead.
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Reinholdt
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Re: Vigil

Post by Reinholdt »

[Extraction Successful]

Reinholdt gets places faster on foot than most dragons do flying.

"That works for me. I'll see you there." Reinholdt waves and then walks off, probably finding some wall to repeatedly crouch next to until the world glitches out and physics fling him to his destination.
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Shadowcaller
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Re: Vigil

Post by Shadowcaller »

[Khafir and Cessie]

"Very well." One just had to accept the lack of such details with Khafir. "So how long it will be until he wakes up and will there be any lingering mental concerns that we should be wary of?" A beat. "Actually, I was going to skip this question as I suspected you wouldn't be the best person to answer it but I feel it's something for you to consider." Another pause as to give Khafir a moment to take this in. "How would you greet Quire once he wakes up to elevate any fears and other distress that he might feel after experiencing all this? You would have to consider his mental state and the best ways of communicating with someone that's been through something many would consider traumatic."
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Re: Vigil

Post by Ironsmith »

[Khafir and Cessie]

"...I want to make sure I understand you properly." Khafir begins, turning to fix Cessie with a stoic stare. "You are asking me to... increase the stress he will feel when he recovers?" She stares at the commander for a long moment, a little frown forming on her face. "...You are quite correct. I am not the person to ask about that. Emotional considerations have, historically, not been my forte. For better or for worse." She shakes her head and turns her attention back to her computer, not seeming to want to wait for Cessie's response.
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Here's to us!
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And they're aaaaall dead.
Ember
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Re: Vigil

Post by Ember »

[Raptors!]

"At the very least, I would check that she is alright before I return to my duties." She certainly didn't feel any different than she did yesterday, despite that being nearly two years ago. But perhaps Wenomir had a point in stressing her need to rest. "Thank you for your aid. I shall head there forthwith."
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Re: Vigil

Post by Morty »

[Raptors!]

Yes, Iamar is clearly the kind of person who needs strict orders to get some rest. Then again, Wenomir isn't really one to talk.

"Good luck, then."

As if sensing that Iamar will be leaving, Coco headbutts her affectionately.

[Returning from Seaside]

After the Vigil airship returns from the Octahedron mission, Calm Reed will request from the commanders that Khafir be examined, due to possible possession by something dwelling inside the reality-warping structure.

If she receives permission, she'll like to hold the examination in one of the observatory towers, away from the base proper. Anyone who thinks they can help in this can do so.
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Re: Vigil

Post by Ironsmith »

[Returning from Seaside]

Khafir, of course, will consent to the examination, as well as formally note that she considers it to be a waste of time, again citing her alleged immunity.

She'll also put in a help desk ticket for her Hotbox, but she doubts Vigil itself will be able to help with that.
Who're you? ...Don't matter.

Want some rye? Course ya do!

Here's to us!
Who's like us?
Damn few,
And they're aaaaall dead.
Hraithre
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Re: Vigil

Post by Hraithre »

[Returning from Seaside - Khafir's examination]

A quick battery of normal tests shows there's nothing wrong with Khafir's cognition - at least when compared to Khafir. Most parts of her brain work as they are supposed to, there is no sign of new neurological or psychological trauma, her eyes react normally to movements, her speech patterns are unaltered, so on and so forth.

What makes diagnosis difficult is the alien hardware replacing parts of her brain. They are at the root of her claim to immunity, AND the observations suggesting she's really not. Distinguishing between these opposing hypothesis depends on how much VIGIL knows about how her implants are supposed to work. Without a good baseline to compare to, no mundane method can tell if something's wrong with them or not.

Fortunately, VIGIL has alternative paths of inquiry, thanks to having members from multiple different worlds. While Mia's worship of a machine deity proved invaluable within the Octahedron, here Calm Reed's spiritual training allows her to notice something's off. Once they have settled in the observation tower and she is free to fully focus on Khafir, she can feel a presence she didn't before. Khafir may have explained how her farsight works to Calm Reed at some point or another, but this is the first time Calm Reed can feel something inhuman looking at her. The presence is localized - the sensation goes away if Calm Reed breaks line of sight with Khafir.

This is unrelated to what Khafir herself sees - she might still be using her farsight to spy on the Octahedron archives, or even something else entirely. The only difference she feels is the conscious knowledge and memory of her "reflection" implanting itself inside her eye. There is nothing odd about her eyes or optic nerves themselves.
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Rebonack
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Re: Vigil

Post by Rebonack »

[Deciphering Cylinders]

Geneva will be leaving the examination of Doctor Khafir to other members of the staff. While a psionic probe would likely reveal whether or not anything has gotten into Khafir's mind Geneva was able to tell that the doctor valued her privacy and Geneva's method of examination requires quite a bit more openness than the Doctor would probably feel comfortable with. There were certain matters of etiquette back home at the Vault with respect to interactions via esp. It's always a temptation to ignore those lines of etiquette in a society where the vast majority of people are F-Class since no one would be particularly able to stop her, but Geneva knows the dangers of setting aside rules.

If you break them once then finding an excuse to break them in the future becomes that much easier.

So instead?

Geneva is working on the cylinder instead.

Secluded in the safe space of her laboratory, Geneva has placed the cylinder in her decontamination chamber. She isn't expecting it to have any dangerous contagions associated with it, whether they be biological, thaumatic, psionic, or chemical, but! Safety procedures are always the best place to start!

The decontamination chamber also has a pretty robust array of sensors so it will likely provide a wealth of data none the less.

While the chamber is doing its work the hippogriff uses some sub-vocalized commands to pull up the data already gathered on the 'lantern' in VIGIL's possession. The cylinder is a data storage device first and foremost and her primary task will be figuring out how to read it.
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Re: Vigil

Post by Hraithre »

[Deciphering Cylinders]

Biologically, the cylinder was almost sterile when recovered, having only gathered token amount of dirt and microbes during transportation to VIGIL. Chemically, it proves to be largely inert. Its physical construction seems to be of mostly carbon and silicon, with some metals thrown in- the film in particular appears to consist of writing medium sandwiched between layers of graphene. It seems to be made so that the blue liquid inside the cylinder's core can flow through, or between, the film layers.

It is not the most efficient form of information storage, as far as physical size goes. While the film is very thin, the glyphs are just large enough to read with the naked eye, meaning the information density is nowhere near that of an optic disc. In theory, Geneva could disassemble caps of the device and unroll the film to read it manually if she wanted to. It's a curious design decision. Clearly, the makers of this device had the method necessary to inscribe all this information in a smaller space, but chose not to.

Thaumatically and psionically, the film part of the construction is largely unremarkable. It may be made of highly advanced materials, but in the end is just a scroll. The information contained in it might be dangerous is some form or another, but that cannot be confirmed before actually reading it. Setting that aside for a moment, that leaves the cylinder's core and the blue liquid within.

The liquid might give Geneva a pause. It is not of mundane matter. Best description for it, is "ectoplasm", a medium usually associated with spirits of the dead. Having seen the Octahedron from the inside and parts of its exposed machinery, Geneva can infer the building used the same substance, through some form of hydraulic transmission, to paint glyphs on its walls and to carry information from one part to another. The nature of the substance might explain the structure's psionically reactive properties. Right now, the substance is inert, but it would be very easy for someone like Geneva to exert pressure on it and make it move according to her will. Origin of the substance is an open question. She saw, through her drone feed, a lot of it flow into, and out of, Khafir's skull while she was physically connected to the building. If it's all originally from living creatures, that would imply... either a very large number, or a smaller number of extremely powerful, psychics having once been connected to the structure.

Back to the glyphs and contents of the film: the glyphs are not immediately legible to Geneva. Fortunately, she knows people, like Mia, who are supernaturally apt in reading foreign languages, even without help of Nexus translation effect. Even more fortunately, pulling up prior research on the Lantern, Mia and Eun already have catalogued the script, and Eun has even worked on a translation. Using a dictionary based on Eun's notes, Geneva could, again, manually translate and read the whole thing, if she wanted to. It would be a long and arduous process, but possible.

Getting a computer to do the same would also be possible and, of course, much faster. The chief reason to not do that is Mia's account of the last time she used a machine to analyze something from the Octahedron: the attempt itself lead to creation of a novel computer program. Eun later used that program to create a partial virtual copy of the original Lantern artefact. In fact, according to Eun's notes, there are now two such copies: one stored on a burner laptop in her laboratory, another uploaded to a small robot with a holographic projector built in. Apparently, both copies are sentient and fairly intelligent. They even have names!

This presents both an opportunity, and a problem. On one hand, the virtual Lanterns are most suited of available equipment to read the cylinder: Geneva has every reason to think they can natively read the language and turn it into audiovisual representation, similar to how a complete non-virtual device would. On the other, based on Eun's notes, the virtual Lanterns do not have full recollection of the Octahedron or its past. Having either read the film would perforce expose the juvenile artificial intelligences to any distressing or dangerous information.
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Rebonack
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Re: Vigil

Post by Rebonack »

[Deciphering Cylinders]

Well!

That's all very important information. Especially the fact that there aren't any contagions. Not that Geneva was EXPECTING any but still better safe than sorry! No sense in being uncautios after all, that's how lab accidents happen!

So.

Ectoplasm. Psionicly active fluid. Geneva is left pondering the purpose there. To make the systems mentally reactive? That suggests a LIVING mind at work in the pyramid. Something that thinks rather than something that merely computes. But that's probably just a point of interface between the cylinder and the octohedron.

Maybe.

A question for another time.

"Let's see what you have to say," Geneva mutters, the hippogriff's body rapidly derezzing with a very electronic sound before resolving back into a little floating pink cat like creature. She flips the latches on the decontamination chamber open with her teek and withdraws the cylinder.

Then?

That scroll is going to be unfurled while the images on it are recorded for uploading and analysis. Thankfully the object just contains writing rather than more esoteric forms of data storage. This shouldn't be too difficult.

As Geneva examines the scroll a constellation of tools begin floating around her, taking samples and pictures as she works.

~Hmm... Well! You're one of those languages that doesn't translate automatically aren't you? Let's see how stubborn you really are,~ comes a mental voice directed at no one as a rather bulky looking device with a suspicious resemblance to a virtual boy floats over and interposes itself between the mew's big blue eyes and the scroll.

Compartmentalized and directed.

That machine nearly as big as Geneva is a focusing mechanism for the Nexus' translation effect. Typically the simple act of not wanting to be understood is sufficient to thwart the translation, but with the right thaumatic and psionic cajoling that can often be overcome.

Usually Geneva uses it for particularly stubborn components that function off of wildly different physical systems to force them to play nice with each other. With luck it SHOULD be able to work on something as simple as text translation, but this isn't really the intended purpose she built it for.

This would bypass the need to use the lanterns or their progeny as intermediaries. Maybe. We'll find out!
Last edited by Rebonack on Dec 03, 2022 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vigil

Post by Hraithre »

[Deciphering Cylinders]

The text proves far less stubborn that it was during Eun's examination. That's curious. It's like something's changed. Maybe the translation effect grows in strength the more people from Nexus interact with the Octahedron? Or maybe the other way around?

In any case, as the process goes on, Geneva finds herself more and more able to read the text as she looks at it through her instruments. It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense at first, but the reason is quite mundane: she accidentally started reading it backwards. The problem is self-fixing, because the beginning of the film contains instructions for how it is supposed to be read. The process proves out to be more complex than first thought. The film is divisible into strips, which can be rotated one at a time. This means that in addition to one, long message going from left to right for each strip, there are additional messages going from top to bottom only legible when the strips are properly aligned, and even more messages only legible when the film is properly wrapped around the cylinder core, the strips properly aligned and light shining through the construction.

One strip in particular seems to consist entirely of instructions for a Lantern on how to rotate the cylinder in proper sequence to read the latter two types of messages. It seems simple enough to reproduce the effect on a computer by creating a three-dimensional image of the fully assembled cylinder.

There is too much text for Geneva to comfortably absorb in one go, but in addition to the obvious "how to read" parts, once she gets the orientation right, there is a plain text message at the very end of the last film strip, signifying where the machine stopped recording:

"So we close the book on the grand project of humanity. Obsoleted by their creations, just like parents, eventually, become replaced by their children. I will go on to create more, but there will be no place for them there. Just me. To you reading this at the beginning of history, the inevitability of it all might seem off. To you, I leave their tools as a testament for what was, what is, and what will be. The light awaits; the cave behind is empty; the lanterns are dark; shadows on the wall play no more."
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Rebonack
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Re: Vigil

Post by Rebonack »

[Deciphering Cylinders]

Or maybe the cylinder text was created with the purpose of being understood by Geneva. After all, she had asked for the information. Intent goes a long way when it comes to leveraging the translation effect, Geneva has found.

So.

Reading begins. Geneva has the benefit here of having two minds, both brilliant in subtly different ways. And both begin assessing the information they have available. The first order of business, of course, is to record and model the information in the cylinder. That will allow it to be accessed more easily. And will ALSO allow for a searchable database. Being able to automate searches and analysis is a pretty important step when it comes to research. Geneva can hold quite a few ideas in her minds at once, but even she has limitations after all.

But for now we'll focus on that last bit of information at the end of the 'book'.

Which is, to say the least, concerning.

Several important details stand out.

Humans are obsolete. That likely explains the vast quantities of psychically active fluid left behind. They weren't needed and so harvested for the purpose of furthering the project. An awful fate if that is indeed what happened. This might also explain the 'evil spirits' inhabiting the walls Mia had sensed. No doubt the body of the text would contain such details.

Creating more. So the octohedron, in the world it hailed from, was both the beginning and ending of human civilization. Their creation, singular, departed for some 'higher' realm of existence? Humans were recreated synthetically and allowed to begin developing again.

And finally, the allegory of the cave is alluded to. Geneva knows that one well. Prisoners in a cave forced to watch shadows dancing on the wall paraded past by shapes waved in front of a lantern. It is the only reality they know. But eventually one of them escapes to the outside world and sees what exists beyond the cave. He tries to tell the others, but they think he's mad and try to kill him; the shadows and the wall are all that is. But in this story it's some kind of synthetic being that escapes? A god-like general artificial intelligence.

Arceus... and Geneva thought her home world was strange.

A message to Doctor Eun and Mia is sent as Geneva continues the work of recording the data on the cylinder. She thinks it would be wise to share her findings and get their perspectives on it based on their interactions with the two lantern AI constructs.
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Re: Vigil

Post by Ironsmith »

[Deciphering Cylinders]

"...ncel our dinner plans tonight." Eun says into her phone as she steps out of the elevator, moving up the hall toward Geneva's lab. "...Yeah. Yeah, it's a work thing. I... no, don't worry, I... next time, I swear, okay? Buhan and I both miss your cooking already. No, really, she's so mad at me right now. ...It's weird that I'm updating you on the voice in my head, isn't it? I must sound like a crazy person." She stops outside the lab and takes a minute to finish off the foam cup full of cola she has in her hand, gingerly placing it inside her Hotbox and pressing the flush button. "I'll talk to you again as soon as I can, okay? I l-" She stops and glances around the mostly-empty hallway, deciding that's still too much company for what she has to say. "...You know." She whispers into the microphone, before hanging up, blushing.

Okay. So.

Time to see what she can do to help with Geneva's project.

Eun takes a deep, bracing breath and raises her hand to the lab door, giving it a meek, quiet knock. "Doctor Richards? Hello?" She calls, barely above normal volume.
Last edited by Ironsmith on Dec 04, 2022 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Who're you? ...Don't matter.

Want some rye? Course ya do!

Here's to us!
Who's like us?
Damn few,
And they're aaaaall dead.
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Re: Vigil

Post by Morty »

[Khafir's examination]

"There is a presence behind your eyes I did not feel before," Calm Reed explains to Khafir, watching closely for her reaction. "There is something else I can try."

She will retrieve or ask for a large mirror. Once she has it, she will put it in front of Khafir and touch it, while looking intently at the doctor's reflection in it. It's a technique used by Dragon-Blooded occultists to perceive spirits and she hopes it will give her a closer look at what's sharing Khafir's head with her.
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Re: Vigil

Post by Ironsmith »

[Khafir's Examination]

"...Are you certain?" Khafir asks, watching the procedure unemotionally. "My understanding was that a psychic presence would be attached to the brain, not simply located in the vicinity. If I am mistaken, I would sppreciate the correction."
Who're you? ...Don't matter.

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Here's to us!
Who's like us?
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And they're aaaaall dead.
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Re: Vigil

Post by Rebonack »

[Deciphering Cylinders]

There's a warning sign on the door next to the lab, printed, laminated, and posted.
Ongoing exotic mass experimentation: ABSOLUTELY no food or drink the laboratory.
Yes that includes you Doctor Valence
Geneva's lab is cozy.

Very little in the way of unused space in here. Shelves, tables, work benches, fabricators humming away constructing components. There's a large multi-part enclosed chamber that takes up the majority of the space in the lab, the first section of which appears to be meant for decontamination and the second holds a large rectangular doorway composed of a chaotic hodge-podge of wildly disparate components. All of the machines here, for the most part, have the look of prototypes with none of the smooth shapes of finished plastic or metal housing.

At one end of the room, surrounded by a constellation of equipment orbiting her like planets around a star, is a small pink cat-like creature floating in mid air. She's wearing a tiny business casual outfit fitted for her non-human body along with a little white lab coat and safety goggles over her large blue eyes. When Eun speaks up one of her ears twitches toward the scientist, followed by the mew turning to face her.

Eun will be met by a mental voice that's gentle but filled with carefully restrained enthusiasm caressing the auditory processing centers of her brain.

~Oh! Good afternoon Doctor Bu, I'm glad you were able to join me. According to your report you've had some contact with technology from the structure VIGIL has recently been exploring, including with an artificial intelligence recovered from it. I was hoping to get your input on what we've found since my area of expertise is mostly limited to teleportation and the Nexus translation effect.~

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Ironsmith
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Re: Vigil

Post by Ironsmith »

[Deciphering Cylinders]

Eun looks around Geneva's lab with growing apprehension. Good lord, this place isn't the slightest bit safe! No buffer space between projects? Fabricators operating in the open, without any shielding? And then there's-

Oh.

Oh, nevermind. That space in the middle is probably where the actual experiments happen. Eun just walked in on a bizarrely-shaped closet, in effect.

Still, trying to find a path through all of this stuff is plenty arduous. Maybe Geneva should clean up in here. Hypocrisy fully noted, of course.

When Geneva goes to talk to Eun, she might notice that the other scientist looks a bit... uncomfortable. Not that she's not used to hearing very real voices in her head by now, but without proper adjustments, the psychicly-produced sound has an effect similar to a microphone picking up the sound of its own speakers.

Ow.

Eun futilely presses her hands over her ears, visibly distressed at Geneva's "voice". Most people seem to understand what the problem is when she does this, so she chooses not to elaborate further. Once the voice stops, she lowers her hands and does her best to return to a state of professional composure.

"...Sorry. I, um... only caught bits of that." She says. "But from what I gather, you need my help with... something like the AIs I talked about in experiment log #[the one with the lantern AIs]?"
Who're you? ...Don't matter.

Want some rye? Course ya do!

Here's to us!
Who's like us?
Damn few,
And they're aaaaall dead.
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Rebonack
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Re: Vigil

Post by Rebonack »

[Deciphering Cylinders]

Hey now, those fabricators aren't the hot-box sort. They use less esoteric means of assembling components that don't expose people nearby to radiation. Perfectly safe! All the potentially hazardous work is kept in hermetically sealed stations spread around the laboratory space. Interestingly the boxes don't have the usual rubber gloves attached to them to allow access. Geneva's finely tuned teek makes that unnecessary.

But then ear clapping.

Geneva picks up on the issue here almost immediately.

Eun appears to be so sensitive to psychic contact that she's reacting to a normal telepathic voice in about the same way that an average person would respond to a D-Class psionic attack. The woman's brain appears to be overly tuned to sensory input and telepathy just exasperates that problem. Thankfully Geneva is skilled enough in the application of her abilities that she should be able to account for that.

~Is this better?~

This time around the voice is, for lack of a better term, washed out. Like a gentle pastel color compared to an eye-stinging saturated hue. More a very distinct impression rather than an auditory hallucination. She's being careful to avoid over-stimulation. This is a condition that she is, to some degree, familiar with. There were a small handful of people back in her home who found strong sensory inputs distressing, even painful in some capacity. A gentle touch was required in interacting with them.
Ironsmith
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Re: Vigil

Post by Ironsmith »

[Deciphering Cylinders]

"...Yes. Loads." Eun gives the mew a little smile, grateful for the thoughtful response. Naturally, she doesn't know what all is going through Geneva's head just now (that would require her to be far more careless with her thoughts), but the fact that she's both capable of and willing to turn down her "voice" provides a lot of quiet reassurances about how this encounter was going to go.

After all, the last time they talked, Eun ended up being... more than a little awkward. Probably something to do with the small elf child holding a nuclear reactor. While that would probably make anybody nervous, she... did not respond to it well.

But, back to the subject at hand.

"I, um, take it you already went over my notes." Eun begins again, stepping up next to Geneva to examine the artifact and catching sight of her own documentation among the research papers. Part of her is tempted to ask Geneva what she thought of her work, but... now really isn't the time for a peer review. "What have you found out so far?"
Who're you? ...Don't matter.

Want some rye? Course ya do!

Here's to us!
Who's like us?
Damn few,
And they're aaaaall dead.
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Rebonack
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Re: Vigil

Post by Rebonack »

[Deciphering Cylinders]

Oh good.

It's been quite some time since Geneva has had to interact with someone so sensitive to psychic contact but thankfully her old skills are still usable. Just like riding a bike! Not that she's ever ridden a bike before but the idiom seems suitable for the situation at hand.

This encounter got off to the wrong start but it's good that they're quickly moving forward. That's the best way for friendship to progress! Maybe with a bit less mental yelling and panicked reactions to fusion reactors. That would be good for everyone's nerves, certainly.

~I have. I considered employing the AIs you unearthed in the translation but I decided it would be best to keep this information as limited in its reach as possible until we've had time to analyze it. I'm in the process of taking scans and setting up a searchable database as we speak,~ come's Geneva's gentle psychic reply. ~And while I've read your report I would like to hear directly from you your impression of the entities derived from the 'lantern' device that was recovered from the Octohedron facility.~

Since that's what they've taken to calling it!

Geneva prefers simple, descriptive names if she can get away with it.

And to Eun's question-
~I'm still in the process of sifting through the data, but from what I've gleaned so far the facility was meant to create an artificial entity that was 'beyond' human. It MAY have killed every extant human on its home world to accomplish its goal and later recreated humanity through some kind of cloning process.~

Geneva tries to convey this information as neutrally and professionally as she can but a little of her horror bleeds through in her voice.

~We had requested a description of the facility's purpose and, well, description provided! The purpose just appears to have been deeply unethical in its application.~
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Re: Vigil

Post by Hraithre »

[Khafir's examination]

The mirror seems to just show Khafir's reflection... at least to Khafir. But Calm Reed might notice there's something... off about it. Namely, the reflection does not look as emotionless as the real Khafir. Rather, the reflection only seems to be feigning apathy to hide what might be anger or contempt.

If Calm Reed focuses, she can catch a glimpse of a blue-on-black illustration of Khafir superimposed on her real reflection. It seems quite weak, merely a shadow of a greater thing. Longer examination would show that, while it is a shadow, it would be better to think of it as a dark silhouette of something looming under the surface of deep water, rather than a shadow cast by Khafir. Right now, it is merely observing Calm Reed, not present enough to physically interact with either her or Khafir. Calm Reed could change this, use her own essence to give it a physical dimension and drag its bulk to the surface... but how wise such action would be is up in the air.

---

[Deciphering Cylinders]

By this point, in addition to the concluding message, Geneva's analysis has revealed two narratives running parallel to each other.

One is about humans and myths they've invented in response to their observations of the world. It begins with figurative "first child" looking up at their parents, seeing a pair of creators older, wiser, bigger and more powerful than them. It continues with the "first parents" looking at their growing child, feeling anxious at the thought that one day they will become weak and old while their child might grow to be stronger, smarter, yet possessing of values wholly alien to them. From them, the thought of the elder and younger gods, a conflict between the creator and the created.

The next chapter focuses on invention of use of force and how observed inequality, whether actual or co-incidental, divided groups of people to leaders and followers, rulers and subjects, masters and slaves. From them, the thought of the superior and the inferior peoples, a justification for such state of affairs - and as its counterpart, the thought of rebellion of the masses against the tyrannical few.

The story continues all the way to industrial and post-industrial ages. From stolen wives rising up against husbands who captured them, to serfs rising up against feudal nobles, to factory workers rising up against the bourgeoisie, it tracks myriad permutations the same basic myth has been given across history. It ends with the former working classes, given immense wealth and opportunities by march of technology, casting their doubts on the very machines that made their wealth possible. The advent of artificial intelligence brings all the myths together, from first to last, with humans imagining the thinking machine as the new oppressed worker, inferior and superior at the same time, an alien child threatening to supplants its parents.

The second story is told mostly by graphs and equations. It takes a while to turn them to an easily legible format, since the linear film does not depict them directly, it only gives instruction for how to draw them. The subject matter is, however, familiar: the law of the vital few, or, as often referred, 80/20 principle. The graphs track accumulation and centralization of resources through ages and how specific technological innovations have changed these. One graph describes how one fifth of people come to own four fifths of lands; a second one describes how one fifth of people come to possess four fifths of overall martial power; a third how one fifth of people comes to produce four fifths of art; so on and so forth. Some times, the relevant resources are possessed by different groups, allowing for, occasionally, violent redistribution and evening of the spread; other times, the redistribution is only seeming, with growing economies giving everyone more, even as overall balance of society remains the same.

In many cases, technology's role as a force multiplier makes the slant even more extreme. An example deals with heavily automated warfare giving less than 1% of humans more physical power than the other 99% combined - a force of millions, capable of suppressing billions. Putting all the graphs together, Geneva might have to ask herself, how does she feel about the "great men" theory of history? For the equations show, with fairly small margins of error, the material conditions where just a few individuals become able to control an entire planet, with all the rest rendered irrelevant militarily, economically, culturally and even biologically. The final nails in the coffin seem to be automation of childbirth and child-rearing, combined with genetic engineering. Once those become feasible, the few do not need the many even as breeding stock to replace the dead, the aging or the disabled. Social mobility all but ceases to exists and stratification turns into speciation.

Notably, general artificial intelligence is not among the technologies required for this to happen. The last revolution before building of the Octahedron was not of men versus machines, it was that of men versus other men.
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Re: Vigil

Post by Shadowcaller »

Ironsmith wrote: Nov 30, 2022 10:57 pm [Khafir and Cessie]

"...I want to make sure I understand you properly." Khafir begins, turning to fix Cessie with a stoic stare. "You are asking me to... increase the stress he will feel when he recovers?" She stares at the commander for a long moment, a little frown forming on her face. "...You are quite correct. I am not the person to ask about that. Emotional considerations have, historically, not been my forte. For better or for worse." She shakes her head and turns her attention back to her computer, not seeming to want to wait for Cessie's response.
[Khafir and Cessie]

"I believe you misheard me, or perhaps I misspoke. I meant alleviate, not elevate." Cessie clarifies curtly as this was not a discussion she wished to have right now. They had been at each others throats enough already.
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Re: Vigil

Post by Ironsmith »

[Deciphering Cylinders]

Eun is conspicuously silent throughout that whole explanation, giving only a little nod of understanding at the end of Geneva's explanation, before going to read the data herself, already visibly perturbed.

And it... really doesn't get any better, the more she looks.

"...I've... I've seen this before." She whimpers, staring at the glyphs and graphs worriedly. "Back home. Or... home-ish, I suppose. Terah was on track to become something like this. The only thing that stopped it was the fact that the masses still had inertia; you'd have to expend a lot of resources to get rid of them, for no real benefit whatsoever. I think hotboxes were to blame for that... they made it much less troublesome to simply leave other people alone and go about your own business, even for the elite. I... I guess this society never got anything like that." She scrolls back up to the beginning of the AI's log, not wanting to call too much attention to the fact that she's seen hotbox-like devices among the technology here, too, and thus that theory didn't hold very well.

"...I... don't suppose machines would see it that way regardless, though." She continues, voice shaking. "Terah had a real problem with a group called the Systerhood. Intelligent machines that were supposed to maintain the infrastructure and let humans live in comparative luxury. It... didn't work out that way." She rubs at her arm anxiously, not meeting Geneva's gaze. "They got it into their heads that, as long as there were humans around, they'd have work to do which wouldn't profit them and we were therefore holding them back. I don't think I need to explain how that panned out."

She's not going to explain how that idea got in their heads, either.

"...Finding this in a building that's appeared in multiple places, implying either dimensional travel or several worlds ending the same way... I'm..." She squeezes her hands together. "...It's disturbing." She concludes.

[Khafir and Cessie]

"...Ah." Khafir turns back to the commander and makes a pale attempt at a smile. "That sounds more like the Commander Mithar I have come to know. Unfortunately, my response remains the same otherwise." She taps a few keys on her computer and resumes her usual stoic stare. "...If you're worried, I do have the capability to trigger various neurotransmitters remotely, thanks to the implant itself. With an appropriate template, I could potentially replicate the sensation of some form of pleasant experience to... take the edge off, I believe the saying is." She looks back up at Cessie. "I cannot provide such a pattern myself. However, you might be able to, or perhaps another humanoid volunteer. If you are that concerned."
Who're you? ...Don't matter.

Want some rye? Course ya do!

Here's to us!
Who's like us?
Damn few,
And they're aaaaall dead.
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